Russian roulette

torch July 1997

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder and Alex Krycek aren't mine, being the possessions of Chris Carter and 1013 Productions, damn it. Other things contained herein are the products of my unbridled imagination, with the exception of the Russian mafia, which does indeed exist, although I have no idea what it does in its spare time really. This is a work of speculative fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.

This is part of the Tunguska timeline, but not meant to be read as a realistic addition to the show, since I was suffering from a Mysterious Illness [tm] when I wrote it. It's just an excuse for a sex scene. Really. Leigh is to blame for pointing out that there's quite a bit of time unaccounted for in the travels of Fox and Alex. Thanks to Jane M, Anna, Misha and Maria M for spotting weirdnesses, and special additional thanks to Maria for the title. Dedicated to my lady of the cruel and unusual in the hope that it will make her write that scene I've been begging for ("Which one?"). Comments are very welcome. Do not archive this story without permission.

Russian roulette

"What kind of place is this?"

"You probably don't want to know. Just don't let go of your gun, and don't let anyone find out where you keep your money."

The wallpaper was white, cream, and gold in broad flowered stripes, the effect only slightly marred by signs of a flood that had warped the lowest foot and a half of the walls and left everything tinted a sickly green. Thick, white velvet curtains that had been pulled closed over the tall, lead-framed window suffered from the same problem. Both curtains and wallpaper were old, and something about their glorious decay touched Mulder's heart. He took a step closer, and the floor creaked under his feet, what had once been gleaming parquet gone dull and cracked with age and water.

Paintings still hung on the walls: dark landscapes, still lives with gleaming skulls and many-petaled, insect-strewn flowers, narrow icons with black-haired madonnas whose soft eyes seemed resigned to this fall from grace and elegance. "This stuff should be in a museum."

Krycek shrugged. "It looks better than it is. It's the setting. Third-rate, most of it. But there's a couple of original Blake drawings that Tati calls her insurance policy."

Mulder was on the verge of asking if there was any chance he could see them. Instead he said, "How long do we have to wait?"

"As long as it takes. What do you want, a queue number? Most of the people who come to Tati's have more exotic requirements. We'll wait until she has time to see us, Mulder." Krycek walked over to one of the low couches and dropped down on it, running a hand over the worn white velvet in an oddly affectionate gesture. The room was quite small, the velvet-lined nest of a sybaritic hermit crab; Mulder's mind provided him with the word boudoir. The long mirror over the fireplace was so tarnished that he could barely make out his own face, and its gilded frame looked sad.

"Exotic requirements." His voice was dry. "You've brought me to a whorehouse, Krycek? All I wanted was a shower and some clean clothes."

Krycek smiled lazily up at him. "You'll get it. Welcome to the free market, Mulder." There was something different about Krycek, something Mulder couldn't quite put his finger on; the man seemed more relaxed here, looked quite at home in this unlikely environment. "You can have anything your little heart desires here at Tati's. For a price." Krycek wrinkled his nose. "And you really need that shower. I can smell you from here."

Trying to choose the best comeback to that, Mulder waited a little too long and lost his chance as the door opened and a woman walked inside. She was dark-haired and dark-eyed, her face as serene as any madonna's despite the crow's feet around her eyes. When she moved, her gold jewellery chimed like muted prayer bells. Her eyes swept over him in cool assessment; then she turned her full attention on Krycek, who had jumped to his feet. She said something in a soft, husky voice, and Krycek laughed and lifted her into an easy, intimate embrace. One of her high-heeled slippers fell off and her next words were half amused, half reproving.

Mulder watched, fascinated and a little worried. It had seemed like an excellent idea to bring Krycek along as a translator; only now did he begin to admit to himself how much that put him in Krycek's power, despite the fact that he was the one who had the gun. He had no way of telling what they were saying, what they were laughing at, what that expression on the woman's face meant. Was this Tati?

Krycek put her down again and turned more serious, speaking rapidly and nodding towards Mulder. The woman raised an eyebrow, then shrugged and got out a keyring, choosing one key and working it free. Krycek accepted it with a smile and a few words that made Tati stare at him and then tilt her head back and laugh until she was gasping for air. Finally she recovered and turned away from Krycek, walking towards Mulder. He was feeling foolish, convinced it was him they were laughing at, but stood his ground as she came closer.

"I'll try to find clothes for you," she said. Her English was accented but flowed easily enough. "Go with him, get clean. You can pay me tomorrow. And make sure he doesn't get in trouble here."

"I never get in trouble, Tati," Krycek protested behind her.

She turned around. "No gambling. No playing. You cannot go downstairs, Alexei, someone will know you. You will stay in the room and talk to your friend, you will read Tolstoy, you will look out the window and count the raindrops, but you will not go downstairs." Tati nodded briskly, as if that settled everything, and walked out of the room again.

"We're not staying here overnight," Mulder objected. "We've got to push on, it's only early evening."

"Tati's place is the last outpost of civilization," Krycek said mildly. "This is Rivendell, Mulder. Your last chance to be comfortable. Tomorrow we're going where no one wants us to be. Tonight we stay at Tati's."

"And you don't gamble?"

