Business Before Pleasure

by Maddie


Title: Business Before Pleasure

Author: Maddie

E-mail: maddiec24@hotmail.com

Websites: Maddie's Fanfiction
<"http://www.cruelhaven.org/maddie/>;

Feedback: Yes, please.

Fandom: X-Files

Pairing: Sk/K

Warnings: This story contains m/m sexual relationship.

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Only for the movie.

Archive: Full House, RatB, DitB, WWOMB All others, just ask.

Feedback: Yes, please.

Disclaimer: All X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. I don't know who owns Sabrina. Not me.

Summary: Walter schemes to keep Alex away from Fox, with unexpected results.

Notes: This is AU, based on the movie Sabrina. If you see a mistake, it's mine; if it's a really funny line, it probably came from the movie. This story is for Nick Lea's birthday. Thanks to Audrey for beta.

Business Before Pleasure by Maddie

1948, north shore of Long Island

Alex Krycek sat on a branch of the huge oak tree that overlooked the backyard of the Skinner house. He was sixteen now, and thanks to a recent growth spurt, tall and gangly. He was as sweet and as shy as he had been as a young child, and still had a tendency to hide behind his glasses. Ever since he was little, he had climbed the tree to watch the goings on at the main house.

His father, Peter, was the Skinners' chauffeur, a job he did well. And if asked, would say Alex was a little old to be spying on the Skinners' party.

The patio and yard were as lovely as the rest of the estate. There was an area for dancing, a pool, and bar. Alex watched the beautiful people in their beautiful clothes as they danced, drank, kissed and sometimes argued. He sat on his favorite branch, paying special attention to Fox.

Fox was Fox Mulder, the half brother of Walter Skinner. Some years after Walter's father died, his mother, Teena, had remarried. As a result, there was a ten year gap between the boys ages. Unfortunately, Fox's father, Bill, had turned out to be much better at drinking than he did at being a father. Teena had divorced him, and raised her sons on her own.

Alex had a crush on Fox, and had for a few years. Peter knew of it, and though he regretted the problems his son's homosexuality would cause, he supported and accepted his son's orientation. They had been on their own since Alex's mother had died when he was a baby. The household staff had helped Peter raise his only child, and Alex had grown up well loved, if sheltered from the rest of the world.

Alex knew for a fact that Fox liked men, but he liked women also. Fox would sneak away from these parties with both sexes in equal measure. As far as Alex could tell, Walter preferred neither. Alex felt Walter wasn't as attractive as Fox, but he had always been kind to Alex and, as a result, Alex liked him. Walter, he knew, disliked social events. He would stay off to the side, discussing business, and leave long before the party was over.

Alex observed the festivities taking place below, burning them into his memory. Tonight was the last time he would be able to watch a party at the Skinner Estate, as tomorrow morning he would leave for art school.

Alex always been an excellent student, and had even skipped a grade, but it was in art that he truly shined. His father, aware and very proud of his son's artistic abilities, had arranged for him to attend a Parisian art school. He even had a job at a French advertising agency waiting for him upon graduation. Alex hated to leave, though. His memories of growing up were good ones and if it had been left to him, Alex would stay right where he was.

He watched as Fox walked confidently over to a pretty blond in a shimmery dress. They danced for a bit, then Alex saw Fox do something he'd witnessed many times. Fox whispered in the blond's ear, and she then headed off the dance floor. Fox went by where the band was set up and spoke to the leader, then went to the bar, selecting a bottle of champagne. While the bartender dried the bottle, Fox took two glasses, placing one in each back pocket. Fox grabbed the champagne and headed, Alex knew, to the gazebo in the garden.

Alex had jumped down from his branch, eyes following Fox, when his father came up beside him.

"Alex, you should come in now. You have any early flight."

"I'll be in soon, Papa."

Peter sighed. "Goodness knows, I'll miss you, Alex. But I'm glad you'll be getting away from Fox." He started inside.

Alex heard the familiar strains of "Isn't It Romantic" start and wished that Fox was playing it for him.

When Alex let himself into the cottage, Peter was still up. Alex, worried that Fox would find someone before he could get his attention, approached his father, saying, "Papa, I like it here. I want to stay."

"Alex, son, listen. I promised your mother that you would get a good education, that you would have a career and not just a job. Your mother didn't want you to end up like us, as domestic help."

"But Papa, there's nothing wrong with that."

