Summary: Alex loves Mulder for his mind. Slash, m/m, motss content.
Spoilers (some more so than others): Ascension, End Game, Terma, Small Potatoes, Gethsemane, The Red and the Black, Dreamland I & II, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas.
Disclaimer: Recognizable or not, they ain't mine.

Babe, you know I tried,
but the picture on the cover
doesn't match the one inside.
-- Kate Wolf

Bait & Switch
by Sitnah
 

August 1994

Alex Krycek let the speeding car carry him forward to the place where his work awaited him. When they arrived he would have to be careful, pay attention -- it was a delicate job. For the moment, however, he had nothing to do, so he gave in to the indulgence of studying the man hunched over the steering wheel. Spiky hair, broad forehead, full lips, and complete obliviousness to Krycek's presence. I will know that face again, Krycek promised the Mulder in the back of his own head, the one who listened to everything Krycek didn't say. I would know you anywhere.

***

January 1995

Krycek slipped around the side of the motel to the back, peering ahead as he rounded the corner of the building. The way looked clear, so he moved forward, only to find himself face to face with a dim figure that shifted out of the shadows behind a dumpster to block his path. A hand grabbed Krycek by the elbow, another came up to cover his mouth, and then he recognized the tense shoulders and bumpy profile outlined against the distant glow of the streetlight. "Mulder," he said against the fingers on his lips.

"Quiet," Mulder said.

Krycek couldn't quite make out Mulder's eyes in the dark, but as far as he could tell they didn't seem to be turned on him. Nor, as of yet, were Mulder's fists. "Let me go," Krycek said very softly, the tip of his tongue flicking against Mulder's palm on the l.

That did draw Mulder's attention. He pulled the hand that was covering Krycek's face to the side, thumb dragging across Krycek's chin. "Alex," he said.

Although Mulder's tone did not rise, Krycek understood the name to be a question. "Yes."

Krycek had meant the response simply as reassurance, but when he saw Mulder's mouth moving towards him, he realized that Mulder had taken it for consent. A few moments later Krycek decided not to correct the error. Kissing Mulder was something he hadn't managed to cross off his Things to do before leaving the FBI list before running out of time, but better late than never. Mulder was all demand against Krycek's lips, a flurry of pressure that would have bruised if it hadn't been repeatedly broken off and reapplied in such rapid succession. As it was, Krycek grew frustrated after a few tries at responding and turned his face to the side in search of a more stable target. He licked his way down the side of Mulder's neck and leaned a little forward to find the juncture of throat and shoulder where the bone was most conveniently padded beneath muscle. Once there, Krycek blew a breath out over the heated skin and then sank his teeth in, hard enough to draw --

-- a warning tingle that made him unclench his jaw only just in time before breaking the skin. He wrenched himself out of the hard grip that tried to hold him and stumbled backwards, barely catching himself from falling. "You -- you're not -- you're -- "

The man facing him took a step forward and then paused, tilting his head to the side. "It's enough," he said in Mulder's monotone. "If I can fool you, I can fool her." He turned and strode away far too quickly for Krycek to follow, even if Krycek had wanted to. Luckily, Krycek's new top priority was moving as fast as possible in the opposite direction.

***

April 1997

Krycek stood in front of Mulder's door and wished he had the strength not to be there. To fly straight back to Russia without pausing to find out if and how Mulder had recovered from the black cancer experiments. But it was no use. Krycek couldn't leave the continent without knowing. He lifted his hand and knocked.

The door flew open almost immediately, as if Mulder had been standing just inside. His eyes were expectant on Krycek's, yet strangely void of bitterness, guilt, anger, or even surprise. Krycek was momentarily nonplussed -- when had Mulder learned control? -- but he had no intention of letting his own surprise show. "Mulder, buddy old pal," he drawled out. "Aren't you going to ask me in?"

"Sure -- sure, come on in," Mulder replied, losing a little of the smoothness, but still calm. "Make yourself at home." That had more of the usual edge to it, and Krycek relaxed a little. Mulder wandered away towards the kitchen. "You want a beer or somethin'?"

Krycek shrugged out of his jacket and sat down, beginning to wonder whether Mulder had already started on the beer. "No, thanks."

Mulder came back towards the couch then and dropped heavily into the cushions. "Boy, it's been a long -- how long's it been?"

