Title: X-Trek - Episode 1: A New Hope
Author: Goblin McGee
E-mail: goblinmc@hotmail.com
Disclaimer: The X-Files characters belong to CC and Fox. STNG belongs to Paramount. I'm broke and this isn't making me any richer.
Pairing: M/K with a little non-explicit Sc/Sk on the side
Rating: PG-13, the NC-17 stuff starts next episode.
Category: AU
Summary: A drop in the ratings has led the writers to send the X-Filers out to boldly go where another series has gone before.
Archive: DitB, RatB, Slashing Mulder, others too probably if you ask
Feedback: yes, Yes, YES. I'm a shy, sensitive first timer who needs plenty of attention, coddling, pledges of undying devotion and dulcet hymns of praise. :)
Warning: All jibes herein are made with the upmost affection. That said, true blue Wil Wheaton fans may want to take a miss on this one. Oh, and this hasn't been betaed.
Author's Note: In my version of events the X-Files bunch got the hell out of Dodge before Requiem, so you can forget about Mulder's abduction, Doggett and the rest of it - never happened here. All my suppositions concerning the writers are based on the pre-Requiem material (ah, the good old days when they seemed to appreciate the value of a Mulder). Also, I have confined myself entirely to TNG as a source for Star Trek setting details, the information gaps filled by my own fevered imagination (OK, there is one tiny TOS reference worked into this episode too - anybody spot it?). Any newer stuff from DS9 and Voyager does not apply here.


EPISODE 1: A NEW HOPE (1/3)

The bridge of the Enterprise was manned by eager crewmembers all busy about the chores of their respective stations. All busy about chores, that is, except for one slender dark-haired boy who was occupied instead in craning his neck around to take in his surroundings.

"Maintain current course heading, Ensign Mulder," ordered the commanding bald figure who filled the captain's chair with his muscular bulk.

"What the hell? Hey, all right! It's the Star Trek dream again!" exclaimed the hazel-eyed young man, excitement quickening a distinctive monotone. "Hmmm...I seem to have achieved a lucid dream state, an awareness of the dreaming condition which, according to centuries old Tibetan Buddhist texts as well as many contemporary dream scholars, allows the possibility of direct control over the perceived environment. And I managed it without even the preparation of mental exercises!

So then what are we doing in the Next Generation? I'm not sticking around here as some stupid ensign! Let's go back to when the crew was two-fisted, the captain had hair, and aliens were babes." The boy shut his eyes tightly, pretty features twisting with effort and concentration. "C'mon, bring on the blue nympho vampire chicks from Venus!"

He opened his eyes expectantly only to encounter the bored and faintly irritated stares of the rest of the bridge staff. Nothing had changed.

"Ensign Mulder, there have been some changes brought into effect that I think you should be made aware of," proclaimed a deep baritone from the captain's chair.

"What?" Clear hazel eyes widened in surprise. "Nothing's different."

"No, not changes you brought on. Ones that *we* did."

"We?"

"The rest of the cast and myself in conjunction with the writers."

"What are you talking about?"

"This isn't a dream, Mulder. The show has taken a new direction, to the satisfaction of the majority of its cast of characters."

"Why should I trust what you are telling me?" Suspicion blanketed Mulder's face. Scenarios involving hallucinogenic drugs and consortium hypnotists played through his mind.

Skinner sighed and looked to the figure seated to his left, a red-headed woman in a blue medical services uniform. "I think you should talk to him."

"Mulder, just hold back your questions and comments until I get to the end of this, OK? There's so much to brief you on as it is. All right...let's start at the beginning. The ratings for the show have been slipping this last season. I don't know if you were aware of that. You don't come to the planning and discussion sessions with the writers - I know you feel you have your reasons," Scully held up a restraining hand, forestalling a protest from the ensign. "There didn't seem to be anything to be gained from informing you about it, and nobody wanted to place you under additional pressure. God knows, there's been stress enough for all of us as a result of the show." This last comment drew sounds of agreement from all around the bridge.

"So what are you trying to tell me here, Scully? The ratings were down, so they decided to pull a special episode as a stunt to raise interest? Well, some warning would have been nice, but I'm sure I can improvise my way through like I usually do until we get back to normal. Alas, the trials of the hero," he shot her a grin, then glanced around at the others and continued in a drier tone. "Oh, and I'm touched that everyone is so worried about my piece of mind, but the ratings and all other concerns of the writers are meaningless to me. These issues are simply straw men, distractions that are part of their machinations to turn me from my quest to expose and defeat the conspiracies which the writers by virtue of their positions must necessarily be responsible for creating and guilty of perpetuating.

Scully, I've told you my thoughts about those meetings. They are meant trick us into revealing information and manipulate us into complicity with the plans of these men. You endanger yourself and our endeavors by attending." During the course of this speech the boy had risen from his seat, delivering it with a proud lift to his head and impassioned gestures.

"Oh great, he's off on it again," came an anonymous grumble somewhere to Mulder's right. Mulder had been tirelessly campaigning against the writers ever since his infamous first and last appearance at a consultation meeting. In characteristic style, the man had come striding into the room, striking a dramatic pose at the head of the table, to demand without preliminary the immediate tender of the necessary information to locate his sister and bring down the consortium in the name of humanity, the rights of the public and the Truth. After some hemming and hawing and tolerant avuncular smiles from the writers, it became clear that such information would not be forthcoming. The outraged agent loudly denounced the entire room as a nest of conspirators and collaborators against "the people" then stormed out, never to return.

"I thought it was understood that you were going to listen to what I have to say," Scully declared calmly, staring coolly at the young man until he subsided back into his seat. "That's better. Now, you're working from some false assumptions here. Firstly, this is not a special episode; this is a permanent departure. The writers decided that it would aid in the continued success of the show if they could take some of its best elements and combine them with those of another series franchise that has a broad fan base and powerful, yet untapped story potential - Star Trek: The Next Generation. You yourself have often commented that you find the other spin-offs dissatisfying in comparison and wish TNG was still in production. They're gambling that we can recapture some of that while giving it our own flavor.

Secondly, the cast status system has been restructured completely under this scheme, leaving behind its old hierarchical underpinnings. No single hero. Or *heroine*," she added pointedly. "We are an ensemble now - as in everyone working together cooperatively and no special privileges. It'll be a hard adjustment at first, I know," she favored him with a look of sympathy for his pained grimace at the suggestion of team work. The rest of the crewmembers, meanwhile, sniggered with satisfaction. "In recognition of the new equal footing among characters, the writers met with each one of us in private to discuss our particular interests, consider our requests and talk about how the transition would affect us as individuals.

Which brings me my third point. I grant you that in the past meetings have provided us with very little but a forum for the writers to issue orders and directives while routinely turning a deaf ear to our concerns. However, this time they have yielded us real, tangible results. The writers wanted to bring in a new administrative arrangement to accompany the format change. It's all to fit the innovative concept they've developed - entirely cast produced stories occurring within the confines of a writer constructed general environment. The storylines will arise totally out of our natural interactions with each other, without any direct interference or constraints from the writers. Aside from manufacturing our physical surroundings, the only real power they preserve now that we're underway is that of introducing freshly created characters. That was retained as a necessity, or there would have been no new people for us to meet on our explorations. Our cooperation was valuable to them, since our contribution is such an important part of this, so they actually listened to us, responded to our needs. Mulder, things are going to be so much better now for everyone. Having negotiating power - "

"Scully, how could you negotiate with them knowing the kind of atrocities and systematic obfuscation of the truth those men have orchestrated? We have to bring them down from the outside, not offer conciliation. Don't you all see? By willingly playing along with their plans you allow yourselves to be contaminated by their evil. Compromise with these men is morally reprehensible."

"That's easy for you to say, little writer's pet," X snarled. The erstwhile informant was manning the defense command post at the top of the bridge. His dark eyes glittered angrily under a high, worpled Klingon forehead.

"You're the ones in bed with the writers!" Mulder shot back after an instant of startlement at the other man's apparent resurrection.

"No, but we are the ones they fuck over!"

"That's enough!" Scully broke in before things could escalate any further.

This was a sore spot between Mulder and the rest of the cast. He was scornful of their continued interaction with the writers and "cowardly toadying", seeing himself as the lone soul willing to fully commit to the fight against injustice. After severing any direct contact with the creators of their world in that first meeting, he had taken all his own initiative and pursued his own rebellious plans and eccentric interests in flagrant disregard to their authority.

Scully could see what Mulder couldn't in this. He was making a categorical error in thinking that just because something was possible for him it must be possible for all of them. Cast members had been created for different things and were expected to behave accordingly. He was allowed to openly rail against the rule-makers and challenge them at every turn because that was what the writers had intended him to do from the very beginning. In fact, the quickest way for him to lose his value to them would be to *stop* making trouble. //Not that there's much chance of that// she thought wryly.

The others were predictably resentful from years of watching Mulder running about unfettered by the writers' threats and commands while they themselves suffered oppression and frustration. They saw him as a spoiled brat, selfishly endangering everyone else for the sake of pointless private whims and crazy crusades that he alone could afford, secure in the knowledge of his own safety. The darling of the writers flaunting his privilege at their expense as they were dragged along for the ride. Scully knew differently. Mulder's recklessness and his relentless attacks on authority had more to do with a combination of restless energy and passionate, single-minded idealism than any confidence in his own invulnerability. Self-preservation was just not something that entered his mind when he was fired for a cause, as she was all too aware.

All this was more than clear to Scully. The problem was getting it through to everyone else.

"Mulder, I'm aware of your devotion to the cause and I admire you for it, but you need to make allowances for differences in personalities and circumstances. Not everyone is going to view things the same as you do and hold the same priorities. That deserves our respect."

"Other priorities - you mean taking the easy path for comfort and convenience instead of pursuing what's right. How does that deserve anything but my contempt?"

"If we pursue moral absolutes too rigidly, dismissing out of hand any mediation possibilities that might ease the plight of the people on whose behalf we claim to protest, we are liable to end up with a path strewn with bodies and nothing to show for it but our own share of the guilt."

"How can you say that, Scully. What did they offer you to betray me?"

Scully looked pained by the accusation, but neither her gaze nor her voice wavered. "I won't deny that I had a personal interest in the writers' proposal. How could I not? I would like the ability to bear children, I want a life, and they were willing to hear my wishes. There are so many things that we've all been deprived of over the years."

"Such as truth? Justice? Freedom from being stabbed in the back by our co-workers?"

"Such as fertility. Or sanity. Or health. Or life. Or the freedom to express love." With that she reached out and took Skinner's hand in hers.

"You've got to be kidding me!"

"Do you have a problem, Ensign Mulder?" Skinner growled in annoyance.

"How long has this been going on for?"

"It hasn't been 'going on' at all," Scully replied with dignity. "As I was saying, the writers wouldn't allow it and the FBI regulations were prohibitive besides. That's not the case here. We can do as we like as far as the writers are concerned, and it's clear from the episodes that Federation rules don't bar crewmen from involvement with superior officers."

"*That's* why we're here? Why you betrayed me? So you can get it on with Skinner?" Mulder asked in incredulous dismay.

"This wasn't a betrayal. I want what's best for you too, Mulder."

"Trust me, this isn't it."

"Frankly, I don't believe you're a good judge of that. You've never pursued happiness. Vengeance, answers, satisfaction to curiosity - but never the simple contentments of a good life. Not even to the extent that your quest might allow."

"Star Trek is the recipe for happiness?"

"I think it's our best shot at it," she answered with conviction.

"If this is such a great deal why didn't you tell me about it before? Don't you think I deserved that much consideration?" Scully's silence in the matter hurt him. He wouldn't have expected any better from the others.

"I'm sorry, Mulder. I couldn't, not if this was going to work" her face drew into lines of strain. "The writers 'suggested' that it was unnecessary to let you in on it, reminding us of your volatile and impulsive personality. Your tendency to fly off on radical courses of action."

"You kept something *this* important from me because of some shit the writers said?"

"I wouldn't of if there hadn't been truth to it. You never think about what the repercussions to your actions will be. It was inconceivable that you would be willing to wait and plan with us, trying to find a balance between everybody's needs and wishes."

"So you're saying it's all my fault?" Mulder asked angrily.

A resounding "Yes!" came from all corners of the bridge. Scully did not join in.

"That's not how I look at it. You just have strengths and weaknesses like anyone else. Those needed to be brought into account. We couldn't take the risk with you, not given the importance of what was at stake," Scully replied.

"She had no choice, Mulder," Skinner put in. "We needed solidarity, and there was no chance of the others, especially those just revived after being killed off amongst the fall out of your shenanigans, agreeing to introduce you into the equation as a wild card factor."

"That's it then? You're all tired of my crap, so shut up, accept what I'm handed and get happy? I'm just supposed to abandon my sister and the public to join the search for Spock?"

"No one is being abandoned," Scully assured him. "The Star Trek cast wasn't included in the copyright deal they arranged with Paramount, so you definitely won't be seeing Spock. Instead this universe will be peopled exclusively by the new creations of our writers, in addition to the members of our own cast - every one of them, both past and present. All of the characters from the X-Files. Alive. Think about it, Mulder - your sister, my sister, my father, your parents..."

Mulder responded with wary interest. "So where are they? I don't see them."

"The writers wouldn't give out specific locations. We have to explore this universe and encounter the other people here ourselves - creating our own stories as we do it. That will form the basis of the show."

"Did they supply any location information at all?" Mulder asked doubtfully.

"Well...no. They might be right here on the ship, though."

"So she could still be anywhere in the universe."

"But now you can be certain she is alive."

"At right this moment."

"It's *something*, isn't it? It's more than we had."

"What about our partnership? It's over now?" His hurt was obvious. //Yeah right, no one is being abandoned.//

"I'm still your friend, Mulder. And we'll still have a special bond between us, too. I made sure of that. I'm your foster mother."

For a mad instant Mulder had thought Scully was going to say that the two of them were married. Then for another mad instant he thought she had actually said she was his *foster mother*.

"My what?"

"Foster mother."

"That's ridiculous," Mulder scoffed. "I'm years older than you."

"Not anymore."

