The man in black leather stiffened at the command. He raised his arms slightly, palms up, and turned his head to the left the better to see behind him.
'I said, don't move.'
Fox Mulder held the gun to the small of his enemy's back while running his free hand under the leather jacket in search of a weapon. Finding none, Mulder patted down the man's jeans-clad legs with the same result. He straightened up, frowning.
'What's this all about?'
Mulder ignored the question, too busy thinking of his next move. When AD Skinner had sent him and Scully to Vancouver to investigate reports of UFO sightings, the last person Mulder had expected to run into on a dark city street was Alex Krycek. He fumbled for his cellphone, cursing the fates that had delayed Scully at the local police station, and hoped the cops had finally run out of stupid questions so he could get some backup.
Mulder glanced away from Krycek for approximately five seconds.
The next thing he saw was the cellphone flying across the street and his own gun being pointed in his face. His opponent had moved so quickly that he'd barely had time to react. Mulder stared back into cool green eyes and felt a bead of sweat tickle his forehead.
'Okay.' Krycek's voice was calm and deliberate, but his eyes cut through Mulder like a jade stiletto. 'I'd appreciate some answers. You're too well-dressed for a mugger...let's see some ID.'
Mulder just stared. Krycek was acting like he didn't know him, for God's sake. Maybe he'd developed amnesia? That might go a long way to explaining what the man was doing here in Vancouver.
Before he could gather his wits about him, Mulder felt a hand snake impatiently inside his trenchcoat. Krycek pulled out Mulder's wallet and flipped it open. A crease formed between his brows.
'FBI? What do you want with me...Agent Mulder?'
Mulder snorted his disbelief at the question. 'You're a wanted fugitive, Krycek. I'm taking you back to the States for prosecution.'
A tiny smile quirked the corner of the other man's mouth.
'In case you hadn't noticed, I'm holding your gun,' he said, his tone deceptively soft.
'Yeah. How come you're not carrying?' asked Mulder, curiosity overcoming fear.
'I don't usually take a weapon to the corner store, Agent Mulder.'
'Maybe not, but you obviously know how to handle one.'
The man in leather laughed. 'I should hope so. I'm a cop. Ex-cop, that is.'
'A cop? Of all the stupid lies you could come up with, Krycek--'
'Let's get one thing straight. My name's not Krycek, it's Vic Mansfield. And I never saw you in my life before tonight, okay? So we apparently have a case of mistaken identity here.'
'Oh? You look enough like Krycek to be his clone. Come to think of it...'
Vic started to laugh again. 'Now I know why your name sounds familiar. *Spooky* Mulder, right? Nobody else in the FBI would make up a crazy story about clones.' He nodded at Mulder's raised eyebrow. 'Yes, your reputation precedes you, even up here.'
A shadow of doubt crossed Mulder's mind. Was this Krycek or not?
As if reading those very thoughts, Vic spoke up. 'So. How can I prove my identity to you? Driver's license?' 'Those can be faked,' mumbled Mulder.
'True. What, then?' Vic seemed relaxed and confident now, although he kept the gun trained loosely on Mulder.
Mulder thought furiously. He wanted to believe this was Krycek, but if he was wrong, he'd be in deep shit indeed. Then he flashed back to their last encounter in Russia.
'Take off your jacket.'
Vic gave Mulder a look of utter disdain. 'Why, so you can grab the gun in the meantime? Don't take me for a fool, Agent Mulder.'
'Okay, okay. Just push up your left sleeve, then.'
Vic shook his head in amused bewilderment, but did as he was asked. The gun barrel never wavered from its target.
Mulder peered at smooth skin in the half-light. 'The glove, too.'
Vic removed his glove with his teeth. He held his fingers up and wiggled them. 'Looking for a tattoo?' he asked.
'...an arm.' Damn, thought Mulder, even Russian technology couldn't be *that* good. 'Krycek lost his arm.'
Vic smiled. 'As you can see, I have two perfectly good ones. Satisfied?'
'I guess so,' Mulder acquiesced grudgingly.
Mansfield seemed to come to a decision. He flipped the gun around and handed it back, grip first, along with Mulder's badge.
'Here. Why don't we retrieve your cellphone, so you can tell your partner you're okay.'
