After The Rain

by Frankie

Mulder/Krycek | Rated M | 2002 | 31, 700 words

 

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Mulder—

Have you ever killed someone? Or wanted to? I'm not talking about that "in the line of duty" bullshit. I'm talking about needing to snuff out someone's life so badly you can taste it.

I suppose if I cared about the fantasies of strangers, I could say that everyone has killed at one time or another. But I'm not talking about fantasies. I've had to take the lives of people, both those I know and those who are nameless figures.

I've struck like a viper and vanished before I've seen the life drain from their bodies. I've stayed 'til the end, watching in fascination as the glimmer of life, the struggle to stay alive, slowly fades. Those precious embers of life's fire burning out, agonizingly slow and steady. It's that last flicker of someone's soul that I relish the most. The one I want to see in your eyes the next time we meet.

Before the unfortunate loss of my arm, I would have chosen to strangle you. To feel your hot, pulsating skin under my hands, the life throbbing in your neck. The sparkling panic in your eyes when my touch turns into a death sentence, my fingers tightening, my hands crushing your windpipe. Your desperate struggle to survive as you claw at my grip, silently pleading with me to let you go. That final, perfect moment when your hold loosens and your hands fall away, your beautiful eyes roll back and your body stills. The ultimate act of possession; taking your very life, your soul and leaving you an empty shell. A mere body to be examined, buried, mourned over and eventually forgotten as it is reduced to nothing.

Why do I want you dead, you may ask? There are so many reasons, but they're not what you think. I don't hate you. In fact, I admire you in the same way I admire they way a fine piece of machinery works. Your inner workings intrigue me. Don't take that in some morbidly literal way. You, as an entity, fascinate me. When I become fascinated, obsession isn't usually far behind, and that leads to a need to possess.

To kill.

I could have you if I were only interested in you sexually. There wouldn't be enough protestations on your part to convince me that you wouldn't want that. In fact, I could make you want me even if it's the last thing you'd *ever* want. But I don't want your body in that way.

Well, not *just* that way.

More important than needing to possess you, I have to ensure that I am the only one who can control your destiny. What better way to do that than to decide when your last day on this earth will be?

You should thank me. I've decided to share the gift I have with you. I'm going to give you the ultimate release.

A bullet would be too quick; not enough time for you to feel your life slipping away. In order for you to appreciate what's happening to you, it has to be a slow, seductive act.

A knife would be beautiful. So sharp you don't feel the blade slicing open your throat, only the hot sticky caress of your blood as it pulses out of your body, anointing the both of us in your essence. I would watch your face, marking the moment you know you're dead, possibly loving you more as I see your life energy fading because I chose to take it from you.

In much the same way a man takes a certain something from a virgin lover while bestowing a once in a lifetime gift, I will take from you while giving you what I know you want. Your freedom. Freedom from the life you pretend to want. We both know better, don't we?

It's a beautiful thing to want to kill someone for the right reasons. It's a sacred bond no one can break. And after I give you the gift of my skill, I'll continue to perform my services when called upon by my generous employers. Returning to the mindless, unenthusiastic assignments will be less than stimulating, but it's a living, so to speak.

I think I've said enough. I want to leave you with the images I've shared and hope that the anticipation of my visit will be as rewarding as the real thing.

Keep yourself safe until I see you.

A.

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Mulder re-read the letter and looked at the envelope again. He knew full well there was nothing besides his name written on it, but the ridiculous notion that something enlightening would suddenly appear on it made him look anyway. Logically, he should inform the Bureau, get protection, put people on the lookout for Alex Krycek, but...

He looked up when he heard footsteps outside his door. His hand went to his gun as the doorknob started to turn and he dropped the letter on the coffee table. The door opened and Krycek walked in, smiling with such ease and familiarity, one would have thought he'd just come home from work.

"You're expecting me," Krycek's smile widened as he nodded nodding at the gun that was now pointed at him.

"Isn't that what you wanted?" Mulder asked, keeping the gun trained on Krycek as the assassin casually took a seat in a chair across from him.

"What do you mean?"

Mulder balked. "You really thought I'd read that letter and *not* be ready to blow your head off the instant you walked in here?"

"Letter? What letter?" Krycek frowned and put his feet up on the coffee table.

"Don't try to bullshit me," Mulder whispered, reaching for the letter without taking his eyes off Krycek. "This fucking death threat is what I'm talking about." He threw the paper at Krycek and watched as he read it.

"Oh," Krycek grinned, "that." He looked up at Mulder and shrugged. "I was high. I forgot I'd left it for you. Sorry."

Mulder's eyes widened. "You forgot?" he asked incredulously. "I've been reading the damn thing over and over again for a week and you fucking *forgot*?"

"That's what I said," Krycek said, narrowing his eyes. "Would you rather I meant the things I said?"

"You're a fucking psychotic," Mulder sneered, "and I have no doubt that you meant every word. This is a trick to catch me off guard."

Krycek rolled his eyes and reached into his jacket, freezing when Mulder cocked the gun and aimed it at his forehead. "I'm taking out my weapon," he said slowly, pulling out his gun and placing it on the table.

Mulder frowned as he watched him, not sure what to do when Krycek took a knife out of his other pocket, followed by a garrote, then reached down to take off a .22 he had strapped to his leg. "What...what are you doing?" he asked uncertainly.

"I'm making goulash. What the fuck does it look like I'm doing?" Krycek snapped, relaxing back in the chair then sitting up again so he could reach into his back pocket and pulling out a small vial.

"What's that?" Mulder nodded at the bottle.

"Coke," Krycek smiled. "Want some?"

"No, I want to know what you're up to."

"Mulder," Krycek sighed, "I told you. I was high when I wrote that letter. A brilliant letter considering my state, I might add."

"Maybe a little too brilliant," Mulder snorted.

Krycek raised an eyebrow. "Meaning?"

"You meant every word of it and now you're trying to backtrack. God alone knows why you suddenly don't want me to think you want me dead, but I'm not an idiot, Krycek. I have every reason in the world to believe you'd kill me."

"You do, hmm?"

"Yes, I do. Add to that the fact that you seemed to be enjoying yourself just a little too much."

"Enjoying myself."

Oh, come on!" Mulder said, obviously frustrated. "I can just picture the sick grin you had on your face when you were thinking up that shit."

Krycek smirked and stared at Mulder for a few moments. "You've put a lot of thought into this, haven't you?"

"It's what I do," Mulder said slowly as if talking to a small child, "and if threats on my life are part of the package, I *really put thought into someone's motives. Guess I'm just nutty that way."

"Mulder," Krycek purred, amused, "haven't you ever done anything stupid when you've been stoned?"

"Tipping cows is stupid," Mulder glared at him. "Running off to Reno and getting married is stupid. Writing letters detailing how you'd like to kill someone is not stupid. Besides," Mulder sniffed, "I think you were waxing a little too poetic for you to have been under the influence of anything. That wasn't drug-induced rambling, Krycek, that was a well thought out threat."

"You keep coming back to how coherent it was, Mulder. I can't help it if I'm a genius."

"Don't flatter yourself. It wasn't genius. It was you being the sick bastard you really are."

"It was?" Krycek shrugged. "If you say so." He picked up the letter again and laughed. "Oh, man, I forgot about the knife part. What the hell was I thinking?"

"That's what I'd like to know."

Krycek looked at him. "I really scared you, didn't I?"

"Yeah, you did," Mulder nodded his head, the gun not wavering at all. "And despite what you say, I think I had every right to be concerned. A normal person doesn't read shit like that and casually dismiss it. The person who wrote it shouldn't either."

"I told you, I didn't mean it."

"I think you did. I think you really do enjoy killing people."

"And I think we're going in circles again, Mulder," Krycek rolled his eyes. "Look, maybe I did mean it at the time, but you don't have to worry about it now." He gestured toward the weapons littering the table. "I'm not armed so you can put your gun away."

"You think I'm an idiot, don't you?" Mulder smirked and stood up. "Get up."

Krycek sighed and stood slowly, holding out his arms as Mulder frisked him. When Mulder's hand traveled up his leg and grazed his crotch, he cleared his throat, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "Thanks."

"For what?" Mulder frowned as he straightened up.

"That's the most action I've gotten in weeks." He wiggled the fingers on his right hand. "Not counting the homemade variety, of course."

Mulder blushed and muttered for Krycek to sit down. "What do you want?" he asked, lowering his gun but not putting it back into its holster. He wasn't completely ready to take that kind of chance.

"I have a proposition for you."

"What is it?" Mulder looked at him warily.

"You cut me some slack and I tell you everything I know. Names, dates, plans...everything."

"Define cutting you some slack," Mulder said dryly.

"Stop wanting to kick my ass or shoot me on sight. Stop thinking of me as the enemy." He sat forward, looking at Mulder intently. "I'm not the enemy, Mulder."

"I must not have gotten that memo," Mulder sneered. "As far as I'm concerned you and I will never be anything but enemies. Now, unless you have something of real value to say, I think you need to leave. You being here this long is making me uncomfortable."

Krycek laughed and shook his head. "Ahh, Mulder, I'm so glad that things will never change between us. Why do you want to keep playing games like this, though?"

"Now what the fuck are you talking about?"

"Did you believe everything in that letter?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Then you must have noticed the part about what else I want to do to you." Krycek sat back in the chair, seeming to melt into it. "Did you think about that at all?"

Mulder didn't say anything as he picked up the letter again. When he reached the part that Krycek was talking about, he blushed again, wondering how he could have forgotten that was in there. "Well, maybe I didn't believe everything," he said softly, carefully putting the piece of paper back on the table.

"How convenient for you, then," Krycek smirked.

"Meaning?"

"Meaning you always have an answer so you don't have to admit to anything. God forbid you actually admit that the idea of me taking you against your will turns you on."

"Hard to get turned on when you're disgusted," Mulder shrugged. "Sorry, but you're not my type."

"And what exactly *is* your type, Mulder?"

This time Mulder smirked and pointed at a stash of porn tapes next to his VCR. "Anything with breasts and legs that go on for days."

"Oh, right. You want people to think you're straight," Krycek laughed. "Come on, you can tell me the truth."

"Krycek, I don't know where this sudden need to be my buddy is coming from, but you're the last person I want to talk to about my sexual preferences."

"Is that an admission?"

"It's nothing." Mulder stood up. "Now, get out of my apartment before I shoot you."

Krycek rolled his eyes and got up with a sigh. "Can the Charles Bronson imitation, Mulder. I'm going. But I'll be back."

"Not unless you have something useful to say, you won't."

"I told you I'd be willing to tell you lots of useful things, but you have your principles, I suppose." Krycek shot him a grin and gathered his things. He started for the door, stopping just short of opening it. "I can't believe you'd give up learning everything I know just because you can't stand me."

"Shocked by my standards?" Mulder smiled.

"No, I just know what an information whore you are." Krycek shook his head. "Guess your feelings for me are stronger than I previously thought."

"Not as strong as yours apparently."

"I don't doubt that," Krycek turned around and smiled as he leaned against the front door. "There's a thin line between love and hate, isn't that right?"

"Krycek, stop. You're making me feel mushy," Mulder said, deadpan.

"I could make you feel a lot more than that."

Mulder sighed and raked his fingers through his hair. "If this sudden attraction you supposedly have for me is your newest mind fuck technique, don't bother."

Krycek looked at him for a few silent moments, his smile gradually fading. "It's not so sudden." He opened the door and left before Mulder could respond.

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Mulder—

Have you thought about my offer? I'm still willing to exchange information for a little regard. I am a human being, you know. I happen to admire who you are as a fellow human being, and getting a little respect from you — even if I have to buy it — means a lot to me. So, please think about it.

In other news, I suppose I should let you know that the case you're working on is only an exercise to see how much time you can waste investigating absolutely nothing. Don't worry, that one's free.

It was good seeing you again, Mulder. I wish we could meet more than we do. Do you ever think about the days when I was your partner? If I could do things all over again and things had turned out differently, I think you and I could have become friends. Good friends. In fact, I think that we might have become best friends. Or am I living in a dream world? Don't answer that.

But could you do me a favor? Could you write me back? Yes, I'm aware of how ridiculous that request is, but, if you think about it, write me. My P.O box is on the envelope. Don't think about staking out the post office. I have different people checking the box and giving my mail to some friends of mine to give to me. Close your mouth, Mulder. Yes, I have friends. Anyway, I won't expect anything, but I'll be hoping for something.

It had to mean something when you didn't kill me, right? You would have had every reason to, every opportunity, but you didn't do it. Tell my why.

A.

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Mulder looked at the letter as if expecting it to explode. The only explanation he could come up with for the tone of the letter was drugs. Krycek was obviously doing something besides coke and had decided to write another letter to him. Only instead of describing his murder in great detail, Krycek was trying to play with his head. For a second Mulder considered playing along to see what would happen, but he quickly rid himself of that notion. No, he'd write Krycek back and not take the bait. Nothing was ever going to change between them and Mulder knew it was his job to remind Krycek of his place in the scheme of things.

He turned on his computer and opened the word processing program, cracking his knuckles before he started typing.

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Krycek—

I have to thank you for your last letter. It's been a long time since I've had such a good laugh. Scully thanks you as well. Oh, and so does Skinner. The lab boys are hard at work testing the paper and the ink to see if there are any clues in it as to why you thought you could write me a piece of shit like that and expect me to believe it. Tell me, Krycek, when did Hell freeze over and pigs start flying? I really would like to have an exact date so I can mark it on my calendar. "Today is the day I give a shit about Alex Krycek." It should be a national holiday now that I think about it. What the hell? Let's make it international.

There...you have your letter. Happy? Too bad. Do me a favor and don't write me garbage like that again. I have more important things to do with my time than take part in your unimaginative games. It's too little, too late, and I can't be bothered anymore. Don't you have some lackey work to be doing? Get to it, you inconsequential walking ego. Subpar-dom awaits.

Mulder

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Mulder—

Subpar-dom? I think making up your own words is a sign of madness. So is trying to make me believe you'd show that letter to Skinner. I could care less about Scully, but Skinner... Trust me, I know that his eyes never saw that letter.

Okay, so you're on to me. Yes, I was trying to be cute, but I wasn't lying about the friendship and admiration thing. Your tenacity is very endearing and you remind me a lot of myself. If only...

Look, I'm starting to get...what did you call my games? Unimaginative? Right, I'm starting to get unimaginative again.

Thank you for writing.

Krycek.

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Krycek—

Just stop sending me these notes. They're getting annoying and boring. Don't contact me again unless you have some information for me.

And the correct phrase is "I *couldn't* care less about Scully."

Mulder

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Mulder yawned as he made his way to his car. It had been a long day of following useless leads and interviewing uncooperative witnesses and all he wanted to do was go home and drink a beer or three in front of the television. He hadn't heard anything from Krycek for a month and had counted his blessings that he wasn't being bombarded with more useless correspondence. The last thing he wanted was to be harassed by someone he didn't even like spending five minutes with, let alone write on a regular basis like some sort of deranged pen pal.

He yawned again and unlocked the driver's door, sinking into the seat and closing his eyes, grateful for the quiet.

"Hard day?"

The voice in the backseat startled him and he sat up with a jolt. "What the fuck are you doing here?" he shouted, pissed off with himself for not noticing that Krycek was in his car.

"You said you didn't want to see me again unless I had something useful to tell you. Well, I do."

Mulder turned around and looked at him. "What is it?"

"Can I come up front?"

Mulder nodded and waited for Krycek to get in the passenger seat, questioning his sanity for a moment. "Tell me then get out," he said after Krycek closed the door.

"Don't you want to know why I didn't write you back?"

"Not particularly, but I assumed it was because I finally got through to you." Mulder stifled a yawn. "Now, tell me and get out. I don't want to have to say it again."

"Okay," Krycek nodded. "The man you questioned today is a Syndicate plant. They're using him to monitor your activity on this case and to send you on the wrong path."

"How do I know you're not telling me this to do the very same thing?"

"Have I ever lied to you when I've given you information?"

"Yes," Mulder said flatly. "Try again."

Krycek clenched his jaw. "Fine, if selective memory makes you feel better, how about this? Have I lied when it really mattered?"

Mulder looked at him then took a deep breath. He let it out slowly and leaned his head back against the seat, his eyes closed. "Why do they care about this case? It has nothing to do with alien life forms or anything approaching extraterrestrials."

"You're right about that, but they have other concerns. You know that. The answers you're looking for *are* connected to that pharmaceutical company and they're trying to get you off the scent." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. "Talk to this man. He'll tell you everything you need to know to shut them down."

Mulder took the paper and glanced at the name and address. "The company has no connections to the government, Krycek. I checked."

"And people can't be possessed by aliens or be abducted and examined by members of their government posing as little green men."

"Grey," Mulder said softly and leaned his head back again.

"I don't know when you became so careless, Mulder, but if you don't get your head out of your ass, you're going to keep running into brick walls."

Mulder chuckled ruefully. "And that would be so different from the rest of my career, right?"

"That's such bullshit," Krycek said angrily. "You used to care about what you were doing and you found out more than I think you ever thought you would. Now you're acting as if you don't give a shit about any of it. I thought you were the one man I could count on to fight with me."

The strained desperation that suddenly colored Krycek's words made Mulder turn his head to look at him. "Fight with you? I don't think you're talking about our usual antagonism, are you?"

"No," Krycek said hoarsely, "I'm talking about you fighting alongside me to try and put a stop to all of this. I don't want them to win and I thought you felt the same way."

"I thought I did, but maybe we're not enough to stop anything from happening."

Krycek opened his mouth to say something, but decided against it. He shook his head and sighed. "You're tired. Believe what I told you about that witness or don't, but I wanted to tell you what I know."

"You can go now."

"Mulder..."

"What is it?"

"I don't want to kill you. I was stoned."

"We've established that."

"Okay. I just didn't want you to think I really wanted to kill you."

"And I said we've established that," Mulder said slowly.

"Sorry," Krycek said quickly and got out of the car. Mulder watched him walk away and disappear behind a dark van. He stopped himself from following him and looked again at the piece of paper in his hand. There was no doubt in his mind that the lead would pan out and he'd end up discovering everything he shouldn't.

