Part 7 of the EATING series
Summary: In every relationship, there are accommodations necessary.
Rating: Back to PG
Archive: Archive/X, Ratlover, Gossamer. Any others if you ask: just so I know where this is travelling to.
DISCLAIMER: These are the property of CC, Fox and 1013, but let's not forget that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
THANKS: To Solan, a great beta, who always knows what I'm trying to say even when I don't.
Jana Cassidy, newly appointed Director of the FBI, sat behind her desk, glaring at the reason Walter Skinner was cleaning out his office today, retiring, instead of taking over as one of her Deputy Directors.
Alex Krycek bore her dislike without reaction as he had everything else that had occurred since he had arrived. He was very aware of what Jana Cassidy thought him.
She had very much wanted to have Walter Skinner as part of her team. Even though she hadn't really been able to spare him, she had even given him time off to regroup after a harrowing year, fully expecting him to come back refreshed, ready to take on his new promotion.
Instead, he had sat right where Krycek was sitting, had handed her a brief letter indicating that he was retiring as soon as it could be arranged.
She was ready to counter any explanation for his choice except the one he had finally given her: he was in a relationship with a man. And then added to the surprise by informing her just whom he was involved with.
Immediately Cassidy concluded that somehow, someway, Krycek was blackmailing Walter Skinner. Even when Skinner laughed at her demand to know what Krycek had on him.
Then she tried to point out that there were still charges of some kind pending on the man. And at that point things became just a bit nasty. Skinner agreed that while there were questions that needed to be answered, immunities were being handed out right, left and centre. And that *all* there was in this particular case was a series of questions that needed to be answered.
That Krycek was quite willing to come in and answer. And before Cassidy could interrupt, Skinner had continued: Monday through Friday, from 10 to 4, with an hour off for lunch. For no more than three months.
She scoffed. There would be no such deal. Could be no such deal. And had to admit to herself that her surprise at the situation had led her to make a rather foolish mistake. Because Skinner had also come prepared to protect his lover.
Jana Cassidy could barely contain her distaste of the man sitting in her office, but knew better than to threaten him. Skinner had made it very clear that if certain information was not to suddenly appear on posting lists around the world, information that clearly told Cassidy that Skinner's loyalties were no longer the exclusive property of the FBI, Krycek was to be treated with at least minimal respect. Monday through Fridays, from 10 to 4, with an hour off for lunch. For no more than three months.
Krycek had been accompanied to Headquarters this morning by Skinner, his last as a member of the FBI. He had personally seen to the introduction between his lover and the new Director, reminding them both that he would be picking Krycek up at four o'clock. Precisely. Then he'd left them to finish clearing out the last of the paperwork associated with his retirement.
"Mr. Krycek, I must honestly tell you that if I had to chose between the information that you purport to bring us and having Walter Skinner as my Deputy Director, you would not be sitting here." She rose from behind her desk, an elegant woman who wore power easily and well.
"I wonder what hold you have over Walter Skinner, Mr. Krycek. Be assured, I will do whatever is in my power to find out. I will defuse it. And then," her voice a threat and a promise, "I will enjoy pinning your ass to the wall."
Krycek seemed unmoved by both. He simply reached into his suit jacket, pulled out an envelope which he silently handed to her. He watched her open it. Read it.
"Do you know what's in this?"
Krycek shook his head. "No. But since I'm beginning to know Walter's sense of humour, I can imagine."
Cassidy looked down once more at the note written in Skinner's distinctive hand: Jana. Butt out of my personal life. Walter.
She nodded to the door where two specially selected agents were waiting to escort Alex Krycek to the conference room that had been designated for his interrogation. They had just made it into the hallway when Special Agent Fox Mulder came tearing down, Special Agent Dana Scully close behind him.
"You fucking bastard!" Mulder screamed.
Ah, thought Jana Cassidy, very pleased that word had spread quickly through the building. She watched as Mulder went for Krycek.
No one was more surprised than Mulder to find himself clasped against a suited body, prothesis choking the breath out of him, the other hand exerting a great deal of painful pressure on his shoulder. He tried to free himself, only succeeded in causing the hold he was in to tighten. He quickly realized that he couldn't breathe, that this was not a Krycek he knew.
"I told you in Tunguska never to try that again, Mulder." The voice spoke calmly into his ear. The world around him was turning black.
"Let him go, Krycek!" Dana Scully had pulled out her weapon, had it aimed right at the back of Krycek's head.
"That's enough, all of you!" Jana Cassidy was livid. This was a fool's set-up. No one was going to win and there was far too much at stake. "Mr. Krycek. Release Agent Mulder." In a less authoritative voice, "I apologize for his behaviour."
Stunning all the participants in this melodrama.
"Agent Scully, put away your weapon. Mr. Krycek was justifiably defending himself. Now then. Mr. Krycek, if you will just accompany these agents? Thank you. Agents Mulder and Scully," she growled, "my office."
