RATales Archive

All I Can Give

by KinkyGrrl Diane

Title: All I Can Give
Author: KinkyGrrl Diane (kinkygrrl1980@yahoo.com)
Website: http://www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kinkygrrl1980/
Keywords: Krycek POV, K/Sk, h/c
Feedback: Appreciated and cherished!
Spoilers: Up through all the Skinner-nano episodes
Archive: Okay
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Chris Carter and Them, yadda yadda. No copyright infringement intended, I write for love and feedback, not money.
Summary: Krycek tries to come to terms with what Spender is forcing him to do to Skinner.
Notes: This was written because Xanthe wanted a Beautiful!Walter fic. I, of course, had to put lots of h/c in. Once I got started writing, I realized that those two concepts blended even better than I had thought they would.
Dedication: To Xanthe, for all the reading pleasure her wonderful stories have given me. Many, many thanks to my two splendid beta readers, Peach and Amazon X!

The lash falls across Skinner's naked back, again and again. I accidentally misjudge my stroke, and blood trickles down to mix with the sweat already soaking the big man's body. Skinner no longer cries out with each blow, but only fights for breath and consciousness, his body writhing uncontrollably in its bonds. I lower my arm and check the stopwatch. Nine and a half minutes. Close enough that Spender probably won't call me on it, even if he knows what I am doing. Which he probably does.

"Time." I toss the whip to the ground with an audible thunk and Skinner sags in the ropes, eyes closed, trying to control the tremors that grip him in the aftermath of his punishment. Spender catches my eye, and with a cold, cruel smile holds up one finger.

One more. Now, when Skinner isn't expecting it. Isn't braced. I pick up the whip as quietly as I can, knowing that if Skinner is warned and able to control himself Spender won't get the reaction he wants, and there will be worse to follow. I swing the lash back and bring it down with all my strength on Skinner's back.

Skinner convulses with a genuine scream, and a violent spasm that looks as painful as it sounds.

"Next time I ask you to erase a set of files, perhaps you will see fit to obey me. I ask so little of you these days, Skinner. One would think you are deliberately trying to evoke my wrath. Perhaps you've gotten a taste for that sort of thing."

Spender deliberately blows a cloud of smoke directly into Skinner's eyes, smiling calmly as Skinner jerks his head aside. "Clean him up and take him back to work." Spender flicks his cigarette butt dismissively onto the floor beneath Skinner's feet, then turns and walks out of the room. I have long suspected it amuses him to think of Skinner in his office, in too much pain to do anything useful but too proud to give in and go home. To admit to his weakness. Occasionally Spender drops by to chat and leave a miasma of Morley in Skinner's office, then arranges something to goad Mulder into visiting Skinner with some complaint or other, just to watch Skinner trying to deal with his agony and Mulder at the same time. The office is bugged, of course. One of my jobs. Skinner knows this, and he hates it, but there's nothing he can do about it. It's all part of the package.

Why the fuck do you do this, Skinner? How can she possibly be worth this?

Of course, it isn't just Scully any more. Since all the old guard got fried at El Rico nobody much cares about the publicity value of one dead federal agent, even one as high profile as Mulder, and none of the new Project know Bill Mulder as more than a name, or care about his son. If Spender wanted Mulder dead nobody would object. So Skinner is held hostage by two living shackles and a bloodstream full of nanocytes. Spender's private one man entertainment source.

Everybody thinks they know what Spender really wants from Skinner, of course, but Skinner has so far chosen one hell of a lot of pain and humiliation over that. Spender could just have him tied, and then fuck him as long and as hard as he wants, but it wouldn't be the capitulation that Spender is holding out for. From the beginning, it was Skinner that Spender has wanted to dominate, but there is an unyielding core in Skinner that refuses to break, no matter how many times he is bent.

I release the ropes that bind Skinner's arms, and Skinner collapses to the floor, struggling up to his hands and knees with a labored manner that makes it look as if he is moving in slow motion. I can smell the pungent scent of fresh urine. //Fuck. It was the last one that did it, wasn't it? You poor bastard.// Spender was really fucking furious this time. I'm surprised that Skinner is still conscious, but today is Monday, after all, and Spender hates to violate his own rules.

"Lie down, Skinner," I order, keeping my voice as monotone as I can.

"Fuck you, Krycek." Skinner props himself up, hands flat on the ground to give himself better support.

It has almost become a ritual. I give orders and Skinner fights them, knowing that with a single word I could have a dozen men in to manhandle him into any position I deem "necessary". Knowing that he is completely in my power in this room once Spender leaves. Spender only has two rules regarding Skinner; no anal penetration, and no injuries that will show at work. Anything short of that, any humiliation or torment is allowed according to the whims of his current "handler".

Skinner knows that, but it doesn't stop him from fighting, if only to prove that he still can.

"Okay, Skinner, you want this the hard way? Suits me." I gather up a length of rope and approach the man, watching as Skinner staggers to his feet, fists clenched, prepared to fend me off. The anger in Skinner's eyes is diluted by pain and the dawning physical shock of his beating. He is just going through the motions of resistance, unwilling to submit to me even though he knows it will bring an easing of his pain.

Skinner swings at me as I move in close, a glancing blow that I take on my left shoulder. Fuck, that hurts. My stump is more sensitive than a normal shoulder would be. I yank Skinner hard, sending him sprawling on the ground and with a speed honed over many years of fighting to survive I have the big man's arms pulled up and lashed together behind his back. Hard to do with the prosthesis, but Skinner isn't in any shape to put up much of a fight. Not surprising after the beating I've just given him.

I linger for a moment, feeling the hard, muscular heat of Skinner's thighs radiating out, feeling the rage coiled in Skinner's muscles. I half expect the man to struggle beneath me, and find myself a little disappointed when Skinner merely lays passive. //You are one pathetic little shit, Krycek.//

"You enjoy this, don't you?" Skinner's voice rasps, his breathing labored.

