Denial Redux

by Amazon X


Title: Denial Redux

Author: Amazon X

E-mail: yankeestarbuck@yahoo.com

Website: http://yankeestarbuck.tripod.com

Feedback: Won't you please, please help me? (to feel better and gimme some lovin'!)

Category: Slash, post-post ep

Rating: NC-17 (well, duh!)

Summary: After "Denial", Byers and Krycek examine the long look in Byers' eyes. You can find the original here: http://yankeestarbuck.tripod.com/FictionPages/Denial.html

Archive: Anywhere, just ask and tell me where it's going, especially Topica Bunker, WWOMB, Full House, the Basement, FONL Archive, and anywhere I've been archived before.

Disclaimer: If I owned them, I'd have treated them a lot better than you did!

Notes: This was Erynn's demand on me. And I owe her and love her enough to give Byers a break. Most people write Krycek so mean to him (Erika!), I'm giving Byers a kind and gentle Krycek. Well, mostly, except when John needs to be fucked hard on that 1971 Harley Davidson Sportster! Thank you to my sister, Agentslash69 for lending me the Harley book. As you know, I love for realism, so Mt. Blanca and Salida, Colorado really do exist, along the Arkansas River. But I'm pretty sure that there are more tourists on that mountain than I indicate, anonymity being necessary. So I took a little license with the area, but it's a real area. If anyone is from Colorado and wants to complain, save it. And I really did look up the info about San Francisco and the drive times and all that. Repeat after me, Mapquest is your friend!!! Oh, and never mind the line from "Denial" about Krycek sleeping with the Glock under the pillow. Just Alex being a wiseass. He's bi.

Oh, and thanks Alison X for posing the Topica "Jump the Shark" first anniversary challenge. This will fit in nicely for it. Originally, this was an Ursula challenge from the Alex H/C or D group and it's nice to get the sequel in for a LGM challenge. But I know it's late. Lemme lone! Thanks to Lady Midath for the Australia info, I needed MUCH help, thanks! And especially thank you to Ursula for beta, it needed it, huh?

And since it's so late, I wanna give this as a birthday gift to someone I love and care about with all my heart. Yes, Bosslady it was supposed to be yours, but you'll get something cool another day. I need to give this to someone very special, someone who never fails to make me happy, someone who gave me the greatest give anyone ever gave me, my love of Alex. Happy birthday, Miss Peach. I love you so dearly, you have no idea just how much. You kept my mind active with fic when I was healing, you give me lil updates of happiness and you are just someone so special, I can't stand it. And I owe you more than bagels.

SUPER BETA VERSION 2.0: KinkyGrrl1980, you kicked my ASS!! But this is a better story for it. And I know Peach will appreciate the newest beta version of her prezzie. Elaine, I'm emailing you a new .doc version to upload to the b-day page when you do your next update.


PRIVATE JOURNAL OF JOHN FITZGERALD BYERS

I will state each fact as it happened, truthfully and my feelings as well. I will not bear false witness against the actions I took in those days while I was in a situation I neither engineered nor agreed to. I will, however, remember them as a time of discovery and growth for me. I will never regret my feelings, and I will never regret my choices.

We were staying with Alex in the cottage in Colorado. The daily routine of visiting as many satellite dishes as we could kept us all busy and I couldn't believe the shape I was getting into. I had thought I would be sitting around more than anything. Alex did not have that in mind. Not at all.

He would lead us all for hours at a time, leaving at first light and not getting back until sunset, which made us all sleep like babies. After a few weeks, Frohike had to stop going on the patrols. His knee was regularly swollen and we were worried he'd hurt himself worse. And there would be no stay in the hospital for surgery for any of us. It was enough that we had to shop late at night as it stood. I was infinitely thankful for 24-hour supermarkets. Anonymity was essential. Staying hidden was paramount to staying alive.

We were given packages of cash each month, plenty to see us through for food and incidentals. I was usually given the task of doing the shopping with Langly since Krycek didn't care, and Frohike cared even less than that. They didn't complain when Langly forced me to buy Mallomars and nineteen different other kinds of junk food to shut him up. Langly didn't complain when I bought the fine roasted coffee for Alex. Or the special tea they ordered for me.

"Man, why do you spoil him? He threatened my life, you know." Langly whined as he popped cookie after cookie into his mouth. The Mallomars rarely ever made it back to the cabin.

As I walked back in, I saw Frohike working on one of the matrix boards of a dish. He looked up at me and said, "Hey, you guys get me that beer?"

I nodded and put a bag on the counter to unpack it. I sat to read after that, not realizing how quickly two hours went by. Not long after I looked up at the clock, noting it was close to dinnertime, Alex walked in and I could see his teeth chattering. February hadn't been all that pleasant to us, with lots of snow. Langly and I were in constant pain from shoveling our way to the truck. Skinner supplied us with a 4 by 4 truck, a Ram Charger, with massive snow tires, a plow and more horsepower than the Budweiser Clydesdales. It got us down the driveway, but you had to get to it. That was the trick.

He didn't move, didn't speak, just stood there, letting the door swing closed on its own. Something was wrong. I went straight to where Alex stood and began peeling the layers of clothes from him. "Langly, stoke up the fire, he's freezing," I shouted. Langly moved quickly and I sat Alex in a chair to work on his snow-crusted boots and jeans. He'd been walking through the snow again. Frohike went to the kitchen to start some strong coffee brewing. Alex didn't care for anyone else but me making the coffee, but that couldn't be helped at the moment.

I dragged Alex to the living room and pushed him into the chair Frohike had claimed as his own, closest to the fire. Alex usually sat at the other end of the room, away from us, citing the cold didn't bother his Russian blood. I never quite believed him, and now I had my proof.

He gave futile protests as I stripped him of all his clothing and then wrapped the thick quilt from his bed that Frohike had gotten. Alex's bed in the loft was adorned with the only keepsake of his life before the Consortium, his grandmother's quilt. Skinner had brought it to him a few weeks after we'd come to share the cabin with him. Where it was kept before that only Skinner and Alex knew. After pouring some hot coffee down his throat, Alex stopped trembling.

"Alex, are you OK?" I asked, seriously concerned. I didn't know much about frostbite or hypothermia, but he didn't look good at all. I wasn't sure how we would handle a need for a doctor, or, heaven forbid, a hospital. His deep green eyes rolled toward me and I just drowned in them. A twinkle seated itself in the corners with his grin.

"Thank you, Mommy Byers," he said in a little boy's voice.

I smiled at him and sighed loudly in relief. From what I knew of the man, after spending so much time with him, he never even complained of a headache. He wouldn't fake being as cold as he was, being beyond speech. "Alex, where were you? Why did you stay out so long?"

He shuddered again before answering. "It's a beautiful day outside. You should have come with..." and he sneezed before finishing.

"I know someone who's coming down with a cold," Frohike sing-songed from his place at the worktable. I glanced back at him, but he'd gone back to working on the matrix board before him. He didn't see Alex flip him the finger.

"He's right, you know," I said, as I helped Alex to his feet, ignoring the glare he gave me. "Let's get you into bed and I'll get you some soup. You should rest. You've been out since dawn. Did you take lunch with you?"

His patronizing chuckle was disheartening, but completely expected. "No, Mommy, I haven't eaten. Will you tell me a story later?"

He managed to shove me off as we got to the stairs. I followed his slow progress up the stairs and said, "Only if you eat all of your soup."

We both laughed at that. He tossed the quilt back on his bed and climbed in between the flannel sheets. His was oblivious to his nudity. He usually was. Alex was never self-conscious. He would walk out of the bathroom, drying his hair with the towel that should have been swathed about his slender hips, ignorant of his long cock swinging back and forth, bouncing against his muscular thighs. Not that I was looking.

I pulled his sweats, briefs and a pair of dry woolen socks from his small footlocker by his bed and handed them to him. "You'll need the warmth of these. I'll get your soup."

I thought a long time about Alex being ill as I warmed the chicken and stars soup, his favorite. It wasn't a good thing for any of us to be ill, actually. I toasted some bread and made more tea for him. As I carried the meal up to him, I considered what would happen to the mission we were on if he was incapacitated. We would be out of business, that's what we'd be. As much as Frohike, Langly and I want to believe we could care for those satellite dishes alone, I think I was the only one to admit that Alex was a necessary evil.

And I say evil only to say that he was not like us. We had always wanted to make the world a better place with what we were doing. That was before the Super Soldiers ran amuck in the world. Things were very different from before we went into hiding. Faking our deaths, the way Skinner and Mulder faked Alex's, was essential to the fight for the future. Alex would do things the three of us could never bring ourselves to do. He could raise a scattergun filled with exploding magnetite pellets to take out any Super Soldier faster that I can decide if I could still see a bit of humanity left in the being before me. For Alex, making the decision was easy. "Whoever he was before, John, he's a monster now. Let it go. He isn't one of us anymore."

Alex took that seriously, us and them. And I valued his fierce loyalty. He was loyal to whoever helped keep him alive, but he would protect you as much as he protected himself. He sat on his bed, propped against the wall, as he had no headboard. I placed the tray across his lap and moved to go back downstairs.

"You can stay if you want, John," he said quietly. "Keep me company. Meek and Mook down there have all the electronics well in hand. I think they just keep you around for scenery."

I pulled the chair up to the bed and sat. "Well, then they really do need those glasses, don't they, if I'm all they need to look at!" I thought it was a funny joke. Alex, however, gave me a Scully-esque raised eyebrow and shook his head.

He smiled as he stirred the soup to cool it. "Chicken and stars. You always remember. Thanks, John." He looked like a little boy as he ate his soup and drank his tea. We talked a little about books, and I found he had a secret penchant for spy novels. His few belongings in the loft didn't reflect that. I resolved to get him something decent to read on the next supply run.

By early evening, he was feeling better, coughing a little, but sleepy. I helped tuck him in like a little boy and ruffled his bangs, making him laugh. Climbing the ladder back down to the main floor, I watch as Frohike and Langly continued to work on different matrix boards. I dropped the dishes in the kitchen with the others which Langly would ignore on his turn at them. I would wash them later, I figured.

"How's the patient?" Frohike muttered. He didn't even look up from his work. Langly didn't spare a glance, either.

"It looks like he has a cold. He should be fine. Just steer clear of him." I sat in a chair to read through a new B.J. Laurel novel I had bought. She was a little known writer, but her accounts of Celtic pagan life were rich and exotic. A distinct and opposite change from the annoying winter belying us at that time.

Langly looked up suddenly. "Is he mad or something?" Langly will never forgive, nor forget, Alex threatening his life over the lousy coffee. After having lived with the man for almost a year, since last April, I knew in my heart he was only joking. Langly, however, didn't get Alex's subtle humor. Both he and Frohike still called him Krycek, and sometimes it almost sounded like a dirty word when they said it.

"No, he's got the startings of what looks like a bad cold. If you don't want to catch it, steer clear." Langly took a deep breath and started back into his work. I shook my head, smiling at his easily gained and lost fear of our housemate. Poor Langly, still deathly afraid of a man who I had seen coo at baby birds in a nest. If they only knew...


PRIVATE JOURNAL OF ALEKSANDR NICHOLAI KRYCEK

I spent the second half of February and the first half of March in bed, sick. John did his best to try to comfort me, but all I really wanted was to sleep. I was exhausted most of the time, and annoyed. I don't like being sick. I like taking meds even less. After a few days I gave poor John a break and took the pills he was handing me. I'd heard him mention to Frohike that he emailed for a prescription for me. Scully sent them right off, after a strong word or two from Skinner. She didn't trust me, she never would, so I thought. I was just useful, like a can opener. John trusted me, though, so I gave in and took the pills. He must have gotten tired of me throwing them across the room, though he never lost his temper once. Gotta respect that in a man.

It was hard, that month. Usually, I don't like being incapacitated, needing care. I felt vulnerable. John was discreet about taking care of me. He'd let me climb the ladder from the loft myself when I needed to bathe, which wasn't as often as he liked. When I would crawl back up, my sheets were changed. I supposed that he wanted a clean space to sleep in. We were the only ones who slept up there anymore. Langly would sack out on the couch while Frohike liked the recliner better than his pallet bed.

When I first heard the spring birds chirping again, and looked out to see that the few blades of first grass were poking through the thin snow, I knew I was getting better, since the sounds and views made me smile instead of annoying me. Things looked new again. I knew I would have to get back out to servicing the satellite dishes. We'd lost precious time while the snows impeded us and we'd have to get back to work. When John volunteered the first day to go with me again, I was so relieved, I almost smiled. John is the least amount of trouble to have along.

"You don't have to do this, John," I said. I tried to give him a warning look about the hard day I would push for. John's good company, but I wasn't going to make excessive rest stops for him.

"If I spend one more day in that stuffy, smelly cottage with those two bickering...well, I just need some fresh air. Lord knows I care for my friends dearly, but I have cabin fever."

I grinned at him. He threw some sandwiches, fruit and some cookies for good measure, into a backpack and we set out early in the morning at first light. Langly and Frohike hadn't even woken when we secured the perimeter alarms. We walked for at least an hour without speaking, just enjoying the chilled morning air. It was cold and moist, just he way I like it. I could still see the path from last year, when I'd begun this alone. Then in April, the guys joined me. It was coming up on a year. We'd have to celebrate.

After stopping at the first dish to replace the matrix board and recalibrate the reception, we went to a clearing by a brook to sit and have breakfast. It was only some protein bars and a thermos of coffee, but it was time to rest and relax. I was still a little weak from being sick. When I looked over at John, I noticed that he was looking around at everything like a child, like everything was new and wonderful. Not like me, who looks at everything waiting for the next threat. He wanted to enjoy this hell we'd been thrust into while he was there, to extract some type of positive light from the dark shadows that passed over us daily.

"You always stare at me, you know," John said, quietly.

"I thought it was the other way around. That was something I noticed about you three. You watch everything."

He smiled and snorted a quiet laugh. "We make sure we know our surroundings well. We don't have the survival skills you do, Alex. You've seen me with a handgun. I'm not a violent man. So I make sure I don't put myself in dangerous situations."

I nodded in agreement. "That's what you got me for." I know I sounded miserable, but I couldn't help it. This was my last chance to make any kind of difference, the kind I wanted to make when I was in the FBI academy. Before I was enticed to the dark side, that is. It still bothered me that I was only expected to be muscle for the guys that Skinner expected to do the real work.

"Oh, you can't believe that. You think that Mr. Skinner would have hidden you here for so long if you weren't more essential to the rebellion than just a skilled gunman? I can't believe that. Frohike can defend us, and I can try harder. Please, let's not discuss Langly."

We both laughed at that. The youngest member of our group seemed to have an unusual aversion to firearms, but had no problem playing highly violent video games. Neither of us could figure it out. I think it was the promise of the video vixens that congratulated you at the end of those successful missions that was what he wanted. Maybe I should have bought him a hooker.

"You're a part of this, Alex. And you're necessary. And protecting the three of us is apparently important to Mr. Skinner."

I looked into his clear blue gaze as he sat beside me on the fallen log. We shared a smile and continued on our way. It was a tiring day, walking over ten miles, through the rough terrain. We stopped briefly for lunch, but didn't really talk much, only about the job at hand, or what our next destination should be. By the time we reached the cottage, we were ready for a hot meal and sleep.

Frohike placed the hot bowls of beef stew before us with big chunks of bread. John drank his glass of water while I sucked down two beers. We both decided to forgo our showers to fall into bed and get as much rest as we could. The next day was pretty much the same, visiting more dishes on the mountain. There were twenty in all, and we tried to visit four a day. It was difficult at times, the long walks, but there was no other way to get to them. Using the truck would leave evidence, having to leave it somewhere, tire tracks left in the dirt. We'd have to think about it more. It seemed that John and I were considered the ones to do the traveling for the repair work. At least it got us out of the other guys' way. And them out of ours.


