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Gone To The Dogs

by Ursula





Notes: This is for Jennie and Lorelei, two people I genuinely care about. I've missed you two and hope you both feel better soon. Thanks for the emegency beta to Dark Cherry!



Warnings: Schmoopy angst should not come as a surprise.



Disclaimer: Chris Carter, Fox TV, yawn, yadda, yadda, own the characters.



Summary: Walter Skinner is trying to find himself at a friend's Bloodhound Kennel, but he finds more than he expected.







Gone to the Dogs

A Recovery Story for Lorelei and Jennie



The dogs were unusually noisy. They aren't quiet dogs, but they don't bark over a fallen leaf. The barks turned into the deep bays as I struggled into my boots and raincoat.



The bloodhounds were man hunters. Of course, they were gentle giants and made no differentiation between a lost kid and a fleeing felon. The biggest risk of injury to a wanted man was from one of the dogs knocking him on his ass by jumping up to lick him.



I petted Holmes and Pinkerton as they rose ponderously and stood wagging their tails at the door. A tall fence surrounded the kennel and the driveway opened by remote control. Gina was a paranoid woman. I met her way back when where cops together. We went to FBI academy together, but she was recruited away by the CIA. Her career left her with serious injuries, a great deal of compensation, and an abiding distrust of the world.



Next time I met Gina after the academy was at a law enforcement conference. She was lecturing about the use of Bloodhounds in tracking. I didn't realize she had been injured until I saw the limp left in her gait.



Her injury was the reason she was gone and I was here. She needed one more operation and I needed a place to let go of my old life. Gina runs this place with the help of her two assistants, but assistant number one was having a difficult pregnancy and assistant number two was her lover and wanted to be with her.



I was retired now too. They let me leave with my benefits, which surprised me, considering the way everyone was scrambling to throw dirt on everyone else. In some ways I had no regrets. I'd played their games for too long and I was tired. I had spent a year trying to cover for my agents, digging deeper and deeper into the murky sludge of the department I once thought was the incorruptible. I had a new ulcer forming, an inch of fat I wanted to work off my body, and a pretty damn cynical view of human nature.



OooOooO



When Gina happened to mention her problem, I was quick to volunteer. I had never taken care of dogs, not as an adult, but I liked them. Besides, she had good kennel keepers, just not anyone who she trusted to take the calls and keep track of the more complex matters.



I had been a guest in this house for two weeks and gotten to know the routine, the problems, and the dogs. There were fourteen dogs in the kennel right now. Holmes was retired, but was still Gina's first love. Then there was Champion Byanose Pinkerton's Glory, UDVST, who was the stud dog. Gina also had two brood bitches, and two rescued bloodhounds that she hoped to train and place for search and rescue. There were also four dogs in various stages of training and a litter of four pups, waiting for final approval of their adoption by various law enforcement or search and rescue volunteers. Gina considered herself a serious breeder. She only proved her dogs in conformation to prevent any show enthusiasts from criticizing her breeding.



Before I joined Gin's household on a long-term guest basis, I hadn't known much about dog shows and breeding. I envisioned poodles in strange hairstyles and thought that people bought show dogs from pet stores.



Let me tell you. The wrath of the AD was not much of a match for the wrath of a dog lover when you said, pet store puppy. I'll spare you the chapter and verse, but let's start by saying 'You do not buy a puppy from a pet store. You do not buy a postcard or a dog biscuit from a place that sold a puppy or a kitten.'



I still didn't know much about the dogs other than that I liked them, slobbery flews and all. I could tell that Gina's dogs were bright and happy. I knew they were good companions.



The place was all mine tonight. The live-in assistant was spending the night at her sister's. The kennel men were done with the chores, and Eleanor, the pregnant trainer, had called in sick again.



I checked the security perimeters on the monitor and then grabbed a flashlight to back up what the machines told me. You can't be too careful.



The kennel dogs had settled down. They wagged their tails and lolled their tongues when they saw me, but seemed content when I left. I shrugged. It was probably a raccoon. There had been one getting in the feed lately.



OooOooO



"Hey, boss, did you eat my left over lunch?" Jimmy asked.



Jimmy Barnes is a high school senior, a hard worker, and a good kid. He reminds me of Jeff Spender a bit in his looks, sort of an unfledged bird gawky appearance that grew on you. Jimmy is a genuine innocent though. He blushes every time he even says bitch about the female dogs.



Being around the kennel staff was a bonus. I hadn't met a kid in ages that I liked better than Jimmy. Melinda was quiet and hard working and Penelope was funny and sweet. Larry and Mary Sanders were great too. I found that I liked being around people who had real lives, who weren't double anything, and who weren't constantly being threatened by aliens, flesh eating monsters, and conspiracies. I thought I had lost the knack for living that way, but I was doing fine so far.



Growling, I said, "Peanut butter and jam on white bread is not my idea of dinner, Jimmy."



The boy with the carrot red hair blushed again and said, "Yeah, I know, but it's gone. I had two sandwiches and two juice containers, but I only ate one yesterday. My mom always packs too much. She thinks I'm always eating!"



The kid ate a quick lunch when he showed up and then worked until seven or eight. I supposed he had dinner at home too and lunch at school, but he still was tall and very thin. His Adam's apple jutted out as if he had a plum jammed in his throat. If he jabs you with an elbow, it feels like a spear. He's already taller than I am, but he's half the weight. In fact, I was surprised that he had left over lunch. He ate like a horse or a six-month-old bloodhound.



