RATales Archive


by Satina

Title: Angelface
Author: themkshrine@yahoo.com (Satina)
Website: http://themkshrine.angelfire.com/satina.html
Rating: NC-17
Keywords: M/K RST, M/Sc RST, K/Sc UST, slash, sex, violence, rape, Krycek!Torture, Hurt/Comfort
Disclaimer: They're mine. Alllllll mine.
Summary: Following the events of Paper Clip, Mulder finds Krycek bleeding and broken. Scully does what she can to save his body...can Mulder save his soul?
Warning: This story contains some graphically violent, potentially offensive elements, including rape, brutality, and graphic descriptions of severe trauma. PLEASE don't read it if you think you can't or don't want to be subjected to this. It's only in the beginning, and I make up for the hurt with some nice comfort, and I don't give you any terribly sad ending, so don't worry too much. Again, sorry to spoil it for some of you, but I like to know what I'm getting into.
Archive: Ask and ye shall receive.
Spoilers: Sleepless, Ascension, One Breath, Anasazi, The Blessing Way, and Paper Clip.
Beta thanks go out to my beta-buddy, Jami, and my beta-baby, Shan.
Feedback: I really need it on this one. It was a demon in my brain, scratching to get out. Ewww...that sounds gross. themkshrine@yahoo.com

"So, what's this about a lead on Alex Krycek?"

"Well, we certainly weren't looking for him here, and we never expected anything like this to turn up, but with all the wanted pictures of this guy all over the offices and the fact that he uh...well, screwed the bureau, a lot of people know that pretty-boy face. He was recognized by more than one of our guys."

"And..." Mulder appeared to be getting very tired of all the song and dance. Just give me my lead, dammit, and let me get out there and strangle him.

"Well, it's probably best you see for yourself."

Mulder narrowed his eyes and said nothing. Agent Dawson got up and took a VHS cassette from his desk and popped it into the VCR. The flickering image was above home video, but below professional, quality. Mulder squinted and leaned in just slightly. He watched a large, naked man walk across the screen, half-erect cock bouncing.

Mulder's brows raised, wondering what the hell amateur porn had to do with Consortium business. The middle-aged 'star' of the show was dogged by the camera as he walked across what looked like a corner of a warehouse or an abandoned store front. Mulder frowned and looked at Dawson, who only gestured toward the screen with his head With an eyebrow raise and a sigh, Mulder turned back to the small T. V.

The paunch-bellied 'star', who looked more like a half-bald banker than a skinflick celebrity, was walking toward another figure, who appeared to be a young man, much more attractive, also nude, chained to the wall. He looked unconscious, head hanging low on his chest. His arms were held up high against the wall, secured in heavy shackles which were attached to a thick chain that hung from an unseen point above him. He appeared to have similar restraints on both ankles, joined by a short, fat chain running between them.

He had either been beaten badly or was made up to appear so, with dark purple splotches over most of his torso and much of his legs and arms, and scrapes and cuts of all sizes from chest to feet. Mulder frowned at how real they appeared. The other man walked over to the man on the wall, stroking his lengthening erection absently. He reached out and grabbed the man by his sweaty, overly long dark brown hair and yanked his head up, bouncing the back of his head against the wall.

Mulder's lips parted on a quiet gasp.

Long-lashed eyes rolled in their sockets, plump, swollen, bleeding lips parting on a quiet grunt, but the young man held his head up, appearing barely conscious. Pot-belly stroked his hand down the side of the young man's face, almost gently, then suddenly and viciously backhanded him, sending blood spraying from the young man's cut and bleeding lips.

It was pretty obvious this wasn't faked. Which meant that that wasn't makeup covering the young man's body from head to toe. Mulder swallowed hard and shifted in his seat. He watched the larger man grab Krycek by the hair again, holding his face in place for a crushing kiss. It was obvious there was no participation, other than submission, from the man chained to the wall. His penis was flaccid, hanging against his mottled thigh. The 'star' of the show then pulled his face off Krycek's and grabbed him roughly by the hips, yanking him to the side. He didn't say anything, just smiled lasciviously and licked the blood from his lips. He slapped Krycek up against the wall, his back now facing us, and it was worse than his front, covered with wide, bleeding stripes to the point that more skin was damaged than not. Only his buttocks appeared to be spared, though they were bruised to the point that Mulder shifted once again in his seat, imagining how it would feel to try to sit on such harshly treated flesh.

"See what I mean?" Dawson raised his brows and indicated the screen. Mulder nodded slowly without looking away. But as the banker grabbed his erection with one hand and braced himself on the bleeding back with the other, Mulder looked up quickly.

"Shut it off." His voice came out low and hoarse. Dawson quickly punched the off button, ejecting the tape and handing it to Mulder. He took it wordlessly, his eyes narrowed, his lips pursed. He turned the unmarked tape over in his hands. "Where did you get this?"

"We were working on a case involving what looked like coerced sex being filmed and sold on the streets. Our guy went undercover and brought back some tapes, and, well, it looks like we were right about the coerced participation..."

"To say the least."

"...Yeah. Well, anyway, when we recognized this guy, we thought you'd wanna know."

Mulder nodded. "Give me what you've got. Don't tell anyone else."

Dawson frowned at Mulder's disrespect, but reached behind him and grabbed a fat file full of papers from his desk. "I made copies of all the stuff I thought you might want."

Mulder nodded and took the file. He held up the tape. "Is this mine?"

"Yeah, we made you a copy."

Mulder nodded again. "Thanks for the heads-up, Dawson." Without another word, Mulder got up and walked across the office and out the door, not even waiting for Dawson's reply.

"Arrogant prick," muttered Dawson, going around to sit back down at his desk and pore over his own copies of the information surrounding his case.

Mulder took the information down to the basement office, glad that Scully had business across town. He wanted to be able to handle this one on his own, if possible. It wasn't that he didn't think Scully could handle the distasteful aspects of the case. It was because he planned to be going undercover in a world that he didn't want Scully to be exposed to, and he knew that if she was aware of the case's specifics, she'd be the first to insist on backing him up.

He locked his office door and slipped the VHS cassette into his own player. He walked around behind his desk and laid the file down, grabbing up the remote and getting seated. He pointed the control at the screen and clicked, and the screen flickered to life.

He watched with rising nausea as the overweight businessman shoved himself roughly into the chained and mostly unresponsive Krycek. He heard the low, soft grunts as the rapist slammed his victim against the wall repeatedly, growling. Mulder swallowed back the urge to vomit.

As much as he wanted revenge on the man who had betrayed his trust and then possibly murdered his father, he couldn't wish something like this on anyone, for any reason. He continued watching the tape, his lip curled unconsciously, as the banker got himself off in Krycek's ass and then pulled out, absently sliding his hand down Krycek's body, smearing the sweat and blood down his back. He walked out of the frame, leaving the man chained to the wall. The camera zoomed in on the abused body for a few moments, and Mulder could see the shuddering rise and fall of Krycek's breathing, but there was no sound. Then the screen went black.


Mulder slicked his hair back with gel, only remembering after it was combed back from his head that his young former partner had worn just such gel in his hair every day of their short working partnership. He sighed and shook his head slightly, trying to rid himself of the image of that young, pale body being so hideously misused and abused. He reached for the long, dark trench coat, sliding it on over the shiny, black silk suit. He slipped some chunky gold rings onto his fingers and surveyed himself in the hotel mirror. His nose wrinkled at the slimy image confronting him. Yeah, he supposed he looked about as much like a snuff movie producer as he could. He tucked a weapon into a holster at his back, checked the one at his ankle, slipped a small blade up inside his right sleeve, and called a cab.

"Where's the rough stuff?" he asked, flipping through the hand-written movie boxes, trying not to touch them any more than was absolutely necessary, despite the fact that he was wearing black leather gloves.

"That's about as rough as it gets," answered the greasy proprietor with a suspicious scowl.

"This shit sucks," replied Mulder, slamming the cassettes down. "It's obviously bullshit." He stared down the large, stringy-haired man with a set expression.

"That's the best we got, 'sir', and if you don't like it, you can look elsewhere."

Mulder reached into his coat pocket and brought out a fat, black wallet, flipping it open and nonchalantly thumbing out several bills, all hundreds. He folded them over his gloved thumb, holding them just inches from the amateur movie producer's hand. The man glanced down at the curled hundred dollar bills then back up at Mulder. Mulder looked in his eyes, squinting angrily. "I'd heard this was a class act," he said distastefully. "Not a bunch of ketchup-squirting fuckheads. I don't deal with the fake shit, asshole. I'm looking for something for the discriminating individual."

The proprietor looked left and right and reached toward the bills, but Mulder pulled them back just as the fingers brushed against paper.

"We don't got that stuff," grumped the man. "But I can tell ya who does," he added hopefully. "For a price."

Mulder rolled his eyes, peeling off a couple of the hundreds and sliding the rest back into his overstuffed wallet. "Talk." He let the money fall to the counter as if it were refuse he couldn't wait to be rid of. The storeowner snatched it up, stuffing it into his pants pocket. He opened up the register and lifted the drawer, retrieving a homemade business card, dog-eared and dirty with fingerprints. He extended it toward Mulder between two pudgy fingers. Mulder swallowed and took it, again grateful for the barrier of tanned animal hide between his flesh and everything within a one block vicinity, at the least. The card said, "Star Power" and had a post office box. That's all. He nodded and tucked the card into his pocket and spun around, quickly striding out of the underground amateur porn shop.

He went back to his hotel and immediately sat down at his laptop and typed up a short letter.

Dear Sir,

I'm looking for a special brand of entertainment, and I'm willing to pay for it. I heard you were just the gentleman who could get it for me. Here is my pager number: 555-8976. I'll be waiting.


He slipped it into a blank envelope and handwrote the P.O. box number on it and slipped it into his pocket to drop off at a mailbox across town. Then he went in and took an hour-long shower.

He took a cab to a location a half-hour away from his hotel and dropped his letter in a mailbox, then called D.C. to let them know he would be staying over, extending his personal leave. He had asked Dawson not to say anything about this to anyone else, and he had told Skinner and Scully that he was taking some personal time and would be back in a few days.

Now all he had to do wait patiently for his new pager to go off. He went back to his hotel, picking up a fifth of vodka and a carton of orange juice, and settled into his room to wait.

He spent the next three days reading and re-reading all the case information Dawson had given him. They'd suspected that the participants in the films were being coerced, but since many of the 'actors' appeared in more than one film, they couldn't be sure. So far, their undercover guy had been able to send out one 'actor', and from his severely abused body, it was evident that he had not been a willing participant. But since he was still unconscious in the hospital, he wasn't able to shed much more light on the subject than that.

They'd only been working the case a few weeks themselves, and they'd only been able to get the one guy out by buying him from the movie producer for $50,000 with the ruse that they were going to use him in something so rough he might not survive. They were working on getting another, but had been told they would have to wait for him to become available again. The junk food wrappers piled up in Mulder's room, the maids being warned away from the door each time they came around.

Mulder was in the hotel gift shop buying antacid when his pager beeped three days later. He jumped and jerked it out of his pocket, getting a puzzled look from the cashier. He left the Tums on the counter and hurried to a phone.

"Star Power."

"Delorian here. I got your page."

"Yeah, Mr. Delorian. We may have what you need. Tell me...how did you hear about us?"

Mulder's heart raced. "A friend. Knows I'm in the business. Saw some talent he thought I'd appreciate."

"What's your friend's name?"

"If I told you that, he wouldn't be my friend any longer."

Laughter. "True enough. Okay. So, whatcha lookin' for exactly?"

"I saw a certain...performer. I really like his look."

"Do you remember his stage name?"

Mulder swallowed hard. "Angelface."

"Ahhhh yeah, Angelface. He's a big draw, all right. Gonna cost ya."

"That's the one I want."


"As soon as possible."

"He's uh...out of commission at the present time. Should be back on stage in a coupla weeks, though. Maybe faster if the money's right."

"What kind of money are we talking about here?"

"How long ya want him for?"

Mulder chewed his lip. "Actually, I have a question about that." He kept his voice steady, breathing back the shake in it.

"Yeah? What?"

"Well, I was wondering how much it would cost me to...not have to worry about damaging the merchandise"

"Damage the merchandise? That goes without saying. Say, you do know who you're dealing with, dontcha?"

"Of course I do," replied Mulder coldly. "I'm talking about permanent...damage."


"Angelface is one of our favorites. He ain't gonna come cheap."

Mulder's teeth clenched. "How much?"

"'Spose he is getting kinda beat up...I guess a hundred would probably take care of things."

Mulder's eyes closed. So little for a human life. He sighed silently. "Done. How soon can I get him?"

"You throw in an extra ten and you can have him next Friday. He's gonna need a little TLC before getting back on stage, though, if you wanna good performance."

"Understood. How do we do this?"

"I'll send him with one of my people, and you get him and we get the funds. I'll page ya when he's ready."

Mulder chewed his cheek and bit back his urge to demand instant delivery. "I'll be waiting."

"Nice doin' business with ya, Delorian."

Mulder couldn't make himself reply anything but, "Yeah." He hung up. He leaned his forehead against the handset and breathed back the dizzy nausea, and then slowly made his way back over to the gift shop to complete his purchase, grabbing several more boxes off the shelf.

It had been five days. Tomorrow was Friday. Mulder lay on his bed, which was in complete disarray, like the rest of the room, and had not seen maid service in over a week. He chewed one sunflower seed after another, staring at a television that had long since switched over to infomercials, neither seeing nor hearing them. Tomorrow, if things went as planned, he was going to purchase one battered and bruised, misused and broken Alex Krycek.

All preparations had been made for his arrival. Mulder had finally had to bring Scully in, hearing how Krycek would be returned to him in less than perfect condition. He'd used a large bite of his inheritance money to secure a private mobile med-unit, fully equipped. Scully was on standby, waiting for his call to meet him at the prearranged location. His jaw hurt from clenching it and his stomach perpetually burned now, from indigestion, hangovers treated with more vodka, and possibly a new ulcer. Mulder hardly noticed, existing on a diet of Doritos and screwdrivers, interspersed with handfulls of Tums and sunflower seeds. He felt dirty. Too dirty to go out and eat with normal people. He had to keep himself sunk into Delorian's psyche, and it made him constantly queasy. He went over and over the file until he'd memorized every word in it, then had spread the pictures out all over his bed in a masochistic frenzy.

He finally fell asleep around 5 A.M. and was still sleep at noon when the pager, which was right next to his bed, screamed in his ear. He shot up in the bed, the urge to vomit stronger than usual, and blinked away his confusion. Then he grabbed the pager and without changing the clothes that he couldn't remember how long he'd been wearing, he hurried out the door and ran five blocks to a pay phone. With sweaty, shaking fingers, he punched in the number.

"Star Power."

"Delorian here."

"Ah yeah...Mr. Delorian. We got your merchandise. He ain't feeling real great, though, so you'll need to have...discreet transportation."

"I'll bring a limo. He can lay down in the back. Tinted windows."

"Star treatment. Nice. Yeah, that oughta work. Okay, bring the cash and meet my guy here."

He gave Mulder an address in the warehouse district, and Mulder scribbled it down.

"Two hours. Oh, and just in case, Randy's gonna be armed, and he'll make sure you're not before he gives you the merchandise."


"Enjoy your purchase, Mr. Delorian."

"Thank you," Mulder gritted out, resisting the urge to slam the phone down. He hung it up and breathed back the urge to vomit once again. Almost over. He made his call to Scully, arranging a meeting for five hours from now, and went home to slither back into his Delorian suit.

