Where There's Smoke
by Ursula
Where There's Smoke....
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
As they stepped out of the air-conditioned building, Mulder immediately took off his jacket. He asked, "Alex, are you okay? I know what tomorrow means to you."
"Yeah, sure, I'm fine. It's just an anniversary. We can celebrate any time," Alex said.
The Federal Courthouse was a remodeled train station. The two FBI agents stood next to a bronzed statue of a group of waiting passengers. "I am sorry," Mulder said. "I can't believe that they took all day to argue obscure laws of evidence with us cooling our heels in the waiting area."
"Shit-heads," Alex said with feeling. He said, "I want to talk to Walter in private. Do you mind if we go straight back to the hotel?"
"No problem," Mulder assured his junior partner. They waited for Scully, who had stayed to chat with the assistant attorney general, Scott Keyes.
"Mulder, Krycek," Scully called to them as she emerged from the big doors. "Guys, go on without me. Scott asked me out."
Scott already? Mulder smiled and said, "Quick moving guy. I wish for Alex's sake that the trial moved as fast."
A little out of breath from trotting around the big building in her not-quite-sensible heels, Dana blushed and said, "Oh, Mulder, really!" She patted Krycek's arm and said, "I really am sorry, Alex. I know how important tomorrow is to you and Walter."
"We'll live," Alex commented, but he couldn't quite hide his misery.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Mulder said.
Scully shuddered and said, "How about I skip most of the things you would do?"
Smiling, Scully turned back to where her date was waiting. Scott Keyes was exotic with his dark skin, blue eyes, intense gaze, and his lips as full and pouting as Mulder's. He wouldn't have minded something like that himself if Keyes swung his way instead of Scully's.
Of course, he had already lost something better. Mulder shrugged. At least, he had regained Alex's friendship. That had taken some doing. Still, he couldn't help thinking of the road not taken. If he had been the one who charged off to confront and save Agent Krycek instead of his boss.
Once, Alex had been his. Once they had been falling in love. Once they had burned with passion in the best physical relationship that Mulder had ever experienced.
But now, Alex belonged to Walter Sergei Skinner as Walter belonged to him.
The turning point was day after Dana Scully had been kidnapped. Mulder had spent the night before weeping in Alex's arms. They had made love the last time that morning and in the afternoon, he had asked for Alex's keys. The look that Alex shot him was the last they would exchange as lovers.
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
"This is a serious allegation, Agent Mulder," Walter said. He wanted to look everywhere but into his agent's eyes. Mulder had not shaved in at least two days; heavy, dark stubble covered his cheeks. Walter could not imagine how the man felt, his beloved partner betrayed by his lover...
"So long as it's true," Mulder bleakly said.
The fact that he was not shouting, not pacing was significant. Mulder slumped in despair, barely able to hold the heavy wieght of his head up.
"Agent Krycek was hired or suborned by an outside agency to impede a federal investigation and may be responsible for the death of a suspect in a capitol murder case?" Walter asked. He didn't want to believe it. He had his suspicions, but he had not wanted to believe it. His hands formed fists as he read the report.
"It goes on," Mulder said, sitting down.
"And the possible murder of the tram operator at Skyland Mountain?" Walter asked, shaking his head. The tram operator had not turned up dead or alive, but Krycek had been left alone with him.
Walter said, "There's a lot of blood on this document, Agent Mulder. Are you standing behind this, going on the record?"
The stare that Walter Skinner had aimed in his direction seemed intended to read his soul. After a moment, Walter nodded as if satisfied with what he saw, although he looked far from happy about Mulder's conclusions.
"Yes, sir," Mulder said.
Walter pressed the intercom button for Kim and said to Mulder, "Then you damn well better have the facts to back it up."
When Kim answered, Walter told her, "I need to see Agent Krycek immediately." He stood up and looked out the window, rubbing his forehead. He wondered at Mulder, at the instant rejection of a man with whom he had been in love. Yet, Mulder adored Scully; she was more than a friend to him, seeming to represent every person he had ever loved and lost. She was sister, friend, as well as partner.
"I can't protect you, Agent Mulder. Past a point, this will become a larger Bureau matter," Walter said. He turned to look at Mulder, seeing the pain in his eyes. "All right, what have you got?"
Mulder pulled an evidence bag from his pocket. Walter could see that it contained a cigarette butt. He tossed it next to the ashtray on Skinner's desk, full of the same butts.
