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


Take Me

AD Walter Skinner's phone shrilled just as he opened the door to his apartment overlooking the city.

"Walter? Melvin Frohike here. We have a situation. I would appreciate it if you would come over."

Skinner sighed. Melvin had never asked a favor in the more than five years he'd known the Lone Gunmen. So much for a relaxed evening.

"Give me half an hour," Skinner said. He slipped back into his jacket and headed for the garage. He wondered idly whether Frohike had called Mulder as well.

The bunker was quiet and filled with the detritus of three bachelor lives. Frohike shook Walter's hand.

"Thanks, Walter. Brace yourself." He ushered him deeper into the gloom.

Alex Krycek lay drowsing on the narrow bed. His good arm was cuffed to the headboard in such a way that he could turn, but not get loose. Some instinct seemed to warn him he was being observed. His eyes opened, searched the room, saw Walter Skinner. He made no overt sign of fear, but Walter noted the nervous flicking of tongue over lips, the gulp of air.

"Oh, shit, Frohike," Krycek moaned. "Here I thought you liked me. Hello, Walter. Looking for a punching bag?"

Walter winced at the reference to their last meeting. He had rethought the incident many times, especially after learning of Alex's brutally amputated arm. He had often wished he had kept his temper and tried to get the young man to talk to him, had treated him as a prisoner of war to whom the Geneva Convention applied and had not indulged his impulse for revenge.

"Can you take him, Walter?" Frohike asked. "We can't deal with him, Mulder won't deal with him, his own people don't want him. He's in no shape to be on his own. I don't have the wherewithal to take care of him myself. I don't know who the hell else to ask."

"Melvin, do you seriously think I'm going to take Alex Krycek home with me?" Walter asked. "You don't know the history here."

"Walter. The man's in bad shape." Frohike's eyes were sad. Walter shook his head. This was the sort of situation that Mulder usually foisted on him.

"I'll talk to him," Walter said aloud.

Frohike smiled and backed away, giving them privacy.

Walter approached cautiously. Wounded, the man was probably even more dangerous. He saw Krycek's legs were unrestrained; was not surprised that as he got within a few feet of the bed, Krycek launched himself at him, kicking towards his head. Krycek winced as his wrist jerked hard against the cuff secured to the headboard. Walter caught one heel and flipped Krycek back on the bed. Landed hard on Krycek's stomach, used his superior weight to pin him flat. Forced his head back by tangling his hand in the black hair.

"Do that again and a sore gut will be the least of your worries," he said.

Krycek groaned.

"Kill me already," he said softly. "I hurt so bad."

Walter was astonished to see what looked like tears in the green eyes. He had never pegged Krycek as capable of that kind of ruse. He narrowed his own dark eyes, noting the sheen of sweat on Krycek's face, the heated smell of him. Fever.

"What hurts, Krycek? Alex?" he asked, feeling an unlikely surge of sympathy.

"My stomach," moaned Alex.

Walter shifted his weight off Alex's belly.

"Alex, I didn't know," he said guiltily. Carefully, he pressed his hands down over his stomach, looking for the source of the pain.

"Tell me when it hurts, " he said, moving his hands towards his groin.

Alex closed his eyes and gritted his teeth.

"Alex. I can't help you if you won't cooperate. Tell me when it hurts."

"Hurts," said Alex. "Don't do that. Please." He tried to squirm away from Walter's probing fingers.

Walter frowned.

"Alex. I take it you're not going to feel comfortable in a hospital?" Walter asked gently. The sharp intake of breath gave him his answer.

Alex shivered.

"OK, then, I'm going to call Dana Scully."

"That bitch." Alex's voice was flat.

Only Walter's military training kept him from snapping at Alex. Instead, he eyed the younger man coldly, and to his surprise, saw something unexpected in his eyes. Terror, not resentment. Hidden, but not hidden well enough.

"Is there a particular reason you don't want to see Dr. Scully?" he asked.

Alex looked away.

"She'll hurt me," he said, no emotion in his voice.

Walter shook his head. Dana Scully, hurt a patient? It sounded unlikely.

"Hurt you how, Alex?" Walter asked, a suspicion he hoped was unfounded growing in his gut.

"Shit, Walter," Alex whispered. "I got fucked by some sadistic bastard. He hurt me enough. I don't want her to touch me." His voice was bitter.

Walter winced.

"OK, Alex, OK. I didn't know. " He looked at the green eyes carefully, seeing the pain in the tense wrinkles at the edges.

"I'm going to help you," Walter said.

For some reason, Alex believed him. For the first time since he had dragged his bleeding ass to the Gunmen's bunker, someone seemed certain of what to do with him.

"I'm going to take you home," Walter said.

Alex nodded his head in weary agreement.

"Thank you," he whispered.

Walter ran his hand gently over the unshaven face, stroking the fine cheekbones with a rough thumb. He was surprised when Alex turned into the caress, seeming glad for the meager reassurance he offered.

"Melvin!" Frohike appeared at his elbow.

"Give me a minute to call Dana; then I'm going to take him with me. Do you have the keys?" He indicated the handcuffs.

Frohike waited until Walter completed his call, then released the cuff warily.

"Alex, can you walk?" Walter asked quietly.

Alex shifted himself to the edge of the bed and stood unsteadily.

Walter tucked his hand under his good elbow.

"Come on," he said, surprised at his own feeling of pity. Alex looked awful, he thought; he was graying out even as they walked the short way to the car.

"You're going to be OK," he said gently, "I'm going to take care of you now, Alex." Now where did that come from, he asked himself. Yes, I regret how I treated him last time. But that doesn't mean I owe him anything now. He is still the same rat bastard he always was. Still, the thought of those injuries...he winced.

He eased Alex into the car, let him stretch out across the rear seat. Drew the handcuffs from the glove compartment.

"Do we need these, Alex, or will you behave yourself?" he asked, watching the green eyes carefully.

Alex shook his head.

"I'll be good, I promise I'll be good," he said softly.

Walter didn't like the almost childlike tone of Alex's voice. Either the sonofabitch was playing him for a fool or Alex was a lot less stable emotionally than Walter would have suspected.

Reaching his building, Walter tried to rouse Alex. Alex looked at him blankly, still deep in nightmarish memories.

Alex was cold. He looked around, trying to remember where he was. Skinner's car. Skinner's apartment. Inside this time, not on the balcony, but the fucking place was still cold. He shivered.

"You're feverish, Alex," Walter said quietly. "That's why you feel cold. In a few minutes I'll give you some medicine and you'll feel better. I'm going to help you now. I spoke to Dana Scully, and she explained exactly what we need to do." He took a deep breath. He wasn't going to relay her message that it'd be a cold day in hell before she'd lift a finger to help the murdering rat bastard. At his insistence, she had walked him through the basic first aid, and had agreed to call a few prescriptions in to the pharmacist for delivery. Walter had found the bag from the drugstore on his doormat when he and Alex walked in.

