by Louise Wu

 

Chemistry Book 2: Divided (Chapters 6-10)

For previous parts: http://slashfactory.com/Chem/Chemistry.html



Chapter 6

** Mulder **

I drove myself to the courthouse, arriving twenty minutes early because I couldn't take a chance on being late. I found Judge Hernandez' chambers and told a clerk who I was. I paced outside the clerk's office trying to find a better way to say what I'd already rehearsed in my head dozens of times. The building smelled faintly of mildew and stale cigarettes.

I thought of Alex and tried to imagine him in a jail cell. I couldn't quite get the image to work in my head, but had no trouble recalling him in my bed. I saw him sleeping, his mouth a little open and eyes closed to the world. I imagined him awake, his face in my crotch, my cock buried in his throat. I remembered the time I bathed him in the shower and he cried. Even a night that painful sounded good to me now.

Finally another clerk came for me. I followed the click of her heels through a series of gloomy corridors behind the courtrooms. She tapped twice on a door and it was opened by a very skinny young woman. She shut the door behind me before introducing herself.

"I'm Grace Williams."

I shook her hand. "Fox Mulder."

On the other side of a huge desk sat a short, good-looking Hispanic man. "Mr. Mulder, this is Judge Hernandez."

"Your honor."

He shook my hand firmly and looked me over very carefully. "Please sit down."

We sat. I waited for a moment, in case one of them wanted to begin. Then I found myself worrying that the room was bugged. It didn't make any difference. I had to proceed anyway.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. As I told Ms. Williams, I have information about the U.S. vs. Krycek that you wouldn't have the opportunity to hear if I hadn't come forward."

Hernandez nodded.

"If possible..." My voice caught and I cleared my throat. "I'd like this information to be kept confidential. If it can't be, I'll live with that."

Williams made steeples out of her fingers, but she was paying attention to me. Almost too much attention... Now that I thought about it, both of them were rapt as if their own prison terms were at stake. Very fishy. I filed that thought away so I could stay focused.

"I work for the FBI." I hastily pulled out my credentials and showed it to both of them. "I was seeking evidence in a case that involved Robert Hamilton Schweck." They showed not one ounce of surprise at my naming Schweck as a federal criminal suspect. Interesting.

"To put an end to my investigation, Schweck sent someone to kill me. I was shot in the chest a week ago Tuesday but, as you can see, I survived." Again no looks of amazement at what I'd accused Schweck of. I turned to Williams. Poker face.

"Alex Krycek is my lover."

Hernandez' eyes opened wide. Williams stopped fidgeting. Now I knew they could be surprised.

"Krycek knew that Schweck would try again to have me killed." I paused for effect. "He also knew that it would be hard to convince anyone that a businessman like Schweck was involved in anything illegal. Therefore, he took the only action he believed would protect me."

I waited for what stretched out into an uncomfortably long silence. Finally the judge spoke. "Can you prove any of your allegations against Schweck?"

Now that was intriguing. Of all the questions he could have asked, he wanted to know if I could prove the allegations, but didn't ask what they were. Didn't ask how Alex or I knew Schweck had tried to kill me. I had a hunch that I needed to keep the pressure on. "Not yet."

"This does shed a new light on the case, Mr. Mulder." Williams had a conciliatory tone in her voice, but it was concealing fear. "Given this information, I think that I can persuade my office to be somewhat lenient toward Mr. Krycek."

Hernandez' harsh voice broke through. "Let's be realistic here. The suspect executed Schweck. I don't think the state is going to slap his hand and release him to 30 hours of community service just because he was doing you a favor, Mr. Mulder."

"I understand, your honor." I tried to look humble, but it's not one of my best looks. "What he did was wrong. I know that and he knows that."

I was stretching the truth a bit. Well, Alex did know it was wrong, but I doubted that he cared. Perversely, I felt a pang of warmth for him. He was a bad boy, but he was my bad boy.

Hernandez seemed to want to rub my face in it. "You realize that if I called the Bureau's Office of Professional Conduct and told them about your association with Krycek you'd be fired?"

"Yes, your honor." I suppressed a sneer. If we start examining professional conduct, you don't smell so good yourself, Hernandez.

"Your affection for this murderer appears stronger than your judgment."

I couldn't argue that. It was painfully true, but my humility was starting to chafe. I managed to spit out, "Yes, sir."

"Mr. Schweck is dead," the judge continued. "So is there any point in persisting in your investigation of his alleged illegal activities?"

Son of a bitch! Now, I knew what he wanted. I stole a glance at Williams who was trying to dissolve into her chair. I had to think this through carefully before I answered. It only took a moment.

I tried to crush the anger out of my voice. "The Schweck investigation..." What Schweck investigation? My integrity was on very thin ice. "... is not one of my primary projects. I suppose it might be difficult to find the motivation to finish it now that the man is deceased." I emphasized the word 'suppose.' Perilously thin ice.

"Good." Hernandez rubbed his hands together. "I think we understand each other, Mr. Mulder."

That was way too blatant. This conversation definitely wasn't being taped. They should have checked me for a wire.

I thought to negotiate for Alex--to force them to agree to the length of the prison term, to minimize the chance of them reneging on our shady agreement. However, I decided that their fear of Schweck's associates--and whoever was handling them--would motivate them better than I could. And I wanted them to worry if their offer would be good enough to keep me off the so-called Schweck investigation.

It was done. I rose and reached across the cluttered desk to shake his hand again. Harder for a man to betray me when I've looked him in the eye... The judge's face was hard. Rock hard. I knew he'd betray me in an instant if it was what he needed to do.

I didn't bother shaking Williams' hand.

Forty-five minutes later I was out of my suit and flopped onto the sofa. There was nothing else I could do. No one I could pray to.

I felt dirty, dealing with a bad judge to get a lighter sentence for Alex. It's not like I'd sacrificed a real investigation. I'd never heard of Schweck in connection with an X file.

I'd lied to a bad judge to try to get a lighter sentence for my lover, without any evidence that Schweck was even the man who'd ordered my death. Like many things related to Alex, I'd just have to live with it. I doubted that Hernandez, Williams or Schweck, if alive, would lose sleep over their own misdeeds.

I wondered if this was how Alex felt. If the world was filled with dishonest people willing to lie or kill to get what they wanted, did he feel like he should just do the same? Then why did he want me? Morally flawed, yes, but at least more-or-less trying to do the right thing.

Then I got it. I realized he'd told me the truth many years ago when he'd been my partner. "I want to believe," he'd said. He wanted to believe in human decency, but he didn't. And if it didn't exist, why bother? Why struggle like I had? Painfully aware of the elephantine weight of my ethical battles, I could visualize--just for a moment--the freedom of life without them.

I laughed out loud as I realized I was Alex's standard bearer for human decency. I felt so painfully inadequate as a moral icon. Pathetic. I'd beaten him just to vent my own rage.

Scully was my icon. I knew I'd never be that good. She was pure. I loved her for that. Alex knew. I remembered dinner at her house and he couldn't eat it. He felt dirty and inferior, like I did right now.

I was beginning to understand my mysterious lover. And I knew he loved me. I realized how much that hurt him, how much damage our relationship had done to his psyche. It uprooted everything he had believed.

I hurt for him and I wanted to hold him in my arms. So badly. Instead, I got up and turned on the TV.

** Krycek **

Peterson hadn't called, but I was taken to the private room around 3 P.M. and there she was. She was smiling.

I felt a trickle of hope slide down my spine, but I forced it away. 15 years in jail would probably seem like victory to her in this situation. I forced myself to sit before asking. "Well?"

"Three years?"

"What?" Hope was fighting my disbelief.

"All you have to do is plead guilty to second degree murder."

"You told them!"

"I didn't. Per your instructions, I did not tell anyone. I think your lover did."

"What!?"

"He left a voicemail for me last night saying that he was meeting with the federal prosecutor this morning."

I closed my eyes. I didn't want to think about what Mulder had done. Despair threatened to overwhelm my anger, joy and fear.

She lifted my face with two fingers under my chin. I let my eyes flutter open. "Don't worry," she said, her voice kind, "I made them promise to keep it out of all the documentation."

I was afraid to hope.

"I think he's in the clear." She shook her head. "I don't know what he said to them, but she seemed almost eager to help us."

Baffled, I just nodded. Three years. Three years seemed like a lot, but at the same time it could have been a lot worse.

As I started to relax, so did Peterson. "I've got more good news for you. You'll be eligible for parole in fourteen months." She grinned like a child. "You behave yourself and I may be able to get you out on your first parole hearing."

"Fuck." I couldn't quite believe that I might be able to get my miserable life past this hideous mistake. It didn't seem possible.

The wave of relief was followed by a growing suspicion. I couldn't think of anything Mulder would have said to them that would have been this effective. Then I remembered the empty Morley pack. Cancerman. He was using the carrot and the stick. He was afraid of what I'd do in prison without hope. So he gave me hope. "Oh, fuck."

"It's okay, Mr. Krycek."

"Alex. Please call me Alex."

"Alex." She smiled at me. I think she liked me, which seemed bewilderingly improbable.

"Thank you."

She nodded. "I'll have the papers for you to sign tomorrow. We'll be going in front of the judge to submit the papers and he'll ask for your plea. It's just a formality. You don't have to do anything except say 'guilty' at the right moment."

"They're even going to credit your time served, so your days are already ticking off."

Then I realized I was going to be leaving the plush accommodations of the Federal lock-up soon.

She must have seen it in my face. "What is it?"

"Where are they sending me?"

"I've asked for Cumberland because it's not too bad and it's close enough for your lover to visit."

I nodded. The thought of actually being transferred raised the specter of a whole new set of nightmares I didn't want to think about just yet. "Well, there's no rush. They can keep me here as long as they like."

"I understand." She set her briefcase on the floor. "I'll meet you at the courthouse. They'll take you there about an hour before the hearing." She rested her hand on my good shoulder and gave it a little squeeze. "You're going to get through this, Alex."

I nodded. "Thank you."

She walked to the door, but turned to me again. "I have a surprise for you." Then she left.

Mulder came in sporting a gigantic grin like I have never seen on his face. He shut the door and pounced on me, ignoring the acid look I was giving him. He sat next to me and pulled me into his arms, kissing my face. I tried to be angry, but I couldn't. He felt so damned good.

Finally I pulled away a little. "It's still over a year, Mulder. Maybe three."

"I know, but that doesn't seem like so much." He smiled and waited patiently for me to smile back.

I held it off. "You want to tell me about your conversation with the prosecutor?"

"Uh... no."

"Are you going to lose your job?"

"I doubt it."

I finally let him have a smile. I relaxed into his arms and stroked his hair. I inhaled deeply, trying to memorize the scent of him for later. It crossed my mind to give him a blowjob, but that seemed like a bad idea. Just the sort of thing that would not go over well with a parole board. We sat together, just touching, until Peterson returned and told us it was time to go.

Back in my cell, I allowed myself a full 24 hours of relief before I started fretting about the future. There were two big worries now. First, I was going to lose Mulder. He didn't want to admit it, yet, but it was inevitable. Hard as I tried, I couldn't see him being there for me when I got out. I'd have to prepare myself for that. And him. I needed to let him know that I knew and accepted that he wouldn't be waiting for me.

Second, as he said himself, I was going to be a target in prison. I was one hell of a fighter, but without weapons, and minus one arm, it wasn't going to be easy. If the worst happened, I knew I could survive being raped. It surely couldn't be any worse than having my arm chopped off. Although the idea of it brought up ugly images that I couldn't allow myself to experience. I shoved those thoughts away aggressively.

I was sent to the infirmary to remove the stitches from my hand. I was more than a little surprised when Scully showed up. She led to me a quiet corner and whispered, "Congratulations, Alex."

"Thank you for your help. I still owe you for the retainer."

She shook her head. "Mulder already repaid it." She cleaned the wound and it didn't hurt this time.

"Scully?"

"Hmm." She listened with half an ear while she extracted the black threads.

"Scully. I know you're here for Mulder. But I... You've been like a friend to me. Thank you."

She smiled as if she meant it while she rebandaged my hand. We'd come a long way since an awkward dinner I couldn't eat.

** Mulder **

Once the crisis was over, and I'd done everything I could do to help Alex, I calmed down. Way down.

November 21 was Samantha's birthday. I'll never forget her last birthday at home. I teased her mercilessly about her nose, her birthday presents... pretty much everything I could think of. If I'd known that she'd be gone six days later, I'd've been kinder. I suppose she knew that I teased her because I loved her. She had to know... but I could never be sure.

Every year at this time, I'd talk to her in my head--a sort of prayer. 'I loved you, Samantha. I still love you. I didn't mean to be an asshole big brother. I wish they'd taken me instead of you. I hope you're okay wherever you are.'

Samantha had become a fairy tale. Searching for her just a ritual... It's almost as if she never existed and I was programmed to keep looking for her. It was all very unreal. But the hole inside me was real. It had been there every day since she'd been taken. I wondered if anything could ever fill it.

Alex was very real. If he'd been here I might have been able to get past the November Samantha ache this year.

But I'd lost him, too.

I wondered if many years from now Alex would also become a fairy tale. The faded memory of a man who once cared about me, touched me with feeling and made me burn with lust in a way that no one ever had... How could something that intense just fade away to nothing? Would his feelings for me evaporate the way I imagined Samantha's had?

I used to watch videos to numb out the feelings, but the sex just reminded me of Alex fucking me. Even the het ones. Dammit!

I spent most of the four-day Thanksgiving holiday watching bad movies on TV. I had an invitation to join Scully's family, but I didn't want to be around people. Except Alex.

