Novice, part 1/?

by Nicholas


Title: Novice - part one
Author: Nicholas
E-Mail: nicholas@dreamscapeforums.zzn.com Status: WIP

Disclaimer:
Fox Mulder, Alex Krycek, Walter Skinner and all the other X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen Productions and 20th Century FOX Broadcasting. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made from their use.

Classification Specifics:
Eventually this will be M/Sk/K, BDSM, NC-17 in all it's beauty, with all the lovely things that such a story needs. BUT, that needs building up, of course. For "part one": M/Sk/K, Sk/K implied, BDSM, angst, R. Do read and you will understand. I suppose.

Author's Notes:
Thanks to Raven for the encouragement.

--

"Fox, last warning! You are naked. You will get a cold out there."

"Walter, I am wearing shorts. Wearing shorts isn't naked. And it's summer. And I like looking at the stars." My usage of his name, the intonation and the words chosen do nothing to my situation. The patio door behind me is open and I can just glance at them through the glass, happy little family, while the wet grass of our yard is making my bare feet all clammy. They both get up and stand in the door, looking at me with these expressions in their eyes. Can anyone guess what they'll have for breakfast? Yeah, exactly, probably little old me on the menue again. Pouting I turn back to studying the sky, not quite as lost in it as I pretend to be. Well, nice that now they actually notice me.

"Fox, my boy, it is too late to be standing there like that." A hand descends on my shoulder, a firm grip, silent like a snake he's made his way from the bedroom over here. His arm then drifts lower, ends up across my chest to pull me against his body, keeping me captive, nuzzling my neck now, still half asleep.

"Alex," I mock his tone. His hand suddenly fists my hair, bends my head slightly backwards, eliciting just enough pain to remind that me he is the one in charge. He and Walter both are.

"Don't mock me, Fox. I am in no mood to 'correct' your behaviour in the middle of the night, and I don't think Walter is either, but don't tempt us. You are catching a cold here. And that is not acceptable. So lose your attitude, boy, and come back to bed. Understood?"

"Yes." Still pouting, my best brat voice. The hand tugs more fiercly.

"Yes, what?"

"Yes, oh, Lord of Misrule." That does it. I know I am fucked the minute it leaves my mouth.

"Fox, come here!" The voice from the open door booms before Alex has even a chance to get a word in. Well, Fox, we have been looking for some night entertainment. I grin wryly to myself as I make my way over to the door, slowly, very slowly, slow enough in fact to get a swat of encouragement that makes me yelp and rub my ass as I pass by Alex. Walter points a stern finger to the bed

"Kneel." Alex again. And of course it is in front of the bed, not on it, wouldn't do any good to grant us subbies something nice, eh? And I kneel. Grudgingly, glaring at Walter who's sat down on the bed in front of me. But Alex is still doing the talking, "Hands behind your back. I shouldn't have to tell you that."

"Fuck. You.", my well-articulated response. I am angry. I have a right to be angry.

Then it's Walter's hand on my chin, holding it in a very firm grip, making me look up to him without a chance to turn my head. Alex is standing behind me, and all that adding up to the stupid evening makes me even more rebellious, if that is possible. As Walter's thumb strokes over my lower lip, my head darts forward and my mouth catches his thumb between my teeth, using nice numerous tons to press down on his oh so delicate skin. I grin smugly at the look in his face, knowing I would have been punished that way or another, therefore deciding to take my insolence just a step further...catching attention, yeah, that's me. And then Walter's quiet voice, no screaming, never screaming, and his touch on my chin gets softer. He knows damn well, that I cannot stand that. It is the quiet, menacing tone that only a sub can recognize as truly frightening, coming from their Dom.

"Fox, love, we always have this option of a ball gag, but Alex and me both want to sleep a while longer, so the ballgag is off-limits." I can't keep the smug grin from my face. Hah, I know you wouldn't put one on me, but I see Walter's expression hardening. "Keep your mouth shut for the rest of the night, Fox."

And that isn't his nice voice anymore, it's that sort of voice that makes me shiver when I'm kneeling at his feet, it is just a notch further on the scale. Still I can't just give in. "But...but..."

Then Alex is speaking up behind me again, having only watched the whole exchange. His hand, as so often, fists my hair to assure himself of my attention. "Fox, do you have anything substantial to say that does not end in blind anger and foul mood and accusations? Anything that does not support the impression that you are in complete brat-mode tonight?"

My lips are pressed together tightly. My eyes fixed on some point on Walter's chest while his lips are moving.

"We will have to work on the basics again, huh, little one? You know that you do not need to pull stunts to have our full attention." I glare at Walter, unfortunately I can't glare at Alex without breaking my position, and that would be also 'not acceptable'. Walter ignores me easily, now that I am not allowed to articulate myself anymore. I see their eyes communicating and give myself up to whatever fate their wicked minds have produced for me. Walter's lifting me onto the bed, cuffing my hands to the headboard, then cuffing my ankles to the foot of the bed, strapping me in tight between them. Of course I am positioned on the back, it would be too bad if their little toy could suffocate itself while they're snoring away. Walter is on my right. Alex on my left. Trapped. Effectively. The light is put out. I feel Alex's arm tighten across my chest and his silky voice in my ear.

"We will discuss that tomorrow."

"But sleep now, Fox. I mean it."

Tagteaming me. As if I had a chance to do anything when I'm trussed up like some turkey between them, besides the bonds also their numerous extremities holding me in place. And then they nod off. Leaving me to fume silently and call them every name under the sun, only in my thoughts, because I can actually obey orders...if I want to. And I know they would probably double the punishment for tomorrow if I so much as murmured a word.

The tag teaming is nothing new, after all, the dynamics in our, even by alternative lifestyle standards, unconventional relationship, set the ground for exactly that, and in some way...the double domination is what I thrive on or I wouldn't find myself in the middle of this, literally speaking. Usually, on the scene, if you want to call it that, if it's a threesome, it is the other way around, one master, two subs. Well, they don't call me Spooky for nothing, I never said I am ordinary, so I ended up with sharing my bed with two masters, or rather them sharing their bed with me. Alex and Walter have been a couple for quite some time, for years before I joined this merry little band. It is still a miracle for me how they could end up in a relationship with the Consortium in place and Alex being the ratbastard he was, not to forget with both of them being equally powerful dominants, but it happened. Obviously...and then I ended up in the picture.

