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A Boy and His Rat

by C.M. Decarnin

Part 11


Mulder's fingertips stroked lazily over Krycek's cheek.

"It's so strange," he mused to himself, tracing again over the tiny stiff stubbles of Krycek's five o'clock shadow with fascination.

"What's strange?"  Krycek mumbled, eyelids fallen closed to slits, hypnotized by the sensuality of Mulder's fingers trailing over and over the same four inches of his face so dreamily.

"You're a guy," Mulder answered, with wonder and bemusement.

Krycek opened his eyes a fraction further to smile faintly up into Mulder's, watching the hazel gaze roam his face.

"You're not even that effeminate," Mulder went on, puzzling over it.

Krycek's eyes narrowed down.

"You're on thin ice, baby-cakes."

Mulder's lips came close, almost onto his skin.  "You run like a girl, Rat."

"That's it.  You are so pinned."


"On your back, under me, immobilized.  As soon as I get up the energy."

Mulder smiled blissfully, indulgent.  His lips started exploring Krycek's stubble with minute nibbles.  They had made ardent love all day, at intervals, cooked food, talked and watched the game on tv, but it was Sunday night and tomorrow morning they would have to clean up and leave, in case the family came back early.

"I just never had any chemistry with a guy before.  I never had negative feelings about it, but there was just nothing there.  Now all of a sudden you're... the sexiest thing in the world to me.  Don't you think that's strange?"  He said it, intrigued, not troubled.

"Once or twice there's been a woman.  Marita Covarrubias."  Krycek's lips thinned.  Even seeing her as he had last seen her, abused, washed out, a test subject -- bitter rage tinctured the thought of her still.  "She had... power."  God he had wanted her to -- do just as she had with him, and by the time he'd gotten back to the ship, and eaten the totality of that betrayal --  But...  "I know what you mean.  Everything suddenly changes.  But stays the same."

"Yeah.  Yeah.  The same feelings.  Only with you..."  Mulder's hand felt along his body.  The fingers stopped over a small bruise on Krycek's ribcage.  After stroking a moment, they pressed slowly in.

Krycek's breath got heavier.  The fingertips penetrated into the soreness and Krycek writhed slowly.  Suddenly he hissed, "Fuck me!" and grabbed onto Mulder, wanting him between his legs.  There were bruises there too but he didn't care as Mulder made no resistance and settled, heavy, onto his winged thighs.

"Let's just rub," Mulder suggested, rocking into him, and it was amazing, because it was exactly what he really wanted, just the weight, ownership; and when Mulder's lips touched his mouth in the longest, tenderest, fullest and sweetest kiss he had ever known, he felt himself loved, treasured, overwhelmed with honey-soaked bliss.  The hard ache of Mulder's grinding into his organs bloomed richly into pain-bottomed pleasure, like a creamy sugar flavor with lemon tang at its heart.  The very thought of suffering for Mulder's pleasure brought him to long, hot, quivering orgasm, stretched under Mulder's hot, burning hands.  He came, and came, and it didn't stop, just seemed to attenuate out into the rest of life, so that prolonged joy became a part of what he was, a part of what he lived in.  Mulder's hard breathing upon him showed that he had come too, the heavy, heated weight of him making Krycek feel like a virgin sacrifice on the altar of some god made flesh.  The panting body and pounding heart permeated him with their complex beat till he almost forgot to breathe himself, Mulder's sweaty heaviness depressing his diaphragm.  Mulder's breath heated and reheated the skin on the inside of his cut-off arm.  Sacrifices had to be pure, and perfect. Remembrance mingled with a lonely pain.  The long weeks of washing, massaging and wrapping the stump to shape it for the prosthesis, the despairing time when he could only make the fake limb flail clumsily.  They had thought he might find hooks more useful, but he couldn't bear the idea, of having people see how different he was, the thing he'd hidden all his life.  And in his line of work, to be noticeable was a handicap greater than any mutilation.  He had learned to use the thing, learned to use its significance, to frighten, or create unease.  Though he grieved his loss every day, he was the same person he had been; but others didn't see him as the same, even the hardbitten men of the Consortium had looked at him with complexities and evasions in their eyes that hadn't showed when he was whole.

Mulder moved, and kissed his mouth again.  Feeling the catching, shallow breath against his lips, he shifted carefully and laid himself out on the bed along Alex's left side.  Krycek drew in a draught of much-needed air. "God, Mulder.  You're a sex machine."

Mulder smiled, undisturbed.  "Just makin' up for lost time."

"Every time I want you, you're right there."

"And this amazes you."

"I couldn't do that."  Mulder laughed, falling on his back.  Krycek looked at him, mystified.  Then, "Oh.  Well.  You turn me on more often than anyone ever has.  You make me insatiable."

"Takes a licking and keeps on ticking," Mulder commented.  Krycek flushed, and tried to frown, but his lips turned upward.  Mulder stroked the wavering mouth with his fingertips.  "I think... just the fact that you want me turns me on.  After all the times I beat the crap out of you, that's -- so hot. You have no idea."  Mulder looked a bit less contented.  "I guess it's part of this whole sadistic thing."

"You know...  What you said before...  I don't think it's much to do with the abduction, and your Dad and all that."


"People I've talked to... they remember feeling like that from a lot earlier.  Five, six years old."  Mulder just looked back at him, as if waiting for more.  "I mean I know you're a psychologist..."

"I have a degree in psychology.  I never did any clinical practice.  And I never made any study of sadomasochism."  He paused.  "Which, when you think about it, is pretty strange."

"It is?"

"I was heading into forensics and criminal pathology.  You'd think it would be in there somewhere."

"You're not a criminal, baby."  He looked into Mulder's eyes so earnestly that Mulder smiled.

"I could be arrested for my thoughts," he avowed, in a Brooklyn accent. When Krycek lowered his eyes, he prodded, "You're always so serious."

Alex looked back up into Mulder's eyes a moment.  "I'm Russian," he explained, finally.

Mulder answered only with small kisses.  But then took up the thread he had been pursuing when Alex led him astray.  "I just don't feel gay."

Alex had gone very still, looking at him with his brilliant, intent eyes, and Mulder could *feel* the struggle, bone-hard, bone-deep, of impulses deadlocked in the muscle, mind, mouth, as clear as the flights of compassion and despair, love and hostility through the sky-deep wells of his eyes.

"I said something bad, didn't I."

He didn't think Krycek was going to answer, for a moment, his silence was so enveloping.  When he spoke it was in a voice that came from the very center of him.  "What do you think being gay feels like?"

Things turned over, and unfolded, within Mulder.  Profoundly.

Looking out, from what he was, he knew Alex was only the same.  A human consciousness.  Though he had had different experiences, though he might on some level be even quite insane, under that was only a self, like everyone else's, looking out.

And everyone was like that.

However they might act out, however Mulder himself might learn and grow -- and god knew there was a subculture there to investigate -- nothing would change, in essence.

"There is no such thing," he said with certainty, wanting Alex to know he had got it.  And because he was still Fox Mulder, had to add, "Ain't nobody here but just us chickens."

And because Krycek was Krycek, he factored instantly what Fox felt and meant, and the turmoil inside him began to settle visibly.  His gaze cleared gradually of doubt and anger, leaving fascination, which was almost as discomfitting.

