Author: Theresa (email@example.com)
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.
By Theresa Jahn
The Lone Gunmen Headquarters
"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
"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,
"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
'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...'
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
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
"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...
"Mmmbph!" Scully blurted out as she pushed herself away.
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!
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."
5 days earlier
An undisclosed apartment in Georgetown, VA.
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
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
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*
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
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
"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
"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
"No, you're good, but you'd never beat me. I know too much."
"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
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 must be an interesting place. You were there for
"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?
"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
"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.
"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
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."
"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."
"Shut up and watch your porn."
Frohike stuck out his tongue, shuffled over to his TV set
and hit play.
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
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.
"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
"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
"Well, you know, cleanliness isn't one of my greatest
virtues. What do you say you come over later and give me a
"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.
"Hey, Scully, maybe the both of you together can help me out
with this new case--"
"Because, Mulder," she said slowly, as if explaining to a
child, "this is my weekend off. I need a break."
"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."
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.
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-
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
"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.
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
"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
"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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
"All right, what the hell." He threw his hands up loosely in
"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
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
"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
"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?
"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
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
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
"No, I want to get experience, Bishop. What can I do to make
"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
"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."
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
"More like the devil just took their souls from them," he
said hollowly, and bent down over the computer with Frohike
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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.
Starbuck's Coffee Shop
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
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
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.
"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
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
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
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,
"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
"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
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
"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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
Two puncture marks. Just like the bite of human-sized
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
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
"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
"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."
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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..."
"Mulder, I had to be sure. When Langly started acting
strangely, I didn't know what was happening at first. After
"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."
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
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.
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
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 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
"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
"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
"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
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
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."
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
"Great. I thought his days of being a total prick were
over," Frohike muttered as he took a sip of his regular
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
"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
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.
The three of them looked at each other in turn, then back at
Langly, and laughed even harder.
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