I
f Wishes Were Horses ...

by Claire Dobbin
 
 
... beggars would ride.

 

T

hinking about it afterwards, Skinner realized he could pinpoint the exact moment when it all started. He had been in his office, chairing a committee scrutinizing fiscal projections for the incoming year, when Mulder had suddenly materialized - from thin air.

Had it been any other agent, such behaviour would have warranted a thorough investigation, but this was Spooky Mulder and Skinner had learned the best way to deal with Mulder spookiness was to pretend nothing at all strange had happened and get back to the real world ASAP. So, after a long, hard look at his own personal 'pain in the ass', he did just that.

It wasn't until several days later, when a striking looking woman with a very tall tale to tell walked into his office that he discovered the reason for Mulder's bizarre behaviour.

Sitting in his chair, she described for him the day, centuries before, when her life had changed forever - the day when she had entered the realm of the immortals. With great candour she told him of the misery that had accompanied the transformation. How she had been condemned to watch a succession of selfish fools destroy their lives by misusing the very gift that should have brought them total fulfilment. Until, that is, the day Fox Mulder had recognised her for the genie she was and had claimed his three wishes.

Skinner listened to the woman's explanation without batting an eyelid. Having lived and breathed the X Files for more years than he cared to remember, he found it frighteningly easy to believe every detail of her story. It was Mulder he found hard to believe! The man had been given, not one, but three opportunities to discover if the truth really was out there - and had he grabbed hold of them? Hell no!

"He asked for what?" Walter demanded.

The former genie - Walter never did find out her name - looked a little embarrassed.

"I know ... I found it difficult to take in at first myself," she said. "He was the first one ... the only one ... who ever asked for something unselfish. I still can't quite believe it."

Walter ground his teeth in frustration.

"That's why I'm here, Mr. Skinner," the ex-genie continued. "I owe Fox Mulder ... big time, and I want to make it up to him."

"But I thought you no longer had the power to grant wishes," Walter said.

"I don't, but I called in a favour," she told him, taking a very battered, antique oil lamp from her purse.

She placed it carefully on his desk and looked over at him.

"When I'm gone, rub the lamp three times and use the power of the genie who dwells within to make Mulder's fondest dreams come true."

Walter gulped loudly.

"I trust you Walter Skinner to fulfil this task," she went on, staring intently into his dark brown eyes. "You are an honest man and though the three wishes will be yours and yours alone, I know you will use them wisely on behalf of Fox Mulder."

"But -"

"I ask one more thing of you," she interrupted. "When the genie has completed his work, find him some quiet place where he may rest undisturbed for at least a hundred years. I promised him that."

She stood up and walked to the door.

"Thank you, Walter Skinner. I wish you and Fox Mulder the kind of happiness I have found."

And she was gone.

He sat watching the old, worn lamp until Kim knocked on his office door and entered the room.

"Sir, it's after six. Do you need anything before I leave?"

"Um ... no thanks, Kim," he answered. "I'll see you in the morning."

"Good night, sir."

When the door to the outer office closed behind her, he walked over to it and turned the key in the lock. Picking up the phone he instructed the switchboard to hold all his calls. He sat down again and thought for a long, long time. When he was ready, he rubbed the lamp three times as instructed and braced himself for something spectacular.

He was disappointed. The genie who materialized - with a great deal less flair than Mulder had done three days previously - looked for all the world like a jaded, middle-aged travelling salesman from Des Moines.

"Can we do this quickly?" he asked impatiently.

"Sure ... " and Walter went on to ask for the things that Mulder wouldn't ask for himself.

"It's done," he genie said, trying to stifle a yawn.

"You mean ... it's happened?"

"Yep."

"How do I know ... for sure?"

The genie shrugged and Walter frowned at him. He thought for a moment then powered up his computer. It didn't take long for the trawl of records to turn up 'no results' on all three searches.

Because no Samantha Mulder had ever been reported missing.

No department called the X Files had ever existed in the FBI.

And no Fox Mulder had ever been recruited as a Special Agent.

He ran the searches again, for his own peace of mind. The results came back the same. He stared at the flashing cursor for a couple of minutes, then his fingers began to fly across the keyboard. There were things he wanted to know and the Bureauís powerful information retrieval system was at his disposal.

When he was done, he leaned back in his chair and contemplated the breadth and depth of the changes he had wrought with just two wishes. While he now knew his requests had not made all of Mulder's 'fondest dreams' come true, at least one of them gave the man the chance of a normal and much happier life - and the other had secured the future of the planet and the people who lived on it from all extra-terrestrial threats. It was all for the best, he was -

"Look, can we move this along?" A bored voice broke into his thoughts.

