Title: The Unrecognised X-File
Author: Sebastian
Series/Fandom: X-Files/Mary Poppins
Pairing: M/K
Rating: NC17
Archive: Yes, but please ask.
Website: http://www.geocities.com/aderil 
Feedback email: sebastian@the-wilderness.freeserve.co.uk 
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Chris Carter, 1013
productions and Fox. The Disney connection is oblique. No copyright
infringement is intended.

Comments: This story was written for the M/K Fight Club Location challenge.
Photographs were submitted, one had to choose one or more and set the story
in that place. So this story starts at Mulder's desk in the basement office,
moves on to Minneapolis, Minnesota to a posh residential area by a lake and
then to the gardens of Trinity College Oxford, in full bloom.

The information about P L Travers is true. I knew nothing about her when I
started writing this, and was astounded when I discovered how well she and
Mulder would have got along. Parabola is a real magazine
http://www.parabola.org


Thanks to Dr Ruthless for having the patience to beta my absurdities.

The Unrecognised X-File


by Sebastian



As X-files go, it hadn’t been the most promising of starts. A report of
poltergeist phenomena, hallucinations, some strange behaviour amongst wild
animals... but children were involved, and cases involving children were
rarely anything but pranks, not even deliberate enough to warrant the title
of hoax.

Yet it nagged at Mulder. Something about the circumstances, the individuals
involved, the incidents reported. Something was there, something a long time
ago. Something supremely unlikely or his memory would have had it front and
centre immediately. He was still perplexed as he gathered up the papers from
his desk that evening and attempted to squeeze them into his already
over-stuffed briefcase.

"You doing anything now, Scully?" he asked his partner, who was still
scanning a page of text on her PC.

"Not for an hour or so, Mulder." She looked up, sitting back in her chair
and rolling her head to relieve the stiffness that had come with hours of
concentration. "Do you want to go for a drink or coffee? I’ll be happy to
leave this... I was just killing time ‘til I’m due to meet an old
school-friend. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I agreed to go to her
kid’s school concert with her."

"You’ll need a few drinks then, stiff ones, to make that bearable," smiled
Mulder. "If you try *real* hard, you might sleep through the whole thing."

They slung their coats over their arms, and set off companionably for the
street.

"It’s going to be pretty dire," continued Scully, tapping briskly along
beside her partner, who never seemed to make allowances for her shorter
stride. "Holly’s children have been practising for weeks apparently, and she
says that there’s been no improvement. They’re *not* a musical family."

"Something difficult is it? Wagner, Shostakovich, Schonberg?"

"You know nothing of music, do you Mulder?" She pursed her lips and tilting
her head, explained in a patient voice, "These are *primary* children. Six
and seven year olds. I believe it’s one of the songs that Julie Andrews
sings. Probably it mentions kittens somewhere along the line."

"Julie Andrews," mused Mulder. "Julie Andrews..."

He stopped short, and turned to his partner. "Can I come?" he asked eagerly.

"*What?*"

"I want to go to the concert. Can I, please?" He scrabbled through his
pockets and nearly dropping it in his eagerness, pressed his cellphone into
the surprised woman’s hands.

"Call her please, Scully. This is important." His brow furrowed. "I’m not
sure quite why, yet, but if I can come to the concert, I’m sure it’ll
connect."

He was virtually hopping up and down with impatience as she dialled her
friend’s number. Scully eyed him dubiously. She wasn’t sure she wanted to
expose Holly to Mulder in full ‘Spooky’ mode.

If Mulder had bothered to listen to Scully’s side of the conversation, he
would have realised that it had taken considerable diplomacy and quite a few
fibs to convince Holly that they should attempt to get him into the concert.
However he was paying no attention whatsoever, his eyes were fixed
sightlessly on a black leather jacket in a shop window, and he was humming
to himself, tunelessly but recognisably, ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ from ‘The
Sound of Music’.

He rushed her through coffee and the bran muffin she’d ordered and chivvied
her into arriving at the venue, a school hall with remarkably hard seats, a
full half hour before the concert was due to commence. Parents slowly
drifted in, mostly casually and brightly dressed, and Mulder and Scully
received more than a few curious glances clad as they were in formal
business suits. Holly arrived, all of a fluster, ten minutes before the
hour, and then there was confusion as she tried to explain to gossipy
acquaintances on either side just who the two agents were.

At last the principal marched onto the stage and the audience subsided,
coughing and rustling, into respectful silence. Scully had noted with
horrified resignation that the school appeared to have opted for the equal
opportunities approach to concert-giving. The number of turns promised by
the garish programme seemed to provide each and every child its five minutes
of fame, in some cases repeatedly. Two hours of discordant boredom stretched
before her and already she was squirming on her seat from pins and needles
in her ass.

She glanced at Mulder. Unbelievably he was deep in conversation with his
neighbour, a portly woman in tight green pants and a tee-shirt proclaiming
her allegiance to REM and Mr. Stipe in particular. Their heads were brushing
together over the programme and absently she wondered about head lice,
unconsciously making a note to watch Mulder for undue scratching.

The torture began. Holly’s husband must have arranged a previous obligation
for tonight right after last year’s event, thought Scully, if he had an iota
of sense. It was a shame her friend had more scruples, though she was going
to embarrass herself by falling asleep before the interval, judging by her
yawns.

It was difficult to keep track of which item they had reached, especially
when it was an instrumental piece, but at last they came to a song which
Scully recognised from ‘The Sound of Music’, though unconnected with
goatherds. Her brow furrowed - she didn’t recall Miss Andrews performing
this song - but she elbowed Mulder anyway.

"This is one," she whispered, close to his ear.

"I am sixteen going on seventeen..." trilled the choir of 9-year-olds.
Mulder’s foot was tapping to the music and he turned to her with a grin.

"Thanks, but it doesn’t ring any bells. Hey, Scully, this is good. Your
friend’s damn lucky to get to go to these things. Can I come next time one
of your nieces or nephews is in one?"

Scully rolled her eyes, troubled because she wasn’t completely sure that
Mulder was kidding.

Outside the window, huddled against the biting wind, Krycek shivered and
cursed. Two weeks, now... two fucking weeks and not a damn thing. He'd been
set on Mulder-watch by the Syndicate because they were convinced there was a
mole, a traitor in their ranks, and equally convinced that Mulder was going
to receive the information... whatever it was. Krycek hadn't been vouchsafed
*that* knowledge, or a hint of who would supply it, or even in what goddamn
form it would arrive.

Not that he *minded* watching Mulder, though he preferred sentry duty with
the mike and the binoculars, and Mulder, 'couldn't care less about the
blinds' Mulder, flashing his impressive accessories from the windows of
Number 42.

They could've waited 'til summer though, to get suspicious. Damn weather.

And what the *hell* were they doing at a school concert? Krycek had been
dumbfounded when they arrived here, still more so when they settled to watch
the show. It was so unlikely... that maybe this was *it*... what he'd been
watching for.

The cold no longer registered. Krycek was alert, the predator, eyes only
focused on his quarry.

Inside the intermission had arrived. Refreshments had been provided by the
PTA, hot and cold beverages and a fine assortment of cakes and cookies, each
parent vying to tempt the palate and avoid the ignominy of having a crumb
left on the plate they had provided. Mulder was in heaven. Scooping up a
plateful of the most calorific dainties, he cornered his newfound friend and
proceeded, Scully assumed, to 'Lose his Religion'.

All too soon the concert resumed. Holly's children were featured shortly
after the break, in an a cappella group (an insult to the genre, in Scully's
opinion) with a couple of songs. One was from Mary Poppins - definitely
Julie Andrews.

'Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down... ' Well it might not
be a hit with dentists, but Mulder didn't have any reservations. He was so
wired, Scully expected him to jump on his chair and shout, "Hallelujah."

"C'mon, Scully, we gotta go," he whispered as the final strains of the song
faded into silence.

"Oh, no you don't, " she hissed, seizing his coat sleeve in a grip that was
surprisingly strong for such a tiny woman. "I moved heaven and earth to get
you in here. You're staying to the bitter end, Mulder."

Mulder took one look at her set face, and decided that discretion was the
better part of valour. He'd got what he came for, let the pieces dance in
his brain for a while and fit themselves into place and meanwhile he could
pursue his acquaintance with Mimi of the emerald pants.

He resumed his quiet conversation with the lady, exchanging names and phone
numbers, both of them applauding appropriately but totally ignoring the
youngsters' valiant efforts at harmony.

As they shouldered their way through the crowd of proud parents each with a
gullible child, swollen with success, in tow, Scully nodded at the generous
expanse of tensioned green cloth in front of them and asked, "What’s up with
her, Mulder? I thought you liked skinny derrieres."

