Subterfuge: 2. Part Two


By the following afternoon I’ve convinced myself that none of it ever happened. I can do this occasionally. It’s my burying my head in the sand trick, and I save it only for the most distressing circumstances. Hell, you know me – normally I’m more of a dig it up, rip it up, and tear it down before I know why it was put there in the first place, kind of guy but this time it’s different. I want to bury these memories as quickly and deeply as I can. I just want to get through this case and then lie low for a long, long time.


Skinner is already at work, sitting at his desk as usual, presiding over another team meeting and, much to my dismay, Lenny has been invited back. He isn’t dressed up today – instead he’s in an old pair of jeans and a faded sweatshirt and – most noticeably – he isn’t flirting with anyone. He looks pale and tired. He gives me a wary look as I enter the room and I try a forced smile, which he bravely tries to return but without much heart; Lenny never was one to bear a grudge. I feel a wave of guilt about the whole thing and long to apologize, but it isn’t appropriate right now.


Skinner gives me a reproving glance for being late, and I almost miss the nudge of glee that Lenny would have given me yesterday.


“Thanks for giving up your time to help us again, Lenny.” Skinner smiles, and Lenny nods and shrugs. Both Skinner and Lenny could be from a completely different species compared to the men I was with at the club last night. Skinner is businesslike, Lenny is withdrawn, and as for me, well I don’t change I guess – maybe that’s the problem. I certainly start out intending to behave well.


“I’ve been reading your report about the ancient Mithras cult, Mulder.” Skinner glances at me. “And I find it disturbing. In your initial briefing with me you neglected to mention that the cult held an initiation ceremony that involved being drenched in bull’s blood.”


“Well it did in Roman times,” I object. “There’s no reason to suppose that Saunders’s gang do the same. You don’t see that many bulls roaming around in DC after all,” I point out flippantly.


“No. You don’t.” Skinner stares at me for a long moment. “However I still find the ritualistic element disturbing.”


“You aren’t going to follow up on Saunders’s offer are you?” I wish that didn’t sound like an accusation, like I disagree with his decision but the truth is that I do.


“I have no intention of placing you, or, for that matter, myself, in the hands of these people without having some more information.”


“You won’t get any more information unless we go in there,” I object.


“It’s not up for general debate, Mulder,” he states tersely. “Lenny has been filling me in on the sort of organization we are dealing with, and the sort of treatment that we, or more specifically, you, can expect if we take this cover any further. I am not satisfied that I could ensure your safety.”


“Like Lenny said, you’d be the only one at risk,” I point out, and immediately wish I hadn’t. It’s like accusing the man of cowardice, and I can honestly say that there isn’t any question of that ever being true about him. He may have his faults, but being a big wuss isn’t one of them. A tense atmosphere has descended on the room and Skinner gives me another of his cool stares.


“Mulder, I’ve made my decision,” he says firmly. “I am unable to assess the risk to myself in pursuing this venture, but the risk to you is obvious. Saunders told us that these people do not operate on a system of consent. Have you thought the implications of that through?”


He’s right – I haven’t thought this through. I just want to solve the case, to leap in as usual and think later.


“So how are we going to proceed?” I demand.


“I’ve spoken to Saunders and…”


“You’ve called him already?” I interrupt accusingly.


“Yes, Mulder. I’ve called him already,” Skinner raps back tersely. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Lenny watching me quietly, and I feel angry with myself, and with him, without knowing why. “I asked him if we would still have a deal if you weren’t part of the equation.”


“And he said no,” I predict, accurately enough, although I’m stunned, but not surprised, that he’d walk into the lion’s den alone. A spasm of annoyance at the situation passes across Skinner’s face.


“That’s right.”


“Look, there’s no big deal here. We go in, we take a van-load of back-up, and we’re wired. At the first sign of any trouble, you give us the order to pull out. I don’t see the problem.”


“Lenny.” Skinner gestures with his hand, and Lenny darts a glance at me.


“Nobody knows where the Mithras circle meets. Nobody ever talks about what goes on within the circle, but one thing I do know – these guys are rich, and they’re smart. They’d have the wires off you in nano-seconds. And if you take any back up they’d detect it, check you out, and blow your cover before you even get anywhere near their base. If you go in, you go in alone,” Lenny shrugs. “And honestly, Mulder, I wouldn’t recommend it. You really, really don’t want to end up as one of their boys. Trust me – even I wouldn’t like it, and that’s saying something. I think they’re borderline crazy, which is fine for them but I like my risks just a little more calculated.”


“So do I,” Skinner says grimly, “and my decision is final, Mulder.” He sees me open my mouth to protest and glares at me. I close it again.


“Mr. Skinner is right, Mulder,” Lenny says softly. “Try something else. There must be another way of nailing this murderer.”


“I can’t think of one.” I shrug.


“We’ll just have to find one,” Skinner says, addressing the room at large. “Lenny, thanks for coming in again.” He holds out his hand, and Lenny takes it quietly. He looks at Skinner with silent respect, none of the drooling adulation of yesterday. That’s when I notice the bruises on Lenny’s wrists, the ones I gave him last night, and I’m angry with myself, and Lenny, and, irrationally, with Skinner too. Lenny leaves the room and I know I can’t leave it like this, so I make an excuse and follow him out.


“Lenny!” I call him back – he’s fast disappearing down the corridor. He turns and stands there defensively, looking apprehensive.


“I don’t want any trouble, Mulder,” he says nervously.


“I just wanted to say I’m sorry. About last night. That place just gave me the creeps. I don’t know what came over me. No hard feelings?” I hold out my hand, and he ignores it.


“Oh Mulder, you just go ahead and dig your own grave. I don’t want anything to do with it,” he says.


“What’s that supposed to mean?”


“Don’t follow this up, Mulder,” he tells me quietly. “Because if you do, you’ll find out things about yourself that you don’t want to know.”


“You’re wrong about me, Lenny.” I shake my head.


“No, Mulder. You’re wrong about you,” he shrugs, and finally takes my still outstretched hand. “Good luck, buddy. You’re going to need it.” He smiles sadly, and turns to leave. I have no idea what it is he thinks I’m going to do. I have no intention of disobeying Skinner, so I’m sure he can’t mean that.


I watch, puzzled, as he walks off down the corridor.


I don’t have any time to think it through because at that moment Kendall charges into the corridor, closely followed by Roberts, and they both push past me.


“What’s going on?” I turn around to find Skinner following on behind, walking briskly. I trot to keep up with him as he strides down the corridor.


“Another murder. A floater,” he mutters grimly.


This is the first time I’ve actually seen one of the corpses and believe me, it isn’t a pretty sight. The guy can’t have been in the water long – the corpse isn’t bloated or discolored enough, but he’s still a gut churning spectacle. He’s covered in bruises, and he has the same symbols carved into his flesh as the other murder victims had. He’s also had his genitalia removed, which makes me feel sick. I’ve seen a lot of unpleasant sights but I don’t suppose there’s a guy alive who wouldn’t wince when faced with evidence of such a brutal and total castration. I ask Skinner to let Scully perform the autopsy, because, frankly, I’ve never met anyone who knows their way around a dead body better than she does, and he agrees, obviously sharing my opinion on that one. Also of course, it gives me a good excuse to hang around the morgue while she’s working, to catch any of her insights.


“Cause of death?” I linger, gazing at the pale corpse, his brown eyes wide open and fixed, wondering what was the last sight that he saw.


“Blood loss.” She looks straight at me.


“Blood loss?” I glance down at the body. There aren’t any obvious wounds apart from the superficial cuts, and missing genitalia.


“He was castrated before death,” she informs me bluntly. “He died from the bleeding. It might have taken some time. He’d have been in agony, poor bastard.”




I had assumed that the mutilation of the body had taken place after death, as part of the crazed ritual the killer was carrying out. However Scully’s findings indicated that all the physical injuries – the bruising, carving, everything, had taken place while the man was still alive. This sickened me – it seemed so calculatedly evil, designed to inflict the maximum amount of pain on a man who was going to die anyway. The killer could have put him out of his misery and shot a bullet through his head, or strangled him. To just leave him to die in this way was chilling. I know this whole investigation has been a joke to me in a way, but now that’s changed. Now I just want to catch the killer, and put him away for a very long time.


I return to my apartment to have a warm shower, to wash off the smell and chill of the morgue, but when I get there I find I have a visitor. Aaron Saunders is sitting in one of my chairs, drinking a cup of coffee out of one of my cups, and reading one of my books.


“Interesting.” He holds the book up as I enter cautiously.


“How did you get in here?”


“Without too much trouble,” he shrugs.


“That figures.” I’ve lost count of the number of times my apartment has been broken into over the years.


“You have a number of books on psychology, Fox.” He puts the book down.


“I’m doing a postgrad in it,” I tell him, wondering whether it’s worth lying as he might have already figured out the truth. But I don’t think so. He’s still looking at me like I belong at someone’s feet. I’m sure that if he knew I was FBI he’d be taking a different approach.


“You’re a student then?” He’s looking at me keenly.




“So – clever as well as pretty. And how do you pay for all this?” He glances around the apartment.


“I have a…patron,” I smile.


“Ah, the delightfully protective Mr. Skinner.” He muses on that for a moment, still looking at me.


“What do you want, Saunders?” I ask him bluntly.


“I had a conversation with your master earlier today.”


“Yeah. So?” I shrug, picking up the coffee cup and returning it to the kitchen, chucking the remains of the drink away.


“You’re not interested in what plans your master might have for you?” He asks, remaining seated, manipulating me into returning to the other room.


“No. He can do what he likes. He’s in charge,” I shrug.


“Very good. Although I sense that you’re not that easily controlled. Don’t get me wrong – I like subs with attitude. The fact that you think so highly of your master shows that he must be very, very good at handling you.”


“Yeah, he has his moments,” I grin, putting the book Saunders was reading back into its rightful place on the shelf.


“Did you know that he turned down an opportunity for you to join us?” I stiffen, wondering what sort of a game he’s playing. “Ah, you didn’t know then,” he murmurs, misreading the signals.




“Poor sulky boy. You’re put out now,” Saunders purrs at me.


I decide to play along. “Well, I found your proposition last night interesting.” I perch on the couch, and do my best to look tempted.


“I’m sure you did. Your master however, had reservations. He’s a very interesting man. We did some digging on him.”


“Oh yeah?” The fake I.D.s we arranged were sophisticated enough, and he hasn’t had much time to do too much “digging” but even so, I wouldn’t put it past this guy to have found the truth.


“Yes. A wealthy businessman with a taste for fine wines and antiques. Almost a cliché.”


“Oh there’s nothing clichéd about him. He’s unique.”


“Which is why we wanted him to join us. However – although I’ll admit he’s our first interest, we do also have an interest in you. We’d have preferred to have the two of you as a package but we’d be sorry to lose both of you.”


“What are you suggesting?”


He beckons with his finger. “Why don’t you come here?”


I hesitate for a second but then obey, kneeling at his feet, which is where he’s pointing. He looks down at me for a long time, running his finger along my face, down over my nose, lingering on my mouth. It feels strange to be submitting to this in my apartment, to be pretending to be someone, something else, when all my everyday life is sprawled around me, but I want to find out what he has planned and it doesn’t hurt me to put up with this light caress.


“You’re hot. Wanton.” He grins, pushing his finger inside my mouth a little way. I’m tempted to clamp my teeth down on it, but instead play along, sucking on his finger, teasing him with my eyes. He smiles, then his mood changes abruptly and he lashes out, knocking me backwards. He grabs hold of my hair and pulls my head back so that my neck is exposed. “Mr. Skinner isn’t the only who can keep you satisfied, Fox,” he whispers, his finger scratching at my throat. I struggle to breathe. “Join us. We’ll make you very happy. This is the only choice you’ll ever have to make. After that you’ll be owned as you never have been before. Unable to resist, unable to say no. We’ll punish you hard and reward you well. Don’t worry – the only danger you’ll be in will be from your own desires. We’ll take care of them. Daily. How does that sound?”


