Adult readers only. EXPLICIT CRUELTY. Physical and sexual abuse, m/m sex, discipline. If the idea of a discipline relationship between consenting adult men offends you, so will this story.


Adult Education

The insistent blaring of the siren echoed in the confines of the cheerless dormitory, forcing Alex Krycek from sleep. Alex stretched gingerly, too well aware of how his body still ached from the previous day. He shuddered, remembering. At least it was over.

Slowly, he drew his knees up under his stomach and began the painful process of getting out of the narrow bunk.

He started as the swarthy man leaned over him.

"Up, Alex," Luis Cardinale said. "They want you again. Piss and let's go." Alex looked at him in horror and disbelief.

"No," he protested. "Oh, no, no. I hurt so bad. Please Luis, they had me yesterday."

"It doesn't make any difference." Cardinale took him by the scruff of the neck and hauled him into the bathroom.

"Shut up," Cardinale said carelessly. "No one's going to listen to you anyway, don't make them mad. They can really make it hurt, Alex. Trust me, you don't want that." Alex tried to control his tears. If the Brit saw him crying, he'd be caned for sure. And if Spender saw him crying, well, Alex had learned long ago that tears just excited the big man.

"An enema first," the Englishman said brusquely to the white coated doctor. "He doesn't like them and he won't cooperate, so put the restraints on." Alex opened his mouth to protest, to promise he would be good, but the man's cold pale eyes stopped him.

"I warned you before," he said to Alex. "This time you're going to be restrained. If you are still a problem, it is going to get even worse. There are a lot of ways to do this." The threat was terrifying in its vagueness.

"No, please," Alex begged. The neatly manicured man smiled gently.

"On the table, Alex," he said in his soft voice. Alex shook his head in a fearful, desperate gesture of refusal. The man sighed.

"You never learn, Alex," he said. As he walked away, Alex sagged with relief, forgetting for a brief moment that the Englishman's kindness was more suspect than his cruelty. The man returned with a slender cane.

"I suggest you start being more cooperative, Alex. Turn around and bend over. Put your hands on the chair." Alex gulped and froze in place. Cardinale moved towards Alex, but the man shook his head.

"Let him show a little self control. The chair, Alex. Now. Lower your pants and underwear." Knowing he had no recourse, knowing it would only get worse, Alex obeyed. His hands shook as he worked the elastic waistbands of sweats and boxers down his thighs. The Englishman frowned.

"All the way off, Alex." Alex complied. His palms left wet stains as he gripped the chair.

Even Cardinale winced at the ferocity of the first cut of the cane. Alex howled as the whippy cane bit into his ass, leaving a line of red fire in its wake.

"Count the strokes or I'll repeat them," the cold voice said warningly. The man brought the cane down a second time. Alex's head snapped back.

"One! Two! Oh shit, no!" The Englishman scowled and hit him again.

"That's your 'one,'" he said. "Don't curse. Remember to thank me. You little bastard." Alex had broken for the door.

"Luis, if you please." Cardinale slammed Alex's fleeing body hard against the wall. Caught Alex's wrists in an iron grip, dragged him back across the room. Alex fought desperately to get loose. Cardinale cracked his hands down, once, hard, against the back of the wooden chair. An agonized wail filled the room. The Englishman smiled grimly.

"See to it he doesn't move." Cardinale held him grimly.

"Stay still," he said fiercely. Then, leaning forward, in a whisper intended for Alex alone, "Please, baby."

The Englishman's eyes narrowed. So, the thug was soft on the punk. How useful to know. Without warning, he slashed the cane across Alex's blue white ass, adding another achingly red stripe. Alex shuddered.

"Two," he said. "Thank you, sir." He wasn't stupid, just scared. The Englishman never lost these battles. Alex tried not to whimper. Tears, begging, whimpering all availed you nothing. Better to submit and hope, helplessly, that the hurt would be quick.

"Three. Thank you, sir." Oh god.

"Four. Thank you, sir." How many more to come?

"Five." Hurts. " Thank you, sir." The Englishman shook his head. Lovely, lovely white skin. So pretty with its pattern of crimson stripes. He turned the cane sideways, laid the sixth stripe diagonally, so that it bisected the others. Alex's back arched as his head snapped back.

"Six thank you sir thank you thank you thank you," he screamed, his words garbling with pain. The Englishman chuckled. It was a pleasure to know how much Alex hated this.

"Where were we before you made this little demonstration necessary, Alex? Ah. On the table, please. Kneel. Forearms flat. Drop your head." Nauseous and sweating with pain, Alex obeyed. Oh god. Oh no. This was going to hurt.

"He should cooperate now. Please begin, doctor. We are already behind schedule." Alex trembled as the doctor efficiently clipped the restraints to his wrists and ankles, extended the straps across his elbows, the back of his knees, effectively pinning him in place, ass up. He shivered at the unpleasant sound of a latex glove snapping into place, cried out involuntarily as the doctor spread his striped cheeks and examined him dispassionately, his index finger forcing its way into the tight anus. Satisfied with his cursory exploration, the doctor lubricated the slender nozzle of the enema and slid it high into Alex despite his whimpers. Alex tensed, but he was trapped. He felt liquid begin to flow into him. The pressure quickly transformed to pain. Against his will, Alex began to cry. This was only the beginning, he knew. Worse was yet to come.

Alex's butt was throbbing and his stomach still cramping uncomfortably when he was led into the second room. Alex looked at the deceptively innocent bed in the center. He knew how much pain it could contain. He knelt, wincing at the pain in his recently caned bottom.

"He's yours to enjoy," the Englishman said to CGB Spender. "Use the call button if you require assistance. I assure you he is thoroughly clean."

Spender nodded his thanks.

"There are medical personnel available, should they be needed? Good."

The Englishman left the room. Spender looked at Alex.

"You don't look happy, Alex." Casually he slapped Alex across the face. "Smile, Alex. Have the grace to pretend you are glad to see me. " Another stinging slap. Alex gagged involuntarily.

"Sorry, sir, thank you, sir," Alex whispered. Please, please let this be one of the easy times. Let Spender just slap him around, screw him and let him go. Don't let him do the other things. Alex caught his breath painfully as Spender pushed him onto the bed.

"Kneel, Alex. Put your elbows on the mattress. Head on your arms. Keep still. I'm going to examine you." Alex resumed the all too familiar position, biting his lip. "Please, Mr. Spender, don't, please don't please..." A sharp smack crackled across his sore and welted ass. Alex wailed. Spender slapped him a second time.

"This is going to be fun, Alex. Relax. I haven't killed you yet." Alex was still gasping from the pain of the second impact. A gloved, well-lubricated finger worked its way into his ass. "Still tight. My poor Alex. This is going to hurt. A lot." A laugh with no humor in it. Another thick finger worked its way in beside the first. Alex's back arched and he moaned. Spender laughed. "This is going to be a very long session, Alex, if you don't try to relax."

"I will want to use him again later, " CGB Spender said, turning to the Englishman with a satisfied smile. "Have him taken back to the dormitory for now. Oh, and have the doctor do something about the bleeding first. I wouldn't want the sheets ruined."

Alex lay facedown on his bed. He hurt worse than he had ever hurt. And Spender had promised to continue the session that afternoon. Alex wished fervently that he were dead. At least then he might not hurt anymore. He shivered when Luis Cardinale touched his shoulder.

"It's time to go upstairs again, Alex," he said, not unsympathetically. Shit, the blood was still oozing down the punk's thighs. Motherfuckers.

"Please, Luis, please, don't take me back," Alex sobbed. " Please, I'm so, so sore. He hurt me so bad. He's going to do it again." His crying tapered off as reality set in. Cardinale had him firmly by his upper arm. There was no emotion in the man's flat, empty face.

"Shut up, Alex. It's a job, punk, that's all. I don't have a choice anymore than you do."

The room was empty save for the Englishman.

"Mr. Spender regrets it is impossible for him to join you this afternoon, Alex. He will make up for your disappointment tomorrow. In the meanwhile, there is a small matter we need to attend to." The Englishman smiled chillingly.

"My dear Luis," he continued, fixing Cardinale with an ice-cold stare. "Alex doesn't seem to understand his place. He is here to serve. He is here to be fucked. Make it clear to him, Luis. Fuck him. Now. I want to watch."

Luis Cardinale had done many ugly things in his life. He didn't give a shit about any of them. But Alex had been a favorite of his from the first time he had seen how hard the punk fought back. Cardinale knew guts when he saw them. And he knew he didn't have them. He never had.

Alex was momentarily too shocked to protest. His silence made it barely possible to imagine he welcomed the swarthy man's touch. Cardinale clung to that faint possibility. The little bitch was used to taking it up the ass. The little bitch probably enjoyed it. Shit, the fucking bitch probably loved it. Cardinale worked his cock with his hand, trying to block out Alex's stunned eyes, his trembling body. Forced himself to think about the last girl he'd fucked. Big tits. Tight cunt. He slipped the condom the Englishman handed him over his cock. Spread the pale, bruised buttocks. Used the meager slick of gel the man squeezed into his hand to lubricate the outside of the hidden opening.

"Please sir, don't make him do this to me," Alex begged brokenly, trying desperately to catch the Englishman's eye. "Please, I'll do what I'm told. I'll be good. I won't struggle. Please give me another chance. Please don't make him do this!" The Englishman looked mildly bored.

