A Matter of Timing






"The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute -- get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed."

Lazarus Long

War is an applied science, with well-defined principle tested in history; analogous solutions may be found from Ballista to H-bomb. But every revolution is a freak, a mutant, a monstrosity, its conditions never to be repeated and its operations carried out by amateurs and individualists.

John Lyle

My father used to tell me, "Alex, there is nothing wrong with being scared... as long as you don't let it affect you until the danger is over. Being hysterical is okay, too... afterwards and in private. Tears are not unmanly... in the bathroom with the door locked. The difference between a coward and a brave man is mostly a matter of timing."

Alex Hergensheimer


The slender man moved through the rubble, there wasn't much left of Dallas. He couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten. His last water had come from the Red River; it was brackish, but hadn't made him puke so he'd filled his canteen.

The remains of the Old Red loomed over the broken streets. He ducked undercover as a helicopter flew overhead, a death squad looking for survivors. He was one survivor they wouldn't find. He'd certainly lived up to his nickname in the last three years.

Once the chopper banked away from him, he moved again. Slipping through a hole in the wall, he entered the historic building. He'd taken less that three steps when a gun was pressed into his ribs.

"Life is short – but the years are long."

"Not while the evil days come not."

"This way."

Alex followed the man through the building. He was shown into a room. "Help yourself to the tea, make a sandwich. I'll send the Captain in to see you."


He was sitting at a small table, munching on the sandwich and sipping tea when a voice spoke from the door.

"I don't fucking believe this. Mulder should have called you cockroach, even the rats are getting caught these days."

"What does that make you, Walter?"

"One lucky son-of-a-bitch."

"Mulder sent me with the latest batch of serum. Your people need to take it as soon as possible."

"Leave it on the table. Come on, I'll show you where you can sleep."

"Gonna keep me company?"

"You never give up, do you?"

"Hey, we could all be dead tomorrow."

"Only if they shoot us, thanks to you."

Alex followed Walter deep into the sublevels. There were the areas that were being used as living quarters. Walter stopped on the way and issued orders. The room he led Alex to was down a corridor that didn't looked used.

"Where the fuck you taking me, Walter? Gonna bump me off and hide my body?"

"Shut up."

Alex found himself pushed up against the wall and his mouth devoured. When Walter pulled back, he was pleased with the dazed look on his rat's face.


Alex woke alone; Walter had pulled the blanket up over his naked body to keep him warm. Clean clothing was waiting for him, along with a note telling him how to find Walter. He dressed and followed the map, seeking his lover.

There were many people gathered in the room the map led him to. Loud voices made it impossible to understand what was being argued. Walter saw him in the doorway, gave a nod and then let out a loud whistle. The room got quiet.

"Alex, why don't you come up and share any info you have?"

The crowd parted and he smiled as he felt like Moses. He reached Walter's side and turned to face the group.

"Scully and her geeks feel that they will have a viable alternative to magnetite within a few weeks. Once that happens we'll all be implanted with small slivers, just deep enough under the skin to prevent it working it's way out."

"They're sure that will protect us?"

"The serum I brought will protect you from the oil, the magnetite will stop the super soldiers. After that, it's just a matter of picking them off."

"You sound awfully cocky." A woman in the back yelled at him.

Alex ignored Walter quiet snark about the woman having no idea how cocky. "Mulder came up with this plan. Much as I wish it weren't so, the man has been right about everything else."

Walter took over at that point. "If anyone hasn't received their injection yet. Please report to the infirmary. I'd like to see the group leaders in the large conference room."

People began to file out. Walter took a minute to speak to Alex. "He isn't expecting you to come back right away, is he?"

"No, he told me I could stay here if I wanted. Do the rest of my fighting at your side."

"Good, I'm tired of this long distance shit."

"Go, talk to your men. I'm going to see if I can beg breakfast." Walter leaned over and brushed a kiss against his cheek.


In the two months before the magnetite arrived, Walter, Alex and the other soldiers managed to keep the people hiding in the Courthouse safe. On treks to the outlying area for supplies, Alex had taken out several of the shape shifters. There weren't many of those left.

Once they had the magnetite, the men went hunting. The war was long, bloody. There were many times with none of them expected to win. But finally, the planet was free of the aliens again. Alex and Walter often ended up fighting back to back. The two made a formidable team.

Alex sat at Walter's side as Mulder established policy. Something they both found amusing. Then they retired to a house far from the new centers of civilization.

Alex was brushing one of the dogs when he heard the vehicle approaching. He looked up as Mulder stepped from the car.



"Where is Walter?"

"He's out hunting. He wants a traditional Thanksgiving. Wild turkeys are plentiful around here now. Lack of civilization has been good for the animals."

"We have civilization. He brought you out here to protect you."

"Is that what you really think?"

Mulder grinned at him. "Actually, I think he wanted to keep you to himself."

"Come on in, we'll have some coffee while we wait."

Alex put the coffee on. Mulder watched him move about the kitchen. One of the Jeremiah's had restored Alex's arm before they left. With the stress of war behind him, his life peaceful with the man he loved, Alex looked at least ten years younger than his age.