"I found this in Agent Krycek's car. He doesn't smoke. Agent Krycek was the last person with Duane Barry before he died. He was also the last person to see the tram operator before he disappeared. When I got to the top of Skyline Mountain, I saw an unmarked helicopter working the area. I believe that Agent Krycek gave away the whereabouts of Duane Barry and Agent Scully to the people for whom he is working," Mulder said.
Guilt sent a hot flush through Walter's body. If Mulder condemned Krycek on this evidence then why was he talking to Walter? Why did he never ask who the silent man in the background was at staff conferences?
"And who is that?" Walter asked.
Shaking his head, Mulder replied, "I don't know, the military? Some covert organization within the government. Whoever it is that the man who smokes those cigarettes works for."
"Why?" Skinner asked. He picked up the evidence bag. Spender, the bastard, had his hands everywhere. His cold claw kept a grip on Walter's leash. Walter weighed his career against the satisfaction of putting an end to Spender and regretted the indiscretions that had let the man to collar him. At the time, Walter had told himself that it was because he had to protect Sharon. He also had to consider his friends, who had helped him to the position he now had. Now, he realized that each indiscretion led to a new one and that the line he kept drawing was never going to stop Spender until Walter really took a stand.
"Because Agent Scully got too close to whatever it is they're trying to deny. Because she had hard and damning evidence, that metallic implant in her possession. Or because her termination would prevent further involvement with me and my work," Mulder said, fury and grief mixed until he was nearly maniac.
"Do you think Agent Scully's dead?" Walter asked. He swallowed hard, hoping it was not true, but fearing the worst. He liked Dana Scully and respected her.
"I don't know. How far do you think they'd go?" Mulder asked.
Walter often wondered that himself. He only knew that the Bureau was rotten. His first impulse when Spender had approached him was to go to his superior.
Fielding had said, "Skinner, just be happy that important men are taking an interest in your career. Discretion is an important part of your job. Show me that you know how to use it."
"What do you know about Agent Krycek?" Mulder asked.
Walter wanted to ask why he was asking now. After his initial reluctance, Mulder hadn't taken long to invite the young agent into his bed. Walter remembered Alex coming to him after it happened. Stammering as he tried to tell Walter that he had fallen in love with Mulder. Walter hadn't even kissed him. It had all been subtle courtship after he had met Krycek in a certain bar that an innocent heterosexual agent should not have frequented.
It had been easy enough to dismiss Krycek with a lecture on being discreet. Saying to him, "Perhaps you misunderstood my interest?"
Like hell...
"I didn't give him the assignment, I only..." Walter started to say when the phone rang.
Kim said, "Agent Krycek isn't here. He didn't call in and the Phone Company said that someone just disconnected the service."
"Yes. Thank you," Walter said to his secretary. He carefully placed the phone back in its cradle. He looked at Mulder and said; "Agent Krycek didn't show up for work this morning. His home number has been disconnected"
Sitting down, Walter felt leaden. Somehow, he felt sure that Alex had been genuine, more than just a plant to discredit Mulder or to control him.
A ragged breath came from Mulder's chest. His eyes showed the agony he felt for one moment, before he converted his grief to anger, "That's it? He's gone, he just disappears into the woodwork?"
"So it would appear," Walter said, folding his hands in front of him. Alex Krycek's face appeared in his memory. He was young, vulnerable, and not very discreet. He remembered how Spender had suborned him. Reeled him inch by inch, every step of the way making Skinner think he could stop anytime. Was that what happened to Krycek?
Walter was standing up, grabbing his coat before he even knew what he was thinking. Mulder asked, "Sir, where are you going?"
"To stop something from happening. To make a stand," Walter said.
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
Driving like an Indianapolis 500 professional, Walter covered the distance to Krycek's modest apartment in record time. He didn't know why he felt sure that he could catch him, but some gut instinct said that he could.
And there he was, coming out of the apartment building with his guitar case. Walter leapt out of his car and yelled, "Krycek, stop. I can help you."
The agent panicked, but he wouldn't drop his precious guitar. He sprinted for the Ford Taurus parked in the loading zone. Walter caught him before he could get the door open and slammed into the lithe young body, pressing Krycek against the car.
"Whatever they have on you, Alex, you're making the wrong choice," Walter said, pinning Krycek. The struggle was arousing him and his words seemed thick. He leaned all of his wieght into holding Krycek immobile. The guitar case dropped to the ground as Krycek let out an agonized cry.
