Cease Fire: M/K/Sk from the Anniversary Universe
By Cass Andre
September 04, 1998

This is just a short bit of meaningless angst fluff written to celebrate having 150 members. And to break the silence after the day's earlier unpleasantness.
Nutcases on the outside aside, grouchy days on the inside aside, we still have a pretty darn good list, folks. So, let's celebrate keeping it that way.
Disclaimer: Ain't mine, wish they were.
Warning: Schmoopy angst or angsty schmoop. Not a Round Robin

Cease Fire

"I'm home," Mulder called, closing the front door behind him, shutting out the cold, crisp air of a December evening. He always called out when he came in, Alex was prone to react nervously if napping, and they had guns in the house.

But Skinner was home, he noted the overcoat in the closet and hung his own next to it.

He found Skinner in the livingroom, sitting on the couch, Alex's head in his lap. Alex was asleep, the lines of care and survival smoothed away. Resting a hip on the arm of the couch, he leaned down and kissed Skinner, got a smile of welcome.

"What's up?" He eyed Alex, who murmured something unintelligible.

"Later," Skinner mouthed silently.

Frowning, Mulder glanced at the coffee table, saw the bottle of pain pills. Sighed and rose, loosening his tie, heading for the stairs.

Having one's arm amputated with a butcher knife and then cauterized with firewood was the not the optimum method, not even if the limb was afflicted with gangrene. And Krycek's arm had been healthy.

The Russian surgeons hadn't done a really good job of cleaning up the butchery, either. The phantom pain was no surprise, but the pain and resultant ulcers from an ill-fitting prosthesis had not been eased by an investment in a newer, more effective and comfortable prosthesis. Surgery was required, but it had taken a long time to convince Alex to face it.

It evidently brought up too many memories.

Up in the bedroom, Mulder hung up his clothes, swiftly changing into jeans and a sweater. Came back downstairs in stocking feet, leaned over the couch again. The sleeve to Alex's sweater was pinned loosely, but even that didn't disguise the bulk of the bandages.

Bandages that covered a newer, cleaner stump, that hid the removal of damaged bone and flesh.

Just a week out of the hospital, and Krycek was still having bad days where it hurt badly. Days when the pain depressed him badly enough that they worried more about his emotional state than the physical.

He kissed Skinner's temple, grateful again. Skinner, oddly, for all the great stone face routine, was far more tender than he was. He suspected that Skinner had come home early deliberately to see that Krycek was all right.

And had found he was not.

Skinner turned his head, nuzzled him slightly.

"Want me to take over?" Mulder asked, very softly.

Skinner's mouth curved. "Not til he wakes up." Equally quietly.

"I'll start dinner. Pasta okay?"

Skinner nodded, put a hand on the back of Mulder's neck and kissed him. "Great."

He went into the kitchen and pondered, thinking about what Krycek liked.

Found the necessary ingredients in all the right places and started cooking. Once the sauce was simmering and the water ready to bring to a boil, he padded back out, found Krycek sitting up, his hair spiky with sleep, his expression glazed with the drug.

"Walt go upstairs?" he asked, taking Skinner's spot. "How you doing?"

A grimace. "Fuzzed."

Reaching out, he touched Krycek's cheek. "Come here." Gently. And Krycek turned into his embrace, leaned his head on Mulder's shoulder.

"I hate this."

"I know." He stroked the dark hair, so much longer than it once had been. "It's going to pass, Alex, it just takes time.".

"I know." Weary voice. "I'm tired of it."

He was silent. None of them had escaped unscarred. Krycek bore more of his on his body. That was the only difference. And Krycek was a man who had always relied on his body, reflexes and strength and agility, and it must have been hell to lose a limb.

The old guilt touched him, his fortuitous escape from the same fate.

He knew it wasn't his fault, although his stomach knotted when he considered what he'd have done if Krycek hadn't gotten away from him.

He sighed, tucked Krycek carefully against him. Stared at the fire. Felt Krycek's muscles loosen, face shifting to rest against the side of his throat. Held him closely. "It's going to be better, Alex," he promised blindly, not knowing how. Not knowing when.

But Christmas was coming, the first Christmas he'd faced without the usual malaise and grief.

Things had to get better. Things had already gotten better for all of them. They had each other, survivors of events that most people would never believe. Survivors of what had almost happened.

He stroked his thumb over the feathery hair at Krycek's nape, sighed.

Depressives, both of them, but Krycek's bitter humor and edge kept most people from realizing it. He felt for Skinner, dealing with both of them, but Skinner seemed untroubled by it, took it in stride, seemed actually to relish the ride through rough waters.

"Things will get better," he promised Krycek again, felt the soft chuff of breath against his throat, an aborted chuckle.

"Of course they will," Skinner's voice came from behind them; a broad hand rested on each of their shoulders. "After all, the war is over, isn't it?"

Mulder tilted his head back, blinking hard suddenly against the sting in his eyes.

Krycek raised his head, turned his cheek against Skinner's arm.

The war *was* over.

Now they just had to learn to live with peace.

But Skinner knew about that. Was teaching them. And neither of them were slow learners.

Time was all that mattered. Time and this. And with time, they'd *all* heal.