BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS
Bosco runs around the yard, chasing the two squirrels that always tease him. Poor old dog, they won't just let him be. I'll see him lying in the grass, in a patch of sun, and they'll drop a nut on him. And my dog is always on point. So he'll jump up and look around. I'd shoot them myself if it wouldn't take away the fun Bosco has tearing around the house after them.
It's going on my fourth summer living here and I can't say I'm sorry for doing it. It's quiet, and clean and relaxing. My medicine cabinet no longer contains Pepcid AC or Pepto Bismol. I take aspirin for the occasional headache and not the four prescription medicines I used to have for migraines. No, life is quiet and slow, the way I like it.
I'm planning my day. I need to see if I have any mail, since I haven't been to town in a few days. It's at least an hour drive down the mountain, so I try to keep it to a minimum once a week, twice if seriously necessary. I'm thankful for the run of electricity up here, and cable, but my water is a pain in the neck. It's pumped from a local stream, and my pump is old and needs to be replaced. The hot water heater is pretty useless if it's empty.
But I can get that done as easily as I got the masonry work for the bedroom, to open the hearth. My bedroom needed its own fireplace, not just a brick wall from the back of the one in my living room. I also added baseboard heating to the kitchen and my den. Folks think I'm crazy for adding a room onto the cabin, but a kitchen, a great room and a bedroom...and I needed another room.
I walk out to the jeep and get in, and Bosco waits all of twenty seconds before barking to be let in, so I let him in. Wouldn't think of going anywhere without my dog. He's my best friend. He sleeps on the bed with me, we read together at night, he sings with me on the porch when I play my guitar. Yep, Bosco is my best friend.
Down at the bottom of the mountain, I pick up the main road to town, driving along, listening to the classic rock station out of Alexandria. I may live a little country, but I haven't gone hick altogether. I still regularly enjoyed espresso and a good bottle of wine, my single-malt scotch and my clothes are still the better quality stuff, even if I have regressed to jeans, t-shirt and cowboy or work boots, but I still spend a good deal on my wardrobe.
The post office is as quiet as it always is, with the post-master, Mike Elliot, as pleasant as usual. He's nosey, and knows what kind of mail you got, but not to the point where he reads it. He doesn't talk to anyone else about it, either.
"Got one of those fancy letters, again, Walt?" he asks, pleasantly.
"Yep, my daughter. She refuses to send email to me. I get a handwritten letter each time. Pretty paper, huh?"
Mike nods. I'll spend a little time in town, getting my food, then take my letter home and read it on the porch. That's my ritual. Bosco will sit and listen as Scully tells us all about what's going on with the clean up. It's all over, now. It actually shocked the hell out of me when I first heard who was leading the resistance. It was fitting, though.
"Walt, you got yourself a nice little girl, there. How come she never visits?" Mike asks.
"She's real busy, Mike. Takes care of that boy she married, their son. Lots to do."
"You a grandfather? Can't be old enough! No sir, you got a clean dome, but you ain't no granddad."
"Mike, believe it. My grandson is probably the handsomest kid you'll ever see. One day, they'll come to me. Until then, I get my letters."
I need to get home, since I'm starting to get lazy in my speech again. So I run over to the Sam's Wholesale and grab most things I can in bulk. And they know me here, since they know everyone in town. Manassas is pretty big, but in a way, it's pretty small. And it's a nice historical town, so the tourism keeps things interesting. And we have a Starbucks where they know me. So things are good.
I walk back to the jeep, pushing the cart full of stuff and I expect to see Bosco waiting at the door, or already in. He's strong and can jump in and out of the open window I leave. But he isn't there and I have to whistle for him a few times. He never gets away from me like this, he's a smarter dog than that. Before I can make a clean get away, I turn around and there she is: Anabelle Mitchell. I sigh deeply inwardly. She's the last person I want to see.
Anabelle Mitchell is a lovely, divorced woman. She and I were introduced by none other than Mike Elliot, in the post office no less. And Mike made a point of saying my wife had died to her, and she said she wished her ex were. But her daughter, Shannon, is one of the cutest little girls I've ever seen. She has long blonde hair and big green eyes. Those eyes sparkle, like another set of eyes I saw sparkle once. I made those eyes sparkle. But I can't think about that now. If I get hard in front of Anabelle she may get ideas. And in front of her daughter, she may think I'm just a pervert. Now, if it gets her off my case...no, that would alienate the town.
"Hello, Walter! How are you today?" She's pushing Shannon in her cart. The little girl looks at me and smiles. I smile back at her, then her mother.
"Hello, Anabelle. I'm good and yourself?"
"We're doin' just fine. Aren't we baby?" Shannon looks up at her mother and I see the smile falter a moment. Then she looks back up at me and says, "Bosco here?" The little girl is in love with my dog. Unfortunately, her mother has designs on me. Normally, a man would be flattered. I should be. I should be bedding her regularly, actually.
The sad truth is I have my own designs. And they're for a man who no one can seem to find. So my passion dies each morning when I wake alone, panting, wet across my belly and thighs. And Anabelle firmly believes the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so all the hard work I put in around town and in my backyard gets wasted by her "gifts". Banana-walnut muffins, brownies and cupcakes; she's invited me for dinner and even let Bosco into the house with us. How can I tell her I'm gay?
Gay. Am I really gay? I keep thinking about that. I loved my wife. I loved all the women I'd ever slept with. I should probably be falling in love with Anabelle as I look at her. But all I can think about is that afternoon with Alex. So to get out of this, I must pretend to be the aloof widower. I can act with the best of them.
"Bosco is off running around somewhere, sweetie. I can't imagine where he got to." I whistle again, but no dog. Anabelle takes this as her opening to suggest something I never would have thought of in a million years.