Looking out the window, Mulder didn't see any sign of Krycek. He hadn't expected to. He hadn't expected a lot of things including the feeling he had that maybe working with Krycek wouldn't be such a bad thing.

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Mulder—

It's okay. I don't expect any more thanks for the information I gave you. I'm just glad to see that you took what I gave you and ran with it. I guess there's still hope.

I wonder if I can be completely honest with you. I can hear you saying, "I don't know, can you?" and the answer is yes. Yes, I am capable of honesty. I don't think you'll ever want to work with me the way I'd like you to, and I don't know if I'll have any real contact with you from now on. I'm tired, Mulder. I don't have time to keep my personal feelings separate from any kind of business arrangement, and I just want to lay all my cards on the table. Do what you will with what I'm about to tell you but I really don't expect you to respond.

Not everything I said in my first letter was untrue. The possessing thing still holds. Perhaps in my darkest fantasies I want to crush the life out of you or bleed you dry, but in reality... My reality at the moment consists of not getting caught helping you and eking out a living doing things I'd rather not be doing. It also consists of very intrusive thoughts of you. At the risk of this letter turning into a mash note, I'm going to tell you something that might be even more disturbing than describing, no matter how beautifully, the ways I'd like to kill you. I've turned it over in my head a million times, not sure the best way to do this. Unfortunately, the night I decided to share my frustration over just how much I need to have you, I happened to be in a particularly bitter frame of mind. I don't want to take your life even if it would be the only way for me to truly have you. Look, why don't I just say it. I promised myself I would.

I love you.

Wow, that was hard to write. I think because seeing it on paper finally validates what I considered to be mindless infatuation but is instead a sad, pathetic truth. No, I don't expect anything resembling reciprocation, nor do I think forcing you into sex would result in some kind of romantic epiphany. Maybe that's why I feel like I can let it all go. I've got nothing to lose. Now, you have to deal with that knowledge. I hope it keeps you up at night and disturbs you to the nth degree. It should, you know. The fact that someone like me could love someone like you should anger you. How dare I? What the hell is wrong with me? I can hear you saying those things to me now. But, you know what? I'm just smiling, Mulder.

In case you'd like to know when it started, you'd be surprised to know that it was the second week you and I had been working together. I'd been crying over some idiot who'd broken my heart (not a lie, really. I'd been seeing someone and he left me. Good thing for him, but it still hurt to be rejected. I've gotten over fear of rejection, by the way. I know you care about that) and you gruffly suggested that we get drunk together and forget about him. You were so good to me. It killed me that I still had a job to do, but I was young and idealistic then and thought that I was working for the greater good. You know, the noble sacrifice and all that. Whatever. I'm over that, too. But I digress... That night I saw a different side of you and that's when you started opening up to me. Do you remember? I think it's the first time you called me Alex. I still smile when I think about it. I thought at one point you were going to kiss me when we got back to my apartment. You had this quizzical look on your face as if seeing me for the first time and wondering what you were doing standing so close to me. Unfortunately, neither of us acted on it and you just said goodnight. What were you thinking? I've always wondered. I suppose I'll never know.

I guess the whole point of this missive is to say that, no, I don't want you dead. Far from it. But I do want you. You know how someone's true nature comes out when they're drunk and they say things that articulate all the hurt they're feeling? Well, that letter was a prime example of that. If I can't have you, I don't want anyone else to have you. There, nice and neat. In reality, I would never harm you. Not any more than I already have. I won't bother to apologize for my past actions because you wouldn't believe me anyway. That's fair.

Well, if you're still with me, I should say goodbye. Don't worry, if I *should have to see you again, I won't mention any of this. I love seeing you squirm, but it wouldn't be fun for me to see you uncomfortable in regards to this particular topic.

Take care.

A.

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Mulder closed his eyes, trying to keep his temper in check. He should have known better than to open the letter at work, but he was more than a little curious about why Krycek would be writing him again. He was also so angry at the things Krycek had told him that he could put his fist through a wall.

"Mulder?" Scully gave him a curious look. "Bad news?"

"No, just bullshit fanmail," Mulder clenched his jaw and crumpled up the paper. He tossed it at the wastepaper basket and watched it fall in with the other trash.

"Fanmail? And it gets this kind of reaction from you?"

"Depends who the fan is, doesn't it?"

"I suppose so. Well, whatever it is, you look as if you could kill the person who sent it."

"Funny you should say that, Scully," Mulder forced a smile. "I was thinking the very same thing."

Scully raised an eyebrow and looked at the trash. "And you're not going to let me read it?"

"I don't know," Mulder said, a little peeved at her interest though he knew it was coming. "I didn't think anal rape scenarios were your taste."

"What? Mulder, if you've been threatened, you need to tell someone." Before Mulder could stop her, she'd reached in and retrieved the letter, quickly skimming it. She looked up, confused. "This is from Krycek?"

Mulder cringed and sank down in his chair. Why the hell did he think throwing it out in front of Scully wouldn't have resulted in this? He could kick himself for being so fucking stupid. "Told you I could kill him," he mumbled, growing angrier at the embarrassment he was feeling as Scully continued looking at him.

"Mulder, this is... Why would he write this to you?"

"To fuck with my head, Scully. Why else?"

"But he doesn't threaten you." She looked at the letter, seeming to read it slower.

"No, I just said that to keep you from reading it. Look how well that worked."

"I'm sorry, Mulder," Scully sighed and crumpled up the paper again. "I was concerned, that's all. I didn't mean to intrude on whatever this may be."

Mulder sat up. "Intrude? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, he's obviously your informant and you two have a history together. Now he's adding a new element to it. I don't want to intrude on that."

"Scully, you've been sniffing airplane glue again, haven't you?" He frowned despite the smile she gave him. "Krycek and I have nothing. He gives me a few clues and I follow them. That's it. End of story." He pointed a finger at her. "And now that I think about it, I'm a little disappointed in your reaction to that letter."

"You are? Why?"

"You should be demanding to know where he is and launching a full scale search for him. You should be cursing his name and tearing your hair out. Not standing there telling me you don't want to 'intrude.' It's disturbing."

Scully folded her arms in front of her chest. "Actually, the scenario you just described is pretty disturbing, knowing me as you do. Tell me when I would ever pull my hair out."

"Tear."

"I'm sorry, *tear* my hair out." She sighed and sat down on the edge of the desk. "Mulder, he's helping you. I don't like the fact that he's walking around free, but the bottom line is he's giving you useful information. Declarations of love aside, there's nothing for me to go overboard about." She paused. "Okay, there's plenty for me to go overboard about, but what purpose would it serve other than to drive me crazy? The days of me giving a shit about that son of a bitch are over. One day he'll get what he deserves, but until that day comes, I can't live my life making his capture my sole purpose. There are too many other things going on, Mulder, too many things I've gone through." She smiled gently. "I can't explain my reaction any better than that, I'm afraid."

Mulder gave her a long look before getting up and slipping into his jacket. "I need some air."

"Where are you going?"

"I need to get some air," he repeated. "Alone."

Scully nodded and gave him a sad smile. "Don't forget the four o'clock meeting."

"I'll be there with bells on," Mulder grumbled and walked out of the office.

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Krycek—

What the hell did you think you'd accomplish with that little stunt? If you think I believe for one minute that you're in love with me, you're very mistaken. How can I be so sure? It's easy. People like you aren't capable of loving anyone or anything but themselves. Maybe you see me as a challenge, but that's as much as I can believe. Just to make it absolutely clear, I am straight and getting involved with any man, let alone you, is not something that would ever happen.

God, help me, I don't know why I'm even writing this, but, yes, I remember that night you mentioned. You had the vulnerable sap routine down, Krycek. You fooled me and I guess I should give you some credit for that. Lovelorn was a good look on you, and, for just a second, I felt as if I could trust you. That was my mistake and proof of what a good job you did. As for that little fantasy you had about me wanting to kiss you, you couldn't be more off the mark. You know what I was thinking? I was thinking that you didn't deserve to be that hurt. I was thinking that you weren't such a bad guy and if having a kiss or two in a bar made you feel better, then I was glad to do it. But there was nothing more than that.

Why am I even telling you this stuff? There has never been a more moot point. This whole thing defines moot. I don't want you, Krycek, and you don't want me. But even if things were normal between us, I still wouldn't want you because I don't go that way. Just give it up. It's not going to happen no matter how much you want it to. I won't let it.

Mulder

hr

Mulder—

It was so good hearing from you because I didn't expect anything and because you've actually given me some hope. I'll tell you why. First of all, you don't proofread your letters so I get to see what you're really thinking. Secondly, you're protesting just a little too much. Lastly, it may be my imagination, but I swear there's a hint of your cologne on this paper. Nice little extra when I'm jerking off.

Now, you may be confused about the things I've listed, so I'll be happy to clear things up for you. I've photocopied your letter and highlighted the parts in question. See where you say "having a kiss or two"? I'm pretty sure you meant to say drink, but what a convenient word for you to write instead. Yes, Mulder, I can see why you would want to reiterate the fact that you didn't want to kiss me. I'm grateful you cleared that up. Especially considering how you "don't go that way." My next point has to do with that last paragraph. You know, there really was no need for you to keep harping on and on about how much you don't want me. I'd say the lady doth protest too much, but you're no lady. Look at me, Mulder, you're making me make stupid jokes. The bottom line is I think you're trying to convince yourself you don't want anything to happen. I can't argue with that, considering everything.

Take care, Mulder. I'll keep my feelings to myself from now on.

A.

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Krycek—

Don't think you're an expert in the way the mind works because you took a few psych classes, okay? It was an honest slip and one I am very embarrassed to have made. The last thing I want to do is encourage you in any way because that would mean you're feeling good. Trust me, I don't want to think about you feeling good because you don't deserve it.

You set me up and knocked me down. Add to that everything else you've done to ruin my life and you'll understand why I can't feel warm and fuzzy about you.

Mulder

hr

Mulder opened the door to his apartment and stepped inside, grateful to be home. As much as he'd thrown himself into his work, his thoughts continued straying to the last two letters Krycek had sent him. What was bothering him even more was the stupid slip he'd made. Of all the things he could have written, he had to write the one thing that would give Krycek ammo. And he hadn't been protesting too much, he insisted to himself. He'd been trying to make a very clear point even more so, but had obviously failed. No matter. It had been three weeks since he'd heard anything and the gnawing anxiety was now just a dull, rather annoying tingle in the back of his head.

He moved through the darkness of his apartment to turn on a lamp, but stopped when he heard a slight creak come from his couch. His gun was in his hand in an instant, pointing in the direction of the sound.

"Don't move." Fumbling for the light, he turned it on, not entirely surprised to see Krycek lying on the couch, a pleased smirk on his face.

"I hope you weren't expecting someone else," Krycek said, pointing at the gun. "I thought you'd figure it was me."

"What are you doing here?"

"Don't you get tired of asking me that? Just accept the fact that I'm here, put the gun down, and have a seat."

Mulder narrowed his eyes. "What do you want?"

Krycek sighed and sat up slowly. "Mulder, when I come to you, don't I usually have information for you? Now, put the gun away and try to come to terms with the new me."

"The new you?" Mulder raised an eyebrow. "Why is there a new you? More importantly, why should I believe there's a new you?"

"Because I'm sick and tired of the shit, Mulder," Krycek snapped and flopped back down to stretch out on the couch. "I'm not here to kill you, I'm not entirely the enemy, and I'm even thinking of trying to get out, so stop the paranoid bullshit and sit the fuck down." He let out a quick breath and smiled amiably. "Please."

"Careful, this new you is scaring me, Krycek," Mulder said flatly. "What's going on? I thought you had planned on not making anymore contact with me."

"I changed my mind."

"Why?"

"I'm tired of fighting, Mulder. I'm going to try for a truce if it's the last thing I do."

The murmured words took a minute to sink in and Mulder finally put his gun down and took a seat in the chair next to the couch. He studied Krycek carefully, looking for any sign that he was putting on an act. There was no indication that was the case, but Mulder still didn't buy the sudden change. He knew Krycek too well.

"Don't you want to know what I have to tell you?" Krycek asked after a few minutes.

"Yeah, go ahead," Mulder said, distracted by the thoughts racing through his head as he tried to determine how best Krycek would take advantage of the false sense of security he was trying to establish. If Mulder let him. Which he wouldn't.

"You need to be more careful." Krycek sat up and grinned at Mulder, his demeanor turning from sullen to practically chipper. "There are a lot of people who would love to get their hands on this information."

"What is it?"

Krycek reached for the remote and turned on the television. "I took the liberty of checking your VCR to make sure the picture quality was up to par, so the tape's in there already."

Mulder shifted uneasily in his chair. "What tape?"

"You'll see." Krycek pressed play and sat back. "I tried to get your good side."

Mulder watched the television, squinting as he tried to make out the dark figures on the screen. Finally, the picture came into focus and Mulder's throat tightened when he recognized himself. Not just himself but the guy he'd picked up two nights earlier. It was dark, but it was also obvious exactly what was happening. Mulder got up and grabbed the remote from Krycek, turning off the tape as his recorded groans started getting louder.

"You're blackmailing me," he said hoarsely, his heart racing.

"I am?"

"Of course you are. It's what you'd do. You stalk me, catch me doing something that could destroy my career, then blackmail me into having sex with you."

Krycek laughed softly and shook his head. "You've got it all figured out. You don't need me."

"You think this is the way to come to any sort of truce with me? Just tell me what the fuck you want!" Mulder threw the remote at Krycek and sat down heavily. He cradled his head in his hands, completely clueless as to how to get out of the mess he'd made. "Just tell me," he whispered.

"I'm going to get drummed out of the union for this," Krycek sighed. "I'm not going to blackmail you, Mulder. I *should* because there's no telling what I could get out of you, but I'm not going to do it."

Mulder looked up. "You're not?" he asked incredulously. "Why not?"

"Careful, you almost sound disappointed that I'm not going to take advantage of your willingness to cooperate."

"I don't understand. Why are you showing me this if you're not going to use it against me?"

"Oh, I am going to use it against you but not in the way you think."

Mulder pursed his lips and sat back in the chair. "What are you going to do?"

Krycek smiled widely and started the tape again. "Look at you, Mulder. You're getting your cock sucked and it sounds like you're really enjoying it." He hit the fast forward button. "My favorite part is coming up, though, pardon the pun." He hit play and Mulder grimaced as the image of himself getting fucked flickered across the screen. "God," Krycek sighed and settled back on the couch, "you look so fucking hot."

"Turn it off," Mulder said softly, putting his head down.

"I don't think so," Krycek said. "I think you should watch this."

"I don't want to watch it," Mulder said through clenched teeth.

"Watch it or I send copies of it to your partner and your supervisor."

Mulder slowly raised his head and glared at Krycek. "I thought you weren't going to blackmail me."

"For Christ's sake, Mulder, I'm blackmailing you into watching a homemade fuck film. You should be lucky that's all I'm doing with this."

Without a word, Mulder turned his attention to the television, groaning when Krycek rewound the tape to show him the parts he'd missed.

"Is it just me, or are you really enjoying that?" Krycek smirked. "Those noises you're making sure don't sound like you're objecting, which leads me to believe you were a very willing participant."

"I thought you'd be happy that you have something to get off to," Mulder said, wishing he didn't sound so defeated.

"I am. Do you want to know the number of times I've jerked off to this?" He laughed. "Probably not, huh?" He took a deep breath, shaking his head at the screen. "Damn, Mulder, do you know how much you turn me on?"

Mulder looked at him, his breath catching in his throat when he saw Krycek rubbing himself through his jeans. "What are you doing?"

"Getting a hard on," Krycek smiled, his eyes still glued to the TV. "Never fails when I watch this." His hand continued moving, fingers playing over the obvious bulge in the denim.

His eyes transfixed, Mulder watched as Krycek began rubbing himself harder. It wasn't until Krycek started unbuttoning the jeans that he snapped out of it. "Wait a minute, you're not doing that here."

Krycek looked at him, his eyes wide. "I'm not? Why, are you going to do it?"

Mulder growled and got up quickly, noting the hopeful look in Krycek's eyes before going to the VCR and ejecting the tape. He threw it on the floor and slammed his foot down on it. "Get out."

"Come on, Mulder, I thought you'd be happy to have gotten over that block you had."

"What?"

"You were so straight, remember?" Krycek smiled. "I'm glad to see that you've opened yourself up to new things."

Mulder turned to face Krycek, his eyes narrowing at the obvious delight his unwelcome guest was getting from his predicament. "Despite what you might be wishing, this doesn't mean I'm going to fuck you," he whispered.

The smile vanished as Krycek's eyes darkened and he stood up, crossing to Mulder and giving the distinct impression that the old, familiar Krycek was about to make an appearance. "Maybe not, but it does mean you were full of shit."

Mulder's cock twitched against his will and he prayed Krycek wouldn't know just how turned on he was getting. "I was?" he asked, his voice cracking.

"Yeah," Krycek nodded, stepping close enough to touch his chest to Mulder's. "That was your biggest excuse, wasn't it?" he whispered. "You'd never be with me because I wasn't your type."

"Just because you have a dick—" Mulder gasped when Krycek pushed his hips forward, proving his point. "That doesn't mean you're my type."

"Is that so?" Krycek leaned in and brushed his lips against Mulder's neck. "I was under the impression you really like dick." He inhaled deeply and chuckled. "I really do love the way you smell."

Mulder closed his eyes, enjoying the warmth against his skin despite himself. It would be so easy to give in, to keep feeling good as Krycek started sucking gently on his neck. "Krycek..."

"Mmm?"

"I don't fuck scum."

Krycek raised his head and smiled. "And I assume you're referring to me as scum, right?"

Mulder was taken back by the hurt look on Krycek's face when he nodded. He had to force himself to remember exactly who it was he was dealing with and chalked it up to more manipulation on Krycek's part. "You'd better go."

"Sure," Krycek shrugged and stepped back. "I'm going."

"If you..." Mulder licked his lips as he tried to think of the best way to get out of this without losing more face. "Contact me if you have any information."

"Right." Krycek walked toward the door without giving Mulder a second look.

Mulder watched him walk out, wondering if he'd ever see him again.

hr

"Mulder, the meeting's in five minutes."