Day after day, Alex and I would walk through the dense forest of Mt. Blanca, south of Salida, Colorado. It was a fabulous community, with LOTS of tourists. We blended well, but this mountain was yet untouched by the "hiking and climbing" craze. It had dropped off significantly, traveling and tourism not what it had been once upon a time. Alex complained once about not being allowed to go shopping with me instead of Langly, but I quickly reminded him that a one-armed man as handsome as he was would stand out in the minds of any clerk in any store like a poppy in a bridal bouquet. His blush was unexpected and appreciated.

"Then we should find a place we can hit at 3 AM where if we were noticed, they'd chalk it up to my need for privacy. Are there any supermarkets like that in other towns?"

I smile at his persistence. "I'm sure we can find something." And our overnight shopping forays began.

A one-handed computer hacker was something that Langly balked at with renewed volume each time Alex sat at his laptop. Frohike didn't pay much attention. But Alex did find a supermarket that was open 24 hours a day located four towns and close to fifty miles away. We would have to go there for nonperishables. Unless he wanted to bring the cooler along. Which at one point we did in late May when he found that they had a certain ice cream he was waiting for. Who knew that Alex Krycek, assassin, agent of the Syndicate, and nemesis of Agent Mulder loved Girl Scout cookie ice cream? Thin Mints crushed and blended into vanilla ice cream. He consumed it by the half gallon. And it was a shame it was only available once a year.

He was also pleased that they had a book and magazine section. He was even thrilled to see new Robert Ludlum and John Le Carre offerings, both of which he snatched up copies of. There was an old Alan Furst, but he had that one. We had a system for our mail, so I would have to figure out a way to get books ordered from the internet to our PO Box for him. It turned out that simply emailing a list to Skinner would produce said titles in our PO Box within the next week. Some looked used, as if coming from Skinner's own personal library. That impressed me.

I firmly believed that those trips into the outside world with him made it easier for me when things became closer between us. It wasn't something from a romance novel where we were swept up in emotion. No, we were discussing Mulder's famous Flukeman case. It was something that Alex had remembered reading about when he was in the academy. He enjoyed the X-Files reports that would make the rounds. Not because he mocked agent Mulder, but because the strange and unusual appealed to him.

"I swear, John, you are a pip! How can you not blame the Soviet Union for this!" Alex hated the former Soviet Union with a passion. They wiped his family out after his parents escaped the USSR during the Cold War. He didn't like living in Brooklyn, in the Brighton Beach section when he was a boy. It was mostly Russian immigrants, but soon, his parents moved them to Long Island where he was happier. But his hatred still ran deep for the government that was malicious.

"Alex, it's quite simple. It was an accident. They didn't know the reactor would cause so much damage. Really, I can't believe they would have such disregard for their own lands and people as to put them at such risk."

We both stood and brushed the crumbs from our jeans. Lunch was becoming our time to talk, debate and discuss our world, past and present. We never talked about the future, since we weren't sure we'd be in it. Alex was an excellent conversational partner, able to discuss topics ranging from the unnecessary US military force in China to the latest Batman story arc. He was easy to be with, making one feel comfortable. That was how he took me by surprise.

"John, you are probably the most optimistic man I ever met. It suits you." We were standing close together, facing each other. His hand snaked out to grab my shoulder and pull me into him. The kiss was fast and chaste, like you would give a friend or relative, but the feel of his lips on mine, even for that brief second of jocularity and familiar closeness was enough to make me begin to flush and heat up in places other than my reddened cheeks. He pulled away with a smile on his lips and an impish gleam in his jade eyes. Alex was merciful and led the way from our lunch area so he did not see how red I got, nor did he see the swelling of my groin.

I never considered myself a narrow-minded person before, but I also thought I was straight. This was a very confusing time for me. Homosexuals are human beings, just as I am. I have no right to judge any man or woman for whom they choose to love or make love to, just as they have no right to judge me. I wasn't worried what anyone thought of me, or what it implied that I'd become erect when a man kissed me. What did perturb me was that the kiss wasn't enough. I wanted a longer kiss, with more emotion and more...kiss. I wasn't ashamed of who I wanted to kiss. Alex was proving more and more every day to be an amazing man. How was I supposed to go about living and working with him when I wanted him?

As I followed him to the next dish for repair, I thought about the relationships of my past. I had been married briefly between Susanne encounters, but Jill couldn't deal with all the time I spent on the paper while she worked to support us. She left me around the time of the famous Flukeman case. Our sex life was what one would categorize as vanilla. She'd never even performed oral sex on me. Sometimes I think it was a relief to have divorced her. That was when I moved into the warehouse, completing our crude family unit.

At the cottage that night, when Alex curled up in his chair to read the current book that gripped his attention. I tried as hard as I could to focus my attention on the manual I was reading for the newest bundle of software that we'd received that week. Langly and Frohike had already torn through the book while I was out on a "field trip" as they called them, so I was playing catch up. I couldn't get the kiss out of my mind. No matter how much I refocused my attention on the book, I kept glancing up at Alex across the room. It was too distracting for me.

"I'm going to take a shower," I announced and quickly left the room. No one even looked up, thankfully. With the hot water sluicing the day's work from my body, again I thought about that kiss. My groin remembered as well. I was surprised to reach down to wash myself and find my erect member showing me where the cold water faucet was. I looked from my cock to the cold knob and decided I deserved to have a hot shower, and a hot fantasy. I imagined a hot summer day like the kind we had last year, stopping with Alex by the stream that led down the mountain to soak our feet and eat lunch.

His hair was haloed in the sunlight behind him, backlighting him. We removed our shirts to catch some sun and get a little color. He reached out to touch my white skin, claiming he thought I might burn, but I assured him that my Greek grandmother gave all my siblings good olive skin to tan with. His hand slid over my skin, exploring my chest and belly. As his hand just touched the swollen outline of my shorts in my mind, reality kicked in and I came, spraying the bathroom tiles with semen. Oh God, I couldn't even get to the good part of a fantasy without ruining it.

I finished my shower quickly, spraying the wall clean with hot water, and climbed the ladder in my bathrobe to change into my pajamas. As I was bending over to pull the pants up, I heard someone climbing the ladder. "Just a minute!" I called out. Damn, whoever it was, I wanted to be dressed first.

"Just a minute nothing. You don't have anything I don't, and if you do, I don't care. I'm exhausted."

I turned to see Alex's head clear the edge of the loft as I slid my pajama pants over my butt. I was still topless, but Alex didn't even spare a glance at me. He strode to his bed, shucked his clothing and climbed under the covers. He wasn't aware of how I watched his body move, how I stared at his ass as it disappeared from my view. He again slept naked, which did nothing for me being able to settle and fall asleep.

"What's wrong, John?" came the soft, rich voice from five feet away.

"I'm sorry?" I asked, trying to figure out what he was trying to get at.

"You've been flipping like a pancake for fifteen minutes. What's wrong with you? After a day of working, you usually fall out as fast as me."

"I'm just not as sleepy as I thought I was. I'll try to be quieter."

He sat up and turned on the lamp beside him. "Tell me what's bothering you or I'm going to tie you down to the bed."

I snorted a soft laugh at him. "Alex, really, I'm fine."

He shrugged and turned off the lamp again. He settled back down and there was silence again. But I still couldn't sleep. I lay awake for another hour listening to Alex breathe.


I didn't understand what was going on with John at all. The man was well and truly starting to confuse the hell out of me. At first, we would walk and not speak at all, just enjoy the surroundings while we made our way between dishes. After we got into in a few lunch conversations, we opened ourselves up to more conversations.

We talked about everything. John particularly enjoyed my account of his early life in New York City's Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn. I told him about how the neighborhood boys would explore the beach and under the boardwalk like we were archaeologists. We would search like we were looking for dinosaur bones, and never complained when we didn't find any.

John told me about how when he was a boy, he was expected to act like a small adult. He learned piano and read a lot. He wasn't allowed to play in the house and where they lived there weren't any other children for him to play with, anyway. He grew up very lonely. It explained that although his manners were impeccable, his social skills for joking around weren't quite what a normal guy's would be. At least, he wasn't as much of a wiseass as Langly, Frohike and me.

Lately, though, John was quiet. He didn't engage me in the same open and revealing conversations, and he wasn't as playful as he once was. There was one point before when John had actually shoved me into a pile of leftover snow and ran several hundred yards until I tackled him on a bed of soft moss. Of course, I rolled off quickly, not wanting to frighten him, but it was total physical contact all the same. It was fun, like being on the beach with my friends again. I was having my second childhood.

The two of us had sat there, looking at each other and laughed for a full five minutes, so it felt. Then we just went on with our work. But ever since then...oh shit, the kiss. I smiled to myself as I remembered the surprised look on John's face when I laid the smacker on him. It was just a little friendly peck, nothing notable. Maybe it was bothering the other man.

"John, hey, the other day, when I kissed you, did that bug you?" I asked, while walking down a shallow grade.

I almost started to feel guilty when John began sputtering to say something appropriate, like we were just friends and it was a friendly thing. Women did it all the time. I just nodded and smiled. He liked it. Well, if he enjoyed the kiss for a funny comment, then I would just up the stakes. It wouldn't take long, either. I had been alone up here so long before they got here, almost a year. I had gone out for a couple of hustlers in that year, but since they got here, there was nothing. I wonder if John had the same idea.

After a two-day reprieve, I asked a question John seemed more able to handle.

"John, how old were you when you lost it?" I asked, peeking back over my shoulder at John who was making his way slowly down a steep incline. I felt like a preteen phrasing it that way. But it seemed to be the more playful way of asking.

"Lost what? My virginity, you mean? Oh, that, I was about seventeen." John seemed his usual pragmatic, straightforward self. "She was my prom date. I was set up with her. She was notoriously easy. I think my friends didn't think I'd ever get laid without their help." He chuckled to himself about it.

"Really? Why's that? You mean, you were shy in school? No, surely you jest!" We both snickered at that comment. John covered the distance between us and punched me in the shoulder. I turned and punched him back, reducing two grown men into teenage boys swinging at each other playfully. With careful maneuvering, I got us in a clutch rolling in the grass before long. Even with my prosthetic arm, I was the more experienced of the two and ended up straddling his hips, holding both wrists together in my real hand.

"You give?" I asked, heaving for breath.

"Yeah, I give," he barely whispered. He waited a beat and felt me slacken my grip to get up and took the advantage to flip our positions. To say that I was shocked was an understatement. He was learning. Nestled between my splayed legs, John reached up and held the real arm down with one hand. He held the prosthesis with the other, frustrating me royally. "No fun being on the bottom is it?"

John laughed a moment until he saw that I wasn't laughing, but smiling deviously. "Actually, John, I bottom as much as I top." I got the wide-eyed gasp I was hoping for.

Sitting up, John let me go and began righting his skewed clothing. I sat up slowly, keeping hold of John's gaze. The evil gleam in my eyes made him look a bit uneasy, but was meant to be arousing and confusing all the same. I looked down to John's swelling crotch, then back up to lock on with the twin azure orbs.

"Am I upsetting you?" I asked, quietly.

Quickly recovering his senses, he blurted out, "No, not at all. Why would you think that?"

Smiling widely, I leaned over and said, "I didn't think a little wrestling match would get you hot and bothered. It's been a while, hasn't it?"

John looked away, embarrassed. He cleared his throat to try and compose himself, but when he turned to look at me, he hadn't noticed I had moved to lean close to his face. "It's been a while for me too, John." I kissed him again. The kiss was soft and gentle, given to convey the feeling of friendship and comfort. I hoped to take him by surprise. I wasn't prepared for the normally reserved and quiet man to welcome me.


When I leaned in to kiss back, Alex pulled back first. He looked back at me surprised for a moment, then stood to start our journey again. He didn't look at me as he brushed off his jeans and started toward our last destination. I was torn between amusement and sadness. Did I shock and embarrass him by not taking the bait of his attempt to embarrass me? Or did he only want to shock me and didn't really like me? I felt like a teenager, wondering whether the object of my affection "liked me" or not. Of course he liked me. 'Did he want me?' was the question I should have asked. It was ridiculous, childish and it hurt. I really wanted to know.

We finished our tour of duty that day and made our silent way back to the cottage. Dinner was waiting for us, Frohike's hearty and delicious beef stew and we ate in silence with he and Langly, the four of us watching the movie playing on the screen. It was some independent film that was done with digital handheld cameras. I thought it was crap. Not "Citizen Kane", not even "The Bride of Frankenstein". Halfway through the film, I elected to collect and wash the dishes. I couldn't stand that horrible film another moment. And one actor that bore a frightening resemblance to Mulder was just God-awful. Thankfully, his character died of auto-erotic asphyxiation. Shamefully, he died toward the end of the thing.

I knew I would only be a few minutes before Alex would follow me in. "Want a beer?" he asked. He always asked me if I wanted a beer. I never did. I still don't drink it.

"No, thanks."

He sat at the table and watched as I washed the dishes and stacked them in the drainer to drip dry. I finally turned to him and asked, "What was that kiss about today?" I even shocked myself.

His eyes went wide. I don't think he was expecting me to be so direct. But living in such close proximity to the man, sleeping six feet away from him every night, cooking for him, caring for him when he was ill, I thought I deserved an answer.

He took a deep breath, finished his beer and avoided the whole subject. "I'm showering and going to bed."

He left the room, quickly shutting himself in the bathroom. When the door lock engaged, my heart hit my feet. He completely ignored my question. I couldn't tell if he was playing a game, or just really didn't care. I just knew that when I asked him about the kiss, he changed. Something in him became closed. Was I not supposed to be direct? Could I not ask him about these things? Did he not want to discuss this?

I made my way to the loft and changed for bed. Settling under my blankets, I considered my situation. Alex was the first man to ever kiss me besides my maternal grandfather. He'd been a very physically affectionate man, unlike the entire rest of my family. It was a pity that he died when I was four years old. My mother had been quite reserved when she was alive, becoming more and more so as I grew. I didn't turn out to be a very affectionate person, retaining the Byers' family reservations.

About fifteen minutes later, Alex climbed the loft ladder and walked to his bed. He wore his jeans and carried his other clothes. His towel was slung across his shoulders. I knew he'd left his prosthesis in the living room where he always did on his chair. It was odd to see him modest about himself. I watched all of his clothing and towel end up in a heap on the floor. He slipped into his bed before removing his jeans, surprising me.

Alex knew if he had anything to say, he could speak to me directly. He didn't want to. Why was he closing up? I thought we had gotten closer, to a point where he could tell me something that bothered him and not fear my reproach. I considered that maybe he was feeling shy. I didn't think he could be shy.

Then again, I didn't know what he was like in a relationship. He may very well have been shy. From my past relationships, I was rather reserved, but I was never shy. I never closed up completely. And I was affectionate physically.

I'd never dated a man. I'd never even considered it. I wasn't repulsed by the idea. In fact, I rather thought it was an adventure, to be with Alex. Taming the wildcat of a man as no one else had. Or letting the jungle beast run roughshod over me. Either way, something good needed to come of that dreary year I'd lived with my two best friends and Mulder's greatest enemy.

With the resolve in my head to speak to Alex directly, I rolled over and went to sleep.


When I woke up, John was already out of bed. I smelled breakfast cooking and knew he was in a good mood. The bacon smelled good. But it would be impractical for the day I had ahead of me. I slipped from bed and dressed quickly. If he came up the ladder, I didn't want him seeing me and freaking out.

I was not prepared for him to just question me directly about what I had done. If he didn't want the kiss, he should have just said for me not to. It's not like I'd rape the guy. I like dominating, but a willing participant is so much sexier. Someone who really wants you to take them, to leave a mark or two, or spank them till their butts look like ripe strawberries. I refused then, and still do, to take an unwilling person, to "make them want it". I can seduce anyone, man or woman, but I prefer someone who was willing in the first place.

When I entered the living room, the other two were sacked out asleep, as usual. Sunrise was not their time of day. After rebuttoning my shirt, I entered the kitchen. John had bacon dripping on a rack, scrambled eggs in a pan, toast on a plate and juice in a glass. He turned to me and smiled.

"Alex, good morning! Sit, I have breakfast all ready for you."