It was on a Saturday night that everything started (thanks to my memory, the details are still fresh). My resignation had been handed in and sealed months before that. There simply had not been any reason to go on. We had won or so it seemed, the Consortium was no more, the power had shifted overall, the alien invasion wouldn't happen. Scully was teaching in California and our contact had quietened down to an e-mail once a month. Samantha was dead. I had seen so myself and the final piece just clicked into the puzzle and it was finished. The picture of my career, my life, it was finished. There was nothing more to do. On top of all AD Skinner retired shortly after we had taken down the Consortium, 'personal reasons'. The section was transferred and nothing seemed to make sense anymore. There were no real X-Files, only people I could detect as fakers on the first view, attention catchers. So I retired. I didn't know what I'd do at home, but I hated to see my life become only a shadow of what it once was, my energy in the bureau to be limited to not falling asleep in the eight hours I had to be there. So I went and didn't look back, as they say.

On that Saturday night it were ironically six months on the day since my resignation had ended up on the Director's desk. I had slowly but surely come to some point where I was 1. bored as hell and 2. restless which is an explosive combination. I started being a constant occupant of nightclubs, basically clubbing myself once through the city, or twice, or probably more often than that. Not for the sake of dancing, or having fun, but I needed to do something, needed to fight against that void in me. So I was clubbing. Getting hit on by women and men, more frequently than my wildest dreams had allowed myself to imagine but it doesn't take a genius to realize that I did not take anyone up on that offer. The plain truth is, I was scared. Scared of sex. I mean, give me a break, the only sex I'd been having was with my hand in the confines of my apartment, the porn flick running. In theory I was quite good, but so was I in making up excuses why I couldn't hook up with certain people who had taken a liking to me and made that quite clear. Add to that that I am not the relationship type of guy at all, and that I am too nervy for anyone to be with 24/7 and you have the reason for my lack of contact. And unfortunately, the lack of contact provoked that boredom and restlessness, so I found myself in a circle that I couldn't escape from.

I ended up in one of my standard clubs that Saturday night, it was past 3am and I was at the bar sipping a drink I couldn't remember the name of, playing into the clich of drunken, unhappy forty-something, making wannabe conversation with the bartender. I was wearing dark blue jeans, a white shirt and a jeans jacket that was draped over the stool awkwardly. I had had my share of dancing for the night and only prolonged the inevitable trip home, into my lonely apartment where only the fish were happily bubbling in their cozy nice world. Just then an arm slung itself around my shoulder, the face belonging to it drawing a blank in my mind, a blond guy, mid-thirties, with a slime-dripping smile on his face. I hate men like that.

"Hey there beautiful, want a drink?" Blondie sat on the stool next to me, his arm shifting suggestively down my chest, brushing over one shirt-covered nipple to settle on my crotch, just like that, squeezing experimentally. I was not in the mood for that. I don't mind people coming on to me, I don't mind men coming on to me, but I very much mind people getting touchy-feely after they've barely said hello.

"Get your fucking hands out of my lap." I hissed through clenched teeth, mustering up as much authority as I still could with drawing as little attention as possible to us.

"Oh beautiful, playing hard to get, I see. But you truly want it, now don't you? Don't you?" He squeezed harder as if to confirm to himself that I was enjoying that, which was entirely not the case.

"Hands. Off!" He chose to ignore that demand of mine and a second later was sprawled on the floor, me on top of him, pounding away at his face. I was supremely surprised of myself for having still come up with such hand-eye coordination and exceptionally pleased, until someone grabbed me from behind, pulled me away from Blondie on the floor and propelled me out of the door, making sure to add that I wasn't to pay a visit again. Cursing them and myself, I left that club behind, strolling along the street, the jeans jacket in my hand, not wanting to go home just then.

At that point my appearance was not what you'd call 'quite nice-looking' anymore, there was blood from Blondie's nose all over my shirt, a fact that I could not see too negatively, but even though I had had the upper hand, he had been able to get in some blows of his, splitting my lip, so some of the blood was probably mine. Looking the way I did I ended up in the nice part of DC, walking along the street, catching looks from 'out late' couples who were probably thinking about calling the cops, feeling threatened by my presence. I was tempted to scream 'Alien' with my finger pointing to the sky, but restrained myself, not particularly looking forward to an encounter with the local police. So I kept to myself, my eyes turned downwards, ignoring everyone until some woman couldn't help but run into me, only to start screaming about being robbed, being raped, being killed while I stood next to her looking dumbfounded, trying to get a word in, but she only screamed more. By then a circle had formed around us, leaving me no chance to go. Believe me, I tried, only to feel myself grabbed and put in a strangle-hold by some tough-looking guy. Merry little party.

Needless to say the cops showed up and despite my qualified attempts to convince them that I had really done nothing, despite the woman coming down from her panic attack and seeing that there really had been nothing, despite my absolute innocence, they still decided to take me with them. I got the distinct impression it was because of my slightly dishevelled appearance that they thought it would be reasonable to keep me off the street for a while. That's where the money goes, locking away ex-FBI agents who have done nothing but walk down a street. Well, maybe they would have let me go, had I been able to keep my mouth shut when they slipped the cuffs on, but alas, their reaction to the curses was less than pretty.

At the station they were about to throw me into a cell with people I did not really want to meet up with in my situation when I butted in asking for my phonecall, hoping they followed the rules, unlike me in my days being an agent. They did, led me to the phone and left me there, just in sight of them. And there I was, standing dumbly in front of it. I did request a call, that was the easy part, but who could I call in the middle of the night to bail me out of jail? It is not as if there were any, what is the term, friends I had.

"What now man, you're gonna make your call, or what?"

"Yeah, yeah, calm down." So time was pressing and my mind was whirling with different numbers and faces, trying to pick out one person I could disturb at this ungodly hour. And then my fingers moved on their own volition to punch in one number. I was still in doubt whether that had been a good decision, rightfully so as after a minute of ringing the receiver was lifted at the other end.

"Skinner." He literally bellowed his name into the phone. But well, it was 4.30am by then.

"Sir, umm, Mulder here. I was wondering, if..."

"Mulder, it is 4.30 in the morning." Yeah sir, I sorta had noticed that too. Not that I said that aloud. After all, I did want him to do something. Pissing him off would not be the best option.

"Yes, I know sir. I'm sorry, sir. It is only that I happened to become involved in a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, and, well..." I trailed off, he would be mad. He would be so mad.

