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This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Deny Nothing

Alex awoke to the sounds of renewed vomiting. Not his own, he was relieved to determine.

Reports from different senses began to filter in, almost convincing him that unconsciousness would be a superior alternative. He was lying on the cheap motel bedspread with stray polyester strands digging into his body. He had been stripped to his underwear. His arm ached like he'd been stretched on the rack. His thigh muscles burned. His head thrummed like bongos in a frat house, and the vile taste in his mouth could have been used as a pesticide.

The retching noises stopped, he heard water running for a minute, and Dana Scully staggered out of the small bathroom. She looked so bad he could hardly believe he'd had sex with her.

Her face was moon-shaped. Over swollen cheeks, her eyes glittered feverishly, and her lips were almost colorless with pain.

She shuffled over to the bed and collapsed onto it.

"You've been out for five hours," she informed him tonelessly. "You seemed to have a nice nap. I'm still sick. I took an antiemetic but it doesn't seem to be working."

"You must have puked it up."

"It's not administered orally." Her eyelids went down as far as they could but failed to close entirely.

She smelled good, despite the illness.

He rolled to the side of the bed and swung his legs to the floor. The world spun like a merry-go-round.

In the bathroom, he pissed and squeezed a dollop of Scully's toothpaste directly into his mouth. He was always discovering new reasons to miss the standard complement of hands. He winced and tried to get his mouth passably clean.

Scully's stretched-tight skin was dotted with sweat when he returned. So, evidently the cure wasn't quite as effective the second time around. The medication was a success, doctor, but the patient died.

He couldn't have her in this condition. In any sense of the word. Alex reached for the phone and dialed. On the sixth ring, Ashley picked up.

"I need your help."

She didn't hesitate. "Where are you?" He was grateful that there was still honor left in the world, though he was also grateful that it was not his.

He looked on the hotel phone and read her the address and room number. "Bring drugs."

"Thirty minutes," she promised.

"Who'zzat?" Scully mumbled.

"A friend. Ashley's a doctor, she'll fix you up."

For some reason, Scully sparked like a match on flint at this. "Her name is Ashley?"

"You thought secret agents could only be Natacha or Marie-Claude?"

Her energy had been used up and he watched as she struggled to breathe. Obviously, Scully wasn't going to be any good for conversation, criminal or otherwise. He picked up the remote control. "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" was on, wasn't it?

****

"Did you hurt one of your fuck-toys?" Ashley asked as he opened the door. "I hate doing stitches."

Ashley was wearing her hair wavy, dark, and just past her shoulders these days. She arrived in a dark blue business suit and suede heels. He noticed that, though she was taller than Scully, her heels were almost as nosebleed- inducing. Maybe all professional women felt the need to get a little perspective that way. At least the deadly ones.

He stepped aside and put his gun away. "I think it's an allergic reaction." Ashley walked over the the bed and put her hand on Scully's forehead. Scully shuddered and tried to focus on the other woman.

"What happened?"

Alex sketched out an abridged history of Scully's relationship to the black oil and its viral load. She listened carefully. "I'm pretty sure I've seen this before, though no one let me know that at the time. I can deal."

She opened her medical bag and removed a syringe.

Scully's hand shot up and captured Ashley's wrist. "What?"

"It should bring the fever and the swelling down," Ashley reassured her. Scully's grip tightened and she pushed the syringe further away from her body.

"She's a doctor too," Alex explained.

Ashley frowned, but launched into a lecture that Scully apparently found sufficiently incomprehensible. In any event, she released her grasp and let Ashley inject her.

He channel-surfed as Ashley waited for the drug to take effect and examined Scully for other signs of trouble. In about twenty minutes, Scully's fever began to abate and her swollen flesh subsided visibly. Ashley gave him two more doses of the anti-inflammatory cocktail and a vial of painkillers for luck.

"I'll call you when we have a better idea of what's going on," he said as he showed her to the door.

She kissed him on the cheek. "Alex, I demand regular reports. It's so surprising to see you concerned for a female of the species."

Scully raised her head from the pillow, grunting with the effort. "Why don't you get your friends to check the rest of the sites out?"

"They want Mulder alive. That's no good reason to let them have him to themselves for any extended period of time. You might not like what you got back."

She blinked up at the ceiling and he could almost hear the microprocessors working. "What makes him so important?"

"What makes you think that it's him?"

She opened her mouth and made a sound that could, conceivably, have been mistaken for laughter. Pressing her fingertips, still swollen around her manicured nails, into her eyelids, Scully shook with desolate amusement.

Warily, he tried to map out a search pattern for the remaining sites on the list.

Scully refused to take another dose of the anti-inflammatory at the appointed time, but that was more a good sign than her continued acquiescence. For someone who painted herself as Mulder's opposite, she had a lot of his habits. She still looked ten years older and two sizes larger, but she'd live.

She showered again while he watched television and tried to think. Scully's intuition had gotten them to a very active site, but what did it mean? First, obviously the smuggler-whatevers were invested in the black cancer, not just in traditional metal weapons. It made sense to offer a varied arsenal these days — one-stop shopping for tin-pot dictators and fanatics with dirty faces. That meant that the other sites were probably also still active, or had been eight hours ago. They needed to keep moving, and quickly. It was too bad Skinner had cut Scully off; they could have used a SWAT team or twelve. He would almost consider bringing his side into the search, but he'd told Scully the truth, or a first cousin once removed to the truth — he didn't trust anyone else to take proper care of Mulder, particularly if whoever had him was using him for further viral experiments. There were plenty of people in the American branch of the Organization who wouldn't mind hanging on to Mulder while they tested to make sure that nothing new had been brewed out of his blood.

Scully returned wearing the previous day's suit. It looked like she needed to spend a few more weeks at Weight Watchers, but no buttons were obviously straining and she walked without wobbling on those killer heels. He'd have expected a more extensive wardrobe, but he guessed that she didn't like to carry the extra load around.

"We should rest," he pointed out. "It's almost dark and then we can look around some more." Without backup, darkness was their best bet. Particularly if Scully could guess a little better this time around.

Scully nodded absently and drifted over to him, moving like a ghost over the cheap carpet.

She reached out and unbuttoned his shirt. Pushing it off of his shoulders, she examined the straps of the prosthesis, then decisively reached for the critical buckle. She removed the harness and put the false arm on the bedside table. Her gaze felt like freezing rain on the reddened and whitened skin where the straps had rubbed his skin and hurt his circulation.