He seemed so bright and cheerful. He must have gotten laid while I was asleep. "Hey, I got a lot of work to do today. I can't go hiking with all this food in me."

John started shaking his head and pointed to a note on the table. I picked it up and read Langly's unmistakable scrawl: Guys, we watched a Buffy marathon all night and didn't get to the matrix boards. You get a rare day off tomorrow. It's gonna rain for like a week anyway. Sorry. L

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. No work. What the hell was I gonna do? Fuck.

I sat at the table while John served me. I didn't speak. He set the cup of coffee down, doctored to my taste, and I sipped it. The man was magic with coffee. And his breakfasts were perfect. The eggs were always well done, crispy like I liked them, but not rubbery, toast golden and bacon soft. Even the juice was sweeter that morning. Something was up. He ate across the table from me silently. All I could hear was the patter of the first rain drops on the windows and the soft thunder in the distance. It would be some storm that day.

I sat in my chair and read for a few hours, listening to the rain, Langly's whimpering, Frohike's snoring, and John's cleaning. The man was making me nuts. If it sat still, he dusted it. If it was made of cloth, it went in the washing machine. If it was glass, it got covered in Windex and wiped clean. I understood what he was doing, though. He wanted to keep himself busy so that he wouldn't hover.

John hovers. He revolves, like a damn satellite sometimes. After Langly and Frohike woke up and turned that blasted plasma screen on, I decided to surf the web a while. I had no clue what I was looking for, just reading news and the like. Then an odd email showed up from ghale61@yahoo.au. Mulder, that fucker. What the hell was he doing? Didn't he know?

The email was a link for the craigslist in Denver for a listing for a motorcycle. It wasn't just any motorcycle. It was a 1971 Harley Sportster. But it was being sold by a man who had lost his left arm in Vietnam and modified the bike to have it's left hand grip useful for a prosthetic arm. Mulder knew I loved motorcycles. He and I had talked about it one night when we were partners. This was a chance for me to fulfill my dream. And in my current condition, it would be something I needed.

Having the bike meant freedom. I could take it out along the trails, get to the dishes faster, I could go into town alone. Driving the standard-shift truck was a pain in the ass with the arm. The steering was stiff, so shifting on the fly was tricky. With this, I could ride anywhere I wanted. From the picture, the extended seat meant I could have a rider on the back. It was perfect.

I sent information to the seller and he sent me photos of the bike. It was amazing, deep metal-flake midnight blue, chrome outfitting, no sissy bar, she was beautiful. There were no custom graphics painted on her. That I liked, I hated that painted up shit guys did to the beautiful paint jobs they put on the bikes in Sturgis.

I made an appointment to meet with the guy within the next week, then sent an email to Skinner to set up the drop of money for payment and how to handle getting registration for the bike. He was surprisingly supportive in my request and we hammered out a plan. I would have my own wheels by the next week.


After Alex had been furiously typing away on the laptop, he stood up, smiling brightly. I smiled back, but he just walked past me into the bathroom. I took that as a hint not to pursue it. So I busied myself with folding the laundry on the kitchen table. I had just finished when he entered and got a beer from the refrigerator.

"Anything exciting on the web?" I asked. He turned to me, drinking deeply from the bottle, with a curious smile on his face.

"Next week, I'll need a ride. I'm buying a motorcycle."

"A what?" Shock didn't begin to cover what I was feeling. He was buying a motorcycle. The thoughts swirling through my head were too many and too jumbled for me to make any coherent speeches to him about danger. All I did was nod and said, "Well, good."

He promptly tromped out of the room. I looked out the window as the rain streamed from the windows. I couldn't even go out for a walk. I guess this was a good thing. Alex was always cooped up in the house. He needed to get out, have his own means of transportation other than his legs. He couldn't drive the truck. It was a step in the right direction for him.

Not having transportation was the reason he was the one who always volunteered to walk to each dish. The freedom of being outdoors was essential to him, to his peace of mind. He never asked for anything except open access to the mountain. This would probably be his ticket off the mountain. I knew the paths by heart. He could be on his way. He didn't need to stay with me, now that he didn't want me. I took his request for a ride as a gentle way of saying goodbye.

At the beginning of the next week, we were driving to a man's home to purchase Alex's new toy. I sat in the truck while he talked with the man selling the motorcycle. He disappeared after a while into the garage. That was it. He was really going to buy that motorcycle. And I neither could have said nor done anything to stop him.

My only thought was how long he'd pretend to be content in the cottage before I woke up and found him gone. I knew I'd sit up and see the bed made and the few belongings that he cared about would be in a duffle bag on the back of his motorcycle. Off he'd go, after his new life, safe and secure...well, as safe and secure as Alex Krycek could be. From the accounts of his life that he'd shared with me, things were usually hectic and downright dangerous.

In my reverie, I didn't see him walk over to the truck. "Hey, wake up, sleepy head. You head back, I'm gonna take the bike around for a test ride and follow you home."

"What if you don't buy it?" I asked. He gave me a look that said, 'Are you kidding?' so I started the truck and headed towards the cottage. It was rare that I turned on the radio since Langly always monopolized it, but on this occasion, I sought out something classical, something soothing, something that would ease my fears in their turbulent state. The music was loud, roaring almost, "The Ride of the Valkyries" leading my way down the highway. It was invigorating. I felt like I was free for once, like I didn't need to hide myself from the world at large.

I didn't even remember what that felt like, still don't. That was before I met Langly and Frohike and Mulder. That was before Susanne, when I was young and had a life. I had a sex life, to be honest. The occasional encounter with a woman at a Con wasn't what I was used to. No, I had been used to dates, and courting, making love more than once or twice. I reveled in that, making love to a familiar partner, someone who knew what I liked, and I knew what she liked. It made me proud to hear, "You're so good every time." I'm terrible with first times. Just ask my ex-wife, Jill.

I continued on the road, music turned down to a respectable level until I heard a rumbling. I couldn't imagine what it was, thunder maybe. Soon enough, I saw the figure in the rearview mirror screaming up on me, midnight blue helmet to match his bike. Alex blazed past me, not before weaving a bit before me. I had to shake my head to clear it of the vision I had of slamming the truck into his rear tire. By the time I had released my white-knuckled death grip on the steering wheel, he was five hundred yards down the highway ahead of me and opening the lead by leaps and bounds.

He bought it. And he raced me home. Well, I let him win that one. At least he was there one more night.


I'd forgotten what it was like to be on a motorcycle. The freedom and excitement of the wind all around you, screaming past your head. The helmet he sold me was all enclosed, but I would buy a new one, with my face showing. I liked the air on my face. I'd need riding shades. I saw the truck ahead of me and thought I'd play with John a little. He didn't even slow down, he was such a cool character.

Back at the cottage, Langly and Frohike came out to see the new toy. Langly wasn't interested in motorcycles so much, but he did appreciate a fine piece of machinery and American craftsmanship. Frohike was the gear head, like me. He was born in Pontiac, Michigan, so it made sense. We were checking out the open carburetor when John pulled into the driveway. He got out and walked over.

"So you bought it," was all he said.

"Yeah, I did," was all I could think of to say back. He just nodded and walked into the house. He didn't look very happy either. Jealous? I hoped not. Then again, why should he care? I was just the fag who hit on him, made him feel like he was cornered, that he needed to confront me about kissing him. Shit, the way he pressed against me, I thought he liked it. I could have just pushed him down and seduced him, at least trade hand jobs. But I didn't, wanted to wait, ease him into it.

I mean, shit, I liked the guy. He was good-looking, really good-looking. Those eyes, blue as the Aegean Sea at sunrise. Crete was good to me, and I'll always have fond memories of that sleepy, sexy island. And I associated John with it, so that I would keep both as good memories together. I had hoped one day I could take him to Crete, to lay naked on the beach together, watching the sun set, kissing and making love to him. Fuck it, it didn't matter, did it?

To my surprise, I found that both Frohike and Langly had an amazing collection of tools. Immediately, I began taking her apart to start cleaning her out. The guy who sold her to me told me he hadn't given her a tune up in about five years. He'd lost his arm in Vietnam and when he came back, his therapy was adapting the bike so he could continue to ride her. He'd hated leaving her as he'd just bought her, but he couldn't help but get called up.

As the years went on, he rode her less and less, and finally, he knew she should be passed on. But it was virtually impossible to sell a bike made for an amputee. He was pleased to see me interested in his bike. And he even dropped his price and gave me his helmet. He asked if John was my boyfriend. I laughed and said I was working on it. Wished I could have said it were true.

We'd stopped the repair tours, since the fair weather was giving us a break and not destroying the matrix board transmitters. Langly had built those, in the hopes that we didn't have to swap them out regularly. I thought it was a great idea, but I still missed those hikes with John. I was getting lazy and I could feel it. I missed talking to him, and joking with him. But he didn't want me making advances. And I didn't think I could control myself.

One morning, about two weeks after I'd gotten Valeska, what I'd named her, I was on the front lawn reattaching her front tire. John walked out to check the weather, with Langly and Frohike joining him. It was beautiful weather for May, still a morning nippy breeze at the higher altitude, but the afternoons were warm and bright. I was working with my shirt off, trying to get a little color. I stopped feeling awkward about my prosthesis, since my three housemates never even gave me a second glance.

When I stood up, I could see John's eyes on my chest, and the color rise in his face. I was thoroughly confused. He confronted me about kissing him. I knew about Susanne Modeski, about his first girlfriend, about the woman he was married to before he'd dove head first into "The Lone Gunman" with the other two. What the hell? Was he interested? Was I jumping to conclusions? There was only one way to find out, so I walked toward the little group.

I couldn't help the little smirk that grew on my face as I swaggered over to where they stood. The little table on the porch held my Goop, so I could get the grease off my fingers. John watched intently as I rubbed the stuff in and wiped it off with a clean cloth. "So, who wants to go for a ride while I test her out?" I asked. Frohike smiled and held his hands up.

"No thanks, kid. I'm too old for that shit. You go, Ringo. All that long blonde hair was made to blow in the breeze." Frohike did so love beating the longhaired jokes to death.

"No freakin' way am I getting on that crazy thing. I've just about skated through some of the hairiest situations in my life to tell the truth. You think I wanna buy it on the back of a death machine with a onearmed Evel Kenieval over there? Forget it."

"I'll go," came the quiet response from the cerulean-eyed man I turned my gaze upon. He smiled at me and said, "I trust you, Alex."

I nodded at him and said, "Grab the extra helmet and let's go."

I took the new helmet that I had ordered and slipped it on my head, grabbing my wrap around glasses from the table. John put his helmet on then stood by the bike to stare at it. I almost laughed in his face, but I knew he'd be embarrassed. I showed him how to sit on the seat with his feet on the pegs and I started up the bike. She purred like a kitten.

John was so tentative when I took his hands and put them around me to hold on. I turned and said, "Don't worry, you won't hurt me," when I felt he was holding too loosely. Oh, he got scared very quickly, hugging me tight from behind. I loved the feel of his hands on my warm skin, still being shirtless. We weren't going far, so I didn't feel the need to dress.

We only went a short ways down the road until I knew where the turn off was to a relatively smooth trail toward the creek. There was a rock outcropping that I had found that was perfect for sunbathing. The creek was on a weird bend and it pooled up a bit. It wasn't Olympic-sized, but I could swim a little. But if I stood, the water barely reached my nipples. Perfect for just lazing around.

When I pulled up beside the rock, John stayed on the bike. I turned to him as I walked toward the rock and said, "Come on, I found this last week. It's great for relaxing. We can sun ourselves like lizards."

I pulled off my hiking boots and socks and lay back in just my jeans. He slowly made his way over and situated himself beside me, opting not to remove any clothing. That was fine by me. I just wanted him to be comfortable beside me. The trickle of the water was calming. The heat radiating off the rock soothed me so much, I hadn't even realized I fell asleep. I woke to find John asleep beside me. I cursed my damn arm because that would have been the perfect time to lie on my side, propped up on one arm, and stroke his hair. But I couldn't prop myself up on the prosthesis. I did sit up and stroke his hair, though. It was medium brown with reddish highlights in it, and a few gray hairs here and there. I was still fully raven-haired, or so Marita had called me.

The well-trimmed beard was a myriad of colors, from gray to blond, with red streaks and darker brown patches. I never let my beard go so long that it would change colors. Normally, it came in dark brown, like the hair on my head. Since the spring began, I was shaven clean again.

His eyes drifted open slowly and I smiled. "We fell asleep. We should head back."

He sat up and looked at me, letting his eyes drift down my chest. "Yes, we should. It'll get chilly soon. You should have worn a shirt."

"Can't do anything about it now. Come on, let's go home." I put on my socks and shoes and strapped on my helmet as I walked toward the bike. He looked at it and sighed deeply. "Something wrong, John?"

He paused a moment, studying the helmet in his hands.

"Are you scared?" I asked, hoping I didn't sound condescending. I was truly concerned. If he was scared, he might not lean the right way on one of the turns and we'd spill. After years of running from dangerous situation to potential disaster, surviving the silo, the amputation, the Tunisian prison and being shot twice by Skinner hoping the third bullet was the blank, I didn't want to buy it on a mountain road on a turn.

"Well, this is only the second time I've ever gotten onto a motorcycle in my life, so yes, I'm a bit apprehensive," he stated clearly. I had to smile at him. Never did this man ever let his guard down. I was never going to get into his pants. I took a deep breath while watching his eyes flicker over the bike, and over me.

"John, just hold on tight to my waist, lean the way I lean and trust me. You did say you trusted me, didn't you?" I smiled again at him.

"Yes, I did, didn't I? How long have you been riding these?" he asked, quietly.

"Well, the first time I sat on one was when I was about six, in my neighborhood. One of the local hoods took pity on me and made me cool by giving me a ride. I was hooked since then. I rode street bikes, dirt bikes, racing bikes. John, trust me, I don't wanna have an accident. I won't speed or hotrod with you on the back. I'm really careful with passengers. OK?"

He must have believed me because he slipped the full helmet on, hiding his face behind the plastic shield and slipped on behind me. I started up and we took off for home. His hands were surer, he had a better grip on my waist. His hands had gotten a little cold in the evening air, but I liked. Was it my imagination, or was he kneading my waist? I couldn't quite tell, but it felt good, whatever he was doing. I know he didn't notice, but riding a bike with a hard on is more difficult than it than you'd suspect, if you've never done it.


Being on the back of that motorcycle, holding Alex, the world whizzing by at sixty miles an hour, I knew that I'd found a place where I could have it all, fear, exhilaration, arousal and release. I could just be, no pretense, no games, just Alex and I and five hundred pounds of steel and chrome. I'd never been this excited, this amazed. Alex was my new hero, my god, and I would do anything to keep this feeling with him. The short ride, all of forty-five minutes back to the cottage, after setting the rules that he was being careful with me, changed me irreversibly. And I loved every second of it.

When we arrived back at the cottage, I couldn't wipe the smile from my face. I know I openly appreciated the view of Alex's body as he sauntered into the house. I watched the muscles in his butt and thighs move under the tight denim of his jeans. He was magnificent, and I doubt he knew it.

More the old Alex had come back when we went to bed that night. I was sitting up in bed, reading. Of course, he sauntered up the ladder and tossed his clothes off. He turned to look at me before getting into bed, giving me a full view of his body. All I could think of was the statue of Venus, sans arms and a head, yet beautiful and beguiling all the same. That was Alex. He wore scars of bullet wounds, stabbings and surgeries. He endured an amputation without anesthesia, without even prior knowledge. And in spite of it all, I found him, albeit lately, to be the most exquisite creature I'd ever had the pleasure to encounter.

We passed the anniversary of our deaths quietly one night. Just Langly, Frohike and I, sitting with a bottle of wine, toasting the lives we'd led. First our civilian lives, then the lives we chose as truth-tellers. The lives we led after wasn't as exciting, or as fulfilling, but, as Alex pointed out, beer in hand to go to bed and leave us to celebrate alone, we were still alive. And survival was paramount to allowing anyone to think they'd bested you. I found Alex's philosophy sad and noble at the same time.