"What?" Mulder spun around and tried to catch his reflection in the shiny black surface surrounding his computer display. He did look younger. A lot younger. His hands flew up to his face, encountering tighter skin and youth softened features. "What the hell is going on? I look about nineteen years old."

"The writers decided to give you an age regression. Isn't it wonderful? You'll practically have a youth. None of us have had anything but a few flashback memories before."

"This isn't my real age! And even if it were I'd still be too old for a foster mother. Anyway, I thought you said that my parents are alive here?"

"The back story, according to the writers, is that your parents are very busy with important Federation work on some distant planet and allowed me guardianship a few years ago to advance your practical education through travel and on board work experience."

"Why would they bother to come up with a story like that? Why turn me into a kid in the first - " A terrible suspicion assaulted Mulder. He reviewed the evidence with mounting dread - a kid, working on the bridge as an ensign, who had the ship's doctor for a mother. Christ. Oh shit, his station was the one closest to the view screen on the captain's left side. The one where *he* so often sat. He shot out of his seat, backing away from it in disgust.

"Who did this to me?" Mulder demanded.

"What do you mean? The writers knew that I wanted to find some way of preserving the special bond between us. They offered me this, and I said yes. If you're talking about the age thing, I'm not sure why they thought to - "

Mulder exploded with fury. "The writers! Those bastards! They're trying to destroy me. Punishing me for defiance. They won't get away with this!"

"What's the matter with you? You're a young man and we have a close official relationship. Those are *good* things."

"Don't you see what they've done? Look at the facts - young, ensign, ship's doctor's son, working there," he thrust a savage finger towards the incriminating computer terminal. "I'm Wesley!"

"Mulder, calm down. You're imagining things."

"Look around you, Scully. Red-haired female doctor, Klingon defense commander, follicly challenged captain. Clearly they've been slotting us into some roles."

"Those are just coincidences. The ship needs a doctor. I was the only major X-Files character with a medical degree. Who else would get the position? It also needs a captain. Walter was the most central character created to fill a responsible administrative function. We need a defense officer. X has a facility for strategic planning and combat."

"So if he's not supposed to be Worff then why is he a Klingon?" Mulder challenged.

"Klingons are stronger than humans, aren't they? Again, it just makes sense to make the defense officer as strong as you can."

"We're in the STNG universe," responded the ensign, still skeptical of her explanations. "Defense is pressing buttons to fire laser blasts at other ships."

"I saw enough hand to hand fighting those times we watched the show together."

"Maybe," Mulder conceded reluctantly. "But none of that explains about me."

"That seems fairly straightforward to me too. Unlike with the three of us, there's not any immediately obvious job for a paranormal specialist and conspiracy fighter on board a starship. You've always been a main character, though, and they no doubt wanted to keep you in the center of action. As a bridge ensign you'll be in a main hub of activity, but working at a low enough level that it doesn't really matter that you're specialized skills aren't a good fit."

"And I'm a kid because..."

"Oh come on, Mulder, you're too smart and motivated a person to be a forty year old ensign. Nobody would have bought that. This way it is clearly just a starting position."

The youthful man considered her argument for a moment. "You can rationalize it all you want, but I'm still Wesley."

"I disagree. Even if you insist on believing that, though, is it really such a big deal?"

Mulder was aghast. "Scully, have you *watched* the show? He's a total geek!"

The eloquently raised brows of his captain and crewmates brought a flush to the ensign's cheeks. "I mean not the cool kind. He doesn't have a single redeeming anti-establishment tendency!" He collected himself with an effort, putting on his most reasonable, persuasive, "the expenditures on the chimpanzee phrenologists were entirely justified, sir" voice and a winning smile. "There has been a big mistake. I'm not remotely suitable for this part. It's so obviously apparent that I'm meant to be Kirk, as I'm sure you can all see."

"Kirk isn't on TNG!" Scully protested.

"That's precisely my point - we shouldn't be here either. The original series has been able to demonstrate a massive sustained appeal decade after decade. It had a far shorter production run than TNG, thus a greater store of unexplored story possibilities exists. TOS also had a smaller core cast, more reminiscent of the X-Files."

"I'm not wearing one of those mini-dresses."

"Scully, don't be so selfish. Think of the general good."

"General good! You just want to be captain."

"It's not a matter of *want*," Mulder replied in injured tones. "It's a matter of calling."

"How on earth is that your calling?" Scully scoffed.

"I thought you knew me, Scully," he replied, shaking his head in mournful disappointment. "It's perfectly clear. Kirk is my destiny. We're twin souls: lone wolves, unstoppable forces, possessors of iron wills, leaders of some, lovers of many, letting punches fall where they may..." The ensign's eyes had taken on a dreamy cast, and he was oblivious to the impact his eulogy was having on his audience.

Skinner, who had been gripped by a fit of desperate choking, at last erupted with a harsh barking noise that interrupted his subordinate's flow of words.

"Fists falling..." The big man was seized by another fit before managing to gasp out hoarsely, "Mulder, when have your fists made contact with anyone without you being creamed?"

"That's unfair! It was only the other day that Krycek appeared and I - "

"Krycek!" Mulder was surprised and taken aback to see the other man fall into another bout of explosive mirth that was echoed by other bridge officers. He wondered darkly if Skinner had been drinking. It was a good thing they would be changing shows and commanders soon because Skinner plainly did not have the decorum and sound judgment for the job.

"Riiight...Krycek. Must have been hard to catch him. I'll bet he was trying really hard to get away, huh?"

Scully elbowed Walter in the side to stop him as knowing glances were exchanged all around the confused ensign.

"Well, he was, but once we were in the alley and had ended up against a wall he gave up the attempt. My attacks had just tired him out so much." The evidence of his fighting prowess did not receive the anticipated respect for some reason. Dismayed, he felt compelled to impress upon them the gravity of the event by adding, "He was packing, you know. I could feel it in his pocket."

Not even Scully could hold it in at that one. She started to sputter and choke with giggles behind the fist she had jammed into her mouth.

Mulder walked to his chair, carrying himself with immense dignity in the midst of this cruel, inexplicable mockery. He sat down, chin held high, and swiveled around to present his back to them, arms crossed sulkily over his chest.

"I'm sorry, Mulder." Scully came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Why apologize? Obviously, grappling with armed assassins is a daily occurrence for the rest of you."

"No, of course not. I'm sure it was really serious. We're all a little overwrought, I think. It's been a big shake up for everyone."

He turned around to face his former partner, refusing to spare any attention for the others yet. "That's why we should make the switch right away. Confining it all to one day will minimize the disruption and psychological stress for us."

"Mulder..."

"You ask me to forget about my home and my work - can't you at least let me have some input in the alternatives?"

Scully felt guilty for all the pain this was causing her ex-partner. She had done what she thought best for everyone, including him. Not that that made it any easier to see him suffering. It was impossible. Change universes now? It had all been settled and agreed on. She stared down at the imploring young face of her best friend without knowing quite what to say.

"We are not going to make any switch," Skinner announced behind her. "The writers have already deposited us here. Meetings have been discontinued, and we do not even have a means of directly communicating with them."

"We could try."

"No, Mulder, and that is final. You are going to have to accept this."

"You can't unilaterally make a choice like that for everybody. This is a cast decision, not an Enterprise decision. If we're as equal as Scully has been claiming then there should be a vote."

Skinner heaved a mighty sigh. "Fine. Whoever wants to be part of Mulder's love 'em and leave 'em, fight 'em up wild west show put up your hand now." Mulder's hand was the only one raised. "OK, who would rather stay where we are?" A sea of hands.

"You biased the vote!"

"Take a look at these people. If you honestly think you can come up with a wording that might bring different results then be my guest."

Prepared to rise to the challenge, Mulder scanned the room. The faces of his fellow cast mates were so closed and forbidding that his hopes for success withered and died.

The taste of defeat bitter in his mouth, Mulder declared resentfully, "OK, I get the picture. I don't have a single friend on this whole ship."

"Message from Engineering," a sexless, disembodied voice announced.

"Mulder? Hey, does this rock or what?" The view screen lit up with the image of a thin, scraggly-haired blond and a small gnomish man. Both were dressed in black and green engineering uniforms. "The computer told us where you were and rerouted things a bit to bring ourselves up on the big screen," Langly boasted cheerfully without waiting for a response. "We could tell that techno-feebs were at the controls. Hey there, Scully. Byers! Hey, Byers, it worked! Get out here!"

"Hey, guys. You're engineers?" Mulder asked.

"We're *the* engineers, compadre," Frohike crowed. "Shared command of Engineering. Howdy, Red. The Enterprise - can you believe it? We've been waiting our whole lives for this."

"You're an ensign? Man, that kinda sucks," Langly observed. "You look a lot younger too. Nobody else does. I wonder why they'd...holy shit," he broke off. Langly and Frohike exchanged a look, wearing identical masks of horror stricken realization.

Byers joined the others at that moment. "Langly, what are you talking about? What's up with Mul..." He took in Mulder's youthful appearance, uniform and position on the bridge. "Oh my God." He mouthed "Wesley" soundlessly to his two companions who nodded numbly.

"Is there anything we can do for you, buddy?" Frohike asked with an awkward, tragic air.

"Maybe you want to get loaded with us tonight?" Langly offered grimly.

"We could get you a job down here. This doesn't have to be...you don't have to stay..." Stunned pity had Byers stumbling over the weak lifeline he was trying to throw to his poor, doomed friend.

Mortified, Mulder threw a furious, accusing glare at Scully and Skinner. Scully shifted her gaze uncomfortably, while Skinner just rolled his eyes in exasperation. The big man had had enough of this absurdity. He noted with disgust that Mulder somehow seemed to be turning this whole situation into a drama that revolved around himself.

The pup was going to have to be whipped into shape and made to understand that he did not have a special, pampered spot on the show anymore, Skinner reflected. The ridiculous behavior he was accustomed to getting away with could not continue. This sort of self-aggrandizing had no place here. True, an ensemble had to have a leader and front person, someone prepared to guide the others with a firm yet fair hand and provide a stable focus for the audience at home. It wasn't the kind of role that could be filled by a whiney, troublesome agent-turned-ensign, however. No, the prominence would have to be given to a person who would serve as a strong example of duty and responsibility. Of course, it only stood to reason that it should be someone at a position of top-level decision making which would afford sufficient opportunity for demonstrations of his stalwort bravery and impeccable moral fiber.

Pulling himself back to the matter at hand, Skinner remembered that the three weirdos on the screen blithely ignoring their commander were going to have to be taught their place as well.

"This interruption is over. This is my bridge. You will address communications you have with the bridge to me or whichever officer I have officially delegated command to. Communications will be strictly business related and there will be no further commandeering of our computer functions."

"Fascist," Langly sneered.

Frohike was livid with outrage. "Look you pompous wind bag, our friend there has just suffered a fate worse than death and I think you'd better - "

Byers threw a hand over Frohike's raging mouth. "Really, Mulder, it's fine. I'm sure no one will even notice - "

"- and how far do you think you'll be getting without us, huh? Nobody else has the faintest idea how to operate this crate!" Frohike had shoved Byers aside to continue his rant.

"Bet you're all wishing now that you hadn't made fun of us for reading those official fan Starfleet technical manuals," Langly added smugly. "What's *he* in charge for, anyway? You guys should've went with TOS like we told you."

"Exactly!" Mulder was pleased to hear someone talking sense. "That's what I was saying."

"Yeah, then we could've been Kirk!"

"All of you?" Mulder asked incredulously, a little put out that they hadn't noticed he was the natural candidate for the part.

"Byers and I would have flipped for it."

"Frohike didn't want it?" Mulder responded in surprise.

"He wouldn't accept the fact that the show wasn't going to be blended with Flesh Gordon, and refused to discuss any other options," Byers informed him.

"That's not true, I was willing to talk about a X-Files/TOS/Flesh mix. I'm always open to three ways involving plenty of space vixens," Frohike claimed in a sleazy tone, waggling his eyebrows at Scully.

Skinner cleared his throat loudly and angrily. "You may possess technical know-how, but I hold ultimate official authority on this vessel. As my officers it is your duty to use that knowledge as I see fit. Any further continuation of your mutinous actions and threats will have you up on court martial charges at Starfleet Command." The ex-marine part of Skinner's psyche was emerging and flexing its muscles, comfortable and pleased to be in a situation where military discipline and order applied.

"Right, like you know anything about Starfleet regulations," Langly retorted.

"You're lucky we stepped in. If we hadn't been localizing control functions to Engineering God knows what would be left of the ship. The instructions we could read coming from the bridge were a senseless, conflicting mess," Byers put in.

"That's an unlikely excuse. The cast members with me have researched their jobs and were looking very competent."

"Maybe they were looking it, but they sure as hell weren't. You. Yeah, that's right, you." Frohike stabbed a finger at a spindly, teenaged crewman who was watching the exchange from his post at one of the computer terminals along the back wall. Mulder recognized the earnest-faced kid as the one who had been abducted with his girlfriend on that case Jose Chung wrote the shitty book about. His mental files provided the name Harold Lamb. The young man was frozen like a frightened rabbit. "What have you been doing there, eh?"

"Um, working my station?" Harold suggested hopefully.

"Actually you have been requesting emergency defense power to be drawn from the reactor core which has nowhere to go because the shields aren't up. Aside from the risks associated with draining the core, the pressure of the stored up energy alone could've blown up the ship. Oh, and you've also been opening and closing the shuttle bay doors," Langly told him with a smirk.

"So what was the brilliant strategy behind those commands?" Frohike demanded.

"Er, I was pressing the yellow and orange buttons," Harold muttered, face aflame with embarrassment.

"Sound operational procedure. Where exactly in your research did you learn that?"

"I couldn't tell what they were doing back here when I watched the shows!" The young man cried out desperately in self-defense. "Hardly any screen time was spent on any of the computers operations. It's only a TV show anyway. I thought they were probably just pressing anything."

"Does that go for the rest of you too?" Skinner asked in dismay. The sinking feeling in his gut grew as the downcast eyes all around him convinced him that it did. "This used to be 'only a TV show', but now it's life for us, people. This is our story universe, our reality. *Of course* how the ship works matters. Just like our old universe, everything here is controlled by rational systems and science."