** Krycek **

I was surprised to still be in Federal lock-up on Thanksgiving. Mulder must have found some way to delay my delivery to Cumberland.

Thanksgiving dinner was tasteless slab of processed turkey and a glutinous lump of pumpkin pie that was too sweet to eat.

A few days later, Peterson came to see me. She brought Mulder and left us alone again in the private room.

Mulder sat next to me and put his head on my shoulder, one arm wrapped around my waist. "How're you doing, Alex?" He seemed subdued, like something was bothering him.

"Okay. You can imagine. There's not much to do, but I... it's all right."

"I brought you a couple of books." He passed me a Dean Koontz, a Michael Nava and a Valrhona chocolate bar. He was trying to be cheerful for my benefit, but he was really just sad. Me, too.

"Thanks."

"Is there anything else you need?" He kissed my forehead.

"Not really."

"Just tell me if you think of anything. I'll be visiting as often as I can."

"Mulder, stop this."

"What?"

"Playing the loyal wife. I don't expect that." He opened his mouth to object, but I interrupted. "Get on with your life, Mulder. Don't come back here."

"Is that what you want?"

I looked away. I knew I couldn't tell that lie so that he'd believe it.

"Alex, I never had much of a life outside of the X-Files. It's not like I'm going to be turning down a lot of other offers."

"You stubborn bastard. This thing between us was unlikely enough without me going to prison for three years. I don't want to wreck your life."

"That's up to me, Alex. You have to live with my decision."

There was nothing for me to say. We were both silent for a while.

"Alex, when you're in prison, I want you to know..." He took a breath and started again. "I want you to come out of there alive and well. Whatever you have to do... to keep yourself safe is okay with me. I just want you to... I don't want you to worry about what I'm going to think."

I grimly nodded my assent.

Peterson came back. "F.B.I. Assistant Director Walter Skinner has filed assault charges against you."

I'd been expecting that.

Mulder looked disappointed. "I'm sorry, Alex. I thought I had talked him out of it."

Peterson reached into her brief case and pulled out a photo. My torn up hand. She showed it to me. "Who did this? You said it was an FBI agent."

I hesitated and Fox started to speak. Instantly, I put my hand over his mouth. "Don't create any more problems for yourself." I faced my lawyer and said, "Yes, it was done by an FBI agent."

"Does Skinner know about it?"

I nodded.

"Perfect. I'm going to show him the photo and tell him to drop the assault charges."

I gave her a weak smile. "You're not even going to ask me if I assaulted him?"

"No, Alex." She shook her head like that was too ridiculous to contemplate.

My affection for the woman surged.

I wish I could have been watching when she had the talk with Skinner. The charges were dropped. Peterson did report that he recommended I stay away from him and his agents for the rest of my life. Politely recommended? Right.

** Mulder **

Alex asked me if I'd be willing to clean out his apartment in Alexandria. Peterson had already notified his landlord that he'd be 'moving out.' She also sold his car and passed his key ring on to me. I was tempted to put the silver fox back on it, but decided to put it on my own key ring instead.

He warned me about certain items I was going to find at his place.

I asked Scully to go with me for the cleanup. We went over on a Saturday morning and found a very old building in a declining neighborhood. Number 8 was on the second floor.

I opened the door to a musty smell. Having been closed up for over a month, it could have been worse. Scully opened all the windows.

It was a small one bedroom with worn hardwood floors. Alex's things were few, but neat. The living room contained a sofa that looked nicer than mine, plus a table with a bookshelf stereo on it. A bookcase with a few dozen books. History. Computer books. A few Cyrillic paperbacks. Mysteries. Thrillers. A few classic novels.

His bedroom was a tiny room almost completely consumed by a double bed. Sunlight came in through the window giving everything a faded look. It made me sad. I wondered if he'd ever brought a man here for sex.

I opened the drawer of the bedside table and found condoms, lube, a bottle of an herbal sleep remedy, a Bureau photo of me and a well-worn book. "1996 Best of Leather Sex." Alex! I took it to the living room and put it with my keys to take home. Something to keep me entertained in his absence, perhaps.

Returning to the bedroom, I went to the closet. At one end I found two really bad suits like those he wore when he was my partner. It made me smile to remember his awful greased down hair. A costume? Behind the suits I found another, much nicer one. Italian. Custom. Now I was certain the cheap suits had been a disguise. I pulled out the Italian one. Beautiful charcoal gray summer wool. I delivered it to the living room and hung it on a nail, thinking I'd take it to him to wear home from prison.

Checking out his bathroom, I remembered what he'd told me was under the floorboards, but I wanted to handle that last. I opened his medicine cabinet. Soap. Deodorant. Shaving cream. After -shave. All the bottles had the tops missing. Easier to use one-handed. I memorized the brands, so I could buy them when he got out.

I started to close it, but then stopped myself. I pulled out the after-shave and smelled the bottle. Eau d'Alex. I put it with the book by the door.

I heard Scully rattling in the kitchen and went to join her. It looked like half of a normal kitchen without even room for a table. I wondered if larger apartments had been broken up to make this unit. The sink was clean. There were only a few items in any of the cabinets.

"You okay, Mulder?" She was putting dishes into a box.

"Yeah. It's just strange."

Nothing furry in the refrigerator. Nothing at all, except for two bottles of Coke and an unopened Russian bottle that had to be vodka.

"He said to give away or throw away anything that doesn't look important."

"We can hit Goodwill on the way back." She opened the oven. It looked unused. He made muffins in my oven.

Next to the refrigerator, a trash can. Empty. But I looked again. It was perfectly clean. I looked under the sink and found a box of trash bags. Someone had been here already and taken his trash. I doubted they found much. Alex was too careful.

A haze of depression began its assault on me. Alex's former life seemed sad and lonely. I guess I wasn't surprised. Mine wasn't any better, was it?

I kicked around his things a little longer, looking for something personal. I found a bundle of photos in a kitchen drawer. A 40-something man who looked a bit like Alex. An old shot of his father? The supposed father and a pretty, slightly chubby lady with green eyes. That had to be mom. I chuckled at the thought of Alex running to her with a skinned knee. A small photo of a little girl. I didn't think he had a sister. Then I hit the mother lode. School photos of Alex.

I pulled up a chair and indulged myself. High school on top of the stack. What a handsome kid! Even then, the boy looked sultry. In one, he had a moustache--one of those wispy ones that a boy grows because he can, not because it looks good. "Oh, Scully. You've got to see this."

She looked over my shoulder. "What a baby! He looks like he's twelve." Her eyes met mine and I knew we were having the same thought--what made this boy turn out like he did?

I flipped through a few more and found a gawky adolescent shot where he positively sneered into the camera. I couldn't help but laugh. Earlier still, he started to really look like a kid. In the earliest photo he must have been five or six years old. He looked, well, sweet. He looked like a sweet child you'd want to take care of. I wanted to hug that little boy and I wondered if anyone had.

Stashing the photos of him in my shirt pocket, I started a box of things I'd keep for him. I put the other photos in the keeper box, which I brought back to the kitchen. I found some keys, a spare wallet with a ten dollar bill and a bookstore receipt in it, a comb, a bunch of change and an odd little medal with Cyrillic on it. Most of it went into the keeper box.

I noticed that Scully had finished the rest of the kitchen around me. "Hey, I'm sorry. You're doing all the work."

"It's okay, Mulder. You can buy me lunch when we're done."

"A really nice lunch."

"Antonio's."

"'Kay."

I returned to the bedroom. The medal made me think of jewelry and I wondered if he had any. I found a leather box on a shelf in his closet. Inside, a few tie clips, a pair of cuff links, a gold ring with a black stone and two watches--a cheap Timex and an elegant Alfex Chronograph. I carted the finds to the keeper box in the kitchen.

Back in the bedroom, I explored his small dresser. The top drawer had underwear. I copped a feel, but it wasn't very satisfying. His shorts just lay there deader than Schweck. In the back was a pair of red knit boxers. Nice, soft fabric. Looked hardly worn. I pocketed them thinking I'd wear them to remind me of him.

Second drawer, T-shirts. Third drawer, jeans. Nothing underneath them. He wore one size larger than I did. Fourth drawer, sweaters. I took out the best looking one. Emerald green wool. The color of his eyes. I held it up. Not quite my style, but I took it anyway. I'd buy him all new clothes when he came back to me.

It took us only an hour and a half to pack up everything he owned. I'd give away the stereo, but decided to keep his small, but bizarre collection of CDs. Depeche Mode. Wall of Voodoo. Madness. Saint Saens. Tchaikovsky. I tossed most of the English books, but kept the Russian ones, because I didn't know what they were. I asked Scully to keep the best of his clothes and toss the rest.

We loaded everything in the car and took most of it to Goodwill. I dropped her off at her place and said I'd be back in an hour. She knew what I was going to do, but I didn't want her to be a part of it.

I returned to face the cache in the bathroom. The linoleum looked like it was on good, but lifted away easily once I got it out from under the trim. Underneath, the floorboards looked dusty and untouched, but I could see the outline where he'd sawed into them. Using my pocketknife, I pried out a 2x4. I could see several guns and a paper bag. I lifted out a few more boards and revealed a large stash of weapons. Seven hand guns. Two serious knives. A switchblade. Two rifles.

He'd promised me he hadn't used these guns to kill anyone, but I wasn't taking any chances. I'd brought cotton towels and latex gloves. I put on the gloves and I used Alex's vodka to wipe each one down completely. My Bureau training came in handy for evidence destruction.

I packed up the guns in a box, grateful that I had one long enough to hold the rifles. As I handled each weapon, I wondered who'd been killed with it. Maybe not by Alex, but I suspected that each of these had led their own lives of crime. Inside the paper bags I found ammo. A whole lot of ammo. I wiped down the packages and put the ammo in a separate box. I cleaned the knives and the switchblade and put them in with the guns.

At the bottom of the cache I found a small, flat cardboard box. Inside was a ring with five small keys, four passports (none of them in the name of Alex Krycek--two for American citizens, one Canadian and one Russian), a register for a bank in the Cayman Islands (balance listed as $88,213.27), three birth certificates (one of them for Alexander Richard Krycek, 6/9/67), thirty hundred dollar bills, his FBI ID, a CIA identity card (in the name of Alex Krycek!), an NYPD police shield and some sort of identity card in Russian. Fuck!

I had to get rid of the weapons carefully, so I could be certain they wouldn't be used in some future crime. But I didn't want to get caught doing it. So I drove to the warehouse district near the harbor and found the most deserted corner I could find. I left my car in an alley and located a broken window. Making sure no one was around, I broke the glass further and lowered the weapons box through the window, onto the grimy concrete floor. Five blocks away, I stashed the ammo carton in a greasy old trashcan behind a vacant storefront.

Next stop was the Lone Gunmen's abode. They sent a synthesized audio message through a network of phone lines to the Alexandria Police Department telling them where to find both boxes. I concealed the passports and papers under the liner in the trunk of my car and went to take Scully to lunch.


Chapter 7

** Krycek **

Being sentenced changed things. If anything, I was more confused.

My first parole hearing would be Tuesday, January 4 in the new millennium. With my luck, the federal prison computer systems would crap out on 1/1/00 and I'd be held over until 3000.

I could still escape, but fourteen months--one month already served--wasn't a terribly long time. Escape or stay... Mulder would be lost either way. But if I stayed I could be a free man with a clean record when I came out. An ex-con, sure, but without pending warrants. That would mean I could try to find an honest profession. The only reason I wanted it was Mulder. But what was I thinking?! Life wasn't a fucking romance novel.

The mental image of Mulder and this ex-con living together in some kind of relationship was a joke. Even if I weren't in prison, I'd never done this relationship crap. Just because the sex was sizzling was no reason to delude myself about the future.

But Mulder was the only good reason not to escape. He and I were finished, but over and over again, I caught myself hoping against hope. What a fucking idiot I'd become. I told myself that it would take some time to accept his loss. Once I did, I'd send word to Ming, the only person I could count on to help me escape.

I'd been in Federal for almost six weeks when they finally transferred me to the prison. So my prison term had already been reduced to 55 weeks. Just a little more than one year.

My mantra on the bus ride to Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution was, 'I will be polite to prison staff. I will do as I'm told. I will not start fights. I will not kill men who start fights with me.' I had to psyche myself up for this. Be a good boy, Alex, and get parole.

So I was oriented at Cumberland and strip searched. A grumpy Corrections Officer escorted me to a stark cell. I sat there for ten minutes, just trying to get used to it. Two narrow bunks. Toilet. Sink. Two built-in drawers. And, of course, bars. Lots of bars. Privacy was a thing of the past.

That first day, when I entered the cafeteria, I felt a lot of eyes watching me. My guard was up, but I feigned a relaxed posture. A couple of country boys and a biker dude were staring at me with undisguised interest. One of the hicks called out, "Got a purty mouth. See ya in the showa." I decided to ignore them until someone got too close.

In line, I was given a tray of mushy food. I chose a table in the corner with no other occupants, hoping it wasn't anyone's territory. Eventually other men joined me, but they didn't seem to be much of a gang. I dismissed them as losers. One of them smiled at me, but it was a friendly smile. I failed to smile back.

Halfway through trying to eat some brown meat-like thing, which must have been beef at one time, I felt warmth enter my zone of comfort. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled.

A hand dropped onto my left shoulder. "You're my pussy. It's only a matter of time."

I responded instantly--rising out of my seat and visualizing my fist about twelve inches through his solar plexus. As my fist hit made contact, I identified him as the biker dude. He was trying to get air back into his lungs, when I wrapped my fingers around his throat and cut off his airway. He passed out quickly. Before his body hit the ground, I was back in my seat. Only then did I notice the adrenalin in my system. My heart pounded rapidly, but I faked calm and was eating the brown slop again by the time the guards arrived.