The best approach, he'd decided, would be to be as matter of fact about the procedure as possible. Accordingly, he unfolded a towel over the bed. Opened the boxes of antibiotic and analgesic suppositories, wet a washcloth, and arranged them on the nightstand along with lubricant and a box of latex gloves left from when Sharon was ill. He shepherded Alex into the bedroom.

"Take off your jeans and stretch out please, Alex, " Walter said quietly, ignoring the flush that suffused the younger man's face.

"Roll over on your side," he added, as he seated himself alongside Alex.

"Bring your knees up, it'll be easier that way. That's good."

Alex closed his eyes, resigned to the pain he knew was coming. He didn't expect Walter to be gentle. He was surprised when Walter rubbed his hip before easing his boxers down.

Walter slipped the latex glove over his hand.

"Try and take a few deep breaths," Walter said gently. "I'll be as careful as I can." Scully had given him explicit instructions. Thoroughly lubricating his index finger, he pressed carefully at the inflamed opening, waiting for it to soften. Steeling himself, he inserted his finger fully and rotated it, feeling for tears or foreign objects. Was relieved to feel nothing except Alex's muscles tensing against him.

"Sorry," he said apologetically. "I know it hurts. This is going to help." Walter cautiously withdrew his finger and slipped the antibiotic suppository carefully into Alex's inflamed anus, followed by the analgesic. He pressed Alex's buttocks together gently, wanting him to retain the medication.

Alex shivered again.

"Shh, easy now," Walter soothed. "It'll only sting for a minute, then you'll feel better. Shh, that's it, try and breathe through it." He stroked Alex's back reassuringly.

"I still don't know why I'm here," Alex said softly.

Walter looked pensive.

"Partly because Melvin Frohike wanted you to be cared for, but didn't feel that he could do it himself. Partly because it seems you are somewhat persona non grata at the moment with both my agency and the Consortium. Partly because you didn't sound enthusiastic about a hospital bed. Mostly because I've always regretted the way I slugged you in the gut and left you chained in the cold that night Mulder dragged you in here. It reminds me too much of some of the worst things I saw and did in Vietnam. I was sorry when I learned about your arm. Aside from the physical pain, I appreciate how hard adjusting to a loss like that is. And it certainly must make things rough for you within the Consortium. I don't suppose their medical benefits are all that great."

Alex laughed, the first time Walter had ever heard that sound from him.

"No sick days, no paid vacation. Not as nice as your job, Walter," he said ruefully. Wanting to show Walter how much he appreciated his kindness, he slid further down the bed.

"Let me make you happy," he said softly. Walter froze in astonishment as Alex pressed his mouth against his groin, his hot breath sending shivers through Walter. Alex teased his fingers across the growing bulge in Walter's pants.

Walter used Alex's hair to firmly move Alex's head away from his crotch, while with his other hand, he shoved away Alex's exploring fingers. Alex didn't attempt to touch him again, only looked at Walter with bewildered eyes.

"I can't do a hell of a lot right now," he apologized softly. "If you want to wait a few days..."

"Alex, I'm not expecting you to exchange sex for room and board and medical care. You're hurt. What's this all about?" Walter had a fairly good idea what kind of training the Consortium offered its operatives. This was apparently a required course.

Alex looked away. Not even a decent whore anymore, he thought, for it to be so easy for Walter to refuse. Walter read the pained expression on his face rightly.

"Alex, I'm not saying you're not attractive. You're plenty hot. But you don't have to bargain with me like that."

Alex closed his eyes. That had been one of the first deals he'd made with Charles. He could do pretty much whatever anyone wanted him to...

What Walter wanted him to do was to cut out the attempts at seduction. He shoved Alex back on the pillow, not roughly, but with enough force that it was clear he meant him to stay put. Smoothing back the dark hair, he stroked Alex's forehead gently.

"You're still feverish. The medication I just gave you should help with that. I want you to stay quiet while I get some food for you. Then we're going to talk. Think you can do that?" He watched Alex's face carefully.

"I'm not hungry," Alex said in a small voice. He wasn't sure he could keep anything down.

Walter watched him, not sure why he felt so protective of the dark haired man, only knowing he very much wanted to make it up to him for the cold night on the balcony, the ruined arm, the battered ass.

He brought Alex a cup of coffee and a muffin he'd quickly heated. He realized he knew almost nothing about the man.

"Sugar? Milk?" he asked.

"Sugar," Alex grinned at the smell of coffee. "Lots of it, please."

Walter added three large spoonfuls.

"Sweet enough, Alex?" he asked.

Alex took a tentative sip, then nodded his thanks. Alex's eyes brightened as he nibbled at the muffin. Walter was struck at how appreciative Alex seemed. His own agents were seldom so polite. He said as much to Alex.

Alex grimaced.

"You should know how it is, Walter. When you're dependent on the good will of madmen, you learn how to be pleasing. Your agents don't have to worry about you having the shit beaten out of them, or about you deciding you want them dead. They know they can count on you. That's a luxury I've never had."

Alex knew he needed a new start. His prospects within the Consortium were dismal. Alex had never had any reason to believe he was of value as anything but a piece of meat, someone to use for sex or for muscle, a killer for hire. How else did you get someone to want you?

He remembered the last time he had found a new master. Spender had wanted him. He had traded sex for a safe haven in the Consortium's hierarchy. For a promotion from rough trade to assassin. Shit, he could have done worse.

The memory faded as Alex found himself back with Walter, the man's brown eyes watching him with concern.

"Charles wasn't so bad," he said softly to Walter. "At least it was just him. He let me sleep in his bed afterwards. He took me out for dinner. He taught me how to kill."

"What's your relationship now?"

"I hope he's dead."

How could he stay? Just listening to Walter on the phone reworking his schedule, Alex could see how much of a disruption he was causing. Better to leave now, before he got too used to the gentle care, the easy conversation, and the security of being fed.

Alex couldn't believe Walter would have any interest in a relationship with him. Walter had a real job. He had agents who worked for him. What use would he have for a one-armed assassin who was too old to be much good as a boyfriend and so fucked up he couldn't keep food down, much less sleep through the night?

"Walter, I should go. I've screwed things up enough. You don't need me in your life," Alex said reluctantly.

Walter knew only that everything about Alex brought out his strong protective streak. His injuries. His stoicism. His obvious inability to relax enough to sleep or eat properly. How could the Consortium desert one of its own operatives this way? AD Walter Skinner was proud of his loyalty to the agents under his command and he seethed at the disloyalty of Alex's masters within the Consortium, aware that his reaction was irrational, but feeling it nonetheless.

"Please stay, Alex. I want you to," Walter said gently.

"You can find a lot of guys with looks as good as mine and a hell of a lot less shit to deal with," Alex said softly.