He stepped into the huge, creaky, abandoned warehouse, scanning the area. He heard a presence come up behind him and resisted his impulse to defend himself as he was grabbed around the throat and frisked roughly. Unless Randy was really thorough, Mulder was pretty sure he wouldn't find that four inch blade taped to the inside of his thigh. He was right, and Randy stepped back, giving Mulder a pat on the shoulder.


Not one for small talk, evidently. Which was more than fine with Mulder. He held up a small leather case.


Randy smiled. "Just a sec." He walked back out, leaving Mulder in the shadows, and came back in, pushing a shuffling figure ahead him. Mulder couldn't help but gulp back a shocked gasp, quickly licking his lips nervously, making his eyes blank and cold.

"He looks like shit." Fucking understatement of the year. Krycek was barely conscious, eyes opening and closing slowly, face so pale as to be gray and poorly made up to conceal the bruises and cuts. His hands hung limply at his sides, his lips open, a small line of drool falling to the floor at his feet. He was dressed in black jeans and boots and a leather harness. There was more makeup on the skin exposed between the straps, but the welts and bruises were still disgustingly visible.

"Yeah, well, you put him on rush order." Randy shrugged, then put his hand out for the case. Mulder curled his lip and extended the case, avoiding touching Randy with his leather gloves as it was taken. He walked up to the swaying Krycek, feeling the urge to put his arms around the misused man, and instead placed a hand on his shoulder proprietarily. Krycek didn't even twitch. He waited until Randy counted through the stacks of hundreds, then snapped the case shut.

"Looks good. Pleasure doin' business with ya, Mr. Delorian. You let us know when you need anything more."

Mulder swallowed, trying to think about how they were really damned close to shutting this thing down, after getting the P.O. box from Mulder. "I will."

Randy tipped his head in a salute and went out the door ahead of Mulder. Mulder very cautiously put his hands on Krycek's upper arms, coming around in front of him.

"Krycek...Alex...I'm going to take you to the car now." Krycek's eyes opened and tried to focus on Mulder's, but the effort appeared to be too much and they fell shut again. Krycek swayed forward and Mulder caught him, holding him up against his chest. Biting back a stream of curses, he grabbed Krycek around the back and turned, leading him shuffling out to the waiting limo. He'd briefed the driver, telling him only enough of the truth to ensure his cooperation and flashing his badge, and upon seeing the shuffling victim, the large chauffeur jumped out of the limo and helped Mulder get Krycek into the back. It was set up as a bed, with blankets and pillows, and cloths and water. The driver went back around and got in, and Mulder settled in beside his already sleeping passenger as they sped toward their meeting place with Scully.

It was a three hour drive, Mulder taking every precaution not to expose himself or Scully to the people he was dealing with, and during the trip he studied his ex-partner curiously. His skin was gray and dotted with perspiration, his hair sweat- soaked. His skin had been caked with makeup to obscure all the bruises, new on top of old, and it looked like his cuts had been glued rather than sewn, in order to more easily apply the subterfuge. Without letting himself think about it, Mulder dunked a cloth in the warmed water he'd brought and began to very gently wipe away the pancake makeup.

He winced and grimaced as his ministrations began to reveal a face every color but flesh, and he thought he could feel an edge of bone that shouldn't have been there. He avoided it, wondering why Krycek didn't react to the pain he must be feeling, then considered the fact that he was most certainly medicated, though with what Mulder wouldn't have been able to say.

After Mulder had Krycek's face cleaned to the best of his ability, he placed the cloth on the side shelf and leaned forward, checking Krycek for head wounds. He felt multiple lumps and some scabbed-over lacerations and stopped searching with a deep sigh. He spent the rest of the ride just absently stroking the damp hair from Krycek's forehead, staring out the window. Krycek slept with an occasional whimpering grunt and a few shivers.

Mulder's heart sped up as they pulled up next to the Winnebago, actually a fully-equipped mobile medical unit. Scully climbed down the steps and met them, and Mulder immediately climbed out and walked to her.

"Jesus, Mulder, you look like hell!"

"Scully...he's worse than we thought."

Scully's eyebrows rose and she looked up at Mulder, glancing to the limo and back, curiously.

Mulder went on. "He's drugged. Doesn't even know me. Doesn't appear to have much reactionary response at all. Scully he's...God, I don't know how he's even alive."

She gave him a sad, sympathetic but curious look, and stepped around him. She leaned in and her mouth dropped open on a quiet gasp as she saw his face. She quickly recovered her composure.

"Mulder, help me get him into the med-unit." Mulder turned and assisted her, using a collapsible gurney to move Krycek slowly from limo to Winnebago, then getting him settled into a fully-functional hospital bed, sitting by while Scully worked, quickly and efficiently getting an IV started and attaching various monitors his chest and hands. When she had hooked him up to everything, she turned and brushed a stray lock of hair from her forehead. She walked over and took a seat beside a still-silent Mulder at the small table.

"Scully...we can't take him in like this."

She just nodded. They both looked at the table top and said nothing. Finally, Scully took a deep breath.

"What do you want to do with him, Mulder?"

Mulder sighed. "We can't take him to a hospital. He won't live a day. We can't turn him in...remember Cardinale."

Scully nodded, chewing her lip as she tried to figure out how to help Krycek escape the same fate of being killed one day after arrest.

"He could be useful to us, if..." He let the statement trail off, and Scully knew that he was referring to Krycek's chances of survival, as well as his ability to function should he make it though his recovery. The other victim they'd rescued was still in a coma, at last report.

"Yes." They were quiet another moment, then Scully sat back in the seat. "We'll have to oversee his recovery ourselves, Mulder. We'll bring in discreet help if we absolutely have to, but even our less-than-ideal medical care is safer for him than anything else I can think of."

Mulder looked up, studying her face. He nodded slowly. "How are we going to do this?"

"Well, we'll have to put in for more leave, and then get set up somewhere with this unit where we can get more supplies if I need them."


Scully sighed and chewed her cheek. "Let's go down the coast and find an RV Park for now. I'll check out the pharmacies and if they have what we need, we stay. If not, we just continue until we find the right place."

Mulder nodded slowly. "I guess it's the only thing we really can do, to increase his chance of survival."

Scully nodded in agreement. "Are you okay to drive, Mulder? Like I said before, you look like hell."

"I'm fine. You just take care of him." He looked over at Krycek, pale and thin and multicolored against the stark white sheets.

"I will." Scully stood up and started making notes on a chart, pulling the sheet away from Krycek's body, doing a cursory external examination. Mulder pulled himself up off the seat and made his way to the front of motor home, settling in for a long drive down the coast.

They got four hundred miles away before finding a location Scully felt good about, stopping for one overnight stay on the way. Krycek slept the whole time, helped along with some mild sedatives and painkillers.

After they got the motorhome hooked up to water and power, Mulder stayed with Krycek while Scully went out and got the food and medical supplies they'd need. When she got back, Mulder helped her cut away all of Krycek's clothing so she could do a thorough examination to determine exactly what they were dealing with. Mulder watched, silently, as Scully poked, prodded, stroked, manipulated, swabbed, scoped and made page after page of notes. She said nothing until she was finished, then slowly pulled the sheet up over Krycek's unresponsive body with a tired sigh.

Mulder watched her and waited for the verdict. She came over and slid into the seat across from him, turning her clipboard back to the first page.

"God, Mulder. What they've done to him..."

Mulder's gaze went unfocused, settling on the figure in the center of the motorhome and he nodded.

"Well, he's breathing well, and so far, I don't think he's in coma. I took some blood samples which I will have to have analyzed somehow. I think I can get Pendrell to do it for me."

Mulder let a ghost of a smile twitch at his lips, knowing Scully could get Pendrell to do anything she wanted, due to the massive crush he had on her. Scully didn't appear to notice, and continued her report.

"He's still under the influence of some sort of substance, with dilated pupils and racing pulse. His reflexes are...well, at this point, he doesn't really have any. Again, I suspect due to the drug or drugs. He has, of course, multiple contusions and lacerations covering his entire body. Although he has several small bleeding head wounds, his skull doesn't show signs of fracture, although we can't be sure without x-rays and CAT scans." She chewed her lip, knowing these would be virtually impossible to procure. They'd have to take their chances. Sighing, she went on.

"He appears to have a fractured eye socket, but I think I can set that. Any other fractures he has aren't noticeable enough externally to make a diagnosis. We'll have to figure out a way to get some films before we'll know more."

Mulder said nothing, his mind working.

"Anyway," said Scully with a sigh," I would almost guarantee cracked and broken ribs, although he isn't breathing blood, so it doesn't appear that any of them have punctured a lung. He also doesn't appear to be coughing up blood, so probably no serious internal injuries, although, without an ultrasound, again, we just can't know."

Mulder nodded.

"He's experienced some rather serious trauma to his rectal canal and anus," she said quietly, staring down at her notes. Mulder's eyes squinted but he said nothing, remembering the tape. "I...I can put in some stitches, do the best I can, but..." She didn't say again how badly they needed better technology to assess the damage. She cleared her throat and went on. "He's totally dehydrated and appears malnourished, so I have him on an IV drip, and it appears to be helping his blood pressure stabilize. He probably has internal injuries we can't see, so we can expect...well...the unexpected, such as fever, delirium, vomiting, shakes, convulsions, and possible brain damage, for starters." Scully looked up from her notes and Mulder's eyes were closed, his face still held in the direction of their patient.

"Scully," he said, opening his eyes. "I wanted to see him hurt. I wanted to hurt him myself. But this...I wouldn't wish this on anyone."

"I know," she said quietly, reaching across the table. He brought his hand up and she took it, clasping it between her own. "Nobody deserves this kind of abuse, Mulder, but you saved him. You saved his life, Mulder."

"If he lives."

Scully said nothing, dropping her gaze to the table. "Well," she finally near-whispered. "In any event, Mulder, you got him out of it. It's over, one way or the other."

Mulder said nothing, just bringing his other hand to place it on top of Scully's, and they sat there, hands enfolded, for several long moments.

Mulder woke to the bed shifting as Scully sat down beside him. "Tox screen's back," she said gently. He rubbed his eyes and raked his hands through his hair, blinking himself awake.


"Heroin. And Ketamine."


"Yeah. So...we're gonna see some withdrawal, here. I've laid in some narcotics to help him through it but this is not going to be easy, Mulder, especially with all the trauma he's experienced."

Mulder nodded. "When?"

"He's still working the Ketamine out of his system, and that's keeping him from reacting to the withdrawal so far. But it's been over twenty-four hours. As the Ketamine works its way out, the withdrawal symptoms will start to manifest."

They both jumped at the sound that came from the till-now silent gurney in the middle of the small room. Scully left Mulder's side and went to Krycek's, reaching for his wrist to take his pulse. His eyes were twitching beneath their lids and he moaned, high and quiet, sounding like a child. Scully brushed the hair from his forehead and stroked the bridge of his nose with her thumb, and he quieted a little. Mulder got up out of bed and walked over in time to see a hard shiver wrack Krycek's body head to foot. Scully grabbed another blanket and spread it over him, checking his machines.

Mulder pulled up a chair and watched her, feeling helpless. Finally, Krycek seemed to slip back into a more peaceful sleep and Scully stepped back, making more notes. She sighed.

"Mulder, if you'll take this shift, I'll go get us something for breakfast. I'd kind of like to get out and get some air before things get crazy."

"Yeah, sure," said Mulder.

"Okay. I've got my phone, so if anything happens, just call me. If he does that again, just...try to comfort him as best you can. Rest is the thing he needs most at this point."

Mulder nodded, sitting back in the chair, putting one sweatpant-covered ankle over his knee, getting comfortable.

"I'll be back in a bit." Scully grabbed up her bag and went out the door. Mulder surveyed the man in front of him. God, Alex. As if his injuries weren't bad enough, now he had to deal with the hypersensitivity to pain that comes with heroin withdrawal, along with shakes, convulsions, vomiting, and God knows what else. He sighed and reached out, laying his palm on the man's forehead. He felt warm. Mulder frowned...he'd have to keep an eye on his fever. Scully had left him with a thermometer that took a reading when held in the ear canal for just a second. He used it and the figures calmed his mind, but only somewhat. 100.5. Not awful, but not great, either.

He got up and ran a bowl of lukewarm water, grabbing a soft, sterile cloth from the neat stack Scully had made. He sat back down and dipped the cloth in the water, wringing out the excess. He leaned forward and very gently stroked the sweat from Krycek's brow. Krycek twitched with a tiny grunt, then his face relaxed again as Mulder laid the cloth over him. He pulled his chair in closer and reached out, barely touching Krycek's myriad cuts and bruises with his fingertips, breathing hard.

How in the hell had Krycek gone from Consortium sneak to porn-meat? What had happened to put them against Krycek? What had gone on in the year since he'd thrown this man down on the hood of a car, half out of his mind with the drugs he suspected this man had been filtering into his water? How had things changed so much? He wanted Krycek to stay asleep, and hopefully ride out much of his withdrawal that way, but he really couldn't help but be anxious to see those pretty green eyes open, clear once again, so he could start to get some answers.

Oh, it wasn't that he was going to threaten and intimidate them out of Krycek. He swept his eyes from the man's abused head to his misused feet and knew that Krycek had experienced enough of that kind of shit to last a lifetime. Krycek would be lucky to make it out of this alive, let alone psychologically and intellectually intact. He stroked the damp hair, absently remembering the sharp mind hidden behind those adoring-puppy dog eyes, and how well they'd actually worked together when he was still under the impression that he could trust the kid. He sighed. Betrayer or not, he'd hate to see that quick mind damaged, the spark of life, however devious, extinguished from those eyes.

'Damn, what is it with me and Krycek's eyes, anyway?' he chided himself. 'I can't seem to think about anything else in connection with him.' He lightly traced over them with his fingers, feeling the long, dark lashes tickle his fingertips. Krycek's eyes fluttered just slightly and Mulder pulled his hand back, sheepishly. Krycek settled again into a peaceful slumber. He did have beautiful eyes. Your own would have to be blind not to notice that first thing. An intense, deep green, fringed by the longest lashes Mulder had ever seen on a man. And they could go from innocent and adoring to cold and calculating in a breath. And they could flash with fear and anger, and dangerous malice, and even then, they were startlingly pretty. He'd also seen them spiked with tears of pain as he'd driven his fist into those soft pink lips over and over, bloodying that tiny little cherub's nose.

Cherub. Angelface. Evidently he wasn't the only one to have these opinions about Krycek's appearance. He grimaced, his inadvertent comparison of himself with the lowest of lifeforms leaving a very bad taste in his mouth. But, sighing with resignation, he admitted that the so-called 'stagename' was well-deserved. Angelface with a devil's heart.

'Who are you, Alex Krycek? And how did you get yourself into such a Godawful mess?'

His speculations were interrupted by Scully coming into the Winnebago, her arms laden with bagels and cream cheese. He stood to help her and they carried their breakfast over to the table, grabbing some coffee and plates.

"Looks good."

"Mmmm..." Scully answered, cutting open a sundried tomato bagel. "How is he?"

Mulder reached for the knife. "Seems okay, but he's got a temp of a hundred point five."

Scully frowned slightly around her bite of cream cheese and bagel. "I was afraid of that. The fevers are starting."

"Can you do anything for them?" Mulder said around a huge bite of bagel spread with half-inch thick cream cheese.

"No more than I already have," sighed Scully, taking a long drink of coffee. "He's on everything I dare give him. I'm afraid we'll just have to help him ride them out."

"What can we expect?"

"Well, probably delirium, maybe even convulsions...we should have water and cloths handy to keep him cooled, but don't use cool water...just lukewarm."

Mulder nodded, not bothering to tell her he was already aware of how to treat a fever and had done so in her short absence. "I've been thinking..."

"Uh oh."

