Passions

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Title: Passions

Author: Theresa Jahn (theresa@xf-mindseye.com)

Category: X-file

Rating: PG

Distribution: This was written for the IMTP Virtual Season

10. Two weeks exclusively on VS10, after that archive

anywhere. Just drop me a line to let me know!

Disclaimer: The X-files and any characters related to the X-

files belong to Chris Carter and Tenthirteen productions.

Alexander belongs to me.

Thanks: To all the VS10 producers! You gals are the

greatest! Thanks also to Vickie and Susan for their super-

fast beta. Thanks to Jesse for being my vampire inspiration.

*****

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Passions

By Theresa Jahn

Teaser

The Lone Gunmen Headquarters

Location Unknown

11:45 p.m.

“Where is he?”

“Mulder,” Frohike greeted him as he opened the door wider so

that both agents could enter. Virtual reality goggles were

slung to his forehead, and he held a joystick halfway

disassembled in his left hand. “You’ve gotta see this.”

“Is it that bad?”

Scully glanced first at Frohike, barely stirring at his

unusual appearance. She quickly switched to look at her

partner, searching for a glimmer of understanding in his

urgency. Her head went back and forth, back and forth like

some windshield wipers, until she could stand it no longer.

“What’s happened?” she exhaled forcefully.

Both men looked at her as if they’d just realized she was

there. Frohike answered the question, but directed it toward

Mulder.

“Langly’s gone shopping.”

Both agents flinched.

Then Frohike continued, as he looked at them each in turn,

the tension building in a small vein at the outside tip of

his eyebrow. “He went shopping… with Byers.”

“What?” Scully exclaimed. “That’s why we’re here? Mulder,

did you…?”

“Just hold on a minute, Scully,” he coaxed gently. He took

Frohike by the shoulder and directed him toward the other

side of the room, behind one of the metal shelves stocked

with computer equipment from who-knows-where.

She sat down at a light table decorated with black and white

negatives for the next issue of the Lone Gunmen Newspaper.

“Utterly amazing…” she mumbled. The rhythm of whispering

from behind the shelves skipped a beat, but continued along

quickly as she began to lift and inspect one of the strips

of film.

‘So what?’ She thought to herself, ‘they went shopping…

For some new computer hacking equipment, no doubt. Langly

and Byers have different taste and different reasons for the

stuff, true. But it’s not like they would have gone on a

shopping spree at the mall. What, like Langly needs advice

in picking out a…’

“Ahem.”

The faint smell of aftershave seeped through the usual ozone

and oil smell that filled the main room. Scully’s shoulder

blades became like ice, sensing a creepiness. It was the

kind of feeling she felt when Mulder’s monsters came to life

before her eyes, no matter how hard she tried to deny their

existences.

She turned slowly, placing the negatives gently back onto

the light table. She looked first out of the corner of her

eye, then turned to fully face him. It was a complete

transformation. He wasn’t like anything she expected at all.

If a trip to the mall with Byers could do this… there’s no

telling…

“Nice suit, Langly,” Scully gasped out. Suddenly, she seemed

to be losing her breath.

“My dear Agent Scully. Dana. May I call you…” he stepped

closer to her, and took her hand to his lips, “Dana?”

The flash of his gleaming smile, and the boring gaze of

Langly’s pale blue eyes held her motionless. All her limbs

became useless to her, and she felt that she needed to be

held up. Langly smoothly pulled her into his arms. She

couldn’t help but to think how good he looked, how his whole

persona was so sophisticated, so dashing, so… sexy. What

was she thinking? It could never work out. He was a friend.

And Mulder was right there behind the shelves with

Frohike…. How could she even think of doing this?

But his face drew closer, became soft and loving toward her.

She could feel his breath on her face. A strand of blonde

hair escaped its slicked-back binding at the nape of his

neck and shimmered against the light of the exposed bulb

hanging behind him. Before she could even think of resisting

or even convince her mind that she wanted to, Langly’s lips

closed upon hers. She had always thought they would be stiff

and awkward. But he knew exactly how she liked it. She liked

it how Mulder did it…

Mulder….

Mulder….

“Mmmbph!” Scully blurted out as she pushed herself away.

“Mulder!!!”

Two heads popped out from behind the wall of twisted metal

and wires. Both jaws hung loose in amazed disgust. Mulder

could barely figure out if he were stunned, amused or

insanely angry with his geek friend turned Casanova.

Luckily, Frohike spoke up first.

“Get your hands off her!” The short man dumped his equipment

at once and strode over to grab Scully from the clutches of

what Langly had become. “Keep your calamari fingertips away

from her. It doesn’t matter who you choose does it? As long

as she’s female! You *know* I’ve been…”

Frohike bit his lip and remembered the agent behind him.

“You know she’s Mulder’s woman! You sicko!” He dragged

Scully away from him and sat her on the high stool next to

the light table. Mulder stared at her. Her lips were still

pink from the pressure of Langly’s kiss. The kiss he had

just witnessed… right in front of him! Damn it to hell!

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Mulder shuddered. Scully smiled at him with a ‘please

forgive me’ look. She touched her lips and sighed, as if

savoring the so recently past, but very real moment.

“Frohike,” he growled out under his breath, staring at

Scully’s pale, perfect fingers covering her blushing cheeks.

“I want to know everything.”

Act I

5 days earlier

An undisclosed apartment in Georgetown, VA.

10:30 p.m.

Alexander sat in the far corner of the loft-style living

room, in the filtered blue light of the television set. His

short, bleach-blonde hair appeared frosty and sculptured

from the special gel he’d used tonight. One foot rested on

the coffee table, next to a half-eaten Entenmann’s Danish

Ring he’d picked up on the way over. Blood was always more

to his taste, but the mass-produced sugary pastries of this

century helped to keep his energy going between feasting.

His piercing brown eyes weren’t watching the news report of

his latest supper. It was always dubbed a “mysterious

attack.” He rarely, if ever, left enough evidence afterwards

for the authorities, and was proud of his skill.

Instead, his eyes watched the nerdy-looking newbie trying

his best to fit into the chaos of the game. For a virgin

live-action-role-player, he’d been doing quite well for his

first time at Vampire. He exuded an air of experience, an

intelligence the others could never dream of. It was no

wonder he’d chosen a “mental twink” as his first character;

the character strength of mental intelligence fit perfectly

with his bookworm attitude. Yes, this one could prove quite

useful.

Alexander got up, stretched his long, muscular limbs,

adjusted his floor-length black trench coat, and made his

way over to the active center of the game. It was funny,

Alexander had only thought to acquire this body for its

possible knowledge of charm and valor; all he seemed to get

from it was a mediocre understanding of this stupid game he

played every week and the locations of various porn sites on

the Internet. Computers were a whole new mystery he had to

conquer, but… Still, his good looks and strength weren’t

going to get him very far, it seemed. This was a strange

time for man.

Several other small scenarios played out to his right and

left as he passed them. Other players flicked their wrists

in a rock-paper-scissor gamble, winning and losing the

action, gaining experience points, joining forces with other

players in the hopes of making themselves more powerful. It

was all a fantasy game. Each player created his own

fictitious Vampire character, determined their special

traits, and went into situations where they’d confront other

Vampires. They’d gain their points according to their

performance and use of their characters against their

opponents.

They were proud of their conquests, and humiliated by their

losses. Much of it was political, clans were created for

alliances, and the most skilled at the game became the most

powerful. Alexander scoffed at it all. He wanted *real*

power.

It was all different in this century. Power, or at least

respected power could never come with brute force. And if

one gained too much, he’d likely become famous and drift

into the spotlight, under scrutiny by all. Nothing was

private. The news press nowadays controlled a ghastly

network of truth and rumor. How he longed for centuries

past, hundreds of thousands of moonlit nights ago; he could

be a respected lord, could have his riches, his political

power, and still live with his deadly secret. Who would have

thought the lord of the castle was one of the undead? Now he

found himself in a mockery of it — it had all become a

legend, a fantasy.

Years of evading discovery had taught him common sense and

the common habits of man, but certainly not enough to

survive much longer. He couldn’t keep switching hosts

forever — he wanted a body he could live in, not just

settle up in for a few weeks until his face appeared on

every post office wall in the country. The one he wore

tonight only got him another “in” to this charade of Vampire

living. Hiding in plain sight? You couldn’t have missed

Alexander in this body if you tried. And a real live…

excuse me, real DEAD vampire hiding out in a fantasy Vampire

game? One could not have asked for a better setup.

The tall pale-skinned man ambled his way over to where the

newbies were stationed. The frail, long blonde-haired man

hunched over his character sheet like a buzzard, his eyes

flicking back and forth, his fingers wiggling as he became

excited and calculated his next move.

“Come on, Langly, out with it!” an impatient player shouted,

his pudgy arm losing strength, as he’d been holding a fist

out toward his opponent for some time.

So that was his name, Alexander thought. Langly sneered out

an expletive, and concentrated once again on his sheet. He

pursed his thin, colorless lips, pushed up black thick-

rimmed glasses and announced his move.

“Okay, I’m intimidating enough not to bow to your ‘dread

gaze.’ You will cower at my ‘leadership,'” he said and held

out an identical fist toward his adversary.

The vocal actions mainly came with physical signs of a

confrontation. This round had been going back and forth for

more than a few minutes already, and the obvious lack of

exercise Langly’s opponent practiced did not help in keeping

his arm out straight for long periods of time. Relieved at

finally hearing an answer, the man quickly lowered his arm.

The two of them turned aside and shook their fists as if

shaking up a can of soda, then turned back toward each

other. The one held his hand out with two fingers like a

scissor. Langly held his out flat, like a piece of paper.

“Ha,” the first player chuffed out.

Langly squinted his eyes in thought, clearly trying to

figure out a good way to take control of the game. The first

player, Lawson — Alex remembered the “social twink” from

last week — looked around at some of his buddies,

exchanging glances like he knew he was hot. He had, in fact,

only been to the game once before. Langly’s counter attack

drew his attention back to the confrontation at hand.

“Well now,” Langly began, raising his eyebrows in

confidence, “I’m going to be wily enough to ‘dominate’ you.”

“And I’m ‘determined’ enough so that you won’t.”

They proceeded to run through another action of rock-paper-

scissor. This time, Lawson came up with scissors again, but

Langly held a tight fist — rock.

“Crunch,” he said, as his imaginary rock crushed his

opponent’s scissors.

A few more actions of the game proceeded on, and Alex was

becoming bored. As he was about to turn away, he heard not

another action being taken, but an argument over a tie in

the game. The Story Teller present referred to each player’s

traits to determine the outcome, and found that even though

Lawson had played an extra night, that Langly had a higher

number of traits than he, and that would win the round.

Out from the few sheets of papers he held with his

information, Langly pulled out a small card and gave it to

his opponent.

“No hard feelings, hey bro?”

The other player accepted reluctantly. Alex peered over the

edge of the card. All it said was “bag.” Lawson muttered to

himself and walked away with his friends.

After the player left, Langly told the Story Teller, and all

who were around the area, that the “bag” he’d given Lawson

was filled with explosives, and was set to explode later on

that evening. The heavy-set man suddenly whipped his head

around and scowled at Langly as he retreated.

“Has been noted,” the Story Teller said, and the rest of the

group broke up to go and search for another confrontation.

“I like this game,” Langly said smugly, crossing his arms as

he watched the other men mill around the studio. Although it

was a first time, Alexander was impressed at Langly’s quick

usage of his “mental” abilities.

Proud of his own intelligence, Alex could feel the force of

energy beating off Langly in waves. This one could win. Yes,

it was a game, and yes, it was his first time, but first

impressions counted for a lot. He could foresee Langly’s

character quickly gaining influence and status among the

others. He had another agenda in mind.

Alexander’s eyes shone with anticipation. He needed this

one. He needed to be a winner again, because he was damned

if he was going to hide out with these freaks any longer

than he had to.