"Yeah. I do." It's the truth. Almost.

Skinner sags. There is a look in his eyes, as if his last door has just been closed.

For a moment I can't breath. //Don't look like that. Please, Skinner. You'll never know it, but I'm doing the best that I can.//

"I thought...so. You don't get off on hurting or...humiliating me like the others did." It was a painfully open observation, and I can see how much it costs Skinner just to make it. "Is it just the struggle? Or...me?"

"This is a very strange conversation to be having here like this, Skinner." I try to distance himself emotionally, aware that my heart is beating with an almost painful intensity and the erection straining against my jeans is giving me away for the sick fuck that I am. I dismount from Skinner with a single fluid motion.

"I suppose," Skinner says wearily. "But I'm so tired, Krycek. I'm so tired of waiting and not knowing when, or what. Just tell me what you want. You want to rough me up a little? You want me angry? That won't be hard. I'll play this however you want. I won't beg, though. And I won't suck you off."

I nearly stumble as a wave of sheer sexual heat chases Skinner's remark across my groin. I pick up my handy backpack handler kit and carry it back to Skinner, setting it down beside him and fumbling with the straps. //However you want.// I force a chuckle as I extract a jar of aloe salve, and settle myself cross legged beside Skinner. I school my voice to indifference. "If you won't suck me off and Spender won't let me fuck you, what exactly is it that you think you're offering, Skinner?" I twist off the lid, remove my glove and gather a generous fingerful of the cream and begin spreading it across Skinner's reddened back.

Skinner's eyes mirror his sudden despair. "I thought I was giving it to you. I struggle until...I can't struggle any more and then you...let me go."

My fingers suddenly still mid-stroke. "That's why you fight me, Skinner? Because you think I want you to?" I can't keep the edge of panic from my voice. Fuck. This is so twisted. How did we ever come to this?

"Don't you?"

//Don't you?// Yes. I do. But not because I enjoyed hurting him, not because I want to see him humbled. Because I know that when he stops struggling it will be because he is dead.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything, should I? Fuck." Suddenly the trembling is back, in waves that break over Skinner's helpless body. His bound hands jerk impotently against the ropes that bind them.

We've been doing this dance for so long; in some warped way his pain has become my pain, and there is only one easing I can think to give him. I shove the backpack and salve aside and scramble up on my knees. "Easy, Skinner," I whisper. I touch the back of Skinner's neck, the only unmarked expanse of skin I have easy access to. My thumb traces soothing little circles over the slight undulations of Skinner's upper vertebrae, and the stubble of his neck. "It's okay. Relax. Don't assume that you understand what I want, though. You don't know me well enough for that."

The tremors gradually subside. Skinner's eyes stare out across the floor, half lidded and dull. "Will you tell me, then, or am I supposed to guess?"

"I'll tell you." I fight to keep my voice even. //Fuck, Skinner, you have no idea what you do to me. What power you could have over me if you only realized it. What do I want? What do I tell you?// "I want...obedience."

"Obedience? What do you mean?" There is a spark of hostility kindling in Skinner's voice, and the sound of it warms me immensely. //The anger will bring him out of shock much more quickly. He needs to get warm, though. And a shower.// "Just what I said. I tell you to do something and you do it."

"Fuck you, Krycek! I'm not catering to your sick little slaveboy fantasies."

I can't help chuckling. "Well," I say, "you did ask. Besides," I reach back for the salve. "If I tell you to do something and you really don't want to, you can always say no."

"I suppose." Skinner takes a quiet breath, and tries surreptitiously to ease the discomfort of his position.

"Okay, then. That's the deal. No guessing games. No macho bullshit. I tell you to lie on the floor and you do it. I tell you to sit still and you do it. I tell you to take a shower..."

"...and I do it. I get the idea, Krycek. You don't have to rub it in. I know I smell like piss." Skinner's voice is tightly controlled.

"And you don't fight me. Whatever I do to you, you don't fight me."

"You're insane."

"Yeah. That's what they tell me. I had an alien in my body once, you know," I confide. "Mulder probably told you. If he knew. I think he suspected. In Hong Kong. The car crash. Never mind, not important."

Now Skinner is looking uncertain. "Are you trying to creep me out, Krycek?"

I laugh outright. It's such a Skinner thing to say, so straightforward and honest. "Yeah, Skinner. I'm just fucking with you." I lean over him, working at the knots I just finished tying. "I'm going to take these off now. Then you're going to sit up and let me finish with what I'm doing."

Skinner absorbs this with an almost thoughtful air as he waits for me to finish loosing him. He gives a pained grunt as his arms slip to the ground.

"Stay still," I order, and I experience a small spurt of pleasure when Skinner obediently stills. I spend a few moments massaging his shoulders to work out the muscles cramps. "Now sit up."

Skinner struggles into a sitting position, his legs poking stiffly out before him.

"Can you sit cross legged?"

"Not easily. I was never very flexible."

I give a snort of laughter. "I think you underestimate yourself, Skinner. Okay, flex your legs and bend forward. Arms around your legs...tuck your head. That's good." I position Skinner's body to be as comfortable as I can, thrilling to the quiet submission that he is showing. Daringly, I steal a moment to run my hand lightly down the length of his spine, enjoying the sudden, wary tension that stiffens his back. I like keeping Skinner on edge, sometimes. Tense, and relax. Tense, and relax. Deeper and deeper, Skinner. One day you'll let yourself fall back into me...

//What the fuck are you thinking, you little shit? Spender's holding your strings. You don't even fucking think about doing things like that to Skinner. He's got enough fucking nooses around his neck already. Don't put yours there too. He doesn't deserve that.//

I smear the cream across Skinner's welts, working it gently in, reveling in the fact that I don't have to hide my pleasure in the act, enjoying the feel of Skinner's warm flesh beneath my fingers, enjoying the scent of the man. I lean forward into the heady combination of Brut and aloe and Skinner-sweat.