Mulder smiled, grateful for the break in the dark mood. "If he's fallen out with 'them', maybe he'd help us." His voice was quiet, as if he was slightly embarrassed by his own hopefulness.

Scully frowned. "Mulder, we have to be careful. He gained your trust once and..." She swallowed, unable to voice what she and Mulder were painfully aware of.

"...and it ended up with you being...taken. I know," said Mulder, gaining steam as he prepared to make his argument. "But, Scully...he's very obviously on the outs with them, and he's also obviously not hooked up with any other...groups at the moment. This might be our chance to bring him onto our side."

Scully looked intently at Mulder, then nodded, very tentatively. "It could be, Mulder. I'm not saying it isn't. I'm just saying that we have to be more careful this time."

Mulder's voice was slightly hurt. "I know that, Scully. But we saved his life," He didn't clarify, again, that this was only true if Krycek survived. "I think he'll be grateful for that, and willing to talk, at least. Don't you?"

"I didn't know him as well as you did, Mulder...or as well as you thought you did," she added quietly. "Do you really think there's something there you can trust?"

Mulder stared down at his forgotten breakfast. "I thought there was...once. He's so young, Scully..." He looked up and his eyes were full of confusion and pain. "How can he be beyond redemption? I trusted Deep Throat to work with me and he was still heavily enmeshed in the whole thing!" Mulder's voice was rising and Scully's eyes widened at the vehemence in his tone.

"Yes, that's true, Mulder, and you might be right. He might become an ally." She looked over at the figure on the bed, watching the rise and fall of his chest under the blankets. "He is young...I suppose we can't just dismiss the chance that he was in over his head and might be willing to come over to the other side..." She trailed off and looked back at Mulder, who was now calm and eating his bagels again. "I guess we'll just have to see what happens," she said, picking up her own breakfast and taking a bite. Mulder nodded and they finished their meal in silence.

Scully took a shift while Mulder went for a run on the beach, and when he returned he could hear the beeping from outside of the Winnebago. He quickly opened the door and went to her side, wiping his face with his T-shirt.

"What's happening?"

Krycek was twitching on the bed, making small grunting and whimpering noises, his hands coming up off the bed to clutch at his body and the blankets, knocking them aside. Scully was gently trying to restrain him, pulling the blankets back in place. Fortunately, he didn't have enough strength to really fight her, and he wasn't conscious, eyes still closed, so she was able to still his movements, though only temporarily. She blew a strand of hair out of her eyes.

"His temp's up to 103 and he's been shaking and twitching and moaning, probably in response to the pain that he's becoming aware of as the Ketamine leaves his system and he withdraws from the heroin." She looked back at Mulder over her shoulder, still bent over Krycek and holding his twitching arms down by the wrists. "It's only going to get worse."

Mulder nodded. "Let me shower and I'll help. Do you need a nap or something? We both need to be ready for tonight."

Scully nodded. "Yes, today should be about the worst of it, as the Ketamine completely clears and his heroin withdrawal reaches its apex." She sighed, blowing another strand of hair out of her eyes. Mulder reached forward, tucking it behind her ear and she smiled gratefully. "I'm fine, though. I don't need to rest."

"Okay. Back in a minute." He quickly went into the small bathroom and showered, then dressed in their usual uniform of comfortable sweats, always ready to grab sleep where they could, between shifts of Krycek-watching. As he exited the bathroom, shaking the water from his short hair, he could hear that things had already gotten worse in the short time he'd been in the shower.

Krycek was thrashing under Scully's hold, making high whimpering sounds that sounded like quiet, desperate sobs. His eyes fluttered open and closed, his eyes rolled back in his head, his whole body shaking and jerking. He rushed over and took Scully's place, laying over Krycek's body and more efficiently restraining him, much to the relief of Scully, who stepped back and started pulling the blankets off.

"Everything's going to cause him discomfort now," she explained, stripping off the sheets, leaving Krycek covered only in a very short, thin hospital gown. She reluctantly removed his IV, afraid more of the damage he might do himself and his crucial equipment than of the risk of him being off the fluid for a few hours during his shakes. She'd wait until he was calm again, if that happened, and hook him back up.

Mulder felt the broken body undulating beneath him and smelled the toxic odor of the drug emanating from his pores. He suspected that the film-producers had kept him pumped full of heroin to dull the pain of his many injuries so that he could keep performing, even when still not recovered from his last film. Krycek's mouth opened on a sudden scream, his head thrashing back into his pillow, his eyes open.

"Krycek! Can you hear me? It's me, Mulder. I'm here to help you." Mulder leaned over Krycek's body, which had gone rigid during the scream and was now twitching and tense but still. He leaned in toward the man's ear. "It's okay...you're safe...you're withdrawing from the heroin, and it's hell, but we'll get you through it. Just hang in there." Mulder felt stupid and painfully inadequate at choosing words of comfort, but felt Scully's reassuring hand come down on his shoulder.

"Good, Mulder. Just keep talking to him in that voice. It will give him something to hold onto." She grabbed a soft cloth and started wiping his body down. Mulder felt it burn up through his T-shirt, Krycek's heart hammering against his own as he laid across him, trying to stay mindful of the ribs he knew to be cracked and bruised. He closed his eyes as Krycek sobbed, thrashing again, fighting the intense pain of the lukewarm cloth brushing over feverish, supersensitive skin.

"Krycek...Alex...I know it hurts. I know it does. But we have to keep you as cool as possible...we don't want you going into convulsions on us." Krycek continued to sob, his eyes squeezed tightly shut, his bloodied teeth bared in a grimace of pain. "I'm here, Alex. It's me...Mulder. Remember me? We were partners, once. I know you've done some...bad things, Alex, but I don't hate you. I'm here to help you. We're gonna get through this." Krycek continued to thrash and sob, his cries going higher and higher, the sweat evaporating from his overheated body instantly as the toxins leeched out of his pores.

"Can't we do anything for him, Scully?" Mulder asked desperately, bucking as Krycek's body thrashed below him, then went rigid, arched against the sheet, only to start writhing again.

"Just this, Mulder," sighed Scully, wiping Krycek's jolting legs down with large strokes, wetting the nylon restraints she'd fastened earlier. "We need to buckle his arms down, Mulder. He might hurt himself."

"Okay. I've got him. Better hurry...he's getting worse."

Scully nodded grimly and moved to the side of the bed, looping the nylon restraint over one bandaged wrist with a wince, then moving to the other side to do the same.

His arms and legs tethered to the bed, Krycek's torso arched up off the bed, repeatedly, and he threw himself side to side, trying to get free.

"Lay on him, Mulder! Don't let him do that! He could force one of those ribs through a lung or permanently damage his spine or..." but she didn't have to continue as Mulder climbed on top of the bed and laid himself gently on top of his ex- partner, at a diagonal, supporting part of his weight on his legs, straddling one of Krycek's, and his forearms, which were at his sides. Krycek screamed at the full body contact and the two bodies bounced on the bed as he tried to dislodge Mulder. "Talk to him, Mulder!" Scully yelled above Krycek's cries. "Try to get him to cooperate with us! He's going to hurt himself seriously if he doesn't stop this!"

"Alex! Please! You've gotta try to be still! You're hurt, and doing this is gonna make things worse! I know it hurts! Goddamn it I know! But please...Alex...try to hold still!" He leaned in and placed his lips right on Alex's ear, one of the only places he wasn't damaged. "Alex," he breathed, low and desperate. "Please, Alex...hold still!"

To his utter shock, Alex whimpered and the thrashing decreased, now an intermittent undulation combined with a moaning whimper.

"Good! Good, Alex. Just hold still, buddy. It's okay, we've gotcha. This is the worst of it, Alex. Can you hear me? If we can get you through a few more hours, you'll feel a lot better."

Alex continued to sob and writhe, but much less emphatically now, and Mulder settled in over him, holding him down with his body, his lips at Alex's ear. Scully continued to bathe all exposed skin with lukewarm, wet cloths and each time she touched him, Alex's whimpers turned to moans.

"Alex," Mulder said in his ear softly. "Can you hear me? Can you give some indication that you can hear me?" He reached up with his left hand, leaning onto his right, and very gently brushed his fingers through the hair at Alex's forehead. Alex moaned and leaned back into the touch slightly. Heartened, Mulder pressed his lips against Alex's ear, eyes closed and sighed. "Alex...can you talk? One word...just tell me...do you know who I am?"

Alex's breath came out in a rush. To Mulder it sounded like he said, 'Yes."

"Yes, Alex? Yes? You know it's me, Mulder? Good, Alex...good. Can you look at me? I need you to look at me, if you can, buddy." He watched Krycek's eyelids twitch, squeezed tight against the pain, then open and roll, seeking something to focus on. Mulder leaned over him, trying hard to catch his attention. Alex's eyes stopped, directed at Mulder's face, and Mulder placed a hand gently on Alex's face, smiling hugely. "Yes! Good, Alex! Look at me! Focus, buddy! Try to relax and we'll ride this out together."

Alex's eyes rolled, his lids fluttering open and closed, but he kept his gaze on Mulder as much as possible, and Mulder rewarded him with a smile, murmuring words of encouragement.

"That's good, Mulder...his pulse is steadying a bit and he's not fighting as hard...keep talking to him, it seems to be helping."

Mulder swallowed, running out of things to say. He kept contact with the exhausted, desperate green eyes below him and started babbling.

"You know, Alex, until you...well, anyway, I really liked working with you. You're a bright kid." Mulder was heartened by the way Alex's eyes stopped rolling and stared at him, lids fluttering open and closed. "Yeah, that's right. But I guess you knew that, huh? I mean, you knew I liked you. That was your job, wasn't it. To get me to like you." Alex, of course, said nothing, but stared at Mulder through exhausted, blinking eyes. "You did a good job, Alex. I really liked you. I trusted you, too, and that's not something that comes easily to me." Alex's eyes closed, his face scrunching into a grimace and Mulder leaned in, his face inches from Alex's. "No, Alex! You look at me! Don't leave me! I'm not mad anymore! Come back!" Alex's eyes opened again and blinked less often, heavy-lidded, coming to focus on Mulder's face, looking a bit clearer. Encouraged, Mulder grinned. "Good boy. You just keep that up, Alex. Keep those pretty green eyes of yours right here."

He didn't see Scully's smile behind him as she reached for the IV, preparing to connect it again while Mulder had Alex so calm. She inserted the tube into the joiner and started the fluid dripping again, leaning back with a sigh.

"Good, Mulder. He's doing really well. His respiration is a lot better and his pulse rate is close to the normal range. You're reaching him." She smiled again and put her hand on Mulder's shoulder, leaving it for a moment as he sighed into the soft contact. "I'm going to give him a shot, now. It should help him sleep for a short time, or at least rest."

Mulder nodded. "Hear that, Alex? Scully's got some good stuff for ya. Gonna help you get some rest." Alex blinked once and continued to look into Mulder's eyes, his tongue working slowly over his cracked, dry lips. "Can you talk, Alex? Do you want a drink? Scully, can we do something about his lips? They're so dry they're splitting and bleeding."

"Oh, sure! Let me get the lip balm." She reached into a small cupboard and brought out a tiny aluminum tube, unscrewing the cap and holding it out. Mulder extended his finger and she smeared a generous dollop on the tip. He gently lowered the balm to Alex's mouth and very carefully stroked it across the cracked and bleeding lips. Alex closed his mouth, moaning slightly, eyes fluttering as Mulder smoothed on the lip balm.

"There. That better?" he asked, rubbing it in just a bit to help it penetrate. Alex barely nodded, his eyes closing a moment to punctuate the slight movement. Mulder smiled. "Good. Good. Just hang in there, Alex, and try to relax now. You can close your eyes now. Try to sleep." Alex's eyes fluttered, but struggled to stay open, even as Scully injected something into his IV to help him sleep. His lips parted and a croak issued from his throat. "What?" Mulder leaned in, his ear brushing faintly against the balm-sticky lips.

"Don't....go...." Alex breathed into his ear, ending on a shuddering sigh. Mulder's eyes closed, relieved at getting a coherent response from his patient.

"I won't, Alex. I'll stay right here, I promise," he said into Alex's ear, laying his head on Alex's shoulder gently, adjusting himself so he was relaxed, but not supported on Alex's body. Scully wordlessly slipped pillows under Mulder's hip and around his body, taking any remaining pressure off Alex, and finally, with a loud sigh, Alex's eyes fluttered closed and remained that way, his breathing slowly settling into a regular rhythm. Mulder sighed, his whole body relaxing down against him. Scully came up to their heads.

"Why don't you get up, Mulder? Try to get some sleep for the next shift. He's not going to feel good when he wakes up."

"I can't, Scully. He asked me to stay and I promised I would."

Scully brushed some hair off Mulder's forehead and nodded. "Okay. I'll put up the sidebars on the bed so you won't roll off. I'm going to lie down. Call me if you need me."

Mulder nodded, his eyes already drifting closed. Scully turned off all the lights in the motorhome med-unit, the windows all being covered with light-blocking curtains, and only the LED displays lighting the two bodies on the bed.


Mulder woke to the sound of soft whimpers close to his ear.

"Alex?" he murmured, coming awake quickly, rising up and bringing his face over his patient's.

"Water..." Alex croaked, eyes still closed.

"Sure, sure." He started to get up and Alex whimpered more desperately. "Shhh...okay, I'm not leaving. I'm not leaving." He settled back in and Alex relaxed a bit. "Scully?"

"Hmmm?" Scully snapped awake, her head raising off the pillow.

"Alex is asking for water." Mulder smiled and she smiled back, both happy that their patient was well enough to want and ask for, a drink.

"Okay," she said, swinging her legs out of the bed and stretching, then standing up and going to the fridge to pour some bottled water into a small paper cup. She brought it to the bed, and Mulder took it in his hand.

"Got your water, Alex. I'll help you drink it." He rose up, kneeling with a leg on either side of Alex's, and slid one hand behind Alex's head, bringing the cup to his lips with the other. Alex sighed and struggled to help hold up his head, parting his lips to drink. Mulder poured a little bit of liquid down his throat, and Alex sputtered and choked a little, grimacing as even swallowing water caused him more pain. He sealed his lips and Mulder took away the cup and lowered his head back to his pillow. He set the cup aside. Alex took a deep breath.

"Hurts...." he gasped, his breath catching.

"I know it does," Mulder murmured, brushing the hair off his forehead in what had become a very familiar gesture. Alex sighed into the contact, letting his breath out carefully, obviously pained by his ribs. Scully returned with a syringe and pumped something into Alex's IV.

"That should take the edge off," she explained. "I think he's through the worst of his withdrawal. Luckily, the Ketamine helped him through much of it. Now he has to deal with his injuries without the benefit of the heroin." Alex sighed, shuddering, and closed his eyes. Mulder started to climb down and his eyes opened again, suddenly.

"Shhh...Alex. I'm just going to get down now and unfasten your restraints." He placed a hand gently at Alex's wrists. "I'm not leaving you. I'm going to sit in that chair right there." He nodded to the chair just a few feet from the edge of the bed. Alex closed his eyes and nodded, his head falling back into the pillow. Mulder climbed off the bed, stretching his aching limbs gratefully, and unfastened his wrist restraints, one at a time. Alex flexed his hands, wincing at the pain it caused him and lifted his arms to lay his hands on his abdomen, relieved to have a new position. Mulder sat down in the chair as Scully undid the ankle restraints, lifting Alex's legs slightly, flexing the knees a tiny bit to work stiff muscles. Alex groaned, obviously in agony from her movements, and she stopped, laying his legs gently down on the mattress.

Mulder watched as Alex's eyes struggled to open, fighting the painkillers Scully had injected into his IV. Alex's cracked lips parted, and, making a note to smooth more balm on them, Mulder leaned in, putting his ear closer to Alex's mouth.


