Exigency by Zoe Takashi & Louise Wu

Authors: Zoe Takashi & Louise Wu,  Email Us
Website: http://slashfactory.com/
Series: Exigency. Previous part: Yield5.

Exigency: Yield
(ek-'si-gen-see)
noun: urgent requirements, exacting want or pressing needs.

Starring:
Zoe Takashi as Alex Krycek.
Louise Wu as Walter S. Skinner.


Part 6


Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, 26 July 1994
9:35 A.M.

"Krycek."

I look up at Mathis' lipless and dour mug.

He drops a folder on my desk. "Case approved. Have some bad news for you, though."

"Yes?"

"You'll be working with Agent 'Spooky' Mulder. Sorry, buddy." Buddy? When exactly did we become friends? "It's your case, though, so go to it."

I watch Mathis depart before heading out to meet my new assignment.

Later, standing in the Bureau parking garage, I'm unable to believe I fell for Mulder's 'requisition a car' routine. Seems like I fell for my own 'gullible green agent' act. What a royal pain in the ass this is.

Keeping my real assignment in mind, I head after Mulder. It doesn't take much brain power to figure out where he went. The first place I would go for this investigation.


Sleep Disorders Clinic
New York City, NY
2:13 P.M.

Sitting in the Bureau car, I see Mulder emerge from the sleep disorders clinic and search for his cab. I get out of the car and walk toward him. "I paid off your cab."

Mulder looks exasperated.

"I don't appreciate being ditched like someone's bad date."

He turns toward the car, replying sarcastically, "Sorry if I hurt your feelings."

Jesus, I missed babysitting 101 in my American culture classes. Where do I start? "Where do you get off copping this attitude? You don't know the first thing about me."

"Exactly."

Smug bastard. Let's see if Spender's advice about Mulder was correct. "You know, back at the academy, some of the guys used to make fun of you."

"Oh, stop it or you're gonna hurt my feelings."

I continue, amazed I manage to pull this off without laughing. "But there were some of us who followed your work. Believed in what you were doing because we knew that there was more out there than they were telling us."

Something in his expression shifts. Maybe it worked. Apparently everyone has the goods on you, Mulder. You're going to have to come up with some new screening criteria.

Mulder's cell phone rings. "Yeah. ... Well, what is it?" He looks back at me. "I can make it in two hours."

He tries to open the car door and I dangle the keys. "Where we going?"

Mulder instructs me to head to Quantico. As soon as we're on the expressway, I ask, "What did you get at Grissom's clinic?"

He stares at me for a moment, then replies, "Grissom was at the forefront of sleep disorder research."

"Any emotional or mental imbalances?"

"According to his nurse, no. But he was working on some interesting experiments."

"Such as?"

"Attempting to alter his patients' dreams," he hesitates, then continues, "by creating visual and auditory hallucinations."

I mull that over for a second. "Are you thinking this had something to do with his death?"

He shrugs. "Don't know. But the 911 tape certainly supports the idea that Grissom was suffering from a hallucination."

"So, you're suggesting he may have been killed by his own research? If that's true, it's like-"

"Being stabbed with your own knife?" Mulder offers blandly.

I think I could put his head through the window and still keep one hand on the steering wheel.

He continues, "We'll know more after the results of the autopsy."

Thank you, Captain Obvious.


Quantico, VA
4:32 P.M.

I am somewhat surprised to find myself introduced to Agent Scully. And she looks much less than thrilled to see me. My mind whirls trying to remember the details I was given about her. The most significant thing is that they aren't supposed to be in contact any longer. So why is she autopsying the subject of our investigation? It belatedly occurs to me that she rather strongly resembles a whore Yuri purchased for me in St. Petersburg. Feels like a lifetime ago.

I am absentmindedly following Mulder when a horrible smell assaults my nose. Ugh. I clear my throat and look back to see twin expressions of exasperation.

No, it's not the body, Dr. Agent. It's the formaldehyde you stuffed him with. God, I'm glad I don't have to deal with the corpses. The killing part smells much better.

I manage to ignore the smell long enough to listen to Scully rattle off astonishingly improbable findings. His body believed it was burning? These two seem like a match made in heaven.


Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, 27 July 1994
7:04 A.M.

I have a message from a homicide police detective, asking me to call him at the precinct regarding the death of Henry Willig. His message indicates the death may be related to a case I am currently working on.

After we talk and he agrees to fax the case information, I wonder how he knew to contact me.

Reviewing the report, I have to concede that, in a very bizarre way, the cases do seem related. Another autopsy report where secondary symptoms of a trauma are observed, but not the primary. I really hope this strangeness is not going to be a permanent fixture in my life.

10:30 A.M.

I discuss the information with Mulder and he quickly finds the connection between Willig and Grissom. Then we head out to the V.A. Medical Center to speak with a man named Augustus Cole.

While driving to New York, I consider the case. I'm certain Mulder has some theory about this, but he hasn't been very forthcoming.

At the V.A., Cole's doctor babbles about his treatment as we walk to the patient's room. The doctor makes some odd mention of Cole disrupting the other patients' sleep. What did he do, bang on the walls? Mulder basically asks the same question and the doctor rather pointedly ignores him.

Then we discover that Cole's room is empty.

Of course. I have a premonition of how the rest of this case is going to be. Pick the strangest possible occurrence, and that's what will happen next.

More oddness at the nurse's station. The doctor insists he did not sign Cole out, but the nurse produces a discharge form with his signature.

Mulder turns to me. "Let's get Cole's face onto the wire." Then his cell phone rings. He answers and moves away.

Glancing up, I see Mulder looking rather unnaturally blank as he listens to the call.

Back in the car, he says, "We need to update the police on Cole, get them looking for him, too." He pulls up in front of the police station.

I get out of the car and realize Mulder isn't joining me when he pulls away from the curb. Fuck. Suckered again. I'm certain I could eliminate his reproductive options and still keep him 'safe.'

There's no way I'm going to be able to track him down, so I go into the station. We get an A.P.B. out on Cole and I discuss some of the case information with the police captain. About 30 minutes later, an officer steps into the captain's office. "Agent Krycek?"

"Yes?"

"A man matching Cole's description just robbed a drugstore. He's thought to be in a motel about two blocks from here."

Fuck. Mulder, you pain in the ass. "Thanks."

The officer hands me sheet of paper with an address. "Detective Horton is at the scene and is expecting you as soon as possible."

Guess I'll walk. "All right. I'm on my way. If Agent Mulder turns up, give him this information."

I'm about half a block down the street when I see Mulder's car. I flag him down and jump in. "Where were you? Someone matching Cole's description just robbed a drugstore in Queens, and the place is located under a motel just around the corner."

"Is he alive?"

"He was when the night man just saw him. So where were you?"

Mulder's quiet for a moment, then replies, "Following a lead. Have some information that another member of Cole's squad is still alive."

I point him to the next turn. "Who?"

"Salvatore Matola."

"How did you find out about him?"

At that moment, we pull up in front of the motel and Mulder manages to avoid the question.

Inside, I spot the man who looks like he's in charge. "Detective Horton? I'm Agent Krycek. This is Agent Mulder."

Horton guides us down the hall. "I've been waiting for you guys. I tried holding the swat guys back but they're getting a little antsy. For what it's worth, Cole didn't steal dime-one from that drug store, just a bunch of pills."

Pills? Was he desperate for an antihistamine? The sound of gunshots, followed by a scream, rip through the motel.

We race up the stairs. People are stepping out of their rooms with an amazing lack of self preservation. As we pass them, I yell, "Inside! Now!" We follow the chaos into one of the rooms. "Officer down!"

Someone's administering CPR. I look into the next room. No sign of Cole, but it's the same scene. Another officer down. It's like they...

I join Mulder, who's looking out the window. "What's going on here, Mulder? These two officers... they shot each other." What could possibly cause two men to shoot at their partners?

Mulder looks at the wounded officer lying on the floor. I can see he has a theory about what's happening, but he doesn't say anything. Fucking uncommunicative pain in the ass. Even if his theory is insane, I'd rather hear something... anything.

We accompany the officers to the hospital. I speak with Detective Horton, and Mulder is on his cell phone again. My best guess: he is talking to Scully. I have to wonder why Spender ever believed these two were successfully separated.

Walking up to him, I gesture that we need to go.

"I'll be right there, Krycek."

A few minutes later, we're on the way to Jay's Diner.

Salvatore Matola looks completely strung out. Like he's on drugs or hasn't slept in days.

Then Matola spins an improbable story about how his entire squad was turned into a sleep eradication experiment. If his story is true, it certainly explains his appearance.

He starts talking about the time his squad went AWOL. "We just made up missions as we went along, until it didn't matter anymore who we were killing. Farmers, women. Outside of Phu Bai, there was this school... they were just kids."

I have been somewhat disbelieving of his story up until now--although Mulder appears enraptured. "No one ever tried to stop you?" I ask.

Matola looks at me. "No, sir."

I glance away, feeling disgusted. I wonder why this bothers me. What do I care who he's killed?

Then another name is thrown into the equation. A Doctor Gerardi. The surgeon who worked with Grissom.

As soon as we're in the car, Mulder brings up Gerardi, insisting Cole is going after him.

I shake my head. "I'm still not clear why you think Cole would go after Gerardi."

"Cole sees himself as a kind of avenging angel. In his mind, everyone responsible for the atrocities, whether directly or indirectly, must be punished."

"Yeah, but why now? Why after all these years?"

"Phu Bai was one of the bloodiest massacres of the war. Over 300 children slaughtered. But unlike My Lai, no U.S. troops were ever charged. The 24th anniversary of the massacre was two days ago."

Too much information, Agent Mulder. I feel a headache coming on. His cell phone rings before I can come up with a reply.

I listen to his half of the conversation and easily determine it's the intrepid Dr. Scully. How convenient.

