Disclaimers: CC and 1013 own them, much as I wish I did.

Warm, humid air surrounded Mulder the moment the heavy door shut behind him. Bits of icy snow and sleet ticked against the panes of glass that made up the walls and ceiling of the greenhouse, the noise a soft, but sharp, scratching against the special agent's ears. Lush greenery filled the space before him, spilling over the boundaries of the path to trail tendrils along the brickwork as if the foliage was in search of sustenance in the form of a passing visitor.

The jungle-like atmosphere wrapped around Mulder like a wet towel, making breathing difficult and the loss of his winter coat an imperative. Stripping off his gloves, Mulder stuffed them in his jacket pockets, then unzipped his ski jacket, exhaling in relief as he immediately felt somewhat cooler. Reaching up to rake a hand through his hair, he grimaced as bits of half-melted snow chilled his fingers.

The weather in Washington had been unseasonably cold this winter, with temperatures staying below freezing with enough regularity to prevent any of the snow that had fallen over the past month from melting. Traffic, never a positive note about the city to begin with, had degenerated into meaningless snarls at each new snowfall, and ice-slick sidewalks proved treacherous for pedestrians.

Given the meteorological chaos going on around him, Mulder had to wonder just why he had agreed to risk the hazards of DC traffic by going out tonight. The answer, of course, was simple: information. The anonymous caller had offered just enough in the way of corroboration during the course of his message to pique Mulder's interest, so here he was, wandering through a mostly deserted arboretum after sundown in search of his unknown informant.

If Scully had known about this, she would have boxed his ears, but then she didn't know, so his appendages were safe - hopefully. In all reality, he wondered just why he'd decided to come here and talk to the informant. Lately even the promise of cold, hard facts regarding the proof of alien life didn't seem to raise any interest in him.

It all stemmed from the missing time. Six months of his life that were gone, vanished into a bright light in the woods of Oregon that was the last thing that Mulder remembered until...

A lumpy mattress beneath him.

A mass-produced print on the peeling paint of a dirty beige wall.

A set of much-laundered sheets and a sun-faded bedspread covering him.

A face visible only for a moment before unconsciousness claimed him again. Identification eluding him, darting in and out of the edges of his thoughts, teasing him with recognition before fading away again.

Scully. Skinner. Hospital. Washington.

Two months of recovery time before they let him go back to work. Two months of near madness-inducing boredom because Scully had conspired to keep all information about anything remotely resembling an X-file away from him.

Damn woman had obviously learned way too much about being sneaky and obstinate; from whom, Mulder had no idea.

With nothing else to do, Mulder had spent his time trying to piece together what fragments of memories he did have of the time he had been missing. The gaps in his memory were utterly frustrating. To be able to remember the most inane bit of minutia regarding some aspects of a long ago case, but to be unable to recall the least iota of information about his own life... It fit in with what he knew of abductions, but that didn't make the fact any easier to deal with.

The fact that he was being coddled by both his partner and his boss didn't sit any better with Mulder then the missing time in his life did. Hell, Scully's baby was due any day now, and he was still treated as if he was more delicate then she was.

Sighing, Mulder headed deeper into the greenery, ears tuned for any foreign sounds, shadowed eyes sweeping the area around him for a sign of his supposed informant.

"Think fast, Mulder."

Reflex had Mulder turning, a hand raised to catch the object sailing toward his face. The round, red object smacked into his palm, and it took him a second to recognize it for what it was. An apple.

"Good catch. Guess the rumors of your death were exaggerated."

Mulder lifted his gaze from the fruit and stared at the person who had thrown it. He was surprised by his response, or his lack of one. Always before, the sight of Alex Krycek had filled Mulder with a killing rage. One that he believed was well deserved considering all the things the traitorous bastard had done.

This time, however, Mulder couldn't even dredge up enough energy to snarl at the other man. "What?"

"Aren't you going to take a bite?"

Mulder could have sworn that a corner of Krycek's lips curled in a grin, but it vanished before he could be certain. "Why? Is it laced with something? No thanks. I've got enough problems right now without adding a drug trip on top of them."

He tossed the apple back to the younger man, who caught it with his right hand and dusted it off on his unnaturally still left one. Mulder found his gaze drawn to the stiff angle of the leather clad appendage and, for the first time, wondered how Krycek had managed to stay in his line of work, crippled as he was.

As if aware of his thoughts, Krycek shrugged his shoulders and held the apple up, inspecting it. "Sorry to disappoint you, Mulder, but it's just an innocent piece of fruit, see?" To demonstrate, he took a bite, his teeth crunching through the thin skin, sending rivulets of juice dripping to the ground between his booted feet.

"Sure you don't want some?" His tone was a husky seduction and Mulder had the fleeting thought that this was what the snake must have sounded like when it tempted Eve. Given the setting, he supposed it was a fitting analogy.

"What I want isto know why you contacted me. What? Being King Rat not good enough any longer?"