The upshot of that little scene was that no one challenged Alex Krycek for the rest of the time he came in for questioning. But that Dana Scully, on being released from the Director's office took it upon herself -- with some encouragement from the Director, albeit very understated -- to charge into Walter Skinner's office to challenge him on his retirement, his "relationship" with a known killer and traitor, to offer whatever services she could provide to freeing him from whatever hold Krycek had on him. Skinner waited till she had wound down, thanked her politely, though just a bit coldly, for her concern but indicated that it wasn't any of her business. He thanked her for the support she had given him over the years, wished her well and then indicated that he wished to finish packing up his office. Alone.
That evening, at the apartment, Skinner answered the door to find Fox Mulder.
Alex sat on the arm of the couch in the living room, seemingly interested in the non-patterned carpet, silently listening.
Mulder, pacing, gesturing, could barely contain his anger. "How could you do this, sir? You know what he is! The Consortium whore!
"Sir. We think, but we don't know for sure that the Elders and their thugs are defused. Maybe this is just their way of getting in on a source of information. Did you ever think that maybe you weren't supposed to resign, that you were supposed to keep on at the Bureau and that this... this... thing" he spat out "is just a plant?
"Damn it! I know he's good in bed, sir. He was good even when he was pretending to be new to the game, when he came on to me. He must be something else now that he's had all that experience. Has he shown you yet what he learned in Hong Kong?
"And have you considered what he did to get back in so tightly with the Consortium? The Brit didn't mentor him into those ranks out of the kindness of his heart.
"Shit, Skinner, he's not worth it. Can't you see what he is?"
Walter waited until Mulder ran out of steam. "Well," he shrugged, "since you have nothing new to add to the topic, Agent Mulder, you can say goodnight and leave."
Alex was taken aback. When a frustrated Mulder left, he looked up at Walter. "Did you really know all of that?"
Walter came to stand in front of Alex. He knew that right now Alex was probably half-way out the door. He had warned Walter that his past would show up, was expecting it to put an end to this relationship they had. He didn't expect this thing between them to work out, the ex-assassin and the FBI man.
Walter carefully sought the right words. In spite of his scarred exterior, visible proof that Alex often charged without thinking about his personal safety, he had discovered that Alex protected the core of himself behind thick walls. Walter had breached those walls, but knew that Alex expected one day to have that used against him.
He cupped Alex's face between gentle hands. "Does it matter, Alex? I told you, unless we have to deal with it, the past is just that, the past. And we both knew it wouldn't be smooth sailing. That there would be things to get used to." He bent and brushed Alex's lips with his. "We're not doing too badly. We haven't driven each other crazy." Brushed across cheekbones. "We're both rather neat. Both recap the toothpaste." Across closed eyes. "So far you haven't complained about my snoring."
Alex swallowed, moved his face into position for another kiss. "It's not *that* bad," he whispered.
"We've even managed to divide up household duties not too badly." Walter moved his lips down Alex's chin to his throat.
"Still haven't decided who's going to dust," Alex offered, raising his chin to allow Walter more leeway.
"If we don't move it, it won't need dusting." That hadn't worked with his mother when he was a kid: Alex, on the other hand, seemed to accept this as logical.
"Walter." Alex's tone was too serious for what Walter's mouth was doing to him. Walter looked up. "Maybe they're right. You shouldn't have retired. You'd make a good Deputy Director."
Walter rested his forehead against his lover's. "Alex. The job of Deputy Director means longer hours, more ass-kissing than any human being should have to do, a direct line to a bleeding ulcer, medication that leads to impotency and no, thank you. I had decided I wouldn't take the promotion before you showed up.
"I'm tired of the bullshit, Alex. Of reading reports I don't give a damn about. Of long involved meetings that go nowhere. I liked being a field man. I didn't like the desk. I took it because that's what you're supposed to want: the promotions. Well, I got them, and all they've given me is stress, heartburn and an ulcer."
Walter pulled Alex into his arms, held him close. "What I want is to go fishing when I feel like it, pick up some work here and there that interests me. And before you tell me that your presence in my life is a hindrance to that, allow me to tell you that I've already been approached to do some work for a think tank." He kissed Alex on the nose, got the start of a smile from him.
"The work is interesting, not stressful, and will allow us plenty of time to get use to each other's foibles." Alex's smile grew a bit stronger. "Now where was I? Oh, yeah." He went back to nuzzling Alex's throat while his hands found their way under the sweatshirt he wore.
Alex sighed. Gave in without further protest. He still couldn't believe this was going to continue but, for whatever time it would, he was going to sit back and enjoy it. He slipped his hand down the back of Walter's jeans and squeezed his ass. Let his body fall backward onto the couch, bringing Walter with him.
The beeper on Krycek's watch went off. By now the agents questioning him knew that they had two minutes left to tie up for the day. At four o'clock precisely, Krycek wished them a good weekend, got up and left.