***

“Nice moves,” a clear, deep voice commented.

Langly pulled his chin back into his neck so that the

wrinkles of skin around it made him look like a conceited

turtle. He snorted, unimpressed by the compliment.

“Whatever,” he said shrugging his shoulders, lips curling in

a sneer.

“No, I mean it, dude. You’ve got real potential.”

“Potential? Are you telling me I’m not good? Lawson could

inform you otherwise.”

Both men glanced over to the chubby middle-aged player, his

back to them, already engrossed, as was the rest of the

crowd with a random decision to take orders for a late-night

pizza run.

“No, you’re good, but you’d never beat me. I know too much.”

“Do you?”

Alexander nodded.

“Well, let’s go then, big man,” Langly challenged, cocky in

his first triumph, and stepped closer to his challenger. The

man dwarfed him by head and shoulders. Langly was face to

face with Alexander’s chest, which he poked with his index

finger. Alexander was a huge man, and if brute force counted

for anything in other centuries, he could prove it all over

again with the menace of his height and breadth. The large

man crossed his arms.

“Ready when you are.”

***

The Lone Gunmen Headquarters

Location Unknown

2:06 a.m.

Langly stood outside the door, mentally counting off each

lock as he heard the scraping metal each one made as Frohike

opened them on the other side. Last was the dead bolt on the

floor, and the door creaked open an inch.

He pushed through and entered the chaos of the main room,

now dark except for a small TV in the corner where Frohike

had fallen asleep watching one of Mulder’s tapes — before

he had to get up and let his roommate in. Langly went

straight for his computer to check his email. The soft sound

of static moaning and heavy breathing set the background

music for his task.

“Mornin’ sunshine,” Frohike teased as he wiped a gnarled

hand over his scruffy face. “Where you been?”

“Nowhere.”

“Nowhere must be an interesting place. You were there for

eight hours.”

“What are you, my mother?”

Frohike looked down at himself, his white t-shirt belly

hanging out above his boxers. He pulled the faded striped

terry robe around himself and tied the belt.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” the younger man scowled.

“Fine, man. Don’t blow your gourd,” Frohike mumbled, as his

feet padded back to watch his movie. The ticka-ticking from

Langly’s keyboard did well to distract him, and he had to

rewind the VCR to find the place he’d left off. Now where

was he before he fell asleep?

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“What the ffff…” the hissing sound of the “f” continued

and fizzled into a spitting sound as Langly stared at his

inbox. Among some other junk his hacker buddies left him,

there was an email from an address he didn’t recognize, but

he knew exactly whom it was from. It was titled, “I beat

you.”

“How in the hell did this asshole get my email address?”

Langly was fuming. Not only had Alexander proven his

expertise by beating his ass into the ground during game,

but now he was gloating about it. Langly scanned the mail

for viruses and any hidden nastiness before he opened the

message. When he was satisfied, he opened it.

:: You lost tonight, but I can make you better.

:: Meet me at the Starbucks around the corner

:: from Mike’s loft tomorrow around 11. I’ll

:: give you some pointers. Then, maybe you

:: can help me out.

:: Alexander

“You’re awfully quiet over there, buddy. What’d you get a

love note?” Frohike sung out. All that was visible were his

bare feet propped up on the desk next to the TV.

“Yeah. I’m going to send him a nice little present for our

first date,” he said with a rumble to his voice. He gritted

his teeth as he started jabbing forcefully at the keyboard.

In response, he wrote:

:: Re: I beat you.

::

:: You’ve got a big dick there, Alex. Here’s

:: a Trojan to keep it quiet.

:: See you tomorrow. 🙂

::

::

“Wow, I didn’t know you were going all the way on a first

date.”

Langly nearly jumped out of his seat. Frohike had snuck up

behind him and stood to read the email over his shoulder.

“A Trojan Horse? What did this guy do to you?”

“Beat me at the game.”

“Whatever.”

“Hey, you stick to your gigs, I’ll stick to mine.” Langly

got up, shut off the computer and unplugged it. After all,

he didn’t know what this guy Alexander was really capable

of. “I’m going to bed.”

“Nighty-night!”

“Shut up and watch your porn.”

Frohike stuck out his tongue, shuffled over to his TV set

and hit play.

***

Act 2

Scully’s Apartment

Georgetown, VA

10:15 a.m.

She pressed the sponge against the line of Soft Scrub she’d

just squirted and began rubbing in circles. It was long past

the time where the gray ring around the interior of her

bathtub could be considered ‘a distressed look.’ It needed

to be rid of. She couldn’t enjoy herself in it anymore, and

that wreaked havoc on her stress levels. A good hot soak was

one of the things she was looking forward to on her

“Mulderless” weekend.

Scully squeezed the foamy white liquid out of her sponge and

ran it under the faucet. As she unlatched the showerhead

from its hook on the wall, ready to rinse the mess down the

drain, the phone rang.

“Great,” she said without enthusiasm. Quickly, she wiped her

hands on her sweatpants and thumped into the living room to

answer the phone.

“Hello?”

“What are you wearing?”

Scully huffed. “Mulder, you know full well what I’m doing

this morning, what do you think I’m wearing?”

“You mean you’re really wearing thigh-highs and heels?”

She looked down at her splattered grungy sweatpants and

flip-flops.

“That’s hardly practical attire for cleaning the bathroom.”

“Ooh, work that scrub brush, Scully!”

Scully laughed. She could hear the smile in his voice. “So,

what’s up? I thought we agreed to have a weekend to

ourselves?”

“Well, you know, cleanliness isn’t one of my greatest

virtues. What do you say you come over later and give me a

few pointers?”

“Oh, no, one apartment is enough for me. That’s your

territory, Mulder,” she said with finality. Besides, she

thought, knowing Mulder, how much actual cleaning would get

accomplished? More likely an unmade bed and a pile of

clothing on the floor.

The silence in the receiver was filled with disappointment.

Her throat clenched.

“Mulder, I’m sorry, but I already have plans to go out

tonight, and I’m seeing Mom, Bill and his family tomorrow.”

“Ooh, ah…” he cleared his throat before continuing, “You

can count me out with seeing Bill. That’s all you, Scully.

But what’s that you mentioned about tonight? Are you going

out on a hot date behind my back? I’m hurt!” The sarcasm was

heavy in his voice, but it was coupled with an undertone

that sounded not just a little suspicious.

“If you must know, I’m meeting up with Mel.”

“Harmon? From the lab? I didn’t know you two were *that*

friendly.” There was another pause — the kind of pause

Scully knew all too well.

“Mulder…”

“Hey, Scully, maybe the both of you together can help me out

with this new case–”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because, Mulder,” she said slowly, as if explaining to a

child, “this is my weekend off. I need a break.”

“But–”

“Mulder, no.” She sighed heavily, hating to put her foot

down with him. He could just be so stubborn sometimes. She

filled her voice with consolation, and gently said, “I’ll

see you Monday.”

After a long empty moment of dead air, he mumbled, “Okay.”

His mouth was too close to the receiver, and his breath

created a loud hissing noise in her ear. She could

practically feel that pouting lower lip against her cheek.

“Have a good weekend.”

“You too, Scully.”

Click.

Of course she felt badly, but he just couldn’t hover over

her every day. A working and personal relationship with the

man got a little oppressive sometimes. More often than not,

she loved being around him — adored it. But this was “her

time” this weekend, and she damn well deserved it.

She went back into the bathroom and rinsed out the tub. Next

she prepared herself to wash down all the floors. She

couldn’t even remember when she had done them last. It’s was

no wonder all the hardwood looked so dull. She got the big

bucket and placed it in the tub, ready to fill it with hot

water, then remembered she needed the soap.

Trudging into the kitchen, she swung open the doors below

the sink. She began pulling out various bottles of cleaning

supplies: window cleaner, bleach, bug spray, and wood

polisher. Finally she found the bottle of Murphy’s Oil

soap… and it contained a mere tablespoon of liquid.

“Murphy’s law,” she sighed, turning over the bottle to watch

the spit of soap inch down the inside of the container.

“Guess I’ll have to go to the store.”

As she grabbed her keys and wallet, she took a glance at

herself in the mirror. She looked like hell, her hair bound

up in a rubber band, sweatshirt and pants too big and

ragged, and her bare feet in flip-flops. Those, at least had

to be changed. She pulled on her running shoes, without

socks, and left the apartment.

“I can’t be bothered,” she thought as she locked the door,

and headed down the hall to the elevator.

***

Starbuck’s Coffee Shop

One block away from Mike’s loft.

Georgetown, VA

10:43 a.m.

The white foamy steamed milk swirled in the metal cup she

held. The small spout from the cappuccino machine became

engulfed as the air expanded the liquid. Her hands held the

cup tightly, fingernails clipped close so that she wouldn’t

bite them. Langly knew she had that dirty little habit, at

least ever since he’d been coming to this coffee shop.

He indulged himself in a latte every now and again if he was

having a bad day, especially a dark and rainy one like

today. He discovered this place in Georgetown because of his

D&D buddies, and because of Scully. It was a no-brainer

driving the van to this neighborhood, considering the number

of times Mulder had been unfit to drive.

Jenny knew him well enough not to call his order across the

shop. He liked drinking sweet lattes with lots of sugar, but

cringed every time he had to utter the frou-frou French-

sounding drink.

She passed the tall paper cup over the high counter to him.

“Here ya go, Langmeister,” she said and winked. “You’re up

early,” she commented as she re-tied the green bandana

wrapped around her head.

“Yeah,” Langly answered. He took a long sip from the tiny

hole in the plastic lid. He couldn’t quite think of anything

to add to the conversation, though Jenny stared at him in

anticipation of more. Instead, he drowned out the chance to

speak with another long sip of the coffee and sought out one

of the small round tables scattered around the shop. He made

sure he faced away from her. He didn’t want to be caught

staring.

The coffee was sweet in his mouth and it warmed his throat

going down. Sitting there, tasting and smelling the

Starbuck’s brew felt comfortable. And although he could

sense Jenny peeking over the counter from time to time, he

did his best to ignore her.

If it was out of self-consciousness, he’d never want to

admit it, and so he didn’t do anything at all. He could

almost imagine the soft caress of her eyes drifting over his

neck, moving the long strands of hair away from the skin.

But it was all in a fantasy. He shivered with the thought of

her actually reaching out and doing something like that.

He raised his hand to rub the sensation off his neck, when

he encountered strange fingers hovering millimeters away

from his shoulder. The fingers were stretched wide, so that

he could feel the electricity of the approaching hand just

before it touched him.

“I knew you’d come,” the clear strong voice from last night

said softly, close to his ear. It was a little too close,

just like Alexander’s fingers practically reaching to comb

through his hair.

Langly stood and spun around to face the tall man’s chest.

He stepped back to the other side of the table, just enough

to catch a glimpse of Jenny. Her curiosity was turning into

something more like fascination. The flirtatious way she

hooded her eyes with dark lashes widened into something akin

to a goldfish, glassy and round. The kind of stare you gave

when you know you shouldn’t be looking, but you just had to

see how it all turned out.

Langly was wondering about the same at this point.

“So, you wanna talk game or are you gonna seduce me, big

man?”

“You started it, my friend,” Alexander said as he swung his

leg over the back of the chair and sat at the small table.

He spread his long legs wide so he could lean over it.

Langly sat opposite him, lowering himself slowly as if the

seat of the chair were too hot; like a freshly run bath – a

little too hot to be comfortable, but you knew it’d get

better in time. This one didn’t.

The large man took off his sunglasses, laid them on the

table, and out of the breast pocket of his trench coat,

Alexander pulled out a small square package. It was flat,

except for a thin doughnut shaped bump in the center.

“I can play that game, too, although I don’t think your

little friend over there would be so friendly anymore.”

