A Water Baby 2: Springer
by Ursula

Sequel to A Water Baby

Written for Bertie’s Birthday

Disclaimers: Written for fan enjoyment and no claim to the property of 1013, Fox, Chris Carter meant.

Notes: In Water Baby 1, a sea change came over Alex Krycek until chance reunited him with his lovers and enemies. Who says you don't get a second, or even a third chance? Springer is a real baby whale, an orphan discovered in Puget Sound. She was ill and becoming accustomed to humans. A rescue team reunited her with her pod near Canada. She is said to be doing quite well.

Warnings: Schmoop abounds and some anthropomorphic details.

 

Time Frame: A short while ago in Never Never Land

"Where is he?" Walter asked. "Still on the dock?"

Mulder sat down, as if his bones could no longer support his flesh. His posture and the lack of expression on his face spoke clearly of his feelings. He slumped and said, "He just sits there staring out over the water. I thought that moving here, close to the Sound, would make him content, but maybe it was the wrong thing."

"He was even more unhappy in Maryland," Walter said. He said nothing of the changes he'd made in his life to accommodate the move to this waterfront property across from Seattle. He had few regrets. Here the dark pines, the morning mists, the ever-changing weather healed his soul, even as it matched his bleak moods.

The armchair creaked as Walter rose and moved to the window seat. He could look out and just make out the sleek figure lying belly down on the dock. The morning sun had not warmed the water enough for Alex to swim despite his tolerance for cold. Although human in most respects, the former Water Baby had not entirely lost his sea born differences. He could swim faster and farther than even the best long distance marathoner. His tolerance for cold temperatures had been noticed but, in this area of Washington State, rural respect for privacy had mated with the local acceptance of diversity. No one said anything or questioned the inhuman grace or the long hours that Alex spent swimming.

The three men lived in peace. Washington State had some of the best laws in the nation to protect their sexuality. The nearest residents were mostly Suquamish Indians; entrepreneurial folk that bore the physical traces of the races that had diluted their bloodline without erasing their culture. They took their time getting to know the men before deciding to be amused by Mulder, mystified by Alex, and comfortable with Walter.

"He wasn't given a real choice," said Mulder. "If I could have lived as he was living, free of the pain and trouble of being human, would I have given it up, even for love?"

"I have my faith that you would have," Walter said, his voice tender and firm with his conviction.

Mulder leaned into him, accepting his strength, as he accepted Walter's weakness. So many years of painful yearning before they had tried to heal Alex's loss in each other's arms. Now they complemented each other beautifully.

"I feel guilty that we took him from his innocence and still can't make him happy," Mulder said.

"He says he is happy," Walter said.

"He's learned to lie again," Mulder replied.

Just then Alex stood on the deck. He stretched as the sun came over the water, creating a halo around his sun-tanned body. As his arms reached out in yearning, Walter's heart missed a beat. With a glance back at the house, Alex shed his trunks and dived into the water. Lord knows, both of his lovers had given up on him wearing clothes most of the time at home. Why imprison him with constraints he could not understand? Alex had not learned shame, but he retained the guilt from the early days when Walter and Mulder sought to teach him to behave like a human being.

"He'll probably be out there for hours," Mulder said.

"That's all right," Walter said, "he always comes home."

"So far," Mulder said.

There had been a time when they had both wondered. A pod of killer whales had visited from the Vancouver area. Alex appeared to know the language, although they were from a different pod than the one that had cherished him when he was reborn as a Water Baby. Alex had disappeared for hours, returning hypothermic and exhausted yet happier than he had been since becoming human. When the whales moved onward, Alex swam after them so long that he had to be rescued by his human lovers. The three men had to persuade the mental health professionals that it was not a suicide attempt after a new resident witnessed this event. The reticent neighbors had unbent enough to let the concerned investigators know that Alex swam like a fish and was not trying to kill himself.

After the whales left, Alex grieved. He would not eat for two days. All he would do is sit on the dock and sing his sorrow seaward.

In time, love had comforted Alex and drew him back to Mulder and Walter; yet the experience reminded them of everything their beautiful love had lost to be with them.

Walter grunted as he rose to his feet. "I'm going fishing," he said. "Want to come?"

"Just to keep you company," Mulder said, "I'll bring my laptop to work on that magazine article."

"Good enough," Walter said. He went to get his gear and the keys to the boathouse.

