M/m sex, discipline, spanking. If the idea of a discipline relationship between consenting adult males offends you, so will this story.



AD Walter Skinner sat placidly at his kitchen table, working his way through the usual pile of monthly bills. Former Consortium operative Alex Krycek sprawled in an adjacent chair, doing serious damage to a large box of fancy chocolates.

Walter looked at the doctor's invoice and frowned. An automatic $60 charge billed to Alex for not canceling his appointment, with a polite reminder that the charge was not reimbursable by his insurance company. Walter sighed. It wasn't the money. Alex had said he'd been to the doctor. Alex had better have a damn good reason for not having gone and an even better one for lying about it.

"Care to explain this?" he asked, sliding the bill across to Alex. Alex reached for the invoice and scrutinized the heading, then took a deep breath.

"Walter? I'm fine. I didn't need to go. I'll pay for it," Alex said. Walter was annoyed.

"That's not the point, Alex. You haven't seen a doctor since I don't know when. Make another appointment and this time keep it. Call them now, please." Alex's eyes hardened.

"Well, fuck it all Walter, I'm just not going to go. You can't fucking make me." Alex said. He tilted his head to the side, trying to gauge whether or not Walter could be distracted.

"Wanna play doctor with me?" He grinned, his hand teasing his crotch.

Walter seldom lost his temper, but this time he made up for it. He slammed his hand down against the table, hard. The sound ricocheted off the walls.

"Alex, I am not kidding around. Get on the phone and make another appointment and then I am going to punish you for lying to me about having gone."

Alex froze. Walter closed his eyes, already regretting his reaction.

"Alex," Walter said. He hated the blank look that veiled Alex's eyes, the studiedly expressionless mask that slipped down when Alex was truly frightened.

"Alex, I didn't mean to scare you. I was angry. I know you're afraid. You know how we do things. I'll never punish you without our discussing it first and our both agreeing on what's right. Please, Alex, I'm sorry I frightened you, can you give me another chance? Come here. Please." Hearing something unusually desperate in Walter's voice, Alex gulped and came hesitantly into his arms. Walter snuggled Alex close, petting his hair, rubbing his tight shoulders.

"I'm sorry, Alex. I shouldn't have lost my temper. Ever since Sharon... I always believed if she'd just been diagnosed earlier... I just worry about you. I don't understand it. You go to the dentist without a shiver. I know you're not afraid of needles. Can you tell me why you're so reluctant to see a doctor?" Walter asked gently. Alex tried to avoid the dark brown eyes that watched him intently.

Like he'd tell him, like he'd tell anyone. Alex remembered the cold hands in their latex gloves, efficiently opening his mouth, prying his buttocks apart, feeling around in him, fingering the sore, bleeding places. The disinterested tone of voice.

"He's torn a bit, but he'll heal. No reason not to continue."

The pain returned. No escape.

"Stop, oh please, stop, I'm dying." A sound resembling laughter. Latex fingers probing dispassionately.

"You'll live."

Shit. It'd be a cold day in hell before one of those bastards would ever touch him again.

"No reason, Walter."

Walter leaned over and hugged Alex, his arm curling around Alex's waist, under his arm, tugging Alex close against him, his other hand stroking Alex all over, absorbing the feel of his lover's body, trying to understand.

Alex slithered out of Walter's embrace, knelt before him, his lips warm on the faded denim of Walter's oldest jeans. In this particular mood, sex was the only thing that soothed Alex. Walter stroked Alex's dark hair ambivalently as Alex undid his belt, eased his fly open. Alex ran his tongue around the head of Walter's partially erect cock and then took the velvety organ fully in his mouth, rolling it between his tongue and palate. Walter groaned. There wasn't a man alive who could resist that kind of caress. Except him. With a sigh, he reached down, grasped Alex's chin and eased his mouth from his stiffening cock.

"Play fair, Alex. We're not done talking. Tell me what's going on in there. " He tapped his finger against Alex's temple.

"I can't tell you," Alex whispered. "I can't explain."

"In that case, make another appointment. Now. If you can get one in the next two weeks, I won't punish you. Use my name if you have to; I've used that practice a long time. And let me know when your appointment is." Walter watched as Alex, his expression unreadable, reached slowly for the phone.

Just his bad luck, Alex thought ruefully. Walter had decided to keep him company at the doctor's. Shit. Alex really, really didn't know if he could do this. He tried to steady his breathing. Just the sight of the white-coated personnel made him nauseous. Alex drew on one of his few happy memories of hospitals. Stalking through that large, pristine clinic, drawn gun in hand, looking for a chance to take that bastard out...he smiled. The only way he was going to get through this was by remembering how it had felt to be in control. He looked at Walter. Maybe Walter could come in with him...but he was afraid to ask. Afraid Walter would say no.