“Pretty…good.” I manage to rasp out, while I’m shrieking “frigging sick, weirdo” inside my head.


“I thought so.” He lets go of my hair, sits me up, and strokes me fondly. “Come with me, Fox. Come with me now.”


“Now?” A dozen thoughts are rushing through my mind. I’m playing for time.


“Now. Or never.” He gives me a pleasant smile. “If I give you time you’ll call your master, and he’ll talk you out of it. So it’s a one off. Come with me now or you’ll never hear from me again.”


I weigh this. I believe him. If I turn him down he’ll disappear back into the sewers as rats have a tendency to do. I know Skinner said that we shouldn’t go in, and I remember Lenny’s advice, the way he seemed so sure I’d ignore Skinner’s orders. I know it’s stupid to go, I know it’s dangerous and I could end up getting badly hurt. I know all this, but even so I find myself nodding. I can’t think about all the reasons why I shouldn’t go. All I can think about is that poor murdered bastard, bleeding to death from his own castration wounds. I know Saunders has something to do with all this – I’m convinced of it. I’m not sure that he’s the killer by any means, but the answer lies within the Mithras Brotherhood – of that I’m certain. As I get up and follow him out of my apartment, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am in deep shit, and that if Saunders or one of his friends don’t kill me, then Skinner sure as hell will.


So, I’m a walking corpse as I follow Saunders out to his car. He has a chauffeur, of course, and the windows of his limo are heavily tinted. He opens the door, courteously, and I slip into the luxurious depths of that car knowing that I’m going into a place where I’ll be far more of a victim than I ever was at Krypton. The words he spoke last night come back to me; no negotiation, no safe words. I’m regretting my decision already.


“Don’t worry.” He smiles at me, sensing my apprehension, and reaches forward to touch my knee affectionately. “We love our submissives very much, Fox. You’ll be taken care of. This is going to be beyond your wildest dreams.”


More like my worst nightmare I think to myself, wondering, not for the first time, if I’ve got a death-wish.


The drive takes a couple of hours but I can’t see where we’re going through the tinted glass. Saunders engages me in a little light conversation, and then ignores me completely, taking out a brief case and working his way through some business papers. I feel like a kid out in daddy’s big car, watching important daddy do his work. Saunders is probably in his late forties, or early fifties, and I notice the hard, toned flesh under his shirt – the same look that Skinner has. That thought makes me uncomfortable, and I loosen my tie and undo the top button on my shirt collar.


“You’re dressed formally. We’ll see that you change into something more comfortable when we arrive,” Saunders smiles. If this is meant to be reassuring it backfires. I spend the next half an hour wondering if “more comfortable” means naked, or trussed up in a leather thong, or something equally humiliating. I can’t believe that I’ve been this stupid, and on several occasions I’m on the verge of screaming at him to stop the car, but I sense it’s already too late for that.


We finally pull u, and the door is opened for me. I blink, expecting sunshine, but instead find myself in what appears to be some sort of mineshaft.


“Welcome to The Bat Cave,” I murmur, feeling uneasy. “Look.” I turn to Saunders. “I think I might have changed my mind.”


“Nonsense.” He smiles at me. “Come on, Fox. It’s all been decided now.” He puts a hand around my shoulders and ushers me towards a dark, musty smelling corridor. “Besides, how will it look to your master if you’ve already left before he shows up?”


“What?” I twist in his grasp to stare at him, and he laughs.


“Well of course I left him a message telling him to wait in your apartment. I’ll send a car to pick him up when he calls me. Why so surprised?” He closes my open jaw with his hand. “This is your normal modus operandi isn’t it? You like to be hunted, he likes to hunt. You run off, he finds you, and punishes you – you told me so last night. You can’t really think that you’re our main interest. Submissives like you are easily found, pretty and amusing though you are. No, Mr. Skinner is the fish we want to catch, and you’re the perfect bait to bring him to us. Thank you, Fox.” He laughs again and my heart sinks.


I’ve been a bigger idiot than usual. Whatever danger I am in is nothing compared to the jeopardy Skinner’s going to be in if he follows me. He might not – he’s not stupid, he must realize it’ll be a trap…but even as I think that, I know he’ll come after me. It’s just who and what he is. I think of that man we found in the Potomac, then I think of Skinner washed up, dead and mutilated because of me, and my stomach churns so much that I want to throw up here and now. I promise myself that I’ll get him out of here safely, no matter what it costs me, and what I have to endure. I have to work hard to hold onto that thought during the next few days.


Saunders takes me to what he charmingly refers to as ‘the slave-pen’. This whole place seems to have been dug out of a series of caves, although once we reach the main nexus of the structure the corridors are brightly lit, and more welcoming than The Bat Cave. The slave-pen is a big room, containing bunks and several half-naked young men. Saunders beckons one over and kisses him affectionately. The man gazes back adoringly.


“Nick, this is Fox. Get him washed and dressed properly, and then bring him along to the library after dinner. We’ll want to have some fun with him later.” Fun? I don’t like the sound of that. “Fox – Nick is my own personal slave. He’ll take good care of you.” Saunders smiles at me, tousles my hair, and then leaves.


Nick hands me soap and a towel, and shows me over to an adjacent room containing some showers and urinals.


“You’re his personal slave?” I ask, and Nick gives a wide, proud smile. He’s tall and dark haired, with a sharp, angular profile, and stunning green eyes.


“Yeah. Do you have a master, or are you going to be communal property?” He asks which is probably one of the most surreal questions I’ve ever been asked in my time.


“Um, no, I have a master.”


“You won’t sleep down here then I expect. I don’t usually – only when Aaron’s away. When he’s here then I’m allowed to sleep at the foot of his bed.” He gives a weird, dreamy smile, as if this is the height of slave boy ambition. Maybe it is – what the hell do I know?


I notice that all the men in the slave-pen are dressed only in tight, faded denim jeans, and nothing else. They’re barefoot, and bare-chested, and after I’ve washed up that is what Nick presents to me by way of clothing.


“Everybody dresses like this?” I ask Nick.


“Nearly everybody.” He shrugs. “Except for those whose masters have special costumes for them, and those in the Zone.”


“The Zone?” I pull on the jeans, noticing, without surprise, that underwear doesn’t seem to be part of the outfit. I hate being dressed like this. It makes me feel like such a bimbo. I want to walk around with my arms crossed over my bare chest – and is it really necessary for these jeans to be so tight-fitting?


“The punishment zone. You don’t want to know what goes on in there,” he smirks.


“Tell me.” I catch hold of his arm, urgently. I need to find out all I can about this place before Skinner shows.


“Don’t even begin to think about the Zone as being somewhere you want to end up.” Nick makes a face. “When we first get here most of us think it sounds…well you know, appealing! Trust me, it isn’t. If you’re good then they’ll whip you nicely and you’ll enjoy it. If you’re bad they’ll take you to the Zone and torture you half to death. Most people don’t feel the need to disobey them again. There is nothing erotic about the Zone. It’s a threat – pure and simple – to keep us in line. Now, you do as you’re told, serve them well, and let them do whatever they like with you, and you’ll be fine. Hey – that’s not so hard,” he grins, noticing the worry in my eyes. “We like serving after all. It’s why we’re here isn’t it?”


“Yeah.” I can’t even force a smile. I find myself facing the very real possibility that I might be raped before the night is through. Skinner was right – I shouldn’t be here. He was right. I was wrong. Simple as that.


Nick gives me some food, which I can barely touch I’m so freaked. Then I’m escorted to the library, which is a huge room with plush armchairs. All the men here are dressed soberly, normally. In fact, if you ignore the cavernous appearance of the place, and the huge post with manacles hanging ominously from it in the center of the room, you could almost imagine that you were meeting with the Consortium, or any other group of power-crazed weirdoes. Shit, how many organizations like this are there out there!


The men are all sitting around drinking cups of coffee and flicking through newspapers or books.


There’s a huge, old oak table in the room, and there aren’t any other slaves here. My entrance doesn’t attract much attention either. I stand there helplessly for a moment, abandoned by Nick who’s been told to leave. After a few minutes Saunders finally rescues me, beckoning me over, and waiting expectantly until I realize that I’m supposed to kneel. I’m not eager to make an acquaintance with the Zone just yet, or with that whipping post, so I do what’s expected of me. Saunders looks around the room, and clears his throat.


“Gentlemen. We have a new recruit. This is Fox.” People glance in my direction, and a couple of the men venture over to take a closer look like we’re at a cattle auction or something. I fully expect them to peel back my lips and inspect my teeth, but for the most part they seem content with just looking.


“Very pretty. Who does he belong to?” Someone asks.


“Well,” Saunders leans back with a cruel smile on his lips,”at the moment, I would say that technically he’s a communal slave – available to anybody, although we are hoping that his true master will be along to reclaim him shortly, aren’t we, Fox?” He kneads his hand into my neck in some revolting approximation of a massage.


“Yeah.” I shudder, hoping that if he does come after me Skinner has brought the whole “team” with him, fully armed to the teeth with the most sophisticated modern weaponry the FBI budget can purchase. Hell, nukes wouldn’t be too much to ask for under these circumstances would they?


“I think you’ll find Fox here…intriguing,” Saunder murmurs in that clear cut English accent of his. There’s always an English guy in these secret organizations isn’t there? The Consortium has one too. I just hope Mithras doesn’t also have a guy chain-smoking his way through some Morley’s. Then I’ll know I’m in trouble.


“Bring him over here,” a voice from the other side of the room commands. Saunders gives me a little shove, and one of the other men leans forward and grabs hold of my arm, pushing me across the room. I’m on the verge of taking a swing at him when I catch sight of that whipping post and change my mind. I’m pushed down on my knees next to a pair of shiny riding boots, and look up to find myself face to face with this saturnine looking guy who could have come straight from a day’s hunting. That makes me shiver when I remember my story about the “fox-hunt” last night. He’s got short, cropped dark hair, and a flat, boxer’s nose that has clearly been broken couple of times. He’s wearing jodhpurs and a polo-neck and, most alarmingly, he’s got a riding crop in his hands. I stop struggling, and suddenly go very still.


“Your name is Fox?” He puts the tip of the riding crop under my chin, and makes me look at him. “How amusing.”


“My mom thought so,” I shrug. I don’t even see the riding crop move, but I sure as hell feel it land on my bare shoulder.


“Don’t talk without permission,” he hisses, and I lose it and throw myself at him, hardly feeling the next blow of the crop as he fends me off. Someone grabs my shoulders, and I find myself lifted up, and thrown down on the huge oak table. I’m wriggling around, trying to fight, but there are too many of these guys and I’m soon a panting, struggling wreck.


“Really, Fox,” Saunders’s voice. “I know I said I like subs with attitude but this is taking things a little too far. There are serious penalties for striking one of your masters, you know.”


“He isn’t my master.” I growl. “None of you bastards is. Now let me go.”


Someone takes hold of my hair, and crashes my head down on the table.


“Manners, Fox,” Saunders says. “You’ll address us as ‘sir’ at all times. Or Master. I can see it’s going to be fun breaking you in. Now, Matt, he’s new to us so I don’t think you need be too severe.” He nods his head at the riding crop guy, and my arms are suddenly pulled out in front of me. I can feel someone holding my legs down, and the next thing I know there’s a hissing sound, and a blaze of fire runs down my back. I can hear myself scream and curse but it doesn’t do any good, and another few blows from that riding crop rain down on me. It hurts like hell and he doesn’t let up, crashing that crop down on my shoulders hard, several times. I’m not giving in though – I’m still trying to struggle, and they’re having a hard time holding me down.