By the time I am finished, Skinner has gone completely limp. His breathing is deep and even. I wonder if he has fallen asleep. "Skinner?"

"Yes." Skinner's chest rises and falls in a long sigh.

"Time to go. I'll take you home so you can shower and change."

I watch him rise to his feet. Not particularly graceful nor fluid, there is a sense of leashed power about the man. His movements are abrupt and precise, thrusting him upright, a sudden breathtaking flexing of the powerful muscles. I stand, enjoying the view until Skinner turns to stare at me questioningly. I rummage through the pack, bringing out a t-shirt. "Here...put this on. You don't want to get this shit all over your dress shirt. I know how much dry cleaning costs."

Skinner stiffly drags the shirt on over his head, thrusting his arms into the short sleeves.

Silently, I catch my breath. It is black, and tight, clearly outlining every rippling muscle. A sprinkling of salt and pepper hair shows above the scooped neckline. It looks every bit as good on Skinner as I knew it would.

"Something wrong?"

"Little tight...on you." //Breathe, Alex.// "You're a little wider in the chest than I am."

"It feels fine."

"Let's get going, then. I've got a schedule to keep. Here, carry this." Kicking the backpack at Skinner, I stride past him, hearing the rustle as he lifts the pack and falls in step behind me. //What are you doing, you dumbfuck? Going to his apartment? Hanging around while he showers? If Spender finds out...//

What is Spender likely to do? It's hard to say. I've never been able to predict the old man's moves. Hell of a chess player. I can't even be certain that this seeming obsession with Skinner is anything more than another of his manipulations, though it is hard to predict who it is aimed at. Is he setting Skinner up to look like some kind of weakness of Spender's, inviting one of his enemies to strike, thereby revealing himself?

A savage knife thrust of fear tears into my gut. It would be just like the old man, the fucking cunning ruthless heartless...

I've always secretly suspected that Spender was behind the El Rico massacre. Especially since it leaves him as the oldest and most powerful of a reduced but still to-be-feared secret organization. The old man allowed his wife to be tortured and driven insane, and cold- bloodedly shot his own son, just because Jeffrey wouldn't allow himself to be controlled any more.

I've always been careful to make it clear to Spender that I'm willing to be held on his leash, ever since the silo. I still have nightmares about it, but it taught me obedience and because of it Spender allows me more freedom than his other lackeys are allowed. It makes me hated and resented, but it also makes me feared and obeyed. There are always compensations.

I press my thumb against the identi-pad and throw my weight against the door when the green LED lights up. Gun drawn, I slip down the dark stairwell to the basement, always expecting trouble, always alert. There is no such thing as safe, nowhere that an enemy can't get to you. Or a friend. That snarky little saying has it all wrong. A friend is just an enemy whose price hasn't been met.

My car is waiting for me on the second floor. Black, sleek, smoked windows, V8, power fucking everything. Top of the line stereo and security system. Like I said...compensations.

Whenever Skinner is summoned to his office, Spender always insists that he be driven to and back by his handler. There's no good reason for it, just another way to make Skinner feel helpless. Take away a man's car and you steal half his power, someone once said. I don't know if I'd go that far, but there's at least a kernel of truth in it.

I pop the locks and slide in. Skinner settles himself without comment, buckling up the seatbelt but leaving himself enough play that he can lean slightly forward in the seat.

His back probably still hurts like hell, but he's bearing up well. It's going to be one fucking long day at the office, though.


He lets us into his apartment, and I can't help throwing a glance at the glass panel taking up one wall of the living room, and at the iron balcony outside. He notices the direction of my gaze and gives a short, humorless laugh.

"I'm still thinking warm thoughts, Skinner," I tell him, just to see if he'll flinch.

He doesn't, just grunts and disappears into the kitchen. After a while he reappears, with a half filled bottle of scotch and two glasses. He sets them down on the table, pours about an inch into each and hands me one. I can smell from his breath that he's already been sampling the goods.

I take it, wondering what's gotten into him. He doesn't usually drink this early in the day, and never before work.

"To the good old days," he taps his glass to mine and throws back the scotch in a single gulp, wincing at the burn.

I sip at mine a bit more cautiously. "What good old days? I wasn't aware that we had any."

"The good old days," he repeats. He gestures toward the balcony. "When you still had both arms, and I still had my balls."

The anger that burns in me at his casual reference to my mutilation is diluted by his obvious self mockery. I say nothing, because there is nothing to say. He's right. Like the saying should go; every day in every way things are getting worse and worse... That makes every day before today the good old days.

I should probably go, but...I don't want to. I'm tired, and Skinner's drinking, and he doesn't act as if he wants me to leave. I wonder if I could get him drunk enough that he wouldn't remember in the morning. All my survival instincts are screaming at me in panic, but there's something in me screaming even louder, something that burns worse than the scotch. A hurting kind of burn, but one that feels so good at the same time.

I sip slowly, wondering what he's thinking. What he's planning. If anything.

He slowly drains his glass and pours himself another, disappearing into the kitchen for a while before reappearing with his empty glass. "You aren't drinking, Krycek. Don't like my scotch?"

He's in a strange mood. It makes me a little uneasy. The one thing I've been able to count on in my dealings with Skinner has been his predictability, his strong sense of self. I suppose every man has his breaking point, though.

"Someone's got to be fit to drive when you're done beating up your liver."

He gives a non-committal grunt and refills his glass, and I watch as he sips it, hardly even aware of what he's doing. His attention is turned inwards, contemplating his own private hell. The hell we share, though he doesn't know that, of course. He thinks he's alone, and I intend to keep it that way. Anything else would be...worse...than hell.

He shifts slightly, trying to get comfortable. The cut I gave him is probably starting to sting from the salt of his sweat, his back probably aches like a son of a bitch, and he smells like piss.

Why do you let him do this to you, Walter?

"Why? You know why, Krycek."