"You know, for someone who needs my help, you seem awfully reluctant to admit it." Krycek took another bite of the apple then licked his lips, obviously enjoying Mulder's discomfiture. "I contacted you for exactly the reason I said I did. You want information; I have it. Sometimes being King Rat does have advantages."

"And what information is that?"

"Six months, Mulder. You ever wonder what happened?"

Against his will, Mulder took a step toward Krycek, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. "How the hell would you know that?"

"Doesn't look like you've done too well since you've been back, either. Those clothes look they're about to fall off of you. Isn't Scully the angel making you eat?"

"What do you care?" Krycek's mysterious smile caused Mulder to frown.

"Call me altruistic." Mulder's harsh bark of laughter drew another smile from the double agent. "Glad I amuse you."

"That's hardly the word I'd use." Mulder watched as Krycek bit into the apple again, revealing more of the white flesh. The sweet tang of the juice reached his nostrils, and he inhaled deeply.

"Oh? What word would you use then?" As Krycek spoke, he moved closer, stopping when Mulder was backed against the trunk of a tropical palm that survived the climate only due to the hothouse's protection.

"Self-serving. Traitorous. Murdering." Even as he spoke the words, Mulder could tell they lacked their usual vitriol. He was simply too tired to hate Krycek as he should.

Krycek chuckled. "That's three words. Sure you don't want some? It's almost gone."

He held up the apple again, and this time Mulder took it. The contrast of the bright red skin and white pulp held his gaze for what seemed like centuries. He felt Krycek looking at him and raised his eyes to meet that cool gaze. A disorienting sense of déjà vu swept over him, and for a moment Mulder was back in the seedy motel room.

"You..." His voice was a thready whisper, and his hazel eyes were wide with shock and confusion. "You were there. At the - why? How?"

"Knowledge is power, Fox. It's also something I possess a lot of right now. Saint Scully was hampered by the FBI's rules when she searched for you. I wasn't."

Krycek reached out and caught Mulder's wrist, making him jerk back reflexively. "If you aren't going to eat it, I am." Lifting the agent's suddenly lax limb, Krycek brought the apple to his mouth and took another bite, his lower lip brushing against Mulder's finger as he did so.

The brief touch sent wild bolts of lightening shooting through Mulder's body, and he stood, frozen, his eyes locked on the movements of Krycek's jaw as he chewed, as hypnotized by that small act as he had been by the contrast in the apple's skin and its flesh. It was a feeling he hadn't experienced for months, even before his abduction, but to have it directed at this man...

"How much do you know?" Even to his own ears, Mulder's voice sounded hoarse.

"Not everything, but close. Very close."

"And what do you want for it?" Mulder watched the sweep of Krycek's eyelashes as he blinked, and something in the other man's eyes changed. He'd been told that they were green, but, having no knowledge of what that color was exactly, he had no frame of reference to compare their normal state to what they looked like now.

"Eat the apple, Mulder." Krycek released the older man's wrist, his expression turning more remote and shuttered by the second.

"All right."

Instead of bringing the fruit to his mouth, Mulder let it drop to the ground, bringing his other hand up to slide behind Krycek's neck, drawing the younger man in so that Mulder could savor the taste of the juice that remained on Krycek's lips.

The tart flavor ghosted over Mulder's tongue, only be replaced by another taste, one that was sharper and totally addicting - the taste of Alex Krycek. He felt the other man stiffen for a split second, then his good arm wound around Mulder's waist, anchoring them together as their mouths fell open in a sensual battle for domination of the kiss.

With an ever-increasing hunger, Mulder devoured his former partner's mouth even as his hands dove beneath the heavy leather coat, bypassing the unyielding plastic of the prosthetic arm to find the heat of his skin beneath the thin t-shirt. Krycek gave a muted groan as Mulder's hand found bare flesh, pushing the cloth out of the way with rude urgency to explore the toned flesh beneath it.

The sound goaded Mulder on, and he shrugged out of his own coat, past the point of caring that they were in a semi-public place. It was late and it was storming out; only a fool would be out on such a night as this. He was a fool. A fool to have been blind to this for all these years. What Krycek wanted was painfully clear, and it was the same thing that he wanted, the same thing he had denied wanting since first seeing the fresh-faced young agent.

Muscles clenching in their arms as they pulled each other closer, the two men dropped to their knees, the cedar shaving mulch cushioning their descent. Mulder's hands tangled with Krycek's in the material of his shirt, and they broke apart long enough to pull the heavy thermal weave over his head.

Krycek whispered something in Russian that Mulder couldn't understand, then placed his hand on Mulder's chest, fingers splayed out over the older man's heart. Mulder held himself still for a handful of beats, then caught the soft cotton of Krycek's shirt, yanking it up and over his chest, breaking the contact between them.

The stiffness of the artificial arm caused Mulder a moment's trouble, but he finally had the shirt where he wanted it - off Krycek - and it was his turn to breathe out a half-understood invocation at the sight.