"Stop begging, Alex," he chided. "Luis, you will do as I asked. Now."

"Please, Luis, no! I'm so sore. Don't hurt me! Please don't hurt me! No, Luis, no, not you too! Please Luis, I'm begging you, don't. Please don't. Please..."

That terrified, despairing voice. Why won't the punk shut up? Why won't the little bitch stop begging, Cardinale thought. Doesn't he get it? I have no choice. Fucking bitch!

Cardinale pried Alex's buttocks further apart, pressed mercilessly into him, heedless of Alex's strangled yelps. Goddamn motherfucking bitch, making him feel bad like this. Little bitch deserved this. Luis thrust harder into the tight cavity, guilt making him angry and cruel. Bitch. Fucking little bitch. Asked for it. He felt his balls tighten and thrust harder. Aah. Done. Felt himself wither and slip out. The condom was slick with blood.

Alex lay motionless, his face ghost pale. His eyes dead. He had stopped crying. What was the point? The Englishman had demonstrated, better than ever before, how little good it did. How little he was worth.

"Thank Luis, Alex," the Englishman said softly.

"Thank him for the valuable lesson." Alex obediently moistened his lips.

"Thank you, sir," he said expressionlessly. Thank you for teaching me the truth. I mean nothing to anyone. I am nothing. It was a lesson in betrayal that he was never to forget.

Morning came too quickly. Neither Luis nor Alex spoke as the thug escorted Alex upstairs. The Englishman and Spender were waiting, smiling coldly. The white-coated doctor stood alongside them. Alex closed his eyes for a moment, then wordlessly removed his pants and underwear and unbidden, positioned himself on the examining table. He sighed almost inaudibly as the doctor spread his cheeks and slipped the enema nozzle into him. The Englishman nodded his head with grim satisfaction. Alex had learned his lesson well.

The procedure completed, Alex sank to his knees before the Englishman and Spender.

"Mr. Spender is eager to play with you again, Alex," the Englishman said softly. Alex nodded his head obediently.

"Thank you, sir," he whispered. He followed Spender into the second room, barely shuddered when the man indicated the bed. Spender noted with pleasure how unusually compliant Alex was. He pressed Alex to his knees, tugged him forward onto his forearms. Parting the bruised cheeks, he slid his lubricated forefinger into the swollen, tender anus. Licked his lips lasciviously at Alex's tiny moan. He forced Alex's buttocks further apart, worked his hand deeper into the desperately contracting sphincter. Alex writhed desperately as Spender pressed yet another digit inside him.

"No!" Panicky with pain, Alex twisted out of reach as Spender, cursing, yanked his hand free. Too late, Alex realized his mistake. Quivering with shock and fear, he stammered a futile apology. To his horror, he saw Spender reach for the call button. The Englishman was going to kill him, Alex thought sickly.

"Please, I'm--"

"An incredibly badly behaved amateur whore, who is going to learn a badly needed lesson in obedience," the Englishman hissed, his voice softer and more dangerous than ever.

"Beat him," CGB Spender said grimly.

"I intend to, sir," the Englishman assured him. "Would you like to be present for his chastisement?"

"Would that I had the time," Spender said, lighting a cigarette. "I know you'll be thorough." They exchanged polite good-byes.

"Very well then," said the Englishman, as the door closed quietly after Spender "Darling Alex. You are going to learn a hard lesson." The Englishman took the thicker and heavier of the two canes from the shelf.

"This is the third time in two days I have had to punish you, Alex. I am running out of patience. You are going to get twelve strokes of the cane. If you know what's good for you, you will bend over and take them. If you defy me again, I will string you up by your wrists and beat you until you pass out."

Alex gulped. He had no doubt that the man would do it. He tried to walk to the wooden chair, but he was trembling too badly to keep his balance. Alex stumbled against the chair, catching his chin on the high back. Licked the blood from his lips. The Englishman's cold eyes watched without compassion.

"I'm waiting, Alex." Well-manicured nails tapped impatiently on the heavy cane. Alex took a shallow, frightened breath.

"Please, sir," he said. "Please, I tried, I really tried. Please, I'll be good, I'll do whatever you want. Please, let me suck you. Fuck me. Anything. I'm good, I really am, I'll do anything you want. Only please don't punish me. Please don't beat me. Please, I'll do anything!"

A vicious slash of the cane across his back practically flattened him. The Englishman brought the cane down across his ass in a hail of relentless of strokes.

"Don't ever, ever beg me like this again. Don't ever suggest your mouth or your ass is worth anything to me. You are a miserable, worthless piece of shit who is lucky, lucky that we let you continue to live. This is your final chance. Stand up. Bend over. " Alex shook harder, unable to control his terror.

Abruptly, the Englishman seized Alex's wrists, snapped leather cuffs around them. Reached upwards, clipped the cuffs to a dangling length of cable. Winched the cable to the ceiling.

Alex twisted desperately, panicked, as his arms were wrenched above his head and his feet left the floor. The Englishman smiled grimly.

"You will learn, Alex, that you are nothing to me. Pain is a potent teacher. I am going to beat you until you learn what it is to wish you were dead." With cruel menace he cracked the heavy cane across the small of Alex's back.

Alex screamed then, a thin, inhuman sound. And screamed, and screamed, and screamed. The cane bit again and again until bright spots of agony danced before Alex's eyes. Until finally, mercifully, there was only black.

Thank you for teaching me the truth. I mean nothing to anyone. I am nothing.

This hospital's security is really shamefully lax, Walter thought, flashing his FBI badge at the disinterested guard. Fox and Walter stood shoulder to shoulder, contemplating their wounded nemesis. Alex Krycek lay motionless, his body pale and limp, a tangle of tubes protruding from every orifice. Garish bruises, even bluer in the cold fluorescent hospital light. Restraints held his arm and legs fast. Even his head and torso were confined by straps.

"He looks like a trussed chicken, poor bastard. Why do they have him restrained like that? " Walter asked irritably. "Surely he's too sick to go anywhere?"

"I told you before," Fox said patiently. "Scully says that he never stops fighting the doctors. They've been keeping him sedated, but as soon as he surfaces, he starts to struggle again. He's ripped some of the tubes out two, three times." Walter winced.

"What's the prognosis?" Walter asked Fox.

"Scully says he'll live. There doesn't seem to be any brain damage. The other wounds are healing cleanly. He's looking at consecutive life sentences in a maximum-security facility at best, execution at worst." Fox closed his eyes.

"It doesn't seem fair, Walter. That bastard Spender landed on his feet. So did so many of the others. No one's going to be there for Krycek this time either." Walter nodded. It was true. Those members of the Consortium elite who had survived had no loyalty to its old operatives. Alex would once again be left to twist in the wind. He remembered the blank look he'd seen in the green eyes as he kneeled alongside the bleeding form on the concrete floor. Alex's pitiful whisper.

"Hurts. 'M'sorry, Skinner. " Alex's eyes closed as his blood continued to puddle around him. It was purest luck that the EMS team had gotten to the garage in time to stabilize him, that despite Walter's usually excellent marksmanship, none of the multiple bullets had wounded the man fatally.

Walter looked, really looked, at the broken body strapped to the hospital bed. There were more than bullet wounds. There was the disfigured stump that was all that remained of the man's arm. And there were other marks that spoke of long years of cruelty and abuse. Of beatings, burnings. Whippings that had broken the skin. The man's body was a roadmap of old scars.

Quite suddenly, Walter knew that he could not abide this. He looked up, to find Fox Mulder's beautiful hazel eyes watching him steadily. Fox nodded his head, his soft hair falling forward over his forehead.

"I know," Fox said. "Krycek's a sonofabitch, but he was our sonofabitch, once. We have to help him. " As he had been so many times before, Walter was glad for his lover's perceptiveness. He took Fox's hand gently, toyed lovingly with the slender fingers, glad that they agreed on what needed to be done. The only question now was, how?

"I want you to stay back, Fox," Walter warned. "This can get very ugly, very fast. I still have whatever dubious protection and credibility an FBI badge offers. You, I needn't point out, don't. Let me reach out to some of my contacts and see what I can turn up."

"Walter Skinner?"

Walter gripped the phone more tightly. He didn't recognize the slightly sibilant voice.

"I hear you need a favor. I'll do it for you."

"Who are you?"

"My name's not important. Krycek's an old friend." Walter hid his surprise that Alex Krycek had any old friends.

"How much will it take?" Walter asked.

"Forget about it. I owe him." Walter shook his head. This was a new wrinkle.

"You understand that there has to be an exchange? The dead body substituted for his? It has to be missing an arm," Walter said.

"I'll take care of it. Leave your car in the hospital parking garage unlocked. He'll be in the back seat." The phone went dead before Walter could say anything more.

One more detail to put in place, Walter thought. He hoped Fox and Dana's relationship was still strong enough to make Fox's appeal to her successful.

"I don't understand why you're doing this," Scully said. "You owe him nothing." Her former partner fixed hazel puppy dog eyes on her perfect face.

"You've seen what he looks like, Scully. There isn't an inch of unblemished skin on his body. Some of those scars are almost as old as he is, poor bastard. He was as much a Consortium victim anyone else." Scully winced, knowing Mulder was thinking of Samantha. Knew the futility of challenging his logic once his sympathy was engaged.

"Tell me what you need, Mulder." Scully made her decision.