"That's very logocentric of you, sir," Mulder piped up indignantly. "As I think I demonstrated in our case reports over the years - "

"Shut up, Wesley!" Skinner snapped in irritation, earning an injured gasp from Mulder and a black reproachful look from Scully, protective as ever of the former agent. He pinched the bridge of his nose where a monster headache was forming. Noticing Dana's continued look of disapproval he grated out a sorry to her irritating ex-partner. Wasn't she supposed to be on *his* side? Why couldn't the woman show him a little support? "Mulder, I meant to say Mulder. So none of you actually know what to do? What about you, Mulder? You're a big Star Trek fan - do you know how to steer the ship?"

Still wounded and sulky, Mulder shook his head. "I just watched the show - no in depth technical research. I haven't touched anything, though. We should still be going wherever we were to start with, unless the Gunmen have changed it."

Skinner turned to the screen and demanded balefully, "Did you?"

"No. We can, though, so command, O Great Poobah. Where do you want to go?" Frohike asked with a slightly malicious glint in his eyes.

"Uhm...onward."

Mulder lifted an eyebrow, "Isn't that a little vague, sir?"

"We're looking for strange new worlds and to meet new lifeforms and civilizations. That doesn't require very precise directions does it, Ensign?"

Before Mulder could reply, Frohike cut in saying, "Right, but first you want to boldly go over to Axothea V where we're expected show up in a few hours. Otherwise you'll be explaining to the General why you disregarded the direct order in his message dated from a week ago to pick up the delegates for the Federation-Cardassian Tolerance and Trade Conference."

"You've been going through my correspondence?"

"Somebody had to. Do you want to know the rest of our orders?"

"Tell me," Skinner hissed between clenched teeth.

"After picking them up, we host their preliminary discussions on board, then drop them off at a larger interstellar conference in the Dracon system. You are to attend the discussions along with other select high-level officers - oh, and Mulder," Byers told him.

"Mulder?" Skinner growled suspiciously.

Langly responded, "Yeah, it's strange, but there's been a standing order issued by someone named Supreme Commander Karterr that Mulder attends all negotiations and official receptions ship's personnel are involved in and participates actively in all away team operations."

"Supreme Commander Carter," Skinner repeated, his headache becoming nearly blinding.

"Yeah, K-A-R-T-E-R-R," Langly supplied "Wild, huh? Since when has there been a Supreme Commander of the Federation? It checked out, though. Not an X-Files name. He must be one of the new characters they've made, same as this General Gylligan."

"So essentially Mulder has to be included in all of our public relations?" Suddenly Skinner was feeling less optimistic about the new arrangement.

"Essentially," Byers confirmed. He held up something that looked like an oversized calculator and read off, "...In order that he might reap the full benefits of his experience as befitting a very promising young man and in respect for the wishes of his esteemed father, the Colonel."

Unhappy stir and mutterings sprung up in the bridge.

"Terrific," X spat. "Look whose still their little prince."

"But how could they be...?" Scully started, before comprehension dawned. "Damn. They don't have to be here. They have no limits on the characters they can make - or who they can model them after."

"Proxies," Skinner stated grimly.

"People designed to have the same priorities as them," she nodded uneasily. //Like making sure there's no chance of things running smoothly for us on the ship. Wouldn't make for good viewing. Mulder and public relations,// she mused, almost smiling despite herself. //Poor Walter.// "Well, we're still better off than before. It's a more even match - these are just other fictives like ourselves we'll be dealing with. And so far it's nothing terrible."

"Speak for yourself. I'm the one stuck going to a bunch of stuffy meetings," Mulder moaned. "As if the rest of it wasn't bad enough."

"You guys didn't actually trust the writers did you? It was pretty obvious they weren't really going to let us off *that* easy," Frohike admonished them, shaking his head at their folly.

"We loaded up some files in your Ready Room about the Cardassian Empire and the issues of the conference," Byers told Skinner, preempting what looked likely to be a savage response from the Captain to Frohike's comments.

"Yeah, go read them," Langly advised. "You're supposed to talk at this thing, and I don't want someone clueless representing me. Cardassians are mean ass dudes - especially if you were naïve enough to trust the *writers*."

"Take us to the planet - and I'm putting marks of insubordination on your files."

"Oh yeah? Try to find them!" Frohike jeered.

"Guys, did you find anything in the computer about my sister?" Mulder interrupted.

"No, I'm sorry, man. We can tell you she's not a member of Starfleet or listed as a known resident of any Federation colony in the files."

"I knew it couldn't be that easy," the ensign remarked dourly.

"Mulder," Byers said. "Langly is setting in the destination, so the best thing would be for you to set the ship on automatic pilot. We'll light up the right keys on you computer display in sequence for you to hit, then you'll know them for next time."

Mulder watched the keyboard then followed the blinking lights to hit the correct buttons.

"Well, it's been real, but *we* have *work* to do," Frohike told them.

"See you, Mulder. You'll get through this, amigo," Langly bid him goodbye, holding up a bony fist of encouragement.

The screen returned to a view of the stars as the Gunmen signed off.

Mulder let out a moan and dropped his head against his console with an audible thunk.

"Well, I guess I'll be too busy sewing name tags on my underwear tonight to make that meeting."

"You're looking at this in the wrong way," Scully protested.

"What other way is there? I have just received the condolences of the *Gunmen* on my geekiness"

"Quit sulking, Mulder. I've had enough of this," Skinner stated firmly.

"You've had enough? What about me?!? I'm not staying like this. I don't see any Rikers. I'll be him." The idea had some appeal. Riker was pretty much the "Kirk" character of TNG.

"Look again, little boy." Tom Colton stepped out from among the others. He stroked a lazy finger along the triple badge of the First Commander displayed on his collar. "Welcome to the new order, Ensign Mulder," he taunted with a malignant leer and gloating smile.

"Son of a bitch. How can that pea-brained brown-noser be second in command?" Mulder demanded from Skinner. "I'd be much better for the part than him."

"Sure you would. You're so cooperative and dedicated to observing procedure and protocol." Skinner wasn't thrilled about Colton either, but his mind boggled and stomach lurched at the notion of Mulder as his Number One. He had a nightmarish vision of leaving the man in charge for a few hours only to return and find the ship was now galaxies away on the trail of fabled invisible, brain-sucking leprechauns.

"Give it up, Mulder, you're a screw up," Colton chimed in with a hateful glint in his eye. "And you better watch it, *boy*, or I'll have you scrubbing latrines with your tongue."

The ensign glared at Colton before turning back to his captain. "Let me show you. I'll behave! I promise."

"No, you wouldn't," Scully contradicted, her comment softened by a gentle, affectionate smile. "You're inherently disruptive, Mulder, it's your nature."

"I don't have to be," he argued desperately. "I'll try really hard to be boring."

"You can't deny who you are. You'd be miserable, and it wouldn't do any good anyway. Even when you're not actively cultivating it, disorder just springs up around you."

"What are you talking about?"

The little metal communicator on Mulder's chest let out a beep. Years of Star Trek viewing prompted him to tap it automatically.

"Mulder."

"Hey, man. If we start piping in some music over the on board speakers what would you want up there?"

Mulder grinned mischievously before catching the significant looks Skinner and Scully, both within range and listening, were giving him. Chastened and hoping to prove his point, he replied, "Let's not do that, OK guys? Not until there's permission issued."

Raucous laughter could be heard through the device. "Are you sure this is Mulder? That was a good one. I'm glad you're keeping up your sense of humor. Talking about jokes, can you believe that Scully has taken up with that uptight jerk? I bet they take turns swatting each other's bare asses with rulers."

Skinner's face was purpling and the veins on his forehead were standing out.

"Um, Langly? This isn't the best time."

"Sure. Talk to you later. Remember the offer for tonight is still open. Oh, and Frohike says to tell Scully to come down here when she's ready for a real man."

The communication ended, plunging the room into a moment of dangerous silence.

"Give me your communicator, Ensign," Skinner ground out in smoldering fury.

"But that wasn't my - "

"Give it me!"

The fierce bellow got Mulder up onto his feet. He meekly removed the device and handed it over.

"I suggest that you leave the bridge now. Dr. Scully will escort you."

"You're turning me out of the bridge?" Scully asked sharply.

"I'm asking you to take your *son* to his quarters so we can concentrate on the actual business of running the ship." The dark look in Dana's eyes did not bode well for their long awaited passionate evening together. He took a moment to get his temper fully under control. "Dr. Scully, wouldn't you like to inspect your sickbay offices and get settled in? You could drop him off on the way...if you wouldn't mind."

Scully gave a small, somewhat mollified smile. "Yes, Captain." Then she left the command center with her former partner in tow.

XXXXX

The ex-agents used Scully's communicator to gain directions to sickbay from the Gunmen. As they traveled down the corridor Mulder noticed a number of unfamiliar faces among the people passing by. Given his eidetic memory, he could be certain they were not X-Files characters. Even without that mental resource he would have marked them out from the rest, though, by the confidence with which they navigated about the ship and conducted their activities. It was only natural - they were where they belonged. He scowled and quickened his pace, forcing Scully to struggle to keep up.

"You couldn't tell me about this because I have authority issues, but you told the *Gunmen*. That makes a lot of sense."

"We didn't tell them. They just found out somehow. You should know what they're like by now. They must have used bugs or hacked the writers' computers or something. They don't come to meeting any more than you do."

"Good thing for the ship they landed themselves in Engineering. You guys claim to have thought this through? They should get some of these Star Trek people on the bridge. Then the ship might actually avoid bursting into an inferno when one of the Gunmen has to use the can. On second thought, let's not worry about that. It's looking like my only escape from this humiliation."

"I wish you'd give this a chance...Star Trek people? I thought I didn't recognize some of them."

"They were designed for this place, unlike us. They'd have the appropriate skills and knowledge. Just like we did back *home*. You can tell if you watch them."

Scully could see what he was talking about now that she was alerted to it. The unfamiliar characters moved about with an ease and purpose the others lacked.

"You're right. I should tell Walter - we can have the Star Trek people train the X-Files ones," Scully said with palpable relief. "We can hardly go on indefinitely with the ship's entire operation dependent on three men."

She tapped her communicator.

"Dr. Scully to Captain Skinner."

"Skinner."

"Sir, there are newly created characters amongst the crew who seem to be acquainted with the equipment and job duties. They have been made to fit their roles here. If we could set up a match program, the Star Trek crewmembers should be able to teach the X-Filers how to perform their responsibilities."

"Let me consult the crew roster."

There was a lengthy pause.

"You're right, a large number of new names have added themselves to the list. I'll take up your suggestion for the training program immediately. Thank-you, that was sharp thinking, Dr. Scully."

"Actually, it was Mulder's idea."

That information brought an incoherent grumbling in response.

"I hope it works. Scully out," she signed off.

"Uh-oh, I think Dad is pissed, Mom," Mulder tossed over sarcastically.

"You're always pushing him."

"It's not my fault if the man can't handle any diversity of opinion...oh no, does this mean I won't get to borrow the space cruiser tonight?"

"You're right. You don't provoke people at all."

"I've had plenty of provocation myself today."

"You're not the only one," she reminded him irritably. "Keep this up and I'm liable to take a ruler to your bare ass."

"You can save the cheap come ons. Leave me out of your sordid affairs, *Red*," Mulder responded with a disdainful sniff, using the nickname that he knew bugged her. "Speaking of which, why did you get them to change my eyes? Why *that* of all things? You know it's never been a big concern for me."

Looking up into his hazel gaze, Scully asked in confusion, "What do you mean? Your eyes are the same."

"No, they aren't." He reached out to tug lightly on a hank of her bright hair. "This looks different now. Not gray. And the Gunmens' uniforms were strange too. Something I've never seen before."

"You're seeing red and green now?"

"I guess so. Something's different."

"That never came up in our talks. Maybe the writers decided to do it on their own."

"Now I'm sure something is up. Why would they alter something so minor? Something that isn't even visible to the audience?"

"A show of good will, maybe?" Scully offered doubtfully.

"Yeah, right."

"Why don't you let me examine you in sickbay? We can at least establish what has happened to you."

"Will you know what you're doing?"

"Not yet."

Contacting the bridge again, she requested to have one of the Star Trek characters on the medical staff sent to meet them in her offices.

XXXXX

Medical Assistant Pendrell straightened his lab coat fretfully as he arranged himself in front of the equipment assembled on the counter. On finding the impressive looking gear in a cabinet he had laid it out in the hopes of presenting a scene of casual activity to his immediate supervisor when she arrived. He hurriedly wiped off his sweaty palms, concerned about how she might regard the slippery evidence of his nervousness if they were to shake hands, or clasp arms, or, dear God, hug in greeting.

He couldn't believe his good fortune. He was an active character again, back from what the writers referred to as "mandatory retirement". Not only that, but he had been placed in the ideal situation - the role of his dreams. He was laboratory assistant to Dr. Dana Scully. They would actually be working together in the same room. He envisioned them bouncing ideas off of each other, sharing private jokes, leaning close together over microscopes as their hands brushed when both reaching to adjust the slide...

Yes, life was perfect.

The writers had even agreed to grant him a first name. He had felt his deficiency keenly - how could Scully ever be on a truly personal, intimate basis with someone without a first name? He would let her use it too, not like that coldly superior, unappreciative Mulder. No, it would be Dana and ------, laughing warmly, enjoying the wonders of science.

He had been promised that as soon as someone inquired after his complete name it would be provided for him, springing into existence from the writers' creative arts. All he had to do now was wait for someone to ask for a full introduction. How long could that take? Just until someone took interest and tried to get to know him more closely. It would quite probably occur when Scully came through that door. They were essentially going to be partners here after all.

Pendrell shivered with excitement wondering what his new name would be. Something Irish, he thought. Clearly his red hair and light complexion left no other viable conclusion than Irish Catholic descent. The writers would have to acknowledge that. Patrick or Sean, maybe. Perhaps something a little exotic and daring like Liam or Seamus. Mr. Sean Pendrell and Miss Dana Scully cordially invite you to attend the joyous occasion of their nuptials, being performed in a Catholic service. Mr. And Mrs. Liam and Dana Pendrell are pleased to announce the event of the baptism of the fourth child born to their enormous, deliriously happy, uni-denominational, papally approved family.

