Title: Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Keywords: M/K Slash
Spoilers: After Tunguska/Terma - No RatB - AU
Summary: Decisions don't come easy
Warning: Adult Themes /Slash /Language/Mentions of Het sex
Archive: Sure, let me know where
Notes: Sue Ashworth says - KEEP WRITING - so I do and she slaves away and fixes all the mistakes. My humble thanks forever. And to my dearest Kashmir who also fixes things and threatens me whenever I say it is my last story.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
You wait for me in the false light before dawn. I see you as I approach the worn stoop in the shaggy backyard of my cracker-box duplex.
Only you can appreciate the irony of the California postwar look of it, so out of place in the middle of the city, with its bed of bedraggled zinnias, blooming yellow-orange amidst the weeds. Women, when they come here, always want to pick some, put them in a brown beer bottle or green Evian glass; you piss on them while you wait for me.
I never know, when I unlock the door, and you follow me through, if this time will be the last. I don't know which I want more, the gunshot or the fuck.
When you leave, I wonder if there's really any difference.
I see you turn the corner from the street into the narrow alley behind this short block of shotgun homes which was originally built for boys returning from WWII, and that have escaped every housing trend since.
I think you're like the place, an aging James Dean in sweaty leather, walking tiredly home after raising who knows what kind of hell elsewhere. I know exactly when you espy me; the tired trudge transforms into a swagger, and your hand falls to your side, leaving the gun tucked away.
Funny how the first time you did that, I was dismayed. "Keep the gun in your hand, asshole," I wanted to yell out. "Defend yourself; pull it on me; give me a reason to shoot." But you never do, and so neither do I.
Perhaps someday you will, and then I can decide. Then I'll know what I would choose.
"You're tired," he says to me as I drop the jacket and the gun in a pile by the couch. I shrug and go to the fridge to get us both a beer, change my mind and get out the OJ instead. I want to take a shower; I want it to be morning and eat eggs and toast, have coffee and somewhere to go.
I take a long chug-a-lug from the carton and hand it to him. He raises an eyebrow, but drinks as thirstily as I did. I toss him the file I had stuffed under my shirt. He puts it inside an inner pocket of his overcoat and then tosses the coat next to mine. A bright tie falls out of one pocket and spills color on the black and white linoleum squares.
"You need a shower and some rest," he says.
I want to get into the space between his legs as they dangle off the edge of my table. I want to unzip us both and slice our cocks off with the Ginsu knife some chick left after she made me teriyaki, and I hated her for having thin smiling lips and soft hips.
His eyes widen when he sees me sneer. He poses, the son-of-a-bitch. He splays his legs and tilts his hip. He knows how much I want him; he's always known how much I hate wanting him.
He has this power over me, this thing that happens when we are within twenty feet of each other.
He posed the first time too, in the NYC FBI Field Office, the night Cole died. He waited while they put me through the 'Agent Shoots Unarmed Suspect' debriefing. It went on for hours. I didn't know he was there, watching through the one-way mirror, watching me sweat, hearing me stammer and swear, 'Cole had a gun,' over and over again.
When they were done, and I was alone in the room, he came in, hitched a chair with his foot and sat right next to me. Too close. I could smell him, stale sweat, old coffee and frustrated anger pooling around me in his breath and heat.
He'd used the back of the chair to rest his arms and cocked his head. "You held up well for a greenhorn," he said, tonelessly, but his eyes were enraged. He wanted me to have failed, broken, cried, anything. He wanted to grab me and slam my head on the table and demand to know where his fucking file had gone, knowing that I couldn't have taken it, knowing I was in here the whole time.
I knew, oh, I knew he suspected me and couldn't prove a damn thing and I knew the file was, no doubt, in the lining of my suitcase, put there by the same man who had given it to him in the first place. Bait and switch and bait Mulder again.
"Fuck off, Mulder." I'd said, tiredly, hating the smell of my own flop sweat and the grime on my hands from scrabbling on the pavement beside Cole, hours, eons ago.
"Language, language," he'd replied, and the rage receded, and I saw something else bloom in those multi-colored eyes. He'd smiled and rotated his neck, worked out the kinks, arched his back, saw me watching and posed, almost preening.
