By Laura
Pairing: Sk/K
Rating: Adult, no sex
Notes: Thank you Ursula for the fabulous beta. Inspired by the collage
I did for the Skinks Writing Bee
Written in celebration of Nick Lea's birthday 2006.

I wandered up the stairs and slipped into our bedroom. There was a nice
breeze outside so I opened the window; at least that was my excuse. I
didn't want to admit that it would be easier to hear Alex singing
quietly to himself down in the garden. I had used the excuse that it
would be warm soon and I needed to change. Alex gave me a wry smile and
waved me away. I know he really thought I was just using it as an
excuse to leave the gardening to him.

That wasn't true. I loved the garden. The array of colors changing with
the seasons, but what I loved most was Alex's reason for the garden. He
had said he wanted to watch things grow. I didn't understand at first
until I watched him nurture and carefully tend to each plant. We had
seen so much destruction and death, Alex more than me. We never talked
about it, but our memories still haunted us in the form of nightmares.

Alex took to gardening like a man obsessed and I recognized obsession,
I had one of my own. He studied book upon book, writing down the best
combinations for maximum splashes of color. He carefully chose
varieties that would compliment and bloom in a secret sequence so that
there were only a few months when there was not some beauty gracing our
yard. I told him once that all he had to do was stand there and the
garden was beautiful. He blushed and then stuttered trying hopeless to
brush off the compliment.

Alex doesn't see beauty when he looks in the mirror. He's sees scars,
lines and a truncated arm. Would that he could see himself from others
eyes. Even at forty-two, he still looked a decade younger. Even with
the scars, he was more beautiful than any man I had ever seen. But his
beauty wasn't just the outward appearance. The blackness that had
consumed his soul for years had gave way to a brilliant light that I
was drawn too. I had always seen that light through the darkness; he
just couldn't or wouldn't, understand how.

I could hear Alex's voice drifting up. His eclectic taste in music kept
me on my toes and had already introduced me to more genres than I
thought existed. But when he gardened, he tended to keep with the soft
melodies of haunting love songs. I could just make out the words
"I wanna sleep with you forever, And I wanna die in your arms. In a cabin
by a meadow where the wild bees swarm" I guess I made more of an
impression last night than I thought when I had sang that to him while
we were stretched out in the hammock watching the fireflies. He had
laughed and called it a sappy love song. His amazing ability to
remember the words the next morning told a different story.

I smiled down at him although he was unaware of his audience. He always
had been. It was my secret. I had watched him, admired him, wanted and
desired him for years. With that thought I walked over to the closet
and dug around until I found my hope chest. I had chosen that name
because of the treasures hidden safely inside. Alex respected me enough
not to ask or to snoop.

I sat down on the cushions of the bay window overlooking the garden.
Alex was still singing softly. I gently opened the old box and drew out
my treasures. It was only rare opportunities like this that I got to be
by myself and wallow in my obsession.

Since moving in with Alex, we were literally joined at the hip. I think
we were afraid the other would disappear or was just a figment of our
imagination. The need to feel each other near by had not lessened over
the years. It was still the same intensity as when I first showed up on
his doorstep two years ago.

I drew out the oldest picture, a faded crumpled Polaroid, the image
worn away over time and from the oils of my fingers caressing it. Alex
was so young, so impossibly young. Too young in my opinion to be
special ops, but then I was just eighteen when I was shipped off to
Vietnam. I had asked the director of the operation if it was a good
idea to send along someone so young with the team. He assured me that
the kid was good at what he did. I never knew his name and when word
came back that the mission had been successful but the casualties were
high, I had put the photograph I had stolen from the directors office
in this box, locked it and tried to forget the over large green eyes on
flawless skin. The bright smile that flashed a mouthful of even white
teeth. I tried to forget, but never did.

When Alex showed up with his 302's for the Grissom case, I thought I
had seen a ghost. I stumbled my way through directing him to where
Mulder was transcribing surveillance tapes and waited for the door to
close before collapsing in shock. He was alive. My beautiful boy that
had haunted my dreams didn't die in an elevator shaft like I was told.
He was alive.

Too soon I discovered his connection to Spender. It followed suit that
Spender would snatch up a skilled special ops soldier who was suppose
to be dead, to mold and use for his own agenda. I tried during the
short time Alex was partnered with Mulder to approach him, see if I
could help. But Spender had me on a short leash, not quite owned, but
definitely controlled.

When Mulder came to me with his accusations, I didn't want to believe.
When we found his apartment cleaned out, his existence wiped clean, I
put his photograph in the box with the Polaroid and mourned the loss of
a dream again.