"Stop looking at me," he said and she brought her mouth down to the scar at the top of his shoulder. Freezing rain turned to red-hot iron.

Her tongue circled the line of amputation above and below, swirling over random nubs of flesh and fused skin. There couldn't possibly be any nerve endings there but when she sucked it was like getting a blow job.

She gave his arm more attention than the Russian doctors had, stroking and nibbling at every skin cell. He realized vaguely that he was babbling. "Fuck" and "you bitch" seemed to constitute the entirety of his current vocabulary.

Her little hands worked at his belt, pushing down his zipper, and he lifted his hips so that she could push his pants down. His cock sprang free, straight into her warm dry hand, and he groaned. "Suka ty zlo'ebuchaya." He hadn't been reduced to Russian since … since Mulder, actually.

She pulled away just long enough to strip off her own skirt. When she slid down on him she was still wearing her jacket and blouse. She was like liquid gelatin around him.

He growled appreciation as she rose up, using her strong leg muscles to fuck him as he lay almost unmoving on the bed. His hips flexed but it was really her weight controlling them. Scully leaned forward and braced herself against his chest with her left hand, fingers flexing around his nipple. Her face was curiously blank, like a blow-up doll with her rosebud mouth perpetually pursed for easy entry. With her right hand, she reached past where her shirt flapped against his stomach and began to stroke herself.

Now he was rocking against her in earnest. He raised his hand to caress her cheek, letting his thumb slide past the pink of her swollen lips and into the parallel wetness of her mouth.

Scully closed her eyes and sucked on his thumb. He could feel her knuckles brushing against the top of his groin. Trailing his slick thumb down her chin to the hollow of her throat, he looked up at her straining face.

"Say his name, Scully," he urged. "It's okay."

Her eyes popped open like muzzle flashes and, laser-fast, she slapped him. He could smell the juices she left on his stinging cheek. "Not for you," she grated, then grabbed at his hips. She increased the pace; if she'd had reins on him she undoubtedly would have pulled them tight. This was fucking hard enough to require medical attention. She leaned closer and ground her pelvis into him, flushed and sweating from the stimulation. Her cheeks were so red they looked as if they'd been painted on her doll's face. Her shirt lashed against them as he squeezed her breast through the cotton.

She shook against him like a mechanical pony and then jerked sharply. He felt her contract around him and increased the strength of his thrusts as he moved his hand to her back, pulling her down, forcing her face into his throat where she bit him.

He pumped upwards and, without further ado, he was coming. The orgasm started somewhere in the region of his stump and arced through his body like heat lightning.

Scully slid to a halt on top of him. He realized that some of the wetness on his face came from his own tears, but he didn't know when they'd appeared.

She rolled off of him and he was cold. "Get some sleep," she ordered and left the bed. The bathroom door shut behind her.

After a few minutes, he struggled underneath the thin motel blanket. When she returned, she was in a T-shirt that smelled like Mulder, but she molded herself to his back despite the clothing.

He didn't expect to talk, but the words appeared in the air like fruit flies, generated from nothing. "He hit me, you know."

"I've seen," she told him sleepily.

"No, before. When we were together."

"Why did you stay, then?"

Ah, he'd known from the moment he met her that there was a good little right-wing, quit-your-bitching martinet under that expressionless federal face. "Why do you stay?" he jabbed back.

"He doesn't hit me." She was as stiff as an ironing board against him, and still so hot.

"Yes he does, Scully. He's just more careful with you because you're a girl. They tell me he brought you flowers when you got diagnosed … He's very good at sorry."

"Why did you stay?"

He smiled, satisfied that he'd induced her to ask again. "All the usual, you know. The post-blowup courtship phase, the post-blowup courtship sex. Because I deserved it. Because I'm Ishmael and I neglected to tell Ahab that I joined Greenpeace on the sly."

She stopped breathing entirely and rolled away from him. He'd skipped the nerve endings and gone straight to the spine on that one. He wished that he had more time to figure her out; she was more intriguing than chess.

"And what's it like to be an errand-boy for secret government plots?" she asked finally, and her voice didn't shake at all.

"The Organization's everything that's wrong with America, just like football. Violence punctuated by committee meetings."

"Yet you found it convenient to follow their instructions."

"I didn't kill her, Scully," he ventured.

"Are you aware of the definition of 'accessory to murder'?" Her voice was low and dangerous, and he tried to remember where she'd left her gun.

"Look, when I figured out what I was really into, I left."

"To sell what you knew to the highest bidder."

"Everyone sells. It's just a question of price. At least mine is fungible. If you hold a gun to a pile of dollar bills I'll just walk away. But look how you and Mulder behave when the other one is threatened — you make yourselves so vulnerable, you shouldn't wonder why you can never succeed."

"And you, Alex, where has your willingness to compromise others gotten you? You've lost an arm and you're on the run. You don't seem to be the King of the World yet."

In the darkness, he edged closer to her and caught a whiff of Mulder's smell. "Just you wait, Scully," his hand stroked the cotton T-shirt over her warm rounded hip, "I'll send you a postcard when I kill James Cameron and take over the position."

She sighed loudly but didn't push his hand away as it investigated further. Her cunt was still slick with a mixture of their bodily fluids and it was just as much a dead end as any anal passage; there'd be no paternity suits arising from this little adventure. Her hips twitched, inviting his fingers to speed up.

Alex pulled at her half-resisting body until she was on her stomach, her face in the cheap hotel pillow and her body a dark star radiating energy underneath him. His knees between her outstretched legs, he shifted until he could enter her from behind. The sensation of his balls slapping against her thighs was different because the angle was slightly off, but it was still good.

He pressed his nose into Mulder's shirt and breathed it in as if he were attempting autoerotic asphyxiation. When this was over it would smell of all three of them, Mulder's unique trail would be obliterated, and that gave him a small sense of satisfaction. Underneath the shirt, Scully writhed, and he moved his hand to allow her to rub against him more effectively.

The sensations of her climax were more diffuse than with a man, and whether because of that or because it was the second time in one night he kept slamming into her, pulling as far out as he dared and then sliding back hard enough to leave bruises. When she moaned in protest he moved his hand up to cover her mouth and she sucked on the skin of his palm. He thought he could feel the fever blister rise in response.