I'd started the day convinced of certain immutable realities; you had to be pierced with bullets to die from gunshot wounds, and Special Agent Mulder was obsessed with the X Files to the exclusion of all else.
Both were true at nine this morning; both were true tonight. Truth I learned, however, was neither immutable nor real.
He's tired. I'm tired. These exchanges of ours have become pro forma. I never plan to wait for him and yet find myself on the sagging stoop anyway. He never expects me to be there and yet he always has something to give me. I once had the thought that if I just stayed there, on the stoop, like at a caf in Paris, the world would eventually come to me.
I look around the dingy interior of the house. There isn't much here. Necessities really, a few chairs, table, couple of lamps. The only signs he exists are the stacks of books, CDs and newspapers. He tosses the newspapers from time to time, but the book and CD piles grow.
Occasionally I see signs of other occupation - flowers from the unkempt patches around his dwelling in makeshift vases, scented body lotion and a couple of fancy condom packages behind the pillow on the couch, a leopard print bra, with a broken clasp, crumpled in the bathroom garbage can. Once, there was an interior decorating magazine featuring houses of this type. I memorized the subscriber's address.
I checked her out. SWF, age 28, event planner for a catering firm, pretty, no criminal record, lived in a condo in Arlington, had a family in Roanoke. I watched her, wondering, as she went through her day, if she felt his hand on her, his mouth, his cock thrusting between her legs. Did she shiver inside and curse ruefully because her panties got wet from remembering?
I saw no sign, if she did. The magazine was current, but she seemed to be dating a stockbroker regularly.
I never ask him about the women; he never asks if I sleep with Scully.
"Let's take a shower," I say. "I can stay a while." He nods; his fierce expression fades, and he touches my mouth with his thumb. "Okay," he says tiredly, "okay."
I jerk him off; the old shower fixtures accompany his moans with groans of their own. There's no power play once we're naked. I fuck him as often as he fucks me. We used to go at it, fighting for dominance, proving who could get it up faster, last longer, make the other beg. We used to leave bruises, scratches, bite marks, daring others in our lives to notice, find out and expose us. Force us to end what we couldn't stop on our own.
He fondles my limp dick, looking at me questioningly. I shrug. "You're right," I say. "I'm tired."
The shades are down in my room, and the small skylight, which leaks onto my desk when snow melts, is so dirty the room remains dim despite the early morning sun. I lie down. He goes into the other room and returns with his coat and our guns. I always think it's ironic. He uses the trench coat for a robe, hairy legs and bare feet showing below the hem. "Dirty old man," I want to say, "crummy faggot waiting for an excuse to expose yourself." But I never say it; it's not funny, and it's too close to the bone.
Right from the beginning, the first time, he didn't leave and return to his own bed. Since we were in mine, I thought it was some important point of pride not to get up and let him see me run away.
He gets in the bed next to me, on my left. That was his spot before I was maimed; neither of us suggested he change afterward. Thankfully he doesn't start asking questions. He wraps his hand around my bicep, his forehead on my shoulder. He did this from the beginning too.
This is always the moment most surreal to me. When I have to acknowledge what we do is more than sex, and what we are is more than junkies who get our taste for cock met exclusively with each other. It's something I know, although I've never asked him or spied on him to prove my theory.
I think he was just as surprised as I, the first time. Stubborn bastard that he is, though, he wouldn't get up and brush it off, deny it, make a joke. Instead he'd circled my arm and held on until our heartbeats slowed and sleep became a dark denial of its own.
He rubs his forehead and nose, nuzzling my shoulder. I never understand the comfort he draws from me. I find no succor with him. Anger surges in me once more, and with it comes arousal.
He feels me tense and kisses my neck. He rubs his face against my chest, my belly and takes me in his mouth. I come quickly, a half sob I cannot repress, escaping my throat. "Alex," he says, when he resumes his position at my shoulder.
He wakes as, sitting at his desk, I study the file.
If anyone knew what we do together they would call it my ultimate X File or maybe my ultimate self-destruction. They would think he has led me to this like some sort of mesmerist or snake charmer. They would make me the victim of his dark allure, his swaggering charm.