"I'll go to prison," Alex said, "I couldn't take that. Why don't you just shoot me?"
"I can help you," Walter said. "Help me get Dana Scully back. Help me expose the men who are blackmailing you."
A gasp greeted that. Krycek said, "How did you know?"
"You think you're the only one it ever happened to?" Walter replied. The shock on Krycek's face said he never considered that Spender and company might own a piece of anyone else.
"We will talk some place more discreet," Walter said, snapping handcuffs on Krycek. He reached into Krycek's jeans for the keys.
"My guitar," Alex said.
"Yeah," Walter said.
"They didn't pack it for me," Alex said. "They said I didn't need it and I pretended to agree, but it's me. I thought it was the only thing left of my real life. Oh God! Mulder...does Mulder know about me?"
"You left Spender's cigarettes in your car and Mulder made one of his leaps of logic," Walter explained as he put the guitar in the crowded back seat. He added as he turned the key in the ignition. "He brought his suspicions to me. He wanted you arrested."
"They'll kill me," Alex said. He moaned softly and said, "If Fox doesn't do it for them." Turning away, the young man pressed his eyes shut, dark lashes thickly brushing nearly to his cheekbones. Walter saw the tears start to fall.
"Do you know what they did with Dana Scully?" Walter asked. "Is she alive?"
"Yeah, she's alive, but Spender didn't tell me where. I remember he took me some place after...after he showed me the file he had on me," Alex said. His face glowered. "I thought maybe I could find out if I went along with Spender. I didn't want to hurt her, but it was she or Fox. I chose the one I didn't love. I'm weak, sir, that's how they got me."
"Was it your sexuality?" Walter asked, "Is that what he used?"
"It wasn't that I'm gay, sir. I could take that being discovered. It's that when I was a cop, I was shot. It was my shoulder and there was a lot of pain. The doctor put me on morphine and...I don't know how it happened, but I became addicted. I was a fucking junkie for two years before I got this call from Internal Affairs. I thought the shit was going to hit the fan, but I was relieved in a way. I thought I could kick it if I had help and that would be good even if I couldn't be a cop anymore," Alex said. "I walked into the room and Spender was there, smoking with a file folder in front of him. I was wondering where he came from. Didn't recognize him from I.A."
"He has puppets everywhere," Walter said. He pulled the car into the airport terminal and paid for parking. Winding his way higher and higher into the maze of the garage, he had a taste of ashes in his mouth. His indiscretion was a period of role-playing with BDSM. It was his first separation from Sharon. She said he didn't really love her and that maybe he couldn't really love women. Walter knew she was wrong. He wasn't good at relationships, but he fell in love all too easily. It was stopping loving that was hard. He hadn't been unfaithful to her with a man or a woman. Not until the separation and not until he saw her dating a close friend. After that, a friend's casual invitation to a dungeon party had led him into the deeps of that world. To this day, he didn't know how Spender got the pictures.
"I looked and he had a statement from my dealers. He even had a report that I took heroin from the evidence room, which was dated the next day. He said that he could ruin me or he could help me. There were pictures of me shooting up and my mom...my mother was dying of cancer and that would have killed her on the spot. He kept saying that I wouldn't be hurting anyone and that I would really be doing the right thing. He said I could be part of a glorious covert struggle to defend humanity," Alex said.
Head flung back against the car seat, Alex laughed. He said, "Patriot Games...I believed him. He said he could get me off the stuff without pain and without anyone knowing. He had a signed vacation slip from my boss."
"Then what happened?" Walter asked.
Rubbing his left shoulder, Alex said, "He took me to this place. It was like a private hospital on a military base. They gave me some shots and the craving left me like that. It was a miracle. You don't know how it felt to be free of the need. "
"I was always a nosy person. My mom used to say..." Alex said.
"Did she pass?" Walter asked.
"Yeah, she died the day after I graduated from the academy,' Alex answered. "Anyway, I picked the lock and went roving around. There was all kind of shit going down. I didn't understand any of it. Experiments, pregnant woman, babies in jars...I was caught, but Spender told me he was pleased with me. He liked a guy who refused to be left in the dark."
Sitting up, Alex said, "I was a dumb fuck. I let him flatter me. He showed me aliens, real mother fucking aliens. I just about pissed my pants when I saw them. Spender told me that I could be part of a last ditch effort to protect our race from them, to save Earth. I fell for it. I believed I was doing the right thing right up to when they took Scully. How can you say you are nobly fighting something if you act as badly as they do?"
