T
he Vortex

by Tarlan

 

M

ulder stared into the vortex stretching before him in horrified fascination, enthralled by the swirling multi-colored lights that spun around what could only be described as a nothingness. Spookily enough, it reminded him of an inverted form of the Christmas tree his mother had put up that last year before Samantha disappeared, with lights chasing each other around the dark center of deep forest green pine. Somehow it seemed appropriate now as the last minutes of Christmas Eve ebbed away, sucked into the gaping maw of the vortex.

Many years ago, Jeffrey Masterson, a renowned Physicist, submitted a paper to OMNI detailing his theories; explaining how it might one day be possible to create a rift through space and time. Although Mulder was willing to believe even the most fanciful of theories, he had considered that it was all still conjecture - until now. He should have realized the Consortium would find a nefarious use for such a rift and he was not surprised when his search for the truth had revealed those shadowy old men as the ones providing the research grant. It was when its true purpose was revealed by the Consortium - a means to provide a doorway into this world for the Colonists - that Mulder knew he had to intervene.

He had been aware that the theoretical work on the vortex was nearing completion and had hoped to dissuade Masterson from handing his research over. What he had not known was that Masterson had gone further than he had led others to believe, certainly him and the Consortium; although it seemed he had not fooled everyone.

A slight movement had Mulder training his gun back on the familiar form of the Consortium double agent; his eyes narrowing in indecision. He should have expected someone to take a far more radical approach to the problem posed by Jeffrey Masterson but he had not expected that someone to be Alex Krycek. Yet why not Krycek? After all, Krycek would be privy to all the data gleaned by those old men. However, what Mulder did not know was if he was acting for the Consortium in this instance, or secretly against them. Yet, why would the Consortium want Masterson dead when his work would provide an easy pathway to Colonization? Logic dictated that Krycek's presence here was on behalf of the rebel faction, sealing another doorway that could see the end of all human life on the planet. He wanted to trust Krycek but he could see that Krycek had not come here with the intention of persuading Masterson to give up his research. He had come here to kill him, to ensure that nothing remained of the research that could be rebuilt by the Consortium and the Colonists. Despite the risk to humanity, Mulder could not allow Masterson to die. He had sworn an oath to protect the citizens of this country, and a more personal promise to fight for the future of the human race, but Masterson's death would not serve either so he kept his gun trained on Krycek even as Krycek's remained pointed at Masterson.

Mulder's eyes darted sideways to where Dana Scully stood as still as a statue, her expression frozen as if carved in ice, her gun never wavering from Krycek's head.

"Don't move," she yelled at Krycek again; her shrill voice barely heard above the churning thunder of the swirling hole that had opened up in the wall just a few feet above the floor.

He and Scully had burst into the room just as Alex prepared to execute Masterson, and Masterson had used those initial moments of confusion to open a vortex in a last ditch attempt to save his life's work. He had already thrown most of his notes into the ravenous maw, believing that they would arrive safely at a specified time and place. Now he stood several feet away, face pinched in fear and anger with his own gun trained on the same Rebel Agent who had been sent to destroy his work at all costs.

Professor Masterson jerked forward, meaning to throw himself into the vortex after his notes. Mulder's eyes widened as Krycek took advantage of his and Scully's momentary distraction and lunged for Masterson's gun. They began to struggle, the gun raised above them as Krycek clamped his only real hand around Masterson's wrist. The Professor shoved them both forcefully towards the vortex and they tipped over the edge. With a shout of dismay Mulder leapt forward and managed to snag the sleeve of Krycek's leather jacket, holding on for grim death as he fought the suction pull of the swirling maelstrom as it tilted crazily until he was almost looking straight down, his eyes locking onto Krycek's.

"Don't let go!" Alex pleaded; his green eyes wide in fear.