Something had changed in the eyes of the men around me. Good.

The risk was necessary for my own safety, but I was lucky that the C.O.s hadn't seen me drop the biker.

No one would tell them what happened. A guard put his hand on my shoulder, "What did you see?"

I shrugged and started eating the white crap.

They finally gave up on getting any answers and hauled off the biker, just as he was coming around.

When I returned my tray to the kitchen, a couple of inmates muttered their congratulations. "Way to go, man." "Nice work. Fucker deserved it." I responded with a curt nod, but I was glad to hear that I'd earned some respect.

My cellmate, Johnson, was a hyperactive little man serving six years for armed robbery. I was pleased to share my quarters with a man I knew I could easily beat in a fight. After a few weeks, it was clear the real risk was that he'd drive me insane. The way he buzzed around the little cell made me wish I had a fly swatter. I finally resorted to pushing him around to try to get him to calm down, but it seemed to excite him more. I just had to tune out the little fucker.

Johnson's least endearing quality was his constant masturbation. As long as he was quiet, it would have been bearable, but he invented a not-very-amusing game--seeing if he could hit my body with his semen. Now I was desperate for a way to control him. I finally discovered that my knee slammed into his nuts was the only way. He left me alone for about a week after that. And I was more than willing to do it as often as needed to keep his repulsive body fluids off me.

As for the rest of the prison population, I was glad to discover that the majority had a lack of interest in me as a person or a fuck toy. Relieved to realize that only Fox found me beautiful, I relaxed and settled into the mind-numbingly dull routines. Mostly, the men ignored me and I ignored them, almost content in my solitude.

I got the most attention in the yard doing pushups or working out in the meager weight room. Everyone liked to watch the one-armed guy. On Christmas day, this Cuban kid asked me to fight him in the yard. He didn't appear pissed off--in fact, he seemed almost friendly--so at first, I didn't comprehend what he wanted. Until he had one of his buddies tie his left wrist to his belt behind his back. A recreational fight. This drew quite a crowd and soon I was fighting somebody one-armed a couple of times a week. I didn't mind. It was good sport, helped to keep me fit and I almost always won the fights. I had a lot more practice using my body this way than any of my challengers. It was cheap entertainment and it earned me a lot of respect.

There were a few inmates who made me uneasy, though. In particular, one big black guy. He was at least 6'8" and had to weigh more than 280 lbs. All muscle, too. Mostly the blacks guys kept to themselves, but this one was always on the periphery watching me. I knew I was a goner if he ever wanted anything from me. Even the other over-sized black men were deferential around him. His glare was filled with loathing, but something else, too. Curiosity? He paid me a weird kind of attention, like he was waiting for something. It gave me the willies.

I found out his name was Scratcher, whatever the hell that meant. After about six weeks, he still hadn't jumped me or anything, so I stopped worrying about him. I figured if he really wanted something he'd have taken it already. Cons aren't generally masters of delayed gratification.

When Mulder was in town, he came to see me every Friday at 11 A.M. We had 20 minutes. I couldn't touch him, because there was a glass-and-wire screen between us, but once I got used to that, just seeing him was good. There was never a lot to say, but looking at him for 20 minutes was great entertainment compared to listening to Johnson's dismal repertoire of dirty jokes.

Each time Mulder came, he brought me two things. First, a cassette tape that he'd recorded during the week telling me about his adventures. I'd take them to the prison library and listen to him yakking about cases and the strange people he met trying to solve them. I couldn't tell if he was trying to make me laugh or just being himself, but I'd usually laugh myself into a stupor. I listened to most of them at least half a dozen times--even the ones when he was stuck in the office doing paperwork or working on cases he couldn't tell me about. The sound of his voice took me away from the drabness of prison life.

His second gift, every week, was a Valrhona chocolate bar. At first, they made me sad, because I remembered kissing him after he had tasted one for the first time. But, it was impossible not to appreciate the delicacy of the rich chocolate after a few weeks of prison dining. I couldn't eat a whole one in a week, so I found other chocolate lovers and bartered the extras for other edible snacks. Cumberland's meals were barely better than the cockroach-infested gruel in Tunguska.

Without fail, if Mulder was out of town and couldn't visit on a Friday, he'd get a message to me. I never had to wait and wonder. As the weeks went by, I was amazed that he kept coming back. My life had nothing to do with him anymore, but he always seemed happy to see me.

During one visit, in February, I probed a little. "Have you gotten laid recently?"

He looked annoyed and maybe a little embarrassed. "No."

"Why not? You deserve a little fun, don't you think?"

"C'mon, Alex. You know that's not what I do best."

"Just go to a bar and wink at somebody."

He rolled his eyes at me.

"I hate to think of you not getting any. That gorgeous body going to waste..."

He set his lip in a petulant little pout. "I hadn't had sex in two years before you."

It was my turn to roll my eyes. "Jesus." I had no idea he'd been a monk. No wonder seducing him had been so easy.

"So what about you Alex?"

I shook my head. "I can't. The men in this place are... well...you know... crude. Not in your league, Mulder. I'd rather jack off and think of you."

"There must be some attractive men."

"The physical therapist isn't too bad. I get to see him every other week to help me exercise the muscles around my left arm." I saw something in his eyes. "You have nothing to worry about, Mulder."

"I guess you can't really fuck the physical therapist?" His tone was a poor fake of disappointed.

"No. I haven't figured out how to convince him that any of the muscles below my waist are in need of therapy. Maybe if I was missing a leg."

He nodded, his face oddly serious, ignoring my joke.

Every visit, before he left, he told me loved me and put his hand on the screen near mine. I never said it back to him, but he was undeterred. I think he knew how I felt. Maybe better than I did. A truly frightening thought...

I considered telling him. In one sense he deserved to hear it. He'd been so good to me. On the other hand, he didn't deserve to be emotionally tied to a prison inmate. If I ever reached for him and saw guilt or obligation in his eyes I'd never forgive him.

Mulder got used to seeing me with bruises on my face. I told him about the recreational fights in the yard and let him assume they were always from that. Mostly they were.

After three months in prison, it seemed he wasn't just going to forget about me. When he couldn't come on a Friday, he brought two tapes the next week. Once he couldn't come for three weeks and he sent a long letter and a care package filled with chocolate, cookies, sunflower seeds, cigarettes (prison currency), magazines and a book of crossword puzzles. The guards or the cons in the mailroom ate most of the cookies before delivering the opened box, but I was delighted by the remains.

I swapped the cigarettes for backrubs from another prisoner. I even thought about buying a blowjob, but I didn't do it. There were plenty of men who'd have me in prison, even bottom to me. I'm not exactly sure why I didn't fuck anyone. I'd had meaningless sex in my life before Mulder. Faithfulness wasn't the point. It just didn't seem worth it.

** Mulder **

Alex was always glad to see me, but one day in April he looked almost happy.

"Hey, Alex."

"I dreamed about you this morning, Mulder."

"What did you dream?"

"I don't remember, but I woke up with a hard-on."

What a sexy image. Alex hard. Simple, animal beauty. "You know, I found a book of S&M stories in your bedside table. I brought it home with me."

"Did you read it?"

"Yeah."

"Did you enjoy it?"

"It's better than videos, because I can imagine that it's you and me."

He gave me a lopsided grin I'd never seen before. "Which one is your favorite story?"

I was reluctant to tell him. "Permission."

"Which one is that?"

"Um, where the guy makes him beg for everything."

His clear green eyes opened wide. "You like that?"

Shit. My face felt hot. "Yeah, Alex. I do."

His voice dropped into a low rasp. "If we were home right now, I'd make you beg."

I was speechless at the thought of it. My cock was starting to feel constricted by my suit pants.

"You're naked on your knees in the living room. You're so sure that I'm going to let you suck my cock, but I just rub the tip of it all over your face. Your tongue slips out of your mouth, but I pull my cock away. I won't let you have it."

By this point I was suppressing a moan. Just looking at him was making me dissolve. His face smoldering with sexual tension, he gazed at me as if he owned me.

"Now that you understand the game, I can press the head of my cock to your mouth. I wipe it along the full length of your beautiful lips. You want it so badly, but you won't disobey me. You whimper and whine but I won't let you have it."

My Alex knew how to tease. I rolled my eyes at him, trying to control my face so I didn't make a scene that might attract the guard. I knew what he wanted from me, but there was no way I was going to beg him here.

"You're desperate to have my cock in your mouth. You can taste it. Imagine working the tip with your tongue... Taking it all the way down..."

My god damned mouth was watering. He was on the other side of a glass wall and yet he was controlling my entire body. I couldn't hold back a groan.

It only made him smile salaciously. "Do you want it, lover?"

I bit my lip and struggled not to give him what he wanted.

"Do you want to feel my cock in your throat?"

It finally came out as a hoarse whisper. "Please, Alex." I don't even know what I was asking for. Please let me suck your cock? Please stop teasing me?

"Open your mouth."

By this point I was so in his thrall that it was a major challenge not to do as he asked.

"I give you just the tip. You swirl your tongue around it. I'm already so hard it's a struggle not to come. My hand reaches for the back of your head."

The voice of the C.O. intruded. "Time's up, Krycek!"

A flash of disappointment passed over his face, but then it shifted into an evil grin. At the same moment, we both realized I had to go back to work like this.

On the drive back I had a long time to think about what had just happened and what's been happening to me since the day a sexy assassin delivered my pizza.

He's always been in control of our sex life. He decided what, when and how. I'd been hiding the truth from myself for months. I didn't tolerate it--I loved the way he controlled me. Even craved it. That damned book shattered my illusions, with more than a little help from the man himself.

It didn't exactly fit my self image. I didn't think of myself as submissive. The word practically gave me hives. I was certain that Scully would die laughing at the very idea. But alone with Alex, I enjoyed him taking the lead. It's like he culled it out of me. Those incredible pheromones of his... A few whiffs and I just needed to please him. I wanted to do everything for him. Anything for him.

I remembered when he fucked me bent over my dresser one night. I thought to prepare my ass on my own lubed fingers. The very idea burned in my groin. I wanted to do it, so he could watch me doing it for him. But I chickened out. What a waste. Now I couldn't even touch him and I had squandered a chance to give it all to him.

My own past should have taught me to take everything life has to offer every single day, because you lose the people you care about.

I decided that I would truly give myself to him when he came back to me, even if I was afraid.

I was horny all day at work. I considered stepping into the men's room for some relief, but it was hotter to imagine that he wouldn't allow me to jack off. So I spent the day suffering, pretending he was making me wait until I got home. Then he'd take care of me himself.

But I returned home to an empty apartment. I jacked off thinking about him fucking my face and the devastated look on his face as he came. Afterward, I started to get gloomy again, so I called Scully and took her to a movie.

I'd always spent a lot of time alone at my apartment doing nothing. But since Alex it seemed so lonely. I suppose I was lonesome before, but now it was worse. So I kept finding things to do out of the house. I played basketball. Spent more time with Scully. Invited the Lone Gunmen over for Sci-Fi movie night. Even went to their place, just to shoot the shit.

One day in the cafeteria at work I started a conversation with Kimi from the purchasing department. Kimi was a big, gorgeous woman I had to visit every time I lost Bureau property. I saw her frequently. On the way through the lunch line, she informed me that she'd tallied gun loss statistics and I wasn't even in the top three. I ranked a lowly nine. I promised to try harder.

She sat next to me and we gossiped about the FBI's most neurotic. At the end of the meal, she got quiet and then asked, "Would you like to go to a movie this weekend?"

"No, thanks, Kimi. I'm seeing someone."

"Oh, sure. It figures you'd be taken." She smiled, picked up her tray and departed.

That night I was lying on the sofa reading a paperback. I turned the page and found a tiny note scrawled in the margin. "This killer is pathetic. You could have solved this case on page 3." Alex's handwriting. I smiled at the page for a moment, and then I threw the book across the empty room. Dammit! Why wasn't he here? Because of me. He'd gotten careless because of me. Turning off the light, I stared at the ceiling half the night.

In April, on a Friday after visiting Alex, I took a shuttle flight to La Guardia and a taxi to Greenwich. I planned on staying just one night with my mother.

That afternoon, she showed me her garden. The crocuses had just passed away but the daffodils were blooming.

We dined at the country club, where she introduced me to all of her friends. Mrs. O'Reilly's son had been elected mayor of a small town in Ohio. My mother seemed almost embarrassed to mention what I did for a living and discouraged me from talking about it.

After dinner, I suggested a movie, but Mom wanted to read, so we just sat together in her living room. She perused a new Martha Stewart book on home decorating, twice stopping to get my opinion on window treatments. The drapes were excruciatingly feminine, so it was hard to find anything to say, but she wasn't listening to me anyway.

By the time I kissed her cheek and said goodnight, we were both eager for me to go home.

The next morning she made eggs and toast.

"Mom, there's something I want to talk to you about."

"What's that, dear?" she replied, her eyes on the frying pan.

"Um... I dated someone for a time last year and... "

She turned and gave me a quizzical look.

There was no easy way to say this. "It was a man. I was seeing a man." I watched her face turn sour as I said it. I was pleased to see a bit of shock, too. And amazed that anything could still surprise the woman.

"Fox, that's sick."

"He... he was good to me--very affectionate."

"Well, it sounds like it's over. I'm sure that's for the best." Her voice carried the tone of a reprimand.

"I'm going to see him again."

She scooped the fried eggs out of the pan onto our plates and sat down. "I know it hasn't always been easy for you to find women who will put up with your... your lifestyle, but-"

"Mom, I didn't go out with Alex because no woman would have me. I'm attracted to him. He's quite handsome--beautiful, even."

