by Te
January/February 1999

Disclaimers: Anyone you recognize is most assuredly
not my creation.

Spoilers: This story contains references to the following:
Paper Clip, Apocrypha, Terma, Patient X, the Red and
the Black, Fight the Future, The Beginning, Drive,
Triangle, S.R. 819, and Tithonus.

Ratings Note/Warnings: Rated NC-17 for m/m interaction,
violence, poor language, and content some readers may
find disturbing.

Summary: Betrayal, ambition, love, death, etc.

Author's Notes: After S.R. 819 aired, Viridian and I were
discussing how nice it was to see Krycek back and
wreaking havoc on the world at large. We also discussed
James Marsters' appearance on January 20th's
Millennium (as Thomas Paine/Eric Swan), and how nice
it would be to see him in more of Chris Carter's

So I wrote a self-indulgent little story that became the
opening scene to what is now _Trust_. I "cast" James
Marsters as Chris Kimball and went from there. Marsters
is most famous as the vampire Spike on Buffy the
Vampire Slayer. If you'd like to see a picture of him, go

Or here:

I don't think it's especially necessary, though.

Anyway. For the sake of clarity, and with as few spoilers
as possible, here is the _Trust_ timeline:

The Red and the Black -- the kiss was Feb. 17, 1998
M&K at the Warehouse -- March 20, 1998
Chris' arrival -- July 13, 1998
Triangle -- November 26, 1998
Dreamland -- Probably didn't happen.
S.R. 819 begins -- March 8, 1999
Tithonus begins -- April 6, 1999

Acknowledgments: I usually like to point out exactly what
each and every person who have helped me get through a
story did, but that would take an ungodly number of
pages for this one.

So. I'd like to thank, in no particular order, Laura, Dawn
Sharon, Alicia, Viridian, Rae, Pretty Pretty Dawn Pares,
Spike, Cynthia, Ladonna... All of these lovely, talented
ladies poked, prodded, stroked, betaed, helped with
research, comforted, and generally made sure I wrote all I
could, in the best way that I could. I will be eternally
grateful, and, if you like this story, I hope you
understand that it wouldn't exist were it not for all of

And if you hate it, you can blame them.


No, no, if you hate it, if it disgusts you, if you think
I'm insane, if you have no clue what I'm talking about, if
you see something *glaringly* wrong -- it's MY fault.

And you know you can always feel free to call me on
that at

Whew. On with the show, yes?


Gratuitous song quotes:

"Dangerous in my silence/Deadly to my cause..."
-- "Speak" by Queensryche

"And this is my kind of love/It's the kind that moves on/
It's the kind that leaves me alone."
-- "Chloe Dancer" by Mother Love Bone

July 13, 1998

Kimball had always been good to work with. Always cool,
always a professional, always the kind of partner you could
turn your back on without looking for a knife. The kind of
guy who could fuck up and still convince you that he should
live, if for no other reason then the fact that no one
cleaned up his mistakes faster.

Or maybe it was just the fact he was one of the better
fucks Alex had ever had.

In any case, he'd disappeared some eight months after
they'd begun working together, and Alex hadn't been
remotely young enough to think it was an innocent
occurrence. He wasn't sure he ever had been, really, but it
*was* the first time he'd felt real job dissatisfaction.

It hadn't been long before the damned Mulder assignment.
And then, of course, came the attempts to disappear *him*.
Alex had used the loss of his partner as a reminder to stay
at least *one* jump away from them. Alex figured it was a
brand of grieving Chris Kimball would have been able to

Which was why it was so surprising to see the man here, in
this week's squalid hole of a crashpad, looking rather
alive. And blond. Alex pulled his gun and aimed it squarely
at the other man's head.

"What the fuck did you do to your hair?" Alex had rather
liked the dark, muted brown. It had softened the edges of
the other man's features a little.

Chris smiled brilliantly, same shark's grin as ever. It had
long since guaranteed that no one very *bright* had tried
to hit on him, at least not the sane ones. Well, not in
*Alex's* presence, anyway. And there was suddenly what felt
like a relatively small but effective knife very nearly in
his belly.

"I *dyed* it, you silly bastard."

Alex grinned like a fool.

If it wasn't Chris, it was certainly a reasonable enough
facsimile thereof.

"I missed you." He winced internally and poked the gun a
little too firmly against the other man's forehead in an
attempt to compensate. Which, in turn, led to the *knife*
getting poked a little too firmly against his belly, and
what felt like a large amount of blood getting the
waistband of his jeans wet.

He knew Chris was too careful to kill him just for being an
overemotional idiot, though, and didn't worry overmuch.
Though he certainly didn't take his finger off the trigger.

"Who are you working for these days?" Alex figured a "why
are you alive" would just *beg* for another smart-assed

"Same guy you are. Or, same guy you *were* working for.
Would you care to explain why the man killed himself so
spectacularly? I *liked* him."

//You never called, you never wrote...// Alex snickered to
himself and shrugged, noting happily that Chris had
automatically pulled the knife back a little to make the
move nonfatal. "No fucking clue. He always did pride
himself on being ineffable."

"Yeah, but *still*. Seems rather far to go for a
*statement*. Ah well. Do you plan on holstering that gun
anytime soon? You're making me nervous." Another smile.

Alex snorted and pulled back, not taking off the safety
until the knife had disappeared in Chris' clothes. Entirely
*leather* clothes, he noticed, save for the tight, white t-

"Let me guess: Incredibly Gay Punk."

Chris snickered and turned dramatically. The jacket was
shorter than Alex's own, and his ass was just as pretty as
it used to be. Not quite as pretty as Mulder's ass, but
then few things were.

"You like? I thought it suited your new neighborhood."

"You look like the type who'd promise all sorts of sadistic
thrills, but roll over and beg to be spanked like the bad
boy you are as soon as the poor sucker got you home."

"Damn, I was hoping I'd cut out the middleman and gotten
right to the 'spank me' bit."

"The blond kills it."

"What *do* you have against blonds, anyway, Alex?"

It was a quiet shock that hearing the other man say his
name could feel that good. There was no telling where he'd
been, who he *really* worked for -- though the Brit had
always been close-mouthed about his other direct employees
-- there was no telling *anything*. But Alex was getting a
little tired of change, and if Chris wasn't Chris

He made a decision and turned his back on Chris, walking
more easily than he felt. The puncture wound itched, but
that was good, as it implied it would heal quickly.
However, the spot between his shoulderblades where the
other man's knife would fit perfectly itched, too.

Perhaps not *that* tired, then, but he made it to the old,
sprung couch and sat down without incident. The walk had
seemed to last forever, but when Alex looked up, the other
man was right where he'd left him.

Studying him.

"Anything to drink in this place?"

Alex pulled the half-empty vodka bottle from behind the
middle couch cushion and held it aloft.

Chris snorted. "Getting back to our roots, are we?"

Alex raised an eyebrow. "Better than that damned schnapps
of yours."

"You always said you liked the way all that cinnamon felt
wrapped around your cock and sucking." He began playing
with the laces on his leather pants, perhaps the physical
equivalent of yelling 'fire' in a crowded room. An
incitement to riot with sky blue eyes that had never been
all that soft, but seemed more... brittle... than they used

"Why are you here, Chris?" He wasn't sure whether to be
happy he'd managed to keep most of the weariness out of his
tone or not.

The other man came over to join him on the couch and
liberated him of the bottle, took a swig. "Couldn't just be
a for a quick visit and a blow job, I suppose."

Alex just looked at him.

Chris sighed, took another pull, and handed the bottle
back. "You know we'll both either be back in service to
Them or dead within the week, yes?"

"Were we ever *out* of service to them?"

"No, but you have to admit working for the old man was
plush. I know you can afford better arrangements than

Alex took a drink, briefly pretended he could taste the
other man on the lip of the bottle. "You seem to know a

"I've been... watching you."

"*That's* a reassuring thought. Look, Chris, just tell me
why you're here *now*."

"I need your help."

Well, he *had* always been a selfish bastard. Out for his
own pleasure. If his pleasure hadn't included impaling
himself on Alex's cock repeatedly, it might not have been
such an endearing trait. "Why would I help you?"

"Because you would, of course, be helping yourself. I've
got a physicist in my pocket --"

"The pants seemed too tight for that..." The stupid
response was off his tongue before he could stop himself.

"Fucker. *Anyway*, he's got some interesting new technology
that has, so far, remained outside the purview of our once
and future employers."

Alex handed back the bottle. "I'm listening."


He couldn't *not* think about his arm, how nice it would be
to have one back, but... "Programmable?"

Chris grimaced. "So far, only to kill. That's where you
come in. I need this man protected until he's done all he
can with the nanos, and I need someone to come in and help
figure out the micro-programming. This could be... this
could be what gets us *away* from Them. Freedom, Alex.

"Think of it -- one touch and *anyone* can be infected. And
under our control."

"Why me?"

Chris looked at him seriously for a moment. "You're the
only one I'd ever trust with this."

Trust. That made Alex turn, and he could tell by the look
on the other man's face that his own expression was less
than pleasant.

"What is it, Alex?"

"You reminded me just how ugly the world has gotten."

The other man recoiled, but recovered quickly. "Is this
about the hair? Christ, I'll dye it back if you want..."
The smile invited reciprocation.

Alex shook his head. He *had* trusted Chris. With his life.
With his friendship. In the past, when they'd played with
weapons, there'd never been any chance of fatality short of
massive cosmic joke. Today...

It wasn't that the other man had ever let him down, or even
the low-grade pique that he'd never been in contact all
these years. It was the fact that, since the rather brief
partnership, there hadn't been *anyone* in the world Alex
could really relax with and trust. Not even himself.

He wondered when he'd become so sure he'd have to claw his
way to the top *alone*.

"Give me the doctor's name and location. Then make sure
he's there when my men arrive."

The humor in the other man's eyes was quickly obscured by a
hard glint. It was easy to read. If this was for real,
Chris would be giving up his trump card. Alex could have
the man killed or sold to the highest bidder. But if Chris
really wanted to work with him...

Without a word, Chris handed him a small slip of paper with
a set of co-ordinates and the name Kenneth Orgel. He'd had
it ready. Alex wanted, very badly, to hate himself for not
believing immediately. But hard on the heels of the pang
was a small voice whispering "trap."

"You *can't* know, Alex. Just like you could never know I
wouldn't kill you in your sleep. Just like *I* couldn't
know. We trusted each other --"

"We were kids."

"You were never a kid."

"Fine. We were younger and stupider."

"If we were so stupid, how come we were the only team that
didn't self-destruct within three months?"

It was a good point. It occurred to Alex that he was only
looking for an excuse... "The sex?"

Chris gave his predator smile and looked Alex over with an
ostentatious leer. "You said it wasn't the hair... would it
make you feel better if I took off my pants?"

"Always, but that's not the point."

"What *is* the point?"

Alex caught the other man's eye, realized he'd already
enlisted the Tunisians in his head.. "I don't have one.
Let's do this."

Chris clapped him on the shoulder. "We're gonna take over
the world."

Alex shuddered, and remembered precisely why he wouldn't be
especially heartbroken if the other man ceased to be a
blond. Still, though, he couldn't help but smile. "Yeah. We

July 14, 1998
Late morning/Afternoon

Langly put his head in his hands and winced. The phone call
hadn't been expected. It seemed a violation that they could
just tap him at the Lone Gunmen office any time they
wanted, but he had the distinct impression that he'd be
growing used to it.

It had been three years since an afternoon's idle, careless
hack had found him in that small, windowless room with the
large, silent men. Three years since they'd pointed out how
easy it would be to crush the Gunmen like bugs.

They'd showed Langly hours of surveillance footage. Byers,
despite years of this, was still distressingly... regular.
There had been far less of himself and Frohike, and the
sudden knowledge that they'd been right all along was

By the time they'd let him out, Langly had new employers.

Maybe it wouldn't have been so easy to just push the fact
of his betrayal back and back if they'd used him more
often. As it was, an 'unhackable' computer system here and
there -- and the information he gained shockingly easy to
forget, for everyone's good -- but, other than that, he was
left alone. It seemed they saw computer experts like
canisters of baking powder with legs. The sort of thing it
seemed as though you ought to have around, but that rarely
got used.

Baking Powder. Jesus. He'd been spending too much time with
John. Langly knew if he didn't follow this latest set of
orders it would only be a matter of time before *that* blew
up in his face. Or, God help him, John's...

"Langly, are you all right?"

He snapped back to himself with a jerk and found himself
staring into a look so damned *concerned* he thought he was
going to be sick. "John... yeah, yeah, I'm OK. I just have
a headache."

The other man reached out and cupped his cheek lightly, the
sort of casual, affectionate contact that drove Langly
insane on a regular basis. It was almost a biological
imperative that he take John somewhere, anywhere, and make
him feel what he felt -- this naked need that really didn't
have much to do with sex at all. Langly bit at the fingers
in front of his mouth lightly, and John chuckled.

Langly bet John knew full well just how badly he needed it.
And John was more than kind enough to give... He could feel
the confession roiling at the back of his throat and
swallowed hard. John was looking at him expectantly. Langly
decided to focus on the other man's hand, instead.

"I need to... run a few errands."

He could almost *feel* John frown. "If it's a bad headache
you'd probably lay down for a while..."

Langly looked up with his best leer, hoping to Christ it
reached his eyes. "Don't worry, Princess. I'll be back."

//I hope.//


Alex sat in the aging leather chair and spun a bit. He was
in the back office of a conveniently empty building in
Southwest, waiting for his computer guy. Well, recently
his. The old man's death, while inconvenient on the
employment end of things, had left him with a few useful

The building was one of Chris' local holdings. Which begged
the question of how long he'd been in town. And what was he
planning for this building, and had he really told Alex
everything, and what the hell was he doing, anyway?

His thoughts were interrupted by the slide of
excruciatingly tight denim across the desk. He could afford
to talk, as his own jeans were merely just-a-little-too

"Your ass is gonna get dusty, Chris."

Long legs were swung over the side of the desk to dangle
just between his own. Chris had always been lean, but he
was approaching whipcord these days. "Buff it clean for

Alex snorted, but spread his legs a little wider, not
missing the way the other man's eyes followed the motion
hungrily. He'd *always* been a slut. Which begged yet
another question.

"Just what exactly were you doing for the old man all these
years?" //... that left you without the same resources I


All Alex could do was blink.

"I was a glorified *nanny* for his lovely granddaughters."

"That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen."

"Mary Poppins with a gun?"

"Mary Poppins with a dick."

"Hey, she kept a lot of things in that bag of hers...."

They shared a smile, and Alex was absolutely positive Chris
was thinking about Mary Poppins strapping on and teaching
her charges some discipline. Then again, he was, too.

It had been too long...

"How did you wind up taking care of the man's loved ones?
Or was that the point? Prune back the family tree a bit?"

Chris stretched out some and rested his crossed ankles on
Alex's thigh. Alex obligingly started massaging one ankle
through the battered combat boots.

"Nothing exciting, just guard duty and the occasional hit.
Orgel was actually a visiting master I'd been sent to check
out. You can never trust a break in routine.... You know,
those girls' schools aren't nearly as exciting as they're
made out to be."

"Hot lesbian teens? You remind me of an old acquaintance."

"How many pedophiles do you *have* in your life?"

Alex batted his lashes and tried on a simper. "None of them
were as cute as *you*, Christopher."

The other man reacted in the expected manner to his full
name, moving to kick Alex with the leg that wasn't being
petted. Alex didn't move, and the steel-toed boot stopped
neatly about an inch from his cheekbone. Alex was abruptly
aware of his cock and licked his lips. Watched Chris' eyes

Chris lowered his leg and practically slithered off the
desk, a sinuous move that left him on Alex's lap. Alex
leaned back a little to make it easier for the other man to
kiss him. When it came, it was surprisingly gentle, a slow
tasting apparently built more on the effort to re-
familiarize than lust.

For all their games, they hadn't touched each other last
night, talking into the wee hours about entertaining films
and interesting assignments. Sharing aliases, showing off
only those scars in G-rated areas by tacit agreement. Alex
had good-naturedly kicked him out to wherever he called
home sometime around four.

But, God. It was *good* to have the other man's tongue in
his mouth again. Alex ran his hand down the warm back,
separated from his skin by just one thin layer of fabric...
Alex pulled the t-shirt out from the waistband and began to
rub the small of the other man's back in hard circles.
Chris reacted immediately, groaning into Alex's mouth and
slipping one hand down to rub his own cock through the

Alex couldn't help but start laughing into his kiss.
Perfect Chris to be so matter-of-fact about his needs....
He had to know *precisely* how irritating and sexy his
actions were, and yet they were also natural. Chris broke
the kiss, but moved in closer still until the chair
threatened to break. Perfect.

"Chris." Blue eyes were being obscured by widening pupils
that seemed to cast ominous shadows over the rest of the
eye. Lovely to watch. "Take your pants off and choke it. I
wanna see you come."

And Chris bit his shoulder hard enough to draw blood and
then stood, grinning viciously, and began to unbutton his
fly. A burlesque of efficiency, sacrificing few of the
thrills along the way. But he'd barely gotten his dick out
before the silent alarm indicated -- painfully brightly --
that an intruder was downstairs.

Alex sighed and got his gun out, automatically shifting
into position. Chris had his cock in his right hand and his
gun in his left. He looked angry, and rather determined.

"Oh, Alex, I do hope this is someone I can kill."

A pointed glance at the other man's cock. "And then what?"

"Don't pout, Alex. You *know* you'll have your turn."


Chris began a two minute countdown in his head. If it was a
random, he'd be tripping several alarms in that time
period. If it was a professional who had just screwed up at
the door, he'd be in the office by then and Chris would be
fighting for his life. His cock twitched in his hand and he
stroked instinctively, wondering if he'd gotten enough of
*his* Alex back that he'd at least glance over at Chris'
small groan.

Chris didn't bother to check, though, and found himself
sighing internally. Nearly a minute had passed without
further alarms. The maze -- ever-shifting, of course -- of
old boxes and crumbling office equipment downstairs didn't
seem to be stopping their visitor. Chris growled quietly
and zipped up, regretting the tightness of his jeans for
just long enough to sexualize the pain.

Now *that* had been a useful skill to develop.

Sort of like learning to avoid Alex.

But that thought was cut off by the satisfying metallic
thud from below that meant their visitor had tripped the
very large trap in the stairwell. Chris grinned and
holstered his gun. Turned to find Alex eyeing him
curiously. Well, perhaps 'suspiciously' was a better word.