"And I don't— Come on." Krycek led the way out of the room, and Mulder looked around with unrestrained curiosity as they went through the house and up the wide marble staircase. It was dark in here; the windows were covered with curtains, and the furniture he saw was swathed in protective covers, most of them discolored by the flooding. Upstairs, everything looked cleaner, neater, but also less extravagant, as they turned left into a narrow corridor. Servants' quarters, Mulder reflected, looking through plain doors into small rooms.

At the end of the corridor, Krycek stopped and got out the key Tati had given him. The lock was well oiled and the door opened without a sound. Mulder sucked his breath in through his teeth as he saw what lay beyond. This was how the whole house must have looked years ago; the same lush decor, but shining and perfect, not decayed and dying. The room was blue, with blue-and-silver wallpaper, blue velvet drapes and curtains, blue rugs on the gleaming floor, plush blue couches and chairs. He stepped inside after Krycek. A huge, almost square bed with a blue bedspread. A painting on the wall, a pale blue landscape. "Does your friend really need Blake drawings for insurance?" he asked. "That looks like a Matisse."

"It's a copy. Bathroom's through there." Krycek pointed with his chin at a discreet door in one corner. "Don't touch her Elizabeth Arden stuff."

"Not really my style," Mulder said. "Do you want to go first?" Krycek shrugged. "You stink worse than I do."

"Like hell I do."

"Krycek." Mulder made his voice reasonable. "Spineless backstabbing creeps always stink worse than honest citizens." He took a step closer to Krycek, and then reached out swiftly and grabbed him by the throat.

"What the fuck—" Krycek jerked, and Mulder pressed his thumb down. "Let go of me, drop the goddamn macho act, Mulder, it's getting real old—"

Mulder pushed him backwards until they were at the bathroom door; he got it open and shoved Krycek inside. Part of him was thinking, with detached amusement, that this trip was letting him work out the violent impulses of at least the past three years, possibly more. The bathroom was more modern than the room itself, not that that was saying much. There was a tiled shower area, set four inches lower than the rest of the floor, with stark metal fixtures. Pale blue towels, a plant in the one small window.

Letting go of Krycek's throat, Mulder sat down on the toilet seat and leaned back, stretching his legs out. "Get in the shower, then." Krycek stared at him. "You'd better take your clothes off first."

Krycek shook his head slowly. "You're asking for a strip show?"

"You can try to sue me for sexual harassment if you like," Mulder said pleasantly. He made a show of reaching for his gun, just to remind Krycek of who was in charge here. "I know this isn't your vacation of choice. You have a number of good reasons to leave the moment I turn my back, so I'm not going to turn my back. I thought I'd made that clear. Or were you hoping I've cuffed you to the bedframe every night just because I get off on it?"

"You could have fooled me," Krycek muttered and kicked his shoes off. The jacket fell to the floor, and he unzipped his jeans with a quick, efficient gesture. "Is it too much to ask for a chance to be alone in the bathroom?"

"Last time I let you go to the bathroom alone you picked up a hitch-hiking alien." Mulder eyed his captive with mild approval as Krycek took the jeans off and straightened up only to stretch even higher as he pulled his t-shirt over his head. A glint of metal turned out to be a nipple ring, and Mulder grinned to himself. The years on the run had added more muscle to Krycek's strong, sleek body. He looked pretty good, even though the haircut was a disaster. There was more of him to punch now.

Krycek stripped off his black briefs with his back to Mulder and moved to turn on the shower. He sucked his breath in as cold water splashed on him, then adjusted the temperature and stepped in under the spray. After a few moments he turned his head and looked at Mulder, seemingly intent on retaliating for the constant steady observation. "Care to join me?"

Mulder's first impulse was to say 'in your dreams,' and leave it at that. But Krycek was so clearly expecting him to refuse that he couldn't help it, he had to get to his feet and pull his sweater off. "Sure." Krycek's eyes widened in shock. "Been a long time since anyone scrubbed my back for me."

"Yeah, but — hey, Mulder—"

He ignored Krycek's disjointed comments and got the rest of his clothes off as fast as he could. The truth was, Krycek was right, he did smell. Not enough to clear out a subway car in rush hour, but more than enough for it to bother him. He stepped down on the wet tiles and Krycek backed away nervously. Mulder grinned, or at least he showed his teeth. "I hate to break this to you, Krycek, but you're not irresistible. Your dubious virtue is safe with me. Pass the shampoo." He closed his eyes and stepped under the spray for a moment, tilting his head back, letting the water rinse away grime and frustration. "So tell me about this place. Who is Tati and how do you know her? This a gambling club?"

"No," Krycek said and pressed a plastic bottle into his hand. "It's a meeting place where people can talk to each other. The gambling is a side effect." Mulder squirted out a dollop of shampoo. "You know who really runs this country now, don't you?"

"Sure as hell isn't you." He rubbed at his scalp, then let the foam wash away with the steady stream of water. "So you're saying this is where the Russian mafia hangs out. In a big house on the edge of nowhere. And you used to come here to play cards."