"Mulder, if you don't get that brain of yours to get your mouth to articulate the reason for calling me at this time during the night in the next seconds, I am hanging up."

"Well, I ended up being arrested, could you bail me out, sir?" Silence. Silence. Silence. My ear pressing hard against the piece of telephone in my hand, but I could only make out muffled sounds, voices talking. My head thumbed against the wall in front of me, thinking 'Don't tell me I have actually interrupted a date. I am so dead.'

"You are so dead, Mulder. I'll be there in ten, give me the address." I told him the address quietly, then hung up, feeling like I probably would have been safer staying in the cell for a night than explaining to my former boss why I had ended up there in the first place and whose blood made up my shirt-decoration. I sat on the chair offered to me, my head in my still-cuffed hands, waiting and almost bolting as Skinner's impressive figure made it through the door. One look at his face told me that I was indeed dead. After some idle chit-chat and laughs with the cops he got them to uncuff me and let me go, without even my details being asked. So I was wrong about them sticking to rules. I made a mental note to phone someone and complain about the local police wasting my money.

Outside the station I stepped back timidly, taking a small step at a time as I was talking. "You know, thanks, sir, I'll just get on my way now. And thank you." Before I had a chance to fully turn around his gruff voice and his piercing stare let me stop dead in my tracks.

"Where do you think you are going, Mulder?"

"Home. You know it is already 5am. Sir." I know I was being pissy and I cringed inwardly, knowing it wasn't the sort of tone you should use you with someone who's just got you out of jail.

"If I recall correctly you are still living in Alexandria?"

"Yeah."

"And you plan on walking there?" Stupid question, sir.

"Yeah well, it doesn't look like an UFO is gonna appear out of nowhere and kindly take me there, now does it?" Thumbs up to him, he didn't even remotely react to my little show.

"You're coming with me. It is closer, you can spend the night and tell me how you managed to end up like that...," his assessing look told me all I needed to know about his opinion of my current state, "...in jail in the middle of the night."

"With all due respect, I think I am old enough to walk home on my own."

He had closed the gap between us and was now standing just inches in front of me. "With all due respect, Mulder, no. Get in the car." He settled in the car, leaving a dumb-founded me to stand outside and shake my head, just to then get into the car after him, feeling like he was back to being my boss.

The drive was uneventful because silent, the arrival at his new house, I didn't know he had bought one, wasn't. It was a big house, not unusual architecture for Virginia, obviously an old house brought up to standard. As Walter turned into the driveway, a person emerged from the house, clad in boxer-shorts and T-shirt.

"So, Walter, bailed Mulder out...once...again...," Then he stared at me, as I slowly stepped out of the car. I stared at him. Alex Krycek. Alex. Krycek. In Skinner's house. At 5am on a Sunday morning. In boxers and shirt. In Skinner's house. 'Walter', he had said. "Coffee or bed?", Krycek continued pensively taking in my appearance.

"I would like to say bed, Alex, but I suppose it will have to be coffee. And could you leave a message on Darren's and Mark's machine? I doubt we will make it tomorrow...today. Tell them we're sorry."And 'Alex', it was. Not 'Krycek', not asshole, bastard, scumbag... 'Alex' it was for... 'Walter'. Holy Fucking Shit. Seeing Krycek's slow nod and him turning to go into the house, Skinner walked up to it, leaving me to stand bedraggled next to the car. I slowly followed him inside, not trusting that scene at all that seemed to be unfolding before my eyes.

The inside of the house was furnished with taste, no doubt about that. Little decorating details such as black and white photos of landscapes or the strategic placement of lamps, made it look downright comfortable. But I did not pay that much attention to these sort of things just then.

"Sir, what is Krycek doing in your -?"

"Mulder," he didn't even let me finish my sentence but fixed me with a weary look, "I tell you what, I'll show you the bathroom, you can shower. You can get a shirt and if you want to talk, we will talk. If you have questions, we will answer them. But,"...he was looming over me by then, pressing me back against the door, "if you so much as touch or even threaten Alex, you will find yourself outside the door. And I can guarantee you, the next time you want to be bailed out, you can forget about calling me."

"So what, is he your boytoy?" I couldn't keep that comment back.

"As a matter of fact I am not, Mulder." Krycek was standing in the doorway leading to the kitchen, replying calmly. "But I suggest you take that shower, maybe with a clear mind you'll be able to appreciate Walter's help and be more reasonable to talk to. And you know what, blindly firing accusations is not our idea of talking." With a final look he vanished back in the kitchen.

Skinner's eyes landed on me once more and he started up the stairs, motioning me to follow him. I did so reluctantly, still waiting for everything to be a trap and Krycek pouncing on me from behind. I stopped halfway up the stairs to hear if there were any unusual sounds, but it was all quiet except for the rummaging sounds from the kitchen, so no trap. I couldn't keep bewilderment out of my thoughts. My ex-boss and my, well, ex-enemy (could that really ever be 'ex'?) living together? Skinner waited patiently for me to arrive at the landing then left me standing in front of a door, one of many, telling me over his shoulder to go ahead and that he'd leave the shirt outside the door. So I opened the door carefully, located the lightswitch and switched it on, a bathroom. A nice bathroom. A big bathroom. While tiles. A tub, a shower, very clean. Nothing like the crappy thing in my apartment. I shrugged out of my clothes and into the shower enjoying the hot water cascading down my back, while in my head the thoughts where cascading down, too. Nothing really made sense except for the tiny fact that I itched to beat up Krycek. But then, that was obviously not a very valid option. The shower was in fact very nice and although I was feeling tired and exhausted by the end of it, the warm water had done the rest, I absolutely did not want the chance to slip by to confront them about whatever sort of relationship they were leading.

I stepped out of the shower, dried myself with one of the white fluffy towels, put on my jeans again and let the rest of my clothes remain on the floor there. After a sound check first I carefully opened the bathroom door and peered around, there obvoiusly was no-one in the hallway. I put on the plain white shirt that had lain on the floor and padded down the stairs barefoot, being able to make out voices coming from the living room.

