Challenges of Everyday Life 16
Keep the Home Fires Burning

Orithain

March 2000

Disclaimer: We all know that they don't belong to me, and I promise to put them back when I'm done. The X-Files, Mulder, Krycek et al. belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. Just let me win the lottery though....

Even wrapped in blankets that Sarah had brought and pleasantly full of her homemade beef barley soup, Alex was still chilled. He squirmed closer to Fox, worming his way under the other man's arm, but he'd spent so long out in the rain that he couldn't seem to get warm. Not that he regretted a single moment. He'd loved being out in the rain alone, and it had only gotten better when Fox had joined him. There had been something wild and primitive about their joining while the rain beat down upon them, and he was going to treasure that memory for a long time.

But right now he just wanted to be warm.

He shivered miserably, huddling still closer to Fox, and his eyes fell on the fireplace only a few feet away. His face lit up, and he stood up and headed for the perfectly laid fire, intending to light it. Mulder watched him calmly until he realized what Alex was doing, then he yelped, "No!"

Alex jumped, losing his blanket as he did. He tripped over it and nearly fell headlong into the fireplace, but Sarah stopped him in midair. He hovered there in defiance of gravity for a moment before he settled gently back onto his feet. As soon as he was firmly balanced, he turned a fulminating glare on Fox.

"What the hell was that about? You nearly killed me!"

Fox was already on his feet and reaching for Alex, grabbing him and yanking him into a fierce embrace. "Oh my God, Alex, I'm sorry! I never meant to hurt you! I didn't expect you to jump like that. It's just that, well, you know. I had to stop you, you understand, don't you? It was almost too late, and that would have been awful, and...."

Alex shook him sharply. "Fox, stop it! You're babbling." And starting to scare me.

Fox looked at him out of huge hazel eyes, lower lip trembling, and Alex groaned. He sank back onto the sofa, drawing Mulder down with him, and wrapped his arms around his trembling lover. He got really worried when Fox simply tucked his head under his chin and huddled close. That was not Mulder's usual method of dealing with problems. Running headlong into situations that would make an angel quake was more his style than burying his head in the sand and hiding from life.

"Fox, talk to me. Tell me what's wrong," he begged.

Mulder took a deep breath and sat up straight, noticing that Alex was shivering again. He leaned down and grabbed Alex's blanket, wrapping it around the younger man. He could also see that the thermostat had been turned up. Sarah was watching over them as usual. He sighed, knowing he was avoiding answering Alex, and turned to face his worried lover.

"Surely in all the files the Consortium has on me, someone noticed that I'm afraid of fire? Diana certainly knew. She was completely pissed off when her attempt to set up a romantic evening ended with me flipping out and running out into the snow. It pretty much ruined the mood."

Alex looked surprised. "Amazing as it is, I don't think she told anyone. I've never seen any reference to it. I'm sorry, babe, I didn't know, or I never would have tried to light a fire."

Mulder laughed miserably. "Shit, Alex, you shouldn't have to apologize for wanting to light a fire in a perfectly functional fireplace. People have been using it for centuries. Literally. You don't think I'd like to find out what the mystique is about making love in front of a roaring fire? Everyone else talks about how the ruddy light of the flames gilds their lover or something. I scream hysterically and curl up into a fetal position." He groaned, his head dropping back against the sofa, and he stared blindly at the ceiling.

"Fox! You've had to deal with a lot of my baggage, so I think I can handle one little quirk." Alex stroked the soft brown hair, relieved when one of Fox's hands clasped his free one.

Mulder eyed him wryly. "'One little quirk', Alex? I can't even stand to look at a lit match."

"Have you always had this fear of fire, or was there a specific cause?"

"Oh, there was a cause all right," Mulder laughed bitterly.

"Would you tell me about it?" Alex asked hesitantly.

Mulder turned into Alex's arms, needing the familiar comfort of his embrace. They stretched out along the couch, Mulder half on top of Krycek, his head pillowed on the younger man's chest.

"I was just a kid," Mulder began, "almost thirteen years old, when my friend Harry's house burned down. I was sleeping over that night, and I was scared to death when his mom burst into the room in the middle of the night and pulled us out of bed. For a minute I thought it was them, come to take me too.

"But it was a fire in the house. They found out later it was faulty wiring, but at the time, all I knew was that something awful was happening at night again. I guess that made it worse." He shrugged as if it was no big deal, but Alex could feel the tremors coursing through his body.