"I know, Scully." Mulder was staring at the same blank piece of paper he'd been looking at for the past half hour. He hadn't thought it would be so difficult to write a letter telling Krycek that maybe he shouldn't bother being his informant any longer.

"Mulder..."

"I heard you," Mulder snapped, flashing her an annoyed look.

Scully raised an eyebrow. "I'll be in Skinner's office," she said softly and turned to go.

"Scully, wait," Mulder sighed and waited for her to turn back around. "I'm sorry. I'm...I haven't been feeling all that great lately."

"That's obvious," she said curtly. "You've been biting my head off all week, everyone's talking about what an asshole you're being — I think that's pretty telling considering they didn't have that high an opinion of you to begin with — and you haven't been able to do anything but sit at your desk and stare into space."

"It's..." He sighed. "I'm having some trouble with my personal life."

She crossed her arms in front of her chest, her lips pursed as she narrowed her eyes at her partner. "Must be more than just trouble, Mulder."

"No, that's pretty much the best way to describe it. I-" He shrugged and crumpled up the piece of paper. "I'm sorry I've been such a jackass lately."

Her face softened and she lowered her arms. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"We have a meeting," Mulder grinned weakly.

"Then after the meeting, okay?"

"Yeah, okay."

hr

Scully wrinkled her nose as she watched her partner take a large bite of his bacon cheeseburger. "Mulder if you keep eating that stuff, you're going to have a massive coronary."

"I work out," Mulder said, his mouth full. "It's fine."

"Well, it won't be fine when you drop dead during your morning run," Scully smiled and started eating her salad.

"It's nice to know you care," he winked and took another bite.

"You know I care about you, Mulder." She put down her fork. "That's why I want to know what's going on. Why you haven't been yourself lately."

"I thought you said people were saying I'm an asshole. How is that not being myself?"

"You know what I mean." She lowered her voice. "What's going on? I thought you knew you could talk to me."

Mulder swallowed and put down his burger. "I can't talk to you about everything."

"Why not?"

"Because it's...complicated."

"Is it your love life?" she smirked.

"Maybe."

"Wow. Okay." She nodded. "Then let's talk."

He hesitated, knowing he could never tell her the reason he'd been so unbearable was because he was torn between being completely disgusted with the idea of Krycek being in love with him, and being strangely flattered. If he could indulge himself a little, he would even go so far as to say that he was wrestling with the fact that maybe he wanted to be with someone he shouldn't be with instead of telling that person to stay the hell away from him. "There's someone who's fascinated with me and I don't know what to do about it."

"Fascinated? As in they think you're an interesting human specimen?"

"Sort of," Mulder grinned, "and you don't have to sound so shocked."

Scully smiled warmly and took a sip of her water. "Well, whoever it is, she's obviously not mentally stable."

"Thanks, Scully," Mulder smiled, "but I think that goes without saying."

"I'm kidding. Go on."

"Anyway, this...she's told me how she feels about me and I don't know what to do."

"What has she said?" She leaned forward. "And who is it? Do I know her?"

"Yeah, you do," Mulder said wryly. "Look, Scully, I think I should level with you." He took a deep breath. "It's—"

"It's that woman in accounting, isn't it?"

Mulder frowned, trying to think of the woman Scully had in mind. Then he remembered a cute blonde in the accounting department who'd sent him some racy photos of herself. He'd had fun laughing over them with Scully then taking them home with him where they were stashed away in his nightstand.

"I'm right, aren't I?" Scully grinned and sat back. "Did she send you more pictures with her declaration of fascination?"

Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, Mulder shook his head. "I maybe be downplaying the fascination thing," he admitted. "This person told me they love me."

"Hmm," Scully said thoughtfully, "you know what this means, don't you?"

"What?"

"If you guys want a June wedding, you'd better make quick with the invitations." Scully giggled at the way Mulder frowned at her then started on her salad again. "I'm sorry, Mulder," she said, still trying not to laugh. "I shouldn't make fun of the fact that she's in love with you."

"I'm glad you think this is so funny, but I'm not interested in her." He smiled at the skeptical look on Scully's face. "Okay, maybe I am, but what do I do if I don't want to be with her because she's...I can't be sure she's what she's claiming to be?"

"Mulder, I've worked out with her. If you're worried that she's not really a woman, there's no need. She is, however, not a real blonde."

"I'm not talking about that, Scully," Mulder grinned, wondering what Scully would think if she knew that gender was not going to be an issue.

"What is it, then?"

"You have to promise me that you won't tell her any of this."

"Don't worry, Mulder, we're not exactly friends," Scully said sourly.

"You don't like her?"

"She's never given me a reason to," Scully shrugged. "And she's a bit of an idiot."

Mulder grinned and took a sip of his soda. "You're jealous."

"I assure you I am not jealous," Scully sniffed and looked down at her plate. "I just don't think she's deserving of all the attention she gets."

"I see," Mulder nodded. "Well, we can discuss your self-esteem later. I really need you to give me an opinion on this."

"I didn't think you'd need my opinion about that woman. If you're not interested, then don't reciprocate."

Mulder sighed and nodded again. "The thing is, I might be interested."

"Then tell her yes," Scully said impatiently. "You don't need my permission."

The problem, Mulder realized, was that he was trying to substitute some bimbo Scully found annoying for a man Scully hated. If she was having this kind of reaction to the woman, he could only imagine what she'd say if he told her he was actually thinking of being with Krycek.

"Really, Mulder," she continued, "you're the one who has to live with whatever decision you make. I'm just disappointed that someone you hardly know can be affecting your behavior in this way."

"No, you're right," Mulder said slowly. "I'll try to... I'll be careful about how I act now. You're right. I have to live with it."

"What are you going to do?"

Mulder took a deep breath and looked at her for a few moments. "I'm going to put an end to things."

Scully grinned and picked up her fork. "I know I shouldn't take this much delight in that, but I can't wait to see the fall out."

Mulder tsked. "It's the evil of schadenfreude, Scully."

"Yeah, I know. It's a good thing."

Mulder laughed, genuinely feeling better now that he'd made a final decision. All that was left to do was write the letter.

hr

Krycek—

After some thought, I've decided that it would be best if you no longer made any contact with me. This doesn't have so much to do with what happened the last time I saw you as I have come to the conclusion that you will never stop harassing me unless I call a halt to all of this. I know that you most likely have another copy of that videotape, so all I can do is ask that you not share what you found out with anyone. If you really feel the way you say you do, I'd think you'd be able to do me that one favor.

There's nothing left to say, I guess, so I'll finish this by pointing out that you set yourself up for any disappointment you may be feeling. Did you really think I'd even consider being with you?

Mulder

hr

Mulder—

Fine. You want nothing to do with me. That's fine. Really. But I want you to tell me one thing. What happened with that guy? Besides the obvious. I've been stalking you for years and I never saw you do anything that reckless. A public park, Mulder? What the fuck were you thinking? Whatever it was, I want to know. Then I'll send you the original tape and any copies I've made. I'd also like you to tell me if you noticed who he looked like. I'll spare you the games and just answer that myself. He looked like *me*, Mulder. Why the fuck can't you take what I'm offering instead of test-driving cheap imitations? Tell me everything I want to know and I'll leave you alone.

Krycek.

hr

Alex,

Jesus, you don't ask for much, do you? Before I spill my guts, let me take you back to a day in 1994 when you and I were stuck in the depths of the Hoover listening to tape on that Wyoming kidnapping case. Do you remember? I was amazed that we'd been given the assignment because it involved morons talking about things other than their dicks and lapdances. You listened to the suspect rattling off about the boring day he was having then looked at me and said, "If he took that little girl, I'm going to personally cut off his balls and serve them to him on a bed of lettuce." The look on your face was so serious, and the way you said it was so matter of fact, I couldn't help but see you differently. It was such a bad case; I remember how upset you were when they found the girl's body under his house. All of us were affected by it, but you... I had no doubt that if you ever saw that sicko in person, you would have made good on your threat.

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with what's happening now, but indulge me. The look on your face when you said that was so... real isn't strong enough a word, but that's all I can think of. It was *real*. You weren't just some hesitant rookie trying to act like a tough guy. You were feeling something and showing exactly what you were feeling. I thought about that after I found out what you really are, and I can't get myself to believe it was all an act. I really believe I saw a piece of the real you that day. I'll never know why or if that's even true, but I'd like to think that the emotions were real, if only for that one day. Anyway, all of this is to say that the night you came to my apartment and I said I didn't fuck scum... You looked so hurt. At first I thought it was just an act to throw me off guard, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it reminded me of something else. Then it hit me. You weren't hiding anything. You couldn't hide what my words had made you feel. That's when I knew you weren't bullshitting me about all this love stuff. It probably wouldn't make sense to anyone but me, but I thought you'd want to know that I believe you. Having said that, I think you can figure out why I don't want to see you again.

Now...

That guy was... I don't know. I was in a bar and he started talking to me. Nothing special, just asking me what I thought about the playoffs, typical guy shit. Then he asked me if I wanted to go somewhere a little more private. (I asked him later why he thought he could pick me up, and he said I was giving off a very obvious vibe. What the hell does that mean??) Believe it or not, I thought he just wanted to talk some more, so I said, sure, it was too loud and crowded, etc. Then he smiled and I felt it in my gut. Do you know how many good-looking guys I've seen in my lifetime? How come they never made me feel like that? For the first time in my life I was attracted to another guy. Can it happen just like that? Were there signs all along and I just ignored them? God, you think I'd have some idea why one smile changed my fucking life and I ended screwing in the park like some horny teenager. Whatever it may have been, I can't explain it. And, yes, I did notice that he looked a little like you, but that *wasn't* why I let him blow me...and fuck me... Technical question. My ass hurt like a motherfucker, but it felt really good at the same time. Does it keep hurting the more you fuck, or do you get used to it? Not that I'm thinking of running out and picking up some stranger and fucking him in a public restroom or anything. I figure you've probably been fucked by everything with a dick and could shed some light on the subject for me.

There, I guess that's what you wanted to know. Send me the tapes.

Mulder

hr

Mulder—

You call that an explanation? I want to know *why* you wanted to have sex with him. Oh, you discovered you were attracted to men...is that it? I don't think so. Tell me.

And there's no way I'm going to leave you alone now that you've admitted you believe me. It'll just be a matter of time before you can level with me.

Alex

P.S. Let me fuck you and I'll make sure it doesn't hurt.

P.P.S. I'm usually online Thursday nights. My handle is sxy_mthr_fckr. Chat with me.

hr

[fully_armed has requested a chat with sxy_mthr_fckr]

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You liked my profile, huh? What are you into?

[fully_armed] I like handcuffs.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Nice. What else?

[fully_armed] Interrogation scenes.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Ah, into role-playing, huh? I can go for that. So, who do you want to be?

[fully_armed] An FBI agent. You?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder...

[fully_armed] Who or what is Mulder?

[fully_armed] You still there?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yeah. So, you're the agent chasing the... You name it, I'll be it.

[fully_armed] Um...how about a cold-blooded killer? Maybe a serial killer. I could be tracking you across the country and when I find you, I have to cuff you and interrogate you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Come on, Mulder. You can do better than that.

[fully_armed] Who the hell is Mulder? Look, if you have someone else you'd rather be talking to, I can leave.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, I'm sorry. Okay, so I'm a killer. That I can do.

[fully_armed] I've got you cuffed and in a chair. I'm looking down on you and I can tell you're really scared.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yeah. I don't know what you're going to do to me. Your dick is at eye-level and I keep looking at it.

[fully_armed] I notice that. You want something, boy?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I really want to suck your cock. Maybe if I get you off, you'll let me go.

[fully_armed] I know what you're thinking. I unzip my pants and take out my cock.

[trustno1 has requested a chat with sxy_mthr_fckr]

[sxy_mthr_fckr] gotta go, man. something better just came up.

hr

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder...I didn't think you'd... Hi.

[trustno1] Hello

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You showed. Wow.

[trustno1] I did.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You're a damn good-looking man.

[trustno1] I am.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] The dingo didn't eat your baby. I did.

[trustno1] You are insane, Krycek.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Sorry...just trying to get more than two syllables out of you. It worked. That was six.

[trustno1] Well, I don't know what you want me to say. I'm here. Now what?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] How've you been?

[trustno1] Fine.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] How's Scully?

[trustno1] She's fine, too.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Skinner?

[trustno1] Krycek, would it be easier if I said that everyone who ever worked for the FBI is doing just fine, thanks for asking?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm sorry. This is harder than I thought it would be.

[trustno1] I should go then.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, don't. Please. Stay.

[trustno1] I take it there was a reason you told me when you're usually online. Is there something you have to tell me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What made you have sex with that guy?

[trustno1] I said tell, not ask.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I want to know why you had sex with that guy.

[trustno1] I was horny.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You're always horny. One of my fondest memories is of sharing hotel rooms with you and you thinking I'm asleep while you jerk off in the bed next to mine. I popped many a boner listening to you.

[trustno1] Charming.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I know. Now, continue. You were horny and...

[trustno1] I was horny and liked the way he kissed.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] When did he kiss you?

[trustno1] We decided to take his car to some place quieter. When I got in, he leaned over and kissed me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What did you do?

[trustno1] I told him I was flattered but that I wasn't gay.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What did he say?

[trustno1] He laughed, said, "Sure," and kissed me again.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] He forced you into it, then.

[trustno1] No, by that time I was kissing him back.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] But he initially forced you into it.

[trustno1] If by forced you mean slipped me some tongue and grabbed my balls, then maybe he did. But I wasn't complaining.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You weren't scared?

[trustno1] Yeah. I was so terrified, I grabbed his dick and sucked his face for ten minutes before we made it out of the parking lot.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I sense sarcasm.

[trustno1] You are a very sensitive man.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] There it is again.

[trustno1] You're on a roll.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What happened after that?

[trustno1] We couldn't wait and I suggested that we get out of the car.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] The park was your idea?

[trustno1] Yes.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Wow...

[trustno1] What?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I think I'm starting to like the idea of you being so impulsive. Turns me on.

[trustno1] I've gathered that pretty much everything about me turns you on.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Does that turn you on?

[trustno1] Not really, no.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] So, what happened then?

[trustno1] You know all of this. You filmed us and I'm pretty sure you had to have followed us out of that bar.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Damn. Busted.

[trustno1] You used to be better at this kind of stuff.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What stuff?

[trustno1] Getting answers.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It's not for lack of trying in this case.

[trustno1] I'm not stupid. If you knew we were in the park, you had to have followed us. You know what we did, you've seen it. Is that all you wanted me to tell you?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Fine. Yeah, I know everything that happened. I also know you went back to his apartment. What did you do there?

[trustno1] You can figure it out.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Are you still seeing him?

[trustno1] I thought you'd know the answer to that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I haven't been tailing you lately.

[trustno1] Aww, how come?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Sarcasm?

[trustno1] Bingo

[trustno1] Why haven't you been tailing me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You almost sound disappointed.

[trustno1] Nah, just curious.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm out of town.

[trustno1] Doing...

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Things that will most likely get me killed and out of your hair forever.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder?

[trustno1] Sorry. I went to get a beer. Where are you?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] In the continental U.S.

[trustno1] West coast or East coast?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Neither.

[trustno1] What letter does the state start with?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder, I'm not going to tell you where I am, so drop it. Suffice it to say, I have my hands full but I wanted to take a break and talk to you.

[trustno1] Why didn't you call me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't know. Maybe because this type of setting allows for more freedom. Maybe I can say things in a chat that I couldn't say over the phone. It's not easy for me to hear your voice in my ear when you're being cold and sarcastic. Words on a monitor are much easier to deal with.

[trustno1] Wow, Krycek, you're sounding a little sensitive.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Well, you did say I was a sensitive man.

[trustno1] Guess I did.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] So...

[trustno1] ?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It really only hurts the first few times.

[trustno1] What does?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] In your letter, you asked if it kept hurting the more you had sex. It doesn't.

[trustno1] Oh. Thanks.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Are you still seeing him?

[trustno1] You already asked me that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You never answered me. Are you?

[trustno1] Is it any of your business?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes.

[trustno1] How so?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I have to come up with the best way to kill him and make it look like an accident. These things don't plan themselves, you know.

[trustno1] You're kidding. I hope.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I am. But I want to kill him. I won't, but I really, really want to.

[trustno1] Why?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't have to tell you that.

[trustno1] I think I have a right to know.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, I meant because you already know the answer.

[trustno1] Oh...right.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Are you still seeing him?

[trustno1] What if I were? What would you say?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It doesn't matter.

[trustno1] Sure, it does. Tell me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'd wish you both the best and ask for an invitation to the commitment ceremony.

[trustno1] LOL

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why are you laughing?

[trustno1] Why do you have to take everything to the extreme?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why do you?

[trustno1] It's who I am. I like to think of it as being precocious and charming.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It's not.

[trustno1] The answer is no.

[trustno1] I'm not seeing him anymore.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Good.

[trustno1] Good?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes. I didn't want to think about you being with him.

[trustno1] He was pretty hot, though.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Who gives a fuck? You're mine.

[trustno1] Okay... Would you like me to give you the long or short version of why those last two words should never be typed by you again?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't care what you say. You're mine.

[trustno1] You really need to stop doing that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I can take you whenever I want, Mulder. The only reason I haven't done that is because I'd like for you to cooperate and enjoy yourself.

[trustno1] Don't hold your breath, lex.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Lex? A new pet name?

[trustno1] Typo.

[trustno1] Let's get something clear. I don't know why you're suddenly living in this fantasy world, but the reality of you and me ever getting together is.... there's no reality, Krycek. That will never happen.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You don't mean that.

[trustno1] Yes, I do.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Then why are you here?

[trustno1] You said you had something to tell me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, I didn't. I only told you when I'm online and gave you my screen name. You took it upon yourself to find me and start chatting.

[trustno1] Then I misunderstood.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Of course you did.

[trustno1] Sarcasm.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It's catching.

[trustno1] Fuck you, Alex.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'd like you to.

[trustno1] That's gonna happen, so deal with it.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yeah??? Great!!!

[trustno1] Shit! Typo.