Like the first impression of the house, the decoration of the living room was downright nice, gave the room a very warm flair. Skinner and Krycek, both clothed in jeans and shirt now, were seated on the couch that was part of an arrangement of two other seats and a table in the middle of the room, there was fire place in the far right corner, two doors at both the right and the left wall, there were flowers, and many books on neat, old-looking bookshelves. Skinner indicated that I could sit down on one of the seats across them and I did, eyeing both of them warily. They both looked...good. Healthy and dare I say, content. Skinner had that tough, stoic posture while there was fire blazing in Krycek's eyes, letting me know that he may be not completely against the idea of a bit more physical activity.

After having given me time to observe both of them and the room carefully, Skinner spoke up: "Okay, Mulder. Ask whatever questions are visibly boiling away in that mind of yours. Better get it out and done with now."

"What is he doing here? What are you both doing together? When did it start? Why? Why not, well, whoever? Why didn't you tell me? Is he living here with you? Does anyone else know?" Many questions? No, that were the less detailed ones. I did want to start by covering the basics and moving on to the details. They looked at each other, I knew I had directed the questions at Skinner, but Krycek answered, while holding me captive with a hard look of his, making his voice sound as if he knew too well how to play me.

"Well, Mulder, let's see if I can remember the questions.Yes, I live here. Yes, we are, how would you call it, a couple. Yes, we love each other. We have been together for quite some time. And yes, there are people who do know, but believe me, you would not want to know who those people are. And no, I am not his boytoy, we are very much equals." A sly smile crossed his features when he said that, then he leaned back and scooted over so that his back was against Skinner's chest who draped an arm around him posessively.

"When?" I managed to press out, furious with rage that they obviously had been involved before everything turned out okay. I got to my feet, almost launching myself at the pair of them across the table "Since when have you been fucking each other while everyone else was actually trying to do something? Since when have you been on his side? I see, huh, a piece of ass and you get all pliant."

Skinner disentangled himself from Krycek and stood up too, nose to nose with me, his voice controlled, he spoke quietly, opposed to my screaming. "Sit down, Mulder. I said we would answer your questions but neither I nor my lover will accept being insulted or being yelled at in our home. I have offered you a place for the night and yes, I am well aware that I made that offer. But is it too much to expect at least a bit politeness from you, Mulder? Is it too much to expect that you ask the questions in a sensible tone? And has it ever crossed your mind that I invited you here for tonight because I wanted you to know about my relationship, because I thought it would be good if you knew? Well, that's how it is, Mulder. Believe it or not, Alex and I have discussed whether and finally that it would be a good idea to tell you because I did value as an agent and I hoped I could count on you as a friend as well. No matter whom I share my life with. But I will not, at no point, accept that you insult me or my lover in my house. If you aren't able to behave like an adult, Mulder, you know where the door is. I will be sorry to correct my view of you, but if it has to be that way, so be it. I will not bend over for you, Mulder. I will not accept this sort of attitude in this house. So you either sit down and we can talk like adults. Or you behave like a brat and leave our house now."

He never even raised his voice during that speech. It truly impressed me and I did sit down. So did he, with Krycek snuggling up to him immediatly. "So how long have you been a couple, sir? And for the lack of a better term, 'how did it happen?'"

"Mulder, first of all, there's no need to call me sir." I thought I saw a grin passing Krycek's features but it was quickly gone again and his face was blank once more. "After all, I am not your boss anymore. Walter will do just fine or Skinner if you feel bad with first names. We did become a couple in the middle of all the mess happening but both of us were able to keep private and professional life separate although that may seem impossible, given our respective positions. We met in a club. As we later found out both of us were regulars there, still are, but we had never met before. A mutual friend introduced us to each other. Quite frankly, I was shocked. I was furious."

"Me, too, by the way.", Krycek chimed in. "I had been looking forward to spending a nice evening there and suddenly encounter the man who I thought would kill me on first sight."

"And I did want to. But alas, I did not have my weapons on me, club policy and I knew he didn't either. Also, as he was a member of the club and a regular I did not expect him to get violent in there. So we didn't fight, but sat down with that mutual friend of ours to talk about the things that led him to introduce us to each other. And as incredible as it sounds, after a long staring match we did talk. Not about any of the things that I would have loved to press out of him but about those things that ended up being strictly private life later on." He smiled at Krycek now. And if I did not misinterpret his look there was love in his eyes. Krycek continued the talking.

"Yeah well, we parted ways after that evening and only met up in the club every once in a while. After some time that mutual friend wasn't necessary as a catalyst for conversations anymore and we talked. And even talked about everything else. And as sappy as it sounds, fell in love, bought a house. End of story." Krycek grinned at me now while I fixed him with a hard stare of my own. He could it make sound all nice, but I could not believe that they could just fall in love. Like that.

"How could you...", directing myself at Skinner again, "enter a relationship with him,"...gesturing to Krycek, the look of disgust must have been apparent on my face as I saw that wary, turning to angry, look come to both of their faces... "full well knowing all he has done?"

"Mulder, you have read the final reports?" Now Skinner sounded like he was on to something.

"Yeah, I have."

"So then you did read what Alex has and what he hasn't done. He did not kill your father, he did not kill Scully's sister...he knew as little about your sister as you did. You don't like him. Good, I can understand that. You have never exchanged more than punches with him. But you cannot blame him for things he has never done. And even you know that, Mulder. You are the psychologist. You don't hate him. You hate the Consortium and what it has done to your family, friends, to you, Mulder, and Alex was part of the Consortium and is now the only person that still is there of that 'past', that's why you hate him, isn't it that? It is because your past is sitting there, quite alive in front of you, reminding you of all the pain, of all the hurt you suffered. Mulder, Alex is not the Consortium. He never denied that he was part of it. But you have read the files, you know how little he has actually done for them and how soon he started doing things he believed were right, how soon he was on 'our side' even if we did not know it. You have read these reports. And you know you have no reason to hate him. But it is the only string that still binds you to everything, isn't it, Mulder? It is the only thing that still binds you to a past where you may have been hurt and felt so much, too much, pain but where you still have felt something, where you still thought everything made sense.And now it doesn't anymore, does it Mulder? Suddenly that hate is the only thing that still makes sense to you and it just destroys everything to see Alex sitting here and to see and hear and have read that there is no reason to hate him. Isn't that right, Mulder?"

"So who tells you that these reports are the ultimate truth?! Who tells you that, Skinner?! Who tells you that it's not been all initiated that maybe letting himself be fucked by you is all part of some scheme, who tells you that?!" I had gotten to my feet by the again, pretty much screaming at the top of my lungs. "Who tells you that he doesn't get up after you've fucked to report to those bastards?! And don't you, don't you dare tell me what I am supposedly feeling. You don't know shit, Skinner."

