torch, September 1998
flambeau@strangeplaces.net

Disclaimer: I was drugged again. No, honestly. Author's note: This is for Alex (the other Alex), who asked about Krycek's take on events in Under cover. Here you are. And for Alicia (the other household slave), Empress of the Universe and Queen of the Semicolons. Thanks for the discipline. And for Te (what is a valance?), for the curtainfic fix. Warning: contains at least one major Krycek cliché. When you find it, treat yourself to a bite-sized chocolate ratboy. Do not archive this story without permission.

Sheltered life

He knew already that impulsiveness was his besetting sin. Either that or curiosity. Two ways of saying he got off on taking risks, Alex Krycek thought and bit into his ice cream, glancing at the man in the passenger seat, about whom he knew absolutely nothing except that all the applicable adjectives seemed to begin with a P: proper, prim, and kind of... pretty, actually. The kind of guy you had to get drunk before he'd put out. Alex toyed with the idea of producing a bottle from the glove compartment. I'm really horny, why don't you have a drink?

Because if you're desperate enough to grab a stranger at a gas station and offer a lift to DC on the off chance that he really did mean to check out your ass when you were bending down to get that ice cream cone and isn't just as clueless as he looks, you need it bad. Christ, three weeks of running that goddamn assault course in the woods outside Richmond, and endless lectures in the evenings; it was enough to drive anyone to drink, or at least anonymous pickups. Nothing to screw out there except the horses. What a life.

He thought dreamily of his apartment in DC, of cold beer and trashy mysteries and huge steaks and fried onions and Bach. Private things, addictions, unconfessed loves. And then he thought about getting laid. No contest. Alex turned on the radio, wondering what passed for mellow and seductive these days and then deciding to hell with it, what he needed was raunchy music, the kind that made your pulse beat faster, jazzed you up, got you hot. There wasn't any. But to his total amazement, Byers the doe-eyed, conservative suit guy appeared to enjoy what there was. Alex watched those tapping fingers and grinned, and got a smile in return.

That was good. Now he had to figure out how to take it from there and bridge the distance between a smile and a blow job. Maybe it was a little early to suggest that they just forget about the preliminaries and fuck by the side of the road. But if he was going to be subtle, they'd be in DC before he got anywhere, and it was so damn uncomfortable to sit and drive when you had a hard-on.

He looked at Byers again and deliberately caught his eyes, smiled, held that look. Imagined the soft-looking beard teasing his skin. "I wouldn't have figured you for an REM fan," he said innocently, checked the road quickly, went back to looking. "So, are you in a hurry to get back?"

Remotely possible to misunderstand, if you were clueless, and to deny, should that be necessary, but Byers looked adorably flustered, and Alex tried to keep his smile from turning into a smirk of satisfaction. Oh, yes. The certainty that he was going to get what he wanted made him feel even hornier. And playful.

"Not really," Byers stammered, shaking his head, blushing a little, although the beard almost hid that reaction. "But this is a lot better than catching the bus."

You better believe it, Alex thought and popped the last piece of ice cream cone into his mouth. His first real sugar indulgence in three weeks, and it seemed to act as an aphrodisiac. "Yeah, I can see that. And from my perspective," oh the joys of tone, inflection, facial expression, "it's a lot more fun to have company." He let his eyes move leisurely over Byers' face, then drift ever so slowly down, before he had to look at the road again. A quick check showed him that this was a blush the beard couldn't possibly conceal. Alex could almost feel the heat of it.

And then Byers looked back at him, still blushing but with something in his eyes that told Alex he hadn't been wrong, he had most definitely not been wrong and this was going to be a whole lot of fun, really. He took the nearest exit, without an idea of where he would end up, just knowing that they had to get someplace isolated and get their hands on each other. Something about the other man made him want to play.

Houses — they looked familiar, actually, and suddenly he knew just where he was and turned, followed that road and turned there and it was still just as quiet here, just as peaceful, and grass had grown on the ground, covering a multitude of sins. Which was really just as well. He turned to his passenger and felt another surge of lust, of laughter, of weird tenderness; touched a leg, surprisingly well-muscled under the cloth, bent forward and brushed his lips over the corner of the man's mouth.

That was apparently enough of a shock to send Byers into near-catatonia, although the jumping pulse betrayed him. Alex, who could never resist teasing, straightened up again. "I'm sorry," he said, "I thought—"

The apology he'd been constructing died when Byers grabbed for him, and he heard the choked "Yes," and caught the hand that touched him; used it to caress himself, almost purring. Finally. Finally someone who would touch him, after the mindless boredom of the past few weeks, after — he had to admit it to himself — the dreary weeks before that, when nothing had gone right, and opportunity and inclination had never managed to have a date, let alone get him one. Soft fingers on his nipples. Light scratch of nails along the breastbone; Byers was maybe a little more adventurous than he looked. Maybe. Not that it mattered, because Alex was quite prepared to be adventurous enough for both of them.