"Not exactly." Mulder blinked the water out of his eyes just in time to catch the end of Krycek's smile. "You don't want to believe, Mulder, that's not my problem and it doesn't really matter. But Tati didn't get all that gold she's wearing just through being a night-club hostess." Krycek stepped out of the shower and wrapped himself in one of the blue towels. He had very pale skin, smooth and flawless, inviting touch the way well-carved marble would. Mulder swiped at his own face, getting the water out of his eyes, then reached out and trailed a finger along Krycek's shoulder. The warmth under his fingertip reassured him. "Will you make up your fucking mind?" Krycek demanded.


"Are you coming on to me or aren't you? I'd just like a little clarity here, Mulder, a few unmistakable signs one way or the other." Grabbing another towel, Krycek started to dry his hair.

Mulder tilted his head back and regarded his prisoner-cum-translator with a mixture of humor and contempt. "You really are twisted, aren't you, Krycek. Do you always think people are making a pass at you when they hit you, or did I just learn more about your private life than I really wanted to know?"

Emerging from the towel again, Krycek shot him a quick grin. "Hey, don't knock it till you've tried it. So to speak. And you didn't hit me just now, you hit on me, there's a difference." He turned away and headed for the door, towel around his hips, and Mulder followed swiftly and grabbed him by the arm. "Changed your mind already?"

"I'm not letting you out of my sight."

"That's really sweet, Mulder."

Mulder sighed, let go and went to find a towel of his own. When he turned back again, Krycek had left the bathroom. Smiling to himself, Mulder borrowed Tati's Elizabeth Arden body lotion, her hair gel, and her nail file. He was feeling a lot better as he stepped out into the room to find Krycek gone. The man was impossible. Mulder should have cuffed him to the towel rack. Or a bedpost. Or the radiator. Or — well, the possibilities were just endless, and if he was going to get to do any of it, he had to track Krycek down again first. He made a face at having to put on his old clothes again, but all he could find in the closets were stylish dresses that were a couple of sizes too small for him anyway.

Adjusting his jacket to cover the gun, he slipped outside and went back the way they'd come, through the corridor and down the marble stairs. He could hear voices from various directions, and the chink and clatter of glasses and silverware, and raucous male laughter blending with feminine giggles. It seemed Tati's place came alive at night. And Krycek could be in any one of these rooms — or Krycek could already be far away from here.

Mulder walked quietly along the hallways, looking in through every half-open door, testing every closed one. Most were locked. He saw groups of businessmen eating dinner, or deep in conversation, surrounded by beefy bodyguards who shot him suspicious looks; saw men in ill-fitting, expensive suits pat the legs of young women with bleached hair and Sharon Tate cheekbones; saw endless numbers of expensive glasses being filled with clear liquid, and emptied again. But he didn't see Alex Krycek.

Although he stuck out like a Chippendale dancer at an Amish family dinner, no one seemed to pay him any special attention. At first it bewildered him; then he realized that it was a measure of how safe Tati's was judged to be. He felt a rising respect for that slim, dark-eyed woman. He also wondered just how well she and Krycek knew each other.

Thinking about her seemed to conjure her up; he rounded a corner and found his arms gripped by small, strong hands. "I told you not to let Alexei go downstairs again!"

"Isn't he old enough to make his own decisions?" Mulder asked perversely, even though he had his own reasons for wishing he'd kept a steady grip on that slippery rat bastard.

"No, not here," Tati said with a sudden charming smile. "He is, ah, reckless. When he is here." She jerked her head towards another door, and the anxiety returned to her face. "In there. He is playing even though I asked him not to. You must make him stop."

"Can't he cover his debts?" Tati gave him a bewildered look. "Doesn't he have enough money to gamble with?"

She shrugged impatiently. "I would give him money, that is not important. Now go, before—" Tati shoved him towards the closed door, and Mulder opened it, and stepped inside.

Five men were sitting around a table, eyeing each other, and a sixth stood on the floor right by them. There were no lamps in here, just flickering candlelight, and Mulder saw their smiles and the excited gleam of their eyes in brief flashes. The room smelled of vodka and tension, as the heavy door slipped shut behind him and silenced every sound except that of everyone's breathing.

The standing man held something in his hand that gleamed, dull metal, as he lifted it to his head. A gun. Mulder stared, too taken aback to say or do anything, as the man pulled the trigger, and the gun clicked softly. Everyone around the table seemed to exhale, collectively, a sigh of relief and disappointment, as the man grabbed a half-full glass and drained it in a single swallow. Then he handed the gun to the next man and sat down on the chair that became free.

The next man was Alex Krycek. He was smiling, a wide cocky grin, and he said something in a low voice that had the others laughing. Mulder tried to force his body into action, as Krycek took a glass and drank in the same reckless way and then brought the gun up to ready it for another round of the game. "Alex." Krycek turned his head. His eyes glittered with unholy amusement. "Don't."

"Ah, you're just no fun, Mulder," Krycek said, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

The click that followed, small and silly sound that it was, broke Mulder free of his paralysis, and he walked up to Krycek with quick angry steps, wrenching the gun out of his hand and putting it down on the table. "You're getting out of this right now," he said between his teeth, fingers digging into Krycek's arm.

