Disclaimer: Fox Mulder and Alex Krycek are owned by Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox Broadcasting. No money made, no harm intended.

This is the third part of the Rat's story, we would highly recommend reading the first two before this one. Otherwise, it'll be even *more* confusing.

Rated NC-17 for graphic descriptions of i.v. drug use, m/m sex (consensual this time), foul language and what we would definitely describe as "Mature Themes". So please do consider your limits before proceeding.

Now you know nancy couldn't stop writing this before she got some sort of H/C going, so be forewarned... This is the happy ending. Sort of.

Story titled borrowed without permission from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.


Gimme Shelter

By Zen&nancy

I feel like I'm in a time warp. It's because I'm on the bathroom floor again, jeans around my ankles, staring at Sandy's number on the wall. Mulder is gone, I don't know if it's been two minutes or twenty, but it doesn't matter, because he's gone now, and I'm alone. I learned very young that alone is the safest place to be.

The needle went in easily. It was the easiest thing, to slide the spike into the vein behind my right knee. Mercy, and now I'm rushing, so fast I have to close my eyes and hang onto the wall behind me. My cheeks are pulled back, my lips stretched into a smile. It's a smack smile, having nothing to do with emotion, and everything to do with the air I can feel rushing past my face, pulling the muscles back.

I know I was more than a little reckless with that last shot, it was big, really big. It felt like it flowed into my veins forever. This is so amazing. All the pain is gone, completely gone. I can't even feel the places that hurt before I got out here on the perimeter. I don't think I've ever been this fucked up before. For a person like me, who plays such complicated love/hate games with smack, this is a powerful realization. The thought forms slowly, followed by a vague wondering, whether or not I'll die. It doesn't scare me. Nothing could. I don't even remember what fear is like, I don't recognize the word.

I think someone is out there, in the room. I can hear footsteps, coming closer. I try to sit up a little, I've slid down against the wall. I can't, I'm too heavy. So heavy. I remember, when I was very young, I went to a museum with my classmates and there was the most amazing exhibit there. I got left behind because I couldn't pull myself away from it. It was very simple, really, but clever. There were a series of scales, the surfaces made to look like the terrain of the moon and the planets. You could weigh yourself, and see what your weight would be on the Sun and the Moon and Mars and Saturn. You weigh a million pounds on the Sun. I must be there.

I am warm, I'm sweating, actually, and the footsteps are coming closer.

I watch the doorknob turn, thinking about whether or not you can fall off the sun, and why the person in the doorway looks like Mulder. Like Mulder after he's seen a U.F.O.

I look away, or rather, my eyes wander across the wall on their own. I don't think I could control much of anything at this point, so I'm not going to try to. Maybe if I look away from the disturbing picture, it will go away.

The water falling in single drops from the sink's faucet attracts my attention. The drops are beautiful, ethereal, their falling an eloquent statement. It seems to me that they are facing death, and I can feel each one's fall in the pit of my stomach, like the first time I jumped out of a plane. I watch ten more crystal drops fall, and then I have to look away, it's too beautiful. The person hasn't moved, he's still there.

"Oh shit, Alex. What have I done?"

He is standing directly in front of me, his eyes wide with shock and fear. His hands rake through his hair, and his breathing is loud in the silence.

"What have I done?" The sounds are louder, almost a wail.

He moves, coming closer, until he is directly in front of my face. Too close. My vision has turned into bug eyes, and I can't see him clearly. I try to watch his lips when he talks.

"I almost walked away... Oh God, Alex. I can't believe I did this to you..."

It seems like he talks for a long time, although the words aren't getting through. On some level, somewhere in my cotton candy head, I know that this is Mulder in front of me, and not a stranger. Maybe that's why it's easy to ignore him.

His hands fall on my shoulders, shaking me. He's babbling, and I think that he's shaking too.

"Christ, you're a mess. Can you even hear me? Can you hear me, Alex? Of course you had to come right back in here for another shot. Don't you dare die on me, Alex! Don't you dare die like this."

He's shaking me harder, his fingers digging into my shoulders. I know he wants me to answer him. I have been drugged and questioned before. My brain falls back on that, telling me that if we answer the questions we will be left alone, or at least he will stop touching me. I don't want him to touch me. My lips are so swollen that when I try to lick them I can't figure out where my lower lip stops. They are caked with dried blood, which tastes terrible.

"Not... gonna die. Go away."

"I'm not leaving you alone like this. I should be taking you to a hospital, but I can't do that. I'm sorry, I can't."

He sounds desperate. I have the vague idea that it is the state of my body that has upset him, and I know that this is beyond unreasonable, but I don't remember why, exactly. I feel like I fell down the rabbit hole. He's growing. He was directly in front of me a moment ago, now he is very tall, looming above me, and I feel like a bug on the floor. Something inside me says it's not safe to be lying on the floor with my pants down when he is standing over me. I want to get up, but I can't move, I'm too heavy.

He's pulling my pants off, and my shoes and socks, too. "No." I moan, not expecting my demand to be heard. I want him to go away, he's spoiling it, again. Go away, Mulder.

"Take it easy, I just want to get you in the bathtub."

Yeah, I bet you do, you sick bastard. What part of leave me the fuck alone didn't he understand? "Mulder... leave, me, the fuck alone."

My perception gets foggy again as I am pulled up off the wall and dragged to the bathtub. My back falls against the wall of the tub when he lets go. I don't feel the impact. It's very interesting, watching my visual perspective change this way, but I keep remembering that I don't want him to touch me.

His hands are under my arms, trying to haul me to my feet. I bat at him feebly, but miss his hands, they move too fast for me. He gets me up on my knees, but no farther. My t-shirt is pulled over my head and now I am naked, kneeling in front of him, staring at his belt buckle.

I'm confused. Isn't this exactly what I wanted? Then why am I crying? I fall forward, and he catches me before I hit the floor, sliding down against his leg. A stray though flies through my head, there is nowhere to go from here. "Nowhere to go, Mulder..." I try to explain, but talking is such a labor, and I know it won't matter if I talk or not, whatever he came back for will happen, and I can't prevent it. I don't actually have to be present for it, though. I was too fast for him, I got here first. I can let go, and lose myself inside my mind, I can erase him simply by denying his existence. It's a God-like feeling, the ability to take away the power he's always had over me.

Hard hands grab me under my armpits and haul me up again. I close my eyes, not caring where I'll end up and not wanting to see. I fall onto something cold and hard, sitting down. Mulder is mumbling to himself, or maybe to me, but I'm not listening.

"Come on, Alex, work with me here, dammit. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to drop you... You probably didn't even feel it. Come on, lift your legs, Alex."

My head falls back against the tiled wall. It's cold and smooth and I press my swollen face against it. He never calls me Alex. It's always been Krycek. I've always thought that it's only because he knows how much I'd like him to call me by my first name, so he doesn't. Are you trying to be nice to me Mulder? Why? Such a strange one, you really are.