The small commercial fishing boat and his share of the property had cost Walter most of his retirement money. He had worried at first and then decided that it wasn't every guy who ended up being a kept man at his age. Mulder had money and Alex had left him more in the care of the Lone Gunmen, the fruit of years of private rebellion against the conspiracy of old men who had ruined their lives. After Alex's sea change, he hardly understood or cared about the money. Mulder and Walter managed it for him after some futile efforts to involve Alex in his own financial affairs.

The Sea Change, as Walter named the boat, provided occasional income when he hired his services for daylong fishing and whale watching cruises. It also provided a way to keep an eye on Alex during his long hours in the ocean. Today though, Walter found no trace of him. He called across to Bob Charlie, one of the Suquamish fishermen that he knew well.

"Hey, Bob, have you seen any whales today?" Walter yelled across the water.

"Nah, they mostly moved on. Headed for Vancouver, I think," the lean brown man said. He leaned over the side of his weathered fishing boat, his narrow hip and flat ass nearly a straight line. A beaded baseball cap was pulled low over his hazel eyes, an odd contrast to his dark skin. His thick black hair was pulled into two braids that were wrapped with red yarn. "You're looking for Alex?"

Walter admitted, "Yes, I am."

The Native American didn't say anything further. Walter knew they had seen some of Alex's differences, but they seemed to observe everything without remarking on much. Charlie scanned the horizon, lines radiating from his narrow eyes, set in epicanthic folds. "I didn't see him today, but my cousin, Steve, said that it looked like that pod of whales might have lost one of the young ones. A small killer whale swam right up to his boat. It was over north. You might want to check there." The man adjusted his cap and briefly smiled. "Don't you worry. We keep an eye out for Alex. He always knows where the fish are running."

"Thanks," Walter said.

Heading north, Walter lost himself in the day. Sunlight glistened off the water, kaleidoscopes of light dazzling his eyes. He didn't stop to fish, wanting to check on Alex and perhaps catch a glimpse of the orphaned whale. He found neither and turned around after he and Mulder enjoyed a picnic lunch on the Sound.

When they stopped for lunch, Walter and Mulder didn't make love, but gave themselves a dessert of kisses and cuddles, as the fishing boat bobbed on the water, creating a comforting, rhythmic movement that lulled them into a sensuous daze. Mulder straddled his body, his weight supported by his wide- spread knees. The worn Speedo was little more than a latex barrier and Walter could feel every considerable inch of his lover's cock. The mouth was a feast, the lower lips so soft and the upper lip so sensitive that kissing Mulder should have been listed under 'Wonders of the World'. Walter stroked the silken skin over the strong back. His fingers found the scar on Mulder's shoulder... the mark of Scully's bullet that had saved Alex's life. If only she had been there to do the same for Walter...

Yet the reborn Alex was a creature of dazzling beauty and innocence, a lover washed free of his terrible past. Walter's guilt would never lessen, but he was glad that Alex could remember little of the pain of his past life. He had been to hell and back; no one more deserved expiation of all of his sins. Mulder smoothed the furrow of frown away and said, "Walter, it's okay. It's all right now."

Looking into the hazel eyes, Walter felt his heart nearly burst with love for Mulder, his lover at last. He said, "I know."

When they arrived home, Alex still wasn't back. Mulder frowned and said, "I hope he didn't follow the whales again."

It was twilight. Both Mulder and Walter sat on the bench by the dock, pretending that they weren't concerned. Mulder spotted Alex first. Walter wasn't sure. All he saw was a white blob against the dark water. It rose and fell until the dolphin like thrust of the swimmer came close enough for Walter to recognize his beautiful lover. He smiled grabbed the beach towel he had brought down hopefully.

Alex's hands gripped the edge of the dock and launched upwards, springing out of the water with the power and grace of a dolphin leaping. He shook himself off, silver droplets shedding from the white marble of his body. Light from the house caught his eyes, making them glow supernaturally. He smiled widely and laughed out loud in delight as Walter and Mulder brushed away the spray that reached them.

A moment later, Alex pounced upon Mulder, pinning him and devouring him with kisses. Mulder kissed back, allowed Alex to peer into his eyes and then as Alex licked his face, pushed him toward Walter.

Walter bore the assault with good will then dried Alex with the towel. He kissed Alex in the hollow of his shoulder, loving the instant shuddering response.

