To Christmases Yet To Come
Mulder was asleep. Sound asleep if one was to believe the light snoring that made the newspaper on his face shiver by intervals. He probably had put it to cut out the afternoon light but it was no longer use as the cabin was coloured in a smooth orange by the winter sunset's rays. He was lying on a couch covered by an old quilt, whose antiquity echoed those of the thick woolen Indian carpet on the floor, across which the fireplace was dark and cold. Yet the temperature in the cabin's two storeys was mild, thanks to the heaters which were softly humming, summoned by the cold fusion core engine, cheap and safe as most Asgard Technology ™.
One year ago, the dreaded 2012/12/21 hadn't seen the End of the World, only the birth of a new one, as a party of anti-colonists, resistance members, Asgards and many others had definitely put an end to the "bad" aliens' threat, though the date was most probably a mere coincidence. A lot of shadowy people had come into the spotlights, some to meet infamy and trials, and many others for forgiveness and often gratitude. And as politicians have not always got it right, the populations of the Earth hadn't run amok to kill each other or commit suicide; most of them had just welcomed a far broader world, where so many strange species made them a one race, a new member of Universe.
Toc... Schlack! Toc... Schlack!
For a little while, a repetitive noise had started to permeate Mulder's sleep. Through layers of dreams, the muffled sound made itself insistent.
Toc... Schlack! Toc... Schlack!
Old reflexes die hard and a hand pushed off the newspaper that fell soundlessly onto the carpet. Mulder rolled over cautiously and let himself slid to the floor on his knees, his right hand searching for his regulation gun kept under the cushion he had used as a pillow.
Now wide awake he perceived the sound clearly. It came from outside the cabin, not very far but muffled by the thickness of the snowy cover. Mulder crept on all fours towards the unique window on this side of his home, left to the door that gave directly in the main room. Reaching the wooden wall, he rose to glance through the window pane, decorated with frost that provided some protection from whatever was outside.
The sound had stopped. About 30 feet from the cabin Mulder could make out a black silhouette, feet slightly apart, holding an axe. He couldn't see better, thanks to the glorious sunset right in front of him. When renting a cabin for a sabbatical year in order to write down your memories, even the most paranoid agent with the FBI doesn't chose his dwelling following the laws of aerial fighting.
He armed his weapon and carefully opened the door, leaving it ajar. He hadn't a better view but the slight sound had alerted the visitor who tensed. Throwing caution to the wind, Mulder pushed the door wide opened and raised his gun towards the dark shape.
"Drop the axe! And freeze!"
The black silhouette didn't look surprised or scared. It let go of the axe as ordered, pushing the politeness to launch it far enough for the tool to be out of reach and obediently raised their arms.
Mulder stepped forward in the snow, drawing an ample curve that brought him closer to the intruder but on his side so the feebee wasn't anymore facing the sun.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?"
With a slow and non-threatening gesture the visitor lowered the black scarf that covered his mouth.
"My name is Krycek. Alex Krycek."
With a gasp of surprise Mulder started to lower his gun.
Alex pushed back over his forehead the ski glasses that protected his sparkling eyes.
"And I'm here because you invited me. I'm the one cooking for the whole Christmas party, am I not?"
Mulder uncocked his gun and slipped it in his jeans belt in the small of his back.
"Jeez! Alex! Do you have a death wish?? I could have shot you! Why didn't you knock on the door like any normal guest?" Mulder's contrite tone was nevertheless a bit reproachful.
"I did. But to no avail. From what I saw through the window you were sleeping. Or just reading the paper, but then I think you need a new prescription for your glasses."
"Ah! Ah! Ah. Very funny. You should have insisted."
"And deprive you of a well-deserved rest? Of course I could have picked the lock, but then maybe you would have omitted the regulation warning."
"You've been there for a long time? And... what with the axe, for God's sake?!"
As an answer Alex pointed towards the right side of the cabin. Along the wall was neatly stocked a whole bunch of fresh cut logs. Seeing the snow sediment running on the logs closest to the ground, the previous stock had been running low.