Langly eyed the shiny red plastic wrapper of the condom,

hidden from everyone’s view except his own. Alexander held

it just in front of his chest, dangling in his fingers until

he saw Langly’s nose twitch, and eyes flash downwards toward

the table.

“Good,” the vampire crooned softly, and replaced the object

back into his pocket.

“So how long you gonna fuck with me, huh? You deserved it

for being such a cocky bastard last night.”

Alexander chuckled under his breath. “I may have deserved

it, but there’s a small Internet cafe a few blocks away

that’s taking the punishment for me.”

He stared at Langly, and Langly stared back. It was

difficult to get one over on the techno-geek, but this guy

seemed to be able to press all the right buttons.

“I know what you can do, my friend, and I didn’t take

Lawson’s advice lightly when I asked for your email

address.”

The skin on Langly’s face seemed to pull tighter, his eyes

began to bulge forward, and his coffee was getting cold.

“What’s this really about, Alex. You didn’t ask me here to

give me pointers on a game.”

“No, that’s true.”

“Then what the hell do you want? I can be a real asshole

real quick if you’re going to play head games with me too

much longer.”

“Ah, but isn’t all of life a game?”

He’d said that strangely. It wasn’t a witty remark as it

might have been meant to, but more like a growly, sultry

come-on. Alexander’s large hand slowly inched across the

table and brushed his companion’s fingers holding the

cooling coffee cup.

Langly reacted violently, jerking his hand away, and

throwing the half-full cup to the floor. What was a soothing

treat had become a splattered mess on the floor, dotting

Alexander’s black pants with foamy brown droplets.

The tall man leapt up, but didn’t lunge after the other as

one might have expected. Instead, he knelt down into the

puddle of coffee and tried desperately to clean up what had

fallen.

Langly stood there and stared down at him, sopping up the

liquid with a wad of napkins he pulled off the next table.

One after another, Alex dropped down a paper napkin,

absorbed what he could, and stuffed it into the empty paper

cup.

After the fifth round of watching this bizarre act, Langly

regained his conscious thought. “I don’t know what game

you’re playing, man, but I am so out of here.”

He started to walk away when a sticky wet hand grabbed his

wrist.

“No, please,” Alexander pleaded, one knee still on the

floor. “I need your help.” The begging in his dark brown

eyes held Langly even tighter than the grasp on his wrist.

It was so strange. All of a sudden, he felt badly for this

hulking idiot. Alexander’s grip loosened, and he began to

move down to hold Langly’s hand, a trail of coffee marking

his path.

“Langly, I need you,” Alex repeated.

Just then, Jenny came over with a mop, her eyes showing

practically all of their whites when she heard that

statement. She stopped dead in her tracks, observing what

looked like a twisted engagement proposal between the two

blonde men. Silently, quickly, she turned and brought her

mop back behind the counter.

Langly watched her distractedly, not really sure if he was

embarrassed by the situation. He knew he should have felt

like kicking this guy in the nuts, but he just couldn’t

bring himself to do it.

“You… need me?” he drawled out.

“That virus you sent me last night was just a taste of what

I want to learn from you.”

“Why me? Why not Lawson? He’s a good hacker.”

“Not as good as you. And, I like your style. From how you

played the game last night, I can tell you’re adaptable. You

hardly knew the game, but you came this close to beating

me,” Alexander admitted, pinching his fingers together in

front of him to demonstrate the close call.

Langly coughed out a laugh. “Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“It got me this far,” that low, sultry tone entered his

voice again.

“Get up,” he said, pulling Alexander by the hand he still

held. “All right, grasshopper, I’ll teach you some of the

kung-fu. But I gotta go shopping first.”

Alexander looked at him with a puzzled grin, and then

glanced over at Jenny.

“No, not her,” he blushed a pinker shade of pale, if such a

thing was possible for Langly. “Frohike’s been dogging me

for the last two days about the groceries. We’ve only got

ketchup and two slices of bread in the fridge. A big strong

man like you will be a good bag-carrier.”

The tall man pursed his lips and shoved his hands into the

pockets of his long coat. “Hmm,” he murmured, displeased

with the errand, but followed his new friend out of the

coffee shop nonetheless.

***

Super-Fresh Grocery Store

11:21 a.m.

Of course, a trip to the grocery store just to get soap

never turned out to be a mission just for the one item.

Scully ended up picking up a new head for the mop, more

paper towels, some low-fat yogurt ice-cream bars —

chocolate covered, and oh yeah, the Murphy’s Oil soap.

The store was chilly, as usual, and her sockless feet in

running shoes, damp from the rain outside, were quickly

becoming numb. Her steps squeaked down the shiny linoleum

floor and the metal handle of the shopping basket dug into

her hand from the weight of the extra items. And as if she

didn’t have enough to carry already, she stopped by the

refrigerated unit at the head of the produce aisle and

admired the cut flowers.

“These would be nice in my newly cleaned apartment,” she

mused.

She bent down to smell a bunch of multi-colored carnations,

when she heard a familiar voice behind her.

“No, we have to get the green leaf lettuce, not the iceberg.

Byers is always particular about that. Don’t worry, if he

gets that, then I’m getting the Cocoa-Crispies.”

She stood up straight and turned at the voice. There,

weighing a head of lettuce was Langly. It was funny, she had

been over to the Lone Gunmen’s apartment so many times, yet

she’d never actually pictured them doing any… chores… or

normal household tasks like everyone else. Langly’s presence

in the grocery store was like Mulder in the Hoover building

cafeteria; it wasn’t unheard of, but somehow, it just wasn’t

expected.

He was with someone she didn’t know, too — a tall bleach-

blonde haired man, about six feet tall, well built, and

wearing the longest, darkest trench coat she’d ever seen. It

made him look even taller and more overbearing than he

already was. Langly looked like a frail teenager next to

him.

Then, in the process of wrapping up the vegetable in a

plastic bag and turning the cart around, Langly caught

Scully’s eye. He waved to her, a relieved expression on his

face as he glanced down at the crumpled paper held tight in

his fist. His friend followed a few paces behind, seeming

utterly bored, until he noticed her.

For a moment, Scully forgot that she was dressed in the

dregs of her closet, or that her feet were freezing. This

tall man fixed his dark piercing eyes on her, blurring out

all the murmurs of other shoppers, the beeps from the

electronic registers, even the whirring from the

refrigerator behind her. It was as if he weren’t looking at

her, but inside her, seeing her soul, pulling it out so that

he could examine it more closely.

He stopped in front of her, a tall mass of black blocking

her view. She could hear his every breath; feel how it made

the blood in her veins pulse in time with its rhythm. Her

hands began to loosen up in the cold refrigerated air of the

supermarket, regaining feeling with the stronger beating of

her heart, releasing her fingers from the heavy weight of

her basket…

Cla-kunk.

Her plastic shopping basket fell to the floor, spilling its

contents. Scully jumped, and snapped her gaze down at the

scattered items. “Oh, thank God,” she thought, relieved that

the bottle of soap hadn’t burst open from the fall. Then,

“Oh, no…” Her yogurt pops weren’t so lucky. The heavy

bottle of Murphy’s had smashed them.

“Scully, are you okay?” Langly said, bending to help her

gather the groceries.

“Yeah, fine.”

They both rose, but left the full basket on the floor so

that she could make it through an introduction of this new

person. She looked at Langly, then at the tall man, then

back again. Langly picked up on her hint.

“Dana Scully, this is my friend Alexander.”

“Hello,” Alexander said in his deep voice.

“Pleased to meet you,” Scully answered, a little breathier

than she had intended. She held her hand out for a

handshake, and stiffened a little when she realized his hand

was even colder than hers. Yet, she smiled politely, trying

hard not to stare at him too intently as Langly rattled off

what a pain it was to be doing the shopping.

“… like a freakin’ mother hen lately. Frohike just won’t

let up on me. Hey, Scully, do you know where they keep the

aluminum foil in this place?”

“Uh, aluminum, foil…?” She hesitated, because she really

wasn’t listening to him at first. Then she compiled her

thoughts in order to give him an accurate answer. “Yeah,

it’s on the bottom shelf in the meat aisle at the back of

the store.”

“Hey, thanks,” he said, pinching his eyebrows together

before he walked on. “See you later, Scully.”

“Yeah, later,” she said at length. Alexander gave her a

half-bow and a smirk on his lips, and then followed his

friend. She almost smiled back — almost — finally a little

uneasy at the way he stared at her.

She turned again to pick out a bunch of flowers from the

refrigerator unit. She found a nice arrangement with pink,

yellow and white flowers, and fished them out of a bucket in

the back row. On the back wall of the refrigerator, there

was a mirror. In the reflection, she could see Langly

pushing his cart back through the produce aisle to get to

the rear of the store. It was still strange, she thought, to

see him doing the chore. And that friend of his…

Wait a minute.

She looked at the mirror again, and saw Langly stop to pick

up some bananas, clear as day, but there was no sign of his

black trench-coated friend. Considering his size, he’d be

pretty hard to miss.

She whirled around to see where he’d gotten off to, and saw

him there, standing with Langly, placing a pair of black

sunglasses onto the bridge of his nose.

“Trick of the eye,” she thought to herself. “My shoulder

must have been in the way.”

She bent down again to pick up her basket from the floor,

trying not to drip the wet ends of the bouquet too much all

over the polished floor. As she walked away toward checkout,

Langly also turned the corner from the produce aisle.

Alexander followed him, though his reflection in the

refrigerator was suspiciously absent.

***

Act 3

Basement Office, Hoover Building

Monday morning, 8:37 a.m.

The elevator sounded a “ding” as it reached the basement,

and the doors shifted open. They moved slowly this morning,

sluggishly ambling to the side, just like she was feeling.

She counted her steps toward the office. As she got closer,

she smelled coffee. Five, four, three… Turning the corner

into the office, she saw Mulder bent over his desk, folders

spread across the surface. Two, one…

“So, here’s the thing, Scully. I’m onto a hunch here, and I

want you to take a look at these files. I’m sure you’ll see

the similarities right away.”

And, the weekend was over.

Scully sighed and sat down in front of the desk, her gaze

moving slowly over each unopened file folder. Mulder had

taken one, spread it wide open and was writing some notes

onto a yellow legal pad. He tore the page off and stuck it

into the folder.

Scully watched him lean back in his chair, head tilted back,

thinking about whatever he’d just written. He cocked his

head toward her and looked at her curiously.

Pointing the eraser end of his pencil, he directed toward an

untouched cup of coffee. “That one’s yours.”

“Thanks,” she accepted, and took a careful sip. She had to

say one thing, Mulder did know the way she liked her coffee.

It helped to come back to a familiarity like this. Her time

alone was slowly becoming a nice memory to savor, and the

present, with Mulder, was beginning to unfold again into

it’s normal routine.

Mulder waited until she put the cup down, an unspoken signal

that she was ready to listen. Then he launched it on her.

“I noticed a pattern in several murder cases that had

recently come up in the last few months. All seemed to be

closed and solved, but there was something unusual about

them. Something that made me think there was something else

to them.”

“Something the untrained spooky-eye couldn’t pick up?”

Mulder smirked at that. He leaned over the desk, palms flat

on an exposed section. “You’re cute when you’re sarcastic.”

“Thank you,” she replied matter of factly.

He stood up again, and continued to pace around the desk,

keeping his eye on her as he moved. “All these murders were

committed by different men, as you’ll see from the many

files I’ve pulled. The funny thing is, all these guys

decided to die a week, sometimes even days after they killed

their final victim.”

Scully picked up one of the folders and studied the mug shot

and autopsy photos of one of the killers. Nothing unusual

there. “They mentally couldn’t handle the guilt?” She threw

it out as a theory, knowing Mulder had more to tell her.