Peter sighed. "I know, Alex. I've never asked a lot of you, I never had to. You're the best son a man could ask for. But I want you to do this, for me and for your mother. Can I count on you?"

There was nothing else to say. "Yes, Papa, of course you can."



1952, Long Island

"Mother, listen, please." Fox pleaded with his mother.

"No, Fox. This time I mean it. Do you never tire of embarrassing me? It's bad enough you got caught by Douglas Whitcombe, and with his daughter. I know for a fact you left our last party with his son."

Walter chuckled from his chair.

Teena turned to glare at him. "Do you find this funny, Walter? Do you have something to add?"

Walter sobered immediately. "No, ma'am," he said, going back to his book.

Teena swung back to her younger son. "Couldn't you restrain yourself? Be more like your brother?"

Fox stared open-mouthed at his mother.

"Mother? Walter never - - he's - - no, I can't."

"Well, be more discreet. There's only so much I can smooth over. And it would be a shame if your allowance were to be cut off," she added threateningly.

"Mother," Fox whined.

"Mother," Walter interrupted. "Why doesn't Fox start coming to the office with me? He has a nominal position already. Why not let him learn about it? And then he might not have so much . . . excess energy."

"Walter!" Fox wailed.

"That's an excellent idea, Walter. Do that, Fox," Teena said, heading out to check on preparations for an upcoming party.

Fox glared at Walter.

"Walter, why do you hate me?"

Walter laughed. "I don't hate you, Fox. You should learn about the business."

Fox pouted, already trying to think of a way to get out of this.



1952, Paris

After Alex got over his homesickness, he actually started to enjoy school. He excelled at his studies, and his artistic talent began to flourish. He was friendly to the other students, but his heart, and thoughts, never strayed far from Fox. After graduation, Alex went straight to work at a prominent Paris ad agency. There he quickly gained the reputation as an excellent artist with a good head for advertising. It also became known that he never dated. He might go out with friends after work, but seemed totally oblivious to the fact that he was devastatingly attractive.

Another artist at the agency, Jean-Luc Godard, became Alex's first real friend. He took Alex under his wing, helping the younger man to fit in. Jean-Luc was several years older than Alex, and nearly as attractive. Several inches taller than Alex, he had long, curly black hair and his best feature was his kind brown eyes. It was Jean-Luc who prodded Alex to see some of the sites in Paris, having reacted with shock when Alex told him he didn't get out much.

"Don't get out much? Alex, this is Paris. There's no other city like it in the world. I'll show you around."

Alex made a token protest. "I'm too busy with work, Jean-Luc."

Jean-Luc made a motion of dismissal. Alex finally gave in, and felt like a fool for not doing it sooner. Paris was an even more magical place when seen through Jean-Luc's eyes. He took Alex to museums, concerts, and on long walks, just exploring. Alex gradually overcame his shyness.



1954, Long Island

As Walter was heading out to the car to start his day, Fox called after him. Fox rushed up, clad in tennis clothes, carrying his racquet.

"Walter, I need a favor."

'When don't you,' Walter thought, but only said, "What is it, Fox?"

"Walter, I've met someone. She's really special and I want to invite her here for dinner."

"Then shouldn't you be talking to Mother?"

"The thing is, I want to make a good impression. Could you help me? Tell her good things about me? Make me interesting. Be creative. Lie if you have to."

"And who is the lucky woman?"

"Her name is Dana Scully. She's beautiful, Walter. And smart. She's a doctor."

"Dana Scully?" Walter smiled. "Don't worry, Fox. I'll take care of it."

"Thanks, Walter. You're a good brother. But since when do you work on Sunday?"

"It's Wednesday, Fox."

"Oh."



1954, Paris

Alex and Jean-Luc sat in a quiet restaurant, eating and laughing. They were celebrating the big account they'd just gotten. They worked together regularly now, and were doing well. They saw a lot of each other, and one day Alex realized with complete surprise that it had been days since he'd last thought of Fox. Jean-Luc made no secret of the fact that he wanted Alex, but didn't pressure him, content with the time they spent together.

After their meal, Jean-Luc asked if Alex would like to come to his place for a drink. Alex usually refused, but this time, he said yes, delighting in the way Jean-Luc's eyes darkened when he did. When they got to Jean-Luc's loft, Alex fixed their drinks while the other man put on some music.

Jean-Luc walked over to Alex. "Dance?" He asked, laughing.

