Title: LONG DISTANCE RUNNERS 2: THE GROUNDING
Summary: The "how-for" of the menage.
DISCLAIMER: These are the property of CC, Fox and 1013, and aren't we hoping that the last season proves to be the best.
Being the First Part
He'd planned his escape very carefully.
He'd had to. He hadn't the strength to do it differently.
It hadn't been easy.
He had needed to get his hands on some money. Which meant that he had to get to one of those banks where he had a safety deposit box. Fortunately, he'd stashed his fake ID's in the secret pocket of his belt, which he still had.
He didn't have the energy to walk, that meant a cab. So he "borrowed" some money from the drawer in Mulder's desk. Mulder hated loose change, always emptied his pockets into the drawer. There was enough in it for a cab ride to the bank and back.
So, he picked a day when both Mulder and Skinner were out, came back with new ID, cash (paid back his "loan"), and the gems he had put aside for a rainy day.
Now he had to pick a method of transport out of DC, a destination, a time when he could get away and get in a fair amount of distance before they discovered he was gone. Far enough that Skinner would know that this wasn't a set-up and that Mulder would get the message. Preferably a time when Mulder was out of town, Skinner
away for the day.
It came sooner rather than later.
The next day, Mulder was called to New York for a meeting with his editor to discuss some problem that had arisen with their legal department; he'd be gone at least two days. At the same time, Skinner had arranged to spend time with a couple of old Marine buddies who were in DC to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He'd be gone all day.
The cab arrived on time, got him to the airport. All he had to do was buy a ticket for the next flight out and hope it wasn't to Alaska. He still had trouble breathing and the doctor had warned him to avoid extremes in temperature.
He was standing in line at the ticket counter when the two FBI agents moved in, arrested him. Stupidly, he tried to resist, his energy level equal only to a token display. They cuffed his hands behind him, escorted him down to the Bureau car, shoved him into the back seat where they joined him, one on either side.
He didn't bother to ask why they were arresting him; they didn't deign to speak to him.
Still, it was a surprise when they pulled up not at Headquarters, not even at a police station, but back at the house.
Skinner opened the door, watched them push him into the foyer. They removed the cuffs while he thanked them. And they left.
Skinner looked over the returnee who now sat on the couch in the living room, head back, eyes closed, already exhausted from this little foray.
"I've been expecting this," he growled.
Krycek didn't react.
"Damn stupid thing to do, given your condition, Krycek. You're barely on your feet. Five weeks ago, you were at death's door. You want to tell me what the fuck possessed you to pull this stunt?" His voice had been getting progressively louder until he heard himself. He took a deep breath. Used it to get himself under control. "Fox is on his way back."
*That* got a reaction. Krycek turned his head to look at him. "Why?"
"Because, you fucking idiot, he's worried about you!"
"He wouldn't be if you hadn't told him." He closed his eyes. Damn! All he wanted to do right now was sleep. He was even weaker than he'd thought. "Besides, I thought you'd prefer it this way. I planned it out so that he couldn't possibly blame you for my going. How did you know?"
"I saw you going into the bank yesterday. When you should have been resting. It didn't take much to figure out you were going to run."
Just his luck, thought Krycek. "What about the Men in Black? They real?"
"Oh, yeah. A couple of guys who owed me a favour or two."
"You seem to be doing that a lot, Skinner. Pulling in favours for me." He leaned over, rested his elbow on his knee, stared at the carpet. "Why?" He wanted to get up, go find the bed, but he was afraid that if he stood up, his legs wouldn't hold him.
Skinner sat in the armchair across. "I told you," he spoke quietly, "he wants you here." He sighed. "Besides, Krycek, you're already dead on your feet and you haven't done anything. The word on your immunity is still too fresh to have made the rounds. You're a walking target, and I didn't put my neck on the line for you to go out and let them take pot shots at you. In your condition, you couldn't duck fast enough to avoid a water pistol."
He got up and went over to the now shivering man. "Look, I appreciate the fact that you want out of this situation. Let's face it, the only one that doesn't seem overly uncomfortable with it is Fox. Probably because, for one thing, he's so busy with this new book of his, what with their wanting to bring up the date of release. And probably because he doesn't have any difficulty with lo... caring for two people at the same time."