Mulder leaned back, placing a finger softly against the lips, which twitched at the touch.

"You're welcome. Don't try to talk yet. Sleep." Alex obeyed instantly, closing his eyes on a heavy sigh and finally falling into a deep sleep. Mulder reached for the tube of lip balm and smoothed on a new coat with his pinky finger, feeling Alex's sighing breaths against the flesh of his hand, then set down the tiny tube and settled back into the chair to wait again.

"We're past the worst of it," said Scully, coming up beside the bed and placing a hand on Mulder's shoulder. "Now we just have to help him get over his injuries."

Mulder nodded, sighing again.

"I'm going out for some lunch...well, dinner, I guess," she amended, looking at her watch. It was hard to gauge the time with all the windows covered. "Will you be okay?"

"We'll be fine," said Mulder, reaching out to lay his hand on Alex's forearm gently.

Scully nodded and went into the curtained off changing area to put some fresh clothes on before going out. She didn't bother offering Mulder the chance to go, as she knew he wouldn't leave Alex's side, after his promise. Smiling faintly, she stepped out the door into the fading sunlight and closed it behind her quietly. Mulder leaned his head forward, laying it on the bed next to Alex, and tried to catch some rest, too.

He awakened to quiet grunts as he felt Alex's arm swing up and accidentally bop him in the nose.

"Ow!" He quickly sat up, rubbing it. Alex didn't notice, thrashing on the bed, eyes still closed, moaning louder.

"Alex...hey, wake up..." Mulder placed his palm on Alex's cheek, gently stroking, careful not to disturb his wounds. Alex's eyes fluttered open, looking confused. His mouth dropped open.


Mulder couldn't help but smile. It was the first time Alex had addressed him by name, and it was a good sign. "Yeah, Alex. It's me, Mulder. Want some water?"

Alex nodded, his eyes closing as he sank back into the pillow with a sigh. Mulder poured him a cup from the water bottle by the bed, and slid his hand around in back of Alex's head to lift it. Alex's brow furrowed in surprise, and Mulder realized Alex didn't know he'd already done this before. He ignored the look of shock and brought the water to Alex's lips, imploring him to drink. Alex tried to lift his arms and take the cup for himself, but it was obvious from the loud groan of pain that it was too much for him to accomplish yet.

"Shhh...just drink, Alex. I've gotcha." Alex never took his eyes off Mulder as he drank the water in long, grateful, loud gulps. Mulder pulled the cup away. "That's enough. Don't overdo it. Don't want you throwing up on me." He lowered Alex's head back onto the bed and set down the cup. He stroked his hand softly down Alex's chest, coming to rest with his hand laying over Alex's. Alex eyes him warily.

"What...what are you doing?" Alex rasped.

Mulder smiled, delighted with the coherence Alex was showing. "Helping you get better, for now," he answered with a light pat to Alex's forearm. Alex twitched at the unfamiliar contact. "Oh Alex...I'm sorry! That probably hurts, doesn't it?" Mulder jerked his hand back, hovering over Alex's bandage-wrapped hand. But Alex shook his head 'no' once, still looking at Mulder. Mulder sighed and smiled gently, placing his hand back on Alex's arm. This time, Alex didn't start, but merely inhaled a bit more loudly than usual. Somehow, feeling Alex's arm, solid and warm under his hand, helped Mulder to believe he was going to be all right. That he was getting stronger.

"Why...are you...helping me?" Alex asked slowly, forming the words carefully with his abused lips. Mulder reached absently for the lip balm and took his hand from Alex's arm to apply a blob to his pinky finger. He leaned over Alex's face and Alex's eyes went wide as that finger lowered to his lips and stroked on a layer of moisture. Alex's whole body was tense, but he didn't move until Mulder sat back, wiping the excess lip balm on a cloth.

"Mainly because you need it," he said, screwing the tiny cap back on and setting the tube to the side. Alex stared at him incredulously, as if Mulder had grown a second head. Mulder settled back in, reaching forward to put his hand on Alex's arm as if that's exactly where it naturally belonged. Alex's body relaxed in stages, slowly settling back against the mattress with a shuddering sigh. "I rescued you from 'Star Power' a few days ago," he said quietly. "You're in pretty bad shape. Scully's been taking care of you."

Alex looked around, trying to see Scully.

"She's getting dinner," Mulder explained, stroking Alex's arm slightly. Alex settled back in, eyeing Mulder nervously.

"So, Alex, how the hell did you end up there?" Alex's eyes closed, and Mulder hurried to reassure him. "Hey, if you're not ready to talk about it, I understand. I'm sure it was...a horrible experience. I can wait." Alex opened his eyes and they were full of confusion and shame.

"No...'sokay." Alex swallowed, pressing his lips together slightly, rubbing in the lip balm Mulder had so tenderly applied. "Just...groggy...and...hurts."

"I know," said Mulder, with a sympathetic smile. "Scully's pumping in the good stuff." He was pleased to see a trace of a smile quirk up one side of Krycek's battered lips. "But she can't give you as much as you need...you're still...not all that strong." His smile disappeared, his voice getting quiet.

"Thank you," Alex said. "Thanks."

Mulder just nodded, smiling gently once again.

"Why...why are you doing this?" Alex asked again, as if unable to accept Mulder's explanation of 'because you need it.'

Mulder sighed, knowing Alex wanted more of a real answer, and not knowing exactly how to give one, since he wasn't sure he knew the reason himself, completely.

"VCS recognized you on a...video," he said quietly. Alex sighed, closing his eyes again. "Are you sure you wanna hear this?" Mulder asked, leaning forward.

Alex nodded, keeping his eyes closed. Mulder sighed.

"Okay. Well, they knew I was...looking for you, so they called me up to...see the tape." Alex's eyes opened and he rolled them, turning his head to the side sadly. Mulder chewed his lip, but knowing they were past the worst part, he was able to continue more firmly. He gave Alex's arm a very gentle squeeze. "I knew it was you right off, and I went to New York and found you there." He stroked Alex's arm with his thumb, and Alex's lips trembled. Mulder gave him time to get control, then Alex turned to face him again.

"How did you get me out of there?"

"I went undercover as a snuff movie producer," Mulder said with obvious disgust. "I told them I wanted to hire...Angelface. I gave them enough money that they...they aren't expecting your return." Mulder swallowed and stared at the sheet next to their hands. His heart squeezed at the sound of quiet despair that sighed out of Alex's chest.

"They sold me to you."

"Yeah." Mulder's voice was quiet.

Alex sighed. "How much?" He coughed a little, wincing. Mulder reached for the cup of water and lifted Alex's head without being asked, and Alex took a drink, nodding when he'd had enough. Mulder lowered his head to the pillow, then bit his lip and answered.

"Hundred thousand. Plus ten more to get you a week earlier than they wanted to give you to me."

Alex choked out a painful laugh. "I've been paid more than that to kill a man," he said, then quickly looked up at Mulder, his regret obvious in his frightened eyes. Mulder just sighed. "I'm...sorry, Mulder. I won't ever bring that shit up again."

"No, Alex, actually, I do want to hear about your past," said Mulder, settling his hand in over Alex's arm again, causing Alex to let out a relieved sigh. "I want to know how you ended up in such a revolting place." He kept his voice gentle.

"It was...after we fucked up the hit on Scully." He closed his eyes. "Sorry, Mulder. My truths aren't pretty. Are you sure you want to hear this?"

Mulder nodded, his eyes awash in old pain.

Alex sighed. "Well, Spender blamed me," continued Alex. At Mulder's look of confusion, he explained, "That's the smoking man's real name...well, as far as we know, anyway." Mulder's lips parted in surprise at how easily Alex seemed to letting slip the secrets of his former employers. Alex laughed hoarsely again. "Yeah, Mulder, I'm ready to answer all those fucking questions you carry around in your eyes all the time. What have I got to lose now?" He leveled his gaze at Mulder. "Besides," he added. "You own me."

Mulder studied him for a moment, neither man speaking or looking away, then Mulder sighed. "Go on."

Alex sighed, too. "He tried to kill me. Car bomb. I'm not even sure how, but at the last second, I figured it out." His voice got raspy, and he tried to clear his throat, but his next words were just as rough. "I ran like a bat out of hell, and from that time on, I was on my own." He coughed, wincing and grasping his ribs with his arms painfully, and Mulder leaned forward without thinking about it, placing his hands on Alex's arms.

"Hey, take it easy. Why don't you get some rest. Let go..." He pulled Alex's arms gently away from his body and laid them carefully at his sides. Alex didn't fight him. "Just rest for now. We've got time. We'll talk later."

Alex closed his eyes and nodded, and with a deep sigh, seemed to fall almost immediately into sleep. When Mulder could tell he was fully asleep, he stood up, stretching his back, rolling his head on his aching shoulders. It was so hard to hear Alex talk about trying to kill Scully. This meant he was involved in Melissa Scully's murder, just as Cardinale had claimed, and Mulder wasn't sure how Scully was going to react to that news.

The door opened, and the motor home was filled with the smell of Mexican food. Scully dumped the bag on the table and walked over to check on Alex. "How's he doing?"

"He's better," replied Mulder, walking over to the table. "He's talking...well, he was, until he got tired."

"Oh? What did he say?"

Mulder picked through the bag, extracting warm, fragrant bundles and laying them out side by side. "He gave us a name...for the smoker."

"A name? A real one?"

"Spender. Alex said that's what they know him as anyway. He said Spender tried to kill him, and he's been rogue ever since."

Scully frowned. "Why did Spender want to kill him?"

Mulder sighed, staring at the row of burritos. "He messed up an assignment. Hit the wrong woman."

"What woman......Oh." Scully's voice got quiet, and she blinked rapidly, staring at a spot on the table.

"I still don't know if he was...the shooter or not," continued Mulder quietly.

Scully shook her head, cutting him off. "Let's eat, Mulder. We can find out the rest later."

Mulder nodded and sat down at his place at the table. Scully walked over quietly and joined him, and they ate their meal in silence.

Mulder scooped up the wrappers and threw them in the trash, wiping down the table with a paper towel. "Can you work with him...Scully...if he was the one who..." He let the sentence trail off.

"I don't know," said Scully softly. Her voice was so high and hurt and raw that Mulder couldn't help but slide into the bench seat next to her and put his arm around her. She leaned into his chest, a silent tear making its way down her cheek as she dealt with the still-new pain of the loss of her sister. Mulder said nothing, leaning his head on hers and stroking her hair.

A desperate moan came from the man in the bed and they both started, coming apart quickly. Mulder slid out and Scully rose and hurried over to the bed, checking the monitors. Alex's voice was rising as he moaned, his head rolling on the pillow as he thrashed.

"Noooooooo...plee-hease..." His voice broke on a sob and Mulder went to his side, taking his customary hold on Alex's arm.

"Alex...wake up...you're dreaming." Mulder leaned in as Scully made sure his monitors were all attached and functioning properly after his thrashing. Alex's eyes flew open suddenly, his mouth open in a gasp.

"Hurts...." he breathed. "God...hurts."

"I know, Alex. Scully's giving you more medication. Hang in there." Mulder leaned in close, keeping Alex focused on his face as Scully pumped more painkillers into his IV.

"We can't give him too much," said Scully, curiously referring to her patient in the third person, even though it was obvious Alex could hear and understand her. Mulder's eyes closed as he realized how much pain she must be in, being forced to care for the possible murderer of her sister. "He's still very weak, and we can't let his respiration drop too much. Until his pulse and blood pressure stabilize and he's doing better, I can't do much else for the pain." She continued to fuss over machines and connections, and Alex's eyes narrowed, not missing the fact that she wasn't talking to him.

"You told her," he rasped. Mulder just nodded. Alex nodded back, his eyes closing on a sigh. "I didn't shoot her, Scully," he said quietly, not opening his eyes. "If it matters." He breathed in deeply. "I was there, though." He opened his eyes and stared at Mulder, who was still leaning over him. "I'm sorry," he said softly, his voice breaking.

"Me too," replied Scully without looking at him. Then without another word, she walked over to the door and went outside, the door closing quietly behind her. Mulder sighed deeply.

"This is really hard for her," he explained helplessly. "She loved her sister very much."

"I know," Alex whispered. "If I could take it back, I would."

"Why, Alex? Why would you do something like that? You don't seem..." Mulder's voice faded.

"Like the type?" asked Alex softly. "Don't be fooled by this face, Mulder. I'm not a choirboy. Never was."

"No one's a choirboy, Alex. Not really. But you were going to kill Scully! How am I supposed to understand that?" Mulder's voice was rising as he stared down into Alex's face.

"You're not, Mulder," replied Alex. "You never could. You're not like me. You're...a good person." He didn't close his eyes but his eyes dropped to Mulder's chest, unable to meet Mulder's intense gaze.

"That's a lame answer," said Mulder darkly. "We all make our choices, Alex. You chose to do his bidding. Why?"

"God, Mulder...you just bought me for a hundred thousand bucks. He paid more, and as much as you own me now, he owned me then. I had no fucking choice." Now the eyes closed, the damaged fists clenching in the sheet under him.

"What do you mean, he owned you? People aren't property, Alex."

Alex laughed, mirthlessly. "Keep believing that, Mulder. Wish I could. I haven't been anything but property since I can remember. Everything stays the same, only the scenery changes." He opened his eyes and a sarcastic grin curled his lips. "This shit with..." He swallowed, eyes narrowing. "'Star Power' isn't new. I mean, I've rented my body out before. It's my fallback plan." He laughed again, then coughed slightly, jarring Mulder. Mulder leaned back, taking his seat next to Alex.

"I was selling it when I was approached by these other people," continued Alex without waiting for Mulder's encouragement. "They wanted rougher stuff...hardcore S and M stuff and just plain punching and kicking. They offered me a lot more money. I figured I'd make what I needed to get out more quickly this way, and hell...getting beat up is no new thing for me, so I agreed."

Mulder left his hands in his lap, resting on tense thighs, saying nothing. Alex cleared his ragged throat and continued. "This 'Star Power' asked my handler if I'd be interested in doing some film work, and before I knew it, I was getting beaten up on screen. Things get...hazy after that. They got me hooked on smack, to keep me working through the pain, and the customers got...sicker. I just remember waking up in weird places, hurting all over, some places worse than others. Sometimes I'd wake on a bed, other times chained to a wall. I never really knew what was happening except that all of it hurt." His voice trailed off into a choked whisper and Mulder's hands clenched on his thighs, wanting to offer comfort. "The next thing I remember is waking up with your face in front of me...and your body...laying over mine," he finished softly. He sighed heavily and turned his head to the side, away from Mulder.

"You were convulsing," Mulder explained quietly. "I didn't want you to do more damage to yourself."

"Why the fuck do you care?" Alex bit out, still facing away.

"Alex, nobody deserves what you've been through," said Mulder, finally reaching for Alex's arm, this time with both hands. "Yeah, I've wanted revenge...wanted to hurt you...even wanted to kill you at one time, but that..." He rubbed Alex's arm with his hands softly. "I can't stand by and see anyone go through that, Alex. Not even you."

Alex laughed again. "Not even me."

Mulder sighed, taking one hand away but leaving the other just where it was. "Yeah, Alex. You're not my favorite person. This isn't a secret. But...I dunno. Maybe I'm a naive asshole, but I can't help think there's something worth saving behind that pretty face."

Alex was silent for a few minutes. "I don't think so, Mulder," he said softly, pulling his arm out of Mulder's grasp for the first time, though ineffectually, since there were only a couple of inches of leeway.

"Alex...you can make a choice. That's all it is. You're still a human being, no matter what you've done."

Alex sniffed. "No matter what, huh, Mulder?"