Alex expected it to feel awkward, but found he liked the feel of being in Jean-Luc's arms as they danced. When the song ended, Jean-Luc didn't let go, only held Alex as he leaned down to kiss him. He led Alex back to the couch.

"Alex, please don't be afraid. I'd never hurt you. I only want to love you."

Alex swallowed. "I know, Jean-Luc. But I've never . . ."

"It's all right." He took Alex in his arms, stroking his back until the younger man relaxed. He started to nuzzle Alex's neck, then sucked gently. Alex moaned, leaning into it, as one song ended and another began.

"Jean-Luc, wait," Alex said, pushing away as "Isn't It Romantic" started to play.

"Alex?" Jean-Luc said, confused. "Don't be afraid."

"It's not that. Let go!" Alex wrenched himself from Jean-Luc's embrace.

Jean-Luc sat there, hurt in his eyes. "What did I do?"

"Nothing," Alex told him. "It's me, not you. I'm sorry, Jean-Luc."

"I don't understand."

"I'm sorry," Alex repeated. And fled from Jean-Luc's apartment.



Long Island

Margaret Scully and Teena Mulder sat looking at wedding invitations. William Scully had Fox cornered by the bar.

Walter and Dana were standing by the fire, drinking and chatting.

"Shouldn't you be giving your opinion on this wedding stuff?" Walter asked.

Dana shook her head. "This is Mom's production. She's convinced Melissa's never going to marry and that this is her only chance. I don't mind. My practice takes up so much time."

"You know, you're having a good effect on Fox."

"Thank you, Walter. Mom's always telling me I work too many hours. I've taken more time off since we got together, so she thinks Fox is a good influence on me. Let me go rescue Fox. With Dad's military background, he comes on a little strong sometimes."



Paris

Alex opened the latest letter from his father, eager for news from home. When he read the last line, he had to sit down.

Fox was getting married.


"Is he in his office, Kim?" Fox demanded.

"Yes, but he's in a meeting - - " Kim began, but Fox was gone.

Walter looked up in surprise as Fox slammed into his office. He couldn't remember the last time Fox had been there, having succeeded in changing his mother's mind about sending him to work.

"Fox, we're in the middle of something here."

"Walter, when's the last time I willingly came here?"

Walter stood up. "Gentlemen, we'll continue this in ten minutes."

After they were gone, Walter turned to Fox. "Now, what is so important?"

Fox looked daggers at his brother and slammed a newspaper down on his desk.

"What the hell is this? 'The merger between Skinner Industries and Scully Plastics appears close, no doubt helped by the engagement of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully'."

"What are you upset about, Fox?"

"I see why you've been so eager for us to get together."

"Fox, you came to me. 'Help me, Walter. Make me interesting. Be creative. Lie.' I could burn in hell for the lies I've told about you, Fox."

"But . . . it all happened so quickly. I got carried away."

"That's too bad, Fox. You have to go through with it now."

"This is my life, Walter."

"I pay for your life, Fox. My life makes your life possible."

"I resent that."

"So do I!"

"Walter, you can't make me marry her."

Walter reached into his desk drawer and took out a gun.

"Now, wait a minute, Walter - - "

Walter turned and fired at a piece of plastic on a stand. He went over and picked it up, studying it carefully. "Not a scratch. Look at this, Fox." He held it out. "This is the future, Fox. In addition to giving jobs to who knows how many people, it's going to make us even richer. It will keep you in the manner to which you've become accustomed. That's why you're going through with this marriage."

Fox turned and left the office.


Alex stood waiting for his father to arrive. He looked very elegant in light summer suit and dark shades. As he was checking his watch for the tenth time in as many minutes, a convertible sped by, then abruptly braked and backed up. Fox Mulder leaned over to ask, "Do you need a ride?"

"It would appear I do," Alex said.

"Get in."

Alex put his luggage in the back and climbed in.

"So, do you live nearby? You seem familiar." Fox said.

"Yes, I grew up here, but I've been away for a few years."

"I figured. I would've noticed you. Where can I take you?"

"On Woodland Lane."

"Hey, that's where I live."

"I know," Alex said, laughing, eyes sparkling behind his sunglasses.

"You obviously know me. I know you, too, right?"

"Here's my driveway," Alex told him.

Fox swung into the Skinners' drive. He parked in front of the garage. "So, are you going to tell me who you are?"

Walter, just getting home from work, waved to Alex. "Hello, Alex. How was Paris?"