It was dreamlike, really. He was in and out of her but flashing back to Mulder's uncomfortable leather couch, Mulder furious at his own needs and begging Alex to fuck him, just do it, get it over with. Alex had thought that he owned Mulder then and he still wasn't sure when the leash had begun to run the other way, when it had tangled around his legs and brought him down. Mulder's back was to Alex, his hands gripping the wooden frame of the couch through the padded leather as if gravity had failed and he'd fall upwards if he let go. He was still wearing his undershirt, making Alex work for every revelation, but his tight naked ass was visible and that was more than enough for the moment. He braced himself on Mulder's shoulders — Scully's shoulders — and he could feel both arms, not with phantom pain but with absolute confidence as he stroked towards ecstasy.

He exploded like a week-old corpse, imagining his come inside Mulder and following in Mulder's wake, colonizing what had been free. From now on it would be different with them, he thought slowly as satisfaction buzzed through his body. He'd always be there.

Scully rolled over and checked the alarm to make sure that it would go off in an hour, and then she was still. Alex had learned long ago how to seize every possible fragment of sleep, so he closed his eyes and hoped not to dream.

End 4/6

Deny Nothing 5/6 RivkaT@aol.com

They spent the remainder of the night running down the list. The other storage facilities and houses and storefronts were all empty, abandoned. Past midnight and the smugglers' ball had turned into a pumpkin. There were random scraps of paper here and there, but they were certainly distractions.

There was no disguising it — they'd blown their one chance to find Mulder.

He could tell that Scully knew it. She blamed herself, although if Alex had been running things he'd just have started at the top of the list and the chance that Mulder had been there was slim indeed. If he did say anything, she'd be able to react with anger, dampening some of the self-blame. And he didn't want that. If Mulder was dead his one satisfaction would be Scully's pain.

She'd most likely fucked him out of some weird mix of guilt and rebellion — Mulder can't be dead, God, because he has to be able to get mad at me for this. Alex could empathize with that.

So they'd walked through dust and drag marks at twelve different locations, still smelling of sex and each other, and nothing more had been said. Twelve, with the thirteenth and the black oil like a Judas's kiss in the background.

Finally, at daybreak, they'd decided to split up. He would hit his contacts one more time: Now that he knew that there was a black oil connection, they might be a little more interested in finding out the exact flavor of shit Mulder had fallen into this time. Scully was off to find out what the Gunmen had determined about the interlocking layers of ownership behind the original import/export company, the legitimate front for the whole nasty business.

He was trotting towards a meeting with his contact, ostensibly a G-14 who worked in the Department of Energy, when he felt it.

His missing arm itched, a thousand red ants hissing along ghost flesh.

He was being watched.

Gooseflesh rose, or would have risen, phantom guard hairs standing erect.

He was being targeted.

This was like being an old fogey in a nursing home whose aching bones signalled an approaching storm. His instincts, while good, had never before caused a physical reaction. It might not be trustworthy. Which would only make it like everything else he knew.

There was a way to find out. Five steps ahead of him a short redhead in a beige trenchcoat paused to dig in her handbag. Her shiny bobbed hair swung into her eyes. As Alex caught up to her, he could tell it was a dye job, but a good one.

"Excuse me," he said as she dug the Red Kamels out from underneath the pens, tissues, and beeper swirled in the depths of the bag, "but could I bum a cigarette off of you?"

She began to shake her head and then took a good look at him. Her eyes were brown, but he doubted his watcher could see that. "Sure," she said as if she hadn't been about to blow him off. She smiled and tapped on the end of the pack.

Alex eased himself around so that she was between him and the source of the (imagined?) surveillance. They moved out of the flow of foot traffic, close to the concrete bulk of a government office that radiated warmth onto the sidewalk. A concrete pillar to his left provided potential cover.

"It's good to find a fellow smoker among all these humorless government types," he said easily as he accepted the cigarette.

She smiled wider, recognizing the come-on. "You work around here?" She produced a lighter and held it up so that he had to lean towards her to reach the flame.

Just as the cigarette tip began to glow cherry-red, the lighter jerked away and Alex felt the hot shower-spray of blood on his cheek. As his helpful sacrificial lamb collapsed, he drew his gun and his eyes tracked the source of the shot and identified the gunman, raising his weapon to fire again.

The cigarette was falling as Alex returned fire. The woman's body shook as another bullet plowed through her, and Alex pressed himself against the pillar for better cover. The grey-suited GS types around him were dropping to the ground like falling leaves, screaming and bringing their hands over their heads as if this were some sort of bomb drill.

Gunfire always made him feel this way, like he could run around town looking up girls' skirts while everyone else was Krazy Glued in place. Only men with guns could move that fast; for everyone else the air molecules had stopped still, creating invisible prisons around each person. He fired at the other killer, dancing over the woman's still-falling body as he went. Someone in his target range dropped, though it could easily have been a hapless EPA lawyer who'd been drafted as a human shield.

The magazine of his gun was empty. Reloading was a stone bitch with only one arm, so he devoutly hoped that the gunman's disappearance was due to death rather than prudence.

Alex risked a quick glance down at his unfortunate companion. She looked surprised, and bloody. He thought her chest was still moving feebly beneath her sodden coat, exit wounds like roses on the fabric.

"Cigarettes'll kill you," he told her and began to dash towards the Metro.

His cellphone rang as he entered the gaping maw of the escalator well. He reholstered his gun and fumbled for the phone, finally hitting the on button with his thumb.

"Yeah."

"It's me," Scully said. "I've got a lead. The man who's bankrolling the import/export company. He's known to have ties to arms dealers, but he's managed to make some high government friends so no action has been taken."

"I just left you for dead," he responded.

"What?"

"Someone just shot a woman I was talking to because she looked like you. Where are you now?"

In the silence, he realized that she had to be thinking about her sister. He would be so much better off, he mused, if the X Files agents had been only children.

"I'm with friends." Beautiful, a good shot, and paranoid. Alex thought that he might be in the throes of a crush.

"Stay there, don't answer the phone. I'll pick you up and we'll track your lead." He hung up as the escalator touched bottom and loped towards the Farecard machines.

He'd get to Dupont Circle and steal a car with handicapped plates for the remainder of the trip, he decided. He was entitled, after all.

****

Frohike opened the door, though Alex was sure he had to stand on tiptoe to reach the highest locks. Alex was beginning to get used to the T-shirt and flak jacket look on the older man.

"What do you get out of this, Mr. Krycek?" Frohike asked as they travelled down the dingy hallway towards the main computer room.

"If anyone kills Mulder, it's going to be me."

