It was hard to say what woke Mulder up. One minute he had been asleep and the next his eyes snapped open and focussed on the coffee table in front of his nose.
Mulder lay still and contemplated the table for a moment. There was nothing unusual about it if you didn't count the mysterious substance that spilt on it a few years ago and now formed a picturesque stain that sometimes glowed in the dark. Mulder was well used to it and besides, now the stain was buried under a mound of papers. No, it wasn't the table that woke him up.
Mulder rubbed one eye with his thumb, turned on his other side – his face to the back of the couch – and nearly fell off the piece of furniture altogether. There, on the back, practically on top of Mulder, was perched Alex Krycek.
"Krycek," Mulder hissed, the familiar anger appearing right on cue. "You—" he stopped short as he got a better look at the man.
Krycek was naked.
Mulder's eyes bulged and he felt his jaw go slack.
That was just sick. Sick and perverted. Mulder couldn't look away. What the bastard was playing at now? Mulder's mind rushed through at least half of all the possible answers, none of them too pleasant, although he wasn't sure about number four. Before he gathered his wits reasonably about him, though, and could make a move for his gun or a shirt or something – anything - Krycek was up and around the couch and sitting on the coffee table in front of Mulder. Who, to his immense relief, finally noticed that the traitorous piece of scum wasn't entirely naked.
He wore a loincloth.
Mulder didn't think it made much difference.
Then he glanced at Krycek's backside parked on his table and grimaced. He'd have to disinfect the thing as soon as he got rid of the insane sonofabitch.
That had to be the explanation. The aliens or Consortium had probably messed with Krycek's mind one time too many and he finally lost it. Yeah, that was it.
Calmer now that he had the situation figured out, Mulder asked the pertinent question:
"What do you want?"
And flinched a little as Krycek grinned widely, white teeth practically sparkling in the dark of Mulder's flat and gentle illumination of the fish tank. And it wasn't Krycek's usual evil, I'll-enjoy-making-you-suffer grin either. It was pure and happy and warm and lit up his whole face, making it almost inhuman in its etheral beauty.
Mulder stared, creeped out.
"Fox, dear boy," Krycek finally spoke. "You deserve some happiness."
"Wh-what?" Mulder stuttered, hardly believing his ears. That was not what he'd expected. Then he added reflexively, "And don't call me Fox, you bastard."
And then he was on a roll. "What is this, Krycek? Screwing up my life not enough for you anymore? You have to get your kicks another way? You know, I never took you for an exhibitionist, but what do I know, huh? So are you a flasher nowadays or just a hooker?"
Maybe it wasn't smart to insult a nut, but Mulder was past caring. He'd jumped up from the couch, needing to put some distance between himself and the – mostly naked – psycho, and now he looked, gritting his teeth, into Krycek's confused face. Damn, but the man could make it look so honest.
"Fox, I have no idea what you are talking about."
"I told you not to call me Fox!" Mulder roared and lunged for the rat bastard's throat. He only had time to notice that somehow Krycek moved much faster than he used to – or had finally developed some fighting instincts when Mulder was involved – before he crashed into his coffee table, missing Krycek rather spectacularly.
He sprawled on the floor in an undignified heap then rolled over and blinked up at the standing figure.
"All right, whatever, Mulder," Krycek crossed his arms, frowning and pouting a little. Jesus, he was actually pouting and that took 'disturbing' to a whole new level. "Listen, I have no idea who this Krycek of yours is, but I don't appreciate being assaulted. Christ, I just wanted to help you, bring a little joy into your miserable life, but hey, why do I bother?"
Mulder tuned out the rest of the speech because only now did he really notice one hard-to-miss fact. This Krycek had two arms.
And when he turned around, Mulder felt like his eyes were going to pop out any second. He had wings! Small, maybe half a metre in span, white, fluffy and quite obviously growing out from Krycek's back.
Mulder felt a rush of excitement, his professional curiosity tickled pink at the prospect of weird and bizarre.
"Wait." Mulder scrambled after his guest, mentally salivating at sniffing a potential X-file. "Who, what are you?"
"Oh dear." The winged, loinclothed, two-armed Krycek lookalike raised his eyebrows in dismay. "I haven't introduced myself, have I? Do forgive me, Fox."
Mulder winced, but let it pass.
"I am Cupid." Cupid put his hand to his chest and executed a small bow. "And since tomorrow is such a special day—Valentine's, you know," he added, seeing Mulder's blank stare, "I decided to brighten your dull existence a tad."
"Oh." Mulder thought this explanation actually made more sense than his previous theory. Krycek probably couldn't grow a new arm, could he. He poked experimantally at Cupid's left arm – yep, seemed real. He refrained from pawing the rest of him for the time being. Might not go down too well, although you never knew, especially with minor love deities.
And now that Mulder's analytical mind was back on line, he noticed a bow and a quiver on Cupid's back too.
"All right." Mulder slouched back on the couch, finally completely at ease. "So, um, brighten how?" Well, it wasn't often that he met someone wanting to just sparkle up his life. He might as well try it.
