Tyrell House, Oxfordshire, England.
The room was large, old and dark, its contents in direct contrast small, modern, gleaming and bright. At least twenty computers sat along the huge table with smaller laptops hidden among them, their screens flickering a pale blue. The large winged back swivel chairs were occupied by a variety of men and women, their attention directed towards the head of the table and the young but distinguished looking man seated there. He nodded his head and spoke to an older man on his left. "Will you summarize the proceedings so far, Farrell."
"Certainly, Mr Tyrell," the man so addressed replied, and cleared his throat. He stood, pushing back the screen on his laptop. "We have yet to hear from all of our overseas colleagues, but most country's views are represented." He looked over the assembled heads before returning to the screen. "Our choices are to either create an environment in which we have twenty four hour access to the world, or to develop means of protecting us from exposure to ultraviolet light." He looked up from the screen and received a nod from the man at the top. "We have a division of opinion on the best way forward. Mr. Russell perhaps best represents the first view." He turned to a man dressed from head to foot in black.
Mr. Russell bowed and stood from his chair. As he began to speak his accent marked him as originally from Texas. "You all know of the proposals for creating months if not years of darkness," he began. "You are also aware of the repercussions this would have, with millions of deaths due to starvation." He looked round the room. "We have the technology to create this scenario, and in most of the world we have scientists who would be able to create enclosed environments where the more useful animal and plant life could be preserved." He looked round at the delegates. "We could begin this within the next decade." He sat down.
Mr. Russell stood again. "Monsieur Julianne is here to speak for the opposing view."
A larger slightly older man stood up. "We oppose any suggestion which would destroy the ecology of the earth and kill so many of its inhabitants," he said emphatically, his accent in sharp contrast to his transatlantic brother. "We may be vampires, long used to living in the dark, but many of us are not so far removed from our roots that we would like a grey world devoid of life and colour." He looked up at the leader. "Many of us are entertained by humans and consider that life would be far less satisfying without their constant chatter and fleeting lives. Our research concentrates on improving technology to allow us to communicate more effectively, to allow our voices to be transmitted electronically and our images to be reproduced through the media. We are also looking at clothes and screens that will allow us to venture out in the sun." He bowed and sat down.
The man at the top of the table placed his hands together and looked round the table. "I have considered both proposals, and my view is that we should continue with both lines of research, alongside our attempts to keep our 'food source' healthy. It would be silly to rush into anything too precipitately." He smiled briefly. "After all, we have all the time in the world, which is more than mere mortals can say."
A low buzz of chatter and laughter greeted his last words. He raised his hand and silence descended.
"My main concern is to expand our existing technology and find a more efficient way of communicating." He swept his arms over the array of computers. "It frustrates me that we cannot use a video link to speak to our colleagues overseas. I personally would be very happy to see something developed along those lines." He hesitated for a second then continued. "Any decision will need to be taken collectively and as such I hope to influence our brethren to look for alternatives to destroying so much of mankind. I will be in contact with our overseas contacts, and in the meantime I would be grateful if you would investigate ways of pursuing both proposals." He smiled at the assembled men and women, bowed his head and departed at such speed that to the human eye he would have seemed to vanish into thin air.
Jack wondered what exactly he had done to merit the attention of the top dog of the outfit. He made his way to the gates of his huge gothic mansion, and wondered why some of his kind seemed determined to play to stereotype. All that was missing was a crack of thunder and a stagecoach bearing down out of the mist. A human at the gatehouse nodded at him and let him through. He slowed his motorbike down and gently drew to a stop by the front door. Ringing the bell, his gaze drifted over the stone gargoyles framing the entrance and he grimaced in distaste
The large, imposing man who bowed him through smelt human enough, but with subtle undertones that Jack couldn't quite place. He directed Jack through large double doors to a smaller inner door and waved him through to meet Mr Big.
Mr Tyrell wasn't big. He was tallish, neat, and slim but, despite his youthful appearance, he did have a commanding presence. Charisma was an elusive quality, in vampires no less than humans, but Mr Big had it in spades. Jack waited to be acknowledged; casting his eyes over the leather bound study. It screamed wealth and age, the TV, video, computers and other electronic gadgets dotted around the room looking totally out of place. He discreetly checked out the security system, which was obviously aimed at monitoring humans, and was beginning to catalogue the books on view when Tyrell stopped his writing and looked up.
"Mr Beresford," he smiled. "Glad you could make it."
Jack nodded, waiting to see why exactly he had been ordered here.
"Do take a seat."
Jack glanced around noting a small high backed chair. Shrugging mentally he sat down, faced the man, and waited.
"Are you enjoying your new life?" Tyrell asked softly.
Jack glanced at him in surprise, but nodded.
"Good. Tell me, why did you cross over?"
Jack frowned at him. "Because I preferred the idea of eternal life to imminent death."
Tyrell nodded. "So you are not disappointed?"
Jack shook his head. "Not at all, it suits me exactly." He was silent for a second before staring challengingly at the man before him. "I like the freedom, and the power. However I'm disappointed to find that I'm still expected to take orders, which I've never much enjoyed doing. Still," Jack shrugged his shoulders," I am pragmatic enough to realise that some kind of central control will always be required."
The man nodded, smiling a little as he did so. "You don't feel excluded?"
Jack looked at him carefully. "I'm not in with the power brokers," he said slowly, "So in a sense I'm excluded although I can always express my opinion." He frowned again. "I'm sorry, but just where is this going?"
Tyrell laughed. "I'm interested in you, Mr Beresford. You have a certain style and you fit well into our society. I want to know your opinions on a few things, and I may have a use for your skills and knowledge."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Do go on," he said, intrigued.
Tyrell stood from the desk and pointed outside. "Humans inhabit all four corners of the globe, if a globe can be said to have corners." He smiled to himself. "We vampires are a fairly small community, kept that way by our conscious decision not to make so many of us that we begin to make an obvious impact on the societies that we co-exist with."
He looked at Jack who nodded. "In each country we have a leader such as myself, who leads and coordinates our brotherhood. In all societies there are rogues, but they can be fairly easily dealt with." He wandered nearer to the French windows. "What we are facing is more difficult to deal with. We face a division in our ranks regarding the way forward. Two camps have emerged. Those that want to make this world habitable only by ourselves and the favoured few." He looked sharply at Jack who remained still. "The other camp wants to develop technology that allows us to communicate more effectively and to go out in the sun as mortals do. Both proposals seek to give us more control over our destiny, but one chooses darkness and the other light."
Jack frowned. "Which camp are you in, Mr Tyrell?"
Tyrell smiled. "I am over three hundred years old, Mr Beresford. This house belonged to my family for generations and was my childhood home. The family lost money, prestige and the house soon after I crossed over." He peered out into the darkness one more time and walked back to his desk. "I purchased it relatively recently and still find myself greatly attached to it and my memories."
Jack relaxed back in the chair. "So I'd be right in thinking you are in the second camp?" he asked.
Tyrell nodded. "I have no desire to wipe out most of humanity and have the rest living in farmed enclosures." He shrugged. "This comes from my own desire to live well and in comfort. My body might not need it, but my mind does. I may not see the world in the sunlight, but I gain pleasure from the world at night, and I enjoy the material comforts of technology, video and film." He waved at the modern conveniences around him. "To my mind, the first choice destroys many of the pleasure of eternal life. I like humanity. I like to play, plot, scheme and plan. I enjoy their entertainment, their short lives, their pleasures and their pains. I can live some of it vicariously, most of it actually."
Jack nodded. "So how can I be of assistance to you?"
Tyrell smiled. "I want some subjects for experiments," he said charmingly. "Some reasonably important people with some influence but not too high up in their organisation?"
Jack looked intrigued. "What experiments and who do you want?"
Tyrell nodded. "Mind control, Mr Beresford. We have been experimenting with down and outs, drug addicts and people on the fringes of society with good results. We can install the control device within the cortex in hours. I want you to give me a list of key personnel in your old division and in squads such as vice and fraud. Can you do that?"
Jack nodded. "Not a problem."
"Good." He sat back. "I've also got a job for you."
"I want you to lure an American FBI investigator here."
Jack held back from making any inappropriate comments, but he was dumbfounded at the request. He moved in his chair and waited.
Tyrell smiled and continued. "His name is Fox Mulder and he heads up a department in the FBI named the X-Files. He has a reputation for brilliance and obsessiveness, and an ability to believe in the unthinkable." He reached for a file and placed it in front of him. "He has supposedly met with vampires, but they were either fakes, or bizarre renegades. I want him to become aware of us."
Jack looked at him curiously. "Why?" he asked.
Tyrell placed his hands together and stared at his fingers. "My American colleagues are the ones most in favour of wiping out much of humanity. As far as I am aware, they have no official opposition in their own country. It pains me to align myself with humans, but I feel that my American brethren need to be distracted and provided with some resistance to their plans." He smiled. "My informant tells me that this Fox Mulder is like a dog with a bone when pursuing something."
"You want this Fox Mulder to come here?" Jack asked incredulously.
Tyrell smiled. "I want him to meet Michael, and gain access to the squad."
Jack went still.
Tyrell smiled again. "You don't think that your seduction of your old friend went unnoticed do you, Jack?"
Jack focused back on Tyrell, and smiled grimly. "Gossip quiet at the moment?" he asked.
Tyrell smiled gently. "Everything that Michael and the squad do is monitored closely, Jack. You know that."
Jack nodded. "Of course I know, " he said mildly, "I'm doing the observation much of the time."
Tyrell smiled again. "We were pleased to see that you took it so literally, Jack. Surprised also, it must be admitted, but very pleased." He looked at Jack with curiosity. "When do you expect him to cross over?"
Jack shook his head. "Not anytime soon. He may have given in to his baser desires to sleep with the 'enemy', but he has no intention of becoming one of us." He smiled, his good humour restored. "He justifies it to himself as research, which even he knows is bullshit. But he was lonely, and I wanted him, so he fell."
Tyrell laughed. "Poor Michael, he never stood a chance did he?"
Jack shook his head. "No," he said, and grinned.
Tyrell shook his head. "Enjoy him, Jack. He is a tasty mortal, and I believe I understand your desire to keep your involvement quiet, but Michael is too important to us to remain on the other side. He will join us, it is inevitable."
Tyrell stood from the desk and handed the file to him. "Get Fox Mulder over here, Jack. We will present him with enough 'evidence' to hunt for our kind in his own country."
"What does he hunt now?" Jack asked, his curiosity aroused.
"Aliens," Tyrell murmured, with a moue of distaste. "Apparently there are lots of them in America."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Are they just gullible or is it for real? Why do they always seem to land in America, I've never heard of a sighting here."
Tyrell smiled. "Maybe gullibility plays a part, but it is apparently well documented and government agencies take it seriously." He moved towards the globe and spun it. "The USA is a large land mass, hard to miss."
Tyrell laughed. "And you expect the Chinese government to acknowledge aliens?"
Jack shook his head and headed for the door. "I'll start working on it now," he promised. At the door he hesitated. "If these aliens are for real how does that affect us?"
Tyrell tapped a pen against his lips for a second. "I think we may need to find out more. If there is a threat to this world by aliens, we are involved. I need to talk to Mr. Mulder to ascertain the reality of this situation." He laughed. "Looking at his profile, I have a feeling it will be a fascinating experience." He smiled again, and nodded his dismissal.
Mulder felt tired and dispirited. He walked wearily to his door and leaned his head against it for a few seconds before opening it. He undid his tie and slipped off his jacket before heading towards the kitchen and a cold beer. A sound to his right made him freeze, but before he could do anything he was pressed up against the wall and held there, a hard arm across his throat. He took a deep breath and stopped struggling as a gun pressed to the side of his head.
"We have to stop meeting like this, Mulder," the familiar, husky voice murmured in his ear.
Mulder sighed. "This is getting old, Krycek. What lies have you come to feed me this time?" he asked wearily.
Krycek snorted. "No lies, Mulder. Just some good, honest information."
Mulder snorted and pushed the artificial arm away from his throat. "Honest?" he asked incredulously. "Do you even know what the word means, Krycek?"
Krycek shrugged his shoulders stepping back to allow Mulder to continue his journey to the kitchen. Without being asked, Mulder grabbed two beers and walked to his couch, uncomfortably aware of Krycek's dark gaze on him as he sat on the edge of his seat. He held up the beer. "Since you'll insist I'll listen, normally at the end of a gun, and I'm too tired to come up with any new terms of abuse, why not make this relatively civil?"