"We want to move him tonight. Set the machines so the alarms won't go off when he's taken off them. A dead body will be substituted for Krycek's. Do the autopsy. Determine the cause of death to be heart failure, stroke, anything that won't set off alarm bells. Identify the body as Krycek. Here are his prints. Close his file. Make him officially dead. It's the only way to get him off the radar screen for good."

"And what then?"

"Alex Krycek will wake up in our house, God help us all," Mulder said ruefully. "I only hope he's easier to control at home than he was at work, otherwise we may have to kill him after all."

The heavyset orderly pushed the cart of soiled linen past the indifferent security guard and into the private room where Alex lay, restrained and heavily sedated, on the bed. Calmly, Luis Cardinale hauled the heavy cadaver out of the bottom of his cart and dumped it unceremoniously alongside Alex. One arm had been hacked off. Shit. Seeing the two bodies, one dead, one alive, lying next to each other gave him the creeps. He crossed himself superstitiously,

The machines remained silent as Cardinale clumsily yanked various tubing free of Alex's still form. Cardinale unstrapped Alex; strapped the cadaver in his place. Crossed himself again.

Cardinale studied Alex's battered body for a long moment, then lifted him with surprising gentleness. Christ. The man weighed almost nothing. He put Alex into the laundry cart, concealed him under a wrinkled sheet.

Once again Cardinale made his way unnoticed past the security guard. Took the elevator to the basement level and rolled the cart alongside Skinner's car. Carefully, almost tenderly, Luis Cardinale slid Alex's limp, broken body into the back seat. Pulled a sheet over the naked form.

"I'm sorry I raped you, Alex," he whispered, knowing his apology went unheard.

Alex was deep in another nightmare. Walter Skinner and Fox Mulder were standing together like lovers, looking at him as he lay, helpless, in a strange bed.

"Are you awake now, Alex?" Walter asked gently.

Alex's pale face went even whiter. He blinked. Shit. This wasn't a dream. This was a nightmare. Yes, a real life, full color nightmare was exactly how Alex would describe his position.

"Oh shit, let me go. What the fuck do you want from me? Please don't hurt me. I don't know anything!" He was ashamed of how craven he sounded. But the pain from the bullets...Skinner's bullets...

"Don't panic, Alex. You're going to be all right. Trust me," Walter said. The stark terror in the green eyes was painful to see.

"You shot me, you fucking shot me," Alex groaned. "How the fuck am I supposed to trust you?"

"That's a very good question, Alex," Walter said conversationally. "I could ask the same of you. Kindly remember, you were ready to take out Fox."

"I wouldn't have done it," Alex whispered. Then, very softly, "You did." He was quiet for a moment.

"I deserved it, after the nanocytes," Alex finally said sadly. Walter shook his head.

"In my experience, Alex, very few of us get what we deserve. Or deserve what we get. I doubt you're any exception." Walter extended his hand to smooth back Alex's disheveled hair, hesitated as Alex cringed.

"I wasn't going to hit you, Alex. You're safe here. Try and rest now." Where's here, Alex wondered wildly. The bed was soft and the sheets felt smooth and cool. The room was quiet. A house, not a hospital.

"I don't get this," Alex muttered under his breath, wincing as he struggled into a sitting position. Shit, he hurt.

"What the fuck am I going to do now?"

"You can stay here, Alex, as long as you behave yourself," Fox offered.

"What the fuck are you talking about, 'behave?'" Alex asked savagely. "What are you going to do if I don't behave, Fox, beat the shit out of me? Fuck that, and fuck you too!"

"You will be punished if you don't behave, Alex. Trust me on that," Fox warned.

"Shit, Fox, what're you going to do to me?" Alex's sullen expression failed to mask his fear.

"You've been caned before, judging from your scars. I think that might work again," Fox said.

"No! Please, I hate that shit, Fox. I had enough of it when I worked for the Brit. Please, Fox, I really, truly hate it."

"That's why it's called punishment, Alex. You'd better behave then, if you don't want to be caned," Fox said, his voice hardening. "Or go somewhere else. "

"No," said Alex softly. He thought fearfully of who might be out there, wanting a piece of him. Fox at his worst seemed a safer bet.

"Please Fox, let me stay here. I'll be good. Please don't hurt me. " Fox took a deep breath. Walter interrupted him before he could speak.

"Alex," said Walter. "You can stay here until you want to leave. You're not going to be caned if you don't agree to it, Alex, I promise. This is not about coercion. Fox, let him alone now."

"Walter!" Fox protested. Walter looked at him for a long moment.

"Come with me Fox, I want to talk to you, " Walter said, taking Fox aside and lowering his voice so that Alex wouldn't overhear.

"Fox." Walter's voice was very firm. "You're being cruel. Leave Alex alone. I won't have you threatening him again. If you do, I will punish you. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Walter." Fox's voice was soft, hurt.

"I'm not angry, Fox. I love you. Don't be sad. And yes, I do feel guilty. Let me work it out." He headed downstairs.

Literally, he did. After thirty-five sweat soaked minutes he emerged from the basement. The punching bag had loosened his back and neck. He would have to try again to interest Fox in it. Walter knew he needed something to convince Fox to keep his hands off Alex.

Walter pondered Fox's complicated relationship with Alex. Fox was a natural mentor, genuinely concerned, genuinely kind. Walter thought sadly that Fox must have been a wonderful older brother. The tragedy that had denied him that role had left him achingly vulnerable. Walter knew that Fox had taken Alex's deception and defection personally.

I felt that way when Alex first screwed with my department, Walter thought, but time made me less angry. Time didn't seem to mellow Fox's feelings at all. Neither the ferocity of his anguish over Samantha's disappearance, nor the fierceness of his rage over Alex's betrayal. Nor his inclination to beat Alex to a pulp.

Walter knew Mulder's childhood had been lonely even before Samantha vanished and that it had grown more so in the wake of the tragedy. In the early days of their relationship, Walter had despaired of ever being able to live with Fox, who was capable of demanding attention with tantrums of a ferocity Walter had scarce patience for.

The first time Walter had spanked Fox, it had shocked both men. One moment Fox was screaming obscenities, the next he was face down, ass up, over Walter's knee as Walter whaled away at his bottom with his bare hand, his louder voice drowning out Fox's cries.

"Enough, Fox. Stop cursing. Stop shouting. Behave like a brat and I'll treat you like a brat. Behave like a man and I'll treat you like a man."

"Spank me! That's right! Spank me! I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry..." Fox's angry, sarcastic challenges subsided into heartbroken apologies, as he sobbed without stopping. Walter was shocked at the broken quality of his cries. He hugged Fox, stroked his soft, brown hair. Fox gradually quieted, only to lock himself in the bathroom when Walter released him. Walter paced anxiously, not sure whether or not to intrude, not sure whether or not to apologize.

It was Fox who was able to lend some coherence to the afternoon's events, Fox who was able to reassure Walter that he had merely met, and very well at that, Fox's need for discipline and forgiveness. Who had finally convinced Walter that corporal punishment was what he truly craved. What he truly needed.

It had taken awhile to get the kinks out of their discipline relationship, Walter thought to himself, chuckling a bit at the bad pun. It very quickly became clear that a spanking unnerved Fox completely, that it was too little pain and too much intimacy. The belt they tried next also frightened Fox, for it evoked too many memories of pain and anger. The cane, however...

Walter took a deep breath. Canes had never appealed to him. On the other hand, Mulder adored them. A true Anglophile, Fox cherished every bit of the ritual... Bending over the chair. Confession. The willing submission, the counting and thanking. And, most of all, the comfort afterwards. The enormous relief of having a clear slate. Forgiveness.

The panic-stricken look on Alex's face at Fox's mention of punishment had clued Walter in to the fact that it held a very different meaning for Alex. Judging from the scars on his body, he had been brutally abused before. Obviously punishment was something he loathed. It didn't make him feel safe. It didn't make him feel held. It terrified him.

Walter heard the small cough at the door. Looked up into Alex's green, worried eyes.

"Walter," he said without preliminaries. "Do you punish Fox when he's bad? Is that what you guys are into? Because I really don't like that scene, OK? I mean, I really can't see myself being good forever, and I hate being disciplined. Punished. I'm never going to let anyone hurt me again. Thanks for getting me out of that fucking hospital. I owe you both. I'm going now."

"Discipline doesn't mean hurting another person," Walter replied. "That's not what punishment is about." Alex snorted.

"Yeah, right. What the fuck else is it about?" Alex asked grimly. Walter sighed.

"It's about helping someone grow. It's an understanding between two people that one of them needs help, a special kind of help, to overcome behaviors that hurt them and learn new behaviors that will help and support them. It's about relearning certain lessons--" Walter broke off as Alex turned abruptly away.

"Look, Walter," Alex mumbled, his head down. "I know all about lessons. Spender and the Brit taught me mine a long time ago. I don't need any more." His throat was tight with remembered pain. Walter took a deep breath.

"Alex, a discipline relationship isn't for everyone, I certainly realize that. But I really, truly think it might be helpful to you. We can agree on whatever limits to punishment make you feel safe. Even if you tell me the most severe punishment you'll ever accept is a hand spanking your butt. Or being stood in the corner. Or writing lines. What works for Fox may not do it at all for you. That'd be fine. Or you could say no to being disciplined at all. I'd still want you to stay. I just don't think I'd be much help to you."

Alex turned towards Walter again. His eyes searched Walter's face for signs of mockery or deceit, found none.