Mulder nodded, though Alex was still facing away and couldn't have seen it.

"Even if...I killed your father?" He turned to face Mulder, his eyes glinting steel.

Mulder didn't break his gaze, just narrowing his eyes slightly. "Even if you killed my father," he said softly, though it obviously pained him to say it.

"God, Mulder...how can you be so...fucking trusting? Everyone's screwed you over! Your mother, your father, your boss, me...do you ever learn?"

"I guess I want to believe," said Mulder softly. "I want to believe that it's never too late."

Alex looked to the side again, his breathing harsh. "I need to sleep," he choked out. "I'm tired."

Mulder nodded and pulled his hand away from Alex's arm. He sat back in the chair, getting more comfortable, reaching for a magazine.

"Aren't you leaving?" asked Alex tightly.

"It's my shift." Mulder opened the magazine and paged through it slowly. "I guess I could go get Scully, but I think it's probably better if we give her some space, don't you?"

Alex didn't answer with anything but a sigh. He bent his knees, his body shifting uncomfortably in the bed.

"Need something?" asked Mulder without looking up from his magazine. He knew Alex hated that he was dependent on someone he'd wronged so seriously in the past, and he also knew that the kindness he was showing was harder than any coldness could be.

"I'm fine."

Mulder laughed then for the first time since Alex had awakened. "Yeah, you look fine."

Alex sighed deeply, but didn't say anything else, and pretty soon his breathing evened out, and Mulder could see that his body was relaxed. He reached down and pulled up the sheet and blanket, and sat back in the chair to wait for Scully's return.


His head snapped up from where he was napping against his chest as Scully opened the door and entered the motorhome.


"How is he?"

Mulder snorted. "Fine."

"Good," she answered shortly, checking his machines. "Go get some air, Mulder. You haven't had a break all day."

"Are you sure, Scully? I mean...after what he said, I'd understand if you weren't ready to sit with him."

"I'm fine, Mulder."

Mulder's eyes rolled slightly. 'Everybody's fine.' "Fine. I'll go for a run, then. Every muscle in my body aches." He stood up from the chair, his back cracking as he stretched. He walked over to the fridge, grabbing himself a bottle of water and downing half of it in one long swig. Scully took her place beside Alex's bedside.

"Take your time," she said, slipping on her glasses and grabbing up Alex's chart. "You need some time away."

Mulder walked up behind her, placing a hand on her shoulder, stroking softly with his thumb. "Okay. I'll be back in a little while," he said, giving her a squeeze. She briefly squeezed his hand back, then returned to her journal, and Mulder removed his hand, sighing quietly, and walked to the door and opened it. He looked back once before stepping out of the med-unit and closing the door softly behind him.

Scully read and re-read Alex's chart, then pored over the case file Mulder had brought with him, frowning at the pictures of the other victim, pale and comatose in a hospital bed. Against her will, she found herself grateful that they'd been able to help Alex avoid the same fate. As if hearing her thoughts, the man on the bed groaned, his head rolling to the other side, facing Scully, though his eyes were squeezed tightly shut.

"Help...somebody...God, please stop him..." His voice was small and choked, and Scully's throat felt constricted listening to it. She reached out and placed her hand on his chest lightly, leaning over him, placing her lips close to his ear.

"Alex...wake up...you're dreaming."

Alex blinked himself awake and his eyes widened in fear as he saw Scully leaning over him.

Scully saw his reaction. "Don't worry. I'm here to help you." She sat back in her chair, removing her glasses.

Alex stared at her like an animal in a snare. He seemed much more afraid of her than of Mulder.

"I'm a doctor, Alex. I took an oath not to harm."

"Thank God for oaths," replied Alex softly. "Guess I'd be dead meat otherwise, huh?" His voice was raspy, and Scully reached for the water, leaning over him and helping him raise his head to drink. He acted surprised, but drank carefully, then sat back, licking the water from his lips with a relieved sigh, as she set the cup back down and settled back into the chair.

"You very nearly were," she said tonelessly.

"Yeah, so I hear," replied Alex, not taking his eyes off her.

"I guess I may as well update you on your condition," she continued, paging back to the front sheet of his chart. He nodded, and she continued. "Multiple scalp wounds, appears some tufts of hair were...pulled out, but I put in some stitches and there's no evidence yet of skull fracture." Alex nodded again, and she went on, looking at the chart, while Alex continued watching her intently. "You have a break in one of your facial bones, your eye socket, but I was able to set it rather well, I think, and it shouldn't have a permanent effect on your appearance."

"Wouldn't wanna mess up my pretty face," said Alex bitterly. "What would I have to make my living with?"

Scully ignored him and continued. "I'm sure I don't have to tell you that your ribs are bruised and cracked." Alex chuffed out a pained laugh in response. "But we're hoping there are no sharp edges. You're not vomiting or breathing blood, so we're pretty confident so far."

"Yay." Alex's voice was flat.

"You were totally malnourished and dehydrated when you got here...do you remember when you ate last?"

Alex narrowed his eyes, then shook his head tiredly. Scully merely nodded and went on. "Well, anyway, we've had you on nutritive IV and you're doing much better. I've got you catheterized." Alex frowned, his nose wrinkling with embarrassment as he looked away. "And I'm analyzing your output regularly. The Ketamine appears to have pretty much been washed out of your system, as well as the bulk of the heroin, and your electrolytes are returning to normal."

"Um...when can I...get rid of that?" Alex's voice was small.

"When you can walk." Scully looked up from her papers, meeting his gaze fearlessly.

"I'll work on that, then," replied Alex, his eyes flicking away from hers. Scully nodded.

"Your entire body is covered with cuts, bruises, welts and several burns, but so far nothing's become seriously infected. We've kept them medicated and bandaged. We'll need to start changing those regularly, with your help, now." Alex sighed and nodded, bringing his eyes back to hers.

It was Scully's turn to look away, studying the clipboard on her lap intently. "You've had...substantial trauma to your anus and rectal walls," she said quietly. "I...took a few stitches and so far, things look good. You appear to be healing well."

"Jesus." Alex closed his eyes, turning his head away from Scully. Scully chewed her lip and kept her eyes on his chart. She was surprised to hear the soft voice coming from the hard man on the bed.

"Thanks, Scully. I owe you my life."

"I'm a doctor. It's my job." Her voice was quiet.

He turned to look at her. "Scully." She looked up, and he stared at her hard. "I would not be alive without you. I owe you everything. I mean it. Thank you."

"You're welcome," replied Scully, looking down at the chart again. "But Mulder is the one who risked his life going undercover to find you," she added.

"I know," replied Alex. "Dumb asshole. What the hell was he thinking?" Scully looked up, surprised. "He's so damned...predictable." Scully smiled slightly.


"Yeah, predictable. He'll always risk his ass trying to save some loser's life, no matter how worthless the scum he's trying to save is."

"He respects human life," said Scully quietly. "And...he's a good man."

"Yeah," said Alex, falling silent. He looked down, then turned his head to the side again, his eyes closing. He said nothing more, and soon had fallen back to sleep. When she was sure he was totally under, Scully leaned forward and brushed the hair from his forehead with a sigh. Mulder was right. There did appear to be something worth saving in this man. She hoped that she and Mulder had what it would take to find it.

She was reading a journal article featuring bleeding head wounds and their treatment and possible complications when Mulder came though the door, breathing hard. "Hey Scully."

"Hi Mulder. Did you have a good run?"

"Yeah," replied Mulder, gulping down another bottle of water. "That's a gorgeous beach out there. You forget that, sitting in here with all the windows covered." Scully just gave him a slight smile and nodded. "So, how is he?"

"He's doing really well," Scully replied. "He's pretty resilient."

"Yeah, well, I guess that's why he was so popular," said Mulder darkly. Scully nodded, her face serious.

"We talked."

Mulder looked up, catching her eye. "And?"

Scully sighed. "He thanked me for saving his life. Said he owed me everything."

"I'm the one who got him out of there," said Mulder, only half-serious in his petulance.

Scully smiled. "Yeah, he said you were a dumb asshole for saving scum like him."

Mulder laughed, surprised at Scully's language. "He's probably right," he said, pulling up a chair next to her.

"I actually don't think so," she said without looking at him.

"You don't?" he asked quietly.

"No, I don't. I think...I think you were right, Mulder," she said, lifting her eyes to meet his. "He's worth saving."

Mulder nodded and reached for her hand, taking it gently in his for a moment before she pulled it away. "Now we just need to convince him," she said, picking up her journal again. Mulder nodded again, then got up to himself a snack before coming back over and sitting down again. "You want to go to bed, Scully? I can take a shift for awhile."

"No, I'm fine, Mulder. I...I want to be here when he wakes up." She looked back down at her journal, perusing it intently.

Mulder nodded. "I'll stay too," he said quietly. "I think it's time we talked to him together." Scully looked up and gave him a grateful smile, then turned back to her journal, honestly reading the article before her this time. Mulder picked up a book from the floor and leaned back in the chair, getting comfortable.

This time Alex came awake without nightmares, but hissing with pain as the medication wore off. Scully quickly got to her feet, injecting more painkiller into his IV, and Mulder set down his book and leaned forward.

"Oh shit. You're both here now," croaked Alex.

"Good morning to you, too, sunshine," replied Mulder, smirking.

"How are you feeling, Alex?" Scully asked, feeling his pulse.

"Like shit that's been run through a shredder," answered Alex without hesitation.

"Well, now that we have the popular opinion, how about the medical one?" Mulder looked up at Scully, who was letting one end of her mouth curve up in a half-grin at Alex's candid reply.

"Do you want to try to sit up?" she asked, taking care not to mention the catheter which wasn't coming out until he could stand on his own. He caught her meaning all the same.

"Yes," he ground out with conviction.

"Good," she replied, giving his arm a pat. "But let's wait until your meds kick in. You're stronger, so I was able to give you a much bigger dose this time. You should feel the best you have yet in just a little bit."

"Thank God," Alex groaned, his head falling into his pillow, eyes closing. Scully came around to stand beside Mulder, fidgeting with the various wires connected to different places on Alex's body. Mulder just sat there, leaning forward but not touching Alex. They waited while the meds quickly put Alex into a relaxed, almost pain-free state.

"Ahhhh yeah, baby, that's the stuff," he said with a sigh. "Scully you are one prime bitch."

Scully frowned at Alex's assessment of her and Mulder grinned, mouthing the word 'morphine.' She rolled her eyes and walked around to stand on the opposite side of Alex's bed.

"Thanks, I think," Scully said. "Now. Are you ready to try this sitting up thing?"

"Fuckin' A!" Alex slurred, already struggling to lift his body off the bed. Mulder and Scully both stepped in to his sides, sliding hands around to his back, helping bear part of his weight at his body bent at the waist, bringing him to a sitting position. Alex panted with the effort. "Whew! Damn, what's that smell? Oh, it's me. Sorry." He grinned, his eyes droopy and dazed.

"Uh yeah, you're definitely overripe by anyone's standards," replied Mulder as Scully cranked the bed up behind Alex, supporting him in his new position. Mulder pushed pillows behind his back and they lowered him down, situating him against the raised bed. Alex hummed out a closed-lipped laugh.

"Wanna give me a sponge bath?" he said, staring down at his lap, smiling.

"Uh, I think I'll leave that to Mulder," Scully replied, blushing slightly at his smoky tone of voice.

"I was *talking* to Mulder," said Alex, raising his eyes, looking up at Mulder from under his lashes. Mulder's mouth dropped open and he jerked his hands back from Alex's body. Scully choked out a tiny giggle. "Don't act so surprised, Mulder," slurred Alex. "Just cuz I dropped you on it doesn't mean I didn't *want* your ass." He continued smiling at Mulder, his hands held low in his lap, fingers stroking his abdomen absently.

"Uh..." Mulder replied, stepping back further. Alex laughed low in his throat.

"Oh, don't play that with me, G-man," he said. "I know you play on both teams. Shit, I know everything about you, even how you like it best." He looked over at Scully, whose turn it was to stand with mouth agape. "He's hot for you, too, Red," he said, nodding. "You oughta see some o' them survlayance...surlavance...spy tapes." He winked at her and turned back to Mulder, who was blinking and licking his lips. "Oh and that thing you like best, Mulder? I'm reallllly good at it," said Alex, licking his own nearly-healed lips slowly.

"What the *fuck* did you put in that IV, Scully?" asked Mulder, eyes wide.

"I...I gave him a good, healthy dose of morphine, is all. Sometimes it has a depressive effect on a person's impulse control." She shrugged, a small smile trying to play at the corners of her mouth.

"Jesus!" said Mulder, running his hand through his hair.

"Thanks for the drip, Scully. I'm feeling sooooo much nicer, now," said Alex, giving her a brilliant smile. She couldn't help but smile back.

"Good, Alex. I'm glad you don't hurt anymore."

"Fuck no, I don't hurt. I mean, yeah, sure some stuff still hurts, but damn...I'm feeling good on top of the pain, ya know? Hey," Alex babbled on. "Can we try that standing-up- so-you-can-get-the-tube-outta-your-dick thing?"

Scully had to really work to bite back her smile. "If you think you're ready. Mulder, you'll need to help him."

Alex turned and gave Mulder a sultry look. "Yeah, Mulder, come over here and help me out."

"I'm not...I don't think...can't you do this, Scully?" Mulder sounded desperate, even whiny. Scully tried not to grin.

"I'm not big enough, Mulder. Even with his weight loss, Alex is a big guy, and there's no way I can support him. I need your help, Mulder." She turned her attention to the leering man on the bed. "Alex, do you promise to be good?"

"MMMmmmmyeah..." answered Alex, licking his lips, not taking his eyes off Mulder.

Mulder looked at Scully, raising his eyebrows as if to say, 'See?'

"Alex, that's *not* what I mean," she said, taking his jaw gently in her hand and turning him to face her. "You're scaring poor Mulder,"

"Hey!" said the scared man in question.

She ignored him. "So why don't you just promise to be on your best behavior or you're going to be stuck in that bed with that...catheter for a lot longer time. You need his help."

Alex made a face and rolled his eyes. "All right," he said, turning to look at Mulder again. Mulder jerked slightly as those eyes focused in on his again. Alex smiled, looking innocent and at the same time *not.* "No touchee. I promise."

Mulder sighed. "Jesus," he breathed, stepping forward. "Okay, what do we need to do here?"

"You help Alex bring his legs down off the bed, then put your arm around him, holding him up under the arms, helping him use you as a support to pull himself to a standing position."

"Sorry I smell so bad," said Alex with a fake pout. Mulder rolled his eyes.

"I'll live."

"There's always the sponge bath thing," said Alex, grinning.

"Alex..." Scully warned him.

"I'm not! I'm not! I really do need a bath, Scully!" His voice was entreating. "Do you wanna give it to me?" He turned his grin on her, his eyes going purposely dark and full of hidden meaning. Scully swallowed.

"Let's deal with that after we get you peeing on your own," she said, watching some of the confidence in his eyes flicker at her reminder of his vulnerable condition.

"Okay, okay," he said, turning back to Mulder. "Help me?" he asked, quietly, brows raised.

Mulder scowled but stepped forward, reaching for Alex's sheet and pulling it off his body, remembering that Alex was dressed in a very short, thin hospital gown and nothing else. It hadn't really bothered him before, but the knowledge that this man had a thing for him changed absolutely everything. He tried to keep his eyes off Alex's body as he reached for his legs, avoiding horrible looking bruises and welts as he gently brought them to the edge of the bed.

Alex grunted with the pain of moving, even through the obviously pleasant haze of morphine. Mulder slid one arm under Alex's and around his back, and reached around with the other one to meet it. Alex's arms came up around Mulder's neck as Mulder pulled back, helping him stand up. With a loud grunt and much panting, Alex was finally standing on his own, arms still wrapped around Mulder's neck.