Krycek remained still for an instant before sitting warily on the other end of the couch, and opening his beer, slightly awkwardly, with his left hand. He noticed Mulder's surprised look and bared his teeth in a mock grin. "Most up to-date prosthesis money could buy," he said cheerfully. "Actually most people couldn't get this for love or money as I'm a bit of a guinea pig, but it seemed worth the discomfort."
"How?" Mulder asked, intrigued despite himself.
Krycek gazed at him for a few seconds his eyes bright and wary. "They were experimenting on some kind of mind control, I looked into it and one of the scientists agreed to create a link between my motor cortex and the muscles in my stump." He stopped for a second and took a gulp from the can. "It's rather like the myoelectric hands, but hundreds of times faster, and my prosthesis has some snazzy electronics in it."
Mulder stared fascinated at Krycek's artificial arm until a cough from Krycek distracted him. Krycek looked at him, a small grin flickering at the corner of his mouth, "I think this is the longest conversation we've had without you throwing abuse and accusations at me," he said sounding amused.
Mulder shrugged. "Give me more warning next time you intend to jump me, I'm sure I'll come up with something new."
Krycek gave a tight smile. "I like you like this, Mulder. Open, curious and slightly vulnerable."
Mulder flushed, and gripped his can tightly. "Say what you want to say, Krycek, then leave," he said levelly.
Krycek looked at him and nodded. He finished his drink then stood. Mulder relaxed a little and sat back into the couch, regretting his move instantly as Krycek flowed from stillness into action and had him pushed flat on the sofa in an instance. Mulder swallowed, looking up into glittering green eyes as Krycek's face came nearer to his.
"Read your mail and think hard about going to England," Krycek said slowly, his breath tickling Mulder's ear. "I think you'll find it very worthwhile."
"Why?" Mulder managed.
"Read it," Krycek repeated, then leant forward and pressed his lips to Mulder's.
Mulder gave a gasp and then a moan as Krycek teased his lips apart. He kissed him so expertly that Mulder lost the power of rational thought. Krycek looked into his eyes and, apparently satisfied with what saw, leaned forward for a second kiss. Mulder was gasping for breath and dazed by the end. He blinked rapidly as Krycek's hand ran down his body and squeezed the evidence of his arousal.
"Next time I'm not stopping," Krycek murmured in his ear. "Next time you're mine, Fox Mulder, and you know it." He followed his words with another proprietarial squeeze, nipped Mulder's ear gently, and had gone before Mulder could come up with any response.
Mulder groaned in frustration and banged his head against the arm of the couch. Damn him, he thought hopelessly, damn the bastard. He lay motionless on the couch and tried to calm himself, but his last memories of Krycek, before everything went wrong between them, distracted him. He moaned again, and hit his head against the couch gathering his hatred for the man and everything he stood for as a counter to the unwanted arousal.
Eventually his erection subsided, and he contemplated Krycek's words. His gaze flicked towards the airmail envelope that Krycek had indicated. He sat forward and finished his beer, all the while viewing the envelope as if it contained a bomb. Even as he opened it he handled it with care, relaxing as a pile of photographs tumbled onto the table. The brief printed note said. 'What could stop you if you were immortal and undetectable by anything but the human eye?'
Mulder picked up the photos and went through them methodically. Each showed people reacting to something or someone near them that was invisible. Mulder grunted, he had no idea why anyone wanted him to check this out, but the first thing he was going to do was to get the Lone Gunmen to see whether the photos had been manipulated. He was about to dismiss it as a poor attempt to distract him from his search for the truth, when he noticed a photo of a lone man standing, shoulders hunched, staring out into the distance. He viewed the man with interest; he was young, dark haired, handsome with an indefinable suggestion of sorrow about him. He turned the photo over and read. 'Michael's best friend became one, now Michael belongs to a secret, government sanctioned, assassination squad. Michael questions, like you question. Join him to discover the truth about his friend.' In the bottom an address and telephone number in London were given.
Mulder shook his head in bewilderment. Why the hell would anyone from England want an FBI agent, to investigate, and why him? He might be known here, but who, except UFO enthusiasts, would be aware of his activities outside of the United States? He thought back to Krycek's words and the mystery became even more puzzling. Why on earth would the consortium be interested? Although he had no evidence that Krycek was working for anyone but himself these days. He picked up the photo of Michael and looked at the man again before collecting everything and stuffing it in the envelope, intent on forgetting it for the time being.
Checking in on his e-mail a few minutes later, he realised he wasn't going to be allowed to forget it so easily. Duplicates of each photo and message had been sent to him on the hour throughout the day. He systematically deleted all but one of them finding that his attempt to reply asking for further information was blocked. Deciding that he'd be better rid of it for now he forwarded the email to the Lone Gunmen, and decided to wait until he had something more concrete that this to work on.
FBI HQ, Washington. D.C.
A month later, Mulder was ready to climb the wall in frustration. Everything he'd touched of late seemed to fall to pieces; evidence went missing, leads mysteriously vanished, and cases seemed to be conspiring against him. He leaned back in his chair and eyed the pencils embedded in the ceiling thoughtfully.
"Mulder, Skinner wants to see us."
Mulder sighed, standing up and reaching for his jacket. He squared his shoulders and straightened his tie. "Let's get it over with," he muttered under his breath.
Scully looked him over impassively before striding to the door. They remained silent during the ride in the elevator and did not exchange a word as they sat waiting for their boss to give them his attention. Skinner stood by the window for a second longer before turning towards them.
"Agent Scully, Agent Mulder," he said pleasantly. He glanced Mulder's way. "I have spent a few hours trying to make sense of the report from your last case and failing miserably." He sighed, took his glasses off and methodically cleaned them before replacing them. "I have also had to deal with some strongly worded complaints from the local police about your working methods." He raised his hand as Mulder began to speak. "I know that the local sheriff did not want you involved, Mulder and I know he has an axe to grind." He looked unsmilingly at Mulder. "However, calling him an incompetent, meddling old fool was neither tactful nor professional.
Mulder sighed internally. He very much regretted his loss of temper now, but the stupid bastard had made him so damn angry. "No, sir," he said obediently.
Skinner glared at him. "Unfortunately for you the man has a friend with influence, and I have received a note informing me that a reprimand and disciplinary measures are expected." He glared at the letter Mulder assumed carried this information. "I do not like being told what to do, and will not be shanghaied into anything, but following, as this does, several weeks of such mishaps I feel that it would be sensible for you to take a leave of absence. Use up all of your vacation time outstanding for the past few years."
He turned to Scully. "Agent Scully, during Mulder's absence you might like to do a little lecturing and forensics work at the FBI training centre."
Scully nodded cautiously, glancing at Mulder as she did so. "This is temporary, sir?" she said turning her attention back to Skinner.
Skinner nodded. "There is the usual pressure to shut you down, close the X-Files, return Mulder to profiling since he is still considered to be one of the best they had, and get you back into the pathology labs. I am of course resisting it, but stunts like this," he waved the record sheet at Mulder, "and the past weeks events do not help our case. Do I make myself understood?"
"Yes, sir," Mulder said, wondering what the hell he was going to do with three weeks of down time.
Skinner sat down in his chair. "Good, now take me through this case in easy stages, Agent Mulder, because I'd like to be able to give the Assistant Director a clear picture of what exactly you thought you'd found."
Mulder relaxed, this was the easy part.
Skinner sat back in his chair and sighed, waiting for the inevitable. He could smell the man before he came out from the shadows, and watched impassively as he lit up a cigarette and inhaled.
"I really don't know how you keep a straight face sometimes, Skinner," the cigarette smoking man said, a wicked smile flickering across his face. "Mulder would be worth keeping around just for his entertainment value."
Skinner glared at him. "I don't understand your persistent interest in Mulder," he growled. "Don't you think you've done enough to him already?"
The man laughed, blowing out a lungful of smoke in his direction. "I don't think I'll ever tire of playing with Mulder. He's just too enjoyable to provoke." He inhaled absently. "I want him alive, Skinner, never doubt that, just leashed."
"What has this been all about?" Skinner asked, irritably, waving away a cloud of smoke. "Agent Mulder and Scully's problems have been mostly your doing, not his, as you damn well know. Why this sudden desire to get him to take vacation, and why split him from Scully?"
The man became serious. "Some one wants him to go to England, and we want to know who and why." He knocked his ash into a saucer, smiling with faint malice as Skinner pushed it as far away from himself as possible. "Unfortunately he's been somewhat reluctant to take the bait, so I thought he needed some encouragement."
Skinner glared at him. "Damn you for playing around with my people. You hurt him and I'll do everything in my power to make you pay for it."
The man laughed. "Childish threats, Skinner, we are stooping low." He stubbed out his cigarette and walked to the door. "Mind your own business on this one. Agent Scully will be safely kept out of the way, although I've no doubt that Mulder will ring her and let her know what he is doing, and I've got one of my best men keeping an eye on Mulder, so he'll be safe."
Skinner stood up. "Safe from whom?" he growled.
The man laughed. "That I hope to find out." He gave one last amused look, and left.
Mulder turned, blinking in surprise as he recognised the man before him.
"Michael Colefield?" he asked in return, holding out his hand. The tall, dark haired man smiled briefly, the smile lightening his face and making him look boyish.
"It seems we were both well prepared, Mr Mulder," he said ruefully.
Mulder grinned. "Call me Mulder, everyone else does, and yes, someone wants us to meet."
Michael's expression dropped. "I know a little about what this is about, but I'm a little uncertain why you have been dragged half way across the world." He hesitated, his expression quizzical. "I'd like to know more about you, and what you do. Someone obviously thinks highly of you."
Mulder laughed. "Not anyone I work with, that's for sure."
Michael looked at him strangely, before breaking into a warm smile. "Come and have a coffee," he suggested. "My colleagues want to meet you as well, but I think I'd like to get to know a little more about you first, and warn you what you're getting yourself into before the shit hits the fan, so to speak."
Mulder nodded. Gripping his case firmly he followed Michael up the escalator and into the airport lounge. Like all airports, Heathrow was crowded and busy, but Michael seemed to know exactly where he was heading, and they eventually sat down in comfortable armchairs, sipping coffee in a reasonably secluded spot in a lounge bar.
Michael sat back in his chair. "What do you know about the reason for your trip?" he asked.
Mulder shrugged. "I've been getting photos and snippets of information about apparently undetectable and immortal people," he said carefully. "Someone included a picture of you in the pack, told me your friend was one, and that you were part of a secret government group against them, and suggested I investigate. I ignored it, but circumstances have led me to take three weeks vacation, and well, here I am, unofficially of course."
Michael took a slow drink of his coffee and nodded. "I think secret is rather a questionable choice of word," he said sharply. "For such a supposed secret organisation there are an amazing number of people who seem to know about us."
Mulder nodded non-committally.
Michael sighed, looking around the lounge bar carefully, and glancing into the large mirror behind them. He turned back, apparently satisfied, and took another sip of his coffee. "Pearse, the leader of my group, decided that we would do better to talk to you than let you wander round London making inquiries that might rattle a few closets. My investigation into you suggested that being the type of investigator you are, you'd find enough closets to keep us all busy." He smiled at Mulder, talking the sting out of his words.
Mulder smiled back, deciding that he rather liked Michael Colefield. "What is your line of business?" he asked.
Michael ran his hand through his hair. "I was a police officer, plain clothes on the Met. Lately I've been using those same skills for my new employees. I know you're FBI, and that your profiling skills are highly thought of."
Mulder laughed. "How tactful," he said. "What you're failing to say is that many people think I am criminally negligent wasting those self same skills investigating X Files."
Michael smiled again, his eyes crinkling in real amusement. "I didn't think that piece of information would help my cause."
Mulder smiled again. "And what's that?"
Michael sighed. "My colleagues want you to make yourself available to the people who are courting you, and let them reveal who they are, what their agenda is, and then tell us." He shook his head. "I've demanded that they tell you everything, and I mean everything, and I'm telling you now, I'm none too happy about this."
"Why?" Mulder asked bluntly.
Michael shook his head. "These are dangerous…" he hesitated for a few seconds, shrugged and continued, "people you'll be dealing with, Mulder."
"It's unlikely they've got me over here just to kill me," Mulder suggested.
Michael shook his head. "I know, but…" he sighed and finished his coffee. "I've said I want to be involved in this with you, but I doubt I'll be permitted."