“I don’t think it was suicide,” he stopped pacing a moment

and regarded her, as if seeing her expression helped him to

think better himself. “There’s another funny thing here,

Scully. All the victims *and* their murderers were all dried

up.”

“Dried up?”

“Of blood.”

“Vampires? Again, Mulder?”

“Not so fast, Scully. These are different. I don’t really

think they’re true vampires. More probably, they’re part of

some cult. Like a copycat murder club. They’ll keep the

chain going so they can leave their mark.”

Scully considered this. She wondered why violent crimes

hadn’t already picked up on something like this. A cult

wasn’t too farfetched a cause for murder or suicide, no

matter what Mulder thought. Perhaps they simply gave it to

him because it had “spooky” written all over it.

“Mulder, how could this have gone unnoticed? I mean, such

similar deaths… in the last few months, you said?”

Her partner shifted uncomfortably, playing with his pencil

and pacing in shorter steps, until he came to a stop next to

her. “Well, I’ve *noticed* the similarities in the past few

months. The actual murders occurred several years apart, the

most recent of which happened a few months ago.”

“Ah.” Bingo. She knew there was a catch. So this was what

Mulder did when he was bored, or just didn’t feel like

cleaning.

Mulder stopped fidgeting and watched her take another swig

of coffee. “How was your weekend, by the way?”

“Not long enough,” she said between sleepy mouthfuls. The

coffee was helping, but she couldn’t quite get her brain to

work fast enough in a few minutes for something Mulder had

been stewing over all weekend.

He stuck the pencil behind one ear, and moved around to the

back of her chair.

At first, they were brushes against her shoulders, barely

felt through her suit jacket and blouse. Slowly, Mulder’s

hands began to knead at her upper back. His strong fingers

worked into the tight areas right between her shoulder blade

and spine. She nearly purred with the pleasure of it.

“I missed you,” he whispered. His hot breath stirred the

neatly brushed copper strands near her ear.

Scully sighed, and breathed out her reply, “I missed you,

too.”

She could feel herself sinking deep into a hypnotic state

with every revolution of his thumbs. The massage was getting

a little intense for office hours. She cleared her throat,

and he slowed the kneading to a soft rubbing on her

shoulders again. Then she felt him part her hair at the nape

of her neck and press his lips gently to her skin. He wiped

away the moisture left behind with his thumb, lingering it

over that spot she was forced to think of every time they

had a case involving alien abductions.

He leaned down on the back of her chair, his knuckles just

touching her back. “So what do you think?”

She put down her cup, and opened a few more folders. Some

were from the early forties, others as recent as 1999, and

of course, the one that happened last fall. Mulder quietly

made his way back around the desk and pretended not to watch

her. He tapped his keyboard randomly, the way he did when he

was browsing the Internet. No doubt he’d found something on

the web related to this vague chain of murders.

As she browsed through the autopsy reports and photos, she

noticed something strange. The reports were just as Mulder

had explained, but the photos… she couldn’t quite place

what it was about them. She pulled all the prints from the

paperclips holding them in their respective folders. Then

she laid them out side by side on the edge of the desk.

“What is it?” Mulder asked, rotating in his chair.

“I don’t know, Mulder. It’s…” she sucked on the end of her

fingernail, studying each face of the dead murderers. An

excitement began to tighten her chest. She knew she was

seeing something in the photos, and she wanted to tell him,

but she was damned if she could figure out what it was.

“It’s almost like… I recognize them.” She looked up at her

partner, his eyebrows knitted and his bottom lip had

disappeared in between his teeth.

She felt a creeping guilt begin to crawl through her

stomach. She felt like she was cheating him out of

information, yet she didn’t even know herself where it was

coming from. The familiarity of those faces was like a dream

she hadn’t quite forgotten.

“What do you mean?” he prodded gently.

Scully inhaled a deep breath, trying to clear her mind. It

didn’t work. They all still had a commonality she just

couldn’t piece together. “I don’t know. But, I think you’ve

got yourself a case here, Mulder. I, at least, want to get

to the bottom of this now.”

Mulder nodded, his patience proving to be a kinder

persuasion this morning. She was thankful for it. Scully

scooped up the photos and tucked them back into their

folders.

***

8:28 p.m.

The smell of sweet wax filled his nostrils as he lit the

last candle. It was good to be in the dim light, the cool

basement. He moved about the room slowly, watching the

shadows dance across the walls. The flickering from many

flames scattered them in all directions, and it looked like

a ghostly waltz surrounding him.

His trench coat lay sprawled across the bed like a limp

body. The maroon velvet comforter was just the color it

might be if that body had bled to death, soaking it like a

dye.

He picked it up and brought it to the large closet near the

bathroom. The candlelight jumped through the narrow opening

when he opened the door. He moved some full hangers over to

hang up the heavy coat. As he did so, he glimpsed the long

mahogany box that lay on the floor behind. It reached deep

into the large closet, all the way to the back wall. A large

closet was good to have in a studio apartment; storage was a

high commodity. This one was meant to be a walk-in.

Alexander needed it for other reasons.

As he arranged his clothes on the rod again to hide the

coffin, he tried not to think of his sickly wrinkled body

laying there in the sleep of the damned. The muscles of his

current body were fresh and strong, yet useless without his

true vessel nearby. He closed the closet.

The sound of his own sleeping breath was imaginary, but he

always seemed to hear it. It haunted him with every move he

made. Alexander flipped on his computer and sat on the edge

of his bed, waiting for his new friend, hoping he could use

him to find a better, bigger place — a large mansion with

separate wings, so he could be far enough away from *it*,

where he didn’t have to be reminded of that body, that link

to this accursed afterlife.

***

Alexander’s basement studio

Somewhere in Virginia

9:05 p.m.

The room was dark. Candles were set strategically around

Alexander’s studio apartment so that no electric lights were

needed to get around the place — not that there weren’t

any. If Langly hadn’t known better, he would have thought

Alex wanted more from him than a lesson in hacking.

“So, what you have to do is learn the algorithms. Then break

it down and figure out what kind of system a particular

system would typically be run on. How are you at math?”

“I knew a mathematician once,” Alexander said airily from

his bed, leaning back onto his elbows. “I learned a lot from

him. But what I learned must be obsolete by now.”

“Well, the basics are the basics. How long ago was it?”

Alex’s right eye squinted, and he moved his jaw around as if

he were sucking on a jawbreaker. He was, in fact trying to

figure out when he’d been inside that man’s body last. Was

it 1852? “It doesn’t matter, I’m sure I’ll pick up on it in

time.”

He sat up and felt around the bed for his sunglasses. When

he found them, he went to sit over by Langly at the computer

and put them on. His friend curled his lip and adjusted his

own glasses.

“You really take this vampire thing seriously, don’t you?”

Alexander let out a dark chuckle. “‘The eyes are the window

to the soul.’ And my soul… wants… to be a vampire.”

He paused to see how Langly would react. Sarcastic deadpan.

But Langly kept an undercurrent of humor, and he soon

explained. “Actually, it’s a matter of my handicap enhancing

the experience. The glare from the computer screen bothers

my eyes. It’s the same with fluorescent lights.”

Alexander’s eyes may have been shielded by tinted plastic,

but Langly could feel the man studying him.

“You know,” Alex hinted, “I could do the same for you. I

mean, enhance the experience of the game for you.”

Langly clamped his mouth shut and began typing random server

locations into the computer’s favorites menu; servers a

beginner wouldn’t be able to mess up — too much.

“Hey, man,” he said stiffly, “I don’t do drugs, if that’s

what you’re saying. No way you’re getting me to kill any of

these beautiful baby brain cells of mine.”

“No, no it’s not like that at all,” he replied, covering the

hand Langly had on the mouse.

Langly pulled away, and stood up. “Look, you’re getting a

little too touchy-feely for my liking. And you’re starting

to creep me out in more ways than one.”

“You want to get creeped out?” Alex asked with a toothy

grin.

The smaller man was speechless. It was the second time in a

matter of three days, a new record for Langly. He always had

a good comeback. Not with this guy.

“What?” he squeaked out incredulously.

“I’ve got this new storyline for the game next week. You

wanna try it out before I get it approved by the Story

Teller?”

This was amazing. The man had a gift for glazing over his

own creepy faux-pas. Yet, Langly wanted to know. If there

was one thing he enjoyed in his free time, it was escaping

into a little fantasy role-playing. And he did like the way

Alex played, though he’d never admit it after being beaten

so badly. Besides, a little weirdness in personality could

go a long way as a Story Teller.

Langly fidgeted in his jeans pockets, searching for

something to occupy his hands with. He thought about the

offer. Then thought about what else he had to do that

evening. Nothing.

“All right, what the hell.” He threw his hands up loosely in

surrender.

“Good.” Alexander smiled, lifted the velvet bedspread and

reached beneath the bed frame. He pulled out his books and a

few loose sheets of notebook paper, where he’d written down

an outline of his storyline. “Grab a chair. I’ll take the

bed.”

Thank goodness for small considerations of personal space,

Langly thought. At least he hadn’t invited him to *join* him

on the bed.

Alex took off his sunglasses, and arranged the papers out in

front of him on the maroon velvet. He closed his eyes and

touched his fingertips together, pausing in a moment of

thought.

“All right. I’ll begin by setting the scene.”

Langly sat back in his chair and folded his arms. It was

silent for a long moment, and he almost started to get

impatient. Yet, he waited. Something inside him was still

curious. The game was too interesting to give up, and so, he

remained still in his chair until Alex began.

“You’re in a night club. It’s dark. The lights are flashing

everywhere, the music is booming from the ten-foot

amplifiers, and there are gorgeous women everywhere. Some of

them are your kind, a vampire, and some of them are human.

You can tell the difference easily, though…”

Langly imagined a large room. He imagined his character,

dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, much like his normal every

day outfits. None of the beautiful women Alexander was

describing gave him a second glance.

In a moment that passed by unnoticed, there was a shift in

reality, like going from being awake to sleep. His

surroundings became sharply realistic, and it seemed that

Langly really was walking through the space. The music was

so loud it sent vibrations through his skin. He imagined

himself becoming engulfed in the crowd, sifting through

narrow paths between the people, trying to make his way

toward one end of the room…

“You arrive at the other end of the room, to the bar.

There’s another vampire there, and he offers you a drink…”

Langly’s eyelids were feeling heavy with the thought of this

scenario. Yes, there was the other vampire. He was tall and

sat with his elbows on the edge of the bar. He was drinking

what looked like…

“…a red beer,” Alexander’s voice said. “You know better

what it is. He introduces himself. ‘Good evening. Name’s

Bishop Canterbury.'”

“Oh, that’s Alex’s character,” Langly thought. He reached

out to shake his hand, unconscious to the fact that he

really *was* reaching out to shake Alexander’s hand. When he

felt the contact, the cold skin of his friend, he snapped

his eyes open.

At the same instance, Alexander did the same. He stared hard

into Langly’s eyes with light blue, nearly white, irises and

black tiny pupils. At the edge of his consciousness, Langly

mused at how strange it was to have tiny pupils in the dim

lighting. And didn’t Alex have brown eyes?

clip_image005

“Those that accept my brew must contribute to it. Would you

desire that power, to join me, to become part of my clan, so

that you may taste of this brew?”

“What… would it gain me, oh… Bishop Canterbury…”

Langly fought to keep his words coherent.

“‘To be part of a clan with the great political standing and

power we hold in our vampire realm, it would be an advantage

to you. Will you become a part of us?’

“As he’s speaking to you, you notice a stray dog pacing the

length of the bar. He’s old and ragged, yet his eyes glow

red. He’s watching you, appraising you.”

The images engulfed him further, possessed him. He could

feel the pressure of being cornered. Surrounded by a Bishop

and a feral dog was not a nice place to be thrown into. He

felt the strain of a decision to join with a strong clan,

but felt threatened by this other creature. He could

actually see the dog’s red glowing eyes and the strobe

lights catching only glimpses of the dog’s movements.

