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Miss January

by Aqualegia

 

Mulder was feeling distinctly uncomfortable in a pair of very tight blue jeans, black tank top, short black leather jacket, and black boots. This was his second full day pretending to be an unattached gay guy hanging out at the latest 'hot' places day and night. His trouble was that some of the people he was mingling with didn't seem to be able to keep their hands to themselves. He started as yet another hand pinched his ass, swinging his head he glared at the offender, a good looking man also dressed in jeans and jacket, then turned to push his way out of the club.

Once outside he walked slowly along the sidewalk, cursing the fact that Skinner had drafted him on to the task force. While he agreed that it was probably the best way to catch the killers who had tortured eight couples before killing them in the last seven months, he hadn't really wanted to be a part of it. The killers went after couples, straight, gay, lesbian, married or unmarried, each set of victims had been 'a pair' for anything from a few days to many years. Naturally enough, once the seemingly random events had been connected, the media had dubbed them "The Couple Killers" and had recently started to pillory the FBI for their lack of success. What made things really difficult for the lawmen was there didn't seem to be any pattern to the killings or the cities in which they had occurred. Their only real lead was that most of the victims had last been seen at either a nightclub or restaurant which offered entertainment. Therefore, the FBI had made some educated guesses and were staking out likely areas in a few cities.

He'd been summoned to the AD's office when he hadn't answered Skinner's call for all agents not engaged on urgent cases to report to the task force HQ. Much to his chagrin, he hadn't been able to think of a good enough excuse not to be co-opted. He'd been drafted as part of the floating 'back-up', because as he was no longer on the X-Files, and with Scully teaching at Quantico, he didn't have a regular partner.

In fact, he'd only had one temporary one since Scully had left, agents on wiretap duty didn't need a partner. The kid he'd been partnered with on the Cole case had been pretty sharp though, he hadn't managed to ditch him for long. Krycek had easily figured out where he'd gone and followed close behind him.

He allowed a slight smile to quirk his lips. If he was honest, he'd have to admit he'd quite enjoyed having the other agent as a partner. It had been such a refreshing change to be working with someone who believed his theories. Yet, it hadn't been blind belief, there was a sharp brain behind those pretty green eyes, and he'd questioned Mulder closely before he agreed with him.

I wonder if Krycek got caught up in the draft, and if so, what did they make him wear. Mulder's grin widened. The task force certainly wouldn't have let the kid keep wearing any of those fashion disaster suits, that was for sure. Maybe he ought to keep an eye out for him. He might not recognize the bod, but those eyes were unmistakable.

The sidewalk got more crowded, and while making his way through, a wandering hand brought his mind back to the task. Looking up he found he was almost outside the other venue he was to visit this evening. He pushed his way through the press of people to the entrance to the Stardust Club, paid his fee to the doorman, another agent he recognized from the briefing, and went inside.

The club was well patronized, and most of the dining tables were already taken. Up on the stage, a trio were playing a beautiful jazz version of "These Foolish Things". He bought himself a drink then scanned the room. He spotted a small table that was still empty, almost at the edge of the stage, and made his way over to it. When the waiter arrived, he ordered a meat and seafood platter, with fries and dips. If he had to be here he might as well eat well if nothing else. The trio segued into "Ain't Misbehavin'" and the audience listened in rapt appreciation.

When the song was over, the trio acknowledged the applause, then the keyboard player leaned into the microphone. "Thank you, thank you," he said, then held up his hand. "As you know, Carla our usual vocalist, is away on his honeymoon. So, this evening we are going to be joined by a new talent. Please welcome Miss Alexis January."

The audience applauded politely and a stunning vision in scarlet entered the spotlight. Well over 6 foot tall in the scarlet satin pumps on his feet, a sheath dress, slit to the thigh up the left side, glittering with every breath, sheer black stockings, long black gloves, a jet black choker and earrings, his dark hair parted in the middle, held back behind his ears with scarlet clips. His scarlet painted lips twitched as he walked to the microphone in a manner which brought gasps from many of the patrons, including Mulder. A predatory cat stalking towards it's prey would have been a better description.

The trio played the introduction to "Just One Of Those Things", and Alexis swayed to the rhythm. His husky tenor did more than justice to the song and the audience applauded wildly as he took his bow.

One of the waiters picked up the favours which had been thrown, and put them on one side as the trio started to play the introduction to the next song.