"That theory is crap and you know it, Mulder. You would never have retired if you believed for one second that the reports are faked and that the Consortium is still in place. You wouldn't be running around clubbing yourself to death, you would be out chasing whoever you think needs to be chased. So cut the crap, Mulder, because not even you believe what you are saying.", Alex replied coldly.

"Fuck you Krycek. So suddenly you're the expert on my life, eh? Clubbing myself to death, eh? Don't you dare judge whatever I'm passing my time with. Don't you dare sit on that couch of yours with your hand almost wrapped around your loverboy's dick, telling me what I am supposed to think or do."

"You can be such an ass, Mulder." I sank back in my seat, glaring at Krycek wildly while both of them returned my look with utter calm. The only sign that they may have felt something akin to anger was a slightly flushed look on both them and the creased brows. When my breathing had come down slightly, Skinner spoke first.

"Finished, Mulder? You are right, maybe I 'don't know shit', as you so eloquently put it, about you. But you have never offered a chance to 'get to know shit'. Seeing that you called me in the middle of the night shows that either you couldn't think of another number which I doubt, or you thought I would be helping you. If I recall correctly you don't think that of many people. So Mulder, give me a chance to know 'shit' about you. Alex is my lover. But that doesn't change who I am and you know enough about me to realize that I wouldn't be with him if he was a 'lying scumbag' as you once put it. Give me a chance to get to know you, Mulder. And give yourself a chance to get to know you and us. That's all I can offer you."

I looked at Skinner with wide-open eyes, tears threatening to spill at being so exposed and I chose the easy escape route. "It's late and I am tired. I'd like to go to bed now. If that...if that is okay with you." My voice was breaking on the last words and I saw both of them exchange a worried glance. And I wanted to scream at them and cry and all at once. I wanted to tell them that it was their fault. That they had fucked me up now. I wanted to tell them so much, but just know I would have broken down crying and that wasn't acceptable. Not back then, not for me. And so I had to escape but strangely, not too far away. I wanted to stay in their house, I didn't want to go home because at least they were there and human and not...fish. And no, I didn't like Alex Krycek, I did hate him, but he was alive as opposed to almost everyone else in my life. And I suddenly only wanted to sleep and to escape from my thoughts at least for a little while.

Skinner showed me my room, upstairs again and only quietly wished me a good night, sensing that anything else, any other word spoken by him might have been too much. I undressed and pretty much fell into the bed, exhausted, drained, physically and mentally, on one hand wishing that day would never happened on the other hand, well, on the other hand, I wasn't sure what to feel: what to feel about them, what to feel about myself. Because they were right, nothing really made sense anymore, there was no big cause to fight for anymore, it was only empty. And I hated that void.

I slept restlessly, knowing I was waking every now and again, grateful when the clock on the bedside table showed 2pm, it seemed like a reasonable time to get up. Skinner had given me one of the spare bedrooms as he had said. It was like a motel room basically, one of the better ones. It was clean and light and the bed was warm and soft. There was a table, a chair and a wardrobe. I lay in bed for a few more minutes, thinking about the revelation of Skinner and Krycek being in a sexual relationship, trying to imagine what it must be like to do normal things such as having breakfast with someone like Krycek, to be sitting next to him, drinking a coffee. It did make me shake my head, I could not envision Krycek, the man who I had connected only with guns for years, making a coffee.

I got up then, after checking for sounds and hearing none I made my way to the bathroom I had used the night before, clad only in boxershorts, the ones I had slept in during the night. It reminded me that I did not actually have clothes to change, but shrugged it away under unnecessary worry. There was a brush and toothpaste on the sink in the bathrooom. They must have thought of that the night before. Looking at myself in the mirror, the lack of sleep and the residue of my little fight still visible in my face, I tried to get my head around the concept that I was standing halfnaked and brushing my teeth in a bathroom in a big house belonging to Walter S. Skinner and Alexei Krycek who happenend to be a couple. Truly strange, and they call me spooky. I was probably the most normal person in this house.

After a quick shower I made the trip back to the room, not quite satisfied with putting on the jeans that smelled of clubs and smoke and sweat, but I had to wear something. There were still no sounds to be heard and I quietly made my way downstairs, not entirely surprised to find Krycek at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper in front of him. Well, okay, I was surprised, or maybe this completely peaceful picture of him just didn't fit into the row of 'Krycek with a gun', 'Krycek fighting', 'Krycek with a gun again'...He looked up to me, almost resigned, put the paper down and spoke calmly.

"So what's it to be, a coffee first and then the accusations, or accusations first and then a coffee?"

"What have you done with him? What do you threaten him with that he is like that?" So I was almost in his face again. Quite nearly in full rage-mode while he remained completely unimpressed.

"I have not done anything to him. We did have sex, but I believe it is not what you were asking, Mulder. Just, for once in your life, just accept that not everything is a conspiracy. Just accept that Walter and I are lovers and that is has to do with emotions. Something I am not sure you are capable of feeling anymore."

"Bastard. I'm more in touch with my emotions than you killing-machine traitor could ever be." I hate it when people stay absolutely calm while I am nearly spitting fire with rage. He was sitting in his chair, arms crossed in front of his chest, looking at me with this confident, provocative look in his eyes.

"Well then, tell me, Mulder, when was the last time you loved? When was the last time your thoughts revolved around a person, thinking how you could make them smile a bit more often? When was the last time you had sex and felt more than just that thrill? Or, let me rephrase that, when was the last time you had sex, period?"

My knuckles turned white at the edge of the table I was now leaning on, when I pressed my reply through clenched teeth. "You have no right to ask these things, say these things."

He stood up with a start, puttting his coffee cup onto the counter and rolled his paper together, then started to leave the kitchen but stopped in the doorway and turned around to me, a hard look in his eyes. "No, Mulder, I don't. But you don't have that right either." With that he went into the living room and, judged by the sounds, sat down on the couch, the paper rustling, so he probably was back to reading. I stared after him for a while, then followed him into the living room, stopping in the doorway, watching him read the paper, completely focussed on whatever article had caught his interest.

"Mulder?" Maybe not all that focussed after all.