//How long have I been here that I could set this up? Go
on, ask.// It wasn't that he had a good answer, not by a
long shot. But Chris desperately wanted to get that
particular interrogation over with. It might be their job
to keep secrets, but in the old days...

"Shall we pick up our new friend?"

Alex's face was blankly amiable again. Chris wondered if
this counted as one of those tiny resentments that eat a
friendship from the inside out. He wondered if this counted
as reading too much into a look, and if he was building his
*own* resentments. He shook it off.

"After you, Alex."

Alex walked to the stairs, gun still in hand. "Well, all
right... but I'm not cleaning up the mess if the wall
caught the stupid bastard."

The stupid bastard turned out to be a natural blond with
some of the thickest glasses he'd ever seen. Though young
Elspeth had come close. Disappointingly enough, he hadn't
been caught by the falling walls, and was now watching them
intently. Chris turned away from the bulletproof window and
looked a question at his partner.

"Say hello to our new computer guy, Chris. Mr. Ringo no-
middle-initial Langly."

"Weren't we supposed to pick him -- his name is *Ringo*?"

Alex snickered. "You gotta hate it when parents get cute
with their kids' names. And yeah, we were supposed to pick
him up. It looks like our new friend decided to get cute,

"Oh, I love cute."

"Who doesn't?"

Chris grinned and pulled his gun again. It had been much
too long. "Let's show him how much we love cute."


Langly leaned slightly into the chair they'd thrown him
into and bit back a groan. They hadn't touched his face,
arms, or legs, but he knew he wouldn't be taking off his
shirt for a few weeks. It had, apparently, not been the
smartest idea to trace the phone call. All he'd wanted was
a slightly more level playing field.

He wasn't going to get it.

He thought of John and winced. He knew he didn't have the
finesse to reject the other man without hurting him.

And Langly knew he'd have to hurt him.

The neo-Nazi-looking bastard had been content with just
beating him while the other -- his name was Krycek, he knew
it -- had held him by the throat until his limbs weakened
from the lack of oxygen. And then he'd started whispering
in Langly's ear. Things no one should have known, and he'd
thought about Mulder, and he'd remembered the way Mulder
had just *stopped* bitching -- after *years* -- about
Krycek one day this past spring...

He swallowed hard, and tried to believe that Mulder had had
a good reason for taking Krycek into his confidence again.
But that thought died quickly when he took too deep a
breath. Bruised ribs, among other things. Jesus. There was
no one he could tell. No one.

And they were talking to him.

"... programmed. The problem seems to be within the
controls. They can kill, we want them to do other things,
as well."

//Why?// "When you're talking about machines *that* small
you need to bring in micro-hardware experts. I'm just a
programmer, not the guy you need--"

Krycek cut him off. "No, you aren't. Maker Kai is, but I
shot him two years ago. John Fitzgerald Byers, however, is
the picture of health."

The Nazi threw Krycek a look at that, but Langly was too
busy not puking to pay much attention. "Look, John doesn't
know, he'd never --"

"That sounds a hell of a lot like *your* problem, doesn't
it, Ringo?" A cheerful grin.

"I'm sure you'll find a way around the difficulty, Langly,"
Krycek said. "In the meantime, this disk has all the
information you need to get started."

A bright new CD appeared in the Nazi's hand, late afternoon
sunlight whickering off of it in glints and rainbows.

Langly reached out and took it, as well as the sleeve
Krycek so kindly provided. He had a sudden, impossibly
vivid image of the two of them using the thing as a frisbee
at some point before he'd arrived. Langly shook it off and
found them both eyeing him blankly, eyes cleared of even
the dark interest in his own suffering. He took it as a
dismissal. Stood, and walked toward the exit.

"Oh, and Ringo?" The Nazi, then. He paused and waited, but
did not turn around again. "Take the elevator this time."

A muffled snort from behind and Langly started walking
again. Made it back outside without incident, and headed
for his Cordoba -- parked a safe two blocks away.

And began to dream of the day when revenge would hurt no
one but the bastards and himself.

It would come.

July 15, 1998
Wee Hours

Mulder threw his head back and moaned, leaving his neck
vulnerable to Alex's assault.

Alex. He was Alex now, and Mulder didn't think he'd ever be
anything else again. Unless he asked to be. God, his mouth
was the hottest thing he'd ever felt and his hand was
working on Mulder's pants --

"Alex, yes..."

That earned him a bite, well beneath the collar line.
Incredibly stupid as it was, he wished the other man would
leave marks someplace where he'd be able to see them
without a mirror. Mulder knew Alex was far too practical
for that. It was better that they keep this secret for now.

Alex was pushing him back to the couch and Mulder had to
admit 'for now' was most probably 'forever.' There'd just
been too much history. And however much he craved the man
busily stripping him naked, there remained the nagging
suspicion that this, all this, was just another reason he
should be put away.

But Alex was mouthing his nipples like he had the first
time. Devouring him voraciously, greedy for *him*. Mulder
had blurted "fucking temptation" while holding Alex against
a wall with his arm and his gun. Watched as the expression
in the other man's eyes had melted from frightened rage to

And he'd been helpless not to respond when Alex had
whispered 'I'm not the only one,' closed his eyes and
turned away. It had made sense. Alex had done some terribly
stupid things to, apparently, stay close to him. And it was
hard to think about Tunguska without thinking about the
hard, ungiving plastic he'd felt that time when Alex had
knocked him down...

Of course, those rationalizations hadn't come until after
the other man had knelt and taken him in his mouth --

"Let me... please."

That was Alex whispering in his ear, and that was exactly
what he'd said that afternoon. And Mulder had gasped and
let Alex do whatever he wanted. Which was precisely what he
was doing now. Tasting him, tonguing him, groaning softly
around his length...

So damned sexy and Mulder couldn't stop himself from
reaching out to stroke the pumping cheek, absurdly touched
that Alex had shaved. //For me...// He looked up at
Mulder's touch with an expression that nearly *hurt*.

Mulder cried out and closed his eyes against the look,
needing to make this last as long as possible. But when
Alex took him deep his hips began to buck, helpless not to
fuck that beautiful, willing mouth. He could hear himself
grunting breathlessly with each thrust, feel the moderately
obscene friction of his cock brushing along the roof of the
other man's mouth.

Heat and suction, wet and ruthlessly needful. Alex didn't
give blow jobs, he *took* them. And Mulder gave himself up
to it, playing with his own nipples. Letting his body
writhe precisely the way it wanted to for the few blissful
moments before he lost it, shooting hard and jerking at the
force of his orgasm.

When it was over, Mulder weaved his fingers through the
other man's hair and stroked the damp scalp. Alex was
resting against his thigh. The rare, coveted moment lasted
only a little while before Alex -- still fully dressed --
stood and began to straighten his clothes. His erection was
clearly defined by the pants.

Mulder stood as well, walked carefully close. When Alex
didn't make any moves toward shaking him off, Mulder
wrapped his arms around him and pulled him in for a kiss.
He tasted himself and moaned into Alex's mouth, prompting
Alex to tighten his grip around Mulder's waist.

If he couldn't feel the other man's want in the hard cock
pressing insistently against his hip, Alex's kiss removed
all doubt. Hungrier than even before, a kiss that demanded
token resistance before abject surrender.

Later, Mulder would remind himself how many times he'd made
*Alex* gibber and sob, and it would almost take the hurt

Mulder broke the kiss for a gulp of air, and was just
diving back in when Alex shook his head, biting his lip.


"I... I have to go, Mulder. I have places I need to be, and
if I'm not... I'm sorry, please, I'm sorry, but I... I
needed so badly to see you..."

The only possible response to that was a quick kiss that
Mulder wouldn't mind defining as "forgiving." The act of
forgiveness would, perhaps, be meaningless without the
taste of iron in their mouths.

And when Alex walked out, Mulder slipped his pants back on,
finding a disk jabbing out of the pocket a bit. He wondered
if Alex would let him say just how unimportant -- to *him*
-- those small bits of information were. Sure, every small
step toward the goal was appreciated, but it made Mulder
ill to think the other man would only come if he thought he
had something good for Mulder...

Next time. Next time he'd make it clear.


When Alex got back to the pavement he took a slow, deep
breath. And immediately regretted it. Summer in the D.C.
area was hazardous to the health for any number of reasons.
He made his way to his car -- a safe two blocks away -- and
wondered which "home" would be least offensive to the

He opened the door and slid in, unsurprised to find Chris
there in the driver's seat, waiting for him. He'd been kind
enough to wave when Alex had gotten within fifteen yards.
His partner was always considerate -- at least where the
status of his own ass was in question.

It was good to be with someone who had all the same
personality flaws you did. Like hanging around with a six
foot tall validation doll. Can't help but make you feel
better. Alex leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes,
waved vaguely at the other man to start the car. Before
they went anywhere, though, there were cool fingers pressed
against his swollen lips, and between them was a piece of

Part of him wanted to chide his partner for being so wedded
to his loves -- Alex was quite sure that you could use
Chris' blood to season French Toast -- but the rest of
him... The rest of him wanted to purr that Chris had
remembered how he liked a piece of gum after a blowjob.

It felt damned good, really, and Alex idly turned that
thought in his head, wondering if it would have to go on
the Discard Pile with all the Mulder thoughts.

No one had been more surprised than Alex to find Mulder
kissing him feverishly. Tossing aside his gun so he'd have
both hands free to rip Alex's clothes off. When Mulder had
said something about temptation, Alex's first thought had
been a sharp stab of fear that Mulder really *would* shoot
him this time. But then he'd seen those eyes.

Eyes that had only a moment before been nearly black with
anger had melted into a look of abject terror. He'd
thought, 'Mulder just told me a secret,' and his brain
immediately kicked into adaptability mode. Mulder found him
tempting, play to the identification audience.

'I'm not the only one who is a terrible temptation,
Mulder,' and the following 'to someone...' had been wisely
unspoken. Alex had looked up again, then followed the vague
drive that was suggesting he turn his head and frown. It'd
been the right thing to do because that plush, cruel mouth
had finally landed on his own and elsewhere, too.

At one point he'd slammed Mulder against a wall of boxes,
causing several to tumble. A flight of sparrows took to the
air and wheeled madly beneath the warehouse roof, desperate
for those tiny flashes of dusted sunlight coming from
windows nailed shut perhaps before he'd been born.

Alex had come back to himself at the feel of the other man
fumbling at his fly. He'd felt the game slipping away,
caught Mulder's cheek with his palm, and tilted his face up
to meet Alex's own. Mulder took the hint and stood up all
the way, looking a worried question into his eyes.

"It's nothing, Mulder... I just... I just..." He'd brought
his hand down to Mulder's crotch for emphasis. "Mulder, let
me... please."

And Mulder had. After that, it had been almost criminally
easy. No, Mulder, you're not in *my* power, I'm in *your*
power. Look how I need you, Mulder! Look at me endanger my
life to bring you information --

Not really. Alex hadn't come close to plumbing the
information at his fingertips from the Brit, not even
before he kicked.

-- See how bad my life is without you, though I'll never
say a word. Just look at my tattered clothes, my poor
deformity. Never once think my eyes may look weary for
reasons other than my nightly dreams about you, my darling

Criminally easy, since it was just a resurrection of the
role he'd played before. And if his Fox chose not to
remember that, well... It wasn't *Alex's* fault that Mulder
had never jumped young Agent Krycek's bones. However, to be
fair, saying that he'd never wanted to do *exactly* what
he'd just done for Fox Mulder would be a lie Alex knew
would tax his own abilities.

But these were the sort of thoughts that could trip an
actor up come his next performance... Alex shook it off and
sat up straight, earning a thigh-squeeze from Chris.

He supposed it would've been nicer to fuck the other man
before he'd left for his rendezvous with Fox, but, as far
as Alex was concerned, Chris had made him wait over five
years. *He* could wait another few hours. Perhaps a night.

The thought went under the knife. //Petty and implying the
investment of emotion? Yes, but I'm responding to the
signals he's putting out, in a way that will keep him at
ease.// Happily rationalized again, Alex turned to his
companion and asked:

"Are we there yet, Pa?"

"Don't make me get the belt, you whining little monkeypunk.
Only reason we're stuck with you izzat yo' damned mama
forgot her P-I-Double hockey sticks."

"Awww, Pa! I thought I was your pride and joy! Your son!"

"I thought you was my son, too, until you started wearing
those goddamned dresses. I knew right then you wasn't right
in the *haid*, boy. What's *wrong* with you? What is your
major mal*function*, numbnuts?"

Alex couldn't stand it anymore and started to giggle
helplessly at the jumble of pseudo-Southern accents he was
being treated to. Hints of uppercrust British began to
creep out here and there, as signs of Chris' former
employment began to make themselves known. That was
definitely The Wife at one point...

Chris had always needed a little time to prepare himself
for an accent, chase the others he'd stored up away. He'd
told Alex once that he only exerted the barest control over
his own voice, to make it easier to mimic the sounds he'd
heard... Alex resolved that Chris would have plenty of time
to get the English accent to a proper level of

"Y'all done, Alex?"

"I'm done."

July 15, 1998
Wee Hours

A pause while they drove through darkened city streets.
Alex wasn't sure whether or not he should feel this
relieved that they were obviously leaving *his* apartments
behind. On the one hand, they were great camouflage, and
the hardest-nosed cops always started to let their eyes
glaze over in neighborhoods like that.

On the other hand, they were shitholes.

"He seems to be... aging."

No reason to ask who Chris was referring to. "It seems to
be... inevitable."

"Prick, you know what I mean. How much effort is he really

Alex snickered. "On those nights when I'm not tragically
called away on business, we have sex multiple times. After
that... Well, the man's pillow talk is highly valuable."

"Which is why you destroyed the bugs."

//What *are* you insinuating, slut of mine?// "No, Chris.
The bugs were destroyed because I'm not doing this for
Them. This is all mine."

"And your pet federale provides enough to make up for the
perpetual puppy face?"

Alex snorted. "Just how close *were* you?"

Chris studiously kept his eyes on the road. "I like the way
your lips move when you're begging to be allowed to blow

"Don't get your hopes up, honeypie."

"Believe me, I won't."

Alex filed away the uncharacteristic seriousness for later,
and the rest of the ride was silent, as was the ascent to
Chris' posh suite at the Hilton. He repressed the urge to
mutter something about subtlety and went to take a shower.


Chris flopped on one bed and struggled to relax. All
this... friction was, at bottom, his own damned fault. He
was almost positive now that Alex resented him for not
making contact at some point over the years. It was the
sort of thing that would probably make them both laugh if
there wasn't business between them.

As it was, Alex would never completely trust him, so Chris
couldn't relax and trust *Alex* the way he wanted to, and,
yes, this *was* the sort of thing that could fuck them up.

They had to sit on Orgel, flog their personal geek into
behavior, keep all of this secret... Neither of them was
willing to let the other out of his sight for very long,
and the test prototype for the nanos was months away. They
*had* to work things out.

And poking bitterly at Alex's unwitting informant wasn't
going to help. But it had been abundantly clear on that
fire escape that Mulder actually *loved* Alex. Sarcasm and
iceman impressions aside, there was no way someone like
them could resist that sort of thing for long.

And Mulder had probably never told any *big* lies to Alex.

Chris couldn't shake the suspicion that if he'd contacted
Alex once, just fucking *once* over the years, a lot of his
worries wouldn't exist. A simple 'I'm alive, please forget
you saw this if you want me to stay that way,' would've
taken care of *everything*.

But one of those bullets had taken off the top of his ear,
dammit, and when the Brit's men had yanked him into a car
and driven him to safety... When the old man had offered
him that pleasant little household position, Chris had
*jumped* for the chance. //Think I have more to offer alive
than dead? Well, isn't *that* a coincidence...//

Chris had been more than happy to be the old man's man
about the house. He was fed, he was paid, young Jane's
little friends were sluts who could keep their mouths shut,
and, occasionally, there was some of the violence and
general mayhem he'd gotten *in* this racket for.

None of the intra-operation intrigues that had left him
looking like a well-chewed alleycat, and had given him all
sorts of headaches before then. And that was a blessing and
a curse. While he'd taken to his new operation like a duck
to water, there'd been that day with The Wife.

The Wife was a... formidable... woman who owned far more
mourning clothes than was strictly necessary. Gave a man
the impression that she knew something he didn't. The Wife
had called him into her study one day, motioned him into
something he'd always thought of as the Supplicant Chair,
and started talking.

"Do you know why you're still alive?"

He'd bitten back the first six replies that had come to
mind. "No, madam, I do not."

A narrowing of clouding grey eyes -- she would have surgery
the next year -- as she tested his response for sincerity.
Finally, a tight, ungiving nod. "You live because you
haven't the ambition of a tree frog, Mr. Kimball. You would
do well to stay that way."

And he had sat there in silence until she'd dismissed him,
and waited an entire week before dosing one of her pears
with a laxative. The hell of it was that she was absolutely
right. He *had* only gotten in for the weapons and money.
The world... the world was a place to rake over until you'd
scratched out every bit of joy you could find, and then, if
you were lucky, you died.

Alex, however, took his passion from the World.

The vague, nascent thoughts -- he'd had them, he'd swear to
that -- about suggesting he be given a partner had died,
right there and then. There wasn't a soul within the
greater organization who knew Alex and *couldn't* smell the
ambition on him.

There was still no excuse for not calling, writing,
something... Chris held himself up to the light and
squinted. Yes, he *was* just selfish enough to not want to
contact the man if he couldn't *have* him. He shied away
from his awareness of the car bomb, or, rather, his
awareness that his former employer would be doing some
downsizing. He didn't want to consider what that meant.

And Alex was coming out of the bathroom, towel wrapped
around his waist. //How do you do that with one arm?// It
was his first good look at the stump, other than those
photos the old man had taken when Alex -- finally -- had
been taken into his employ. The scars were livid against
the reddened skin, all of them, his body crossed here and
there with the evidence of an ambitious life.

He was rather too pale for the summer, but Chris couldn't
talk with his own burn-peel-burn-some-more skin. He was
bulkier than he used to be, too. Chris wasn't sure he
wanted to know when Alex had stopped eating when-he-
remembered and started eating when-he-could. It wasn't that
it looked *bad* on him -- quite the opposite, really -- it
was the solid physical proof that this wasn't his Alex

More so than the arm, even. Nobody got up and walked after
a maiming like Alex.

His nipples, however, were the same darkly rose coins
they'd ever been. Chris' mouth watered and he raised his
eyes to Alex's own. He looked hungry, and that was just
fine with Chris.



