A Warm Place Out of The Rain
By Ursula

 

Mulder walked Scully to the door like an older brother. She looked lovely. She wore a straight cut diaphanous coat over the green slip dress, allowing her to look a little more covered than the revealing lines of the simply styled garment intended, but she still looked ravishing. Mulder could see every curve of her through the fabric as she stood for a moment in front of her date. Duncan MacLeod, history professor, dojo owner, and antique appraiser seemed to appreciate the view. He was slightly shorter than Mulder, a dark complexioned man with handsome strong features, smoldering brown eyes, a sensuous smile and a look of lithe, almost smug, sexuality. Hell, under different circumstances, Mulder would have been jealous of Scully.

Today however, he was depressed. His thoughts were preoccupied with Alex Krycek. The last time he had seen the man was in his apartment where his lost lover and hated enemy had knocked him flat on his ass, kissed his cheek, muttered "Good luck, my friend" in Russian, and turned to disappear from his life.

The rain, the unceasing cold rain, hit the window as gusts of wind drove it with near gale force against the hotel window. After staring at the view for a while, Mulder opened his lap top computer, plugged it into the courtesy phone line at the Home Hotel and prepared to work. He looked up a few references on the current case, a run of the mill boy meets girl, boy eats girl, serial killer investigation. The accidental juxtaposition of the titles in the newspaper amused him. "Remains of Third victim of the Duwamish River Cannibal Found" "Successful and Innovative Menu Choices Make Republican Fundraising Banquet Unique"

Mulder guiltily hooked into a web site with the blaring catch line: "Male Escorts: Beautiful, discreet men on line, Why be alone tonight?"

Not bad, he decided, clicking on the picture of a running back type who wore a Sea Hawks jersey, a gleaming smile, and nothing else. He was blond and blue eyed and his resume said that he liked "Being a top escort". Mulder decided he was not in the mood to be topped. He perused the next row of possible and then decided to check out the search engine. He winced as he entered his choices, "Green eyes, dark brown hair, tall and well built, white, bottom, and bondage." Yeah, Mulder, he chided his self indulgent inclinations 'might as well add, "Speaks Russian and carries gun, must love this country"'

Lovely, he thought, as he saw that his choices had narrowed to six men. He clicked one picture, hmm, a little young. The next one was willowy, weak chinned, although he had a pretty mouth and nice eyes. The third, oh my, it couldn't be. The listing said, Rod, middleweight contender, open to extreme possibilities. He had dark brown lustrous hair, green eyes, luscious curling long soot-black eyelashes, a beautiful sensitive mouth, a perky nose, and a soulful look.

Mulder called immediately, his fingers trembling with eagerness. The man checked and said, "Yes, sir, Rod is available tonight. Do you wish to book him? How long will you require his services as an escort?"

Mulder replied, "Three days, off and on, but I will pay for all of his time. Oh, and have him pick up a Sears suit and a striped tie. Put that on my credit card too."

Mulder could hear the snicker in the man's voice as he filled in his blanks, but he didn't care. He hurriedly shed his suit and went to take a shower. He couldn't get his erection down without gratifying it, so he just waited, his hard on tenting the fresh suit he had put on. The tentative knock made his cock leap. Oh, god, more perfect than he ever could have hoped. Mulder restrained an urge to punch the escort, but he did pull him inside abruptly.

Rod must have been used to such tactics because he made no comment. Mulder said, "Uh, I'm Walter. You're Rod?"

"Rodney" the man said, his eyes shyly down cast. He was wearing damn near the same suit that Alex Krycek had been wearing the cursed, blessed day that he had walked into Mulder's life.

Mulder's knees went weak and he sagged onto the bed. Rodney shuffled his feet; he seemed depressed, reluctant, and withdrawn. He asked, "Is the suit what you wanted? Do I get to keep it?"

Mulder smiled and said, "The suit is perfect. Rodney, I think we should go to bed and then I'll take you out to dinner some place."

Rodney shrugged and said, "You bought three days. Uh, I have classes tomorrow...I was wondering if I could still go to them?"

Mulder nodded and said, "I have to work during the day. I just wanted to make sure you were available during my whole stay."

Rodney seemed mildly complimented about that. He started to tug the tie off. Mulder said, "I want to do that. Let me undress you."

First to look at him, the long, shapely legs, the round plush ass, the bulge outlined at his groin...so perfect. Mulder carefully untied the knot in the striped tie. Yeah, it was an untidy mess just like Alex used to make. Mulder held the two untied ends, tugging them lightly. Rodney flinched.

Mulder's brows quirked and he said, "Hey there, not going to hurt you."

Rodney exclaimed, "Oh, I thought you were going to choke me. A lot of times customers like to do that."