Mulder raised his eyebrows.
"Officially," Michael added.
Mulder grinned. "You're a man after my own heart, Michael," he said cheerfully. "Come on, take me to your leader."
Michael shot him an amused look, "Call me, Mike," he said, standing up. He waited for Mulder to grab his suitcase, and led him out of the lounge.
Mulder's cell bleeped, and he cast an apologetic look at his companion before checking the message. "It's from my partner," he explained, after grinning stupidly at the wry message." She hopes I'm behaving myself, and having a great vacation. Vacation's got three question marks after it, so I think I've been busted."
"Agent Scully?" Michael asked.
"Are you close?"
Mulder nodded again. "She's my best friend," he said absently, tucking his cell back in his jacket pocket.
"You're lucky," Michael said quietly, turning away as Mulder wondered at the sadness in his expressive eyes.
The journey across London was slow despite Michael taking several detours to avoid the traffic. Mulder looked out of the window, taking in some familiar and not so familiar sights, and dredged up his memories from brief trips to the capital all those years ago. Michael glanced at him. "Do you find it changed?" he asked.
Mulder grimaced. "I didn't really come up very often, to be honest, Mike. Oxford was a good social scene, and my friends and I tended to stay there. I did the touristy bit, saw the palace, the changing of the guards and even took a bewildered look round the Tate, but not much else. I like the Eye though, it's pretty cool."
Michael nodded, narrowly avoiding a collision with a cyclist. "You get used to it, but you can get an amazing view of London from it. I'll take you up there if you want."
"I'd like that," Mulder replied. He'd spent less than an hour in Michael's company, but he already liked the guy, and would be happy to take time out to do something different.
Michael pointed to a fairly non descript building. "We're here, I'll park round the side."
Entering the building he was taken aback by the profusion of lights as Michael ushered him into a meeting room.
"I'll tell the others, help yourself to coffee I won't be long."
Mulder nodded and sat down tipping back his chair, and staring absently up at the ceiling. Recalling the photos and details from the messages he wondering if his suspicion about what he was facing was going to be confirmed or not. He looked round as someone came through the door.
"I'm Vaughan," the guy said crisply, holding out his hand.
Mulder got to his feet and shook hands. Vaughan's grip was firm and he carried himself well. Mulder wouldn't be surprised to find he was an ex military man, somehow he had that kind of bearing. "Mulder," he said, in reply.
Vaughan nodded unsmiling as an attractive woman walked in. She eyed him for a few seconds before holding out her hand. "Dr Angela Marsh," she said politely.
Mulder shook again. "Pleased to meet you, Dr Marsh, I'm Fox Mulder."
She inclined her head, and sat opposite him. Michael re-entered the room, smiled at him briefly, and took the seat next to her.
The last member of the group made his entrance, closed the door and nodded at Mulder, offering his hand. "Pearse," he said as they shook," and you must be Agent Mulder. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr Mulder, I've heard some very good things about you."
Mulder smiled. "And some bad as well, I have no doubt."
Pearse smiled faintly. "Yes, but everyone agrees that your primary objective is to find the truth, whether they approve of your methods or not."
Mulder nodded. "What can you tell me about these," he asked, pouring the photographs out onto the table. He kept back the photo of Michael, sure that he would prefer his colleagues not to read what was written about him.
Pearse glanced at the photos while Vaughan grabbed a handful, looking though them closely. "We know them as Code V's, Agent Mulder, or, in common parlance, vampires."
Mulder nodded thoughtfully. "You take vampires seriously then?"
Pearse nodded. "Certainly, I consider them the single biggest threat to mankind."
Mulder blinked. "Why?" he asked simply.
Pearse sighed. "We are their food source, and they wish to protect it and ensure its quality. Our propensity to fall prey to a continuing number of virulent bacteria, viruses and more concerns them."
Mulder nodded. "Why should that threaten us, surely their parasitic need for us ensures our continuation?"
"But in what manner?" Pearse asked cryptically. "What do we do when our livestock is threatened by disease?"
Mulder nodded slowly. "I've met people calling themselves vampires," he smiled ruefully." I got pretty friendly with one in particular. I would hesitate to call them dangerous. Misguided and bizarre maybe."
Pearse sat back in his chair. "The ones you met were not the same type of things we are dealing with here, Agent Mulder. These Code V's are dangerous. They aren't young idiots running around sucking blood and playing games. These are organised and determined near immortals with a specific agenda for the future, and one which does not have humanity's best interests at heart." He looked at Mulder who nodded for him to continue. "These Code V's have links over the globe, heavy involvement in finance, they have infiltrated many of our institutions, and have many humans happy to work for them for money or the possibility of 'membership' into their exclusive club. They travel in daylight in blackened cars, and cross the skies and oceans as cargo, unaffected by lack of oxygen and cold. The only way to kill them is to expose them to ultraviolet light or shoot carbon into their heart. Even then their ashes can be resurrected by their own kind so we have to keep immolated Code V's in a heavily guarded and UV lit chamber." He sighed, taking a deep breath. "Lastly, and perhaps most disturbing for us all, Code V's can influence and control those humans they feed on or bite without the victim being aware that they are being manipulated. The only outward sign is an aversion to daylight and religious icons." He looked at Mulder quizzically. "We have all been bitten and treated by lasers. As bites only show up under ultraviolet light we are now regularly checked for Code V exposure. You see our concern?"
Mulder nodded slowly, aware of a deep feeling of revulsion at the thought of being controlled by another. "I understand, but why are they so active here?" he asked slowly. "I've heard nothing about this back home. Not even a whisper. . Our number one enemy comes from outside, not inside."
"You really believe that?" Vaughan asked, somewhat scornfully Mulder thought.
"I've seen them," Mulder replied, secretly amused at the disgusted face Vaughan pulled. "They're, unfortunately, as real to me as your vampires are to you."
"My husband became one and took one of my twin daughters with him," Dr Marsh said quietly.
Mulder looked at her sympathetically. "I am very sorry," he said sincerely, " and I understand your loss. My sister was abducted by aliens as I stood and watched. I have spent my life trying to find out what really happened to her. I do not doubt your vampires, I just ask you to keep an open mind about what I have seen."
She nodded her head, "I understand," she said gracefully. "I am a scientist, Mr Mulder, I need proof before I am willing to accept anything. However, I am not so closed minded as to deny something just because I have not yet had the proof presented to me."
Mulder smiled at her. "My partner is a pathologist, and she too has a practical, analytical and scientific mind. You'd get along very well with each other, Dr Marsh."
Angela Marsh nodded again, and Mulder was aware of a deep sense of sadness around her. He looked up to see both Pearse and Vaughan watching her with affection. Michael looked a little pale and distant, but smiled in acknowledgement as he felt Mulder's eyes on him.
Pearse cleared his throat. "Has Michael told you what we hope you will do?" he asked.
Mulder nodded. "Let myself be led to those who want to talk to me, and give you any information that I discover."
Pearse nodded. "Michael has said that he is willing to give you as much information as you require. All we ask from you is that you provide us with any useful information that you find to help us in our battle, you keep your knowledge of us to yourself, and you submit to a medical inspection following contact."
"We have an agreement," Mulder said, holding out his hand. Pearse reached across the table and shook his hand solemnly. "Good, now I really need to get some sleep for a few hours." He turned to Michael. Would you call me a cab?"
Michael stood up. "I'll take you back to my place, unless you've already booked a hotel?" Mulder shook his head. Michael looked at Pearse who nodded his head. "So that's settled."
Mulder smothered a yawn behind his hand and nodded.
Michael's flat was modern, neat and tidy. Mulder relaxed as he lay back on the larger of the two sofas, a cool lager in his hand, and the TV playing in the background. Michael had checked his fridge, muttered something about shopping, and left him relaxing in the leather bound comfort. He closed his eyes, and thought about the information he'd just been given. He'd never given much thought to the reality of vampires. Meeting Kirsten and the others a few years previously had seemed like one of those weird things that just happened to him. Like many of the 'different' people that he and Scully had investigated, he'd assumed that they were flukes of nature. The thought of organised vampires was different, and intrigued him as much as it scared him.
Thoughts of Scully reminded him that he had not answered her message. He dialled her number, waiting impatiently for her to answer. "Scully, it's me," he said without preamble. He grinned at her answer. "No, I'm behaving myself," he assured her. He shook his head at her dry reply. "I'll call you when I've done more," he told her, grinned again at her response, and finished the call feeling happier. He pocketed his cell phone and lapsed back into relaxed contemplation.
He looked up as the door opened, and Michael walked in, dumping shopping bags on the floor. "I forgot to shop at the weekend," he offered in explanation. "I went on a long delayed visit to see my folks, and came back with enough of Mum's food to feed me for the next three days." He grinned and Mulder thought again how much it lightened his too solemn countenance, and left him wondering exactly how old Michael actually was. "It won't do for the two of us though, so I got juice and more lager, crisps and an Indian meal if you'd like. I can heat it up in the oven, or I could get a takeaway."
Mulder sighed happily. "I actually crave fish and chips in newspaper with vinegar all over the chips." He grinned. "It's all coming back, I wouldn't say that England was ever a source of culinary delights, but I do recall the fish and chips and the curries with some nostalgia."
Michael laughed. "Things have improved, Mulder, although you have to hunt for a good chippie now days, but the best ones still wrap the fish up in newspaper. It's a good insulator as all the homeless who sleep outside will tell you." He checked his watch. "The best one is a few miles away so I'll take the car and be back in about twenty minutes. Will you sort out some plates?" He hauled the bags into the kitchen. "I'll just put the juice and milk away, then I'll be off."
Mulder puttered around the kitchen checking the cupboards for some time after Michael left. He then wandered round the rest of the flat, finding a good-sized bathroom with a power shower, and a fair sized double bedroom. The place was very male, no little extras that tended, usually, to suggest a feminine influence. Never the less it looked like a home. He was checking out Michael's taste in books when the food arrived. Helping Michael to load the plates, he collapsed on the sofa, and ate the fish hungrily. They ate mostly in silence, apart from the odd murmur of appreciation and an occasional companionable grin at each other.
Mulder held up a large, crisp chip and waggled it at Michael. "Now this I miss," he intoned. "Back home we have great crispy french fries, but I can't remember the last time I ate a big, fat chip like this."
Michael nodded, licking his hands happily before looking around for a napkin. "Last time I had these was after a long night in the pub. Somehow they taste better with less alcohol lining my stomach," he said cheerfully.
They finished the meal, washed up and settled down with coffee. The talk wandered around for a little, mainly gentle quizzing from Michael about his student days and why he had gone for the FBI. Mulder was enjoying himself. He felt relaxed and comfortable, glad to have avoided the uniform 'hospitality' of a hotel room, and pleased to find himself in such amiable company.
He glanced down at his case, catching sight of the edge of the envelope protruding from the side pocket, and frowned. He didn't particularly want to spoil the pleasant atmosphere, but he needed to discuss a few things. He leaned forward, and pulled it out, tipping the lone photo onto the coffee table. "I didn't show them this one, Mike. I thought maybe you might feel uncomfortable about your work colleagues reading the note on the back." He offered Michael the photo of himself.
Michael took it, grimaced, then turned it over, reading the writing silently.
Mulder looked at him carefully. "Will you tell me about him? He became one of them, didn't he?"
Michael sighed. "They call it crossing over, and yeah, he crossed over on the eve of his wedding. His fiancée was distraught." He sighed again. "It's a long and involved story, Mulder, and you don't really want to hear it all, but Jack crossing over was what got me into the squad. Jack and I go back more than ten years, and he was both my partner at work, and my best friend, so I was initially reluctant to think any ill of him. It was only when I saw Vaughan shoot another suspect, that I reluctantly realised that they had spoken the truth. Code V's don't show up on film or video. The only thing that can see them is the human eye, and animals no doubt. The squad use a gun loaded with carbon bullets, and have a video sight mounted on the side so you can make sure that you're looking at a vampire. Following my suspicions I 'borrowed' one of their guns and checked Jack out. To my horror he never showed up in the sight, so I knew. We had a fight, he threatened to turn Kirsty, his fiancée, and tried to bite me." He sighed, staring down at the photograph, his eyes distant. "I'd gone armed with a grenade. Why I don't know, but, I didn't want him hurting her or anyone else for that matter. Jack laughed at me, and then moved so fast I didn't see him coming. He pulled the grenade out of my reach, and threw it into the playground we were standing in. It went off, blowing up a wooden carousel, which promptly embedded part of itself in Jack's chest. He imploded into dust, and I was in the squad." He shook his head. "I helped to bring him back, to try and convince his fiancée to stop looking for him, and..."
