Title: Blood of Me
Author/Pseudonym: Ursula
Fandom: X Files
Pairing:  Skinner/Krycek
Rating: NC-17
Status:   Stand Alone Complete
Date Posted: May 25th, 2002 for Peach's Birthday
Archive: Full House DIB Peach's page Other archives just ask.
E-mail address for feedback: Fan4Richie@aol.com or Ursula4X@aol.com
Classification: Drama Slash
Series/Sequel: Is this story part of a series: No
Web Site: http://fullhouseslash.slashcity.net/~ursula/
Disclaimers: Carter, Carter inspires a huge sigh...he's like an abusive parent. You know that they wouldn't be here without him, but still have to wonder if they wouldn't have been better off without him.
Notes: For Peach's BD
Beta thanks to JenR. Sharon M. helped with the medical details of Alex's injury.
Warnings: Some detailed medical stuff
Time Frame: AU from the Balcony of Tunguska

I was half blasted. When I hear the pounding at my door, I spilled the glass of Scotch I had forgotten on the floor. My pants were unzipped. I couldn't find my shirt and decided I didn't give a damn. I was still buckling my belt as I answered the door.

"Who is it?"

"I need to speak with you, Sir," Mulder said.

Oh, fuck, Mulder...

Wasn't it enough that I bore him like a cross at work? Oh, hell, I know I resented him because the compromises that defined my life post Smoking Man didn't fence Mulder.

A few moments later, my fist hurt from a hard hit to Krycek's stomach. Mulder seemed surprised and almost jealous.  Did he think that he was the only one Krycek had screwed over?

Leaving the gasping man on the balcony, I returned to discuss Mulder's plans. As usual, he wasn't willing to tell me much. I could tell he was lying, but I also knew I probably didn't want to know the truth.

After Mulder left, I slid open the door. I was surprised that Krycek didn't complain at this point. He was huddled, almost dangling from his cuffed hand as he hunched over his belly. I could hear how rapid his breathing was, but I thought he was afraid. He looked at me with eyes seemingly huge from the dim light. He looked pale. I could see dirt streaks and bruises. After checking on him, I meant to go back to bed, but instead, poured another drink.

I must have gone to sleep again. I woke with a start and realized I was slumped over on my couch. I decided I had better head upstairs for some real rest in the comfort of my bed. Mulder was supposed to do something with Krycek in the morning. He wasn't really my problem. I regretted hitting him so hard. If I hadn't done that, I could place him in a safe house. Now, there might be questions.

Glancing through the window, I saw that Krycek was slumped against the balcony rail. I imagined he was pretty dammed cold and uncomfortable. I grinned in enjoyment and went to bed.

Waking, I frowned, feeling that hated and familiar cotton mouthed sensation. My bladder ached and my stomach burned. The problem with drinking is not drinking. It's stopping.

After a hasty trip to the john and an attempt to wash the foul taste out of my mouth, I realized I had better let Krycek inside long enough to use the toilet at least.

Jesus Christ, Krycek looked bad. He was panting, a rapid hitching breathing that sounded painful to hear. He was deathly pale, beading with sweat despite the intense cold. He startled when I opened the door, a spasmodic movement ending in a groan of pain. I unlocked the cuff and dragged him to his feet. He cried out and almost fell. He swayed, hanging back on the cuff. I finally had to grab him by the arm to steady him.

Dragging Krycek inside, I walked him to the bathroom and said, "Use it and don't try any tricks."

The man was still breathing in short, fast gasps. He leaned on the counter as he fumbled at his jeans. He didn't ask me to leave or say anything. His hands must have been numb as it took him ages to open his fly. I was looking so it wasn't hard to catch sight of the mottled bruising on his belly. He gingerly fumbled at his crotch, whimpering between his panting breaths. In the clear light of the bathroom, I could see his complexion was an odd bluish color. The fucker was going shocky on me.

When Krycek's stream finally started, it was deep pink. He was bleeding. That didn't panic me exactly. I had pissed pink after that assault in the stairwell so it was turnabout, fair play as far as I was concerned.

"You need to shit?" I asked.

There was no answer. Krycek was swaying, about ready to fall over. I caught him as his legs started to give out. Despite my inclination to just put him back out on the balcony, I knew better. I didn't think it was good for my image to have dead double agents chained to my patio.

After I lowered him to the bed, I tugged up the shirt. He cringed back and said, "No, please."

It took me a moment before I realized what he thought. I said, "God, Krycek, you must think I'm desperate. You think I'd fuck a piece of shit like you?"

"Sorry," Krycek whispered. "Hurts."

"Where does it hurt?" I asked as I pulled off his shoes. They thudded to the floor. I struggled with the jeans. They were tight fitting and he wasn't helping much. He smelled rank as if he had been wearing the same thing for days.

"Everything hurts," Krycek said. "My left shoulder and arm hurts the worst."

That didn't make sense to me. I finished undressing him. He looked like a crash test dummy unlucky enough to draw the 'least safe car'. The odd thing was that there weren't any injuries I could see on his shoulder. His gut looked swollen though. I pressed lightly and he screamed like a woman in travail.

"Fuck," I said. I stood there staring at him until the shivering got to me. As gently as if I really cared, I raised his legs and drew blankets around him. "You're in shock. I think something is bruised inside."

At least, I hoped bruised was the word. If his spleen had ruptured or any other internal organ, he wasn't the only one in trouble. I picked up my phone and punched in Scully's number.

Sounding irritable and sleepy, Scully said, "Sir? It's six thirty in the morning. I was up late at the lab last night."

"I have a situation that involves Agent Mulder here at my apartment," I explained.

Before I could give her any details, Scully said, "I'll be right there."

It took me a moment to realize that Scully thought that I had Mulder at my apartment and that he was hurt. "Shit," I said.

Looking at Krycek, I remarked, "If she hurts herself getting here, I'm going to kill you."

"Fuck you," Krycek hissed and flinched back when my fist moved from my side.

Pulling myself together, I pulled the blanket tighter around Krycek. "Does you arm still hurt?"

"Yeah," Krycek said. He looked greener than ever and said, "I'm going to throw up."

I had a wastebasket there on time. Krycek's stomach must have been empty as only a foul smelling drool came out. He was throwing up and moaning at the same time. I was worried that he was going to aspirate. Not that I gave a damn if I was sure that I could get rid of the body and knew for sure that someone hadn't noted Mulder driving off with one of the prisoners

When he finally stopped heaving, Krycek clutched his stomach and said, "I just want the pain to stop."

Giving Krycek a glass of water, I encouraged him to rinse his mouth. He spat a few times and then gripped the glass to gulp down the rest. I remembered enough of my first aid training to know that wasn't a good idea. I took the glass away. He fought me to keep it and fell on his side with a scream and a curse.

Someone was at the door. I said, "Don't try anything, Krycek." He just looked at me as if to say 'Was I out of my head?'

It was not whom I expected. It was Mulder. I said, "You. We have a problem. Come here."

Of course, Krycek hadn't been cooperative. There he was naked sitting up, body covered with sweat and white teeth gleaming as his head arched back in a silent grimace of pain.

"What's he doing in your bed?" Mulder asked.

My eyes followed his to Krycek's thighs and I realized that he was looking for blood. The shit...what was it with those two that they both thought me capable of rape?

"Get back into bed, Krycek," I said. "Give me a hand, Mulder."

It was difficult to keep from being rough with the man, but I didn't want to make things worse for myself. I propped the legs back up, but didn't cover him. I said, "Did you hit his stomach yesterday?"

The middle section was a map of bruises. He was clearly swollen now. I could see a blunt injury pattern that was not my fist. Mulder said, "It was during the capture. Justifiable force...he was resisting. Weren't you, Krycek?"

"Whatever you say, Mulder," Krycek gasped.

"He wasn't like this when we at the airport," Mulder said. He pointed at me and said, "You hit him too. That was a hard blow, Sir. You box and you pack quite a punch."

"All right. It was me," I admitted.

"You call Scully?" Mulder said. His hand covered Krycek's forehead and then fingers slipped below the jaw line, taking his pulse like a professional. He shook his head and pulled the covers snug around the man.