"It's not just your looks and the prospect of sex, fantastic as both are," Walter replied. "I like you, Alex. You need someone to make sure you're OK. I'm up for that." Walter rubbed Alex's back gently, hating the way Alex cringed at every movement of his hand.

Alex didn't know how to respond. He gagged, tried to force the bile back down his throat, and vomited miserably across the bed.

"I'm sorry," Alex whispered.

"Feel any better now?" Walter stroked Alex's dark hair.

Alex shook his head.

"Shit, Walter, I don't know what came over me. I'm sorry. I just lost it...I'll clean it up. I'll do anything you want. I'm sorry, I can do anything, with anyone, please, just tell me what you want me to do." His voice trembled.

Walter wanted only to stop the terrified flow of words.

"Alex, don't worry," he said, "I'll just toss this in the laundry. There are plenty of extra sheets. You don't need to do anything, just settle down. We have a long time." Something about Alex made him hope it would be a very, very long time.

"Speaking of laundry, you need to buy yourself some decent underwear," Walter said to Alex, thinking of the threadbare boxers he had washed. He didn't know what to make of the flash of discomfort and defiance in Alex's face.

"My treat," he said. "After all, what if you were hit by a bus?"

Alex snorted.

"Funny, Walter. What do you want me to get?" he said, something in his tone making Walter study him for a long minute.

"Alex? Mind telling me what's going on?" he asked. "Why are you so angry?"

"I'm not angry, Walter," Alex said, his jaw clenched. "All I asked was, what do you want me to get?" He wanted to get this over with. He hadn't anticipated Walter liking this kind of shit.

"How do I know what kind of underwear you should get, Alex?" Walter said, exasperated. "I assume you know what size you are. Get whatever you're comfortable in. Is there a problem?" He was unprepared for Alex's reaction.

"Well, you wanted to see me in something else, and you're paying, so I just want to know what the fuck turns you on. OK, Walter? Is that so fucking hard to understand?" Alex glared at Walter furiously.

"That's not what I'm asking, Alex. I just wanted you to have something comfortable under your jeans. Those boxers of yours have about seven threads left. Get whatever you like." Walter's brown eyes were calm.

"I don't fucking like anything, OK? What are you going to do, beat the shit out of me? Is that what you like?"

"Alex, I can hear that you're angry, but I am not going to be spoken to like this," Walter said firmly.

"Fuck you, I'm so scared. Make me shut up then. What are you waiting for? You want me to get over your knee so you can spank me? Is that your kink, Walter?"

Walter glared at him.

"Alex, I've been very patient. But enough's enough. If you don't stop now, I am going to make you stop."

"So that's how it goes. OK, Walter, go ahead. Make me stop, if you can. But none of this safe, sane, consensual shit. You have to make me."

Walter seldom used his full strength. But he was a strong man, who had excelled in hand to hand combat drills in his youth, and had kept up with weights and martial arts work in the gym. Alex was no match for him without a weapon. Within less than a minute, Walter had Alex firmly underneath him. Panic- stricken, Alex twisted and struggled and spit and cursed. Walter simply waited. Finally, Alex was still.

Walter looked at the blank green eyes of his winded prisoner. Ever so gently, he stroked the dark hair back from his forehead. It was clear to Walter that Alex was prepared for any amount of pain. What he was not prepared for was what Walter intended to give him. Walter held Alex against him firmly as he seated himself on the bed. Pulled Alex into his lap and began to rub his back gently. Stroked his hair, rubbed his stubbled cheek. Touched Alex's face gently. Alex looked stunned.

"Stop, Walter, I'm not some fucking pet. Hurt me already," Alex whispered.

"I feel like petting you," Walter said, "And you, Alex, are going to let me. You're the one who said, 'None of this safe, sane, consensual shit.' Well, this is what I want to give you. And this is what you're going to take."

"This is so stupid, Walter," Alex groaned. "Come on, stop." He twisted uncomfortably.

"That's enough," Walter said firmly. "Lie still. I'm not going to hurt you. Just trust me. You need this." He continued his gentle massage, feeling Alex tremble under his hand.

"Please stop, Walter. If you won't beat me, then fuck me, OK?" Anything but this. "You're hurting me, Walter, please, stop." Alex tried to squirm away, but Walter was having none of it.

"Does it really hurt, Alex? Or does it just feel strange?" Walter asked gently.

"Yes, no, I don't know, Walter. Please stop, please..." Alex fought to get clear, but Walter held him despite his desperate efforts. He was careful not to hurt Alex, but he refused to let him pull away.

"No, Alex, you're going to stay put. And I'm going to keep touching you. Shh, try and calm down. I'm really not hurting you, you know that. Breathe. That's it, I'm not hurting you, just breathe."

The last time Alex had been this frightened was when he had first seen Walter in the Gunmen's bunker. Now here he was in Walter's apartment, in Walter's arms, and what he felt as Walter continued to gently touch him was terror. Sheer, unadulterated terror.

Walter methodically worked his way over Alex's trembling body, the long, gentle strokes of his hand giving way to softer, smaller caresses over face and hands, down chest and stomach, firmly over groin and thighs and then up over buttocks to small of back. All the time, he held Alex firmly, turning him for better access, ignoring his protesting curses.

"Just take it easy, Alex," he said. "I'm not hurting you."

Well, maybe he wasn't, Alex conceded. It was just so unexpected. He didn't want Walter to be angry with him. He hadn't meant to say the things he had. It was just the underwear thing was so fucking humiliating. He loved his ratty boxers, loved the softness of the well-washed cotton. Charles had been a stickler for new underwear, had delighted in taking even that tiny bit of autonomy away. The rational part of his mind told him there was no way Walter could have known that.

"Enough, Walter," he whispered, no longer struggling. Walter heard the shift in tone and cautiously released him, sighing with relief when he felt Alex snuggle against him of his own volition.

"I'm sorry, Walter," he said softly. "I didn't mean to be such a shit. You can kill me now." He cocked his head to the side, grinned tentatively. Walter ruffled his hair.

"After all that trouble, do you think I'd let you get away that easy?" Walter said gruffly to Alex, helping him sit. "I think we've got to talk about some ground rules here," he said more seriously.

Alex didn't want to talk. He dropped his head to Walter's lap, trying to work his mouth inside the zippered fly, desperate to distract Walter with something he knew he was good at. Walter let his hand drop to the nape of Alex's neck.

"Cut it out, Alex," he said gently, rubbing the tight muscles of Alex's shoulders.

"I want to talk, Alex, not play like this. Come on, do what I'm asking you to. Now." He twirled his fingers in Alex's hair, catching him firmly. "Stop that now," he said, pulling his head from his lap. Alex looked at him somberly.

"Please, Walter," he said softly. "Let me make it up to you. Let me make you happy." Walter shook his head.