"I wouldn't have to be caned?" he asked. "I wouldn't have to thank you for each stroke and the rest of that fucking shit? You wouldn't beat me with your belt? If I said no? I could just be spanked, like a kid someone cared about?"

Walter heard the longing in Alex's voice.

"Of course, Alex," he said softly. "Whatever you felt would be helpful. Although I have to be honest, I have a hard hand. My spankings hurt." Alex laughed, the first uncensored sound Walter had ever heard from him.

"Yeah, right. I'll take my chances, Walter." Then, very softly, "Does Fox get to hit me too?"

"Spanking and hitting are not the same thing, Alex. No, I don't think that'd work too well. Fox has his own needs and they're different than yours."

"So you'd punish me? Like you punish Fox? But just with your hand, no cane, no belt, no paddle? You promise?" Alex asked. Walter nodded.

"I promise. Only my hand, Alex."

"What about fucking? Do you both get to fuck me?" Alex asked.

"Is that all you think you are to us, Alex? Some sort of sex toy?" Walter shook his head in horrified disbelief. Alex looked down.

Thank you for teaching me the truth. I mean nothing to anyone. I am nothing.

"I don't see why else you'd want me to stay," he whispered defensively. " I've got one arm. I'm broke. I screwed both of you over once before. Why would you give a flying fuck about me?" Walter sighed.

"We can't sort all of this out this minute, Alex," he said gently. "It's going to take time. Stay here awhile. Give it a chance. Let's see if we can't make this work. And just for the record, Alex, neither of us is going to 'fuck' you. We're not going to force you to trade sex for safety. Believe it or not, Alex, we care about you."

"Speak for yourself, Walter," Fox said lightly, leaning into the doorway. "I just want to keep him because he looks cute." Alex sputtered. Walter laughed. Fox walked past Alex and draped himself over Walter's shoulder, nuzzling the back of his neck ostentatiously. Walter frowned at how demonstrative Fox was being. Alex laughed at Walter's discomfort.

"Do you like watching, Alex? Or would you rather be watched?" Fox asked. Alex swallowed hard.

"Sure. Fine. Whatever." Something in his flat tone brought the psychologist in Mulder to the fore.

"I'm sorry, Alex," he said, untangling himself from Walter. "I was only kidding around. Take it easy, Alex, we're really not all that kinky." To Fox and Walter's shock, Alex was swaying, his face slack and gray. Fox and Walter moved swiftly to either side of Alex, supporting him, careful of his missing arm, his newer injuries. They half-walked, half-carried him back to his bed. He moaned as they carefully laid him down, then turned to face the wall. Fox rubbed Alex's back gently with preternaturally sensitive fingertips, feeling his panic in his corded muscles.

"Easy, easy," he murmured. "How can I help you? Alex was silent. Fox looked at Walter. By mutual agreement, Walter seated himself on the bed, eased Alex's head into his lap. Stroked the dark hair, rubbed the stiff shoulders with firm, gentle hands. Alex cringed.

"Ah, shit, Walter, let me up. I'm fine," Alex said, struggling shamefacedly to free himself from Walter's embrace. Walter let Alex sit up.

"Easy, Alex, easy," Fox said softly. "Walter's not going to hurt you. Shh, what's the matter? I know what I said about watching upset you. I'm sorry, Alex. It was just a joke."

"I'm OK, Fox. Just let me alone," Alex said miserably. Fox and Walter looked at each other. Alone sounded like the last thing Alex really wanted.

"Come bunk with us, Alex," Fox said. "We've got plenty of room in our bed. You don't have to do anything, just sleep. I really do mean sleep," he soothed, seeing the abject fear in Alex's eyes. As much fear as he had ever seen in an adult's eyes. Fox stroked Alex's cheek gently, trying to keep him in the present. Sensed rather than felt Alex shrink from his caress. Drew back his hand.

Fox realized just how badly traumatized Alex was at the same moment as Walter did. He looked helplessly at Walter. It was clear to both of them that they had underestimated how damaged the former Consortium assassin was.

"Alex, you're safe here," Walter said, trying for some semblance of normalcy in his tone. "It's all right, I promise. Easy, try and breathe through it, we know you're afraid. We won't hurt you. Breathe, Alex, that's it, deep down. Let it out slowly. That's it, that's good." Alex's eyes moved from Walter to Fox and back again. He shook his head as if to clear it.

"I'm--it's OK if you want to fuck me," he said softly. "I'm used to it." Fox and Walter's eyes met over the tense body.

"I meant what I said before, Alex," Walter said. "You don't have to trade sex for safety. I know sex was pretty much coin of the realm inside the Consortium. But it's not like that here. Get some sleep; you're barely healed. Call if you need something. Come on, Fox. " The two men left the room.

"Shit, Walter, did you see his eyes?" Fox asked. Walter nodded.

"It makes me glad we rescued him. I sure as hell never expected a reaction like that from Alex Krycek."

Alex lay in the spare room, feeling like a fucking idiot. Stupid, he cursed himself. To let yourself be seen as vulnerable was asking for trouble. He gritted his teeth. He was going to show those bastards he was fine. "Just sleep." What the fuck was that about? He bet Walter and Fox didn't "just sleep." Resolutely, Alex shoved his fear into the deep place where he had long ago learned to put inconvenient emotions. You didn't get anything without paying for it. And sex was currency.

Stealthily Alex crept down the hall to Walter and Fox's bedroom. The door was closed, but not locked. Alex slipped silently inside.

Walter and Fox lay tangled in each other and the bedding. From the sleepy smiles on their faces it was obvious they were both well fucked and satisfied. Fox lay with his head on Walter's chest, blowing little waves into Walter's chest hair, while Walter stroked Fox's dark hair fondly. Their bellies and thighs still looked sticky and wet. Obviously it bothered them not one whit. Alex took a deep breath, steeled himself. Knelt by the side of the bed, still unnoticed. Leaned over and began to lick Fox's cock clean.

That got their attention. Fox yelped in indignant surprise and Walter slammed Alex back with a hard shove.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Walter asked sharply, retrieving his shorts and jeans. Alex stayed on the floor where he had been pushed.

"I just wanted to say thank you," he muttered sulkily. "Ouch."

"Don't ever, ever touch me without asking again," Fox said, furious. He launched himself at Alex. Alex rolled out of the way. Fox caught him, straddled him. Punched downward sharply. Alex groaned at the impact. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.

"That's enough! Both of you, freeze!" Walter roared. He stood over them, scowling.

"Stop it, Fox. Let go of Alex," Walter said sharply. "Right now. " Fox glowered at Walter mutinously, drawing back his hand for another blow. Walter glared at him.

"You're pushing your limit, Fox. Don't hit him again. This is your last warning. Get off him now. As for you, Alex, what the hell were you thinking? I want you to come into my office with me. We need to talk privately. Fox, find yourself some clothes and something productive to do. Outside." He took the sting out of his words with a soft smile at Fox, who brightened visibly.

Alex stiffened, wondering what Walter didn't want Fox to overhear. He's going to punish me. Oh no oh no oh no... His heart beat uncomfortably fast at the thought.

"All right, Alex," Walter said, his voice very quiet and very sure. "I want to make this absolutely clear. I am very, very disappointed in your behavior. What you did was dangerous, unkind and unacceptable. Fox and I are both trained in self-defense. Startling us like that was a very bad idea. We could have hurt you badly before even realizing who you were. Fox and I are entitled to privacy. You don't just assume your advances are welcome. My feeling is that you deserve to be punished. Spanked. I want to hear what you have to say for yourself."

"Shit," Alex muttered nervously. He fumbled ineffectually at his fly. Walter shook his head.

"No Alex, that's not how I do things. Talk to me first. What did you do wrong and why am I planning to punish you?" Alex shrugged, licked nervously at the blood on his lip.

"I thought you'd like it," he said. "I'm a good whore, you can do anything you want to me. Just tell me how you want me." He tried to steady his breathing.

Walter sighed. This was going to take time to sort out. First things first.

"Come here, Alex, let's get your lip cleaned up." Alex looked at him, puzzled. No one had ever worried about little shit like that before.

"I'm OK," he said.

"No, you're not. You're bleeding. Sit down over there and stay put while I get a washcloth and some ice." Alex was too surprised at Walter's concern to disobey.

Walter daubed carefully at the blood on Alex's chin.

"Open your mouth," he coaxed. "Let me see how bad it is." Almost shyly, Alex let Walter examine him. Walter cupped Alex's jaw in his palm, ran his thumb gently over Alex's lips.

"Keep this on your lip, Alex," he said, putting Alex's good hand over the cloth-wrapped ice. "We don't want it to swell."

"I'm fine, Walter," Alex said impatiently. "Let's just get this over with, OK?" Walter looked at him.

"I want you to tell me why you think I'm going to spank you, Alex," Walter said.

Alex shrugged.

"Because you can," he said sulkily. "How the fuck am I supposed to answer that?" Walter looked at him severely.

"Civilly," Walter said. "That would be a start. If you don't know why you're being punished, you're not going to learn anything from it. Let me take you through this again. One, did Fox or I ask you to service us sexually?" He waited silently. Alex finally realized the question was not rhetorical and answered softly.

"No, sir." Walter winced. The automatic "sir" spoke volumes about how Alex saw his position.

