Curtain Rising
By Ursula

Alex watched his face in the window, light and dark falling across his reflection. His image kept changing and he was a cloud-shifting illusion. Sometimes, his face was narrow and his enormous eyes shone. He thought he looked like a rat caught in a flashlight beam. Then as the plane hit another break in the fog, the refraction would soften Alex's features and he thought that perhaps he was beautiful as people told him that he was.

Alex touched the cold glass. It was so smooth and he knew it was strong. There was a moment of darker vision and he was caught perfectly in this mirror. The thought made him squirm. Alex knew that was what the old men wanted from him, no core, no reality, a shadow-Alex that could be anything they needed and having no needs. He could do it and it would be, what? Easier, just let go and sink in to the cesspool into which he had been dragged.

A month ago, Alex's main ambition was to survive. When he had been a teenager, he had dreamed of revenging his dead parents. He was wiser now. They had him by the balls and Alex had no illusions about what the smoking man and the other old men would and could do to him. He had kept the dream of finding his sister, Kolya, longer, but lately he had discovered that he might not want to know what had been done with her.

Mulder thought the aliens had taken his sister. Alex wanted to scoff at that. When the old men of the conspiracy tried to tell him that they were some kind of heroes, Alex was torn between vomiting and laughter. The horrible and wonderful thing about being human was that you could convince yourself of almost anything. Alex would put on his wide-eyed look, a child being told the creation myth and would focus all his acting skills on convincing the men in power that he believed them.

* * *

Mulder stirred next to him. They were uncomfortable, two tall men in seats built for some Lilliputian race. It would have made more sense if Mulder had sat with Scully. She would have left plenty of room for longer legs.

Alex had been torn between amusement and jealousy as he saw Mulder try to decide at the ticket counter whether to sit next to his current or his former partner, his lover or his beloved best friend. Scully had solved that by directing Mulder across the aisle. She had said, authoritative little person that she was, "Mulder, sit with Krycek. I need to read these autopsy reports and I don't feel like having sunflower seeds munched in my ears."

Alex could have kissed Scully. Hey, he admitted he thought about it. It was a challenge. Hmm, was she really that buttoned down, that much in control? He would like to see what she looked like, snicker, coming undone. He wanted to rumple her, glaze those blue eyes and shake her composure. Alex admitted that he also thought a Scully who warmed a bed with Mulder and himself would cement the relationship between Alex and Mulder. Oh Alex, he thought, you are a perverse bastard and that is so delightful.

Alex stretched in the seat, elbow nudging Mulder, and his leg just happening to squeeze against his partners and linger long enough for Mulder to smile at him. Alex grinned happily. Mulder did that to him a lot. Hell, they were really good for each other as neither of them were the bluebirds of happiness independently. Alex pushed away that creeping viper of a thought that demanded to know how Mulder was going to feel when he found out that Alex was working for the old men.

Alex cleared his throat nervously at the thought of the smoking man. Forget brimstone, hell had to smell like a Morley cigarette. The bastard hadn't contacted Alex since the final report on the Cole incident. Alex wondered if he could delude himself into believing that the old men had forgotten about him. Yeah, maybe, they had all had a jack off contest and their black wizened hearts had all cracked at once!

Shit, Alex needed to talk about the case or anything other then what was or was not going to happen. He reached for his briefcase and took out the case notes. The way his hand had to slide down Mulder's leg to do that had nothing to do with his motivation, not one bit. Alex's pink tongue flicked out. Oh, shit, the flight attendant was looking at him with unprofessional interest. Alex ended a hell of a lot of days by emptying his pockets of phone numbers he neither wanted nor had any intention of calling.

* * *



* * *

Mulder had been watching Alex watching his own reflection. The man did have a thing with mirrors! Mulder would share that addiction if he looked like Alex. Krycek was always changing. He could look sweet and innocent, making Mulder feel that he should protect his younger lover. Then with a scowl or a contemptuous look, Alex looked feral and fierce. Mulder could imagine Alex's face intent and seductive as they lay together in bed or lit with his intelligence as they argued out a case. Mulder thought with amusement about some of their pre and post coitus conversations. Shoptalk followed by bedroom conversation was their normal routine.

Alex said, "Mulder, about this case..."

Mulder knew he should be grateful that Skinner had wrangled them this case, which had X File like implications. Several bodies had been found; all of them were young male runaways or street people. They had been well fed, healthy, but all bore the marks of harsh discipline prior to an execution style slaying. Each corpse was missing the pineal gland, a classic marker for abductees.

Alex was thumbing through his report again. He frowned, showing that adorable v above his nose. Alex said, "You know what we have to do is look at the missing people reports from the nearby cities. These kids were living on the streets when they were last seen. Hell, there could be dozens more missing and no one would even notice."

Mulder smiled at Alex's intensity. He tried hard not to let the new relationship interfere with their work partnership. Still, sometimes, he found himself lost in looking at Alex's eyes or just watching that pretty mouth move. He kicked himself for it. Alex deserved better. The physical relationship was perfect. Mulder had never felt this way. Alex made him forget his doubts. It was as if for years, Mulder had been living in someone else's skin. Now, he found himself living in his own body and it was good. It relieved him that Alex was a hard working agent and an intelligent man. Mulder thought, with a bit of guilt that he also felt justified in the relationship because Alex needed him. The vulnerable, needy Alex revealed during the Cole case made Mulder feel strong and in charge. Scully seldom made him feel that way. She often reminded him of the adult voice in a Peanut's special, coming off as a distantly heard and blurred nagging conscience.