"On or off?" Krycek's rasped out question confused Mulder for a second. Krycek inclined his chin toward the leather straps anchoring the false arm to his stump. "On or off, your choice."

In answer, Mulder reached for the buckles, carefully working the straps free, catching the weight of the limb as it fell away from the other man's body. After laying it on the ground, Mulder lifted his gaze to take in the dark, ridged scarring that capped the end of Krycek's left arm.

"Krycek, when you - I -"

"Can the pity, Mulder. I don't need it or want it. By now you know exactly what it is I want."

Mulder nodded, placing his hands on the other man's shoulders and sliding them down. His left palm felt warm flesh, but his right contacted tissues roughened from years of friction with the prosthetic's cup. He tilted his head to check Krycek's expression and saw only the stoic resolve of a man facing execution reflected there.

Aware that this act had, if anything, only increased his desire, Mulder dropped his hand to the hard bulge pushing at the crotch of Krycek's jeans. "This for information?"

If anything, Krycek's eyes deadened more. "The information is yours whatever you choose to do, and you know it. Don't fuck with me, Mulder."

A corner of the older man's lips curled upward in an approximation of a Smile, and his fingers tightened momentarily. "What about if I just fuck you instead?"

"If you think you can."

The smirk that accompanied this statement had Mulder's vision glazing over, and he found himself on the ground, on top of Krycek, their bodies plastered together and grinding against each other with no knowledge of how they got there.

Krycek's hand kneaded at his ass and yanked at his jeans, silently demanding their removal. Not about to argue, Mulder reared back just long enough to strip both of them the rest of the way. Returning to his place on top of Krycek was somehow like returning home but much more welcome than any homecoming he'd ever been subject to.

Flesh rubbed against flesh, the movement rough at first, then eased by sweat. Twin erections bumped and teased each other, drawing grunts of need as each pass grew more frenzied.

Krycek's fingers tightened in Mulder's hair, dragging him back, both gasping for air. "Jacket pocket."

Needing no further explanation, Mulder leaned over and grabbed the now cool black leather, scrabbling in the pockets until he found the tube of lube that was his prize. Tossing the coat toward the rest of their clothes, he pushed up on his knees between Krycek's legs, slicking his fingers, then stretching the younger man as quickly as possible.

When Mulder finally drove inward with his erection, both men let out identical gasped out moans. Their kisses took a savage turn, as did the slamming together of their bodies, but Mulder didn't mind. What was between the two of them wasn't neatly packaged or easily defined. It was raw and edgy and primal, and who knew where it would end, but for the moment, he would simply enjoy it.

Working a hand between them, Mulder wrapped his fingers around Krycek's erection, feeling his whole body jolt as he thrust into the tight channel. He was on the edge. If this went on much longer, Mulder thought he'd lose what he had left of his mind.

As if reading his thoughts, Krycek grinned, his teeth flashing whitely against his flushed face, and bucked upward, tightening his body around Mulder's cock, starting a chain reaction that sent both of them careening toward their climaxes with no chance of reprieve.

Physically and mentally exhausted, Mulder lay still, resting his head on Krycek's shoulder, unable to think of anything, let alone the consequences of this act. "Why?" he finally whispered, pushing up onto his forearms and staring down at the man beneath him. Krycek had the look of a debauched angel, or a saint, and Mulder wondered how it was that his looks could be so deceiving.

Krycek sighed and stretched his arm over his head, the stump cutting an aborted arc through the humid air at the same time. "If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you."

Frowning, Mulder pushed back onto his knees, rubbing his forehead and looking anywhere but at the other man.

Krycek sat up, grabbing his briefs and cleaning himself up, then shrugging into his jeans. "But you want to know. I can tell." He picked up his prosthetic, buckling it back into place with the ease of practice. "You want to know, there's one thing you can do. Come with me."

Mulder stopped with his shirt pulled halfway over his head, staring at Krycek incredulously. "Why would I do that?"

"Because, staying here isn't going to get you anything. Your leads are gone, and so are your informants. You want the truth, I can give it to you."

"And I should trust you because?"

"For the same reason you just threw away all your moral high ground to fuck me into the dirt. Because it's in your nature, because you want to know. Because you need to know." Krycek paused and leaned over to pick up his jacket. "And because I need the same thing."

He waited silently while Mulder pulled on the rest of his clothes, then stooped and picked up the apple, offering it to Mulder once again. "Well?"

A chill ran through Mulder's body, and he shoved his hands deep into his jacket pockets. The pristine flesh of the apple was now dingy, flecked with dirt and grime, disguising its nature. There were areas, however, that still looked pure and delicious. It was a temptation, as was the man holding it, but to heaven or hell?

There was only one way to find out. Pulling his hands from his pockets, Mulder stretched out his arm, closing his palm around both the apple and Krycek's hand. "I need to know."


  since 02-04-07

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