Walter had his own reasons to dislike things medical. Sitting here in the filtered air of the waiting room with Alex was a painful reminder of the nights he'd sat at the hospital with Sharon, hoping she would sleep, so he would know she wasn't in pain; hoping she would wake, so he would know she was still alive. He was relieved when Alex followed the nurse inside. He thumbed unseeingly through the ubiquitous newsmagazines, unable to relax.

A nurse approached Walter hesitantly.

"The doctor would like you to come in, "she said. "There seems to be a bit of a problem with your, ah, friend." Walter winced. He hated the euphemism. What was wrong with Alex? The doctor stood at the door of the office, his expression concerned. Walter liked him immediately.

"Does he do that often?" he said without preliminaries, pointing to where Alex sat, shirt off, prosthesis exposed, staring blankly at something beyond the room. His good arm was wrapped tightly around him and he rocked slightly back and forth, his breathing audible. Walter shook his head.

"Not often, but occasionally. He's a little fragile."

"I can either give him an injection of a major tranquilizer, or you can take some time and try to calm him down. There's no way I'll examine him like this. It's up to you." Walter was grateful.

"It may take awhile before he settles down. Shall I make another appointment?' The doctor hesitated.

"I doubt you'll be able to get him in here again. Look, I'm just about through for the day. Why don't you take your time and I'll come back in and we'll talk about how to proceed?" Walter nodded.

"Alex?" Walter said softly. "Alex, it's OK, I'm right here. Shh, I've got you now, it's OK, shh..." He wrapped his arm around Alex's shoulders. "Alex, what's happening?" Alex turned desolate eyes to him. He had seen Alex like this enough times to know he was incapable of speech. His eyes softened sympathetically as he watched Alex struggle to breathe, his body shaking.

"All right now, Alex, it's all right," Walter murmured. He rubbed Alex's back gently.

"It's all right, you're safe, I'm right here," Walter said, his voice low and comforting. Finally Alex quieted, his taut muscles relaxing. He sagged against Walter. Walter held him, glad that he responded to his voice and his touch. He gritted his teeth as he thought of how many seemingly straightforward things were minefields for Alex. It hurt that there was no way to revenge his lover's stolen youth, no way to make it up to Alex for his lonely, tormented days as sport for the Consortium's elite. No way to ever know exactly what had happened to the man he loved. Alex surely wasn't talking.

"Take me home," he whispered. "Please, Walter, I want to go home."

Walter hesitated, but the naked desperation in Alex's voice could not be ignored.

"OK," he said softly. "Get dressed and I'll take you home. Can you manage?" With Walter in the room and the doctor gone, Alex rebounded quickly. He leaned over the doctor's sink, splashed his face, cupped his hands and rinsed his mouth, spat carelessly into the basin. Shrugged into his shirt. To all intents and purposes he was the very picture of insouciant charm. Only Walter could detect the forced quality of his smile, the brittleness of his movements a mockery of his usual lithe grace.

"Come on, let's go to the car," Walter said.

Alex's progress back out to the waiting room could be measured by the swath of stunned nurses and receptionists he left in his wake. He had cranked his sex appeal way past ten; lethal green eyes and white teeth replaced his Consortium-era weapons with only slightly less deadly results.

Walter followed shaking his head ruefully. He stopped at billing, left an apologetic message for the doctor and trailed Alex down the stairs to the garage.

He was never going back there. Alex was deaf to all Walter's attempts to engage him in conversation in the car, his body stiff, his face a blank. He darted from the car before Walter had even shifted into park, left his keys in the open door as he fled upstairs to their bedroom. He threw himself facedown on the bed, still in jeans, jacket and shoes. Walter parked the car, locked the front door, poured himself a small glass of wine and sipped it slowly, trying to work out what had happened. He found Alex upstairs and sat beside him, trying to reassure Alex that he wanted to help, that he knew Alex hadn't planned this. He eased off Alex's boots; set them on the floor. Freed Alex's arms from the leather jacket. He hooked his thumb into the waistband of Alex's pants, followed its contours around under Alex's stomach and carefully undid the button and zipper. Used both hands to work the jeans off. Having stripped Alex to shirt, boxers and socks, he lay down alongside the silent form and tugged Alex into his arms, against his warm chest. Alex held himself rigid, but Walter knew from experience that the feel of his body would eventually penetrate Alex's false bravado. Sure enough, he felt Alex soften against him, burrowing deeper into his embrace.

"Are you going to punish me?" he whispered. Walter winced.

"Alex. Punishment is for changing behavior you can control. I'm not going to punish you for being afraid. This is something we need to deal with together."

"Forget it, Walter. I'm going to be fine, because I'm never going back there."

Walter mused over the doctors in his Rolodex. There was Scully, of course. He knew this was out of her field, but he trusted her intentions. And Alex knew her, which might help him stay calm long enough for them to get to the bottom of what was going on.

