24/7  22. The Collaring



When had this become his home, so completely, and categorically? When had he stopped thinking of Hegal Place as his home? When had he finally let go of the sterility and emptiness of his own apartment, and started thinking of this place as where he belonged? This place, with its familiar smells, and sounds, and occupants; this place, containing this man, and this cat had become his home by stealth, creeping through the defenses he had constructed so carefully around his heart.  These two beings, by dint of seduction, determination, and sheer persistence had come to symbolize everything he had never had in his life, and had tried so hard to convince himself he had never wanted.>




“Fox?” His Master was looking at him, a quizzical expression in his dark eyes.


“We’re home,” Mulder said simply.


“Yeah. We are.” Skinner put the cat basket on the table, and opened it, and Wanda hopped out happily, her eyes bright. She jumped off the table and scampered around happily, ran crazily up and down the stairs, and then chased her own tail for a few minutes before pretending that she had done nothing so undignified and kittenish by stalking off to the kitchen for a snack, tail held loftily in the air.


“She’s pleased to be home too,” Mulder murmured, still standing, unmoving, in the center of the room.


“Yeah. You know, it’s good to go away, but it’s always damn good to come home again, isn’t it?” Skinner grinned.


“Yes, Master. It’s the best feeling in the whole world.” Mulder grinned a goofy grin, and then, like Wanda, felt a need to touch base with his home. He ran up the stairs two at a time, opened the door to every room, glanced inside, and then ran along to the next room. He opened the door between the two apartments and ran up to the 18th floor, checked the lounge, then paused outside his own small room, and gazed in nostalgically. A shocked thought occurred to him, and he hurried over to his fish and checked the tank.


“It’s okay – I gave Mrs. Asher a key. She fed your fish while we were away,” a voice behind him said. Skinner came into the room and placed a hand on his slave’s shoulder.


“Thanks. I can’t believe I forgot. I’m usually pretty careful about them,” Mulder frowned.


“You had a lot to think about. You still do,” Skinner said, in a slightly weary tone. Mulder glanced around.


“Master?” He watched as Skinner closed the door, sat on the bed, and then clicked his fingers for his slave to kneel beside him. Mulder did as commanded without hesitation.


“We talked about you sharing my bed. It’s a big step, Fox, and I need to make sure that you’re ready for it.”


“Ready for it?” Mulder snorted. “Master, with all due respect, sleeping in your bed has pretty much been my main fantasy and ultimate goal ever since you first took me as your slave.”


“A fantasy, yes. Reality is something different. While you were sleeping here, alone, you weren’t freaked by your loss of independence. You could even convince yourself that you weren’t in a relationship, and that you could leave any time you wanted. We both know that you want to run whenever the walls look like they’re closing in. I will not, and I repeat, nottolerate another Seattle,” Skinner said, in a tone that was so serious his slave looked up in surprise.


“There won’t be another Seattle, Master,” he replied softly. He placed a hand on his Master’s knee to emphasize the point, looking into the other man’s eyes to try and convey his sincerity. “Shit, I’ve learned such a lot from you over the past 7 months. I’m not going back.” He glanced around the small room that had been his for all these months. “I thought you didn’t want me sleeping in your bed,” he murmured. “I thought I was too much to have around the whole time – that you needed a break from me – but it wasn’t that at all, was it? Not even at the very beginning?”


“No. Ours was an unusual situation, Fox. You threw yourself into that contract knowing nothing about your new master. Even when you found out it was me you didn’t know anything about me – not really. Oh, you knew your boss – you knew me in a working environment, but this was a very different situation. I needed to give both of us some time to get used to the arrangement, but I also knew that you needed some space to sort out what was going on inside. Crowding you out would have turned that non-stop, whirring mind of yours into a pressure cooker and you’d have imploded. As it was, maybe I didn’t stick close enough, and give you enough guidance. Maybe that’s why this happened.” Skinner ran his finger over Mulder’s tee shirt, tracing the outline of the scar beneath it.


“Maybe it needed to happen,” Mulder replied. “For me to be able to move on.”


“Maybe.” Skinner shrugged. “But for me, it’s testament to my failure as a Master.”


“What?” Mulder gazed at the other man open-mouthed. “Christ, Walter, that’s absurd. I was the one who held the gun to your head and knocked you out cold, and I was the one who ran off to that warehouse.


“You were quietly freaking out and I was too busy at work to notice. I took you on – I don’t have any excuse not to see when you’re in crisis.” Skinner shrugged. “Fox, being your Master carries a great weight of responsibility. I do things to you that could be considered abusive, and I’ve modified your behavior. I can only justify that if it’s what we both want, and if it’s what you need to make you happy. If that isn’t the case then our contracts are meaningless.”


“I am happy.” Mulder blinked back his tears angrily. He had never found it easy to talk about his emotions without deflecting the subject, or making smart-ass comments. “Walter, I’ve never been happier. I admit that it was hard at first. It still is sometimes, but it was harder being alone, and it was a damn sight harder being so…” he clenched his fists. “So fucking mixed up – defensive, hostile, and paranoid. I feel kind of free inside in a way I can’t explain. I don’t wake up thinking “fuck” every morning like I used to, and I think I might even care whether I live or die. At least I have something to live for now.” He gazed at the other man desperately, needing to convince him. He knew that Skinner carried a burden of unspoken thoughts and emotions, but he hadn’t realized the depths of the other man’s self-reproach – hadn’t even vaguely considered it. He was the one who had screwed up, not his Master.


“All right. That’s a good basis for where we go next then.” Skinner smiled, and Mulder suddenly felt able to breathe again. “You can move what you need into my room – but remember I’ll terminate this arrangement, either temporarily or permanently, if I see fit. It isn’t a right. It’s a privilege.”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder nodded eagerly, and began to get up. Skinner frowned, and clicked his fingers again.


“I told you before but I want you to be very clear on this – getting your collar back will take some hard work on your part. I need to be convinced before I’ll let you have the same amount of freedom you had before Seattle.”


“I know that.” Mulder nodded. “I won’t let you down.”


“Good.” Skinner nodded. “Don’t get me wrong, that vacation we just took was nice – very nice – and I think we had more than one breakthrough while we were there, but the hard part is everyday life. This is where you’re under the most strain, and this is where you’ve struggled before.”


“I know. I feel differently now though.” Mulder didn’t know how to convey just how differently he felt now. He was changed in a deep and profound way, and he would never go back to how he had been before. When he thought of himself fighting his Master at every turn, trying to play him as if in a game, deceiving him without hesitation, digging around in the other man’s past without a second thought…it made him deeply ashamed. He had changed. Apart from anything else he was more in love than he had ever believed possible before – and the truly astonishing thing was that he wasn’t afraid to say it.


“Very well.” Skinner nodded, thoughtfully, and then exhaled a deep breath. “Let me tell you how it’s going to be then, slave. First off – you can abandon your morning fitness regime. The wake-up call stays though.” He gave an ever so slightly salacious smile that made Mulder chuckle.


“I’m pleased to hear it, Master,” he grinned.


“Instead of a morning swim you’ll work out with me in the evening. You can use it as an opportunity to keep me informed about what’s going on in that labyrinthine mind of yours.”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder nodded. That didn’t sound too onerous.


“Secondly, you’re still under restriction. Don’t take anything for granted. If you’re unsure – ask.” Mulder nodded. He had expected that.


“Thirdly – I’m aware that you haven’t had a chance to have a proper talk to Agent Scully since the events at Seattle overtook us all. Redress that, slave – immediately – upon your return to work. Agent Scully is a damn fine agent and she’s been a good friend to you. I know you’ve spoken to her a few times on the phone, but I’m sure she has a lot of questions she’d like answered in person. I know you’re a private kind of man, and I know that won’t be easy for you, but I think she deserves as honest and complete an explanation as you can give her. Understood?”


Mulder took a deep breath, wondering if Skinner had any idea how hard it was facing down his partner’s icy blue gaze. He nodded anyway. It wasn’t a choice; it was an order. And, as Skinner had so rightly pointed out, he had given up any rights he might have had to argue over such an order. His Master was right anyway – Mulder had missed Scully over the past few weeks, and he was looking forward to seeing her again, and working with her, side by side. He had dropped his bombshell about his relationship with Skinner and then just left her hanging. She deserved more than that.


“Good. Then I think it’s time for you to do the unpacking, and sort out what to send to the laundry. Let’s get moving, slave.” He stood up.


“Um…there’s something else.” Mulder took a deep breath and fought a battle with himself about what he wanted to say next.


“Honesty, slave,” Skinner reminded him.


Mulder swallowed hard. “About Seattle. You didn’t punish me for my actions there, Master,” he whispered. Skinner was silent. He stood, towering over his kneeling slave, gazing at him impassively. Finally, just when Mulder’s nerve had almost deserted him, his Master spoke.


“I took away your rings and privileges, slave,” he pointed out.


“I know, but I was too ill for you to punish me the way a Master should punish his slave.” Mulder took all his courage in his hands, and looked up. His breath caught in his throat. Skinner was gazing at him with the most solemn expression in his dark eyes.


“Closure,” Skinner murmured, reaching down to tousle his slave’s hair. “You need that to believe we can move on, and to know that you’re forgiven. Yes?”


Mulder bit down on his lip. “I don’t want to be punished, but we both know I deserve it. I love the discipline my Master is so often pleased to hand out, but we both know this wouldn’t be like that. We both know that would be a pleasure, and this should be…” Mulder bit on his lip again.


“A punishment.” Skinner finished for him. He raised Mulder’s chin with his finger. “I told you that I’d discipline you on your Collaring Day – in front of witnesses, slave. You know I always keep my promises.”


“Yes, I do know, and I’ll accept any discipline my Master chooses to bestow.” Mulder moved his face and kissed his Master’s shoes.


“I think you’ll find your closure there,” Skinner murmured softly. “Let me explain it to you, slave. The witnesses to your punishment will be those of our scene friends we choose to celebrate the day with – and those who have suffered, either directly or indirectly, as a result of your actions in Seattle.” He paused, and Mulder winced at that comment. “I will leave it up to you to draw up the guest list of those you feel were affected by your actions,” Skinner said. “I will allow our guests to choose an implement each – and the number of strokes you will receive with it, commensurate with the inconvenience and worry that each of our friends experienced.” Mulder swallowed hard. This was all a lot more interactive than he’d expected, and he felt a red hot glow of humiliation at the thought of it. “I will also take my turn choosing an implement and deciding on a number of strokes,” Skinner finished.


Mulder nodded – he had expected no less. “You suffered the most as a result of my stupidity,” he said numbly. “I betrayed your trust, I lied to you, and I knocked you out. I almost lost you your career. Assuming you choose to grant me my collar again, I will expect the punishment I receive from you to be…” He raised his head to meet his Master’s eyes, took some comfort from the uncompromising expression in them, and then continued, without faltering. “I expect it to be severe, Master. I’m not looking for leniency. I’m fit. I can take whatever you want to hand out.”


“Good.” Skinner nodded. “I’ll bear that in mind. However you’re wrong. I didn’t suffer most as a result of your actions in Seattle. There is one person who suffered more. He will choose an implement and a number of strokes as well.”


“Who?” Mulder frowned. “Perry?” The genial doctor had been dragged into Mulder’s dramas, but Mulder couldn’t see there was any way that Perry had suffered more than his own Master.


“No. You,” Skinner said softly. “Give the matter some thought, slave. I’ll expect you to choose an implement and a number of strokes proportionate to the suffering you underwent.”


“Master?” Mulder felt a cold hand grasp his heart. He wasn’t sure he could bear to be in charge of his own punishment in this way, and that, he supposed, was the point.


“It’s not a choice, slave – it’s an order. I will give our guests the opportunity to order your punishment, and then you will take your turn. I will go last.”


“Will you…?” Mulder had a sudden thought that made him tremble.


“Slave.” Skinner stroked his slave’s shoulder reassuringly.


“Will you let our guests actually administer the punishment, Master?” He asked. The hand on his shoulder squeezed so hard that it shocked him into glancing up. Skinner looked…pissed off.


“Nobody except me will ever, ever lay a finger on you. Understood?” Skinner asked gruffly, as if the very idea offended him. “Nobody will punish you, and nobody will hurt you. Nobody will touch you either – nobody will kiss you, and sure as hell nobody but me will ever make love to you. Is that clear, slave?”


Mulder rocked back on his heels, surprised by the vehemence of this reaction.


“Sorry, sweetheart.” Skinner stroked his slave’s hair, his expression softening. “But that question took me by surprise. You know, Fox, I don’t think you really have any idea how it feels being your Master – or why I was so attracted to the job in the first place.” He gave a wolfish grin and Mulder stared at the other man, fascinated. “I’m a little possessive. I’ll admit that.” Skinner’s jaw gave a familiar, sideways clench. “I signed that contract because I enjoy having control over your body, slave. I like making you scream, and squirm, and I like making you come. I also like having the power to deny you that pleasure as well.” The corner of his mouth turned up in a slight quirk. “You’re mine, boy. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you that before you finally understand exactly what I mean. You’re available for my exclusive use. Your body is mine to cherish, to love, to hurt – in short to do what the hell I like with.” Mulder closed his eyes, feeling his cock hardening in his pants. His Master’s words were as much of a turn on as the most intimate and arousing caresses. “That’s why Seattle was such a profound breach of trust,” Skinner said, ruining the mood abruptly. “I could understand the curiosity that led you to investigate my past a few months back. I could even understand the numerous little lies and deceptions, and the problems that you’ve had with honesty since I took you on. Adjusting to slavery isn’t easy after all; I understand just how hard it can be, and I’ve made allowances for that. However, what happened between us in Seattle struck at the core of what we are. You disobeyed me, yes, but more than that, you raised your hand against me in violence. I have never done that to you, and I never will. Ever. You have my promise on that. Whatever punishments I bestow on you, or however I choose to take you to a sexual high, my methods will always be considered, and always have your safety and well-being in mind. I will never, ever harm you, and you need never live in fear of that.”


Mulder felt as if he had been punched in the gut. He had never realized, until this moment, just how close he had come to losing this man he had come to love so much.


“Forgive me,” he whispered in a choked tone. “I didn’t understand. I don’t think I ever really understood the way you were feeling, Master. I was too caught up in my own problems. Master, you often talk of how I must be honest about how I feel, but there’s so much I don’t know about how you feel…I would like the same honesty of you that you rightly demand of me,” he said, surprising himself.


“Can you handle that?” Skinner asked. Mulder nodded. Even if it was bad, he could take it. He just had. Skinner smiled, and Mulder thought it looked as if the other man had been relieved of a burden. His shoulders looked looser, and his face younger, his eyes less shadowed. “All right, let me tell you one thing – it might explain the way I just reacted to your question about discipline,” Skinner said softly. “When I was out searching for you in Seattle, I was sick with anxiety. I was worried about your safety, and your well-being, but I was also furious – with you for leaving, and with Krycek for having you in his power. I didn’t know what he was doing to you, and I’m grateful, in a way, that his interest didn’t extend to more than what he did, bad though that was. Knowing my slave was in trouble and not being able to find him, or help him, ate away at me. The thought of another man – that man in particular – laying his filthy paws on my slave still upsets me.”


Mulder gazed at his Master, silently processing this information. Skinner was so cool, and kept his emotions under such perfect control, that he had never fully appreciated the depths of the other man’s feelings. He knew Skinner loved him, but he had never understood the complex nature of that love before. He had never felt drawn to the role of top, had never even thought about what those who were drawn to it got out of it, but now he felt a curiosity on the subject.


“Walter, when I ran off to see Krycek I don’t think I ever appreciated how fundamentally that act was a betrayal of what we have. I didn’t even consider it. You’re sick of hearing my apologies, and they don’t change anything, but I’m coming to understand both myself, and you, and the depth of the Master/slave bond between us, a lot better. I’ve often wondered about the appeal of being the one in charge,” Mulder said hesitantly. “The one in control. I’ve always been so controlling of my own emotions – I used to take them home with me and stew with them until I had them beaten into some kind of submission, even if it meant cruising around the scene for a top to take me to a level where I could transcend them. I liked hearing what the appeal is for you in ownership.”


Skinner stood up, a wry smile tugging at his lips. Somehow Mulder had the feeling that they had just experienced another profound breakthrough.


“We’ll have to see if I can educate you a little in the joys of topping then,” Skinner commented. “God help me in thatendeavor. In the meantime, you’re overdressed, boy.”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder removed his jeans and tee shirt with considerable speed, and then knelt, naked, at his Master’s feet.


“First the laundry – make sure we both have clean suits for work tomorrow. Remember I always expect to see you looking your best. While you’re doing that I’ll make some room for your clothing in the closet in my room. You can keep some basics in there but the rest can remain in here. You can come and get what you need, when you need it. As for the fish…I think they should move into the lounge where we can both enjoy them.”


“Wanda will so be in heaven,” Mulder murmured. Skinner grinned.