"What will make me happy is to have a conversation with you about our relationship. Sit yourself up, now." With a slight quiver, Alex obeyed.

"If I do something that upsets you, you have every right to tell me. But don't curse at me. I'm not going to be spoken to that way in my own house. Words like that are hurtful and they don't solve anything. They don't belong in our relationship. Do you understand me?" He reached for Alex's good hand, stroked the tense fingers.

"I'm sorry, Walter," Alex whispered. "I won't do it again."

"And another thing. It's not always about sex. I noticed your worn out underwear when I did laundry. I wanted you to have some comfortable new things. I didn't mean to upset you and I'm sorry that I did. But you could at least have given me the benefit of the doubt." Walter waited until Alex nodded slightly in acknowledgement.

"Alex, I take it you pretty much grew up inside the Consortium. Were there sanctions for poor behavior? Did they punish you when you did something wrong?" Walter asked.

"They had places they put you. Charles had his goons beat the shit out of anyone who annoyed him. If he liked you he did it himself, with his fists or his belt or whatever else he could get his hands on. The Englishman loved those fucking canes of his." Alex shivered at the memory. Walter put a reassuring arm around his shoulders, sighing to himself as Alex flinched.

"I'm not asking you about this to frighten you, Alex. It's just that I think we need to establish some rules about behavior. It strikes me you haven't learned a lot of the things I consider essential to civilized survival. I just want to determine where we should start."

"We could fuck," Alex said hopefully, his green eyes fastened to Walter's face, trying to read what Walter was thinking. Walter was about to laugh, when he suddenly realized just how serious Alex was. Alex was shivering with barely suppressed excitement. Carefully, Walter leaned in for a kiss, and was shocked when Alex drew back sharply.

"Just fuck me, Walter," Alex begged, shucking his jeans and boxers and doing his best to divest Walter of his. He pressed himself against Walter, his excitement obvious. Walter felt his cock jump with answering need.

"Alex. Kiss me first." Walter leaned insistently into him, his lips brushing Alex's face, his closed mouth. He rubbed his lips over Alex's, watching the man's green eyes carefully. Panic.

Walter drew Alex into his arms, his hands gentle. "It's OK, it's all right," he said softly, tugging Alex against him. "Shh, calm down, Alex." Walter stroked Alex's hair gently out of his eyes. " It's OK, you're safe now, I got you. It's all right, Alex, I won't do anything you don't want me to. Come here, just try and relax and let me take care of you. " He stroked Alex's hair smooth, then began to rub the back of his head, the small hollows at the nape of his neck, trying to coax Alex into softening against him.

"What is it, Alex? I can fuck you, but I can't kiss you? Where'd you learn that, Alex? I'm just curious." Walter wasn't sure whether Alex even heard him. Something about the faraway look in Alex's green eyes made him uneasy. Where was Alex?

Half naked, Alex slid himself down until his head rested on Walter's lap. To his satisfaction, Walter's cock was rigid against the snug fabric of his jeans.

"Please let me suck you," he said softly. "Please Walter, I need this so bad." Walter tried to think clearly. With the last ounce of restraint he possessed, he grabbed Alex and manhandled him onto the bed. Stretching himself full length, he hooked his legs over Alex's and his arms around Alex's torso and pinned the younger man to him. He was prepared this time for the burst of angry, desperate energy, for the silent struggle to escape, and for the eventual softening of Alex's lean body.

"Alex," he said evenly, "Give it up. We are not going to do this until I say we're ready. You are not going to use sex to avoid talking to me. You are not going to trade your body for a safe place to sleep. Alex, I do want you. But I won't take you on those terms."

"Fuck you, Walter, just let me go," Alex said bitterly. Walter rolled onto his back, tugged off his tee shirt, and shoving an extra pillow under his head, made himself comfortable.

"Nope," he said. "I want you to stay put." He turned Alex so that his head was comfortably cushioned on his furry chest, made sure his severed arm was free of pressure, tucked Alex's hips tightly against his own trim stomach. Alex stayed quiet, his eyes uncertain.

"How's that feel?" Walter asked softly. Alex nestled closer, rubbing his cheek against the soft dark curls. The fingers of his good hand touched Walter's chest tentatively. Walter rubbed Alex's back, trying to convey that he was safe, that he was wanted.

He was heartened by the fact that Alex had quieted so quickly, that he seemed almost relieved by being taken down.

Surely that represented a degree of progress. And he knew himself, knew he was capable of providing that kind of structure. All his experience told him that Alex needed strong boundaries, that Alex would spin out of control without them. And he was certain he would be able to enforce them.

The question of whether Alex would accept them was being answered affirmatively by every movement on Alex's part, as he softened into Walter's firm embrace, pressed himself closer to Walter's strong body, and began to breath quietly and easily. To Walter's pleased surprise, Alex was drifting into a sound sleep. For the first time since he had brought Alex home with him, Alex seemed relaxed. His body sprawled loosely over Walter's own. His head nestled under Walter's chin. Walter smiled as an unruly strand of black hair overlapped his lip. He planted a gentle kiss on the dark head.

Forget about fucking, Alex. We're going to make love.

They lay together on the bed for a long time. Finally, Alex drifted back to consciousness. Rubbing his head against Walter's chest, he traced his hand over Walter's stomach, his hardening cock. This time, Walter didn't push Alex away as Alex worked his way down his body. Lay quietly as Alex teased open button and fly, eased off boxers and pants. Allowed himself to enjoy the feel of Alex's hot mouth on his stiff cock. Alex ran his tongue around the head of Walter's cock until Walter's back arched involuntarily. He grinned to himself as he opened his mouth wider and with teeth carefully tucked behind stretched lips, took Walter's cock deep in his mouth. He tried to focus on Walter's particular taste and smell, savoring the closeness he had wanted so much.

Walter stroked his dark hair tenderly, drifting in a languorous haze of arousal. He felt Alex's fingers at the base of his cock, stroking his balls, stroking the sensitive skin behind them. Teasing closer to his asshole, never quite reaching it. He ran his own hands over Alex's ass, moved his fingers to the line between the two firm buttocks. Rubbed gently on the inside edge of the buttocks themselves, enjoying how Alex squirmed and then tilted his hips back, widening himself, seeking more contact with his caressing hand. He hooked Alex's hips firmly and turned Alex so that he could reach him more easily.

Walter kept his arm against Alex's leg as he fished in the nightstand for lube. Flipped open the tube, coated his fingers. Was about to touch the tempting asshole when he thought of the last time he had inserted his finger and froze.

"Alex," he said gently. "Alex, stop a minute. Talk to me. How do you feel? Are you still sore?" Alex's eyes were glazed with arousal. Walter hesitated; he wasn't going to get sense out of Alex obviously. He decided to err on the side of caution and concentrate his attentions on Alex's cock. He slid his lubricated hand over the hard shaft, stretching his fingers carefully around it and slowly tugging it away from Alex's belly. Alex moaned, thrusting into his snug fist. He massaged his thumb slowly over the head of Alex's cock, enjoying the soft texture, the way the slit at the tip pulsed open, releasing the preliminary clear fluid.