The mindless routines of cleaning always soothed Walter. It was as good a time as it would ever be to straighten out the linen closet, including the boxes into which he had numbly cleared the debris from Sharon's sickroom. Walter sighed. He had hidden Sharon's medicines away, not being able to even look at the endless bottles of painkillers that had assuaged the hurt of her last days. It was time to go through them, see if anything needed salvaging, and let the rest go. With a sigh he opened the box. It was empty. Walter stared in disbelief. He rapidly opened a second and then a third box, stunned at finding them also empty. He pawed through the remaining boxes. The bottles of pills, the syrups with codeine, the little vials of morphine and the disposable syringes...all gone. With sick certainty he knew exactly what had happened. Damn him! He was going to wring Alex's neck.

The flash of fury dissipated quickly. Bracing his back against the wall, Walter slid to the floor and sat there, head in hands, allowing himself one of his rare moments of despair. How could he have not noticed what Alex was up to? He was going to have to confront him. This was not going to be a pleasant conversation.

"Alex," Walter said. "There has to be a certain amount of trust in any household. That means not going through the closets in search of painkillers. If you're in enough pain that you need them, you need to see a doctor."

"Leave me alone, Walter, I'm fine."

Alex rolled his shoulders, trying to ease the dull ache in his mutilated arm. It hurt all the time, Alex thought miserably. He had gone through the medicine left from Sharon's final days. He thought longingly of the relief offered by the potent painkillers. Fingered his jaw tentatively. Not a bad idea.

Sitting down for dinner, Walter watched Alex curiously, something he couldn't quite grasp teasing around the edges of his consciousness. He knew Alex had been to the dentist, but he had seldom seen Alex so unhappy over sheer physical pain. Alex sulked over the chicken soup with soft noodles Walter had prepared in deference to his tender jaw.

"Eat up, Alex," Walter said, enjoying his own steak less than he would have if Alex had shared it. It was really too much for one person. He set part of it aside on the platter. "I'll make you a steak on the weekend, when your tooth feels better." Alex nodded.

"Sure, fine, whatever..." he said glumly. Walter couldn't shake the feeling he was missing something important. They finished their meal in a silence less comfortable than usual. Walter put his dishes in the dishwasher and wandered out to the living room, leaving Alex mutinously stirring his soup. He ducked back into the kitchen, intent on a slice of pie, only to find Alex working his way through the leftover steak, his soup bowl thrust to the side.

"Alex!" Walter's eyes widened. Alex's tooth was fine, Walter realized all of a sudden. It was all a ploy. All he wanted were painkillers.

Walter turned on his heel and left the kitchen. It took every ounce of self-control he could muster not to slam the door. Instead, he clicked on the stereo, ruffled through his CD's until he reached his ultimate comfort disk and turned it up loud. Sat himself on the couch and began methodically sorting through the magazine pile, stacking them by title and date.

Alex felt ice cold. Walter, he cried desperately, silently, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm so scared. I can't tell you about it. If I talk about it, you'll know what they did to me, what I did for them. You'll hate me.

"Alex," whispered Walter. "What were you thinking?" Alex shook his head.

"I don't care," he said. "I'm going to get medication one way or another. I thought you'd think this was a better solution than street drugs, but I can do those, too. Or I can just leave." He headed for the door.

The next thing he knew, Walter had tackled him. He dropped Alex to the floor easily and lay on top of him, holding him in place by dint of his superior weight. He slipped his hand under Alex's head, cradling it gently, mindful of the hard floor. His dark eyes searched the widened green pair below him.

"What is wrong with you?" he whispered. "Alex, I've never seen you so spooked in all the time I've known you." To his dismay, Alex began to cry, his body shaking. To say Walter was shocked would have understated the case wildly. In all their time together, he had never seen Alex cry except under duress.

"Street drugs, Alex? Don't be foolish." He shook his head ruefully. Shifting them to a seated position, he rocked Alex gently against him, crooning words of comfort and reassurance.

Alex was miserable. He knew Walter wasn't going to just forget this doctor idea. Meanwhile, the thought of letting himself be examined by one of the pricks made his arm ache worse than ever. He rubbed his head against Walter's shoulder, trying to garner reassurance without the need for speech. Walter recognized the gesture. Long before he had been able to coax Alex into talking, he had been able to use Alex's desperate physicality to contain Alex's wilder emotions. He pushed himself from the floor, tugging Alex toward him.

"Bed," Walter said. Something hopeful flickered in Alex's eyes. He followed Walter obediently into the bedroom. Rather than flopping happily across the bed, he stood stiffly, as if unsure of his welcome.

"Sit, Alex," Walter said quietly. He tried to keep his voice steady. Alex was slipping into what Walter thought of as his absent mode. Walter thought a moment. Some quiet time, some soothing, was what Alex badly needed. He took the heavy wooden hairbrush with its thick bristles from the dresser. He was shocked to see Alex's eyes widen fearfully.

"Alex, where are you?" he asked worriedly. Gently maneuvering Alex's head into his lap, he began to brush the thick black hair. Alex made a soft sound, somewhere between pleasure and relief. Walter shook his head sadly.