“Fantastic,” Matt murmurs. “Look at the way he moves. Look at that ass.” I feel his hands caressing my butt, and now I’m totally freaked out, screaming at the top of my voice.


“If you touch me, you bastard, I swear I’ll kill you! Just fuck off! Fuck off, or I’ll fucking murder you!”


Out of the corner of my eye I can see Saunders glancing at his watch, and then at Matt.


“If you want him, Matt, then by all means take him,” Saunders smiles. “He is very tempting. That ass, as you say.” Saunders strokes my head fondly. “Matt has taken a liking to you, Fox, and in the absence of your master, you have nobody to protect you from his attentions. I suggest you keep still and submit.”


He nods at Matt and I go ballistic, struggling so hard that I finally manage to get free, sliding onto the floor and making a run for the door. Matt grabs me by the waist, and slams me back down over the table, bending me over it, his hands on my jeans, tearing at them to undo them. Nobody else is interfering now – it must be another of the quaint rules of this place. This is between the charming Matt and myself, and they’re all enjoying the show except Saunders, who has disappeared in the direction of the door.


There is no way I’m going to make it easy for this bastard who’s trying to rape me. With one hand I manage to keep my jeans closed, and with the other I’m kicking out at him. He’s having trouble holding me down, and he seems to have dispensed with the riding crop for which I suppose I should be grateful. I can feel his hands pawing at my shoulders and the weight of his body pinning me onto the table, when suddenly a strange silence descends on the room, followed by a hiss of anger and a snarl of rage. Matt is jerked off me, and I hear the satisfying sound of his face being mashed by someone’s fist. A big hand grabs me by the neck and swings me under a muscular arm, shielding me from any further attacks.


“What the fuck is going on here?” Skinner bellows.


It was a set-up.


“Congratulations, Mr Skinner, on your timely arrival,” Saunders says smoothly, helping the bleeding Matt to his feet.


“Don’t play games with me, Saunders.” Skinner is angrier than I’ve ever seen him before in my life, and the arm he’s got around my neck is nearly strangling me. “I told you last night – he’s mine. Nobody touches him.”


“Quite so. And if you recall, I asked you if you’d be prepared to fight for him. Oh, I know, you put on a little show at Krypton, but I needed to make sure that wasn’t an act,” Saunders smiles. “I wouldn’t want to waste our time otherwise. Some men enjoy watching other men with their slaves – it turns them on. Such men have no place in Mithras. We’re a different style of organization. We just wanted to be sure that you’d fit in. Although I have to say that we hadn’t anticipated the attachment your slave would show to you, or the fight he’d put up to preserve himself for your exclusive use. That was most touching.”


Saunders gives another of those creepy smiles, and reaches out a finger to touch my face. Skinner knocks it away, hissing again, but this only serves to make Saunders’s grin even wider.


“Welcome to Mithras, Mr. Skinner. We’re delighted to have you.” Saunders holds out his hand, which Skinner ignores. “I’m sure that once you’ve settled in, you’ll come to enjoy your time with us,” Saunders says, seemingly oblivious to the insult. “In the meantime, please let me show you to your room.”


Skinner keeps his hand on my neck the whole way along those corridors. He doesn’t let go until Saunders has opened the door to our room and informed us that breakfast is served at 10am, and a slave will be sent to show us the way to the dining room tomorrow morning. Then Skinner shoves me into the room, slams the door shut, and kicks it hard with his foot. I’ve never seen him so out of control before, and frankly it’s scary. Both of us hear the click as a key is turned in the lock and we realize we are trapped.


“Fucking bastards!” Skinner storms. He stands there for a moment, breathing heavily, struggling to get himself under control. I’m not sure what to say under the circumstances but I open my mouth to make some smart comment anyway. He fixes me with a glare.


“Mulder, unless the next words that come out of your mouth are ‘sorry for disobeying you, sir’ I suggest you keep it closed,” he growls. I shut my mouth again, and he rolls his eyes, and shakes his head. “You are unbelievable, Mulder. Unbe-fucking-lievable.”


We both glance around the room, taking in the comfortable furnishings, the door to the en-suite bathroom, the double bed. Last, but not least, our eyes travel at the same time to the open door of a cabinet full of whips, chains, and other strange and mysterious devices whose uses I can only guess at.


“Like I need the goddamn temptation,” Skinner snarls, going over to the cabinet, and slamming the door shut to hide the contents. “All right, Mulder.” He takes a deep breath and runs a hand over his head, exhaling loudly. “Fill me in.” He sits down on the end of the bed, and looks at me expectantly.


“Well, I arrived back at my apartment to find Saunders already there,” I begin. He looks up sharply.


“You were kidnapped?” he asks hopefully. It’s tempting. I mean really, really tempting, but I’m strong, and resist.


“Well, not exactly, no.”


He sighs. “No. How stupid of me. Go on.”


“He told me they were interested in me. He said that they didn’t need you.”


“How flattering. And you believed him?”


“Yes. Sorry. I didn’t realize it was a trick.”


“And what? He asked you to come here, and you just agreed?”


“I suppose so, yes,” I murmur, trying to keep the sullen tone out of my voice. “It all made sense at the time. And I’d just come back from the morgue – Scully told me about how that guy died. I wanted to find out what was going on here. I didn’t mean for you to be dragged in after me. I um, don’t suppose there’s back-up on the way?”


“No.” Skinner shakes his head. “Scully tried to call you. When she couldn’t get a reply she went to your apartment and found that note from Saunders. I called him, and he sent a car to pick me up. The driver lost the tail I put on us and changed us into a different car half-way along the route. We’re well and truly on our own, Mulder. Shit, what happened to your clothes?” My clothing, or more accurately, my lack of clothing, finally dawns on him.


“Oh, guess.” I make a face. “This is what all the best dressed slave boys about town are wearing.”


“Stunning. Are the bruises the latest in slave boy fashion accessories as well, or did you manage to upset someone already in the few hours of your stay so far?”


“That was Matt.” I realize that my shoulders are covered in some nasty welts. “He was the guy you plastered to the carpet. Thank you for that by the way.”


“Yes, well, standing by and watching people being raped never was a favorite hobby of mine. Particularly agents in my charge,” he mutters. I notice he’s flushing slightly as he remembers his reaction to my earlier jeopardy, and I wonder what that’s all about. Perhaps the whole thing embarrasses him. I remember the way he was practically spitting with rage, and the feel of his arm around my neck as he protected me from those guys. It’s an embarrassingly pleasant memory. I wish closing my eyes would shut it out, but it doesn’t, it just makes me remember all the little details – the ones I hardly had time to register while he was, quite literally, saving my ass. The sound of his breathing, the incoherent rage in his eyes, the faint sheen of sweat on his forehead, and the smell of him…shit.


He’s getting up, taking a look around the room, and I suddenly wish I had more clothes on. I also realize, for the first time, that my shoulders damn well hurt.


“Well, now we’re here, I suppose we’d better find out what’s going on,” he says with a sigh. “I suggest we continue with these roles with that in mind.”


“Okay,” I shrug, checking out the bathroom which has a huge bath big enough for two, and a shower as well. A large supply of condoms and lubricant are stashed in a cupboard which isn’t surprising. There’s also a first aid kit next to the towels which, given the contents of that cabinet in the bedroom, seems like a sensible item to find. I’d like to put some gel on my shoulders but I can’t reach, and there’s no way, NO WAY, I’m asking him to help. I don’t want him touching me – god knows how I might react. That’s the freaky thing about all this – not knowing what I’m feeling or what I want. I could kill Lenny for putting these doubts in my head. I return to the bedroom, and sit down on the one armchair in the room.


“Mulder.” Skinner undoes his tie, and starts unbuttoning his shirt. I try and find something fascinating in the room to look at, but there just isn’t anything more fascinating than the sight of him undressing. I try to reason that, hey, we’re guys, and guys always just undress without giving a damn about other guys seeing their bodies, but it doesn’t work. I want to see his body. I want to see if it arouses me. He carries on, matter of factly unbuttoning, totally oblivious to my interest. “I’d appreciate it if you could keep your temper under control and stay out of trouble. I can’t rescue you every five minutes, and I can’t keep tabs on you 24 hours a day. Don’t do something stupid as soon as my back is turned. I, um, really don’t know how I’d react if they…oh shit. You know what I mean. Please don’t provoke them, Mulder.” He takes his shirt off and puts it away tidily in the wardrobe. “And please remember your status here. Remember all those rules and codes that Lenny taught us, and just live the part. I’ll do my best to do the same. That way we might at least stand a chance of getting out of here alive. Remember what the alternative is.”


“Yeah – you end up at the bottom of the Potomac and I end up as communal property in the slave-pen,” I murmur.


“Exactly.” He sits down on the end of the bed and undoes his shoes, slips them off, then removes his socks which he neatly rolls into a ball and slips inside his shoes. He reaches for his belt…Shit!


“There’s something I haven’t told you,” I blurt, attempting to distract myself.


“Yes?” He glances up, unzipping his fly. I try and keep my eyes fixed firmly on his face.


“I was just the bait they used to attract you here. They’re not really interested in me. Saunders as much as told me so. Which means…”


“That the Potomac beckons? Yeah, I’d kind of figured that out for myself.” He shrugs, slipping his trousers off and hanging them up tidily in the wardrobe.


“Shit. I’m sorry,” I say wretchedly, finally having found something to drag my attention away from his long, tanned legs, and plain black cotton briefs which do not do a very good job of hiding what he’s got packed away inside. Guilt is my constant companion through life – I usually find it can distract me from almost anything. “I really didn’t think he was planning on luring you here. I thought I could…”


“Mulder,” he interrupts, sounding tired. “I’ve long since come to the conclusion that you don’t actually ‘think’ at all. I’ve accepted this as the downside to your unusual abilities. The fact is that your instincts, hunches, and sheer improvisational qualities usually more than make up for any lack of coherent planning, but on this occasion, I must say that my belief in that is stretched to its limit. However we have a difficult situation to negotiate which will require all our skill. We have a murderer to catch, and we need our wits about us just to stay alive. I can promise you that when, and you note my use of the word “when” and not “if”, ” he smiles at me grimly, “when we get back, we will have a long discussion about your continued flouting of my orders. In the meantime, we’re a team, and we’ve both got a job to do, so I suggest we get some sleep. You can have the chair.” He throws me a blanket, and I nod. It’s only right he should have the bed after the stunt I’ve pulled today, although I do have to say that the chair chafes against my sore shoulders, and it’s impossible to get comfortable.


I lie under the blanket, watching him as he pads over to the bathroom, listening to him pee, clean his teeth, splash water around as he washes. I pretend to close my eyes as he returns to the bedroom and snaps off the light, but I’m watching him through my eyelashes, noting the movement of muscles under skin, the sheer size of him, the small scars that I can see on his back, the way he takes off his glasses and places them on the bedside table. I close my eyes firmly, and pull my knees up to my chest, trying to get comfortable, trying to figure out what I’m feeling, and failing.


He’s asleep within minutes. It’s astonishing – probably a trick he picked up in Vietnam. I’m sure he’d bore me with a story about how you have to grab sleep when and wherever you can, even when it’s in the pouring rain up to your ears in mud after another day in the jungle. Then I wish he would bore me with such a story because it wouldn’t be boring, it would be fascinating because he hardly ever talks about Vietnam, and I’d like to know more about him. Then I think about how much my shoulders hurt, and of all the things I’d like to do to Matt if I could get my hands on him, which leads me to the sickening subject of all the things he’d like to do to me if he could get his hands on me, and at that point I give up even trying to sleep.


