The needle finally stopped buzzing, and the skin artist wiped off the excess ink in order to admire his finished product.
'That's the last of it,' he commented, smiling. He discarded the used needle and began to clean up his equipment. 'Nasty scar you had there. No wonder you wanted it covered up.'
Alex Krycek glanced down at the tattoo encircling his left bicep. The Chinese pictographs seemed especially appropriate since his move to Vancouver. He had used more than one artist in different locations across Canada as he had traveled westward to this last stop on his journey. Russia was a dim and bitter memory now, one that he intended to forget as quickly as possible.
'Thanks,' said Krycek, paying up.
'Don't forget, you're entitled to a free touchup, Mr. Mansfield.'
Krycek smiled. He nodded to the artist and walked out the front door into his new life.
'I think this whole story was bogus, Mulder. UFOs over Stanley Park indeed.'
Mulder chuckled into his cellphone. 'Yeah, Scully, for once I agree. But we're here now, so when you're done at the station we might as well enjoy the scenery.'
His partner muttered something unprintable, even for an X-File. Mulder snapped the phone closed with a smile. The local police had been holding Scully over an hour now for questioning. He was truly surprised they'd survived her impatience with their tactics for so long.
He put the phone away and hunched further into his coat against the damp. If he had not chosen that very moment to glance down towards the end of the street he might never have seen the man in the black leather jacket. Disbelief stunned Mulder for a few seconds. Then he was sprinting towards the dark figure, gun in hand.
The man paused, uncertain. He raised his arms slowly and turned his head to the left.
'What's this all about?'
Mulder poked his gun in Krycek's back and began to pat him down. Alex waited patiently for the agent to realize he was unarmed. Mulder finally straightened, frowning, and fumbled once more for his phone.
When Mulder glanced away for a few seconds, Krycek made his move. One well-placed kick sent the cellphone flying. By the time Mulder realized what was happening, Krycek had pulled the gun out of his jacket and was pointing it in his face.
'Okay. I'd appreciate some answers. You're too well-dressed for a mugger...let's see some ID.'
Krycek had to keep from smiling at the confusion on Mulder's face. *I should have been an actor,* he told himself smugly.
When Mulder continued to stare uncertainly, Krycek reached forward and pulled the agent's wallet from the pocket of his trenchcoat. He flipped it open, pretending to study the badge.
'FBI? What do you want with me...Agent Mulder?'
Mulder snorted in obvious disbelief. 'You're a wanted fugitive, Krycek. I'm taking you back to the States for prosecution.'
'In case you hadn't noticed, I'm holding your gun,' replied Krycek softly.
'Yeah. How come you're not carrying?'
'I don't usually take a weapon to the corner store, Agent Mulder.'
'Maybe not,' Mulder said with a frown, 'but you obviously know how to handle one.'
'I should hope so.' Krycek laughed suddenly, thoroughly enjoying the way his shifting moods kept Mulder off-balance. '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.'
*Now swallow it, Mulder,* thought Alex, keeping his expression neutral.
'Oh?' Mulder looked slightly disgusted. 'You look enough like Krycek to be his clone.'
Alex laughed 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...your reputation precedes you, even up here.' He paused, waiting for Mulder to process all this. 'So. How can I prove my identity to you? Driver's license?'
'Those can be faked,' mumbled Mulder.
'True. What, then?' Krycek kept the gun on his adversary, but let his voice and posture loosen up a bit.
Mulder thought a few minutes. 'Take off your jacket,' he said finally.
Alex injected his response with disdain. 'Why, so you can grab the gun in the meantime? Don't take me for a fool, Agent Mulder.'
'Okay, just push up your left sleeve, then.'
*Here it comes.* Krycek shook his head as if bewildered, but did as he was asked. When Mulder demanded he remove the glove as well, Krycek pulled it off with his teeth. He held up his left hand, wiggling the fingers. 'Looking for a tattoo?'
'...an arm. Krycek lost his arm.'
Alex smiled. 'As you can see, I have two perfectly good ones. Satisfied?'
'I guess so.' Mulder didn't look too happy about it.
