Title: Innocents
Author: Peach
Email address: Peach1250@hotmail.com
Fandom: X-Files
Pairings: Skinner/Krycek
Warnings: This story contains a m/m sexual relationship.
Rating: NC17
Date: 07/09/03 - 07/27/03
Archive: If I posted to your list it's yours.
Website: http://us.reocities.com/peach1250/index.html
Disclaimer: The characters of Skinner, Krycek and the X-Files belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and the Fox Network. No copyright infringement is intended no money is being made.
Summary: What right did that rat bastard have to children?
NOTES: Elaine gave me this bunny. Damn her! Thanks to Zou, Amazon, and Finn for help with names. And special thanks to Ursula and Finn for the laughter and rewriting of my childhood icon.

***

Skinner looked through the pictures he'd been handed. The young woman was pretty, petite, blond, feminine; she'd look good on his arm, no doubt about that. He put it aside and studied the pictures of the boys.

The bigger of the two was holding on tightly to his smaller brother's hand as they waited by the ice cream cart. Both boys had black hair. He couldn't see the eyes well in the photograph but he'd be willing to bet they were green. Neither child seemed to look much like their mother.

Going on to the next picture, he was amazed to say the least. He didn't think he'd ever seen a genuine smile on that handsome face; smirks yes, smiles, no. Looking at the picture, he felt his anger rise. What right did that rat bastard have to children?

He looked up at Frohike. "Give me the gist, I'll read it all later."

"The woman's name is Summer Paine. She's an orphan, but some savvy lawyers who pay her bills and give her an allowance are administering the family money. She won't be allowed to take over until her thirtieth birthday."

"She's in her twenties?"

"Twenty-four."

"How old are the boys?"

"They're four almost five."

"They're twins?"

"Yes, just not identical."

"So, the Rat has added seducing young girls to his bag of tricks."

"Looks that way. Every time he's come to see you he goes there to see them. Normally, he stays a couple of days. And it appears that she welcomes him to her bed when he shows up and kisses him goodbye with tears each time."

"She's probably in love with the bastard. What about the boys?"

"He spends a lot of time with them when he visits. Playing games in the yard, taking them to see the latest kids movies. He appears very affectionate with them and they seem to love him. There is no sign that he mistreats them or their mother. We even hacked into the pediatrician's records. No injuries other than the kind boys that age usually sustain."

"I wonder what excuse he gives her for being away so much?"

"Women in love tend to put up with a lot from the men they have children with. You might want to be sitting when you read the boys names."

"What?" Walter shuffled though the papers in the file finding the copies of birth certificates. An explosive breath pushed out the expletive, "Fuck!"

"Yeah, my thought exactly."

"Maybe they're family names."

"Not any we found. Her father's name was Norman Henry. I suppose they could be family names on Krycek's side but I doubt it."

"But why the fuck would he name his sons for me?"

"Hell if I know. Why don't you ask him the next time he shows up?"

"I'll do that. Anything else I should know?"

"I don't think so. What are you going to do?"

"I have no idea. I didn't expect innocents to be involved."

"You know he might have genuine feelings for them."

"Krycek? You must be kidding. He's a user. There has to be some ulterior motive."

"We couldn't turn up any links between her and the Consortium. And he keeps everything concerning them way under the radar. We wouldn't have found any of this if Jimmy hadn't followed him the last time he was here."

"I don't buy the good father routine."

"We've set automatic tracking on them. I'll let you know if we get anything else."

"Thanks, Melvin."

They shook hands and Frohike left him alone. He looked through all the pictures, again studying the ones of Krycek with his sons. Picking up the birth certificates, he read the names once more, Walter Nikolai and Alexander Sergei.

What had been in the prick's mind when he did that? For that matter, why had he been stupid enough to have children? He knew how the Consortium used people's families against them.

He read through all the information the gunmen had ferreted out for him, then locked it away in his safe. It was two weeks later that Byers called him.

"Skinner."

"It's John Byers, AD Skinner."

"Hello, John. I assume you have more information for me."

"Yes, Sir. Summer Paine had a doctor's appointment yesterday."

"Is she okay?"

"She's fine. It appears Krycek is about to become a father again."

"What?"

"The report says she is about eight weeks pregnant. That would coincide with Krycek's last visit wouldn't it?"

"Almost to the minute. I can't believe this. The bastard is insane."

"Maybe he doesn't know. She wouldn't be the only woman in history to get pregnant without her partner's knowledge."

Skinner didn't want to admit that Byers had a point. The pictures alone had caused him to start thinking of Krycek as a person once again, bringing back memories of the fresh-faced boy who had come into his office looking ridiculously beautiful in the cheap suits. Then later the 'boy' had mutated from 'young and fresh' into 'deadly and sexy' in tight white tee shirts and black leather.

Away in the back of his mind was a small voice told him he was jealous – jealous because he wanted that fine body in his bed. He refused to listen to that voice; refused to admit that he wanted what he shouldn't.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was three weeks later that Krycek appeared on his doorstep. Skinner took one look at the man, stepped back and allowed him to enter without voicing his usual insults. Krycek looked at him with a puzzled expression, but sank down onto the sofa without a word.

"You look like you've been ridden hard and put away wet, Krycek. Want something eat? Drink?"

"Who are you and where is Walter Skinner?"

"Don’t sass me, boy. Answer my questions."

"I could use both."

"Beer? Vodka?"

"A coke would be fine. I have to drive when I leave here. Don't want me breaking the law now, do you?"

Skinner didn't rise to the bait, nor the smirk. Going into the kitchen, he grabbed a can of soda and took it back. Handing it to Krycek, he watched as Alex popped the top one handed. Without a word he went back into the kitchen and opened the freezer. Pulling out a container of his homemade soup, he put it into the microwave to heat.

As that was heating, he took the loaf of bread from the bread machine and sliced off several thick pieces. By the time the microwave beeped, he had the table set. Going to the door he called out.

"Krycek, come eat."

He almost smiled as Krycek slipped past him with wary eyes. Sitting quickly Alex watched as Skinner ladled out the soup. The aroma reached him and he knew this wasn't from a can.

"Smells good, Skinner. Did you cook this yourself?"

"Yes. I don't have a lot of time for cooking during the week, so I usually prepare several things I can freeze on the weekend. Soup is one of the quickest to heat. Want another soda?"

"I'd rather have tea or coffee if you have either."

"Am I going to need coffee?"

Krycek reached into his jacket, pulled out a slender case containing a CD, and slid it across the table to Skinner.

"Tell them the password is Sexy Lexy. I got it from a woman with the hots for that bald guy on TV."

Skinner got up, left the room with the CD but was soon back. He put the kettle on and pulled a variety package of tea from the cupboard. He noticed that Alex had yet to touch his soup.

"It's not laced with poison or anything." To prove his point he took his own spoon, dipped it in Krycek's bowl and ate the still warm soup.

"It's not that. I was taught that it's bad manners to start eating without your host."

"Ah, I see."

He said nothing more; just placed a cup next to Alex's plate and dug into his own dinner, as he waited for the kettle to whistle. They ate in silence until Walter asked Alex if he wanted more, Alex nodded briefly.

He couldn't browbeat Alex when he was eating as if he hadn't had a decent meal in weeks, while still exercising the kind of manners that Walter would have sworn he'd never been taught.

After they'd eaten, Krycek insisted on helping clear the table. Then he hesitated slightly and looked at Skinner with that puzzled look again.

"Guess I'd better be going."

"Is she expecting you?"

The response was quick, but the terror shone in Alex's eyes before he managed to cover it.

"No one is expecting me. I just figured…"

"I know about Summer and the boys, Krycek."

"Fuck!" Walter watched as Krycek slumped back against the counter.

"Where was your head, boy?"

"You stay the fuck away from them!"

Skinner looked down at the gun that had appeared as if by magic in Alex's hand.

"Put that away. I've known for over a month. If I had wanted to hurt them it would have been done by now. Enough innocent people have been chewed up and spit out by the Consortium. I would have thought you, of all people, would have known better."

Krycek's head dropped, he was unable to look Skinner in the eyes. He wasn't sure where the compulsion to confess came from, only that he needed to trust someone. Putting the gun back as effortlessly as he'd drawn it, he slumped back down at the table.

"Guess we're going to need that coffee after all."

Skinner nodded, then moved to the cabinet to start the coffeemaker. No more words were exchanged until they each had a cup of coffee in front of him.

"Who knows besides you?"

"Mulder and his geeks."

"Shit. They got the info for you?"

"Yes. You let yourself develop a pattern."

Krycek sighed heavily, then pulled a phone from his pocket and dialed a number.

"Summer, it's me…I won't be there tonight after all…I'll call you when I can. Hug the boys and give them a big kiss for me. I love you…Bye."

Skinner had watched him closely as he talked. Krycek had made no move to turn away. After he disconnected the phone, he locked his eyes with Skinner.

"What do you want to know?"

"How it happened, why, how you could be so stupid."

"That's it? You don't want me to spread ass in return for your leaving them alone?"

Alex never saw it coming. One minute he was sitting, the next he was on the floor, blood running from a split lip. Walter Sergei Skinner stood over him breathing fire.

Turning on his heel, Skinner stomped from the room. Krycek picked himself up slowly, walked to the sink, grabbed a paper towel and dabbed at his lip. When the bleeding stopped, he went to find Skinner.

Walter was sitting in his oversized armchair with a drink in his hand. He didn't bother to look up as Alex entered the room and sat on the sofa.

"Do they know?" Walter's voice was low and harsh.

"Spender and the others? No."

"How long have you known?"

"That you prefer boys or that you want to fuck me?" Alex kept his voice steady, no hint of innuendo.

"Both."

"Since the first time I walked into your office."

"Why did you name them after me?"

"I wanted them to have a link with you in case anything happens to Summer and me."

"What does that mean?" Walter gave him a puzzled look.

"You're a good man, in spite of everything. I know you'd never let them suffer if you could stop it. You've been listed as legal guardian should the need arise. The paperwork is on file with her attorneys as well as a firm they know nothing about."

Walter gulped down his drink and shook his head. "She agreed to this?"

"Yes, she thinks you're my half brother. When her parents died, she was sent to boarding schools. She doesn't want to chance that happening to our sons, so she agreed."

"Why would you trust me? Especially without my vow to care for them."

"I know you. You always try to do the right thing. You stand up to Spender as much as you can and still keep your job. Mulder and Scully may not know how many times you've kept them alive, but I do. I suspect you married Sharon to have a family, kids. I know how you treat your brother's children." Alex's voice was soft and completely serious.

"You think I'm that honorable?"

"Yes. Look, Skinner, I know this is a real bombshell. I never expected to be talking to you about this. I've made arrangements to protect them. Summer is young, healthy; this will probably never be an issue. And if there is any incentive I can offer you, just tell me."

"I suppose if I told you I wanted you to, how did you put it, 'spread ass', you'd do that?"

Alex's eyes never wavered. "Anything in my power, including that."

The two men stared at each other for a long moment, both searching for the truth in each other's eyes. Alex was prepared to give anything, including his life if that was what it took to keep his sons safe. He wasn't, however, ready to give Skinner the power of knowing that Alex wanted him. Walter was hoping to see some glimmer of desire. He wanted Alex in his bed, but not as a whore. He wanted him as his lover.

Finally, Walter's eyes dropped, a soft sigh escaping his lips. Had he looked back up at that moment, he would have seen the longing on Alex's face. But instead he rose and went to pour another drink.

"Just keep doing what you can for our side. I give you my word that should the need arise I will care for them as though they were my own."

Alex got to his feet, walked over to stand behind Walter, reaching out to place his hand on Walter's shoulder, he aborted the move when Walter straightened his spine.

"Thank you, Skinner."

"Go, see your family."

"Yeah."

Walter didn't turn as the door opened and closed softly. He spent the rest of the night getting quietly drunk and by dawn had convinced himself that Krycek had played him once more.

That weekend he started to watch Krycek's family. He learned Summer's routine, took copious pictures of the boys. And he prayed that they would never have to know the truth about the Rat who'd sired them.

A week after Krycek's visit, he received a thick package of legal paperwork, along with keys to several safety deposit boxes in various cities. He went over everything carefully. Every contingency seemed, to have been accounted for, including some scenarios that only Krycek and Mulder paranoia would have thought of.

There was even a stipulation that Skinner would need to submit to a blood test before taking custody of the boys. That was something the mother would never have thought of, but a knowledgeable triple agent would.

Once more Walter began to wonder if he was allowing the past to color his perception of the situation. A few weeks later he was to get his next indication that possibly he was.

Walter was sitting in the park where Summer normally took the kids on Saturday afternoons when the weather was nice. He'd made no contact; in fact he'd taken great care to avoid their even seeing him.

He saw their car pull into the parking lot, and was surprised to see Alex get out of the driver's side. As he watched, Alex's eyes scanned the park, a small smile appeared on his lips when he spotted Walter. He then opened the back door to get one of his sons out of the car.

Alex led his family toward Walter. When they got near, Alex flashed him that big smile.

"Walter, you're early. I hadn't even told them you were meeting us here. Summer, boys, this is Walter, my brother."

Summer moved forward and held out her hand. "Walter, it's so nice to meet you. I feel I know you from all that Alex has told me."

Walter gave Alex a sardonic smile as he took her hand and, leaning down, he brushed her cheek with his lips. "It's good to meet you at last."

The smaller of the two boys reached out to touch Walter's hand, and when he looked down, the boy announced. "I'm Walter, too."

"Yes, I know. I'm very glad to meet all of you at last." He waited to let Alex give him a clue about a cover story.

"Now that Walter's moved closer I hope he can spend time with you guys when I can't be here. Does Uncle Walter want to help push his nephews on the swings?"

"I think I can arrange that. Should I call you little Walter?"

"Mom and Dad call me Walt."

"Then Walt it is. So does that make you Al?"

"Dad calls me Sasha."

"Then Sasha it shall be."

Summer took a seat near-by and watched as the boys proceeded to exhaust the men. Walter insisted on buying them all dinner at a small café nearby. When they parted later, he went home experiencing a feeling that he suddenly realized was happiness.