Krycek disregarded that hard grip and leaned sideways to grab his glass again. "You sure you don't want to join?" For a moment, Mulder saw Modell's face instead. Krycek drank the rest of the vodka, swallowed and said something else in Russian that seemed to take the others at the table aback. "Let go of my arm, Mulder, you act like we're married. You'd like this game—"

"No. Shut up." Mulder began to drag Krycek towards the door, not even bothering to nod an apology to the other players. They seemed to take Krycek's sudden departure philosophically, and the next man was already picking the gun up as Mulder and Krycek went out the door and it closed behind them. "Don't you ever," he emphasized his words by shaking Krycek, "do anything like that again."

"Aww, Mulder, I didn't know you cared." Krycek was laughing at him. Mulder felt irrationally furious; he slammed Krycek up against the wall and then paused, unable to think of what to do next. Contradictory impulses came and went in his mind too fast for him to grasp them. Then he heard the sound of a gunshot from the room they'd just left. "Shit," Krycek said, one corner of his mouth twisting. "Tati just hates having to clean up afterwards."

"Shut up." Mulder didn't know if he was about to lose control or if he'd already lost it. He turned the man around and started dragging him along the corridor, his arm locked around Krycek's neck. When Krycek drew breath to say something else Mulder slapped his hand over Krycek's mouth. Krycek didn't struggle too much as Mulder navigated his way back to the marble staircase; he was still laughing under his breath.

Tati met them again at the foot of the stairs; she raised an eyebrow, looked at Alex twisting half-heartedly in Mulder's grip, and nodded her approval. She started to say something in Russian, then switched courteously over to English. "You shouldn't be such a bad boy, Alexei. Thank you." This was directed at Mulder. "Go and use that room upstairs. I will find clothes for you tomorrow."

Krycek was moving his lips under Mulder's hand as if trying to say something, and Mulder tightened his grip. "Thanks," he said to Tati and was about to add something else when he felt Krycek's tongue flick against his palm. One swift line, sudden and sharp as a razor cut, and then another. He shifted his grip only to have a finger sucked into Krycek's mouth. "Cut that out. I—"

"Upstairs," Tati said sweetly, swept past them and patted his cheek as she went by. Krycek's tongue was playing with Mulder's fingertip, a series of small liquid caresses that flowed into his veins and pulled the tide of his blood down to slam in a heavy wave through his crotch. Involuntarily, he tightened his hold around Krycek's throat, and found his finger sucked more deeply into the man's hot and startlingly greedy mouth.

"Krycek, I told you you were wrong," he ground out, pushing his former partner away from himself and up the stairs, wrenching his hand away from Krycek's mouth as he did so. "I wasn't making a — pass — at you."

"So you said," came Krycek's voice, airy with laughter and excitement, "so you said." He stumbled up ahead of Mulder but made no effort to get away from the grip on his arm. When he turned his head and looked down over his shoulder, the black glitter of his eyes shaded into green, a dangerous, dark green like the deepest part of the wild, wild woods.

Up the stairs, left through the corridor, Krycek weaving slightly, mad or drunk or both. Mulder had forgotten to lock the door to the blue room behind him, but no one seemed to have been there in their absence. He pushed Krycek inside and let go of him, turned around to close the door, and felt a warm body press up behind him and crowd him into the doorframe. Hot breath danced across the back of his neck, one hand tugging on his shoulder, the other slipping around to stroke his chest.

"Give it up, Krycek, I'm not—" A slow wet lick from the collar of his shirt up to his hairline made the sentence fall apart in his mouth. Mulder twisted, turned, and sent Krycek staggering backwards into the room with a hard slap. "How much did you have time to drink down there, anyway?"

He started to hunt for the handcuffs, as Krycek kept moving until the backs of his legs hit the bed and then fell backwards, bouncing, with his arms flung out. Krycek grinned and propped himself up on his elbows as Mulder came to cuff him; he reached up and grabbed hold of Mulder's shirt and dragged him down. "Not enough."

"What the fuck—" He sprawled on top of Krycek, dropping the cuffs on one side, his chin narrowly avoiding impact with Krycek's collar bone. The hand that had pulled him down slid up his arm and around to his back. With the other hand, Krycek grabbed the handcuffs and pushed them aside.

"You should have played, too," warm breath whispered into his ear. "It's a great game, you know?" Krycek wriggled underneath him, rubbing up against Mulder's chest. "Really gets you going." A warm, wet, cat-raspy tongue slid over his earlobe, traced the rim; then the tongue-tip started to wander along every whorl and curve. Mulder jerked abruptly, but not hard enough to break free of Krycek's grasp. He was momentarily too stunned, too dazed, too dizzy and confused to fight. "Like that, hmmm? Where else do you want me to lick you?"

Krycek shifted and spread his legs, making room for Mulder to lie between them, securely nestled into a tight embrace. The hand on Mulder's back started to move up and down his spine in a long scratching caress, every scrape of nails a thin magnetic filament that was drawn irresistibly to the hardening iron between his legs. He tried to differentiate between the sudden onslaught of several separate sensations: the mouth sucking at his earlobe, the hand teasing places on his back that he would never have believed to be so responsive, the other hand, cupped around the back of his thigh, moving relentlessly higher until the thumb was stroking right underneath the back pocket of his jeans.

