"Mulder, that is not a footprint."
"It could be." He remained crouched defiantly in the middle of the logging road, holding damp grass aside with both hands to get a better look at what was written in the mud. "If this rounded bit here is the heel... and that could be a toe..."
"A toe the size of a pine cone?"
"There's a reason it's not called the Smallfoot, you know, Krycek."
His partner did not allow himself to become distracted. "A toe the size of a pine cone with a pine cone scale pattern?" Krycek sank down on his heels next to Mulder and reached out his hand. "This particular pine cone, I think. Look, it fits."
Mulder sighed deeply as the footprint he had been looking at vanished. He had to admit that Krycek was right, though. This time. Bending to get an even closer look, he felt something cold and wet land on the back of his neck. "Hell." The sky, when he tilted his head back to look at it, was a dark roiling grey over the treetops, and another fat raindrop landed with a smack on the tip of his nose.
"Give it up, Mulder." Krycek sounded more amused than anything else. "If there's anything out here, this storm will wash it away. And if we make a run for it we'll get back to the car before we get soaked."
"Not scared of a little water, are you?"
"Mulder, theoretically, most FBI agents are smart enough to come in out of the rain." Rising smoothly, Krycek stretched down a hand and hauled Mulder to his feet, too. "Come on."
"All right," Mulder started to say, but right then the heavens opened and they were standing in a waterfall. Rain fell with all the force gravity could muster, filling the air with silver shimmers. Ten steps back along the twin ruts that passed for a road and he was soaked to the skin, starting to slide in the mud as the water softened the rich earth. "We could've driven all the way up here."
"You said you didn't want to take the risk of spooking the, ah, suspect." With rain plastering his shirt to his chest and washing all the hair gel away, Krycek still managed to widen his eyes, dripping lashes and all, and look supremely innocent. His suit jacket was back in the car, so unlike Mulder, he'd still have one dry thing to wear when they got back to civilization.
"Don't," Mulder said, "just don't."
"The road switchbacked pretty heavily," Krycek said placatingly. "We could probably take a shortcut, go right down here." He pointed at a gap between the firs, a grassy, muddy downslope that might be an animal trail.
Mulder snorted water out of his nose. "Lead on, MacDuff." Stumbling after Krycek, trying to distract himself from the way rain was sliding down the back of his neck, over his face, and into his ears, he admired the other man's shoulders, the lines of his back, his extremely tempting ass. A temptation Mulder had done very little to resist lately. Two weeks ago, investigating dead cows, they had ended up naked in a bathtub together. And then in a bed. And then... "Shit!"
If he'd kept his eyes on where he was going rather than on Krycek's rounded buttocks, he wouldn't have put his foot down so firmly on what turned into a small mudslide. Mulder flailed his arms, lost his balance and went down, skidding forward into Krycek, who also went over backwards, landing mostly on Mulder. They slid down on mud and wet grass, and Mulder tried to push Krycek off and Krycek tried to hang on. Mulder hit his elbow on a root, cursed and got his mouth full of grass. They rolled over and came to a stop.
"Get your knee off my stomach," Krycek said, tone as near a growl as anyone can manage who's just had the air knocked out of him.
"Sorry," Mulder said, and ended up flat on his back again with a rock digging into the back of his thigh. "But this was your shortcut."
"And you stumbled." Krycek pushed himself up on one elbow. He had mud on the side of his face, though the rain was beginning to wash it away. His nipples were showing through the thin, drenched cotton of his shirt. Mulder reached out and pinched one. "Hey! What do you think you're doing?"
"I'm taking a shortcut," Mulder said. He flicked the nipple with his nail, watched Krycek's eyes darken. The touch of cold, wet dirt on the back of his neck was unexpectedly erotic. Through the water beading on his lashes he saw Krycek begin to smile.
"The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, Mulder." Krycek put a hand on Mulder's stomach, rubbing as if petting a cat. "I know that's not your usual method of investigation." Krycek's hand moved lower, stroking over the fly of Mulder's pants, then down between his legs. "I think I've found something."