Krycek settled at Mulder's touch. I wasn't surprised. Krycek always reminded me of an abused dog around the man. He seemed to be hovering around hoping for a pat and expecting a kick.

"Cold and clammy," Mulder reported. "Geez, Alex, I thought you could take a licking and keep on ticking."

Krycek didn't respond; his eyelashes were fluttering with the rapid, shallow movements of his chest.

"Krycek, stay awake," I ordered.

Eyes popped open and Krycek said, "I'm tired. I'm cold. I just want to sleep. I'll wake up when Scully gets here." He sounded fretful and irritable.

"Stay awake, Krycek," Mulder snapped. He looked at me and said, "I have to follow the pouch, Sir. I can't help you with this."

"You brought him here," I accused.

"Yes, but I expected you to arrange a safe house, not chain him out on your balcony after beating him up," Mulder said.

That was true, but I didn't appreciate the reminder of my lapse of judgment. Krycek groaned and shuddered, trying to draw back his legs. I said, "No, keep the legs up."

My intercom buzzed. "It's Scully, Sir."

"Come up," I said, hitting the security buzzer.

A few moments later, Scully was at my door. As soon as I let her inside, she rushed toward Mulder, apparently still assuming that he was injured. He fended her off with a grin and said, "I'm fine. It's Krycek."

Mulder guided Scully to my bedroom. I was a step behind and almost ran them down when Scully bulked after seeing the man in my bed. She said, "Mulder, I thought you said you had him in a safe house?"

"No, I said he was in a safe place," Mulder said, splitting hairs.

Scully frowned and asked, "Mulder, did you hurt him? I told you!"

Deeply shamed, I said, "It wasn't him. I did it."

"Sir?" Scully said, shocked.

"Please have a look at him, Agent Scully. Do I have to bring him to the hospital?" I said.

Scully uttered one of her characteristic sighs. I flinched at the rebuke. I thought that Scully would make a good AD someday. Her career in the FBI would have been meteoric if she hadn't had Mulder for a partner. She could do as much with a cold stare as I could with a gruff voice and a bristling exterior.

A thermometer went into Krycek's mouth. Scully took his pulse and stared into his eyes. He retreated from her aggressively, swatting at her at one point. I held him down, trying not to further injure him. He seemed disoriented and drowsy despite the shudders of pain that vibrated through him.

"He's in shock," Scully said.

I had concluded that on my own. Krycek moaned and stared into my eyes. "Why don't you just do it?"

"Do what?" I asked.

"Kill me," Krycek said.

I laughed at that. "Blow my career over your sorry ass? I don't think so."

"It's not sorry," Mulder muttered.

I stared at him and he met my eyes with amusement. He said, "Do you need me? I have an idea about finding out the origin of those oil worms."

Alerting to that, Krycek said, "Mulder, you don't understand...wait. I can help you."

Staring at Krycek with grim amusement, Mulder said, "What happened? Did one of us hit you too hard on the head? I can't think of many people whose help I would be less willing to accept."

"It's dangerous," Krycek said, breaking off his sentence with a gasp.

Mulder patted Krycek's cheek and said, "I'll keep that in mind, partner." He laughed again and said, "Don't die on me, Krycek. I intend to have the pleasure of killing you one of these days."

Walter asked, "Mulder, are you sure you know what you are doing?"

"Of course, don't I always?" Mulder replied.

"No," answered Scully.

"No," I answered.

"That was a rhetorical question," Mulder said.

"In any event, Krycek needs to be examined in a real hospital. I can't tell what's going on except that he is in shock," Scully said.

I spent the night watching over Krycek in a small private hospital. The medical staff had treated him for shock and diagnosed his problem as a bruised bladder and spleen. Ice packing had reduced the pain and swelling, but the injuries were still painful. A slow leak of blood tinged urine had resulted in a catheter being inserted. Fluid dripped in Krycek's arm and seemed to dribble out to the bag that hung from the bed.

The wan face seemed so still that I wondered if the man was breathing. I reached over to touch him and Krycek's eyes wearily opened.  "Sorry," I whispered. "I thought you had stopped breathing."

There was a catch in his breath and then he muttered, "I wish." His hand came up to his lower stomach and he moaned. "I'd rather be shot," he complained.

"I don't think so," I said, thinking of the scars I bore from bullets. "Have you ever been shot?"

"Yes," Krycek hissed, "and it didn't hurt like this."

That made me smile. He glared at me, that deep v-shaped frown line forming over his nose. "You bastard."

"I wasn't laughing because you were hurt, Krycek," I said. I realized in a moment that I was being truthful. "I had no business hitting you like that."

Sweat was beading on his forehead. I went to get a damp washcloth and sponged his forehead. His hair felt silken when my fingers brushed it. He was beautiful. This was not the first time I noticed that. Eyelashes fluttered and he responded to my interest. He said, "Help me get away and I'll do anything you want. You can have me."

"You think I want your miserable body?" I asked.

Krycek's eyes searched my face and he nodded. He said, "I know you do."

"If I wanted it, I could have had you last night," I said.

"But that would have been rape," Krycek argued. He winced and drew his feet up. He said, "You're not a rapist."

"That sounds like something you know about," I remarked.

"Don't be a shit, Skinner," Krycek said. "Whatever I know about that kind of person, I wasn't the one doing the raping."

"You trying to make me feel sorry for you now?" I asked.

Eyes closed again and he drew a shuddering breath ending in a series of pants. I rang the nurse's bell and summoned the night nurse. "He's in pain," I said.

After checking his chart, the nurse gave him a shot. I saw his eyes glaze over and the heavy lashes blinked several times before fluttering closed. I picked up my briefcase and opened it to take out a manual I was supposed to improve. I don't know if it was as boring as it seemed or if I was exhausted, but the next thing I knew there was a motion in the room. I looked at the patrician face of an elderly man.

"Special Agent Skinner," the man said.

A point in his favor. That was my correct title. I said, "What do you want? Who are you?"

"He's one of them, the Brit," Krycek said. He was completely alert, his expression filled with venom.

"Ah, yes, such a rude nickname," the man said, "You are so very crude, Mr. Krycek. Now, where is the pouch? We know it is not at Mr. Skinner's apartment nor was it at Scully's or Mulder's."

"You must think they are fools. Why would they keep it there?" Krycek said.

A shrug answered that. The man brushed his thin lips thoughtfully and said, "What shall we do with you, Mr. Krycek."

"Finish it," Krycek said. "You can break me, but I won't stay broken." His head lifted from the bed, sweat plastering his hair to his elegantly shaped skull.

"I would argue that, but I find that it is refreshingly true. Of course, my colleagues will not give up, Mr. Krycek. You need a protector," the man said, with a glance at me.

Krycek followed the gaze. He looked hopeful for a moment then said, "How can he protect me even if he wanted to do so?"

"It is a delicate balance," the Englishman mused. He stepped closer, examining the bruises on Krycek's face. "Your former employer wanted you dead but could not succeed in killing you. It took him down a peg or two to lack control like that. I found it amusing. I am not sure what I want to do with this situation. For the time being, Mr. Skinner, I give his care to you. Keep him alive for the sake of the agents you are trying to protect."

Brushing his fingers through Krycek's hair, the man said, "Make yourself useful to the man, Alex. I understand that you are amusing and talented when you choose to be."

Krycek blushed scarlet and his eyes flashed defiance, but he nodded and said, "Is Mulder still under protection?"

"Perhaps," the man said.

"Why?" I asked. I had suspected that the purpose of many of the more bizarre occurrences was to control Mulder. Control him, but not kill him. They wanted him alive.

"Mulder has his intrinsic value. Perhaps even pretty Alex does as well," the man said. "Keep him for now. I may have a use for him."

The man left, his heels clicking in an almost military fashion as he exited.

I looked at Krycek and said, "Do you know why they protect Mulder in their fashion?"

"No, I ask questions and they tell me that I have no right to want to know. I've been trying to find out. They wanted me to remain a pawn, but I'm a person not a chess piece," Krycek said. "Mulder's important, but I haven't found out why."

Krycek turned his face away from me. I could see his fist gripping the thin hospital blanket. I could imagine what he was thinking. I smiled and said, "Well, Agent Krycek, they don't put a high value on you do they? Nothing like Mulder."