"And because you missed me so much, Mike," another voice added.
Mulder swung round in alarm. He hadn't heard a thing until the man spoke. He stared up into the face of the man automatically taking in his appearance even as he realised that this must be the ex best friend. Jack smiled ingenuously at him, his longish hair brushed back off his forehead and giving his face a slightly impish appearance, certainly a stark contrast to the handsome, dark and somewhat melancholy looks of Michael.
The smile moved into a cheeky grin. "You must be the intrepid Fox Mulder," he said cheerfully, returning the stare with attitude. "Your picture didn't do you justice, Fox." He grinned again.
Mulder cleared his throat. "Call me Mulder," he said automatically. "I assume you're Jack."
Jack grinned, walking towards Michael. He sat next to him, throwing a proprietary arm around his neck and pulling his face towards him. He traced a finger over Michael's lips before kissing him soundly. Mulder blinked, not entirely too sure what to make of Jack's behaviour.
"Please, Jack," he heard Michael gasp, as he surfaced from the kiss.
Jack grinned. "Just marking my territory, love. You and the handsome Fox were getting very friendly over the fish and chips." He gave Michael another kiss before pulling him back in to the sofa, but keeping a possessive arm flung over his shoulder. "I don't think Mike had got round to telling you that he and I are lovers, had he, Fox?"
Mulder grimaced. "Do you think you could call me Mulder," he asked politely. "I think you are well aware of what Mike and I were talking about, Jack."
Jack laughed as Michael sighed. "I'm sorry, Mulder," he said, sounding sincere and slightly ashamed. "I guessed that Jack was likely to be involved in all this, but as he never tells me anything, I didn't know." He looked side ways at his grinning ex partner. "I was going to tell you about him, but as you can see…" he trailed off looking at Mulder apologetically
Jack laughed again. "It's my charm, Mulder. Basically I wanted him and he couldn't resist. Isn't that right, Mike?"
Michael shrugged. "Yes," he said softly, a faint flush of red splashing across his cheeks. He lowered his head and gazed at the floor.
Jack watched him with affectionate amusement before turning his attention to Mulder. His eyes sparkled with somewhat malicious interest as he said. "I'd certainly be interested in you, Agent Mulder, if it wasn't for the fact that I have who I want, and that the one armed man standing outside the window would probably make a mess of Mike's flat if I tried anything."
Mulder's head snapped round in startled shock as Jack continued. "He's been watching you since you arrived here, Mulder. I guess you know him quite well, since he seems to react very positively when he hears your voice or catches sight of you." He glanced towards the window, raising his voice slightly. "Try the door, I left it open."
Mulder watched open mouthed as Alex Krycek walked in, his gun levelled menacingly at Jack. "Krycek, what the fuck are you doing here?" he gasped, standing from the sofa, his fists clenched in anger.
Krycek glanced his way. "Watching you, Mulder, as always. Interesting company you keep on vacation." He watched Jack curiously. "I never saw you enter, and I wasn't aware of you watching me which worries me a great deal because I'm good at my job. What the hell are you?"
"He's a vampire," Mulder said in exasperation. "For Christ's sake, you were the one that suggested I came and checked this out in the first place. Didn't you guess something like this?"
Krycek's arm didn't waver. "We're not checking out an X File, Mulder. Vampires don't exist so try again."
"Nor do aliens," Mulder said tiredly, relaxing his fists and slumping back into the sofa. "Krycek, you're out numbered here. Put your gun down and explain what the fuck you are doing here."
Krycek lowered his gun a fraction, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on Jack. "Keeping your butt safe," he answered. "Something I seem to do regularly, so it's a good job I enjoy the view."
"Krycek," Mulder growled, clenching his fists impotently.
Jack laughed, glancing with amusement between the two of them. "I'd take Mr Mulder's advice, Mr Krycek, and sit down.
Krycek flicked his safety on, tucked his gun away, and sat next to Mulder. Mulder took a deep breath, far more aware of Krycek than he wanted to be.
"Whose interests do you represent, Mr Krycek?" Jack asked.
Krycek gazed at him impassively for a second. "A number," he said briefly. "First my own, second my boss, a Mr Spender," he looked amused as Mulder drew a deep breath. "And thirdly the Consortium, for whom my boss works."
Jack nodded. "And why are they interested in us?"
Krycek shook his head. "They are interested in anything that affects Mulder," he said a little impatiently. "They don't know what you are, they just know that you have been in contact with Mulder."
"I see," Jack said patiently. "The Consortium, what exactly is it?"
"A group of self serving bastards," Mulder said impatiently, "with Spender one of the biggest and blackest of the lot."
Krycek glanced at him, a small grin flickering at the corners of his mouth. "He talks so fondly of you, Mulder. You'll break his heart."
Mulder gave him a disgusted look. "Cancerman hasn't got a heart," he said scornfully. He turned back to Jack. "They obviously intercepted my mail and wanted to find out for themselves what you, or your bosses, have obviously been hiding from them. I asked some good friends of mine to check you out and they came up blank. Now, they are good, very good, so your level of security must be impressive."
Jack grinned, but didn't respond to the implicit question. He turned back to Krycek. "What is your interest in Mr Mulder?" he asked.
Krycek gave him a long look. "Personal and professional. Probably the same way you're interested in Michael," he said.
"Damn you, Krycek," Mulder exploded again, stilling as he felt the metal of Krycek's gun caress his cheek.
"You have an interesting seduction method, Mr Krycek," Jack observed calmly. "However, since I need to know a great deal more about you, the Consortium and your boss, I think I should separate you from the excitable Agent Mulder." He dropped a kiss on Michael's face and seemed to flow into standing holding out his hand to Krycek. "Come, Mike's bedroom will give us some distance."
Krycek eyed his hand, before ignoring it and pushing himself up onto his feet, gun gripped in his hand. He leant forward, and brushed his lips against Mulder's cheek. "Wait for me, Mulder," he whispered huskily, winked and unhurriedly followed Jack into the other room.
Mulder closed his eyes took a deep breath, and opened them to find Michael looking at him sympathetically. Mulder shivered. "I can't be detached around him," he said tiredly. "He arouses so many conflicting emotions in me, I hate him for so much, yet…" he came to a stop, biting down on his lower lip.
Michael gave a low laugh. "Mulder, I'm not fit to sit in judgement on anyone," he said slowly.
Mulder looked at him quizzically. "Were you an item before he became what he is?"
Michael shook his head. "We were both in love with the same woman," he said wearily, smiling a little at Mulder's look of surprise. "Or I was certainly in love with her, what Jack thought he was doing is anyone's guess. No, we were best mates. Did a great deal together, but he was just my best friend. I had a laugh with him, saw him regularly and worked with him. That was his role in my life. I looked to women for sex and romance." He went silent.
"And now?" Mulder prompted.
Michael sighed. "I hate my job, not the people, but what we do… We're vampire exterminators, Mulder. I hate what vampires are, what they stand for, but daily I see or read in the domestic news, never mind foreign news, stark examples of man's inhumanity to man." He sighed. "My colleagues do not believe that vampires have emotions. They don't believe they can love and hate, I know different. They see them as ruthless exploiters of humanity, that I cannot deny, but at least they don't kill us just because we hold a different viewpoint from theirs. In fact, they seldom kill humans; just use them for food or labour." He closed his eyes. "I'm caught Mulder, I know about them, and therefore I'm watched. I can't live a normal life; I have to be careful about getting too close to people, and essentially I'm lonely. Jack exploited that, and I had no barriers against him." He looked up at Mulder. "I'm hooked now, I need him, and I'm slowly coming to terms with it."
"And ultimately?" Mulder asked quietly.
Michael shivered. "I try not to think that far ahead," he said equally quietly.
Mulder surprised himself by reaching out a hand to Michael. Michael grasped it firmly, giving a rueful grin as he did so. "I'm okay, Mulder," he said. "I've done my crying, my railing and my screaming. Life isn't necessarily fair I know that. I protect my colleagues by refusing to talk to Jack about any of that part of my life. He protects me similarly. I know I'm being used and I guess I'm being manipulated, by both sides, but some how I feel that something is about to change and that you are in some way pivotal to it." He shrugged his shoulders, gave Mulder's hand a firm squeeze, and sat back.
Mulder relaxed his hands and lay back in the sofa. "Do you know much about my work, Mike?"
Michael shook his head. "Only a little about the X-Files and your investigation into the paranormal," he said. "You mentioned aliens to Angie, but that was the first I knew about them." He looked across at Mulder and smiled slightly. "I'm afraid I'm a bit of a cynic. I've always assumed that people who go on about aliens and abductions are foolish attention seekers, and I've put it down to gullibility and a lack of common sense." He grinned, "I've always seen it as an American disease, you know, that assumption that a number of your compatriots have that everything and anything of importance happens in America."
"I'm hurt," Mulder said, grinning back, relieved that the highly charged atmosphere had relaxed slightly. "Are you accusing me of being gullible?"
Michael's grin beamed out at him. "Would I?"
Mulder laughed. "No one has ever accused Alex Krycek of gullibility. They'd be very brave people if they did, and if you ask him, he'll tell you he's seen aliens." His smile faded. "In fact I have never managed to work out who exactly he is working for, whatever he says. The Consortium is supposedly working with the aliens to prepare the world for an invasion they claim is inevitable. They claim to be working towards an alien/human hybrid that will be able to survive the invasion." He paused, contemplating what he had just said. "I can see the consortium seeing these vampires, or code V's as you refer to them, as also providing a resistance to the alien invasion."
"But at what cost?" Michael murmured.
Mulder nodded. "That is what concerns me. I have never found the Consortium to be very interested in the cost to others. What does intrigue me is why they know absolutely nothing about Code V's in my own country."
"Perhaps they have influence in your government?" Michael suggested.
"Perhaps," Mulder agreed. "And how about the alien agenda here?"
Michael shrugged. "I didn't know about vampires until I was dragged in to the squad kicking and screaming, Mulder. There may well be another 'secret' organisation similar to the Consortium here, but I know nothing about it, and I'd guess that Jack doesn't either. He's far too interested in your Krycek's information. I'd guess he's trying to decide whether Mr Krycek should be included in whatever they have planned for you." He looked up concerned as Mulder shivered. "I only mean that someone higher up than Jack probably wants to talk with you, Mulder, nothing else. They say they don't take anyone without their consent, although the manner in which they go about getting that consent seems to be very open to interpretation. They won't harm you, although they might scare you shitless. Jack used to scare me. It's the way they move so fast that is frightening, and the knowledge that they are deadly killers, should the need arise."
"I'm totally reassured now," Mulder with mild sarcasm.
"I'm so glad," Michael said easily. He stood, looking restless. "Do you fancy a drive round the sights? They have everything beautifully lit at nights, and even I get a kick out of looking them over at times."
"Do you think we ought to leave them talking?" Mulder asked, despite thinking it would do them good to get away from the unsettling Jack and the equally unsettling, but in a different way, Krycek.
"Change of plans. Mike," Jack's voice entered the conversation, and he had wrapped himself round Michael, nuzzling at his neck before Mulder could blink. "Mr Krycek has ordered a taxi to take him and Mr Mulder to their hotel room. I don't want to be distracted tonight, and I feel that Mr Krycek's and Mr Mulder's relationship is very volatile at present." He lifted laughing eyes in Mulder's direction. "My hearing is very good, Mulder."
A solid arm wrapped itself round Mulder's chest, and the all too familiar feel of cold metal caressed his cheek again. "There might be a lot of screaming, it being our first time and all," Krycek's voice caressed his ears, the huskiness doing terrible things to his hormones. "I'm for getting naked, sweaty and intimate as soon as possible, Mulder."
Mulder jumped as the hand with the gun dropped to his ass and squeezed. "Krycek," he growled as he was pushed towards the door. "Are you out of your tiny mind?"