All this was a possibility too, now that a certain barrier was out of the way. Mulder would no longer be around monopolizing Scully's time and attention anymore. He had often thought longingly that if only he could show Scully who he was and what he could offer then he might stand a chance with her. But always those momentous occasions when she came to his lab were blighted by her partner. Even when he wasn't there in person to make Pendrell self-conscious and clumsy with his amused, conceited glances and comments, his specter hung over everything. Scully was forever distracted and in a rush to meet Mulder's needs or cope with some dangerous situation he had landed her in.

Pendrell had learned of the age regression and bottom rung starting position intended for Mulder. The shoe would be on the other foot now, he reflected triumphantly. Pendrell was now the person of significance, the mature man with the important job and place in Scully's life. Meanwhile Mulder would learn how it feels to be on the outside, exploited in thankless work and disregarded as a green, inept kid. A humbled baby Mulder wouldn't be able to waltz about glibly tossing arrogant dismissals, looking down his long nose at others and carelessly disrupting the course of true love.

The writers had proved themselves to be just and generous beings after all.

Any moment now his Irish goddess would glide through those doors. Their eyes would meet across the room and she would say...

"Mulder, I had you in mind when I made this decision." The ex-partners swept through the parting doors fiercely embroiled in conversation.

"Really? Because I got the distinct feeling it was Skinner you had in mind," Mulder accused, leaning against the counter with his arms crossed over his chest.

"It's not like that," Scully came up and laid a dainty hand on his arm. "I won't deny that I'm interested in Walter and wanted an opportunity to be with him, but that does nothing to change the bond we've shared all these years. Nothing could."

A tiny squeak like the noise of a distressed mouse came from somewhere in the lab. It wasn't enough to break the intense interaction between the former partners.

"That's not what it looks like from here. Was it really so bad going on investigations with me?" Mulder looked like a miserable little boy, pulling more than ever at Scully's mothering instincts. His large eyes were shadowed with pain and rejection.

"No, of course no," she reassured him. "It was the rest of it that was the problem. I just couldn't see either one of us finding satisfaction in our quest or personal happiness under that system."

"Well, thanks a lot. I sure am happy now," he replied, fire creeping into his tone. "You deliberately excluded me from having any say in this, and look what happened to me!"

Scully cast an eye over her new foster son. He was a beautiful young man. Shining chestnut hair, deep hazel eyes, pouting lips and long legs. His clear skin was unlined and his fit body was tighter and more supple as revealed by his close fitting uniform. He had always been attractive, but now he had the radiance of youth as well. It suited him, matching boyish and vulnerable qualities that were always lying just beneath his surface. She found herself thinking of the small wrinkles and sags becoming evident on her own body.

"How terrible for you," she observed a trifle dryly. "Maybe you're not impressed with the results, but you probably had stronger representation than anyone else on the show. I scrutinized any and every matter I thought might have bearing on you. There was also strong reason to believe that...another party...was making your interests central to their negotiations."

"My parents were worried about me? Maybe that's why they're so far away from me - they had to work some sort of trade in the negotiations."

Scully was pained by the note of desperate hope in his voice. //Those heartless bastards// she thought angrily, mentally condemning both the indifferent, selfish pair and the writers who had consigned her sensitive friend to them in the first place. She wouldn't lie, but it wasn't in her to disappoint him on this either. He wanted to believe in their love so badly.

"How about we get you set up for the tests a bit. The assistant should be getting here any moment."

"Scully, I mean Dr. Scully, I'm already here." They turned in some surprise to see Pendrell standing just behind them, looking a bit pale and wan.

"Oh, hello Pendrell. I didn't see you there."

"Hello, Dr. Scully."

He continued to look at her with a certain air of expectancy.

After a few moments of this, Scully ventured, "It's good to see you again. I see we'll be working together."

"It's really good to see you too. Yes, we will be. I'm excited by the opportunity."

A lazy drawl commented, "I wouldn't let yourself become to excited around Scully these days. She's got a new ruler she's itching to try out on somebody." The remark earned Mulder a dainty Scully elbow in his side.

Pendrell was flushing a bright red when the doors swished open behind them. "Dr. Scully, it's an honor to meet you," enthused the plump, fifty-ish woman with salt and pepper hair who scuttled forward to shake her hand. "I'm Med. Assistant Aubrey Chambers. I couldn't believe it when I heard you were joining us amid the new replacement crew."

"Got things set up pretty nicely for yourself, don't you?" Mulder muttered accusingly to his former partner.

Scully shot him a quelling look. "It's lovely to meet you, Assistant Chambers. I need your help in examining this crewman's eyes. I'm a little unfamiliar with the technology you use on this ship."

"Call me Aubrey. Captain Skinner was explaining to us how your last ship was terribly outdated." Her eyes lit with recognition when she looked at the youthful Mulder. "Oh, you must be the foster son we've heard such exciting reports about. Imagine, already an ensign on a Federation flagship at your age. I hear you're stationed on the bridge too. Everybody expects great things of you, young Fox."

"Please, call me Mulder."

"Isn't that a little formal, dear?" Aubrey asked the sweet-faced boy, restraining an amused smile.

"It's a guy thing. Ask Pendrell here."

She laughed. "If that's the way you two want it then, darling. Nice to meet you, Assistant Pendrell. I'm sure you will have an opportunity to become acquainted with the rest of our sickbay team soon."

"Team?" Pendrell asked faintly.

"Yes, of course. We could hardly operate a busy 24 hour clinic and research lab between just the three of us! There are eight other assistants. Dr. Scully, I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that there's a private office and examination room through that door there, so you know we won't be under your feet all the time. My goodness, who left the automatic enema apparatus on the counter here?" She followed Mulder and Scully's gazes over to Pendrell. "Are you feeling all right? You look a bit green. Are you having a little problem, dear?"

Pendrell fled into the samples room, releasing a choked cry.

"You'll find a washroom to your left, Assistant Pendrell!" Aubrey called to the vanished man. "Probably his system is just a bit upset from the journey here," she suggested to the others. "Now, *Mulder*, how about you sit on the stool here while I get the equipment out. What exactly did you want to look for, Dr. Scully?"

Between them, Scully and Aubrey determined that Mulder's color disorder had definitely been corrected. His eyes showed signs of having undergone a procedure to induce some of his cones into acting like the ones he was deficient in. Aubrey took this as a matter of course. According to her, it was standard practice to perform such a procedure at birth on people with color disorders. When they were finished Scully brought Mulder into her private office for a moment alone.

"That procedure was never mentioned on TNG."

"Maybe not specifically, but the technology was so advanced that it's easy to think they would have arrived at something like this for color blindness."

"Yeah, it fits, but the point is that it didn't exist. Our writers would have had to make it up. Plus they visited it on me themselves instead of letting me find out about it and make the decision for myself. Avoiding the possibility I might opt out. Something's fishy. Why the hell would anyone else care whether I can see red and green?"

"There doesn't appear to be any way to know. Right now it seems like a blessing."

"Everything's coming up roses. Well, no need to worry about me. I'm sure you want to get on with making your new life," he said with bitterness.

"Look, Mulder, I want you to know that I'm still here for you regardless of whatever happens in my relationship with Walter. I don't want you to feel alone. There's no reason why any of us have to be lonely anymore." Scully gave him a strange look and continued hesitantly, "I know you're uncomfortable and upset about all this right now, but I hope you'll try to stay open to...certain future opportunities...that might present themselves here. Try to understand that there were some whose actions were very closely bound before by threats to their well-being...and that of loved ones. Remember that this is everyone's chance for a new life."

"Scully, I have no idea what you are getting at," Mulder told her impatiently. "If you're thinking that I'm going to be tossing back brews with conspiracist garbage, though, you are sadly mistaken."

"Oh...it's nothing, nevermind." She shook off her seriousness and patted his hand. "I should get to work sorting out my office and you better get ready for the talks tonight."

The ensign moaned dejectedly. "Thanks for reminding me. Bye, Scully...oh, um, this whole foster family thing - we aren't rooming together are we?" Mulder asked, a little agitated by the notion. "I need my own space for...personal reflection."

"Don't worry, Mulder. I insisted on being assigned to separate suites. Knowing you as I do, I didn't want to risk having the fruits of your reflections stain my couch," Scully smirked.

"Save your dirty imagination for Mr. Clean up there," he returned in feigned offence, lips drawing into a reluctant smile. "See you later."

Her eyes followed his lovely, pert young ass as it retreated into the hall. A sigh of envy escaped from her mouth. //What was I thinking during those negotiations?//.

XXXXX

"Higher emotions from a consortium member," Mulder snorted to himself out in the corridor. "I'll believe that when I see it."

He stopped a "native" Star Trekker walking by to get help finding his quarters. She used a nearby computer terminal to check for them. Deck 4, unit number 222. Hardy har har. Then he got her to bring up a plan of the ship for him. The indelible imprint his eidetic memory took of the map allowed him to negotiate the ship with relative confidence.

When he finally arrived at the place he had to ask for help again to find the open and close buttons on the control panel beside the door. Entrance portals on private rooms didn't have the automatic sensory devices for admittance that the public ones did.

Thanking the officer for his assistance, Mulder hit the close button on the inside panel and turned around to bleakly survey his new apartment.

"How homey," he muttered, examining the Spartan, supra-ultra modern décor. Everything had a spare, standardized look to it that he hated. No personality. The colors were relentlessly, offensively neutral. The furniture was all made of something that resembled arborite. Not a decent bit of clutter in sight, either.

The entrance brought you right into the living room. Off to his right was a dining area with what appeared to be a food replicator. He experimented with it a bit, but his stomach wouldn't even consider the chore of digestion under the circumstances. To the left was a bedchamber. Inside was a fair sized bed with no headboard covered by a precisely tucked beige coverlet. It was set between two broad beige bedside tables. Again the arbarite stuff. Investigating the closet, dresser and wardrobe he was dismayed to encounter nothing but a number of neatly stored outfits identical to the ugly common issue uniform he had on already. Where was the Armani retailer on this ship?

He drifted back to the living room and poked around at the computer built into the off-beige desk there. Getting up and rechecking the rooms he confirmed with growing depression the total absence of vital necessities of life like a TV set and internet access. Phone sex was out too, he recalled. Why had he ever thought of this as a positive vision of the future?

He listlessly plodded back to the desk to try the computer again. The controls were pretty incomprehensible, but he found that it responded to some oral commands. He managed to locate in its files a children's program for introduction to color. Insatiable curiosity stirred, Mulder was temporarily distracted from his dismal situation. He explored various shades of red and green, marveling that so much could have been right in front of his eyes all this while but lost to his perceptions. Cool, bright, hot, mellow - different shades inspiring different feelings. Beautiful really. Green Gorn. Red photon torpedo. Green Klingon Bird of Prey. Red planetary ring. Each picture was accompanied by the name of the color in big letters.

Eventually the novelty wore off. Mulder retreated to the low, stiff-cushioned tan couch to once again sink into misery, trying to figure out how the hell his life had been so completely turned upside down and what this would ultimately mean. He continued to lie there, mind whirling in circles, until fetched to join the group that would meet with the enemy.


End of Episode 1

Stay tuned - Episode 2 is coming faster than a speeding locomotive.

 


 

Title: X-Trek - Episode 2: First Contact
Author: Goblin McGee
E-mail: goblinmc@hotmail.com
Disclaimer: The X-Files characters belong to CC and Fox. STNG belongs to Paramount. I'm broke and this isn't making me any richer.
Pairing: M/K
Rating: NC-17
Category: AU
Summary: A member of the opposition manages to get the jump on Mulder.
Archive: Ditb, Slashing Mulder, Ratb, others too probably if you ask
Feedback: Hand over the goods or this kitten gets it! Take my word for it, he is fluffy, adorable and in terrible peril!
Warning: Hopelessly devoted Wil Wheaton fans are going to have to run for cover again.
Author's Note: In my version of events the X-Files bunch got the hell out of Dodge before Requiem, so you can forget about Mulder's abduction, Doggett and the rest of it - never happened here. All my suppositions concerning the writers are based on pre-Requiem material too. Also, I have confined myself entirely to STNG as a source for Star Trek setting details, the information gaps (the most significant ones being in the areas of Cardassian habits and physiology) filled by my own fevered imagination. Any newer information given in DS9 and Voyager does not apply here.
Extra Comment: A big thanks to everyone who offered me encouragement and some embarrassed squirming for all those hasty words about how fast this one would be sent out.


EPISODE 2: FIRST CONTACT

Mulder entered the conference room after the Federation ambassadors and the bridge officers superior to him in rank, which essentially meant following behind everyone but the guy who fixed the beverage holders. He was sullen and dazed from the revelations of the last few hours, the sudden shift in his reality and position. The ensign took his place standing behind Skinner and the other top-level ship's officers, those who would actually be active in the negotiations, currently seating themselves along side the Federation ambassadors at the table. The lead Cardassian representatives sat across from them.

Mulder's eyes focused unseeingly on the wall behind the opposing delegation as he turned over recent events in his mind, lower lip pushing out unconsciously into a world class pout. His quest had been ripped away from him so comprehensively that it left him stunned. Changing the story now did not erase the crimes against humanity committed in the past by the writers and their despicable flunkies, but how could he expose the horror of those conspiracies as things were? What about his sister? Even if she was still out there somewhere as Scully promised, he was farther from knowing how to find her than he had ever been. He couldn't be sure of anything. His parents were alive again. Death itself had been reversed by the powers that be. Had Sam been abducted in this reality? The writers had hid her again, and none of the background information he remembered even applied now, nevermind the evidence he had gathered during his years in the FBI. All those years of work and sacrifice had come to nothing.

He still nursed some hurt feelings. How could Scully have kept this from him? How could she support the changes? At the same time his conscience was reminding him of the hardships the others had suffered in connection to him and his quest. He had seen the bitterness they had towards him. Could he in all fairness expect them to want to return to what had been? Maybe it was better that he endure this pain himself rather than risk any further suffering on their part - the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few, or the *one*. Hey, when in Rome...

Well, they couldn't have exacted much finer revenge than transforming him into Wesley Crusher, that was for sure. He pulled himself away from that depressing train of thought with a sigh.