"Yeah, I know," he muttered then said, "I'd like to go back to sleep now."

"Feel free," I said.

In the morning, the doctor said that Krycek would be released after he had taken food by mouth and managed to pass waste. I couldn't stay with him, but I called an old friend, a retired agent. Charlie Durham had been one of the men who taught me my business. He ran a bodyguard business these days and I had called him to pull some strings to have one of his best hired to tend Krycek. I was surprised to see him show up personally.

Charlie hails from Georgia. He's one of those big rugged men with traces of Indian, Black, and white mixed into one hearty whole. His hair was still mostly jet-black, just a little silver at the sides. His broad face was the color of coffee with a lot of cream. His wizened face held deeply pocketed eyes that were a surprising green. He wasn't handsome, but he bore a second glance or two.

I looked at Charlie and past him before asking, "Where's the guard?"

"You're looking at him," Charlie said. He walked over to the bed and gazed at Krycek with interest. "Good looking son of a bitch, aren't you?" Charlie remarked.

"Fuck you," Krycek said gracelessly. He slumped down in the bed, uttering a cry as he moved the wrong way.

"Thanks," I said. "Charlie, I didn't exaggerate how dangerous this is. There are several factions of a group of ruthless men who want Krycek dead. They won't hesitate to take you out as a witness."

"Yes, I figured that," Charlie said. "That's why I assigned myself. I won't ask any of my people to put themselves in more danger than I will go into myself."

That was the reason why Charlie entered the bureau as a field agent and retired as one. Delegation is something you have to learn to be an office chief or higher. Charlie didn't want to learn. I admired that about him, but I was an ambitious man.

Staring at Krycek, I said, "Don't give Charlie any trouble, Krycek."

Krycek met my gaze with an incredulous look and then rolled his eyes. I caught his delicate chin in my hand and squeezed. "I mean it, Krycek. I'm the only thing standing between you and the natural consequences of both defying your employers and failing to stay out of their hands."

"I was trying to help Mulder," Krycek argued. He lifted off the bed for a moment and then fell back with a grunt of pain.

I almost believed him, but I wasn't going to let him know that. I said, "You must think I'm a fool to believe that."

I glanced behind me as I went out the door. Krycek looked like a broken doll in the bed. All the fight seemed out of him for the moment.

Krycek had still not eaten anything when I made it back from a lousy day at work. I grabbed the tray and said, "Want it in your mouth or up your ass?"

Charlie snorted and said, "Remind me not to call you to my side if I land in the hospital."

Glaring at him, I pulled a chair closer to Krycek's bed and said, "Open up."

Krycek opened his mouth to talk back and I slipped the spoon inside before he could deflect it. He started to splutter, but I quickly sealed his lips. He glared but swallowed. I grinned and said, "And here I didn't think this could be fun."

"Take it easy, Walter," Charlie said.

Taking a look at my old friend, I frowned and asked, "What has he been telling you?"

Shrugging, Charlie walked across the room to look out the window.

"I'll eat. Don't take it out on Charlie," Krycek said.

It was an uneasy feeling. Krycek was for me. The Brit had given him to me and I felt a strong sense of possession. If I didn't need help, I wouldn't have involved anyone else. I offered a spoonful of broth and Krycek took it. He winced and his hand touched his middle. I suppose he was afraid to eat, afraid he would be sick and probably afraid to pass any waste. Hey, I was taking care of him even if he didn't like it.

A missed spoonful of broth trickled from the edge of Krycek's mouth. He reached up to wipe it away, but whimpered in pain. I heard myself say, "Sorry," as I reached to dab it away. He had a lovely mouth even bruised as it was. I was careful and gentle. His eyes met mine, went soft in response to the kindness. I told myself he was only acting, but I wasn't sure.

It didn't take long for the liquid food to pass through Krycek. He grimaced in pain as the nurse tended to him. However, he had met the criteria for release. I pulled the car up as Charlie helped him dress. They brought him down in a wheelchair. I got out to help him inside my car. Charlie followed behind in his own car, a black classic Mustang.

The moment I stepped in the door, I grimaced. They had trashed the place searching. Even the couch cushions were torn apart. Krycek collapsed onto a kitchen chair as I searched through the mess. Finally giving up after I found my ripped mattress, I said, "We can't stay here tonight."

"I have a bed to spare at my place," Charlie said. "I can send over some of my boys to take a look at this mess if you want. Less you want to call the police?"

"No, I don't want to call the police," I said with disgust. I searched through the debris long enough to find some clothing for myself and a few things Mulder had left at one time or another. I supposed I couldn't keep Krycek naked as tempting as the idea was.

It had been a while since I had paid a visit to Charlie at home. We met for a quick drink often enough. He came to dinner at my apartment right after Sharon and I separated. Somehow I never managed a visit to his house. All I had known about it was that it was outside of the city.

It was impressive and different. Charlie said, "I'd love to tell you that it was all remodeled, but actually I only have the living room, the kitchen, two bedrooms and a bath restored so far."

There were scaffoldings all over so I supposed I believed him. "What was it? A nunnery?"

"Nah, private boy's school. A small one, very exclusive in its time," Charlie said. "I put my priorities on security first. That wall conceals enough sensors to protect Fort Knox."

Sliding the Mustang into the garage, Charlie smirked as the lights came on. He said, "Well, yeah, I did the garage first."

A Jeep occupied the other space in the garage. It looked well used and powerful. Good to know that we had a means of escape through the rough country that bordered one side of the property. Krycek had his head back. He looked totally exhausted. Charlie and I half carried him into the house. I took him straight to the bathroom as he had been complaining of a full bladder for about five miles. He leaned against the sink, legs shaking, and grimaced as a few dribbles of pink urine splattered down.

"Sit," I said. "Since we have to share a bed, you may as well as be clean."

"You're not...I hope you'll wait," Krycek replied.

"For God's sake, Krycek, if and when I have sex with you, it can wait for a time when you look remotely attractive. I don't go for the battered boy look," I said, exasperated.

"Okay," Krycek said, "I heal quickly. I'm good. Even straight guys have liked having me."

There was nothing to say to that. I helped Krycek take a brief shower. He pissed again and then wobbled on my arm into bed. I stayed up, in no hurry to join the man in that queen-sized bed.

Dinner was on the stove. Dirty rice was on the menu along with blackened fish. Charlie was a good cook, just as well as he had been divorced more times than I had dates. I don't know what it was about Charlie. He was always falling in love and he always seemed genuinely confused as to why his new brides left him. The fact that he flirted with everything on two legs and was capable on leaving on a case for three days without calling didn't strike him as a cause for divorce.

Whistling happily, Charlie stirred and turned. He waved at me, but was intently talking to one of his employees on his headset. From what I overheard, Charlie was discussing my apartment with the man. It made my shoulders tighten. I felt so violated and so helpless. Those fuckers did whatever they pleased with my life. I fought the urge to go back there. It would do no good and it was easier to take care of Krycek here.

Grimacing, I called Mulder. There was no response. He didn't have his phone on or had moved out of range. I called Scully, hoping that his cohort had heard from him. Scully said, "Sir, I was about to call you. The evidence has disappeared. The lab where it was is destroyed and the personnel are dead. They look as if they were burned."

"Shit," I said, breaking my rule about not showing my reactions to my subordinates. "Where's Mulder?"

"I think he may have gone to Russia to find the truth?" Scully said. "Sir, I think he is in great danger."

"Not the first time that he ran straight into the mouth of hell," I said. "I'll talk to you later. I'm going to go ask Krycek some questions."

The room was quiet. Krycek was asleep, a crease marking his forehead. His hand rested protectively over his belly. Conflicting urges assailed me. I wanted to leave him to rest on one hand. He looked as if he had climbed into slumber as a refuge from pain and fear. God knows I understood that. At the same time, I was angry that he slept after adding so much pain and confusion to my life and that of the few people for whom I cared deeply.

Finally, I prodded him awake. "Krycek, Mulder has gone to Russia. What will he find there? Will he be okay?"

"Uh," Krycek exclaimed, flinching back from my touch. He blinked, putting up a hand to ward away a blow.

"I'm not going to hit you," I said. I sat down on the bed, aware of my weariness as my anger left me. "Mulder has gone to Russia."

