V
ows

by Ursula

You need to read Father's Day, Father's Day 2, and Folie to understand the background of this story. Summary: Alex escapes from Spender with an infant that was created from his and Mulder's gene. He goes to Mulder for help. Mulder and he form an uneasy partnership to raise the infant, Jacob. In Father's Day 2, Live and Learn, Mulder and Alex start a sexual relationship while trying to find a way to protect Jacob from Spender, who survived yet another disaster. In Folie, the first story written, Alex returns from a trip to visit his mother to find Mulder in a surprising state. I don't want to spoil the plot of that one. It's fun.

Father's Day

Folie

Time Frame: Post Series

J

acob stirred in his sleep. I checked him again, feeling some inexplicable fear. Once I was sure that Spender was alive, I felt his loathsome presence everywhere. What he had done to Mulder and I was terrible, although I almost had to admire the elegance of his scheme. That was Spender. Personally, I never wasted time making a hit if I had to do one. Get in, make my kill, and get out. The nightmares came later.

Spender loved to plot. He was a frustrated writer and I guess he took satisfaction from making elaborate plans as if writing a mystery novel. Despite his extravagant planning, he was moderately successful. I should be glad that he decided to seek an elaborate doom for the happiness Mulder and I had found. I was happy he hadn't killed any of us, but that didn't stop the pain I had felt when I realized Mulder didn't remember me or our son. I had moments when I pondered how completely Mulder had forgotten us. People say that you can't be hypnotized to do something that's not already in you. I hope they are wrong. I can understand Mulder having reservations about me. A year of passion can't wipe out everything in our past. Jacob was the one that Mulder had no right to forget. He's our son. He loves us both. He trusts us. He's a good kid and I want him to grow up sure that he is loved and feeling safe.

I lay awake, thinking of Mulder. I held back from him. I couldn't tell him how much I loved him and that I wasn't sure if I wanted to go on living if I lost him. I knew I needed him more than he needed me. After all, Mulder had a life before I invaded it. He would have one if he decided he was done with me.

What did I have? Access to a few bank accounts, most of which I was afraid to touch, a bunch of nightmares passing themselves off as memories. I had Jacob, but I didn't have a doubt that if it ever came down to crunch that Mulder would get custody. I even agreed with that. I didn't know much about raising kids. I didn't even know much about being one. Yeah, I had a mother who loved me, but thanks to my father, I grew up fast and I grew up hard.

Jacob chose that moment to wake entirely, opening his green eyes widely. He blinked, my eyelashes surrounding his infant eyes. When he saw me, he smiled widely and drooled a little. He was growing teeth.

I changed my mind. There was not way Mulder was ever taking Jacob from me. He better get used to having us both in his life. Whether he liked it or not.

Picking up my sweet, but not sweet smelling son, I said, "Hey, there, when are you going to be ready for some toilet training? You don't smell like a rose, my boy."

Jacob grinned again. He doesn't smile like me. He smiles like Mulder.


I

've come up in the world. I have lunch with my boss. Well, technically speaking, Walter Skinner is no longer my boss. I'm a consultant and he's ....he's the man to whom I give my reports.

Walter dresses better these days. I think there's someone special. I haven't met her yet - if it is a 'her'. He looks almost smug with satisfaction. Then again, I bet I wear that cat that ate the canary look a lot. Life with Alex is good. He's sexy and inventive. He's smart and has a lot of skills. Most of all, he's nuts. He loves me the way I am. I adored Scully. I will always love her, but she had this idea about what she wanted in a husband. He looked a lot like me and he had some things in common with me, but he wasn't me. When we tried to make a go of it, I could tell you almost to the moment when Scully realized I was never going to change into her Mr. Right. She stopped mid word, smiled gently, patted my face and said, "I love you, Mulder. I really do."

There was calm before the storm after that. Scully stopped nagging me about all my bad habits. She let me stay at my computer late at night. I remember the night she kissed my forehead and told me she had an early meeting. She suggested I sleep on the couch. She wasn't angry. It was a reasonable suggestion.

We never slept together after that. We had sex a few times, but not often. Soon it was never.

One day we sat down and Scully said it wasn't working. She wanted a divorce. She winced. I knew she didn't come from a family that divorced. This was horrible for her. I, on the other hand, had been ready for my parent's divorce for years before it happened. Our family ended the night Samantha was taken. It just took a while for the paperwork to catch up.

I wasn't surprised when Scully asked for a divorce. I was more surprised that Alex liked me the way I was.

Alex didn't bitch about much. He was there for me when I wanted sex and he made it so good that my porn collection was growing dust. If I forgot to wash a dish, he washed it. He liked order and I was a slob, but, instead of complaining, he straightened after me. When I told him that I didn't like it, Alex told me why he did it. I understood his need for having a place for everything and everything in its place. He wanted to see at a glance someone had tampered with our belongings. That was reasoning I could understand.

I'm not going to say it was all roses, because Alex could be as big an asshole as I was at times. The good part of that was that I didn't feel like the bad guy when we argued and the make up sex was always fantastic.

I shoved my salad around on my plate. I had breakfast this morning since Alex had cooked it. I wasn't the breakfast type, but it smelled good and it looked good. Funny how lunch was more of a luxury when you had a good breakfast.

"How's it going with you and Alex?" Walter asked.

"Good," I answered. "Why?"

"You look good. You look happy," Walter said.

The waiter brought our lunch. I had ordered beef rolls. Walter had a thing for Polish food and this restaurant was his favorite. Alex liked it too. He and Walter had met here to discuss Alex's amnesty. Somehow they formed an amnesty of their own during the meetings.

"You should marry him," Walter said, after the waiter left.

"What?" I asked.

"It's going to pass," Walter said. "The gay marriage law."

The fact that there were significant ties between the conspiracy and the conservative right was well known. I'm not saying any of them gave a damn about it. It was another distraction, smoke and mirrors to cover a darkening earth. The reaction was a backlash against the right. I don't think people were voting for gay rights. They were voting against the religious right. They didn't appreciate the way some of the leaders accepted money and didn't ask where it came from and why.

"I didn't know you were psychic, Walter," I said.

"Can the bullshit, Mulder," Walter said. "You know what the polls are showing."

"Polls have been wrong before," I said.

"There's always Canada," Walter said, as if that was something he had really been thinking about.

I pretended that my beef roll called for all of my attention.

"You have a second chance, Mulder," Walter said.

"I was already on my second or third chance with Scully," I replied.

"You know what I mean," Walter said.

"Why all of this? Why now?" I asked.

Blushing, Walter said, "I've met someone. I suppose I want to see you and Alex as happy as I am."

"A guy? Is that why you're suddenly interested in gay rights?" I asked.

"I'll tell you when I'm ready," Walter replied.

I never knew Walter Skinner had dimples. There had never been a lot of occasions for him to smile when I worked for him. He grinned at me.

"I think Alex would laugh in my face if I asked him to marry me," I said.

I stabbed my beef roll and attacked it as if it was the problem. Alex hadn't answered me when I said I loved him. We had great sex together. We slept in each other's arms sometimes. We shared chores, were raising a son together, and were having what felt like a damn good life together. I still wondered if Alex was with me because he felt as I did or if this was just another manifestation of his will to survive.

The guys hacked into the old project records and the new ones at the Hoover. The psychological evaluations on Alex painted a picture already familiar to me. My beloved was a pragmatic, intelligent survivor with situational morals. He showed signs of trauma, but, although wary and hardened, he was psychologically sound.

I had no doubt that Alex loved Jacob as much as any child could be loved. Like most of us, Alex saw his child as a person he could give what he felt he lacked in his childhood. He wanted Jacob to be as normal, as safe, and as happy as he could be with two fathers like us.

Walter finished eating a bite of the thick stew he had ordered. He swallowed with evident enjoyment. "I think you are damn wrong, Mulder."

"Did Alex say something about wanting to be married?" I asked. I didn't know how I felt about him talking to Walter when we hadn't even ventured into discussing how we felt about the upcoming law.

"No, but he's made it clear that he wants to live with you for the rest of his life," Walter said. "You can bet Scully and I had some heart to heart discussions when he first turned up. He persuaded us both that he loves you, loves Jacob, and had no interest in taking over the world."

Damn right about that. Alex's interests centered on our son. At least they did as long as Spender was alive. I know he was terrified of the old man, paranoid about any sign that Spender might be watching us. He ran a deep background on our neighbor's neighbors. Hell, when 2-D changed diaper services, Alex interrogated the poor delivery man for two hours. The guy was so terrified that he refused to return to the route. I had to pay the difference between the older, more expensive company and the one that refused services to smooth things over with the Tom and Charlotte Milligan in 2-D.

Alex wasn't sorry. He looked at me with eyes harder than I had seen since he had come back into my life and said, "We should find him and kill him. Once he is dead, I can stop worrying."