Mulder finally says, "Try to have a photograph waiting for us at the security desk so we know who we're looking for, okay?" He hangs up and looks at his watch.

"Security desk where?"

"Bronx station. Gerardi's arriving on the 7:30 train."

The traffic is hellacious, threatening our chances of catching Cole. We arrive at the station as Gerardi's train is disembarking. We dash inside and are met by someone holding a photograph.

I look at the picture of Gerardi and hand it back to Mulder.

He takes off, saying, "Stay here, I'll cover you on the side."

A few seconds later, I see Mulder looking at me. I shake my head, haven't seen either of them.

Suddenly, Mulder disappears and then I hear him yelling, "Federal Agent! Drop your weapon."

I'm barely in motion before Mulder starts shooting. I find him lying on the ground, people cowering all around him.

Oh, fuck. So much for my primary objective to keep him safe. I kneel next to him and roll him onto his back, looking for injuries. Nothing. "Mulder, you all right?"

His eyes pop open and he sits up. "Gerardi! Where is he?"

Maybe he suffered a head injury. "Gerardi's not here."

"I saw him. He was..."

He stands and I reply, "Mulder, you were shouting and waving your gun around, but Gerardi never showed."

"No. Gerardi was here and so was Cole. We just missed them." He looks around as if he'll find them behind a post.

"Mulder, if they had been here, I would have seen them. I'm telling you, Mulder, they weren't here."

He stomps off and I follow him--right to the security office. I guess we're going to look for them to not be there on the security tapes.

Standing back, I listen to Mulder directing the security staff. And the bizarre thing is, they just go with it. Never mind that he discharged his weapon without cause in their train station.

I walk up behind him and murmur, "Can we talk for a second?"

Stepping away from the security team, he replies, "What's the problem?"

"Well, you still haven't answered my question about what happened."

"I told you, I thought I saw Gerardi."

"Come on, you just about killed somebody back there. We both know I'm covering for you by keeping it between us."

"All right, what do you want to know?"

The secrets to the universe. Get a clue, Mulder. "Just the truth. There are things you're not telling me that I need to know."

"It's just that my ideas usually aren't very popular."

So far, I'm not too fond of your cases, either. "I told you, I want to believe. But I need a place to start." Proof would be nice.

"I think that Cole possesses the psychic ability to manipulate sounds and images to generate illusions that are so convincing they can kill. How's that for a theory?"

Oh, lord. "Puts a whole new spin on virtual reality, but at least it begins to explain some things." Sort of confirms my theory that you hit your head back there.

The security guard calls us over. "Agent Mulder, see this car in the upper right corner?"

"Yeah."

"It wasn't there five minutes ago."

Mulder looks intently at the screen. "Where is this?"

The security officer replies, "Track 17. It's a restricted part of the yard."

We dash out of the station and drive to a deserted part of the train yard. Grabbing flashlights, we enter the freight warehouse. There's a scream from inside. We search until Mulder finds a pair of glasses. Then his flashlight lands on a trail of blood leading to Gerardi. Shit. What if they were in the train station?

Mulder kneels next to Gerardi. "He's still alive. Put pressure on the wound on the back of his neck and radio for help. NOW!"

I put pressure on Gerardi's neck and call for assistance. I pause for a second, then look for Mulder. Sorry, Agent Mulder. My job is to keep up with you.

I follow the sounds of conversation until I make out Mulder saying, "What the military did to you was wrong, but your testimony can help."

Cole sounds agitated. I step forward, gun raised.

Mulder looks back at me. "Krycek, put down the gun and get out of here."

Christ, Mulder... are you stupid? He's got a gun and you don't even have your weapon out.

"Krycek, I said put down the gun and get out of here!"

Cole raises his gun, pointing it at Mulder. Dammit.

Mulder screams, "No!"

I fire twice and Cole falls. Mulder is next to him, and I step around, trying to secure Cole's weapon.

I'm aware of Cole murmuring something to Mulder but I'm not fully paying attention, focused on finding the weapon. There's a fucking bible laying on the ground, but no gun... anywhere.

"He had a gun." I'm completely stupefied. "He was going to shoot you."

Mulder nods. "You did the right thing."

The right thing? What the hell are you talking about? "Mulder, where is his fucking gun?"

Mulder stands next to me. I hear the sound of sirens in the distance. His hand is on my shoulder. "It's okay. I know it's not easy, but you did what you had to."

Does Mulder evade every question? I turn away from him, thinking, and answer my own question. There was no gun. How could I have been that wrong in what I saw? There are really only two explanations. Either Mulder is correct about this whole case, or I may have some sort of brain damage from my own recent head injury. I wonder which explanation is worse?

Police and more FBI arrive. Mulder stays with Cole's body and I step outside.

A paramedic approaches me. "Agent Krycek, you and your partner have come into some information that needs to be returned. Find it and bring it with you when you present your report."

The paramedic moves off as an officer approaches. What the fuck? What information? And what report? I deflect the officer and look to find the 'paramedic' has disappeared.

I don't have any information that's 'returnable' so it must be something Mulder picked up when he disappeared. It's either on him--and they cannot seriously expect me to frisk him for it--or... it has to be in the car.

I tell the officer I will be over directly to give my statement, but I need to get something from the car first. Mulder hasn't emerged yet, so I sit in the passenger side, and unobtrusively start looking while keeping an eye on the door.

It only takes a few seconds to find the thick file under the floor mat. Realizing this is risky, but my only shot, I casually put the file in my duffel bag stashed in the trunk of the car. Something I will find a way to cover if Mulder should get into my bag.

I join the police detectives to give my statement as Mulder emerges with two FBI agents. One agent stays with Mulder and the other moves over to me, brushing off the detectives, and asking me to start over.

Several hours later, we're released to return to D.C. Mulder is pensive and tense most of the way, presumably having noticed the absence of his file. He takes me to the Bureau garage to pick up my car.

I start to get out, but feel a hand on my arm. "You okay, Krycek?"

"Fine. See you tomorrow, Mulder." Walking to the back, I tap on the trunk and he releases the catch.

As I leave the garage, I notice Mulder parked the car, rather than going home.

**

Washington, D.C.
Thursday, 28 July 1994
9:13 A.M.

I'm returning from a breakfast meeting with the Attorney General, when Kimberly hands me my messages. "Sir, A. D. Brenner needs to speak with you. Says it's urgent. He's called twice."

I nod and she dials. Brenner is the A.D. in charge of the New York City office.

By the time I'm settled in my chair, the line is blinking. "Skinner."

"It's Brenner. We had an incident up here with two of yours. Have you already gotten a report?"

"No. What happened?"

"An agent shot an unarmed suspect."

"Without provocation?"

"Both Mulder and Krycek reported-"

"Krycek? Alex Krycek?" Fuck, not again.

"Yeah. Isn't he that guy who was stabbed by the clerk?"

I snarl at the phone, and demand urgently, "Were there any injuries on our side?"

"Negative. But the suspect was DOA."

"Was it justifiable?" Even I'm surprised by how much I worry about Alex.

"Well, the details as explained by Agent Mulder are a little... bizarre, but he backs up Krycek's shoot."

"Krycek shot the suspect?" Fuck!

"Yeah. He said he thought the man was holding a gun, but there wasn't anything except a bible at the scene. Weird, huh?"

I think I want to kill Mulder. "Are the agents still with you?"

"No. They didn't seem like flight risks, so I sent them home." He chuckles heartily into the phone.

"Anything else?"

"I just wanted you to hear it from me."

"Thanks."

I phone Unit Manager Mathis' admin and ask if Alex came in this morning. She tells me he came in, spoke to Mathis and got sent home about fifteen minutes ago.

Leaving my office, I take a walk to my favorite hall near the library. There's a dead end corridor that only houses some storage rooms. Taking out my cell, I punch in his number.

"Yeah?"

"Alex, it's Walt. I just heard about New York. You okay?"

There's a pause, then, "Fine." He doesn't sound fine, but I know better than to argue with him about it.

"I've got forty minutes free in a couple of hours. Why don't we meet somewhere?"

He sighs. "Okay. Where?"


Ernie's Bar
Washington, D.C.
12:10 P.M.

Alex is seated at a table in the back. The only other patron is watching a replayed football game on the bar TV.

A bored bartender looks up at me.

My eyes flick to Alex. He has a glass in front of him. I order a Coke.

Sliding in across from Alex, I examine his face. He seems relatively calm, but has dark circles under his eyes. I try to erase the tense A.D. expression into something a little more approachable. "Talk to me, Alex."

Looking at his hands, he shrugs. "There's nothing to say. I thought he had a gun. He didn't."

I make him tell me the entire story. Voice dispassionate, he recounts the incident as a series of cold facts. And he won't look at me. "We were in this warehouse behind the tracks. Mulder was talking to the suspect. The suspect sounded agitated. While Mulder was looking at me, the suspect raised a gun, aiming it at Mulder. I believed he was going to shoot Agent Mulder, so I fired my weapon. Twice. Later, we found no gun."

The only questions I can think to ask would risk putting Alex on the defensive. So instead, I say, "Would you look at me?"

When Alex looks up, his troubled eyes reveal what his flat tone sought to hide.

Wincing, I review all the lectures I've given to men upset over violence in the field, but this is Alex. I'm desperate to say the right thing. "It's never easy to kill someone, even under less disturbing circumstances."

His eyes widen and he quickly glances down at his hands. The set of his jaw is very tense.

The bartender drops off my Coke. I give him a glare to encourage him to keep his distance. Sipping the drink, I try to figure out how to get my intransigent lover to talk. "I'm easier to talk to than Dr. Reed."

Alex looks up and gives a faint laugh. "You're easier to talk to than anyone I know, Walter."

A truly weird thing to say... about me. "So talk."

He looks pensive for a moment, then drops his head into his hands, sighing. "I feel... inept. How could I mistake a bible for a gun?"