"You don't get it," whispered Krycek. He raised his head, tried to say something, but nothing came out. He shrugged his frustration. How could he explain it to Skinner when he couldn't put it into words himself?
Skinner slipped an arm under the man's shoulders. Got him up the stairs and into the bedroom. Krycek was asleep before he'd finished stripping him.
Mulder arrived, anxious, not fully understanding what had possessed Krycek. He checked in on the man, still sound asleep after four hours. With luck, he wouldn't have a relapse. He gently stroked the hair off his forehead, ostensibly checking for fever, actually seeking to reassure himself.
"He seems to be just sleeping, " he told Skinner, "doesn't seem to be any worse."
Skinner grunted, not offering more. He had promised Mulder that he would keep an eye on Krycek while he was in New York, and that's exactly what he had done.
"Did he tell you why?" Mulder worried.
"You'll have to ask him that yourself, Fox. He basically fell asleep just after he got back."
When questioned, Krycek merely shrugged. "I thought it was for the best."
And had to endure a long, rambling lecture on pneumonia, its root causes, its possible consequence: asthma, the historical significance of asthma and on and on. For the first time since he'd shown up, Krycek got a sympathetic shrug from Skinner.
Skinner was aware that Krycek was just biding his time.
Mulder was only aware that Krycek either didn't sleep well, or slept too much. He rarely came out of his bedroom during the day. Skinner discovered he spent most of the nights napping or reading in an armchair in the living room when he came down in the wee hours to feed his ulcer some milk.
Which is also how he discovered that Krycek had taken a second flit. He noticed the bedroom door was open, the bed empty so expected to find the man downstairs. But he didn't.
Cursing, he grabbed some of the clothes he kept in the mud room for working in the yard, donned them over his pyjamas bottom, shoved his feet into his work boots and went off in the car, Krycek hunting.
He found him sitting on the park bench about six blocks away, catching his breath. Skinner said nothing, just threw open the passenger door and waited patiently until Krycek slowly got to his feet and carefully made his way over to the car. Neither of them said a word.
The lights were on at the house. Mulder had gotten up, found himself alone in the house, Skinner's car gone. He was just getting ready to take off in his car when Skinner pulled up with Krycek.
Krycek walked into the house, didn't say a word to the obviously upset Mulder and just made his way up the stairs to his room.
Mulder looked to Skinner for an explanation, got a shrug, so he charged up the stairs, ready to confront Krycek on the issue.
He found the man lying on his back on the bed, his jacket off but still clothed.
For several minutes Mulder said nothing. Krycek, eyes closed, was obviously not asleep, but purposefully ignoring him. Mulder ran his hand through his already ruffled hair. He felt he had to do something: at this rate, Krycek was either going to get himself killed or die from a relapse.
"Why?" He sat on the side of the bed. "Alex? Please. Just tell me why?"
There was no response.
"Alex. Is it because you want to die? Because that's what you're setting yourself up for. Whether it's a bullet in the back or another bout of pneumonia, hell, either one will kill you." He let his hand brush over Krycek's.
Krycek flinched. Pulled his hand back.
The hurt was blatant in Mulder's eyes. "Why?"
Krycek rubbed his hand over his face, trying to get the cobwebs out of his brain, trying to find the words that would release him from this hell.
He pushed himself up into a semi-sitting position against the headboard. Looked at Mulder who was watching him with confused eyes. God! Krycek sighed, Mulder really didn't understand at all.
"Because," he spoke slowly, not just because he was already tired, but because he wanted to say this only once, "I've discovered I'm not that much of a masochist."
And knew from his reaction that Mulder still didn't understand.
In the hallway, standing just out of sight of the open door, Skinner understood.
"I don't get it." Mulder looked increasingly frustrated. "Alex, you're not making sense. We're not hurting you."
"Oh, God! Mulder." Krycek was too tired to even try and mask his expression. "Do you have any idea what it's like for me to be so close to you and not be able to touch you? To ask you to touch me? To... " his breathe hitched, he controlled it, continued. "To watch you touch him and him touch you. And know I can't.