My mother looked like she'd just tasted wine that had turned. "Fox, there's no future for you in a relationship with a... with a... another... man. Sex may seem important to you now, but in the long run, it's the relationship that matters."

"I know that, Mother." I tossed a piece of toast on my plate in frustration. "I was hoping that you'd understand. Alex makes me happy. Isn't that what counts?"

She didn't say another word until we'd both finished eating. "Perhaps you should see a therapist. I know you're not that way, Fox. Maybe someone could help you."

She knew wrong. My father, on the other hand, used to call me a faggot. He was an angry drunk and I always disappointed him.

I gave up on my mother. Maybe she'd accept if Martha Stewart approved. Or one of her country club pals had a gay son who was also a Nobel laureate.

I'd achieved my goal for the day, which was to introduce the idea. Alex would be in prison for another eight months. That would give her plenty of time to think about it. And if she still couldn't deal with it, it would be her problem. I didn't need her approval that badly. Good thing.

It wasn't about me at all. My happiness was irrelevant. What she wanted from me was appearances. To make her happy, I should remain at a safe distance, turning up once a year to be paraded in front of her friends as a career success with a beautiful wife. Give her grandkids. I could rent them from a modeling agency as far as she cared.

I couldn't imagine what she considered love. Nothing that seemed to mean anything to me. Quite the contrary, Alex had never told me he loved me, but his love was real. When he looked at me he saw the real, fucked up Mulder. It was me he wanted, not some fantasy I could never live up to.


** Krycek **

In May, it began to feel like my incarceration might actually be endurable. I'd behaved myself. I hadn't completely followed the rules I set for myself coming in. I'd started a few non-recreational fights, but I made sure I didn't get caught. The staff seemed to like me as much as they liked anyone. I'd volunteered in the library--and had been called a sissy for doing it. But shelving books and reading Robinson Crusoe to illiterate inmates was more pleasant than sweating in the laundry or the factory.

I was surviving. But a problem loomed on the horizon. From a prisoner nicknamed Harley. Harley was a big, repulsive blonde with a fat knife scar across one eye and eyebrow. He wouldn't have been attractive without it. He was fat, but well muscled underneath. I'd seen him give me a bad look a few times before I figured out why. Eastman.

Eastman was what passes for a pretty boy in prison. Not what I'd call pretty, but certainly lower on the testosterone curve than most of the other prisoners. He was slim, about 5'7", with long black hair and warm brown eyes.

Eastman had been flirting with me for a few months, but I'd mostly ignored him. He was appealing enough. I thought about it. My cock even responded a little once or twice. But sex in prison just didn't seem worthwhile. Sure I could close my eyes and pretend it was Mulder, but I didn't want to face the disappointment.

Unfortunately, the more I ignored Eastman's advances, the more he seemed to lust after me. He'd cut in the lunch line and brush his ass across my crotch. He'd sit next to me and put his head on my shoulder. I'd get up and find another seat. He followed me into the shower once and I had to hurt him a little.

I had no idea why any of this bothered Harley, but one day I caught his glance after Eastman had made obscene, undulating tongue gestures at me. Harley was simmering. Trouble was on the way. I supposed that Harley was fucking Eastman, but possessiveness seemed rather pointless since it appeared that Eastman was doing half the inmate population. But I knew in my gut that he would start something. For some inexplicable reason, the way I was treating Eastman was eating at him.

Harley stewed for almost a month. He called me a few bad names, but I just ignored him. I wasn't about to start a fight I was going to lose. I considered trying to get my hands on a weapon, but being caught with one was a sure way to thwart parole. Instead, I stayed alert and tried to avoid him.

Then one day in the yard, a fight broke out between two gangbangers. The guards were letting it run its course, but the C.O.s, and just about everyone else, were watching. I was bored and made the mistake of wandering alone on the edge of the yard.

Harley found me.


Chapter 8

** Krycek **

Harley made a crude verbal attempt to get me to start something, but I just ignored him, so he slugged me. I blocked the first punch, but not with complete success. His technique lacked finesse, but he still had me on the ground in a few minutes and was giving me a serious beating. I was especially concerned about a blow to my eye. The thought of losing another valuable body part made my blood boil.

I got in some punishing blows of my own before he managed to get my arm pinned. Through the haze of my one-eyed vision I saw a brown blur watching the fight. Scratcher? Maybe this was what he was waiting for, I thought dimly. A sharp punch to my head made me dizzy and I was swimming in my skull for a minute. Then Harley was yanked off of me. Scratcher disposed of him with two hard blows to the chest and stalked off without even looking back at me.

I crawled up and took a brief look at Harley. I hoped he wasn't dead in any way that would interfere with my parole. I had to get away from the scene, so I dragged myself to the gate. I hung on the metal bars, waiting for yard time to end. The guard on the other side took a look at me and called something into his walkie-talkie. I guess I passed out, because I woke in the infirmary.

My head hurt like it never had before, but, as I lay there worrying about it, I realized that if I could worry about it I probably didn't need to. My left eye was covered. I didn't believe in god, but if there was one, he definitely had it in for the left side of my body. I was queasy and achy, but alive.

Later the old prison doctor told me that he thought my eye would heal up just fine. I met his eyes with my one good eye. He was among the walking dead--not even a hint of anger or any emotion in his face. Scary. Worse than a lot of the inmates.

Harley never turned up at the infirmary, and no one ever asked me about the fight, so I figured my parole situation was okay.

The next day the grim doctor took the bandage off my eye. I covered my good eye and took a look at the world. It was a blurry mess, but I could make out a few colors. The Doc silently handed me a mirror and left me alone. I had to laugh at what my good eye saw in the mirror. My left eye looked like something out of a horror movie. My eyeball was coated with red and black clumps. I could feel them when I opened and closed my eyelid. It was stomach turning. The skin around the eye was yellow, except for the bruised part, which was black and purple. It was certainly the ugliest thing that ever happened to me.

Back in the lunchroom, no one would sit at my table. Who wanted to look at that while they ate? If I had a cigarette for every one-arm/one-eye crack I heard in the next week, I could have bought a fix for every inmate in Cumberland.

Harley stayed away from me after that. He wouldn't so much as glance in my direction. Good.

By Thursday, some of the black bruise had gone to green and it was an award wining special effect. I didn't want Mulder to worry. I even thought about trying to phone him and cancel his visit the next day. I couldn't bring myself to do it, though. It was my only hope for a few minutes of happiness for another week.

Predictably, the conversation began with, "Alex, your eye?!" Mulder turned white, his face pained.

"Yeah. It's okay. I'll be fine." I gave him a good smile.

"Shit. What happened?"

"A fight. Doctor says my vision should come back eventually."

He nodded grimly, started to ask something and then stopped himself.

I had a question for him. I wanted to ask him if he'd paid Scratcher to watch out for me. I almost did ask, but I realized if Mulder had hired him, he wouldn't have waited so long to stop the fight. Scratcher watched before he intervened. I knew it had to be Spender. The bastard would care if I died, because my data on him would be released. He wouldn't give a damn if I was maimed and I could easily imagine him telling Scratcher just that.

"What is it? You have a nasty look on your face."

I lowered my voice--a deeply ingrained habit to speak softly when discussing Spender. "I think Cancerman bribed a guy in here to make sure I don't get killed."

Mulder's eyes opened wide for a moment, then his face relaxed into a resigned expression as he came to believe it. "Who?"

"Big black guy called Scratcher. I don't know his real name."

Mulder nodded and I could see his brain working. He didn't dwell on it for long; we didn't have time to waste. He shook his head, as if to get rid of the thought, and a lock of hair fell right into the middle of his forehead. "Um, Happy Birthday, Alex."

Oh. Next week. "Thanks." I smiled at the memory of how we spent his birthday.

"I wish I could be with you on Wednesday."

"'S'okay."

"I wanted to get you a special present--some jewelry or clothing or something, but the list of things they won't allow you to have in here ruled out anything really nice."

I was fidgeting in my chair. My birthday was never a big deal.

"And then I thought to give you a picture of me in a nice frame, but I was afraid you'd get shit from the other prisoners."

I nodded. He was right about that.

"So I brought you some more books. At least you'll have something to do."

"Thanks."

After he left, the guard delivered Mulder's presents. Besides the books, the chocolate bar and his weekly tape, there was a tin of cookies and a basket of fresh fruit. Most of it would be stolen by tomorrow, but I scarfed down a couple of the best looking peaches and a chocolate chip cookie right away. In prison it was easier to get heroin than decent food.

I concealed the goodies in my cell and then went to the library. There was a desk in the back with a cassette player. I'd thought about asking Mulder to get me my own tape player, but someone would just steal it. There was never anyone in the library anyway, so it was a good place to hide out and listen.

"This is the June 3 edition of Mulderbabble. Hello, Alex. I've been thinking of you, like I always do. I had kind of a boring week, so I've decided to do something special for your tape. I hope you don't mind. Happy birthday.

"Last week when I got back from Albuquerque, I was fantasizing about you being at my apartment when I got home from the airport. That's where this idea came from.

"I get back early afternoon on a Thursday, but I don't return to the office. Scully drops me off at home. I open the door and step inside. You're standing in the living room, waiting for me, wearing nothing but a worn pair of Levi's.

"You look so damned good. Your hair's still a little damp from the shower. You give me the barest hint of a smile. The muscles in your chest are pumped from your workout. I want to touch you so badly.

"I toss my suitcase on the floor and start moving toward you. You hold out your hand in a stop gesture. 'Take off your clothes,' you say in that incredibly sexy voice of yours. I toe off my shoes. You're just watching me. Your face appears impassive, but it's not. Something very intense is burning in your eyes. My cock twitches at the sight.

"Locking my gaze on you, I slip off my tie and throw it on the floor. I shrug off my suit coat and toss it, too. I begin to unbutton my shirt, but I see your hand moving slowly down your chest, and I stop breathing as I watch to see how far it will go. As your hand reaches the waistband of your jeans, your thumb slides inside and just rests there.

"I'm so fucking hot for you, Alex."

He was hot? Shit, my cock was tenting my pants. There was no one around, so I unzipped my fly and ran my fingers across my erection.

"In case you're wondering, my hand is in my pants as I'm telling you this story. I'm stroking myself, but I wish you were here to touch me."

Fuck. I saw his cock in my mind... and coveted it.

"So you say to me, 'Keep going, Mulder.' My shirt is on the floor and I unfasten my belt. Next, I unzip my fly and my pants drop to the floor. Now I'm only wearing my boxers. My cock is so hard it's opening up the gap in my shorts.

"I reach for the waistband of the boxers, but you stop me. 'Not yet,' you say, your voice almost hoarse with lust. Taking a seat on the couch, you gesture to me. I join you there and you guide me over your lap, so I'm lying over your legs, ass up. Imaging what you might do to me in this humiliating position makes me so damned hard that I can't stop myself from trying to hump your leg."

Mulder, you sweet fucking pervert... I was jerking my cock rapidly by this point.

"You pull down my shorts, so they're hanging on my thighs. I feel more exposed than I would completely naked. Your warm hand caresses my ass. I'm so anxious for you to do whatever you're going to do to me that I start to squirm. 'Please, Alex,' I beg, not even knowing what I'm begging for. Something. Anything."

Mulder's voice was starting to sound a bit shaky. I hoped he was going to make it until the end of the story. If he stopped part way, I would have to kill him. Or myself.

"Your fingers tease my crack, gliding across my anus. You could happily tease me forever. I'm terrified that you'll only toy with me. 'Please, I need it so badly.' I still don't even know what you're going to do to me, but I have to have it."

I heard a sound from the other side of the library, but it didn't come closer. I barely cared. My hand was working my cock furiously. I was seconds away from coming, but trying to hold out for the rest of the story, so I had to back off and limit myself to rubbing my balls.

"Your hand strokes the back of my legs, pinching the insides of my thighs. Then I feel your fingers stroking my balls. I'm so wound up I think I could come just from that. But you're still only teasing me. I'm so desperate for you that I whimper.

"Back on my ass, your hand caresses me lightly and then it's taken away. Smack! You're spanking me. I'm shocked. I need to be fucked. I need you to fuck me." His voice drops out for a moment, then he clears his throat and starts again. "But the sharp pain of your hand as it strikes my exposed ass is good, too. My cock is dripping pre-cum. Each blow burns and I find myself enthusiastically anticipating the next one.

"I'm such a slut. I'll eagerly take anything you dish out. You're spanking my rear end and it feels so damned good. I know I deserve it. Your blows move around until my entire butt is hot. It must be bright red. I'm embarrassed by my helpless position and what I'm allowing you to do to me, but I can't stop wanting it."

Oh, Christ. I was suffering more than Mulder. I had to completely remove my hand from my crotch, which left me twitching with need.

"And then you stop. Except for your legs, which I'm lying across, you aren't touching me at all. 'Please, Alex,' I plead. Your only response is a throaty laugh. I groan and attempt to hump your leg again. I know I shouldn't, but I'm beyond horny. I'm certain I'll die if you don't make me come. My body is all sensation--and need--and waiting is too much."

That sound was coming closer. The librarian. But he was still at least an aisle away.

"After an eternity, I feel your hand again, but it's wet." Mulder's voice had now dropped to an unnaturally low, breathy rasp. Incredibly sexy. "Lube, I think. The cool, slippery sensation finds my crack... uh... and you tease my anus. I call out to you, 'Yes. Please. Fuck me.' Ignoring me, you continue to ... massage my entrance. It feels so... so... good, but it's just not e... nough. I groan pitifully. I know you won't give me what I need un... until you're ready. No matter... how much... I beg."