I give a little jerk of surprise. I hadn't even been aware that I'd been speaking aloud. Fuck. Anger at my own carelessness makes me snap at him. "Yeah. Our two prize agents. I will say this for you, Walt, you are soooo fucking dedicated to your job. And your job is sooo dedicated to fucking you. Or are you hoping to get lucky with the little redhead some day? Hell of a price for a piece of ass, Walt."

Skinner's fury burns white hot for an instant, then melts strangely to ash. "It's not like that, Krycek. Don't judge everybody by your own standards."

Every nerve in my body comes on the alert. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"You heard me." Skinner stares at me challengingly. "I have eyes, Krycek. I saw the way your eyes used to follow Mulder around. Mulder probably never noticed," he takes another sip of his scotch, "but I did."

I relax. Mulder's neutral ground as far as I'm concerned. "Yeah. Well. Mulder never really noticed anything but himself and his own problems. Hyper-focus. Made him a highly effective agent, but he'd have made a lousy lover. He was pretty, though. Still is."

"I suppose," Skinner agrees reflectively. "Not my cup of tea."

"You like women better?"

"I was married for nineteen years."

//That's not an answer, Walter.// I watch him in silence, brooding. What do I really know about Skinner? Other than the fact that he's so damned hot I thought my tie was going to catch fire the first time I shook hands with my new boss, way back when I was just-graduated Agent Krycek. Other than the fact that Skinner is willing to allow himself to be tortured and humiliated to protect the lives of his agents.

//That could have been me, if I hadn't made the choices I did. If I had stayed squeaky clean Agent Krycek he'd have laid himself down beneath the stroke of Spender's whip for me, too.// I take another sip of scotch, forcing it down past the tightness in my throat. //I hate them. God, I hate them for taking for granted what he goes through to protect them.//

"I'm not sure, anymore, sometimes. It all seemed so clear in the beginning. I believed in what they were doing. I thought..." Skinner's mouth curves in a smile filled with self-mockery "...that if I only paid the price that was asked, sacrificed enough they would eventually come to trust me." He lets out a long breath, and his eyes turn sad. "I'm tainted, though. Tainted by association, tainted by choice. They'll never see beyond that. And maybe they shouldn't. So they continue their fight without me, and I try to cover for them as best I can. If I'd erased the files Spender ordered me to, hundreds of people would have died before Mulder caught that murderous bastard. The Consortium doesn't care about that, of course. It just wants to hide its dirty laundry." He swirls the scotch around and around, a tiny whirlpool in a curved glass prison. "If I stop fighting, someone else will be put in my place. Probably someone hand-picked by Spender." He snorts. "Someone who knows how to do what he's told. I keep paying the price because if I give up now, everything I've accomplished and every price I've paid up to this point will have been for nothing."

//I keep paying the price...yeah...I hear you there, Skinner. Isn't it funny, the sort of shit life throws at you? I could almost believe in karma.//

"You want to know why I put up with this, Krycek? Why I let Spender and his pack of sadistic lapdogs treat me like shit?" Skinner's eyes met mine, solemnly, and without a trace of self-pity. "Because it's the right thing to do. Sometimes, that's all that gets me out of bed in the morning." His look turns suddenly thoughtful. "How about you, Krycek? Why do you stay? Is it the money, or the power trip? Or are you going to tell me that you don't have a choice, that there's only one way out of the Consortium and that's in a pine box? Or maybe it's the thrill of running around in a black leather jacket shooting people."

He's drunk. What has he had...three, no, four? Four and a half. Fuck...Spender's going to kill me. I can't take him to work like this.

"No? None of them? I thought I'd covered all the bases. Is there something I'm missing, Krycek?"

//Everything. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.// I rise, and stalk across the floor, trying to look menacing. "You've had enough of this, Skinner." I pluck the glass from his fingers, and he doesn't even try to stop me. "You seem to have lost most of your native caution. Maybe a cold shower is in order." Not that the shower is going to make him any better able to function, but the thought of him, with that wet black shirt plastered to his chest, his nipples erect beneath the cold spray...

//Fuck.// I surreptitiously check to make sure my jacket is pulled down far enough to hide the direction of my thoughts. Besides, I want to see how far he'll go. How much he'll put up with from me.

Skinner is gazing up at me, his eyes unreadable. I want to drown in them, to pay whatever it costs to have him. He'll never really be mine, though.

"On your feet, Skinner. Now."

Still without a ripple of emotion, he rises to his feet. I could come just from watching him move like that, all control and precise movement. I almost couldn't do it, that day at the boxing ring. To bring him low like that, to watch that powerful body crumple into helplessness. I'm not him, though. I'm not willing to suffer the cost of defying Spender. I'm not proud of that, but like to think there's some virtue in honesty, at least.

"Bathroom," I order, and wait, tension bunching the muscles of my shoulders, to see what he will do.

The steadiness of his gaze never wavers. "Are you sure you want to do this, Krycek?"

My pulse beats a frantic warning against the leather of my collar. I must be insane. "We had a deal, Skinner. Don't fuck with me." I can't seem to bring myself to stop, though. I'm helpless to deny what he offers, all unconsciously.

Skinner's lips twitch. "I can't help it, Krycek. You're just so damned fuckable. You always were."

He turns away from me, which is a good thing because my knees are buckling to the point that I have to sit down. I toss back the rest of his scotch, then realize, too late, that it was a really dumb thing to do.

Skinner thinks I'm fuckable? I set down the glass before it can slip from my suddenly trembling fingers.

How the fuck did I let this happen? I've always been so careful. Never touching him without a good reason. Never going easy on him unless I can hide it somehow. Spender has guessed, he's too canny a bastard not to have, but Skinner..? He hates me. He fucking has to. I'm the one who lays his back open with Spender's whip, I'm the voice and hand of the man he hates above all else, I even killed him once.

He hates me. I chant the words like a mantra. They're all that can save me, can force me to leave now, before I do something that's going to get me killed. Or worse. He hates me and I want him and I am so fucked, so eternally fucked...