Krycek raised his eyebrows. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Oh, right, right, sorry," Mulder said hastily. His gaze dropped to somewhere near his shoes, and he fell silent.

Krycek had a quite a few mental scripts prepared for this conversation, but when he saw Mulder's hesitancy, the confusion that bespoke a preoccupation with something larger than their usual sparring, all Krycek's opening lines fell away from his mind like sepals from a bud. "Mulder," he said. "What are you thinking about right now?"

Mulder caught his breath and lifted his head to meet Krycek's gaze, eyes glistening with desire. "My partner," he admitted.

It was irresistible. Krycek surged forward and pulled Mulder to him, intent on making that lazy mouth burn. Mulder went limp, entirely pliable in Krycek's grip. Krycek sucked the acquiescence in like wine.

When Krycek finally let Mulder go, Mulder looked shell-shocked. "What...?" he finally managed. He swallowed and tried again. "What the hell did you -- "

"Alex," Krycek put in. "Call me Alex again."

"Alex," Mulder said wonderingly. "That's so good." He hesitated for what seemed to Krycek a very long moment and then, making up his mind, dove back in at last for another kiss.

This time Krycek rerouted enough of his own attention away from Mulder's lips to slip a hand under the hem of Mulder's T-shirt. Rewarded by a long shiver, he pulled back a little to draw the cloth up and over Mulder's head. "Mulder," he murmured, "we did work well together, you know we did..." He put both hands, the light one and the heavy one, on Mulder's back and ran them up and down Mulder's spine. Meeting with more resistance than he expected in muscles that hadn't seemed very tense, Krycek began to dig his fingers in deeper.

"Alex -- " Mulder whispered, rolling his shoulders in an attempt to dislodge Krycek's hands. "Alex, don't --"

"Shh, let me," Krycek answered. He could already feel the muscles responding to his massage, loosening out of their knots.

"Alex, no!" Mulder said more peremptorily. But it was too late. A wave shook him under Krycek's fingers and suddenly a completely different man was sitting in Krycek's arms. A round face, a rolling belly, and an extremely sheepish grin. "Listen, I can explain --"

"Like hell," Krycek said, unwrapping himself from the stranger and jumping to his feet. Was this man a plant sent to test him? Or had he merely stumbled into a trap meant for another? In either case, it was madness to stay a moment longer. He snatched up his jacket and made for the door, heedless of the cries that followed him.

A few months later, when news trickled in of a dead body in Mulder's apartment, Krycek was not unduly concerned.

***

November 1998

Fueled by memories of Mulder's unresisting face under his lips, Krycek had been prepared to watch the FBI parking garage late into the night, if need be. To his surprise, however, Mulder pulled out at five to six. Mulder took a somewhat indirect route home, so Krycek resigned himself to having been noticed, though the directional shifts were by no means enough to shake him from Mulder's trail. Krycek parked a few blocks away and approached Mulder's building on foot.

Mulder lingered on the first step, apparently searching for his keys, but as soon as Krycek was close enough, Mulder snaked out a long arm and caught him by the shoulder. "What the hell are you doing following me? What do you want?" he demanded in a low voice.

"Same as last time," Krycek shot back.

Uncertainty swept over Mulder's face. "Last time -- " His eyes darted up and down the block, taking stock of the cars passing by and the handful of pedestrians. Then his mouth tightened into decision. "We'd better move this party upstairs."

Krycek's heart gave a leap, and he let Mulder shepherd him into the building and onto the elevator. He thought about reaching for Mulder's cheek during the ride up, but decided to wait until he could finish what he started.

As soon as they were inside Mulder's apartment, however, Krycek turned and slammed Mulder up against the door. He pulled Mulder's head forward with a hand on the back of Mulder's neck and bit viciously at that trembling mouth.

In the next moment, Mulder shook off Krycek's arms and shoved as hard as he could, sending a surprised Krycek staggering backwards. As Krycek fought for balance, Mulder screwed his mouth into a white-lipped twist and spat on the floor. "He's a fucking faggot!" Mulder exclaimed.

"The FBI's best profiler realizes this now?" Krycek said, moving forward again.

But Mulder's train of thought had already left the station without Krycek's comment on board. "No wonder she looked so surprised. -- Stay away from me, you sick queer!"

"You're so cute when you're mad, Fox." Struck by Mulder's stiff stance, Krycek decided to check the other rooms to see whether they had company.