Alex responded by intensifying his sucking. Walter felt himself slip deeper into Alex's throat as Alex drew on every skill he had to bring him to climax. He released his hold on Alex long enough to shove warningly at Alex's cheek, but Alex ignored his signal.

"I'm going to come," Walter gasped, his body rigid. In answer, Alex took his cock even deeper, using the muscles of his throat to increase the intensity of sensation. With a shout, Walter emptied himself in Alex's mouth and fell back exhausted.

"Oh God, Alex, it's so good, you're so good," he gasped, trying to pull Alex to him for a kiss. Alex came as far as his chest, then buried his face in the dark curls of hair. "Did I do good, Walter?" he asked.

"Good? Shit, Alex, I think I'm dead," Walter muttered. Alex laughed happily.

"I like a satisfied customer," he said. The casual joke bothered Walter. He winced, then remembered he had not yet finished with Alex. He waited until his breathing had steadied, then rolled Alex on his back.

Alex neither cooperated nor resisted as Walter pressed him back against the bed. He watched almost curiously as Walter slipped his arm under his hips, and tugged him to him. Walter bent over the still hard shaft and moistening his lips, fastened his mouth over the head of Alex's cock. He used his hand to stroke the base of Alex's cock as his tongue worked the tender ridge of flesh between head and shaft. Alex's breathing roughened and he trembled at the feel of it.

"Yes, oh yes, yes--" he gasped. Walter continued stroking and licking even past Alex's climax, until Alex forcibly pulled away.

"No more, please, no more, Jesus, Walter--" Words gave way to open-mouthed pants as he tried to catch his breath. It was Walter's turn to grin.

"Come here," he said, rolling Alex back on top of him. Alex once again resisted being dragged past his chest, so Walter contented himself with a soft kiss to Alex's mop of black hair. For a time they lay snuggled together, sated. Walter was drifting into blissful sleep when he sensed rather than felt Alex pulling away from him and struggling to sit upright.

"What are you doing, Alex?" he asked sleepily. Alex's answer jolted him fully awake.

"I have to go, Walter," he said, strapping his prosthesis on. His good hand felt along the floor for his discarded underwear and jeans. "It was good, but I gotta go now." Walter was outraged.

"So let me understand, Alex. Is this how it works? We have sex, it's good, and you panic and run? I don't think so! Just where are you planning on going at this hour? If I can't trust you to show some good judgment of your own accord, then I'm going to make some rules for you." Worry made Walter's voice sharp.

"You are not even going to leave this bed unless I give you permission, do you understand me? And you are certainly not going to leave this apartment in the middle of the night. Is that clear?" Walter glowered at Alex. Alex's eyes darted around the room nervously.

"Fuck you, Walter," he said with deliberate insolence, swinging himself upright. Walter had been prepared for Alex's first reaction to be defiance. It took only seconds before he had Alex pinned beneath him. Alex fought bitterly, cursing, trying to bite, legs flailing. Walter let him struggle without either stopping him or releasing him, judging it best to let Alex exhaust himself before going further.

"All done?" he asked quietly. Alex shivered. Walter stroked Alex's hair meditatively. He was going to have to enforce some rules or this relationship would rapidly become untenable. What sort of sanctions could he impose?

"Have you ever been spanked, Alex?" he asked in what he hoped was a neutral voice. Alex nodded.

"Spanked, paddled, whipped, caned, strapped, flogged," he said tonelessly. "I've done it all, Walter. What's your pleasure?" His eyes were bright and hard.

"Not pleasure, Alex, I'm not talking about hanky-spanky games. I'm talking about punishment. Something to help you learn. A spanking, Alex, with my hand, only my hand."

Wriggling free, Alex curled into a small ball on the bed. All this talk was fucking weird. What was Walter waiting for? Why didn't he just beat the shit out of him and get it over with?

Walter studied the huddled form. He knew how confused Alex was, and how frightened.

"I will never punish you unless we discuss it first and unless we agree it's the right thing. I promise. This isn't about hurting you, Alex," he said gently. "This is about keeping you safe. About setting boundaries we can both live with. About helping you learn to live in the world as a whole man, not an assassin, not someone for sale to the highest bidder. You need help. I want to help you." Something in Alex melted at the sound of Walter's quiet, sensible explanation.

"OK, Walter," Alex said in a very small voice. "Are you going to hit me now?" His eyes searched Walter's face tentatively. Walter sighed.

"No, Alex, I'm not going to 'hit' you. Come here, Alex, I want to hold you. Be good now."

Alex studied Walter's face for a long moment, found nothing to be afraid of. A lifetime of quick judgements, quick appraisals which had meant the difference between living another day or dying with a knife in his throat or a bullet in his head, told Alex that Walter was being straight with him. He eased his back against Walter, trying to preserve at least some semblance of detachment.

Walter was having none of it. He rubbed his lips over Alex's dark hair, wrapped arms and legs around him until he was held as closely as was humanly possible.

"Safe, Alex, you're safe," he said, rocking him even closer. Alex's body stiffened, then with a moan he turned toward Walter and buried his head in Walter's chest. To his horror, he began to cry and couldn't stop.

"No!" Alex protested in disbelief. It was one of the first lessons he had learned. You don't cry. Your eyes might tear with pain; that you couldn't control. But you don't cry. Ever.

But he was crying, hard. And instead of the slap across the face he had long ago come to expect, he had Walter holding him, rocking him, stroking his hair and crooning reassurances. The wave of sheer terror that hit him left him scrambling desperately to get his head free of the bed. Walter supported him as he retched, patting his back comfortingly.

"Let it out, Alex," he said softly. "It's OK, you're safe, nothing's going to harm you." He continued to rub gentle circles on Alex's back, wanting him to know that he was safe, that he wasn't going to be hurt, that he wasn't alone.

"I'm sorry, Walter--" Alex gasped, then gagged again. Unable to stop, he vomited over and over, until nothing more came up and his body shook with dry heaves. Only then did Walter maneuver him back into the bed.

"That's enough now," he said firmly. "No more, Alex, that's enough now. Take deep breaths, that's it, listen to me. Breathe, that's it, deep breath, all the way down." Gradually Alex quieted. He lay limp, his green eyes enormous in his pale face.

"I'm just going to get some old towels and clean this mess up," Walter said. He headed into the bathroom.

Alex knew this was his last chance. With speed born of desperation, he skimmed into pants, grabbed boots and jacket and slipped silently out the door of the apartment. Found the stairs at the end of the hallway; took them barefoot. No time for thought or reflection; he had to get out of there. Years of Consortium training and habits kept any feelings he might have had at bay. He toed into his boots, shrugged on his jacket, and vanished out the basement entrance into the night.