Mulder closed his eyes, that voice was perfect, husky, low, sexy, and just a trifle rough. When he reopened his eyes, he let the red striped tie fall to the lushly carpeted floor. He unbuttoned the first button on the crisp, new white shirt and the second. He parted the material. He could see a pulse beating in that long, grace note of a neck. He kissed Rodney there. He licked and delicately nipped his way around. His hands pushed the jacket off Rod's well-developed arms. The cloth whispered its way downward. He looked at Rodney's face. Rodney was passive within his embrace. His eyes gazed emptily at the ceiling. Mulder wondered what made him sell his body in this way? Rodney seemed to hate it.

Mulder continued to undress his doll like "date". Rodney looked away as Mulder slid off the suit pants. Mulder knelt and saw the shiny shoes. He encouraged Rodney to balance his foot on top of his knee and untied the first shoe. Black socks, just what he had ordered. He ran his fingers, tickling down the large, but well-shaped foot. He rubbed his face catlike against the muscular leg. Rodney looked down as if surprised. Mulder finished undressing the man and stood back. Other than a scar or two, this was Alex's body, just younger. Mulder held out his hand and Rodney took it in silence. Mulder led him to the bed, tumbling back the sheets.

Mulder undressed, standing over the beautiful man who looked like Alex. He hung his suit carefully and crossed the room naked. Rodney stirred, laying an arm over his face. Mulder froze. The sight of him was lovely and it hurt. Opening his shaving kit, Mulder took out condoms and lubricant. Rodney asked, "You want me front or back?"

Mulder said, "Do you know how to make love?"

"What do you mean? You mean have I been fucked before? What do you think?" the prostitute replied.

Mulder got into the bed and clasped Rodney's arm to turn him side-by-side, face-to-face. He said, "I mean, make love. Kiss, fondle, caress, leading up to a wonderful, mutual pleasure."

Rodney's laugh was a short disgusted bark. He said, "It's your money."

Mulder noticed that Rodney tasted different when he kissed him and his reaction was different. Alex made kissing an art form, he should have written a pillow book on the subject. This man was passive, almost flinching back. Mulder realized that however many men had been allowed to fuck this lovely whore; no one had touched his heart or even aroused his passion. Mulder decided that, before he left this city, he would make Rodney remember him with pleasure.

Mulder wondered if Rodney had the same sensitive spots as Alex. Behind those elfin, close-set ears, immediately under the chin, ummm, apparently, yes, because Rodney arched suddenly and, when, Mulder glanced at him, the man blushed. Mulder caressed over and over a certain spot on the arm until the touch became almost a torment for Rodney and certainly, a tantalization. Finally, those nipples, Rodney had beautiful nipples just like Alex had. Mulder outlined them with his tongue and nibbled. He was gentle. He could feel a ridge of tooth shaped scarring. Someone had bitten Rodney hard there. Mulder played with one nipple as he suckled the other. He licked his way downward, finding the prominent abdominal muscles fascinating. He moved to the minimal curve where the torso delved into the groin. He inserted his tongue, traced the little demarcation until Rodney squirmed and laughed.

Mulder looked up and said, "You have such a nice laugh."

"I do?" the man said, "I don't laugh much." He reached out to stroke Mulder's hair and asked, "Is this it? I mean; are you going to soften me up with this nice stuff and then, hurt me?"

Mulder said, "No, Rodney, no hurting. I am going to make you feel good."

Rodney laughed again and said, "That's my job."

Mulder said, "It's what pleases me."

Mulder explored the heated salty, musky wonders of that groin. His mouth and stroking fingers found remembered places, but again the taste was different. He asked, "Are you clean, Rodney? No diseases?"

Rodney replied, "Yeah, but I won't let anyone fuck me without a condom..."

Mulder said, "And I won't even try that. I just want to go down on you bare. Sit up a bit and watch me. You'll like what you see."

Rodney's sounds were so muted, so wondering that Mulder knew that he was penetrating the crass commerce of this arrangement. "Uhh," Rodney moaned, tossing his head against the pillows and disheveling the shining hair. He rubbed his nipples harder and harder as Mulder sucked until he was literally pinching them. His gasps became louder as he twisted his hips and tried to lunge. Rodney finished with an almost convulsive tremor. He lay gasping and Mulder crouched over him, enjoying the results of his efforts. When Rodney caught his breath, he said, "Oh, man, that was wow. And you are paying someone to do this to me?"

Mulder said, "Rodney, you are worth a hell of a lot more then money could buy."

"Yeah?" he asked

Mulder said, "Yeah"

Rodney said, "I want you to do me now. I'm all relaxed and everything."

Mulder was ready, but he wanted to take this slowly and carefully so he would see enjoyment instead of pain on that familiar face. This was heaven and hell to him, tasting the seeds of the pomegranate that would keep him in Hades. He knew from the first that this was madness. He should be doing everything in his power to forget his betraying, murderous, treacherous, passionate, heart-searing former lover.

Who was he kidding? He would never have anyone like Alex again. This fantasy with a paid player was as close to paradise as he would be allowed.