As Fox stood there in shock, Alex answered, "Hi, Walter. Paris was great."

"Alex! Damn, you've changed." Fox observed.

"For the better, I hope."

"Definitely. Say, we're having a party tonight. Would you come? As sort of a welcome home for you."

Alex smiled in delight. "I'd love to, Fox."


"Alex, it's so good to have you home. I'm sorry I couldn't get there to pick you up." Peter said.

"That's all right, Papa. It's good to be home. Come on, I have presents for you."


Alex looked stunning in his dark evening clothes. He and Fox made a striking pair. And Fox had barely left his side all night. They were talking when Teena walked up.

"Alex?" she asked.

"Yes, Mrs. Mulder?"

"Oh, my. You certainly grew up while you were away. Are you glad to be home?"

"Yes, ma'am, very much. Paris is amazing, but there's nowhere like home."

"Well, I'm sure your father is glad to have you back. Excuse me, Alex. Fox, you shouldn't monopolize Alex's company. Let him mingle." Teena said as she headed off to speak to another guest.

"You know, I've been to every party you've ever had. Right there, in that tree. Now, here we are . . . in front of God and everybody. It would be nice if we could dance," Alex said wistfully, staring at the couples on the dance floor.

"That would liven this party up, I'm sure," Fox laughed. "But why don't we go somewhere a little more private? The gazebo, maybe?"

Alex smiled. "Sure."

"Why don't you head out, and I'll be there in a minute."

Alex went out as Fox headed to the bandleader. He'd gotten the glasses and was about to grab the champagne when Teena caught up with him.

"Fox, I want to see you in the library. Now."

"But, Mother, I - - "

"Now, Fox," she said implacably.

When they got to the library, Walter was there.

"What's going on?" Fox asked suspiciously.

"My question exactly, young man. What are you doing?" Teena asked.

"What?" he asked innocently.

"Fox, I did not raise you this way, did I? Walter?"

Walter held his hands up.

"Fox. You are engaged to a lovely young woman. Tell me you're not planning a dalliance with the chauffeur's son."

Fox started to protest. "Mother, it's not like that."

Teena raised her eyebrows. "Do you think I'm stupid, Fox?"

"Wait, Mother," Walter interrupted. "We should at least listen to what Fox has to say. Fox, sit down and tell us."

Fox headed to a chair as Teena said, "I don't need anyone to tell me. It's obvious, and it's so tawdry. And if the Scullys find out . . ."

"Mother!" Fox yelled, getting angry.

"Mother, Fox is a grown man. I'm sure he knows what he's doing. Come on, Fox, sit down and we can talk about this calmly."

"Thank you, Walter," Fox said, sinking gratefully into a straight-backed chair. There was a crunching sound, then Fox bellowed in pain and raised up quickly.

Teena moved to him in a hurry. "Fox? My God, what happened?"

"I sat down on champagne glasses," Fox gasped.

"Champagne glasses? On the chair? Walter, see to Fox. I'm going to call Dr. Hopkins."

Walter went to Fox and helped him to carefully stand, then guided him to the small sofa so he could lie down.

"Walter, find Alex. Explain that I can't make it," Fox told his brother urgently.

"I will, Fox, don't worry," Walter said soothingly.

"And you'll try and understand about this?"

"Of course I understand, Fox. After all, Alex is a handsome man. I can see why you'd be attracted."

"Even if this means calling off the engagement?"

"What matters is your happiness, Fox."

"Thank you, Walter." Fox said, relieved.

Teena rushed back in. "Dr. Hopkins is on his way."

"Walter?" Fox urged.

"I'm going."


Alex waited in the gazebo, listening to the music and anticipating Fox's arrival. When he heard footsteps on the flagstone path, he turned to see not Fox, but Walter, champagne in hand.

"Hello, Alex."

"Fox isn't coming."

"No, he sends his regrets. He had a bit of an accident, and sent me in his place."

"Is he all right?" Alex asked, concerned.

"He'll be fine. Nothing serious."

Walter busied himself opening the champagne and poured them some. Walter held up his glass.

"Welcome home, Alex."

"Thank you, Walter."

Just then, the band started "Isn't It Romantic". Alex smiled, and Walter set their glasses down and held out his hand. Alex almost giggled at the idea of dancing with Walter Skinner. But Walter looked so earnest that he stepped up and took his hand. They danced slowly and silently. Alex had never seen Walter dance at any of the parties, but Walter was a good dancer. When the song ended, Walter released Alex and retrieved their glasses.

