And So the Fall Came

There was a note on the floor.

A small, neatly folded square of white notebook paper, the blue lines faint but recognisable in the rectangle of yellowish light shining through Mulder's doorway. He could see the ragged, torn off edge of the paper from here, the shadows of words printed in black marker.

He knew what it meant, of course.

"I know you're here, Krycek," he said, voice echoing in the still room.

He turned and pushed the door shut behind him, throwing the room into darkness, the dismal orange of a faraway streetlamp shining through the window the only light. He felt vaguely foolish. He took off his coat, hanging it absently on the hook near the door. He had known something was wrong as soon as he had stepped off the elevator; every step down the dim hallway had been worse and worse. Just an instinct.

He leaned against the closed door, eyes scanning the darkened apartment, reaching for the light switch before deciding against turning it on, just letting his fingers rest there.

"Krycek. You aren't fooling me."

He heard a very quiet rustling, something he wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't been listening for it. And then Krycek stepped forward from the dark corner where he had been standing, stopping a few feet from Mulder, just standing there, watching. Waiting. His hair had grown long since Mulder had last seen him, a thick lock falling messily into his face, outlining a cheekbone. He was still wearing that black leather jacket, those tight jeans, a black leather glove on his left hand. Mulder averted his eyes.

"Mulder." His voice was low, husky. Mulder took a deep breath. "What do you want this time, Krycek?" Did his voice sound suitably nonchalant?

"Read the note," Krycek said, gesturing toward the piece of paper still resting on his floor.

And get rushed again? Uh-uh. "No. Why should I trust you?"

"Oh, for God's sake, Mulder," Krycek bent to pick up the paper himself, holding it out to him with a glare. "Here."

Mulder gave him a wary look, reaching to take the paper and trying to suppress the shiver that shook him as their fingers touched. He unfolded it slowly, squinting to read the block letters in the dim light:

No more games.

Mulder froze, afraid to look up at his enemy. "What? Krycek..."

"I'm sick of this. Pretending. I show up every few months or so, we push each other around, exchange insults - though I must point out that that's a bit one-sided - and we part ways again. I've had enough. Why don't we just come clean about what we really want? You're the one so interested in the truth, after all."

Mulder's fingers went slack, releasing the paper, and it landed on the floor between them. He pressed his body against the door, as though trying to push himself through it. "What are you talking about?"

"You know what I'm talking about, Mulder." He shook his head, an agitated, angry gesture, and pushed the errant lock of dark hair out of his face. "I've decided to stop lying. This is where I'm starting."

Mulder swallowed hard, looked at the floor. This is where everything changes, he thought to himself. Am I willing to give up my pride? He killed my father. He betrayed me. Giving in to this would be madness. Sleeping with the enemy. Is it worth it?

Yes.

"Took you long enough," he said softly, both to himself and to Krycek. "Yeah, well...I didn't have much choice before." Krycek reached out to Mulder, the fingers of his right hand hesitantly grazing the slightly rough skin of Mulder's chin. He let his thumb slide slow across Mulder's lower lip, waited for Mulder's encouragement.

"Krycek," he whispered. His hand moved up, seemingly of its own accord, to rest on Krycek's shoulder, pulling him closer.

"Call me Alex." He gently flexed his arm beneath Mulder's hand, making a sound not unlike a purr under his breath.

"Alex. Go ahead and kiss me."

Krycek leaned forward, breathing softly in his ear, chuckling low. "You sure, Fox?"

Mulder laughed, a not-quite-sane noise. "Don't call me that. Yes."

Krycek pulled back, resting both hands on the wood of the door on either side of Mulder's head. Their eyes locked, Mulder's wide, Krycek's almost sleepy, heavy-lidded. And then Mulder moved toward him, and their lips met, nervous and tentative at first. Krycek opened his mouth first, deepening the kiss, and they were both lost.

Oh...you taste of ashes.