"You don't have to say 'sir' to me, Alex," Walter admonished him gently. "'Walter' is just fine. Now, let me ask you another question. Obviously you are aware that Fox and I are in a relationship. Why do you think we closed our bedroom door?" Alex looked nonplussed.

"You wanted to be alone?" he hazarded.

"Bingo," Walter said. "You knock if a door is closed, Alex. And you wait outside until someone says, "Come in.' Think you can remember that?" Alex nodded slowly.

"Let's go through this one more time, Alex. I am going to spank you because what you did was wrong, Alex. One, startling two trained FBI agents is a bad idea. Someone is going to get hurt. Look at your lip. Two, you don't start licking cum off two sleeping lovers unless you're part of the party. Three, privacy is important. A closed door means either you knock and wait to be asked in, or you keep out. Do you understand now? Do you agree that you deserve to be spanked?" Alex hunched his shoulders uncertainly.

"Yeah, I get it. You're punishing me because you were fucking Fox and I tried to get in on it and you don't want me here and I'm a fucking asshole," Alex said. Walter sighed. This was not going very well at all.

"No, Alex. I can see this isn't going to work." Walter was silent a moment.

"OK, let's try something else. I am going to write out a few rules for you. You are going to copy them over one hundred times each. In your best handwriting. Can you do that?" Walter asked. Alex cocked his head sideways and looked at Walter quizzically.

"You're not going to spank me? I just have to write some freaking shit a hundred times and then I'm off the hook?"

Walter closed his eyes, took off his glasses and rested his elbows on his desk. Rubbed his aching temples.

"You could say that," he agreed, wondering why he had ever thought taming Alex Krycek was a possibility. Pulling himself together, he uncapped his favorite fountain pen and printed carefully.

I will knock when a door is closed and enter only if invited.

My body is my own property.

He slid the pad of paper to Alex. Alex studied the lines for a quiet minute.

"Let me see if I get this. If I write these one hundred times each, you won't spank me?" he asked. Walter shook his head.

"I'm not going to spank you in any case, Alex. I can't punish you if you don't understand what you did wrong. I do want you to write those lines. Let's see if that'll help you understand what the hell I'm upset about."

"OK," Alex shrugged. "You got a pen?" Walter pushed a ballpoint across to him.

"Take your time, Alex. I want you to think about what you're writing." Alex looked at Walter with bewildered eyes.

"I don't get any of this shit," he muttered. Walter would have laughed at the outrage in Alex's tone, if he hadn't been as much touched as amused by the seriousness with which Alex applied himself to his lines.

"Keep working, Alex," Walter said, and went outside to retrieve Fox. Fox was on the patio, absently deadheading the last of the fuchsias. He smiled at Walter's approach.

"I hope he won't sit for a week," Fox said without preamble. Walter sighed.

"Actually he's writing lines. He doesn't have the faintest idea why we're upset with him."

"That's bullshit!" swore Fox. "He's lying, Walter. He knows damn well what he did was wrong. Fuck it all, Walter, he's got to be kept in line. If you won't punish him properly, I will!" He rose, ready to storm into the house. Walter rose alongside him.

"No, Fox," he said, his voice level, his brown eyes fixed on Fox's stormy hazel ones. "You are not going to do any such thing. This is my decision to make, not yours. Remember that, or you're the one whose ass will be toast." Mulder dropped his eyes. He pouted visibly. Walter wondered again just what he had let himself in for in taking Alex in. Fox was obviously spoiling for a fight.

Alex copied the lines, trying to keep his letters neat. Feeling a fool for caring. This was so lame.

I will knock when a door is closed and enter only if invited.

Right. Why the fuck were locks invented? Shit, just try to lock me out. I can open anything. Oh. OK, I think I get it. No locks. Just a closed door. Keep out. This means you, Alex Krycek.

Knock first. Knock. What a joke. All right, fine, I'll fucking knock.

A knock at the door. Knuckles rap on metal.

"Alex Krycek. Come with us."

Some invitation.

I will knock when a door is closed and enter only if invited.

Will they all be closed to me? Will I ever be invited in? Shit, Walter. You're fucking making me teary. I'll knock, OK? I'll wait. Please let me in.

Oh shit.

My body is my own property.

Right. I just rent it out. Some property. Lousy location. Here it is. Long term lease. For sale to the highest bidder. For sale cheap. For sale cheap to a good home.

Like anyone would fucking pay for it now. My body. That's a laugh. Theirs, his, yours. Anyone's. Everyone's.

My body is my own property.

OK. No trespassing, then. Got it.

Oh, I got it all right. Got it in me. Deep in me. In my mouth. Up my ass. Down my throat. Up my nose.

My body is property.

Shit. That's not right.

My body is my own property.

Right. Until the bank forecloses.

Walter, why are you making me do this? You make me think and I don't want to. I'm so tired. My hand hurts. Fuck you, Walter. I'm not going to do this. I...

"Alex, take a break," Walter said gently, seeing Alex hunched tensely and protectively over his paper. Startled green eyes met his concerned brown ones.

"I'm not done, Walter," Alex said hesitantly.

"I know, Alex. Take a short break. Use the bathroom, have a snack. This is going to take you awhile. You might as well be comfortable." Walter smiled encouragingly, pleased at how seriously Alex seemed to take his writing.

Walter had a nice smile, Alex thought to himself. Alex was almost smiling himself as he walked towards the kitchen and Fox. It felt good to be smiled at. Distracted by the unaccustomed pleasure, Alex didn't see Fox's expression until it was too late to escape.

The blow across his face caught him by surprise and started his mouth bleeding freely again. Fox pinned him against the wall, hands on either side of his head.

"What the fuck are you trying to pull, Alex? You think I don't see what you're doing, you manipulative sonofabitch? Yeah, he shot you. You know what, you prick, you deserved it. I don't know what hold you think you have over Walter, but let me tell you..."

"No. Let me tell you. That's enough, Fox," Walter said. "Take your hands off Alex. Now. No, don't talk, you'll just make it worse for yourself. Go into my office, find a corner and wait for me." Fox had gone white at the anger in Walter's voice. He backed hastily out of the room. Walter looked at Alex.

"Easy now, you're bleeding again. Come away from that wall, sit at the table. Put your hand down, let me see." Once again, Walter gently stemmed the bleeding, wrapped ice in a dishcloth, pressed it to the swollen lip. Alex's eyes were bleak. Very, very gently, Walter ran his index finger over the fine lines at their edges. Alex forced himself not to flinch. Walter seemed to know how much the attempt to trust cost Alex.

"Very good, Alex," Walter said, his voice warm with praise. He smiled reassuringly at Alex.

"Get your paper and finish writing your lines in here. I need some time with Fox. And Alex...this doesn't involve you. Stay out of it. Don't interfere. I mean it." Alex nodded, indicating he understood the warning. Just what was Walter going to do to Fox, he wondered? It didn't sound as if it was going to be either quiet or pleasant. Punishment. Involuntarily, Alex shivered.

Walter was not altogether surprised to find Fox sprawled on the office couch, perusing the newspaper, rather than standing in the corner as he'd been ordered. Fox raised his eyebrow at Walter's entrance. Walter sighed.

"Fox, corner," he said wearily. "Don't make me tell you again." Reluctantly, Fox dropped the paper to the floor and pushed himself up from the couch. Made his way to the corner and turned his face to the wall.

"Happy, Walter?" Fox asked sarcastically. Walter gritted his teeth. It was Fox, not him, who needed this ritual. Walter would have been just as happy just to talk things through with Fox, but he knew it would be a while yet before Fox would truly hear anything he wanted to say.

"No, Fox, I'm not happy. I'm disappointed. We both agreed to take Alex in. That means we have a responsibility towards him. You have no right to slap him around like that. If he needs to be disciplined, I will take care of it. This isn't the first time we've discussed this, Fox. I am going to punish you. Six strokes with the cane, Fox. You need to listen to me when I tell you something." Fox flinched, then ducked his head.

"I know I was wrong. I deserve to be punished," Fox said dismally. "But Walter, six strokes? I'm sorry. Come on, cut me some slack?" Walter studied Fox carefully. It was always hard to judge whether Fox's appeals for clemency were genuine, or whether he wanted Walter to really take him to task.

"Not this time, Fox," Walter said firmly. Fox had earned the full six strokes.

"Pants and boxers down, Fox." With nervous hands, Fox worked the button on his khakis open, the zipper down. The pants slid easily from his slender hips. He tugged his boxers down, shivering a little as the inevitability of what was about to happen sank in.

"Bend over the chair, please," Walter said very gently, seeing how shaky Fox was.

"Hold on to the sides, Fox," he added. "Keep your hands still. Breathe, Fox, breathe. Tell me why you're being punished." Silence. Walter stroked Fox's hip gently.

"How are you doing, Fox?" he asked softly. "Talk to me."

"I'm all right, Walter," Fox said softly. "Just nervous." Walter nodded. He could certainly understand that. He would be too, if his ass were bared for that cane.

"Now, Fox, " Walter said quietly. "Tell me what this punishment is for." Fox tried hard to follow Walter's instructions.

"I hit Alex. You told me not to, and I hit him anyway. I have to listen when you tell me something. I can't hit Alex even if I want to. I'm not allowed to punish him. Even if he deserves it, the doublecrossing little rat bastard." Fox sounded bitter and not in the least repentant. Walter sighed inwardly, but gave no outward sign that he was in the least distressed by the task before him. He reached under the desk for the thin, whippy cane Fox had purchased for his use.