Mulder's dinner arrived but he almost totally ignored it, he was too fascinated by the man at the microphone. His body had sat up and taken notice as soon as he'd seen the tall figure dressed so seductively in red and black appear in the spotlight. He'd recognized Alex Krycek immediately, however, the awkward young man who'd been his partner for those few days was nowhere to be seen, this Alex Krycek seemed to be a totally different creature....

~*~*~*~*~

Brian Walsh, the Special Agent in Charge of the Washington task force, watched from the shadows as the young agent made his debut as a singer, and couldn't help smiling when he thought back to the day when he'd invited the hotel and nightclub owner, Stella Bennett, to the task force headquarters to ask her if he could plant some of his agents in her establishments. While she had thought over his proposals she had watched the hustle and bustle of the agents in the outer office through the blinds that shaded the floor to ceiling windows to offer their commander some privacy. As she gazed out her eyes had been drawn to a young man who got up from the desk and went to the coffee machine. She watched his every move like a hawk, the fluid way in which he walked, well built yet light on his feet, the muscles moving under his shirt as he poured coffee from the jug into his cup, and the return across the room.

She had gestured towards the young agent and asked if he was one of those he wished to place in one of her establishments, when he'd said 'yes', she had smiled and told him, she'd do it on the proviso that if the killers were caught, she would be given enough time to hire new staff before his agents were removed.

Knowing that was a very reasonable request, and a small price to pay for her cooperation, he had immediately agreed... and let her take the young agent with her when she'd left.

Walsh finished his drink and left the club, feeling slightly uncomfortable in the disguise he was wearing, to check on some of the other agents in place.

~*~*~*~*~

As she watched Alexis make her debut from the comfort of her private balcony seat, Stella Bennett found herself grinning from ear to ear. She could still hear his outraged "You want me to wear a what!" his voice rising with each word, the last coming out as a high-pitched squeak, when she and Carla had told him that his undercover assignment entailed wearing a dress.

Though more than one charismatic entertainer had spoken the words to a song, à la Marlene Dietrich, the fact that he could actually sing was the icing on the cake taken with the sex-appeal he exuded once you got the hair ungelled and the geeky suit stripped off him.

She looked down at the tables and noticed that many of the patrons had stopped eating and drinking to gaze almost adoringly at Alexis and felt doubly pleased that her instinct about the young man had been so thoroughly vindicated.

~*~*~*~*~

Forty-five minutes after she had arrived on stage to polite interest, Alexis January said good night, and left to rapturous applause and calls for more. Feeling elated she went back to her dressing room where Carla's dresser, Martin, awaited her.

"Well done," he praised as he unzipped her dress and helped her out of it. "Carla will be so proud of you."

Alexis grinned. "I couldn't have done it without your help too," she replied as she took off the scarlet spike-heeled shoes and sat down wiggling her toes, regarding the instruments of torture with disfavour. Though she had been forced to admit they did add that extra 'something' to the outfit, learning to walk in them had not been her idea of a fun time. She took off the gloves, then the choker and earrings, handing them to the dresser as well.

"Ms Bennett sent a message down a few minutes ago, asking if you would join her upstairs," Martin said, as he helped her remove the greasepaint.

Alexis nodded acceptance of the instructions, then applied ordinary make-up and dressed in her street clothes, an emerald green top, black mid-thigh skirt and matching jacket, and black knee-high boots. When she was ready, she climbed the back stairs and made her way to the owner's private balcony.

~*~*~*~*~

Fortunately for Mulder, a waiter had noticed his preoccupation with the entertainment and had brought a burner and plate cover to keep his meal hot. He ate quickly, keeping an eye on the door leading backstage and marked staff only, hopping to catch a glimpse of his ex-partner. After the meal he left the club and hung around outside trying, discreetly, to discover whether Alex had left already or if he was still inside.

Meanwhile, Alex had been given a light meal by Ms Bennett, she was well aware that he'd been too nervous to eat before the show, so she made sure he had something to eat before she allowed him to leave. She also made him promise to eat before a show in future, having got him to agree that it hadn't been so nerve-racking as he'd expected.

By the time Alex left the club Mulder, knowing that he had to check in with another agent, had already moved on to the next place he was meant to visit. He spent a totally boring hour or so being deafened in "The Dungeon", then made his way to his temporary home, wondering if Alex was living in his own apartment, or like himself in some accommodation provided to suit his cover. He sighed, not that he knew where Krycek lived anyway. For the short while they had been partnered, he'd practically ignored the man, resenting him for replacing Scully, only after he had killed Cole, who had seemed to be threatening his life, had he finally come to the conclusion he was being unfair to the man. By then it was far too late, they'd handed in their reports and gone their separate ways, so Mulder had never been given the chance to find out more about him.