"Well, since we have to get going, how about I bring Shannon up to your place for dinner? She can play with Bosco and we can enjoy some adult time. Lord above knows I need some adult conversation. And I'm sure you'd like more company up there than just your dog, Walter."
I'm speechless. Her coming to my house will be nothing but disaster. But I can't be unfriendly. Low key is what I like. So I nod dumbly and say yes. She says she'll bring dinner, but I will provide the wine. Oh, brother, she'll whine enough for all four of us. Guess I can't get out of it. "Sounds great, Anabelle. But not tonight. Got a letter from my daughter. I wanna read it and answer it tonight. You know what that's like."
She nods, as if she has any clue of what I'm talking about. But she rolls her daughter away and leaves me. I wait around a few more minutes, looking for Bosco, but I realize he may have started home without me. I pack up the jeep and let out one more loud whistle. To my surprise, he comes trotting over to me, tail down, head down. What the hell happened? I squat and look him over, checking for bites or scratches. But he's clean. Well, he could use a bath. I'll have to do that before Anabelle brings Shannon over. If she's going to play with him, he'll need a good flea bath. Dirty old dog, just like his Daddy.
I sit on the porch, watching the sunset, listening to the crickets. The lilt of Paganini drifts out onto the porch from the open window. Bosco heaves a heavy sigh, like he's shutting down for the evening. I carefully open Scully's letter. It's always the same, written on fine, pale cream paper, with a fountain pen, and she always includes something from William.
I don't even realize I'm crying until her signature begins to run from the tears dripping on the paper. I put the letter away and I sit back to enjoy the cool mountain night air. The baby wants to see me. Well, baby, he's almost six! Oh, I treasure the pictures I have of him. My mantle is decorated with him, Dana and Mulder, Kim's wedding photo, the last family photo of all the Skinner's while they were alive and a picture of Bosco and Shannon when she was about a year old, dangling from his mouth by her overall-straps. Not one adult could find her that afternoon. It was a church get-together at the lake, down the mountain. Shannon wandered off, and it took Bosco to find her. Someone was kind enough to give me that picture. I treasure it.
But I need to get myself into a real life. Maybe Dana is right. I'm thinking about a time in my life that will never be recreated. And I should move on. And I have a dinner to prepare to host tomorrow.
BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS
This is the time of year I am thankful for high-volume shopping. The snow outside hasn't stopped for two days. Not like it's stopped Bosco from jumping around in it. Oh, he doesn't make it off the porch, but he's playing around. I keep his "business" relegated to the backyard, because when the snow melts, my front yard will be a mess and the last thing I want to do is ruin my grass. Hey, it's a mountain cabin, but it's a nice cabin. I like grass and a garden. Bosco knows to go in the woods, but with snowdrifts that are two and three feet deep, I can't risk losing him.
I sit by the fire to reread Dana's latest letter. The war is over. It was a covert war. It was fought by those who had the most to lose. I did nothing. I sat here, safe in my cabin, and did nothing. Well, not nothing. I secured funding for their covert endeavors. I must say, a cable modem is a handy thing for online investing. But all the money I made from selling the condo, and the beach house, and all my stocks and investments ensured that Dana and Mulder and their band of folks had enough money for life's necessities while they acted in a manner less becoming of former FBI agents. But necessary to the world.
I shake my head. I'm waxing poetic. Dana and Mulder are spending the winter months in Arizona, not wanting to brave the cold with William who, because of their nomadic lifestyle, has become prone to colds and ear infections. The arid climate of the suburbs of Phoenix has been good for him. And Mulder is looking forward to Spring Training out there, even though the Yankees train in Florida. The Gunmen are still together, Byers and Langly happily married, and Frohike has located his children, who are becoming the next generation of truth-tellers. Mulder is crowing like Peter Pan.
They haven't seen him in months. After I received my last letter, he disappeared after a firefight. Mulder and I kept up with email while Dana would only send handwritten letters. It was quiet and covert, but it happened. And no one knows where he went. The Rebels made one last appearance to Mulder, all too brief to let him know they were no longer needed. They didn't mention him. And Dana didn't ask. And they were gone. And that was it.
We have a vaccine, a real one. It works. It always works. There hasn't been a failure yet. Well, there have been a few fatalities, as always with medicine. This stopped the Colonists from breeding and replacing their troops. And there's an aerosol agent for the bees. So the virus will be stopped. Peace is going to settle across a planet that didn't even know discord had taken hold. It was almost an anti-victory. There would be no fanfare, no medals given, no parade in New York City down the "Canyon of Heroes". Things would go back to the way they were over fifty years ago.
I think that when the weather is better, and I can drive out off my property, I'll pay a call on Anabelle and Shannon. I don't even know how to pay a call on a woman with a child. I'll have to call Dana and ask her what I should to. I can't plan a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant. What would we do with Shannon? I couldn't invite her them here, and expect Anabelle to spend the night; what would we do with a 4-year-old?
All of a sudden Bosco is barking. I get up and follow the commotion into the kitchen. I see my dog standing in front of the door, barking loudly. What's odd is his ears are up and his tail is wagging. Who the hell do I know who's out in this weather? And why would they be in my backyard and not coming up to my front door?
As soon as I open the door, he's out and into the snow. It's slowed a lot, and just little sparse flakes are drifting from the heavens. But there's my dog, on the porch, barking at the backyard. I am not walking out onto the damn back porch in my bare feet, no matter what this dog thinks he sees. The wind mostly hits the front of the house so that always gets the most snow. The backyard gets drifts mostly. And there is nothing back here.
And off he goes! That dog is going to get so lost one of these days. I watch as he runs off the porch and around the side of the house. The snow is shallow close to the house from blowing drifts so it's easy going for him, but I'm still bare-footed. He's barking around the side of the house, out of my sight.