There was a cry of triumph from Masterson as Krycek lost his grip on the scientist and Masterson quickly spiraled away into the unknown, yet the loss of the extra weight did little to alleviate the wrenching pain in Mulder's shoulder. He stared down into the wide green eyes in momentary indecision, recalling all the times when this man had caused him pain, and all the times when he had saved him too. Part of him wanted to let go, to see the bane of his existence spiral away into the unknown but a greater part of him rebelled at that very thought. He had no time to question why. Decision made. Mulder felt one of Scully's slim but strong hands wrap around his free hand, trying to pull him back from the edge, and he yelled down to Krycek.

"Reach up with your other hand."

His words were whipped away by the screeching vortex but Krycek must have understood for he cried out in effort, desperately trying to fight the pull of the vortex but he could not raise his arm. Having only the one arm, he was not strong enough to fight the incredible suction of the manmade wormhole as it took a tighter hold on his body. Mulder strained against the tidal pull of possibly space and time; his muscles straining as he desperately tried to hold onto the man that he had used as a punching bag more times than he could remember. Only then did he realize that he was terrified of losing Krycek, that he could not imagine a world without this man's presence. Mulder could hear Scully screaming at him; her voice almost lost in the shrieking noise that reverberated around the laboratory.

"Let go, Mulder!" She cried out again but Mulder hung on grimly to Krycek, refusing to let go of this man who had been his personal nightmare and fantasy combined for the past seven years. He could sense Scully's strength weakening as she tried to maintain her grip on his hand as they became slick with sweat, valiantly trying to keep him anchored to the laboratory with her other hand.

"Please Mulder..." She cried out in despair as her small fingers slipped a little more.

Mulder felt beads of sweat form and trickle down his face. He could feel the muscles trembling in his fast fatiguing arm, could feel the pain of his shoulder slowly dislocating, and he almost lost his grip when those wide, frightened green eyes relaxed in final acceptance of his fate. Mulder could not hear the words above the screaming of the vortex but he watched them form on the perfect lips, and he read them in the peace that crossed the strangely beautiful face.

Let go, Mulder.

Krycek gave Mulder a soft, resigned yet reassuring smile, silently asking for forgiveness and offering his own in return, trying to make peace in what could be the last precious seconds of his life. Mulder felt his heart contract in despair as, in this last moment, Krycek gave him the answer to the question he had posed on that day when he renewed Mulder's faith in his quest with a simple kiss on the cheek. With just a single, tragic and love-filled look, he told Mulder why he had kissed him. Love.

Let go.

His beautiful mouth shaped those words again as resignation became his determination to fall alone for they both knew that Mulder could never pull him free and that if he did not let go soon, then they would both die. Yet, suddenly, nothing mattered anymore except for the man hanging below him and Mulder's face hardened with renewed determination of his own, his grip on Krycek's sleeve tightening. Then he did the unexpected. He let go... of Scully.

"Mulder!"

Her scream of loss followed him as he and Alex Krycek were swept deeper into the swirling maelstrom. Mulder reached out with his free hand and pulled himself against Krycek until they were holding each other in a tight embrace. Krycek closed his eyes, and locked his legs around Mulder's, forcing his head against the strong shoulder as their bodies were hurled away from the light of the laboratory.

Time and yet no time passed... minutes, hours, days... decades. It seemed as if they had been falling for but a moment and yet it also felt as if they were falling forever. Objects pulled into the vortex from the laboratory battered against them but they held on tightly, their arms and legs wrapped around each other for protection, faces pressed cheek to cheek. Briefly, Mulder thought he saw Masterson. He closed his eyes in shock as something hard and metallic smashed against the man's head, shattering the back of Masterson's skull, splitting it open and splattering everything with warm blood and grey matter.

Eternity passed and then...

M

ulder was lying curled up on his side when he awoke in familiar surroundings, recognizing the look and feel of his once abandoned apartment and yet something was strangely different about it. The air felt heavy with the scent of pine and all the scents and aromas he had always associated with Christmas Eve at his parent's house in Martha's Vineyard even though he had never celebrated it here. The bed sheets were fresh too, rather than musty from the months of disuse from even before he tried to disappear. Learning of Masterson's plan to open a vortex that would allow the Colonists easy access to Earth had drawn him back from the shadows, reuniting him with first one and then the other of his old FBI partners. His eyes widened as he remembered both Scully and Krycek, concerned for what had happened to them even as he wondered if this had all been an unusually intensive and detailed nightmare.