"You can't," Walter said sadly.
"So what are you going to do with me?" Alex said. "Because I'm not going to let you take me in. I couldn't do prison, sir."
"Go back to Spender, but as my agent. You report to me everything you can find out, Alex. Most of all, you find where Dana Scully is hidden and you bring her back."
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
The next day, Mulder wanted to see the couch made up, but it was sans sheet or pillows. It didn't mean anything he told himself. Krycek could have tidied up as soon as he woke. He was neat and organized, just as Skinner was.
Or he could have spent the night in Skinner's bed.
Skinner, bare foot, clad in a plaid shirt and soft denim jeans padded in from the kitchen. He was carrying a tray with coffee and two plates. Alex said, "That smells, good, Walter."
Wondering when the two had progressed to a first name basis, Mulder said, "I have the money. What's the plan?"
"The guards will look the other way as I put her on a gurney and wheel her out in a body bag. I'll put her in the trunk of my car and drive her through security. After that, we had better get those teams to strike hard and fast. Once they figure out she's gone, they'll know what's up," Alex explained.
"Alex," Mulder said. The name sounded intimate in the small apartment. How easily it came off his lips as if they were back to the way it had been before Duane Barry made his mad dash to trade Scully to the aliens to gain his freedom. He sighed and continued, "Alex, how is she? What have they done to her?"
"She's alive and that's what's important," Alex replied. "They ran tests on her, but I don't think they did any damage my friend can't fix."
"Your friend?" Mulder questioned.
"An alien healer. He's like the invaders, but a different political party, one that doesn't want to conquer other planets. He can fix what they did to Scully," Alex explained. "I have to go. Spender thinks I'm with one of the Consortium Elders, but the man is just covering for me. He's part of the real opposition to the aliens. Spender thought he was selling me a line. Surprise, it's real. You need a score sheet to figure out who's screwing who."
Mulder held back comment, mostly because Walter shot him a glance. He watched the two men eat, unable to even sip the coffee that Walter poured for him.
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
That night, Mulder waited outside a military compound until Krycek's car came screeching down the road. Dana, alive, conscious, not showing physical damage, but with haunted eyes, that echoed Duane Barry's, emerged from the trunk. She accepted his hug and they sat huddled in the back seat as Walter Skinner sped through the night to a safe house.
For the rest of the winter and most of spring, they had been moved from place to place as a special team of cross-agency operatives and Justice Department personnel gathered evidence and made arrests. The wave of prominent men turning into fugitives sent the stock market plummeting. The suicides almost outnumbered the optimists. One of the dead men was Bill Mulder. His legacy was the story of his involvement, his last ditch effort to prevent either of his children to be taken, and his failure. Weighed in the grand scheme of things, Mulder was not the worst of men, but neither was he a victim. At one time, he had believed as Carl Spender believed. Mulder tried to deal with this loss at the same time as he dealt with the news that his sister was gone. Dead, killed in the course of the experiments.
With late spring, the trials begin. Spender was too egoistic to die and not lucky enough to get away clean. His efforts to take Alex down with him failed. Walter Skinner produced documents that showed that he and Alex had been working undercover since the beginning. No one could prove differently nor could anyone produce the blackmail materials that Spender had used to break them to his use.
It was summer when it ended. Early August and Walter Skinner was at a restructuring meeting within the FBI when Alex Krycek was released from the safe house. Somehow, Mulder had never really talked to Alex about what had happened despite the many occasions they had been thrown together during the arrests and trials. They chatted, even joked, but never said a word about their love affair. Mulder looked for signs that Alex and Skinner were together, but he told himself that he wasn't sure.
The answer came simply and suddenly. When Mulder picked Alex up and asked where he needed to go, Alex blushed and said, "Walter's. We're going to be moving to a bigger place soon, but that's home for now."
Mulder felt as if he had gone numb. He said, "Was it real? Did you love me?"
Looking away, Krycek pressed his lips tightly together as if locking words inside. He blinked rapidly and then said, "Part of me will always love you, Fox, but I love Walter in a different way. He's the one who came after me, Fox. He gave me the chance to change my future. The first time I slept with him, it was because I was lonely and grateful. The next time, it was because he excited me. Then, he became a habit... an addiction I'd be a fool to break. I love him, Mulder. I love him with all the depth and passion with which I loved you. What we have is different...it's not fire, Mulder. It's like the sun, an everyday nurturing warmth that I need to live."
