Unexpected Behavior

by XScribe

TITLE: Unexpected Behavior
AUTHOR: XScribe
RATING: NC-17
SPOILERS: None really. Just a timeline concern in that this story takes place between "Sleepless" and "Duane Barry".
CATEGORY: M/Unclassified rape/non-con, angst; M/K UST DISCLAIMERS: No infringement intended on the legal ownership of these characters.
SUMMARY: September 1994. The X-Files have been shut down, so the Chief of the BSU, William Patterson, recruits Mulder to assist in catching a serial rapist/killer. ARCHIVE: Yes.
NOTES: Special, special thanks to Skye and JoB for their help, encouragement, and for convincing me to post. FEEDBACK: Thanks and always very much appreciated! Please email me at xscribe123@yahoo.com

UNEXPECTED BEHAVIOR

WEDNESDAY -- SEPTEMBER 1994

Standing by the door with VC chief Houston, Skinner nodded in acknowledgment at the agents who'd volunteered to assist on the case on behalf of Agent Pettigrew, as they'd filed from the conference room. The heavy door shut softly behind them, leaving only Houston and Behavioral Science chief Patterson in the conference room with Skinner.

At the front of the room, Patterson was still in his seat at the long, empty table, pensive.

"Let's get moving on this ASAP," Skinner said. "Bill. I'm granting you full access to all assistance and resources in the department you think it'll take to get the job done."

Methodically, Patterson ran his hand down his pen as he tapped his legal pad, no longer taking notes. "We're going to have to send in another undercover agent, you know."

Skinner had been aware of this. "Surveillance and backup will be maximized."

"It's going to be risky," Houston pointed out. "The suspect will be on his guard now."

"That's why we can't use wires this time," Patterson said, not looking up.

"I'll get Technical Support on it," Skinner said.

"No wires," Patterson reiterated. "You want another dead agent?"

Advancing toward the table where Patterson was still seated, Houston vented only a momentary glimpse of the anxiety he had to be suffering. As a department head, he was responsible for the agents he chose to deploy on a case. Agent Pettigrew had been a good choice but unfortunately, she'd proven not to be experienced enough. She fit the other requirements for the detail though, and that had cost her her life. "There's no way in hell I'm sending another agent out," Houston said, "without at least ten agents listening in on her every move, if she has to swallow a goddamn mic."

"I suggest we don't send out another female," Patterson said, calmly. "I realize this is the age of Women's Lib, but the suspect seems to have had training in self-defense. He may be a police officer. Hell, he may be one of our own. He may even have been military."

Uncomfortable, Skinner shifted and wandered to the front of the room where the discussion was going on. The male agents who'd just volunteered their services would have an instant change of heart the moment they learned they may have to pull drag.

Equally ill at ease, Houston rubbed his face, then shoved his hand in his pocket. "Got anyone in mind, or do I have to do the unpleasant job of volunteering one of the guys, myself?"

At last, Patterson looked to both of them. "Isn't Mulder helping cover TSS, now that the X-Files have been shut down?"

"For the most part," Skinner vouched. "Until it's decided where he'd be the most valuable."

"Back in BSU, where he belongs." Patterson didn't require a fragment of a second to consider. "He's a goddamn psychologist. His talents were being wasted in the X-Files. A crack at a case like this might convince him the BSU is where he should be."

"More likely," Houston commented, "it'll sour him even worse to go back. If someone asked me to wear a dress for some department, it sure wouldn't endear me to it."

"I believe Mulder's more of a professional than that," Patterson said. "And whether or not he decides to start working ISU again, he's still an excellent candidate for the job."

No doubt about it, Patterson was right. He wasn't purporting Mulder was effeminate or gay; both Skinner and Houston knew that. They exchanged a tense look but not one of doubt or aspersion on Patterson's choice.

"I'm game," Houston agreed. "Who gets to tell Mulder?"

Patterson spoke up. "I suggest you do it, Mr. Skinner. If order comes from the top, Agent Mulder won't be able to turn it down, like he's going to want to."

X

Perfect, Skinner thought wryly behind his desk, awaiting Agent Mulder's arrival. Another seemingly fucked-up assignment that would only earn Skinner a place higher up Agent Mulder's shit list. The A.D. wasn't the one who deserved the blame. He genuinely liked Mulder. Always had. But the assignment was far too important to allow personal discord to determine delegation of duty.

Dutifully, Skinner's assistant showed Mulder in, then withdrew shutting the door. He remained standing, guarded.

Skinner couldn't look at the young agent. He was impeccable, as always. "The Delaney case. The one involving Agent Pettigrew." He pressed the file across his desk toward Mulder. "You've been assigned."

Stunned, Mulder picked up the file. "Me, sir? Isn't this case way beyond my feeble capacity?" Ever since the XFiles' demise, his attitude had degraded considerably.

Exhaling, Skinner leaned on his elbows still avoiding Mulder's eyes. "You and Agent Krycek."

"Agent Krycek?" Mulder had opened the file to peruse it, but paused to look up. "Pardon me, sir, but this case requires a specific gender-type. And as it just so happens, I know of an excellent lady agent who'd love an opportunity like this to get back out into the field."

Shaking his head, Skinner responded. "The consensus was that it would be far too dangerous to send another woman out undercover. After careful deliberation, it was decided that you -- "

"Wait." Mulder promptly shut the file. "What? I should have known. It's not enough I've been shuffled into backrooms, spending my workdays listening in on sordid, insipid wiretaps, now the Bureau wants to make an example of me. A burlesque act. You guys are getting creative. So you want me to play Uncle Miltie -- "

"That's enough, Agent Mulder." Skinner was losing patience.

Patterson was right; if he'd been the one to present the case to Mulder, he'd have walked out in defiance. "There's a killer out there who's now added one of our own to his list of victims. And you have the nerve to stand here and diminish the gravity of this situation by suggesting this assignment was designed for the purpose of humiliating you? The option of a listening device is now out of the question in light of the incident with Agent Pettigrew. There's no way we'd send a woman out there without that kind of backup.

It had to be one of the men."

"Understood, sir." Mulder lowered the file to the desktop as if hoping to leave it there. "But why me? There are plenty of other agents you could have chosen. Agents a hell of a lot better than me -- "

"Save the self-pity act. This institution is not in the habit of designating assignments for spite. Now get Agent Krycek and report to the BS Unit. Mr. Patterson will fill you in on the rest."

"Sir," Mulder's tone became a little more desperate. "I don't know if you're aware of this, but Agent Patterson and I had something of a falling out when I left the ISU permanently. If he's the one who hand-picked me, I can assure you, this is about retaliation."

"And I can assure you, it was a joint decision. The case needed expertise from BSU. You've got that. When your name came up, there was no reason not to give you the assignment."

"Well, I've got a hundred arguments to the contrary. For one, I'm too tall. But even more to the point, you know the kind of woman he goes after -- model-types. I'll never be able to pull that off -- "

"Agent Mulder." This time Skinner met the agent's gaze. "ISU. Now. Patterson's waiting."

X

If nothing else, at least this meant an opportunity to see Scully. Mulder would make an effort to go by the morgue to watch Ms. Scully play teacher, even if they couldn't exchange a word. As for the assignment, Krycek was sharp enough to figure out what it would consist of without much elaboration. All he had to know was that they wouldn't be partnered with a female agent and receive a brief look from Mulder and Krycek knew.

Little about Patterson's office had changed from the way Mulder remembered it three years earlier. But that was just like the obstipated old fuck. Stuck in his ways until death claimed him. He wasn't in his office when Mulder and Krycek arrived, so they got a chance to survey the walls. What was different was an assortment of recurring sketches of demonic-looking caricatures and numerous crime scene shots of victims with mutilated faces, mouths cut practically from ear to ear.

"Bet this guy has nightmares every night," Krycek muttered.

Patterson came in before Mulder got the chance to inform Krycek that the renowned ISU chief was a nightmare in and of himself.

Tipping his head back, Patterson adjusted his glasses and looked Mulder over, as if sizing him up for the very first time. Then glanced to Krycek. "This your current partner?"

"Agent Krycek," Mulder introduced, taking offense at the way Patterson referred to Krycek as if he was an inanimate object. "Alex Krycek."

"Criminal Investigative Unit Chief Patterson," Krycek said. He sounded like he might follow that up with a statement about what an honor it was to meet Patterson -- and if Krycek did, Mulder would hike straight back to Skinner's office and demand another partner. Fortunately Krycek didn't. And made no effort to shake Patterson's hand.

Sitting down at his desk, Patterson opened his own file on the case. "We've as much as established the suspect's apparent hang-outs, but his routine isn't yet -- "

"Excuse me, Agent Patterson," Mulder interrupted, "but right off, I have to insist on pointing out a major flaw that would greatly hinder any headway on this case. Aside from the obvious -- that the suspect victimizes women, not male drag queens. Now, I read the case. There's no way in hell this suspect is dumb enough to believe I'm a woman. But you can take a shot at fixing up Agent Krycek." Mulder looked to his partner.

"What?" Krycek instantly panicked. "Me? Why? 'Cos I'm the rookie?"

"I'm not the one calling the shots," Mulder bantered. "That's up to Agent Patterson." He broached Patterson again. "Look at those natural, long eyelashes. Those fiery green eyes. The little, up-turned nose. Come on. It's no contest."

A corner of Patterson's mouth lifted in his usual smirk of amusement. Never a smile. The cold-ass shit never smiled. "He may be able to pull it off, but I know you, Agent Mulder. With your holier-than-thou air. Our suspect likes that attitude in his women. But to be certain, take off that jacket and let's have a better look at you. You may have a point."

Mulder couldn't get out of the jacket fast enough. And turned away. "I don't have enough ass to fake being a woman, see? My hips are too narrow. There's no way."

"Turn around," Patterson said.

Jacket thrown over his shoulder, Mulder redirected to Krycek, again. "I still think my partner here might be a little more credible -- "

"The suspects likes his victims slender," Patterson intervened. "I'm not worried about your hips. None of his victims had particularly feminine hips. It's that bulge that's of far more concern."

"Huh?" Mulder glanced down at the evident pouch in the front of his pants. Then back to Krycek. "Why don't you check Krycek out and see -- ?"

"Hey," Krycek said, backing away. "I'll show too, you know."

"We'll try to remedy the situation," Patterson went on, "for the best possible effect. To those ends, I took the liberty -- "

"Remedied my ass," Mulder sputtered. "I don't want to be 'remedied'. Just what the fuck are you proposing?"

"Stop being so melodramatic." Patterson cast one of his patent intolerant, demeaning expressions. "I was about to say the Bureau is hiring a consultant to work with us. Otherwise, you're certainly girlie enough to pull it off."

"Girlie?" Mulder bristled. For a second he forgot about Krycek. "Is that what you think of me? I'm girlie?"

"I'm growing weary of your theatrics, Agent Mulder. Sit down." Patterson stood up. "We have a lot of information to go over but all you can fixate on is the issue of your masculinity. I admit, it's a pleasure seeing you torture yourself over the possibility that you may be perceived as 'effeminate', but the truth is, you're not. What you possess is a certain poise most men don't have. You should be flattered. So quit worrying about your goddamn testes and let's get down to business."

X

The wardrobe consultant was gay. Not a flamboyant, lisping one but nevertheless, he wasn't particularly secretive about it by his mannerisms and obviously bleached hair. And he had to go and say shit to the effect that he couldn't foresee any problem in Mulder's ability to carry out the guise. The usual tailoring measurements were understandable, but then the consultant asked Mulder to drop his pants to better demonstrate the size of the "package" that would have to be dealt with. Mulder balked. The consultant shrugged, then opened his leather Day Runner to add more notes.

"Client stuffs his pants," the consultant said as he wrote. "No need to worry about that department then."

Before Mulder could form a reply, he was surprised when Krycek interjected in defense. "Like hell he does."

"Oh?" The consultant raised an eyebrow and first eyed Mulder, then Krycek. "You're vouching for him, hon?"

"What!" Mulder started.

Ever reliable, Krycek was quick to respond. "Something like that would be obvious at the urinals, you know?"

"Well, I'm not here to psychoanalyze anyone." The consultant jotted down more notes. "But it's been my experience that a lot of male clients resort to those kind of measures. Hence the reason they get adamant when I ask them to strip to their drawers."

Even before the consultant finished his statement, Mulder was already fumbling to remove his holster and unfasten his belt and waistband. "Fine," he said wryly. "You want to measure it too, go right ahead." His pants fell from the weight of his handcuffs, badge, and wallet. Then he took the waistband of his briefs.

"Well . . . " The consultant looked up again from his Day Runner. "You could start by lifting your shirttails out of the way . . . "

Annoyed, Mulder did as told, gathering his shirt over his abdomen.

"Wow." The consultant took a couple of steps back and crouched down. "Definitely the genuine article. And those are some great-looking legs. We can use them to your advantage."

Further annoyed, Mulder let his shirt go then prepared to retrieve his pants. "Are you done?"

Pen in mouth, the consultant sighed in bantering disappointment. "Um, yeah." He scribbled more notes as he slowly stood up. "Basket like that is gonna need some tight restraint to pull off this job. I know just the trick, but I'm gonna have to place an order, Federal Express. I don't usually deal with these kinda cases. In the meantime, lycra works good. Own any tight lycra swim trunks? If not, we'll budget some in. We're way out of season on this, but the sports outlets always stock 'em."

So much for dropping by the morgue to see Scully.

X

THURSDAY -- SEPTEMBER 1994

The next day at work in the early afternoon, Mulder was called from his desk by Patterson. He told Mulder to pack up for the day; he'd be taking a trip to get some wardrobe details out of the way, after which he could go home. Patterson provided Mulder an address to drive to in the upper class section of the District of Columbia.

"Where am I going?" Mulder asked, peering through his glasses perched on the end of his nose at the map on the wall by his desk.

"My apartment," Patterson replied over the phone. "You'll understand when you get there."

Mulder hesitated. "Has your wife been informed about what's going on? Am I going to have to explain -- ?"

"There hasn't been a Mrs. Patterson for quite some time. We've been divorced for years."

"Oh . . . I'm sorry. I didn't know . . . "

"There's nothing for you to be sorry about. Unless you're not at my apartment in a half-hour to meet me. I'll let you in. Mr. Trent should arrive shortly. After that I've got to get back to work, so I'm entrusting you to watch my place, as long as you're there. Mr. Trent won't be the only one to show up."

"What?" Again, Mulder was puzzled. "Is Agent Krycek going to be there? Why?"

"Agent Krycek's going to be out all day collecting data. No, he won't be showing up."

X

The apartment was one of the finer accommodations in the city. Except for an abundance of books, it was furnished sparsely in simple utilitarian style. Actually, Mulder had never wanted to know even this much about his former supervisor. While others revered Patterson, Mulder had figured out what a prick the guy was from way early on. Consequently, Mulder disliked Patterson and the entire undercover aspect of the case, equally.

The consultant had already been awaiting their arrival with an assistant in a utility van parked at the curb of the apartment building. They brought in a covered rack of clothes as Patterson left, which didn't give Mulder the opportunity to ask any of the questions nagging him. One major mystery being why the bureau had agreed to spring for such elaborate measures.

In mounting confusion, Mulder watched the consultant and his assistant bring in a wardrobe trunk next, which they set up in the livingroom in the light through the open vertical blinds.

"Fortunately," Mr. Trent told Mulder, uncovering the rack, "you're a natural beauty. I had no trouble piecing together some outfits. It was a pleasure. Take off your shirt and we'll get started, til Sandra gets here. And by the way; what size cups do you want?"

"Huh?" Mulder said, further dazed. "Who's Sandra?"

"She's the make-over artiste. She does hair, nails, waxing, and make -- "

"Waxing?" Mulder swallowed. "We don't have to go to go that far. I can wear pants and high necklines -- "

"High necklines?" Mr. Trent paused to study Mulder's chest with subdued dread. "All right. Take it off and let's see what kind of a bear we're dealing with."

With reservation, Mulder relinquished jacket, tie, dress shirt and t-shirt. At the sight of his chest, Trent and his assistant audibly relaxed. Trent assured Mulder his chest would look great in all the necklines that had been chosen.

Because Mulder hadn't specified a bust size, Trent used his own judgment in selecting a pre-padded bra with sewn-in falsies and proceeded to usher out a variety of women's blouses.

Fortunately, the offensive exhibition was cut short when Sandra arrived. She was an attractive, long-haired brunette.
But when she and Trent exchanged a brief kiss, Mulder had to wonder. It was of no consequence to him but curiosity put his psychology skills to work and he found himself trying to figure her out. He gratefully allowed her to remove the last ladies' blouse he'd been coerced into donning then the bra. Owing to the lighting in the kitchen, she chose that room to work in.

All too soon, Mulder discovered why. Ignoring his arguments, Sandra proceeded to coat his chest and neck with wax. In urging him to raise an arm, she was delighted. "You shave under your arms?" she asked in a cute New York accent. "Mm.

I like it. It looks good."

While the wax dried, her gaze dropped to his lap. "Now the pants," Sandra said.

"I don't see any reason I can't wear pants," Mulder argued.

Trent answered. "I do. I wasn't gonna let legs that hot go to waste. Wait til you seem 'em, Sandra. He's got great legs."

Amused, Sandra smiled. "Come on," she prompted Mulder, stirring the wax in a warmer on the kitchen table. "Take off the pants."

Sighing, Mulder stood up to obey.

As they watched him strip down to bare feet, Sandra wolf- whistled. "Very nice. Oh, we gotta put him in short skirts, for sure. Say, was that a B cup you had him in?" s he asked Trent.

"Well, he wouldn't choose," Trent gestured. "So I went with the B."

Her leering was becoming unnerving. Mulder draped his folded pants on another chair and quickly sat down again.

"I think he should be a C," she observed.

Across the room, the assistant leaned against the counter, guzzling a Mountain Dew from their ice chest. "That's what I told Trent."

"You know how it is with these straights," Trent remarked. "They gross-out enough with the whole transvestism thing."

Surprised, she eyed Mulder. "You're straight?"

"I'm not condemning anyone," he replied. "I'm a psychologist."

"Hey, maybe you got a chance." Sandra raised her eyebrows at Trent, suggestively.

X

Leaning back in the chair, feet supported on another chair, Sandra subjected Mulder to the hot wax treatment. The pain it incurred imbued him with a certain sense of vulnerability. It was made no easier by the fact that Trent and his assistant hung around during this phase of the operation, ogling.

Steeling himself to have his legs stripped, Mulder gripped the edges of the seat, inadvertently catching a glimpse at his new body. Though his skin was reddened from the irritation of being plucked, he could easily see the way he'd appear once that subsided. And it wasn't half bad.

Hours later, Trent and his assistant had finished their job and were gone, though they'd taken their time about leaving. Allowed to redress, Mulder was in his t-shirt, open dress shirt, and pants, with the cuffs folded below his knees while Sandra finished the pedicure.

"I hope I'm not being too presumptuous," she said, gaze on her work, "but would you mind if I asked you out?"

Presumptuous? The entirety of Mulder's very limited dating experience had consisted almost exclusively of being asked out. Sometimes all he had to do was show the slightest interest in someone, and a positive response would come before he could piece a decent line together. What struck him in this case though, was the fact that this lady had just spent hours making Mulder "feminine". Either the lady was definitely a tranny or a dyke. The idea of dating either was interesting; identity-confident women who could hold their own were the kind he liked. "This is a little odd, isn't it? Most women would freak out over a guy who'd just been waxed to wear ladies' clothes."

"If I was freaked out, I wouldn't be asking, would I?"

"The truth is, I don't believe in advocating one lifestyle or another. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. The one thing I'd have to ask in advance is not to be deceived. I wouldn't want to discover later I'd been led into a scene from 'The Crying Game', you know? I'm not stating I'd mind -- just that I'd like to know beforehand."

The fact that Sandra was amused and not offended was a good sign. She laughed outright. "I got no 'Crying Game' surprises to spring on you. If you're not into women, I guess I'll have to understand, but -- "

The front door rattled as it was keyed.