Walter looked over at the genie and quelled the creature's impatience with a lift of one eyebrow.

One wish remained - and it was his. The genie had said so herself. He knew she would be pleased it had worked out that way. So, once more he leaned back in his chair and began to think.

What did he want above all else?

What was his fondest dream?

His heart's desire?



T

he island was everything he asked for and more. The little straw house in which he sat overlooked a crystal clear, turquoise ocean, whose breakers curled and stretched onto the pristine white sand of a palm fringed beach. From the dense forest behind the house came the chatter of monkeys and the tuneful exchanges of macaws and birds of paradise. Not a wisp of cloud marred the perfect blue of the sky and a cooling breeze, heavy with the scent of jasmine, tempered the heat of the noonday sun.

Walter Skinner relaxed back into the comfortable wicker armchair and let the peace and tranquillity of the place seep into his bones. But it was not the perfumed breeze, or the whiteness of the sand, or even the turquoise of the ocean that commanded his attention. No, that was fixed exclusively on the beauty of the man who lay sleeping on the only other piece of furniture in the tiny house, a big, old-fashioned brass bed.

Alex Krycek, unguarded in sleep, was a wonder to behold. Skinner had been studying him for almost an hour, detailing every inch of exposed skin and watching his expressive face reflect the progress of his dreams. He shifted suddenly, rolling over from his belly to lie on his back. Skinner regretted the loss of the perfectly rounded ass, draped enticingly in a pair of expensive, black silk boxers, but the new vista more than made up for it. A fine dusting of chest hair, framed a pair of neatly proportioned dusky nipples before giving way to a smooth, faintly rounded abdomen. Just below the small, protruding belly button the sable hair re-appeared, a narrow line at first that broadened steadily until it was hidden from view by the silky material of the boxers. Luckily for Skinner, the silk was supple enough to reproduce faithfully the contours of the flesh that lay beneath it and outlined in its liquid blackness was Alex Krycek's glorious, uncut cock. It lay quiescent against the young man's right thigh, and looking at it set every cell in Skinner's body alight with anticipation.

The sleeper stirred again, this time to stretch languidly as a smile crossed his face. Skinner's gaze swept down his body in time to notice the first twitch of his morning hard-on. Alex turned his face into the pillow and rubbed his cheek sensuously against the crisp, white cotton. A soft grunt formed in his throat as his hand travelled unerringly to his groin. Skinner could no longer resist: noiselessly he made his way across the small space that separated them. He sat down gently on the edge of the bed, hoping not to disturb the gentle drift towards wakefulness. He held perfectly still, not even breathing and was pleased to find no sign that the man, now within hand's reach, was aware of his presence.

Alex's skilful hand set to the task and Skinner watched in fascination as the cock lengthened and thickened and began to press upward against the confining material of the boxers. A little line of frustration formed across the top of Alex's nose and his mouth set in a frown. His body began to move restlessly, arching and stretching as his hand fumbled with the waistband of the boxers. Skinner, almost as aroused as Alex, shared his frustration. Suddenly, the desire to be a part of what was happening over-rode everything else and he leaned forward to free the erection from the clingy garment.

As the elasticated band dragged across his fully engorged cock, Alex gave a loud moan and reached out to catch hold of the hands that had brought him relief.

"... mmm ... Walter ..."

Skinner froze in position.

Shit ... he had been right all along.

Alex Krycek had wanted him.

Still wanted him.

It was incredible.

It was breathtaking.

He was literally having trouble breathing ... then Alex guided his hands down onto the fully erect cock and the feel of the silky hardness made him take a shaky, welcome breath.

"Alex ... I want you ..."

" ... yeah ..."

With that single word, Alex crossed the final barrier into consciousness and his eyes opened and focussed. He held up his left arm and watched the muscles in his forearm flex as he stretched the fingers wide and then made a fist. He drew in a deeply contented breath.

"Come here ... babe," he demanded, sliding the hand around Skinner's neck and pulling him down to lie beside him. From the first, mind blowing kiss, it was clear who intended to be in the driving seat and to reinforce the point, Alex rolled on top of Skinner.

Responding to the challenge, Skinner pushed back playfully and easily regained the upper hand. He brought his mouth down on Alex's and sought entry. Alex resisted and turned his face away. Tensing his muscles, he pushed back more aggressively. It turned into a battle of wills, and when Alex eventually prevailed his skin was damp with sweat and his erection was rock solid.

"Walter ..." he warned "... be good ..."