"I thought everybody would like a good fire for Christmas. Willy has nothing like that at Scully's in Quantico, right? And it's so much more romantic..."
"Thank you Alex. For being so thoughtful. Each evening I tell myself, tomorrow, you'll cut some. And of course..."
"Each morning you run to your computer, and forget the wood. Well, let's take some inside for tonight, at least."
Mulder nodded, took a step towards the cabin, stopped, and emitted a very noisy sneeze. Alex looked at his friend's feet and shrieked.
"You!!! Damn moron!!! I don't have a death wish but you sure have a pneumonia one!!"
"In the snow? In SOCKS!!! And just jeans and a shirt?"
"I have a tee under the shirt."
"Yes, how smart of you. Goddess!" (Alex was never a big believer, but he had took a fancy in Gaïa since he'd had the opportunity to watch his native planet from far–very far–outside).
He went to pick up the axe and with an annoyed tsk, he bowed, grabbed Mulder and launched him over his left shoulder in a fireman-grip. The agent immediately started to struggle, only for his butt to receive a slap with the flat side of the axe.
"Don't act childish, Foxy-Fox. You really could catch death here. What were you thinking, really?"
Mulder turned to a stubborn silence and bear with the ride towards the logs stock. The axe went against the wooden wall and Alex started to pick up some wood. Mulder saw a log pushed under his nose.
"Even if my new arm is quite performant I still have only two of them. Could you please take some by yourself? Nooo, you're not putting a foot in the snow."
Grumbling Mulder accepted three logs and from his upturned position saw Alex grab three more. The long years when he was a one-arm bandit had told him to make the best use of the one remaining and despite being whole again now, he had kept the painfully acquired skills.
Alex and his burden reached the cabin doorstep in a few strides and he could put Mulder back on his feet. He left the logs against the inner wall whilst closing the door and ordered his old nemesis:
"You go take a hot shower right now. I'll make some grog for when you're done."
Mulder answered by a litany of sneezes that confirmed Alex in his diagnosis. As the other man made his way to the staircase leading to the upper floor, his guest took off his snow boots and hung his parka on a peg, before picking up the wood and bringing it near the fireplace. Kneeling he started to built a fire with some old newspapers kept at hand, added small wood (at least there was enough at the ready) and inserted some barbecue packs. He checked the lid, opened it, and with a long match started the fire. As soon as the flames were strong enough he added two medium logs, then a bigger one. Sitting on his heels, he took off his woollen sweater with a contented sigh.
More comfortable in his black tee-shirt and jeans, his feet in warm socks, he stood up and looked around. He had been only twice at the cabin, first to help Mulder move his stuff for his year off from Quantico, where he was now teaching criminal psychology, and once at the end of the summer, when he himself could take some vacation from his security consultant work. Studious vacation as Mulder insisted he read the first chapters of his memories, which were for a good part commune to both of them. He provided his friend with some insights and details he wasn't yet aware of and Mulder amended his work, while Alex was busy cooking in something of a domestic bliss. The now teacher was still hopeless in a kitchen and lived on ready-made food he bought from the small town down the hill. Scully's and Alex's visits gave them opportunity to bring fresh healthy food, which Mulder still looked at dubiously.
Nothing had changed since Alex's last vacation but for the huge tree standing naked behind the low and long cupboard serving as a bar. Last Christmas had been the first one to see the whole party reunited at Scully's. Willy and his mother had decorated the tree Alex had brought, but obviously this year he would have to help Mulder to do the same, as the agent wasn't accustomed to this kind of activity. Alex hoped that his friend had thought of buying some ornaments, or they would have to make a last-minute raid on the next town on the following day.