“Cat TV was how I think you described it once. Yup, she’ll have many a happy day spent watching them, but the tank’s secure, so they’re quite safe. One more thing, slave.” Skinner caught Mulder as he passed, and, placing one leg on the desk in the small room, swung Mulder over his thigh and delivered several hard, stinging swats to his backside.


“Ow! Shit! What the hell was that for?” Mulder asked, as he was placed back on his feet. Skinner grinned, and leaned forward to claim a kiss from his slave’s outraged lips.


“Because I felt like it, and because that ass of yours looks best when it’s glowing a healthy red. Now get a move on. Daylight’s burning, slave.”


Mulder went about his tasks with all the serenity of a well-spanked slaveboy who was sure of his place in his Master’s affections. He was more eager to go to bed than he’d ever been in his life, and was tingling with anticipation at the thought of going back to work the next day. He had missed his work. He had been driven by it and defined by it for so long that it had been hard discovering that there were other sides of his personality that he had repressed for too long. Now, he just hoped that he could combine the two more successfully than he’d done in the past. He also hoped he could sleep with all this churning around in his mind. The last thing he wanted was to be kicked out of his Master’s bed for fidgeting.


Mulder slid into the bed, waiting for his Master to emerge from the en suite bathroom, laughing at himself for feeling just like a virgin bride on her wedding night, awaiting her husband. Skinner emerged, naked, gazed at his slave, and raised an eyebrow.>


“You’re in the wrong place, slave,” he commented.




“You will kneel by the bed every night and ask for the honor of sharing your Master’s bed. That way you should keep in mind that this privilege might not always be granted,” Skinner said. Mulder scrambled out quickly, berating himself for not having thought of that. It seemed pretty obvious now that Skinner had said it. He knelt beside the bed in the submissive position and then watched as the other man got into the bed, and crooned for Wanda. The little cat jumped up a few seconds later and positioned herself beside the big man.


“Now, slave. What do you have to ask?” Skinner glanced at Mulder dismissively.


“Please can I share your bed tonight, Master?”


There was silence, as Skinner mused on the issue. Mulder looked at his Master through narrowed eyes. He was being played with…but on the other hand, it was pretty hot. His cock certainly thought so. The whole bed-time ritual could get to be quite a turn on. Finally, Skinner came to a decision.


“Yes,” he said, and Mulder began to scramble into the bed. “But not there,” Skinner added.


“What?” Mulder asked, aghast.


“I never said you could sleep beside me. On this first occasion you can sleep down the bottom of the bed. My feet are cold so I’ll warm them up on your body.”


“Master is…too kind,” Mulder said with calculated insolence.


“And Master can find ways of warming up smart-ass slaves too,” Skinner responded with a pleasant smile. “Your punishment case is in the closet. Would you like me to order you to bring it over?”


Mulder thought about it for a moment, and then sighed. “No, Master.”


“Then be grateful for what you’re given.”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder slipped down to the bottom of the bed, and tried to arrange himself by the footboard. It wasn’t comfortable – the bed wasn’t wide enough for a start, and his feet dangled over the edge.


“Here.” Something big and soft landed on his face. “I’m not such an unkind Master that I’d make you sleep without a pillow,” Skinner said. Mulder was thankful that the pillow in question swallowed up his none-too-polite reply. He watched as Skinner turned over and lifted the sheets, and Wanda snuck down next to his Master’s chest and snuggled up there.


“She gets to sleep with you but I don’t?” He could help asking.


“You are sleeping with me – just not where you expected to be. One more thing, boy – I like to get a good night’s sleep. If I’m kept awake answering the questions of a disgruntled slave then I might decide to give him a thorough strapping and send him to stand facing the wall for the rest of the night. Do I make myself clear?”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder grabbed his pillow, and arched his body around it, pretending it was his Master. A few seconds later he almost yelped out loud as two very cold feet came to rest on his stomach.


“Problem, slave?” Skinner asked.


“None, Master,” Mulder replied. “In fact…your feet are cold, Master. Let me warm them.” He wrapped his hands around Skinner’s feet, one at a time, massaged them lightly, and then took each toe into his mouth, sucking gently, until both feet were thoroughly warmed.


“Thank you, slave,” Skinner muttered, and Mulder grinned to himself in the dark. He was learning.


He waited until his Master’s breathing deepened, signaling that the big man was asleep, and then very cautiously slid up under the sheets, located Wanda’s tail, and gave it a slight tug. She turned her head towards him, her ears flicking.


“All right, Madam. Can I just remind you while I may only be the slave you are just the cat. Okay?” He whispered. Her green eyes fixed him with a look of total indifference. “It was just a truce,” he hissed. “While I was ill. And anyway you were doing that whole cute cat routine to try and get round me. Now that things are getting back to normal I want you to know that he’s definitely mine.” She purred at him, clearly having decided to indulge the deranged and deluded slave boy. Mulder started to crawl back down to his position at the bottom of the bed, stopped, and turned, half-way there. “And another thing. He only took you to the beach because he thought I wanted you with us,” he told her. “So there.” She blinked owlishly, and he had the distinct impression that she was laughing at him. “Just so you know,” he finished, ending up back at his pillow. “Shit, and he thinks he’s possessive,” Mulder lamented to himself under his breath, closing his eyes and falling easily towards sleep. It might have been his imagination but just before he dropped off he was sure he heard someone give an amused snort.


“You can’t go in yet.” Mulder stopped Scully outside his office. He had got into work early, striding side by side to the Metro with Skinner, enjoying the frisson of knowing he was his Master’s slave beneath this starched white shirt, tie, and neatly pressed suit. He had bought Skinner a bagel and coffee, and carried his Master’s paper. Life didn’t get any better. They had split up at the elevator in the Hoover building, as Skinner ascended to his lair, while Mulder descended to his. Mulder had only allowed himself one look of regret at his Master’s broad back as it disappeared into the elevator before running eagerly down to the basement. His beloved X Files were all still there, in their filing cabinets. He had spent an hour dealing with his bulging in-tray and making the room ready for his partner’s arrival, and for the past ten minutes had stood outside the door, waiting for her. His heart had beat a little faster when he heard the unmistakable sound of her little kitten heels clicking and clacking up the corridor. He had no idea what she thought of him since his revelation in Seattle. It had only been 5 weeks ago, but it could have been a lifetime. He had seen her so little since, and although they had spoken on the phone they had both kept the conversation away from the huge bombshell that was Mulder’s sexuality. He dreaded seeing some kind of contempt in her eyes, but instead she just looked confused – and, he thought, pleased to see him too. He hoped so.


“Mulder!” She exclaimed, enveloping him in a brief hug and then pushing him back to get a better look at him. “My god, you look fantastic. Is that a tan I see before me? An actual real life tan on our basement dwelling Mulder?”


“Yup. I’m now officially a sun worshipper. I’ve been seduced over to the dark side of the sun, sea and sand,” he proclaimed mournfully. “No!” He reached out as Scully began to push the door open. “Not yet!”


“I can’t go in?” She asked, clearly startled. “Why? Is there some problem, Mulder?”


“No problem. You just have to be prepared.” He grinned, and pulled out one of Skinner’s huge, clean white handkerchiefs from his pocket.


“For what? Some kind of giant, mutated flu virus?” She asked, gazing pointedly at the handkerchief.


“Nope. I’m going to blindfold you.” He grinned, standing behind her, and wrapping the handkerchief around her eyes.


“Mulder, could I just point out before things go any further that blindfolds are your lifestyle choice and not mine,” she said, in a not entirely serious tone of voice. Mulder laughed out loud. Her joking comment had broken the ice between them, and showed him that at least she didn’t despise him for his preferences – it also got that particular awkward subject out in the open.


“Okay, Scully. I’m opening the door. Here we go.” He took hold of her hand, and led her into the office, walked her a few paces to the right, and then, with a loud “Da – nah!” he whipped off the blindfold.


“And I’m seeing what?” Scully looked around, bemused.


“The desk.” Mulder pointed. “Okay, it’s just one of the tables I was using to dump stuff on, and it’s the desk you usually requisition when you’re down here so it isn’t exactly anything special, but I’ve ordered you your very own desk from supplies – it’ll take a few days to arrive but it’s on its way. And, look.” He pointed to the nameplate, with Dana Scullywritten on it in gold lettering. “I had that done a while back but I kept forgetting to give it to you, and, uh, I was probably not sure about…well, you know, this has always been my office and I’m not very good at sharing my territory.”


“Who are you and what have you done with my partner?” Scully teased, running a perfectly manicured finger over the nameplate. Mulder laughed again, self-consciously, and wrapped his arms around his body, hugging himself.


“Well, you know it’s been almost seven years. I kind of figured you’d proved your worth,” he grinned. “Um, there’s something else. Look, I know that you and I need to talk. I want to say sorry for screwing things up so badly in Seattle, and thanks for sticking by me recently. I’ll…uh, answer any questions you have, even though I would, obviously, prefer to be locked in a sewer with a very large and angry flukeman than talk about my sex life.”


Scully laughed, and fingered the desk.


“Open the drawer,” he urged, and she looked at him in surprise, and then did as he had instructed, finding a little box inside.


“For me? Since when did you buy me gifts?” She asked.


“Since I got my life more figured out, and started appreciating the people who’ve always been there for me,” he told her sincerely. She gave him a blinding smile that made him aware that he’d just done something very good. She opened the box, gasped, and then drew out a sparkling sapphire pendant, on a long, slender chain.


“It’s white gold, not silver,” he said, anxiously, watching her expression. “I got it on vacation. Do you like it? Is it okay?”


“It’s beautiful.” She ran it through her fingers, and then looked up at him. “Skinner chose it didn’t he?” She guessed. Mulder made a face, and held his hands up.


“Okay, I surrender. You got me. He did. I chose something different, but he thought you’d like this one better. We still, uh, bought the other one, so you can have a choice depending on your mood. They both fit on the same chain.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small pendant wrapped in tissue paper and handed it to her. She unwrapped it, and then laughed out loud; inside the tissue paper was a small, gray alien, with big bug eyes, also made of white gold. “This is so much more you,” she said.


“Yeah, but the other one is so much more you, isn’t it?”


“They’re both perfect, in their own way,” she said diplomatically, pulling him towards her for a hug. “Oh, Mulder, I’ve been so worried about you,” she sighed into his shoulder.


“I know. I’m sorry. Look, I got you coffee and muffins.” He pointed, and ushered her into her seat.


“Ah, muffins. The perennial Mulder apology food,” she commented with a smile.


“Yup. I bought you one of each variety too, just to cover all my bases.” He grinned, sitting at his desk, wincing slightly as he did so – his discipline that morning had been very thorough, which he was sure was Skinner’s way of creating an impression that would last all day and remind his slave of a few basic facts of life. “Look, I need to explain some things, just so you understand, and then maybe we can kind of not talk about it too much.” He grimaced. “Sorry, but Walter is way too obsessed with the whole talking about your emotions and being honest thing, and it’d be a relief not to have to do it at work as well as at home.”


“You two really are an item then?” Scully looked utterly bemused. “I’m sorry, Mulder, I’ve tried to get my head around this since you told me, but I just never…I mean, I always knew there was something about you, but you never came over as gay, although then again you never exactly came over as completely straight either,” she conceded with a wry smile. “As for the whole other issue,” she coughed politely. “Well, that freaked me a bit, I’ll admit. You and Skinner are in some kind of S&M relationship?”


“Yes.” Mulder shrugged. “But before you go jumping to any conclusions, I need you to understand that it was a mutual decision. He didn’t force me into it – if anything it was the other way around.”


“You told me that before. I guess…I just don’t understand.” She shrugged helplessly. “How long have you been into this lifestyle, Mulder?”


Mulder took a deep breath, and prepared to try and explain something he didn’t even have a good handle on himself. “Forever, Scully,” he answered her honestly. “It’s got nothing to do with my parents, or my childhood, or what happened to Sam – I’ve had certain fantasies in my head since I was a kid. They were pretty innocent back then, but they developed when I hit puberty. That wasn’t exactly an easy time for me what with the Sam thing happening. Dealing with my sexuality wasn’t something I could cope with back then. I repressed a lot. I’ve always been attracted to women, so I just ignored my attraction to men for a long time. I had a mixed up, twisted relationship with Phoebe, and she introduced me to all the manifold joys and terrors of sexual submission.” He tried hard not to turn beetroot red but it was difficult trying to explain this under his partner’s searching, puzzled gaze. “She also did a total headfuck on me, and our relationship was such a disaster that for a long time I repressed the need for any kind of S&M encounter until…until…” He paused, and then plowed on again. “When the X Files burned down I went into self destruct mode. I’d dabbled in the S&M scene in DC for years, on and off, but I started trawling in earnest after that fire, looking for what I needed, and it was only then that my old, repressed attraction to men finally emerged again. I was out of control, Scully. Nothing worked – at least not for long enough. It was like being an addict, needing the high of pain. I was slowly losing it, finding it harder and harder to concentrate on my real life. I just needed the pain.”


“It doesn’t sound a very healthy lifestyle,” Scully commented. “Is that what Skinner does for you? Just gives you pain? I think therapy might be more useful.”


“No, you’ve got it all wrong. Skinner rescued me from what I was doing. He saved me from it, Scully. It’s as simple as that.”


“By making you his…slave?” It was Scully’s turn to flush.


Mulder gave a little bark of laughter. “I know it sounds crazy to you, but yes. It was the only way he could save me I think. He made it impossible for me to run out on him, made me stay for long enough to trust him, and then…to fall in love with him.”


“And he loves you?” She asked warily.


“I’m lucky. I think he’s loved me for a very long time. He took a lot of time to study me, and watch out for me, to see that I didn’t come to harm…only when I pursued him relentlessly did he finally reel me in. He needed it to be my choice, and it very much was.”


“And the stuff that happened with Krycek?” Scully asked.


“Would have happened even without Skinner being my Master – only the fall-out would have been much worse. Without him around I would have gone under this time around, Scully. He has a handle on my problems in a way that even I don’t. He’s made me face up to a lot of stuff, and I feel better for it. I didn’t always at the time.” Mulder bit on his lip, remembering how hard some of it had been. “But I do now. I reached a turning point. There’s no going back now.”


“I see.” She drummed her fingers absently on the desk. “Mulder, look, if he makes you happy then that’s fine by me. I can’t pretend that I really understand the appeal of your lifestyle, and I’m a little uncomfortable at the thought of being in a meeting with the pair of you, but…”


“You don’t need to worry about that. He is always nothing less than professional at work, and he’d have my hide if I weren’t as well. You don’t need to be embarrassed,” Mulder said softly, leaning forward to place his hand over her drumming fingers.


“Mulder, it isn’t you – to be honest I think I’d have been more surprised to find out that you were ‘normal’…” She raised an eyebrow at him, “but, finding out about Skinner. Well…he’s my boss too, and quite frankly learning all this about him has freaked me out. Uh, I’m a bit scared of him now.” She made a face.


Mulder gave a whistle of awe. “That’s a first. I didn’t think you were scared of anything, Scully!”


“Idiot.” She smiled at him, hesitantly.


“Okay, I’d like to tell you not to be scared of him, but that would be hypocritical because he scares the hell out of me sometimes, but I can tell you that he’s also a very good man – the best, and under that gruff persona I think he’s probably the kindest person I’ve ever known. He speaks very highly of you as well. Please, just give him a chance.”


Scully took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then exhaled with a sigh.


“All right. We’ll take it from there then, partner,” she said.


“Good.” He leaned back in his chair and surveyed his little basement domain with considerable satisfaction, delighted to be back. “So, tell me – what’s been happening in this place while I’ve been away?”


His first week back at work went so fast that Mulder barely had time to draw breath. Some of that was down to the natural build up of work during his absence, and some of it was down to the fact that his Master clearly wanted to keep him both busy and out of mischief. Mulder was almost relieved to make it to Saturday, which, he realized, with some surprise, was slave’s day. It had been so long since he and his Master had lived any kind of normal routine that he wasn’t entirely sure what would happen. It had also been weeks since he’d even stepped foot in the Playroom, and he was hoping for a nice long session in there, so he was disappointed when he and his Master merely spent a leisurely day working out, eating a long brunch, reading the papers, and talking. However, just when Mulder thought that any hope of a slave’s day treat was out of the question, his Master ordered him to go upstairs, get changed into the clothing his Master had laid on the bed, and go out.


”Is there anywhere in particular I should go?” Mulder asked with a frown, wondering what this was about.


“Yes, to Beelzebub,” Skinner said with a grin.


Mulder raised an eyebrow. “On my own?” Beelzebub was a well-known gay pick up joint, often frequented by jailbait rent boys. Mulder was sure he’d be hit upon within two minutes of walking in the place, and he could hardly believe his possessive Master was comfortable with that.


“Yes – on your own.” Skinner nodded. “Order a drink and wait at the bar.”


“Oookay,” Mulder said uncertainly. He got up and walked over to the stairs.


“And Fox – be very careful who you talk to. Remember who you belong to,” Skinner said firmly. Mulder nodded uncertainly, and continued up the stairs. Skinner obviously had something planned – but what?