John knocked on Langly's door, encouraged by the way it
opened at his touch. He'd closed it two hours ago -- one
o'clock in the morning -- when he'd checked on Langly and
found him still absent from the prior afternoon.

He had no problems admitting that he'd been worried.


"Mmmph. Sorry, John. Things took... took longer than I

He was stretched out in his usual sprawl, spread-eagle on
his stomach. If John was in bed with him, he'd be
thoroughly pinned by an arm and a leg.

"Do you need anything?"

Langly turned to face him, squinting a little in the light
from the hallway. He moved a little stiffly, the sort of
thing that made his hands ache to touch him better again.
John moved to block the light a little more and found the
other man looking at him far more softly than usual. It was
all John could do not to pounce on him and swear... swear
to everything and anything at all.

"I'm fine, John. Just tired."

He could feel his muscles releasing, less a loss of tension
than a physical disappointment. He nodded at Langly. "All
right. I'll leave you to get some rest, then."

Langly didn't speak until he'd tugged the door nearly
closed again.

"Princess... remind me tomorrow. I have... I have something
I ha-- I want to show you."

Light shake, hesitation in the grating voice. John wondered
if Langly would ever feel completely comfortable opening up
to him, but smiled as he did so. He was, after all, opening
up *anyway*, no matter how apprehensive he felt about it.

"I will... Hairboy."

He cut the small growl off with the click of the door
shutting behind him, and headed back to bed. As he drifted
into sleep, he idly turned the question of Langly's
"errands" in his head.

He couldn't help but think there'd come a time when he knew
all about them, and everything else Langly was involved in,
too. They were making something of this... this
relationship that went beyond friendship and sex. John
couldn't remember ever being happier.

July 15, 1998
Late Morning

Alex was asleep, and Chris couldn't help but take advantage
of that situation.

It had been a long, slow fuck. Alex had cuffed him to the
headboard and punished each of his attempts to increase the
pace by withdrawing and waiting until Chris had begged for
a sufficiently long time before sliding back in. Sweet,
sweet torture...

It made perfect sense that Alex would use sex for
punishment. They'd both long since learned to use it for
any number of things. Swiss Army cocks, to be crude about
it, and Chris knew that Alex could break him to the leash
rather easily with a little time and patience.

He could probably do the same, if he felt like it. Of
course, motivation *was* probably a large part of the
process, but he had always preferred making men insane in
other ways. After all, if they took the time to train him
into proper behavior, they were probably interested in more
than just a quick fling.

Unless they were really, really sick. Chris was deeply
offended by the idea of training a pet only to toss him out
on the streets.

He shook it off and turned his attention back to Alex,
splayed in a seemingly casual fashion beside him on the
bed. The stump was out for all to view, but his hand was
out of sight behind the pillow, loosely wrapped around a

*Tense* motherfucker, though Chris wouldn't complain if
Alex saved their asses while he was busy getting his own
gun out from under the pillows. He wondered how much of the
disparity between them was his getting soft among the
terribly well-educated and how much was Krycek living like
a damned animal for years.

He still hadn't double-checked to make sure his gun was
within reach, yet. He *was* soft. He sighed, rolled over a
bit, and checked. Sure enough, his Beretta had inched close
to the edge of the bed, and would probably have fallen off
with his next remotely energetic move.

Alex, it seemed, was good for his health. At least in terms
of reminding him how to be who he was supposed to be. He
thought of the Simpsons episode where Bart pleads with his
cute, yet evil girlfriend to stop making him into a
criminal when all he wanted was to be a petty thug...

Well, thug was mostly all right with him, but Chris had to
admit that 'petty' would have offended his sensibilities
sooner rather than later. It was just *irritating* that
being an agent of the shadow governments was so damned
*stressful* sometimes. Sure, when he was out there being an
unidentified gunmen/bomber/assailant/whatever, he was
taking his life in his hands, but it was always his
*choice*, then.

He hated the idea that he'd have to sleep with one eye open
for the rest of his life -- no, he refused to believe that.
He'd have to do this only until he'd stolen a little bit of
room for himself, and then he could sleep well at night.
And only have to be vigilant when *he* wanted to be.

He ran a finger down the center of Alex's chest, felt him
wake beneath his fingertip. Alex kept his eyes closed,
though, and that was encouraging. Permission. Chris
immediately knelt up and straddled the other man's thighs,
running his hands up and down the nearly smooth chest
mindlessly. The curve of Alex's lips was almost too subtle
to discern.


Chris scooted back a little further and leaned in,
bypassing the still mostly-at-rest cock to nuzzle into the
dark, curly hair whose variable scents he'd once known
better than his own. Breathed deep and growled a little.
Too damned clean. There were days they'd fuck each other
until they were nearly shooting air. Raw. And then just lay
wrapped around each other, sticky and rank with sweat and

They were younger then. Stupider, to use Alex's term. They
were both right. When you're young you feel so damned good
that the idea of immortality is perfectly rational. It was
only after a few years of close scrapes, a few years of
waking up every couple of months with a new scar and a
broken nose, that immortality becomes fanciful.

All the good feeling was gone. Then again, if they'd come
for him that day while he'd still been in Alex's bed --
instead of when he was cruising the backstreets that night
in search of cheap... anything -- they'd both be dead now.
And Chris wouldn't be able to breathe deep like this.
Hypnotizing himself with the powerful, long-loved scent of
the man who had been, and, as far as he was concerned,
would always be his partner.


Chris may have gotten soft, but it wouldn't last long. He'd
lied and hid, but there was no way he'd do that again. Not
with opportunity dangling just above his reach. Power. If
power was what it took to have a little breathing room in
this world, then he'd gladly scrape and scrabble for it. So
long as he had an Alex perfectly willing to take the
nastiness from his hands, all was well.

He knew Alex would find him a quiet corner somewhere, feed
him assignments now and then. Perhaps it would even be his
home away from home. Alex could hone his skills against his
fully-trained and exceedingly well-kept...

Kept. Hmmm.

"Alex, can I be your kept boy?"

The eyes opened immediately, sleepily blank, or maybe
simply blank with most of the disconcerting aspects muted.
"Do you clean?"

"My weapons...?"

"Do you cook?"

"Peasants in the wrong places?"

"Do you fuck?"

Chris responded to that by taking Alex's mouth with his
own, his body still in that muzzy state of unraveling
sleep. He felt he could almost taste the Alex's soul with
his kiss -- thick, bitter, overwhelming and perhaps that
was because his own breath was being stolen. He broke the
kiss and knelt up again, carefully rubbing their cocks
together with short, subtle hip rotations.


Alex's eyes had closed at some point, and Chris was treated
to a brief image of satyr at peace. Not a real peace -- at
any given point the leanly muscled thighs between his own
could trap him quite neatly. And though lashes swept Alex's
cheeks, the first flush of arousal set them off in pink.
Not asleep, not awake... resting on the edge of an assault.

He dove in and nuzzled the warm, slightly sweaty throat.
Kissing softly between bites. When Alex's hand rested on
the back of his head and tightened, Chris was almost
disappointed. But that died when Alex suddenly curled his
fingers and yanked him up by the hair.


"You can't be my kept boy."

If Chris listened as hard as he was wont to do, he would be
able to hear the unspoken 'yet.' That was his story and he
was sticking to it. In the meantime, however, he did
nothing but raise an eyebrow. An 'oh, were we *still*
talking about that?' moment.

"You can be my whore."

The hand in his hair was gentling, so Chris shook it off
altogether. "What's the difference between a kept boy and a

Alex smiled, ran a finger down his cheek. Chris did not rub
his face into it.

"The difference. Hmm. Well, a kept boy does what I want
when I want it, but only so long as erogenous zones are
involved. The rest of the time, he simply lazes about the
summer house, eats expensive food, and stains all the nice
coverlets. A whore... a whore will suck my cock when I tell
him to, and then go out there and be my partner."

The urge to question the other man's definitions came and
went in a flash of his growing smile. "Your partner?"

The hand was cupping his cheek again, seemingly content to
brush at the light stubble. A sensation somewhere between
irritating and oddly erotic. Chris moved his head with the
strokes, keeping his eyes fixed on Alex's half-lidded

"Mine, Chris. Mine. All the time, every day, no excuses."

His stomach had plummeted, and he wasn't sure how much he
agreed with this, there'd been no whips, no scarring for
this new ownership. Was it what he'd wanted? "No escape?"

"Escape is for when we win."

Perfectly matter-of-fact, and their gazes remained locked.
The opportunity was flawed, but he'd had worse. Whether he
wanted this or not, he wanted the eventual freedom from
Them. He wanted Alex.



"All the time, every day, no excuses, no escape. Partner."

"Partner..." The word was released slowly, gave the
impression of being held on the tongue for savor. Chris
shifted until he was beside the other man on the bed, eyes
focused on the ceiling, trying to see the images Alex was

Armies where all the soldiers were nano-ed. Track them,
position them with ease, let them heal themselves of all
but the most inopportunely placed bullets within hours,
kill them if they desert with the barest flick of a switch.

Old men, weary heads beneath his -- no, *their*
bootheels... Fiery speeches, shameless daylight purges. A
new world order. Chris knew he was going too far, but the
hard glint in Alex's eyes, the happy killer grin...

The urge to wonder about just 'what he'd done' was nearly
irresistible, but he swallowed it. He'd done what he had
to. Chris shifted again so he could kiss his way to the
well-awakened cock waiting for him.

More importantly, he'd done what he wanted.


John watched a "nanomachine" rotate on the monitor and
rubbed idly at his beard. Langly was pacing behind him. The
"errand" had apparently been a trip to see an old friend
who needed some help with her new game software lest she
lose an account. The fact that John had never heard of this
Alice person before tended to suggest an ex-lover. Perhaps
with more problems than just her software. Ringo Langly to
the rescue? Certainly so if she didn't want to do any of
the work...

And then there was the way Langly had asked if they could
"cool it" this morning. They were moving too fast, he
wanted to slow down...

It had felt like a rejection. *God*, it had felt like a
rejection. But Langly had asked, not told. And the way he'd
kissed him afterward... so shy and grateful. It had taken a
while to realize there'd been no attendant embrace, and by
then John had already agreed with Langly in his own mind.

He'd long since agreed with him out loud.

But there was *something* here Langly wasn't telling. Even
beyond the vague bitterness about the cooling-off that kept
cropping up to be beaten down again... Well, John was
*almost* sure he wasn't just being petty. The man seemed so

So many secrets. So many... John wasn't blind. While the
first time -- Langly suddenly on his knees and making him
see colors -- had been rather impulsive, it had been
entirely his choice as to whether it would ever be anything
more than one, long night.

It may have taken four and a half years for John to finally
give up his apartment, but he'd been living at Headquarters
long since. And that had been *more* than enough time to
realize there were some things Langly simply didn't talk
about. More so after they'd begun sleeping together.

All that casual sexual dominance... you don't make love to
a man for months without noticing the absence of true calm.
But it was better now, even with the 'separation.' After
all, it hadn't taken Langly any time at all to come to him
for help with the game. Sure, he'd mentioned it was the
'hardware' of the nanotech sims that was the problem, and
hardware -- virtual or real -- had always been his strong

But the *old* Langly would've at least tried to do it
himself anyway. Probably would've taken *months* for the
man to surrender. Hacker's Ego was a terrible, terrible
thing to behold. John grinned to himself. He was going to
enjoy this little side project.

"This is a really, really boring game, Langly."

The other man nearly screeched to a halt -- John could hear
the sneakers try to leave a little rubber behind.

"Alice... her contractors were aiming for an extremely
small, yet enthusiastic audience."

John spun to face him, not bothering to hide the
incredulity. "*What* audience?"

Slow smile and Langly pulled another chair from the main
table and scooted close to John. "These are the people who
thought the original Sim City had too many useless frills
back in high school."

"Jesus, that was one of the more hideous brands of torture
I've ever *seen*, Langly!"

"You can't help being a lot more interesting than, well,
nearly everyone, Princess." Half-joking to be sure, but the
half-seriousness made him blush.

The pause was a little awkward. Langly made as if to reach
for him, but pulled back wincing. He really was taking the
slowing down thing very seriously. It made John a little
warm inside, really. He cared. He *cared*. And he wanted to
make sure it was right between them.


"So I think I can work with this, Langly. I see how she
hasn't been able to get her nanos to move realistically
beyond simple proliferation and destruction. It's really
quite fascinating. The whole 'only God can create' thing
comes to mind. But, Langly..."


"Can we at *least* make the woman add *color*?"

July 15, 1998
Later Morning

Alex came hard, groaning and holding Chris' head against
him. God, he'd missed this. He let his head fall back to
the pillow, sighed happily when Chris crawled up to kiss
him. Alex sucked himself off the tongue in his mouth and
slid a thigh between the other man's own. Started to nudge
a little, encouraging Chris to rub his long, lean erection
against him.

Yeah, he'd be getting to *that* soon. But waiting was
always better with Chris, and not just for the pain of
temporarily unresolved lust. When they'd first met, the
other man had rarely ever allowed even kisses, much less
Alex to suck him, even just in reciprocation. He hadn't
understood it at first, but it hadn't stopped him from
fucking the other man blind every opportunity he got.

Over the years, brief and occasionally distracting Chris-
thoughts had turned into a small, vague theory. Something
about Chris and topping and responsibility and running for
the hills. The first time he sucked the other man off, it
had been a whim. He'd had the other man chained up, wearing
a cock ring, and just shy of screaming after an hour or two
of merciless teasing.

//"You wanna come? Ask for it."

//"Ohhh, *fuck*. Please, Alex.... please make me come."//

And he'd deep-throated Chris, ripped off the ring, and
proceeded to answer the request as best he could. It had
felt *good* to get Chris off, an act left to his own hand
more often than not. He slipped his hand around the hard,
leaking cock pushing against his thigh and decided that it
still felt good.

Chris' hand on his wrist, guiding some but mostly just
resting there. Touching him like it was something as
natural as breathing... he could understand the impulse.

With Mulder, it was need, and need, and more need. Made the
sex hot, and the man had always been highly attractive,
but.... It wasn't enough. And *that* thought made him
wonder just what he was looking for, but the home movies of
power were quick to answer that question.

He ran his thumb over the head of Chris' cock, watched the
muscles in the other man's forearms flex and bunch, watched
the softened blue eyes shut -- a little regretfully.

If it was up to him, he'd tape the damned things open when
they got that way. He knew if he ever told Chris about it
he'd certainly do his best to keep them open longer. The
ultimate public self-fuck. His cock was done for the next
several minutes at least, but the thought still made
something coil tight in his belly and squeeze.

Alex flipped the other man over, pressing him into the
mattress with his body.

"I'm going to suck you."

The eyes were wild for a moment before settling. Alex could
see Chris swallow.


He grinned and took the other man's mouth for a short, hard
kiss before shifting position. Of course Chris would let
him do this... he'd probably let him do whatever he wanted,
so long as... as what? Alex paused over the straining
erection trying to climb the other man's abdomen. Ran a
lazy tongue up the underside, moving with the jerks and

Made a mental note to figure out what *exactly* he was
doing to ensure Chris' good behavior, shrugged internally,
and began to suck him in. Heavy on his tongue, just shy of
familiar but welcome. The other man's hands settled on his
shoulders and began to knead. His soft moans fell on Alex's
ears gently, wonderfully.

All the better because, despite everything, Alex had no
doubt it was *Chris* he was sucking. It was the man's
nature to shift and change, and everything... everything
belonged to Alex.


He could do the same for Mulder, be Fox's Alex for real....
It was only the logical extension of all the role-playing,
after all. But... he didn't really feel like it. He'd
gotten used to this particular Alex Krycek, and one of the
reasons he'd signed on with Chris was to be able to *stay*
this way for as long as he wanted.

He could do it, and maybe he would have eventually, if for
no other reason than to heighten the experience with
Mulder. But here was Chris, flushed and moaning beneath
him, and Alex would never have to apologize for a killing
to *him*.

Well, maybe their erstwhile patron, but he hadn't been
responsible for that. Chris knew him, or at least knew as
much or more of him as he'd ever told anyone, and that
was... soothing.

Or it might have simply been the massive loss of respect
he'd had for Mulder after that first kiss. His own kiss...
a tease, a taunt, an impulse. Anything to get the man off
the damned floor, get a rise out of him, *something*. And
it hadn't even done *that* much, but it, or something, had
gotten the man where the Brit had wanted him to be, so it
was a success.

For Mulder, his oh-so-precious Fox, to fall all over
himself, though...

If you wanted to get fucked, you damned well bent over and
had done with it. You did *not* spend years pummeling the
object of your affection. No matter what.

And, really, blowing the smoker every chance he got for
those few months Alex was back in his employ after he'd
retrieved Alex from the silo... It had been freeing in a

//"You want this, Alex?"

//"Fuck me, you goddamned son of a bitch."

//Lazy, lazy smile. "Your wish.... Hands and knees."//

And he'd never bothered with anything like an excuse or
apology, either.

He hadn't tasted nearly as good as Chris, though. Alex ran
a finger down to tease the other man's entrance, and
swallowed when he bucked. The moans were louder now, and
Alex sucked a little harder, worked his tongue a little
more with each one. Chris caught on quickly and didn't hold
back a thing, thrusting in time with the motion of Alex's
finger and crying out.

It wasn't long before he arched partially off the bed and
emptied himself down Alex's throat. Wonderful. Alex didn't
swallow much, just let it spill out of his mouth. Messy was
inconvenient, but *better* sometimes.

Alex moved up and rested his weight on his arm briefly
while thrusting against the shallow, sticky bowl of the
other man's hip. He wasn't *usefully* hard yet, but it felt
damned good. And Chris was kissing him again, hands cupping
his cheeks, tongue lapping at his own.

A few more thrusts and then Alex broke the kiss and rolled
over, biting the other man's throat casually.


Alex listened to Chris' still-labored breathing and smiled.

"So... you do this for all your partners?"

Alex snorted. "No, fuck you."

"Hey, I just wanted to know what perqs come with this job."

"All the me-not-trying-to-kill-you you can stand."

Low chuckle. "Oh, I can stand a lot of that."

There was a long, comfortable silence as Alex watched the
sun get higher in the sky. Just the *idea* of summer could
make his bones ride easier against each other. Though there
had been a time when all summer made him think of was
sticky clothes and the stench of rotting flesh.

Some things become irrelevant as you get older.

"You know... I've seen some of the old man's files on


"How did you get him to talk?"

Alex turned to face the other man and raised an eyebrow.
"You writing a book?"

"No, asshole, I'm just curious about the sonofabitch."