"To listen to your door close at night and know that the two of you are having sex. And that I can't have you.
"To be here, in your lover's house, watching the two of you."
Mulder reached out to Krycek, but he pulled away. "No!" Then more calmly, "No."
He moved so that he sat on the side of the bed, carefully not touching the man who looked at him, in stunned disbelief.
"Mulder. Do you have any idea of how badly I need you? All my life, all I've been is... something to be used then thrown away. A piece of meat to sell for the night. A hole to plug for some john who's too tired of his hand. Shit, Spender, when he thought I was too much trouble, decided that if he couldn't blow me up, he would leave me as fodder for some alien. And the Brit, all he needed was someone to follow his orders, who would kill on demand. You think he left me with any kind of back-up when he got blown up?"
He paused to catch his breath. Silently damned the pneumonia that had made everything so difficult.
"Mulder, all my life I've been a thing. Until you touched me. You touched *me*. You made me feel things I didn't know I could feel. That I had never felt before."
He struggled hard to find the words. Mulder sat back, finally understanding.
"You made me feel... like I mattered. That I was important. Jesus, why the hell do you think I got you all that information? Most of the time I was putting my neck on the line. If they had caught me...
"But I did it because you would smile at me, hold me. Take me to your bed. Warm me. God, Mulder! Towards the end, the only time I ever felt warm was in your bed. In your arms.
"Shit, Mulder, you made me feel real. The best I'd ever been before you was... " he caught himself, "was someone's pastime between marital reconciliations."
In the hallway, Skinner winced.
"Mulder. Please. I can't stay here, by the warmth, and not be able to touch. Spender and his thugs were easier to endure...
"Please. If it's revenge you want, for Scully, for Skinner, for whatever else I've done to you, you've had it. It hurts." Whispered, voice raw. "It hurts so much to see you with him. To know I can never have that. I'd scream if they hadn't trained screaming out of me.
"But, please. I can't any more."
Krycek slipped off the bed, onto his knees, head bowed like a man waiting for execution.
"Please, let me go. I beg you, Mulder. Let me go."
Mulder was finding it hard to breathe. He had brought the man into his house, thinking he was saving him. Never once considered what effect it would have. Scully was right: he was a selfish bastard. What an idiot! He had actually thought things were going well. Hell, they were fine for Fox Mulder. Why shouldn't they be fine for everyone else?
He joined Krycek on the floor, kneeling next to the man. Knowing now it was going to hurt him, but feeling that somehow he had to offer at least something, he pulled Krycek into his arms, sat back on his heels, holding the exhausted man tightly.
In the doorway, Skinner saw his lover, face wet with tears, rub his cheek back and forth across the head of his rival. Krycek had initially resisted, but now had turned into the warmth of the man holding him.
Krycek clutched Mulder with whatever strength he had left. Mulder would let him leave now, he knew. But he wanted one final memory to take with him. One final time of being held. Like he was important. Like he was real.
Mulder became aware of Skinner's presence in the doorway. He looked up at him. Said nothing. Here was another person he had hurt badly with his thoughtlessness.
Skinner placed a small bottle of lube on the top of the dresser, dropped some condoms next to it. He held Mulder's astonished look, gave a slight nod. A very slight nod. Reached into the bedroom, pulled the door shut.
With Mulder and Krycek on one side. Himself on the other.
He walked slowly down the stairs, hesitated in the foyer.
Grabbed his jacket.
Left the house.
Mulder found him a couple of hours later on the same park bench Skinner had found Krycek earlier that night.
Skinner was just staring at the heavens, looking at the three-quarter moon. He didn't react when Mulder sat next to him, near but not touching.
Mulder finally broke the silence. "I never really knew."
Skinner resisted the urge to point out Mulder's habit of plunging into things without really considering the consequences.
"He needs me." Mulder was finding words difficult. He who never had trouble with words was floundering.
"I need you, too." Skinner tone belied the dilemma he had been struggling with over the past hours.