Mulder laughed out loud when he saw that his clothing for the evening consisted of a pair of tight, ripped jeans, and an equally tight, burgundy lycra tee shirt. There was no underwear and he knew his Master well enough by now to know that was intentional. He pulled the clothes on and gazed at himself in the mirror, cringing from his reflection. He looked like a hustler. Maybe that was the point. Mulder looked at himself again, and grinned. Maybe that was the point. He went to the bathroom, found some gel, and slicked his hair back, then surveyed himself in the mirror again. He pouted, and adopted an air of sultry indifference, and then laughed at himself.


“You are way too old for this kind of thing,” he berated his reflection, but all the same, it was a horny idea.


Beelzebub was heaving with the usual Saturday night fervor when he got there. He had to push his way through the throng to reach the bar, and by the time he’d got there he’d had his ass patted by several questing hands. He managed to find an unoccupied seat in the far corner of the bar, and ordered a coke – somehow he didn’t think it would be a good idea to get drunk in this bar, looking like this. He watched the boys gyrating on the floor. There was a fair preponderance of wealthy businessmen looking for renters, and more than enough young men to go around from what he could judge. His coke hadn’t even arrived when a swarthy man placed a hand on his shoulder and asked if he could buy him a drink. Mulder refused, politely, and sat and watched the heaving bodies dance in time to the music. He was dressed so provocatively that he knew what kind of image he was giving out but that wasn’t his fault. His Master had ordered him to dress like a hustler, at the same time as making it damn clear that he wasn’t to pick anyone up – as if he’d even think about it. Somehow he doubted whether any of these plump, sleazy business men could give him what he needed, and having been Skinner’s slave for several months he knew that he was spoiled for anyone else. Nobody would ever live up to his Master. Nobody ever could. He reached for his coke, and was surprised when a hand was placed over his glass. He looked up – into his Master’s dark eyes.


“Allow me to buy you a drink,” his Master said. Mulder looked the other man up and down with a delighted, critical eye. Skinner was dressed like the consummate professional man, in dark navy suit, crisp white shirt, and tie. Several eyes had already devoured his broad frame from the dance floor.


“What will it cost me?” Mulder asked, with a slightly lascivious grin.


“Nothing. It’s on me. Which is where I’d like you to be,” Skinner said, his lips brushing Mulder’s ear.


“Well that will cost you,” Mulder replied, warming to the theme. God he loved these role-play scenarios. Seven months ago, when he’d sold himself into slavery, he had thought that all he wanted was someone to spank his ass, and take him deep into his own pain, but now he found there was so much more to his own sexuality than that.


“How much?” Skinner asked.


“That’s very direct.” Mulder raised an eyebrow.


“I don’t have time to fuck around, son. Tell me the price,” Skinner growled. “I bet you’re pretty expensive.” He placed his hand on Mulder’s chest and stroked gently down over a nipple. Mulder felt as if someone had put an electric current through his veins.


“I am. You might not be able to afford me,” Mulder said, grabbing Skinner’s hand and stopping it in its tracks as it began to snake towards his pants. “You haven’t bought me yet,” he hissed.


“I like to try before I buy,” Skinner replied. He put his hand into his pocket and brought out his wallet, then slapped a 50-dollar note on the counter. “That’s just a taste – now I want something in return,” Skinner growled, his voice hard, and full of sexual promise. Mulder’s cock hardened in his pants. He took hold of Skinner’s hand and placed it on his groin, allowing the other man to feel his bulge through his tight jeans.
”Worth paying for?” Mulder asked.


“I think so.” Skinner stroked Mulder’s groin, making Mulder moan. He put his head back, sweat running down his neck and over his Adam’s apple. It was hot, and the whole place smelled of testosterone – most of which he was sure was being given off by the man standing stroking him. Skinner leaned forward and licked a line of sweat up to Mulder’s jaw.  “Want to take this someplace else?” Skinner asked.


“No. I want a night out first, and then maybe I’ll consider it,” Mulder replied.


Skinner’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t jerk me around, son,” Skinner snarled. The tough guy impression made Mulder’s cock throb even more. “I want you, and you want what’s in my wallet. Do we have a deal or not?”


Mulder thought about it for a moment – which seemed to make his Master a little tetchy. He looked the other man up and down several times, and Skinner’s eyes narrowed with a ferocious challenge, daring his slaveboy to refuse him. Finally, after making his Master sweat it out, Mulder grinned.


“Okay – but first we dance,” he said.


“I don’t dance,” Skinner replied flatly.


“Then you don’t buy,” Mulder laughed, enjoying himself enormously. Somehow he didn’t think Skinner was going to enjoy dancing in this kind of club. It really wasn’t his natural environment. Usually Mulder would have been pretty embarrassed as well, but he was enjoying himself far too much to even think about it. Skinner gave him a look that would have felled a lesser man in his stride. Mulder met it, and grinned, then slowly but surely reached out and caressed his Master’s ass. Skinner swallowed hard. “You want it, you dance for it,” Mulder purred.


“All right.” Skinner shrugged, giving in to the inevitable, although he did shoot Mulder a look that made him worry about his own ass when the other man got him home. Mulder felt as high as a kite as he pulled his Master onto the dance floor. He rarely got a chance to show Skinner off, and he wanted to make a statement that this man was his, and nobody else could touch. He turned, caught hold of Skinner’s tie, and pulled him close.


“You are such a drama queen,” Skinner hissed.


“And you make such a good randy businessman out cruising,” Mulder winked. “Are you sure you haven’t done this before?”


”No, I haven’t – and I’m damn sure you haven’t either, despite the convincing performance,” Skinner growled under his breath.


“Are you kidding? I’ve played this role in my head countless times. This has been a fantasy of mine for years,” Mulder replied.


“I know. You told me.” Skinner grinned, and then took his astonished slave by surprise by pulling him close, leaning him backwards, and swinging him around enthusiastically. Mulder gazed at him, still winded, trying to remember when he had confided this particular fantasy.


“Get back in role,” he chided, grinning, not wanting the fantasy to end. His Master gave a little growl at being addressed in such a cavalier fashion, but they were both laughing. Mulder drew his Master close, and ran his hands over the other man’s expensive suit. “Kind of dressed up for a place like this aren’t you?” He asked.


“Some of us have to work at the weekend and need a little recreation in the evening,” Skinner replied, his hands wandering down to Mulder’s ass. Mulder removed them.


“You haven’t paid for that yet,” he said.


“How much do you want for it?”


“Depends on what you want me to do.” Mulder shrugged. “It’s 50 to touch, 200 to suck, and 500 if you want a real piece of my ass.” He had absolutely no idea whether he was selling himself cheaply or ridiculously expensive – they were just the first sums that came into his head.
”Do anything kinky?” Skinner asked, with a raised eyebrow. Mulder had a vision of his life for the past few months and seriously wondered whether there was anything kinky that he hadn’t done.


“Yes, but it’s extra,” Mulder grinned.


“Hmmm. Okay, have we danced enough? I want to take our little deal to the bedroom.”


“Did you have anywhere in mind?” Mulder raised an eyebrow.


“Yeah, a little hotel nearby. I already booked a room.”


“Sure of yourself, aren’t you?” Mulder grinned.


“With this particular hustler – yes.” Skinner snorted.


“All right.” Mulder shrugged. “Do you have a name?” He asked.


“Yes. But you can call me Jim,” Skinner replied.


“Jim. Okay. I’m…Walter,” he said, feeling absurdly high. He watched Skinner’s eyes narrow again, and the other man gave a snort of pure outrage at Mulder’s temerity. “Do you have a problem with that, Jim?” he asked.


“No. Not at all, Walter.” Skinner gave a deceptively pleasant smile that told Mulder that he didn’t have a problem with it but Mulder’s ass would when he got him back home. “Come on, Walter. Let’s go.” He put a big hand on Mulder’s shoulder and propelled him over to the door.


The hotel was a seedy, grimy place, fit only for one night stands paid for by men out looking for sex of one variety or another.


“Nice place,” Mulder commented sarcastically, glancing at the peeling paint, and dirty wallpaper. “You know how to show a boy a good time.”


“I thought it suited the mood,” Skinner grinned, paying in cash at the front desk before taking the room – as was hotel policy. They crowded into a tiny elevator, and Skinner pushed him up against the wall, his hand groping Mulder’s crotch. “I can’t wait to see what I’m buying. It feels promising,” Skinner murmured, his breath warm in Mulder’s ear, his wool suit thick and itchy against his cheek.


“You haven’t bought yet,” Mulder said reprovingly, pushing the other man back. He loved the power dynamic they had going here, and the idea of being paid for sex. He didn’t envy any of those poor bastards who had to do it for real, but as a safe role-play with someone he loved, it was hotter than hell.
They reached their hotel room, and Skinner opened the door. Mulder had no sooner stepped inside than his Master pushed him up against the wall, his hands wandering over Mulder’s entire body.


“Wait…first you show me your money,” Mulder panted, trying to ward off his Master’s insistent caresses.


Skinner stepped back, opened his wallet, counted out $500 and then slowly, never breaking eye contact with his slave, opened Mulder’s fly and tucked the money neatly into his pants, where it nestled against Mulder’s hard cock. Mulder swallowed hard, took the money out, and counted it himself, one eye on his Master who was clearly torn between impatience and amusement at his slave’s role-playing.


“Okay, Jim. I’m all yours,” Mulder grinned, leaning back against the wall, and putting one hand down the front of his jeans, playing with his cock. Skinner gave a growl of sexual need, grabbed his slave, and angled his head towards his lips for a kiss. Mulder pushed him away. “Uh-uh. Kissing’s extra,” he purred. Skinner almost snapped. Mulder fought hard to keep himself from laughing out loud as he saw his Master struggle to remain in character when his slave was refusing him the most basic of rights.


“Okay,” Skinner said, with appropriately masterful self-control, getting out his wallet again. “I can see you’re having fun with this, boy.”


“Oh, I am, Jim. I am.” Mulder grinned wickedly.


“Will a 100 do it?” Skinner asked, taking out a couple of fifties and waving them in the air.


“Yeah. That’ll do.” Mulder leaned forward to grab them, but Skinner wrong footed him by taking a step sideways, and then lunged at the off-balance Mulder, thrust him up against the wall, and devoured his lips in a kiss of pure ownership. He kissed him for what seemed like hours, his big hands wandering over every inch of Mulder’s flesh until the younger man didn’t think he could stand, or breathe. He was just aware of Skinner’s big, suited body covering his own, of the warmth of his Master’s breath, the taste of him in his mouth, and the way his hands were rubbing and stroking, and groping. When Skinner finally released him his knees gave way and he sank to the floor, gasping for breath. Skinner tucked the two fifties down the front of Mulder’s shirt with a malicious grin.


“I just wanted to make sure I got my money’s worth. That was a pretty expensive kiss,” Skinner commented. Mulder looked up at him, his chest heaving as he regained his breath. He could see his Master was panting as well.


“I think it was worth it though – yes?” He asked, with a challenging grin, stuffing the cash he’d been given into his pocket.


“Maybe. Let’s see if your ass is worth what I paid for it as well, Walter,” Skinner ground out, advancing on his slave again. He grabbed Mulder, hauled him to his feet, and turned him around, his hands roughly stripping Mulder of his jeans, and pulling them down to his ankles. “Oh yeah…nice…” Skinner murmured in a low, rough tone that made Mulder’s cock leap in excitement. Skinner slapped his ass a couple of times, and then kneaded it urgently. “You’re a pretty boy, you know that? I’m going to enjoy fucking you,” Skinner hissed, his arm pressing Mulder against the wall, like a lion holding down prey. Mulder kicked off his jeans and opened his legs wide, longing for his Master to take him, hot and hard from behind. This was all so rough and urgent that he could almost feel the steam coming out of his ears.


“Not here. I’m going to make you watch,” Skinner growled. He hauled Mulder away from the wall, and propelled him over to the long mirror nailed to the wall on the other side of the room. He pushed Mulder up against it, so that the cool surface caressed Mulder’s cheek. He could feel the cold glass on his cock as well, and the idea of being fucked from behind against the mirror made him moan with need.


“Do it then, Jim,” he whispered. “You paid for it. Fuck me.”


“Oh I intend to, Walter, believe me,” his Master answered grimly. “Open your legs wider.” He slapped Mulder’s thighs further apart, and then slid a finger inside his ass, without warning. Mulder gasped. “Ready for me?” Skinner purred. Mulder swallowed hard, but he was beyond doing anything else. He could see Skinner behind him in the mirror, still fully dressed, and the urgency of the fantasy was overwhelming him. He just wanted Skinner inside him – now. “I’m big – think you can take me?” Skinner asked, two fingers now sliding back and forth into Mulder’s ass.


“Just do it!” Mulder gasped, opening his legs even wider. He was lost in the moment. His body was just sensation, while his mind was wrapped up in the fantasy. Everything seemed so intense – every word, every action. He could feel his Master’s itchy wool pants rubbing against his naked butt, and the other man’s body seemed bigger and more imposing than ever. Skinner’s arm was pressed against Mulder’s neck, keeping his face angled against the mirror, keeping him still, making the whole scenario furtive, and hungry, full of raw need and power.


“Okay, Walter. I’m going to spear you against this mirror while you watch me pound into your ass with my hard cock. Watch,” Skinner said. Even the use of the name ‘Walter’ gave Mulder a curious frisson, and a second later he gasped out loud as Skinner pulled apart his ass cheeks and lodged firmly in his anus. His Master gave a hard thrust, and impaled himself deep in Mulder’s body. “Feel good, Walter? I bet that’s the biggest and best you’ve ever had,” Skinner rasped, as much in character as Mulder was right now. Mulder could do nothing but moan helplessly, as his Master began, slowly at first, to thrust in and out of his slave. Mulder’s warm breath misted the mirror, rendering his Master’s body just a shadowy dark mass behind him, moving and thrusting, back and forth, over and over again, hitting his prostate unerringly each time until he was crying out in ecstasy, grateful that Skinner’s big hand was keeping him upright. He almost yelled in surprise when Skinner’s other hand came around the front of his body and grabbed his hard cock.


“Oh shit!” he moaned.


“Is it extra to bring you off, Walter?” Skinner asked. “Or do I get that pleasure for free?”


“It’s on the house!” Mulder gasped, desperate for that hand to continue stroking and pumping his hard cock.


“I’m pleased to hear that, Walter,” Skinner purred in his ear, still thrusting urgently. “Because this is some good meat you have here, and I’m going to milk it until it’s dry.” His lips dropped to the back of Mulder’s neck, and nipped him there, biting, like a big cat mounting and rutting, holding its mate down during the process. Mulder began to whimper, sweat pouring off his face, his ass split wide open by his Master’s cock, his own cock leaking in anticipation…and then he was coming over Skinner’s hand, and his breath had obscured the mirror completely, and Skinner was soft and still inside him so he guessed his Master had reached his own climax too.


“Good?” Skinner whispered into his ear, both his hands holding Mulder under his armpits to keep him upright.


“Wha…? Yes…” Mulder managed to mutter. He felt Skinner’s low, rumbling laugh, and then the other man was helping him over to the bed, and dressing him in his jeans. Mulder just lay there, barely able to move his hips in order to allow his Master to finish clothing him.


“Oh god,” he moaned. “That was so damn hot.”


Skinner grinned down at him, tucking his own cock away in his pants. Mulder realized that the other man hadn’t even undressed and if he hadn’t been so sated that would have turned him on all over again. “First Master’s Day,” Mulder murmured.


“What?” Skinner frowned at him.


“That’s when I told you about this fantasy. I can’t believe you remembered it after all this time!”


“That’s why I’m the Master,” Skinner said with what Mulder was sure was a wink. “Seriously, you weren’t ready for a fantasy like this back then. Now you’re relaxed enough to play with it, and enjoy the change in the power dynamic. You could only see me as your Master back then – you couldn’t see me in any other role. And, as I recall, on that day you were too inhibited to even do a striptease for me so I don’t think you’d have been able to play at being a hustler.”


“How long did it take you to loosen up and play like this?” Mulder asked in wonder, gazing at his lover, Master and boss.


“Longer than it’s taken you. Repressed wasn’t the word for me,” Skinner chuckled. “Oh, I could manage the odd spanking scenario with my wife, but it took Andrew to truly liberate my sexual imagination.”


“Care to elaborate?” Mulder propped his head up on one hand. He loved hearing about his Master’s subby days. Skinner sighed theatrically, and rolled his eyes.


“All right – but quickly. I told you that once Andrew refused to allow me access to the Playroom for a couple of months,” he said, shaking his head at the memory. “We role-played fairly extensively during those months, and once I got into it, I found I loved it. It was so liberating not being me, with whatever hang-ups and insecurities I had. I could literally beanyone, and go anywhere – once I got rid of the sense of embarrassment that is. Andrew had to alternatively encourage and beat that out of me.” He rubbed his chin, smiling. “Andrew could be very persuasive when he wanted to be,” he added. “I remember the first couple of times he tried to make me initiate a fantasy scenario. Well, you know me. I was the buttoned up Assistant Director at the FBI. Pretending to be a pirate, or a slaveboy, or a biker or whatever really didn’t come easily to me.”