"Jealousy isn't attractive."

Chris rolled over and straddled him, resting all of his
weight on him. Leaned in close. "If I was jealous, I
would've shot him."

Alex had to admit the man had a point. He smiled. "Good."
The other man didn't ease off. Alex rolled his eyes. "One
night while I was apologizing for shooting his alcoholic
prick of a father --"

"He was always nice to *me*." Chris eased off, grinning.

"That's because you kept giving him bottles of Glenlivet.
Suck up."

"Yeah, you like me that way. Go on."

"Anyway, poor widdle Alex was talking about how he was just
supposed to listen in on the meeting, only act if Bill
showed signs of saying anything useful to his oh-so-
dangerous son --"

"Oh, *man*, how are you getting away with this?"

"Hey, there's truth in there. Do you want to hear this or

Chris snickered. "Sorry. Please continue."

"Yeah, so I trail off in quiet, subtle anguish -- "

"Glad to see you're not getting *cocky*."

"And I start telling Mulder all about my own dearly
departed father. How he'd tried so *hard* to make me
strong, him and mama, too, and that even though it was
harsh sometimes they were always trying their best for

"Hey, you said they never touched you. You used to talk
about your sainted mother *all* the time --"

"Never during sex, and I'm just answering your question."

"I think I'm getting you now. You start to open up, he's
deluged with a rush of affectionate pity, but he'd never
insult you with *that*, so..."

"He just did a little opening up himself."

"That is so fucking wrong."

"Yup, sure is."

Their eyes met and Alex wouldn't have been able to miss the
bright gleam in Chris' gaze if he tried. "I like wrong."

"I know."

Chris ran a finger over Alex's lips. "I'm curious, though -

"My gun is well within reach."

The hand moved down to his throat and settled there for a
moment. Difficult in this position, but Chris just *might*
be able to break his neck before he could react...

"OK, OK. What is it?"

"Is this *just* to be able to mindfuck his friends?"

Alex shrugged. "You never know when he'll prove useful.
Besides, it'll probably come in handy to have him behaving
the way *we* want him to for the war. Or at least not
fucking with our plans."

"Fuck, I'd forgotten about that."

Alex shook his head and chuckled. It was entirely possible
that he had. "You have no plans, do you?"

"Other than the 'scream like a little bitch and keep
stabbing until I die' plan?"

"OK, you have my plans now."

"That's fine. No bitch-screaming?"

"Only a little."

"I'll do my best to restrain myself, then."

"It's appreciated."

Chris rolled off, but threw a leg over Alex's own.
Possessively. Alex considered kicking it off on principle,
but if Chris was his partner, he was Chris' partner.

"I bet that Byers freak looks about twelve without the

"*You* looked about twelve a few years ago, Chris." He
looked a vaguely dissolute twenty-three now. The years had
been... sharply kind. Alex wasn't sure of his real age, and
he was relatively sure the other man wasn't, either.

"Yeah, and you liked it didn't you?"


"Right. I bet he knows some interesting things."

"Gonna start fucking him? I think he's pretty devoted to

"*Why*? Langly's a *traitor*..."

Alex snickered. "Hey, Johnboy doesn't know that, yet."

"So sweet, so innocent, so... *stable*." Pointed look at

"Hey, Mulder's just as stable as he wants to be. If you've
seen the files, you know what's been done to him. Hell,
what *I've* done to him alone. He should be locked away by

"Hmm. Good point. Maybe he's just covering well?"

"Sounds like stability to *me*."

"I've been told it's terribly unhealthy."

Alex grinned. "Nah. Why, look at us..."

"Mmm, yeah. Look at us. I'm all sticky..."

"That's true. Hey, I've been wondering something."

Chris wriggled energetically for several moments. "Right.
I've got my gun well within reach..."


"Oh, you know you deserved that. What's your question?"

"I've seen the old man's granddaughters..."

Chris started sniggering. "Yes..."

"How the hell did you avoid fucking them for all those
years? Even *Elspeth* was cute without the glasses."

"*Real* nannies, their young friends, masturbation... After
a certain point I just sort of picked the one who looked
like she could keep her mouth shut the best and prayed."


"Nah. You should've *heard* her on the phone with that
little bitch *Bethany* --"

The phone rang and both of them had their guns in hand
quickly. Pointlessly. Alex leaned over and picked it up.


"Alex, I'd know your breathing anywhere. I believe we have
some things to discuss."

His eyes narrowed at the smoker's voice and he heard the
phone creak a little in his hand. One of the negatives to
letting yourself be leashed was that there was always
something for people to grab hold of after your prior owner
was gone. Alex needed to be here, and so he had no options.


"I'll see you in an hour. I think you know where."


"Good. Oh, and Alex?"

He didn't bother to answer.

"Bring Mr. Kimball with you. I've *missed* him."

Alex's gut roiled, and he barely registered the click of
the smoker hanging up on him. If he knew about Chris, what
else did he know?


Chris' voice was choked with bile when it came. "I think I
know who that was."

"Yes, you do. And *we* have been called to heel. Which
means he probably knows --"

"No, don't even think that. We *know* the motherfucker,
Alex. Think. Did he brag about it? Any smarmy hints at

Alex ran back over the conversation in his mind. "No, but
what if he didn't have priva -- no, wait, fuck that. He
wants to meet us here in D.C. On his own turf."

"Then he doesn't know."

"This isn't the most subtle place to be." Alex made an
effort to take the panicked accusation out of his voice.

"No, it isn't, but you know there were no bugs in the room.
We checked. And while I haven't been here long... I've been
in the city."

Long, long look, but Alex nodded. Too late now for anything
else. "If he thinks he owns us --"

"He won't be trying as hard to find out what we're doing on
the side."

"Yeah. We'll play up the fucking, too. Give him something
to torture us with."

"Exactly, Alex. We can do this."

"Just another game."

Chris squeezed his shoulder. "Yeah."

Alex scrubbed his fingers through his hair, and closed his
eyes for a moment. He was fucking *sick* of this... this...
There really was no escape.



"It was Cecily."

He couldn't help but smile a little. "Ah, the enigmatic
middle child. Well, I suppose enigmatic girls don't talk."

"Certainly not when their mouths are full..."

Alex chuckled and laid back down. They had at least twenty
minutes before they had to leave.

No escape, but there was something to be said for having a

********************* December 6, 1998 Early Evening

Mulder sat on the couch and rubbed his temples. It was
barely six o' clock. The sky was still somewhat light. A
Wednesday, and he was home by *six*...

He had to wonder what the fuck had taken the Consortium so
long to figure this out. They didn't just remove him from
the X Files this time, they made damned sure he'd be too
wiped with punishment detail to go find many on his own.
And what he'd found... It hadn't been Crump's death that
had thrown him so much as his own numbed reaction to it.

Mulder wasn't entirely sure when he'd become that cynical.

Even better, if he *did* happen upon one, there was
guaranteed pain back at headquarters from Kersh. It
occurred to him, not for the first time, that he might not
have been grateful enough for Skinner's help over the
years. Mulder was positive Kersh didn't give a flying fuck
about anyone outside of his circle of power, and reasonably
sure the man was neck deep in the conspiracy.

Even if Scully was still chortling about some of the things
she'd supposedly seen and done to rescue him, and, of the
Gunmen, only Byers had floated the idea of alternate
universes seriously. That had immediately turned into a
heated three-way discussion he'd only been able to watch in
half-dazed amusement. He wondered if that was what people
watching him and Scully saw.

He wondered if anyone would ever see that with him and

And how many Assistant Directors were owned by even more
than their own ambitions, anyway? Of course, it was
possible he was wrong. They might just have learned the
value of subtlety, but he'd never actually seen the smoker
with Kersh. It was possible that, even if Kersh *was* just
a glorified mole, his options had been just as limited
as... Alex's.

It was even possible that his new supervisor was simply
doing his job. Not everyone who tried to keep him on the
straight and narrow was out for world domination and
general Mulder-abuse.

He was almost sure of that.

Which made him think guiltily of Scully. They were her X
Files, too, if blood, sweat, and tears made any difference
in this world. Even if they didn't.

It was still frustrating to see her *coping* with the nasty
turn their careers had taken. While she certainly wasn't
*happy* with piles of manure, background checks, or Kersh
himself... Well, Scully gave no appearances of *really*
chomping at the bit when it came to the job itself.

Maybe it was that research background. Trained her to cope
with rote and scut and all those other four letter words.
Mulder, however, had never been so positive that Hell was
painfully, dreadfully dull.

He wondered how long it would take for them to figure out
they could just *transfer* Scully and cut him off at the
knees. Hey, they were getting smarter by the day...

Mulder had his cell out to call her before remembering she
had that physicist's dinner tonight. She'd practically
*hummed* about the invitation, apparently extended by one
of her former professors.

//He'd leered at his partner. "Hmm... maybe he's seen a
recent picture, Scully."

//"And what makes you think I wasn't a... babe in college?"

//"You're only making me question just how you got that
stellar GPA."

//She'd smiled a little strangely at that, eyed him
speculatively for a few highly noticeable moments. But her
expression had smoothed after a few seconds. "Professor
Timmeson and I have been corresponding since I graduated,

//"And you still call him professor?"

//Neatly raised eyebrow. "No. I call him Andrew."//

And part of his mind had spent the rest of the day
speculating about what she'd wear, if she'd have a good
time, if Andrew had ever boffed a co-ed, if Scully had ever
boffed a professor, what sort of rubbery chicken would be
served, what a waste the name Andrew was on such an
obviously dirty old man, if Alex had ever gone by the name
Andrew, when he'd suck it up and tell Scully about Alex,
the quality of inertia, if inertia would be discussed at
any point, and so on.

Mulder idly considered letting that train of thought
continue to ramble on now that he was home, but decided
he'd rather waste time some other way. And that he'd tease
Scully more at work tomorrow -- especially if she looked
tired -- and maybe again after work.

He put his cell away and finally removed his jacket.
Unbuttoned his shirt and sprawled a little into the couch.
If there was one good thing about the 'work' he was doing
now ,it was the newly regained ability to truly appreciate
a broken-in chair. He just didn't come home as beat up as
he was accustomed to, and so the fact that the couch was
getting to be too low for his frame wasn't nearly as big an
issue as it used to be.

Not that the complaints from his battered joints had kept
him *off* the couch, and there was that inertia thing
again. Mulder chuckled quietly to himself and looked out
the dusty window into darkness. Finally.

It was natural to be here when it was dark. And it had
become Alex's time, too. Months of this or no, Mulder still
ached for him. Alex's touch was weighted with need and he
*talked* to Mulder. Life, books, movies, exes... it hadn't
started that way, just an awkward sharing of how they'd
gotten where they were, but he found himself longing for
the other man's laughter as much as his moans.

A hoarse, disused sound with something like purity beneath
the roughness. An old recording of something beautiful,
pulled out of storage to be shared.... The first time
Mulder had heard the other man laugh, really laugh, it had
been at some stupid half-joke he'd made about himself and
the usefulness of certain household products.

//Alex had turned his head into Mulder's throat and
chuckled rustily, body shaking a little with it. It had
taken a moment for his mind to figure out why the sound
made his throat ache so much, but his hand was already in
motion, coaxing a smiling Alex back up to face him.

//"Christ, Mulder, have you ever talked to anyone about
your perversion?"

//He'd grinned back. "Often. Her name is Tami. With an I."

//Giggling a little now, and Alex's eyes were crinkled at
the edges. Timing, it was all about timing, and he made as
if to bury his head again, but Mulder tightened his hold a
little on the stubbled cheek. "Wha --?" Still laughing a
little, but Mulder was drinking it in, watching intently,
unable to pull his eyes away.

//Mulder watched the slightly swollen mouth slowly smooth
out of the smile, and brought his thumb down to try to stop
the process. He wanted more, and brushed Alex's lips
several times before the other man finally spoke again.

//"Mulder? What's wrong?"

//And he'd looked up to find eyes gone wide, expectant.
"I've never seen... never heard..."

//Alex's eyes had gone brightly unreadable as he'd trailed
off, then fluttered closed. Mulder's heart pounded and he
dove in for a kiss Alex returned hungrily...//

They'd made love again, but when Alex left this time he
hadn't bothered to wake Mulder first.

Three weeks later, Mulder had come home from Kansas to find
Alex on his couch. There were dark circles under his eyes,
and a cut that had needed stitches along the left side of
his jaw. He'd wanted to end it.

It had taken an hour and a half to get the truth out of the
other man, wearying even though Mulder could see the
improvement over, say, years. The smoker had him again, and
he couldn't get out. He had less freedom, and the
sonofabitch was watching him hard.

It was why he hadn't been able to provide any solid
information in the past few months, something Mulder *had*
wondered about, but had been too grateful for the man's
continued presence in his life to question out loud.

There was value in some silences. Mulder found himself
wondering, perhaps late, how much of his relationship with
Alex was sitting somewhere, waiting to be used against him.

But he swept for bugs after every absence, hell, after
every reasonably long sleep. And he couldn't believe Alex
would... do that. Not after all the information. Not with
the way he looked at Mulder.

//"I won't let you go." The words weren't a surprise to
him; how *firm* he sounded about it was.

//"Mulder, you *have* to."

//"Fuck that." He'd moved in close, dipped his head to
nuzzle at the tensed throat. Fisted his hands in the other
man's sweater and whispered, "Do you really want to go,

//"Please don't do this to yourself..." But he didn't move
to push him away.

//Mulder had chuckled against pale skin, felt Alex shiver
and relax into his touch. "I can't stop. I can't stop." And
that had made Alex tense again, but Mulder just wrapped his
arms around the other man and held on. After a time, Alex
slipped his own arm around Mulder's waist and relaxed
again, this time for good.

//They'd stood there, holding each other silently for what
could have been ten minutes or an hour.

//"Mulder, I have to go."

//He'd looked up, searched the other man's eyes for some
sign, but it was too dark in the apartment to be sure about
what he saw.

//"I'll... I'll come back."

//He hadn't moved until Mulder had given his usual last
kiss, hard and branding.//

Same promise, same promise to believe.

Alex had come back, and kept coming back. Always for
shorter periods of time now, sometimes too tired to do more
than curl up with Mulder and talk quietly. Mulder let
himself love it all -- God knew Alex made Mulder put
everything else in narrow perspective. The promise to
return.... As childish as it was, Mulder couldn't help but
see it as a promise to make it better, too.

And Alex hadn't let him down.

*********************** December 6, 1998 Evening

Chris did his best to lounge on the motel bed. Months of
renewed employment through the man who'd once tried to kill
him, and all he had to show for it was far too much
information about Mulder, more surveillance than he'd done
in years, and a bad back from the beds in, apparently,
every shithole in the greater United States.

If he ever found out who placed the bomb in the Brit's car
he was going to gut them. With his teeth.

Of course, he'd done his share of sitting and waiting for
the old man, but he'd never *once* had to chase a toad from
*those* rooms. Which had, of course, turned out to be a
mistake when he'd opened up the impossibly humid bathroom
and found himself face to face with more mosquitoes than
he'd ever seen in his *life*.

The toad had been nowhere to be found. One kick and the
thing hops away from a veritable *feast*. Alex damned well
better be picking up some bug spray from whatever hole in
the wall they called a store around here. And some
goddamned cigarettes, too.

Bad enough the smoker had all the style of a heterosexual
teenaged boy, but all that nicotine got to be *tempting*
after a while.

Dammit. He'd far, *far* preferred being tempted by underage

Upstate New York? No. This was *hell*.

Chris was fully aware he was pouting, moaning, and
generally making a whiny little bitch out of himself, but
he felt Mosquito Metropolis justified any and all
punkishness. It was enough to make a man pine for year-long
winters, or as close to it as possible. Hell, it *was*
almost winter here. Chris spent several moments cursing
global warming, and made a mental note to kill the first
person using hairspray he saw.

He made another mental note to ask Alex about Siberia's
insect population when he returned. Now was the time for
fretting about their assignment.

Which they *still* didn't know the nature of, despite
having been on the road to various backwaters for a solid
week. Working for the smoker had never been precisely
*pleasant*, but it really seemed like he was fucking with
them now. For the sheer hell of it.

Which was just *petty* when you got right down to it. It
smacked of 'nobody leaves *me* until I'm good and ready for
them to go' and that was classless. He'd never even blown
the man. Hell, he *still* wasn't entirely sure why he'd
been marked for death in the first place.

Though it might have had something to do with chatting up
that little girl after blowing her parents away. But it had
been an honest mistake -- the cleanup crews *always* came
back for the children in cases like these. And Caitlin had
seemed like the perfect candidate -- young, healthy, and
intelligent. For all he knew, he'd be working with her

But no, she'd seen no one but the cops after that, and it
was really a damned good thing he hadn't liked the way he
looked with long red hair and a hermit-beard because he'd
never be able to go *that* way again. At least not in the

And Alex had a *long* history of pissing the nasty old
bastard off. And, while he'd had his share of close calls
at the hands of the man, *he'd* never had to run from the
simple effectiveness of a bullet. Then again, *Chris* had
gotten away...

He supposed it was possible the smoker had decided his
narrow escape meant he should stick to more drastic methods
of employee removal.


If he was here, Chris wouldn't be bitching. Not just
because he knew it drove the other man up the wall -- in a
bad way -- but also because there was just no *point* to
it. If Alex was around, there were better things to do.

His cock twitched just thinking about it

Which begged the question -- why *were* they still
partners? They'd both done their best to get out from under
the man's thumb before, had pissed him off in other ways.
And they'd made no secret of their, well, partnership.

Back in July, Chris had been positive their at least half-
accurate performance of mutual concern would keep the
project away from the smoker's grubby little paws.
*Something* had, but there'd been little of the hostage-
for-good-behavior business Chris had expected.

Save for the deep pain of their assignments, they were
pretty much left to themselves. There were hardly ever any
bugs around, either. It was *too* perfect, and they'd spent
weeks talking in disinformation about their project in the
hopes of flushing *something*. Nothing. Not a whimper.

It was almost too much to hope the smoker had been
*serious* with his "It's just so entertaining to see people
like you try to be normal." Did he honestly believe they'd
self-destruct, kill each *other*?

After all those years of fucking with Alex's Fox and Fox's
Dana, it seemed implausible he wouldn't know better. Chris
had been forced to read through file after file after
*file* on the two of them. As far as he was concerned, they
had both grown up soft, yet still managed to keep it
together when their own personal smoky shitstorm decided to
follow them around.