But he said nothing else, and they just lay looking at each other.  Krycek looked as well-used as Mulder felt, with little crescent love bites and dark suck-marks on his neck and shoulders and here and there lower on his body; lips a little swollen, eyes lazily bright, complexion heightened with extra color touching his cheeks.  He had protested gently at each nip and hickey -- "Come on, don't mark me." -- "You really shouldn't leave marks." -- "They could match that to your dental records you know." -- and finally just a little whine of "Baby..." but he had not tried to physically stop Mulder and Mulder liked overruling him.  Each time he objected Mulder bit harder, until Krycek just whimpered his submission.

He hadn't felt like this in...  he didn't know if he had ever felt like this.



Lying on his side like an old lion of the Serengeti surveying his lionesses and his world.

Krycek made a move to get up out of bed.

Mulder put a paw on his belly and growled softly deep in his throat.

He didn't think he had ever seen Krycek look quite so startled and frozen. Before he relaxed and said, "You'd better let me up unless you're interested in getting into watersports."  Mulder growled more shortly and removed his paw.  He watched Krycek's back and butt and shoulders and legs mosey away in the dusky light, a symphony of mobile beauty, caressing his vision.  After tonight, how long would it be before he saw that sight again...

Krycek dropped him a couple of blocks from where he'd left his car.

He went home and fed his goldfish.  He watched them swish and slash the water after the flakes of food, hang motionless again, then spurt an inch with a single shrug of the tail, drift in a turn, snake their way back across the tank.  It was supposed to relieve stress, to watch them. Probably because they looked so relaxed, with slack-jawed dumb expressions, hypnotized by the water they lived in.

What had it been like for Alex, being gay...  In Russia.  In Chicago. Layers of secrets.  So many kinds of lies it was a miracle how well he recognized the truth.  He must have seen whole other sides to men, having sex with them.  Mulder sure wouldn't have ever expected Krycek to be so yielding.  Although, all the times he had pounded on the boy, Krycek had never hit him back.  Krycek who certainly knew how to kill with a blow. Maybe that was why he didn't hit at all, afraid of obliterating a man he... cared for.  Connecting up with everything else, it gave Mulder a peculiar feeling deep in his belly.

How could he understand Krycek if he didn't understand what it meant to be gay?  If he made himself an exception -- not gay, just happening by chance to be fucking another man?  Well, true, he liked women, but what kind of half-assed cop-out was that?  He should... do things.  Read up.  Go to... gay places.  Gay bars?  It was all he could think of.  But wasn't the point of going to a gay bar the... cruising?  He wouldn't be looking for sex. Where else was there to go?  Especially to learn about Krycek's world. Except as a cover, he couldn't envision Alex hanging out in earnest political groups.

But thousands of men must go to gay bars and then go home alone, night after night.  Mulder turned from side to side, looking in the mirror optimistically.  What were the odds that someone who looked like him would get hit on the first time they walked into a bar?

His palms were sweating.

It had seemed like a good idea.  A way to keep himself from missing Alex so much, steeping himself in the culture Alex moved in.  It would almost be like having him there, everything would... evoke him.

He'd gotten out the phone book without much success, and then remembered those freebie gay newspapers around town.  It had been hard to look casual walking over and picking one up in front of a cafe and walking back to his car.

Reading it, he had blushed.

Only partly because it was shocking and alien.  Partly... because it was hotly familiar.  Blushing, he turned pages to get away from the personals. There were ads crowding the stories of reigning queens and charity events, more gay businesses than he would have dreamed existed, all of them, it seemed at first, in the business of sex.  Everything from penis-shaped birthday cakes to body-piercing specialists willing to lend their expertise to your next S/M scene.  There was a drawing of a man in jeans and a leather jacket that looked like Alex -- except Alex would never sport so excessively silly a leather cap.  And Krycek never posed.  Never strove for any macho stances.

He really did run like a girl.

Running away -- or already gone -- was one way you often encountered Alex Krycek.

If you were fortunate.

Mulder wouldn't have believed he could be so petrified.

He tried to pretend he was undercover, infiltrating.

He had never felt so exposed.

Finally he had to just make himself walk in.

He'd spent the evening buying gay books, and going to a European gay movie where the guy died at the end.  He'd had a late dinner at one of the restaurants that advertised in the gay paper.  There were so many gay bars listed he didn't know where to start.  In the end he just picked the one with the picture that looked like Alex.

It was called "Steel".

He hadn't known how to dress.  He'd thought about putting on his glasses but they were for reading, and he really wanted to be able to see, since that was what he was going to a gay bar for.  In a burst of inspiration, he'd decided to model himself on Langly, hauling out his sole flannel shirt to go over corduroy trousers he'd had since Oxford and the Red Dwarf t-shirt Frohike had given him for Christmas in 1994.  Whatever the latest gay fashion trend was, he felt confident this wouldn't be it.  He would be a wallflower of the first magnitude.

Now he wondered, too late, if it might not have been better to try to blend.

Was it stupid to feel underdressed in a room teeming with men in tight jeans and tight t-shirts?

Luckily it was dark.  He let himself be pushed into a backwater by the people eddying in and out, while his vision adjusted.

At least the door guy had been friendly, very welcoming, smiling warmly, saying, "Good to see you here tonight."  Meeting his eyes.  "I haven't seen you here before."  "No," Mulder had said, "it's my first time."  A group of happy men had flooded in and carried him away.

My god, they were all men.  A world without women.  It hadn't occurred to him.

If you took sex out of the equation, did men just have no use for women?

He wondered what Scully would say about this place.  Maybe she would like the idea of a place where she could flirt without consequences, and very little likelihood of either serial killers or vampires taking a shine to her.

A man brushed past him, turned back, smiled warmly and said, "Hi." and "Sorry," gesturing slightly.  Mulder smiled at the t-shirt he wore, with the word "Clone" on it.  Then wondered if it had some special meaning here.  He had made a lucky choice of bars, apparently, everyone seemed really friendly.

"No problem," he nodded, and scanned the crowd again.

Men everywhere he turned his eyes.

None of them looked a lot like the man in the drawing.

But all of them looked quite a lot like each other.

His upper lip began to feel naked.

What would Alex do in a place like this?  Sprawl happily at one of the tables with a crowd of friends?  Mill through the cacophony of music and voices, recognizing almost everyone he met?  There even seemed to be a few people dancing on the other side of the long lozenge of bar.  He let his eyes sweep along and saw Alex Krycek standing by the bar, his hand squeezing another man's left butt cheek.

The floor rocked under his feet.

He saw Alex smile, with eyes narrow and sexy.

Alex laughed at something the man said and turned his back to the bar, leaning an elbow -- the fake one -- on it, his loins angled toward the man subtly.  His black jeans were tighter than any Mulder had ever seen him wear, and his leather jacket hung wide open.

He had on a black t-shirt that said in bold white letters, "RIDE HARD OR STAY HOME".

The man put his hand on Alex's waist.

Mulder felt as if his eyes were filling with blood.

At that moment Alex swept a glance through the room; then back along it with a longer focus.  His eyes met Mulder's like a stunning blow -- and moved on, and back to the man he was with.  He leaned in close to him and said something in his ear.  Then he stepped away and pressed a slow path through bodies to the far right wall, and into a restroom door.

Mulder went after him like a bullet.

The door slammed back under his hand and he rounded the inner wall and saw Krycek standing there, his eyes black in the dark light.  Krycek immediately said in an amazed whisper, "What are you doing here?"

A rage like nothing he had ever known had possessed Mulder's body, without knowing he was doing it he flung Krycek against the wall, a forearm threatening his throat.  He didn't recognize his own voice keening, "What the fuck are you doing here?"

He watched Alex's eyes realize his jealousy, and realized he was sick with it.  The faintest, quickest shadow of wonder and delight he saw, before Alex's eyes decided gentleness, kindness, was vital, and Krycek's voice as soft as thistledown cradled him:  he answered, "I'm working."