That made Krycek fully wake. He grunted as he tried to get off the bed. "They'll kill him. He'll never get out without my help. Skinner, I need to go to Russia. I have contacts. I can get help Mulder."

Gripping his shoulders, I pushed him back. Surprisingly, I felt that Krycek really did care what happened to Mulder. I said, "You're not going anywhere, Alex. You're too weak."

The first name left my lips, surprising me. I patted his arm and said, "Choose sides, Alex. Choose now before it is too late."

Shadows moved in his green eyes. I could see the workings of his mind. He was a bright boy, a chess player. Finally, he nodded and said, "I'm in your power. I doubt you can protect me, but perhaps if the Brit is willing to go up against Spender, I have a chance."

"Who's Spender?" I asked.

"The man who is always smoking in your office,' Krycek said. "That's his name. Maybe even his legal name."

Filing that information away should I ever have a chance to use it, I kept my hand on Krycek's shoulder, feeling the muscles gradually relax. I said, "What do you think Mulder will find in Russia?"

"I thought we would find the vaccine for the black oil," Krycek said. His eyes turned dark. "There's so much that you don't understand. Mulder is right. He was always right. I was stupid, but I paid for it. God, I really paid for it."

"Mulder is right about the aliens?" I asked. Krycek nodded. That sat sour with me. I knew there was a conspiracy, but I'd always assumed that Mulder's beliefs were based on delusion. I wasn't ready to buy into them just because Krycek was locked into a folie a deux with him. "There's no evidence."

"Plenty of evidence," Krycek said, sounding frightened. "If I had known, I wouldn't have worked for them."

"Can you prove they exist to me?" I asked. If there was proof, something I could see, something I could touch then I could believe.

Frowning, Krycek said, "Nothing I can show you right now. When I'm well enough, there are some things I can bring you to see." His frown deepened and he said, "It's too dangerous in Russia for Mulder without me. He's over his head. Can Scully reach him?"

"Not immediately," I said, "We can only hope that he'll contact us." I brushed my hand across the velvet nap of his short hair and said, "Go back to sleep unless you want something to eat."

The green look that crossed his face assured me that wasn't in the cards. I adjusted the blankets around him and said, "I'll try not to wake you when I go to bed."

Charlie and I got a little drunk after dinner. We didn't talk about cases very much, just about people. Hell of a lot of them gone by. I didn't like being reminded of how many had died of heart attacks, cancer, and strokes. We slumped together on Charlie's overstuffed purple sofa and found those few memories that were still worth a laugh after all these years.

My friend had huge hands; one of them patted my knee as Charlie rumbled, "What are you going to do about the boy?"

"I don't know," I said.

"Good looking kid," Charlie said. "Wonder if he goes for tall, dark, and handsome?"

"Hands off," I said.

Charlie's grin was challenging. He said, "Why? You have an interest?"

"Just hands off," I repeated. Let Charlie think what he wanted.

"We'll see," Charlie said. He grinned again. "Fifth wife left a bad taste in my mouth. Too much alimony. It's time to change my luck."

Rolling to my feet, I said with drunken dignity, "Time to go to bed."

I really thought I was being quiet; I caught the chair when it was only rocking and set it with great care back on the floor. His eyes fluttered open and Krycek said, "Skinner, help me to the bathroom please."

"Again," I grumbled, but scooped him off the bed. The old tee shirt in which I had dressed him had ridden up around his chest and the sweatpants had pulled downward. My arm surrounded the bare flesh of his torso. My fingers curved over the hollow of his back. He felt soft skinned, warm, damp, and I gave into the temptation to let my hand slip lower to the curve of his round ass. He looked at me nervously. I suppose I saw the flickering lashes as flirting. I kissed him. At first he flinched away then I felt his lips soften. I remembered that Sharon always said my kisses were sloppy when I had been drinking. I concentrated on a careful gentle exploration. He sighed a little and leaned into me.

Confused, I remembered what I was supposed to be doing and walked him into the bathroom, staying in calling distance until he was done. As I reached for him again, Krycek said, "Later, right?"

"Later," I said, and now I felt a sting of disappointment. He belonged to me, I thought. The Brit had given him to me. I turned him to face me and kissed him again, this time not gently. "He gave you to me, not to Charlie. Say you belong to me."

Eyes fluttered closed and Krycek said, "Yes, I belong to you." His eyes came up to meet mine, seeming to ask something very important.

"I'm going to fuck you," I told him.

"Yeah," Krycek answered.

"Not Charlie," I reminded.

"I won't do anything with Charlie," Krycek agreed. He sounded like Sharon, being patient. I' wasn't sure if I liked that.

In the morning, I woke with a cloudy head and a dry mouth. My stomach felt bloated and nauseated. Drinking is so much fun. Krycek was still asleep. His arm was thrown across my chest and his head sloped toward mine. His breath dampened my shoulder. For a moment or two, I was confused and thought I had slept with him...had fucked him already and didn't even remember it. I was surprised at how upset I was at that notion, not with regret for my supposed self-betrayal, but for not enjoying it more. After a moment, the events of last night became clear. I had only kissed him. I moved his arm and noted finally how bruised and cut the flesh of the delicate wrist was. What in hell had Mulder done to him before depositing him on my doorstep like a bedraggled mouse trotted in by a half feral cat?

I sat on the bed, holding my head in my hands. I sensed him waking. He looked at me with a great deal of apprehension. I growled, "Can it, Krycek. I haven't hit you since that night. That was just getting even."

His gaze remained frightened. Krycek said, "You were drinking last night."

"Yes, I was and I have the hangover to prove it," I said.

The flicker in his eyes told me the rest. Krycek had some bad memories of men after they had been drinking. I asked, "Who drank? Mother? Father?"

"Wasn't my parents. I'm an orphan," Krycek said. His face turned away from me and he stared at the wall. "I had a family assigned to raise me. They were bastards. He used to drink a lot and said that they didn't pay him enough to raise me. It doesn't matter. I lived."

Filing the information away, I said, "I've never beaten anyone because I had a hangover. We're even now, Krycek, at least as far hitting goes."

His eyes still wary, Krycek nodded. I helped him use the bathroom and settled him back in bed. I knew I should get some food in him, but neither of us was up to the struggle. I used up the remainder of Charlie's hot water, trying to steam the remaining booze out of my body.

To say we all spent the morning quietly was an understatement. Personally, I didn't even want to hear the sound of a hangnail drop. Krycek was dosed on his pain medication, slumbering in open-mouthed drugged sleep. Charlie wasn't hung over...the bastard never had a hangover, but one of his operatives was embroiled in a serious stalking case, involving a prominent lobbyist. He had gone into his office as I was taking a rare Saturday off.

Charlie came back around noon. He had left soup on the stove and I encouraged Krycek to get out of bed to eat some. He wasn't very enthused and he still looked like shit, pale with big dark circles around his eyes.  He went to lie down on the couch after eating half a bowl.

I was doing KP duty when the alarms sounded a warning. Charlie walked over and checked the monitor. He said, "Anyone expecting a little red head?"

Scully...I had let her know where I had taken Krycek. I looked to be sure and saw that characteristic scowl. She was tapping her fingers on the steering well and pushing repeatedly on the intercom. I leaned over Charlie to say, "Just a minute, Scully."

"Got to have some of that," Charlie remarked.

"She's more likely to bite off your head," I told him. "Especially right now with her lion cub in danger."

Wearing a suit as professional as she wore every day at work, Scully didn't look as if she knew it was Saturday. As I was barefoot, had not bothered to shave, and wore only an old comfortable pair of jeans, I was at a disadvantage. I said, "Let me go put on a shirt."

"Yes, Sir," Scully replied.

Scully perched on the edge of one of Charlie's scruffy armchairs; her eyes unblinkingly fastened on Krycek. Once I had put on a sweatshirt and shoes, I felt slightly less at a disadvantage

 "What's wrong, Agent Scully?"

"Mulder said that he would call in when he could. I haven't heard from him since he left Moscow," Scully said.

"There are few phones in that part of Russia and Mulder might not feel safe using the one available," Krycek offered.

Scully's expression didn't welcome Krycek into the conversation. That didn't stop Krycek. The boy never knew when to stop.  He said, "Get Marita Covarrubias here. I know Mulder was going to go to her for help."

