ALL RIGHT

by Flutesong


ALL RIGHT
Author: Flutesong
Email: Flutesong@hegalplace.com
Website: http://www.hegalplace.com/flutesong/ Keywords: M/K Slash
Spoilers: Everything through Red and Black and then AU Rating: NC-17 - detailed MM sexuality
Summary: Krycek finds home is where the heart is. Not a death fic. Warning: M/K SLASH - no kidding
Archive: Sure - let me know where
Disclaimer: CC and 1013 tried to prevent these and all XF characters from going on their rightful paths (They OWN them) but this is my attempt to correct that grievous mistake.

Notes: Thank you to Sue Ashworth for the absolutely wonderful beta. This story is dedicated to Kashmir for all the //research// materials she has so generously provided.

ALL RIGHT

Part 1

Somehow he always knew he would come to die where Mulder could find him.

It was a thought that planted itself in his psyche back when they had worked together, and Mulder had been unable to celebrate the capture and demise of the serial rapist/murderer they had been tracking. Instead, Mulder'd had a moment of unalloyed grief for the what-might-have-been of the guy's life if only he hadn't ended up this way.

Perhaps it had been at that moment he'd realized the quality of humanity in Mulder could, would, must survive even the god-awful rigors of disappointments, betrayals and loss from which his life had been made so far, and from which he was bound to suffer more in the future.

It was then Alex realized that, if he could, he wanted to die and know, however brief Mulder's moment of grief might be, there would indeed be a moment, and his life would have been noted, his death mourned.

Alex had never thought of this as pathetic or egotistical. Every man had a right to want his life and death at least noted by someone.

So here he was. In the next motel room, a locked connecting door the last barrier, and Mulder doing reports and watching TV on the other side.

Alex had been in this exact location countless times during the past four years. He had never breached the locked door when Mulder or Mulder and Scully were in the next room. He had waited until they were out before entering to accomplish whatever snooping he had been ordered to undertake. He used simple listening devices, usually wired through the lamp fixtures above the bed or the bathroom fan, to hear what was going on in their rooms when occupied.

It still amazed him that the two of them never had sex. In his opinion their relationship would have been the better for it. God knew on the occasions he was in the room between them, he had heard needs expressed from both directions.

Scully preferred her fantasies in the bath with her slender shampoo tube providing relief; he had never found an actual vibrator or dildo in her luggage, but she always had that same gel-filled shampoo tube along with whatever new vials of shampoo or conditioner she also carried.

Mulder masturbated more often, usually when he woke in the early hours, from a dream, or a noise, or a nightmare and had time afterwards for a couple of more hours of sleep.

Neither of them made much noise when they came.

He enjoyed listening to both of them and at the same time thought it was a waste. They enforced loneliness upon themselves and he, who was forced to be alone, regretted their stupid implacable 'will' to endure solitude as if it were some kind of merit badge.

Alex still remembered the exact moment when he realized he would rather be in the bed with Mulder than in the tub with Scully, with a kind of baffled amazement.

It had been a cold night in Bennington, Vermont, shortly after Scully had been returned to Mulder, and the room heater was noisy enough almost to drown out the audio from his listening devices in Mulder's room. It was an old fashioned motel, dating from the fifties, and Scully had a room with a large, putrid pink tub. She had made a trip out into the cold and brought back a package of candy, and a split of wine from the liquor store down the road. She took her laptop into the bathroom and turned it on, found an online radio station playing oldies, opened the wine and the candy and settled in to make a night of it in her bath. Alex could hear it all perfectly; the heater in Scully's room did not interfere.

He had felt a vicarious throb pulse through him and thought this might be one of those nights when he could get off to the sounds of Scully's self-directed amusement. He didn't actually have any real consuming desire to be with Scully, other than the need to dominate sexually the woman who held him in such contempt and make her enjoy it despite herself. All the same, she was a naked woman, about to masturbate luxuriously in a bubble bath just a wall away, and that was usually hot enough to arouse him.

He'd even begun to prepare for the show by moving the headphones over to the bed and undressing completely, although he seldom thought it was safe to be totally naked while he was on a job and might need to make a quick exit.

He turned up the feed from Scully's side of the headphones and started to relax into the moment, when he suddenly began to wonder what Mulder would do, if he could hear what Scully was doing. The thought of Mulder's reaction sent a spike of pure lust straight to his cock. He had been surprised and had tried to pass it off as some kind of one-ups-manship over Mulder, since he was going to be the one enjoying the erotic treat, but that answer didn't really cut it.

It was the thought of Mulder's arousal itself that excited him. He threw off the headphones, got up from the bed and put his jeans back on, pausing to add more ice to his already flat coke.

Since when did he consider another man's sexual responses hot, especially Mulder's?

He had listened to guys jerking off since he started going on overnight trips with his high school sports teams. He'd listened to endless men through endless surveillance duties both legit, when he was a Fibbie with a warrant, and on his job for the Syndicate and had never felt more than a twinge of sympathy, knowing that beggar man, thief or assassin, all men did it.

He'd heard Mulder do it dozens of times and mostly thought the guy was an idiot for wasting his potential by always doing it alone when he could have had a willing woman, including Scully, anytime.

He'd never fantasized about another guy or about being with one.

He'd never wanted to watch another guy, although he had done so, perforce, when he was stuck on visual surveillance, and all he'd thought was that it looked vaguely ridiculous, and that dicks looked a lot alike. He'd seen porn, even seen men do each other; he knew a mouth was a mouth; a hand was a hand, and a hot hole was a hot hole regardless of gender. He'd never felt gay guys were all that different they just didn't excite him. He'd been in sex clubs, as bodyguard for various old Syndicate assholes and had witnessed all sorts of perversions. And they had neither excited him nor tempted him to try them.

He wasn't an innocent, damn it! He wasn't under-sexed. He knew he had sex appeal and could charm a girl into bed in either his bad boy or geek persona. He wasn't a latent homosexual. He was twenty-seven and had gotten laid many times.

He paced. Stopped. He looked at himself in the mirror. Saw his face, arms, and chest. He was average -- muscular without being a Stallone clone -- and found nothing noteworthy except a few thin scars here and there. He put his hands on his chest and ran his palms from collarbone to the unbuttoned waist of his jeans. He was all right.

He glanced towards the headphones and started to turn back towards the bed when he caught a glimpse in the mirror of his left hand still at his waist and had another sharp tug of lust at the thought of that masculine hand being Mulder's instead of his own.

He turned back and faced the mirror squarely. He could take a moment to think this out. He would try to understand what was happening. He would make a list. Lists always calmed him and helped him to figure things out.

He was horny. He wasn't going to get laid tonight. A masturbating Scully on one side, and a lonely, driven, most likely horny Mulder, on the other side, surrounded him. That Mulder would likely take great pleasure in killing him barehanded, if he only knew who was on this side of the wall. Being here was exciting. He was always hyped this close to danger and discovery.

That must be it. The adrenaline rush was from his proximity to danger and sex, not really from a personal interest in Mulder, or Mulder's body, or in touching, or being touched by Mulder.

Alex realized his thoughts were wandering; he opened his eyes and refocused. He looked at his hand that had somehow crept to cup his nuts while he was thinking. He was hard. That was a fact. He abandoned his list and allowed the fantasy to do what it would.

He imagined the hand on his sex was Scully's, he didn't wilt, but he felt no zing either. He recalled a particularly good time he'd once had with a tall blonde, and the memory of her long-fingered, manicured hand on his cock. That was a little better.

He stroked his erection through his jeans with his thumb and imagined it was Mulder's hand and Mulder's thumb and went breathless. He didn't look himself in the face in the mirror, just at his hand on his crotch. He imagined Mulder was behind him, naked, hot chest pressed up against his back, arm around his waist, hand on his cock. Fuck, oh fuck, he knew he was suddenly close to coming.

He unzipped his jeans without allowing himself to break the fantasy. He took his erection in hand/in Mulder's hand, and watched his/Mulder's hand jerk him off with fast, hard, long, angry strokes that grew faster, and rougher, and more, and oh fuck!

He caught his breath as he leaned, one-handed, on the dresser, his eyes on the splattered mirror, the other hand on his wet shrinking dick.

Alex looked into the mirror of yet another motel room on another cold lonely night, four years and lifetimes later, and saw he was not all right. He was shirtless, his jeans were unfastened at the waist, and once again Mulder was on the other side of the thin wall with the locked connecting door, but that was about all he had in common with that other night from long ago, when he had been innocent and horny and excited by danger and sex.

No, that wasn't exactly all that he had in common. He was also leaning one-handed against the dresser and gasping.

Alex gritted his teeth at the memory of the pleasure that other hand of his had once bestowed, at the firm, whole, muscular, young body that had once stood and dreamed, breathless in front of that semen-splattered mirror, at that naive kid who thought vicarious, forbidden sex was extreme, and the terror that young fool had felt if his secret desires had been revealed.

Alex faced himself squarely in the mirror. He didn't need to make a list. Everything was already catalogued in bold across his body: one stump, scarred, lumpy and uneven - left side, two bullet dents, badly healed - lower right abdomen, various knife wounds, several badly stitched and bumpy - torso, concave belly and prominent ribs - full front, and he slowly let go his death grip on the dresser and raised his stump, one not yet healed scab - left underarm, where three weeks ago he had gouged out the implant that gave away his location to the remaining Syndicate assholes, and whose removal had spread the deadly, fast-moving cancer that left him gasping now, in front of a mirror on the other side of a thin, locked, motel room connecting door.

To which he had tracked Mulder and where he had come to die.

He watched Mulder through his computer monitor while he got himself ready.

Technology had improved over the past couple of years, and the same thin wires that once transmitted only audio now sent pictures too. He knew Mulder was alone on this trip. Scully was back to full strength after her cancer cure, but was choosing to go with Mulder on his personal tangents less often.

Alex did everything slowly, conserving his strength. He took a shower, shaved while he was in it and then had to sit down on the bed to dry off. He dressed in a clean pair of jeans that hung more loosely than the last time he had worn them, a long sleeved black shirt that billowed and seemed two sizes too big, he tucked the shirt in and thought it gave him the illusion of girth beneath its folds; he put on black socks, but had to pause for breath after bending down to pull on his boots, and when he could stand steadily again, he slicked back his hair with his fingers, not wanting to waste any energy going back into the bathroom for his comb.

He turned off the computer, closed it and gathered up the wires, putting them into the side pocket of his suitcase. He turned the suitcase over, pried open the hinges, reached between the outside vinyl and the inside plastic, bringing out four diskettes. It made a kind of poetic sense to him that he had known Mulder and interacted with him for four years only to end up with these four diskettes as his good-bye gift.

Before closing and returning his suitcase to normalcy, Alex took out one last item. It was a syringe already filled with morphine, more than enough morphine to finish his last task of the evening. He placed the syringe under his pillow with his Glock and sat quietly for a few moments. He went over his plan: unlock and knock on the connecting door, identify himself and see if Mulder would open his side of the door. It was always possible that Mulder would shoot him through the door or upon opening it, but he didn't really think Mulder would. It hardly mattered. Mulder would see the diskettes in his hand and take them even if he did shoot. That and seeing Mulder one last time was the extent of his agenda.