"Yesterday, Mandy brought me brownies that she baked herself," Jimmy explained. "They were great."



Mandy was Jimmy's girlfriend. She intended to be a chef and I thought she had the inside track. That young lady could cook!



I said, "Maybe, you left the bag out and the raccoon got to it. I wonder what Gina would do if I tried to track the coon down with the dogs."



Jimmy's blue eyes grew very wide and he said, "Gina would kill you. These are human trackers. You don't put them on game!"



The people who worked for Gina are the equivalent of dog fundamentalists. They would no sooner break a training schedule than a God-fearing Christian would break a commandment.



"Just joking," I assured. "But I am going to have a look around for that big boar. He is overly familiar with this building!"



OooOooO



I didn't get the raccoon over the next three days even with the humane trap. The creature sat on the top of the crate and let me see him eat the bait before he walked away chuckling. At least, I would have sworn the damn raccoon was laughing.



Food kept disappearing. I know the staff was beginning to look at me in a strange way. I had to stock the refrigerator in the staff room before they settled down about the issue. It was frustrating. Was I that far out of it that I couldn't solve a simple food theft case?



As I made my daily report to a grouchy sounding Gina, who was not very happy with her physical therapy, I told her about the missing food. She said, "It's simple enough, Walter. I have a surveillance camera in there. Haven't you reviewed the tape?"



"You didn't tell me about that one,' I said.



"It's my ace in the hole," Gina said. "I trust my staff but I'd heard horror stories about careless or abusive kennel keepers. I had that installed before I knew my staff as well as I do now. I just erase the tapes and use them again, but I can't bring myself to dismantle the device."



Waiting until the staff left and Melinda retreated to her modular home on the property, I went to the kennel, pulled a chair up, and took the tape out to replace it with a blank. With a last look about the premises, I reset the door alarms and walked back to Gina's house.



The VCR case held a selection of training tapes along with some old mysteries and a few dog classics. I took out a Karen Pryor clicker training tape and set it aside to insert the surveillance tape. I had to smile a bit. I couldn't help sparing a thought for Mulder every time I handled one of those things. If they hadn't been classified, I could have made a mint selling a montage of Mulder breaking into secure facilities and being caught on tape. It bothered me that he was still out there some place. I had lost his trust and that hurt. I know my actions over the last year were confusing, but if I continued to support him openly, I would have been out on my ass before the house of cards fell down.



The surveillance tape from the kennel showed nothing but dogs napping, dogs playing, and one visit from the raccoon. I was just about to give up on the project when I caught a motion.



Shit, I couldn't believe it. Krycek...



Suppressing the relief that jolted my insides, I nurtured my anger instead. Couldn't he ever leave me alone?



The wretched figure that staggered into camera view looked like the homeless disguise that my enemy had once used to penetrate the Hoover building. I felt my stomach turn as I considered that I once thought I loved...that!



The man held onto the wall when he walked. He hunched to the left and carried his shoulder high. He shuffled his feet as if he was a hundred years old. I saw him disappear into the staff room and emerge looking a bit cleaner as well as burdened with food. He stuffed himself full and then dragged out a dog pad. I was surprised to see him enter the puppy kennel. He pulled the pad and sank down into the midst of happily bounding puppies. Gradually, the four half grown dogs settled around him as if he was one of them. He must have left to hide elsewhere before dawn.



I carefully reset the camera and took a nap during the day. I didn't know what I would do with Krycek when I caught him, but I knew I didn't want him lurking in my life.



OooOooO



I watched him go into the dog kennel and then I walked in behind him. I stood in the main aisle and waited until he came out of the staff room. I saw the shock on his face as I confronted him. The food he had been stealing fell to the floor.



When I slugged him, he went down hard. The dogs were upset, especially the puppies with whom he had been sleeping. One of them, the most dominant, growled at me.



I could imagine what Gina would say if she found out that I had done anything to make one of her dogs aggressive. I turned to speak soothingly to the dogs. The assertive puppy, dubbed 'Pluto' for the time being, still looked anxious, but at least, he had stopped growling.



Using my foot, I turned Krycek over. He twisted away from me, scrabbling along the floor in a crab-like movement that upset me for some reason.



"Why, Krycek? Why the hell did you come here?" I asked.



"Mulder left me to find something and I wanted to see you before," Krycek said.



"Before what?" I asked. I was filled with a strange glee as I put my foot down firmly on his stomach to stop his movement. My happiness was that he had lost his glamour of desire. Even when he held my life in his hand, sometimes especially then, I felt an arousal so deep that I was hard even as I screamed with pain.



"Before I die," Krycek replied. His eyes fluttered closed and his empty hand dug at the concrete floor.



"Cut the bullshit," I said. "What's this about Mulder? Did you do something with him again?"



"No, I've been helping him until I got sick," Krycek said.



"What kind of sick?" I asked, thinking about the dogs.



"Something the aliens left in me, like a cancer, but not one any of the oncologists know about," Alex said. "Mulder thinks he can find a cure, but I don't think he'll be back in time."



His face had that inward expression I had seen on my grandfather's face as he lay dying of extreme old age. It was as if the world held only the bare minimum of interest and the flesh felt no further discomfort. My grandfather had wound down like an old watch, unafraid and accepting as he had accepted every event in his long life. Krycek hadn't lived half as long, but he looked just as resigned.