Why is he doing this to me? Normally I'm a pretty sharp guy when it comes to figuring out peoples' motives. Comes with the territory. For some reason, though, my mind just keeps turning in circles like a dog in a box and I can't think of anything at all except the memory of his words, and the taste of his scotch on my tongue.

He's waiting for me, standing in the doorway. I can't lie to myself any more. He knows exactly what he's doing. He knows where this is leading. I just don't know how far, or why, and I'm not sure which question is more important. Though, I know which one should be.

I compose myself before I stand up. I should walk out the door, now. He'll still know...it will be an obvious and ignominious retreat, but at least...

I can't. I'm not strong enough anymore. Like him, I'm...worn down.

Does he see that in me? A kindred spirit, in a twisted, villainous sort of way? Or does he just see an opportunity, a weakness that he can exploit in one of his enemies?

He's still waiting, and I guess I'm just putting off the inevitable. My decision was never really in doubt.

He precedes me down the short hall and into the master bedroom, left turn into a bathroom. I've seen it before, all blue tile and masculine decor. Mulder shoved me in here for a few minutes before he dragged me off to Tunguska to get my arm cut off. Thanks, Mulder.

With the casual confidence of a man who isn't ashamed of his body, Skinner strips off the shirt and reaches down to unzip his slacks. The whip marks have faded to a faint blush; Spender chooses his whips for pain rather than damage. His stripes don't seem to be bothering Skinner much as he bends at the waist, letting the slacks slide down to puddle on the floor. His back muscles ripple as he straightens.

I can't look away. He knows it, too, the bastard. He's putting on quite a show. What the hell is going through his mind?

He reaches into the shower and turns the water on. If it was any other man standing there, dressed in nothing but stained briefs and ankle socks he'd be looking ridiculous, but Skinner just looks...like a god. I get to see his naked back frequently, but this is the first time I've gotten a good look at the rest. He's got nice legs, a swell of muscle high in the calf, a fighter's leg, not a runner's, and a powerful pair of thighs. I have sudden vision of them wrapped around my head and the thought spikes directly down into my cock.

The anticipation of it steals my breath. The tight briefs don't hide much, but there is something unbearably erotic about the thought of seeing the naked line of his back, smooth and unbroken from shoulder to buttock to bare feet. I've given up trying to pretend that what he's doing isn't arousing me. I'm so hard I must have a zipper print running up the side of my dick by now.

I used to watch him, in his tailored suit, day after day, so formal and controlled. I used to dream of seeing him stripped, of seeing the anger boil away his emotional armor. Not because I wanted to see him brought low, but because I wanted to see him. Naked. To see the man beneath the suit, beneath the A.D.

Be careful what you wish for. Now that I see it on a regular basis, see him stripped down and emotionally violated, I carry a hell of a load of guilt. I know it isn't my fault but it seems like it is, because I wanted it and now it's happening and I hate myself for getting hard every time I see him lying there on the floor, hurting, helpless, in my power. It almost makes up for what I have to do to put him there.

He tests the water, then looks at me. "Cold enough?" he asks. The message is plain; whatever happens here, in this room and in the other, is under my control. My responsibility.

I can feel the chill of it from where I'm standing. He can't be looking forward to this. If he goes in there after the beating he's taken his muscles will seize up and he knows it. Not to mention the fact that fact that he'll be shivering and chilled to the bone.

I'm his 'handler'. It's a sick little game Spender plays with those who he's got enough on to force them to play, but who wouldn't do so willingly. I started out with a handler, too, way back in the beginning, back when I was barely out of Quantico. He had shit on me that might have gotten me kicked out of the F.B.I. if it had been made public. Some dumb kid thing that barely registers on my radar any more. If I'd known back then what I know now I'd have told him to get fucked. I didn't, though, and with every act I committed at his orders I just sank deeper and deeper.

My handler, Jack, was a sadistic piece of shit who taught me to deep throat without gagging, how to give a killer massage, and other useful party tricks, and nearly crippled me once by leaving me tied up for almost an entire day after a whipping. He said he was drunk, but it might just have been forgetfulness.

I shot him through the back of the head three times, a few years ago. It was my reward from Spender for doing his old friend and former partner, Bill. That was the night I graduated from handlee to handler, and the night I learned that CGB Spender is a truly cold blooded son of a bitch.

Skinner waits impassively for my judgement. It can't be pleasant, thinking about climbing into that frigid spray. He knows Spender will be pissed if I cramp him up and don't get him back in working order by the end of the day, but he's...daring me. Testing me.

It's something I would have done in his place. Something I did do. Jack was easy. All he wanted was a tight hole and someone to do shit to when he was pissed. Did I say easy? I meant the mechanics of it were easy. The reality was...something I have trouble forcing myself to think about, even now. Looking back, I can see why Spender gave me to Jack. I was a cocky little bastard, full of education and pride and just enough idealism to be self righteous. Jack taught me things about myself and others that I never would have been able to face otherwise. Not pleasant, but I survived.

My face is starting to get damp from the fine, cold mist filling the bathroom. I cross the floor and reach past Skinner to crank the handle to the left. My shoulder bumps against him, and from this position I notice that he's not erect.

I don't know why I expected him to be. I'm not his friend or his agent, or even a guy he picked up in a bar last night. I wish to hell I was...at least I'd have a chance with him. I'm just a leash around his neck.

I need to be honest with myself, or this will kill me. What he's doing is a calculated attempt to pad the collar, to introduce some give into the leash. I can't blame him for that. I can't.

The spray turns warm, steam replacing the mist. Our eyes meet, and I can't guess what he's seeing in mine. His are guarded, perhaps with a slight edge of bitterness. He knows how far he's fallen already into the pit that Spender makes us dig for ourselves. He knows what he's doing, and he knows I do as well. And he knows I'll let him.

He just doesn't know why.