Mulder gave a snort of amusement. “I’d love to have been a fly on the wall watching you back then,” he laughed. “I get off on just thinking about how I was wandering around the FBI thinking of you as the starched shirt boss, while all the time you were playing these kinky sex games at home.” He smirked, and Skinner slapped him on the butt. “Tell me how Andrew managed to tame that sense of macho embarrassment,” Mulder requested.


“Oh, Andrew was an expert. He had trained more recalcitrant and terminally shy subs than me – although he always did say that I was a special challenge,” Skinner grinned. “I would go bright red in the beginning, and just stand there, not participating in the verbal side of the fantasy – just responding to what he did physically. He told me I looked more of an idiot by doing that than by joining in and he was right. It was a lot about relaxation and feeling comfortable – and of course, there was always Andrew’s cane as a last resort.”


“The dragon cane?” Mulder asked.


“No, this was a thin, whippy little cane that he called his ‘encouragement’. He was so fast with that thing I’d never see it coming. If I was too slow responding to the fantasy, or wouldn’t move it along or play off him, he’d just deliver an extremely stinging reminder that I had to participate too – he wasn’t going to do all the work. It’s amazing how much that loosened my inhibitions!” Skinner gave a hearty laugh. “You, on the other hand, my wanton slave-slut, don’t need anywhere near as much help in that department.”


“I’ve actually always had a thing for dressing up and being someone else since I was a kid. Hallowe’en was my favorite night of the year – even better than my birthday,” Mulder said softly, remembering the better times of his childhood, before Sam had been taken.


“Andrew really enjoyed dressing me up for some reason I never understood until I had a sub of my own.” Skinner gazed at Mulder speculatively, and grinned. “Now I can see the appeal of course.”


“I can see the appeal in a slave dressing a Master too,” Mulder said, his eyes wandering lasciviously over Skinner’s burly, suited frame.


“Don’t push your luck!” Skinner grinned. “Now come on. I don’t want to stay in this dive any longer than necessary,” he commented, glancing around the dirty room. He pulled Mulder to his feet, and his slave stayed there for a moment, swaying, before walking unsteadily towards the door. “One thing, boy,” Skinner said, as Mulder put out his hand to open the door. “I get to do this…” He pulled Mulder into an embrace, and kissed him firmly on the lips. “Any time I like.”


“Yes, Master,” Mulder chuckled. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. Oh…what about the money?” He fumbled in his pocket for the cash, and offered it back to his Master. Skinner shook his head, his eyes glittering in amusement.


“No, you keep it. I think you earned it…Walter,” he grinned, swatting Mulder on his butt as they left the room.


Mulder had a surprise of his own planned for Master’s Day. He had always found it hard knowing what to do for the other man in the past, but now his mind was full of ideas, and he just found it hard picking which one to go with. He had decided on something fairly simple for their first Master’s Day in a while, but all the same it had taken a few phone calls to pull it off in time for Sunday – as well as keeping it secret from his Master. He prepared brunch for Skinner as usual the following day, washed, shaved, and massaged the other man, and then asked his Master for the key to the Playroom in order to get some equipment. Skinner looked at him quizzically but handed over the key without asking any questions.


“I have a special Master’s Day surprise planned,” Mulder said, grinning at Skinner’s look of surprise. “I need you to get out of the way – perhaps you could go and watch TV in the upstairs apartment? I need about an hour to prepare, and then you can come to your study.”


“My study?” Both Skinner’s eyebrows looked as if they were about to shoot off his head.


“Yes. Your study,” Mulder repeated mysteriously, before running off up to the Playroom to get what he wanted. He returned to the study, laid out the items he had brought with him, and then dressed and ran down to the basement storage area, where a certain item he had ordered was secreted. He wheeled it into the elevator, and then pushed it along the corridor back to their apartment, and installed it in the study. Finally, he undressed, anointed himself in oil, and knelt to await his Master. A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. Mulder opened it, and ushered his Master into the room…where Skinner’s eyes immediately alighted on the brand new, sleek, black leather executive chair that was stationed behind the desk.


“For me?” He turned and looked at Mulder, his eyes bemused.


“Of course.” Mulder grinned. “I noticed your chair was looking pretty threadbare, Master, so I ordered a replacement.”


“Thank you.” Skinner gave a smile that lit up his whole face and Mulder felt himself glowing. His Master went over to the chair and caressed the leather, then bent to smell it, and inhaled deeply. “Ah, nothing like the smell of new leather,” he murmured.


“My thoughts exactly,” Mulder grinned. “Uh, did I ever tell you that I always had a fetish about that chair in your office, Master? I used to sit in meetings fantasizing about sucking you off as you sat in that big, don’t-fuck-with-me chair. Or just slowly undressing you…”


“You fantasized about me?” Skinner looked surprised. “Before we were involved? I didn’t know that.”


“It wasn’t something I was comfortable about.” Mulder shrugged, “but it sure as hell got me through a few of our more unpleasant meetings. You’re a lot less scary when you’re being given a blow job,” he grinned.


“I can see you had something else planned.” Skinner eyed the two sets of handcuffs Mulder had brought from the Playroom.


“Oh yeah. The way I see it, a chair like this should be christened. Now…I could have wrapped it up in a big stupid bow, but I can think of a much better way to christen it.” Mulder picked up the handcuffs and glanced at the other man. “Do you trust me, Master?” he asked.


“Of course,” Skinner answered smoothly, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.


“Good, because as this is your day I want to do all the work, and that means keeping you still.” Mulder guided his Master into the chair, and then opened one of the sets of handcuffs. “I chose a chair with this kind of armrests on purpose,” he said, snapping the cuff around Skinner’s wrist and then fastening his arm to the chair. “Okay?”


“Uh-huh.” Skinner nodded, his eyes still amused.


Mulder fastened his Master’s other hand to the chair, and then surveyed him. “Cuffs suit you, Master,” he teased.


“Don’t go asking for trouble, boy,” Skinner retorted swiftly.


“Okay…now for the fun bit. I know you like me riding you, and this chair was made for riding – but I want you helpless. This is your day. I don’t want you thinking about pleasing me. I’m going to do all the work – that’s why I put the cuffs on you. Well, that and as revenge for all the hours I’ve spent sitting in your office listening to one of your lectures about proper use of cell phones, or following Bureau procedure.”


“Always thoroughly well deserved!” Skinner exclaimed.


“Probably.” Mulder grinned. “Now, if Master would like to shut up, I can address myself to his pleasure.” And so saying he swung a leg over Skinner’s knees, sat in the big man’s lap, and began unbuttoning his denim shirt. He went slowly, allowing his fingers to slip inside the fabric and caress his Master’s chest. He could tell by the way Skinner’s cock was starting to dig into his slave’s thigh that his Master was finding this a definite turn on. “Slowly,” Mulder said, opening his Master’s shirt and dropping his head to lick at Skinner’s right nipple. His Master gave a little moan of pleasure. “Very, very slowly,” Mulder murmured, licking up to Skinner’s jaw, and bestowing a little kiss on his Master’s lips, drawing back without dipping his tongue in, leaving Skinner open mouthed, wanting more.


“Tease,” his Master berated. “When I get the use of my hands back…”


“You can spank me,” Mulder purred, “although you might be too tired.”


Skinner gave a snort, and Mulder just knew his Master was itching to bestow a judicious slap on his slave’s backside. He sat facing Skinner for a long time, working on the big man’s chest, and nipples, occasionally kissing his lips, sinking his tongue a little way into his Master’s mouth and drawing back, always leaving Skinner wanting more. He spent several minutes on each nipple, sucking them into little points, and gently lapping at them, noting, with some satisfaction, that not only was his Master writhing and moaning under his caress, but also that the bulge in his pants had gotten even bigger. Finally, Mulder opened his Master’s pants, and released the big man’s cock. He stroked the head for a while, and then ran his fingers up and down the shaft. Skinner was fully erect, and ready for him, but Mulder wanted the whole event to last as long as possible, so just when Skinner looked about ready to explode, Mulder left his cock, and returned to his nipples. Skinner sighed, surrendering himself to the slow, delicious, torture of the lovemaking. Mulder was having the time of his life – he rarely had a chance to play with his Master’s body as much as he would have liked, and he was making the most of this opportunity. Finally, judging that Skinner couldn’t hold out much longer under his insistent caresses, he positioned himself over the big man’s hard cock, and slowly lowered himself onto it, impaling himself up the hilt. Skinner gasped as he sank home into Mulder’s ass, and Mulder grinned, and, dipping his head down, he pulled his Master close, and kissed him again. He loved the feel of Skinner’s bare scalp under his fingers, and he played with it as he rested with his Master’s hard cock sheathed deep inside him. This position wasn’t always the most comfortable for him, but he did love being face to face with his Master like this. His only reservation was that this position put Skinner at eye level with his chest – and his scar – and despite everything, Mulder still couldn’t come to terms with the ugliness of that blemish on his body – and what it stood for. He couldn’t see how Skinner could get turned on my having his face thrust up against evidence of his slave’s betrayal, and another man’s initials, but Skinner most definitely was aroused, so Mulder pushed that anxiety to the back of his mind. He rose up, slowly, and then down again, equally slowly, and Skinner sighed, and moved his hands pointlessly, clearly wanting to hold and caress his slave, but finding that was denied him. Mulder grinned, and moved up the pace, sliding up and down faster and faster. He was aware of Skinner’s face pressing against his chest, and his tongue tickling his nipples. The sensation of riding his Master had made his own cock hard but he had no intention of bringing himself off – this was Skinner’s session, and besides, he hadn’t been given permission to come. He felt Skinner straining and bucking underneath him, and then the other man came deep inside him. Mulder stopped rocking up and down on his Master and flopped against the other man, resting his chin on Skinner’s head.


“Good?” He asked, unconsciously echoing the question Skinner so often asked him.


“Oh yeah,” his Master growled. “Very, very good. Thank you, boy.”


Mulder reached on the desk behind for the key to the handcuffs and unlocked his Master, and Skinner’s hands went automatically around his slave, stroking him. Then, unexpectedly, he pulled Mulder close, and buried his face in his slave’s chest.


“Are you okay?” Mulder glanced down on his Master’s bald head, wondering what was going on inside it.


There was silence for a long moment, and then Skinner looked up, a strange expression in his eyes, which looked suspiciously as if they were bright with unshed tears.


“Fine,” Skinner said, in a voice an octave lower than normal. “I meant what I said. Thank you, Fox. That was good.” He gazed thoughtfully at Mulder’s chest, which was at eye level, and then raised a finger to gently caress his scar. “Do you still want this taken care of, Fox?” He asked softly.


“Yes, Master. More than just about anything in the world,” Mulder replied quickly.


“All right. I spoke to Perry last week, and he has an idea.”


“What does he have planned?” Mulder looked down on his Master, knowing that his eagerness and hope showed in his eyes.


“It’s not a huge procedure, but it will involve surgery – and some discomfort. He can perform a full thickness skin graft that will alter the appearance of your scar – and improve it considerably.”


“I want him to do it,” Mulder said immediately, grabbing Skinner’s head and looking down into his Master’s dark eyes.


“Fox – this is not a decision to make lightly, and it’s not one I’ll make for you. It’s too important for that. If you go ahead, you’ll have to have some skin taken from somewhere else on your body – probably your lower abdomen. That means you’ll end up with two scars – which might not be an ideal situation. However, the new scar can be created in any shape I order – so it’s one way of placing my own mark on you. How do you feel about that?”


Mulder grinned. “Well, it doesn’t sound as sexy as a branding, but I sure as hell like the idea of it. What shape will you go for?”


If we decide to go ahead, that will be my choice – you won’t know and you won’t have a say in the matter,” Skinner said firmly. Mulder found that idea appealing. Having Skinner’s mark on his body had been his aim since early in his slavery, and it would wipe out some of what he had suffered at Krycek’s hands.


“What about the scar on my chest?” He asked.


>”Well, we can improve the appearance of that dramatically with a skin graft. You’ll still have a scar – I don’t want you to be in any doubt about that – but it won’t be as messy, and it’ll be a completely different shape. It won’t be Krycek’s mark any more – it’ll be one we create together. Will that be enough for you?”


“Yes,” Mulder said, without hesitation.


“And you’ll be back behind a desk for a couple of weeks while it heals. Absolutely no field-work, and I mean that. I don’t care if aliens land on the White House – you are not going to investigate anything. Also, this isn’t a procedure that Perry can undertake lightly. Usually he’d wait for six months to a year – he’s only prepared to do the op now because the scar is so emotionally disturbing to you.”


“I want him to do it.” Mulder said firmly. “Walter, please. Even just now, making love to you…at one point all I could think about was this fucking scar. I can’t stand the thought that Krycek’s out there, the smug bastard, walking around thinking he’s put his mark on my body.” He clenched his fists angrily.


“It’s all right. I do understand that, sweetheart.” Skinner caressed Mulder’s ass and back lovingly, calming him. “But you must understand that this skin graft won’t get rid of the scar completely – it’ll just alter it so it isn’t the mess it is now – and it won’t say AK.”


“We were talking about branding…that’s still going to happen isn’t it?” Mulder asked in a worried tone.


Skinner nodded. “After you earn your collar back we can talk about branding again,” he confirmed.


“Well then, this is no different. If by doing this I get rid of Krycek’s mark and get your mark into the bargain, then that’s all I need to know. I’ll be proud of it if it’s your mark,” Mulder whispered, resting his head on Skinner’s wide forehead.


“All right. I’ll call Perry this evening. He’ll want to talk to you first to make sure you know what you’re doing but I think he’ll agree to it.”


“Thank you.” Mulder kissed his Master gratefully. He felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He was going to be whole again, untainted by Krycek’s knife, and he was determined to win back his collar – life was definitely looking up.


The operation took place the following Friday evening at a small outpatients clinic where Perry seemed to have some connections. The other man was as jovial and laid back as usual, and even outlined his credentials of several years working on a burns unit in order to reassure Mulder that he was in safe hands. Mulder had spent more than enough time in hospitals not to want to watch what was being done to his body, so he lay back and gazed the ceiling, trying not to think about the strange smells, and noises that abounded as Perry and his assistant worked on his body. His scar and the donor site had been injected with lidocaine, so the operation didn’t hurt, although the injection sure as hell had. His Master remained at his side throughout, and Mulder was almost surprised when Perry loomed over him, and told him it was all over.


“It was quicker than I thought it would be,” Mulder said, trying to sit up.


“It wasn’t a hard op – we didn’t encounter any problems. You’re young, you’re fit, and you don’t smoke, so I think you’ll heal fine,” Perry told him. “Don’t get either scar site wet; no showers or baths for a few days – Walter will have to wash you – and keep your arm in this sling until Tuesday. It’s very important that you keep the chest wall as still as possible for the next few days. I had to remove one of your nipple rings, but I’m sure your Master will allow you to go without one of them for a week or two.” He looked at Skinner, his eyes twinkling with amusement. Skinner nodded, his own eyes grave. “And that’s it,” Perry said. “I’ll want to see you again in about a week to remove the stitches – but I’ll come around to Walter’s apartment for that. Any questions, Mulder?”


“Yes – what shape is the new scar?” Mulder asked quickly.


Perry laughed out loud. “Ah, I think that’s between you and your Master, don’t you?” He said. “Rest assured that it has a much more pleasing aspect and symbolism than the last scar you were given had.”


Mulder endured a weekend of sink washes and enforced rest, with a threat of dire punishment hanging over him if he so much as moved his sling arm an inch. He minded this a lot less than he would have done just a year previously. Now that he was a slave, the humiliation of being washed by his Master was more of a turn on than anything else, and he usually he found he got an erection every time his Master went near him with a wash cloth, much to Skinner’s amusement and exasperation. His Master got his own back by refusing to reveal what the new scar would look like. Mulder was back in his office, arm still in a sling, on Monday morning, and was surprised when he and Scully were both summoned to Skinner’s office at 10 am.


“What does he want?” Scully asked, as they made their way upstairs.


“Don’t ask me!” Mulder replied. “He hardly ever even mentions work at home.”


“Not even pillow talk?” Scully asked mischievously.


“Definitely not.” Mulder grinned. “You’re freaked. I can tell.” He glanced at her pale face and thoughtful expression.


“I told you – he scares me,” she replied, chewing absently on one of her usually immaculate fingernails.


>”Okay.” He grabbed her arm, and pulled her to a standstill. “You remember I told you months ago that my Master is crazy about his cat? Well, it’s true. If it helps, I want you to imagine him in thrall to the smallest, dainties, most imperious little cat you can think of.”


“Skinner has a cat?” Scully frowned.


>”Yup. She’s called Wanda, and he’s besotted with her. Nothing is too much trouble for the divine Wanda – she has him wrapped around her little paws.”


“You’re making this up, right?” Scully giggled.