"So why me?" I asked.



"I wanted to see you and I thought...I thought that we might make one last bargain," Krycek said.



"You piece of shit," I said, scornfully. "What's left for you to bargain with?"



"The palm pilot. I'll give it to you if you take care of me for three days. At the end of three days, you are free. I'll tell you where the device is and then you can kill me if I'm not dead already," Krycek said.



It could have been a trick, but I don't think he could have faked the color of his skin or that anyone would have lost as much weight as he had lost just to support a wild story. I groaned softly and said, "Krycek, you're a pitiful bastard and if I find out this is a trick, you are going to wish you were dead."



OooOooO



Krycek could still walk if you want to call it that. He staggered from wall to wall so slowly that I finally grabbed him by the back of his jacket and the waistband of his jeans to drag him to the main house. The gasps of pain he uttered didn't move me in the least.



I wasn't very pleased though when I found Krycek had gone limp, passed out along the way. I hauled him into the third bedroom in the house. There were only three. The master bedroom that Gina and Lauren used, the one I was using, and the third room which was used mostly as an office, but had an old double bed shoved against the wall.



Dumping Krycek on the bed, I scowled and then decided it wouldn't hurt to do a body search. I started with pulling off his boots; they were caked with mud. I noticed that he had mud splattered on his clothes too. We had a dry week so there were only a few places where he would have acquired the stuff. I'd have to check under Melinda's trailer where there was a persistent leak from one of her pipes and down at the pond. I'd bet on Melinda's trailer. Thick weeds would make excellent concealment for a human rat.



The black leather jacket held odds and ends. Krycek was armed, of course although the weapon was a lightweight Glock, mostly plastic, not his usual choice. I found a medication kit, sealed in an inside pocket of the jacket. I was surprised to notice that the jacket held a cleaning receipt that indicated it belonged to Fox Mulder. 'How cozy of them!' I thought.



Mouth screwed in a grim expression, I jerked the remaining clothing off Krycek's body. I bundled it up to be washed after shaking each piece of clothing out as if the palm pilot could have been concealed in a pair of socks or in the white briefs.



Krycek was shivering violently when I returned. He clutched at his body with one hand. I stared at him and said, "You probably expect me to feel sorry for you."



"I don't expect you to feel anything but hate," Krycek said. His voice was a rough whisper, seductive even in that vestigial state.



"Then why did you come?" I asked.



"This isn't about how you feel," Krycek said. He laughed and added, "Mulder has a hard time understanding too."



"If he left you to fend for yourself in this condition then he's an idiot," I said.



"He didn't!" Krycek argued. "He hired a nurse, but I didn't like her. So I took off. Mulder kept track of you so it was no trouble finding you."



"Have you and Mulder been sleeping together?" I blurted.



Krycek shrugged and said, "Why would it matter to you?"



"He's too good for you," I said.



"So he tells me," Krycek said, with a faint smile. "But I think he doesn't mind stooping down to my level now and then. You know, I think he really cares about me. Surprised the hell out of me that he has been so kind to me."



"You're a piece of shit, Krycek. He should have just scraped you off his shoe," I said.



The eyes blinked rapidly and the lips quivered. I ignored that. Krycek was always a method actor. I really believed he loved me for a span of time. It was a whore's promise and a whore's price. How I had paid for my pleasure since then!



"I'll get an electric blanket," I said, as the shivers increased.



"If I could sleep with the puppies, I'd be warm," Krycek said.



I stood watching him and thinking before going out for two of the pups, Pluto and Mars, the best behaved of the litter. Leaving the remaining two puppies complaining bitterly of their abandonment, I went back to the house with the half-grown dogs on lead. Pluto's nose quivered and he whined demandingly, pulling me toward the bedroom where I put Krycek.



A shadow of a smile crossed Krycek's face and his thin hand patted the bed. Pluto shrugged free of me to climb up besides the man. Mars followed. Krycek buried his face in the soft folds around the neck and sighed with relief.



Stretching to release the tension from my shoulders, I shook my head. I thought dogs were supposed to have a sense for the soul of men and know the good from the bad. Of course, my grandpa always pointed out that dogs thought that anyone who smelled of pepperoni was a saint.



"If that's all you need for the night, I'm getting some sleep," I said.



OooOooO



Brave words. I couldn't sleep. My thoughts moved from fear...thinking that it still might be a trick and I would feel the pain like rivers of fire exploding through my veins. My boxers and tee shirt were soaked with sweat after an hour of tossing and turning. I strained my ears, trying to hear if Krycek was creeping toward me. The mere presence of the man I had once taken to my bed and later called "boy" with impunity had me in the grip of terror.



Gradually, my fear subsided. I still felt the need to go and see what he was doing. Barefooted, my sleeveless tee shirt and cotton boxers clinging to my damp skin, I can't imagine I looked in control of myself.



Pluto growled at me when I silently opened the door. I finally believed that Krycek was genuinely ill when he didn't wake. He looked like a feverish little boy, a spit curl plastered across his forehead. His face was slack and innocent in sleep. His lips were red, parted as if to receive a kiss. The ruin of his left arm was concealed by the considerable bulk of Pluto.



