one of the Wise Men
by MF Luder
Christmas Day after How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
he week had gone from bad to worse. First off, it was Christmas, his least favorite time of year. It was even worse than Valentine's Day. While everyone played in the snow, decorated their homes, window shopped, and made love on the tree skirts, Mulder sank into a funk. His door was the only one not decorated on his floor. It appeared to be a black hole in the midst of all the gaiety-and that suited him just fine.
Christmas was supposed to be a time for families. He had none. Christmas had never been the same since Samantha had gone missing. His mother and he had never been close anyway, so after his father had died, he didn't go anywhere. Sure, he sent the perfunctory card each year and got the same in return, but it wasn't any more exciting or heartfelt than if they'd sent each other Labor Day cards. He didn't even have a church to attend. So he just got crankier as the time got closer to that final day.
And it had only gotten worse since Scully had been his partner. She reveled in the festivities. She loved going home and decorating, reminiscing with her family, shopping, and even tried her baking skills out with a new Christmas pie for her family each year. This year was cranberry-rhubarb. The combination made Mulder's stomach curdle, but he was positive her family loved it. Sure, he actually got a gift now each year because of her, but it was painful to see someone so happy. He usually went to the bars to join the other depressing losers of this world.
This year had been really bad. Work was hell. With Skinner breathing down his neck for reports and finance evaluations coupled with petty non-paranormal cases, it couldn't be worse. He'd been so excited to explore that haunted house. Finally, something worth while to do on Christmas. Unfortunately, Scully hadn't thought so. And in retrospect he realized that it had been very selfish of him. He had been so jealous of her family time and enthusiasm for the holiday, that he wanted to take it away from her. Cheap tricks, indeed. He snorted to himself. What a mess that had been last night. At least Scully had forgiven him, coming over later. But that only made his conscience kick in, leaving him thinking exactly what he was.
Since he had had no plans today, Christmas Day, he'd slept in. He almost wished Scully had invited him. Actually she had, in a roundabout way. But they both knew it wasn't serious; Mulder would get his ass kicked by Bill, or at the very least he would make the entire day uncomfortable for Scully and Mrs. Scully. And he didn't want to do that. Once he'd woken up, he'd gotten dressed in a blue button shirt and slacks and headed off to the J. Edgar Hoover building. One would have thought it was a different universe. The only people there were security guards and the few detectives who had to stay for the Christmas slashers. And they only did it because they were getting triple pay from the government. He'd nodded to Jim Brocher, whom he'd seen there every year since Mulder himself had started. Jim had lost his family to one of those Christmas slashers and had from then on spent every holiday working on cases rather than going home.
Mulder reached his office, but with no open files, and no one to talk to, he had given up after only two hours. That left him with thirteen more hours of this terrible day. He'd come home, and resigned himself to the cheerful Christmas music that blared from his radio. Awful as it was, at least it wasn't silence. And here he was sitting still, seven at night, the streets pitch black besides windows that glowed solemnly as families sat down to dinner, listening to Silent Night for the fifth time.
He was actually in his bedroom for once. The depressing box-filled room seemed better suited for his mood. He gazed balefully out the opened blinds watching as the red and green lights danced off the slushy road. Snow was falling slowly; thick flakes too wet to stick onto the road.
A noise made his head pop up. Was that someone at his door? Who would it be? Certainly not Scully. She would have called, right? He reached into his nightstand drawer and grabbed his FBI-issued gun out of it, just in case. Something wasn't right. All of his hair on the back of his neck was sticking up and goose bumps covered his forearms. He'd changed from his button up to a gray t-shirt earlier, preferring to be cold on a day like today, but these were goose bumps of anticipation. He crept towards his bedroom door.
No noise. Then he saw a shadow move. Too big for Scully. It turned toward Mulder and he had to swallow the bile that threatened to come up.
"What? Family not invite you to Christmas dinner this year, Krycek?"
Krycek stepped into the only light, which came through Mulder's living room window into the otherwise dark apartment, head tilted, eyes glaring dangerously, snowflakes melting in his hair.
"Like I'd tell you, even if it was your business."
"Well, from the way I see it, you have three options. A, you can leave. B, I can blow your head off, or C, you can talk. And I'm just itching to try option B so you'd better decide fast."
"It's always violence with you, Mulder. If I didn't know better, I'd say you got off on it. But it only seems to be with me. Unless you beat yourself with one hand too."
A sly smile crept across the bastards face as he moved to sit on Mulder's couch. Mulder felt his blood begin to boil. Memories flashed in the front of his mind.
"Can't we just talk? Like you've got anything better to do. Just not about personal history," Krycek continued slowly.