"Oh, I intend to be very good," Skinner growled before flipping the younger man over with an ease that knocked the breath out of him. Pinned to the bed, Alex's expression became confused, then wary as he woke up to the fact that this was not the dream he thought it to be.

"What the fuck ... ?"

"Good afternoon, Alex. Welcome to paradise."

"Jesus," Alex said tightly, glancing from side to side as he tried to assess his situation.

He looked back into Skinner's eyes.

"Tell me, are you going to be good, Alex?" Skinner asked in an indulgent tone. "Because if you are, I can promise you the best two weeks of your life."

Alex's response was a curl of his lip and a look of defiance that could have curdled milk.

"You're out of your fucking mind, Skinner," he growled. "Get the fuck off me!"

He heaved upward with all his strength - to no avail because Skinner had the weight and the psychological advantage. Roaring with frustration he began to struggle sideways in an attempt to get out from under the bigger man. In response, Skinner pressed down even more forcefully and grabbed hold of Alex's wrists in an iron grip.

"Take it easy ... " he coaxed through gritted teeth " ... just give me a minute to explain ... if you listen I'll let go ... I promise ... okay?"

Alex began to calm down and his resistance ebbed away.

"That's better ... I'm not going to hurt you, Alex ... I'm working to a different agenda here ... believe me."

Alex snorted in derision.

"That's just the cynic in you, babe ..." Skinner smiled at him "... but think about it, you know I'm a straightforward kind of guy. Have I ever lied to you?"

The frown line deepened as Alex struggled with the question and his predicament.

"I want you, Alex ... have done since the first day you walked into my office," Skinner went on, his voice dropping to a seductive growl, "and now I have the ... um ... hard evidence that you want me."

He rolled his hips slowly, making the man beneath him groan loudly as he thrust upward into the delicious friction.

"This is our time, babe ... our space ... here and now, the past and the future don't exist ... there's only us and what we want ... "

He leaned down and traced the tip of his tongue across the sealed lips.

"... and I think you want the same thing I do ... to taste you ... fuck you ... to know how it feels to put my dick in your mouth ... feel you deep my ass ... "

Alex's eyes began to close and he opened his mouth. Instantly, Skinner moved in to accept the submission. His lips covered Alex's and his tongue slipped into the warm, sweet -

His balls exploded in a pain that halted his thought process. Despite it, from somewhere just beyond the bubble of agony that bounded his existence, he was aware of movement and the sound of footsteps hurrying away across the wooden porch.



I

t was six days before he knew for certain that Alex had returned. The evidence was a line of footprints in the pristine ebb tide sand of the beach. Skinner hunkered down and traced the outline of a naked foot. From his knowledge of the island, he knew it took about three days to circumnavigate the coastal fringe. The climb to the summit of the central highland, with its long view out over the unbroken tropical cover and the featureless blue of the ocean beyond, took another two days. By that reckoning, Alex's return was right on cue. He stood back up and walked to the house where he filled a large pitcher with cool, clear water from the forest spring. Pulling on a baseball cap, he walked back down the beach, pitcher and fishing rod in either hand. He set the pitcher down on the trunk of a fallen palm tree. Slowly he scanned along the beach and the tree line behind. Nothing was out of place, there was no sign of Alex. With a shrug he followed the tide's edge to the large outcrop of volcanic rock where the fish were lining up to be caught.

Two hours later, he had a net full of fish and enough of the sun. Gathering up the fishing tackle he carried it up the beach to the house. Setting the barbeque coals alight, he began to clean the fish. The sun was beginning to set when he put the first batch on the barbeque. While it cooked, he topped up the oil lamps and lighted them. Against the orange and red brilliance of the sunset their light did not amount to a glimmer, but night came suddenly at the island's latitude and until moonrise the darkness would be complete.

He turned the fish on the grill, sending its aroma drifting on the breeze along the red blushed beach. From the forest's edge a shadowy figure detached itself and moved towards him with unhurried wariness. Skinner watched its progress in his peripheral vision. He filled a platter with the perfectly cooked fish and set a fresh batch on the grill. He carried the platter to the table, already set out with dishes, a basket of fresh bread and a big bowl of tropical fruits. A six pack of beer from the ice box completed the menu and he settled down to enjoy his dinner. The fish tasted good, its flavour piqued by the sharpness of his hunger. He began to eat with enthusiasm.

A footfall sounded on the first step of the veranda. Skinner looked up and found it difficult not to smile. Alex, looking very much the little boy lost despite five day's growth of beard, was standing staring at Skinner's plate with hungry eyes, the empty water pitcher dangling from his hand. Skinner reached out to take it. Instinctively Alex shied away; his arm flying upward to protect his face.

"Jesus ... relax, will you? I just want the pitcher."