>”Nope. Still scared of him?”


>”A bit – but I like the mental image of our big, bad boss cuddling up to a cat. Thanks, Mulder.”


“No problem.”


They were ushered through Skinner’s outer office by Kim, passing a tall, spiky haired man reading a newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee. Mulder glanced at the agent suspiciously.


“Who’s he?” He whispered to Kim as she opened Skinner’s office door.


“You’ll find out soon enough,” she replied sweetly.


Skinner was as cool, brisk and professional as ever while in work mode. He smiled at Scully, frowned at Mulder, and then launched straight into a speech that took his slave totally by surprise.


“Agent Mulder, as you’re out of action for the next couple of weeks, I’m reassigning you,” he said. Mulder looked up in total and abject horror.


“Sir, with all due respect, I can still work on the X Files from my office,” he said.


“I’m sure you can move bits of paper around, but that isn’t the same as working,” Skinner said tersely. “I’m assigning you to work on the Annual Bureau Training Seminar. We have agents coming in from field offices all over the US – I want you to organize a program for them, as well as giving the keynote speech.”


“A keynote speech? About what?” Mulder asked, his tone dripping with ire at what he was hearing. Skinner fixed him with a hard look.


“Your work on the X Files of course,” Skinner said tersely.


“You want me to stand up in front of a bunch of green agents from Hicksville, and tell them about aliens, mutants and ghouls?” Mulder questioned. “Are you setting me up as the fall guy for some kind of huge Bureau joke, sir?”


“No, Agent Mulder. I’m giving you the opportunity to share your knowledge and experience,” Skinner snapped. “Do you view the X Files as a legitimate use of Bureau resources?” He demanded.


“Of course!” Mulder flared.


“Well, so do I – and as such I think we should be educating our other agents about the X Files department. That way you might encounter less hostility when you go out in the field,” Skinner rapped out. Mulder stared at him, aghast, but Skinner took no notice – he just continued talking. “You’ll work with one of the Bureau’s training agents. He’s organizing the logistical side of bussing in the agents from the more remote field offices. I believe you’ve worked with him before – his name is Tom Colton.”


“Ah, the final nail in my coffin. Thank you for completely making my day – sir,” Mulder said, his heart sinking. He couldn’t understand why his Master was doing this to him. He glanced sideways at Scully who looked extremely nervous about the level of tension between Master and slave.


“What about me, sir?” Scully asked. “We have a couple of cases that really require me to go into the field to investigate. I wouldn’t be happy to go without back up.”


“There’s no need. I’m assigning another agent to assist you while Mulder is incapacitated. He’s a good agent – I wouldn’t assign you someone less than the best, and I have no doubt that he will be a very able replacement for Mulder, Agent Scully.” Skinner pressed a button on his phone. “Kim, you can send him in,” he said, his tones still terse from his exchange with his slave. The man from the outer office strode into the room, his confidence evident in every step he took, his back straight, and his eyes clear and direct. Skinner introduced him.


“Agent Scully, this is your new partner for the next couple of weeks. Agent John Doggett – Agent Dana Scully.”


“Agent Scully, it’s good to meet you. I’ve been reading up about your work – it’s…fascinating,” Doggett said, in a voice that Mulder decided was far too deep and sexy. It certainly had an effect on Scully, who flushed pink around the ears as she shook her new partner’s hand. Mulder bristled.


“Agent Doggett – what exactly are your credentials for working on the X Files?” He demanded, ignoring both Doggett’s outstretched hand, and the cautioning looks that both Scully and Skinner were shooting at him. Doggett, however, took his question seriously, and thought about it for a few seconds before replying.


“I’ll admit that I’m having trouble taking in some of the things I’ve read about your department, but I’ll do my best to cover for you in your absence,” Doggett said in that deep, considered voice. “After all, there’s only one real qualification required for working on the X Files, Agent Mulder, and that’s an open mind.”


Mulder hated him instantly.>  


Scully offered to show Doggett around the filing cabinets containing the X Files, while Mulder stood there, his fist itching to plant some serious damage on either Doggett’s face or his Master’s. He cast Skinner a look of fury before stalking towards the door to follow the other two out. He had one hand on the handle, when his Master spoke.




Mulder hesitated. If Skinner had called him Agent Mulder he might have just carried on walking, but the other man was calling him by his slave name, and while he might mouth off at his boss, he wasn’t sure he dared ignore his Master. He closed his eyes, trying to come to a decision. He remembered that he was trying to earn back his collar, and that a tantrum now would be ill advised, but all the same he couldn’t pretend that he wasn’t angry. He could sense his Master behind him, waiting for his decision, and finally he turned back.


“Master,” he said quietly.


Skinner’s expression softened. “I know you’re angry, but I have good reasons for doing this.”


“You have good reasons for replacing me with that jerk?” Mulder snapped. “Well I sure as hell would like to hear them, sir.”


“Agent Doggett is only a temporary replacement and you know it. Are you annoyed because he’s taking your place or are you annoyed because he might actually turn out to be good at the job?”


“That is such crap! You saw him – he was all over Scully!” Mulder said heatedly.


Skinner raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I see. This is all about Agent Scully now. She’s a grown woman, Fox, she can take care of herself. It didn’t look to me like she needed any protecting from Agent Doggett. In fact, I think she rather liked him.”


“He isn’t good enough for her,” Mulder muttered angrily.


“You’re jumping to a lot of assumptions here. They only just met,” Skinner pointed out reasonably enough. Skinner placed a hand on his arm, but Mulder shook it off angrily. “All right.” Skinner shrugged. “I know you’re pissed off, but I want you to apply yourself to the best of your considerable ability. I know you can pull off the finest Annual Seminar the Bureau has ever had.”


“Working with Tom Colton? With all due respect, sir, you have to be deluded. The man hates me.”


“You might find him changed. He was injured in the course of duty a year or two back and he rides a desk full time now – not just temporarily,” Skinner said pointedly.


“I don’t suppose he’ll have changed his view of me.”


“Maybe not, which is why you’re going to convince him he was wrong.”


“Just how the hell am I supposed to do that?” Mulder flared.


“By dropping all this defensive crap!” Skinner snapped. “Your work is valid, Agent Mulder. It’s not your work that antagonizes people – it’s you. You seem to take that giant chip on your shoulder with you wherever you go. Stop expecting people to take the piss out of you and your work, and you might just find that they’re actually interested in the X Files.”


“That’s fine coming from someone who was never given the nickname Agent Spooky,” Mulder yelled.


“No, I was given the nickname Agent Hardass,” Skinner replied. “You’re not the only one who ever got called names – I took it as a compliment. Look, Fox…” His tone changed to one of infinite patience. “One of the things I’ve learned in life is that people take you at face value. If you present your work as serious, and valid, and explain your methodology and investigative process, you might just find that people are more willing to listen than you’ve ever given them credit for.”


Mulder bit on his lip, staring at the other man uncertainly.


“Your career is more important to you than you’ve ever admitted,” Skinner said softly. “I know it hurts that you went from being the golden boy in the profiling unit, to… what is it you called yourself? ‘The FBI’s most unwanted’, when you took on the X Files. That’s unfair – you’ve done some of your best work on the X Files. I’ve seen the reports to prove it. Now you have to present that work to your peers, and not just ask for their respect – demand it.”


“Is this what I have to do to get my collar back?” Mulder demanded.


Skinner surveyed him for a moment. “No. However the way you conduct yourself during the next week or two will have an effect on that issue.”


“Well then. I don’t have a choice, do I?” Mulder snapped, turning on his heel, opening the door, and wondering whether he dared slam it behind him.


“Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week,” Skinner said softly. “Not just when it suits you, or you want an erotic thrill. You signed the contract – you knew the deal. Now close the door, and get your ass back in this office.”


Mulder considered defying his Master, but he was suddenly acutely aware of the absence of his collar. He couldn’t afford to screw up right now, and he was already half-way there. With a sigh of pure frustration he swung the door shut with a resounding thud, and turned to face the music.


“Time for an attitude adjustment,” Skinner told him. “Go and stand facing the wall, pants around your ankles.”
Mulder swallowed hard. It was mid-morning. He assumed Skinner wasn’t expecting any visitors but all the same…


“Now!” Skinner barked and Mulder needed no further urging. He did as he was told, fumbling to unzip his pants with one hand, the other incapacitated in its sling. He felt a total idiot standing with his bare ass hanging out in his Master’s office, and was relieved when he heard the sound of a key turning in the lock, as Skinner ensured their privacy. At least his humiliation was between himself and his Master now – although he was acutely aware of the faint sounds of people talking and walking in the corridor outside. A few seconds later he heard his Master come up behind him, and clenched his buttocks in anticipation…but nothing happened.


“Open your mouth,” Skinner ordered. Mulder did as he was told, with an inner groan, and a piece of soap was placed on his tongue. “Keep it there,” Skinner said tersely, “and listen carefully. You’re entitled to disagree with me professionally, and you’re entitled to tell me so – politely, but the bottom line is that I’m both your boss and your Master so what I say goes. Understood?”


Mulder nodded, mutely, feeling faintly sickened by the taste of soap.


“All right. Now I can’t give you the spanking you deserve because of your arm, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get off without feeling my ruler across your ass. I want you to hold still while I deliver the punishment you deserve. I do NOT want that arm to move. Understood?” Mulder nodded again, closing his eyes. He felt the hard wood of the ruler on his ass, and then a flash of pain across his buttocks. He rocked slightly, but held position. A second forceful swat drummed the message home, and then Skinner was done. “You can stay there with the soap in your mouth and your ass on display for ten minutes, boy. I don’t want to hear a word out of you,” Skinner said gruffly.


Mulder nodded again. The soap tasted disgusting, and softened by the second in his warm mouth, creating little bubbles that slid down the back of his throat, making him want to retch. His ass burned from the peremptory spanking with the ruler, and he was all too aware that it was on display to his Master, where he sat working at his desk. His ill-considered outburst had won him nothing, and gained him only humiliation and discomfort. He knew he had to learn from it, and not allow his turbulent emotions to get the better of him in future, but it was so hard. The corner time did at least give him the opportunity to cool down – and Mulder was surprised by how much happier he felt when the ten minutes were up.


His Master returned to his side, held out his hand, and ordered Mulder to spit the soap into it, which the slave did eagerly. He remained in position as Skinner disappeared, and returned holding a glass of water, which his slave drank down in one gulp. Only then did Skinner give him permission to do up his pants.
“What do you have to say?” Skinner asked, gazing searchingly at his slave.


“Thank you for taking the time to correct me, Master.” Mulder dropped to his knees, taking care not to move his arm in the process, and kissed his Master’s shiny shoes.


“Good boy.” Skinner said approvingly, helping Mulder stand. He kissed his slave on the cheek, and then escorted him to the door, unlocked it, and smiled at him. “Trust me,” he said, before opening the door and allowing his slave to leave.


Mulder arrived home late. He hadn’t even been sure that he wanted to go home – the day had been too unsettling for that. In fact, when he left the Hoover building he found himself going somewhere else entirely, as his feet, seemingly of their own volition, made their way to Alexandria instead of Crystal City. Mulder stood outside his old apartment, and gazed at it for a long time. It seemed strange being here. He had never come back since entering into his slavery. He had barely even had the time to think about it. He closed his eyes and tried to remember a time when he had called this place ‘home’. He had been free then. Free to come and go as he pleased, answering to nobody. Free to mouth off at his boss without consequence or repercussion, free to run off for days on end, to disobey orders, and expect Skinner and Scully to cover for him. Free…Mulder tried to remember what that had felt like, but all that came to mind were endless long, insomniac nights sitting in front of the TV watching soulless porno videos, not even turned on by them, not even jerking off to them, just watching, mindlessly, trying to find in the rhythms and groans of sex some ritual and order that would help him switch off from his life, and attain some peace. That had been his freedom. Unhappy with his life, and with himself, finding solace in his beloved X Files, or the whip of some unknown top who he would seek out, demand what he needed in order to get off, and then leave, feeling even emptier than when he had arrived. His slavery, despite all its many restrictions, had given him so much more freedom to be what he wanted, and achieve what he needed, than his freedom had ever done. Damn Skinner for being right about work making their Master/slave relationship so much harder. It had been so easy back at the beach house. He thought longingly of those endlessly sunny days and hated work for coming between them, and Skinner for giving him this impossible task, and himself for not being able to deal with this new setback. He tried to remember the last time he had felt like this and what he’d done about it. It had been the time he’d gone out running and come back late. Skinner had chained him to the balcony and spoon-fed him his dinner. Mulder knew he had to figure out a way of dealing with emotions like these, but he wasn’t sure how. One thing he did know, and clung to, was that he trusted his Master, and he wanted to win his collar back. Finally, with a heavy heart, he headed home.


It was late, and Skinner had already eaten.


“Slave.” Skinner looked up as Mulder walked in. Mulder detected the concern and anxiety in his Master’s eyes and his own mood softened, abruptly. It still amazed him that there was anybody in his life who cared what time he got home, where he had been, and how he was feeling. Some instinct in Mulder took over. He went straight to his Master’s side, knelt down, placed his head on Skinner’s lap, and stayed there mutely. Skinner stroked his slave’s hair, but didn’t say a word. It felt good being here. It felt like touching base with what they both were, and with a serenity that had eluded him for most of his life and which he’d found only since becoming Skinner’s slave. It took well over an hour before he felt some kind of peace descend, and then he finally looked up.


“When I got back to my office there was a note from Scully. ‘Mulder – John and I have taken some of the files up to his office on the 3rd floor so that you can have some privacy to work on your speech. Speak to you soon. Scully.’ Mulder recited in a bitter tone, having memorized the note after just one read-through, its words seared on his brain. “John and I,” Mulder mimicked. “John,” he said again, sneeringly. “Agent Dogface and I will be in his office, with your files, Mulder.”


“Fox, what gives with the jealousy?” Skinner took hold of Mulder’s face and looked into his eyes searchingly. “Is it professional, or something else?” Mulder shrugged, and replaced his chin on his Master’s knee. “Let me tell you what I think it is,” Skinner said softly, stroking his hair again. “I’ve watched you and Scully for years. You have a fantastic working relationship but you know, to me it’s always seemed that you treat her like a little sister.” Mulder frowned and glanced up at his Master. “Well you do. You tease her, you run off and leave her, you both joke together, and wind each other up in equal measure. You do everything short of pulling on her braids. You look out for her, like a big brother, and she looks up to you in a way, like a little sister. She’s used to having brothers, and you…I think in many ways you’ve recreated the relationship you had with Samantha with Scully. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing because I don’t think it is. It’s worked for both of you, but I think it’s partly why you’re so upset now. You lost your real sister, and you don’t want to lose Scully too – but you’re not going to, Fox. Or at least you won’t if you don’t push her away.”


“Did I mention today that I love you?” Mulder said, getting up, Skinner’s speech having hit several nerves. “Okay. I do. I might not like you much at the moment, but…” He shrugged. “Spank me,” he requested suddenly. Skinner looked up in surprise. “I need to scream,” Mulder said, “and you told me I could always ask for pain if I wanted it.”


“And I also said that it was at my discretion and I might refuse it,” Skinner replied.


“So you won’t?” Mulder asked, slumping into a chair and gazing at his Master.


“Your scar is still healing. I’d prefer for us to deal with all this without me giving you the kind of long, exhausting, thorough spanking you need to take you down right now. Just how badly do you need the release? What will happen if you don’t get it?” Skinner asked.


Mulder considered this for a moment. “I don’t know. I just wanted distraction, Master. I can’t run with my arm in this damn sling, and I really hate the idea of someone else working on my files, to say nothing of the nightmare of organizing a training seminar of all things.” Mulder shuddered. “Master – did I ever do or say anything to give you the idea that I’d be good at something like this?” He asked in despair. “I mean, that time you tried to send us on that team building seminar…”


“Which you miraculously managed not to attend, somehow locating an X File to pursue in the middle of the woods instead,” Skinner pointed out.


“Exactly. Which should tell you that I’m crap at this kind of thing.”


“No, it tells me that you avoid them. You’ve avoided a lot of things, Fox, and we’ve faced them together since you became my slave. Demons don’t go away unless you look them square in the eye and shoot them down. You’re a brilliant agent, and I want you to get the respect you deserve.”


“I won’t get it. I’ll screw this up,” Mulder said desperately.


“What makes you think that? I’ll help you, and so will Scully – you just need to ask.” Skinner said gently, reaching out to put a hand on his slave’s despondent arm. “Now, you wanted distraction, and with your arm in that sling, and being mindful of Perry’s instructions on keeping it still – the best I can come up with is a DVD.” He retrieved a disc from his briefcase and held it up.


Gladiator?” Mulder commented morosely. “Oh. Great. Men in skirts fighting lions. I can’t wait.”


Two hours later Mulder lay with his head on his Master’s lap, eating popcorn idly from the tub balanced on one of Skinner’s large thighs, utterly engrossed in the movie.