Whistling softly Alex searched the bar. He couldn't find any rum and took instead a bottle of bourbon. He made his way to the kitchen that occupied almost half of the ground floor, opened onto the living room. He stopped beside the staircase. On the wall underneath, Mulder had hung some pictures: his old "I Want To Believe" poster, where Alex had struck out the "Want" with a thick marker, adding as a graffitti, "Was Right"; a shot from last Christmas' party where Scully, Willy, Alex and Skinner were raising their glasses in front of the tree; and the photo of a beautiful husky dog with clear and confidant eyes. The photo was signed "Ursula" and nicely framed. With a sigh, Alex let his finger run on the glass, thinking of so many of their parents, friends and comrades who hadn't lived long enough to know that new era of peace so hardly won.
In the kitchen he put the bourbon bottle down on the counter and filled the electric kettle, turning it on before searching the closets to find some honey and a big mug. In the fridge he found lemons. At least Mulder had used the list he was e-mailed for shopping. Alex was almost done when he heard the shuffling of slippered feet in the staircase. He caught the towel Mulder was holding and stopped him to rub his wet hair. Mulder adjusted his white bathrobe.
"I can do it."
"Yes, you should have dried them before coming down. You're really going to catch a cold, you know! Sit there," he showed Mulder to the armchair that was the closest to the fireplace.
"Finish drying, I bring your potion."
Hiding his laughter Alex went to the kitchen to pick up the hot mug. He brought it back, gave it to Mulder who made a face and ostentatiously started to blow on the burning amber liquid. Alex sat down with crossed legs at his feet.
"Let's see. I think we should decorate the tree tomorrow, in case something's missing; did you buy some stuff?"
"Oh yes! I bought a load. I asked Scully, she sent me a list. What's with both of you and your shopping lists??"
"We know you," Alex sternly answered.
"I followed yours scrupulously. The only thing I didn't find was a "Blue Carbuncle". Sorry."
"No problem, I found it. I guessed you wouldn't." Alex's eyes were smiling mischievously. Mulder didn't want to swallow the bait but he couldn't resist. "I know what it is."
"But I have it here already, my well worn Penguin edition of Conan Doyle's complete works. Why would you want me to buy another one?"
Alex didn't answer and was content with mysteriously whistling to himself.
"You're not going to open your gifts four days in advance, are you?"
"My gifts? There's more than one? Then maybe you can open that one, huh?"
Alex munched on his lower lip, but couldn't resist Mulder's puppy eyes.
"Okay... The Strand edition."
"The original???? Oh my!!! Where did you find it?"
"Last time I was in London for a job. There are several specialized bookshops over there, remember?"
He laughed at the sight of a childishly happy Mulder.
"Drink your grog, if it goes lukewarm it won't be as efficient."
"Yes Mom", reiterated Mulder, winning a slap on one knee. Lowering his eyes onto Alex, he inquired: "You should take a chair, or do you feel better on the rug?"
"Yup. Reminds me from my childhood, lying down on the carpet you know. We hadn't a fireplace, but at Granny there was a big, old stove."
"Let me guess. In the family album there's a photo of you as a baby, naked, on a bear skin."
"Of course, there is! Between two ferrotypes taken at kindergarten."
Mulder laughed, dangerously shaking his mug.
"But I always loved to lie down on this old carpet –which was yet thinner than yours– to read. Or even before knowing my letters, Granny was reading for me, I could have stayed there for hours. Kinda magic."
"And what did she read for you?"
"Hmmm. Fairy tales, mostly. Baba Yaga."
"Huh, that's Mother Goose for you, I guess."
The two men stared at each other, mouths agape. "The goose!" they shouted in unison.
"You forgot the goose!!" Mulder accused.
"Of course not!" Alex exclaimed. "But as you didn't answer when I knocked I left my stuff in the snow-car." Rising to his feet, he added, "I'm going to bring everything in before some bear decides he would be okay with taking my shopping."
"There's no bear over there," Mulder stated. "Only a coyote, almost as skinny as Wile E. I would have fed him but I was told I must not. So I just used the gun to frighten him and convince him to search for his prey somewhere other than in my shopping bags."