"Did they send you to deal with me?" Alex asked quietly.

"Deal with you?" Walter echoed.

"Like in a movie. This would be where the rich family's emissary offers the poor but honest waitress ten thousand dollars to go away."

"Only ten thousand? No self respecting emissary would offer less than one hundred thousand."

"And no self respecting waitress would accept it."

"Good boy," Walter said and leaned over and kissed Alex. He was gone before Alex recovered.

Walter went back in the house, where Dr. Hopkins was just finishing up with Fox. After the doctor went to find Teena, Fox asked, "How did it go?"

"Everything's fine," Walter assured him. "You know, Fox, I was thinking of asking Alex to go sailing tomorrow. As sort of a gesture, to let him know we're all right with this. What do you think?"

"You would do that, Walter?"

"Of course, Fox."

"That would be nice. Thank you."

"Well, I'm headed to bed. You get some rest."

Walter stopped the doctor before he left. "Jesse, could you give Fox something really strong for pain? Morphine, maybe?"

"Walter!"

"Well, something like that. You know how sensitive he is to pain. I don't want him suffering."

"I'll give him the strongest thing I feel safe with."

"Thanks, Jesse."

On his way to bed, his mother caught him. "Walter, what are we going to do about this?"

"It's being handled, Mother."

"Handled how?"

"Don't worry. I'll deal with Alex. You keep Fox quiet."

Teena still looked doubtful, but agreed to do it.


Walter caught Alex early. "Alex, would you like to go sailing today? Fox wanted to take you."

"I'd really like to see Fox."

"Okay. Come on and I'll take you up."

He took Alex to Fox's room. "He's still pretty much out of it," Walter explained.

"Fox?" Alex said hesitantly.

"Al-lex," Fox mumbled, "you came to the party. Are you having a good time?"

"Um . . . you just rest, Fox. I'll see you later."

"See what I mean?" Walter said when they were back in the hall.

"He is out of it."

"Yes. So, will you go sailing with me?"

"Are you sure?"

"Of course. You might want to bring your sketchbook. I thought we would sail around to our beach. There are some lovely sights. I understand you're very talented."

Alex blushed. "Thank you. And I'd like to go. Give me fifteen minutes."

"I'll go see what I can find to take for lunch."

A half hour later, they were in the water.

"It's been years since I've done this," Walter observed as they set out.

"Why?" Alex asked.

"I took over the family business right out of college. Since then, I've put all my energies into that."

"I know you're very good at what you do, but it seems a shame to have all this," Alex gestured to their surroundings, "and not take advantage of it."

"You're right," Walter said. "It is beautiful."

They were quiet for a time, content to enjoy the beauty of the day. Walter handled the boat well, despite not sailing for many years. They sailed around to the beach and went ashore. They spread a blanket and put their lunch down, then Walter asked if Alex would like a swim before lunch.

"Yes, I think that could be fun."

They stripped down to their swim trunks and swam out a little way. After a leisurely swim, they came back to their blanket. Walter went about setting out their lunch while Alex sketched a view of the boat against the vast sky.

"You are good," Walter told him.

"Thank you. I enjoy drawing things like this. But I liked advertising, too."

"Do you intend to continue that?"

"I plan to. I already have some interviews lined up."

"You know, we could always use someone with your talent in our ad division."

"Thanks, Walter, but I'd like to do it on my own."

They paused their conversation to eat.

"Walter, what do you do for fun?"

"Making money is fun."

"But, don't you ever need more? People say you . . . "

"That I what?"

"They say you think morals are pictures on walls and scruples is money in Russia."

Walter looked nonplussed for a minute.

Alex looked apologetic. "I'm sorry, Walter. I only meant that you deserve to have something in your life other than work."

"That's okay, Alex."

Walter gazed out at the ocean, thinking his own thoughts as Alex went to back to sketching. After a while, Alex put down his sketch.

"Could I see?" Walter asked.

"Well . . ." Alex said hesitantly.

"Come on. Your father's told me how talented you are."

Alex held out the pad. Walter's mouth fell open.

"This is a sketch of me." He looked closely at it. "You are very good, Alex. You made me look good."

Alex laughed. "You do look good, Walter. I only draw what I see."

Walter stood. "Want another swim before we head back?"

"All right."

They headed back as the sun was setting. It was a quiet trip back. Walter walked Alex to his door.

"Thank you for coming with me, Alex. I really had a good time."