[trustno1] That's *never* gonna happen.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] LOL Why can't you just admit you want me? You want me to drag you into the park and fuck you like Scott did. Just say it.

[trustno1] How do you know his name?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I was in the bar. You know that. I heard you talking to him.

[trustno1] He didn't tell me his name until we were in the car.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Then I heard you when he was fucking you.

[trustno1] Which is it? Bar or park?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Park.

[trustno1] I never said his name when he was fucking me. Wanna try again?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] How can you remember something like that?

[trustno1] Besides the fact that I have video proof of that? I don't do much else but pray obscenely when I have sex. You know, "Fuck...god...jesus...that's fucking good...."

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm getting a hard on.

[trustno1] Not my problem. How'd you know?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why is it important?

[trustno1] Did you set me up? Did you hire him to seduce me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Frankly, there wasn't a whole lot of need for seduction, Fox.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] But, no, I didn't set you up. I just happened to run into him the next night and went home with him.

[trustno1] Happened to...

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Coincidences are funny, don't you think? He's a fucking great lay, but you already know that.

[trustno1] Do I want to know why you did that?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yeah, I think you do. You know why I did it and I bet that you secretly love the idea I wanted to fuck the man who'd been with you. Not only is it an ego boost for you, but it shows that I want you so badly, I'll fuck some stranger if it's the closest I can get to you.

[trustno1] I'm sure you fuck a lot of strangers.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Guilty as charged.

[trustno1] But I don't love the idea.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You don't?

[trustno1] No.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why not?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder, why not?

[trustno1] It makes me think you're pathetic and I don't like thinking that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Careful, it almost sounds like you give a damn about me.

[trustno1] Don't flatter yourself.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Too late. I choose to flatter myself by thinking that maybe you do care about me a little.

[trustno1] I never said I cared.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Then I'm taking poetic license. Let me, Mulder.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Besides, if you really didn't think anything of me, you wouldn't care that I fucked Scott.

[trustno1] Maybe I don't like the idea that he fucked you, did you think about that?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No need to think about that since it's not true.

[trustno1] Fine. I don't like it because it shows what a psycho you are. I don't want some societal reject fucking my leftovers. It's creepy.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You make it sound like I broke into your apartment and started doing kinky things in your refrigerator.

[trustno1] You're not funny.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I thought I was. My mistake.

[trustno1] Are you going to keep doing it?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What? Molesting your day old kung pao chicken? Nah...

[trustno1] I'm serious, Alex. I don't want you telling me you followed me again and ended up screwing whoever I was just with.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Well, we could settle this if you'd just let me screw you. You know how I feel, and I don't think it's entirely one-sided.

[trustno1] Excuse me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm not saying your feelings are as deep as mine, but it's so obvious you want me, Mulder. Why fight it?

[trustno1] You need to leave me alone, Alex.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I am leaving you alone.

[trustno1] I mean, forever. Just disappear from my life. You're usually so good at it, I don't know why you can't do it now.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Usually?

[trustno1] You just disappeared when we were partners. When I found you again, you took off again. It's a pattern. You're in my life and then you're gone. You keep doing it. I want you gone for good. I can't

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What? You can't what?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Just tell me what you were going to say, Mulder.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I won't make any jokes, I promise. Please, tell me what you were going to say.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder? Say something.

[trustno1] You hurt me so much, Alex.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I know, Mulder. I can't say I'm sorry because that won't begin to cover it.

[trustno1] Say it anyway.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm sorry, Mulder. I'm sorry I had anything to do with Scully's abduction. I'm sorry her sister and your father were killed. I'm sorry that the men I work for have done so much to hurt you. I wish I could say more.

[trustno1] Are you sorry for leaving me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes. More than you know.

[trustno1] Why did you have to tell me you love me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Because it's true. I've had a lot of time to think about it and I can't deny it anymore. I know I'm asking for the impossible, but I figured it was worth a shot.

[trustno1] I have to go.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Don't. Please...

[trustno1] I can't do this. Do whatever you want with that tape.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Fox... Please...

[trustno1] I don't want you to call me that again. I let it go the first time, but... Just don't.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder, stay. We can talk this out.

[trustno1] Don't contact me again. This was a mistake.

[trustno1 has left the chat]

hr

Mulder—

I've been thinking about our chat. You've got some fucking nerve, you know that? You get me to tell you what you want to hear and then you drop me? What the hell was that about? You couldn't even stay to talk. Fine. I've decided that the only way for you to finally admit to yourself that you want me is to describe, in great detail, the things I want to do to that hot body of yours. I went ahead and made a list which I shall now transcribe. Be warned that I have been drinking, thus, the grammar and general appearance of this letter may leave a lot to be desired.

Ahem.

Step One: The Warm Up

I would start with a kiss. Not very imaginative, I know, but all good things start out simply and build from there. I must confess that I've been fascinated with your mouth from the moment I set eyes on you. Not when I was posing as a rookie agent in the bullpen that day, but the first time I saw your picture and you were labeled as my target. Jesus, Mulder, that mouth was made for sucking cock. But that comes later. To start off, I would kiss that delicious mouth, lick and nibble on your bottom lip before sliding my tongue inside. I bet you taste like coffee and sunflower seeds. I can't wait to find out.

Step Two: Getting Warmer

So, while I'm kissing you, my hand's on your crotch, feeling your dick as it steadily hardens. You're so into it already and we've hardly begun. I'd rub you through your pants until you're arching into my touch, whimpering because you want to feel my skin on yours. But not yet. I'd move my hand then pull you to me, grinding against you so you can feel how hard I am and how much I want you. When you're close to begging, I'd push you down on the couch and lie on top of you, slowly humping you and laughing because you're rubbing against me so desperately, I'm sure you'll come in your pants. Self-control is so overrated.

Step Three: Heading South

I'd unbutton your shirt as I continue kissing you, then when it's completely undone, I'd begin kissing my way down your chest. I bet you like having your nipples played with, so I'd suck and bite them, teasing you. Is that a gasp I hear? I thought so. Once I've decided that you won't be able to take any more without shooting your load, I continue kissing my way down, licking a long, slow line down your stomach. Of course, by this time you've got your fingers in my hair and you're trying to force my head to your crotch. Patience, Mulder.

Step Four: To Be Continued...

Sorry, Mulder, I have to go. Something's come up and I've got to get a handle on it before it gets out of control. I'm sure you can fill in the rest, but, if not, let me know and I'll be glad to give an in-home demonstration. Take care. Sweet dreams.

A.

P.S. Now, isn't this nicer than not wanting me in your life?

hr

Mulder crumpled up the piece of paper and threw it across the room. Muttering under his breath, and making a concerted effort to ignore the erection straining against his jogging shorts, he turned on the television. As he watched the banal images of half-naked coeds bouncing around to the latest top 40 fare, he made sure he was *not* listening for footsteps in the hallway outside his door. He also made sure he wasn't hoping the aforementioned footsteps, if they happened, would result in another letter or an actual visit.

The phone ringing startled him and he cursed as he got up to answer it.

"How did you like it?"

Mulder frowned at the way his heart started racing at the sound of Krycek's voice. "What do you want, Krycek? I told you not to contact me anymore."

"I want to know if you liked my letter."

"Not really."

"Hmm, and here I thought I was being charming enough for you to want something to do with me."

"I don't have time for this."

Krycek laughed bitterly. "I'd imagine not. Not with that hard-on you've got going. I should let you go."

"Wait a minute," Mulder said, gripping the phone tighter. "You can see me? Are you back in town?"

"No, Mulder, I can't, but thanks for confirming my hunch."

"Fuck you," Mulder snarled and slammed the phone down. Without thinking, he ripped the cord out of the wall and sat down heavily on the couch. His hand immediately moved to the waistband of his shorts and he slid it inside, gripping his cock firmly. The quick, brutal strokes weren't so much an exercise in pleasure as they were punishment for the fact that he had let himself get turned on by Krycek's stupid letter. The strangled cry that threatened to escape his lips as he quickly came was swallowed and replaced by a breathless grunt. There was no way in hell he'd ever let himself say Krycek's name in the throes of orgasm.

"Stupid little shit," he growled breathlessly as he stood up. He looked around, unsure if Krycek had planted a bug somewhere in the apartment. "If you can hear me, just leave me the fuck alone!"

hr

Krycek—

Stop harassing me. I don't want any more letters or phone calls. Just leave me alone.

Mulder

hr

Fox,

Sorry I took so long to get back to you. My last job turned out to be more trouble than expected and I was laid up for a while. But I have a new scar to add to the collection, so maybe it's not so bad. They're sort of like souvenirs, you know? I can remember where and when I got each one, who did it, and how long it took me to recover. My whole life is mapped out on my body. Maybe you'll get to test your map reading skills one day.

Oh, I almost forgot. That little note you sent me about leaving you alone? No can do. A little bird at the FBI told me that you've been checking to make sure you're getting all your mail. It's almost as if you were expecting something and it wasn't there. Strange behavior for a man who keeps telling me to stop writing. Face it, Mulder, you don't want me to stop. You'd miss me too much if I were out of your life completely. I like that. I know I'd be miserable if I never got to see or hear from you ever again.

And just to prove that I'm a good guy, worthy of still being in your life, I've given you that videotape. It's in a locker at the bus station. That's what the key I've enclosed is for. You'll also find a little extra in there. I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed making it. Don't worry. It's not a sign I've lost my mind so much as it's an homage to you. Let me know what you think.

I suppose that's all for now. Take care of yourself, Mulder.

A.

hr

Dear Alex,

I'm not so sure that you haven't lost your mind. But, you know what? I'm going to admit something to you because I'm feeling good and I thought I should share. I'm flattered. How much did you have to pay that guy? I suppose there are worse things a hustler has to do than put on a suit and pretend to be me, though. And where did you get your clothes? I don't remember you ever looking that good when we worked together. Maybe if you had, we really would have fucked like that at work. I can't believe I just wrote that. Well, it's true, and the liquor's helping. I'm having tequila because it reminds me of the time you and I had lunch at that Mexican restaurant and got hammered on margaritas. The rest of the day sure was interesting, remember? I do. I remember lots of things. A lot of it makes me sad, but I'm so happy right now. And horny. Shit, Krycek. It's all your fault.

Why the hell should I bother denying I'm attracted to you? You're a sexy guy, and I used to really, really like you. A lot. I bet you never knew that. Want to know what else? I didn't really start wanting you until we were in Tunguska. I didn't like you too much, but, fuck, when we were holed up together, I couldn't stop thinking about what it would be like to get you naked and then see where things went from there. Remember that morning you woke up and thought I was still asleep and you realized you'd had a wet dream? That was me! You were so wiped out the night before you didn't even move when I started touching you. I couldn't see a damn thing, but you felt really good. You were bigger than I thought you'd be. Seeing you in the locker room all those times never really did anything for me, but that night...just holding your dick in my hand and jerking you off. Fantastic. I told myself at the time that I was doing it as a joke, just to mess with you, but it was more than that. Part of me was hoping you'd wake up, figure out what was happening and then show me what I'd been missing that whole time. I'd fight you, but I'd secretly like it. You know that about me, don't you? You know the things I'm thinking and you'd better stop! Just kidding. Guess what I'm thinking right now? It starts with the letter 'I want you to' and ends with 'suck my dick.'

Alex... Alex Alex Alex — You know when I started liking you again as well as wanting you? The night you cornered me in my apartment to tell me about the coming invasion. You were helping me, Alex. I knew you'd start helping me again. Then you kissed me. I replayed that meeting in my mind for weeks afterwards. I thought you'd come back, but I didn't see you for what seems like forever. And now you're back.

Fuck, Alex. I don't think I'm happy anymore. Why? Because I can't just sit around waiting for you to leave again. That's why I can't give you what you want. I don't know if you've noticed this about me, but I tend to focus intensely on things I really want, and if you and I were ever together, it would drive me crazy if you took off and I didn't see you until god knows when. It hurts when someone you could love takes off on you.

By the way, the first letter you sent me really scared me, but I couldn't tell anybody what you'd said to me. I didn't want to share it with anyone. Is that sick? Is it sick that the idea you wanted me so much you'd kill me to have me kind of turned me on? Everything you've said to me has turned me on. Writing this letter I'm thinking about your obsession with me and getting hard. I think we should fuck. In the meantime, I'm going to mail this and then watch the tape again. You don't think I'll send it, right? Hah!

I just wrote down your address and licked a stamp and put in on the envelope. It's upside down. That's okay. I don't like the sticker stamps, you know. I like licking things. I think I'd like licking you. Like a stamp. Okay, I have to go so I can put this in the envelope.

How come you're never online anymore? I can't find you. I'd really like to talk to you right now.

Mulder

hr

Mulder held his head, groaning as he slowly sat up. He couldn't remember how much he'd had to drink, but if the pounding in his brain was any indication, it had been more than enough. He licked his lips and grimaced at the cotton in his mouth. God, the last time he'd gotten this drunk, he'd ended up sleeping with that blonde in accounting. He cringed at the memory and thanked his lucky stars that Scully had never found out about that little incident.

He blinked himself fully awake and smiled. Well, at least the worst he'd done this time was fall asleep on the couch after watching that ridiculous videotape Krycek had sent him. The ridiculous tape that he hadn't stopped watching since he'd put it in the VCR.

Getting up to go to the bathroom, he took a detour in the kitchen to start some coffee. That's when he noticed that his front door was unlocked. Frowning, he went to lock it again. Usually he locked it when he came in, but maybe it was just...

"Oh, shit..." he muttered. "Fuck..." He turned around and slowly walked to his desk. Sure enough, strewn across the top of the desk were blank envelopes and a book of stamps. Next to them was a legal pad that had had pages crudely torn out of it. "No, please, no..." he whispered as he got down on his knees and started searching for a letter that he knew was tucked safely away in the mailbox in front of his building.

hr

"Mulder, I—" Scully stopped when Mulder jumped. "I'm sorry. I thought you heard me coming in."

"No, it's okay, Scully. I'm just a little jumpy." Mulder tried to calm himself down. Ever since he'd sent that letter, he'd been expecting the world to end, or to at least have Krycek show up on his doorstep with a copy of the letter in his hand. For the life of him, Mulder couldn't remember what he'd written, but he was sure it wasn't good. The one thing he could recall was telling Krycek he liked the video, and he doubted that was the worst of it.

"Mulder? Did you hear me?"

Mulder looked at her. "I'm sorry? I missed that."

"I asked if you sent in the file requests for the Kramer case."

"Oh..." He looked at her guiltily. "I'm sorry, I really meant to..."

"Mulder," she sighed, "I told you I'd do it but you insisted on doing it yourself." She gave him a concerned look then sat down. "Does this have anything to do with that woman?"

Mulder narrowed his eyes, thinking. "What woman?"

"The blonde?" Scully said, exasperated.

"No," Mulder said quickly. "Not at all. This is a whole new problem."

"What is it?"

"I did something I shouldn't have and I'm waiting for the fallout."

Scully frowned and let out a slow breath. "Is there anything I can do? Do you need to tell me what it is?"

Mulder stared at her for a few minutes, chewing on his bottom lip. She'd kill him if she had any idea what his problem was, there was no doubt in his mind. No, he thought, she'd kill Krycek first and *then* she'd kill him. "It's nothing I can't handle, Scully," he finally said. "Thanks, though."

"Not to sound critical, but you're not handling it. That's the problem." She smiled gently. "I'd like to help you if you'd let me."

"Scully..." Mulder sighed. "I'm starving. I'll go get us some lunch."

"Okay," Scully nodded, and Mulder knew she'd drop it for now.

"I'll go to Larry's. Do you want the caesar?" he asked, standing up and putting on his jacket.

"Yeah, thanks." She got up as well. "I'll go put in the request."

Mulder smiled, grateful that she'd backed off, but also touched that she would be there for him if he was ever ready to tell her what was going on. "Thanks, Scully."

She gave him a small smile and walked out of the office.

hr

The rest of the day had gone without incident. Mulder had taken the food back to the office and they'd eaten in companionable silence except for when they discussed the latest leads for the case they were working on. Mulder was doing his best to stay focused, wary of doing anything else that would make Scully approach the subject of his love life again. As they walked to the parking garage, he thought he'd made it when she stopped him as they approached their cars.

"Do you want me to come over tonight?"

"That's okay, Scully, I'll be fine." He smiled at the skeptical look on her face. "Really. If I need anything, I'll call you."

"You'd better," she said sternly, then returned the smile. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Okay." Mulder waited for her to get in her car before letting out the breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. Now he could fall apart again without getting busted for it.

He opened the door and sunk into the driver's seat, never more relieved to be alone, when he noticed a white envelope on the dashboard. Sitting up quickly, his heart racing, he turned around to look in the backseat. Swallowing the flicker of disappointment he felt, he turned back around and picked up the envelope, slowly, as if expecting a snake to slither out the second he touched it. When nothing happened, not that he thought it really would, he opened it and slid out a piece of paper. He immediately recognized Krycek's handwriting:

I'll be online.

Mulder stared at the piece of paper, angry with himself for feeling so relieved that he'd be able to explain himself. As soon as he found out from Krycek what exactly needed to be explained.

hr

[trustno1 has requested a chat with sxy_mthr_fckr]

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Hi, Fox... I'm glad you showed.

[trustno1] Hi. No problem.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I got your letter.

[trustno1] I figured.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I have to say it wasn't what I expected from you.

[trustno1] I was afraid you'd say that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] So, what do we do now? Do you want to talk about it?

[trustno1] Um...that's the problem. I really don't remember what I told you. I have this horrible feeling that I really embarrassed myself and now you're going to give me all sorts of shit for it.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why are you here if that's what you think I'll do?

[trustno1] I'm a glutton for punishment?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, really. How come?

[trustno1] I wanted to explain myself.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What's there to explain? You made yourself pretty clear.

[trustno1] Alex, I know that I mentioned the videotape, but I don't know what else I said. I don't even know why I'm asking you this, but was it really bad?

[trustno1] Alex?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Sorry. Someone was messaging me.

[trustno1] That's okay.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Well, I have the letter in front of me now. And, to tell you the truth, I've seen worse.

[trustno1] How much worse?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Fox, you don't have anything to worry about.