It took eternity for the meaning to permeate Mulder with its intended balm. A gush of passion pushed him to take possession and the taste of Krycek's mouth as he owned and invaded it was sweet as sex, a welcome and remembrance and promise, all, in one beloved flavor.

He gripped Alex's face in both hands and assaulted him, trying to get inside the man through the whole front of his body, trying to become one by force with that hot shy mouth.  Alex's one hand pushed back against his pressure.

"Don't mark me, baby," the lips said under his.  "Don't come on me, he'll smell you."  When the false hand, without strength behind it, joined the other against his chest, Mulder wrenched back angrily.  He stood smouldering, wanting Krycek to want him.

"You come when I call you," he burst out resentfully.  He raked his eyes down over Krycek's tight outfit with more jealousy than he had ever known himself capable of.  He backed away and turned for the door.  He said over his shoulder, "I'll tell you when."

All day he had felt like an outsider, watching people who looked like they belonged, understood their place and their surroundings, and got along just fine without him.  Now the first thing he found when he tried to enter that world was his lover making out with another man.  He sat in his car hard and jealous, ashamed, aching.  He had known this about Krycek from the beginning, why was it so impossible to accept, to believe, when he saw it with his own eyes?  His whole being so converted to one ball of betrayal, fury...

Krycek had never looked at him with quite that sexy, luring look.

Never posed with that lurid angle of the loins toward him.

Because everything Krycek did with him was real.

Or was it just a deeper layer of deception?  Perfectly calibrated to his own personality, his own irrefutable needs.  Desperation, submission; to appeal to his knight-errantry, at the same time it drew to the surface the sadism he had never -- well, hardly ever -- had an inkling of before.  Seriousness, because he needed...

Commitment.  Utter and complete.  Astonished whenever he found it missing in any part of his life, in Skinner, in Scully, Diana...  Always thrown for a loop when others didn't believe as passionately or singlemindedly as he did, wouldn't ride hell bent for leather in his wake.

To places Krycek had already been, long since.  The only one who knew more, dared more, than he ever had, accepted levels of danger and necessity he was not sure he ever could.  Lived in it.

...Killed for it...

Too close, too close to the Cigaret Smoking Man's philosophy of murder as a noble sacrifice.  Would Krycek come to that in the end?

Was he going to kill that man in there?

Had Mulder just witnessed how Krycek opened in exotic, deadly bloom, mimicking a mate, to draw some laden worker-bug to its death?

He shivered.

Krycek didn't kill for no reason.  He hadn't killed Skinner to get the DAT tape.  He was far too practical to kill where theft or seduction would do. Those people in the nursing home... he was actually ordering the death of the Purity inside them, and that, at least, Mulder could see as an absolute necessity.  The Russians would never have allowed him to expose their vaccine, and the Black Oil had to be stopped.  Mulder had seen with his own eyes the insanely uncontrolled environment Carne-Sayre's nursing home represented, it was a miracle the nurses and visitors hadn't been infected. Was it possible she had discovered some means to restrict the Purity to one body?  If so, they would never know now.  Always a problem with Final Solutions.  You lost things you didn't even know you needed, until it was too late.  If you were on the right side, you found another way.

He had a sudden vision of his government's burial pits, aliens in boxcars and lepers in mass graves.  There was no right side.  Krycek had never claimed to flock with angels, he followed the power and knowledge, sometimes a scavenger, sometimes the predator.  Sometimes prey.  Maybe it was a natural balance, that humans always had their Cigaret Smoking Men, their shadow governments.  Maybe even their Mulders, who couldn't accept the inevitable order.  Maybe he was just an evolutionary dead end, in the juggernaut of social development.

He sighed, his forehead against the steering wheel.  The only thing he knew for sure, that Krycek had looked mindblowingly hot got up in those tight, sexy, black hookin' duds in there.

Back at his apartment, Mulder thought for hours, slept, made phone calls from an outside phone.  He went to a botanical art gallery.  And another, very different, kind of gallery.  One that advertised the work of a very particular artist, in that same bountiful gay newspaper.

He chose a place.

A time.

He told Krycek to be there.

He was in the back room going over the final details when he heard a noise. The place only had three rooms and the entrance foyer, all of them left empty.  He'd needed a place where they'd be undisturbed and would disturb no one.  It was that.  It could only be Krycek, with his antipathy for doorbells; no one else could have found this place.  Mulder quickly walked into the middle room, pulling the door shut behind him.

He swerved past the chair in the exact center of the room.

As he stepped into the front room, he looked toward the archway of the foyer.

And stopped in his tracks.


Krycek leaned, shoulder on one jamb, hand propped high against the other, feet somewhere past the middle.  Prosthetic not on.  Alex.

Jesus God.

Coated, in flowing, supple, skintight black leather hugging down his body from collarbones over flank and loin and long rich thigh, black down to the booted ankles.

Very short sleeves laced tight.

One black driving glove.

Eyes like dark flame.  Voice too quiet.


Challenge running through the eyes like black lightnings.

"Do we have some trust issues to deal with?"

Someone had KrazyGlued Mulder's throat shut.

Krycek peeled slowly off the door.  Moseying toward the stock still struck Mulder adding, "I don't think you ever got to see me in my best party dress before."  And softly, "Look your fill baby."  He stopped with a hip-cocked quarter turn, another, and another, letting Mulder see all of him.  Waiting, till Mulder's dumb, crash-victim eyes found a moderately difficult route back up to his face.

He smelled like leather.

Without moving he had somehow come so close Mulder could smell the warm, thin slick of leather over Krycek's aromatically heated skin.

He found his hands were on the leather waist.  Warmth from the flesh beneath hot at his palms.  Krycek's mouth opened, his eyes closed, he turned his head aside, breath catching.

Mulder's body-heat surged.

Krycek looked at him helplessly.  "Mulder."

Mulder moved his hands further down, thumbs brushing inward.

"I can't let you top me in these clothes."

Mulder let his body language murmur, "Tough."  His mouth said, "Why not?"

"Because -- I'll always remember.  Whenever I put them on."

Mulder's thumbs brushed the tightest part of the leather pants.  Krycek bent an inch.

"Why did you wear them then?"

Krycek's mouth opened and shut.  "I wanted to show you."  His lowered eyelashes raised.  "Everything."

His eyes were passionate with sacrifice.  Mulder brought his hands up to cup Krycek's jawline, the faintest of smiles playing over his lips.  His eyes thanked Krycek, and he kissed him.  "You'll deal with it," he murmurred into the hot, soft mouth.

Alex made a "Mmng" sound and glued to him from mouth to knee.  They swayed together; Mulder's arms slid over leather, around him, like vises.

He made himself pull away.

He took Alex by the hand and pulled him into the middle room.

And felt the first balk.

The straight chair stood alone in the center of the room.  Under it coils of the thin rope he had found, made of twisted plies of red and black.

He tugged and Krycek stripped gears behind him, each step a full stop.

He pushed him slowly down into the chair.  Their eyes met.  Both of them hearing his words:  "If you need me in bondage..."  Mulder kept his stare steady, and saw Krycek's panic find nowhere to hide, his only refuge, finally, Mulder's will.  The blue-grey eyes held on him, with fearful faith.

Mulder knelt down.  He had judged the size of the chair well; the seat was long enough, Krycek's thighs were level, his feet met the floor squarely, in their clompy testosterone-boots.  The back was tall, the last splat high enough for Krycek to rest his head against.