I tiptoe across the room to the “weird” cabinet, and peek inside. This is better than counting sheep – count strange sex aids instead. The various whips, handcuffs, chains, and buttplugs are easy enough to identify but some of the items mystify me. I find a long leather thing with buckles on it, and a huge steel pole with cuffs on each end. Then there’s some small, clamp-like devices. I can guess a use for them that makes me wince. Skinner rolls over and sighs, and I retreat with the mystifying items into the bathroom to see if I can figure out what they’re for. Shit, I’ve watched enough porn in my time but nothing with anything that looked like any of this stuff in it – and definitely no gay BDSM porn!


The leather thing fits nicely on my wrist, but I sense it doesn’t really belong there – it doesn’t seem to be a very erotic usage. And the pole is beyond me. The little metallic devices are obviously designed for use on the nipples but I don’t test them on that area of my body – I’m not that screwed up. However I can testify that they hurt like hell when attached to my little finger so I dread to think what they do to your nipples. And I would like to point out that I’m not just playing around like a kid in a sex shop. I’m also mulling over the events of the day, the details of the case, and something about my conversation with Skinner in the office earlier on (was that really today? It seems like a lifetime ago) is bugging me, but I can’t figure out why or what it is. Something I said, something he mentioned, something…


I’m musing on this, trying to pin it down, absently deciding that the leather thing would work well as a hat and trying to strap it on over my head, when there is a knock at the door, it’s opened, and Skinner glances in at me.


“The light’s been on in here for ages. I wondered if you were okay,” he mutters, double-taking the headgear.


“I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking,” I murmur.


“And you do that better with a ball-gag on your head do you?” he asks.


“Oh, that’s what it is? Yeah of course it is.” I take it off hastily. “Call me naive, but I just don’t have any idea what some of this stuff is used for. How do you know so much about it?” Did I really say that?


“I spent some time working in vice,” he says quickly. Too quickly? “What were you thinking about? Have you figured any of this out?” He comes into the bathroom and leans against the basin, looking at me intently.


“I’m not sure. It’s something to do with the way those men were murdered. Maybe the blood loss. And something you said…but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Damn – it’s there if I could just get the picture straight in my head.”


“You’re tired.” He shrugs. “Look, Mulder, I said you should get some sleep and I meant it. I know you’re tense about this – shit, I am too, but we’re safe for tonight so I think we should make the most of it. Who knows what they’ve got planned for us tomorrow.”


“I know. You’re right. That armchair was hurting my shoulders and…”


“Shit. I’m sorry. I should have thought. Here.” He goes over to the first aid kit and gets out some gel, then sits me down on the edge of the tub and soothes some onto my shoulders, making me jump as the cold liquid comes into contact with my hot skin. “Fucking sickos,” he mutters to himself. I wish I knew what to think or feel. I’m just aware that one of his hands is on my shoulder, and the other is gently massaging that gel into my back, and it hurts, and is cold and hot and tingly all at the same time. And I don’t want him to stop. I like the feel of his hand, of his gently caressing fingers. I wonder what it would be like to feel him lean down and kiss the back of my neck, and that makes my hair stand up on end, and gives me goose-bumps. “It’s a huge bed,” he remarks, totally without embarrassment. “We’ll share then both of us might get a good night’s sleep. Don’t worry – I promise your chastity will be safe with me,” he grins.


He doesn’t smile very often, and I’m not used to seeing him without his glasses either. I stare at him, fascinated, but he doesn’t notice. Instead he just ushers me back into the bedroom, slips down into the bed, waits for me to get in beside him, and then turns the light off.


I lie there rigidly still for several minutes, waiting for my heart to stop pounding inside me. I can sense that he’s totally relaxed next to me, one arm slung across the bed, his body sprawled out. Probably another trick he learned in Vietnam; how to sleep next to men without giving any sexual signals or being remotely embarrassed by proximity. Then on the other hand of course, he’s not got all these weird lustful thoughts rampaging around in his skull. He’s probably thinking through the details of the case, or running over the baseball league scores in his head. Finally I hear him snoring and start to relax. I can’t resist leaning over a little way to smell him – yeah, I know, but I’m going crazy here. I want to remember the way he smelt back in the library, the anger in his body. I wish I could rest my head on his shoulder and feel his arms go around me again. I want to feel the hardness of his chest as it presses against my back. Shit. I try and distract myself by thinking of women with enormous breasts which usually works well enough, but not this time. Since when did I ever lust after men? Consciously at least. Subconsciously? As all this goes around in my head, I finally fall asleep.


I wake up boiling hot and stiff. These jeans are far too tight to sleep in, but since the alternative was sleeping naked next to a man who’s beginning to attract me in a powerful and disturbing way, it was by far the better option to keep the jeans on. The heat radiating from Skinner, (the man is a furnace) combined with the heat from my sore shoulders, is too much for me to bear. I slip out from under the sheets, grab the blanket from the chair, and then settle myself down at the foot of the bed. That’s when Nick’s words come back to me, about sleeping at the foot of your master’s bed. Sick, Mulder. Sick! I don’t move though. Just getting into role, like the boss ordered. That’s my excuse anyway, and I can’t be bothered to fight it any more. Skinner’s right; we need to just concentrate on getting out of here alive and who cares if I let slip something I shouldn’t, or if he finds out that I’ve spent the whole night sleeping next to him with a hard on? I just hope that we both live long enough for me to be embarrassed about it when we get back to the office. I’ll have plenty of time to worry about my sexuality then.


We didn’t get to bed until after one, but all the same we’re both awake by seven.


“Comfortable night?” He looks surprised by my choice of sleeping location.


“Yeah well…it got a bit hot,” I mutter.


“Oh shit. Sorry about that. Sharon used to make me sleep on the couch half the summer. She said that I had a metabolism most women would die for, and made some dig about hooking me up to a generator to cut down on heating bills. I didn’t notice her complaining on cold winter nights though.” He grins.


This is weird. Being locked up in this room all night with him, both of us half naked, him talking about something personal for maybe the first time ever without the threat of a murder charge being used as leverage against him. I guess I never really saw him as a fully rounded human being before. I wonder about Sharon. I know they’re divorced and I wonder why. Not that I’m thinking it’s even remotely possible that has anything to do with him having suddenly discovered that he’s a bisexual top who wants to throw his most irritating special agent to the floor and screw him senseless. No way. Well, only slightly.


I do a good job of not watching him get up and go into the bathroom, and of not listening to him having a shower, and of not wondering what it would be like to get in beside him. Then it’s back to not watching him again as he prowls into the bedroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, the water glistening in his chest hair. I have to move fast when he starts to take off his towel to dry himself though.


Not watching him being totally naked would be beyond my endurance. So I disappear into the bathroom to get washed myself, throwing myself under ice-cold water and attempting to jerk myself off at the same time – an exquisite form of self-torture. Maybe I am a masochist after all.


Waiting for 10 am is like waiting for an execution. We sit there, he on the end of the bed, me in the chair, counting the minutes. He clears his throat and looks at me.


“Remember what I told you, Mulder.” He says in a low, soft voice. We’ve already been through this twice in the past hour.


“Sure.” I shrug and make a face as my shoulders remind me how they’re feeling.


“No, really. I know what you’re like. Do as I say, keep your eyes down, and for god’s sake don’t provoke anybody.” He gets up as we hear footsteps in the corridor but they pass by and he sits back down.


“I can do that.” I shrug a second time and then make a mental note not to shrug again for the next few days.


“Good. It’s just an act. Remember that. We’re playing a part. It’s not real. It doesn’t matter what they say to you. Just keep your eyes down and do as you’re told. For once.” He gives me a warning look.


“I will, I will!” I flare.


He rolls his eyes. “See. You can’t even manage to keep hold of your temper without any provocation. Out there is plenty of provocation, Mulder. Now just keep yourself under control. Remember what you are to these people.”


“I’m a goddamn amoeba to these people,” I fume. “I don’t think I’ll forget that, and if I do I’m sure they’ll remind me pretty damn fast.”


“Or I will,” he sighs, and then he glares at me. “You have my apologies in advance for anything I might do or say, Mulder. But if you look like you’re going to fuck up, then I’m going to behave exactly as they expect. Our lives are on the line here and even if you forget that, I certainly won’t.”


“How reassuring,” I murmur.


“Yeah. Ain’t that the truth.” He actually laughs, a strange, bass, rumbling sound which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Then his face becomes serious again. “It’s just for show, Mulder. We’re just playing along,” he says.


If that’s the case, how come he’s so good at it, I wonder to myself as a key is turned in the door and we’re allowed out.


The dining hall is just another big cave, like the library, but it also has that same air of rough-hewn elegance. There’s another huge oak table and several of the tops are already seated. I wonder who owns this place, and where it can be, but before I go any further with that contemplation I’m distracted by the sight of the slaves waiting on their masters. There’s a side table covered in the most mouth-watering food, and a few young men in jeans are hanging around waiting for orders. I’m starving, and wonder if I’ll be allowed to eat here, or whether I have to go back to the slave pen for that.


Saunders gets to his feet and beckons Skinner over, pointing him to a spare chair.


“Please, Mr. Skinner. Do join us.” He smiles that creepy smile of his. Nick appears with a plate full of food and sets it down in front of Saunders, then pours him a glass of orange juice. “Nick – show Fox what to do.” Saunders waves me away, and turns his attention back to Skinner. I can’t hear what they’re saying – something polite about sleeping well and the comfort of the room I think. Nothing heavy just yet.


“He’s your master?” Nick stares at Skinner with considerable interest.


“Yes.” I find myself staring at Skinner as well.


He’s dressed in yesterday’s clothing but he looks as cool and neat as ever. The tiny fringe of hair at the back of his scalp is still wet from his shower. He seems to be relaxed but I can tell that he isn’t. His muscles are poised, tensed, like a cat about to pounce. He’s on edge.


“Aaron told me about how you struggled with Matt,” Nick whispers. “I can see why now. No wonder you wanted to keep yourself for such a master.”


“Um. Yeah.” Which at least means I’m not a total pervert. I mean, all these sub men are attracted to Skinner so he must exude pheromones.


“Did he punish you for running off and coming here?” Nick looks at the welts on my shoulders.


“Um, no. Not yet.” I struggle with the two levels I’m living on – three if you count the one in my head. “Matt did that to me. I think my master was just pleased to have me back. He did threaten to punish me later though.” That’s no more than the truth!


“Aaron said he missed me while he was away.” Nick smiles. “I was worried he’d brought you back to replace me when he brought you in yesterday. You’re just the sort of sub he likes, and I keep thinking he’ll get bored with me. He’s such a good master, so strong.” Poor Nick. He’s really got it bad. “I’m glad you’ve got someone like Aaron,” Nick tells me. “Now, what would your master like to eat?”


“Eat?” I repeat stupidly, looking at the table of food.


“Yeah – what does he normally have for breakfast?” Nick is looking at me expectantly. How the hell should I know what Skinner’s eating habits are? I reason that I might as well take him something of everything, just to be safe. I pile a plate full of food, bring it over, and put it in front of him. He ignores me, continuing his conversation with Saunders, some of which I catch.


“I don’t take kindly to being locked in against my will,” Skinner is saying, his tone reasonable but firm.


“Just a precaution. We don’t know you that well yet, but you’re our guest. I’m sure we’ll be able to dispense with locks and keys soon.” Saunders replies, dabbing at his mouth with his napkin. I retreat and find a jug of orange juice, then return with it, and pour my ‘master’ a glass.