I wanted to believe that I would dance upon his grave. I had taken a savage glee in my part of the little act that Mulder and Krycek had orchestrated for Krycek's enemies. Although I knew my bullets wouldn't kill him, I truly believed that had I the chance, he would have died in that dark place.



In my heart, I raged at Mulder for trusting him again. It was so wrong. I had dreamed that Mulder had chosen a normal life in the end, that he would be with Scully and the mysterious child. I had even dared to believe that someday Mulder would come to me for those needs he struggled against. In my heart, I did not want to even consider that what filled me with such anger was the thought of them together...so beautiful.



The realization made my legs go out from under me. I pushed Mars aside to slump onto the bed. The movement finally woke Krycek. He looked at me and blinked sleepily. "So beautiful," he said and reached for me.



Truly, I thought he was dreaming about Mulder until he said, "Walter..."



Riven, I gathered myself to escape the magic of his eyes. Krycek reached for me with trembling fingers. I found myself not able to call him by any other name than Alex. How that used to come off my tongue like a caress, like a French kiss. I leaned close, drawn to him and he traced my features, carefully. "Worth it," he uttered, "to see you again."



Wanting to ask him what he meant, I opened my mouth, but he had fallen back asleep and I was free of his spell.



Returning to my room, I grabbed the lotion from my bedside, not considering why. Now, I let myself remember what I had repressed. The taste of his skin, the way his eyes changed color, the way he would arch his throat for my kisses, and his laugh when I played lover's games with him. In the brief time, we were together; there was no part of him I left untouched. I explored him with all my senses, tasted every part of him, inhaled him like a drug, and reveled in the feel of his silken belly, his soft hair, the hard muscle of his arms and legs, and petal smoothness of his lips.



With Alex, I was more aware of my body than I ever was in my life. He could make me hard just walking across the room or when I would look at him and see his eyes smoldering with desire. I told myself that he had drugged me, but I know that wasn't true. It was Alex himself that was my addiction.



My hand sped as I urged myself toward climax, seeing him in my eyes, imagining that I was deep within his mouth or ass or that he was within me, riding me to orgasm.



I tried to smother my cry as I came, but the word 'Alex' still screamed as I came. I was panting for breath, raggedly gasping. My body hummed with satisfaction, but my mind told me how much better it would be to go to him, to make him please me. I knew he would surrender to me gracefully, meet my needs, and probably get off on it despite his weakness. I don't think Alex invented that sex drive for the character he enacted with me. I think he was sensual by nature although I supposed he had few opportunities to explore that in the life he had chosen.



As soon as I had cleaned myself, I fell into a deep sleep. I suppose I was too exhausted to be afraid of what Alex might be scheming.



OooOooO



The next morning, I woke early. Alex was already up; he sat on the bed with his pants around his ankles and the needle in his hand. He glanced up at me, his face coloring. Then lips tightening, he continued to swab his leg and injected himself. I saw the flutter of the eyelashes a moment later and the lines around his mouth relaxed.



"How bad is the pain?" I asked.



"Worse than the last time I gave you a taste of the nanos, not as bad as what I did to you the first time," Alex said.



"Are you trying to get me to kill you?" I asked.



"Maybe," Alex replied, his voice sounding raw.



"One to a customer," I replied, referring to the piece of wish fulfilling role play that Mulder and Krycek had set up to cover Alex's exit.



Alex smiled faintly at that. Moving slowly, he put away the kit and went off to dispose of the needle.



I assumed that he would want breakfast. Alex was an enthusiastic eater. Only his activity level saved him from excess weight back in those days. He looked thin now. I wondered if he was undergoing any treatment for the alien-inflicted cancer?



In any event, I brought the puppies back to the exercise yard, checked on the dogs, and then went back to make breakfast. I felt like French toast, damn the cholesterol count.



The French toast was piled on a plate by the stove when Alex emerged from the bathroom. He looked clean and wan; his empty shirtsleeve hung limply. It matched the way the rest of his clothing fit now.



"You look like shit, Krycek," I said.



"Thanks for the compliment, Walter," Alex said. "Some of this for me?"



"Could be," I said, refusing to admit that I had cooked for him.



"Thank you," Alex said. He grimaced and said, "Mornings are bad sometimes. I can't always eat. Mulder used to shove those Ensure things down my throat. They taste like chalk. Really horrid. 'It's just like a milkshake, Alex'. Mulder never could lie well, not like us."



The idea of Mulder fussing over Alex disturbed me. I said, "I bet you jerked Mulder around by the guilt strings to make him try to help you."



"Mulder and I settled our old business," Alex replied, sitting down with a single French toast, lightly dusted with butter and powdered sugar.



"You let him fuck you and everything was okay?" I remarked.



"You have a preoccupation with my sex life," Alex said, "Or Mulder's sex life. You horny, Skinner?"



"Not enough to fuck a diseased whore like you," I snapped, shoving the table back so hard that the syrup pitcher turned over. I left it oozing and walked, almost ran from the room.



OooOooO



In order to keep away from Krycek, I took on the project I had been putting off for weeks. The leak under Melinda's trailer wasn't big enough to worry me, but it was annoying. I worked for an uncle one summer, fixing mobile home installations and felt I retained enough of the skills to avoid calling in a repairman.



Grumbling, I cleared a path and scooted under the trailer. I found the leak and also found a tarp, a flashlight, and blankets sealed in a plastic cover. I had been right. Alex had hid under the trailer during the day. He must have hit the muddy patch when he slid out last night.



