Morning Variations V:
Christmas Day, In the Morning
I juggled various packages awkwardly as I waited for someone to open the door. Standing off to one side, I once again wondered what in the hell I was doing here.
Christmas Eve with Skinner and Krycek. Hell, I liked Skinner well enough. And, Krycek was turning out to be a most interesting man. But... seriously, how many people spend Christmas Eve with their gay boss and his lover? Said lover being, naturally enough, an assassin and a multiple-agent with who knows what as his final agenda.
Oh yeah. Wouldn't Kersh love to hear about it?
And then there was Scully. Jesus, the woman would be wearing my balls as earrings if she ever got wind of this.
The door swung open and Skinner stood there smiling so genially that it was vaguely frightening. "Evening, John," he offered in a friendly tone as he swung the door open and stepped back. "Here." He grabbed a couple of my packages as they started a slow slide towards the floor. "Let me give you a hand there."
I nodded my thanks and followed him in. "Merry Christmas, sir."
He frowned at me. "Walt, please."
I shrugged. "Well, if you prefer," I said doubtfully.
"Relax, John. It's Christmas, you're here to share the holiday with us -let's leave the office formalities where they belong." With another smile, Walt set the packages down on the table and took my coat.
As I walked to the living room, Alex came bustling out of the kitchen. He had a dishtowel tucked into his waistband and was wiping some unidentified substance off of his hand as he walked toward me. "JD," he greeted me merrily. "How the hell are you?"
"I'm good Alex. You?" I opened the bag I was still clutching and handed him the bottle of wine I'd brought for dinner. "Here, looks like you're the cook tonight?"
He directed a teasing grin at Skinner. "Well, since the turkey won't fit in the microwave, I didn't have much choice."
Skinner snorted. "Bullshit." Nodding in Krycek's direction, Skinner pasted a look of mock disgust on his face. "He has some very strange ideas about Christmas dinner. You wouldn't even believe what he thought we should eat."
Okay, I would play. "What?" Watching Krycek with feigned suspicion, I straightened and moved to Skinner's side. "You mean he didn't want turkey?"
Alex started to protest, but Skinner spoke right over his objection. "Sturgeon in aspic, John... brined cucumbers... kutya."
"What," I asked with trepidation, "is kutya?"
"It's porridge," Walt announced in tones of deepest disgust. "Made from wheatberries, rice and raisins."
I pasted an appropriately horrified expression on my face. "Porridge? With fish and cucumbers? For Christmas?"
"Now look here," Alex sputtered. "That is a traditional Russian holiday meal. When I was a kid-"
Skinner shook his head mournfully. "He grew up in Russia, you know. I suppose we'll have to make allowances."
I nodded slowly, sending Alex a look of great concern. "Luckily, you seem to have convinced him to at least try the turkey."
"Next year," Alex announced huffily, "dinner is at your place, John." With that, he stalked off to the kitchen mumbling something about stuffing the turkey with sturgeon.
Skinner chuckled and moved to the bar. "How about a drink?"
"Sure," I agreed easily, much more relaxed now. "Got any rum?"
"Yeah," he said. "How do you like it?"
I shrugged. "A splash of Coke will be fine."
He mixed me a tall drink as I went to the hall table and collected my packages. I turned back and paused. "Should I put these under the tree?"
He eyed the gaily-wrapped parcels with some misgiving. "Uh, John, you didn't have to-"
I shook my head and headed over to place the gifts with the others gathered at the base of the brightly-lit tree. "They're nothing fancy, si - um, Walt. Just a couple of little things I picked up." And, damn, I was glad I had - I could see at least two gifts with my name on them hidden amongst the presents for "Walt" and "Alexei".
Something crashed loudly in the kitchen. I jumped up and looked at Skinner with alarm.
He grinned, relaxing indolently against the sofa cushions. "I wouldn't go in there if I were you, John. Alex gets a little, ah, temperamental when he cooks."
A series of vicious epithets in a fascinating mixture of English and Russian floated in from the area in question. I nodded in complete understanding and joined Skinner on the couch.
"Yeah, my ex was the same way. She used to-" Whoa. Not a good subject. "Never mind," I said uncomfortable with my slip. I'd promised myself, dammit. Swore and bedamned that I would not think about her... about them. Not tonight.
Skinner cleared his throat and sipped his drink. "I understand, John."
I realized that he did, in fact, see. He knew the whole fucking story. And, maybe someday I'd even want to talk to him about it. But not tonight. I shifted on the sofa, settling myself more deeply among the cushions, and took a deep swallow of my rum and coke. It occurred to me that this was most likely the reason for my being here. We all needed some kind of buffer between us and those we'd lost.
"JD?" Alex called from the kitchen. "Would you come in here and give me a hand?"
I climbed to my feet and headed in that direction. "Yeah, Alex?" I asked as I went through the doorway. I viewed the shambles of Skinner's kitchen with a grin. I didn't even want to think about what some of the stains decorating the floor and walls - and ceiling, I saw when I looked up - might be.
"Is there anything left for the meal?" I teased.