Mulder encouraged Rodney to lie on his side, propping a leg on a pillow to keep him comfortably open. His exploring finger found signs of scarring. Poor Rodney had been hard used for rough trade. He decided he would coax this man open as if he was a virgin. His finger found the spot and he stroked until Rodney was catching his breath at every touch. His second and third fingers gradually stretched the well-lubricated flesh. Now, he turned Rodney, smiling to see the returned erection. Rodney adjusted himself on the pillows. His face looked serious and earnest as if he wanted to please Mulder very much, but wasn't sure how. Mulder remarked, "You are beautiful."

The faint frown creased Rodney's nose in such a familiar way. He tossed his head against the pillow, the luxuriant hair glowed in the light; the red tones were like garnets set in onyx. Mulder resolved that he would at least make an attempt to sort out whatever mess had forced Rodney into this situation. Right now, right now, Mulder could resist no longer. He steadied his cock with one hand, holding Rodney open with the other. He went slowly, waiting as Rodney adjusted to his slow thrusts. Rodney's face wore a sheen of sweat. Mulder felt what always drew him to this act, the tightness, the heat, and the resistance of his partner's strong male body as he penetrated. Mulder moved slightly until Rodney squirmed beneath him, writhing in abandonment.

Mulder watched Rodney's face, both to savor the likeness to his Alex and to see that he wrought changes to the whore's indifference. When he paused, not wanting this to end yet, Rodney growled with frustration and said, "Don't stop now. Move, please, move."

Mulder said, "Your wish..." He knew he would not be able to hold back longer, but he didn't have to restrain his orgasm. Rodney was groaning and clutching the sheets. As Mulder came, he heard Rodney's keen and he enjoyed the rapid pumping of Rodney's ass against his groin. They fell apart, gasping like runners at the end of a marathon.

Rodney reached for him after their breathing leveled. "Never thought it could feel like that." He remarked, then he kissed Mulder and, after all, he did know how to kiss. He was not in Alex's league, but he was sweet.

Mulder had a new Lexus as a rental car. It smelled so clean that the pine tree that bobbed from the mirror was a mere affectation. Rodney asked, "You like jazz?"

Mulder shrugged. He wasn't devoted to any musical genre. The truth was he lacked a passion for music and just maintained enough awareness to pass in social situations. Rodney said, "There's a great club in the town, where I used to live. The food is great and the crowd is sophisticated. If you want to touch me, no one will notice."

Mulder capitulated. He drove to a store first and bought Rodney a pair of jeans and a good sweater. Gouts of rain still poured down, swamping the front end of the car at times. Soggy leaves occasionally blew against the windshield, plastering the glass like specimens on a slide. Rodney sat in his new clothing, looking much more at ease. Mulder asked, "What are you taking in college?"

Rodney replied, "Addiction intervention counseling. I get an associates degree and my certification so I can be a counselor. I'll be the first in my family to have a college degree." He sounded very proud and Mulder squelched his elitist reaction to the idea of a community college education.

Rodney said, "Used to have a bad drinking problem and I gambled too. That's how I got in this mess." Rodney winced as if he had said much more than he meant to reveal.

Mulder asked, "Is it money or something else?"

Rodney looked at him with those huge green eyes. Mulder had the irresistible urge to help this man from his situation. Maybe, if he had really sat Alex down, honestly confronted him and offered to help then he would still have him as a lover instead of as an addictive madness. Finally, Rodney ducked his head, tucked his chin low and said, "Both. I had gambling debts and this guy bought them up. He died and I thought I was free, but I found out he had a nephew who knew every dirty secret his uncle had. One day he showed up, announced that he was my new owner. I have a sister and they threatened her too. So I do this until he says that we are square. Sometimes I think the only way out is to mess up my face and body so no one will want me."

Mulder replied, "That would be a desecration. You tell me everything you know about this man and I'll see what I can do. Listen, Rodney, about situation here. You don't have to do anything for me if you don't want to do it."

Rodney said, "No, I mean, I want to get some more of that. I never liked it with those guys but I like it with you."

Mulder grinned and reached over to caress Rodney's leg before having to use both hands on the wheel again. Some idiot in a big truck swerved into his lane, sending a blinding wave of rain onto his windshield. He grumbled, "How do people stand all this rain?"

Rodney shrugged and said, "You just get used to it."

Mulder shuddered and said, "I wouldn't. No wonder the suicide rate is so high not to mention the number of serial killers who locate to this area."

Rodney blithely replied, "Yeah, we get the crazy ones. Right now, we got some kook beheading people with as sword. I was looking at statistics one night and beheading is the leading cause of death in Seacouver, the town to which we're going. Weird, huh?"

Mulder pursed his lips. Yes, that was strange. It was a wonder that there was not a task force assigned to that one. Of course, the Northwest had so many unsolved murders that every cop could have been assigned exclusively to one series. Mulder asked, "Did you hear about the Cannibal murders?"