“Just how long were you anticipating we’d stay?” Skinner is asking.


“Who knows?” Saunders replies evasively. “That’ll be up to you. Most of us choose to stay for quite some time on our first visit. When we’re sure of you, and when you’ve agreed to our terms, you’ll be allowed to leave. You’ll have to be initiated and agree to a sum towards our costs. Obviously you can’t stay here indefinitely, however appealing the idea – your business doesn’t run itself after all. After your initiation you can come and go as you wish – and take advantage of the facilities and challenges we offer here.”


“Challenges?” Skinner asks sharply.


“Yes.” Saunders smiles. “You’ll see.”


“And I suppose you aren’t going to tell me any more about this “initiation” either?” Skinner questions.


Saunders smiles and shakes his head. “All in good time, Mr. Skinner. All in good time.”


“Fine.” Skinner imbues that word with considerable displeasure, implying that it’s not fine at all. “But if that’s the case then I’d like a change of clothes. I can’t wear these indefinitely.”


“Of course.” Saunders nods. “We’ve taken care of that already. There’ll be clothing in your room by the time you return. And a laundry service is provided as well. Just leave your clothes in the basket provided, and they’ll be returned to you the following day.”


I’m standing helplessly at Skinner’s elbow, feeling like a spare part, and my stomach suddenly rumbles loudly. Saunders laughs at me.


“I do hope your master allows you to eat soon, Fox,” he smirks. “You look as if you need feeding up.”


“Well I wasn’t exactly hungry last night,” I reply, and then wish I hadn’t. I wasn’t given permission and he wasn’t asking me a question. I sense that I’ve made a mistake, and the anxious glances the other slaves in the room are darting at me confirm that. Skinner’s jaw tightens as he takes in the atmosphere in the room and he frowns at me.


“Kneel down,” he hisses and I obey, quickly. Then he backhands me casually, but not particularly hard, across the jaw. “Now keep quiet,” he says. This seems to meet with everybody’s approval, and people go back to what they were doing. I hate this place. The smallest thing upsets these weirdoes and I’m not very good at keeping quiet and being obedient.


“He’s very spirited isn’t he?” Saunders remarks, cutting up a slice of melon and feeding a piece to Nick who’s kneeling at his side.


“Hmm.” Skinner snorts.


“Do you think you discipline him enough?” Saunders’ eyes meet mine and I flush furiously. Skinner takes a long drink of orange juice and appears to be seriously pondering this question.


“I don’t know,” he muses. “Fox, what do you think?” He stares at me, his eyes quite serious.


“Well…um…I think that maybe sometimes my master is too kind to me, considering how I behave,” I reply.


“Yeah,” Skinner grunts. “But you see, Saunders…” He turns back to our host. “I like him this way. I wouldn’t want him broken. He’s more fun to play with like this.”


“I can see that might be the case. However I should warn you that we aren’t very tolerant here.” I get a sinking feeling in my stomach as he says this, my burning shoulders reminding me what not being “very tolerant” might mean.


“Don’t worry. He knows who’s in charge,” Skinner says. “And I have no trouble at all keeping him in line. He’s always obedient with me. Completely. Isn’t that so, Fox?”


“Yes, master,” I mutter. It’s hard to believe that he’s not enjoying himself with this despite all that talk about acting a role.


I watch, enviously, as Saunders feeds Nick a slice of toast. I’m starving. Then I stiffen as Matt comes in. He catches my eye and grins at me, the grin of someone who totally expects to get exactly what he wants before too long. And it doesn’t take much to work out what it is he wants.


He’s got this poor kid on a lead, and the boy (he can’t be more than twenty) is covered in welts and bruises, and looks totally miserable. I realise with a pang of guilt that Matt had to take out his humiliation last night on somebody. The kid scurries off to get breakfast, and on his return kneels beside Matt, his head down.


“You hungry?” Matt leers at the boy who nods, licking his lips. Matt grins. “Here.” He puts some food on a plate, places it on the ground, and sits back in his chair to watch. “Eat,” he commands. The boy puts his hands out but Matt stops him with his foot. “No hands. Use your mouth.” The boy nods and puts his head down to the plate, eating like a dog. Matt grins again, and his eyes meet mine. The expression on his face is vicious, savage and salacious. His eyes rake over my body, the desire in them undisguised. I feel myself reacting, my muscles tensing. I want to crush his breakfast all over his stupid, battered face but Skinner has seen the exchange, senses my mood, and distracts me.


“Breakfast, Fox,” he murmurs, handing me a slice of bread, his hand brushing my wrist as he gives me a warning glance.


“Thank you, sir.”


“You can use your hands,” he says, his remark directed pointedly at Matt, at whom he’s glaring across the table, not me.


“Yes, sir.”


If it’s not acceptable for me to sit up at the table and eat like a normal human being then at least I retain some dignity this way. Skinner sees that I get as big a breakfast as he does – handing me bite sized pieces of bacon and sausage to lessen the indignity of having to eat messily with my fingers. I use the opportunity to take a good look around the room. There are about fifteen tops, and the same number of subs, but whether that’s the sum total of people here, or just the first people to have arrived for breakfast, I can’t tell.


After breakfast Saunders shows us around this strange, sprawling underground complex. In fact, he shows Skinner around and I just trail along behind, digging my fingernails into the palms of my hand to remind myself not to talk, and not to ask questions. This is tough – I’m naturally curious and although Skinner asks most of the stuff that occurs to me, there are a couple of times when he doesn’t, and I’m burning to open my mouth and start firing. I only forget myself once and Skinner treads on my bare foot in time to stop me. It’s amazing how much of a distraction a bruised toe can be.


The complex has a swimming pool, gym, and sauna, as well as an extensive relaxation area. In addition to the library and dining hall there are several other meeting rooms, including one with a large pool table in it where a few slave boys are hanging around aimlessly playing pool. They snap to attention when Saunders enters the room, and I notice a couple of them looking speculatively and appreciatively at Skinner. I also have to admit that I watch him to see if he’s looking equally appreciatively at them but he isn’t. He doesn’t even spare them a glance. Well why would he? It’s not as if I’m eyeing all the tops after all.


Finally Saunders takes us into a huge, bare, empty cavern with sand on the floor.


“What’s this for?” Skinner asks, and I’m equally mystified.


“Oh you’ll see. Later on this evening,” Saunders replies, before taking us through the cavern into a much smaller room. At one end there is a huge stone altar, and above that hangs a mural depicting a battle between a man and a bull. The bull is definitely losing. There are some wooden benches on either side of the room and it has the air of a chapel.


“A place of worship?” Skinner asks, one eyebrow raised in semi-disbelief.


“You could say that. If you pass certain…challenges, then this where you will be initiated into the Brotherhood,” Saunders replies, his face deadly serious.


I want to get out of here as fast as I can. We’re in crazy-religious-cult territory, and that’s even worse than being in lunatic-secret-sadist-society territory. Put the two together and you’re in such deep shit you might as well stop breathing and wait to be measured for your coffin. Except it’s more likely Skinner’s coffin, and my virginity. I bet there are guys here who’d just love to “break” me in. Right now Skinner is all that’s standing between them and me, but that’s not the only reason I want to keep him alive. There are truckloads of other reasons as well – not least the fact that if any man is going to get his hands on my cherry then I’d prefer it to be him. That’s something I don’t want to think about, so I’m relieved when Saunders starts to take us back towards the huge cavernous room we came through to get here.


I notice before we leave the “chapel” that there is another door at the end – a door he hasn’t led us through. Skinner points at it, an inquiring look on his face, and Saunders shakes his head.


“You don’t want to go in there,” he says quietly. “Trust me.” Shit, it’s like Bluebeard’s castle. I wonder if there’s trussed up corpses in there, or dismembered heads on sharpened sticks. I wouldn’t be surprised.


We return to the gym where Saunders suggests that Skinner works out.


“Slaves can use the facilities at certain times of the day.” He glances at me. “During the rest period before dinner for example. As long as their master has given them permission.”


“What about fresh air?” Skinner asks. “I noticed that Matt was dressed for riding. I assume that wasn’t just a costume?”


“Of course not.” Saunders shakes his head. “Later, when you’ve been initiated, you will be allowed full use of the complex, including the outdoor facilities. Until that time, please keep yourself confined to those areas I have shown you, Mr. Skinner. I don’t like to make threats, or indulge in pointless posturing with another top outside the Arena, but you should be fully aware that the penalties for ignoring my instructions are severe.” I don’t have time to wonder what he means by the “arena” because suddenly his gaze falls on me. “Your sub should also be aware of those penalties. In fact, in view of his somewhat…temperamental nature, perhaps there is another place I should show you.” He gestures that we follow him again.


He takes us down a series of dark, dimly lit corridors, going in a distinctly downhill direction until we end up in a dungeon area, with locked gates. He takes out a key and opens the door, showing us inside.


“This is the Zone,” he murmurs, and I exchange a look with Skinner. I told him about the Zone last night. “I believe there is only one occupant at the moment.”


Saunders opens another door and I walk in then stop short, recoiling in horror. I back up, ending up tight against Skinner’s chest as he tries to enter the cell behind me, not having seen what I have.


“What is it, Fox?” His hands find my arms and he pushes me to one side, then I feel and hear him take a deep breath. There’s a guy in here who’s been stripped naked, and manacled to some sort of upright rack. His body is covered with whip marks from head to toe, back and front, and there’s some sort of contraption attached to his genitals, weighting them down, that looks so painful I want to vomit. His mouth is forced open and transfixed by a wad of metal that is so tight it’s given him sores around his lips. His eyes open as we enter and he looks at us in mute despair and pleading, flinching as if he expects some new torment. I find myself shivering, and suppress a strangled yelp as I see that there’s something up his ass as well. I don’t want to know what; I don’t want to see any more. I want to be sick. I can’t think or breathe, and I’m aware that I’m hyperventilating badly. Skinner’s hands close more tightly around my arms and he’s pressed so close behind me that I can feel the shudder that goes through his body. His chest is solid and reassuring against my back, and then suddenly, unexpectedly, he moves his arms around my chest, and holds me tight. We stand there for a moment, eyes closed, taking what comfort we can from each other to avoid looking the true horror of our situation in the face. Then the moment passes, Skinner pulls me back out of the cell without a word, and pushes me quickly out of the Zone, not waiting for Saunders who is locking doors behind us.


“How long…?” Skinner asks when Saunders rejoins us in the gym area.


“How long has he been kept like that? Two days.” Saunders shrugs. “He’s untied for a half an hour each six hours to urinate, defecate, eat and drink. When he’s re-tied he’s also whipped again. He’s learned not to look forward to the freedom and the food – knowing that it also means more pain and the discomfort of being reattached to certain…devices.”


“And how much longer?” Skinner asks.


Saunders shrugs. “That depends. He wasn’t being very obedient,” Saunders glances at me. “And his master isn’t very happy with him right now. So, another day minimum. Then we might see how eager he is to serve his master again. If he can convince us then we’ll consider letting him return to normal service.”


“It seems like a tough punishment,” Skinner remarks.


“We are tough.” Saunders shrugs. “I told you, Mr Skinner, there are no limits here. No safe words. The subs like the danger as much as we do. They don’t want us to be soft. They like to know that there are ultimately, some very cruel sanctions.”


“Supposing it went too far? Supposing someone died?” I hold my breath as Skinner asks this question but Saunders doesn’t seem to suspect anything.


“It doesn’t.” Saunders shrugs. “And none of our subs has died. That would defeat the object. We want them obedient but warm – it’s no fun fucking a corpse, Mr. Skinner.”


“Crudely put, Mr. Saunders,” Skinner responds smoothly.