I put a hand on his arm and squeeze gently. Shaking my head, I try to offer what comfort I can. "Some of Mulder's cases are bizarre... There may be more to it. I don't know what happened yesterday, but I'm inclined to believe that you did your job as well as you could."

Alex looks back up at me, face taut with resignation. "Even if Mulder's theories about this case are correct, it doesn't change anything. Augustus Cole is dead. And I was stabbed with my own knife less than a month before shooting an unarmed man."

"That may be true, but you also provided key insights that helped solve the Bingham kidnapping and the Rose Killer case. The Bureau is lucky to have you, Alex. You're an excellent agent, at the beginning of a promising career. You have to believe that you'll get past this."

He stares at me, his expression blank. After a lengthy silence, he says, "Don't worry about me, Walter. I understand I'm on restricted duty until Dr. Reed has an opportunity to fix me." He waves his hand, as if that takes care of everything. "I'll be fine."

I wish I believed him, but I can't shake the feeling that something is terribly wrong in his life. "Killing someone isn't going to feel good. It still pains me to think of the first time I killed anyone. And every time since has been almost as bad."

He opens his mouth as if to say something, then closes it, opting instead for an ambivalent nod.

Lowering my voice, I tell him, "I'm going to the men's room. Why don't you meet me there in two minutes?"

Alex looks confused but makes a vague affirmative noise.

When he enters the restroom, I lock the door behind him and pull him into my arms. He holds himself stiffly for a long time before he sighs and relaxes against me. Without conscious thought, my hand wanders to his hair, stroking it lightly. "I want you to be all right, Alex."

His body is suddenly limp with fatigue, and he murmurs, "Okay."

It makes me smile a little. "You know, I was with the Bureau for six years before I had half the visibility you've achieved in your first six months."

Alex groans against my neck, mumbling, "This is not the kind of notoriety I planned to achieve. I think I'd rather have Mulder's reputation."

It's my turn to groan. I slide a hand to his neck and massage it through his shirt.

**

Walter's hands on my head and neck help me relax enough to become aware of how tired I am. This is almost more surreal than finding out Cole was unarmed.

At one point, I almost laughed out loud. It would have been a completely mirthless laugh, but hearing Walter try to comfort me about killing someone was just too absurd. But it's also painful, clearly illustrating his misconceptions about me.

The strangest thing is I almost told him the truth back at the table. A dangerous impulse I don't understand. Confessing to Walter is not in the game plan.

And now I'm going through the motions of letting him comfort me. Suddenly, I realize it's not just an act. I am comforted by having him here... by being in his arms. Looking back over the last couple months, I see that my interaction with him is always genuine. The most real I have been in over ten years.

It's frighteningly clear to me that this has to end. Probably, the sooner the better.

I wrap an arm around his waist wondering how long I can put it off.

I pull back enough to look at him. His expression shifts to one of concern and it occurs to me that he can probably see some distress on my face. And misunderstands it. He's so worried about my anxiety over killing Augustus Cole and, the irony is, I have absolutely none.

Not wanting to talk about it anymore--convinced the next time he asks, I am going to tell him the truth--I close the short distance and kiss him lightly. Walter responds very passionately, hand cupping the back of my head as his tongue caresses mine.

The kiss goes on for a long time. We seem to break away at the same moment. Resting a hand on Walter's chest, I ask, "When can I see you?" I once said I would never push him, but now that I sense the end, I'm not sure I can keep that promise.

"I'll call you tomorrow but, Alex, call me if you need anything. Okay?"

I nod. "Thanks, Walter."

Twenty minutes later, I arrive back at my apartment to find four messages. The first from Mathis, advising me of the hearing next Tuesday. The next from Dr. Reed's admin with an appointment for Wednesday. A vague message from Mulder asking me to call. And an unidentified, raspy voice--that can only belong to Spender--telling me to call.

I sit heavily on the couch and wish I could avoid them all.

Since I cannot do anything about Dr. Reed, I take care of the next most unpleasant thing and call Spender.

"Did you find the file?"

"Yes. I have it." And I reviewed it last night. It completely confirms Salvatore Matola's story, and then some.

There's a prolonged inhalation. "Does Mulder suspect anything?"

"Not that I can tell."

"I need a summary of the current situation with Mulder and any recommendations. Bring that and the file with you tomorrow."

Spender gives me an address and instructions to arrive at 10:00 A.M.

Then I call Mulder. He says he wants to talk to me. I try to find out why. He's evasively insistent and I agree to meet him at a bar in Alexandria in one hour. Why do people want to talk to me in bars?


Alexandria, VA
8:55 P.M.

I arrive to find Mulder seated at the bar, apparently already having finished a couple shots of tequila.

Mulder looks up at me. "Tequila okay?"

"Yeah, fine." I wonder what this is all about.

He directs the bartender to deliver the shots to a booth near the back door.

I slide in across from him. "What's going on, Mulder?"

"Nothing sinister, Krycek. I heard there's a hearing Tuesday. I don't think you have anything to worry about."

"Well, that's, uh, good to know." I guess.

Mulder looks at me for a moment, then sighs. "When Cole lifted the, uh, gun, did you feel anything unusual?"

"What?"

He leans forward, suddenly much more intense. "Any tingling, headache... any physical sensations at all?"

I remind myself to play nicely with others. "No. Why?"

Mulder ignores my question. "Okay, nothing physical. How about psychological? Did things feel surreal?"

"No, Mulder." I don't want to be one of your extreme possibilities, Spooky. "Why are you asking these questions?"

"With Cole and the doctors dead, you were the last person to experience the effects of their research."

I try not to flinch. Thanks for the reminder, Mulder. I still half wonder if the problem isn't that my head is fucked up from that injury. "Well, it happened to you, too--in the train station--did you experience anything... weird?"

He looks mildly peeved and shrugs. "Look, do you need to talk about what happened?"

Now this is about my need to talk? I don't think so. "No. I'd rather not. Let's talk about something else." I'd rather leave, but I'm supposed to be getting him to trust me. That does not, however, include reliving the situation with Cole.

"Okay."

The conversation rambles for a little while, then we talk about how Mulder got started with the X-Files. I decide this is a good opportunity to gather some intelligence on Agent Mulder, and try unobtrusively to encourage him.

It takes a little bit, but he eventually talks about the 'abduction' of his sister. I pretend to buy into the whole alien thing and he continues. Apparently he's had just enough tequila to loosen him up and he tells me about how hard it was to lose his sister. And where his desire to find her has led him.

And somewhere in the middle of that conversation, I start seriously disliking one Agent Fox William Mulder.


Washington, D.C.
Friday, 29 July 1994
10:05 A.M.

At 10:05 A.M. I'm ushered into a large conference room to find Spender and two other men seated at the head of the table. I was relieved of both the file and report a couple minutes ago, both lay open in front of him.

This should be routine. A complete no-brainer, but something feels wrong.

Spender, with his ever present cigarette, asks, "Do you know where he got this?"

"Not yet. But he got it. Which means he's either found another source, or another source has found him. Sir, if I can recommend something. You'll see that I have outlined several countermeasures." The sense of wrongness intensifies and my brain drifts to Walter. I feel like I'm harming him in some way. But it makes no sense. This report is about Mulder, not Walter.

"What about Scully?"

Ah, yes. The good doctor. I was clearly not given enough information about her. "Reassigning them to other areas seems to have only strengthened their determination. Scully's a problem. A much larger problem than you described." There it is again. The clear feeling that I've said the wrong thing. What the hell?

"Every problem has a solution." He crushes out his cigarette.

Except I don't think your solutions have historically worked very well with Mulder. Everything you do seems to make him more determined.

I turn and leave the conference room, feeling like I have really screwed up--worse than getting stabbed by Roberts or shooting Cole. Something else to be confused about. If anything, these inexplicable emotions reinforce the need to end my contact with Walter.


Falls Church, VA
Saturday, 30 July 1994
2:33 P.M.

The brisk double knock on the door is becoming recognizable as Walter's. I find him holding a small paper bag. He hands it to me as he steps into the apartment. The bag is cold to the touch.

I catch myself smiling as I look at him. "Ice cream?" It occurs to me that he has never come here without something in his hands.

"Yeah," he mutters, wrapping an arm around my waist and pressing me to his chest for a kiss. The tip of his tongue teases mine before he releases me, with a final nibble on my temple.

Walter follows me to the kitchen, where I refrigerate the Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Leaning casually against the counter, in jeans and a green corduroy shirt, his face assumes a meaningful expression I recognize from the office. "The word in the halls of the Hoover is that it was a good shoot, which means unless something unexpected comes out on Tuesday, you'll be back on the job."

I nod my head and cross my arms over my chest. It wouldn't matter if it was a good shoot or not, I would still be back at work. Everything about my career at the FBI seems contrived to me. From my placement straight out of the academy at headquarters in the Violent Crimes section, to the unquestioned approval of the 302 for the Grissom investigation. Judging by Dr. Reed's reactions, probably even passing the initial psych profile.

But what troubles me is the compulsion to tell Walter. That would be a very bad idea. I realize I'm rubbing my forehead and drop my hand.

Misunderstanding my angst, Walter puts a hand on my shoulder. "You're going to get through this, Alex." His eyes meet mine, his face an entreaty. I can hear the unspoken words 'talk to me.'

I'm worried about getting through this conversation. I hate that he's concerned about me. Because I have no way to stop it. At least, not without telling him the truth. God, what would Walter do with the truth?

How am I going to do this? "I know, Walter. It just feels," I shrug, "out of control, I guess." Half talking to myself, I continue, "I think I got on the wrong road somewhere, but I don't even know when." And that's as much truth as I can give you.

He watches me solemnly for a while, as if waiting for me to finish.