Rodney said, "Sure, we were discussing it in class. We thought it was someone driven mad by school cafeteria food. The food at my school is a crime in itself."

Mulder laughed at that. They talked about Rodney's classes and Mulder was oddly envious about the man's enthusiasm for his education. Mulder's only doubt about college was Oxford against Yale rather then ever doubting that he would attend a cream of the crop school. Rodney revealed that he had been a middleweight fighter, but had quit because that was how he was drawn into gambling in the first place. "Besides", Rodney had said, 'Why risk brain damage if you are never going to be rich enough to afford a full time nurse when you are fifty?'

Joe's Bar was atmospheric in the best way. It reminded Mulder of the English pubs he had visited when he was in Oxford. It was dark enough to be intimate, but light enough so you didn't accidentally sit at the wrong table. He noticed a long nosed man with truly lovely eyes splaying his long legs out like an invitation as he sat at the bar. He was bantering with the proprietor, an oddly handsome older man whom Mulder would have picked to play Socrates without a qualm. They were joined by a beautiful youth, a hyperactive blond man who didn't really look old enough to be legally in the bar. The kid had various bar settings lined up, twiddling with them as if he was trying to demonstrate the battle plan for Gettysburg.

The music was tolerable. Rodney seemed to actually enjoy it. The food was out standing and the beer was excellent. Overall they had a very nice evening until MacLeod walked in the door with Scully on his arm. She briefly gave Mulder a "What are you doing look?" before her gaze turned to Rodney and her red lipstick outlined mouth gaped with shock. Mulder quickly said, "Scully, this is Rodney uh ..."

Rodney smoothly shot in with "Lange. I guess I look like somebody you know."

MacLeod snorted and said, "There's a lot of that going around."

Scully had recovered and said, "Oh, Mr. Lange, you really do look like a man with whom we worked, but you're younger."

Mulder uncomfortably avoided the accusatory stare in Scully's eyes. They had never discussed his affair with Krycek, but Scully knew him more intimately in every way, except sexually, than anyone. He said, "I was just going to drive Rodney home. He's a student so he needs his sleep."

MacLeod looked interested and remarked, "Rodney, does that mean you're in college?"

Rodney replied, "Yeah, taking classes to be an addictions counselor."

MacLeod said, "I'm very glad to hear that. Please tell Iris hello for me."

"Sure, MacLeod," Rodney replied.

Mulder's cheeks were burning as they left. Rodney's huddled position and averted face in the car finally drew him out of his own problems. He said, "Rodney, you had no way of knowing that my uh coworker was going to be at Joe's. We were having a great night. Let's just forget that incident. I'll deal with her in the morning. Will you come back to the hotel with me? You don't have to do it, but I would like to have you spend the night."

Rodney nodded at him and said, "Yeah, I want to."

Mulder forgot for a while how much like Alex this man was. When he took him to bed this time, it was Rodney that he held and Rodney that he kissed. Those shining green eyes and that small delicate mouth delighted Mulder and he didn't compare them to his traitorous darling's, not much at least. Of course, later, he lay awake and he could only think about Alex. Where was he? Did he often lie awake like this and dream about Mulder?

Rodney cried out, "No, no, please? Please, don't!"

Mulder carefully touched the man, "Rodney, it's fine. You're safe. Shh, calm down, no one will hurt you."

Rodney blinked and reached for Mulder. The covers fell away from him and he shivered pitifully. Mulder drew the blanket around them both as Rodney reached for him. Rodney muttered, "I'm going to miss you when you leave."

Mulder replied, "Maybe I can sort things out for you. It sounds like your Mr. Coleman and his heir had some ties to organized crime. Let me see if anyone is watching the bastard. There's witness protection..."

Rodney shook his head and explained, "I have a lot of credits and I'm not giving up my name. The bastards took everything from me, but my sister and that. No more, I won't back down any more. Iris, my sister, she has a guy, a nice ordinary guy wanting to marry her. If we run and hide, she loses that and, hey, it's all she really wants, just a little dream, but it's her dream"

Mulder rolled over to lie on top of Rodney, feeling the warmth of skin touching along their entire length. He stroked the cheeks, found indentations where smile lines would hopefully form, and then, rolled over bringing Rodney with him so he tumbled on top with a small throaty laugh. Spontaneously, Rodney kissed him. Rodney said, "You know, part of me wishes it could be like Iris, you know. Someone like you just rushes into my miserable life and scoops me up and out of this gutter. I know better, but I'm going to keep this, man. I'm going to remember." His voice dropping to a sultry whisper, Rodney said, "Do you think I could make love to you now? Can I do what you did?"

Mulder said, "Yeah,"

"Don't want to hurt you." Rodney said, "No one ever let me before. I mean, not that I wanted to do it until I met you."