I had to agree with Alex. If Spender popped up in my sights, he was dead. I might have a nightmare or two if I killed my biological father, but they would have to take their turn with all the other nightmares. I wouldn't hesitate. Jacob may have been created in a laboratory, but he wasn't going to be raised in one.

"Walter, thank you for whatever you are trying to do, but I don't think we're ready for that. I'm not sure if we ever will be," I said. "Alex and I are hardly a picture of domestic bliss."

"You seem happy to me," Walter said. "Mulder, there was a time when I doubted that any of us would live through the invasion, but we lived. Isn't it time we had something to celebrate?"

Walter was right about that. I think I passed through something like the five stages of grief. I had so much to mourn and so much anger toward the institutions that failed so completely to protect us. When I joined the FBI, I was in the bargaining stage. If I was a good agent, if I poured every ounce of energy into my work, I would find Samantha and I would have the family I was supposed to have.

The family I wanted to reunite never existed. There was so much I didn't understand as a child or even as an adult. My parents didn't stop loving each other the night that Samantha was taken. If my parents had ever loved each other, they had grown apart before I was born.

Finding out about Spender was like losing who I thought I was. Yet, I was relieved. I wondered if something about me was fundamentally unlovable because of the way my father treated me. Knowing that I was the result of my mother's betrayal made me realize why my father had always been cold to me. All my years of trying to please him were in vain. He was not the kind of man who could learn to love another's man's son. It was hard to see my mother as a passionate woman behind her wall of manners, but she was. I think she loved Charles Spender and he cared for her as much as he could care for anyone.

I spent too much of my adult life looking for redemption, trying to go back and change the past. Towards the end, when Scully and I were together, I felt like a hollow man. I wanted to have the happy ending. I wanted to be the man Scully needed me to be, but I couldn't change. I spent my entire life, telling myself that I had no right to an ordinary life, ordinary happiness. I didn't have the characteristics of a contented husband and father.

I also had to admit that Spock's words from Amok Time were all too true. Having was not always as good as wanting. I had admired Scully, wanted her, built fantasies about her, and adored her. Somehow it never struck me how different she was from me. Scully was raised in a loving family. When I first met her, she had a normal social life, friends, and was on the fast track at the bureau. I took most of that from her.

Yeah, I know. Scully was an intelligent adult able to make her choices. I blamed myself for her troubles. More than once she let me know that she blamed me too. I thought I owed her a normal life. I still did. That's why I let her tell me that I wasn't happy and that I needed to find out what would make me happy.

I was reasonably sure that nothing could make me happy. Honestly, that's part of the reason I let Alex stay. I thought there was nothing he could do to make my life worse. Instead, he has made my life better. He's a quick tempered, stubborn bastard, but I love him. I wish I could be sure he felt the same about me.

Walter was polishing his bowl with a piece of bread. He grunted at me, reverting to cave boss. "Eat up, Mulder. We have work to do."

That was the Walter I could understand.


M

ulder had forgotten the baby formula again. When I called for delivery, the line was busy and Jacob was going to want his bottle soon. I knew he should be weaned from it soon, but I hated to make him sad. Poor kid didn't even have a mother...just a pair of mother fuckers as family. Why take away his bottle? He might be eighteen months old now, but he was still a baby. I had bought him a couple toddler cups and he used them sometimes. Scully thought I should just put away the bottles cold turkey, but Jacob is my kid. I was going to do things my way.

I bundled Jacob into one of those one piece snowsuits. It wasn't snowing, but the rain and the wind were cold and felt like icy fingers pulling at your clothes. I put Jacob in the stroller. He grinned that Mulder grin and kicked his feet. The kid loved going out. Who wouldn't? Every where he went women were all over him. Some hopeful guys too. It was amazing how many people would flirt with you if you have a cute kid in tow.

Sometimes I wished I had a ring on my finger. I had the only person I had ever wanted more than I wanted to survive. No one else could compete with Mulder. I had it bad for the man.

The brown fake leather diaper bag was my favorite. Scully said it was a Dad bag. She thought I liked it because it didn't have teddy bears or lurid colored butterflies on it. She was wrong. I liked teddy bears and I wasn't worried about my masculinity. I felt like a man even if I was sucking a dick or taking it in the ass. I knew what I was. No, I liked the bag because it had room for all of Jacob's needs and a nice dry compartment for an extra gun. I still favored a small of the back holster for my main piece, but I always carried a back up and the diaper bag was more convenient than Mulder's ankle holster. The only thing I liked about that arrangement was watching Mulder's ass when he put it on.

Mulder had bought me a warm down jacket. I wore that instead of the leather jacket he has also bought me. I had money, but Mulder was always bringing me stuff. I had a feeling he still thought my money was dirtier than his, but we didn't argue about it anymore. If he wanted to throw his money away on me, that was his problem.

Jacob kicked his boot off. How he could do that bundled up like a mummy was beyond me, but Mulder had a habit of losing his clothes too. I put the boot back on and said, "Jacob, you have to wear your boots if we're going outside."

"Go," Jacob said. "Go!"

Jacob already said two word sentences. He even said a three word sentence the other day. "Want man go."

The inspiration was a reporter sent over to interview Mulder. The man was irritating the hell out of Mulder, who, for once, was trying to practice his social skills. I kept Jacob in the bedroom for a while, but that got old fast. Jacob had a little alcove of a room for his crib and his dresser, but we had to keep his toys in the living room. I brought some of them in our bedroom, but Jacob wanted his Thomas the Tank. I hadn't brought that toy because it ran on a track we had to set up in the living room.

Jacob's baby Mulder lip quivered when I told him 'no'. I know you have to set limits so I stood my ground. Jacob had a healthy set of lungs and used them well. It wasn't long before Mulder came in to see what the problem was. Of course, he wanted to allow Jacob to come out and play with the train.

The reporter stuck his head in the door and asked, "Do you want to finish this interview or are you too busy playing house?"

Jacob had stopped crying when Mulder picked him up. The boy knows a mark when he sees one. He had a thumb in his mouth and snot running from his nose. He took the thumb out, pointed at the reporter and said, "Want man go."

Mulder was so excited that he swung Jacob around in a circle. "He's a genius," Mulder said.

The reporter started to say something, but Mulder shoved him out the door before it could come out. He said, "Not now, Alex and I have to celebrate."

We ended up playing with the train set, eating ice cream and cookies, and then watched one of Jacob's Thomas videos. That's another item on my torture list. I couldn't stand more than one Thomas the Tank video a day. Mulder could watch them all day. I think his judgment was warped from the simple plots in all those porn movies.

Jacob kicked his feet, but I managed to get his boot back on anyway. The way I see it; parenthood is like anything else. If you sign on, you should intend to complete the job. I don't have a perfect record, but the only things I really botched in my career are things having to do with Mulder. He always threw me off my game. Love makes you crazy.

About being a parent, I knew my father hadn't done his job. He didn't protect me. He used me to buy his way into the game. Every time I look at Jacob, I promise him that I will fight to keep him safe to my dying breath. He will have a good life,

The only store near enough to go on foot was run by a Korean family. The younger generation spoke excellent English. They were at school during the day, though. Mr. Cho spoke only a few words, but we communicated in my flawed Chinese. He appreciated having someone with whom he could communicate even if it was in a foreign language. I think he ignored the relationship between Mulder and myself, although he admired Jacob and spoiled him when we came in.

Today I passed the time with Mr. Cho then picked up the bare necessities, Jacob's Good Start, some toilet paper, and a six pack of Coke for me. Coke is one of my few vices. I'm addicted to it. I paid for the items and packed them into the bottom of the stroller. Waving to Mr. Cho, I maneuvered the stroller out the door and headed for home. As I passed a window, I thought I saw someone following me, but when I turned around, there was no one. My instincts were to pursue, but Jacob's babble brought me back to reality.

I felt like there was a target on my back. I ducked in and out, using my fellow pedestrians as shields. By the time, I arrived home, I was panting. I rushed Jacob into his bedroom. When we had remodeled, we had ordered walls that could stop armor piercing ammunition for Jacob's room.

After making Jacob his bottle, I waited, ready for anything, eyes on my surveillance cameras until I saw Mulder come in the front door. He entered the code to the apartment door, walked into the entry and looked at me with bemused eyes.

"Feeling nostalgic?"

"What?" I asked.

"It's been a long time since we greeted each other with a gun in hand," Mulder pointed out.

"Yeah, someone was following us," I said. "I went out with Jacob to buy some formula and someone tailed us."

"Did you id them?" Mulder asked. "You okay?"

"I just caught a glimpse," I said. "I didn't get a good look, but it could have been one of Spender's goons."

"Or could have been a panhandler or someone window shopping," Mulder said.

"I have good instincts," I said, "They kept me alive against the odds."