I whistle for him. Nothing. I call out to him. Nothing again. If that dog is going to make me go after him, I'll scream my lungs out at him. No dog bones for him tonight. So I bite the bullet and follow his footprints around the side of my cabin. At first, as I take slow steps in the strong wind, I see his tail wagging. Damn, I hate walking in snow, even with shoes on. He's standing and barking at something. As I make my way completely around the corner, I see a mass of black huddled in the snow against the side of my house.
Oh, shit, it can't be...
If I could fly I couldn't get there faster. I kneel before the shivering figure and look down into the face. There's a good deal of beard growth, and his hair is long, tangled, and dirty looking. He is covered in mud, some still wet. But his legs are caked with snow, as if he'd been walking through deep drifts. I take his down-turned face into my hand and bring it up to look at him square. His lips are quivering, and blue. Oh shit!
I hoist him into my arms and carrying him into the house, straight to the living room. He lands heavy on the couch. I'm glad my furniture is all lightweight, as I kick the coffee table across the room. One shove and the couch is closer to the hearth. I hear the kitchen door but ignore it. Did it blow shut from inside? Or is Bosco more talented than I thought? Anyway, a few more logs on the fire are needed, and added. Then I go to the bedroom for my blankets. He needs heat and he needs to be dry.
When I get back, he's shivering harder, but his eyes are still closed. As long as I know he's alive, I'm happy. I can't throw his clothes off any faster than if I were going to make love to him again. But damn it, doesn't this boy know how to dress for the damn cold? He's fucking Russian, for Christ's sake! Just his usual uniform: black sweater, black jeans, same black motorcycle boots and a damn black leather jacket. What the hell was he thinking of coming up here in January dressed like this?
His naked body is laid out before me again, and it's just as beautiful as I remember it. But...oh my God...is that...he's got a left arm! I sit back a moment. Oh shit oh shit oh shit...Get a hold of yourself, Walter! Jesus Christmas! I need to get my head together. Cover him, yes, that's it. Wait is he a...His lip, now turning pink again, is spilt a little. I feel sadistic doing this, but I tug on the lip a bit with a fingertip. The reopened injury runs a little and the blood is bright red. I sigh in relief.
I stand to get the blankets and cover him. When I turn back, Bosco has jumped onto the couch and settled into the curve of his body. I smile just for a split second before dropping the blanket on both my pups. I need to sit back and take a breath. So I do, just looking at him, laying there, pale cheeks, still-blue lips, and he's still shivering. Harder now. Oh goddam, he's in shock. Why didn't he call me? I'd have gone to him.
Well, what do you do for a body in shock that can't create any more body heat? You give them yours. Damn! I can't put him in hot water or he'll go into cardiac arrest. So, what can I do? I stand and strip all my clothes off, which isn't much in this weather, sweat pants, a sweater and socks. Shit, I usually end up commando, no matter the weather. Poor Bosco yelps as he's pushed off the couch. I drag one blanket onto his rug on the floor right before the hearth, where the most heat concentrates and pull him down onto it. Positioning myself behind him and Bosco curled up in front, we make a warm blanket for him, with the wool blanket completely covering us. I even think ahead enough to grab a pillow down for my head. His head is pillowed on my chest.
My thoughts have a chance to catch up to me. My broken, beautiful boy. Alex. Oh, God in heaven, this is a gift. Why the hell is he back? The war is over...he was lost...no...he was saved. They saved him. They must have. Why else would he have an arm? He'll tell me when he's awake, when he comes to.
His skin is like frozen wet leather. As I recall, leather is dead skin. Shit. I begin rubbing his chest, to warm him there. Get the heart and lungs warm and you'll get the rest of the body warm. Oh, God, I'm exhausted already. I must be getting really old. I'm almost 55. This June, anyway. I wonder how old he is. I wonder if he'll tell me. I hope he'll tell me. There's so much to say.
Oh, who the hell am I kidding! Walter Sergei Skinner pissed away a marriage, friendships, and his father's fucking respect because he can't talk about his feelings. Sure, the words sound good in my head, but they get goddam lost on the way to my mouth. Fuck this. I need a nap. I pull his body closer to me, wrapping my arms around him, and drift off, the sound of Bosco panting as my lullaby.
I wake later, much later, and blink at my surroundings. It takes me a moment to remember why I'm naked, lying on my floor, with another naked body in my arms. Alex. Bosco sits up and barks. "Shush, dog!" I whisper loudly. He shakes his head. But Alex doesn't move. He isn't shaking any more, and his skin is a better color. His lips are pale, dry and cracked, but not blue. I sigh deeply with relief. I can't lose him. Not now, with the war being over, with him in my arms like this. I pull him closer. He smells terrible. I wonder if I can chance a bath for him. No, I'll wait until he's coherent. I'll just deal with the stink.
I rearrange us so that he's lying on his back and I can look down into his face. When he's sleeping, he looks like a young man, much younger than he probably is. I take one of his hands in mine. His fingers are still cold. I'm sure all of his extremities are. I begin rubbing and massaging that hand, bringing heat back to it. He doesn't respond. I take the other hand and do the same; his left hand. I look the hand over, marveling at the appendage. It looks like a teenager's hand, almost but not quite matching his other hand. I cross his arms over his chest, like an Egyptian mummy, so I can ensure they stay warm. On to his legs.
I look down the long, muscular legs lying akimbo on the blanket. He's at complete rest, and he is as beautiful as he was four and a half years ago. His body is empty of the scars I saw last time, and never acknowledged. They must have regenerated everything. I look back and...oh God, the nipple ring is gone. I sigh heavily. I liked that nipple ring.