Walter brought a soda and some crackers, as well as the towels, into the bedroom. Froze in disbelief at the sight of the empty bed.

"Goddamnit!" he swore, cursing himself for his stupidity. I should have expected this, I should have anticipated it. Alex. What have you done? He tossed the towels across the vomit on the floor and slumped down to sit on the edge of the bed, head in his hands. I should have known, I should have handcuffed him to the damn bed if I had to. How the hell am I going to get him back?

Three days. Three miserable days of checking every lousy haunt he could think of, flashing Alex's picture, trying to trace where Alex had gone. Three days of calling in favors, of prodding the Gunmen to use their dubious talents to help him find the missing man. Three days of knowing, deep in his gut, that if Alex really, truly didn't want to be found, he wouldn't be. Three days of bitter, empty longing.

Come back, Alex. I can help you. Please come back.

Midnight. Walter sat in his armchair, nursing a glass of Scotch.

He hadn't felt this dispirited, this much of a failure, since the first separation with Sharon. Then as now, he knew he had lost someone he loved. Then as now, he had no way to get his heart back. There was a soft tap at the door. Walter sat bolt upright, afraid to even hope. He padded to the door and without even looking through the peephole, yanked it open.

Alex stood there, in the same clothes he had had on when he left, hands at his sides.

"Walter?" he said quietly. "Can I come in?" His voice was devoid of emotion.

Walter had enough emotion for two.

"Alex! Thank God you're back, " he said, his voice choked with gratitude and relief.

"How I've missed you, Alex," Walter said fervently. He wrapped his arms around Alex and, brushing his lips over his disheveled hair, ushered him inside.

Alex merely looked at him. Walter took a deep breath and tried to rein himself in. He didn't want to scare Alex away.

"Come sit down," Walter said gently, taking Alex's elbow and ushering him to the kitchen table. He helped Alex out of his jacket, careful of his arm. Tugged off Alex's boots. Alex sighed quietly. Walter pulled a container of juice out of the refrigerator, poured a glass and set it before Alex. Scrambled eggs, made toast, put plate and fork in front of Alex.

"Go on," he said quietly. "You may as well." Alex's eyes brightened at the sight of food and he began to eat ravenously. It was obvious he was hungry. Walter let him eat in peace.

"Had enough, Alex?" he asked when it seemed Alex was through. Alex nodded.

"Thank you, Walter," he said. "It was good." Walter took his good hand gently.

"You look exhausted, Alex. Come on, let's clean you up a little." He propelled Alex toward the bathroom. Alex balked.

"What are you going to do to me, Walter?" Alex whispered. Walter realized suddenly that Alex had literally no idea what he had in mind.

"Alex," he said softly, "A warm bath will feel good." Alex eyed him blankly. Sighing, Walter plugged the bathtub drain, turned on the taps.

"Let's get these clothes off, all right?" he said quietly. Alex made no move to comply.

"May I help you?" Walter asked softly. At Alex's nod, he eased the dark tee shirt over Alex's head, unbuckled Alex's belt. Alex fumbled with his fly, pushed his jeans and boxers down and stepped out of them. Unstrapped his prosthesis and placed it on the sink. Walter inhaled sharply at the sight of the new scrapes and bruises decorating Alex's body, then willed himself to breath slowly, trying for a calm he didn't feel. He didn't want to alarm Alex.

"Into the tub, Alex," Walter said, checking the water temperature with his wrist. Alex stiffened. He licked his lips nervously.

"Walter? What are you going to do to me?" Alex asked again. Walter was at a loss to understand what Alex meant.

"A bath, Alex," he said quietly, feeling his way. "You know, just to clean you up a little. Come on, step in, it'll feel good." Alex looked dubious, but allowed Walter to help him into the tub. He flinched as the water found his fresh scrapes. Walter soaped a thick washcloth and began to gently wash Alex's back and shoulders. Alex tensed at the unaccustomed contact, then with a sigh, pushed gratefully into Walter's hand, enjoying the sensation. Walter worked his way down Alex's chest, along his good arm. With exquisite care he washed the mangled stump, alert for signs of distress. Alex stayed quiet.

"Can I wash your hair, Alex?" Walter asked. Alex stiffened.

"Please, Walter, don't make me put my head under the water, " he said softly. Walter wondered what Alex was remembering, not sure he wanted to know. In any case, Alex wasn't telling.

"I won't, Alex. Just lean back a little, that's it," Walter coaxed. He squirted the shampoo into his palm and let it warm before beginning to work it into Alex's dark hair. Alex gradually relaxed again. Walter tilted his head back carefully and keeping the pressure low, used the spray attachment to rinse out the shampoo.

Walter resoaped the washcloth, handed it to Alex.

"Wash yourself up," he said, sure that Alex would prefer to wash below his waist himself. Instead, Alex squirmed seductively.

"You do me, Walter," he said, licking his lips seductively. Walter moaned involuntarily. How the hell was he supposed to resist this? Alex's green eyes were wide with arousal.

"Come on, Walter," he said, his voice husky. "I'm clean enough. Let's get dirty."

"Funny, Alex," Walter groaned again at the bad joke. "Let's get you dried off." He helped Alex stand, wrapped him in a large towel. Alex ground himself against Walter.

"Fuck me now," he begged. "Oh God, Walter, I missed you so bad."

I missed you, too, Walter thought, which is precisely why I am not going to let you seduce me tonight.

"We need to get some things straight first, Alex," he said firmly. Alex stiffened.

"What-what do you mean?" he asked, playing for time. Walter could feel him tensing. Soothingly, Walter rubbed his hand over Alex's damp back.

"Tonight we're just going to sleep, Alex," Walter said quietly. "Let me just put some antiseptic on those scrapes and maybe a Band-Aid or two." Alex sat silently on the closed toilet seat and let Walter minister to him.

"There, I think we got them all," Walter said presently. "Time for bed."

Alex was exhausted. He allowed Walter to spoon him close and immediately fell fast asleep. Walter lay awake a long time, trying to plan his strategy. He was not going to lose Alex again.

Walter awoke to find Alex snuggled alongside him, still deeply asleep. Walter slipped quietly into the kitchen, started coffee, and began to assemble breakfast.

The combined smell of fresh coffee and frying bacon lured Alex to the kitchen. He sprawled at the table, obviously hungry. Walter smiled as he placed a full plate of eggs, bacon and hash browns before him.

Alex ate eagerly. He could almost fool himself into believing that things between him and Walter were fine. Almost...

"I think I'll take a walk over to the bookstore," Alex said nonchalantly. Walter looked him over carefully. Cleaned up, fed, and with a sound night's sleep behind him, Alex looked himself again. It was time to make some things clear.