He made the first knots around the ankles.  From there he could use simple loops, alternating up the leather-covered shins, because he wanted to keep the rope all in one piece; when he got to the knees, he passed the coil around Krycek's left, under the seat of the chair, and brought it up over his thighs from the right and under the loose-lying rope on his lap, pulling it tight; repeating the same cinching loop four inches higher up the thighs; and continued the trussing firmly upward, at the hips switching to looping the coil around the back of the chair instead of under the seat, capturing Krycek's arm tightly to his body.  "I saw this on Julia Child," he commented absorbedly, cinching another loop tight over Krycek's abdomen.  He heard an anxious wheeze that might have been a laugh, but none of the tense muscles under his hands eased.

The red plies in the rope licked the black leather like snakes' tongues.

He finished across the level of the bulk of the biceps, the last cinch-knot over the breastbone.  He tied it off.  There was rope left to run a delicious noose around Krycek's throat just under the chin, knot it to the tall chair-back, and let the end dangle down to the floor.  The stump arm, in its little shoulder-cap of black leather, was free; it was too short to effectively capture, and besides...


Mulder surveyed his work.  His knees wanted to buckle at the sight, and he realized that, definitely, this art, wasted on Krycek, was all for a bottom's benefit.  There was no way he could get at Alex, laced into his casing leather and lashed all over to the chair like this.  Luscious as he looked, he was a present that could not be used at all unless it was unwrapped.

But he had not tied him up for erotic reasons.

He raised his voice.

"We can get started."

He saw Krycek's eyes widen and his lips part, even before the door to the third room opened.

The man who came out was compact, dark-eyed, with a U of week-old beard around his face.  In loose jeans and t-shirt, he exuded an air of competent attention.  His look went immediately to Krycek's short left arm.

Krycek was instantly breathing through his mouth.  He whipped his face back to Mulder.  The need to believe in him fighting betrayal and fear in his eyes.

"Don't worry, Rat.  Nobody's going to hurt you."

He saw Krycek notice his avoidance of using his name, and the slight reassurance he took from that.

"Much," he added.

The reassurance collapsed smaller.

He could see Krycek torn between all the things he wanted to say and would normally have just spat out with his characteristic frankness, and the need to keep desperately within whatever tattered perimeters of cover Mulder might have left him.

So good.

Not a word made it past the censor at Krycek's lips as the stranger came over, unlaced the short sleeve and peeled it back, and took the stump in careful, firm hands to examine it, lifting it to scrutinize the underside. Krycek's face whitened.

The main reason for the bondage, really, was to keep this small man alive long enough to do his work.  Watching Krycek's eyes turn to the stranger, Mulder could see the necessity had not been exaggerated.

Alex didn't make a sound.  His lips had gone milky lavender.

"It should be fine," the man pronounced.  "It's perfectly healed, and there's not even any scar tissue up in this area."  His fingers touched across the stump.

Mulder nodded, and the man went back into the third room.  Mulder had just time to answer Krycek's fiery look with a faint, cool smile, before he returned, carrying a small table set out with a bowl of warm water, towels, old-fashioned shaving soap and brush and a long steely-blue straight razor, onto which Krycek's eyes fastened immovably.

He was fast and skillful.  Mulder leaned down to Krycek's ear and murmurred, "Make you all nice and smooth," as the scant hair came off the stump.  He even shaved down the armpit as far as it was exposed, right to the edge of leather, without leaving a nick or cut anywhere.  Krycek had held very still, but a fine cold sheen had appeared over his upper lip.  While the arm remnant was wiped and rinsed and dried, Krycek's breathing evened and slowed, and Mulder realized with a smile that he'd taken the man for a barber and thought he was all done, that he'd had no more to fear than a slip of the terrifying razor on that arm that had suffered so much from blades.  Now he probably thought Mulder just wanted to do something really perverted with it.

Yeah, well.

Mulder couldn't contain his smile, and Krycek's eyes looked deep into his, not finding reassurance.

Mulder indicated the stranger with his eyes, and said, "This is Eddie. You're going to be getting to know each other very well over the next several hours."

He saw the world fall out from under Krycek.  The cold eyes filled with pathetic desperation.  But Alex had resources.  In a voice that breathed the spirit of death, he came back, "Aren't you going to introduce me, then?"

"Oh..." Mulder let his eyes roam down the leather and the red bonds.  "I think Eddie knows all he needs to know about you, angel."

Krycek's lips met in an exasperated sound at the outrageous unfairness; and "Pawts!" forced itself out under his breath.  Russian.  Krycek must be even more stressed than he looked.  Mulder smiled wider.  Eddie had carried all his paraphernalia away, and now returned with another tray full of stuff. Krycek looked, and reared back in his chair.


Immovable stone in his voice.

Eddie had brought in a stool for himself and a heavy extension cord that he was plugging into the wall.

"Mulder," Krycek said low and firm, "you can't mark me."

Mulder looked into his eyes.  "So you keep saying."

Eddie came back, stepped on a foot pedal, and the tool in his hand leaped into loud life for a second.  Krycek jerked and froze, stared at it with his mouth slightly open like a distressed animal.

His eyes shot back to Mulder.  "You can't do this."  Serious.

Eddie set down the tattoo gun, picked up a spray bottle and spritzed the smoothed skin.  Krycek's nostrils flared and a second later Mulder smelled the strong citrus flavor of the greensoap.

"I mean it, Mulder!"

Mulder raised an eyebrow.

Krycek jerked his stump out of Eddie's hands and the blue paper shop-towel he was wiping it with.  His look skewered the man.  His teeth showed as he snarled, "Touch me again and you'll live just long enough to regret it."

Eddie looked to Mulder.

"Give us a minute."

Eddie nodded with the unconcern of someone who'd seen it all and drawn it all.  The door was barely shut behind him when Krycek burst out, "I can't be marked, Mulder.  Don't you understand?  It's identification."

Mulder moved directly in front of him.  "It'll be under your sleeve."

"I don't wear sleeves when -- on a lot of jobs."

"It'll turn them on."


"It would me."

"No, Mulder."

"I want my mark on you."

"Anything else you want, Mulder.  Just not this."

"But this is what I want, Alex."  And knew his voice betrayed how unswayed he was from his intention.  In Krycek's eyes, he saw the faith break.  But saw him struggle to keep it, to reason with his lover one more time.

"Anyone who looks at me will be able to say, 'I'm not sure about the face, but I remember the tattoo.'"

"You mean when they put you in the line-up with four or five other one-armed hustler/assassins."

And Krycek was silent; Mulder could see the pain and the realism change the lines on his face, in turn.  He must have thought before, hard, about how his anonymity had been mutilated in Tunguska.

Mulder straddled the chair deliberately, taking Krycek's face in his hands. "Rat," he murmurred.  Saw panic.

He lowered himself slowly onto Krycek's lap.

"Let me," he coaxed, and took Krycek's mouth, in a slow, insertional kiss.

He felt the body undulate helplessly into him, held by the rope to only subtle motion.  He moaned at the soulful taste of Krycek's tongue, and heard the breath through Alex's nose become harsher.  Scooching forward, he touched his groin to Krycek's.  Krycek started struggling, to get near to him.  "Let me, Alex."  He gasped, rubbing over the ridges of rope.  "I need to know there's something, really there."  He detached, and drank in the dazed, disoriented look in the dark-pupilled eyes.  His voice took on a drugged, hypnotic sound.  "I need it."  He dragged his lips over Krycek's. "I need you to let me."  His hands were trying to get through the barrier of bondage, unsuccessfully.  "Love-Rat.  You haven't got a third finger, left hand, I want --  I want to know when those other men touch you they're not really touching you."  He was nuzzling rhythmically in Krycek's neck.  "Let me.  Accept me on your body."  Krycek's head turned anxiously toward him. "So I know..."  He couldn't finish, couldn't say it; how deeply a part of him still didn't believe.  Needed.  For Krycek to totally give way to him; in something other than the sex that was, by his own admission, the traitor's stock in trade.  He pulled back enough to look into Krycek's eyes. He could see the sting from his distrust.