If the wannabe heroes could do it, there was no reason
whatsoever why *they* couldn't handle all the bugarariums
and pointless "assignments" the old bastard could throw at
them. Especially when they had things like sex and near-
guaranteed world domination to be considered. Put that way,
Chris had to admit they had it pretty sweet.

After all, Mulder would be sleeping alone tonight. Again.

Chris, despite Alex's recent broodiness, would not be.

Alex, in slamming the door to their brand new home, caused
a cacophony of rustling and thin, undefinable sounds that
set Chris' skin crawling.

"If there isn't Raid in that motherfucking bag, I'll --"

Alex pulled out two rather bomblike items out of the bag
and gave Chris a Look. "You'll what?"

"Make you tell me, in detail, just what Marita's snatch
smells like."

"Oh, now *that's* fucking low."

Chris shrugged. "I'm not the one who got to *leave* this
little corner of hell for fresh air --"

"We're about fifteen miles from a refinery."

"Well, for *space* --"

"The store was only slightly bigger than this room, and
packed with people buying anti-itch cream."

"That reminds me, *is* there any Calamine in that magic
sack of yours?"

"*This* isn't my magic sack..."

"I think I need to be reacquainted with the real thing."

First smile of the night out of the other man. Nice. "I
think so, too. And there is no Calamine in my sack."

"Why the fuck not?"

"Do you *need* any? You've used the bathroom. Any bites? At

Abruptly, Chris' skin stopped crawling. Nothing whatsoever
itched or burned. Musings like that in hotel rooms weren't
uncommon, but he shook those memories off. "I guess not...
what's up?"

"Remember the physical we had to take?"

"I remember the world's largest proctologist... I think I
may have blacked out after that."

"Awww, Chris, and here I was thinking about what I could
get a size queen like you for our anniversary." He covered
his eyes with his hand, sobbed dramatically. "How can I
live with you now that I know you're a poseur?!"

Chris immediately flung himself off the bed and to his
knees in front of Alex. Threw his arms around the other
man's knees and grimaced his face into Tragically
Remorseful. "Oh, Alex! Please, please forgive me!"

"How can I, Chris? What would happen to us if I woke up one
morning with an eleven inch cock?" Alex giggled his way
through the raw angst, another improvement to the evening.
Nothing like a little *light and fun* mindfucking to take
the mind off... other things.

Chris shimmied mildly up to a standing position, keeping
his arms wrapped around the other man. They were both
pleasantly awake down below, and that was the sort of thing
that could make *anywhere* feel like home. "First, don't
tell me what they gave us to make insects view us as meal-
worthy as a brick unless it's absolutely necessary for me
to know. Second, if you woke up one morning with an eleven
inch cock it would be the sound of my power saw that woke

"I think a man thinking about... doing that to --"

"Sawing off his dick or parts thereof?"

"... another man is a sign of deep, deep psychological

"This is a surprise?"

Alex ran his fingers through Chris' hair and he leaned back
into the touch, pressing the rest of his body harder
against the other man's. Alex was getting lean again
through all the stress, and holding him was becoming
familiar again. Alex sniffed and nuzzled his way to Chris'
mouth. "No, it isn't."

And then a slow, easy kiss. So easy. Just move in and let
your body do precisely what it wants to do because Alex
won't stop it unless he feels like it. And when he does
feel like it, roll over whichever way you're needed and

But the kisses alone were conversation. Humor, darkness, so
*much* unspoken terror in each suckle and lap. He wondered
if Alex kissed Mulder that way, and if Mulder would even
understand if he did. He wondered if he'd be allowed to
keep his promise about shooting Mulder if he got jealous.

Now more than ever, having an ace or two in the hole was
vastly important. No matter what their plans, Chris would
not hesitate to toss them out the window in favor of
survival. Survivors live to build again, after all. And,
while the nanos were *their* ace, Mulder was Alex's alone,
to do with as he chose.

And it wasn't jealousy if he wanted to know precisely what
was chosen -- it was practicality. Speaking of which, the
hand kneading his ass was rapidly causing him to lose his
train of thought.

"Are those bomb-like things actual bombs, Alex?"

Alex grinned, squeezed a little harder. "Yes."

"I see. I take it we actually *have* an assignment?"

"Yes. We're going to blow up this motel to remove one key
aide to Senator Matheson and his mistress. Just as soon as
the townsfolk go to bed, you and I remove the bodies of two
unfortunate drifters from our trunk --"

"It's always a shame about the street people."

"It is, it is."

"Well, at least we're giving them a decent cremation."

"One of them, I think, will be immolation *followed* by
cremation, though."

"Gotta hate rush-jobs. The lovely populace was watching

Alex nodded. "Indeed. Lord knows why they react so *badly*
to strangers."

Chris shook his head. "People suck, Alex. Only possible

They shared a moment in their best approximation of weary
despair, trying to be as desultory as possible about the
grind of their trapped cocks and the occasional grunt. And
then they gave up and laughed. Alex was gorgeous when he
did that.

Absolutely open, and if you were very circumspect about
your observation he might stay that way for a pleasant
moment of eternity. Eyes so wide and clear, flesh
crinkling... a happy Alex was something worth a lot more
than Chris sometimes thought he could give. It was only
when Chris came back to himself minutes, hours later that
he'd realize he'd been giving all night.

And that was the sort of altruism he liked best.

Alex had stopped laughing, and was now looking at him
quizzically. Chris shook it off. "So let me get this
straight. We wait until some unspecified time --"


"Right, we wait until 10:42 before setting the bombs...?"

"Both in the main cabin. The aide is practically next

"We set the bombs in the cabin, then speed away with the
poor drifters in the trunk to use for our own nefarious

Alex leaned over, made as if to kiss him again, bit his
chin instead. "Sick fuck."

"Hey, you said one of them was alive. If some poor bastard
is going to die for *me* the least I can do is let him suck
my cock."

"As much as I'd enjoy watching you fuck a man about three
inches from dead, we really do need to leave their bodies
here, to throw suspicion away from the two young men, one
fair and one dark --"

"You've *never* called me fair before. Are you trying to
get me into a dress?"

"Would you make me try?"


Alex ignored that, gave every appearance of trying and
failing to ignore Chris' smile. Yeah, this was precisely
what Chris had been missing. His very own perverted Big
Brother. Chris had had no siblings growing up, and so the
image invoked nothing but years and years of porn.

"Alex... when are we dragging the bodies in here?"

Alex reached over and grabbed his wrist, showing them both
that it was barely after eight.

"In about two and a half hours, or whenever I'm done with

Chris immediately backed away enough to start stripping, and
Alex's eyes followed his movements with noticeable appreciation.
Sex now with the only man he'd ever given a damn about, and
fire to come. He'd dreamed about nights like these since he'd
been a thirteen year old punk-waiting-to-happen in Bed Stuy.

What do you do for the man who bathes you with your dreams,
then whispers of new ones, stranger, darker ones that made his
blood pound everywhere it could? Especially his cock. Chris
beckoned Alex over to the bed where he sat, then rolled over
expectantly, chafing his cock into the cheap coverlet.

Alex climbed on the mattress from the other side, grabbed Chris'
shoulder and squeezed. "Turn over. I want to see you."

It wasn't an uncommon request, but the sound of the other
man's voice made his heart lurch in something that felt a hell of
a lot like abject terror. Alex was just leaning down, hovering over
his face. Smiling again. The urge to fish for confirmation of...
whatever Chris could see in the other man's eyes was stifled

Sudden move, slow, slow kiss. To writhe in the rhythm of it,
Chris had to move in a way that felt... dirtier... than most. A
wave-like undulation, smooth and strangely female. But then his
cock came into contact with Alex's own, trapped behind his
jeans, and the strangeness was over. Sharp thrust and
counterthrust, overheated air and acid sweat that made Chris'
tongue curl and press against his teeth.

So good. So dangerous. Perhaps the smoker was only waiting for
one of them to take the mutual concern thing too far, and *then*
the real mindfucking would start. An image of Alex shot up with
some tailor-made infection flashed unbidden in his mind, and
Chris hoped to God Alex would mistake his groan for passion.

He wanted to pull away, find a way to make Alex understand how
dangerous the game was now, but all he could do was call his
name again and again as Alex made his way down his body. Alex
was a ruthless lover, and sometimes his most gentle caresses felt
like acts of war. Certainly, when he was done, Chris was left with
little more than the scorched landscape of his flesh.

But he wanted this -- right now -- more than he'd ever thought
he could want anything.

And, as always, the impulse to *have* reduced the best intentions
to meaningless rubble.

December 6-7, 1998
Night/Wee Hours

Kenneth Orgel sat at the small, round table and tried not to
sweat too noticeably. He periodically wiped the palms of his
hands on the aging white tablecloth. The grain was rough, thin
in patches. He was reasonably sure that, if the lights were raised
above artificial evening, the white would be yellow, or perhaps

He wasn't sure. His eyes weren't the best anymore.

On either side of him were two young, nameless men. Dark
complexions, cold eyes. He was sure of nothing about them
beyond their basic brutality. He had had a maid...

They'd been with him since that past summer. Before, there had
only been 'Mr. K' of the changeable hair and inappropriate
laughter. He'd told Orgel of watchers, the importance of secrecy.
He had one living blood relative, a grand-nephew Claude in
Cologne. Mr. K had brought a picture of himself sitting with his
hand on Claude's shoulder. They were both laughing. If he looked
at the photo in just the right way, Mr. K's long, pale fingers had
all the delicacy of a vulture's claw.

But it had been *months* before he'd actually received his
keepers, which made him wonder just how much danger he'd
really been in before then.... He told himself it had been better
not to risk.

Orgel had told no one of his work, had felt himself grow fat with
the secret. He could be famous! He could win the Nobel Prize...
Just because one -- now dead, of course -- friend in the robotics
field had waxed rhapsodic about the simple self-repair
mechanisms of his toys one long afternoon. It could change so
many *lives*...

He knew it had been no mere absentminded-ness that had caused
him to leave the door to his personal lab open. Of course it was
only Marthe -- large, stern Marthe who'd been with his family
since she was barely out of her teens -- but Orgel had needed so
*badly* to tell someone, anyone at all...

He had returned from his study an hour later, and found nothing
but a blood-spattered loafer. One of his keepers -- the one with
all the hair -- had joined him in the contemplation of the shoe
for a long moment before casually tucking it into the pocket of
his jacket. And handing him an extra set of keys for the lab.
Silently, and with a knowing grin.

Orgel had grown accustomed to the scent of his own fear. He did
not wish to grow accustomed to the taste of guilt scumming his
tongue. Backing up in his throat.

He had kept the secret.

But the rumors had started to fly. Orgel was a recluse, Orgel had
gone mad, Orgel had two young lovers he never allowed to leave
his side, Orgel has vowed never to publish again, but it's only to
hide the fact he has no ideas...

The community of physicists was growing, but mostly in the
comfortably... nebulous branch of astrophysics. The more
conventional types like him... well, it was an intimate bunch at
the top of their field, and the blood was stagnant. It had been no
surprise to see his colleagues turn on him -- he'd done the same
when Branning had found himself peripherally involved in that
plagiarism mess.

Fifteen years ago. Perhaps another reason a few months of quiet
strangeness from him had turned into the talk of the community.
But Mr. K had been adamant about his remaining reclusive until
just the week before, and then the change of heart had only come
when the newsletter had thrown the words "increasingly
mysterious" before his name, with the speculation that he
wouldn't be there.

Mr. K's apparent business partner, who had whimsically
introduced himself as *another* Mr. K, had called two days later
to order him to attend. Noticeably mysterious was obviously not
what they were going for. The next day, identical tuxedos had
arrived for his keepers, and his own was retrieved from the
cleaners'. By then, Orgel had already begun to regret his fervent
pleas for a walk through the exercise yard, despite knowing they
had nothing to do with the Ks' decision to let him go.

His colleagues would ask "how have you been?" And he would
have to lie. They would ask "have you been working?" And he
would have to lie again. They would ask a million questions, and
he'd lie to all of them, save, perhaps, those conscientious souls
who asked after Claude...

But no one had. Two hours of absent lies later, two hours of
watching well-dressed men and women look at him from their
clusters then whisper, he was exhausted and sweating. His
hands, even under the mellow lighting, were grey and clenched.

"I would like to go back to my lab now. I believe I am close to a
breakthrough." It was a relief to tell the truth. Even if he would
never have been able to do so without the help of the Ks'
computer men. Even if the truth was for no one's benefit but the
silent men who never, ever left his side. Orgel hoped that was the
rumor that achieved prominence.

It was the most... innocent.

He felt more than saw them stand, only then becoming aware
he'd been staring rigidly forward for some unknown length of
time. One laid his hand on his shoulder, and Orgel felt as though
he was paralyzed on his right side. He shook off the morbid
imagining and stood a little shakily.

His turn toward the exit was parade perfect, and with the
imagined sound of his nanites high in his ears -- he sometimes
thought of 'animalcules' and smiled -- he made it out without


Scully turned away from the speaker -- one Dr. Alison Weisskopf
of Carnegie Mellon -- her eye caught by the old man nearly
marching out of the room. He was flanked by two young, dark-
haired men, both moving in a rather ostentatiously casual way.

It made her trigger finger itch for a briefly irrational moment,
quickly stifled.

"Who's that man, Andrew?"


She looked around to find Andrew staring at her rather
bemusedly. He'd been deeply engrossed in the lecture, or perhaps
just in the lecturer, a leggy blonde. Some time in the past five
years, he'd gone from a shy, quiet, unassuming man to a
particularly lazy and awkward wolf.

He was barely seven years her elder, and, outside of the
classroom, had always been something like a particularly
huggable younger cousin. She supposed puberty had to happen
sooner or later. And, really, it reminded her pleasantly of her
partner. Though Mulder tended to forget and rediscover and forget
the concept of his own sexuality periodically.

Scully smiled ruefully. "Never mind."

Andrew blushed, instantly losing twenty years. "Sorry about that,
Dana. She's a fascinating speaker..."

She resisted the urge to point out how cute he was when he acted
twelve. "Yes, she is. So tell me why I get this invitation now...?"

"As opposed to any other time over the years?"

"That would be the implication, Andrew."

He blushed again, pushed his glasses up on his nose. Scully
made a mental note to hand something to Mulder in excessively
small print at some point over the next few days. "Well, the truth
is, I'm being a whore for the UMD administration. They -- *we* --
want you on staff."

It wasn't a wholly unfamiliar pitch, but... "I never did any
graduate work there."

Small grin. "I know. Not even for me. You would've made one hell
of a physicist, Dana."

Scully shrugged, took a sip of her wine. White, and perhaps the
only possible justification for having selected the Chicken a la
King. "Maybe. But in the end, it's nowhere near my field. I'm a...

"I don't think that term exists in the physics world."

"See what I mean?" She let Andrew chuckle for a few minutes,
pleased with the success of her small joke. With Andrew, there
was never any desire to hold her tongue until there was the
perfect opportunity for a *real* zinger. Mulder had a habit of
making her the straight man, seemingly by instinct. But there
were other things to think about. "What is this really about?"

"I'm serious, Dana. The name Scully is wanted on the payroll,
and I've been told to tell you that you can pretty much name your
position and salary."

"Why now, all of a sudden? My career at the FBI can hardly be
gaining me any *positive* recognition."

"On the contrary. Your high solve rate combined with your
slightly less than orthodox --"

"Andrew, Andrew, *wait*. Who are you quoting? You sound like
you're reading this off a cereal box."

He scrubbed his fingers -- as always, just a bit dry around the
knuckles -- through his hair and sighed. "Whoever President
Coleman was quoting. I haven't even gotten to the part about
how well academia will suit you, yet..."  He winced and looked
away for a moment, before catching Scully's eyes again. "Don't
get me wrong. I'd like nothing better than to have you on the
faculty with me, but I have to admit I have no idea why this is
happening now."

"I think I do."


"No, no... it's not.... It's not important. Let's just watch the act."

Small grin. "She's not going to start juggling."

"No? Well this is a pretty lousy circus, don't you think?"

Andrew shook his head. "Dana, you don't have to try to chivvy up
my spirits. I know it was lousy of me to invite you here just for...
pseudocorporate headhunting. And I know you forgive me. And
after all these years of deflected questions..."


"It's become abundantly clear that at least some of what you do
is done in the shadows."

The impulse to say 'no, that's Mulder' was almost too powerful to
resist, but how many white lies and half-truths did it take before
you, too, were beyond the rest of the world's definition of the
pale? Scully remained silent, feeling her lips purse against her

"No, I don't mean --" Andrew cut himself with a chuckle. "You've
been old enough to be my mother since birth, haven't you?"

"Certainly by age five."

"I figured as much. Listen, I'd like to think I know you after
twelve years, and I know that whatever you've done... it's been for
a good reason. As much as I want you on the faculty, I wouldn't
have asked."

"You make me sound like... like some kind of secret agent,
Andrew! It's not that... glamorous."

"FBI, CIA... hey, you know they all sound alike to me. Besides,
you'd make a good tragic heroine. You have the bones for it."

Scully snorted. "Thanks, but no thanks. Tragedy gets old."

"Feel like hanging all the intrigue up for a normal life?"

The wording coiled a little in her belly. It wasn't an entirely
unpleasant feeling, but the offer itself was old, very old.

"Why am I asking again? Hey, why does Charlie Brown always go
for the football?"

"Compulsive urge toward self-destruction."

"Hmm. I was hoping for a more Quixotic nobility."

"Call me when you've got a sidekick. And a pony. I've always
wanted a pony."

Comfortable chuckle that, abruptly and disturbingly, aged him
again. "Will do, Dana. Will do."

December 7, 1998
Wee Hours

The Crown Vic had seen better days -- it was white and thus
showed *all* the sins of a long life -- but the thing could *move*.
Alex tapped his foot on the brake when he felt the car edge up
over eighty again and smiled. Maybe the car was just riding on all
that displaced air... the motel had gone up beautifully.

And he had an idea about how *he* could use this to get
Matheson in his pocket, as opposed to just the smoker's. The
corpse-waiting-impatiently-to-happen, as he liked to think of

And, God, fucking Chris was like every warm safe place he'd ever
known. Alex smiled. Hot, tight, safe place.

"You're in a good mood tonight."

"Just thinking about your ass."

"Oh, good. My ass is certainly still thinking about you."

Alex snickered. "Like it ever *stops* thinking about getting

Chris didn't respond right away, and Alex glanced away from the
smooth black ribbon of the road to see the other man staring out
the window. Hmm.

"I haven't been in a good mood lately?"

Slightly brittle chuckle. "That really isn't the sort of thing people
like us would notice, is it?"