"We always do this, Alex," he said gently. "I know it feels good. What did you think I was going to do to you?" Alex's shrug was uncertain.

"You thought I was going to hit you." It wasn't even a question. "Alex. You know what I promised. Only my hand, only ever my hand. And only if we talked about it first. And only if we agreed." The shiver Alex gave did not reassure him.

Walter lay on his back in the dark, feeling sad. For the first time in months, Alex slept turned away from him, his good hand clutching his pillow. Walter missed the warm body that usually pressed against his.

"Fuck it, Walter, there's nothing to talk about. I'm fine."

Dinner the next day was a somber affair. For once the ringing phone was almost a welcome interruption. Alex grabbed it, listened a moment, then handed it to Walter, reluctance visible in every breath.

"I did something bad, Walter," Alex whispered, covering the mouthpiece with his hand. "Something very, very bad." Walter looked puzzled as he accepted the phone.

"Skinner here. Oh, Dana, what a nice surprise. No, that's OK. Dana? What exactly are you talking about?"

"Just that if he's really uncomfortable enough to be taking that much painkiller, he needs to have a consultation. I'm glad to write an occasional prescription, but truthfully, I think he needs more supervision and more care," Dana said firmly.

Walter watched Alex backing away, guilt and desperation written in every line on his face.

"Remind me again what he told you?"

"That you asked him to call me for a prescription."

"Dana, I'll get back to you. Thank you for everything." He replaced the phone, not really surprised to hear Alex vomiting in the bathroom. Why, Alex, why?

He doesn't know the answers.

Ice cold. He gasps as his head is thrust under the water again, tries to hold his breath, feels the pressure in his lungs. Can't breathe. Can't breathe.


He is silent.

"Again." It is worse this time, his lungs tighten immediately. He breathes despite his efforts, feels the water burn his lungs.

Comes to, to the cold feel of a stethoscope against his chest. His eyelid is peeled back. Latex hands. White coat.

"No damage."

No reason not to continue.

In bed that night, Walter turned Alex onto his stomach. He straddled his hips, working his fingers into the tight muscles of Alex's shoulders. Ran his hands in gentle strokes over the rigid body. Tried to feel where the knots were, where the tension was held. He knew Alex was winding himself tighter and tighter.

"Alex, you cannot use medication this way. I need to be able to trust you. Your dentist needs to be able to trust you. Scully needs to be able to trust you. I think you need to be punished to help you remember how important trust is. A spanking would be a pretty clear reminder. Do you agree that would be fair?"

"You're not going to spank me, Walter. I needed the medicine. I'm fine now. I don't need a doctor. I'm not going to see one. Just fucking let it go, will you!"

Alex seldom fought him this way.

"All right, Alex," Walter said. "It's your decision, just as long as you don't try to con Scully or the dentist into giving you medicine under false pretenses again. If you really think you can handle the pain alone, go ahead. But no shirking. We have shopping to do, laundry, the garden to see to. You have to keep up with your share."

Walter watched Alex rub his shoulder surreptitiously. He knew it had to hurt. But he was not going to coerce Alex into going to the doctor, no matter how much he wished Alex would cooperate in his own care. If it took longer for Alex to come to his senses, so be it. They had plenty of time.

Alex tried to sleep, but the pain in his shoulder was worse than he ever remembered it being. He found himself mentally going through the house, trying to remember if he had seen any painkiller, anywhere, which he might have overlooked. Well, there was always alcohol. Walter would kill him if he found out, but he was dying here and a few stiff belts of the hard stuff would at least take the edge off. He rolled out of bed and stealthily made his way downstairs.

Walter awoke in the empty bed. He squinted at the clock. If Alex was up, he was in pain. Walter sighed. It hurt to see Alex suffer like this. On the other hand, he could see no other way to persuade Alex to opt for a doctor. With a sigh, he pushed himself upright and went to look for Alex.

Walter was not pleased to see Alex with his head on the kitchen table, a shot glass and an empty bottle of Scotch next to it. He felt his jaw tighten. This was going from bad to worse.

"Alex, give me one good reason I shouldn't punish you." Alex started at the sound of Walter's voice. He stood shakily, his eyes fixed on Walter.

"No!" The combination of alcohol, pain and panic was too potent to resist. Alex dove past Walter, trying to reach the door, but his balance was off and he hit the doorframe with his forearm, the full weight of his body behind the impact. There was a loud crack and then a thin, high scream.

"Shit," gasped Alex, suddenly sober. "Oh shit, oh shit," he whimpered, holding his arm against him. "I broke it, oh shit, I think I broke it." He was white, his skin cold and clammy. Hastily Walter came forward, wrapped his arm around Alex, all traces of annoyance gone, his voice low and soothing.