Still in his 'fight or flee' posture, Alex handed it over.

"Sitting down might be a good idea right about now," Skinner advised.

Weariness and hunger won out over fear and Alex sat down, his gaze returning to the platters of food. Skinner ran an appraising glance over him from head to toe. Ignoring the many bruises and cuts decorating his body, he decided that the most pressing need was for food and water, so he took a plate, filled it with fish and bread and held it out to his reluctant guest. Alex moved forward to take it. With a look of face saving defiance he began to eat with gusto.

Skinner watched him as he finished his own meal. By the time he was ready to set his plate aside, Alex was working on his third helping and was at last beginning to run out of steam.

"We need to do something about those cuts and bruises," Skinner said, reaching to take out his second beer.

"Iím okay," Alex mumbled around a mouthful of food as he helped himself to a beer.

"Uh-uh," Skinner scolded, taking the bottle from him, "not until you re-hydrate."

"Fuck you, Skinner!" Alex shouted, pushing his plate away in frustration.

"Here," Skinner said, handing him a glass of water.

Scowling he took it, spilling almost half in the process. The other half he drank in one thirsty draught. Skinner refilled it from the pitcher and went to fetch the first aid kit. Making a space for it on the table and drew his plantation chair up close to Alex's. Then with a 'no-nonsense' authority he lifted one badly abused foot into his lap. The patient offered only a token resistance before allowing him to tend to the injuries.

"How did you do it?" Alex asked after draining his glass a second time.

"Huh?" Skinner glanced up.

Alex glowered at him. "How did you bring me here?" he asked through clenched teeth.

"Ah ... I used one of Mulder's wishes ... " he paused from a moment " ... though technically speaking they were my wishes."

"Your wishes," Alex said, his tone scathing. "Yeah ... right."

In response, Skinner leaned forward and tapped on Alex's left arm. The sceptical look disappeared off Alex's face and was replaced with one of shock. He stared hard at Skinner for a long moment.

"You wished for this?" he asked very quietly, holding out his left hand, palm up. Then even more quietly, "For me?"

"I got the once in a lifetime chance to make my fondest dream come true ... " he shrugged hugely " ... turns out you're it. What can I say? I'm as surprised as you are."

He went back to dealing with Alex's injuries. Silence settled over them and the truth that had been laid bare.

It took him a while, but eventually Skinner finished cleaning and disinfecting all the nasty cuts and abrasions Alex had managed to collect on his travels. He packed up the first aid kit and put it away. Coming back onto the veranda he asked, "You had enough?" He indicated Alex's plate.

"Um ... yeah ... thanks."

He filled Alex's glass a third time before starting to clear away the dishes. When he returned Alex was just finishing off the last of the water. Judging that the younger man had taken on enough fluid, Skinner relented and handed him a cold beer. Alex took it and twisted off the cap. He paused mid motion and looked at the bottle grasped securely in his left hand.

"I don't know what to say," he began, before cutting to the chase. "Why me?"

Skinner looked at him, then turned away to gaze out at the ocean where only the halo of sun's disk remained above the horizon. He shrugged. He had no intention of admitting how his dreams, waking and sleeping, were haunted by a pair of beautiful green eyes. Or how the sexy voice could get him hard even as it demanded the kind of obedience that called his moral fibre into question.

"Who knows?" he prevaricated. "Havenít you noticed that desire and good sense ... no offence, Alex ... rarely go together. I want you ... that's just the way it is."

He leaned back into his chair and uncapped his own beer. He drank from it deeply, waiting for a response. None came and they sat together in silence, listening to the surf breaking against the reef far out in the bay. Overhead stars began to blink on in the fast receding glow of sunset. From behind the trees, at the southern extremity of the island a big, full moon rose up, turning everything silver.

Gradually the sound of rhythmic breathing registered in Skinner's hearing. When he looked over, he found Alex deeply asleep, the beer bottle cradled in his lap. He stood up and lifted it out of the relaxed grip. He fetched a light comforter and draped it over the sleeper. The plantation chair in which he lay was not as comfortable as the bed, but it was a hell of a lot better than his sleeping arrangements on the previous four nights. So with a last indulgent look at the man who entranced him, Skinner reluctantly went back into the house.



T

he smell of perking coffee woke him the following morning. Turning over onto his back, he gazed out at the blue sky and turquoise ocean. Another perfect day on the island - the only part of his wish that came with a guarantee. As for the rest of it, well, that was down to the second most unpredictable person he had ever known. As if on cue, the person in question emerged from the tiny, galley kitchen carrying two mugs. He stood waiting while Skinner punched his pillows into shape and sat up straight in the bed. He handed over the mug and sat down in the armchair. Taking a first, grateful swallow of the coffee, he propped a foot up on the edge of the bed and said, "So start at the beginning. I want to know everything."