"So did I," Alex said, and realized he meant it.

Peter was in the tiny living room reading when Alex came in.

"How was your day, Papa?"

"It was fine. And yours, son?"

"It was nice. Papa, what was Walter like as a boy?"

"Shorter," Peter said. "Alex, are you . . . be careful. The only thing Walter Skinner cares about is his family's business and I don't want you to get hurt."

"I'll be fine. I'm going to have a shower and read for a while before bed. Good night." Alex leaned down to kiss his father on the cheek. "It's good to be home. I love you, Papa."

Peter squeezed Alex's arm. "I love you, too, Alex. I missed you."

Alex went to his room and tossed his sketchbook on his dresser. He started to undress, then went and picked it back up. He turned to his sketch of Walter. He had told Walter the truth. He'd only drawn what he saw. But there was something unusual about the picture. It took him a few minutes to figure out. Walter was smiling, something the hard-nosed businessman rarely did. Alex propped the sketchbook up on his bedside table and went to take his shower, and he was smiling, too.


Walter went by Fox's room before work and was pleased to see he was still almost completely out of it. He headed out to the front driveway, where Peter waited to drive him to work. He went over reports and read the business section of the paper on the way, but kept getting distracted by the scenery. Everything seemed to be in bloom, and the trees were full and lush.

"Peter?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Has it always been this . . . colorful here?"

"Ah . . . this time of year, yes, it is, sir."

Walter sat back, not entirely convinced.

When he got to the office, as soon as he was seated at his desk, he called for Kim.

"Yes, sir?"

"Kim, I need tickets for a play, whatever's big right now. And reservations for dinner. Somewhere nice."

"Well, there's The Pajama Game."

"That's fine."

"Sir . . . it's a musical. Periodically, people will burst into song for no apparent reason."

"I'm sure I'll live through it, Kim."

"Yes, sir."


Around lunch time, Walter called Alex.

"Alex? How are you today?"

"Fine. And you, Walter?"

"I am, too. Alex, I have tickets to The Pajama Game tonight. I was wondering if you'd like to go with me. I thought we would have dinner first."

"You want to take me out?"

"Yes. But, if you'd prefer not to go out - - "

"No, I'd like to go."

"Good. I'll see you tonight."


Later, Walter called Peter. "Peter, you'll be available to drive tonight?"

"Will you be taking Alex out, sir?"

"Yes."

"Then I'd prefer not to, if that's all right with you."

"That's fine. Just send Alex in one of the cars. He can meet me here."


"Thank you for coming with me, Alex." Walter told him after they were seated in the restaurant. They were in a quiet corner.

"Thank you for inviting me. I had fun the other day."

"Me, too. It had been years since I went sailing."

Walter ordered wine when the waiter came, then resumed the conversation.

"So, tell me about Paris, Alex. And school."

"Well . . . I didn't want to go at first. I missed everyone so much. Especially Papa."

"I've seen how close you are to him. I missed having a relationship like that with my father."

"How old were you when you lost him, Walter?"

"I was seven. I remember him, of course. Mother tried to make up for him not being there, but I wonder what he'd think of me, if I lived up to his expectations."

"I think he'd be very proud of you, Walter," Alex said softly. "You've accomplished a great deal."

The waiter came back with the wine and took their food order. Walter steered the conversation back to Alex.

"I'm sure it was hard for you, too, growing up without a mother."

"It was. But Papa was great, and the household staff helped out."

They reminisced until the food arrived, then they dug in. Over coffee, they got back to Paris.

"Paris is . . . different. It's not like anywhere else. Have you ever been there, Walter?"

"No, I never had any business that took me there."

"You should go. You would love it. Paris makes everything seem better."

Walter listened intently as Alex described Paris, and talked about his job there. He loved the way Alex's eyes sparkled and shone as he spoke of something he obviously loved. He was so enthusiastic. Exuberant. Walter couldn't recall ever being that young. Walter was stunned when he looked up to see the restaurant was nearly deserted. He checked his watch.

"Oh, Alex, I'm sorry! I completely lost track of time. We've missed the play."

"Don't worry about it. I had a great time."

"Come on, and let's get you home."

They drove home in relative silence, the only sound being the slow, soft jazz playing on the radio. It was a comfortable silence, and Walter was a bit disappointed when they got home. Because he wasn't quite ready to let Alex go yet, he suggested they walk down to the dock. Alex agreed. There was a refreshing breeze blowing, and the moonlight on the water was lovely.