As he settled down to sleep he determined that he was going to find out more about young Alex Krycek before too many more nights passed.

~*~*~*~*~

The next night, Mulder made sure he had finished his meal before the cabaret was due to start. A couple of the songs she performed were the same as the night before, but the majority were different.

After the show, because she had already eaten before the show Alexis, once she had changed, left via the staff entrance and walked through the patrons and out through the main entrance. Mulder almost missed recognizing Krycek, it was only because he got a good look at the profile as she passed nearby and he saw the ridiculous tip-tilted nose which had become so familiar during those few days sitting side by side in the car, in the archives and in the office.

Hurrying after the man/woman, 'Hell what should I call him, a him or her?' Mulder wondered distractedly, trying to sidestep a large man coming through the main entrance, who moved sideways in the same directed he did each time they moved. Losing patience, Mulder grabbed the guy's shoulders, swung them both round, and politely said 'good night' as he went on his way.

Finally out on the crowded sidewalk, he muttered imprecations about his 'dance' partner for delaying him. In this throng it was going to be difficult to see which way Krycek had gone. He peered over the heads of the crowd, trying to catch site of his quarry, to no avail. Just as he was about to give up, he saw another searcher grasp a nearby lamppost and hoist himself up to look for a friend. Pushing his way to another post, Mulder did the same. From his new vantage point, it was easy to spot that Alex was walking away from the club to the left. Mulder quickly went after him, running along the side of the road when he could, to catch up with the long-legged stride of his ex-partner.

Finally managing to get ahead, he stopped immediately in front of Krycek so that the other man couldn't miss seeing him.

Krycek halted at the last moment so as not to crash into the man who had appeared in his path. Suddenly he grinned, recognizing Fox Mulder, decked out in leather pants and jacket with a white T-shirt. Looking down as his own apparel, he murmured, "Do you think our wardrobe providers are trying to tell us something?"

Mulder looked at the tight, short leather skirt, leather jacket and white top the other was wearing, and grinned too. "I think we're a matched pair," he replied. "How about coming on to The Dungeon with me, I have to go there to check in, and I'll buy you a drink."

Rather surprised by Mulder's friendly attitude after the miserable time he'd had with him during the Cole case, Krycek managed to hide his reaction and nodded his agreement. "Okay, I'll let you buy me a drink."

"Great." Mulder turned and walked beside the younger man as they made their way towards the other club. After they had been walking for a few minutes, Mulder touched Krycek's arm and led him on a detour down a quiet side street. Pausing in a doorway where he was sure they wouldn't be overheard, he said quietly, "By the way, on this job I'm living in a nearby apartment block under the name of Paul Sutherland. How about you?"

Krycek grimaced, "Alexis January has a small suite in a hotel not far away from "The Dungeon" which is why I was walking this way. The hotel is owned by Ms Bennett who also owns The Langton Hotel and the Stardust, so it's not one of the places on the FBI's list of cheap places to stay. I get the room as part of my 'salary'."

"Should I call you Alex or Alexis?"

"Alexis. As my own apartment is not too far away, and I have often frequented some of the restaurants and clubs in the district, Ms Bennett, and Carla, whose place I have taken, thought it probably would be safer for me to be Alexis full time. It's a good disguise, even if it did take some getting used to. I've seen a couple of people I know who live near me and they've totally ignored me as Alexis.

Mulder nodded, then said, "That's one of the reasons they had me move; too many of the other tenants know me. That, combined with a rather unforgettable name, was thought to be too much of a risk. For once I totally agree with them, and with all the checking in procedures, even though they are a nuisance sometimes.

Alexis nodded and smiled wryly in agreement.

"Talking of which," Mulder went on after his companion's acknowledgement, "We'd better get going or I am going to be late checking in, and in the current climate that wouldn't be a good idea. I'm not exactly in Skinner's good books at the moment."

In companionable silence they started walking in the direction of The Dungeon again.

When they were in sight of the club, Mulder asked, "Do you have to check in with anyone this evening?"

Alexis grimaced. "Yeah. If I'm going to be out past Cinderella time, I'm supposed to phone "a friend" and tell them I can't meet them."

Mulder looked at his watch understanding the unasked question, then said, "In that case you'd better call your friend before we go inside as it's highly unlikely you will be home before midnight."

Alexis nodded and took a cell phone out of her shoulder bag; dialled a number and made her excuses to the friend, apologising for not being able to meet her.