It was not that Alex and Mulder didn't argue. After the first glow wore off, they argued on the job even more than they had on their first case. Still, sometimes when Alex was listening to him Mulder felt like a yogi to a disciple. After being dismissed as a nut in so many instances, Alex's acceptance was balm to Mulder's battered ego.

Mulder knew that Alex used his sexuality to cope with emotional stress. He had admitted as much and it was very evident from his actions since they had started a sexual relationship. That pattern was characteristic of victims of abuse as was the low self-esteem that Alex tried to hide. Mulder knew sometimes that Alex caved in to his arguments because he wanted to please, not because Mulder had evidenced superior arguments.

Alex tended to focus on the physical. He was vain. Mulder would find Alex staring in mirrors, practicing expressions or just evaluating his body. Whenever Alex was nervous, he would pull his face into a blank mask or he would play with his hair. He had an obnoxious smirk he used when he felt threatened. It was totally different from the sweet smiles or broad grins that Alex had when he was happy.

Alex was very reactive. He was always trying to read people, subtly changing to suit anyone he perceived as powerful. Mulder was very much aware that it as a mark of trust that Alex showed him some real argument.

Alex crammed his legs into a smaller space and said, "Hey, Mulder, stretch out for a while. It's your turn."

Mulder smiled at Alex and obeyed. He looked forward to tonight; thanking the budget consciousness that said two same gender agents should share a room. Since that night at his apartment, they seldom slept apart.

Mulder quirked his lips into a smile of anticipation then settled back to run the case through his own head. Every time he had a lead on an abduction case, he felt renewed hope. One day, he would find out what happened to Samantha. Mulder glanced at Scully and wondered if she could tell anything from the autopsy files.

Alex muttered, "Mulder, those bodies were too healthy, clean, and well fed for street people. Only a couple of them showed traces of recent use of street drugs although some of them had a history of use. It's as if they had been kept somewhere, kind of a boot camp situation. Their hair had all been cut into a military style."

* * *

Mulder asked, "What makes you think that it's not an abduction situation?"

Alex replied, "I'm not saying that I am ruling it out, Mulder. I just wonder if something else was going on. The victims were all white men and very Anglo- Saxon. There were no Hispanics, no Native Americans, no African Americans, no women, no one of southern European or Jewish descent."

Mulder pondered this. Reported abductions were mostly Caucasian people, but usually spanned a range of ages and involved both genders. He said, "This is a more homogeneous group then usual. Where are you going with this?" "What if the mutilations are just a coincidence or are deliberate attempts to imitate abductions?" Alex frowned and smoothed his hair. He wiggled in the seat and said, "There was considerable interest in the occult and in medical experimentation within the Third Reich. What if there is a group that is interested in Mr. Science other than bomb making 101?"

Mulder digested that. Alex could be correct, but he wanted desperately for this to be a real lead. He said, "I think it is an abduction scenario."

Alex opened his mouth to argue then seemed to think better of his inclination. He moved his hand so that it could fondle Mulder's leg without anyone seeing. Mulder moved away annoyed. He didn't like it when Alex tried to use sex to manipulate him.

Mulder said, "Alex, I'm not angry at you for disagreeing. We'll see. I'll try to keep and open mind. I know you will."

Alex lowered his eyes the peered out from the pretty shelter of his lashes. Mulder smiled and thought about tonight. Alex said, "Okay, we'll do our investigation and then frame out theories."

Scully's dry voice commented, "Gee, guys, what a novel idea? I might write it up for a journal. What should I call it? Hmm, scientific method? Deductive reasoning? Which is more catchy?"

Alex smothered a grin and said, "I don't know. Both sound good, Scully."

Mulder kicked Alex and commented, "Hey, you are supposed to be on my side."

Alex said, "I am." The smoldering look that he sent to Mulder gave this comment an interesting subtext.

* * *

They barely had time to register at the hotel before they had a call to go to the latest exhumation. Scully was the main player, but Alex and Mulder went along to have a look. Scully wore a hair net, a mask and was tightly clad in a decontamination suit.

Mulder smeared Vicks under his nose. Taking a good look around, he made sure that no one was watching. He dabbed a bit under Alex's nose and whispered, "If it makes you sick, just walk away into the undergrowth."

Alex said, "I can handle it."

Scully was soon snapping at the local players. Mulder couldn't blame her. They were properly suited, but they were walking all over potential evidence. Alex hung back, grimacing. A glistening coat of rot covered the body. The skin was slipping. Scully talked to her tape recorder. The body fit the criteria. It was a young white male, well nourished, crew cut, tattoo's made identification a snap. Alex still looked challenged by the scene, but he was drawing nearer.

Mulder teased, "Krycek is Russian for cat, isn't it? As in curious as a cat?"

Krycek shrugged. He said, "Look, a swastika tattoo. That one on the lower leg is a common white supremacy tattoo as well."

Mulder asked, "What's the cause of death, Scully?"

Scully muttered, "Neck is broken. There are ligature marks."

Alex was peering down, his active mind deterring any queasiness. He said, "Scully, there are marks on the wrists as well."

Scully was bagging the hands. She said, "I see it, Krycek. Yes, his hands were tied for some time prior to his death."

Alex backed off. He said, "It looks as if it was an execution. Poor stupid kid, there isn't any point in trying to figure out the superior race. Bunch of ass holes"

Mulder asked, "Who, Alex?"