Alex took off his shoes and socks and dangled his feet in the water while Walter rested against a post.

"You know, Alex, I had a really nice time tonight."

"Listening to me ramble all night?"

"Best time I've had in a while."

"You really don't get out much, do you?"

"I'm being serious, Alex. And I've been thinking about what you said about Paris. I'm thinking it might be fun."

"You should, Walter. You can be a different person there."

Reluctantly, Walter stood up. "Come on, I've kept you out long enough."

Once again, Walter walked Alex to his door.

"Thank you for a lovely evening, Alex," Walter said as he kissed Alex lightly on the mouth and left.

It took Alex a long time to fall asleep.


As soon as Walter got to work, he called Kim in his office.

"Kim, I need two first class tickets to Paris. And I need an apartment there, and a bank account set up with one hundred thousand dollars in it. Both in the name Alex Krycek."

"Sir?" Kim looked at him strangely.

"That will be all, Kim."

"Yes, sir."


Walter called Alex next.

"Alex, how are you?"

Alex smiled at the sound of Walter's voice.

"Fine. And you?"

"Just fine. I was wondering if you could come by the office tonight, say around seven? Maybe we could have dinner again."

"All right, Walter."


After Walter's call, Alex headed out to the garage to see if he could help his father. He missed having work to occupy his day, even more so since he was looking forward to seeing Walter that night. He heard his name and turned to see Fox headed his way.

"Hello, Fox. You must be feeling better."

"I am."

They walked on to the garage. "And since I am feeling better . . ."

Fox leaned in to kiss Alex. Caught by surprise, Alex jerked away.

"Sorry, Fox."

"Me, too. Let's try that again."

This time it worked better, but Alex still pulled away.

"What's wrong, Alex?"

"Nothing."

"Then come here." Fox pulled Alex close to whisper in his ear. "I missed you. And I want you so much. Meet me tonight?"

"I . . . "

"Come on, Alex," Fox said, rubbing up against him. "Tonight, in the gazebo."

Just then, Peter walked in. Alex and Fox sprang apart.

"I'll see you later," Fox said as he walked out.

"Alex," Peter said, looking worriedly at his son, "Everything all right?"

Alex nodded. "I have a lot to think about, Papa. And I came out to help you."

Peter gathered his cleaning supplies. "Come on, then. You can think while you work."


"Sir, your mother is here."

"My mother is here? Not on the phone?"

"She's here. Should I send her in?"

"Yes, Kim."

Teena swept into Walter's office. "Walter, what are you doing about this Alex situation? Fox is up and around. He saw Alex this morning."

"You know this for a fact?"

"He's spoken of little else since then."

"Well, if my plan works, and I think it will, Alex will be gone by tomorrow. Tonight, I'm going to ask him to go to Paris with me."

"You're going to Paris with Alex Krycek?"

"No, of course not. I'll make up some excuse to get him on the plane without me, and he'll be on his way to Paris before he figures it out. I've set up an apartment and a bank account for him. So even if he contacts Fox, it will appear he left because of the money."

"That sounds rather cruel, Walter. To Alex and to your brother."

"Running a profitable business requires sacrifice, Mother. You've just never seen that part of it up close before. You've always left it to me. Just like this time -- you want Alex out of Fox's life and I'm taking care of it. You'll have to excuse me now. I have work to do."


Alex knocked on Fox's door. "Fox, it's Alex. May I come in?"

"Of course."

Fox was lying in bed on his stomach, reading. "Is something wrong, Alex?"

"Fox, I'm sorry, but I won't be able to meet you tonight."

"But, why?"

Alex kneeled by the bed. "Fox, try to understand. I have . . . feelings for Walter."

"Walter?" Fox croaked.

"Yes. Please, Fox, don't be angry with him. It's not his fault. He was trying to amuse me until you were better."

"Does he feel the same about you?"

"I don't know; I think he might."

"But, Alex, I have feelings for you."

"You want me, Fox. Walter needs me, I think. And I believe I need him. I'm sorry, Fox."

"Me, too."


Kim stopped by Walter's office on her way home and put the plane tickets on the desk.

"Here are the tickets, sir. Everything else is arranged. Do you need anything before I go?"

"No, Kim, go on home." Walter said wearily. " Have Gus send Alex up when he arrives."


Alex got there right before seven.

"Hello, Walter."