"Tell me they mean nothing to you!" he demanded passionately.

"No."  The voice shook through him.  "They do mean something.  They mean I'm good at what I do, what I am.  It may not seem like much to you, but it means I took what was done to me and I made it into something.  I turned even that against them.  I'm nobody's toy any more."

Not even yours.

The words hung between them unspoken.

For the first time it occurred to Mulder that he might not be the only one with a right to wonder about sincerity.

He leaned in with a sigh, and kissed the rope around Krycek's throat.  He whispered, "I'm too old to play with toys, Alex."

He twisted his head slightly.  "Look."  He pointed to the tray, where a short collar of translucent paper was balanced.  There was a purple outline like old-time ditto ink.  "That's half of it.  It's going to go all the way around your arm.  This is foxglove."  He showed him buried in the garland design the heavily stylized thick phallus of flowers; then the twined stems and drooped heads of foxtail grass, the narrow unopened cone of foxtail pine flanked by its single-winged seeds.  "No one will know what they are." Taken as a whole, the circlet looked Celtic in its interwoven complexity. "Only you."

Krycek looked back to him, and he saw he had awakened a small light of secrecy in his eyes.  He felt his lips curve a little in a smile, and he saw Krycek's lips part in response.  A breath like laughter came through the sharp teeth.

"You made this for me."


"You want it on me."

He felt his breath getting away from him.  "Yeah."

Krycek leaned his forehead against him.

"It just --  It goes against everything I've ever..."  There was a silence, and then, against the side of Mulder's mouth, soft lips.

A kiss of submission.

His head dropped down onto Mulder's shoulder.

Mulder wrapped his arms around him, chair and all.  After a while he stroked his hair, and the back of his neck, with all the gentleness he knew.  Krycek shivered and drew breath.  Kissing him on the temple, on the cheek, on the mouth, Mulder slowly got up off him, and went to get the executioner of his design.

They brought back another table and chair.  Mulder set his seat so close beside Krycek's, facing the opposite way, that he could lean in to murmur in his ear, or watch the work.  He put a couple of Advils on Krycek's tongue and gave him a sip of water.

The table was a padded swing arm, a little like the stand that swings a table over a hospital bed.  Eddie adjusted it so the naked stump rested firmly, prepared a strip of skin with Vaseline and picked up half the design.  "Hold very still."  He laid the paper around the visible half of the arm, taking great care, and delicately pressed over it to be sure the lines all touched the skin.  When he lifted it off, the design had been transferred onto Krycek's stump.

He picked up his implement, a cylindrical metal sheath with mysterious cutouts along its length, and it sprang to life.  From the tip protruded the tiny clutch of needles.  He dipped them into a minute plastic cup with a bit of black ink in the bottom; they seemed to suck the liquid like a proboscis.

"I'll start with just a few seconds so you can see what it feels like.  Keep nice and still."  He sounded, more than anything, like an X-ray technician, breezily menacing.

When the needles touched skin, Mulder watched Krycek's eyes:  they turned to his.  Mulder experienced an icy, exciting spike of surprise, that melted through him in trickles of freezing joy.  Krycek had not even looked at the needles kissing his skin, had looked only to him.

The gun stopped.  He felt Eddie shift a look between them, and without a word start up the tattoo gun again.

Krycek's brilliant eyes took on depths, and Mulder sank into them.

It might have been eternities later when the sound of the gun stopped.  He remembered speaking, words uttered of comfort and erotic courage.  He was zoned.

The ink glistened in a black garland on Krycek's arm.

The wide column of overlapped long bells guarded the center like a gateway of poison and lust.  Digitalis purpurea; uplifted mouths wide.  Almost dripping.  He hadn't dared dream it would look this good.  He wanted to lick it, but knew it was out of the question.  For now.

Eddie was doing something, putting something like a little ramrod up the length of the gun.  "That was three needles," he said to Mulder.  "This is a shading bar, with seventeen.  He'll feel it more."

A rush went through him.  Eddie now spoke to him only, as to the owner of the event.  Ignoring Krycek.

He looked and saw Krycek hear it too.  A glimmer of a smile under the dark features.  Almost proud, under the foreboding.

He looked at his watch.  It had been half an hour.  It would take longer to do the color, and there was still the underside of the arm to do.  He had considered only doing the black outline, or only a bit of additional white, but decided some color would make more memorable art, as well as more of an ordeal.  He wanted it to live in Krycek's mind, not only on his body.  The night he put his mark on him.

The gun started and instantly pulled away as Krycek turned with an "Ow!" and a look of outrage on Eddie.

Mulder's palm turned Alex's face back to him.


"That fucking hurts," Krycek protested.  His whole body had strained and tensed against his bonds resentfully, away from the tattoo gun.

Before he could say another word, Mulder sealed lips over his mouth and entered, demanding his tongue peremptorily.  Krycek let it be carried, stiff and frightened, into Mulder's mouth.  Mulder sucked it, gently, down to the tip, and let it go.

When Krycek could look at him, Mulder asked, "Are you mine?"

Krycek lowered his eyes, and barely nodded.

"Think of it as taking your skin's virginity."  Color touched Alex's cheekbones.  "A long... slow... painful fuck...  Then it's going to ache for days, you're not going to know if you ever want to see me again.  I hurt you so."  Krycek's breath came hard and uneven through his mouth, and Mulder knew he was responding to the hurtful lust in his voice, need from his gonads.  He could feel the path of the words from balls to mouth, bypassing any braincell.

He put his hand on Krycek's cock where it lay under the rope and leather, and Krycek squirmed and gasped.  He took his hand away and Krycek's eyes opened pleadingly.

"Be good," he said; and nodded.  The gun started again and took to Krycek's skin, painting with pain.  Ivory colored the bells and lips of the flowers; palest peach touched in their throats.  Eddie's thumb and fingers carefully stretched the skin this way and that under the gun, and the color filled, brilliant and shining.

The foxtail heads filled with yellow and tan, echoed in the pine seeds' wings.  The upright cones purple and bronze, each scale distinct and glorious.

Fascinated, he leaned at last in to Krycek.  "What does it feel like?" he whispered.

Between set teeth Krycek managed, "Like he's tearing my fucking skin off.  A millimeter at a time."

"Like my cock going in," Mulder whispered.

"Worse," and Mulder knew it was hurting too much to be erotic for him.  He kissed his other arm consolingly, and stroked down into the inside of Krycek's thigh with his fingers.

"How much longer?" he asked Eddie.

"This side, another ten minutes," Eddie answered, embroidering steadily. Krycek made a little sound, whether of relief or despair Mulder couldn't tell.  "The underside will take longer, it'll be an awkward position. Unless you want to untie him."

Mulder observed Krycek consideringly.  "No," he said finally.  "No, I think we'll just leave him where he is."

Eddie dabbed at the skin.  The swab came away bloodied.  "He's sweating a lot, in that leather."