Skinner took a moment to drink deeply from his mug. The rich strong brew kicked his speech centre into gear.

"It began with an X File ... all the usual weird crap ... an invisible corpse that conveniently vanished before its existence could be verified. That bit even got to Scully, and as for Mulder, his spookiness was ... off the gauge."

It pleased him to see the smile that played across Alex's face, making his eyes sparkle.

"Have to admit though, he was right about this one - an X File that turned out to be the paranormal real deal with all the trimmings ... including a thousand year old genii, obligated to hand over three wishes to anyone who recognised her."

"A genii?" Alex asked, copying Skinner's careful pronunciation. "You mean like Barbara Eden? With a love seat in a bottle? And a harem costume?"

"No harem costume, not a blond ... and no bottle that I'm aware of."

"You met her?"

"Yeah, in my office. She came to repay a debt of honour she owed to Mulder."

Completely intrigued, Alex knit his brows and the appealing little line formed across the top of his nose. Skinner had to resist the desire to fixate on it. He took distracting swallow of coffee and went on.

"Seems he used the last of his wishes to free her from a life she hated. I'm not sure how he used the first wish but it didn't turn out how he wanted and he had to use the second to set it to rights. You have to be very careful what you wish for ... " Skinner's voice trailed off " ... it may not turn out as you expect."

Alex let the comment slip by and homed in on the bigger issue.

"He didn't use the wishes to get want he wanted? To get at the truth ... crack the Project?"

"No."

"Did he ask for his sister back?"

"No."

"Asshole!" Alex shrugged in disgust. "Mulder the martyr is so fucking predictable."

"I know ... that's why I did it for him," Skinner told him.

"What?"

"And not just him, I did it for all of us. So ... I'm afraid you're going to have to consider a different line of work, Alex."

"What ... what do you mean?"

"The Project no longer exists ... never did exist ... one wish took care of that. The second wish I used to make Earth shall we say ... uninteresting to anyone or anything that's out there. If humanity ever decides to make contact with E.T. ... someoneíll have to go pay a call personally."

"Jesus ... there's no Project? No old men? No Spender?"

"Definitely no Project. As for Spender et al ... they're still out there, I guess ... just living different lives."

"Like my life is different?" Alex demanded angrily, standing up. "Who gave you the fucking right-"

"I did," Skinner told him. "I got the chance to make the whole fucking mess go away and I took it. If the opportunity to live a normal life doesn't appeal to you, too bloody bad ... because you got it!"

The declaration completely threw Alex.

"I just ... it would ... you have one hell of a nerve, Skinner," he said.

"Yeah well, I figured it was high time I got to call the shots."

Slowly Alex's anger drained away. He sat down again and put his feet back up on the bed.

"This is going to take some getting used to."

"I guess," Skinner agreed. "It's one of the reasons I brought us here to the island. I figured we'd need a breathing space to adjust."

"So how is my life different? Do you know?"

"All I know is your file is clean - not so much as a traffic ticket. I ... um ... don't know anything about your personal life."

"Shit ... that's scary."

Skinner climbed out of bed. He left Alex staring blankly out at the sea and went to the kitchen to start breakfast. In pop psychology, this sudden need for gainful activity would be classified as an avoidance strategy. He only reason he knew nothing about Alexís altered personal life was that he had chosen not to check it out. The ugly truth was that if the new Alex belonged to someone else he just plain didn't want to know.

He was spooning scrambled eggs onto plates when Alex joined him.

"What about you?" Alex asked.

"Pretty much unchanged. I'm with the Bureau - same rank. No X Files though. If they exist at all, they're well buried. Sharon and I divorced six years ago. That the biggest difference. Bring the coffee," he said, taking the food out to the veranda.

Alex picked up the coffee pot and followed him out.

"What about the others?" he asked as he forked into the big helping of eggs.

"You mean Mulder?"

"Um ... yeah."

"He's a professor of criminology at Berkeley ... with a specialty in psychopaths."

The information caused Alex to grimace.

"An academic? Mulder?"

"A gilt-edged, royal pain in the ass academic ... who prefers working murder cases to grading papers."

They both grinned broadly.

"Apparently, despite his brilliance, it took him eleven years to make tenure."

Alex snorted loudly.

"Never would have made it if it hadn't been for Scully."

"Scully?"

"Yeah, he met her when he was brought in to consult on a serial murder case. Sheís a medical examiner in Orange County. It seems that some people are fated to be together ... whatever life throws at them."