Mulder dropped his chin onto his chest, squeezed his eyes tightly. All he seemed to be doing tonight was hurt those who loved him. Whom he loved.
"I've been sitting here, thinking." Skinner continued, voice even, as if chairing one of those meetings of his at the Bureau. "Playing out several possible scenarios.
"I could insist that Krycek go. That you stay with me. But then, you'd always feel responsible for him. If anything happened to him, you wouldn't be able to live with the guilt and me. I don't give *us* much chance if that happened.
"I could be noble and let you go away with him. But, quite frankly, *I* don't think I could live without you. Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't go out and kill myself. But part of me would die. And I'd have to get used to the loneliness again."
He looked over at his lover, huddled into himself as to protect himself from blows. "He's right about that. When you touch someone, Fox, you have the ability, the gift, to touch the real them. And he's right to call it a warmth. Because that is *how* your touch makes us feel. Warm. It's hard to let that go.
"I suppose we could all go our separate ways. Take off for parts unknown, far away from each other. But that would be pretty much overkill. And I don't think it would work for any of us."
Skinner looked back at the setting moon. God! What time was it anyway? He took a deep breath, expelled it. He had taken a decision while sitting here, felt the possibility of it settle not well, but also not that badly in his stomach. His ulcer hadn't kicked up at this last scenario as much as he would have thought.
"I guess the best solution is for all three of us to stay together."
Mulder started, looked at him with astonishment. Wisely kept his mouth shut.
Skinner meet his expression with a rueful one of his own. "Who knows? It might work out. At the least we won't be any more miserable than we already are. And things are bound to get better."
Mulder took the plunge. "It would mean me sharing his bed. Sometimes," he hurried to add.
Skinner nodded. "Yes, I know. I thought of that. I have to admit I don't really like it, but I can understand why you would want to. Sex with Krycek," Skinner acknowledged with the beginning of an embarrassed expression, "is very different from what we have."
Mulder felt the tension leave his body. He made a small sound of agreement. "That almost sounds like you're speaking from experience," he chuckled. Then caught it back as the expression on Skinner's face deepened.
"I guess," and Skinner wondered how this was going to go over, "you could say *I* was his experience at being someone's pastime between reconciliations."
"Oh." Mulder's voice was very quiet.
The two men sat silently on the bench until the moon set.
******************End of Part One********************
Being the Second Part
The house was quiet. Not empty, but very quiet.
Its inhabitants, two only this weekend since Mulder was off again to New York, had been doing their best to avoid each other.
Krycek was sitting at the kitchen table, working on a printout from the office.
It was still all too new, this job, this getting up in the morning, being driven to a building (by Mulder, who insisted he still wasn't well enough to drive himself safely home after a day of work) where he had an office. Mulder's Lone Gunmen had suggested his name to one of their occasional contacts, a man looking for a "break-in" expert. And, just like that, on their recommendation, he had a job.
He was beginning to feel more like his old self again. He was rested, had put back some of the weight he had lost when on the run and sick. He even had Mulder in his bed. Discreetly, but often enough that he could tolerate that Mulder spent nights in Skinner's bed.
That's what he and Skinner did. They tolerated each other's presence in Mulder's life, because it was the only way Mulder was happy. And Mulder's happiness was paramount to both of them. Therefore, the tolerance.
Except now that Mulder was away, that tolerance was being put to a severe test. Mulder had left Friday morning. Friday, Krycek had spent at work, coming home with a colleague, one of those hopeful of being accepted on his team. Krycek found it delightfully strange, being in a position where someone actually wanted to suck up to him. He thanked the applicant for the lift, reminded himself that the guy was too loquacious for the job: he hadn't shut up once in the half hour drive to the house. Not good material for a break-in team.
He had eaten Friday supper in his bedroom. He turned on the small television he had in the room, made himself comfortable on the bed with his sandwich and a beer, watched some replay of a soccer game and hit the sack early. His energy level still quickly left him and he needed more sleep than he ever had in his life. Much as he hated to admit it, he *was* getting older.