"No, don't, that wall is filthy..." He is scolding me, something about infection. Shouldn't he have worried about that before he raped me?

The sound of running water echoes under my ear. I can feel the rushing of the water in my head, I could drown before he says another word. I'd like that.

"Don't go anywhere, don't move. I'll be right back."

He's always telling me to stay, like a dog. Usually, it's when he's got me in a position where I couldn't possibly move if I tried, like now. The water is splashing against my feet, the steam rising slowly in the chilly air.

The water is hot, I listen to it in the wall, my ear pressed to the tile. The vibration in my head is so soothing, I feel like I'm already under water. I wonder if he put me in here to drown me, and how long it will take for the bathtub to fill.

He's back again, with soap and a sock. He must have gone through my bag. Is this how he's going to kill me? I guess it's quiet, or at least I'll try to be. I don't think I want anyone interrupting us, whatever his intentions are.

He rips the clean sweat sock, using his teeth, and holds the toe he's ripped off under the water. He's taken off his jacket, and rolled up his sleeves. I stare at his gun in his holster under his arm, because it's easier to look at it than it is look at Mulder. I'm starting to figure out that he hasn't come back to kill me, and knowing that there's more is exhausting. I close my eyes, hoping that I can drift off and sleep through this whole affair.

"Are you still with me here, Krychek? Pry your eyes open."

I move away from his hand when he tries to touch me, twisting my head to the side. "Don't..."

"I'm not going to hurt you."

That makes me laugh. "Liar."

He takes my head, turning me back to look at him. I can't open my eyes very wide, but I can see him, clearer than I could at first. I see pain and regret in his eyes. It's a common expression for Mulder, but I know I'm the cause, and I react to it, even though I don't want to. His hand holds the top of my head, palm spread flat over the crown, fingers gripping gently at the back and sides. He has big hands, and long, smooth fingers. Elegant, though, not at all like mine.

There is enough water to cover my thighs now. The hot water feels very good and I try to slide down further into the safety of the tub, but Mulder stops me, his hand on my head and another in the center of my chest. He holds the piece of sock he's ripped off under the tap, letting go of me momentarily.

"Come on Alex, keep your head up..." He mumbles, his hand coming towards my face again. I'm sure he's going to hit me, and I flinch before he touches me, taking my jaw in his palm to hold me still. I don't like the idea of not being able to move my head. It reminds me of being locked in the broom closet, where you had to hold your head at an awkward angle to fit. My father would lock me in the small space; he did it up until I grew too big to be able to fit inside. He would lift me, kicking and screaming, into the narrow closet that didn't reach all the way to the floor, so that when the door was finally unlocked you always fell out face first onto the kitchen floor. He would toss me in, and slam the door quickly, before I could leap out. Once, I got my arm broken, so panicked by the idea of another night locked in the closet that I was willing to risk my arm for freedom. It was the one I don't have now, and remembering the pain now makes me yelp, the stump they left me with jerking spasmodically.

"Hold still. I'm trying not to hurt you."

"Huh?" I don't really want to talk to him, but his voice pulled me out of the broom closet, and anything is better than that.

"Just hold still for me. You're a mess. We have to get some disinfectant in this." He is washing my face, soaking the dried blood off a little at a time. It doesn't hurt. I can't really feel it, but I am conscious of him touching me.

I'm so fucked up, it's so hard to concentrate. He's talking to me, telling me to stay with him, not to pass out. I want to tell him to shut up, I've had an awful day, and I can nod out in the bathtub if I want to.

He works on my face for a long time, raising the makeshift washcloth to my split lip over and over again. Eventually, soap becomes part of the routine. It burns a little, but I can ignore it. I could ignore him, too, but I don't want to. I know it's not safe, to be so helpless with him, but I don't know how much more damage he can do.

Finally, he stops bothering my face, and I can lean back against the wall again. He won't let me turn my face away from him though, he keeps telling me the wall is dirty. I'm dirty, Mulder. I'm a dirty rat, remember? Why are you trying to make me clean? It's nothing, what you've done. It's nothing at all.

The water has turned light pink from my blood. His hand and the cloth are between my legs, and now there is more blood in the water. He is crying. At first it's just tears. He doesn't close his eyes, and they fall quickly, rolling down his cheeks and into the water. I don't want your salt in my wounds, Mulder. I don't want your pain.

This should be so simple, but it's not. He is the only person I can't close off my heart to. I don't know why. I'm not like normal people, I don't feel things the way they do. I have never felt any emotion so strong that it made me think of another human being before myself, and I don't understand people who do. Sometimes I laugh at them, and sometimes I hate them, but I've never understood. So it shocks me, when I want to be able to say something to comfort him.

He is sobbing now, the sounds echoing against the tile, surrounding me, so that I feel like I can't escape them. I've never imagined him as a person who cries. I guess I thought he was like me, unable to.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." He cries, over and over again. I wish I could say something, he looks like he can't stop. His head has fallen forward to the edge of the tub and his shoulders are heaving violently with his sobs.

I concentrate, and slowly, raise my hand out of the water. He's on the wrong side, so I have to reach all the way across my body to lay my hand on the top of his head. I can't say anything, I feel like words are so far behind me that I may never get them back. His hair is clean, and very fine, silky.

His cries of "I'm sorry" stop when I touch him, but the wails continue. I can feel him shaking under my hand. Part of my brain is trying to tell me that this is something we should use, something we never expected to see. Mulder breaking. It should inspire innumerable ways to gain valuable information, perhaps something that could secure my dangerous position within the circle of power. I reject the thought instantly. Why? Blackmail and extortion are the primary forces in my life, they're what makes the world go round. So why can't I even think of using this against him?

"Mulder...Don't." I mumble thickly. I don't know if he understood me or not, my face is so swollen up it's hard to make my mouth move at all.

Haunted, anguished green eyes search my face when he raises his head. My hand falls back into the water with a little splash. I wish I could give him something, anything, that would lessen the pain. He won't take my drugs, and I am empty, I have nothing to give.

"I'm so sorry, Alex." He whispers, his loud breathing finally quieting with his sobs. "I should just shoot you. I can't. I can't kill you."

" 'Sokay..."

I think somewhere else, in another time, knowing that he can't bring himself to kill me would have made me wildly happy. I probably would have jumped him. Between us, it is tantamount to a confession of love. That was someone else, though. That man was a hell of a lot less cynical than I am, probably more sane, too. He also had two arms, and a steady paycheck. It's been a god awful long year, for both of us, I guess. I've never seen him look more anguished. Again, this should make me happy, the anxiety and regret in his eyes. It doesn't, all I can feel is sadness. It's a huge, universal kind of sadness. I feel like I've been dragging the causes and effects of my actions behind me all the time I've been running, and I am so exhausted.

"Don't be sorry, Mulder. You're not as bad as you think you are." The thought is too complicated for me to express, and the simple words my brain chooses are hopelessly inadequate.