Mulder took the gun. He watched Krycek--no, Vic Mansfield, he amended mentally--turn his back and go for the phone. That trust was proof enough that the man was who he said he was. Mansfield returned with the phone and gave it over.
'Doesn't look too damaged,' he commented.
Mulder punched in the familiar number.
'Scully, it's me. You still down at the station? ...good, they must have heard you say UFO once too many times, huh?' Mulder paused, grinning. 'Yeah, I'm fine. I was about to head back to the hotel...yeah, okay, get some sleep.' He snapped the cellphone closed with a sigh.
'Hey.' Vic's voice brought Mulder out of his reverie. 'Why don't I treat you to a drink? If you have the time, that is.'
'Guess I should do the buying.' Mulder chuckled. 'After all, I'm the one who almost arrested you by accident.'
Vic grinned. 'No hard feelings. There's a nice little lounge just down the street.'
Mulder nodded and followed in Vic's wake. He couldn't stop comparing the man to Alex Krycek. They even moved the same way, with that long, loping gait that Mulder had noticed back when they were partners.
Don't *even* go there, Mulder told himself. He made a supreme effort to shut off his brain. A drink would be just the thing to help.
They sat in a corner and nursed a cold beer each while Vic talked about his work. He said that he had left the police force because he could no longer ignore the rampant corruption that had gone on around him. Now, he said, chuckling at the irony, he worked with two former criminals, going after those men and women who thought they were above the law.
In the light over their booth, Mulder could see obvious differences between Mansfield and Krycek, at least in mannerisms. Krycek had never had that easy, open expression and ready smile, even when he'd been pretending. Mulder felt himself relaxing and laughing at Vic's jokes, able finally to accept that this was not an enemy, but indeed a potential friend.
Vic ordered two more beers. When they arrived and Mulder had taken his first large swallow, Mansfield leaned forward and asked softly:
'So how long have you been in love with Alex Krycek?'
Mulder nearly choked on his beer. He made a futile attempt to dab away the foam that dribbled onto his shirt while he tried to regain his composure.
'What?' he gasped.
'It's written all over your face.' Vic's green eyes twinkled. 'Every time you mention his name, every time I catch you looking...at me.'
'Damn it, Mansfield! I am not in love with Alex Krycek.' 'Hmmm. In lust, then.'
'I don't think that's...any of your business,' Mulder trailed off lamely.
'Hey. Don't get so upset. I wouldn't even have mentioned it except for the signals you've been sending my way all evening.'
Mulder suddenly flushed bright red from his collar up. 'God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean--'
'Don't worry about it, Mulder.' He reached across the table and touched the fingers of Mulder's left hand gently. 'You are a very attractive man, you know.'
Mulder's color deepened. He tried to say something, and discovered that the inner lining of his mouth had gone bone-dry. Vic was gazing at him with those incredible sea-green eyes, and Mulder felt in danger of losing himself if he couldn't look away soon.
Suddenly Vic pulled away. 'Now I'm sorry. I've pushed you.'
Vic raised an eyebrow delicately. 'No? No, what?'
'You haven't pushed me.' Mulder took a deep breath. 'I never had sex with him...'
He trailed off. Mansfield waited patiently.
'I wanted to. When we first met, and he was coming on like an infatuated rookie. And I think he would have let me.' The agent shuddered. 'Then he turned on me. Helped mastermind my current partner's abduction. Sold government secrets. Killed my--' He waved the memories away. 'Never mind, old garbage. The part that makes me the most angry, though, is that he was laughing at me all along, knowing how much I wanted him. Even while I hated him, I wanted him.'
'...and where is he now?' asked Vic.
Mulder's voice cracked like parched earth. 'Dead. I hope.'
The silence stretched awhile, Mulder lost in bitter memories while Vic watched him surreptitiously. To break it, Mansfield drank some more beer, then set the bottle down and leaned forward again. This time, he traced his long, thin fingers deliberately over the back of Mulder's hand and wrist.
'So. Now that I've been assured there's no competition...' Mansfield's husky voice sent shockwaves of desire through Mulder. His cock twitched in his pants and he was aware of emitting a strangled moan.