He thought about the past four years for another few moments. Years full of all the danger and discovery he couldn't have ever imagined in his bold and bad days. Years full of violence and adventure and more adrenaline rushes than any conscienceless bastard had ever deserved or hoped for. More lonely nights than he could have ever counted on.

Well, tonight he wasn't lonely, and tonight was the last rush and push beyond the ultimate barrier, and his final attempt to control his own destiny.

He looked in the mirror one last time. He said goodbye to the boy who had once dreamed of advantage and power and hot union with the man on the other side of the wall. Said goodbye to the man who now knew some sins were unforgivable, some paths irreversible and some men -- like him -- were perhaps incapable of finding such union or even recognizing it was possible.

Alex summoned up one last adrenaline high; with the flick of his hand, he brushed some unseen fluff from his black shirt in an arrogant gesture, picked up the diskettes and tucked them into the fingers of his prosthetic hand, sauntered the few steps over to the connecting door. Then he unlocked his side and knocked.

Part 2

"Who is it?" Mulder asked sharply form the other side of the door.

"It's me, Mulder. Alex Krycek."

Silence and then the faint click of a gun primed with the safety off.

"What do you want, Krycek?" Mulder asked.

"Come on, Mulder. I'm alone. Open the door, and I'll show you."

"Why should I want to see anything you have to offer, Krycek?"

"Because it's bound to be more interesting than whatever else you're doing tonight."

"How do you know what I'm doing? Do you have my room bugged, asshole?"

"Big Brother is always watching, Mulder, are you going to open up or not?"

"Put you hands up and don't move until I say so." Mulder opened the door and stepped back, kicking it wide and pointing his gun.

Alex stood, right hand up, and left arm tilted forward, diskettes extended from the stiff fingers, waiting for Mulder to check out the situation. He stood still and breathed deeply. He hadn't seen Mulder in the flesh since that day in his apartment when he had delivered the Brit's warning about the alien resistance leader.

Since then everything had really gone to hell, and he had realized no amount of finesse was going to get him through this round. All bets were off. The resistance had begun killing innocent victims of the alien/syndicate experiments and had recaptured the original alien fetus and most of the Purity project, as well as killing Cassandra Spender.

The last of the Syndicate was in disarray, and the battle lines between those, like the Brit, who thought a new alliance was possible, and Spender, who thought the old alliance would still prevail, were both on losing sides. The resistance was supremely uninterested in alliances. They were uninterested in anything but the final solution to the population of this troublesome planet. The old guard aliens were going ahead with plans for an invasion that involved using the population of earth as cattle, drones and incubators to bring their end game to its culmination.

Either way, everything was fucked up, and he wanted out. He was tired of being dragged from pillar to post and trying to mitigate damage to himself, to Mulder, or to the damn planet. Finding out that he had implants had been the last straw.

Ironically it was the X-rays for the new prosthetic arm that had revealed this fact to him. The technician who had taken the X-rays and measurements had simply handed him his file to take to the doctor who would make the final adjustments and fit the new arm. Of course he had looked at the file and the X-rays, and it was then he had seen the small oval disk lodged deep in the flesh of his chest, near the shoulder socket under his left arm.

He has seen this particular disk type many times. It was a tracking implant. It was a fifty-fifty shot whether this one also contained a disease mechanism or was simply a stand-alone tracker. He had infiltrated as many secret records as he could find, but discovered none that had his implant noted. Someone, most likely Spender, had done this to him secretly, without authorization from the other Syndicate members. No wonder Spender had been able to dog his footsteps so well when he had been on the run in Hong Kong, and hadn't been surprised to see him show up with the DAT, alien-occupied or not.

He could kill Spender, but that wouldn't end it. Someone else was bound to know or find out. Someone always did.

He was tired. Tired of being a dog on a leash and tired of killing. Spender and the Brit could finagle to their megalomaniac hearts' content, without him as whipping boy.

Fifty-fifty wasn't all that bad, as bets went. It was simple, neat and final. Yes, it was triggered and he would die or no, and he would live. That his luck, such as it was, had run out wasn't at all surprising.

Alex heard a sharp knock-knock and refocused to see Mulder tapping the doorframe impatiently with the barrel of his gun. "What the hell's wrong with you Krycek?" Mulder snarled, "I've been talking to you for the past five minutes and you haven't heard a word."

Alex looked at Mulder's impatient frown and thought it was hilarious. After all, the other times -- including when they worked together -- that he had met up with Mulder, it had always been he trying to get and keep Mulder's attention. Now, when he had inadvertently slipped into the ever-closer void that loomed so close, he had somehow hit upon the exact way to garner Mulder's interest. All he had to do was ignore him and voila!

He decided to keep quiet and met Mulder's eyes. He wondered what Mulder saw. Whatever it was; it was enough for Mulder to re-cock the safety on his gun and use it to signal him inside the room.

Alex took a deep breath and stepped over the threshold. He was finally on the other side.

Mulder motioned for him to sit down. Alex sat on the edge of the bed; it was closer than the chair. Mulder still standing, sighed, pulled the chair up close to face Alex and sat down, keeping the gun in his hand. He sighed again and then said, "What have you come here for, Krycek?"

Alex took the disks out of the fingers of his left hand and offered them, palm up, to Mulder with his right hand. "I came here to give you these."

"What's on them?" Mulder asked skeptically. "Rap music or video games? No doubt either would be ripped off MP3's and as worthless as anything else that has to do with you."

Alex took his turn to sigh. He hadn't expected to feel so damn tired, and he'd somehow forgotten Mulder's need to have a verbal skirmish in lieu of the physical shit they usually got into. "These disks contain all the inside information I have been able to gather and keep over the past few years. No doubt a lot of it will be familiar to you; in fact, there are copies of several X Files. A great deal of it will be new and perhaps illuminating. Some of it will need to be translated into English, but I am sure you have the necessary resources. It's all yours now, in any case."

Alex was appalled to find he was out of breath. He concentrated, trying to summon up all his reserves to make it to the end of this tte--tte without falling apart or passing out. Fuck, he didn't want Mulder to get the idea he was sick.

Mulder slowly took the disks from his hand. Alex noted Mulder's fingers trembled. He felt a surge of profound thankfulness, because he knew Mulder believed him. Believed both terribly important things, both that the disks were real, and that he was telling the truth.

He watched Mulder, and it was if he was still seeing him through the artificial distance of the surveillance equipment. The edges around Mulder seemed hazy and the light from the motel room lamps had fuzzy halos around them. He saw Mulder lay the gun down beside the computer and insert the first disk. He fancied Mulder did it reverentially. The whole scene had taken on that kind of otherworldly aura that reminded Alex of old, fragrant churches and night-shadowed, ancient, European gardens.

He had two simultaneous emotions; first - Mulder's intense and rapturous expression of concentration was beautiful, and second - that he suddenly felt like weeping. Alex wanted to laugh at himself, jeer at his sudden sentimentality, but he had no breath left to do either.

Part 3

Alex came back to consciousness with a sharp, painful stab in his chest and thought for a confused moment that he was back in the Tunguskan forest, and his arm was being hacked off again.

Another sharp stab, and then another, and he realized someone was pressing on his chest in a rhythmic count. The stabbing ceased, and warm wet lips covered his own pushing warm breath into his throat. He choked, and the lips withdrew. He sputtered, and the rhythmic stabbing ceased.

After a moment he felt a cool, damp washcloth wipe his face, and the distant babbling sounds became Mulder's voice cursing him. He heard Mulder say 'fuck' several times. "Fuck you, Alex, coming in here to die on me. Goddamn fucker, always pulling a dramatic scene out of your hat. Fuck you, can't you ever do anything like a normal person."

He opened his eyes and saw the ceiling above him. Suddenly Mulder's face filled up the space above his eyes, and he felt Mulder's hand on his chest, gentle on his chest. "Keep breathing, asshole. Just lie still and take nice even breaths," Mulder said in a quiet tone that belayed the attendant curses.

Alex lay there and breathed. He felt Mulder's gentle hand rub his chest slowly and rhythmically, as if he was helping to keep him breathing at the smooth even pace he'd ordered. If Mulder said to breathe, he would breathe, and if breathing meant that Mulder touched him kindly, he was more than compensated for the effort of it.

Alex kept breathing and drifted under Mulder's touch. He thought it funny that he had never once imagined, in all his fantasies, a kind or gentle touch from Mulder. He wanted to think it was hilarious; he had noticed how ignoring Mulder had finally gotten his attention, and now it seemed that dying had finally got Mulder to switch off the hate. He felt instead that it was sad.

He and Mulder never seemed to be able to live on middle ground. They had in common only extreme behavior and extreme feelings. Hate, lust, fear, contempt, derision, distrust, distaste and violence made up their interplay.

He opened his eyes and turned his head to meet Mulder's gaze. He didn't know what Mulder saw in his eyes, but whatever it was, it was enough for Mulder to stop rubbing his chest and to use his hand to push back the sweaty damp hair from his brow, cup his cheek, and run a thumb over his dry cracked lips.

Alex felt the tears run unchecked from his eyes, down the sides of face and into his hair, "I came here to die, Mulder. I came here because I knew, no matter what else, you would have a moment when you forgot to hate me and regret my passing, ill spent though you think my life has been. I came here, Mulder, because I am a selfish bastard, and I wanted someone to mourn, however briefly, and I knew you would."

Mulder resumed rubbing his chest and looked away. Eventually he sighed and returned his gaze to meet Alex's eyes. "Yes," he said, simply, "I would."

The next time Alex woke, he was surprised. He looked around and saw he was in his bed in his room at the motel, and that he was hooked up to an IV; an oxygen nosepiece was hissing dry air into his nostrils. He took stock and realized he was terribly thirsty, undressed to his boxers, and he could smell pizza. He tried to get up and found that his prosthetic arm had been removed as well.

He heard footsteps. Mulder came into view and sat down on the side of the bed. "So, Krycek," he said, "you have returned to the land of the living."

Alex tried to answer, but his throat was too dry. He licked his lips instead, and Mulder reached across him to slip some ice chips into his mouth.

"Is he awake?" Alex heard another voice asking from beyond his line of sight.

"Yeah," said Mulder, "looks like he has a little more color in his face too. The oxygen must be helping." Mulder offered more ice chips, and Alex took them into his mouth from Mulder's hand.

Alex whispered to Mulder in an agitated voice, "It isn't safe to bring anyone here, Mulder. You'll draw attention to yourself, and if they find out I'm here, they just might kill you this time."

Mulder looked at him and rolled his eyes. "No one knows you're here. We've got it covered. I called them to come dispose of your body, but you weren't dead yet so they got all hot and bothered and decided to save you instead."

Mulder grinned a wonderfully nasty grin, and Alex heard the murmur of several voices say, "Yeah right," and, "Sure you did, Mulder," and, "What a load of crap."

Alex tried to sit up and see who was talking, but Mulder put a restraining hand on his shoulder; his left shoulder, and pushed him back down. "You stay still and lie there. You do not move. Move, and I will tie you down." Mulder continued to grin, and Alex began to worry that this rather happily maniacal Mulder was more than he could contend with right then.