He snorted and handed me two oven mitts. "Fuck you, JD. Get the turkey out, please."
As directed, I bent to retrieve the turkey. Then I stood helplessly, looking for a clear spot on which to place my burden. Seeing the problem, Alex quirked a brow at me and solved my dilemma with one easy sweep of his arm across the small table. Various bowls and implements and what looked an awful lot like a jello mold (please god - if you have any mercy in your soul I will not find sturgeon in aspic at the table) went crashing to the floor.
I set the bird down and was headed for the safety of the living room when his laser green eyes fastened on me. "Here." After handing me a battered mixer, he turned to scrabble through a drawer in search of something or another.
"Ah ha," he announced triumphantly, turning back with the beaters clutched in his hand. They were even more disreputable looking than the mixer.
"You mash the potatoes, okay?" Practically throwing the beaters at me, he next started rummaging through the freezer. "I need to get the peas and rolls going."
"Fine," I agreed. "But first, I'm gonna go get my drink. You need one?"
"Yeah," he answered distractedly as he read the instructions on the box of frozen peas. "Bring me a glass with ice and tonic."
"Vodka's kept in the freezer, JD. Don't you know anything about Russians?"
I shook my head and went to get our drinks. Skinner was watching the news but looked up with a grin when I walked in.
"Ah, made your escape, did you?"
I grimaced at him. "No, I just came for my drink - and something for Alex. I have to go back and help."
"Sorry to hear that, John."
Strangely enough, he didn't sound sorry at all. In fact, his tone was laced with open amusement.
"I'd watch it if I were you, Walt." I smiled at him with evil innocence. "My house next year, remember? And, since you have no idea what my ethnic background is..."
Leaving him to chew on that, I went back into the disaster area formerly known as Skinner's kitchen.
Krycek pointed at the pot boiling merrily away on a back burner. "The potatoes, John? And when you're done with that, the turnips need mashing, too."
I got the potatoes and poured the water off into the sink. "What should I use to mix 'em in?"
"The pan," he said, sounding as if he were patiently explaining something to a particularly dim 5-year old.
"Alex." I turned to glare at him as he poured a generous amount of vodka into his tonic. "This is Calphalon, the mixer will ruin it."
He shrugged, completely unconcerned. "All the bowls are dirty or broken."
I sighed heavily and washed a bowl. After wiping some unidentified and very gooey substance off the electrical outlet, I plugged in the mixer. From the fridge, I gathered margarine and milk.
"Hey," Krycek objected. "This is a holiday, JD. Use real butter." He sent me a conspiratorial look. "Just don't tell Walt. His doctor has him on a low-cholesterol diet."
"Yeah, right... then Skinner's cholesterol count is up and you tell him that I insisted on butter."
He grinned and winked at me.
I couldn't help it - I laughed aloud. Suddenly, I was really happy to be here. After a full week of debating the question, rethinking my acceptance of Alex's invitation to join them tonight, I finally felt as if I belonged here. It was a strangely comforting feeling.
Skinner peered around the doorway. "What's going on in here?" he asked a tad suspiciously.
"Nothing at all, babe," Krycek answered blithely. "Dinner'll be ready soon. How about opening the wine?"
Without any outward sign that the state of his kitchen was anything other than completely normal, Walt grabbed the bottle of wine and located the opener rather easily amidst the clutter. He carried the wine out to the table and turned back.
"What else can I do?" he asked. "Should I carve the turkey?"
"NO!" Alex answered quickly and forcefully. "JD will do it. You go back out and sit. We'll let you know when it's ready."
"But-" Skinner started to protest.
Alex pushed him towards the door. "Go," he instructed, giving Walt a quick kiss. "Sit down. We have everything under control here."
After eyeing the state of his kitchen doubtfully, Skinner retreated with a shrug.
"That was close," mumbled Alex as soon as Walt was safely out of the room. "You wouldn't believe what that man can do to a perfectly innocent turkey with a carving knife. Last year, Fox-"
Oops. I realized that the subject of Mulder was as off-limits for them as my family was for me. I studied his downcast face for a moment, then set the mixer down and went to put one hand on his shoulder.
"We'll find him, Alex," I said softly. "You know that."
He nodded without looking up. "I know," he whispered. "I do, JD. He'll be back. It's just so hard, you know."
"Yeah," I slipped my arm around his shoulders and pulled him in close. "I do know, Alex. I know all too well."
He looked up at me and I realized that something in my voice had alerted him to the fact that I wasn't just talking about Mulder here.
"We've both been trying so hard to not dwell on it," he said quietly. "But, we only had the one Christmas together, all three of us, and it's so fucking difficult to not think about him this year."
"It's been my experience that the best thing to do is to concentrate on what you do have, Alex. After all, Walt is here."
Alex huffed a laugh against my shoulder. "Yeah, you're right." He pulled away murmuring, "Thanks."
In a surprisingly companionable silence, we finished preparations for dinner. While I carved the turkey, Alex carried a motley assortment of bowls and pans out to the table. When I carried the turkey in he was frowning at the table and rubbing at his lower lip.
"Something's missing," he mused. "What did we forget?"
