Someone's fingers pried up the lids of Walter's jet lagged eyelids. Green eyes and lush lashes in miniature stared at him. Nicky said, "I found some balloons. Can I play with them?"
Walter couldn't remember if they had bought Nicky balloons, but Alex was making the most of this visit. He was getting in a year's worth of hugs, laughs and presents. Walter said, "That's fine, Nicky. Um, how come you didn't wake your daddy?"
"Cause he's hiding under the covers," Nicky replied. "Daddy said not to peek under there when he is sleeping with uncle Fox or uncle Walter."
Walter reminded himself that he was a well-adjusted bisexual man, old enough and out long enough not to blush. He nodded and said, "Daddy is right. Okay, let me sleep just a little longer and I'll order room service."
Walter remembered feeling Alex snuggle closer to his back and then nothing more until the odor of coffee drifted over his nose. Alex was slouched at the table, drinking a cup. His bare legs sprawled enticingly, but he was decently covered with a black velour robe, the first Walter had ever seen him wear. He hadn't shaved yet and his one-day growth was enticing against his fair skin. He had been growing his hair out; both Mulder and Walter agreed they liked it long and he was obliging. This morning, one side stood wildly on edge and the other side was flattened. Even like this, he was the most beautiful creature that Walter had ever seen. Alex moved and his robe parted to reveal boxer shorts with a wild print, grinning out of the gap. Skinner scowled, recognizing Mulder's horrible color and design sense in the purple and green paisley on black. Alex said, "Hey, Walter, how come you told my kid he could blow up all the condoms."
Walter said, "I never..." Then he recalled this morning's conversation and now he really blushed. "Balloons, he said they were balloons."
Alex grinned and said, "He said that he didn't knew balloons could have candy tastes. He said the chocolate ones don't taste like a Hershey bar though. I didn't tell him that was your favorite flavor."
"Ha, I like the tequila flavored ones." Skinner said. "And if you hadn't been hiding under the covers, he would have asked you instead."
Alex said, "Hey, I was cold. I'm delicate."
Walter snorted and asked, "You order breakfast?"
Alex said, "On it's way. Walter, if you don't want to do this Disneyland trip..."
Walter said, "Alex, I hardly said that. It's my turn and I don't care if Mulder loves Disneyland." He scowled. This compromise was Scully's idea. She said that it was ridiculous for the two of them, Mulder and him, to fight over Alex, when it was obvious that the man loved them both. So, Alex happily moved between two lovers, glowing these days like a pampered kitty from all the attention. Of course, it was probably better then Alex's idea which was that they buy a big bed in a big house and learn to share. Skinner just couldn't see that. He had troubles with Mulder as it was and he was sure he would strangle the man if he had to live with him as well as work with him.
Walter could see the TV flickering in the adjoining room in this suite. He had insisted on paying for the hotel. Alex had money and Walter knew better than to ask how he got it, but Alex was conservative with his funds and was going to opt for an extra bed in a king bed equipped room. Walter had no intention of remaining celibate this whole trip. He had engaged the suite, which gave Nicky a room of his own. There was a micro dot of a living room in between with a door that was currently partially shut, but he still decided to be cautious and said, "Alex, bring me my robe."
Alex put down his coffee, stretched, and strolled over to fetch the garment. He held it out of reach and mischievously pulled the cover down to Walter's waist. "I love your shoulders, you know." He remarked. His eyes explored all the exposed flesh before he settled back on the anatomy he had initially praised. He sat on the bed and trailed kisses from the ticklish inner elbow up to Skinner's neck. "What happened to my good morning kiss?"
Walter smiled and said, "It must be love if you can stand my morning breath."
Alex replied, "Could be just intense lust. Could be that I just like the way you kiss."
Walter dreamed of that soft expression, lips parted, aglow with anticipation; Alex's eyes veiled and lovely. He slid his hand around Alex's back, bringing him close. Alex leaned into him, braced on his prosthetic hand on one side so the other could cup Walter's head. Still, always, would he always feel this rush of excitement when Alex was with him like this? The thrill of that kiss was like a fine wine, the flavors were redolent, teasingly engaging, and then the warmth gathered until it was like a pleasant fire centering him, making him long for another taste.
Nikolai's voice clearly stated, "Papa, uncle Walter, the man is here with breakfast and I'm hungry."
Alex moved away with a shrug and an apologetic smile, leaving Walter in possession of the robe. He sighed and got out of bed, fastening the terry cloth garment tightly. He genuinely liked Nikolai and he was trying to establish a relationship naturally, not like some unnamed characters that were spending daddy's fortune at The Discovery Shop to win a curious, bright little boy's affection. However, having a kid around was a major change in his relationship with the father, for instance, having to get dressed and actually stay out of bed.