Krycek drew a breath and made his move. He flipped the gun around and handed it back, grip first, along with Mulder's badge.
'Here. Why don't we retrieve your cellphone.'
Alex could feel Mulder's eyes on his back as he walked over to pick up the phone. He forced down the automatic defense reaction in his gut, keeping his movements open and natural.
'Doesn't look too damaged.'
Krycek handed over the phone and studiously avoided Mulder's eyes as the agent made his call. The usual stab of jealousy when he heard Mulder say Scully's name shouldn't have surprised him any longer, but it didn't lessen the hurt. But when Mulder's attention returned to him, Krycek's face was a study in innocence.
'Let me treat you to a drink?' he asked Mulder. 'There's a nice little lounge just down the street.'
Mulder agreed. Krycek turned and led the way. He already knew he had won when Mulder had made no comment to Scully on Krycek's presence.
They sat in a corner of the lounge and nursed a cold beer each while Krycek talked about his new persona. He had even come up with a background on Vic Mansfield, the ex-cop who had left the Vancouver force because he could no longer ignore the rampant corruption in his own department. Alex chuckled inwardly at the gleaming picture he was painting for Mulder. A picture so unlike the reality of Krycek's sorry life.
Alex ordered two more beers. His body ached with need, but he counseled his libido to patience. Jumping Mulder now would not serve *Vic* at all. So he studied the familiar face across the table, taking in the hazel eyes, the large yet finely shaped nose, the lips that begged to be devoured. Studied, and lusted, and let not one bit of his feelings show.
The beer arrived. Krycek waited until Mulder had taken his first large swallow, then leaned forward and asked softly:
'So how long have you been in love with Alex Krycek?'
Mulder nearly choked. He wiped quickly at the foam that dribbled onto his shirt.
'What?' he gasped.
'It's written all over your face.' Alex put all the twinkle he could muster into his own teal green eyes. '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.'
'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.'
Alex noted Mulder's violent blush with secret amusement.
'God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean--'
'Don't worry about it, Mulder.' He slid his hand across the table and touched the fingers of Mulder's left hand. 'You are a very attractive man, you know.'
Mulder's color deepened. He tried unsuccessfully to reply. Krycek took pity on him at last, and pulled away.
'Now I'm sorry. I've pushed you.'
Krycek raised an eyebrow delicately. 'No? No, what?'
'You haven't pushed me.' Mulder took a deep breath. 'I never had sex with him. 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.'
Alex was tempted to tune out the litany. He reminded himself that he was supposed to be hearing this for the first time.
'The part that makes me the most angry, though,' Mulder continued, oblivious to Krycek's inner struggle, '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?'
Mulder's answer, though not really unexpected, still cut Krycek deeper than a knife.
'Dead. I hope.'
Alex lowered his eyes, fearful that Mulder would see too much in them. He took another drink and wrapped his borrowed identity around himself like a shield.
'So now that I've been assured there's no competition...' Alex's voice was low and deliberately provocative as he traced his long, thin fingers over the back of Mulder's hand and wrist. He sensed the other man's desire by the way he shifted on the bench and the undulation of his adam's apple.
'I g-guess we could take this conversation back to the hotel,' Mulder stammered.
Alex thought a moment, then asked: 'Would your partner recognize this Krycek?'
Mulder winced. 'Yeah. Maybe not such a good idea.'
'My apartment is down the block. Nice sound system, great view of the river. Very private.'
Alex had the charm turned on full force. He favored Mulder with the most devastating smile in his repertoire, laughing inwardly when the agent fell for it. The two men left the bar and walked down the street towards a new high-rise, close, but not quite touching. Rain insinuated itself into the collar of Krycek's leather jacket. He shivered, though not from the cold.
They took the elevator to one of the upper floors. Krycek unlocked the door to his apartment and left Mulder to drip on the carpet while he turned on lights and the stereo. When Alex returned from the kitchen bearing two glasses of wine, he was all apologies and solicitude.