Alex sighed and said, "All of us, Mulder, just jerked around and playing roles." Alex shook his head and said, "Never mind me. I'm just tired."

* * *

Despite the fact that there had been no contact with the rotting corpse, both Alex and Mulder wanted a long hot shower. Mulder knew how he felt. He wanted to think about being alive and not about what they had just seen. Alex apparently felt the same.

Mulder undid the striped tie and pulled it loose. He used the strip of material to pull Alex near to kiss him. He unbuttoned the inexpensive white shirt and eased it down. He murmured, "I love your collar bone, Alex." Mulder parted his lips, running his mouth along the raised line of bone." He slid the shirt all the way off, watching Alex's sleek body emerge. The rest followed shortly. Mulder admired Alex, feeling as sense of possession. There was something about having his lover naked before him to contrast with Mulder's slightly rumpled, but fully dressed state. Mulder wondered if Alex was up for a good game of master and slave.

Mulder stood back, removing his own clothing. Alex looked comfortable naked. Mulder adored his lover's body. Alex was smooth with muscle and his skin was so supple and soft. Alex had broad shoulders and a wide chest. He had a stocky build, a wrestler's body despite his height. His body was relatively hairless. Mulder leaned to taste one of Alex's flat nipples. His tongue curled and licked until the crinkled flesh rose to it.

Alex scolded, "We are going in the shower first, Mulder."

After their shower and not completely dry, they tumbled onto one of the double beds. Mulder nuzzled Alex's damp stomach, inserting the tip of his tongue in Alex's belly button. Alex wiggled and then laughed the rumble of his chuckle vibrating against Mulder's cheek. Mulder straddled his lover, spreading his arms and holding him down flat against the bed. Alex looked up at him. Mulder saw the shadows rise. He kept wondering what in the hell had happened to Alex to leave so many ghosts behind.

Mulder thought, 'This was the best way, face to face so he could see Alex's expression�. When Alex looked at Mulder like he was doing, it felt almost unbearably close. Alex breathed out softly his words. "Home," Alex said, "This will always be home to me" and Mulder understood.

Afterwards, they lay together, Alex cradled his head against Mulder's shoulder, his beautiful eyes wide but unfocused. Alex said, "Mulder, I have to tell you something about being your partner."

Mulder said, "Alex, I know."

Alex sat up and he frowned. Mulder said, "They did the same thing with Scully."

Alex looked relieved. He said, "They did?"

Mulder said, "Didn't work. Scully and I became a team anyway. I'm not surprised they tried it again. What did they tell you about me?"

Alex blushed and replied, "That you were crazy and you were using the FBI for your own private delusions. They said you were paranoid and a crackpot."

Mulder shrugged and pulled Alex back down. He rolled on top to kiss Alex again. He said, "Some of it's true."

Alex shook his head and said, "You're not crazy. You're not like anyone else and I'm glad." Alex frowned again. He said, "What's going to happen?"

Mulder said, "Nothing, don't worry. The worst that could happen is that they'll separate us on the job. We could still be together."

Alex said, "I hope that you are right." Alex swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bobbing. He asked, "You're not mad because I didn't tell you right away?"

Mulder smiled and replied "Scully didn't either." He smoothed the frown from Alex's face and said, "It is going to be fine, Alex."

Alex said, "You don't really know me, Mulder."

Mulder stroked Alex's hair and then moved him closer. He said, "I know you're beautiful, and sexy, and smart. I know you wake up at night and look at me for minutes at a time. I know when I tickle you right here that it drives you out of your mind." Mulder dug his fingers in to Alex's ribs until Alex squirmed and laughed.

The phone rang. Alex stopped his efforts to return the teasing. Mulder dug around and found his mobile phone. "Mulder," he said.

"Scully," she replied. "I'm finished. I just took a shower. Do you and Alex want to go out for dinner?"

Mulder said, "Need me to give you a hand with the towel? I could be right there."

Scully said, "Someday, I'll say yes and you'll faint. Or I could say send Alex over and then what would you do?"

Mulder grinned and said, "I'd watch."

Scully groaned and said, "I bet you would. I'll meet you in your room in fifteen minutes."

Mulder folded the phone cover shut and aimed a slap at Alex's rear. He said, "Get dressed. We're going out to eat with Scully." He added, "Alex, you know this flirting with Scully is just habit."

Alex smirked and said, "Sure, Mulder, right."

Alex added, "Mulder, I'd share. I mean, I'd be pissed if it was another guy, but I can understand the way you feel about Scully. I didn't like it when we first met, but I can see that she's special to you. Course, if I was her, I wouldn't be interested in platonic."

Mulder cackled at that and said, "Yeah, I noticed platonic wasn't your style. You threw yourself at me."

Alex smiled back and said, "But you weren't the least bit reluctant to catch."

Alex jumped up and went to the bathroom. He returned dressed in casual slacks and a sweater. Mulder did the same. Alex said, "Uh, better meet her in the hall. It smells too nice in here."

Mulder agreed. He could smell their mingled effluence. It made him want to drag Alex right back to bed."

Scully was coming down the hall as Mulder and Alex stepped out of their room. She looked exhausted and said, "The pathology lab here is a mess. Apparently the medical examiner died unexpectedly and the county is wrangling about the replacement. Politics!"

Alex said, "I guess Mulder and I are second stringers for now. You choose the place, Scully."

Scully nodded and said, "Greek it is. I already have a place that the hotel recommended."