I pulled the tarp over the damp ground and studied the plumbing. The small drip was from a joint. I'd have to turn off the water to work with it. First, I'd have to go into town to get a pipe joint to replace it.



The trip took forty-five minutes. Once in town, I lingered in the hardware store; examining tools I didn't need, marveling at the hundreds of types of nails and screws. I waited until the clerk started to follow me to finally select my pipe joint and the sealers needed to finish the repair.



By the time I had finished the job and turned the water back on, I was calm again. It was just for a few days. If Krycek were still alive by the time that Gina came back, I'd dump him at the nearest hospital to wait for Mulder.



Muddy, tired, and vaguely satisfied, I returned to the main house with a loaf of homemade bread and a quart of hearty soup. I took a long shower, enjoying the pelting force of the shower massage. Clean and just a little sore from my work, I went to the kitchen to warm up the soup.



The leftover French toasts were covered with plastic in the refrigerator. Alex must have remembered that I liked them cold with powdered sugar. Feeling not very proud of myself, I went to check on Krycek.



The room was darkened. The shot kit was on the table. It crossed my mind that he might have overdosed as he lay so still. I couldn't see his chest move nor did I see so much as a flicker from his eyelashes. When I rushed forward to check for a pulse, he slowly woke, moaning softly.



I sighed with relief and tried not to think about my feelings.



Gesturing at the shot kit, I asked, "Did you take more than you should have?"



Groggily, Alex lifted his head and turned toward the table. "No, I don't think I did."



Grabbing the kit, I said, "I'm going to take charge of this."



He moved almost quickly enough to stop me, but I stepped back, a memory of him doing the same thing to me when I tried to snatch the palm pilot from him giving a gloating edge to my actions. Krycek said, "I can't handle it without the drugs, Walter."



"I'll just make sure that you don't overdose," I said. "Get up now. You have to eat."



A few moments later, Alex slowly entered the room and slumped into a chair in front of the bowl of soup. I said, "I told the people here that you were an old friend who is very ill. They seem to believe you are an old lover of mine and that you have AIDS. I didn't correct them. I don't think they want to hear the truth."



"The one thing I know about this disease is that I can't infect anyone else," Alex said.



"How did you get it then?" I asked.



"From the oilien," Alex said. "It was in me and I suppose that whatever changes it made gradually mutated into this cancer like illness."



Remembering what Mulder had told me about his trip to Russia, I asked, "Are you sure that Mulder is okay?"



"He's okay now. Something cured his problems...a combination of the experiments on the alien ship, the partial transformation that took place afterwards, and the anti-virus that I injected into him," Alex said. "Not a procedure that I can or would be willing to undergo."



"Is Mulder looking for the aliens?" I said. "I thought that they were gone now."



"There are a few rebels hybrids left. They had no place to go. They're immune to the virus that destroyed the aliens yet they can carry it. They are exiled here on earth, half-breeds that will never be able to be fully part of either world. Even if Mulder finds one, I doubt that it will want to help me," Alex said.



Wearily, Alex lifted his spoon and began to eat. My food didn't taste as good as it had a few moments earlier.



OooOooO



After reading the instructions, I knew how much morphine to give Alex and when. I left Pluto and Mars to keep Alex company and went back to check on the kennel.



Strange how good it felt to take care of Alex...my entire life I had always been someone who never felt right unless I had something for which to care. When I was a kid, it was my younger siblings, my grandmother when she became ill in her old age, and any number of wounded creatures. My parents thought I was going to be a veterinarian or a doctor. I wasn't sure what I wanted to be until I went to Vietnam.



OooOooO



In Vietnam, I had a world of hurt to try to manage. At nineteen, I was young to be 'Pops' to the guys in my company, but that was one of my nicknames. They thought I was too serious and, of course, noticed the way I tried to take care of everyone. I don't think I was grim. I made my share of mistakes, including finding some respite in a haze of maryjane.



In Vietnam, I also had my first experiences with a prostitute...horrible and lacking satisfaction although I pretended it was great. That led to my first experiment with another guy...a slightly older medic and I shared a hotel room on a pass. He gently seduced me and I let him. It was the first time in my life that I felt truly released. My other experiences at home were hurried encounters with girls as inexperienced as me, marked by fumbling and fear that the girl would get pregnant. John taught me a lot about making love. I might have fallen for him if a land mine hadn't taken away the chance. As it was, I put that part of my life aside.



I wanted to change the world and for some reason, I thought I could do that best by becoming an attorney. I really wanted to be a prosecutor. I thought I could gain justice for the victims of crime.



My work study assignment bored me in college and I took a part time job as a deputy in a small town instead. To my surprise, I was good at the job and I liked it. I kept on with my college work because a Skinner is not a quitter as my grandfather said. Just before I graduated, a FBI recruitment drive at the university rang my bells. I didn't bother taking the bar exam. I took my law degree and my experience to the FBI. In my day, I was considered a great agent. My crime-solving rate was as high as Mulder's was during his profiling days. My virtuoso performance however was good solid old-fashioned police-work along with the ability to get the best out of a team.



You might say that I was a golden boy for most of my FBI career. Along the way, I met Sharon, the daughter of an office chief. We fell in love, got married, and I expected to live happily ever after.