Firm and muscular, if you want to be right on the mark, woman, thought
Mulder, but he answered with a smile, "Little grey men, Scully. Her father
was at Roswell and he might talk to me. Mimi’s going to ask him, OK?"

"Goodness, Mulder, *how* do you do it. The conspiracy types are drawn to you
like flies to a corpse."

He was just forming a biting reply when a shadow peeled itself from the
building and darted through the concert-goers, bowling the green pants over
and running off with her purse.

"I’m on to it Scully," yelled Mulder. Pulling his gun from beneath his coat
and leaping agilely over the sprawled woman, he set off in pursuit.

The mugger darted across a basketball court and flung himself at the fence,
shinning up it with remarkable speed. Mulder leapt at the flailing legs and
pulled the man down, but rather than struggling he let himself fall on
Mulder, bowling him over and pinning him to the ground. In an instant he was
on his feet again, and the winded agent’s gun had been kicked from his hand.

The light caught Krycek’s snarling face for a moment and then he was off
once more, the purse and Mulder’s gun in his hands, flinging both across the
fence and vaulting it himself. Before Mulder could rise, the echoes of Alex’
s footfalls were already growing distant.

He dusted himself down and returned to the chattering crowd that had
gathered around Mimi. Though back on her feet, the lady was quivering with
shock and was lead back into the building by two of the teachers. Mulder and
Scully trailed behind.

"Hey, Scully, guess who’s been reduced to stealing purses for a living?"

Scully looked up at him quizzically. "Well, we know quite a few criminal
types, but they’re usually into crimes less commonplace than street robbery,
so I’m not even going to bother trying to come up with an answer to that
one."

"Krycek," replied Mulder, succinctly.

Her dainty eyebrows drew together in an incredulous frown.

"You’re mistaken, Mulder."

"Nope. Wonder what he thinks I gave her?" Then his mind leapt to another
conclusion. "And just who is going to contact me? What d’ya think Scully? D’
ya reckon I’m due another cryptic message from a mystery informant that gets
blow away before they can elucidate, eh?"

"Are you going to inform the police who the perpetrator was?"

He sucked in his lips and studied his shoes before turning back to Scully
and saying,

"No. No, he was here because of us, Scully. It’ll do no good and probably
raise questions that we can’t answer. It would make Mimi apprehensive too...
and embarrass your friend for getting me into the concert. I’ll give a vague
description and we’ll hope the police don’t arrest some poor innocent on the
strength of it.

"I don’t think Krycek will feel the need to bump her off out of pique, do
you Scully?" he said, his lips suppressing a grin.

Scully glared at him. She’d always been puzzled by his attitude to Krycek,
which seemed to vacillate between blind rage and indulgent amusement.

"Frankly yes, though I suspect he’s more likely to jump you or I to see if
we have his prize. I suggest you take a look around in case he’s still
lurking nearby."

He shrugged. He was nearly certain that Krycek was gone, but he was always
ready to seize a chance to get his hands on the murderous bastard and plant
a few punches. As for his motive... well, Krycek deserved it, didn’t he?
Better not to think about that too hard...

However, Krycek had disappeared. He discovered the purse, conspicuously
green, under a street light, its contents scattered amongst the litter on
the sidewalk. He gathered Mimi’s belongings as best he could. There’d been
no sign of his gun, but it would be well camouflaged in the shadowy street
and hard to spot, even supposing Krycek had left it behind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I’m going back into the office, Scully," announced Mulder later as he drove
toward Scully’s home. "I had a notion... I *knew* there was something about
Julie Andrews, and now I’ve got it."

"She’s a little old for you, Mulder, don’t you think? Or were you planning
to worship from afar and install the poster of her skipping across the
meadows to the Sound of Music alongside your flying saucer one?"

Mulder sniggered. "I hadn’t thought about nuns in a while, Scully. I had
this video once..."

"Do I want to hear this, Mulder, mmm? I think not. I suggest you leave your
investigation ‘til the morning. I’m tired, you must be tired, and I suspect
lack of sleep and a massive dollop of discordant ‘music’ has addled your
brain. Why don’t you come in with me and have some supper, then go home to
bed. It’ll all look different in the morning."

Mulder had to admit to himself that she made sense. It would be extremely
late by the time he’d delivered her and returned to the Hoover building, but
he wasn’t going to surrender completely.

He glanced at her, and decided to risk a last concession.

"Can we watch a video with that supper?"

"Not if it involves religious vestments," retorted Scully. "Or, for that
matter, any individuals who regard nudity as a substitute for plot."

"Spoilsport," Mulder whined. "OK, I promise. Direct me to the nearest video
rental."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He refused to let Scully glimpse the title of the movie, thrusting it into
her machine and bundling her into the kitchen to rustle up some food.

"What is this, Mulder?" she asked annoyed, as she piled a selection of
salads and cold meats onto a tray. "If you’ve hired ‘Die Hard’, or anything
else with Bruce Willis, you can take it right back. You know how I loathe
him."

"Scarier than that, Scully."

They settled back on the couch with a glass of Chablis apiece, and Mulder
set the tape going. The familiar ‘Disney’ logo, the fairy-tale castle,
appeared to the sound of saccharin music.

"Tell me I’m not seeing this," said Scully, exasperated, as the ‘Mary
Poppins’ title leapt onto her TV screen. "*Why* have you hired THIS?"

"Er...it’s something I’ve been looking into, Scully. An - an X-file," he
stuttered apologetically, bracing himself for the storm.

"Are you seriously trying to tell me that you think Mary Poppins is an
*X-file*, Mulder! That she’s real! Have you completely lost it... or are
you - and I’m *really* hoping that this is the case - pulling my leg?"

"I thought you might be sceptical," he muttered. "But I’ve got proof. I know
I can convince you."

"Sceptical... sceptical? Flabbergasted, appalled, and in serious doubt as to
your sanity." She rolled her eyes and sighed at him. "I hope you’re not
going to regale Skinner with this ridiculous idea. On second thoughts, maybe
I hope you are... I would *love* to see his face."

"You’re judging me before you’ve seen the evidence; I thought you prided
yourself on your deductive method and you’re not even letting me get past
first base."

"This movie is part of that evidence, I suppose?"

"Yeah, sorta. Look Scully, let’s have the food, drink the wine and watch it.
You might be more receptive when you’ve mellowed."

"You could get me stoned out of my brain and I wouldn’t mellow *that* much,
*Spooky*. Of all the dumb ideas... OK, set it going, but you can save your
proof until the morning. I suspect it might ruin my sleep."

They sat in amicable silence and let the film wind through. The wine was
drunk mostly by Scully and Mulder suspected she wasn’t trying to ‘mellow’
but send herself to sleep, knowing that he wouldn’t have the heart to awaken
her to continue the argument.

Scully had seen the movie recently with her nieces and nephews, but Mulder
hadn’t watched it for years, since before his sister had disappeared. He
wasn’t surprised to find he could remember the songs, but much of the story
had gone... the chimney-sweep, the floating children, the change in wind
direction that brought Mary, then stole her away. Neither had he recalled
the sub-text of the suffragette movement and the workaholic father. Mostly
he studied Mary, and wondered what liberties had been taken with the
original books by P L Travers.