He began to panic. Langly’s strategy for the game wanted to

kick in, pose his character’s skills against Alex’s. He

needed to defend himself, prove himself worthy. But he was

finding it hard to voice his commands. He felt his lips move

into words he did not want to say, and all of a sudden, he

was saying, “Yes.”

A myriad of images filled his vision. At one moment, it was

Alex, still staring at him with those crazy blue-white eyes.

At another, it was the blur of dark mottled fur, growling,

and teeth lunging for him. Alex had not even continued with

his scenario. Langly did not hear his voice anymore. The

story was progressing all on its own. He was paralyzed by

fear and fascination.

Suddenly, he felt a deep pinch on the inside of his right

arm, close to his wrist. He felt Alexander’s iron grip on

his hand, then a release of tension after the shock of pain.

It was like the pain was being drawn out of his arm, flowing

out… being sucked out. Fuzzily, he realized that this is

what Bishop Canterbury meant by contributing to the brew.

His blood was being taken from him.

The Bishop’s lips smeared red with it, and there was nothing

he could do. After all, he had agreed to it. Now he would be

part of his clan. The visions of hypnotism faded as his

lifeblood was sucked out. Langly dozed sitting up, and

temporarily faced a dream of blank grayness — left in a

void as his friend stopped the story.

Alexander wiped the sleeve of his black shirt over his lips

and cleaned away the blood before Langly could wake up

again.

He looked at Langly, sitting in the chair, mouth hung open,

still caught in the trance Alex had expertly coaxed him

into. He began the story again and slowly, Langly imagined

himself bleeding all over the bar in the nightclub, the

feral dog lapping it up off the floor like a puddle of

water.

Alexander slid his tongue over his canines, sucking up the

last bit of Langly’s blood. Then he squeezed his eyes shut,

weary from his chore, but satisfied he’d accomplished the

first step to his plan.

Laboriously, he continued his story, “You are weak from the

exchange, and are leaning on the edge of the bar. The Bishop

tips the glass above your head, and trickles some of the red

beer into your mouth…”

Alex then bit down hard into his own wrist. The warm red,

almost black fluid dripped from the punctures in his skin

and into Langly’s mouth. He smiled as the drops disappeared

onto his friend’s tongue. As the third drop fell, he quickly

pulled his arm away. Too much vampire blood would change

Langly over to the other side too quickly. He didn’t want to

do that… just yet. The decision had to be Langly’s. Alex

wanted him for other reasons.

He opened the drawer from the bedside table, pulled out a

roll of gauze and wrapped Langly’s arm. When that was

finished, he bound his own. When he brought Langly out, he’d

suggest that he was bitten by his pet dog.

As he spoke the mesmerizing words into his friend’s mind,

Alex began to see more of what he’d created. As Langly sat

motionless, envisioning the scene within his hypnotic state,

Alex was able to envision it with him. As mists part when

the sun rises and burns away their obscurity, so he could

see what Langly was seeing, and was pleased. What he’d

planned had taken exactly as he’d wanted it to. His

thoughts, his desires, implanted themselves into Langly’s

seamlessly, although his friend did not know it yet.

“‘You are almost a part of our clan, now.'” Alexander said

as the Bishop, “‘You will still not be accepted fully until

you have proven yourself in battle. Please, take part in our

entertainment tonight.’ He invites you toward the dance

floor. What will you do?”

Langly’s head lolled to one side, slowly coming back to an

upright position. He squinted his eyes, and yawned, trying

to regain some oxygen. He was feeling so weak, like he’d

just woken up.

“I uh… partake in the entertainment? I’d rather watch.”

Langly was coming back to reality one layer at a time.

“The Bishop can see you have insecurities over this type of

interaction. As a member of this clan, you must learn to be

a little more dashing, good to the ladies both of our kind

and not. How else will you be able to feed with us?”

Finally, the dreamy clouds of Alex’s hypnosis dissipated. He

blinked, and looked up at his friend. His eyes were back to

a bottomless dark brown again. Langly sat up straight and

thought about his initial move. “Can you offer me a spell to

help me along with that? I based my character a lot on

myself. But this clan sounds a little high-class for me.”

“You can’t back out now,” Alexander replied in his deep

resonant voice.

“No, I want to get experience, Bishop. What can I do to make

myself better?”

“Okay, I think that’s enough preview, don’t you Langly?”

Alexander said, offering his friend a way out of the

scenario. Besides, he was feeling quite tired now.

Langly jerked at the sudden switch back to reality. “Oh,

yeah. Well, great story, Alex. The guys are gonna flip over

it at the next game.” He laughed uneasily. “I guess I got a

little carried away there.”

“Thank you. Although, this isn’t the first time I’ve done

this. I have been playing a little longer than you, you

know.” Hundreds of years longer, Alex commented silently to

himself, a little ironically.

Langly got up and glanced at his digital watch: 11:30 p.m.

“Whoa, lost track of time. Do you uh, want anymore help with

the computer tonight?”

“No, I’ve had my fill.”

“Well, see you later then, man. If I don’t leave now, I’m

gonna crash on your floor.” He yawned and waved a lazy

goodbye. Closing his friend’s front door behind him, and

walked out into the cool darkness of night.

***

The next afternoon

2:35 p.m.

“You know, Mulder, I really hate having to park so far away

from the guys’ place.”

“If we didn’t, someone would recognize the car eventually.

They like their secrecy, Scully.”

“You don’t have to remind me.”

Scully stomped her new chunky high-heels as she walked,

clicking them hard in rebellion. Then her sensitive toe

began to prick a little. It was always the first to complain

when she was breaking in new footwear. Mulder glanced down

at her from time to time, an amused, childlike excitement

puckering his cheeks.

“What?” Scully asked flatly.

“I still can’t believe you want to devote so much effort to

this case, even without Skinner’s approval.

They had presented the files to their superior, without so

much as a grunt in response. Skinner hadn’t approved it, but

he hadn’t exactly disregarded it either. Scully inhaled and

tucked her chin into her chest as they crossed the street.

“Well, in some ways, it’s simply fascinating…”

“Do tell, Spock.”

She jabbed him with her elbow for that one. Mulder rubbed

the spot and mouthed a silent “ow.”

“On the other, I feel a personal connection with it somehow.

It’s almost like I was meant to discover something here.

It’s just beneath the surface, and I only have to be able to

find the right hook to pull it out.”

“Spooky.”

“Yeah,” she sighed. Hesitantly, she continued, “You must

know what I mean, Mulder. I mean…”

Mulder stopped in mid-stride and touched his partner’s

shoulder to halt her. “Think of it as your intuition

speaking to you. Don’t fight it. Don’t be afraid of it.”

“But I am,” she stared up at him, trying to think of how to

explain that she had felt this way all weekend.

He took her hand reassuringly tight in his grip, keeping his

questions to himself, and they continued down the sidewalk.

She had always felt some niggle of psychic ability that she

never admitted to anyone, even herself. But this was not it.

When she was out to dinner with Mel on Saturday, it first

began to prod at her. In the restaurant, she kept thinking

someone was watching her. But every time she turned to look

around, all the patrons were involved in their own

conversations.

Even stranger was when she was at her mother’s house. She

kept expecting someone to call, or to show up at the front

door. Bill had eventually picked up on her strange behavior.

After several minutes of her nephew hitting her knee with a

squeaky plastic hammer, with no reaction from his Aunt Dana,

Bill demanded to know what she was so distracted by. Scully

begged off that her mind had just wandered and forced

herself to pay closer attention to the family she rarely saw

anymore.

She didn’t want to tell Mulder that what she was

experiencing felt, in all its strangeness, like a high-

school crush. The fluttering of her heart each time the

phone rang, the quick glances every time she heard a man

with a deep voice. It was nothing like the endless longing

she had for Mulder, but she feared he wouldn’t understand.

He’d been hurt by loved ones too often. And she had so

recently been able to open up her feelings to him. It hurt

her to keep things to herself. She wanted so badly to spill

it all out, but her Scully instinct chickened out. Better

that he didn’t know.

Her mind flipped back to the case. She had the strangest

premonition that she knew all the murderers. How could she?

Mulder was sure to have dug the files up from the dustiest

archives in the entire Hoover building. But she’d seen a

sign, a vague trait in all of those mug shots — she still

could not pinpoint exactly what it was — that reminded her

of *him;* Langly’s friend, Alexander, who seemed to haunt

her thoughts ever since she met him that cold, rainy morning

in the supermarket. Seeing all those pictures just forced it

all into the foreground. This was no ordinary passing fancy.

It intrigued her. It scared her.

They walked the last few blocks in silence, holding hands

until they reached the front door to the Lone Gunmen’s

apartment. Scully appreciated the consideration Mulder had

for her. Although she knew he was holding back a million

questions, he did not press the issue. He simply expressed

his support with the gentle squeezing of his hand.

***

“Start your search in the suburbs of major cities, like

D.C., New York, Chicago, Detroit.”

“You got it, G-man.”

It was always fascinating to watch the two of them work

together, Scully thought, as the bluish glow of the computer

lit up Mulder’s and Frohike’s faces. She could just see from

the bridge of their noses and up, their eyes the most active

portions of their faces. Bright blue reflections flicked

back and forth in their eye sockets, skimming the lists of

names on the screen. A simple “yes” or “no” had Frohike’s

fingers flying over the keys.

She listened carefully when Mulder found a name that might

give them a lead. Normally, she wouldn’t hover so near to

them during database research, but she wanted to know as

much as possible, as quickly as possible, to be rid of this

case. She had this inexplicable hunch that this Alexander

was involved. She hated it when she couldn’t explain

herself. But if he was responsible for Mulder’s cult theory,

it was her responsibility to stop him. Alexander certainly

had the gift of persuasion behind him, their first meeting

at the grocery store had proven that to her. If it was

indeed a cult following, he could definitely be the one to

lead it.

Frohike printed several sheets as they went along, and she

picked them out of the printer tray. While the boys did the

dirty work, she skimmed through them. She was deep into the

third set of family survivors when Mulder lifted his head.

She could see his mouth and chin now, under lit with the

eerie blue glow.

“Do you see it, Scully?”

“Well, they all had pretty unremarkable relatives. And none

of them really lived that close to their families. I’d say

these guys were loners and didn’t ask much of life. Only

thing is…”

“They didn’t end that way,” he finished for her.

“No, they didn’t,” she agreed. “In the last one or two

years, sometimes even months, they became much more

successful.”

“One-hit-wonders, eh?”

She put the pages down and met her partner’s eyes. She could

see his line of thinking was identical to her own:

yesterday’s research, tracking down all the miniscule

details of the murderers’ profiles. It had lasted late into

the night, and Mulder ended up sleeping on her couch

blanketed in papers instead of in her bed. These guys were

all nobodies, a wish away from the emerging wealth they

gained too quickly toward the end.

“I don’t get it, Mulder. What, did they sell their souls to

the devil?”

“More like the devil just took their souls from them,” he

said hollowly, and bent down over the computer with Frohike

again.

There was a staccato knock at the door.

“Two and six!” Frohike bellowed in the direction of the

door. Then softly, he mumbled, “Ass-wipe.”

The two agents shared confused glances. The sound of

jangling keys tinkled from the other side of the heavy door,

and then two of the locks snapped open, clicking loudly

among the subtle whirr of computer equipment.

When the door swung open, Langly sauntered in, and smiled at

all in the room. He flipped several of the locks back into

place, and then hopped over to his computer. It was amusing

to see Langly in such a cheerful mood. But even more

surprising was why he was in it.

“He ditched me at the computer show this morning for a

couple of babes pricing out monitors,” Frohike grumbled low

enough so that only the two agents could hear. Scully craned

her neck, trying to get a better view of Langly, searching

for a change that might possibly have attracted not one, but

two women.