Mulder stayed standing but Krycek's lack of aggressive posture allowed him to lower the gun. Slightly.
"What do you want to talk about? The weather? Oh my, Krycek, look it's snowing on this wonderful Christmas Day. Ok, you can leave now. We're done."
Krycek shot him a patronizing glance and didn't move.
Mulder raised the gun again speaking in a forceful whisper. "With us, there is only past history, Krycek."
"We could talk about the future. Or why you never do anything for Christmas. Why you dragged Agent Scully off to a haunted house. On Christmas Eve. How romantic of you, Mulder," the man said with a roll of his eyes.
"Oh please. I've already been psychoanalyzed by ghosts. I don't need a cold-hearted assassin telling me how it is." He paused. "How did you know about that anyway?"
"Oh, you're a quick one, Mulder. Sometimes, I'm just blinded by your brilliance."
"You seemed to be once."
"Seemed being the keyword. I have never been blinded by anything," Krycek scoffed.
Nothing but your own ambitions, thought Mulder. Out loud he said, "What are you doing here? I didn't have a bad enough Christmas already? You had to come and make it worse?"
"Maybe I came to make it better."
Mulder grinned, humorlessly. "The only way you could do that is to save the planet from the oncoming alien invasion and get yourself killed in the process."
"Aw, don't fancy me as a living hero, Mulder? You prefer the tragic ones? Don't you think if I saved the planet, we could get over...whatever this is between us?"
"Gosh, Krycek," Mulder started mockingly. "You make us sound like two high schoolers controlled by their own hormones."
The man shrugged. He wasn't wearing his usual leather tonight. Instead he had on a lightweight black parka, not unlike he'd worn in Tunguska.
That thought made Mulder's stomach flip-flop.
"Really, what are you doing here? I've got enough Christmas cheer in me to not want to kill anyone tonight, but that doesn't mean I won't if you force me."
"How many times have you threatened me, Mulder? Told me you were going to kill me? And have you? No. You've had many chances to attempt. Yes, I say attempt because if I'd thought you would actually kill me I'd have had you pinned down so fast you wouldn't know what happened till I was through with you." Those eyes sparkled again, this time with something akin to excitement. Hell, maybe Krycek was the one who got off on violence.
"No, actually, I come bearing gifts. In the Christmas spirit and all."
"Nah." Krycek grinned for real this time and pulled a skinny bottle of vodka out of his parka, sliding the jacket off in the process. Condensation was just beginning to appear on the otherwise frosty bottle, no doubt from Krycek's body heat. Krycek wore a sweater, a deep emerald, the jewel tone complementing his skin. There was something about his left hand, something Mulder hadn't noticed before. It looked too perfect...
"Huh?" The other man said, blinking surprised at Mulder's outburst. Then he noticed where Mulder was looking. His eyes rose to meet Mulder's, challenging him to say something rude or pitying.
"What-what happened?" Mulder mentally kicked himself for that as soon as it was out of his mouth. Of course he knew what happened. It wasn't likely to have been a farm accident.
"Tunguska." Krycek shrugged, noting no outward hostility.
Mulder let it slide. "I think I will take a sip of that, Krycek. As long as it comes with no strings attached."
"We're men, Mulder. Do relationships between men ever come with strings?" He let a laugh out through his nose and winked. The man winked!
"I meant like my head."
"Mmmhmmm. I know what you meant, Mulder."
Was Krycek drunk already? Mulder didn't smell booze on him but what else would account for his strange behavior? He quickly grabbed the vodka from Krycek being careful not to touch him. He flopped on the other side of the couch, taking a drink. And spluttered.
"Careful, Mulder. This vodka's for the big boys. Straight from my homeland."
Mulder glared and took another sip. Smaller than the first. Not bad. The icy flavor made his head feel clearer. He passed it over to Krycek who knocked it back. Then the two men stared at each other.
"This music, Mulder. I didn't think you'd be a Christmas music fan, after all, you hate the holiday so much." Krycek jabbed a thumb in the direction of the radio.
"You'll find a lot of things about me surprise you, Krycek. I like to keep people guessing. Not unlike you." He exhaled sharply. "No, you're right. I hate it. It's too cheerful. But it's better than the silence."
He received an understanding nod.
"So really, Krycek..."
"Do I need a reason? Do you really have something else to do?"
"No, I just find this odd."
Another shrug. "Think of it as the bar coming to you this year."
More silence. A sigh escaped Krycek's lips without him seeming to notice.
"Do you ever get lonely?"
"Excuse me?" Mulder asked.