"How do you know that?" Scully asked.

"He said something about her to me," Krycek said. "I think he forgot we were enemies for a moment."

"I don't have that problem," Scully said.

A hand draped gracefully over Krycek's eyes. He was still paying attention. I was getting a feel for his body language and I could see he wasn't relaxing or withdrawing from the conversation. Scully grimaced and said, "I suppose questioning Marita isn't such a bad idea."

"I doubt she'll tell you anything," Krycek said.

"Why would she tell you something she wouldn't tell me?" Scully asked.

"I know what to say to persuade her that she can survive by switching sides," Krycek said.

Looking at his bruises and his wan complexion, I didn't think he had much of an argument, but Scully stood up and said, "I'll bring her here, Krycek, but you better have one hell of a good persuasion to use on her. If you don't succeed, you'll think that was a love tap from AD Skinner."

Krycek had the nerve to laugh. Scully glared at him and I resisted the temptation to teach him manners with a fist.

After I helped Krycek back to the bedroom, I went back out to see how Charlie was doing with all of this. He looked amused and said, "That's a feisty little piece."

"She's one of my agents," I said warningly.

"You didn't used to be this territorial," Charlie said. "I think you need to get laid."

"That's your cure for everything," I said.

With Charlie what was the use? He just grinned and said, "Yeah, sure, it always works for me."

Charlie was an asshole about some things, but he'd give you the shirt off his back. He was right about one thing. I knew I was tense in part because I wanted Krycek. I wanted to feel him under me. I wanted to be in him, feeling him writhe, hearing his pants and sighs, tasting his desire for me. Somehow the frustration and anger made him seem all the more enticing. The only thing was that I wanted more than I thought he was able to give. I didn't want him to submit to me. I needed for him to want me.

Tense and worried, I went to take another shower and to dress in a suit. I didn't want to face this Marita Covarrubias in a pair of old jeans and a battered sweatshirt. I thought about the most obvious and easiest way to relieve my tension, but I didn't think it would help. I didn't want a surrogate or my own hand. I wanted the man who was burning in my blood. I wanted Krycek.

When Scully walked in Charlie's door, she no longer was the well-groomed professional that walked out the door. Her makeup was beyond repair. Her lapel dangled from her suit jacket, and I think one of her heels was broken. However, she had Marita Covarrubias dragging in her wake. Ms. Covarrubias had a long scratch down her cheek and a lip rapidly swelling. I gather she had not wished to accompany Scully.

Krycek's mouth puckered as if he was trying to withhold a smile. He said, "You shouldn't have resisted, Marita."

"What are you doing now, Alex? Haven't you pissed them off enough?" Covarrubias said.

The woman had an odd seductive lisp. It was almost a Marilyn Monroe breathy voice. It suited her, but not her expression nor the circumstances.

"Is there ever enough?" Krycek asked. He added, "I'm all tied up with a nice ribbon, Marita. The Brit gave me to Skinner."

The blond woman's eyes flickered to me. Her expression told me that she was thinking exactly what the Brit had been considering when he gave me my present. Covarrubias said, "That's not a way to persuade me, Alex. I seem to remember that we used to promise each other that we would find our way out of being toys for them. We promised each other that one day we wouldn't have to sleep with whomever they told us to seduce. I remember that, Alex."

Krycek looked at me and said, "I'd like to talk to Marita alone."

"I don't trust you, Krycek," I said.

"Look...sir," Krycek said. "You're my best chance for staying alive."

"Don't bullshit me," I replied. "I know I don't have the kind of clout to stand up to those men."

"The Brit might," Krycek said hopefully. "He's one of the ones who make decisions. If he thinks that we have a chance to fight them, he'll come down on Mulder's side. On our side."

Krycek seemed sincere. Of course, he was a good actor. I had been fooled one hundred percent when he had been playing FBI agent. I remember thinking happily that he might steady Mulder down in a way that Scully could not. So much for insight...

Still, Krycek might be willing to help if only to save his own skin. I nodded and gestured to the kitchen. Scully turned her frown on me but I shook my head.

The voices escalated in a few moments. Krycek and Marita were having at each other like warring siblings. I cleared my throat, mildly amused despite the tension. Marita's voice rose shrilly, "Brit whoring you out."

Someone had slapped the other. I heard the sound clearly. Scully's face went crimson and she rose abruptly, her petite body bristling like a terrier. "He's hitting her," she said.

I stopped her and said, "Wait."

Krycek's face was decorated with a red palm print when the two emerged. Krycek said, "Marita will help us." He stumbled as he walked toward the chair. I stepped forward and caught him. His head fell against my chest. I was holding him; he sagged into me until my arms surrounded him. He sighed as if comfortable and content. Automatically, my hand circled twice on his back.

Scully and Ms. Covarrubias were both staring at me. I returned the look with my AD face. Hell with them. I didn't want anyone taking a close look at my emotions, especially not myself.

Once Krycek was settled on the couch next to me, he seemed to recover from the dizzy spell. He said, "Charlie, Marita and I will need to run up your phone bill. We're going to stir up a few hornet's nest in Russia."

The next few hours were spent watching Boris and Natasha jabber in Russian and French into phones. Krycek sounded threatening and cajoling by turns. I was fascinated by all the twists and turns of his character that he showed. He could go from lethal and ice cold to oozing charm in the space of minutes. Marita Covarrubias didn't have the same emotional range, but she managed to convey that she was totally in control of the situation.

The pain medication wore off and Krycek refused Charlie's solicitous reminder to take more. His face grew drawn with pain and his hand pressed lightly on his middle. He was still having trouble with his bladder control. Every lurching trip to the john took more out of him.

You had to admire the man.  Krycek wasn't a quitter and he was almost as hard on himself as he was on everyone else.

Finally, Krycek let his head flop back against the couch. He said, "Nothing more to do for now. Either my contacts or Marita's should turn something up by morning."

Charlie said, "Then you can take your pills and eat some of my chicken gumbo."

One green eye opened and Krycek said, "Yeah, I can live with that."

Half a bowl of soup was all the man could eat. He drooped over the bowl, the spoon lolling from one elegant hand. His left hand supported his head. He looked like a tired little boy.

"Time to go to bed," I said, standing up.

Krycek didn't argue. He let himself be supported and guided back to the bed after another trip to the bathroom. He only wore the pair of loose sweatpants. I was tired as well and went to bed also. We lay side by side, not touching, like any acquaintances forced to share a bed. However when I woke up, he was curled into the shelter of my body, his warm ass providing a harbor for my tumescent cock. I was embarrassed at first, but some selfish part of me reminded me that the Brit had given him to me. He was mine. I could do anything I liked to him.

As I awoke fully, I wasn't very happy with my thoughts. I can't say I never paid for sex, but it had been a long time since I let an impulse drive me to such an unsatisfactory release. I wondered if I could get away with a trip to the bathroom to take care of my problem.

As I moved away, Krycek said, "It's okay."

I knew what he meant, but it really wasn't okay. I knew he was too sore to attempt what my cock seemed to have in its primitive mind. I said, "You're not up to it."

Turning around, Krycek let his hand explore my body, trailing downward until it surrounded my cock. He had a good touch, sensing from my reactions what I liked. Funny thing about hand jobs...when you think about it, there's not that much difference from doing it for yourself. Still, with the right person, it was exciting and damn good. Remembering to be gentle, I moved closer to him and claimed his lips. This time the kiss was less awkward. He had such a baby doll mouth that quivered beneath mine. I traced the outline of his lips until he let me inside. Our heads angled, breaths mingling as his hand coaxed me closer to the edge. My hand went to back of his head, capturing him. With every move, his eyelashes brushed my face. I could feel faint dampness and wondered if it was tears? It seemed possible because I could sense he was nervous despite the way he confidently worked my cock.

My free hand explored him. I was proud to remember to keep my touch light, but as I neared orgasm, all I could do was remember not to move over him. It felt good. Hell, the top of my head blew off when I came, but I was not really satisfied. I wanted his ass or his mouth.

Sharon had taught me nicely. The poor woman deserved a medal for working on my bedroom manners. As a lover, I had been a great marine when I married her.