The level of noise coming from The Dungeon was almost like a physical blow as they approached the entrance. Their gait slowed, putting off, if only for a few seconds, the moment when they would have to go inside, and their eyes narrowed as the reverberating bass assaulted their ears.

Pausing just outside the doors, they looked at each other, recognizing the same reluctance they were feeling, then grinned wryly.

Taking a deep breath, Mulder took the last step forward and pulled the swing door open to let Ms January pass inside in front of him. Mulder then paid the cover charge to the doorkeeper and they went through the inner door. As they pushed inside, Mulder grabbed Alexis and dragged her towards the bar to buy the promised drink. Fortunately they didn't have much difficulty attracting the attention of one of the barmen, so they were soon able to move out of the direct line of the speakers which helped cut the volume down a bit.

They placed their glasses on a shelf which surrounded one of the many decorated pillars which supported the roof and settled in to wait for Mulder's contact to appear.

From the outside The Dungeon looked like a nondescript warehouse, the inside though was a different world. The layout reminded Mulder of an old English cathedral he had visited while at Oxford. The entrance with the pay desk, was the vestibule the side aisles, stairs to the gallery and side bars at the back (hymn books, pamphlets) open area screened (organ screen). His musings were interrupted a man sidling up to his companion.

Suddenly Alexis's eyes opened wide, a hand was travelling up her thigh. Without even a pause for thought she swung round and punched the guy who'd been taking liberties.

The man staggered back, crashing into a nearby group of people. Conversation stopped as they waited to find out what the fracas was about.

Her eyes flashing green fire, Alexis followed the unfortunate who had dared to touch her. "Did I say you could touch me?" Alexis demanded loudly.

The man shook his head, wondering what the hell was going to happen next

Accepting the shake as a 'no' Alexis went on, "Then keep your hands to yourself; do it again and you'll have a broken hand. Are we clear?"

The man nodded frantically, wondering where he'd got the idea that this pretty transvestite would be easy game.

Giving the man one last glare, Alexis turned back to Mulder and ignored the crowd around them.

Mulder hid his grin in the glass he was holding, pretending to drink while he got his amusement under control. Alexis might look very feminine, but he'd bet a day's pay the guy she'd just hit wouldn't be able to chew properly for a week.

The level of noise in the club didn't make it easy to conduct a private conversation, so they confined their remarks to comments about the music and the clothes some of the other patrons were wearing.

After a while Mulder noticed something else about the space in which they were standing. The night before, when he had been alone, he had been hemmed in and jostled almost constantly, but now he and Alexis had a small, yet distinct, amount of clear space all around them. Secondly, the no-go zone seemed to be applying to him as well - maybe those who had taken a few liberties with his ass the night before thought that Alexis might strenuously object to them approaching him while in her company.

He snickered quietly to himself as he realized that no one wanted to accidentally touch Alexis in case she thought they were taking liberties. It was obvious that word of her violent exception to being felt up had spread to more than just those who had been standing near them at the time.

Alexis, noticing Mulder's sudden mirth raised an enquiring eyebrow, and shouted over the din, "What's got you so amused?"

Mulder's grin widened. "I'll tell you later," he yelled back, not wanted to provoke anyone by broadcasting the cause of his amusement to all and sundry.

"Okay." The reply was almost drowned out by a sudden feedback from the speakers which caused the crowd to wince in pain at the high-pitched squeal which was immediately followed by en eerie silence. Those who had been on the dance floor, which almost filled the centre square of the building, stood immobile for quite a while then drifted to the sides when the music failed to restart.

The buzz of conversation rose, many patrons speculating on the cause of the sound system's sudden demise. Two technicians appeared on stage and one plugged a microphone into the main amplifier, he adjusted some knobs, then clicked to mike to 'on.

"Testing, testing." He looked towards the entrance where someone obviously signalled that he could be heard okay, because he went on, "Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of the management I would like to apologize for the sudden breakdown of our main sound system. As yet we have not been able to determine the cause. In the meantime, we shall be using a backup system which should be ready in approximately five minutes. Thank you."

Mulder looked at his companion who shrugged, just as puzzled an anyone else why the sound system had failed. They stood drinking in silence for a couple of minutes until a man wearing glasses and a very pained expression on his face stopped at their table for a moment and put an empty glass on it before making his way out of the club.

Mulder drained his drink and shot a disgusted look first at the stage, then at the crowds thronging the bars.

"Let's go, I've had enough of this place tonight," he said, "It doesn't look as if we'll get another drink any time soon."