During the course of the next three months, he met Summer and the boys at the park every Saturday afternoon. Playing uncle was not a new role for him, so it was easy to spend time with the boys. He'd found them both to be intelligent, happy, normal children.

Walter would have been lying if he said he didn't enjoy even more, the afternoons Alex joined them. He'd watched Summer's growing waistline and celebrated with her when the sonogram showed she was carrying a girl.

Alex was feeling more content as well. He'd seen the growing attachment between Walter and his children, and that eased a concern he'd felt since he'd first learned that he was going to be a father. He hadn't been happy when Summer told him she was pregnant again. But with Walter's growing relationship to them, he'd stopped worrying and was pleased at the idea of a little girl to spoil.

Autumn was fast approaching and the park gave way to a gymboree. They would also attend an occasional movie or Walter would have dinner with them. Alex was still showing up at his door at odd hours with bits and pieces of information. The two men were forging a friendship of sorts.

But all things end, and the biggest ends seem to come when you let down your guard.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Walter woke with a jerk, some noise alerting him to a presence in his bedroom. Light flooded the room as the lamp was switched on. The point of a knife was pressed to his throat. He blinked as his eyes fought to adjust. He looked at Alex sitting on the edge of the bed next to him, and knew in his gut that something had gone dreadfully wrong.

"Alex?"

Looking into Alex's eyes, he saw a man on the edge. And that edge had resulted in the knife held to his throat. He stayed perfectly still and waited for Alex to speak.

"Are you Walter?"

"Of course, I am. Alex what happened?"

In answer the blade pressed into his neck He felt his blood flow, the knife dropped and a towel was pressed to the small wound. It was bad, whatever had happened.

"She's dead, Walter. They did a Sharon Tate on her."

Walter held tight to his fears. "The boys?! Alex where are the boys?"

"They're in the car."

Walter scrambled off the bed, ripped Alex's pocket slightly in his haste to get the keys. He left Alex sitting there as he ran, barefoot and shirtless, to find the car. It was in a guest space in the parking garage near his own. Walter's heart was in his throat as opened the door.

Walt and Sasha were curled up together on the back seat, sound asleep. He managed to gather them up without waking them, and headed back up to his apartment. Putting them gently on the sofa, he covered them with a light blanket and went back to his bedroom.

Alex was sitting exactly as he had left him. Kneeling in front of Alex, he reached for his hand. That's when the shaking started.

"Come on, Alex, let's get you under the covers."

Alex made no sound as his jacket and boots were removed. He stood when Walter told him, then crawled into the bed.

"Stay right here. I'm going to make you some tea."

In the kitchen, he put the kettle on the stove and picked up the phone. It was answered on the second ring.

"Mulder."

"Mulder, it's Skinner."

"What's wrong?"

"I need Scully here with her medical bag and I need you to go check out Summer Paine's house."

"Shit! Krycek with you?"

"Yeah, he's here with the boys. He said they did a Sharon Tate to her, so I'm sure she's dead." Walter's voice was grim.

To his credit Mulder didn't waste any time on meaningless conversation. "Scully will be there soon. I'll process the scene myself."

"Keep it quiet as long as you can, Mulder. Call me when you have anything."

"I'll do that."

Walter disconnected the call and turned to make a mug of tea. Carrying it, he took a deep breath. Time to deal with Alex if possible, or just keep him calm until Scully arrived with a hypo. Alex was lying on his side in a fetal position, trembling so hard the bed was shaking.

Walter set the tea down, then crawled into the bed behind the shaking man and wrapped his arms around him. Alex pushed back, welcoming the safety the strong arms offered. Walter didn't expect it but Alex started to talk.

"I never really loved her. I wanted to. I really did. I met her at a bar one night and she was so beautiful. She invited me home and I went. I shouldn't have gone back."

"But you did and now we have to keep those boys on my sofa safe. Why did you go back?"

"She was fresh, clean, everything I'd long ago stopped believing was possible. I needed that. I never intended to let it go on. I figured I'd be dead in a year, maybe less. Then she got pregnant."

"Weren't you using protection?"

"Yes, but it's not one hundred percent. To be honest, I accused her of doing it on purpose. Her face gave her away, but by then it was too late to abort them. And the first time I held them, I was glad they were mine. Part of me felt that it was destined."

"She believed you loved her."

"Really? That's good. I loved that she gave me sons. I would have never mistreated her for that reason alone. But I couldn't truly love her. And I'm not sure why."

"Do you want to tell me about today?"

A whimper slipped from Alex's throat, so Walter tightened his hold. When Alex spoke again, his voice was dead. Walter knew that he'd shut down as much as he could to be able to relate it. Love or not, finding the mother of your children cut up had to be a terrible experience.

"I took the boys out to a movie. Summer had been tired lately, trying to keep up with two lively boys and being pregnant, so I told her to stay home and have an afternoon for her."

The last was almost a sob, despite of the monotone delivery of the preceding words. Walter held on, his hands rubbing soothingly along Alex's chest and stomach.

"We stopped for dessert on the way home. Her car was gone, so I thought she'd run out to the store. I set the boys at the table with dessert and then went upstairs, intending to shower. She ah - she was on the floor of the bedroom. There was blood everywhere."

"I'm here, Alex, I'm here."

Alex twisted; Walter released him, only to watch astonished as Alex rolled toward him, grabbing him in a full body hug. Alex tucked his head under Walter's chin and suckled at the flesh of his throat.

"Alex, what are you doing?"

"Please, Walter."

"Not this way, Alex."

"I need it."

"It would be running away. You can't have that luxury right now. You need to get it out so that when the boys wake up you can be calm for them."

Alex sighed, the warm breath sending a shiver through Walter's body. Alex's voice was soft but Walter had no trouble hearing him.

"You're right. The boys have to come first."

"Do you want to tell me the rest now?"

"Yeah, I verified she was dead, but didn't move her or touch the weapon. Then I washed my hands and closed the door behind me. I got the boys out of there and we drove for a long time. I wanted to be sure we weren't followed. When they fell asleep, I parked and got out to pace beside the car for a long time. I decided the best thing would be to bring them to you."

Before Walter could answer, the doorbell rang. Alex nearly levitated from the bed.

"Easy, boy. That will be Scully. I was afraid you'd need sedating."

"Is Mulder with her?"

"Mulder should be at the house looking after Summer. Do you want to come down or stay here?"

"I'd better come down in case the doorbell woke the boys."

The two men hurried downstairs before the bell could ring again. Alex moved quickly to check on the children as Walter went to open the door. Scully was neat, as always, no sign that she had been wakened in the middle of the night.

Walter ushered her into the living room, she moved quickly to Alex's side. "Do you need anything, Krycek? I brought a mild sedative with me."

"Thanks, but I'd better not, Scully. The boys might wake up, they've never been here, and they'll be confused. Walter and I talked so I'm calmer. He reminded me that it's not just me."

"I understand. Mulder will call as soon as he knows anything."

Walter spoke then; "Since we're all up might as well make a pot of coffee."

He went into the kitchen, leaving Scully with Krycek and his sons. She settled in a chair, watched as Alex sat on the floor by the sofa and put his head down next to the boys. Looking at them, she could see Alex in them. They'd probably be heartbreakers when they grew up.

Walter came back with a tray, coffee and snack food in case anyone was hungry. He touched Alex's shoulder gently. Scully frowned as she saw the look they exchanged. She'd known Alex was channeling information through Skinner, but she hadn't realized there might be more to it than that. Not that it was her business, but she didn't trust Alex any further than she could throw a Buick.

"Alex, do you want something to eat?"

"Just a cup of coffee, please."

Scully watched as Walter poured coffee into a cup and handed it to Alex without asking his preferences. Before she could ponder it any more, her cell phone rang.

"Scully."

"Scully, it's me. I need you to do something for me."

"What is it, Mulder?"

"I don't think this is Summer Paine's body. Will you get a swab from one of the children and meet me at the morgue to do DNA testing. I don't want to trust this to a tech."

"Why do you think that?"

"We haven't found a fetus, most of her teeth are gone, so DNA is our best method for determining if it really is Summer."

"Alright, I'll take care of it."

"How is Krycek?"

"Skinner is keeping him on track."

"If anyone can, it's Skinner. He's always been the only one Krycek really believed in."

"We need to talk."

"We will. See you at the morgue."

Mulder disconnected before she could ask anything else. Skinner was getting impatient.

"Agent Scully, what did he say?"

She turned to look at him and decided there was no getting around telling them. "He wants me to meet him at the morgue with a swab from one of the boys."

"Why, Scully?" Alex's voice was calm but the air around him throbbed with tension.

"He doesn't believe that it's Summer."

"Mother fucking son-of-a-whore bastards!"

Well, if she'd forgotten he'd been a marine, she certainly remembered it then. Alex just groaned, seemed to shrink as he wrapped his arm around his knees and dropped his head to rest there.

She opened her bag and pulled out what she would need. It was Skinner who lifted one of the boys and gently helped her get a swab. Alex never moved. At the door Skinner spoke.

"Can you leave something with me, in case he needs it?"

She nodded; placing her bag on the entry hall table, she quickly filled a syringe for him. Squeezing his hand softly, she assured him, "I'll call as soon as we know."

"Thanks, Scully."

She slipped out the door; Walter locked up and set the alarm. Alex hadn't moved. Walter didn't say a word, just sat down behind Alex and wrapped his arms around the still form. After a minute Alex turned to place his head on Walter's shoulder.

Walter shifted them around so that his back was supported by the sofa, Alex sitting between his legs and supported by Walter's chest. Alex's head was a welcome weight on his shoulder. They waited together for the morning, or news, whichever came first.

Neither man spoke of his fears. Another innocent, possibly two, maybe three lost to the machinations of the Consortium. Walter sighed with relief when he heard a small sleep snuffle from Alex. The boy needed rest for whatever the day would bring. Burying his nose in the soft hair, he allowed himself to drift off as well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At the morgue, Scully set up the DNA testing herself as Mulder watched over her shoulder.

"Mulder, tell me what you know about Skinner and Krycek."

"Nothing to tell, really. Skinner has the hots for Krycek and Krycek is in love with Skinner."

"Mulder!" Eyebrow climbing to her hairline, Scully glared at him.

"Seriously, Scully, that's it. Neither of them has admitted it, neither of them wants the other to know. I'm a profiler, Scully. It's what I do best. That's what I see."

"Why haven't you told me this before? I had no idea Skinner was… is he gay or bi?"

"I'm not sure how he sees himself and I'm not going to ask."

"And Krycek must be bi. Unless you think the boys aren't his?"

"No they're his. All you have to do is look at them to know that."

"They do have his eyes and hair, don't they?"

"No doubt they'll grow up to be as handsome. How long it this going to take?"

"Not long. Do you want me to do the autopsy?"

"Yes. The ME is competent, but he doesn't see this as anything special, and said he had three other bodies to do before this one. Whether or not this is Summer, I want all the information we can get before we talk to Skinner and Krycek again.

The machine beeped and started spitting out the results. Two heads bent over the printer as the paper printed out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Walter woke to the feel of a small hand rubbing his baldhead. Turning, he looked into the eyes of a wide-awake Walt. The boy put his finger to his lips in a 'be quiet' gesture. Walter smiled at him.

"Dad needs to sleep." The boy whispered.

"Yes, he does. The bathroom is over there."

Walter pointed, knowing the small boy probably needed to pee. He smiled as Walt scrambled to the end of the couch and down. Sasha silently followed his brother. They left the door open and he could see them standing side by side at the toilet. Then they both managed rinse their hands.

They came back and sat on either side of him and Alex, leaning close. The boys knew something was drastically wrong in their world, but the instincts of their father had kicked in, and they were acting on those. Walter felt a sense of pride for them. The three waited quietly for Alex to awaken.

It wasn't long before Alex began to stir. He was aware of the arms holding him; a man's not a woman's The memories flooded in and he moaned. Walter's voice immediately offered comfort.

"Morning, Alex. We've been wondering when you'd wake up."

He opened his eyes, and turned to see matching eyes watching him. Swinging his head, he saw the other set watching as well. Neither boy seemed concerned that their father was sleeping in their 'uncle's' arms. He pulled forward and Walter's arms dropped. Alex missed them right away, but his boys needed him.

Alex reached out to pull both boys into his lap, giving them a good morning hug.

"Bet you boys are hungry. Let's get up and help Uncle Walter make breakfast."

"Pancakes!" From Sasha as Walt yelled, "Bacon!"

"Uncle Walter wasn't expecting us so he might not have pancake mix."

Walter's voice rumbled. Alex felt the vibrations through his body where it still rested against Walter's. "I think I can manage pancakes. Give me a few minutes to go wash my face and use the bathroom."

Alex pushed the boys gently to get them up, then he rose and reached out a hand to Walter. Walter pointed out the guest bath the boys had used, and jogged up the stairs to the master bath. When he got back down, Alex had the coffee maker going and the boys were at the table with juice.

"You had orange pineapple, Uncle Walter. We love that best."

"That's good. Now let's see what I have for breakfast. Alex, why don't you go and sit with the kids, and thanks for getting the coffee going. Need my morning shot of Java."

They had just finished eating when the doorbell rang. Walter went to answer it as Alex helped the boys load the dishwasher. Scully and Mulder entered the kitchen behind Walter.

"Walt, Sasha, I want you to meet two people who work for me. This is Ms. Scully and Mr. Mulder. We need to talk about some things with your Dad. I bought a new DVD that I was going to give you this weekend, why don't I put it on for you to watch?"

The boys looked up at Alex and he nodded to them. They followed Walter into the living room as Alex offered Scully and Mulder coffee. No one spoke until Walter returned. They gathered around the table with coffee, Alex sitting close to Walter.

Neither Scully nor Mulder commented on the way Alex reached for Walter's hand where it rested on the table.

"The news is in the good and bad category. The dead woman wasn't Summer."

Alex squeezed Walter's hand so hard he cut off the circulation.

"Do you have any idea who it is?" Skinner asked, since Alex seemed to be frozen.