"Give me time to get used to this, to get used to you...and Skinner like this. I mean, give me a break I was told just yesterday that my ex-boss is not only gay but in love with a person who was my worst enemy for years."

He grinned at me openly, but his look hardened quickly when he said the words. "Who has said that Walter's gay. And 'was'? So what I am now to you? Your ex-boss's boytoy? Is that it Mulder? Is that what you think?!"

"Yes. No. Hell, I don't know who or what you are. I just...don't know. Before it was just so easy, Walter was good, you were bad, I was..., but now, now nothing is that clear anymore. I don't know who or what anyone is anymore. It's just a big mess of conceptions that once were true but suddenly..everything seems to have turned upside down." I paused for a moment. "And now to suddenly see you in one house. It's just too much to understand within a few hours."

"No-one expects you to understand it already now, Mulder." Walter had obviously gotten up, his voice coming from behind me. He must have heard the exchange. Krycek picked up the thought.

"But we expect that you at least respect it. It was our choice to move together and to live together. Believe me, it would never been our choice to fall in love but it happened and we have chosen to accept that. And as Walter did say yesterday, we are not willing to bend over for anyone who does not like this. Not even if that person is you."

My mouth closed tightly. Fuck them for making it sound like I have it all wrong. Fuck them for making it sound that everything is my fault and that I am the idiot. Fuck them for making it all so much more complex and different and strange. Fuck them for everything. Fuck them for fucking with my head now and a few hours back.

"Can I call a cab from your phone?" I looked at Skinner with a probably indifferent look.

"Mulder, I can drive you home."

"No, no, I'd rather call a cab." Seeing his offer declined, Skinner gestured to the phone in the hallway silently, observing with unshifting gaze how I made the call.

My focus switched between them after I had hung up. I grabbed my clothes from upstairs then silently walked down the stairs again. They hadn't moved from their positions. "I am waiting outside. Sir. Krycek." And then I opened the door, walked through, closed the door, walked the few steps to the sidewalk and exhaled with a sigh. What a mind-fuck night.

The cab ride was uneventful. I believe I probably slept through most of it and falling onto my much-loved couch, my eyes closing was the first thing I did when I arrived at my apartment again. Who would have though that my night out could actually end up like it did? I most certainly had not expected that. I had as a matter of fact scratched Skinner from my mind almost completely after him resigning from the Bureau. After all what were the chances of him actually enjoying to stay in contact with his most troublesome agent? I must have taken years of his time with my escapades. Still, wasn't it an offer of friendship he had made just that morning?

Friendship, well, a kind of relationship I had never been able to grasp the concept of. Scully? She has never been a 'friend', a loyal and trusted person, yes. A partner, yes. And maybe even a soulmate, but friend? And the Lone Gunmen, let's just say we had a relationship both parties profitted from, it was not much more than an exchange of goods, knowledge against knowledge under circumstances that weren't as physically tinged as with Krycek. So suddenly I was supposed to function in a friendship with my ex-boss and a man who's guts I hate, or hated, or thought I hated still. Tough. Fortunately sleep took away the possibility of letting my thoughts revolve around the subject too much longer.

When I woke up with a start it was Sunday night once more, the TV had nothing to offer but still I ended up sitting there watching show after show, commercial after commercial, the clock ticking away the seconds, minutes, hours while I tried everything to distract my thoughts from going back to the picture of Krycek and Skinner, the way they had sat on that couch, the way they had counterd my fury with that, dare I say sophisticated, calmness. But the image wouldn't go away. It stayed and stayed and stayed and etched the details into my mind. Krycek with that green eyes of his, the slight wrinkles about his eyes, tense, giving his look the hardness it had. His lips quirked in a way that seemed to say 'I know exactly what you are thinking even if you don't yet', though it wasn't quite a smirk. The arms had been crossed in front of his chest, pretty much the way he had been sitting in the kitchen later that day making his calmness appear so much more offensive than my defensive bouts of rage. And Skinner, the ideal counterpart to Krycek, calm too, yes, very calm, but his brown eyes had a more visible understanding, tenderness almost in them and his calmness had a more awaiting, more neutral tinge to it as opposed to Krycek's quite offensive, almost subtly aggressive stance. But still as much as I wanted to I couldn't deny a certain tenderness, caring in Krycek's posture as well as a certain hardness in Skinner's. They were like two sides of a coin, yin and yang or maybe they were...simply one. Maybe that was love.

And that image of the two of them stayed with me all through the next week while I was either channel surfing or writing some of the articles people had asked me for. But most importantly that picture stayed with me while I was reading the entire final report about the Consortium affair again. I re-read very action, every murder, every conversation, every interrogation that had been reported by someone. I watched all the tapes, listened to all the recorded conversations that had been archived together with the report. And yes legally I wouldn't have been able to get access to a copy again, but some connections never die. And so I was barely sleeping that week, but instead sitting up and reading and watching and listening, searching for one thing, one piece of evidence that contradicted Krycek's story, searching for one tidbit that would enable me to destroy the picture he and Skinner had painted of him.

I found none.

There was nothing that even remotely pointed to a lie or to a cover-up of something. Nothing. Niente. Nada.

Just as I shut the last folder, about to scream in an attempt to make space for the frustration, someone knocked on my door. I wasn't too surprised to find Skinner, clad in jeans and shirt again, standing in front of it. I opened without looking at him and sat down on the couch, leaving it to him to close the door and observe the chaos of folders and files on the table. I looked at him with the eyes of a man who had barely slept for a week, who had obessed over a pack of files, looking for something that would identify that man's lover as something else. I looked at him with the eyes of a man who had found absolutely nothing. And who felt all the worse for that.

Skinner took the liberty to clear some space of the couch, putting the files onto the table and sat down, his gaze boring into me, looking right through me or so it seemed, taking in my red-rimmed eyes, the bitter smile, the worn-out clothes.

"Have you found anything, Mulder?"

I heard my voice reply quietly, sounding tiny. "No, and you know it. There is nothing. There is...nothing."

"Mulder, let go of that past. It is over now. Finished. We have moved on. Allow yourself to leave it behind, too."

"You don't understand, I can't. I can't just walk away from all these years, leaving it behind as a giant second, thinking, 'it is past now', thinking 'let's not think about it anymore'. It may have worked for you, no it has worked for you, forgive me for sounding bitter, but it cannot work for me.You probably had it all right, sir. This past is me, the search for the truth, that is me. It is all I have lived, breathed, eaten, drunk in the past years. I cannot...I cannot simply accept that it is over and move on. I cannot."