Success is like a drug. You get addicted to it. When I stalled out at the office chief level, I was frustrated. I saw other men and women promoted above my head because they were better politicians and worse cops than I was.



My dad gave me a couple lectures about drinking, alluding to relatives who had trouble on account of it. I couldn't see how it applied to me. Drinking too much was for losers, not for men who were riding high like me.



Oh, God, arrogance will have its downfall.



I was off on my own at a seminar. Right before I left, Sharon and I had a fight about entertaining...I had been trying to improve my political ties by socializing with the right people. She was sick of it. Sharon was finding herself and the self she was finding wasn't the person either of us expected. I think we did love the people that we thought we married. Only maybe we weren't those people and never were.



One thing led to another. I wanted a drink and I was thinking of picking someone up...my first unfaithful moment in my marriage.



Suddenly, I realized that I was in a discreet gay bar. No one was overtly a leather boy nor were the couples physically demonstrative, but you could sense the chemistry in the air. I should have walked out, but instead I took a seat at the bar. Eventually, a well-dressed and very attractive man sat next to me. He had hazel eyes, a smooth complexion, and wavy satiny brown hair. He was my type, male or female, Mulder's type, Sharon's type, Alex's type, dark hair, light eyes, good bone structure, intelligent as well as pretty.



When Michael said, 'Go home with me for a few drinks'; I had no illusion that I was going there for a buddy boozing session. I expected to get laid and I was pretty excited about it.



It was almost worth the consequences. He was as good as Alex was; as good as I imagined Mulder would be. Michael screwed me in more than one way.



As I lay fuck-drunk on the bed, Michael stood smiling as he pulled a robe on. As soon as he pulled the tie shut, three men strolled into the room. I knew it wasn't a vice bust. They don't like vice decoys going as far as Michael did. Two of the men wore crew cuts, looked all-American, and had football star physiques shoved into inexpensive suits. The third was more expensively dressed, older, and was smoking.



I grabbed the sheet and roared, "You fucker..."



Michael laughed at me and walked out of the room. His part was done. I struggled with the two muscle men until I realized how futile it was. Sullenly, I sat there and heard that I was going to do a little black ops work for my county.



Spender, the man in charge, was persuasive. He told me that despite the way I was set up that he was on the right side. He told me that there was a conspiracy to undermine my country. Spender said that he needed me, needed what I had to give. His words slowly persuaded me that two wrongs would not make a right. I believed that I could work for my country, do my job, and still be obligated to Spender.



If my mother hadn't been ill, I would have had the courage to say, 'no', but she was so ill. I couldn't stand to drag her through the mud with me.



In the back of my head, I always told myself that I was gathering evidence that I would eventually turn against my blackmailers. My guilt made me wall away my life from Sharon. The promotion that came to me two years later worried me. Had I earned it or was it the result of the bastard that clung like a parasite to my life?



Compromised, I struggled to be the man I was raised to be. Each time I thought I could break free, they found something, someone to threaten and yoked me again. My life was hell.



Then, there was Alex...



Oh, Alex Krycek was like a three-day drunk. I always knew that he was probably another Spender trap, but I didn't care at first. I thought I would enjoy him without guilt and wait to see what new indignity they would inflict on me. What I didn't imagine was that I would fall in love with him.



Sharon and I had parted ways again. She had taken a work assignment that kept her in Europe. It was a way to avoid dealing with our final separation. We remained married, which suited me, and yet lived apart, which suited her. It was one of those civilized arrangements that hide deep wounds. I knew I hurt Sharon with my barriers. She returned my pain by her physical absence. I wanted to love her as she needed, but I was afraid. Afraid that they would harm her. Afraid that I would lose her and it would be too painful. I lost her anyway.



As I woke with Alex in my bed, I would lean on one elbow and watch him sleep. He would wake to my whispered plea, 'Never leave me'.



But he did leave. Left me with pain and anger only to reappear as my enemy. How I hated him...



OooOooO



I worked in the kennel office for a few hours. Law enforcement officers had come to look at dogs that were being trained. Gina had already decided to keep Pluto and Mars so I didn't need to get them back from Alex.



The trainers showed off the pups and the pair of almost completely trained dogs. I talked law enforcement, prodding a little to make sure that the agencies had enough money not only to buy a dog, but also to complete the training, and continue the seminars needed for support. I might not know about dogs, but I do know about budgets. I could smell bureaucratic bullshit a mile off. After the agreements were signed and arrangements made for the team training, I worked on Gina's records. All I can say was she was damn lucky not to have been audited. If I had hair, it would have been pulled out over her bookkeeping. Finally, I had as much as I could take and it was time for Alex's shot.



It was past time for the injection by Krycek's expression. I took the dogs to Jimmy for exercise and quickly returned to give the shot. I knew how to do it. I gave them to my grandmother when she was dying of cancer. I watched the pain soothe from Krycek's face to be replaced by a feverish look. His eyes glittered at me from his pale face.



Pulling me down beside him, Alex whispered, "Make love to me. Please make love to me."



You would think that I would find nothing enticing about his thin body, but he still was beautiful. In my mind, I believed that I would turn this against him, but my body didn't care for my lies. My hand curled in his hair, pulling back on it as I kissed him so long and hard that we were both gasping when I stopped. I quickly stood up to lock the door, tear off my clothing, and make sure that condoms and lube were at hand. I removed the old pair of jeans that were all that he wore and lay down again.