I eyed the spread. Looked like everything we needed was there. I shrugged. "Dunno, Alex. Looks fine to me."
"Cranberries!" he announced, and headed back into the kitchen.
Walt wandered in and looked at the odd assortment of serving dishes. He sighed. "Damn good thing I got him new bowls for Christmas. Chef Hurricane there is killing my household budget."
I chuckled and sat down along with Skinner. Krycek hurried back in carrying a - shit! He'd put the cranberries in a large Pyrex measuring cup. Biting down hard on my cheek to control my amusement, I concentrated on pouring the wine.
Once we were all settled with full plates in front of us, Walt lifted his glass. "A toast?"
Alex and I nodded and picked up our wine.
Skinner looked at me with one brow raised. "John? You're the guest."
I paused for a moment, frowning in thought, then raised my glass. "To those we've lost. And, to the day we see them again."
We each took a moment to remember then drank. And, surprisingly enough, though I'd sworn not to think of him, this moment didn't hurt quite as much as I'd expected. In fact, I felt real hope for the first time in forever.
Walt and I spent at least an hour cleaning the kitchen after dinner, while Alex retreated to the living room to watch television. Skinner growled and grumbled under his breath the entire time. I might have believed in his anger if I hadn't seen the fond grin that snuck up on him periodically.
Once the dishes were clean and the leftovers were stored in the fridge, I picked up a sponge and some spray cleaner intending to attack the stains on the walls and floor.
"Don't bother," Skinner said. "He'll be making a big breakfast in the morning. Might as well wait until that's over with to really do a good cleanup."
I snorted. "He always make this much of a mess?"
"No, not always. Holidays seem to inspire him to greater effort, though."
He grabbed a pitcher from the refrigerator and turned to look at me. "You like eggnog, John?"
"Good. Go sit down, I'll be out in a minute." Skinner got three glasses down and waved me away. "Go on. This is my secret recipe. If you learn it, I'll have to kill you."
I laughed and did as directed.
Alex was sitting in front of the TV, remote in hand. As he cycled through the channels, he bitched at great length about the fact that there was absolutely nothing on worth burning electricity for.
"Hell, Alexei," Walt teased as he entered the room, "tell him the truth. You're just mad because your favorite show hasn't been on this year."
Now, you're gonna think this is odd, but I knew what show Alex wanted to see. In fact...
"Uh, listen," I said tentatively. "I have something I want to show you. Hang on a minute."
Rising, I went to where Skinner had left my coat and pulled out the videotape I'd almost left at home, not entirely sure why I'd tracked it down in the first place. You see, it came to me in a dream. No, really - it did. Truth to tell, I'd been having some very strange dreams ever since the night Alex had called me and invited me to spend the evening with him and Walt.
The first one I chalked up to the phone call. It made sense to me at the time. Alex had sounded so... I don't quite know how to describe it. Kind of hopeful and scared and hurt, all at the same time. It was pretty obvious that he was looking for something, anything - even me - to distract them from memories of Mulder on Christmas Eve. I could understand and sympathize.
I know the feeling, you see. But, that's neither here nor there.
The thing is, that night I had a dream about Mulder. Oh, it wasn't anything earth shattering. It was actually a fairly quiet, almost normal kind of a dream. Well, I guess that's not quite true. You know how dreams are so... not real? This was too real. Too normal.
So, what was this dream? Mulder, of course. In my bedroom, sitting at the end of my bed, just talking to me. Asking me questions, telling me Alex stories, Scully stories, Skinner stories. That first night, he told me how he'd met them all. The second night I heard about Samantha. Then, on the third night, he brought out the big guns - the conspiracy, the smoker, and Krycek's part in the game.
Of course, every morning I went in and tried to find something, anything to confirm or deny these stories. Scully herself broke down and told me about her first case with the X-Files. And, let me tell you, getting that story out of her without arousing her suspicions was damned tricky. But, I managed.
Then, I wished I hadn't. Because, of course, it was the same story Mulder had told me. First chance I got, I checked the files - same story again.
Gotta tell you, I was not thrilled when the second dream was once again confirmed, this time by Alex. He, I think, just assumed that I was quite naturally curious about Mulder. When I asked him about Samantha, he paused for a few minutes, but he told me the story.
By the third day, I knew that asking questions would only make Scully and Alex very suspicious. Hell, it made me suspicious. I didn't know what was going on. And, Mulder was in my dreams every night - all week long. He told me far more than I wanted to know. The night he told me about how he and Krycek and Skinner got together, I was beyond disbelief. I just knew it was all true.
I didn't understand it. I still don't. But, there you are. He was the one who told me about Alex's favorite Christmas show. He was the one that suggested I take along the copy of said show... No, I'm not going to tell you why I had a copy. That particular subject is not open for discussion.
So, I retrieved the damned tape from my coat pocket and walked over to the television. "This is a... well, someone I cared very much for just loved this cartoon. Would you two mind if I put it on?"
Of course, they didn't argue. I could see the knee-jerk reaction from Skinner to the word cartoon, but I ignored it. Like I said - not open for discussion. I put the tape in and resumed my seat on the couch.