"Thanks," he gasped without a hint of mischief.

"You're welcome," replied Mulder, removing his hands carefully, helping the swaying Alex steady himself. He held out his arm and Alex took it, gripping it tightly, his face a serious mask of intent. "You okay?"

"Yeah," answered Alex with a shuddering breath. "It's just...harder than I thought it would be." He looked defeated and weak now, the total opposite of the cocky little flirt Mulder had just had throwing him looks from his hospital bed. Mulder frowned at the broken sound of his quiet voice.

"How do you know how hard it is?" said Mulder, surprising even himself with the teasing tone of his voice. He couldn't meet Scully's shocked stare, though he saw it out of the corner of his eye. Alex smiled faintly, one corner of his mouth quirking up.

"Thanks, Mulder," he said, looking at him shyly from under his lashes.

"Let's get you to the john," replied Mulder, wondering why he'd decided to flirt back, and deciding it was only because he wanted Alex to feel better...he didn't like seeing him hurt. He helped him walk, slowly and painstakingly, the short distance to the tiny bathroom and opened the door.

"I...don't need any help holding it," said Alex with a smirk. "Although if you insist..."

"I'll wait here," said Mulder turning around, crossing his arms in front of him. Alex turned around and let out a long sigh as he relieved his bladder for the first time in days. He actually turned on the taps, washing his hands afterward, to Scully's amazement, then put his hand on Mulder's shoulder.

"I'm ready," he said quietly.

Mulder turned around and put his arms out, offering Alex his body as a crutch once again. Alex shuffled his way back over to the bed, then put his arms back around Mulder's neck as Mulder helped him lower himself onto the bed, then swing his legs up while leaning to the side. Alex sighed loudly, breathing long, shuddering breaths as he recovered from his exertions. He was covered in sweat from head to toe and the whole motorhome smelled of it. Mulder closed his nose, breathing through his mouth, accepting the fact that he was going to have to help Alex get clean somehow or this smell was not gonna get any better.

"You want to rest?" Scully asked, checking his pulse.

"Yeah, just a little while," answered Alex, eyes closed, still catching his breath.

"Okay, you catch your breath. Sleep if you can. I'll go get you some juice and we can start getting you back on real food, 'kay?"

"Sounds really fucking good, Scully," Alex sighed, nestling into the pillows, still in a reclining position. Mulder was about to turn around and go change out of his Alex-sweat-smelling T-shirt when he heard a soft voice from the bed. "Thanks, Mulder. Really. Thanks."

Mulder looked over and Alex still had his eyes closed. He reached out and briefly laid his hand on Alex's arm, like he had so many times before. "No problem." Alex's lips twitched in a tired smile and Mulder smiled back and then pulled away to go change. Scully waited outside the curtain until Mulder exited, dressed in a clean shirt.

"Can I talk to you up front a sec, Mulder?"

"Uh yeah, sure," replied Mulder, looking worried. Scully made her way to the front of the motor home and took a seat in one of the huge, armed seats. Mulder slid into the other. "What is it?"

"Mulder...what Alex said in there..."

"Um yeah, I'm bisexual, Scully." Mulder breathed out quickly. "Is that a problem for you?" He sounded worried.

"Of course not. I could care less, and, frankly, Mulder, I've seen your porn collection. This is not news to me."

Mulder chewed his cheek and looked embarrassed, but said nothing.

"I'm talking about Alex, Mulder. He's obviously attracted to you. How do you feel about that? I mean, normally it wouldn't be any of my business, but given your history, and the fact that you're planning to ask him to work with us again..."

"Yeah, I know, Scully. And you don't have to feel like it's not your business." Mulder sighed, staring at his own reflection in the shaded windshield. "Honestly? I was attracted to him, too, Scully, once upon a time. I think we both kind of felt there was something there, although neither one of us acted on it."

"Really?" Scully's voice was curious. "Wow...that actually explains a lot, Mulder."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I never did quite understand the power of your...passionate hatred of this man, and how you were just so sure that he was the one responsible for your father's death, when you had absolutely no proof."

"He told me last night that he did kill him, Scully."

"I'm sorry," Scully said, giving him a sad smile. "But that's not the point, really. The point is that you knew that before there was really any reason to think it. And you almost killed him, Mulder. I stopped you, remember?"

Mulder reached up and stroked his fingers below his collarbone, fingering the healed bullet wound there. "Yeah, Scully, I remember," he said, smiling back. "I guess I see your point. His betrayal of me hurt more because I did feel this attraction to him, and I guess I was pissed because I thought he'd faked it on his side. I felt like a stupid fool and I wanted to hurt him back."

"And now that you know it wasn't faked on his side?" Scully asked, softly.

Mulder sighed. "I guess I feel better, somehow, because at least I know *that* part wasn't just me being crazy. And I guess it makes his betrayal a little easier to handle, knowing that he was doing this to someone he actually felt...something for." He stopped, his gaze dropping to the floor between them. "Although I'm sure it's nothing more than animal lust, and it certainly wasn't enough to stop him from fucking up my life."

"Mulder..." Scully said gently. "Did you feel...more than just lust for him?"

Mulder chewed his cheek thoughtfully and sighed. "At one point, maybe I did. I know I trusted him. I wanted to so badly, Scully. I wanted to trust him like I trusted you. You...made me need that."

Scully smiled and reached out, brushing his hand with hers, laying it on his knee.

"I guess that, combined with my...physical attraction to him, added up to a little more than animal lust," he went on. "But it was only potential, never realized."

Scully looked into his eyes, nodding. "I just want you to know, Mulder, that whatever you feel is okay. He's not the person we thought he was. I'm not sure who he *is* just yet, but I think, like I said before, that there's definitely something there worth saving."

Mulder nodded and smiled back, stroking over her hand with his own. "You're...Jesus, this is the hardest part...um, he was right, you know, when he said that I was...attracted to you, too, Scully."

Scully looked down and blushed.

"And I know it's more than...lust," Mulder continued, quietly, breathing shallowly.

"I...I don't know what to say, Mulder," said Scully quietly, still staring at the floor, eyes blinking.

"It's okay if you don't feel it too, Scully," Mulder said, leaning in. "It's nothing I can't handle. Nothing I haven't handled for a few years now."

At that, Scully's lips curved into a smile and she glanced up from under her lashes. "Years?"

"Well, yeah, years!" said Mulder as if it were the most ridiculous question he'd ever heard. "I've been...attracted to you since you dropped your robe!"

"Oh, Jesus, that," said Scully with a sigh, closing her eyes. "I was so young...so scared...and God help me, I was so attracted to you. I was a complete idiot!"

"For being attracted to me?"

"No!" Scully looked up quickly to find Mulder grinning at her happily. "No, Mulder," she said, grinning back. "For thinking you'd jump me if I took my clothes off for you. I should have known you'd be too much of a gentleman to fall for that."

"Or too much of a moron," corrected Mulder, his fingers sliding over Scully's, which still rested on his knee. Scully's smile gentled.

"But I'm actually glad you didn't," she said, putting her other hand on top of Mulder's, trapping his hand on top of hers, which was trapped on his knee.

"Oh," said Mulder, sounding a little disappointed.

"No, not because of what you're thinking, Mulder," she said, leaning in. "Because what we have now is so much more," she continued, forcing him to meet her eyes.

"So...you'd rather be friends with me than sleep with me," Mulder clarified, his voice even.

"I didn't say that."

Mulder's brows shot up again, and Scully grinned, obviously enjoying herself. "I just think that if anything were to happen, Mulder," His eyes widened and she smiled bigger, but her voice was soft and serious. "It would mean so much more now that I know you so well."

Mulder breathed out a long, surprised sigh, not taking his eyes off her. They narrowed, as if considering what she'd said, then he smiled. "Yeah." They looked at each other a few more minutes, not taking their hands away. Finally, Scully pulled her hand back, and Mulder removed his, then she finally removed her hand from his knee. It was hot and slightly moist where their hands had been, the air in the Winnebago rapidly cooling it under the thin cotton knit of Mulder's sweat pants.

Neither one of them could see the little smile on their patient's face as he kept his eyes closed, appearing to be resting from his earlier exercise. He pulled the blanket up higher and snuggled into the pillows, really beginning to let sleep pull him under, now that there was no more quiet talk to hear. He drifted into a deep, peaceful, dreamless sleep, carried away on a soft cloud of morphine haze.

His attendants came back into the medical area, and Scully laid down for a short nap, telling Mulder to wake her in two hours. He nodded and settled into his chair with a book, looking up from time to time to check on his sleeping charge. When two hours had passed, he got up and gently shook Scully, stroking the hair out of her face as she blinked herself awake.

"Two hours. You told me to wake you," he said, his thumb stroking her cheek softly.

She smiled. "Thanks," she said softly, her hand coming up over his for a moment before she rose up out of bed, stretching her tired limbs. She walked over to their patient.

"Time for another morphine dose," Scully said quietly, trying not to wake Alex, so pretty in his sweet repose.

"Do you really think that's a good idea?" Mulder smirked, looking a little worried.

"He needs it for the pain, Mulder," she said with a smile. "You'll just have to be prepared for an honest, horny Alex."

Mulder sighed. "It's a dirty job..."

Scully laughed quietly, pushing the dose of morphine into the IV tube. "You know, Mulder, you *are* going to have to help him get himself cleaned up," she said, giving him a look. "Unless you want me to do it?"

"No. No, Scully," said Mulder quickly, more disturbed by the thought of Scully being subjected to Alex's harassment than with the thought of enduring it himself. "I'll take care of it. He's well enough to do most of it himself, right?"

"Probably. If you're lucky, he can get everything down to his thighs. You'll just need to help him with a cap shampoo and wash his back and calves and feet. Think you can handle that?"

"Cap shampoo?"

Scully laughed. "I guess I can do that part, or we can do it together."

"OOooo I like the sounds of that. Washing Alex's hair together. Sounds kinky."

Scully smirked. "I doubt Alex will feel that way once I get the stupid-looking thing on his head."

Mulder smiled. "You're probably right, although with that morphine loosening him up, you just don't know what to expect."

"That's for sure," replied Scully, already laying out a supply of disposable bathing cloths and a clean towel, then bringing out a lumpy plastic package and setting it down beside the bed.

Scully was just pouring some white grape juice into a cup when she heard Alex's waking sounds.

"MMmmmmmm..." Alex moaned, low and throaty. Mulder frowned and shifted slightly in his chair. This was far from the noises Alex made waking from his nightmares. He watched, warily, as Alex's eyes fluttered, coming open and then lazily focusing in on Mulder, sitting in the chair beside the bed. Alex smiled. "Morning, Mulder."

"Morning, Alex. Feeling okay?"

"Feeling ooookay," answered Alex. "But my lips are chapped. Think you could put some more of that greasy stuff on them for me, Mulder?"

Mulder narrowed his eyes, one corner of his mouth coming up in a half-grin. He reached over and grabbed the lip balm, taking off the cap. He leaned over Alex, looking into his eyes, then pressed the small tube into one of his hands, sitting back into his chair with a grin.

Alex frowned. "Fun's over, huh?" he grumped, spreading a glop on his finger and rubbing it into his lips roughly, using none of the care Mulder had. Mulder remembered the feeling of those lips, cracked and dry under his finger as he had stroked on the balm carefully. They were nearly completely healed now, looking soft and plump and pink. Mulder watched as Alex rubbed them together, distributing the balm evenly.

"Well, there's still the sponge bath," Mulder said casually. Alex perked up, smiling again, giving Mulder that look from under his lashes. Mulder was really starting to like that look. Mulder's crotch was really starting to like that look. He shifted in his chair and grabbed up a large, pre-moistened bathing cloth, extending it to Alex. "Don't get too excited. There's no reason why you can't do most of it yourself. I'm just here to help with the harder parts." He realized what he'd said the minute it was out, and he bit his lip hard, helpless to take it back.

Alex's grin increased by a hundred watts. "Those are the best parts," he said throatily.

Mulder rolled his eyes, but smiled back, knowing he'd walked into that one. "I'll do your back and lower legs and feet," he said. "You can do the rest."

Alex pouted. "But you'll stay and watch?" he said hopefully, keeping his tone innocent. Mulder looked away and swallowed, then turned back and stared Alex down, giving him a heated a look of his own.

"If you're good, I might."

"I'll be good, Mulder," Alex replied, sounding slightly breathless. "I'll be really good, I promise."

Mulder wondered what the hell he'd gotten himself into, and when Scully was going to return with that toothbrush for Alex, the one thing so far that they'd realized they'd forgotten. He got up and pulled the curtain shut, blocking the view from the door so that no one could see in when the door was opened. He came back to the bed and took his seat again, placing his ankle on his opposite knee, looking much more at ease than he felt.

Alex shook out the cloth. "Damn, this is cold!" he exclaimed. Mulder got up and turned up the space heater.


"Yeah, I guess," said Alex, bringing the cloth up to his face. "Ow!" he hissed as he encountered cuts and scrapes he didn't know were there. Mulder's eyes narrowed, and after watching Alex jerk and hiss in pain as he stroked over wounds he couldn't see for a few more minutes, he leaned forward and pulled the cloth out of his hand briskly.

"Oh Jesus. Let me do that." He pulled his chair up closer and leaned in, making a soft corner with the cloth and wiping Alex's face, working around the healing injuries. He expected Alex to make some smart remark or try something, but Alex appeared to get more and more uncomfortable as Mulder worked, laying back, eyes closed, face tense, breath coming fast and shallow. Mulder skimmed gently over the bruised places and dabbed lightly at the healing cuts, wiping away all the dirt, sweat, blood and grime that he could, until Alex's face and neck were completely clean. He sat back in the chair and dropped the cloth in the trash by the bed. Alex opened his eyes.

"Thanks." His voice was softer than Mulder had ever heard it, and more sincere.

"Sure," he said with a shrug, pulling out another cloth and handing it to Alex. Alex took it wordlessly and started wiping down his arms, moving slowly and with obvious difficulty and discomfort. Mulder sighed again.

"All right, here's the deal," he said. "You lay down, eyes closed, and I'll do the bath. But no remarks, and no trying anything hinky."

Alex stared at him, pink lips parted in surprise, hand stilled with the cloth still hanging from it. Mulder reached forward and took it from him.

"Now lay down and do as I tell you," said Mulder. Alex's mouth twitched, wanting to smile, but he controlled it and lay back against his pillows, looking everything but relaxed. His hands were held stiffly at his sides and his eyes were closed. Mulder looked at him, marveling at how innocent, young, and beautiful he looked like that, completely guileless and vulnerable. He reached forward and started to untie Alex's gown, and Alex twitched at his touch, going even more rigid, but made no move to stop him.

Mulder untied the fasteners and then carefully lifted the halves of the gown away, baring Alex's torso to him. The sheet was still situated just above his navel, so Alex wasn't quite naked, but laying there, exposed before Mulder, breathing hard and waiting for Mulder to touch him, Alex had never looked more naked to Mulder's eyes. He reached forward and Alex's whole body jumped when the cold cloth touched his hot chest.

"Alex, relax," said Mulder, placing his other hand on Alex's shoulder. "It's not good for you to jerk like that." He began to stroke away the dirt and blood and sweat, again working carefully around all of Alex's injuries, wincing when Alex did, sighing when Alex sighed. He pulled the gown's short sleeves down Alex's arms and laid the garment out on the bed around his bared body. He stroked down Alex's arms, changing cloths when one became too dirty, and lifted them to clean his underarms, causing Alex to smirk and squirm and gasp. But Alex didn't open his eyes, and Mulder grinned and continued cleaning him. When he had thoroughly cleaned both arms, his face, neck, chest and upper abdomen, Mulder sat back in the chair.