"Are you all right?"

"I was going to ask you the same question."

Alex shuddered. He wanted to ask Chris if he was sure he wanted
to have a conversation like this, but that in itself would make it
more... real. "I'm fine."

"I'm fine, too."



One, or possibly both of them let out a long breath, and there
were a few minutes of silence before Chris spoke again.

"This is bullshit, *partner*."

Alex felt his lips pull back in a snarl, but he bit off the replies he
wanted to give. Chris was right.

"God help us both, we have to be honest with each other if we're
going to *win*."

And he was right about that, too. Alex settled himself. It wasn't
as though he was coming up with solutions on his own.

"Remember when we got sent to put a monkey wrench in fat boy's
drug operation?"

"Oh, *Christ* what a fuck up. We walked into a Hughes brothers'
movie. Though you did get a nice new scar out of it."

Alex jutted his chin instinctively at that. It certainly wasn't the
*smartest* impulse to show off one's scars, but Chris brought
that out in him. "Yeah. And we also barely managed to avoid the
fucking cops."

"Don't remind me. I was having all these not-entirely-pleasant
images of prison life."

"Like we'd survive that long. Anyway, afterward I went over to


"Tried to break up with him."

"You did *what*? Why?"

"Because I knew he was in love with me."

"Well, wasn't that the *plan*?"

"No it wasn't the *plan*. Love makes people *insane*. I just
wanted him... a little stupid."

"How do you know he loves you?"

"Because he practically fucking *chants* it whenever he thinks
I'm sleeping. Hell, I don't think he really *waits* anymore."

"OK, so he loves you... think of it as a job just a little too well

"I can't. If he finds out a fraction of the shit we do --"

"If he loves you, he'll forgive you."

"That's not the *point*. Jesus, what the hell planet are you on?
There's no doubt in my mind that he won't be able to just hate
me. None. He'll turn it all back on himself --"

"And you'll have done the bastard's work after all."

"Yeah. I don't think I could help the smoker this way even if it
was my *own* fucking agenda, too."

"OK. So why not just walk out on him?"

Alex grinned a little wildly. "He's cheerfully promised to hunt me
down if I did."

"Awwww... you have to admit that's cute. Do you think he'd like

"I think he'd shoot you on sight, whether or not I was sucking
your cock at the time."

"Hmmph. See if *I* come to the commitment ceremony."

The other man's words were right, but they still sounded a little
off-time. Alex chanced another look at Chris, but he was merely
staring at him with an expression somewhere between expectant
and insufferably arch. A streetlight revealed unreadable eyes.

"You don't think I want... this, do you?"

"I think you could."

Alex waved it off. "Anyone could. We're not talking about
possibilities here."

"Listen to yourself. He's hundreds of miles away and you're
coming off like just another punk who's in love but *afraid to
commit*. You've spent too much goddamn time playing that
character he loves so much."

"And we can't afford for me to actually be that man."

"Fuck *we*. Can *you* afford it?"

It *had* gotten easier to be the Mulder's Alex. Just relax and be
the man he'd always thought he'd be when he was a child. A man
unhindered by traditional morality, yet able to be loved. And,
perhaps, to love. In his own way.

He'd watched too many damned movies.

After he'd first lost the arm, he'd fantasized about Mulder. A
Mulder who'd look at his stump and get horny and guilty and
disgusted and more horny. A Mulder he could easily break to his
philosophy, and steal away for his own uses. Nothing
constructive, just all the sex and death they could get in before
they died or the world ended. Whichever came first.

He'd gotten over that relatively quickly, though the fantasies
*had* made one-handed jerk-offs less depressing. They hadn't fit
within his concept of Survival. He didn't think Mulder could.

However, Mulder could certainly be broken. A surveillance tape of
any number of his nights with Chris could probably be explained
away, somehow. His use of Langly, however, could not. There was
no one holding his leash on that one but himself. He could
certainly lie, but who would Mulder believe?

Sure, he'd *want* to believe Alex, but... Langly had been an
exceptionlessly positive part of Mulder's life for more years than
he'd even *known* Alex. The conflict would most probably be
disastrous, perhaps to Alex if he was there for the first flares of
rage, definitely to Mulder.

And Mulder was necessary. His brain, his bare thin edge of
legitimacy... if Alex was ever going to break free and have his own
power base, a living, stable, *friendly* Mulder would be necessary.
An unfriendly, unstable Mulder had, after all, been responsible
for more of his near-death experiences than he cared to think
about. Hell, possibly even his motherfucking *DNA* was key

Certainly so if //Girl-in-the-Box// Samantha was any
indication. If twenty-five years of experimentation on her didn't
mean anything, then life was even more absurd than previously

So he had his Mulder. More and less than the Mulder of the old
fantasies -- this Mulder would never fuck him with a knife to his
throat -- but just as ultimately damaging.


"There's nothing to do but keep trying to pull away slowly."

Chris was still silent.

"Chris... I'll admit that I fucked up with this."


"If you admit you're about ready to put a bullet in Mulder's

Chris turned to look at him again. Alex felt the other man's look
burn through the car, brand his cheek. The road was empty in
both directions, so Alex didn't bother to push down the urge to
meet the gaze.

"One for each kneecap, one for his dick, one for his belly, and
*then* one for his brain."

Alex nodded and turned back to the road. If he had another hand
he'd reach over and squeeze Chris' thigh. They were in deep.

"You're my partner, Chris. No one else."

Brief pause before Chris answered,

"No one else would put up with you."

He grinned. "As if you're such a prize."

"Hey, most people are too busy sucking down my shameless
adoration to notice my character flaws."

"Take a bow, partner. Fox's Alex owes a *great* deal to my...
acquaintance... with you."

"Oh, *thank* you. Christ, that's a disgusting thought."

"Heh. Admit it, you'd fuck Fox's Alex."

"Yeah, but then I'd put him out of my misery."

"Hey, I put a lot of time and effort into crafting him."

"And you did a very, very good job of making perhaps the only
Alex I've ever wanted to beat to death. 'Oh, Mulder, I'm so

Alex couldn't help laughing at that, but he also couldn't help
wondering how much of Chris' opinion of Fox's Alex was...
jealousy. They'd admitted, quietly, the presence of *something*.

Now it was time to set some ground rules. Wasn't it?

January 21, 1999
Late Morning/Afternoon

Note: Words in [brackets] are spoken aloud, in Arabic.


Langly scrubbed the sleep out of his eyes, rolled over, and buried
his face against the sensitive skin just beyond John's beard. He
rested his lips there for a long moment, unable to force himself to
break contact to complete a kiss.

The light coming through John's window was cheerful lemonade,
which made it early morning, which made it perfectly acceptable
to just move closer. Langly rested a little more of his weight on
the other man, who had not woken, and let himself drift back as
close to sleep as he could manage.

He had no idea how he'd survived away from this for the three
weeks it had taken for the bruises to heal. Much less for the
extra two weeks John insisted on waiting just to break his will.

No, that wasn't true. John had wanted them to talk more about
the nature of their relationship. Langly winced in memory. It was
his own damned fault for using "doubts" about their relationship
to excuse his lack of nudity (and most physical contact) with

The truth was, Langly didn't think it was possible for him to
*feel* doubt about John. Sure, he was fussy and prim and all
those other words that add up, eventually, to that great horror
'conservative,' but he was also kind, loving, brilliant,
understanding --

John shifted in his sleep and Langly was abruptly aware that he'd
been nuzzling a little too vigorously.

In any case, once he'd gotten the man in his bed, his *life*
beyond the newsletter and easy friendship, he'd never had any
intention of letting go. Even if it would've, perhaps, been better
for both of them.

The hell of it was that all the months of working on the nanite
problems had been.... fun. Langly hadn't even been able to retain
a decent head of guilt after seeing John laugh delightedly, hell,
practically *bounce* every time one of them -- mostly John -- had
discovered the true nature of a given problem. Never mind solving
the thing, just *knowing* it...

Langly could certainly understand the feeling, but sharing it was
something else entirely. No, sharing it with the man he cared
about more than anything else in the world. His. John was his,
and knowing it in his soul could do nothing against the simple
joy of rediscovering it every time he woke up in a warm, full bed.

Working on Krycek's project was a return to the theoretical.
There was no way he could think about the consequences of their
actions for long without John picking up on it, after all, and that
just couldn't happen.

So, he enjoyed the "game," and sent off his progress reports to
"Alice," who would send them God knew where, and then send
*him* new requests/orders/suggestions/whatever. The
sonofabitch even dotted his e-mails with emoticons and signed
off with cutesy things like 'hugs,' or 'smooch,' just like the Alice
he'd created for John's benefit would.

He could almost see her now. Rail-thin carrot-top wannabe
hippie with a taste for long, tackily patterned skirts. Mostly
reclusive now, fighting a never-ending battle with depression, but
covering as best she could...

It had all made things very, very easy, and Langly wasn't all that
surprised to find himself disappointed with what was -- most
probably -- the job's completion. The last e-mail had gone out
nearly a week ago, and had been followed with hours of private


"Yeah, John?"

"I bet..." He trailed off into a yawn. "I bet someone might be able
to make that program work someday."

//Oh, you're right all the time, Princess...//

"Mmmph. Probably."

They lay there silently for a while, John actively cuddling now
that he was awake. Of course.

"I kinda hope Alice has more problems..."

"Oh, that'd be nice, Princess. I like... playing with you."

John squeezed him, and Langly could almost taste the other
man's pleased grin.

"I like playing with you, too, Langly."


Alex brushed past Ahmed with a nod, Chris at his side. He
supposed he could actually *speak* to the guards who'd been
keeping Orgel alive, in hiding, and working since the past
summer, but he knew his accent for Tunisian Arabic was
painfully bad, even if he could write and translate it reasonably

Silence unless it was absolutely necessary, then.

The page had come in just three days before. One word -- success.
He and Chris had had to wrap up the assignment they were on
before they could go. While one of them could've taken care of the
ambassador while the other flew out to check on things, there
hadn't even needed to be any discussion about it.

They both had to go.

Chris entered the lab first, tensing just visibly with excitement.
Over his shoulder, Alex noticed Orgel was a little too close. Chris
bent his head a little, presumably raised a mocking eyebrow.

"Mr. K and Mr. K, I think you'll be pleased with my results."
Orgel started to move toward Alex, but Hassan cut him off.
"Umm... Just let me call the appropriate files up."

And he'd walked to his impossibly cluttered desk, picked up a
small, grey box and then things were moving too fast.

Chris gurgled low in his throat and dropped to the floor,
twitching. Within heartbeats, veins were popping out all over his
body. The words 'explosive decompression' rose and fell in the
back of Alex's mind and he dropped to his knees.

Poked blindly for Chris' pulse and felt warm wetness splatter his

Saw red drip from his lashes.

Alex whirled to face the doctor, struggling with Ahmed. The box
was still in his hand.

[Get the fucking box, now, Ahmed!"]

Ahmed immediately yanked Orgel's wrist back, and the box fell to
the floor with a slow, echoing clatter. Alex grabbed for it,
understanding nothing but its setting on '10.' He tried yanking it
back, feeling the blood pool under his knees, but the lever only
snapped off in his fingers.




He turned back to his partner in time to see suddenly deformed
hands drum on the floor. To see Chris' mouth work and work and
the blood bubbled from somewhere and then he heard a rattle
and it was over.

Alex heard a thud somewhere behind him, and abruptly became
aware that he was dipping his fingers in Chris' blood. He turned
away, but didn't move his hand.

Ahmed had knocked the old man to the floor, and Hassan cocked
his gun.

[No! Don't kill him!]

They looked at him quizzically, and Alex swallowed back vomit.

[He's going to live until I know everything I need to know. And he
is going to suffer. You will make sure of that.]

Hassan nodded. Ahmed asked,

[What do we do with the corpse?]

Testing him. Testing for his reaction.

//Oh, God, Chris...//

Alex stood. [Burn it. Now.]

They nodded, nearly in unison, and moved past him to the body.
Chris. Ahmed grunted a little as he lifted him. Orgel was
cowering on the floor. Gazing up at him.

Alex pointedly licked the blood from his hand. Licked Chris' blood
from his hand and stared down.

"The first thing that's going to happen when I leave here is
Claude's punishment for your bad behavior. Do you understand?"

Orgel swallowed and nodded. He probably thought his co-
operation now would make Alex more merciful. He had probably
thought he'd be able to kill Alex, too...

"You're going to tell me precisely how you infected... infected Mr.
K and killed him that quickly. And you're going to start as soon
as Ahmed and Hassan have finished carving small pieces of flesh
from your body."

February 11, 1998
Early Afternoon/Afternoon

Alex sat in the small motel room and watched Claude Orgel's

And then he rewound the tape and did it again.

It wasn't that Orgel hadn't cooperated. On the contrary, the man
had caved after barely six hours. Had continued to cave over the
past month. Explained how the nanomachines could be spread
with just a touch. Debugged his own system and showed Alex the
"basic" program that allowed the nanites to be tailored to a
*specific* person, with just some simple blood typing.

Chris had been to his home several times. Chris had lost at least
four hairs there, which Orgel had carefully hoarded. Dr. Klein,
who had seen Orgel for that nasty cough which had tragically
halted his work in October, was married to a biochemist. The
block Langly had helped Alex place on Orgel's e-mail had failed,
because of a very specific 'virus' Orgel picked up from the Kleins'
very specific website some five weeks later.

Hassan had accompanied Orgel to the doctor. He had not noticed
a thing.

Ahmed had a new partner.

Alex couldn't remember his name.

Chris was dead.

Chris was dead again, but this time Alex had tasted his blood.
Smelled the rich, high aroma of his burning. Given a handful of
his ashes to the smoker as "proof" that Alex himself had killed

For screwing up, of course.

//"Getting to be awfully ruthless in our old age, are we, Alex?
You'll miss his ass."//

Alex hadn't thrown up. Not then, not any of the times when he
was forced to chauffeur the old bastard around. Because he
didn't have a partner, he wasn't on 'active' duty. It was
hysterically proper of the man.

He had, however, sucked his cock. One last time.

Because Orgel had theorized that, over time, even tailored
nanomachines adapted themselves to the body of the -- improper
-- host. And started behaving like very smart and very hyperactive
repairmen. Even stimulating the brain into doing things it
wasn't, technically, supposed to do.

And then a small box could be made that sent commands to the
nanomachines on one, specific frequency.

It was entirely possible that, in the future, he would just have
one dialable box for everyone whose records he held and had been
contaminated. For now, though, he would play it safe. Let his
nanites evolve and specialize themselves until they were nice and
strong. It was absurd, but the thought of tiny little allies was

In any case, the boxes were small, and he could carry dozens on
his person, if he planned it right.

And he would.

His stump had started itching in an interesting manner two
weeks ago, one week after he'd returned to Washington with a
small, round bit of Tupperware, and handed it over.

Before he'd reported in, he had smeared some of the greasy ash
on his palm and jerked off to an empty, painful orgasm. There
had been bone fragments in there, pulverized into grains of
calcite sand. He'd barely been able to touch himself for days after
that, which had been good.

He wondered when the exceedingly repentant Dr. Klein and Mrs.
Biofuckingchemist Klein would get back to him with those two
bloodscans from the semen and saliva he'd spit in that *other*
small, round Tupperware container.

He'd told them yesterday. If it was too much longer, young Gretchen Klein might
send home one of her ears from University.

He wondered when the smoker would start feeling healthier.

He wondered if this was where he was supposed to cry, and how
no one had ever noticed his 'grief face'  had always been dry. They
probably thought he was too damaged to cry.

It was important to understand that even the most apparently
stupid people could be right sometimes.

He hadn't seen Mulder in nearly six weeks. When it was bad, in
the cold hours that he'd grown used to being warm, he would
think about throwing himself at him. He bet Fox's Alex could cry.
And Fox's Alex would be comforted, but eventually Mulder would
ask what was wrong.

And Alex really didn't think he could lie about that.

//Oh, my partner just got killed. What? I didn't tell you about
him? Well, isn't *that* strange... In any case, I was fucking him
before I knew you existed, and I started fucking him again about
four months after you started fucking me. Yeah, I miss him a lot.
His name was Chris. I never knew how old he was. His blood
didn't taste like cinnamon. He knew me a fuck of a lot better
than *you* ever will, and I think he loved me anyway.

//And he managed to do that without making me think he was
intrinsically stupid. Why are you looking at me like that?//

It wasn't going to happen. He simply had to stay away from
Mulder until he'd... calmed down. To Mulder, if he played it right,
it would only be another chapter of their deep and tragic love. E-
mailing him some briefly passionate note would probably make
the whole thing even better, but Alex was too damned tired.

Tomorrow, maybe.

The tape hissed into snow again, and Alex dutifully rewound. He
wished he'd brought the original with him. This was just the

There was his ear coming off, and next would be just Claude
weeping, and next would be him spitting blood, and then came
the garrote and Claude's hands would drum against the chair
and his feet would drum against the floor and if Alex turned it up
all the way he'd be able to hear a gurgle, and then a rattle.

It wasn't that Orgel hadn't cooperated, and it wasn't that the
tape made him feel better. It did, however, leave him cold and
numb. And that's what he wanted for now.

It was *Orgel's* death that would make him feel better, just as
soon as he was positive he'd gotten everything out of the little
bastard he could.

Or whenever he just couldn't stand Orgel's continued existence
on the world he was supposed to own anymore. The world he'd
been planning on sharing...

The plan had been to show Orgel the tape just before Alex
finished him off with his own perfectly tailored nanites -- the
knife wounds had healed very quickly -- and then it was just
going to be the highlights...

Now, though, Alex knew there would be no private viewing for
Orgel. He didn't wish to see the old man's face twist in sickened
grief. Alex had never seen himself that way, after all. In the end,
Orgel had taken something that had belonged to him, and so
Orgel had to lose something that had belonged to *him*.

The gesture was meaningless.

Chris was dead.

The page came ten minutes, or perhaps an hour later. 'Ready,
sending.' Three blocks away at the local branch of the D.C. Public
Library, the first of some fifty pages of intensive personal
information would be arriving. By mistake. The young Dr.
Arntzen would be by to pick them up, effusively apologetic, in
about an hour.

Alex sent back his own signal -- 'now' -- and smiled a little. In
Berlin, Gretchen was being taken out by an exceedingly patient

In Stuttgart, Dr. and Mrs. Klein were about to start bleeding out.