Saunders chuckles loudly, and his gaze lingers on me again.


“You know, a spell in the Zone might do wonders for his attitude,” he murmurs. I can’t help the incoherent choking sound that escapes from my throat.


“I wouldn’t agree to that,” Skinner says firmly, moving between me and Saunders.


“If he breaks certain rules then you’d have no choice.” Saunders shrugs. “We accept your authority over him to a certain extent, and as long as you keep him under control there shouldn’t be a problem with you punishing him any way you see fit, and I trust you DO see fit on occasions. He certainly needs it. However, if he were to break any serious community rules, then the matter would be out of your hands. As, indeed, would be the case if you were to break any such rules yourself.”


“We understand.” Skinner nods, exhaling a deep breath. “Don’t we, Fox?” I’m surprised to feel his hand on the back of my neck, digging into my flesh savagely.


“Yes, sir,” I mutter. If anything could keep me quiet and obedient it’s the thought of the Zone. I’m feeling pretty subdued as Saunders shows Skinner where he can find clothing suitable for a work out.


“You should take this opportunity to use the gym,” Saunders states. “You must keep in good shape in order to succeed in the ‘challenges’ I mentioned earlier.”


We both watch as Saunders leaves us, going in the direction of the pool. I don’t even see Skinner move so I’m surprised to find myself thrown against the wall, his hands digging into my shoulders as he looks into my eyes.


“Don’t do anything to upset them,” he warns me urgently. “I mean it, Mulder. I’ll whip your ass myself if it’ll stop you. Anything rather than let them get their sick hands on you.” His fingers are rough and he’s hurting me, but right at this moment I don’t care. I’m not surprised he’s lost control after what we witnessed. He’s scared of standing by helplessly and having to watch them hurt me, and I’d feel the same way if our situations were reversed. His part of this deal is just as hard as mine. Harder maybe. I just nod, shakily.


“It’s all right. I’m not stupid,” I tell him, staring into his eyes, trying to will him back into control of himself because he’s right on the edge. “It’s okay.” I put my hands over his, and gently loosen them from my shoulders. He takes a deep breath and nods, then lets me go and runs an open palm over his bald head as if smoothing away imaginary hair.


“Okay. Yes. Okay,” he mutters to himself, unbuttoning his shirt so savagely that he pulls a couple of buttons off. He hangs it up neatly – I think being neat is some reflex action for him. He just seems to hate mess and he’s using these rituals of tidiness to keep himself sane right now. “Okay,” he’s still muttering as another top enters the changing room with a sub in tow. I watch in envy as the sub helps his master to change, then some sort of instinct takes over and I go to where Skinner is sitting, kneel in front of him, and help him into his sneakers, putting them on his feet and tying up the laces. He lays a hand on my shoulder, and touches me softly as I do this. It’s an apology for his roughness, for losing control, and I want to stop what I’m doing and let him caress me all over, to reassure him that I know his anger wasn’t directed at me but at them. Then the moment passes, and he gets up and I follow him into the gym.


Watching him exercise is more absorbing than I could ever have imagined. Forget tracking down alien bounty hunters, and sparring with Krycek – this is far better. He’s got all this negative energy and he’s just bursting to take it out on something. Rowing machines, pec-decks, cross trainers, treadmills, and ab crunchers all take the strain of his mood. I’m not required to do more than stand by with a towel, which he needs to use every few minutes to wipe the sweat off because he’s going at such a furious pace. He works out in a grim faced silence for fully two hours, doing hundreds of repetitions before he’s finally worked off some of his anger. Then he grabs the towel from me, and informs me that he’s going for a swim.


“Stay at the poolside – I want you in sight the whole time,” he instructs and I nod, only too happy to oblige.


Watching him swim is good as well. I’m so absorbed in the sight of that bald head bludgeoning the water into submission as he butterflies through it, that I don’t notice Matt until he’s pressed up close behind me, one arm around my chest, the other insinuating itself down the front of my jeans.


“Don’t move, brat,” he whispers. I tense up and I’m on the verge of pushing him away when I remember the Zone and the expression on Skinner’s face as he held me against the wall in the changing room. I try consciously to relax. Skinner has just turned and has his back to us as he powers down another length. If Matt wants to do anything he’s got less than forty seconds before Skinner makes his next turn. “I’m going to fuck you one day,” Matt whispers in my ear. “I don’t think your master has much between his legs. I think you’re just panting for a real man to take you, hard and fast. Isn’t that what you’d like, Fox?”


“Don’t touch me.” I say, through gritted teeth. His hand is round my cock, stroking it. I close my eyes, and try to concentrate on holding my temper in check.


“I’ll win you,” he whispers. “I’ll show you what a real man feels like. I’ll bend you over, and fuck you, and then I’ll beat you so hard you’ll be begging me to touch you, not refusing me. Begging, brat. Begging. Anything to stop my whip tearing your flesh from your bones. If I’m feeling kind I might even listen, but I don’t often feel kind.” He gives a staccato little laugh. I open my eyes and search the pool for Skinner, feeling sure that he’ll have turned and seen what’s happening, but there are too many people in the pool and I’ve lost sight of him. I fight down a rising sense of panic, itching to deck this guy but knowing that the penalty for that is likely to be a lot worse than the few stripes across the shoulders I took last night.


“You see,” Matt’s breath is hot against my cheek. “I like someone who needs to be subdued. I like to take a sub with fire in his belly and show him who’s boss. Sometimes you don’t act like you’ve been trained at all, brat. You’re just waiting for someone strong to take charge of you. Skinner isn’t that guy. He doesn’t hurt you enough – you’re not scared of him enough. You’d be scared of me though.” He licks my ear and I shudder.


“If this is your idea of talking dirty and turning me on you can forget it,” I whisper, fixing my eyes pointedly on my cock, which is still limp despite his vigorous efforts at arousing me. “You wouldn’t know where to begin with me, Matt.”


“Sir.” He squeezes viciously and I choke, only barely able to hold onto my temper and howling silently in pain. At that moment, Skinner emerges from the pool, shaking his body like a dog, soaking the subs at the poolside in droplets of water. Nobody complains. Matt removes his hand from my jeans and straightens up, smiling at Skinner in an unthreatening way as my boss comes over.


“I’ve been watching you. There’s something not quite right about you two,” Matt murmurs. “He wants to punish you but he holds back – I’ve seen it. And you want to serve him but you hold back as well, and you clearly aren’t under control. If you were mine you would be. I’d see to that.” He pushes past Skinner and dives headfirst into the water, causing a huge splash and soaking us all again.


Skinner has heard the whole of that last part of our conversation and he looks grim as he starts to dry himself. I step up to him and take the towel out of his hands and he stiffens as I start to dry him.


“Time for a good show. He might be onto us,” I whisper in his ear, wishing that I wasn’t using this as an excuse to run my hands over his body. He nods and relaxes, allowing me to rub him dry, drawing admiring gazes from some of the other subs who are devouring the sight of his naked body. None of the swimmers are wearing any trunks. I guess it’s just not that sort of place, but I manage to keep my eyes from staring at my boss’s impressive cock with too much salacious curiosity. I’ve never been attracted to a man before. At least I don’t think so. Not like this. Is it just this place with its rules and the atmosphere of lust and sex? Or is it the way we’ve been thrown together in this dangerous, life-threatening situation? That can happen. People bond very quickly in these kinds of circumstances. Does he feel anything for me, beyond his usual protective concern for one of his agents, combined with his desire to see justice done, to solve a difficult case, to uphold law and order and bring a murderer to trial?


I draw him away to the relaxation area, and gesture to him to lie down on one of the massage tables. Three other men are also being massaged, and I watch as Nick dips his fingers in oil and rubs his hands along Saunders’s meaty calves. Nick’s eyes are half-closed, and his tongue is sticking out between his lips in rapt concentration as he works. He’s been at it for some time judging by Saunders’s smoothly glistening skin and the relaxed state of his muscles. Nick finishes, and kneels obediently by the table.


“Does master require anything else?” he asks in a soft, adoring voice. Saunders opens a lazy eye.


“No. Thank you, Nick. That was very nice.” Nick sighs with pleasure and Saunders smiles, and turns over onto his back. “Here.” He pulls Nick close, unbuttons his jeans, slides his hand inside, and finds Nick’s bulging cock. He fondles it lazily, his eyes fixed on Nick’s panting face which is lost in an expression of rapture, his eyes tightly closed. Nick is quivering, on the verge of coming, when Saunders stops his caress. Nick’s eyes fly open, the disappointment etched in them, stark and hungry and needing.


“Finish yourself off. I’ll watch.”


Saunders lies back, placing his hands behind his neck and now Nick grins, a wicked, sly grin. He pushes his jeans down, and delights in showing off his erect cock – not just to his master but to all of us. And everyone in the room is watching of course. It’s impossible to tear your gaze away from the sight of Nick, his hand wrapped around his hard cock as he pumps himself dry, twisting his butt teasingly as he works, the sweat soaking into his dark hair, his tongue moistening his lips. Saunders has a wide grin of proud ownership on his face, and his eyes occasionally flicker around the room, enjoying the interest we are taking in his sub. A sub we can look at but can’t touch – so we know what we’re missing, so that we can see what Saunders gets to enjoy and keep to himself, safe from any other man. You can tell that turns Saunders on, and I’d lay bets that if any of the other tops in the room reached out so much as a fingertip to Nick right now, Saunders would kill them with his bare hands. Finally Nick comes, his back arched, feline and feral, and a collective sigh goes around the room before the subs return to their massaging activities.


Skinner is lying on his front on the massage table so I have no idea whether Nick’s little display aroused him at all, but it sure as hell aroused me. Most of all I was aroused by the look that passed between master and slave. The rhythm between them, two people totally in sync with their desires and needs, each able to give the other exactly what he wants, fitting together like a hand and glove. And there was a moment when I envied them that.


With Nick’s display in my mind, and Matt’s words still ringing in my ears, I get some oil and rub it over my hands before placing them carefully on Skinner’s back. He’s not very relaxed but I don’t suppose I can blame him for that. Frankly, I’ve never been exactly famous for my massage technique, but then my life has never depended on it before and after what Matt said I sense that something skilful is now required from me. And of course it’s not like I don’t WANT to run my hands all over his naked body. I’ve stopped having that internal struggle with myself. I put my heart and soul into this massage; I want him to relax, I want to savor every last stroke that my hands can legitimately give to all that solid, muscular, honey-colored flesh. I want to worship him under the guise of this role. He won’t know, he’ll just think I’m doing my best to save both our asses, but that isn’t the truth. My hands are firm on his flesh, caressing it, making love to it in a way I can’t do in everyday life. I’ve never touched a man’s body like this before and I’m not familiar with it, but it doesn’t matter. What I lack in skill, I make up for in my sheer fascination for his flesh, and my desire to atone in some small way for forcing him to risk his life by coming after me.


I’m not even aware of the rest of the room as I work – my whole being is centered on him, on smoothing away the tension in his neck and making his body relax under my hands. I start with his back, and then move onto his arms, taking one in my hands and rubbing it smoothly, shaking it until it’s loose, rotating it, and finally massaging each finger between my own, very slowly. I love having my own hands massaged and he loves it too; I can tell by looking at the expression on his face. His eyes may be closed but I can still sense what he likes and dislikes. I lose myself in his body, in the role, and time stops for me. I don’t even think about it as I raise his fingers to my lips and kiss each one, and he doesn’t open his eyes or object, or even stiffen. Then I move on up his arm, covering his body in tiny kisses, and he just lies there, accepting it as his due, as a master should. I kiss a line down his back, even over his ass, all the way down his legs to the soles of his feet, and he has my whole heart as I do this. It’s the most erotic moment of my life and if he asks me about it later I can hide behind the role, behind my concern of being found out, behind my fear of the Zone. And of course, he can do the same. Maybe it won’t be a lie for him as it is for me. Maybe.