He looked at Krycek's bent head, and it came over him suddenly that Krycek's comfort or pain, even his life or death, was completely in his hands. Whatever he might need, only Mulder could bring to him; whatever accident might befall, only Mulder could preserve him.  He could see Krycek's cheek was damp.  He hadn't noticed, in his fascination with the magical progress of the coloring.  He looked at his watch.  Krycek had been tied up over an hour and a half.  It hadn't occurred to Mulder to call a time-out.

He realized he had no idea how long a person could be in complete bondage. He hadn't tied any of the knots tight enough to cut off circulation.  He was sure he hadn't.  He'd known Krycek was going to be there for a while.

He looked at Eddie, but Eddie wasn't saying anything else.

He got up and went out to the kitchen alcove.  He'd stocked the fridge because he'd known that he too was going to be here for a while.  He filled a plastic cup with ice and poured Pepsi over it.  He should have brought straws...  He wet down the dishtowel and wrung it out.

Krycek took a long drink of the Pepsi while Mulder held it carefully at the correct angle.  Then he set it under the chair and wiped Krycek's face and neck with the damp towel.  Closed eyes and open mouth and a sigh of gratitude showed the relief it brought.  The mouth quickly twisted shut again against the pain of the tattooing.  Only a few more minutes...

Not that the pain would completely stop.  Eddie had told him it would hurt for at least a couple of days, and then it would start to itch and could not be scratched.  It would scab and peel.  He wouldn't be able to wear the prosthetic till all of it healed.  Maybe he should have talked that over with Krycek.  All he had thought about was what he wanted; what he wanted Krycek to prove to him in an ineradicable surrender.

If he craved to put Krycek down, beneath him, he knew what Krycek craved. He stroked the short hair with soft encouragement.  "Just a little longer." He wasn't good at nurture.  It meant opening yourself.  He resented too much, had been slammed too much.  And Krycek was the epitome of that conflict.

Krycek looked up with love, unguarded, in his eyes.

The effect on Mulder's body didn't seem to travel through his thought at all.  He felt a swell, a warmth, an increase, he filled much more space in his universe, but not enough of it was breath.  Krycek was his.  He knew it, as he had known few other things in his life.  He also knew one other thing.

He wanted him.

Here.  Now.  On the floor.  Fuck bondage!  What idiot thought up this stuff!

Saw Krycek's volatile tinder ignite from him.

"Couple more minutes," he whispered but agonies, ages, dragged out endurance before Eddie put down the tattoo gun.  He spray-cleaned the design, and stretched.

"I'm going out for a smoke," he said through inheld breath and then released it all with a "Whew!"

"Take your time," Mulder responded insidiously.  "I think we could all use a good long break."  And before he even heard the outside door open and close he was pushing paraphernalia out of the way, and got behind Krycek's chair, tilted it back toward him, and lowered it to the floor.  He came around to look at him lying there, stepped across and stood astraddle his helpless torso, unzipped, got out his cock, and sank, onto his knees.  An arch of his hips brought his cock's end into Krycek's open mouth and instantly whipped him forward onto his forearms, at the sensation, for Krycek's welcome was so ecstatic it felt like he'd been jumped by a flock of joyous Pekinese, so many lips and tongues seemed to be wetting him everywhere in frantic little licks and kisses.  He pushed into the wet-soft-warm with a groan of unbelieving agony.  The sounds Krycek made around him made him want to sink, deep, deep, into more warm wet ecstasy, but he remembered Krycek was helpless, dependent.  He held himself to his first few inches, despite a strenuous suck that was trying to get more of him, and made Krycek do with the short quick thrusts he allowed, into the undulant flesh surging, wrapping, pushing and gently lashing his exquisite hardness.  When he drew back, the tongue fluttered like a butterfly all over his cock's end, when he pushed in it pressed him against the roof of Krycek's paradisiacal mouth, as he stroked out rubbed up and down on erogenous stripes he didn't know he had, and when he very quickly began to pant and thrust faster it just held on for dear life, letting him plunge into the wet cave soft as seaweed and silk-floss, firm as love's long embrace.  He realized he was crying out achingly, and then felt his lower body buck and jerk and come, seizure-like, with hard, sharp tremors, and electrical ejaculation.

After a time of weightless flight, still on his knees and forearms, he pulled out abruptly; deathly weak, he squirmed backward, half-collapsed, and panted, "Oh Jesus.  Oh Jesus," against Krycek's cheek.  Krycek's mouth and chin were all over cum.  Mulder gently pushed his tongue where his cock had just been, and Krycek's kiss was sweet as Shangri-la.  He wanted nothing more than to fall asleep with his tongue in Krycek's mouth.

It came to him that they had almost no time.  Also his hips might split with this awkward straddling of Krycek plus chair.  He scrambled himself around. He would get Krycek unzipped and his cock out past that bondage come hell or high water, and Krycek never took but a moment to spurt out his sweet soul. He scrabbled at the leather uncomprehendingly for seconds before he finally stopped.

"There's no zipper!" he gasped, aghast, and heard a giggle, that fountained into a gusher of laughter.  He smelled cum and realized there was no need to get into Krycek's pants, as Krycek lay and laughed, his belly hollowing and swelling under Mulder's hand, his whole body shaking with irresistible silliness.  It sucked Mulder under and he sputtered desperately at the blank picture he must have made; "How the fuck --  do you --?" but he couldn't finish and ended up laughing himself sick, with his head in Krycek's inverted lap.

Only excruciated abs and the image of Eddie coming in to find them lying on one another howling like hyenas in the midst of their darkly sinister torture scene forced Mulder to crawl to the top of Krycek's chair, and tip him upright again, miraculously not overturning the cup of Pepsi he'd forgotten to move.

Mulder wiped Krycek's face with his hands, and looked down at him.

"You have the most incredible mouth in the universe."

Mulder opened a window and spritzed some greensoap around, in hopes of covering the scent of sex.  By the time Eddie did return, everything was just as it had been, except Krycek's eyes were brightened.

The underside of the arm was sensitive and touchy.  Mulder stood behind him holding the stump straight up against his warm body as the tattoo guy applied the second paper transfer, snipping the ends a bit to match up with what was already done.

Mulder's left palm was warm nestled into his armpit, his right hand restrained, and warmed, the end of the stump.  It felt secure and let him relax some, but he held his breath as the needle approached and attacked his skin.  Mulder where did you get this freakout idea...

...fucking Junebug...

"...incredible mouth..."

When the needles went for more ink Mulder leaned down and kissed his amputation, a little warm dot of tongue in the middle.

...not so shabby yourself Mulder...

...wish I could see you.  Those jeans and that grey sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off and the neck cut out, I could eat you like ice cream...

...don't even know how the tattoo looks, I was too stiff for Mulder.  Didn't even think to look.  Does he know I shot as soon as his cock touched my mouth?  No, he went diving right for my zipper...

He had to gather himself in hard to keep from laughing again.  He didn't even want to think what they'd have to do to fix a slip in that fucking ink.

Even though it was Mulder, he didn't really like someone restraining that arm...

...it's only Mulder... warm hands...

...The forest floor.  Campfire.  Glimpse of knife glowing red coming down --

-- Fox don't leave --

...kissing me again.  Likes that...

...does he like it that they --

Dammit that hurts!

Probably made up that name Eddie, because he doesn't want me to find this guy.  But he knows I could.  He's trusting me not to.  How fricking heartwarming.  I still want to kill him.

Mulder's thumb stroked lightly up his armpit and his breath sucked in in a long slow gasp.  Thrills and chills.  Oh Mulder you destroy me, you are the Mount Saint Helens of my freaking existence, wreckage as far as the eye can see -- since the day I laid lips on you --

Does he think about it?  The black Tunguska night when they --

Does he get off on it?