"Count the strokes, Fox," Walter said, his voice sure and caring. "Remember to thank me." Fox's face was white. Breathing hard, trembling, he awaited his punishment.

With a crisp swish Walter brought the cane down hard across the pale flesh of Fox's buttocks. Fox jerked reflexively, but his hands remained steady.

"Ow ow ow! One, sir, thank you, sir," he gasped out. Walter nodded grimly, placed a second line of fire below the first. Again Fox's body contracted against the biting pain.

"Shit! Two, sir, thank you, sir," Fox choked out. "Oh God that hurts." Walter steeled himself. Fox needed to be able to scream. It was part of the release only this rough justice ever gave him. The third stroke left another red stripe parallel to the first two.

"Three! Thank you, sir," Fox panted. God oh God oh God, why had he ever thought this was a good idea.

"Please, Walter, no more, stop, it's too much. Please, Walter, I'm sorry, I won't do it again. Oh God, Walter, no more!" Fox begged. Walter knew from long experience that Fox always panicked half way through a punishment. That he needed, wanted to be supported through his fear.

"Easy, Fox," Walter said softly, rubbing his hand in gentle circles on the small of Fox's back. "Half way done. Three more strokes and it's all over. You're doing good, Fox. I'm proud of you. Breathe now, you'll be all right, I promise." Fox took a shuddering breath.

"Hurts," he whispered.

"I know, Fox. That's why it's called punishment. Three more strokes and then we're done. Come Fox, count them for me. " Withdrawing his hand, Walter gripped the cane firmly, raised his arm to shoulder lever and snapped the cane down. A fourth line appeared parallel to the first three.

"Aargh! Jesus! Four, sir, thank you, sir," Fox gasped. Walter brought his arm down yet again. Five perfect welts.

"Five! Five! Ow ow ow ow ow! Thank you sir," Fox wailed. Walter grimaced and steeled himself. Brought the cane smartly across Fox's buttocks in a final stroke.

"Six! Six thank you sir!" Fox yelped. He stood up quickly, swayed for a minute, lightheaded. Walter caught his arm.

"Easy, Fox, all over. You were very, very brave. Shh, it's all forgiven, I love you, come to me now." Walter seated himself, eased Fox's head into his lap, Fox's lanky body sideways onto the couch. Winced at the six red lines glowing against Fox's pale skin, the tear tracks glistening on Fox's cheeks.

"Do you hate me?" Fox asked. Walter shook his head.

"Fox. I love you. I forgive you. You made a mistake, Fox, that's all. You've been punished. It's all over. All forgiven. This is a fresh start." Fox sniffed loudly. These were the words he craved, the words that made that stinging, biting pain worth bearing. A mistake. All forgiven. For a few minutes, Fox let himself float in the hazy ecstasy of the endorphin high, the hormones racing through his blood and the thoughts racing through his mind momentarily balanced. At peace. Then reality flooded back.

"Alex? Where's Alex, Walter?"

"In the kitchen, Fox. Writing lines, I hope. I warned him not to interfere."

"He's going to be scared," Fox said, his profiler's mind snapping back into gear.

"He's going to have to learn to trust me," Walter said without moving. "You need to let me take care of you now, Fox. I'll worry about Alex. You need to let me worry about you. Shh. That's it, rest now. I love you, Fox. Never doubt that."

Fox sighed. Walter knew him, really knew him, and still Walter loved him. It felt good to be known. Good to be loved. God, his butt hurt. He shifted gingerly, tried to sit without groaning.

"That's going to hurt for awhile, I'm afraid," Walter said sympathetically. Fox nodded his agreement.

"Yeah. I love you, Walter. I never imagined I'd feel safe enough to ask for this, but it really is what I need. Thank you." Fox grinned ruefully. Walter shook his head.

"I love you, Fox. Whatever works is good. I'm here for you."

"I know, Walter. I love you. I'm going to go outside for awhile."

"Do you want me to come with you?" Walter asked. Fox shook his head.

"Nah, you know me. Spooky Mulder." A small, self-deprecating laugh. "I just want to look at the stars awhile." He stood, shook himself out. Bent over Walter, kissed him open mouthed.

"Spooky Fox." Walter ruffled his hair gently. "Don't get chilled." The sadness that was never far from Fox settled cloud-like around him. Walter wished for the millionth time that he could make it all right for Fox. An impossible wish. He settled for hoping that his love at least helped bolster Fox against the dark.

Walter straightened up his office and made his way into the kitchen. Alex was standing at the sink, his hands braced against the counter. Staring out the window. He turned abruptly as Walter entered the room. His face was white and immobile. Walter smelled the telltale odor of vomit. Alex had obviously been sick.

"Are you all right, Alex?" Walter asked softly, moving slowly towards him. He reached for Alex's shoulder. Alex flinched violently back.

"Don't touch me," he said in a strangled voice. "I know you weren't going to hit me, I just really don't like when people touch me," he added softly, seeing the question in Walter's eyes. Walter nodded.

"All right, Alex," he said soothingly. "I won't touch you if you don't want me to. Can you come away from the sink and sit down with me, Alex? We need to talk."

Alex walked silently to the table.

"I expect you're wondering just what it was you heard," Walter said conversationally. Alex looked taken aback.

"It's none of my business, Walter," Alex answered. He swallowed hard. Walter watched him without saying anything, using his silence to pull a response from Alex.

"Shit, Walter, what the fuck did you do to Fox?" Alex finally asked, his green eyes searching Walter's face.

v "Fox knew better than to hit you like that, Alex. He deserved to be punished," Walter said. Alex winced.

"I heard him screaming," Alex said. Walter nodded.

"I know. Alex, nothing happened that Fox didn't agree to." Alex shuddered. He knew how much punishment it would take before he screamed that way.

"I never agreed to any of it," he whispered. Walter closed his eyes, remembered the scarred body strapped naked to the hospital bed.

"I'm so sorry, Alex," Walter said gently. "I'm so, so sorry." Alex shrugged.

"It was a long time ago," he said flatly. "It doesn't matter anymore." Walter noticed that despite his dismissive words, Alex swallowed convulsively.

"We weren't permitted to scream," Alex said, so faintly that Walter barely heard him. The soft words made Walter wonder.

"Alex, what did they do to you?" Walter asked quietly. Alex stared at him.

"Why the fuck would you care?" Alex asked incredulously. Then, roughly, "Aah, fuck it, Walter. I don't want to go there." He turned and left the kitchen. Walter heard the outside door close.

Alex stood motionless in the cool, dark night. Tried to slow his breathing. This was crazy. He never thought about those days. Certainly never talked about them. He had spent a lifetime pushing those memories into the past. How was it possible for them still to hurt so much?

No. He will not let himself be touched. Not by the memories, not by the fear, not by hands either callous or kind. Not by his own pain, not by another's. The oldest, the hardest lesson.

Thank you for teaching me the truth. I mean nothing to anyone. I am nothing.

Fox sprawled on his back on the broad brick wall surrounding the patio. The cool masonry felt good against his smarting butt. He gazed wistfully at the night sky, the cold and beautiful stars. The truth is out there, he thought.

He must have unknowingly spoken aloud, because his thought was answered by a snort of bitter laughter.

"Do you still believe that, Fox?" Alex asked roughly. Fox rolled himself upright, wincing at the pressure on his tender rear.

"I don't believe you're sitting," Alex muttered. Fox shrugged.

"Walter knows what he's doing. I'm just sore, Alex, not damaged."

"Lucky bastard. The last time I screamed like that, my ass looked like raw hamburger for days." Alex's mouth went sour. He spat angrily at the ground. Shit. He didn't want to remember. He wouldn't remember. What the fuck was the matter with him?

Fox looked at Alex speculatively. The Consortium's baddest boy looked younger and more vulnerable than he had ever seen him. Maybe it was time to get some answers from him.

"Alex. You pretty much grew up in the Consortium, didn't you?" Fox asked.

"You already know that, Fox," Alex said wearily. "Yeah. Born and raised. There were quite a few of us. Boys and girls."

"Girls?" Fox said. "Oh, God. Like Sam... Alex, you didn't ever..." his voice trailed off.

"See her?" Alex asked bitterly. The sure knowledge that no one had ever longed after him with such intensity made him envious and cruel.

"I don't think so. That doesn't mean anything, Fox. We saw who they wanted us to see. Want me to tell you about our training, Fox? Want me to tell you how they broke us? Want me to tell you how they made us beg to be hurt, to be used, to be allowed to serve them? Boys and girls, Fox." Alex grinned mirthlessly as Fox came at him. Waited for the blow that was inevitable. To his shock, it didn't come. Fox dropped his hand and stood motionless, looking sad and defeated.

"Oh shit, Alex, why'd you have to tell me that? Ah, Jesus..." Alex felt an uncomfortable, unaccustomed twinge of guilt.

"Aren't you going to hit me, Fox? Come on, teach me not to talk like that." Alex waited for Fox to rise to the bait. To his surprise, Fox's voice when he answered was gentle.

"I'm not going to hit you, Alex. I don't have the right. Just leave me alone. I don't want to play this game anymore."

Alex gaped at him. Fox looked serious. He slumped on the wall, looking impossibly sad. Alex closed his eyes.

"Fox?" he said very softly. "Listen Fox, I'm sorry. Sam, I mean, your sister, she was pretty, right? And smart?" Fox looked at him expressionlessly.