Now, I knew enough to say, "Thank you, Alex; that was wonderful." I kissed his lips again and also his forehead before reaching over to get something to clean us up. He was partially erect. He looked like a wet dream, lying on the bed with lips glossy and red from our kisses, those sweatpants draped around his knees and his cock plump in the bed of black hair. I really just wanted to go back to sleep, but I didn't want to treat him like a whore. I reached to coax that stirring cock to full erection, but he blocked me with a wince. He said, "Yeah, later, I don't really want to come because I have a feeling that it would hurt like hell."

"Later," I agreed. I went to get a couple washcloths. I let one drape over his cock until the coolness coaxed his semi erection down.

"Shit," Krycek grumbled. "That's my life. I get the scene of my wet dreams and I can't do anything."

The pleasure that gave me was quickly examined and thrust away. I knew he was manipulative, but I wanted to believe that was true. When I returned to the bed, Krycek moved closer to me. I put my arms around him and that seemed to be what he expected.  Alex wiggled around into a spoon position and sighed in what seemed to be happiness.

"Nice," he said, "I like being held like this."

I nuzzled his neck and then, tired, simply took my puzzlement and confusion to sleep.

I wasn't very happy the next morning. First of all, I wasn't happy with myself. My first impulse was to take my anger out on Krycek, but that wasn't fair. He did what he thought I expected and I had gone for it without any qualms at the time. Damn it, at my age, I thought I would have learned not to think with that head.

To complete my misery, I encountered Scully and Ms. Covarrubias in the kitchen, making breakfast. I stared at them in shock. Charlie slouched at the table, reading the newspaper. He said, "Morning, Walter, sleep well?"

Wondering how loud I had been, I grabbed a cup of coffee and planned to drink it in my room. However, Scully shut the kitchen door and stood against it as if planning on holding me hostage. I sighed. God, it was easier to deal with Mulder in a rage then a cold and calm, but accusing Scully.

"What is it, Agent Scully?" I said.

"Marita told me a few things about the organization that trained Alex and her. They expect their agents to provide sexual favors to both people within the organization and people they mean to control," Scully said, her words full of loathing.

It surprised me that it shocked her. Hell, hadn't she heard of Mata Hari? Even as a young soldier, I had understood the lectures about not associating with the Vietnamese women. When my CO told us that they might trap us into giving information that could be used against US troops, it had scared the hell out of me. I had limited my endeavors to one visit to a whore before finding a buddy that showed me ways to relieve my nineteen-year-old perpetual hard on with him. The excuses I made up to avoid confronting my sexuality showed a creative side I don't often nurture. I didn't face the truth until the first time I walked into a gay bar state side, looking for a type of relief I didn't find with the good girls I dated.

Scully said, "It's not a good idea to sleep with Krycek."

"I haven't screwed him, Agent Scully. We are just sharing a bed," I said, quibbling in an almost presidential manner.

"Sir," Scully said, "Walter, don't bullshit me. You may not have screwed him yet, but I see the way you look at him. Don't you understand that it's a job to him? I don't think it's fair to either of you."

"Life isn't about what's," I said. "If you and Mulder could even begin to understand that, it would save you a world of grief."

"It's not right, Walter. From what Marita said, that man handed Krycek over to you as a sex toy, a servant, whatever you want to make of him," Scully said.

"I think, Scully, that you should just stop there. It's my business and I'm not asking your advice," I said.

Her scowl showed me that she didn't want to take any advice from me. I turned and filled a plate from the breakfast our ill-matched girl scouts had cooked. Scully finally decided that I was going to go through her and the door and her if she didn't move

Alex ate a little solid food at my urging. I left him in Charlie's care and went to my office to prepare to take some time off. As soon as I realized what Mulder had done, I had told the assistant director that I needed to use some of my vacation time. He was surprised as he had been urging me to take some time off and I had always refused. I hadn't taken leave since Sharon and I separated. Going away some place would have just made me feel more alone. I suppose I could have dated, but I wasn't good at relationships. Ask Sharon.

When I returned to Charlie's from the office, I found that he and Alex had gone out. I spotted them walking toward a cottage on the grounds. As I hurried to catch up, I heard, "You are the pretty one, Alex. When I worked for the bureau a sweet young piece of ass like you would have driven me crazy. I didn't make the moves on anyone in the FBI. I had enough strikes on my jacket, but I was tempted, oh yeah."

The arm that Charlie put around Alex's waist seemed possessive; God damn it, the man was mine!

A moment later I heard, "Yeah, that Walter Skinner has one hell of a fine tight ass. I've always regretted not making a try for it."

Alex laughed and said, "Yeah, I like looking at that tight end. I've been known to watch football just for a sight like that."

Feeling like an idiot, I yelled, "Charlie, I'm back."

Turning with a grin on his face, Charlie said, "Hey there, Walter, I was going to show Alex the care taker's cottage, but you're the one I really wanted to see it. It would make a good rental for you, a good place for Alex to live."

Uncertain, I approached them. I don't know where Charlie got the idea that Krycek and I were going to be picking out curtains together. I said, "I have an apartment."

Truthfully, I had never liked the Crystal City apartment. It had never felt like a home. I liked it even less after what had happened there, but I wasn't going to tell Charlie that I looked at Alex and asked, "You really feel well enough to go walking around like this?"

"I feel better," Alex said. "I slept better than I have in ages." His quick glance seemed to imply volumes. He lowered his eyes prettily and smiled.

Part of me believed that he slept better because he slept in my arms. The more rational part wanted to hit him because he was manipulating. I stuffed my feelings deeper beneath the AD skin. "That's good," I said. "You'll be more useful on your feet."

Responding with a dark look, Krycek opened his mouth as if to comment before his lips went tight in silence. Dismayed with my lack of diplomacy, I thought, 'You sure handled that right. Walter.'

Charlie looked disgusted, but opened the door to the cottage. "I lived here until my living quarters were finished at the main building. Just look around and tell me what you think."

The place was furnished as if for a big man. It had sturdy tables and cases already stuffed with an incredible array of books. Charlie said, "The couches are reupholstered. Comfortable."

The way Krycek sank into one of the two couches suggested that he wasn't as hardy as he had felt a few moments earlier. I looked about the cottage. The master bedroom really suited me, massive bed and all. The wood paneling had probably been lighter when it was installed. Now it was dark with the patina of age. It was oak, real oak as I could tell at a glance. I ran my hand over the grain and said, "Sharon would love this."

My wife, who was really almost an ex-wife, loved antiques. I liked the furniture that Sharon bought or at least I liked some of it. It's good to sit down on something that doesn't feel fragile. This cottage was furnished like that. I could be comfortable here.

 The big windows that occupied the east wall were interesting. I went over to take a close look and saw that they were older than the rest of the room. "These windows are really cathedral windows," I mused.

"Yes, worth something. I had an appraiser in here for the insurance. The architectural antiques alone made the price I paid a joke. When I bought the school, there was a mass of school desks shoved in the entryway. No one had bothered to move them. First thing I did was to sell them. They went for a good price too although they didn't look like much," Charlie said. He grinned that crazy grin again and added, "The gods like me, Walter."

"Someone does," I grumbled. Looking at the huge room, I said, "I might be interested. Buying though not renting. A man wants to own something at my age."

"I'd consider that,' Charlie said, "If I had a sell back clause in the contract. I want you living here, Walter, not some stranger."

"It's not because I want a place to keep Krycek," I said.

"Yeah, I knew that," Charlie replied. He grinned.

"It's not," I argued.

"Hey, I agreed with you," Charlie said.

There was a smaller bedroom too as well as a second bathroom that looked as if someone had remodeled during the fifties. I said, "Well, this will have to wait."

No one had tracked Mulder down as yet. Covarrubias showed up for dinner. She and Alex were in a huddle for hours. Finally, Alex looked up and said, "Bingo, got him, but it's not good news. He's being held in a Russian gulag, run by the Russian syndicate. They don't necessarily like the United States branch. I have some contacts, but I can't do anymore by phone. I have to go to Russia."

"We have to go," I said. "If you think that I will let you go off on your own to screw Mulder then you aren't as smart as you think you are."

I didn't understand why Krycek looked at Covarrubias and smirked. Charlie guffawed and even Scully snickered. I was half way across the room to shake Krycek before I replayed what I said. Shit!