Walter tipped the waiter and helped carry the laden trays to the table. The tiny living space was equipped with the small table, a tidbit of a couch and a comfortable chair as well as the essential TV, equipped with twenty-four hour Disney movies.
Nikolai followed close behind with the carafe of orange juice. He was an amazing little boy, very coordinated and imaginative. Walter thought this was a hint of what Alex had been before his life went to hell, but he didn't entirely regret the way he and Alex had come to terms. After all they had been through, there was not much more that life could do to them that would have a chance of shaking their feelings for each other...Walter included Fox Mulder in that equation.
Once, Walter had doubted that he was anything more than a placebo for a love Alex thought was forever lost. Now, even if he had to share, Walter was satisfied that he gave Alex something, security, simplicity, and steadfast affection than Mulder could ever provide. Walter hid a smile. Mulder might be inventive and, god knows, he was sexy, but Walter had spent a lot of time learning exactly what made Alex tick and, what made him come. He didn't think anymore that Alex closed his eyes and thought of Mulder when they made love.
Three hours later, they waited in line for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Nicky was doing his best not be grouchy, but he was at the age when kids were most energetic with short attention spans...in other words, the age at which Fox Mulder froze. Nicky had dutifully oohed and ahhed over Alice in Wonderland and The Mad Hatter's Tea Party made him giggle madly. Walter had planned carefully for the day using the on-line sites to make sure that all the rides for which they lined up were suitable for Nicky and that they hit the popular ones at the best time. Alex had insisted on Indiana Jones; he would. It was the leather and that dark and dangerous look, although Walter opinioned that Alex pulled it off better than even Harrison Ford. Standing in that line, had taken a full hour and most of Nicky's patience. Mr. Toad's blurb said to expect waits of about half an hour minutes, but it had already been forty-five minutes.
Walter spotted something and grinned as an idea came into his head. He said, "I'll be right back." Alex nodded. He was murmuring in Russian to Nicky, from the few words that Walter caught, he was retelling the story of Mr. Toad. Hmm, there was another Mulder-like character. Walter shook his head. He needed to get his mind off his rival or he was going to spoil their truce.
Walter perused the selections, picking a handheld game with batteries and a small camera in the shaped of Goofy. He was tall enough that he brushed the display of mouse ears when he bent to look at the games. Impulsively, he picked out three of the hats and added them to his pile. Smiling, at the thought, he parted with enough cash to pay his utilities for a month. He arrived back just in time to load onto the ride with Alex and Nicky.
It was too bad that Disneyland was in the middle of Orange County. Alex laughing, his large, straight white teeth flashing, his head back as they tumbled into each other on the curves of the veering ride just begged for a kiss. Walter searched his mind for a suitable attraction that was dark enough to cherish a brief embrace. "Again!" Nicky yelled as they walked down the other side.
Walter said, "Nicky, one more ride then lunch. You choose, Peter Pan, The Matterhorn, or Pinocchio?"
Nicky pointed at the Matterhorn, which, of course, had the biggest line. This time however, they immediately organized. Alex took Nicky to the restroom while Walter held his place, scowling at the teenage boys who complained when Nicky and Alex returned. Walter growled, "They are not taking cuts. They're with me."
The tallest of the adolescents tried a surly, "Hey, what's he to you? Do I smell Tinkerbell?" He scratched a pimple on his acne studded face.
Alex smiled evilly and said, "Yeah, he's my boyfriend. We don't get together as often as we like. He's a cop and I kill people for a living. If they annoy me enough, I do it for free."
The kid started to puff up his sharp-keeled chest to reply when Alex smiled again, the smile Skinner had seen when Alex had been the biggest danger in his life. The kid had potential to grow a brain and live to reproductive age, unfortunate as that might be. He looked at that smile and remarked, "I told you guys that this was a ride for wimps. Come on. Let's go back to Tomorrow Land."
Alex smiled again as the kids left and asked, "Are you going to yell at me now or later, Walter?"
"Neither. Close your eyes. I'm going to knight you for valor in dispatching teenage barbarians." Walter decreed.
Alex obeyed him, looking again very worth kissing as the late morning sun explored all the shades of that harmonious face. His skin looked transparent in the light, a beatitude of beauty. Walter snickered after appreciating his riches. He carefully fastened the ears on his lover as Nicky madly grabbed for the other set. Alex opened his eyes and explored his new headgear. He snorted and said, "Rat's ears, I presume?"
Nicky said, "Daddy, don't you know anything? Mickey is a mouse. That's his name Mickey Mouse. He has a girlfriend named Minnie and, uh, I think he has boyfriends named Donald and Goofy."