I sigh. "Walter, I'll be fine. I'm just walking on unfamiliar ground." And if I were not agonizing over how to end this relationship, and at the same time not end it, you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with me at all. I'm missing you and you're not even gone yet.

As the thought sinks in, I reflexively move closer to him, then abort the movement. Yeah, I've slipped right off the edge... completely lost it. Every minute I spend with him makes it clearer that this has to end.

Walter shifts closer, completing the move I halted, bringing our bodies within a few inches. "You know I'll do whatever I can to help." It's not a question. His hands come up behind me and he massages my shoulders.

Sighing, I drop my head onto his shoulder and murmur, "I know, Walter. It will be over soon." I wrap an arm around his waist before continuing, "Let's not talk about this. It's pointless." And I cannot deal with you trying to comfort me over something that doesn't even bother me, because I'm not who you think I am.

"All right," he replies in a soothing, deep voice. "Do you want to lie down? I'll give you a real massage."

Turning my head, I briefly press my lips to the side of his neck, then straighten up. "I always like having your hands on me," I smile, "but I think my tension levels are okay."

Still massaging my shoulders, he gives me a wry grin. "What would you like to do this afternoon, Alex?"

"I'm just glad you're here." Not what I intended to say. I pass my hand over my face and rub my forehead. "I don't care, Walter."

A hint of a frown shadows his face, but it's gone quickly. He opens cabinets until he locates bowls. Retrieving the ice cream from the freezer, he spoons some into a bowl and passes it to me. The he serves up another and leads the way to the living room.

I stare at the bowl for a few seconds, then follow him. Everything has become so strange I might as well go with it. What the hell, when my brain goes on vacation, I will eat ice cream. Makes perfect sense.

I think my life needs to be reclassified as an X-File.

Instead of sitting next to him on the couch, I sit across from him on the coffee table with my knees between his.

Walter kicks off his shoes and puts his feet on the table nuzzled against my hips. It's an oddly casual gesture for this very formal man. There's a playful look on his face, like a kid eating his ice cream, but he's doing it deliberately. For my benefit, I think, though I can't understand why.

"Have you been back on your bike since the hospital?"

"A couple times. Not as much as I'd like." I eat another spoon of the ice cream, then shift the bowl to the other hand. Sliding my fingers under his pant leg, I pull his sock down and wrap my hand around his ankle. Judging by the temperature of his skin, my fingers are very cold.

My lips twitch with suppressed laughter as Walter's eyes open wide. But he doesn't flinch. "I'd still like to ride with you... some weekend morning."

"I... I would like that, Walter." I would. It's just not going to happen. I glance down. My fingers are rapidly warming. I move my hand a little higher to massage the back of his calf. I wonder why we're sitting here eating ice cream instead of having sex. Probably because I haven't jumped him yet. I suddenly realize how much more aggressive I am about initiating sex. Maybe Walter's just humoring me. I catch myself frowning.

His fingers appear on my brow, smoothing, but he doesn't ask me to explain. When the ice cream is gone, he pulls me onto his lap, cold lips nuzzling the hair over my ear. I shiver, in part from the cold and from the awareness that I cannot just end our relationship and continue on with everything else. I have to get out of the Bureau, too.

My chain-smoking patron will make getting out harder. I'm not likely to get fired, so I guess I'm going to have to seriously screw up. Blow my cover.

Knowing what it will take makes it easier, but I still don't want to do it. Turning my head, I capture Walter's mouth.

His hands explore my back, then my thighs. Easily shifting my body weight, he repositions me so my back is against his chest, our legs in parallel V's. His strong fingers gently rub and squeeze my chest. The way he touches me now--with so much emotion--he's sharing himself. I can't even see his face, but I know he's experiencing intense feelings... about me.

But it's not real, because it's not me. I have lied about everything I am. I should stop him and tell him. But if I tell the truth, I will lose him anyway.

Even as my mind agonizes over the consequences of my choices, my body responds eagerly, tamed to his touch. I arch into his hands, rubbing against him, grinding my ass against his groin.

I know I should stop this, but I don't know how to make sense of what I feel. Every moment that passes that I don't tell him, I feel like I'm taking something from him. And I don't understand what it means. For the first time in my life, I wish I had some better concept of 'right,' so I could find a way to fix this. Because it feels so wrong.

It seems like a betrayal--staying pressed up against him, moaning under his caressing hands. But I am going to lose, no matter which choice I make, and I need this now... Need him.

His fingers open the buttons of my fly, reaching inside to free my cock. He gives a soft growl of pleasure as he begins to stroke me.

Helplessly, I moan and arch into his hand. Desperate to feel the heat of his skin burning against mine, I writhe on his lap--as if by rubbing against him, the clothing between us will disintegrate.

Walter's breathing is already heavy. I feel his erection under my thigh, and I grind against it. He rocks me slightly with a motion from his hips. His thumb brushes across the tip of my cock, smearing the wetness. His other hand slips under my T-shirt and rubs my chest. I struggle to breathe through the haze of pleasure.

"Just touching your cock," he struggles for air, "is turning me on so much."

The way he holds it in his large hand makes me feel like it belongs to him. Pressing me tightly to his chest, he gets very serious about jacking me off.

I used to pride myself on my restraint but my control vanishes when he touches me. My balls pull up tight to my body and I feel the tell-tale tingling at the base of my spine. Does he know how close I already am? I wiggle against the restraining arm, finding myself securely held. My hips thrust against his hand. Is this really what he wants?

Between gasping breaths, I manage to say, "Walter... tell me... what you want."

"Come for me," he rasps, rubbing my cock harder and faster.

My last distressed thought is that his words, more than his hand, are what bring me off. Then the orgasm rips through me and I'm lost to anything but the fire in my body and the warm hand pumping my cock.

Awareness gradually returns and I find he's still holding me. His hand cupped gently around my shrinking cock, he lightly kisses the back of my neck. "I really enjoyed that, although you came fairly close to breaking my nose." I feel more than hear his soft chuckle.

I've turned into a boneless, gasping lump resting against his chest. Too satiated to care about anything but the warmth of the body beneath me.

Taking a few moments to catch my breath, I eventually pluck at the arm across my chest so I can sit forward.

His arms wrap tighter around my waist. "There's no rush, Alex. I like holding you."

What bothers me, Walter, is that I like you holding me.

I've never been in a situation like this and I don't know how I should respond. Settling back against his chest, I let my hands rest on his forearms.

When I'm entirely too comfortable just being held, I wiggle against his arm, murmuring, "I need to touch you..."

Walter's powerful arms release me.

Pulling off my T-shirt, I wipe the semen off my body and some off his hand, then tuck my cock back in my jeans, leaving them unbuttoned. I stand, only to find my knees wobbly, so I quickly turn and straddle his lap.

His expression is calm, but his eyes are smoldering chocolate. I touch the side of his face lightly and, on impulse, kiss the nearly offended nose. Surprised at myself, I move to more familiar territory and press my lips to his. My tongue teases at the softness of his mouth while my fingers make short work of the buttons on his shirt. My hands part the fabric and then I'm caressing the planes of his chest.

I murmur against his lips, "Thank you, Walt."

"My pleasure," he replies in a very husky tone.

My fingers tease his nipples as I move my lips to the side of his neck. Kissing my way down to his collarbone, I try to commit the feel of him to memory... the taste of him. The thick tendon at the side of his neck rolls under my tongue, and I nip it lightly with my teeth.

I bring my hands up to push the shirt off his shoulders, moving my lips across the bared skin.

Walter sighs and very uncharacteristically closes his eyes. His hands are at his sides, offering no interference.

I bring my hands up to his face, carefully remove his glasses, then trace the intricacies of his features with my fingertips. For some reason, I feel... sad, I guess. Strange.

His eyes blink open and he watches me intently for a moment, with an affectionate expression. Then his heavy lids close again. I lightly brush my thumbs across his closed eyes, sighing quietly.

Shaking off the inexplicable surge of feelings, I cup the back of his head and, with a gentle massaging motion, encourage him to relax his neck. My lips and tongue explore the shape of his ear while I tip his head and let it rest on the back of the sofa. His lips quirk into a mellow smile.

I kiss a path down the front of his throat, to the little hollow right above his collarbone, while I work his arm out of the sleeve of his shirt. Leaning over, my mouth finds the contours of his biceps, down to his elbow, before I lift his hand and bring it to my lips. Following the lines on his palm with my tongue, I work my way to his fingers, sucking each one individually into my mouth. He utters a faint groan.

I'm filled with the taste of him--clean and slightly salty. Taking a shuddering breath--feeling entirely too aroused by touching him--I lower his hand and move to the other side. Again working the shirt off his arm, then exploring the skin, working my way to his hand.

Unable to go any further in this position, I shift my legs between his and slide to the floor between his knees. Leaning up, I bring my mouth to his chest and set about learning every taste and texture. I rub my cheek against his chest, feeling the hair tickle my skin, then capture a nipple in my mouth. I suck on it until it's hard, then roll it against my tongue.

When he speaks, his voice is low and aroused. "It's a good thing I'm more patient than you are."

Laughing softly, I think he's absolutely correct.

Time is meaningless as I thoroughly explore his chest, returning again and again to his nipples. Then I move down, loosening his belt and opening his pants so I can explore his navel and abdomen.

Walter lifts his hips, encouraging me to remove his pants. I free his hard cock from his briefs then quickly get rid of his clothes. I'm suddenly distracted by his feet. He has nice feet. I pause to rub them, then lean down to pass my tongue across the arch of each foot.

"Mmm," he whispers, his body slumping a bit on the couch.

Abandoning his feet, I kneel up between his legs. Unable to resist, I pass my tongue over the tip of his cock, enjoying his taste before moving back to his abdomen. My lips seek out the different texture of the scars on his stomach.

Muttering, "Patience... what patience?" he strokes my shoulder idly with the tips of his fingers. I smile against his skin.