"Mr. Patterson's home." She glanced back. "I hope he's okay with the work we've done." She made one last check of the polish she'd applied to his right foot. "Has anyone ever told you you've got really beautiful feet?"

Before Mulder had to answer, Patterson had entered the apartment and paused by the kitchen doorway in his coat, holding a handful of mail. "Aren't you done, yet?" he questioned in his usual, impatient manner.

"Almost, Mr. Patterson," Sandra said, quickly, adjusting the portable dryer she'd brought with her, to the nails she'd just finished. "Let's just let these nails dry."

Casting a dour look over the proceedings, Patterson withdrew.

"Mr. Patterson," Sandra continued.

"He's gone," Mulder informed her, since her back was to the door.

"Oh." She glanced back. "Hold on." She leapt up and raced to the door. "Don't move," she told Mulder, "or you'll mess up the nail polish."

Within five minutes, she returned to hold out a card. Upside down. "I'm supposed to do your hair tonight, too. After dinner. This is my home address."

"My hair?" For some dumb reason, this aspect hadn't occurred to him. "What are you supposed to do?"

"Extensions. It takes a while. Give me a couple of hours for dinner, then be at my place at eight."

"Wait. I don't understand."

"Mr. Patterson said this is urgent. He's giving me an extra hundred to do this tonight."

Shocked, Mulder's eyes widened. "Another hundred?"

"Shh," she whispered, conspiratorially. "We'll talk about it, later."

X

Bent over in a chair at the table, Mulder was tying his shoes when Patterson entered the kitchen.

"So." Patterson demonstrated his usual dry affect. "Other than your hair, you're all ready to start."

"Um . . . Yeah."

"They tried out some clothes? And they all fit?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good." Patterson looked around the room. "Did you see how they looked on you? Was it credible?"

"Not exactly. I didn't see. But Trent, his assistant, and the makeup consultant all seemed to think it worked."

"Do I give a damn what a bunch of grunts think? What the hell do they know? I asked Mr. Trent to leave one of the outfits for you. He promised to have a couple more tailored by tomorrow. I want you to put on the one he left. I need to see for myself if it's going to work."

This was precisely what Mulder had hoped to avoid for as long as possible. He knew it must be killing Patterson to keep a straight face during all of this. His training tactics excelled at using humility to exact total subservience from the agents beneath him. In particular, he derived a decided delight in provoking Mulder, because he didn't kiss ass. "I just got dressed again and I'd like to grab a bite to eat and take care of a few things before I gotta go see the makeup lady again."

"Dammit, Mulder, this is important. What the hell would be the point of having her finish up, if it's not going to work on you? Just fucking put the outfit on."

"You're right." Picking up his jacket and tie, Mulder stepped out into the livingroom. "When you get done laughing, you can get on with the real investigation." Heatedly, he went about changing again.

In moments, Patterson reappeared with a drink in hand. His tie was loose and he headed for the hall, hardly looking at Mulder. "I'll be right back," Patterson announced. "So don't get any ideas about sneaking off."

"And deprive you of your one, solitary moment of amusement for the year? Oh no, sir. I've got your mental health to think of." Once Patterson was out of the room, Mulder muttered, "Prick."

The outfit was the deep cobalt blue suit. Leaving on his socks, he stepped into the skirt, feeling especially naked with his skin cleanly waxed in so miniscule a garment. Rather than bother with the falsies, he drew the jacket on, over his dress shirt. It was supposed to be worn alone, but this was just a modeling job.

Patterson returned then sans jacket and tie, shirttails loose, holding his glass. "No, no," he protested on sight of Mulder. "Put the whole outfit on. Stockings, shoes, tits -- the works."

"Oh, pardon me. Of course. I'd appear a lot more comical that way."

Ignoring the remark, Patterson went into the kitchen again. He was back in moments, his glass refilled. Leaning back in a worn recliner, Patterson settled beneath a lamp with his mail. He looked up every now and then to make sure Mulder was donning the full regalia. "I would have offered you a drink, Agent Mulder, but I know you would have turned it down."

"That was a very accurate summation." The pair of stockings that had been left didn't require any garter belt; they stayed up by means of elastic. This was much more convenient.

Fully dressed, down to the high-heels and zippered blazer, Mulder cleared his throat, hands on his hips and awaited Patterson's caustic comments.

Setting his mail aside, Patterson got up with his drink, readjusting his glasses. The expression he wore changed only slightly. To thoughtfulness. No smirking. The corner of his mouth didn't twitch as Mulder expected.

Walking around him, Patterson switched on another lamp for better illumination. He rubbed his upper lip.

Tension mounting, Mulder shifted his weight to the other foot in the highly uncomfortable shoes and folded his arms, crashing into a bust he wasn't accustomed to having. "What are you waiting for, Bill? Don't give yourself a hernia trying to hold it in."

"You'll do," Patterson said at last, sounding neither impressed nor sarcastic. "Now go get yourself some dinner then get over to Ms. Brentwood's. You won't need to come into work until three in the afternoon, tomorrow. She'll be there to do your makeup while you dress, then you'll coordinate with your partner and the rest of the team and be given a rental car to go out in the field."

X

The decor in Sandra's apartment starkly contrasted to that of Patterson's. It was colorful and modernly furnished with adequate lighting in her dining area off the kitchen, to do the job.

Assuring Mulder the sitting would be tedious for him, she served ice cold, imported beer for both of them, then proceeded to match her case full of hair pieces to his shade.

"I went by the shop to get these," she told him. "I was sure we'd recently got in some extensions pretty close to your hair color." Once she'd made a selection, she held a lock and a mirror out for him to judge. "What do you think?

Does that look right to you?"

"I - I don't know," he blinked. "They all look the same to me."

"That's what most men would say," she chided with a sigh.

It may not have been a malicious remark and spoken in jest, but it was still sexist. Mulder hesitated. "I - I'm color blind. Red-green."

"Oh." She was instantly apologetic. "Sorry. I didn't know."

"That's all right. You couldn't."

"That's two strikes for me. One more and I'm out. Better keep my mouth shut from here on out."

"Huh?"

Using the pointed handle of one of numerous combs from her supply soaking in antiseptic, she ripped open the packaging of the selection she'd made. "Now, I could give you any length hair you'd like. I thought long hair -- past your shoulders -- would be nice."

"You're the expert. Whatever you think."

"See, you've got nice, broad shoulders. Not very feminine. Any length above your shoulders would emphasize them. The long hair would detract."

"Right." Not that Mulder cared. He was already finding the exercise tedious. And having nothing else to do, found he'd polished off his first bottle of beer fairly quickly. Now all he could do was toy with the empty bottle and peel off the label.

Seeing his dilemma, Sandra momentarily withdrew and brought back another open bottle for him. She exchanged it for the empty one. "So. You never got a chance to answer."

"Answer what?" He took a drink.

"If you like women or not."

He lifted the corner of his mouth. "Oh, I like women."

"Great. I'll give you my cell phone number, too. It's the easiest way to reach me."

X

FRIDAY -- SEPTEMBER 1994

For whatever reason Patterson had chosen to spare Mulder the evening before, he was grateful. He received enough banter and ridicule the following day at the office, as it was. Sandra had done a damn good job lengthening his hair all over, covering his newly-shorn sideburns. It had taken hours as warned, but she'd done a flawless job as far as he could tell. Taking pity on him, she'd given him the remote control for the TV, as well as a few more beers, both of which made the incident more tolerable.

In a borrowed office in the VCU where he'd dressed, Sandra worked on his makeup. Trent had referred to her as an artiste, but that had been an understatement. In fact her talent was of such magnitude, she actually transformed him into a surprisingly good-looking female. In addition to that, she provided training for Mulder to touch up his makeup, himself and conscientiously labeled everything to compensate for his visual color handicap.

Stepping from the office after Sandra had performed her craft, the first colleague he ran into was Krycek, who'd been just outside the door. His mouth fell open as he looked up and down Mulder, evidently too stunned to make any smart remarks. Unfortunately, no one else in the office had any trouble finding their tongues. Male and female coworkers alike performed the anticipated catcalls, posed heavy innuendo, and wolf-whistled. This Mulder had fully expected and wasn't perturbed.

Before leaving the bullpen, he stopped to make a general announcement. "Incidentally I've taken a moonlighting job exotic dancing at the Skylark Lounge. Just let me know if you want to come by and I'll leave your name at the door so you can get in, gratis." He heard applause in his wake even before he reached the elevator.

X

Nothing in the world could have prepared Krycek for this. He'd been given an assignment to carry out, which he was attempting to do to the best of his ability. But shit. No one had warned him about stuff like this. At the police academy, he'd been trained at defense, weapons, pursuit, tactics under pressure, physical and mental stamina -- all compounded and honed to a much finer degree at the Bureau academy . . . But nothing about dealing with someone like Fox Mulder.

All the flattering rumors about him had turned out to be feeble understatements. Upon meeting the illustrious agent, Krycek had already pretty much been blown away. This new situation however, had left his initial assessment in the dust.

When that office door had opened and Mulder appeared in a short, tight, electric blue, lady's suit, black stockings, black peek-toe pumps, nail polish, long hair, and exquisite makeup, Krycek about fainted. In the first place, Mulder was already a hunk. With a beautiful face and a fantastic body that wouldn't quit. It wasn't remotely surprising that he'd been chosen to do the undercover job. He was the perfect candidate, tailor-made for the assignment. But seeing him done up like this was far more than Krycek had ever been prepared to handle.

The wardrobe consultant had pointed out Mulder's great-looking" legs. The little bleached homo was right, but
again the situation had been understated. Smoothly shaved, in black stockings, they were fucking killer. It was all Krycek could do to keep up with his partner, unable to talk.

Not only did he have no idea what to say, he was sure he'd come off like a stuttering idiot. In the elevator, no one had any idea who Mulder was. But as he impatiently shifted, Krycek noticed some of the men sneaking glances at Mulder. Up his legs, at his ass, and his new, busty chest. God, Krycek couldn't blame them.

"What the hell's the matter with you?" Mulder finally hissed,
on their way to meet with the rest of the team for a final run-through on the schedule for the evening.

"N - nothing."

"Look, if you're trying to spare my feelings by trying not to laugh, don't worry about it. I'm well aware of how ridiculous this is. Patterson's gonna find out in a real hurry what a mistake he made giving me this ass-bite assignment. Go ahead and laugh as much as you want and get it over with. You were dying to keep from pissing yourself laughing, yesterday."

"I - I don't see any reason to . . . "

"Why? Did you just realize how much the guys are going to ride you about being partnered with a transvestite?"

X

For the first time, Krycek was granted the chance to work with BSU chief William Patterson. Though the guy was something of a legend, he didn't have quite all the popularity of Agent Mulder.

And Krycek had gathered from Mulder that Patterson wasn't exactly a thrill to work with. Mulder had the guy down.

In the surveillance van, Krycek waited with Patterson and the other members of the VCU team, on the case. Mulder had been given the keys to a brand-new, brilliant purple Firebird to tool around in, on his own. While the van parked in an inconspicuous spot across the street, Mulder drove up in front of the predesignated club to leave the keys with a valet. The agents who had a visual, hooted -- except for Krycek and Patterson.

"Man, check out the way he sashays in them high heels," one of the agents remarked. "Looks like he's had a lot of experience wearing ladies' shoes."

"Hey, when it comes to Spooky Mulder," another commented, "who knows?"

"Shut your mouths," Patterson snapped, keeping surveillance with a pair of night-vision binoculars out the louvered rear window, whereas the team watched the view from the camera, via monitor. "Agent Mulder's dedication to the job is something the rest of you should concentrate on aspiring for, rather than wit, obviously. I understand he was up until two this morning, preparing and training for this assignment, down to the last detail."

This was news to Krycek, but then Mulder wasn't the forthcoming type.

A couple of hours later, Mulder contacted Krycek, via cell phone from inside the club. Apparently, Mulder had found somewhere to make the call where he was far enough removed from the music to be able to communicate. "He's not here," Mulder said. "No one fitting his description. I think maybe we oughta check out the next place."

X

By closing hour, at the third club, Mulder had had enough for the night. He'd had to play compliant enough so not to put off the suspect, by his own profile, and thus became a little tipsy and definitely weary. Tired of feigning just enough cooperation to get by, allowing losers to buy him drinks or dance with them, tired of the high heels which eventually made his feet numb, tired of fixing his lipstick and the long lines at the ladies' rooms which he avoided as much as possible but with the drinks, that wasn't easy. And the more inebriated he became, the harder it was for him to remember to sit down to pee.

Admittedly, the experience had provided new insight. As a man, Mulder had never approached women the way he was approached that night. As far as he was concerned, everyone should have their own space and until they sent out signals that they wanted to be approached by a specific individual, that meant no one should randomly invite himself into that space. Perhaps these guys were dense and incapable of reading signals. Or perhaps they just didn't give a damn about trespassing. If Sandra hadn't been quite so talented, Mulder was certain he wouldn't have been harassed at all. That talent was imperative; without it, the Bureau would have had to chose someone else to go undercover. As far as he was concerned, Krycek would actually have been the far better candidate. Now, he was pretty. Without a drop of makeup. With those big, beautiful emerald green eyes, long, contrastingly dark, curly eyelashes, achingly cute, little up-turned nose, as Mulder had pointed out to Patterson, and that precious, perfectly-sculpted mouth . . . Even without makeup anyone would move in on that pretty boy without hesitation.

Last call was a notorious time for the suspect to make his move. Which meant Mulder had to linger through it. But knowing it would all be over soon, he nursed his last drink, checking around for anyone who might fit the description and warding off the last-minute desperados who offered to buy him a drink. Oh, and he knew what that was like. He'd done that, himself. The prettiest girl in the place he'd been too chicken to talk to all evening . . . he'd wait until last call to drum up the nerve to buy her a drink. Unable to act cold or indifferent in case his actions were observed by the suspect, he apologetically told the stragglers he was "waiting" for someone. This much was true and therefore made it easier to say, as he wasn't skilled at lying.

Finally, he made his way out to the curb to wait on the Firebird he'd been issued, standing off to the side, while the valet brought it around.

Behind him, Mulder heard one the desperados he'd turned down at the bar. "Guess your guy didn't get back to you."

Out of sheer manners, Mulder glanced back. This was one of the better-looking guys that had made the approach. Blond. Nice body. But the halfway shy-type. Mulder looked away again, quickly.

"Valet's bringing my car. I really gotta get home."

The guy came closer. "Would it be okay if I followed? We can have that last drink. It could be coffee, if you like."

God. How did this guy know all the right things to say? The kind of things that Mulder would have said. The kind of things a person would say because he really didn't want to be too presumptuous, and was truly interested in getting to know someone better before jumping in bed.

Before Mulder could provide another excuse, he was rescued again. Peripherally, he saw someone sweep up in a dark trench coat.

"Excuse me," a familiar, disdainful man's voice intercepted.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, propositioning my woman?"

Suppressing horror, Mulder turned back. Lenses glinting, Patterson balefully glared down the far younger club patron.

"Oh, sorry," the guy apologized. "I thought she was alone." Of course, he withdrew to his own vehicle parked somewhere down the block.

Again, before Mulder could speak, the valet screeched up in the dark '94 Firebird. Patterson stepped forward, tipped the valet, then promptly popped open the door for Mulder before the valet could.

To Mulder's further horror, Patterson took Mulder's elbow and brushed a kiss against his cheek. It took a hell of a lot of fortitude not to jerk away.

"There you go, darling." Then Patterson shut the door and breezed around to the driver's side to climb in. He sped away from the curb.

To silence the nagging seatbelt alarm, Mulder snapped himself in, then sat speechless in his bucket seat, gripping the armrests. Never mind that his skirt had hiked up above the lace trim of his stockings -- he was in shock.

"I had to get rid of the guy before you blew your cover," Patterson said, several blocks later. "He was definitely not our suspect. Too skinny. Too young."

It took Mulder several moments to calm enough to speak. "I could have handled the situation, myself. What the fuck was that about?"

"You should be thankful. I saved your ass back there."

"My ass wasn't in trouble," Mulder stated. "That guy was no threat."

"Your cover was. You probably would have socked the guy if I hadn't intervened."

"I had no intention of hitting him or blowing my cover. Contrary to what you think, Bill, I can take care of myself."

Setting his jaw, Patterson said nothing. He just drove. Northward. Toward Maryland, not the Bureau, not Alexandria or Quantico to drop off the car.

"Excuse me, sir," Mulder said after a while. "Where are we going?"

"My apartment."

"What the fuck for?"

"Reassessment. We've got to figure the best way to find the suspect. This arbitrary hit-and-miss tactic is too time-consuming. For all we know, he found someone at one of the places we didn't visit tonight. The other cretins on the team can't help us hone the profile. With your assistance, we may be able to come up with the suspect's next move even before he comes up with it, himself."

Another shock. Flattery? Shit, Mulder was drunk. He was hearing things. "You want to talk, fine. Let's stop somewhere so I can have some coffee and sober up, some. I had to drink enough to look credible or the suspect would shy if he saw me acting like a nun."

"I've got plenty of coffee at my apartment. Fresh blends from the supermarket."

Too drunk and tired to play games, Mulder tried fixing the ridiculously short skirt to cover his cold legs and settled into his seat.

X

As seldom as Mulder drank it wasn't surprising that some five bottles of beer or so put him to sleep. He'd nearly done the same at Sandra's apartment, had it not been for her conversation. But Patterson wasn't much of a conversationalist. Unless he was dispensing his acerbic criticism.

Mulder awoke in a parking garage, just as the car stopped. It wasn't the bureau garage, he knew.

Unsnapping the uncomfortable seatbelt, Mulder seized the doorhandle to scramble out.

"Wait," Patterson snapped. "Let me get the door for you."

"I don't need you to get my door."

"There are surveillance cameras all over this garage. I'm a chief of staff at the FBI. Do you think I want a videotape floating around of what appears to look like I brought home some tawdry tart? If we make it look proper, no one will think anything untoward."

Sagging on the door, Mulder exhaled. "You know, I think you're more paranoid than they say I am."

When Patterson was bent on playing out a mind game, there was no fighting him. The prick took his time about getting to the other door and drawing it open like he was some sort of a gentleman.

With difficulty, Mulder got out of the low vehicle, espied one of the cameras trained on the row of vehicles where they were parked. He had to struggle to keep from flashing his crotch or he would appear a tawdry tart.

Back in the austere apartment, Mulder followed Patterson to the kitchen to make sure the coffee was being brewed. "All right, let's take the suspect into consideration," Mulder allowed, once he saw the coffee pot on the stove. Made in the traditional way. No electric percolators or coffee brewers for old man Patterson. But then nothing tasted as good as fire-brewed coffee.

"Why don't you make you make yourself comfortable?" Patterson suggested, switching off the fluorescent overhead lights to leave on only the range-hood illumination. "Have a seat."

Intent to keep the visit as succinct as possible, Mulder ignored his host. "Our suspect seems to be after the type of woman who knows what she wants. She's not desperate, but on the other hand, she doesn't play too hard to get. She certainly wouldn't take just any guy who comes along. All the women he's hit have had been good-looking enough to think they could make it in show business or something. So, if a chance at notoriety comes along, she's a lot more likely to make a go for that. He senses that. He flatters her. I'm betting he tells her he has contacts and can make something of her, if she'll just let him take her picture and make a brief film. We've seen some of his work. He's an impressive photographer and cinematographer. He could convince a lot of women, if he shows them his talent."

"I agree. So why were you encouraging that little slug who was harassing you?"

Affronted, Mulder seized the counter edges. "Encouraging? Shit, I was doing no such thing! Wasn't my fault the guy followed me out to the curb. Jeez. If the makeup lady hadn't been so skilled, no one would have looked at me all evening, guaranteed."

Doffing his coat, Patterson stepped out of the kitchen. If they were done with Mulder's part of the reassessment, he'd be more than glad to go home. Let the old man figure out the rest for himself.

Turning to the stove, Mulder watched the coffee pot, once again folding his arms beneath the ridiculous padding. Fuck it. He unzipped the jacket then reached behind his back to unhook the bra.

Patterson had returned. "So fucking smart," he remarked bitterly, "yet there's so much you don't see."