“Aw, come on, Frohike,” Mulder prodded, “What are you afraid

of, a little competition?”

“I wasted precious bargaining time looking for that blonde

bozo. Then I see him flirting with those two…” he clenched

his fists, clearly holding back violent punches to his

keyboard. “It served him right to find his own way home.”

“You left him there?”

“It doesn’t look like it bothered him too much, does it?”

The short man said with venom, as he continued to scroll

through files.

Another knock came at the door. Frohike huffed and shot an

awfully sharp glare toward Langly as he went over to see

whom it was. No more than a quick peek at the surveillance

monitor had him opening random locks, and then Byers walked

in.

“The gang’s all here!” Langly called out from his end of the

room, leaning dangerously back on two legs of his chair.

“What’s with him?” Byers asked the rest of them. “He made

the trip back, uh… interesting.”

“Ah, shit,” Frohike cursed. From the scrunching of his face,

it seemed he had really hoped to give the youngest member of

their little group a hard time for ditching him. And Byers

had put a big wrinkle into his plans by picking Langly up

and giving him a ride home.

Byers opened his mouth halfway, and then clamped it shut as

he saw that there was obviously a conflict going on between

his other two roommates. He puffed up his chest, cleared his

throat, then noticed the two agents taking in the little

drama he’d unknowingly contributed to.

“Hi Mulder. Hi Scully. I’ll, uh, be in the back,” he said

politely, then carefully stepped past a fuming Frohike and

disappeared into the maze of shelving.

Mulder stood and fixed his gaze upon Scully, lifting one

eyebrow hesitantly, a silent question of, ‘should we get out

of here?’

Scully tapped the edge of her stack of papers on the table

to straighten them into a neat pile. She shook her head ever

so slightly, trying to hide the unspoken conversation from

their friends. She tipped the stack of pages toward herself,

and looked pointedly over at Langly. With her pen, she

pointed at Mulder, then at Frohike. Mulder nodded as he

looked down, cleverly hiding his acknowledgement.

When Frohike returned to his research, Mulder sat with him,

trying to resume their previous intensity without effort.

Satisfied the boys were occupied enough, Scully carefully

navigated her way over to Langly, in the hopes of

discovering the cause of his strange behavior.

Langly flipped on one of three monitors surrounding his

keyboard. He drummed his fingers on the desktop absently,

and puckered his cheeks in a smirk. He was far away

somewhere — perhaps back at the show — reliving a pleasant

moment. “God,” Scully thought to herself, a little

disturbed. He had one of those big cheesy ‘I just got laid’

smirks on his face.

Then he swiveled in his chair and turned on her. She stopped

dead in her tracks, heart skipping a beat at the suddenness.

“Langly–” she leaned an elbow on his desk, feigning

casualness. She hoped it was working. “How was the show this

morning?”

“Incredible,” he said airily. Damn, he really did look like

he’d just gotten laid.

Clearing some nonexistent phlegm from her throat, she

continued, “What’s up with Frohike?”

He swiveled dramatically back toward the computer screen,

causing the squeak in his chair to make a loud angry noise

that made everyone’s skin spring up with goose-pimples. “You

tell me. Tell him to lay off and give me some breathing

room, will ya?”

“But, you three have always been a team. I’m sure he’s only

looking out for your–”

“Oh, please! He’s just jealous I’ve got a new group of

friends to hang out with.”

She was surprised at that statement. Langly rarely, if ever,

thought of climbing the social ladder. From the years she

and Mulder had known him, he’d been content to spend his

days glued to the computer. Digging up obscure facts on

strange phenomenon and testing the limits of secure archives

were a passion of his. Mulder had always been able to count

on him for it, and Langly along with the others, was ready

at their beckoned call. A social life would have interfered

too much with that.

“What makes these friends so special you’re willing to give

up the only family you’ve got?”

“They’re not my family.”

“They’re not blood, but they care for you enough. Whether

you see it or not, it’s what they are.”

He took off his black-rimmed glasses and turned toward her

again. She could see his eyelids squinting with the struggle

to focus on her without them. The pitying expression she

must have had on her face made him think better of the

decision, and replaced the lenses onto the bridge of his

nose. Then, he fixed a sterile, unguarded gaze at her. His

eyes followed the line of her arm, the subtle curve that

lined her hip beneath the tailored suit jacket, all the way

down to her feet. Her sensitive toe throbbed at the new

attention to her shoes.

“You’re right. I need family. But I’d rather start my own,”

he said low enough that the men on the other side of the

room could not possibly hear.

Shocked and appalled, Scully was about to slap him clear

across the face for such a comment. As she reared back and

prepared for the blow, she noticed him slumping forward.

Quickly, she switched gears from attack to rescue, and

pushed him back up into the chair. Holding his forearm for

support, she waited while Langly took some deep breaths and

regained his composure.

When she was confident he would be all right on his own, she

released the arm, but not before she realized that beneath

her fingers, instead of the bare skin, she felt a soft patch

of gauze — and it was damp. Suddenly, Scully became aware

that Langly was actually bleeding in her grip. “When did

this happen?” she scolded him. Immediately, she began to

unwrap the wound.

“Last night. Friend’s dog,” Langly answered without concern.

Sure enough, beneath the red-splotched gauze were two

puncture wounds near his wrist. But the holes in Langly’s

delicate white skin had already begun to heal as if they

were a few days old. The scabs opening up again caused the

fresh bleeding.

“Are you sure? This was only last night?”

Langly nodded. Scully bent over his arm and examined it

closer, turning it in the light. It couldn’t be. It was just

impossible to heal so quickly. She dabbed at it with a clean

part of the gauze, then stepped back.

“Well, we need to clean and dress it again either way. You

don’t want it to–”

Langly lifted the arm and licked at the fresh blood.

“– get infected! Langly, stop that!” She grabbed his arm

and led him straight to the bathroom. She ran warm water and

soap over the arm, ignoring the hissing from her friend. She

was intent on her ministrations; consumed by her doctoring

that she didn’t notice how close Langly was standing to her.

When she turned the water off, she froze. He was breathing

deeply, not from pain, not from exhaustion. He was

*smelling* her hair!

She jerked back, hands dripping with water. The corners of

his mouth drew up in an awful leering grin. This time, she

didn’t hold back. Water droplets painted the walls of the

bathroom as the back of Scully’s hand made a cracking sound

against Langly’s cheek.

His arm still laid wet and dripping pink rivulets of water

as Scully stomped out of the bathroom.

“Hmm,” Langly intoned in a gravelly voice that wasn’t quite

his own, “I love the spunky ones.”

*****

Alexander’s Basement Studio

Same time

Back in the basement studio, Alexander sat cross-legged on

his velvet bedspread. Yes, this Scully was definitely a

fireball. That red hair was no lie.

He’d seen the whole exchange. He’d even gained some kind of

control over Langly’s movements, insinuating thoughts into

his subconscious. But he had to be more careful. His blood

was it’s most potent now, fresh in Langly’s bloodstream. If

he were going to have Langly do some dirty work for him, it

would have to be soon. And he couldn’t let his centuries old

longing to be with a woman get in the way, just now —

especially with this one. She was a clever girl. He’d have

to be careful. He had a strange sense that she would be able

to unravel everything at the slightest hint.

He made a motion toward his arm as if he were brushing off

some water with a towel. Then encircled his wrist with an

invisible piece of fresh gauze. Langly had finished treating

his wound.

He knew of Langly’s fear of the opposite sex, but he had to

use him in order to get Scully off his scent. She already

knew her friend was acting strangely, but she’d never expect

something as strange as him making a pass at her — much

less try and seduce her.

Yes, that was it. And she’d make a nice meal out of it too.

Langly was going to lead her to him.

Alex shook his head free of the mental connection with

Langly and put on his sunglasses. One thing was for sure; he

had to find out how to make Langly more receptive to a

strong-willed woman like Scully. And he knew just the place

to get some input on the attractions of Langly.

*****

Act 4

Starbuck’s Coffee Shop

10:20 p.m.

Frohike tried to make sense of the day’s events as he stood

in line at the coffee shop counter. Being in the

neighborhood had somehow perked up his taste buds.

Mulder, being his usual self, was hot on a trail and

insisted on running back to the office to pick something up

before returning to Scully’s apartment for the evening.

After the long day of research at the library, Frohike had

offered to drive Scully home, so that she wouldn’t have to

suffer a trip back and forth.

What a fiasco. Library equipment was not his ideal choice of

tool, but it did have access to hundreds of databases, and

they had made some good headway. Staying at the home base

wasn’t going to work after today’s… whatever it was.

Scully had exited the bathroom in such a huff and demanded

to continue the research somewhere else. No explanation

further than that she had confirmed his opinion about his

roommate: Langly was being a major asshole.

And what news was this to him? Ever since he’d started

playing those Vampire role-playing games, he’d picked up an

incorrigible ego. Langly had always liked the sunshine blown

up his bony ass. He must be good at this game, because the

ego was growing into a conceited attitude — even worse than

usual.

The darts in Scully’s eyes as he dropped her off, even after

making the special drive out to console her, told him a lot.

Langly was changing, and he didn’t like it. Not one bit. And

if he was rubbing Scully the wrong way, something had to be

done. Nobody was going to mess with his — er, Mulder’s

woman.

As he stepped up to the counter, Jenny greeted him, a

regular server at the coffee shop they all had become

familiar with over the years.

“Hi, Frohike. What can I get my favorite customer today?”

the young face beamed at him.

“Black.”

“Whoa. Not your regular cream and sugar?”

“I need a buzz, Jen. It’s been a long day.”

“Is it Langly?”

His head snapped up to look at her. “What?”

“That two-timer. I’ve been working him gently ever since the

day he first walked in here. And have I ever gotten a second

glance from that man? No.”

“What are you talking about, Jenny? Does he have a girl?”

Frohike was getting a bitter taste in his mouth, and he

hadn’t even taken a sip of the medium black coffee Jenny had

handed him. First the two at the show, now someone else?

What, did his hormones just start kicking in? Maybe his

nerdiness had broken down and he was trying to make up for

lost time. He grunted and set the cup down to rummage

through his wallet to pay the girl.

“I’m not even sure he’s interested in girls at all, you

know.”

Frohike snorted as he dropped the change into her cupped

palm. “Langly may be running around being an idiot, but I

don’t think he’s gay.”

She slammed the register drawer shut and checked behind

Frohike to make sure there were no more customers. “Well

that ‘friend’ of his came in here today and asked me about

him. Said, could I give him some ideas of what a woman would

find attractive about a guy like Langly? What would I

expect, say if he were to come in here and sweep me off my

feet.”

She blushed and looked away from her customer. Frohike had

known that Langly had liked Jenny for a long time but was

too stupid to make any kind of move. Now he could see that

Jenny felt the same way and was ashamed of it. A nice girl

like her shouldn’t have to feel like second fiddle to a

geeky asshole. Langly needed a talking to. He didn’t care if

he was coming off as a mother hen. It broke his heart to see

a woman used and disappointed.

“Which friend was this, Jenny?”

“Tall guy. Bleach-blonde hair. Dark sunglasses.”

One of Langly’s new Vampire game friends, he knew that much,

but didn’t know his name. The game was proving to be more

and more of a bad influence, if it involved meddling

perverts like this guy.

“I think *he’s* interested in him,” Jenny whispered

conspiratorially. Her eyes glistened with tears held back.

“I feel bad for him, if that’s true, but I’m more worried

he’s asking on behalf of another girl.”

Never in the mood to see a woman cry, Frohike assured her,

“Langly may be an asshole, but I’m sure there isn’t anyone

else he thinks of more than you. Don’t worry. If this guy is

messing with my friend’s head too much, he’ll be taking it

up the ass in more ways than one.”

He patted her hand. “Langly will come back. I just gotta

knock him off his pedestal a little so he can realize what

he’s got right here.”