Of course, he didn’t believe that the books would be biographical, or even
remotely close to a truth. However he did suspect that there was an
archetype, a real person on whom the tales had been based, and that the
person, or their successor, existed. He glanced at Scully from the corner of
his eye, seeing her pale intent face with fondness. Ever the disbeliever,
ever the doubting Thomas, the anchor that bound his theories to reality; at
times he found her exasperating but he knew that without her honesty and
support he would long since have flown too close to the sun.

~~~~~~~~~


By the time Scully arrived the next day Mulder had been at his desk a couple
of hours. A litter of newspaper cuttings and printouts surrounded him,
together with old photographs and yellowed hand-written letters in plastic
sheaths. Glancing over his shoulder she could see on his monitor a precis of
a witchcraft trial dating from the early seventeenth century.

She sighed. Another embarrassing visit to Skinner’s office loomed ahead,
another chance to loose her dignity trying to justify one of Mulder’s
hare-brained ideas. He looked up at her and grinned happily.

"This is wonderful, Scully. There are at least fifteen definite cases here,
and half-a-dozen possibles. They cover a span of two hundred years, though
there are a couple of much older ones that could be linked. Listen to
this... it’s from a woman living in England in the 1830’s to a friend."

He picked up one of the printouts and began,

"’I must also tell you, dearest friend, of the wondrous news from my sister
Emily. You may recall the misfortunes that have befallen her and the
despicable behaviour of her wastrel husband. Well, all has now changed, a
miracle has occurred and she is joyful and optimistic again. It is difficult
to credit, but she attributes all to the new governess, a pleasant but
strict woman who seems to have taken charge and transformed her wayward
children into models of virtue. As a result, domestic harmony has been
regained and her husband, who was scarcely seen from one week to the next
and rumoured to be in a scandalous debt from gambling on cards and
horse-racing, is content to stay at home and has become uxorious to a
degree!

"A little blight has been the behaviour of the servants, who shrink from
this governess, saying she has strange powers and that the house has become
haunted since her arrival. These country folk are so superstitious, are they
not? They weave such droll tales about strangers.’"

"There’s a couple of similar cases in other letters and also several news
items about levitations or children with stories of a nurse or nanny who can
charm wild animals or transport them all to strange places. The recent ones
are reports from social workers."

He picked up a fat file and waved it at her excitedly. "Look, here’s a
totally dysfunctional family...teenagers in trouble with drugs and stealing,
mother an alcoholic, divorce looming. Then someone has the bright idea of
hiring an English nanny to mind the younger kids and within weeks,
Abracadabra, everything’s peachy."

"This is all co-incidence, Mulder. Thousands of families employ childminders
and nannies and of those there must be a proportion with serious problems
which they manage to resolve. This means nothing."

"Ah ha... but all of *these* have a link with paranormal phenomena. There
were indeed hundreds that fit the criteria, these were the ones with that
extra *zing*."

At last Scully allowed herself to be persuaded to review the evidence for
herself. Mulder was so twitchy and impatient she sent him away to
investigate in depth the case that had originally drawn his attention, a
family in Minneapolis, who were currently employing a British nanny. She
suggested as well he try to formulate an argument that would convince
Skinner to let them investigate the case, without even *hinting* at Mary
Poppins. He bounced off, humming ‘Supercalifragalisticexpialidotious’ and
was soon browsing the children’s shelves in a nearby bookstore for copies of
the original novels.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Krycek had been caught off-guard, brooding about the previous evening’s
fiasco, when Mulder emerged from the Bureau. His sources had indicated that
the Agent had several days of deskwork ahead and it was unlike Mulder to
sneak out to visit shops during office hours. He had to scurry to keep
Mulder in sight, but was filled with hope as his quarry entered a bookstore.
What more traditional or appropriate place could there be for a clandestine
meeting? Maybe at last the tedium was over and he could return to more
pro-active assignments.

He slithered round the shelving in full undercover mode, snatching a random
book from a display and burying his face in it as Mulder passed his aisle en
route to the checkout. He held a handful of paperback novels and was groping
in his inner pocket for a wallet.

You’re behaving like a spy out of a melodrama, thought Krycek, laughing at
himself. Special Agent 007, Licensed to Kill, following the evil minion of
SMERSH and trying to capture the secret microdot hidden inside the cover of
an apparently innocent book. He followed Mulder back along the road, his
eyes on the carrier bag, praying that Mulder would take a short cut down
some quiet street or alley so that he could snatch it.

He was just resigning himself to waylaying Mulder later when his luck
changed. He suddenly swerved into a coffeeshop and Krycek just glimpsed him
as he rounded a corner at the rear, where a sign indicated ‘Restrooms’.

Excellent, a good choice, Agent Mulder. If you can’t rob him in there, you
need to hang up your gun and become a shoe salesman, Alex. Keep your fingers
crossed you’ll be alone.

As he stood at the urinal, Mulder thought nothing of the footsteps
approaching until he heard a loud ‘click’ and a cold metal gun barrel
nestled behind his ear.

"Give me the bag," purred a familiar voice, a voice that drilled spikes of
fury into his body, fury that coalesced in his groin and made his dribbling
cock twitch in mysterious excitement. Mulder quickly thrust it inside his
pants, ignoring the drips of urine that stained them, and zipped up, lest
Krycek be mislead into thinking his burgeoning arousal was anything more
than a reflex caused by anger.

"I said, give me the bag, Agent Mulder. I didn’t say to do anything else. I
didn’t say you could stop pissing, for instance." Krycek reached round and
took the tag of Mulders zipper in a delicate grip. "I didn’t say you could
hide it away and zip your pants so that I couldn’t see."

"Fuck, get away from me, you pervert. Get the hell away," snapped Mulder,
batting at Krycek’s hand and twisting to face his enemy.

Krycek’s face was grinning at him only a few inches from his own, the gun
held loosely in his hand.

"You got a problem, Agent Mulder? Don’t want me to see your little man, mmm?
‘fraid I’ll shoot it off?"

Infuriated, Mulder shoved him, ignoring the gun, forgetting everything but
the need to wipe the smug smile from Krycek’s pretty face. Alex staggered
back and tripped, dropping his gun as his hands flailed to stop himself
falling on the filthy urine-stained floor.

"No Krycek," snarled Mulder, "I’m afraid I might piss on *you* and you don’t
deserve the honour."

"Damn you," spat Krycek, recovering. He launched himself at the other man
using his head and shoulder as a ram and drove him against the opposite
wall.

Mulder fell heavily on his ass, winded, and Alex took advantage of his
opponent’s temporary incapacity to snatch up his gun and the bag and make
his escape.

~~~~~~~~~~

"Whatever happened to you?" asked Scully, wrinkling her nose at the odour
emanating from her bedraggled partner.

"Would you believe Krycek again? He mugged me in the restroom of a coffee
shop and stole my shopping bag. This is getting serious, Scully. He’ll be
waylaying my pizza delivery boy next... I could starve to death."

"Do you think it’s something to do with your new X-file?"

Mulder grinned. "I doubt it, though I’d love to be there when he sees what
he’s stolen. I had the complete set of Mary Poppins books in my bag, all
seven of them. We can be positive that he’s been told to intercept some sort
of communication to or from me and it appears that no-one’s told him what to
expect. I wonder if the Smoker’s behind it? He’s going to be really ticked
when he’s presented with a pile of kid’s books. Maybe he’ll read them from
cover to cover, looking for a secret code."

"Sitting in his evil lair, his lap full of pedigree white Persian, I
suppose."

"Pretty much what I was thinking, except I’d have said ‘fluffy white pussy’"
replied Mulder archly.

Scully threw a dictionary at him, which he dodged gracefully. Trying to look
prim she said,

"Go home and clean up, Mulder, you smell like a sewer. And don’t forget your
mouth... use plenty of soap."

"Yes, ma’am."