I massage him all over, back and front, and finally dip my fingers in the oil one last time and massage his scalp. I’ve never touched a man’s bald head in this way before, if at all. There is something more sexual about a naked skull than anything else, and my fingers burn with the ecstasy of this moment. I can almost feel the electricity that oozes from them as I smooth gentle lines across his head, finding bumps and dips I hadn’t expected like the topography of a landscape. He left his glasses behind in the changing room and he’s lying on his back, his face calm and composed under my ministrations. I allow my fingers to gently brush his cheek and soothe down the side of his neck, watching him, fascinated by his proximity, his nakedness, by seeing him, someone I am so familiar with, in this unfamiliar way, stripped of our every day selves, of our working life; away from offices, and reports, and endless arguments about procedure, and 302’s, and lines that shouldn’t be crossed. This is one line I want to cross. I know that now. I’m sure of it. Leaning forward, I press my lips against his forehead and kiss him softly, with all the certainty of this new found affection.


Then it’s over. My fingers just stop and I sit back, noticing for the first time the silence that has fallen on the room. Looking up I see that we have been watched, that my loving massage was the focus of as much attention as Nick jerking himself off. Saunders is lying on his stomach gazing at me, transfixed, and Matt has come into the room and is leaning against the wall, a jealous frown on his face. Nick is smiling at me with a look of recognition, one sub to another, acknowledging and sharing a devotion to our respective masters. Skinner seems to notice the atmosphere too, and his eyes snap open and he glances around.


“That was beautiful, Fox. Thank you,” Saunders murmurs. “I think now we are able to see why your master tolerates your sometimes less than desirable behavior. You are a man to be envied, Mr. Skinner.” He smiles that smile of his at Skinner, who clears his throat and grunts something incoherent. “I’m sure you’ll show your appreciation of that fine display,” Saunders adds.


“Of course,” Skinner says. His eyes meet mine and we’re both transfixed for a moment, remembering how Saunders rewarded Nick. I do not want Skinner to start jerking me off in public – the thought of it brings me out in a cold sweat but he does something much more touching instead. He sits up, swings his legs over the side of the massage table, and takes hold my face between his hands. Then he kisses my forehead, my nose, and finally, softly, my lips. It’s not a sexual kiss – just a light touch on my mouth, nothing that we won’t both be able to live with later, but all the same it sends streaks of lightning up and down my body, and my legs start to shake. Saunders seems satisfied with this, as does the rest of the room, and once again normal service is resumed. Matt for one seems to think the whole tone of the place has become unforgivably mushy. He beckons to a sub and throws him over one of the massage tables before proceeding to ‘take’ him in the most perfunctory and brutal way, his eyes fixed on me the whole time with an expression of hate. It’s not hard to imagine whom he’s metaphorically fucking inside his head. Skinner gets up, wraps a towel around his waist, and draws me away. I’m relieved to follow him, leaving the sounds of Matt impaling his conquest behind me.


There are three other tops in the changing room when we return there. Skinner pulls on his briefs and pants, and reaches for his shirt, but I get there first.


“Master should allow me,” I murmur, holding it open for him. Then I button it up slowly, and fasten his pants for him, and do up his belt. He submits to this, flushing slightly, and once again I kneel down and help him into his shoes, and his hand plays almost idly with my hair as I tie up his laces. Finally he’s dressed and we walk along the corridors without speaking.


I’m so lost in the fantasy of serving him and adoring him that it feels almost as if he’s punched me in the stomach when, upon reaching the sanctuary of our room and closing the door behind us, he turns to me and says:


“Mulder, we’ve got to get out of this place. And soon.”


It’s not that I don’t want to get out of this madness, but that it seems like a rejection of the experience we just went through together. Maybe this shows on my face because he stops the pacing he’s started and stares at me for a moment.


“You’re in danger,” he growls. “From Matt, from Saunders, from all of them. And we should find out whatever it is he’s keeping in that room we can’t go in. Somewhere along the line we have a murderer to catch.”


“I know that,” I snap back at him. “It was my goddamn idea to look for him here wasn’t it?”


“Yeah, and it was your goddamn idea to disobey every goddamn order I damn well gave you,” he spits, balling his hands into fists.


“Yeah, well when you start giving sensible orders then I’ll damn well start obeying them,” I yell.


“You wouldn’t obey any order, even if it was to keep breathing, which, incidentally, I’m trying to damn well keep you doing,” he snarls back.


“I don’t need your help staying alive; I’ve managed it myself for well over thirty years.” I can feel my voice breaking with the sexual tension, the arousal, the danger.


“Yourself? Yeah! Right! Like Scully and I didn’t have something to do with that!” he throws back.


“I don’t need you, or Scully or anyone else. I was doing just fine until you showed up.”


“Nearly being raped by that broken nosed bastard is what you call ‘doing fine’?” His tone is low and savage.


“Oh I’m used to being screwed over. Screwed by him, or you, or the FBI, or the Consortium. What fucking difference does it make to you?”


“I’ll tell you what fucking difference it makes to me!” He strides over to me, and slams me against the wall. “You – always trying to get my damn attention; that’s the fucking difference it makes to me. You’re always flicking, and flirting, and hissing like you’re a cat that wants petting. Like a proverbial goddamn tease. I ignored it at first because it soon became as clear as hell to me that you flirt with everyone, but you couldn’t leave it alone with me could you? You’re always showing off, always challenging me to do something, anything, to get hold of you and…”


“And?” I ask coolly, breathing too fast, looking into his dark, angry eyes, seeing the frustration in them and something uncontrolled – something sexual. Realization floods back in, and he lets me go, flings himself down on the armchair, and takes a deep breath.


“Nothing. Forget I said all that. This place is getting to me, that’s all. We’re buying into the mentality of these people too much. I didn’t mean anything. Ignore it.”


“No. I want to know what you meant by all that.” I come and stand in front of him, confronting him and he looks up, his eyes flashing behind his glasses.


“All right. I meant what I said. You wanted my attention and now you’ve got it, Mulder. Finally. After all this time. Question is, can you handle it?” He sits up in the chair and reaches out to grab me, pulling me over with one big hand around my waist, somehow forcing me down onto my knees, and then he wraps his hand in my hair, pulls my head back and kisses my throat. Hard. “Is this what you wanted, Mulder?” he murmurs, dipping my head back so that he can take more, biting my earlobe, my neck. I hang there for a moment, wanting to say “no”. Wanting to tell him that he’s wrong, to knock his hands away and act the affronted agent but my body betrays me.


“Yes,” I whisper.


“I know.” His other hand is rough on my body, finding my nipples and caressing them with firm fingers. “I’ve always known,” he says.


“How? I didn’t. Not until Lenny.”


“Yeah. I heard that tape,” he growls, his hand still keeping my head forced back. “I guess you didn’t know – that the behavior was subconscious. No wonder you were so mad with Lenny. That sort of knowledge must have come as a shock.”


“It did. How did you know? How long have you known?” I ask, my hands flailing wildly as he pushes me further back, forcing me off balance.


“Years. Since the time you ran off to that goddamn observatory in Puerto Rico after I told you to stay put and work on those surveillance tapes. At first I thought you were just an insubordinate jerk, but it was the way you handled all those quests of yours. The way you’d flare up like a firework, making a loud noise, and a pretty display. I couldn’t figure out who it was you wanted to watch you for a while – I could hardly imagine that it was me. Not until you started talking about your ass the whole time.”


“My ass?” His fingers are burning lines of fire down my chest, claiming me.


“Yeah. Every time we had a conversation you managed to get some mention of your ass in somewhere. We had asses being kicked, asses being hauled off, asses in slings, asses all over the goddamn place. Either you were trying to draw my attention to your ass, or you had an unhealthy obsession with your own butt. So, yeah, I started to notice your ass, which was presumably what you wanted.”


“I thought you were straight,” I whisper.


“You thought you were as well.” He sucks on my neck, drawing up the blood like a vampire.


“I don’t know what I am any more.” I can feel myself drowning under his teeth.


“Yes you do, Fox.” He draws back and grins at me, a feral grin. “You’re what you always have been. What you’ve always wanted to be.”


“What’s that?” I ask.


“Mine,” he replies.


I hang there for a while, staring at him, knowing inside my soul that this is the truth I’ve denied for so long, wanting to fight it, struggling to comprehend it, and failing to do both. It’s a fact of my life and it has always been with me. I just never knew it before.


“What are you saying? Real life has been our subterfuge and finally here, we are who we really are?” My mind tries to wrap itself around this concept and fails. The way his hands and lips are roving all over my body isn’t helping matters.


“Don’t mistake me for one of these sick bastards,” he growls. “I’m nothing like them. And they’re right – you’re way too disobedient to make a good goddamn sub. Now you’ve started something here, Fox. Do you want me to finish it?”


He stands up, powers me over to the bed, and pushes me onto it, one big hand on my chest, holding me down as he leans over me. “I can still stop. We can pretend this never happened. Is that what you want?” His eyes are darker than ever, burning with a kind of weird energy, as if he’s holding on with the last ounce of his will power, and I know that if I say “no” he’ll pull himself back from the brink and collect himself. He’ll be true to his word and not speak about this again.


“Yes.” I pull his head down and kiss him hard.


He growls again, and straddles my body, holding my arms down on the bed. “You’ve never done this before,” he says. It’s not a question. He just knows.




“I’m rough.” He slams my hands down again as if to illustrate that point. “When I’m like this – I’m rough. Can you handle that?”


“Yes.” I nod, trying to move my arms, to put them around his neck, but his grip is like a vice.


“Don’t move,” he warns. I can’t believe he’s the same Skinner. He seems transformed, trembling with sexual desire, lost in it in a way I’d never have believed. It’s frightening. “I’ve had to keep myself under control for a long time with you. I knew I couldn’t exactly just throw you over my desk and show you what you didn’t even realize you wanted,” he hisses. “I had to rein myself in. When I lose control I’m different. It might be more than you bargained for. Do you trust me?”


I can feel my cock hardening in my jeans. Him, pinning me here like this, is the biggest turn-on I’ve ever had. And his cock is stiff against my abdomen, I can feel it digging into me.


“Yeah, I trust you. I trust you with my goddamn life. Just fuck me,” I plead.


“No,” he says, his breathing shallow with desire.


“What?” I struggle in his arms again but he’s too strong for me and he thumps me back down onto the bed, squeezing my wrists too hard.


“Not when I’m like this. Not for your first time. I’m too damn big, and I’m going to be too out of control to go slowly. I’d hurt you.”


“Then hurt me!” I moan with frustration. “Just fucking well fuck me!”


He stares down at me, still breathing heavily, struggling with himself. Then he gives in to it and becomes a frenzy of action. He grabs my head, and kisses my lips, biting them. His head dips lower, his teeth find one of my nipples, and he bites down hard, one hand holding me down as I moan and squirm under this savage caress. Another bite on the skin over my ribs hurts like hell. His mouth goes up to my shoulder


and he bites again, harder than before, making me scream. He holds me down, his fingers rough. “Don’t move. Don’t struggle. It makes me worse,” he hisses, his hands slapping mine away as I try and roll to one side, to get out from under him. “Submit, Fox. Submit.” He smells of something raw and primal, and the scent of his sweat overpowers me, making me feel dizzy. He grabs my jeans, pulls them open, and disposes of them, tossing them onto the floor. His fingers run over my swollen cock and I moan and thrust into his hand. “Don’t come,” he hisses, squeezing, pumping me, making me gasp with pleasure. “Don’t fucking come, or I swear I’ll use one of those whips in that cabinet on your disobedient ass.”