"Oh, my dear boy." Cupid fluttered his wings a little, obviously pleased with the turn of events, and sat in his spot on the coffee table again. Mulder warily eyed Cupid's barely-covered butt again and wondered fleetingly if he wore anything under that loincloth.
Cupid noticed Mulder's wandering gaze. "Hey, no peeking!" He crossed his legs and pursed his lips. Those mortals.
"Anyway," Cupid began his lecture, "as you surely know, the one thing that brings joy and happiness to a man is love." His face took on a dreamy, distant expression. It was still a bit unnerving seeing such a soppy look on... well, Krycek's face, basically, but Mulder was not an FBI agent for nothing. He coped.
"It's true, you know," Cupid meanwhile added at Mulder's look. "The fish won't give you the warmth of human contact and your collection of videotapes won't make you chicken soup when you're sick."
Well, that was true.
"I've seen that red-headed partner of yours," he continued, notably not leering at the mention of Scully. Maybe the guy deserved some credit. Though on the other hand, maybe not so much. Scully was hard not to leer at. Mulder didn't do it on daily basis only because when he tried that once his concerned partner rushed him straight to a dentist's office. She also helpfully pointed, "I'm a medical doctor, Mulder, but you look like you have a serious toothache. You'll probably need root canal."
"It's obvious you love each other. You just need a little push." And having said that, Cupid took an arrow out of his quiver, and Mulder decided that enough was enough, his feelings for Scully notwithstanding.
"Don't I get any say in this?"
"No," Cupid said decisively and jabbed the point of his arrow home. That is, Mulder's thigh. They both watched as the arrow dissolved like cigarette smoke in the air, at which point Mulder had an ominous and quite unpleasant feeling of getting himself into deep shit indeed.
"Now," Cupid stood up, preparing to leave, satisfied smile on his face. "These things aren't exactly specific, so just avoid looking people in the eye until you're with Dana. One look in her eyes and you'll feel yourself falling in love. At that point you'll also gain confidence in your feelings and that in turn will allow you to confess them to Dana." He patted Mulder's hand reassuringly and Mulder didn't jerk his hand back only because he was distracted by imagining Scully's eyebrow climbing higher and higher at his declaration. She's better love him too.
"Trust me, that's what you need." And then Cupid vanished.
Mulder blinked, felt momentary loss of a potentially great X-file and then rubbed his stabbed thigh. It didn't hurt and there was no mark, or at least not one that he could see, but he supposed it was normal considering the circumstances.
He bit his lip. His intuition was telling him – hell, it was screaming at the top of its non-existent lungs – that there was very real possibility of shit-hitting-the-fan situation ahead. Next morning, in fact.
Mulder stretched on his couch and stared moodily at his clock, any chance of falling asleep now gone the way of the dinosaur. Hm, had he heard this one before?
He woke up way past his usual time. Yes, miracle of miracles, he managed to doze off and even overslept. The arrow must have been drugged, he reasoned as he hurried through his morning routine. It would actually explain the effect Cupid's arrows had on people generally – instant infatuation couldn't be caused by anything else but a particularly nasty and potent drug.
Mulder grinned to himself, pleased that he solved this little case before he even had breakfast. Unfortunately it really was late and he had no time to gloat or float on cloud nine of his investigative genius.
He grabbed the handle, threw the door open and froze.
He looked straight into surprised eyes of his pain in the ass of an enemy, Alex Krycek himself. It had to be him this time – leather jacket was on and he had that stupid-ass haircut again. The surprise in those green eyes quickly turned into mild panic and Mulder only heard a faint "Oh, shit" before Krycek hightailed it out of Mulder's sight and presumably out of the building.
Mulder stood completely still on his doorstep, his mind automatically sorting through possible explanations of Krycek's unwanted presence. Did he miscalculated the time? was about to leave another message (that was probably all lies anyway)? wallop Mulder on the head and drag him to his rat-cave? What was it?!
And then a horrible, sickening realisation dawned, a bit like a mushroom cloud over devastated landscape of his hopes for any romantic relationship with Scully. Even if Krycek hadn't run, Mulder wouldn't be able to beat the reason for the bastard's presence here, this morning. Not on this morning and not anymore.
Mulder stopped breathing as he felt a freakish, but powerful emotion wrap around him like a boa constrictor. An emotion that was impossible to escape and decidedly out of the ordinary for him as far as Krycek was concerned. Well, at least he thought so – he didn't remember ever wanting to call Krycek the love of his life or nuzzle him and pet him and... With startling clarity Mulder saw in his mind's eye his own fingers caressing Alex's lips. Liar's lips, but that perfect Cupid's bow was so close, then closer, eyelashes tickling his cheek...
"You traitorous, pretty bastard," Mulder whispered hoarsely and passed out.
High above this Earthly world, Cupid glanced at his list of Deeds To Do. One name was still conspicuously unchecked. Alex Krycek had given Cupid a bit of a headache, but after careful deliberation he finally decided that assassins needed love too. There was this nice girl – Marita – whom Alex knew, if not exactly liked. Yes, that might pose a bit of a problem, but if that didn't work out, he could always give Alex one or two tapes from Fox's collection. Fox wouldn't need them – he'd have Dana.
Oh, wasn't it wonderfull when all just clicked neatly into place?