"It's OK, Alex, it's going to be all right. We'll get you fixed up. Easy, Alex, here, sit down, let me see..." The arm was curved between wrist and elbow at an unnatural angle that made Walter queasy. It was definitely broken.

"Alex, I am taking you to the emergency room," Walter said.

Sudden panic. I won't let those bastards touch me.

"No, Walter, no! Please don't make me," Alex begged, teeth chattering, tears and sweat streaking his whitened face. Walter held him as he vomited despite his desperate efforts not to. He tried to support Alex's shaking body, conscious of his injured arm.

"We are going to the emergency room," Walter said firmly. "I will be right there with you. I'm sorry, Alex, you've got no choice here." Something in his voice compelled Alex to nod obediently. He hurt so badly.

"Walter, it's my arm! I'm not going to able to do anything," he wailed. Walter hugged him tightly.

"Don't think about that now," he said softly. "We can work it out."

The emergency room was bright and noisy and thankfully uncrowded. The triage nurse took one look at Alex's pallor and waved him towards an empty gurney. Walter filled out forms with bureaucratic efficiency.

"We're just going to take you for an x-ray, hon," a cheery-voiced matron said. Alex struggled to breathe deeply.

"Walter...Walter, please, don't leave me..." Walter rubbed Alex's jean-clad leg reassuringly.

"Right here, Alex. It's OK, that's it, just breathe." A brief debate with the x-ray technician over whether Walter could stay with Alex for the few seconds it took for the x-ray itself, which Walter resolved by producing his official ID. Alex closed his eyes gratefully as the technician grudgingly acquiesced and handed Walter a lead apron. Walter shrugged into it. He seriously doubted he was really at risk from a few extra seconds of radiation exposure.

Back in the emergency room, Alex was rolled into a curtained alcove. The orthopedic resident came in; clipped the x-ray to a light box.

"It's a simple fracture," he said. "I'm going to try and set it. I'll have the nurse get an IV started."

"Shouldn't he be anesthetized?" Walter asked.

"It's an unnecessary risk with a simple break like this. If we anesthetize him, we'll have to admit him. This way, we'll give him a sedative, set the bone, put a cast on and you can take him home," the resident said. His brusque tone irked Walter, but he had to admit, getting Alex home quickly seemed an attractive option.

The gurney was positioned beneath a ceiling hook with a cable attached. The nurse efficiently inserted the IV. Alex's wrist was encased in a tight plastic cuff, which was clipped to the cable above. The resident took a firm grip on Alex's upper arm and using his full weight, pulled downward.

"No! No more, stop, no more!" Alex shrieked in agony.

Walter went white. The resident and the nurse seemed unfazed. Walter stroked Alex's cheek gently. Alex shivered.

"Check his blood pressure. We'll try again in a moment," the resident said to the nurse.

"He seems to be in a lot of pain," Walter said to the resident.

"It's not as bad as all that. He's on an IV. His vital signs are normal. One more try and we should have the bone in place. Get ready, everyone." The resident turned back to Alex. Walter took a deep breath, bent over Alex, trying to hold his gaze. Alex's eyes were wide and terrified.

"Walter," he moaned, "Please, Walter, no more..."

"It'll be over soon," Walter soothed. "Come, let's count backwards from one hundred..."

Once again the resident threw his weight into the attempt to straighten Alex's arm. Alex howled. The pull seemed to last forever. Walter tried to swallow the bile that rose in his throat. The resident shook his head.

"No good. We'll have to try again."

"No! Walter, please, no, don't let him, no--" Alex screamed over and over. Walter put his face alongside Alex, whispering in his ear, trying to break through Alex's panic. Alex stopped screaming, but his eyes continued to beg silently.

"Are you certain this is right?" Walter asked the resident. The doctor grimaced impatiently.

"It should work." Walter paused. Something felt wrong.

"What about sedating him further?" he asked.

"We've got him on an IV with Valium. The dosage is high enough. Your presence here is just making things harder. Please, wait outside." Walter hesitated a moment. The man was a professional; surely he knew what he was talking about. As Walter reluctantly turned to go, Alex screamed again, his voice hoarse with terror.

"Walter, please, I'll be good, I promise I'll be good. Don't leave me, please--"

Walter was already stepping back in the room when he saw the doctor grit his teeth and seize Alex's jaw roughly.

"Stop the hysterics right now or I'll have you admitted to the psych ward. You're not hurt."

"Take your hands off him right now and step away from the gurney, or I will see that you never work in a hospital again, you incompetent, sadistic bully," Walter said, not raising his voice. He didn't need to. The doctor complied, raising his eyebrows superciliously.

"Don't you think you're overreacting a bit?" he asked coolly. He reeled back as Walter's shoulder caught him, hard. Walter made no apology as he moved to Alex's side.

"Shh, Alex, I've got you, it's OK," Walter said. "We're going to get you admitted and into a hospital bed, I'm going to call Scully and get the name of a good orthopedist and we're going to find out what your options are." Alex's eyes flooded with tears. Walter kissed his forehead gently.