By the time our first anniversary of arriving at the Colorado cottage had come upon us, in the middle of May, we had planned on a special dinner of grilled steaks, huge baked potatoes with sour cream, roasted corn on the cob and Frohike would bake a special cake in honor of the occasion. We'd all taken up strange hobbies while we were exiled, and our little man had become a regular Julia Child. It was wonderful to sit outside on the porch, listening to the music playing in the house, talking a bit about ourselves, telling mostly Mulder stories.

Alex had a few doozies, mostly of Mulder hitting and punching him until he was bruised. I didn't like those stories, but he made us aware of the fact that he'd been instructed to do so by the head of that Syndicate. He didn't have a choice but to betray Mulder and Skinner until he'd been cast off by them, almost killed in a car bombing. After that, he'd used the Syndicate to play against Mulder and to find away to actually save the earth and everyone in it.

After Langly had gone into the house to sleep on the couch, Alex told us about how in the beginning he'd been instructed to seduce both Mulder and Skinner, but neither were the type. He thought at the time he could possibly sleep with Skinner, but out of sheer terror he refrained. I would not like to be on the receiving end of Skinner's wrath ever, and after the account of the blow to his ribs, Alex confirmed he was thankful he didn't have to endure the entire beating.

Frohike also made his way into the house, and Alex and I sat together, watching the fire in the barbeque grill die, drinking our beers. I thought it fitting to have a few, celebrating and all. And the steaks tasted better going down with the bitter, amber liquid. Alex stood and wandered down the porch to the middle of the back lawn. It wasn't as dark as usual with the bright, full moon shining on us. We looked up into the sky, watching a few shooting stars go by, just looking. I thought about making a wish.

"I never just look at them anymore, you know," he said quietly. "Mulder used to tell me about that, just looking up into the sky and looking at the stars. But I always looked up, looking for the threat. Well, as a kid, I was looking for the Millennium Falcon and the Starship Enterprise, but that's besides the point."

I laughed. "I was looking for Fireball XL5."

"The marionettes? Oh, I loved that show! Yeah, TV was better when we were kids. I hate this reality crap. Who gives a fuck who wants to marry a millionaire? And I don't care who's hot."

I snorted a laugh at that. "Why would you? You'd have that contest sewn up." I didn't even realize what I'd said until all the words were out of my mouth. He looked at me and smiled.

Maybe it was the beer, or the full moon and Milky Way behind his head, but when I looked into his eyes, clear leaf green eyes, I had fallen in love with him. It was as simple as if I were a child. I didn't register his increasing proximity until his mouth was on mine caressing and devouring. I was astounded by his force, how he slid his arm around me and pulled me to his body.

"Not here, Alex," I whispered as I pulled away. He took my hand and dragged me into the close, dense copse of trees that bordered the property. The rough bark scratched my skin through my t-shirt as he pressed me against the trunk of the tree. My senses flew about my head in a jumble of emotions. Fear, longing, lust, heat, anxiety, anything I could feel, I did. I felt the shooting stars through my belly, I felt his hands on my body, I felt the heat of years without human contact building in me. His mouth was on my throat, gently licking and nipping my skin, hands cupping my ass, my arms wound around his neck, carding through his hair.

"Oh, God, Alex..." I rasped out before being silenced by his mouth again. He pressed his groin on mine, and I felt how hard he was. Matching my erection, he pulled back and smiled at me.

"Is that a pickle in your pocket or are you glad to see me?" he whispered in my ear. He made me giggle. Then he made me moan as he ground against me again. Oh, sweet torture, just enough friction to be thrilling, but not enough for release. My hands slipped around his back and I reached down for his ass this time. Rock solid muscle, just as I thought, and I pulled him back to me.

I think I remember being the one to start the rhythm. I pulled him tight against me, rubbing him on me. The heat that shot through me was almost painful. Our groins together were incendiary, two hot members seeking contact with each other, two men seeking mutual pleasure. His chest slid against me, all sinew and rib bones against me. I reached up to pull my shirt off, but Alex didn't right away. He let his mouth trail down my throat and shoulder to take my nipple in his mouth. He was so gentle, yet his mouth and teeth were firm with my tender flesh. The contact caused my cock to stiffen more.

He seemed to spend an hour on my nipples, going back and forth, but it must have only been fifteen minutes. I couldn't stand it any longer. It had been so long for me, I wanted the release. We moved against each other, counter rhythm, his and my jeans making a faint rustling sound. I felt hot and wet, from sweat and proximity. It was building, that sweet clutch and collect in my belly, as Alex kissed me again. We held each other tight and moved in sync. It consumed me, brought me up, pushed me over. As Alex took my mouth is one last searing kiss, I came, jerking in his arms, moaning into his mouth.

In my haze, I didn't notice him coming as well, pulling me tightly into his arms. We stayed like that until we could both breathe normally, still wrapped tightly in each other's arms. I felt him nuzzling my neck and gave him a little push. He stepped back slightly and looked down at me. "Was it good for you, John?"

I smiled at him. Then I pressed my face into his chest. Embarrassment had overcome me so quickly I could barely stand it. His hand smoothing my hair down felt good. I felt his breath in my ear. "I'm gonna go to the house, put out the fire and clean up. Go in, clean up and get to bed." With a last kiss on my cheek, he left me there.

He knew. I needed a few moments to myself to gather my wits and I needed to do it privately. As he walked away, I felt the chill night air invade the uncovered parts of my body. It woke me up and sobered me quickly. I'd never quite understood the term "fuck-drunk" until that moment. Alex was truly intoxicating. I listened as he moved about the front of the house and just walked in past where he worked to clean up our barbecue. I went straight to the bathroom to shower. I was reluctant to wash his scent from me, but the cooling semen on my body was stinging my skin. I would have to wash my underwear the next day as well. I could do Alex's with them.

When he finally made it to bed after his own shower, he didn't speak to me. He didn't need to. I wasn't expecting him to declare his love to me. I wasn't even expecting him to say he wanted to do it ever again. I knew he liked it. And I knew he liked me.


Who knew that Byers would dry hump me in the back yard? He tasted good, tasted sweet. I like a man who can kiss, too. He was just what I needed. I hope he's up for more. I'd have to go slowly. Not too slowly though.

In the morning, we took our time getting up. We had breakfast together, acting like it was any other day. He made breakfast, I watched. He washed the dishes and again, I watched. He smirked down at me when he finished. With arms folded across his chest, he said, "OK, now what? I'm totally bored."

I laughed. "Back to the rock? We can bring lunch, swim a little, sunbathe. It's gonna be like ninety degrees. Bring the sun block."

He was out of the room quickly, getting the few things we'd need for the picnic. I started getting food things out of the fridge for lunch. He'd have to actually pack the stuff. The pond was cool enough to keep the food and water bottles cold while we swam.

Once on the bike, he held me tight with the pack on his back. Both hands were flat on my chest and he molded himself to my back, like second skin. I even leaned back a little on him to let him know I liked it. I did. I liked him.

We both settled the food in the plastic bags in the water to keep cool and I started shedding my clothes. He looked at me funny a moment, then also undressed, removing my arm as well. I turned and got in the water before he took his pants off. In all the time in the cottage, John never walked around naked. I'd never seen him without his shirt and pants. Well, once I saw his naked back, but that was fleeting as he pulled his pajama jacket on. Until last night.

When I turned back to him, lying back to float in the water, he was in to his waist. "Shit! Alex, you never said this was cold water!"

"The food is cooling in it! Did that escape you?" I lay back again and began floating around, kicking my legs.

He swam over to me and just stayed down, enjoying the warm sun on his face and the water around him. Me, I let the sun caress my entire body. So my dick was a little shriveled from the cold water, big fucking deal. We backstroked around for a while until I knew I needed a rest. The rock was warm, as I predicted, and I just laid back on it, completely naked. I looked over at John, who still stood in the water up to his waist. He had his arms crossed and he looked as if he was shivering.

"Hey, you'd better get out before you start to turn blue. Come up here, the rock is warm." I patted the stone space beside me and waited. Tentatively, he walked out of the water, revealing more and more of his body to me. Long legs, lightly covered in thin hair led to strong thighs, not overly muscled, that met in a tangle of dark curls sparkling with water. His cock nestled in close to his body to get warm, and I understood. So I did what any normal slut would do. I slowly looked him up and down, focusing on his groin, and let the slow smile grow on my face.

He smiled, too. Then he joined me. It was heaven, more so this time. I could feel his proximity more than I could the last time. I heard him breathing beside me. Oh, this was too perfect. After half an hour or so, I sat up on my elbow and stretched backward. John looked over at me. I looked down at him.

Our lips met gently, and John was surer of himself than the last time. A hand came up to steady my face as we kissed deeper. I propped myself up on the ending of my left arm, surprising John as he looked down at it. But he's got class. He sat up and rolled me over onto my back to kiss me. This was amazing. I didn't have to feel like a freak.

John's lips made their way across my face, down my neck, and to my collarbones. When I felt him licking and sucking my shoulder, I knew my cock must have been pointing at the sky. I grabbed his arm and pulled him back up to kiss his mouth. His chest landed flat on mine. His smile made my heart skip. It was a perfect day.

With the trickle of water in the background, the warm sun and complete lack of bugs made me more comfortable than I could remember for ages. John laid partially across my body, our cocks side by side as we kissed and caressed each other. I knew I wanted more so I rolled him onto his back and kissed him a last time before moving my attentions southward. His nipples were as sensitive as they were the night before, standing for me after just a few moments of play.

He was in great shape with a strong, flat belly that was virtually hairless. We resembled each other physically and it was comforting. His navel was shallow and tasty after his swim, still containing a drop of sweet, fresh water. He giggled as followed the soft line of hair down to where his cock bobbed upward. I kissed around it, completely ignoring his erection and concentrating on creating a rosy glow on each hip. I raised his legs and began kissing the soft flesh inside his thighs. I felt the muscles jump under his skin. The smile never left his face.

"You know what I wanna do, right?" I asked, making sure I wasn't giving him an unwelcome surprise.

He nodded. He was ready. Again, I leaned on my left arm, which wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, seven years later. It left my right hand free to touch him as I guided his cock to my mouth. He leaned up on his elbows to watch, grinning down at me. John was turning into a slut.

He wasn't as endowed as I was, but he was delicate, well-sculpted and just enough for me to enjoy without having to overwork myself. I tested him, letting my lips graze the head, enjoying the hiss of breath from him. I continued the kisses around the head, up and down the shaft until I felt him trembling under me. Time to up the ante.

My tongue snuck out and stole a swipe at the back of the head. His groan told me everything I needed to know. Tickling the soft, tight flesh, tasting the heat and salt of him, around the head under the defined ridge to dip into the slit and taste his fluid. He was as delicious as I thought he'd be. He was sweet, which surprised me since I never see him indulging in junk food. I was so carried away by his taste, I started downing his cock like it was candy. The gasps as the head entered my throat were music to me.

A hand slipped into my wet hair as he caressed me while I bobbed up and down on him, feeling each ridge and wrinkle of his skin. His pubic hair tickled my nose as I slid down to his groin. He rose off the rock to meet me. I just let him thrust up into my mouth, pick his own rhythm as he slid in and out of my throat. Hearing his breathing pick up, I knew that it wouldn't be long until he was coming. I stroked his balls a bit, feeling them drawing up close to his body and took the chance to tickle them little while he was otherwise occupied.

That was all he needed to begin spewing his hot come down my throat. He cried out to God and me and a few vulgarities thrown in before he laid flat on the rock, breathing and stroking my hair. I sat up, swallowing, waiting. He was covered in sweat, flushed and beautiful. I hoped that it was as good as it sounded. The birds had begun their chirping again, after they were abruptly silenced by John's reaction.

I stroked his thigh to remind him that I was there as he came back down to Earth. "Alex, that was...better than anything, I can tell you that!"

I laughed. "It was your first blowjob?" His nod was a bit embarrassed, but I didn't care. I was proud to be his first cocksucker.

I crawled up to lie beside him, but he slid his arms about me, pulling me to lie on his chest. I stroked his chest, waiting. Would he freak out? Would he get regretful? Neither. John surprised the hell out of me by leaning down to kiss me. "That was so damn sexy, Alex."

"I enjoy my work when it's someone I like," I said. I waggled my eyebrows for effect. It had an effect on him, all right.


I held Alex's face between my hands and kissed him deeply. I could taste myself in his mouth and it was the most amazing experience for me. I'd never had a man touch me like this, and it was so different from a woman, so sure, so strong. I felt a bit vulnerable and delicate. I thought that women must have felt like that with me. It was amazing to have finally experienced oral sex and I was thankful it was Alex. I owed him an orgasm.

I kissed him deeply and more thoroughly, pressing my tongue into his mouth. He let me roll him onto his back so I could slide my hands over his body. He was so perfectly formed, regardless of the multitude of scars that made him shiver as I touched them. His left shoulder was warm and I tried to touch the scarred end, but he pulled away abruptly. "I'm sorry, Alex. I didn't...I mean...I..."

He put his fingers across my lips to shush me. I shook them off to kiss him again. I would have to remember not to touch that arm until he was more comfortable with me.

I was entering new territory with my tentative caresses on his chest. Most of the time, I was grasping a breast in the past, to caress it and rub the nipple. Were his nipples as sensitive as mine? Would he want me to suck them as well as play with them? I was so confused I lost my place kissing him and almost bit his tongue. Alex pulled away to look up at me.

"John, relax. Just do what you like to have done. Chances are, I'll like it, too."

I smiled down at him and laughed a bit. He was right. He must have done that with me, just doing what he enjoyed hoping that I would like it, and I liked all of it. I didn't think I could go down on him, not sure I was up to it. I was still quite nervous. I went back to work on his mouth, and decided to explore his entire body with my hands. His nipples were as sensitive as mine, causing him to hiss and moan in my mouth, arching off the rock.

I continued my manual exploration, tracing his ribs with both hands, causing him to giggle and pull away. I looked down, amused. "You're ticklish?"

"No, you just caught me off-guard," he stated, quickly regaining his composure. Oh, he couldn't get off that easily, I decided. I tested his side, where the bend of his waist was, and he jumped. His cock bobbed with the sudden movement, and I remembered what I was trying to do in the first place.

I just looked at him, hard and throbbing, his massive member that was much larger than mine. I stroked down to his hips, combing my fingers through his pubic hair. His was softer than mine, and I spent time exploring it. To hear Alex whimper and moan as I brushed my fingers over his shaft sent a bolt of delight through me. It felt much like my own cock, but he was bigger. I started just letting my fingertips brush against it, getting basic contact before taking it secure in my hand and stroking him. Oh, God, how was I supposed to suck it?

I kissed Alex again, stroking him gently. He pulled away and breathed, "Wait, stop moving your hand."

I pulled my hand away and waited. I thought to myself, oh, I screwed up, he's going to berate me. He'll be pissed, I'm a fucking failure.

"John, God, that feels so good. Just hold it, let me do it." I could barely hear his whisper over the rush of pond water, but I resumed my hold on his dick and kissed him again. He rolled me to the side and we lay together side by side, him controlling his half of the kiss. I felt him moving, thrusting into my hand, fucking it like it was...me, I guessed. His mouth latched onto my shoulder and he started sucking the skin, marking me well under where a shirt would cover it.

Our mouths met again, each swallowing the other's moans until his arm pulled me tight against him. His thrusting had gotten erratic and I felt his whole body shuddering. His mouth pulled away from me and he began babbling, mostly in Russian, but I did recognize "Ivan". Although, he pronounced it "ee-vahn". I felt his semen pour out onto my hand and spurt on my stomach. Then I had an armful of Alex across my body, panting and smiling.

He kissed again. "Thank you, Ivan."

"My new name?" I guess we had reached a new level in our relationship.

"Only when we're alone."

I smiled into his hair. "I can call you Sasha, then?"

Green eyes burned into mine. I know he could feel me swallow all through his body. I guess I went a little too far. "Only when we make love." Then the ready impish smile spread across his face. I was relieved and smiled back.