Jana Cassidy looked up from the paper she was reading when her driver cursed out loud. Some idiot on a big motorcycle, weaving his way around the cars stalled in Friday afternoon traffic, had slipped into the space her driver had targeted. She checked her watch. Four o'clock. Damn. She had wanted to be back at Headquarters early enough to catch Krycek before he left. Their three months were almost over and she wanted to see if she could talk him into giving them more time. In spite of her initial reluctance, she had to admit that the information he was providing was proving to be integral to their investigations.
But it was four, and Krycek was known to be extremely punctual about his departure. He often came in earlier than ten, made no objections to working through lunch, but he was religious about leaving right on time.
"David. Let me out at the front, will you?"
Her driver grunted, pulled up next to the bike that was now also parked in the reserved space in front of Headquarters. Jana Cassidy gathered her papers, stuffed them into the briefcase her children had given her on her appointment and stepped out just in time to see Alex Krycek coming out of the building. Maybe she could catch him after all.
But then several things happened that delayed her.
Krycek was wearing his usual expressionless face when he came out. He seemed to be looking for something, must have found it because suddenly the mask dropped and his face -- there was no other word for it -- lit up.
Smiling, he quickened his way over to the motorcycle driver who was now removing his helmet. To a Walter Skinner Jana Cassidy barely recognized: in black jeans, white t-shirt and open black leather jacket. Who reached a large hand up to cup Krycek's face, pulled him down for a very public, rather passionate kiss.
It struck her that the two men where totally oblivious to where they were, to the people around them who either ignored them, smiled, or disapproved.
Skinner hung his helmet on one of the handlebars, reached up and undid Krycek's tie, all the while laughing at something Krcyek was telling him. He shoved the tie into the man's pocket while Krycek took off the sports coat, opened the rider's seat, took out a helmet, a black leather jacket of his own, stashed the coat.
He bent his head and Skinner fitted the helmet onto him. From where she stood, Cassidy recognized it as being similar to the one her grandson had just purchased: a very expensive version with built-in sound so that rider and driver could hear, talk to each other.
Krycek took his place behind Skinner, dropped the prosthetic hand onto Skinner's thighs, slipped his real hand under Skinner's t-shirt, running it provocatively over the man's chest. Skinner grabbed it, pulled it down to settle on his stomach. Turned on the engine and with a quick check, pulled out into the traffic.
"They're probably on their way to Mr. Skinner's cabin." Dana Scully was standing next to the Director.
Jana Cassidy looked almost stunned. "They're in love."
"Yes," agreed Scully. "Rather hard not to see that now."
"There's no blackmail involved." Cassidy turned to her agent for confirmation.
"No. None." Scully shrugged. "I didn't believe it myself. So I went to see Mr. Skinner's ex-wife, Sharon. I asked her to talk to him, to try and find out what Krycek had on him, for him to put an end to his career this way."
"And?" Cassidy began walking to the door, Scully accompanying her.
...Sharon had rung the bell to the apartment even though Walter had given her a key to it when he had moved in. Only Walter didn't answer.
"Hello. You must be Alex. I'm Sharon, Walter's ex-wife. Is he around?"
"No." The second wave, thought Alex. "Would you like to come in?"
"For a moment."
Sharon Morgan Skinner Hall was Walter's age, a tall, slim, elegant woman who managed an art gallery in the exclusive part of town. Alex waited patiently while she looked him over.
"So," she said, with a smile, "you're Walter's mid-life crisis. I've been hearing a great deal about you."
"From?" As if he couldn't guess.
"Dana Scully. She came to see me, to ask me to talk some sense into Walter. I'm always surprised that people can work with each other for years and not really know each other." She laughed suddenly. "I hope you won't mind me saying that this is so typical of Walter."
Alex responded with shifting his weight onto a hip, raising an eyebrow.
"Well," she explained, "different but sensible. I'd be far more worried if you were a 20 year old peroxide blond bimbo. It's obvious that you're not 20, and, knowing that Walter could never suffer fools, you're certainly no bimbo."
That got the hint of a smile from Alex, a relaxation of some of the tension she had felt in him since she had identified herself.
"Look, you're both old enough to know what you're doing. And it really isn't any of their business, though I don't expect that will stop them. Are you finding it hard going?"
"A bit." Alex found himself warming up to the woman. She was one of the first who hadn't reacted badly to this relationship.
"Are you going to run out on him?" Sharon watched as the question hit home. Waited quietly as Alex carefully considered his answer.
"No." Alex took a deep breath, felt a lot of the anxiety he had about all this finally settle. "No. I'm not going to run out on him."
She smiled, pleased with his answer. "Tell Walter I'll back him all the way." Besides, she owed him. He had backed her when her family and friends had been dubious over her choice of her new husband, an impoverished artist ten years her junior.
At the door she stopped, took a step to establishing a relationship with her ex's lover. "Alex. When his snoring gets to you, if you push him over right here," she poked him in the lower ribs on the left, "he usually rolls over and stops."
Alex grinned. "Thanks. I'll remember that."...
"...And she told me to mind my own business. That even if we didn't approve, we should have the common courtesy to leave them alone." Scully opened the door for her boss.
"It won't last," Cassidy told her. "They're too different."
But Scully wondered.