He looked straight at Alex, who lifted his arm and sniffed at his armpit.

"I need to shower," he said. "and since this ... house ... seems to be short a bathroom, I take it I get clean in the ocean."

"Uh-uh, finish your breakfast and I'll show you the facilities."

When the plates were clean, Skinner grabbed a couple of towels from his holdall and led the way along the path that ran from the rear of the house up a gentle slope into the jungle. The thick foliage closed in behind them like a steamy curtain. All around the air vibrated with the pulse of life, the surge of sap rising in the thick stems of the lush vegetation, the relentless toil of a billion insects, the cycle of birth and death and rebirth in a thousand different species of fish and fowl and everything in between.

"This way," Skinner said, veering off to the right after a hundred metres or so.

A large space opened up before them, under an unbroken canopy of taller trees. At the opposite end of the clearing was an almost vertical outcrop of rock, over which a small river tumbled gracefully into a big, aquamarine pool before meandering its way back into the cover of the jungle. The pool was surrounded by smooth, rocky ledges. Skinner walked over the largest of them and draped the towels on an overhanging branch. Without ceremony, he stripped off his boxer shorts and jumped into the water. After a pause that demonstrated the hidden depth of the pool, he broke the surface and used both hands to swipe the water from his face. Lying on his back, he began to swim back and forth across the pool using lazy strokes.

Alex stood unmoving, mesmerized by each fleeting glimpse of well-toned masculine flesh.

"Aren't you coming in?"

"What ... um ... sure."

He walked over to the water's edge and dipped his foot into the water.

"It's warm," he said, smiling at the unexpected comfort.

"Six degrees above body temperature. I told you, this is paradise."

No more persuasion was needed. Alex kicked his way out off his boxers and jumped in, sending the water sloshing in all directions. Skinner rode out the miniature tidal wave and waited for Alex to reappear ... and waited ... and waited some more. A little knot of anxiety began gathering in his gut. The pool was deep. but the sides and the bottom were rocky. Alex was unfamiliar with the irregular contours ... was he injured ... or trapped ...

Two strong hands grabbed hold of his ankles and yanked him under the surface. Surprise sent the air rushing from his lungs in a frenzy of bubbles. Disoriented, he floundered for a second or two before kicking hard against the restraining hands. A sudden release, a powerful kick upward and he was in the air again, drawing in a greedy breath.

"Shit," he bellowed.

The sound of laughter echoed through the clearing. He shook his head to clear it and opened his eyes. Alex, treading water less than an arm's length away, was grinning at him, daring him to retaliate.

"You bast-" the insult was lost in his sudden lunge forward.

A mouthful of water cut short Alex's yelp as Skinner rose up out of the water and began taking his revenge in a merciless dunking.

"Unnnggh .... Skinner ..." Alex gurgled.

"Had enough?" Skinner asked, supporting his victim so his chin was above the water.

"Uh-huh ... " a spluttering cough.

"Okay then."

He turned Alex onto his back and held him close to his body as he towed him to the pool edge. Once there he gave him a boost up, out of the water, then climbed out himself to take his place beside him.

It was irresistible - the need to look at the beautiful man who made him ache with longing was irresistible, so he didn't even try. He looked his fill, enjoying every anticipatory flutter in his heartbeat, every delicious tingle in his gut. Alex lay stretched out beside him, his posture open and relaxed, his eyes closed, his body glistening with water droplets. A pulse began to beat in Skinnerís groin. His breathing and heart rate speeded up. Alexís eyes opened. He looked up at Skinner, then reached out a hand to caress the side of his face.

Walter Skinner needed no further invitation. He leaned down and covered the welcoming mouth with his own as Alexís hand slid around his neck, bringing him closer. The lips parted and Skinner slipped his tongue inside. The taste was pure Alex - exotic and dangerous. He went deeper, taking possession. He felt potent, in control - until a practised hand wrapped itself round his cock and he was lost. Groaning loudly, he rolled onto his back and spread his legs. Alex moved into position between them and bent to the task.

His mouth was wet and warm and talented. Skinner buried his hands in the thick, sable hair and went with the flow and ebb, knowing the end would come quickly. He was right. Five or six grunting thrusts of his hips and he was shooting like a 'still wet behind the earsí teenager.

"Fuck ... " he gasped, collapsing back on the unforgiving rock ledge.

"Iíll take that as a compliment," a smug voice whispered in his ear. "Rest up, Walter. Iím going to expect you to be just as ... enthusiastic when I get back."

"Mmmm ... where you going?"