Unintentionally waiting a beat, Mulder hustled out of the jacket, then went to the table to throw the bra over the back of one of the chairs. "Look, I never professed shit. Maybe it's time you learned a lesson of your own, Bill." He replaced the jacket still turned away, to spare himself the humiliation of exposing his smooth chest and zipped back up.

"Don't ever take rumor as gospel. I'm just as stupid as the rest of the VCU cretins. I don't give a shit how much I disappoint you. Just get over your crap with me and move on to the next poor fuck, already."

For some reason, Patterson didn't say anything.

With the v-necked jacket zipped, Mulder glanced back.

Leaning on the opposite side of the stove, Patterson bore his patent shitty, smug expression.

Without a word, Mulder started for the phone on the wall. He heard the coffee begin to perk. "I'm going home. I'll catch a taxi." From the slit pocket of the jacket, he checked his funds. He'd inquire over the estimated cost for the trip to Alexandria.

"We've barely begun our reassessment," Patterson said. "You can't leave yet. As usual, your profile seems very astute. We have to decide how to think ahead of the suspect, now." Startled, Mulder dropped the coins from his pocket, when he double-took at his former supervisor.

"What? You just said I was an idiot."

"As a psychologist, you ought to know not to formulate delusional conclusions. What I said, essentially, was that I found your innocent modesty refreshing."

Again surprised, Mulder crouched to retrieve the change, letting the annoyingly short skirt ride up as high as it had to. "I guess I'm every bit as stupid as you say, 'cos I sure don't know what the fuck you're talking about."

"And I wouldn't expect you to. But not out of stupidity. Out of that same, self-deprecating modesty." Not entirely turned away, Patterson tended the coffee.

Still crouching, Mulder considered. "Whatever. I'm sure you'd rather figure the rest out, yourself."

"Actually, I'd rather you stay and help me figure it out."

X

The strong blend of coffee should have been assisting with sobriety but instead, on the living room sofa, Mulder found himself more tipsy than ever. He tried hard to focus on the files through a magnifying glass Patterson had supplied. But Mulder eventually found himself seeing double -- a phenomenon that seemed to worsen in relation to the amount of coffee he consumed.

"Look, I guess I'm really tired or something," he said, "but I don't think I can be of any more use tonight. Call me tomorrow, and we'll go over what you came up with." With difficulty, Mulder slid to the edge of the sofa cushion. Yeah, the stupid skirt rode up, but he was wearing a pair of black Speedos underneath per Mr. Trent's instruction so it didn't matter. "I'll call a taxi."

"Never mind the taxi. You can sleep here."

Despite the fact that this was Patterson's apartment, the invitation made the most sense. The thought of going home, paying the taxicab driver, tipping him properly, unlocking the front door, then making his way through his apartment building, seemed far too complicated. He doubted he'd see any other resident on his way up, but then again he just might. And how the hell would he explain his attire? "Thanks, Bill. I swear, I'll owe you. You want me to wash your car, pick up your dry cleaning -- whatever." Having learned where the bathroom was, Mulder got up. "I won't be any trouble. Just let me have a couple of blankets and a pill --"

"There's a bedroom you can use. I have a stock of travel toothbrushes for going out of town. You can use one of those." In his shirt sleeves, Patterson stood as well. He steadied Mulder who reeled slightly in the high heels and led him from the living room.

X

A blend of decaffeinated coffee laced with whiskey, and Mulder was perfectly intoxicated. Which he had to be for any level of cooperation. So naive. He hadn't an inkling of what he had to offer. If anything, he was more talented than rumor and strikingly beautiful in a way Patterson had never appreciated in a man, before.

Women were beautiful. Not men. Yet, this man was. It had taken Patterson completely off guard.

Along with the obsession came dreams. The final retreat from Mrs. Patterson and eventually wet dreams.

The dreams were about to end. After seeing him in that little blue suit the first time, Patterson had reveled so desperately in the vision, he'd had to satisfy himself after Mulder's departure. Now, he struggled to stay on those high heels on the way to the bathroom and made a short-lived effort to turn down assistance, therein. After he'd finished brushing his teeth and washing some of the makeup off his face, in front of the toilet, he started to lift the short hemline of the skirt. But paused.

"Do you mind?"

Casually, Patterson approached the sink to brush his own teeth. "Oh, don't act like such a girl. We're all boys here."

Mulder regarded himself dubiously. "At the moment, it's kinda hard to tell . . . "

Too inebriated to offer much protest, Mulder relinquished the royal blue jacket and a black, lycra bathing suit from beneath the skirt to crawl onto Patterson's bed, unaware of this. There, Mulder collapsed on the center, on his belly and passed out. It was while he slept that Patterson tied the soft leather straps to the headboard and footboard and affixed the cuffs.

When each lovely, stockinged foot was broached and gently cuffed, Mulder did nothing. Spread-eagled, the hard muscle of his smooth crotch and a set of hearty testicles were exposed, the hemline of that short skirt hitched up enough to display a glimpse at the curvaceous tuck between the hamstrings and round gluteal cheeks. It was when Patterson cuffed the elegant right wrist that Mulder stirred.

Beneath strands of long hair, he opened his eyes and sleepily attempted to recoil. "What the fuck . . . ? What are you doing?"

"Shh. You're dreaming."

"Dreaming . . . ?" It didn't take Mulder more than a couple of seconds to determine that this was not the case. But it was enough time for Patterson to snap the hardware in place. "Like hell I am."

With one hard yank, Mulder discovered he was bound. Using his left hand, he hastily attempted to free his right, fighting off Patterson with malice. "Dammit, what the hell are you doing? I'm too tired to play one of your goddamn mind games right now. Shit. I knew the bottom line of this assignment was going to wind up being another one of your masturbatory control-freak exercises."

Despite Mulder's intoxication, Patterson couldn't gain control until he'd thrown a leg over the slender, little hips to pin his victim in place. This allowed Patterson to jam his tight testes against the cleft of the sweet, firm cheeks while he leaned hard on Mulder to tightly secure that wrist. "If you have to tell yourself those things to reassure your ego, go right ahead. But it's due time you graduated from your course through the ISU."

"Fuck you," Mulder cursed. "You think I left because I had a problem with authority figures? Don't flatter yourself; I quit the ISU because I figured out what a dangerous, egomaniacal tyrant you are. You're so sure God bequeathed you the oracle of Behavioral Science, you can't possibly learn another thing. The truth is, you're no longer any use to your profession or your trainees."

"Wrong again." Backing off the bed, Patterson proceeded to strip.

In the bathroom, Mulder had washed his face as well, but traces of the makeup lingered. When he heard the jingle of Patterson's belt and the zipper of his pants, Mulder tried to look back over his shoulder. The abundance of long hair obscured some of his view and added to the effect of depicting him as an enchanting "damsel in distress".

"Dammit, Bill, what the fuck do you think you're gonna do? Exact some kind of revenge because I refused to voluntarily kiss your ass and suck up to you?"

With a smirk, Patterson stepped from his dress shoes and bent to tug off his socks. The skirt had been hiked up even further, displaying more of Mulder's vulnerable, deliciously exposed crotch and backside. "Awful slow on the uptake aren't we, Miss Foxy?"

"I don't give a shit who you are! I'll fucking report you. I'd kill for the chance to have you raked over the coals by the Ethics Committee."

In only the pants, Patterson dropped them along with the briefs as one, despite his former pupil's glare. Penis fully erect and flushed from prolonged arousal, Patterson got on the bed between the unmercifully shapely, black-stockinged legs.

Hiking the skirt to finally unveil the perfect symmetry of each smooth, round cheek, he leaned down to very literally carry out some of the metaphors Mulder had just described. Only not only did Patterson kiss and lick, but he sensuously bit, noting how abruptly his pupil shut up. Whether Mulder's silence came from shock or enjoyment or both, was of no consequence.

Certainly Patterson was procuring a good deal of pleasure from his conquest. He seized the firm muscles apart to expose the tight ring he'd fantasized of so many times.

In soft lamplight, the thin hair glowed ethereal gold. The sweet aperture was impeccably perfect.

So like Mulder. Both in beauty and flavor. Never had Patterson been tempted to taste a man, until Mulder. And by God, he was more alluring than the most intoxicating woman Patterson had ever been with.

Though Mulder continued to wrest his restraints, his resistance slowly gave way. Enough so Patterson could venture his tongue into the threshold. Enough until Mulder elicited a very quiet but audible murmur of what could very well have been pleasure.

With this, Patterson couldn't help but seek deeper still. Until his chin tucked against the hard crotch and luxuriously soft testicles. Unable to hold off, Patterson introduced his forefinger into the prepared entrance. Strong muscle gripped Patterson's finger, and the little hips jerked. Instantly, he was on the bed, struggling to tuck his thighs beneath Mulder. The handsome, generous testicles bounced but there was no sight of slack penis.

Drunkenly, Mulder began to protest just when an urgent knock resounded on the apartment door.

Pausing only half a moment to deliberate who the caller might be -- and how the hell they'd gotten in without buzzing the front door -- Patterson chose to ignore the summon. Pressing his moderately wet-tipped penis to the same lovely passage he'd just been teasing with his tongue, he attempted penetration. But the muscle locked as the caller pounded harder on the door.

"Son-of-a . . . " Patterson cursed. Concentration shot to hell, he had no choice but to back off. No doubt, every other tenant on the floor had been jolted awake. "Give me a second to take care of the idiot at the door."

Straightening his smudged glasses, he hastily belted his robe on and strode adamantly to the front door.

First peering through the peephole, he espied Agent Krycek in his long coat, leaning on the doorframe, anxiously checking up and down the hall as he rubbed the corners of his mouth.

With a heave, Patterson yanked the door open on its chain guard. "What the hell are you doing here at this hour, Agent Krycek?" he hissed. "Why haven't you gone home like the rest of the team?"

"I'm trying to locate my partner," Krycek explained. "He's not at his apartment or the bureau."

"That's because he's here, with me," Patterson further hissed, now doubly angry. "We've been strategizing tomorrow's plans. You should have just called."

"I tried that, sir. But he didn't answer his cell. I tried calling you, but all I got was your voice mail."

"Look I assure you, we're both fine. Now go home." Patterson tried shutting down the door.

For a rookie, Krycek possessed a few surprisingly intuitive street smarts. He'd already braced himself against the door. And persisted. "I need to talk to him. I'm part of this investigation, too."

"You'll wake the entire apartment building," Patterson warned. "As late as it is, I offered for Agent Mulder to spend the night here. He's in the bathroom getting ready for bed, as you should be."

"I need to talk to him!" Krycek slammed the door with enough force to shake the wall and loosen the chain guard from its moorings. "Open the door and let me in or I will wake the whole apartment! My partner is my responsibility."

From the bedroom, Patterson heard Mulder call. "Krycek! I'm in here! Bastard tied me to the bed."

Instantly Krycek's gun was out, shoved through the narrow gap between the door and frame, gripped in both hands. He was a tall, imposing character. Though thin, his bone structure was more sturdy than Mulder's. "Stand aside," he said dangerously. "I'm gonna shoot the fucking chain off."

This was no rookie; there was a decided menace to Krycek's tone that indicated he wasn't making an idle threat. Patterson stepped back, knowing Krycek had passed the point of allowing the door to be shut down so the chain could be released.

Instantly, he kicked open the door, fully breaking down the chain guard.

Backing further, Patterson raised his hands slightly to indicate he would negotiate but not surrender. "You're deeply jeopardizing your future with the FBI, Agent Krycek. I intend to have a full discussion with the assistant director -- "

"Krycek!" Mulder called from the bedroom. "Arrest the bastard! Don't worry about it. I'll back you up. Don't listen to him!"

Krycek shoved Patterson toward the bedroom. "Hands in the air, where I can see them."

"Listen, you piss-ant rookie, I'm the chief of the ISU. How dare you treat me -- ?"

Ignoring the threat, Krycek slammed Patterson's back into the wall, the muzzle of the Smith & Wesson thrust under his jaw. Standing close, Krycek proceeded to pat down his superior officer.

Speaking more quietly, Krycek proceeded in the same menacing tone. "Sorry, but I was trained to aid my partner first and foremost. It just so happens I'm lucky enough to be working with one of the most reliable agents the Bureau ever turned out. That means I'll take his word over yours any day."

"I'm still a superior officer."

Ascertaining the lack of weapons, Krycek shoved Patterson to the bedroom again, gun poised.

Once again, the sight of Mulder's near nudity and dire vulnerability struck Patterson so hard, his cock lunged in arousal.

"Jeezus!" Krycek reacted. "What the fuck was this asshole doing to you, Mulder?"

"What's it look like?" Mulder replied sarcastically. "Turns out he's a closet queen. Fortunately, you showed up just in time. Arrest the son-of-a-bitch." With the cavalry present, Mulder shut his eyes, lowering his head to the mattress. "On charges of battery, attempted rape, sexual and mental harassment by a superior officer, and anything else I can think of."

X

SATURDAY -- SEPTEMBER 1994

It was clear Mulder was thoroughly exhausted once released, safely back in his Speedos beneath the short skirt, while Patterson slumped on the foot of the bed, cuffed. So exhausted, Mulder insisted on going home to sleep rather than taking the trouble to file the arrest report. Krycek's attempts at reason couldn't deter him, either.

After some twenty minutes of argument, Mulder -- his hair extensions a seductive mess -- finally stood before Patterson, teetering slightly on the high heels. "Look, if you swear you'll quit harassing me and treat me with respect or let me work this case in a normal capacity, I won't press charges."

Obstinately, Patterson remained silent a couple of moments. Then exhaled impatiently. "Very well, Agent Mulder. I suppose in your own self-appointment as the oracle of Behavioral Science, you expect to be treated with respect."

Tiredly, Mulder sighed. "I never said that . . ."

"Not directly, but the insinuation was apparent."

"No I didn't. There's no such thing. It's an ongoing learning process for all of us. I don't expect anyone to give a rat's ass about my methods, no more than you or anyone else should. And stop picking on your recruits. We're all human. We all make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are serendipitous. You never know. Stop fucking them up with your power trips. The job is hard enough without having to walk your tightrope. Just give us all a chance to learn."

"Surely you've figured out by now that my actions were not about vindication, lack of respect, or humiliation. Surely, you've caught on, by now . . ."

Straightening, Mulder cleared his throat, quietly. "Yeah . . . I guess I was slow on the uptake . . . Nevertheless, promise you'll do the things I requested, or I'll have Agent Krycek call in backup right now to haul you to jail. Don't think it would embarrass me to discuss this in front of the Ethics Committee, 'cos it won't. I'll have Krycek's testimony, as well."

"All right, all right," Patterson heaved again, making it obvious he was the kind of asshole who despised conceding. "We've got a case to deal with tonight. Don't forget to take your cuffs with you, Agent Krycek."

X

Without hesitation, Krycek provided any support necessary for his now cloaked partner, on the walk to the curb. He didn't need much; despite fatigue, he managed those spike heels with surprising ease.

Still stunned, Krycek was having a hard time finding his tongue. The sight of Mulder helpless and near-naked, except for black stockings and that little electric blue skirt hiked up around his hips with his ass on mind-blowing display was all Krycek could think of.

It had given him an instant hard-on, along with making him tongue-tied. No doubt, Mulder thought Krycek's stuttering and difficulty stringing together sentences was over embarrassment regarding the situation, but that wasn't the case. Jeezus, what Krycek wouldn't have done to lock Patterson in a closet for a while, then jump that incredible body.

The cool night air revived Krycek a little. "Has Patterson come onto you like that, before? Is that why you don't like him?"

"No, never. I don't like him 'cos he's a goddamn prick." Mulder gathered his coat around him a little more securely against the cold as they approached Krycek's black 1989 IROC Camaro.

"S - so -- you never had any idea he was hot for you?" Krycek fumbled for his keys from the pocket of his coat.

"Hot for me?" Mulder scoffed. "I was always under the impression he despised me. That was how he treated me. Course, that's how he treats everyone, but there were certain people he had a real bug up his ass about and I unfortunately, happened to be one of them."

Unlocking the door, Krycek automatically swept it open it for his partner. When Mulder paused instead of automatically stepping in, Krycek abruptly realized his mistake. "S - sorry. The skirt . . . the legs . . . Anyway, you said you were toast."

Without comment, Mulder got in. Leaving the door ajar, he worked on adjusting his coat and fumbling for the seatbelt. This meant Krycek was perfectly welcome to shut the door. He did.

Then quickly skirted the long hood of the car to slip behind the wheel. Upon sliding in, through his peripheral vision, Krycek saw his partner's long, stockinged legs apart, once again exposing the lace on the thigh-highs, as he adjusted the seat to lean back.

Cranking the engine sparked the stereo; Krycek lowered the volume on his favorite alternative rock music station. He didn't know what kind of music Mulder liked, but most of all, understood the guy just wanted to sleep.

Once again, Krycek flashed on the highly erotic picture he'd walked in on. On the drive to his own apartment, he considered the fact that Mulder was tired and it seemed he was drunk. Never again was he likely to be very forthright in providing information. Only at the moment, Krycek wasn't interested in the same information as his employers. "Did -- did you know Patterson was gay?"

Certainly this was news to Krycek.

"Uh - uh," Mulder mumbled. "I knew he'd been married . . . to a woman, I presumed . . . If anything, he struck me more as being asexual . . . I couldn't imagine him charming anyone into bed . . . "

"He's got a rep as being some kind of ultimate deity. Everyone wants to study under him."

"Well, I didn't . . . I didn't care who I studied under, as long as learned the ropes . . . " Mulder sounded like he was falling asleep. "They looked at my background -- my degree in psychology -- and sent me straight to Patterson. But no one warned me what a five-alarm dick he is . . . "

"You - you said he 'harassed' you . . ."

" . . . Like I said . . . he had some kind of bug up his ass. Nothing I ever did was good enough . . . He'd single me out in front of anyone around and chew me out over all my mistakes . . . Of course I made mistakes -- I was just learning. But that's not the way to deal with subordinates . . . he did it to one degree or another with everyone . . . I got sick of it and it just made me all the more defiant . . . after a while, I'd start talking back to him and he hated that even worse . . . I guessed that was why he had that bug about me . . . "

"Maybe that was his way of showing attraction . . . Maybe he was pissed that he had an attraction to you . . . because it was gay . . ."

"If that's true, no wonder his wife left him . . . Whatever the gender . . . "

"Most people who discover they're latent homosexuals tend to freak out, don't they?"

"I don't give a fuck when he figured it out . . . But why take it out on me?"

After a little more thought, Krycek decided Mulder deserved some praise. "You know, you were right when you said he specifically chose you for this assignment . . ."

" . . . Just had no idea how right . . . "

X

At his apartment building, Krycek gently roused Mulder from his sleep and assisted him from the car. Only then did he make a remark about the shoes, but still easily maintained in them. When the elevator doors opened, he sleepily regarded the hall. "Wait . . . This is your place . . . "

"It was closer. And you seem so out of it, I figured it would take us a half hour just to get in the front door of your apartment
building."

"You could have taken me to Scully's . . . "

Struggling not to show his impatience, Krycek sought out the keys to his door. Fucking Scully. He'd had nothing against her at first, but she seemed like a bitch and more and more, everything about her was getting on his nerves. "I guess I could have . . . But I kind of didn't think you'd want your girlfriend seeing you in drag."

"This is work . . . " Mulder looked down his legs. " . . . Not that she's really my girlfriend or anything, but maybe you're right . . . I'm too tired and fucked up to listen to her laugh over my ridiculous appearance."

Having conquered the deadbolts, Krycek pushed open the door and steered his partner in. "She's not?" Then shut the door and relocked it behind them. "You're not gonna tell me you two aren't . . . ?"

"We're not," Mulder chuckled, doffing the coat. "I mean, it's never been like that between us."

"You've gotta be kidding." Krycek took the coat immediately to hang in the foyer closet. "I understood why she slighted me, right off -- I kind of took her place as your partner. I know how that feels. But you oughta hear how she sounds on the phone when she calls looking for you. It's like she's overly-territorial. To the point of hostility."

"I'm sure you're over-reacting."