"I understand," said Mulder. "Alex, they asked me if I would have you back in the X-Files. I guess a lot of agents..."
"Yeah, I know, they don't want to be guilty by association. They seem to sense that I wasn't undercover when it started or it's the things I saw. They know it was real, but they're not comfortable having a living reminder around," Alex said.
"You're welcome back in the X-Files. We are assured of our funding. Hey, I can even afford to buy desks for you and Scully. A real class act," Mulder said. "It won't be uncomfortable for you. I won't ever remind you of what was between us, Alex."
"Mulder, it's okay to remember. I'll always think of you with love, my beautiful FBI agent lover, so full of curiosity and passion," Alex said.
"That's your future boss that you're talking about," Mulder joked, trying to cover his shaking voice.
"You won't regret taking a chance on me," Alex said.
Truer words were never spoken. The last two years had eased the pain of a shattered romance and built a friendship in its place. Not that Mulder wouldn't have leapt if Alex and Walter suddenly hankered for a three-way...but he could live with what he had, the friendship of three people he respected and could count upon in any circumstances.
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
Mulder hurried them out to the rental car. Alex was sure the man was humoring him by insisting that they go to the airport as soon as the trial ended. As disappointed as Alex was that he would not be with Walter for their second anniversary, he could live with the outcome of the trial. The crazy bastard they had put behind bars today had needed to be locked up.
The so-called Stickman murders that they had been called to the Northwest to investigate had turned out not to involve the supernatural at all. It took the combined will power of the team of Mulder, Scully, and Krycek to solve the crime. Methodical forensic work from Scully, despite her reaction to working with child victims, had found subtle clues. Alex had weeded through endless records and interviewed dozens of locals. Mulder had put it all together and combined it with one of his famous intuitive leaps. They had traced the homicides to a man who was so much a part of the local background that no one had even suspected him. They had even broken the case in time to save the last victims and the arrest was as flawless as Krycek's dispassionate professionalism could make it.
Today the man had been convicted of seven counts of murder and had been sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences. He would never have the chance to molest or kill another child. Alex was proud of his work, proud to be part of the team. Walter would be proud too and that would have to make up for missing the anniversary.
Mulder had that look in his eyes as if he was scheming. Alex almost shuddered. Sometimes, Mulder was brilliant and sometimes he was just demented. Grinning, Mulder darted through traffic. Alex gaped as some lady actually waved them into a place ahead of her in the lane to enter the freeway. Hell, for that alone, it might be worth it to put up with the rain in the area.
Sea Tac was probably supposed to be a space age concept, but it reminded Alex of a pile of hubcaps left in the middle of a parking lot. Mulder determinedly edged out the more passive Northwest drivers to ace a parking spot by the door. Alex said, "Mulder, what's the hurry? I don't really think that I can scalp a ticket on a flight. You know how booked everything is at this time of the year."
"You might be surprised," Mulder said.
"Pigs might fly," Alex said.
Mulder led him to the arrival gate instead of the departure. Alex was about to correct the man when he saw some one he knew come down the escalator. Walter was looking around until Alex cleared the small barrier that surrounded the baggage claim area. He hit his lover like a self-guided missile, babbling, "How did you know to come? How did you get a flight at such late notice?"
Grinning, Walter kissed him. Walter knew how to concentrate and how to put his mind on every last detail to accomplish his goal. In this case, that meant looking deep into Alex's eyes, before tilting up his chin and slowly tasting his lips. The firm pressure gradually opened Alex's mouth to a gently exploring tongue as one of Walter's hands described claiming circles on Alex's ass. Alex's knees were going weak from the experience.
When Walter looked at him with a grin, Alex asked, "Really, how did you guess?"
"I didn't, Mulder did. He guessed that the Washington State prosecutors were trying to build a flawless case. He made a reservation for me for today right before you came down here. He said if it wasn't needed that the thought would have to count," Walter explained.
At that point, Alex grabbed Mulder and kissed him too. Mulder grinned and dangled keys at him. "Honeymoon suite," Mulder enlightened.
~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~
After a dinner, that Alex barely tasted, at a sea front restaurant; he and Walter sat in the back of the rental car. As Alex leaned as far into his lover's embrace, as the seat belt would let him, he listened with half an ear to Scully and Mulder rehashing the case. The sound of his partner's arguing was familiar and dear. Alex shook away sudden goose bumps.