'I g-guess we could take this conversation back to the hotel,' he stammered.
'Hmmm.' Vic thought a moment. 'Would your partner recognize this Krycek?'
Mulder winced. 'Yeah. Maybe not such a good idea.'
Vic began to slide his index finger across Mulder's palm suggestively. 'My apartment is down the block. Nice sound system, great view of the river. Very private.'
From somewhere outside his body, Mulder saw himself nod. The floating sensation persisted as he stood up and followed Vic casually out the door and into the street. A gentle rain was falling when they left. Mulder drew his trenchcoat closer around his neck. He shivered, though not from the cold.
Vic's apartment was on an upper floor of a new highrise. Mulder stood in the doorway trying not to drip too much on the carpet, while Vic turned on lights and the stereo and disappeared momentarily into the kitchen. He returned with two glasses of wine and saw Mulder's predicament.
'Here, let me take that.' Vic set the wine down and helped Mulder out of his coat. Mulder could feel the heat of the other man's body even through several layers of clothing. His cock lifted and stretched as if trying to reach his belly-button, and he turned back to face Mansfield, grateful for the relatively loose cut of his suit jacket.
Vic hung the coat up and walked gracefully back to the center of the living room. He handed one of the glasses to Mulder and touched its rim with his own glass.
'To friendship.' Vic's eyes glinted beneath incredibly long lashes. 'And maybe more.'
Mulder simply nodded and drank. He didn't trust himself to reply just yet. He studied Mansfield through the clear glass, trying not to be too obvious. Vic had shed his leather jacket and turned back the sleeves of his grey knit pullover. His bare arms rippled with muscle in the soft light. Mulder's gaze traveled down Vic's body as he lowered his wine glass and he noted the beginnings of an impressive hard-on swelling the thin material of his faded jeans.
Vic set his glass down again. He moved forward and slipped Mulder's jacket off his shoulders in one smooth gesture.
'You're overdressed,' he whispered.
Mulder experienced a feeling of weightlessness as he watched Vic loosen his tie and the top two buttons of his shirt, before stopping abruptly, making Mulder groan.
Mansfield's smile was utterly guileless. 'Close your eyes a minute, okay? There's something I want to show you.'
Vic slipped his left hand into Mulder's right and pulled him gently towards the edge of the room. Mulder followed, a little nervous but trying not to let it show. Then Vic squeezed his hand and said, 'Stop here, but keep your eyes closed.'
Mulder felt Vic move around behind him. Strong hands caressed his shoulders lightly. For a split second, Mulder's fear returned. What if this really was Krycek after all, and he was planning on finishing Mulder off at long last? *Oh yeah,* replied Mulder's logical half, *and he's managed to grow a new arm in the meantime.*
'You can look now.'
Mulder opened his eyes. He found himself standing directly in front of a large picture window overlooking the city. Far below, the lights of Vancouver shone like stars made glossy by the rain. Mulder drew a quick breath and just stared, his companion momentarily forgotten.
'Beautiful, isn't it? I never tire of the view.'
Vic's hushed voice brought Mulder back to the present. 'No wonder,' he agreed.
Vic's hands moved around Mulder's waist. He freed Mulder's shirt tail from his slacks and began to unfasten more buttons with an expert touch. Mulder closed his eyes again involuntarily. He sighed as Vic's delicate manipulations brought his nipples to aching peaks.
Vic pressed his crotch against Mulder's ass. 'I am so hot for you, Fox,' he murmured, nuzzling the agent's neck.
Mulder flinched. 'You know I don't like being called by my first name, Alex--'
With lightning swiftness, Mulder was spun around face to face with a pair of angry green eyes.
'Let's get one thing clear right now. I'll call you Mulder, if you insist, but I will *not* be a substitute for this other man. Okay?'
Mulder swallowed. 'I'm sorry. Vic. It just slipped out.'
'Okay.' Vic loosened his grip on Mulder's arms and offered him a rueful smile. 'I'm sorry, too. Didn't mean to fly off the handle like that...' He caressed Mulder's cheek gently with the back of his knuckles. 'Want to try again?'