It was time for Langly to do a few more favors for his good friend


Scully watched her partner chewing through the third pencil of
the day. She resisted the urge to pull up some statistics on
graphite poisoning. On the surface, there didn't appear to be
anything wrong with Mulder. He was typing up background report
four of the twelve Scully had decided they needed to finish that
day, and his face was smooth, but...

He'd been silent. All day. A few hmms, some humorless chuckles
at the latest check that would be immediately forwarded to the
applicant's local police department, but other than that, there
was only the sound of soft wood splintering between strong, even

It made her want to bat at her tongue, but she was not so
desperate to chivvy Mulder out of whatever he was in to endure
the inevitably pornographic 'kitten' references.

Even if he had been this way off and on for the past three weeks.

She sighed to herself.

"Mulder, what's wrong?"

"I think my lover broke up with me."

Scully blinked.

"I have to admit, I've been waiting for you to ask."

"How long...?"

"Since..." Mulder looked away from his monitor, meeting her eyes.
Scully saw the apology building in his eyes and braced herself.
"Since last March."

Scully blinked again. "You've been seeing someone since last

//Is this your version of love? Am I surprised?//

Mulder nodded.

"And you've kept it a secret, why?"

"There were... are... a lot of reasons for that. Most of them aren't
very intelligent. He... he is secretive."

"And so are you."

Mulder winced, and Scully felt herself blush. She hadn't meant to
say that out loud.

"So he broke up with you."

Inside, Scully was doing her best to revise her old, old knowledge
of Mulder's bisexuality from simple Interesting Tidbit to Truth. It
was easier than examining the confirmation of a belief she'd been
waiting for years to have debunked -- she was just a beloved
friend, and would always be so.

Mulder chuckled low in his throat, a sound that resonated easily
despite the relative stillness of the man's lips when he did it. It
had always made Scully want to kiss him, softly, again and again
until he *stopped*.

She leaned back in her chair and waited.

"That's the thing. I really don't know. When he can be with me,
he comes by my apartment. He'll make estimates as to when he'll
be able to return, but he's not always right. But he's never been
away this long --"

"'When he can be with you?' Mulder, is this guy married?"

That earned her a near belly-laugh.

"Mulder, do you want my help or not?"

Another contrite look. "I don't think you *can* help, Scully. I
have to... have to resolve this on my own somehow. I'm sorry I
dumped this on you..."

Scully bit the inside of her lip and started silently reciting all the
reasons she never shot Mulder in the head.

"... had to say something, it was *building*..."

And then started the list over again. She was almost sure she
should be at least cautiously happy for Mulder. He hadn't left his
sexuality somewhere in Antarctica, he'd just left his
*heterosexuality* there.

But the relationship itself seemed so... juvenile.

And her years of emergency room internship had taught her a
very important lesson: When grown men act like children, there
will, eventually, be large amounts of pain.

Scully turned back to her monitor and began to search for her
place, hoping that she'd at least waited until he'd finished
talking, but not feeling up to making sure.

Later. She'd hear all about this in better detail later, she was

Just a matter of time.


Langly strategically placed exactly four jalapeno slices among the
eight dill pickle slices and mayo on the bottom half of his
Portuguese roll, then repeated the process with John's.

The deli meats were arranged neatly before him, from honey-
roasted turkey breast on his left to pastrami -- brisket, of course
-- on his right. These would be the perfect sandwiches.

These sandwiches would make soup superfluous.

These sandwiches would have John begging for his secret, instead
of just eyeing him amusedly from the cornerstool.

Or at the very least make him stop deriding the culinary value of
prepared foods.

These sandwiches were Langwoods.

When the page came, he almost ignored it. He knew full well that
he would've avoided it, say, that past summer, but these days....
Well, ignoring pages just wasn't bright.

Langly rummaged in his jacket for the pager, consoling himself
with the fact that his lover was living proof rampant
responsibility could be sexy.

The number was "Alice's," and Langly felt a stomach-plummeting,
mouth-drying, cock-twitching sick thrill. It seemed he'd have an
opportunity to play with John again, after all.

The page was simple: 'You will receive twenty-seven actual
medical reports and a certain basic program. You will create game
scenarios for them. Have fun.'

"Hey, John, Alice's game was picked up by her contractors!"

"Oh, that's *wonderful*."

"Yeah. Boring as the thing was, I'm kinda glad we got our names
on it."

John smiled. "And I'm glad we got it on there in very, very small

Langly scowled at him playfully. "You know, they gave her a
bonus for this."


"Uh huh. And she wants to share the wealth."

"But I thought this was just a favor?"

"Oh, it was. But now she wants to hire us."

"Well, never let it be said that John Byers looks down his nose at
business opportunities --"

"No, just head cheese."

"*Head* cheese, Langly! The name alone!"

Langly cackled cheerfully and returned to the Ubersandwiches.
There would be no head cheese.

"So... what does she want to hire us for?"

"Her contractors want to branch the nanogame into the
medtech/educational field. Show how the nanos work on people
of various medical profiles."

"Oh, now that *is* fascinating... but are we even remotely
qualified for that?"

Langly grinned, not really noticing how predatory it looked
beyond seeing John's small shift out of the corner of his eye.
"Absolutely. This time she has the fundamental bugs worked

"And she needs us to do what?"

"Jazz it up. Create simple characters for the profiles, run them
through her program, see what happens."

"Oh... you could do some animation and we could add sounds
and voices and *color* and we can get Frohike in on it this time,

Langly slapped the spicy brisket on, retrieved the upper halves of
the rolls, and sliced the sandwiches. Swallowed the painful shard
of the thought of involving Frohike, too. He had nothing to give
Mel in return... "Easy there, Princess. You *know* he gets bored
when we're being... affectionate. And I think Alice is frightened by
too much color. Animation just might send her over the edge."

"But you *said* we were jazzing it up."

Langly reached over and tugged the rolling stool close to the
table, biting a knee through the dark brown suit pants. "We will,
we will. Just not *too* much. Now eat."

John followed orders, and the only sounds for a while were
chewing and occasional 'mmms.' John finished half of his
Langwood, and licked mayo from his fingers in a highly
noticeable fashion.



"You really shouldn't waste all this butch in the kitchen."

February 12, 1999

Alex was feverish, in pain and sweating on the rough, cheap
sheets. Just a few more stains. He wasn't sure if he'd dreamed it
or not, but the smoker had been there with someone dressed like
a doctor.

//"What's wrong with him?"

//"His lymph nodes are swollen at his neck, groin, under his
arms... he's badly infected with something. I don't see how he
could've gone this long --"

//"That's enough. Will he live?"

//"I've got a syringe of ampicillin but... look at this bruising
under the jaw. His fever is 103.5, and his blood pressure is 150
over 130 and seems to be rising --"

//"Will. He. Live."

//"Doubtful. He needs to be in a hospital, so I can do a few
slightly less primitive tests --"

//The smoker waved a hand at him, crushed his cigarette out on
the carpet. "Of course. Of course he does. Come with me, doctor,
I will send a few of my associates to... collect him."//

And they had gone, and Alex was alone. There had been no one to
collect him, though Chris had come to lick the sweat from his
face once...

He didn't stay.

Alex wasn't worried. He knew exactly what was happening.

February 13, 1999

The itch that had begun in his stump slowly crept over his entire
body. It was a deep, quiet buzz in his head, counter to the one he
knew as fever.

Alex wished the sheets were made of sandpaper. He was broken,
and the whole world was a cast. The old, heavy plaster kind.

He forced himself to remain as still as possible, not scratching
anywhere despite the urge that had become nearly sexual.

One did not claw madly at a miracle.

February 14, 1999

Alex wrapped his arms around Chris' lean, hard chest, crossing
them low at the forearm and grabbing the other man's shoulders
from the front. Pistoned himself inside the tight, willing ass over
and over and he could feel the hard nipples chafing his forearms.

Alex rested his cheek on the heated flesh between neck and
shoulder and rubbed, grunting breathily, helplessly, with each
thrust. Hot outside, hotter in here, wherever this stupid motel
was and Chris still smelled like cordite and other people's blood
and Christ it was so *good*...

The moans that had been nearly continuous stopped abruptly
and Alex couldn't stand the silence. He bit down hard.

"C'mon, tell me... tell me how much you like it. Show me."

Yelping laughter and Alex tightened his hold.


"Please what. Tell me what. Tell me to --"

"Please help me, Alexxxxxxxx...."

And no snake's rattle could possibly chill his blood like that one
did. He tried to pull away but he was stuck to the other man's
flesh. Alex felt a tightening on his cock that just got more and
more painful until he shot with an anguished cry and Chris was
hotter than a furnace, burning him, swelling with something like
a tight, ripe late summer nectarine.

Alex managed to close his eyes in the dream, and so felt rather
than saw the splatter of Chris' explosive death.

He woke up with his own fist a vice on his cock, and stumbled to
the bathroom to retch. It was cold and his skin hurt.

He wondered if his own death would just be slower.

February 16, 1999

John watched the results of Patient 16 scroll down the screen
and blinked. Shook his head, opened his mouth to speak, but
Langly beat him to it.

"Damn, Patient 3's heart has failed on *every* setting. He can't
take the nanos at all, John."

"Any clue what's going wrong?"

"None. None at all. Hey, maybe we can leave that as part of the
game. 'Sometimes, there's just nothing you can do.'"

John giggled at Langly's rather convincing version of Emotionally
Subdued. "His poor family..."

"I'm convinced there has to be a reason for it, though. Wasn't
this guy morbidly obese and over 50?"

"I think this is the part where our profound lack of medical
qualifications come in, Langly."

Langly looked shocked at himself for a moment, then shook his
head and smiled. "You're absolutely right, Princess. How's Patient
16 doing?"

"Well, we took that three hour lunch break..."


"I accidentally left the program running."

"On what level?"

"The so-called 'dormant' level."

"So... that translates to three months or so. What happened?"

"The blood test program says he's toxic. He has *trillions* of
nanomachines in his blood. More than any of the rest, yet he
isn't anywhere near the artery-clogged heart attack waiting to
happen the other patients were at this level.

"I had him 'contaminate' Patient 8 -- the one whose system kept
killing the nanos off -- and P8 died in less than five minutes. P16
should be dead, but he's not, and now he's deadly himself. Are
you sure we can't convince Alice to shift her consumer focus to,
say, twelve year old boys? The graphics for this --"

"*Shit*. There's a fuckup somewhere."

John was more than a little shocked by the obvious upset in
Langly's voice. He really seemed to be scared about something...

"All of the 'subjects' but 3, 8, and 16 have responded perfectly..."

The other man's eyes flashed at him for a briefly terrifying
moment, before settling into a brittle, rueful amusement.

"I don't think I should be allowed near... near *interesting*
games, Princess."

John's stomach twisted a little. This was... new. But that was
Langlyapology if he'd ever heard one...

"I think someone needs a time-out."

Nearly cheerless bark of laughter. "Yeah. Yeah, someone does.
After the long-term run you can stand me in a corner and make
me repent."

February 16, 1999
Late Evening

Alex stared at the wreckage of the massive take out order he'd
intimidated the night man into bringing him.

He was still hungry.

As if on cue, his stomach growled. Alex was still feverish, and his
vision seemed to slide right off the rumpled mattress to the floor.
The pattern of the carpet was rising through years of grime to
hide the food he needed so badly.

He let himself tumble off the bed to his knees and pressed his
nose nearly to the floor, but only managed to retrieve six precious
grains of rice. The flavor was impossibly intense for the scarcity,
nutty and spicy and *needful*.

But then they were gone.

Alex curled up into a ball and tried to weep.

He stayed there for a long, long time.

When he opened his eyes, he began the long, difficult climb back
onto the bed, but something white and gleaming and beautiful as
bone caught his eye from the gloom of under the bed.

He reached in and snagged a box. A box that was oily and warm
against his palm.

If his sinuses weren't as hopelessly clogged as they were, he
would have heard himself let out a rusty yell of triumph. Chinese
restaurants *always* gave free sticky rice for orders as large as his
own had been.

Alex stuck his face in the small carton and did his best to inhale
the miraculous food. When he could get no further without
ripping the box -- and losing the rice he needed -- he set the box
in his lap and dug in with his hand. It was all right, he was
careful. He lost nothing.

He tilted his head back to savor the last fingers-full, shoving his
other hand in the box. And screamed in pain.

It was then that he realized that he didn't have a left hand. That,
in fact, his arm ended in a stump. But then he remembered
where the stump used to be and smiled in wonder. He had an
elbow again.

He worked it back and forth a few times, but couldn't keep it up.
There were no scars on this stump and he had to touch it.

Eight inches past his new, beautiful elbow, the arm tapered to a
softly curved end. It was too smooth and pink to be called a
stump. He ran his fingers down the new flesh and shivered. It
wasn't all *that* sensitive, really, but it sent cool prickles down
his spine to poke experimentally at his balls.

Slamming the arm into that box had been the equivalent of a
terrible zipper incident.

He chuckled to himself.

"Oh, Alex... it's lovely."

"Isn't it? I never really thought..."

He whirled, nearly lost his questionably upright position in a
wave of dizziness. Chris was laid out naked on the bed, half-hard
with glittering eyes. He was loosely sprawled, decadent and
wanting him.

Alex crawled on the bed and started sniffing. Sex was in the air.
Making it humid. He wanted Chris to remove the jacket and
jeans he'd hastily thrown on, but the other man just kept staring
at his new arm. Chris had clearly been fucked within the past

And suddenly he saw how it must have been: Chris had prepped
himself as he straddled Alex's body, staring directly into Alex's
eyes while he did so. So beautiful. Chris loved him, and he loved
Chris. He wished they'd kissed more often...

But now Chris was laid out before him, a sensualist and
sensualist's banquet at once. One long, pale finger -- he'd never
noticed how neatly they tapered before -- rubbed across the end
of his arm and Alex shivered.

"It makes me think naughty things, partner..."

"Why doesn't that surprise me one bit?"

"Because I know how much you hate surprises."

"Seeing you again was a surprise..."

"Careful, Alex. You're getting sugary."

"We're alone here, it's OK --"

"Fuck me with it, partner. C'mon, I want it..."

And he was helpless to resist the command, positioning himself
between helpfully spread thighs and nudging Chris' entrance. It
relaxed instantly, and he was slipping into heat... Chris was still
slick and his arm went in for a few easy inches before it widened
too much.

Chris moaned, arched, and began screwing himself down again
and again. Alex couldn't believe how good it felt on the new skin.
He couldn't believe he was lucky enough to have its first
experience be deep inside Chris, perhaps his favorite place to be.

He planted soft kisses along the thigh he could easily reach, and
did his best to memorize the moans, the shamelessly wet sounds
of flesh on flesh in flesh. So good...

It didn't take Chris long to come, shouting Alex's name as he did

"Oh, God, Chris I miss you so much..."

"I'm not Chris. I'm just a dream. If I was the real Chris..."

"What? Tell me!"

"I would've let you tell me you loved me."

"You would?"

Easy shrug. "Maybe. I'm still just a dream." Suddenly, Alex's arm
was his own again, dry and impossibly clean. He moaned, low in
his throat.

"You're not. You're *not*. I can *feel* you, goddamnit!"

"Can you?"

And the thigh that pillowed Alex's cheek disappeared.

"*Fuck* --"

"*Cope*, Alex. This is just a delirious fever dre --"


"Hunger dream? Those nanobuggers take up a lot of energy --"


"Fine. Then I'm a memory that you'll never actually get to make.
Ne-ver. Say it with me, Alex."

"Chris --"

"*NO*! I'm not going to lay here and let you... let you fucking
*wallow*. That's not my Alex, and it's not Chris' Alex, and you
know damned well it's not your Alex, either."

"I want it to be."

"You're long past old enough for your wants not to hurt you,

"Don't call me that."

"You're catching on fast. I always liked that about us."

And suddenly Chris was gone, and there was another Alex
standing by the door, with two whole arms and an expensive suit
and a *good* haircut, for motherfucking once.

"It's over, isn't it?"

"All our plans, Alex.... But that doesn't mean we can't still

Alex opened his eyes, and he was sitting on the cold floor with
the cold box in his hand and his brand new end was trying to
scrub itself through his hair.

He placed a call to the desk clerk. Made another order.

And started to think about his old friends at the FBI.

March 29, 1999
Late Afternoon

Mulder followed Skinner down to the parking garage at a safe
distance. He didn't think he'd have been able to pull it off had
the man not been so obviously distracted, but opportunity was

He wondered if he'd still be following if he hadn't seen past the
wig and beard in the photo to find his missing lover. And known
Skinner had done the same.

He wondered if he'd still be following if his lover wasn't missing.

He doubted it.

The parking garage announced its proximity with a gust of cold
air and aging car exhaust. Mulder slipped deeper into the
shadows, easily tracking Skinner's progress to his car. He'd
planned to wait until Skinner had turned the corner to the exit,
then follow him with his own car.

He was surprised when a shadow detached itself from the mass of
them in the back seat of his former supervisor's car and leaned
forward. But he wasn't surprised when he recognized the
shadow's profile.

In truth, he wasn't sure what he felt. There was relief at Alex's
continued existence, anger at his continued existence without
news of any kind, disgust at his own stereotypical overemotional
reactions, the sickening terror that Alex really was responsible for
Skinner's near-death.

And for the blood on that ugly metal table that *would* turn out
to be Kenneth Orgel's.

And for whatever else came out of this nasty, pointless episode of
his life.

He forced himself to pull his gun and waited.

Skinner had shocked him with his abrupt turnaround some
twenty minutes before, but Mulder knew full well that they'd
slipped a leash on him again, somehow. And if 'they' was Alex
this time...

He didn't know. God help him, he didn't know.


Alex sat in the gloom of Skinner's car, compulsively fingering the
little grey box with his left hand. He couldn't really help himself.
The hand was new and sensitive, it and the arm it was attached
to was still very, very weak compared to the rest of him. Despite
the fact that he'd been working out with it since the morning
he'd woken up with the smooth, tapered end.

Just another victim of tragic birth defects, nothing more horrible
than that. Perhaps his mother had used Thalidomide in blissful
ignorance, he was reasonably sure he was old enough for that.

//Chris is dead.//

It had been a nice fantasy to indulge in as he slowly regained his
strength from the fever.

The first thing he'd done after recovering was to retrieve Patient
16's -- Skinner's -- records from Langly, and have them sent to
his manufacturer. Chris' manufacturer, actually, but leashes
were easily passed. The job had taken less than a week, and then
Orgel had put on his Typhoid Mary shoes and given Walter
Skinner a gift. They fit him better by the day it seemed.... Orgel
had nearly blown it with Matheson.