Turning his attention to the activity of the meeting, Mulder noted with distaste that the two parties were going through a bunch of political bullshit that he would have held in contempt even if he was actually knowledgeable about the issues involved. Not that any issues were really being discussed at the table. It was the usual brand of making nicey-nicey while trying to demonstrate that mine is bigger than yours. //Some things are the same wherever you go.//

The ensign was studying the effect of the light bouncing off Skinner's bald head and pouting again in disgust and temporary resignation when he became aware of a gradual sense of unease building in his mind. The prickling on the back of his neck alerted him to some danger close at hand.

Scanning the adversarial group before him, he quickly took in the pale reptilian flesh encased in ominous uniforms constructed from some type of thick, dark cloth and silvery metal plates of neo-gothic design. While admittedly unsettling, familiarity produced over years of Star Trek viewing lessened the impact of their appearance. A half circle of formidable looking guards surrounded the seated Cardassian delegates. From them he gathered a speedy impression of a professional show of threat masking a deeper boredom. The delegates themselves had the bloated, constipated look common to most old generals and figures of state. Calculation and general animosity lurked just beneath the cover of their carefully composed faces as each sought advantage over the others and the Federation. Nothing there to cause such a sensation of personal jeopardy. Still the feeling persisted and his gaze roved on, only to be brought to a screeching halt when it encountered two green flaming eyes staring right at him with an intensity exclusive to predators readying for the kill. //Oh fuck.//

The steady, burning stare was enough to make his breath come faster. The sight of the massive, muscular body that accompanied it shot ice down his spine. Though only an inch or two taller than Mulder, the Cardassian was much broader across the chest and thicker of limb. The bulges rippling under tight black and silver body armor and exposed alabaster skin betrayed a frightening strength. Something about those gleaming eyes under the black hair smoothed tight to the skull in standard Cardassian style reached up to tug like an anxious child at Mulder's frozen brain.

His watcher was positioned at the shoulder of a saggy jowled delegate who appeared to be one of the major players at the meeting. Presumably he was acting as some kind of personal bodyguard...or quick access assassin.

The delegate chose that moment to motion his attendant forward with an upraised hand. The big guard took a half step forward and knelt to listen, sinuous grace evident in every movement. All the while he kept his head up and his eyes trained on his quarry. A tremor ran through Mulder at the display of deadly menace and sheer animal magnetism he had only seen equaled by -no one, he told himself sternly.

The two figures presented quite a contrast. The sparkling white skin that blended into occasional trails of glistening scales on the firm-fleshed guard shone brighter next to the yellowing, desiccated-looking hide of the flabby delegate. A sleek, newly shed snake coiled beside an old malevolent lizard.

The older Cardassian produced a brown tubular object which he proceeded to light and inhale from deeply. Mulder felt an unpleasant shock. //Cancerman!// Well, Scully had told him everyone would be coming to the party. A suspicion that Mulder didn't want to face directed him back to that fiery green gaze, unwavering as its owner turned his head slightly to answer the Smoker in a low, gravelly murmur. Disgust at the smoke prompted a small wrinkle to appear above the up-tilt at the end of his nose, now apparent in semi-profile. The dangerous creature then rose and slipped smoothly back into position.

*Krycek*

A chill of unwelcome recognition spread through Mulder. One of his worst enemies, the man who had personally delivered his most painful losses and griefs since the abduction of Samantha, was tracking his every move in a body that might as well have been an armored tank.

//This is stupid,// Fox told himself. //I'm a fucking FBI agent!// But he wasn't. Not anymore. He was standing there before a Kryzilla monster with no badge and no gun in the person of a puny pencil-neck geek - *Wesley* for christsakes! //That bastard must be reveling in it.//

There was no help in sight. The other Federation officers in the room clearly hated him, and his former partner turned foster mother was far away at her post in sickbay, probably writing Ms. Dana Skinner 500 times on her note pad using hearts to dot the "i"s. It looked as though his long-standing battle with the hired gun would soon be ended by Krycek snapping him like a twig over one of those powerful thighs and eating him whole. //Maybe he'll choke to death on me,// Mulder hoped grimly.

The meeting went on and on. Pride demanded that Mulder try to hide his insecurity and fear. Drawing himself up into an arrogant pose, he sent back a challenging glare and saw Krycek's nostrils flare sharply like a bull's in response. The old Smoker observed the heated silent exchange with a detached amusement.

As the formal discussions wound to a close, Captain Skinner thanked the Cardassian representatives in brusk tones for their participation and wished them a comfortable stay on board.

"I am pleased at your concern for our comfort, Captain," interjected the Smoker. "With that in mind, I have a need. My men and I are unfamiliar with the layout and operation of your vessel. I will require a page from among your crew for the running of my on board messages and errands. That boy there will do," he announced, pointing a clawed finger squarely at Mulder, a small smirk playing on his lips. "Have him sent directly to my private rooms after the welcoming activities have concluded."

The smirk widened a little at the sight of the youthful ensign's outrage and the sensation of a murderous glare boring through the back of his head.

"When he's not occupied preserving my comfort, perhaps I'll allow my men the use of him."

The deep belly growl behind him sounded sweetly in his withered ears.

"That seems to me a very reasonable suggestion," Federation Ambassador Kersh commented with no small satisfaction.

"I will give your request due consideration, Ambassador Spender, but the assigning of duties to the crew men under my command is my responsibility alone. If an aid proves necessary, a *suitable* choice will be selected from the available officers," Skinner replied with a glower.

Commander Colton stood to invite all present to the reception with refreshments now commencing in Ten Forward, the ship's recreation lounge, suppressing a smirk of his own at Mulder's recent predicament.

Relieved to have escaped the Smoker's clutches and at the interruption to the stand off with Krycek, Mulder fled swiftly in the bustle and commotion of people relocating to the other room. He headed straight for the sanctuary of his quarters, hoping that his exit had gone unnoticed.

Slapping the panel to activate the door, he flew inside as though a few tons of scaly assassin were on his heels. He wheeled around, throwing himself against the inner control panel. The door shut safely behind him. The ensign studied the unmarked colored buttons on the controls anxiously, searching in vain for any indication of how to activate the locking mechanism. In desperation he began jabbing random ones. It was impossible to tell if it was working or not from the uniform beeps emerging.

//Fuck this shit! What I need is someone conversant in STNG technology - the Gunmen!// If they could supply him with a phaser and instructions on its operation he would have a fighting chance.

Mulder decided to try the door. If it opened he would attempt to reach the Gunmen; if it was indeed locked then he would stick it out in the apartment for now. A quick check of the rooms for some weapon to take with him turned up nothing - everything portable was much too light to be of any use. //God damned futuristic alloys.// He couldn't afford to spend any more time on it. He had to be out of there before the reception ended. Squaring his shoulders, the boy headed for the door.

XXXXX

Krycek had saw the slim form slipping away and set off in pursuit, tossing some feeble excuse at the Smoker that earned an annoyingly knowing smile from the old man. First tracking the ensign's dash for his quarters, Alex raced back to his own to snatch the object he had left prepared before returning to confront Fox Mulder. His breath was coming in ragged pants and the blood pounded like a base drum in his ears.

Vivid images of his quarry flashed through his mind as he ran: sleepy Mulders, wistful Mulders, endearingly muddied Mulders, smug Mulders, up for the past 48 hours wired on coffee stubbled Mulders, suspicious Mulders, sad puppy-eyed Mulders, righteously indignant Mulders, merry monster hunting Mulders, edgy paranoid Mulders, snide Mulders, angry hissing and spitting Mulders, and, of course, the rare and coveted happy laughing Mulder. Mulders frolicked the fields in gray boxers and red Speedos. They were joined in their cavorting by sneaky bastard Mulders in tight black denim and leather. Mulders of pleasure, Mulders of pain.

He halted at his destination, vibrating with barely contained energy as he stood outside the door. Alex hesitated nervously for a moment, trying to prepare himself for what lay on the other side: the moment of truth, the struggle of his life, the object of his lust, the song of his soul...

*Fox*

It was an angry, cornered Mulder that suddenly appeared like an angel of wrath before his hopeful, horny suitor. Alex's breath caught in his throat. He drew a blank. His hand thrust itself out, desperately clutching his offering.

The now angry, puzzled Mulder shot a confused glance from Krycek to the bottle of chocolate sauce with the large green bow and back to Krycek again.

It was the quick flit of expressive hazel eyes to the inside control panel that brought Alex out of his temporary paralysis and galvanized him into action. He stepped inside, reaching an arm back blindly to close the portal behind him, then stood there blocking the only exit.

"Baskin Robbins is next door, Krycek."

Alex's desire burned hotter at the proud, defiant stance and familiar dry tone, strange though it was coming from the youthful face.

"Everything is all right now," was what popped out of his mouth.

"That's a matter of perspective, I guess."

"It's all changed. We made them change. We're free."

"We - you mean the Consortium? So they're at the root of this. Conspiring with the writers. It was because I was getting too close to the truth, wasn't it?" Mulder's resentful fear had by now given way to a more comfortable ire.

"Fuck the Consortium. Fuck the writers. It's just us now," Alex announced. He fell into a perusal of the lithe body and flushed cheeks. "God, you look so young here, baby," he added in a strangled rasp.

"What was your part in this? You did it, didn't you? You had me turned into *him*!" It was Krycek. *Of course* it was Krycek. It was always him, coming out of the woodwork to spread insidious infection to everything good and pure like Fu Manchu in one of those ridiculous old films. Krycek who, unlike Scully and Skinner, you could feel justified in pummeling until you reached catharsis for your frustration, anger and lust. //Lust? Where did that come from? Anger, I meant anger and more anger.//

Mulder's hands curled into fists. He began storming towards the huge Cardassian assassin, fury sweeping aside self-preservation instincts and any trace of commonsense. Alex lowered his arms to his sides, making no more move to fight than he ever did when Fox came after him with blood in his eyes. He didn't intend to risk even defensive moves for fear of somehow hurting his Fox. The extra strength and capabilities of his Cardassian body were still new to him, so miscalculation was a possibility.

"We can't fight, baby - this is the STNG story universe. Crew members can't just start punching other characters unless no other options are around."

The ensign paused.

"Well, you don't want to give any other option, right?" Mulder asked hopefully.

"Actually that's exactly why I'm here," Krycek replied, moving a little closer to the other man as he set down the chocolate sauce.

"I didn't follow rules in our old X-Files universe, what makes you think I'll start doing it now?" The young ensign blazed with challenge, his eyes flashing and fists tightening. "And since when did you follow them either for that matter?"

"Since the consequences became tremendous. Don't do it, Fox. Violating the rules of a story's universe is some serious fucking shit. Let's be clear on this. What you used to do is break the rules of the FBI and other organizations which existed within the story parameters of the X-Files, not oppose the fundamental laws of that universe itself, such as 'when the going gets tough Fox Mulder does not call for backup.' The violation of those kind of laws would bring on the unraveling of the fabric of that universe as it turns in on itself, swallows itself, until nothing is left but chaos on every level of being. The complete negation of past, present and future coming in a spectacular end of existence," dire seriousness was replaced by transparent desire as Krycek advanced further towards him, licking his lips with a crocodilian tongue. "Speaking of coming in a spectacular end...that brings me to my proposal for an alternative course of action."

Mulder fell back step by step from the heat in those bright green eyes, experiencing a peculiar fluttering in his stomach.

"I guess the good old days are over, huh?"

"They've just begun."

This was too much. Was there nothing he could rely on? Krycek putting the moves on him was the final upset in a profoundly unsettling day. A cloud of bleak depression descended on Mulder. He wanted nothing more at the moment than a chance to sulk in seclusion, to wrap himself up in the loneliness he was so accustomed to.

His retreat was stopped short when his back hit the wall. He breathed a weary sigh. "I can't deal with this right now. If you don't want to fight you're going to have to leave," he declared with an imperious gesture to the door.

"It doesn't have to be that way between us anymore."

"Was I the only one who was happy with how things were?" Mulder asked plaintively.

"Were you really happy like that, Fox? Fighting an endless battle with no one who actually believed in you. Sitting by yourself in a dark, cramped apartment. Everything always just out of reach. Maybe you were just too caught up in it to imagine things any different."

"I knew who I was. I had my mission."

"You knew the life they gave you same as the rest of us. Everyone under the thumbs of the writers. Sure, nobody was handing *you* sheets of instructions and schedules. You had more obvious freedom than pretty much anyone else, but what does colonization even matter if everyone around you is already acting under outside control?" Alex slowly maintained his approach towards the ensign. "And how free were you really? They knew the easiest way to manage you would be to stand back and pull the strings on the emotions and old traumas they had given you, relying on that to take you in the direction they wanted. They knew that they had you too focused on following their trail of extreme possibilities to step away and glimpse the full range of what could be." He reached out and gently took Mulder's hand in his.

"I was doing what's right. Unlike you. What's your excuse, Krycek? Just following orders?" The ensign sneered.

"They threatened everything that's important to me." His hand tightened around the boy's. Mulder struggled to keep himself from drowning in vivid green pools brimming with painful sincerity. "But that's all finished."

"So you'll do good provided there's no personal cost? What a hero!" Mulder pulled his hand away roughly.

"I've paid plenty of costs, only there are some sacrifices I'm not prepared to make."

"When you're aware of the kind of injustices that were occurring in our old world you have to fight them. You have to put everything you have into that. I don't see how anything else can be justified."

"I know you don't. That's part of your amazing Mulderness. But sometimes it's more complex - "

"You follow your conscience. While it may not be easy, I don't see anything complex about it."