Mulder said, "I'll teach you"

In the morning, Mulder did not want to get out of bed. He did not want to put on his suit, cloak himself in the garb and manner of his work. He wanted to stay in bed with this man who looked like his lost one yet was innocent despite his whorish status. Sighing, Rodney dolefully announced, "Sociology 105. The teacher gives a snap test in the first ten minutes so there goes a tenth of your grade point if you miss one. Got to go."

Mulder kissed Rodney, pressing him into the door. He asked, "Can I see you tonight?"

Rodney grinned and said, "What do you want me to wear tonight?"

Mulder braced his arms on the doorway and replied, "Anything I can take off you quickly. Okay, go ace that test, genius."

 

Scully's lips looked swollen. Hell, as they passed a mirror in the hallway, Mulder noticed that they both looked debauched. He paused and pointed. Scully said, "Hell, they'll be saying we sleep together again."

Mulder shrugged and said, "Well, it's a cover for me."

Scully sighed and said, "Mulder, it's always about you."

Mulder smiled again. Scully said, "Hopefully, your Rodney only has his appearance in common with Krycek. For one insane minute, I thought it was Krycek. Christ, couldn't you have fallen in love with someone normal like Skinner or what was that cute little lab geek's name?"

"Pendrell, and he lusted after you, my dear, not me." Mulder replied.

"Not my type, Duncan MacLeod is my type." Scully said.

"I go for the tall, dark and conceited type myself." Mulder commented.

Scully snapped, "He's a very sensitive man, intelligent, sexy, and mature. He doesn't try to hide behind junior high smutty jokes for one thing. He knows what he wants."

Mulder snorted and said, "Okay, I'll lay off you and you lay off me. Deal?"

Scully said, "Deal. So, what were you thinking about our serial killer, oh great profiler?"

Mulder said, "The usual, race, white, the victims were all Caucasian woman, mid twenties to early thirties, attractive enough that he must have something, charm and looks, to get to them. He has an off wheel vehicle, something common enough to be unremarkable. There was no penetration except with objects; I'm going to suspect he's impotent or not capable of normal sexual acts. The bites will be great evidence once we catch him."

Scully added, "We know he has great teeth, no unevenness at all in the bite marks."

The head of the special task force was a lumpy man, massive shoulders, a bulging stomach, which strained his shirt buttons, and a hairline going for the middle of his head. Ridges of wrinkles defined his broad forehead and his lower lip drooped like Huckleberry Hound's. Ed Aspen was an unhappy man. He announced, "Just a call on another one. Grab some waders and let's go. This one is floating."

The Duwamish River meandered through the urban setting like a little old lady, bewildered and lost, on her first visit to the city. Warehouses turned blind eyes on the banks. Scrub trees and thick bush growth overran this area, but there were trails, enough to make it obvious that people came and went.

Mulder darted to the side, noticing a scrap of material. It was a rag of a blanket, one of those thick, composite things handed out to the homeless. He wrinkled his nose as he went deeper. There was a deserted nest in there for a human rodent. Empty cans of foods, stale, moldy bread, and collections of cigarette butts marked the site as a long-term home for someone. Mulder could see the abutment and the overhang created a sort of concrete cave for an urban troglodyte.

Aspen yelled, "Mulder, you going to check the crime scene or beat your meat in the bushes?"

Mulder grinned and yelled back, "Coming..."

Scully's mouth was twitching as he rejoined the group. Mulder said, "Someone was living in there until very recently. He or she may have seen something."

Aspen snorted and said, "Yeah, we'll look into it for all the good it will do. You see Washington State had this grand idea that people have a right to be crazy if they are not presenting a clear and present danger to themselves or others. We cleaned out our mental hospitals out onto the streets. They got the freedom to starve and live in bushes."

Mulder was a little sensitive on the subject of mental health hospitalization so he didn't answer. Besides, by the number of empty liquor bottles, this person's problem was alcohol not mental illness. He said, "Have someone check the prints any way."

"You got it." Aspen said.

Mulder winced as he saw the body. She had been pulled to shore. She was nude. The ligature marks were plain, deeply embedded on her body although the item was gone. Mulder stepped close enough to observe that it was the same outline as he had observed on the other corpses. He thought it might be an electrical cord. The bites were numerous. The killer was truly a cannibal.

Following his hunch, Mulder hovered over the finger print technician for a computer match. The record spewed out a lazy length; impressively stretching it's flimsy paper for at least a foot and a half. The arrests were all petty crimes. The last residence was a homeless shelter. Mulder called up a picture and winced. The possible witness looked demented. A straggle of blackened nubs marked the remains of his teeth. His white hair hung in ragged curls, lopsided as if he had caught it on something or cut half of it before someone decided he shouldn't be trusted with scissors. His eyes looked as if they should have spun with crazed circles in an animated cartoon. His shoulders were narrow, crooked peaks and his neck looked like a turkey neck after it was boiled for Thanksgiving gravy. He was as thin as a living skeleton.

The shelter was cooperative once Mulder presented the court order. One of the victims had been the niece of a popular judge. Warrants were amazingly easy to come by. The stout, African American woman at the desk yelled, "Rodney!"