In response, Mulder leaned forward, eyes half-shut. Vic's mouth brushed his, light as a feather, his tongue slipping over Mulder's full lower lip. Mulder rode a fresh wave of desire as he felt Vic's teeth against the sensitive tissue. The last of Mulder's reticence broke. He pressed the length of his body against Vic, hungry for contact, one hand exploring the younger man's chest, the other, his firm buttocks.
Vic pulled away for just a moment, grinning at Mulder's frank and sudden lust.
'Easy, baby. We've got all night.'
He reached for Mulder's hands and kissed each one in turn. Then he began a slow descent down Mulder's body, kissing and fondling every inch of skin on the way, until Mulder thought Vic's touch would set him ablaze. As Vic came to rest on his knees, it was all Mulder could do to keep from forcing that lush mouth onto the rampant cock tenting the silk of his boxers. Vic smiled his appreciation of the sight. He pulled the material aside and planted a wet kiss directly on the crown.
Mulder watched through slitted eyes and gasped as Vic's mouth swallowed him to the root. Vic kept his hands on Mulder's thighs, both to steady himself and to keep Mulder from choking him by pushing too deeply. He began a steady rhythm of minute but intense swallowing that soon had Mulder writhing in pleasure.
Mulder groaned aloud and tried to find a purchase in Vic's short brown hair. The pressure in his testicles built and pulsed.
'Gonna come,' he gasped.
Vic took that as his cue to stop. Mulder made a strangled sound in his throat and would have fallen were it not for the two strong hands on his thighs.
'What the hell? Dammit, Mansfield!'
Vic chuckled. He reached out and stroked Mulder's balls until they descended again. 'Patience, lover,' he soothed. 'I'm not through with you yet.'
Standing quickly, Vic tugged at the loose end of Mulder's belt and led the dazed federal agent across the room. Mulder's cock bobbed ridiculously as he walked, but Mansfield took no notice. He opened a heavy oak door at the far end of the living room and propelled Mulder inside.
Vic let go of Mulder's belt and closed the door behind them. They were standing in a lushly appropriated bedroom, lit only by candles. Mulder noted the silk sheets on the kingsized bed and wondered if the organization Vic now worked for paid so much better than being a cop. Then Vic was standing in front of him again, and Mulder gasped audibly. The man moved as silently as a jungle cat.
Mulder made an aborted move towards him. Vic held one hand up, smiling slyly.
As Mulder watched, hypnotized, Vic tugged his knit shirt free from his jeans and over his head, every motion calculated to entice. Mulder's half-flagging cock began to revive as he drank in the sight of Vic's perfect torso. Vic tossed the shirt aside and walked sinuously into Mulder's embrace.
'Why don't you take off the rest of your clothes, baby?' Vic purred.
Mulder hastened to comply, so quickly, in fact, that two shirt buttons went sailing and his pubic hair nearly got caught in his zipper. Vic laughed throatily and bent to help Mulder remove his shoes. As he straightened again, Mulder noticed the tattoo on Vic's upper left arm.
'Hey. What is that, exactly?'
'Chinese design,' Vic replied easily. He turned to show Mulder how the ink made a complete circle around his bicep. 'The symbols here--' he indicated the area above his armpit, '--stand for strength and determination. And these three, across my outer arm, are for my name in Chinese: Lee Kwok Lai.'
'Mmm. I like it. And the earring, too.' Mulder nodded at the single gold hoop in Vic's left ear. 'You look very rakish.'
Vic's answering grin was slow and hot. 'Thanks. Now let's see if I can live up to that image.'
He bent to remove his shoes. As he unfolded his lanky body again, he stroked his hands across his own thighs, making a show of it for Mulder. Vic's eyes never left Mulder's as he reached the zipper of his jeans and began to open it, inch by tantalizing inch. When the metal tab would go no further, Vic pushed the jeans off his slim hips and let them drop.
Mulder gasped. Vic's cock--unencumbered by either boxers or briefs--stretched heavily down the length of his thigh. Even as Mulder watched, the turgid flesh lifted another fraction of an inch towards the object of its desire. Mulder reached out to touch it lightly, running his fingers around its amazing circumference. His asscheeks tightened involuntarily at the thought of having such a monster inside him.
'Don't worry, lover.' Vic read Mulder's anxiety. 'I know how to be careful, and how to make it feel really good.'