“Y’know, Master,” he commented, as a chained, half-naked, enslaved Russell Crowe dangled at the mercy of a sadistic but beautiful emperor. “I think I might have changed my mind about this movie – although you’d definitely give Russell a run for his money in the arena any day. Hmm, that’s a nice thought.” He grinned and glanced up at his Master, who snorted, and tweaked his slave’s ear by way of reply. “And another thing,” Mulder commented, munching thoughtfully. “The short tunic and chain mail? A seriously good look for you.”




Mulder was allowed to abandon his sling the following day, much to his relief. He also realized that he could organize the majority of the seminar via email, which at least meant he didn’t have to actually talk to Tom Colton, and he spent much of his time locked up in his office trying not to scratch his newly healing chest and the donor site for the skin graft on his abdomen – both of which were combining to drive him crazy. It was hard to concentrate on his speech, although he went through the files for two days searching for relevant material, but he just knew he was going to be laughed off that stage when the time came, and that thought made him sick to the pit of his stomach. He had been able to get by for years by convincing himself he didn’t care what anyone else thought of him or his work, but that was different to standing up in that arena and making himself a target.


“Russell, you had it easy with the lions,” he muttered to himself, as he flicked through his files. He was startled out of his reverie when Scully poked her head around the door a few hours later.


“How’s it going, partner?” she asked brightly, perching on the side of his desk.


“Badly,” Mulder snapped grumpily. “How’s it going with Agent Dog-eared?”


“Fine.” Scully gave a dreamy smile that implied that working with Agent Doggett was more than fine. Mulder made a face.


“But he’s not you,” Scully added hastily. “And it’s taken us three days to solve a case that you’d have cracked in three hours. Without you, there’s nobody to make the leaps of both imagination and faith that always seem to lead to right answer.”


“Well let’s do a swap – you try and bludgeon, trick, or blatantly bribe people into addressing the training seminar, and I’ll investigate the X File with Agent Dodgy,” Mulder offered.


“You’re having trouble finding speakers?” Scully asked, in a sympathetic tone.


“Yeah, hardly anyone replies to my emails, even when I spam them,” Mulder grumbled, “and those that have replied have all said no.”


“Ahem.” Scully coughed pointedly.


Mulder looked at her. “Yes? Am I missing something?” He asked.


“Yes, damn it, ME, Mulder,” she said in an exasperated tone. “You didn’t ask me to address the seminar – I could give a talk on autopsies. I did used to give classes at Quantico on the subject, remember.”


“You’d do that?” Mulder asked, kicking himself for not thinking of it himself.


“You may be completely clueless about some things but you are still my partner,” she chided. “Of course I’ll do it!”


Mulder was on a high as he watched her go, until he realized that he still had 5 more guest speakers to find. Two hours later there was another, firmer knock on his door. Mulder looked up eagerly, expecting to see his Master, but his smile faded when Agent Doggett walked into the room.


“Can I help you?” He asked in a disinterested tone, turning back to his files and ignoring the other man.


“As a matter of fact you can,” Doggett replied. “I’m intending to ask Agent Scully on a date, and I wondered if you had a problem with that.”


Mulder slammed the file he was looking at onto the desk and glared at the other man with barely concealed loathing.


“You’re asking my permission to take Scully out?” He asked incredulously. Was the man serious? Scully would foam at the mouth if she knew.


“No.” Doggett shook his head. “I’m asking if you have a problem with it. I’m still going to ask her out, but you mean a lot to her so I’d like for the two of us to be on good terms.”


Mulder thought about it for a moment, and then got up. He walked over to Doggett, looked him straight in the eye, and then spoke in a low, forceful tone.


“Try as I might, Agent, I haven’t been able to find anyone who has a bad word to say about you – not even your ex-wife which some might think was suspicious of and by itself. All your colleagues respect you, your friends like you, your file speaks about you as if you’re god’s gift to the Bureau…in fact, I’ve only been able to find one person who dislikes you and that’s a certain Herman J. Rochester, currently residing in jail in New York.”


“Herman Rochester?” Doggett looked bemused. “You mean the guy I put away during my last year with the NYPD?”


“Yes.” Mulder nodded. “And I can say quite categorically that he hates you, which, unfortunately, is no bad thing considering he’s a double murderer, and you’re the person who arrested him.”


“Jesus. Scully said you were thorough, but I had no idea,” Doggett said, startled.


“Oh, not as thorough as you – you pursued this guy for 5 years before finally nailing him…so to speak.” Mulder smiled sweetly. “Go ahead, Agent Dogged, ask Scully out, but let me make something clear, in words of one syllable so you understand: You hurt her and you’re dead. Got it?” Mulder wasn’t joking – he meant every word, and Doggett’s eyes flashed in recognition of that fact. Mulder was gratified to see that the other man took his warning as seriously as it had been intended.


“Oh I think so.” Doggett nodded thoughtfully. “You don’t have a lot of friends in the Bureau, do you, Mulder?” He asked out of the blue.


“I don’t have time,” Mulder replied, taken by surprise, his hackles rising defensively.


“Would you have time to join me for a beer after work? I’m a great admirer of your work.” Mulder stared at the other man, open-mouthed. Doggett smiled, and slapped his arm heartily. “I’ll see you later then. Oh, and by the way, Agent Scully tells me that you aren’t having much of a response to your emails for guest speakers?”


“That’s right. Don’t tell me that you came here to volunteer?” Mulder raised a disbelieving eyebrow.


“No, but I would suggest that you actually go and talk to a few people – emails are easier to ignore than the very persistent, very charming, and somewhat legendary Agent Mulder.”


Doggett turned to go and Mulder made a face at his back.


“One more thing, Mulder.” Doggett paused, his hand on the door. “The name thing – knock it off.”
And then he was gone.  


Mulder found, much to his annoyance, that Doggett was right – by pestering various FBI personnel in person and pursuing them with the same relentlessness that he brought to the X Files, he was able to secure all but one of his speakers – and it took his Master to point out that a certain Assistant Director might be able to offer some insight into general crime trends and give the benefit of more than twenty years law enforcement experience if asked. All in all, Mulder was finding that he had more friends than he’d realized.  


Perry came to remove his stitches the following week, although both scars were still covered by dressings, and he was under strict orders not to either touch or look at them – only Skinner was allowed to change the dressings, and Mulder was always ordered to close his eyes during the process. As an added precaution, and an entirely unnecessary one in Mulder’s view, Skinner also blindfolded his slave on each occasion as well. The scars were healing well though, and Perry promised that the dressings could soon come off altogether.  


The scars were the least of his worries though. By the day of the training seminar, Mulder still hadn’t managed to compose a speech that he was happy with. His first attempts failed miserably – just reciting them in the emptiness of his office brought him out in a cold sweat. He was going to get laughed off the dais, and he knew it. It didn’t help that he’d die a death in front of Tom Colton, Scully, Doggett and his own Master, to say nothing of all those agents from every field office in the US, who would be sitting there sniggering at him. Mulder crept out of the apartment early on the day of reckoning, leaving an apologetic note for his Master. He got into his office at 4 am and sat staring at the wall for the best part of an hour, before trying another attempt. His speech was the first one, scheduled for 9 am, with the expectation of kicking the whole day off with some degree of panache – only he knew that he’d fail. Skinner had offered to listen to his speech several times, as had Scully, but Mulder had turned down both offers. He was in desperate trouble, and he knew it. He considered walking out, taking a plane to nowhere – anywhere – and waiting until his Master tracked him down and punished him, but he didn’t dare do that. Somehow he knew that would be the end of it and he could kiss his collar goodbye forever if he did something so stupid. He had confided his fears to his Master, but Skinner just seemed utterly resolute in his belief that Mulder could pull it off. It wasn’t a faith in himself that Mulder shared.


The sound of the phone ringing at 7.00 am startled him out of his reverie.


“I missed my wake up call this morning,” his Master growled.


“Sorry. I…I needed to work on this speech,” Mulder muttered, glancing at the clock. It was too late to work on the damn thing now. In an hour and a half he would have to greet Colton and the visiting agents, and half an hour after that he would die a miserable death in front of hundreds of witnesses, and there was no doubt in his mind as to who the murderer was. It was AD Skinner, in the main lecture hall, with a knife to the back, he thought morosely.


“How’s it going?” Skinner asked.


“The truth? It’s fucking awful. Everything I come up with sounds like something from a really bad documentary about the Paranormal. It’s risible. I’m going to be laughed offstage,” Mulder snapped.


“Calm down,” Skinner said softly.


“I can’t. It’s going to be a total fucking disaster. Colton is still sending me these polite, thinly-veiled, ‘I can’t wait to see you fall on your ass and fail’ emails – I even got one this morning sent before he left, the bastard.”


“I have to go.” Unable to bear even thinking about it for another second, Mulder put the phone down, and then, just to be on the safe side, took the receiver off the hook. He stared at his blank computer screen again, and a few seconds later a little envelope appeared in the bottom right hand corner and a woman’s voice cheerfully announced that he had mail. Mulder thumped his finger down savagely on the keyboard, and brought up the message, then stared at it, numbly, trying to make sense of it. It was from Skinner, the subject header was “You Have Ten Minutes,” and the email itself consisted of one word: Wanda.  


Mulder sat in a state of shock for several seconds. Wanda – his Master was choosing now of all moments, to have a Wanda moment? Where? Here? In the basement? Mulder supposed that was what his Master intended. He racked his brains, trying to remember the original instructions regarding this particular order. His Master had been specific; he was to stop whatever he was doing, find somewhere to bend over, and present himself to his Master. He didn’t recall anything about what to do if the order came via email, but he assumed the original instruction still stood. He wasn’t supposed to go to Skinner – his Master would come to him. Here. Now. At this particular moment in time, just when Mulder wanted to scream and run away to Hawaii, his Master wanted to come down and make use of him. Mulder gave a laugh of near hysteria, and sat slumped in his chair, trying to decide what to do. In truth, there wasn’t much of a decision to make. He had learned, slowly and painfully, to trust his Master. He had never yet obeyed a “Wanda” command without questioning it first, but on each occasion it had somehow been the right thing – and had connected him with his Master in a fundamental way that created a sense of peace and serenity deep inside him. Mulder stood up, took a deep breath, checked there was a key in his office door, and then undid his pants and bent over the desk.


He felt an idiot, waiting, bent over his own desk, his nose pressed against his useless speech notes, enduring the long minutes before his Master came down to take him. Cool air wafted around his ass, and even despite his own nerves, he found the humiliation, and sense of vulnerability a turn on. About five minutes after he had assumed the position, he heard footsteps outside the door, and nearly stood up. Supposing it wasn’t his Master? Supposing it was someone else? He nearly laughed out loud at the idea of someone entering this room and finding him here like this. He’d have to plead insanity. The door clicked open, and he held his breath, waiting for some kind of reaction. The fact that there was none reassured him that this was his Master, and a few seconds later a whiff of cologne confirmed that fact – he’d know his Master’s scent anywhere. Mulder heard the sound of a key turning in the lock but Skinner didn’t speak. Mulder almost jumped out of his skin as big hands slapped his ass, and then began to caress his butt cheeks. Mulder rested his face on his arms. Oh god, this couldn’t be happening to him. His Master was going to take him in his own office, on his own desk. He was going to enter him hard and fast and use him, as was the custom when this particular command had been issued.  


Mulder felt his cock hardening. He was a slave. He belonged to his Master who had absolute authority and control over his body. He had given up everything to the man who was standing behind him, and who could enter him whenever he pleased, and take whatever he required from his slave. Mulder trembled as he heard the sound of a zip, and then felt rough wool against his bare buttocks. His ass was pulled open, and he felt the warm, familiar sensation of his Master’s cock entering him easily. He gave a gasp, and moved his bottom back to help his Master thrust deep into his body. It felt so good. It felt so right to be here, reminded of who he was, at his most basic and fundamental level. He belonged to this man. He loved this man. Skinner’s hands caressed his slave roughly, and his body was large and reassuring, his breath warm on the back of Mulder’s neck. His thrusts were hard, giving Mulder no time to draw breath between each one. His rhythm was almost savage, as he plunged deep into Mulder’s body, making his slave gasp with both pleasure and pain with each controlled but brutal thrust. Mulder started to pant, his body alive with sensation. He was his Master’s slave. He existed to serve. His body was responding to his Master’s touch as it always did, aroused beyond belief by the total mastery Skinner was exerting over his slave. Mulder forgot the seminar, forgot his speech, and Tom Colton, and was simply Fox, his Master’s beloved, eager slave, and he welcomed the other man’s large cock into his body, lost in the joy of being used, of having his prostate stimulated, and of knowing that his own weeping cock would be ignored and neglected by his dominant lover. Skinner went slowly, leisurely, speeding up, and then slowing down again, maddening in his total control of both his own body and that of his slave. Just when Mulder thought he was about to pass out, he felt his Master’s convulsion inside his body, and then Skinner finished, and withdrew, leaving his slave still lying on his desk. He heard his Master zip up his pants, and felt Skinner’s handkerchief, mopping up the semen that was trickling down his slave’s legs, and then Skinner slapped Mulder’s ass, jolting him back to reality.


“Turn around, boy, and face your Master,” Skinner said in a low, sexy growl. Mulder did as ordered, his pants still around his ankles. “You’re mine, boy. You belong to me,” Skinner said urgently. Mulder nodded, gazing at his Master, completely transfixed. “You bear my mark on your body,” Skinner said. Mulder nodded again. “Let me show you how completely you belong to me.” Skinner’s hands went to the small dressing over the scar on Mulder’s lower abdomen, from where the skin for the graft had been taken. Mulder held his breath as the dressing was removed. “You can look,” Skinner said, in a husky voice. “You haven’t needed the dressing for a few days but I wanted to wait for the right moment to reveal this to you.” Mulder exhaled his breath, hardly daring to look down. When he did, he saw a perfect, thin ‘M’.


“Looking down, to your eyes it reads ‘M’ – for Master,” Skinner said, tracing his finger over the scar. “But to me, looking at it face on standing opposite you, it reads ‘W’ – my initial. And you’ll note it’s pointing directly towards this.” He took Mulder’s hard cock in his hand, and squeezed lightly. Mulder almost passed out. “That’s because this cock belongs to your Master, Walter Skinner. It’s mine.”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder swallowed hard. “It’s perfect, Master.”


“Yes it is, boy. Perfect – just like my slave. Now come here.” Skinner pulled Mulder forward, and kissed him hard on the lips, holding him close. Mulder’s arms snaked around his Master’s back, and held him tight in return, never wanting to let go. When Skinner had finished, he released his slave, bent his head, and gently kissed the ‘W’ shaped scar. “Perfect.” Skinner pulled Mulder’s pants up, and buttoned them, and then looked his slave in the eye. “It’s nearly time. I’m going to be walking into that hall beside you, and you are going to show the world why my slave is the best damn agent this institution has ever had.”


“Yes, Master.” Somehow it wasn’t even a command – it was a statement of fact. Mulder didn’t bother with his notes. He allowed his Master to usher him out of his office, and propel him along the corridor to the elevator. They rode up to the 4th floor in silence, and when the doors opened they were met by dozens of bodies crowding towards the hall, queuing noisily to get in.


“Agent Mulder.”


Mulder stiffened. He knew that voice. Colton. Skinner’s hand came down reassuringly on his shoulder and he turned – to find himself looking at a man he barely recognized. Tom Colton’s face was badly disfigured – he’d lost an eye, and the whole of the right side of his face was lopsided, and scarred. Mulder tried not to stare, but it was a shock.


“Yeah, take a good look. People always seem to need to. I was caught up in a shoot-out in a case I was investigating a couple of years back. It was my own fault. I had a certain level of arrogance about my own mortality,” Colton said, with a strangely twisted grin. “Nerves down the right hand side have gone,” he added, by way of explanation.


“I’m sorry.” Mulder shook the other man’s hand.


“No need. It was a while back. I’ve gotten used to kids asking me weird questions and pointing in the street. Getting used to my own son cowering away from me when I went to kiss him goodnight was harder.” Colton shrugged. “I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of a seminar you have planned for us, Mulder.” His good eye gleamed with a certain anticipatory relish.


“It’ll be good,” Mulder said firmly.


“Well, I’m sure it’ll be educational, one way or another,” Colton chuckled, his speech rendered slightly slurred by his injury. He stalked off into the hall, following the last of the waiting agents.


“There but for the grace of god,” Mulder murmured.


“The same goes for all of us,” Skinner told him. “But you handled him a lot better than you did last time the two of you met, I think.”


“I don’t know why, but his injury somehow gave us some common ground. He seemed less confrontational,” Mulder shrugged. “I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy as well. However much of a jerk he was, he didn’t deserve that. He still thinks I’m crazy though, and he’s just waiting for me to make an ass of myself in that hall.”
“And you’re going to prove him wrong.” Skinner’s reassuring hand propelled Mulder towards the lecture hall. “Just remember what you are, and what’s on your body,” Skinner hissed in Mulder’s ear, as they entered the hall. Mulder felt a warm glow start in his cock, and rise up into the scar of his lower abdomen, where his Master’s initial was carved; ‘M’ for Master when looked down upon from above, ‘W’ for Walter when looked at face on. It was perfect.  