Frohike's shoulders stiffened underneath Kevlar, but he didn't respond otherwise. Alex concluded that Frohike never took the vest off except in the shower. He might have a few, so that he could take one for dry cleaning when it got too smelly. It was more evidence that a person can get used to anything.

Scully had commandeered the largest computer, with the best vantage point to attack any unwanted visitors. He couldn't see it, but she probably had the nicest chair, too. Only the best for Dana Scully.

"We found someone who's made an awful lot of money off of exporting to Korea," Byers said, his beard a little askew as if he'd forgotten to trim it in the excitement. "Profits have only increased in the past year as the Asian economy collapsed, and that essentially rules out any law-abiding business."

"Other than pornography," Alex suggested, but no one smiled.

Scully looked up at him. He couldn't see her eyes from the glare off of her glasses. "The Gunmen think he fills orders for North Korea and other rogue nations, acquiring weapons of all sorts. If that's the case, then he could have lured Mulder to this operation."

"But why –?"

She tapped at the keyboard. "Assume that they have government contacts. The presence of the black oil indicates that they are trafficking in exotic weaponry. Presumably they would like to be able to guard against it as well as inflict it on others." Scully looked around the room, drawing the Gunmen's attention to her like a fisherman working three lines. "Gentlemen, could you excuse us for a moment?"

Langly opened his mouth to object, but Frohike got a hand around his collar — it looked like he picked up some of Langly's stringy yellow hair as well — and pulled him from his chair. "Come on," he said. "Some things we're better off not knowing just yet." Byers followed the two of them out without protest.

Alex watched them go, wondering what there was to know about Frohike that he'd missed.

"In an effort to keep his job, and allow me to keep mine, after the events surrounding Mulder's unapproved side trip to Tunguska, he was unusually forthcoming with the OPR investigators. They thought he was a lunatic, which I suppose was the point. What that means is that, in the FBI's files, there exists a description of the procedures to which he was subjected in Russia. A description meaningless to anyone who does not know what to look for, but if an informed person were to look –"

Alex was nodding, following the demented logic of it. "They'd know he'd been vaccinated. And to lure him to a weapons smuggling business for the antibodies in his blood with the promise of learning more about domestic terrorism –"

"It would appeal to someone with a sense of the poetic."

"But, Scully, why not you?"

She looked at the computer screen. "Mulder never told anyone but me what he thought I was infected with. Even I didn't know if I could believe — but I suppose my confirmation was in that warehouse yesterday. He'll never let me live it –" She stopped as her voice dropped into unnecessary roughness. When she spoke again, her voice was as smooth as well-stirred cake batter. "From what Mulder could tell, the Russians didn't have a very effective cure. He was … lucky … to survive. Unless it was more than luck."

"I can't tell you about that," he whispered. "It's not worth your life." Visions of dossiers and breeding charts, not very much like sugarplums, danced in his head.

She rubbed her temples as if her head hurt. "That's not the point. We have … confirmation that you and I carry the appropriate resistance. If necessary …"

"Don't even say it. Two people with the antibodies just means two customers can be satisfied instead of just one. These are terrorists we're talking about here, there's no monopoly on it." He'd seen what the Russians had done in the lab outside Moscow. The woman had been hooked up to a hundred machines, anticoagulants pumping through her and other drugs to trick her body into producing as many units of plasma as possible. She was piss-yellow because something had gone wrong with her liver after all the drugs. And the Russians were comparatively well-funded butchers; Saddam and the Koreans were unlikely to be as competent.

Scully's mouth set into stone, voluptuous and unforgiving as Michelangelo's sculpture. "There are people in the FBI who don't agree that treachery against this nation should go unwatched, even if we're not allowed to act. Mulder and I have helped them, when we could, and they owe us. I'm gathering information about the man in charge of this scheme, Michael Grathyn, and I expect a call from my contact telling us where he and his most trusted confederates can be found."

Alex nodded. Sometimes it was important to go straight to the top. Especially when you were out of time.

He watched her work for a few minutes, but his mind wandered. He remembered his favorite college professor. He had been the most overt older gay man Alex had ever met, before or since. He would routinely come to class in tight faded jeans, a tighter white T-shirt, and a black leather jacket. He had salt-and-pepper buzz-cut hair and a neat little mustache, and he knew he was hot as hell. He wouldn't sleep with students, though. He said it was because it wasn't right, but Alex thought he mostly liked to tease.

Alex had taken a class on Gay Men in Literature from Professor Stone, in large part because it seemed to shock his handler, who wanted a multilingual operative and not a polymorphously perverse one. As it happened, the class was full of pretty boys and it had been a useful semester. But now he remembered Professor Stone lecturing on homoeroticism, how literature is full of two competing men who turn their sublimated desire for one another into a competition for the love of one woman.

At the time, he'd thought that was a relic of sexual repression; maybe closeted fellows had to do that because they could only lay each other by proxy, but ever since Stonewall there was no need to beat around the bush, so to speak.

He thought he understood a little bit better now. It wasn't just about sexuality, Tab A and Slot B. It was desire, and the way that desire could be so much hotter, so much tighter than actually getting what you want. While you desire, the one you want is perfect. It is only when desire ends and reality begins that your lover will disappoint you. Scully was desire because she was a layer separating him from Mulder. Scully was desire because with her, he could imagine Mulder's jealousy.

She was still feeding queries into the FBI's secure system. It would probably take an electromagnetic pulse to distract her from that. She clicked the mouse to follow a link and looked up at him as she waited for the page to load. "Yes?"

"If I'm his other side, and you're his other half, what does that make us?"

"Seriously disturbed," she said and looked back down at the computer screen.

Soon enough, she was done and there was little to do but wait. He paced through the room as if it might expand if he tried hard enough. It reminded him of the missile silo, though with slightly better lighting and the odor of stale potato chips rather than oil and dust and his own blood on the door from where his fingernails had broken off. The brown sticky carpet was covered with power cords, taped and loose, like the floor of a mechanical jungle.

"When's your friend going to call?" he asked when the silence had reached his throat and threatened to drown him.

Scully's shoulders twitched, the only evidence that she hadn't actually turned into a statue. "I don't know. He knows it's urgent."

"Nobody at the Bureau thinks that saving Spooky is urgent." He sped up a little so that the room spun. If he made himself dizzy and fell down, she'd wake him when it was time to go. When he turned quickly, the anime posters on the wall seemed to move and leer at him.