He pressed Mulder down onto the silk sheets and joined him on the bed. The feel of Vic's skin on his made Mulder moan and growl. Vic laughed with delight before fastening his mouth on Mulder's and engaging in a serious tongue wrestle. Vic's mouth tasted of wine and cloves. He sucked Mulder's tongue into his own mouth in a way that made Mulder's dick leap. When Vic's hand slid down to cup Mulder's sac, it was all the agent could do to keep from coming then and there.
Mulder grabbed Vic's arms, rolling him over (with the distinct feeling that Vic had allowed him to do so) onto his back. He needed some feeling of control in this. Vic let his eyes close as Mulder began to lave his neck and chest with a tongue like rough velvet. Mulder performed a long, slow tease around each of Vic's nipples, then bit one gently until Vic writhed beneath him like a wild animal.
Mulder continued his exploration of Vic's body, caressing his flat stomach with hands and tongue. He could feel the length of hard flesh prodding at him, caught between their bodies. At last, Mulder slid down in the bed until his face was level with Mansfield's crotch. He swallowed hard. Though Mulder was no virgin by far, Vic Mansfield's penis was the largest he'd ever seen, and he was not at all sure he could wrap even part of his mouth around it without choking. He made a valiant effort to relax his throat, however, and somehow managed to take in the head and a decent portion of the shaft. The rest he clasped in one hand, kneading the skin in counterpoint to the rhythm of his eager mouth.
Mansfield gasped. From past experience, he had learned not to thrust in this position. He gazed down at the head between his legs, admiring Mulder's technique. Few of Vic's other lovers had done so well. Mansfield did not want to finish this way, however, and after a few minutes, he pushed Mulder's head away. Mulder caught his breath while Vic rolled to one side and retrieved a bottle of Slip and a condom from the bedside table. Vic rose to his knees and turned to face Mulder, his eyes like burning emeralds.
'I want to fuck you,' he rasped.
Vic pressed Mulder face down on the bed. Mulder trembled at the sure knowledge of what was about to happen, but he spread his legs bravely. A moment later, he felt Vic's fingers probing and stretching him.
'Ahhh.' Mulder drew a sharp breath. 'Your hand is cold.'
Vic smiled. 'Sorry. Must be the lube.' He removed the fingers and made a show of rubbing his palms together briskly before slipping more lube into Mulder's rectum. 'Better?'
Mulder thrust backwards in response, his hips bucking as Vic found the sensitive prostate gland. Vic inserted a second finger, then a third, taking his time. Mulder looked over his shoulder and saw a steady stream of precum oozing from the swollen head of Mansfield's cock. He recognized the immense effort Vic was making to hold his own desire in check. The idea dried Mulder's throat and brought a moan to his lips.
'Now. Please.' He couldn't verbalize beyond one syllable at a time. 'Can't wait...'
Another splash of cold lube between his cheeks made him shiver in anticipation. Then he felt the head of Vic's cock pushing at his anus. Despite his longing, Mulder jerked away convulsively from the bolt of intense pain.
Vic stopped. 'Shhh...' He rubbed Mulder's back soothingly until the other man's breathing slowed, then leaned down to gaze into Mulder's eyes. 'Look at me.'
Mulder obeyed. He was caught up instantly in the calm green depths.
'I won't hurt you,' promised Mansfield. 'Relax.'
Surprisingly, the words helped Mulder do just that. When Vic pressed forward again, Mulder unfolded for him as easily as if they had been lovers forever.
Mansfield stopped again, allowing his partner time to adjust to his size. After a few moments, Mulder squeezed tentatively and was rewarded by a groan from the man above him.
'Careful.' Vic smiled. He leaned over Mulder's back and nuzzled his neck tenderly. Mulder lifted his head slightly, the better to enjoy the contact. The throbbing flesh within him was driving him crazy, and he shifted and squeezed again.
'You okay?' Vic queried.
'Yes,' Mulder replied huskily. 'Don't stop now.'
Vic grinned widely. He pushed himself upright again, his thickly muscled arms supporting him as he withdrew, then re-entered Mulder in one long, deep thrust.