We lay there a while more, enjoying the gentle sun on our bare skin. But his stomach growled, then my stomach growled. "Time to eat, John." I nodded in agreement. "First, we swim to wash off." He jumped from the rock into the water, butt first. I laughed as all the water splashed up on me. That man was probably the biggest kid since...Mulder, probably. Or Langly. Those two were bookends sometimes. I slipped into the water to and swam to where he floated. His arms came about me and we kissed again.

The afternoon was one of the most pleasurable for as long as I had been in hiding. We played a bit in the water, then ate our lunch leisurely as we lay in the grass under a tree. Neither of us worried about being seen or insulted for lazily making love in the shade

After eating, we slept for a while until we felt the chilly, late afternoon breeze on our skin. But before letting me up to dress, he gave me another blowjob. I relished coming in his mouth again.

Afterward, he just stood, reattached his arm and dressed himself. I was a little puzzled. But I also felt that after the day we had spent together, I had the right to ask him questions about how he felt. "Alex, what's wrong?"

He turned to me and smiled a little puzzledly. "What do you mean? Nothing's wrong, John. You'd better get dressed."

I stood to dress but persisted in my questioning. "No, really, why did you get up so fast. I should...you know..."

"Blow me? John, you're not ready for that. You still think you're straight and playing around."

That was a shocking thing to say. I wasn't really completely sure where he was going with it. I couldn't just let him think that. "Alex, whatever you may believe, I'm not playing around here. I really do like you. I'm not faking this. And I'm not just taking pleasure. I hope I'm giving you pleasure, too."

He looked at me, the big fake smile on his face softening to a little grin of understanding. He stood before me wearing only his t-shirt and briefs. His hand brushed through my hair. "John, you and I are not the same. You think we are, but we're not. You were straight. Maybe you had the errant thought about kissing a man before, but you've never done it before me. I was always gay. I've fucked women for power trips or business, but never just for pleasure. I've always preferred men. Boys, mostly."

"Boys? Like...uh..." I was stunned. I couldn't speak.

He just laughed at me. "When I say boys, I mean, 20 years old or so. When I was younger, I liked older guys. But, as I got older, my tastes changed to younger men. All of age, all consensual. I've been raped enough to not want someone else to deal with it."

Alex was a shock a minute. "You were...when..."

His hand cupped my face as his lips soothed mine. "It was a long time ago. I've faced my demons. I'm a big boy, remember?"

"Yeah, really big," I murmured, grabbing his crotch. He jerked in my hand and I felt his cock twitch. "Someone needs to be attended to, I think." I took a deep breath and thought to myself, it's now or never. You can do this. He deserves this.

Dropping to my knees, I pulled his briefs open to free his growing member. I let my tongue swipe over his cock head, like he'd done for me, and the shudder that ran through his body threatened to shrug me off. He reached down to hold my head. I took his cue and opened my lips to allow him to thrust. He liked having the power, being the one moving. I just concentrated on moving my tongue on him and sucking hard, which I later found he loved.

His thrusts were shallow, thankfully, and when he was ready to come, he pulled out from between my lips and jerked himself off the rest of the way. His come splashed on my chest, which I didn't mind one bit. It was hot and slick. He slid to his knees before me, thoroughly exhausted from his orgasm. I ran my finger through the come on me to taste him. He looked down at me and smiled.

"Shoulda came in your mouth, huh?" he murmured as he sat back on his heels.

"I would have let you," I whispered back. I reached up to pull him to me, to kiss him again, and his mouth acquiesced under mine. It was a rare moment when he gave up his power to me.

After washing my chest again in the pond, I dressed and we took a few more moments to just enjoy the time alone and hold each other. When Alex was steady again, we climbed back on the bike and rode back to the house.

I felt different. Very different. I was relaxed. I was almost boneless, leaning better on the bike, feeling the cracks in the road differently. They weren't jarring to me anymore, more like they were sending me through a series of undulations to get past them. Elation shot through my spine as we rounded the last curve before the little cottage came into view. I gave his midsection one last squeeze before we were in full view of the windows. His back pressed to me momentarily before he went back to business-like Alex again. That was the Alex who didn't look back at me as he got off the bike and walked toward the house. The same Alex who ignored us all at meals and walked around completely naked when he pleased.

That would have new meaning for me. After having been so intimate with him, I could never look at him the same way. It would never be the way it was. Even if Alex wasn't different, I was. I knew I'd have to hide it from Langly and Frohike, they wouldn't understand. We were comfortable as men living together, since they had assumed the four of us were straight. It had always been like that, even before Alex. Three bachelors, well, after my divorce that is, and we were all not interested in each other. And here I was, interested in one of them. The newest member of our group. And he was clearly interested in me.

That night, Alex went to bed as if nothing was different. And so did I. And the next few days were spent as we always had, cleaning, shopping for food, doing laundry, playing video games, reading, watching movies. I just accepted that it might have been that one time. Until one morning Alex said to me, "Pack some lunch. We need a walk. No bike, just a walk. I'm stir-crazy."

"Me, too. If I don't get out of here, I'm going to turn violent."

"Make sure you've got a blanket to nap on, too."

I was surprised by the last comment, but I knew why he'd mentioned it. If we weren't going to the pond, there may not be a rock or grass for us to be comfortable in. And I'd found a few blades in a place I didn't quite enjoy having grass stuck. So I packed the bag and met Alex who was waiting on the porch for me. I followed him down the steps and into the woods to track to anywhere. We walked over an hour until we found a clearing to spread out the blanket and spread out on it.

Immediately, Alex reached for me. He pulled me down underneath him and we kissed that way for the better part of the morning. Slowly, clothing was shed until we were both naked, writhing and rolling about together on the scratchy, woolen blanket. At one point, Alex had maneuvered me on top of him and as we kissed, his hand kneaded my ass thoroughly. It was so sexy, to feel his large hand moving over my skin, squeezing and grabbing. But when I felt the finger starting to trace around my hole, I sat up.


John was an anal virgin. I knew that. I wasn't planning on pushing him into that. All I wanted was to touch him. He was one of the softest men I had ever had in my arms. His skin was creamy and perfect. He smelled musky and healthy. One lousy thing about rent boys was they were either ripe from being on the street or they were bruised all over. I never liked that.

I wanted to be John's first, but I wanted to do it right for him. When I finally took him, I wanted him to be begging for it. I wanted him so sure he wanted me to make love to him that he would plead with me. I wouldn't humiliate him, not the way that I was broken in. He would be made to feel sexy and wanted, treasured.

When I felt his ass, trying to see if I could at least play with him a little, he sat up and moved away a bit. "I'm not ready for that, yet."

I held my hand up, palm out, showing I wasn't about to hurt him. "No one's asking you to, John. I didn't bring any supplies with me. I don't even think there are condoms or lube in the whole damn house. I was just touching you. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you."

He took a deep breath, with eyes closed as he always did when he felt a great relief. "Just touching? Not...you know..."

I sat back and smiled. "I don't expect you to trust me to fuck you bareback. I'm sure I'm clean. You, however, aren't so sure. And I'm not insulted by that. Even after a year..."

John covered my mouth with his and pushed me onto my back again. After having his fill of me, he pulled back and said, "I do trust you after a year. I trust you with my life. However, I do not trust the people who may have done things to you. And that I know you understand." He kissed me again and fell fully on top of me. We kissed and touched a while until, with a mischievous grin, his kisses began traveling down my body.

Oh, I know he was only learning, but he got points for enthusiasm. He tried to do all the things I do to him, and even though I didn't want him to try, he attempted to deep-throat me. Of course, he choked himself, so I sat up and stroked his face while kissing his neck. "Ivan, let me show you," I whispered as I lay him back to work on his cock. He came quickly and I drank every drop. I loved the way he tasted. The only man who isn't overly bitter that I'd ever been with. I thought I was falling in love with him.

He tried again on me, succeeding in making me shout so loudly we scared the birds away. I was always vocal. That's why I never tried anything in the cottage, and I told him so. I can't control myself when I'm in the moment. It's easy when I'm being used, or using someone, but the few times I was truly enjoying myself before him, losing myself in the sensations, I was unable to control my voice, what came out and how loud I was. All I could think of that day with John was how wonderful it would be to take him to my old estate in Russia, the rolling hills there, take him horseback riding, and swim in my lake, and climb the rocks there. He would have loved it. And I could only speak Russian in that moment. So I called him "Ivan".

After lunch, and a nap, when he again let me go down on him, John also allowed me to explore his ass with a finger. I only had spit for lube, but it was enough to keep my finger slippery enough to feel good and not hurt him. I moved slowly in him, trying to get further into him with each stroke until I found his prostate and just kept stroking it. He jerked over and over until he came, and I swallowed him down like fresh cream. He giggled as I pulled my finger out.

"Alex, you are...fucking amazing!" he shouted. I laughed at his vulgarity. My John was always wellspoken, soft-voiced and he never swore. I was changing him. I hoped he liked what I was doing. "That was just...oh, God, is that what it's like to be fucked?"

His blue eyes were wide and bright, my dinner dishes were back. The small grin on his lips was testimony to his enjoyment of the way I was treating him. "Yeah, but fucking is better. Much better."

He buried his face in my neck, pulling me tightly to him. "We have to go shopping tonight. I want to try it. Tomorrow, we'll go to the pond and you'll fuck me. OK?"

I pulled back. "Whoa, hold your horses, are you sure? That's a big step. And if you're scared, you won't have a good time, and neither will I. Consider it carefully. If we're going to do it, I want the first time to be good. If you're iffy, we're not doing it. I'm happy with what you give me." I kissed him again, letting him know I just like being with him, touching him. I never wanted more than he was willing to give.

He sat up, looking clearly into my eyes. "I wouldn't say it if I wasn't sure. Tomorrow, I want you to fuck me."

The look on his face was almost business-like. He meant business. We drove to the store alone that night and while he shopped for food and various sundries, I got the supplies. I knew it was easier if I got them. I could just picture how red he'd get if the cashier looked a few seconds too long at the condoms and lube.

It wasn't as bad as he thought. The cashier was new and didn't know him. The last overnight guy knew we were always together. This one, though, I didn't think she'd have any issues with it. The labrette piercing she had kinda tipped me off that she was pretty cool. She barely looked up at John as she processed the order for him. I stood by the door and waited for him. He looked at me guiltily a moment before smiling like a little boy who'd made off with the sacred cookie.

The next day he could barely contain himself. He bounced around the house, almost waking Langly and Frohike. Then again, those two could sleep through a hurricane. We got on the bike and rode the 45 minutes to the pond where he practically jumped off before I came to a complete stop. He ran, bag in hand, to the pond and pulled all of his clothing off. Turning to me to quickly shake his package at me, John jumped into the pond.

I had to laugh as he splashed around like a little boy, sending tall sprays of water onto the rock where I sat watching him. "Come in, Alex, get that arm off and get in here!"

I stopped a minute, thinking about what he said. His smile was what urged me on. The arm didn't matter. It just was what it was, nothing we could do about it. So I did as he asked, tossing my clothes away and placing my arm in a spot where it wouldn't get wet and I slid into the water. He immediately pulled me close and in our embrace, we spun in the water, almost like a ballet. He did not stop kissing me until I had to all but shove him away.

"You're really excited about this, aren't you, John?" I asked. He looked so elated. I took his hand and pulled him to the edge. "Come on, time to dry out and start this."

He followed me up onto the rock into the brilliant early June sun. I lay back and immediately had a wet and warm man draped across my body. His mouth descended on mine and we were off. Hands furiously found their way around bodies. He jerked his hips every time I touched his cock. I kept my touches centralized on his ass. I needed him to be used to the contact. The man was one surprise after another. He writhed and moaned into my mouth every time I touched him.

When I pulled away to reach for the bag with the supplies, he rolled onto his back and pulled his knees up. I sat back and stopped. "John, no, relax. I'll do this. Trust me."

He smiled at me and let his legs go. They fell open to me, beckoning me to lie there. I covered his body with mine and kissed him again, making sure to lean up on my left arm to keep my hand free to touch him, soothe him. John wanted so much and hadn't experienced anything close to what he wanted. I couldn't let his first time be haphazard and rushed, just to "get it over with".

I stroked his cock, keeping him on the edge, pulling away when I thought he was too close. Kissing was essential, so intimate and focused. He wasn't aware when I pulled my hand from his body to pop the flip cap on the lube and pour some on my fingers. When I first touched his hole, he moved slightly, but I felt him quickly relax to allow me to explore again. My mouth concentrated on his nipples, making each stand at attention.

One finger quickly became two and he barely noticed. John allowed me open access to him, to stretch him and ready him for me. He was a brave man, I'll give him that. For a formerly straight man, he was taking to the gay arts quickly. His hips bucked up to meet my thrusts of fingers and I heard a moan escape. Then, the magic words were said.

"Alex, please...oh God please..."

I pulled out and moved to kneel between his legs. He glanced down at my cock, then back into my eyes. Naked pleasure showed on his face, but apprehension crept into his eyes. I lay beside him, the side with the lube, and kissed him again. He went with me when I rolled him to his side, both our left sides. I wanted my arm free to touch him, hold him and guide myself into him.

It became a test of skill and learning to finesse and romance a virgin and seem suave with one fucking arm. A condom I can get on me with one hand, no problem. However, lube is cold, regardless of whether or not it's been lying in the sun. And I had to pour it directly on my dick, well, on the condom, but still. I almost lost my erection right there. John reaching back to touch my hip quickly restored my passion. I moved his leg forward and scooted into place.

"Ivan, take a deep breath and let it out when I push in."

"Is it going to hurt?" he asked, not scared, but curious.

"It may. Or burn." I kiss his neck and lick at his earlobe. "I'll be as gentle as I can. Stop me if you need to."

My brave lover took me in easily. He gasped as I first fit into him, but when I stopped and reached around to grasp his cock, stroking him gently, not moving, I felt his body relax again. I slid back, partway out of him and then right back in slowly, feeling every inch of his tight, hot ass around me. I barely noticed the latex barrier between us.

John started moving with me, thrusting forward into my hand and back onto my cock. I barely had to move. He was so hot, so sexy and I told him so, kissing his neck and shoulder between pledges. Speech was lost to me as I felt him tighten, stroke after stroke, tighter and tighter. His balls drew up and I knew he was going to come.

"Ivan, come for me, come," I barely whispered and bit his lobe. He spilled onto my hand and across the rock into the pond. With his ass spasming around me, I couldn't hold back and I let myself go. Jerking and moaning, I came in his ass, holding him tightly about the waist. We both quieted our shouts and shaking, but I didn't release my hold on him. I pulled him tighter to me. We sighed happily in unison.


Alex lay behind me, panting and still moaning into my neck. His arm held me fast to his hot, sweaty body. His softening cock was still buried in my body. I took the time to consider my new situation. Was I gay? Was I bi-sexual? What was is about the man that made me want what I begged Alex to do to me? Would I be attracted to other men after this? Or was it just something special about Alex that made me want him?

And I did want him. I felt alive at that moment. Every nerve ending in my body was alive and alert. The cool mountain breeze tickled my chest. His hand stroked my belly. The rock beneath us was hard, but smooth, not chafing our skin. Moving was not an option for me. I dared not break this incredible connection I had with this man.

Our greatest enemy, even more than C.G.B. Spender, or the aliens. We had always known what side they were on. But Alex vacillated constantly, and ended up with us. I hadn't known where his loyalty lay, and was so wary of him. After a year of such close proximity, living beside him, I was not only sure that he was always on our side, but I was positive that I was in love with him. And if that made me gay, that was fine. I never had any prejudices against anyone in the past. Suddenly, I became open to prejudices from other people.

He eventually pulled out of me and moved away to clean himself. I rolled onto my back to enjoy the sun on my body. I was never an exhibitionist, but with my lover there. I wanted him to see and touch my body as much as he liked. I'm sure he once thought I was disgusted or unnerved by his missing limb. By that point, but I hoped that by now I had convinced him otherwise. His arm didn't matter to me. I loved him, not just parts of him. The truncated limb and what was left was what I loved as well as his face, his lips, his eyes, his cock. Yes, John Fitzgerald Byers, former FCC employee, son of the great Bertram Byers, loved a man's cock.