I move down his legs. His thighs are warm, but his legs are still cold from the knees down. So I rub his feet. He has pretty feet...pretty feet? Walter, you have lost your fucking mind! Pretty fucking feet, what the hell are you thinking?
I rub his feet back to a normal temperature, ignoring myself. I cover him again and tuck the pillow under his head. Rising, I pull on my sweats and add more logs to the fire. I'll have to bring in more wood soon. Bosco has followed me into the kitchen and I let him out into the backyard. How did that dog know Alex? There are more questions in my head than I can answer. I'm pretty much spinning around in a daze. And I'm hungry. I look at the clock and it's already eight in the evening. The sun was low in the sky when I brought Alex in. I pop a microwave meal in and chow down. I don't really like those, but they're good in a pinch.
I settle on the couch, scotch in hand, watching Alex sleep. His eyes are closed. He looks so peaceful. His face has almost all its color back. He must be at a normal temperature. I touch his face. He's a bit warm, maybe getting on to too warm. I should have figured he'd end up with a fever. Well, I'm stocked with Tylenol, and ever since I had the pump replaced, and added the filter to the kitchen faucet, I have some of the best drinking and bathing water in the state. But I'm getting tired. After my drink, I'll move him into the bedroom. Oh, that means a fire in there.
I kneel before my bedroom hearth, preparing the kindling for the fire. It gives me time to think. He'll need medical care, I'm sure. He's going to have one hell of a cold. But I'm glad to have found him. I still want to know how my dog knows him. Bosco is friendly when I'm there to give him the OK. But he was wagging his tail for Alex. Unreal.
Well, as I look at my mantle clock, it chimes at ten o'clock and I'm tired. I need to get him into bed. He needs to get off this floor. I get him up easily, and that worries me. His hipbones protrude too much for me to like, and I'm sure his spine is more visible. I counted his ribs, visually and manually several times. He hasn't eaten. He's a mess. And he walked here in the snow. He needs to sleep. I carry him into my bedroom, his bedroom, and lay him on the bed. I look at his nude form, spread across the blanket, and remember back to a time when I was also just as undressed, and I was enjoying myself.
What had set me off that day? I lie in bed, him lying beside me under the blankets, breathing deep and even, thinking about the last time I saw him. We'd made love. Although, at the time, I just decided that I fucked an ass and not him. I'd performed anal sex before. It was just another body under me. But I should have known better. I should have acknowledged what I was feeling. I liked being inside that body. I liked the man attached to the body. Well, I liked his body.
But after he'd dropped out of sight, and Mulder and Scully took William on the run, and I retired, he returned with the Rebels and Jeremiah Smith to fight with us to rid the planet of the Colonists. And I developed some respect for him. Both Mulder and Dana glowed about him. It wasn't hard to believe that Mulder had grown new respect for Alex. That was easy, since Mulder had made his peace when Alex, using astral projection technology borrowed from the Rebels helped Mulder escape from Knowle Rohrer in the military installation. Then Alex protected Marita Covarrubias, a former lover, by telling Mulder to stop me from questioning her. No, Dana was the hard sell.
It wasn't so hard for Alex to buy her forgiveness when she was operating on his shoulder after he was shot protecting her. What turned her into a believer that he'd always been on their side was when he was shot in both of his legs, almost losing them, protecting William. After that, she would follow him anywhere.
There's no evidence of any of that now. He's brand new, as if reborn. And given to me. I tried to think of why I turned away from him. It wasn't hard to remember. I was lying across his back, after having made love to him, and I had bitten him. I bit his shoulder hard. And he liked it. And he laughed and said he was as much mine as I was his. Those words struck me through with anger and pain and hate. All I wanted to do was get away. I didn't want to be owned anymore. I wanted to be free. And he let me be free. But that wasn't what he meant.
When he said I was his, I truly was. There was no other choice for me but to become his. He's back in my life, in my bed, and if I turn out the light and hold him, he'll really be in my arms. I do and fall asleep that way.
The sun is barely over the horizon, but I'm awake. I don't usually get up this early anymore, unless Bosco is giving me grief. But he's lying contentedly on the floor, on the rug, by the fire, which has gone down. I should rise and add more wood. I stretch out and my hand unexpectedly encounters warm flesh, making me jump almost a foot off the bed. What the hell...
I turn to my left and he's there. Alex. Sleeping on his side, turned away from me. His back is spread before me and I see goose bumps forming on his skin. So I pull the blanket back over him. A goose down comforter is necessary in the mountains. I just look at him. He's burrowed into the pillow, with its flannel case matching my flannel sheets, another necessity. I'll have to wash the sheets. He still smells terrible.
I get out of my bed, and note my nudity. But...hell, whatever. I add some wood to the fire in the bedroom, and I get an appreciative sigh from Bosco. I add some out in the living room and make my way to the bathroom for a piss. Should I shower now? Nah. I pad back to my waiting bed. I get back in and snuggle down next to the warm body sleeping there. He's lying on his back again. His face is young and serene again like he was as a green agent. But the wanness of his cheeks and the shadows under his eyes cause me concern. I hope he sleeps long and well. He looks like he needs it. And I think I have enough food here to last until the snow melts enough to drive down the mountain. I think Miller will plow up here when the weather will let him.
I don't remember how long I was asleep but I know I woke because of the thrashing and shouting beside me. I have to sit up quickly to avoid the fist flying at me. He's dreaming, or having a nightmare is more like it. He's shouting "No! No! Run! Go! Now!"
I grabbed at him, trying to get his arms, and I thrust him down into the bed, trying to get on top of him to stop his wild swinging. "Alex! Alex, wake up, you're dreaming!" But he's not listening. He's just thrashing about and he's screaming "No!" Then he stops arches up off the bed and opens his eyes and screams "MULDER!" And he falls back to the bed and begins crying.