Mulder startled, thinking it was a coincidence, but it was not. Rodney galloped down the corridor and skidded to a stop before the desk. He was wearing a long sleeved sweatshirt, which was wet, very wet. He announced before he saw Mulder, "Char, that new guy passed out in the shower. He's awake now but I called detox to get him because I don't like the way he's breathing."

"Good, Rodney, this is Agent Mulder. He's a consultant on those horrible killings and he thinks that Mr. Redmond might have seen something. Is he back?" The stout, well-dressed woman asked.

Rodney had recovered well. He didn't even blink as the woman said, "Agent Mulder, this is Rodney Lange. He's volunteering for school credit. He knows Leroy Redmond very well. He might help you to make sense out of his ramblings."

Rodney nodded and said, "Yeah, I was surprised to see him so early in the season. He usually camps out under that overpass until the frost is thick every morning. He's going to be bagged ice one of these days."

Rodney didn't acknowledge their night in any way. He was bright and conniving. Maybe, he and Alex did have a gene pool in common. The possible witness, Redmond, was only fifty years old, but he looked a thousand. His skin was an unhealthy yellow and his middle protruded in a round swell as if he was pregnant with his own death. Rodney whispered, "Liver damage and he's almost a wet brain, brain cells corroded by alcohol beyond repair. You got to kind of get into his stream of thought and go with the flow until you get him back where you want him."

The small room was furnished with a battered desk and three chairs. Mulder took the one behind the desk. It rocked a little and the green vinyl had been repaired with layers of duct tape. Redmond huddled in another of the hideous chairs and picked at another rip in the bilious upholstery. His rheumy, sunken eyes wept tears and his venous hooked nose dripped green mucous which he sometimes wiped on his sleeve no matter how often Rodney handed him a tissue. Rodney had chosen to sit on the edge of the desk. His round, jean-clad ass was a subtle distraction, but Mulder tried to concentrate on his work.

Rodney could get the man to talk. Redmond said, "I used to be a fighter too, kid. They eat you alive. Yep, use you up and throw you away."

Rodney looked at Mulder and said, "I know, so hey, Redmond, how come you aren't still in your camp?"

"Lousy neighbors woke me up, loud truck, thumping. I went to look and he was dragging his missus naked to the river. Not decent, if you ask me."

Jackpot, Mulder exulted. He hadn't lost his touch after all. Mulder asked, "Redmond, what did your neighbor look like?"

"Big fellow in a slicker. I would like one like that; yellow like the water utility people wear when they check the drains. Had a nice coat a few weeks ago, but some bum took it. Class of people on the streets these days. Used to be people knew each other." The man said blearily, "Man, you got you a honker don't you? Nose like that you ought to be a cop. Nosy cop, get it?"

Mulder grimaced and said, 'Mr. Redmond, did you see the vehicle the man drove?"

"Wasn't driving no vehicle." Redmond said, wiping his nose with his sleeve. Rodney helpfully interjected, "What kind of car?"

"Kid, wasn't a car. It was a truck. Big ass black truck...old one with stuff in it. I just went up to take a look. Didn't take nothing." Redmond said.

Mulder decided to have Redmond placed in protective custody. Rodney followed him outside and said, "You know, Redmond does steal."

Mulder said, "I know. I saw his records."

Rodney said, "I know where he keeps his shopping cart when he's here. You want to take a look? I'm off here anyway."

Mulder grinned and said, "I think so. Are you done for the day? I'm ready to catch some dinner. I worked through lunch."

Rodney said, "Yeah, but I can't afford anything much."

Mulder said, "Well, you just became an informant so I can put it on my expense account."

Rodney guided him to another warehouse by the river. They had to get out of the car and walk a distance along the riverbank to come to a sheltered place, where the cart was hidden by bushes. Rodney explained, "They can't take their things with them into the shelter so the lucky ones have a stash like this."

Mulder drew out two pairs of rubber gloves and with distaste sorted through cans, bottles, half smoked and bent cigarettes, reeking blankets and clothing stiff and brittle with grime. Mulder poked through an assortment of bags while Rodney did the same. He was uncomfortably aware of how familiar this felt as if he had Alex back as his partner. Rodney said, "Oh, man, look at this...city worker ID. You got 'em, Mulder. Wow, I feel like I'm on NYPD Blue or something."

John Hartness was a tall, strongly built Caucasian male. He owned a truck, a ten-year-old black Toyota. He had never been married and had lived with his aged mother until her death according to the records that Mulder pulled up. Unfortunately, there was not too much evidence. The only hope was that this man was a collector.

