The Sequined Snowman
"Come on," begged Alex Krycek, as his car coughed once again. Belching black smoke out of the exhaust, it weakly responded with a small surge forward before finally coughing its last. Groaning, Alex threw it into park and rested his forehead on his hand which rested on the steering wheel. Fortunately, he was more or less off the street, having begun to steer to the side when the car started to act up again.
For all of his expertise in many things, cars befuddled him. He could check and fill every fluid it needed and he knew how to change a tire. And of course, he could hot wire any vehicle that you put in his path. But that was pretty much the extent of his knowledge. Hell, he'd been surprised to find out that most cars didn't even have carburetors anymore.
This one, however, did. It was so old it was more rust than metal, which in fact was another testament to the age of the vehicle. No fiberglass anywhere in sight. Not that it was easy to see the rust, as the car was a brown color that nearly matched the rusty spots. Character is what the old man who sold it to him said it had. Alex felt he was fortunate that he'd actually made it last the five months he'd had it. He straightened up and looked around. He was probably going to have to get another car. He had enough money for a better one this time, fortunately.
Getting out of the car he headed for the nearest store. LIFE'S PLEASURES, stated the boldly lettered sign above the door. He snickered, thinking that if the location was just a bit different he'd be thinking the establishment were of an adult nature. But situated right next to an upscale children's clothing consignment shop, he doubted that was the case.
Bells tinkled as he pushed open the door and entered a room full of an eclectic mix of knick-knacks and other stuff. He gave some of them a cursory glance as he made his way to the check-out counter in the center of the room. He passed delicate wire butterflies, delicate blown glass animals, and delicate crystal vases. He unconsciously tried to pull his shoulders in toward his center, trying to make himself narrower so as not to knock anything off of their equally delicate shelves. 'You break it, you buy it', he repeated to himself over and over again. But just as he got to the counter, his eyes fell upon a holiday display off to the right. There were Santas, reindeer, nativity pieces, miniature Christmas trees and delicate little stars. But what caught his eye was a rotund sequined snowman. It stood about ten inches high and bore a red scarf and a tall black hat. Painted on eyes, nose and mouth with a body covered with white sequins. The sequins glistened in the artificial light of the store, making it look as if it were made with real snow. Everything about it was ordinary, but yet... there was something about it. He narrowed his eyes at it, wondering why it attracted him.
"Can I help you?"
His head whipped to the left. The middle aged lady behind the counter, gave him a friendly smile.
"Um yeah, I hope so. Do you have a phone book I could use?" he asked the woman whose name tag read 'Linda'. "My car died right out front and I need to get it towed to a shop."
Her smile faltered for just a moment when she realized he had not come in to shop. "Of course. Right here." She reached under the counter and pulled out a thick phone book.
He shot her a winning smile as he reached to open the book. "Thanks." As he thumbed through the pages, he asked, "How much is that snowman? The one covered in sequins?"
The woman looked shocked at the question. She'd bought the shop fully stocked five years previous, and the snowman had been there the whole time. No one had ever given it a glance before. In fact, she'd considered tossing it out many times, but for some reason had never done so. She actually couldn't remember how much he was tagged for, so she walked out from behind the counter to check. "Fifteen dollars," she told him.
He nodded at her as he pulled out his cell phone and punched in some numbers. After picking up a business card so he could tell the towing service the address, he hung up. "I'd like it," he said, "but I'd need to pick it up later on. Could you hold it for me?" he asked.
"I don't think that would be a problem," she replied.
"Great! Thanks!" He handed her some money. "Keep the change," he instructed. As he turned to leave, the door opened and a young woman struggled to enter, carrying several boxes. He hurried over and held the door for her.
"Thanks!" she said as she cleared the doorway. "Hi Linda!"
"Kaylee! Good! I was waiting for you. Can you man the shop for a while? I have to...."
Alex tuned them out as he turned around to give a final look at the snowman. Frown lines creased his forehead as he again wondered what it was about the snowman that appealed to him. Shaking his head, he went outside to wait for the tow truck.
(later in the day)
Hands thrust into the pockets of his trousers, Fox Mulder ambled down the sidewalk. 'Another week,' he thought. 'Another week in sunny California. But over Christmas?' He sighed, not really knowing why it bothered him so much. With no family to speak of, he really didn't do much celebrating anyway. He always bought something for Scully, and sometimes gave some of his old porn to Frohike, but that was about it.
Scully was the one he should really be sorry for. Christmas was a big deal in her family. And she had a lot of family. She was always running from one place to another on Christmas Eve day and Christmas Day.
Since she was stuck here in California too, at least until this case was closed, he though he'd better get her a card and a little gift to open on Christmas. Maybe that would tide her over until their return to the east coast. Spying a Hallmark store up ahead, he made his way over.