Get a grip.

Pain always made him feel sorry for himself.  If it went on and on like this he could home in, isolate it, dissect it to nothing, but it took attention. A distraction and he was all over the place, the pain back in the saddle. Mulder was exactly such a distraction, but then again when sex sang Mulder songs in him it drowned out the pain, or at least made it yowl along, weird harmonies, like two muezzins of competing sects.

His arm hurt, his shoulder hurt.  Nothing like the agony that made him insane till the blessed drugs of his rescuers had pulled him back into a blunted, endurable universe.  Pain, all the same.

Why did everything have to hurt...

Mulder.  Mulder.  Why are you doing this?  Ink on my skin is going to keep me true?  You know me better, Christ, nothing could hold me if I didn't adore you on my knees like a fucking altarboy.

Sweat-hot.  Aching from immobility.  Needle like a fire-ant biting tiny crop-circles through his skin just for Mulder to investigate.  The done side of the tattoo one arc of fire.

He twisted his head up to catch a look at Mulder, who looked down at him, but it was too awkward an angle to maintain.  He lowered his eyes to the tattoo, but Eddie had hiked his stool up taller to get an angle he could work at, and was pretty much in Krycek's face.  He looked back at the floor. Pain was so fucking boring.

Mulder kept trying to comfort him with little kisses and caresses every time the needle veered off for ink, but he had reached the point where he just needed to be left alone, or he was going to start cursing like a woman in childbirth openheartedly damning her husband's soul to hell.

It didn't hurt that bad.  It just wouldn't go away.

Plus knowing there was worse to come.

Eternity always took on such immediacy when you were suffering.  Eternity is always now.  You don't know that until you try to escape.


Mulder called a halt for him when the outline was done, brought Advil and more Pepsi and looked at him searchingly.  After a moment he went away and came back with a set of earphones.

"Music is a stimulus," he said.  "It competes with other sensory input.  In theory, you can't hear and feel pain at the same exact instant."  Gently he fitted the pads over Krycek's ears.  His hand vacillated, then settled to clip the Walkman over a cross-rope.  He pushed Play.

          "Without wings, without wheels --"

Time Capsule.  The B side, thank god.  His eyes closed.

Mulder was tilting his chair back again.  On the floor, the back rungs dug in some, but it felt good to change position.  His muscles let go.

Mulder was taking his boots off.

Peeling his socks.

Wiping each naked foot all over with damp cloth.  God it felt good.

Drying them.

Massaging really gently... god what soft, gentle hands...


Kissing his feet!!!

          "Take me down where the love-honey flows --"

It did not kill the pain.  But did give him some seconds out of the pinching old grip of eternity.

          "Debbie's coming in for a landing --             Oh put your head between your knees."

Mulder was tilting him back up and he realized he'd lost time in there somewhere.  Mulder sat down by him again, turned off the Walkman and pulled the earphones down to hang around his neck.

He was giving him some more Pepsi.

Oh fuck, the damn shading bar again.

He looked at his arm, turning it to see as much as he could of the underside, to see how much there was to color in.  Something in the middle like a -- tall mushroom --

Oh for god's sake.  Mulder you lunatic.

It was an elegant little UFO, balanced atop a broad stem of light.  Obscured behind some twining stems, it looked enough like a mushroom that people would probably mistake it for one.  It also looked very much like something else.  Something the thought of which made him swallow, and his tongue come out to wet his lips, and his mouth open like a baby bird's.

Fox was watching him.

He blushed.

He couldn't stop himself.

Mulder's eyes were warm, smiles flitting half-invisible in their depths like goldfish in green summer water.

Oh Mulder.

If I weren't tied up I still couldn't hold you like I want to.  Couldn't hold you to me even if I had two arms, we're so...

He looked back into Mulder's eyes, sadly.

Hands gentle around the back of his neck, Mulder asking softly, "What's wrong?"

Don't spoil it for him.  He's so full of himself, doing this.  Smile.

But he couldn't think of anything to say, and perhaps the smile wasn't as successful as he had hoped.  Mulder leaned in closer, and put his face against him.  "A little more.  Then it will be done.  Then I'm going to hold you prisoner."


He'd moved a little.  Mulder said, "Mm-hm.  I'm going to keep you here and console you.  Till you scream for mercy."  His hands cradled Krycek's head, caressing.

Eddie came back and sat down.

Mulder went and got him a new tape.  Miscellaneous stuff he didn't know.  A song about Michael Stipe, fairy prettiness in the ears, with fangs in the lyrics.

Boy sopranos singing Pergolesi.

Something called, he deduced, "Bad Jews".

Bottleneck blues laud exhorting Robert Johnson to "roll on".

He missed a lot of it, because of the needles chewing at his skin. Seventeen.  Seventeen needles.  Same as the number of rounds in the lead-heavy clip of his pre-Brady Glock .45.  Illegal now, government figuring if you couldn't kill your intended target with six shots you deserved to be penalized by having to reload.  Totally oblivious to the possibility that you might have more than six guys after you.  Illegal... but then so was he...  Most of his life.  A couple of times he'd made stabs at trying to imagine what it was like not to be hunted, not to be on that wrong, wrong, wrong side of the fence, where any misstep made him a target instantly.  He couldn't imagine.  Half his life he'd been an agent, before that a runaway, before that... always with some secret bigger than he was.

Now Fox was encoding everything he was into this... marking.  Like some kid carving his name into a tree.  Panic licked him.

The Smoker never made him take off his clothes.  They neither of them had that kind of time, and anyway the man didn't lust for Krycek's body, he only did it for the power.

Mulder had put flowers on his body.  The next time he was in jail it would be a challenge not to kill anyone.

Suddenly he remembered the fantasy he'd had, his name down the underside of Mulder's cock in Cyrillic letters.

I'd never do this to you, baby, it hurts too much.

And of course his name anywhere on Mulder's body would be like slapping a sign saying "Kill me" on the back of Mulder's FBI suitjacket.

Doesn't he care if his little fantasy gets me killed?

Yeah it wasn't written out in words, but the people he moved among were used to decryption.

          "If I'll never be this young again,            At least I'll never be this drunk again."

a woman vowed recklessly in his ear, and the fast-jingling country guitar lifted his spirits.  Sure, lady.  We believe you.

          "Woke up this morning by the side of the road,            Kick in my head and some holes in my clothes --"

He knew the feeling.

Was Mulder doing this because he couldn't beat him up anymore?

The country song ended and was replaced by another in which everyone, including Dan Rather, was envisioned wearing red bra and panties.

Where did Mulder find this stuff?

          "Nothing too fancy,            Maybe just J.C. Penney's"

made him burst out laughing, and the tiny sharkteeth of the tattoo gun pulled quickly out of his skin, and eventually he opened his eyes to see Mulder signalling a time-out.

Worn.  He felt worn and zoned.

Another boy soprano.  "Laudate Dominum omnes gentes..."  He fell into the imperfect voice perfected by the perfect song.  Church Latin.  He knew the words.  By heart.  The "sicut erat in principio", so unearthly, made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.  Was that why Mulder taped it?  It sounded like it came from outer space, and truly, the beginning of all things.  Weird, almost, as Mulder's soul.  World without end, amen.  He emerged, with an inner shiver.

He turned his head.  The UFO had been colored with the yellow-tan of the foxtails, but also the fleshy deathly peach of the foxglove throats.  Hints of lavender and violet tinted the shaft.  Some of the twining stem design had been colored a green so dark it was almost black.

He couldn't believe it was his own skin.