The way he’s talking, the way he’s touching me, reduces me to a quivering heap of jello. I’ve never been turned on like this before. His strength, the animal quality in him, is sending me crazy. And he’s telling me not to come?


“You must be out of your fucking mind,” I groan, thrusting up again and then I yowl in pain as he slaps my cock, hard.


“I’ll tell you when.” He gets hold of me by the waist, and throws me bodily off the bed. “Get the condoms and lube. Quickly!” He barks and I’m into the bathroom and back out again in under 4 seconds. He’s got his shirt off and is unbuttoning his pants.


“I’ll do it.”


My hands are shaking as I open them up. He’s said he’s big and I want to see just how big he gets when he’s aroused. I could see he wasn’t exactly small when he was in the pool, but the size of him erect takes my breath away.


“Still so sure you want me to fuck you?” He pulls me tight against him, his erection digging painfully into my thigh, brushing against my own. I nod, unable to breathe when I can feel the width and length of him so close to me.


“Just do what you want to me. Fuck me, hurt me, I don’t care. You’ve done this before haven’t you? With a man?” I ask, trying to find him again, trying to see into his eyes, to find my calm, controlled, rational boss, but he isn’t there. The sexual fury I’ve unleashed has gone too far. I’m not sure he could turn back now even if I did refuse him. He’s a different man, wild and abandoned, but I can’t complain that he didn’t warn me.


“Yes. I’ve done this before. With a man. You see,” he’s running his fingers along my back, scratching me with his nails. “I can only really let go like this with another guy. Too well brought up I guess.” He gives a barking laugh. “I was always taught to be respectful to ladies. I hold myself back with women, but with men, that’s different. I can be rough, out of control. You’re strong, young, you can take it. Hell, you want to take it. You want it. You want me.” He says that with a sort of pride, and I can feel his erection hardening even more against my leg.


His lips pound on mine again, sucking me dry, making my mouth bleed. Then he grasps me even closer, imprisoning me in his arms, holds my head against his neck and bites the side of my throat, thrusting against me like a rutting stag. I can’t do anything but go limp in his arms, allowing him to use my body the way I want it to be used, the way he wants to use it. He draws back, and tosses me down on the bed on my front, his hand slamming against the back of my neck, holding me still. Then I can feel his lips on my back, biting on my shoulder blade. A hard bite like before, wringing a scream from my lips, and making me struggle.


“I told you to keep still,” he hisses. “You don’t know what it does to me when you move.” I’m reminded of a cat holding down a mouse, just keeping it there with one paw, lazy and idle while the mouse remains quiet, but turning vicious as soon as the mouse tries to escape. That’s what he’s like now and I do my best to just lie there and accept the savagery of his assault. My cock is hard, aroused by his strength, and his tongue finds my butt.


“Ah, the famous ass,” he mutters, licking me there, his tongue entering up my crease and making me sigh. I can feel his weight shifting as he puts one hand on the top of my thighs, the other on my spine.


“Don’t move or I’ll break you in two.” He pauses, and then I feel his teeth biting down on one of my buttocks, and I’m screaming as that bite goes on, and on, and on, claiming me, marking me as his while he holds me down. Then finally he loosens his teeth, licks at the bite mark he’s made, and I lie there whimpering. “Fox…?” His hand brushes my hair. “You still with me?”


“Yeah.” My response is muffled by the pillow, which I’ve got between my teeth.


“You’re right, Fox. Your ass is worthy of my attention. I’m glad you were kind enough to point it out to me.” He laughs, a low bass rumbling sound that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Then he has his hands on my balls, stroking them, licking them.


“Don’t bite me there or I’ll die,” I mutter, and he laughs again, petting me like I’m a dog or rabbit.


“Wait ’til you feel my cock up your ass. You just might die.”


His big hands seem to be on every part of my body simultaneously, including my cock, and inside my ass, and I can’t stop myself thrusting again, needing the sweet release of orgasm but he won’t give it to me.


“Please,” I moan pathetically.


“Don’t talk.” He’s everywhere, like some inescapable force, some elemental power, blowing my brains out and taking my breath away. “On your knees.” He picks me up and holds me. My knees are on the bed, my back pressed against his chest, his arms holding me tight so that I can feel his cock pressed up against me. It’s wet and slippery, and I realize he’s already put a condom on it, and lube. His fingers press further inside me, slick and cool with the lubricant, and unerringly find my prostate, making me gasp out loud.


“It gets better than that,” he growls, rubbing insistently, working me open with his fingers. “Open up for me, you have to take more than a couple of fingers.” His voice is like silk, cool and sensual, and I do as he says, thrusting back, trying to swallow his whole hand, to feel even more of him inside me. After several long, blissful minutes, his fingers withdraw, and I moan in disappointed frustration. “Who do you belong to?” he asks me, his cock nuzzling between my butt cheeks, teasing and hard.


“You,” I groan as his fingers wrap themselves around my cock and pump again.


“Louder.” His voice is in my ear, in my head.


“You. Fuck you. You, you, YOU!” I scream, wanting release, wanting my orgasm.


“Don’t come,” he growls, his hand leaving my cock, making me sweat with the disappointment of it, wringing a moan of anguish from me. His fingers are on my thighs, holding me tight, pushing me forward. One hand is around my waist, and, without warning, he suddenly thrusts into me, hard. I’ve never felt anything like this before. First of all it hurts like hell, as he breaches the ring of muscle in my ass, slamming forward with his thighs, holding me up with his hand so I can’t escape the initial thrust. Then he smoothly rocks forward, ramming me hard and at the same time seizes my cock once more.


“Shit…” I moan. He’s quiet and all I am right now is a mess of sensation. I can feel the hardness of him inside my ass, and hear the sound of his breathing. His head is next to mine, his breath warm and hungry on my neck. I fall silent, stilled, becoming used to this new sensation, accustomed to the hard size of him inside me. It’s as if we’re welded together there, me accepting him within me, he waiting, holding himself inside me, unmoving. We’re joined, one, our breathing the only sound we make, the rise and fall of our chests our only movement.


It’s the calm before the storm because then he suddenly growls and thrusts and it’s exquisite, like nothing I can describe – it hurts so much but feels so goddamn good. With each thrust of molten pain, he pumps my cock until my nerve endings are a confusion of messages. Some are telling me I’m having the best time of my life, others telling me I’m on fire with pain in my ass, and more still telling me I’m about to damn well die of pleasure. He draws back, rough and slick, then thrusts again and again, each time stroking my cock hard.


“Son of a goddamn bitch,” I moan, putting my head back, trying to remember to breathe, feeling my sweat running down my face.


“Yeah,” he laughs. “Yeah. And you’re mine. Don’t forget that.” And then he loses it completely and rams into me hard, fast, over and over again until I’m crying out, unable to stay on my knees any more, relying on his big hands to hold me where he wants me, to keep me from toppling over. One of his arms is around my waist, gripping me tight to his chest, the other is working my cock in time to his thrusts and I’m helpless, transfixed. I can feel my ass muscles constricting around him, struggling against him but this doesn’t stop him. He’s too strong, too fast, and too far gone.


“Accept me, damn you.” He pushes harder, rougher, taking what he wants where my body won’t give it up freely, and I find myself opening up more of my body to that insistent hardness.


His mouth lingers against my neck, his teeth nipping at my skin. I can feel myself about to burst and he senses it too. “You can come,” he whispers. “Now. Come now.” And on cue I do, spurting out in wave after wave, more than I’ve ever come before. Then I’m spent and the sensation in my cock is gone.


He removes his hand and places it flat against my abdomen, drawing me even further onto his erect penis, grinding his thighs into my butt. “I haven’t come yet. I’m not ready yet. How much longer can you stand this, can you bear me in you?” he breathes against my ear.


“I don’t know,” I whimper. “Hurts.”


“Yeah.” He thrusts, angling up against my prostrate making me gasp. “And it feels good too, doesn’t it?” He draws back again, thrusts again. “Well?” he asks.


“Yes. Feels good too,” I pant.


“Mine.” He seizes my hips and pulls me so tight against him that his cock is thrust even deeper inside me. He’s so hard, so big, that I’m losing my bearings. It’s just me and his arms holding me up, his cock within me, claiming me, filling me, owning me. Then he reaches a frenzy, tossing me around like I weigh nothing, pulling and pushing at me, sliding deep inside me, then drawing out, pushing back in so fast I don’t have time to catch my breath. I hear him shudder, and then he roars as the orgasm claims him, holding me tight against his chest again, his sweat mingling with mine, his stubbly cheek rough against my own. It’s a primal roar of sheer sexual release. A sound of victory, ownership, triumph, pleasure.


We kneel there for a long time, he holding my body tight against him, kissing my neck, nuzzling me, his arms wrapped tight around me.


Then he just drops me. He doesn’t say a word, just withdraws from my battered, sated body, and goes to the bathroom. I feel empty, drained, and totally and absolutely fucked; fucked all the way up my ass, and all the way down into my soul. I’ve never felt such emotions before, never experienced something so raw, savage, and entirely without mercy. I’ve never surrendered myself to anything so completely, or, paradoxically, felt so safe. It just felt right, but him leaving me doesn’t. I want his kisses and his reassurance. I don’t want to feel like I was just a body to him, someone on whom to take out his anger, sexual frustration, and his need to possess. I can hear him washing himself, as if he wants to get rid of the scent of me. He’s gone a long time, and when he returns to the bedroom his face is hard and closed and he’s wearing a long robe, hiding himself from me. He goes and sits down in the chair, a long way from me, not even looking at me. I feel as if I’m an object of disgust.


“Sir?” I can’t stand it. I feel lost, alone, when moments ago during that frenzied coupling I felt as if I belonged to someone, and was part of something. He flinches when I go and touch him.


“Don’t.” He shrugs.


“Why not? Shit, why the fuck not after what we just did?” I ask, feeling hurt.


He shakes his head. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. I hate it when I…when I lose it like that.”


“But I wanted you.” I take his face between my hands, and kiss him on the lips. “I really wanted you, Walter.”


“Fox.” He attempts a smile at our first name terms. “Did I hurt you? I’m sorry. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold back. Shit I should have said ‘no’. I shouldn’t have got us into this.”


“I told you to go ahead. It was…unbelievable.” I exhale heavily.


“But I hurt you,” he says wretchedly. “I never wanted to do that. If I hadn’t lost control it could have been gentle. You would have enjoyed it more.”


“Walter, believe me, I couldn’t have enjoyed it much more than that.” I shake my head. “I suppose I wanted to make you lose control. I wanted to be taken, owned like that, in that way. Raw, no holding back. Naked lust, total abandonment. It was a turn on.” I shrug and wince, bites now vying with welts for their place on my pain threshold.


“Shit.” He puts his arms around me and kisses my hair, then buries his face in it. “Shit this just makes it worse.”


“Why?” I ask, pulling him up and leading him back to the bed. I push him down and wrap myself around him, facing him, looking into his eyes.


“Because now I really won’t be able to stand to let them touch you. It was bad enough before but now you’re mine, really mine, no pretense. Now I’ll have to work even harder to keep myself under control.”


“Well you’ve always been good at self-control. Unlike me,” I laugh.


He grins. “Yeah. Never your strong point. Unless I can beat some sense into you.” He wraps me up tight in his arms, his muscles hard against my flesh.


“I’m yours, Master,” I tease. “You can do what the hell you like with me.”


“Don’t think I won’t,” he grunts, kissing me gently. “Don’t damn well think I won’t, Fox.”



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