With a loud moan, Mulder cleared his throat again, followed by a long pause. I imagined him trying to compose himself.

"I start to push my ... uh, butt... my butt toward your fingers, trying to get what I want, but you don't relent. 'When I'm ready, Mulder,' you say to me, your voice almost cruel. 'Please, Alex,' I moan," and he did moan, "but I know it's futile. My two functioning brain ce... ce... cells are desperately trying to think of a way to get you to fuck me, but I can't manage a coherent thought."

By this point, he was fighting to get the words out. Some words were over enunciated because of his distraction.

Fuck. I was about to come, hands free. Lust made my head spin. Another sound from the room indicated that the librarian was moving closer.

"Then the fingers are... with-drawn and you're not... not... touch-ing me. My eyes are getting wet. I'm a millimeter from hy-ste-ria. Your raspy... vuh... voice asks me, 'Did you enjoy being spanked?' 'Yes, Alex,' I reply huh... hoping my submission will bring your muh... muh... mercy. But you continue talking to me when I nuh... need your touch. 'Your ass is very red and very pruh... pret-ty.' I'm sobbing, barely able to brea... brea...breathe.

"At precisely the... uh... mo-ment I know I will die if you don't tou-uh-uh-ch me again, those fingers sliiiiide down my crack and pene... uh... pene... enter me. An animal grunt comes from my lips. 'Mul-der,' you say, 'I want you to huh-ump my leg.' I am un... unable to do an-y-thing but obey... oh, fuck, obey you at this p... p... point. I shift slightly so my dick is squeeeeeezed between my... uh... body and your ... uh... thigh and begin to ru-uh-ub across your lap."

I had to touch myself. My hand grabbed my cock roughly and I jacked off desperately.

Mulder paused to catch his breath, but it seemed hopeless. I heard him whimper deliciously into the tape recorder. "Oh, fuck. I'm losing it... Sorry, Alex."

After a moment, he continued, calmer. "Those wonderful fingers are withdrawn from... uh...me, but only for a moment and when they return there are more. I've lost count, but it feels like a lot of yuh... uh... you shoving into me hararard and fast."

I killed the scream in my throat and bit my lip as my head imploded and I shot into my hand. I could see the librarian's head over a low shelf, but he wasn't looking at me. Mulder was still talking and it was a struggle to make any sense of the words. My brain couldn't comprehend and his mouth could barely speak.

"There's nuh... uh... no way I'm going to laasst long like this. Your fingers are as-saul-ting my prost... prosssss... oh, fuck, you know what I mean... My c... c... cock is throb-bing with each move... uh... ment over your leg. My brain is jjjjello. Fuhhhck!" He gasps like a dying man into the recorder, trying several times to speak again, but it's hopeless for a while.

The howl of his orgasm made me half hard again.

Finally his voice was working again and he continued, "Um, sorry about that, Alex. Where was I? Oh, yeah. I come all over the floor, screaming incoherently, trying to communicate something that cannot be described." Mulder's words were now languid and smoother.

"When my brain starts to become solid again, I'm aware of your hand gently stroking my ass. It stings a little. I moan my contentment. 'Thank you, Alex,' I offer wearily. You don't reply, but you slip a hand under my chest, directing my movements until I'm sitting in your lap. I try to kiss your mouth, but my lips end up at your forehead. You wrap your fingers behind my neck and guide me to your mouth."

It finally dawned on my post-orgasmic brain to tuck my cock back in my pants. I zipped myself up just as the librarian passed by, giving me a quizzical glance that made we wonder if he knew.

"You still haven't come, Alex."

Wrong.

"So, I'm going to turn over the tape and um... I'll finish on the other side."

Fuck. If I stayed for the second half I wouldn't be able to walk out of here. As it was, my flaccid legs could barely carry me back to my cell.

I returned to the library after dinner for side two. The anticipation made me hard all through dinner. I adjusted the headphones, turned on the tape and closed my eyes.

"Hey babe, I'm back. I'm not going to jack off this time, so I can speak a little more coherently. 'Kay? I hope you appreciate the sacrifice."

Sure, Mulder. Fuck. Whatever.

"We were on the sofa, as you recall. After a good, long kiss, you push me off your lap and stand. You take my hand. I struggle to rise, my legs wobbly as you lead me to the kitchen. On the counter is a big jug of fresh orange juice. Room temperature, just the way you like it. I lean with my back against the counter. You straddle my legs, open the bottle and hold it for me. As I drink clumsily, a good amount of the juice runs down my mouth and onto my neck. You laugh at me and lap at my face and neck. 'You taste good,' you say in that husky voice."

I opened my fly and took out my cock. Trying to delay the inevitable, I just teased myself with fingertips on the shaft and a few squeezes around my balls.

"We both drink from the bottle again and then you set it aside. Pressing your body against mine, you rub our groins together. My cock is getting hard again. I can feel yours trapped underneath the denim of your 501's. I love the sight of that long lump in your pants. I just have to feel it.

"Leaning forward, you whisper in my ear, 'Take off my jeans.' I reach for the fly and tear down the buttons. Wincing at the sight of your cock, I fumble trying to get the material over your butt. Finally the jeans are around your ankles. You step out of them and kick them away.

"My hands are nervously reaching out to touch your plump erection. I'm not sure you'll let me, but I don't think I can stand to wait for permission. Those green eyes of yours are blazing at me. There's a lustful grin on your face as you watch my struggle, but I can see that you're suffering, too.

"'I can't let you touch me,' you say sadly, 'or I won't be able to come in your ass.' Your words make me half hard again. I rub my front against you. 'Please fuck me,' I say, my voice almost a moan."

Teasing was no longer adequate. I began jerking my cock in a smooth rhythm.

"You clear the counter next to me and gesture with your head. I twist around so I'm facing the tiled surface. 'Bend over,' you rasp breathlessly into my ear. I comply eagerly, my elbows on the counter. I spread my legs for you and wiggle my butt in a way that I hope is enticing. I hear your chuckle, then you say, 'Use your hands. Open yourself for me.' My cock goes rigid and I can barely breathe, but somehow my trembling hands find my ass and pry my cheeks apart.

"I feel so painfully submissive to you, offering myself like this. It hurts, but I need it, too. And I know that you're getting off on my obedience.

"Just the feel of your thighs brushing against the backs of mine is incredible. The tip of your cock finds my ass and I know you won't tease me this time, because you can't. You need it as badly as I do. After the briefest pause, you shove it inside me."

Mulder wasn't even touching himself, but his voice was getting breathless. Fuck. I was so turned on I could scream.

"I love the feel of your cock in me. No one but you has ever taken my ass. I hope to die knowing that it was always yours and only yours."

Oh, fuck! I shot mindlessly, gasping for air. I hadn't planned on coming so soon, but I was unable to prevent it. After a few minutes I had to rewind the tape, because I failed to comprehend anything besides Mulder's soothing, monotone voice.

The rewind gave me a repeat of my favorite parts.

"...shove it inside me. I love the feel of your cock in me. No one but you has ever taken my ass. I hope to die knowing that it was always yours and only yours."

My chest constricted as I listened to what he was saying. I was completely unable to deny how much I loved the man, no matter how desperately I needed to. I hungered for him so badly that prison seemed a particularly a hellish torment because I couldn't touch Fox Mulder.

"Pushing me hard against the counter, you begin to thrust inside me. You don't bother being gentle, because you know I like it rough... being used by you for your pleasure. I moan. My cock is completely hard, but I don't know if you'll let me come again."

I was stunned by his submission. I knew he felt it but I never ever expected him to admit it so openly. Too fucking sweet.

"Your hand wanders up my spine as you slam into me. You rub my shoulders and then those fingers slide to my front and you pinch my nipple. It hurts, but only in a nice way. You alternate between the two nipples as you fuck me. Deep inside me, your cock is grinding against my prostate. All the delicious sensation is making me dizzy.

"'Can I touch myself?' I ask you. Your breathless reply is, 'Not yet.' I clench my fists to try to keep them from reaching for my cock.

"After a long, low groan, you begin to fuck me faster. I know you won't last long. Your hand abandons my nipples and slides to my hip, guiding my hips away from the counter. I comply and feel your fingers encircle my dick.

"You jerk me quickly and furiously. Making wild animal sounds, you achieve your release and I feel you shoot deep inside me. You keep fucking me until I fall apart in my own orgasm, shooting onto your hand and the kitchen floor.

"I slump onto the counter and you rest on top of me.

"That's the end of my story, Alex. I hope you enjoyed it. I'm hard as rock here, so I guess I'll say goodbye and go relieve myself."

Oh, Mulder! Please leave the tape running. Oh, please.

"Um, maybe you won't mind if I keep the tape going while I jack off."

No, I won't fucking complain, Mulder!

"I might not say much, but you can be sure I'm thinking of you. I'm taking off my boxers. My cock is painfully hard. You're not here to touch it, so I'll have to pretend. Maybe you're sucking me. Yeah. I'm sitting on the sofa and you're on your knees between my legs licking the head of my cock.

"You take just the head of it into my mouth, massaging it with your lips. Oh, god, Alex. You... um... tease me lightly with... with your... teeth... and then nib-nib-ble your way down my... uh... my shaaafft. Oh, fu..."

Mulder's voice disintegrated into a half moan, gasping attempt to breathe. In my mind I could see the tortured face that went with that sound. So beautiful.

For a while the tape was silent, but then he returned. "Well, that was... you know... I wish you were here with me, Alex. But I know you'll be home soon. I love you. See you next week."

The tape made a clicking noise when he turned off the recorder.

Life didn't seem so bad that day. But I missed him desperately. I could no longer pretend he didn't matter to me.

I listened to that tape about a thousand times. It never failed to get me off, usually long before the end. With practice, I could see every moment in my mind's eye. In my cell at night, I didn't need the tape, just the will to remain quiet so I didn't share the experience with my cellmate.

My eye was healing quickly. A few weeks after the fight, I passed Scratcher alone in the yard. I'd seen him before, but always with others around and he ignored me. This time he mumbled at me, "White boy got a good friend outside."

I mimed smoking a cigarette. "Not my friend." I knew it didn't matter, but I didn't want anyone to think that son of a bitch was my friend.

"Wants you alive."

"Hack off my head and keep it going in a jar, he'd be happy."

He laughed--a deep hearty booming from his belly. You don't hear that much in prison. He started walking again.

"Thanks," I said to his retreating back.

Cumberland was supposedly air conditioned, but it was still unbearably hot that summer. I spent a large part of it in the shower, using the cold water to chill my overheated brain.

Sexual fantasies fell away to cooling fantasies--smoothies, cold beer, ice cubes--not a cube or even an ice chip to be had in prison--and going swimming, which I wasn't even sure I could do any more, because I hadn't tried it since Tunguska.

** Mulder **

I asked Byers to come over first because he had a gay brother. It would be easier to tell him, and he could inform me in advance if Langley or Frohike would have any problems with the new (and improved?) gay Mulder.

I doubted that any of the Lone Gunmen would give me any shit about it, but I'd never come out to anyone before besides Scully and mom. Men were so touchy about the faggot thing.

Byers arrived promptly at 6:30.

"You wanted to talk to me, Mulder?"

"Uh, yeah." I passed him a beer. "Sit down, John."

Byers waited patiently with that calm face he always wore.

"I'm kind of seeing someone..."

"You mean you're dating someone?"

"Yeah, kind of. It's... it's a man. I'm having an affair with a man."

I braced myself for his reaction, but he just sat there. "Don't you have any kind of reaction?"

"Well, Mulder, we've known you were seeing someone for a long time."

"What? How?"

"Two toothbrushes in your bathroom."

"Uh-huh..."

"Langley's the one who guessed it was a man. No sign of anything girly."

I'm sure my jaw was hanging open.

"But Frohike was the one who searched the bathroom. Two safety razors--in the medicine cabinet, not by the tub where a woman would leave hers. Two different brands of men's deodorant. Under the sink, a large economy sized bottle of ID lube. No het couple goes through lube like that."

Chagrined, I struggled for words. "You guys don't miss much, do you?"

"We are investigators. Not the same kind as you, but we get the job done." He smiled proudly before continuing. "What we couldn't figure out is why you haven't seen him lately?"

"And how do you know I haven't?"

"The red toothbrush looks like it hasn't been used in months. The level in the lube bottle has stayed constant. Frohike thinks he dumped you, so you don't want to get rid of his things. Langley is more inclined to believe you dumped him, but just haven't bothered to toss his stuff. So what's the scoop?"

"He's in prison."

That got a reaction. Blinking wide eyes... "Prison? For what?"

"Murder."

"No way, Mulder!"

"Alex Krycek."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, John. I've been having an affair with Alex Krycek."

"Oh, shit. The one who..." He stopped abruptly.

I knew what he wasn't saying. The one who killed my father.

"The guys won't believe this." Byers pulled his lower jaw back up with the rest of his mouth. "Krycek went down for killing that currency trader, right?"

"Schweck. Yes. Schweck had ordered a hit on me."

Mouth gaping, he looked even more astonished. "Krycek killed the guy because he was after you?"

"Yeah."

"Man, the guys will not believe. This is less plausible than Frohike's idea that the Cancerman killed JKF and Martin Luther King."

I gave him a grim grin.

"So, Mulder... Krycek? Wow. What's the attraction?"

"Well, you've seen his picture?"

"Oh, yeah. Even a straight guy like me can see that he's a looker, but what about... uh, what he does for a living?"

"Oh, that. He's trying to get out. The Schweck thing will probably make it a done deal."

John just eyed me skeptically.