"I want to make love," Alex sang out.

"I'd offer you dinner, but I can taste the fish on your breath," Walter teased.

"Yes, I had a good, good day. Guess what I found?" Alex said. "Look," he added, pointing outward to the Sound.

A whale's head breached the water and its tail slapped the water. "It's a baby," Alex said. "I helped her hunt today. She's very young and didn't follow her pod because she was playing."

Green eyes darker, Alex said, "She's an orphan. Her mother was chasing a seal and stranded in shallow water. Springer doesn't really understand that her mother died. "

Just then the killer whale uttered a lonely sound. Alex frowned and glanced back over the water. Mulder captured his arm and said, "You can't stay with her. She's a whale and you are human."

"She wishes she were human," Alex said. "Tomorrow, swim out with me, Mulder. Springer likes people a lot. Please?"

"I never can resist that big eyed look," Mulder said.

Walter knew that Alex realized that he wasn't as strong as swimmer as Mulder. Truthfully since his near drowning, Walter didn't like to swim. He sometimes still woke gasping for air or with tears flowing so copiously they clogged his nose and mouth with the memory of Alex's still body lying on the deck of that fishing ship. Still, curious about the orphaned whale, Walter asked, "Would she be afraid of the boat?"

"I don't think so. She's a little confused as to the difference between people and boats. She knows that people are entertaining, but the boats are more her size. She wants to play with them," Alex said.

"That could be dangerous," Mulder replied with a frown.

"I know, I'll work with her and try to make her understand," Alex said. He waved to the whale and uttered a series of liquid trills to let her know they were going inside.

OooOooO

Inside the house, Walter led his lovers to the bathroom. They had a large Jacuzzi tub. It took time to fill, but that gave time for Alex to brush his teeth and for his lovers to sponge him down. Mulder plastered himself to Alex and took the toothbrush from him to add his own efforts to Alex's. Walter smiled. For a long time after Alex was reborn, the two of them always brushed Alex's teeth for him, combed out his long hair, and bathed him. Becoming human again had been a long road for Alex.

After Walter and Mulder had sponged Alex from head to foot, removing the grit of a day spent in the sound, they slid into the Jacuzzi to enjoy a long soak. Their limbs tangled in the middle. Walter leaned over to nuzzle Alex's neck as Mulder's toes slid up his leg in a sensuous tease. Words muffled against the peachy flesh of Alex's neck, Walter said, "I love you, Alex."

The wordless answer was a passionate kiss. Alex's tongue darted between Walter's lips and tickled over his gums. Walter pulled his lover over his lap so he could stroke Alex's round ass. The skin was smooth over the plump bottom until Alex moved, then the strong muscles rippled beneath. Mulder sandwiched Alex, pressing close so he could explore the riches of both of his lovers. His hands kneaded Walter's shoulders, his mouth caught Walter's. Alex leaned back to kiss Mulder, his erection pressing hard into Walter's torso.

Clean bodies vibrating in lust, hearts heated with love for each other, the passion was always like the first time but each new lovemaking added to the delight as they learned an alchemy of sex and tenderness. At first, they tumbled about each other, prolonging the pleasure and teasing the flames higher. Walter didn't usually offer to bottom, but Alex seemed to be asking for him by his touches.

"Yes," Walter said, trusting that Alex and Mulder would take the time to make it good.

Mulder said, "Save this for me though." His hand surrounded Walter's cock in a restricting but gentle grip.

"Really?" Walter asked.

"Absolutely Mister Skinner," Mulder said. He reached over to get the lube from the desk drawer.

Walter's lovers kissed each other over his prone body before moving their attentions to him. He shuddered as his lovers licked and sucked their way down his body. His hands dug into the bed, flexing like a cat's as he concentrated on the joy he felt. A growl of eagerness resounded from his body as Alex finally nuzzled his way to between his legs. He felt Alex's strong hands part his ass and then the probe of tongue. He felt as if he was full of molten lava, about to erupt. Mulder's sexy grin intruded as he formed a cock ring of his fingers.

"That was naughty," Mulder said, "I told you that was mine."

"It's not going to do you a lot of good by the time Alex is done with me," Walter said. "I don't think I'd last long enough to get the condom on."