"I need a condom and a bottle of lube ... I take it the supplies are back at the house?"

Skinner opened his eyes and grinned at the tense, needy expression on Alex 's face.

"This is paradise, Alex," Skinner told him, leaning up on one elbow. "In paradise everything is convenient."

He looked over to where the grass was trimmed like a well manicured lawn. Spread out on its smooth surface was a large, soft rug, scattered with cushions, on one of which lay a bottle of lube and a strip of condoms. Alex stared at the sight for a moment in confusion, then he whooped with delight.

"Oh, yeah," he told Skinner emphatically, "but, Iím warning you, if this is a dream, donít ever fucking wake me up!"



I

t just kept getting better and better after that as they became accustomed to the undemanding rhythms of island life. They never planned anything. A whole day could be spent in lazy love-making, or trekking halfway round the island. Sometimes they wore clothes, sometimes they went naked. For hours they wouldnít exchange a word, theyíd just hang out with each other, fishing or lying on the beach watching the cloud formations drift by. Then something would spark a conversation and they would talk long into the night, sitting beside a campfire or on the veranda, watching the Milky Way appear in the darkening sky.

One evening, at the end of their second week together, Alex nonchalantly reached out and caught hold of Skinnerís hand as they walked together along the waterís edge. Nothing was said. They just kept walking, looking straight ahead, but Skinner could sense that Alex was wearing the same love-struck smile he was. The contact signaled a new level of intimacy between them. In bed that night, they talked through the hurtful truths of their shared past. The love-making that followed was intense, orchestrated by Alex for the sole purpose of his loverís pleasure. A gift that Skinner was happy to reciprocate in full measure.

The following morning, Skinner woke up to find himself being scrutinized by a pair of inquisitive green eyes.

"Unnnhh," he grunted.

"I can tell when youíre going to wake up grumpy," Alex said.

"What?"

"There, told you so."

"Then I hope you have the coffee on, Karnac."

"Canít you smell it?" he asked, getting out of bed.

Skinner sniffed the air. It was scented with the aroma of Skinnerís favourite Jamaican Blue Mountain roast.

"Mmmm ... lead me to it."

Alex pulled off the flimsy sheet. They both looked down at Skinnerís half-hard cock.

"You know, a good cup of coffeeís only the second best way to cure my grumpiness," he said, waggling his eyebrows at Alex.

"Iím holding the first option in reserve for 'bear with a sore headí mornings."

Leaning down, he kissed Skinnerís mouth with a thoroughness that left few coherent thoughts in the older manís mind.

"No playing with little Walter either," he warned. "I have big plans for him after breakfast."

Skinner groaned in frustration as he watched the provocative sway of Alexís rounded ass carry him out onto the veranda. He flopped back onto the bed and closed his eyes.

"Coffeeís ready," Alex called a few minutes later.

Skinner yawned and climbed out of bed. He stretched slowly to release the kinks in his neck and shoulders and wandered out onto the veranda. Beautiful mornings were the norm on the island and this one was no exception. He stood leaning on the rail, looking out at the sparkling blue ocean, enjoying the feeling of well being and vitality that comes with a sunny climate. He straightened up and breathed in several lungfuls of ozone laden air. Movement to his right caught his attention. He squinted into the bright sunshine. It was Alex, heading down the beach, already halfway to where the surf was breaking.

"Alex," he called.

Alex turned and began walking backwards.

"Thereís something washed up on the beach," he shouted back.

Skinner squinted even harder and distinguished the glint of something metallic lying on the sand.

A polite cough sounded behind him. He looked round sharply. Standing in the doorway of the house was the world weary genie, dressed in white Bermuda shorts and a garish Hawaiian shirt.

"ALEX!" Skinner roared, grabbing hold of the veranda rail.

Alex was holding an old, battered oil lamp. He looked up at Skinner, then he froze in position. His form shimmered as if in a heat haze before vanishing from sight.

Skinner turned on the genie.

"Bring him back, you bastard!"

The genie smiled and clicked his fingers. A moment of total disorientation, and Walter Skinner found himself standing on the balcony of his Crystal City apartment. He grabbed hold of the rail to steady himself. The sky was grey above a grey city. Far below men in grey suits hurried to and fro. The desolation that hit him like a freight train brought him to his knees. He wrapped his arms protectively round his body and cried like a baby.



T

he temperature in Washington was hovering just above minus five degrees. A brisk north-westerly blowing in from the continental heartland, made it feel a great deal colder. Assistant Director Skinner shrugged deeper into his heavy wool coat as he left the Hoover Building. He checked his watch. It was later than he thought. He would have to hurry if he wanted to get to the specialist bookstore before it closed. Picking up his pace to a jog, he manoeuvred his way through the homeward bound workers and commuter traffic and managed to make it to his destination with several minutes to spare. An old fashioned bell above the door rang as he entered and the proprietor emerged from the back room, already wearing his coat and scarf.