"Oh, and by the way, Mulder," she added, as he was leaving, "I’m coming
round to your view about these cases, there *is* a connection. While you’re
gone I’ll start putting together a presentation for Skinner. It’d be good to
get away from the office for a while, anyway."

~~~~~~~~

I can’t believe how easy it was to get Skinner to approve this jaunt,
thought Scully, dozing in her airline seat high above the Great Lakes two
days later. No crime involved, nothing dangerous, virtually a ‘Ghostbusters’
assignment, and he signed the request off without a murmur.

Beside her papers rustled as Mulder extracted yet another file from his bag
and riffled through it.

"Did you read the information on the author’s life?" he asked.

"I confined myself to facts... to evidence, Mulder. She wrote *novels*
remember?" Scully yawned. Mulder had been enthusiastic as a puppy over this
X-file and there wasn’t a *hint* of alien involvement. Goodness, what next,
she thought. Maybe we get to meet the Simpsons.

"I’m more and more convinced they weren’t just novels, Scully. Pamela
Travers was a true believer in mysticism. Have you seen her articles in
‘Parabola’ magazine, huh? She spent her days travelling the world, looking
for the meaning of life; she went all over Ireland, Japan, the Australian
outback where she spent her childhood. She had a secret Navajo name, for
christsakes."

"Forty-two," mumbled Scully.

"Uh?"

"The meaning of life, the universe and everything. Forty-two. Now let me
sleep, would you?"

The bearded man in the back of the plane scrunched further into his seat and
fumed. A pile of crappy kids' books... he’d made an idiot of himself in
front of Mulder by stealing them and compounded it by admitting his mistake
to Cancerman. He’d meant to request a clue, just a hint of who or what he
was looking for, and received nothing but the wrinkled old fart’s gentle
scorn. In frustrated rage he’d slammed the bag on the table and demanded to
know how he was supposed to do his job under such circumstances.

His ranting had done nothing but make him feel more humiliated and now here
he was, back on surveillance, with no more idea than before what he was
doing.

It had been good in the john, though. He’d half expected that Mulder would
give up without a fight, or maybe only a token bluster, so as to give
himself an excuse to let Alex touch his flies. He’d been far too
embarrassed, far too quick to hide his dick away and Krycek wondered, as he
had before when he had felt Mulder’s panting breath on his face during their
skirmishes, if the agent grew hard and excited at his touch just as he did
at Mulder’s.

One day he’d find out. One day he’d let Mulder back him into a wall and
reach down and get himself a handful of FBI cock, and feel just what his
G-man was packing for him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Gibsons were a pleasant couple, Scully decided. They had a comfortable
house in a good part of Minneapolis. Neat, but not to obsession, slightly
worn, rubbed, as if it were well loved, a relaxed and placid home reaching
to draw you in. They matched it, belonged with it, and their attitude to
life fitted. Unruffled, slightly amused and bemused by the attentions of the
FBI and the original newspaper article that had drawn Mulder’s eye, they
made Mulder and Scully at ease and appeared ready to reply openly to any of
the Agents’ questions.

Scully had spoken to Rowanna Gibson the previous day, and requested the
appointment. It hadn’t been Mulder’s preferred choice, he would have first
spent a few days in covert surveillance because he was naturally worried
that the scrutiny of the FBI would inhibit any unusual phenomena. But as
Scully pointed out, the Gibsons had done nothing wrong, and weren’t
suspected of a crime, so they shouldn’t be treated as if they had.

The couple were naturally surprised that the FBI were interested in the
events which had disrupted their lives.

"I wouldn’t have thought ridiculous stories like these would attract the
interest of the FBI," commented Mr. Gibson, in his warm, low voice.

"So you haven’t witnessed any of the paranormal events yourselves?"

"Frankly, no, Agent Mulder, and I’ll be surprised if you do. I believe that
this sort of situation starts as a rumour and is seized upon and magnified
by credulous and gullible people until its own weight gives it
authenticity."

Scully glanced at Mulder’s face, biting back a grin. How familiar those
words sounded…

"I didn’t realise that tax-payers money was wasted on such trivial matters."
The words were said lightly, but held a question, begged an explanation for
the FBI’s presence. Mulder flushed.

"We belong to a special department which investigates these incidents and
other unusual cases, Mr. Gibson," interjected Scully. "Occasionally there is
an occurrence which defies any known cause, but there is a need to expose
the cheats and fraudsters involved in the majority of cases. As you say,
there are a lot of gullible people who like to believe in ghosts or miracle
cures and the like, and many unscrupulous criminals prepared to relieve them
of their money, or even in the case of some crank cults their freedom, or
their lives."

"I’m sure this will turn out to be one of the hoaxes, Agent Scully. I truly
hope the fuss dies down soon because it’s put us both on edge, not least
because it’s unsettling for the children. Elspeth does her best to shield
them, but there’s been far too much chatter at their schools."

"Miss Elspeth Saville, your nanny?"

"Yes," replied Mrs. Gibson, with a smile. "She’s been wonderful, helping us
all to keep level heads during this time. We would have been overwhelmed
without her."

"As you know, some of the reported events involve her. For instance, there
was a talking dog, a fire hydrant that spewed out icecream... "

"Don’t forget walking on water, Agent Mulder... Please, think about these
things, think what you’re saying. They’re all ludicrous, Elspeth isn’t the
Saviour reincarnated, or a fairy godmother; our children aren’t witches...
we don’t possess Aladdin’s magic lamp. I’ve heard that all these ideas have
been postulated. Don’t give them credence by your interest, I beg you."

"We'll make it clear that we are here to debunk the stories, I can assure
you. However there have been few similar cases, which is why Agent Mulder is
interested, and why we were permitted to look over this one. Maybe you could
give us some information on Miss Saville, to start with? I believe the
events started when she arrived."

But the Agents soon discovered that the Gibsons, though helpful and
forthcoming couldn’t recall much of the nanny’s background. Copies of her
references had been mislaid, her original application, even documents
associated with her permission to work in the US were inexplicably missing.
The Gibsons were apologetic, though surprisingly unworried about their
ignorance and replied so fully to all the other enquiries that it was
obvious that they were not deliberately concealing information.

The nanny was similarly helpful, though she insisted the Agents should not
interview the four children until the weekend, when a suitably
non-threatening arrangement could be made. Mulder and Scully came away from
their talk pleased with its outcome, yet later neither of them could fully
recall its substance.

They spent a couple of days hearing increasingly wild stories from
neighbours, family friends and even a man who'd been repairing wiring on a
pole outside the house who swore he'd seen a line of squirrels dancing in
the yard. A couple of times Mulder could have sworn he'd seen Krycek dodging
his gaze as he and Scully became familiar with Minneapolis's geography,
looking for evidence at various locations where the paranormal events were
alleged to have happened, but it wasn't until the second night that he was
sure.

They'd had a nightcap in a local bar and Mulder, unsuspicious, had entered
his motel room and was shrugging out of his overcoat before he noticed the
disarray, and Krycek with an emptied bag in one hand and a gun in the other
standing nonchalantly amongst the debris.

"Damn it, Krycek, whatever the fuck it is you're searching for I haven't got
it," he said heatedly.

Krycek looked him up and down slowly, running the tip of his tongue over his
top lip as his gaze lingered on Mulder's crotch. "Oh, yes, " he purred.
"Yes, you have Mulder. Sadly though, it's not what I've been sent to find."

Mulder blushed, realising that Krycek's words were having an effect on his
dick that was going to become very obvious if he didn't hustle the bastard
out of the room as soon as he could. "What's with you, Krycek? You never
used to make *those* sort of remarks." He threw his coat on the chair and
made a pretence of adjusting his jacket so as to conceal his groin.

"Maybe I've had to watch you for so fucking long you're starting to look
attractive, Mr. G-man." He sauntered closer and reached inside Mulder's
coat, removing his gun. His glittering green eyes were inches away and his
scent invaded Mulder's head, making his heartbeat flutter sickeningly. "I
expect you've realised by now I've been given nothing to go on with this
assignment, so my eyes have been glued to you weeks, just in case. Can't
take a little compliment, Mulder? Get used to it because I'd rather waste my
time fantasising about your cock than your SAT scores."

"Maybe you should fantasise about my fist instead," spat Mulder, punching
him hard in the stomach, and grabbing for his gun-hand as he doubled over.
There'd been no choice about it, he'd either had to take that risk, or
reveal to Krycek that there was nothing he'd rather the rat was thinking
about.

A brief struggle ensued, but Krycek, who had no orders or inclination to
shoot Mulder, made his escape at the first opportunity.

~~~~~~~

He entertained Scully with the tale as they made their way to the lakeside
house the late the following morning, editing the suggestive words from
Krycek's speech. They were speculating fruitlessly on his mission as they
met Miss Saville and the children in the street on their way to the park.

"Ah, Mr. Mulder, I'm glad we've bumped into you," she said, ignoring Scully.
"I hoped you would accompany us to the park. Over a ball-game... football...
excuse me, soccer and a picnic you will be able to talk casually to the
children and obtain their statements. Miss Scully could perhaps continue
elsewhere with your investigation. I think two interrogators would be
overwhelming."

Not knowing quite how, Scully found herself on her way back to their car and
Mulder was stepping out quickly after the children. Miss Saville set a brisk
pace, chatting brightly to her charges and pointing out items of interest
that they passed. They stopped in front of a poster attached to some
railings which depicted a sunny garden. Mulder caught up with them in time
to catch a snatch of conversation.

"So, what do you think, children?"

"It's nice, said the youngest girl. "Please?"

The nanny smiled, and taking her hand said, "Very well, come along."

Suddenly they figures began to grow smoky, fade, and he started forward
toward them but was thrown to the ground by a heavy weight cannoning into
his side.