Nodding, Mulder gently moved the gun muzzle aside. I got the point and put it away. Jacob had been wailing since he heard Mulder come in. He has instincts, too, and I think he knew I was upset.

Mulder came out with Jacob on his hip. He was pulling his tie off as he walked. I went over and took it from him. He grabbed me and kissed my cheek. Mulder knows how to kiss. I dropped his tie, body and mind melting under his spell.

Jacob's chubby fist pushed us apart. I have to admit there are times I wonder what it would be like to have a few days alone with Mulder, but I don't trust anyone else but us with Jacob. Look at all the crap that happened with William in the bad old days.

"Kid is jealous," Mulder observed, shifting Jacob to his hip.

"He just wants your attention," I said. I went to grill a couple steaks for dinner. Mulder still doesn't care what he has for dinner, but I like to eat and I was hungry for protein at the moment. Mulder flipped through the mail. "A lot of holiday cards," Mulder remarked. "We going to do Christmas for Jacob?"

Last year there hadn't been time or much of a reason. Jacob didn't know a present from a hole in the wall last year. Now he really got a kick of unwrapping gifts. He managed to get his grimy paws on a wedding present for Monica Reyes and had a grand time ripping it open. I don't know what he made of the silver serving tray, but he loved the pretty paper.

"Yeah," I said. "Kid deserves a Christmas unless you want to go all Jewish on me."

Mulder snorted. He wasn't much of a believer in organized religion although he had flirted with his mother's former religion to annoy his father. Teena Mulder's mother was Jewish although it was not a fact she cared to repeat to anyone. Mulder had found it out doing family research. He told me he briefly considered having a bar mitzvah just to annoy her, but the rabbi he found to teach him annoyed him even more than his mother's minister.

I was raised Russian Orthodox although my father was not a religious man. Mom took comfort from the church and took me. I remember believing as a child, but all of that was taken from me when my father delivered me to the project. I prayed to my mother's God with all my heart, but I received neither comfort nor rescue.

The ritual of the church stayed with me. I loved the ceremony and the beauty of the orthodox rites. I had brought Jacob to be baptized with Mulder's permission. I didn't believe, but why not hedge the bet for our son?

Russians celebrate Christmas differently, but Mom had adapted to American customs. I remember the trees of my childhood, glittering with glass and ornaments. Mom had a set of Russian nesting dolls for ornaments. I always loved those things. I wanted Jacob to have good memories like that. I know the world would bring him troubles, but let him face them with the strength of a childhood full of love and beauty.

"Yeah, a tree," Mulder said. "Let's do it."

With Jacob bundled, Mulder and I were ready to go out. I saw Mulder check his ankle holster and made no comment. Mulder might not be sure that I was followed, but he would be ready if there was trouble.

We brought along the stroller so we could look around the tree lot. No one even gave us a second look, not even when Mulder held my hand for a while. I didn't pull away instantly. It felt too good to let my fear kick in. I waited until Mulder let go to examine a Balsam Fir. I was more interested in the living trees in a nearby row. Mulder drifted over to where I was standing and grinned. He said, "If we buy one, where will we plant it?"

"Scully has a yard," I said.

Mulder picked up his cell phone and hit the send. "Scully, it's me."

It took a few moments to arrange for Scully to adopt our tree after Christmas. I think she was pleased that Mulder was doing something normal at Christmas. We paid for the tree and arranged to have it delivered since it would never fit in Mulder's sedan. The tree would have to adjust to the indoor life gradually in the storage room in the basement before we could take inside and decorate it. I wonder what Jacob would make of an inside tree? I suspect he thought we were loons anyway.

A dark car followed us for a while. It faded back when Mulder slowed, but I saw by his expression that he didn't believe it was an accident that the car was with us even when he drove around a block.

Mulder's mouth was set in that ugly expression I had seen so often aimed at me. His eyes were narrow slits, rage in their intense gaze.

"Why can't they leave us alone? Why can't that old bastard climb back to hell?" Mulder asked.

I had no answer. I was just glad we were together on this.


D

espite sensing the watching eyes, Alex and I continued to prepare for the holiday. I think Alex was looking forward to Christmas. He smiled often and I heard his wonderful laugh ripple as Jacob encountered some new aspect of life.

The tree was small, but it still took up too much room. I didn't complain when I saw the green reflected in Alex's eyes.

"It looks as if the backlash is going to pass the marriage law," I said.

"Hurray for the backlash," Alex said, making a paper plane out of a scrap of wrapping paper. He flew it across the room to land in the tree. Jacob toddled over to the barrier we had placed around the tree

"You ever think about getting married?" I asked as Alex retrieved the paper airplane.

Jacob reached for the plane, saying, "Mine." That was his new favorite word.

Alex let our boy take the plane. Jacob launched the plane clumsily. Its flight only went a few inches from Jacob, but he was thrilled at his success, clapping his hands before retrieving the colorful plane. Damp toddler hands quickly incapacitated the plane, but Alex made more until Jacob was ready to be distracted with part of a banana and a cookie. The rest of the banana went in Alex's mouth. He observed, "This is how moms get fat. There's a market for toddler sized fruit, mini bananas and apples."

"I'll still love you if you get fat," I promised.

Watching Alex's ass as he picked up the squadron of downed paper planes was a pleasure more intense than watching my porn collection. Nothing like knowing that you really can get some of that.

Alex snorted when he caught what I was looking at. "You've seen it, you've played with it, and you have it pretty much any time you want it."

"I've had my tongue up it too," I added. "Still can't get enough of it."

A quirk of a smile crossed Alex's face. He said, "You know the way Jacob is learning words, we are going to have to stop talking about stuff like that. Give the kid a chance to develop his own ideas about sex."

"What? You think he's going to be straight?" I said. "If it's in the genes, he doesn't have a chance."

"I don't know. We've both been with women. He might have inherited a double dose of that," Alex said.

"You care if he's gay or straight?" I asked.

"No," Alex said. "As long as he's happy. So the law's a good thing. In case he wants to do that, get married."

"Do you? Do you want to get married?"

Alex dropped the handful of Christmas wrap planes. He stared at me. "You and me? That's crazy!"

"We're crazy," I said. I walked over to pick up the wrap and place it in the garbage. "I think I could handle being crazy with you for the rest of my life."

"Why?" Alex asked. "It wasn't as if you went looking for me. I kind of forced my way into your life. Again."

I love the truth, but Mr. Spock was my childhood hero. An unspoken truth is not a lie. Yet I found the words tumbling from my mouth. "You and Jacob were the best thing that ever happened to me."

"Jacob is wonderful, no matter how he came to be," Alex said, his eyes were downcast, eyelashes shadowing his expressive eyes. I think I fell in love with that look before I knew I could ever feel that way about him. I think I frightened and hurt him just to see that lovely sight. So much better to be offered this vision without the harsher emotions of the past.

"It's not just Jacob," I said. "If I had been able to see you, the real you, I would have loved you from the start."

Alex ducked his head again. He shook his head dismissively.

I had never felt comfortable with love. The few times I had said the word, I had been laughed at for saying it. Even Scully laughed at me when I babbled it to her after being rescued from the Bermuda Triangle. I didn't think I could handle it if Alex laughed at me.

Alex didn't laugh. He walked over and cleaned Jacob up. The boy was head to toe banana. After Jacob returned to playing with his Thomas the Tank train set, Alex sat next to me on the couch. I reached my arm toward him and he sighed, leaning into me.

"Whose idea was it that you ask me to marry you?"

"Hey, what makes you think it wasn't my idea?" I said.

"Yeah, Mulder."

Alex didn't look at me. He just leaned into my arms, almost purring as I stroked him.

"You don't have to give me anything or prove anything to me," Alex finally said.

"What if I want to? What if I want to see you standing next to me in a tuxedo? What if I want to put a ring on your finger?"

"You know Mulder, I'd think it would be more your style to put a ring on my cock and maybe have a fantasy about me in a wedding dress."

"I'll take both those ideas under consideration."

"If the law passes and if you're sure you want to do this," Alex said. "I'm going to say yes. Yes, I want to marry you. I want to be with you as for long as you will let me."

That was worth a long kiss and a promise of more when Jacob went down for a nap.


I

thought it was a crazy idea that Mulder had and that it would pass from his head once I said 'yes'. You say 'no' to Mulder and it's waving a red flag at a bull. I won't pretend that I object to the idea. It was romantic and I haven't had much of that in my life. You wouldn't believe it, but I was a romantic kid. Zhenya and I dreamed of a future where we would tell his parents about us and live in cottage 'like we were married.'

I wonder what became of Zhenya although I didn't look for him. He was the past. Mulder was not only my present; he was all of my future. Zhenya was the best introduction to sex that I could have had. He was gentle and loving, inventive and, for our age, he knew a lot. I sometimes think that Zhenya was the boy Mulder would have been if he had a better family.