He contented himself by saying, " I always knew you were kinky, Mulder." The voices in the background laughed, snickered, and one of them harrumphed.

"Got your number Mulder," and, "Called you on it," and, "Let the man rest," said he heard, in a trio of overlapping speeches.

"Who are they Mulder? The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker?"

Mulder leaned closer and tapped Alex's cheek sharply, "Nursery Rhymes, Krycek? Now there's a scary thought. Alex Krycek, toddler," Mulder shuddered dramatically, and the voices in the background started off on another refrain about being called knaves and who was the butcher and I don't like sailing.

Alex gave up, closed his eyes, smelled Mulder's scent mixed up with the pizza, and felt Mulder's hand press his own in a tight squeeze as he let himself fall asleep without fear, for the first time in, well maybe, the first time in forever.

Part 4

Alex woke to find the room dim, quiet and occupied by a short man sitting quietly, weaving an intricate bundle of wires into neat wads arranged by color and thickness. For a moment Alex thought the man was knitting and smiled at the idea of a knitting gnome.

Sensing Alex's stare the man looked up and introduced himself unsmilingly, "I'm Frohike, Mulder and Scully's," there was an added stress on the Scully's name, "friend."

Alex didn't know how to interpret the stress on Scully's name. "I am Alex Krycek."

"I know," said Frohike, "and you are not Mulder or Scully's friend."

Alex understood battle lines, and that this one was drawn in blood on the sand.

Frohike continued in Alex's silence, "You have pneumonia, and an atypical sepsis from your untreated wounds. You are currently being flooded with a variety of medications to improve these conditions. The wound on your left side has been irrigated and properly stitched. Your blood work is being processed privately, so your DNA profile will not get out, in case you can be monitored that way. You are malnourished and underweight by at least fifteen pounds, and your stump needs several surgeries to correct the remaining fragmented bone and torn tissues. Oh," he went on, "your prosthetic arm may be the latest in standard technology but it is still a piece of junk. Langley and Byers are looking into improvements at Mulder's request."

Alex had to blink several times as he tried to process all the information, guessed they would not find the cancer until the blood work was in. "I need to take a piss." was all he said.

Frohike calmly handed him a plastic bottle and left the room.

Part 5

By the third day Alex knew Byers would discuss disease vectors and survivalist preparation structures ad nauseum and help him with the most personal bodily needs without commenting on his weaknesses, scars or morality. But that Byers would not under any conditions, discuss his illness or what Mulder was doing.

By the third day Alex knew that Langley would ask and extrapolate on the subject of interconnecting technology between the Syndicate and World Governments unendingly, interspersed with pop culture references he did not recognize, but he would not discuss the blood work or where Mulder was.

By the third day Alex knew Frohike would talk to Langley and Byers, but spoke as little as possible to him. He would ask terse questions regarding his arm and tested him unceasingly as to specific motor or nerve responses, but otherwise held no conversation. He was fair, however, and also refrained from making comments about what an unmitigated bastard he thought Alex was, although this opinion, while unspoken, was plain to see.

Alex decided it was because he cared deeply for both Mulder and Scully. Admirable, loyal and without a doubt helpful to them, as well as impossible to buy at any price, Alex had no argument with Frohike's dislike of him. He learned to respect the man and occasionally even felt a need to explain himself. He did not, but even the yen to do so was a startling measure of how much regard he was beginning to feel.

He envied their ease and camaraderie and was amused by their foibles and eccentricities.

He showed neither of these emotions.

He saw and heard nothing at all from Mulder.

By the fifth day he was stronger, his chest was clear, he was bored, and the Gunmen had his prosthetic arm, his clothes and weapons somewhere else. He was desperate to know what was supposed to happen next, and if they had determined how long they thought he would live.

He expressed none of these thoughts.

Week's end, and Mulder arrived with Skinner. Skinner stood in the doorway to his motel room, looked at him unsmilingly, Mulder stood behind him. Skinner drew nearer; Alex stood and prepared for another punch to the gut. Skinner took out his gun, and put it between his eyes. Alex stood still. Skinner traced the gun down his face, across his chest and used the barrel to nudge the stump, Skinner never looked away from Alex's eyes. Alex met Skinner's eyes and stood still.

"You will depose all your history, evidence and eye witness accounts of the Syndicate. In exchange for this testimony you will receive immunity from prosecution," Skinner said.

"I've already given Mulder everything."

"You will elocute none-the-less," Skinner said in a hard tight voice.

Mulder shouldered his way in front of Skinner as Alex replied, "So what you want is a death bed confession, Skinner?"

Skinner smiled a grim agreement and nodded.

"Shut up Krycek," Mulder said. "You owe us, whether you die tomorrow, or ten years from now. With the unexplained burning deaths, the opportunity to move with public disclosure is now. These have been public, and they haven't been able to clean it up or make it go away."

"Mulder, they will still never believe in aliens, no matter what I say on tape."

"I know, and the press will never report that, anyway. But we can tie the deaths to the Syndicate. Many of them and their families are among the victims, and the ones that are still alive are tied to them in old State Department documents and pictures, so they cannot claim not to know them. It will, at the very least, start the questions and alert the public. The conspiracy fringe will get all excited, and the Internet will get into it too. The secrets will start to unravel. The Gunmen will lead the way there and leak the real stuff. It can happen."

Krycek saw the light of righteousness, and the fervor for justice burning in Mulder's eyes and knew he would not refuse. There really wasn't a lot more to say than the information already on the diskettes, but if Mulder wanted to put a face on the crimes and make that face his, so what? He wasn't going to be alive long enough for it to matter.

"Fine. Set up whatever you want. But I am not going on CNN in my underwear, so you'd better give me back my clothes."

They didn't give him back his clothes, they dressed him up in Mulder's spare Armani; he refused to wear the tie.

He testified himself hoarse, answering question after question to Skinner and Mulder, while the Byers, Frohike and Langley managed the audio/video feeds to their own and Skinner's media contacts.

He had to pause and recharge, much to Skinner's obvious contempt, because he was still weak, although the fierce pain in his lungs seemed to have subsided. Mulder was surprisingly patient, and Alex wondered about that fact from the distant place he still seemed to be occupying. He wondered how long it was going to take to die, and if there was more pain ahead. He and Mulder were never private. He told himself he was glad. What could he say at this point anyway that wouldn't be another show of weakness or need?

At long last he had told the entirety of his information, named all the names and blown the cover off as many operations as he knew and was allowed to rest. Skinner took a copy of the tape, disks and files and went away. In return he handed Alex an official document, signed by the Director of the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice that gave him full immunity from prosecution for any and all acts considered in violation of American civil or criminal law.

The Gunmen packed up all their electronics, the medical supplies and all the paraphernalia from their occupation of the motel and prepared to leave. They gave Alex back his personal belongings; his newly adapted prosthetic arm and trading mildly pointed remarks with Mulder about the proof of extraterrestrial life, left.

Mulder handcuffed him to the bed and going into the adjoining room, went to sleep.

Alex lay there and wondered what came next. The powers-that-be had not confiscated his bank accounts, so he had enough money to get somewhere warm and comfortable for however long he had left. He tried to decide where to go and fell asleep dreaming of a beach house facing east, watching a clear sky dawn from the deck.

Eight hours later he woke with a stiff right wrist that was still attached to the bed-frame, a full bladder, and the sound of Mulder's door opening to let Scully inside.

Part 6

"Mulder," Scully started speaking as soon as she crossed the threshold, "why didn't you return to DC with Skinner?" she paused, and Alex heard her gasp when she caught sight of him, chained to the bed, through the open connecting door. "Oh. My. God," she said and fell silent.

"I wasn't expecting you to get here this soon, Scully." Mulder explained, "Sit down and have some coffee; Krycek and I will be with you in a moment."

"Krycek and I?" Scully sputtered, took a deep breath in preparation for saying more, when Mulder interrupted. "Sit down and have coffee, Scully," he said firmly, "I will explain everything in a few minutes." Mulder walked through the door into Alex's room; clothes draped over his arm and shut the connecting door behind him.

"Krycek and I?" Alex said questioningly.

Mulder gave Alex a repressive look, unlocked the cuff and rubbed Alex's wrist briskly. "Use the bathroom first and don't take a year to get ready. I need to get dressed too and she is already simmering. Damn, she must have driven all night once she got my location from Skinner. He was supposed to hold off until today."

Alex didn't know what to think. Ever since he had awoken from what he thought were his final moments more than a week ago, it had all been surreal. The Gunmen, his seeming recovery from the chest pain, the improvements to his arm, testifying, the Federal immunity and now Mulder ready to wash and dress and start the day with him, not to mention Scully waiting for them both in the next room. It was all just too bizarre to process without coffee. So, taking both the path of least resistance, and the imperative to get to the bathroom, Alex nodded at Mulder and went in to get dressed.

Alex washed and dressed sans arm and shirt and returned. Mulder went in immediately, and he heard the shower start. He affixed his arm and put on a long-sleeved gray shirt. Everything was still way too loose, but he thought he looked a lot better than he had recently. He wanted coffee real bad, but waited for Mulder. Facing Scully might mean facing a bullet, not that he minded particularly, it was a quick way to die, and Scully could have her revenge that way. He was sure Mulder would be pissed if Scully killed him before he completed whatever task Mulder wanted him to fulfill.

The more he thought about it, the more he was sure Mulder was acting strangely. Mulder actually seemed to be covering all the bases in a controlled and carefully planned manner, getting one thing after another squared away. A controlled, logical, calm Mulder was simultaneously a source of wonderment and vaguely scary.

Mulder exited the bathroom, and Alex caught his breath. He was dressed in old, well-washed jeans and a plain, dark-green pullover; his hair was damp combed and his face freshly shaved. He looked younger, well rested and to Alex's eyes, he looked like his every forbidden, hot fantasy of friendship, partnership and desire.

Alex felt the surge of combined lust and longing flow once more through his veins and was glad. Terribly glad, euphorically glad, he had lived long enough to feel it one more time. A few days ago he'd had no expectation that this last opportunity could possibly have existed, and no expectation that anything other than his own private joy would ever be fulfilled, but experiencing the joy once more was enough.

Mulder put on his socks and when he looked up to meet Alex's eyes, smiled warmly and said, "Hey, Alex, ready to face Scully?"

"Yes," Alex replied and knew it was true; he was ready to face anything at all, because he had already received everything, and for once in his life there was nothing left to fear.

Scully was waiting, standing, gun drawn and impatient, when they entered Mulder's room. "Put the gun away, Scully," Mulder said. "We are all going to have coffee and whatever sugar covered crap the Gunmen left and talk."

"Mulder," Scully started to speak and once again Mulder over-rode her. His voice was cool and implacable, "I know what I am doing, Scully. Just bear with me. Krycek is not going anywhere, and he poses no danger to either of us." Mulder met her eyes for a long time in one of 'those' looks that Alex recognized as the hallmark of their long and trusting relationship.

Scully subsided, but Alex could tell she was not happy about it.