The scent from his groin--slightly muskier and spicy--distracts me and makes it hard to focus. Giving up the battle, I catch myself moaning as I move my head down to his crotch.

"Oh yeah," he says in breathless encouragement.

Using long sweeping strokes of my tongue, I lavish attention on his cock. I want him in my mouth, but I wait, instead swirling my tongue around the head, then licking the length of him again.

Walter's hips tense, as if he's restraining himself.

Breathing hard, I pull back and lift his legs, setting his feet on the coffee table behind me. He makes a sound that is almost a whimper. My hands are at his hips, pulling slightly, encouraging him to slide down the sofa until his ass is resting at the edge.

Kneeling between his legs, I stroke my hand along the inside of one thigh, then follow it with my mouth, tasting him until my cheek brushes against his balls. Switching to the other leg, I mark the same path until, once again, my cheek is brushing against his scrotum.

Expecting him to rush me along, I am surprised by his placidness. Only his accelerated breathing gives away his need.

Turning my head, I pull one of his balls into my mouth. I apply a little bit of suction then explore the contours with my tongue. Releasing it, I capture the other, licking it and tasting his skin.

I breathe deeply, enjoying his scent, then transfer his balls into my hand. Caressing with my fingers, I lift them up slightly and move my mouth further down. I tongue the sensitive spot just behind his scrotum. I'm so close to his anus... I need to rim him. It's a little harder in this position. I nudge his leg then bring my other hand up, fingertips stroking the sensitive opening.

As if he is reading my mind, he lifts his butt and shifts further forward on the couch.

Sighing with pleasure, I shift my position to bring my head a little lower. This draws the denim of my jeans tightly across my cock, making me aware of the hard throbbing ache. I get so turned on just touching him.

My tongue flicks out to stroke the puckered skin.

A long slow moan comes from deep in his chest.

The hand still holding his balls trembles with my desire for him, as I work my tongue feverishly over his anus. I explore the opening, feeling it relax for me so I can press my tongue inside. The angle is different and I can only press in a little.

I work the tip of my tongue in his ass until my tongue starts to get sore, then resume licking his anus.

"Oh, god, Alex."

I feel like I'm going crazy--like there's not enough of him to satisfy my need to touch... to taste.

Backing off, I thoroughly wet one finger with saliva and work it carefully into his already slick asshole. I've only done this with him once, but I remember exactly where his prostate is. I rub it with the tip of my finger.

Suddenly, Walter's tightly held control is gone. His body shifts on the couch and his hips begin thrusting into the air.

I kneel up to take his cock in my mouth.

I think to take it slow, but at the first taste of his pre-cum, I lose patience and take him all the way down.

In about a millisecond, he's fucking my face, a hoarse groan matching the rhythm of his thrusts. His hand grasps along my body until it finds a hold in my hair.

I feel a deep satisfaction that resonates in my cock, seeing him destroyed with pleasure.

Applying only suction and pressure, I let him control the penetration of his cock--let him decide when to send the head sliding into my throat.

The taste and feel of his hard cock fucking my mouth is so consuming, it's hard to concentrate. Added to that is the mind-numbing effect of the pull on my hair. But I manage to keep my finger rubbing continuously against his prostate.

Walter's movements become less coordinated. The hand in my hair pulls hard enough to hurt. Then with a loud, low cry, his body tenses and he begins to come in my throat.

I swallow convulsively, struggling to back off a little so I can taste him as his orgasm runs its course. As the spasms subside into trembling, I remove the pressure from his prostate and slowly slide my finger out of his ass.

His body twitches then completely relaxes onto the sofa. Fingers release my hair. Still trying to catch his breath, he mumbles, "Sorry."

I don't know what he's apologizing for, but I'm not quite willing to release his cock yet, so I stroke his thigh lightly to reassure him. Then I lick his cock clean, enjoying the occasional twitches and tremors in his body.

Eventually, I let it slide out of my mouth, then crawl under one of his legs so I can stand. Getting to my feet causes my jeans to rasp almost painfully against my cock. I bite my lip briefly before moving into the kitchen.

I wash up quickly, then grab a glass of water and take it to Walter. His dazed eyes blink at me, then his glance wanders south. "You're hard again," he says in a languid voice.

Sitting next to him, I nuzzle my face near his armpit. My cock throbs as my brain processes his scent. I murmur against his skin, "Yeah, well... touching you gets me hot." I hand him the water and contemplate how urgent my state of arousal is. Pretty damned exigent, actually.

Walter can barely hold the glass of water. I smile thinking how my ministrations brought him to this boneless state.

I stand up and shuck my jeans, quickly deciding what to do. Walter likes a little bit of a show. I lie back on the couch and let one leg rest on his lap, hooking the other over the back of the couch. I'm completely open to his gaze.

I wrap my hand around my cock, feeling it pulse. This isn't going to take long.

Looking intently at Walter, I pump my hand on my cock and quietly say, "The night we talked while you were in Kansas City... you told me to think about you fucking my face while I beat off."

Walter's mouth falls open in dazed astonishment.

My eyes shut briefly as sensation and memories assault my senses. I take a shuddering breath and continue, "I did. As soon as you hung up, I lay on the couch--just like this--and jerked off." Gasping, my back arches as my orgasm gets closer.

It becomes hard to talk, my words getting terse and breathless. "Thought about... you holding my head... shoving your cock down my throat." I groan, thrusting up into my hand. "Thought about... way... you taste... smell." The tingle in my spine tells me I have only seconds. "I get... so hard touching... you, Walt." My orgasm rips through me as I say his name. Hips jerking, back arching, I come on my stomach and chest.

His fingers tease my belly, as my brain comes back to me. Just like the first time I jacked off for him, he dabs at my semen and touches it to his lips, his eyes never leaving my face. Then he presses those fingers to my lips.

I suck them into my mouth, searching for the taste of his skin beneath my salty semen.

Walter says with a sensual smile, "You know I would have taken care of your hard-on for you, but I always appreciate the show."

Releasing his fingers, I reply, "Mm hmm... It's better with you here, and I like entertaining you."

He taps his chest with his hand and I immediately shift to rest my head over his heart. My hands stroke his skin, then I just hold on to him. I feel completely relaxed and completely in this moment. I'm grateful to have put all the worrisome problems out of sight. For a little while.


Falls Church, VA
Sunday, 31 July 1994
9:14 A.M.

I'm supposed to meet with Morgan at noon today. He wouldn't give me much detail about the job he has for me, but the 'consulting' fee he offered was huge. I'm expecting a proportional degree of difficulty.

The timing of this job is convenient. I need to talk to Morgan anyway. To establish some contingency plans for when this situation goes south. Morgan could be more than useful. I should have addressed these issues long before now.

But, before I see him, I need to take care of a few more prosaic matters. Like storing a few things and getting a couple safe-deposit boxes. I have to struggle to keep my thoughts away from Walter as I carefully work my way through the apartment. I pick out the things I need to have.

The primary thing is the locked case from my closet with my weapons.

Then, I look for the things I don't want to lose. There's surprisingly very little. A couple books and an envelope.

For some reason, I open the envelope and pull out two photos. My eyes trace the details in the first. Then, reluctantly, I look at the second. After a few moments, I thrust them both into their envelope.

I must be feeling masochistic today.


Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, 3 August 1994
8:52 A.M.

Traffic on the beltway was unusually light this morning, and I arrive at Dr. Reed's a couple minutes early. While sitting in one of the two chairs in her small waiting room, I consider yesterday's hearing. As expected, everything went off without a hitch. Lots of procedures and questions but, at the end, the shooting was ruled justifiable, and I was returned to normal duty.

Now for the hard part. The shrink. I have a feeling I barely got past her after the stabbing. I wonder what she's going to do to me over the death of Augustus Cole.

Dr. Reed appears and ushers me into her office. As she takes her seat, she gives me a chagrinned smile. "I've seen entirely too much of you this past month."

"On this point, I think we are in complete agreement." I'd be perfectly happy to never see you again.

She chuckles, removing a piece of lint from her tie. This one I recognize as Snoopy on his doghouse. "I assume this is the first time you've ever killed a man, Agent Krycek?"

No, doctor. I lost count a few years ago. I glance down at my hands and briefly bite my lower lip. I will not laugh. "Yes."

"Agent Mulder tells me you were very upset at the scene. Please tell me about that."

Mulder, is there any way you could keep your mouth shut? I rub my hand over my face, as if I can scrub away the irritation. "Doctor, I don't even know what you're asking. I shot a man I thought had a gun pointed at another agent. Therefore, I expected to find a gun. There wasn't one. It was a little frantic for a while, but I wasn't running around hysterically pulling my hair out."

She glares at me for a moment, apparently waiting for me to say something. I haven't a clue what she would find appropriate. Finally, she sighs and asks, "Well, how do you feel about that, Agent Krycek?"

"About what? Getting upset? I think it was a perfectly normal reaction."

Dr. Reed drums her fingertips on her notepad, looking annoyed. "Are you being obtuse on purpose? I think you're bright enough to figure out what these questions mean."

I really would like to strangle this woman. "No, doctor, I am not being deliberately obtuse. I am, however, quite literal. As I'm sure you've both observed and noted. So how do I feel about what exactly?"

Trying to suppress an eye roll, she replies, "How do you feel about shooting an unarmed man?"

"I find it disturbing." That seems like an okay response.

"Agent Krycek, why don't you relax your barriers just a bit and just talk to me about that? Killing an unarmed man..."

"I..." I'm floundering. I don't have any feelings about it at all, and I'm not sure which ones I should manufacture. "I wish it hadn't happened." I hear people say that a lot.

"Have you been thinking about Mr. Cole these past few days?"

Not unless someone brings it up, which happens way too frequently in my opinion. "Sometimes."

"Tell me what you think when you think about him."