Clinging to me, Alex felt so fragile. I realized that there was no way I could hurt him. I stared into his eyes as my thumbs traced the tears from his eyes. "Did you really come back here to die in my arms?"



As if they were too heavy to lift, Alex let his eyelids droop closed. His face turned away from me and I thought he wasn't going to answer.



"Yes, when I thought about my life and the things I would miss, the only things I ever had that mattered were Mulder and you," Alex replied.



Shit, I believed him.



Slipping a hand beneath his head, I turned his face back to mine. "Don't lie to me, Alex. I'll still take care of you, no matter what."



"I never lied about loving you," Alex said. "I did what I had to do to keep alive...to keep you or Mulder alive."



My lips brushed his and he opened them to me. This kiss was the sweetest. I could feel him trembling as we drew apart. I said, "Alex, maybe we shouldn't. You should conserve your strength."



"There won't be another chance,' Alex whispered back. "In a day or so, I'll be too near death to do this."



As always, it took very little to persuade me. My body was ready before I nodded 'yes'.



Alex's skin was so tender. I had always loved his neck, his long clean, graceful throat that was made to be explored by kisses. His nipples were rosy brown as his lips. His chest was nearly hairless. I pulled at one of the few hairs with my teeth after teasing his nipples erect.



"Oh, fuck," Alex said, pushing my head lower.



Never the patient kind, my Alex.



I wanted to taste his naked flesh, but he wouldn't let me. Grumbling, I used the condom. It was the flavored kind, but no sweetness could replace the memory of the taste of Alex. I had taken only the mildest of precautions in making love to him before. I hated all these barriers now.



Still, it worked for him. He looked sloe-eyed as I lifted his legs. I bent double, one hand busy inside him as the other helped support him. His hand took over for mine, stroking his cock which seemed the only healthy part of him. It seemed plump and rosy, as needy, and as hard as ever.



Groaning impatiently, I slid the condom over my cock. I pushed inside, nudging him the rest of the way open to me. The moment of mingled pain and pleasure passed as he let out a gasp.



"Ready," Alex said, "More than ready."



We rocked together, trying to prolong the feelings. Although everything had changed since we had first been together, it seemed as if nothing had. My world narrowed to his face, strained with pleasure and lust. His body that rocked with mine, offered itself to my thrusts, pressed close to me as if Alex wished we could merge into one.



I roared as I came and he moaned sweet and low, his eyes open and wondering. Panting, I braced myself over him, looking down at him, as he lay tousled and sleepy eyed. I leaned down as I pulled gently out and kissed him again.



"That was what you wanted?" I asked.



"Love you," Alex murmured, out of it.



By the time I came back to tend to him, he was soundly asleep. I washed him clean and then with a shrug, I moved him over. The dogs could sleep outside tonight.



OooOooO



In the morning, Alex was slow to wake. I let him sleep, made cream of wheat to rest his digestive system, adding lots of sugar for energy, and sat by the bed until he woke up. He moaned in his sleep and woke with his face screwed tightly with pain.



"I need the shot now," Alex said. "Oh, fuck..."



Curling in a knot, Alex fought the pain as I panicked, unable to remember where I put the shot kit. Finally, I found it in the nightstand and prepared the shot. His legs were so tense; I finally just plunged the needle into his ass.



Slowly, Alex uncurled. I held my arms out and he let me hold him. My face was buried in his hair as I rocked him. On the edge of tears, I didn't trust myself to speak. Last time I felt like this was when I thought I had lost Mulder forever. How could I have thought that I would enjoy seeing Alex in pain? This hurt me almost as much as it hurt him.



I had to coax Alex to eat anything and hovered over him until he ordered me out. I left Pluto and Mars to keep him warm and hurried through the day's work. He was sleeping when I came back and I didn't have the heart to wake him for the sake of the few mouthfuls of lunch he would have eaten.



This time, I was ready when Alex woke in pain. I gave him the shot and held him until it took effect.



"Alex, you know it's our anniversary in two days. The first night we spent together, eight years ago," I said. "We'll do something special."



His head moved against my chest in denial. Alex said, "I don't think I'll be alive in two days. Walter, under that mobile home, there's a paving stone. The palm pilot is under that, wrapped in plastic. Go get it now."



"Now?" I said. For all that I wanted it, now it didn't seem important at all.



"Now," Alex said. "Go."



Crawling back under the mobile home with a flashlight clenched in my teeth, I saw the paving stone where I noted it before. I didn't think anything of it, assuming that it had simply strayed from the ones lining the stairs. Lifting it, I saw the plastic bag and inside a waterproof case.



It was hard touching the device. Despite the renewed feelings that I had for Alex, seeing the palm pilot made me grit my teeth as I remembered the way he sneered at me as he forced me to his will. I knew Alex used his acting ability to cover his real feelings...



Yet, I wondered again which Alex was the role and which was the real him?



Returning to the main house, I went to the room where Alex lay. I showed him the pilot and said, "How can I tell if this is the real thing?"



"Give it me." Alex said.



"Just tell me," I said, unwilling to hand it over.



"Control Alt C enable enter one," Alex replied.



Following his directions, I felt a kick of pleasure instead of pain. I gasped and looked at him.



With a wan smile, Alex said, "I told them you wouldn't respond to the pleasure. I knew you wouldn't. That's a mistake you seldom made."



"Can I destroy it?" I said, "Are there other devices that control the nanobytes?"