Mulder signaled for Alex to sit down and poured all of them coffee and opened a box of leftover pastries. They all sipped the coffee and ignored the food.

Leaning against the bureau, smiling, Mulder said, "Wish I had my slide projector. This would be the presentation of all time, Scully." Scully didn't smile, but her face lost some of its tense concern, and she took a bigger sip of her coffee.

Pausing theatrically, Mulder reached down beside the bureau and picked up a large file box. He placed the box on top of the chest and opened it, took out a handful of thick files and, holding them to his chest, began to speak. He told Scully, starting with Alex's arrival, all the events that had taken place over the last ten days. He told her about the diskettes, the information regarding the Syndicate and the aliens; he told her about the plan involving the dissemination of this information through the Internet by the Gunmen and through legitimate media sources by Skinner, the F.B. I. and Congress. He told her about Alex's full immunity. Scully choked over this and shook her head, but Mulder went on to say that prosecuting him would be a waste of time, there were much bigger fish to fry who should take up court and media attention, and a side show featuring a cripple who had already come clean would not only be a distraction but would possibly create unwelcome sympathy for other Syndicate members. Besides, the F.B.I. didn't want it known that they had been fooled so completely by a young agent.

Alex noted that Mulder still did not say that he had cancer, or what the agent intended to do with him.

"Scully," Mulder went on, his voice intensified with emotion, "you have the most important job of all in proving the final outcome." He laid the files on the table in front of her, knelt, took her hand and placed it on the files. "Proof, Scully. Scientific proof. Labs full of experiments, cabinets full of equipment and samples, and you will be the one in charge. You will head the task force made up of CDC, NIH, all the doctors and scientists you want. With your experiences on the X Files, and what you have seen for yourself, you are the perfect person to lead the inquiry. I hope you will want to do this, but the decision is up to you."

Scully flushed and drew the files closer to her. Alex thought her eyes actually changed, became an even clearer, brighter blue. He knew Scully probably loved Mulder, wanted him, that she had probably had dreams and fantasies of the day when Mulder would be ready to put her and their relationship before his quest and the X Files. He also thought the opportunity to be in charge of some of the greatest scientific revelations in history held great allure. Scully, in his opinion, had always wanted to be a leader. This opportunity to shine amidst other scientists and doctors would be another of her secret fantasies. One she might be able to live with in lieu of Mulder's love and attention.

"What are you going to be doing?" she asked Mulder.

Mulder smiled and kissed her cheek as he rose to his feet, "The X Files are going to be on hiatus during the first wave of media frenzy. I am going to take copies of all the X Files relating to the Syndicate, my personal journals, Krycek's evidence and whatever papers are confiscated from the Syndicate during raids over the next few weeks and put together as complete a history as possible. This document will be the foundation for all the hearings, prosecutions and trials that will inevitably follow. Skinner and the Department of Justice figure I have six to eight months, possibly as much as a year, to get it ready. During that time you will do the same with the scientific data, and Skinner will carry out his end with investigations and arrests."

Pausing, Mulder drank some coffee and sat down. "I will be in touch with you as much as possible, Scully," he continued, "Krycek and I will be in hiding, in the safest place Skinner can secure. Everyone figures that we would be the prime targets of likely Syndicate reprisals, and they want us alive to testify. You and your handpicked team of scientists will be secured in a veritable Fort Knox of a lab somewhere, and Skinner will be personally responsible for bringing you all the evidence from Syndicate holdings."

Alex was paying close attention, although he let no sign of his surprise show on his face. He would be alive to testify a year from now? What was Mulder thinking? Why didn't he just tell Scully about the cancer? Mulder and Scully apart for a year? Would she agree to that?

"Will we ever get back to the X Files, Mulder?" Scully asked.

"I think so, Scully. I think if all goes well, I might even get an office with windows." Mulder laughed sarcastically. "If and when that happens, you can make your choice to return or not. I think by that time, you will be up to your ears in offers, Scully, and the X Files would be only one of them."

Alex watched Scully turn this over in her mind and watched Mulder as he sat waiting for whatever Scully had to say. He had that same feeling of displacement he'd been experiencing earlier regarding Mulder's behavior. Something had changed. Mulder seemed more - more comfortable. More secure somehow, less restless, less angry, and Alex didn't understand why. All the revealed data and truths notwithstanding, Samantha's fate was still unknown, and the aliens were still out there.

"I'll do it Mulder," Scully said. "Perhaps after all, I will be the one to actually prove the existence of extraterrestrials," Scully smiled a warm, glowing, entirely loving smile at Mulder, "wouldn't that be the most perfect irony of all?"

Looking at Alex, she surprised him as she caught his eyes, "Don't ever do anything to betray him again, Krycek," she said, "Skinner and I wouldn't have the least qualm in making sure you would pay in full." She sighed, shrugged her shoulders in a quick, defensive movement and visibly forced herself to relax. Hugging the files to her chest, she stroked them absently. "You are legally free of all your crimes, Krycek, and as an officer of the law I will respect that. It doesn't make me happy, and I don't think it's fair, but even I can recognize the larger picture is more important than my personal losses." She stroked the files some more. "The one thing I will grant you, Krycek, is that you seem to have suffered too. I don't know if it evens the score in any way, but it is something."

She looked directly in Alex's eyes, and he felt himself revealed in a way that was new to him. He met her eyes steadily; he owed her that, he thought. When she didn't look away, he was alarmed to feel his throat tighten and insipient tears sting behind his lids. "I'm sorry, Scully. "Alex said, surprising himself and keeping his voice as low and steady as he could. "I'm sorry."

Unsmilingly, Scully nodded. "Now get out of here. Mulder and I have a lot to discuss before I go off and become Intrepid Super Scientist."

Alex didn't look at Mulder. He got to his feet and went back through the connecting door, closing it behind him.

Part 6

Alex waited. He looked at himself in the mirror. Less than two weeks ago he'd said goodbye to that very image. He wondered what was really happening. Mulder must have something up his sleeve to want to keep him here and furthermore, it seemed, take him into hiding.

He was very tempted just to take off. The motel door wasn't locked, and he wasn't in cuffs. He thought about leaving but decided against it. He had come here for a reason, and although a lot of surprising things had happened between then and now, the original reason was still pertinent. He had come to Mulder, because he believed he had reached the end, and that hadn't changed.

Taking a seat, he thought about his parents. He knew they were alive; he even knew where they lived. They'd been okay, just distant, long before he'd actually left to go to college. He'd been a baby born late in life to two people who really had no expectation or desire for children. They had treated him kindly and, he supposed, lovingly. However, they were simply people who hadn't had room in their lives to extend themselves to incorporate a child.

He knew if he returned, they would be happy enough to see him. He also knew if he tried to explain anything at all about what he had done with the years since college, they would not understand.

He wondered if the suffocating boundaries of their small, righteous lives had been part of the reason he had craved adventure and had been susceptible to the blandishments of danger and power when Spender had first found him.

He made himself stop. This was a path backwards better left alone. He intended to end as he had begun, with no excuses and no justifications.

He thought he knew what Mulder and Scully were discussing. They would go through a brief planning session about how and when to communicate, and whom to trust to cover each kind of information. They were a professional team, no matter what the circumstances. He didn't know if they would touch on more personal matters, declare themselves or not. He thought not.

He poured himself a glass of water in lieu of breakfast food that wasn't now available, and experimented with the new functions of his arm. He was amazed at what the Gunmen had engineered for him. He would insist that Mulder make sure they had not left homing devices or surveillance bugs in it, or he would simply leave it behind. He'd had enough of that kind of intrusion in his life.

He found, with effort and concentration, he could bend the thing at the elbow and move the fingers from side to side. With a lot of practice he would be able to hold things and manipulate objects. They had reduced the weight and reformed the cup that held it to his stump. Best of all they had re-covered it with a surprisingly life-like material that matched his skin; at a glance it looked like a real hand.

He amused himself at the idea that if he felt well enough for a while, he might actually get dexterous enough to jerk off using his left hand. He knew if he were going to be in Mulder's company for long enough, he would certainly need an outlet for that sort of thing. He took a long drink of water as it occurred to him that he could pretend the new feel to the hand, that almost life-like feel, was Mulder's hand.

He snapped out of it, when he heard the outer door to Mulder's room open and close, then open and close again a few moments later. Mulder must have walked Scully out and carried the box of documents to her car. He heard a car engine turn over, and the car drive away. He heard the water run as the toilet flushed in Mulder's room and waited expectantly for what was coming next.

Part 7

Mulder came in without knocking and said, "I'm hungry. You hungry? Let's go eat."

"Go eat?"

"Yeah. There's a diner across the way. They have great breakfasts. Let's go."

"Mulder, how can we go? I thought we were supposed to be hiding?"

"Well, at the moment we are in protective custody out the yin-yang. There are forty Federal Marshals occupying the rest of the motel and surrounding the grounds, so unless Spender has machine gunners and snipers about to fly over, we should be okay. The second we open the door we'll be escorted the three hundred yards to the diner. They'll probably insist on tasting the food first, but I thought after being cooped up in here for two weeks you'd like to get out no matter what. Once we are ready to go to the safe house, only Skinner knows the double-blind manner in which we will get there, and that's not until tomorrow - or whenever he thinks is best. Let's go." Mulder opened the door and Alex followed him out.

They ate under the watchful eye of the Federal Marshals.

Mulder talked and ate non-stop. He chatted as if they were old buddies, asking Alex about various playoffs and teams' chances, what a pain the weather had been, and what movies had Alex seen lately. He called Alex, 'Alex,' so many times that Alex's head spun.

By the time they returned to the motel Alex was exhausted.

"That went well!" Mulder said in that eerily cheery voice, once they were inside, and Alex had had enough.

"What the fuck is going on, Mulder? You've been behaving weirdly, even for you. I can't get a handle on what the hell is going on. Having me sit in with Scully. Smiling and yakking away as if we conversed everyday and were friends or something, sports and movies and the goddamn weather! Just stop yanking me around and tell me."

Mulder started to laugh. Alex had never seen Mulder really laugh and was struck dumb. He actually thought about getting one of the Marshals to call Skinner or Scully. Maybe Mulder had finally lost it and all that calm good sense he'd been exhibiting was the beginning of a breakdown.

"I knew it," Mulder gasped out, between chuckles, "I knew that you wouldn't be able to handle normalcy."

Alex was livid, "You call this normal, asshole! I wake up to the Three Stooges blathering techno double-speak for a week, Skinner poking a gun in my face and wanting to shoot so bad I can smell it, testifying my guts out, you appearing and disappearing like the White Rabbit and Scully not amputating my other arm - although I'm sure she wanted to - and then I'm supposed to understand blueberry pancakes and playoff hopefuls as normalcy? I came here to make a little peace before I died, not to join the paranormal circus you live in!"

Mulder continued to smile, "Remind me to tell you about the real paranormal circus Scully and I went to on a case in Florida sometime. Did you know that midgets aren't small all over?" Mulder started to laugh again.

"Shut the fuck up!" Alex yelled. "Are you crazy, Mulder? There is no later. I don't know what you want, or why I'm still here, and I don't see what is so God-damned funny!"