I felt him lay beside me and I turned to him, wrapping my arms around his body. I lay half on and half off him, kissing his face and cheeks and lips and neck. He smiled at me, holding me close. "So, John, what did you think? How was your first time?"

"Wonderful," I said. I rubbed my chin on his chest and made him laugh.

"Hey! Your beard tickles! Stop that!" His face lit with his laughter and it was a look I will never forget.

We swam again, ate under the tree, made love again, dozed in the shade wrapped around each other like puppies. I had never felt so loved in all my life. He told me a story that day, of his family in Russia before he'd walked into the lion's den. He was a baron's son, with a beautiful estate, lands set aside for him, still under his father's control regardless of the Communist state of the country. They lived in the Ukraine outside Odessa. It was beautiful country, he remembered. He'd ride his horse all day, lay beneath trees like this, sometimes with the daughter of a servant, or a son.

I heard the pining note in his voice, the days of longing for his former life. His parents had been ousted by the Consortium, blackmailing his father into giving him up to the project. He hadn't seen any of his family since he was seventeen years old. He'd gone from a life of leisure and pleasure to fear, abuse and more fear and abuse. When they trained him, they beat and raped him to get him to be complacent. The threat of more beatings and rapes were enough for him to comply with their training. They failed to realize that they had trained him too well, and after a number of years, the rapes and beatings didn't deter him any longer.

I wanted to weep for him, but the last thing a hurting person wants to see is the face of pity. I gave him a solitary kiss on his chest when he ended his tale at the day he met Mulder, for I knew the entire story from then forward via Mulder's testimony. By the time Alex had declared he'd told me enough, the sun was hanging low in the sky. It must have been well past six and Frohike and Langly were no doubt awake and wondering where we were.

I was slow about dressing, which made Alex impatient. "Come on, man, let's get a move on. If Shorty and Dizzy catch on, we're sunk. You want fag jokes for the rest of the time we're here?"

He was right. Langly and Frohike would be relentless. And my resolve was fragile as it was. I cared deeply for Alex, loved him dearly, but I was still vulnerable to the harsh reality of the world, and the unusual situation we were in. I finished dressing and climbed on the back of the bike and we sped home. I held him tightly, not for fear of coming off the bike, but just to keep him closer to me, just until we had to be in the cabin and not touch any longer.

When we got back, Langly was on the porch with Frohike grilling steaks. "Almost done, boys, better get washed up now," Frohike called to us as we walked over. The food smelled heavenly. We went in to wash our hands and met up in the bathroom. Alex, ever the playful imp, grabbed me and pulled me into a kiss. He kissed me thoroughly and gave my crotch a gentle squeeze. Then he left me there, panting, throbbingly hard, and wanting nothing more than to have him inside me. He was a cruel man, indeed.

We ate as if nothing was wrong, after I had calmed myself and joined the group. Langly and Frohike didn't say anything about where we had been. That meant they didn't know anything. If those two kept silent, it was due to ignorance and not courtsey.

We were careful, he and I, not taking chances in the house to touch or kiss. We weren't the giddy-kissy sort. I could control myself as well as he could. We started our patrols again, visiting each of the satellite dishes, but it became infinitely easier to do with the bike. Alex would drive us to different turn offs and park the bike in the brush. We would walk surprisingly short distances to the dishes, shorter than I had thought. I guessed that's how the builders had gotten them up there in the first place, on trucks. They wouldn't have wanted to carry them too far.

We would service a few dishes, and then Alex would service me, or I would kneel before him, professing my love through my oral skills. He would reciprocate, but usually with me laying flat and kneeling over me. He needed the power over me, I was happy to give it. He introduced me to rimming, as well. I never particularly understood it, but it felt incredible. I wasn't has adept at it as Alex was, but he seemed to appreciate my attempts.

I enjoyed goading him into overpowering me. It wasn't a rape game, but more like a very pushy lover. He took pleasure in pushing me on the ground, albeit gently. I never wore a bruise. He would turn me onto my stomach, pull me up to my knees and slap my ass, all the while telling me I belonged to him. He would speak in Russian when he would get passionate, when he was close to orgasm. Ivan was one of my favorite words.

I knew the day I almost took it too far when we were riding down the mountain and I kept reaching down to touch Alex's denim-covered crotch. He would push back on me a little, of course trying not to crash us on the bike. I knew I was playing a dangerous game, but I trusted Alex. I knew he was in control. And I wanted to drive him out of control.

The last time I reached down to his stiffening cock, he abruptly pulled off the road and behind some large bushes. It didn't matter really, since no one ever traveled up the mountain to see us anyway. Fear spiked up my back like static electricity. It was fear of what he was going to do to me, how pleasured he'd make me feel, how long he'd make me beg to be fucked, or let me suck him. Alex was good for that, touching me, teasing me, knocking my hand away if I tried to touch him, or myself, to keep me on edge. An hour, two hours, three, he would tease and touch and tickle and taste and make me want to die and kill and kiss and love him until we were lying in a puddle of ourselves on the forest floor.

But this moment was far different. This time, we were on the back of his motorcycle and I was behaving dangerously. I loved the idea that he needed to pull over in private to deal with me.


John never, ever took chances when we were on the bike. It was so beyond him to act this way, I wasn't sure what he was thinking. He didn't get into the rum candy that I knew of. Yet, there he was, grabbing my dick, making me hard. He wanted to push me. This would be fun.

I parked the bike got off, pushing him back as he tried to get up and follow. "Stay there, John! What the fuck's wrong with you? You want to kill us? Huh?"

He turned to me and looked at me with huge blue eyes. I saw a bit of fear there. He was a good actor. I pushed his shoulder.

"Move up on the seat, up front." I shoved his back. He got the hint and scooted forward. I got on behind him. The bike was still rumbling underneath us. This would be perfect. I reached forward and unbuttoned his jeans and began yanking them down. I'd turned the man into a slut. He wasn't wearing underwear. He'd planned the whole thing.

"You slut, goin' commando for me? Oh, you're gonna get it," I growled in his ear. I felt the shiver go down his body. His shirt came up over his head fast, as he raised his arms to help me. I reached immediately for his nipples, not even caressing but pinching and twisting them one at a time. He leaned back on me. I had a crotch full of ass. And such a strong, sweet ass it was.

"Get your feet up on those pegs," I growled as he lifted his legs. His naked, open ass was a gift to me. I quickly unzipped and braced my legs on the ground beside the bike, straddling behind John. His breath was coming fast and ragged. The fly on my jeans popped easily and I freed myself. Hard and throbbing, I saw the backpack on the ground where John tossed it when I got off. Damn, that's where the lube was. Ruin the mood...fuck it. I spit in my hand and wiped it on myself. He wanted it rough, this was as rough as it got.

When I pushed in, he invited me like I was royalty. I had loosened him over the last few weeks, but he must have been concentrating on being relaxed. I slipped right in with no problem. John's head fell forward and I felt his groan travel through his body. His arms were holding him up on the gas tank. John knew better than to grab the handlebars. I had promised him I would teach him to pilot the bike, but this wasn't the day.

I moved slowly at first, grinding on John's ass as I thrust forward. He shouted his pleasure out. Oh, I was in heaven. I thrust in rhythm into him, trying to jerk his body forward, slam him into the seat. He moaned so loud, I thought that if someone passed by on the road, they'd hear. We never worried about that. John was tightening on me, trying to bring me off, so I slowed. If he wanted to play, I would play.

I slowed my thrusts, dragging through him slowly, making each and ever push agonizing to him, and leaned him forward to press all the way into the leather of the seat. His head tilted back to my shoulder and I licked at his neck. Perfect, he was open, ready and unaware of my intention. I reached forward past him and grabbing the accelerator, I revved the engine under him. Yes, I created the world's largest vibrator. I could feel the rumble under my own balls and it was a fight not to come right there.

John held on a bit longer and let me thrust harder, while revving at least a twice more. On the last rev, he threw his head back, almost nailing my nose, and screaming, "Alex!" I couldn't stop myself from coming while he was spasming around my dick like that. I just let him take me over the edge, pumping deeply into him.

He laid back across my chest for a long time after that, still impaled on me, and the pressure around me kept me hard. We calmed together. He turned slightly and kissed my lips. "You're a part of me now. Forever."

It was a strange thing for him to say. I didn't think he cared about things like that. I pulled out and got off the bike. He looked back at me, over his shoulder. I didn't know what to say or do. He had feelings. I had feelings. Shit, we were fucking guys, man. I couldn't just tell him I loved him. It wouldn't have sounded right coming from me. Fuck it, I couldn't take his look. "Better get your ass off that bike before you leak on my seat."

He dipped his eyes a moment before following my instructions. I didn't watch, turning to zip up my own jeans. The continuing drone of the motorcycle engine began to grate on me. It was starting to get to me. John had gotten up and he stood waiting for me to get back on the bike to continue on to the pond. I got on, as did he and we rode the last ten minutes to the pond. I didn't climb right away onto the rock, or into the water. I went to sit under our tree in the grass. He followed and sat beside me. His head rested on my shoulder.

"So, tell me," was all he said. And what should I have told him? What did he want to know from me? I was almost clueless to how the conversation should progress. But I owed John honesty.

"I'm not comfortable with feelings." And that's how I left it. And so did he. We didn't swim that day, but lay in the grass making love. Hands touched constantly, lips met over and over, not furiously, but enough to convey the necessity of contact. John allowed me to be on top of him as long as I needed to, thrusting and stroking inside him. I had to reapply lube before I'd had enough of him that day, and that was the day we stopped using condoms. John trusted me. I didn't let him down.

We went back that day quieter than usual. I think Frohike noticed, but he kept it to himself. That night, when we'd turned the lights out, John got out of his bed, came to mine, kissed me deeply, then went back to his own bed. I smiled into my pillow. He was taking a big risk doing that. I respected him for doing it.


We continued to visit the pond and make love under our tree. I was sure that Langly and Frohike knew, since they never spoke about women they wanted to have sex with any longer in front of Alex and I. Sex seemed to become a non-existent topic. Aside from that, things did not change in our quartet dynamics. That was, until it all fell apart at the end of the summer.

Alex and I spent a rare afternoon in town, gathering more books for our meager collection. We had stopped in to the 7-11 that was on the way to our road when a spectacular boom reached our ears. I was standing by the door to the establishment when I saw a flash up Mt. Blanca and the explosion. I watched as the woods began to smoke. And more explosions erupted, one after the other, where I estimated the dishes were.

I wasn't aware of the hand that grabbed my arm and thrust me toward the bike. Instinctively I swung my leg over, adjusting my helmet as Alex was already on the road, helmet and glasses in place. He sped away from Salida, westward. We didn't stop but once for gas and to continue on until we reached Moab, Utah. By that time, both Alex and I were both bone-weary and frightened about our situation. He paid for our room in cash and we walked there together.

"What the hell happened?" I asked, as if he knew more than I did. He closed the door and the drapes in our room so no one would see us.

"Don't know. But either Frohike blew the dishes, or they did. And you know he'd want us the hell out of there. I hope he and Langly got away OK. Be sad to lose them." He got up and went into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. I heard him urinate, then flush. I walked into the tiny cubicle after he vacated it and closed the door as well. I lifted the lid and seat and bent over, letting whatever was upsetting my stomach come out. There was a quiet knock on the door as I heaved, but I didn't answer.

I walked out to wash my face in the sink that occupied the wall beyond the door. I stood there, looking at myself until the dark figure joined me. His arms came about my shoulders and he just held me.

We ended up in bed thrashing about, quiet but fervently fucking. We slept a while, until about 3 AM, when he woke me and pulled me from bed. We quickly dressed and I slipped from the room behind him, silently. The bike was forgotten, along with our helmets as he entered an SUV and popped the passenger door open for me. I climbed in and we were off. I had a fleeting thought of the owners of the SUV, feeling sorry for them. But it stood to reason, they probably weren't running for their lives, as we were.

I didn't speak to Alex, nor did he speak to me. I watched the signs float by as we headed for Las Vegas. I was lost in my own world of misery. My home was gone, again. This time, my friends might really be dead. We were on the run. And there was nowhere else to go but into hiding again. It wasn't anything I hadn't been used to, but before, I had Frohike and Langly to comfort me. Frohike always knew what to do and taught me well over the years. We always had friends to help us along the way, friends I knew and trusted. I did trust Alex, but I was still so unsure of my future.

In Las Vegas, we finally faced our pursuers.

Alex pulled into an apartment complex and we were immediately greeted by three men and a woman who ushered us inside. I didn't know Alex had made any calls, but he must have on our last stop for gas. The woman showed me into a bathroom and told me to undress. She stood, not looking at me, but still in the room. I realized she wouldn't leave me so I just removed my clothing and left them on the floor. When I stepped into the small separate shower stall, she gathered my clothing, including my watch and wallet and left me there. I didn't hear her leave the new things for me, including a new watch and wallet.

Alex joined me in the shower after a while. He stood under the spray watching me. He didn't look scared or uncertain, but I knew he was different, very different. His arm came about me and pulled me close. I threw my arms around his neck and began to cry.

Yes, a grown man cried in the arms of his lover. I cried for my friends, for myself and for him. He stroked my head until I gathered myself together a few minutes later. He put a gentle kiss on my mouth and smiled at me.

"Priss left us new clothes. We're gonna get a new car, too. And weapons. John, this is for real. The Super Soldiers found our place. I don't know about Langly or Mel, but the house is gone. My friends looked on the satellite. We have to assume we're alone. You OK with that?"

I looked into his clear green eyes. He was all business at that moment. I nodded dumbly to him, water rolling from my face. He smiled and held the bottle of shampoo out to me. "Wash my hair, huh?"

He turned his back to me and I proceeded to wash his hair. He didn't wash mine, but we did spend quite a bit of time washing each other's bodies. It was nearing sundown and we were both yawning.

"Come on, Ivan, we'll go to bed and you'll make love to me." He took my hand, both of us wrapped in towels. I had to tuck the towel around him and I finally realized why he never covered up in the cottage. He couldn't. It was nearly impossible to wrap the towel around your waist and secure it one-handed, something I had never thought about. I hadn't thought about a lot of things Alex couldn't do with one arm, but I was learning.

Alex led me to a private bedroom with a huge four-poster bed. He tossed his towel away and crawled onto the bed. He held his hand out to me and I followed him on. "Ivan, I want you inside me. I want you on top of me and making love to me. OK?"

"Yes, Sasha, yes. Tonight, you're mine." Alex's friends knew his taste as our favorite brand of lube was conspicuously sitting on the nightstand. We kissed for a long time, just touching, mapping body parts and remembering. I made sure I knew every inch of skin, every scar and scratch and wrinkle and patch of hair. He lay back and allowed me to have power over him, trusting me. I even licked that one part of him I'd never been good with, opening his entrance with my tongue, preparing his hole for my breach. It was different, musky and salty, but completely him.

Lubed and hard, I slid into him and settled on his chest. His arm slid around my shoulders and he kissed me. I thrust into his body, only moving my hips in a shallow rhythm, feeling all of him around me, tight and hot and throbbing with his heartbeat. When we both finally came, it was almost an anticlimax. We lay together, not cleaning ourselves up, and just went to sleep. It was the second time I had slept in his arms in a bed. I wanted to savor every moment of it I could.

In the morning, about 30 minutes before sunrise, Alex shook me awake and said, "Let's get moving. We have to get the hell out of here."

I dressed in the clothes that lay on the end of the bed, boxers, a black t-shirt, jeans and a brown sweatshirt. The clothes Priss had left the night before. Socks sat atop a pair of hiking boots. There were four semi-automatic pistols stilling on the ottoman by the end of the bed, and over a dozen clips of ammunition. Alex began loading the clips into the guns, and the extras into his leather jacket. He slipped a shoulder holster on and then handed me one. I wasn't sure where he got them from. His friends must have left them for us.