Now, Saturday morning, he had come down early, made himself breakfast, enjoyed it and his newspaper, the New York TIMES, in the quiet. He rinsed his dishes, put them in the dishwasher, refilled his coffee from the thermos carafe and pulled out his briefcase, a gift from Mulder on his first day of work.
He was deep in the intricacies of hacking into a supposedly impenetrable program when Skinner entered the kitchen. Krycek looked up, gave a slight nod of acknowledgement, went back to work.
Skinner made his breakfast, cereal, and sat down at the table with his newspaper, the Washington POST.
As Skinner was eating his breakfast, reading his paper, Krycek gradually became aware that Skinner's things were taking up more and more space on the table. Instead of the empty bowl being stashed in the dishwasher, it was now taking up a corner by Krycek. Skinner, whose reading habits could only be classified as fastidious, was spread out, paper covering all of the table, even to flopping over onto Krycek's printout.
Skinner looked up from turning yet another page that seemed to be inching over Krycek's reading matter, met the other man's look with blatant disinterest, went back to the sports page.
Krycek said nothing. He nonchalantly gathered his stuff, put it back into the briefcase, got up making just enough noise to get Skinner's attention. And walked out of the room.
Some time later, Skinner entered the living room where Krycek had now set up his paperwork on the coffee table in front of the couch. This time Krycek didn't bother to acknowledge the other's presence.
Skinner made himself comfortable in his armchair, picked up the remote and turned on the television. To the Golf Channel.
Krcyek cocked an eyebrow up at the television. Golf? Skinner hated the game, was vehement in his disdain for the sport. He peeked over to the side, watched disbelievingly as Skinner appeared intently involved in the play as if it were the Super Bowl. Krycek went back to his reading. He had moved once. He didn't feel like moving again. He settled in.
But it was getting harder to ignore the commentary since Skinner kept on turning up and then turning down the sound. Then he began to channel surf, always coming back to the golf game where he would stop as if interested, and once more begin playing with the sound.
Krycek had enough. With sharp gestures, he packed up his material again, stacked his papers on top of the briefcase, picked them up. He stood up, waited till he had Skinner's full attention. Said nothing. Went out of the living room and back into the kitchen.
He was damned if he was going to spend the weekend in his bedroom. Fuck that! He paid his share of the expenses. He had full right to pick a place downstairs to do his work. It wasn't like Skinner didn't have a work space of his own. The third bedroom upstairs had been converted into his and Mulder's home office. And it wasn't as if *his* bedroom had been used for anything other than a bedroom before he had appeared on the scene.
He took back the kitchen table, purposefully spreading his things out all over it. From the living room, the sound of the golf game diminished and finally was silent.
An hour later, Krycek was feeling quite pleased with himself. He had found a way into the system that the planners had overlooked. Not a big entry point, but one big enough that someone with his skills would have found and put to use.
So he was feeling quite benevolent when Skinner came in to open the fridge door, pull out a jar of purple grape juice. Skinner poured himself a glass, recapped the jar, put it back into the fridge. Krycek was jotting down notes on his papers, moving back and forth between pages.
When, suddenly, Skinner tripped and the glass of purple grape juice went spilling over.
All over Krycek's papers.
For a moment, Krycek couldn't believe the purple stain spreading across his morning's work. He looked up in time to get an insincere shrug of apology from Skinner. Who then placed the now empty glass on the counter by the sink. And began walking out.
So, the shoulder that caught Skinner dead centre in the back came as a complete surprise.
He pitched forward, hitting the hallway floor hard. With the additional dead weight of Krycek following him down, landing heavily on him. He was winded long enough for Krycek to begin picking himself up. But not so long that he wasn't able to grab Krycek's leg before the man could get his weight onto it. He pulled sharply. Now it was Krycek's turn to pitch forward. He wasn't wearing his prosthesis so he really had no way of breaking his fall. He, too, landed hard.
But Skinner had forgotten, or maybe hadn't really noticed, that Krycek was nowhere near the invalid Mulder still thought he was. Before he had time to get to his feet, Krycek had twisted, pulling his leg back to kick Skinner hard enough in the chest for the man to land heavily on his butt, winded.
Then, of course, it was a free-for-all.