Krycek nuzzled his neck. "Never felt more purposeful and in control, Mulder," came the cheerful reply as he escorted Mulder into the waiting Taxi. Mulder sat numbly, watching as a somewhat worried looking Michael came out with his suitcase, and wave a strained goodbye. Krycek sat close to him, the gun an ever-present reminder to behave, as they were taken and dropped off at the foot of an impressive looking building. Krycek paid the fare, pushed Mulder to pick up his suitcase, and taking his arm, walked him past the immense staircase and into the elevators. They were joined by an immaculately dressed couple and rode in silence. The couple got out a floor below theirs, and the elevator continued to the top. Krycek waved his gun, Mulder picked up his case, and went in the direction indicated. Krycek moved ahead, opening the door with an electronic door key, and had Mulder pinned to the bedroom wall before the door had closed.
"We're going to sort out our relationship once and for all, Mulder," Krycek said.
Any answer Mulder intended was drowned in a searing kiss that seemed to go on forever. In the middle of it, Mulder felt his highly built defences collapse. He knew he'd always desired Krycek, but the perceived betrayals, killings and lies had worked to build up an impenetrable wall of anger and hatred behind which he could hide his true feelings. Even now he was so conflicted he didn't know where to turn. This man had helped in the abduction of Scully, and killed his father. Scully might be back, but she was now infertile, and while his father had never been what he would call a loving or caring father, nor possibly even his real father, how could he want someone who had done that to him? As he dropped his suitcase, and began to respond, he realised his damn hormones couldn't care less what the man leaning on top of him had or hadn't done. They just wanted some action, and fast.
"You're so fucking sexy," Krycek whispered in his ear as he was walked backwards until he eventually bumped into something solid. Krycek gently pushed him until he lay sprawled in the middle of the large bed. Krycek knelt over him, his face intense and smug. "You want me, don't you, Fox?" he said huskily. "You can't deny it to yourself any longer, my sexy Agent Mulder." He ran his hand down Mulder's torso and pushed underneath Mulder's t-shirt, lowering his head to nip, suck and lick at Mulder's nipples.
Mulder groaned, finally giving up control to Krycek. He wasn't by inclination a passive man, but lust, desire and the continuing stirrings of guilt were shorting out his higher thought processes and he was a goner. He didn't argue as Krycek slowly undressed him, shivering uncontrollably as he was licked and kissed everywhere, his only response groans and moans that seemed to send Krycek into a greater frenzy of activity.
"Fox, my sweet, fuckable, sexy Fox," Krycek whispered. "You're too far gone to tell me not to call you that, aren't you? Too out of control to do anything but moan." He kissed up the inside of Mulder's thigh and breathed on his erect and bobbing penis, making Mulder groan even more. "I'm going to call you Fox in bed. Mulder's far too impersonal while Fox sums you up beautifully, wily, sleek, sly and beautiful." He licked down Mulder's penis, as if it were a Popsicle.
Mulder yowled in frustration, wondering how in god's name Krycek managed to be able to talk in the circumstances.
"Fox," Krycek whispered again, and, without warning, enveloped his complete length and began sucking.
Mulder groaned helplessly. He couldn't remember the last time anyone had done this for him and certainly not with the skill that Krycek was exhibiting. Too far gone to do anything but writhe and moan, he accepted the probing fingers without flinching, too interested in the sensation centred in his penis too think beyond the pleasure Krycek was giving him. When Krycek rubbed something that made him cry out again, he remembered previous fumblings in his youth that had never managed to make him feel anywhere near the pleasure this man was making him feel. Scrabbling his hands in the cotton sheets, conscious of the coldness of Krycek's artificial arm holding his pelvis firmly on the bed, his body a whirl of glorious sensation, Mulder gasped his first words for some minutes, "I'm coming," and promptly yelled his release as Krycek sucked him into oblivion.
As the world came back into focus, he watched as Krycek undressed himself, admiring the sleek body, the muscled torso and the sexy features as the man stripped himself with efficiency. He wondered if he would remove the arm, but Krycek kept it on, the figure of eight soft leather strapping striking a discordant, yet not unattractive, note on his glossy skin. He noticed that Mulder was watching him, and smiled moving to sit astride Mulder's thighs, rubbing his erect penis along Mulder's spent one.
"I want to fuck you, Fox," Krycek murmured, leaning his weight on his artificial arm and stroking his real hand down Mulder's face. "Do you have a problem with that?"
Mulder swallowed. "The only time I let someone try, it hurt," he whispered, mesmerised by Krycek's gaze, seeing all too clearly the possessive desire and need in their green depths. "I don't think I want to do this," he added, frightened by the fact that he was even contemplating letting Krycek fuck him. He closed his eyes trying to shut out the knowledge of what he was doing, and worse, who he was doing it with. He could hardly believe that he was apparently willing to trust the man sufficiently to allow the ultimate intimacy.
"I'll take very good care of you, Fox," Krycek assured him, continuing the gentle stroking. "I've already loosened you up and you're nice and relaxed after your orgasm." He lent forward and kissed Mulder sweetly. "You'll love it so much you'll be begging for me," he assured him.
Mulder blinked into the kiss, his body responding to the gentle caress with frightening enthusiasm. Bowing to the inevitable, he nodded his head, looking up into the bright, possessive eyes above him, and surrendered a little piece of his soul to the smiling, sexy devil who seemingly had so much power over him.
Krycek smiled, and began kissing him again. Mulder tentatively put his arms around him and kissed back, deciding that he found Krycek's purring and gasps incredibly sexy. As they kissed, Krycek rubbed against him, his warm hand slipping down his body. He fiddled with something nearby returning slick, cold fingers to play at Mulder's anus. Mulder shivered, as much from the cold as the anticipation, as Krycek skilfully prepared him. As he kissed and petted the flesh above him, Mulder wondered how he had managed to deny his attraction to this man for so long, and how he was going to face the knowledge of what he was willingly allowing Krycek to do to him, in the cold light of the morning. As Krycek hit his hot spot again, he stopped thinking, reacting instinctively as Krycek encouraged him to roll onto his front.
"I want to see your face, Fox," Krycek murmured, "but since this is almost a first time for you, it will be gentler on your knees."
Mulder took his weight on his hands and knees, groaning as the stroking inside him built up into a sharp stab of intense pleasure. He heard Krycek rip a condom packet open and almost offered to put the thing on him. Krycek must have had the same thought because he leaned into Mulder's ear and whispered. "Next time I want to watch you put it on me, nice and slowly." He laughed as Mulder shivered. "Relax, Fox," he murmured, "You'll feel a little pain and then the pleasure will make it all seem worthwhile."
How do you know? thought Mulder, do you let someone do this to you? Do you give up control to another, Alex Krycek? but he nodded his head, and took a deep breath. The pain of the breaching of his muscles was intense and he felt like screaming abuse at Krycek for misleading him, but he hung on, breathing rapidly and noisily until the pain diminished slightly, and Krycek's greased and latex covered penis slid into him. The sensation of fullness was startling and, when Krycek pulled back slightly and pushed back in, he groaned. Krycek seemed to take this as encouragement, repeating the movement again and again, pushing in deeper each time and hitting his hot spot. Mulder writhed and pushed back, desperate for more. He collapsed onto his elbows, allowing Krycek to pull his ass up and penetrate deeper. Krycek was babbling words of encouragement and desire, repeating his name again and again as he sank deeper and deeper into Mulder's flesh. One deep thrust later Krycek stilled before shouting, "Fox," and collapsing on top of him. Mulder gasped and twitched, still wanting to feel that pounding, hooked up in the pleasure of the sensations, reluctant to accept that it had come to an end.
Slowly Krycek recovered, pulled carefully out of Mulder and threw the condom on the floor. He wrapped both arms round Mulder's waist and kissed him until they were both so short of breath that they collapsed in a satiated heap of limbs on the bed.
"I want to do that again," Mulder gasped without thinking.
"We will," Krycek said sleepily. "As many times as I can manage, sweet Fox." He slid to the end of the bed and sat on the edge, hooking the shoulder harness over his head and slowly pulling off his artificial arm. As he pulled the sock shaped cloth off the end of his stump, he looked quickly at Mulder. Mulder stared, fascinated, as the stump was revealed, surprised by a deep regret that the glorious beauty of the man had been disfigured. Leaning forward he ran his finger inquisitively up the stump to the shoulder, watching Krycek's face as he did so. He could feel Krycek relax as he did, and was surprised when Krycek's right hand grabbed at his chin and the man again took control. He was kissed ruthlessly before being pushed back into the bed.
"Michael is picking you up later in the morning, and I want to try out the spa bath with you before we leave, so let's get to sleep." Krycek said.
Mulder was too tired to object to anything, and snuggling into a warm embrace, fell into dreamless sleep.
He wasn't sure how he got through the morning. He woke to find that Krycek had filled the bathtub, and was pushed into it before he had much time to contemplate what he wanted to do or say. He lay back in the soapy depths and viewed Krycek's face through the steam and suds, at a loss for anything to say that wouldn't sound totally stupid. Krycek was content to do the same, so in the end they lay silently soaking up the atmosphere, and just as silently got out, dried and dressed.
Krycek broke the silence as he slipped his gun in his jacket, while Mulder watched, wondering for the first time how he'd managed to obtain a gun in London, because there was no way he would have been able to bring it over from home.
"I'll see you tonight, Mulder," he said, coming over to stand in front of him. He laid his hand on Mulder's cheek. "Don't beat yourself up about this," he said. "It was inevitable from the first time we met."
Mulder pulled away shaking his head, "Nothing is inevitable, Krycek," he said slowly.
Krycek moved to the door. "Fate is inevitable, Mulder." He turned back to look at him, nodded silently, and disappeared.
Mulder sat on the edge of the bed, and stared unmoving at the door, until a knock disturbed him. He rose, opening the door to Michael.
Michael looked at him solemnly. "Are you okay?" he asked.
Mulder opened his mouth to reply in the positive before shutting it again, and moving over towards the window. He looked down into the street below, watching two double decker buses as they played cat and mouse along the bus lane. "Not really," he said quietly. "But I'm working on it."
Michael said nothing and Mulder was grateful for his quiet acceptance. "What next?" he asked.
Michael shrugged his shoulders. "I'm playing hooky, Mulder. I know you're here unofficially, and to be absolutely honest I'm not so sure that we're going to gain anything from this, but as I'm your official contact, I decided that escorting you round the sights for the day could be construed as liaison."
Mulder smiled. "And I'm unlikely to be contacted until the sun goes down."
"That too," Michael agreed. "We'll go back to mine for dusk, and then I guess we sit and wait."
"We get to play regular tourists in the mean time?" Mulder asked.
Mulder grinned. "I've always wanted to do Madame Tussauds," he offered.
Michael groaned. "Next you'll be asking for the full London Experience," he grumbled. He gave a long-suffering sigh and turned into the corridor. "You get to pay for the food," he muttered, "and I'm warning you it's day light robbery. So don't expect me to put it on my expense sheet."
Mulder laughed, his worries and doubts lifting for the first time that morning.
They ended the day tired, but happy. Even Michael's air of ineffable sadness seemed to have lessened, and again Mulder wondered just how old the man was. Relaxing in the same sofa as the night before, drinking a very welcome can of cool lager, Mulder thought about Michael's relationship with the perturbing Jack, and recalling some verses of a half forgotten song murmured, "In the dark of moon, there is no light... I'm free. I have no love to blind my eyes for me. Dark of moon's the time for flying; far below the world is lying unaware… And my soul is crying...Vampire. Your life's too short-your love is gone too soon. Come with me, we'll fly the dark of moon. Life's not life if you must lose it;
Death's not death if you refuse it. So who could blame you, if you chose. The vampire. Forever young..." He trailed off turning towards Michael who lay with his eyes closed, utterly still.
There was silence for a time until Michael murmured. "That's what he wanted, to be forever young, that and to have unlimited money and power. I don't think he ever thought beyond that." He opened his eyes. "Sometimes I can understand the allure. I watch him and he is so beautiful, with power and speed beyond human comprehension. At other times I feel fear and horror, especially when he comes to me with the scent of blood on his lips."
Slow hand clapping made both men turn to see Jack and Krycek leaning against the door, bright merriment in both their eyes. Mulder sat up, feeling that while Jack might be the most dangerous, Krycek could give him a run for his money any day.
"Very beautiful, Mulder," Jack said, moving to stand beside him. "You are a fascinating man, I can understand Krycek's interest in you." He smiled into Mulder's troubled face. "My boss wants to meet with you tonight. He has also agreed to allow Krycek to attend." He glanced at Krycek, who had remained by the door, watching them all with an amused expression on his face. "I want a few minutes with Mike, can you get yourself and Mulder in the car?"
