His single hand comes up to rake through his fine, dark hair and back, leaving it in tousled, sweaty peaks that subside slowly. His eyes are the deep, acrid green of dried limes when he finally raises his gaze to Mulder, gleaming through a thick fringe of lashes. "Because I *need* you," he says, bitterly, the 'need' strained with the discomfort of a word that knows it should be something else.
Mulder wishes he could be shocked at this, or even mildly surprised. He needs to feel that motion, to know that he has no culpability for Krycek's hopeless admission, so he can keep his soul clean and pure. He knows, though, that the knowledge of what binds them both has lain between them for years. He knows also that forcing Krycek to admit his weakness doesn't make Mulder any stronger. It makes him petty, and empty and a liar to his own truths.
He laughs without humour. "Yeah, well, I need you too," he says, while he stares at his own feet. Just because he has known all this time doesn't make Krycek automatically so perceptive. A sharply indrawn breath is all he hears, and he doesn't dare look up. "Sometimes, you don't get what you want." Such a banal cliché, but none the less true for it.
"This is just another game to you, isn't it," Krycek says, in a high, breathy voice that sounds as if he's been punched in the gut. "I'm just another head to fuck around with." He sounds angry, but when Mulder looks up he is still slumped on the bed, only a dull blush of red that has spread across those sharp Slavic cheekbones and the white knuckles of his hand show that he is experiencing any kind of strong emotion.
"Krycek, I'm sorry..." the admission is startled out of him, and he doesn't get a chance to find out what he is apologising for, as Krycek explodes into action, whirling up and off the bed to slam him against the wall, real arm locked across his throat, body pressing him implacably back into the plasterboard. His eyes blaze green fire; his white teeth gleam dully where his upper lip has drawn back in an unconscious snarl.
"No, Mulder, you're not sorry. Sorry is knowing that you've sacrificed your only chance at a career you've wanted ever since you can remember for a woman who's already dead. Sorry is having your fucking arm hacked off with a dull blade because you tried to do someone a favour and they kicked you in the teeth. *Sorry* is waking up one day with nothing in the world but your gun and your hatred and the blood on your hands and realising that *you* are the bogeyman. Sorry? You wouldn't know sorry if it bit you on the *ass* you selfish prick!" He is breathing hard, as if he's just run all the way from the Hoover building, and Mulder can feel tiny flecks of spittle on his jaw from the force of Krycek's delivery. Despite all his anger, though, the arm at Mulder's throat has remains a fetter only, not once coming close to cutting off his air. Gradually, Krycek's breathing slows, and his body relaxes a little, until he is almost leaning on Mulder. Mulder remains silent. There are no words to say - this is Krycek's revelation. Slowly, as if against his will, Krycek's head slowly dips 'till his forehead rests lightly on his own elbow, where it lies on Mulder's shoulder. "I just want..." he says softly, hopelessly, trailing off into silence.
Mulder brings up his right hand slowly, as if calming a spooked racehorse, and touches it gently to Krycek's wasted shoulder. Krycek even allows the contact for a millisecond. Then Mulder can almost physically feel Krycek draw up his defences, barricade his emotions behind the cold assassin face he wears so well, before he lifts his head and steps back. He seems unsurprised by Mulder's silence.
"What I want, you can't give me," he states, and only a faint flicker of his gaze, away and then back, reveals his uncertainty, the words that of a man desperately trying to convince himself.
"What do you want?" Mulder asks, as gently as he thinks Krycek can bear.
The other man looks away. "I want to be in charge. I want to stop running. I want to be *safe*." The deeper truth hovers between them.
Mulder knows that he is on a cusp, an edge, the precipice over a thousand meter drop onto white water and jagged rock. He steps forward, raising his hand again to rest feather-light on Krycek's jaw, and over the edge. "I can't give you those," he says, allowing no false promises between them now. His thumb rasps lightly along Krycek's stubbled jaw, in an unspoken offer of what he *can* give, if only for a little while. He moves closer still, and then Krycek breathes into him, swaying forward until they rest against each other, each point of contact a fire on his skin.
"Then I'll take what I can get," Krycek whispers against the hollow of Mulder's neck, lashes tickling Mulder's skin as his eyes close. Mulder sighs, a long, slow exhalation, a physical exorcism, and rests his chin on Krycek's shoulder. "Alex," he says, and then again, "Alex."
And then there is silence.
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