They would be wrong.
He wasn't a boy, any more than I was, the first time. He was corrupt; he was angry, scared, tired, and young. Not a boy.
I made the first move. Where it came from, inside me, I have never figured out. He'd washed his hands and face, taken off his coat, shirt and tie, sat in his undershirt on his bed and stared at the wall. Maybe it was the effort it took him to keep his spine straight, I don't know. I recognized the 'alone' in him.
I reached out; he watched my hand. I wondered if he thought I was going to hit him. He didn't flinch though. I placed my open hand over his heart. I'd never made that gesture before, not with a man. He took my wrist and pushed my hand off. I put it back. Pushed him down on the bed. He began to rise, and I pushed him back again, holding him down. He broke my hold and pushed me away, effortlessly. "No," he said and got up, went to the window and rested his head against the glass.
I got up and stood behind him. I put my hand on the back of his neck, pulled his hair lightly. He shivered. The back of his neck was smooth; the tapered line of his hair was perfectly straight. He must have had it cut the previous day. I used my thumb to trace the small bones in his neck, pressing firmly, feeling the tension there. "Yes," I said and put my mouth on his neck.
I've never learned of his past. I don't know if he was abused, tortured, abandoned, trained or force fed behavior modification. I imagine horrific scenarios to make psychological sense of his ability to do the things he does.
It's only now his body shows evidence of the life he's led.
"No," he said. "No, I don't want this." They were the truest words he ever spoke to me.
I wake. I'm still tired. He thinks I spend my time making mayhem, being violent, skulking in shadows. The reality is that I am almost always on the move. I'm here and there, waiting, gathering up bits and pieces of information or conveying them from place to place. I read hundreds of reports, watch the papers, scan the Internet, and listen in on boring discussions and inane planning sessions at lots of meetings. Our 'jobs' are so alike he would be disappointed and just as frustrated as he is now, if we exchanged roles and played at Prince and Pauper.
He puts a paper down, scratches his head and takes his glasses off. He's wearing the stupid trench coat.
I kick off the blanket, reach for the bag under my pillow, take out a rubber and toss it on the desk. It lands beside his glasses. I uncap the lubricant, hold the tube in my teeth and squeeze some on my hand.
He stands and lets the coat fall off his shoulders. I push the cream in my asshole and wait for him. He puts the condom on. "Ridiculous!" I want to yell at him. "You're not beautiful, you're a pale, skinny guy, with a stupid erection in a beige condom; go away." I think, sometimes, it's so loud in my head that he has to hear me. Certainly he always looks surprised when I want it like this.
I went to a whorehouse in Mexico once, paid for a flat-chested girl with bony knees and had her lie there, legs spread, and fingers holding herself open. Told her not to speak, not to move. I wanted her to be a hole for sex, like I was when I laid myself down for him. I took her, like he takes me. Not rough, no meanness, just cock in slippery hole. In and out, long and short strokes. It was terrific. When I was done, she put her hand on herself, rubbed her clit and orgasmed.
She smiled at me. "Fucking is good, yes?" she said. We went at it like animals after that, free to fuck, I did her in the ass, and she did me with a longneck beer bottle.
I left her and went into the hot night, unwashed. I got drunk, buying rounds for everyone, toasting with, "fucking is good, yes!" The sweaty men and overripe whores in the cantina laughed and laughed, "Si, si!"
He gets on his knees. He uses his fingers to prepare me, bends and licks my cock. It's a waste of time. It'll hurt when he enters me. It always does.
Once he's in, well, then it doesn't.
He kisses me after he comes. We don't kiss much. "Alex," he says.
And it hurts.
It's late afternoon when I wake. He's still beside me, dozing, on his stomach, so I know he really slept. I'm starving, and I know he hasn't eaten all day, either. I call out for subs; BLTs and coffee -- it feels right, like I'm covering breakfast and lunch at the same time. I know the places that deliver in this neighborhood as well as the ones in mine.
I was a man of limited sexual experience, and I regretted it. I did okay in high school, but away from home I fell in love with my studies, with England and with Phoebe. I began to recognize my penchant for obsessions about then, as well. For a while it worked.
