The course of true love never did run smooth.
"Son of a bitch," Mulder cursed as he staggered though the cabin, finding it devoid of Alex's flesh and property. The only evidence that his lover had even been there was the roaring fire left burning to ward off the chill--a fire that Mulder himself wouldn't have been able to build on a good day.
And this wasn't a good day. Ever since his return, he'd been unable to stand solitude. Though Krycek didn't know it, he was Mulder's tether to reality. Whenever he was alone, Mulder wasn't sure he wasn't still on the ship. The only thing that solidified the knowledge that he was alive and well and back on Terra Firma was Alex. Alex's voice. Alex's taste. Alex's touch. Alex's smell. Alex's smell... Tottering back to what he thought of as their bed, Mulder crawled up onto the quilt and buried his face into his lover's pillow and hoped that Alex's scent would keep him sane until he could gain enough control to decide what to do next.
"Let's go. The lab is dust, the airport's open and we've got an appointment in sunny Tunisia," Krycek called as he entered the cabin. Hearing nothing, he drew his gun and listened. "Mulder?" Getting no response, he began to systematically search the small abode: the teakettle was still half-full, the fire had been allowed to go out, his note still lay folded on the coffee table and Mulder's things were still in his room. Something was terribly wrong. He'd been very careful. Besides the odd animal track, there was no sign of life anywhere around the grounds that weren't his own. Turning toward his bedroom door, he took measured steps toward the one place he hadn't checked.
Under normal circumstances, Alex would have been turned on to find his lover draped naked across his bed, but this situation was anything but normal. Holstering his weapon, Krycek approached the bed and lowered himself to sit close to Mulder, being careful not to touch him. "It's Alex," he whispered gently.
The sound of Krycek's voice only produced a louder keen from Mulder.
"Are you hurt?"
"Not real, not real, not real," Mulder whimpered as he slowly rocked himself.
Alex gingerly stroked Mulder's cheek with his thumb. "Of course I'm real. What else would I be?"
"You are not real," Mulder chanted belligerently over and over.
"Open your eyes and look at me," Alex commanded.
Still muttering to himself, Mulder opened his red-rimmed eyes.
"See," Alex reasoned.
"Doesn't prove anything. You're just trying to trick me again," Mulder accused blandly.
Alex sat back and stared at his lover in stunned silence. How could Mulder have hid this so completely for almost three months?
"Don't have anything else to say?" Mulder taunted.
For the first time, Alex was happy the well-meaning peasants had hacked off his arm. It left him with a very simple way to convince Mulder he was who he said he was.
"Go away," Mulder said turning his face back into Alex's pillow.
Krycek climbed to his feet and shucked off his leather jacket, steeling himself to do what was necessary. Leaning over the bed, he used his strong natural hand and his even stronger prosthetic one to haul Mulder toward him.
"No! Don't! Please stop," Mulder said putting up an unsuccessful struggle to break free of Krycek's iron grip.
"Sit right there." Alex ordered, positioning Mulder so his legs dangled over the side.
Mulder wrapped his arms around himself as he contintued to rock.
Swallowing hard, Alex removed his gun and holster and placed it on the nightstand. He was surprised at how hard this was, putting his deformed body on display in the bright light of day. Gathering his courage, he pulled his right arm out of his sleeve, over his head and then down over his prosthesis. He followed the same awkward procedure with his T. Squaring his shoulders he stood stone still in front of Mulder and waited.
Mulder rose on limp, shaky legs. He reached out with a trembling hand, ran it over Alex's left shoulder, down the short expanse of skin onto the prosthetic's socket, and lower until he came to the artificial hand. He entwined his long fingers with his lover's synthetic ones and stared at where they joined.
"Are you okay now?" Alex asked.
"I thought--I thought you--" Mulder stammered refusing to meet Alex's gaze.
"You thought I ditched you and wasn't coming back," Alex said.
Mulder managed a barely perceptible nod.
"You don't have to worry about that happening again," Alex said, pulling Mulder against his chest.
"I'm a liability to you," Mulder said.
"The course of true love never did run smooth," Alex whispered into Mulder's ear.
"We'll work it out. Now get some sleep, Tunisia isn't going anywhere," Alex said guiding Mulder back to bed.