"Why not, Mulder? Why not start a new crusade? Be a writer, god knows there are enough people looking for books about the work you have done as an agent. Why not move on, settle down, find a woman to marry and to be with, get children, a family, if that is what you desire? Why not, Mulder?"

"There is...you won't understand this, but there is nothing I can draw from. Can't you see that all I have done, all I have lived for in my life is now signed and sealed and filed away? And now there is, there is nothing anymore. There is only one gaping hole looking at me, making me wonder what the hell I am still doing here because there is nothing to do anymore. I spent the last months trying to find something, trying to find something to fill what has never been there. Because there has always been something missing. The crusade as you call it, it would have never happened if that 'something', that undefinable something would have been there. But I didn't notice it much, you know, I was off looking into weird cases first, then suddenly aliens, and then this conspiracy came up. And I was only the key figure because it was the only thing I could obsess about because there was nothing else. By having this one thing that gave meaning to my life, there was always something to fill that void or at least cover it a tiny bit. And now there isn't. Yes, I see you have moved on. You have a lover, you have a house, you have everything a gay man your age could probably wish for. Alright upon seeing the look on your face, I take 'gay' back. Krycek obviously has moved on, too, and seems to have an understanding of everything that I cannot imagine to ever have. You two are a couple. How unbelievable is that?! Do you understand what I mean? Everyone around me has been able to move on. Get a job, get a family, hell, get a life and I'm still sitting in this crappy apartment..." by then rage was entering my voice "...waiting for something to happen and nothing does. I go out, meet people and it doesn't feel right. And I see everyone around me and I think 'hell, what do they have what I am lacking' and I don't know. I just don't fucking know."

With one movement I cleared the table of the files that crashed to the ground noisily, then sank back into the couch, trying hard to decide between bawling and trashing my place. My hands were shaking badly, my whole body was shaking with repressed anger and maybe, more important, sadness and fatigue and desperation. Skinner's hand touched my shoulder softly, upon encountering no resistance he slipped nearer to me and pulled me against his body, enabling me to freely cry about everything. About my life that didn't seem to make sense anymore, about the years I had been looking for something and finding it, only to notice that it really was not the ultimate truth and he let me cry for the void in me. I sobbed into his shoulder, cursing the world for feeling better than I did, cursing everyone else for doing better than I did, cursing myself for being stuck at that point, unable to move on.

I was glad Walter didn't say anything, didn't try to 'calm' me, I was glad he only held me and let me get it all out for the first time. When my sobbing had reduced to the occaisonal sniffle he carefully drewback from me, his assessing gaze on me. His worried look almost made me laugh.

"No need to worry, sir. I am okay now...sorry for that...outburst. I don't want to throw you out or anything, but I think I've got some cleaning up to do here." I grin wryly, knowing that a few hours later the thought of that little outburst would make me cringe and blush red. And as for not throwing him out, I did want to be alone for a while, get my head straight again.

"You know, the 'sir' isn't necessary, I have said so before. Mulder, I am serious, if you ever need someone to talk to, you know my number and if it ever gets too lonely here, if you need some company, feel free to come over. You will always be welcome in our house."

"I doubt Krycek would agree with you there."

"If you could start calling him Alex instead you might find out that there are many things about him you would call impossible now. He is no bad man, Mulder. I wouldn't be with him, if he was. He has made his mistakes along the way, all of us have. But he is not evil, in no way. I'd like you to realize that."

"Who knows, sir...sorry, Skinner, that might even happen. I didn't imagine before that I could end up here with you holding me while I bawl like a baby." The blushing part was already starting when I thought back on it. Fortunately Skinner didn't seem to notice but got up and made his way to the door, only to again emphasize his offer when he was standing in the hallway.

"Do think about it. We would like you to come over sometime, have dinner, talk, hopefully without all that baggage some day. We are prepared to make a new start. If you are too, Mulder, then you are welcome."

"I'll think about." A nod and he vanished along the hallways and down the stairs, I close the door and lean back against it, my eyes falling shut. Exhausted, once more. A few blinks and I surveyed the mess I had made, the folders and files now looked just a little more used than before but soon enough no-one would be noticing it anymore. After all that report had become one of the most important documents of the United States, there were thousands of people on waiting lists of the NARA, just waiting to see these originals. And I had them spread on my dusty floor. Fun, fun. After I had cleaned up I sat down once more and waited and waited and waited, picked up the receiver of the phone, had the number half punched, then put it down again. Waited some more. Turned the TV on and ten minutes later off again. Watched the sun set over DC. Put on the TV again only to turn it off a few minutes later. Set at my desk for a while. Read some articles in a geek magazine. Gave that up for pacing the floor. Thought 'fuck', grabbed a shower, then some fresh clothes, a jacket and my keys and found myself in the hallway in front of my apartment. Skiner had said I could come over anytime. There's no time like now. I had thought about calling him, but I just knew I would have never gone through with it then, would have just come up with some sucky excuse for calling. I took my car and needed three times the time one would usually need, thanks to my frequent stops, U-turns, U-turns again and the ten minutes I sat in the car outside their house, feeling like a stalker who is about to intrude on something. I parked in the drive, behind Skinner's car and next to one presumably belonging to Kyrcek...Alex. I would have to get used to that name.

After another ten minutes, sweaty hands on the wheel, I did get out, closed the door and locked the car, took a deep breath and marched to the front door. Just before having my hand on the bell I felt myself shaking again only curse myself for making such a big deal of visiting people, maybe soon-to-be friends. So I mustered up some sort of courage then and rang. A few seconds later steps could be heard and Walter opened the door, the look of surprise clearly visible.

"Mulder?!"

"Hi. I know you probably haven't expected me this soon."

"Indeed, I haven't. Come in. I'm sorry if we aren't quite prepared for your visit. Alex is still in the basement, umm, working out. Go sit in the living room I'll ask him to wrap it up. Do you want to drink something?"

"No, thanks." Upon seeing him turning. "And thanks, for being here, you know."