Mulder, scarred, bitter at times, was who I was now. I was strong enough to withstand his hate. I hope I'm strong enough for his love.

The truth is I keep expecting Mulder to wake up someday and push me out of his bed. It's not my self esteem. I have my share of ego. Modesty was never my forte and my attitude gets me in trouble all the time, but it still amazed me that Mulder could love me. I guess it was love or hate between us, nothing in the middle.


I wondered what Skinner was thinking? I don't think he's up to something. We've made our peace, but I don't know why he thinks Mulder and I need to be married. I'll have a chance to ask him in a few days. The bureau is paying me to go over some of the project records and make sure they got all the plants in the FBI. A lot of them turned to green goo at the end, but some of them were like me, sleepers. Then there were the ones bought by money or ambition. Lots of those.

Mulder was spending the day with Jacob at Scully's. I had to suppress a surge of jealousy. She was engaged to a nice doctor...he was a good guy, a pediatrician who was crazy about kids and head over heels in love with Scully.

Maybe getting married was a good idea. I had married kind of feelings about him; wanting to be part of his life forever. I couldn't stand the thought of him touching someone else. He was mine. I was his.

I love William; he's Mulder's son. I have to love him. I like Scully. I think we are friends although the idea shocks me. Part of me still fears Scully. She's Mulder's partner. They could be apart fifty years and she would still be his partner and best friend. I kicked myself. I was Mulder's lover. I was the one who made him scream in pleasure. I was the one he wanted to...marry.


I

t felt strange being here. I had been back once or twice before. Skinner had questioned me here after I escaped from Spender. A couple faces turned toward me. Most of the agents that might have known me had moved on, up the ladder, retired, or purged after the Project was exposed.

Skinner had a new personal assistant. She was cute and had red hair the exact shade of Scully's. She looked a lot like Scully. The way Skinner smiled at the woman made me think that Mulder was wrong about Skinner's new love being male. A work place affair was just as good a reason for him keeping his affair private.

"Sit down, Alex. We have a lot of material to cover," Walter said. He pushed a stack of folders at me.

"How was this found?" I asked, as I found a personnel file from the Hoover. It was an agent I did not know, either as an FBI agent or as someone who reported to Spender. That didn't mean much. Spender kept his secrets. I knew more of them than most people since I actively spied on Spender from the first. One of the things I learned from Spender is that knowledge is power and I wanted power after the way I had been used as a child.

"Agent Nichols committed suicide last week," Skinner said. "He left a note for me to look in his basement. There were boxes of files. His son died of cancer a few days before, the black oil related cancer. The son had been a trainee at the academy before the symptoms showed up."

"Blackmail," I said, knowing Spender's games very well. "The son's health for the father's honor."

"You know that game," Walter said.

"I don't pretend that I was ever a little white lamb."

Walter nodded and shoved more files in my direction. "Are these all dirty or did Spender keep files for information only?"

I flipped through the files, skimming them, separating them into stacks. I put the ones I knew were Spender's in one pile, names and faces that belonged to people I knew nothing about in another. A few seemed familiar. I isolated them so I could read them carefully and find out what pinged on my radar.

"These are dirty," I said.

Walter looked unhappy. He said, "Ten agents, one on the short list for a vacant AD list. Are you sure?"

"About these?" I said, "They were on the take. I remember them from a list in Spender's office. A few of them were probably blackmailed if that makes a difference."

"It might make a difference in their sentencing," Walter said. "We offered amnesty."

"At the cost of their jobs," I said. "Some of them want to be agents. It was important to them."

"Was it to you?" Walter asked. His eyes seemed friendly.

I think Walter knew the answer. I wondered if I had been like some of these agents, a normal ambitious young agent from some decent family, would I have still succumbed to Spender's wiles? I hoped not. I hoped that Alex would have been Mulder's partner in reality. I closed my eyes a moment, regretting the man I was not.

Yet, I have a certain pride in who I am now. I survived against all odds. When Jacob looked at me, he didn't judge me. I was his da. I was his safety and I rocked his world as he did mine.

I said, "I liked being an agent. I think I was good at it."

Walter laughed. "You were. I wondered why you were being wasted on Mulder. You were smart and ambitious, good academy record...if it was authentic."

That pissed me off. I didn't need anyone to fake my academy record. I worked hard for my ratings. I would have been a good agent if Spender had left me to be one. I said, "I went through the academy like any other agent. I earned every score in my file."

A quirk of a smile crossed Walter's broad face. He said, "I don't doubt it."

"What about these?" Walter asked, pointing to the files I had separated as agents I had never known to be mentioned in any of Spender's reports.

I went back over them, double checking. I could see a pattern. They were agents who had investigated cases that encroached on aspects of the project. I said, "To the best of my knowledge, these agents never worked for Spender. I think he had the files for the same reason he had files on Agent Scully and Doggett. They were problems to him and he kept his eye on problems. How did Nichols get them?"

"You would have liked Nichols. He tried to get enough on Spender to blackmail him right back. Unfortunately, he must have alerted Spender somehow. Spender triggered the cancer in Nichols' son."

"He's a bastard."

"I wish I could be sure he can't do that to Scully," Walter said.

"Scully's cure is permanent," I said. "I'm sure. I saw the records."

Manipulating Spender into curing Scully was one of my finer accomplishments. I convinced Spender that giving Scully a kid would screw both her and Mulder. Then I made it clear that I hated the idea of Scully and Mulder being together. That was the final incentive.

The funny thing is that it was true. I hated the idea, but I was afraid Mulder would go crazy if he lost Scully too. I thought my life was over. It was a selfless act on my part to try to make Mulder happy. I gave him what I thought he wanted. How was I to know he wanted me?


W

alter and I worked through lunch and dinner. My eyes were getting tired and I missed Jacob. I wasn't used to concentrating on paperwork for this long any more. I had to read all of the 'in doubt' files and then check the data base of Project records.

Mulder called to check on me, allowing Jacob to babble into the phone. I asked him if there had been any problems. Mulder said there was a car that drove by slowly when he and Scully were out in the yard with the boys. It sped up when he moved toward the fence.

"You should have been more careful," I said. "You don't have a charmed life."

Mulder said I worried too much.

Mulder doesn't worry enough.


W

alter drove me to Scully's house so Mulder and I could go home together. He said, "I was eavesdropping. Mulder didn't mention that you were having problems. You think it's Spender?"

"I know it's Spender," I said. "He will never let go of Mulder."

"He seems to have a fascination with you," Walter said. "If you need help, call me any time."

It was a sincere offer. Walter had been damn decent to me, considering our history. I had always seen him as just another pawn in Spender's game. Because I saw Spender give him orders, which he obeyed, I thought he was like my father- a guy who would do anything to further his ambition. I was wrong. I didn't see the times that Walter stood up to Spender and to his superiors in rank. I didn't learn to respect Walter until he was under my control. I had to almost kill him to break him. I saw a man I did not expect, a strong, almost savage fighter, masked behind the appearance of a bureaucrat. Walter has helped me for Jacob and Mulder's sake, but I think we understood each other now.

I said, "I may take you up on that, but I'm going to tell you. If I find Spender, there will be no trial."

"I'm a good hand with a shovel," Walter said.

I looked at Walter and I saw he was serious. I nodded and said, "I may take you up on that."

Walter nodded and we stopped talking about it.

Spender prided himself on trusting no one and manipulating all the people who might have been important in his life. He tried to teach me that and nearly succeeded. Love was a weakness, he said. Spender was wrong. If someone asked me if I would trade the rest of my life for one more year with Mulder and Jacob, I would think it was a bargain. Now I know what it felt like to really be alive.


I

t had been a while since my phone rang in the night. I heard Scully's voice telling me that William was running a high fever. Alex woke instantly when the phone rang so I explained as I pulled clothing on. Jacob must have heard the phone, too since his voice called, "Da Da!"

I said, "I'll call you from the hospital."

For some reason, memories of Emily flooded through me. Her brief life and death had awakened Scully's obsession with becoming a mother. I remembered being at the hospital with her, watching the cloned child suffer and die. I knew William was not like Emily. He was human. He had trace elements of some alien genome as I did, but over all, he had no significant differences from any other child. Kids had fevers.

Alex, Jacob balanced on his hip, handed me my coat. I kissed him and said, "Take care of our son."

"Always," Alex said. "William will be all right."

I tried to smile, hoping Alex was right.

The trip across town to the Children's Hospital was excruciating. The traffic moved at a snail's pace when it moved at all. I ran up the steps to the emergency room and looked around. Scully wasn't there. Her mother wasn't there either and I knew Margaret Scully would have waded through hell to get to a sick grandchild. Maybe they were in a treatment room...