'Here, let me take that.' He set the wine down and helped Mulder out of his coat. Alex could feel the heat of the other man's body, and felt himself respond. The soft, faded material of his blue jeans left very little to the imagination. He took the coat away, putting just the slightest lilt in his walk. Alex saw the heightened color on Mulder's cheeks as he came back and knew that his ploy had been successful.
He handed one of the glasses to Mulder and touched its rim with his own glass.
'To friendship.' Krycek's eyes glinted beneath incredibly long lashes. 'And maybe more.'
Mulder nodded and drank, while Krycek studied him. The agent was beautiful as ever, and Alex felt a pang of some unfamiliar emotion. To cover it, he set down his glass, stepped forward, and pulled off Mulder's jacket.
'You're overdressed,' he whispered.
Alex loosened Mulder's tie and a couple of his shirt buttons before stopping abruptly. 'Close your eyes a minute, okay? There's something I want to show you.'
He waited for Mulder to comply, then took his hand and led him to the picture window on the far side of the living room. Standing behind the man who had caused him such pain over the years, Krycek fought the sudden temptation to smash him through the glass and watch as he hit the ground fifteen storeys below. That would be fitting revenge, but not nearly as good as his original plan. So he massaged Mulder's shoulders instead and tried to keep his voice normal.
'You can look now.'
Mulder opened his eyes, drawing a quick breath at the scene below. Vancouver was laid out like a starry blanket, city lights made soft and romantic by the rain.
'Beautiful, isn't it? I never tire of the view.'
Mulder said something in reply, but Krycek had slipped his arms around the other man's waist and didn't hear him. He freed Mulder's shirt tail from his dress slacks and ran his hands over the bare skin beneath, paying special attention to the firm nipples. Mulder groaned and pressed backwards, grinding his ass against Krycek's swelling cock.
'I am so hot for you, Fox,' Krycek murmured, lost in the moment.
He realized his mistake immediately when Mulder flinched.
'You know I don't like being called by my first name, Alex--'
Krycek spun Mulder around to face him. Angry green eyes met startled hazel.
'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?'
Krycek continued to glare, hoping Mulder would buy it. 'I'm sorry. Vic. It just slipped out.'
'Okay.' Alex softened his expression. '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?'
Mulder leaned forward, eyes half-shut, his mouth an open invitation. Krycek obliged, running his tongue over Mulder's full lower lip. Mulder responded in kind, pressing the length of his body against Alex and exploring the younger man's chest and buttocks avidly.
'Easy, baby.' Krycek pulled away, grinning. 'We've got all night.'
He reached for Mulder's hands and kissed each one. The passion Alex displayed as he began to work his way down Mulder's body with his hands and mouth was real enough. Krycek had wanted this man ever since he had been forced by his previous employers to spy on him. The day they met, and Mulder had looked up from transcribing that idiotic surveillance tape, Alex had fallen hard. Only real self-discipline had kept him from grabbing the agent and treating him to a quick fuck right there on the desk.
Krycek unfastened the button on Mulder's slacks, and, in a moment of inspiration, pulled the zipper down with his teeth. Above him, Mulder gasped and swayed. Krycek grinned and lowered the silk boxers to claim his prize. Mulder's cock surpassed all his expectations, standing out proudly from his groin, an artwork worthy of Michelangelo. Krycek took a moment to lick the vein that snaked along it before taking it down his throat in one long swallow.
'Oh, god--oh--!' Mulder's fingers sought a hold in Krycek's short brown hair. 'Gonna come,' he gasped.
Krycek pulled away immediately.
'What the hell?' Mulder choked out. 'Dammit, Mansfield!'
Alex chuckled. He reached out and stroked Mulder's balls until they descended again.
'Patience, lover,' he soothed. 'I'm not through with you yet.'
He got to his feet, grabbed the loose end of Mulder's belt, and led the dazed agent towards the bedroom. Inside, Krycek let go long enough to close the door while Mulder took in the sight of the fancy sheets on the bed. Candlelight completed the seductive atmosphere. Then Krycek was there again, suddenly, and Mulder gasped.
Alex smiled. He tugged his grey knit shirt loose from his jeans and up over his head, feeling Mulder's eyes on him. Alex tossed the shirt aside and hooked his thumb in a belt loop, posing.