Her voice was a jagged-edged blade. "Stop that. You're making me sick."

If he had to wait much longer he would kill himself. No, that was crazy thinking. He would kill her. He hurried over to the corner farthest from her and looked at the filing cabinet there. There was a simple five-button combination lock with wear marks that made it immediately clear which buttons were used to open it. He began trying combinations and, three in, the top drawer popped open.

"Does it bother you that your little friends keep their EZ Cheeze under lock and key?" There were crackers, too, but for some reason the spray cheese seemed stranger.

She sighed. "I'm sure they have some horror story of a truth-seeker poisoned by snack items too easily vulnerable to government tampering."

Yeah, he'd read that incident report too. He closed the top drawer and went to work on the middle one. Maybe they kept some good fuck films here too. Statistically there was almost a one-third chance that one of them liked boys. And he wouldn't have thrown Byers out of bed for eating sunflower seeds.

He heard her behind him and had to tear his remaining fingers out of the way as she slammed the file drawer closed. "Do you think you could calm down?" She was the voice of reason, but he didn't want to be reasoned with. There had to be something here he could kill.

"No, I'm planning on freaking out until we find out what's happened to Mulder. You don't know about the virus, what it does –"

She pushed him against the file cabinet with a crash, and he felt the cold metal through his clothes. "Don't tell me what I don't know! Not unless you're prepared to give me some answers."

Alex turned to face her and was once again surprised that he had to look down. Her eyes were bright with frustration and anger, and knowing that his feelings were shared didn't help at all.

It was surreal, but not entirely unexpected, when she reached for his belt. Mulder, too, would rather fuck than spend time alone in his own head. He wondered, as she drew his zipper down and let his pants fall around his knees, whether she'd only learned this from Mulder or if her emotional blankness had been part of the initial attraction.

When her mouth closed over his cock all thought ceased. He wrapped his fingers around the cool metal handle that had been poking into the small of his back, for balance, and fucked her mouth with all his fear and uncertainty. She held on to his hips, her thumbs digging deep into the hollows created by his pelvic bone. The wet pressure was like being sucked out of an airplane, into the blue sky of her eyes.

His cock was a knife stabbing into her as he came forever and ever.

She pulled away as his knees threatened to betray him and he sagged against the filing cabinet, watching her wipe her mouth without any apparent unease. Mulder hated to swallow, but Scully had been better trained. He stared as she went to the other side of the room to retrieve her makeup case and reapplied her lipstick, then realized that he ought to make himself more presentable when she smirked at him with her freshly blotted lips.

He tried to speak, and discovered that he needed to clear his throat first. "What's happening here, Scully?"

"Did you know that on her wedding night, a Spartan wife had to wear a man's cloak and a man's sandals to meet her husband in bed?"

"Watching the Discovery Channel again?"

She gave him a strange look, as if he were reading from the wrong script.

End 5/6

Deny Nothing 6/6 RivkaT@aol.com

After that he'd been reduced to seeking out the Gunmen, and together they went adventuring with Lara Croft until Scully found them.

Her informant had finally come through. They had half an ounce of luck — Grathyn's arms dealing business was built on ties to several national mafia. His closest confederate in town was a man with strong Family connections, the son of a Jersey capo. What that meant was that his position was a product of nepotism rather than skill. Scully's shadowy FBI friends said that Gennaro the younger was weak, he could be turned if necessary. Alex could tell from the set of her mouth as she hung up the phone that her contacts were going to be furious if she went ahead and broke Gennaro just to get information about Mulder. If she did they'd have to find another way into Grathyn's organization in the future.

She'd burnt some bridges, this time, but she didn't care. It was another thing to respect about her, that like any good general she knew when to send the foot soldiers to their deaths.

They drove to the Gennaro's office, where he supposedly oversaw the complicated negotiations with Customs required to get electronics in and out of the country. Alex had no doubt that his job involved government employees and negotiations, but he thought that it was unlikely that the shipping manifests described the exact nature of Grathyn's business.

Scully intimidated the cleaning lady into letting them onto Gennaro's floor. He was, as she'd been promised, still at work. There was a bodyguard outside his door — for a few seconds at least, before Alex shot him in the forehead. He hadn't put on a silencer and he could hear the man in the office as he bolted out of his chair, probably knocking it over in his fright.

Scully kicked the door open and rolled into the room, her gun aimed at the man who was only then reaching into his desk drawer. "Back away!" she ordered. "Hands on your head!"

Wisely, he complied.

"Paul Gennaro?"

He nodded. Scully was upright now, gesturing for him to come around the desk where she could see his whole body.

"My partner and I are FBI agents," Scully said, and Alex was once again struck with admiration for her ability to tell absolute truth in a perfectly misleading fashion. "I do not care if your confession gets thrown out of court because I threatened you. I have an unregistered gun in my purse, and if your dead hand is holding it when the police arrive I will be a hero and you will be a criminal's corpse. Tell me where Fox Mulder is."

Alex felt the warm hum of arousal again. Beauty is only skin deep, but deadly goes right down to the bone.

Gennaro gasped and Alex thought there was a telltale darkening at his crotch. "He … it turned out that he was on the Koreans' wish list too. For another five million he went along with the satellites."

Scully stepped forward and slid her gun across Gennaro's temple, past his eye and down the sagging flesh below his jaw. The man was shaking like a convert in the throes of religious ecstasy. "*Where*?"

He told them.

****

They threw Gennaro into the trunk of Alex's latest stolen car. Couldn't have him calling his best buds in the organization, could they? Scully'd be dodging a Mob hit for years after this. Alex wasn't planning on being anywhere La Cosa Nostra knew about.

If she was lucky, Gennaro would be too humiliated to have been bested by a woman to admit his role in the whole disaster, and she'd be safe.

As they drove towards Baltimore, where there was a ship in port waiting to sail beyond the sunset, Scully made a call. "Langly? I need your help. There's a chance we'll need more translations, quick … yes, borrow one of Frohike's … no, I'm not going to let you … all right." She gave him the ship information and hung up.

"I have a decent array of medical supplies in my bag. I should be able to take care of him when we find him."

Alex didn't need to point out that they'd probably been bleeding Mulder minutes after they found him. There was no telling how much damage had been done, even assuming that he hadn't left U.S. soil yet.