He washes me, touching me impersonally, like a doctor. Did you learn this from the ice bitch you're in love with, Mulder? This way of touching without giving or taking, without emotion. Thinking of Scully only reminds me of the way fate has conspired against me, the bizarre series of events that led us to Tunguska.

Mulder has been silent for a long time. He pulls the plug, rising slowly to stand over me. He looks like a giant. He doesn't speak, but his eyes move quickly to the bathroom door and then back to mine. I tell myself to let him go, it will be better once he is gone. I won't have to feel anything.

He does leave, but he comes back a moment later, with both the sheet and the blanket from the bed in his arms. He puts the blanket on the lid of the toilet, coming to stand next to the tub with the sheet.

"Can you stand up Alex?" His voice is hoarse from crying.

"What?" He called me Alex again. It sounds so gentle, the way he says it.

"Can you get up? I have to try and clean up your face, it's pretty bad."

"What's the matter, Mulder, you don't like my pretty face?" I can only open my eyes about halfway, but I still try to leer at him.

He looks shocked. Usually he just gets angry and hits me when I taunt him with it.

"Get up, Alex. It's cold in here. You're going to get pneumonia if you stay in the bathtub all night." He's right, the water is almost gone from the tub, and I'm cold.

Mulder turns his face away while I struggle slowly to my knees. I'm not sure I can pull myself to my feet. I lose my grip on my concentration for a moment. When I come back he is squatting next to the tub, reaching for me, the sheet draped over one arm. His arms wrap around my waist and he stands up, pulling me to my feet. I let him pull me out of the tub, because I know I'll fall if I don't. He's a lot stronger than he looks; I'm not easy to lift. I'm stronger than he is, though, when I'm in good physical condition. He's lankier than I am, with a slightly smaller frame. He manages to get me out of the tub, though. I'm impressed.

His arms go around me again briefly when he wraps me in the sheet. The air is freezing cold, I shiver violently, my teeth chattering while he dries me. When I'm mostly dry, he wraps the blanket around me tightly, giving me the tail end to hold.

"Be careful, I don't know if I got all the glass."

For a minute I have no idea what he's talking about, then I remember the mirror. When did he pick up the broken glass? I don't remember it. We shuffle to the door, he's keeping me upright and moving with one hand splayed at the small of my back and the other gripping my elbow. I close my eyes when we step out into the room, not caring where I'm led. The bed creaks beneath my weight. I expect to feel his weight on the bed, but he doesn't sit down.

"I have to leave you alone for a couple of minutes, I don't want you to go anywhere. I'm going to run to the drugstore on the corner and get gauze and disinfectant for your face. I should be back in ten minutes. Don't do anything stupid, Alex."

"Hey, Mulder..."

He turns back from the door, surprised.

"Pick me up some valium."

"Very funny, Krycek. Just stay put."

He pulls the door closed behind him this time, but it swings open again as soon as he leaves, revealing the dark hallway and the stairs. The sounds of people arguing filter up from the floor below, a man and a women. I can't figure out what they're arguing about, but their voices give me something to concentrate on. She's screaming louder now, "You're fuckin' crazy!"

Reminds me of a song on Appetite, it's so Mulder. When did I start doing that? Thinking of songs as being his, or a definition of some aspect of our situation. I don't know, I don't think my brain can go very far without ending up with Fox Mulder, at least not lately. My walkman is lying on the floor, where it fell. It's still in one piece, maybe it'll work for me.

I almost roll myself off the bed reaching for it, but I catch myself at the last minute, managing to hang on to the walkman and grab the edge of the bed at the same time. I've listened to this tape so many times in the last week I know I'm on the wrong side as soon as I press play. It takes me a little while, but I get the tape flipped and back in the walkman. The volume is turned all the way up, and the white noise is loud in my ears when I press the fast forward button. It's the fourth song on this side. I find it just before Mulder comes back. When he walks in the door, loaded down with plastic bags from Walgreen's, I'm snarling along with Axl.

I've been lookin' for a trace

Lookin' for a heart

Lookin' for a lover in a world that's much too dark

You don't want my love

You want satisfaction

You don't need my love

You gotta find yourself another

Piece of the action, yeah

'Cause you're crazy

You're fuckin' crazy

Ya know you are...

He sets the bags down on the table, coming over to stand at the foot of the bed. I haven't stopped singing, and he's looking at me with a combination of disgust and amusement. I let Axl finish the chorus, and pull the headphones clumsily off my ears.

"What are you listening to?" He has a strange expression on his face, I don't know what it is. Derision? Maybe just curiosity. He's always had plenty of that, but not about me. All the time I worked as his partner, I don't think he ever asked me one personal question.

"Axl."

No comprehension. I watch him pick up the tape case, shaking his head at the illustration on the cover. "You listen to Guns-n-Roses?"

Great, so now he wants to belittle my taste in music, I guess raping me wasn't enough. This makes me laugh. I can't help it, it's the way my brain works. He's standing there, at the end of the bed, hands on his hips, watching me. When he looks like he's thinking about slapping me, or perhaps considering some other method of shutting me up, I stop abruptly. Just thinking about his hands touching me cuts off the laughter.

When he's sure I'm not going to start again, he turns away, going somewhere outside my peripheral vision, I assume back to the table. I can hear him going through the plastic bags. There is a soft, constant drumming in the background. Lightning lights up the room for a quick flash and I realize it's rain, on the window. I close my eyes, letting the sound of the thunderstorm fill my head. I love the rain. I usually find myself out in it, rainy nights are excellent cover, when everyone else is somewhere safe and warm and dry. I don't mind, rats like the rain.

He comes back, with a bottle of peroxide in one hand and one of the bags in the other. He sets it down on the bed next to me before he sits down. He's on my right side, on the very edge of the bed. It's not as bad having him on this side, where I have a hand to defend myself with. It makes me feel way too vulnerable when he's on my left. I remember the gun, under the bed, and feel a little safer. I don't know why, it certainly hasn't done me any good up until now, but somehow reminding myself that it is there, loaded and within reach, makes me feel better.

I don't look at him when he sits down, or when he takes my face in his hand, turning it towards him to study it carefully. He doesn't speak as he goes through the bag at his feet, pulling out packets of gauze squares and a tube of neosporin. I watch him for a moment, then lose interest. I let my eyes drift shut, going back to the song that's still in my head. I mumble the words quietly to myself. I've listened to them so many times they're comforting, the meaning of the words themselves almost lost in my head, like a lullaby.

"Said where you goin', what you gonna do, I been lookin' everywhere...been lookin' for you... You don't want my love, you want satisfaction."

"Hold still." Mulder scolds, spreading neosporin gingerly on the cut on my scalp, where he hit me with his gun. "Why are you doing this to yourself, Alex?"

The question is so strange, I stop singing, and open my eyes to look up at him. "Thought you did it..."

He winces, closing his eyes briefly, "No, the drugs."

"Not drugs. Drug. Just one." The distinction is important to me. I have a very complicated, well defined relationship with heroin, and although I don't expect him to understand, I feel compelled to try to explain anyway.