'Why don't you take off the rest of your clothes, baby?' he purred.
Mulder stripped so quickly that buttons flew. Krycek stifled a laugh and bent to help Mulder with his shoes. As he rose again, Mulder noticed the tattoo on his left arm.
'Chinese design,' Krycek explained, lifting and turning his arm to give Mulder a better look. 'The symbols stand for strength and determination, and this part is my name in Chinese: Lee Kwok Lai.'
'I like it. And the earring, too. Makes you look very rakish.'
Krycek fingered the gold hoop in his left ear with a grin. 'Thanks. Now let's see if I can live up to that image.'
He bent to remove his own shoes and socks. Then he made a show of unfolding his robust body and easing the zipper of his jeans down inch by inch. When he felt he'd teased Mulder long enough, Krycek pushed the jeans over his slim hips and let them fall. Mulder hissed sharply. Krycek's cock stretched halfway down his thigh, heavy and full, the head already leaking precum.
'Don't worry, lover.' The lie slipped easily from Krycek's tongue. 'I know how to be careful, and how to make it feel really good.'
He pressed Mulder down onto the sheets. Krycek wasn't able to tell which was smoother, the silk or Mulder's warm skin. The men wrestled and twisted together on the bed, seeking dominance of each other, until Mulder pinned Alex beneath him. Krycek gave in, closing his eyes as Mulder bit his nipples on a journey downwards to his real destination. He gasped when Mulder's mouth wrapped itself around his erection with surprising skill.
Mulder worked Krycek's cock with lips, tongue and throat, letting his hand take up the portion he couldn't actually swallow. Alex groaned with pleasure. Before he got too close, though, he pushed Mulder's head away and rolled to one side of the bed. He retrieved some lube and a condom from the bedside table and looked back at his lover with fire in his eyes.
'I want to fuck you,' Krycek rasped.
Mulder's quickened breathing was assent enough. Krycek pressed him face down onto the bed and opened the bottle of lube. He spread it generously over two fingers of his left hand and inserted them into Mulder's ass.
'Your hand is cold,' Mulder complained.
Krycek bit back a sharp retort, reminding himself who he was supposed to be. 'Sorry. Must be the lube.' He withdrew carefully and warmed the gel before slipping more of it into Mulder's rectum. Mulder thrust backwards in response, riding waves of pleasure as Krycek found and massaged his prostate.
Krycek grabbed for a tissue, wiping his fingers before unwrapping the condom. He stretched the latex over his cock with trembling hands. A sense of disbelief nearly overwhelmed him as he prepared to enter the body of this man he had sought so long and hated--loved?--so much. He thrust it away roughly. Undisciplined emotion had no part in his world. He knew too well that feelings were a quick way to an early grave.
Alex spread Mulder's asscheeks and positioned himself. He felt the agent shudder as he pushed forward into that tight, ripe bud. With an effort, Krycek stopped and leaned down to cup Mulder's face gently.
'I won't hurt you,' he promised. 'Relax.'
Mulder forced himself to take long, deep breaths. Alex stroked his back, murmuring soothingly, until he felt Mulder loosen enough for him to continue. That strange sensation he'd felt earlier had returned, and, though Alex couldn't define it, the swelling in his chest felt amazingly good. He lifted Mulder higher on his knees for better access and pushed again, delighting in the way Mulder opened for him this time.
Krycek stopped once more to allow Mulder to adjust to his size. When the agent began to squirm beneath him, Krycek obliged his request by withdrawing and re-entering in one long, deep thrust. Mulder's answering gasp was pure pleasure.
'More. Faster. Please...'
Alex set a hard, fast rhythm, losing himself in the grip of passion. He felt Mulder move with him, and clasped the older man's hands in his own. Mulder bucked frantically with every slap of Krycek's thighs against his ass, panting and crying out for more.
Krycek pumped into Mulder's ass once, twice more, and came so hard that he nearly lost consciousness. He fell heavily onto Mulder's back, then rolled to one side in a boneless heap. Dimly, he felt Mulder take his hand.