My face flushed. "I didn't exactly go looking for consortium assassins as a dating pool. That was unfortunate. But I really care about the man, John. He's warm and funny and so intense."

"If you say so."

"Look, are the other guys going to wig out about this?"

"The gay thing didn't bother them in the least. I mean, Langley thinks it's cool that you're counterculture and Frohike's thrilled to have less competition for the lovely Dr. Scully. But the assassin thing, well, I'm not so sure about that."


Chapter 9

** Mulder **

Frohike and Langley arrived soon afterward. Byers insisted on playing twenty questions to have them guess the identity of my lover. Given that they already knew it was a he, it shouldn't have taken so long. Some of the intriguing guesses included Walter Skinner (sexy man, but his verbal reaming was more than adequate, thank you very much), Antonio Banderas (if he'd go for it, I sure would) and Senator Matheson (did have a bit of a crush on him as a kid). Langley finally got it on question number 113.

The room went awkwardly silent.

"Alex Krycek?" he repeated dubiously.

I nodded my head.

"Whoa. Scary dude. Didn't he kill your father?" Ringo was a master of tact.

I wasn't about to answer questions like that about Alex, even with my trustworthy, paranoid brothers. "He and I have discussed his past."

"Shit, man," replied Frohike. "You... You know your life just doesn't flow like other people's."

"Tell me about it," I grumbled.

Byers jumped in. "So why are you telling us this now?"

"Alex is getting out of prison in January. He'll be coming here to live with me."

"So no more Sci-Fi night in the new millennium?" asked Langley.

"Hey, I'm not giving up my friends just because I'm in a relationship, guys." I was a little miffed, like the suggestion was an affront to my manhood. "We can still do Sci-Fi night. When we do it here, Alex might be around. That's all."

"As long as he doesn't try to kill us, I don't see a problem," offered Frohike.

Even Langley rolled his eyes at his diminutive partner.

** Krycek **

In September, Peterson's secretary helped me order theatre tickets for Mulder. I wanted him to have something to do besides mope on his birthday. He would invite Scully and she'd take care of him.

As the weather cooled, the prospect of getting out of Cumberland began to seem real. Some days, I believed I'd get out. Other days, I was certain I wouldn't. I didn't know what I would do if I did get out. I started getting moody about the whole thing.

Behaving myself like a good little con who was about to be paroled became very important. I didn't tell anyone my parole hearing was coming up, because I'd seen other inmates take advantage of those who were about to be paroled, knowing they couldn't fight back without losing their chance for freedom. I didn't anticipate this could happen to me, since I hadn't told anyone.

And then a bad thing happened.

One morning after breakfast, I was in the gym with two other guys. One of the C.O.s, an Arab American with a lazy eye, came in and whispered something to the guy on the stationary cycle. When the cyclist got up and left, I had a bad feeling. Then the C.O. spoke to the only other man in the gym, who also departed. I rapidly lowered my weight to the rack and headed for the door, but the Arab staffer put a hand on my chest and shook his head silently. He had the look of a man who is doing something he believes is wrong.

Fist ready to strike, feet ready to sprint, I prepared myself for something ugly.

As the C.O. exited, two Arab inmates who looked slightly familiar entered. I tried to step around them to leave the room, but they blocked my path. I punched one in the stomach and managed to get to the door, but it was locked from the outside.

"Let me out, dammit!" I screamed through the thick door, but there was no response.

The taller of the two Arabs, was a large forty-something man with a pock-marked face. He smiled repulsively and reached for me. The younger man had a shaved head and was maybe twenty-five years old.

I managed to punch the bald one in the jaw, but Pock Marks got my arm behind my back. I kept kicking and biting, but I was unable to do enough damage to stop them. A blow to the ribs made me lose my balance and they got me on the floor.

Pock Marks sat on my torso while his younger partner removed my shoes and pulled off my pants. Being held down made me shudder, and then my adrenalin went into overdrive. My body was writhing with tension and the utter need to inflict pain.

Pock Marks shifted onto my legs and Baldy managed to tear off my shirt. I scored a hit with my elbow to Baldy's nuts, but he was still moving. Being held down by them brought up some ugly memories that I shoved down immediately. I forced myself to still, to give them an opportunity to get careless.

If I could get free of them, I'd go for the fire alarm. The C.O.s would have to respond to that. Then I'd try to separate them and break Baldy's neck.

Cold fingers pried my ass open and Pock Marks got his dick in me. It hurt, but the pain was nothing compared to my desperate need to kill these fuckers. Baldy sat on my arm. I tried to concentrate on my breathing... a kind of self hypnosis. My mind went away, only checking in every few seconds to determine if I had a viable escape opportunity.

When Pock Marks was finished, I got ready to take out Baldy. Unfortunately, these guys weren't as dumb as they looked. Baldy didn't even get up until Pock Marks was sitting on my back. There was a brief moment where my arm was free, but all I managed to do was scratch Pock Marks' leg.

Once Baldy was taking his turn in my ass, there was no point in fighting any more. I tuned out so thoroughly that I don't remember him pulling out.

Two rapid knocks on the door and it opened for them. I put on my clothes, except for my shirt, which was unwearable. I returned to my cell as stealthily as possible. An Aryan man in the corridor outside my cell took note of my condition and tried to touch me. I don't know exactly what I did, but I heard the snap of fingers breaking. In my cell I grabbed fresh clothes and a towel and went directly to the showers.

If I allowed myself to think, I could only think about a teenaged boy in Minneapolis. And what had been done to him. I couldn't bear that. So I didn't think at all. I stood under the tepid water for a very long time before it even occurred to me to clean myself.

Back in my cell that night, I skipped dinner to start planning my revenge. With a parole hearing on the horizon, I had to be especially careful.

By the next morning, I had a detailed plan. But the next afternoon that same son-of-a-bitch C.O. stopped me in the lunchroom by blocking my path. His right eye glared at me while his lazy eye seemed to take in the air duct overhead.

I wasn't going to start a fight, so I just stood there.

"I know what you're thinking, Krycek."

I looked away.

"If something should happen to my friends, you're going down for it. You've got about three months. The parole board will pay attention to anything that goes into your file from here on out."

Fucking bastard! I stood there visualizing the ballpoint in his pocket and driving it up his nose into his brain.

"You listening, pussy?"

I met his gaze, nonverbally informing the slime that he hadn't won. My heart was pounding, as my body experienced the physical need to injure him.

He turned and walked away.

I wanted revenge, but I needed to get out of Cumberland. I allowed myself to give up the idea of getting even and tried to just keep thinking about getting out of here.

Three and a half months didn't sound like a long time. But it was. It was long enough to seem like forever. I stopped eating any meals except lunch, which was usually slightly more palatable than the others. I didn't go back to the gym. I even turned down the one-armed fights, much to the disappointment of the Cubans. The only exercise I got was a little running in the yard. I didn't fucking care.

A week after the Arabs raped me, their C.O. buddy came to my cell to get me.

"Psychologist wants to talk to you, Krycek." The man gave off a vibe of doing something he didn't want to be caught doing.

I refused to go with him. He tried to drag me off. I couldn't hit him or parole was finito, so I clung to my bunk. He finally just smacked me around and gave up. He couldn't ask another guard for help if he wasn't really taking me to see the shrink.

But two days later he pounced on me in the hallway. The only other cons in the vicinity just scurried away like cockroaches. He pulled a gun. I wondered if he could shoot straight with that one eye looking off at a cockeyed angle. I also had to wonder what the two Arabs were doing for him to make this risk worth his while.

He could too easily kill me and claim that I rushed him. Who'd they believe? I wouldn't even be around to say he was a liar. I felt like I had no fucking choice but to do what he said. He led me to a maintenance room. Unlocking the door, he tossed me inside. I landed on the floor and found myself looking up at Pock Marks and Baldy.

Fuck parole. I stuck a leg between those of the larger man and twisted. Pock Marks landed on his ass next to me. I nailed him in the ribs with a kick and he fell away, but Baldy was on top of me. I thought I could take Baldy. I wrestled him until I had him on his back and just as I was about to inflict serious damage to his face, I was pulled off of him and thrown hard against concrete.

I blacked out. When I came to, I was face down on the floor and naked again. Pock Marks was pinning my arm and Baldy was sticking his cock inside me.

It was easy to not be present, because my head didn't feel right. I was dizzy, even though I wasn't moving, and the colors in the room were off.

Afterward in the shower, I decided I had to get even or I was going to get raped again. These two guys stuck together, but maybe I could get some help separating them. For a carton of cigarettes and one of my chocolate bars, one of the Cubans agreed to separate them after dinner one night. He lured Pock Marks down the hall to chat about some drug dealing scam. I was hiding in the hall between the lunchroom, where Baldy was, and where Pock Marks was meeting with the Cuban. Whichever one passed by me first was going to get nailed.

But Baldy must have sensed trouble, because he appeared with his pet C.O. The two of them pounded the crap out of me. Managed to do it without breaking anything, but it hurt to move afterward.

I didn't leave my cell for three days. The only thing I ate was the last of my Valrhona chocolate.

I struck back again during dinner. In the cafeteria, I waited until the two Arabs were in the food line. Then I returned to the cellblock. In their tiny cell, I expected to find their dope easily. I was wrong.

While searching, I pocketed three hundred dollar bills I found wound around the inside of a deodorant can. It took me almost fifteen minutes to reveal the heroin stash, cleverly concealed inside the electronics compartment of a battered boom box. I hurriedly stirred in my little surprise: the pulverized contents of an entire bottle of vitamin C. I wasn't even sure they used drugs themselves, but pissing off their customers would be even better revenge.

No one reported anything related to my crime for several days. Maybe the vitamin C didn't hurt anyone? But they had to be missing the money.

After almost a week, a homeboy at the table next to me announced that the Arabs were selling bad shit. Half a dozen guys in the infirmary with nosebleeds that wouldn't stop... One of them had been burnt so badly that his septum would have to be reconstructed.

Still the Arabs didn't even look at me funny. That made me tense. I didn't like the wait. Two weeks after my nefarious deed, I returned to my cell and noticed that the Frank Herbert paperback I'd been reading was no longer on my pillow. No pillow either. The milk crate I used for a bookcase was gone. My shaving kit gone. My clothes gone. Johnson's clothes gone. In fact, a careful survey of the space established that there was not a single piece of personal property left in our cell. Fortunately, my Mulder tapes were in a locker at the library.

Pretty wimpy revenge. Johnson would be pissed about the disappearance of his beloved collection of dirty postcards, but I didn't lose anything worth getting upset about.

But the next day I was hauled into the office of the Corrections Supervisor. Marshall was a stout little man with really bad teeth.

"Krycek, C.O. Almani saw you in Hafasthan's and Jurud's cell."

I shrugged.

"He says you stole six hundred dollars and a Sony Walkman."

"It's not true."

"I have complete confidence in Almani, Krycek. If you confess, this will go easier on you."

A complete waste of confidence since the man was a liar and criminal, like the rest of us... No fucking way I was confessing. I shook my head. I could survive a few days in solitary.

"Fine. I'm suspending your gym and yard privileges. And, you'll have no visitors. For 30 days." He glared at me. "Dismissed."

What the fuck! I'd never heard of anyone losing visitation rights. I strode directly to the pay phones and left a message for Peterson. I stomped back to my cell and kicked the bunk until it felt like my toe was broken. Dammit, I'd let those sons-of-bitches rape me before I'd let them cost me the only good twenty minutes in my miserable week.

I was homicidal for two days. Even Johnson kept his distance. Peterson got back to me. It was legal. They could do it. Those Arab-mother-fucking-bastards took Mulder away from me. And I was left to fucking wonder if they'd kept me out of solitary deliberately so they could continue to rape me.

Friday morning at noon, I phoned the message service used by my best criminal friend, Ming Li. The only person I could trust with anything. When the operator told me that she was no longer a customer, I yanked the handset off the phone and threw it across the wall. The hard plastic shattered loudly as I ran from the room.

My escape option was gone.

By the next morning, my anger was gone, too. I didn't leave the cell for almost a week. Johnson smuggled back a little food. I picked at it. I didn't say a word. After a while he gave up trying to get me to talk.

** Mulder **

In October, I got a depressing message from Alex's attorney. He'd lost his visitation privileges for a month. Peterson said it was legal. She said we could fight it, but we risked having them press criminal charges for what they claimed he stole. She felt it wasn't worth the risk with parole on the horizon.

I sent him a care package of snacks and books. I mailed Mulderbabble tapes every week. But it wasn't the same. The loss of those twenty minute visits was devastating. I'd conjure up his image in my mind--Alex smiling at me. It hurt more than it helped. Because what I really wanted was to touch him.

He didn't write me back, so I had no way of knowing if he was okay. I told myself he was fine. He was more than capable of taking care of himself. Right? I spent the entire time trying to keep my mind from generating prison horror stories.

It seemed like almost a year before the ban finally lifted. I found myself getting sad on the way to see Alex. Twenty minutes wasn't a lot of time. It felt like the clock was running as soon as I passed the guard gate. I couldn't touch him. Trying to communicate with just words and eye contact seemed so empty.

I stood behind the grid, waiting for them to bring him out. He took one step into the room and instantly, I knew something was wrong. He was walking funny and his posture was sloppy. At first I thought he was sick. As he came closer, alarm bells went off in my mind.

He slumped into his chair. "Hey, Mulda," he said with a juvenile grin.

Pressing my face to the grid, I got a good look at his eyes to confirm my suspicion. Pupils dilated. Alex was stoned out of his mind. I needed to grab him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. But I couldn't touch him at all. "Alex, what have you done?"

"Wha? I'm fi, Mulda."