He showed up again through the years. Each time a different variation
of the boy I had become obsessed with. I watched him grow and mature.
He thought he controlled me with the palm pilot. I let him believe
that, it was easier than him finding out the truth, that he had
possessed my every thought for years.

When he approached me with his plan to disappear I acted appropriately
thrilled to be the perpetrator of his demise. Inside it was tearing me
apart. If we succeeded, he would be gone forever as much as if he were
really dead. I struck the bargain on one condition. That after the dust
settled and the earth was free from alien invasion, I could see him
again. He was shocked and gave me a questioning look before putting on
his best smirk and absentmindedly saying that he knew I had always
wanted him. If he had only known the truth back then.

The war ended. I turned in my retirement papers, packed my bags and
headed off to Townsend, Tennessee fully expecting that the innocuous
address was a fake. Townsend was a surprise. The brochure I had read
said that Townsend was 'Nestled comfortably at the edge of the Great
Smokies Townsend is surrounded by trees, wildlife and boasts of the
best fly fishing in the South'. I thought Alex had chosen to send me to
Townsend as a joke. I immediately decided that, if Alex had lied and he
wasn't here, that this would become my home base as I continued to
search for him.

I drove down the quaint streets lined with Dogwood trees, the blossoms
filling the air with a sweet fragrance that now I equate with home. I
found the address he had written on the small post it note just outside
the city limits. After rechecking the address, I pulled over and
started to laugh. Alex had indeed pulled a fast one. The beautiful
white framed two story house with a huge wraparound porch, equipped
with a wooden porch swing, rocker and hanging plants and the property
surrounded by a picket fence that couldn't keep a horse confined was
not where the Alex Krycek I had obsessed with for years would settle
down too. No, my Alex would be safe in a fortress of solitude, all
black and chrome, with the latest in electronic surveillance and
surrounded by an impenetrable fence. I threw my head back and let the
laughter fill the air.

This was the home of my childhood. Warm and loving. Almost too perfect.
The excited bark of a border collie drew my attention back to the
house. I had watched the dog bound across the wide expanse of lawn to
skid to a stop at the fence. He barked for a while and then smiled the
silly grin dogs have, his tail wagging and his tongue lolling out from
between white teeth. A quick glance behind him alerted me we were not
alone. I mentally prepared myself on what to tell the owners as to why
I was there. Before the thought had fully formed, I spotted him.

Standing on the top step was my Alex. I hopped in the car and headed up
the driveway. Stopping a discreet distance I got out to take survey of
the man. He had not moved the whole time except to pat the dog on the
head after it had raced me to the house.

The leather armor was gone. Instead, I saw an Alex with a healthy tan.
His fuller body still filled out a pair of jeans that molded to thick
thighs and outlined a nice package. The roundness around his middle
spoke of someone that was eating regularly and not running for their
life, always looking over their shoulder. His hair was a little longer,
a little greyer but he still looked as beautiful as he did in the first
time I saw him. We stood drinking each other in. I'm vain enough to
know, that while not conventionally handsome, the whole package was
impressive and I recognized the hunger I saw in his eyes. That actually
surprised me since I had never seen it in his eyes before or perhaps in
my obsession I missed it.

He didn't say a word. He just turned around and walked inside through
the screen door. I paused a moment to examine the door. Wood. Just like
at my grandparent's farm. They never replaced theirs with an aluminum
frame either. The dog wiggled by me and chased after Alex, not that he
was that far ahead of us, but the dog seemed to take great enjoyment
out of life. I envied that.

It was two years ago that I stepped through that old screen door.
Although I have entered and left through that door many times over
since then, I have yet to leave our home. I'm still as obsessed as I
was from that first moment, maybe even more so. For once the fantasy
couldn't hold a candle to reality and a fantasy can never keep you warm
at night.

I caressed the last picture from the box. I had new ones now that
adorned frames and photo albums around the house, the only pictures in
the hope chest were the ones from before. The last one

"Walter?" Alex stood in the doorway, hesitant but with a hint of
mischievousness that usually meant trouble. I quickly closed the lid on
the box but didn't get the latch before it slipped off my lap and fell
to the floor, scattering the photographs.

Alex walked over and picked up the Polaroid. He looked at me and I
could see the mischief had been replaced by melancholy. "Where?" Alex
stared at the image, his lips slightly parted in astonishment. "Walter,
this is me from back when I was still in special ops. How did you get

"Alex let me explain." Alex ignored me as he flopped down on the bed.

"God, I was so young. I just knew nothing could stop me."


"It's okay, Walter, you don't have to explain where you got it
maybe why do you have it?"

In a bold move, I plucked the photo from his hand and tossed it away
with the others. I quickly pinned his arm to the bed over his head. I
kissed Alex's lips, my never ending obsession expressed in my kiss, the
only explanation he would ever need.