Dinner turned into a debate on how to approach the case. Interviewing street people was obvious, but Krycek had his own idea about that. Alex said, "Look, I know what street culture can be like. They won't tell us anything worth listening too. I want to go undercover."

Mulder snorted and said, "Like hell."

Krycek insisted, "I can do it. I ran away as a kid, more then once. I lived on the streets for a while. I remember what it's like. Mulder, I'm going to do it."

Mulder scowled and said, "it's my investigation."

Scully said, "Our is the operative word here, Mulder. You would do what Alex is saying and if I said no or Skinner said no, you would sneak off and do it anyway."

Mulder said, "Alex, it's dangerous."

Alex said, "I'll be careful. I'll check in. I promise."

Mulder said, "Yeah, well," He could see the stubborn defiant set of Alex's jaw. He tried to think rationally and decide whether his objection was based on Alex's inexperience or on protectiveness he needed to suppress."

Mulder said, "Ok, Alex, you can do it. But no grand standing." Mulder ignored Scully's snort. He said, "That means the disguise will be to gain the confidence of potential witnesses. You don't try to infiltrate the organization if there is one."

Alex grinned and almost bounced in his chair. He left before Mulder and Scully to pick up what he needed for his disguise. Scully was scanning the dessert menu, tempting herself. Mulder ordered a chocolate torte. That served Alex right. He loved chocolate and loved to share food. He almost had a fetish for stealing food from Mulder's plate.

Scully deigned to take two bites of the treat. Mulder asked, "Do you think I'm being over protective?"

Scully rolled her eyes and said, "It's a point of view. Personally, I'd hate it if you did as much bullying and smothering as you pull with Alex, but he's a big boy."

Mulder grinned, thinking that Scully did not know how true that was. Alex was quite a mouthful. Scully reddened as if she could read his mind. She Said, "I suppose it's easier for Krycek to accept your leadership. He doesn't have to worry about what people think if he lets you be dominant."

Mulder said, "It's not as if he doesn't hold his own. Scully, you don't mind that I like Alex? I was angry at the idea of having someone else instead of you on my cases. As soon as we get a chance, I want us back on the X files, but I wouldn't mind if Alex stayed on the team too."

Actually Mulder worried that things might work out very badly once "THEY" figured out that Alex was suborned to Mulder's side. He was afraid they might assign Alex to some distant post. They could protest, but really that was perfectly in headquarters' right to do. Mulder could picture a drama with Alex threatening to resign, but it was not very realistic. He was sure that Alex was as emotionally involved in this affair as he was, but Alex was ambitious.

Scully wanted to look in a nearby shop that claimed to sell authentic Native American products. Mulder became a mobile shopping cart as she piled on gifts for her mother and sister. Scully added an "sacred dream catcher" for her sister, Melissa. Mulder neglected to mention how unlikely it was that brightly colored plastic crow beads had any long roots in local tradition. He was a little curious about the "Wild Rice" in the little plastic bag. It bore no relationship to the white shining grains that arrived in cardboard containers from his favorite takeout places.

Encumbered with bags and worried about carryon charges, Mulder went back to the hotel with Scully. Alex hadn't returned and Mulder was worried. Good agents in charge always worried about subordinates; he assured his automatic guilt program.

Mulder left the hotel to wait for Alex outside. The street had changed with the night and there were aimless wanderers emerging. Mulder dismissed a couple street beggers who waved hand lettered cardboard signs. Their eyes moved on to the next person when they saw his disinterest.

A panhandler asked, "You have a few bucks to spare? I want to go home." He had a whiny, raspy voice and persisted after Mulder's firm refusal

"Hey, Man, all I need is a few bucks for bus fare" the man begged.

Mulder didn't look straight at the man. Urban etiquette said that you don't see these people if you don't want to deal with them. Mulder had the impression of layered clothes, a tattered army surplus jacket, worn shoes and torn jeans. He noted that the man was too young to be a veteran and seemed perfectly healthy.

Mulder thought better of his plan to wait for Alex outside. He moved toward the doorway of the hotel. The man caught at his arm. Mulder whirled, throwing off the touch.

The man said, "So how about I give you a blow job in the alley for a few bucks?"

Mulder pushed the man and might have done worse, but the vagrant laughed. The man said, "Guess the thrill is gone. I didn't think you would turn down one of my blow-jobs."

Alex's eyes peeked out from beneath a filthy baseball cap. He grinned, jutting his hip out like a streetwalker and smirking.

Mulder shook his head and appraised his partner's new appearance. He said, "Krycek, you look like shit."

Alex fluttered his eyelashes and responded in a reasonable Blanche or Scarlettt southern accent. He said, "Mulder, you sure know how to flatter a guy."

Mulder took out five bucks. No one appeared to be watching so he handed it to Krycek and steered him to the alley. Alex went along with it, but once they were there, he said, "God, Mulder, for five bucks, I won't even talk dirty to you."

Mulder pinned Alex to the wall, kissing him hard and rubbing against him. He dragged his hungry mouth downward and sucked on Alex's neck until Alex moaned and said, "All right, let me go and change so we can go in and do this the way we like."

Mulder had just found an interesting hole in the seat of Alex's jeans. He fingered it until he found his way in to explore the inward curve of Alex's ass where it connected to the thigh. He felt cotton, harsh and almost stiff with newness. "Briefs?"

Alex said, "Got to be authentic. They are new though. I couldn't bring myself to buy used underwear."