After finding the perfect card, he perused the gift items offered. Narrowing his choices down to three less-than-perfect-for-her figurines, he finally eeny meeny miny moe'd and took the winning figurine to the counter to pay. Wishing the cashier a Merry Christmas as he took his bagged purchases from her, he headed back into the warm sunshine.
He didn't feel like going back to the motel yet. They'd been working pretty much non-stop on this case, and this was the first day they'd finished early. Scully had the beginnings of a migraine and wanted to rest. He knew he'd be bored sitting in his room alone, which was why he was out roaming around the town.
He crossed the street and headed down the other side, peering in windows. He stopped the longest at the window of a small shop called LIFE'S PLEASURES, having seen a lace shawl draping a mannequin bust placed on a small table inside. It was lovely, and he knew Scully would adore it. And he knew for a fact that it would go perfectly with one of the dresses she sometimes wore on dates.
He pulled the door open to inquire.
Kaylee looked up as the door opened again. Yet another husband, boyfriend, or son searching for something unique to give to their wife, girlfriend, or mother. It was the only time men ever entered the store. She smiled at the man as their eyes met.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
"I'd like to look around a bit," Mulder replied.
He poked around the shop, finding all kinds of interesting things. In no time at all, his hands were filled with many of the items that caught his eye. About to drop them, he headed for the counter, but on his way stopped to look at a snowman in the midst of a Christmas display. He grinned at the sequin-studded snowman. He had to have it!
Finally making it to the counter, he dropped his items on it. "I'd like that shawl that's over on that table, and also that snowman over here," he indicated.
"Certainly," she replied. "We have some more shawls upstairs if you'd like to see them. They were made by the same woman, but each one is different."
"Yes, I would like to see them." Maybe there'd be an even better one to give to Scully.
"Linda!" Kaylee shouted toward the back. "Can you man the register? I'm taking a customer up to look at the other shawls."
"Sure!" replied Linda, coming out of the back room.
Mulder followed Kaylee up the stairs where he found a whole second level of merchandise for purchase. He took his time examining the shawls and other things that were for sale.
"Thank you, and Merry Christmas!" said Linda as she handed a bag to a customer. As the customer neared the door, it opened and Alex Krycek entered.
"Hi!" he said to Linda. "I've come to pick up the snowman."
"Oh! I almost forgot!" She walked to the display table and picked up the snowman. She found an appropriate box for it and boxed it up. Placing it in a bag she handed it to Alex. "Do come again. And have a Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas to you too," he replied, knowing full well he'd not be coming back to the store. As he pushed open the door, two elderly women, one with a cane and one with a walker approached as if to enter. He held the door open for them.
Kaylee and Mulder came back downstairs. She placed his chosen shawl on the counter with his other items. Turning to get the snowman, she saw that it was missing. "What the heck? Linda, what happened to the snowman?"
"I sold it."
"Oh no! This guy wanted it!"
Linda nodded toward the door. "Sorry, but that guy came in this morning and paid for it. I just forgot to take it out of the display."
Mulder looked to the door to see it shutting behind two old ladies. But through the glass he recognized the man who was walking away with the snowman HE wanted.
"Oh no you don't!" he muttered through gritted teeth, as he ran for the door, fists clenched.
"Sir!" Linda looked at Kaylee in horror. The snowman had sat there ignored for five years and now two men might fight over it? They both hurried to the window to see.
"Krycek!" Mulder shouted as he flew out the door.
Alex flinched as he recognized both the voice and the tone. He whirled around. "Mulder?" He was astonished at the sight of the agent.
"I want that snowman!"
Alex stared, stupefied. "I bought it."
"I know you did. But I want it."
Alex snorted. "Well, you're not getting it. I got to it first!"
"I mean it Krycek! I want that snowman, and I'm going to get it! I'll give you five bucks more than you paid for it," he offered.
Alex shook his head. "Even if I wanted to sell it, I wouldn't sell it to you!"
"No, Mulder! I bought it this morning. It's mine! You probably only want it because I do!"
"Don't be ridiculous," said Mulder, advancing on the younger man. "I didn't even know you were here! Why do you want it, anyway?"
"I just do. Why do you want it?" he asked, backing away.
"The eyes. They're alien eyes," explained Mulder, stopping.
Alex frowned. "Alien eyes?" He pulled the box from the bag and opened the top. Pulling the snowman partially out, he saw that it did indeed have the stereotypical alien eyes. "Huh. Figures you'd notice that." He hastily let the snowman slide back into the box completely as Mulder again advanced on him. He turned away from the agent and clutched the bag to his chest protectively. "What, real aliens weren't enough for you?" he jibed.
Mulder was close enough to touch him.
"Ten dollars over what you paid."