Alex Krycek, crying. Oh God, what the hell do I do? I take him in my arms and stroke his long, dirty hair, hoping he wakes up soon. His beard is scratchy on my chest. I don't do crying people. This is not me. This is not anything like me. But he's still crying, and the tears are streaming down my chest. And I can't let him go. But soon, the tears slow, and the sobbing ceases, and he's again asleep. I take this as my cue to get my ass out of bed and get my day started.
After a shower, dressing, letting the dog out, stoking the fires and having breakfast, I wander back to the bedroom. He's still sleeping, but curled back onto his side facing the fire. He's so pretty when he sleeps. Pretty? Walter, calm the fuck down. You'll get your chance to talk to him soon. He's lightly snoring. He must be feeling a bit better.
I go back to the living room and look out the window. The sun is out bright and the snow is actually melting from the branches.No...that's impossible. It's January...what day is it? January 26th. Yes, that's the date. And the snow is melting. It snowed for two days. Well, maybe I'll get down the mountain faster.
I settle to read a little while. It's only about noon. I may have all day to wait. Soon, though, I hear coughing from the other room. He's awake. I walk in slowly and look down at him. He's looking around the room. Then his eyes settle on me. His expression doesn't change, and neither does mine. He falls back into the pillows.
"Hey, Walt," he says, nonchalantly.
"Hello, Alex. How are you feeling?" If he wants to play this game, so can I.
"Like reconstituted orange juice. How long was I..."
"About eighteen hours. You need to piss? Hungry? Can you stand? Wait, lemme get you some sweats. Your stuff is soaked...and I think still laying in the living room." I know I must sound like a Jewish mother.
I go to one of my full-sized bureaus and pull open a drawer. I drag out the standard gray sweatpants that all men have in abundance and hand them to him. He swings his legs off the bed and sits there a moment, coughing again. His cough sounds wet. He's got the flu. He'll probably start sneezing soon. "You need a top?" I want to make sure he doesn't get worse.
"Yeah, it's friggin' freezing in here. You kept my can the same?" He stands and accepts the matching sweatshirt that I've pulled from the same drawer and walks slowly from the room. I'll need to give him socks, too. He looks back at me as he enters the disheveled living room.
"Head's where it always was. I added on, didn't change the original."
He turns back and walks into the bathroom. The door closes firmly. I had worked on it so it would hold better than it had. Especially the last time we were here together. Soon enough, he walks out and stands leaning in the doorway, for support. He smiles a little. "There's hot water." I just nod. He walks back to the bedroom and falls onto the bed. He doesn't even cover himself and falls back to sleep. I draw up the comforter and stoke the fire for him. It was getting low. I go to the dresser and pull out my thermal hunting socks to give him, but he's snoring again. So I put them on his feet, which is good, because his feet are cold.
I go into my living room to straighten up. I've gotten lazy in my old age. Then again, my biggest combat is dog hair, so I usually just vacuum everything. I take his clothes out to the kitchen to the laundry room I've built. It opens onto the full pantry I have, for my food stockpile. I throw his clothes into the laundry with mine, sweater separate from his jeans and socks. Of course, he has no underwear.
I can do all that later. But I put my furniture back where it belongs. I sit and watch my fire. I have a huge 35-inch television and never use it. I'd rather watch the fire and contemplate the man in my bed. I wonder what is going through his head. I wonder if he's here for rest until he can go back out and be...whatever he was before he was a Consortium flunky. I have to admit that I'd seen him before the Grissom case. I'd buried that knowledge so deep that I would never have recalled it when I was part of the FBI. But since I retired, lots of thoughts I'd buried came floating out.
I had time for that. Right now, my only concern is what to make for dinner. Soup, I guess. What else can he eat? I'm not sure he would handle anything else any better. So I take out the pre-made stock and begin to defrost it in the pot. Yes, I can make chicken, beef and turkey stock. If you have enough time to yourself, and a good internet recipe from Martha Stewart, you're set.
As the vegetables cook and the soup reduces, I just walk around the place, looking at things, remembering what I've changed. He'll probably ask. And I'll be proud to tell him I made the new furniture and put the rooms on myself. That's how I made it through college and the academy, with carpentry. It's, also, how I supplemented my junior agent pay. Nowadays, I make some money that way, as well. It's better for bartering though, since I got the water pump and anti-freeze system that way. Plumbing is expensive, unless you build the plumber's daughter a playhouse in the backyard. It's good to provide the plumber's wife and her garden club eye candy, if you can. I know I'm old, and here's more gray on my chest than black. Yet when I put the rippling, tanned muscles on display, they all drool. It's my one claim to fame: I make all the wives wet. Too bad I have morals. I should be fucking all of them. I have to admit, though, that I love the gasps and moans when I stand to stretch my back and pour water over myself to cool down from the heat.
I shake my head from my reverie and serve myself a bowl of soup. I hear the coughing again. Ah, my patient is awake. The sun has set and the stars are twinkling. He's propped himself on pillows and is sitting up. I walk to the bed and he looks up at me.
"You hungry? I made soup. Or are you nauseous?"
"Why would I be nauseous?"
"That cough is probably the flu starting. I had it a while back. There's a rash of it in town, so if you stopped in Manassas before coming up here, you've probably got it."
He nods thoughtfully, but says nothing. He takes a deep breath and looks at me. "I can eat. What kind of soup?"
"Chicken and vegetables, with egg noodles. Like my mom would make. You'll like it."
He nods and accompanies me to the kitchen, albeit slowly. He's moving quite slowly and that's more slowly than I like. But he makes it to the table, as I'm ladling the soup into the bowl for him. He starts nibbling on a cracker. I pour him some water and put the glass on the table in front of his, garnering a glare from him. "You got any beer in this joint?"