"I can hear the sparks through the telephone line." Krycek led Mulder to the bedroom to present the bathroom. "You probably want to clean up. Need anything?"

In front of the toilet, Mulder yanked up the short skirt then unabashedly hauled out the long, pretty hose the little bleached fag had been doubting the integrity of, over the top of the Speedos. Every discreet chance Krycek got, he admired that perfect piece of equipment.

"Just someplace to sleep."

X

In the livingroom, Krycek drew out the rented sleeper bed. He threw the other pillow and some blankets down, then thought he heard the shower. Shit. This meant Mulder had taken off that fabulous outfit.

So not to freak him out worse, Krycek returned to the bathroom, armed with an excuse. To his disappointment, he saw the outfit lying in a heap on the floor by the laundry basket, high-heels included. "You're gonna need something to wear . . . "

"Huh?" Mulder pulled back the shower curtain enough to look out. Both his real, spiked hair, and the extensions were lathered with shampoo.

"Hey. Are you supposed to mess with that weave?"

"Sure. Sandra told me I could wash it, go swimming -- whatever . . . " He shut the curtain again.

"Oh . . . " Unsure of how to go on, Krycek turned to unzip in front of the toilet, then prepare for bed.

Shirt untucked, he was bent over the sink when Mulder got out of the tub/shower enclosure, and reached for the nearest towel. As of yet, Krycek hadn't been able to figure out his partner's attitude toward homosexuality. And he sure didn't seem to realize he was tormenting that desire in Krycek. Since passing any direct observation was still "out of bounds", he did his best to subtly take in the view. And noted that Mulder was making no effort to modestly cover himself, as he carefully dried down the long hair, then headed for the bedroom. God, the guy could be lethal.

Quickly, Krycek finished brushing his teeth, then stripped off his socks and t-shirt for the laundry basket.

"Krycek . . . "

Immediately, Krycek looked into the bedroom.

Huddled in the towel, Mulder stood before the skewed bed which had been stripped down to the cover and sheet. "What'd you do? Take the blankets off your own bed? You don't have any extra ones?"

"Mm -- no," Krycek confessed. "I haven't been here long. It's the first time I ever pulled out the sofa sleeper."

"Yeah? Well, fuck that. You don't have to freeze on my account. Let's put the bed back together. We'll both sleep here. Oh -- unless the 'fag' thing grosses you out. Then I'll make due with my coat, if you can spare some sweats or something -- "

"No!" Krycek leapt to intercede. "I mean -- it doesn't bother me. Sure. You can sleep here. I'll go get the blankets from the other room. I thought it would gross you out."

With regret, Krycek surrendered a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt to his guest and covertly watched him obscure that smoothly shaved body. Though the shower seemed to have awakened Mulder to some degree, Krycek preferred to perform most of the labor involved in putting the bed back together. As he'd lost his last pair of pajamas during one of many changes of address, he generally slept in long-sleeved t-shirts, or nothing at all, depending on temperature and circumstance. When with Mulder, Krycek always dressed.

This time it was even more important that he wore something. In fact, he finished stripping in the bathroom, where he donned the shirt, then returned to the side of the bed he'd already established as his own. He didn't feel comfortable about being naked in the presence of someone like Mulder.

"Want me to turn on the TV?" Krycek inquired, able to look to his partner now, as he was covered up, and settling on the pillow with all that long wet hair.

"If you want."

Spending the next hour or so with David Letterman was not what Krycek wanted. He turned off the bedside lamp. In the dark once again, all he could think of was the titillating sight of Mulder in four-point restraints, naked little apple ass, crotch, and generous nuts deliciously exposed.

Apparently Mulder was kind of thinking along the same lines. "Why did you come looking for me, anyway?"

There were a couple of reasons; the most pressing one had been that Krycek had been so stirred by Mulder's appearance, the desire to spend time with him in full drag had been intense. The second one was because, like Scully, Krycek suddenly found himself feeling extremely territorial about Mulder, when Patterson had taken it upon himself to descend upon the scenario at the curb outside the club at the end of the evening. The forward overtures Patterson had made toward Mulder too, Krycek had found highly disturbing. "Something didn't seem right," he confessed. "That John Wayne thing Patterson did when you were waiting for the car. Did he . . . ? It looked like he kissed you or something . . . "

"Oh, you caught that . . . But you didn't know enough about him then to know just how damn hinky that was. You didn't think that was just an act to blow off the guy who'd followed me out?"

"I could have, but it just didn't feel right. As little as I know Patterson, it didn't seem kosher that someone like him would go and kiss a man in front of us field agents. He knew the camera was on him and the whole thing was being videotaped.

"It kept bugging me on the drive back to the bureau to turn in. You guys never showed up. And the way Patterson went peeling off in the Firebird, I thought you should have been there by the time we got there. So I went out to my car and thought about it. Finally, I decided to go check on you and make sure you were all right. When you didn't show at your apartment, either, I just felt something might be up and I had to look for you. I know we haven't been partners long, but the whole concept about backup has been well ingrained in me by now."

"Yeah, but you knew I was with a fellow agent. The SAC . . . the 'esteemed' Agent William Patterson . . . How could you think anything was wrong?"

"Let's just say he creeped me out. You'd given me an idea about him. I trust your judge of character; you're considered one of the bureau's best profilers they've ever had, for god's sake."

The answer seemed to satisfy Mulder. He fell quiet a few moments. "Well, thanks for showing up. You must have made a great cop . . . No wonder you made detective so fast . . . " No doubt Mulder was sincere, but it didn't do a thing for Krycek's aching hard-on.

X

After arriving at his apartment in attire he'd borrowed from his partner Saturday morning, Mulder discovered that five of the six calls awaiting him on his answering machine had been generated by Scully. The sixth one had been from Patterson. In fully professional guise, he'd instructed Mulder to be at the bureau at 6:00 p.m. to prepare for another evening on the job.

In the kitchen, Mulder speed-dialed Scully's cell phone. A little after 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday, she was probably out doing errands -- taking care of all the mundane things one couldn't do during the week, tethered to work. He'd just leave her a message in acknowledgment of her calls.

She answered in two rings sounding a little out of breath. "Scully."

"Hey, partner. It's me. Sorry I couldn't get back to you any sooner."

"Th - that's okay," she said. "I understand you were out on a case last night."

"Yeah. Trying to find the scumbag who got Agent Pettigrew. Did I interrupt your morning workout? You sound like you were jogging."

"Uh -- no. Shopping. Necessities. You know. I heard you played bait."

Poking inside the refrigerator, Mulder rubbed his eyes, phone perched on his shoulder. "The bu-grapevine's faster than CNN. Say, what's the best thing for a hangover? I used to know, but it's been years . . . "

"Protein."

"I knew it had to do with food . . . " The thought was repulsive, but he had to be at work that evening.

"In other words, you had to party down for the assignment. As well as play dress up."

Sighing, Mulder set the egg carton on the counter. "Will eggs work?"

"Not as good as protein from meat. Need some help? I can be there in half an hour with lunch."

Opening the freezer to find it bereft of anything but ice and a can of orange juice concentrate, Mulder decided he could easily wait another half hour. Even longer. "You're busy . . . I don't want to interrupt you. I've got coffee on."

"No trouble. Let's make it an hour, then. Gotta stop by the dry cleaners when I'm done here. I'll want lunch by then, too. You can tell me all about your new wardrobe."

X

By the time Scully got there, Mulder had at least gotten over the last bout of nausea by throwing up. He'd brushed his teeth and with the aid of coffee had succeeded in doing a couple of loads of laundry. However, the outfit he'd worn the night before hadn't gotten to the cleaners yet.

It was twelve-twenty and she'd brought hamburgers, the smell of which surprisingly didn't make Mulder want to throw up. Perched on the leather sofa, Scully lunched in her dainty way, the television on. "I see they shaved you . . . " She gestured in the vicinity of her breastbone, over her pale, V-neck pullover.

As Mulder was still in the borrowed sweat jacket, slightly unzipped, he only then considered that his chest was partially exposed. And was a little surprised she'd notice such a detail on him. "Not shaved, waxed. They did my legs, too."

"Tres elegant. Did they paint your toenails, too, like your fingernails?"

She'd already commented on how much she admired the color, which Mulder knew was a jab at his ludicrous appearance. "I'm surprised they didn't insist on shooting me up with female hormones."

Focusing on the TV, again, Scully took several more bites of her meal. During a commercial break, she spoke again. "I have to admit, I agree with their choice for a candidate. I don't mean it as an insult. I just think you're good-looking enough to pull it off."

"Which really translates into, 'You're definitely girly enough to pull this thing off'."

Unexpectedly, she fixed him with a surprised look. "I did not say that."

"You don't got to say it." He kept his gaze on the TV. "I know that's what you mean."

"Actually, the real translation is that you're handsome enough to make it work. In the classical sense. Classic beauty transcends gender, in case you didn't know. And with that long hair? My god. Permit me to say it, but I can't help being stunned."

What little appetite he had vanished. He set his lunch on the coffee table and picked up his coffee cup to lean into the corner of the sofa. "Go ahead. Make your jokes and get it over with. I'll do my best to laugh in all the appropriate places."

Setting her own sandwich down, she looked to him. The light through the slightly open blinds illuminated her bright, pretty, blue eyes, and the earnest expression on her face. "Mulder. I'm serious . . . God, you're absolutely clueless, aren't you . . . ?" She sounded as though she were having some sort of a revelation. "You really are very beautiful . . . and you have no idea . . . I'm sorry I teased you. I know you have a very healthy sense of humor -- I thought you'd know I was only kidding."

After the experience the night before, Mulder knew he was over-reacting. Typical response after that kind of ordeal. But until he'd decided whether to press charges or not, he wasn't about to alarm Scully. And in light of her apparent opinion, relating the incident would only reinforce her assessment of him, particularly since a well-educated and seasoned psychologist like Chief William Patterson was of the same opinion. "Look, Scully, I appreciate your flattery. Really. It's the kind of thing partners say to one another. You don't gotta go on. I get it."

Studying him, Scully blinked. "No, I don't think you do. For whatever reason they chose you for the assignment, I want you to know, if it were up to me, you'd have been my first consideration, too. That's how damn good-looking and what a good agent, I think you are."

"Yeah?" Mulder quickly diverted his gaze to the TV screen. "I thought they should have chosen you. You were the first person I thought of, knowing the type this guy picks. I told them so and reminded them how much you'd love to get back in the field. They said it would be too risky to send out another lady. I couldn't argue with that."

Scully raised an eyebrow. "You said that?"

"Of course. Now you, Scully . . . You're beautiful . . . " Checking the time, he got up under the delusion he felt a little more normal, even if he wasn't hungry. "Gotta go deal with some laundry."

"Let me finish my lunch then I'll help you."

"I don't need any help; I'm fine."

"Are you sure? You didn't finish eating."

"I'll finish it when I get back with the laundry." He headed for the door, in his comfortable sneakers.

"It'll be cold and even less appetizing," she pointed out.

Ignoring her, he let himself out.

It had been a while since he'd last been this hung over. He'd forgotten how long it took the effects to wear off. He'd finally figured out that the Irish coffee blend Patterson had served had had the bitter, underlying flavor of alcohol mixed in -- something he would have detected right away had he not already been well-inebriated. Obviously, this was not merely a beer hangover, but one combined with a substance much more potent.

As he struggled to fold and put away his laundry, he became all the more thankful of Scully's presence; she efficiently took over most of the task through the next load, as well.

On her use of the bathroom, she exited, holding the cobalt blue suit he'd worn the night before. "Cute outfit," she said, draping the jacket on a chair. "It looks expensive. You shouldn't have thrown it on the floor in there. Let me take it to the cleaners for you."

Glancing up, he flinched when he saw her holding the skirt against her hips, then quickly resumed folding socks. "When I go into the office this evening I'll take it with me so they can pay the dry cleaning bills. That's their responsibility."

"You have to work again this evening? Right. It's Saturday. An ideal night for hunting. Wow. This skirt is short on me -- it must be really short on you."

"Practically up to my belly button," he muttered, wishing for the umpteenth time he had a pack of cigarettes. Probably because the last time he'd been that hung over, he smoked.

"Really?" She sounded amused. Sans the skirt, she sidled next to him to assist folding laundry.

"And how did they hide your . . . ?"

"If you really want to take it to the cleaners, go ahead. Can you pick something up at the store for me?"

"As a matter of fact," she offered, "why don't I take all your dry cleaning in for you, while I'm at it? You don't seem in much condition to drive, so I'm sure you haven't taken your business suits in yet, either. Drawer?"

He answered by opening the appropriate storage place on his chest of drawers, once again hit with a wave of nausea for having bent over.

After collecting his suits, he sought out some funds from his wallet. Extracting a ten dollar bill, he handed it to her before she could leave, his dry cleaning on her arm, her purse on the other shoulder.

He knew the drying cleaning bill wouldn't have to be paid until later. "Pick me up a pack of cigarettes. Morley regulars in a box."

Startling slightly, Scully shifted, her purse falling down her shoulder. "Cigarettes? What for?" Becoming suspicious, she frowned. "What's going on?"

"What do you mean? Nothing. I just have a craving."

"'Craving'? What are you talking about? You're not expecting Cancer Man over, are you? Is that what's been going on behind my back?"

Tiredly, he laughed. "Nothing like that. Truth is, Scully, I used to smoke. It kind of helps me through a hangover."

Understandably, she didn't seem to buy it. "Oh, yeah? And how much did you smoke? A pack a day? Two packs a day?"

He thought. "Maybe a pack-and-a-half a week. Sometimes only a pack. It varied a lot and I don't remember, exactly. But no, I never went through a pack in a day. That was two or three years ago."

"Well, if you ever really did, I don't want you starting again. I'll bring you something else that'll help you get through the hangover, better. Something I can trust. What were you drinking last night?"

Considering what he'd have to push himself through that evening, Mulder couldn't help but draw offense. She was probably going to prescribe some lame-ass accepted medical remedy like aspirin, thiamin, and vitamins. "And just who the hell died and made you my mother?"

"All right, I'll bring you your cigarettes, but I'm taking you back to work tonight. I want to make sure Cancer Man has nothing to do with this. Now, what were you drinking?"

Her abrupt compliance surprised him, again. "Uh, beer. Until I got to Patterson's. He gave me coffee with something a lot stronger. Like whiskey or scotch. I never saw him pour it in. If I had, I wouldn't have taken it."

"Patterson? The William Patterson of the ISU?"

Again, Mulder flinched. "Y - yeah."

Hiking her purse back onto her shoulder, she brightened. "Be right back."

X

Deliberate in tactic, Patterson arrived at Mulder's apartment without prior notification, just before 3:00 p.m. Patterson already knew Mulder's partner drove a five-year-old, black Camaro IROC, and made sure it was nowhere in sight.

As an excuse, Patterson brought the most recent tailored outfits in a garment bag along with stockings, size tall, for those long, incredible legs, and matching pumps as well as a small but costly bottle of Chanel Number Five in a separate overnight case. His wife had aspired for such extravagance, but Patterson had always scoffed at the idea.

Unlike the rude manner in which Agent Krycek had pounded, Patterson was very civil about his summon. He waited patiently then after a while, knocked again with equal equanimity.

When the door opened, the boy's innocent looks became alarmed. "Bill! What the hell . . . ? You said I didn't have to be in until 6:00."

"Mr. Trent finished tailoring a couple more outfits. I took the liberty of bringing them to you in advance." Since Mulder didn't move, Patterson gently but firmly pushed the door open. He surveyed the small apartment, shutting the door behind him as he ascertained that no one else was present. "Where's the bedroom? So I can hang these things up?"

"Just hang 'em right there." Mulder gestured at a billiard ball coat rack to the right.

Past the dining area, Patterson made his way into the living room. There he discovered the entrance to a bedroom. "Ah. Here we are." Entering, he surveyed the room. Double-bed. But austere. Vacant. The wife was two years gone he knew, but apparently no one had taken her place. It was just as well; someone like Mulder deserved so much better. His wife may have been intelligent, a decent agent, and possessed some looks about her, but Patterson had heard she was the domineering type.

Upon turning back, after draping the garment bag on the bed, he eyed his subordinate who'd followed. He appeared hunted, drawn, weary. No doubt hung over. And definitely in need of a shave. But he sucked in his voluptuous lower lip in such an enticing manner. And how the knit of his sweat pants clung to his obviously unfettered genitals -- hinting at the ridge of his corona, the perfection of his glans penis, and the generous swell of his testicles.

"Look agent, I duly apologize." Facing Mulder, Patterson slipped off his trench coat. "Thinking the situation over, after applying clearerreasoning, I've decided the best thing would be to start over."

The naturally long eyelashes veiled the wickedly beautiful hazel eyes. "Start what over?"

"You know." Holding his coat in one hand, Patterson gestured with the other. "Our affiliation. We're both on the same team. Let's piece this thing together, now that we're both more sober."

In disbelief, Mulder threw the long tresses back and paced at the foot of the bed. "I don't believe this shit . . . Last night you assaulted me. I only agreed to finish out the case, not forgive and forget."

Also dressed more casually in a button-up of rust, lightweight denim, and comfortable drawstring and zippered pants, Patterson feigned patience. "I suppose that's your prerogative. Although I thought you were a better psychologist than that. Now let's try the outfits."

"I'm trying to be as understanding as I can. If it weren't for the fact that I am a psychologist and our past history, I would have had you arrested on the spot."

"But you resent me now. Resent me because now you know I have this heinous aberrancy. We both know our field has discovered that such tendencies don't stem from mental illness. We know that such a minor diversity should be accepted as readily as, say -- the difference of taste in movies. Hobbies. Music."

Dropping his gaze, Mulder folded his arms. "That's not the part that bothers me. We both also damn well know that rape is a crime of violence and brutality."

"But to every rule there are exceptions. If you'd shown some reception -- some understanding -- I never would have had to resort to such measures. But no. You made your narrow-minded bias on such matters manifestly evident."

Again, Patterson reveled at the privilege of seeing Mulder startle in wide-eyed, boyish innocence. He abruptly released his plush lower lip. "So you're accusing me of homophobia?"

"Not at all. The word 'accusation' suggests an air of uncertainty. Whereas I'm stating fact."

Unzipping the garment bag, Patterson presented the sexy, tight-fitting, strategically-revealing treasures within. He couldn't wait to see Mulder in all of them, but would start with the fetish-tickling foundations.

"Well, you're obviously no Sigmund Freud, either," Mulder spit, acerbically. "I've got nothing against homosexuality."

"And I despise the simulated advocation of trendy causes. Particularly when it's done under the guise of philanthropy."

"Dammit, this is bullshit! You treated me like shit! Just like you do every other agent who has the misfortune of working beneath you. Then you think you can turn around and tell me that all along you had a thing for me? I don't buy it. If that were really the case, you would have treated me differently. Granted me favors. Something. I had no idea."

Patterson clucked. "Would it have made a difference? More likely, it would have made you all the more resistant."

"No, you're wrong. I don't know how I would have reacted. Flattered, probably. Freaked, yeah. But not because I'm a homophobe." Sitting down on the foot of his bed, he bent forward, rubbing the exquisite planes of his face, hiding beneath the long locks of hair. "Shit, Bill, I've been experimenting with guys since I was in high school. I had an affair at Oxford. Do I need to divulge every detail to get you to believe me?"

It was Patterson's turn to be shocked. He studied the lovely, svelte creature before him. In meticulously investigating Mulder's background, Patterson had found no such evidence, even in innuendo. "You . . . ?"

"What? You want his full name and address so you can look him up? And the names of the every guy I had some kind of an encounter with?"

Bristling, Patterson volunteered what he had discovered in Mulder's background. "It's good policy to perform background checks on all agents sent to the ISU for training. The more highly recommended the agent, the deeper I check. While you were in England obtaining your degree, you had an affair all right. With one Miss Phoebe Green. She's now an inspector with Scotland Yard. I saw her I.D. pictures as well as her records. Unless she had a gender-change before she hit college, all of her records reflect her as female."