Ever the romantic, Frohike trotted out of the coffee shop to

go jump onto his white horse. The ancient VW van was a

disappointment in that respect, but his knowledge of

shortcuts through the streets of Virginia carried him faster

than any lightning fast stallion. If Langly were going to

get an education on romance from anyone, he’d have to pass

through the master first.

*****

Lone Gunmen Headquarters

11:18 p.m.

Uck. What filth men of great minds lived in these days. Alex

grimaced as he nudged empty plastic bags that once held junk

food away from Langly’s workspace. His appearance and living

conditions were definitely going to have to improve if he

was to take his body eventually.

Langly flipped through the pages of a rules book, catching

up on the etiquette of Vampires for the upcoming weekend

game. Alex was here to improve his image, supposedly so that

he could fit in better with the rest of his clan at the

game. It would prove useful for more than that reason alone,

soon enough.

“A suit? Man, maybe this clan is a little too elite for me.

Can’t I be the grubby one?”

“No, I’m sorry pal. A suit you must have. And we’re going to

start dressing more for the parts in upcoming games. The

Story Tellers thought it was a good idea when I suggested it

to them after reading my scenario.”

“Isn’t it a bit over the top though? I mean, it’s just a

game.”

“You’ll thank me for it later.”

Langly flipped through some more pages. He guessed it would

be cool to enhance the experience by dressing the part. That

way of “enhancing” was a lot less scary than Alex’s original

methods. He’d had some pretty bad nightmares last night he’d

be happy to not relive any time soon.

Where was he going to get a suit, though? He’d borrow one

off of Byers, but his clothing didn’t seem to be hip enough.

He rarely wore anything other than a suit, but he just had

that librarian look to him. Still, he could grab a hold of

Byers easier than Mulder, although the G-man did have a good

look going for him.

“Your friend Mulder has better taste in clothing, I think.”

“Yeah well, he’s got a lady to dress for.”

Alexander leaned his elbow on the table, his smirk hidden as

he cupped cheek and part of his mouth in one hand. Langly

hadn’t noticed that Alex had answered a question he hadn’t

vocalized. And further than that, Langly had never spoken

openly to him about Mulder.

He could feel a warm glow consume his body with excitement,

like those all too short moments after he’d fed. The hot

blood would run from his victim’s veins and seep through his

belly into his cold dead flesh. It gave him his only taste

of life, though he had to bear the disgusting mode of

nourishment to achieve it.

He shivered slightly as he watched Langly’s pale, although

very much alive, fingers skim over the black and white

printed pages of the rules book. Blue veins stood out on the

backs of his hands, blood returning to the heart to

replenish itself in the natural cycle of life. He fancied

that he could hear the pulsing rush of it moving up Langly’s

arms, through the chest, and up into that large artery at

the side of his neck.

Alex’s stomach began to growl. This was all suddenly making

him hungry. Entimen’s treats were not going to do it for him

this time. He needed his blood, and soon.

The scraping and clicking of locks being opened announced

the arrival of someone returning home. A short man, troll-

like in appearance, entered the room. This was Frohike, he

gathered. He’d never met the man, but knew he was one of

Langly’s closest friends. As much as Langly complained about

his nagging at times, Alex noticed through their mind-link,

that Langly thought of him sometimes as a father figure. And

as cocky as he could be sometimes, Langly always made room

to take note of Frohike’s opinions — though, he’d never

admit it.

It was this man, this height-challenged, greasy-haired troll

that came straight toward Alex with a grimace that would

make even a pit bull look friendlier.

“You. You’re the one who’s started all this.”

Alex made his eyes big and glossy, pouting his lips, playing

it up as if he didn’t have a clue as to what Frohike was

referring to.

“What are you doing to him?” Frohike spat out.

“I’m making him my friend.”

“Yeah? The kind of friend that teaches him to be an asshole?

The kind that scares the crap out of a girl who’s had a

crush on the geek for months now?”

Langly’s head snapped up at this, finally paying attention

to the exchange.

“Langly makes his own decisions.”

“Yeah,” Langly jumped in with determination, “I make my own

decisions.”

“He doesn’t need you anymore,” Alex added.

“I don’t need you to tell me what to do anymore,” Langly

repeated the sentiment.

“Oh come on, man,” Frohike shot back incredulously. “I don’t

know what kind of Jedi mind trick he’s using on you, but

you’ve got to snap out of it.”

Panic ran down Alexander’s spine and he felt his colon

clench. Shit. He didn’t like the way Frohike was talking.

Maybe he was just using analogies. He didn’t know what a

“Jedi” was, but just the fact that one would use a “mind

trick” made him think that maybe this little man knew more

than he was allowing credit for.

“This bastard’s gotten Jenny all upset. Don’t be such an

asshole, Langly. If you don’t care what I think, think about

her. If you care about her, you’ll see this meddling bastard

for what he is.”

Alexander stood up to his full height so that Frohike was

staring at his belt buckle. “So what do you say, man,” he

said to Langly, but stared directly down at Frohike as he

spoke, “You gonna come out with me tomorrow night, or are

you going to stay home with mother hen here?”

Alex didn’t need this kind of obstacle getting in the way of

his plan. He shot an intense gaze over to Langly, burning

his eyes into his mind. The threat was clear in that one

look. He had to make a choice. Alex used the mingling of

Langly’s blood in his veins to influence his answer, tried

his hardest to bring Langly over to his side. A spray of

sweat was becoming evident on his pale brow.

Langly’s eyes filled with fear. Damn it. Too much.

“You know what, Alex, why don’t you leave for a while.” He

noticed Frohike flinch at the answer. Then spoke to him,

“Sorry, man. I’ll catch ya in a few.”

“So you’re staying?” Alex asked.

“For now…”

Alex smiled in return.

Frohike stepped aside before the huge man could stomp him in

his exit. Alex left the apartment heavy-footed, and slammed

the door on his way out.

*****

“Hey, man,” Frohike attempted to console his friend, “I’m

sorry I had to come down on him like that. But you’ve really

changed these last couple of days. I was beginning to

worry.”

Langly had been watching the door since Alex had left. Now,

he looked at Frohike, a sad, helpless expression creasing

the skin between his eyebrows.

“I need to get out for a while,” he said, absently

scratching his head. He looked dazed, like he really wasn’t

sure he wanted to follow through with his own decision.

He walked over to an open doorway around one of the shelving

units, and ducked his head in to speak to Byers. Frohike

couldn’t hear what he was saying, but it sounded like Langly

was begging him for something, whimpering like a puppy-dog.

When he emerged again, Byers followed, jangling his keys

into his blazer pocket, ready to go out with the van. He

gave a shrug as he passed Frohike. The shorter man grabbed

his elbow before he had a chance to continue.

“What’s going on, Byers? You guys conspiring against me or

something?”

Byers jerked back in surprise, his boyish features below the

trimmed beard flushed at the accusation. “No. Uh, it seems

that Langly wants to go shopping,” he answered matter of

factly.

The two younger men left the apartment, leaving Frohike with

raised eyebrows and mouth hung open. What the hell was this?

Maybe he ought to keep his meddling to himself, too.

Watching over Langly just made him tired. And if Byers was

going to gang up on him like this, he’d be better off

leaving it alone. Still, there was something he hated about

that Alex.

He stripped his coat off, and went to play with some virtual

reality goggles he’d begun to disassemble. He just couldn’t

figure it out. The whole day just kept replaying in his head

as he worked. First Langly acting weird. Then Scully. And

Langly’s weirdness was the cause of Scully’s.

He put the equipment down to search for a smaller

screwdriver. He’d nearly emptied his entire toolbox looking

for it, sifting through a thousand other tools, but failing

to find the one he needed. Giving up, he walked through the

main room and scanned all the desks. He finally discovered

the tool at Langly’s workstation, among the glossy covered

rulebooks for his Vampire game.

He was about to go back and continue his work, when he

noticed the corner of a newspaper clipping marking one of

the pages. It was a little old and yellowed, and it made him

wonder if Langly had raided one of the archives carelessly

in order to make a quick bookmark.

The anger made his stomach tighten. He couldn’t restrain

himself. He had to look. Yes, he’d promised himself not to

meddle any more, but if the bastard was jeopardizing

archival information, it was going too far.

He pulled the paper out of the book. It was folded in such a

way that a small photo was uncreased and fully visible on

the flat portion of the paper. It was a candid shot of

Scully at a news conference.

Frohike crumpled the paper in his hand. It was all making

sense to him now. Jenny upset. Scully slapping him in the

face. Alex meddling and asking questions. Scully was the

other woman Langly was after.

“Nobody touches my girl,” Frohike grumbled.

He threw the paper into the trashcan, archival or not, and

dialed Mulder’s number.

*****

Present Time

“And that’s why I called you. Octopussy just got his mitts

all over Scully before I could explain it all,” Frohike

concluded his explanation of the story.

“Who the hell do you think you are? And what are you doing

trying to pressure Scully into something you know she

doesn’t want to do.”

“Hey, a guy’s gotta live his life to the fullest, right

Mulder? Besides, I didn’t want her for that.”

Three pairs of eyes stared at the cleaned-up version of

Langly. Without the dorkey thick-rimmed glasses hiding his

face, he appeared more forceful, direct, commanding

attention. It was different, yet as Scully studied him, a

sick realization came over her.

“Langly, let me see your arm,” she said hesitantly. Mulder

started to object, uneasy about letting her even touch the

man that had just tried to seduce the woman he loved. Scully

touched his elbow as she passed, a reassuring gesture to let

him know she was okay.

She pulled up the sleeve of his blazer and unbuttoned the

cuff of his shirt. Where the strip of gauze had been, were

only two faint scars. Thinking back to the case she, Mulder

and Frohike had been researching until Langly made that

first pass at her; she noticed that the nearly healed skin

resembled the shapes of those wounds she’d seen in the case

folders.

Two puncture marks. Just like the bite of human-sized

canines.

She stood in shock. Too many times Mulder had described the

traits of Vampires to her. They were highly social, sexual

creatures. They fed on the blood of the living, and

sometimes possessed other humans in order to move freely and

search for their next victims. They also preyed on the

suggestible mind.

She let Langly’s wrist fall from her grip and backed away.

“This wasn’t a dog bite, was it Langly?”

She hadn’t taken the time to second guess her diagnosis when

she’d first seen his wounded arm. Now it was all making

horrific sense. Maybe she really *didn’t* see Alexander’s

reflection in the flower case mirror that day. Maybe she

really wasn’t responsible for how she was feeling. Maybe

that’s why she couldn’t control herself against Langly

today. And maybe Alexander really was–

“Who are you? What do you want with Langly?”

Langly chuckled in a deep voice that wasn’t quite his own.

“You are a clever girl, aren’t you? Why, I want what any man

wants. Langly’s got the brains to help me get it, without

being noticed.”

“How can you not notice a complete personality change? Your

social skills aren’t as good as you think.”

“I’m getting him new friends. He needs to expand his

horizons. He should be using his intelligence for bigger and

better things.”

“Like being *your* friend? So you can manipulate him? So you

can just, just–”

“Scully, what’s going on here?” Mulder asked, taking the

chance to break the volley between the two. “What do you

mean, *who* is he?”

“That’s not Langly, Mulder,” she looked at him, trying to

explain what she knew, but finding it hard to explain what

she normally wouldn’t even believe herself. “I mean, it *is*

Langly, but he’s being controlled by someone else.”

“What?”

“Look, you know the case we’re working on? What if it isn’t

a cult following, a chain of murderers picking up where the

others left off. What if it’s not a man, but some kind of

entity, going from host to host, possessing them, and then

killing his host body when he finds a new one that will

fulfill his means? Not just to survive, but to improve.”

Mulder groped for a nearby stool, and sat listening to his

partner spew out the unexpected hypothesis.