"It's all right, Alex, I'll never let anyone hurt you again, I promise," Walter said softly. He stroked the sweaty black hair gently. Alex trembled.

"I hurt," he whispered. "I hurt so bad." Walter's eyes were sad.

"I know, Alex, I know, I'm going to help you. Try to believe me. I know you're hurt. I'm going to help you."

Alex was admitted overnight and placed on a Demerol drip. Walter slept next to his bed in a chair. Early the next day, the orthopedist Scully had recommended made his appearance.

"Hello, Mr. Krycek. Mr. Skinner. I'm Dr. Fields. How are you this morning? Did you get any sleep? Good. Let me just look at these x-rays again." He flashed the films up on the light box.

"I'm scheduling you for surgery this afternoon. It's a simple fracture, but the bone is badly displaced. I'm going to give you a general anesthetic. It says in the chart that there was some problem in the emergency room?"

"Fucking sadist tried to kill me," Alex muttered.

"The resident didn't know what the hell he was doing," said Walter. Dr. Fields sighed.

"They always try to set the bone in the emergency room if they possibly can. Most of the time it works. In this case, I agree with both of you. It was ill advised, especially in view of the injury Mr. Krycek previously sustained to his other arm. May I ask, are you in any pain at the amputation site? Would you like me to examine it?"

"No," said Alex.

"Yes," said Walter. Dr. Fields looked at them quizzically.

"He's in a good deal of pain, doctor, he just doesn't want to admit it," Walter said.

Dr. Fields studied the pair for a few minutes. Something in Walter's protectiveness touched him.

"I can examine the left arm while he's still anesthetized, after I set the right one," he offered. "It's not ideal, but I might be able to make some suggestions about where to go from there."

" Walter?" Alex asked softly, fear and trust warring in his eyes.

"It's up to you, Alex," Walter said. "I think it's a good plan."

"All right, do it then," Alex agreed, closing his eyes.

"Thank you," Walter said, his gratitude including both Alex and the doctor.

Hoping to avoid any more unpleasantness, Dr. Fields suggested that Walter stay with Alex while he was anesthetized. Alex seemed prepared to let the doctors handle him, as long as Walter was touching him, reassuring him, keeping him in the present. Their worst moments were when Alex wakened from the anesthesia, terrified and disoriented. His screams brought security guards from the far ends of the hospital. Once again Walter blessed his official ID. He would not have liked to try and sort the situation out without it.

Both men were glad to be home. Walter helped Alex upstairs to their bedroom. Alex, sore and cranky, protested all the way.

"This sucks, Walter," he said. "I can't do a fucking thing." Walter made non-committal noises.

"I'm going to go downstairs and get you some food," Walter said.

"Not hungry," said Alex in a small voice, trying not to think of how he would manage to eat. Walter reappeared quickly.

"Here," Walter said softly, slipping pillows behind Alex until he was upright. "I know you hate this, but you have to be reasonable. Let me help you." He put the bowl of Jell-O on the table, took a small amount on a spoon.

"Come on, open up," he coaxed. Alex opened his mouth; his eyes fastened to Walter's hand, fascination vying with something else. He swallowed, surprised at how good the food tasted. He had never been coddled like this before. There was something soul satisfying about being fed and fussed over, something that reached underneath all the layers of fear and bitterness and anger and despair.

"But Walter," he whispered, "It's six weeks before the cast comes off. You can't fucking feed me every day." Walter shook his head, and drew Alex into his arms.

"And why not?" he said softly. "Alex, I love you. I'm going to take care of you. You'll be better soon, don't worry. In the meanwhile, open up and take a few more bites for me. That's it." He wiped Alex's mouth carefully.

The loss of his good arm left Alex almost totally dependent. He balked at Walter helping him in the bathroom. Walter shook his head.

"It's not the first time, Alex. Remember when you first came here? Come on, it's not as bad as you think. I'm not embarrassed; you don't need to be either." Gently he eased Alex onto the toilet.

"Let me know when you're ready to be cleaned up." Alex closed his eyes, his cheeks flaming red. Walter wiped his bottom without giving any sign that there was anything unusual in one grown man performing such intimate services for another.

"How can you stand this, Walter?" Alex moaned as Walter helped him back into bed. Walter's brown eyes shone with unshed tears.

"Alex, I helped care for Sharon the last six weeks before she died. I've handled just about everything the human body can produce. The thing is, you're going to recover. It's a hell of a lot easier, knowing we're going to get past this. With Sharon..." His voice trailed off. He turned away for a moment, then turning back, kissed Alex hard on the mouth.

"You're going to be OK, Alex. I'm not going to lose you. Just concentrate on healing, that's all you've got to do. I'll take care of you." He stroked Alex's hair gently until Alex dozed off.

"You're not angry with me?" Alex asked, for the hundredth time. Walter sighed.