"I'm not talking about Phoebe. Shit. Why the hell am I trying to defend my personal life to you? You're the one who stands to have his career destroyed if I go to the Ethics Committee. Just give me the goddamn outfits to try on, if you insist."

"Go shave, first. With hot water, shaving cream, and a razor, preferably. Those whiskers won't do the outfits justice."

Wearily, Mulder got up. "What for? I don't gotta be at the Bureau til 6:00. I'll have to shave again before I go so I don't have five o'clock shadow by 10:00 tonight."

"So you will. I'll buy you another goddamn pack of cartridges to make up for it, all right?"

Considering the price of razor cartridges, it was no wonder the offer was enough to elicit cooperation.

Once Patterson had memorized the particulars, he returned to the bedroom and the overnight case.

Allowing Mulder time to finish the job, Patterson eventually arrived in the bathroom doorway. He waited until Mulder had straightened from rinsing off all residue of cream. Then held out the next step in the process: A packaged pair of sparkling gold suspender stockings. "Put these on."

Patting his face with a towel, Mulder looked back to eye the package. "Fuck that. I'll put those on later, when I get to the job."

"Don't worry. I brought several pairs. I want to see the full effect. Now put those on."

"You've never put stockings on before. It's a hell of a lot of trouble and it takes time."

"We've got time. And once they're on, you can leave them on, until you get ready to shower. They'll go with all the outfits."

Drying off his hands with the towel, Mulder threw it at the hamper. "Look, Bill. Whatever you're imagining, you may as well forget it, right now. It's not gonna happen. And part of our agreement was that you quit harassing me."

"I see I had you figured right," Patterson observed, tersely. "You're all the more desperate to avoid me. As for the allegation of 'harassment', I wasn't aware apologies fit into that category. I hope that's not the way you react in all like circumstances. By now, you should have deduced the real reasons I gave you this assignment. It wasn't issued as a form of persecution."

Raising his eyebrows, Mulder gestured, but his usual ready wit seemed to have escaped him.

"Like it or not," Patterson went on, "you've either got to get over it or learn to live with it. Since it so happens that appearances are of the utmost importance to our suspect, we've got to make sure you look perfect." He held out the package again. "Put them on."

Exhaling, Mulder snatched the package from Patterson, then marched to the chest of drawers which he raided for a pair of jockeys.

"Not under these outfits, you don't," Patterson warned instantly.

Sighing all the more irritably, Mulder resumed his raid, for another pair of lycra swim trunks. "Save those for later," Patterson further instructed. "The stockings and bra will do for now."

This time, Mulder glowered. The innocent, little-boy looks and pouting lower lip foiled any credible malevolence to his demeanor. "I just remembered my partner's gonna to be back from the dry cleaner, any minute."

Instantly Patterson startled, though he carefully shielded this from Mulder, as any seasoned officer of the law learned to do. Despite Agent Krycek's fair, pretty looks, he was far different from Mulder. And Agent Krycek had displayed a rather vicious side to his personality the night before. But then Mulder finished his statement. "I'll be damned if I'm gonna be caught playing dress-up in front of her."

"Oh, you mean your former partner, Agent Scully." Patterson was relieved, but didn't show that, either. "Why would she be visiting? She has nothing to do with this assignment."

"Why wouldn't she? You don't understand the concept of friendship?"

Calculating, Patterson paused. A fellow agent would understand all extenuating circumstances an assignment could take on. Friendships? That was a crock. "Phoebe Green, Agent Fowley, and now Agent Scully. Like I said: Simulated advocation of trendy causes. Be your fucking self, agent. Don't put on airs for the sake of coming off like a truly empathetic psychologist. I'll take care of Scully when she gets here. I promise your present girlfriend won't see you in drag."

"Wait a minute. She's not my girlfriend," Mulder flustered. "It's not like -- "

"There's no cause to defend your actions. You're not even partners any more. So you have a weak spot for seeking sexual gratification from classmates and partners?" Patterson shrugged, pretending to exhibit indifference.

"It's not like that between me and Scully, dammit. And anyway, I already tried all the clothes on, remember? We know they fit. I'm not doing this in front of her, I don't care what you think."

Slamming the drawer shut, Mulder stalked out to the living room to sit on the sofa and await his girlfriend, glaring at the TV.

Picking up his trench coat, Patterson followed. He paused to regard Mulder with contempt. "Your insubordination will be noted on this case, a mark you really can't afford right now. You know this could cause you further demotion. Perhaps down to clerical status."

In the foyer, Patterson swept on his coat unattended. Then made sure to slam the door shut on his way out.

X

Scully returned less than ten minutes after Patterson's departure. Not only had she brought two packs of cigarettes, she'd purchased a lighter, two six-packs of Heineken, and a bottle of one of the better whiskeys. As little as Mulder knew about alcohol, she knew even less -- but had asked the proprietor of the shop, deferring all expertise to him. All her excuses didn't explain a thing. He didn't understand, but that didn't matter; he had cigarettes for his hang over, a Heineken, and her presence which had evidently scared Patterson away. Mulder was just amazed at how this proper, little five-foot-nothing lady had managed the job -- without even being aware of it.

After downing the beer, he remembered that alcohol was the only sure-fire cure. Enough to feel good enough to accompany her to a grocery store so they could both do their regular weekend stock-up.

In his Buick with Scully behind the wheel, Mulder could smoke all he wanted and not violate the airspace in her car. That, and the novelty of attending the dreary job with Scully, helped him get through the drive and despised errand without throwing up or losing all patience. Trips to the supermarket often tended to have those effects on him, hung over or not. And since she'd bought his cigarettes and expensive alcohol, he insisted on paying for her groceries.

Another couple of bottles of Heineken obliterated his nausea. He was able to finish some semblance of dinner with Scully, then finally prepare for work.

Having forgotten the ladies' attire strewn all over the bed, Mulder failed to shut the bedroom door before she saw any of it.

At the sight of the clothing, her pretty face lit up and she pushed past him, abruptly deaf. Turning up the bedside lamp, she held up each garment one at a time. Reverence illuminated her features like she was undergoing some kind of religious experience.

"When you were at the dry cleaner's," Mulder carefully explained, trying to figure out how to gently extract her from the room, "Patterson came by. He brought that junk. I'm supposed to wear one of those things tonight. I'll just take it -- " he tried to intervene with her perusal, but she was oblivious.

"These clothes are fantastic," she whispered. "I couldn't even dream about having a designer wardrobe like this . . . "

He hadn't thought her this shallow. "You know about this stuff . . . ?"

"Why anyone who shops for clothes has to have heard of these designer names. Unless a person buys all her attire at the local Wal-Mart . . . Plus, I know it's expensive. And this is evening wear. I can't believe the bureau paid for these things . . . "

"Neither can I," Mulder said quickly. "Here, just pack it all up. I gotta go shower and shave. They'll put it all together at the office."

"Oh, don't worry," she murmured. "I'll take good care of everything . . . "

X

Boy, oh, boy, was her former partner clueless. Anne Klein, DKNY . . . linen and silk blends . . . leather, stretch velvet . . . While Mulder showered behind that shut door, Scully prowled. The shoes were exquisite. Cut-out sides, peep toes, and ankle straps on fashionable pumps made of lace, suede, and genuine leather with matching handbags. Fine Victoria's Secret and Christian Dior bras lined with stitched in falsies. Even a bottle of Chanel Number Five which she had to break open then rapturously touch to her wrists and behind her ears . . .

And then there were the stockings. Marvelous, sexy, rhinestone-decorated, and seamed fishnets and Cuban foot weaves of suspenders and thigh-highs with lace detailing. But not a single pair of pantihose.

And no underpants.

Extremely risque for a woman, but for a man? With what Mulder's seemed to carry?

Feeling a little faint, Scully made herself breathe.

Oh, yeah. She'd noticed the basket. Well, how could she not? It was none-too-discreet, not hidden by anything unless it consisted of long, bulky shirts or outerwear. Come to think of it, pantihose probably couldn't do the trick either.

Uh-uh.

Scully would have to get involved. She understood about the importance of doing away with panty-lines or the frumpy look of ill-fitting bras beneath clothes. Granted, this was different, but definitely worth pursuit.

When Mulder returned with a towel around his little, masculine hips -- his body and long hair dripping wet, his chest and legs deliciously smooth -- he tried to steer her out. God, did he look fantastic. She resisted.

"You were supposed to pack all this crap up," he said, glancing over her pillage. Then struggled to gather the stocking packages and bras up in a hurry to stuff back in the overnight case.

"You've got to get dressed, anyway," Scully attempted intervention. "I was going to help you pick out an ensemble. I could even do your makeup."

"We have a makeup lady who'll be waiting at the bureau. She'll figure out the clothes, too."

"You - you don't trust my taste?" She couldn't help feeling a little hurt.

"It's not that," he said, shoving the overnight aside to next attempt to take the dress she was admiring, from her hold.

"It's just that . . . This is a sucky detail, and you shouldn't have to have to put up do with this end of it."

"No, it's a vital detail. And I applaud you for having the nerve to do it. I'd be hard pressed to think of many fellow male agents who'd put up with it. We may not be partners anymore, but I'm still a hundred percent willing to back you up." Rather than let Mulder take the dress from her, she draped it across the bed. "That means I'll be glad to provide all the help I can." She straightened her pullover and pushed up her sleeves. "Now. What is it you wear under the skirts?"

Apparently giving up, he returned to the bathroom. "I think you've pretty much seen it all."

"I mean," she stressed, "for your bulge. All I saw were bras, but nothing for -- "

"Scully!" Mulder alarmed voice echoed in the bathroom. "Let them worry about it. You shouldn't concern yourself over stuff like that."

"But I am concerned. I'm not gonna stand back and see this case get blown because everyone can easily detect you're a man. What did you wear under your skirt last night? You needn't be embarrassed. Just think of me as a doctor."

A towel around his neck, the long extensions somewhat drier, Mulder exited the bathroom with a sigh. He went to the chest of drawers and drew out a pair of black lycra swim trunks. "Like I said; they've got everything covered. Don't worry about it." With the trunks, he headed back for the bathroom.

Determined not to deliberate long, she arrested him. "Wait a minute. Let's see. Put them on."

"That's what I was about to do."

"Well, go ahead." She turned her back to him, itching to peek over her shoulder.

Within moments he passed her in the bathing suit, towel over his shoulders, to get to the closet, without a word.

Heart rate stepping up, Scully looked after her ex-partner hungrily. What a sweet, little round ass. Those coccygeal fovea, those iliac crests, the strong, sleek musculature in his back and his trim, little waist . . . And those legs . . . long, slender, and achingly shapely . . . Any woman in the world would kill to have legs like those . . .

Then she realized he was throwing on some casual clothes.

"What are you doing? I haven't seen anything." For the most revealing effect, Scully picked up the vivid jewel-tone amethyst sheath dress of stretch velvet. It promised to have a provocatively clingy fit. "Here. Put this on."

"You're still determined to humiliate me, aren't you?"

Shocked, she failed to stop him from pulling on a pair of jeans and fastening them. "M - Mulder. This is serious. Dead serious. Five women have been brutalized and murdered on account of this degenerate horror -- one of them a fellow agent -- and you accuse me of triviality like that?" She unzipped the dress and removed it from the hanger. "Now try it on."

Reserved in his surrender, Mulder let the towel fall to the carpet and did as instructed. Over the jeans. Obediently, he turned his back to her so she could slide up the zipper of the dress. It fit his back and waist in a breathtaking manner, divulging his lovely muscles and curves. Hm. The deep shade of the dress made his male musculature less obvious, but Scully was well aware of it. Very well. "Um," she ventured, "take off the jeans."

An impatient huff preceded Mulder's strained cooperation. He dropped the pants to the carpet.

O - kay. Scully crouched to coax him to step out of the pants. Swallowing, she got her first good look at his feet. She already knew they were utterly aesthetically beautiful by any standards, but with the nails painted, wasn't it at least a felony for anyone to be this sexy? And why in hell did any of this make her crotch absolutely throb?

On standing, she tugged at the short hemline of his skirt to straighten it, daring to brush one appetizing thigh with the dorsal side of her fingers. Then she took a step back, clearing her throat gently, to observe his loins. Evidently, he'd caught his hose upward, angling toward his left hip. A more than dazzling sight to behold yes, but, um -- no one should be able to perceive that through the dress.

"I, um . . . " Again, she cleared her throat. "Their solution doesn't work in this dress . . . I don't think you should wear it . . . "

"Maybe there is a god, after all," Mulder mumbled, sounding relieved. "Here. Lemme try that leather thing."

She brought it next. Consisting of both leather and polyester rayon with what felt like a weave of lycra, the dress was enviably stylish and chic. The stand-up, point-tip collar was striking. And perhaps the fact that it was black with a leather panel in the front and back would help.

They did. But at certain angles, Scully could still see a shape beneath the leather against Mulder's otherwise flat abdomen that would never exist on a woman.

"Did you wear swim trunks under the outfit you had on yesterday?" she questioned, slowly circling him.

"Yeah."

"With pantihose?"

The guarded, wary expression he wore, softened. Apparently, he'd been waiting for her to laugh or make remarks over his questionable masculinity. When he found this was not going to happen, he relaxed some. "N - no. No pantihose. They were stockings with elastic that only came up to here."

He indicated his upper thighs.

"Well, all things considered, I'd say the person doing your wardrobe blew it. The jacket was way too short to offer any cover. The tight fit of the skirt left nothing to hide behind. Like this skirt and the one on the stretch velvet dress." Folding her arms, she went to perch on the chair in the room.

"Men's bathing suits are made for men; they're equipped with a pouch in front. A pouch for the sake of comfort, I understand." Now that she was behind him, she could speak with a little less modesty. "A pouch that might work on a lesser man, but not on you, Mulder . . . Not with what you got."

Though she saw him visibly startle from behind, she repressed her amusement.

He got over it quickly, to scramble around to the other side of the bed for the phone. "Whatever you say, but you're a lifesaver. I'm gonna call Patterson and you tell him your assessment of the situation. Tell him you don't think the drag thing can work with me."

"I didn't say that," she maintained honestly, looking over him in entirety. "In fact, I must say that you look breathtakingly beautiful. And highly credible, without a stroke of makeup. All you need is the right underwear to fake it."

The hope drained instantly from Mulder's expression. He slammed the phone down. "You're some help," he intoned, sarcastically. "If you tell Bill that, he'll rush out and buy whatever you suggest."

Though she knew Mulder had worked at the ISU, she was impressed. "'Bill'? You're on a first name basis with the Special Agent ISU chief William Patterson?"

"Oh, don't you start, too," Mulder moaned. "Go work for him a couple of days, then see what that does to your hero worship. You'd have more fun in boot camp."

Surprised, Scully chided. "Mulder. The man's reputation is practically legendary. I doubt there's an FBI agent alive who wouldn't give their eyeteeth to work with him."

"You don't have to take my word. Try talking to some of the other agents who have worked with him. See what they say. Fuck it. I'll just wear this stupid dress." Sitting on the far side of the bed, he dug into the open overnight case. Taking out a package of stockings, he ripped into it. "Is there some trick to getting these things on quick and easy? Nobody told me shit and I sure as hell ain't callin' my mom to ask her."

Finally, Scully could laugh -- she just made sure it was sympathetic and light. She joined her partner on the other side of the bed. It was then that she saw he'd broken into one of the packages that contained a pair of Cuban-heeled, seamed, suspender stockings. An excellent choice for the dress, but far trickier.

"What the fuck . . . ?" he floundered, on discovering the suspenders. "What the fuck is this?"

"Self-gartered stockings," Scully supplied. "Up until now, I've only heard of such things, but never seen them first hand."

"I don't get 'em." Mulder made to toss them aside and seize the case again for another pair.

"Actually, they'll go perfect with that dress. Wear those."

"Fuck 'em. Give me a pair of the ones that stay up -- "

"Wear the ones you have in your hand," she insisted. "Those are perfect. I'll help you."

"Perfect?" he disdained. "What the hell is perfect about my playing a fucking transvestite? You just said I showed. The whole thing is a fucking farce. Who cares what stockings I wear?" He threw the stockings aside, then got up to stalk to the livingroom.

With care, she picked up the discarded stockings and followed him.

Sunset tones played through the open mini-blinds. The early evening news was on, quietly. Between the leather sofa and coffee table, Mulder lit a cigarette, incongruously dressed. As he was sans a bust, the bodice sagged in front but otherwise, the striking dress fit him like a glove, showcasing his incredible build and awe-inspiring legs like he could never fathom. At the moment, Scully couldn't see any sign of his male genitalia.

"What's the important issue, here?" she prodded.

Dropping the lighter, Mulder sat down on the sofa, legs apart in a typically male, but objectionably female manner. "The case, of course," he growled, after exhaling a waft of tobacco smoke. "That's the only reason I'm going through with this." One more reason to admire the man. She turned up the candlestick floor lamp and sat down by him. "Then let's get the stockings on you. But first," she paused to collect her breath and nerve to proceed. "Tuck yourself down in the least noticeable position."

"Huh?" He suddenly seemed to have lost at least ninety IQ points.

Pretending to watch the news, she steeled herself further. "Your penis."

"Oh." With his legs apart, cigarette in mouth, he yanked the short skirt up to his waist practically, and thrust a hand down the front of his bathing suit to fleetingly readjust himself. She only wished she could watch, but instead had to deliberately avert her gaze. Though he could hardly drop the skirt, she was aware of when he'd finished. Thus she arranged the stockings then held them to him.

"Start with the right side," she tried, never having donned suspender stockings before, "and work it up in place. Be careful not to snag them."

Bracing his lovely, bare right foot against the coffee table, Mulder leaned forward to start the stocking on with all the preservation one would use for donning socks. Well yeah, Scully had to remind herself. That was all he knew.

Wincing slightly, she stepped in place over his leg and eased the stocking up for him. In doing so, she felt the wet crotch of her panties and stretch jeans, but could do nothing about it. "These stockings are very fragile," she pointed out bending over him, her hair partially blocking her view. "You have to be gentle."

"It's enough of a pain taking these things off a woman," Mulder muttered, puffing on the cigarette, "let alone trying to figure out how to do the reverse."

Not what she'd wanted to hear. Men could be such boors. Oh, no doubt he'd peeled plenty of pantihose off women. Any guy who looked even half as good as Mulder could have all the women he wanted. "Thank you, Mulder," she said wryly. "But don't feel compelled to make me privy to the exact number of your acquisitions."

"That's not what I meant," he mumbled, mercifully sparing her further explanation. In the year she'd known him, she was only aware of one of his romantic relationships -- and it was a ancient one, at that. Up until that last remark, she thought he'd been raised with enough poise to know to keep his private life private. But because he didn't elaborate, her faith was rekindled.

When she reached the level of his knee, she looked up, tucking her hair behind her ear. For a fraction of a moment, she thought she caught him peeking down the front of V-neck of her blouse.

Insanity. She quickly brushed the thought aside.

Because he quickly diverted his gaze to the coffee table, she couldn't be certain. Further relegating the suspicion to mere wishful thinking.

"May I have the ash tray?" he requested, brushing at the pointed tips of the collar and the bodice of the black dress.

She passed him the tray that had remained one of the few constants on the table since she'd known him, though she'd always wondered why. Up until then, she'd only seen it used for assorted odds and ends. The mystery was now solved. "Your other foot," she prompted, stepping over his right, praying he couldn't detect the increasingly wet crotch of her pants.

As she worked that stocking on, she was granted a relatively immodest view of his bulge up the short skirt. For the dark colors and shadow, details weren't visible but size couldn't be masked.

From his vantage point, it was imperative that she not gawk, since he could readily see where her gaze was. It was hard not to.

After a moment he said, "I could try duct-taping it down." She struggled to pretend she'd been concentrating solely on the stockings. "Okay, stand up.

You finish pulling them up the rest of the way while I straighten out your seams in back."

"Straighten?" Crushing out his cigarette, Mulder got up to proceed as instructed. "Then this is a two-man operation."

"Pretty much, if you want ruler-straight seams. Anything less, of course," she bantered, stepping behind him, "would be uncivilized."