Alex still held the remote and, at my nod, he hit play. Then he sat in openmouthed silence when the music started.
"JD?" He whispered after a moment. "How did you... I mean, I can't believe you-"
Skinner gave me a searching look. "John?"
I shrugged. "I told you, I had it at home. We used to watch this every Christmas Eve, before - well, before."
And, it was true. We had made something of a tradition of watching this every year. The thing is, I wouldn't have normally dragged it over here -but Mulder had insisted. In last night's dream he'd been very clear on the subject. Alex loved this show. It was never on anymore. I had to bring it with me.
So, I did.
Which is how I ended up watching Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol with Skinner and Krycek on Christmas Eve.
Alex was enchanted, of course. And Skinner... well, he was pretty much just enjoying watching Alex. But, every once in a while, he'd give me this look. He knew there was more to it than happy coincidence, I could see it in his eyes. I was sure that he'd have some pretty damned uncomfortable questions for me at a later date.
At any rate, we watched the show together. And, we drank. Well, actually, I drank. They sipped. As the show ended, Alex started yawning. Skinner decided that I'd had far too much to drink and should therefore sleep in the guestroom. I argued half-heartedly for a few minutes before giving in. We said our good nights; I went to bed and fell asleep immediately.
If only I'd known. I thought the dreams I'd been having all week were strange. Shit, they were nothing compared to the trip I was about to take through the looking glass.
I lay still, trying to figure out what had awakened me so abruptly. Eyes still closed; I listened carefully, thinking that perhaps it was simply the strangeness of sleeping in Skinner's home that had disturbed me.
"I know you're awake, John."
That opened my eyes. I rolled to my back and looked at him in stunned amazement. Sitting Indian-style at the foot of my bed, studying me with a serious expression, was Fox Mulder.
I sat up and leaned against the headboard, gathering my thoughts. "Mulder?" I finally asked weakly.
Smiling gently, he nodded. "Why are you so surprised John? You've seen me every night this week."
Ah. I saw then. Another dream.
I didn't see him move, but I jumped, startled when nimble fingers pinched my leg. "Hey!" I stared at him, wide-eyed. "What'd you do that for?"
"I'm no dream, JD."
"So," he asked me with a grin, "was Alex surprised?"
The tape... which I hadn't dreamed. Had I? It crossed my mind that possibly the whole fucking week had been a dream.
He reached out to pinch me again but this time I saw it coming and moved my leg out of his reach. "Oh no you don't," I protested.
"I told you, John - I'm not a dream."
Okay... this had passed up strange and was heading quickly into scary. "Mulder, what the hell is going on? Why are you here? How are you here?"
He looked away for a moment, then drew a deep breath and faced me. "I had to choose one person, John. Only one. That was the deal."
"What the hell are you talking about?" I admit it, I was lost. "Choose? For what?"
"They gave me this chance, John, to come back and see someone. I - well, I couldn't see Walt or Alex without seeing the other. And Scully," a pained expression crossed his face. "Well, I just couldn't do this to her - I can't stay, John. This is my last night here for now. How could I go to her and then leave so quickly with no real explanations?"
Whoa. What the fuck was he talking about? "Mulder, what is going on here? Start at the beginning, please."
He shifted and sighed. "John, I can't, I just can't tell you much. That's part of the deal, you see."
What deal was he talking about?
"With them." He leaned forward and stared at me, trying to convince me by sheer dint of will, I think. "I can't explain anything yet, John. I'm sorry, I wish I could. I just can't. If you could just-"
Just what, I wondered.
"Believe that I'm here... that I can't stay... that this is real."
Damn. The guy wanted me to believe. I drew a deep breath and arranged the pillows more comfortably behind me. "Okay, Mulder. How about this... tell me why you chose me?" And, how the hell did you even know about me?
He shrugged. "I saw you."
"Where did you see me, Mulder?" I finally asked slowly. "We've never met. I'd remember that."
"I... it's so damned hard to explain in a way you'll understand, John. In a way it's as though I'm dreaming. Sometimes I can... tap into what's happening here. I became aware of you not too long ago; in Arizona, the night you met Alex."
Well, that certainly cleared things up. Ever try to see through mud?
He laughed. "Sorry, John. I just don't know how to say it... not without breaking the agreement."
I was beginning to get a little uncomfortable with the way he was responding to my thoughts as much as my comments. The guy wasn't a telepath - at least no one had ever said anything to hint at such an ability.
"Don't worry about it so much. I'm not riffling through your memories or anything like that. I just - well, I can see your dreams - and your nightmares. Sometimes I can see what you're doing during the day. And, when I'm this close to you, I can hear your thoughts if I concentrate."
Oh hell. My nightmares. That meant he knew about -
"Yeah," he said softly, "I do know." He raised a hand when I opened my mouth. "I understand, John. Not open for discussion." He met my eyes with understanding and sympathy. "But, I think that may have something to do with how easy I found it to, um... connect with you. You know?"
Yeah, I knew. Samantha.