It looked so exotic.

He also couldn't believe it wasn't done yet.  He was fading.  A long day, then getting into his leather one-handed and driving out here.  Almost tired enough now to be indifferent to the bondage, except now and then his stomach got hollow and cold at the remembrance of his helplessness.  Mulder...

Sex with Mulder was like someone turning on a light in the dark box of his life.  There was so much more than there used to be, his universe had folded open... shone in sumptuous vistas touched with distant gold.  Emotion, attachment, devotion -- things he had only known of briefly, as a child, then shut away somewhere and forgotten.  Whenever Mulder aroused him, fear melted.  The walls he had lived within were made of that fear, the fear of death and pain that had merged with the very substance of his life, held him as firmly as this bondage.  Until Mulder had come to reclaim him.

Like a prince who dispelled the sleep cast over his humanity with a single kiss.

He hadn't really known there could be anything else.  His reality had even stripped him of his daydreams.  What was unreal was dangerous.  He forgot what it felt like to want what so patently he would never have.

And then like the Annunciation, Mulder.

The greatest gift the universe could give.

All for him.

So monumentally unbelievable it compelled belief, so ungraspably alogical he had capitulated immediately, as before the onrush of the will of the physical world all suddenly immanent with the splendor and mirth of Deity. And the world had been given to him, as a prize for his surrender.

It was about then that he began to think of God as something like a near-grown Labrador retriever puppy.

Exuberant and loving and too big.

A striking spiritual resemblance to a lanky oversexed kinky Special Agent he could name.

What are you doing to me...

You've got me so off-balance...

I can't believe I let you do this...

They were torturing him again and he couldn't remember what it was he wasn't supposed to tell...  The little needle-patch burned over his skin.  Mulder was holding his arm upright and caressing gently with his fingers along the end of the stump.


Mulder stopped, and just held him more firmly.

He just wanted to endure.

Eddie's hands had no kindness, no cruelty, and no anxiety.  They were firm, purposeful.  Asked nothing.

It was all he could stand.

The pain was still superficial, but as it had closed its fiery clasp around his entire arm he had sunk further and further back, and the forest closed around him.  That one-armed men would cut off his arm had suddenly made a horrible sense he should have seen, before it became too late.  His lies had delivered him to ghastly truth, agony that shut out everything but itself. His throat shredded from screaming, "Why?" had been obliterated, all his vocabulary the howl for mercy, surcease, help out of this black hell.  They told him later he was lucky to have lived, but he would have traded anything he had for death, if he could have remembered a single solitary word of what he knew.

The second time the beautiful long needle came for him, he had been ready with names of all the Consortium, their relations, their distant acquaintances.  But no one asked.  They blessed him and asked for nothing in return.  Their drug didn't even let him worry about that.

Mulder would undoubtedly be shocked at the idea of bringing him a controlled substance.

He thought with twinges of disloyalty that there was something not untwerplike in Mulder's nature.

His neck hurt because he'd let his head droop heavily forward.  The rope there was cutting off his breathing.

He straightened slowly with a short exasperated sigh.

"Another fifteen minutes and we should be done," Eddie said to his arm, and he felt Mulder squeeze the stump briefly.

A mere eon.  Then with the strange suddenness of such things, it was over. Eddie cleaned him up and smeared antibiotic ointment, giving it to Mulder. "This has a topical anesthetic.  Should help."  It did.

Mulder and Eddie lugged a lot of equipment past him and a car started and drove away.

Mulder came back to him.

He untied the knot in back.  The rope left Krycek's throat.  Then the knot on his chest, and Mulder began methodically untrussing him.  He ended on his knees, untying Krycek's ankles.

Mulder helped him to stand, arms around him.

Oh man he was stiff.  Joints protesting, muscles trembly, like walking off a turbulent flight.

"Bathroom," he said.

He peed, in full-bladdered gratitude.  He unlaced his leather down the sides, and pretty much let it fall off him.  There was soap and washcloth in the shower.  He got himself clean, but the falling water seemed to take his strength with it.  He rested his head on his arm, on the washcloth bar.


...I let him...

What reason did Mulder have to feel anything but hate for him?

The shower curtain pulled back, letting in a wash of cool air.  A hand on his shoulder.

Then the water was turned off and Mulder was stroking his neck.

Finally saying gently, "Come on.  Step out."

Alex raised his head and looked at him standing there, so beautiful.  "If you're fucking with me I'll kill you."

Mulder stilled.  Then said again, "Come on.  I'll dry you."

He did, rubbing the towel gently in his hair, and carefully all over his body, except the tattoo.  He put more ointment on it, dulling the fire, and put an extra-loose t-shirt on him, with the sleeves cut off, and some pajama bottoms, and led him into the third room and sat him on the edge of a big, firm bed with the sheet turned back.  It was the side of the bed he always slept on, so he could reach out with his right arm and get his gun, or whatever else he might need from the bedside table.  There was no bedside table here, but Mulder had set his gun there on the floor by the tube of ointment and a cup of Pepsi.  He must have got the car-key out of the back pocket of his leather pants, and thoughtfully brought the gun in from the glove compartment.  One car-key was about all that would fit in the pocket of those pants.

Mulder gave him Pepsi and asked if he was hungry.  He shook his head.  He let Mulder lay him down on the bed.  He heard Mulder shed clothes, and wanted to look, but his eyelids were too heavy.  He felt Mulder getting into the other side of the bed, and slid out onto a dark sea of sleep.

He woke up starving.  His arm hurt.  It was pitch-black night, but Mulder had left the bathroom light on.  He found his way to the kitchenette and put together -- sighing -- a boloney and iceberg lettuce and mayo sandwich on white bread.  It tasted ambrosial.

He had pain in his arm and he felt bad.  He looked at the tattoo, startled again by its colors and black brilliance on his body.  He would never be able to see all of it, without a mirror.  It was bright and part of him and he just had no idea how he felt about that.  Wherever he turned it, parts of the design said "Fox".

He felt terrible.

He padded back into the bedroom, and let his eyes adjust.

Mulder had rolled and squirmed over in his sleep and was now on Krycek's side of the bed, as if seeking for him.

Ghostlike, Krycek approached.  He looked down, and then he silently sank down on his knees, and laid his head on the bed, his knuckles just touching Mulder's pajamas.

He felt a movement, then a hand was stroking through his hair.

Brokenly, he muttered, "I wouldn't.  Kill you."

Mulder's loose fist brushed across his cheek.  "I know," Mulder whispered.


Notes on the songs, any lyrics from which are used without permission and with no intention of copyright infringement:

1.  B-52's "Roam", "Good Stuff" and "Debbie" on Time Capsule album 2.  P "Michael Stipe" on P album 3.  Pergolesi/Choristers of Westminster Abbey "Stabat Mater:  Quando Corpus      Morietur" on Amadeus soundtrack 4.  Chuck E. Weiss and the God Damn Liars "Bad Jews" 5.  Chuck E. Weiss and the Trio "Roll On Mr. Johnson" (both available only      from the artist) 6.  Courtney & Western "Hands Off" 7.  Will Rigby "Red Bra and Panties" (both available only from Diesel Only      Records, Rig Rock Jukebox album) 8.  Mozart/Michael Deason Barrows "Laudate Dominum" on Music in Salisbury      Cathedral

And Thanks: I want everyone to know I genuflect with abject indebtedness to nancy for her incredible, detailed, patient help and expertise on all tattoo matters.  Any remaining errors are mine, but everything that's RIGHT with the scene I owe to the Shelter Goddess.  Thank you nancy!  You reign!


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