Mulder shuddered and said, "I hope not. Where are you going to change?"

Alex said, "Bus depot, a block down. Go up and wait for me. Think nasty thoughts for me."

Curtain Rising Chapter 2


* * *

^^^^^ Alex shivered. It was Minnesota and Minnesota is fucking cold in the spring. The army surplus coat was losing it's lining. It had been on the dollar rack at the thrift store for a damn good reason. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and hunched up his shoulders to hold in the heat. Shit, when he was a kid it didn't bother him this much.

Alex naturally gravitated to the Minnesota strip. He wouldn't stay in this part of town too long. He figured that if he was right, the group wouldn't want the boys and young men who frequented this area. Alex was amused as a nice, family car cruised up to him. The face that peered out was pure corn-fed Midwestern. He ought to have been doing crowd scenes for a family movie.

The man was looking at Alex's ass. With a sour grin, Alex arched and opened his coat. Oh, yeah, that was a greedy look in that deacon like face. The man said, "My car is warm."

Alex leaned in. He agreed. It was warm. He checked it out with his old skills. It wasn't a cop, he was almost sure. The man breathed heavily as Alex arched and squirmed. Alex felt a giggle of excitement. He could have made the man come by just wiggling his hot body at him.

The man asked, "How much?"

Alex did what he wanted to do when he was a kid on the run. He flipped the guy a finger and said, "Not for all the money in the world, fucker!"

Alex leaped back and laughed as the man gunned his car away. He turned around as a skinny, blond guy approached. The kid said, "This is my corner."

Alex said, " Sorry, man, I'm new."

Alex followed his apology with a cold glare to let the teenager know that he would be the sorry one if he tried to mess with this interloper. Alex watched the guy's face until he was sure that they were communicating about this situation. Alex asked, "Anything I should know about this city?"

The guy shrugged and said, "Not much here. Just be don't go a few blocks down. Skin heads. They come down this way every once in a while to bash us but now they have their own trouble. Someone's killing the pricks."

Alex talked to the ho until the kid got a trick. Alex watched the guy lean into a car and talk to a clone of the guy who had tried to pick Alex up. The guy got in the car. Alex shivered again. Once, he had chosen this way over the Smoker's control. It had made him feel like shit. He had been scared, cold, hungry, and self disgusted. When the smoker sent guys to haul his ass in, Alex couldn't say he regretted it.

Alex always told himself that he would find a way out. In the mean time, he had a college education, money, a place to live and clothes. When he wanted sex or a quick pretend relationship, there was always clubs. Alex had his looks and he had his charm. He didn't have to go home alone. That was better then this shit. Living on the streets wasn't much like living.

Shivering, Alex reminded himself that this was the present. He wasn�t trapped her and he no longer belonged with these walking wounded. He hid his own trapped thoughts about how much better his situation really was. For now, he had Mulder and what else mattered?

An Indian girl fell in with him as he walked. She was young. Alex thought she was way too young for him. Hell of a lot too young for the bastards who rented her. She had eyes like a raven, dark, bright and mischievous. Her hair was black, thick and faintly kinked. She had a nose left over from some Lakota ancestor, a big nose, but cute on her. She was tiny and she bounced when she walked as if she wanted to fly away. Alex was amused by her chatter, but he was getting information.

"My name's Corry," she announced. "You�re cute. I have a place to stay. No charge."

Alex said, "My name is Al. And you�re too young for me. Want to catch a burger?"

Corry replied, "Sure on the hamburger. Hey, I'm seventeen, man. Could have had three babies by now."

She grinned and added "If I was stupid, ay."

Alex said, "Corry, you are beautiful, but I'm not interested. Um, I have someone waiting for me."

"True Love?" Corry asked.

Alex grinned as he thought about Mulder. Damn close to it if not the real thing. He said, "Hearts and flowers."

Corry said, "I get you. Well, buy me a hamburger and you can stay at my place anyway."

Alex slept on a mattress that smelled rank of old pee. There were brown stains on it that he did not want to Consider, but it was better then a street corner. Corry was up chatting with a clutch of other street people. Alex listened and he smiled to himself. He was right. There were a lot more young men missing then accounted for by the bodies. He was right. Mulder was wrong. Alex got a thrill out of that. He couldn't wait to rub it in a little.

Alex called from the bus depot. He wasn't stupid enough to carry ID or a mobile phone undercover as the great unwashed. He was already achieving a ripeness from twenty four hours of pre-stale clothing, an Aikido workout, and a much more fun workout with Mulder. Mulder was off on his own pursuits and wasn't sure if what Alex had found out was valuable.

Alex hung up, feeling pissed. He thought that Mulder must be fonder of his cute ass then of the brain crowning it. Alex smirked and thought he would show them. He would prove it wasn't gray aliens, but white supremacists that were responsible.

* * *

Alex hit the skinhead part of town, rapidly. The gang signs were like an index if you knew how to read them. Alex had taken the class at the academy, but he did his field study on the streets. He stood by a tattoo parlor and thought about getting a tattoo on his butt. He checked out the cobras, the dragons, and the roses. No, if he got one, he wanted a Fox, a pretty phallic fox. Mulder might not respect him yet, but he was such a good lay. Alex chided himself. Lie to your self, Alex. You're in love with that bastard.

Alex bought a bottle of Mad Dog wine. He spilled some to create more atmosphere. It took him most of the next two days to make a contact, but he figured he was way ahead of Mulder and Scully. Alex called in once and held the earphone away as Mulder raved at him. Today all he had done was leave a message with the front desk that he was still in town.