Alex laughed, a liquid sound like the ripple of a woodland stream. Walter lay flat, his body relaxed except for the insistent nagging of his cock. He gasped as some of Alex's weight straddled him. The slow breach felt odd, no longer painful as when he first tried this in Vietnam. He took a deep breath and released it as Alex nudged his way inside him. For a moment, Walter felt dizzy and over-heated, his senses on fire from all the sensations conflicting. He looked over at Mulder's grinning face and blushed, feeling shy and vulnerable in this moment. Mulder turned his face back and offered his mouth. Walter groaned into the kiss as Alex rode him harder. He pushed back, feeling the surge of his passion grow.

"I want to come," Walter said as Mulder moved to hold him back. A shrug answered him, but Mulder respected his wishes.

Orgasm was an internal sunburst, sending sparks radiating through his eyes. His cry of pleasure still echoed when Alex collapsed over him. He felt Alex slide off him to lie gasping on his back nearby, a possessive hand still spread over Walter's body. Walter was happy, happier than he'd ever believed himself capable of being. Exhausted from his passion, Walter watched Mulder tease and seduce Alex into bottoming for him. The two of them together were as sexy as any dream that he could have fantasized. Golden tan of Mulder's body, narrowly striped by the Speedo's lines and white alabaster of Alex's other-worldly body moved in a dolphin dance with each other until both cried out and moved side to side to rest.

The bed was ravaged beyond a simple tidying. Walter grumbled, "Next time we should remember to put down towels.

Mulder's eyes crinkled in amusement and said, "Do I hear the romance wearing thin?"

"Just being practical," Walter said, "I'll never stop loving the both of you."

"I'm tired now," Alex said, "Hurry up and finish making the bed."

His two lovers laughed at him as they complied. Alex fitted himself into the middle before anyone could discuss who would get that cherished position. Wound together like the roots of a single tree, the three men slept.

OooOooO

Walter watched Mulder lower himself into the water. He was outfitted with a facemask, insulating suit and rebreather. Alex dove freely and fearlessly off the deck, emerging smoothly from his dive to tug at Mulder. Walter leaned over the side, shielding his eyes as he saw a shape in the distance. The figure crested revealing itself as a young killer whale. He heard the excited whistle followed by an equally wild call from Alex.

Moments later the whale peered quizzically with one eye out of the water. Walter smiled at the huge eye blinking at him. Mulder petted the whale's tough skin, but Alex said, "Pet her tongue. She likes that."

It made Walter nervous to see Mulder reach his hand into the vast mouth. He knew that these creatures ate entire seals for a meal and thought that killing sharks was a great game. However there was something innocent about the whale. He could tell it wasn't a mature orca. Still, it was one hell of a big baby, he hoped that Alex could control the creature.

Shortly, Mulder was grinning around his mask so widely that dimples appeared that Walter had never realized were there. The whale was careful, cautioned by Alex not to drag Mulder under and to keep her leaps away from Mulder and the boat. Alex dove again and again, catching fish to thrust into the baby whale's hungry mouth.

Walter felt a sting of envy until Mulder returned to the boat and said, "Alex really wants you to meet her."

"I'm not Spock you know," Walter replied, but he looked longingly at the water.

"Brought you a suit just in case," Mulder said.

"You are too cocky," Walter replied.

"I thought you liked that?" Mulder said.

Walter mustered his old glare and folded arms until he smiled. "All right, it's once in a lifetime. I've spent too much of the last part of my life not taking chances."

Alex kept near to reassure him, not as playful as he had been with Mulder. He dove to catch fish for the whale but always returned swiftly to Walter, showing him how to move in the protective gear. Walter petted Springer's tongue as Mulder had done, at first nervous, but then more confidently. Alex handed him a struggling fish and Walter fed the orca what to her was a morsel.

Springer nudged Walter beseechingly and Walter found himself reacting as he always did with kids. He couldn't resist the little beggars even although Springer wasn't little! He said, "Alex, can you catch another one?"

Alex grinned at him, as happy as Walter had ever seen him. He planted a kiss on Walter's cheek before disappearing in pursuit of another fish. It didn't take him long even with his bare hands. Walter fed the fish to Springer again and was bowled over by an affectionate nuzzle. He wasn't afraid. After a while, Mulder left the boat at sea anchor to join them.

Hours later, cold and hungry, Mulder and Walter waited on the deck for Alex to say goodbye. He finally trilled his goodbye and came aboard, looking glorious and beautiful, nearly the miracle of inhuman beauty that he had been when they had first seen him swimming with the whales that watched over the Water Baby that he had become.