Krycek nodded, moving forward to pull a rather bewildered Mulder up from the sofa. He turned to Mike, who gave him a strained smile, and followed Krycek out into a large limousine. As he sat back he realised that the windows were opaque. Krycek glanced at the windows, and eyed the interior with interest before turning his bright gaze on Mulder. Mulder sat back in the seat, and returned the gaze with attitude.
"Will you quote poems and songs for me?" Krycek asked, without any apparent derision in his voice."
Mulder shivered, looking at the black clad man with suspicion. "I don't remember you ever showing any interest in poetry, Krycek," he said.
Krycek laughed. "It's you I'm interested in, Mulder. Don't you get it, anything you do excites me, you could read me the phonebook, and because it was you reading it to me, I'd be happy."
Mulder took a deep breath and shook his head.
"Don't you believe me?" Krycek asked, slipping from the seat to sit next to Mulder. "How can I convince you that I desire you, want you, Mulder? That despite what you have seen, all my efforts have been directed towards keeping you safe and very much alive?" He leaned forward and stroked his fingers down Mulder's face, his eyes bright and open. "I've kept away from you for years because of the risks to us both, and the distrust and hatred you've shown me at every opportunity. But lately I've seen your barriers go down, and I know that together we could do great things, Mulder."
Mulder clenched his fists and closed his eyes. "I don't trust you, Krycek," he said slowly. "I can't afford to trust you, the last time I did you betrayed me and Scully." He looked at him fiercely. "I liked you, and even then I was aware of an undercurrent of attraction between us, but you were working for my worst enemy even as you spoke words of friendship and trust."
Krycek shook his head. "Everything I have done was to protect you, Mulder. Everything! Don't you understand what could have happened to you if someone less motivated to protect you had been sent to watch over you?"
Mulder glared at him. "Scully would still be fertile, and my father would be alive," he said fiercely.
Krycek shook his head. "Mulder, Scully would be dead, and the man you call your father would still be dead, and more than likely your mother. And if you weren't dead, you'd probably be wishing yourself dead. The Consortium has some very interesting uses they put their 'failures' to, and with your brains, parentage, and let's face it, good looks you would be much sought after."
Mulder stared at him. "I don't really want to know what you're talking about, do I?" he finally said.
Krycek smiled grimly. "No, Mulder, you don't. At the moment the Consortium is giving you a certain amount of free reign. They keep you from getting too close to the truth, but find it useful for you to uncover certain things. You are considered a brilliant loose canon, dangerous, but important to the cause. And even I can't quite work out why entirely."
Mulder continued to stare at him in horrified fascination, aware of the car beginning to move, but too wrapped up in Krycek's information to care. "Who are you really working for, Krycek?" he asked slowly.
Krycek smiled. "I've told you, Mulder. Spender, the Consortium, and myself."
"And seducing me, who was that done for?" Mulder said steadily.
"Myself," Krycek answered, staring into Mulder's eyes. "For me, Mulder, and for you. Because we need each other."
"I don't need you!" Mulder said indignantly.
Krycek leaned forward and placed his finger on Mulder's lips. "Yes you do, Mulder," he said quietly. "You blaze a trail of righteous indignation though the lies and half truths of your enemies, but sometimes subtle undetected espionage does more harm that a direct full frontal assault."
Mulder narrowed his eyes, waiting for Krycek to explain himself, conscious of the finger on his lips and the body pressed closed to his.
"I believe in you, Mulder. I've seen enough to want to stop them, and now I think it might be possible. I want us to help each other." He held Mulder's chin and kissed him on the lips. "Let me help you," he whispered.
Mulder sighed. "If I find you've done this to have a good laugh at my expense with your Consortium buddies I'll kill you myself, Krycek," he threatened.
Krycek shook his head, his face solemn. "I want you, Mulder, in my bed, in partnership, and maybe one day we might manage in friendship. This is my agenda, not theirs, and certainly not Spender's. If anything he considers you his own property."
Mulder shivered. "That man disturbs me," he admitted.
Krycek gazed at him for a second; he shook his head, then licked his way across Mulder's neck. "Ever made out in a car?" he murmured.
Mulder shivered. "No, and I'm not starting now," he said severely trying to clamp down on his automatic reaction to Krycek.
Krycek laughed, tucking his arm round Mulder's waist and pulling him close. "What can you offer instead?" he enquired, a mischievous smile on his lips.
Mulder took a deep breath and considered Krycek's smiling countenance. He thought back to Krycek's request for poetry, and a small smile came to his face. He cleared his throat and began, "Some thirty inches from my nose the frontier of my person goes, and all the untilled air between is private pagus or demesne. Stranger, unless with bedroom eyes I beckon you to fraternize, beware of rudely crossing it: I have no gun, but I can spit." He stopped, and looked sideways at Krycek.
Krycek stared back at him, his face twitching, until slowly a broad smile crossed his face, and he began to laugh.
Tyrell House, Oxfordshire, England
Jack's boss was seriously unsettling, Mulder thought as he listened to the cultured English voice introducing himself, telling them, with a smile, to call him Mr Lestat. He had no idea of his age, but he felt that he was in the presence of someone considerably older than he looked. He glanced at Krycek who was listening to the man with serious interest. Slightly distracted, Mulder watched the handsome face for a few seconds and wondered what he was going to do about him when he got back home. Alex Krycek had a knack of worming himself into his thoughts and he knew he'd have to work hard to detach himself.
He returned his attention to the speaker and felt a faint spark of irritation as the dark eyes turned towards him and briefly showed their amusement. He appeared to be provoking that reaction in far too many people lately. Stirring restlessly in his chair he asked, "Why exactly did you want me to come over here, and why me specifically?"
The man smiled. "Your name came up continuously as we searched for someone with influence, credibility and an open mind," he suggested.
Mulder looked at him impassively. "I don't think so," he said mildly.
Mr Lestat's smile deepened. "I didn't say within the FBI, Agent Mulder, but outside of it you'd be surprised at just how many people are aware of you within conspiracy and intelligence circles."
Mulder took a deep breath, not certain that he found the information at all comforting. "So why did you want me?" he repeated, determined not to allow the 'man' to unsettle him.
"I was surprised that someone with your knowledge was not aware of us," Lestat answered smoothly. "I was also surprised to find just how seriously aliens are taken by your government and yourself." He turned towards Krycek. "Mr Krycek's involvement is a decided bonus." He smiled "That was another fact about you that appears to be missing from our intelligence files, and I must admit that I found the information that I had on you fascinating enough that I wanted to meet you face to face." He looked mildly apologetic for a second. "I apologise for the secrecy, Agent Mulder, but I am well aware that Michael has been asked to keep his colleagues informed about your 'adventure'."
Mulder frowned. "Mike's not stupid, he has as much faith as I have that you'll tell me anything of any value. Telling him your supposed name will be sufficient indicator don't you think?"
Lestat shook his head in mock regret. "I'm sorry that you have so little faith in us, Agent Mulder."
Mulder sat up in his chair. "Mr Lestat, you have been described to me as the single biggest threat to mankind. Krycek and I may disagree, but I understand the sentiment. Accepting that, how am I to believe that anything you tell me is going to help a group of people whose only purpose is to destroy your kind? Please, I may have an open mind, but I'm not naive."
Lestat laughed. "Acknowledged, Agent Mulder." He turned to Krycek who had sat quietly throughout the conversation. "Will you both tell me about this Consortium and the aliens you both seek?
"Will you tell me anything useful about vampires?" Mulder shot back.
"Would you like to find out first hand, Agent Mulder?" Lestat asked, his eyes glinting. "Would you like to know what it is like to be dead yet alive? To not be reflected in mirrors or recorded by machine? To have superhuman strength, vision and hearing? To see in the dark as well as you used to see in the day? To do everything better and for longer than you could as a human? To taste hot blood on your lips? To know that you can live for ever?"
Mulder shuddered, "No," he said firmly. "I want none of that, Mr Lestat."
Lestat regarded him curiously for a second before turning to Krycek. "How about you, Mr Krycek?"
Krycek was silent for a while, his expression pensive. "It has its appeal," he said slowly. "You don't mention the fact that you can't go out during the day though. To my mind that puts a dampener on everything."
Lestat relaxed back in his chair, and Mulder drew a deep breath. "True, Mr Krycek, it does have some limitations, but we are working on them." He smiled at them, "Can I get you refreshments? I want to know everything you can tell me so we might be some time."
Needing a break from the man, Mulder nodded his head. Krycek glanced at him and nodded slowly. Lestat moved towards a large globe and slowly opened the top to reveal a store of drinks inside. He gestured at the bottles. "This is one of the few things I do miss, I must admit, but I do enjoy watching others imbibe, so please, what is your poison?"
He smiled and Mulder felt a cold finger of fear running down his spine. He knew this man was a vampire; he had been led to believe that this man was more than likely the controlling power for the whole organisation. He had been told that the vampires were ruthless and powerful, yet here he and Krycek sat; ready to drink in the presence of this being, and in reality completely at his mercy. He shivered, wondering how Michael managed to live with what he was doing, and how much Jack was subtly influencing and shaping his opinions and attitudes. He shivered again, glancing at Krycek. Krycek looked back at him and, for an instant, Mulder saw concern in the green eyes, and then the moment had gone. He turned back to their host and shook his head. "No alcohol thank you," he said politely. " A coffee would go down well though."
Krycek nodded. "We need clear heads, Mr Lestat."
Lestat smiled, replacing the lid slowly. He moved back to his chair and sat back, linking his hands together. "Please do start," he commanded, apparently deciding to ignore Mulder's request for coffee.
Krycek looked at Mulder, took a deep breath, and began.
The ride back was in silence, neither man wanting to say much in front of any witness. They were returned to their hotel, a fact Mulder noticed with some concern, and decanted onto the street. Mulder remained silent as they rode up the elevator to their room. Restless, he walked across to the window and looked out into the London night.
Krycek sighed, removing his jacket and settling himself on the bed, his eyes distant. Mulder turned to watch him, forgetting his worries in the quiet pleasure of watching Krycek's pensive face, until the man turned towards him and he was caught in the bright needing gleam of the other's gaze.
"Come to bed, Mulder," Krycek asked, patting the space next to him. "I need to think and sleep, and I'll do both of those better in your company."
Mulder moved away from the window without thinking and had shrugged off his own jacket before he gave thought to the realisation that he too sought the comfort of touch from the other man. He stilled as he pulled his t-shirt over his head, and then decided he was too weary to care. Slowly he undressed, conscious of Krycek doing the same, and slipped into bed. Krycek slid in after him and they lay silently for a few moments.
"I wonder if we've done the right thing," Mulder said slowly.
Krycek turned to him. "I told him nothing that he couldn't have found out with some clever searching, and you told him nothing that could be classified as a secret, Mulder," he said slowly.
Mulder thought through their conversation and sighed. Krycek was right. Krycek had, in reality, told Lestat very little. Certainly everything he mentioned Mulder already knew and he was well aware that his knowledge of the Consortium was sadly lacking. "You told me nothing new," he muttered.
Krycek turned to face him, reaching out his arm to brush the hair away from Mulder's forehead. "I protect you, Mulder," he said quietly. "I know you burn to know, but trust me on this. Some things you need to be prepared for."
Mulder turned to face him, looking at him silently for a few moments before sighing and closing his eyes. "I hate being told what's best for me," he grumbled.
Krycek gave a low laugh. "I know that," he said amusement evident in his voice despite the tiredness. "Stop thinking, Mulder, and let's get some sleep."
He pulled Mulder towards him and settled him against him. Needing the comfort, Mulder let him, sinking into unconsciousness with far greater ease than he could have expected.
He woke slowly, becoming conscious of a pair of green eyes watching him intently. Blinking, he recalled the events of the night, wondering what shocked him the most, the vampires or the fact that he was in bed with Alec Krycek.
"Did you know that your eyes change colour?" Krycek asked him, reaching out his hand to stroke down Mulder's face. "You are a very attractive man, Fox, you must be aware of that."
Mulder shrugged. "I don't get off looking at myself in the mirror," he said lightly, resisting an urge to rub his face into Krycek's hand. "And stop calling me Fox."
