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By The Wall
By Scribe

The Last Word
by Matthew Arnold

Creep into thy narrow bed,
Creep, and let no more be said!
Vain thy onset! all stands fast.
Thou thyself must break at last.

Let the long contention cease!
Geese are swans, and swans are geese.
Let them have it how they will!
Thou art tired: best be still.

They out-talked thee, hissed thee, tore thee?
Better men fared thus before thee;
Fired their ringing shot and passed,
Hotly charged - and sank at last.

Charge once more, then, and be dumb!
Let the victors, when they come,
When the forts of folly fall,
Find thy body by the wall!


I was waiting for him at his apartment when he returned, bruised and bloody. Oh, not PHYSICALLY, though that's happened often enough in his life. I've even been the author of his pain, from time to time. No, this time the beating had been spiritual. It had been done with words, disbelief, and contempt rather than fists and boots.

I don't know why he keeps trying. I know I would have given up long ago. If the ignorant bastards want to put their heads in the sand and stand there with their butts in the air, WAITING for a cosmic reaming, it's none of MY business. He doesn't see it that way. Don Quixote reincarnate, that's my Mulder. Except his windmills are giants, instead of the other way around.

I knew he was going to try once again to convince some of the idiots in power of what was actually going on in our sweet little democracy. That's why I was waiting here when he returned. I knew he would need me, even if he didn't know it.

Now, Mulder is a bit of an expert when it comes to being depressed. My God, the man has made it an art form. But when he came through the door, I could see that he was really outdoing himself this time. All the classic symptoms were there: hair in the eyes, those same hazel eyes dim.

He wasn't surprised to see me. He's beginning to get used to finding me in his most private sanctum. He acknowledged me with a tired nod. "Krycek."

I tilted my head in return greeting. "Fox."

He winced. "Don't call me that."

"Oh, we are touchy tonight."

"They wouldn't listen."

"No? Really?"

"Smart ass."

The jacket lands carelessly on the sofa, followed by the tie. He's gotten more casual when he's around me now. I guess having someone suck your dick will do that for you. He's still trying to deny that there's any real relationship between us. That's all right. I know.

I offer him the beer I got out of the refrigerator when I saw his car pull up. That gives him pause. He knows he didn't have any when he left, so now I'm bringing groceries. He accepts it, though. That's the spirit. Never turn down a free beer. And he even drinks it without sniffing it suspiciously to see if I drugged it. I didn't. This time.

"Why do you keep doing it, Mulder?" I have to ask the question. I'm pretty sure of the answer: it's just not in his nature to give up. He scowls at the beer. Not at me, I notice. Improvement, always improvement.

"They have to listen sometime."

"No, they don't. You know that." I poke his chest. "Here."

He doesn't punch me, doesn't swat at my hand, doesn't even pull away. "I have to keep trying." He rolls the cool glass of the bottle across his forehead, sighing. "Maybe I can get through, if I try just a little harder."

I take away the bottle, and he watches as I finish the last swallow, then set it aside. I push the hair up off his cool, damp brow and say, "Creep into thy narrow bed, Creep, and let no more be said! Vain thy onset! all stands fast. Thou thyself must break at last." He frowns, and again I touch him, smoothing the wrinkles from his forehead with my fingertips. "Matthew Arnold." I take his hand and lead him to the bedroom. "Let the long contention cease."

He's shaking his head, but he follows. "Geese are swans, and swans are geese," he mutters, bitter irony in his tone.

By the bed, I start to strip him, and he gives himself up to my ministrations, only moving enough to allow me to remove each garment. When he's naked, I run my hands over his chest in a brief, but tender caress, then start on my own clothes. He watches as I take off my shirt, and begin to unfasten my pants. "But Alex, if I can convince just one of them..."

I lay a finger against his lips, stilling them, shaking my head. We won't think about this now. Now is for us. "Let them have it how they will. Thou art tired: best be still." And, hallelujah, he smiles faintly, that beautiful mouth curving under my touch.

When I am naked, he moves into my arms. For a long moment I just hold him, drinking in his warmth and life. For so long I felt cold and dead, but now I have this. I pull him down onto the bed, and we begin to make love.

I've found that Mulder can be a generous lover, when he's allowed to be. But tonight I don't really let him do anything. I'm the one who moves, strokes, caresses, kisses, licks, sucks. He's been hurt today, and I want to take his mind away from the sting, at least for a little while.

A little while. That's all it can be, I know. Just this little space while he arches beneath me, fully accepting, letting me into his very core, holding me together by his very existence. Just these few minutes while we are joined in heart as well as in flesh.

The time is coming when it will last longer. It will last past the long, slow cooling of sweat on sated bodies, past the sweet, contented sleep that comes just after. That is what I am working toward: the day when the look of peace stays in his eyes when the morning comes.

When we are done, I hold him. He curls beside me, face against my chest, his warm breath fanning one slightly bruised nipple (my, he was almost desperate tonight). It will be a little time before I sleep. These times are when I do the best thinking about this thing between Mulder and myself.

I stroke his soft hair, gently so as not to awaken him, and I whisper, "They out-talked thee, hissed thee, tore thee? Better men fared thus before thee. Fired their ringing shot and passed, Hotly charged-and sank at last." I know. I participated in the destruction of such men. I know how the blind system works, shouting down those who voice truths they'd rather not hear.

None have succeeded. He knows that, in his heart, but it won't stop him. He'll keep 'fighting the good fight' till he wins, or it kills him. How sad that it is the second possibility that is most likely to happen.

"Charge once more, and then be dumb." Keep trying, Fox. I love you, you hard-headed, persistent bastard. Eventually, they will see that you are right, though it may not be until they are staring their own destruction in the face. "Let the victors, when they come, when the forts of folly fall, find thy body by the wall!"

That's how it will be, won't it, Mulder? If others do not rally to your cause, you'll go down fighting, alone. Because that's what you have to do, because you can't do any less.

I bend and touch my mouth to his passion-bruised lips one last time before letting myself drift off to sleep. I've made a decision that wasn't really a decision at all. It was more a simple acceptance of how things had to be.

When they find him by the wall, either physically, or metaphorically, he won't be alone.

I'll be there beside him.