Scully took over. "Not yet, it won't be easy considering the extensive damage to the body. I know this won't really make it easier but she was dying. Cancer had spread through most of her body. Tox won't be back for a while, but she probably felt very little of what happened to her. As extensive as the cancer was, she had to have been on heavy duty pain meds."

Mulder spoke up then. "I've got an APB out for Summer's car, and pictures of her are being distributed to all law enforcement personnel. I haven't released anything to the press. I thought I'd let that be your call."

"Mulder, we know who has her. The questions are: why? And where? Don't give it to the press. That will bring out too many loonies."

Krycek's voice was grim. Looking at him, Walter knew there would be bodies, and he might just be contributing to the body count himself. Mulder was nodding as his mind raced.

"I thought that would be your decision. I've got the Gunmen checking phone records and watching for her credit cards to be used. I don't expect it, but someone might get sloppy."

Alex turned to Skinner. "I need to know the boys are safe. Will you do that for me?"

"Let me send them to my brother with Scully to look out for them. I'll go with you."

"I can go places you'd stand out, Walter. I appreciate that you want to help…"

"Alex, I've come to care for Summer. If I can help bring her back to her sons, I want to do that."

"Thank you. But please, I'll feel easier if you are with them. If you went with me and anything happened to us both…please!"

Skinner looked stubborn, but finally nodded. Alex was right; he needed to stay with the children. He might be the only family those boys would have.

Mulder stood, going to the counter for the coffeepot. "Okay, what's the plan?"

In the end, it was decided that Mulder would keep tabs on Alex via a button microphone, Scully would go work with the gunmen, and Walter would be available to relay information while keeping the kids safe.

Mulder and Scully went off to get equipment, Alex brought in a bag from his trunk, and Walter ran out to a local department store to get clothes for the boys. When he got back, he packed some things for himself and loaded his car.

Alex sat on the sofa holding his sons close. The two boys looked at their father with solemn faces, knowing that something was wrong.

"Your mom and I have to be away for a while. I've asked Uncle Walter to take care of you for us while we're gone. I want you to be good boys and do everything he tells you. He's going to take you on a trip. And I'll come home to you as soon as I can."

"Will you be a long time?" Walt asked softly.

"I'll try not to be. But I know Uncle Walter will take good care of you for me."

"Is the new baby coming home with you?" This from Sasha, who was the most excited about the idea of a baby sister.

"I'm not sure, Sasha. That depends on how long I have to be gone."

"We'll be good, Dad, promise."

"I know you will. Now I have to get some things ready to go, and I need a few minutes to talk to Uncle Walter. Go back in the den and watch TV until we're ready to leave."

"Yes, sir."

The boys went off as they were told. Walter watched as Alex opened the case he'd brought in from the car. He put a small tracking device into his prosthetic. At Walter's raised eyebrow, he explained.

"They'll look for a tracker. When they find this one I hope they won't look for any others." That said, he picked up a small metal button and swallowed it.

Walter reached out to help as Alex loaded guns and filled clips. When everything was as Alex wanted it, he closed the case and stood up.

"Want a quickie before Mulder gets back."

"Alex…"

"It wouldn't be hiding this time, Walter."

"It would be too much like goodbye. I want you to come back. They need you."

"I plan on coming back. Haven't I always?"

Walter shook his head and reached out, pulling Alex close. Alex thought he was dreaming, right up until the moment Walter's lips touched his. The kiss lived up to his fantasies and more. When Walter pulled back, they were both panting slightly.

"Come back to us. And if you still want it, then we'll continue this. If not, neither of us will have anything to regret."

"Keep them and yourself safe."

"You do the same."

Walter bent and kissed him once more, then pulled away. Alex called out to the children.

"Walt, Sasha, come here."

The boys ran into the room and Alex scooped them up. He hugged them both close, kissed their cheeks. "I love you. Be good."

He set them on the floor and Walter held out their coats. The boys put on the jackets and then reached for Walter's hands. Alex followed them to the door and watched as they got on the elevator. As the doors closed, Walter saw a single tear track down Alex's face.

Alex brushed it off, turned back into the room, putting away his fears that he would never see his sons or Walter again. He had a lot to do, things he hadn't wanted Walter to know about. Lifting the fake bottom from the bag he'd left on Walter's table, he took out what appeared to be a cap for a tooth. It fit perfectly over a molar that had been ground down just for this purpose.

Alex had every intention of coming back to his sons, but if he were captured he was not letting them make him into a super soldier or use him as an incubator.

Next, he removed a small tape recorder. With it, he taped a long message for his sons, telling them all the things he had hoped to say in person one day. He made a separate tape for Walter. Alex labeled them carefully before putting them in an envelope addressed to his attorney.

By the time he was finished, Mulder was tapping on the door. Time to get to work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Walter called Kim from his cell phone as he pulled onto the freeway. He gave her the story he'd come up with while planning with Alex and his agents earlier. As soon as he disconnected the call, Kim was filling out the paperwork for an emergency leave. She backdated it, signed his name with a flourish and hurried off to convince the proper person that she'd misplaced the paperwork. By noon, she had the official copy back on her desk and all Walter's appointments had been canceled. By quitting time, she had arranged to take a couple of days of vacation for herself.

Walter had purchased some coloring books, crayons and magnetic puzzles for the boys to have on the drive, but he was still amazed that they were so quiet in the back seat. He had allowed them to pick where they wanted to eat lunch and later popped a couple of antacids as the fast food burgers played hell with his stomach.

The kids had fallen asleep shortly after that, and slept until he was on the outskirts of his hometown. He called his brother as he maneuvered through traffic.

"Skinner residence."

"It's Walter, is he around?"

"Sure, Walter, hold on."

He heard the phone clunk down and footsteps walking away. His brother hadn't entered the 21st century as far as phone equipment was concerned. It wasn't long until he heard the sounds of his brother coming back.

"Walter, what's wrong?"

"Howard, does something have to be "wrong"?"

"If you are calling me on a weekday, at a time you are normally still at the office, yeah."

"Never could fool you, could I? I should be there soon; I'm getting off the freeway right now."

"Okay, we'll get the guest room ready."

"How, I've got a couple of kids with me." Walter had, without thinking, regressed to calling Howard by his boyhood nickname; Howard hated it but still allowed his older brother to use it.

"No problem, Walter, they can bunk in with Stevie."

"It'd be better if they are in with me. Do you still have that air mattress?"

"Walter, do I need to let the dogs out and load the guns?"

"How, I haven't kidnapped them. Their father sent them with me. If things go well, he should be coming for them in a few days."

"Okay, then we'll talk about it when you get here."

"Thanks, How. Should I stop at the grocery?"

"Like food is ever an issue here? Just hurry home."

Walter ended the call and a voice spoke from the back.

"Are we almost there, Uncle Walter? I need to go."

"Can you hold it for maybe five more minutes? We should be there by then."

"Okay."

Walter increased his speed slightly and pulled up in front of his brother's house in less than four. The boys were out of their seatbelts before he opened the door. He hustled them to the house, where the door opened before they were on the porch. As they headed to the bathroom he'd pointed to, Walter turned to his brother.

Howard Vasil'ev Skinner had been born late in his mother's childbearing years. When people had asked why he'd been named Howard, Walter had teased that it was short for 'how'd that happen' and then told them that's why he called him How.

He was tall and broad like his brother, but had managed to retain his hair later into his adulthood. He owned his own business that did quite well. He'd begun delegating much of his work as his children grew in order to spend time with them.

The two men embraced and then moved apart. "Walter, you look like hell."

"Thanks, How." Walter grinned at his brother.

Before he could say more, he heard the sound of small boys returning from the bathroom. Turning, he beckoned them to him.

"Boys, come here and meet How."

He smiled as they giggled. "How, Uncle Walter?"

"Yes, Walt, his name is How," Walter watched as his brother quirked his eyebrow. "How, this is Walt and this is Sasha."

Howard knelt to be at their level. "Sasha, for Alexander, right?"

"Yes, sir. Alexander Sergei Paine."

That got Walter another look, to which he mouthed, "I'll explain later."

"Well, I guess you boys must be getting hungry. Why don't we go in the kitchen and get a snack?"

"That sounds like a good idea, come on boys."

Walter walked behind the kids as they followed Howard to the kitchen. Soon they were settled at the table with small dishes of gelato and freshly made tea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alex was several miles outside DC, talking to a former member of his team, as Mulder listened in on the radio from his position down the road. He didn't even flinch when the screams started. In Alex's place he might have resorted to the very same measures.

When Alex returned to the car, Mulder silently handed him a handful of tissue and motioned to his face. Alex nodded and wiped away the blood that had splattered on his face.

"Where to now?"

Alex quickly gave him an address and directions. Mulder was a little surprised to glance over a short time later, to find Alex sleeping. Then he figured it must be the sleep that combatants of war learn to take as they can. He knew that Alex would not really rest until he'd found Summer, and maybe not even then.

It was midnight before he talked Alex into finding a room so he could at least rest himself.

"Krycek, you've had cat naps, I haven't. If I'm going to be any good to you, I need rest, and we need to check in with Scully and Skinner. Let's do it from someplace we can shower and grab a little sleep."

They got a room, and he went for takeout while Alex took the first shower. Coming back, he found Alex on the phone, a soft smile on his face.

"I knew they'd behave for you. They love you, Walter. - Yeah, Mulder's back with dinner. - Do you think that's safe? - Okay, I'll do that. - Uh, yeah, me too. – Night."

"How are things with them?"

"Walter says they were good as gold on the way there. He's having them sleep on an air mattress in the room with him, so if they wake he'll be there. He said they seemed to have had a good time with his brother's children."

"What were you concerned about?"

"He said his sister-in-law had offered to let the boys go with her to her school tomorrow. She teaches a kindergarten class, and thought it would give Walter a chance to see old friends."

"Skinner thinks it's safe for them to go?"

"Your boss pointed out to me that it's a small town, and strangers are spotted faster than 'a duck jumps on a June bug'."

"He won't take any chances with them."

"I know. What'd you bring us to eat?"

"There weren't a lot of options. Burgers and fries."

"I can eat anything."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Walter stuck his phone in the charger after talking to Alex. He felt a brief twinge of 'I shouldn't have said that'; turning to find his brother in the room, the twinge became full-out horror.

"How, I thought you were in bed."

"I was. Got a touch of indigestion and came down for a glass of milk. I think you forgot to tell me something earlier."

"Does that make a difference?" Walter waited to see how his brother was going to react to the change in his perception of his big brother.

"You're still my blood. But from what you told me, I think you'll end up hurt."

"Maybe so, but I have to take the shot."

"If it works out, he'll be welcome here."

"You're a good brother, How."

"I had the best big brother in town to learn from. You should go get some sleep, those boys will probably be up early."

"Yeah, that's a good bet. I made him promise to call tomorrow to talk to them. I just thank god I'd been spending time with them before this happened, otherwise they would have been even more frightened."

"I think you would have calmed them pretty quickly. Kids have always liked you. And the way they talk about their dad, I'm sure his word that they should trust you would have been enough."

Before Walter could answer, a wail sounded from upstairs. He took the steps two at a time with Howard hot on his heels. They reached the bedroom to see Walt hugging Sasha tightly as the bigger boy cried. Walter was across the room in two strides to sit next to them.

"Sasha, What is it?"

"He had a bad dream, Uncle Walter." Walt's voice sounded so grown up coming from such a small boy.

Walter scooted closer and wrapped his arms around both boys. "Do you have bad dreams often, Sasha?"

"No." A small hiccup escaped after the single word.

"What do your Mom and Dad do when you have bad dreams?"

"Usually they let us sleep with them, or Dad will sing to us until we go back to sleep."

"I'm not sure I can sing as well as your Dad. He's got a really nice voice."

Howard moved into the room then. "Why don't we get you guys back under the covers and I'll sing."

Walter smiled up at his brother and made room for him on the edge of the queen-sized air mattress. Walt let go of his brother and moved back under the covers, but Sasha clung to Walter. He bent to kiss the boy on the forehead, and held him. Howard's voice began singing the Russian lullaby their Nana had sung to them.

Sasha's head rose, he smiled at Howard, then he tugged Walter's head down to whisper. "My Dad sings us that song."

"Our Nana used to sing it to us. Try to sleep. I'll be right here to keep away the bad dreams for the rest of the night."

By the time the song had ended, both boys had drifted back to sleep. Walter tucked Sasha under the blankets and kissed each boy on the head. Howard watched quietly, thinking it was a shame Walter would never have any of his own; he would have been a wonderful father.

Howard and Walter quietly exchanged goodnights. Walter fell asleep pretty quickly once he got into bed. He slept deeply, knowing the children were safe and Alex would be safe, at least for the next few hours. He woke the next morning with two raven heads resting on his shoulders.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the second day, Alex expanded their search, based on information Scully had relayed to Mulder as they were ordering coffee at a Starbucks. The small farm Alex led them to late in the afternoon showed signs of having been abandoned just hours prior to their arrival.

The earring Alex found caught in the arm of the sofa was one of a set Walter'd given Summer for her birthday the month before. Mulder stood quietly as Alex ranted for several long minutes. Then the two men went over every inch of the farm, looking for clues.

Alex called a halt to their day around dinnertime.

"Mulder, pull into that motel for the night."

"What? You're ready to stop for the day?"

Mulder glanced at Alex as he stopped the car by the office. A slight blush climbed up from Alex's collar.

"Skinner made me promise we'd stop at a reasonable time tonight. He wants me to call when I can talk to the boys."

Mulder hid a smile at the idea of Alex being whipped, when, as far as he could tell, they hadn't even had sex yet. But Skinner did have a point, the children had been uprooted, sent a couple of hundred miles from home, with an 'uncle' they had known just a few months. They needed to talk to the one parent who was in a position to talk to them.

Mulder left Alex in the room while he went for Chinese. Using his cell, he checked in with Scully while waiting.

"Hello, Mulder. I was about to call you."

"What is it?"

"Summer's car was found. No sign of her yet."

"We found a farm house where she was kept for a while. One of her earrings was on the sofa. Krycek went totally Russian. I'm impressed with his cursing skills."