"You always knew I would, Mulder. Give me a few." With that he disappered down some stairs. Working out on a Sunday night, well, maybe he was otherwise occupied on other nights. I first sat on the seat that I had occupied the night before, watching the clock on one of the bookshelves. Five minutes, ten minutes. Then I started walking around the room, looking at some of the book titles, found my profiling abilities backed up by some, but was utterly surprised by others. They did have their share of science fiction, some in cryllic, probably Alex's although I could imagine Skinner brushing up on some roots and actually learning the langauge. That was the sort of pasttime he'd look out for in retirement, doing what he had always wanted to spend time on, spend the mind on something else besides conspiracies and agents and reports.

"Found anything interesting, Mulder?" I jumped slightly at his voice. Skinner stood in the doorway, must have for a few minutes. "Some. I am impressed by your collection."

"Many of the classics are Alex's books. I never understood how someone so young could really be fascinated by authors not even my father touches, but he has converted me at least a bit. He's in the shower by now by the way, will join us when he's finished. You sure you don't want a drink, Mulder?"

"Huh? No, thanks," my mind had gone down another track already. I wondered if his parents knew he was living with a man. I wondered if they knew, how they had reacted upon that, upon the divorce from Sharon and then to studdenly see a well-muscled green-eyed and black-haired man take her place.

He had poured himself a scotch and lounged on the couch once more, openly looking at me, observing me. I felt his eyes rake over my body and stop dead when he caught me looking. I stared into his eyes and then finally looked down when I could not stand his intense gaze anymore. He did not even blink.

"Lost in thought, Mulder?"

"In some way, yes. I wondered if your family knew. And I wondered, well, how it is to live here with him. Whether it is what you had always imagined or whether it turned out to be a complete surprise." I shrugged helplessly. "I have many questions, I guess."

"We understand that." Alex's voice carried over from the doorway, he took me in with one look, not unlike Skinner's before then came over, held out his hand. I shook it. That meant truce, at least for a while. It meant that I accepted him as Skinner's companion, that I accepted their relationship. It meant that I would not pounce on him. But it did not mean much more than that.

"To answer your questions," Skinner picked up the conversation again, this time his back against Alex's chest, a picture which looked strange in some way but not wrong. "My family does know. It was a surprise to them after my divorce from Sharon or maybe it wasn't. And yes the divorce was before Alex and I entered this relationship. I did stay faithful to Sharon all through the years. They know Alex. They do not know about his past but I really do think that it is greatly unimportant in our relationship anyway. I never imagined that I would end up sharing my house with a man when I am gray and old, so this has never been a fantasy of mine." The two smiled at each other. "Don't get me wrong it is amazing, but in the back of my mind there always had been this image of a wife and children and grandchildren frolicking through the garden. A dog maybe." Alex grinned at Skinner suggestively, only to feel Skinner's elbow in his rips. "My relationship with Alex is some sort of dream come true though, so I am not complaining. It isn't perfect yet, you know, there still is something missing in the picture, but it is as close as it can get to perfect at this point."

I filed the comment away under 'to be considered later' but quickly turned by attention to Alex who had never stopped making small circular motions on Skinner's stomach all the time he had talked. "And for you? Is this how you want to grow old?"

"As Walter said, it is very damn close to perfect. And no, would you have asked me a few years ago whether I could picture this, no, I wouldn't have been able to. Quite frankly, I probably couldn't have given you any clear picture of my future. I went from day to day, surviving. There wasn't much room for thoughts about a rosy future."

"But was it, with a man, your future somehow?"

"Just come right out with it and ask it, Mulder, no need to be ashamed. Yes I am gay, so there never has been a women in my retirement fantasy..."

"And..."

"And Walter is bi. That is the question you wanted to ask, I suppose."

"Yeah, I guess. But you did have sex with women now, didn't you? It is in the files."

"There is a whole lot of shit in the files, too, regarding such details. Anyway, yes, I did have sex with women. But sex is just that, sex. It's about getting off. And I am able to enjoy a woman's body if I am in the mood. Or let me correct that, was. By now I wouldn't exchange Mr Grumpy here with anyone in the world."

I had to grin at that statement although Skinner obviously was not all too happy about it. For quite some time it was silent in the room, a comfortable silence not hanging deep, but being fluffy and light and easy to enjoy. The two cuddled on the couch. A kiss every now and then, a touch under shirts. And I could not take my eyes away. That was the real thing. Humans in action, something I had for a long time only seen on the TV screen. Then I remembered Skinner's comment from earlier, directing myself at him.

"So you said something was still missing or something could be even better, what is it, if I may ask. I mean, you have each other, a house. Surely you don't mean children do you?"

They both looked at each other, silent communication, obviously coming to an agreement. Alex spoke first, the light from one of the lambs reflecting in his eyes, giving the green a golden hue.

"We don't think you are ready for that fact just yet, Mulder. Let's leave it at that."

I leaned back, my eyes switching back and forth between them but both held this inscrutable expression, obviously quite firm in their beliefs that they could, under no circumstances, tell me.

"I mean, come on, what could it possibly be. It can't be much more of a shock than seeing you two together. I mean hell, you surely haven't turned out to be serial killers? You haven't, have you? Come on, guys. I'm a big boy, remember."

"Mulder, just trust us here. We will tell you eventually if this friendship works out between us. You are as new at it as we are, so let's just wait a little while longer."

"That's just not fair." My whine made all of us laugh, but I decided to let it be, at least for a while and for the rest of the night the topics of conversation ranged from literature over music to national and international politics, military and finally movies. The big yawning started in the middle of a discussion about the reality factor in war movies and we put us out of our misery by going to bed. Yes, I stayed the night. In what I already called 'my bedroom' when asked which was good enough for another round of laughs.

After a reasonable amount of sleep we had breakfast, enjoyed leisure morning conversation over coffee and bagels and then I drove home again. Back home into my crappy apartment that I was instantly disgusted by as I opened the door. I fed the fish and flopped down on the couch, wondering what I had done wrong that I had no-one to spend my, albeit early, retirement with. It had been hard to see Skinner and Alex together like that, how they literally breathed for each other. And it were those simple, small things that showed just how much in sync they were and it was those things that made me envy them for what they had. The way Alex handed Skinner his coffee, knowing how he liked it.

But then, I didn't even remotely know any person well enough to imagine a future together. I had asked them whether it was their dream come true. Had they asked me what my fantasy was, I couldn't have told them because I had never looked further than the next day, the next assignment, the next piece of the puzzle, but unlike Alex I had not changed that attitude towards life. I was still caught in this trap called 'past'. And it made my thoughts turn dark, very dark indeed.
 

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