"Why heroin?" He is soaking a pad of gauze with peroxide. I turn my face away, not thrilled about the pain that's coming.

What a complicated question. If he asked me that when I was sober, I wouldn't even bother to answer. I would lie to myself, and tell myself that I don't care what Mulder thinks of me. I do that a great deal.

"Did you ever fall in love, Mulder? With a beautiful girl?"

He looks at me a long time before he answers. His "Yeah" is accompanied by the soaked gauze being pressed to my face. Not viciously though, he's gentle.

"It's like that."

He stops what he's doing to my face to look at me, startled. "Are you serious?"

"Exactly."

"I never thought of you as the romantic type, Krycek."

"We're back to Krycek," I hiss, trying to turn my face away from the burning of the peroxide.

"What do you want me to call you?" He says it spitefully, as though it's my fault.

"Alex." I whisper, trying to focus my eyes on his. I don't know if I'm telling him the truth because I'm stoned or because it doesn't matter any more.

"All right."

I watch his eyes while he cleans my lip. It hurts, but I try to hold still. He has strange eyes, they're never any set color, always a muddy green-gray-brown.

"What color are your eyes, Mulder?" I ask him when he turns away from me to reach into the bag.

"I don't know, brown? Hazel?" He answers me distractedly, his attention on the bandage he's taping. "Why?"

"Your bio says they're gray."

"Well, gray then." He looks nervous. Am I making you nervous, Mulder?

"What kind of music do you listen to, Mulder?" I want to hear his voice, I want to take everything I can, in this rare moment when he seems perfectly willing to tell me anything.

"I don't know, everything, I guess. I like Neil Young. Why do want to know?" He's finished with the right side of my face, where he did the most damage, and turns my head to reach my left. His fingers on the side of my face evoke a strange response. I feel sick and good at the same time. I don't like it, but I don't want it to stop.

"The Needle And The Damage Done."

That's the thing about smack, it gets really difficult to control the things that come out of your mouth. Stray thoughts, secrets, truth... All things I have way too much of.

He sets the gauze down abruptly, turning my face to look into my eyes, less gently this time. "Is that what I am, your damage? That's sure as hell what you are to me, Krycek. Are you my catalyst, is that why I can't get away from you?"

"Don't ask me, Mulder, I just do what they tell me..." My head falls back to the side when he releases me, and no matter how hard I try, I can't keep my eyes open. I don't want to nod out while he's still here, it's not safe.

"That's bullshit, Alex. Did they tell you to do this? To come here? Do they tell you to shoot heroin into your veins?"

"No, Mulder. This is mine."

He doesn't want to understand, but I think he does, in spite of the contempt he needs to separate us in his mind.

"They didn't tell me to love you, either."

I don't know that I said the words out loud until I see his face. His mouth is hanging open, and the most complete expression of shock I have ever seen covers his features.

Oh Christ, I didn't mean to say that. Oh shit, fuck, not good, Alexi. Really, really not good. "Oh shit."

"How could you?" He sounds incredulous. He looks like I slapped him in the face. I'm sorry, Mulder. I didn't mean to. I really didn't mean to. It just came out.

He's grabbed the blanket I'm wrapped in, trying to shake an answer out of me. "How can you? Tell me!"

"I don't know, Mulder. I don't know." Why is it when I try to talk I can barely grasp the words and remember how to speak, but when they fall out on their own they come out crystal clear? At least that's the way it seems.

"You can't! Do you understand me, Alex? You don't!" He's shaking me, his hands on my shoulders, pulling me up off the bed.

"I'm sorry, Mulder." So sorry, Mulder, for everything. If only I could remember how to tell you. It's been so long since I told anyone I was sorry.

He's crying, and after a minute I realize that I am too. This has to be the strangest smack dream I've ever had, because it simply can't be real. Mulder has raped me, and given me a bath, and now I've told him I love him, and I'm crying. No, this can't be real, it's just not possible.

He pulls me up violently, his fingers digging into my shoulders. Then I am pressed tightly against his chest, and his arms are wrapped all the way around my back. I wait, but he doesn't let me go, and he doesn't hurt me. It's a very strange feeling, being pressed against his body. I guess this is hugging. It feels scary, good and bad at the same time. No one hugs me. I can't remember the last time someone did. I assume when I was a little boy, but I can't remember anyone ever actually doing it. The people I sleep with would never think of this, they wouldn't want me this close.

My arm comes up slowly, at first I think it's to push him away, but then, when I get to his shoulder, I find myself letting my hand lay flat in the middle of his back. Feeling foolish, I return the pressure tentatively, and press him closer. I can feel the heat of his body through his white shirt, and his breath as he inhales and exhales slowly.

"Alex" He chokes on my name, I can feel his lips against the side of my head. It's the strangest feeling, his breath in my hair. He's shaking, and then the first sob breaks against my skull and he holds me tighter, squeezing the breath out of me with his strength. Pressed against him, I can feel each sob that tears from his chest. It feels so much like it's inside me that for a moment I'm not sure that it's not me who is moaning in pain, that it's not my chest and shoulders that are heaving violently as the sobs break.

Oh God, Mulder, please, don't cry, don't hurt this much. I don't want you to. Kicking my legs free of the blanket, I use my left leg for leverage, bending my knee and bracing my foot flat on the bed to pull him towards me. It's not easy, without my left arm, I can't brace my weight to pull him onto the bed, I have to roll him over me instead.

I pull him forward until he falls over me and I roll with it, so he lands on the bed on my left, his arms still wrapped tightly around me. His face is pressed against my skull, his hands hold me to him desperately, as his body convulses from the force of his sobs. My hair is wet with his tears, the ugly sound of his moans are horribly loud in my ear.

"Shh, don't cry. Please don't cry. It's okay, It's okay." My hand moves slowly over his back. I have no idea if this is what I'm supposed to do, but I want to comfort him. I've never done this before, no one has ever cried in my arms. Is this what Scully would do? No, she'd know what to say to make him feel better, she would say something that meant something to him, so that he would know he is loved. I don't know how to do that.

"Don't cry, Mulder. It's okay. It's gonna be okay."

My poor Mulder, I wish I could make it better. I never would have wished for this, but it occurs to me that this is the most we are ever going to have. This is the closest I'm ever going to get to him.

He pulls back a little, and I can see his face. He's a mess, but all I can see is the naked pain in his eyes.

"I love you." I want him to know that someone loves him, even if it is only his enemy.

"Only somebody as fucked up as you could love me." He laughs a little, it's a dry, raspy sound.

Oh Mulder, you're so right. I try to smile at him, my swollen lip splitting when I remember how to. The smack is hitting me hard, it's time for me to let go, but I don't want to. Not yet.

I can see something inside him relenting, his eyes change, and he is looking at me with a kindness I never imagined. This look is for Scully when she's done something heroic, for little girls in mental hospitals and young men abducted by aliens. Not for me. Never for me.