"Alex. Come in. Can I get you anything?"

"No, but I need to tell you something."

"Me first. Alex, I've decided that I am going to Paris. And I'd like for you to come with me."

Alex gasped in disbelief, then smiled radiantly. "Oh, Walter," he said shakily. "I came here to tell you that I . . . I have feelings for you. I told Fox."

"You have feelings for me?"

"Yes. I finally realized that all this time I've thought I was in love with Fox was a waste. He may want me now, but he doesn't love me. He certainly doesn't need me. I feel like maybe you and I need each other."

Walter turned away, looking out the window. Alex hesitantly touched his arm. Walter flinched.

"Did I say something wrong, Walter? I was hoping I wasn't wrong about this. I know we've only kissed, but - - "

"Don't, Alex," Walter said his voice full of anguish. "I'm not what you think I am."

He went to the desk and picked up the tickets. "These are plane tickets to Paris. But only one was going to be used."

Alex looked at him, confused.

"It's all been an act, Alex. You see, there was this big merger I wanted. Fox happened to fall in love with the daughter of the president of the company. So I had to keep them together. You were going to get on that plane, and I would find some reason to be late. You'd be on your way to Paris before you knew. And when you got there, there'd be an apartment and bank account in your name. It was all business, you see," Walter said sadly. "That's what I am, Alex. All business."

Walter turned back to the window, so he wouldn't see the hurt on Alex's pale face.

Alex went to the desk and picked up one of the tickets. He cleared his throat and asked, "Walter, could I have this?"

Walter turned and nodded.

Alex walked out without another word.

Walter sat down on the office couch.


Fox found him in the same place the next morning.

"Walter, you look like hell," Fox observed.

"Thanks a lot, Fox, but I'm really not in the mood."

Fox handed him coffee. "Drink this. Then have a shower. Peter's downstairs waiting."

"Waiting for what?"

"To take you to the airport. I packed a few things for you, underwear and such. I'm sure you'll want to find something more appropriate when you get to Paris."

"I'm not going to Paris, Fox. Alex hates me. And well he should."

"Alex loves you. And that's why he'll forgive you. After all, you love me, and you always forgive me."

"And what do you propose to do with the company while I take this trip?"

"I'm going to handle things here."

Walter laughed. "Fox, you can't. You don't know anything about it. You've probably even forgotten where your office is."

"I know everything about it. You send me all the reports. You just assume I don't read them. I'll finish the merger, you go get Alex back. But I do expect you both back for the wedding."

Walter looked at him hopefully. "You really think he'll have me?"

"Yes, I do. Go, Walter."

Walter headed to the shower.

"Hey, Walter?"

"Yes?"

"Where is my office?"


Walter got downstairs and in the car in record time. Peter started for the airport. The tense silence between them persisted until Walter spoke.

"Go ahead. Say it."

"You don't deserve him."

"I don't, I know that; but I need Alex, and I've never needed anything before."

Peter nodded. "Don't hurt him again."

"I don't intend to."



Paris

Walter stepped from the cab and grabbed his suitcase. He went to Alex's door, heart thumping madly. Alex opened the door.

"Walter. What do you want?"

"Could I come in?"

Alex reluctantly stepped back and let Walter in the apartment.

"Sit down."

Walter sat down on the sofa, and Alex sat in an armchair across from him.

"Alex, I . . ."

"Tell me something, Walter. Why did you tell me the truth? Your plan would've worked, you know."

"I got caught in my own trap. The more time I spent with you, the more I wanted. I suddenly realized I was falling in love with you. Alex, I'm ashamed of what I did to you. I - - "

"You should be. Walter, I have never hurt like this. Not even when I first came here and left behind everyone I loved."

"I understand, Alex. And if you tell me you can't forgive me, I'll go away and not bother you again. What I won't do is go back to the life I had. I'll never forget you, though. And I'll never forgive myself for driving you away. I'm hoping you'll give us a chance. I promise if you do, I'll spend the rest of my life showing you it wasn't a mistake."

Alex got up and went to sit beside Walter. "Walter, I can forgive you. It'll take a while for me to forget, but I love you. I don't want to lose you."

Walter's face lit up. "Thank you, Alex. I meant what I said. I intend to do everything I can to make you happy. What would you like to do? We can do whatever you want."

"I'd just like to be with you right now. Will you hold me, Walter?"

"I think I can do better than that." Walter took Alex in his arms and kissed him.

The End
 

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Maddie