Just then he noticed the heat plastered along the curve of his back and thighs. Body heat. The weight slung over his waist drew his eyes down the length of his naked body where he found a masculine arm with long fingers that identified his sleeping companion within Mulder's photographic mind.

Alex Krycek.

He felt a knot of fear loosen within him even as his mind puzzled at the not unwelcome presence of Krycek in his bed. Concentrating hard on the physical sensations, he realized that Krycek was naked too. He could feel the soft hairs of thigh and groin pressed against his flesh, could feel the firmness of a morning erection tucked into the crease between his asscheeks. Mulder cursed under his breath as realization manifested itself physically and his body responded to the heat and intimacy. All thoughts of Scully had fled in those few moments of finding Krycek naked beside him but they returned full force now, slamming into him with renewed concern as he recalled the fate of Masterson and hoped that the vortex had run out of energy before it could suck her into a similar fate.

The body lying behind him tensed, and thoughts of Scully vanished just as quickly. Mulder knew Krycek had awoken and he waited patiently for the man to scuttle backwards in the bed, to put space between them. The irrational part of him already mourned the coming loss and he was surprised when Krycek remained motionless, neither pulling back nor pushing forward. He continued waiting quietly, intrigued by the inaction, his skin tingling when the warm fingertips began to brush across his skin so very lightly, like ghost touches. With difficulty he tried to control the urge to shiver in pleasure but it had been far too long since he felt the touch of another human being upon his flesh, let alone the touch of a man he now knew he cared for deeply.

The fingers froze against his skin and Mulder made a pretend snuffling noise, hoping to convince Krycek that he still slept soundly, wanting to know how far Krycek would go with his intimate investigation. Feigning a deep and relaxed sleep, his lips curved in a smile when the fingers resumed their light caress upon his skin, causing a flood of warmth through Mulder's belly as they brushed over a nipple, sending shocks of pleasure coursing through to every nerve ending. He let out a soft, ragged sigh, almost arching back against the hot flesh as warm lips pressed against the nape of his neck. He could feel the excruciatingly slow slide of Krycek's cock between his asscheeks, barely withholding a whimper of pleasure as the head brushed over the small muscle that guarded the entrance to his body. He could feel the natural lubrication of precum but knew it would not be enough to slick the entrance.

His mind leapt back through the years, quickly determining the last time he had allowed a man to fuck him there, recalling the intense pleasure intermingled with the pain of physical possession. It had been good then and his body craved for it now, but only from this man. He wanted Alex Krycek. He wanted to feel the press of hard muscle buried deep inside his flesh, and part of him filled with self-loathing, hating the ravenous need that consumed him.

"I know you're awake."

The soft voice whispered in puffs of hot breath against his ear, sending fresh sensations dancing through his blood, turning ice to liquid fire.

"I want it too. Want you. All of you." Alex laughed softly, nervously. "Perhaps you should think of me as your Christmas present."

Mulder knew it would be so easy to simply roll over and offer some snide comment that would send Krycek scurrying back like a rat or, perhaps he would roll on top, pinning Krycek beneath him, using the leverage of having two arms to subdue the other man. He could take what he wanted then. He could spread those long legs and force his way inside that near perfect body. He could slake his need and take his revenge all in one brutal thrust deep into Krycek's ass... or he could lie here and let Krycek take control. He could give in to the longing for soft caresses rather than meting out bruising punches. He could acknowledge the long denied desire that fired between them, a desire cloaked by the unrewarding physical violence that had become almost an habitual expression of the love they could not offer to each other before this day.

As the silence lengthened between them, the hand became bolder in its caresses, smoothing over the flat of a pectoral, fingers catching in the fine chest hair before circling a sensitive nipple. Mulder broke the silence with a soft moan as thumb and forefinger squeezed on the small nub, pressing back into the groin and the hardness of Krycek's erection.