"It's not funny," I said. "Now, if you all have had your joke, we need a plan."

Well, I should have expected that Charlie would want to play. Covarrubias pulled some strings to get us into Russia. Krycek used his resources to make us disappear as soon as we hit Russian soil.

Two days later, Alex and I were flat on our bellies, observing the camp below. Both of us spotted Mulder at the same time. It was easy, as he was the one being beaten with a whip. Alex muttered, "That damn mouth of his!"

"You should know," I said. "You and he are more alike than you seem to realize."

"Yeah, well, he looks like he's dying. We have to get him out," Alex said.

"No shit, Sherlock," I replied.

There was no point in rushing the camp. Alex said, "I can get inside. I know the commander. If he doesn't know that I've had my problems with the syndicate lately then I might be able to get Mulder out."

I hated the plan. First of all, I still didn't trust Alex. Secondly, it was taking a big risk. If the commander did know that Alex was on the outs, then any subsequent plan would be spoiled beyond the fact that we would have two people to get out instead of one.

The argument went around and around until Covarrubias said, "You can keep arguing until someone tracks us down. I know you don't trust Alex or I, but you don't have a lot of choice."

I knew how to calculate risks. That's how I had survived so far. I nodded.

An hour later, I watched from the hillside as Alex and Covarrubias drove into the camp. Both of them were wearing game faces. It seemed to take forever for them to disappear inside the main building. Charlie, Scully, and myself repeatedly checked our weapons as we waited.

At last, Alex and Covarrubias approached the jeep. It grated on me to see Alex lighting a cigarette for the older bald man who appeared in charge. Mulder wasn't in sight. I waited for the signal to set off the explosives we had set. Alex started the jeep and drove toward the gate. Covarrubias reached into her breast pocket and produced a white handkerchief, dabbing at her face. That was it. I nodded Scully and Charlie to be ready and I set off the explosives.

The camp exploded into chaos. I caught one glimpse of Mulder diving into the jeep before they drove off through the main gate, followed by a hornet's nest of pursuit. The first jeep careened off the road as Covarrubias got off a shot. Mulder was armed now too and firing steadily. As the jeep sprinted ahead, I set off the last of the explosives. It caught the nearest two jeeps in its blast. Several of the guards had been pursuing by horseback. The explosions set them off, rearing and bucking. The three of us retreated to our own vehicle and started for the rendezvous point.

An hour later, we huddled in the false bottom of a truck full of chickens. Despite the tight seal in the floor that was meant to keep our scent inside, I still thought I smelled chicken shit.

The lurching motion stopped for a long time. I could tell all of us were afraid to breathe. Our hands gripped our weapons. The men driving were 'friends' of Alex. I knew he was paying them, but I didn't know if it was enough to take the risk. However, eventually the truck jerked back into motion. In the darkness, I felt Alex's touch. He moved next to me and put his head on my shoulder. After a moment, I put my arm around him, leaned back against the wall and slept.

Because people were looking for us, we couldn't take a plane back out. We moved from the chicken truck to a cargo ship and spent the trip back in a hold. I was surprised that everyone kept their tempers in check as well as they did. I was suspicious of Mulder and Krycek. I had caught them talking in whispers, two dark heads pressed close together. Damn Alex was getting under my skin. I thought I would fuck him as soon as we were home. Once I'd had him I was sure that this ridiculous obsession would lift. I hated thinking about him all the time. I hated feeling jealous every time Charlie or Mulder got close to him.

Dirty, tired, and thinner, we landed in Norway. From there we were able to take a plane home. At the airport in Washington DC, Mulder hugged me before leaving for his apartment. "Thanks, Walter, for coming and getting me out. Good luck..." His eyes went to Alex and he said, "With everything."

Charlie had one of his men pick us up the airport. He said, "I had them clean the cottage for you. You'll be comfortable there. A little present for you to celebrate this fine adventure. Been a hell of a long time since I had something this exciting to think about."

Hell with discretion, I said, "Thanks Charlie, for everything. I want to go to bed for a week, but since I have to be back at work day after tomorrow, I suppose I'll have to be content with one day."

Taking a firm grip on Alex's arm, I walked toward the cottage. As soon as I kicked the door closed behind myself, I reached for Alex. I said, "You don't have to do this, Alex. We're even now. You and Marita got Mulder out. No matter what the Brit says, you don't owe me anything."

A sexy low laugh greeted that. "You talk too much, Walter. You know what you want and I know what I want. No more talk now that I can finally do something about it."

"I'm going to be the one doing something about it," I said, pulling him close for a kiss. My hands flew down the dress shirt he was wearing. Marita Covarrubias had gone shopping for him and apparently liked him outfitted as a fashion plate. I liked the blue denim and scruffy look just as well, but there was something about all those buttons on a dress shirt. It was like unwrapping a pretty package to get to the prize within. He managed to pull my sweater up and get it over one arm. I grabbed the edge of the garment and threw it to the floor impatiently. Alex's shirt followed. He kicked off the dress shoes and toes off the socks. I was quicker, shedding my shoes, socks, and trousers in a heap.

"Wait," Alex said breathing heavily. His fingers caught my briefs and dragged them down in a long caressing movement. His eyes widened with pleasure.

Ah damn, I had wanted to go slowly, but that made my engines roar. I finished undressing him and grabbed his hand, dragging him up the stairs. We tumbled into the big bed together, groaning in lust. I felt as if I needed to envelop him, be in him, on him, surrounded by him. I knew at the time that the fuck wasn't going to relieve anything. The bastard was addictive, but I needed him. God, how I needed him.

I kissed the hollow of his shoulder, lips flying along the collarbone and sloping toward his nipples. Before I could do more than kiss and gently tug at them with my lips, Alex pushed me lower toward his belly. I stopped to kiss the almost totally faded bruises before he shoved my head toward his groin.

"Impatient, Alex," I growled, but I knew how he felt. The last few days, constantly together with no privacy had strained me to my limits.

There was a momentary awkwardness as it had been some time since I had done this. I winced slightly at the taste, but then I took him deeper and he responded with a shudder of pleasure, I remembered why I liked it. It doesn't matter how it looks. With another man's cock in your mouth, you're calling the shots. I glanced up at Alex's face, which was strained in pleasure. His eyes were wide open and his lips parted in a sweet eager expression, like a kid waiting for candy.

One of his hands brushed my head. I tensed. I hate to be guided when I'm giving head. I don't like the other man holding me down. Alex didn't have that fault. He caressed my head instead, moaning, "Oh, yeah, thank you, thank you."

I wasn't sure how far to take this. Some of my partner's liked to get off first and be fucked later as they would lose their erections anyway when they were penetrated. Alex gasped, "Enough, I want you to fuck me. Fuck me, Walter."

His voice was rough with need and passion. Ah, shit, I had left the lube and condoms in my bag. I got up with a groan. "Be right back. I forgot the stuff."

"Jesus, Walter," Alex complained, but he encased his cock, squeezing lightly.

"Don't you dare come without me," I said.

His smile teased, but I knew he wanted the whole thing, wanted as much as we could squeeze from this.

My cock wildly bobbing, I hurried down the stairs; I just hoped that Spender didn't have the place bugged. I'd hate to think of the video of my frantic dash to my luggage cracking up Syndicate meetings for years to follow.

I had the condom on before I was all the way back in the room. Alex lay on his back, waiting. "Like this?" I asked.

"Yeah, I want to see you. I usually don't like it this way, but you...I want to see," Alex said.

His opening felt as if he had been working it already. Damn, I would have liked to see that. The thought could have made me come without even having what I had been imagining for over two weeks. I slid lubed fingers inside him anyway, contorting myself in an effort to transform necessity into an act of passion. His lips quivered under the kiss as if something amused him, but as I took his breath away with my feverish kiss, the smile disappeared into a lustful cry. He arched, his hand circling the back of my neck to keep me near. When we broke apart, I knew I had to move it along. Either that or I was going to burst.

I held him open as I slid inside him. I didn't want to hurt him, but I was eager. He wiggled and suddenly he surrounded me. I felt dizzy with pleasure. Our eyes met again. He didn't look away. He seemed to be asking me a question. Too bad I didn't have any answers. Too much thinking was not one of my problems like this. I kept looking at him, not sure if it was okay to ride into him hard. He pushed back at me with a moan.