Luckily for them, the 'protect your own' instinct still operated with the judge who handed out search warrants for the work locker and the home. The house was in Georgetown, a paint-scaled Victorian monstrosity with a tall spiked iron fence. The grass stood in soggy clumps around the house and brown remains of rose blossoms hung from untended bushes. Hartness wasn't home. Mulder moved behind Scully and the local police, waiting to see if his hunch had paid off and his luck had lasted. They crept down rickety stairs, expecting a charnel house, but finding rows and rows of homemade preserves. There was a supply of slickers, more than any reasonable man could have needed. All of them were bagged for evidence. Mulder also noted the case of rubber gloves and nylons that could be used to keep hair follicles from being left on the victims. However, the killer was a secretor so his effort was foolish.

A small, but tough looking, Indian woman was the one that found the evidence. She had the attic to search and had found a supply of blood stained underwear and swathes of hair hidden in the hollowed lid of a trunk. She stood akimbo with her hands on her narrow blue-clad hips. Her dark brown eyes reflected weary triumph as she said, "I think we have him."

Mulder read the badge and said, "Good work, Officer Harrington."

Captain Aspen added, "Good one, Linda. You are going to make detective yet." His round face reflected his relief. He added, "Agent Mulder, you are as good as they said you were."

Mulder said, "Yeah, but you have to catch him first before issuing your press release."

Mulder waited at the house, an occasional thought of Rodney keeping him warm. Around midnight, Hartness drove up in his truck. Surrounded by armored and armed officers, Hartness surrendered anticlimactically without a fight. Mulder listened with a certain satisfaction to the officer, reading the man's rights. This might not be saving the world from alien invaders, but at least it had a neat and tidy end.

Scully said, "Congratulations, Mulder. I have to say, this time it was you."

Mulder said, "And Rodney. He works at a homeless shelter and led me to where the witness left his stuff, including the wallet he removed from Hartness' truck."

Mulder nodded to Scully and said, "I'm done. I'm going back to the hotel."

Rodney was waiting, a sleepy heap in the hotel bed. He emerged with his hair deliciously tousled, pushing back the stubborn lock that tumbled towards his eyes. He stretched, ripples of muscles moving just so. Mulder thoughts sank to groin level and didn't want to return to higher functioning. He said, "No classes tomorrow. You want to tell me what happened first or just go to bed?"

Mulder said, "Bed for now. I'll tell you tomorrow."

Rodney through the covers open and his arms as well. He looked at Mulder with mischief in his eyes. Husky voice said, "Want you to do something kinky with me."

Mulder was sure he blushed. Any number of possibilities flashed through his convoluted and wicked brain. Rodney said, "Hmm, got to wonder what you were thinking. No, I just want you to tickle me. I had a girl friend who would do it, unmercifully, and it would just turn me on."

"Tickling, tickling turns you on?" Mulder inquired as he undressed. "I can oblige. Let's see, start with the ribs...are you ticklish there? Uh-huh, you sure are and under the chin? Yes, and here, oh my, where aren't you ticklish?" Mulder grabbed the lubrication and inserted a finger, surprised to find that Rodney was already greased and stretched. "Is that ticklish too?"

A moan interrupted the giggles. Mulder's lips twitched and he couldn't help letting the crooked smile conquer his whole mouth as he stroked the spot over and over. He wiped his hand and said, "But I forgot, you wanted tickling." He tried the underside of Rodney's knees until the younger man grabbed him and flipped him over.

Rodney said, "Enough tickling now, I want you to fuck me." The eyes smoldered, "Make me yours. Do it to me, Mulder..."

Oh, he sounded like Alex! Mulder felt a shudder of feeling cascade through him. This might be the last time that he made love to Rodney and he did want to be here with the troubled ex-fighter and not locked in his memories of Alex. He willed away the images, trying to keep his feelings about losing Alex locked beneath the rage, which was the only feeling to which he was willing to admit.

Rodney sighed as he lifted his legs high against his chest. Mulder took the time to prepare him just a little more although the general effect was to cause this lover to breathe in deep gasps as if any more would bring him over the edge. Mulder slid into the man, evoking a tremor and a groan. Rodney rested his legs over Mulder's shoulders, pushing forward eagerly each time Mulder thrust. Mulder timed his strokes over Rodney's hot, hard cock with his thrusts. Rodney smothered his cries by biting down on a fold of blanket, but he still sounded wild and out of his mind with pleasure.

Mulder's release was like snapping loose from earth's orbit. He collapsed for longer then he should have allowed and Rodney was left to untangle their limbs. Rodney's face was grave and open as he held Mulder in his arms. "Yeah." He said, "Yeah, that was perfect."

The media was excited by the capture. Not since Ted Bundy had one of these serial cases led to the hoped for denouncement. Mulder had told Aspen to keep his name out of it so the local police were in their glory. Scully was off on another date with Duncan MacLeod, 'some romantic,' Mulder thought, even he didn't think an archeological dig was a proper setting for love.