The second thing he'd done was to build a large fire on the
outskirts of town and toss his prosthesis in the exact center.
Alex had wanted to stay for its melting, but some of the locals
began screaming about the stench and he'd had to leave. He
hoped the fire had been allowed to burn long enough to render
the ugly plastic thing unrecognizable.

Alex knew full well that history could be wiped from the
imaginations of millions, and was working diligently toward his
own kind erasure.

As for the hand, he *had* to use it as much as possible, bring it
up to speed... and everything felt good on the infant-new nerve
endings, even the rough chafe of the controller's cheap plastic.
And he knew that had nothing to do with neural confusion, and
everything to do with the cold, brittle joy that he was whole
again. Whole.

But Langly had only just finished with Patient 12. The smoker.
And so Alex was still dutifully reporting for his assignments, and
holding his arm as stiffly as possible. No one had seemed to
notice... he supposed no one but the mutilated paid close
attention to the mutilated.

Human, chosen blindness had always, always served him well.

The door closed with a comfortable, muted chock, and the air was
abruptly filled with responsibility and middle-aged man cologne.
Chris was never coming back. A red haze, a familiar haze fell over
his vision, and he felt himself smile, way down deep.

//What do I want from you? You're going to infect everyone
Matheson can't, or won't. And then you're going to die. Maybe
Langly will be able to make a setting for '11,' and you'll splatter
all over that big, neat desk of yours....//

"You'll see soon enough."

And then he stepped out of the car, not as smoothly as he
wished. If he wasn't actively pretending to still have one arm, he
would forget that his balance wasn't all that it could be, and
move too quickly.

He wasn't sure how he felt about the idea that he'd adapted so
*well* to being a cripple.

He corrected himself by the fifth step away from Skinner's car,
highly amused that the man didn't know when to take a back-
shot. At the thirtieth step, Mulder grabbed him and slammed him
against the wall.


Mulder grabbed Alex by the throat and slammed him against the
wall, shivering a little at the feel of soft, warm skin under his

It had been too long.

He was mildly shocked by how quickly he had his gun to the
other man's head... it seemed that old habits died hard. Skinner's
car pulled out of the garage with a tasteful little purr.

"How are you involved in this, Krycek? Answer me!"

Krycek. He'd called him Krycek...

Alex started laughing then, smiling at him with just the tiniest
hint of affectionate mockery. Like the time he'd washed two of
Alex's undershirts with his own, and, for perhaps the first time in
his life, had *missed* seeing the pair of cheap, red panties in the
washer. Everything had been pink.

"Oh, Mulder... I've *missed* you!"

//Where have you been?//

"Tell me what's going on, dammit! Why Skinner? Why now?"

"Sure, Mulder: New technology, he was there, and I *felt* like it."

The other man was practically giggling now, eyes wild and lips
pressed together against louder laughter. He barely resisted the
urge to --

"Come on, Mulder. Hit me. You know you want to...."

And it was spoken in the same voice as 'C'mon, Mulder. Fuck me

Mulder shook his head and jabbed the gun against the other
man's temple. Felt his body molded to Alex's own and hated
himself because the hot skin beneath his own was the only real
thing he'd ever touched.

"Alex, please... just tell me *why*."

The other man abruptly stopped laughing and eyed him
speculatively, cocking his head like a dog, or maybe a drunk.
"Would it really make you feel better, Mulder?"

"That's not *why*, dammit --"

"I really don't think it would. Let me go or shoot me. We both
know that if you arrested me it would just be a -- slightly --
slower version of the latter."

Alex was talking too fast, babbling. The whispers echoed in harsh
little breezes, made the air colder. But Alex felt feverish under
Mulder's hands. "Alex --"

"Or are you just a coward, Mulder? Hunh? Is that it? Don't want
to get your hands any dirtier than they already are? You know,
there's no washing. You can never be clean again --"

"Alex, shut the *fuck* up."

He panted, grinned again. Searched Mulder's face with the eyes of
a child watching a fascinating show. Mulder felt sick to his
stomach, and his mind ran through a hundred questions he
already knew the answers to, jumping and settling and jumping
again and he knew Alex's eyes were moving back and forth
quickly now because they were following his own but he couldn't
stop --

Alex was laughing again and Mulder tightened his hands at
Alex's collar to keep from choking and finally just blurted the one
question that felt safe.

"Why not just shoot Orgel in the head when you were done with
him? Why torture him?"

Alex's laughter trailed off, and he looked thoughtful for a
moment so brief as to be nearly hallucinatory. And then a slow,
lazy smile crept over his face. His voice was gentle when he
spoke. "Oh, Mulder... you shouldn't worry about poor Kenny. He
was a lying little murderer." Alex licked his lips and leaned in
close. His breath was sweet against Mulder's face. "A lying little
murderer..." His voice dropped to a low, conspiratorial whisper.
"Just. Like. Me."

Mulder felt the low mewl creep up his throat and swallowed it.
His fists jerked open and he found himself backing away from

The other man made as if to follow him but pulled back just
before his Alex would have dove in to kiss him.

And then he turned and walked away. Tall, loose-limbed,

He'd shaken off the stiffness of his being.

Warning bells went off in Mulder's mind, but it wasn't enough to
keep him from walking after Alex.

From spinning him around and diving in to claim his... cheek.
Alex pushed him away, and let his hand slide up the material of
Mulder's jacket and collar to settle, finally, on his face.

His soft, warm left hand.

//Oh, Jesus.//

"Now, now Mulder... Not on the first date."

And this time, when he turned to walk away, Mulder let him go.

April 12, 1999
Wee Hours

John's watch gave a small, apologetic beep. He'd programmed it
himself to do so for the hours and half-hours between two and
six a.m.

It was three.

Langly wasn't home.

It had started simply enough. The laughter and jokes, the simple
*joy* of playing their way through the making of a game...
nothing said 'perfect' like doing what he did best with and for his

His lover?

His lover was, apparently, more interested in the seventeen
thousand dollars Alice was dangling in front of him than... fun.

Langly had never been materialistic, hell, the man still had his
iron-on Kiss t-shirts.

Which suggested trouble somewhere.

Langly gambled... John had always thought it was just small,
occasional bets on hockey games, but the other man had gotten
so *upset* when it looked like the game wouldn't work out.

And so, approximately a week and a half after the first strange
blowup, John had quietly saved a copy of the program to an
otherwise innocuous CD.

And then he had quietly released a virus. A special one he'd been
tinkering with for nearly a year. By the time he and Langly had
returned from the movie, it had eaten through absolutely
everything, including the original disk.

He'd said, 'maybe it's an omen...'

And he was glad he'd been smiling when he'd said it, because
Langly had only looked at him, blue eyes nearly grey, and
unreadable -- and John had to admit that his inability to read
them probably had more to do with his lack of will than anything

They'd rebuilt the programs and simulations from scratch over
the next two weeks. John hadn't been able to fall asleep except in
those few, brief times when Langly had simply dozed off -- rank
with himself and something that smelled a lot like fear -- at the
desk. John had agreed to this, after all.

And every movement of Langly's had made it seem as though he
was reminding John of that fact.

The program didn't work any better this time for the "patients,"
but Langly was calmer than he'd been. Quietly obsessive instead
of vibrating on the edge of... of something. Holding Langly had
become the equivalent of trying to grab a tuning fork, but he
would eventually still. And John would say, "We'll figure it out."

But they hadn't. And so John had taken to easing Langly into
bed, seducing him until he slept, and then crawling out of bed to
try to stop the deaths. Patient 16 was still the ultimate survivor.
After four months, not even cranking the "controller" up to ten
killed him, after six months everyone he contaminated became a

After seven months, even the 'normal' patients were dead, save
for Patient 2, who had gradually mutated into something similar
to Patient 16.

The "nanomachines" rebuilt themselves and adapted, beginning
to change frequencies immediately after settling themselves
within their host. They corrected various health problems --
though, curiously, were powerless against heart disease -- and,
when they had finished beautifying their homes, bred and bred
until the patient died.

Langly had made it abundantly clear that answer wasn't
sufficient, demanding Patient 16 to send to Alice as a show of
good faith. That had been February 20. Six weeks later, John had
no more ideas.

No, that wasn't true. As soon as he'd printed out the specs for
P16's controller, he'd known this was going to fail. He'd just
worked up a good, strong case of denial, fed by Langly's obvious

And Langly's needs had never been an easy thing to resist.

But it was well past three and Langly was -- he knew it -- out
drinking. Maybe even gambling. When he returned, he would be
sodden, more depressed, and just a little bit more scared than
he'd been before he left.

Today, Langly had tossed out the idea that the reason for the
massive failure was that they hadn't rebuilt the program
correctly. Everything about the idea smacked of desperation.

Though that could have been because John had been running the
-- identical -- original program nightly. And getting the same

It was time to tell the truth. His father had money... maybe the
debt wasn't too high. There had to be help somewhere.

John closed his eyes and waited in the dark for Langly to return.

He knew he wouldn't sleep.

Apr. 13, 1999
Late Evening

Scully watched Mulder leave the hospital room with a smile on
her face. He had, of course, chosen to stay until someone noticed
that he was still there, well past the end of visiting hours.

//"We all have to do our part to frustrate The Man, Scully."

//"I am The Man, Mulder."

//"Hmmm.... Are you frustrated?"//

She'd given him a quelling look, but she hadn't been especially...
fervent about it. As much as she hated to admit it, hospitals had
become just another creepy place she simply wanted to avoid.

Mulder was a brilliant man, but if he honestly believed she
wanted to leave the FBI and spend more time in places like these
than she absolutely *had* to....

Then again, it certainly wasn't the *first* time she'd doubted his

If she could walk, she'd have walked home. Scully knew she
needed a doctor's care, but hell, she *was* a doctor. And she was
careful, too.

But oh, no. Ritter just *had* to be a trigger-happy little geek.

She wondered how much effort it would take to get Mulder to
start making young Peyton's life more of a misery than he
undoubtedly already was. And tell her about it.

In any case, she'd been happy to see him there, despite having
known he *would* come. Mulder would be more likely to kiss
Kersh's ass than he would to miss visiting her in the hospital.
Something about that thought gave her a small, ghostly pang of
guilt, but it faded quickly.

Mulder had come, as she'd known he would, and he'd preached a
little about the assorted strange things he "knew" about death,
as she'd known he would, and then they'd chatted about
everything and nothing for hours.

And hours. It was wonderful, and she hadn't felt tired until
Mulder closed the door behind him, but...

He'd been... more attached... lately. Calling her at home -- in the
evening, not the wee hours of the morning -- taking her to lunch,
etc. Scully wasn't sure if she'd be as calm about this had they
not been forced away from the unbelievably time-consuming
stress of the X Files.

Now, though they still worked together at least eight hours from
Monday to Friday, she just didn't feel the same need for distance.
She knew Mulder wanted the hustle back, and, if she was honest
with herself, she did, too, but she'd made some of those overtures

After the surreal discussion of Mulder's Mystery Lover, he'd
quieted for a while, but as time passed he'd begun to move closer
again. And in the past couple of weeks he'd practically been glued
to her. Scully had thought he'd kill himself trying to keep his
phone calls strictly relevant to the Fellig case.

She wondered if Mulder would've said anything important if
she'd, well, let him off the hook. Just said the words, 'I'm not
going to leave you,' or some slightly less... drastic... version of
same. And then maybe beat Skinner until he'd done the same

Scully didn't believe for one minute that Skinner had really had a
change of heart. Not after that conversation in *that* hospital.
Someone had gotten to him, and so he couldn't be as free as he
wished. His office was probably bugged again, and it wouldn't be
politic to remove them, but...

Scully decided that she'd go see Skinner as soon as she could do
all the striding, shouting, and bullying it would undoubtedly take
to get the man to *give*.

She didn't think it would take *too* long... she really was healing
surprisingly fast --

The phone was in her hand even before the chill had finished
racing along her body.


"Mulder, it's me."

//Orgel contaminated Skinner with just a touch...//

She could almost hear him smile. "Hey, is it time for the big
breakout already? I've got the file but my cakes keep falling --"

"Mulder, we've forgotten something very important."

"It's our anniversary already...?"

"Dammit, Mulder, we're *contaminated*."

//And so is everyone else we've touched...//

There was a brief pause.

"Oh. Oh, *fuck*, Scully. I know... I think I know..."

Her stomach plummeted. "What do you *know*?"

"I know who... who's responsible for this."


Alex sat in the stale, filthy-smelling limo and tried to figure out
what was wrong. He'd had a vague sense of 'problem' for about
two days, but everything had been normal.

A few more jokes about his 'missing arm,' sore ass from sitting
behind the wheel day after day, a cold, empty bed... Everything
was as it should have been.

Though it was a nice change to do night-driving for the smoker.
His vision had never been better, but his eyes were so sensitive
sometimes.... The sunglasses had been making him feel like a bad
movie stereotype. And the silence in the car while the bastard
carried out his business was lighter than most of the silences
Alex dealt with.

There was no reason why he should be hearing Chris' voice
*here*, after all.

Silence. That tugged at him a little.

He wondered why he was still doing this. There had ample
opportunity to just *shoot* the man, even if he really wanted it to
be painful. Was he really just waiting for Langly?

Silence. Langly.

He barely avoiding smacking himself. He hadn't checked his pager
in days. For all he knew, Ahmed could've strangled
Whatshisname, the manufacturer could have left on a month
long honeymoon, and Langly... Langly just might have Patient
12's information for him.

His mouth watered. His pager was back at this week's secure
little hole in the wall, the cell phone in this car probably had
enough traces on it to pin down the location of a ghost, but he
just couldn't wait.

The phone only rang twice before it was picked up on the other
end. He waited.


He sounded a little... off. "Talk to me."

"Where the fuck have you *been*?! I paged you --"

"I don't really think that's any of your business." It was
amazingly easy to slip into that role, and there was a tiny click
that he chose to interpret as Langly's teeth coming together
abruptly. When his voice came again, it was clipped. Professional.

"We've been working on your little programs for months now,
*Alice*. Trying to fix the unfortunate bugs. I didn't mention
those, did I? Well, that was because John and I were feeding each
other little white lies about how we could repair the problem."

Alex's balls tried to crawl back where they came from, and he had
to stifle a giggle. "Oh, that's *terrible*..."

//Are your knuckles a little bloody, Rin-go? How many lies have
there been? How long did it take you to tell him it was real? How
long had you been blaming him? I wish I could've seen...//

"It's fatal, Alice. Within eight months."

It was getting harder and harder to choke back the giggles.
"Universal fatality?"

"Patients 2 and 16 are the only ones who survive. There's no such
fucking thing as *dormant*, you sonofabitch. John wants me to
reassure you that the medical sample probably isn't as wide as it
should be. I just want to ask you how long ago you released this
on the populace."

Alex just laughed and laughed for long minutes. When he trailed
off, he was surprised to find himself still connected to Langly,
who was shouting for answers.

"Shh, Langly, *shh*! It's OK, we'll all be dead by this time next
year anyway..." He snickered helplessly.

"How *long*, asshole? *Tell* me."

"Ohh... it's been more than a month. Tell Mulder. Tell Mulder
everything. I want... you'll tell him, won't you? You don't have to
worry, we stopped dating *ages* ago --"

He was cut off by the click of the phone, and found himself
staring at the receiver stupidly until he was able to shake off the
haze. And then he took out his gun, and began to wait for the
smoker to return.

He didn't want to be a chauffeur any more.

April 17, 1999

The bullpen was packed. No one in the D.C. area was off-duty
today. Nor had they been since he'd hung up on Scully a few
nights before to ask the Gunmen what they knew about
nanotechnology. John had come over immediately, bruise on his
cheekbone, and told a very long, frightening story.

Mulder had sent another agent to talk to Langly. He couldn't...
he couldn't. Even with Frohike looking old, looking at him like
Mulder had failed. And when he'd watched the tape, when he'd
heard the name Krycek enough times to make him vomit, he'd
told Scully *everything* he knew. Finally. No more hedges. No
more talk of thoughts and theories.

She'd shaken her head, tightened her mouth and stared at him.

Mulder had picked up his phone and told Kersh everything,
offering his resignation and asking for an APB on the lover he'd
never really had. Kersh told him he could resign any time he
wanted to. After Krycek had been brought to justice.

And Scully had nodded, and she'd been released from the hospital
not much later, and Mulder had never felt sicker to see her so...

There were CDC people cordoning off the D.C. area, he knew.

He also knew it was much, much too late for that.

The Krycek he'd spoken to in the parking garage didn't give a fuck
about cures. And everyone else would know that, too, just as
soon as Krycek decided he wanted to be caught.

April 23, 1999
Early Afternoon

Alex walked down Connecticut Avenue with his gun hanging
loosely from his left hand. It was empty, and he was out of
ammunition, but the people distanced themselves from him like
waves retreating from an ocean disaster. He was almost sure they
gathered again in his wake to point and whisper.

Maybe they just didn't like the way he smelled. He wasn't entirely
sure when he'd last showered.

The sun beat down hard on his head, and he was very, very hot
but he couldn't take off his jacket because then everyone would
know he had two arms again.

There was something wrong with that thought, but he couldn't
quite understand what. He was tired. He was out of ammunition
and he was tired.

The air was heavy with nascent blossoms. It was too hot. He
wanted to shoot the woman screaming like a fool across the
street from him. Didn't she know you *never* called attention to
yourself when there was a gunman around?

Alex grinned broadly. She was almost certainly already dying.

When her scream cut off with an even more undignified squawk
his eyebrow quirked, but he couldn't make himself turn around.
It was all right, though. He didn't have to.

The curious line of people in front of him resolved into several
men and women in riot gear. Suddenly, he couldn't hear anything
but the clicking of dozens of safeties.


He peered over his shoulder. Sure enough, he was surrounded.

"Drop the gun, Krycek!"

Mulder's voice. Mulder's unsteady gun. Mulder's foolish

Alex blew him a kiss, let his head fall back. The sun was huge,
nearly palpable. Not yellow enough, though. It looked... bleached.
It looked like he could just reach out and touch it....

"We won, Chris! Can you hear me? We *won*!"

"Goddamnit, Krycek, we just need to talk to you!"

And Alex smiled, salt stinging his mouth curiously. "No."

And when Alex raised the gun the air parted for it, a small,
meaningless cut, a wonder of a thing, invisible yet audible, a
whispering demon --

Escape. It was whispering of escape and when Alex opened his
eyes there was Mulder and the air was so tight it seemed they
should've been welded together.

And Mulder's hand wasn't shaking anymore.

The End.

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