They discussed how the world was faring. Mulder told him about finding William, the orphaned children that he and Scully were raising, the ones still needing homes.

"Don't you think you should start to call her Dana now?"

"I agree, Mulder. Anyone you sleep with should be on a first name basis with you."

"Hello, Walter."

"What brings you out here?" Walter asked as he bent and planted a kiss on Alex before taking the birds he'd shot to the sink.

"May I stay the night? I have a proposition for the two of you."

"You may stay the night, but the answer is no."

"You haven't even heard what I have to say yet."

"Whatever it is, I'm not interested. Alex and I have earned our peace."

"I don't deny that. If anyone else had what I need, don't you think I'd ask them?"

Walter began to pluck the birds as he tried to ignore Mulder. "Alex, if he doesn't shut up soon you have my permission to shoot him."

"Mulder, you better leave off, although, you'll have a chance to run, since I'll need to load my gun."

"Alex, we want to go after them, teach them they shouldn't have messed with humans."

Walter turned to look at Mulder in shock. He then turned to find Alex slowly creeping forward, a look of determination in his eyes. Obviously, Alex thought Mulder had gone round the bend as well.

"Isn't it enough for you that you saved the planet? This is your chance to make a break, live a decent life. What does Dana think about this plan?"

"Scully will help with the preparation. We have people who want to make the trip. I'm not looking for you to go, just to help run things during the development. I'm terrible at organization. Alex could teach survival."

Alex shook his head, hoping Walter wouldn't disagree with him. "Mulder, you’re a pied piper, but this rat is no longer following you. You want to go off after them, maybe piss off another group who is allied with them, go ahead. I just want to live the rest of my life, with my most difficult decision being whether to wake Walter by sucking him or kissing him."

"Alex, this is important. Think of all the people they killed. My sister, your family."

"Going off on a mission of revenge won't change any of this. You've traded one obsession for another. Your energy would be better spent rebuilding, teaching those kids how to be strong, loving Dana." Walter spoke softly.


"You're whining, Mulder, one of your least attractive traits. Now if you want to stay the night, you need to let it drop. We've both said no and that's the end of it."

Mulder looked from one to the other. Alex moved closer to Walter. For the first time he realized that the two of them had become one. He'd known that they were attracted to each other from the beginning, but the war had wrought a bond that would only end with death.

Suddenly, Mulder wanted that with someone. The closest he'd come was with Scully. Walter was right, it was time to spend his energies on a life.

"You guys got anything to drink around here?"

Alex grinned, "Chocolate vodka, scotch, beer, soda."

"Chocolate vodka?"

"Walter found it at one of the abandoned stores we used to stock the place when we first moved out here."

"Thought I could use it to get him drunk and take advantage."

"Hell, Walter, all you ever needed to do was crook your finger at him."

"Now you tell me."

Walter turned back to the sink. Alex opened a cabinet, pulled out two bottles and some glasses. He poured the vodka, then scotch, added a couple of cubes of ice to each glass. Placing the scotch near Walter, Alex handed a glass to Mulder and then opened a cabinet to pull out vegetables to go with the quail.

Mulder sipped his drink as he watched them prepare the meal together. He didn't think they even realized how often they touched or shared a quick kiss. At the same time, they managed to ask him questions about Dana and William.

By the time dinner was ready, he had a nice buzz going. When they went out to feed the livestock, he pulled out a cell phone and dialed his home number.


"Dana . . ."

"Mulder, what's wrong?"

"I think it's time you started to call me Fox."

He heard a soft sigh, "Are you drunk?" He could tell she was teasing.

"Coming out here was a good thing to do. Walter and Alex are building a good life together. They made me reassess where I need to go."

"Oh, Mulder . . ."

"Fox, call me Fox."

"Remind me to give them both a kiss the next time I see them."

"I don't know, Dana, Alex might drop kick you if you mess with his man."

"I love you, hurry home to us."

"First thing in the morning."

They exchanged goodbyes and he got up to go find his hosts. He found them leaning against the fence necking.

"I thought you were feeding the animals."

"All fed. You want a room, or you plan on sleeping on our sofa?"

"A room, Dana's taught me to sleep in a bed. I'll grab my bag. By the way, I called and told her to start calling me Fox."

He headed off toward his car. Alex looked at Walter. "He listened."

"Maybe we should ask him to bring them back for Thanksgiving."

"You might want to wait until you bag us a turkey."

"Hey, I bagged a rat, I'll get us a turkey for thanksgiving."

"Come on, great white hunter, we need to put sheets on the spare bed."

"You'll have to keep it down tonight."

"Me? I was planning on making you beg so he'd know just how much you belong to me."

"I think he knows, Alex. I think he knew before you did."

The two men shared another kiss under the harvest moon, before heading into the house. Mulder slept so well that night he didn't even hear Walter begging his lover for release.


The End

Send Peach feedback
Return to the Main page
Return to the Skinner/Krycek page