"That's how it's been for you, but what would you have done if you had been told with absolute certainty before the fact that something terrible would happen Scully if you went ahead with what you wanted? Sometimes plans haven't turned out right and you've felt guilty afterwards. Could you have run in there with your white hat on if you had already known from the start it would mean her being hurt really bad? Especially when what you want to do most of all is tell her how much she matters to you, matters more than anything in the entire fucked-up world. And the writers keep saying they'll give her a severe disabling injury that would land her in a wheelchair on permanent desk duty and bring in a bunch of kids to do the field work like on 21 Jump Street when you know that going out investigating and finding paranormal stuff is everything to her and how much she likes running - "

"Krycek! Hold on a minute," Mulder interrupted the ordinarily taciturn man's bewildering torrent of words in concerned confusion. Krycek's eyes had become dark with distress. For a few moments it looked like the big assassin might actually start to cry. As crazy as it might be, Mulder believed he was telling the truth. "Maybe we should sit down. Do you want a glass of water?" A head shake and some heavy swallows. //Boy, how did I miss this? Scully's really important to Alex. You'd think he'd know her a little better, though.//

The ensign guided the other man over to the hated tan couch and sat down next to him.

"Jesus. 21 Jump Street? OK, I can see how that would be tough. Protecting Scully is something I understand. I love her too."

"You what?" Krycek's head whipped up to fix him with a sharp gaze.

"Love Scully. She's my best friend and an incredible woman, so I have an idea of where you're coming from. I'd do almost anything for her myself. Look, you obviously have some strong feelings, but I have to tell you that I don't think you and Scully would work out as a couple."

Mulder was a man who listened to his instincts, and when he pictured Krycek with Scully his immediate response was negative. In fact, the image of the two of them in bed together made him feel like punching someone for some reason. Since that would be one hell of a bad idea, he pushed the image out of his mind as quickly as possible.

If were to be totally objective he supposed he'd have to admit that the ex-spy was attractive in a way. That's only if you went for the bad boy sort with hard bodies, whisky voices and wild rebel eyes, though. He was pretty sure that wasn't Scully's type.

"Fox, you don't understand - "

"Yeah, I do. It makes sense now. You've probably heard that she's become attached to Skinner. Clearly you came here with some sort of scheme to win her over by making her jealous."

"I'm not - "

"It's all right, I'm not mad about it." He did his best to sling a sympathetic arm around the Cardassian's broad shoulders. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but why don't you come with me to see the Gunmen tonight? Misery loves company. We'll get hammered and turn ourselves into a couple of pathetic drunks."

"You're miserable?" The boy's cheek was cupped in a large, peculiarly ridged palm. Mulder wasn't an expert on male bonding, but the gesture didn't seem an appropriate one to use on your drinking buddy. Probably a Russian thing.

"Well, I wouldn't mind forgetting for a while that I'm We - , er, having some troubles of my own." There was no point in advertising his condition if Krycek wasn't aware of it yet. "Maybe we'll discuss that when I've had a few drinks. To get back to your problem, I think maybe you should just try hanging out with her a bit. She makes a great friend, and she's taking this real 'let bygones be bygones' view of the past. Just don't build your hopes up about the rest of it. You might be surprised when you do spend more time with her because those interests you mentioned aren't really Scully's bag at all, usually I have to drag her out to do those kind of things."

"Yeah, I know. She wasn't the one I was protecting."

"But then who..." Krycek moved his thumb in a soft caress over the ensign's pillowy bottom lip. Those wild rebel eyes were wide and yearning. Comprehension dawned. "Oh...it was...was it...because of me? Scully's abduction, my father's death, your arm, Skinner's illness, the others...all because of me?" The room started to spin and Mulder felt like he might throw up.

"No. *For* you. *Because* of the writers." Alex reached up to stroke his silken hair. "It's not your fault."

Mulder pulled away abruptly, stumbling away from the couch. "How could you do that? All of that suffering because of one person. You must have known I wouldn't have wanted that!"

Getting to his feet, the Cardassian growled, "How come it was OK when it was about Scully then?"

"I just said it was *understandable*."

"But not when it's you?"

"Stop trying to change the subject!"

"It changed naturally. You need to look out more for your safety."

"Hey, I have enough parents already - no thanks to you! You had no right to take that on yourself without even consulting my wishes."

"It was my decision to make. They're all fine now anyway. It's time to move on."

"Move on?! I don't think that's what all those people would say!"

"It's exactly what they're saying, Fox. That's what they're doing here - 'bygones' remember?

"Yeah, I've heard the speeches," he waved his hand in reluctant acknowledgement. "Let me ask you something. You've all been talking as if you've conquered the dragon and saved the village. This was no victory, though. The writers handed this to you. I think they had more on their minds than an early Christmas present. You really think it can be so perfect?"

"It's more than we ever expected," Alex replied, walking up to gaze deeply into bottomless hazel eyes. "Life for the dead. Liberty. Yeah, they can throw anything they want at us, but that's not much different from what people not existing in fictional universes encounter in everyday life. Only our forces of fate are a bit more diabolical. We'll just have to try to keep an eye out so they don't play us. And you're right, I'm sure they do have ulterior motives they didn't go into with us, but I got the feeling it may just be them wanting shorter work days so they'll have more spare time to eat cornflakes and jack off. We can do it together - I don't mean the cornflakes thing, well, we could do that too, but that's not the crucial point right now - "

"If we're supposed to be together in this shouldn't you have dropped me a hint about the whole 'we're going to be magically sent into an alternate universe' thing? That way I could have had some actual involvement."

"The shit would have hit the fan if anyone found out I let you in on it. And our conversations have never exactly been quiet and low-key. This was our big chance, and didn't want to blow it by jumping the gun. Scully and I watched over your interests like we always do, though."

"She meant you...," he murmured. Something Alex couldn't quite identify flickered through Fox's eyes before being shuttered away. Gesturing to himself, Mulder asked, "Did you do this to me?"

"They promised you would have the same body you had before. 'Before'...huh - tricky, double-talking motherfuckers. Anyway, the age thing was a big surprise." He touched his fingers to Mulder's cheek. The smooth skin had a new youthful freshness that was fascinating, although he mourned the disappearance of the little character lines from the handsome face.

"That's not what I'm getting at," Mulder replied, twitching his head away angrily. "Who turned me into Wesley?"

"That was inevitable, baby. Like they said, you serve the same function to the story."

"His function is being irritating!"

"Oh come on, Fox, you love irritating people! Ditching partners, defying orders, throwing your theories in people's faces - you thought that was the path to popularity? But more than that, you're both these really smart, unappreciated guys who get ignored when they're right."

"I'm so glad to hear that some traditions will continue after all." His eyes trailed coldly over Alex. "I notice you managed to snag a cool part for yourself."

"This was kind of a surprise too." Alex looked down at himself then back up with a touch of nervousness showing. "You like it? Talking with a writer is like dealing with the devil. They said 'semi-altered body, not connected to any particular pre-established TNG character.' That left me kind of in the dark, but they were willing to guarantee tall, sexy, two arms, good-sized package, tough - I never thought to ask species. Besides, I was more concerned about your body at the time," he finished with a cocky grin.

Alex was startled to see Fox turn away from him shamefacedly. A broken question emerged, "How can you even want me? I'm *Wesley*."

He moved quickly to take Fox by the shoulders. "No you're not. You are Fox Mulder - the coolest, sexiest loudmouth nerd in the whole universe. Your function isn't *you*. It doesn't tell your style or even personality." He lifted Fox's chin up, allowing Alex to see his uncertain face and lowered eyes. He fumbled for something that would erase the unhappiness and doubt he saw there, scouring what TNG data he had picked up from hastily watching a bunch of episodes as research when he learned what was going down. "Look at X. He got the Worf part because they're both a couple of harsh bad-asses, on the 'good side' more or less, that take care of hardcore shit. He's not Worf, though. For one thing, even if maybe he does have a few principles, he sure doesn't have the whole warrior code of honor thing going on. How about Skinner? He orders people around and has a thing for the doctor. Does that make him Picard?"

Mulder mentally compared the witty, urbane poet-adventurer with his blunt, cranky former AD. He lit up immediately. "In his dreams maybe. No way is he Picard! Oh Alex!" Swept up in a tide of heartfelt relief and gratitude, he flung himself at Alex. The unexpected flying squirrel impression left the Cardassian scrambling to catch him. Initial shock was overcome by elation when Fox clung to him, peppering his face with exuberant kisses. Alex managed to bring their mouths into contact, reaching up to hold his head in place. He felt a momentary tensing before the ensign melted against him. He was thrilled at Fox's responsiveness. Soft full lips parted easily for his questing tongue. It was sucked and stroked within the sweet, warm cavern of the boy's mouth. Long, fine boned hands danced over his armored chest and slid up to his neck, caressing the bare skin there and pulling him even nearer.

Sensations were running riot through Mulder's body. Heat and need seemed to fill every inch of him. It was completely beyond his experience. His tongue pushed out hungrily to learn the taste of Alex. It was the desert he found in his mouth and skin. The flavor was one of salty sunbaked rock and hardy flowers with sultry scents. A strong hand slipped under his shirt sent sparks of electricity along his nerves as it explored his rib cage, pausing occasionally to circle, rub and pluck at his hardened nipples. Everything was so strange and right.

Alex maneuvered them onto the nearby couch where he quickly divested Mulder of his clothes, large clawed hands tearing them a bit in his excitement. Mulder, finding no success with the sturdy body armor, continued to tug and yank at it, uttering little mewling noises of complaint.

The form fitting armor was becoming painfully constricting for Alex. He pulled back with a smile, drinking in the sight of the Fox feast laid before him. The ensign's beautiful mouth, indecently swollen from their kisses, was open and panting. His mussed hair fell in a shining disarray above soulful, beckoning eyes. That aura of innocent sexuality he had about him was accentuated by the youthful ripeness of his leanly muscled body. He was so fucking hot. Alex's appreciative stare traveled the boy's graceful lines and curves until coming to rest on an ass that would convince the Pope to bless sodomy. //Mine. Screw them all,// he gloated joyfully.

The Cardassian tried to still the tremor in his hands as he went to remove the suit himself. His good humor drained away as he encountered the complex system of bindings that held it together. //shitgoddamnfuckinghell!// In furious desperation he resorted to attacking the material between the plates, ripping and clawing at it. It was tough and withstood the punishment.

At the end of his rope, he looked to Fox for assistance. The vision that assailed him of the former agent spread out on his back, watching him intently with dark lust-dilated eyes while gently stroking an impressive erection, had him swiftly redoubling his previous efforts.

"It isn't working. Alex, cut it out!" He became aware of tenacious slender fingers wrapped around his wrists that were attempting to still the ferocious action of his raking claws. With an effort he surrendered to their insistent demand.

Huge beseeching eyes settled pleadingly on Fox. Mulder was amazed by the faith he saw in that gaze. Nobody ever believed a screwball like him could take care of anything. Nobody ever needed him.

He quickly inspected the hands in his own for damage. Satisfied, he brought them up to his mouth on impulse, the unfamiliar and yet undefined emotions within him requiring some physical expression. Snowy fingers were licked and nipped softly, deft movements adroitly avoiding the claws that gradually retracted into the tips as they relaxed. His tongue investigated the odd and delightful textures of smooth scales and rough protrusions like long, pronounced calluses patterned out on the finely crafted appendages.

"Fox," Alex groaned, his eyes narrowed to blissful slits even as his erection fought to punch a hole through his armor.

Pulling out of his sensual revelry, Mulder flashed him a teasing smile. "Looking cool isn't everything, hmm? This is what you get for sticking me with the dorky space-polyester number," he joked lightly. "Don't worry, we'll take care of it."

He touched Alex's face, running his fingers back and forth along the prominent ridges surrounding his Cardassian eye sockets in a soothing caress. The ensign had recalled that a fairly similar structure on Ferengi had been shown as being quite sensitive.

Pleasure tingled through Alex as Mulder stroked the unexpected erogenous zone. He pulled the wonderful boy close, rejoicing in the warm nearness of his love.

Their mouths met again in feverish kisses, hands roaming freely. There was an unavoidable resurgence of frustration. Alex wanted the barriers gone. He wanted them welded together body and soul. Engulfed in each other. The big Cardassian began rutting against Mulder, firmly clasping his ass to press him closer. He was just cognizant enough to make sure that his claws stayed inside. The steel encased cock was now throbbing in near agony.

"Oohhh, I need to fuck you," Alex moaned. "Need to so bad."

The engorged flesh of Fox's tender sex was ground against the solid metal piece of Alex's crotch guard. He squirmed helplessly in the strong embrace.

"Ow! Let go, that hurts!"

Alex snapped out of his passionate haze at those words. Panicked, he released his grip immediately and jumped back a little, which landed Fox in an undignified heap on the floor.

"Are you OK? What happened? I'm so sorry!" Alex exclaimed in horrified dismay.

He flew over to Fox's side. Brimming with guilt laced concern and consternation, he frantically tried to help him up, check him over, and comfort him all at the same time. The net result of this was making Mulder feel as though he were being mugged by Florence Nightingale on steroids.

Despite the 'assistance', Mulder succeeded in rising. He hastily extricated himself from the Cardassian's bizarre coddling attempt before further injury could occur and stood massaging his abused parts ruefully. The boy was relieved to find them unscathed if a little sore. In fact, his cock was already beginning to perk up again and beg for a return to the more pleasant sensations of a few moments ago.

"It's all right, I'll live, but we have *got* to get that thing off of you." He sat down on the couch, chewing on his lip as he contemplated the problem of the suit at full-blown Mulder intensity.

Alex hovered around him, not quite daring to touch. The writers were finally out off their lives and he was still giving Fox pain. He searched fretfully for something that might ease the discomfort of this particular injury to his Fox.

Fetching a pillow from a close by chair, he dithered looking down at Mulder's rosy, well-formed penis, shifting restlessly all the while in an effort to find a more comfortable position for his own aching loins. Elevation efforts appeared to be somewhat superfluous even in the wake of the unfortunate incident; nonetheless, it was the best that Alex could come up with. His indecision went unnoticed by Mulder who was well and truly lost in thought the way he always got when he was turning over a puzzle in his mind.

Alex considered swinging Fox's legs back to allow him to slip the pillow under his haunches in order to cushion the poor sore parts properly. He ruthlessly squashed a subsequent fantasy about taking advantage of the other opportunities lifting the long legs would offer. //Give the guy a break, you selfish bastard. You almost crushed his nuts with your giant freak body, and now you're about to jump him again.// Dwelling on the tender delicacy of the young human before him, Alex despised himself. He carefully tucked the pillow behind the precious, fragile skull, earning a preoccupied mumble of thanks. He risked a feather-light brush of his knuckles over soft, thick chestnut hair, clawed fingers curled tightly to his palm as a precaution.