I rushed to the information desk. The thin receptionist ignored me while she finished making a notation on her computer. "I'm Fox Mulder. My son, William Scully Mulder, is here with his mother, Dana Scully."

The woman shook her head, but checked her screen. Her long fingernails were painted a brilliant red with tiny poinsettias inset in the scarlet polish. I watched them as she scrolled through admissions. She checked a stack of clipboards and then shook her head. She said, "I'm sorry, Sir, there is no William Mulder here."

My first thought was that something had happened to Scully and William. My throat felt as if it was being crushed by a giant hand. I couldn't breathe. I had remembered to turn off my cell phone. Leaving the hospital, I speed dialed Scully. Her voice sounded calm and somewhat irritated. She said, "Mulder, I'm on a date."

"You called me from the hospital," I said. "William had a high fever."

"As far as I know, William is fine. He's at my mother's." Scully said, "I'll call my Mom to see if she called you. I'll call you right back."

It was Scully's voice I had heard. I ran back to my car and got in, waiting for Scully to call me back. It only took a few minutes, but if felt like eternity. Scully said, "He's fine. I woke my Mother up. She didn't call you."

I was getting a sick feeling. Someone had wanted me out of my apartment. I said, "Alex, Jacob."

Scully said, "I'm calling Walter. I'll meet you there."

I spared one moment to wonder what her date thought about her running to help her former husband and his gay lover in the late hours of the night.


Alex didn't answer the phone. He always answered the phone. I wished I had a siren to cut through the heavy traffic. I called Scully and told her there was no answer at my apartment.


W

hen I arrived, my door was shut but the alarm was not set. Gun in hand, I entered. Everything looked normal except Jacob and Alex were gone. When I looked, Jacob's clothing and toys were gone. Alex's clothes were gone too. I think they meant me to believe they had willingly left me. However, Alex and I had a prearranged signal for trouble. I had bought him a stuffed toy, a sleek rat with green eyes. I saw that the rat lying on the floor. Alex always kept it out of Jacob's reach. He wouldn't have left it. He adored that rat.

I collapsed on the couch, clutching the rat. I knew it was my father's work. Spender would not be content with merely taking my lover and my child. He had to add his sinister twist, setting the scene to make it look as if Alex had taken Jacob and left me.

When I had the strength to search, the door bell rang. I greeted Walter and Scully with m gun in hand.

"Mulder, put that away," Walter ordered.

Grimacing, I obeyed. Walter said, "Alex?"

"They're gone," I said. "Spender has them."

"How do you know?" Walter asked. "Did he leave you a note? What does he want?"

"I don't need a note," I said. "I know how Spender thinks."

Scully walked past us to search. A few moments later, she said, "Jacob's clothing is gone."

I could hear her heels click into my bedroom. She said, "Mulder, Alex took his clothing too. Have you been fighting?"

"No, we have not been fighting," I said. I walked into the bedroom, looking around for a clue. The bed was made. Alex never made the bed. It was an endearing foible in a man who could be excessively neat. I pulled back the covers and looked. There was still a trace of a wet spot from last night. We had slipped off the towel Alex put down to protect the bed. Part of the top sheet was under the mattress. I pulled it out and saw a blood streak.

"Scully," I said. She walked over and looked.

"That wasn't there when you left?"

I frowned at her and said, "You think Alex and I are into blood sports?"

Scully blushed and said, "Cut that piece off. I'll do a DNA analysis."

Skinner grunted. He said, "Alex has video surveillance set up."

"Since when?" I asked. He hadn't said anything to me.

"Since the first time he thought he was followed," Walter said. "I have the password for his computer files. The feed goes directly to the computer."

"Why didn't he tell me?" I asked.

"He didn't want to bother you and he wanted me to know in case something happened to all of you," Walter answered, going to Alex's computer.

I accepted it, not gracefully, but I suppose my doubt was something Alex could not handle. We loved each other very much, but trust was not something either of us was good at.

Walter found the program and located today's files. They had surprised Alex with a recording of my voice. I heard myself say, "Alex, let me in. I forgot my keys."

Alex answered and was greeted by a knockout punch. He went down and they dragged him into the apartment. Spender strolled into my home, puffing on his damn cigarette. He had a woman with him. She went into Jacob's room and came out with my son, screaming.

Spender said, "Give the boy a shot. I don't want any noise."

Alex woke up as they were injecting Jacob. I had forgotten how quick and savage he could be. I heard the sound of someone's bone breaking on the clip. Alex made it to Jacob's side, grabbing him away from the woman. He headed for the bedroom. We had fortified the door so if Alex had managed to shut it, it might have bought him enough time to call for help. Unfortunately, Spender's men were quick too. There was a struggle at the door and Alex lost. The feed in the bedroom caught part of Alex being knocked onto the bed. He fell across it, dragging the bedding down with him. I saw a foot raised and then connect with Alex's head.

The rest of the clip showed Spender's men packing bags of Jacob and Alex's clothing and belongings as Spender watched. My son was asleep in the woman's careless arms, slung like a worthless bag of junk over her shoulder.

I wondered how they would get Alex out. It wasn't the bad old days. Someone would call the police if they carried him out like a body. A moment later, I saw the plan. Yet another of Spender's minions brought a wheelchair into the apartment. Alex was propped into it, covered with a blanket. The entire operation was completed in less than twenty minutes. Spender paused in the doorway and said, "Now you are free for better things, my boy."

I don't think Spender knew he was being recorded. Otherwise he wouldn't have bothered with the pretense of taking Jacob and Alex's clothing. It was just Spender's nature to gloat.


A

ll too many times I woke up in situations similar to this. I was naked, lying on the bare floor of a cell. My head, my jaw, and my neck hurt like hell. My ribs ached too. Someone had kicked me in the ribs while I was down. I stayed down, slowly opening my eyes. I was in no hurry to rejoin the world.

Spender's voice greeted me with, "By this time, your darling Fox is finding out that you have betrayed him again. With any luck, he'll give you up as the trash you are."

"Must be worth something," I answered, forcing myself to sit up without screaming in pain. I leaned back against the wall as if totally unafraid of my situation. "You've spent a great deal of time and money to get me back."

"Don't flatter yourself, Alex," Spender said. "You were an afterthought. I was after what was mine. Jacob is my son. I will raise him as a worthy heir. Perhaps I will keep you until the time comes when he will prove to be everything I need him to be and execute you as his rite of manhood."

There was nothing to say to that. The truth was I would kill Jacob myself to keep Spender from destroying his humanity. Spender did enough damage to me and I wasn't a baby when he got his hooks into me.

I hoped it wouldn't come to that. Mulder would be searching for me and he would have help. I knew we could count on Walter and Scully. I imagine Doggett and Reyes would help too.

"What did you want with a child anyway" Spender asked. "Was the boy a ticket into my son's bed? You couldn't have insinuated yourself into his life any other way."

That might be true, but Mulder said I made his life sing. He said he was dying inside before Jacob and I exploded into his life. I was silent. Let Spender think I was defeated. I could wait, no matter what Spender did to me. I had endured much in my life, but now I knew what was worth all the pain and fear.


T

he twisted and evil man who is my biological father uses technology, but doesn't trust it. Alex told me that Spender typed his pathetic attempts at mystery writing on an old manual typewriter. I loved technology myself and Alex has a fantastic grasp of what was available for him to use.

I had argued when Alex said we should put a chip in Jacob. I remember saying 'he isn't a pup, Alex, nor is he part of the project for your aliens to track.'

Alex looked at me with that edge of contempt I used to see frequently in his eyes. He said, "He's isn't an ordinary child either. He's a kid who is in constant danger. You want to have some kind of moral scruples about his privacy or you want to be able to track him if Spender grabs him?"

Much as I felt like fighting about it, Alex was right. I agreed and allowed them to chip Alex and myself too. These weren't just the information chips that they used for dogs; these were a modified form of the tracking chips used by the aliens. They would not harm us, but, with the proper equipment, we could find Jacob almost any place on earth.

I had the equipment. It was not kept at our apartment. Alex had rented an office in an old warehouse to keep some of the things we did not want to keep where anyone could find them. That certainly included the tracking device for the chips. Walter had gone to the office to mobilize whomever he could recruit without officially opening a kidnap case.

Scully checked on William again. She pulled up the spaghetti strap of her green dress and said, "I thought my days of wardrobe damage were over when we stopped working together."

Sitting on a box, Scully watched me plug in the computer which processed the tracking equipment. The two chips were close together. The coordinates seemed to indicate that my son and my love were in the area of Buggs Island Lake in Virginia. I wanted to jump in the car and go to them, but Scully said, "Spender might try to get away with Jacob, but he'll kill Alex. We need to have the help that Walter is bringing. Let us help you, Mulder."