I frowned and looked away. I really didn't want to think about it. The holidays were always dicey - memories crowding at the surface. Tonight I'd actually allowed thoughts of the past to cross my mind - and, for the first time, the tearing pain of loss hadn't crippled me. But, this was pushing it.
"Okay. So, tell me why?" I went back to my earlier, unanswered question. "Why me?"
"Because you're involved with all of them," he answered. "You're the common denominator now. Tell me... tell me how they are. How's Scully holding up?"
"She's a strong woman, Mulder. You know that. She's-" I paused, not sure what to say. "We get along pretty well, all things considered. Though she does make me crazy sometimes."
I sighed. How so? Shit. How not, would be more to the point.
"Ah." He smiled widely. "That's my girl."
I snorted at the very thought of Scully being anyone's 'girl'.
"And Walter and Alex?" he asked in a low voice.
"They miss you terribly. But, they have each other - that helps."
"Yeah. It's hard, knowing how much they're hurting. I miss them too. It's funny, John. I was alone for so long. I was used to it. Then Scully came along... and Skinner, and then Alex."
Shifting a bit, Mulder wrapped his arms around himself. I looked more closely and saw that he was shivering. He glanced up at me and I could see a haunting sadness in his expression that tugged at my heart.
Reaching out, I put one hand on his arm. "Shit, Mulder! You're freezing." I tugged at him, pulling him toward the head of the bed. "Come on, get under the covers."
Settled against a pillow with the blankets pulled up under his chin, Mulder looked all of twelve years old - a scared, lonely, miserable twelve-year old. I had a sudden urge to hold him, to offer a little warmth and companionship. Hesitating, unsure of whether my offer would be accepted, I lay there dithering.
"Please?" He whispered as he moved closer to me.
Opening my arms, I pulled him to me. He felt... right, I decided. Curled up against my side, with his head resting on my shoulder, he felt good.
It was rather disconcerting, actually. I'm straight, you see. Irredeemably. Or so I'd always thought.
"No one's irredeemable, JD."
Shit. "Will you stop doing that?"
He laughed at me. "Sorry." He shrugged and cuddled closer, one arm wrapping itself around my middle. "It's just that -"
"Don't worry about it," I said softly, petting his hair with one hand. "I'll learn to live with it, I suppose."
"You know," he said slowly, "it might be just that I remind you of -"
He stiffened and tried to pull away.
Instinctively, I tightened my hold on him. "No," I said quietly. "You're fine where you are. I just... can't talk about him. Not tonight."
And, I knew that he did. It was strange - being so well known by a virtual stranger. But nice.
Quietly we lay there; each caught up in his own memories, examining our losses and our regrets.
I jumped when the word just appeared in my head. Mulder buried his face in my shoulder and shivered.
::Get him out of here. Make him go away::
What the fuck? I opened my eyes and looked up.
Oh hell. Krycek was at the door.
::Please, John. Make him go... I can't see him... can't talk to him... Pleasepleaseplease::
"Hush," I whispered, putting one hand to his hair. "It's okay."
Looking up to meet Krycek's suspicious glare, I sighed and raised my hand to point at the hallway. With obvious reluctance, Alex backed out of the room. Before closing the door, though, he gave me a questioning look. I nodded and indicated that I'd be right out.
Mulder was shaking against me and a suspicious wetness was gathering on my shoulder. "How the hell," he said in an unsteady voice, "did he know I was here?"
I shrugged. "Alex would always know, don't you think?"
He gave a half-hearted chuckle and nodded, rubbing his tear-dampened face against my shoulder. "I suppose he would."
Reaching over to the bedside table, I grabbed a Kleenex and handed it to him. "Here. I've got to go and tell him... something."
He rolled away from me, scrubbing at his face with the tissue. I paused before rising to examine his expression. "You will be here when I get back, won't you?" I finally asked.
He shrugged. "It might be better if I just go."
No I sent the thought at him forcefully. It would not be better -not for either of us
::You're sure about that, huh?:: With a sly grin, Mulder 'spoke' into my mind again.
"Yes," I said aloud, needing the comfort of the familiar spoken word, "I am sure. Now," I sat up and met his eyes, "promise me you'll be here."
How the hell did Scully and Skinner survive you, you little bastard?
With raised brows and an impudent grin, he sat up and blew his nose. "Go ahead, JD. I'll wait; I promise."
Feeling somewhat less than reassured, I reluctantly climbed out of the bed and headed towards the door. I paused with my hand on the knob and turned back to him.
I sighed and opened the door, stepping out into the hallway.
A faint glow from downstairs led me to Alex. I paused midway down the steps and watched him for a moment. He'd turned the tree lights on and was sitting on the floor studying the brightly colored packages arranged on the treeskirt.
"Why?" He asked without looking up at me.
Hell, I sure didn't know. I opened my mouth to tell him so-
"I can't stay, Alexei." Well, it was my voice. The words, though, were most definitely not mine.
::Hush JD, let me explain to him::
Krycek rose to his feet and gave me the most intense look; I felt as if he'd riffled through my entire mind and that I no longer had a secret left in the world.
::Alex is good, but I'm better:: A gentle ripple of amusement accompanied the thought.