He comes closer, and his then his lips press softly against my forehead. The touch of his lips is like a benediction, it sends me floating off the bed and away from this room and the reality of pain. I'm somewhere else, and Mulder is kissing me softly, his mouth pressing against my swollen lips so slowly I can barely feel it. I'm lost in my dreams, I must be, because Mulder is murmuring to me tenderly, telling me that nothing matters and he's sorry, so sorry for all the times he's hurt me. I don't care if I never wake up from this, I've never been so happy.

I can't really grasp most of what he's saying, and although I'm sorry to miss it, I'm not sorry I'm stoned. I don't think I could handle this on my own.

"I've tried so hard to hate you, I'm so sick of it, Alex. I'm so sick of the lies. Do you know, this is the first time you've spent an hour in my company without lying to me? Why does it have to be this way? Why do you have to do this to yourself, and why did I have to hurt you?"

"I'm sorry, Mulder, I'm fadin' on you... gonna nod out for a little while now... Stay with me."

I don't know if I managed to say all the words out loud or not, but I tried. At least some of it must have gotten through, though, because he presses his lips to my forehead again, sighing a huge, world weary Mulder sigh. Then he pulls me against him, guiding my head down to his shoulder.

"It's okay, it's safe. I'm not going anywhere." His arm curls around my shoulders, his fingers threading slowly through my hair.

It feels so strange, to have someone else here, to not be alone with myself. I know that Mulder's arm around my shoulders is meant to make me feel safe. It's there to comfort me, but I don't know how to feel that. I guess I'm not programmed to react that way. I don't think that's right, I want to feel something, but maybe it's only because I know he wants me to. I struggle with the problem for a time, trying to will the feeling of security. The truth is, I can't, because I can't feel fear. Not here, that's why I get high in the first place, to turn it off. Here, I don't care what happens, it doesn't matter. It's ridiculous, and I have to laugh at myself, trying to order my sluggish emotions to react to Mulder's arm around my shoulders.

"What?" He asks softly. His voice is so close. Now, I feel it, and it overwhelms me.

Total oblivion is a hair's breath away, but I keep fighting my way back, so that I can be with him. I find his eyes, and go swimming in the green gold circles around his irises.

"You're just like the sun, Mulder."

"Am I?" I don't know what he means, I don't remember what I've told him, but I have his voice caressing my ear again, and it feels so good. I can feel his voice touching me everywhere.

Everything has slowed down, so slow that I can feel the planet moving. I can hear the whole world turning in the space between my heartbeats. Mulder is still there, close to me. I'm aware of his presence in a way that seems separate to everything else, as if this Mulder is an individual reality unto himself.

This doesn't seem so strange. In my world, it is entirely common for opposing truths to exist in parallel. Reality is created by those that have the power to do so. So maybe they created him, and this Mulder has nothing to do with the one that makes them so angry. Would they go through that much trouble just for me? Do they know that much?

"Did they make you? Did they send you to me?"

"Shh, hush, no paranoia now, okay? It's okay, rat bastard, you don't have to be afraid." His voice is so beautiful. Something soft brushes my forehead and I feel myself floating away.

I am conscious of time passing, in a way that seems disconnected from the other sensations. Floating near the ceiling, becoming a part of the rain sounds against the window. My wandering conscious keeps going back to Mulder's eyes, watching me. He looks peaceful.


When I come back, Mulder is lying on his side next to me, popping sunflower seeds from a bag on the blanket.

"Hi, are you in there?"

Only Mulder would ask that question right. "Yeah, mostly. Is it night time?"

"Late. One a.m."

"That's good." Everything is good, I'm happy, and suddenly full of energy. I sit up on the bed, not surprised when the world spins. I don't expect this world to act anything like the one I'm familiar with, not when Mulder speaks to me so gently.

"Are you thirsty?"

"Yes." I don't know if I really am or not, but I say it to please him.

He presses a can into my hand, wrapping my fingers around it.

"You got it?"

I think I do, but as soon as he lets go I drop it. His hand is still there, and he catches it before the soda can spill.

"Didn't think so." Mulder raises the can to my lips, tilting it towards me. "Swallow."

I follow his direction, and feel wetness pass over my tongue. Grape soda.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." Mulder grins at me, "They wouldn't give me any valium, but I did get these." He reaches into the bag next to the bed and tosses a package of cherry slices in my lap. They're my favorite, I'm addicted to the sugar covered gummy slices, but I didn't know he knew that.

"Gosh, Mulder, you shouldn't have." I grin back at him, trying to tear the plastic package with my teeth. I can't seem to get it in my mouth.

"Here, give it to me." Mulder takes the candy from me, tearing the package and handing it back. "I don't think hand-eye coordination is your strong point right now."

"Probably not," I laugh, still somewhat shocked by the fact that I am lying in a bed next to Fox Mulder, who is feeding me candy and teasing me gently about the amount of smack I've put in my veins. Lying naked in bed next to Mulder, my brain reminds me. Right, and how am I supposed to feel about this? My brain doesn't seem to have an answer.

"Why are you being nice to me, Mulder?" My question startles the smile off his face, and I'm sorry I asked before he answers.

"I'm not being nice to you."

"Yes you are." I argue, feeling about nine years old.

"No, I'm not."

"Mulder, come on, I'm not that fucked up, well, not at the moment. You're being very nice to me."

He doesn't answer this time, instead, his lips come closer, brushing against my cheek. He kisses me again, pressing his lips softly to my cheekbone before he speaks. "You told me you loved me, Alex, don't you remember? Can't I try to be what you want for a few hours? Don't you want to break the rules?" His voice is a whisper against my skin, so totally alluring... I can't believe he's saying this to me.

"Did you fall down the rabbit hole, Mulder?"

He laughs, and for once there is only irony and not bitterness in his laughter. "Maybe I did. Do you want one of these?" He takes a cherry slice out of the bag, offering the crystallized confection to my lips.

My tongue reaches out for the sugar, licking at it, and he chuckles, holding it up for me. "That's obscene, Alex."

"Uh-uh," I argue sensibly, licking at the cherry slice. I can't get it past my swollen lips anyway, and besides, it's fun making Mulder hold it for me.

"You're pretty funny." He's smiling at me, letting me get his fingers all red and sticky.

"So are you." I mumble back, displeased when he takes my candy away.

Mulder raises the cherry slice to his lips, sniffing it suspiciously before taking a small bite. He leans down to the corner of my mouth, and his tongue pushes the piece of soft candy past my lips, lingering for just a second before pulling away. I chew, watching his eyes. Remembering to swallow, I watch him take another small bite. Sugar crystals stick to his upper lip. I see no ulterior motive in his eyes. He is enjoying it, but he's doing this simply to please me.

I take the gummy candy from his teeth this time, reaching up for it when he comes close enough. It feels like a very strange thing to do, and it causes a powerful chain reaction in me, being this close to him. I'm not sure if it's because I'm so high I'm floating or not, but the thought forms that taking candy from Mulder's mouth is the very best thing that's ever happened to me. Certainly the sweetest. I suck on the sugar for a moment, and then pass it back to him, pushing it into his mouth with my tongue.