Alex had put his boots on, he threw his parka over his tee-shirt and took the torchlight hanging beside the door as the night had fallen for about an hour. He opened the door as little as needed and left for the extension serving as a garage where he had parked his snow-car next to Mulder's. The silent electric engine hadn't help waking up his host. He came back soon, loaded as a mule, a duffel bag on his shoulder, a huge plastic sac in one hand and hauling an even bigger fabric bag filled with protruding parcels. He closed the door with his foot and put down his load on the rug before getting rid of his boots and parka.
He brought the duffel bag to the bottom of the staircase and the plastic bag to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and undertook to fill it with his own supplies, among which the said goose. It was big enough to need a reorganization of the fridge. When he came back to the living room he found Mulder had drawn the fabric bag to the middle of the carpet and was examining the parcels.
"Should I call you Santa Claus? You brought such a load!"
"You, Willy, Scully, Skinner, Jeremiah, Spender Jr and his mother," Alex counted on his fingers. "Did you invite more? In case, I brought some generic items."
"Yes, two of my students at Quantico, and a new agent I worked with as a profiler on the Shinohara* case."
Though Mulder was now re-established as a teacher for the FBI academy, he had been called twice on serial killer cases as his profiling skills were still unmatched.
"Jeremiah's accepted our invitation?"
"Yes, he promised he would make it. He's a regular resident here now, as he teaches Willy once a week."
Awakening ESP hadn't been a path of roses for William Mulder Jr. as he grew up. When in kindergarten Scully had received some weird frantic phone calls from the director. It seemed her son had a hard time figuring which was the funniest: having all the paint pots exploding at the same time, or his lady-teacher levitating four feet above the tables. Several years later he had become a more responsible schoolboy, thanks to the kind of cram school Jeremiah Smith had set up. Once a week he would come to help the kid discovering and mastering his new powers.
Mulder was still exploring the gifts bag. He took out a very long parcel, the glittering sticker reading, "Willy".
"What's that? A sniper rifle?"
Alex made a face.
"Ah no, not fancy enough. I know: a rocket launcher, complete with infra-red telescopic vision and electronic target capture."
Alex slapped him on his head, strong enough to make him cough.
"No, stupid. It's a telescope."
"Hey, I had one word right." Mulder had a big smile. "That's a great idea, Alex! When I was his age, that was my most beloved toy. Anytime my parents were, well, you know, arguing at night, I took refuge in the attics with my telescope. I spent so many hours looking at the stars."
"The accessories, lenses, tripod, camera and all, are in other parcels."
"You're spoiling him, you know that?"
"What can I say? I love spoiling Mulders," Alex answered with a knowing look.
The romantic mood was cut by a resounding sneeze. Mulder searched for a tissue, found the box on the low table, and trumpeted.
"You're still cold? I'll prepare more grog."
"Nope, that's enough. You were generous with the alcohol," said Mulder, who was indeed a little flushed, and not only from blowing his nose. "That's... My feet. They're cold."
"Just slippers, that's light, you could have put some socks. Sit down," Alex commanded.
Mulder sat back into his armchair, whilst Alex went to the kitchen to bring the bourbon back. He put it down next Mulder, then picked up the poker to revive the fading flames, and added a new log on the sparkling fire.
He came back to kneel close in front of his friend and sat on his heels.
"Come on, I'm going to warm them for you. Old recipe."
He took hold of one foot, putting off the slipper, and pressed it again his chest. He picked up the bottle, uncorked it and dropped some liquid in his cupped hand. He started to rub gently first, then with more strength the cold flesh. Mulder shivered then relaxed. He stared at Alex who was absorbed in his task, tongue slightly protruding from the corner of his mouth. He thought he had never noticed that little habit during the long years he saw Alex as an enemy; since they had become close to each other, he had seen more of these, little by little. His ancient nemesis had obviously had his guard very high before. He was glad that now they were so at ease together.
"Hey, it works, my foot really feels warmer now. But the other's still cold."
"Of course, greedy. Already told you I have only two hands." Alex pressed the warmed foot against his chest and proceeded with the other one. When the two feet felt comfortable he recorked the bottle. Then with a half-hidden smile, he started to suck on one big toe, making Mulder jump. But he stopped at once with a disappointed look.