This time he copied her lighter touch as he eased the lingerie in place. This entailed hiking the skirt to his waist, a titillating opportunity for Scully who could now openly perform all the ogling she desired behind his back, reveling in the feel of his smooth legs while she necessarily groped.

"These are kind of cool," he remarked. "What took them so long to make stockings like this?"

"The evolution of textiles," she answered, guarded. He'd better not attempt to enumerate the advantages, from a male's point of view.

Once the stockings were in place, he released the skirt. It caught on the round curve of his backside. "So what do you think about the duct tape? Think it'll be sufficient?"

"Well, I don't know," she confessed, embarrassed. "And won't it hurt to take off?"

"Of course. But isn't the job more important?"

"The job's important," she agreed, wincing again for his sake, "but isn't that a bit much?"

"Aren't those seams straight yet?" Restless, he looked back over his shoulder. "Here. Let me go look in the mirror."

"What mirror?" Entranced by the task, she hated to stop. "You need a full-length mirror to see your seams. You don't have -- "

"Yeah I do. There's one behind the bedroom door."

"Th - there is?"

"How do you think I get dressed for work in the mornings?"

"Well, I'm done, anyway. But if you want to go check for yourself . . . "

Tugging his skirt down, he paused to get another cigarette, then headed for the bedroom in his stunningly pretty, Cubanstockinged feet. She rushed to follow, astonished at how strikingly impressive he looked despite that he was still sans makeup or bust.

In there, he closed the mini-blinds, turned up the lamps, then shut down the door to first briefly survey the seams, then the profile of his lap. "What are you talking about? I don't see -- Oh. That's nothing. No one's going to notice that. Especially in a dark club."

"Mul - der. No woman has that. And heaven forbid if -- " She shut herself up. In the year that she'd known him, there had been numerous times she'd inadvertently seen him stand at varying states of attention. She swore she'd never been around a guy with so little self-control. Either that or men of lesser endowment made arousal less obvious.

"Don't worry, when I find the guy -- if he buys this crap -- I'm not about to let him get far."

"He won't buy anything if he sees that bulge."

"There's nothing to see." Dismissing the argument, Mulder stalked to the luggage again. "Okay, what shoes should I wear?" He dug through the overnight case. "Patterson hired someone to do the makeup, but if you can do the kind of wizardry she does, it doesn't matter to me. I mean she actually makes me look credible, you know? How 'bout the purse?" From his chest of drawers, he pulled out an evening bag which he dangled by its strap.

"Well, if he went through all that expense," she forced herself to agree, "I suppose we should let the professional do the job." She chose the sexy, cut-out side, high-heeled, black, leather pumps. "Wear these. Here's the matching purse. But since both purses are black, I guess you can use whichever you want. Oh, and put on the bra, before you dress any further." She started for the door. "I just hope you don't get -- " she couldn't keep from pausing and clearing her throat " -- excited. I'll wait in the living room." Quickly, she started back to the living room.

"I know I'm not supposed to drink on the job," he said before she could escape far enough. "But do you think I can at least have one more drink to steel myself for this shit?"

It made no difference to her. "S - sure. I'll bring you another."

X

In front of the bathroom mirror, Mulder adjusted the falsies, then reapplied shaving cream for a last careful pass with the razor. Fucking asshole Patterson. Like razor burn wouldn't present a detectable problem. The phone rang. Goddamn skirt, stockings, and fake boobs felt weird to walk around in. He went out to pick up the phone by the bed. "Yeah?"

"Hey. It's Krycek. I know you were kinda fucked-up this morning. Why don't I come by to give you a ride to the bureau?"

Relieved it wasn't Patterson, Mulder relaxed. "Don't worry. I got a ride."

"What? A taxi? My rates are a hell of a lot cheaper."

"No," Mulder laughed. "Scully's here. She called and insisted on coming over to help me get through the hangover. I feel a hell of a lot better."

"Oh, your girlfriend . . . "

"I told you, she's not my girlfriend."

Holding a juice glass and the open bottle of whiskey, Scully returned.

"And I told you, you don't have to lie to me," Krycek said. "Jeez, I know I ain't your first choice, but for the time being we are partners."

"Don't worry about it," Mulder replied into the phone. "See you at the bureau." He hung up.

"I don't know anything about bartending," Scully said, "but I'll try and pour out an ounce."

"I've got shotglasses," Mulder assured her.

"Shotglasses?" Awed, Scully's big blue eyes widened. "First, I find out you're an ex-smoker. Now shotglasses. As always, Mulder, you just keep unfolding . . . "

"Back of the cabinet." He had to concede to amusement, starting for the kitchen. "It's been a while."

"First, go finish shaving. And rather than risk damaging the stockings, I think you oughta put on some shoes."

"Oh. Yeah."

In the pumps she'd chosen, he returned to the bathroom for the shaving cream and razor. The shoes were no more comfortable than the peep-toe pair he'd worn the day before, but what the fuck?

Once he'd trimmed off any regrowth of beard, he led Scully to the kitchen where he took down a couple of glasses. After all the expenses, Diana had left him with essentially everything. Even things he'd had a hard time figuring out what to do with. As the glasses hadn't been touched in so long, Mulder had to wash them out. He gave one to Scully. All in all, she'd gone out of her way to offer assistance. He knew she was trying to encourage him to get through a hellish assignment.

"Have a drink," he told her. "You paid for the stuff, after all."

"I - I don't really drink whiskey," she dodged.

"Neither do I," he said. "You may as well try it."

After some hesitation, she finally gave in. Then proceeded to cough and choke on it, only a little worse than him.

When they got over that, Mulder managed, "I think that means it's good."

"For twenty-five dollars a bottle," Scully coughed again, "it better be."

X

In the garage at the bureau, Mulder was disdained to discover he had to try and argue Scully out of attending the rest of his transformation. Though he assured her Patterson would highly disapprove of her attendance and would probably not be polite about stating as much, she was undaunted. She was still determined to meet him, and seemed dead set to witness her expartner in full drag. There was no talking her out of it. He knew her motive was all about giving herself a good laugh and a topic to giggle over with her coworkers.

"Fine." Getting out of her silver Mercury Sable, he slammed the door shut and hitched his coat closed. "If you don't mind being videotaped with a drag queen by the surveillance cameras."

"I don't mind," she smiled, seeming completely self-assured. It turned out that Patterson had been called out on another case and wouldn't be able to join this team until later. Yet even without her primary excuse for attendance and her cool indifference toward Krycek, Scully lingered.

After the quick introductions between Scully and the present staff, Sandra hustled Mulder into Patterson's office, which he'd apparently let her borrow the key to. Her portable mirrored case was already set up and waiting.

"You're in luck; your undies came in so I brought 'em with me. We did the best we could yesterday, but it wasn't enough. We didn't really have no choice," she went on, oblivious of Mulder's shock. "I didn't wanna have to tell Mr. Patterson I didn't think you should work that way, ya know? I didn't wanna tick him off. He's kind of a bear, isn't he? Anyway, so take off -- "

A knock on the door thankfully interrupted Sandra. They both looked back to see Scully step in, holding the door. "Mind if I watch you work?" she asked.

Before Mulder could muster a response, Sandra was already descending on the intruder. "Do you mind?" she railed. "Agent Mulder and I are in conference right now. If you want, you can watch later." Shutting the door on Scully, Sandra turned the lock then returned to pick up a shopping bag at the end of the table.

"Take them off?" Mulder echoed in horror, before Sandra could reveal the contents of the bag. "You've got to be kidding. With these stupid seams?"

"Are they pantihose?"

"N - no. I don't know what you call them. They've kind of got their own garter belt." He threw open his coat and lifted the dress over his right hip for the most efficient explanation.

"Ohh," Sandra marveled, evidently impressed. "Suspender stockings." She took his coat from him to hang up by hers on the pegs by the door. "Those are so sexy." Then she walked around him, to take in the full effect. "Wow. You look great . . . Anyway, I'm afraid you're gonna have to take 'em off while we try these on you. Don't worry. I'll help you put 'em back on."

Heaving impatiently, Mulder kicked off the pumps to stand on the cold, waxed tile, yank up the skirt, and gladly wrestle the stockings off.

"Careful, careful," Sandra chided, coming to his aid. In a manner far more sensual than Scully's, Sandra took over, slinking her hands somewhat evocatively over his legs as she eased the nylons down. Furthermore, she was more endowed than Scully, and the blouse Sandra wore beneath her surplice-wrap smock displayed an evocative amount of cleavage. While this momentarily distracted him, his contempt for the assignment remained unappeased.

Another more insistent knock shook the door. "Agent Mulder," Krycek called. "We're piecing together the itinerary for tonight. We need your input."

With the stockings only down to Mulder's knees, Sandra crouched before him, looking up his legs and skewed skirt. Suddenly annoying, she glanced toward the door. "Could you give us a minute?"

"We have no intention of interrupting your work, Ms. Brentwood," Krycek went on. "But this is important."

Sighing, she gently slipped the stockings all the way to Mulder's ankles, then off each foot. During which time Krycek knocked again. At last, she got up, carrying the stockings, and went to the door. "Keep your pants on, already."

Before she could open it, Mulder straightened his skirt and took the chair in front of the mirror. Damn, but his legs felt naked without even stockings to hide his girly, waxed state in front of the rest of the team.

Fortunately, Krycek was alone. And had already seen much more of Mulder. At the table, Krycek presented the notes scribbled on a legal pad. Before he could hand off the information, he noticed the discrepancy. "Hey. Why'd you take the stockings off? You're supposed to be preparing him to get out in the field, not disassembling his cover."

With the stockings still over her shoulder, Sandra approached, apologetic. "I understand that, but see, the bathing suit he's got on underneath ain't gonna be sufficient. We were working on making some modifications, ya know?"

"Modifications?" Krycek sounded surprised. "What the hell for? He came in looking fine. All you need to do is his makeup." He turned back to Mulder.

"You don't get what I'm driving at," Sandra went on. "See yesterday, we didn't have -- "

With only Krycek present, Mulder decided to get another opinion. A male's opinion. This made a lot more sense than depending on the word of another fastidious female. "What do you think, Krycek?" he asked quietly, as the door had been left open. He stood up. "Can you tell I'm a guy?"

Gaze sweeping over Mulder, Krycek deliberated only briefly. "Why? Because of your build? In that outfit, with that long hair? If I didn't know you, I wouldn't think for a second you were a guy. I mean, you're thin enough to pull this off, easy."

"See?" Mulder addressed Sandra. "Stop worrying about it. Just do the makeup then help me get back into those damn things."

But Sandra was incredulous. "You don't see it? What are you? Blind?" She beckoned Krycek for a profile view, hissing. "Do I need to spell it out? This guy is hung. And these tight skirts don't make no secret of it."

Impatiently, Mulder sat down again.

"Oh, that," Krycek said, calmly. "Of course I see it. I'd have to be blind not to."

"That's what I said," Sandra heaved, throwing up her hands. "This suspect you're after -- he gets a load of that load and forget about it. I've been hearing about him on the news. According to the reports, he only targets women, not transvestites."

"But what guy's gonna look there?" As if she were dense, Krycek blinked at her. Then looked to Mulder again, then the legal pad. "Jeez. With killer legs like those, a super-model body like that, and a bust like that, along with that makeup job you do? I can assure you, honey, no man in his right mind is gonna be looking for any bulge." Then added to Mulder, "Just make sure you don't do any slow dancing."

Sandra wasn't convinced. "That's taking a pretty big risk, isn't it? In the first place, this creep can't possibly be in his right mind, considering the shit he does. And in enough light . . . "

Finally passing Mulder the tablet, Krycek perched on the table. "You want me to get technical, lady? We got him on videotape. Add cold weather and dark conditions, and you can't tell."

"I've been club-hopping plenty of times," Sandra maintained. "It can get pretty hot and steamy inside if you know what I mean."

Agent Tavares, one of the other team members, looked in. "So what do you think, Mulder? We thought we should hit the guy's favorite hangouts again, then try a couple we missed yesterday."

Leaning to see past Sandra, Mulder addressed the other agent. "I think we oughta recheck his favorite hangouts, too, being as its Saturday. But we should save them for last. Most people run the circuit, then wind up back where they're comfortable, if they don't find what they're looking for anywhere else."

"Good point," Tavares agreed. "Hey. How come you're not getting glamorized all chulita? And what about the stockings? What'd you take the stockings off for?"

Rising to his feet, Krycek took the legal pad back. "I'll take care of it. I'll make sure Mulder's ready to be out the door by 8:30. Revise the itinerary." He ushered Tavares to the door.

"Say," Tavares called after Sandra. "Where can I get stockings like those for my wife?"

Amidst the laughter in the VC bullpen, someone else remarked, "To hell with my wife; I wanna get some for my girlfriend."

Once the door shut was shut, Krycek returned to perch on the table. "All right, Brentwood, so what are you proposing?"

From the shopping bag, Sandra drew out tissue paper, then held up what appeared to be a pair of miniscule, crushed velvet, black thongs.

Warily, Mulder eyed them. If Sandra thought he was gonna stuff himself into anything that tight and binding, she was deranged.

Up until then, Krycek had been performing a damn good job as Mulder's new partner. But after gawping at the slingshot a few moments, he mumbled, "Those could work."

Mulder almost choked. "Krycek! Are you insane? I'm not wearing those things."

It took Krycek a moment to find his tongue. "Look, lady, a guy couldn't possibly wear that without undergoing total castration, first."

"That's the point," Sandra stressed. "That's what these are for. They're called gaffs. They're made for female impersonators. To pack 'em in good and tight."

"For gangrene," Mulder instantly objected.

"Okay," she conceded. "I'm a girl. I don't know nothing about having those kind of appendages. But this is what all the transvestites wear. The only other solution would be to have someone else do the assignment. Someone with less going on who'd be a lot easier to hide. I'd still recommend he wear these things, but if he can get away with wearin' his jockeys, fine. But with as little time as we got, he better be about the same build as Agent Mulder, so he can wear the same outfits."

Krycek's mouth fell open. "You're kidding, right?"

Checking her watch, Sandra added, "Only I can't do no weave in an hour-and-a-half. I'll have to call Trent and have him run a wig over as quick as possible." She paused to study Krycek a half a moment. "How 'bout you? I'll have Trent bring a razor, too. No time for a wax." Fumbling for the cell phone in her purse, she went on. "Come on. Stand up so I can get a look -- "

In a panic, Krycek sought Mulder's assistance. "Now wait a minute. No way. I'm not wearing no wig or dress. I'll look ridiculous."

"And I don't?" Mulder countered.

"Don't worry," Krycek said. "You look damn good."

"You think I'm gonna take the word of someone desperate not to be the next 'Tootsie' runner-up?" Mulder was rapidly warming to the suggestion. "How 'bout it, Sandra? Will he do?" Getting up again, in his bare feet, he took Krycek's thin arm through his casual, loose-fitting indigo blue and white merle pullover to get him to his feet.

"You can't be serious," Krycek protested.

Evidently, Sandra had reached Trent. "Hold on," she said into the phone. "Let me check out the possibilities here."

"No fair hiding the basket," Mulder bantered, lifting Krycek's shirt in front. The jeans he wore revealed a bulge.

"Nah, you got too much." Sandra covered the mouthpiece of her cell phone. "Plus, Agent Mulder's hips are smaller. But if you don't mind takin' down the pants, I wouldn't mind getting a better look."

Becoming defensive, Krycek glanced to Mulder, then back to Sandra. "What? You want to measure me in comparison to Mulder?"

This did seemed fucked, Mulder had to agree. He knew Krycek sported a bulge, but had never even thought to do anything like making comparisons. Not only would such a measure wind up subjecting Krycek to playing transvestite, but it could result in making daunting inferences about his masculinity. "Wait," Mulder relented. "Never mind. I'll try those things on, all right?"

X

While Sandra seemed pleased with the results rendered by the gaffs, Mulder felt doubly castrated. He'd had to tuck himself back to fit in the constricting pouch. In no time, he was uncomfortably fidgeting, longing to free himself and tug the thong out in back. But as the women had pointed out, the job was the most important issue.

In the midst of applying the makeup, Sandra suggested Krycek help replace the stockings.

What she didn't know was that such an act was a major breach of masculine etiquette. Personally, Mulder wouldn't have cared but expected Krycek to adamantly refuse.

To Mulder's surprise, Krycek agreed to make the attempt. Taking the stockings from Sandra, he knelt half-way under the table and proceeded to carefully work the left side on, first. "Don't forget the seams," Mulder prompted, maneuvering to the best advantage for his partner.

"How could I?" Krycek snapped.

What the fuck was he doing? It seemed more like he was feeling up Mulder's foot, ankle, and calf more than anything else. It could be argued that Krycek was merely smoothing the stockings in place. Maybe he was used to playing this sort of game with his girlfriend, and out of force of habit, incidentally resorted to some of the same tactics he was accustomed to with her.

X

Waiting at a stoplight in downtown traffic, Skinner's train of thought was interrupted when his cellular phone rang. Sighing, he switched it to talk. "Skinner."

"Walter, it's Bill Patterson. I'm walking into a crime scene right now that I was told has all the earmarks of the artistic slasher I've been after. I haven't had a chance to reach any of the team on the Delaney case to tell them I'm going to be tied up for a couple of hours, at least. Houston was out for the evening. If it's not too much trouble, can you phone them for me?"

Again, Skinner sighed. "Yeah, sure. Where can I reach them?"

"You can probably catch them at the Hoover Building if you call right now."

With a minor glance around the intersection, Skinner conceded. "Well, I'm not too far from there. I'll drive over."

X

It was almost a quarter to 9:00 p.m. when Skinner parked close to the most likely entry in the garage. Since he almost never walked the offices in casual clothes, he felt somewhat out of place in a dark cinnamon, buttoned corduroy shirt and a jacket over jeans.

But he wouldn't have to enter the building; he espied the ascribed team heading for one of the unmarked Bu-Vans and a dark purple Pontiac Firebird. They, too, wore casual clothes -- except for one of them. An absolutely stunning, golden-brown brunette in a black leather dress and black-seamed stockings under a long trenchcoat.

As Skinner approached, he saw Agent Scully tag beside the striking brunette when she parted slight company toward the driver's side of the Firebird.

Son-of-a-bitch. The gorgeous woman was Mulder and he looked incredible.

Nearly choking, Skinner had to cough when he spoke up to address them all. "Agents. Just dropped by to tell you that Agent Patterson isn't going to be able to join you for at least two more hours. He was called out to another case."

While they all acknowledged the information with murmurs and nods, Skinner dove for the opportunity for a closer look at Mulder. Agent Scully was not part of the team, and thereby her presence needed to be questioned.

Stepping up, Skinner stood to bar Mulder's entry into the driver's seat of the Firebird. He was fucking stunning. No -- beautiful. Long, tumultuous hair that perfectly matched his golden brown tresses, eyeliner, bronze eyeshadow, evocative blush -- and that shapely mouth. It's sensuality had been played up to the point to bring a man to his knees. "Agent Scully," Skinner enunciated drily. "What are you doing here?"

She flustered. "Uh, well, I figured this had to be a hard case for Mulder, so I just kind of dropped by his apartment for moral support."

"Yes, well, you're not part of the team so I'm afraid you're not authorized -- "

"Sir," Mulder interrupted, sounding distinctly odd, only because his voice was coming from a seeming stranger. An astonishingly lovely one, but a stranger, nonetheless. "It's my fault Scully's here. I was kind of hung-over from last night and I asked her to come with me. She really helped me through it so I could function tonight. I'm really not much of a drinker, sir, but I kind of had to for appearances' sake."

It was impossible not to; Skinner's gaze raked Mulder's body. "I see," Skinner managed, jaw locked in place. "Well, carry on, agent. Your appearance is admirably convincing. Agent Scully." He nodded once at her. "Your assistance is appreciated. You may go home now."

X

As of yet, they had no photo I.D. of the suspect. Only an audio recording of his voice and sketchy descriptions from the bartender and a couple of club patrons.

With his training, Mulder could imagine the role he had to perform would be a nightmare for a rigidly straight male; fortunately, he wasn't one. But the VC team didn't need to know this. They could just think he was so dedicated to the job, he simply forced himself through every minute of it.