The first years at the FBI were exciting. I was insanely overworked, and women were accidental byproducts of alcohol-laden, after-case encounters with other agents, celebrated in yuppie establishments.
Diana, for all her statuesque assurance, was the opposite of Phoebe. She was my acolyte. She grew tired of it -- or of me -- and moved on. I hardly noticed until months later, when I realized I hadn't been with a live woman, and my porn collection tripped me every time I went to the closet.
Why I grew reticent at thirty is a mystery to me. But after Diana, I couldn't do the onenight -stands and walk away satisfied. The X Files, and their tantalizing glimpses of unexplored phenomena, and the hints of government intrigues, cover-ups and possible links to my sister's disappearance were more enthralling than anything I'd ever expected.
The toes I stepped on delighted me; the basement office allowed me to stop pretending to fit in, and the Spooky appellation gave me the distance I needed to explore in secret and at will.
Scully was a thorn in my side, forcing full disclosure and light into my hideaway. Then she bought into it too. Oh, not quite into my convictions, but she began to swim in the murky waters with me, anyway.
Alex was next, nervous energy and newbie chip on his shoulder. He got in my face. He betrayed me, and, I think, betrayed himself. Whatever young Alex Krycek had in mind when he started out, this wasn't it.
The deed on the house is in the name of the original owner. He lives in Panama City, Florida. Retired military officer widowed in 1973, son dead in Viet Nam at 19 in 1971, son dead in Coconut Grove Park, LSD and a fatal swim in the bay, age 17, in 1975. The youngest son, a runaway, last seen at a truck stop on I-95N, in 1980, age 15. Presumed dead. The house owner's name is Peter Gambrel. His wife's first name was Alexis. I drove by the house in Panama City once. Neat rows of yellow-orange zinnias line the driveway. I didn't stop.
I stroke his back; he's awake now, but he doesn't turn over and push me away. Once in a while he allows me this.
The food arrives while I'm in the shower. I'm glad he put on his pants to open the door. He ordered two subs and two coffees for each of us.
He's taken what he wants from the file, or memorized it, or knew it all beforehand. He never tells me if these pieces I provide fit. I don't ask.
He'll go soon. I'll stay.
The big tomcat from the other half of the duplex scratches the kitchen window. Mulder opens the screen and feeds the mangy thing bacon and mayo soaked bread.
He needs a shave. I need him to go
"Alex," he says, but doesn't finish his sentence or ask his question. He puts his hand over my heart.
I shoo the cat away when he ventures too far onto the counter and close the window. The cat pisses on the flowerbeds too.
It's full winter. An unusual one for DC, with ice storms, and snow that never melts. I wait inside the house. His neighbors, the cat owners, saw me at his stoop and asked if I was the FBI agent. I showed them my ID, and they gave me an envelope. The key fit the door.
The power is on, but the place is a mess. I empty the refrigerator and toss the garbage and the newspapers. I realize just how clean he kept the place, when I go into the bathroom, where mold has taken over the tub and the calking around the old cracked tiles on the floor.
He has a bottle of bleach in the cabinet by the washing machine, and I splatter it, full strength, in the tub and on the bathroom floor. I use the sheets from his bed to mop it all up with. The strong bleach makes the house smell, incongruously, like an over treated pool on a summer's day. I wipe the fridge out with the sheets and then do the same to the kitchen sink. Everything is white again.
I wash the sheets on the hot/hot machine setting, twice to get all the bleach out, dry them and remake the bed.
None of this makes any sense. I have my own apartment, my own bathroom and grungy refrigerator to clean, if I am in the mood.
I walk the slippery block to the end of the alley and pay inflated prices at the neighborhood mini-mart for bread, cold cuts and a gallon of OJ.
I haven't seen him in six months.
The envelope had a card in it. The picture on the front of the card was a man in a trench coat, umbrella unfurled and words in tiny letters falling from the sky to bounce off the umbrella, 'Happy Birthday' a thousand times. On the inside Alex had written, 'Don't ever lose your umbrella.' It was dated three years ago; he'd never given it to me.