"Anyway, we all got out fine, and the firemen managed to get the fire under control before too much damage was done. By the time it was completely extinguished, it was after dawn, and Mr. and Mrs. Turner were exhausted. Even though the fire had been stopped before very much was burned, there was a lot of smoke and water damage, and they couldn't sleep there. My parents offered them a room, and Harry and I were left to keep an eye on the house to make sure it wasn't vandalized."

"The adults left two kids in a house in that condition, in their pajamas?" Alex demanded in disbelief.

"What? Oh. No, my mom had brought over some of my clothes for both of us, and the yard was completely untouched. We were supposed to play there while the Turners got a couple hours of sleep. I'm sure they were in shock.

"So, anyway, we were playing in the backyard when we heard something inside the house. We ran over to the window to look inside, and sure enough, there was a man inside. We both started to yell, and the guy jumped and started to run away. He tripped over something, a table I think, and fell down. I'm not sure what happened next, but somehow the fire flared up again - probably another faulty circuit or something that was jarred when he fell. It must have started right behind him, right where he was leaning against the wall, because his jacket caught fire before he realized. He was still tangled up in whatever it was he tripped over, and I guess he panicked. He started flailing around and, of course, the flames spread. He burned to death right there in front of us." Fox shuddered and had to stop, the memories overwhelming him.

Alex gasped and held him tightly, feeling sick as he imagined how horrific that must have been. That would traumatize an adult, never mind an impressionable twelve-year-old boy who had already had his sister torn away from him. He stroked Fox's back until the shudders slowly ceased, then just held him lovingly.

"God, baby, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to make you remember something so awful. I'll be more careful now that I know. I swear I'll never light a fire around you," Alex vowed, wanting to help Mulder in some way.

"But I don't want you to have to do that!" Mulder nearly wailed in frustration. "I don't want to be afraid. How stupid is it to be scared of a match?"

Alex frowned, once again rubbing Mulder's back soothingly. "Do you really mean that? I mean, you could go your whole life without having to do anything about it. Hell, almost no one has ever even noticed your fear."

"Doesn't mean it's not there. And I'd really like to make love to you in front of a fireplace sometime. Maybe on a bearskin rug," Mulder grinned. "It sounds wonderfully cliched. Besides, any excuse to get you naked is a good thing in my book." He laughed softly, the memories once again tucked away, out of his conscious mind.

Alex chuckled in turn. "You don't need a fire to get me naked, Foxy. In case you haven't noticed, aside from a couple of blankets, we are naked, and there's not a fire to be seen."

Fox stroked a hand along the chest beneath him. "Oh, I noticed, all right." He nuzzled against a nipple, teasing it to hardness. "But without that fire, it's chilly and we need the blankets. I really want to get over this," he sighed in exasperation.

Alex eyed him closely. "Okay, then. Do you trust me, Fox?"

"Of course I do!" Absolutely no hesitation.

"And you know I would never hurt you?"

Mulder nodded.

"Then come over here with me," Alex asked, holding onto Mulder's hand as he slid to the floor and moved a little closer to the fireplace.

Realizing what Alex had in mind, Mulder drew in a deep, shaky breath but followed without protest. Alex shed the blanket draped around him and stretched out flat on his back, then tugged on Mulder's hand to pull him down on top of himself. Fox dropped his blanket as well, wanting to feel nothing but Alex against his skin. He flinched when a small fire suddenly sprang up in the hearth, but Alex squirming under him distracted him.

He had to try twice before he managed to get a word out, but he was proud of the steadiness of his voice when he did. "Unless you've suddenly developed pyrokinetic powers, I think we have an audience."

Alex chuckled. "As usual."

"You're a dirty old woman, Sarah Mann," Fox called.

Sarah faded into visibility, comfortably seated on the corner of the hearthstone. "So what's your point?" she asked, laughing.

Mulder bit the inside of his cheek to hold back his own laughter. "Don't you have anything better to do?" he asked sternly.

Sarah's eyebrows rose almost to her hairline. "Have you looked in a mirror lately?"

Fox blushed, and Alex howled with laughter.

"Don't let me interrupt you though. Carry on, boys," Sarah said airily, waving a hand at them.

Alex grinned. "Don't mind if I do." He was grateful to Sarah for that bit of by-play, which had distracted Fox from the fire. He intended to see if he couldn't distract Mulder a lot more. He reached up, pushing Fox's bangs out of his eyes. He loved them, and he'd pouted at Mulder until the older man had agreed to let them grow again. He might not have the advantage of Fox's gorgeous mouth, but he could manage a great pout when he was inspired. A sudden nip at his chin refocused his attention on Fox.

"Hey, remember me?" Fox pouted.