I shifted my tone to an over-enunciated, authoritarian voice I used with drug addicts. "What did you take, Alex? The drug. What is it?"

"Her-oin. 'S good."

Oh, fuck. Let Alex be okay. But there he was so obviously not okay. I pressed my fingers at the grid. He pressed back, but it didn't seem like real contact. "What happened, Alex? Did something happen to make you do this?"

"Don wanna talk 'bout it, oh-kay?" He gave me an empty smile.

He was hurting badly, taking extremely addictive drugs and I couldn't do anything. I wanted to pound my revenge into someone.

"Did someone hurt you?"

"Yeah, but fi now. 'Kay, Mulda?"

I couldn't bear to consider what had happened to him. "Look at me, Alex."

His beautiful green eyes wandered a bit until they settled on my face.

"I'm sorry that you got hurt, Alex."

"'S'okay."

"No, it's not, Alex. I don't ever want you to be hurt."

A part of me wanted to throw a tantrum. But I had to stay focused on Alex. He needed me and I had to try to talk to him, even if it was hopeless. I couldn't be sure he'd remember our conversation, but maybe it would get through on some level.

His eyes kept roaming.

Loud again, I said, "Look at me, Alex."

He tried.

"I don't want you to take drugs anymore. Can you do that?"

"Do wha?"

"Stop taking drugs."

"No mo' her-oin?"

His hurt puppy look made me want to cry, but I had to keep it together. "That's right Alex. I want you to stop."

"I try, Mulda. But feels betta..."

A knife in the chest would have hurt less. "I know it hurts, Alex, but you have to stop."

"I try."

So futile talking to him like this, but I had to do it.

"Alex?"

"Yeah."

"After prison, you want to be with me, right?"

"Yeah, you an' me..."

"So, no more drugs. Or I'm afraid it won't happen."

"Wha won't?"

He slipped away from me, didn't even seem to know I was there for a minute.

"Alex? Alex? Alex, it's Mulder."

"Mul-da?"

"Yeah. Please stop the drugs so we can be together."

"Huh?"

"Stop. The drugs. So we. Can be. Together."

"No her-oin?"

"That's right, Alex."

The guard came for him.

"I try, Mul-da. Fo you."

"I love you, Alex."

"Love," he replied absently, as the guard pulled him away.

I barged into the Warden's office and demanded to see a counselor. A young black man named James Enright came out to see me. Enright led me to one of the attorney/client rooms.

"What can I do for you, Agent Mulder?"

"Alex Krycek, do you know him?"

"Yeah, the one-armed fighter."

"I just visited him. He's high on heroin."

"Do you know where he got it?"

"No, I don't fucking know where he got it. He can barely talk."

"Agent Mulder, are you going to tell me what you want? Because if you're just going to yell, I've got other things to do."

I tried to calm down. "What happened to him? When he got here, he didn't even drink a beer more than once every couple of months. Something must have happened."

"I can guess what happened to him, but I can't discuss it with you."

"Well, can you help him, dammit? He needs drug counseling."

"Agent Mulder, there are nearly 5,000 inmates at Cumberland. Probably more than half of them need drug counseling. My last group session had eleven people in it."

"I'm a psychologist myself, Mr. Enright, you can skip the lecture. Would you just talk to Alex when he's not high and see if you can help him?"

"What's your relationship to Krycek, Agent Mulder?"

In case it might help somehow, I told him. "He's my lover. Now would you talk to him, please?"

He eyed me suspiciously. "Okay, I'll talk to him."

"Is there anything at all that I can do?"

"You know that as well as I do, so I'll skip the lecture." Enright rose and departed.

I was agitated the entire drive back to Hoover. It took Scully about ten seconds to figure it out. "What's wrong?"

"Can we go for a walk?"

We took the path past the fountain, like we always did when we left the building to deal with something.

"I just saw Alex this morning. He was high on heroin."

Scully winced. "I'm so sorry, Mulder. You must be really worried about him."

"It's not just the heroin, although that's bad enough. Something happened to him to make him do it, but I couldn't get him to tell me."

"It's not difficult to guess."

I used to joke about what happened to men in prison. Almost everyone in law enforcement has used it as a threat with a suspect or witness. It wasn't funny any more. I couldn't stand to think of Alex being used by another man. He didn't even like me to fuck him.

"If I have to think about that, I don't believe I can survive the rest of his incarceration."

Scully put her hand on my forearm. "Mulder, I'm impressed by the loyalty you've shown Alex. He's been incarcerated for over a year and you still visit him every week. I know how much he means to you. But I think you also have to accept that the man who comes out of Cumberland may not be the same man who went in. Even if you continue to wait for him, the two of you might not be able to be together again."

"No. You're wrong. I won't give up on him. I love him. Just because he did heroin once doesn't mean he's not my Alex anymore. I'll do whatever it takes to get him out of there as healthy as possible. And if the worst happens, and he comes out addicted, I'll help him through detox. I won't give up on him, Scully."

She nodded sadly and gave up the fight.

I don't know how I got through that week. Sunday was Samantha's birthday. I'm sure I was a terror to be around. I can't imagine how or why Scully puts up with me.

Friday morning, I drove to Cumberland with dread. A two-minute wait in the visiting room seemed like an hour. When Alex came in, he wouldn't look at me. I took that as a good sign. He sat down and closed his eyes.

"I love you, Alex."

"I... I'm clean, Mulder."

"I'm glad. Thank you." I waited for him to speak, to see what he wanted to talk about, but he still wouldn't look at me. "Look at me, Alex."

His eyes flicked up for a few seconds before looking away again. "I'm sorry." He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry you had to see that. And I'm sorry I did it." He glanced at me again.

"What happened, Alex?"

His eyes fell away again. "I don't..." He just trailed off and wouldn't finish. His face was closed, like it had been before we were lovers. No one--not even I--could make him speak when he didn't want to.

"Okay, but would you talk to someone about it? I don't care who, just talk to someone?"

He nodded.

"Promise me."

"Okay."

"What do you need, Alex? How can I help you?"

"Just talk to me... about anything."

"I was so worried about you this week. I didn't do much." Nothing to say, but I'd try for him. "Been playing basketball. I'm getting good. You play in here?" It was almost a lie. I'd spent the better part of the past week lying on my couch moping.

"There's a hoop in the yard, but I haven't played." His voice was leaden. He was obviously depressed.

Such a passionate man--it chilled me to see him like this. I forced a smile. "Well, you'd better start practicing or I'm going to beat your ass when you get out."

"Okay," he replied with a false smile of his own.

"Are you still fighting the Cubans?"

"Uh, no, but maybe next week. This two-hundred pound white supremacist wants to take me on."

"Be careful, Alex."

"Don't worry, Mulder."

I grimaced. It was impossible not to worry, but I tried to keep the dialogue going for his sake. "Still working in the library?"

"Yeah, I'm teaching English to a couple of the Cubans." He took a deep breath. "I... Mulder... I'll try to stay clean."

"That would mean a lot to me, if you can do it." My eyes were getting wet, but I didn't want him to see me cry. "If... If you can't, it's all right. I'll help you when you get out."

He shook his head. "Mulder, dammit. I'm fucked up. I'm struggling to stay okay in here. I might not be worth anything when I get out. Do yourself a favor and stop waiting for me."


Chapter 10

** Mulder **

"Fuck you, Alex. I'm not just giving up on you."

"Even if it would be better for you if you did?" The grimace on his face made that distinctive crease form at the top of his nose. I wanted to kiss it.

"Even if. Reminds me of the night you first seduced me. You're telling me to go away, but you don't want me to. Convince me that you really want me to forget about you and I'll try."

His eyes got wet, too, a barely noticeable sheen over emerald green. "I can't do that." He held his hand up to the grid. I put mine on the other side.

"Take care of yourself the best you can, Alex. It'll be good enough."

He nodded sorrowfully.

** Krycek **

I was clean. I'd only done smack for a week and a half, until one day, before snorting it, I realized, in my dim, little, drug-craving brain, that high I'd be an easier target for the god-damned Arabs.

It wasn't too difficult to stop using--I guess because I hadn't used it for very long. I was nauseated for a few days. Felt like crap, actually, but I was so depressed that it didn't seem very important.

Staying away from the Arabs was important. They'd had me a total of five times now. I despised being fucked. It didn't help that both of them were ugly guys I wouldn't have looked twice at in the real world. But I knew how to shut myself down so it wouldn't feel real. I felt cold and empty during and after. I'd get lethargic for a few days--not eating and avoiding any activity. Then I'd realize it wasn't as bad as having my arm hacked off. Nothing ever was. I'd lived through that. So I'd start eating again. No question I was a survivor. I'd always known that.

But it had to fucking end. Even if it meant losing parole. Now that I had no help with escape, parole mattered. So I implemented the only plan I could think of that I might be able to pull off without getting caught.

I tried for two days to catch Scratcher alone somewhere, without luck. I finally followed him into the shower, a dangerously suggestive rendezvous location, but it couldn't wait. "Hey man, can I talk to you?"

"Yeah, what is it, Krycek?" He turned to me with a cool expression. He wore only a towel around his waist. The towel looked fluorescent white against his dark brown skin. It was beautiful, actually, a radiant deep chocolate brown. He was a buff, muscular man.

I stepped close enough for privacy, but not so close as to seem like a sexual invitation. "You know that pock-marked Arab and the bald kid who always follows him around?"

"Those muthafuckas? What about 'em? They fucking with you?"

I had to fight to keep my face flat. "Yeah. That Arab C.O. is their buddy and he's helping them."

Something in his cola-colored eyes shifted.

I twitched and tried to hold my ground.

"And you want me to take care of 'em?"

"Yeah, Scratcher. I want them off my back."

His gaze had a distressingly proprietary air.

Fuck! I didn't want to prostitute myself for this. "I'll pay you."

"Don't want your money." His eyes flickered down my body, leaving no question as to what he did want.

I almost said no. My ass would belong to him for the duration if I let him do this, but anything was better than the Arabs. My jaw clamped down, fighting my face against communicating my answer, but somehow I managed a nod.

He smiled at me--a lecherous smile with a weird touch of boyish delight.

I suppressed a shiver. "Scratcher, I need an alibi. Tuesday at 2:30. I'll be in the clinic until 3:30."

"Gotcha, man. Your problem will be gone."

On Tuesday, I surreptitiously slipped into his cell at lunchtime. He joined me a few minutes later with a huge grin on his face. He pulled out his cock and waved it in my direction.

After an awkward gulp of air, I got down on my knees. Not surprisingly, given his size, his cock was huge. I managed to swallow most of it, taking it down without any foreplay.

He didn't seem to mind.

It was a work of art, really, his smooth purple cock. Under other circumstances, I'd have sucked him with enthusiasm.

Scratcher was an unexpectedly gentle lover. He didn't try to fuck my face. He took what I gave and softly muttered, "Suck it, man."

I was an opportunistic whore. I used every trick I knew to try to bring a man off quickly. His soft groans demonstrated his appreciation, but the fucker wasn't coming. Maybe he was one of those guys who needed more stimulation than you can get from a blowjob? Desperately not wanting to do anything else with him, I tried to work him harder, even using my teeth a bit.

"That's good, man," he crooned. Then he pulled out of my mouth and gestured toward the bed.

Fuck. I froze for a moment, while he waited patiently. Then I stood slowly and dropped my pants.

"You have a pretty ass, Krycek."

Lucky me. The prettiness of my ass shouldn't have been any of his fucking business. Suppressing a growl, I knelt at the edge of the bed and bent myself over it. This was more difficult than being raped, because I had to offer myself. It required every ounce of my fucking willpower to keep myself there.

I felt the intense heat of his body as he positioned himself behind me. An odd squirting sound suggested that he was using something for lube, but I didn't know what. He skipped the foreplay, too, and just pushed his thick, slippery dick inside me.

Scratcher fucked me slowly while I lay under him with gritted teeth. Every stroke rubbed against my prostate. My body was aware that it both hurt and felt good, but I just hated having this done to me. No amount of consent on my part could make me want this. The whole time, I lay there thinking that maybe being raped was better.

To my utter amazement, after fucking me for a few minutes, Scratcher reached around and wrapped his fingers around my dick. He stroked me to orgasm seconds before he came himself. Then he passed me a towel to clean myself up with.

"Uh, thanks." The man was straight out of Emily Fucking Post.

I pulled up my pants and snuck out of his cell in a daze, making my way back to mine. I left early for my physical therapy appointment. Let the clinic staff see me sitting there for a half an hour.

I walked back to my cell afterward. About forty minutes later, my cellmate, Johnson came in with exciting news.

"Hey, Krycek. Somebody killed a C.O. and two of those Arab dudes."

I tried to act surprised. Later in front of the television, I, and half the inmates in my cellblock, got the whole story from the gangbanger who found the bodies in the yard. All three Arabs were gutted with a kitchen knife. Their internal organs were removed and arranged all around the yard. Six eyeballs were lined up looking in the window to the library. Six bloody testicles were skewered on the sharp ends of the wire fence. Scratcher had played with the body parts.

I'd killed plenty of men myself, but this was so far beyond anything I was capable of. Scratcher had enjoyed the crime in a very crude and disgusting way. I was nauseated, but not out of any misplaced sympathy for his victims.

And I couldn't help but wonder how he'd pulled it off. Surely he didn't just invite the three of them to join him for an unscheduled yard visit? The sick fuck was clever, too.

I lay in bed late that night, dreading the thought that this man would be fucking me again. The next time he passed me in the hall, he winked. My muscles went rigid and I blanked my face. Much to my relief, he didn't seek me out right away.