If he knew what it was that was making him feel this way, he could make it stop, hit reset, go back to normal, or whatever passed for normal between him and Krycek. But it was no use. It was the cumulative effect that acted like an itch under his skin, that made him feel as though he'd been rolling in poison oak, made him want to strip his clothes off and rub himself against something that would make that itch go away. Something smooth and soothing, like Alex Krycek's skin.

"What the hell do you think you're doing," he said, the words slightly muffled by Krycek's shirt and more than half perfunctory.

"I'm playing with you, baby. Mmmm." Krycek arched his back and pushed his hips up, and instead of objecting forcefully to being called 'baby,' Mulder found himself voicing a stunned sound of instant desire as hardness pressed against hardness like fire meeting fire and it was too late for any plausible denial. "I've always wanted a six-foot walking sex toy, and just think of all the money I'll save not having to buy batteries."

Mulder struggled to bring a hand up until he could take hold of Krycek's head, thumb rubbing the unshaven jaw, fingers curved up behind one delicate ear. "You crazy son of a bitch," he said and let gravity pull his own head down until their lips were touching, his breath fanning out over Krycek's reddened cheek. "This is what turns you on? I knew it, I knew you were about to cream your pants in the airport in Hong Kong—"

Laughter bubbled up to meet him, and then Krycek's lips nibbled at his own, coaxed him closer still, drew him into a deep grinding kiss. Krycek tasted of vodka, a sharp alcohol burn, simple and overwhelming. His body moved slowly under Mulder's weight, pressing upwards in half-smothered caresses. The hand resting on Mulder's ass slid down between his legs and then up again, direct, unashamed, leaving a trail of skin-tingling warmth behind.

"Can I," Krycek licked at Mulder's lower lip, "can I ask you something, 'cause I've always wondered..."

"What?" He twisted his head to one side, avoiding the kiss that was waiting for him, in order to investigate the side of Krycek's neck with his tongue. The skin was a little too clean, he didn't like the taste of soap that lingered there; it reminded him inappropriately of things orderly and hygienic and sane, and was entirely at odds with being sprawled on top of Alex Krycek in a vast soft bed in a vast dangerous country.

He bit down just below the ear and felt more than heard the soft vibrating moan. Another bite to the jaw, in the spot where he'd hit Krycek a couple of days earlier. Mulder tongued the place in acknowledgment if not apology, glad that Krycek hadn't shaved. He liked the rasp of stubble, liked to feel it abrade his skin to the point of not-quite-pain.

"What makes you think—" Krycek broke off, straining upwards yet again, as Mulder twisted his hips and the buttons on their jeans clicked together. Then he tried again, the sound of his voice so hoarse and breathless and sexy that it took a while for Mulder to actually hear what he was saying. "What makes you think I killed your father?"

Mulder sank his teeth viciously into Krycek's shoulder until he drew blood through the cloth. It wasn't really revenge, or a response to being upset by the question, although he was. No, it just felt good, the perfect texture of strong muscled flesh, resisting just enough. And it wasn't as though a bit of pain was going to make Krycek come to his senses. The hand on Mulder's back was scratching and kneading in motions at once supplicating and seductive, and a moment later Krycek's tongue flicked across Mulder's ear again, sending small silvery flashes of arousal through him. He wanted to stay in control and downplay his own body's reactions; he wanted to grab Krycek by the back of the neck and force him to lick every sensitive point, slowly, thoroughly.

"You were drugging my water supply." Mulder lifted himself up on one elbow to allow Krycek to pull the t-shirt over his head. He emerged from the soft cotton in time to hear Krycek make a sound of pleased anticipation, and the hand on his back moved around to trail lazily over his chest instead. A sudden pinch to one nipple caught him by surprise, and his teeth clicked together and his lips quivered with the need to bite, suck, taste. He rolled over to one side and pulled Krycek along, trying to grab hold of the man's hair and failing. "Driving the whole fucking building crazy, you know a woman shot her husband because of what you were doing?"

"Yeah, I always said American gun laws were too lax," Krycek muttered, his face rubbing against Mulder's chest. A swirling tongue moving around his pinched, sensitive nipple made Mulder arch his back in welcome, but Krycek moved to the other side and repeated the same action there, a spiral of wet warmth that moved inwards only to stop abruptly before it reached its projected center, leaving Mulder on the verge of homicide. "What's that got to do with your father?" The last few words grew indistinct as Mulder clamped one hand around Krycek's throat. "Ease up, Mulder, stop trying to strangle me and don't pretend you're not enjoying this."

Mulder let go, and Krycek pulled away and sat up, discarding his shirt and kicking off his shoes. The bite mark on his shoulder stood out like a red brand that stripped away the flawless marble imagery; this was flesh, all flesh, the strong arms, the chest that rose and fell with every fast breath. And Mulder knew he wanted that living skin against his own, as if the touch would bring him understanding by osmosis, would help him assimilate everything there was to know about Krycek until he could possess him utterly. The small gold gleam of the nipple ring caught his attention, but didn't distract him from his thoughts.