I had always prided myself at being a loner. I had seldom called on anyone except Scully and the Lone Gunmen. Now it was hard to work with a team. I think one of my fears was that that no one but me would care if Alex came out of this alive or dead. Scully's words comforted me. She hugged me, all sweet warmth and caring. I reached up, pulling her head down to rest against mine. At that moment, I needed her strength. I felt like the boy I had been when Samantha was taken.

Scully called Walter. He had our team together and was on his way to meet us

Trying to remember Alex's instructions, I tweaked the program to see if I could pin point the location. Buggs Lake had acres of park land, vacation lodges, farms, and homes. I pulled up a grid and tried to zero in on the two blinking cursors. I moved my mouse too quickly and lost track, ending up expanding my grid into the waters of Lake Kerr. I groaned in frustration and went back to the beginning.

In the background, Scully quietly made arrangements for her mother to keep William for a few days. Walter had arranged protection for him.


I

woke from a dream of drinking champagne. Mulder and I were being married. I was wearing a beautiful tuxedo. Mulder was wearing his Speedo. Walter Skinner was the minister, turning an interrogation spotlight on me when he asked me if I would be faithful to Mulder. Ringo Langly, one of Mulder's geek buddies, had danced up the aisle in a pink tutu, scattering rose petals as he skipped in front of us.

The champagne was cool and frothy. Mulder's eyes were intent on me as our arms entwined. We drank, but the passion in his eyes was more intoxicating than any wine.

The reality was that I was cold, sore, and very thirsty. No one had bothered to give me anything to eat and drink since I woke. Food wasn't on my list anyway. My stomach was a tight bunch from fear and anger. I was more enraged than afraid although fear had always been my friend in the past. It had kept my instincts sharp and saved my life more than once. Now, I wanted to shake the bars of my cage.

Spender came down, smoking as always. I noticed he looked very healthy. He must have found another alien healer to restore him. He smirked at me and said, "Jacob is an intelligent boy. He has already stopped crying for you."

If Jacob had stopped crying, it was not because he was no longer afraid and missing Mulder and I. He was probably exhausted and shutting down because of fear. I blinked my eyes to free myself from the vision of my son's solemn eyes gazing at a world that no longer held the love and safety which I had hoped was all he would know through his childhood.

"Give me another chance," I said. "You've always wanted to break me. I'm broken. I'll do anything you want. Just give Jacob back to Mulder."

"Why would I bargain for something I will have anyway?" Spender said. "You're nothing to me, Alex. The only reason I took you is to give my son a chance to come to his senses. Dana Scully was a very suitable partner for him in all respects. I admired that young woman."

God spare me from Spender's affections. He supposedly loved Mulder's mother. He took her youngest child. He broke up her marriage and tortured the son they made together. He gave Cassandra, his wife, to the aliens. He beat Jeff, his son, down mentally and abandoned him until he thought he could use him. He ruined Jeff's career, shot him, and subjected him to experiments that left him disfigured and in pain.

I walked over to the wall, sat down, and closed my eyes. Spender made a contemptuous sound and said, "Like an animal. To think I once thought you had potential!"

Listening to Spender walk away, my hands curled into fists. Give me the chance and I will rip his steaming intestines from his body with my bare hands and do my best to feed them to him before he dies.

Spender was overly confident. He had stripped me naked and I knew he had his men search my body cavities, but he could not have looked for the chip that should be sending information to Mulder. I had no wounds I had not had when I was dragged from my apartment. Hopefully, Jacob's tracer was also intact. I was glad I had won that battle.

I leaned back. My head throbbed and I hoped sleep would clear it. The more passive I was the sooner my captives would be disarmed and become careless. I trusted Mulder and our friends, but if I found a way to act prior to them coming to save us, I would do it.

The devil helps those who help themselves.


I

had finally narrowed Jacob and Alex's location within a few blocks of their actual location. The area was along the lake, mostly privately owned vacation homes, interspersed with the few surviving small farms.

Skinner entered the room, flanked by John Doggett and Monica Reyes. Kim Cook was with them, surprising me by her presence. I had never thought of her as more than part of Skinner's office furniture. Still grinning, Jimmy Bond entered, holding Yves Harlow's hand. Behind them, my belief was confirmed. Byers, Langly, and Frohike sheepishly waved at me.

Frohike said, "I guess our vacation is over."

I couldn't help hugging Frohike. As soon as I stood up to greet the man who might be my best friend in the world, Langly took my seat, his fingers flying over the keys. Moments later, he said, "14567 Point View Road. It changed hands about a year ago. The owner is a corporation which was created not too long before the property was purchased. It's supposed to be haunted by the ghosts of murdered slaves.

Walter's hands stopped me before I could get out the door. "Mulder, we will think this through and make a plan."

Walter was right, but I still wanted to hit him.


M

y internal clock was still working. It had been a day since Jacob and I were taken. I was hungry now and extremely thirsty. I had to use the bucket in the corner twice. Once to piss and, before, that, I had thrown up.

I calculated that it was early morning. The guards unlocked my cell long enough to shove a bowl of water through the door and then a can of generic nutritional supplement. One of them kept a gun on me while the other did the work.

As I drank the water, the larger of the men said, "He was supposed to drink it like a dog."

"The old man is crazy," the other man said. He was very pale with an extremely pock marked face. "Guy weirds me out. If he didn't pay good…."

The other guard was taller than me and a lot broader. He had a wide face with heavy features. I think he shaved in the dark by the amount of stubble he left. His lower lip was a mockery of Mulder's, heavy and drooping, but in him, the soft moist pink of his mouth seemed exposed. He had bad teeth and bad skin.

"He pays okay," the larger man said.

"Not enough considering that we are up here in this nowhere place where there's nothing worth buying," the tall slim man said. His hair was nearly white and was thin. He had a red nose and there was something about the way he moved that made me remember using speed to keep going when I was on the run in Hong Kong.

"You need some, I hear that pretty boy here takes it up the ass and likes it."

"That's not what I meant," the guy protested.

The big guy was crude as well as stupid. I don't think he realized the other guard was using. Drugs were a weakness. I can exploit a weakness more easily than the next man unless it was Spender.

I finished my meager meal and shoved the can and the bowl toward the door. The big guy said, "Bucket too."

Grumbling the big man left to empty and rinse the bucket. The drug user said, "Hey, you don't have to do that. I'll take it."

When the man came back, his eyes were brighter and he was moving faster. His bathroom trip has provided a cover for whatever he was doing.

Spender used to do a lot of drug testing. His standards had fallen.

I hid what used to pass for a smile before Mulder and I tamed each other. Eventually, they would let their guard down and I would be alone with this guy. I curled up as if sleeping, observing my guards through my lashes.


K

im and Jimmy Bond, in disguise, drove the weed spray van that was our cover vehicle. Inside, the gunmen and I monitored the computer that was tracking the chips. Both were still in the same area for now, but that didn't mean that Alex and Jacob were alive. On the lake, Walter, Monica Reyes, and Doggett fished while Scully and Yves monitored from the belly of the fishing boat.

What we were looking at was an ancient farm house set on a bluff overlooking the lake. It had a wall all the way around it.

Byers said, "This house was part of a larger estate. Supposedly, it's haunted by the ghosts of runaway slaves. One of the owners prior to the civil war was a bounty hunter for runaway slaves. He also was known for his ability to break slaves of running. He guaranteed that if the slave lived through the training, he or she would not run again. There are supposedly there are unmarked graves all over the place."

"Sounds like it might be one of Spender's ancestors," Langly said. He looked my way and winced, no doubt remembering that I was Spender's son.

"It's fair to say," I said. "Spender might be my father, but that doesn't make me feel better about him."

The slope down to the lake wasn't impossibly steep, but it was not the kind of lakefront that led to gracious entertaining. A long, winding wooden stairway led to a small dock, where a speed boat stood ready. A tall fence ran around the perimeter. It was raw and new, obviously installed when Spender bought this place.

Langly said, "It's wired, surveillance equipment, fail safe devices, and electrified."

"Did you bring toys?" I asked.

"Wouldn't leave home without them," Frohike said. He might be a few years older, but I couldn't see any difference. He could have been suspended in a time warp since the last time I saw him.

Peeling off his fingerless gloves, Frohike shoved them in his pocket. He sat at another terminal, listening to communications from the farm. He held up a hand to stop the conversation that Byers and Langly had started about the type of alarms being used. "Spender's talking to someone."

"Okay, kid's being moved," Frohike told us moments later.

"Then we need to move too," I said.

"Shit," Langly exclaimed. "Chip is moving. Straight up."

A helicopter took off from the front lawn. I watched the blip disappear from the screen.

"Lost it for right now," Langly said. "Alex is still inside."

"We can get him," I said.

"Better wait," Frohike advised, "at least for a while. If we get Alex, Spender is going to figure out that we have a way to trace Jacob. He's overly confident, but not stupid."