"Alex," he murmured, wanting to affirm the given name of the man fetched up behind him, wanting the intimacy of first name terms; an intimacy he shared with only a rare few, and he was rewarded as Alex breathed his given name against Mulder's neck.

"Fox."

Alex sighed again, his warm breath fanning Mulder's the side of Mulder's neck as a firmer kiss descended. Sharp teeth nipped at his flesh, the small pain lapped away by a velvet soft tongue. The hand drifted down his body, brushing over his erection before strong fingers wrapped around the shaft, moving with firm, knowing strokes that sent licks of fire through Mulder's body. He could not last against the sensuous assault of clever fingers and soft lips on his skin, so different from the feel of his own hand upon his flesh. He could not stop the pleasure washing over him, shuddering in ecstasy as he came, mind ablaze with sated need for completion. As he spiraled back down he felt the press of fingers against his ass, slicked with his come, pushing inside him, and opening him to more, shivering as Alex positioned himself.

No longer willing to remain patient, Mulder pushed back, impaling himself upon the hard flesh and almost laughing giddily at the choked sob from Alex. Another small thrust and Alex was fully sheathed, the heat of his thigh and groin burning against Mulder's asscheeks. His hand was trembling as his fingers curled over Mulder's hip, holding them steady, holding them close with neither of them wanting to move, both reveling in the perfection of this moment. It could not last an eternity even if they so wished. The demands of the flesh drew Alex back a fraction before he thrust in again, deeper and harder. Over and over, the small thrusts rocked both of their bodies, drawing them towards completion, making them whole again.

Mulder's hand wrapped around his slowly hardening erection, the exquisite pain and pleasure of Alex's strokes within him igniting his body once more. The orgasm was torn from him this time, an inarticulate cry ripped from his lips as he felt the heat of Alex's come fill his ass.

Another eternity passed as he bathed in the afterglow, uncertain of when he turned to press chest to chest, groin to groin, legs tangled around each other as Alex laid his sweaty head upon Mulder's shoulder. He reached up and pushed Alex back slightly so they lay face to face, staring into each other's eyes, into each other's souls. Long dark lashes fanned over half-lidded green eyes that were glazed and sultry. His lips were beautifully bowed and plump with pleasure, ripe for kissing, and Mulder could not resist, leaning forward to taste what had once been forbidden fruit, finding them sweet and succulent.

He moaned into the kiss, deepening it, sealing the promise made in his heart to love and cherish this man forever.


S

cully scrabbled back from the edge of the vortex, gripping hold of heavier items - the solid bench and then the bracings on the wall - while anything lighter and not pinned down was swept into the churning hole like debris swallowed into a swirling drain. Disbelief filled her with an inner numbness, unwilling to accept that Mulder had chosen to fall with Krycek rather than stay with her. Yet the truth lay in the emptiness of the laboratory, in the loss of his lean form. She had loved him, had wanted him, and had wanted him to love her in return. She had a child fathered by him and even though their son had not been conceived through physical intimacy, she had hoped Mulder would be a part of their child's life, a part of her life.

For years she had fought against the truth. She had seen him with other women and had fixated on the almost but not quite normalcy of those relationships to help push aside the doubts that had resided within her from the start. He had loved her more than he had loved most others. She knew this but, in truth, she had always been little more than a substitute for the sister he had lost. She would never be his lover because, although he did love her he would never be 'in love' with her. She knew she had lost Mulder on the day Alex Krycek walked into his life and through all the intervening years, through all the pain and suffering, and the cycle of betrayal and renewal of trust, nothing had changed that fact.

A maelstrom of swirling matter and light opened up in the ceiling above her head and she dove to one side as objects began to rain down upon the laboratory even as the vortex that swallowed Mulder snapped shut. She dove under the nearest bench, still holding tight as paper, pieces of plastic, furniture and...

"Oh God!"