"You set me up," he insisted, resisting the impulse to pull Krycek down into his arms again. "Drugging me, killing my father, it was a setup, it was supposed to look as if I'd done it, wasn't it?"

"I just put some stuff in the water, Mulder, it wasn't my plan." Krycek paused and ran a finger along the side of Mulder's throat, tapping his fingertip in time with the pulse beats. "You jump to conclusions, you always have. Your father's killed on the Vineyard and then you see me in Alexandria and you're drugged out of your weird pretty head, your pretty weird head, so you think I must have done it. I don't know how you got Scully to believe that one."

Krycek started to unbutton his jeans, and Mulder slapped his hands away viciously. "I know you did it," he muttered, rolling closer and pressing his face against Krycek's stomach. He licked at the taut skin, dipped into the navel where a saltier taste lingered, and trailed his mouth down towards the waistband. Appreciative hands stroked his hair as he undid the last buttons and pulled the thick cloth aside. "Christ." He tilted his head back and looked up at Krycek. "How did you make it through the metal detector at the airport?"

"Shut up and suck," Krycek said pleasantly, twisting his fingers harder into Mulder's hair and pressing his head down again. "There must be a reason God gave you a mouth like that — ah, fuck yes—"

Mulder ran his tongue around the slick head, tangling with the different hardness of the ring, painting smooth flesh with his own wet desire. He mouthed his way down along the shaft, hands working to push the jeans out of the way until he had Krycek fully exposed. Nice, very nice. He exerted slow pressure along the base, first with lips, then with teeth, forcefully enough to cause a disturbed whimper. Mulder smiled to himself; if anything, Krycek was getting harder.

He let his mouth wander in selfish exploration for a few moments, then pulled away and started to peel Krycek's jeans off, accepting the string of half-voiced curses this caused the way a musician accepts well-deserved applause after a solo. The jeans landed in a heap on the floor and he pushed Krycek's legs apart, kneeling between them and running his hands up the insides of both thighs in a slow rubbing motion, thumbs working the tense muscles. As he reached the juncture of thigh and torso, Krycek's hips jerked up to meet his touch, but Mulder slipped his hands down and started over again.

The quivers that made their way from Krycek's straining muscles into his own fingertips drew forth another smug smile. He shifted his weight, aware momentarily of discomfort as the jeans chafed against his aching cock. Krycek had let his head fall back and lay there with his eyes closed, arms flung wide, back tensing into a bow; he spread his legs even wider as Mulder's wandering hands reached the groin again and began to play gently over soft, shivering skin. Shudder after shudder went through him as Mulder teased and withdrew. A finger that quested down between the firm twin globes of his ass was greeted with a helpless moan.

"So tell me, Krycek," Mulder bent forward to whisper the words against piercing metal, "who killed my father if it wasn't you?" His fingertip moved in random circles and spirals, now stroking, now skidding away. "Tell me." He licked away the drops that were leaking from the head of Krycek's cock, one by one. "Tell me."

The sound that rose from Krycek's throat wasn't a moan any more, it was deeper and angrier and altogether more desperate, and Mulder wasn't surprised to feel a hand clenching into his hair again. "I could always kill you, you—"

"Oh no no," Mulder interrupted him, "trust me, you wouldn't enjoy necrophilia nearly as much." He twisted out of Krycek's grip, losing a few hairs, and slid backwards off the bed. The floor felt surprisingly stable under his feet after the shifting swells of the soft bed. While he ripped the button fly of his jeans open he looked down at Krycek, who still lay with his legs spread wide, propped up on his elbows now, his neck a beautiful strained curve. Mulder sighed with relief as he was rid of the painful constriction of the jeans, and stood where he was for a moment, taking in every detail of the other man's waiting body and planning his next move.

That was his undoing, as Krycek hooked a leg around the backs of his thighs, pulled him down for the second time and rolled him over. Mulder had no breath to protest with; it had been driven from his lungs at the first sudden impact of skin on skin that made him discover the full force of his own need. He squirmed in the enclosing circle of Krycek's arms, a voluptuous movement that in no way resembled a struggle. Hard biting kisses on his throat made him tip his head back and suck his breath in like a diver preparing to go down. "I'll tell you," Krycek said, moving lower, grazing sharp teeth over his nipples. "I'll tell you. Afterwards."

"Yeah," Mulder found himself murmuring incoherent consent, "yeah, that's — do that again—" He smoothed a hand down Krycek's chest and tugged at the small gold ring, then did it again to draw forth the same gasp, the same sensual tightening of Krycek's grip on his body. One hand trailed up to his face, stroked his lips, and he sucked at a finger until it was withdrawn again. His mouth wanted more, wanted to eat Krycek alive. "How long have you — had that — the rings?"

"Years." Krycek rubbed his face against Mulder's chest, his stomach, rough whiskers peeling the skin away to expose the quivering nerves. "If I'd known you were interested I would have shown you earlier," he whispered, and Mulder felt the breath that carried those words wrap hot and full of promises around the head of his cock. He let his head fall back, shut his eyes as the first firm tongue strokes narrowed his world down to simple, exquisite sensation.