He pulls back, a startled expression in his eyes, and then a question. Don't ask, Mulder, please don't ask me for permission, I don't want you to.

"Are you okay? Does it hurt?" His fingers come up to touch my lower lip lightly.

"No, it doesn't hurt."

He looks relieved, I'm glad I gave him the answer he wanted. It doesn't, really, I can't feel it. I can't feel any of the places he hurt me, but knowing they're there scares the shit out of me. I'm trying not to think about it.

"More?" His voice is slightly deeper, he brings the cherry slice to his lips, waiting for me to answer him.

"Yes." I hear myself whisper, watching his small, even teeth bite into the glistening red candy.

He feeds me the remainder of the slice this way, a tiny bit at time. His tongue slips into my mouth, lingering a little longer after each small piece. We suck on the last bit together, passing it back and forth around our tongues until it melts completely. I'm vaguely aware of the fact that he's laid me down again, the pillow pulled behind my head. He's a wonderful kisser. I don't know why, but I was sure he would be. He has a beautiful mouth.

The cherry slice is gone, and he's put the bag on the night stand, but he asks me again, in a whisper, "More?"

"Yes." I feel as if the word is being pulled out of me by his eyes, they won't let me lie to him.

"Yes." He answers me quietly, leaning in for another kiss.

His mouth still tastes like the candy, his lips move quickly, dropping small kisses all around my mouth. Somehow, he manages to avoid my split lower lip completely. Mulder turns onto to his side, propping himself up on one elbow and pulling me closer. I wish I could do that. I lay still, letting him settle me against his chest. I have no idea how I got here.

He smells good, his body is warm and solid, the fabric of his dress shirt smooth beneath my cheek. I listen to him breath, trying to remember why I shouldn't let him hold me like this. His arms wrap all the way around me, but loosely, allowing me room to move in his embrace.

I don't move. I don't talk, but I listen to his voice, letting the beautiful sound wash over me, absorbing every quiet word.

"Is this what you wanted, Alex? Will you let me give you this? Please? Just for a little while. Will you let me in? You're so good at lying, ratfink, sometimes I don't think even you know who you really are. Will you let me in? I have to know, Alex, I have to know what's underneath all the lies."

"You. You are. All for you." I whisper against his fingers, which have been lightly tracing my face all the time he's been talking. I'm drowning in his eyes, wondering if I somehow shot myself full of sodium pentathal instead of heroin. I can't seem to tell him anything but the truth.

"Alex..." I watch emotion spill over in his eyes, and then he pulls me tightly against him, holding me with a fierce protectiveness I never could have imagined. So this is what it feels like, to be loved. It's almost painful. I push my face into his chest, turning my head so that it's my not swollen cheek that presses into his sternum.

"I'm sorry, too, Mulder. For everything. I don't want to think about it... Don't make me. Kiss me, Mulder, let me forget." It's easier to ask for this pressed against his chest, when I can't see his eyes.

He does, his lips sucking softly at my upper lip. My tongue reaches for him, remembering the sweetness of his mouth. Our tongues and teeth are dyed bright red from the candy, and it's a sloppy kiss, between my split lip and his attempt not to hurt me.

I don't think this is a good idea, not by any means, but my mind keeps going back to the idea that this is the closest I'm ever going to get to him. This is all we're ever going to have, and I'm greedy. I want it, under any circumstances, I want anything he will give me. I always have.

My hand comes up to touch his face. Tracing his lips, a little spark of pleasure goes through me when he kisses my fingertips.

"Kiss me, G-man." I tease him, and I can't help returning his grin. He laughs a little, shaking his head at me as he gathers me closer in his arms, so that we are pressed against each other from knee to shoulder.

When he does kiss me, it's just the barest brush of his mouth against the left side of my lips. He seems content to stay there, nibbling and licking delicately at the uninjured side of my mouth. My hand has moved to his shoulder. It drifts slowly down his arm and up again while his lips cover my face with soft kisses. His breath is warm, and sweet from the candy. His lips are still slightly sticky.

"You look so lost, Alex." He whispers near my ear, his lips drifting lightly over my throat.

"I am." Definitely lost, because right now he is my only point of reference, the only thing that's real.

"Am I scaring you?" His mouth closes gently over my skin, sucking just a little, not hard enough to leave a bruise.

"Yes."

"Do you want me to stop?"

"No." Please, no, Mulder. I don't care how wrong this is, I don't want you to stop.

"There is something very wrong with you, Alex." He says it kindly, and I can tell that he is mocking himself as much as he is me.

"You too, Mulder."

I can feel his chuckle against my skin, and then he turns his head, nuzzling softly into my neck.

"Isn't that the first thing they told you about me?"

"Mm-mm. First thing they told me was that you didn't have any weaknesses. Nothing to lose."

He pulls back quickly, asking me, "Is that what they wanted you to be, Alex? My weakness?"

He's just a little too close to the truth, and I squirm in his arms, suddenly very aware of the fact that I am naked and Mulder is fully clothed.

"I'm sorry. It doesn't matter. I don't care. It doesn't matter any more."

"Really?"

"Yes. I don't care. They can't control everything. Come back here, let me give you something besides pain. Please, Alex? Just let me give you something to feel..."

Something to feel. What a strange and wonderful offering. Maybe he knows how little of that I really have. Sometimes I have to remind myself, actually force myself to feel, to react emotionally. I call it an occupational hazard, and try to laugh it off, but the truth is that the idea that someday I may forget how to feel entirely scares me to death. I don't want to end up like them, like the cold hearted men I work for.

Something to replace the picture in my mind of Mulder on top of me, forcing his way inside me. Yes, I need that, and it seems to make sense to take it from him. Certainly no one else could replace these memories, which will surely evolve into nightmares once Mulder and the heroin are both gone.

"Yes, something else."

He nods in understanding, wincing at my reference to his violent claiming of my body earlier this evening. No, Mulder, don't hate yourself. If it had to happen, to get us here, then I have no regrets. It's true, but I don't know how to tell him. I wish I could. I want to make the pain disappear from his eyes.

"You would have such pretty eyes, Mulder, if it weren't for the pain."

"Ah, Alex Krycek, opiated philosopher." He's teasing me again, his voice is so low and gentle that I want him to keep talking. I don't even care what he calls me, just so that I can have his voice in my ear.

"Are you mocking me, Mulder?"

"No, I'm kissing you." And then he does, and I forget all about his voice and go searching for his tongue.

Oh, Mulder, you feel so incredibly good. So solid and real and oddly familiar. His mouth is soft, totally undemanding. His arms have relaxed again, and he holds me tenderly. His tongue explores the inside of my mouth slowly, and I let him, wondering if this kiss will go on forever.

After what feels like a very long time, he releases my mouth with a last little kiss, pulling back to look down at me.