Skinner left him, and went to sit down, and the room quieted expectantly, as Mulder made his way to the dais. He stood at the lectern for a moment, surveying the crowd. The hall was full. He could see Colton, sitting in the front row, and a few rows behind Scully was sitting next to Agent Doggett, their hands so close as to be almost touching. A few of his old colleagues from the Profiling Department were here, and there, right in the very center of the crowd, was his Master, his broad shoulders taking up more space than anyone else. He gave Mulder a little nod, and his slave found his mouth opening.


“I want to welcome you to the Annual Training Seminar. I’m sure you’ve all heard of me. My name is Agent Spooky Mulder, and I’m head of the X Files Department.” There was a shocked silence, and then people began to laugh. It was just a small ripple, but it broke the ice, and Mulder started to warm up. “Some of what you’ll hear today will surprise you, some of it will shock you – if I do it right, some it might even scare you.” Another little ripple of laughter. Mulder realized, with some surprise, that the room was on his side. They wanted to like him.


“I want you to bear in mind that all the case files I present to you today are actual, recorded crimes. They were investigated using Bureau procedures, and they were signed off by the Assistant Director in charge of Criminal Investigations.” He caught his Master’s eye, and basked for a moment in the warmth of the other man’s acknowledging nod. Whatever the audience thought of Spooky Mulder, there was no way that anybody would ever poke fun at AD Skinner. Nobody would dare.


“They may seem spooky, but they aren’t science fiction,” Mulder continued. Each of these cases was solved only because I am lucky enough to work with the best forensic pathologist in the FBI – namely Dr Dana Scully.”


A nod in Scully’s direction, and he saw the startled expression in her blue eyes, and then the little smile as her loyalty and help over the years was rewarded by his high praise.


“Her rigorous scientific methodology cannot be disputed – my own contribution was less standard, but I hope it will show the importance of following your instincts as well as the hard facts, when conducting any investigation – however mundane.” Mulder paused. The audience was silent, their gazes rapt. He realized suddenly that they were fascinated by the X Files. The notoriety of his department had clearly spread throughout the FBI and these people, who had only heard of his exploits second or third hand, via the FBI gossip mill, now had a chance to see for themselves exactly who Agent Spooky was, and what his department actually did. Mulder had a unique opportunity to show the world exactly why his work was important. He leaned on the lectern, pressed his hand against his scar, and began a speech of such brilliance, insight and candor, that it would be talked about in the corridors of the Hoover building for years. He wasn’t sure whether the assembled agents believed half of what he presented to them, but they sure as hell were relieved that instead of the usual dry and dull speech on procedure and methodology, they got a sparkling discourse on the Paranormal, and they loved him for that alone. When he finally ran out of words, two and a half hours later, and asked if there were any questions, there was a stunned silence for thirty seconds, and then 200 hands went up into the air. Mulder grinned, and it was then that he caught his Master’s gaze. Skinner was sitting with his hands on his knees, an expression of total and utter pride on his face, and a wide smile on his lips. Mulder nodded to his Master and they shared a moment in which they could have been alone, in this hall full of hundreds of people. Skinner had made Mulder’s acceptance possible by forcing his slave to believe. If he could have done, Mulder would have gone down on his knees there and then in front of his Master and kissed the other man’s feet in silent adoration. As it was, he just placed his hand briefly but pointedly over his wedding ring, and smiled.  


The rest of the day passed in a blur. Mulder was dimly aware of Scully being surrounded by people during the recess, all of them eagerly asking her questions. He vaguely recalled later that Skinner gave a thought-provoking speech on criminal trends, punctuated by the dry wit that was so rarely in evidence in the Assistant Director but which was a hallmark of his Master. He treasured forever the memory of Tom Colton shaking his hand, a new respect in his eyes, muttering something about Mulder having “come a long way”, and he was even able to have an animated discussion with his old nemesis on the subject of profiling serial killers, even if they did disagree fundamentally but politely on several major points. Then suddenly it was over, and he was standing, lost and alone, in an empty hall, all the agents having departed. He looked around, and ran his hand over the lectern, smiling softly. It had been the scene of a triumph he had never expected to experience.


“I have one more question for you, Agent Mulder,” a voice at the very back of the hall said. Mulder glanced up, surprised. He had thought he was alone. He saw his Master emerge from the shadows at the back, and walk down to the dais where his slave stood.


“You have a question, sir?” he asked, devouring his Master’s broad frame hungrily with his eyes.


“Yes, Agent Mulder.” Skinner got up onto the dais beside his slave, looked Mulder in the eye, leaned in close and whispered: “Who would you like to invite to your collaring ceremony, Fox?”


“My collaring…?” Mulder repeated stupidly, and then it sank in. “You’re giving me my collar back?”


“Yes. You’ve earned it. There were moments when you almost screwed up, but you pulled through each time. I never expected you to be perfect, just to trust me, to learn from your mistakes, and to try. I was as proud as I knew I’d be watching you speak today, and I want to proclaim to the whole world that this slave is mine – my collared slave.” Skinner said, his voice full of a possessive kind of pride.


“When?” Mulder croaked, his fingers going to his neck, tracing the line where his collar should be.


“Soon. How about the weekend after next?”


“Sounds good to me…or – the weekend after that is my birthday,” Mulder said. “Maybe we could combine the two?”


“No.” Skinner smiled mysteriously. “I have something else planned for your birthday, boy. Besides, I want you collared as soon as possible. Now, collaring is a big event so you can invite any of our scene friends you want to witness it – remember that they will also witness your punishment, so that might have a bearing on your decision.”


“I don’t want many people there.” Mulder shrugged. “I want it to just be our close friends. Ian, Perry, Elaine, David, Murray, Hammer…” he reeled off.


“Okay. Now, my second question is – what do you want to wear?”


“Wear?” Mulder felt as if his brain was a fog. The day’s events had barely sunk in and here was his Master asking him all these questions.


“I think your collaring should have a costumed theme. We could ask our guests to dress up too. I suspect they’d enjoy that, knowing them as I do.” Skinner grinned. “It’s your day, boy – your collaring – so you can choose the theme.”


“Does this mean I get to choose what you wear?” Mulder asked.


Skinner’s eyes narrowed. “Within reason,” he said cautiously.


“Oh well then, I think I have the perfect theme,” Mulder said, a wide grin splitting his face from side to side. “You see, being up here today…” he waved his arm around the dais expansively, “was like being in the arena – thrown to the lions.” He gestured in the direction of the rows of seats where the audience had sat. “And as I think you’d look pretty hot in a tunic and chain mail, I’m going for a Gladiator theme.”


Skinner looked at him steadily for a long time. Mulder stared him out.


“Okay,” his Master said finally. “Gladiator…Fine.” He gave a decidedly sadistic smile. “As I recall, in the movie, the gladiator was the slave, and the Emperor,” he stressed the word with a purr, “was therefore his Master. The Emperor wore a very nice robe I think…while it was the slave who wore the very short tunic…You know, slave,” he slung an arm around Mulder’s shoulder and escorted him to the door, “I think this will prove to be an excellent choice of theme.”


Mulder laughed out loud. He didn’t care – he bore his Master’s mark on his body, he had just put his career back on track, his Master was proud of him, and most of all – most of all he was soon going to be a collared slave again. Life was sweet.  


With the seminar over, and his wounds healed, Mulder was back in charge of the X Files again. He saw Doggett off his territory quickly and efficiently, without any qualms whatsoever. He had nothing against the other man but it was early days yet, and he hadn’t made up his mind whether he liked Scully’s new boyfriend or not. As far as he was concerned, the jury was still out. The next two weeks dragged by interminably. Mulder found that as the big day approached he was torn between the joyful anticipation of being a collared slave again, and his fear of the public punishment he would have to endure before he was given his collar back.


“Have you thought about how you wish to be punished?” Skinner asked, the night before the Collaring, as they lay in bed. Mulder was sweaty, after a long, kinky and extremely thorough bout of love making which had left him completely exhausted – as he was sure was his Master’s intention. He shifted in the other man’s arms, trying to catch a glimpse of his Master’s inscrutable face.


“Yes,” he said finally. “Have you thought about how you’ll punish me when it’s your turn, Master?” He asked in return.


“Yes.” Skinner stroked his slave’s body affectionately. He didn’t volunteer any further information. Mulder bit on his lip. “Don’t worry about it.” Skinner put his fingers over Mulder’s mouth, to stop the chewing.


“I’m going to look a total ass in front of our friends,” Mulder murmured.


“No, on the contrary. They’ll admire you for taking your punishment and wiping the slate clean. It doesn’t matter if scream, or cry – just as long as you willingly take what you’re due.”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder’s voice was almost a whisper.


“I’ll take you to where you need to be,” Skinner said reassuringly. “I’ll be in charge of the evening – you just need to do as you’re told.”


They spent the next day preparing for their guests, and at 6 pm both took showers, and then got dressed in the clothes that Donald and Elliott had made specifically for the event. Mulder had to admit that Skinner looked magnificent in his embroidered purple cloak, although his Master had refused to allow his slave to help him dress, which concerned Mulder. His own attire was a denim blue tunic with a wide leather belt, which he donned with a sigh – although he had to concede that Russell Crowe had managed to retain his dignity while wearing the same outfit. He examined the scar on his chest before getting dressed. The final stitches had come out, and the appearance of the scar had been greatly improved. It was no longer an ugly, ridged mess, and was now smooth, and even in appearance, and there was no trace of the “AK” anywhere. The skin graft had taken, leaving him with a much smaller, neater scar. He could live with this much better – especially as it had left him with that beautiful ‘W’ just above his cock. He loved that mark, and often traced it with his finger just before he fell asleep. It had been worth going through the events of Seattle in order to end up with such a perfect mark on his body. He was still determined to be branded, but his new scar was very satisfying in the meantime.  


Elaine was the first of their guests to arrive. Mulder took her coat, his head down, unspeaking, staying in the deep submission his Master had insisted upon to get his slave into the right frame of mind for the event ahead. Elaine looked beautiful – she was wearing her gold hair in little ringlets down the side of her face, and she was clothed in a beautiful, floating silk dress, bound with satin ties that criss-crossed her body. Her sub, David, was dressed only in a loincloth, and removed his shoes when he entered the apartment, following his Mistress around barefoot. Murray and Hammer came in the most exotic outfits – a long, bright robe for Murray, complete with head-dress, and full Roman centurion regalia for Hammer.


“I’m the Oliver Reed character!” Murray announced in his booming voice, swanning around the room theatrically, and brandishing a wooden sword. Ian showed up in a tunic much like Mulder’s, which made the agent feel much happier, and Perry arrived late, wearing what was clearly a halfhearted attempt at a toga.


“I haven’t seen the film,” Perry said with his usual laid-back shrug. “Will this do?” Ian rolled his eyes, and Mulder tried not to laugh. Somehow Perry never quite ‘got’ the whole fantasy role playing side of lifestyle, although he was always happy enough to play at it to keep his partner amused.


“Friends, Romans, Countrymen…” Murray proclaimed, to everybody’s snorts of derision.


“We don’t have any ears to spare,” Elaine interrupted. “We’re lending them to Walter.” She coughed pointedly, and a silence fell on the room as Skinner held up his hands. Mulder went to kneel beside his Master in the submissive position, head down, shoulders back.


“Thank you all for coming. As you know, this is a special day, and we wanted to share it with you, our closest friends in the lifestyle. Fox and I have been through difficult times, but we want to put that behind us, and renew our contracts. As you all know, Fox gave up the right to wear a collar a couple of months ago, and today, I’m giving him back that right. He’s aware that he screwed up, and he’s also aware that in doing so, he upset and inconvenienced you – our friends. If you’d like to accompany us to the Playroom, I’ve arranged for Fox to undergo the kind of closure he requires before he can be collared, and move on. Follow me.”

Mulder followed his Master, his knees trembling in anticipation. He dreaded the thought of the public punishment, but at the same time, he was dying to get his collar back. Skinner hadn’t allowed him to help prepare the Playroom, and his heart did a little flip of sheer terror as he saw that there was a spanking horse in the center of the room, beside a table containing a variety of implements. Several chairs were arranged around this little tableau.


“Please take your seats,” Skinner said, gesturing. Mulder was glued to his Master’s side. He followed wherever Skinner walked, and knelt whenever the big man stopped for a moment. When everyone was settled, Skinner looked down on his slave.


“Fox – remove your belt and tunic,” he ordered in low voice.


Mulder swallowed hard, and then did as he had been told. He had been naked in front of these people before but that didn’t make it any easier. However, what happened next surprised him. Skinner reached up, unbuttoned the long robe he was wearing, and allowed it to fall away – revealing that underneath he was bare-chested save for a metal harness and breastplate that looked as if it could have come straight from the film. He was wearing a pair of tight leather trousers and his arms were adorned with thick leather bracelets, which again, looked startlingly authentic. Mulder stared at his Master, lost in wordless adoration. Skinner smiled, and tousled his slave’s hair.


“I drew the line at wearing a tunic, but I think you maybe had something like this in mind when you made your original suggestion – yes?” Skinner asked. Mulder nodded wordlessly, still lost in rapt adoration. His Master looked nothing short of magnificent. Skinner turned back to his audience.


“You’ve been invited here because you’ve all suffered, in varying degrees, as a result of Fox’s actions in Seattle,” Skinner said. “For that reason, you are each requested to select an implement to be used to punish him with, and a number of strokes you feel appropriate for the crime. Elaine – if you’d like to go first. Fox – please outline to Elaine what injury she suffered as a result of your actions.”


Mulder hung his head, and swallowed again, sure that his voice would desert him. He knew that on some deep level he both wanted and needed this, but it didn’t make it any easier.


“I’m sorry, Elaine. I know you had to give up a lot of your time to help nurse me.” Mulder’s voice was barely more than a whisper.


“Mulder, I care about you, and I was so worried.” Elaine lifted his face, and kissed his forehead tenderly. “I’m your friend – I was more than happy and willing to give up my time to help you. I don’t think any punishment is required.”
Skinner cleared his throat, and Elaine sighed. “Very well, darling. If it’ll make you feel better – 2 with the paddle, Walter.”


Skinner nodded. Mulder was about to argue that this was hardly sufficient, but his Master’s stern expression made him change his mind. It was clear that Skinner was going to give Mulder exactly what was ordered, nothing more, nothing less, and would do nothing to make the punishments either more or less severe than requested. Mulder quickly got into place over the horse and waited for his retribution, the back of his legs trembling as he tried to stand still. His face was flushed a deep red – in his position his ass was on display to the whole room. He felt the paddle rest on his ass, and then his Master swung it forward – hard, and without giving Mulder any warm up or preparation first. Mulder received his two blows without making a sound. Skinner didn’t hold back on the swats – they were firm and delivered at a cracking pace, but there were only two. Afterwards, he placed a soothing hand on his slave’s back, stroked him for a second, and then told him he could get up. Mulder went to Elaine, and kissed her feet.


“Thank you,” he said.


“No problem, my dear boy. I’m just so glad you came back to us safely!” She exclaimed, pulling him into a warm hug.


“Ian next,” Skinner said. Mulder took a deep breath. Ian was his closest male friend and this was a hard thing to have to do.


“Ian, I’m sorry – I know I worried you, and you had to give up time to nurse me as well,” Mulder said. He felt stupid to be kneeling before Ian, but he knew Skinner would allow him to get away with nothing less.


“Hey, old buddy. I’m with Elaine. I was happy to help and I don’t think you need to be punished either, but in order that Walter doesn’t get mad at me, I’ll go for 2 swats with the strap.” He grinned cheekily, and Mulder managed a wan smile in return. He lowered himself over the spanking horse again, and took his 2 firm swats without complaint, then returned to kiss Ian’s feet and thank him for the punishment.


“It’s enough to make me want to run off and be bad just to end up in this kind of horny scene,” Ian whispered, just loud enough for only he and Mulder to hear. Mulder couldn’t smile in return though. It might be a hot scene for Ian, but for Mulder it was deadly serious. He wasn’t getting off on this – he knew he deserved punishment, and he needed to receive it in order to get his closure, and to feel that he had truly earned his collar back.


“Murray and Hammer were inconvenienced because they had planned to use their beach house and had to give up their time there to us instead,” Skinner said. Mulder looked up in surprise – he hadn’t realized that.


“Oh, we can go there any old time.” Murray waved his hand expansively in the air. “We were just pleased to be able to give young Fox here a place to rest up and get well.” He gave his wide beaming smile, his white teeth gleaming through his salt and pepper beard.


“Nonetheless, you were inconvenienced,” Skinner said firmly.


“Give the boy two with the crop,” Murray said.


“Four,” Hammer corrected. Mulder exchanged a look of recognition with his fellow sub; Hammer knew how much he needed this – and that it needed to count.