"It's your name," Krycek answered, absently trailing a finger along Mulder's lips. "A name you could have changed any time, but you chose not to." He propped himself up on his elbow and eyed Mulder intently. "I think you try to stop people getting too close to you by refusing to allow them the intimacy of using your first name. I think you masturbate to videos and get off on phone sex because it's easier and simpler than getting involved in a relationship. Well you are in a relationship, Fox Mulder, because you and I are lovers, and nothing you can say can deny that. So I will call you by your sexy and so descriptive first name, Fox."
Mulder swallowed, "One fuck doesn't make a relationship, Krycek," he said shortly.
Krycek laughed, pushing himself up and sitting on the side of the bed. "I shall resist the easy answer to that, Mulder and just say that I've got you, and I'm not letting you get away." He stood and reached for his briefs, pulling them up with unconscious ease despite his missing arm. "Are you staying in England for a few days or going back home?"
Mulder eyed him thoughtfully for a few seconds then contemplated his answer carefully. "I was going to stay as I haven't been back to England for some time, but I don't feel comfortable here now. I'd spend some time with Mike, because he's good company, but I don't want to deal with Jack." He shook his head. "I wish I could get Mike away from Jack."
Krycek sat back down on the bed next to Mulder. "Mike's destiny has already been decided, Mulder, and there's nothing you can do to alter it." He looked serious. "Don't interfere, Mulder, I hate to say this, but we're up against something too big here."
Mulder shivered. "I know," he contemplated Krycek silently for a second before touching his stump gently. "Tell me about this," he asked, looking into Krycek's face.
Krycek locked gazes with him, his expression challenging. "Where do you want me to start?"
Mulder sighed. "I know when, because I only just avoided the same fate myself. How have you coped and what did you mean about your prosthesis?"
Krycek looked down at the stump and grimaced. "I cope because I have to, Mulder, and because I worked hard to compensate. I hate the disfigurement, but I've learnt to live with it and not let it get to me." He lifted the remains of his arm. "I had surgery to build up the stump and reshape it for a better fit so it doesn't look as bad as it used to."
"And the prosthesis?"
Krycek nodded towards the table. "The best money can buy. Lightweight, and fairly comfortable." He lifted his stump again. "Got myself micro chipped more or less. You can see it under the skin here. I kind of plug myself in and control the arm more or less from my shoulder and via my brain." He gave a brief smile. "I don't pretend to understand it, but all I know is that it's improved my life and made me almost two handed again."
Mulder nodded slowly. "I'm sorry it happened to you, Krycek," he said hesitantly, but sincerely.
Krycek leant forward and kissed Mulder's forehead. "So am I, Mulder," he murmured, "so am I. There are many things I regret not being able to do and one of them is to hold you in my arms."
Mulder said nothing, but he lowered his eyes from Krycek's piercing gaze, unsettled by the lust and raw need he saw there. Krycek touched him gently, stood up from the bed and vanished into the bathroom. He heard the shower, and lay back in bed thinking over the past few days. Nothing had turned out as he expected and he had a sickening feeling that he had been used, but for what purpose he was still very unsure. He sighed, turning restlessly onto his side and staring at the wall. He'd known that whoever wanted him had to have some specific agenda, but he hadn't got any hint at all. He certainly had absolutely nothing to tell Michael or his colleagues, other than Mr 'Lestat' had a weird, and somewhat disturbing, sense of humour.
The shower stopped, and Mulder waited for Krycek to emerge deciding that he needed to get up and get going. He pushed back the covers, and stretched, rotating his head slowly. He yawned, stretching yet again, and was about to stand when Krycek wandered back into the room, a towel wrapped round his waist, scrubbing at his hair with another. He saw Mulder and nodded. Mulder watched fascinated as he placed the sock over his stump, picked up the prosthesis and placed it carefully on his stump before shrugging his right arm into the leather strapping. He reached under his arm, and fiddled with something before clicking the elbow of the prosthesis. Apparently happy, he pulled a t-shirt over his head, stepped into briefs and jeans, pulled a leather jacket on, and moved to the mirror to comb his hair.
Their eyes met in the mirror, and Mulder flushed, well aware that he had sat and watched Krycek dress. Krycek said nothing, smoothing his hair into place, but as Mulder moved to stand, Krycek turned and walked to the bed and sat next to him.
"I'm going back home this afternoon, Mulder," he said.
Krycek looked at him closely. "Will you spit at me if I turn up at your apartment?" he enquired.
Mulder flushed again, but shook his head.
Krycek nodded. "Good," he said slowly. He leaned forward and kissed Mulder's lips, "I'll be there, Mulder. Count on it."
Mulder nodded again.
Krycek looked at him, smiled faintly, kissed him again and stood up from the bed. He picked up a small leather briefcase, glanced round the room, and headed for the door. Hesitating he turned round and looked at Mulder again. "Till then, Mulder," he said.
"Till then," Mulder repeated, and watched, as with a wave of his good hand, Krycek vanished. He touched his lips with his fingers and wondered when he'd stopped hating Krycek and began wanting him. Unable and unwilling to consider the question too much, he got up and headed for the shower, trying to decide what he was going to do. As he was dressing the room phone rang. He answered it, pulling up his jeans at the same time, momentarily wondering how Krycek managed to dress with such apparent ease. He listened as he continued to dress before agreeing to meet Michael in the hotel reception in half an hour, replaced the phone and headed downstairs for breakfast.
The journey to Michael's HQ was quiet. They talked a little about the weather, very British Mulder thought with a small grin, until Mulder remembered what had been bothering him. "How would Krycek obtain a hand gun in London?" he asked.
Michael glanced at him for a second before returning his gaze to the busy road. "With the right contacts you can buy anything, but I must admit I was surprised that he was armed."
He glanced a Mulder again. "I suppose in the FBI you have a gun on you all the time?"
Mulder nodded. "So do you."
Michael grimaced. "I hate it. I learned to handle small arms during my training, and Vaughan keeps me practising, but I shot a human in error once, and I've had difficulty coming to terms with that."
Mulder looked at him questioningly.
Michael gave a small smile. "He survived, and Vaughan put that down to my crap shooting, but I thought I was out of the squad, and couldn't work out whether I was relieved or horrified." He indicated left and turned into a road Mulder recognised. "Where is Krycek, I thought he might come with you?"
Mulder shook his head. "He wouldn't want anyone official taking notice of him, and I'd prefer that you kept his involvement quiet please, Mike."
Michael hunted for a parking space and was involved for a time parking. He turned off the ignition and turned to Mulder. "I'll keep it quiet if that's what you want," he assured Mulder. "Come on, Angie's expecting us, so we'll go straight there. Then you need to report to everyone."
Mulder followed him into the brightly lit building and found himself in a clinically white laboratory. Angie Marsh nodded to him and waved at a piece of furniture that looked a little like a dentist's chair. Mulder sat himself down and examined the room with curiosity. Angela Marsh had a great deal of expensive looking equipment in her lab. He watched as she moved a large magnifying glass and bulb towards him, blinking as the blue of the UV light lit up his face.
"Please relax in the chair, Agent Mulder," she said coolly. "I want to check your neck."
Mulder raised his eyebrows, but said nothing as she leaned towards him and viewed his neck with clinical detachment. After a few minutes she stood back, turning off the light. "You're clean," she said, turning away to write something on her pad.
Mulder sat up and left the chair. "What would you have done if they'd bitten me?" he asked curiously.
"Use a laser on the area. It burns the skin, but kills off the infection." She pulled the neckline of her sweater away. "It leaves a small mark, but does fade. Mine's over six years old now."
Mulder nodded, feeling the grief behind the words. "Thank you," he said formally, and turned to Michael.
They walked to the same room he had first been introduced in a few days previously, and
he was again left alone while Michael collected his teammates. When they were all assembled, Mulder gave his account of the meeting.
Vaughan gave a small bark of laughter at 'Lestat's' name. "I told you it was a waste of time," he said.
Pearse leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands together. The movement reminded Mulder of Lestat for a moment, and he tried to hide a brief shudder at the memory.
"I agree we have learned nothing," Pearse said slowly. "Somehow I think that Agent Mulder might discover more of the reason for his involvement when he returns home." He looked at Mulder. "Will you keep us informed of anything unusual?"
Mulder smiled grimly. "It's my job to investigate the unusual, but yes, I'll keep you informed about anything that may interest you via Mike."
Pearse nodded, looking round the group. "Does anyone want to ask Agent Mulder anything more?"
Angie and Vaughan shook their heads. Pearse nodded, stood up from his chair and held out his hand to Mulder.
Mulder stood and shook it, doing the same to Angie and Vaughan before leaving the building with Michael. They got back in the car, and Michael turned to him. "What are your plans for today?" he asked.
Mulder leaned back in the car seat. "I'm going to try and book a return flight for tomorrow, Mike. I was going to stay around and tour a little, and you're good company so I would have been happy to spend some time with you, but I think I should be getting home now."
Mulder glanced at him. "Mike, how do you stand it?"
Michael looked down at the floor. "The job or Jack?" he asked quietly.
Mulder sighed. "Both I think, but Jack in particular. I can see the appeal in some ways, but Mike, Lestat frightened me, and I don't scare that easily."
Michael nodded. "Jack was my best mate, Mulder, and in some ways he's not too different." He sighed, beating a moody tattoo on the steering wheel. "I don't know," he finally admitted. "Sometimes I feel like running away from it all, but what would that achieve?"
"You could come to America," Mulder offered.
Michael smiled. "I could but I won't, Mulder, but thanks for asking." He turned the ignition. "Where can I drop you? I've got to work, but I should be free this evening if you want to go out for a meal."
Mulder nodded. "Drop me at the nearest tube station, Mike, and yes to this evening."
Michael smiled, and started the car.
Mulder flicked the light on, dropped his keys on the coffee table and sank down into his couch. He pulled the phone towards him, and dialled Scully's number. She answered in two rings. "I'm back," he said cheerfully. He listened to her talk while toeing off his shoes. "No, I'm not going in for a few days. I'm on vacation remember." He laughed at her response. "Well if Skinner will have my hide, perhaps I better lay low, kick back, and check out the baseball game." He listened intently for a few seconds. "No, I'm fine, Scully. I'll tell you all about it when I get back to work. You enjoy yourself in your lab." He grinned again at her sarcastic rejoin and ended the call.
He wandered round his apartment before heading for the bathroom and a long shower. Refreshed, he grabbed a beer, ordered a pizza, collected his mail and relaxed back into his couch. Mail read and considered, he switched on the TV and settled back to wait for his food. About ten minutes later the doorbell rang. He grabbed his wallet, and opened the door onto the smiling face of Krycek carrying two pizzas.
Mulder sighed, opened the door and waved Krycek through. "Beers in the fridge," he mumbled, while grabbing some napkins and settling back in front of the TV, determined not to think about anything more than his food.
Krycek returned with his can, sat down next to him, and opened the nearest of the cartons. He grabbed a slice and ate it with apparent enthusiasm. Mulder watched him for a second before returning his attention to his own hunger. They ate steadily for a time, the muted murmurings of the TV the only sounds bar their chewing, until both pizzas were finished.
Krycek wiped his mouth, and glanced over to Mulder. "Did you find out anything else?" he asked.
Mulder shook his head. "I spent another evening with Mike and Jack fortunately kept away from us. Mike said he never knows when he's going to turn up, he just does." He took a gulp of his beer. "You were right about Mike. He can see where his life is going, but he's too caught up in Jack to do anything about it." He looked at his empty can, and shrugged.
Krycek nodded. "What are you telling Skinner?"
Mulder shrugged again. "I was supposed to be on vacation. Scully's already giving me hell, but I told her I'll tell her all about it when I go back. I'm not too sure that I want Skinner to know that I was used and manipulated for some unknown reason. Doesn't exactly put me in a good light does it?"
Krycek laughed. "And you care why precisely, Mulder?"
Mulder smiled a little. "You have a point," he acceded, looking up at Krycek. "How did you know I was back?"
"I've been expecting you so I've kept an eye on the place," Krycek said easily.
Mulder frowned. "How exactly have you kept an eye on it?"
Krycek grinned. "Tapped your phone." He raised his hand in mock surrender as Mulder glared at him. "I like to keep an eye on you, Mulder, I told you that in London."
"How long have you been monitoring my calls?" Mulder asked angrily. "And where does the information go exactly?"
Krycek tapped his head. "In here mostly, but some snippets reach the Consortium just to keep them happy." He sighed at Mulder's furious expression. "Mulder, I told you before, the men in the Consortium consider you both an asset and a loose canon. I'm just making sure that they see the asset, and I like to keep Spender informed so he doesn't try to get up close and personal with you."