"I think it must have been a real bitch to not have slept for 24 years."

She glances at the window for a moment. "Describe how the shooting fits within your own personal moral beliefs."

I have no idea what she's talking about. "Well, I... I mean..." I break off and glance at my hands. I don't understand the question, but I think telling her that would be a bad idea.

She eyes me thoughtfully. "Do you consider killing Cole a mistake?"

"Yes, it was a mistake."

"Do you believe taking Cole's life under these circumstances was morally wrong?"

I'm confused again. "Doctor, I'm not sure I understand the meaning behind your question, but I believe I was performing my duty as an FBI agent in protecting another agent. I don't know how I could consider that morally wrong." The problem is, I don't know if it should be morally wrong or not.

"How do you deal with your emotions when you're upset?"

"What do you mean?"

"If you're angry at someone or something, how do you cope with the feeling? Do you go someplace quiet to think, stop at a bar for a few drinks, call up a friend to chat, or write in a journal?"

I struggle to think of the last time I got angry. Oh, yeah. Jimmy. Hit him over the head with my gun, took care of the hit, then left him unconscious in a parking lot. I wonder what the doctor would think of that. Better come up with something else. "I, uh, don't get angry very often. I suppose I go riding or something."

"Motorcycle?"

"Bicycle."

"Has your male friend been a source of support for you?"

"Yes." Oops. It belatedly occurs to me that I was supposed to answer as if I were seeing Nick.

"Any changes in your eating or sleep habits?"

Why is this woman so obsessed with my bedtime and breakfast menu? "Normal now. Didn't sleep well or eat much for a couple of days." Because I thought I must truly have brain damage to see a gun where there was actually a bible.

"Are you getting enough exercise?"

"Yes."

"Do you think the world might be a better place if something happened to you?"

My brain doesn't work this way, doctor. I try to come up with the right thing to say. "No."

"Have you thought about harming yourself in any way?"

Other than leaving Walter? "No."

"Yours is a profession where mistakes are made. Some of them will affect life and death. It's like an E.R. doctor... not all your judgment calls will be perfect. Do you think you can live with your mistakes, Agent?"

"I don't believe I've been given a choice in the matter. You choose your path, and live with it."

She shakes her head, obviously appalled at the state of my emotional health. I can live with that, too.

I manage to make it through the rest of the visit without any more disastrous questions. I think she's given up.

Leaving her office, I head out in search of Mulder. Mathis informed me yesterday that I am semi-officially assigned to continue working with him.

Rounding the corner, I see Spender stepping out of one of the section chief's office, talking with a couple of unit managers. I barely manage to keep my feet in motion and continue past him. His eyes flick to me briefly, betraying nothing. As I walk away, I hear him refer to an upcoming meeting with Skinner.

What the hell is he doing here, and why would he be meeting with Walter? When I reach a deserted hallway, I stop to consider what this could mean.

I had thought Walter would have a problem with me being a double agent. But maybe he's already aware of my association with Spender. If that's the case, why hasn't he said anything? It doesn't make sense. Is Walter also working for Spender... and the Consortium?

Before I can get too caught up in my confusion over Spender's presence, Mulder finds me and we move back to his desk.

Mulder's been asked to review one of BSU's profiles and, lucky me, I get to help.

We spend the entire morning reviewing the case and their preliminary profile, then head out to pick up lunch. But my mind keeps returning to Spender's presence at the FBI.

With case file in hand, and bags from two take-out restaurants, we move into the Bureau break-room. Mulder is apparently unsatisfied with his lunch choice and tries to subversively switch my chicken curry for his broccoli beef. I catch him at it and switch them back. The case file is ignored as a debate ensues about the merits of Chinese versus Indian cuisine. Eventually, I turn my attention back to the case, reading the evidence team's report, as Mulder continues to chatter.

When Mulder stops speaking, I glance up to find him looking at the doorway. I casually look over to see Walter, turned slightly away, in the hallway having an intense conversation with Robert Baker. Looking back at Mulder, I realize he's staring at Skinner's ass. Baker and Skinner move on, and I wonder if it's possible to lodge a plastic fork in someone's skull.

That's mine, Agent Spooky. I'd recommend you keep your hands and eyes off.

Fuck. Feeling jealous and possessive is really not good. I viciously stab my chicken, breaking one of the plastic fork tines. I can't put off ending this for much longer.

I think about Spender again. I don't understand what's going on, but I cannot believe Walter would have anything to do with him. Why would anyone interact with Spender unless they absolutely had to?

So Walter must have to see Spender. But why? It makes me wonder what Spender's done to Walter... or how he's manipulating him.

I didn't think it was possible for me to hate Spender any more than I already do.

**

Washington, D.C.
Thursday, 4 August 1994

There's a knife shop two doors down from my barbershop. After getting my hair cut, I stop in, thinking to get a gift for Alex. I describe his knife to a male clerk about my age, and he shows me some that are similar. They're very serviceable weapons. One looks quite a bit like the one he lost. But they aren't what I want to give him. I shake off the clerk and wander around on my own. Unable to figure out what I'm looking for, I depart.

I'm not just trying to replace his knife, I'm trying to... What am I trying to do? Express my appreciation for our relationship?

I leave work at a reasonable hour and try a different shop. A pretty Hispanic girl helps me. She shows me similar knives, then tells me these aren't what I'm looking for. Taking her time, she draws me out until I am able to articulate that I want an attractive knife... one that has an artistic quality. She nods thoughtfully and retrieves a velvet lined tray from under a counter. Although there are a dozen knives, my eyes immediately go to one of them. It's not all that different from other knives I've seen, but the lines of it are attractively angled and there's an elegant notched pattern in the grip. It's quite beautiful. The maker is Solingen, one of the better forgers.

I handle it until I am certain it's as usable as the one he lost.

Then I purchase the knife, a belt sheath like the one he uses, and a black leather case. The young clerk wraps it for me in simple red paper with a black bow.

Only after I leave the store do I realize I'm nervous. What am I going to say to him? I want him to understand how important he's become to me, but I don't want to scare him off. I want to tell him I'm planning to leave Sharon, but what if he thinks it's a benefit that I'm not really available? Assuming he even believes me. How many married men have said 'I'm leaving my wife,' and how many actually left?

**

Falls Church, VA
Sunday, 7 August 1994
11:42 P.M.

I step into my apartment, amazed at how exhausting a day of doing nothing can be. There is certainly some entertainment value in working with Mulder. He gets pulled into the weirdest cases. Of course, I'd rather be doing almost anything other than sitting on my ass listening to Mulder negotiate a hostage situation with a nut who thinks aliens are after him. I think the high point of my day was watching Agent Scully muscle her way into the fray and start giving orders.

Walking to my bedroom, I strip off my clothes and let my mind wander to more interesting topics.

Walter.

He called yesterday, asking if he could see me on Monday. He plans to stay the night. Part of me knows it would be better to start distancing myself from him. But I just don't want to... I like having him here.

As usual, thinking of Walter for any amount of time makes me hard. I'm too tired to do anything other than appreciate the sexual energy. I collapse into bed thinking about tomorrow night.

**

Washington, D.C.
Monday, 8 August 1994

I wanted to spend the night with Alex, so I told Sharon I was doing a two-day seminar at Quantico and getting a room there. All it would take is one phone call to reveal the lie, but I need to be with him tonight.

I leave the Bureau a little after 9:00 P.M. Driving to Alex's, I try again to understand what I am doing and why. Alex is becoming an important part of my life. I want to make all the complications evaporate, so we can spend time together without subterfuge. But he's a man and my subordinate. Our relationship will never be in the open or easy, but I want... I want him to know that I'm with him, not anyone else.

My fears about what to say to him are all a smokescreen. The real issue is: what if he doesn't feel the same way about me? Every ounce of logic tells me this could be just sex for him. Deep inside, I believe the caring is mutual, but I'm afraid to find out I'm wrong.

I am such a wuss sometimes. Learned to control fear in the jungles of 'Nam, but this... facing one young man with a clear statement about my feelings... Fuck.

Giving myself a mental kick in the ass, I resolve to just do it and not worry about it. Take the risk and live with the consequences.

Still, standing at his door holding a small wrapped package, I'm tempted not to ring the bell. To slip away and not step off this particular cliff.

I see his face in my mind's eye... his passionate expression filled with lust and need and feelings too intense to put into words. My finger presses the buzzer.

When he opens the door, my feet won't move, so I just stand there looking at him.

Alex eyes me curiously. "Walter?"

Shaking my head, I step inside. As soon as I hear the snick of the door behind me, I pull him into my arms. My mouth finds his and I kiss him as if it's our last kiss in this lifetime.

He melts against my body, mouth open and yielding to me. One arm wraps around my waist, the other around my shoulders. His faint moan is lost in our mouths.

When his hips press against me, I have to fight to keep my own from responding. That is not what tonight is about. I break the kiss and meet his eyes, just gazing into the clear green intensity.

A slight frown creases his forehead. His thumb touches my lower lip as he quietly asks, "What?"

I kiss the faint mole on his right cheek. "I brought you a present." After forcing myself calm, I step away and into the living room. Taking a seat on the couch, I gesture for him to join me.

He slowly sits next to me, a look of confusion on his face. "A what?"

"A gift." I pass him the small paper bag. "Open it." I hope he likes it.

With a distinct frown and a look of confusion, he inspects the bag, then looks inside. Frowning even more, he draws out the red wrapped package and sets it on his leg. He fingers the black bow.

Looking at me with a complete lack of comprehension, he asks, "This is for me?"

Christ, you'd think no one had ever given him a present before. I fervently hope that's not true. Feeling a twinge behind my eyes, I look away for a moment to push away the emotion. "Yes, it's for you."

Forehead creased again, he stares at the package. After a hesitation, he tugs at the end of the ribbon, releasing the bow and removing it. He looks at the ribbon for a second before setting it on the coffee table.