Alexis nodded her agreement and turned towards the exit, following in the wake of quite a few others who had probably come to the same conclusion.

"Where now?" Alexis asked once they were outside again.

Mulder grinned, "As your hotel is nearby, let's take a look at what the FBI wouldn't pay out for."

Alexis laughed and said, "It's about five minutes walk away, so it outside the noise zone of The Dungeon." She jerked her head to the left and said, "This way."

After about 500 yards, they turned left along another road which had very few pedestrians. Now she was sure that they wouldn't be overheard, she asked, "Was the guy with the pained expression your contact?"

Mulder nodded. "Yeah, judging from his expression the noise from that feedback must have affected the gear he was wearing."

"It was bad enough for us, without having surveillance gear in on the act. So, tell me, what were you snickering at earlier?"

"It was about the amount of space being left around us after you clocked that guy."

"Huh! Why?"

Mulder grinned. "Yesterday I stood in the same place, and could barely move my arm to lift my glass to take a sip of my drink. It was the same when we first arrived there tonight; however, after you clocked that guy, there was almost an arm's length of space between us and the crowd." He grinned again. "It was as if they were all afraid that even accidently brushing past you would elicit a... a knockout punch from you; and thinking that was what made me snicker."

Alexis threw back her head and laughed. "I see," she muttered after getting amusement under control.

While they were talking they found themselves under scrutiny by two cops in a patrol car, which afforded them some more amusement. The fact that they were laughing and talking probably marked them as acquaintances in the cops' eyes and the patrol moved on without bothering them.

Alexis smiled. "Carla said I should really take a cab home, rather than walk, and I did a few times at the beginning of my 'training', and I did last night too, I was a nervous wreck before I went on stage and felt drained of energy by the time I was ready to leave. But I found the walk helped me to... wind down after the strain of the rehearsals, they were hard work."

"How did you get the job?" Mulder enquired, puzzled at such serendipity.

"Carla Winters was going to Hawaii to get married and have a honeymoon. Ms Bennett was looking for someone to step in for the time Carla was going to be away when SAC Walsh asked her if she would take some agents on to her staff. I was working in the outer office and when she left, after agreeing to help, the SAC told me to go with her as I was being placed undercover in the night club she owned.

When she and Carla were teaching me how to behave like a femme, I asked her why she had picked on me..." he paused, and shook his head at the recollection.

"What did she say?" Mulder prompted.

Alexis laughed, "She said she liked the way I walked."

"Is that all?"

"Yeah.... I got the job because she liked the way I walked."

"But what if you couldn't sing?"

"I asked that and she said that it didn't matter, that presentation and delivery have more to do with success than a good voice. She cited Marlene Dietrich as an example."

Mulder laughed, then said, "You have to admit she has a point there, I don't think I would call Dietrich's singing voice 'good' either."

Up ahead, Mulder could see a hotel sign and asked, "Is that the place you're staying?"

Alexis nodded, "Yes, the Palm Court Hotel. According to the night clerk, Mr Langton gave it that name as a joke and it stuck." He led the way through the foyer out into the open air courtyard and up the stairs to the second floor to room 221.

While Alex unlocked the door, Mulder looked over the balustrade into the courtyard below and was pleasantly surprised by what he saw. About two thirds of the space was taken up by a swimming pool. A cafe/bar, surrounded by tables and palm trees filled up most of the rest of the space.

Noticing Mulder's preoccupation, Alexis said, "There's also a gym at the far end on the first floor, where I've been working out every morning."

Mulder turned and grinned, "I see what you mean about being above FBI standards.

"Wait until you see the inside," Alexis replied with a grin ushering his guest inside, flipping on the lights and closing the door behind them.

Mulder looked around and whistled in surprise at the size of the accommodation.

He was standing in the right hand corner of a large living area. Most of the wall to his left was taken up by a large window and against the wall to his right was a long desk, part of which was a TV and video cabinet. A well cushioned chair was pushed into the kneehole of the desk.

Beyond the desk was a couple of bar stools in front of a breakfast bar, dividing the kitchen from the living room. The rest of the furniture in the room consisted of coffee tables, comfortable chairs and a sofa. Another half wall on the other side of a central passage, marked the beginning of the dining area.

"The bathroom is just behind the kitchen and the bedroom is through the door at the end of the passage." Alexis had gone into the kitchen and was looking through the contents of his refrigerator. "I wasn't expecting guests, I've got some OJ; Bud or Corona, um - Malvern Water or I could make tea or coffee."