"Skinner's were pretty impressive, too. Where are you?"

"A little town near the Virginia border. I'm waiting for dinner. Krycek is at the hotel calling Skinner. Said Skinner made him promise to call when he could talk to his kids."

"How is Skinner coping?"

"Seems to be doing fine. Krycek said Skinner had been spending time with them. And his brother has a son just a little older than they."

As Mulder talked to Scully, Alex was having his own conversation with Walter.

"I feel so angry. We were so close this afternoon, Walter. She was there. Goddamn them for this. I swear…"

"Alex, you need to calm down. If you don't, you're going to make stupid errors in judgement."

"You're right, Walter. I just…"

Before he had a chance to say more he heard the sound of two young boys yelling, "Is it Dad?"

"Yes, it's your Dad." Walter's voice held laughter. Then a small child was on the line.

"Dad, we got to ride a pony today, and we helped feed the dogs, and went to a school with all sizes of kids and…"

"Slow down, Sasha. Leave something for your brother to tell me. You having fun at Howard's house?"

"Yes, Dad. Uncle Walter said we could visit again whenever we want."

"That's great, Sasha. Let Walt have a chance to talk to me."

"Okay, love you, Dad."

"Love you, too."

Walt got on the line sounding calmer than his brother. "Hi, Dad. It's really nice here. Everyone knows Uncle Walter and says hi and gives us stuff. This one lady gave us some really good candy that she made herself; it looks like quartz. But we miss you and Mom."

"I know I miss you very much, too. I hope we can all be home soon. I want you to keep behaving for Uncle Walter. He said you've been very good boys and that makes me proud."

"I love you, Dad."

He heard a shout and then running and Walter's voice sounding calm. "Boys, go downstairs with Stevie, he's going to show you the trains as he promised. I'll be down soon."

Alex waited as he heard voices calling out; someone named Justin was told to let the dogs out of the run. Then Walter's voice was on the line.

"Alex, I have to go. I'll call you back as soon as I can."

"Walter, what the fuck is going on?"

"How just got a call from a friend. There are several men in town asking about me, wanting to know if I have children with me. We don't think they have any information but we aren't taking chances."

"What are you doing?"

"The boys will be downstairs with the train; with luck they'll never even realize anything is happening. How's oldest, Justin is letting the dogs out. They have been trained to patrol the property, and anyone who has not been introduced to them will be taken down and killed if they try to fight. How and I will be armed."

"Walter…"

"I'd say don't worry but I know that'd be a waste of breath. I'll protect them, Alex. Isn't that why you sent them with me? Now I need to go, How needs help loading all those guns."

Mulder walked into the room in time to hear Alex's last words to Walter.

"Keep yourself safe as well, Walter. I need *you* alive, too."

"Hey, I've been dead twice, I came back both times, didn't I? And I didn't have as much reason to, those times. I love you."

Before Alex could answer, the phone clicked in his ear. He turned stricken eyes to Mulder.

Walter hurried to join his brother as Justin came back in from letting the dogs free. The four dogs had a large dog run in back where they spent a good portion of their time. Once released from the run and given the protect command, they instantly took off for the side of the property that was each one's area. Until called, they would hold sentry there.

Walter helped Howard load his deer rifles, as well as the shotguns. Justin could handle a gun if needed, but his father decided to send him downstairs to keep the younger boys occupied. When the phone rang, he went to answer it as Walter continued to sit watching the road from the front window. Howard came back and spoke quietly.

"That was Bill, a couple of strange cars are coming this way."

Walter nodded. Picking up a shotgun and tucking his Glock in the front of his pants, he stepped out onto the front porch. In a short while, the cars pulled up in front of the house. Howard stood in the doorway ready to fire as needed or support his brother in any way he could.

"Mr. Skinner, we've been sent by Summer Paine to collect her children. We have a letter from her."

The speaker started toward Walter. Walter raised the shotgun and pointed it at the man's head. "Summer was kidnapped, her death faked. Do you really think I'm going to believe you?"

"I assure you, sir, we are here at her behest."

"As I said, I don't believe you. Their father gave them into my care and I will not let anyone take them."

Guns began to appear in the hands of the men who'd exited the cars. One man, obviously less experienced or just too hyped up, fired. The shot sent a chip of wood from the porch column into Walter's thigh. Howard fired without thought, and the man went down. The others froze in their tracks.

Howard then let out with a loud whistle and within seconds four of the six men who'd exited the cars were on the ground, throats held in the strong jaws of two large Rhodesian ridgebacks and two rottweilers. Two of the four men were dog stupid. That left better odds.

The man who'd spoken to Walter looked at his men on the ground, then back up at Walter. "Mr. Skinner, there was no need for this type of ugliness."

"I agree. But your man fired on me. I have a suggestion for you. Go back to your employer and tell him if he wishes to continue living, he'd better release Summer and find a deep hole to hide in. You've crossed Alex Krycek, which means you've crossed the devil himself."

"He isn't afraid of Krycek."

"Then he's a fool. A man will do anything to protect his family. Now take your dead and get out of here."

The stranger turned then, and realized that three of his men were indeed dead. One shot, two with crushed necks from struggling with the dogs.

"Call off the dogs."

"After you get the bodies in the cars."

The two dogs whose targets were dead, turned at a command from Howard and took up positions near the porch. They all watched as the man struggled to get the bodies in the trunk of the car without help. The two men on the ground stayed still.

When the bodies were stored, Howard called to the remaining dogs. Both men jumped to their feet, rubbing bloodied throats as they ran to the cars. Walter and Howard didn't relax until after the cars were out of sight. No words were exchanged or needed between the brothers. Howard called to the dogs, releasing them from patrol to go for water, as he went to get something to cover the blood stains in the yard.

Walter headed for his phone, knowing Alex would be frantic. Justin was standing in the doorway to the basement.

"Why don't you go give your Dad a hand in the yard?"

"Sure, Uncle Walter. Can the boys come up? They're getting a little antsy. I think they all need to pee."

"Yeah that's fine. I just need to make a phone call, so stay with them until they go to the bathroom, and then send them back down until everything is squared away."

Justin nodded; Walter grabbed his phone from the charger and went into the den and closed the door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alex had been pacing for the last two hours. Mulder had tried to get him to eat, but had given up when Alex bared his teeth at him and growled, "Leave me the fuck alone."

When the phone rang, Alex dived across the bed to grab it.

"Walter!"

"Relax, Alex, everyone is fine."

"What happened?"

"The men who were looking for me in town must have gotten How's address from the phone directory. I know none of the townspeople would have given it to them. A neighbor called to let us know when they were almost here."

"How many were there?"

"Six, in two cars. They tried to tell me Summer had sent them. Might have worked if I was brain dead. I'd also seen one of them with Spender a few years back. I guess they are too dumb to realize that I've been trained to observe and remember."

"Shit, Walter, do you know his name? That might help us find Summer."

"No, but I can give you a good description. He's probably forty, pre-maturely gray, silver actually…"

"Fucking, Klein! I know just how to push his buttons."

"Good, because he's one of the ones who walked away."

"What did you do, Walter?"

"Me personally? Nothing. One of them shot at me and How's instincts took over. Two others struggled with the dogs, so either their necks were snapped or crushed."

"Isn't the place swarming with cops?"

"I made him take his dead with him. And you know they didn't stop in town to report us. After all, they were trying to abduct two children. Even if they had, considering the family reputation in this town, we would have been questioned and the matter dropped. Trespassing is still frowned upon in this neck of the woods. Shooting at FBI directors would be an act of treason as far as they are concerned."

"Hold on a minute, Walter, Mulder is going ballistic."

Walter listened as Alex relayed the information he had so far to Mulder. Alex came back on-line as Howard opened the door and entered the room with Justin.

"Alex it's my turn to ask you to hold a minute."

"Walter, we need to see to your leg."

"I'm fine, How. Get everything squared away?"

"Yes, and we need to take care of the leg. You aren't fine and if you stain that chair you can explain to your sister-in-law why you bled all over her favorite chair."

Mulder jumped as Alex screamed into the phone, "Walter, you're hurt?!"

Howard grinned at the chagrined look on his brother's face as they all clearly heard Alex's yell. Walter growled, "Big mouth" at his brother, before putting the phone back to his ear.

"Alex it's nothing, really. When the bastard shot at me, he hit the porch column and a piece of wood splintered off and hit my leg."

Walter grunted and glowering at Howard as his pants leg was slit, "I could have taken them off; you didn't need to cut them."

"Pulling them down would have caused more damage to the wound."

"Walter let me talk to Howard." Alex demanded.

"He wants to talk to you now, Mr. Smart Ass, I hope he yells at you." Walter held out the phone, and Howard took it while telling Justin to call the doctor.

"Hello, Alex."

"He needs a doctor?"

"He's going to be fine, Alex. It's a pretty good size chunk of wood. When it comes out, he's going to need stitches and it's going to hurt like hell once the adrenaline wears off. But he's in no danger of dropping dead or being unable to care for the boys."

"You're sure?"

"Very sure. I wouldn't take a chance with my brother's life."

"He always says he's fine even when he isn't."

"Yeah, I know. Maybe you can break him of that habit. I'm going to put him back on the phone. The doctor will be here soon and he'll need to hang up then."

Holding out the phone to Walter, Howard told him, "I'm going to go set up the kitchen table, Harry will want you under good light."

Walter took a deep breath before he put the phone back to his ear.

"Alex, we don't have too much time, Harry is only a few miles away."

"I'm so sorry, Walter."

"For what? I love those boys, Alex. I would stand between them and danger for that alone. No reason for you to feel any guilt."

"I should have disappeared when I found out she was pregnant. If I had, she'd be safe at home, you wouldn't be bleeding, and Howard wouldn't have blood on his hands."

Alex looked up as Mulder's hand gripped his shoulder. Mulder's head shaking coincided perfectly with Walter's reply, "No, Alex, boys need a father and they couldn't have a more loving one. I've seen that with my own eyes. As for Howard, he was defending me, he won't lose any sleep over what he had to do."

"I'll never be able to thank you, all of you, enough."

"Don't be getting all depressed Russian on me. I want you to eat a good dinner and sleep. Tomorrow you're going to find her. I know it."

"Mulder is rubbing off on you." Alex smiled at the raised eyebrow Mulder shot his way.

"Worse things could happen. I hear Harry's truck. I'll talk to you soon."

"Tomorrow."

The phone clicked and Alex turned to give Mulder a report. Walter sat for a long minute after he disconnected before getting slowly to his feet. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, he was feeling the pain.

The jagged piece of wood was a good two inches across. He was pretty sure he was going to bleed like crazy when Harry took it out. And he knew that if Alex ever saw the scar, he'd be royally pissed at Walter and Howard for understating the injury.

Harry was scrubbing his hands when Walter entered the kitchen. He grinned over his shoulder.

"I hear some city slicker thought he could outdraw a Skinner."

Walter laughed as Howard reached out to help him get up on the table. "Howard, cut those pants completely off. Need room to work. This would be easier at the hospital."

"Harry, I told you there ain't a hope in hell of getting him to go there."

"Stubborn, just like your father."

"I've missed you too, Harry." Walter chuckled as his brother's knife made fast work of his jeans, leaving him in briefs and a flannel shirt.

Harry looked at the hunk of wood as he pulled on gloves and prepared a shot of novocaine. "Howard, better get some more towels, that's going to bleed like crazy when I pull that wood out, and we need to let it. I'm pretty sure at least a few coats of the paint on that old porch were lead based."

Howard nodded and headed off to get clean towels. By the time he returned, the novocaine had started working. Harry grasped the protruding end and worked it out as carefully as possible. He let the blood flow for a full minute before he flooded the wound with a disinfectant.

"Walter, you're going to have a damn big scar."

The kitchen was silent as Harry repaired Walter's leg. By the time Camilla got home from her PTA meeting, the bloody towels were soaking in the washer and dinner was almost ready. That night, Walter didn't bother putting the boys to bed on the air mattress; he just allowed them to get in the big bed with him, but put them both on the side away from his injury.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mulder woke the next morning to find Alex gone and a note on the bedside table.

Mulder,

You can't be involved in what I need to do today. As soon as I have a location on Summer, I'll call you. If things don't go well, tell Walter my lawyer has a tape for him. I know I can trust you and Scully to take care of him.

Krycek


Alex had headed for an address in Maryland. There was one person in the world who was important enough to Klein to make him forget his loyalty to Spender, or whoever was pulling his strings currently.

Alex felt like Richard Widmark in "Kiss of Death" as he terrorized Klein's wife into calling him to come home. Luckily, Klein caved in before Alex was forced to do something that would make facing family difficult afterward. Although, he would have carried out his threat and borne the burden to save Summer.

As he got into the car and headed toward his destination, he called Mulder.

"Krycek, Skinner is going to be pissed when he finds out that you ditched me."

"Well, he can whip my ass after Summer is safe. Where are you?"

"Scully and I are with the Gunmen. They were trying to track your cell phone."

"Then you can meet me. She's being held in Arlington."

"Scully, let's go."

"Mulder are you sure you want to bring her."

"I'm going to do you a huge favor, Krycek. I'm not going to repeat that. I think one ass whipping is about all you can take. Give me the address."

Alex rattled it off to him, then switched off the phone. As he got closer to the address, he turned it back on to call Skinner.

"Alex, you have news?"

"We know where she is and we're on our way there. I needed to hear your voice."

"You be careful."

"I will. This is too important and someone keeps telling me he wants me alive."

"Best listen to him. Believe me you don't want to piss him off."

"Why? Think he might follow me to hell just so he could kick my ass?"

"I know he would."

"I'm almost there, need to rendezvous with Mulder. I'll call you later."

"I'll be here."

Neither said goodbye, or the far more important words they both thought. Maybe it was superstition, maybe just men being men. Walter paced until his leg gave out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mulder and Scully listened as Alex laid out his plan. Mulder had taken the time to get the Gunmen to locate floor plans for the tract houses to which the address had led. They had lucked out in that the builder had only used three lay-outs and the outside of the house would tell them which it was.

"This is a big help, Mulder. Be sure and thank them for me."