"Can we come tomorrow?" Alex asked.

Walter could think of a million things to do, but he realized that Alex wanted them to share this, as near his former life as mere humans could come. He said, "Sure, Alex, I can make the time to come here with you if you really want us here."

"I want you to be here. Today was the best day that I can remember and since we have been together, each day is good," Alex said.

Alex hardly knew how to lie since his transformation. Walter knew he could trust what his lover said. Alex was happy. Even confined to a life mostly set by the boundaries of earth, he still felt joy.

Drawing the strong, pale fingers upward, Walter kissed his lover's left hand as both he and Alex gripped Mulder's hands. Together...always together now.

OooOooO

Over the next week, Walter enjoyed the time spent with his lovers. It was surreal, as if they all had become part of the sea. Still despite the efforts they all were making, Walter could see that something was wrong with Springer. The baby seemed happy but her skin was dull and discolored. She was also not as big as she should be for the age Alex said that she was.

They all spent time looking up as much information as they could to try to help her, but Alex said that she needed her pod, needed an older female relative to mother her.

Mulder dawdled over a last cup of coffee and frowned as if he had his own thoughts. Alex glared at him, an expression that reminded Walter of the bad old days. "What?" Alex demanded.

"She's sick, Alex," Mulder said. "I think we should involve whale experts in her care."

Slamming down his tea, Alex said, "No, no, they'll lock her up. She's never been in a cage. Never been where she can't escape. No!"

Storming out, Alex left the door wide open. He ran to the dock as Mulder followed. Walter barely made it in time to see Alex dive into the water and swiftly disappear.

Mulder unhappily gazed after him. He said, "I know what the right thing to do is. The only thing is if it is the right thing for Alex? What should I do, Walter?"

Walter was surprised that his lover asked his opinion. Mulder had never been shy at making decisions that affected the people he loved. Even when his decisions could affect the fate of humanity, he had faced his role with courage. His doubts might torment him, but he had looked for the chance to be a man who made a difference. Now, his eyes showed his uncertainty and his pain.

"I can't lose any more people," Mulder admitted. "I can't lose him again."

"We'll wait," Walter said, "Either the whale will get better or Alex will see that he needs more help than we can give."

OooOooO

The next day, Walter cursed as he picked up the morning paper. It was damp as always, but that wasn't the problem. The front page had a blurry picture of a blob that was labeled Springer. They even had her name right. Some of the local children had heard Alex calling her that and told the reporters who readily picked up the name.

Alex stormed in and grabbed the paper, throwing it to the floor. "You just couldn't wait, Mulder. The sound is full of scientists observing her. Soon they will start poking and prodding. How could you? You know how that feels! You know!"

Turning gray, Alex charged from the room. Walter could hear him retching and then Mulder's voice arguing with Alex. Alex wasn't listening.

Pale and angry, Alex sat at the table and said, "If they take her captive, I'm going to get her loose. She won't be a subject. She won't be their slave the way I was to the bastards."

"Not all scientists are bad," Walter said. "And she is sick. They're concerned about her."

"So they say," Alex said, "They made me promises too. They had all the best lies. At times, I really believed I was the chosen one. I thought my suffering was because I was one of the elite. I was ready to be a martyr, I thought. I let go of you and Mulder. I gave up the men I loved because I thought I was going to save the world. I believe them right up to the time they tried to kill me the first time."

"I know, Alex, they used me too," Mulder said. "I was strapped to one of those tables too. I was just a specimen to that evil old man who was my father...to both of them."

So much pain, a world of pain, Walter bowed his head. Was this going to be the end of them?

OooOooO

Alex crept back late that night. Mulder and Walter had finally gone to sleep. Walter woke when cold damp flesh pressed against him. Alex whispered huskily, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I didn't listen. I didn't give you a chance."

In the darkness, Walter heard Mulder say, "It's all right. I understand." Mulder laughed ruefully and added, "Listening was never one of my skills either. Come here. It must be love if I don't mind your cold feet."

Walter grumbled, "I love him and I mind." He pulled Alex close despite his words. "Did you manage to see Springer?"

