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Change One Little Word...

By Scribe

Note: Don't shoot me. I didn't see the episode where Mulder and Krycek met, and the synopsis available on the web wasn't all that detailed and textured. Here's my take on it. Consider this AU. Part of the 'Poetic'series. It occurs long before 'Little Cat Feet' or 'Summer Redundant'.

One Misty, Moisty Morning
A Nursery Rhyme

One misty, moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man
Clothed all in leather.
He began to compliment,
And I began to grin,
How do you do?
And how do you do?
And how do you do, again?

*Mulder, you're being childish.*

Fox Mulder stood in front of his apartment window, clad only in his boxer shorts, leaning his forehead against the pane.

He wasn't worried about being seen. The streets outside were deserted, and he was enjoying the chill of the glass.

Again the thought drifted across his mind.*You're being childish.*

How many times had that statement been directed at him? By his father, fairly often. By his mother, less frequently, and usually with a gentle smile. By his partner... Mulder grimaced. *Ex partner. Just get where you can trust someone, and The Powers That Be, in their infinite wisdom, decide it's better for you to split up.* By Dana Scully, more than once.

But he'd never directed the thought at himself. Not till today. What was it?

Closing the X Files, being cut adrift from Scully... yeah. Those were the obvious things. Nothing like a big dollop of insecurity to make you feel... well, not childish. Childlike. Vulnerable.

He sighed. His forehead and hair were getting damp. It was cold outside, warm in his apartment. Water was condensing on the glass, dribbling down. He'd have to do something about that, or the wood on the sill would end up with damp rot. But that just seemed far too adult and responsible a thing to be worrying about on a morning like today.

Not removing his forehead from the window, he idly touched a small drop near the top of the pane, drawing it down till it touched another, and merged. With that added weight, gravity proved too much for it, and it started down the glass. It gathered bulk and momentum as it made it's way down, and seemed the size of a raisin by the time it splashed over the window sash.

It wasn't raining outside yet, but it would be at any moment. It was overcast, with not a speck of open sky in view. The clouds were almost purple, but Mulder suspected that was more from the lingering darkness of night than violence of temperament. It was still very early, just barely past dawn by his calculations. Not that there was any sun on display. It looked like twilight outside, and probably wouldn't get much brighter all day. These early spring days could be just as nasty as anything deepest autumn threw at you.

It reminded him of a poem. Almost everything reminded him of a poem, these days. He seemed to have retained almost every one he'd run across since his mother had propped him on her lap and opened that first book of Mother Goose. There were a lot of poems about rain, for adults and children, but it was the nursery rhyme that came to Mulder today, for some reason.

He recited softly to himself. "One misty, moisty morning, when cloudy was the weather, I chanced to meet an old man clothed all in leather. He began to compliment, and I began to grin. How do you do? And how do you do? And how do you do again?"

Mulder smiled slightly, despite his depression. He'd loved that poem. His father, hearing him recite it once, had pointed out that there was no such word as moisty, and Mulder had replied that there should be.

The FBI agent sighed gustily, watching his breath fog on the glass, adding to the moisture. With his fingertip, he sketched a heart in the grey film, complete with arrow. Inside it, he wrote 'FM + ', and his hand paused. *Plus who?*

Not Scully. He cared about her, and was coming to care for her more deeply with every day that passed. But it wasn't the kind of love you scrawled in a valentine. And there weren't any other even remote possibilities. With a grimace, he scrubbed his palm across the glass. It would be streaked when it dried, but the mocking image of the half empty heart was gone.

He moved away from the window, and began pacing. He went and stared for a moment at his rumpled bed. The empty space held no attraction for him whatsoever. He had a day off today, before starting back to work. Figured the insomnia would decide to kick back in at one of the few times he could have slept as late as he wanted.

He found himself pacing again.

*Damn. Haven't even been up an hour, and already I'm getting cabin fever.* He wandered into the kitchen, contemplated making coffee, then realized that caffeine wouldn’t help his restlessness. Besides, he really didn't feel up to making it. And no matter what the automated coffee maker claimed, it tasted crappy when you tried to make less than three cups. *It's not fair. Life just wasn't designed for single people.*

Mulder walked back over to the window and peered out consideringly, stretching. There was a donut shop just a few blocks down the street. He should be able to make it down and back with breakfast before the weather broke, if he jogged.