Alex breathed, his eyes moving rapidly beneath his eyelids, anticipating Mulder's next move.

"Let's keep this cool," said Mulder levelly. Alex nodded tightly. Mulder took a deep breath, then leaned forward and lifted away the sheet and blanket, pulling it down to lie at Alex's feet. Alex's bruised and broken, naked and beautiful body was laid out before him, dark with bruises against the white of the sheets. Mulder sighed loudly, more affected by the abuse the body had experienced than by his moderate arousal.

He started at Alex's ankles, his mouth firming into a white line at the way they were rubbed raw from harsh metal restraints. The bandages removed, he cleaned around the sore spots the best he could, knowing he could spray them with the antiseptic spray before replacing the bandages. He worked his way up the calves and shins, feeling the muscles twitch and jump and bunch beneath his touch.

"Are your muscles...I mean, do you want me to rub them a little?" He knew they were sore. Anyone looking at them would be a total imbecile to ask that. But he didn't know if it would help if he massaged them gently.

"Yeah...that'd be really great," replied Alex with a sigh.

Mulder slid his hands up the bruised muscle, more stroking than rubbing, but still working blood to the stiff limbs. Alex groaned and sighed, his legs moving under Mulder's hands, the muscles loosening and warming. Mulder concentrated on gently working the blood down the legs, stroking his palms in a downward motion, then pressing in with the tips of his fingers and dragging again. Alex whimpered and flexed his knees, obviously tortured, but at the same time benefiting from Mulder's attentions.

Mulder worked his way up, his own breathing getting louder and harsher as his hands got closer and closer to Alex's groin. First he washed, cleaning away the dirt and blood, then he rubbed and stroked, bringing life back to sleeping thigh muscles. He tried not to notice how Alex's cock started to swell and jump against his thigh. He tried even harder not to notice how his was already hard and tenting his sweat pants, brushing against the bed as he worked.

Finally, he had Alex's legs and stomach as clean as they were going to get, and he held his breath and stroked the cloth on the pale skin of Alex's hips, now watching avidly as Alex's erection filled and bobbed up from his body. He quickly finished cleaning the area, then sighed deeply and sat back, pulling the sheet back up over Alex's body.

Alex didn't bother to hide the huge sigh of relief...disappointment...as Mulder covered him back up. Mulder dropped the cloth in the trash and shook out another.

"It's time to do your back," he said in a voice more breathless than he had anticipated. He was throbbing inside his sweats, twitching with each brush of the sensitive cockhead against the fabric. "You need to sit up more."

"Can I open my eyes now?" asked Alex in a half-whisper.

"Uh yeah, I guess so," answered Mulder. He watched as Alex's lashes fluttered against his cheeks, rising to reveal deep, dark eyes with fully dilated pupils. Those riveting eyes zeroed in on Mulder and he stopped breathing. Swallowing, he blinked and raised the cloth. "Do you need help?"

Alex stared into his eyes, breathing slow and deep. "Yes."

Mulder sighed quietly and leaned forward, reaching around in back of Alex to pull him forward, his face just inches from Alex's, the tip of his cock brushing against his thigh, driving a silent gasp from Mulder's lips.

Alex leaned in toward Mulder's ear and moaned as Mulder's cock brushed his thigh again. Mulder gasped out loud and tightened his hold, not daring to look at Alex, whose face was now pressed into his neck, lips at his ear.

"I want you," Alex breathed.

Mulder sighed, his body going weak. He didn't answer, but he pressed a little harder against Alex's thigh and moaned quietly.

"Do you want me?" Alex asked, his breath hot in Mulder's ear.

Mulder gasped again, his eyes closing against the power of his answer, as his cock throbbed where it pressed against Alex. He couldn't remember the last time he'd wanted someone this much, but it also felt so wrong to want Alex when he'd been through so much sexual abuse, as well as physical. He didn't want Alex to feel like he had to use sex as payment for the medical care Mulder and Scully were providing. And he didn't want to take the chance of hurting Alex's already damaged body. He clenched his jaw, willing his hips not to thrust against the thigh now pressing up to meet him.

"Alex..." he gasped into the ear at his lips. Alex moaned and shivered against Mulder's body, pushing his thigh into Mulder's erection. "God..." Mulder gasped out, his lips opening against Alex's neck. "You're such a fucking temptation..."

"Please, Mulder..." Alex moaned into his ear, sliding his hands down Mulder's back. "Let me." He stroked his fingers down Mulder's sides, making Mulder shiver, then slipped his hands just inside the waistband of Mulder's sweat pants. Mulder's hips thrust against Alex's leg, and he groaned helplessly. Alex pulled him down with him as he laid back down on the bed, beginning to move his lips against the skin of Mulder's neck.

"Fffuck..." Mulder breathed, extending his tongue to take a single swipe up the side of Alex's now-clean neck. Alex gasped and bucked up against him, pulling on Mulder urgently, trying to get him up on the bed with him. "I don't want to hurt you," Mulder whispered in his ear.

"Just do what you did before," murmured Alex, continuing to tug. "You weren't hurting me then. It felt better than anything I've ever felt in my life, even through the pain." He licked and kissed at Mulder's neck, and with a sigh, Mulder lifted himself onto the bed, placing one leg between Alex's legs, straddling his thigh. Alex pulled him down into full body contact with a groan, his hard, naked cock being squeezed under the weight of Mulder's right hip.

"Doesn't this hurt?" asked Mulder, thinking of Alex's poor bruised and bloodied torso.

"No, feels good," answered Alex, beginning to move against Mulder. With a resigned moan, Mulder began to thrust against Alex, moving slow and careful, but with increasing urgency. He licked and sucked gently at Alex's neck, feeling Alex moan and kiss and suck his own neck as they moved against each other. Mulder felt himself quickly throbbing closer and closer to the edge, and his movements became faster and harder as he grunted against Alex's neck.

Alex growled and moved faster, too, sliding his hands down into Mulder's pants and grabbing his ass cheeks roughly, pulling him in closer. The hot, rhythmic puffs of Alex's panting in his ear drove Mulder even closer. He pulled his face away from Alex's neck, gasping.


Alex moaned loudly and bit Mulder's neck and that was all he could take. Mulder lost it, jerking and crying out as he spurted against Alex's thigh, grinding out his orgasm to the sounds of Alex's rising groans. Alex was moving against him desperately as he collapsed on top of him and he slid his hand down Alex's body, taking his cock in a firm grasp, and as soon as his hands wrapped around that hot flesh, he felt it twitch and pulse, and Alex sobbed and covered Mulder's hand and hip and his own belly with hot cum.

"Oh God Mulder..." Alex gasped, his hips still moving faintly as he came down from his climax.

"Alex," Mulder sighed, loosening this grip, resting his hand lightly on Alex's sticky cock.

"That was even better than I thought it would be," Alex finished, kneading Mulder's ass with his hands and nuzzling his neck.

"Mmmyeah it was," agreed Mulder, kissing Alex lightly on the neck. They continued to nuzzle and kiss on each other for a few more minutes, then Mulder pulled away, lifting himself off Alex with a groan. Alex reluctantly let his hands slide out of Mulder's pants and let them drop at his sides with a deep sigh.

"You need another bath now," said Mulder, still leaning over Alex.

Alex's eyes were barely staying open but he smiled. "Yeah. Know someone for the job?"

Mulder smiled and stood up, reaching for yet another disposable cloth, grateful that Scully had laid in such a huge supply. "Yeah, but remember our deal. No funny stuff."

Alex laughed, exhausted. "Not me," he said, sounding close to sleep. "I don't do that kind of thing." He closed his eyes and laid against the pillows as Mulder wiped him clean, and when Mulder pulled the sheet and blanket back up after tying his gown on, Alex was fast asleep, a slight smile playing on his lips. Mulder bent in and placed a soft kiss on them, then raised up and threw away the last cloth, heading for the changing room for some fresh clothes.

Scully waited a few more minutes outside the door until she was sure the guys were done, then made plenty of noise as she opened the door and came in. "I've got the toothbrush," she called, quietly enough that she wouldn't wake Alex, who she was sure would be completely knocked out after that, but loudly enough that Mulder would be sure to hear her.

"Great," said Mulder. "I'll be out in a sec. Alex is sleeping."

"So I see," said Scully with a smile. She went over to the bed and studied the look of peaceful content on Alex's face. Mulder came out of the changing room behind her. "He looks like he's doing better," she said, giving him a little look. "How did the bath go?"

Mulder blushed. "It went...fine." He looked away, then at the toothbrush in her hand, then at the bed.

"Yeah, it sounded like it went fine," she said, giving him a big smile.

His mouth dropped open. "You..." He swallowed loudly. "You heard us?"

"Uh huh," answered Scully. "You sure don't waste any time, do you, Mulder? I mean, he's barely sitting up by himself!"

"He started it!"

"Oh really? How is that?"

"Well, he..." Mulder sputtered. "He couldn't do it himself. Wash, I mean!" Scully grinned, delighted. "It hurt him too much to try to do it himself, so I helped him."

"I see. I don't get how that's grounds for..."

"He seduced me, Scully!" Mulder squeaked. He cleared his throat. "He was...pressing up against me and...whispering in my ear. He said he wanted me. It's his fault." Mulder finished, sounding like a petulant six-year-old.

"I don't doubt it, Mulder," Scully finally relented. "Seeing how much he wanted you, I'm surprised he didn't jump you before."

"Oh." Mulder looked at her dumbly.

"Don't worry, Mulder. It doesn't bother me. If anything...I'm jealous."

"Of me or...him?" Mulder asked.

"Of both of you," she answered, getting up and adjusting Alex's wires and machines. Mulder stared at her, dumbstruck, trying to process this new information. He could think of nothing to say, and so finally he shook his head to clear it.

"I'm exhausted, Scully...um...think you can take this shift?"

"I think Alex is doing well enough that we can both sleep now," she answered, stretching her neck, leaning her head side to side. Mulder heard her neck pop and stepped forward, his warm hands falling on her shoulders.

"Let me help with that," he said quietly, beginning to knead her knotted muscles gently.

"MMMmm harder," Scully moaned, tilting her head forward.

Mulder rubbed harder, working his thumbs against her vertebra, hearing her gasps and breathy grunts as he worked the knots free.

"That feels so good," Scully said, bringing her hands up and placing them over his, stopping them.

"Scully," Mulder sighed, moving just a little bit closer against her. "I...we never talked about sex before...it's just..."

Scully turned around and tilted her head up to look at him. "Why don't you just shut up and kiss me, Mulder?"

Mulder choked out a laugh and then slowly slid his hands up her shoulders and neck to cup her face tenderly in his hands. Scully's breathing was becoming more rapid and she slid her own hands up to rest low on his hips. She watched as his face lowered slowly to hers and just before his lips met hers, she closed her eyes.

She whimpered quietly as Mulder's warm lips pressed against her own, and parted hers on a gasp when she felt the hot point of his tongue stroke them open. Mulder grunted and pushed his tongue deeply into her mouth, holding her head firmly in place as he explored her thoroughly. He groaned as Scully's own tongue curled against his, stroking it gently, encouraging its caresses. Mulder's mouth worked against hers for a long moment and then he pulled back, his eyes dazed and heavy lidded and stared down at her in awe.

She blinked slowly, sighing and licking the taste of Mulder from her lips as she stared back. He still held her face in his hands, and her own had slipped down just a bit lower, to rest on the top curves of his ass. She smiled.

"Jesus, Scully..." Mulder swallowed and he narrowed his eyes as if trying to figure out some intricate puzzle.

She laughed softly and squeezed his ass gently, pulling him up against her more firmly. His eyebrows rose and she smiled again as she felt his erection against her abdomen. She wriggled against it and his eyes blinked, his lips parting on a quiet gasp.

"Do you want to lay down, Mulder?" Her voice was lower and deeper than Mulder could remember ever having heard it before. He felt himself harden further against her and wondered at his ability to get it up so soon. He supposed three years without sex will do that to you. Looked like he was making up for it now. He smiled down at her and lowered his lips to hers again, then as she melted into the kiss, he let go of her face and bent lower, suddenly grabbing her under the ass and hoisting her up against him, lifting her off the floor.

"Oh! Mulder!" she cried, quickly grabbing him around the neck to keep from falling backward. He just waggled his eyebrows and carried her the few steps to his bed, barely large enough for him, certainly too small for two. He turned and sat on the edge, Scully straddling his body, and he laid back on the bed, swinging his legs up and lifting them both up on the bed, Scully sitting astride him.

"I like you like this," he said, lifting his hips up into her with gentle thrusts.

"Like what?" she gasped, feeling his hardness bump against her throbbing center, two layers of soft sweat pants separating them but doing little to dull the sensations.

"On top. In charge," he answered, slowly sliding his hands up her sides, face serious.

Scully's head rolled on her shoulders as Mulder's fingers tickled up her ribcage, and she gasped and jerked as they brushed up the sides of breasts. She felt her nipples harden almost painfully and felt herself release a gush of wetness into her panties. She couldn't help but grind against him. "I like it too," she sighed, beginning to rock against him.

He leaned his head back, his eyes closing as his mouth fell open, gasping as Scully ground herself down on his pounding cock. He lifted his hips to meet her and they were moving in concert, his squeezing her breasts gently now. He ran his thumbs in soft circles around her nipples and she cried out, arching into the touch.

"Fuck! Too many clothes," he gasped, grabbing the bottom of her T-shirt and tugging it up over her head. She leaned back, squashing his dick as she raised her arms up and let him take it off. He threw it to the side and wrapped his arms around her small torso, working to unfasten her bra as she leaned forward, sliding back forth along his shaft, moaning. He finally got it off and tossed it to the side, raising his head painfully, trying to get one of those hard pink nipples in his mouth.

Scully slid forward a little, removing her sex from his cock, and he was only disappointed for a moment as she leaned forward, pushing her breast into his mouth, humming. He sucked the nipple in greedily, stroking his hands down inside her sweats, rubbing them in circles on her ass as she whimpered and shook with his attention to her breast. Suddenly she pulled herself free of his mouth with a loud, wet smack and scrambled off the bed.

"Wha..." Mulder started to ask, but then shut up as she quickly pushed her sweat pants and panties to the floor and stepped out of them, climbing back on top of him, totally naked. "Scully...God...you're amazing..."

She grinned down at him ferally and reached for his T-shirt, yanking it up his body. He raised his hands over his head so she could remove it and as soon as she had thrown it on the floor, she slid down his legs, pulling his sweats and underwear down with her. Mulder gasped as the material stroked down over his erection and it jumped free, jerking against his belly, rock hard.

"MmmmmMulder, *you're* amazing," Scully purred, laying forward on his body and pushing his pants and underwear the rest of the way down with her feet as she leaned in toward Mulder's cock, her lips parting. She kicked the clothes to the floor, then settled in more comfortably, her wet sex slick against his legs as she opened her mouth and engulfed the head of his cock in her hot, wet mouth.

"Gah!" Mulder cried out, bucking up into her mouth. She laughed against his flesh and he gasped again, as one hand wrapped around his shaft and the other supported her at his hip. She moaned and sucked gently, her tongue working in wet circles, around and around the head of his cock. Mulder's head pressed back into his pillow and he lifted his hands to her head, resting them gently on her hair, resisting the urge to push her down harder. Scully opened her jaw wider, taking him deeper while squeezing rhythmically and moaning. She slurped and sucked and moved her tongue against the underside of his dick and Mulder was moaning and lifting his hips to meet her every stroke, whimpering with need. "Scuh- Scully!" he gasped. "Jesus, you have to stop!" He grabbed her head firmly in his hands, arresting the bobbing motion of her face. She pulled off, sucking him to the tip, then licking her lips.