Straining upwards into that touch, he felt as though he were floating an inch or two above the bed, lifting himself with sheer muscular force into the air, into Krycek's mouth, into a heightened state of consciousness. There was nothing else, nothing except wetness and heat on skin, a swirling spiral pattern too complex for his dazed mind to untangle. All he knew was that it was gentle, and tantalizing, and wonderful, and not nearly enough.

His hands reached out thoughtlessly, tried and failed to grasp the source of that diabolical torment, and his own involuntary motion brought him back to himself enough to say, "Stupid-ass haircut—"

Mulder drew in a deep breath and lifted himself up enough to see Krycek leaning over him. As helpless as a man watching an earthquake via satellite, he saw tongue meet flesh, feeling the silken touch slice his mind into tattered rags, and then had to close his eyes again, unable to take in both the sight of Alex Krycek's lips around his cock and the riot of sensation that this engendered. He wanted to grab the back of Krycek's head and fuck his mouth with rough carelessness, but deliberate movement seemed too complex a concept for him to grasp.

"Sharp," Krycek said, lips pressed against a spot just below the crown, the vibrations of the words soft and teasing, "sharp like oil, silver, you taste like... licking a knife made of flesh, like snow and blood, sharp and bitter like—" And the talking mouth opened without warning and slid down along the length of him, took him in deep and held him tight. Mulder responded with a flat breathless groan, feeling suction all over his skin, feeling himself swallowed whole—

And then released again. Krycek sat back, straddling Mulder's right leg, and did nothing. Opening his eyes, Mulder saw that he was being observed from underneath long dark lashes. Krycek was wearing his most innocent face, only slightly spoiled by wet lips and flushed cheeks. He looked like the naive young FBI agent who had tried to introduce himself into Mulder's case and life with a handshake and a smile years ago, looked as though the time between then and now had only been a bad dream, or some crackpot theory Mulder had constructed in an idle moment. Mulder felt his upper lip pull back from his teeth and a growl start at the back of his throat. His reaction to that look was the same now as it had been then, without any intervening layers of expected behavior getting in the way.

He was going to fuck Krycek until the man couldn't even remember how to look innocent any more.

Released from the torment of Krycek's touch, he finally rediscovered muscle coordination and half sat up, bringing the other man down with a sweep of his arm and turning himself to get their legs untangled. His mouth descended on earlobe, neck, shoulder. "Turn over."

Mulder dug his fingers into one of Krycek's arms and pushed him down flat. He kissed the soft spot at the back of the neck, then followed the vertebrae down and down, licking each link in the bone chain curving gently between columns of muscle. When he reached the small of the back he had to stop and press his face into that enticing hollow. He wanted to stay there, in that warm safe place, in the comfort he took in touching Krycek... then he shook his head to clear away that feeling, so at odds with his body's overriding demands for release.

Shifting down, he wasn't surprised when Krycek spread his legs to make room; he cupped one hand around rounded flesh pushing up into his touch, and ran his thumb along the crease between buttock and thigh, then followed it with his tongue. The taste here owed nothing to their previous shower, it was just right, a little salty, a little oily, human and hot and irresistible. He paused to savor it.

"Why don't you lick me some more, Mulder." Krycek's voice was huskier than ever, taut with excitement. He didn't quite stutter, but the syllables were forced out seemingly at random with no thought to where they would land. Mulder smiled and kissed a spot high up on the inside of Krycek's thigh. He let his mouth move slowly, lip-reading, learning shape and texture and taste. Concentrating on that, he could disassociate himself from his own urgency, until Krycek moaned and the sound slammed into his balls and rose up along his cock in heavy pulses of desire that wanted instant gratification.

"Does she, do you know if—" Mulder drew in a deep breath, leaned back a little and started over. "Is there any lubricant?"

Krycek twisted his neck to look at Mulder over his shoulder, and smiled, a bit unsteadily. "In my jacket," he said. "Inside pocket."

"I hope you realize what that says about you," Mulder muttered as he got off the bed and stumbled across the floor looking for leather. Under other circumstances, he would have taken the chance to go through every single pocket and see what else he could learn about Alex Krycek beside his apparent readiness for sexual encounters at any time, but right now Mulder intended to be the next such encounter, and the sooner it happened the better, before he burned out on this almost unbearable level of arousal and vanished in a puff of unsatisfied smoke. He got out condoms and lubricant and turned back to see Krycek still sprawled on his stomach, still watching over his shoulder.

"I was just hoping to get lucky." Long lashes dipped down and rose again; Krycek's eyes gleamed. There was laughter in there somewhere, and Mulder tossed lube and condoms on the bed and lay down on top of Krycek, bringing their bodies into full contact, biting the neck beneath the short bristly hair, grinding his cock against Krycek's ass. "Yeah, something like that — like — mmmm—"

"You want me to fuck you?" Mulder asked, running his hand possessively down Krycek's side, raking his nails across the ribs to feel Krycek buck underneath him. "Or," he couldn't seem to bite down on the words, "you want to fuck me?"