That sounded good. Yeah, he was in the mood for comfort food this morning, and donuts would be perfect. As he pulled on a sweat suit, he thought that maybe he’d even get milk instead of coffee, just really regress.

The wind was picking up when he hit the street, and the mist was just short of rain-spray on his face. He paused, debating whether or not to abort the errand. Then his full lower lip poked out a little farther in a sulky expression his parents would have found very familiar. He wanted donuts, and he was going to have them, rain or no rain.

He started off down the street. The pavement was already glistening with moisture, even in the dim light, and there was just the faintest hint of a squish along with the slap each time the soles of his athletic shoes contacted the damp surface. Funny the way sound acted on days like today. He almost thought someone was pacing him somewhere nearby. There was the faintest echo, just a nanosecond after his soles slapped the pavement.

As he jogged, he repeated the poem again, the words coming in an easy cadence with his gate. "One mis-ty, mois-ty mor-ning when clou-dy was the weather, I chanced to meet an old man, clo-thed all in leah-ther..." He chuckled to himself. *Clo-thed? That's stretching the meter a little far, isn't it, Mulder?*

He argued with himself as he continued. *Yeah, well, antique pronunciation. Fits the rhyme. Never bothered me before, not gonna let it bother me now. Leather. Yeah, leather would make sense on a misty, moisty sort of day back w hen they wrote that. No rain gear then. No plastic, for sure. Leather wasn't just a fashion statement, it served a purpose. Protective, warm, and water resistant.*

The sweet, yeasty smell of donuts frying assaulted him as he neared the shop, and he skidded to a halt. For a moment he just stood there, eyes closed, head back, hungrily sniffing the delicious scent. Drifting back to the kitchen of his childhood, where, on rare Saturday mornings, his mother had tended the pot of bubbling fat, doling out the still sizzling pastries after they'd been rolled in a plate of cinnamon-sugar. A slow, sweet smile spread across his face, and anyone who cared to look could see what Mulder had been like as a youth, just entering the first flush of manhood. For those few moments, years of angst, stress, and growing cynicism were wiped away. He was always an attractive man. For that space, at least, he was beautiful.

Fox had enjoyed the brief sensory nostalgia, but he couldn't resist the allure of the aroma for long. He pushed his way through the smeared glass door, into the almost steamy interior of the shop, and went to the counter. It was a glass fronted case, it's shelves holding trays of donut holes and other pastries, such as croissants, and muffins, or bagels for the more 'health conscious'. *Though why anyone who cared a lick about their arteries would even come near a place like this, I don't know. Hardly seems any point. Sort of like going to Kentucky Fried Chicken looking for a salad. They might just be able to do it, if they stretched, but why bother?*

Fox peered past the counter while the clerk finished pouring a cup of coffee for a customer at the end of the serving counter. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Baked, or fried? Buttermilk, plain glazed, honey-dipped, chocolate honey-dipped, Bavarian creme, custard, coconut, blueberry, chocolate chip, apple cinnamon, maple frosted, raspberry jelly, lemon custard filled, vanilla frosted, nut crunch, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, crullers...

No, definitely not crullers. Crullers were not part of the whole regression scene. Too sophisticated, with their elegant, fluted shape. He needed something very pure and basic today.

He heard the door hush open behind him, and automatically glanced in the round security mirror mounted on the back wall. A dark haired man, perhaps a few years younger than Mulder was entering. The mist must be getting thicker outside: there were droplets of moisture beaded on the shoulders of his leather jacket.

The new arrival paused just inside the doorway, head cocked as if considering something, perhaps whether or not he really wanted to be here. Then his nostrils flared, very green eyes half closed, and his generous mouth stretched in a pleased smile. *Good. There's someone else who can appreciate the atmosphere around here. Enjoy it, buddy. It's one of the few pleasures no one has figured out how to charge for.*

The stranger came to stand behind, and a little to the side, of Mulder. He lifted slightly, not quite going up on tiptoe, and looked over the special agent's shoulder, scanning the cases in the back wall. Mulder could hear the faint creak of the man's leather jacket as he rubbed his chin, in obvious deep concentration. He could smell the jacket, too. Oh, not that it was ripe, or anything. No sweat. In fact, there was a light, spicy scent of a good aftershave or cologne. No, leather just had it's own singular aroma.