Driving with Mulder had always been a challenge. Just when he thought he could drift off, Mulder would lob some crazy theory over the mental net and he'd have to respond, if only to keep Mulder interested. Now, he felt that he deserved equal entertainment from Scully. She had to be used to it, being Mulder's regular partner, his usual straight woman in both senses.

He had the advantage over Scully, because she had to keep her eyes on the road. Traffic was fairly light on the Beltway this time of night, but that only meant that the cars were sliding from lane to lane at seventy-five miles per hour instead of sixty. "I wonder what he'd say if I told him you give better head than he does."

Scully hit the turn signal, probably giving anyone behind her a heart attack, and moved into the far left lane. "He'd probably believe you. He has problems with self-esteem."

"You don't have an ounce of sentiment, do you?"

"I think I had a perfume by that name once. It was too expensive for me, so I gave it up."

Ah, the infamous Scully humor. He'd heard about it ad nauseum, but experiencing it from this perspective was another thing altogether.

Before Scully, he'd thought that sex was a weapon to be withheld, that it was a currency to be spent. He'd never known that it was possible to do so much damage by consenting.

The Harbor Tunnel sign appeared, and Scully took the last exit before the toll.

****

The Gunmen must have had a portable wormhole in their hideaway; they were less than fifteen minutes behind. Langly was the only one who emerged from the serial killer panel van to join them; Alex saw Frohike behind the wheel, waiting to spirit them away if they required a hasty retreat.

Alex needed to clarify one issue with Scully before they proceeded to the proper dock. "I assume from your reaction to the bodyguard's death that killing is not going to raise your federal hackles here."

Langly stared at Scully as if she'd morphed into Emma Peel. Scully didn't respond. "Do you need a gun?" she asked Langly, who shook his head once, slowly.

"Then let's go."

The nightwatchman reacted well to Alex's DEA ID. Langly's borrowed flak jacket didn't hurt, either. He told them that there had been an unusual amount of activity around the target ship for the past few nights. He confided that he'd thought it might be drugs. Yeah, whatever.

The trouble with ships was that it wasn't very easy to approach them unnoticed. They could steal a smaller boat and board from the side, but he hadn't played pirate in a long time and usually pirates had missing eyes or hands, not entire arms. It wreaked havoc with balance in swordfighting.

"I could go up and tell them we have an urgent message," Langly suggested.

Alex looked at him, trying not to be too patronizing. "And that would help us how?"

"I'd say it in Korean."

Scully nodded. "It might be our best strategy. Krycek, you hold my hands behind my back as if I'm a prisoner. Langly, you tell them that you're bringing another person like the one they've already got."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Distant lights reflected off of the blond's glasses, making him look like Andy Warhol's inbred cousin at the disco.

"Just say it's got something to do with the blood, they didn't tell you more."

Langly nodded and Scully shifted so that her hands were behind her back, clasped loosely as if she were being restrained. One gun was in her right hand and he could see the outline of another at her waistband. He didn't want his own hand occupied, even with a mock captivity, and so he concentrated and managed to get the prosthesis to close around her wrist. She jumped in surprise but he held on. "It reacts to contractions in the muscles of the upper arm," he whispered and reached for his gun, for reassurance.

Slowly, they walked up the pier towards the ramp onto the foreign ship. Alex pushed Scully a few times, just for verisimilitude, and she stumbled, likely with a similar motive.

A dark figure appeared from an unlit cabin door and said something. Langly spoke back with commendable self-assurance. A few volleys and they were motioned on board. Other men, mostly Asian but all with identical thuglike demeanors, materialized from parts unknown and they were surrounded on the narrow walkway between the ship's cabins and the railing at the side. Alex pressed close behind Scully to hide the fact that she was armed and dangerous, but the strangers only looked at her like she was a combination between a winning lottery ticket and a pornographic pinup. He wondered briefly if she was aware that in this case sexism was her friend.

Langly's tone was alternating between beseeching and commanding, and one of his interlocutors waved them into the ship's interior. Alex liked that much better, with narrow passageways and limited visibility, the fact that they were exponentially outnumbered became significantly less relevant. He didn't like the trapped-rat look on Langly's face much, though, and attempted to nod encouragement as discreetly as possible.

Three men preceded them and two followed. With his hand on Scully's shoulder to shield her back from view, Alex pushed her over the threshold into the ship. He couldn't look back to see if Langly would follow.

Turn and turn again, he wished that he had a trail of breadcrumbs to leave, but how many ways out of a ship could there be, anyway? A narrow flight of rubber-covered nonslip stairs led into the belly of the beast where the light was green and dirty. They traversed another hallway, even narrower than the ones above the waterline. The voices of the men echoed off the metal walls, the distortion plus the unknown language turning the sound into something like a memory of his own screams in the silo.

Scully stumbled over the lip of a door and then they were inside, looking at Mulder. He was strapped down like Gulliver after the Lilliputians found him. Transparent plastic tubes stole fluids from him and forced new ones back in. He had a perfectly predictable bruise darkening his left cheekbone and a padded headrest with a chin strap, the kind used to keep accident victims' spines straight, kept his head immobile. His faded hazel eyes focused quickly, lighting with fury when he found Krycek's face and then redoubling their intensity as he found Scully like a snake sighting a mongoose.

"Motherfucker," he accused through the distortion of the straps holding him down. Alex rolled his eyes, turned to see if there was anyone else in the hallway, and shot the two men behind him. He felt rather than heard Scully's shots as she dispatched the three who'd preceded them into the room. In the confined space, the shots were louder than watching 'Armageddon' in Dolby Surround Sound, but he couldn't guess how well the sound would carry.

He stuck the gun back in its holster and grabbed the man closest to him, who'd fallen across the doorway, to drag him into the room. "Get the other one in here and try to clean up the blood," he ordered Langly, whose thick nerd glasses concealed his expression admirably. "If they don't figure it out for a while we'll be better off."

Langly complied and Alex moved to Mulder's bedside. Scully had already freed his head. She must share Alex's conviction that the vital part of Mulder was his mouth. "What's *he* doing here?" Mulder whined.

"Cannon fodder," Scully said shortly and took the knife Alex held out to her, cutting through his remaining bonds with the efficiency of a dominatrix closing shop for the night. "Hold still!" she chided, but Mulder immediately began pulling the IV needles out. Alex could smell the blood in the air. Scully was doing something near Mulder's groin that made him wince — that would be the catheter coming out. The weekend's worth of stubble on Mulder's chin looked really good, Alex realized. It would be beyond the sandpaper stage, into needle-sharpness. Acupuncture and musk; he could almost imagine how it would feel against his thighs.