"Think again," he said in his most authoritative voice. "You're not going anywhere." Alex bit his lip nervously.

"Yes, sir," he whispered, reverting to old habits. Walter took Alex's chin in his hand, turned anxious green eyes to meet his caring brown ones.

"What you did was unfair, Alex. You can't just waltz out of here without a word and appear back here three days later and expect me to say it's OK. I was worried about you, Alex. I spent three days on the streets trying to track you down, afraid that I'd lost you forever. I think you deserve to be punished. I think you deserve to be spanked."

"No! Fuck you! No!" It was a scream of pure defiance. Walter's eyes held Alex's evenly.

"I think you do," he said implacably. "A spanking seems like a fair punishment. That will remind you to think the next time you panic and decide to cut out of here without talking to me first." Alex backed away.

"Fuck no," he said, the words softer and less definite. "Please, Walter, I'll just go, OK? You don't have to punish me." He shrugged into his jacket, turned toward the door. Walter stepped in front of him.

"No." He put his hands on Alex's shoulders. Alex flinched.

"Easy, Alex, take it easy. Don't panic. I promised you I wouldn't punish you if we didn't agree it was right, and I meant it." Alex hesitated, his breathing shallow, his green eyes wide.

"Don't go. One thing isn't dependent on the other. Don't run away from me again, Alex, you're safe here. Come on, Alex, take off your jacket so we can talk. It's all right." Walter hugged Alex to him, his warm voice and gentle hands soothing the skittish man, keeping him close.

"Are you going to hurt me?" Alex asked in a small voice. Walter sighed, his eyes sad.

"Hurt you, Alex? That's not what punishment is about. Oh, it may hurt for a little while, but I'll never do anything that will cause lasting damage or severe pain. You've been disciplined physically all your life and I'm afraid it's a little too late to expect you to respond to less vigorous sanctions. I will only punish you if you agree, Alex. I will only use my hand on you, but I will be sure you learn a lesson."

"What would you do to me?" Alex asked forlornly. Walter allowed himself a small glimmer of hope. It sounded as if Alex was very close to admitting that this was what he needed.

"I would take down your pants and boxers, turn you over my knee and spank you with my hand until I got it through your rump to your brain that you can't just take off when you feel like it. If we're going to have a relationship, there are going to be rules. And rule number one is, you don't run away. You don't just leave. I was worried about you, Alex. I was afraid you'd be hurt, that I'd never see you again nor even know what had happened to you. I love you, Alex. I want to take care of you. I think we could be really good together."

"I can take care of myself," Alex whispered. Walter all but snorted.

"Right. That's why your life is going so well, huh? Nice try, Alex. Tell me another one." Walter waited quietly.

"Why did you run away, Alex? Can you tell me?" Walter asked gently.

"I don't know," Alex said almost inaudibly. "You made me feel things--I just can't explain. I don't do relationships. There are too many things I don't understand. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. It's too hard, Walter. " He looked away. Walter ran his palm along Alex's tense jaw, gripped his chin gently between thumb and fingers. Coaxed Alex into meeting his gaze.

"I do know, Alex. I can teach you. But you have to trust me," Walter said quietly.

"I do trust you, Walter. I do want to learn. But Walter, why spank me? I don't get it," Alex said tentatively.

"Alex, I want you to come sit with me," Walter said gently. He extended his hand slowly towards Alex, not wanting to startle him. Alex took it and allowed Walter to draw him into the living room. Walter seated them on the couch.

"I don't want to spank you, Alex. I do want to keep you safe. You bolted in the middle of the night. How foolish was that? You didn't eat much, if at all, for three days. I saw how hungry you were last night and this morning. I doubt you slept much, either. I know you got hurt. I saw that when I patched you up last night." Alex rubbed the Band-Aid at his neck.

"He was drunk," Alex whispered. "He cornered me. He wanted a blow job. I almost didn't get away." He looked down. Walter cursed under his breath, immediately regretting his outburst when Alex cringed as if he had been struck.

"Alex, Alex, what did the Consortium teach you besides killing? Did they teach you about valuing yourself as a person? About staying safe? Alex, you need someone to take care of you, to look after you. I don't think you can make it alone. I want to help you. But some of the help you need involves discipline. Alex, if the only way to keep you safe is to spank you when you're tempted to do something dangerous, then I'll spank you. Not to hurt you, but to help you. I don't ever want something like this to happen to you again."

"Walter...you won't beat me?" Alex asked in a very small voice.

"Never, Alex. Spanking and beating are not the same thing. My hand, Alex, only ever my hand. And only on your bottom. And only if you agree you deserve it." Walter said gently.

"OK, then," Alex said softly. "I agree you have to punish me. But Walter? I really, really don't want to be spanked." He rubbed his cheek against Walter's shoulder. Walter ruffled the dark hair gently.

"I understand that, Alex. You're not supposed to want to be spanked. That's why it helps you change your behavior. But you do understand why I am going to punish you, Alex. Don't you?" Walter asked.

The green eyes that met his were clouded with anxiety. Walter was tempted to just take Alex in his arms and hold him until Alex felt safe. But he had held Alex before, and Alex had bolted into the night as soon as Walter had released him. Alex would have to learn to get past the fear. To turn to Walter, not run from him.

"I am not going to punish you for being afraid and panicky, Alex. I know this is new and very scary. I am punishing you for running away. I can't help you if you don't give me a chance. What if you had really gotten hurt? How would I have known where to find you? I was scared, Alex, really scared. I want to help you. I want you to stay with me. I want you to learn what it's like to be safe, to be cared for, to be loved. And if I have to spank you to teach you that, then I will," Walter said softly.

"I trust you, Walter," Alex whispered.

"Drop your pants, then. Underwear too," Walter said quietly. Alex froze, his eyes fixed on Walter.

"Alex, breathe," Walter said gently. "Do you need more time to think about this, Alex? There's no rush. I'm not going to throw you out if you're not ready for this kind of relationship. I want you to be absolutely sure this is what you want."

"I'm sure, Walter," Alex said firmly. "I know I need this. I'm just scared. You said I could be scared." Walter hugged him tightly.

"All right then, Alex. Get undressed, please." Alex didn't move.

"Do you need help? You can always ask me for help; I'll never punish you for that. Do you need me to undress you?" Alex nodded, his eyes downcast. Carefully Walter undid his belt, opened the button of his jeans and pulled down the zipper. Eased the black denim down to his ankles; nudged Alex to step out of it, one foot at a time.

"These too?" Walter asked, his hand hesitating at the waistband of Alex's boxers. Alex nodded again. Walter pushed the boxers down to his knees. With exquisite care he drew Alex facedown over his lap, making sure the arm with its prosthesis was arranged comfortably, that the real hand had something to cling to.

"I want you to talk to me," Walter said firmly to Alex. "I know it's hard, but it's very important. I want you to tell me what you think this spanking is for."