After about a week, Scratcher appeared in my cell at lunchtime. I was afraid of him in a way that I'd never feared anyone before, but I tried hard to keep my expression neutral so he couldn't see it.

Scratcher just stood there smiling at me. Oh, fuck.

My voice cracked as I asked him, "You want me on my knees? What?"

A huge hand came down on my shoulder. "No, man. I'm not a rapist. You can keep your ass. We straight. Smoking dude pay me and I had fun taking out your enemies." He squeezed my shoulder and gave me that cheesy grin. Then he stalked out.

I was so relieved I could have peed in my pants. I was blown away, too. He could kill three men and use their body parts like sandbox toys, but a consensual exchange of sex for protection didn't seem right to him. Twisted.

And Scratcher had been such a polite lover. Truly bizarre.

I started going to the gym again and that increased my appetite. Soon I was back into my routine. Two weeks after the murders, I was summoned into the office of Corrections Supervisor Marshall.

He got right to the point. "I heard a rumor that you had C.O. Husseni and those two Arabs killed."

Ah, fuck! I had to wonder where they came up with that. The only person I was certain knew about my trouble with the Arabs was the Cuban who separated them for me. He wouldn't rat me out. "Huh?" I replied, concentrating on controlling my face.

"The yard murders. Someone told me you paid to have them done while you were in physical therapy."

"Was I in therapy when that happened?"

"Awfully convenient that you have an alibi," he said with a sneer that showed off his hideous, crooked, yellow teeth.

I shrugged. If he had proof, he'd use it. If he didn't, I wasn't about to help him make the case.

"I've subpoenaed your financial records."

"Good luck finding them." I don't have a bank account. Not in any country that would report on my transactions, anyway.

The little man tried to loom over me. "I'm watching you, Krycek."

"Are we done?"

After giving me a good long glare, which I ignored completely, he muttered, "You're dismissed."

I was anxious about it for a week or two, but eventually gave up on them making the case. As far as I could tell, they hadn't even spoken to Scratcher. Without him, they couldn't get me since I had an alibi. Parole, on the other hand, was probably screwed. Totally, fucking, completely screwed. Why would they let a murder suspect go free?

I called Peterson. She told me that she was optimistic about my chances, but I figured she probably hadn't seen the latest entry in my file. It seemed unwise to tell her about my specific concerns over the telephone.

I tried not to worry about the yard murders. They'd blow over. Maybe after I was turned down for parole, Mulder would get more realistic about us. In spite of all my efforts to send him on his way, it was humiliatingly obvious how much I'd miss his visits. I'd never felt like this in my life. The old, independent Alex seemed deader than an Arab rapist. Fuck!

Along with the other unwanted changes in my life, Mulder had wrecked my chosen profession.
I'd get parole eventually. And what the fuck was I going to do for a living when I got out of prison? I had finally managed to sever the cords that tied me to the Consortium. What next?

A counselor at the prison encouraged me to take his skills assessment inventory, but I could just imagine the results. 'Like many of our inmates, you're highly qualified to be a criminal.'

Unfortunately, I'd hit the Mulder ceiling in my criminal career. My brain hadn't sprouted a moral code. But I knew that as long as there was even a tiny chance of being with Mulder, I had to find another line of work.

I tried to do my own skills inventory. Careers in law enforcement? Private detective? Nope--a convicted felon can't get a license or carry a gun. Bodyguard? Nope--who would want a one armed, unarmed bodyguard? Security guard? Nope--background check. Plus, I'm not that desperate. Security consultant? Nope. Boring. Besides, the way I was caught for Schweck didn't exactly advertise my abilities.

It bugged me that Mulder hadn't said a word about my future employment. I knew he expected me to come live with him. Did he think I was going to just be Mrs. Mulder? Christ, the man could barely cover his own rent. I knew I should discuss my career with him, but I couldn't bear to use any of our 20 minutes on a depressing topic.

When I ran out of employment ideas, I got really desperate and found a career book in the library. I opened pages at random. Fireman? With one arm? Accountant? I'd rather be Mrs. Mulder. High school teacher? Convicted felon. Graphic artist? Talent required. Hair Stylist? Uh, no. Dog trainer? Well, I didn't have a snappy answer for that one, but it didn't seem like the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I reshelved the book.

Finally, I decided that I'd take a few months off on the outside. I had enough money to live on. I'd figure it out later. Probably much later. I stopped thinking about it completely. Mulder never did ask.

A couple of weeks before I was to meet with the parole board, one of the C.O.s came to my cell just before bed check. He made a show of cuffing me and even reading me my rights. Then he dragged me off to Supervisor Marshall's office. My heart started to pound. Not now. I was too fucking close to my parole hearing. Not fucking now.

Marshall stood up and came to me, kicking my legs out from under me. As I sprawled across the floor, he looked down at me, eyes hard. "We finally got the evidence to link you to the yard murders."

Something in his face gave him away... trembling lower lip. He was bluffing.

I calmed down substantially.

I never said a word. He roughed me up as much as he could without leaving marks he'd have to explain. Finally, totally frustrated, he had the same C.O. drag me back to my cell.

Peterson came to see me a week before the parole hearing. They took me to a private room. I wished I could've met Mulder there.

"Hey, Ms. Peterson."

"Susan," she said plainly. "How are you, Alex?"

"Not the best year of my life."

"I've been getting ready for your parole hearing. The Warden gave me your file. You've done a good job of staying out of trouble."

"What?!" I gaped at her. "There's nothing in my file?"

She gave me a smug smile, clearly understanding the meaning behind my surprise. "There are legal requirements about what they can write in your file without evidence. A brief and weakly worded mention of an alleged theft last summer is the only thing they documented. I don't think the parole board will even take it seriously."

That was a major fucking incredible relief. I expected to be named as a suspect in the three yard murders. They could have included an affidavit from a murdered C.O. about the theft, which would implicate me in the murders. I was one lucky convict.

Parole was a possibility again. A surge of hope was obliterated by a wave of anxiety. My life was... I didn't know. The only thing I knew for sure was that it wouldn't be the same life it had been before.

"I'm going to present your case. Then we're allowed two character witnesses."

I'm sure I turned green hearing that. "I can't think of anyone who'd improve my odds of getting parole."

"I've already found one. Hazelton Smith, the Librarian."

I had to laugh. Smith was a 50-something, 250 lb., bald ex Marine. His exterior was hard as nails and inside he was a pussycat.

"He said he thought you were becoming a 'fine young man.'" Huh. He must have been more clueless than I thought about all those j/o sessions.

"Well, I'm sure I can't do better than that. Two witnesses, huh?"

"Have you seen Dana Scully this year?"

"No. Plus it's too risky for her to say she knows me."

"How about your physical therapist?"

"See him every other week. Seems like a decent guy."

"I'll talk to him and find out what he thinks of you."

"Okay."

"You'll have to answer some questions from the board."

"I'll put on my best repentant face."

She suddenly got very serious. "Don't overdo it, Alex. The parole board sees felons who want out all week long. They know all the games. You're going to have to be the real Alex Krycek."

"Yeah, but why would they want to let him out of prison?"

"I'm serious. You need to be real. Earnest."

I groaned. "Earnest?"

"You can do it."

"I'll try." I rubbed my bad eye, which was a little dry and itchy since the injury.

"The panel allows Schweck's family an opportunity to speak. I called his widow. I told her that if she speaks, we'll present evidence regarding her husband's illegal business dealings. I think she knew about him. She said the family would not attend the hearing."

Christ! I was glad she hadn't asked me about that before she did it. I couldn't offer any evidence without getting myself, and probably Mulder, killed. I shoved down that mess of anxiety, thankful that this aggressive woman was on my side. "What're my odds of getting out?"

"Maybe two to one, in favor."

I gave her a curt nod.

"There's something else I want to discuss with you. It would improve your odds of getting parole."

"I'm listening."

"How would you like a job?"

My mouth hung open.

"I've needed someone for a long time. Like a research associate. Someone who knows the ins and outs of the federal agencies." She paused gauging my expression.

"I'm interested."

"The work won't be exciting. You'll spend a lot of time at the libraries and trying to get information out of the Bureau or the local police department. This is work I've been doing myself for years, but I've got more clients than I can take and my billing rate is too high for me to do it anymore. I can start you at $3,200 a month. You could even do a little investigation, as long as we don't call it that."

This was starting to sound great, so of course my skepticism clicked in. "Why me?"

Peterson nodded, expecting that question. "I tried to fill this job a year ago, but no one with experience in law enforcement wanted it. They think criminal attorneys are scum."

"No, just their clients." I gave her a wry grin.

"Look, I know you're not the most ethical human being on the planet, but I have a good feeling about you. You've been straight with me. I respect that. And... I... admire how you protected your lover." She gave me a stern look. "We'd have to agree on some boundaries. No drugs. No guns. You don't miss meetings with your parole officer. Do you think you could do that?"

I had to think. "Drugs. Parole meetings. No problem. I'm not so sure about guns."

She pulled back a little, her face drawn with concern. "You know you can't carry a gun without violating your parole."

I held up my hand in a placating gesture. "I know. But I've got some ugly ex-associates still out there. There have been times in the past when I'd have been killed without a gun. It could happen again, even if I try to avoid those people. I might take a chance on my own life, but not Mulder's."

She considered that carefully, and then nodded. "Would you be willing to sign an employment agreement that says you won't carry a gun?"

"Yeah."

"If you get caught with a gun, I'll have to fire you."

"I can live with that."

"And, of course, they'll revoke your parole."

"I understand."

She nodded and looked at me, just thinking. "So you want to come work for me?"

"Yes."

She smiled. I could tell she was excited. Excited to have me on her payroll. I couldn't believe my good fortune. "When can you start?"

"As soon as you get me the hell out of here."

The next day was a Friday. I couldn't wait to tell Mulder. In all those months in prison, it was the only thing I'd ever had to tell him that was good news.

He was there waiting for me behind the screen. I leaned in to him. "If I get parole, I have a job!"

"What?"

"I'm going to do research for Susan Peterson."

"That's great, Alex." He was taken off guard, but I could tell he was happy for me. It gave me a little hope that he and I might work something out together.

Mulder came to the parole hearing. I'd encouraged him not to--for his own sake--but the stubborn man came anyway.

My two character witnesses were great. I couldn't believe they were saying those nice things about me. I was very nervous about my own Q&A session, but I'd prepared myself. I was going to pretend that Mulder was asking the questions. That was as earnest as I thought I could get. I only hoped they didn't ask me anything that would require me to lie. I wasn't positive I could pull off earnest while lying. Not that I hadn't done it before.

The attorney who asked me the questions reminded me a little of Schweck, but I tried to shake off that image to keep myself from sneering at him.

"Mr. Krycek, what are you planning on doing with your life if you get parole?"

"Uh... I have a good job waiting. With Ms. Peterson."

"Yes, we know. She seems to think rather highly of you."

I didn't know if I'd answered his question, but he kept looking at me, so I continued. "I just want to get on with my life. Do normal things." You know, help little old ladies across the street.

He nodded, so I shut up. "Tell me about your prison experience. What did you learn there?"

Oh, shit. How could I be earnest with kind of question? "Well, I learned..." I fought back the temptation to lie and struggled to find something that I'd truly learned there. "I learned... that I'm not the worst person on the planet."

"And not the best?"

"I already knew that." Half the board laughed. I looked anxiously at Peterson who gently smiled her encouragement.

The old Schweck-looking guy continued. "Do you regret your crime?"

Fuck. Peterson should have warned me about these questions. Real. Real! Think Mulder. I took a deep breath. "I know Mr. Schweck appeared to be a good man. But he was not. But neither am I." I hoped that was good enough.

"If the victim's family were here, would you apologize?"

"I don't know. They never harmed me, but I... I hurt them."

"Mr. Krycek, you've served fourteen months of a three year sentence. Do you think that's reasonable for the crime of murder?"

I knew I couldn't argue a decent case for that. "No." The word came out funny. I swallowed hard. I forced myself to look him in the eye. "No, sir." It was a lie of sorts. Killing Schweck was no murder in my mind. Preventative maintenance, really.

"That's all. Thank you." His voice was cold. I couldn't read him. But after those last few questions, I wasn't optimistic.

It was Peterson's turn to speak again. She explained to the panel that I had been given a short sentence, because I'd killed out of fear for a loved one. I fought to suppress a groan and prayed to the board in my head not to ask her who, since he was sitting in the fucking room.

She reviewed my prison record and the testimonies of the librarian and physical therapist. She reminded them of the overcrowding of the prison system. Lastly, she said that she was willing to take a chance on me and asked them to give me a chance to make something better of myself.

I would have paroled myself after that speech. And I know better. But my Q&A had to be bad news.

The panel took a recess. They took me to a private room. Peterson followed. I was filled with doom by the time we got there. "Is there still a chance?" I asked her solemnly.

"I thought you did well."

"Are you kidding? Shouldn't I have begged to apologize to the family?"

"They knew you weren't lying. They see that every day. I think you earned their respect."

Shit. It seemed unlikely. But two hours later, she came back with a smile and a document. I gaped at the paper in disbelief. Then I saw my name and a box checked, "Parole Granted." My first thought was that the parole board must have really low standards, if they were letting me out. But I was going home in a week. I couldn't believe it.

An escort came for me. As we left the room, I saw Mulder sitting outside the hearing room. He gave me a silent, but jubilant smile. I tried not to smile back and give him away.

**
END Chemistry Book 2

21 June 2001

In Book 3, the boys are reunited, but Mulder struggles to hold on to his restless lover.

Next part in series

Feedback, please, or I'll have Mulder leave Krycek to have babies with Scully.
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