"How may I help you?" the man asked.

Skinner took a slip of paper out of his wallet. "My nephew ordered a book," he replied. "He got a call this morning saying it had arrived."

He handed over the receipt and the man pushed his spectacles up his nose to read it.

"Ah, the Bannister-Fletcher. That will be upstairs in the stock room. My assistant had already gone, it may take me a while to track it down," he warned.

"No problem," Skinner told him, admitting to himself that he was in no hurry to get back to the Crystal City apartment.

The man climbed a narrow spiral staircase to the upper floor and Skinner began to browse around. The store had a old fashioned, comfortable ambiance. Running his hand along a dusty shelf he decided to return some day when there was more time. The bell clattered again and an icy blast penetrated the warmth. Skinner began to turn towards the door when a large, glossy book with a vibrant turquoise dust jacket caught his eye. He wavered for a moment then reached out and pulled it from the shelf. 'Lost Islands of the Pacific' the title read. He ran his hand over the beautiful photograph on the cover. Powdery silver sand, crystal clear ocean, cloudless blue sky.

As he stared at the image, the dark confines of the D.C. bookstore began to melt away, leaving him standing in the bright sunlight of a familiar beach. A gentle breeze caressed his skin, carrying with it the perfume of the ocean. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. A regular heartbeat of waves breaking over coral, sounded in his ears. A possessive arm slid around his waist, pulling him tight against a strong body.

"It's not as beautiful as our island," a sexy voice murmured in his ear.

With a shudder reality came slamming back into him - the bookstore - the city - the winter - only the closeness of the embrace remained. He drew in a ragged breath, his knuckles turning white as he held onto the book like a lifeline.

"Jesus, Walter, it's okay ... it's me," Alex told him, his voice tinged with surprise and amusement.

"Alex," Skinner said.

"In the flesh, babe. Christ, it's been a long three months." He leaned forward and planted a row of kisses along Skinner's jaw line.

Skinner tilted his head to the side, exposing his neck to his lover's ministrations.

"Ah-hem!"

The elderly owner was back standing behind the counter holding a very thick, hardback volume. He held it up to show the spine to Skinner.

"The Bannister-Fletcher, sir." he announced.

Skinner shoved the book back into the shelf and stepped away from Alex.

"MasterCard okay?" Skinner asked.

"Certainly, sir."

Skinner handed over the credit card and the man walked to the end of the counter to process the transaction. Skinner went back to Alex.

"I waited to hear from you ... I thought you didn't want -"

"No way, Walter, you know how I feel," Alex interrupted emphatically. "I wanted to contact you straight away, but the life I came back to was very different from the one I left .... I had to handle things ... it took a while."

Skinner looked at him, a frown creasing his face.

"Don't worry, babe, it was a better life than before, just ... not the one I want. I'll explain later." He looked deep into Skinner's eyes. "Can we get out of here?"

Skinner's heart began to speed up. He felt dizzy ... in a good way .. like a kid on Christmas morning.

"Yeah," he agreed, a broad smile on his face.

He followed Alex through the door and together they stepped out into the bitter cold night.

"Sir! Your book," a voice called from the doorway.

Skinner halted in his tracks. "I won't be long," he told Alex.

He went back into the shop and the owner handed him the credit slip and his credit card.

"Look ... there's a book in the travel section, 'Lost Islands of the Pacific'," he told the bookstore owner as he signed his name. "Can you hold it for me for a few days?"

"Certainly, sir."

The man slipped the book into a bag and handed it to Skinner.

"Thank you."

He stepped back out into the street and walked to where Alex, his coat held tightly closed at the collar, was standing staring up into the grey, laden sky. Just then it began to snow - big, fluffy snowflakes that settled softly on Alex's hair and eyelashes. He shook his head to shift them before looking back at Skinner.

"I can't offer you a tropical island," he said. "Best I can do is a duplex apartment in Alexandria full of unpacked boxes."

"Does it have a bed?" Skinner asked.

"The biggest one I could find."

"Beer?"

"A six pack in the refrigerator."

"Good Chinese take out nearby?"

"Probably," Alex answered, beginning to frown.

"Sounds like paradise to me," Skinner told him.

Alex's sudden smile set to flight the last tiny doubt that lingered in Skinner's heart.

"Car's this way," he said, catching hold of Skinner's hand. "Let's go home."

THE END
 

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