"I'll do that. I still think I should go with you."

"Please, Mulder. Anything you don't see, you can't testify about."

"Anything happens to you, and I have to explain it to Skinner."

"No you won't. He'll never ask."

"You're wrong about that. But we'll play it your way. What will you use as a signal?"

"I'll just yell for you."

Mulder nodded, and watched as Alex moved purposefully away from them.

"Mulder, you know this is going to get nasty."

"I know. If you want to leave, you can."

Scully looked at her partner, searching his eyes. A sigh escaped her lips; one sin to confess was looming in her future, only this time the sin would be committed for two young boys and their mother.

Alex circled carefully around the house when he reached it. The house was like all the other single story houses on the block: bland and nondescript. Alex peeked into the kitchen, to find it empty. He gained entrance quite easily.

As he moved slowly through the hallway, he came upon the first man exiting the bathroom. The kill was swift and silent; he lowered the body silently to the floor and continued down the hallway. The second man was dispatched just as silently as he sat reading in the living room.

Alex made note that Spender needed to upgrade his staff. He would never have been caught sitting in a chair with his back exposed to the doorway. Going back to the hallway, he opened the first door on an empty room. The second room contained a sleeping guard, one that would never wake again.

He couldn't believe the lack of readiness on their part. Did they honestly believe that no one would find them? Or was it possible he was in the wrong place? He opened the third bedroom door slowly. Before it was completely open, he saw her lying on the bed.

Then he made a stupid rookie mistake; hurrying to her side, he felt for her pulse. The blow came from the left, and he slumped to the floor.

"Stupid mistake, Krycek."

Down the street, Mulder grimaced as he heard the man's voice. Scully watched as Mulder threw open the door of the car. Because her legs were shorter he beat her to the house by a good half block. He circled to the kitchen door, gaining entrance as Alex had.

When he reached the bedroom, he found the man looming over Alex, slapping him and calling his name.

"Krycek, wake up. I want to watch your eyes when I kill her."

That was enough to cause Mulder to act. He aimed for the shoulder of the man's gun hand, and fired. Scully got to the house just as Mulder shot the kidnapper. As she came into the room, she found Mulder standing over the man he'd shot. Krycek was still out of it, lying on the floor cuffed.

"Scully, check on Summer first."

Mulder pulled out his phone to dial for help. The man he'd shot started screaming for a doctor. His screams were ignored as Scully bent over Summer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It had been hours since Alex had called. Howard and Camilla had taken the boys out for the afternoon. They all felt that it was better if Walt and Sasha didn't see Walter's agitation.

When his phone finally rang, he jumped a foot into the air, landing with a curse as he jogged his injured leg.

"Alex?"

"No it's me, Mulder."

"Is he dead?"

"No, he's going to be fine. He has a concussion, but other than that he's okay."

"Did you find Summer?"

"Yes, she's been drugged. We're at the hospital. They're monitoring the baby and she seems to be all right. They won't know for certain if any permanent damage has been done to them until they get back the test results. But they're both still alive."

"Damage?"

"Three dead, a third I had to shoot to protect them, but he'll live to stand trial."

"He's with her?"

"Yes, he asked me to call so you would stop pacing."

"Had to stop that hours ago, my leg was hurting. Look after them and call me when you have more news. Tell Alex I'll bring the boys back tomorrow, if he wants."

"I'll give him the message, but it might be better to stay there until Summer is awake and better."

"You might be right. Keep me posted."

"I will, Sir."

Well, it had been a nice dream while it lasted, Walter thought, as he hobbled into the kitchen to get a cup of tea and another painkiller. But he had no reason to be angry; he hadn't been promised anything. And he couldn't, wouldn't, expect Alex to turn his back on Summer and the children. He was the interloper.

Part of him was glad that he hadn't taken Alex up on his offer. He wouldn't have to spend the rest of his life missing that. But another part was sad that he'd given up his only chance of knowing what the beautiful man was like writhing in pleasure.

By the time Howard, Camilla and the boys got home, the pain pill had kicked in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alex sat next to Summer, her hand lying limp in his. He wanted to talk to Walter but didn't dare call from her room. She might wake, and he didn't want to risk her hearing the tone he knew was in his voice when he spoke to Walter now.

Walter had said the words to him. The words Alex had never thought to hear from Skinner. And Skinner had watched over his sons, kept them safe.

He knew Walter would consider it his place to be right where he was at that moment. Until he knew Summer and his daughter were out of danger, he wouldn't leave the room. So anything he wanted to say to Walter would have to wait.

It was late evening when she woke. Her first reaction was panic. Alex ended up on the bed next to her, holding her tightly until the shaking stopped. When she finally slipped into a natural sleep, he slipped out into the hospital courtyard to call Walter.

"Alex?"

"Yes, it's me. Did Mulder call you?"

"Yes, he's called twice. I'm glad they're going to be alright, Alex."

"The doctor is going to release her tomorrow if her vitals stay stable. I've arranged for the Gunmen to beef up security at the house. We've also hired a private security firm to have onsite presence."

"When would you like me to bring the boys home?"

"Walter – we need to talk."

"Not really, Alex. Your family has to come first. I understand that completely. You do what you need to do for them."

Alex didn't know what to say at that point. Had Walter changed his mind? Could his love be that fleeting? Or was he just protecting his heart?

"Will you bring them home day after tomorrow?"

"Of course, whenever you want."

"We *are* going to talk."

"I'll see you then."

Walter disconnected before Alex could say anything else. Turning his phone off, he headed up to bed. He smiled at the boys as he changed into his pj pants in the near dark room. The circumstances had been less than ideal, but he had enjoyed his time here with them. He slipped into the bed without waking them, and let his latest pain med take him down into sleep.

Alex made sure the guard at Summer's room had his cell number, and then he left the hospital. One more detail to take care of and then he could rest.

The man thought his house was secure. He never counted on a pissed off former Consortium member wanting him dead. When his body was found, Alex's message was clearly understood by the remaining members.

If they wanted Alex Krycek, they had better go after him and leave his family alone. One of the younger members asked, "Who does he think he is Keyser Soze?"

The answer was so obvious no one replied.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Walter and the children had an uneventful trip home. Alex had insisted that he must come in so that Summer could thank him for looking after the children. The boys had run ahead and were chattering away to their Mom. She smiled and held on to them as she listened.

Walter waited until they ran down and she turned to look at him.

"Thank you, Walter, for looking out for them. It sounds like Uncle Walter knows the best spot for a vacation."

"Walt, Sasha, let's go get your mother a cool drink and let her talk to Uncle Walter for a while."

The boys left with Alex, and Walter sat next to her when she patted the edge of the bed.

"You look good. No After-effects?"

"I'm still really tired. But then I was tired before it happened. Alex says he wouldn't have made it if not for you and your agents. Will you thank them for me?"

"Yes, of course."

She reached out her hand, and Walter held it until she fell asleep. He placed it carefully on the bed before leaving the room. Alex was on his way up the stairs with a glass of juice.

"She's asleep. I thought it was a good time for me to go."

"You could stay for dinner."

"I don't think so. The drive was hard on my leg. I just want to go home and rest it."

"I'll walk out with you."

Alex left the glass of juice on the small table on the landing, and reached to take Walter's arm. Walter wanted to shake him off, but allowed him to help. The hours in the car really had been difficult. Neither spoke until they reached the car.

"Give me a few days for them all to settle down and I'll come see you."

"No need. You have a family to care for. But I would like to see the baby when she's born."

Alex grabbed Walter's hand, "I said when things are calm I'll come over and we'll talk. You aren't running away from me."

"I'll be here for the children whenever they need me, Alex. But you owe me nothing."

"You are such a stubborn ass. Go home and tell yourself this is over. I'll prove you wrong."

Walter's hand dropped and he got into his car. Alex stepped back and watched as Walter pulled out of the driveway.

Walter drove home slowly, back to his lonely life.

He was completely prepared for things to go back to the way they had been: being 'Uncle Walter' to the boys, and the new daughter when she was born; Alex showing up with information when he had it.

One thing had changed. Alex called him every day and invited him to come by for dinner. He found excuse after excuse. At first, it was his leg, and that was partially true. It wasn't healing as quickly as he'd hoped. He'd ended up taking the strongest antibiotic on the market, as well as having surgery to remove a small sliver of wood that Harry hadn't found, because Walter wouldn't go to the hospital for surgery.

Mulder called Alex to tell him about the surgery, and when Walter woke, Alex was by his bed.

"You are in so much trouble, Walter. Why didn't you let me know this was happening?"

"I told you my leg was still bothering me."

"Bothering is a hell of a lot different from needing to be cut open. I talked to Howard this afternoon, so don't even bother to try and lie to me. You should have let them take you to the hospital."

"I was afraid those men might come back. And I had the boys to look after."

"Howard is obviously competent enough to look after them for a few hours. The surgery would have been much easier then."

"They were in my care. You entrusted them to me. I would do it the same way again, even knowing what I know now. Go home to your family, Alex. I'm going to be fine."

Walter turned as far away as was possible with an IV line and foley connected to him. Alex realized he wouldn't be getting anywhere right then, so he turned and left the room. Mulder was coming down the hallway.

"Being a jackass, is he?"

"Yeah."

"He's trying to be noble."

"Noble? How does pushing me away make him noble?"

"He doesn't want to be a home wrecker."

Alex's eyes stopped flashing with anger as he took that in. He nodded briefly and turned to leave. He had some serious thinking to do. If Mulder was right, Walter wanted more that a quick fuck. And when he'd said I love you, it had been genuine, not just an attempt to make him feel good because he might get killed.

When Walter returned home from the hospital, the calls resumed. So did his excuses. Alex became increasingly more irritated. He began to think he'd have to go and park himself on Walter's welcome mat to have more than a ten-minute conversation.

The holidays were approaching and Alex was determined to get things settled with Walter. Summer was no longer worried when he left the house, and she had invited an old college friend to come visit for Thanksgiving week.

Alex blackmailed Walter into eating Thanksgiving dinner with them by having Walt call to ask him. He might have been able to say no to Alex, but he was putty in the hands of a five-year-old with a mission. And after almost two months of not seeing their favorite uncle, both boys wanted him there.

Walter showed up on time and the boys immediately hauled him up to the playroom to see the trains Walter had sent for their fifth birthday. Alex had used a piece of plywood to mount them on. He happily got down on the floor with them and played until they were called for dinner.

Walter politely ignored the flirtation of Summer's girlfriend during dinner. He was much too old for her, even if he'd been interested in trying to go straight. After dinner, he watched a new DVD with the boys, and then read them a story before tucking them in.

As he made his way back downstairs, he heard Summer's friend Kelly speaking.

"I think Walter is gay."

"Kelly, why on earth would you say that?"

"Because I've never had a straight man ignore me. Especially when I've grabbed his cock. His didn't even twitch. So he's either gay or he's a eunuch."

"Kelly, you didn't? Oh my god, I'm so embarrassed."

"What do you have to be embarrassed about? He's a good looking man and I could rock his world."

Alex came out of the den in time to hear that last. Walter was frozen on the bottom step, very red-faced. So Alex spoke loudly enough to let the women know they were out there.

"Boys settled?"

"Yes. It only took a chapter to knock them out. I guess I'm boring, or they were tired."

"It was a long day for them and they didn't have a nap. Would you like a drink?"

Both men had moved so the occupants of the living room could see them.

"No thank you, I have to get home. Unfortunately, I have some work to get done tomorrow and I also promised Mulder and Scully I'd have lunch with them."

Walter had moved across the room to Summer as he spoke to Alex. Bending, he kissed her cheek. "Goodnight, Summer. Thank you for an excellent dinner." Turning he looked at Kelly, "It was nice meeting you, Kelly."

"I'll walk you out."

Alex retrieved Walter's jacket as well as his own. Walking out with him to the car, he grinned. "Did she really grab you?"

"Yes." Walter said sardonically.

"Well, that puts her ahead of me."

Walter turned to make a nasty remark and Alex pressed in close. Walter gasped as Alex's hand cupped him. Whereas Kelly had gotten no reply, little Wally stood up and said hello to Alex. Alex took advantage of Walter's open mouth to swoop in and explore.

Walter groaned into the kiss, one hand finding its way into Alex's hair as the other latched on to a firm ass cheek. Alex worked his way out of the kiss slowly, nipped at Walter's lower lip and then stepped back. Walter sagged against the car. The moon appeared from behind the clouds at that moment and Walter saw the smug grin on Alex's face.

"Kelly has no idea what she's missing out on. I'll see you soon, Walter."

Alex turned, walked back to the house singing softly, a few of the words floated back to Walter. "Doin' dat grind with a push and squeeze, tied up, tied down, up against the wall…"

Walter watched until he entered the house and then he got in his car and drove home. His hard-on lasted through the entire trip; in the elevator he was glad no one got on to witness him standing there with a huge bulge in his jeans. He headed right up to his bedroom, stripping down and not even bothering to turn down the bed; he just flopped down and took himself in hand.

Eyes closed tightly, he relived the kiss, imagining Alex was next to him and it was Alex's hand bringing him pleasure. He drew it out as long as he could; finally, he came, whispering Alex's name into the still room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alex had been doing a lot of thinking over the last two months. He didn't want to hurt Summer, and he wanted to be a part of his children's lives. None of that had changed.

But he was very much in love with Walter. So he had to find a way to have both or he had to let Walter go. It wasn't fair to tie Walter's life to him if he'd never be more than the uncle who gave gifts and came for dinner. Walter deserved to have as normal a life as possible. He deserved to be loved and have a sex life.

The idea of letting Walter go caused his breath to freeze in his chest. The thought of Walter with another man could not be borne. It boiled down to how much of him Walter needed. How much could Walter compromise his morals?

Alex got up the morning after Thanksgiving and called Mulder.

"Mulder."

"Mulder, this is Krycek. Can I come over? I have something I want to talk to you about."

"If you come right away. I'm going to pick up Scully later."

"I know you have a lunch date with Walter."

"How did you know that?"

"He told me last night after dinner."

"You got him out of the apartment?"

"I had the boys invite him."