'Don't you dare go to sleep yet.'
Krycek summoned a smile. He rolled back over and applied his mouth to Mulder's dick, this time not stopping to tease. Mulder shouted and came, hot, salty fluid bursting into Krycek's throat. Alex lapped at Mulder until the other man pushed him away.
'Enough. I'm getting sore.'
'I did my job, then,' Krycek murmured. He wrapped his arms around Mulder and pulled him close. Mulder snuggled up to his chest, sweet and trusting. His even breathing soon deepened, until he was fast asleep. Krycek watched him awhile, unable to sleep himself. Watched him and held him and rocked him gently, crooning Russian lullabies, not fully aware of his own actions. He finally managed to drift off, waking again with the rising sun.
'Got to go soon.' He nudged Mulder. 'Work.'
'Mmm. D'ya hafta?'
'Afraid so, baby.' Krycek swallowed. He knew his next question would be difficult to ask, but he had to know, had to find out just how much Mulder had seen in Tunguska. 'Answer me something...if you can.'
'Krycek.' It still felt strange referring to himself in the third person. 'Where did you last see him?'
'I'd rather not talk about him, Vic,' Mulder grumbled, hiding his face in the pillow.
'I'd like to know. In case he shows up again, and tries to hurt you.'
Mulder smiled a little. 'Let's see. The last time I saw Alex was in Russia...'
Krycek half-listened to the familiar story, perking up only when Mulder said that he had gone back to where Alex was being held by the village men. He related how he had been too late, how he had witnessed the forced removal of Krycek's left arm with a hot knife and had been unable to stop the torture. When Mulder said that he had wanted to help, Alex believed him. The look in Mulder's eyes was too painful to bear.
Krycek glanced away. 'You're lucky,' he replied. He composed himself and turned back to kiss Mulder lightly 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.'
While Mulder got up to shower, Krycek made himself fix breakfast for the two of them. His thoughts continued to swirl around his mind in dark colors. He shoved them back into his subconscious as Mulder re-emerged, looking very boyish with his clean hair standing up in little spikes.
They ate in friendly silence. Finally, Krycek got up from the table and pushed Mulder gently towards the door, swatting him on the ass as he did so.
'Take care, lover.' He tried to keep his voice light. 'See you around.'
Krycek moved to the window and tracked Mulder's movements down the block until the agent disappeared around a corner. He closed his eyes for a long moment. When he opened them again, the sun had gone behind a cloud. Sighing, Krycek went to the phone to make his call.
Krycek sat on a bench in Stanley Park, nursing a bottle of Molson's. His contacts in the local Russian community had arrived as promised, helping him clean out his apartment and bribing the manager just in case Mulder did show up again and start asking questions. Krycek took another long drink and stared out across the park. It was done. He had carried out his plan, and gotten away with it nicely. One of the men he'd called had warned him that he'd been spotted in the bar with Mulder, however, and Alex absently fingered his plane ticket to safety.
The taste of revenge should be sweeter, he thought, after all the pain he had gone through. When Alex had heard of the experimental surgery being done in Moscow using artificial flesh and starfish DNA, he had called in his last markers to be put on the list. Through many hours under the knife and in physical therapy, the vision of Mulder's surprise at the realization that he had been sleeping with his sworn enemy had kept him going. Now he tried to conjure that vision, and it would no longer come.
Krycek was reminded of that computer game for kids, the one where the rat had to try to corner the cat without getting eaten. It had amused him, once. The trouble with the game was, no matter how many cats the rat stopped, it ended up trapping itself with no way out. Just as there was no way he could see Mulder's face again, so he would never be able to tell him how he truly felt. How, for a few moments suspended in time, he was able to believe that Mulder could forgive him the lies and deceit. How he might even be able to convince Mulder to love him.
The rain had ceased some time ago, Krycek noted, and couldn't understand why his face was wet.
Krycek sighed heavily and got up from the bench. He tossed the empty bottle into a trashcan and walked down the path towards the bay, where he stood gazing out over the choppy waves for a very long time.