While in fact, unless he had to deal with someone he found utterly repulsive, and as long as he could get off the heels every now and then, from a psychologist's point of view and on a personal level, there were interesting aspects to the assignment.

As he mused over the experience, he allowed himself to get drunk enough to establish some new insights and consider the demolition of a few walls of his own -- to himself, of course.

Without a doubt, he liked being pampered and complimented; he was neither affronted nor felt his masculinity challenged when someone bought him drinks, appropriated a table, or opened doors for him. Why some women resented it, he had to rethink. Allegedly, it was because they felt they weren't being recognized for their equality, but from this peculiar vantage point, he had an entirely different perspective. From what he'd heard, men were heathens who chose every opportunity to grope and grab, uninvited. Which was why he never imposed himself that way with women. But now he discovered this wasn't the case. Most men did no such thing. He saw only a few sleazy, low-life types he'd spotted a mile away, get slighted for possible rude behavior, but that was all. And certainly, the women should have avoided those men in the first place. All Mulder received was a brief touch on the back or the waist, which was all he saw any woman get from the ninety-plus percent decent male patrons.

Sometime after 11:00, at one of the suspect's favorite hangouts, Mulder finished downing a tequila shooter to see Patterson across the bar, lenses glinting. Shit. He wasn't supposed to be there, threatening to blow Mulder's cover or make it appear that he was "attached" to anyone.

So he ignored Patterson to continue the conversation with the good-looking financial advisor who'd purchased the shooter, as they downed their beer chasers.

"What do you do?" the financial advisor inquired by Mulder's ear to be heard despite the loud DJ'd music.

"Psychologist," Mulder replied. His standard answer. It was the truth.

"Must be an interesting job. You work for a hospital or a clinic?"

To maintain honesty, Mulder would have to vaguely name the government as his employers. But he'd considered the best answer for the task the day before; "Private practice." This would allude that he earned more money than he did -- a factor that would impress the suspect and not spook him -- plus explain the evidently expensive wardrobe.

"So, I guess I should be addressing you as 'Dr.' Fox."

"Look, I know, it's a stupid name, but I didn't make it -- " The financial advisor leaned in a little closer. "Actually, I think it's very fitting."

Maintaining their proximity, Mulder consulted the purse for his driver's license. He'd make sure to strategically cover the "M" listed as sex-type. "You want me to prove it's the legal name my parents gave -- ?"

"No, I believe you." The financial advisor arrested Mulder from completing the gesture by placing a hand over his. "Your parents had a lot of foresight."

Out of nowhere, Patterson appeared, insinuating himself between them. This forced Mulder's company to back off. "Here you are, Fox. I trust you've been keeping yourself amused in my absence." Patterson gestured for the bartender. Dubious, Mulder's companion eyed the older man with misgivings.

With a smug air Patterson explained, "She was waiting for me."

Once the bartender departed for the drinks, Mulder slammed his empty pilsner down to regard Patterson, incredulously. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"Buying us drinks." Glibly, Patterson opened his wallet and took out a twenty dollar bill.

"I'm supposed to be alone," Mulder stressed quietly.

"But you weren't." By Mulder's ear, Patterson went on. "This fellow is pasted to you. And not to mention, getting too familiar."

"Familiar?" Mulder echoed in disbelief. "We went over these details yesterday. Get lost and let me do what I gotta do."

"Do you mind?" Pointedly, Patterson stared down the financial advisor, until he'd withdrawn. "Now," Patterson went on, by Mulder's ear, "is that any way to talk to the man whose been clothing you in finery? Stand up a moment. I want to see how you look."

"I'm not standing up. I've been on my feet too much all ready in these damn shoes."

"Ready to call it a night?"

"No!" Mulder snapped, ignoring the shooter for the time being, for another drink of cold beer. "I'm fine. But I'll be even better when you go."

Leaning far closer than any stranger had dared, Patterson tickled Mulder's ear. "Mustn't play too hard to get, remember?"

"Hey -- " Mulder hastened to pull away.

Again, he was arrested -- this time by a discreet but distinct grip on his upper thigh, toward the inside. "Don't make a scene, now. If our suspect is around, he'll scare."

"If he sees you've practically got your hand up my skirt, he'll scare worse." Dropping his own hand to his thigh, Mulder prepared to intervene.

"Actually," Patterson proceeded, uncomfortably close, "I've been thinking about your profile and it makes good sense. It couldn't hurt to let him see you allow for some mildly risque consorting in public, although it's pretty unlikely anyone can see anything, with my coat in the way."

Trapped by his own devices, Mulder released Patterson's hand. Picking up the fresh pilsner again, Mulder sought to hide his disgust by taking another drink. Damn. If he'd been wired for communication, there was no way in hell Patterson could get away with this. Flinching, Mulder felt Patterson work his touch higher, to finger the lower edge of lace on the stockings. "It's called lewd and lascivious behavior. Talk about getting familiar . . . For the sake of the case, you know you should really just go."

"That was different. That person was a total stranger. You and I have been acquainted for eight years." Patterson fondled through the gaffs. "So, what are you wearing? This is much tighter than the swim trunks I left you in. Whatever you're wearing, it's too tight." He tried easing the panel aside.

"Fuck you!" Shoving off the stool, Mulder shot away. He couldn't help but gain attention from the nearby patrons. "Lay off me, before I ask one of the bouncers to escort you out."

X

To Mulder's relief, Patterson backed off. Occasionally he was espied in the distant background, but Mulder easily escaped his former supervisor.

A couple of hours later, Mulder welcomed the opportunity to sit on a barstool, at one of the removed tables, with another patron. The pointed toes of the pumps had become painful from standing and dancing, and in the relative dark in this remote spot, no one could see up the skirt, so Mulder could sit without having to allocate much concentration to the act. Aside from comfort's sake, the guy who'd last offered to buy this round of drinks, fit within the parameters of potentiality.

He was blond, well-built, and kind of intense. He had a Peter Weller look to him, but played it way down.

"Maybe -- maybe you can give me your number," the guy said, after the waitress had dispatched their drinks. "I could call you. Or maybe I'll just see you here again, sometime."

"What'd you say your name was?" Mulder asked, knowing full well the guy hadn't disclosed the information.

"Grant."

"Why? Do you have to leave already?"

"Well, no, I just thought . . . " Leaning forward so they could communicate over the music, Grant ventured, "Say, what do you do for a living?"

"I'm a psychologist."

"A psychologist? With your looks, you could be doing something that could make you more money."

The remark further supported the possibility that this may be the suspect. Well-adjusted men would never make such an observation to a woman they just met. In response, Mulder had to attempt to supply the right bait without arousing suspicion. "You think so? Like what?"

"Would you seriously consider a job like that, or are you just making conversation?"

"Do you mean like modeling or acting?"

"A lady with your looks could really make money at something like that."

"Well, I . . . I don't know . . . It's not steady work."

"Yeah well, if you got enough offers, it wouldn't need to be steady. No more nine to five drudge work, you know?"

"Theoretically, it sounds good." Toying with his straw, Mulder took another drink. "So what do you do?"

It was a moment before Grant answered. "Body work."

When no further elucidation was forthcoming, Mulder ventured, "I take it you mean auto bodies, right?"

"Yeah, of course," Grant kidded, removing a pack of gum from his shirt pocket. Taking a stick for himself, he then offered one to Mulder. "I got my mechanical training in the air force."

Much as Mulder wanted to take it, chewing gum probably wouldn't come off as particularly lady-like. He declined. "You were in the marines?"

"But I got another job on the side," Grant went on, nodding. "Nobody ever made much money repairing dented fenders."

"What's your other job?"

"I do some of the shoots for a video dating service. A friend of mine works there. The service was just doing so-so, until my friend told them their videos sucked. He knows I'm into photography and stuff, so he told them about me."

"Oh, really?" Mulder didn't have to pretend when he raised his eyebrows. "Is that why you asked if I'd be interested in modeling?"

"I can't help it, but I automatically see things like through the eye of a camera. I've always been this way. When I see someone or something striking, I imagine it framed like a photograph."

If this was the guy, this must have been his line for hooking his prey. "You see me like that?"

"Yeah. I also happen to have a few contacts in the City. I couldn't promise anything, but I could get your picture on the desks of the right people, you know?"

Even though the offer was probably a lie, Mulder still had to contain a shudder. Being out in public in drag was horrific enough without having his image committed to print, as well. But he had to feign otherwise; this was precisely the sort of M.O. the FBI believed the suspect used.

"Really?"

After Patterson's ongoing harassment, he'd suddenly disappeared when Mulder accepted the invitation to leave the club. His survey had to be subtle, but he finally espied Patterson at the last minute, to exchange a look with him.

X

Ignoring Skinner's order, Scully followed the surveillance van and easily appropriated Patterson's cellular phone number. She parked her own vehicle a safe distance from the van and waited, watching. In light of Agent Pettigrew's fate, Scully was too anxious to sit home and hear that a similar fate had befallen Mulder -- particularly because the moment the killer discovered he'd been tricked, he'd probably be a lot more swift to act.

Some two-and-a-half hours later, Patterson arrived then went into the club. He came out some twenty minutes later at a brisk clip, heading in the direction of both her vehicle, and the van.

Whipping out her phone, she promptly dialed him.

She saw him scrabble for his cell phone as he continued his jaunt. "What is it?" he snapped, on the line.

"Sir. This is Special Agent Dana Scully. I know I'm not . . . " Just then, she recognized one member of a couple who'd slipped out a rear exit, under a streetlight. Mulder, appearing just as ravishing as when she'd last seen him, managing his high heels with impressive grace, down the side street. "Not - not part of the team," she resumed her phone conversation, "but I'd like to assist."

"If we needed any assistance, we would have requested it."

"I understand that, sir, but I'm here already. I have Agent Mulder in sight, in fact. We were partners, sir, so you can understand my concern on a case like this."

A good distance away from the "couple" Patterson could speak at a normal volume. He sighed audibly. "Very well, agent, but you take instruction from me. Is that understood?"

"Yes, sir," she said, quickly, before hanging up. When she saw the possible suspect finally reach his vehicle to unlock the doors, she sat up started the engine of her silver Sable.

X

By the time they reached Grant's dwelling, well outside the city limits, in his 1978 Silver Anniversary Corvette, Mulder was crossing his stockinged legs for good reason. Having left is coat in the appointed Firebird, he tried not to shiver on the walk to the side door of the house. God, he hoped the van had made the entire trip. He'd seen it via one casual glance out the rear window of the Corvette, but made no other effort to ascertain this.

The arrangement was that he'd dispatch a speed-dialed call to the team, as soon as he'd uncovered enough evidence to warrant arrest. The only way to do that, of course, would be in private. At the moment, he couldn't wait that long to cop a moment of privacy. Once they were inside the semi-dark house, he had to ask for the location of the facilities.

"Oh, sure," Grant said. "Just hold on a second; I was fixing it this afternoon. Let me make sure I hooked the chain back up. Or it won't work." He withdrew down a dark hallway.

A brief survey of the room told Mulder this was not the house of a thirty-odd-year-old bachelor.

Circa 1970 furnishings were mixed in with a few modern things. It didn't take long; Grant was back in moments. "It's cool. Down the hall, first door on the right."

Taking his purse, Mulder started down the hall.

"How 'bout a drink?" Grant asked.

Though inebriated enough, turning down the offer would be suspect. "Sure," Mulder said. "What do you got?"

"Like J.D.?"

Evidently, Grant wanted Mulder blasted. And being as he hadn't had anything stronger than beer in years, Grant would get his wish if Mulder wasn't careful. "Um, yeah. Sure."

Downstairs in a basement turned studio, Grant showed off his video and camera equipment.

Pretty damn impressive shit for someone who lived in such a lower middle class hovel. The smell of developers and cleaning solvents were somewhat strong in the room, despite an open, cracked transom-style window. Of note, heavy duty screw eyes had been sunk into the exposed beams supporting the first floor.

Folding his arms against the cold, Mulder surveyed the ceiling. "What are those for?"

"Huh? Are you cold? I can turn up the heat down here." Going to the furnace, Grant made an adjustment.

"What are the hooks for?" Mulder persisted.

"Oh, those? This was my parents' place. My dad used to have a pool table in here. He had this big, old-fashioned light hanging over the table."

It was impossible to tell how long they'd been there without closer inspection.

"That is one badass outfit you got on," Grant commented, loading a camera. "If you want, I can take a few pictures of you in that dress, then we can arrange for something else, later on."

"Well . . . " Mulder had to pretend to hesitate. "I guess it would be all right if you took a couple of pictures now."

"Okay. Why don't you go on up and use the bathroom mirror to put on more lipstick and do your hair and all that stuff, first? I want you to be happy with the pictures, too, you know."

Taking a couple of steps toward the stairs, Mulder stopped. "When can I see the pictures?"

"I can develop them right afterward, if you want." Grant nodded at the darkroom.

"Yeah, of course I want." Instead of leaving, Mulder found a chair to sit down, where he opened the purse. "Where are you going to take the pictures?"

"You don't want to use the bathroom mirror?"

"Nah, I'll just put on some more lipstick. You -- " removing the lipstick and compact from the purse, Mulder looked up. "You're not gonna suggest I take off my clothes or anything, are you?"

"I don't do that kind of shit. Just straightforward stuff."

"I gotta be honest. I don't know anything about modeling. You're gonna have to instruct me . . . "

"No problem. I've dealt with some real dogs, doing that video dating stuff and made them look good. Their profits went up like sixty-five percent after I started helping them out. And that's only on a part-time basis. I've done some of their parties, clients' weddings . . . stuff like that." He turned on a couple of tripod-mounted photographers lights. "Imagine what I could do with someone as beautiful as you."

The bright lights served to make Mulder more uncomfortable. Damn, this guy might see too much under heavy illumination. "Do we gotta have all the lights? I'd rather have something atmospheric."

"Atmospheric? Let me think . . . I can use filters -- "

"Let me -- " Mulder scrambled to his feet and started for the stairs. "I've decided to go use the bathroom to fix my hair. Why don't you adjust the lighting for some ambience?"

X

Out on the rural road, Scully had followed Patterson to climb into the back of the van. No dome light flashed on; only the dim illumination from a monitor burned within. With assurances that Scully had already met the team, Patterson gave her no introductions.

It got later. No phone calls. They could see nothing untoward going on at the windows, via the night vision camera, trained between the trees in the yard.

Just as Scully had licked her lips for the last time and was about to speak up, Agent Krycek did, instead. "Sir. I really think we oughta move in. Mulder may not be able to use his phone, privately. If we wait too long, it could be too late."

"You think I don't realize that?" Patterson snapped, tersely. "We know Mulder can defend himself. Let's give him another few minutes."

"Sir." Krycek sounded strained. "It's been over an hour."

Even more concerned, Scully had to side with Mulder's current partner, wary as she was. "He's right, sir. The longer we wait, the riskier the situation becomes. Let's move in before anything happens to Agent Mulder."

X

Son-of-a-bitch. This was a joke. Just like Mulder knew from the beginning. There was no way he could get away with this. He doubted a little powder could trick Grant for long under the bright glare of photography lights.

The thought of aborting, tempted Mulder. All he'd have to do was call the team, right then. Grant was busy in the basement. Mulder would be forthright, too. Fuck it, I can't do this shit.

When he arrived downstairs again, he found the lighting reduced to much softer levels. Grant had switched on different, color-filtered lights, instead. He held a light meter.

"How's this?" He asked.

"Better." Mulder's breathing slowed to a more normal rate. "I like this a lot better. It's . . . sexier. But before we take any pictures, do you think you can show me some of your prior work? Let me see the kind of quality we're talking? Anyone can snap a shutter. I'd just like to -- "

"Oh, hey. Of course, man. What was I thinking?"

Upstairs over their drinks, Grant presented some portfolios. Real portfolios, not paste-together scrapbooks. The photos were everything he'd said they were, too. They were tasteful pictures of both men and women from the dating service. It seemed he had a talent for making all of his subjects look good. It wasn't just for the sake of stalling that Mulder had made the request.

Through his leafing, he believed he found what he was seeking -- portraits of each of the victims. Except Agent Pettigrew. They were flattering but perfectly tame shots. If he had his glasses, he could be certain.

Sipping his drink over the portfolios, Mulder realized he was becoming surprisingly intoxicated. On an attempt to stand, the floor seemed to sway like the deck of a ship and he swooned, falling back on the couch. Oh, shit. He knew the sensation -- he'd been drugged. He dropped his glass. Grant caught his guest to right on the sofa. "Hey. You okay?"

"You drugged me," Mulder mumbled.

Carefully, Grant lifted Mulder's legs to the sofa to lie him down. "I kind of had to, didn't I?"

Alarming, Mulder kicked the suspect away and fell off the sofa. Sensorium reeling, Mulder struggled to his feet to make a run for the door.

Before he could straighten, he was seized around the waist from behind. In desperation, he grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniels from the coffee table and heaved it through the living room window.

In groping to get a good hold, Grant detected the falsies under the dress. "What the fuck . . . ?"

The slightest displacement of the bra betrayed Mulder's male pecs. The revelation enraged Grant. "You're not even a woman, you're a goddamn pervert!" His grip snapped up to Mulder's throat.

Drugged, the tactics for release were difficult to employ. Though he lost the high heels, Mulder still had a hard time keeping up when he was hustled to the basement door.

"Actually, I'm a federal agent," he slurred. "You couldn't have kept a better record of your affiliation with the victims in that portfolio. Except Agent Angela Pettigrew. You found the wire on her -- "

"You son-of-a-bitch -- !"

The front door crashed open to Mulder's relief with the cry of, "Federal Agents! Freeze!"

X

Boosting herself into the back of the van after her former partner, Scully checked him over in the dome light. He could barely stay upright. Seated at the console, he finally slumped forward, the long hair extensions cloaking his face and shoulders.

In her quick examination aided by flashlight, Scully didn't find any evidence of physical trauma on her former partner. "You're too drugged to make out a report tonight," she concluded. "I'll get one of the guys to help me get you to my car and I'll take you home, okay?" She swept the long hair aside to look at him.

"Thanks, Scully," he mumbled.

Sliding open the door, she nearly crashed into Patterson.

"How is he?" he asked curtly.

"Heavily sedated, but otherwise fine. He's in no shape to write out an arrest report tonight. I can take him home -- "

"You insisted on becoming part of the team," Patterson interrupted. "Now that you've ascertained Agent Mulder isn't in need of medical attention, you'd be of better use in stripping this place for evidence. I'll see to Agent Mulder from here."

"Sir." She glanced back to Mulder. "With the combination of alcohol and sedation, the possibility of respiratory depression exists -- "

"I'll take care of the situation, I said. Now get to work, Agent Scully."

X

Commandeering the use of one of the backup cars, Patterson transferred Mulder from the van to the backseat of the alternate transportation, then drove off. Out in the rural area, it wasn't difficult to find a dark, secluded road, far enough from the crime site. There, Patterson parked on the side of the road.

In the backseat, wrapped in a long coat, Mulder slept soundly. He didn't stir until Patterson hastened up the long coat and the short skirt.

While Mulder shifted, murmuring softly, Patterson produced the Exacto knife he carried to cut away the undergarment. He was pleasantly surprised to find Mulder's ass nearly bare, clad in a skimpy pair of thongs. Grasping the narrow waistband, Patterson cut the fabric loose.

"What the fuck . . . ?" Mulder's resistance was instantaneous.

Prepared, Patterson leaned on his former student, pinning him down. "You can't fight me, so you may as well enjoy it. Just like you were starting to last night before your partner interrupted us."

"Huh . . . ? Are you fucking out of your mind . . . ?"

"Oh, you'll come to appreciate me." The knife finished the job with minimal effort. Patterson had only to lift the little hips enough to free the scrap of fabric and unzip his own trousers. His erection sought to free itself, immediately for the cleft of the pretty ass before it.

The fumbling roused Mulder again. "You can't do it like this . . . Don't you know anything . . . ? We're dry . . . "

"Let me lick you again." Patterson hungered for the opportunity.