"Yeah. What difference does that make?"

"Listen to me. I was trash. Bastard trash. We were what they used for their dirty work, not the child hostages. A lot of the Elders were sterile from the experiments, so there were a lot of childless couples. They got their pick of the children like your sister. Samantha would have been given to one of them for adoption. The Elders were good to their own children. They gave them everything. Maybe she would have missed you at first, but she was so young. She should have been OK. That's the truth, Fox."

Let Fox hit him now. He had tried. Instead, to Alex's surprise, Fox leaned forward and covered his face with his hands.

"My God, Alex," he said, his voice breaking. "That's more than anyone's told me in over twenty years. Oh God..." His shoulders shook. Alex watched as Fox slid down the wall and huddled, sobbing, at its base.

Walter, Alex thought. I have to get Walter.

Walter crouched in front of Fox, pulled his hands gently away from his face.

"Fox? Look at me, Fox? I'm right here, you're not alone anymore. Come here, Fox, let me help you. " Fox let Walter help him upright. He buried his face in Walter's shoulder. Alex backed away, allowing them privacy. He knew Fox would not want to be seen like this. Walter nodded to Alex as he led Fox inside.

Alex followed at a distance. Watched Walter gently shepherd Fox into their bedroom, close the door behind them.

I will knock when a door is closed and enter only if invited.

Thank you for teaching me the truth. I mean nothing to anyone. I am nothing.

Walter stood wearily at the sink, willing his hands not to shake as he measured water and coffee and started a fresh pot brewing. He had held Fox for hours, letting him cry, letting him rage, letting him mourn. For the sister he had lost. For the cruelty Alex had suffered. For his own cruelty to Alex.

Walter wondered at the irony. All this time, Alex had known at least a piece of what had happened to Samantha. Where was Alex anyway? Vaguely disturbed, Walter realized he had not seen Alex since the wee hours of the night before.

Seriously concerned, he checked the bed in the spare room. It had not been slept in. He looked out the window again, did a double take. Goddamnit. One of their cars was missing.

Alex, when I catch you, and I will, I am going to make damn sure you never try this again. I will not have Fox lose another person who matters to him under mysterious circumstances. And I will not have you running away.

Walter picked up the phone and had a quick, quiet chat with the local chief of police.

Shit, Alex thought somberly, feeling the lump on his forehead gingerly. His mouth tasted of blood. He was fucked now. He hadn't believed Walter would do this. Shit. He sat despondently in the holding cell. Shit.

Walter made a cursory inspection of the badly dented front end of his missing car. Well, that's what insurance is for, he thought resignedly. He thanked the officer on duty inside the police station most sincerely for his "professional courtesy," and taking Alex's good arm, not altogether gently, escorted him out.

"Did they run your fingerprints?" Walter asked Alex under his breath. Alex shook his head negatively, wincing at the movement. The lump where his forehead had hit the dashboard was red and angry looking."

"Thank God. What the hell were you thinking, Alex? If you're signaled to pull over, you damn well do it. You don't speed up and get forced off the road. You're lucky you only hit the railing. It's a good thing that this is a small town and the police chief and I have a beer now and then, or they would have printed you no matter what I asked. Then you'd really be dead. God's wounds, Alex, I'd like to kill you myself!"

Alex swallowed hard, tried to look as if none of this had anything to do with him. Walter glared at him.

"I would have left your car at the airport, Walter," Alex said softly. "You didn't have to call the cops."

"At the airport..." Walter practically stuttered in disbelief. "Do you think I care about the goddamn car? Do you think that's why I asked the police to pick you up? Didn't you think we would come after you? Don't you think we care?" Walter ground his teeth with frustration.

Alex looked down. Hit me already. Get it over with. Walter read his expression correctly and grimaced in exasperation. This would have to wait until they got home.

"Get in my car, Alex. I'll get the other one towed. Watch your head; that's some lump you've got."

Walter was used to Fox's tantrums. Alex's silence was harder to respond to. Alex sat huddled into himself, as far from Walter as the seat allowed. His face was gray and slack, impossible to read.

Fox met them in the driveway. One look at Alex through the car window, and his eyes met Walter's, dismayed.

"He's scared shitless, Walter," Fox said. Walter nodded grimly. Alex sat motionless in the car.

"Alex, come on out," Fox coaxed. "We're not going to hurt you, you know that."

"Oh, yeah?" Alex said. "Well, I watched Walter's face while we were driving home. He's going to beat the shit out of me. No thanks, Fox, I'm not playing anymore. I want to leave. No one's going to punish me ever again. No one. I'm all grown up now."

"I know, Alex. We understand that. This isn't about punishment. Come on, Alex, come inside. You're hurt. Let's get you patched up before we talk about this."

"This is so stupid, Fox. What, do you think a lump on my forehead bothers me? Fuck you. I had my arm hacked off without anesthesia. This is nothing." Fox winced.

Walter intervened.

"Alex, get out of the car and into the house. Now. This isn't negotiable." Something about his tone made Alex obey despite himself.

In short order, Alex found himself on his back in his bed, stripped to tee shirt and boxers, a towel wrapped bag of ice pressed to his bruised forehead. A glass of ginger ale on his night table. Fox and Walter seated alongside the bed. Alex closed his eyes.

"What's going to happen to me now?" he asked woodenly.

"We're going to keep an eye on you for the next twenty-four hours, make sure you don't have a concussion," Walter said. "You need to stay quiet and rest. Your ass is safe for now. After that, we're going to have a little chat about the rules of this house. Shh, Alex, it's going to be all right. I'm not going to punish you if you don't agree it's fair. You don't have to be afraid. You're home safe."

Home. Safe. Alex had no context for the words. Cautiously, he opened his eyes, searched Walter's face for signs of mockery. Found only kindness. Shifted his eyes to study Fox. Found only sympathy.

"My head hurts," Alex said softly. He had never felt this vulnerable. Walter seemed to understand what the admission cost him.

"I know, Alex, I know," he said gently. "I'm going to take care of you. You're not alone anymore." Alex closed his eyes. Home. Safe. If only it were true.

"No, Walter," Alex said. He was curled miserably on the couch in Walter's office.

Walter sighed. He didn't want to coerce Alex into being punished, but his gut told him that Alex needed to have his limits set, his boundaries reinforced.

"Only my hand, Alex. A spanking. That's all. I promise." Alex shivered unhappily.

"What's that going to teach me, Walter? I've been worked over by the best. Do you really think a couple of smacks on my butt are going to hurt me?"

"Punishment isn't about hurting you, Alex. It's about helping you learn to live in a safer, more productive way," Walter said gently. Alex looked skeptical.

"Let's face it, Walter, I'm different from you and Fox. You were on the side of the angels all along. I've changed sides more times than I can keep track of. I'm damaged goods. I've got only one arm, I've got a lousy personality and it's pretty clear I'm only in the way here." Alex looked away.

"Listen, I'll be out of here by this evening. I really don't want to be spanked, Walter. It's not that I don't see how well this discipline thing works for you and Fox, Walter. It just isn't for me. I know you're a good man, Walter. I just can't trust anyone that way." Alex's voice was hoarse with emotions he didn't even realize he had. Fear. Regret. Longing.

Walter sighed.

"Alex, I've told you before. Your staying here is not conditioned on your agreeing to be disciplined. If you're not ready for that kind of relationship, that's fine. You still have a home here. I still want you to stay. "

Alex gaped at him for a moment, then burst into an angry torrent of protest.

"What, you mean I get to stay here even if I don't get beaten? Even if I don't get fucked? What am I, some kind of fucking house pet? I just don't get it, Walter, I just don't get it at all!" He glared at Walter. Walter met his gaze with equal fury.

"No, goddamnit, you're not some 'fucking house pet.' You're a man, Alex, a beautiful, wounded man, with more guts and more brains than the bastards who controlled you ever realized. I'd never, ever beat you Alex. And do you really think all Fox and I see you as is something to fuck?" Walter took a deep breath, brought himself under control.

"Alex, you're too smart to talk nonsense like that," Walter said sadly. The pain in his quiet statement cut through Alex's bravado in a way no amount of anger or logic ever could.

My body is my own property.

"Um, Walter," Alex said in a very small voice. "I changed my mind. I want you to punish me. I want you to spank me." Walter was taken aback at Alex's change of heart.

"Are you absolutely sure this is what you want, Alex?" Walter asked quietly. "I won't hurt you, but once you agree to let me punish you, we're going to see it through. This isn't some kind of BDSM game with safewords. I want to be sure you understand that."

"I understand, Walter. I trust you. Please Walter, I know I need to be punished. I know I need to be spanked." Alex's eyes were very wide, but his voice was very sure. Walter took a deep, centering breath and seated himself on the couch.

"All right, Alex. Take your jeans off, please. Boxers, too." Chewing his lip nervously, Alex obeyed.

"Over my lap now." Walter took Alex's good arm and gently drew him over his knees. Alex stiffened, and Walter rubbed the small of his back gently.

"I know this is hard, Alex. Easy now, take deep breaths. That's it. Let's talk about what this spanking is for. You aren't alone anymore. You don't just run off when things get rough. We were worried about you, Alex. We're a family now, and members of a family don't do that. You stay put, whether you're upset or not. You talk to us. You give us a chance to work things out. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Walter," Alex whispered. Family. Walter had said family.