"No, I'm not angry at you, Alex, certainly not about your needing to be taken care of. I am disappointed in the choices you made this past week. Alex, do you have any idea how many of our rules you broke in the last few days?" Walter asked.

"Are you going to punish me? When?" Alex asked worriedly. Walter hesitated a minute. Leaving Alex to stew in this mixture of guilt and anxiety without any closure was not a good option.

"Yes, Alex, I am going to punish you. Do you agree you deserve it?" Walter said gently, his eyes holding Alex's green ones. Alex blanched

"I know I deserve to be spanked. But Walter, both my arms hurt. And I can't do anything myself. I hate being this helpless. Please Walter, I know I need to be punished, but I'm scared." His eyes flickered fearfully. Walter hesitated a moment. He didn't know if what he was offering made sense, but it was the only thing he could think of worth trying.

"One smack," Walter said. Alex looked at him.


"One smack, and that's all. Spanking over."

"One?" he said, disbelief and relief warring it out in his green eyes.

"One," Walter nodded. "And then it's done. Finished." He watched Alex carefully. Alex drew a deep, shuddering breath.

"OK," he said softly. "Just one? You promise?"

"Promise, Alex," Walter answered, shaking his head. Alex Krycek, terror of law enforcement, silent slayer of Consortium fame, cold-blooded sharpshooter, heartless killer, trembling in anticipation of a single smack across his butt. Walter would not have proposed it if Alex hadn't seemed so absolutely needy and if it hadn't felt so absolutely right.

Walter positioned Alex over his thighs, careful of his arms, and tugged his boxers down to his knees.

"Do you know what this punishment is for, Alex? It's for lying. Lying to me, and lying to yourself. You had it bad, Alex, you can't pretend it didn't happen. You're entitled to ask for special consideration. I want to know when something from your past is making you this upset. You need to give me a chance, Alex, a chance to be there for you. I think I've earned it. That you won't let me help hurts more than I can say."

He ran his hand gently over the small of Alex's back, over his bare ass.

"Do you think I like being shut out? Do you think it made me happy to know you were so desperate for medication you went through Sharon's things, but you didn't trust me enough to tell me you were in that kind of pain? Do you know how stupid I felt when I saw you gulping down that steak? Do you have any idea how humiliated I was when Dana lectured me about not getting you proper medical care? Since when don't you talk to me? I guessed you didn't like doctors; I didn't know they scared you so much you'd do anything rather than see one. For God's sake, Alex, I deserved to know that. Do you think I would have let things get this bad if I'd known how scared you were? I've done everything I know how to earn your trust. God, Alex, it hurts when you won't even give me a chance."

He raised his hand to shoulder level, took a breath and brought his palm down as hard as he could across Alex's bare bottom. The sound echoed in the room.

Alex lay, stunned. He had done all that to Walter and all Walter was giving him was one spank? Walter carefully eased his boxers back up and swallowed hard. The slight sound knifed through Alex's gut.

"All right, Alex? You're going to take better care of yourself in the future, right? If you need help, you're going to talk to me. Taking care of yourself is important. Knowing when you need help is just as important. You're not going to tough it out alone anymore."

"Are you going to give me the rest of the speech now?" Alex asked automatically, still sprawled face down across Walter's lap. "That all's forgiven, that I was brave, that--" Suddenly, to Walter's shock and to his own, he was sobbing harder than he ever had, great wrenching gulps that shook his entire body.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he wailed. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Walter, please, I'm sorry. Please Walter, this hurts too much, this hurts more than any spanking I've ever had. Walter, I'm sorry, I don't want to hurt you, I love you, please, I don't want to hurt you. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I was scared, it hurt, Walter, it hurt, when they set my arm, when he wouldn't stop. Walter, stop me, I hate this, you make me care and I don't want to. Please Walter, I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry."

Walter gently sat him upright, put his arms around him and held him tightly. Alex was crying too hard to talk now, gasping for breath, his whole body trembling. Walter hugged him against his chest, rubbing circles on his back, mindful of his immobilized arm, his mangled stump, wanting him to know he was safe, he was loved. He made no attempt to stop Alex's tears, just tried to be sure Alex knew he wasn't alone, that Walter cared, that Walter was there.

"Walter, am I a sick fuck or what?" Alex said, scrubbing his face against Walter's shirt. "Look at me."

"Alex," Walter said tenderly. "You're a deeply wounded man, with more guts and courage than anyone I've ever known. You're still here after things that would have leveled most people. You don't have to apologize to anyone. I just wish I knew what happened to make you so afraid."

"Please, Walter, don't make me tell you, " Alex whispered. Walter rubbed his back gently.

"It's your story," he said softly. "I'm not going to make you do anything. But I'd really like if you could trust me enough to tell me about the doctors."