"Gorgeous. Even high as a kite and black and blue, you're still gorgeous."

He smiles, and I feel absolutely sure that what he says is true. It's the way he looks at me, as if he will never get enough of looking at me, and he wants to remember this always. I know that's exactly how I feel right now, I want this to last forever, or at least to be able to remember every tiny detail, everything he says, every smile he gives me, exactly what his eyes look like when he tells me I'm gorgeous.

"Are you an angel, Mulder, or just a dream?"

"Nothing like an angel. It does feel more like a dream than reality though, doesn't it?"

I smile against his throat, he's turned his head to whisper in my ear. "Don't ask me, Mulder. I'm on drugs, remember?"

"No, just one."

I guess he does remember, amazing. "You're still the one in charge of keeping track of reality here, tovarich, not me."

"What does that mean?"

"Friend." I whisper, almost afraid to tell him. It feels like I've given away a secret. Of course, I already have, I've told him the truth, a little more won't matter now.

"I'm not your friend, ratfink." He says it tenderly, almost regretfully, while his lips kiss all the way around my hairline.

"I know."

"Do you want me to be?" He whispers against my temple, kissing my closed eyelids so lightly I can feel the curve of his smile.

"You can't be. But sometimes I pretend..." My words drift off, as his lips return to mine, taking the necessity for words away, and giving me a much better way to express myself.

I feel bereft when his lips drift away, moving slowly across my face and down my throat again. He pauses at the hollow of my throat to ask me, "Are you pretending now?"

"Yes."

"You don't have to pretend, Alex. I'm your friend."

"No you're not." I'd rather have the truth from him than anything. I don't want him to lie to me, not even to tell me the things I want to hear most.

"I'm here because I care what happens to you. I came back because I couldn't walk away and leave you alone and in pain. For tonight, that makes me your friend. Let me in, Alex, just let me in." He has taken my face gently in his hands, turning my eyes to look at him. A soft glow surrounds his features. It's the dope, I know, but he looks so beautiful I choke on the words when I try to tell him.

"You are... So much more than I deserve."

"No. No, listen to me. I'm just as fucked up as you are, and you know it. It doesn't matter, ratfink, it doesn't matter at all. I care about you."

I can't find anything to say, I just stare into his unwavering, beautiful eyes, and drink him in. His hand has slipped under the blanket. It hovers over my chest, not quite touching me. I hold very still, waiting for it, trying not to be afraid.

"Will you let me touch you Alex?"

Oh God, he's going to make me give him permission, and I'm afraid that I won't be able to, even though I'm suddenly filled with a hunger for his touch stronger than any attraction I've ever felt. My fingers grip his shoulder, bunching up the fabric of his shirt when I try to pull him over on top of me. Realizing that he won't respond until I do, I nod, trying to form the word "yes."

"Just relax, just let yourself enjoy it," he murmurs, his palm flattening cautiously on my chest.

I hear myself sigh, as his palm moves slowly over my skin. His touch is so light, barely there. I wonder if he is this gentle with all his lovers, or if it's the damage he did earlier that makes him touch me as if I were in danger of breaking under his hands.

"Mulder... I don't know if I'll be able to..."

"Shh, it doesn't matter. Just let me touch you. Let me in."

"Please." I can't quite believe I've said it until I do. I never say please. I never ask for anything when I'm fucking somebody. Being naked in bed with Mulder isn't anything like sex. But it feels good, so good, that I'm losing my hold on myself again, falling painlessly into tiny fragments under his hands.

"That's it, just let yourself feel it. You're beautiful, Alex, did you know that? Everything about you is dangerous to me. You kill me. Every single time I've ever looked at you, I died a little inside. Let me show you..."

His hand moves slowly over my body, his touch frees something that's been trapped inside me, and I have to laugh, with pure happiness. He smiles down at me, a quizzical look on his face.

"I'm sorry. I'm happy, Mulder. I'm just happy."

He shakes his head slowly, and leans down to kiss my laughing mouth. "Don't be sorry."

This time, I don't want to let go of his lips. I reach up to wrap my arm around him, dragging him half on top of me in my enthusiasm. His mouth gentles me, his tongue stroking slowly again and again over my mine, the same soft pattern of pressure. I feel as if he is feeding me, giving me something I never knew I wanted, something I can't even name.

He's careful with his weight, holding his bulk off me with one arm braced on the bed. The blanket has been pushed away and his wool slacks are rough against my skin. Memory flashes back, and I choke against his mouth, trying to push it away.

Mulder raises himself up off my chest, concern in his gold flecked eyes. "What is it? Did I hurt you?"

I'm scared, I'm so scared, but I force the words out, pausing to gather my breath after each one. "Mulder... Please. Take your pants off."

"Okay. Are you okay, Alex?" His voice is deep, so gentle. The way he says my name. Horrible regret fills me up and I have to press my face into his shoulder, afraid that I'm going to cry. I'm so sorry that it happened, and it can't be his fault, not when he is being so incredibly kind to me. It must be mine. I feel so bad, for letting it happen. I want to apologize to him, but I can't. I didn't want to add to his nightmares, he has more than enough already.

"Please? Please, just do it?" I beg him in a whisper.

"Shh, easy, relax. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, of course I will." He moves far enough away to undo his slacks, pushing them down his tan legs and kicking them off the bed.

He doesn't move back over me once his legs are bare, he stays on his side, a careful inch away from me on the mattress. Is it because he doesn't want to touch me with his body? For an agonizing minute I lay there, looking up at him, full of self-revulsion. I feel so ugly, I have nothing to give. Then he takes me in his arms, and I am lost in his warmth and the tenderness of his voice in my ear.

"Don't be afraid, Alex, please don't be afraid. I'm not going to hurt you, tovarich, I promise." He pronounces the endearment all wrong, and it's the most devastating thing I've ever heard.

"I'm not afraid."

"Good." His lips nibble at my earlobe, sucking just a little. It makes me shiver, pleasure coursing slowly through my body, like the heroin, but less elusive. I turn my head to the side, offering him more of my body. It's so easy not to think now, with his arms around me and the warmth of his bare skin against mine. He's wearing flannel boxers, the cloth is very soft on my thighs, and I'm not afraid.

His lips return to my mouth, kissing me gently, his tongue sliding slowly over mine. Gradually, his tongue becomes playful, drawing me into his mouth, sucking softly. The first twitch of interest from my cock surprised me, and I make a small sound against his mouth.

"Mm, relax, it's okay." He whispers, gathering me closer in his arms. Ah, God, I think I need this.

"Mulder?"

"What?" He whispers against my skin, his pressing soft kisses across my collar bone. He's making me shiver, little sparks of pleasure shooting through me, like tiny electric shocks.

"Stay with me. Don't let go."

"I won't. I promise."

My hand clutches at his shoulder as his lips brush lightly over my skin. He is covering my shoulders with warm, soft kisses. The press of his mouth against my skin makes it hard to breathe, I am so completely focused on the sensation.