"That's your problem, Alex, you don't get it. You're a smart-ass bastard, but you don't have a sense of humor." Mulder moved next to Alex, and then he got closer, face to face, with barely an inch between their noses, said, "You're not going to die, and I'm not going to ditch you this time, so you'd better develop some endearing qualities very quickly, or we're going to have a hell of a time getting along."

Alex took a breath, but it caught in his throat, and he started to choke as he backed away. He shook his head and warned Mulder off with his hand when Mulder tried to follow him. He tried to breathe and found himself hyperventilating, realized he'd closed his eyes and opened them again to see Mulder approaching him with a full glass of water. He reached for the water, but Mulder threw it in his face. The blast of the water made him take a deep breath. He stared at Mulder, who seemed as shocked as he was and began to tremble in reaction.

Quickly grabbing a towel, Mulder wiped Alex's face. He pushed Alex until he was lying on the bed and threw a blanket over him. "Don't bug out on me now, Alex," Mulder said. "It's all right, everything is going to be all right. I'll tell you everything when you calm down. Just breathe, Alex. Breathe."

Alex breathed, just as he had done that first night. Mulder continued to murmur and stroke his chest, just as he had done that first night.

Alex felt himself begin to cry, cry helplessly, cry so his chest ached and his throat burned.

Mulder laid his head on Alex's heaving chest and said, "All right Alex, it's going to be all right."

Part 8

Alex woke to find Mulder sound asleep in the chair by the bed. He felt awful, and it took him a moment to realize why. He'd been crying. Fuck! He'd been crying, and Mulder had comforted him, and that was the last he remembered. He must have blacked out, and Mulder let him sleep it off.

He wondered if he should be glad or feel happy or grateful. He didn't. He'd been able to carry through on so few things in his life, and the one fucking time he'd gotten it right, it had been derailed. Just what was he supposed to do now? He could just hear Mulder say some stupid platitude about learning to live again and doing things different this time, but Alex knew himself. He knew what he was, and it wasn't someone who was going to live a nine-to-five existence, follow rules, pay taxes or find a wife and settle down to domestic bliss.

He'd spent his entire adult life on the razor's edge, and as much as he'd hated some of what he'd done, as often as he'd been afraid and on the run, he'd also thrived. He'd been to hell and back and pissed on those who fell by the wayside.

He'd hoped the Syndicate and the aliens would fail and had done a few things here and there to aid in that failure. He didn't believe it would happen despite investigations, arrests, trials or hearings. He'd seen too much of the underbelly of humanity to believe it, and like the rat Mulder called him, he'd done his share in spreading disaster and corruption.

He simply felt empty. Even his longing and lust for the distant dream of Mulder felt stale, brittle and barren. What the fuck was he supposed to do now?

"Shit!" Mulder exclaimed suddenly. "Look at the time. We've got to get the hell out of here. We're traveling tonight."

Alex sat up and rubbed his left shoulder, he really hated falling asleep with his damned arm attached. "Let me go Mulder. I can make it on my own, and I will stay out your way and your life from now on. I've given you everything I have on the Syndicate. You don't need me for anything else."

"Don't get bent out of shape. You've done enough dramatics the past two weeks to last a long long time. You are going with me and help write the damn report and spend a few months right where I can see you. Don't think for a minute that we are square. You've been spying on me for years and I get some return time to mess with your head for a change. You owe me and I intend to collect. Your ass is mine until I say it's over, so pack up your stuff. We've got a long night on the road ahead of us."

Alex looked at Mulder and gave in as he saw the man was in full righteous mode. He'd fight against the current another night, and whatever Mulder said, as soon as he was strong enough he could get away whenever he wanted. That's what he did best, after all.

Packed and ready, Alex waited while Mulder went outside to make final arrangements. They started the night in a five-car convoy of identical sedans, which grew and lessened in a random pattern for the first few hours. They changed vehicles several times and finally were met by Skinner driving a beat-up camper. He drove them to a location in the Green Mountains, and there; finally, they were given an SUV and left alone.

Alex stayed silent throughout the Skinner portion of the trip, but he gathered from the conversation between the two of them, that Skinner still believed he was dying, and that Mulder might have to handle his death and subsequent details on his own. Mulder reassured Skinner that he could take care of everything just fine; the Gunmen had everything prepared. Skinner wasn't happy, but the stakes were too high to quibble over.

Alex wanted to know why Mulder had not informed Skinner - and by extension Scully - that he was not going to die. He had a moment of black humor that Mulder intended to murder him himself and hide the evidence behind the cover of his imminent and expected demise. He didn't know what to think, and he was damned if he was going to ask.

They drove back through Vermont and into Massachusetts and the Berkshires. It was beautiful as the day dawned, green, lush and quiet. Mulder finally stopped, early in the morning, at a renovated barn - turned into an upscale private home near a small town. It was private without being hidden and less than a half mile from the main gates of a big house. Whatever security systems were in place were nicely concealed behind the other outlying buildings and vegetation. Alex was pleased. It was almost May and though the nights were still chill the days were bound to be temperate. He was so tired of the cold and the mountains could be as beautiful as the ocean.

The house space was open, and the two bedrooms and connecting bath were upstairs. They overlooked the living room and kitchen from a loft, and each bedroom opened onto the second story deck that overlooked the mountains. Alex took the bedroom in the southwest corner, figuring that as the days grew lighter longer and warmer, so would his room.

After they ate from the small supply of groceries, Alex returned to his room, took a shower and went to bed. Late in the afternoon, after he'd toured the house more completely, he joined Mulder in the living room. There was a huge TV, and an elaborate sound system surrounded by a wall filled with books. The dining room had been made into an office space, with two desks and two computers; the kitchen had a breakfast nook with a small table and four chairs. All in all, Alex thought it was simple, luxurious and comfortable.

"What now?" he asked Mulder.

"We live here posing as writers in the process of finishing up on a book about traveling the back roads of America. Certainly we both have been to enough out of the way places to tell a story or two to anyone who questions us. We come and go to town like normal people, but we do not actually leave the immediate area. Our watchdogs in the area are unknown to me, and they will stay covert. The house and grounds are well protected, and I will show you the security system. The Gunmen made several trips out here, and they assure me that the inside of the house itself is free from surveillance devices, and I trust them to have not planted their own."

"Do I get to come and go to town too? Or are you going to cuff me when you're not around?"

Mulder took a moment to reply. "I am not going to ask you to promise me anything, Alex. You came to me remember? I believe we have a lot of work to do, and it would be better done together. I know we have a lot of personal shit that, for once in our lives, we would be better to work out. I don't know what is next other than that. I think you should stay here with me."

"That's it? Stay or go? No force, guns, fists or drugs? What'd we figure out next, who cooks, and who scrubs the toilet? How about emergency medical notification for next of kin forms? No - that's right, I'm not sick anymore, right, Mulder? Or is that something you've cooked up as Krycek mind-fuck number one. Tell the asshole he's going to live, when he's really dying, so the poor sap has hope and gets all grateful, but make sure Skinner and Scully know the real truth, which is that your temporary roommate is worm fodder in the near future?"

Mulder looked dumbfounded and started at Alex in a way that made him think Mulder was, for once, really surprised.

"Whoa, Alex, you really have Machiavellian thought processes, don't you? I told you, you are not going to die, not of the cancer you thought you had, in any case. Why'd you think that anyway? The Gunmen found a whole slew of things wrong with you, but I thought they told you that. The rest, food and antibiotics took care of it, although you should probably take it easy for a while to regain all your strength and stamina. Yes, I knew you thought you were dying, and yes, I used that as ammunition to get you to testify and to get Skinner to buy it without arresting you or preventing the Grant of Immunity. Yes, I let the powers at Justice know you thought so, and the Gunmen's medical tests were daunting enough to convince them, because by this point your testimony was important, and they were in a hurry to get things moving. I did not tell either Scully or Skinner that you were really dying, only that you thought so and were genuinely ill."

"Machiavellian, my ass, Mulder. You are positively swimming in Byzantine plots." Alex sighed and rubbed the headache behind his eyes, "Okay, I believe you. I'm not going to die. I'm going to get big and strong on country food and clean mountain air, and pay penance Mulder style, lovely."

Mulder was frowning at him in an exasperated way; this was familiar territory after all the recent bizarre exchanges. Alex relaxed, ginned the smirk that always drove Mulder nuts and said, "So roomie, got any aspirin? I've got a hell of a headache," and sat back, satisfied, when Mulder scowled, got up, grabbed a bottle from above the kitchen sink and threw it at him. Now this was normalcy he understood.

Part 9

It amazed Alex that he and Mulder had achieved a sort of peaceful coexistence over the past two weeks. They each lived to their own schedules with the exception of a few daily hours spent detailing the outline of their report, and they ate dinner together. A local woman came twice a week to clean. They agreed on bottled water, beer, juice and soda, obsessive security checks, and the take out menus from the three local eateries - poisoned or not, they were a better bet than either of them attempting to make real food. They disagreed about music, what to watch on TV, Mulder's porn, and clutter. They did not do each other's laundry. All in all, it was the most unlikely setting Alex had ever experienced.

Alex was chagrined to find regular meals, sleep and exercise were indeed restorative, and the mountain air and scenery gave him a rare feeling of well-being. He worked out and practiced using his upgraded prosthetic in the privacy of his room. He had no weapons, and he couldn't find Mulder's. For a man obsessed with answers, truth and justice, Mulder seemed to be awfully lackadaisical about hounding him for answers.

The first time Alex woke to find himself aroused and aching after so long a hiatus in sexual need, he was unaccountably embarrassed. He knew Mulder couldn't hear or see through the walls of the bedroom - and so what if he could? It wasn't as if this would be a surprise to the king of jerk-offs. But all the fantasies took on a different aura when the object of them was peaceably sharing a domestic life, not to mention the same bathroom, with him.

By the third week, Alex began to feel edgy and irritable. He began a punishing routine of rigorous exercises and longer runs both morning and evening. He bought himself a boom box and listened to the most raucous radio station he could find as loud as he could stand it.

The next time Mulder ordered pizza and beer and rented porn, Alex decided to join him on the couch and see who had the higher tolerance for endless orgiastic grappling and cunt shots. He disliked Mulder's 'got you' grin as he slumped down on the couch and decided if Mulder wanted to play adolescent horny boys, he was willing to go the distance.

He was halfway up and off the couch three minutes into the movie, having decided he was an idiot for taking the bait when Mulder yanked him back by his good arm and said, "Chicken."

"So Alex," Mulder said slyly when the two pimply young men, and no sign of any pussy sightings to come, on the screen started to suck face and then move on down, continuing to devour necks, chests, nipples as they began to unzip, "this do anything for you?"

Alex choked on his beer, Mulder pounded his back, and a moment later they were face to face, Mulder was gripping his arms and he felt totally bewildered, totally turned on and totally on the edge of an abyss; his adrenalin rush kicked in with a sharp sweet vengeance.

He was mute with the rush of sensations and when one of the actors swallowed the other actor's cock in one gulp, Alex jerked in reaction. Mulder laughed and his grip tightened on Alex's upper arms, and he shook Alex hard enough so his head snapped on his neck.