The man who walked up to Alex had passed a few times since Alex had been hanging around. Alex had dozed in the bus station until the police had chased them all away. He rode a bus for a while to keep warm then had just hung round looking unattached and desperate.

Alex was sure that the man was not looking for a piece of ass, more like a dumb ass. The guy looked nicely paranoid. He had they type of crewcut that looked as if he had just escaped from the electric chair after the barber and before the current. His broad nose was red and battered. Alex couldn't guess how often that had been broken. He had pale gray eyes and beefy jowls. His skin was weather-chapped. The man was shorter than Alex, but much wider in build.

Alex listened to the song and dance about Aryan brotherhood and how Alex was only on this street because minorities and faggots had taken his job. Alex wanted to crack up about the man's delivery of the word, faggot, drawing out that first syllable as if he wanted to go down on it. Alex would have loved to let the hot air out of the recruiter's head with the sharp knife he had stashed in his boot, but instead he tried to look stupid and obedient as he pretended to bite.

* * *

Alex got in a truck with two other guys and sat still. Listen, don't talk and sometimes you got to stay alive. He smiled inwardly. He hoped Mulder would be proud if he solved the case. More likely, he would have his ass, but hey, that was fun too. Alex just hoped he was going to live long enough to enjoy telling Mulder that he was wrong.

Alex was damn right. The truck went a hell of a long way before they even got a piss break. Alex worried a little. It would have been smarter to tell Mulder what he was doing.

The camp looked as if it was a World War Two construction project. They got marched right to the showers and were liberally sprayed with lice spray. A man, who scowled and should not have been trusted to trim a hedge, chopped off their hair. Alex cringed. Mulder loved his hair. He liked to pet it and rub his face in it. Alex patted his head and looked at the shorn beauty of his chestnut colored locks on the floor.

The three men stood naked while someone imitating a doctor poked and prodded. Alex hoped his ass was not reflecting the workout it got three nights ago. The doctor didn't say anything so Alex guessed that he passed. The rest of the day was spent taking tests and learning rules. Alex could summarize the program with one word, 'Don't'.

Alex was careful to do well enough on the training to escape negative attention and badly enough to avoid recognition. Got to practice the fine art of not being noticed, Alex ruled.

* * *

The second night of camp, one of the guys tried to walk. The white ape with delusions of human stature that ran the place whipped the kid's ass. Alex turned himself off, retreating to the place in his mind he went when the shit got too heavy. He had recently moved Mulder into this fantasy, only removed a few flaws like the faintly bullying ways and sarcastic demeanor his lover wore.

The third night, the kid tried to get out again. The old timer who had been put in charge of Alex said, "They'll flush that piece of shit." He was a piece of work himself, an ex-con with crude tattoos and the worst teeth Alex had ever saw. He was dishwater blond, his skin was like paper, and his muscles were bulged from good access to long timer's health club in prison. His name was "Harry, you don't need any other names for me, but Harry and sir."

Everyone had to muster for the punishment. Alex felt a queasy identification with the victim. They never left scars on him, but they knew how to administer a beating that felt as if it was going to mark. The way they were whipping the kid this time; he wouldn't live long enough to scar.

Alex listened to a little Mulder voice that said he should rush up and stop this horror. 'Shut up, Mulder' Alex's wiser voice corrected.

Alex was one of the ones who carried the kid into the metal portable building, where the doctor stayed. He took in everything that he could see without being obvious. This was a big building for one doctor and there was a great deal of equipment.

When Alex went back to his tent, after his pall bearer task, he was not very surprised to be told that Harry, his dear mentor and him were on night guard after this big event. Alex hadn't missed the way, Harry had been checking him out, Alex was even less surprised when the darling man put a hand on his ass and said, "Kid, it's cold, town is far, and I'm horny."

Alex shot him an adorable look and said, "But they said it's against the rules."

Harry grinned.

God, what was that caught in his teeth and how long had it been there? Alex wondered.

Harry said, "Boy, I knew how to spot them on the inside. I never liked a struggling fishy. I liked the ones that knew what they liked. How about you? You like to take it in the ass, boy?"

Alex asked, "How do I know you won't tell if I do it?"

Harry said, "I'm not stupid. They would figure out how I discovered your little secret."

Alex said, "Okay, but let me do it right?" Alex leaned close fingering the man's chest. He said in his best, I'm too sexy husk, "Let me take your shirt off. I want see those muscles."

Harry grinned and held his arms up. He stank, but Alex said, "Oh, baby."

One, two, three, and four, Harry's shirt up, at neck, twist, and garrote. Alex checked the pulse. Just right, out, no struggle, and still alive. Alex tied Harry up, gagged him with his underwear and left him in the bushes. The shit deserved to freeze his ass.

* * *

Alex went back to the camp and managed to break into the metal building. The doctor was operating on the kid who had been whipped. Alex gagged as he noticed the boy's fingers twitch.

Alex broke into the first house that he found. He had to bribe the big stupid golden retriever with hot dogs to stop barking. After that the drooling dog was his best friend. Alex called Mulder on his mobile phone and reached his partner immediately. Alex was tired, a little scared and he really wanted Mulder to say, good job or something. Instead, Mulder yelled and swore at him.

Alex said, "Mulder, I'm sorry. It just happened. Come and get me please."

Alex read the address off the baby-sitters list above the phone. The family had a chalkboard with family events. They were off at church social and hopefully wouldn't be home soon.