I didn't want to leave my lover in Spender's hands one moment longer, but Langly said, "You think Alex would want you to take a risk like that with the kid?"

No, he wouldn't. I punched the side of the van, bruising my knuckles.


T

he bigger guard left. As far as I could tell, the six men and the woman who came to the apartment were the total number Spender had at his command. Four of the men rotated through the duty of guarding me. From listening to my guards, the two other men were Spender's personal assistant, who drove the cars, piloted a helicopter, and ran errands for the old man and Dr. Travis, 'the creepy guy' who must have been a relic of the Project.

Travis had been down to take tissue samples from me. I think he was the one who engineered my son. I hated what he stood for, but Jacob was something I could never regret.

I remained quiet and cooperative. Since I wasn't providing any entertainment for Spender, he hadn't been down since Dr. Travis examined me. I heard him warn the guards that they should use caution with me, that I was not to be trusted.

After Spender left, the two guards laughed about him. "Crazy old man, afraid of the fag. Can't he see the guy is scared shitless?"

Let them believe that. Words can hurt, but they had no effect on me. I could wait. They would pay in good time.


I

slept a while and when I woke, the guard was gone. I took the tiny scrap of metal and worked the lock. The tab was too soft, though. I would have to find another way.

The guard came back. He looked more nervous than ever and he could not stop talking. I listened to him ramble on. The guy was pissed at everyone and everything.

The lights flickered and a blast of cold air blew through the place. I shivered and huddled against the bars.

"What the hell was that?" my skinny friend asked.

"Ghosts," I said. I meant to spook the guard, but I half believed my own bullshit, especially when there was another power surge. This one lasted longer. I could hear the guard cursing as he scrambled for the door. The lights stayed out, but I saw something, a glowing circle of light. It moved rapidly around the room as if chasing the guard. I heard something fall and then the noise of the guard running up the stairs. The lights came back on. For one moment, I thought I saw a large black man staring at me. His face was not unfriendly, but looked sad and disturbed. He wore only a ragged shirt which was streaked with blood. Chains draped from his wrists. As I watched him, he faded away. Ah, Mulder, you would have loved to have seen this phenomenon. I was much more interested in the keys that lay in reach on the floor.

"Thank you, thank you," I said to the uneasy spirit.

I couldn't comprehend why this apparition had helped me, but I was grateful. He could have arranged for the keys to fall nearer my cell. I had to lie on my cell floor and, even then, I could barely reach them. I thought I lost them once, but reached them again when I pressed closer to the bars. I drew my aching arm back. Success! I had the keys. It took a few moments to open the cell door from my direction, but it wasn't the first time I had done something like this.

I couldn't find my clothing, but I found a coverall in a metal cabinet. It felt good to have something on. There's a damn good reason why nudity is a part of interrogations. Most people are conditioned to modesty. People like me, undercover agents, have a lot of that trained out of us, but that doesn't mean my first instinct wasn't to put on clothing.

I couldn't find a weapon, but that was okay. My body was a weapon. Of course, I prefer a Glock, but I would do whatever I had to do to save Jacob.

The big guard, Simons, was coming down the stairs when I was coming up. His mouth gaped as he saw me. I pulled him down the stairs, letting him fall. I snapped his neck before he could think to fight back. Would Mulder have found that ethical? No. I didn't care. These men hurt me. They hurt my son. They couldn't die soon enough as far as I was concerned.

Now I had shoes. They were too big for me, but they would protect my feet. More importantly, I had a weapon. I checked for ammunition and found an extra clip. Now I was ready. I spared a moment to silently thank the ghost. I hope he finds freedom.


T

here had been very little activity at the farm house since Spender left. Alex's chip had never moved since we had arrived here.

Frohike has put his gloves back on. His hand gripped my shoulder as I stared glumly at the blip. "He's locked up. The chips don't produce a tight enough signal for us to spot exactly where someone is in a building."

"Or whether the person is alive or dead."

Frohike seldom lied to me. His eyes slowly left mine and then lowered to stare at the dirty floor of the van. He nodded.

"Jacob's chip is still moving," Langly said. "Skinner is still on it."

Our friends had docked the boat to take the equipment into another van. They were tracking Jacob's chip. Spender's helicopter had landed in Roanoke. They had spent several hours at a private clinic then driven to two offices and a bank. Except for the clinic, Jacob was left in the car with the nurse.

Walter said that Jacob looked healthy and unharmed. I wouldn't leave it alone until Walter admitted that Jacob was crying every time he saw him.

A full day after we arrived at Spender's sanctuary, Spender put Jacob back into the helicopter. To our relief, the helicopter returned to the landing pad near the farm house.

We had switched vans. This one appeared to be a decrepit junker. Hood up. We remained inside, hoping that the local police officers weren't vigilant.

Walter, Doggett, Scully, Reyes resumed fishing. Yves and Frohike had a mission. They were going to disable the helicopter once it arrived.

I hated waiting. I hated waiting in confined spaces even more. I know I was driving Langly and Byers nuts. They were old hands at surveillance. So was I, but not usually when two of the people I loved most in the world were being held captive.

"I should have gone with Yves," Jimmy Bond complained.

"We need you here," Byers remarked. His eyes warned Langly not to contradict him.

Langly snorted, but said nothing, busy with the equipment. My friends had devised away to block the security cameras and to trick the electrical fence into not reporting when Frohike and Yves cut into it.

"Oh, yeah," Jimmy said. His blue eyes blinked. I had only met Jimmy a handful of times before this, but my impression was not much changed by spending the last twenty eight hours with him. I still didn't understand why my friends had adopted him into their group. He wasn't a hacker. He did not have the splendid intelligence that characterized my three friends. I don't know. Perhaps they wanted a house-broken pet. Jimmy was good at the physical end of things. He was strong if not agile and he certainly was easy to get along with. He worshipped the gunmen. That might be the answer to my thoughts. Everyone appreciated a fan club.

Frohike's voice growled from speaker. "We're in. The guards all seem to be inside. Yves and I will get the helicopter. Want us to give a try at the cars too?"

Jimmy said, "Tell them no way. I want to try out the rocket launcher."

The launcher was hand held. Yves swore that Jimmy was an excellent shot with it. I hope that Jimmy's enigmatic wife was correct. I didn't want Jacob and Alex endangered by friendly fire.

It seemed like hours, but about half an hour later, Frohike and Yves arrived. "That helicopter isn't going anywhere."

It was a good thing that they had left the cars alone. A vehicle drove up and was let in the gate. Spender must have hired three more men. They climbed out of the car and were escorted inside by Spender's pilot, who seemed to be his second in command.

"We need to move now," I said. "before he finds more men."

"Yeah," Jimmy said, reaching for his rocket launcher.

"Hold off," Yves said. "We need to make sure the others are ready."

I nodded and reached for my cell phone. All of our lines were scrambled for security. Hopefully it would sound like another bad cell phone connection.


A

fter I armed myself and took out the first guard, I waited, panting, on the other side of the door. I heard nothing for several minutes and cautiously emerged. The steps led up into a back hallway. There was another stair way and three doors. I was reasonably sure one led to the kitchen. Another was just a closet. I heard voices behind the third one so I backed away quietly. The stairway led to a landing. I heard Jacob's voice and followed it.

The small bedroom was half nursery and half lab. The nurse was taking a nap. My son was doing his best to climb out of the crib. His eyes widened when he saw me. I held a finger to my lips. "Shh."

Jacob snuffled but obeyed. Creeping close to the nurse, I upended the Glock and gave her a quick blow to the head, hiding my actions from Jacob. It wasn't a fatal blow necessarily, but I didn't care if it was. She worked for Spender and helped take my son. That was an offense worthy of death in my book.

Finding Jacob's coat and boots, I dressed him. He was smiling and saying, "Da Da."

As I turned, I heard, "Alex, you never give up, do you? No more chances."

I had my gun out, but there were several armed men with Spender.

"You want your son caught in the crossfire?" Spender asked.

I shook my head 'no'.

Lowering the Glock I had taken, I let the skinny guard take it.

Doctor Travis had stepped forward to check on the nurse. He said, "She's alive but she will need medical care."

"She can decide whether to live or die here," Spender said. "She isn't a very good nurse anyway. She's lazy."

Travis shrugged. It was no big deal to him.

Spender took out a gun and aimed it at me. "I've had enough of you, Alex. You were an amusing toy, but your value is gone. Say goodbye to your son."

"Take him out of the room, at least," I begged.

"No, he must learn what happens to those who betray me," Spender said. "I thought you were brought to heel early enough, but it's obvious how many mistakes I made. I've learned from them. I will no longer trust others to rear my heir."