"There's some shouting in the hall," Langly warned.

Alex looked around the room. There were no other exits. He waved Langly away from the door as Mulder struggled to his feet. Barefoot and in boxers, he could have been coming from a weekend of sexual adventure, especially factoring in the blood and bruises. Alex saw Scully hand Mulder one of her guns, which he took with a shaking hand.

"Scully," Alex nodded his head to the side of the door, "cover me." She reluctantly let go of Mulder and moved into position.

The door swung out and Alex heard shouted demands. "They want to talk to one of their comrades," Langly translated.

"I should have saved one for later," he said, shrugging. "On three, we'll go out firing." He felt Scully's tense agreement. "One –"

"This was your great escape plan?" Mulder sniped, determined to hog center stage as always.

"Two –"

"Did you find my clothes?"

"Three," and he leaped through the doorway, over the metal lip, and hit the stump of his arm against the opposite wall with the force of his momentum, firing through the pain. Scully was at his feet, twisting like a cat avoiding a water pistol as she fired low. They had a few seconds of shock on their side and managed to get three men down while the others retreated.

Langly helped Mulder out into the hall. Now there were two ways to go, the way they'd come and into the unknown, with no guarantee of any exit to the surface. Alex looked back and forth, trying to decide.

"This way," Scully suggested, gesturing down the hall where they'd never yet been.

That decided it. "No, we're going back the way we came."

"Why?" Scully demanded, her soft round mouth stretching thin and pale with her irritation, and Mulder's snarl indicated that he was going to back her up on general principles.

"You picked last time, remember?"

She hesitated and then began to follow him towards the stairs. "What is he *talking* about?" Mulder complained as they went, his arm thrown around Langly's shoulders like he'd had a really rough night on the town. "Scully? Ow!" and Alex couldn't help but look, Mulder's pain drew him like a magnet, but it was only that he'd put his bare foot down on a dead man's wristwatch.

The sex wasn't *that* good, was it? he asked himself, knowing full well that it had been.

There was no one on the stairs, but they couldn't possibly get out without a welcoming party. And if they waited, the men on the ship could get others for reinforcements. They stumbled up the stairs, huddled together like the actors on Friends. Alex swung his prosthesis through the doorway, and nothing happened, so he pulled it back, waited five seconds, and tried again. This time shots blasted through the air and one even clipped the plastic hand, the force of the shot wrenching against the straps around his shoulder.

He felt like the Sundance Kid reenacting the Mexican shootout at the end of the film. They didn't call him 'Butch' Cassidy for nothing. He shook his head to clear it and considered, for a moment, the question of God's existence. Unlikely, he concluded as he always did. Just before he would have jumped into the hallway, Scully grabbed his arm.

"That pipe's got steam in it," she informed him over the blood buzzing in his ears. "Let me shoot it out and we'll get some cover." She suited actions to words and the hall began to fill with hot white smoke. Then, an instant later, the little vixen trampled him and went through the doorway. Cursing, he followed her through, firing as he went.

The next few moments passed in a haze of muzzle flashes through gauzy whiteness. For each flash he saw, he had a bullet. He could see the dock ahead of him, a brown blur through the larger blur of the doorway to the open air. A man darted past the opening and fired in passing. Alex felt a body slam into him like a sack of sugar, hot and too light to be either of the men, and he barely kept his footing as he tried not to trip over the dead men clogging the narrow hallway while helping Scully stay upright.

Alex half-turned to prop her up and when she pushed away his help his hand was covered in blood. There was no time to evaluate the injury; if she was able to move that had to be good enough. Instinct led him to fire again just as a gunman, probably the same one, streaked across his field of vision like a target in a video game. The enemy cried out and fell against the ship's railing. Most of him stayed on board, but some of his guts fell into the Chesapeake Bay.

Mulder pushed forward until he was shoulder to shoulder with Alex. "We've got to get out," he informed Alex in a demonstration of the brilliance and insight for which he was justly famous. They edged forward in tandem, pressed up against opposite sides of the hallway. Alex heard three shots behind them, two far and one close, and since he didn't die and the noise then ceased he inferred that Scully had managed to resolve the problem. His father would have liked Scully, he realized as he ducked around the doorway and killed another man. Her gender would have been a major bonus, and likely sufficient to get Dad's blessing, but Dad would have liked her spunk — a very American term, a very American concept. Two more shots and there was nothing moving along the path between them and the ramp to the dock.

Alex spotted motion on the dock as they hustled down to solid ground. It was the gray panel van, wheeling to the rescue. Byers slid back the side door and they piled in, Mulder landing heavily on Alex. Mulder hadn't been washed in days and Alex, half-hard with the adrenaline already, couldn't resist him. He dropped his gun to the carpet and ran his hand down Mulder's greyhound hip and upper thigh. Mulder wiggled impatiently, not even noticing as he demanded to know where Scully was hit. The waistband of the cotton boxers was damp with his sweat and Alex's hips flexed against that incredible ass. He was going to come in this dirty old van with the Lone Gunmen ranged around him like a bar-quality travelling rock band and Dana Scully watching.

Mulder saved Alex's dignity by pulling away, still giving no sign that he'd noticed that Alex had some unresolved issues surrounding their relationship. "Are you all right?" His tone was low and intimate when he talked to Scully, the way it always was when they were in company. When he thought they were alone, he didn't try so hard.

"I'm fine," she said. "We should go to a hospital, though."

"A hospital?" Langly said, panic on his voice like garlic breath. "How are we going to explain a gunshot wound?"

"Mulder needs to be checked out," Scully insisted, as if she weren't bleeding from a hole in her upper arm.

"I'm fine, but Scully needs a doctor," Mulder said, staring into Scully's eyes. Mulder was pawing her unwounded arm like a cat humping its owner's leg and she was on the seat between his legs, his thighs securing her from every bump and jolt.

"I want to do a blood test as soon as possible," she told him, her voice lowering to match his as her mouth swooped down towards his ear. Strangely, she didn't seem to be reacting to Mulder's proximity in any other way. If Mulder had been wrapped around him like that he wouldn't have been able to finish a sentence, much less continue to put butterfly bandages on Mulder's scrapes. Maybe they weren't actually — was it possible that he hadn't lost his chance?

"Give me a phone," Alex ordered, as much to break into the conversation as for any other reason. "I know someone who can help us out."

He dialed Ashley and she gave him the location of a safe house nearby.