I don't like being growled at, but I'll tolerate it from him. For now, that is. I look back at him calmly. "No, no beer until I know how sick you are."
"A shot of scotch can cure any illness. You should know that with a name like Skinner."
I let this go. My Irish father would laugh at that. My mother would have hit him for laughing. She was Russian, and it broke her heart when I changed my name from Vladimir to Walter. But I kept the Sergei. Still, she cried. My father never forgave me for that. But that's a story for another time.
We eat in silence, and I can feel the tension radiating from him. I stay calm. I can't afford to get upset at him. If he senses anger, he'll get angry. I can't let that happen. I can't lose him, not again.
Just before I'm forced to start a conversation before seeming rude, Bosco walks in and saves my ass. He sits before Alex, tail wagging and lets out a companionable bark. Alex puts his spoon on the table, leans down to ruffle up my dogs ears, and tells him what a good dog he is. Bosco, ever the slut, lays down to have his belly rubbed. Alex obliges. I smile at the scene. Then I lament my jealousy of the dog. I have to ask the question.
"Alex, how does my dog know you?"
"Huh?" He's on the floor with the dog, using both hands to make Bosco purr. Yes, I must admit, my dog purrs when he's happy. Full of surprises, ain't he?
"Bosco, my dog there, he knows you."
"Nah, he's just friendly."
"No, he isn't. He's ornery and stubborn, like me. He's never friendly. Did you meet him before?"
He doesn't answer me as Bosco begs to go out on the porch and into the backyard. I let him out. When I sit back down, Alex is finished and ready to go back to bed. He looks pale, but better than when he first arrived. I won't push him. I clean up as he takes his time getting back to bed. But I follow him in there, and he's in bed, curled up in the comforter, shivering. He's definitely got a fever. I sigh deeply before going to the kitchen to get the super-sized sports bottle complete with extra-long bendy straw and fill it with cold water. Then I get two Tylenol and head back to the bedroom. He's still shivering. I nudge his shoulder.
"Alex, wake up. Come on, I have meds for you."
He shrugs off my hand on his arm, but I shake him again. His eyes slowly open and he just looks at me. His eyes are bright and sharp. I know he's not doing well. He doesn't sit up, just sticks his tongue out so I place the tablets there and put the straw against his lips. He swallows a few sips, then groans as it all goes down. He goes back to trying to sleep. I leave him there with the water if he needs it. I know I'll need more wood for the fire for tomorrow. If it sits outside too long, it will get too wet. I have it under a tarp, but it need to dry out in the house.
I bring in the wood, and leave it out in the living room. Bosco follows me into the bedroom where I build up the fire again. We sit together on the floor and I stroke his fur. He looks up at me and I know we need to talk.
"I know I've neglected you today, boy. How the hell do you know Alex? Well, at least I know he was nice to you. You'd have torn him to pieces." I stroke his fur a while longer until he's lying happily before the fire, dozing. I decide to retire to the bed since it's going eleven. Hauling the wood tuckered me out. So I undress and lay beside Alex. He's stopped shivering and is asleep. I touch his neck, and he moans annoyedly, and I find he's still warm. He's not sweating yet. He won't get better until he does. So I may as well get some sleep.
I wake up to more thrashing and more screaming. It's still dark, but he's wide awake. The moonlight is streaming through the windows, glinting off his skin. Sweat. I place my hand on his chest. His hand covers mine. We look at each other. Again, he starts crying. And again, I pull him into my arms and hold him close. He's shed the sweatpants and sock as well as the shirt. He curls against me, and I hold him, stroking his hair and murmuring words of comfort, the way my mother used to do for me, telling him they were just dreams and they don't really mean anything. His legs are tangled with mine and his cheek is flush on my chest, his beard tickling me. I figure he'll go right back to sleep and I'll hold him while he does. But he looks up at me, twin green pools of pain and he says, "It's real, Walter. All of it's real, not a dream. I...I was shot and killed by a plasma beam saving Mulder's life. Again. And they brought me back, again."
"Again? What do you mean, Alex?"
He wipes his face with his hand, but doesn't move from keeping his cheek on me. "I've died saving Mulder, Scully and William. The Rebels kept bringing me back. They float you in this tub of slime. I hated it. But they knew I needed it. And they kept bringing me back. They kept regrowing limbs that were injured. My arm...you have no idea what it was like to have my arm back. Walter, dying had to be the worst I could go through. Walter, I..."
"It's over, Alex. You're safe now. You're home."
I nod against his head, so he feels me. I kiss his hair again and we lay together talking until the sun peeks over the horizon. He isn't feverish anymore, feeling much better. He tells me about how he told the Rebels to leave him to go, that since the war was over he wanted to try and start again. So he tried to come here. He knew that I was here, and he even told me about his visit. He played with Bosco, who seemed to warm right up to him. Alex told me about seeing me talking to Anabelle. And decided that it would be fun to tease me.
"Alex, I can't help it if she likes me, can I?"
"Does she know?"
"Know what?" What was he getting at?
"That you suck cock?"
I take a deep breath and shove him away. I rise from the bed, ignoring my nudity and stride from the room. I needed to piss, anyway. When I return, he's risen as well, sporting wood, and goes to the bathroom himself. I stoke the embers to get the fire going again. Then I sit back on the bed. I don't hear him walk back in but I feel his crawl across the bed.
"Do you remember the last time you and I sat like this on this bed?"
"I like the new fireplace. When did you do that?"
"The first autumn. The room needed it."
"You'll have to show me everything you did here."
