torch, November 1998 - May 1999

Disclaimer: I made this, but I didn't make them. The final story in the Bone and stars series. Definitely later than Fool star, Witness tree and No new year. Thanks to Alicia, Shoshanna, Te and Maxwell Demon. Feedback happily received at Do not archive this story without permission.

Came down like water

The smell of Chinese takeout was beginning to grow oppressive. All through the apartment, the air was thick with congealing sweet-and-sour. Daylight showed every scuff and smear on the floor, basketball bounces, scratches from heavy boots and dropped guns, the occasional faded bloodstain. He wasn't going to get his security deposit back. Everything looked so fragile, the worn leather of the couch, the thin glass of the aquarium walls. So unreal. Light as a B-movie rockfall, breakable as a heart.

"I shouldn't be here." Catch of pure discomfort in the other's husky voice.

His response was almost automatic. "Are you afraid the sunshine will turn you to ashes?"

Krycek, like the floor, was revealed by day — the lines around eyes and mouth, the uneven stubble, the scrapes across one bruised cheekbone — worn and subtly wrong, like a razor forced to hack through plywood. Pacing the end of the room, keeping away from the neat rectangles of direct sun, rolling his shoulders under the jacket as he moved. "Have you got the transcripts?"

"I've got the first half." He went to the desk and started to sort through papers, putting some things aside on top of the plain brown envelope he'd already prepared. Paused to hold his hands up into the warmth of autumn sun, reaching to feel the glass of the window, but it was chilled from the outside. When he turned around, the other end of the living room seemed to be very far away. He tossed a question at the stalking presence in the shadows. "You hungry?"


And it was a lie, clean and contrary, laid between them, yet another drawn sword down the center of the bed. He thought about testing its edge with his finger. Thought about providing champagne and goose-liver paté next time, just to show what he could do when he really tried. Or maybe cinnamon buns baked with his own hands, now that was really something that might tempt the lion to lie down with the lamb.

He picked the envelope up, stuffed the other papers inside in a careless crush, intending to hand over what he had and be done with this, but then his mind changed mid-stride; he dropped the envelope on the coffee table and walked up with open, empty hands, looking at the man who was all secrets. "You're right," he said, "we can't go on like this."

"About time you realized that." Krycek stopped pacing, turned to face him, ice-eyed with exhaustion. Fading. "Just give me those transcripts, I'm outta here."

"No." He narrowed his eyes, trying to see Krycek's face clearly, where the darkness gathered. Reaching out, he filled his hands with leather and the muscle underneath.

"Now what?" Krycek's voice was a growl on the verge of breaking. "You want me to fuck you, what? Because let me tell you—"

"No." He gripped harder, daring Krycek to vanish into smoke and shade. Solid, solid under his pressing fingers, flex of muscle and heave of breath. "Alex, it doesn't have to be like this. Stop trying to separate us. You don't have to walk in darkness just so I can walk in the light."

"Save the cheap rhetoric for your next Senate hearing." There was no movement of withdrawal, just the cold stare, the casually slurred words. "I know where I walk. I can see well enough in the dark. We've always been separate. Or are you saying you beat me the same way you beat yourself?"

"With one hand," it slipped out, and then he was twisted around and slammed into the wall. A resounding shock of impact, a glint of pain where the back of his head met plaster. So familiar, this. "If," he choked out, "if you gave me a chance."

"I'm taking enough chances, here. And so. Are. You." Face close to his own, nose shiny with sweat, breath gusting out. "There isn't going to be a timeout while you try to figure out what you want. Get your priorities straight. Do what's important."

"I know what I want," and he pressed forward, into a hard kiss. Then he was flung away just as violently, staggered backwards, arms flailing. The coffee table hit the back of his legs and he nearly went down.

"Make up your fucking mind. I'll fuck you if that's what you want, yeah, I'll blow you, let you hit me, whatever, if you stop making such a big deal out of it. Just fucking hold up your end of the bargain, Mulder."

He felt his own face harden. "You give great fringe benefits, Alex."

"And stop calling me Alex."

"You're ordering me around again," and it infuriated him, as it always did, wearing at his self-control, but he couldn't lose it now, couldn't fall back into the same patterns and risk being offered the same distractions. Moving forward, he reached out again, was shoved away again but grabbed and held on tight and struggled and they both went down, landing in heavy, breath-stealing discomfort. Krycek pushed, he pushed back and they wrestled clumsily, leaving more scuff marks, until he just gave up and relaxed, body softening, shifting to accommodate the weight that pinned him down. He wouldn't win anyway, not that game. Closing his eyes, he ran his hands up under the leather, over washworn cotton and knotted muscle, rubbing gently. "Just let me," he whispered.

"I've said," into his shoulder, tiredly, "I'll let you, as long as you..." The dark hair against his cheek was already warming in the sun. He felt himself melt like chocolate. A squirm, half-hearted, and then Krycek turned unexpectedly still in his arms. "You want me to...?"

"No," he said, tightening his grip, breathing in. "Just shut up, Alex," and the squares of light moved slowly over them, and they lay still. Nothing was broken, after all.

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