"Haven't lost your sneaky edge, have you?"

"Never. I'll be over there soon."

He disconnected the call. Less than a half-hour later he was outside Mulder's door. Mulder opened the door almost before the buzzer stopped.

"Come on in."

"Thanks."

"Want some coffee?"

"That'd be great."

Neither spoke again until they each had a mug of coffee in hand.

"So, Krycek, what did you want to talk about?"

"I've been doing a lot of thinking. About Walter, about how I feel about him."

"Reached any conclusions?"

"I'm in love with him."

"That, I already knew. What are you going to do about it?"

"Mulder, will you treat this conversation as if I were your patient?"

"Give me a dollar."

"What?"

"Give me a dollar, I don't see patients for free."

Alex laughed, then reached for his money clip and handed over a dollar.

"Want to lie down?"

"No. Mulder, you said he was trying to be noble. While I understand that and appreciate his reasons, I need him to be a little less noble."

Alex got up and paced in the small space of the room. "I love Summer, as a friend, as the mother of my children. But I'm not *in* love with her. I don't want to hurt her. Fuck, I feel like I'm doing a Meat Loaf song here."

"Two Out of Three Ain't Bad?"

"Yeah."

Alex slumped into his chair. Mulder waited, sipping his coffee.

"I feel all of those things when I look at Skinner. From the moment I met him, I felt connected in a way I never felt with anyone else. It was stupid to start a relationship with Summer when I already knew where my heart belonged."

"Then why did you?"

"He asked me the same thing. I didn't expect her to fall in love with me. And to be even more honest, I never expected to have a chance with Walter."

"Did you come to me for validation? A solution to the problem?"

"No, I came to you as someone who wouldn't find me lacking, in spite of the past. I learned a lot about you during the time we spent looking for Summer. I know you care for Walter. I know no matter what happens, you'll be there for him."

"What do you want to do about him?"

"I want to take him to bed and rock his universe."

"But what comes after that, Alex? He's not a one night stand kind of guy."

"After that depends on how much he's willing to bend, on what he wants to give me."

"I think he wants to give you the world, but he can't hurt the innocents you bring to the equation."

"I can't undo that."

"No, you can't. Be sure of what you want. And be prepared to deal with the consequences should Summer find out. She'll be doubly hurt to find out that you've lied to her from the beginning."

"I can't lose my children. I never expected to have any, but now that I do, I can't envision life without them."

There was nothing for Mulder to say to that. This was a completely different man than the one he thought he knew just a few months ago. They finished the coffee and Alex rose to his feet.

"Thank you for listening."

"Good luck, Alex." Mulder extended his hand and Alex just stared at it for a long moment before he reached out to shake it.

Alex drove home with a new plan formulating in his mind. Walter had been aroused the night before. Maybe if Alex showed him how good it could be for them, Walter could settle for his heart full time and his body part time. He knew he was being selfish, but he couldn't stop himself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Walter opened the door to his condo, smelled corned beef cooking; the stereo was on, playing something classical, turned up just loud enough to be background.

Alex stepped out of the kitchen with dishes in his hand and smiled when he saw Walter, "Want a beer?"

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"Kelly was getting on my nerves, so I told Summer I was coming over here to watch sports and have manly bonding time with you. Just figured I'd cook us dinner while I waited. Did you have a good afternoon with the Dynamic Duo?"

"I don't think Scully would be amused to be compared to Robin."

"Ah, but she has the right hair color to be one. And you're assuming I'm casting Mulder as Batman."

"Scully is too short to be Batman. And yes, I will take a beer."

Alex had set the table as they bantered and now he turned toward the kitchen.

"Have a seat and relax. I'll bring it out to you."

Walter wandered over to sit, for some reason heading to the sofa instead of his favorite chair. Alex smiled when he returned, two icy cold bottles in his hand. He held one out to Walter and then dropped down to sit next to him.

"This is very domestic, Alex."

"You deserve to be spoiled a little. Besides, I remembered that you love corned beef. I hope the New England boiled dinner recipe I got off the net tastes as good as it sounded."

"You're cooking all the vegetables too?"

"Of course, I know the way to a man's heart."

"Where are your pearls?"

Alex laughed, then leaned toward Walter and brushed his lips lightly. "I only wear them when I vacuum, silly."

Walter sank back, took a long swallow of beer; Alex reached for the remote and handed it to Walter. It seemed natural to turn off the music and flip channels until they came across something they both would enjoy.

When the kitchen timer went off, Walter helped Alex bring in the grocery. They talked quietly over dinner, about everything except the subject most on their minds. Afterwards, the clean up was shared, and they again settled together on the sofa to watch TV.

When Alex shifted, Walter put his arm around him. When green eyes looked into his with an unspoken request, Walter replied with a kiss. It wasn't long before Walter was lying back with Alex covering him as they kissed and rubbed against each other.

Alex pulled up to smile at Walter; "Can we take this upstairs?"

"Okay."

Walter was too turned on to say no. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a little voice was saying Alex was giving him a night to remember, one night and then back to his family. And as much as that thought hurt, Walter wanted the memory.

He followed Alex up the steps; the bed was already turned down, and a towel was spread out on the night table with a new container of Wet and bunch of condoms lying on it. Walter looked at Alex, finding a soft smile waiting for him.

"Pretty sure of yourself."

"Not really, I figured if you didn't use them with me, then you might with someone else. I just hoped it would be me."

Walter reached for the hem of his shirt and Alex stood still as the broad chest came into view. Walter dropped the shirt, moved to stand in front of Alex. "Need any help?"

"Hell, no!"

Alex was stripped down before Walter finished taking off his shoes. The bed creaked as they fell onto it together. Alex pushed Walter onto his back and began exploring. He lingered over Walter's nipples, until big hands grabbed his head and pulled him up for a kiss.

When the kiss ended, Alex continued his trip down Walter's body. A belly button was tongued and nipped at, then the mouth moved farther down, ignoring the generous erection waving hello. Alex hovered over the scar on Walter's leg. He kissed it gently, then outlined it with his tongue, lastly he traced it with gentle fingers.

Raising his head, he saw Walter watching him. "Sit up, Walter. I want to touch as much of you as I can."

Walter positioned himself against the pillows as Alex reached for a condom. He looked down at it, then back at Walter.

"I'm clean, Walter. If you tell me you are, I'll believe you. I'd rather have no barriers between us if that's what you want, too."

The sound that Walter emitted was somewhere between a sigh and a whine. His big hand grabbed the condom and threw it across the room. Alex's smile was incandescent. He picked up the lube and poured a generous portion onto his hand. Slowly, he coated Walter's dick, then reached behind to rub the extra along his opening.

Walter's hands steadied him as he straddled the strong thighs. As Walter held his cock, Alex worked himself onto it. When he finally was sitting flush in Walter's lap, they shared another kiss.

"You're so tight, Alex."

"Too tight?"

"No, it feels wonderful."

"I love you, Walter."

"I love you."

Alex lifted up then and dropped hard on the intrusion, a low moan slipping from his lips. Walter's hands gripped him and he bent to pull on a nipple, biting it gently until Alex's reaction let him know he could get rougher.

Soon they were making the bed rock, and Alex's movements on Walter became frantic. Walter arched up into Alex as Alex left a deep bruise on his throat.

Jerking his head back to look at Walter, he hissed. "Touch me. Make me come for you."

Walter's hand surrounded his cock, pumping it in time to Alex's movements on his. "That's it, beautiful. Ride me, make us both explode."

"Ohgodohgodohgod, now Walter! Come now!"

Walter's used his feet and pushed up as he pulled down with the hand on Alex's hip. His other hand pulled harder than before, and Alex's back arched as he screamed, "Walter!"

A small smile appeared on Walter's face before his own climax hit, he latched on to a nipple and bit hard as he flooded Alex's ass with semen. Alex dropped his head onto Walter's shoulder and they panted together.

"My fantasies were never that good." Walter said into the ear next to his cheek.

Alex's lips touched him sweetly on the mark he'd left, then he nodded his agreement. When their breathing slowed and Walter's dick softened and slipped from Alex's body they took a quick shower and then returned to the bed.

Walter had always enjoyed making out and it was a pleasant surprise to find out that Alex obviously liked it as well. They spent a couple of hours just kissing, touching, keeping each other on the edge of desire. When Alex wiggled down to suck Walter, he intervened.

"Turn around, Alex. I want to taste, too."

Alex hastened to turn around. He groaned around his mouthful of flesh as Walter deep throated him. It soon became something of a competition, each man attempting to make the other one come first. Walter won by proving that he was very talented with his fingers as well as his tongue.

The distraction was so intense that Alex went slack jawed at his end of the bed. But Walter had a solution for that as well. As soon as he'd drunk down every drop offered, he pushed Alex onto his back and knelt over him. Alex tried to focus, but he was still floating somewhere near the ceiling.

When Alex became aware, Walter was pumping slowly in and out of his mouth, shallow thrusts to give Alex plenty of room for oxygen. When Alex's eyes cleared, Walter smiled, "Ready, boy?"

He nodded as much as he could with his mouth so full. Walter bent forward to place his hands on the bed. Alex sighed as his mouth was fucked. He worked his tongue, hummed, and swallowed. All the things he liked to feel when he was blown. If the sounds above him were to be believed, Walter liked them as well.

"I'm close, Alex. So close." Walter's voice was harsh with the strain of holding back.

Pulling back, he looked down to watch as Alex tongued the slit. "God!" Alex grinned as the first spurt pushed against his tongue. Walter pushed back in, Alex swallowed until Walter whimpered and pulled back.

Lying next to Alex, he pulled him close and they mingled tastes with long deep kisses. After a while, Walter drifted off to sleep. Sometime later, he woke alone. Noticing that it was eleven, he assumed Alex had gone home until he got up to go to the bathroom and tripped over Alex's boots.

Entering the bathroom, Walter peed and went in search of a warm body. For a big man, Walter was very quiet. He saw a leg hanging over the arm of his chair and walked quietly up behind it.

"I'm too drunk to drive, Summer. I'm going to sack out in Walter's guestroom. I'll be home tomorrow after my hangover is gone. Love you, too. Bye."

If ice water had been thrown on Walter, it couldn't have been more of a shock. For a few hours he'd forgotten that Alex wasn't his and never would be.

Alex stood up and turned around. His smile faltered and faded at the grim expression on Walter's face. "Walter?"

"You didn't have to lie to her. I understand you need to leave. I wasn't expecting you still to be here."

"I didn't want to leave. I want to sleep in your arms tonight."

"You aren't mine. It was wonderful and I thank you, but it doesn't matter if you leave now or tomorrow, you will be leaving. You belong with your family. I could never compete with that, or ask you to give it up."

Walter turned and jogged up the stairs. Alex followed, to find that Walter was locked in the bathroom.

"Walter, I'm not leaving until we talk about this."

He heard the shower start. Walter had to run out of hot water eventually, so Alex crawled into the bed and got comfortable. He was soundly asleep when Walter finally came out. He stood for a long minute looking down at the beautiful man in his bed.

It wasn't going to hurt anymore to see him go tomorrow than it would right then. So he turned off the lights and crawled into the bed. Alex rolled over against him so Walter cuddled him close and went to sleep.

Walter woke the next morning to the delicious feel of a hot tongue probing his hole as his balls were held gently and his morning hard-on was stroked. He raised his head and looked down to see Alex curled between his legs, which were draped over Alex's shoulders.

His movement must have alerted Alex, because the tongue left him, a head rose and green eyes sparkled in the morning light. "Morning, Walter."

"Who asked you to stop?" Walter growled in his best AD voice.

He felt the warmth of Alex's breath over his cock as the chuckle rolled out. But the head ducked immediately and the tongue went back to probing. Walter kept as still as possible, he loved being rimmed and Alex seemed to be as expert at that as he was at everything else they had done so far.

When the sensation was becoming too much for him, he tugged on Alex's hair. "Stop, I don't want to come that way."

Alex squirmed up next to him and they shared a messy kiss. "How do you want to come?"

"With you inside me."

Alex's eyes widened. Until that moment, he'd figured that sex between them would consist of blowjobs and his being fucked. Never one to look too closely into a gift horse's mouth, Alex reached for the lube. "Like last night?"

Walter didn't answer; he rolled onto his belly and spread his legs. Alex trembled as he knelt between the strong thighs. He wouldn't be able to see Walter's face very well, but he would be able to do full body touching.

Alex smiled as Walter pulled his cheeks apart, giving him a good view of his target. He positioned and pressed forward, feeling the give, as the muscle let him past. Using short shallow thrusts, he continued to penetrate deeper each time until he was buried to the hilt.

Lying full length along Walter's back, he nuzzled at his throat. He wanted to tell Walter how incredibly special he felt at that moment, to be allowed inside Walter that way, but the words wouldn't come. Instead, he began to move, long, slow strokes that emptied and filled his lover over and over.

One of Walter's hands reached back to rub Alex's hip as the other gripped the bedpost tightly. Alex moved his hand up along Walter's arm, then under, Walter gripped Alex's hand tightly. The dance played out languidly as Alex pleasured Walter.

Walter had only allowed one other man inside him, his first male lover. The heartbreak of losing him had kept Walter from wanting to be that vulnerable again, so he'd topped his lovers ever since, to feel more in control.

He was glad he'd trusted Alex. The sensations of being filled with Alex's thick cock brought back the nights of stolen pleasure. As the need to come started to build, Walter's voice made Alex shudder.

"Harder, Alex, take me hard, make me come for you on your hard dick."

If Alex had not been so close to coming himself, he might have commented that Walter seemed hung up on hard, but at that moment Alex was quite fond of the word himself. Grabbing both of Walter's wrists, holding them with his hands at shoulder level, Alex used the leverage to give him power for his thrusts.

Walter's deep growls of encouragement, and Alex's grunts made music in the air. Alex slammed in deep and moaned Walter's name as his cock emptied inside. Working one leg underneath Walter's, he managed to get them on their sides and their joined hands quickly brought Walter release.

The two drifted off to sleep before Alex had even softened enough to slide from Walter's body. When next they woke, they took a long shower, then ate a huge breakfast. It was noon by then, and Alex knew he would need to be going home or calling with another excuse.