"There is always the potential of other devices, but the coding that makes them respond is only in that one," Alex said. "That code dies with me, Walter. No one else knows it. When I'm dead, you're safe. Something to look forward to."



"Yes, something," I said. I took the palm pilot and brought it to the worktable near the back hall. Placing it on the table, I smashed down with a hammer over and over.



Remembering my agony of both body and spirit, I didn't stop until there was nothing but a pile of gravel sized components. I brushed the fragments from my shirt and jeans; stood back and stared.



I was free.



There was a time when I would have considered Alex's death as a bonus. Even after I understood his goals, I still couldn't forgive him. It was more than the nanobytes. It was personal. He made me love him and he betrayed me.



Breathing heavily, I gathered the components and walked out of the house to the murky pond that occupied the southwest corner of the large lot. I had to open a gate to get near the water. Gina had fenced it not to risk a pup getting away and somehow drowning. I cast it to the middle of the water and watched it sink.



Alex was asleep again when I returned. Pluto whimpered as he laid his head on Alex's chest. His eyes looked as if he understood what was happening.



Rubbing the long flowing ears, I said, "Me too, boy. Me too."



Three days later, on April 5th, I couldn't wake Alex. I held a mirror to his lips and no puff of breath fogged it. I could find no pulse. I knelt by the bed and pressed his hand to my mouth. It was still warm and flexible. I truly wanted to believe that he was still in there. That the still beautiful body was not cold clay.



I knew what I was supposed to do. Take the body to a crematory fifty miles away and have it burnt. I waited though, hoping.



Finally, Pluto and Mars started to howl, an eerie sound and even more so when the chorus struck up from the kennel. It was the most sorrowful noise that I have ever heard.



Gathering him up, I carried him to the kennel's van and laid him on the floor. It was early morning and no one else was up. I was climbing into the driver's seat when Melinda arrived out from the kennel.



"I have never heard them do that," Melinda said. "Did...did your friend die?"



"I think so," I replied. I said, "I'm going to bring him to the hospital so they can declare him dead."



"I can go with you," Melinda said, tucking her blond hair behind her ears.



"That's okay," I said, "I want to do this alone. I don't want anyone else. Thank you, Melinda, but it's the last time I'll be alone with him."



"I'm so sorry," Melinda said.



"Me too," I replied.



OooOooO



I was perhaps twenty miles from the kennel when a car blinked its lights behind me. I cursed. Perhaps I was driving slowly, but there was plenty of room to pass. I moved near the shoulder and kept going. The car blinked its lights again and honked.



Waving a finger out the window, I pulled over to the shoulder and waited for him to pass. Instead he pulled in front of me.



The gun had slipped into the holster without thought and now I drew it equally without thinking. It took longer to realize that I was looking at Fox Mulder. He said, "Walter, I was blinking my lights at you almost since you left the farm."



"You're too late," I said, my shoulders slumping. "If you had come yesterday..."



"No, it's okay," Mulder said. "Remember? You thought I was dead too."



"Alex said that there wasn't any more of the anti-viral," I said.



"Not made. It took the cooperation of a hybrid and the few who survived are deep in hiding," Mulder replied. "Where is he?"



Opening the van, I didn't dare hope. I watched Mulder plunge the needle deep into Alex's chest after ripping apart the black sweater I had put on Alex's body. There was nothing. I don't know what I expected. Alex was dead.



Mulder's face looked fierce with concentration. He pounded on Alex's chest, moved the stiffening arm and legs vigorously until I wanted to stop him, my absent hair trying to stand up on my head.



Finally, Mulder stopped. He knelt over Alex piteously and cried, "You bastard...you can't do this to us."



It was my time again. I had to climb into my skin and be the caretaker no matter how shattered I was. I said, "It's done, Mulder. Kiss him goodbye."



"No," Mulder moaned. He said, "I came back. Alex is a survivor. He isn't supposed to die."



Mulder's tears splattered over Alex's face. I saw them seep into Alex's nostrils and eyes, something striking me about the viscosity of them as if they weren't human tears.



Still, I couldn't think in my grief. I leaned over Alex again to kiss him as Mulder had finally done.



When I felt the breath on my cheek, I didn't believe it was really from Alex until he opened his eyes.



"Walter?" he said faintly.



"Yeah, me," I said. I moved aside enough for him to see Mulder. "Mulder brought us an anniversary present."



Alex's smile was faint, but the look in his eyes was unmistakable. He reached up for my hand than weakly moved toward Mulder until we got the idea. Our three hands united.



OooOooO



A year later, two bloodhounds bounded before us over the pasture. Mulder turned toward us, his hazel eyes dancing with joy. He said, "The first one that catches me can have me."



I looked at Alex and grinned. We let him run for a while; those long legs, which we loved wound around our waists, flowing like a thoroughbred colt's. Then we both ran keeping pace with each other. As Mulder turned to laugh at our efforts, Pluto barked and pounced as Alex had taught him. Mulder didn't fall, but he had to stop to catch his balance and the two of us managed to catch up, pulling him down in the lush grass to kiss his laughing complaints about fairness away.



"Happy?" Mulder whispered.



"Happiest day of my life," I said.



Alex didn't voice a word, but his joy was in his eyes and in his touch. I rose to my feet and pulled my lovers with me.



A year ago today, I was born again.



The end
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