Krycek had seen the kids and their nanny disappearing. As Mulder began to
grow wispy too, he had to act. Leaping at him, throwing him down, he wound
his hands tightly into the front of the dress suit and hung on...

~~~~~~~~~

... rolling over and over, inches from Mulder’s straining face, when he
suddenly realised that his hands were clutching at air and the cold gritty
pavement had become grass.

Shocked, he ceased struggling, allowing Mulder to pin him down. He didn’t
hear his furious words; his eyes were wide, staring in disbelief over the
agent’s shoulder at a sky bluer than summer and clouds so white and plump
that each required the presence of a fat little cherub lolling happily on
its top.

Mulder took advantage of Krycek’s distraction to reach inside his coat for
his gun; but there was no coat and no gun. He knelt back astride Krycek, and
looked around for his missing belongings, assuming they’d come off in the
struggle. No coat, no gun, no street or traffic or park railings... nothing
but a glorious garden, basking in the lazy sunshine, and Krycek prostrate on
the ground spellbound with wonder.

"What happened?" he whispered hoarsely. His eyes caught Mulder’s, and a hint
of panic flickered in their jade depths. "What have you done?"

Mulder panned the scene. Idea after idea skittered through his brain. He’d
been knocked out and dumped here, he’d been drugged, amnesia, hallucination,
a dream... Mary Poppins. His stomach roiled. OK, you want to believe, but
you *don’t* want to believe in Mary Poppins. Jeez, she’s right there with
the Tooth Fairy and Mickey Mouse.

He climbed off Krycek and sat silently gaping, first at his surroundings and
then at Alex. A cloud of butterflies tumbled past, then a bumble bee like a
tiny tiger-striped Zeppelin lumbered through the air The rat-bastard must
have done this, or those motherfuckers he works for. I’ve been drugged or
plugged into a virtual reality, like that time when I thought my arms had
been chopped off.

"What the hell’s going on, Krycek? Where have you taken me? Why are you
leering at me like that... ? Don’t tell me - I’ve grown a second head, huh?"

Alex’s expression had changed from shock to blatant greed. He was looking
Mulder up and down as a hungry lion might regard a particularly tasty
antelope.

"Damn, where did you get that outfit, Mulder? It beats the suit hands down,
but you oughta bring Scully for protection if you want your cherry to stay
intact, pretty boy."

Mulder frowned quizzically and looked down at himself, then sprang to his
feet and twisted round as if he thought that his regular clothes were hiding
behind his back. He looked blankly at Krycek, and then gave the hint of a
laugh and shrugged.

"Par for the course, I guess... If I’m hallucinating, then I may as well be
wearing one of your outfits, I suppose."

Krycek rose to face him, and said belligerently, "Take that back, Mulder.
Dusty pink jeans... a tee-shirt that’d be too small for a twelve-year-old...
I can see your *navel* for fuck’s sake."

Mulder took a step back and studied Alex’s clothes, his lips clamped tightly
together as he struggled not to laugh.

"At least I’m not dressed for a Seventies revival night. Or maybe you’ve a
yen to be the second ‘Austin Powers’? That velvet ensemble is stunning,
Krycek, but hardly suitable for a life in the sewers, eh?"

Alex looked at his arms, and the deep burgundy velvet simpered coquettishly
at him, nestling against the frilled cuffs of his shirt with a maidenly
blush. He ran his hand up his chest to his neck; he could feel the brocade
vest, the tiny golden buttons, the ruched shirt-front, a silk band in a soft
bow around his throat. He tugged gently at an end of the bow and the silk
whispered to itself, smoothly unknotting and sliding from his neck to hang
weightless in his hand, a strip of scarlet gossamer wafted by the scented
breeze.

"I - er, shit, I don’t know - someone’s messing with both of us, for sure."
He smiled wryly and offered the tie to Mulder, who twisted it in his hands
and yanked as if he thought he could tear the illusion and fall back through
to reality. The cloth remained intact, and the world unchanged.

Grimacing, he stuffed it into the back pocket of his jeans. A temporary
alliance seemed a possibility, he couldn't imagine how Krycek could have
engineered this situation himself... if it was real. "What happened on the
street, Krycek. What did you see?"

"The kids and that nursemaid sorta greyed, and faded out. Then it started
happening to you too and I just instinctively reacted, I guess. D'ya think I
was about to lose you after trailing you for fucking *weeks*... no way. I
grabbed you and we were fighting - I suppose it must have happened then.
You?"

"Same thing, except the nanny was talking to the kids about gardens... we
were standing by a poster with a picture of a garden on it." He studied
Krycek, wondering if he was as puzzled as he looked. He was surprisingly
open - not defensive or shifty... or prepared with unlikely excuses or
evasions. He didn’t look like a man who was lying.

"We should try to establish whether this is real, or some sort of illusion.
We’re not going to be able to do anything about it until we know that."

Alex cocked his head in thought. "Uh, you think this is a hallucination, or
a dream? Hey, yours or mine, Mulder?"

"It’s a possibility."

"You’ve got *some* imagination, bit too much for a G-man, even one as
oddball as you, if you want my opinion." He looked at Mulder and thought of
how tight those jeans were, how little the T-shirt concealed and how much he
wanted to get his hands on M’s body... and how fucking long he’d waited for
the opportunity.

"A hallucination?"

"Yes."

"Could be mine, could be yours?"

"Yes."

"Let’s call that theory number one, and put it to the test shall we?"

"OK - how?"

"Like this, Mulder."

He closed on the other man and cupping Mulder’s head in his hand to stop him
backing off, kissed him hard on the mouth.

Just for a moment he felt Mulder respond, melt into the embrace, and then he
was pushed violently away.

"Not my hallucination, then," he said with a smirk. "Must be yours Mulder."

"Damn you... bastard," said Mulder, scrubbing his mouth vigorously with the
back of his hand.

Dreams - suppressed but always slithering just below the skin of his
conscious mind - dreams in which Krycek’s lips had captured him, ensorcelled
him, and he had surrendered willingly to their magic, dreams which should
not be recalled had been validated, vindicated. He’d nearly let it happen,
and Krycek knew it.

His hand slowed and twisted round to cover his mouth, vainly trying to hold
back the lie he knew he must utter.

"Not mine either, Krycek. If you think I could have dragged *that* into one
of my dreams then you can go fuck yourself."

The feel of Mulder’s lips on his lingered deliciously. I can’t let this go
now, he thought. He wanted that kiss, but he can’t - won’t admit it. If I
don’t push now he’ll think I was just yanking his chain.

"Fuck myself, Mulder?" he drawled, cocking an eyebrow suggestively.

"Yeah. Yourself. Not me."

Seizing Mulder in a grip empowered by desire and new hope, Krycek forced
Mulder to accept him again, violating his lips and resisting his struggles
until Mulder capitulated and allowed the kiss to deflower him, opening his
mouth to the insistent penetration of Krycek’s tongue.

The rich velvet caressed Mulder’s arms as they slipped almost of their own
volition around Alex and pulled him closer. His whole body became a
nerve-tip, drinking in Krycek’s forbidden touch, the synapses singing and
sparking, feeding back the chemical electricity until he felt his soul
crackling with barely leashed energy.

Where has my reason gone, he thought. I can’t be doing this, I can’t be
letting it happen. It’s crazy. And the response came - crazy to have needed
it for so long yet denied it.

At last Krycek released him. He stood speechless, trembling in Krycek’s
arms.

"I’m going to make love to you, Mulder. You know it now... fantasy or
reality, it can’t be stopped."

"If this is real, then I’ll fight it, Krycek." His voice faltered, but there
was an underlying determination. "I can’t deny I want it, but I can’t let
myself need you. How could I respect myself if I became the... lover of a
traitor, a murderer."

Krycek shrugged, and said with a knowing grin, "We’ll see. And if this is an
illusion?"

Mulder fixed his eyes firmly on the ground and muttered, "There’s no shame
in dreaming. I shan’t accept responsibility for the sins my subconscious has
me commit."

"Fair enough. Sounds as if we’d both profit from a pink elephant falling out
of the sky or an eight-foot talking toadstool. Let’s go for it."

He reached out his hand for Mulder’s to draw him on the quest. Mulder looked
at it, a giggle struggling to surface.

"No, Krycek. I’m not going to promenade about this garden like your
*sweetheart*.

Alex laughed, and a carefree smile like a pure clear chime transformed his
face as he strolled towards the gravel path.

"C’mon then. I’m just hoping we don’t prove this is an illusion by tripping
over a fucking fire-breathing dragon."

The gravel crunching beneath their feet was deafening in the quiet garden.
The few birds that had been twittering in the magnificent trees had fallen
silent, drugged by the heat. Krycek removed his coat and shook out his full
shirtsleeves with a flourish.

"Not a bad suit." He ran a few paces in front of Mulder and twirled round.
"How do I look?"

"I should say, ‘Like a fool’ but I suppose I can admit it does things for
you. Slightly... um... ostentatious for your occupation... you don’t exactly
fade into the background."

"Neither do you, Mulder. You look like you should be wearing a price-tag
round your neck." His eyes drifted to his crotch. "And your assets are
nicely displayed."

Grinning at Mulder’s frown of disapproval, he added "But I prefer your dress
suit. I like my men classy."

"If I’d known you found my clothes provocative I would have got them from
*Sears*" he replied dryly.

Each twist of the path brought new vistas of blossom - larkspur, hollyhocks
and strong scented pinks encroaching the path. Bright blue delphiniums and
heavy peonies, glossy red as cherries, clustered behind, backed by garlands
of sweet roses and glorious banks of cool green leaves which rustled and
shimmered in the breeze.

At last they emerged onto a wide lawn, its immaculately striped and rolled
surface a carpet leading to a sprawling building of mellowed stone.

"I know this place," said Mulder. "It’s Oxford... Trinity College Garden.
Though it was never this perfect, never this quiet. There should be other
people, and traffic humming... it’s eerie."

"So it’s real - we’re real."

"I’m not sure. It exists, yes. I just can’t believe we’re here. Let’s try
the building."

As they crossed the lawn there was a sudden shriek and a small girl in a
blue dress scampered across a corner of the grass, laughing as another ran
after her and sprayed her with a water pistol. Like lightening, Mulder gave
chase and Krycek sprinted after him. He dodged through the bushes and almost
bowled Mulder over before he realised that he had pulled up short at the
edge of a glade. A chequered cloth spread with a generous picnic lay on the
ground. Miss Saville and the two older children sat beside it, dodging the
squirts of water as the young sisters continued their game.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Mulder, Mr. Krycek," she said brightly. "Are you
joining us for tea, or are you Pursuing Your Investigation?"

"Where are we, Miss Saville? How did we get here?"

"I see you have deduced that you are no longer in Minneapolis, Mr. Mulder."

"I haven’t deduced what the hell you’ve done, though," he snapped.

"Not In Front Of The Children, Mr. Mulder. No profanities, please."

"How did we get here - it’s Oxford, isn’t it?"

"That’s what you see, Mr. Mulder."

"It’s what I see, it’s what he sees, but is it real?"

"You must Decide For Yourselves. It’s pleasant, isn’t it? The children enjoy
their picnics here."

Mulder recalled statements from the children’s friends. A garden had been
mentioned, but he’d assumed it was local, possibly a park.

"Give me a straight answer, Miss Saville. How did we get here?"

She smiled primly. "You followed me, I believe. Don’t ask for explanations,
Mr. Mulder. Not from Mary Poppins."

"Mary Poppins," echoed Krycek, astonished. "Shit, Mulder, are you and this
chick both fodder for the funny farm?"

"Mr. Krycek," admonished the nanny, putting her finger to her lips, "The
Children."

"Since you mentioned them, why don’t we ask them, eh? Maybe they won’t be so
evasive."

"I believe that was the purpose of this morning’s outing. By All Means, ask
them."

However the children would say only that Miss Saville often took them to
gardens and that they had a ‘neat’ time.

The youngest child soon became fidgety and skipped off. Mulder was engrossed
in his questions but Krycek watched her depart and followed her, curious to
see more of his surroundings.

The child made her way to a riverbank and sat trailing her hand in the
water. Cupping some in her palm she threw it into the air and created a
trail of rainbow droplets, diamond sharp in the sunlight. As Krycek stood,
open-mouthed with shock, she laughed and sprinkled another handful, and the
water drops hung, unfalling, glimmering, defying logic and gravity.

She stood up, casting a double handful into the sky, then another, until a
cloud of stars surrounded her, catching in her hair as she spun and danced.
Krycek stepped from his hiding place, entranced. The girl beckoned him into
the midst of her creation, giggling as the drops wetted his hair and
clothes.

"How did you do that?" he asked.

"It’s easy here; you just think it, and it happens. You mustn’t think bad
things though," she added, shaking her head solemnly, "or Nanny gets cross
an’ she’s mean then. You try. Go on."

"It works for grown-ups too?"

The tiny shoulders shrugged. "Dunno. I guess. Nanny told us not to tell
grown-ups, but you’re nice so it’s OK." She smiled encouragingly. "Try."

"What should I think?"

"Anything s’not bad. How about... ice cream. Think ice cream. Strawberry. I
like that."

Feeling foolish, Krycek obediently thought of an ice cream cone piled with
strawberry ice cream, visualising it, pink and steaming with cold, in front
of him.

"Catch it!" cried a shrill voice, but Krycek was too slow to stop the
confection splatting at his feet. He squatted down, poked his finger into
the pink puddle and smelt it. A heady aroma of strawberries filled his
nostrils. He licked his finger. Strawberry ice cream, as rich and delicious
as his grandmother used to make when he was a child. His guts dissolved in
panic. A dream world. Mulder’s half-joking suggestion was right. They were
in a fucking dream world.

"Did *I* do that?" he whispered to the disappointed child.

"’course you did. You have to be *ready* though. No use wishing for
something like that if you’re not *ready*."

"Can you do *other* things?"

"Not big ones like Nanny. I can’t do seasides and playgrounds. I can be
things though, see!"

She vanished. Krycek looked around wildly, but there was no sign of the
child.

"Down here," came an odd little voice. At his feet was a fluffy yellow
duckling, regarding him with a beady black eye. "Do you want to be a duck
too? I *like* ducks."

"Er... not right now, thanks," gabbled Krycek, backing away.

The little girl reappeared, giggling. "Don’t you like ducks? Try a parrot
then. They’ve got pretty colours."

"I can turn into things, too?"

"Guess so. Try. There’s no catching if you turn into something, so that’ll
be good, for a clumsy like you."

Krycek shrugged. Why the hell not, he thought. If I’m dreaming I may as well
go with the flow. Better not imagine anything that would scare the kid,
though. Remembering fairy-tales from long ago he concentrated and suddenly
sensed the world differently. It smelt and sounded... peculiar... and it
shimmered in his vision as if through a distorting lens.

"A unicorn," the child shouted gleefully. "I knew you were a nice man. That’
s the bestest thing."

She skipped up to Krycek and rubbed his long nose and stroked his silky
mane. Suppressing an urge to start browsing on the grass at his feet or take
off for a gallop across the lawn he shook himself, feeling the unfamiliar
length of his neck, the swishing tail, the wiry tendons in his legs. A
sudden notion panicked him - could he turn back? All pleasure gone, he
remembered himself, how he should be, and slumped with relief as he found he
easily regained his rightful shape.