"They let it happen. Every time they came I hoped someone would help me. I saw it on TV when they let us watch, how doctors were always helping people. But they never helped me. I was fine, I could take more, there was nothing wrong with me. I used to hope I would pass out, until I learned that they didn't care about that, either. Alex Krycek, don't listen to him, he's just faking. It hurt, Walter, it hurt. Sometimes it hurt so bad. And when I was older, when Cancerman and the Brit were at each other's throats, with me in the middle, their goons worked me over again and again. Each time I hoped they would kill me, but they never did, because I was only worth something alive. The perfect operative. Those white-coated SOBs with their smug smiles, their instruments, oh, yeah, you can hurt him some more, he's not going to die. Maybe if I were lucky there'd be a shot, some pills, something to knock me out afterwards. But mostly they just made sure I felt it. All of it. Everything they wanted to give me."

Walter closed his eyes. This was beyond his ability to comprehend. He had hated Sharon's doctors at times, but the rational part of his mind accepted that his anger was misplaced, born of frustration and the desire to blame someone, anyone for her plight. But these men had aided Alex's torturers, had let his frightened lover suffer over and over. Abruptly he remembered the doctor in the emergency room, threatening Alex with the psych ward as Alex lay in obvious terror and pain, his fingers digging roughly into Alex's jaw. There's good cops and bad cops, he thought. Why should medicine attract only saints?

"Walter? What you said before? That I hurt you, by not letting you in, by not letting you help me? It isn't on purpose, Walter. I hoped for so long, that someone would help me, and it never happened. It's hard to hope and hope and never have anyone come, Walter. Don't be mad at me because I stopped hoping. I get scared, Walter." Alex closed his eyes, fearing Walter's response.

Walter felt sick.

"Alex, look at me. Please." Alex opened his eyes.

"Alex, I will never be angry at you for being afraid. I will be disappointed if you let your fears lead you into things that are dangerous, which can hurt you. But I'll never, never blame you for feeling afraid. You need to talk to me when you're scared, Alex. I understand it goes against everything you've learned before. But you need to think with your head and not your gut on this issue. I know you get scared, Alex. And I know how to help you." Very carefully, he eased Alex down on the bed.

"I'm just going to get you some juice, OK?" he said. He waited until Alex nodded before leaving the room, returning quickly with a glass of apple juice with a straw and a glass of ice. He placed the ice on the night table. Carefully, he rolled Alex into a semi-upright position, cuddling him against him. Slipping the straw between Alex's chapped lips, he stroked his throat tenderly, coaxing him wordlessly to swallow.

"That's it, Alex, that's it," he said softly.

Had he ever felt this vulnerable, Alex wondered. More than anything, Alex wanted the reassurance only sex gave him. Finishing the drink, Alex stretched himself full length against Walter, his lips seeking Walter's mouth, his tongue working its way into the warm cavity.

"Fuck me, Walter," he begged. Walter groaned. He knew how important this connection was to Alex. Carefully, he spooned Alex against him, taking care not to press on either arm. He kissed the back of Alex's neck, enjoying the softness of Alex's skin, the fine black hairs curling down the nape of his neck. He ran his hand over Alex's shoulders, traced his collarbones with the tips of his fingers. Eased his tee shirt free of his finely muscled torso. Slipped his hand between the waistband of his boxers and his hips, tugged the thin cotton out of the way. Massaged the taut buttocks. Made gentle circles over the heavy balls. Stroked the hardening cock which stretched upwards toward his exploring hand. Alex moaned with pleasure.

"Fuck me," he begged again. Walter hushed him.

"It's OK, Alex. Let me make you happy this way. We've got plenty of time for the rest." He passed his palm over his open mouth, wetting it lightly, and began to stroke Alex's cock rhythmically. Alex arched his back, his pleasure plain.

"God that's good!" Walter grinned and quickened his strokes. Alex tightened and strained against him.

"Yes, that's it, yes, oh Walter, yes!" Alex's cum spilled over Walter's fingers and Walter gave a last gentle, teasing stroke.

"Enough, no more, please..." Alex said hoarsely, swallowing. He twisted his mouth to find Walter's.

"Oh, God, Walter, I love you so much." He snuggled sleepily into Walter's arms,

relaxed for the first time in days. Walter smiled in total satisfaction. He rubbed his hand over his own cock, his nose buried in Alex's hair, and easily got himself off, the physical release familiar and welcome. Too exhausted to bother with washing up, he used Alex's discarded tee shirt to clean them both up, dropped it to the floor and tugged sheet and blankets over them.

They slept peacefully until dawn. Alex stirred first. Both his arms throbbed uncomfortably. For a moment, he hesitated to wake Walter. The sensation sharpened.

"Walter?" he whispered tentatively. "Walter, I hurt. Help me?" His voice was soft. Walter groaned, stretched, hugged him close.

"Always, Alex, always." He reached for the pills and the ice-filled glass he had deliberately placed on the night table the previous evening, noting with satisfaction that the ice was now chilled water.

The healing had begun.


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