I'm with a contingent of mercenary, Russian, ex-army troops in the middle of a field in Kazakhstan. As long as I pay them, have the vodka and the whores delivered on Friday nights, they do anything I tell them the rest of the week. So far we've dismantled the gulag and biochemical factory.
It's so cold that ice forms on the inside of my boots and freezes the socks to my feet.
Money and UN Relief credentials go a long way. We've moved all the surviving prisoners and neighboring peasants into an abandoned Soviet school building. They're crowded and scared, but it's warm, and the gas stove in the kitchen still works. Marita has claimed a small room and pays the guards an exorbitant rate to protect her virtue. I know she'll send copies of the blood work and the DNA tests to the bastards in New York. In the meantime her connections provide the food, clothing and hopefully soon, transport to get these people to the city and real hospitals.
I should join her in her private room but I can't seem to care about her vanity anymore, at least, not enough to indulge her satisfaction in my 'misfortune'.
International radio mentioned the weather in Washington. He's not waiting on the stoop, that's for sure.
I haven't seen him in almost six months.
I'm glad I never got in the habit of feeding that mangy cat.
I take the cold cuts and the OJ home.
Scully and I get an interesting case in LA. It's blessedly warm. She takes some vacation days and goes to visit her brother in San Diego.
For the first time I go to a gay bar when not as an official on a case. I look at the men. I'm older than most of the crowd.
I drink an ice-cold beer and meet someone's eyes now and then. The main action seems to happen on the dance floor; bodies writhe and brush up against each other, biceps and abs gleam in the flashing lights, hands caress groins and ass.
There are condoms and mini lube packets in the bowls on the bar and tables instead of peanuts.
I'm aroused by the blatancy. A young man with a strong, smooth neck dances so close to me that he's almost shaking his ass between my legs. I reach out and fondle the small bones at the nape of his neck. He rubs his ass against my knee.
He turns around and grabs my cock, "You're hung, old man," he says. "Wanna fuck?" He laughs, rubs his knuckles up and down my erection and leans in for a kiss. I recoil before I am aware I've done it. His expression turns contemptuous. He twists my cock painfully and backs out of my space. He rubs his ass against another dancer, and the man's arms encircle him. The young man pushes the dancer's hands down to his zipper.
As far as I can tell he's never even looked the man in the face.
I get up and make my way outside. I'm sweating.
I wait in his apartment. I've managed to lose the assholes that were tailing me. He has to get copies of the Russian research, before they get it from me. I will put up a fight when they catch me, but I know these guys, and they'll never admit to Spender that they lost me for a while. Spender will feel triumphant that he screwed my plans. Mulder will have the information without Spender suspecting the source, and I might live a little longer. Spender assumes I hate Mulder, blame him for my fall from grace within the Syndicate and for the loss of my arm. I let him think that; if the Brit suspects something else, he's never said so.
I look around the place. He has almost no food in the fridge, but he has a gallon of OJ that hasn't turned. I've only been here a few times, twice when I was still an agent and Scully was here too and twice when I was still an agent and Scully was not here. I don't bother to search his place. I don't steal information from him. I do turn on the TV, though. I haven't seen US news in months.
I don't have a lot of time. I need the assholes to find me and drag me to Spender before any time lapse can become noticeable. I hear the elevator stop at this floor, so I turn off the TV and wait by the door.
He comes in. He has a tan and a tie with palm trees on it.
He surprises me. He drops his bags. Instead of reaching for his gun he grabs me and kisses me on the mouth. I try to push him away, but he maneuvers me up against the door and kisses me harder. We don't have time for this, whatever 'this' is.
I jab him with my hard left arm. He gasps, grins and reaches for me again. I wonder if he's on drugs.
"Mulder!" I say. "What the fuck are you doing? I don't have time to play games. Listen to me." He's got his hands under my coat.
"God, I missed you," he says and hugs me.
I slug him before I'm conscious of the trajectory of my fist, and he finally backs off nursing his jaw.
"Take this," I say and hand him a couple of floppies. "It's the results of the experiments in Tunguska and more about the Black Cancer. I think the Russians are close to perfecting a vaccine."