~~~~~~~~~~~
Mulder meanwhile was getting nowhere with his questions. Mindful of Miss
Saville’s presence the children were reticent, and he extracted little more
than they enjoyed outings with their Nanny, and she played ‘cool’ games. His
irritation mounted and he longed to interview the nanny again alone, and
demand answers. She was obviously aware of his frustration, supervising his
conversation with the children with a prim smile and occasional word of
caution. Then unexpectedly she interrupted

"Mr. Mulder, your friend can answer your questions. You’ll find he has your
explanation now."

"My friend?" said Mulder, puzzled.

"Mr. Krycek. He can help you. Little Amanda has been indiscreet, I fear. Why
don’t you talk to him now - you’ll find him by the river." She pointed
across the glade.

"Krycek’s no friend of mine."

"No, Mr. Mulder?" she said in disbelief. "Something else then, something
more? Go and speak to him please, the children have been asked sufficient
questions."

Her firm tone was irresistible, and Mulder found himself walking in the
direction she had indicated, without realising he had obeyed. He glanced
back and she frowned and nodded her head for him to continue. Makes as much
sense as anything else here, he thought. I’ll humour her. God knows what the
low-life’s been doing.

He emerged on the riverbank to find Krycek and Amanda sitting at the water’s
edge eating ice cream and tossing pebbles at a floating tangle of weed.
Mulder strolled up behind them and it seemed that somehow the real world,
his regular relationship with Krycek had become the unlikely, the unnatural
situation.

"Miss Saville sent me to talk to you, Krycek. Apparently you know what’s
going on here and you’re going to enlighten me." Krycek looked over his
shoulder and up at Mulder silhouetted against the bright sky, and slowly
smiled. For an instant Mulder thought he was going to faint, that his brain
had been submerged in an icy liquid and his thoughts had been frozen,
crystallised into a pure gem of desire. The glimmering river, the lithe
willows draped over its shores, carpets of smooth grass dotted with daisies
and blue speedwell and Alex, dressed like a dashing hero from a melodrama,
was smiling at him, smiling *for* him, as if Mulder was his love, his
beloved.

However Krycek’s innocent smile belied his thoughts. He was mischievously
considering turning into one of Mulder’s favourite aliens or possibly
Scully. The guy’ll probably think I’m a shapeshifter he thought, and before
I know it I’ll have a nice shiny spike sticking out of the back of my neck.
Waterfowl might have been safer, but beneath his dignity.

"You’d better go back to your Nanny, Amanda. Mr. Mulder and I have grown-up
things to talk about."

"OK," said the child, who had been wondering if it was her turn for the
water-pistol, and ran off to find her siblings.

Mulder sat in Amanda’s vacated space and stared at the clear brown swirling
water. "So what’s going on," he said quietly.

"It’s an illusion, Mulder, a dream. Amanda proved it to me. Allow me to
demonstrate, and don’t freak out on me, all right?"

He tossed a pebble in a high arc out over the river, letting it fall and
halting it just as it reached the water’s surface, then willing it to skim
back across the river into his hand. Mulder watched open mouthed, silently.