He pulled the hand up to his mouth and chewed on Byers' fingertips, then played with the fingers, trying out the taste of Byers' skin. Quite appealing, and Byers was squirming in his seat, which was good, and they were going to have to contort into some really weird positions if they were going to stay sitting like this, which was bad. But he had an idea, and it was a good idea and a kinky idea and he felt himself get harder as he dropped Byers' hand and said, "Let's go outside."

To his delight, Byers just nodded and got in a fight with the seat belt. Alex got out and walked around the car to get the tarp out. A slightly manic smile pulled at his mouth, but he tamed it. He didn't want to frighten the other man, after all. Not much, he amended as he came up to Byers and saw the look on Byers' face. "Don't want you to get wet," he said gently, reassuringly, and put the tarp down right where he'd dropped another much heavier tarpaulin package about a year ago. He took Byers' arm and pulled him down, but not too hard. "Come on."

It wasn't the same tarpaulin, of course. He'd just found that they were useful things to have with you. And he'd never appreciated the erotic possibilities until now, with an armful of nervous and quite clearly excited John Byers squirming against him. It was different, but intriguing, and it was so good to touch someone again, and kiss someone, scrape of beard, clash of teeth, oh yes.

Byers was a little shy at first, a little slow, and then he seemed to just let go, confessing in sound and movement how much he appreciated what Alex was doing, so Alex did it some more. Bit him, stroked him, kissed him again and again.

"Do you do this a lot?" Byers asked, his voice a little unsteady, but a lot more relaxed.

He licked at the hollow of the throat. "Do what, have sex?"

"Have — sex," it was a lot of fun trying to see what would distract Byers, or at least slow him down in his attempt to speak, "on the ground wrapped in a tarp-p-paulin..."

You really couldn't blame the guy for asking, Alex thought, biting a nipple and moving downwards. "I like doing it outdoors," he said, which was certainly true. "Call me a back to nature kind of guy." Perverted honesty made him add, "The tarp's optional, though."

And then he decided it was time to put an end to the questions, so he got Byers' pants open, licked at him through his underwear, eyes closed, enjoying the smell and the heat and the small twitches. He wondered how he'd gone from the idea of getting a blowjob from Byers to that of giving him one — it had to be the fact that the man was so noisy. Alex loved making his partners scream, it was an ego thing plain and simple and he wasn't ashamed to admit it. Or indulge in it. He thought about tearing Byers' briefs to shreds, but decided that might be overdoing it a bit.

Instead he yanked them down and held Byers firmly pinned as he started to taste and explore. Funny how it always seemed like so much of an adventure, given that the basics didn't change much from one guy to another. Subtleties of taste, texture, shape to be observed and, not infrequently, appreciated. He'd missed this, he thought and with an effort kept himself from humping Byers' leg. Concentration, Alex.

"You drink a lot of coffee?" Not until he said it did he realize what the flavor of Byers' precum had reminded him of. "You taste like coffee." Maybe he could get wired on caffeine doing this. Hell of a way to get your fix.

He was getting carried away, when he heard the last word he'd expected. "Stop," more of a squeak than anything else, "wait, you shouldn't — not without—"

Oh. Alex started to grin, sharply, adding a little graze of teeth that made Byers writhe. "I hate the taste of latex," he said, remembering his coach of the past three weeks asking him very seriously, Do you know what your life expectancy is? "But I like — coffee—"

And he sucked harder, and Byers, moment of prudence gone, twisted and cried out, making enough noise for ten people as he came. God, those repressed guys, once you got them going... Alex licked his lips and wriggled up until he could bite at Byers' throat and jaw, nibbled here and there to keep him from falling asleep. Finally he got a soft, "Ow," in response.

"Remind me again," he purred, "you don't have to be back anytime soon, right?" He rocked against the other man's hips, doing a little reminding of his own.

"No." Byers turned against him slowly, smoothing a languid hand across his chest, down his side under the open shirt. Alex was going to tease Byers later about the missing buttons. Right now, he was content to growl a little under the stroking hand and wait for it to get to where it was, hopefully, going. A detour up to play with his nipples, yes, he could live with that. A brief tickle around his navel and he growled again.

"Come on," he said, not caring that he sounded needy, "do I have to draw you a map or what?"

And Byers, wonder of wonders, chuckled as he worked the zipper down, and then broke off the chuckle in a startled hiccup at the sudden contact of flesh on flesh. "Um — did you forget to do your laundry this week?"

Alex lost it completely. He laughed until his stomach hurt, but managed to grab at Byers' hand and prevent it from moving away even as he wheezed and gasped for air. Not until Byers began to stroke his cock did he recover, as his sense of humor was overtaken by his libido. It was a good touch, too, confident, knowing. He gave himself up to it, flung his arms over his head, lifting the tarpaulin so that rain-fresh air cooled his face. It smelled so good, scented with the wet grass outside.