"Tell me!" Mulder demanded and shook Alex again. "Tell me!"

Alex couldn't get his breath, what the fuck was happening, what the fuck was Mulder doing? What the fuck difference did it make? "Bastard," he growled at Mulder, moved suddenly and bit Mulder on the neck. When Mulder didn't shove him away, he stayed there and sucked that neck, then bit Mulder again. When Mulder pulled him closer and latched on to his neck too, he growled again and pushed Mulder backwards onto the couch, which toppled the beers and dropped the remote, mercifully button side down so the movie went dark, then climbed on top of Mulder. He never stopped sucking Mulder's neck.

Alex heard Mulder groan, felt the man shift beneath him and suddenly there was a long lean Mulder arching his hips into Alex's, and they were writhing and through layers of jeans and underwear and without hands and without letting loose of each other's throats they both orgasmed.

Before Alex could get his breath back and think, Mulder had thrown back his head and entwined his hand with Alex's, starting to laugh, exultantly.

Alex was stunned beyond thought or words and lay upon Mulder's chest barely breathing.

Mulder eventually quieted and shifted Alex off his chest to lie beside him on the wide couch. They lay face to face, but Alex kept his eyes closed. He wasn't a coward, he thought, and he was damned if he was going to be pathetic; It was just better to keep his eyes closed for a few more minutes and hope whatever reality was going to bite him next was as perfect as the bruises that were tingling on his throat. Nonetheless, he heard his inner voice telling him he was being a fool, and that there was no such thing as dreams that really came true.

Mulder butted his shoulder with a loosely closed fist, and Alex opened his eyes. Mulder's face was very near, and his eyes gleamed. He softly punched Alex again. "I usually kiss after sex, you know," Mulder said. "However, this is a new one on me. What do you think? This was sex, you know, by anyone's definition."

Alex blinked a few times and realized Mulder was as unsure of himself as he was. "I've never kissed a man on the lips," he blurted out, like some suddenly sixteen-year-old virgin.

Mulder's eyes widened, "You mean you do this with guys and never kiss them?" he asked sounding about as young as Alex had just imagined himself to be.

Alex narrowed his eyes and frowned at Mulder, "What do you mean? Do this with guys? I'm not gay."

Mulder's eyes widened some more, "Well then, what the fuck was this all about? I thought you were, and it was like some terrible secret you were keeping. That's why I dared you with the movie. I wanted you to admit it."

Alex did not like the way this conversation was going at all. Leave it to Mulder to blame him for something he wasn't and hadn't started and that Mulder had fully participated in. "Well you thought wrong, and what's more you were right there with me, whatever the hell just happened."

Mulder talked fast, "We, um, we were just lonely and aroused and it got out of hand. That's cool, I mean, that's okay we can deal with this. We used to fight all the time, and now we've been together in this new way and all - we don't have to get weird or anything. I know the statistics and most men have a - a homosexual sexual experience sometime."

Alex heard Mulder's voice drop into a more secure and confident lecturing tone, and he was damned if he was going to let Mulder explain what just happened away with psychology and statistics.

"Shut up."

It was Mulder's turn to blink at him.

"There's no one here but you and me. You wanted no else here but you and me. That was your whole damn plan from the moment I didn't die. So just shut up. I am not denying what just happened wasn't sex, and I'm not saying I didn't want it. You'd better not say you didn't want it either. And," Alex took a deep breath and then another, "I'm not saying I want to stop with what just happened either. I just don't know what in the bloody hell happens next."

Mulder sucked on his lip for a second, then must have realized what he was doing and stopped. "Shit, Alex," he said, "I don't either."

"Well at least that's something."

"Yeah," Mulder looked intently at Alex, "and this is something more." He hooked his hand around Alex's head and drawing him near, kissed him. Then he kissed him again and opened his mouth and lightly nipped Alex's lips and, when Alex opened his mouth, dove in and really kissed him.

Alex kissed him back. It was very different and much the same as other kisses from his past. Hot, wet, intimate, never quite knowing when to breathe and oh god, deeper and wider, more insistent, fighting for dominance and not sure if he was going to get it, not sure if he wanted to have it.

Alex felt the muscles in his lower back seize and push his hips forward again, damp crotch meeting Mulder's bent knee and undulating side to side against it. He heard Mulder moan and felt Mulder's hand leave the back of his head, follow his good shoulder and arm, and wrap around his waist, pushing up under his shirt to knead at the skin above the waistband.

He heard himself moan, and he pulled Mulder's knee more firmly against his groin, groping at Mulder's thigh, and Mulder arched, and his hand found Mulder's erection. He would have sworn - if he were ever asked - that he could feel the blood pulse in Mulder's dick through the layers of clothing. He could feel the exact moment as his thumb followed the ridge of that erection, when Mulder went from aroused to lust-mad.

Mulder pushed Alex's hand aside and fought, fumbling with his damp button and zipper and opened them. He grabbed Alex's hand and put it on his naked penis, beginning to whisper, hoarse and low, "fuck, fuck, good, oh fuck" and pump Alex's hand with his hand on his cock.

Alex knew he'd never experienced such an erotic moment; it wasn't enough. He kneed Mulder flat on his back and fought Mulder's hand for control. He squeezed hard on a down stroke and Mulder let go of his hand, though his hips kept moving.

Alex squeezed him hard, leaned over and kissed him harder. They were both panting. "Let me do it, Mulder." Mulder, his eyes lids heavy with lust, nodded and let his hand fall over the side of the couch.

Alex licked his lips and tasted Mulder there. He looked down at his hand wrapped around Mulder's cock. It was truly a sight he'd never thought he would behold. His fantasies had all been about Mulder doing things to him. He chuckled and said, "I never thought I would do this."

Mulder smiled, kissed Alex with gentle intent and said, "I thought it a million times."

Alex looked at Mulder and saw it was the truth and the truth hurt. So lonely for so long, he thought, both of us. What stupid, stupid fools. With that thought he felt a surge of freedom. Nothing he was about to do could possibly be wrong, and anything he could do would be right. He took his hand off of Mulder's cock and pulled at Mulder's underwear. Mulder gasped, stilled and then helped get his underwear, jeans and socks off, he yanked his shirt off too. He lay back, and Alex's hand shook as he explored Mulder body.

Alex traced Mulder's chest, abs and belly with a firm hand, unafraid he would crush him. He cupped Mulder's sex and ran his thumb along the contours of his penis, smiling when it jerked under his hand. He knew what that jerk felt like from inside, and he loved it, loved it that Mulder was feeling that perfect intensity. Mulder spread his legs, and Alex felt the rest of him, touched him as if he touched himself. Only, it was better. Better than touching himself or anyone else, ever.

He felt Mulder's hand cup his face, and he looked at Mulder, into Mulder's shining eyes, and Mulder said, "Good, oh god, Alex, so good."

And Alex knew that it was and answered, "Yes."

Alex brought his hand from Mulder's sex to his own mouth and tasted the dampness. Mulder closed his eyes and gave a low, helpless whimper of extreme arousal. Alex put his hand back on Mulder's cock, holding it firmly at the base, leaned over and ran his tongue over the pulsing head, under the fluted edge and slid it into his mouth. Mulder jerked again. Alex smiled and using his tongue to hold the cock-head inside his mouth he sucked at it. Mulder yelled, "Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck!" and came in his mouth.

Alex made no attempt to swallow it all; he kept his mouth on Mulder and let the semen fill his mouth, dribbling back down over Mulder's cock and his own hand. He felt the penis become flaccid before he removed his mouth and looked at Mulder's face. He knew his chin was a mess and didn't care. This was no time to hide behind some false modesty, propriety or even blowjob etiquette.

Mulder's face was flushed and soft, and he looked so young Alex could see the boy he'd been before all the cares and pains of his adult life had beset him. Mulder opened his eyes and without pause rose up toward Alex and kissed him. They kissed for a long time without any battle for dominance. When Mulder lay back, Alex buried his head in Mulder's throat, and Mulder wrapped his arms around him, and they were quiet.

Part 10

Alex got up from the couch and went to his room, showered and redressed. He left the prosthetic arm off. He went out onto the deck through the door from his room and sat, watching the afternoon brightness ebb and flow as the clouds moved across the mountains. So he and Mulder had sexual relations, what did it mean? He'd dreamed about it for such a long time, and Mulder's admission meant he had done the same. Did that mean there was something real and meaningful between them, or did it mean they'd had closeted erotic feelings which somehow only became focused on each other?

Alex felt tired. He always resisted introspective time, the way he'd lived his life had made it impractical and distracting. The last few weeks had forced him into way too much of this kind of thoughtfulness, and now he felt himself becoming lost.

He made a list in his mind; it always helped him sort things out. He was not dying. He was committed to Mulder for the duration of the trial preparation. He was fit and strong again and hadn't a clue about what he would do next, except that he would never again be a thug for anyone. He and Mulder were having an intimate relationship. He didn't have any experience at intimate relationships. He knew one night stands and casual occasional repeats, but nothing like facing the same person over and over each morning.

Having an intimate relationship with Mulder was, by far, at the top of the list. He let himself think about the actuality of the sex they'd just had. He was fairly shocked. Even in his imaginings he hadn't thought about the reality of Mulder's male body, the feel of it, the scent, the taste or the kissing. All that kissing stood out as the most shocking thing. He thought it was ironic that the most innocent act was the most profound.

He wanted to shrug it off as a Mulder sexual practice, and thus, without special meaning or attachment. But, for him, all that kissing had been amazing. He hit his thigh with his fist, berating himself. He was not a sap. He was not a romantic idiot. He didn't love anyone. Desiring Mulder was one thing; loving Mulder would be the most disastrous thing he could think of.

He heard the shower stop, and shortly after, Mulder joined him on the deck, handing him a cup of coffee and a sandwich.

Please, Mulder, he thought, talk first. Talk fast and furious and make either sense or nonsense out of what happened. Explain it to me. He ate his sandwich in silence.

"Since you've been spying on me for years, you probably know as much about my adult life as I do," Mulder began. "I haven't been a poster boy for the sexual revolution, and I suspect you haven't either. I never thought of myself as damaged that way or anything like that. I merely focused on other things and for the past few years, finding my sister, the X Files and revealing the Syndicate occupied me almost entirely."

Mulder took a few minutes to eat his own sandwich and swallow his coffee. "I don't know why you became so sexually attractive to me. My feelings were there from the very beginning, but I never wanted to explore it too deeply. It disturbed me, after the bad things happened, still to find so much pleasure and relief in fantasy sex with you in my dreams. It frankly terrified me. Whenever we actually met, I was angry and bitter and justifiably full of hate and disgust for what you had done, but in the privacy of my fantasies being with you wasn't like that at all. I didn't want to think it meant that on some level I trusted you or understood you, or most of all that I could forgive you."

Mulder put his coffee cup on the deck rail and stood to lean against it. He faced Alex. "I want us to continue, Alex," he said. "I want us to keep going. We fit this way somehow. I look at you and know things in a way I never knew about the women I have had. Why that would be, when the most judgmental person on earth should be you, I don't know. I just do."