Rocking with him, my mind was mostly on how good it felt. I think most of my brain cells were occupied with the small...not too small part of me inside Alex. My buddy used to say when he was seducing me that one hole was like another. He was a sweet guy and a good lay but he was wrong. I had wanted Alex for so long, a lot longer than my conscience wanted to examine. Having him was unique. He was perfect. He was exactly as I imagined, receiving each thrust with a groan of mingled pain and delight. If I lagged out of concern, his legs would tighten and drive me harder. I knew I was near the edge and I wanted to release. I had the discipline to reach for his erection. I wanted to take him with me, all the way, forever.

My world dissolved in a burst of pleasure. I was leaning back on my knees, panting, and conscious that we were still joined. I wished it didn't have to end. I could have fucked him forever. Finally as I slid out of him, Alex winced and said, "My legs are going to freeze like this and then what are you going to tell people?"

"Siamese twins?" I said. I pulled out, carefully holding the condom. He followed me into the bathroom.

In the shower, we ended up hugging. Just standing there, barely moving with the hot water cooling as it ran down our merged bodies. I kissed him again as I turned off the shower when the water became too cold.

We made love once more before morning and spent the next day resting. I didn't want him to get dressed. We had our breakfast like Roman sybarites then spent hours half-drowsing on the couch. I built a fire in the huge stone fireplace and its golden warmth suited Alex very well. I watched the reflections flickering in the green depths of his eyes, wishing I could trust my feelings.

Around noon, we finally put some clothes on. Charlie had invited us for dinner and Alex needed some more clothes. He didn't have any jeans and he could use a sweater or two. I wanted to get him something in a soft mossy green color. I was falling in love with his eyes. I wanted to dress him just so I could undress him. I wanted to buy him things and take him places. I wanted him with me all of the time. I took his hand before we went out the door and kissed him. I loved to kiss him. I could have done it all day and night.

When the door opened, the Brit was on the other side. He pushed inside without asking. I asked, "What happened to Charlie's security?"

The Brit said, "They are sleeping. I didn't harm them. I abhor unnecessary violence."

Turning to Alex, the Brit asked, "Where are the things you and Mulder took from the camp?"

"He didn't take anything," I said, drawing Alex back to protect him. My eyes quickly saw the flicker of guilt. I said, "Alex?"

Alex pulled away and said, "Mannerly, I don't have anything from the camp."

"Does Mulder?" the man asked.

"I don't think so. Christ, the entire place was full of guards with whips and guns. You people have been out of the field too long if you think we had time to steal the vaccine," Alex said.

Mannerly stepped forward and grabbed Alex by the chin with a pinch of his liver spotted hand. I saw red, stepped forward and grabbed the hand away. His guards took that amiss.

Hours later, I woke on a couch with Scully hovering over me. Touching my sore head, I asked, "What happened?"

"We wanted to ask you that, Sir," Scully said. "Charlie found you in the cottage after he found his men suffering from the aftereffects of knock out darts."

Sitting up, I looked around, dread settling instantly about me. I felt cold as if the air temperature had lowered several degrees. "Alex?" I asked.

Mulder was across the room. He said, "He was gone. It looked like there had been a struggle, but we weren't sure what had happened. If Alex had been a victim or a collaborator."

I felt like hitting him, but I knew I was angrier with myself. Why had I believed that they would keep their bargain?

Doubt assailed me. Had it all been an elaborate act? Had I been manipulated and led around by my cock? I felt sure for a moment that I had been tricked. Alex had left me.

Mulder read me. He said, "Sir, I didn't really think that. He's in love with you. I guess there's something I need to tell you."

I guessed that too.

"They said that you two took something out of Russia. Did you, Mulder? Did Alex know about it?" I asked.

"Hey, he more than knew about it. It was his idea!" Mulder said. He winced and said, "Walter, you don't understand how important this was!'

"I understand that you two put us all at risk without telling us unless I'm the only one who didn't know. What was it?" I asked.

"Alex and I thought the fewer who knew the better," Mulder confessed. He gazed over my shoulder and said, "It was another sample of the Tunguska worms and a vaccine."

The phone rang. I captured it before anyone else could get it. It was the Brit, Mannerly.

The man said, "You all seem to be gathered in one spot. Alex is being very stubborn. He says he does not have the vaccine and does not know where it is. I do so hate to be brutal, but Mr. Krycek is being very uncooperative."

"If you hurt him, I'll find you and kill you," I said. I closed my eyes, trying to fight the rage away. Now I had to face the truth. I loved Alex. It was more than a physical need. My body and soul ached for him. I don't think anything could slake my desire for him.

Mannerly said, "Tell Mulder that if I have the vaccine and the sample, I can stand up to Spender, the Cancerman, as Mr. Mulder so drolly calls him."

Turning to Mulder, I said, "He says he can fight Spender, the smoking man who liked to hang around my office and who was responsible for what happened to Scully if you give him the vaccine."

Mulder's eyes looked dark. Ashamed of myself, I said, "Mulder, don't make me lose Alex. I need him."

"You love him?" Mulder asked.

I nodded. Every eye in the room was on me. I grimaced. What the hell was wrong with me? If I had to fall in love with another man, why Krycek? Why a double agent who couldn't tell what side he was on from day to day without a score card?

"Let me have the phone," Mulder said. I gave it to him and he said, "What guarantee do we have that you won't just destroy the vaccine?"

Mulder grunted and said, "Forgive me if I don't think the word of a gentlemen is enough in your case."

Pacing with the phone, Mulder argued with Mannerly, trying to persuade him to just give Alex back, share the vaccine. At last, he appeared to concede. He quickly made arrangements to meet Mannerly at a funeral home. I hoped that wasn't a clue about Alex's condition.

Before Mulder went inside, I made sure he had a tracer in his belly where they could not get it out without major surgery. I reached for the man that I admired and who frustrated me to the point of tearing out my mostly nonexistent hair. I said, "Play it safe, Mulder."

"I will and I will bring him back to you," Mulder said.

Waiting was hard. Scully and I at one point ended up holding hands, sharing the agony of not knowing what was happening to people we loved.

"There he is," exclaimed Charlie.

Mulder emerged with Alex dragging off his shoulders. I was out of the van instantly. "Here, you go," Mulder said, gently transferring his burden. "He's been beaten and drugged, but he's going to be fine."

It took a long time before I realized that Mulder was too smug. Scully had finished examining Alex and pronounced him fit enough to recover at home. I sat in the back and held him. His hand gripped my arm tightly. He didn't want to move from my embrace and I needed to feel his weight, hear him breath.

Finally, I asked, "Did you give him the real vaccine?"

"Of course, Mannerly isn't a fool," Mulder said. He met Alex's eyes and they smiled at each other. "My partner in crime, Alex, and I knew that chances were word would get out. We both had containers of the vaccine and samples of black oil. Only the first set was reported missing. If they found out we took more samples, I don't think they will be eager to admit that we fooled them twice. Meanwhile, I've made arrangements for some renegade biochemists to work on the samples."

"You expect me to believe in all this alien bullshit?" I asked.

"You believe whatever you need to believe, Sir," Mulder said.

I wrapped Alex closer to me. I said, "I believe in Alex."

My lover touched my face before closing his eyes to rest. All my life I had been looking. All my life I had been craving something I couldn't find. I found it now. Alex was my addiction. Alex was my truth. He was the blood of me and the soul of me. I could live with that.

The End

Blood Of Me by Heather Nova

Big ring around the moon
It's gonna rain hard soon

I know you're gonna leave
It's like a storm inside

You're the Blood of Me
You're the truth that hurts
You're the memory
You're the drug that works

Why do people change
When hearts, hearts, still beat the same?

You're the Blood of Me
You're the truth that hurts
You're the memory, yeah
You're the drug that works

I don't believe you when you tell me
I don't believe you when you hold me
I don't believe you. You're my medicine
I don't believe you when you fuck me

You're the Blood of Me
You're the Blood of Me
You're the truth that hurts
You're the memory, yeah
You're the memory
You're the drug that works

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