Shit. I walked down and crossed to sit on the sofa. Krycek watched my every move through narrowed eyes. I shifted uncomfortably under his gaze and met his look squarely.
"Don't ask, Alex," I said slowly. "I haven't the vaguest idea how he's doing it."
"Alex," my voice again - not my words. Again. "I can't stay. Not yet, anyway. I just - I needed to be here tonight. This is the only way I could manage it."
I had to give Krycek credit, the guy seemed to accept this completely unbelievable scenario without a moment's hesitation. "Mulder, why are you with him and not us? And, why aren't you down here telling me this yourself?"
"I can't, Alex. I'm sorry... more than you know. But, if I see you - see Walt - I won't be able to leave again. And I have to finish this." My voice grew rather unsteady towards the end and I tensed.
Mulder, if you make me cry, I'll kill you
Jesus! Mulder, will you for god's sake not let any more people into my mind. Please?
Alex lost it. The man was giggling. I couldn't believe my eyes.
::Wait 'til he starts snorting, John. The giggles can't hold a candle to that::
"Mulder," Alex gasped with difficulty, "do you mind? If you give away all of my secrets, the mystery will be gone between John and me."
My days with the NYPD were starting to hold a certain nostalgic charm just about then. Missing men appearing in my bed in the middle of the night, giggling assassins, mental telepathy - what had I ever done to deserve this kind of madness in my life?
"Too late JD," Krycek informed me gravely. "You're a part of the X-Files now; that means you're stuck with us."
In my mind, of course. And, judging by the expression on his face, Alex had heard it too.
"How long has this been going on?" Alex asked.
"Entirely too long," I answered aloud.
::Just this week:: Mulder answered in his own inimitable way.
Krycek offered me a sympathetic look. "Do you begin to see now, John?"
I slumped against the sofa cushions. "Christ, Alex, how in hell have you people put up with him for so long?"
"Because we love him," Alex said with perfect sincerity.
A wave of sadness and regret washed through me at that. Mulder was reaching the end of his tether; his pain was overwhelming. I caught my breath and slumped back into the sofa cushions.
"Alex," I said carefully, "this is hard for him. He could only see one person - that was the deal, he said."
Alex frowned. "But... why you?"
"He couldn't see either you or Walt without seeing the other and he didn't want to, um, appear to Scully and then just disappear." I met Krycek's eyes. "He says that I'm the common denominator now. Somehow, he became aware of me and has been visiting me lately. I think it helps him - this way he can reassure himself that you're all okay."
Alex came over and sat next to me on the couch. "Mulder, will you come back to us?"
::Yes, Alex. I will. But not yet. I have to finish this.::
"We miss you Fox. We need you."
::I need you too, babe. I love you both so much.::
Moving closer to me, Alex leaned against my side. I found myself placing one arm around him and resting my cheek against his hair.
"How long can you stay?" Alex asked in a low voice.
::Only for this night, Alexei.::
Alex straightened. "Walt will want to -"
::God, no. Just this is pushing the envelope, Alex. I was only supposed to 'see' one person. And... it would hurt that much more to see him.::
Alex nodded and leaned against me again. "I guess I can understand that. He won't be happy, though."
::He'll understand, Alex.::
"Yeah, I suppose he will. Eventually." Alex sighed and wrapped an arm around my middle. "This has hit him hard, you know. I've done what I could to convince him that it wasn't his fault - but, you know Walt."
Another crippling wave of sadness hit me.
"Um, Alex," I said carefully, "this is hurting Mulder. I think we'd best go back to bed now."
"Oh, but-" Alex protested.
::I'm sorry, Alex. I... it hurts to talk to you and know that I can't touch you or see you.::
Reluctantly, Alex pulled away from me. "So, you'll stay with JD tonight?"
::As long as I can. He's a good man, Alex.::
Krycek smiled sadly. "Yeah, he is." He directed his attention to me. "You'll help him, JD?"
Uncomfortable with being discussed in this manner, I shrugged awkwardly. "I'll do my best, Alex. He's an... interesting man."
Alex and I rose to our feet and stood staring at each other for a moment. He opened his mouth to speak then blushed. I frowned, wondering what had brought that on.
::He wants us to hold him, JD::
Ah. Well, I could do that. I stepped closer and gathered Alex into my arms. "Go to Walt, Alex. Hold him. I'll take care of your Fox."
He hung on to me with desperate strength for a minute, then sighed and drew back. "You go on up, John. I need a moment."
With perfect understanding, I nodded. I turned to leave.
Oh hell. Why me? I don't kiss men.
::Open yourself to extreme possibilities, JD::
Krycek snorted. "Mulder-"
"It's okay, Alex." I stepped closer and put my hands on either side of his head. His eyes opened impossibly wide as I moved in and pressed my lips to his.
Surprisingly, I found that a kiss is just a kiss. Alex's lips were soft and accepting and he tasted wonderful. Kind of spicy. He melted against me and put one hand on my chest. It was nice.
::Never forget that I love you, Alex. Nothing will ever change that.::
Alex pulled back and nodded. "Thanks JD."