A luxury to be passive, to lie there and be touched and let someone else work for his pleasure. One hand on his cock, another on his chest, pinching his nipples now. "A little harder," he said, and then yelped in delight as the request got him nails, sharp stings, "harder," bright sizzling pain, he'd underestimated Byers and it felt great to discover his mistake. "And can you please touch me—"

"Just let me do this my way," Byers said, sounding a little put out, and Alex tried to recapture an earlier thought. Passive. Right. He was going to be... no more fingers on his nipples, that hand replacing the other on his cock, shift of body next to him and the rhythm turned uneven for a while as Byers repositioned himself. Alex hissed in annoyance, then forgave everything at the first rasp of beard against his balls. I knew there was a reason why I wanted this guy. Stubble was too rough, this was just right, and he rolled his hips in shameless pleasure. A smooth wet swipe of tongue, more bristly caresses. And the left hand was as good as the right, and where was that right hand anyw-w-w—

"Oh God, yes," he moaned, the hedonist's prayer to an indulgent deity. "Oh. God. Yes."

Eyes tightly closed, he gave himself up to the moment — hot sex with a stranger, a favorite fantasy and a favorite reality. Hot sex in weird places, and he tried to laugh, but the sound that came from his throat was all lust with no room left for humor. He needed to come, and Byers' hand was taking him there, he was heading for orgasm, led around by his dick, why the hell wouldn't his mind stop saying things like that, at least he was being led in the right direction, by tongue beard fingers hand...

Alex rolled his head, hit it against a tree root, and the small pain did something to his nervous system. Sensations were magnified, overwhelmed him, and he cursed through clenched teeth and tried to press every part of himself deeper into the pleasure, towards that waiting point of still white ecstasy.

And then he found it. Came, with great pleasure, all over Byers' hand and his own stomach and the remains of his shirt. God, that was good. Alex sucked in a deep breath, spat out a mouthful of tarpaulin, felt Byers lie down next to him, still with one hand cupped warmly around twitching flesh.

They lay like that for a while, listening to the rain. Alex wondered how he was going to get into his apartment without being seen by the neighbors; he had worked out four separate plans and was starting on a fifth by the time Byers said, "Maybe we should... The ground's a little cold."

"What, no round two?" Alex grinned, then sat up, pushing the tarp down from his head and shoulders. It was still raining, but more gently now. The car was unexpectedly close, a big metal guard dog watching over them. "All right, we need to get going again."

He fastened his pants, saw by the way the tarp moved that Byers was going through some complex squirming clothes-fastening ritual as well. Then the man slowly emerged into the warm, wet summer air, with his hair mussed and his cheeks still flushed. Alex felt quite pleased with himself. They got to their feet and folded the tarpaulin between them, making quick work of it, and Alex stuffed it back into the trunk. He glanced at the ground where they'd lain, crushing the grass, and saw nothing incriminating. A good spot, that.

Back in the car, there was a silence between them as Alex drove back to the main route. But then Byers picked up his water bottle and offered Alex some, and Alex thanked him, and turned the radio back on, and they started talking aimlessly about this and that. Nothing personal, but it made the time pass more quickly, even with another stop to pick up something to eat, even with Byers' amazing fussiness about what, exactly, he was going to eat. Alex just laughed.

Traffic turned heavy as they got closer to DC. The car slowed down, and Byers was fidgeting; he'd asked to be let off at the first exit with a Metro stop. Alex didn't blame him. He wished he could get off there too, and fold the car up and bring it home in his pocket. It would be a while yet before he could shower off the dried semen on his stomach and torment his neighbors, who had had three luxurious weeks of not being blasted with the second Brandenburg concerto played at full volume. He took the requested exit with a sigh, feeling for the first time that his weeks in the wilderness had left him just a little tired.

In the parking lot by the Metro station, Byers turned stiff and formal. He unfastened the seat belt carefully and looked at a point about an inch to the left of Alex's face as he said, "Thank you for giving me a lift. I—" He broke off, rummaged in his pocket, and produced three crumpled dollar bills. "Here."

Alex stared at him. "What the hell," he said, "is that supposed to be for?"

Byers jumped, and Alex realized he'd forgotten to control his voice. "Gas," the man half stammered. "And you p-paid for the food, and—" Byers looked really unhappy. "I'm sorry, but that's all the money I've got right now. Everything else is in my friend's car." Then Byers paused and his eyes went comically wide. "You — you didn't think—"

The judges would give this blush a 9.5, Alex decided. He snorted with laughter; it was impossible to be angry, faced with that endearing look. Instead, he dug into his own pocket and fished out a bill, too. "Here," he said, "in case terrorists blew up the Metro and you have to take a cab home."

Byers' eyes went even wider. "But that's a hundred dollars."

"You can pay it back later. Now get going," Alex looked at his watch, "so I have a chance of getting a few hundred yards before rush hour catches up with me." He leaned across Byers and opened the passenger door.

"Later?" Byers swung his feet out but corkscrewed around to look at Alex over his shoulder. "You mean we could... see each other again?"

It wasn't something he'd given much thought to, really, but the idea had potential. Regular sex keeps an agent happy, well exercised and out of trouble. Alex grinned. "We could," he said. "Dig up my phone number and give me a call, okay?"

There was a sudden glint in Byers' eyes, but all he said was, "I will. Thanks for the ride." Then he got out and shut the door, and Alex drove out of the parking lot and headed home, whistling Bach all the way.

* * *

Induction

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