"Why?" She said, brushing her breasts against his thighs.

He shuddered. "Because I don't want to come before I get the chance to fuck you," he breathed, trying to keep his eyes focused as she scooted up slightly and rubbed her nipples over his wet cockhead.

"Mmmm..." Scully hummed, moving slowly up his body. "You can fuck me later, Mulder. This time..." She slid her wet pussy lips up his shaft and he groaned helplessly. "I get to fuck you." With that, she lifted her hips, positioning herself just right, then sank down on Mulder's jerking cock with a long, deep groan. "Ooooohhhhh Gahhhhhd...she said, eyes squeezing shut. "Mulder..."

Mulder squeezed his own eyes shut, jaw clenched, trying not to come as Scully's tight, hot walls squeezed him all the way down. It was only the fact that he'd come earlier that kept him from ending everything and shooting before she'd even gotten the chance to move. Fortunately, she was taking a moment to adjust to the feeling of him inside of her and she was still, breathing hard, clenching down on him. Then he grunted as she began to slowly rock against him, leaning forward to grind her clit against his public bone, his cock pushing deep inside her.

"Ohhhhhh..." she moaned, her voice going higher and higher as she moved against him, "Jesus!"

Mulder kept his lips sealed, trying to keep himself under control as her small body squeezed and worked his cock, her breasts swinging slightly, her mouth open on a perpetual sigh as she pleasured himself on his body.

"Uhnnn! Uhnnn!" Her groans were becoming more urgent now and she moved faster, her nails digging into his stomach as she used it to support herself. The pain helped Mulder retain what little control he had as she ground down against him, hard and desperate. Suddenly, her back arched and she jerked against him, sliding hard, riding out a long, hard orgasm loudly. "Ahhhhhhhh God! Mulder...." She continued to move against him, and he bared his teeth and then bucked hard as his own orgasm hit, driving him up into her hard with short, jerking thrusts, his fingers digging into her hips and he yanked her down against him, calling out.

"UhhhhhhhnnnSssscully....." His body continued to buck up into hers and she ground down against him, moaning and riding him through to the conclusion of both of their climaxes. Mulder's hips fell back to the bed, and Scully fell forward over him, her breasts sliding against his sweaty chest, their bodies still connected. They breathed and Mulder slid his hands up and down her back, feeling her little body shiver against his as she hummed contentedly at the touch. They were quiet a few moments, just resting against each other, then Scully's lips moved against Mulder's chest.


"Yeah, wow..." replied Mulder with a sigh.

"Mmmmm...not bad for having sex for the first time in three years," she continued, placing little kisses on his chest. "Me, not you," she added impishly, settling her chin on his chest and looking up at him.

His were serious. "It...doesn't bother you that I had sex with Alex first?" he asked, stroking his fingers through her hair, making her shiver more.

"No, it really doesn't," answered Scully, leaning into his touch with a sigh. "What you two have is just...different from what we have, Mulder, and...I don't know...they're just separate, somehow."

Mulder sighed as Scully laid her head back down on his chest. "Is that because I love you, Scully?" he asked quietly.

She froze against his chest.

"I do, you know. I mean, of course you know," he said softly, stroking through her hair with one hand, the other holding her tightly against him.

Scully sighed, relaxing slowly, and nestled herself against his chest. "I do know, Mulder. Just like I'm sure you know I love you," she added, her eyes closing sleepily.

"Yeah," Mulder answered softly, his own eyes drifting closed.

Scully grunted a little, feeling him slide out of her as she slid sideways a bit, then she settled in more comfortably, using Mulder for her bed, not minding the sweaty feeling of their spent bodies stuck together. Mulder shifted and sighed, not the least concerned with Scully's slight weight resting against his body. They both fell asleep like that, able to both fit comfortably on Mulder's tiny bed after all.

In his bed, Alex sighed and stroked his own erection lazily, a smile curving his lips as he fell asleep before he could do more.


Scully woke first, grunting and peeling herself away from Mulder's sweaty body. Mulder grunted and shifted as she climbed off of him, turning over on his side. She smiled and pressed a light kiss to his shoulder, then went in and took a shower and then slipped into jeans and a T-shirt. She shook the water out of her hair, putting off drying it until after she'd checked on her patient. She walked over to his bedside, one eyebrow quirking when she found him with his hand lightly grasping his erection through the sheet. She smiled and reached for his other wrist, feeling for his pulse.

He grunted quietly and came awake, turning his head toward her.

"Morning, Alex," she said brightly, smiling.

He grinned, knowing the source of her happy demeanor. "Morning, Scully," he replied. "How'd ya sleep?" He raised his eyebrows teasingly. She opened her mouth, surprised and embarrassed as she realized he'd heard them just as she'd heard him and Mulder, then with a twinkle in her eye, she closed it and looked pointedly down at his other hand, still resting on his crotch.

"Well, not with my hand between my legs," she answered, looking back and meeting his shocked look with a grin.

He laughed. "Touche," he said, shifting as his sore muscles protested any movement. "But what did you expect, with you two giving me such an awesome show over there?"

Scully closed her eyes, sighing. She knew he couldn't have seen them, but he'd obviously been able to hear everything quite clearly. "Things certainly aren't working out the way I thought they would," she said, avoiding his question and checking his bandages and monitors. "Do you need more morphine?" she asked, walking around to the IV.

Alex frowned. "I don't wanna get hooked on that shit," he said, "as much fun as it is." He smirked and she smirked back, nodding.

"We can start you on something oral, as soon as we get you back on real food."

Alex licked his lips. "Oral is good. Let's do oral, Scully."

Scully looked up, caught by surprise, unaware of her own part in this tease. "Alex...I thought you were interested in Mulder!" She grinned.

"Of course I am," he replied, pushing himself up higher against his pillows. "But that doesn't stop me from wanting you, too, Scully." She gaped at him in shock at his candidness, unassisted this time by a healthy shot of morphine. "Does it stop *you* from wanting *me*, Scully?"

She gasped, rendered speechless by his cockiness and honesty. She looked at him, trying not to think about how turned on she'd gotten listening to him and Mulder finally consummate a two-year-old attraction. Before she had the chance to even try to answer him, she heard Mulder come up behind her.

"Morning, guys," he said, sliding up behind her and resting his chin gently on her head. He still smelled strongly of sex and she couldn't help but take a deep, pleasant breath of it.

Alex lowered his head, giving Mulder a knowing look. "So, got some last night, huh?" he said crudely, batting his eyes, but not looking innocent.

Mulder laughed in surprise. "Jesus...guess there are no secrets in a souped up Winnebago on the Virginia coast, huh?" He slipped his arms around Scully from behind, pulling her against him in a tight hug.

She put her arms on top of his, sighing into his embrace. "Apparently not," she said, not making reference to Alex's wishes to complete the circle. "So, Alex, ready to try some juice now?"

"I'm *so* ready," he replied, his voice low and certain.

She looked at him, unsure if he was teasing or not, and pulled out of Mulder's hug to go to the small fridge.

Mulder watched her go and then turned back to Alex. "Well. Things are certainly getting...interesting," he said, stepping closer to Alex's bedside.

Alex smiled. "Yeah, they sure are," he replied, looking over at Scully and then back to Mulder. "I had no idea you two hadn't done it already," he said, sounding genuinely surprised. Mulder gave him a wry grin.

"Yeah, guess it was just time for me to let out all my sexual frustrations at once," he said, giving Alex a smoldering look.

"Lucky for us," said Alex, giving him one back. The energy crackled between them, neither man breaking the gaze, until Scully walked up with the juice cup.

"No more sex until you're drinking on your own, Alex," she admonished, handing him the cup.

His brows shot up and he took it, then he gave her a smile just as heated as the one he'd given Mulder and gulped the juice down, his eyes closing as he drained the whole cup. He opened his eyes, sighing and licking his lips, and handed the cup back to her, smirking.

"Okay then," she said, taking it. "But take it easy. Throwing up, I can assure you, isn't a turn-on for anybody." She tossed the cup in the trash and Mulder laughed. "Let me know when you feel like you're ready to eat something," she said, going around to his IV again. She replaced the bag and picked up a syringe, filling it with clear liquid. "Codeine," she said, at Alex silent questioning glance. He nodded and she pushed it into his IV, then came back around to stand beside Mulder once again.

"No more morphine, huh? Was he a bad boy?" asked Mulder, looking between Alex and Scully with a grin.

"Well, yes he was, but that's not why we switched to codeine," said Scully teasingly. Alex grinned. "He doesn't want to get addicted," she said, more seriously, her voice edged with respect. "He requested I put him on something else."

Mulder's brows rose and he was obviously impressed as well. "Good for you, Alex," he said, placing his hand on Alex's arm. Alex rolled his eyes but smiled and sighed happily at Mulder's praise. "So," said Mulder, changing the tone. "Are you feeling up to talking about more serious subjects."

The smile melted from Alex's face, his eyes glinting. "I guess."

Mulder sighed, not enjoying the way the light left Alex's eyes, but knowing they couldn't just keep acting like this was some freaky, x-rated camping trip any longer. He pulled up the chair and sat down, and Scully quietly lowered herself into the other one. They all sat quietly, everyone unsure how to begin, and finally Scully was the one to speak.

"Alex, we'd like to ask you...we thought that maybe since you were...on the outs with the smoker and his people, that, well, maybe you'd be interested..."

"You want me to work with you." Alex met her nervous gaze with a cool one of his own. He stared at her, then shifted his attention to Mulder. "You want this, too?"

Mulder nodded.

Alex sighed, his eyes closing. "And how in the hell am I supposed to do that? The second I get out of this...what the hell is this, anyway?" he asked, his voice irritable.

"Winnebago," said Mulder quietly.

"Winne...whatever. Anyway, the minute I set foot outside this Winnebago, Mulder, Scully, I become a target. Especially with you two! They watch every step you take, Mulder! They'd kill me before the sun had the chance to set! Then they'd kill you," he finished quietly, his voice dropping to a gravelly half-whisper.

Mulder was quiet, knowing he was probably right, but unwilling to let go of his wish to work with Alex.

"I can't do it, Mulder," Alex said darkly. "As much as I might...want to." He sighed, closing his eyes and turning away. "You can make me," he said, without looking at them again. "You own me. If you tell me to do it, I will, but we'll all three end up dead."

"Dammit!" Mulder stood up suddenly. "I don't own you, Alex, and they don't own *us*! There's got to be a way to do this! We need you, Alex! *I* need you," Mulder said, more softly.

Alex sighed again and turned to meet hazel eyes, filled with pain. "Unless you make me, Mulder, I can't. I won't." His lips firmed in tight line. He breathed deeply, his eyes narrowing, then he spoke quietly. "But I can give you something to help you, before I leave," he said. "Something to pay you back for what you've done for me."

Mulder sighed and ran his hand through his hair, frustrated.

"I've got the tape."

Mulder's head shot up. "What? The tape? *The* tape, Alex? How?"

Alex smiled grimly. "I just happened to be holding it when they tried to blow me up. I'd pickpocketed it off Cardinale, not trusting the slimy son of a bitch any farther than I could throw him. When I ran away from the car, it was in my jacket."

"God, Alex! Don't you understand what this means? Do you know what's on that tape?"

Alex scoffed. "Of *course* I know what's on that tape. A hell of a lot better than you do, Mulder. I was going to try to decrypt it and sell some of the shit on it to stay alive," he went on, looking away. "But I wasn't having any luck anyway, so you can have it, in exchange for my life...and my freedom." He looked down at the sheet gripped tightly in his hand.

"Alex...God...I don't know what to say...I mean, everything I've ever wanted is on that tape...all the secrets I've chased for so long...maybe even the truth about Samantha...about Scully..." he trailed off, his hand shaking as it raked through his disheveled hair.

"It's yours," said Alex flatly. "Just be fucking careful, Mulder. There is more blood and horror and pain and suffering on that tape than you can possibly imagine."

"Mulder..." Scully's voice reminded Mulder that he wasn't alone in this. He turned and looked at her, his eyes full of pain and confusion. "I have an idea."

Mulder's eyes narrowed. "What?"

"Well, remember when Skinner had the tape, and *we* were the fugitives running for our lives?"

"Yeah..." Mulder nodded slowly, starting to get the picture. Alex just frowned, totally missing the meaning of her words.

"Well, as much as they wanted to kill us, Mulder, they were willing to..."

"Trade." Mulder finished softly, his expression softening.

"Trade what?" Alex asked, still not comprehending.

"Trade the tape for your safety," said Mulder, turning to him with a gentle, sad smile playing at his lips.

Scully sighed and moved in next to him and he put his arm around her, giving her a gentle squeeze.

"But...but," Alex sputtered. "That tape! It's everything you've ever wanted!"

"Not everything," said Mulder quietly, biting his lower lip. Scully put her arm around him and leaned against him with a sigh. "You said it yourself, Alex. That tape is dangerous. I probably couldn't handle what's on it without your help, anyway." He shrugged and looked intently into Alex's wide, shocked eyes.

"I...Jesus, Mulder, I..." Alex fell silent, totally speechless.

"It's settled, Alex. You gave the tape to me to do with as I wished. This is what I wish. What *we* wish," he added, placing a soft kiss on the top of Scully's head. She smiled and nodded.

"But...you..." Alex continued to protest. "How do you know you can even trust me, you guys? God, I fucked you over so badly! Are you insane?"

"Probably," said Mulder. His voice got very serious, and he reached out to put his hand on Alex's arm in that familiar gesture. Alex's arm twitched but he sighed and stared into Mulder's eyes. "Alex. You tell us. *Can* we trust you? Now?"

Alex's eyes got wider and his mouth opened, trying to form words, unsuccessfully. Mulder waited, staring at him intently. Finally, eyes narrowed incredulously, looking terrified, Alex swallowed. "Yes," he rasped out, his voice choked.

Mulder sighed, relieved. "I thought so," he said, lifting his hand and stroking it along Alex's jaw. Alex sighed and leaned into the touch, bringing his hand up to cover Mulder's. He was trembling.

"Mulder," he choked out, swallowing back unshed tears. "No one...no one's ever...nobody ever thought I was worth the chance...worth anything..." He trailed off, his lower lip trembling, eyes squeezed shut.

Mulder pulled away from Scully, stepping closer to the bed. He put both hands on Alex's face, gently forcing him to look in his eyes. "You're worth it, Alex," he said, leaning in and pressing his lips softly against Alex's. Alex whimpered against his lips and tried to kiss him back, breathing back his silent sobs. Mulder pulled back from the kiss and Alex's eyes opened. "You're worth the secrets of the world," Mulder said. "Maybe even the universe." He smiled and his thumbs stroked Alex's face gently.

Alex blinked, his eyes finally filling with the tears he'd been trying so hard not to shed. He stared at Mulder incredulously, and then looked at Scully as she came up behind Mulder, then around to stand beside him, smiling sadly. "You two...you're amazing..." He gulped, his voice failing. He closed his eyes, tears sliding down his cheeks as he let out deep, shuddering breaths. Then he opened his eyes and turned his face to the side, sighing deeply as he pressed a kiss against Mulder's palm. "I can give you more than you could ever imagine," he whispered, lips still touching Mulder's palm. "Some of what's on that tape and more." He sighed and opened his eyes, and they were full of meaning. "So much more." He closed his eyes and opened them on a sigh. "You own me," he said, a gentle smile bowing his lips. "And it's got nothing to do with money or digital tapes, either, Mulder. Don't ever forget that."

Mulder smiled, sliding his hands softly down Alex's neck and standing back up, catching hold of Alex's hand and holding it, threading his fingers through Scully's with the other.

"I won't."

The End