I'm going to let him, because then it will give me an excuse. I'm going to give him something to hold over my head, because it will give him back a little control over his life. I'm going to give him a strong motive for wanting to keep me, for working to convince Spender that I have everything under control. He knows that if he fights me too determinedly Spender will just reassign him; he's gone through five handlers already.

I retreat to the doorway. "Take a hot shower, get yourself clean. I'll be in the bedroom."

He doesn't bother nodding, just strips off his socks and takes down his briefs. I can't look away. God, he's beautiful. It isn't just his physique, impressive though that is, it's my knowledge of the man himself. It's the sense of controlled power that surrounds him like a cloud of supercharged pheromones. The best lovers are the ones who can stay in control, even in the heat of passion. Who only lose that control when they choose, as a gift to their lovers. At least, that's what I'm told.

He steps into the shower and pulls the glass door shut. Still I watch him, a pale, smudged figure moving beneath the spray, my memory filling in the details that my eyes no longer need. After so long, I know him by heart. I know the way he carries himself, the rhythm of his walk, the way he moves. I know that he twists to the left when he throws a roundhouse. I know how much power he can put into a punch, and how much he held back that day that Mulder dragged me to his apartment for 'safekeeping'. I know how hard his stomach muscles are. I know how his face twists in the extremes of pain, the shape of his fists clenched in impotent fury, the open, vulnerable look of relief when it's all over, when the whipping is finished, or the day is done and everyone is still alive. I never wanted these memories, and yet I cherish them and sometimes I hate myself for that, too.

I wonder what he'd do if I stripped down to my t-shirt and pulled open the shower door and thrust myself beneath the cascading water with him. If I took the soap from his broad, sure hands and worked up a lather and took possession of his body with my fingers. No, I don't really wonder. I know.

He'd let me do it, allow my control over him, putting away whatever aversion he might be experiencing during the process, knowing that every act I exercise hands him a little more power over me. He's got to know...why else would he be allowing this?

My balls are starting to ache. I turn away, and retreat into the bedroom. It's a spartan enclosure for a man whose life is contained elsewhere. Just a bed. A dresser. A nightstand. I check the drawer; paper, letters, pens, photographs. No condoms or lube.

Maybe it's a sign. I didn't bring anything with me, and I won't ask him to trust me that way. I'm pretty sure I'm clean, but he has no reason to believe that.

Disappointment gives way to relief. I can almost feel that the decision has been taken out of my hands. He'll know, of course, what it is that I really want; my erection alone would have told him that, even if I hadn't just spent the last ten minutes staring at him with my own need practically bleeding from my pathetic eyes. Perhaps this evidence of my own self control will reassure him. Perhaps not.


The sound of the shower shuts off, and I hear the shower door click open. I imagine him stepping out, reaching for a towel, water glistening and dripping down his skin. My mouth is suddenly dry, and I imagine what it would taste like, licking the warm drops from his body. Then the bathroom door shuts, and I hear a small click, as of a door being locked.

Does he merely need privacy to answer the call of nature, or is he in there making preparations? Another wave of heat shudders through me at the thought.

Will he stride out naked, without guile or pretense, or will he find some reason to emerge, wrapped only in a towel, to allow me...to force me...to take responsibility for what he expects to happen?

If I knocked on the door, would he let me in? Not that I would invade his privacy that way. One of his first handlers used to do that to him, I know. Forced him to use the toilet in front of an audience. Gave him enemas when he refused to perform. I happen to know that was on Spender's orders, and everyone assumed it was because Spender was planning on fucking him.

The man I was, years ago, would have been horrified at the thought of working for a man like Spender, but time and familiarity have made me callous.

Spender is not a man who allows himself to be ruled by his emotions. It's one thing he and Skinner have in common; probably the only thing. It's also the reason I'm sure there's a lot more on his mind than fucking the ass of the one man who has resisted being broken by him, even after so many years of being controlled.

I'm losing track of my own resolution, and I find myself pacing. Unless I can get back under control, I'm about to cross a line that should never be crossed. Not by me. Spender values Assistant Director Skinner of the F.B.I. very highly, that much I am certain of. That's why he gave Skinner to me. He knows I'll never push Skinner past the point of what he can take, or leave him tied so long that it's days before the feeling entirely returns to his fingers.

But he expects me to maintain my ability to control him. If I lose that, he'll give Skinner to someone else, and that's why I need to give Skinner a reason to want to keep me. The power of blackmail. I won't even have to fake my fear...I don't like to think about what Spender will do to me if he finds out I broke one of his precious rules.

Fuck...I've just talked myself back into trouble again. How much control can I afford to lose, and what happens if I go too far? I pull the zipper of my jacket up a little farther, as if the heavy leather can armor me against my own desires.

He's taking an awful long time in there. A sudden, irrational fear strikes me. What if something I've done, or Spender has forced him to do, has pushed him over the edge? What if he's lying in there on the floor, blood pooling beneath his wrists?

I bang on the door. "Everything all right in there?"

"Fine." His voice is brusque. Tightly controlled. Not the voice of a man intent on ending his own existence. More like the voice of a man who is having a difficult bowel movement and he wishes like hell that I'd mind my own business.

Now I feel like a complete fool. As a distraction, I amuse myself by going through the suits in his closet. Nice. Very nice. He has an innate elegance and sense of style, or perhaps he just has a good tailor. There's one I particularly like, a sleek steel grey, almost black. I unsling the hanger and carry the suit to the bed, laying it carefully across the pillow. If that doesn't get the message across, nothing will.

He'll walk out of the bathroom and I'll casually gesture at the suit. Get dressed, I'll say as I walk back out to the living room and I'll wait for him and then I'll take him to work and everything will go on the way it was. He's going to be a little more relaxed than normal but with any luck no one will notice. I check the clock. Ten thirty. His secretary isn't expecting him until one. I'll take him by Denny's first, for a little breakfast and a few cups of coffee.