He glanced at his watch, and Walter spoke.

"I know you need to get home to them. It was the best night of my life and I thank you."

"Walter, that sounds suspiciously like a kiss off."

"I knew going in that it was going to be a one night stand, Alex. I'm okay with that. Well…not okay, but I walked into it knowing that, so I have no room to bitch. I won't cause problems, you have my word."

"Mulder says you aren't the one night stand type."

"When did you talk to Mulder about me?"

Alex could see the steam shooting out his ears just like a cartoon. "Calm down it wasn't like that. I told him I was in love with you. But he knew that already. It was before he went out with you yesterday. Did he act any differently?"

"No."

"Didn't think so and he won't. Walter, I don't want a one night stand."

"You have a family, Alex. I'm a possessive man. I don't see how we can have anything else. I don't want ever to hurt them."

"I know all that. I don't love her. I love you. Can't we at least try? You have my heart; isn't that what matters most?"

"I don't think so. As important as your heart is, I don't think it can be enough. Go home, Alex."

Alex wanted to argue, but the look in Walter's eyes prevented that. So he rose and moved to Walter's side. "This isn't over. Kiss me before I go."

Walter stood and pulled Alex close. The kiss was long and deep, and when he let go, Walter quickly turned his back. Alex allowed himself one last caress of the marks he'd left on Walter's throat, before turning and walking quickly out the door, closing it quietly behind him.

Over the course of the next week he gave Walter some space, which was not the wisest decision on his part. Walter took it to mean that he'd been right in looking at their night together as a generous goodbye. Alex was trying to come up with some way of making it all work, but try as he might, he could only see pain, the only question was: whose pain.

By the next Friday Alex was feeling frantic. He hadn't made love to Summer, even though she had tried to initiate lovemaking. He used the excuse that he was afraid of hurting her when she was so near to term. All her arguments about still having almost two months to go had no effect.

Now that he'd been with Walter, it felt wrong to be with her. In his eyes it would have been a betrayal to them both. He didn't want to cheat on Walter, and making love to Summer would have been a lie, since he didn't love her that way.

Friday afternoon, he went back to Walter's again with the ingredients to make them a good dinner. He'd planned a stewm, so that if Walter were late it wouldn't be ruined. When Walter got home at almost eight, Alex was sitting on the sofa reading.

"What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for you. I'm starved, are you hungry?" Alex tried to keep his voice light.

"Alex, don't do this. Please."

"I can't walk away from you. And I don't think you can walk away from me. Let us have what we can. I don't know what to do yet, but I'll find a way if you'll give me time."

"What do you want from me?"

"Just your love."

Walter stood for a long moment then held out his arms. Alex went to him and they kissed.

After that, Fridays belonged to Walter. Summer never suspected the truth of the situation. After all, she thought they were brothers. But after a while she did get suspicious, and she started calling to check up on Alex. Her lame excuses for calling were irritating.

Walter tried to brush them off, but they bothered him, and Alex could tell. So, finally, he had his first real fight with Summer, and told her she should only call if she had an emergency.

Things settled down, and for a while it seemed that Alex might get to continue his life happily. Walter was not complaining, and Summer was engrossed with the new baby.

When little Anna was three months old, Alex resumed his work with a new goal, to make the world safe for his children. He would be away for weeks at a time, and when he came to Walter with information, he'd stay there overnight before he went to see the children.

Summer had become increasingly angry at the way their lives had turned. She couldn't believe that Alex was being celibate and she was much too young a woman to live her life that way. Alex was still as attentive as ever to the children.

It all came to a head one night when he came home. He had started sleeping in the guestroom, another thing that they had argued over. Alex was standing next to the dresser, having just showered; he dropped his robe and bent over to pull a pair of shorts from the bottom drawer.

Summer's gasp was loud and he swung around. Her eyes took in the marks on his chest, the purple bruise high on his thigh, which was distinctly a bite mark. He knew she'd seen the finger shaped bruises on his ass. Walter had been especially anxious the night before. Of course he'd left plenty of marks on Walter as well.

"It's not a woman is it? Who is he? That Mulder guy?"

"Mulder? Hell no! Scully would kill me if I touched Mulder. I'm sorry, Summer. Really I am. I never wanted to hurt you."

"Do you love him? At least tell me it isn't just about sex."

"I love him. I've loved him a long time."

"Why didn't you just come to me and tell me?"

"I didn't want to hurt you. And I wanted to keep on being a part of my children's life. I didn't want them calling anyone else Dad."

"You have so little faith in me? Get out. Now!"

"Summer, please, don't do this. I'm sorry I doubted you."

"I need some time, Alex. Please go."

"He told me I should tell you. He had more faith in your goodness than I did. It was wrong of me to doubt you."

"He's someone I know? Who is he?" Her voice was bordering on hysterical.

Alex took a deep breath while stepping into his shorts. Might as well get it all out now. At least there would be no more lies to get caught in, and she could get all her anger out at once.

"Walter isn't my brother. I told you he was because he was the only one I'd trust to care for our children if something happened to us."

"Walter! How could he even face me knowing he was – how long? How long has it been going on, Alex? Have you exposed me to anything?"

"He's clean and so am I. And even if we weren't, I haven't had sex with you since I started having sex with him."

"But you wanted him before that?"

"Yes, I never expected to have him. I tried to love you the way you want, Summer. Even before we had the children, I tried. I do love you as my dearest friend. I know that's not enough."

"How does Walter feel about this?"

"Conflicted. He genuinely respects and loves you. And he would die for our children. He's tried to send me away several times, but he loves me too much."

"I need some time to think, Alex. I'm going for a drive."

She turned and walked out the door. Alex hurriedly finished dressing, then went to find his children. Summer didn't come back that night, and by morning he was getting frantic.

Walter answered the phone when it rang the next morning. Sunday was normally his day for doing things around the apartment and recuperating from his time with Alex. So he hadn't expected to hear from his lover.

"Walter, she's gone. She went out for a drive last night and hasn't come back."

Walter could hear Anna fussing in the background as the boys talked to her.

"Alex, go see to Anna. I'll be there as soon as I can."

Walter hurried to change and was soon in his car. On the way over, he put in a call to Mulder to have him put the Gunmen on it. When he reached the house, the boys ran out to meet him. He ended up going into the house with one on each hip.

Alex was sitting at the kitchen table, a half-drunk cup of coffee next to him as he offered Anna another spoonful of cereal. The blond head lifted and she smiled at Walter. He set the boys down, bent to kiss Anna, noticed the boy's partially consumed breakfast, and he took control.

"Walt, Sasha, finish your breakfast. Alex, I'll finish feeding Anna, go take a shower, you'll feel better."

Alex nodded, he knew Walter wanted to know what was going on, but he also knew they needed to talk about it privately. The children needed to have as normal a schedule as possible. Walter squeezed Alex's arm as he moved past him.

Sitting down, he finished feeding Anna, talking to the boys in between offering bites to her. He had just finished washing her face, when Alex came back into the room.

"Dad, may we go watch TV?"

"For a little while." He watched as his sons left the room.

"Alex, sit. I'll get you some coffee and you can tell me what's going on."

Alex took the chair next to his daughter. Walter poured them both a cup of coffee and sat down across from his lover. Alex let out a small sigh, then began to speak.

"Summer knows about us."

"What? How?"

"I was in the guestroom, I'd just taken a shower. She walked in as I was reaching in the dresser for shorts. She saw the bruises on my hips and gasped. Then when I straightened and turned she saw all the other marks."

"Alex, I'm sorry. I shouldn't be so rough with you." Walter ran his hand over his baldhead as he took in the information. "But how does that work into her knowing about us?"

"She guessed I was seeing a man. Asked me if it was Mulder. I told her the truth. I'm tired of putting you in second place."

"Alex, you know that I believe the children have to come first."

"They do in some things, not in all. Walter, the world is so uncertain. Something could happen to you or me. I don't want to live a lie anymore."

"I can't say I'm sorry she knows. It has been difficult playing the part of brother since we became lovers. I'm just surprised she took off. I would have expected her to throw you out."

"I was totally honest with her, Walter, the way I should have been when you let me into your life. I should have trusted her to be mature about the children. I saw it in her eyes. But I also saw pain. I was wrong to think she'd take them from me. She lost her own parents, and she'd never want her children to be without theirs."

Before Walter could answer his cell phone rang.

"Skinner."

"It's Mulder. Byers called, Summer's credit card was used to buy gas at a station in Roanoke, and then she got a room just outside Knoxville. She was still there as of five minutes ago. Do you want them to keep watching?"

"Hold on, Mulder. Alex, she's at a motel outside Knoxville. What do you want to do?"

"She's headed for Kelly's probably. Ask them to let us know when she stops again."

"Mulder, have them keep watching. Alex thinks she's on her way to a friend's house."

"Sir, may I ask what's going on?"

"She found out that I'm not really Alex's brother."

"Shit!"

"Yes indeed."

"Is he going after her?"

"I don't know. The children are here, they have to be cared for."

"She left the kids?"

"Yeah, surprised me too. Listen, I'm going to go. We want to keep the children to their normal schedule."

"I imagine you have some talking to do as well. For what it's worth, Sir, I think she'll come around."

"Why would you think that?"

"I'm a profiler, remember? I learned a lot about her when I was helping him look for her."

"I hope you're right."

Walter disconnected the phone and looked at Alex. Alex reached for his hand, the two sat quietly until Anna decided she'd been in the highchair long enough.

"Better give her a bath. Will you check on the boys?"

"Of course, just give me a minute to call Kim."

"Kim?"

"I won't be going into work in the morning. If she knows that today, she'll get in a little early to take care of things."

"Let her have the afternoon off."

"Already planning that."

Alex smiled as he lifted his daughter from her chair. He kissed Walter on the cheek as he left the room. Walter couldn't help but think how homey it felt. Both men had relaxed a little knowing that Summer was obviously safe, but at the same time far enough away that she couldn't walk in on them.

The day passed in quiet companionship. They played catch with the boys in the yard, as Anna played quietly with her toys in her portable play yard in the shade. Walter made a quick run home for clothes while Alex cooked dinner for them.

Mulder had called in the afternoon with the news that Summer had shopped for clothes, passed through Tennessee and was in Georgia. Alex was sure then that she was headed for Kelly's. That allowed him to relax even more.

It was not, however, enough to get Walter into his bed that night. "Alex, I won't sleep with you under Summer's roof."

"Walter, I didn't mean sex, I just want to sleep in your arms."

"And if one of the boys came in? What would she think if they told her 'Dad and Uncle Walter slept together'? I know you feel she will accept this, but if she thought we'd been together in her house with the children witnessing it – Alex, her anger might get the best of her."

"Can we at least make out a little on the couch?"

"No."

"You're strict."

"I know, but I don't want to take chances."

So Alex had to be content with a goodnight kiss. He slept in the bed he'd once shared with Summer. And Walter slept in the guestroom.

Alex had left a message on Kelly's answering machine saying that Summer was on her way there and to please ask Summer to call him. He knew she'd made it there, a short email confirmed that but no phone call was forthcoming. He decided to give her the space she needed, thinking that anything he might say at that point wouldn't help. Or worse, might give her false hope.

The children accepted Alex's explanation that Mom had gone to visit Aunt Kelly. Dad and Uncle Walter kept them on their usual schedule, and it was fun having Uncle Walter take them to school and pick them up. So, while they missed their mother, they weren't really upset.

It was mid-week when she called. Alex had gone into the study and shut the door. Walter tried to hide his nerves as he waited. After a few minutes Alex opened the door and called to the boys. He gave them the phone and walked quickly over to Walter.

"She says she'll be coming back on Friday. She wants me to move out, but says I can see the children whenever I want. She even said it would be fine for us to take them every other weekend."

"Can you live with that? Alex, I'd be willing to walk away. Can't say it wouldn't hurt, but I'll do it for you and them."

"Walter, if I wanted things that way, I would have let you go. I love you, you dummy."

Walter's smile took Alex's breath away. "So, ah, can I move in with you?"

"Now who's the dummy?"

"Dad, Mom wants to talk to you again." Alex hurried to take the phone.

"I should be in Saturday afternoon. Please be prepared to sleep somewhere else that night."

"No problem. Summer, thank you."

"I can't deprive my children of a good father, no matter how I feel about the way things have gone with us. I'll see you Saturday."

Walter left fairly early Saturdaymorning, his car loaded down with Alex's things. They had loaded it during the night, having decided that Alex and Summer together would tell the boys that Alex was moving out.

He was surprised when Alex called him at lunchtime.

"Walter, you have to get over here right away. Summer's been in an accident and I need to get down there."

Walter had never expected to hear Alex that frantic over Summer again. He didn't waste time asking questions; he just headed for his car.

Alex was pacing in the driveway when he pulled up. Walter was out of the car almost before it stopped.

"I have a flight in an hour. They said a truck broadsided her as she went through an intersection. She was in surgery before they found her wallet and tracked down the number. Walter, they wouldn't tell me how serious it is."

"Alex, breathe. I'll take care of everything here. I'll take you to the airport."

"Just take care of the kids, I can get there."

Gripping Alex, forcing him to look at him, Walter spoke, "I'll drive you. As upset as you are I don't trust your driving."

Alex looked as though he wanted to argue, but he stopped himself. Walter was right; he was very upset and he couldn't take chances.

They loaded the children into Summer's SUV and headed for the airport. With security as it was, Walter saw no reason to bother parking. He let Alex out with a quick hug, then drove back home to wait for word.

It was late evening when Alex called. The children had long been in bed and Walter was on the verge of calling the hospital.

"Walter, she's alive. But they don't know if she's going to make it. They say the next few hours are critical. God, I hate fucking doctor lingo."

"What did they have to do?"

"They had to cut her out of the car. One of her legs was severed, they've reattached it but the doctor says it won't really matter. Her spinal cord was damaged. If she lives, she'll never walk again."

Walter didn't need to fake his gasp of horror. The idea of that beautiful woman being wheelchair bound was horrible.