"It's not enough . . . " Despite the sedation, Mulder seemed to know what he was talking about. "You want to do it right, you got to use lubricant . . . you want me to enjoy it or not . . . ?"

"My tongue will suffice -- "

"No it won't!" Mulder insisted, his voice muffled by the fabric of the seat. "Not unless you want to rip me . . . You do that, guaranteed, I'll never let you do it again . . . "

Was Mulder alluding toward some sort of compliance? Patterson debated. "How much do you actually know about this sort of thing?"

Beneath him, Mulder exhaled. "My wife and I . . . used toys. She'd wear strap-ons . . . "

If this was really so, the information was illuminating. "Your wife. Not a man?"

"No . . . I never went that far with any guys . . . "

Inserting a finger into the cleft, Patterson stroked the tight entry, making Mulder flinch.

"Whether or not I believe you, I don't have any lubricant."

"Then drive somewhere and buy some . . . we can go back to your place after that . . . "

"To give you time to recover from the fortuitous sedation the suspect intoxicated you with, I suppose. Plus you're banking on the knowledge that it would be the first place Agent Krycek will come looking."

The ensuing silence indicated Patterson's deductions had all been correct. He slipped his hand around Mulder's hip to grasp those genitals.

Predictably, Mulder fought, pressing his pelvis into the seat. "Stop it, dammit. I won't hesitate to press charges this time . . ."

Past the point of concern, Patterson thrust his cock between the cheeks. The drug provided the edge he needed to overpower the boy and get a hand beneath him. Unfortunately he had known what he was talking about -- achieving penetration was impossible without lubrication. But in Patterson's hand, the feel of the velvety soft, hanging organs he'd fantasized so long over, as he madly rammed in place, brought him to an overwhelming climax.

It took him an indeterminate amount of time to recover on Mulder's back, panting hard. With the slightest movement, Patterson's cock stirred with surprising vitality. Hand still in place, he fondled. Mulder ostensibly cringed, arousing Patterson all the more.

"Nice set of equipment, agent," Patterson observed. "You've got some length on you."

It took Mulder a moment to speak, sounding no less woozy. "Can you take me home now?"

Unwillingly, Patterson released Mulder's genitals. Only so Patterson could back enough to remove his coat. In the very low lighting, he could hardly make out the boyish hips before him, clad in the self-gartered stockings. It more than enough to further arouse him. He lowered his trousers and shorts and raised his shirt to spare them, then lay on Mulder again. The cleft was slippery wet.

"We're not too dry now, are we?"

"Dammit, Bill." Bearing into the seat again Mulder evaded the threat of intrusion. "Don't rape me . . . We'll go someplace . . . we'll do it right . . . "

"Don't treat me like a moron. I'm a psychologist, too, remember?"

" . . . It doesn't gotta be your place . . . or mine . . . get us a room . . . So we can have a bed . . . It's too cramped back here . . ."

X

The suspect's yard had been inundated with law officers as they swept the premises, ransacking for evidence. Trying to find any remnant of clue that would indicate a connection between the suspect and the other victims. As vital as the job was, Krycek still double-took when he eventually saw Scully had joined the sweep.

They'd discovered the basement had been converted to a photography studio and were ripping through every cabinet. Approaching her outside the open, lit dark room, Krycek drew her aside. "Agent Scully."

She blinked at him, impatient to get back to work.

"Where did you leave Agent Mulder?"

"In the back of the surveillance van. Sleeping."

Krycek raised his eyebrows. "Alone?"

Someone called down into the basement. "We've got homemade videotapes -- a whole library."

Several officers withdrew to file up the stairs.

Passing a lock of hair behind her ear, Scully started to go, as well. "No. Chief Patterson took over. He said he'd see to -- "

"Shit!" Krycek fled to the stairs.

"Agent Krycek!" Scully called after him.

Outside, Krycek rushed the van on the lawn. Tavares was just climbing out, leaving the sliding door ajar.

"Is Agent Mulder in there?" Krycek panted.

"No," Tavares replied, carrying another supply of evidence bags. "Patterson put him in one of the Bu-cars and they took off."

"Agent Krycek!" Scully had exited the house to follow.

"Where'd he take him?" Krycek went on, ignoring Scully. "Did Patterson say?"

Uncomprehending, Tavares squinted. "Probably to an ER to make sure he was all right." He headed for the house.

"What's going on?" Scully demanded, stepping up in her long coat.

Anxiously, Krycek looked over the vehicles on the lawn. "I gotta go after them," he mumbled.

He'd have to request some keys.

With a glance into the empty van, she suspiciously eyed Krycek. "What for? I'm sure Patterson sent Mulder home with another officer."

For a moment, Krycek ceased his nervous survey of the area. "You saw him leave with another officer?"

"Well no, but -- " The wind blew the shock of hair in her face again.

"Have you seen Patterson around since then?"

Checking over her shoulder, she conducted a brief survey, as well. "N - no."

Abruptly, Krycek remembered Scully had followed the team of her own volition. "You've got your car. Come on."

X

Gripping the steering wheel in her gloved hands, Scully narrowed her eyes as she peered out the windshield, scanning the unfamiliar rural area in the dark. She neither liked nor trusted this rookie partner they'd teamed up with Mulder, and hadn't changed her opinion of him. Mulder said Krycek seemed to be turning out to be a pretty good agent, praise that only made Scully bristle all the more.

He seemed to be trying too hard, bending over backwards to please Mulder -- kissing up to him, in other words. All the while, she'd thought Mulder couldn't stand obsequiousness in anyone. Yet here he was, not only accepting it, but seemed to be enjoying it. Furthermore, Krycek's innocent, well-scrubbed, eager looks and demeanor annoyed the hell out of her. He wouldn't give her much information as to why he was so insistent on this pursuit, either. All he'd divulge was a strong certainty that Mulder was in trouble and an implied lack of trust in Patterson. Only to positively insure the safety of her former partner did Scully not dismiss Krycek.

"This is a waste of time," she huffed. "I'm sure they're well on their way to Alexandria by now. We really need to get back to the investigation."

"Just keep driving," he insisted.

"We're going to be reprimanded for leaving a crime scene without due cause," she pointed out.

"Wait! Turn around."

They'd passed another dark, dismal, scarcely-paved road. The only reason she followed the instruction was because it would send them back in the right direction.

"Go left," Krycek went on.

The headlights of her car illuminated the reflective lenses in the taillights of another vehicle parked in the dirt a distance off. Just when she recognized the very familiar sight of the rear end of a Crown Victoria, Krycek issued another command: "Kill the lights."

Damn, if there wasn't something very suspicious about the presence of one of the Bu-cars out in the middle of nowhere. Even if it had broken down, what the hell would it be doing out here? This was nowhere near the route to the highway.

Gliding up behind the Crown Victoria, Scully stopped her car back where Krycek directed.

"Turn off the dome light so it doesn't come on when we get out," he said, slipping out his firearm.

"What the hell are you doing?" she hissed, switching off the light. "You're pulling a gun on Chief Patterson and Mulder?"

"I suggest you do the same," Krycek murmured vaguely, before he quietly got out of the car.

Distant houses, spread far apart, dotted the area. Their security measures provided the only source of light. It was enough to ascertain that the front seats were empty and as they neared the vehicle, she caught a glimpse of the form of someone hunkered over, in the backseat.

Startling Scully, Krycek jumped the left rear passenger side window, slamming the barrel of his gun into the glass.

"FBI! Get out of the car!"

To her further amazement, she saw Chief Patterson sit up, evidently as startled as she. It took him only a second to collect his wits, then he scrabbled to get over the front seat.

But Krycek was ahead of him. He fired twice through the driver's window, shattering it. This stayed Patterson and enabled Krycek to thrust a hand into the car to unlock the door.

Mouth ajar, Scully had moved closer still, and peeked into the back seat as well as she could, beyond Patterson. She distinctly saw someone else lying on the seat.

Throwing open the driver's door, Krycek reached over the steering column to confiscate the keys. "Get the fuck out of the car," he commanded, aiming at Patterson.

Patterson fumbled at his pants.

"Now!" Krycek demanded, aiming the gun.

Much to Scully's disconcertion, when the back door opened, Patterson got out belt and pants obviously unfastened. Fortunately his shirttails covered the details.

In surrender, he raised his hands. "Do you have any idea what kind of trouble you've just set yourselves up for, Agent Krycek? Agent Scully?"

From the back seat, Scully heard Mulder's distinct moan.

"Fill us in later," Krycek said tersely, gesturing with the gun.

"Right now, get your hands on the back fender and assume the position."

Confused and rattled, as soon as the door was clear, Scully ducked to the open rear door. Her former partner lay on the seat, skirt shoved up to his waist, exposing his naked derriere, long, stockinged legs wide apart. "Oh, my . . . "

"Scully," he mumbled thickly from the drugs. Making no effort to cover up, he let her assist him from the car.

X

Though it bothered the hell out of him, Krycek had to agree to sit in the back of Scully's Sable, keeping an eye on the cuffed chief of the ISU. The old fuck just sat there smirking out the side window while Krycek agonized over what had happened to Mulder. Who happened to be sitting next to her, leaning on the window, outrageously sexy legs on display. Aw, considering the straight-laced prim she was, the stockings probably grossed her out. And that was for the best, as far as Krycek was concerned. He just resented that he couldn't enjoy the scenery.

But Patterson. No one would ever have guessed he had the hots for Mulder. The worst part of it was that he'd probably get away with it. It wouldn't matter how many charges Mulder pressed or that he had two eyewitnesses to back him up. Krycek had become a lot more aware of the way things worked for chiefs of staff, even in government. With Patterson's reputation, he'd probably get through the incident, unscathed. Whereas Mulder probably stood to get further demoted.

Eventually, Mulder woke enough to figure out Scully was driving to the Bureau. He protested. "Take me home."

"We have to file charges, first," Scully said.

"Fuck it," Mulder snarled, still sounding doped. "I know how it works I don't want no one taking swabs and pictures of my ass, okay? Just fucking take me home."

"You're not thinking straight," she gently chided. "You're still drugged. Precisely why all this has to be done immediately. A toxicology screen performed right now will reinforce your case. You know that." She lifted her gaze to the rearview mirror a moment. "Agent Krycek. Call A.D. Skinner and tell him to meet us at the Bureau in booking."

"What?" That was one assignment Krycek had no desire to carry out. "I - I don't want to be the one to call him. Especially at this hour for something like this. I'm still on probation, you know. I don't want to give him any reason -- "

"No one's calling the A.D.," Mulder growled.

"But," Scully said, "you know a senior officer has to be present for us to make the arrest."

"We're not making the arrest." Head down, Mulder rubbed his eyes. "On second thought, take the prick home first."

Startling, she glanced to him. "After what he did to you?"

"I'm not really popular with the executive staff at the Bureau right now. No one's going to have much sympathy for me. If anything, I'll probably piss 'em off worse."

X

At the curb outside of Patterson's apartment building, Krycek went around the car to yank their prisoner out of the back seat. It would give him great pleasure to soundly beat the hell out of the old man. There was no question that Mulder would gain just as much pleasure in assisting to the best of his ability, despite his intoxicated state. Not to mention how cute he'd be in that short skirt, bare-assed underneath.

"I'll be right back," Krycek said, leaning back into the open door addressing his partner.

Shoving Patterson toward the building, Krycek discreetly donned his gloves.

"Hurry up and get these cuffs off me," Patterson said impatiently. "The last thing you'd need is for me to have to write you up on a conduct report during your probationary period."

"Hey," Krycek responded. "I'm just making sure you reach your apartment okay."

Pausing, Patterson sized Krycek up for a second, then tried to veer back for the idling Sable.

With the barrel of his Smith & Wesson, Krycek steered the prisoner back on course. He'd already seen where Patterson wore his holster and deftly seized his gun. "Just keep walking, asshole, and don't try anything."

X

In Krycek's absence, while waiting in the car, Scully cleared her throat quietly. "Is there perhaps another reason you're declining to press charges?"

"Such as?" Mulder said into his hand.

"Well maybe," she began slowly, "because the incident wasn't entirely non-consensual?"

He nearly jumped out of his seat at her. "What the hell are you suggesting? Are you fucking crazy? You can't possibly believe that!"

"I really didn't think so at all," she quickly assured him, relieved to hear her suspicion allayed.

"Then why the hell did you ask?"

Throwing up a hand, she sighed. "Look, the whole thing is crazy. Chief Patterson is the head of the ISU. He's one of the finest agents in the Bureau. He pioneered the Behavioral Science Unit. You used to work with him."

"Spare me the meritorious Patterson speech, all right? Are you implying I had sex with him so I could get into his training course?"

"No, of course . . . " It occurred to her there should be no reason for a delay. " . . . Not . . . " It should only have taken moments for Krycek to retrieve his cuffs, then send Patterson off to his apartment. A glance around the lit building revealed that the two FBI agents were nowhere in sight. "Where did Agent Krycek go?" She reached for her door release.

Before she could pop open the latch, she saw Krycek round the corner on the sidewalk path, approaching, pocketing his handcuffs.

"Where'd you go?" Scully asked when Krycek slammed the car door shut, seated behind Mulder this time.

"Huh?" Krycek looked up. "Oh. The dumb fuck stopped to look for his keys. He thought he'd left his keys in the other car."

"Did he get into his place all right?" she prodded.

"Who the hell cares?" Mulder snapped. "Would you just take me the fuck home all ready? You can come back and baby sit Patterson all you want, afterwards."

"Not a problem," Krycek supplied.

X

Loathe to sit in the car in strained silence with Scully while she drove Krycek to his apartment afterwards, he opted to help Mulder get to bed, instead. Well, admittedly the discomfort of hanging around Scully for longer than necessary was actually the least of Krycek's motivations.

Before Mulder could begin to make excuses, Krycek was out of the car and waiting before his partner could assemble himself enough to set one stunningly sexy, high-heeled foot on the pavement.

"I'm really okay now," Mulder assured them.

"Yeah, right," Krycek scoffed, taking Mulder's arm to guide him from the car.

"I may as well help," Scully volunteered, taking the keys from the ignition.

"I don't need any help," Mulder insisted, holding his coat closed over his lap. "I can make the rest of the trip on my own. I sure don't need the entire FBI force to help me get to my own apartment."

Before he could close the car door, Scully leaned forward, holding up his purse. "If your keys are in here, you're not going to get very far."

Pouting, Mulder reached in to snatch it from her. "I will now. Get back in the car, Krycek. I'm fine."

Ignoring the order, Krycek caught the door. "I'll make sure he gets upstairs, then catch a taxi," he told Scully. Dismissing her, Krycek closed the car door then pressed Mulder toward the building as unassumingly as possible.

"You don't have to waste money on a taxi," Mulder grumbled, still a little unstable as he headed for the rear entrance. "She could have taken you home for free."

"I don't think she really likes me," Krycek said, lingering close enough to steady Mulder should he need it.

"She's just cautious. It comes with the territory."

"No, I really don't think she likes me."

"You're being paranoid." Inside the covered parking, Mulder fumbled for his key from the purse. Trying to unlock the door, he dropped them.

Had he not been wearing that coat, Krycek would have let Mulder retrieve the keys, himself, for a chance to stand back and admire the length of those fuck-me legs from behind. But since Krycek's view was spoiled by the outerwear, he chivalrously pounced on them before his host could collect his bearings well enough to bend down. Having observed which key Mulder had singled out, Krycek unlocked the door for them.

At that hour the halls were deserted. Which was to their advantage -- none of the neighbors would wind up with the idea Mulder was a closet transvestite. This was the first time Krycek had ever seen the interior of the apartment. But Mulder didn't issue any guided tours of the place.

Briefly, Krycek got the chance to take in an illuminated art deco-style lamp in the first room, some prints hanging on the walls, and a glance at a glowing aquarium in a far corner of the living room. Fish? Mulder was into fish?

Going straight into a bedroom, Mulder threw the purse on a chest of drawers, kicked off the high heels, and shed the coat to the floor without a word.

This gave Krycek a good excuse to follow.

Passing straight through the bedroom, Mulder proceeded to another room and snapped on the light. Bathroom. That he didn't swing the door shut behind him meant it wouldn't breach any etiquette to continue to follow. In doing so, Krycek found Mulder further grumbling as he struggled to unzip the dress. God, he looked fantastic, too. The long, tousled mane of hair criminally added to his allure.

"Help me get this damn thing off," Mulder said, on sight of Krycek.

Any freakin' day. Mesmerized, Krycek leapt at the chance to slide the zipper of the black leather dress down, once presented.

"Damn Scully," Mulder continued to mumble. "Taking her fucking time. Just cause she wasn't sitting with that prick's disgusting scum all up and down the crack of her ass . . . " When the dress was loose, Mulder dropped it with a shudder. Though he was still turned away, this left him in a black, satin bra and the lacy, seamed, suspender stockings that Krycek had helped apply. In the bathroom light, he was given a nice, naked display of that pretty, little apple ass.

From there, Mulder went to the shower and turned on the taps. While the water warmed up, he struggled to unhook the bra. Without thinking, Krycek stepped forward to do the honors. He had plenty of experience with bras.

"Glad I'll never have to wear one of those things again," Mulder spit, throwing it aside once it was unfastened.

The long hair, that svelte, muscled back, that enticing curve of that ass, those legs . . . Krycek wanted to melt. He wanted to seize the beautiful body before him and make violent love.

He couldn't. That would blow the hell out of the agenda of his real assignment. Particularly because Mulder had just been raped. The thought of coming in contact with anything that personal of Patterson's was creepy, anyway. And something like that would freak Mulder out beyond any redemption. Or, wait . . . What had he just said? It wouldn't be up and down the crack of his ass if Patterson had actually penetrated.

To Krycek's disappointment, Mulder next struggled to peel off the stockings. Because he lost his balance and nearly crashed into the glass shower stall, Krycek steadied his partner and assisted. This gave Krycek another awesome, close-up view of the smooth legs. "And you thought you were gonna do this on your own?" he bantered. "After a few days, someone would have come looking for you and found you laid out on your bathroom floor with your skull cracked open, a pair of black stockings around your knees."

"Just get 'em off, already. I want to hurry up and shower."

"All right, already. I understand. I was a cop before I joined the Bureau, remember?" Krycek ran his touch down the sexy planes of those legs, ankles, and unreasonably beautiful feet. "I've dealt with victims of this sort of thing plenty of times. I know you're hurting, so I'm gonna do this real easy like."

"I'm not hurting. Grossed-out, yeah, but that's about all."

"But he raped -- "

"No he didn't. He couldn't get in, so he just jacked off between -- Well, you get the picture." As soon as Mulder was free of the stockings, he ducked into the shower stall.

The news was a hell of a consolation to hear. Suddenly, Krycek realized he might actually stand a chance in attaining what he wanted. He picked up the hem of his sweater. "Mind if I join you?"

"What?" Through the textured glass, Mulder was dousing himself beneath the full spray.

Without waiting for an answer, Krycek finished undressing. Engrossed in scrubbing down, Mulder was surprised when Krycek opened the door to enter.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"I kinda like to shower at the end of the day, too, you know?" Naturally, the sight of Mulder completely nude with lather running down his body quickly rekindled Krycek's arousal.

"I thought you were leaving." One step back and Mulder hit the wall.

"Changed my mind. Is there any more soap?" Krycek stepped beneath the showerhead.

"N - no."

"Here." Gently, Krycek tried to extract the soap bar from Mulder's hold.

He resisted. "Krycek . . . "

Unwilling to argue, Krycek tentatively pressed closer. Relinquishing a play for the soap, he cautiously took Mulder's waist instead, and moved in to brush his nose and hopefully kiss those supple lips still vivid with lipstick.

"Wait a minute." Dropping the soap, Mulder caught Krycek's arms to hold him off. "I didn't realize . . . I didn't know . . . I mean, I'm still freaked out about Patterson, you know . . . ?"

Nor had Krycek ever expected to have such an opportunity. The undercover assignment had stretched the limit of his frustration. "I know," he murmured. "And one thing you could really use right now would be some understanding . . . "

Tipping Mulder's chin up, Krycek leaned in for the kiss.

--End--


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