"Are you sure?" Mulder shifted, following the movements of Krycek's hand.
"Oh, I'm sure." Krycek smiled, and stroked. Mulder could feel the warmth of Krycek's hand through the damp, cold fabric of his pants; the sensation was both pleasant and unpleasant, an odd combination of good and bad shivers. He reached to tease a nipple again, but Krycek batted his hand away. "Just lie back and enjoy yourself, Mulder."
"Yeah, I just love to lie in the mud and get rained on." But he was enjoying himself. And there was something about the look on Krycek's face that promised he would enjoy himself even more as things progressed.
Krycek kept on rubbing Mulder's erection through his pants, watching him closely. Mulder didn't see any reason to hide that he liked what was happening. He pushed up against Krycek's hand and let his eyes fall almost shut, licked his lower lip and tasted rain.
"Mulder?" Nimble fingers undid the button of his slacks with only a short struggle with wet cloth, began to pull the zipper down.
"Mm?" He moved his hips helpfully.
"What would you do if you saw something big and furry run along the road right now?"
Krycek's fingers slid in under the boxers, curled gently around Mulder's cock, and stroked with slow precision. He sucked in a breath. "Tell it to," a groan tried to escape past his clenched teeth, "to come back later. Do that again."
"This?" Krycek ran his thumb around the head, then flicked it lightly just below, and Mulder couldn't hold back his groan this time. He was so turned on, even the rock digging into his leg registered as part of the erotic experience. "Sure."
Krycek did it again. And again. Mulder pushed into the stroking hand, closed his eyes against the rain and gave over control to his partner. Maybe it was the unusual circumstances. Maybe it was that Krycek was really very good with his hands. Slow strokes built into just enough of a rhythm to turn Mulder breathless. The contrast between the warmth of Krycek's hand and the cool rain made him shiver. The air smelled of earth and grass and pine needles, rich and seductive. He felt a warm touch on his chest — Krycek was pushing the suit jacket aside, biting at his nipples through the shirt. Mulder wove one hand into Krycek's hair, scratched encouragingly at the back of his neck. It felt so good, so good.
"Faster," he suggested.
A sharp nip from Krycek's teeth was the only response. Mulder wriggled. The hand on his cock was close to the pace he needed, frustratingly close, and he wanted more, needed the touch to be just right, not this almost-but-not-really rhythm that Krycek had to be doing on purpose to drive him insane. Not that he was going to beg — the choking sound he made when Krycek licked him through the shirt was just because he got rain in his mouth. He bucked his hips, trying to get more friction against Krycek's warm palm.
"Easy, Mulder," Krycek said softly, "you'll get what you need."
When will that be, he wanted to ask, next year? But he couldn't really speak, just lie there and pant for air and be touched, oh, oh yes, touched just like that, again. "Please," he gritted out, and Krycek's hand moved faster and that was all it took, he was right there, in that crystal-clear moment right before everything turned to blinding pleasure, and Krycek bit him again, and he was gone, he was just gone.
The rain kissed him with cool affection, over and over, and then Krycek kissed him, too, a warmer and more lingering touch. "Was that what you wanted?"
Mulder smiled. He opened his eyes, moved the leg that was lying on a rock, and turned to his partner. Krycek's hair had surrendered to the rain and was plastered to his head, longer strands falling down over his forehead and curling against his temples. He was smiling, too, looking innocently and cheerfully pleased with himself, like a scout who's just mastered a particularly tricky knot.
Mulder lifted his hand and flicked that same nipple again, searching Krycek's eyes for a response and seeing a glint of pleasure that he recognized from other moments, other games that they'd played. But Mulder didn't want to play games, he just wanted to make Krycek come, hard and fast, out here in the woods where no one could hear him scream. It was his turn now to push Krycek down flat, to lean over and touch his partner's body. This wasn't the time or place for subtle, drawn-out lovemaking, and besides, he knew exactly what he wanted. Mulder struggled with button and zipper, shirt-tails and briefs, until he had freed Krycek's erection and could lean in and take the head in his mouth, tasting Krycek and rain together. Not bad at all, even if he preferred the undiluted version.