I turn, and he's standing there, framed by the doorway, like a painting; a work of art no mortal hand could have created. Flesh and blood and banked fire. Scattered drops of water still glisten on his arms, the towel wrapped so carelessly about his hips that I expect the very act of walking to loosen it so that it slides down...

His face is a mask of casual inquiry as he glances from the suit to me. He takes a step forward, and then another, until he is so close I imagine I can feel the burn of his body heat even through my jacket. "Well?" he says "What next? You're in charge, Krycek."

His nearness and his words turn my bones to water. His presence is the only thing that keeps me upright, like a satellite spinning out of control but still trapped within the gravity of the planet it orbits. I can't break free.

Get dressed. Two words would free me. I can't say them. Instead, as if my lips have suddenly developed a will of their own I hear myself whispering "Bed."

He turns and crosses the floor, dropping something onto the nightstand and reaching down to pick up the suit. He gazes at it for a moment, then at me. "I'm surprised you remembered," he remarks as he reaches up to hook the hanger on the end of the curtain rod.

At first I don't know what he's talking about, but then I do, with an ease that tells me it was what was in my mind all along. It's the suit he wore back in the days when I was Agent Krycek to him, back when I reported to him and called him 'sir'. Then he turns and pulls the towel away, tossing it to the ground as if it is the most natural thing in the world that he should be naked in front of me. He eases himself down onto the bed, leaning back against the headboard and swinging his legs up, his body a breathtaking temptation.

His arms hang loose at his sides, not even crossed; he's not trying to protect himself in any way. He's giving me the illusion of complete control, telling me that I can do anything I want to him.

//Breathe, Alex,// I remind myself when I realize I'm running out of air.

As I approach the bed I notice that the nightstand now holds lube and a condom. Just one.

He glances from it to me, and inquires casually "How do you want me, Krycek?"

I half-fall, half-crawl onto the bed because I know if I don't I'll be lying on the floor in a moment. He knows that what I'm about to do is going to let him slip a leash of his own around my neck, and he's got to know that I'm aware of that. When Spender makes a rule you fucking well don't violate it, not if you have any sense of self preservation at all.

"How do you want me?" he repeats. There's an edge to his voice I'm not sure how to interpret.

"This is fine," I tell him. "On your back."

His face goes rigid, then the mask is back. He's not pleased with my choice, but he accepts it as his part of our bargain. He scoots himself down until his head rests on the pillow. One leg is stretched out behind me, the other is drawn up to avoid crossing my legs.

We both know what this is going to cost. He's willing to pay his part of the price, but what I don't understand is how he knows that I am, as well. Have I been that fucking obvious? Yeah, I guess I have.

I take off my shoes and drop them to the floor, then go to unzip my jacket but I can't...I can't...I'm not ready to be naked on this bed before him. I'm not ready for him to see me. My arm, yeah, that's part of it. The scars. I've gotten used to ignoring what I see in the mirror every morning but that doesn't mean I'm unaware of what I look like.

He notices my hesitation and says harshly "You don't have to take anything off. Just unzip. I'll make it easy for you. And use the condom." He tosses the little packet at me, then draws his knees up.

His anus is glistening, already lubed. I get to my knees between his legs. He doesn't move, but only stares at the ceiling, holding his knees. My hand reaches for him, I can't help myself. I touch him gently, running my fingers through the prickly pubic hair, over the smooth skin of his cock, feeling the limp flesh lolling in my hand. He endures my touch without comment. I let him slip from my fingers and slide my hand lower, over his inner thigh, across the delicate, hairy sacs of his scrotum and between them, and down. I slip one finger inside him and he tenses involuntarily, then forces himself to relax. He's been thoroughly lubed. I add a second finger, then a third, barely penetrating the outer ring. His face is like stone but it doesn't seem to be causing him too much discomfort.

That's what he was doing, all that time in the bathroom. He was opening himself up, making himself ready for my cock. He didn't even trust me to take the time to prepare him first, just expects me to ram myself into him like a fucking rapist...

I pull away from him, wiping my fingers on my jeans, cursing myself because it suddenly hurts so fucking much that this is what he expected of me...

//...what the hell did you expect, you dumb fuck? You've forgotten what you are to him. You've forgotten what you've done to him...//

I can't do this. Why did I ever think I could? It will destroy me to let myself get this close to him.

//You pathetic little shit. Did you think all you had to do was give it to him up the ass and all would be forgiven?//

Sure, I could take the time. He's only human. I could work him with my tongue and my lips and my fingers and have him hard in no time. I could probably even bring him off, watch him spasm and writhe with my cock up his ass.

It wouldn't change a fucking thing, though, and he'd hate me all the more for what I made him do. Because he'd be afraid that I thought he wanted this.

Tears are trickling down my face, and I turn away so he won't see. I slide one leg down, reaching blindly for the floor, then stagger to my feet. "Get dressed. I'll be waiting to take you to work." My voice is hoarse, but there's nothing I can do about that. I hate to leave him like that, it's got to be humiliating, but have no strength left to make it easier.

Somehow, I make it to the living room and find a spot on the sofa. All I really want to do is curl up in a closet somewhere, or maybe go find Mulder so he can beat the shit out of me. Anything would make me feel better at this point.

Instead, I force myself to sit upright and cross my legs so that if he looks in on me it will seem as though I haven't a care in the world, but I just can't seem to stop that damning trickle of tears so I close my eyes and I try to think warm thoughts because I'm so cold inside...

After a moment I hear the floor vibrate at his approach.

Fuck, I think, but I don't dare let him see how much I'm hurting. I steel myself and open my eyes. "Get dressed, Skinner. I don't plan on waiting around all day and I don't plan on giving Spender a reason to cut my dick off."

He sits on the arm of the sofa. I can see that he's put on a bathrobe, dark blue silk that clings to the lines of his damp body.

He can't have missed the tear tracks and I am so fucked I can't stand it... "GodDAMN it Skinner, just get the fuck dressed!"

"Or what?"