"Merry Christmas, Alex," I said as I turned to head upstairs.
He watched me - us - leave with a sadly understanding and accepting expression.
Mulder was crying again. I climbed into the bed and gathered him into my arms. "Hush," I murmured. "They'll be okay. Just knowing you're alive will mean the world to them."
With a hiccuping sigh, he wrapped himself more firmly around me. "I know, I just can't stand to hear such pain in Alex; and, I want so much to see Walt. Be with both of them."
"We take what we can get, Mulder. You know that. And I'm sure Alex thinks the pain is worth it. So will Walt."
"Yeah," he whispered.
Gradually he relaxed against me. I lay there enjoying the warmth of another body in my bed and found myself slipping into sleep.
Oh god! I arched up into the inferno engulfing my straining erection. Restlessly, I tossed the covers aside and sighed deep in my chest.
It had been so long. So very long. I reached down with one hand carded my fingers through the silky hair of the person lavishing my aching cock with such loving attention.
There was something different here. Very short hair. Very. I let my fingers trail down to caress a cheek and - Shit! Stubble.
::I'll stop if you want, JD::
Ah. Mulder. Extreme possibilities...
For about a nanosecond I considered telling him to back off, then he swallowed my cock whole and I gasped. Oh god! No one had ever deep-throated me; suddenly I understood why men spoke in hushed tones about the experience.
"Fuck! Mulder that's so good," I moaned. Man or woman mattered no longer... the pleasure was just so overwhelming. "Don't stop. Please don't stop."
A rather loud groan reached my ears from Walt and Alex's room. Normally, listening in on another couple's lovemaking would have made me uncomfortable. But, not tonight. Somehow it only increased my own excitement.
Softly stroking Mulder's head, I sighed and lost myself in the sheer pleasure of having my cock attended to so lovingly. His mouth was silky heat, his tongue an incredibly limber torture device, lashing along the length of my erection attentively, thoroughly, deliciously. And his throat... christ almighty. Every time he swallowed me the rippling effect along my hardness made me see stars.
He raised his head to smile at me and in the dim light I saw another face. Krycek.
What the hell? How had Krycek gotten here?
Before I could protest, he slithered up my body and grinned at me as he lay atop me, our cocks pressed firmly together. Damn. It felt so fucking good ... so right. I put my arms around his shoulders and reached up to kiss him.
Fuck! The man could kiss. I lost myself in the warmth of him, his tongue eagerly exploring my mouth, stroking my tongue, learning me in a way that took my breath away.
Some dim corner of my brain protested. I was straight, had never wanted a man in this way.
Ignoring that annoying voice, I wrapped my arms around Alex and stroked his back. Such smooth skin. And so warm. The firm musculature under that satin skin was strangely arousing. Nothing like the softness of a woman.
I liked it.
My hands wandered down to cup his ass, pulling his groin more firmly against me.
Dizzyingly, I found myself on top of a body. I broke away from the kiss and opened my eyes.
Skinner. With an expression I'd never seen in his eyes. He looked up at me with... was that love?
I realized that Mulder was somehow doing this. I had no idea whether I was awake or asleep - and, I didn't care. I smiled down at Walt and kissed him again. He groaned and opened his mouth wide, opening himself to me. The kiss grew more heated and I found myself rubbing my cock against him, wanting... needing more.
"John," Mulder again. "I need you to fuck me, John. Can you do that?"
"Fuck me, Walt," I heard from the other room.
"Please, JD," Mulder whispered. "I need-"
"All right, Mulder," I agreed. "But, I've never done this before. You'll have to help me."
"No problem. We need-" Rolling away from me, he opened a bedside drawer and pulled lube and a condom out with an air of triumph.
I watched breathlessly as he squeezed some lube onto his fingers and opened himself for me. He tore the foil envelope open and carefully rolled the condom over my cock.
"How do we do this?" I asked huskily.
"Just like with a woman, JD." He lay on his back and lifted his legs, making room for me. "C'mere... on top of me."
Unsure of myself, but wanting this with a desperate intensity, I lay atop him and paused.
Mulder grinned at me and reached down with one hand to place my aching cock against his opening. "Go slowly, John. It's been a while."
Slowly, hesitantly, I pushed. Oh god, he was tight. And hot.
"Oh god, Walt," Krycek groaned from the other room. "You feel so good, babe."
Heart pounding, I slowly sank into Mulder's body. Once I was fully encased, I stopped to catch my breath. With a wicked grin, he reached up to pinch my nipples.
"Fuck, Mulder," I moaned. "You keep that up and it'll be over in short order."
I was on my back. The man sitting on my erection groaned and ground his ass against me.
Krycek. Looking like hell's own archangel. His face was flushed and a sheen of sweat made him glow with pleasure.
"Oh yeah," he whispered. "That's it, babe."
He looked down at me and bit his lip. Laser green eyes were glazed over with the extremity of his need. "Fuck me."
Skinner stroked my chest soothingly. "Easy now... let's make this last."