He contemplates the package, then looks at me. "I just take this stuff off, right?"

I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to live through this moment. Fighting off impatience, trepidation and some softer feeling that's terrifying me, I reply, "Yes. Just tear it off and open the box."

"Hmm." With intense concentration he removes the red paper, contemplates it and sets it on the table. He opens the plain white box and pulls out the belt sheath, his expression suddenly blank. Then he extracts the leather case and sets the packaging aside.

Opening the case, a look of astonishment passes over his face and he glances up at me. "You got this for me?" His expression is open, earnest, almost vulnerable. He's never looked so young.

My lips form a smile, but I'm afraid my smile will shatter and all my feelings will come pouring out. I nod cautiously.

Looking back down, he extracts the knife from the case and tests its weight in his hand. He mutters, "Nice balance," before looking up at me with a wicked smile. "Duck."

I blink, then reflexively duck down a second before the knife sails over my shoulder. I look behind me to see it protruding from a half inch brace on his bookcase.

Alex says, "Very nice balance."

Very nice aim.

I guess he likes it. Grinning my relief, I search my brain for the words I intended to say. It feels as if my mind has been erased during the last ten minutes.

Alex is on me before I can turn around--straddling my legs, butt resting on my thighs. His expression is hard to read, but his hand touches the side of my face and he murmurs, "Thank you, Walt."

"I... uh..." Fuck. I kiss along the ridge of his brow. When the words finally come there doesn't seem to be any volume behind them. "You mean so much to me, Alex."

His body is still for a second, face touching the side of mine, then one arm winds around me. He pulls back and looks at me intently. His fingers stroke my face, then his lips settle over mine.

I groan. My tongue slides into his mouth. This is a damned good idea... I don't want to talk. Whatever I meant to say is forgotten. Touching him is essential. My hands wrap around his waist, pulling him closer. I feel the pounding of two separate heartbeats... one a little faster than the other.

Lowering my hands, I squeeze his ass gently, then stroke his thighs. He moves against me, encouraging the touch, as one hand slips down my arm, coming to rest on the back of my hand. He breaks the kiss while lifting my hand, bringing it to his mouth. Lips touch my palm then he sucks two fingers inside.

The sight of him reverently sucking my fingers is intensely erotic. I can't help but remember all the times my cock has been in his pretty mouth. However, tonight I am very clear on exactly what I need. And I need it so keenly. Pressing my lips to the side of his face, I whisper, "I want to fuck you."

His groan vibrates through my fingers before he releases them. There's a faint, "Please," breathed against my skin.

I brush the side of my face against his. "Bedroom." Bracing myself with one arm, I start to stand. Alex rises with me until we're embracing face-to-face. My hand slips into the back of his jeans, tugging his shirt out and peeling it off. As my fingers trace the lines of his chest, his tiny nipples become erect. There's a hiss of pleasure from him.

His hands grip my waist as if needing support, his eyes already glazed with desire. Something catches his attention and he suddenly pulls away from me. Moving quickly, he plants one foot on the sofa, stretching far over the edge of the couch to extract the knife from the bookcase. Placing it back in its case, he sets it on the table.

Face flushed, Alex turns back. His breath seems to catch as he looks at me, then he steps forward and pushes off my coat.

I hasten to assist. My tie is jettisoned. Shirt stripped off. We rub our chests against each other. His skin is warm... electric. Touching him is beyond stimulating. My desire for him is so strong... I want him to belong to me. I want his body to exist for my touch only. I've always had this obnoxious possessive streak, but I've never felt it so extremely. Alex does something to me...

Grabbing the waistband at the back of his pants, I pry him off me. My arm encircles his waist and I lead him toward the bedroom.

It's a little difficult getting there because Alex keeps stopping to touch me. Or tries to keep his hands on my body while walking. I half push him into the bedroom. His hands are immediately at my waist, loosening my belt and unfastening my pants.

My slacks and shorts are around my ankles before either of us considers my shoes. I sit on the bed, so I can slip them off, but then Alex is on one knee, pulling off my shoes and socks and tossing the mess of clothing onto the floor.

The instant Alex's fingers touch my cock, I realize I am unbearably hard. Groaning pathetically, I push his hand away. The hand immediately returns and his lips are on my chest, sucking my nipple.

I grope for his fly to retaliate. Popping open the buttons, I reach inside and get a good grip on his erection. Alex's cock has become my favorite plaything. I tease the head of it between my fingers.

He releases my nipple and inhales sharply, thrusting into my hand as his fingers briefly tighten on my erection. He takes a shuddering breath and tries to wiggle away from my hand. "Christ, not yet."

Offering a smug glare, I release his cock, allowing him to slip out of his jeans. My eyes go from head to toe, taking in his lean, masculine body. Then I reach for his hand and tug him forward, so he falls on me on the bed.

He quickly finds his equilibrium and rests his weight on me as his lips find the side of my neck.

I roll him over and we wrestle on the bed... not very seriously... just experiencing each other's strength. I can overpower him, but he's very strong for his size and extremely deft.

Still struggling, he grinds his erection against mine. I realize it was a diversionary tactic when he manages to flip me over. But it backfired on him because I feel the trembling in his legs and see the passion flush on his face.

Growling at him, I push him back over, so I'm on top again. Then I pull back up on my knees and nudge his legs apart. Smiling, he wraps both legs around me and pulls me heavily back onto his body.

I kiss him again. His arms slide around me as his lips part for my tongue. It feels as if I will never tire of the taste of his mouth. I'm beyond turned on at this point, but I struggle to keep my brain working. I want to ask him for something... something that may be difficult for him to give.

Breaking away, I tug open the drawer of the bedside table and snatch the lube and a condom. I drop them on a pillow. Scooting down so I'm at the foot of the bed, I lean over him again and kiss a path from his navel to his groin.

His breathing becomes uneven and his back arches.

My tongue laps along the side of his cock, teasing strokes, too gentle to really satisfy him. He gasps then gives a grunt of frustration. I take the head into my mouth, tongue swirling around the crown. His whole body jerks and he gasps out, "Oh fuck... Walter..."

I smile around his cock, as my tongue probes the slit and I lick his pre-cum. It's so very satisfying to reduce him to a quivering lump on the bed. Reluctantly, I release his cock and nibble on his balls. My hand on his thigh, I nudge him to encourage him to lift his legs. He pulls his knees to his chest and my tongue finds the tender skin of his anus.

His whole body begins to shake and he whimpers.

I drag my tongue across the crinkly surface of his asshole, enjoying the soft animal sounds he makes. When I lift my head from between his ass cheeks, he looks rather blissed out. I offer him a cocky smile. "Let go of your legs."

He blinks at me before releasing them, as if he wasn't aware of holding them up. I slide up his body again and pin him with my body weight. "Would you do something for me, Alex?"

"Mm hmm." Alex can barely move with me pinning him to the mattress, but he manages to wiggle underneath me, moaning at the sensation of our skin rubbing together.

I'm too turned on to effectively navigate this delicate situation. "I want to fuck you like this... face to face."

Still looking dazed, he blinks at me as if trying to process what I'm asking. Then he stills and takes a couple deep breaths. "I..." His speech is aborted and he tries again to focus on me. After a moment, he mutely nods his head.

There's that look again. I want this, and he wants to give it to me, but it scares him. I'll have to proceed cautiously.

Sliding down his body, I kneel between his knees again. I lean toward him--pushing his legs apart and my cock forward--and pass him the condom.

Alex tears open the wrapper and rolls it onto my erection. His erratic breathing and the dilation of his pupils tell me he's still lust-addled, but he's pensively biting his lower lip. He leans up and his lips touch the side of my neck while his fingers lightly stroke my cock.

I pass him the lube bottle and hold out my hand. He puts a generous amount on my fingers. I rub it warm, before pushing them between the globes of his ass.

Alex hisses as I tease the sensitive skin of his anus.

I have to do this quickly or the position might start to bother him. Pushing a single finger inside, I work it around and then add a second. As I open him up, he looks more turned on than worried. When I brush against his prostate, he gasps and tightens around my fingers, hips jerking. His eyes glaze over and he breathes rapidly, unaware of anything but sensation.

My third finger slides in easily. Alex fucks himself on them until I ease them away.

Shifting forward again, I lift his legs onto my shoulders and put the head of my cock at his anus. Slowly, I press into him.

Alex stills and his eyes widen. He gasps as if he can't get enough air. His body squirms underneath me, almost as if trying to get away, but at the same time, his rectum relaxes for my penetration.

I stop halfway inside him, tempted to ask if he's okay, but he hates that.

His head moves restlessly against the pillow, then he begins to struggle, pushing against me and trying to get his legs off my shoulders. I move my arms, bracing them on either side of his head, allowing his legs to slip down. I start to pull away but he grips my biceps hard and stills, looking vacantly into space.

The look chills me... whatever he's feeling is grim. I shouldn't have asked him for this.

Then his hands are at my shoulders as his legs wrap around my waist, pulling my hips against his body. He lifts his head until his lips touch my collarbone then, with a twist of his neck, his face is pressed against my chest, near my armpit. He tilts his hips up, encouraging me into his body as he clings to my shoulders and chest.

A single push of my hips brings me all the way. "Shhh, it's okay, Alex," I whisper. I begin to thrust inside him, hoping he'll calm down.

There's a choked sound from him and his legs tighten around me, hips pushing up to meet my thrusts.

The tight heat surrounding my cock makes me shudder and groan.

It feels so damned good to be inside him, but my cock is only a part of it. Touching him, being connected, feeling close to this man and needing the contact... It's overwhelming, but I want it so intensely... more than I can remember wanting anything in a long time.

I shift my hips slightly, trying to put more pressure on his prostate and rub his cock between our bellies. He groans and a tremor races through him, but he continues to cling to me even as he writhes with pleasure.