[trustno1] I don't?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Nope. After you critiqued the video, you started babbling about some of our old cases and how you would have handled things if you'd known then what you know now. Not to criticize your letter-writing skills, but it was pretty dry, especially considering how drunk you must have been.

[trustno1] Sorry...what else did I say?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Oh, you started going on about your latest case with Scully. Like I said, it was funny, but not all that interesting. I'm glad you liked the video, though.

[trustno1] Yeah, it was... I still can't believe you did that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm surprised you didn't throw it away after the first time you watched it.

[trustno1] I was going to, but...

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You were flattered?

[trustno1] Did I actually put that in the letter?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yeah, you did. Were you really?

[trustno1] Jesus, Alex. How could I not be?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Very easily, actually. But I'm glad you were. That was my intent.

[trustno1] Thanks, I guess. It's still strange, but I think I can understand your motives.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What would those be?

[trustno1] The most obvious one is you wanted to show me exactly what you feel for me, what you'd want to do if given the chance.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] How does that make you feel?

[trustno1] I don't know.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Sure you do.

[trustno1] Seriously, if I wasn't so confused about the whole thing, I'd be able to tell you. I like the fact that we're chatting like this, and that makes me wonder if I've lost it completely.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why?

[trustno1] Because I shouldn't be feeling so comfortable with you. I shouldn't be letting myself forget everything that's happened just because you've confessed something that proves you're not who everyone thinks you are. Is my ego that big? I can just erase our past because you've got a crush on me? Am I that desperate to know that someone cares about me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] First of all, it's not a crush. Secondly, I don't think it's a bad thing to be able to re-evaluate a person. And, I don't think you're desperate. I wish you knew how worthy you are of being loved, Fox.

[trustno1] I wish I knew what to say.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You don't have to say anything. Why don't you tell me how your day went?

[trustno1] I've been so worried about that letter, I've been driving Scully crazy.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yeah? I like that!

[trustno1] Alex...

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Sorry. Go on.

[trustno1] We're still working on that case, and it's like we keep hitting a brick wall. I wish... Hey, do you have any information that could get us going in the right direction?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't know. What case is it?

[trustno1] The one I told you about in the letter.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, I can't help with it. Sorry.

[trustno1] Well, do you mind if I pick your brain? Maybe getting an outside opinion will help me see what I'm missing.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You want my opinion?

[trustno1] Yes, if you don't mind. How much do you know? What did I tell you?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'll have to see if I can find it.

[trustno1] What?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] The letter.

[trustno1] You just said you had it in front of you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I did?

[trustno1] Yeah, scroll up.

[trustno1] Alex?

[trustno1] Hello?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Sorry, the phone rang.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Can you believe that telemarketers call people this late? They're so fucking persistent, too. I usually just hang up on them, but I have been seriously thinking about switching my long distance service.

[trustno1] What aren't you telling me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] That's pretty much it, really. They offered to switch me for free, too. I'll have to think about it.

[trustno1] Dammit, Alex. Cut the shit.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm sorry?

[trustno1] Why did you lie about what I wrote?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I didn't.

[trustno1] Then what did I say about the case Scully and I are working on?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You were pretty much just rambling, Mulder. Hard to make heads or tails of it, really.

[trustno1] Oh, is that all? No problem. Just send me a copy and I'll decipher it for you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It's not a big deal.

[trustno1] It's a big deal to me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why?

[trustno1] Because I don't believe you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm not lying to you.

[trustno1] Fine, you're not lying to me. Can I see a copy of the letter now, please?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] How do you expect me to do that?

[trustno1] Don't you have a scanner? Just make a copy and email it to me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't have a scanner.

[trustno1] Funny, you've scanned information and sent it to me before.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I was using a different computer then.

[trustno1] Then can you type in what I said about the case?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No.

[trustno1] Why not?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder, why can't you just drop this?

[trustno1] Because I want to know what I said and why you won't tell me. Was I hurling insults and you're pissed off about them so you're making it sound like I was just sending off a friendly note? Are you just protecting yourself?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Fine. If you want a copy, you'll get one. Give me a few minutes.

[trustno1] Thank you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Okay, sent.

[trustno1] I'm checking. BRB

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Fox?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder, it's been fifteen minutes. Please say something.

[trustno1] I have to go.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No! Don't go. Please... It's okay.

[trustno1] No it's not

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes, it is! You were drunk, Mulder. It's okay. You were just drunk. It doesn't mean anything. It's okay.

[trustno1] Why didn't you tell me what I'd said? I can't believe...

[trustno1] God, I'm so fucking ... mortified doesn't begin to cover it. You must think I'm a fucking joke. Guess I made your day with that, huh?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't think you're a joke. I said it was okay. I know you were really drunk.

[trustno1] Alex...why did you lie about what I'd written?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I didn't see any need for you to know if you'd forgotten. I didn't think you'd be happy knowing you'd told me those things.

[trustno1] To say the least. God... why don't I remember writing any of that?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It doesn't matter. I didn't want you to know.

[trustno1] Why not? That's exactly the kind of thing you've been wanting me to tell you, isn't it?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes, it is, but I know that you wouldn't have wanted me to know those things. I didn't want you to be embarrassed.

[trustno1] You... you were protecting me? Why would you do that?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You already know the reason, Mulder. I know you don't believe me, but what I told you is true. I wanted to protect you because I know you weren't really ready to tell me any of those things. And, to be selfish, I didn't want to get any kind of admission from you if you couldn't even remember making it. If you're going to tell me you want me, I'd like it if you were aware you were doing it. Call me crazy.

[trustno1] You're crazy.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Thanks. Look, if you want to go, you can. I just want you to know that I didn't laugh at what you told me. I didn't feel like I'd won anything. I didn't wonder what that letter could get me. I just read it and put it away.

[trustno1] I guess I should thank you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Don't hurt yourself.

[trustno1] I'm serious, Alex. You could have thrown everything back in my face and you didn't. I guess you really do...feel the way you say you do.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] And I think you feel something you can't admit when you're sober.

[trustno1] Ouch.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Sorry, just stating my opinion.

[trustno1] Fair enough, I suppose.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm curious, though. Was that letter just drunken rambling or did you mean it?

[trustno1] Maybe a bit of both.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] That took you a while to type.

[trustno1] I had to think about it for a minute. It's not easy for me to admit that maybe I want something I shouldn't.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] That's okay. It's really a lot more than I could have hoped for.

[trustno1] Don't get too excited. All I've done is admit that I'm not averse to the idea of fucking you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I know. I didn't think anything else.

[trustno1] You're a real piece of work.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What did I do now?

[trustno1] All this time I thought I had you figured out, then you go and pull something like this on me. Maybe it's just the power of suggestion.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Suggestion? What are you saying?

[trustno1] Well, it's not like you've made it easy for me not to think about fucking you. I'm a man and I like sex. You throw yourself at me, promise me all sorts of things, and now I'm responding to it.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You make it sound like I'm being an asshole.

[trustno1] No, I don't think that at all. I'm just saying that it was inevitable that I'd get horny when I think about you. You've conditioned me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I have? What about what you felt for me before I even told you anything?

[trustno1] Can I ask you something?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Of course.

[trustno1] What are you wearing?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Ha ha. So *you're* going to be an asshole about it.

[trustno1] I'm wearing some grey sweats and a white T-shirt. I took a shower before signing on so my hair's still a little damp.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You're not funny. Answer my question.

[trustno1] I've taken off my shirt. For the record, you're right. I do like it when my nipples are played with. I never knew it until Scott did it, but I really know it now. I like it when they're bitten just a little.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why are you doing this?

[trustno1] It's just sex, Alex. I told you I wouldn't mind having sex with you. Isn't that what you wanted?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Fuck you, Mulder.

[trustno1] That's the general idea... Now, get your dick out.

[sxy_mthr_fckr has left the chat]

hr

Alex,

I tried sending you messages and inviting you into chat rooms, but you didn't respond. At first I thought that maybe you had been booted, but you stayed online for a really long time and didn't answer me. What's going on? I thought that was what you wanted. Wasn't I doing the things you wanted from me? I guess I don't know what you want me to do, Alex.

Well, I know what I want you to do. Meet me for my birthday. Be here at 9 pm. I'm giving you enough notice so I expect you to show. Once and for all, I'm going to settle this with you.

Mulder

hr

Mulder's head was bent down as he unlocked his front door. He was having a little trouble getting the key to cooperate because he'd had an impromptu birthday celebration after work. It had been a blast getting drunk with a few friends, but he'd have to go back for his car in the morning. He remembered to send Scully a silent prayer of thanks for calling him a cab. She hadn't mentioned anything about his seemingly incessant drinking, and for that he was also grateful. He didn't know how he'd tell her he was mustering up some courage for the meeting he expected.

Giving a small cry of triumph when the door opened, he stumbled inside and slammed it shut behind him. The light in the living room went on and Mulder squinted at the figure on the couch.

"You're here."

"You're drunk," Krycek observed, an amused smirk on his face.

"You are a master of deduction," Mulder said, attempting to tap the side of his nose and giving up after the third try.

"I see you started the celebration without me." Krycek stood and slowly approached Mulder. "Happy birthday." His voice was gentle and his smile genuine as he handed Mulder a small box.

"Thanks," Mulder smiled uneasily, taking the present from Krycek. "What is it?"

"Open it and find out."

Mulder couldn't stop himself from grinning stupidly as he ripped the colorful paper off the box. He hesitated before opening it. "It's not a severed finger, is it?"

Krycek laughed and shook his head. "Maybe next year."

Mulder removed the lid and stared at the pendant inside. He frowned and looked at Krycek. "Why'd you get me jewelry?"

The smile on Krycek's face fell away and he reached for the box. "Forget it. It's stupid."

"No, wait." Mulder snatched it back and took out the small gold object. "Let me look at it." He held it up to the light, turning it around and narrowing his eyes as he inspected it. "It's a hand," he said flatly.

"It's God's hand," Krycek said softly, staring uncomfortably at the floor.

"Won't he be mad that you took it?" Mulder giggled.

Krycek raised his head and glared at Mulder. "It's meant to protect you from any evil that may try to harm you, if you believe in that bullshit." He took it out of Mulder's hand. "But you don't give a shit, so forget it."

"Come on, Alex, you can't blame me for being a little surprised."

"Of course not," Krycek shrugged and put the small medal back in the box. "It's just that I thought when you told me to meet you for your birthday it was because you..." He shook his head and stuffed the box in his pocket. "I was under the wrong impression, that's all."

Mulder sobered a little and grabbed the front of Krycek's jacket. Before Krycek could react, Mulder had pulled him forward and kissed him sloppily on the mouth. He let him go and smiled widely.

"What was that for?" Krycek asked, slowly wiping his mouth.

"Now we've both been surprised tonight," Mulder grinned. "Can I have my present back?"

Krycek narrowed his eyes, then started laughing. "God, Mulder, you don't make anything easy, do you?" He reached into his pocket and pulled out the present, giving it to Mulder once again.

"Thank you," Mulder nodded and took it out to take another look at it. "It's really nice." He bit his lip and looked at Krycek. "I don't have a chain, though."

"You want to wear it?" Krycek asked, his eyes wide.

"Why not?" Mulder shrugged. "I like it, it'll protect me, and it's from you." The words were out of his mouth for a second before he started stammering, trying to take them back. "What I mean is I can look at it and believe the truly unbelievable."

"Sure," Krycek sighed, and reached into his jeans pocket. "And just in case you didn't have a gold chain, I bought you one." He held out his hand. "Here."

Mulder looked at the chain hanging from Krycek's fingers and swallowed hard. He really hadn't expected Krycek to show tonight, let alone come bearing gifts, and he didn't know quite how to deal with it. The thoughtfulness wasn't the only thing giving him pause. It was how important it seemed to Krycek that Mulder like what he was being given.

"Don't you like it?" Krycek looked at him expectantly.

"It's...it's beautiful," Mulder whispered. "Thanks."

"Here, let me put it on," Krycek smiled and reached around Mulder's neck. He cursed softly and shook his head, handing the chain to Mulder. "I can't. Sometimes, I forget I can't..." He looked at his left hand and shrugged. "You'll have to do it."

Mulder smiled at Krycek and put the medal on the chain before carefully fastening it around his neck. "How does it look?"

"Looks good," Krycek said approvingly, and then stepped back. "I should go."

"Why?"

Krycek raised an eyebrow. "I didn't think you'd want me to stay."

"Sit down," Mulder gestured toward the couch. "I'll get us some drinks."

"Haven't you had enough?" Krycek asked warily.

"Nope. It's my birthday and I think you need to do whatever I ask."

"That should be interesting," Krycek smiled and crossed over to the couch.

Mulder went into the kitchen and got a bottle of scotch out of the cupboard. He wasn't quite sure why he'd asked Krycek to stay, but it seemed like the nice thing to do. Pausing as he reached for some glasses, he wondered when being nice to Krycek suddenly became a good idea. No matter, he thought to himself. He'd make the best of the evening and maybe figure out exactly why he was still thinking about the kiss he'd given Krycek.

As he walked back into the living room, he thought about the last chat he and Krycek had had and the abrupt way it had ended. He set his load down on the coffee table. "I hope scotch is okay."

"Anything's good," Krycek smiled and poured for the both of them as Mulder took a seat next to him.

"I really like the present," Mulder said as he picked up a glass. "It was nice of you to think of me."

"Well, you did ask me to come tonight. I couldn't show up empty-handed."

"I'm surprised you even showed up, actually," Mulder said tossing back his drink and pouring another.

"I don't think you are." Krycek took a sip of his drink. "You know how I feel. Why wouldn't I have come?"

"Because I thought you were pissed at me."

"First of all, why would you care if I were, and secondly, why would you think I was?"

Mulder shrugged and took a large swallow, closing his eyes as he felt a little lightheaded.

"Are you okay?" Krycek asked, moving closer to Mulder and putting a hand on his arm.

"Yeah, I'm...the booze is catching up with me," Mulder opened his eyes and smiled weakly.

"I can go, Mulder. You should get to bed."

"No," Mulder shook his head, "you're not going anywhere until you tell me why you got mad at me when I wanted to have cyber sex with you."

Krycek sighed and sat back against the couch. "Mulder... I wasn't mad at you, I just didn't think you... It wasn't what I wanted."

"Why not? I thought it's what you've wanted from the start."

"I told you I love you and the only think you think I want from you is sex." Krycek stood up. "You know, I don't think this was a good idea."

"I can't believe you're turning into a woman," Mulder laughed and shook his head as he leaned it back against the couch. "What a sap."

"I'm not a sap," Krycek said evenly. "I...I'm not what you think I am and it upsets me. There, I've admitted it. Are you happy?"

"Not at all," Mulder closed his eyes, suddenly exhausted. "I'm not happy at all."

"Why not?"

"I can't tell you what you want to hear. I can't understand why after all these years you've turned into some romantic fool. It's disconcerting."

"Oh, so sorry to have fucked up your perfect little black and white world, Mulder."

"Sit down," Mulder sighed, his eyes still closed. He waited until he felt Krycek's weight next to him before continuing. "I want you to tell me why you can suddenly tell me what you feel for me. Why now? What changed?"

Krycek put his hand on Mulder's knee and squeezed it gently. "I had a brush with death. Is that what you want to hear?"

Mulder smiled. "You've had those before."

"Tue, but this one was... I was in the hospital for six months, Mulder. That's why you didn't hear from me for so long. The doctors had to bring me back to life three times before upgrading me to critical."

Mulder opened his eyes and looked at Krycek, genuinely concerned. "What happened? Where were you?"

"Where doesn't matter, but I was stabbed, shot, beaten and left for dead. I would have died if I'd been found even ten minutes later." Krycek's hand crept up Mulder's leg to grasp his hand. "When I was in the hospital, I started thinking about you and made a vow that if I lived, I would tell you how I felt about you. I was lucky enough to walk out of there and I kept my word to myself. All I can control are my actions. Whatever you want to do is up to you." He took a sip of his drink and continued.

"I hope you can understand how hard this has been for me, and if you'd prefer I never told you the truth, I can live with that. I won't be happy, but I'll have no choice but to live with it. Anyway, now you know the truth and can do whatever you want. I'm tired, Mulder." He sighed. "Mulder?"

The only reply was a soft snore. Krycek smiled to himself and leaned over to kiss Mulder's cheek. He stood up and went into Mulder's bedroom, took the comforter off the bed and went back into the living room to cover him.

"Goodnight, Mulder," he whispered, leaning down to give Mulder a soft kiss on the mouth before leaving.

hr

Alex,

Thanks for the present. I woke up a little fuzzy-headed, but I remember everything that happened. I'm sorry for falling asleep like that. I really did want to talk to you, but maybe it's better that we didn't do that when I was under the influence. Who knows what would have been said or done? I think I can imagine what would have been done, actually, and I thank you for not taking advantage of the situation.

Scully commented on the chain and pendant. She likes them. I didn't tell her who it was from, though. I said I'd decided to treat myself. It'll make everything easier if she doesn't know. I know I don't have to tell you that, but I felt the need to tell you. Maybe it helps to tell myself, too.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that it was good to see you. Okay, that seemed a little strange to write. We should get together to finish that talk, though.

Mulder

hr

Mulder-

I'm glad you like the present even when you're sober. I'm kidding, by the way. I'm going to be in town the 15th of next month. If you want to have that talk, meet me in the park where you took Scott. I'll be there at ten to midnight.

Alex

hr

Mulder looked at his watch as he rushed through the park to meet Krycek. He'd fallen asleep when he'd gotten home and hadn't set an alarm to wake him in time to get there. When he saw Krycek standing in the shadows, he surprised himself by breathing a sigh of relief.

Krycek turned when he heard Mulder run up to him and smiled. "I didn't think you were coming."

"I'm sorry," Mulder said breathlessly, "I fell asleep. I'm glad you're still here."

"Me too," Krycek said, looking suddenly shy. "How've you been?"

"Good," Mulder nodded and looked around as if searching for something else to say. "I'm good," he repeated. "You?"

"The same." Krycek cleared his throat and moved awkwardly towards Mulder. "I'm really glad to see you," he said, clumsily taking Mulder's arm and leaning in for a kiss.