Mulder finally calmed down and said, "Stay put."

Alex heard something and went to check it out. Trucks were pulling up. He knew that wasn't the family coming home early from the church. Alex grabbed the phone and said, "Mulder, trouble. I can't stay here. They tracked me. I'm going to hide in the woods."

Alex scrambled out a window and ran into the woods. He heard shouting and dogs barking. Mulder, you better get here quick or your sweet Alex is going get his can kicked. Alex thought.

* * *

The local director was a Viking. He should have been wearing a pair of animal horns on his block shaped head. Mulder eyed pictures of the director with dead fish, the director with dead animals, and the director with politicians. The politicians were unfortunately still alive. Mulder tried not to sound hysterical as he urged the man. He said, "Agent Krycek called from this address and stated that he was being chased by militia members which he had infiltrated."

The director called up teams and the office buzzed with organized chaos. Director Tollefson asked, "How in the hell did you get a junior agent out on his own in the middle of a dangerous organization?"

Scully gave Mulder a direct look that implied a million words. When she heard what Alex had done, she had laughed and said, "Your turn." Scully wouldn't say what she meant.

Dressed in armor, Scully and Mulder rode along with local FBI's and a SWAT team. Mulder rubbed his hand along the rough fabric of his uniform. Scully said, "Don't worry, Mulder. I looked at his records. He had the highest marks in woods survival. He's good."

Mulder grumbled, "He may not survive me. Scully, why did he do that?"

Scully looked at him with compassion, but her voice was blandly accusatory. "You dismissed his information. Mulder, maybe, he felt as if he had to prove something to you."

Mulder said, "He doesn't have anything to prove to me."

Scully said, "Tell him then. I remember when we were first teamed. I knew you were just waiting for me to make the big mistake. I wasn't sure if you would ever say a civil word or accept me as a partner."

Mulder bit his lip. He said, "Alex knows that I like him." He really wished he could tell Scully. He wanted to tell her how sweetly Alex moaned when Mulder had him in his mouth. He wanted to tell someone, any one that Alex always pulled him close when they made love and that he really couldn't imagine a future without his Alex.

The farmhouse was lit with searchlights. The bewildered family only knew that someone had picked the lock, taken a package of hot dogs from the fridge, and fed them to the dog, which had vomited them on the carpet. The man of the house pointed to the deep ruts of tire tracks all over the yard. He thought they might belong to the men who thought they were hiding at the old CCC camp in the woods.

The local search and rescue arrived with a tough blond woman dressed in orange coveralls in charge. The members had a great team of dogs. Mulder looked hopefully at the huge, drooling bloodhounds and the big fellows that someone explained were Swiss Mountain dogs. One team followed the truck tracks. Another set traced from the phone to the woods. Mulder went with the woods team, glad that he had exchanged his suit for the tough fabric of the assault team uniform.

The big dogs bellowed happily. They milled around when they hit a clearing. The squarely built woman who headed the team of dogs and their people said, "Blood. Remo, there always acts upset when there's blood." The bloodhound in question howled in agreement."

Scully collected samples of the blood after the chemical spotlight picked it out. Scully said, "It's not a lot of blood, Mulder. Not enough to indicate a serious wound."

* * *

The dogs tracked back to the road and met up with the other team. Remo, the bloodhound, could track one vehicle from another. Janice Lanier, his handler, claimed he could track a set of tires twenty-four hours down a busy street. Mulder would be happy if the dog could lead them to Alex, following tracks less than two hours old and laid over a dusty country road.

* * *

Alex had ran hard and he had ran fast. Shit, Mulder, get your ass in here and save mine! Alex remembered the kid that the commander had beaten and what he had seen afterwards. Alex could imagine his own body lying there for the doctor to violate. He hated the thought of Mulder's last sight of him, being of a mutilated body. Alex knew that Mulder might say he loved Alex for his soul, but Alex noticed that Mulder was awfully entranced with the spirit's package.

Alex didn't want to die. Dying was for losers. Alex was going to win. He wanted to be the last thing that the Smoking man saw before he died screaming. Alex didn't know what the big game was, but he wanted to be dealt in now. He and Mulder should be in this together and damned if Alex was willing to crap out now.

Alex scrambled up a tree. He hoped that the pursuers wouldn't look up. His survival instructor claimed that they seldom did. Well, fuck his old fart of an teacher, these guy looked up. Harry did not look like love and kisses. He aimed his fully automatic weapon at Alex and said, "Get your ass down here." He fired a warning blast that rained tree branches and pinecones onto Alex's head.

Alex climbed down cautiously until he was right over Harry's head. He slammed down into the old con and scrambled over him. Alex proved that martial arts were not always just exercise and meditation. He took out two more of the poorly trained militia. He wished he could tell the brawny boys he clobbered that they were being taken out by a fag.

Alex grabbed for the automatic rifle from the last football player he took out, but one of the commander's elite kicked it from his hands. Alex saw a blur of boot coming for him and then his head exploded.

Alex felt the impact of a foot hit him every few seconds. It was like a metronome of pain. Alex curled up to keep his vulnerable parts safe. The commander suddenly was shoving Alex's face up with his whip. "Who sent you?"

* * *

Alex snorted and said, "I don't know, but when I get a hold of my travel agent his ass is grass. I booked Bora Bora."