"Oh, Jesus." Krycek arched up again, rubbing himself against Mulder. "You just really want to make my life hell, don't you. Do I have to choose?" He shifted his thighs apart and the next thing out of his mouth was a low moan, an answer as good as any. Mulder slid down to one side and got hold of the lube; he squeezed too hard and ended up with half the contents of the tube in his hand at once. He used both hands to transfer the whole slick mess into the deep crease between Krycek's buttocks, cooling the burning skin. Then he pressed a fingertip against the tight muscle and held it there. Krycek made a sound, then another one, and started to push back against Mulder's finger. "What the fuck are you waiting for?" he panted, working his hips in slow twists.

The tightness yielded and Mulder slid his finger inside, pulled back, pushed in again, smoothing the lubricant into Krycek's body. Two fingers made it even easier and brought a groan from Krycek. He increased the pace of his thrusts until Krycek was muttering what sounded like threats of dismemberment under his breath, relishing the control he had over the other man's pleasure. "You like this?" he whispered, lips against Krycek's back. "You like what I'm doing to you?"

"Stop it," it was so soft, he could not distinguish it at first from the curses, "don't— I want you inside me when I come—"

It was almost impossible to handle condoms with shaking, lube-slick fingers, almost painful to touch himself. He pulled Krycek up until the man was resting on knees and elbows, and used both thumbs to stroke his ass, hold him wide open, until he had to steady his cock with one hand as he pushed inside. Slowly, so damn slowly. Short gliding thrusts eased him deeper and deeper, and when he was sheathed fully in slick hot flesh he paused and let his head fall forward, struggling to keep his hips still, to prolong the pleasure by teasing himself and Krycek both.

After a while Krycek began to rock back against him, a twisting grinding movement that grew more and more urgent, until Mulder had to grip the working hips to steady them and himself. That touch brought him a curious flash of doubled sensation; he could feel himself at once deep inside Krycek's ass, and spread open and penetrated, fucking and being fucked, as though he could not be one without the other, his body mirroring his lover's that mirrored his, endlessly. Then it passed as he started to thrust and lost the ability to think.

Krycek arched up, meeting every deep stroke, driven by his own shameless hunger. It was easy, it was so easy and so obscenely beautiful that Mulder wanted it to last forever. "Sweet," he had no control over the words either, "so fucking sweet—"

"Harder," Krycek hissed, strained and desperate, breathing in jagged panting moans that stroked across Mulder's skin like nettles. Sweet, so sweet and painful. Muscles pulled tight and moved him faster, he was blind, mindless, every thrust a streak of lightning tearing through him, every slap of his hips against Krycek's ass a thunderclap.

"Now," he couldn't get enough air but he was yelling desperately at Krycek, "now, damn it, now—"

And Krycek shuddered, twisting, pressing himself back, sobbing so quietly that Mulder could barely hear it through the pounding in his ears, and his body jerked in hard fierce spasms, as sudden as the jagged flashes of a strobe light. Mulder threw his head back and let Krycek's muscles squeeze the orgasm out of him, taken and possessed and helpless and loving it.

It went on for a long, dizzying time, until the compulsive motions ceased and they slumped forward, falling into an uncomfortable heap, the sound of their breathing loud in a room that had finally stopped spinning. Mulder lay where he was, face pressed into Krycek's shoulder, gasping for air. He could hear the slow, powerful beats of the other man's heart. His mind drifted, not wanting to land in post-coital depression.

When Krycek moved, acknowledging a return to reality, Mulder sighed and pressed a silent farewell kiss to the skin under his lips. He withdrew cautiously and tried to find a place to dispose of the condom. There were no obvious solutions and finally he made himself get up and go into the bathroom. Looking at himself in the mirror, he was taken aback by what he saw: the flush, the dreamy smile. He'd rarely seen himself look so happy.

When he turned back, he met Krycek in the door and had his neck licked briefly, and then Krycek was in the bathroom and he was outside. Mulder went to sit on the bed, then got up again to peel the bedspread off. The wet spot hadn't soaked through to the blankets and bolsters. He crawled in, too tired to do more than pull a pillow underneath his head and lie there listening to the sound of running water.

It didn't take long for Krycek to clean up and come back, turning off the overhead light as he went past the switch. The room became completely dark, and Mulder fumbled for the bedside lamp, managing to turn it on as Krycek bumped into something and cursed mildly. Krycek got under the covers and slid into Mulder's arms as though they'd been sleeping together for years. "Tati will probably wake us at dawn," he said, burrowing in close.

"We were going to talk," Mulder said, rubbing his cheek against the top of Krycek's head. "You were going to tell me something." But he knew from his own reluctance to name the topic that he wasn't sure he wanted to go there, not now.

"Tomorrow, okay?" Warm breath against his neck almost made him wonder if he was quite as sleepy as he'd thought a moment before. "Tomorrow, Mulder. Tonight it's just..."

"Yeah." And knowing that, he let his lips wander over Krycek's face, a belatedly gentle voyage of discovery. "Yeah, it's just..."

Just another night at Tati's. Where you can have anything your heart desires.

If you're willing to pay the price.

* * *

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