Mulder pulled back abruptly. "What are you doing?"

"I'm...I thought we'd..." Krycek shrugged, obviously embarrassed. "I seem to be assuming a lot of things."

Mulder sighed and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Alex, but I'm not going to just act like you're my main squeeze because we've come to a new understanding. It's still too soon."

"An understanding?"

"Yeah, this..." Mulder waved his hand between them. "Whatever this is where we're friendly with each other and I don't feel like shooting you on sight anymore. This sudden love you say you have for me, and the fact that I might be attracted to you-"

"Might be? I thought it was pretty clear that you are."

"Well, maybe it's more than might," Mulder grinned. "But it's still strange, so you'll have to excuse me if I'm not willing to play kissie face with you."

Krycek's face hardened and he looked away. "You've made your point."

Mulder bit his lip, feeling guilty for obviously upsetting Krycek, but still unable to let himself comfort him in any way. "Look," he said, breaking the silence, "I'm wearing the pendant."

"Great," Krycek said, glancing at him. "So, should we have that talk before I have to go?"

"When do you have to go?"

"I can go whenever I want."

Mulder frowned. "So why did you say you before you'll have to go?"

A frustrated sigh escaped Krycek's throat and he looked at Mulder. "I already can't think about anything but kissing you, and I know it'll only get worse the longer I stand here talking to you. So, we'd better get this little talk over with before I need to leave because I can't be here without getting anything from you."

Mulder looked at him for a few moments, stunned at the honesty. "Alex, I'm sorry," he finally whispered. "I don't know-"

"Mulder, you've told me everything you don't know and don't understand, and, frankly, it's getting old. Can we move on, please?"

"Why don't we sit down?" Mulder said, pointing at a nearby bench. "We'll be more comfortable."

"Speak for yourself," Krycek mumbled as he took a seat and waited for Mulder to sit down next to him. "Okay, talk."

"What do you want me to say?"

"I want you to be honest with me. I've been upfront with you and I think I deserve the same."

Mulder snorted. "I suppose that letter wasn't upfront enough for you, huh?"

"Unlike you, I don't take letters written under the influence all that seriously," Krycek said with a sardonic grin.

"Touché," Mulder nodded. "Does that mean you won't believe it unless I say it to you now?"

"Say what to me now?"

"How I feel, what I want to happen." Mulder looked down at his hands. "If that's what you're expecting, I don't think I can do it."

"I guess there's nothing else to talk about then." Krycek stood up. "Sorry for wasting your time."

"Wait, that's it? Just because I don't drop on one knee and admit my undying love, you're leaving?"

"What did you expect?" Krycek sighed and shook his head. "I'm not interested in making small talk with you, Mulder."

"What about wanting us to work together? We can talk about that."

"I can contact you if there's anything I need you to know," Krycek said shortly. "I need to go."

Mulder impulsively reached for Krycek's hand when he started to walk away. "You can't expect me to do a complete one-eighty, Alex. Isn't the fact that I'm being so civil to you enough proof that I don't hate you?"

Krycek looked at him incredulously and snatched his hand away. "And that's supposed to be enough to satisfy me? You choose to bestow your tolerance on me and I'm supposed to jump for joy?" He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. "Mulder, I'm sick of being grateful for whatever crumbs you throw me. I can't do it anymore. I'm sorry I told you anything, and I should have expected you to be an asshole about the whole thing."

"I don't think that's fair," Mulder said quietly.

"You know, I don't really care what you think. I've gotta go."

Mulder watched Krycek walk away, close to calling after him, but letting him go. He wasn't ready to tell Krycek what he wanted to hear so there was really no use.

hr

[trustno1 has requested a chat with sxy_mthr_fckr]

[trustno1] Thanks for accepting this time.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I figure it'll finally get you off my back.

[trustno1] Okay, so I guess you're still mad at me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm not mad, Mulder. I'm sick of you're shit.

[trustno1] Sounds like you're mad.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Do you really care?

[trustno1] Believe it or not, I do.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You'll have to forgive me if I don't believe it.

[trustno1] Alex, what can I say to make it up to you?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Excuse me?

[trustno1] I want to know what I can say.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What's wrong with you?

[trustno1] Why?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Because this isn't like you. Why are you groveling?

[trustno1] I'm not groveling. I'm trying to mend some fences here.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] And that's what's so not like you. I'm a little disturbed. Are you drinking or are you simply out of your mind?

[trustno1] I can't win with you, can I?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Meaning?

[trustno1] If I keep acting in a way you don't like, you're tired of it. If I make an attempt to change and take something back, I'm out of my mind.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] What are you taking back?

[trustno1] I've had time to think.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] And...

[trustno1] I can't tell you that I love you. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] That's fair.

[trustno1] You're not angry?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder, the fact that you're making this attempt is really more than I thought would happen, so I'm not going to start rocking the boat.

[trustno1] Oh, now you say that. What do you think your tantrum was?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It was hardly a tantrum.

[trustno1] But it sure wasn't you standing back and being understanding about my situation.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] And what situation would that be?

[trustno1] Don't act dumb now.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, I want you to tell me exactly what you consider this situation to be. Is it the fact that a lowlife like me has the nerve to have feelings for you? Someone you wouldn't be caught dead with has dared to expect you to stop dicking him around and come clean? I'm sorry, Mulder. I guess it was temporary insanity on my part to think that your feelings for me would ever change. I guess that letter you sent me was the result of being drunk and horny and not an admission of your feelings. That's fine, Mulder.

[trustno1] Is that it?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't want anything from you so you can go on secure in the knowledge that you're a better man than I am because you can stand by your convictions. No need for you to sink to my level and want to be involved with scum like me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] That's it.

[trustno1] So I can respond now?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You can do whatever you want.

[trustno1] The situation I was referring to was wanting to get involved with someone who puts my job and my life at risk. It has nothing to do with you being a lowlife or scum or whatever you think I consider you to be. You may not regard what I do as important, but it's all I have right now, and I won't let anything threaten that. It doesn't mean I don't want to do it. I just can't.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Funny how you weren't all that thrilled about doing your job all those months ago.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] And you know damn well that I know how important your job is.

[trustno1] I was having a bad day when you and I were talking. I'm more dedicated to it now.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Look, I don't want any excuses. I don't understand why you care that I know you want me. We'd come to that understanding a while ago. If you can't tell me anything new, there's no need for me to be here.

[trustno1] You don't even want to try, do you?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Try what? To listen to you tell me that I'm too risky for you to get involved with?

[trustno1] Well, you are. You have to admit that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Fine. You have a point. I don't like it, but you're right.

[trustno1] So, can you cut me some slack? At least I've admitted that if circumstances were different, I'd be with you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Again, you're being so gracious, Mulder. How can I ever thank you?

[trustno1] Can you stop with the sarcasm?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It's either that or I tell you to fuck off and shove that ego of yours up your ass.

[trustno1] I'll take the sarcasm then.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] God, I could kill you.

[trustno1] Yeah, I know. I've got it in writing, remember?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You do? Still?

[trustno1] Sure I do. I have all your letters.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why?

[trustno1] I don't know.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] For evidence, no doubt. When you wake up and remember my crimes, you'll use them against me.

[trustno1] I haven't done that yet. And it's not like you've said anything incriminating in them.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Besides the death threat.

[trustno1] Well, yeah...

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm still wondering why.

[trustno1] Why what?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why you'd keep them. It's a romantic gesture, don't you think?

[trustno1] Not necessarily. Do you still have the letters I've sent you?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes.

[trustno1] Why?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Because I love you and it's like having a piece of you with me.

[trustno1] Oh...

[trustno1] Okay.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] That upsets you, doesn't it?

[trustno1] A little. But I think it's mostly to do with you acting like a woman again. You're not a pussy, but you keep acting like one when it comes to me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Don't worry, Mulder. It bothers me just as much as it bothers you. And I appreciate you making fun of me. Somehow I don't really give a shit about that, though.

[trustno1] Because you love me so much?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I think so.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You like me to admit that, don't you?

[trustno1] Admit what?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] That I love you.

[trustno1] Not really.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Of course you do. You'd really love to know how much time I spend in a day thinking about you.

[trustno1] I would?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes. The man who wants you more than anything on this planet can't have you, but he'll keep waiting for the day you want him in return no matter how long it takes. It's too good for you to pass up.

[trustno1] I never said you couldn't have me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes, you did. I'm too risky.

[trustno1] Alex, that doesn't mean you'll never have me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I've sent you some information about your next case. One of my contacts at the FBI will leave it in your office for you. You should find it helpful.

[trustno1] Are you changing the subject?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes.

[trustno1] Please don't.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Why not? All you're doing is making me think one thing so you can turn around and take it away from me. What's the use in paying any more attention to it?

[trustno1] I'm not trying to build you up just to knock you down, Alex. I'd hope you wouldn't think that ill of me.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't think I could if I tried, but it always seems to turn out that way.

[trustno1] That you think ill of me?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, that you set me up to knock me down.

[trustno1] I'm sorry you see it that way.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Are you?

[trustno1] Yes, I am.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You'll have to excuse me if I don't believe you...again. I think that no matter what you say, you'll always enjoy screwing me over. And not in the way I keep wishing you would.

[trustno1] I thought you said it was about more than sex.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] At this point I'll take anything I can get. Looks like sex is the only thing you'll give me and even that's pretty iffy.

[trustno1] Not as iffy as you'd think. Like I've said before, I don't mind fucking you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Gee, Mulder, when you sweet talk me like that, how can I resist?

[trustno1] I don't understand why you're being such a wimp about this. Why haven't you broken in here and had my ass already? You could have done anything to me, but instead you're sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You don't get it at all.

[trustno1] Why don't you help me get it?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] For fuck's sake, Mulder! When did your IQ drop below room temperature? I love you. I want you to love me back. That's never going to happen so I have to settle for a mercy fuck that will never take place because you'll change your mind once I'm standing in front of you.

[trustno1] Alex, I'm sorry. I cared about you before and it blew up in my face. It'll just take me some time to trust you again.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Wow. How hard was that for you to admit?

[trustno1] Extremely, so please don't make light of it. My point is I'm wary for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is everything you've done to hurt me and Scully.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I apologized for that.

[trustno1] Yes, you did, but it's still going to be on my mind.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Then there's nothing I can do, is there? You'll never forgive me for what I've done.

[trustno1] I didn't say that.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You didn't have to.

[trustno1] Alex...

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It's a shame, you know. You and I are so alike. It should be the most logical thing in the world for us to be together.

[trustno1] We're alike?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes. We're both capable of incredible focus when we need to accomplish things. We're fighting on the same side, whether you believe that or not. Nothing can sway us when we think we're onto something, and we don't always have the best judgment when it comes to certain decisions.

[trustno1] What's that supposed to mean?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Which part?

[trustno1] The judgment part.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Come on, Mulder. You can't sit there and tell me that you haven't done some impulsive things without thinking of the consequences.

[trustno1] Fine. Go on.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Does that mean you agree with me?

[trustno1] Perhaps.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] When we were partners you told me I reminded you a lot of yourself when you were starting out. Do you remember that?

[trustno1] Yes, I do.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Doesn't that mean anything to you?

[trustno1] You were performing when we were partners, Alex. There's not too much I can count on from that period.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Can you take my word that the only performing I did had to do with who I was actually working for? Everything else was really me.

[trustno1] Wow, that's a comfort.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] It's true. I showed you the real me, Mulder. You liked it, didn't you?

[trustno1] Yes, but I wasn't too fond of the rest of you when the truth came out.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You know, I wasn't going to do this, but I'm going to throw that letter you wrote me back in your face.

[trustno1] Why am I not surprised you'd pull this?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Hey, after the way I let you off the hook, you don't get to have any say now. You admitted that the real reason you couldn't be with me was because you were afraid I'd leave you again. You said it hurts when you love someone and they leave you. I hate that you were drunk when you told me that, but I've decided that I'm going to accept what you said and stop letting you jerk me around like this.

[trustno1] Then I guess there's nothing left for me to say.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes, there is. You can say it now when it'll really mean something.

[trustno1] I have deep feelings for you, Alex. It wouldn't be that much of a stretch to call it love. But I honestly can't say I love you when I'm thinking straight.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder giveth, and Mulder taketh away. Why did I expect anything else?

[trustno1] I'm trying to be upfront with you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, you're not. You're lying to yourself. I should pity you, but I'm too busy being pissed off with myself for putting up with this shit.

[trustno1] Then don't put up with it.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You know that won't happen. I've got to go.

[sxy_mthr_fckr has left the chat]

hr

Sighing, Mulder looked out the window, watching the rain as it fell hard and spattered against the glass. The big, heavy drops made little rivers that trickled down the pane, as if the skies were shedding the tears he couldn't bring himself to shed. Tears of regret and anger and any number of emotions he wasn't ready to face yet.

The chat with Krycek hadn't gone as planned, and now Mulder had to run the risk of never seeing him again. Logically, Mulder knew there was every reason in the world for him to dismiss any involvement he'd want to have with Krycek. But that was easier said than done. The thoughts that had been creeping into his head - memories of a time when he had really liked Krycek, times when he had found himself ready to sweep Krycek's actions under the rug in exchange for feeling something for him again. These thoughts were disturbing him and all he could do was lash out at Krycek for making him start to care for him again.

But...

Mulder raked his hand over his face, turning away from the window. He should have just told Krycek what he wanted to hear, what Mulder knew deep down he wanted to tell him but was too...what? Too proud? Too scared? Whatever it was that was holding him back, he knew he'd handled himself poorly. Now he had to deal with the annoying guilt of wondering how Krycek was feeling, and the concern that he'd never find out.

His thoughts were disturbed by a loud thumping sound on his front door. He carefully took a gun out of his desk and clicked off the safety. There was more thumping as Mulder slowly walked toward the door.

"Let me in, Mulder!"

Mulder frowned as he recognized Krycek's voice, and put the gun away before answering the door.

"What the hell-"

Krycek fell forward into Mulder's arms, laughing as he grabbed at Mulder's shoulders. "Hey, Fox. What's up?"

Mulder grimaced as the smell of liquor hit him full force. "You're drunk."

"Guilty as charged," Krycek giggled. "I'm guilty of so much, aren't I?"

"You're soaked, too," Mulder grunted, trying to steady Krycek while avoiding getting wet himself. "You don't have an umbrella?"

"It's funny," Krycek sighed, "having an umbrella isn't high on my list of priorities." He began to make his way to Mulder's couch but was stopped when Mulder grabbed the back of his jacket.

"You're not soaking my couch," he muttered, pulling Krycek to him.

Krycek turned around clumsily and wrapped his arms around Mulder. "Can I soak your bed?" he grinned.

"Hardly. You can go home and sober up," Mulder said, his voice catching in his throat when Krycek started nuzzling his neck.

"You don't want that, Mulder," Krycek murmured sleepily, kissing Mulder's throat.

"Yes, I do."

"Fine." Krycek looked at Mulder, his jaw clenched. "I'll leave." He pulled away from Mulder and stumbled backwards, laughing again as he fell to the floor. "I'll leave as soon as I can get up."

Rolling his eyes, Mulder bent down to drag Krycek to his feet. "Nice try."

"Come on, Mulder. Wait 'til the rain stops."

Mulder pursed his lips as he looked at the pleading expression on Krycek's face. "Fine," he said after a few moments, "but you need to get out of those clothes."

"I thought you'd never ask," Krycek slurred, a cocky grin on his face. "I always knew you wanted me naked."

"Shut up or you're going to sit in the hallway until you're sober enough to leave."

Krycek mimed zipping his lips and leaned against Mulder. He wasn't much help as Mulder pulled his jacket off him then started on the sopping wet pants.

"What about my shirt?" Krycek asked softly.

"It's not as wet as these," Mulder said tersely, roughly yanking down the sodden jeans.

"Don't get mad if I get a hard-on," Krycek giggled, "but I've conditioned myself for this."

"What are you talking about?" Mulder mumbled, helping Krycek out of his shoes.

"The day you'd strip me, Mulder. I've fantasized about you stripping me and then fucking me." He sighed. "Wasn't drunk, though, and you were always a lot nicer to me."

"How much nicer do you want me to be? I'm letting you stay here until you're sober. Don't expect anything else." Mulder's eyes skirted over the material that was stretched tight over Krycek's erection. He looked up to see an amused look on Krycek's face.

"I know you want it, Mulder. I know you want me." He touched Mulder's cheek, gently stroking it with loving fingers. "I promise I won't remember anything come morning, so if you want to... You can have anything you want."

Mulder swallowed hard and pushed Krycek's hand away. "You're not drunk," he said, lips pursed as he rose to his feet. "This was all a trick to get in my bed."

Krycek shrugged. "I'm drunk, Mulder. Maybe not as drunk as I led you to believe, but I've had a few. Not enough to impair my judgment, but enough to give me some courage."

"I'm not so sure about the lack of judgment, Alex." Mulder looked at him, stone-faced. "I'll let you stay until the rain stops. Finish undressing yourself."

"That's it?" Krycek asked, shocked. "You're not going to scream at me and punch me and call me a lying bastard?"

"Would it help?"

"I guess not."

"You sound disappointed," Mulder observed. "Why is that?"

Krycek's eyes were cast downward, and he looked suddenly shy. "No reason."

"Bullshit. Tell me."

After a heavy sigh and a few aborted attempts to explain himself, Krycek finally looked at Mulder. "At least I'd be getting some kind of reaction from you. You'd be touching me. It would be something...anything. I know that makes me pathetic, but I've given up on any chance of you touching me with anything resembling affection."

"I can't believe you're still going on about this, Alex," Mulder rolled his eyes.

"Don't fucking dismiss me!" Krycek immediately looked chagrined at his outburst. "I'm sorry. I... I'm sorry."

Mulder let out an exasperated breath and started pulling up Krycek's shirt.

"What are you doing?" Krycek asked quickly, stopping Mulder's hands.

"I'm going to finish helping you so we can both get some sleep."

"You don't have to."

"I...I want to. I don't hate you, Alex," Mulder said softly, carefully peeling off the wet shirt and trying his damnedest to remain neutral as he exposed more of Krycek's body. He was congratulating himself until he caught sight of Krycek's left arm.