He licked along the length of Krycek's cock and looked up. "What would you do if I saw something big and furry run along the road right now, and took off after it?"
The look on Krycek's face was positively angelic. "Shoot you."
Mulder laughed. "I can see you try to explain that in the OPC inquiry." He ran his tongue around the head, poking at the foreskin. "'Yes, sir, that is correct: my partner refused to suck me off, so I had to shoot him.'"
"But you're not refusing, are you, Mulder?" Krycek's voice had dropped to its lowest, huskiest tone, the one that made Mulder think of sex even when Krycek used it — accidentally, Mulder hoped — to order coffee or comment on a fresh corpse. Rather than answer in words, he tongued the shaft again, mouthing it from tip to root and then back up, pressing carefully with his teeth to feel Krycek shiver in response. He wasn't refusing. He was hooked on the way Krycek tasted, that slightly dry, bitter flavor, but even more on the sounds Krycek made and the way his hands moved, fingers digging into Mulder's shoulders.
Mulder sucked, slowly, pleasurably, concentrating on the head and using one hand to work the shaft. He kept it gentle until Krycek was practically clawing the shirt off his back, twisting against Mulder's weight. Then he hollowed his cheeks and relaxed, rolling back a little, letting Krycek fuck his mouth with choppy, desperate strokes. Waiting for the moans and cries that would inevitably follow. He loved this, the thick cock sliding over his lips and rubbing against his tongue, the way Krycek got loud and wild and out of control, yelling his pleasure to the trees and the sky and the rain. Mulder could have stayed like this forever, curled up in the mud with Krycek's cock down his throat, but Krycek wasn't going to last that long; Krycek was shivering and his hips pumped faster, harder, and then he froze and Mulder's mouth filled with hot, salty, bitter cream, and he drank it down.
It made him want to come again. But maybe there was a point in getting in out of the rain.
Tilting his head back, Mulder tried not to get rain in his eyes as he looked at the sky. All he could see beyond the high pines was dark grey; it looked as though it would rain for hours. They could go back to the motel, maybe grab some takeout on the way, and go over the reports that had brought them here one more time. All the sightings couldn't be pine cones. They could eat, and work, and fuck, and when it finallly stopped raining they could go back to the woods and hope that the creature they were hunting would come out to dry its fur in the sunshine.
"Come on, Krycek," he said, fastening his pants and starting to sit up. "We can't lie around here all day on the government's dime."
Krycek sat up, too, looking earnest and serious again. "Is it true," he asked, "that the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover has been known to appear to Federal agents who don't do their job right?"
"No." Mulder shook his head. "That's just something your superiors tell you to see if you're crazy enough to be assigned to the X-files."
"That explains a few things," Krycek muttered. He got to his feet and reached down a helping hand to Mulder. "It's just that they made it sound so convincing — described the dress he was wearing and everything."
Mulder, once upright, tried to brush wet mud off his pants. "You can't believe everything you hear." Their eyes met, and after a split second, they both started laughing.
Instead of trying any more shortcuts, they followed the twists and turns of the logging road all the way down to where the Lexus stood waiting for them. Mulder wondered if he could get away with putting the cleaning bill for the car upholstery on his expense claim. Probably not.
Krycek stood looking down at himself, an unhappy expression on his face. "Why is it that whenever I go out with you, my clothes get ruined?"
"I tried telling you outright how I feel about your suits, but since you didn't get it, I'm going with the subtle hints now."
"You're buying me lunch, Mulder."
"Just get in the car, okay?" Mulder got into the driver's seat, squirming as wet, cold cloth pressed into some fairly personal areas. Next to him, Krycek made a half-suppressed movement that indicated similar problems. About to close the car door, Mulder glanced down on the ground and froze. "Look."
"Krycek, look. I swear, that's—"
"No." Krycek shook his head, refusing to lean over. "No, Mulder. That is not a footprint. Now shut up and drive."
"Younger agents have no respect these days," Mulder said, heaved a deep sigh, and drove.