As Spender aimed, the lights popped. The house went dark then there was an explosion from outside. In the confusion, I went for the gun. I couldn't see either, but I remember its location and trusted my instincts. Armed again, I followed Jacob's cries to the guard who held him, grabbing my son and shoving the man into another.

The strange light from below was back. This time, it was a strongly built black woman with wild hair. She held a lantern that glowed pearl white, luminescent. She beckoned me and I followed, trusting that the spirits in this house were on my side for some reason.

"Shush," I said. "Shh, Jacob, be quiet so Daddy can bring you to Dada Fox."

"Da Da," Jacob said and obeyed. Must have been my genes that made him cooperate. Mulder seldom listened to anyone.

We followed the ghost down the stairs and then out. The big house was under attack. I could see a missile launch hitting parked cars. Now Spender's men boiled from the house. I darted for the fence. Someone grabbed me. I was prepared to fight then I saw it was Scully.

"Alex, we're here," Scully said.

I wanted to hug her, but instead, handed her Jacob and said, "Get my son out of here."

Scully said, "Alex, what are you doing?"

"I'm going to get Spender," I said. "Once and for all."

"Alex," Scully said. "Come on. You're hurt."

I guess a bullet had grazed me and I didn't even notice. I shook my head and said, "Get Jacob out of here. Get him to safety."

I trusted Scully. She might be my rival, but she was a tough determined little woman.


S

kinner and Doggett joined us at the house. All the lights had gone out for a while, but they were back on now. Monica had stayed below, guarding the boats.

Langly and Byers had stayed with the van. My phone vibrated. Scully said, "I just saw Alex. He's okay, more or less. He had Jacob, but gave him to me and told me to get him to safety. I tried to stop him, but he wouldn't listen. He went back after Spender."

That was my lover. I said, "Okay, I'll find him."

There was gunfire being exchanged through the house and grounds. I saw a running man and quickly determined it wasn't one of my friends. He shot at me and I returned the fire, missing.

I dropped to one knee and fired again. "I'm better when I move, Butch," I muttered in homage to one of Alex's favorite movies as the man fell.

I kicked the man's gun away. He was alive, but wouldn't be for long. I didn't feel in a Good Samaritan mood. He could drown in his blood as far as I was concerned.

I saw Alex a moment later. He was running toward the cliff. I yelled 'Alex'. He didn't even look back at me. Damn him. He was as obsessed as I was at times.

By the time, I reached the stairs, Alex was half way down. I saw what he was after...Spender.

My lover and my biological father struggled on the steep steps. I yelled as I saw them topple over, tumbling down the steep embankment.

I heard a sharp cry from Alex when he landed. His leg was twisted under him. Spender remained crumpled. I thought he was dead and went to help Alex.

"My leg," Alex said. "Damn shoes tripped me."

Alex only wore an overall, which was now ripped half way down his side. Alex passed out when I straightened his leg, the grating sound making me cringe. I guess I was so intent on my lover that I forgot about Spender. I heard two shouts, Monica Reyes and Walter's voices blending into one.

The two shots - or was it three? - also blended together. Spender had fired at me, missing. Walter and Monica were both great shots and both bullets hit Spender.

I walked over. I was sure that Spender was dead. One bullet hit him in the forehead and the other his chest. Half his skull was blown away. I checked his pulse anyway and there was not even a flutter. Walter said, "I'm personally going to stay with the body until it's cremated. No mysterious resurrections this time."

Walter said, "I've already called the local police and for an ambulance. For a lot of ambulances."

Nodding, I sat down by Alex. Scully called to say that Jacob was fine other than asking for his DaDa. I wanted to go to him, but I didn't want him to see Alex like this and I couldn't leave my beautiful love.


A

lex looked lovely. His head was framed by a freshly fluffed pillow. I had a feeling that the nurse had wanted to 'fluff' more than just that.

"I don't think that Walter is very popular with his bosses right now," Alex observed.

You had to appreciate infatuated nurses though. Alex's angel of mercy had chased the agents assigned to investigate our unauthorized operation and Jacob's kidnapping hadn't been happy, but they had left. I expected her to chase me out too, but she smiled and said, "Don't let him get too tired."

I dropped a newspaper in Alex's lap. He said, "What?"

"Check the headline," I replied.

Alex's mouth slanted, not a smile, his slightly annoyed quirk of the lips. I get that a lot from him. I think he learned it from Scully.

"More news about the kidnapping?"

"No, I'm afraid we've been upstaged," I said, grinning. I pointed to the headline.

"The gay marriage bill passed by a land slide," Alex said.

I dropped to my knee and took the small box I had been concealing in my pocket.

"Going to give me a blow job right here?" Alex said. Then he saw my hand and said, "What's that?"

"You serious, Mulder?" Alex asked softly.

"Absolutely," I said. "Just say yes."

"Yeah," Alex said. "What the hell. Yes. "

I put the ring on his finger and sat on the bed to kiss him. His lips opened to me, his hand pulling me close, keeping me close. It was better than our first kiss. That one was full of passion, but this one held all the love in the world.

I heard the door open and the nurse said, "Oh, excuse me."

"No, say congratulations," I replied. "Alex just consented to marry me."

"Congratulations," the nurse said. "When are you going to have the ceremony?"

"I get my walking cast when?" Alex asked the nurse.

Picking up Alex's chart, the nurse checked. "Since it isn't a serious fracture, you can have a walking cast in two weeks."

That would put it the day before Christmas. Alex smiled and said, "December twenty third."

We would have each other to unwrap on Christmas day. It was going to take some fast footwork, but I would have plenty of help.


I

wasn't happy with the way they had to fit my tuxedo, enlarging one leg to fit the walking cast. It was better than I expected though. There had been improvements since the last time I broke anything and the walking cast was light enough to fit a trouser leg over it.

Walter came into my dressing room to urge me along. He and Kim Cook had announced their engagement too. Mulder lost ten bucks to me when that happened. He had still been sure that Walter had found a same sex lover.

"How you doing?" Walter asked.

"Can't get the tie right," I admitted.

"Here," Walter said, tying it for me. "You look good."

"I hope so," I looked in the mirror. It was me, but not the me I had been a few years ago. I was happy. I had family. I had friends. I was going to marry the one I love.

It didn't seem real, but if it was an illusion, I didn't care.

The only thing that persuaded me that it was really the life of Alex Krycek was the crutch. Kim had wound it with white ribbons and flowers, but it was still a crutch and I was limping It could have been worse.

You might be surprised to find that I had asked Walter to be my best man. I knew that Mulder wanted to ask Frohike and that seemed like the best way to avoid hurt feelings. Besides, the way I hear it, Skinner was the one who told Mulder to ask me to marry him.

We had found a Unitarian minister to perform the ceremony. Neither the Russian Orthodox Church nor the Jewish faith had issued statements yet about the gay marriage act. If they didn't want us, we didn't want them.

Mulder and I met outside the dressing rooms. I heard Jacob yelling Da Da. We had spared William and Jacob from attempts to be ring bearers or other guaranteed disastrous roles, but the women had still dressed them in sky blue tuxedos

I couldn't hear the minister. I didn't see him. I only saw Mulder. As many times as I told myself that marriage didn't mean anything, I didn't believe myself. Mulder was telling the world that he loved me, me, Alex Krycek.

When Mulder explained to me that he wasn't sure I loved him, I told him he was crazy. I told him that I adored him. Here we were.

I heard my voice, soft, breaking a little in the middle as I said, "I do."

Mulder's voice was strong. His "I do" sounded sure and I think he made me believe this was going to work.

My mother was the first to hug us. She had been holding Jacob. She couldn't get enough of having a grand son when she had thought for years that her only child was dead.

Jacob escaped from my mother as she hugged Mulder. He knew he wasn't supposed to jump on me, but I could pick him up if I was careful. He was okay. He slept with us a few nights then wanted his own room with the Thomas the Train sheets.

My son was a lot richer. Spender had altered his will and left a considerable fortune to Jacob. Mulder didn't want to accept it, but I managed to change his mind. We could use that money to help the victims of the project and the aliens.

As for that farm house, I owed the spirits that lived there. Mulder agreed to use Spender's money to fund an African American history research project there. I hoped that the team of historians and archeologists could find the names of the twenty seven slaves buried in unmarked graves. We found the name 'Jacob' carved in the wall of the cell where I had been kept. Spender had replaced the original bars of the cage, but once a man named Jacob had suffered and died there.

Maybe if we found names and told their stories, the ghosts that haunt the farm house would be free. I owed them that. I owed them a lot.

"Alex," Mulder whispered as he helped me into our limousine. We were spending the night at a hotel and returning to our apartment tomorrow.

"No," I said. "We are not spending our honeymoon investigating the ghosts at that house."

After kissing me, Mulder said, "How about spending New Years ghost hunting then?"

He's Mulder. That's the way I love him.

THE END
 

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