Almost simultaneously but still too slow, his senses dulled by the alcohol, Krycek made a clumsy attempt to hide his arm.

"Mulder, don't look at it," he said uselessly, knowing it was too late if the expression on Mulder's face was any indication.

"Alex..." Mulder reached out a hand to touch the lifeless plastic. "I didn't really think..."

"It was this bad?" Krycek made a choked sound as he tried to hold back the tears of shame and pain and humilation he was feeling. "Well, it *is* Mulder. It hurts me constantly and I'm ashamed for anyone to see me with or without the prosthesis. It's ugly and revolting and I can't stop having nightmares about it..." He stopped and looked at Mulder. "And now you pity me and I...I can't stand that thought."

Mulder's face softened and he instinctively put his arms around Krycek, pulling him close.

"Don't pity me, Mulder," Krycek sniffed, not sure when he'd started crying.

"I don't pity you," Mulder sighed and began stroking Krycek's hair. "I just... I didn't know how bad it was."

"I swear to god, if this changes how you feel about me..."

"Why shouldn't it?"

"I don't want you to be kind to me just because you see me as some cripple. I want it to be because you believe me and want me."

"Alex..." Mulder had pressed his lips to Alex's forehead before he knew what he was doing. Krycek's breath hitched and he whimpered as more soft, warm kisses peppered his face.

"Fox...don't..."

"Shh," Mulder sighed and raised a gentle hand to Krycek's face, the backs of his fingers brushing against the stubble on his cheek. He kissed one closed eye then licked the salty tears from his lips. "It's all right," he murmured, kissing the other eye as his hand cradled Krycek's face. "It'll all be okay..."

Krycek whimpered again and tilted his head up, desperate to feel the sweet, soft lips against his own. When his mouth found Mulder's, he groaned and began kissing him hungrily. His tongue flickered over the lips he'd dreamt about and slipped into the hot, wet mouth when Mulder began to respond.

Time passed slowly as Mukder held Krycek in his arms, pouring comfort and his passion for Krycek into the kiss. Krycek responded in kind, clinging to the safety that Mulder was offering and trying with every ounce of himself to show Mulder how much he wanted and needed him.

Finally, they each pulled back and stared at each other with drugged, heavy-lidded eyes. Mulder licked his lips and gave Krycek a shaky smile.

"I hope... If that wasn't okay, I'm sorry."

"You're an idiot," Krycek whispered, raising a trembling hand to Mulder's face and carefully brushing a thumb over his lips. "I've waited so long for that."

"Okay," Mulder took a deep breath and moved Krycek's hand. "I think this is where we say goodnight."

Krycek's face fell. "Why? I thought that—"

"Alex, I don't want to fall into bed with you because you're drunk and I'm feeling... and I can see how vulnerable you are. We can figure out all of this in the morning, but for now we need to get some sleep."

"But..." Krycek started to protest then gave up with a shrug. "I'll let you do whatever you think is best."

"First time for everything, right?" Mulder chuckled and kissed Krycek's cheek. "Why don't you take the bed and I'll take the couch?"

"Mulder, I won't attack you if you sleep in the bed with me."

Mulder shook his head and stroked Krycek's face before letting him go. "That's not it. I usually sleep on the couch. It's more...I don't know...comforting somehow. Less chance for me to be alone with any unwelcome thoughts if the TV's on."

"Okay, Mulder," Krycek yawned then grinned shyly. "I'm... I didn't think I was so tired."

"Get some sleep," Mulder said, taking Krycek's head in his hands and planting a kiss on his forehead. "I'll hang up your things to dry."

"Thank you," Krycek smiled, holding onto Mulder's arm for a second. "I'll... Just, thank you." He turned around before Mulder could say anything and carefully made his way to the bedroom, closing the door behind him.

With a frustrated groan, Mulder bent down and picked up the wet clothes on the floor so he could hang them up in the bathroom. All he could think about was Krycek, naked and willing in his bed. He knew he'd made the right decision because there was no telling how much he'd regret it in the morning. Plus, there was the fact that Krycek could have been playing him like a violin and would have considered this some kind of triumph.

Mulder hated feeling so bitter and cynical, but, he reasoned, Krycek had really left him no choice. Still... The lost, broken look on Krycek's face couldn't have been anything but real. Mulder knew what he looked like when he wasn't hiding anything and tonight Krycek had revealed more of himself than he'd ever seen.

"Why the hell can't this be easier?" he muttered to himself and walked back into the living room.

hr

Mulder's eyes opened slowly. He couldn't remember falling asleep but was grateful that he'd been able to stop thinking about the man in his bedroom long enough to actually get some rest. He yawned widely and sat up, scratching at the growth of beard on his cheek.

Krycek. He'd have to wake up Krycek and figure out what needed to happen next. He sighed and made his way to the bedroom frowning when he saw the door wide open, then the empty, made bed.

"Alex?" He walked in and saw a piece of paper propped up against a pillow.

Dear Mulder:

I hope you aren't standing there, reading this and feeling angry with me. I didn't sneak out under cover of darkness, nor did I wake up and dress so I could hightail it out of here. I'm sitting in the chair next to you, watching you sleep. If you wake up before I finish this letter, I won't leave and we'll talk. If I say what I need to and you're still asleep, I'll go. That sounds fair, doesn't it?

By the way, I don't know what it says about you that you fell asleep with the Food Network on. I never had you pegged as a cooking show slut. Or maybe it was some paid programming and you couldn't rip your eyes away from beautiful men hawking exercise equipment. Whatever it was, you look very content. There's even a slight smile on your lips and it's taking all my self-control to not lean over and kiss you. No telling how you'd take that.

You confound me, Mulder. I used to have you figured out — there's a whole lot of comfort in that — but now I honestly don't know what's what. I want to believe that your actions last night mean you actually do care about me. It wasn't just lust, was it? I think if it had been, I wouldn't have woken up alone this morning. And I don't want to think that it was just pity. So...do you love me, Mulder? Even a little? You tell me you want me and that you *could* love me and then you tell me that all you'll give me is a fuck. Then I see you and you're gentle and kind to me and when I'm ready to give myself to you, you don't want me. Didn't you like the kiss? Was it because I was drunk? Was it because you *weren't*? Do I even want to know?

Mulder — I wish you knew how much you confuse and irritate me. Maybe you do. Are you deliberately contradicting yourself so I'll either give up or get frustrated enough to lash out and act the way you always thought I would? Fox, I'm not going to do either. I'm going to keep loving you and hoping for the day you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I know that you'll never love me until you've forgiven me. You don't have to forget. I know I'll never forget the things I've had to do. But maybe you can forgive. Maybe when you do that, I'll be able to forgive myself for ever hurting you and the people close to you.

Well, I've said what I had to say and you're still asleep. In a way I'm glad. I couldn't take anything but your complete acceptance at this very moment. You could break me so easily, Fox. All I ask is that you don't. Tell me to leave you alone and I'll listen this time. But, please don't keep stringing me along for sport.

I have to go now. No sign of you waking. Although I'm thankful for that, there's a part of me that wants you to stop me from walking out that door.

Okay. I really am going now. That's all. Take care, Fox.

Love,Alex

Mulder let out a slow breath and turned the paper over in his hands. He hadn't expected the note to have the sweet, desperate tone it did and he didn't know how to feel about that. Krycek wasn't acting according to plan; there was no defensiveness, no evil jabs. Nothing but honesty. Sad, painful honesty.

Sitting down on the edge of the bed, Mulder read the letter again, shaking his head when he reached the end. There was no getting around it. The ball was in his court. He smirked to himself when he admitted that that had always been the case. He'd just been too bullheaded and hesistant and... afraid. He'd been too afraid to do anything about it before.

His eyes skimmed the page again, each word meaning a little more as he finally accepted that Krycek...Alex...was telling him the truth. Now it was up to him to take the next step.

hr

[trustno1 has requested a chat with sxy_mthr_fcker]

[trustno1] Hi Alex

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Hey

[trustno1] Are you out of town?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yeah.

[trustno1] Business or personal?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] A little of both. I didn't see any need to stick around.

[trustno1] Oh. Okay.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Did you get the note?

[trustno1] Of course I did. It was right there on the pillow for me to see, wasn't it?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I was just asking a question, Mulder. It's been three weeks. I figured maybe it fell underneath the bed or something. No telling when you'd find it.

[trustno1] Okay, good point.

[trustno1] Yeah, I saw it. Been reading it a lot, actually.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Really? I hope that's a good thing.

[trustno1] It is.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Are you sure?

[trustno1] Yes. There are some things I think I need to tell you.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Before you do, can I ask why you didn't try to call me or write me?

[trustno1] I... Everytime I tried, I chickened out.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You did? Really?

[trustno1] Are you going to tease me about it? I'd rather you didn't if that's what you're thinking.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] No, Mulder, teasing wasn't what I was thinking about doing. I just can't believe that you'd be afraid to contact me.

[trustno1] Well, I was.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] May I ask why?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] And why did you decide to chat with me finally?

[trustno1] I was afraid to call or write you because... It's hard to explain.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Try.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Please...

[trustno1] I didn't want to call you because it was too... It would be too real, too immediate. You'd be right there on the other end of the phone line, and hearing your voice would have put me at a definite disadvantage. Writing a letter would have been an exercise in torture. I would have struggled to find every word and when I mailed it I'd be obsessing over what you'd say or think and if you'd write me back. This seems safer somehow. I can still think about what I want to say, but it's not as real as speaking to you on the phone. I don't even know if that makes any sense. Does it?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I'm smiling, Mulder. Yes, it makes a lot of sense. I'm grateful that you made contact with me despite your misgivings. I appreciate it more than you'll ever know, I think. It'll make whatever you have to tell me easier to take, as well.

[trustno1] What do you mean?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You have to respond to my note, don't you? I'm assuming that's why you wanted to talk to me.

[trustno1] It is why I wanted to talk to you, but why do you think it's going to be bad?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] ::sigh:: Mulder, I've had time to think while I was waiting to hear from you, and I am going to abide by the decision you make. I won't argue with you and I won't approach you about anything but business. There are too many things that I want you to overlook and I can't blame you for not being able to do that. Maybe in another time we could have done this, but it's too late for that and I respect your decision.

[trustno1] Alex, is it all right if I actually tell you my decision?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes, of course. I'm sorry.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Mulder? Are you still there?

[trustno1] Yes. I'm having... Just give me a few minutes.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Okay.

[trustno1] I can forgive you. You said you wanted me to forgive you. I can. I do.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] You can? God...thank you, Mulder. I don't want to know how, but thank you. Thank you so, so much.

[trustno1] There's more.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] k

[trustno1] I would like you to forgive me for hurting you, too. I think a clean slate is important if we're going to change the way we relate to each other. I don't want us to revert back to our old habits of lashing out because we're too busy trying to deny ourselves what we're really feeling. You had enough courage to cut through the bullshit first, and I admire you for that. I'd like to follow your lead now.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] okay...

[trustno1] I want to be with you, and I want to make this work somehow.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Okay. Mulder, I want to make sure I know what you're saying. God, please don't let me misinterpret what you're saying. I don't trust my judgment anymore.

[trustno1] Alex, what do you think I'm saying?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] I don't want to say it, Mulder.

[trustno1] Would you like me to make it patently obvious?

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Yes

[trustno1] I love you, Alex. I've loved you since we were partners, and even after you walked out on me and betrayed me, I still loved you. You little shit. :-)

[sxy_mthr_fckr] LOL I don't know what to say. I'm rereading that to make sure it's really there. You really said it, didn't you?

[trustno1] I did.

[sxy_mthr_fckr] Let me call you.

[trustno1] Okay.

[sxy_mthr_fckr has left the chat]

The phone rang only once before Mulder picked it up, his heart racing.

"Hi," he smiled, feeling excited and giddy and finding he didn't mind it one bit.

"Hi, Mulder."

"Call me Fox."

Mulder felt a pleasant pull in his stomach when Alex laughed softly. "I thought you hated me to call you Fox."

"I don't hate it, really. Not anymore. And you've gotten so good at doing it, why deny you?"

Another laugh and Alex sighed, sounding pleased and relieved. "Just to be sure, you do understand what you told me in our chat, don't you?"

"Alex, I may be a lot of things, but senile isn't one of them. I told you I love you."

There was a slight gasp and Mulder frowned until he heard another soft laugh followed by a whispered request. "Tell me again."

Mulder smiled and gripped the phone tighter to his ear. "I love you, Alex."

"You really mean it. I can't..." His voice trailed off until all that was audible were quick, quiet breaths.

"Alex? Are you all right?"

"Yeah," Alex whispered, "I'm just...I never thought I'd hear you tell me that and mean it."

It was then that Mulder realized Alex was crying, and he felt a tug on his heart at the outpouring of emotion. "I do, Alex. I couldn't tell you before because that would mean I was willing to ignore what you'd done. But then I started thinking that I didn't have to ignore them. I could either choose to accept what you did, or deny myself something that I'd been harboring for years."

"But, what made you change your mind?" Alex sniffed and cleared his throat. "I didn't do anything different the last time I saw you."

"Don't take this the wrong way, but...you showed me how vulnerable you are, Alex. Your note did that more than anything else that happened. I couldn't hurt you. I don't know why, but hurting you was not something I *wanted* to do."

"So you did want to hurt me before."

Mulder moved to the couch, stretching out on it with a tired groan. "Yes, I did, but only because it was the only way for me to redirect the feelings I had for you. It's so clichéd I should be embarrassed, but that doesn't make it any less true. It was either slap you or kiss you and I couldn't let myself do the latter."

"Because you had a duty to hate me for the things I'd done."

Mulder cringed at the small, hurt sound of Alex's voice. "I...Yeah, I guess that's pretty much it. Your note changed that. For the first time you admitted how much I could hurt you and I didn't want to do it anymore. You gave me the choice to either continue things as they'd been before or to put an end to it. So, I put an end to it."

"Fox..." Alex sighed, "I don't know what to say. I'm afraid if I say anything I'll ruin it and you'll take it all back."

"I won't do that. Tell me what you're thinking."

"Well, I'm thinking that I love you and this is like so many of my dreams, I don't want to wake up."

"It's no dream," Mulder laughed. "Trust me, you'd be here with me right now if this were a dream."

"Oh yeah?" Alex said, sounding a little more confident. "What would happen if I were there?"

"I don't know. Maybe we'd have a few drinks, watch a little Ed Wood, play some Scrabble and then call it a night."

"I really hope you're kidding," Alex chuckled, "though I honestly wouldn't mind just spending time with you like that."

"That's really sweet," Mulder grinned, pleased at the admission, "but in reality I don't think I'd let you out of bed long enough to do anything."

Alex's breath hitched, bringing a bigger smile to Mulder's face. "Why don't you tell me a little more about that?" His voice was husky and Mulder felt a slow tingle creep down his spine at the want behind the words.

"Not much to tell, is there?" Mulder rested a hand on his stomach, his fingers absently playing with the hair trailing down to his groin. "I'd strip you completely naked—"

"Which you've done before," Alex interrupted.

"Yeah," Mulder laughed, "but I'd take my time. There would definitely be a lot more contact between your skin and my tongue by the time I got all your clothes off you."

"Nice. Go on."

"Then I'd lay you down on the bed and start kissing you all over your body. Conveniently enough, I'd start with your mouth and work my way down."

"But you're still wearing your clothes," Alex said softly, his voice caressing Mulder's ear. "Don't I get to undress you, too?"

"When it's your turn you can do whatever you want, but you asked me to tell you about what I would do if you were here."

"That's very true. Okay, I'm naked, on your bed, and you're kissing me on the mouth."

"Actually, while we were discussing my clothes, I managed to make my way down to your stomach."

"Is that right?" Alex groaned softly then Mulder heard a distinct gasp.

"What are you doing right now?" he asked, his hand moving down to cup his steadily growing erection.

"N-nothing." There was another sharp intake of breath. "Keep going."

"Not until you tell me what you're doing," Mulder purred. "But if I had to guess, I'd say you were jerking off. Is that what you're doing, Alex? Are you lying there with your dick in your hand, stroking it slowly while I tell you what I want to do to you?"

"Not...not exactly," Alex laughed breathily.

"Oh, you're not waiting to hear about me taking hold of your cock and licking every inch of it before sucking it into my mouth?"

"Aww, fuck... No, I'm...not lying down. I'm sitting up."

Mulder laughed and raised his hips so he could ease his shorts down, kicking them off and relaxing back, a firm grip around the base of his erection. "Well, I'm lying down, and I've got a hard-on with your name all over it."

"I want your cock, Fox," Alex whispered, "I want to taste you, I want you to fuck my mouth, shoot your fucking come down my throat. Then I want to fuck your ass raw."

"God damn, Alex," Mulder groaned, squeezing his cock tightly, "you don't waste any time, do you?"

"We've wasted enough time," Alex said, his words hoarse and breathy, "I just want to fuck you now, see your face when you come so hard you can't believe how good it feels."

Mulder's hand was moving rapidly over his cock now, slick with the precome that was leaking steadily from the tip. He could hear the grunts coming across the line, the short, hitched gasps that could mean only one thing. "Ahh, god..." he breathed, his hand tightening its grip as he squeezed and pulled on his cock, "Alex...fuck..."

"Come on, Fox..." Alex's voice was shaking with the effort to sound cool and collected despite what Mulder knew he was doing, "I wanna hear you come..."

"Ahhhh...oh god...Alex..." An explosive burst of pleasure and Mulder's orgasm ripped through him, shaking him to the core and sending his hot, thick come shooting up over his chest and stomach. He could hear the answering cries coming through the telephone, feel each breathless grunt and moan as surely as if Krycek were there with him.

"Fox..." Krycek sighed and chuckled softly. "Was it good for you? It was good for me."

Mulder laughed and trailed a finger through the come on his chest. "It was really good for me. I can't wait to do it in person. When are you going to be back in town?"

"That's a little hard to say. I honestly don't know when I can get back stateside."

"Oh, okay." Mulder tried to keep the disappointment out of his voice. "Maybe we can do this again while you're gone then."