Mulder licked his lips then tasted the inside of this mouth couple of times, and decided that he had enough alcohol. "I'd like coffee, please."

Alexis filled the coffee maker with water and set it to percolate, then came and slumped in one of the arm chairs. Showing a lot of thigh, she brought first one foot, then the other, in reach of a hand to undo the ankle straps, then pull down the zip so she could push her boots off to land with a thump on the floor. Sighing with relief, she stretched out her long legs and wiggled her toes.

Mulder couldn't help smiling. On more than one occasion after a long day on her feet, he seen Scully do exactly the same thing.

"You know," Alexis said meditatively, "I have two pairs of these boots, same make, same size, the only difference is the colour. The light brown ones are comfortable, but these black ones aren't."

The sound of the last of the water gurgling into the pot broke the companionable silence.

Alexis padded into the kitchen, poured coffee into two mugs, put the mugs, milk, sugar and some biscuits on a tray and carried it into the living area where she placed it on the low table in front of the sofa.

"Help yourself to milk and sugar," she said.

Mulder grunted his thanks and pushed himself forward to dump milk and sugar into the steaming coffee.

Alexis took a sip of the hot liquid, then said, "I'm going to get changed, I'll be back in a few."

"Gonna slip into something more comfortable eh, Ms January?" Mulder asked, a comic leer on his face.

"Yeah," she replied breathily, batting her eyelashes and laughing as she walked away towards the bedroom.

Mulder's laugh died in this throat as he watched the leather clad ass wiggle away from him down the passage.

Putting his mug back down on the table with shaking hands, he briefly considered doing a bunk before his ex-partner reappeared, then realizing that would look really odd, he tried all sorts of mental images of dead bodies he'd seen to calm his libido.

Not more than five minutes passed before Alex returned looking younger than ever. Barefoot, his hair, still wet from the shower, tucked hind his ears to stop it flopping forward. Dressed in well washed 501's and a Kennedy Space Center 'Blue Planet' T-shirt. Flopping in the chair, he said, "At least they let me bring some of my own clothes with me."

Mulder smiled sympathetically, "They wouldn't let me bring much either."

"Do you think these undercover operations will really work?"

"Probably... eventually."

Krycek raised his eyebrows. "Eventually?"

"From what I could gather, there are a lot of cities they weren't able to cover. If you think about it, the FBI just doesn't have the number of personnel to cover every place the killers could strike. Here in DC we have a lot of agents, so we are able give a fair amount of coverage. However, even with our resources we can't cover every club, bar, restaurant, or movie theater; it's just not possible. So far there hasn't been any discernible pattern to their selection of victims, or the place from which they have been abducted." Mulder shrugged and took a cautious sip of his coffee. "Unless they leave an unmistakable clue, or we get very lucky and catch them in the act... statistically the numbers are on their side. Also, all the hullabaloo in the press about the law's lack of success... and the people who seem to feel the need to pander to the press by issuing statements are not helping."

Krycek gave him a sympathetic smile. "There will always be somebody who will try to make political capital out of these types of situations.

"You're getting cynical Alex."

"No more than you are."

Mulder laughed, then yawned widely. "Sorry. I think I'd better start on my way home, I obvious need to get some sleep."

"You can stay here if you like, there's plenty of room."

"As long as you don't mind me crashing on your couch."

"The bedroom has two king-sized beds in it. I'm using the one nearest the balcony so you're welcome to use the other one."

"Thanks... I'll take you up on that offer," Mulder replied around another yawn.

Which made Krycek yawn. "It's catching. Come on, I'll take you through and find you a T-shirt and boxers you can wear."

Mulder drained the rest of his coffee then followed Krycek into the huge, luxurious bedroom. "Wow!" he exclaimed, looking around while his host rummaged through a drawer and found him some night wear.

Handing over a pair of cotton boxers and a short sleeved T-shirt, Alex waved Mulder off into the bathroom, to have a wash and get ready for bed. After watching a his one case only partner disappear behind the closing door, he wondered briefly if he had lost his mind asking his walking wet-dream to not only stay the night, but to share his bedroom. Closing his eyes for a moment, he shook his head then gathered the T-shirt and shorts he was going to wear as the door opened and Mulder came back into the bedroom. Taking a deep breath Alex wandered into the bathroom, making a point of not looking at his guest's assets as he went past.

Alex determindly put Mulder out of his mind, and got into his bed making sure that his back was facing his ex-partner. He stretched and yawned, thanking whatever diety was watching over him that he was so tired he couldn't keep his eyes open.