"I ran away," Alex said hoarsely. "You told me to stay and I didn't listen. I made you worry. I got hurt." Walter nodded approvingly, his hand rubbing gentle circles at the small of Alex's back.

"That's right, Alex, very good. You ran away, you didn't listen to me, you made me worry. You got hurt. This spanking is so you remember that you are never, never to run away again. There's not going to be a next time, Alex. You're going to tell me if you're afraid, not cut out on me. No more running away, Alex. If you won't stay put for yourself, stay put because I'll punish you if you don't."

He brought his hand down sharply across Alex's bottom, determined to make the punishment severe enough that it would deter Alex from trying this kind of stunt again. Alex quivered, but made no attempt to squirm away. Walter spanked him hard and methodically, not pausing between smacks. He bit his lip as Alex's bottom reddened under his hand. He took no pleasure in this; rather the opposite. He had to steel himself to continue as little gasps and whimpers squeezed their way through Alex's tightened lips. He could see how hard Alex was struggling to stay silent.

"Let it out, Alex, there's no punishment for crying, ever," he said reassuringly. "That's it, don't bite your tongue, let it out." Alex began to cry in earnest, his whole body shaking. Walter's hand stopped in mid air, came gently to rest on Alex's thigh.

"That's it, that's good Alex, let it out, you're safe here, it's OK, let it out," he crooned. Carefully he eased Alex's boxers back up, mindful of the sore skin beneath. He rotated Alex so that he was cuddled in his lap, his tender butt turned slightly to the side. For a long time he rocked Alex against his chest, not trying to stop his tears, only wanting Alex to know that he was safe, that Walter was there, that he wouldn't be hurt and that he wasn't alone.

"I know, Alex, I know. It was hard. You were very brave, you really were, it's not easy the first time. It's all over now. You're OK. It's OK, I promise."

It was a very long time before Alex quieted beneath Walter's lulling hand. As his breathing steadied, Walter rubbed the back of his neck gently, straightened the untidy strands of hair.

"I'm going to get you a washcloth and something to drink, Alex," Walter said quietly, easing Alex down on his stomach. Returning swiftly, Walter reseated himself and drew Alex back against him. Very gently, he used the dampened washcloth to clean the tears and snot from Alex's cheeks and chin. With careful fingers he smoothed Alex's eyebrows, stroked the sweaty hair back from his forehead.

"Drink a little ginger ale," he suggested, handing Alex the glass. Alex took a few sips, then put the glass down, his eyes fixed on Walter reproachfully.

"Was it that bad?" Walter asked sympathetically. Alex looked at him somberly, tears beginning to flow again. Walter rubbed his back tenderly.

"It hurt," Alex sobbed, "I was scared and it hurt! And I feel like a fucking asshole, letting you do this." He cried bitterly against Walter's shoulder as Walter murmured wordless comfort and reassurance, his own throat tightening with sympathy. Gradually Alex quieted.

"Listen to me, Alex," Walter said. "There's no reason to be embarrassed. For whatever it's worth, I think recognizing that you need this is one of the best, bravest, healthiest things you've ever done. I'm very proud of you." He hugged Alex tightly. Alex shuddered.

"Are you going to spank me again?" he asked Walter diffidently. Walter took a deep breath.

"What do you think, Alex?" he asked.

"It depends on me," Alex replied, his eyes fixed on Walter's.

Walter nodded.

"You got it. It depends on you. Follow the rules we agree on, come to me if there's a problem and for godsakes, don't ever, ever make me worry about you like that again," Walter said simply.

Alex snuggled into Walter's arms. Walter stroked his hair gently, ran his hand over the fine cheekbones, the small nose.

"It's been a rough morning," he said quietly. "Let's put you back to bed for a bit. And Alex, you are staying put this time, understood? I want you to promise."

"Promise, Walter," Alex nodded. Walter looked at him for a very long moment.

"Don't ever do that to me again, Alex," he finally said, his voice hoarse. Alex's eyes still reflected his surprise that Walter could possibly care that much.

"I love you, Alex," Walter said. "You don't need to be afraid anymore. I'm going to take care of you."

Alex shivered.

"Is that so scary?" Walter asked.

"Yes," Alex said very softly. He knew Walter wanted a real answer.

"Is there anything I can do to make it less frightening for you?" Walter asked, his tone indicating he wanted Alex to give it some thought.

"Could we--that is--could I--" Alex stammered, then with a gulp, "Please, Walter, fuck me. I know I can do that, I need that, please Walter, please, I'll do anything you want, just fuck me, OK?"

Walter hugged him tightly.

"Bed, Alex," he said. "I'm going to make you feel good, I promise." He shoved Alex gently to his feet and pointed him toward the bedroom. Walter undressed swiftly, and Alex followed his lead.

Once again, Alex turned his head away from Walter's attempted kisses.

"Please Walter, don't," he murmured. He didn't respond particularly happily to Walter's lips on his nipples, either.

All right, Walter thought to himself. Let's get to the main course, shall we. Meanwhile, he added kissing and foreplay to his rapidly growing list of Things Alex Needs to Learn. He pushed Alex flat and applied his mouth to his already hard cock. That Alex liked; his moans made it obvious.

Walter turned himself facedown on the bed, dragged a pillow under his hips and spread his legs.

"Go on, Alex, knock yourself out," he said teasingly.

Alex looked at him quizzically.

"You mean--" he said hesitantly.

Walter grinned.

"What part of 'yes' don't you understand, Alex? Lube and rubbers in the nightstand."

Using his teeth, Alex opened a condom package, smoothed it over his cock. He snapped the cap off the lube. With exquisite care, Alex applied a generous strip of lubricant to his fingers and began to work it into Walter. He touched the small opening gently, almost nervously, but quickly his confidence reasserted itself and he worked first one, then two fingers in through the ring of muscle, enjoying Walter's groans of pleasure. Patiently he stroked the tight walls, feeling them loosen as his fingers stimulated them. Barely skimmed Walter's prostate; grinned as Walter bucked against him.

"All right, OK, take me already," Walter begged.

Alex slicked his covered cock with lubricant.

"Come up a little," he coaxed Walter. "Like this." He shoved a second pillow under Walter's hips.

"That's it, open for me, oh Walter, you feel so good, yes, oh god, Walter!" He pressed his cock slowly, deeply into Walter's ass. Walter sighed with pleasure, his hand seeking his own cock. Driven by mutual need, neither man took long to finish. They lay side by side in a sweaty tangle of fully satisfied lust.

"Jesus, Walter, you're full of surprises," Alex said.

Walter hugged him. He touched his lips to Alex's hair, mindful of Alex's reluctance to be kissed on the mouth.

"I love you, Alex," Walter said.

Alex snuggled into the crook of his arm.

"I love you too, Walter. I'm all yours."


With sincere thanks to Lorelei, my beta. EM

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