They were lying in bed together, sated.

Krycek, who was tracing Mulder's body with his hand, took a deep breath.

"I have to go, Mulder. Two more days, tops. It's getting too hot out there."

Mulder knew better than to ask how Krycek knew.

"Are you certain?

"I've probably stayed here too long. If I stay longer, I risk you, and I don't want to do that. I think that knowing you're still alive out there will keep me going."

"That's all we'll have, won't we?"

"Yeah. I can't risk contacting you. One more night after tonight and that's it."

"One more night. How am I going to get through this one?"

"I'll help. You were so right. God has a twisted sense of humor. He gave us *this* only to take it away from us again."

Mulder was silent. A thought had entered his mind, something he'd only considered once before, and fate had intervened. It was a solution to this problem. He needed to find another.

"Take me with you."

"You don't know what you're asking."

"I'm asking to be with you all the time. I'm asking to watch out for you, to help you fight your battles. I'm asking to be on your side for once."

"You're asking to be out in the cold. You're asking to have no real address, no certain source of income."

"Money isn't..."

Krycek shook his head. "I know you have your own money. If you came with me, you would have to leave it behind. You could only take cash with you. You could be traced too easily."

"I don't care."

"Care about this. Care that you would be fighting on the right side but from the wrong direction. Care that Scully would be your enemy, that Skinner would be your enemy. Care that you would be violating that fine moral sense that's a part of you. I don't understand it, but I know that without it you would not be who you are. Care that I, and therefore we, would never have a place to call home, except each other. I can't do that to you. I can't risk your injury or death, and I won't voluntarily live in a world without you. Besides, Scully would find you in a week, and I'd be dead."

Krycek was clearly adamant. Mulder couldn't change his mind. That left only the one way out that he could see. He took a deep, sobbing breath.

"Oh, God, Mulder. If I could take you with me, or stay here, or find some other way we can be together, I would. Please, don't cry, tovarish."

Mulder smiled. "It's okay. This is just hard to say. Listen to me. I won't voluntarily live in a world without you, either. There's this story I read as a kid, an old science fiction story called 'Something Bright.' It's very old, written in the twenties or thirties. This all-powerful God like being takes this man out of our universe and puts him in another. There he meets this beautiful woman and falls in love. The problem is that she's not a woman. The all powerful being has changed their perceptions of each other. The beings in this dimension are physically repulsive to humans, and are repulsed by them. More than that, she's not truly female and to her he's the gender most appropriate to her. Also, neither could ever live in the other's universe. There is no way they can really be together. The problem is that they are truly in love, so much so that they cannot bear to be apart." Mulder clasped Krycek more closely to him.

"Can't the all powerful being do something about that?"

"He wasn't that all-powerful. He couldn't change the laws in either universe since they'd been set. There...there was only one possible solution. It seemed that there was one part of living beings that this godthing could not ever touch. It occurred after...after...death." He swallowed. "I will never forget how excited and joyful that man was when he realized they could die." He buried his head in Krycek's shoulder, not crying but breathing hard.

"You can't be thinking this. No way will we do this. I want to live with you."

"I want to live with you, too, but we can't. No matter what we try, we can't. It's only a matter of time for both us, and you know it. For some reason they've been holding off on me, but that will stop, and we know they're after you."

"That doesn't matter. If we do...what you want us to do, they will win. Who'll fight if we don't?

"Scully. Skinner. The three guys. We're not alone here."

"They can't fight as well as we can - you from the top and me from the bottom."

"Scully can do anything." He'd always believe *that*.

"Do you want to hand them a victory on a silver platter?"

"It's going to happen. Why should they choose when, and not us?"

"I don't want to die, Mulder. I want to live."

"When you go, will you be able to return, ever?"

Krycek took a deep breath. He was silent for a moment. "It's possible. Things might cool off, or maybe we can find a place to be together for a short time."

"A short time to last all the rest of the time. You know better."

"I don't want to risk your life. Mulder, if I can't risk your life to be with you, how could I help you end it?"

"I'm going to die when you leave anyway."

"What! You would do this anyway?"

"No. I don't have the courage to face the dark alone. My body will continue to live. I'll go to work and find my monsters and joke with Scully and maybe flirt with Skinner, but I'll be dead. I'll live only for those brief contacts we'll make in defiance of all danger."

Silence, again. "I'll die, too. I'll go through the motions of rebellion and living underground. I'll be leaving half of myself behind and I can't even protect you. I want to protect you."

"That's Scully's job."

"That's the thing I'm most jealous of. She gets to save your life. I only get to risk it. It's sounds bleak."

"It's what they want. If we...go through the motions...we'll make dumb mistakes. They'll get us sooner." Tears clogged his voice.

"You've actually thought this thing out?"

"No. I've been too happy to do that. Every moment, every time we make love, it's all been precious and wonderful. I've been living for those moments."

"How would you do it?"

"Drugs, I think. Nothing like a bullet. I could pull the trigger on myself, but I couldn't watch you or make you watch me. Drugs. An injection so we just go to sleep."

"Barbiturates. I can get that. Pills are for women, aren't they?"

"Men tend to use mechanical means, but a car accident has too much risk of one or both of us surviving impaired."

Krycek glanced at his left shoulder. "I'm impaired enough, thank you. I...can get them tomorrow. Oh, God. I think we're going to do this. When did we decide that? I don't want to do this!"

"Then we won't. I won't do this alone. I won't die without you, either. I'll wait until the day they get you, and I'll join you then."

"One way or the other, Mulder?"

"Only way we have."

Krycek kissed away the tears from Mulder's face. The agent was shaking. "You hate this idea."

"I do. I just hate the alternatives worse. It's going to happen. One of us will do this, unless they come crashing in on us tonight and kill us right here."

"The scary thing is that I almost wish they would, so I wouldn't have to say good-bye to you."

Mulder was silent. Krycek sighed. "So it should be our choice. I'll get the stuff tomorrow." His throat was suddenly dry. "Oh, God. We've decided. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. If I hadn't come into your life..."

"I'd be lonely tonight. No regrets."

"No regrets."

Even so, they cried themselves to sleep that night.

Things were different in the morning. Mulder woke up with a curious sense of peace. He lay there for a moment, tangled up in a sleeping Krycek, trying to figure out what it was. Then he remembered. And it felt right. They made their final decision. After today, nothing would ever hurt again.

Krycek stirred. He began to untie himself as usual, but he seemed calm. When he looked at Mulder, he gave his lover a heartbreaking smile.

"Good morning, Mulder. It's a wonderful morning." Actually, it was raining out.

"Yeah. It is. I'm happy."

"You, too? I should be scared, but all I can do is think that tonight can't come too soon."

They sorted out all their various limbs and emerged from the bed, one to make coffee and the other to shave and shower. Just the way they'd spent almost every morning this past week. Krycek even made breakfast.

"You'll be careful out there today?"

"I'll try. I've only been outside once since I broke in here." They smiled at that.

"I should give you a spare key."

"I'll just pick the lock again. You have the world's least secure lock."

"I guess there's not much point..." He didn't want to continue. Krycek stepped in with a change of subject.

"What are you going to do today?"

"Paperwork. I'll try to clear away some of it today, but I can't do too much or Scully will suspect something. She'll stop us if she can."

"Yeah, but which one of us wo