Alex chuckled, raising his head to lick quickly at Mulder's lips. "I was thinking about you, you vain man."

"Oh, well, that's all right then." Mulder grinned. "But I'd much rather you did something about it." His eyes darted over to the fire then resolutely focused on Alex's face.

"I think I can handle that," Alex murmured. He'd noticed that quick glance at the flames, and he was determined that Fox wouldn't be thinking of anything but him by the time he was done. It would take a long time to get him over his fear of fire, but Alex was sure that he could at least keep it from being the center of his attention.

With that in mind, his hands slid down Mulder's back to cup his ass, curving around the firm globes to pull him closer. Mulder's eyes slid half closed as he felt his waking cock press against Alex's hardness, and he squirmed slightly. A tiny smile curved the corners of Alex's mouth, and he allowed his fingertips to fall between Fox's cheeks, lightly grazing the sensitive ring of muscle. He heard Mulder's gasp, and he arched his back off the floor slightly, pressing harder against the older man. As he sank flat again, he raised one hand to Fox's head, tangling his fingers in the silky hair, and pulled him into a kiss.

Their tongues rubbed together as frantically as their groins, both once again desperate for each other despite their recent lovemaking in the orchard. Their mouths parted only briefly to gasp in air, then resealed, separating again to seek a new position. Mulder's hands were clenched on Alex's upper arms, seeking to anchor himself as he was lost in sensation. Intoxicating as the contact was, however, it wasn't enough for either of them, and Fox let his head fall to Alex's shoulder, whimpering softly.

"Sit up, Foxy," Alex urged, and when he did, Alex's eyes played over him as hotly as the heat of the flames behind him. The fire cast a ruddy light over him, and to the man beneath him, Fox looked like a bronze sculpture, every muscle sharply delineated by shadow. He was beautiful.

Nor was Alex any less so to Fox. Though he remained tensely aware of the fire mere inches away, he wasn't proof against the sight of Alex in firelight, light and shadows, even his eyes appearing pools of darkness, fey in the chancy light. Mulder had often teased Alex about being some being out of Faerie, stroking his slightly pointed ears as evidence, and looking at the younger man now, for an instant, he wondered if he hadn't been more right than he knew.

Then Alex moved under him, and all thought flew out of his head, leaving only sensation and want. His eyes focused on Alex's, and he gasped once more at the heat he saw there. Fox felt Alex's erection nestled between his cheeks, but he wanted more. He wanted to feel Alex as deep inside him as he had been inside Alex earlier.

Alex saw the lust in Mulder's eyes, and he bit his lip to hold back a wanton moan. Then he remembered that their clothes had been left in the kitchen, along with the lube in a jacket pocket, and he groaned in dismay. Suddenly, a tube appeared before him, floating above his face, and he snatched at it, grateful once again for Sarah and her propensity for watching them. He heard Fox chuckle and thank her, but his entire attention was focused on applying the gel where it was needed.

Mulder shivered slightly, whether with increased arousal at Alex's touch or from the coolness of the gel Alex neither knew nor cared. He knew that Fox was ready for him, and he was more than ready as well. Once they were both slicked, he grasped his cock in his fist and held it steady.

"Sit on me," he rasped, eyes once again fixed on Fox's, and he saw the rush of heat in the other's gaze.

Mulder rose slightly and shifted back, then lowered himself so that Alex's cock was pressing against his entrance. He shifted his hips the minutest fraction from side to side, teasing them both with the sensation. He waited until Alex snarled at him, frustration plain on his face, then pushed down, taking Alex inside himself, wrenching hoarse groans of pleasure from each of them. He rode Alex, rising and falling, slowly at first, then with gathering speed as the pleasure grew beyond what he could bear. His hand fell to his neglected erection, pulling it, drawing himself ever closer to climax, then Alex's hand covered his, urging him to move faster.

"Come for me, Foxy," Alex urged harshly, fighting to hold back his own orgasm. "Let me see you come, feel you..."

Mulder moaned, not proof against the sound of Alex's voice, and he cried his name as he came, his body's spasms driving Alex over the edge at almost the same instant, pleasure raging through both men to leave them spent and satiated in the aftermath.

Long minutes later, they lay on their sides, Alex spooned behind Fox, facing the now blazing fire. Mulder opened his eyes and looked at the flames, then rolled over to face Alex, unwilling to face the fire but not running away from it either. Alex shifted onto his back, pulling Mulder closer, and they fell asleep there, arms 'round one another, as a blanket floated over from where they'd dropped it and covered them.

END

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