"Breathe, Alex," He encourages me in a whisper. The rush of his breath against my skin, wet from his kisses, sends a jolt of heat down to my groin, and my cock stiffens a little under his thigh. He fingers stroke lightly over my bare skin, tracing patterns up and down my rib cage.

I feel like I'm melting under his touch, literally. My muscles relax and my bones turn to jelly under the light, repetitive touch of his fingers. His eyes move slowly over my body, it is obvious that he takes pleasure in my response to him. I breathe his name, wanting to tell him how perfectly good this feels, but I'm totally unable to find the words.

"Mulder..."

"Yes. I know." His voice is deeper, but still gentle.

I close my eyes, and I feel like I am falling into his arms. I need this, I need his arms around me. I need his warmth, I need his voice and his touch and his butterfly kisses. My fingers claw feebly at his shirt collar, trying to ask him to take it off.

When he tries to pull away I clutch at him, suddenly afraid of being outside the shelter of his arms. His hands press me back against the mattress, covering me partially with his body when he lets go to unbutton his shirt.

"It's okay, don't worry, I'm not going to leave you." He does pull away, only for a moment, and then his chest is bare against mine, so warm, smooth skin, and I can feel his heart beating.

"Oh, Mulder..." My cock is hard under the warmth of his thigh, and it's as if the contact with his soft skin is all I can feel now, my hand moving to his hip to try to press him harder against me.

"Mm, yes. It feels good, doesn't it?" He shifts a little, his thigh slipping between my legs to press up against me.

"Oh!" I'm arching helplessly towards the pressure of his thigh, and his arms go underneath me, lifting me up to hold me against his chest.

"You feel wonderful," he tells me softly, nuzzling into the side of my throat. "Will you let me touch you? Will you let me make you come?"

"Yes!" I sob, my brain only able to grasp the idea that he wants my consent, and if I give it this pleasure will continue, I won't lose him.

One hand moves from my back, reaching between us to take my cock gently in his fist.

"Ahh..." He's barely touching me, his grasp is so light, and it sends waves of pleasure coursing through me so intense that I feel as if I am drowning in it.

"Oh God, Alex, you look so sweet, so beautiful..." His hand strokes me lightly, the slight friction just enough to be satisfying rather than frustrating.

"Mm... Yeah, Mulder. Don't stop." I'm still so afraid that he's going to let go, that at the moment when I need his arms around me most, he will let go, and I will fall forever.

"No. I won't stop." His voice shakes, and I have to open my eyes. His are bright and full of tears, but his cheeks are dry.

"Don't..."

He smiles, and comes closer, his lips covering my gently and taking my tongue into his mouth. Once I'm inside the warm, soft cavern of his mouth, I can't get deep enough inside him. I feel like every part of my body is reaching for him, wanting him. I suck on his tongue, my fingers digging into the muscles of his back.

"Yes, that's it. Let go."

I'm rushing, so fast and high that I have no control over it at all. I'm going to burn up, I'm going to disintegrate in his hands. The friction and the heat are unbearable pleasure. I push myself towards it mindlessly, moaning out loud with the desire to be closer, to be held tighter, stroked faster.

"So sweet, exquisite... You are the most incredible thing I've ever seen."

His voice is a low vibration in my ear, pulling me down into a spiral of ecstasy so intense I lose myself completely. I don't know who or what or where I am, I don't know which way is up or if I can draw another breath. The pleasure seizes me, swallows me whole. I want to scream for him, I want to tell him to hold me, not to let me fall, but I can't make a sound. His hand tightens around the head of my cock, squeezing gently, and then the arm behind my back pulls me up tightly against him, and he whispers in my ear. "I've got you."

I throw my head back, wrapping my arm tightly around his neck, and explode. The fire that burns through me leaves total oblivion in it's wake, and I melt into his arms, enveloped in soft, safe blackness.

I'm vaguely aware of his hand supporting the back of my head, laying me back, and his weight against my left side. I turn into the shelter of his body, reaching blindly for his mouth. Soft, incredibly gentle lips cover mine, touching me with something like reverence.

When I open my eyes, he is staring at me, his eyes hooded and crinkled with pleasure. His fingers run through my hair, and a peacefulness I have never imagined envelops me. I could die happily now, just let go in the safety of his arms. It's not death, although it feels like it. It's only come-down calling, reminding me that nothing lasts forever, or even as long as you need it to.

"Mulder?" My voice sounds rusty.

He smiles, leaning in to kiss me softly before he answers. "What is it, Alex?"

"I'm going to sleep for a long time now. I want you to do something for me..."

"Anything." He cuddles me closer, and the happiness that bubbles up inside me is tainted by the words I force out into the air between us.

"I want you to leave, while I'm sleeping. I want to say good-bye now, Mulder."

"Why? I don't have to go yet..." His arms tighten around me just a little, and instead of scaring me, or making me angry, it breaks my heart. I want to beg him to stay. Of course I can't, he can't. We couldn't ever be anything, but I'm not sorry, no matter how much worse it will be when he's gone.

"Not yet, but you have to. You will. I don't want to be green and puking when you leave me, Mulder. I don't want you to see it... I want to say good-bye now, and fall asleep with you here."

I watch his lips compress, fighting the urge to beg him not to feel this pain. He has as much right to his damage as I do.

"Are you sure that's what you want? You'll be okay, alone?"

"Yes." I can't talk right, there's a lump in my throat.

"Okay, tovarich, I'll leave you, but not yet."

"No, not yet." I whisper, pulling him closer, reveling in the touch of his skin against mine. I have no doubt that I will never feel this again, I need to remember exactly what he feels like.

His lips brush my forehead, and he sighs, turning his head to rest his cheek at my temple. "Sleep, Alex. Stay alive."

"Remember... don't forget." I want to tell him I love him again, I want to tell him that he has to remember, no matter what, but I can't force the words out.

"I won't." He kisses me again, so tenderly, and I know he understands.

"Good-bye Alex," he whispers against my lips, and I have to close my eyes. If I look into his for another moment I will beg him to stay, and take care of me. This can't be good, what he's done to me. I've never wanted anyone else to take care of me.

"Good-bye, Mulder." I force the words out against his lips, and then reach for him hungrily, devouring the soft flesh as if one kiss could change the world.

It can't, I'll wake up here, and he'll be gone, and I'll have to sift through the wreckage, and try to understand what's happened to us here. But for this one moment in time, I have him next to me, and his arms are wrapped around me, and I can fall asleep with his warm breath against my cheek. It's all we'll ever have, and it's not nearly enough.


Ooh, a storm is threatening

My very life today

If I don't get some shelter

Ooh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'

Our very street today

Burns like a red coal carpet

Mad bull lost its way

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

Rape, murder, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

Rape, murder, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

Rape, murder, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away

Uhm, the flood is threatening

My very life today

Gimme, gimme shelter

Or I'm gonna fade away

Song lyrics borrowed without permission from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.


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