Neither man corrected Nicky's announcement, but Walter decided when this mess was over and Nicky joined them permanently in America that he was going to a posh liberal school so his notions would not get him in trouble. Nicky said, "You have to match, uncle Walter. Daddy, lift me up so I can put his ears on."
Nicky looked satisfied as he placed them faintly askew on Walter's head. The ears perched precariously, another illustration of one size fitting all being a fallacy. Walter decided to teach the culturally deprived Alex and Nicky the Mousekateer's song. They were hitting a good harmony with contributing chorus from the older members of the line by the time they were whisked aboard the swift ride.
Nicky was ready to eat and put away a fair amount of lunch despite the costumed players at the restaurant. There was nothing like paying gourmet prices for a hot-dog arranged in the shape of a cartoon character, but, it was Nicky's day and that was what he wanted. Nicky stared at the Mickey Mouse and giggled when the entertainer chose him as a foil for his jokes. Walter observed the smiles and he knew that Nicky was going to grow up to be as much of a charmer as his father could be. Alex had fumbled Nicky's camera together. Walter dug out his own, catching a keeper shot of his sleek former assassin, grinning like an idiot, wearing mouse ears as he in turn took a picture of his son squealing happily in the grip of a giant rodent.
By mid-afternoon, Nicky rode through the increasing crowds, ensconced on his father's back. Walter noticed that Alex was wincing and he said, "Nicky, it's not fair. Your father has been your horse for an hour. I want a turn."
Walter caught Alex's grateful glance and stored it away in his album of correct calls. Nicky yelled, "I'm the tallest now! I'm taller than anyone."
After a long time out, studying the crowds, they hit a few more rides and went back to the hotel. Later, they would return for the parade and fireworks, but Nicky was asleep on Walter's back, a trustful, limp, slightly sweaty weight that somehow felt very good and natural. Alex leaned against him in the car, almost as done in as his son. Ignoring the courtesy driver's glance, Walter put his arm around his lover and said, "I wouldn't have missed that for the world."
Alex smiled and replied, "Me, neither, I've only had a few better days and none of them were this...uncomplicated."
Walter ran his hand through Alex's hair and said, "Me too. I want to thank you for sharing this with me. I never saw myself as a father for some reason. I figured it wouldn't work. I've heard enough young agents swear that they left my office without a scrap of hide left."
Alex shook his head and said, "You know, that's stupid. When I was in your office, before, with Mulder and all, I would have been glad to stay. I knew if you yelled at us it was to keep us out of trouble. It made me feel good and then I'd remember what I was really about and I felt like shit. You are a great commanding officer, Walter, and I think you'd make a great father. When it settles, if we win and make it alive, I'm going to need help with Nicky. I don't know that I ever had a normal life and I want one for my kid."
Skinner cautioned, "If you want normal, you have to take Scully up on all those sympathetic looks she's been giving you since she figured out what was going on."
Alex shook his head and said, "Not that normal. Give me a break. Nicky's a good kid. He wouldn't mind having two dads or three dads."
Walter said, "Two dads and a slightly crazed older brother."
Alex chuckled and said, "Mulder's not that bad."
Walter stared, cataloging Mulder's behavior over the years. Beyond the work issues, his behavior with Alex was on an adolescent level in Walter's evaluation. The idiotic pressure to choose and a fight with Alex in the middle of a spying mission on the aliens had damn near got Alex killed. Only Scully's intervention had kept Walter from throwing the remorseful man over his knee and giving him the spanking his immature behavior warranted.
Alex looked away with a dart of his pink tongue over his lips, a duck of his head, a drape of his velvety lashes and a slight shrug as he admitted, "Well, if he is, I love him anyway."
Walter noticed that the driver nearly hit a bike messenger in his distraction. He must have decided that this was Family of Five's biggest rival for dramatic romance and angst. For their own safety, they had better shut up. Alex settled back and closed his eyes, with a sleepy, "Wake me when we get there."
Walter carried Nicky in the elevator and laid him down on his bed. Alex yawned as he removed his son's shoes. "I think he's out until tonight. I'd let him sleep right through, but a promise is a promise. Trying to remember what it is to have a word people trusted. It might come in handy after."
Walter sprawled on their bed; aware of aches and pains he never used to feel a few years ago. Alex sat on the edge and pulled off his shoes for him. He captured his toiletry bag and produced a tube of foot massage lotion. Walter smiled and lay back blissfully. Alex switched on the radio and a rich, deep, rough voice cascaded over them. "What a wonderful world...."
Walter lay back, luxuriating in Alex's attention, this was something worth living for and he swore, one day, there were going to be more for both of them. Yes, it was a wonderful world!
Well, hope this doesn't make your e-mail sticky with all the honey and cotton candy!