He takes the floppies. I can see he wants to ask questions, but I have no time. "I've got to go. Don't come to the house and don't look for me. It's too dangerous." I turn to leave, and he grabs me from behind, slamming me up against the door again.
He leans against me, head resting at the back of my neck. "I have to go," I grind out.
"In a minute," he murmurs, lips on my neck.
"Now," I say, desperately.
He fingers the bones at the back of my neck and runs his hand through my hair. I shiver.
"Don't die," he says in my ear. "Don't you dare die."
"Mulder," I say, and it hurts.
He sighs and puts his hands over my heart.
I wait three weeks. I'm at a loss. There are too many windows in his alley and I can't be sure his place isn't watched.
I think about the man. I don't believe I ever have before. I've thought about his actions, wondered about his life, know every centimeter of his body, inside and out, but I've never thought about the man himself.
We were both complete novices at sex with another male. He didn't want it. I wanted it viscerally. The first time I took his cock in my mouth, I felt as though I'd found an answer to a question so extreme that even I had never asked it.
I remember the first time he touched me of his own accord. We were in the middle of a case, waiting for lab results and background from another state. We spent the afternoon at the motel, sick of the local police squadron and bad coffee.
He was reading and suddenly threw down the book. He reached across the space between the two beds and took hold of my ankle. He pushed the bottom of my pants up my shin, rubbing his hand on the hairy leg, digging his fingers into my calf muscle, then he took my sock off.
"It's just a leg," I said.
"Shut up," he said and dug his fingers in harder.
He yanked at the hair on my leg, tearing some out. "Christ," I yelled, "that hurts!"
"Shut up," he said again and got up and stared out the window.
He came back to the bed, sat nearer to me and kissed me. I was startled. We didn't kiss much on the lips. He opened my mouth with his tongue and kissed me again. I returned the kiss, pulling his head closer. He broke away, "Don't," he said.
He took my hand, felt the shape of it, and outlined my nails with his lips. I realized he was exploring me. Mapping me out, sector by sector. The game played in the background, whistles, jeers, cheers, penalties, the crunch of helmets and shoulder pads, and the grunts of sacks and tackles.
Eventually, he fucked me with his fingers for a long time. Sliding his fingers in and out, finessing my prostrate, kissing my back and massaging my ass. I tried to get him to fuck me. "Shut up, Mulder," he said.
I was panting, needy, cursing him, begging him, "Come, Mulder," he said, biting my neck, "Come." When I got my breath back and turned over, I saw he hadn't even taken off his shirt. He was staring at his hand.
He went back to his bed, unzipped and jerked himself off. He came quickly, trying to choke back a sob.
"I'm not a woman," I said.
"I don't want this," he said, just as he had weeks ago.
"I know, Alex," I replied tiredly. "But you do want me."
He stared at the ceiling, "I want you," he said. "I need you to want me, too."
"I need you," I said, and the cheerleaders and the band went crazy at halftime.
We never spoke of it again and remained ill at ease kissing on the mouth.
"Don't come to the house; don't look for me; it's too dangerous," he said, three weeks ago, after what must have been months in the freezing hell of Kazakhstan.
Three years, and I pretended I was waiting for him to pull his gun and force me make a decision. Three years, and he brought me my heart's desire with each file, tape, and disk.
"Alex, "I said to the empty room, and it hurt.
I got dressed, holstered my gun and put on my trench coat. I'd made my decision, at last.
I'm sitting on a pile of empty mulch bags I'd tossed aside while I was working, when I see you turn the corner from the street into the narrow alley. I can't make out what you're carrying, but I can tell when you see me sitting on the stoop. The cat distracts me for a moment, yowling in dismay to find his weed-infested personal pissing area has been replanted with azaleas and piled inches deep with rough bark mulch.
When I look up again, you're right in front of me, handing me the package. It's heavy and awkward, my arm is already tired so, I almost drop it. I open the package, and an umbrella, tile and paint samples clatter on the old cement steps. You toss a key ring in my lap and dangle another one in front of my eyes. Both have two keys on them.
The cat investigates the pile, and you nudge it away with the toe of your shoe.
I start to ask you what this is all about, but you say, "Alex, shut up." And you open the umbrella, hold it over us both and kiss me on the mouth.
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