Some sadists don't have a sense of humor. Alex took the blow to his belly exactly as the commander should expect. He threw up all over the man's shoes. Alex fought briefly but ended up spread-eagled between the punishment poles. He really found it hard to believe that some people paid to play this way. They could fucking well have his turn for free.

God damn it, it hurt. Where in the hell was Mulder? Alex focused his mind on Mulder. If his lover was here, he would suck in that lower lip and nibble on those ears that Alex had once told his lover looked like Alfred E. Neuman light. Alex cried out as the blows fell on his bare back. It hurt like hell.

Alex was fairly sure that he had broken ribs from the beating he had received during his capture. Alex told himself to think about Mulder and some place warm. Alex imagined Mulder and him on a tropical beach. He would dribble papaya juice or maybe passion fruit juice down that sharp chin, over that prominent Adam's apple and trail it over the narrow chest. And, oh, fuck, he couldn't block that one out.

The commander was in his face. "Why don't you tell me what you were doing here?"

Alex said, "Sure, I'll tell you. I work for a secret organization. You might have heard of it? U.N.C.L.E.? Any moment now, a debonair man in an expensive suit is going to parachute in and save me."

Well, dammed if there wasn't a helicopter circling in. Alex looked up as everyone else did. The commander shouted as a spot light blinded everyone. A huge god like voice said, "Throw down their weapons. This is the police. Throw down your guns and lay on the ground."

And you try being tied up with people shooting, screaming, and yelling around you. Alex was terrified. It sucked. It went on and on until a tall, maybe not so debonair man in a SWAT outfit was untying his hands. Alex observed, "You're not Napoleon Solo."

"Scully. Scully! Help!" Mulder yelled.

Alex complained, "Hey, I don't need a body-bagger yet, lover."

Mulder got Alex's wrist free. He sank down holding Alex. Alex reached up and stroked Mulder's cheek. He hadn't shaved today. His face was rough. Alex whispered, "I wish you could kiss me right here."

Mulder was crying. Alex said, "I'm okay, Mulder. I'm fine"

Mulder said, "I know."

Scully arrived and she knelt down poking, prodding and generally being a nuisance. She held Alex's hand, taking his pulse. Her soft strong hands brushed his cheeks and then held back the lids of his eyes. She flickered a small flashlight back and forth. She said, "He has broken ribs. I think that he may have a concussion. Lots and lots of abrasions. He'll be okay though, Mulder."

Scully smiled at him. Alex felt a stab of guilt as he looked at her pretty, concerned face. Shit, now how was he going to outwit the smoking man to save Scully too?

Scully said, "Hey, Alex, how do you feel?"

Alex said, "I feel pretty stupid."

Mulder growled, "And you were pretty stupid. Alex Krycek, you promised you wouldn't try to do this on your own."

Alex whined, "Hey, Mulder, it just happened. Please don't yell at me."

Mulder sighed and said, "Someone tells me I should know how it feels from this end. And I guess you were right, junior."

Alex coughed as some blood ran from his nose into his throat. It was gross. He said, "Mulder, you might have been partially right. There's a doctor doing some kind of experiments in that big metal portable. You go check it out. I'll be okay."

Scully nodded and said, "I'll stay with him until the Med Evac comes."

Alex went foggy at this point, but he woke up with Mulder kissing him. He would highly recommend that as a way to wake up, but he would prefer that people get their own Mulder to try it. Alex sucked in that lip and nursed on it until Mulder pulled away. "Hey," said Mulder.

"Hey, back." Alex replied. He looked around. He must be private room at a hospital. Good for that. Alex moved his body in the bed. It hurt more places then not. Alex asked, "You going to kick my ass for what I did?"

Mulder said, "I have plans on your ass, but kicking it is not in them."

Mulder sat down on the bed, framing Alex in with his long arms. Alex reached out to pat the thigh nearest him. "I want to go home." He patted Mulder's cock. The wonderful thing knew him and stood up to greet.

Scully poked her head in. Mulder blushed, but didn't move away. Alex did take his hand away.

Scully came in and looked at Alex. She asked, "How are you feeling, Alex?"

Alex said, "Ready to get out of here."

Scully smiled and said, "That's what Mulder always says too. I'm sure they will let you out tonight."

Alex asked, "So how much trouble am I in?"

Scully replied, "None, the director is grateful. It's moose season and now he can go shoot Bullwinkle without nasty reports from the media about taking a vacation with a bunch of unsolved murders. That's what I came to tell you."

Alex said, "That's great, Scully. Hey, can I get a favor?"

Scully lifted her perfectly arched red brow. She said, "When Mulder says that I shudder."

Alex said, "All I want is for someone to go buy this Indian girl who helped me a warm coat and a good pair of boots. Her name is Corry and she's seventeen. She lives at Elm and Main. It's a boarding house. She shared number 7 with a bunch of other kids."

Scully smiled and said, "Alex, that is so sweet. I'll do it personally."

Alex received a kiss on the forehead. It surprised him and dismayed him. It would have been better if Scully stayed a bitch to him. Oh, shit, he really needed a way out for all of them.

* * *

Two days later, Alex sprawled naked on Mulder's bed. Mulder was engaged in kissing all of Alex's owies. Alex arched up and pointed out, "Mulder, you're missing one. Look, it's getting purple."

Mulder followed Alex's indication and said, "That one looks positively enflamed. Maybe I should apply ice."

Alex shuddered and said, "No, moist heat, very moist, very warm heat....

"Like this" Mulder asked?

"MMM" Alex said, "And get the curtain."

Mulder lowered the curtain.


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