//Or what?// He's hit upon the crux of the problem. We aren't in Spender's office any more. I'm all alone here. I've got one arm, he's got two. There's nothing I can do to force his obedience. I could lodge a complaint with Spender, but that's a sword that cuts both ways.

I don't have an answer. I can't move, can't breathe because I know if I do it will come out in a sob and I think I've already humiliated myself enough for one day. I wrap my arm over my head to hide my eyes and then I think //Jesus, Krycek, could you possibly have been any more obvious...// but it's too late to do anything about that now, so I just lie there and pray that he'll get bored enough to go away.

For a long time there is no sound but the rasp of my own breath.

"Shit." He sounds...weary. "This isn't what I expected from you, Krycek."

"I know." My throat has closed up so tight I'm lucky I have a voice at all. I guess there's not much point in trying to hide any longer, is there?

"I don't understand. I'm trying to give you what you want, Krycek. You know why I'm doing it, I'm not going to pretend otherwise. I'm...not good at pretending."

"You can't give me what I want." The words are out before I realize they are much too dangerous. Because I know what his next question is going to be.

It hangs in the silence between us, and I hear his breathing harshen. "Fuck. Krycek, you little shit. Don't do this to me."

I don't know what he's thinking and I'm afraid to ask. Can it be anything worse than the truth? "I'm sorry," I say, because I am and I always will be and maybe I won't have to tell him why...

He's suddenly on his feet and his fist slams down, a grab, not a punch. He shoves me back against the couch and I can see the rage in his eyes but I'm not afraid of him. There's nothing he can do to me that hurts worse than what I do to myself over and over, every time Spender uses me against him.

"Damn you, Krycek! It isn't enough for you to order me around like a dog, to undermine my authority, to steal my dignity from me in every way possible...now you're trying to take away the one thing I had left to hold on to." He pulls me against himself, then slams me back into the headrest. "Do you expect me to forgive you for what you've done? Just because you have...feelings...about me? You sick little shit...you beat me until I lost control of my bladder this morning. I pissed all over myself, like a..." His voice is hoarse with rage and humiliation. "How can you even pretend to be a human being?"

He yanks me off the couch and hurls me to the floor, standing over me with fists clenched, his face contorted with anguish.

All I want to do is curl up in a fetal position and beg for his mercy, to tell him why I have to hurt him, but I won't do that to him. I won't. I disguise my pain as rage, and force myself to snarl "I told you, Skinner. Don't assume you know what I want. You're not willing to play my game...fine. We'll go back to business as usual." I rise to my feet and step back out of his reach, my face a perfect mask once more, my insides screaming for something I refuse to allow.

His stance shifts slightly, uncertain and slightly lost. "I don't understand."

No, you don't. It's the only thing I can give you. "You don't need to understand. Just do what you're told. You're too fucking drunk to drive yourself to work, and I've got better things to do than wait around until you sober up, you pathetic shit. Stay home. That's an official order. If you disobey it, I'll have to bring it to Spender's attention, and you know where you'll end up. I'll tell him you're sick."

"Don't do me any favors, Krycek." His sneer lacks certainty. He's still a little bewildered, as if the ground isn't quite stable beneath his feet.

"I won't. I'd just as soon he not know what a fucking lush you are, or I'll probably end up having to monitor your cupboards for alcohol. Like I said, I have better things to do with my time." I stalk to the door, throw it open. "Get your act together by tomorrow, Skinner, or you'll be sorry."

I slam the door behind me, and the finality of it severs my last hope. My legs grow heavier with every step, but I force myself to keep moving. I need to get out of sight, at least. Somewhere dark. Somewhere I can hide, and let the pain gnaw away until I'm empty inside, until I've gone beyond the hurting and the wishing and the shattered fantasies.

Somehow, I have to find the strength to face him tomorrow, and every day, for the rest of our lives. It helps a little, knowing that this is something I can share with him, even if he doesn't know it. If he can endure for them, I can endure for him.

It helps.


I open my door and look out. No sign of Krycek in the hall. The elevator isn't moving, and it hasn't been long enough for him to have reached the ground floor if he'd gone that route. That means he took the stairs.

I make my way down the empty hallway to the door to the stairwell. Good thing the floor is empty; I'd feel a little silly being caught out here in my towel. Not that I haven't been in more embarrassing situations, wearing less. I turn the doorknob carefully and open the door as silently as I can.

Krycek is huddled at the bottom of the straightway, his arm wrapped tightly around the metal bars. Poor little shit. I close the door again, leaving him alone there, leaving him with the illusion that he's succeeded in his attempt to fool me.

I'd like to say he's a much better assassin than he is a liar, but I don't think it's true. He's normally an excellent liar. I guess his heart just wasn't in this one. He tried, though.

I want to join him down there, to put my arms around him and tell him that I understand. I really do. It's something that I've suspected for some time, something in his eyes. His sneer is just too desperate, at times, his face too much a mask. If he truly enjoyed causing me pain he'd have nothing to hide.

It never even occurred to me, what he really wanted. Not until he ran. He was expecting to make love to me, and I offered him a fuck.

I'd like to pull him to his feet and bring him back upstairs, to my bedroom. To let him make love to me. I suspect he'd be a very considerate lover, incongruous as that might seem, considering his chosen profession. He's conscientious and careful. His hands can be...gentle. I don't think I've ever met anyone better than he is at reading people.

I'm not bad at that, myself, and he's not all that hard to read right now. I could break him with my pity. If I went to him and offered him another chance to compromise himself, he wouldn't be able to resist, especially if I was willing to admit that I'm not at all indifferent to him. He'd get what he wants, and I'd have what I want. Fair exchange.

Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I wonder how I can live with what I've become. What I've let myself be made into. How strange, to suddenly realize that that's something I have in common with a man who has dedicated his life to hurting me.

No, it's not pity that I feel. Closer to sympathy, I think. We're both in hell.

I turn, and walk back to my apartment.

It's the only thing I can give him.

The End