Alex felt himself slip another notch into the alternate Mulder universe he'd been experiencing. Mulder thought he was judgmental? About what exactly? Cock size, performance techniques, what?

"What would I judge you on, Mulder? I don't understand."

"You've been on the inside. You would be the one who'd know how often I've failed. You've probably been laughing at my ineptness for years. Dumb Mulder, always too late, proof and truth and understanding plucked from his impotent hand over and over. You must have thought what a stupid, guilt-beset ass, putting his friends and allies in danger and carrying the weight of it on his back for no good purpose I am. I mean, forget the almost celibate life, you've probably thought I've never been much of a man, in any case."

"Are you nuts!" Alex was truly amazed. "Are you fucking nuts? You have accomplished more against impossible odds than anyone, Mulder, anyone could have imagined. You never stop. Never give up or give in. You drive the Syndicate crazy and keep them defensive enough to be afraid to kill you outright. I have never been on the inside in the way you imagine, but I saw enough to know they actually fear you."

Alex wanted to punch Mulder. "Okay, I don't understand why you try so hard to keep clean and ethical. I am not made that way, but I have never pitied you or thought for a moment that you were a failure or a fool."

Alex went on, "As for being a man, that is the very last thing I would judge. God, Mulder, the only thing I know - that you refuse to believe - is that you cannot win. I don't mean about the Syndicate or the aliens or the truth. I mean the only winning in life is to keep living and be fortunate enough to have someone mourn you when you die. If you're really lucky you get some time along the way to feel that you are alive while you are living. You have been there Mulder, and so have I, on that keen edge of knowing when everything is sharp and clear and tangible. When you can feel the danger or the rightness like champagne bubbles in your blood, when you can taste the air itself."

Mulder was looking at him with true understanding, and Alex had the epiphany that this, this was why they were bound by longing and lust. This was why they were going to suck each other's cocks, bite and bruise each other's bodies, kiss like lovelorn girls and laugh. Because somewhere in the fucked up mess of their lives they shared this knowledge and no else did. Maybe no one else ever would.

Mulder shifted and Alex saw he got it. Got the connection. "You want me to apologize for living, Mulder? I won't. You want me to repent for fucking up my life, I won't do that either. You want me die with my last regret being that I fucked up your life? I think I have been there and done that now, Mulder. You want to continue, Mulder? You want my body? To use it a million times and be used by it a million more? So do I. Come on, Mulder. What do we have to be afraid of? We are alive, we know it, and what we make of it is up to us."

Alex stood, and Mulder laughed, baring his teeth. He walked up to Alex, grabbed his crotch and laughed again. "No quarter, Alex," he said. "All or nothing."

Alex pushed his cock harder into Mulder's hand, "All or nothing," he replied.

Part 10

The past few, frenzied days were the best Alex had ever experienced, he thought as he sat once more on the deck in the afternoon sun. He was naked except for loose gym shorts and hadn't bothered to affix his arm. He stroked the bruises and tender places on his chest and belly and lazily cupped his dick. He and Mulder had actually gotten a hell of a lot of progress made on the report. It seemed finally getting the hang of letting themselves go native was intellectually energizing. He snickered to himself and thought, yeah right.

He wondered if honeymooners indulged as freely as they did. They dressed, when they bothered to dress at all, in loose, easily discarded, shorts. They touched all the time. It was surely a feast after a lifetime of famine. Alex stretched his back and cracked his neck. He laughed to himself and thought about what pigs they were. It was great. Without what he thought of as female sensibilities, they each took turns saying, 'now,' anytime and anywhere. Sometimes they teased and made nice and aroused each other with foreplay, but the great freedom was in knowing all about the other's dick. And dick certainly ruled around here. Alex got up and went looking for Mulder.

He found Mulder making unfathomable stacks of paperwork out of the neat piles Alex had sorted that morning. Mulder was on his knees, and the loose shorts he wore had slid down to expose the top of his ass. Alex came to a full stop. They had not actually fucked yet. They'd touched and used their mouths and tongues everywhere, but they had not penetrated each other with either fingers or cocks.

He looked at Mulder's lean back. It was golden and smooth in the afternoon light streaming in from the windows. He looked at the crack of exposed ass, and suddenly the strangeness of finding that part of Mulder's anatomy beautiful left him. He thought about the tight, hot hole hidden beneath the shorts, and he was as hard and aroused as if he hadn't come in a year.

Mulder straightened, as if he heard Alex's sudden heavy breathing. He turned, still on his knees and looked up at Alex. Alex pulled his shorts down and kicked them off. He stood proudly in front of Mulder and held his dick, smoothing it out till it stood out equally hard and proud from his groin.

"I want to fuck you," Alex said. "I want to get inside your ass and fuck you as deep as I can go."

He saw Mulder start to breathe more heavily, and a shine of sweat bloomed on his shoulders and chest.

"I want to look at your hole while I do it. I want to see my cock slide in and out of you and know you love it and want it harder." Alex fingered the wet slit at the end of his own cock and watched Mulder lick his lips and pant softly. "You will, Mulder, and when you do it to me, I'll love it too."

Mulder stood and pushed off his own shorts. He was hard too, and Alex gritted his teeth with the effort of not going to Mulder and sucking him off. He was playing for higher stakes, and he wanted an answer. It was if he was at another stage of his evolution, their evolution, and he wanted Mulder to join him in the leap.

Mulder came up to him and slowly, lightly, traced his finger around the edge of Alex's cock. "I thought I'd go first," he said in a whispered challenge.

"Don't come, and you can have a turn in a few minutes," Alex refused to give in.

"I'll be mighty impatient by then, Alex," Mulder whispered again. "I might just hurt you with this big boy, you know."

Alex felt the exaltation of the razor's edge slice him. Yes, yes-yes-yes, he thought, I trust you to take it all. He took Mulder's hand and led him to the ottoman. "Bend over it Mulder. Get on your knees and bend over for me. I'm going to fuck you." He nudged Mulder forward, and the other man went down on his knees.

He got on his knees behind Mulder. He licked slowly down Mulder's spine from neck to crack and, using his hand to spread the smooth cheeks open, he kept licking. Mulder groaned, and Alex licked directly at, then into his anus. Mulder jerked and Alex gripped his ass harder. Bringing his fingers up beside his tongue, he slid one between his tongue and Mulder's hole, pushing it in. Mulder got vocal and said, "God," in a tight uncertain voice.

Alex was more excited than he'd ever been in his life. Christ, if making love to Mulder did this much for him, what the hell had he been thinking, spending all that time getting his jollies any other way. This had it all over skulking about, espionage and conspiracies.

He figured out how to make Mulder's uncertainty turn at first amazed and then demanding. By the time Mulder was pushing back onto his fingers as quickly as he could thrust them, he thought he was going to come from just that, and when Mulder said, "Alex, fuck me now, god-damn-it!" he was floating in that fabulous alternative universe of lust beyond fantasy and desire beyond imagining. He rose and positioned himself and was sure, sure this was right, and they were going to this right place together. Alex pushed in and Mulder pushed back and they joined in a hot slide that made them both yell.

They didn't stop yelling for the whole, very brief time - the embarrassingly brief time, Alex thought later - it took for him to come hard and fast, deeper than he'd ever been before.

Mulder was panting and laughing; he pulled apart from him with a whimper while Alex groaned. He pushed Alex flat and spread his legs. "My turn, my turn," Mulder huffed and spat on his fingers and almost rammed Alex open. Alex suddenly understood why pain could be described as exquisite.

Mulder looked unsure for a moment when Alex choked off a scream, but he regained his momentum as he slathered some of the wetness from Alex's orgasm - wetness that still clung to Alex's cock and balls - into Alex, along with more spit. Alex arched onto the fingers, and Mulder started a litany of curses and demands as he got his shoulders under Alex's legs. He aimed himself up to Alex's entry, swooped down and latched onto Alex's mouth and pushed in, skewering his dick deep.

Alex gave a muffled roar, but Mulder kept on kissing, and soon he was lost in the internal pounding that was half pain and half something bright and sharp which redefined pleasure as he'd known it.

Mulder screamed when he came. Alex owned it a girly scream and decided to use it against any potential Mulder indiscretion and to win many an argument in their future.

They collapsed and lie like straw dolls, arms and legs akimbo, then being men, and glad of it, fell asleep without apology.

Part 11

They got the hang of intercourse quickly and devoted themselves to it assiduously.

Energized by the sex, companionship and other feelings Alex didn't dare express and on which Mulder was equally silent, they continued the report outline in record time.

Alex made no effort to attempt to define his future after the report and the hearings eventually came to light. He really had no idea about what to do next. Mulder made occasional noises about reopening the X Files and proving truths and having Alex be a part of that effort, when the hearings were over, but they were undefined as well. The importance of public disclosure was paramount to both of them.

Each kept a room of his own and spent considerable time alone. Alex thought about the things that had changed, and the things that had not. He thought about intimacy. He and Mulder were certainly intimate, but they were also separate in essential ways. Mulder needed noise and multiple sensory inputs; the TV was always on or the radio, several newspapers arrived daily and Mulder read them all.

He needed quiet and more direct sources of information and had discreetly arranged for his kind of news to be directed, through the Gunmen, to the house. The Gunmen loved it and made much of his contacts.

He and Mulder discussed many topics, mostly in passing, and found they held similar opinions. He thought Mulder had perhaps begun to think of him as equally educated, if not equally intelligent. Mulder did not ask him about his youth, and he didn't volunteer to trade stories.

He thought about his parents and wondered if he should let them know he was about to become the star witness in the biggest media event since Watergate. There would be people who remembered him at home and amongst whom his parents still lived; He began to think maybe they ought to be prepared. They were bound to be hounded once the hoopla started.

He became edgy again, and Mulder noticed. He tried to put Mulder off, to distract him, but Mulder persisted finally attacking him in the middle of a warm night, when he had gotten up to sit on the deck, demanding in a direct manner, "What are you all twitchy about?"

Alex looked at Mulder, leaning at his casual best on the railing in front of him. The night was darker behind him, and the curves of Mulder's shoulder, the length of his arm were both highlighted by the moonlight. Mulder's naked groin was darker, mysterious again in the shadows. He allowed himself to define what he saw. Mulder was, had become, a creature of beauty in his eyes. With the entirety of their sexual relationship in full bloom and the daily interaction with him as the only other person in his life, Alex had mentally relaxed the censors of his private vocabulary.

He'd begun to use the words and phrases lovers did. He'd fought the battle of sappiness with himself and lost. Mulder was his lover. Mulder's skin and shape and scent were food and drink to him now. When Mulder was inside him, he was owned, and when he was inside Mulder, he was home.

"I have parents, Mulder," and he began the tale he had never told anyone. "They are alive and live in Traverse City, Michigan. I grew up there in a small expatriate Russian neighborhood. My mother was born in the US and had actually been planning to become a nun. My father came over via Alaska and Canada in the late fifties at the height of the Cold War. They both worked in a tractor-parts factory until they retired."