"Alex, I'm so sorry. Do you want me to get Scully or Kim to take care of the kids and come there?"

"Much as I want to say yes to that, I'm not going to. The boys know their mother is hurt and I took off with barely a goodbye. They need the only other adult they know and love with them. It'll be easier to deal with this knowing you are taking care of them."

"Alright, I love you, Alex. Call me when you know more."

"I will, and thanks."

"For what?"

"Everything. Just everything."

"Go try and get some rest."

"I love you, Walter."

Walter listened to the click and sighed. Why did this have to happen? Summer didn't deserve this on top of everything else in her life. But Walter made up his mind right then, that if this meant Alex staying with her, he'd be happy for what they'd had, and let him go.

It was two days before the doctors took her off the critical list. Another two before she responded to her surroundings. Alex called him, crying when she managed to focus on him and call him by name. Walter was so glad to be able to tell the children that Mom was awake and they could probably talk to her on the phone soon.

After a week, they allowed a move to a convalescent hospital near her home. Alex had come home after getting her settled and asked Walter to get Scully or Kim to come over at the kid's bedtime. Walter had taken one look into those green eyes and he knew Alex needed to renew their physical bond.

Once the children were settled for the night, Walter and Alex left them with Kim and went to his condo. They'd barely made it through the door before Alex was climbing him like a tree. They kissed until oxygen depletion forced them to pull back.

"I need you, Walter. I want you to fuck me so hard it hurts."

Walter growled as he started toward the stairs. In the bedroom they made fast work of getting naked. Alex climbed onto the bed facing the headboard and held on. That was a good enough invitation for Walter. He slicked up, plunged into his lover's ass to the hilt, and then bit him hard on the shoulder.

Alex whimpered, "Do me, fuck me up the ass."

"Oh, don't worry I'm gonna fuck you alright. Gonna fuck you so hard you forget your name."

Walter pounded into Alex, hard and deep the way they both liked. His teeth left deep imprints on the shoulders of his lover as he drove them both toward climax. Alex could feel his balls drawing up and he begged Walter to let him come.

"Wanna come, Walter. Let me stroke it."

"Not until I'm ready. Just take my cock, boy, until I'm ready. I'll stroke you off when *I* want you to come."

Alex moaned and dropped his head to rest next to his hands on the bed frame. He loved the illusion of submitting to Walter, of being Walter's boy, and he loved the dirty talk so much it was hard to hold out. But it was only a couple of minutes and Walter drove in to him so hard, he was airborne for a second.

He could feel the heat flooding his ass as Walter came. Then a big fist wrapped around him, jacking him hard.

"Come, boy. Come for me now."

Alex went off with a loud groan, pushing back onto the hardness still deep in his ass, his muscles convulsing around Walter, milking him dry. Walter lifted his hand and he and Alex licked it clean. Shifting back onto the bed, Walter pulled Alex with him keeping them joined as they slowly came down.

Later, they took a long shower and sucked each other off before getting dressed and going back to the house.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few days later, Kim buzzed him to say he had a phone call from Summer.

"Summer, how are you feeling?"

"Walter, will you come out here to see me after work?"

"Of course, Summer. Do you need anything?"

"I just need to talk to you."

"Alright. I'll be there around six-thirty."

"Good."

The phone was disconnected before he could say more. He tried to keep from wondering what she would say. If she wanted to cuss him, he'd stand quietly and let her. She had every right to hate him. He stopped to buy flowers and at exactly six-thirty, he was opening the door to her room.

She looked even smaller in that big bed. His heart ached for her. She looked at him, "Come in, Walter. Those are beautiful, but you didn't have to buy me flowers."

"I wanted to. Are you feeling better?"

"I was hit by a truck, it's going to take a while."

Her hand reached for the bed control and she was soon almost upright. He placed the vase of flowers next to the roses he was sure Alex had brought her. Pulling a chair near the bed, he sat…might as well get as comfortable as he could.

"I'm not going to yell at you. I need to say a couple of things and then I have a request."

"Go ahead."

"If I'm honest with myself, part of me knew Alex didn't love me. I got pregnant hoping that a child would bind us closer, and he would learn to love me. That was a foolish idea. But I'm not sorry that I have his children. They give me a tie to him that you will never have."

She saw Walter grimace and reached out to touch his hand. "That wasn't nice of me. Allow me a little bitchiness."

"I deserve that and more."

"Not really. He can't help it that he loves you. He loves me as well, in a different way; it just wasn't the way I wanted. I have to accept that. I really hate you both on some level for the months of deceiving me. Even that, I'm beginning to understand."

Walter nodded, having nothing to answer with.

"You do love him?"

"More than life."

"And my children? Do you love them as well?"

"I had hoped that was obvious."

"I need to hear you say it."

"I couldn't love them more if they were mine."

"Good. Then I have a proposal to make to you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alex met Walter at the door. Taking one look at him, he let the questions die. Whatever it was, it wasn't bad. Walter looked too calm for it to have been bad. Walter hung up his coat and pulled Alex into the living room.

"Where are the children?"

"The boys are watching a new movie, Anna is playing in her crib. What did she say, Walter?"

"You picked a very good woman to have children with."

"I'm going to hit you if you don’t get to the point."

"We need to go house hunting. She wants us all to live together."

"What?"

"That's what she said. She knows she'll never be able to do for the children as she used to. So she feels that the best solution for them is for all of us to share a house. But to do that, it has to be a much bigger house. As a matter of fact, I think it would be more practical to buy some land and have one built."

Walter reached over to push his lover's mouth closed. He smiled as he waited for Alex to process the information.

"What's the catch? There has to be a catch."

"She did insist that we have to have a master suite on the other side of the house from her room. Oh, and we have to lock the door when we have sex. She realizes that the kids will figure it out someday, but she doesn't want them to see us going at it."

"I don't know what to say."

"Say yes."

"You didn't agree?"

"I almost did, but you have a mind of your own, as you've made abundantly clear to me on occasion, so I told her I would talk it over with you."

"I have some land down near Savannah. Certainly, not commuting distance for you."

"I've got in my twenty, Alex."

"You'd retire?"

"To have a family with you? In a heartbeat. I'm sure I could find something to do with three children in the house."

"You'd really do that? No looking back?"

"Alex, the lab is set up. It's turning out the vaccine. We, our families, everyone we've worked with are immune. Someone has to rear the next generation, who better than us? We can teach them to be diligent, to stay strong. I'm never going higher at the bureau. I'm ready to have a life."

"Then my land, if Summer is willing."

"I don't think she'll care where, but we'll go see her and talk it over tomorrow. I promised we'd bring the children in to see her."

"That's good, the boys have been asking when they could see Mom."

Walter pulled Alex close as he brought up the next topic.

"Alex, I have a friend who's an architect. I bet we could research plans on the net and get him to modify something we liked. I mean, we'll need to make modifications to make it wheelchair friendly. He'd be the best man we could get for the job, since he's spent a good portion of his career helping disabled vets with their housing."

"You probably know someone who lives in that area, too."

"Well, as a matter of fact…"

Alex yanked Walter's head down and kissed him. Then he pulled back, "Want to go look at floor plans?"

"Why don't you go sign in, your better at surfing than I am. I'll go get us some lemonade or something to drink and check on the kids."

By the time Walter was finished checking on everything and entered the small den, the printer was spitting out plans. They spent the next hour discussing the pros and cons of each, and narrowed it down to two. Walter had Alex send the site info with the plan numbers to his friend, along with a note Walter wrote telling him what he would need changed, and where the house would be built.

"We're going to be in deep shit if Summer doesn't like any of this."

"Have faith, Alex. She made a big leap in faith today. The least we can do is go with her."

"I was so afraid, Walter. It seems like nothing in my life ever went the way I wanted, so I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop."

"I know, but it's your turn for good things. We're going to have a good long life together."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Savannah House

Click to see the full size floor plan
Click on the thumbnail of the floor plan to see it full size.

Walter was in the kitchen chopping up onions for his special spaghetti sauce. Anna came bouncing into the room, humming a tune.

"Hi, sweet cake, Mom sleeping?"

"No, Ms. Fisher said it's bath time."

"Okay, I'll go lend a hand. Will you get two cans of tomato sauce and a big can of tomatoes from the pantry for me?"

"Want me to open them?" At nine, Anna was the image of her mother.

"No, I want you to go start your homework after you do that. Your Dad is supposed to call from the grocery, tell him to add garlic bread to the list. I was so busy in the garden that I forgot to set the bread machine."

Walter hurried through the house to Summer's room. Ms. Fisher came in every day to tend to most of Summer's needs, but Walter or Alex always carried her to the bath. He tapped on the door and waited, Summer called out, "Come in." In the eight years they had lived under the same roof, he'd never entered her room without knocking, except for the night she was ill with what turned out to be pneumonia.

Opening the door, he stepped into the room. "I hear that it's bath time."

"Yes. I told her I want a nice long soak."

Walter slipped one hand under her legs and the other around her shoulders. She wrapped her arms around his neck. She smiled at him as he carried her toward the bathroom.

"I always feel like I'm in a romance novel when you carry me this way."

"Well, I think we'd need to find you something that shows off the cleavage better than this robe. Don't all the covers of those books show cleavage?"

"Walter, are you a closet romance reader?"

"Well, if they ever write one where the pirate carries off a bald former marine, I might read that."

She giggled merrily in his ear. He stopped by the tub and lowered her slowly. When she was positioned, he dropped a kiss on her forehead and left Ms. Fisher to remove the now wet robe. Alex would probably be home in time to get her out.

Walter headed back to the kitchen to work on dinner. He'd just added the tomatoes to the pot when the door banged open and the boys came in, laughing together. Walt walked straight to the fridge as, Lex he no longer wanted to be called Sasha, thought it was too girly sounding came over and kissed Walter on the cheek.

"Spaghetti? Great."

"I know you have a game tomorrow so you need carbs. How was practice?"

"Joey sprained his finger, and Walt managed to make an idiot of himself in front of the cheerleader he's crushing on."

"Shut up, Lex."

"Homework?"

"Tons."

"Then get to it."

Walt pitched a bottle of juice to his brother and they both headed for the den.

The next night, Walter walked confidently through the crowd with Summer in his arms. She didn't want to sit down at ground level, so they always parked her wheelchair down in front of the bleachers and Walter or Alex carried her up the steps. He always took her to the very top, so that even if people stood up during the game, she'd still have a good view.

The boys were playing well, the almost psychic bond that twins often have worked well for them on the playing field. Walt had the size to block just about any player, and Lex could run like the wind. Summer sometimes joked that they were actually Walter and Alex's children; she had just carried them around for nine months. The first time that she'd said that, Walter had left the room, afraid he'd bawl like a baby. That was the day he knew she had truly accepted him.

Alex and Anna had gone down to get drinks during halftime. Walter tucked the blanket more firmly around Summer as they watched the band. When the band paused, she leaned over toward him.

"Our children are growing up, Walter."

"Yes, they are, much too quickly."

"I've been thinking."

"Uh oh."

"Stop that." She smacked his arm lightly.

"What have you been thinking?"

"Kelly would be a surrogate if you want to have a child of your own. It would be nice to have a baby in the house again."

Walter was stunned. Before he could come up with an answer, Alex and Anna returned with hot chocolate. Walter didn't even see the rest of the game; he was too shocked. Obviously Summer had thought about this a lot if she'd asked Kelly.

His first thought was that he was too old to be having a child. His second was that he was healthy as a horse and if something happened to him, Alex would care for his child as he had helped care for Alex's.

Later that night, as Alex snuggled up to him, he was so distracted Alex finally sat up and turned on the light.

"Okay, spill it."

"What?"

"I just used my best line on you. The one that has never failed to get me ravished and you didn't even grunt. Tell me what's wrong."

"Nothing's wrong."

"Then something is on your mind and I want to know what's keeping me from being held down and fucked."

"Summer said the weirdest thing to me at halftime."

Alex looked at him, all joking gone. "What did she say?"

"She said Kelly would be a surrogate if I wanted to father a child."

"What? She said what? I don't think I heard that correctly."

"Alex, don't joke."

Alex moved closer and wrapped an arm around Walter, kissing him deeply.

"How do you feel about it?"

"I'm not sure. I'm kind of old to be having a baby. I had all the joy of watching Anna from the time she was born."

"Yes, you did. But that isn't quite the same."

"How would you feel if I did that?"

"I would love helping you raise your son or daughter. Summer must like the idea or she wouldn't have brought it up. The kids wouldn't mind a baby in the house."

"It's not a decision I can make in one night. Now, did I hear someone say his ass needed reaming?"

"I guess the little head *was* listening."

Epilogue:

Alex watched as the nurse placed Walter's son in his arms. He'd never seen Walter look happier. And he'd never taken an entire roll of pictures in such a short period of time. When they took the baby off to be cleaned up and checked out, Walter leaned down and kissed Kelly on the forehead.

"Thank you."

She grinned up at him, "You're welcome, but if you want any more, find another surrogate."

He chuckled, "That's a deal." One more kiss and they left the room.

Alex walked with Walter toward the nursery, smiled when Walter reached for his hand. They stood outside the window watching as the doctor gave their son his first exam. The doctor turned and gave them a thumbs up and the little remaining tension in Walter seeped away.

"They'll be asking for his name soon."

"Yeah."

"Well, you've kept me in suspense long enough, Walter."

"I wanted a Russian middle name since our other children have them. I decided to take your suggestion and use my grandfather's middle name Vladimir."

"And his first name?"

"An alternate form of your name, Alastair. It's also a nod to his mother's Irish heritage."

"Alastair Vladimir Skinner. I see a nickname in this child's future."

"He can use just Al when he starts school if he wants."

"He might want to go with Vlad."

The nurse brought the baby out to them. Walter took him and kissed his small head.

"Welcome to the world, Alastair Vladimir Skinner. Meet your other Dad."

He held the baby out and Alex took him carefully into his arms. "Hello, Vlad. You and I are going to get along beautifully."

For all of his life, he would only answer to Vlad. Any other name would be ignored.

The End

Yes, Amazon, Vlad is a nod to Compromised.


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