The red and grey matter splattered around the laboratory, over every exposed surface; organic and inorganic alike. Then came the first body and Scully looked on in horror as it landed with a sickening crunch half over the edge of the bench, its back breaking from the force but she knew he was already dead before impact. Masterson had lost half his head and much of his clothing was shredded beyond recognition. She sobbed, not in terror for the mutilated flesh but in fear of what would fall to her feet next, drawing back further as she prayed for a miracle.

Then came another... no, two bodies, locked together... landing with a thud on the floor at Scully's feet. The wormhole snapped shut with such suddenness that it left an eerie silence in the laboratory. Scully looked around, recovering from the shock of what Mulder would have described as a scene from a splatter movie. She ignored the obviously dead Masterson and dropped to her knees beside the embraced couple, reaching for a pulse point in Mulder's throat.

"Oh god, he's alive," she whispered before reaching for the blood-splattered body still grasped firmly in Mulder's embrace. Her heart sank in her chest in a mixture of dismay and relief as she found a thready pulse. Alex Krycek still lived.

Sinking back on her heels, she surveyed the carnage, barely registering as her cellphone beeped into life until its insistent beeping pulled her attention to it. She recognized the caller and spoke quickly to A.D Skinner.

"Sir, I need a medical team to--"

The cellphone disappeared from her hand and she looked up in shock as a man she believed long dead placed her phone in his pocket.

"Assistance from Mr. Skinner will not be required, Ms. Scully," the Englishman stated calmly. His eyes flickered over his shoulder and she drew back as several people wearing white hazard suits entered the laboratory and began to take hold of the bodies, both the living and the dead.

She stared into the Englishman's eyes as he offered his hand, and then she rose gracefully to her feet.

"You are interfering in an official investigation--"

"What investigation? Mr. Mulder is no longer working for the Federal Bureau and I sincerely doubt that you have the paperwork to prove that any investigation is taking place here today."

Scully glared at the Well-Manicured Man - as Mulder had once dubbed him - but she knew the Englishman was right. Mulder had called her and had convinced her into following him to this laboratory in secret. No one knew where she was or what she was investigating and, if A.D. Skinner discovered her involvement then she would be reprimanded. Yet none of that seemed important compared to ensuring that Mulder was safe and unharmed. She could see blood splattered across his body, could see tears and rips in the fabric of his clothing across the back and sides. A jagged cut oozed blood that trickled down the side of his face and yet he was smiling. Serenely. Her quick glance of Krycek showed only superficial damage too but, until she could check them both over thoroughly, she had to assume the worst, that the blood covering them was all their own rather than Masterson's.

"I have to take care--"

"Mulder and Alex will be tended to but for now, we must depart while my people clean up this mess."

"Clean up?" she muttered in a bitter tone. She knew what he meant by this. All trace of the laboratory, of Masterson and of this event would be 'cleaned' away permanently so even if Skinner did manage to track down her cellphone signal to this place, he would find nothing of any help in recovering her or Mulder.

The Englishman smiled almost kindly. "Please don't fret, Ms. Scully. I have no intention of harming either you or Fox Mulder. Quite the contrary." He indicated towards the door with a small bow and Scully had no choice but to allow his men to lead her away.

A

lex woke from the most amazing fantasy to the brutal reality of pain and disorientation. His head throbbed in sympathy with his heartbeat but at least he could say that he was still alive. He lifted his one hand and noted the gashes and scratches, recalling the paper and even heavier material swirling in the vortex. He had not seen the blow that killed Masterson but the effect was a bloodbath that coated everything and he grimaced at the thought of the blood and brains splattered against him, against his face even as he tried to bury his head in Mulder's shoulder.

Mulder.

The name brought back the vivid and beautiful fantasy of making love to Mulder. He recalled the perfection of Mulder's body, the slide of muscle beneath his fingertips and the softness of sparse chest hairs. He smiled wryly in remembrance of the way Mulder failed to hold back that tiny moan of pleasure, letting Alex know that he was awake and aware.