"I mean Christmas. It's supposed to be this joyful time of year. Look at all those idiots outside on the sidewalk oblivious to what's going on. They still believe in their amazing Christ child. They spend time with their families, waste money on frivolous gifts that won't matter tomorrow. I don't know what's more depressing; that they don't know what's going to happen, or that I'm not one of them." He took a breath, attempting humor. "Being an assassin is lonely work."
Not sure what to say and surprised at the honesty that coated Krycek's words, Mulder responded with, "So is being a FBI agent who chases aliens."
Both men smiled, something passing between them. A flicker of understanding. Something else. Mulder grabbed the bottle back from Krycek.
"Give me that."
Krycek let him grab it but Mulder noticed he moved closer. Whoa. He wasn't drunk yet. And he'd deduced neither was Krycek. What the hell was going on? But he found himself drawn towards Krycek too. He put the bottle down. He didn't need that anymore.
"So do you get lonely, Mulder?"
"What do you think? I'm sitting here with you. Course, I don't know if that's lonely or insane."
Another inch closer.
Krycek whispered something in Russian. His voice had gone from its usual higher tones to a low sultry tone. Mulder glanced out the window. The snow was falling faster blanketing out the lights in other windows. The shadows played on Krycek's face obscuring his features, not allowing Mulder to read what was happening behind those dark eyes.
Suddenly Krycek reached his good hand out, grabbing the back of Mulder's head and forcing his lips on Mulder's. For some reason Mulder didn't stop him. In fact, he leaned into it. Krycek's tongue was begging entrance and Mulder's lips parted on their own accord. Krycek kissed him sloppily, thrusting deep, almost as if he was afraid the moment would end and was rushing to feel it all. Mulder's tongue slid alongside Krycek's. After a moment without Mulder retaliating, he seemed to think it was alright that he let go of Mulder's head. Krycek let his one hand roam over Mulder's cheek, through his hair, down his bicep and around his waist, pulling himself onto Mulder, straddling one thigh. His fake arm dangled uselessly. For some reason Mulder's belly was on fire and he lifted his thigh, feeling Krycek rub himself on it. Noticing Krycek's obvious desire though, Mulder snapped back to reality. He yanked himself away regretting that when he'd sat down he had placed his gun on the table and couldn't reach it. He quickly rose to his feet.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Mulder was beside himself with fury. Anger at Krycek. He had pushed Mulder. What right did he have to even touch Mulder? Was this all a charade? Some new mind game? What the fuck was going on?
Krycek had followed him, standing, hand still around Mulder's waist, eyes dilated. He forced their bodies together and only then did Mulder realized he too, was hard. Now the anger was at himself.
"Get off." Mulder growled.
Krycek actually stopped and stared at Mulder. Whatever it was he read in Mulder's face shut down his own. His eyes went back to normal, that sexy and lethal glare with lashes lowered.
"Fine. Just fine Mulder."
But he didn't let go, not yet. Instead he sized Mulder up, eyes roaming over Mulder's body, pausing at his noticeable erection. Then he looked away, almost seeming hurt. Definitely looking angry.
"What were you thinking Krycek? I swear to God, you ever touch me again..."
"How many times have you laid your hands on me, Mulder? And why?" He let go of Mulder. "I just thought-I just..." He ran his hands through his short hair. "I don't know what I thought." He pushed away from Mulder and almost ran to the door, usual stealth giving way to seeming embarrassment, opening it and pausing for a moment. His eyes bored into Mulder, leaving a lingering impression; Krycek was an untamed animal and Mulder would live to regret whatever he had done tonight.
"Merry fucking Christmas, Mulder."
And then he was gone, shutting the door behind him and no doubt vanishing into the snowy night without a trace.
He'd left his parka on the couch.
Mulder sat down leaning against the couch in the dark, parallel to another night not so long ago. Only this time, instead of having his beliefs affirmed and hope instilled in him, this time his beliefs were shaken. Belief in himself. Belief that Krycek was a horrible man. An assassin and inhuman. That Mulder knew who and what he himself was. That he had a purpose. Anything beyond feeling such confusing sensations right now. He could still taste Krycek. He wasn't gay as far as he knew. Had never looked at men as anything besides another man. And that the first man he could be attracted to was Krycek...what a repulsive thought. But he didn't think that was the case. He tried imagining other men, ones he knew women would find attractive. Mental images appeared in his mind and he wanted to gag. He coughed and shook his head. But he couldn't shake that Krycek was more than he seemed. That something else was in him besides ambition and cruelty. For a few minutes he had indeed seemed human. And that thought made Mulder react. What a complex man Krycek was. Enough to make Mulder question himself. Or maybe Mulder was just crazy. Tomorrow, he'd tell Scully to lock him up.
And Silver Bells echoed from his radio.
"Merry fucking Christmas to you too."