"Alex, why am I going to spank you?" Walter asked. Alex started.

"I ran away. I didn't talk to you. I didn't try to work things out," he said hesitantly.

"That's right. I am going to spank you now. I am only going to use my hand, but believe me, you're going to feel it. You can cry or scream; there's no punishment for that, ever. It will all be over soon." With that, Walter brought his palm down, hard, across the fine white buttocks. Alex tensed at the impact, but made no sound.

"You do not run away, Alex, ever."

Walter spanked him hard and methodically, his hand leaving a circle of crisp red splotches on the pale skin. Alex remained silent.

"You talk to me if there's a problem, Alex."

A second round of swats left Alex's butt red and his breathing roughened.

"There's nothing, nothing we can't work out, Alex."

A third round of swats and Alex broke. Crying hard, he clung miserably to the couch with his good hand, thoroughly wretched.

"No more, Walter, no more," he pleaded. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'll never run away again, I promise. I'll talk to you! Please, please, stop. Ow! No more! Ow!" Walter shook his head at the tableau they made: Alex Krycek, former Consortium assassin, lying wretchedly across AD Skinner's lap, sobbing as if his heart was broken.

With a sigh, Walter ceased his meticulous circle of spanks. Helped Alex right himself, took him in his arms, careful of his tender bottom. Walter held Alex as he sobbed. Stroked Alex's soft, dark hair.

"That's it, Alex, let it out. You're safe now. I want you. I love you." Alex snuggled into Walter's warm bulk.

Thank you for teaching me the truth. I am wanted. I am loved. I am someone.

It was a very long time before Alex stopped crying. Walter didn't try to rush him, just sat patiently, letting Alex pour out his pain and longing. Finally, Alex was quiet.

"What happens now?" Alex asked Walter softly. Walter ran gentle fingers over Alex's wet cheeks.

"We get you washed up and into bed. You rest and you think. This is a big step for you. It's going to take you a little while to feel comfortable with it," Walter said.

"It's not very comfortable," Alex muttered sulkily as he pulled on his boxers and jeans. Walter chuckled.

"That's not exactly what I meant, Alex, but yes, there is that. That's why it's called punishment, Alex. It makes you think twice before making the same mistake again." Alex scowled at Walter's cheerful tone, but didn't resist as Walter hugged him.

Sprawled on his stomach, deep in thought, Alex started as Fox knocked at his open door.

"Want company, Alex?" he asked. "I brought you a snack." Alex's eyes brightened at the smell of coffee and the sight of chocolate cake. Cautiously he rolled over and worked his way upright, wincing a little as his recently punished bottom took his weight. Fox smiled ruefully.

"You OK, Alex?" Alex nodded.

"Thanks for the cake and coffee, Fox. So I'm staying, then?" Alex's eyes sought Fox's anxiously. Fox shook his head.

"Of course you're staying, Alex. Do you seriously think Walter would have punished you if you weren't? This kind of discipline is a very intimate act and implies a relationship, Alex. Does that worry you?" Fox watched Alex's face closely. Alex shrugged. Only his teeth abrading his lip gave away how uncertain he was.

"Fox? Is he going, are you going to fuck me?" Alex asked nervously. Fox took a deep breath. Alex sounded terrified.

"We're not going to 'fuck' you, Alex. If the time comes when you want a sexual relationship with us, we're open to the idea. But neither of us is going to push you into anything. It's entirely up to you. Shh, easy now, Alex. Drink your coffee before it gets cold." Fox sat quietly, letting Alex get used to his presence. Fox hoped Alex would realize that he no longer had to fear Fox would hit him.

Evening. Dinner was finished, the dishwasher was running. Alex sat alone at the kitchen table, newspaper spread before him. He couldn't concentrate. In his mind, he replayed the last conversation with Fox and Walter. They had wished him a good night. Walter had admonished him not to stay up too late. Walter and Fox had drifted towards their bedroom, hands interlaced.

Alex sighed. He wanted to be part of that. He was just scared. Taking a deep breath, he rose from the table and made his way down the hall. Hesitated before their closed door.

I will knock when a door is closed and enter only if invited.

Alex raised his hand and knocked tentatively at the door.

"Come in," said Walter gently. He and Fox were half-naked, lying comfortably side by side in their bed, reading. Alex walked towards them uncertainly. Fox patted the mattress between them.

"Come here, Alex, there's plenty of room." Fox laid his book aside. Walter dropped his magazine on his night table, took off his glasses. Alex slipped out of his jeans and tee shirt, leaving only his boxers. Removed his prosthesis, alert to any show of distaste on Fox or Walter's part. Neither man flinched. Alex seated himself on Fox's side of the mattress and as Fox moved his legs aside, backed nervously into the space between the two men. Alex tried to breathe quietly. Fox and Walter exchanged glances. No question about it. Alex was terrified.

"You don't have to do anything you don't want to, Alex," Walter said soothingly. "I'm not expecting anything, Alex. This is just an experiment. You decide what feels right to you."

"OK," Alex said in a small voice. He was scared, but his cock was rock hard. Walter's eyes followed Alex's downwards. Walter rested his large warm hand on top of Alex's rigid cock. Groped him gently through the soft fabric of his boxers. Alex moaned. Fox cupped Alex's jaw in his hand, turned Alex's face to him. Slowly, carefully, Fox leaned forward and kissed Alex full on the lips. Alex's mouth opened to Fox. Walter began to work his hand inside Alex's boxers.

Alex moaned at the dual sensations. He sucked at Fox's tongue. Fox groaned, his cock hardening against Alex's thigh. Alex grinned, then curled himself over Fox's groin. Pushed his boxers aside and took Fox's cock in his mouth. Fox arched his back with pleasure as Alex swallowed him deeply. He stroked Alex's hair lightly, enjoying the soft feel.

Walter rearranged himself at Alex's back, slipped Alex's boxers off. Shucked his own boxers and spooned himself around Alex, letting his own hard cock press against Alex's back, as he reached over Alex's hip and began to stroke Alex's cock. Alex continued to suck and lick at Fox until Fox's muscles contracted and his cum coursed through Alex's mouth and over the sheets.

"Alex, that was so good. So, so good," Fox moaned. Alex's green eyes shone at the praise. Lying back on the pillows, Fox drew Alex on top of him. Alex pressed the length of his body against Fox, hard muscle to hard muscle. Fox rubbed his back and shoulders.

"Good?" Fox asked.

"Yes," Alex whispered, tensing as Walter's hand left his cock and began to insinuate itself between his legs. His buttocks tensed involuntarily as Walter's finger dipped between them, seeking his anus.

"May I touch you, Alex?" Walter asked softly. To Alex's surprise, he withdrew his hand.

"No, don't stop," Alex said confusedly. Walter rubbed the small of his back.

"Nothing is going to happen that you don't want, Alex," Walter said. "We can do this however you like, Alex. Do you just want me to touch your cock, Alex?"

"Yes, no, I don't know," Alex moaned, arousal and anxiety mingling. Walter seemed to understand. He ran his thumb over the head of Alex's cock, used the slippery fluid he found there to lubricate his hand, and began firmly, patiently to stroke Alex to orgasm. Alex groaned against Fox's chest. It wasn't enough.

"Please, Walter, fuck me," he begged. "Please, I need this so bad." Fox stretched towards the night table and grabbed the lube, passed it to Walter. Walter used a generous gob of gel to slick his fingers and began to massage Alex's anus carefully. As the tight ring of muscle softened, Walter slipped his index finger inside. Worked it slowly in and out, loosening the tense sphincter. Alex pressed backwards, widening himself. Walter slipped a second slick finger inside.

"Oh, yes," Alex moaned. "Please Walter, fuck me, fuck me now."

"Give me a condom, Fox," Walter said. Fox complied. Walter withdrew his hand, unrolled the condom over his engorged cock, coated himself generously with lube and slowly, carefully, pressed himself deeply into Alex.

"Is that good, Alex?" Walter asked. Alex's hips bucked desperately.

"Oh yes, shit Walter, yes," Alex gasped. Fox reached between their pressed bellies, took Alex's cock in his hand, and began to work it in rhythm with Walter's thrusts. Hot fluid spurted over his hand, over their stomachs. Alex's muscles contracted against Walter's cock and he came deep within Alex.

For a few moments, the three men lay in a gasping, exhausted tangle of limbs and sheets. With a deep, satisfied sigh, Walter rolled onto his side. Kissed Fox deeply and thoroughly. Fox rolled onto his side, depositing an utterly drained Alex in the valley between him and Walter. For a few minutes, no one spoke, as Fox and Walter kissed Alex gently, stroking him, wanting to be sure he felt safe. Cherished. Loved. Both men understood the tears that welled in Alex's eyes.

"It's all right, Alex," Fox said softly. "It's overwhelming, we know. Don't worry, we have you, you're safe. We love you."

"Shh, Alex," Walter soothed. "That's it, you're all ours. We love you. It's OK to cry Alex, but don't be afraid. We love you. You're safe now. You're home."

Thank you for teaching me the truth. I am wanted. I am loved. I am someone.

Alex snuggled sleepily between his two lovers, too overwhelmed to speak. Walter drew the sheet over the three of them. Fox turned out the lamp on the night table. The three men drifted into a deep, satisfied sleep, filled with only sweet dreams.


For my beta Lorelei, with love and appreciation, in celebration of your birthday. I cherish your careful reading and your caring heart .EM