"Yes, I swam underwater for a long way so they didn't notice me. She is sick and she thinks the new people are very nice to feed her so many fish. Springer asked me how she might be human like me," Alex said. "She thinks if she dies she will be a Earth Baby like I am a Water Baby. I told her that she should be happy to be an Orca."

"That was very wise," Mulder said tenderly. Walter saw his hand stroking Alex's long hair as moonlight caught the golden highlights of his skin. Mulder looked in Walter's direction and Walter shook his head. Now was not the time to push the obvious conclusion.

"I wouldn't have you if I stayed in the sea. Even when I was happy in the ocean, there was a hunger in me that I could not fill. It was like the call of a whale that cannot find his pod, a very sad song. I knew from the first that I had to go with you," Alex said. "We have to help Springer find her family."

OooOooO

Over the next week, Walter and Mulder read the headlines, watched the news, and worried. Alex still went out to talk to Springer, although he kept to the darkness and promised to stay out of the sight of the whale watchers.

No one was sleeping well during the night or day. At night, Mulder and Walter worried for their lover. During the day, they all napped, but Alex woke screaming. His lost memories of the silo and of his mutilation were coming back.

OooOooO

A noise penetrated the exhausted sleep into which Walter had fallen. Walter moaned in complaint, dreaming that he still worked for the FBI and it was time to start another frustrating day. His hand found no alarm to throw to the wall. Finally, Walter realized that the doorbell was ringing.

It was too early, way too early. Mulder was heavily asleep for once. Walter slid out from under Mulder's arm and grabbed for his robe. A single glance showed him that Alex was not where he had slept last night.

"Crap," Walter said as his knee found the coffee table. He peered out the door and recognized Jim Paul, one of the tribal policemen. Alex stood sullenly with the wiry law enforcement agent.

"Hi, Jim, what's up?" Walter asked. "Is Alex in trouble?"

"Yeah, Alex is in hot water again. The coast guard was really mad," Jim said. Dark eyes in near Asian folds stared from his leathery brown face. His pronounced overbite was typical of his tribe.

"The coast guard?" Walter asked.

"They saw Alex with his whale," Jim said. "They wanted to arrest him for harassing it."

"Did they?" Walter asked, heart skipping a beat. He didn't want any law enforcement agent taking a close look at Alex nor did he want a hospital talking to Alex at length. The swift examination at the emergency room when Alex and Walter had nearly drowned was one thing. Walter had the feeling that Alex wouldn't look as normal under prolonged examination.

"No, me and Jackie lied," Jim said. "We told them Alex was one of our own and that he was doing medicine with that whale." The Native American laughed, "That medicine angle almost always works. They released him to us, but said that he better keep away from the whale."

"Thank you," Walter said.

"Hey, everyone knows that those kids would have died if Alex hadn't seen their canoe overturn. When that house burned down, you and Mulder got those old ladies out. No one else could have found them hiding in that closet that quickly. You guys do belong to us. We'll watch out for you," Jim said. "But you have to keep Alex away from Springer. There are too many button-eyes watching."

Walter winced at the careless use of a term used locally for round-eyed Europeans. He said, "I'll try to keep him away. It's tough. He's afraid that they might hurt Springer or keep her captive."

"I know," Jim said. He adjusted the heavy weight of his gun and said, "It might work out. We were talking about doing something if they sounded like they were going to take her out of the wild permanently. They said that they wouldn't do that. Course Wasichu promises aren't often much good, pardon me for saying. You and the other guys being the exception. I think they mean well this time. These people seem to care about Springer."

"I hope so," Walter said. He hugged Alex and said, "Thank you for keeping your eye out for him."

OooOooO

The stubborn look hadn't left Alex's face. He didn't trust authority. He didn't trust scientists. The fear and pain tortured Alex even if there was no conscious memory. He and Mulder both shared those nightmares. Walter would wake to see them outside on the patio, clinging to each other as they tried not to disturb him. He never quite knew what to do, should he try to comfort them or was it better to let them work it out by themselves? He never could decide so he lay awake and worried until they returned to bed.

The haunted look in Alex's face evoked memories that Walter had shoved far away. He had his own nightmares, so many about the man he had loved, hated, lost, and now loved again. He could not tell his lovers about what troubled his sleep. He didn't want to reproach the innocence that veiled Alex from the guilt of his past life or to evoke the anger toward Alex that Mulder had struggled to put aside forever.