Alex shook his head. "Weirdo. No! The snowman is not for sale! It's mine! Now back off and leave me alone!" He started to walk away.
Mulder clamped a hand on his shoulder. "What would it take Krycek?" he spit out.
Alex stopped, trying to ignore the stirring in his body at Mulder's touch. "Well, not that, that's for sure."
Of course Mulder thought he'd been referring to the amount of money, but really Alex had been referring to the way Mulder'd said his name. He jerked his shoulder from Mulder's grip. "You are so clueless, Mulder. The truth, that's what I want from you. The truth! But that's something you'll never be able to give me, because you'd need to admit it to yourself first!"
"What? You're not making any sense, Alex. What do you mean?"
Alex's posture relaxed as he half-smiled at the sound of his first name. He stepped to Mulder's side. "Well," he breathed into his ear, "that's a start." And turned and walked away.
Mulder stood, frozen in place. For a minute he'd thought Alex was going to kiss him again. And even though he hadn't, feeling his breath on his ear as he'd rasped those words had him as hard as he'd been that night in his apartment. It seemed to be an automatic response to the presence of the other man.
'That's a start.' What did he mean? Mulder played back the conversation over and over until he finally reached the conclusion that it was because he'd called him by his first name. And that apparently pleased Alex...
Bemused, he went back into the shop to complete his purchase of the other items he'd chosen. The two women looked relieved, and he blushed, knowing they'd expected a fight. He was just glad no one had called for help.
Sitting behind the wheel of his car, Alex laughed to himself, just a bit giddy. The engine was idling as he waited for Mulder to come out of the shop. He wanted to find out where he was staying. It had to be fate that brought them both to the same town and the same shop, clear across the country. He intended to take advantage of the opportunity being offered.
He came alert as Mulder exited the shop and headed down the sidewalk. He kept walking, and Alex cursed. Where the hell was his car? He waited until Mulder was far enough ahead, then crept his car up to another parking space, being careful not to get too close. He repeated the process a few more times until Mulder finally caught up to his own rental and drove off. Alex smoothly pulled in behind him a few cars back and followed him to the very motel at which he himself was staying.
"Fan-fucking-tastic! The easier to spy on you Mulder..." Alex waited until Mulder had entered his motel room to pull into the lot and park. He chuckled to himself, finding that his own room on the second floor of the 'L'-shaped building afforded him an excellent opportunity to spy on Mulder's door.
Upon entering his room, he set the sequined snowman on the desk and looked at it. His subconscious must have registered the eyes. He and Mulder were apparently more alike than either of them would like to admit. He contemplated his next step. With the syndicate destroyed and colonization plans thwarted, he had no official reason to be hounding Mulder's every step. No, this reason would be purely personal.
He loved him. He was pretty sure Mulder had feelings for him too, but the question was, what kind? Was Mulder's attraction to him merely physical? Or did he enjoy the danger of consorting with the enemy? Could it be lust, a chance of conquest or could it actually be love? It was time to find out.
The room was dark, with only the light from the television illuminating it. Mulder was propped up against pillows in the bed, watching a movie that he really wasn't interested in. A light knock on the door startled him. He heaved himself up and crossed the room, foregoing looking through the peephole. The chain was already off the door, and he pulled the door open.
Instantly he tried slamming the door shut again, but Alex Krycek shouldered his way into the doorway, preventing him from doing so.
"What do you want Krycek?" he bit out. "You've got the snowman."
"I just want to talk, Mulder."
Mulder snorted. "You've got to be kidding. There is nothing you have to say that I even remotely want to hear!" He turned away in disgust and walked over to the bed.
"I'm offering visitation privileges."
Mulder stared. "Excuse me?"
"The snowman. You can come over and visit it whenever you want."
A giggle escaped Mulder. "Is this your way of inviting me up to see your etchings?"
Krycek didn't react the way Mulder had expected.
"I don't know. Would that work?"
Mulder was shocked into silence. Sunny California had most definitely gone to his head. Sunstroke? Or something. The two men stared at each other for a while.
Finally, Krycek spoke. "Hurry up Mulder. Do you want to see the snowman or not?"
"Well of course I want to see the snowman. If I didn't, I wouldn't have offered to buy it! But I don't want to visit it!"
"That doesn't sound like you want to see it. That's my offer, Mulder. Take it or leave it."
Mulder growled in frustration. "I want to own it!"
Alex turned away. "Too bad. I guess it'll be up to me to try to find out why it has alien eyes." He stepped from the doorway.
"Wait!" commanded Mulder, knowing full well he was playing right into Krycek's hands. "I... I do want to see it."
Alex had stopped, and Mulder knew a smirk graced the other man's face. Long-lashed eyes peered at him from over a blue cotton clad shoulder.