What was he going to do? Every warm "human" feeling he had was tied directly to the man sitting in front of him, and still he couldn't escape what he was - a killer, created for violence and efficient brutality. With the boil of emotions and hormones inside of him right now how could he trust himself? His dangerous instincts and monstrous new strength could kill Fox in an instant if he misapplied them after once again loosing his burning ardor. He would not let that happen - even if it meant getting someone to hack off every one of his limbs.

"Stand back." Alex felt a sharp stab of rejection pierce his gut before Fox caught his arm and began yanking eagerly. "C'mon, let's go! I have an idea," he announced in triumphant excitement. He allowed the ensign to position him in the open area in the center of the room. "Stay there. You can't budge when we try this. You trust me, right?"

Alex wondered what the manic boy would be getting him into. The suspicious mischief sparkling in the hazel eyes and persistent grin tugging at the corners of the lush mouth called up a great gush of adoration and hot desire within the Cardassian. He nodded silently, powerless in the face of his beloved's charms.

"Great!" Mulder sprung to proceed with his plan. "Computer, please place a priority order with the transporter chief to transport Representative Krycek to a position three feet to his left while leaving his apparel in current position."

A flat, sexless voice was emitted from some hidden speaker overhead. "Does the representative agree to this transport operation and the manner of relocation?"

There was a moment of expectant silence.

"Alex, that means you."

"Uh, yes."

"Message has been relayed."

"I bet we livened up a boring shift in the Transporter Section," Fox laughed. "Now remember not to move until it happens. We don't want them to rematerialize you in the middle of the coffee table or something." Mulder set off into the dining room hurriedly. "I have something to take care of while we're waiting. Be right back!" He returned a few moments later bearing a large black cup which he carried into the bed chamber.

Mulder was on his way back out when a glittering spot of light appeared on Alex's midriff. His head and hands could be seen to fade away in an instant. His armor and heavy boots remained aloft for half a second, resembling a ghostly visitation, before dropping with a crash. Nearby a second such spot appeared that resolved itself into a very naked pearly assassin.

Mulder was captured by the beauty of Alex, all the more wondrous to him in this extra-terrestrial manifestation. He looked like a statue of some exotic god, created from the finest marble for the worship of lesser beings. Walking up the motionless man, Fox laid the flat of his hand between his broad pectorals then trailed it down over his abdominals, marveling at the sculpted mounds of muscle. His skin seemed thicker than a human's and subtly different in texture, similar to oiled fine grade leather. It appeared to be entirely free of hair everywhere but the top of his head. He loved the feel of it beneath his fingers. The frosted peaks of his nipples were buttery smooth to the touch. The folds of his belly button formed an exquisite opalescent shell. The ensign's eyes widened as his attention shifted further down.

"Whadda ya know, maybe the writers' guarantee is worth something after all," Fox murmured, whistling at the very sizable hard-on now on display.

He took gentle hold of the pale tumescent member. //I wonder if it stays white because the epidermal thickness obscures the blood rich state of the tissues or if Cardassians have a circulation system unlike ours, being descended directly from coldblooded reptiles.// The dick in question leapt like an ecstatic puppy in his grip.

Mulder felt his face heat as he filled with curiosity and excitement. Outside of his diverse collection of porn and lively imagination, he had never had occasion to examine another man's hard cock. The writers hadn't intended him to get out much when they gifted him at conception with a mental party pack of paranoia, barely scabbed over emotional wounds and single minded obsession over proving widely ridiculed theories.

Comparison shopping wasn't necessary, however, for him to know that the cock in his hands was something special. Skin like creamy white suede covered it. Long and thick in the shaft, its rearing head had a stout, conical shape that narrowed to a blunt tip. Powerful, sleek and elegant, it suited Alex well. Light experimental strokes and squeezes caused it to strain further, steady streams of golden fluid leaking from the slit. //Wow, alien love juice.// Inquisitive Mulder brought a sticky finger to his mouth for a taste test. After a trial lick, he drew the finger in deep and reflected on the flavor. It was heavy and sweet with a strong undernote of something vaguely like ginger. Not like his own at all. He absently maintained a loose grasp on the big cock as he mused over the pre-cum on his tongue until interrupted abruptly by a tortured sob.

He was startled to note that Krycek looked ready to explode about something. The thinnest nimbus of green iris ringed vast smoldering black pits. His chest was heaving. The muscles Mulder had been admiring earlier were all seized up. His jaw, fists and even his feet were clenched. How on earth had his tentative explorations upset Alex so badly? Why to God hadn't he said or done something to let him know?

Mulder stumbled back a step. "Um, Alex...are we having another problem I should be aware of?"

Though he saw Fox's lips moving, Alex couldn't make out the words over the raging storm in his head. They would have been meaningless to him anyway. All of his mental focus was presently being expended on remaining perfectly still but for the rapid rise and fall of his chest. His restraint had been tried almost past endurance by the soft angel touches and the unbearably erotic performance Fox had unconsciously put on sucking away at that pre-cum coated digit.

Alex stood at the very edge of the precipice. Clamping down on the force of his desire for Fox's sake had only served to make it more insistent. His body was staging a full out mutiny at the prospect of being denied any of it's due when poised right on the brink of achieving satisfaction at last. Years of being reigned in, combined with this current provocation and the seemingly amplified appetites of his new body, would allow no quarter to be given. If he moved the tenuous thread of will holding him in check would be broken. He was afraid of what he would do. If he so much as twitched he would be on top of Fox. He would hold that lovely, vulnerable creature down, spitting him like a pig on his unyielding shaft and pounding into the virgin asshole until jism came trickling out of the boy's mouth, nostrils and ears. He was too far gone, drowning in the vicious reds that meant destruction.

His heart constricted at the concerned expression on Mulder's face. He flashed suddenly on a picture of his Fox lying bloodied, torn and sobbing at the hands and dick of the man he had opened his arms to. With an inarticulate cry he collapsed to his knees, enveloping Mulder's waist in a bruising squeeze. He gulped Mulder's fat, pretty cock into his mouth, deep throating it right to the root and applying suction like a vacuum. Fox screamed and his whole body went rigid with shock and sensation. Krycek's hold supported the smaller man as he arched backwards. Alex maintained his voracious assault, tonguing and sucking madly, all of his demanding hunger being confined to one rapacious orifice. He freed one hand to work his own impatient cock to climax.

There wasn't a chance of Mulder, so unused to sharing sex with a partner, holding out for long at the frantic pace Alex had set. He let loose a howl as he shot a river of cum down Alex's ravenous throat. Mulder felt his limbs sag and knees buckle with release. He was kept upright by Alex, who had both arms around his middle again in the attitude of a lost soul begging redemption. Slumping forward and dropping his hands to the man beneath him, Mulder rested the weight of his torso on the broad shoulders. From this angle he could see that a string of overlapping scales along Alex's spine were standing at half-mast, descending from the now bristling comb of scales at his nape. //Damn, some guys really do get all the neat stuff,// he thought to himself, unable to dredge up any actual resentment in the wake of the most incredible orgasm of his life.

Mulder gasped out, "Foreplay was becoming a bore, huh?"

"Was trying to stop. Don't want to hurt you again," answered a rough, choked whisper from somewhere in the vicinity of his navel.

"Oh, you mean after...you were trying not to get carried away? Is that what was going on?" The Cardassian's head dipped in a nod, a shudder running through his huge body. "I'm all right. You stopped when I asked you to, that's the important thing," he reassured him, stroking the sleek head pressed tightly to his belly. "We were doing fine. Anyway, I think an acknowledgement is going to have to be made that delayed gratification is not your shtick. Another episode like that one and we'll probably both rupture something. Although it would definitely be the most enjoyable injury I've ever received."

Alex drew a long shaky breath and risked a look up, reassured by the warm acceptance he saw there. He nuzzled his face against Mulder's flat stomach before rising, bending him over one shoulder as he came up. Then he made for the bedchamber with the ensign draped across him.

"This better not be a tease. I demand hard cock!" Mulder proclaimed gleefully.

The smaller man was deposited on the bed with a bounce. Alex followed him down, engaging tongue and hands immediately, the dick of his unfamiliar body fast swelling to its former proportions. Fox returned his caresses with enthusiasm.

"So I take it you really want me then?" Mulder asked laughingly.

"For so long," he groaned between lapping at a pink nipple. "I hated the writers. Fuck, still hate them, but at least now it's like it should be."

"I made preparations." Steeling his resolve, Mulder guided the Cardassian's head away and separated himself from Alex long enough to get the cup on one bedside table.

"What?"

"Olive oil from the food dispenser. I had to improvise. One of the great unsolved mysteries of STNG was the identity of the officer in charge of KY distribution." With a smiling tug on one of Alex's clawed finger ends the ensign added, "No offense, but I think I'll lube myself until you're totally used to these things."

Alex was profoundly grateful at that moment that he had already taken some of the edge off his lust. His heart was trapped in his throat and seemed to be suffocating him.

Mulder dipped his fingers in the oil then worked them into himself with a limber twist, humming happily and giving little breathy murmurs of arousal. Alex observed the relaxed, practiced movements with considerable surprise. A dark suspicion disturbed the fantastic allure of the scene.

"You done this before?" The question came out steeped in jealously even though rationally Alex didn't see how it could be possible. He may have been watching the developments of Mulder's love life from afar, but he had been watching very carefully.

"Lubed up? Yeah. Hey, I may have been flying solo but I performed the full range of maneuvers." He flipped onto his back, pulling his legs up to his chest and sending an amused come hither leer at the relieved Cardassian. "What are we waiting for? I'm in a space ship with an alien life form. Let the anal probing commence!"

//Holy fuck.//

Slicking up his dick, Alex laid a reverent kiss on the glistening pink bud of Fox's anus then pounced on him with a throaty growl. They traded an aggressive kiss. Alex dragged his slightly coarse tongue over the shapely collarbone and blazed a trail of licks and sucks from the perfect hollow of his throat to the hint of a cleft on his strong, stubborn chin. In breathless anticipation, he positioned the toned runner's legs on his shoulders and steadily pushed his way into paradise. He settled in and began to move. It was hot and tight and, oh Christ, ecstasy.

Mulder writhed and bucked beneath the big Cardassian. It was everything he had imagined sacked out on the couch in his tiny dank apartment. More than that. The large cock inside of him was driving in and out in a relentless rhythm. He arched back his neck, crying out as it found his prostate and continued targeting it repeatedly. Alex's face was floating above him, strained with passion. The sharp clean lines, high cheekbones, broad brow, incredible burning eyes - it was all still there in this Cardassian incarnation. How could he not have recognized him immediately? Fox reached down to stroke his reawakened cock and felt Alex's hand wrap around his, the two moving as one. Their mouths came together, tongues wrestling and twining. His climax built until it exploded into its own galaxy of stars. Still the powerful thrusting went on and on. The intensity of the pleasure was near to painful.

After an exquisite eternity, Alex's body spasmed and he came with a roar, sending streams of hot ejaculate into the molten depths of Fox's body. He lowered Fox's legs to his waist, massaging the muscles to help ease cramp. The larger man then gathered the boy up in a fierce hug, nuzzling the sweat damp locks on his lulling head. Setting the precious burden down carefully, Alex reluctantly disengaged himself and moved to his lover's side.

"Tissues. I knew we were missing something," commented a groggy monotone. "Do you think they use toilet paper in this century?"

"If they don't I'm sure as hell not shaking any hands," Alex replied a little thickly. "But forget about it, that's mine." He slid down to lick Fox clean, savoring the taste he had waited so long to receive. Once finished, he arranged them both snuggly under the covers, pulling Fox half on top of him and wrapping him up in possessive arms.

"Tha's good. Did you see stars? Billions and billions of them," Fox rambled in an exhausted slur. "Carl Sagan never used that phrase in his work, you know. Only a brief acknowledgement of it in his final book. Too imprecise. Does it mean 10 billion? A hundred billion? Who can tell? It's a common misattribution, like the supposed P.T. Barnum quote 'there's a sucker born every minute.' With the relative ease of space travel here and the multitude of civilizations, I guess the situation would be very different for people with genetic abnormalities like the ones who used to work Barnum's carnivals. I mean if you didn't fit in on your planet, you'd be pretty sure to find one where you did. Or one so removed that they weren't aware of the standard features of your species anyway, so you'd be presumed to be the norm. If you wanted to be considered normal, that is. By the same principle, there would always be someplace out there where people would be fascinated at how strange you seem."

"I think you've already found that place." Mulder felt the vibrations of Alex's low rumble of laughter pass through him.

"I find your authority on the subject of normality very questionable," the ensign mumbled in muzzy protest, delivering a playful poke to Alex's gut.

There was another amused rumble in response and the arms holding him tightened a little.

A contented smile spread over Mulder's face as he slipped into dreams in his lover's embrace.

XXXXX

They woke up sometime later, quickly agreeing that a shower was in order to rid themselves of the uncomfortable residues left from their lovemaking. It had been observed that Alex didn't seem to produce any sweat as a Cardassian, but there was still Mulder's to contend with among other things.

Alex quickly became passionate again as they soaped each other under the spray. Fox, while clearly receptive to his advances, was hopelessly distracted by the question of how the ship's plumbing functioned and whether it was actual H2O pouring from the nozzle. In affectionate exasperation Alex chased a yelping, giggling Fox back into the bedroom where he wouldn't be competing with a toilet bowl for the smaller man's attention. They tumbled onto the bed in a tangle of limbs.

Sobering, Fox pulled himself up on one elbow to gaze down into Alex's relaxed face.

"I've been thinking."

"No talk about sewage treatment and water distribution systems in bed."

"No, no...about us."

"Yes?"

"I think I understood that you want this to be an, um, ongoing thing?" Fox asked awkwardly, tracing the contours of the Cardassian's well defined stomach muscles with one finger.

"Oh yeah, I'm not done with you yet, baby. Not by a long shot." His reply was accompanied by a sexy easy grin that Mulder had never seen him wear before.

The boy inquired solemnly, "Does that mean we'll have to get married?"