And now Alex stood at the edge of the sea as dawn rose silver and faintly gold. The glints of waves kissed Alex's white feet. Every line of Alex's long, lean body was tense, as if with one sound he would flee into the Sound never to return. Mulder came to stand with him, his strong, scarred hand gripping Walter's.

Regret tinged Mulder's voice. "We shouldn't have done it. We should have left him alone. He was happy."

At the sound of Mulder's voice, Alex turned back toward them. In a moment, he was running to them, light catching ruby highlights in the dark of his hair and igniting his eyes into preternatural green fire.

Walter went down as Alex tackled him, aggressively seeking his mouth. "Mine, mine," Alex sang out musically. There was no discussion as hands flew about, removing clothing to strip the lovers naked.

Old enough to let the fleeting image of their comfortable bed contrast with the grit of the sand; Walter dismissed the practical thought when Mulder's mouth found his cock. His own mouth fed on the hot iron of Alex's erection. He felt his hand tangle with Alex as both of them kept pace with the rhythm of lovemaking as they teased and pleased Mulder. Walter's mind felt as if it was burning in the fire of their passion. Mulder's come scorched his fingers as Walter pumped into his lover's mouth. A moment later, Alex cried out like an eagle as he dissolved into his pleasure.

Mulder's head pillowed on his stomach, heated breath tickling the hair that strayed upward and downward. Alex groaned and moved around to spoon around Mulder. Walter rested his hand on both of them. A rock dug into his back and his leg itched, but he was too sated to seek comfort right now. The sun was streaming through the thin morning clouds, the light fracturing into streaks of platinum.

Finally, when the rock became unbearable, Walter stood up and dusted the sand off his body. All of them looked like sea otters, head and body hair spiked, grit sticking where semen had marked them, and satiated grins bedecking their faces. Alex even had a bit of seaweed in his hair. Walter plucked it out and said, "Not that I'm complaining, but what was that about?"

"I thought what it would be like to be alone and I was very glad that I was with my lovers instead," Alex said.

"I'm glad to hear that," Walter said.

"I'm human," Alex said wistfully. "I understand now what Mulder meant when he talked to me about Springer. She's a whale that wants to be a person. I'm a man that wanted to be a whale, but I don't know if I want that anymore. You think that I'm sad because I can't be free in the ocean. I'm not. You are my freedom. You are all that I desire."

Mulder's eyes met Walter, an infinity of tenderness in the hazel orbs. "I hope so, Alex. Because we couldn't lose you again. You have to know that."

Alex's left hand caressed Mulder's cheek. He leaned forward to kiss his brilliant, frustrating man. His right hand cupped the back of Walter's head, holding onto him as if he would never let go.

"I met a whale that knows Springer's pod. She has a cousin who lost her first baby," Alex said in muffled tones.

"Where?" Mulder asked.

"Around Vancouver," Alex replied. "Will you take me? I want to talk to her. Then if they do as they promise and let her go, she will have someone to take care of her. I told her that she shouldn't trust people, but she only laughs at me."

"We'll take you," Mulder promised. He met Walter's eyes and Walter nodded agreement.

"Whatever it take," Walter promised. He grinned. "Hey, we can do anything. I realized that when I saw Alex come back to life."

Walter slapped Alex's ass and said, "But first you get dressed."

The Sea Change was always kept seaworthy, but Walter went over it anyway in preparation for the trip. He made sure that the inflatable lifeboats were in good repair and properly hung for easy launch. He checked the life jackets, the first aid kit, and the navigation equipment. Alex was not much use at any of the technological chores. He hadn't picked back up most of his former skills although he was willing to try anything that Walter asked of him.

Mulder was faxing a magazine article he had procrastinated about finishing. It was a well paying assignment so he felt obligated to get it to the editor. He finished and confirmed that it was received just as Walter was ready to pull out.

The neighbors would check on the house from time to time. They didn't even ask where they were going. They just gave Walter a huckleberry pie, some dried fish, and a loaf of fresh baked bread. Alex examined the smoked fish with a bemused expression. He really didn't see the point in cooking the flavor out of a delicious salmon. He would take advantage of the trip to taste fish that didn't come into the sound. Of course, he was always willing to catch dinner for his lovers even if they didn't share his taste for raw fish.