"Well, come on then! My room's just across the way." Then he disappeared from view.
Mulder remained still for a minute, then leaped off the bed and hurried after the man. He caught up just as they reached the door to Krycek's room.
He looked around upon entering and immediately spied the snowman. He took the few steps needed to reach it, but before his fingers could grasp it, Krycek slapped his hand away.
"Hey! You said I could see it!" objected Mulder.
"Yeah, but I haven't even had a chance to really look at it. Let's look at it together."
Mulder eyed him with suspicion as Krycek sat down on one of the two chairs. Carefully, he sat down beside him in the other. His attention was drawn to the snowman again.
"It's kind of heavy," stated Krycek. "When I first saw it in the shop, I thought it was made of styrofoam, but it's not."
Mulder hesitantly reached out and tapped it. Definitely not styrofoam. "Does it say who made it?"
Krycek turned it over. There were no markings whatsoever. He shrugged, putting it back down.
Mulder took the snowman carefully, and stared into it's alien eyes. "Weird," he muttered. "So realistic. They seem to be peering into my mind."
"I noticed that. Really creepy."
Mulder turned the snowman over and over. He carefully shook it. It appeared solid. He tried to take the hat off, but it was on firmly. "The sequins appear to be attached with small brads. The... wait a minute. I think something gave." He grasped the top and the bottom with both hands.
"What do you mean? Be careful! Don't break it!" Alex cried in alarm. He reached and knocked one of Mulder's hands off of the snowman then tried to grab it from him, but as he took a firm grasp, a current of electricity shocked them both.
"Aieee!" they both yelled. At the same time, an image formed in each of their minds. They gasped in shock.
"Let go!" cried Krycek frantically.
"I can't!" exclaimed Mulder. "You let go!"
"I can't either!" yelled Krycek.
The two men tugged and tugged. Finally Krycek used his prosthetic hand to pry Mulder's hand off of the snowman. Immediately the current stopped and the image disappeared. He dropped the snowman to the bed.
"What was that?" wondered Krycek, wide-eyed.
Mulder was shaking his head. "I don't know! Did you... see anything?"
"Like... a vision?"
"So you did. What did you see?"
"Um..." Krycek's eyes darted away. "Nothing in particular. Random images. You?"
"The same," lied Mulder.
"Should we... try again?"
Mulder flexed his fingers. "I don't seem to be damaged." He nodded. "Let's try again."
Krycek gingerly picked up the snowman. Mulder slowly reached out and grasped the snowman with one hand. Immediately the electricity coursed through their bodies.
"Are you seeing anything?" Mulder asked, voice quavering.
They fell silent, intent on the images playing in their heads. Mulder briefly wondered what images Krycek was seeing, because he was seeing them both in bed... making love. He could feel everything. He allowed himself to be drawn in fully, until their images climaxed. It was so powerful, it left him gasping. The current ceased and he looked at Krycek. He was red-faced and breathing heavily.
"Oh God," breathed Krycek, letting go of the snowman and leaping out of the chair.
Mulder grinned, a giggle escaping. But as he placed the snowman on the table, he looked down. His grin disappeared when he noticed a small wet stain appearing on the front of his trousers. He really had been 'feeling' it. And if Krycek had been seeing the same image...
Krycek was muttering, "Shit. Shit," in a panicky voice.
"Alex, it's all right. It happened to me too."
Krycek glanced down at Mulder's lap.
"I guess you were seeing the same images," said Mulder, his assumption confirmed by Krycek's glance.
Their eyes met. "Why do you think it made us see that?" asked Krycek.
Mulder shrugged. "I don't know. Unless..."
"Unless it was showing us the future."
Krycek blinked, contemplating Mulder's theory. "That doesn't seem to be upsetting you," he offered.
Mulder shrugged. "We were hot," he explained with a grin, waggling his eyebrows.
Krycek averted his eyes.
"Seriously Alex. I think it was just showing us the truth."
Their eyes met again. "You think so?" asked Krycek.
"Yes, I do. I don't know how or why, but I know it's something I've wanted for a long time."
"Yes. I just didn't know if you could feel the same way."
Mulder laughed. "It's funny. My whole life I've been searching for the truth. And when I finally find the right truth, it's from a sequined snowman." He looked over at the snowman standing innocently on the table and his eyes narrowed. "But I wonder how it works?" He headed toward it, but was stopped by a firm grasp on his upper arm.
"Later." said Alex. "First, let's see if we can make what it showed us work. Without its help," he said, his mouth curving up. He pulled Mulder toward the bed instead.
"I always knew you were a bright boy..." said Mulder, forgetting all about the mysterious, alien-eyed sequined snowman. And as they fell into the bed together, neither one of them noticed the snowman dissolve into nothingness, it's work done.