"Eh, I took a shower!!"
"Yes, but your bourbon. Yerk. I should have massaged you with vodka."
"Well, there's several bottles in the bar. And... I think some parts of me still feel a little cold."
"Huh..." Mulder hesitated. As close a relationship they have had for one year now, he still felt shy. Alex was usually the one initiating their play. Though he thought he had made some progress during the younger man's last "vacation".
Alex stood up and holding his hand, grabbed Mulder's and helped him to his feet. He showed him the middle of the carpet, "Here, lie down, Fox." He picked up the quilt from the couch and threw it to the ground as to make a thicker mat. He fetched the cushions and passed them to Mulder before walking to the bar to find a bottle to his taste.
From the corner of his eye, Alex watched with a smile Mulder arranging the cushions and quilt before lying down and modestly drawing his bathrobe over his thighs. He bowed to gave Mulder the bottle then unclipped his belt and undid his black jeans, letting them fall to his feet. He walked out of them before drawing his tee-shirt over his head. He kneeled beside his lover, still in his long winter underpants. "Help me with these," he asked.
A flushing Mulder was a thing to see, Alex couldn't get tired of it. He knew the older man couldn't have missed the already half erect cock tending the grey fabric. Shyly Mulder put his hand on the elastic belt and started to lower the underpants. "Hurry, Fox, if you want me to warm you with another massage..."
Emboldened Mulder helped him out of his garments and socks. He held him the bottle of vodka which Alex uncorked, asking: "So, where do you feel cold?? Huh? Oh, I'll start with your chest anyway. It's the best to kill a cold from the start."
He knelt and bowed over Mulder to push apart the bathrobe's lapels and poured some vodka directly on the man's chest, making him jerk wildly.
"Hey, it's cold!"
"Nope, it's at room temperature. It should be icy, so don't complain."
He put his two long hands on Mulder's chest and started to rub the alcohol in, which resulted in the skin reddening fast.
"Oh, it's too hot!"
"Make up your mind, would you? Hmm, let me make it easier for you."
Lowering his face Alex started to lick then to bite softly on an erect nipple. "Definitely better than your bourbon," he commented.
"Shut up and don't stop. P-please."
Alex's laughter around his nipple sent a shiver along Mulder's spine. The older man took his lover in his arms and arched his body along the other's. Pushing on his elbows Alex brought his mouth to Mulder's neck and started licking his ear; Mulder couldn't resist and took his lover's lips, moaning as their tongues were playing together.
When stopping to regain their breath, Mulder whispered, "It's been too long. Couldn't you come more often?"
"I thought you needed time to get used to be with me?"
"Yes, but... Three months, that's too long. I mean, when I'm working, I'm busy with my courses, investigations, consultations... Yet even so..."
"We'll try to meet more often, okay?"
"But I'm here today, hm?" Alex reached towards their groins already grinding against each other. He took hold of their hard members to jerk them together. His hand was burning with the alcohol he had used on Mulder's chest and the warmth added to their mutual excitement. He looked in the chestnut eyes, turning dark with the dilating irises.
"I want to make you feel good. Let me prepare you."
"Please, be gentle. It's been a while..."
"Am I ever not so?" Alex countered. Contrary to what his enemies could have expected he was nothing of a sadist, especially with people he cared for. And Goddess, did he care for his Fox.
He slid along Mulder's body slowly, licking and kissing all the way till he reached the engorged cock. He lapped first at the tip which was dripping slowly, then underside, played a while with the heavy balls.
His partner whined softly, tearing at his dark hair, trying to bring the mouth to take him whole. Alex complied and deep-throated the member at once, making Mulder yelp and squirm under him. Without stopping his ministrations the younger man collected the saliva running from his mouth with his fingertips and started caressing the little hole that twitched in expectation. He wondered if that would be enough; he pushed his middle finger inside, carefully. His partner was eager and it entered easily, enough for him to reach his sweet spot, eliciting a long shudder and a loud cry.