OooOooO

Two days later, the Sea Change bobbed on a calm ocean as Alex leaned over the side speaking to a passing Orca. Shortly thereafter, they made the seventh course change of the day as they tried to located the pod to which Springer's cousin belong. Despite Alex's realization that he was happy as a human, Walter hoped that Alex wouldn't run into his old pod. The wary Long John and his mate, Shark-Killer, usually kept the pod far from human domains so there wasn't much chance of that. The passing whale was solitary young male separated from his pod although he knew where they were. He swam after the ship for most of the day before becoming bored with the odd human that spoke Orca.

By the next morning, Alex spotted the pod of Orcas to which Springer belonged. They were the A pod and spent most of their time in Canada. Walter angled the boat so it blocked the view of the only whale watchers in sight. It started to rain anyway and a mist settled over the water. It was warm and wet, sounds muffled so it seemed that they were alone on the water, just the three of them. Alex slid into the water after calling out to the pod mothers. Walter and Mulder leaned over the rail, listening to the whale song as Alex told the pod about Springer. They couldn't see their lover nor could they recognize his voice. He sounded just like the Orcas.

Hours later, Alex climbed up the ladder beaming. He said, "The cousin who lost her baby said she would help Springer if she is returned here. She will teach her to hunt better and to stay away from humans. She finds me very amusing. She has never seen a human who sings like a whale although some people have tried. She said they sounded very foolish."

Deciding it was better to stay in place and follow the news from Puget Sound, the three enjoyed the time to heal and play. With Springer's pod nearby, Alex had plenty of cetacean company, but he chose to spend most of the day with his lovers. He had learned to be cautious of whale watchers who had good reason to worry about humans, harassing the Orcas. He still had plenty of playtime with his new friends. Alex was as happy as Walter had ever seen him. A long boat trip was on the agenda as often as possible. Of course, that was after they figured out how to fit a king sized bed in the cabin. Two mattresses side by side were not the best solution for three tall men who wanted to make love and sleep together.

OooOooO

Although they kept at a distance like everyone not directly involved with Springer's release, the three men watched with binoculars as her pod greeted her. Sleek Swimmer; Springer's cousin took control of her immediately. She kept an eye on her younger pod mate and when Springer started to swim towards ships, Sleek Swimmer nudged her away.

Alex gave Walter and Mulder both kisses that left them breathless. His face was shining. His eyes were bright as starlight. His joy poured from him as he watched Springer slowly reacquainting herself with the pod.

When night shielded him, Alex slipped down the ladder at the side of the boat. Walter could hear the subtle sounds as his lover slid through the water. Mulder sighed and said, "I wish I was him. I used to swim for hours to get away from my family. Even more so after Samantha was taken. My father and mother weren't the kind of people you could talk to or even be around much."

Sliding his arm around Mulder's waist, Walter said, "I wish you could too, Mulder." He kissed his lover's forehead and said, "You and Alex are so beautiful in the water. I'm just too heavy boned for grace."

"Your grace is right here," Mulder said, thumping Walter on the hairy chest.

Walter waited a moment, taking a good look at Mulder's expression before deciding he meant what he said. He hugged Mulder with both arms as they both leaned over the rail, trying to see Alex.

About two hours from the time he left, Alex returned with Springer and Sleek Swimmer. The two whales crested out of the waves to have a look at Mulder and Walter. Both executed whistles that Walter hoped meant approval.

Alex said, "Sleek Swimmer wanted to see my mates. Springer said you were both very handsome."

Mulder gave Alex a hand up and said, "So what does Sleek Swimmer think?"

"She thinks you both have big ears and maybe you will grow to fit them," Alex said with a laugh. "She thinks we are all pretty puny, although she is impressed that I can swim so well."

The two whales slapped their tails and disappeared with a final eerie whistle that seemed to say farewell.

Alex came back aboard and said, "She's doing well. Her pod was uneasy because Springer was not remembered from her infancy, but Sleek Swimmer will probably lead the pod someday. They listen to her. Today I helped Springer sing her family tree for them. She didn't remember, but I learned it from an ancient grandmother whale that knew my mother when she was a young whale. I think Springer is home."

"What about you, Alex?" Walter asked.

"I'm home too, as long as I am with you," Alex said. He drew Mulder near once more and said, "You are my pod. All I need."

Looking at Mulder and Walter, Alex sang a song half whale whistled and half Russian. Neither of them needed a translation.

The song was all about love and happy endings.

The end.

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