Alex burst into laughter. "Oh man, you worried I knocked you up? Should I be expecting Scully to show up with a shotgun?"

Fox socked him lightly on the shoulder. "No. It's the law thing. No major character amongst the STNG crew has a long-term sexual relationship with anyone unless they're married. I mean O'Brien was the only one getting any on a regular basis and that came after the wedding. Well, he and Keiko lived together and had a daughter, so at least you assumed he was getting some. They never had a same sex marriage on the show, though. That means it won't be available as an option until our writers introduce it." The boy ran a frustrated hand through his shower wet hair. "We have a complication."

"Wait a minute, I don't think that's a law. I mean look at Troi. Riker was porking her."

"No, that was all done with before the show began and they joined the Enterprise."

"Well sure, that's what they *said*. He was the second banana and all that, so they didn't want it to get around. Read between the lines, Fox. She was getting it from Riker and probably Worf too - that's another reason she wouldn't want her personal life to get blabbed about."

"No way. They even discussed it as being over when they were in private. Besides, as Scully and Skinner have been saying, Starfleet regulations are very forgiving of fraternization, so no need for concealment. And the Worf thing was just a potential future prospect."

"Yeah, but...what about Clovus and Ablar?"

"Who?"

"You know - Clovus and Ablar. They were long-term. That settles that, so let's fuck some more." Alex pulled Fox over, pressing against him and letting him feel the evidence of his fresh arousal.

"There weren't any main characters called that," Mulder protested, trying to pull away.

"Sure there were. They were chiefs of garbage disposal. I guess they were cut out of the American broadcast. Probably for raunchiness. Figures. American censors can be pretty uptight," his muffled voice emerged from a mouth buried in Mulder's neck as he ran his hands over the silky skin of his smoothly muscled chest. "Let me show you what they got up to on episode 34."

"There were never any characters named that. I know Star Trek," Fox asserted with conviction, worming desperately out of Alex's powerful arms and retreating to the edge of the bed where he crouched trying to catch his breath.

Alex studied a flushed, tussled and determined little Fox for a moment through half lidded eyes. "Just how much time have you spent on this stuff?" He lunged quick as a cobra to capture the boy and pull him back into his embrace. The Carassian nipped along his jaw and reached down to fondle his groin. "We've got to get you a more interesting hobby, baby."

"Krycek, quit goofing around," Fox gasped out. "This is important. I don't want to cause the destruction of the universe!"

Alex pinned Fox beneath his heavier frame, face to face and erections pressed together, then stilled, releasing a sigh. "Look, Fox, that isn't a concern, OK? I told you before that we got more freedom from the writers. It's agreed: 'organizational regulations are maintained, but decisions of individual characters on personal behavior and conduct are autonomous.' We all decide for ourselves what to do and whether to follow any kind of rules."

"Hey, what about that 'fighting equals apocalypse' stuff you said?" Mulder demanded. "You were lying to me?"

"Nah, that was just what we call sweet talking, baby," Alex reassured him in a lazy growl.

"You call threats of imminent doom sweet talk?"

"Sweeter than a fist in the face. So's this."

"Ooh...mmmm..."

XXXXX

Seductive aromas conspired with a slight jostling of the bed to bring Mulder out of his peaceful slumber. He released a little moan, turning his face into the pillow in defiance of wakefulness and the siren call of warm food. The former agent had never felt so serene and safe as he did right now wrapped up in the cocoon of blankets laden with his lover's scent. A niggling fear warned him not to open his eyes lest the dream sensation shatter. A heavy, solid bulk began stealthily insinuating itself against his side. An extremely comfortable bulk that seemed to be skimming tingling feathery touches over his shoulders and the rim of one ear. Resistance was futile.

"Alex?" He looked up into a loving gaze and was bestowed a tender kiss on the lips.

"Morning, baby. I brought food. You should eat."

"Mmmm...food." He lifted his head to discover the source of the appealing smells, then immediately turned over and sat up, blinking to clear his vision. "Let me guess, we're going to support our decadent lifestyle by opening an on board buffet? I admire your entrepreneurial spirit, but you won't be getting me into a hairnet."

Nearly every available surface in the room, aside from the bed, was covered with tidily arranged plates of food, ewers of milk and assorted juices, tea pots, coffee carafes, and various syrups and sauces. On the bedside table beside Alex an entire turkey and a tower of steaks sat among more common breakfast items. An enormous roast waited on the dresser.

"I wasn't sure what you'd want, and I was hungry too."

"I think you've got it covered. Thank you." He ran a hand over Alex's smooth, hairless jaw. The Cardassian leaned into the caress. "I'm starving."

Mulder combined items from several dishes of fancy eggs, pancakes and meats within reach of the bed onto one plate and dug in. He stopped, fork dangling forgotten in his fingers, at the sight of his lover launching into breakfast. The larger man had picked up the turkey in both hands and was rapidly ripping off and swallowing great hunks of meat with strong teeth and tossing motions of his powerful neck. The legs went down with the bones intact.

"What else do you eat?"

"Don't know yet. All I feel like is meat. What type of syrup you want on those, Fox?"

"The nearest one, don't go wandering off. Thanks. We need to do some research. You know, find a book on the care and feeding of Cardassians. Or a computer data file more likely. Let's hope that they don't dole out the food on some kind of ration system - we'll be screwed for the rest of the month after this. If they do, the plan is going to be dropping in on 'Mom' at Skinner's quarters a lot. You'll be in charge of creating a diversion for Skinner while I talk her into handing over the goods." The ensign flashed a conspiratorial smile. "I mean, as captain, Skinner isn't going to go hungry no matter what, right?"

"Sure thing, babe." Alex had moved on to the steaks by now, which were disappearing at an alarming rate.

Returning to his own food, Mulder paused, chewing action slowed as he examined the contents of his mouth. "This stuff tastes funny," he informed Alex around the half-eaten mouthful. A grimace of distaste contorted his features. "The pancakes are all grainy and the syrup has almost no sweetness to it. What kind of syrup isn't sugar based?" A couple of desultory pokes and nibbles at his eggs prompted further criticisms. "The yolks are just like the whites in these eggs."

"The meat is missing flavor too," Alex shrugged, continuing to work his way through the steaks. While he appreciated savory food as much as the next person, most of his existence he had been spent living on the edge, having to make do with whatever he could get his hands on. Besides that, the large frame he now commanded demanded plenty of fuel, especially after the recent exertions. "It's weird, but the food machine only seems to give bland, high nutritional versions of whatever you ask for. It still *looks* right, so I guess it's not something you'd be able to tell by watching the show."

"The writers are sticking it to us. For god's sake, there's no grease on this bacon! It's an abomination!" Mulder cried out, tossing down the meat strip in disgust. He pushed aside the offensive plate and huddled back against his lover, feeling vaguely threatened by the duplicitous heaps of healthful bounty surrounding them. "Alex, what am I going to do here?"

"Eat." The Cardassian hid a smile behind another piece of synthesized beef as he cuddled Mulder consolingly. "You've been asleep for the past 15 hours. No meals before that either. Not since the change, or you'd already know about this."

"I meant here in the STNG universe, I'm just so...15 hours? That can't be right. Nobody sleeps for 15 hours, let alone insomniacs. I only average a couple hours a night. It must have just seemed longer to you." He felt unusually rested, sure, but 15 hours? Not unless he had a severe concussion, gun shot wounds or tobacco larvae gnawing through his lungs.

"I've been watching the clock behind that juice jug there. Guess I wore you out. It was a big day for a little ensign." Alex was looking very smug.

Though Mulder pretended to glower a bit, he privately reveled in the instant flood of memories of being fucked within an inch of his life by his seemingly insatiable lover, memories reinforced by the pleasant lingering soreness of his butt.

"I lost track of how many times you came," he conceded, suppressing a schoolgirl sigh. "Another matter up for research: is the condition of being a sex machine common to the Cardassian race or have they produced you as an anomaly?"

"What makes you think this is a new thing?"

"Well, for one, Marita couldn't have gotten herself off that ship if she was in a coma," Mulder remarked dryly.

"That was different, nothing like us," Alex returned dismissively. "I *had* to fuck that stiff bitch. I was punching the clock."

"Maybe so, but if your libido had always been like this I would have noticed you humping furniture and car bumpers while we were partners. Did you mean 15 hours from the point we first fell asleep or 15 hours continuous since our last session?"

"Since the last one."

"Christ, it's a wonder nobody missed me and arrived to break up our little love nest. Pays to be unimportant. They must have a lot of ensigns in the shift rotation, I suppose."

"Actually, some dipshit kid showed up to collect you. I convinced him to find a replacement until we say different."

"Um, thanks. It's not like I know how to fly the ship anyway. That's not where I belong. I'm grossly unqualified for my jerk off assigned job and my real skills are being wasted. How familiar."

"When the ship gets somewhere it'll be kind of like old times for you. You'll still be investigating strange, unknown stuff, only instead of jet lag in Slim Jim's Roach Motel you'll be shacked up here with me," Alex winked.

"You really aren't leaving when we get to the conference?" Fox asked. His voice was made a bit unsteady by a burst of hope and fear and feeling.

"Are you?"

"No. I mean I wasn't planning to - "

"Then I'm staying," the Cardassian stated with finality. "We already settled that, remember? This is long-term."

"I know, but that was...I wasn't sure you'd still..."

"You can be sure." Alex pulled him close and kissed him until Mulder felt dizzy with happiness and lack of oxygen.

Alex wanted to be with him and he wanted to be with Alex. Mulder felt a hollow place inside him fill at last, a place that he hadn't even realized he had. But there was still one thing troubling him...

"What am I going to do about my sister?"

"You can still look. I'll help you."

"She could be anywhere. I don't even know what sector of universe she's in."

"You didn't before either. At least now you're able to travel through space, so when you find out where she was taken you can go get her. We'll constantly be coming to different planets. Keep asking about her."

"I won't have any authority. I'm just an ensign."

"You never had the authority to do half of what you did. The writers told me that you'll always be on the exploration teams, and the crap, low level job you got will leave you plenty of time and room in that big brain for other projects...and interests." The Cardassian stroked a hand along his lover's firm thigh.

"You think it could work?"

"I think we might as well get our bearings here first before trying to figure whether to stick it out or head off on our own. No need to decide anything yet."

"That makes sense. Alex, promise me that whatever else the future brings we won't ever, ever go on leave together and hang around in those wrap shirts and drawstring pants."

"I'd never let that happen to us."

"What a relief."

"What I don't like is having piss all experience with the weapons here. Plus there's all these different species around that I've never been up against before. Hard to stay ahead of the game if you don't know what the fuck to expect."

"That's not a problem. You can practice here on board. Worf had all these combat simulation programs involving different terrains, fighting styles and adversaries set up on the holo deck. You could too. It's like a chamber of holographic illusions, but the images are physically substantial - "

"You mean you can feel them?"

"And fight with them, yeah. In Star Trek VIII Picard even killed Borg for real with holo bullets by disabling the safety protocols. Everybody is allowed access to the holo facilities. You just reserve a block of time and enter your design specifications from what I can tell. That's it - the holo deck!" Mulder drew a swift intake of breath. He scrabbled up to stand on his knees in front of Alex and gathered the Cardassian's hands to his chest, eyes shining like gilt gems. "I can get to be Kirk after all! Yes!! Think of the possibilities! I'll be Captain Kirk and you can be Uhura...no?" Alex was looking decidedly unreceptive to the idea. "Well, you don't fit Bones or Spock. Sulu is too mellow. Chekov!...No? Too obvious? Scotty's no good because he was always staying behind on the ship. It'll have to be one of the security guys then, I guess, although none of them had any character development.

OK, well, you are accompanying me, your intrepid captain, on an away mission of mercy, answering a distress call from a planet we encounter. Little do we know that it's a trap to lure innocent, heroic people like ourselves into bondage! As soon as we arrive, a shield goes up to prevent the ship from communicating or beaming us out. We're put in chains and brought before the high court of his Empirial Majesty King Cocklong, who informs us that we are to be consigned indefinitely to a life of sexual servitude to the aristocrats of his court. I deliver a very stirring speech on the rights of mankind in the universe, but it has no effect on the villainous rogue. He steps down from his dais, approaching the fiery captain and his plucky security officer. You try to intercept before he can harm your captain, prevented by the quick restraining action of his evil, lecherous henchmen - "

"I don't like people touching me," Alex scowled.

"That's right! That's what you'll say, but we'll be forced to perform to their dastardly will nonetheless! The King removes his tall, plumy headdress, and the henchmen their helmets, revealing, to our horror, five pulsing penises standing erect on the top of each one of their heads. The King declares that he will tame the mouthy, spirited one personally, striding forth to seize my jaw in a cruel grip and snap a golden leash to my slave collar to lead me to his - "

"Stop it!"

"Yes, you cry out angrily against this threat to your commander, fighting madly against the hands and chains holding you down. For a moment you succeed in bursting free, only to hit smack into the chest of the King's most powerful and debauched adviser, the nefarious Duke Wang! The guards are upon you once again as the Duke lets loose a laugh and proclaims that this wild cat is for him. The King orders that you should both accompany us to the royal pleasure rooms, all of his dicks twitching as he runs a greedy hand down my - "

Alex seized hold of Mulder's head desperately, shaking him and bellowing into his face, "Not a fucking finger, got it? No piece of shit with five dicks is getting anywhere near you!"

Mulder deduced that Alex was a bit perturbed. The reason for that was clear - he hadn't heard the rest of the story! "Don't worry, of course we'll rescue ourselves eventually. That'll come after having unspeakable acts thrust upon us, receiving assistance from the android slave warden who wants to learn what this human thing called kissing is all about, punching out a bunch of guards, freeing the slaves, and having a final show down with the King. His foul reign ended for good, I deliver some stern moral chastisement, and it's beam out and credits. Then, on the next day of our continuing journeys, we'll be kidnapped for the purpose of exhibition in an interstellar zoo where we'll be enrolled in virility studies with fellow abductees from the Pan Galactic Fire Brigade and a mating program with a Crab Nebulan Catholic school cheerleading squad..."

End of Episode 2


Watch for the next exciting installment in our continuing saga - same bat site, same bat url!


Archived: 11:43 03/09/01