"If I hadn't defied Spender and gone back for my guitar," Alex said. "If you hadn't decided to come after me, where would I be now? Oh, Walter..."
"Don't think about it, Alex, we made all the right decisions. You're here and I'm with you. It couldn't be better," Walter said, his arm hugging Alex tightly to him and his head leaning into his lover's.
Alex hardly remembered saying good night to Mulder. One moment he was in the car and the next minute, he was sipping champagne. Between each mouthful, Walter claimed his mouth for a kiss and the big hand loosened his clothing. Alex kicked off his shoes and socks as his hands flew over Walter's broad chest, unbuttoning the plaid shirt. He stopped to kiss the hollow of his lover's throat.
Between one thing and another, soon there were no barriers between them, neither of cloth nor of the soul. Walter's hands defined him, claimed every inch of him as Alex stood, eyes closed and head tilted back in abandonment. His legs seemed to be shaking. He opened his eyes, laughing as Walter and he tumbled into bed. His leg slid over Walter's, his foot exploring his lover's heavy bones and sinew. Walter's thumb ran along his collarbone and then his lips traced the same path. His tongue wrapped around Alex's nipple and then he sucked lightly on the stiffening tip. He moved to the other, nipping lightly before subjecting that one to the same fate as the first.
Meanwhile, Alex's hands traced over Walter, over his head, tugged playfully as his large ears, wandering over the pillar of his strong neck, tangling in the thickets of hair on his chest. He tugged, not hard enough to hurt, just a tiny edge of pain. The first time he had done that, it had been accidental until he realized that Walter enjoyed it. His hands trailed off as Walter begin to move lower down his belly, licking, kissing, and nibbling.
Looking up, Walter's eyes twinkled as he said, "You ready?"
"Don't tease," Alex said.
"I don't tease," Walter said, but he spent an inordinate amount of time kissing the area around Alex's aching shaft, smoothing the curls around it, mouthing the tight fullness of his balls until a whimpering sound asked for more. Alex almost screamed as his beloved's mouth surrounded his cock, engulfed it until he fit to the moist heat of Walter's throat. Alex felt the hard ridge of the palate, felt himself suckled deep before Walter released him to probe the seeping opening at the top of his cock. He groaned and arched until Walter had mercy and took him deep again then moved hard and fast until Alex was shivering, writhing with sensation, lost in passion, but not oblivious of who gave it to him.
"Walter, Walter..." Alex cried before it became pure sound, a high wild cry like a hawk keening for joy as it flew to the peak of its flight.
His body felt blissful and limp as Walter helped him raise his legs. He was young enough and healthy enough to start to react again as Walter's fingers slid into his opening. His lover knew his body better than he did. They had become so tuned to each other that Alex truly wondered if they were capable of making love to someone else...not that he wanted to find out.
In a state between satisfaction and arousal, Alex angled his legs over Walter's shoulders. He wanted to feel his lover joined to him, claiming him. The brief discomfort of entry only made him flag for a moment before Walter's slow deep thrusts stiffened Alex. Walter's hand moved dreamily on him in time with the thrusts.
Alex loved the sounds that Walter made, so deep, so animal like. At first, Walter had been embarrassed. He had been criticized before for being so guttural in his passion. It took months for him to see that Alex went wild to hear him, that his loss of control delighted and reassured his lover. Gradually, Walter dropped all his boundaries, made love to him without fear of rejection, without pretense.
"Slower," Alex said, his second erection needed the controlled pace if they were to get there together. Usually that wasn't important, but tonight was special and Alex wanted to go there with Walter.
Walter's hand moved on him, setting a slower pace until Alex felt that all-over tightness and his body arched with Walter's. Faster now, faster until their breaths rasped and their flesh was hot enough to steam...
Then, the moment of release, nirvana, selflessness in pure pleasure...and afterwards the joy of lying in each other's arms.
It seemed to Alex that he dreamed of some other less fortunate future for one brief moment as he drowsed, but it was Walter he saw when he woke. When he woke, it was Walter that he kissed. The brief fear he had experienced from that nightmare drifted away like smoke on the wind.
Walter turned to him and said, "This is it. This is everything I ever wanted, Alex."
"The best of all possible worlds," Alex said and, unlike Candide, he was very right.
 
The end
 
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