"How did you find me?" Mulder was asking Scully as Alex hung up. Mulder's tone made the question sound like an invitation to come see his etchings. Alex sighed, feeling jealousy in his gut like a bad case of food poisoning, and leaned over the driver's seat to give Frohike the address. Then he called in an anonymous tip to the police that there was a man locked in the trunk of a stolen car down by the docks. He made sure to mention the handicapped plates so that the cops would know where to look.

****

Ashley bound Scully's arm quickly, in deference to Scully's evident hatred of her own weakness. She even let Scully administer her own shots. If the wound hadn't been in the arm, Alex would have expected Scully to sew it up herself. Part of him wanted her to get gangrene and lose the arm; then they would be much closer to being twins.

When Ashley went to check on Mulder's condition and Mulder smiled up at her beautiful, superior face, he checked Scully's expression and was certain that it matched his own — lip raised in an almost imperceptible sneer, head raised in righteous indignation.

Why do we let him do this to us, he wondered. And when did there start to be an us?

"And who are you?" Mulder asked silkily, all but batting his lovely thick lashes. Alex realized that he was grinding his teeth. Scully appeared at Mulder's side, pushing Ashley away and making her own reconnaissance of his vitals.

"I can take care of him from here," Scully announced. "If you'd like to stay I'm sure a number of people in the Bureau would be interested in hearing your stories." Her eyes flashed up at Alex's, sending him a clear message: Leave now and you go in peace. The flag of truce was about to drop and he needed to get out before it hit the ground.

But not before he got the last word. "What's wrong, Scully? Won't you dance with the one what brung ya?" He was proud of his naturalized drawl, and prouder still that her hand went to her neck, where the marks he'd made hid under a flawless macquillage. Mulder looked up at her curiously and she dropped her hand to his shoulder before she could wipe away her own protective coloring.

"Go," she said, and because it sounded enough like a plea to satisfy his ego, he did, trusting Ashley to follow.

****

Later that night, Alex watched the lights go down in Mulder's apartment. He was waiting in yet another stolen car. He was starting to like the ones with handicap plates.

Scully left five minutes after the bedroom light dimmed. Mulder hated the light when it wasn't illuminating either weirdness or sexual activity. The only way he could ever get the lights bright enough to read in Mulder's apartment was by exhausting Mulder so that he wouldn't protest when Alex turned the lamps up. He'd occasionally considered bondage just to get a chance to read the Post all the way through.

They'd probably just cuddled, still in pain from their respective injuries. Once, when Mulder was deeply asleep, Alex had curled close to his finely muscled back and run his hands over Mulder's body as if searching for his aura, feeling the hairs rise with the electricity rising from Mulder's skin like steam. He liked a man with a body at least as broad and fit as his own, and in that bed, that night, Mulder had been everything he'd ever wanted.

Then his beeper hummed on the nightstand and he had to go to a meeting with the smoker, and that was that.

Back in the now, his shaking fingers tapped at the glowing numbers on his stolen cellphone. "Mulder," the voice rumbled through the airwaves like Roxane's voice falling down to Cyrano in the darkness where they could both imagine he was Christian. "What?" he was impatient, bringing Alex back to reality.

"I just wanted to make sure you were doing all right."

There was a pause. "Scully says that you were quite helpful in finding me."

"Is that what she says?" his tone was mocking, though he didn't really mean it to be.

"Thank you," Mulder clarified.

He breathed in the stale sweat of the car's real owner, wondering idly what the owner's disability was. "I want to make things right with you, Mulder."

"Show me proof of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence on Earth." Mulder's voice finally had the intimacy he'd missed for so long. Of course Mulder had no idea that he was only a hundred feet away.

"Wouldn't you like some flowers, or a box of chocolates instead?"

"Things are different now, Alex." Was that regret in his voice?

"So Agent Scully is a better bedwarmer than I was?" He shifted uncomfortably, wishing that he had a free hand to adjust his clothing, but he held on to the phone.

"This has nothing to do with her. This is a global conspiracy we're dealing with, Alex, not an excuse for a date. If you want to help me, give me proof that I can use. If you want to fuck me–" Alex couldn't help his indrawn breath at the thought — "get in line."

Alex depressed the disconnect button. "I fucked Scully, Mulder," he said into the dead metal. "I fucked her because you weren't there."

He started the car.

****

From his hotel room, he could see the Arc d'Triomphe. Paris was a perfect city in which to rid oneself of heartbreak, full of people looking for love or at least romance. He already had a job pending, a quick assassination that would put some money in his pocket, but he was still distracted by the thought of what he'd left behind in Washington.

The whole situation had forced him to re-evaluate heterosexuality as a sexual aid. It was clear that his masturbation fantasies were going to have an enlarged cast of characters, and that the average height was going to go down.

He'd have to pay them a visit sometime. It seemed probable that Scully would neglect to mention the naked Twister aspects of their short alliance, and that could prove very useful. Mulder *expected* Alex to lie, and also Alex was a guy and therefore ruled by sex. He might be a bit less forgiving with Scully. Her failings were supposed to be her rigidity and moral rectitude, not her ability to run liquid in the darkness with another man.

Everything happens for a purpose, he thought. The trick is making it work for you instead of for God.

Still, he wished that she'd just admitted the truth about her relationship with Mulder. It would have made things much easier.

Someday she'd beg to tell him about it, he vowed. There were many ways to make that happen.

He hardly knew where to begin.

END

Let me know whether you think M&S were doing the nasty. I'm curious (yellow).

All is Truth — Walt Whitman

O ME, man of slack faith so long! Standing aloof–denying portions so long; Only aware to-day of compact, all-diffused truth; Discovering to-day there is no lie, or form of lie, and can be none, but grows as inevitably upon itself as the truth does upon itself, Or as any law of the earth, or any natural production of the earth does.

(This is curious, and may not be realized immediately– But it must be realized; I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with the rest, And that the universe does.)

Where has fail'd a perfect return, indifferent of lies or the truth? Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the spirit of man? or in the meat and blood?

Meditating among liars, and retreating sternly into myself, I see that there are really no liars or lies after all, And that nothing fails its perfect return– And that what are called lies are perfect returns, And that each thing exactly represents itself, and what has preceded it, And that the truth includes all, and is compact, just as much as space is compact, And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth–but that all is truth without exception; And henceforth I will go celebrate anything I see or am, And sing and laugh, and deny nothing.

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