“Brava,” Langly interrupted. “Well, now you know why I chose

Langly.”

“You weren’t learning anything that would get you what you

wanted. It would take a man of average intelligence too long

to amass the wealth you were after. You had to find someone

who would be smart enough to do it criminally, but

undercover. You wanted Langly for his hacking abilities!”

Langly nodded, squinting his eyes as Alexander forced his

thought into the foreground of his mind.

“I don’t believe it,” Mulder commented. Clearly, he was

excited and impressed to hear this revelation from his

partner.

“Look at him,” Langly gestured toward Mulder, “He can’t even

believe your words. What good is he to you?” The subject of

the insult answered with a defensive scowl.

“Langly, you know how Mulder and I feel about each other.”

Langly winced. He groaned as if in pain, and held the heel

of his palm against his forehead. “Ah! Yes… Yes, I do

know. I don’t want to do this.”

He hobbled back and forth, as if losing his balance. Frohike

was at his side before he collapsed against the light table.

Langly was weak, and his hair was falling out of its

ponytail. “I want to make my own decisions Frohike. I don’t

want him to do this to me, to Scully…”

“He’s not going to do anything to Scully. Not if Mulder and

I have anything to say about it. And he’s not doing anything

to you. We’re going to keep you here if we have to tie you

down.”

Langly belted out an anguished cry. “I’ll get my blood from

somewhere else,” he said in Alex’s voice. One more long and

painfully tortured cry escaped from deep within his throat.

Then he was silent, hanging his head in exhaustion.

Alexander was gone.

The three gathered around him in concern. Scully began

checking his pulse, which made her feel a little funny. She

wasn’t exactly sure what to find there but was relieved when

everything seemed normal. Langly was just knocked out for

the moment.

Suddenly, his head snapped up and he looked at all his

friends. “Oh, no.” he said.

“What is it, Langly?” Mulder coaxed.

“He’s gone after Jenny. He’s going to kill her next to get

back at me… because I forced him out of my head.” Panic

gave him a new strength to stand up again. “We have to stop

him!”

“Mulder,” Scully said, “how do you kill a vampire?”

*****

Langly had given the location of Alexander’s apartment to

Mulder and Scully. They’d decided to split up. Langly and

Frohike were going to go after Jenny, while they were going

to take care of Alexander.

“Why are we going to Alexander’s studio if he’s going after

Jenny in the coffee shop?”

“Because, Scully, we have to kill the original body. If what

you’re saying is true, Alexander can’t be stopped by killing

his current host. We have to kill him at the source. It’s a

good thing Langly had been to this guy’s apartment already.

And the mind-link he shares with Alexander gave him enough

information to confirm that the original body is there.”

Scully nodded in agreement, running her fingers over the

broken end of the baseball bat Mulder had slammed against

the concrete corner of the Lone Gunmen’s apartment building.

She knew he was going to be angry with her, but she expected

more disappointment than a physical display of violence

toward inanimate objects. He said the broken bat had a

purpose, though. It was meant to be used as a wooden stake

to drive into the vampire’s heart. She guessed the venting

of Mulder’s frustration on it was an extra-added feature.

“How did you know?” he asked as calmly as he could while

driving evasively through downtown traffic.

She picked off some stray splinters from the point of broken

wood. How much did she have to tell him? She leaned against

the passenger door as Mulder made a sharp left at the light.

She had to tell him everything. If she had done so earlier,

they may have been able to stop this whole fiasco before it

had gone too far.

“I met him before.”

“You *met* the vampire? How could you keep something like

that from me?”

“I didn’t know he was a vampire when I met him. I just had

this… feeling.”

“Like you had about those photos?”

“Yes. I saw the same thing in Langly today. It was *him,*”

she said with an intensity she didn’t mean to let loose.

Mulder glanced at her quickly while he screeched the car

around another corner.

“‘Him?’ Is ‘he’ why you wanted to follow this case?”

Scully was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the

speed at which Mulder was making conclusions. And it was

going in the direction she had hoped it wouldn’t. Time to

fess-up to the facts.

“I had to find out more about him. The minute I saw those

photos, I recognized his presence. It’s not something I can

explain. I just had to find out more. It was scary as hell

for me to go on a wild chase like this, but I needed to make

sure it was really him. All of a sudden, it was like an

obsession, an infatuation…”

“An infatuation?”

“Mulder, I had to be sure. When Langly started acting

strangely, I didn’t know what was happening at first. After

I uh…”

“Slapped him around?”

She smiled shyly at that. “Yes… after that, I knew

Alexander was beginning to take control. I had to get us

away from there before he had a chance to influence me too.”

“You knew he was planning to seduce you.”

“Yes.”

There wasn’t much further to drive. Mulder took his speed a

little slower, as they were now driving through a

residential neighborhood. Alexander’s basement studio was

the bottom level of a house, Langly had said. They found the

house, and were out of the car just as Mulder cut the

engine.

They ran to the entrance at the back of the house, as Langly

had directed. The door was closed, and the small window in

the door was dark. Nobody was home. That is, nobody living.

“Do you think Langly will be all right?”

Mulder turned to her and laid a hand on her shoulder.

“Langly has to do his job to defend Jenny. He’ll be fine.

We’re all doing our parts.”

Scully nodded again in silence, feeling guilty over her

deception, and the danger she was placing on all of their

heads. She felt Mulder squeeze the shoulder he still held.

“Hey,” he lifted her chin with one finger. “Don’t worry,

Dracula won’t win this time.”

He broke the glass of the window, and opened the door to

Alexander’s basement tomb.

*****

Starbuck’s Coffee

12:30 a.m.

The van wasn’t going nearly fast enough for him. Frohike was

a good driver, and he was breaking all the speed limits for

him, but nothing was going to get him there now, in this

instant.

He hadn’t realized how much Jenny meant to him before her

life was in danger. She was definitely one of his top five

people he did not want to see dead.

The coffee shop was in sight, and through the glass

storefront, so was Alexander. He was holding Jenny by the

throat, watching the van screech to a halt. Waiting for

Langly.

Langly was out of the van and through the door in an

instant, flinging a chair out of his way as he made long

strides toward his enemy. Jenny gazed up at her attacker

with a dreamy smile on her face, entranced by the closeness

of her seducer. She paid no attention to the pressure on her

throat, but batted her eyelashes flirtingly at Alexander.

He dragged his lips across hers, not kissing her, but

enticing her with the prospect. He grinned evilly at Langly

as he did it, bearing his pronounced canines. His pupils

were black pinpoints in the blue-white irises. He had

hypnotized Jenny, and wanted Langly to see what he was about

to do.

“You see, Langly, she really doesn’t care about you.”

“I love her, damn you. You’re not even giving me a chance!”

Jenny’s face began to change form. The hypnotic trance Alex

had placed on her was beginning to fade and she began to

whimper in fear of her life. She tore her gaze away from

Alex, struggling against his firm grip.

“Langly…” she groaned out. “Make him stop…”

Langly hesitated, but only for a second. The decision wasn’t

hard to make. It was either Alex, or Jenny. He lunged toward

the big man, startling him enough to release the girl. Now

it was Langly’s hands gripping Alexander’s throat.

The vampire heaved at Langly’s arms and lifted the smaller

man’s whole body from the ground. Though his valor was

immense, Langly’s physical strength could not compare to

Alexander’s muscular arms. He could feel Alexander slowly

forcing his hands away. Even his nails digging into the skin

of his adversary’s neck couldn’t give him the upper hand in

this battle.

“You… can’t have her… you bastard,” Langly huffed out as

he fought to keep control.

“Oh, isn’t that sweet,” the vampire commented, “You think

your love is stronger than thousands of years of evil? You

think that’s all it will take? I made you want her. I made

you confident enough to get this far. You think you can stop

me now?”

“I’m ‘determined’ enough to keep you from killing her. You

will not lay a hand on her, or me, ever again!”

Alex laughed out loud, amused by Langly’s quote. “This is no

game, my friend. You can’t win this one by a game of chance.

You’ll just have to accept that I’m going to win and I’m—”

Alex stopped short mid-sentence. He froze in place holding

Langly’s hands inches from his neck. The blood from Langly’s

scratching was just beginning to sprout up through the skin,

black and thick, dripping like molasses down Alexander’s

shirt collar.

Then Alex convulsed, and threw Langly to the floor. He held

his chest, wheezing with an effort to breath. Black blood

seeped out the corner of his mouth as he stared,

disbelieving at the frail man hauling himself up against the

counter. He convulsed again, as if someone had taken a blow

to his gut. He doubled over and crashed his knees to the

floor.

Langly shuffled over to him, blazer hanging off his

shoulders, shirt untucked from the dapper suit pants he

wore. Alex raised his eyes toward him imploringly.

“You’re really…” he coughed, spurting blood from between

his pale lips. “You’re killing me.”

“That’s right. I know all about you now. It’s all over,

Alex. It all ends right here.”

From the center of Alexander’s chest, a dark spot grew and

bled through the black shirt. His pale hands looked white as

porcelain as they clutched at the blood-soaked fabric.

Smudges of red stained his fingernails. He looked down at

his messy hands dripping blood onto the floor. He groped for

the napkin dispenser; a senseless desire to clean up the

miasma his death was leaving behind.

The metal box of napkins slipped out of his already slick

fingertips, as he lost his balance reaching for them. He

fell prostrate onto the floor, nothing left in his body. No

life to sustain him, no blood to nourish him, no spirit to

roam any longer over the earth.

Five miles away, in a closet, hovering over an open casket

by the light of a candle, Mulder made the last thrust into

the Vampire’s chest. The sleeping form never moved a muscle

as he did his work, Scully by his side cringing as she

watched the whole ordeal.

The thick black-red blood finally welled up around the

ragged point of the broken baseball bat. Mulder left the

bloody makeshift stake sticking up inside the dead flesh of

the corpse, afraid to remove it, should the vampire come

back again from the dead into the world of the living.

He held to the edge of the casket, weary from the effort.

Scully wiped her sleeve over his face, where some of the

blood had splattered.

She kneeled down next to him, held his hand and promised,

“I’ll never keep anything from you again.”

*****

Epilogue

Next Day

Starbuck’s Coffee Shop

“It will take a few weeks at least, maybe even a month for

Langly to recycle all the blood in his system. Until then,

he may still have some, uh… vampire traits left over for a

while?”

“Great. I thought his days of being a total prick were

over,” Frohike muttered as he took a sip of his regular

coffee.

Mulder came over and sat with them at the table. “Brian

Callaghan’s body will be returned to his family after the

autopsy. I don’t suppose you want to take care of that one,

do you Scully?”

“Not a chance.”

Langly was standing at the counter, elbow propped up so he

could lean over and talk to Jenny. She beamed at him;

hopelessly in love with not only the geek she’d had a crush

on, but at the hero that saved her from a vicious brute the

night before.

“So tell me, Scully, what kind of ‘vampire tendencies’ do

you think Langly will have left over?”

She blushed at this. Frohike pinched together his eyebrows

in confusion. Mulder, however, seemed to catch on to her

reaction.

In a low tone, he politely explained to his friend,

“Vampires are known to be highly sexual creatures. Remember

how Langly was trying to seduce every woman in sight?”

“Not *every* woman,” Scully said a little defensively.

Mulder chuckled and reached across the table to squeeze her

hand. “Not, every woman, true.” Then he turned back to

Frohike. “Let’s just say Jenny better make good on the

situation while it still lasts.”

They all broke out into hysterical laughter.

Langly, oblivious to the source of all the commotion, had

pulled himself away from the first real conversation he’d

ever had with Jenny. A big, contented cheesy grin curled his

lips as he walked over to the table. When he arrived, his

friends snorted and exchanged glances as they struggled to

keep their glee under wraps.

“What?”

The three of them looked at each other in turn, then back at

Langly, and laughed even harder.

*****

The end.

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