"You can make things and change things too... probably other stuff." He
shrugged. "You were investigating poltergeists or some-such, weren’t you? I
reckon it’s a con. I think there’s a powerful form of hypnosis being used on
us. Look at me." Krycek couldn’t resist. It was too good an opportunity to
miss.

Mulder turned to face him and Krycek lazily relished the odd face, not
handsome but quirky, sexy, with lips that needed to be touched, kissed until
they were swollen and ripe with use. He let himself dissolve into a
reflection of the man he wanted, became Mulder, invoked the unique smell,
the level voice, every detail of his form and expression.

"Time for you to fuck yourself, Fox," he quipped, leaning over and kissing
the astonished man on the mouth.

Mulder pulled back as if he’d been stung. "Shit... what are you? I know
Krycek’s blood isn’t green and he doesn’t pull stunts like this, so who the
hell are you?"

"It’s still me - Alex Krycek being Mulder. Why don’t you be me and then we
can both indulge in a session of - um... unusual sex?"

Alex relaxed back into his own shape. "Lighten up Mulder. This is someone’s
dream, and I’m really hoping it’s mine." He wiped his tongue hungrily over
his lips and let his fingers trail down Mulder’s chest, hesitating at the
waistband of his tight pink pants. "This is going to be the *ultimate* wet
dream so long as I don’t wake up too soon," he growled.

"There must be more to it than that, you bozo. This is too real to be a sex
fantasy for slime like you." He leapt to his feet and paced up and down,
desperately thinking.

Krycek rose too, grabbed Mulder’s shoulders and pinned him against a broad
tree trunk, covering his face and neck with eager kisses. "Maybe so," he
whispered huskily as he came up for air, "But I sure intend to have you
first before worrying about any other aspect of the situation."

Mulder struggled vigorously against Krycek’s onslaught but the other man had
had the forethought to conjure himself some extra muscles, and his efforts
were to no avail. He felt helpless in Alex’s arms, weak as a mouse in the
cruel grip of a sleek and dangerous cat. It wasn’t worth resisting, in his
heart he didn’t want to resist and if this was a figment of his
imagination - well, what point was there in doing so?

Mulder palmed Krycek’s head, rubbing his hand roughly over the short soft
bristles covering the warm scalp and pulled him closer, arching back against
the tree to allow him better access to his neck. He felt Krycek’s hand
pushing up inside his skimpy T-shirt, rucking it into tight creases under
his armpits and as his body demanded more he moaned, "Help me pull it off,
Alex."

Alex fisted a handful of the cloth and jerked him roughly forwards, then
yanked the garment carelessly over his head and shoulders and tossed it
aside. Mulder shut his eyes, gasping with passion and with the helpless
rapture of surrender, giving his body to the hands that were stroking and
petting, kneading his flesh as if he were their property, their chattel.

Alex span him around and slammed him against the tree, sucking and biting
Mulder’s shoulders as his hands ran over his ribs and round his body. The
stubble on Alex’s face scoured his nape and back, sending his tingling
nerves into a whirl of sensation. His face grated against the knotted bark
and he inhaled the dark moisture of the moss and lichen and the clean heady
smell of Alex - Alex pressed against his back forcing his hard-on, hard as
the tree itself, tight in his jeans, against the trunk; grinding against his
ass so urgently that Mulder wanted to beg for Alex’s cock, beg to be
impaled.

He realised that he was groaning Alex’s name as the man’s hands crept down
his belly, cupping his balls and squeezing his shaft through the tough
fabric of his jeans. He leaned his shoulder into the tree, thrusting his ass
against Krycek in an insistent invitation. He felt hands on his fly and then
the jeans were pulled sharply down and tugged from his feet along with his
shoes. Alex’s hands ran back up his naked legs and thighs and squeezed his
ass-cheeks, stretching his flesh as his tongue and teeth bathed and nipped
at the twitching skin. His legs eased apart and Krycek smoothed the silky
flesh inside his thighs then thumbed his buttocks open and blew softly on
his asshole.

"Please Alex... " he whispered.

"What, Fox?" growled Krycek, wondering if Mulder would protest the use of
his name.

"Touch me, please, take me... "

"Touch you where, hmm?" he said. "Here maybe?" Alex’s tongue ran slowly over
Mulder’s anus, feeling the tiny opening relaxing in welcome. He tensed his
tongue to a point and thrust it through the ring of muscle. Mulder’s sharp
intake of breath called a ripple of heat to surge through Krycek’s body and
forced desperate drops of moisture to ease from his aching cock.

"Or here?" he asked, rising to his feet behind the naked man and circling
Mulder’s hot shaft with his sinewy hand as he slid an impudent finger into
Mulder’s spit-slimed asshole.

"Damn, Alex... I don’t need any fucking foreplay. Just screw me. Get your
fucking dick out and screw me," he gasped.

In his most lurid fantasies Krycek couldn’t have imagined hearing those
words from Mulder’s lips. Fumbling the fly of his velvet suit open he eased
his penis with some difficulty from the silken underpants that someone’s
subconscious had provided him with. The cloth was damp with pre-come and
clung insistently to his skin. Mingling spit with the juice oozing from his
lust-crazed body he gave his cock a superficial sheen of lubrication then
pulled Mulder’s ass open and wedged himself slowly but inexorably into his
body. Though uncomfortable, Mulder could think of nothing but the idea of
Alex inside him, and he welcomed the breach with sighs and whimpers.

"Jesus, Fox. I can’t remember how long I’ve wanted to do this. I never
thought it would happen." Alex’s voice was harsh, stuttering with the effort
of forming words when his mind was awash with pleasure. With an elegant
undulation he began to thrust into his lover, bracing himself with one arm
while his other hand work worked Mulder’s shaft, feeling Mulder’s hand brush
over his and then clasp it, urging Alex to stimulate him harder, faster.

Repeatedly withdrawing almost completely from Mulder, then ramming back into
him, heedless of the other man’s comfort or need, Krycek battered his lust
into the body that had tormented him for so long. But Mulder was beyond
caring about bruises, about the cruel abrasion of his skin on the rugged
tree bark, he was abased before the torrent of Krycek’s ardour, on fire with
the knowledge of his own subjugation. Suddenly the rapture overwhelmed them
both and pulsing with blissful release Krycek felt his seed spurt into his
lover’s body as his hand filled with Mulder’s semen.

He slumped against Mulder’s sweat-moist back trying to calm his breathing
and his racing heartbeat. Reluctantly Mulder released his hand and eased
away from him, offering the too-small T-shirt to Alex to clean himself with,
then gently cupping his face and kissing him.

"I don’t think I need to know any more about this world," he said. "You’ve
just given me a surfeit of miracles. Let’s just enjoy it."

He pulled on the jeans, and strolled, barefoot and barechested to the
riverside. Wondering if he was being a complete idiot, he thought of summer
idylls long ago at Oxford, and imagined a punt, kitted with cushions and
wine, ripe strawberries and chocolates, drifting downstream towards him.
Slowly it emerged from a bend in the river, long and low, its sturdy pole
resting the length of the boat across a mound of bright plump pillows, and
came to a stop within his reach. He took the painter and ushered an amused
and slightly startled Krycek aboard, then lifted the pole and stepped on the
platform at the stern and pushed them away from the shore.

For a while, Alex reclined and enjoyed the play of Mulder’s muscles as he
stood, easily balancing, lifting and thrusting the pole to propel them
steadily upstream. Mulder smiled down at his lover, rakishly sprawled like a
Regency dandy at ease on his bed of cushions.

"Why don’t you take all those clothes off, Alex?" he drawled, a lecherous
smile twisting the corner of his mouth.

Alex looked startled. "The kids... anyone might see."

"It wasn’t concerning us just now, was it? I guess my ‘Mary Poppins’ has
this situation under her thumb. It won’t happen. Let me see you naked in my
boat... and I’ll feed you strawberries and lick chocolates from your
beautiful body and we can while away the afternoon making love."

"And your investigation, Agent Mulder?"

"Won’t advance here, I’m sure. The cause is obviously Elspeth Saville. As
for the why or how, I expect only she knows the answers. I suspect I’m going
to be left unsatisfied... "

"But not by me, uh?" grinned Krycek.

"I hope not," replied Mulder, emphasising his words with a twitch of an
eyebrow.

With a challenging smile Alex slowly and carefully began removing his vest
and shirt, minding his movements so as not to upset the balance of the boat.
As inch by inch his bare skin was revealed, Mulder’s efforts to punt the
boat slowed and stopped. He let the boat drift beneath a willow and made it
fast, then, planting the pole in the river mud he shimmied out of his jeans
and stood naked and unembarrassed on the stern, letting Alex caress his
supple body with his verdant gaze.