As fantasies went, it was one of the best. He snorted softly. No, not one of the best. *The* best... filled with longing and need, filled with desire and a release of all the long denied emotions. Perhaps it was not quite forgiveness but it came close, and Alex understood what had fueled this fantasy. He had seen an echo of that desire in the determination written in golden-flecked eyes that had held his own, and in the strong hand that refused to let go of him. He understood the moment Mulder let go of Scully, choosing to fall with him and risk death rather than stay with her and live.

He had chosen him.

Alex let out a ragged gasp. Even a mere fantasy of making love with a man he had loved from the moment they met could not lessen the impact of those few seconds when they had looked into each other's souls and made a wish that all would be forgiven, and seen it granted.

The scrape of a chair tore him from gentle thoughts of Fox Mulder and he tensed, the freeze or fight instinct holding him still for a moment as his innate sixth sense reached out to assess the danger.

"It's me."

Alex felt his jaw slacken as the familiar voice drifted over his shoulder. He snapped his mouth shut and slowly turned over to find Mulder seated n the chair beside his bed. He was dressed in white patient hospital scrubs, covered by a dressing gown that brought out the blue in his chameleon eyes. Alex took in the cuts on exposed flesh, and the neat bandaged taped to his forehead.

"We both got knocked about," Mulder stated.

"Not as bad as Masterson though," Alex added, silently wondering how they had managed to avoid the worst of the debris when Masterson had met with disaster.

Mulder seemed to read his thoughts. "Debris down a plughole. We were last in, which meant we were behind the debris rather than in the thick of it... like Masterson."

Alex nodded. It really did make sense under that analogy.

"Where are we?"

"I don't think we're in Kansas any more."

Alex glanced around the room only now noticing the small differences that made it unlike any hospital room Alex had been in before. He filed away the small signs and decided that they were in a private facility rather than in a public hospital, which meant one of two things. Either the Consortium had picked them up, or the rebels. For Mulder's sake he hoped it was the Englishman as the Consortium had plans for Mulder that would force Alex to blow his cover with them once and for all because he was not prepared to sacrifice Mulder to them, not even for the sake of humanity. Still, Mulder did not seem unduly stressed to be here and Alex quite liked the idea of him being in the same room but without having his fists raised, his hands around Alex's throat or his mouth dripping biting sarcasm. Yet, for the past few years that was all he had known from this man, except for that one time when he had gained the upper hand and... And kissed him.

Alex licked his lips in remembrance of the slightly stubbled cheek and the way Mulder had raised his head towards the kiss rather than flinching back. That moment had fueled his dreams since then, offering him a small hope that had carried him through many of his darker days. When the edges of despair gripped at him, he would pull that moment into the light and try to imagine a time when there could be more between them than anger and betrayal. Had that day come now? Alex was afraid to ask, afraid to break the spell that must have settled over Mulder... afraid to see Mulder revert to the wounded animal that lashed out at him whenever their paths crossed.

"Still Christmas," Alex murmured as his eyes caught the glitter of tinsel in the corridor beyond the room, visible through the glass window set in the door.

Mulder grinned brightly at his words, and that smile entranced Alex, bringing more hope into his gloomy world. He could almost imagine Mulder as a boy on Christmas morning, probably up before the dawn, sneaking downstairs to rattle the brightly covered boxes with his name printed on, only to be ordered back to bed by tired, grumpy parents. He moved back in surprise when Mulder pulled back the covers and clambered into the bed beside him and tugged at his clothing.

"What are you..?"

"Unwrapping my Christmas present." Mulder's fingers halted their progress as his eyes held Alex's once more. "Many of the Indian tribes call it spirit walking," he stated but Alex understood the non sequitur when Mulder raised a hand to the side of his neck. Alex's breath caught as he saw the tiny love bite on Mulder's neck, the bite he had put there in his dream.

As Mulder leaned in for the first of many real kisses, Alex met him halfway. Perhaps it was all a fantasy, a dream, but stranger things had happened in their lives and, for once, Alex was willing to believe.

THE END
 

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