Damn. Skinner was inside of me... fucking me. And it felt too good to bear. He shifted his hips and hit a spot that felt so incredible that I almost bucked him off in reaction.
"Hell with that," I groaned, pushing my hips up against him searching for that wonderful feeling again. "Just fuck me, Skinner - oh, god - that's so good."
"Touch me," Mulder sighed. "Touch me, John."
With one hand, I grasped his rock hard cock and started a slow stroking motion.
"Oh yeah," he gasped. His legs wrapped around me, pulling me more forcefully into him. He tightened his muscles and I caught my breath.
"Mulder," I warned. "I'm gonna come - you feel so good - so tight and warm."
"Come for me, babe," Krycek demanded. He gasped and his muscles tightened around me. "Ummmm... so good..."
"Ohgodohgod," Mulder groaned. "Do it, John. Do it for me."
I tightened my hold on his erection and pumped more firmly. "Not without you," I moaned. "Come for all of us, Mulder... c'mon."
And he was coming. Hard. The resulting contractions around my cock sent me over the edge with a shout. Dimly, I heard matching sounds of completion from Walt and Alex. I don't know how, but I felt them reach completion too.
I believe it was the most intense orgasm of my life.
Drained, I slumped down on top of Mulder. Gasping for breath, I considered trying to figure out just what had just happened.
::Just believe, John.::
Limply, I moved to one side and pulled Mulder to lay against me. He reached down and gently removed the condom, tying a knot in the end and dropping it over the side of the bed.
"Thank you," he murmured.
"Mmmm," I hummed, beyond words at that point. I rested my cheek against his soft hair and sighed happily.
"Hey JD, get up!"
I opened my eyes blearily and groaned. Jesus, what the hell time was it?
The door opened and Alex stuck his head in to grin at me. "C'mon JD; it's time to open presents!"
Shit. I wanted to bark at Alex, tell him to leave me alone to sleep. Between the eggnog and the strange dreams I'd been having all night, I was in a sorry condition. But, Alex was so eager - like a kid in his excitement at the prospect of presents. I just couldn't resist his eagerness to rip into his presents.
Carefully, I rose, head pounding and muscles stiff. After a quick shower, I headed downstairs. Walt took one look at my pained expression and smiled sympathetically.
"Coffee in the kitchen, and aspirin in the cabinet over the sink," he offered.
I stumbled into the kitchen and poured myself a cup of caffeine. Shook out two aspirin, looked at them and shook out two more. I leaned against the counter and inhaled my first cup, poured another and headed out to the living room.
Alex was sitting on the floor in front of the tree examining the presents with joy. "About time," he groused. "Sit down and let's get going here."
"Worse than a kid," Walt said. "He's been up for hours now. I had one hell of a time persuading him to let you sleep in."
I grinned at him. "Thanks, Walt. I had a rough night. The eggnog gave me very strange dreams."
We settled in and Alex started parceling out gifts. They got me a couple of books and a bottle of very old scotch. I had to laugh at the books: "The Celestine Prophecy" and "Communion".
I watched closely as Alex opened one of my gifts to him. I'd had second and third and fourth thoughts about it. But, in the end, I decided that he'd get a kick out of it. Mulder had assured me so.
He stared at silently for a beat. Then he started laughing. Lifting it out of the box, he showed it to Skinner.
It was a bundle of pencils, razor sharp and ready to throw.
Skinner choked. "If I find pencils in my ceiling I'll come after both of you."
Alex read the note on the inside of the wrapping paper with a smile: "Keep the pencils sharp for me, Ratboy." His eyes grew moist and he coughed to cover his emotions.
Once he'd recovered, I watched anxiously as he opened his second gift. Mulder's basketball. Mulder's idea. It seemed to work, though. Alex cleared his throat and turned to watch Walt open the gift I'd brought for him.
Skinner lifted the framed photo and just stared, a suspicious brightness in his eyes.
"Where did you find this, John?"
"In Mulder's files. I thought you'd like to have it."
"What?" Alex asked curiously. "Let me see."
Walt turned the picture around and Alex caught his breath. "Oh my god," he whispered.
"I don't remember this being taken," he said, examining the photo of the three of them caught in a relaxed moment. A lovely spring day, apparently they'd been on their way out for lunch. All three wore suits, looking quite dapper. Mulder in the middle, Skinner and Krycek looking at him with matching expressions of fond tolerance. Mulder, of course, wearing that impish look that said he'd just imparted some extremely improbable theory.
"John, I don't know what to say," Skinner murmured. "I... this is... I'll treasure it."
Uncomfortable, yet pleased by his reaction, I turned my eyes away. And spotted a small audiotape tucked away under the tree. Curious, I picked it up and read the note attached.
"Play me", it said.
I showed it to Alex and Walt. They both looked as confused and curious as I felt. I shrugged and went over to the stereo. I hit play and stepped back to listen.
"I saw three ships on Christmas Day On Christmas Day-"
"No, wait... that's not quite right -" Mulder's voice.
"I saw four ships on Christmas Day On Christmas Day On Christmas Day I saw four ships come sailing in On Christmas Day in the morning..."
>>>Have a Very Merry, all!