Then we are silent for a while. And I have to talk to him. Shit, how the fuck do I say this? Where do I find the words? I have to tell him. He's just sitting behind me. I feel the heat of his body, but he isn't touching me. I feel him start to move away.
"Thank you, Alex."
He stops. "For what?"
"For this place, for protecting me. The agents in the FBI who were connected to Spender and the Consortium were executed for treason. You saved my life."
"It wasn't the first time." His voice is dry and quiet. I barely hear him.
"What do you mean?" I turn to look at him. His eyes travel over me. I feel appreciated.
"Walter, I was never the assassin you claimed me to be. Luis Cardinal killed William Mulder, he killed Melissa Scully and he shot you. He was supposed to kill you."
"You *did* kill me, Alex. With the nanobots."
"No, they thought I had killed you. I brought you back. I used them to get you to act in ways I could never convince you to with words. The clone the Colonists created for me, with stolen DNA from the Oilien that inhabited me, *he* wanted to kill you, Mulder and William. Shooting him was the smartest thing you ever did."
I can't believe my ears. Am I really hearing this? I thought I had killed him. I thought that the Rebels and Jeremiah Smith had brought him back, which is how I rationalized him coming to Mulder in astral projection. I just look away. I can't make sense of it.
"We have time to talk, Walter. Let's go get some food." He moves off the bed and gets his sweatpants. I do the same. But I wait, looking at him then the rest of the pile of clothes on the floor until he gets my hint. He looks at me and he understands. He pulls the shirt and socks on, then follows me into the kitchen. Bosco trails us as well and jumps around on the floor until I walk to the door. I let the dog out and Alex starts to follow.
"No way, Alex. Don't even think about going out there."
"Walter, it's gorgeous out there." He opens the door and walks out onto the porch. He's right. It feels like it's about sixty degrees out there. Bosco runs around as if he doesn't know what to do with himself. The sun is bright and strong and the trees are dripping with melting snow. The ground is wet and muddy, which means the dog is going to get washed. But soon we go back inside and I start breakfast. Alex watches as I make the pancakes. I pour him a glass of juice and send him to the bathroom to get more Tylenol while I finish cooking. When he's back, he sits and digs into the plate I serve him. We eat again in silence.
When we're done, I send him to the bathroom. He needs to bathe, shave and do something with that hair. And I need to change my sheets. When we're together again, he wears nothing but the towel, and is lounging in his usual lazy and seductive way against the doorframe.
"You can search the drawers or the closet for something to wear." I indicate the bureaus and the heavy oak closet that I almost cut three fingers off to make. He nods and I go off to shower myself. I return to my bedroom in my towel expecting Alex to be tying his boots, and I find him lying on the bed, naked still. He's on his stomach, head nestled on his folded arms, looking at me. I walk to my bureau, tossing my towel over the footboard of the bed. He gets off the bed and stands behind me.
"You couldn't find anything to wear?" I don't want to move. I don't want to breathe. I want him to start this. I have no idea what to do, and I know he does and I want him to do it. Please, Alex, touch me.
"Your clothes are too big for me. Guess I'll need to stay naked all day. Why did you make the bed? I can stay in there." I feel his hot hand on my back. "We can stay there together."
I move away and turn to him. He's looking at me, smoldering eyes that are darkening as I look at him. And I take a good look at him, my pretty boy. He's much older than the almost five years we've been apart. He has much more gray in his hair, and the lines around his eyes are more pronounced. The gauntness of his cheeks screams that he's been pushing himself too hard. He needs to take time for himself...for us.
"Alex, it's been only a day and you've been sick. I'm not sure this is what you really want to do."
"That's what my fever was. My body will repair itself with sleep and food. A gift from my healers."
"I'm still concerned."
I'm fighting to keep my face still. I do not want to let my chin shiver and let my tears gather in my eyes. If I do, I'm lost to him. And I can't let four years of soft living let my façade of angry AD crumble.
Thank God he knows what to do. He steps up to me. We stand eye to eye. The green is barely visible beyond the endless black of his pupils. His hand, his left hand, flattens on my chest and I feel how warm his skin is. Oh, to have a warm hand touch me again. And his other joins it. I turn my gaze away to look out the picture window over the bed. I've down this before. Alex touching me, being unsure of what I should do. But this time, I have nothing to lose. My children are safe, and it was this man who made sure of it. I'm safe as well, and again, I have him to thank.
His hands are sliding over my chest, tangling in the hair, teasing my nipples. His mouth touches my neck and I'm lost. My arms come around him, pulling him close and we embrace tightly. I rub my chin in his hair, enjoying the soft, silky feel of it. It's much longer than it ever was and is still wet smelling sweetly of shampoo. He looks handsome with it. He steps back and smiles at me. Then his lips are on my neck again, igniting my skin as his tongue travels up my jaw to my earlobe. But I pull back. His eyes are full of questions. I haven't said no. But I must do something first.
My hand brushes his cheek, and I hold his face gently. His eyes are on the verge, sitting on that precipice of lust and hope and pain, wanting to be accepted, waiting to be rejected. And I lower my mouth to his and kiss him. I can feel his surprise as I take his mouth, gently at first, playing my lips over his, then more urgently. He sways in my arms and I tightened my hold on him. I press my tongue firmly on his lips, and he opens them, inviting me in.
He tastes sweet, and like my toothpaste. I remember that sweet taste from another time, from another part of him. I would rediscover that if he would let me. I break the kiss and watch as his eyes reopen. He closes them when he kisses, like a girl. It's an endearing quality. But he just looks at me. He smiles. "Thank you."
"For what?" I ask.
"For finally kissing me. I've always wanted to kiss you."
"Why don't we take this to the bed?"