"We might," Krycek said, "but I really got lucky tonight with this connection. I have to take off tomorrow and I'm not sure what kind of phone access I'll have." He paused and Mulder bit his tongue to stop from telling him to forget whatever it was he had to do and just get on the first plane back to him.

"Okay, I understand."

"Fox, you know if I could be with you, I would."

"Yes, I do." Mulder sighed and sat up. He reached for his shorts and wiped off his stomach and chest. "I know it can't be helped, but I still wish I'd taken advantage of the last time you were here." As if to make a point about his own stupidity, he angrily tossed the shorts across the room.

"I do, too, but getting mad isn't going to change it, all right?" Krycek soothed. "It'll be okay, Fox. We'll get together soon. In the meantime I'll try to get a letter or something to you."

"Okay." Mulder was hesitant to say goodbye, his emotions overwhelming him now that he'd finally stopped trying to deny them. His throat was tight as he forced himself to continue. "I'll let you go then. Take care of yourself, Alex."

"I will, Fox. You, too." There was a slight pause, then almost shyly, "I love you."

Mulder smiled and felt his eyes beginning to burn with tears. "I love you, too." He hung up before Krycek could hear him crying.

hr

Fox,

It's only been a week since I last spoke to you, but I'm already feeling as if I'm going out of my mind. I hope you get this and know how much I'm missing you. I didn't think it was possible to miss you more than I had before, but now that I know how you really feel about me, it's about a millions times worse. Unfortunately, I won't be able to get any letters from you if you write, but I'll replay our last phone call in my head and that should hold me until I can see you again.

There's not much I can tell you about where I am. If you check the postmark and the stamps they won't tell you very much. I'm leaving here right after I mail this letter. God, Fox, I hate this. I hate that I have to traipse around the world on some fucked mission as if I were some avenging angel. It's hard and it's dirty and it's not what I want to do anymore. I guess the only problem is I'm in a job without much of a retirement plan. If I stop now, I'm dead. Hell, if I keep going, I run the risk of being dead. Do you know what I'd do in a perfect world? I'd leave here right now, fly back to DC, kidnap you and whisk you away to some uncharted territory somewhere. Just the two of us with danger left far behind. If only it were that easy. I'd give anything for it to be that easy, Fox. You have no idea how much I want out.

I wonder why I'm even writing you this letter. You'll most likely get it a month after it's mailed and I have nothing interesting to say. I suppose I just want to be able to make some sort of contact with you. Knowing that soon your hands will be on this piece of paper, that you'll be holding something I've had in my possession. Don't laugh at me, but it makes me feel close to you somehow. It's as if we're touching though we're thousands of miles apart. I bet you had no idea I was such a sappy romantic, did you? There are so many things you don't know about me. When I get back, I want to sit down with you one night and tell you everything. After I do all the things I'm dreaming about doing to you, of course. Talking can always wait.

I had a dream about you last night. We were in your apartment and you didn't know who I was. I tried to explain it and you said it didn't matter because you could tell we were meant for each other anyway. It was strange but I woke up feeling good about it. Clean slate and all that, I suppose.

I should probably finish this and get it ready to mail. I'll try to send something else when I get the chance.

I love you.

Alex

hr

Mulder sighed and reached for the lamp on his nightstand. He'd read the letter about twenty times since he'd gotten it, and though he'd never admit to being a cock-eyed romantic, the idea that the same piece of paper had once been held by Alex sent a satisfied quiver through him. But now it was time for him to go to sleep and stop wishing for Alex to magically appear in his bed in the morning.

As he clicked off the light, the last conscious thought he had was how good it felt to find himself obsessed with someone who loved him back.

hr

Fox—

I don't know if you'll get this, but I had to try. I love you, Fox. Don't ever forget that. I'm not sure if we're going to get out of this, but I want you to know that you'll be the last thing I think about if we don't make it.

Pray for us, Fox.

I love you. Please believe that. I love you.

Alex

hr

A wave of nausea swept over him as he read the wrinkled paper in his hand. There was no telling how long ago it had been sent. For all he knew, Alex was— No. He wouldn't think about that. He couldn't think about it.

"Oh god, Alex," he whispered and stared at the piece of paper, crumpling it up in his hand and closing his eyes. He had to be okay. It wouldn't be fair if they'd finally come to terms with what they had only for it to be taken away now. Mulder held onto the paper then slipped it into his pocket. No matter what, he had to go into work. He had to pretend that everything was okay even if he felt as if his world were falling apart.

Alex would get in touch with him. If everything was okay, Alex *would* get in touch with him. Now all he had to do was hold on and hope the waiting wouldn't drive him crazy.

hr

The shrill ring of the phone jolted Mulder awake and he looked at the clock. 2 A.M. Nothing good ever resulted in getting a call at two in the morning, but he reached for the phone, the thought of Alex in the back of his mind. It had been two months since he'd gotten the last letter from him and he'd begun the mourning process while trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible. All Scully had noticed was his tendency to let things slide, no playful or combative discussions about a case, no wild theories. Simply a man going through the motions and blaming the flu or insomnia.

"Mulder," he said hoarsely as he turned on the lamp.

There was static and a man's voice. "—ulder? Can—" The voice broke up and there was more static.

Mulder sat up. "Alex? Is that you? Alex?" He was shouting into the phone, not caring if he disturbed his neighbors.

"Yes. I wanted—tell—'m safe." The words were broken up and barely audible, but Mulder breathed a sigh of relief, crying before he even realized he'd started. Alex was safe. That was the important thing.

"When are you coming home?" Mulder shouted.

"—on't know. I can't—" There was a long pause filled with bursts of static, then, "—love you, Fox."

Before Mulder could respond, the line went dead. He held the phone for a few moments longer then let out a slow, relieved breath. Alex was safe.

hr

"Mulder, are you okay? You look like hell."

"Thanks, Scully," Mulder grumbled as he took a seat behind his desk. "I haven't been sleeping much."

The smile left Scully's face and she walked over to him, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "What's wrong? Is there anything I can do?"

Since the only thing Scully could do was dress up like Krycek and bend over his desk, Mulder shook his head. "No, thanks. I'll be okay. I think it's just my regular insomnia kicking in again."

"Well, if you're sure." Scully walked back around the desk and sat down. "How was your holiday weekend other than the lack of sleep? Did you do anything fun?"

Mulder smirked, imagining Scully's reaction if she knew he'd spent three days in his apartment, watching Krycek's video and reading his letters while he jerked off to images of Krycek sucking his cock. "Sort of. What about you?"

"I went to see my mother, and Bill was there, too, so we..."

Mulder looked at Scully as she told him about her weekend, amazed that he was watching her speaking but hearing only white noise. Nodding in all the right places so she'd keep talking and he wouldn't have to make conversation, he reached for his mail and started opening it. He stopped listening completely when he opened an envelope with no return address, containing a photograph. Staring at the image of a fully erect penis, glistening with precome and being held firmly at the base by a familiar-looking hand, Mulder managed to stop his hands from shaking as he unfolded the piece of paper accompanying it.

Hey Fox—

Surprise! Bet you never expected me to write you at work. Well, I thought I'd try to brighten your day a little bit.

I received word that I'm heading back to the states on the 23rd of this month, and I just wanted to send you a little something to help with the anticipation. Okay, so maybe it's not little. A friend of mine took this for me. Yes, that's all me, unenhanced, and all yours when I get home. I hope you like it. Anyway, enjoy this Kodak moment until I can see you in person.

XXOO A.

P.S. Say hi to Scully for me. You can share the pic, if you like. I have no shame.

P.P.S. I really miss you. And I was kidding about showing Scully.

"Mulder? What's wrong?" Scully started to reach for the letter when Mulder snapped out of it and pulled it away.

"Um, nothing," he smiled nervously as he tried to ignore the thrumming ache between his legs. "I think I'm just tired, that's all."

"What's that picture?" she asked, her eyes narrowed.

"Nothing."

"Nothing? You look like you've seen a ghost."

Mulder shook his head, overwhelmed by the insane urge to giggle. "No, it's not a ghost. I really don't think this is something you'd want to see."

Scully sat back in her chair, staring at Mulder. "It's not the woman in accounting, is it?"

"I'm sorry?" Mulder said carefully.

"The person you were so distressed over. It's not that woman." She looked down at her hands. "It's Krycek, isn't it?"

"Of course it isn't," Mulder mumbled and put the letter and photo in his jacket pocket. "I don't know why you'd think Krycek has anything to do with this. You're being ridiculous."

"Am I?" She sat forward. "Mulder, I saw the letter he sent you telling you he loves you. Then you start talking about returning the love of someone you shouldn't. It was so obvious, I didn't even think about it at the time. But that's because I didn't think that's something I'd ever have to worry about."

"I don't know what you're talking about. That was so long ago. I can't believe you remembered that. Why are you still thinking about it, anyway?" Mulder knew he was rambling and would have kept going if Scully hadn't cut him off.

"Cut the shit, Mulder," she snapped. "Was it Krycek?"

Mulder looked at her, his mouth open to speak as he struggled to think of a way out of this.

"Well?" Scully raised an eyebrow, her stare not wavering.

"Can you drop this, Scully?" Mulder asked and started quickly sifting through some papers on his desk.

"Tell me." Her voice was soft but firm and Mulder knew that she wasn't going to let up.

He couldn't look at her as he nodded his head. "Yeah, it was," he finally said after a long silence.

Scully took a deep breath and Mulder could tell she was using every ounce of willpower she possessed to keep it together. "May I ask when Alex Krycek went from being enemy number one to the person you think you're in love with?"

"I can't tell you. I think it happened before I found out who he really was. When we were partners."

"I see," Scully clenched her jaw. "And that's when you discovered you were gay."

"That didn't... I don't know. I guess it had all been building up since then, but I didn't officially...embrace it until months ago."

"With Krycek..."

Mulder's eyes widened. "No! I haven't done anything with him. In fact, I ended up going with the decision I made when you and I had lunch the day I'd talked to you about it. I told him I was cutting off contact with him." It wasn't a lie, really, he reasoned. That day he had in fact decided to cut off contact with him. It just hadn't held.

"Yet he still sent you that letter. Why am I not surprised that when you tell Krycek something, he doesn't listen?"

"I can't control the postal service, Scully. I'm not going to write him back this time." Mulder felt his face growing warmer as he continued to deliberately mislead her.

"This time?" she asked incredulously. "Just how long has this been going on?"

"You know that he's been giving me information about our cases."

"Yes, but I assumed you didn't have to write him about that. What the hell is going on, Mulder? Have you completely lost your mind?"

"I told him I couldn't give him what he wanted," Mulder said, trying to keep himself from raising his voice, sure that she'd know he was trying to keep something from her if he lost his cool. "I don't appreciate being put on the defensive when I haven't done anything wrong."

"Mulder, I'm not—"

"Yes, you are, Scully. You're sitting there in judgment of me and I don't deserve it. If the next thing you're going to say has anything to do with me and Alex, I don't want to hear it."

"It's you and Alex now?"

Mulder stood up, still trying to remain calm but finding it harder to do as he looked at Scully's face. "You don't have any idea the contempt I'm seeing right now."

"I don't think it's anywhere near the contempt I'm actually feeling," Scully said evenly.

The words hurt more than they should have because they were coming from the one person he was used to supporting him emotionally. "I'm going home."

"Mulder, don't—"

"I don't want to hear anything else, Scully. If I don't leave now I'm going to say something I really regret."

Scully didn't say anything for a few moments, then nodded. "What do you want me to tell Skinner?"

"I'm sure you'll think of something," Mulder said, pulling on his jacket. "Maybe you can discuss my sudden insanity. That should be good for a laugh."

"Mulder, don't go," Scully called after him as he walked out.

hr

Mulder had driven home feeling more anger with his partner than he thought possible. He was outraged that she'd have the nerve to judge him for what he did with his personal life. And he was angry with himself for expecting her to understand and accept everything as if Krycek were just some ordinary man. He knew that she would never understand if she ever found out, but being faced with her disdain had been too much for him to take.

The chirp of his cell phone interrupted his thoughts and he reached agitatedly into his jacket to answer it.

"Mulder," he growled.

"Whoa, did I get you at a bad time?"

Mulder smiled and sighed. "Alex, it's so good to hear your voice."

"You know, I don't think I will ever get used to this, but I'm gonna have a great time trying. What's going on?"

"Don't worry about it. How're you doing? I got your letter."

Krycek chuckled. "I hope that's not why you sound so pissed off."

"Not at all," Mulder grinned. "In fact, I was very excited to see that you're still alive and well. I was worried, you know."

"I tried to call you to let you know-"

"I know, but I was still concerned. Are you really going to be back on the 23rd?"

"No, I'm not. That's why I was calling you, actually."

Mulder's shoulders slumped and he held the steering wheel a little tighter as he did his best to conceal his disappointment. "Okay, that's fine. Will you let me know when you will be back?"

There was another soft laugh. "Careful, you sound upset."

"Of course I'm upset," Mulder said, the softness of his voice belying his irritation. "My partner probably hates me and is telling Skinner about us right now, it took me six years of harboring these feelings for you before I could finally face them head on, and when we are ready to stop fooling ourselves, you have to be in some god forsaken place where I can't be with you."

Krycek cleared his throat before he spoke. "Are you finished?"

"Maybe," Mulder laughed in spite of himself at the patience in Krycek's question. "Why, are you going to add something to the list?"

"I'm not going to add anything, but I would like to correct you. And I'd like to know what's going on with Scully and Skinner."

"Never mind them. What were you going to correct?"

"I'm not in some god forsaken place, and you can be with me."

Mulder frowned and tried to stop his heart from beating faster, warning himself not to get his hopes up. "What are you talking about? You just said that you're not going to be here on the 23rd."

"That's true. I'm not."

"Then....."

"I'm in my rental car on my way to your apartment. Can you leave work early?"

"You're-" Mulder's face lit up and he shook his head. "Yes, yes, I can. I mean, I'm already on my way home."

"You are? Why?"

"Scully and I had a fight, but that doesn't matter. God, Alex, I'm so..... I can't wait to see you."

"I can't wait, either. I expect you to tell me everything that happened with Scully, you know."

"Not before we do something about this problem I've been having lately."

"What's going on, Fox? What problem? Are you all right?"

The concern in Krycek's voice took Mulder by surprise and he quickly reassured him. "No, no, Alex, I'm fine. I was just going to make a stupid joke about how much I need you. There's nothing wrong."

"Oh, okay," Krycek sighed, sounding obviously relieved. "I'm sorry, I should have known that's what you were getting at. I've just spent so long being on my guard, and after this last assignment, I..... Let's just say that I'm going to have to take a few days to readjust to normal life."

"Well, that's something else we can talk about after we've taken care of a few things. If you want to, that is."

"Fox, I will talk about anything and everything you like if it means I get to spend more time with you."

Mulder swallowed hard at the affection he heard in Krycek's words, but only because it seemed to express what he himself was feeling. "Okay. I'll see you soon, then."

"You bet. Take care of yourself until I can get there, all right?"

"You bet." Mulder smiled and said a quick "I love you" before hanging up.

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Mulder was pacing anxiously, looking at the clock every time he passed it, wondering what was taking Krycek so long to get there. Just when he was sure something horrible had happened to him, there was a knock at the door.

"It's open," Mulder called out as he sat down on the couch, stood up, then changed his mind and sat down again. For some reason it was now important that he not seem too eager.

You shouldn't leave your door unlocked," Krycek said as he let himself in and walked over, handing Mulder a brown paper bag before sitting next to him on the couch.

"You have no idea how ironic that is coming from you, do you?"

"Of course, I do," Krycek smiled. "I thought you'd appreciate it." He pointed at the bag in Mulder's hand. "Don't you want to know what it is?"

"Oh, of course," Mulder grinned and took out a bottle of vodka. "Hey, the good stuff. Should I open it now?"

"I'd hate to see it go to waste," Krycek smiled and took the bottle from Mulder. "We can have a toast, huh?" He unscrewed the cap and took a long drink. "To us?" he asked, tilting his head as he watched Mulder carefully.

"To us," Mulder whispered, taking the bottle and bringing it to his lips to sip the strong liquor. "This is good," he said softly.

"Have some more. You look like you need to relax a little."

"I suppose I do," Mulder nodded, wondering just how to start things now that they were finally face to face. He took a swig and put the bottle on the coffee table. "So," he turned toward Krycek, "did you want to talk first or did you want to..." He looked down. "I know what I said on the phone but I don't know if you—"

He was cut off by a bruising kiss, broken only for a murmured 'sorry' before it was resumed. Instinctively, his hands went to Krycek's face, cradling it as he deepened the kiss, hungrier than he'd been for anything in his life.

"Wow," Krycek smiled lazily as they broke the kiss, "I didn't expect that kind of reaction."

"What were you expecting?" Mulder asked breathlessly

"I thought you'd freeze or come to your senses or..." He smiled and stroked the side of Mulder's face. "You kissed me back. I didn't expect that."

"I didn't expect to want to kiss you so badly, so I guess we're even." Mulder let out a slow breath and licked his lips. He noticed Krycek's eyes track his tongue as it moved over his lower lip, so he did it again, slower.

"One more time," Krycek whispered, leaning forward and catching Mulder's tongue with his own when he obliged.

Mulder's head swam as Krycek kissed him. There was no way for him to reconcile the startling gentleness in the kiss with the man behind it. Even more surprising to Mulder was the way Krycek's hand carefully roamed over his body as if memorizing every part of him. Mulder smiled against Krycek's mouth and began mirroring the touches, stroking down Krycek's chest to his groin, teasing his crotch for a moment before sliding his hand over Krycek's hip.

Krycek's mouth moved along Mulder's jaw to his ear where he kissed and nibbled the sensitive lobe. "It's been a while since I made out like this," he chuckled softly. "I hope it's okay."

Mulder laughed and squeezed Krycek's ass. "It's all okay. More than okay. It's so okay, I—"

Krycek cut him off with another kiss then pulled back, grinning. "I get the idea."

"Good," Mulder smiled, cupping the side of Krycek's face. "We can do this for as long as you like. There's no rush."

"You're right." Krycek returned the smile as he turned his head to kiss Mulder's palm. "Tonight, there's no rush."

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