He let go of the dripping cock to lick the perineum. A new moaning answered him, and his forefinger joined the middle finger inside the hot hole. He went on, teasing Mulder's prostate, until his lover called in a sweetly desperate voice.
"Please, Alex! Come in, I can't hold anymore!"
"I have lube in my bag, I'll fetch it."
Alex tried to stand up but he was firmly held down by Mulder.
"No, that's okay, please, put it in, right now!"
Alex was more than ready and as eager; he grabbed a thick cushion and pushed it under Mulder's buttocks, spread the shaking legs and put them over his shoulders. Collecting some of Mulder's pre-cum he mixed it to its own and lubricated his thick cock before presenting himself in front of the pink puckered hole. He pushed slowly against the willing flesh that gave up at once. Mulder pushed himself forwards, impaling himself in one go with a cry of pleasure.
Choked between the hot twitching walls, Alex forgot caution and started to thrust with all his might inside his lover who was crying out loud.
"Oh yeah! Yeah! Deeper! Come deeper, Alex! Please! Fill me! Ngggh..."
Panting breaths mixed with the wet sound of flesh slapping against flesh covered the crushing of a log in the fire. The sparkling flames made of the two wrestling bodies a moving tapestry of orange and crimson against the dark blue of the cabin. Alex lowered his face to Fox's to lick the drops of sweat that glistened on his forehead and took his mouth in a searing kiss. He slowed the motion of his loins as he enjoyed the taste of Fox's tongue, played with his teeth, licked at his palate.
But Mulder thrusted his hips, searching for a closer contact. His eyes were pleading for more. Alex broke the mouth contact and let Fox's right leg go down on the rug. Straighten up he raised the other leg still higher, and spreading his partner even more he pressed himself to the floor to fuck him deeper. His new position allowed him to pull out almost completely, to Mulder's despair at first, and to enter back forcefully, pushing the older man at his limits.
Mulder took hold of his own engorged cock but Alex slapped his hand away and strangled the base of the dripping member.
"Wait... a little... more...", he panted.
"I can't! Please, Alex, let me come! Please!"
Alex wasn't a sadist, right, but he took delight in seeing Mulder's erotic face as he begged him for release.
He kissed and licked slowly the underside of his lover's knee before taking a harder rhythm inside him, and after teasing for a short while the dark tip with a scratching nail that made Mulder howl, he started to jerk him in earnest.
"Alex, I'm going to come... I'm going to..."
"Almost... here too..."
Mulder arched his whole body as his member pulsed in Alex's tight fist and released his cum over his stomach; a few seconds later, still shaken by the waves of a strong orgasm, he felt the hot seed filling him as Alex groaned in pleasure.
Emptying himself with a few last thrusts, Alex lied down slowly, landing in his satiated lover's arms. He quickly arranged two cushions as pillows and retrieved a part of the quilt to cover both of them.
"I should put some wood on the fire," he whispered into Mulder's ear.
"Yes, but not now. Stay like this. I want to keep you here."
"We could take it to the bed, then. We can afford one now," he added with a little laughter.
"Take it to OUR bed, Alex," Mulder corrected.
"Yes. You're totally right." He nuzzled in Mulder's neck, smelling the intoxicating fragrance of warm skin, shampoo and cosy happiness that was uniquely his lover's.
"I'll let you have a little nap, but after, beddie-bed time."
"No more sex?"
"Did I say "sleep"?"
Mulder laughed softly, admitting:
"And we have a lot to do tomorrow. Tree."
"Stuffing for the goose."
"Stuffing me too."
"You're impossibly greedy, you know that Fox?"
"We have a lot of Christmases to catch up on, don't you think?"
"That's true. Fortunately, we have a lot of Christmases to come, right?" Alex kissed the tip of Mulder's nose. "Sleep now. If the coyote comes, I'll tell him to text later."
Watching the dying fire, Alex let himself get lured to sleep by the quiet breathing of the man he could at last call his future.