Mulder gasped, from pleasure this time. He gripped Vic's hands to urge him on, vaguely aware of the noticeable temperature difference in them. 'Yesss...fuck me...'
Vic could hold on no longer. Despite his earlier promises to be gentle, he set a hard and fast rhythm, skewering Mulder repeatedly. The agent didn't seem to mind. He pushed back onto Mansfield's cock with enthusiasm, crying out his name with each thrust. Sweat dripped off both their bodies and pooled on the sheets.
With a wracking sob, Vic shuddered and pounded his climax into Mulder. He nearly collapsed onto the other man, managing at the last minute to roll to the side. Mulder groaned as he felt Vic slip out of him.
'Hey.' Mulder took Vic's hand and placed it on his still-throbbing erection. 'Don't you dare go to sleep.'
Vic summoned a smile. He rolled back over and applied his expert mouth to Mulder's cock once more. This time, however, Vic didn't quit until he heard Mulder scream. He took ever spurt Mulder had to offer, until the agent finally pushed him away weakly.
'Enough. I'm getting sore.'
'Mmmm. I did my job, then.'
Vic wrapped Mulder in his arms and they snuggled close.
'...you okay, Mulder?' he whispered.
'Sure. I may not walk again for a week, but I'm fine.'
Vic chuckled. Mulder listened contentedly to the sound, a warm rumble in Mansfield's chest. He didn't even know he'd fallen asleep until Vic nudged him gently some time later. 'Got to go soon.' Vic nodded at the rising sun dappling the curtains with light. 'Work.'
'Mmm. D'ya hafta?' Mulder mumbled.
'Afraid so, baby.' Green eyes made soft by satisfaction gazed curiously into hazel. 'Answer me something, Mulder, if you can.'
'Krycek. Where did you last see him?'
Mulder buried his face in the pillow. 'Urgh. I'd rather not talk about him, Vic.'
'I'd like to know. Just in case he shows up again. If he tries to hurt you.' Vic ran his fingertip across Mulder's beard-stubbled jaw. 'If you needed my help...I have some powerful friends.'
Mulder smiled at the idea of Vic wanting to protect him.
'Let's see. The last time I saw Alex was in Russia. I'd just escaped from a gulag, and he was in the back of the truck I'd used to crash through the gate. As it turned out, the truck had no brakes. Alex saw what was happening, and bailed out, just before I did.
'I thought about leaving him there. But Skinner--that's AD Skinner, my boss in the Bureau--would have had my hide for sure. So I followed Krycek into the forest of Tunguska.
'If I hadn't seen and heard the villagers surrounding him, I would have shared his fate. Every one of them, down to a man, had only one arm.' Mulder explained briefly about the experiments being done at the gulag, and about how the removal of the left arm could prevent those tests. 'Anyhow, I watched as the villagers held Alex down and cut through his arm with a hot knife.'
Mulder shivered. 'I can still hear his screams. God...I wanted to help him, I swear I did, even though he was my enemy. But I had to get out of there while I had the chance.'
Vic nodded. 'You're lucky.' He kissed Mulder on the forehead. 'It still amazes me that you say we look so much alike.'
'Well, supposedly everyone in the world has a double somewhere. A doppelganger.' Mulder yawned and stretched, then sat up. 'I need a shower.'
'Help yourself.' Mansfield grinned suddenly. 'I'd offer to soap your back, but I really do have to be on my way.'
He went to fix breakfast, leaving Mulder smiling goofily to himself. When Mulder had showered, dressed, and eaten some of Vic's delicious cooking, he headed for the door reluctantly. Mansfield caught up with him and they kissed one last time, making Mulder fear he would have to face the world again with a hard-on.
Then Vic was swatting him on the ass and propelling him out the door. 'Take care, lover. See you around.'
Mulder took the elevator down, whistling. Outside, the rain had finally stopped and Vancouver was bathed in dim sunlight. Mulder snapped open his cellphone and turned on the power. It rang in his hand about ten seconds later.
'Mulder, it's me. Where have you been?'
'Oh, hi, Scully. Good morning to you, too.'
Scully sighed. 'Could you please come meet me at the hotel? We have a plane to catch.'
Scully was unusually quiet on the flight back to Washington, but Mulder was too caught up in his memories to notice at the time. Then they had to face Skinner's debriefing, and there was no real chance to talk until about a week later.