Mulder climbed into 'his' bed, switched off the table lamp between the beds, and turned his back on Alex, trying very hard to put him far enough out of his mind so that he could get some sleep; which he did, eventually.

~*~*~*~*~

At exactly 09.00 in the morning their mobiles started ringing in unison. Both men shot up in bed to make a grab for their phones, recognizing that for them both to ring at once meant that there was an emergency. They listened intently for the duration of the recorded message from SAC Walsh, which told them that another pair of bodies had been found and that the victims had been dead for a number of days before they were found. The last three words of the message being, "Breakfast at ten."

Alex and Fox looked at one another, then Alex jerked his head in the direction of the bathroom. "You go first, as I will also have to put my makeup on before we leave. Just remember we have less than an hour to get ready, and arrive at the rendezvous."

Mulder shrugged. "Do you get the feeling that someone is panicking about something, and we are going to get a briefing about it?"

"Yes, I think the commotion may well be caused by 'a something has gone drastically wrong scenario'. I can't see this sudden briefing being anything else. They've found two bodies... What if they're cops?"

Mulder paused in the doorway to the bathroom and looked back over his shoulder, a very unhappy look on his face. "I didn't like to say it, but I think so too." He disappeared inside the room and closed the door behind him."

~*~*~*~*~

Fortunately for Alexis' peace of mind, they left the hotel with more than enough time to complete the short walk to Mike's Place so they didn't have to hurry. They had just passed the halfway mark when Alexis nudged Mulder, and quietly indicated the group of people who seemed to be keeping pace with them. Mulder immediately pulled out his phone and acted as if he were answering a call, when in fact, he was making one. As soon as his contact answered, he said, "Do you have anyone trailing us at the moment?" He was silent for about thirty seconds, then went on, "In that case, we could be in trouble. We're nearly at the door of Mike's. Should we come in, or do you want us to go somewhere else?" He listened again, before saying rather loudly, "Okay, we'll see you in a few minutes." He put the phone away again, then hurried Alexis the last few yards to the place where they would be eating their breakfast.

They ordered their breakfasts at the counter, then Alexis allowed Mulder to usher him to a table with six chairs, where Walter Skinner was sitting at one end eating his meal. Mulder pulled out a seat for Alexis, then sat down opposite Walter. "Good morning, Mister Goldman, how are you today?"

Skinner swallowed his mouthful of food, before replying. "Good morning Mister Sutherland. I am we'll, thank you." He paused for a moment, then barely whispering, asked, "Are you sure these people are following you."

"I believe so," Mulder replied equally quietly. He turned slightly and raised an eyebrow at Alexis, who nodded, then said:

"Yes, that was my impression as well. There were three couples when they walked towards us on our side of the road; once they had gone past, they reformed into groups of three. One group crossed the road and stayed abreast of us, the other group followed along behind us... and are, in fact, reading the menu outside. I can see them in the mirror."

"Hmm. We can't arrest them for appearing to be following you. I suggest that you both activate your transmitters before you leave here. Then, if you should get taken we can follow without making them panic and killing you before we can come to the rescue," Walter replied. "Changing the subject slightly. Two of our undercover people were found dead early this morning in Erie, Pennsylvania. According to first reports, they have been dead at least a week, and from the method used, we are pretty sure it's the work of "The Couple Killers" as the press calls them. The couple were well hidden, so we're trying to keep the find quiet for the moment. The black out will only last a few hours, but it will give forensics a chance to investigate without the media looking over their shoulders."

The orders for Mulder and Alexis arrived and they stopped talking until they had assuaged their hunger, while Walter told them what he wanted them to do, and where he wanted them to go, so that they could keep them in their sights. When they had all finished their meals. Walter then went into the mens' toilets and, after a couple of minutes, Alexis and Mulder followed him. He had them switch on their transmitters to make sure they were broadcasting properly, having already briefed the specialist tracking units about the reasons why the trackers had been initiated. Walter then returned to his seat, whilst the other two went up to the counter to pay for their meals.

Once outside Mike's they turned left as instructed and followed a course that would eventually take them to a shopping mall where, if they arrived, Agent Williams would give them further instructions in the queue for Ben and Jerry's.

They were mostly silent while they were walking, trying very hard not to take any notice of the two groups of people that were still walking in the same direction. They turned left again at the next corner, then right at the next one, where they came face to face with three more people holding tranquilizer guns who immediately shot them. The people behind them rushed forward to catch them before they could fall. A large white van pulled up just in front of them. They were hustled inside and laid on thin mattresses before the vehicle pulled away, and Mulder just registered the van turning right at the end of the road before he lost consciousness.