He pulls me to the bed and crawls onto it. I watch his ass move, and I remember being buried in it. I know my cock is rising. But I just stand there and watch him lay back on the blankets. He is more beautiful than I've ever seen him. I walk to the bed and decide to lose my mind. This isn't normal Walter Skinner behavior. I have morals. I have principles. I have a hard on for Alex Krycek and I plan on making myself fucking happy for once. Goodbye AD Skinner, hello Happy Walter.
When I reach to kiss him again, his arms slide about my body, and he gives up to me everything I want. I taste his mouth thoroughly, kissing him deeply. His hands slide over my back soothing my muscles. He grabs my ass and squeezes hard. I wonder why the hell I haven't done this before. I feel him hard against my leg, and I know he feels me. I taste his neck, savoring the salty flesh. I could kiss him all day. But I want him now.
My lips relearn his jaw, his shoulders, his collarbones, and he lays back for me, moaning. I kiss my way down his chest and look pointedly at his nipples, then back up at him. He smiles sheepishly. "One of the Rebels thought it was a mark of slavery and had it removed. I didn't think it was big on my list for 'Things to Do' until my job was done, you know?"
I lick the closest nipple and say, "We'll take care of that another day." And I continue sucking and licking his nipples. He's squirming under me, fisting the sheets. I reach for his cock to stroke it and he bucks under me. The keening noises coming from his throat are going straight through me.
"Walt, I know you're not one for words, but...it's been a long fucking time. Can we dispense with seduction and fuck me? Please?"
"Since you." And I know he's telling the truth. His eyes tell me so. His brows are knitted and quivering, like he's fighting to keep a straight face. I know he doesn't want to laugh, he's holding back whimpers. I sit up and reach into the bedside table. I keep it where he did. He watches the bottle of Astroglide in my hands. "I'm clean, Walt."
"I know, so am I."
I pour a little onto my hand and rub my fingers together. He watches my every move and his eyes close as my hand reaches toward him. He was expecting to do this himself, but no, I want to touch him. I circle his hole, touching it gently, feeling it flutter under my fingers.
"Fuck, Walt, God, I've always wanted to you do this." His hands are tearing at the blankets. I need to get on with this. My cock is pounding with my heartbeat and I need to get inside him desperately. I slide my finger into him and he groans loudly. Then he looks around worriedly.
"No one's up here, Alex, just you and me. No one to hear us, scream all you want."
"I don't scream."
I slide another finger into him, feeling his tight muscles grab at me and he lets a breath hiss from between his clenched teeth. With my free hand, I push his knees up to expose him to me. His strong ass is open to me and I watch my hand going in and out of him, two fingers now. "Walter, please...now!"
I pull my hand away and reach for the bottle of lube to slick myself for him. His eyes track my every move. We're both panting heavily. I grab his legs and move to his entrance, and look down at him.
I plunge into him. His back arches off the bed and I am awash with pleasure. Oh God, he is tight and hot and as wonderful as he was before. I realize I have missed him so much. I don't want to play games anymore. I lower myself to him, laying across his chest and I begin moving. I don't take my time, and I'm not gentle. That is the best part of fucking a man. You can do to him what you hope one day he will do to you.
We move together in rhythm with our hearts that have again become one beat. I'm holding him, his arms are around my shoulders and we move together. It's fast and it's furious, and I get my angle right to hit his prostate. He shouts my name. It is like music to me. I hit it again and again. I want him to come, I want him to come hard on my cock and squeeze me and milk me. He looks at me and I kiss him again. I kiss him hard and hit the magic spot a last time and he comes. He bucks and shouts and groans into my mouth and I feel the last of my resolve disappear and my balls, tight against my body, start pumping into him. The warmth spreads through my belly sending lightning shooting down my legs and arms, to tingle in my fingers and toes. I know my eyes have rolled back into my head and I'm making the most embarrassing faces, but fuck it. Coming in that sweet ass has to be the best fucking feeling in the world.
We spiral down together, and I lay heavily on him. His lips are on my neck and he is gently sucking a red spot on my skin. I kiss his temple. He looks up at me. We kiss again.
I shake my head. "No, not now, Alex. There's time for this."
He nods and grins. He's not a man for words, either. We settle to doze a bit, still holding tightly to each other, me still buried in his ass. It's a start. No promises, no declarations of love and fidelity. There's time for that. There's time for everything. Time is all we have now. And it's all I want. For now.
I sit on the porch and watch as Alex plays catch with Bosco. He's only wearing a t-shirt and jeans, bare feet in the grass as my dog chases the old rubber ball around. It used to look like a basketball, until Bosco tore the shit out of it. I'm whittling a rabbit for Shannon from a stray piece of wood. Anabelle made a point of telling me that Shannon loves rabbits. If she only knew.
Alex walks to the porch and sits beside me in the other rocker. We look at each other and smile. He watches as my hands move the knife over the wood. I asked him once if he wanted to learn how to do this, but he said that woodworking wasn't his style. But he told me he would help me out with the construction projects I was hired for this year. It will be nice to have company when I work.
Folks have taken to Alex the way they took to me, slowly. I tell them we're friends, and he's staying with me until he decides what he wants to do with himself. We're both a quiet sort with townsfolk. We don't need anyone knowing our business and they understand. We're liked just the same. Who couldn't like Alex?
What is our business? Well, Alex would punch me in the arm and say sucking and fucking, carpentry and electrical work on the side. I didn't know he was good with wires and fuses. I say I keep my lover happy, my dog fed and exercised and my grandson spoiled rotten. Dana and Mulder still can't quite wrap their brains around it. They aren't angry, but they haven't warmed up to the fact that Stoneface Skinner is a fag. Well, they don't say that. They ask me when I discovered I was bisexual. I tell them I'm an old fairy and happy that way. What more can I say?