Aspen was very willing to introduce Mulder to the Organized Crime squad's head, Giovanni Pascal. The detective was a sour, worried looking man. Mulder could see Kevlar beneath his shirt and didn't blame him. This was a spot where corruption offered at every turn and, if that didn't suck you down into the swamp; there was always some hit man offering to buy you a section of it for an unmarked grave. The dark complexioned man frowned or rather his perpetual frown deepened. He said, "Coleman? The older one was murdered almost two years ago. Yeah, a nephew took over, Paul Coleman. We have a file on him that is rapidly becoming as thick as his uncle's. The young one is dumb. We are going to get him soon on income tax evasion and pandering, leading minors into prosecution. You got something on him?"

"No, I ran into someone who had problems with him and wanted to check to see if he was as dirty as the man suggested." Mulder said.

The shrewd black eyes narrowed further. Mulder had the feeling that the brain was processing something. Well, Mulder wasn't the first law enforcement type to fall in with hookers. Mulder said, "When are you going to move?"

"Soon." Pascal replied.

Mulder had to be content with that. He told Rodney that his troubles would be over soon. Rodney sighed and said, "Yeah, I hope so. I really hope so."

Mulder on impulse said, "Hey, come with me. I can help you with school. You could make a clean break."

Rodney shook his head and said, "No, I told myself I wouldn't run and besides, I could fall in love with you, but you would always be seeing that Alex guy that I look like. Oh, don't look so shocked. You cry out for him in your sleep and you said his name the first time we made love." Rodney smiled and said, "But now, this last few times, it's my name you say."

Mulder stared out through the heavy fog, which had lifted just enough to allow the plane to take off. He sighed, thinking of what he had found in that rainy city.

Maybe, just, maybe, it was enough to refuel him and keep him going. What had Rodney said toward the last? 'You ever ask that guy what made him do what he did? If it was I, I would. You don't get the real thing very often, Mulder and, if it comes to me one of these days, I'm going grab it and hold on tight. I'll tell him or her what I've been and then, I hope, they will still love me and forgive me. You think about it and you look me up if you're in Seattle again.'

Mulder glanced at Scully who was smiling with her eyes closed, red painted fingernails playing with a strand of red hair. Maybe they both had found a momentary rest, a warm place out of the rain in that dreary city.

 

In Seattle, the rain fell harder. A shadow detached from a dark crevice in the wall. Alex Krycek had followed his twin to his appointment with his slave master. The kid had a night class and Alex wanted to make sure that Rodney was there, in plain sight so he wouldn't be blamed. Shit, he ought to hate the kid for screwing with his Mulder, but he couldn't. Alex's hand clamped on the hard construction of plastic and metal that hung from his shoulder. After watching Rodney go into the classroom, Alex went back to the crime lord's office. The bodyguard was a stupid piece of meat. Scars marked his face and his nose bore the look of play dough, mashed and reformed so often that it no longer could hold any shape. Alex knocked him out and entered the office on the top floor of the darkened bar.

The man he saw was about his age, a round faced character with thick waves of brown hair further adding to the impression of a huge head. He was wearing an expensive suit, but it couldn't make the man. This guy was a sleaze who could have cheapened Mulder's best Armani suit. The man licked his thick, pink lips and said, "Come back for more, Rodney? You know, I am in the mood for dessert after all. Bring that mouth to where I can use it."

Alex slunk over, but instead of kneeling, he straddled the broad lap, rubbing his torso in hot, enticing stokes downward. He closed his eyes, letting himself imagine it was Mulder's lap. He knew his mouth was open and that he was about to purr like a cat in heat. Coleman remarked, "Shit, someone feed you amyl nitrate or something? I thought you hated this?"

Alex said, "No, I don't hate it." He leaned closer and fastened his mouth on the moist flab of those lips. He continued to squirm until Coleman was arching, his cock tenting those expensive trousers. "No, with the right guy, what I want to do to you is just so, so, good." His flesh arm surrounded the thick neck. Coleman was transfixed like a rabbit the moment before the hawk sank in sharp talons. His expression changed as Alex's grip was reinforced by the strong, cold weight of his prosthesis. Alex whispered, "So good" as he twisted the fleshy neck upward and to the side in a sudden, strong motion. He quickly stepped back, watching Coleman die, the fat hips thrusting into the air as he fucked death.

Alex smiled and stepped around the man to rapidly search and remove every trace of information about Rodney and his sister. As a last gesture, Alex triggered the accelerants he had placed earlier. Alex blew a kiss at the corpse that lay in a puddle of yellow fluid. "It was good for me," he snarled as he walked out.

Alex was many blocks away when he heard the fire engines wailing like banshees. He smirked. 'There you go, kid.' He thought. 'You're free. Wish I was.'

Alex caught a cab to SeaTac and made his flight with minutes to spare. It was time to go home, time to check on Mulder and find out if making love to Alex's young double had sated the hunger or merely tantalized it. Alex bet that Mulder had a craving for the real thing, but Alex was not a gambling man. No, he was the type that when he wanted something, he made it happen. Yeah, and he would.

 

The End.

 

On to A Comedy of Errors