Mulder looked at him for moment, and dropped his gaze. Krycek had said very much the same thing before, and despite himself he was beginning to believe the man. Looked at in Krycek's own peculiar way, everything he had done could be seen as protecting him. He just wished that Krycek didn't seem to feel that others were expendable in his drive to protect at all costs. He focused in on the part he felt most uncomfortable about. "Why is Spender so concerned about me?"
Krycek shrugged. "Surely you've heard the rumours that you are his son?"
Mulder shuddered. "I don't believe them," he growled. "That man just likes screwing with my head."
Krycek nodded. "Among other things," he agreed.
Mulder shivered, and changed the subject. "What do you want, Krycek?" he asked, knowing that he knew the answer, but deciding that he wanted it spelt out.
"You," Krycek said, moving closer to Mulder, and reaching out his real hand to trace along Mulder's lips. "I told you, I want to make love to you, I want to work with you, and I want to be friends with you."
Mulder shivered again. "How can we work together?" he asked.
"I can put you in contact with some people who are working together to oppose the Consortium. They call themselves the resistance, and it would be fair to say that they don't entirely trust me, but they would really appreciate having you on board." Krycek answered.
Mulder shifted on the couch, trying to give himself a little space from Krycek. "Why aren't they contacting me themselves?" he asked.
"They are," Krycek said quietly. "I may not be entirely in, but they know I have a connection with you, and they want to meet up with the both of us." He smiled. "I guess it's some kind of test. If I can make the suspicious and paranoid Fox Mulder trust me enough to accompany me, then I can't be entirely bad."
Mulder looked at him thoughtfully for a second, "Are you for real, Krycek?"
Krycek laughed. "I bet them you'd say that."
Mulder grimaced, "Am I that predictable?" he asked wryly.
Krycek shook his head, inching closer. "No, Mulder, and that's one of the things I find so intriguing about you." He reached out and grasped Mulder's face, Mulder let him, turning to look into his eyes. "Do you want this?" he asked. "Do you feel the same attraction?"
Mulder swallowed. "I think you're a very dangerous and sexy man, Alex Krycek, but I also wonder exactly what your agenda is."
Krycek laughed. "Getting you naked and sweaty," he said huskily, pulling Mulder down for a passionate kiss.
Mulder's neurones waved white flags as his hormones kicked in and he reached for Krycek, determined to give as good as he was getting. They tussled for dominance as Mulder relaxed and stopped denying that he wanted this man. Krycek pushed at him to lie down, and he went, not caring who was on top or in control, just enjoying the moment. He could feel the cool of Krycek's prosthesis against him as Krycek slid his hands between his t-shirt and gently caressed his stomach. Mulder tugged at Krycek's top running his hands up and down the silky skin. Krycek broke the kiss, dipping his head lower, and cool air followed by the rasping sensation of a wet tongue on his nipples made Mulder groan in abandonment. Krycek sucked, licked and nipped until Mulder was writhing in frustration. His hand crept down to his fly to relieve his erection only to be pushed out of the way as Krycek undid his pants and pulled them away from his hips. His shorts followed and, as Krycek slipped to his knees onto the floor, Mulder waited in tense expectation for a repeat of blowjob from the hotel.
"Relax," Krycek whispered before swallowing Mulder whole.
"Relax?" Mulder muttered hazily, trying desperately not to push down Krycek's throat. He felt the weight and solidness of the prosthesis settle over his hips as Krycek's real hand dived down to play with his balls and tease his opening. Wondering momentarily how good it would have been with Krycek when he had two flesh arms, considering how damn good he was with just one, Mulder went with the flow and gave himself up to the moment. Minutes later, wrung out, on a high and buzzing, he lay back petting the shiny hair beneath him.
Krycek looked up and grinned, licking his lips in a manner that had Mulder hardening again. "I could get used to that, Fox," he said.
"So could I," Mulder murmured, "but I'm not too sure the couch could take it too often."
Krycek laughed, moving from the floor. He slipped his jeans down him, and kicked off his boots, pushing Mulder's legs aside and sitting back in the couch. Catching Mulder's hand he placed it on his erect penis. "How about sitting on this?" he asked, his eyes bright and wide with desire.
Mulder gulped, "Wouldn't you rather have a blowjob?" he asked nervously.
Krycek smiled, stroking Mulder's face. "Whatever you want, Fox," he said quietly.
Mulder pulled himself up staring into Krycek's eyes. The warmth, care and concern he saw along side the desire undid him, and he took a deep quavering breath. "Do you have any lube and condoms?" he asked, trying to keep his voice level.
Krycek nodded, reaching down to his jeans, and pulling a packet out of his pocket. "I mean it, Fox," he said gently. "Whatever you want."
Mulder looked him in the eye. "I want to make it good for you, Alex," he said, and was rewarded by a widening of Krycek's eyes, and a look of shocked pleasure on his face. He reached for the lube and pulled Krycek's hand towards him, slipping the lube on his fingers. He then sat astride the man, and rather self-consciously placed his hands on Krycek's shoulders.
Krycek leaned forward and kissed him. "My beautiful Fox, " he whispered, "just relax and let me show you what to do."
Mulder nodded, dropping his head on Krycek's shoulder as Krycek began preparing him. Half way thorough he began to find the whole preparation arousing as Krycek kept finding his hot spot and making him shiver with delight. By the time Krycek handed him the condom he was almost too far-gone to know what to do with it and stared at it in confusion for a few seconds. Krycek laughed, kissed his ear, took the packet off him, and prepared himself. A few neurons struggled out of their comatosed state and Mulder wondered how his lover managed the job one handed. Before he had time to compose a sentence, he was being urged up and back and he felt Krycek's penis begin to enter him. Remembering his last time, he breathed deeply as Krycek whispered words of encouragement to him, telling him to take control, holding him firmly with both his flesh and artificial hand. By the time Krycek was buried in him, he was shivering in an agony of pain and desire, uncertain which had ascendancy. He bit his lip, and looked down at Krycek, feeling the tension in the hand gripping at his hip. Krycek smiled at him and released his hip to stroke a trembling hand down his back.
"You feel wonderful," he said, "Take your time, Fox."
Mulder nodded. Taking a deep breath he raised himself upwards, rewarded by a sharp intake of breath from Krycek. As he just as slowly moved back down again, Krycek moaned, tossing his head back. Mulder felt a shiver of pleasure ride his spine as he realised how much in control he was. He began moving in rhythm, watching the sexy face beneath him twitch in response to his every movement.
"Fox, goddamn it, Fox," Krycek moaned.
Mulder increased his effort panting and writhing as he moved, grasping Krycek's shoulders. It felt so damn good and he wanted more. He increased his speed, delighted to hear Krycek's continuous moaning of his name. Somehow he didn't hate it so much when it was cried out so passionately. One last thrust and Krycek grasped his hips even tighter. The grip on him slowly relaxed and Krycek sank back in the couch, a look of contentment on his face. Mulder leaned forward and, for the first time, initiated contact, kissing Krycek lightly. Krycek's eyes flew open and for a second his heart was in his eyes. Mulder smiled self-consciously at him, suddenly aware of feeling very tired, cramped and aching. He slowly lifted himself off Krycek, standing up with his arms outstretched.
"Shower, then bed?" he asked.
Krycek nodded, removed the sheath and dropped in into the trash can near Mulder's desk. He hesitated for a second, then began to remove his prosthesis before taking Mulder's hand and letting himself be pulled towards the shower.
They washed and dried themselves in comparative silence, Krycek freezing slightly as Mulder took the towel from him and gently rubbed his back dry. Mulder handed it back without comment and left Krycek to finish drying himself until a hand rested on his shoulder. He turned towards Krycek, who pulled him into a one armed hug.
"Thank you," Krycek muttered into his ear, kissed the side of his face and vanished from the bathroom.
Mulder followed a few seconds later, watching with some amusement as Krycek made himself comfortable on his side of the bed. He got in pushing the man over until he was comfortable, and lay on his back.
"Do you want me here in the morning?" Krycek asked.
Mulder nodded, turning to face him. "Yes, I think we need to have a long talk."
Krycek nodded, settling himself on his side, his remaining arm uppermost. Mulder turned the light off and moved nearer until Krycek grabbed him and pulled him into a snug embrace. Mulder relaxed, nestled into Krycek's body, and fell asleep.
He couldn't say what woke him, but he was awake in an instant. He could feel by the tenseness in Krycek's body that he was also awake. As his eyes adjusted to the dark he made out a dark shape sitting in the chair near his door.
"Fox Mulder, Alex Krycek," the shape said, standing in a fluid movement that gave Mulder his first clue as to what they faced. "I've been looking forward to meeting you for some time, but circumstances have not been appropriate." He moved to sit on the bed next to Mulder.
Mulder tensed, conscious of Krycek's hand on his shoulder, grateful for the warmth and contact. "And who or what might you be?" he asked. He watched the other, taking in details as the moonlight glimmered on his face.
"Louis," the man said, laughing lightly as Mulder sighed in annoyance. "My name does not matter Agent Mulder. We just want you to know we're watching you and your lover."
"Why?" Krycek asked abruptly.
The man glanced at him. "Because you are both worthy of our regard, Alex Krycek, and we are fascinated by this alien conspiracy that you both seem to be involved in so deeply." He glanced at Mulder and grinned. "I feel we need to update our information on you, Agent Mulder. From where I stand you would appear to be sleeping with the enemy, and somehow that doesn't add up with all that we know about you." He smiled with malice as Mulder felt his cheeks heat up, moving slightly to look at Krycek. "It also makes you, Alex Krycek, far more intriguing."
Mulder felt Krycek's hand tense, but he said nothing. The man continued. "I am authorised to offer you both the gift of eternal life." He looked down at Mulder. "You could fight your alien conspiracy with us, Agent Mulder. They could not defeat us, nor could they use us to breed."
Mulder cleared his throat. "But at what cost to humanity?" he asked, trying to keep his voice level. "I don't think the price is worth paying."
The man nodded, turning to Krycek. "We could make you whole, Alex Krycek, graft another arm onto you before we crossed you over, and you would arise to live among us whole and complete."
Mulder tensed, well aware of Krycek's hatred for his disfigurement.
"I would give a great deal to be whole," Krycek said, and Mulder felt his heart race with fear. "But I value being human more." He shook his head. "I don't want your simulacrum of 'life' thank you." His hand squeezed Mulder's shoulder gently, and Mulder relaxed.
The man laughed. "We thought you would say that." He stood, moving towards the door in a blink of the eye. "We will just have to change your mind about us." He put his hand on the handle. "Give my regards to your delightful partner, Agent Mulder, and tell your bosses to keep their noses out of our affairs, Alex Krycek." He raised his hand, and vanished.
Mulder let out a deep breath, falling back onto the pillow. "Why threaten us, yet try to recruit us?" he asked Krycek slowly.
"Because we now know of them," Krycek said slowly.
Mulder shivered. "We've been made pawns in a battle that isn't ours," he said, feeling a deep swell of anger at the deception.
Krycek pulled the bedclothes around them and pulled Mulder back into his embrace. "Then maybe we have something that they want?"
Mulder was silent, thinking the problem over logically. "Knowledge is the key," he said almost to himself. "I have a feeling we'll find out when they want us to, but I'm going to do my damndest to find out for myself."
"I'm with you, Mulder," Krycek said. "That is if you want me?"
"We're in this together," Mulder said wearily. He turned, placing his hand on Krycek's shoulder. "To be honest, I'm glad we're in this together, whatever this is."
Krycek reached up to clasp his hand, squeezing his fingers tightly. They stared silently at each other until Krycek broke the silence. "I don't suppose you have an appropriate poem for this?" he asked, a small smile crossing his lips.
Mulder narrowed his eyes, grateful for Krycek's attempt to lighten the atmosphere. In the cold light of day they would need to talk through the consequences of the past few days, but for now he needed sleep and human contact. "Nothing springs to mind," he said honestly.
Krycek nodded, the smile still lingering. "Let's sleep then," he suggested, pulling his hand away gently.
Mulder felt Krycek relax and succumb to sleep as he lay, considering their conversation with the vampire. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," he whispered ironically to himself as he drifted off to sleep in the warmth of Krycek's embrace.
Selected quotes from The Vampire by Michael P Smith, and from W H Auden's The Birth of Architecture