Fists, knees, elbows all met the other's body in a release of anger and frustration that had been building up for some time. For some uncontested reason, no blows were directed to the other's face. Neck down, and it was open season.
The two were a unit, rolling over the floor of the hallway, into the living room. Each aiming to cause as much damage to the other while protecting his own body. Apart from the grunts, the loud exhalations of breath, they fought silently.
Eventually, faster than he would have liked to admit, Krycek's disabilities made themselves felt. He had no arm to protect his left side from Skinner's bruising punches. And his breathing was still affected by his recent near-death experience with pneumonia.
He lay caught, Skinner's greater size and weight pinning him to the floor, the man's hands holding down on his left shoulder, his right wrist.
Skinner waited for the man to concede in some way, to show he was beaten. Krycek tried to buck Skinner off him. Skinner grinned a superior grin when the man failed. Except...
Except that the interplay had had other effects on both their bodies. When Krycek had jerked his hips in hope of toppling Skinner over, he realized that there was something hard between both their bodies. And not just on his part. Skinner became aware of the fact at about the same instant.
This time Krycek's face bore the smirk. He remembered a little move that Skinner used to like an awful lot when they had had their encounters. Slowly, eyes still holding Skinner's, Krycek raised his hips, twisted them in a rubbing motion that got the same response it had long ago.
Skinner's grin grew less superior. Turned into more of a snarl when Krycek repeated the action. Two could play at that game. He waited for the gesture to end, and then, very slowly, he moved his body, rubbing his groin *hard*, the way he remembered Krycek liked it, against him.
Hard and rough. What had drawn him back to the man every time he had sworn he would avoid him. What, Skinner had to admit to himself, probably drew Mulder to him. That sex with Krycek was raw, with very little time for the subtle niceties, the drawing out that existed in the bed they shared.
Then, as now, right here in the entry of the living room, sex between Krycek and Skinner was a thing of lust to be satisfied. As quickly as possible. In the most direct manner as possible.
Foreplay was minimal: more direct focus on groin, on known erogenous zones - Krycek's nipples, Skinner's abdomen. No gentle touching. No slow arousal. Pants and shorts were pulled down; tops, pushed out of the way. Teeth, part of the ritual they had once established, were used heedlessly, Mulder now forgotten. Not sighs of pleasure but grunts of intensity.
The only lube they used was spit mixed with pre-come. The only preparation was a saliva-wet thumb that Skinner pressed into Krycek when he had flipped him over into position.
Krycek raised his head, face feral when Skinner pushed his way into his body. For just a moment, Skinner paused. Each took a breath, waiting a couple of heart beats to accustom himself to the situation.
Krycek was the first to move, pulling his hips forward enough for Skinner's cock to slip back. Skinner grabbed Krycek's hips, held them tightly and took up the measured rhythm that would bring him to orgasm. Once he had it, he left one hand on Krycek's hips for balance, used the other to set up a counter-rhythm on the man's cock.
Each was intent on his own sensations, intent on making the other come first. An old game between them, newly restarted.
They lay collapsed, Skinner on Krycek. Eventually Skinner's weight was too much for the poor condition of Krycek's lungs: he began coughing.
Skinner pulled away from him, moved first to his knees, then to his feet. He held his jeans up in his hand as he went into the downstairs bathroom to clean up. He brought back a warm, wet cloth with him, handed it to Krycek who now lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling, focusing on controlling his breathing. Krycek cleaned himself, used the cloth to wipe his come off the floor.
He sat up, put his clothes back into order, stood up.
He found Skinner in the kitchen, sponging up the purple stain on the floor and table. He had spread Krycek's papers over the counter, so they could dry. Krycek went and found the bleach in the laundry room, wet a rag and rubbed the faint purple markings off the floor. When he was done, he tossed the rag into the garbage bin.
Skinner prepared a fresh pot of coffee, watched Krycek find some clean paper and begin jotting down the notes he could barely make out on the printout.
Skinner poured two cups of coffee, handed one to Krycek, went into the living room.
Krycek took his coffee, sat down, pulled another printout from his briefcase and started working on it to the faint sound of the Pre-game show.