I was surprised that the clothing fit so well. Alex handed me the last two pistols and I jammed them into the holsters, one under each arm. I slid the two clips he handed me into my back pockets and waited for him to direct me. Guns used to scare me, but Alex taught me to shoot several different weapons. At that moment, I was very happy to have taken the time to learn. There was a pounding on the front door, startling both Alex and I. They'd found us.

We looked at each other and a silent plan was made to escape. The pounding was louder, more insistent the next time. Alex grabbed my hand and we began threading our way down the hall to the kitchen. There was a service door that led down a back staircase to the garage. The pounding in the apartment stopped. They knew.

Alex and I ran to the only car in the parking area, only to be met by two tall men, taller than we were. Alex stopped and so did I. I'd never seen a Super Soldier up close like that. There was a look on his face, a menacing look of murder. There was no emotion, just the will to take us apart at his choice.

Alex had told me that Super Soldiers were of two varieties, elite and foot soldiers. The elite were the deceptive ones, like Knowle Rohrer and Agent Crane. They could think for themselves, deceive humans. The foot soldiers were just that, with a prime directive to take out the humans that were known to the elite as rebels. We were two of those rebels.

Both Alex and I drew our weapons, although I believed it would not do a bit of good to try and shoot them. Alex fired at one, I fired at the other. Both beings took our shots and began to shake violently. I heard popping sounds and the bodies fell to the ground. Soon, both were a bubbling mass of molten metal and blood. I felt my empty stomach turn over. Alex's shouts quickly brought me back to the present and we piled into the small sports car and headed out. He sped out of the parking garage and we were soon off the main roads and headed toward Los Angeles. That was where he told me we would hide out.

The drive was almost four hours longer than it should have been with Alex taking side roads and service roads. After a while, he let me drive into the city itself. He lay back in the seat to nap a bit while I drove the last 2 hours. He trusted me a lot to sleep the way he was.

When Alex finally woke up, he wiped his eyes briefly and began directing me through the city into a suburb I'd never heard of, Inglewood. It seemed quiet, residential. He directed me down a street and into a driveway. He pulled a garage door opener from the glove compartment and the door slid upward. I was amazed at the plans Alex had in hand and waiting in case something went wrong. It was nice to know I never needed to worry. The garage door closed behind us and the overhead light went on. We got out.

"Come on, we can hang here a while. This is a resistance residence." I followed him into the place. It looked like a doctor's receptionist decorated it. Plain furnishings, lots of boring sitting areas, non-descript landscape prints, nothing extraordinary. He led me up to the second floor where a bedroom and bathroom were, also as boring as the first floor. He took all of his clothes off and began pulling more out of a dresser on the far wall. The bed was made of the same honey-colored wood, plain sleigh head and footboards. I watched as Alex removed his clothes, letting them drop to the floor, then his arm came off and he placed it gently on the bed. He turned to me and said, "There's a big tub in there. I'm gonna soak a while. You can come join me if you want."

There was a quality to his voice I hadn't noticed before. There was a resignation, a sadness that was reflected in his eyes. He led the way for me, starting the water in the plain peach and white bathroom. I decided that it was just as well that I didn't know what was really going on. I shed my clothing and joined Alex in the bathtub. I grinned a bit. He'd added rose-scented bubble bath.

I slipped in and immediately went into his arms. We kissed gently and just sat back, looking at each other. "Alex, what next? What do we do here? Where did your friends go? How long until we have to leave? I'm just so..."

"Scared?"

"Uncertain. I'm uncomfortable with all this secrecy. At least let me in on it."

He kissed me again. "John, suffice to say, I'm making it up as I go along. I'm not sure what I'm doing either. It's good that I got you with me. It's easier than if I didn't know where you were."

I dropped my gaze from him. "But you'd rather I wasn't here."

He barked a short laugh at me. "Yeah, I wish you were somewhere completely safe. I know I can take care of myself, but I take bigger risks alone."

I knew what he was trying to say. In having me with him, he was playing it safer, ensuring his survival better than if I was ensconced in a safe house and he was on the run alone. I sat behind him, rubbing the suds over his shoulders, massaging the tension away. It didn't truly go away, but he was better. We finished by showering off and drying each other with thick towels I'd found in a linen closet in the hall by the bedroom door.

The setting sun had become an indicator to us to sleep, but I needed to eat. I led the way for Alex and I to the kitchen. It was stocked with a good deal of food, so I made cheeseburgers in the big iron skillet I found hanging on a rack on the wall. From the freezer, French fries were laid out on a cookie sheet to bake. There was a bag of salad in the crisper and ginger dressing in the door shelf. We ate in silence.

The television helped. In the living room, we had a large-screen television with over 300 channels. We settled on the news. It seemed to be a slow day in the world. We retired to bed to make love before burrowing in each other's arms and sleeping wrapped around each other.

It was the last time I would ever see Alex Krycek.

I awoke alone in bed, with a note next to me. I was surprised he'd stopped long enough to write it himself.

Ivan,

I'll be gone a while. I left the guns and ammo for you. You should be able to hold your own if you need to. Bug sweepers are in the pantry broom closet, sweep the house every day. If I'm not back in an appropriate amount of time, leave and don't look back. When you drive the car far enough away, a detonator hidden in the trunk will destroy the house. A cell phone in the glove box will only dial one number. It will reach Skinner, who will make arrangements for you to join him and Mulder in Australia. Throw the phone FAR away after you make the call. Be careful and don't worry about me. I'll be fine.

I love you.

Sasha

I folded the note and put it back on his pillow. Burying my head in the covers, I let the words wash over me. He was gone. I would never see him again. He would die in battle. I knew it in my heart, in my bones. I would still wait a few days, just to make sure, but I knew. I moved to press my face into his pillow and get as much of his scent as I could. Just the idea of him naked in bed with me, and his perfume filling my nose, my cock began to respond. Oh God, I had just been with him and I wanted him again. After all those days of lazing in the sun, in the shade, touching and kissing, mouths and cocks and hands...

I felt my body jerking as I came on my hand. I hadn't even realized I was touching myself. I lay there, sticky and chilled from lack of a blanket within the air conditioned room. I knew I had to move, or else I never would. I did rise and showered and dressed and made the bed and washed dishes and cooked food and watched television. I floated through existence and just concentrated on making it to the next activity, moment to moment.

Two days went by virtually painlessly. But the third day became hell for me. I hadn't counted on the solitude getting to me. I had been with my friends so long, with Alex for such a long time, that I didn't know how to handle the quiet. It was something I thought I'd always wanted, always craved, but in the end, my two best friends and my lover puttering around, yelling, playing video games, threatening each other, that had become the sound of home.

Alex hadn't so easily become one of us. He didn't try to fit in, and we were just scared. That was until he murdered Morris Fletcher. We hadn't known whose side he was really on before that, but afterwards we realized that he was on his own side, with his own sense of justice. We were friends of his and he needed to avenge us. I never even thanked him.

As the last streaks of pink and orange became red and purple, I packed the few meager belongings Alex left for me. The house had a laundry room so I washed all of my clothing and packed them in the duffle bag that was left for me. Alex had left it. He never had any intention of returning. I had known that my first day alone when I explored the small house and found every drawer and closet empty and scrubbed clean by the previous tenants, more resistance agents.

I packed as much of the non-perishable food as I could in the car, so I would have some supplies on the road, hoping I would not have a need for money. As it was, Alex was paying for everything on the road trip, so the few dollars I had with me weren't necessary. I counted my cash. I had a little over a hundred dollars. It would have to do.

The car was a generic-looking Chevrolet Cavalier, but I didn't count on the engine having been worked on. It was a sedate midnight blue, with matching velour interior, which made me think of the midnight blue motorcycle and the man...

I quickly shoved the memories away. He was dead. I didn't have time to mourn. Feelings were a costly expense I couldn't afford while on the run. If I were to survive, I would have to take whatever I felt for whomever I cared for and forget. My friends as far as I knew were dead already. There was nothing I could do. I would have to go on alone.

I had forgotten that Alex wired a proximity detonator for the car and when the house exploded as I reached about four streets away, I jumped and almost crashed. It took some careful maneuvering to get me back onto the interstate and going north. It didn't matter where I would stop. But I had to go somewhere.

As I reached open highway, as open as Los Angeles could get, I pulled the cellular phone from the glove compartment. A wave of pain floated through me as I noticed the hands-free earpiece for the phone dangling down. I inserted it in my ear and turned the phone on. It directly made a call to a number that I didn't know could contain so many digits. Obviously, it was bouncing between satellites. I heard the gruff, "Don't say anything," before I registered it was Skinner answering directly. "In San Francisco, there's an apothecary located on Taylor and Union that is expecting you. You have two days."

The connection was cut. I opened the passenger window and chucked the phone out to bounce along the highway. Skinner had lived in San Francisco when he was an agent. He knew the place inside-out. I trusted him.

Driving from LA to San Francisco wasn't going to take me two days, I knew, but I could take my time at least. And I could get to my meeting earlier. I had two whole days. But I drove throughout the night and in the early morning hours, about three-thirty, I rolled into San Francisco's Chinatown. And I kept on rolling. I would have to dump the car, but where? I found my way from my meeting place to the cable car. Then I traced its path, more or less, and dumped the car in a parking lot of a shopping center. I spent a few hours walking around until the sun came up and the cable car began running.

I was excited to finally get on the cable car, to ride through a city I'd heard so much about, a place I'd wanted to visit. Alex and I had joked about living here...no! I wouldn't think about hanging off this car with him, my arms around him so he wouldn't fall, only holding on with one arm. I wouldn't think about getting coffee and Danish and sitting at a quaint cafe along the route like the dozens of other gay men I saw along the way. No, it would not do for me to wonder about it. I would put it out of my head.

I stopped along my route for a cappuccino with cinnamon, the way Alex liked it. He would get one on one of our rare trips into Salida. He told me about the way he would laze about Florence, when he was in a higher position with the Syndicate, drinking cappuccinos and flirting with the Italians, men and women. He'd had many lovers back then, and missed having so many different lovers. He thought I had taken offense to his offhanded comment, but I hadn't. From someone who also grew up with very little love and security, no matter how much money my parents had, I knew the desire for many people to love oneself and to give comfort and security in abundance. We were similar creatures, and we were bound by more emotions than just lust and passion.

The apothecary was open when I got there. He was a leathery-looking old Asian man. He waved to me to follow him into a door leading down into a basement. An equally old woman, I assumed his wife, took up the watch at the cash register in the front. The entire place was full of herbs and oils and plants and roots, most of which gave me a nauseous feeling. I covered my mouth, hopefully to hide how green I must be coloring up.

Turning a corner, the old man seemingly disappeared. A young woman stood in the midst of a dank and cold basement storage area that was poorly lit and still stinking of those damned roots. "You're John Fitzgerald Byers," she said, not asking. I nodded. "I'm Lita, Li Mai is my father, and Jing Mae upstairs is my mother. Walter called and said that you'd be coming by. But if you took more than two days, we should shoot you on sight."

"How comforting," I remarked.

"If you took more than two days, we would know that you had been overcome by the Super Soldiers. They're everywhere, you know. They used to communicate through satellites, but the government has been changing the frequency so often, the aliens can't keep up with us." She pointed to a couch that was covered by a surprisingly clean quilt. "You look like you've been awake for days. Why don't you get some rest and later I'll bring you some food?"

I nodded silently. She smiled at me. Her eyes were so dark, black marbles in white cream. I knew I was exhausted at this point if I was conjuring such trite and ridiculous metaphors as that. I lay on the couch and closed my eyes, not realizing how tired I was as I dropped off to sleep immediately.

I woke hours later to the smell of delicious food. A tray with a covered dish sat before me, accompanied by a cup of tea. It was a simple meal, fried beef and vegetables atop a bowl of rice. She'd left chopstick with a fork, which I didn't need. Lita was a good host. I ate with a gusto I didn't know I possessed, being hungrier than I had thought. She came down later after I had finished and took the tray. She showed me where the bathroom was down there and left me alone again. I went back to sleep. There was nothing else for me to do.

I awoke to Lita shaking my arm. She smiled at me. She was absolutely the most beautiful woman I'd every seen, with delicate Asian features, smooth skin the color of tea with milk. I was enthralled. I thought about making love to her, hoping I could erase my pain and fear and hurt...

"I've gotten your papers together. In three days, you will fly to Hawaii. Two men will meet you and you will stay there until your visa can be arranged. Then you'll fly to Australia." She left so abruptly I didn't have a chance to ask her any more questions. So I did what I thought was best. I went back to sleep. Blissfully, my body took me back to the blackness of rest that I needed. Was I recharging my batteries? Was I escaping? One of the symptoms of clinical depression is excessive sleepiness. I was not depressed. I was tired.

The next day found Jing Mae putting a bowl of oatmeal down for me as I sat up. She nodded at me, smiling, then made her way quickly up the stairs. I finished the bowl and drank the delicious tea, then lay back down to sleep, again. Were they drugging me with tea? I lay dreamless for hours. Then he came back to me, laughing at my jokes, kissing me, fucking me...and then he was gone. And I stood in that fucking desert again, only I wasn't holding Susanne's ring. I was holding a gold pendant shaped like a left arm. I woke suddenly, violently, scaring Li Mai who was motioning for me to follow him. I got off the couch and walked up to the store. The sun was shining brightly, hurting my eyes, making them water.

My God, it was gorgeous out. It was a perfect August San Francisco day. I was so unaccustomed to the sheer heat of the west coast, and the humidity of San Francisco. That was the first time since we had relocated that I missed the east coast. Maryland was pretty bad in the summer, but further north, in Maine where my family would summer, it was lovely. I wanted to cry at that moment, cry for the loss of my family, my friends, my lover, my life. I thought of my father at that time. Did he think I was dead? Was he even alive himself? So many unanswered questions.

A car waited on the curb and I unquestioningly got into it. I knew the driver was taking me to the airport. San Francisco was going to be a memory to me, a dank and quiet basement and a ride on the cable car. That was enough for one lifetime, I guessed. I was again in my haze of oblivion, not seeing the scenery as it went by me. I didn't see the landscape go by. I just looked at the window itself. I saw my own reflection in the window. What I saw did not please me.

I looked tired, old and sad. It was exactly how I felt. I didn't think I was much older than Alex, he always just seemed younger. He was full of life when we were alone, laughing loudly showing his even, white teeth, green eyes sparkling with mirth and mischief. I missed him so much at that moment, my chest felt as if my heart would breach the surface to escape through the crack of open window that let the warm, moist air blow on my face.

At the airport, I exited the car and the driver had a bag in his hand for me. It was not the bag from the car at the shopping center. In it were more clothes, my new identification, birth certificate, passport and money. Lots of money. The driver nodded and got back into the black Lincoln to zip away from the curb. I walked into the airport.

In the carry-on bag, I found a book of numbers and a ticket. A ticket for Qantas. With the ticket a note read "Got your visa early. Tell Walter hello." I laughed, letting a few tears fall before wiping my eyes with the back of my hand. No Hawaii. I would be among friends again soon. At least one. Skinner was there. I didn't know if Mulder was there, but it didn't matter anymore. Frohike and Langly were gone. Alex was gone. I had to find a new reason to live, the one last person I could call friend. I wondered fleetingly if Skinner was gay. Then I laughed at my absurdity and walked toward my gate.


I sat reading the journal that was tucked away in a side pouch and my heart was still beating rapidly. Alex kept one as well, like I did. Oh, God, he loved me, as much as I loved him. And his last line to me was, "Don't worry. If I don't come back in life, I'll be with you in your dreams." He'd written that he'd given instructions to Lita to slip this book into my bag so that I could read it on the plane. Even to the end, Alex considered my feelings.

The good thing about first class is the lack of distractions as in coach. I remember the days when my parents would fly us in first class when I was a boy. It was a nice memory of my mother. I sat there, smiling out the window, clutching the book to my chest, passing the time with my memories.