Mulder was sitting at his desk in the basement, munching sunflower seeds, when Scully walked in.
'Well. Long time no see.'
'Mulder.' She shut the door behind her. 'We have to talk.'
He raised an eyebrow. 'What?'
Scully perched herself on the edge of a chair and took a deep breath. 'In Vancouver. You were seen going into an apartment building with Alex Krycek.'
Mulder paled. 'What? Who saw me?'
'So you don't deny it?'
Scully's partner laughed shakily. 'I can explain. Yes, I did go into a building with a man, but it wasn't Krycek.'
It was Scully's turn to do some eyebrow lifting. 'Really? I was given a surveillance photo, Mulder. It looked an awful lot like Krycek to me.'
Mulder slammed his fist on the desk in anger. 'Damn it, Scully! I thought you were done spying on me.'
'I was concerned. You were seen earlier in the evening, at a bar. The agent who contacted me said you were with Krycek then, as well. I was afraid you might be hurt, Mulder. The man is a dangerous criminal!'
The anger drained out of Mulder and he slumped in his chair with a sigh. 'I thought he was Krycek at first, too. Then he told me he was an ex-cop named Vic Mansfield. Scully, he couldn't have been Krycek. He had both arms, and they were real.'
Scully pursed her lips thoughtfully. 'You saw his arms? Both of them?'
Despite his best efforts, Mulder flushed deeply. 'Yes.'
'Did he have a tattoo?'
Mulder's mouth dropped open. 'How did you know?'
'Because...' Scully lowered her voice. 'Because a tattoo is the easiest way to cover the join mark.'
Mulder stared at her as she went on.
'I've questioned AD Skinner about this, Mulder. He's been receiving intelligence reports from our people in Russia. When I told him that Krycek had been spotted in Canada and protested that no one could regrow an arm, Skinner told me about the new technology they'd developed over there, using artificial flesh and starfish DNA. They can't actually renew old skin, but they can attach a new limb and cover the stitching so that it's practically unnoticeable. The arm or leg would be quite functional, I'm told.'
'His hand was cold,' Mulder muttered. Scully pretended not to notice.
'We've got to find him, Mulder.'
'No.' He gazed back firmly at her startled expression. 'I've got to find him.'
But his inquiries met a dead end almost at once. No one on the Vancouver force had heard of 'Vic Mansfield'. Mulder finally caught a plane back to the city and managed to find the apartment building where Mansfield--Krycek?--had taken him. The manager told Mulder that the apartment in question hadn't been rented for over three months.
'Yeah, it's a surprise to me, too, with housing being what it is nowadays,' grunted the man around his stubby cigar.
Mulder convinced him to open the apartment. The manager shrugged and complied, then left the FBI agent standing in the doorway, gaping at its contents in dull amazement. Or rather, its lack of contents. Mulder swore to himself. He knew it was the same place, yet there was not one stick of furniture or any curtains on the windows, and a fine patina of dust lay everywhere.
He walked slowly into the bedroom. No bed, no silk sheets, only barren floors and walls greeted him. Mulder's mind spun as he tried to make sense of what had happened to him here. Why would Krycek (and he was beginning to believe it had been Krycek, after all) have gone to such an elaborate charade? Just to convince Mulder not to arrest him? How had he managed to rent an apartment, then, or at least to gain access to one? Where did the furnishings go? And lastly, why, why, why had Krycek made love to him?
Mulder leaned against a wall, feeling sick inside. He thought he knew the answer to that last question, at least. Krycek had recognized his desire from the beginning. Maybe the whole damn thing had been a setup, just so that Krycek could have his way and vanish from Mulder's life once more. A final, irrevocable betrayal. Deceive, inveigle, obfuscate. No doubt wherever he was now, Krycek was laughing his head off.
The hell of it was, Mulder would never know for sure.
Hope you liked it. I've written slash before, but this is my first effort for the Web. Comments, adoration, or constructive criticism may be sent to me at email@example.com. I have a great big fireplace for flames.
Oh, yes. Lee Kwok Lai is (according to the Club NL's Once A Thief site) Chinese for Nicholas Lea!