"Out! Get out!" Mulder yelled.

"Keep your pants on," Krycek responded absently. He glanced into the kitchen, the bathroom, and then the --

-- bedroom?

"Who the hell are you?" Krycek snarled.

"Not your boyfriend," the man following him sneered.

"I'll say! Who sent you? Who are your superiors?"

"You think I'm going to tell you that?"

"Never mind -- I'll see them in hell!" Shaken enough not to care about making himself conspicuous, Krycek stormed out the door.

***

December 1998 - Christmas eve

On a dark country road in Maryland, Krycek blessed the impulse that had moved him to tap that FBI line, bringing him a real tip at last.

"Spooky's going to stake out a haunted house tonight" -- that was Mulder, all right. Krycek pressed his foot down harder on the gas. He'd wound up leaving later than he intended to. Then again, Mulder probably wouldn't call it quits until forced to by the cold light of dawn.

When Krycek got to the house, it looked utterly deserted. Then he caught a glimpse of light in a side window. He walked slowly up to the front door, which swung open easily at his touch. "Mulder?" he called, shading his eyes from the glow of the lamps in the wall sconces. "Mulder, are you there?"

Three heartbeats later a dark figure appeared at the top of the stairs. "Who's there?"

"It's me. Krycek."

"Krycek? What do you want?"

The utter calm in Mulder's voice made Krycek nervous. "I -- I guess -- I thought you might be lonely."

"Lonely?" Mulder came down a few steps. "So you're the one. I should have known."

"Known what?"

"Come here."

Krycek moved up the staircase to meet Mulder. "Have you seen anything yet, Mulder?"

Mulder laughed quietly. "I've seen plenty."

"Worth spending Christmas eve out here alone?"

"Krycek... " The smile that spread itself over Mulder's face sent a faint chill down Krycek's back. "What if I told you this is the last Christmas you'll have to spend alone?"

"What do you mean?"

Mulder wrapped his arms around Krycek's waist.

The embrace seemed so comfortable, so right, that Krycek instinctively put his own arm around Mulder as well. He felt Mulder's hands slipping under his jacket, moving across the small of his back, resting on the gun tucked into his waistband -- and Krycek would have begun worrying about that if he hadn't been suddenly distracted by the strange dip under his own fingers. He pressed down harder and still met no resistance, startling him enough to make him back out of Mulder's grasp. With short scrabbling strokes, Krycek thrust the panels of Mulder's jacket aside and lifted the shirt to reveal a --

-- bullet hole --

-- and the long white folds of Mulder's jacket swirled around Krycek as he lurched backwards, losing his footing, catching a glimpse of a thinner face, longer hair, narrower arms than had been there a moment ago. Krycek barely knew how he managed to stumble down the stairs without breaking his neck, pursued by a high-pitched chuckle. The only thought in his mind was the need to get out of that house as fast as he could. Upon completion, this was immediately replaced by the determination to find the real Mulder at last. His Mulder.

***

December 1998 - Christmas morning

It was after midnight when Krycek reached Hegal Place. The force that propelled him forwards stayed with him until he stood once more in the hallway outside Mulder's door. Then hesitation suddenly gripped him. Someone was certainly there -- Krycek could hear the slightly damped sounds of the television. He gritted his teeth and knocked.

The television went off and footsteps came towards the door. Krycek caught himself holding his breath and let it out, annoyed.

The eyes of the man who opened the door came alive with emotion when he saw Krycek standing there, but that could have meant anything. "Krycek," the dull voice hissed. That was better, but Krycek still needed more.

"You know who I am?" he prodded.

"Do I know who you are?" Mulder repeated incredulously. "You're a scumsucking murdering lying coward of a carcinogen-worshipping traitor, that's who you are, you double-crossing..."

It was enough. Krycek smiled happily and stopped listening. "It's you," he said. "It's really you. And you're all right."

"No thanks to you," Mulder said suspiciously. "What's going on, Krycek? I don't want to play your little games tonight."

"That's all right," Krycek told him. "It doesn't matter. That's all I wanted to know." He turned away and began moving towards the stairwell.

"Wait!" Mulder called after him. "You rat bastard, what the hell -- "

Krycek grinned to himself and kept walking. "Merry Christmas, tovarisch," he called back over his shoulder, just before he heard the door slam.