Alex's atypical vulnerability, and the way he hangs on to me, create a bittersweet ache in my chest. But holding him and fucking him like this seems so right. I feel needed. Comforting and comforted.

I fuck him harder and faster... as if the fucking is what we need. My cock glides in and out of him, each movement suffused with exhilarating friction.

His breath is rapid and hot against my skin. His mouth closes around flesh on my chest, near my armpit, sucking hard. He bucks against me and his body shakes. I know he's close.

Unable to find words to convey what I barely comprehend, I rasp out his name. "Alllexxx..."

I stop trying to hold off my own orgasm and thrust deeply into him. He thrashes against me, body nearly lifting off the bed. I cry out loudly as my orgasm detonates. At the same moment, his hips tense and quiver beneath me, rectum clenching around my cock. My climax is acutely pleasurable... pleasure at the very edge of insanity.

My body suddenly feels heavy and my arms go rigid to keep my weight from crushing him.

With a faint whimper, Alex's trembling body releases mine. He collapses against the bed, breathing hard. A sharp tingling sensation rushes to the spot on my chest where he was sucking.

I allow my weight to fall to his side, quickly removing and dropping the condom off the side of the bed. Wrapping my arm around his waist, I pull him close. His cum is slippery on his stomach and chest. He immediately buries his face against my neck, but otherwise is still in my arms. Then his arm comes around me, holding on, fingers digging into my back.

**

I'm practically clinging to him, but I'm not sure how to stop. That was horrible, and... incredible.

I nearly panicked, and it was my own fault. Convinced what bothered me must have something to do with that debacle in prison. All I managed to do was cause a flashback to something intensely unpleasant.

The larger problem was that I couldn't have him looking at my face. Having him look in my eyes while penetrating me was... too damned much. I was terrified of him seeing everything I feel--of him seeing the truth about me--because it changes nothing and only leaves me more vulnerable.

I don't even know how to name what I feel. And it was even scarier to think I might see some of that in his face. I should never have agreed to that.

But it felt so good... so... right. And I want to give him anything he asks for.

I am so fucked, so I hold him a little tighter.

I feel one of his hands stroking my back and the other finds my hair. Almost immediately, tension starts to flow from my body. Before Walter, I never let anyone exploit this weakness, but it seems like the only thing to do... Let his hands rob me of my ability to figure a way out of this. At least, for a little while longer.

His soothing hands make me think of his whispered words, '...it's okay, Alex.'

It's so not okay, Walter.

He murmurs, "Thank you, Alex."

Still keeping my face between his neck and shoulder, I whisper against his skin, "I wanted to." I realize I did want to... because he asked me. And he doesn't really ask me for anything. But it was harder than I thought. Normally he fucks me into an explosive frenzy but, tonight, he fucked me to calmness and the most intense orgasm of my life.

I can't cope with this.

Fuck, how old am I?

I compose myself and bring my features under control before pulling back. I can do this. But Walter's face stops me. He gazes at me with a sated but longing expression, and I find myself kissing him instead.

Breaking the kiss, he says softly, "Alex, I..." Then he shakes his head. Whatever he's trying to say, he's afraid to say it. And I'm afraid to hear it.

Reassuring us both--that it's okay to leave it unsaid--I touch his face, then kiss him again. I rest against his body again, just happy to touch him.

Idly running my hand along his torso, I ask, "I need something to drink. Thirsty?"

He kisses the side of my face. "Yeah. Water, please."

"Okay. I'll be right back."

I'm distracted by the semen smeared all over my stomach and chest. I clean up quickly and return with the water and a warm damp towel. Sitting on the bed, I hand him one glass and wipe the cum off his chest.

When my glass is about half empty, Walter takes it from me and sets it on the bedside table. He pulls me back onto the bed and begins touching and kissing me. Lazy affectionate caresses I'm helpless to not participate in. It's just too good... touching him... being touched by him.

Walter's fingers stroke the side of my face. "Shower?"

I nod and climb off the bed. "I'll get towels."

He's stepping into the shower when I enter the bathroom. I quickly brush my teeth. Watching him through the glass, I consider that I should just let him finish and then get in, but I find myself stepping into the tub before I can think about it too carefully.

I move quietly to begin with, and Walter is turned away, head under the shower spray. He doesn't appear to have heard me. For a few moments, I look at the defined planes of his broad back, the perfectly sculpted muscular ass, the ripped musculature of his hamstrings and calves. Fuck, he's got the most incredible body.

Moving forward, I wrap my arms around his waist. He gives a faint start of surprise. I feel his hand on my arm. It belatedly occurs to me that I should stroke him or something... otherwise it's just, uh, hugging him. My brain trips over the thought. Before I can figure out what to do with my hands, Walter turns around, breaking my hold, and pulls me into his arms.

He rotates us and backs me under the water, then his mouth settles over mine.

This time when he breaks the kiss the words come. "It's good with you, Alex. Damned good." His brown eyes are filled with emotion.

He's been showing me his feelings this entire evening, but I'm not sure what they mean. I could probably figure it out... if I wanted to. But I don't. Because I'm afraid it might change what I have to do.

No more thinking. I stroke my hands over his skin, brushing water droplets away, then nod. "Yeah. It is." My voice is barely a whisper, but I know he hears it.

We finish showering, a slow lazy bathing process that's more an excuse to touch. Walter seems to take more opportunities than usual to touch me... kiss me. I probably only notice it because I'm doing the same thing.

But I'm doing it because I wonder if every touch will be the last one. Why is he doing it? Probably better to not know.

We dry off and silently agree to go to bed.

I keep my mind carefully blank when our bodies come together under the covers. My head rests on his shoulder, arm around his waist. One of his hands strokes my arm and the other teases the back of my neck, then slips into my hair.

I'm grateful my brain stays quiet, allowing sleep to claim me.

I wake still close to him, my brain no longer quiet. My arm is still around... well, it's across his hips, because I've scooted down the bed. I want to stay close to him, but at the same time, want to get away. Careful not to wake him, I inch across the bed. I glance at the clock and realize I haven't been asleep very long... it's not quite midnight.

Slowly, I rise from the bed and make my way to the kitchen for more water.

The leather case on the coffee table draws me into the living room. I set down my glass and slowly pick up the knife case. Opening it, I stare at the knife.

Walter brought me a gift. How odd. No one's given me a gift since I was a kid. And I've never had one packaged that way... with the paper and the ribbon. I stroke my fingers over the blade. It's a beautiful knife... at least as serviceable as my old one--maybe more so--but much more aesthetically pleasing. I like the pattern mirrored in the handle.

When I first saw it, I told myself it didn't mean anything, but then he said... No, don't think about what he said. The gift doesn't mean anything. Walter probably gives presents to all his lovers. He's never come here without bringing me something.

No... none of this means anything. We're just fucking. A way to waste time until I can figure a way out of this.

I put down the knife and return to the bedroom. I watch him sleep for a few minutes, then carefully settle beside him... Being close to him for a little while longer.

A faint chirrup from the living room has me jumping out of bed. That's either Walter's cell or mine. In either case, it has to be answered.

I hear Walter's sleep husky, "Alex?" when I'm halfway down the hall. The second ring tells me it's coming from Walter's jacket.

Retrieving his cell, I meet a sleepy-eyed and naked Walter in the hallway as the phone rings for the fourth time.

"Skinner. ... What?!" His expression shifts from shock to dismay in an instant. "Oh, Christ. ... Have you got any usable leads? ... I'll call Mathis and have him assemble a missing persons team. What else do you need? ... You got it, Mulder." He leans against the wall, hand squeezing my shoulder. "We'll find her. Give me ten to call Mathis. I'll expect an update in the morning... say 7:45? ... Yeah. Okay."

It's the middle of the night and Mulder has encountered some sort of trouble. Not terribly surprising, I suppose.

Walt ends the call with an angry jab of his finger. Turning to me, he says in a solemn voice, "Agent Scully's been kidnapped. Mulder thinks it's Duane Barry."

Duane Barry? Doesn't he have a big hole in his chest and is presently in the hospital? How did he get a hold of Scully? And why? This can't be coincidental. It's almost too convenient. A week ago, I was advising Spender to have her transferred out of the state and so buried in autopsies she didn't have time cause trouble with Mulder, and now she's been abducted?

I'm about to say something when Walter keys in a number. "This is A.D. Skinner. I need an emergency patch-through to Agent Mathis."

I stand with him in the hall as he gives orders to Mathis. He seems very concerned. More concerned than I would expect. She reported to him briefly, but I didn't think they were terribly close.

This time he terminates the call with a pained sigh. He gives me a concerned glance that reminds me of his expression during his hospital visits. Maybe... maybe it's just the way he is. Maybe he worries about all his agents this way.

I rub my hand across his shoulder. "Do you need anything?" I'm not even sure what I'm asking, but I am clear that if he asked for anything, I would try to do it.

Walter shakes his head and closes his eyes, massaging his forehead with his fingertips. He stretches his shoulders back and takes my hand, returning to the bedroom.

Instead of getting in on my side of the bed, I climb in behind him, arm wrapped around his waist. My lips lightly touch the back of his neck while my fingers massage his chest. Curious about his upset, I quietly ask, "Did you know Agent Scully very well?"

"She's not dead," he snaps at me.

I tense. Well, that was one of my other suggestions to Spender. Apparently that would bother Walter.

Shaking his head again, he adds, "I'm sorry, Alex." His tone is laced with regret. "She's a good agent. I respect her a lot."

"I... I'm sure we'll find her, Walter." But there's no telling what condition she'll be in if Spender was behind this. Mulder may find himself a red-headed corpse.

Walter reaches for my wrist, pulling my hand to his lips and kissing the palm. His body pushes back, trying to get closer, even when there's already no space between us.

** End Part 6 **


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