We had stopped briefly in Los Angeles, and I laughed. I should have stayed there. I did not get off the plane. We soon took off again and I was back in the air, headed directly for Melbourne. The phone number I was left was a voicemail that had instructions for me on it. I called from a public phone in the airport. It said to take the flight and look for a man holding up my new name, Andrew Beaufort. John Fitzgerald Byers was killed when his Colorado mountain home was destroyed in a gas main explosion, killing his housemates, Melvin J. Frohike, R. Patrick Langly and A. N. Krycek. I guessed we had his last name wrong. And he never corrected us.

I drank quite a bit on that flight, letting it lull me into a still sleep. No dreams came to stir me, no memories haunted me. The flight attendants were blessedly scarce and I thanked the tall red-haired one profusely for bringing me coffee an hour before arrival. She wasn't as slender as flight attendants were portrayed on television, but her hazel eyes, more green than brown, were full of laughter as she told me that I spoke in my sleep. She hoped that Alex knew how much I loved her and that she was a lucky woman. I didn't correct her that Alex was a man. Then I fought my memory to see if I dreamt of him and why I was calling out for him.

I disembarked from the plane and found a short, blond man waiting, holding up a sign that read "Beaufort." He smiled and held out his hand. "G'day, mate. Wickering's the name. Taking you to the station."

I didn't think true Australians really said that. He was a chatty fellow, telling me he worked the station with Drummond and the rest. Drummond? He must have meant Skinner. I didn't think Mulder would ever take a dignified name like that. He explained that a station was what they called a ranch there. He told me Steven Bannon and his wife, Maureen, were there living in the main house, with their son Charlie and daughter Melissa. He explained that Maureen was a spitfire with red hair to match. I guessed he meant it was Mulder and Dana Scully. I was happy that they had survived. He told me about Drummond or Drum Rowe and his equally spitfire redheaded wife, Vivian. They had a daughter they called Melanie. Skinner had married again. That was nice. And they had a baby together.

"Although, there's talk that she's not his with all her curly black hair, I tell ya. But you can't mistake that nose and those eyes. That's his little girl and he's a fool for her, bald head or not. Bought her a pony that they keep in the barn. The other two ride as well, but Mellie knows whose pony Clarkston is. Named him after her uncle, that little troll. Bastard he is, and his 'brother'. That boy can't be his brother. I say that's his bugger-buddy, but that's me, mate. Yeah, James Clarkston and the tall one, Joe Ramone. Says he's not a virgin, but no one can be that naive about the girls." He took a breath and laughed. "I tell you, though, they do make a splash with the ladies. Our girls do love you Americans. Yep, in Rainbow, the nearest town, there's a few bars and the like. You'll like it out at the station. Problem is, takes all day to drive there from Melbourne. So sit back and enjoy the scenery of Victoria go by."

And miraculously, Wickering was silent the rest of the way, unless we were stopping for food or to use a facility. I tried to sleep, but the jeep we sat in had atrocious suspension and the roads, while paved as any road in America, were pitted in some places. It would be nice to see my friends again, I thought. I wondered how they would look. Langly with his signature black glasses and long blond hair. Would he have cut it? I didn't want to speculate on anything. I wanted just to wait and see. Agonizing would just make me cry.

At the station, under cover of darkness, we rolled down a long dirt road to a well-lit house, with border lights, making our way there easier. The house was magnificent, looking as if it covered almost an acre. There seemed to be wings on it, bigger than any house I can recall, including my grandparent's estate home in Connecticut. We pulled in and I reached back to get my bag from the backseat. Wickering led the way toward the front steps that led to a wide wraparound porch. The entire house was all white, shutters and everything. It was too dark for me to see the roof. Abruptly, the double front doors opened and a very happy-looking couple stepped out to greet me. Mulder and Scully had never looked so wonderful in all my life.

"Andrew! Oh, I missed you so much!" She threw herself in my arms and held me surprisingly tightly for a woman so small. It was not lost on me that she used my new name. She took my hand and pulled me into the house. I felt my bag being taken from my other hand and the doors closed behind us. She looked up at me in the dim light of the foyer. "You must call us by our new names. No slipping. From now on, Maureen and Steven Bannon are the owners of this sheep station. OK? Drum and Vivian Rowe are our co-owners. And you'll get the rest. I think Steven is trying to tell Wickering he can go back to the bunkhouse, that this is a family thing. You ready to see everyone?"

I could only nod. I followed her into a large lounge with many scattered couches and chairs and friends. Skinner stood holding a little girl who looked exactly as I'm sure he did as a boy, only wearing a pink Winnie the Pooh nightgown. She looked as if she wasn't much more than a year old, and she was fast asleep on his shoulder. I wasn't prepared to see his former assistant, Arlene, beside him, smiling widely at me. Charlie was asleep on a couch, dark red hair gleaming in the lamplight beside him. I assumed Melissa was upstairs in her bed, asleep.

Frohike and Langly stood and met me in the middle of the room, drawing me into a three-man hug. My friends were safe. I was safe. We had a place to live. They looked different as well, older and tired, like me, but they were different. Langly had cut his hair and his glasses were gone, as were Frohike's. Frohike had died his hair black and he looked quite distinguished. They'd been there only days before me, but had made an impression on Wickering at the pub already. Those were my friends all right. Steven handed me a glass of wine and said, "Welcome home, Andrew." I was home.

"What took you so goddam long?" Langly whined. I laughed, sipping my wine. "Shoot, we've even had time to hit the pub waiting for you!" The mirth was apparent in his annoyance.

"Figures you'd find the places to waste time and money," I accused. Frohike patted my back.

"It's good to have you here. It was tense there a while. But somewhere in the back of my head, I knew it would all work out."

I was exhausted, excited, and extremely aware that I have every right to enjoy my family's excitement at my return. We ended up drinking and laughing and talking that entire night, and despite my weariness, I let Langly and Frohike take me out to their new-found drinking establishment. It was a little strange when they were addressed by their new names, but I got used to it pretty quickly. I staggered back to my new bedroom in the bunkhouse happy that I had made it through. I could be proud of myself. My newfound strength would prove to be my necessity in the near future.


Tending sheep is hard work. I'd been at it almost a month before I really settled into the routine of the place. Joe, Jim and I had our own bunkhouse, after Wickering had left us. It was as if we were back in our warehouse, with the Bannons and the Rowes in the big house with the kids. I never thought I could learn how to care for children so easily, but when it was too hot out to work, I would sit in the cool of the main house and teach Charlie to read, or read to all three kids. Melanie and Melissa were too young to learn, but knew the value of sitting quietly so "Uncle Andy" could tell them an exciting story.

It wasn't hard to get used to the new names. I didn't have much distracting me. I dove headfirst into the work. We worked at rewiring the house, as well, for more computers, more modems, and general security. It was easy to while away the hours in activity. I was also given a car of my own, a decent used SUV that could get me to town quickly. I liked going out to get books for myself. I kept up with Ms. Laurie's work, and found a new author, G. P. McCormack. She wrote gay erotica, something I knew I needed to hide from my family.

My room was my sacred place, where I kept my show library and my hidden one. Drum was a great carpenter and made me a bookshelf with a concealed cabinet below. That was where I kept Ms. McCormack's work. I began reading lots of spy novels as well, those of which my family thought me silly to indulge in. I needed the distraction. And the memory.

Around Christmas time, Joe and I were shopping for the children when he broached the subject. "Hey, man, I just wanted you to know, I knew about you and...it's cool, you know. I just...I guess I was jealous, maybe."

I shook my head. "You were jealous of me...and another man?" Joe smiled and laughed at me.

"Well, sorta. I mean, I wanted a lover myself. I prefer women, though. Then again, he WAS sex on two legs. Did he ever tell you why he walked around completely naked after his showers?" Joe was serious. He wanted to know that. It was my turn to laugh.

"See if you can tuck a towel around your waist with one arm and hand. Besides, after a while, it was kinda nice." I know I shouldn't have let that smile grow on my face, but I couldn't help it. Joe blushed. He knew and he didn't care.

"Man, when Jim an' me were on the run, we knew you'd be OK. We knew he'd take good care of you, make sure you lived. That's why it was so quick for us to get you here when you finally surfaced. Skinner had the paperwork ready and waiting after our phonecall. It sucked to blow the place up, but with those two people sniffing around, it couldn't be helped."

Joe and I hadn't really talked about anything since I had arrived. It was most likely a well-known fact among our family that I had been with... Christ, we didn't even say his name. Not ever. It hurt. I didn't know what to do about it but try and forget, the way I tried to forget with Susanne.

After Christmas and new years, in 2004, things seemed to calm down quite a bit. We received word from Doggett, who had remained in America with Reyes and Kersh that the Super Soldiers were slowly taking control and the fight would be a harsh and bloody one. The resistance was silent and active, making weapons of mass destruction that would only harm Super Soldiers and not humans. It wasn't easy. It was like "smart bombs" that killed people and left the buildings they lived in. It was a serious issue that the resistance needed to consider, taking back the planet and making sure we kept it safe for ourselves.

Of course, there was no word of Alex. I didn't think of him after the holidays were over. If he was still alive, he was busy and I didn't need the added distraction of worrying for his safety. He made his choice the morning he left me in bed alone. So I let that part of me go and did what I did best, worked and ignored everything.

When autumn started, I had to muse to myself that I should make an effort to get out and find a new significant other. A woman or man, whomever struck my fancy would be fine. I just couldn't imagine spending all my time with the children. Or the sheep, either.

Funny thing about sheep, you get used to them quickly. I never thought of being a farmer. Joe didn't mind so much, so long as they weren't cows. Drum wanted horses actually, but they were difficult to keep in that area, and there was more money in sheep with mutton and wool being sought after more than in America, apparently.

I had been out on a Saturday afternoon, getting my books, knowing that the winter would be boring and cold with lots of rain. It didn't snow where we lived, but we didn't get much of it in Maryland, either. I was pulling into the parking area, thinking about washing my old Land Rover when the motorcycle caught my eye. It was a midnight blue Harley Davidson. I couldn't tell you much about it after that. I noticed the elongated seat for two people to sit astride it comfortably.

I shook my head and continued on into the bunkhouse, not even looking at the house. I knew it was just a visitor from town, someone probably for Joe. He was a lot more social than he used to be. He'd even begun seeing a very nice lady who lived in town. I hurried to my room to put my books away. I barely heard the knock.

I opened the door and saw Charlie standing there, holding his teddy bear as he always did, looking up at me with huge blue eyes. "Uncle Andy, Mommy said you to come home." At close the three years old, he had a firm grasp on language and how to speak pretty well.

"Sure, why don't you take me there?" I said, holding out my hand for him to take. He led me to the house, to the kitchen door. He walked in and then ran right through to the living room.

A man sat at the kitchen table drinking a beer. He turned to me and my breath caught in my throat. He stood with an easy smile on his face. "Hi, I'm Matthew Blake. You must be Andrew Beaufort. Nice to meet you."

He held his hand out and I took it. We shook gently for a few moments, like we were meeting for the first time. I saw a flash of apprehension in those sparkling green eyes. A flood of emotion took me over, the pain of his loss, the hurt of his abandonment, the love I grew over that year we were together, all of it rushed over me like a tidal wave. I let the smile grow on my face, letting him see that I was well, I wasn't angry. Our hands were still joined, but they had stilled. Moments crept by, crawling through the gelled past we shared, all memories flying past us both.

"You're blond. That's new," he comments.

"The sun. When I was a boy...well..."

He nodded and smiled. "It's been a long time..."

"I'm glad you're here," I said, stopping him. I pulled him close and wrapped my arms around him, holding him tightly. I wasn't shocked when he returned my embrace as eagerly as I embraced him. What did surprise me were the two arms that held me tightly. I was expecting to have the prosthesis hanging beside him as he always did when we hugged, but there was a live arm on his left side rubbing my back in little circles with a left hand. I pulled back and looked down, then back into his eyes.

"It's real, Andrew, it's mine. A thank you for my hard work," he explained. "Jeremiah Smith can do wonders, can't he?" he said, a twinkle of gratitude in his eyes. I pulled him close to me again and held him tightly.

"I missed you so much...Matthew."

"Matty."

"Andy."

We pulled back and shook hands again, smiling. Two men reuniting yet meeting for the first time. He touched my face with his new hand, smoothing over my naked chin and cheeks. "I like this, you look twenty years old. I always did like young boys."

I had to laugh at him. He was right, I did look like a boy without my beard and mustache. I wanted so much to kiss him, to drag him to my room, push him onto the bed and make love to him, but we were interrupted by Charlie again who said his father wanted to speak to Matthew. "We'll talk later," he told me, patting me on the shoulder, then followed the little boy to the other room.

Throughout dinner, he regaled us with stories from America while he had been running, his battles and his injuries. I sat across the table from him, down a way so I wasn't in his direct line of sight. Early meals were spent in shifts at the large kitchen table, but supper was always spent together at the large dining room table that Drum had built. We were used to the meals being big events, but this was especially big. Vivian had been cooking all day, chicken and roast beef and vegetables and three loaves of bread and a special cake for dessert. I didn't say much, not wanting to disturb the rapturous attention everyone paid to him. With both his hands, he animated his stories making the children laugh, enthralling the adults who understood the undertones of his tales. Right after dessert, the children were sent off to bed, with Maureen and Vivian taking them up. The men went out onto the front porch to drink beer and smoke cigars while discussing what Matthew's return would mean for the resistance, for us and for the Colonists.

I opted to clear the table for the women, knowing they hated being as domesticated as they were after having excelled at their careers. I did have the suspicion that knowing their families were safe gave them some comfort. I also knew that Vivian preferred seeing Drum giggling and playing with their daughter rather than red-faced and angry after certain of his meetings in his former life.

I slipped away after I was done cleaning to go to the bunkhouse and wash for bed. I had spent that morning in the field replacing the dish matrix boards, like when we were in Colorado. Thankfully, the flatlands of Victoria county were easier to work on than the mountains of Colorado. I wanted to wash myself off and slip into clean pajamas and read before I slept. I put Matthew out of my head. It was a different time, a different country and we were different men. Literally.

When I had made myself comfortable and started my newest book, I heard a quiet knock on my door. "Come in, Charlie." That little boy just loved me to tell him stories. But it wasn't Charlie. Matthew walked in. I sat up and put my book down. "Sorry, I thought..."

"I know. Can we talk?" He looked tentatively at me, as if he was waiting for me to explode. I nodded gently and he closed the door behind him, flicking on the lock that I rarely used. He walked over and sat on the end of my bed. I waited for him to start, knowing he wanted to speak first. I knew he'd wanted to tell me things, probably wanted to call me while he was on the run. Truth be told, I had no idea what he wanted to say.

"Did you get the journal?" I nodded. "I hope you read it." I nodded again. "I knew you would. Then you know. How I felt and all. I meant every word of it. I loved you, still do. And I'm sorry I split. I had to. Priss told me things about the Super Soldiers, things that I knew I couldn't handle with you there. All I wanted was you to be safe. When Drum told me that you were happy here, I knew that I wanted to be part of that. So, I got out, did what I needed to do. It'll be over soon, and we can all go our own way. Two more things gotta happen, then..."

I put my hand over his mouth. "No more. You're here. That's all that matters. I'm glad you are. I didn't want you to think..."

"Think I was cornered? Think you were mad at me for leaving, or needy or possessive? Not you, Ivan, no you are my unassuming, completely devoted, most supportive lover, aren't you?"

My eyes must have given away my surprise. "Yeah, I talk like this now, huh? It's true. What they say about having those revelations about your life when you face death. Never happened before until I knew I had something to live for."

He leaned down and kissed me, and I didn't stop him. I pulled him down on top of me and returned his kiss. He climbed on my bed and on me and we fell into a pattern that we'd established long ago. We were naked and wrapped around each other quickly, both cocks hard and weeping. He looked into my eyes, held my face and kissed me passionately. I pulled away and ventured a concern. "Are you staying? For good? With me?"

"Yes, Ivan, I am. With you, for good and bad and whatever else."

"Thank you, Sasha. That's all I wanted to know."

The End

Happy Birthday, Peach!

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