~*~*~*~*~

Walter's phone began to ring, he pressed the take call button and put it to his ear. "Goldman." he said.

"This is David Green, Sir. They've been taken."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, Sir. Their signals turned right at the end of the road, and they are currently moving southwest at thirty miles per hour."

"Stay on the signal, but don't get too close."

"I'm on it, Sir."

Walter cut the connection and immediately chose another contact from his list. The phone rang twice before it was answered, with "John Silver, Sir. We have the signal moving southwest. There's a big junction coming up soon, where they have a chance to change direction." There was silence from the chopper for a while, and Walter listened in on another conversation taking place between Brian Brown who was sitting up front beside the chauffeur, and Jeffrey Blue who was in a car approaching from the east to join the pursuit of the kidnappers.

After the multiple reports, there was a long silence, and Walter found himself praying to whatever deity would listen that his men had not lost track of Mulder and Krycek.

"They've turned south, Sir." Silver reported. "They're in... Fourteenth Street."

"I've just turned into the traffic in Fourteenth," Green reported. "I was delayed at the last set of lights."

"Blue, where are you now?" Walter asked, trying to preserve his calm exterior.

"I'm just east of Thirteenth Street, Sir," came the instant reply.

"The quarry have turned south down Fourteenth, from New York Avenue."

"I'm on Independence, so quite a way south of them at the moment. Any instructions, Sir?"

"Park somewhere, and get Silver to tell you when they are approaching, then you can tag along with them."

"Yes, Sir. Blue out."

From then on, Walter listened as the van was followed further south along Fourteenth Street, then along 395, going southwest, then south again on I95 and fair fax county Parkway until it took a right turn into Terminal Road, in Newington, Virginia.

Agent Blue, reported that the van had gone inside one of the small warehouses there.

For the last half-an-hour, Walter had been co-ordinating with his senior agents what their part they would play in the upcoming raid. As soon as Walter relayed the location, the agents swept into action.

Being completely unaware that they had been followed, the six men and three women inside the warehouse didn't know what had hit them, they were overwhelmed by the number of people with guns that appeared from all directions, and were taken into custody.

Mulder and Krycek were taken to hospital, and kept there until Doctor Marston gave them the all clear: which came only after they had both eaten lunch and he had given them a thorough checkup before signing their release forms, and warning them they needed to rest until at least the next day.

When they joined him in the limo, Walter asked if they felt up to continuing the charade they had been playing, just in case these guys turned out to be opportunists and not the kills that they had been after. Both Agents assured him that they were up to the challenge, but that the Doctor had told them not to return to work until tomorrow, just in case they had a second reaction to the drugs.

Walter nodded his understanding, then arranged to drop them off where an agent driven taxi would take them to their temporary homes.

"Just one drop-off, Sir," Mulder said, "Krycek's hotel suite has two very large beds in it. I suggest we keep an eye on each other that way."We can walk backwards and forwards to the Stardust together, safer that way I think."

Walter thought about it for a few minutes, then nodded. "Yes, I think that's a good idea. I'll get the patrol patterns amended accordingly."

~*~*~*~*~

After being dropped off, Krycek phoned Ms Bennett and gave a short résumé of the days' happenings, and that he had been ordered to rest by the hospital's Doctor. Once he had her commiserations at the ordeal, and her permission to take the night off, he put down the phone and turned to his companion with a grin on his face.

"I don't know about you, but I think I could do with a nap."

Mulder barely had time to nod, before Alex grabbed his hand, dragged him into the bedroom and shut the door behind them. Pulling the startled man into his arms, Alex said, "I've seen the way you look at me. I know you want me; and I want you... we need to go to bed...." Mulder leaned forward a little, cutting off anything else that Alex might say by bringing their mouths together in a passionate kiss.

Without breaking contact, Mulder steered them towards the nearest bed, and very nearly toppled them over, before Alex drew away slightly and panted, "Clothes... wearing too much." They let go of one another just long enough to get naked, then they crawled into a sixty-nine position and passionately sucked their lover to completion.

After a while, Alex turned to put his head on the pillow beside Mulder's and pulled his new lover into another kiss. "I love you," he murmured.

"I love you, too Alex."

They kissed again, then they pulled up the bed-clothes and settled down to sleep in each other's arms; secure in the knowledge that they would never willingly be apart again.

 

THE END

 

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