Alex gathered his thoughts, and Mulder went inside to put on some shorts and a tee shirt. He brought back a blanket and threw it over Alex's lap before he resumed his position by the rail.

"I thought it was a small life. They thought it was heaven. They were grateful for everything, the church, the paychecks, the two-bedroom house, being able to speak and eat with other Russians, and their garden. I was born when my mother was forty-three and my father almost fifty. They never understood my restlessness, or the life of an American kid. They did try, I think. They saved up, and I attended the Interlochen Arts Academy as a day pupil for my last two years of high school. I was talented in art and good with computers and meant to go to college and study commercial art or maybe set design."

Alex paused and wrapped the blanket more securely around him.

"I went to Europe the summer before college with a group of the music students who had formed a band and had arranged a few gigs; one of the kids was from Germany. I was the stagehand and helper in exchange for the airfare. My parents were very unhappy and forbade me going. I had just turned eighteen, and nothing was going to stop me. I went. It was fun, and I was innocent. I did little drinking, some weed and European girls who didn't say no."

"Then it all went wrong. One of the kids smuggled some hard drugs across the border from Germany to Switzerland. The whole band was arrested. My parents went berserk; sure I was in a gulag. Funny isn't it, that I eventually ended up in one?" Alex couldn't help the bitterness in his voice, or the shrug of his left shoulder. "If they hadn't attempted to use some Russian relations living there to help, maybe none of what happened would have taken place. I was released into the custody of these relations. I didn't find out until much later they were part of the burgeoning Russian Mafia and had bribed me out of jail. With my American passport and my American accent and attitude and my ability to speak Russian, they told me that I was going to be a translator for them for a few months until things cooled off and they could send me home. I believed them, and I didn't want to spend twenty years in jail."

"Translator, fuck Mulder, I was carrying documents back and forth and in the crowd when they blackmailed or threatened or rousted people. By the time I got the gist of what was really happening, I was carrying shit in and out of East Germany, Poland, Rumania and other eastern bloc countries; they weren't about to risk a crazy American kid exposing them, and they held my passport."

Alex couldn't sit any longer. He got up and joined Mulder at the rail. "By the time, almost a year later, I finally got my passport back and was in a country with regular flights to the US, I was addicted to the danger and the adrenalin highs of covert shenanigans. I didn't think I was going to die, what kid does? I didn't carry a gun, and in all that time no one had been shot, so I was never going to be shot, was I? I had 40-fucking thousand dollars sewn into my Italian leather jacket."

"I came back to Traverse and couldn't stand it. My parents were afraid of me. They wanted me to repent and talk to the Priest. The Priest said I should join the military, or become a cop. He said the mindset was the same, and I would be on the right side of the law. It made sense in a sort of ironic way, and so I went to college and majored in criminal justice, of all things."

"Everything on my FBI resume is true, Mulder, with the exception of the year in Europe that is listed as overseas study to improve my language skills. I was a good student. I was glad to be back and pursuing a more normal life. I had learned a lot, and the demeanor I sported made me attractive to a cooler set than I had been part of before. I kept my nose clean too no drugs and no illegal activities. My biggest outrages were a noisy Harley and a lot of one night stands."

"I finished in three years and went to NYC on an internship with the city police for the summer. That is when the CIA first approached me. They said I could get a scholarship to do my Masters, if I chose Political Science and committed to join up when I graduated. I did. I finished in eighteen months, but in the meantime the FBI approached me, and I was more interested in them than the CIA. Blevins himself cleared it with the CIA, and I went to the Academy."

Alex reached out and took the now rigid Mulder in his arm in a hard grasp. "I swear to you Mulder, I swear I was clean. I heard of you just the way I described it to you on the Cole case. I had been intrigued by your reputation, and what you were saying about government corruption. With my experiences in Europe, I knew conspiracies; covert activities and black ops existed and were perpetrated by Americans. When I was approached by Blevins and Spender and was told you were the threat, it made sense. They said your outspokenness and connections on the Hill were your cover, and they needed an inside man to expose you."

"Christ Mulder, by the time I realized they were the enemy, I was in too deep, and I had no illusions left. I was old enough to know I could certainly end up dead. You know the rest. I did what I could here and there to stop them and protect you. But it was never enough, and I began to forget how to care. Spender leaving me in the silo to die woke me the fuck up. Russia was a disaster. You were supposed to get inoculated in return for the use of my alien resistant blood which would give them advantage in the vaccine race between the now split Syndicate."

Alex let go of Mulder and went inside to sit on the unmade bed. Mulder followed, reaching out to grab his hair and yank his face up. "Tell me the rest," he demanded.

"I stayed in Russia. I had papers and an identity there, which allowed me to investigate alien related occurrences and do general security to protect the vaccine tests. When the burnings started, I knew the rules had changed. The new players had a different agenda. I brought back a witness, and the vaccine, in an attempt to force the American Syndicate to wake up and join the resistance. I was betrayed, and I ended up a lackey again to the Brit."

"When I was being outfitted for a new arm, I saw the implant. I realized then everything had been a lie. The Syndicate had been playing me the whole time. I cut it out, knowing there was a fifty/fifty chance I was going to get the cancer. I put all my Intel together and made my way to give it to you. I was going to do that whether I had cancer or not. I got sick so fast, Mulder. I was sure it was the cancer. I was sure, and I was glad."

Mulder let go of his hair, and Alex lay back on the bed. He pushed the blanket off and lay, naked and still. "Am I a monster, Mulder?" he asked in a soft voice. "My parents were good to me; really, they tried. Why wasn't it enough? They are old now, old and they don't deserve what's going to come, when their son, with their name, and his mother's eyes, is revealed as a monster to the world."

Alex closed his eyes. He heard Mulder sigh, then the rustle of discarded clothing and the bed dip when Mulder got in the other side. Don't be kind; don't be kind, he thought. I've already done so much to harm you; don't be kind. Don't forgive me, oh God! Don't love me.

But Mulder was kind, and hard, and he gave no quarter. Alex felt the last of his resistance to the vast alone he inhabited and had never understood, being peeled from him inch by inch as Mulder consumed him.

He heard Mulder's rough voice spew invectives as sweet as honey, and felt Mulder's teeth at his throat, and the sharp, sharp pain was a sparkling benediction behind his lids. "If you're a monster, you're my monster," Mulder chanted, and Alex knew it to be true.

Part 12

They didn't talk about that night again, but everyday Mulder renewed the bruises on his throat, and when he looked in the mirror, Alex knew he was not alone anymore.

Three weeks later a limo pulled up in front of the house as Alex came back from a walk to town. He saw his parents being greeted and ushered inside by a solicitous Mulder.

Alex smiled grimly to himself, was glad he had been out, had a fresh haircut and was shaved and dressed. He took a deep breath of the clean country air, lightly fingered the bruises hidden beneath his collar and went inside the house.

His parents were old and fragile. His father mistook him several times during the conversation for his mother's brother. His mother was bewildered by the changes in her son. It was clear in her eyes, so like his own, that she didn't understand.

Mulder explained Alex had been a spy and had spent the last years in dangerous circumstances. His mother and father murmured questioningly, "He was KGB? He was a traitor to America?" They looked at Mulder and not at him. Mulder was not able to get them to understand that governments were the least of their problems; they only understood 'spy' to mean one thing. His mother crossed herself when Mulder tried to explain the upcoming trials and hearings. Alex knew her only thought was if he was going to be vilified and put in jail.

His father told Mulder about trying to save him when he was younger. They had prayed, he said. They left without touching him and said in parting - as they glanced quickly at and then away from his arm - that God had seen fit to pass judgment, and they would leave the rest to God as well.

He and Mulder walked them to the limo. Alex put out his hand, and his father shook it, his mother stood stiff and still when he kissed her cheek. He watched the limo drive off. He doubted he would attend their funerals.

Mulder was at his most blank faced, and Alex knew he was reliving his own cold encounters with his parents. He took Mulder's hand, and they went back inside. Mulder poured himself a cup of coffee and turned on the TV.

Alex turned off the TV and took the coffee from Mulder's hand. He got on his knees in front of Mulder, So that they were at eye level. He smiled at Mulder and felt the joy of being here with him fill his soul. "Once upon a time," he began, and Mulder relaxed. They did not break eye contact. "I was horny, lonely and angry. I was in the room between you and Scully on some dead-end mission and had you both under surveillance. It was early evening, but you and Scully had parted for the night. She went out and got herself wine and chocolates, ran her bath and was about to make an evening of self-indulgence in the tub. You were in your underwear on your bed, reading reports and the TV was on. I was about to give in to a bout of my own self-indulgence listening to Scully moan in her bath."

Mulder tried to frown at him, but ended up shaking his head in disbelief and then humor.

"I was laying there naked, my hand on my dick, when I had this thought. What if you knew what Scully was doing in the tub and could be privy to it, as I was. I bet you would have stopped reading those reports real quick. The thought of your arousal turned me to stone, and I was suddenly about shoot my wad. This pissed me off big time. Goddamn it, I remember thinking, wasn't it enough you wanted to kill me on sight and certainly would, if you found me in the next room? Wasn't it enough I was assigned to watch you all the time and foil you whenever you got close to anything? I didn't like you, Mulder. I admired your tenacity, ethics and stamina, but I didn't like you. I was really, really pissed thoughts of you were intruding at that very minute."

"I got up, put my pants back on and went to get my drink. As I passed the mirror, I caught sight of myself, shirtless, erection crammed in my jeans, and I stopped. I looked at the guy in the mirror. I went through a long list of reasons that proved to me I was out of my mind. I was so fucking hard, and it wouldn't go away. I put my hand back on my dick and pretended it was your hand. I scared myself, but I didn't stop. I unzipped and jerked off, imagining you were doing it and standing so close behind me I could feel your breath on my shoulder and hear your gasps in my ear."

"I splattered the mirror. I lied to that guy back then, Mulder. I told that young, healthy, whole boy it was danger, adrenalin and rash, forbidden thoughts that made him hard and horny. I faced that boy and told myself I wasn't lonely, that I didn't need a friend or a lover, respect or companionship. I lied and insisted I didn't need you."

"A few weeks ago I talked to the guy in the mirror again. He was much worse for the wear of the intervening years. He was sick and dying and still he lied. He told himself he wasn't pathetic. He told himself that being acknowledged for a moment in death was all he wanted, that he knew you would give him that, and it was sufficient."

Alex reached out, good hand and facsimile, and took Mulder's face. He leaned in closer and looked directly into Mulder's eyes. He saw the reflection of himself there, and he smiled.

"I can see myself reflected in your eyes more clearly than I ever saw myself in a mirror. I see myself in your heart, because that is where I belong. I know myself in your soul, because you have allowed me a space there in its compassionate generosity."

Alex stroked his fingers across Mulder's lips and felt them tremble. He felt his own smile widen. "I have stopped lying. I don't know what comes next, but then I never knew. I made it up as I went along. But I know truth now. I love you, and with you I am home."

Alex brought his lips to Mulder's and kissed him like the lover he was, like the friend and the companion and the family he was as well.

Mulder kissed him back, and Alex knew he was all right and would be from now on.
 

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Flutesong