“Four.” Skinner nodded, and Mulder returned to the horse. The crop hurt most – it stung deep into his butt and he knew he’d have a welt or two as a result. Still the punishment hadn’t been bad enough to make him scream or cry yet.


“Finally, Perry.” Skinner pointed, and Mulder went to kneel in front of the affable doctor.


“Perry, you’ve been amazing,” he said. “From applying first aid when I flipped, to the skin graft.”


“I don’t want to see the boy punished any more,” Perry said to Walter over Mulder’s head, as usual not quite understanding.


“Nonetheless, Fox must be punished,” Skinner said mercilessly. “May I suggest 6 with the cane?”
Perry exchanged a long look with Skinner, and then sighed heavily.


“Very well, Walter, if you must,” he said.


Skinner nodded at Mulder who walked back to the spanking horse in some trepidation, dreading that his Master would use the dragon cane. He didn’t. Instead he used a thin, whippy cane that certainly stung a good deal, but still it didn’t bring Mulder to tears. Mulder thanked Perry, and then turned back to his Master.


“All right, Fox. The next person is you,” Skinner said.


There was a little rustle from the assembled crowd. Mulder took a deep breath, and faced his Master.


“I screwed up big time, Master. I knowingly placed myself in physical danger, I gave up the one thing that meant everything to me – the ring you gave me, and I ran away from the one person who has ever…meant something to me.” He bit down on his lip. This was the hardest thing he’d ever done.


“Your punishment?” Skinner asked, in a curiously gentle tone.


“The bullwhip, Master. Twenty lashes,” Mulder said firmly. He had thought about this at some length, and he knew this was the least he deserved for the way he had so nearly ruined his life forever. There was a little gasp from the audience, but Skinner said nothing. He just turned, went to the cupboard, and retrieved the bullwhip, which had not been among the items on the table. Mulder took a deep breath, and got up, then started to walk to the whipping post at the far end of the room.


“Not there, Fox.” Skinner clicked his fingers, calling him back to his side.


“Master?” Mulder frowned, confused.


“There are more ways to use this than against a post. I’m an expert with it, and I would prefer to make this a more intimate experience – for both of us. And as I’m in charge of this punishment, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Come here.”


Mulder went, still confused, and he was even more confused when Skinner cleared a wide space in the center of the room, and then drew his slave into his arms so that he was facing him. “Put your arms around my waist and hold on tight,” Skinner ordered. Still puzzled, Mulder did as he was told. His Master smelled of leather and sweat and sheer physical dynamism. Mulder buried his face in Skinner’s neck, wondering what would happen next. “The angle is awkward, but it still packs a punch,” Skinner said, looking into his slave’s eyes. “Ready, little one?”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder closed his eyes. He heard Skinner raise his right arm, and a few seconds later there was a loud crack, followed by a sharp sting as the whip blazed a fiery trail over his buttocks. He gave a gasp and bucked against his Master.


“All right?” Skinner’s brown eyes were impossibly close, and his left arm was clasped firmly around Mulder’s waist. Mulder wasn’t even entirely sure how Skinner had managed to deliver that stroke, but it had been very effective.


“Yes, Master,” Mulder whispered.


“Good. Then we’ll continue.”


The strokes burned – there was no other way to describe them. Mulder dreaded the hiss of the whip, and the sharp crack as it made contact with his flesh, and yet the pain was fast, and faded quickly. His Master gave him time to recover from each lick, his big arm holding Mulder up. It was so intimate a punishment, and so lovingly delivered, that Mulder almost forgot that it was intended to be a punishment. It filled him with wonder that his Master had taken a retribution Mulder had intended to be extreme, and turned it into this experience of devotion instead. He forgot about the room, and forgot about the witnesses. There was just him and his Master, standing with the arms entwined, awaiting each of those burning, cracking licks. Mulder started to cry out, his whole body twitching, when the number of strokes reached six. It hurt, each stinging lick building into a crescendo of pain, but that wasn’t why he was crying. The position in which Skinner had chosen to deliver these licks, facing his slave, holding him up, meant that his Master couldn’t get the swing he’d have achieved at the post. That prevented the punishment from being anywhere near as severe as Mulder had wanted, and it was that fact that was making him cry. His Master was telling him he loved him, and that he would be kinder on Mulder than his slave was on himself. After each lick, his Master looked at his slave, and asked him if he was all right, and each time Mulder nodded, and buried his face in his Master’s neck again, to await the next lick. All the same, it was a hard whipping to endure. The bullwhip was still a formidable instrument of discipline. Mulder found himself holding on tighter as each stroke bit home on his already sore buttocks. His Master’s left arm held him up, his big body firm and unyielding, something for Mulder to cling on to. Mulder’s breath hitched with each successive stroke, until he was gasping out loud, and flailing against his Master for support towards the end. There was a moment when, lost in the sheer cutting pain of that whip across his ass, he considered begging the other man to stop, but he knew that Skinner would remain strong when he was not. His Master seemed to see the weakness in his slave’s eyes.


“Four more.” Skinner said, pausing for a moment, and shaking the whip out. Mulder nodded, trembling, sweat soaking into his hair. “You can stand them. I know you think that you can’t right now, but I’ll be here, beside you. I’ll make you take them,” Skinner said softly. 


Mulder swallowed, and nodded, reassured by his Master’s words. Each lick was unerringly accurate, slaking across the bare flesh of his buttocks, hurting, and yet cleansing at the same time. When the twenty were up, Skinner threw the bullwhip down, and held his slave tight, caressing his trembling body.  Mulder surrendered himself to those strong arms, seeking a short respite from the punishment. His buttocks felt as if they were burning up. He glanced over his shoulder to see that his ass was colored the brightest shade of red he’d ever seen.


“Okay, that’s all over. You must forgive yourself now – that’s the rule, Fox. You have to forgive yourself,” Skinner told him. “Do you understand me?”


“It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. You didn’t punish me as much as I deserved,” Mulder said, too softly for anyone but his Master to hear.


“No – but it was a hard punishment all the same. You’ll bear those marks for a few days. Now, do you forgive yourself?” Skinner demanded. Mulder took a deep breath and then nodded. The memory of that intimate whipping would stay with him for a long time.


“All right. My turn now.” Skinner went and sat in the throne. “Come here.” He beckoned. Mulder went, oblivious of the witnesses, just needing to make things right between himself and his Master. He kneeled in front of the big man, and then began to speak.


“I’m sorry, Master, for running away, for allowing another man to hurt me, for giving you back your ring, and for hitting you. I’m sorry for being such a total fucking idiot and…” His words were stopped when Skinner placed his fingers over his slave’s mouth.


“You know how I feel about name-calling,” Skinner warned. Mulder nodded. “All right. Over my knee,” Skinner ordered.


“What implement are you going to use, Master?” Mulder asked, wondering how much more his sore buttocks could take. They already felt as if they were on fire but he would have willingly endured it even if his Master had insisted on 50 cuts with the cane.


“The best implement of all – my hand,” Skinner said.


He pulled Mulder into position, and ran his hand lovingly over his slave’s burning buttocks for a minute, and then began to spank. There was no warm up – each hard swat connected with a painful sting, and Mulder soon realized that his Master intended this spanking to be in deadly earnest. Mulder couldn’t escape the relentless power of that hand as it covered every single inch of his already sore buttocks. He was already too close to tears to hold them back, and was soon crying like a child over his Master’s knee, screaming something pathetically at the top of his voice – he wasn’t sure what. The spanking was both long and memorable, as Mulder needed it to be, to atone for all he had done on that night in Seattle. He needed to feel that he deserved his collar, and that his Master had punished him significantly enough to wipe out the crime. Skinner didn’t fail him that respect. Mulder stopped crying at some point, and just lay there, blindly accepting what his Master was meting out. His Master had taken him down to a place where he was completely serene, and at peace. Later would come the euphoria, the high of the endorphins, but first he experienced the strange, otherworldliness of total submission to someone else’s will. He wasn’t even aware that it had stopped, but reality slowly crept back in, and he suddenly realized that his Master wasn’t spanking him any more, but was stroking him gently instead, soothing him, and talking to him in a low, gentle tone. After several minutes, he was helped to his feet, and his Master silently handed him a handkerchief. Mulder managed a faint smile as he rubbed his red, tear-stained cheeks with it.


“It’s all done, Fox. We’re done. Over. We can go forward now,” Skinner said softly, drawing his slave close, and placing an arm around him to lead him back over to their audience. “Thank you for being a witness to Fox’s punishment,” Skinner told them. He turned his slave to display his thoroughly punished butt, and Mulder’s face cheeks turned the same color as his ass cheeks, although the only sound from the audience was a sigh in appreciation of what had been a beautiful, tender scene between Master and slave. Skinner turned his slave to face him again, and looked him in the eye. “I think you’ve earned your collar now. Kneel, Fox.” Mulder knelt, holding his breath. His legs felt unsteady beneath him, and he hoped he wouldn’t make an ass of himself by falling over. He was sweaty, but curiously satisfied, the endorphins racing in, making him dizzy, but contented.


His Master stood behind him, and then Mulder felt something large, and dark against his throat. He looked up in surprise – this wasn’t his slender gold collar.


“I decided that in order to mark this special day, I’d have a new collar made for you. This one will be for special occasions only,” Skinner said, buckling the collar around Mulder’s throat. Mulder put up his hand and felt the shiny surface. The new collar was made of dark burgundy-brown leather, and smelled delicious. There was a small tag on it. Mulder traced the engraving – it spelled out the word slave, in fine, italic lettering. “I’ll use this collar when I want you to fully appreciate your slavery – and I might, occasionally, make you wear it when we go out – covered by a scarf or sweater of course, but you and I will both know it’s there,” Skinner said with a smile.


Mulder grinned back. “It’s beautiful, Master,” he whispered.


“Now, for your old collar.” Skinner held up the slender gold chain. “You’ll wear this day and night – and never remove it from this day forward. Understood?”


“Yes, Master.” Mulder closed his eyes as Skinner fastened the flat gold chain around his neck. It hung lower than the collar, and felt right, nestled cold and familiar against his collarbones. Mulder realized just how much he had missed it.


“One more thing, before we finish this ceremony,” Skinner said softly. “I’ve noticed how on occasion you call me Walter. I haven’t corrected you, because you’ve only used my name at times when it’s been appropriate. However, as this is day of gifts, and as you have so freely accepted the gift of punishment, I’m going to give you one more gift. You may use my given name at your own discretion without worrying about correction.”


Mulder gave what he was sure was a pathetically goofy smile. He was quite content to call Skinner ‘Master’ but being given permission to use his Master’s given name held great significance for him. There was something intimate about it, something that spoke of permanence, and a level of connection that was both fundamental and profound.


“Thank you – Walter,” he whispered. Skinner smiled, drew his newly collared slave to his feet, and pulled Mulder into a long, slow, healing kiss.


“Welcome home, slave,” Skinner said, when he finally released him. “It’s good to have you back.”


The little group of witnesses gathered around to examine his new collar, and David, Hammer and Ian also showed a healthy level of interest in his thoroughly punished buttocks as well.


“That’s so going to hurt tomorrow when the high’s gone,” Ian said with the air of an expert, tracing a finger over a welt, much to Mulder’s chagrin. “You certainly won’t be sitting easily any time soon.”


“Your Master is very skilled. I’ve never seen that trick with the bullwhip before – I must ask him to show me how it’s done,” David commented.


“You’d never use a bullwhip on Elaine would you?” Mulder asked, astonished.


“Of course not – but my Mistress sometimes requires me to punish her other subs. It’s a duty I enjoy.” David smiled a peaceful smile, utterly enraptured by his role in life. Mulder envied him. It was a state he only managed to achieve occasionally, but he loved it when he did.


“I wanted to thank you for making me take the extra strokes with the crop,” Mulder told Hammer, leading the little group out into the lounge, where food and drink was laid out waiting for them.


“No problem. I understood how you were feeling back there – and what you needed. Ian’s right though. That was very thorough and painful discipline,” Hammer said, glancing at Mulder’s glowing backside.


“It needed to be.” Mulder shrugged, pulling his tunic on quickly. His bottom had received more than enough attention for one evening in his opinion.


“You’re lucky that you have a Master who understands that.” Ian glanced regretfully at Perry who was sitting on the couch, laughing with Elaine. “Not that he’s not great,” Ian amended quickly. “Just that it isn’t his kink really so he just goes along with it for me half the time. I just wish that he was a bit more, well…masterful,” he sighed. “Like Walter.”


“Are you and Perry okay?” Mulder asked.


“Yes. Fine. I’m just pissed off with him because he’s going away for six weeks – something to do with work.” Ian shrugged. “He can’t help it, but I’m missing him in advance and taking it out on him. Unfortunately he’s so laid back that I don’t think he’s even noticed I’m sulking yet!”


“Talking of masters – does anyone know how it’s working out for that kid who got bought at the slave auction?” Hammer asked. “The one there was all the fuss about? Lee wasn’t it?”


“Don’t know. Don’t care.” Mulder helped himself to some food. Lee wasn’t exactly his favorite person in the world.


“We haven’t seen much of them on the scene,” Ian said. “Last time I saw them, Lee didn’t look so good. I asked him if he needed any help but he shook his head. He looked terrified though. I wish he’d let me help him. I know some of what Franklin will have been putting him through.” He took a deep gulp of his drink, and Mulder remembered the night his friend had knocked on their door, scared and hurt after a run-in with Franklin.


“Maybe it suits Lee. Maybe it’s what he likes,” Mulder pointed out.


“Maybe.” Ian shrugged. “I hope so,” he murmured.


“Hey, come with me.” Mulder tugged on his friend’s arm, an idea occurring to him that he hoped would distract Ian from his melancholy mood.


“Why, where are we going?” Ian glanced around the room anxiously.


“Downstairs. We have a little collaring ceremony of our own to perform…” Mulder grinned mysteriously as they slipped away.  


Later, when their guests had gone home, Mulder lay on the bed, and his Master lovingly applied cool gel to his fevered backside.


“Was that what you expected, little one?” He asked as he worked.


“It was more…more…” Mulder struggled for the word. The whole experience had been more profoundly affecting on an emotional level than he had been expecting. “Just more,” he said, giving up with a shrug.


“You did well. I’m proud of you. Your new collar does have to come off at some point though,” Skinner grinned.


“Can’t I wear it just for tonight?” Mulder asked.


Skinner laughed. “All right. What the hell…?” He broke off, strode across the room, and picked up Wanda who had just poked her head around the door. “Fox?” He asked, in a warning tone. “What exactly is the meaning of this?” Mulder looked up with an innocent expression on his face. Around her neck, an extremely mortified looking Wanda was wearing a neon-pink suede collar, encrusted with little diamante studs.


“Well, it is Collaring Day, Master,” Mulder said, smiling seraphically. “And I thought Wanda might be feeling a bit left out, so I got her one too and performed a little ceremony on her with Ian. She wasn’t quite as docile as I was about the whole thing though. She made a bit of a fuss.”


“No cat of mine wears a collar,” Skinner snorted, relieving Wanda of the monstrosity around her neck, and using it to deliver a firm lick to his slave’s backside. Mulder laughed, and rolled over quickly, and his Master rolled on top of him, managing to land two more hearty swats on his newly collared slave’s burning backside.


An hour or so later, after some exhausting, and entirely recreational sex, a thought occurred to Mulder.


“Master?” he whispered.


“Hmm?” Skinner replied sleepily.


“You said you had something planned for my birthday?” Mulder was too keyed up to sleep, and he propped his head on his hand and gazed at his Master in the dark.


“That’s right,” Skinner muttered.


There was silence for a long time.


“What?” Mulder asked, suddenly consumed by curiosity.


“You’ll see,” Skinner replied mysteriously.


“Will I like it?” Mulder questioned.


“Oh, I think you will.” Skinner’s voice sounded rather smug, Mulder thought.


“Will it involve a session in the Playroom?” Mulder persisted, looking for clues.


“Oh, I’m sure it will at some point,” Skinner replied into his pillow.


“Hmm. Will you be using any special apparatus?” Mulder pressed.


“I doubt it.” Skinner sounded as if he was laughing now.


“Will…?” Mulder’s next question was stopped by the simple expedient of his Master taking an inch of his slave’s sore butt flesh between thumb and forefinger and holding it threateningly.


“You’ll see,” Skinner said. “And if the next question is going to be ‘will this slave’s bottom be made even hotter that it already is in the next few minutes?’ then I can tell you that the answer is ‘yes’ if he asks one more thing about his birthday.”


Mulder pouted – an effect that was lost in the darkness. He smiled soon enough though when Skinner gathered him in his arms, and held him against his chest. His Master’s fingers played with his slave’s body for a while, tracing the line of the ‘W’ on his lower abdomen.


“Walter…” Mulder whispered in the dark, savoring the way that name sounded on his lips.


“Hmm?” Skinner’s mouth brushed his slave’s shoulder.


“Thanks,” Mulder said softly.


He reached up, and gently touched the thick, leather collar around his neck, and then traced the slender gold chain with his fingertips.


He was a collared slave once more.  


End of Part 22



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