Running his tongue over his full lips until they were glossy and seductive,
he stepped carefully into the hull of the punt and sat down beside his
lover. He made no effort to help but let Alex’s slow disrobing woo him and
beguile him so that the universe was compressed into the space of their tiny
craft.

The chocolate and the strawberries were sampled, the wine poured onto Alex’s
belly and carefully lapped up by Mulder’s tongue and the boat was rocked
gently as the men looted each other’s bodies for the hidden intoxication of
their passion. Spent at last, they lay back on their couch and watched the
shafts of sunlight breaking and flashing through the rustling leaves above
them.

"Is this forever, Fox? Do we have to go back?" murmured Alex.

"It’ll be forever in my memory... every day I’ll relive it, no matter what
happens."

For an hour they dozed, languorously stroking each other’s skin, punctuating
their few words of love with kisses. Then the boat began to drift
downstream, and Mulder whispered,

"I think we’re summoned, Alex. Clothes, maybe?"

They were soon beached at Miss Saville’s feet, each decorously but
incompletely clad in their pants. She smiled indulgently and said, "Time to
go Home For Tea, gentlemen."

Turning and walking briskly away she called for the children who emerged,
dishevelled and laughing, from the undergrowth. The party headed for the
lawn, Mulder and Krycek some distance behind, stealing kisses whenever a
turn in the path hid them from view. The last child was just greying and
fading from sight when they reached the grass and they raced to catch up,
passing full-tilt through the portal to reality and falling over a bench,
which was inconveniently situated on the other side.

~~~~~~~~~

As Mulder sat up he saw Krycek standing over him, wide eyed, his mouth
groping for words that wouldn’t come. Alex took a step closer, half reaching
down to pull the Agent to his feet, but suddenly snatched his hand back,
turned tail and sprinted off down the road.

He saw it too, thought Mulder. We were both there... I must speak with the
Nanny...

Miss Saville and her charges were already some distance up the road, on
their way home. Everyone’s clothes had reverted, the weather was cold and
grey once more and the city noise assaulted his ears after the tranquillity
of the garden. He got wearily to his feet and started after the others.

There seemed no point in continuing the case here, unless he could get Miss
Saville to talk. Others had seen things... he knew that was true now, but
Saville was the hub, the key. Delving into her background was worthwhile,
but that was better done from the office, at least initially. He wondered
what had brought her to this place. Scully had been checking out school and
medical records while he had interviewed witnesses, and there was nothing to
indicate the Gibsons were a dysfunctional family... almost the reverse. If
it weren’t for the English nanny and the paranormal events, they wouldn’t
have fitted any of the criteria.

Reluctant to dwell on his experience with Krycek he tried to question the
children again, but the nanny was adamant that there would be no more that
day. She did, however, condescend to meet him at the motel that evening when
he stubbornly refused to be fobbed off with no answers at all. Scully was
awaiting him at the family's house on his return, too tired to notice his
uncharacteristic silence when she suggested they call it a day and go for an
early dinner.

He picked at his food, hardly hearing Scully's interpretation of her day's
investigations. He was distracted by memories of sunlight dappling Alex's
chest, of their bodies cleaving together, of the chill water on his fingers
as they trailed in the stream.

"Are you listening to me Mulder?" she asked sharply, tapping his hand, which
was tracing the rim of his glass, with the back of her fork.

He looked up at her and knew she'd been wasting her time... the
investigation wouldn't turn up any evidence, just unprovable tales of
incredible events. Somehow Saville was twisting thoughts, making people
realise their dreams. Though why? he wondered. Could Krycek have been in
that garden? Maybe his vision had been different? He'd been ready to pick it
up, admit his feelings to Krycek when they next met, but now...Oh God...
maybe Krycek's dream had been *different*. Maybe he hadn't had the same
experience? He felt as if his guts had been torn from his body. He could
hint - but Krycek might pretend ignorance, even if he'd seen it too. Mulder
knew he'd never go back to how it had been with Alex, but could he go on and
show he desired him without that common experience?

"Mulder?"

"I - I think I've cracked it, Scully," he said hesitantly. "I think we'll be
going back tomorrow. The Gibson's aren't the cause of what's happened, it's
the nanny... but we'd suspected that." A nervous smile flicked across his
face. "Give me 'til the morning, and we'll talk it over."

She gave him a curious glance, but said no more. Sometimes Mulder had to be
given space to sort his ideas in his own mind before presenting them to her,
so she talked lightly of other matters and acceded unquestioningly when he
suggested returning to the motel soon after eight.

Miss Saville knocked gently on his door just after 9pm. She sat and accepted
a cup of coffee, demurely sipping as she waited for the hesitant agent to
form his questions. For a long while, Mulder sat on the bed, silently
studying her, then he pulled a bulging folder from his bag and held it out
to her.

"These cases are all linked... by a child-carer of some sort... an employee.
There are examples going back two hundred years at least. She, or they, have
done nothing wrong, there have been no crimes, just... well... good deeds I
suppose, so officially I have no grounds for demanding answers. But somehow
I think you know me, Miss Saville, and you know I crave answers and truth
just for their own intrinsic worth, even if they are of no use to me. So are
you willing to tell me what this is all about, and what you are? And please
don't give me the Mary Poppins bull-shit, we both know this isn't La-la
land."

"There’s no reason for me to tell you anything at all, Mr. Mulder. If I
chose I can excise this whole incident from your mind, and I wouldn’t be
troubled by your questions."

"I assume that isn’t your way, or none of these reports would exist?" He
placed the folder on the bed beside him, and stared down at it, biting his
lip.

"Not often. I usually take on children, and fairy stories are expected from
them, aren’t they? One infrequently finds an adult willing to be humiliated
by his belief in them too." She gave a tight smile, and Mulder flushed in
embarrassment.

"I seek explanations, Miss Saville," he said, gathering his dignity. "I can’
t deny I’m over-credulous at times, but at least my mind isn’t shuttered."

"Which is why I called you, Mr. Mulder."

"Called me?" he said sharply. "How? Why?"

"I have... certain abilities, Mr. Mulder. Time lies heavy, and occasionally
I seek diversion. Interfering in people’s lives is one of those diversions.
I choose not to act directly, it rarely works well; instead I prefer to act
as a facilitator. I shake up their lives and see if I can induce them, shock
them, to see through the veil of their apathy and their habits and find a
new way forward. I enjoy helping children particularly... they have few
effective champions, but occasionally I’m tempted by an adult situation. You
’ll find no record of the latter, their minds always deny what I do to
them."

"An adult situation?"

"One must Move With The Times. Your relationship with Mr. Krycek has
intrigued me, but seemed to be stagnating. It amused me to throw you off
track for a while and see how you would react. Now it’s up to you... I’m
moving on. Tomorrow I’ll be gone, and the Gibsons will have rationalised my
departure."

"What are you?" he asked angrily, surging to his feet, and standing over
her. "What gives you the right to interfere in my life, anyone’s life?"

"I’ve never bothered with the morality of it, Mr. Mulder," she said tartly.
"I can, so I do. I think I have Indulged You Sufficiently, this is becoming
tedious, so I will bid you farewell. You will find your colleagues will not
question the abrupt cessation of this investigation, and Mr. Krycek’s
employers have recalled him."

She got up and made towards the door. Mulder seized her arm, desperate
for answers. She turned back, and a dark fire in her eyes blasted stark
terror through him.

"I suggest you do not anger me. My benevolence has... limits." Her voice was
mild, but Mulder’s shaking hand dropped from her arm, and his breath cowered
shrieking in his lungs until the door closed behind her.

He groped back to the bed and sat down heavily, wondering what he had just
encountered, and whether he’d have the courage to delve further into...
whatever she was. If he’d been religious, words like demon would have sprung
to mind, but even considering more research into her filled him with horror.
He suspected that she’d twisted his mind too so that he also would be
prevented from pursuing her.

Moreover, he’d forgotten to ask about Krycek. She’d implied that she’d
treated them as a pair, given them a shared experience. But would Krycek
dismiss it as a vision, deny it had happened? As regret encroached on his
soul, he began to peel off his clothes. A shower, and then a few hours in
bed with the TV to distract him was required... a little distance so that he
could organise his thoughts and decide how to proceed.

As he emptied his pockets an unfamiliar object brushed his fingers, and he
withdrew a long strip of scarlet silk, as light as cobweb. It brought with
it the scent of flowers and hay. Dry-mouthed, he looked at it blankly for
several seconds, its implications unacceptable, but so wonderful.

Alex... Alex... the word was a litany as he scrambled into jeans and a
sweatshirt, grabbed his coat and wallet, and drove off, tyres screeching,
into the night.

END


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