Mulder found it particularly evocative of... Oh, he wasn't sure. A certain sense of masculinity, perhaps? Sure, women wore leather. But it just seemed more fitting on a man. And on some men, it seemed down right natural. This was one of those men. Despite his almost too perfect good looks, he seemed very at home in the animal skins.

The clerk, a young girl, bustled up to the register, looked right past Mulder to the other man, and gave a beaming 'well, hello there!' sort of smile that Mulder had yet to encounter from her, despite the number of times he'd been in. *Well, doesn't that just make me feel special?*

He was a little surprised when the mild voice said, "He was here first."

*Courtesy? At this time of the morning?* Mulder turned slightly to get a better look at him. The man had a pleasant, bland expression. But Mulder had learned a long time ago that didn't signify squat. Some of his weirdest, hairiest experiences on the X Files had been with people and, well, things that at first glance had seemed almost pathetically ordinary.

*No, this guy might be a lot of things, but not ordinary.* The thought passed so quickly that Mulder scarcely noticed it. He nodded at the other customer. "Thanks."

Again that almost sweet smile. "Don't mention it."

"What dya want?" Now patently bored, the girl stared at Mulder, foot tapping. She wanted to get him out of the way so she could focus on the green eyed stranger. Mulder sighed. The state of counter help these days.

After a bit more mental debate, he settled on three chocolate frosted. With sprinkles. Sprinkles were very important. He also got a dozen assorted donut holes. *If I'm gonna plug my arteries, I might as well enjoy it.* "And a pint of milk."

The other man pursed his lips. Mulder found himself tracing the outline of that full, pink mouth, and gave himself a mental shake. What on earth was going on in his head this morning? Maybe he should have gone for the caffeine. "No coffee? You look like a coffee drinker."

"Usually, yeah. Java junkie." Mulder shrugged. "Just feeling a little kiddish for some reason this morning." The other nodded, as if this made perfect sense.

The clerk filled his order, rang him up, then laid his change on the counter, ignoring his outstretched hand, to turn her attention back to the object of her current fascination. Mulder started to scrape up the change, when he suddenly found a hand holding his wrist. Surprised, he looked up to find the dark haired man shaking his head.

His expression was just a touch grim now. "You don't have to put up with that." He looked at the suddenly nervous girl, and now he didn't seem quite so bland anymore. "That was rude. He's your customer, and he deserves more than that. Do it right."

The girl quickly gathered up the coins and pressed them into Mulder's palm. "Sorrraboutthatthankyouforyourbusinessyouhaveanicedayandcomebacksoon."

She looked warily at the other customer, who nodded. "Much better. Try breathing next time. I'll have a bagel." Mulder groaned. "What? Don't they have good bagels here?"

"They're okay, I guess, but they're bagels."

"I could have cream cheese on it."

"Oh, fat on top of tasteless. Yummy."

His lips twitched, but he didn't quite smile. "I like bagels."

Mulder shrugged. "Your choice. Just seems an awful waste of a perfectly good opportunity for junk food."

He left the shop, glancing back over his shoulder through the glass of the door when he hit the street. His hazel eyes met green, and he looked away quickly. *Don't stare, Mulder. Don't live up to the Spooky moniker. Don't creep out the nice man.*

He strolled along, enjoying the stillness. The streets were still deserted. The last of the street lamps were going off, even though they could probably have been useful for a little while longer. But the power company had a time table and, by God, according to that schedule it was officially daylight, and the populace could do without illumination.

Suddenly the air was split overhead by a crash of thunder that made Mulder literally jump. It was accompanied almost simultaneously by a flash of lightening that leaped across the sky, from cloud to cloud, and for a moment bathed the land below in incandescence. Then came the Rain.

*And that's with a capital R. Je-zus! And I thought this wasn't going to be a heavy storm. Got me again, God.* Mulder thought this as he scrambled into the recessed doorway of a book store. It was raining too damn hard to even attempt the last few blocks to his apartment.

As it was, he was already pretty damp. He raked a hand through his hair, feeling the wet, knowing that it was now wildly spiked, and not caring. Who the hell was there to worry about it, anyway?

Leaning back against the door, he gazed out at the rain. It was like there was a waterfall running right over the open space before him. If this lasted very long, the streets would flood for sure. The drainage system couldn't handle such sudden and massive runoff. Oh, well. If he was stuck, at least he was stuck with breakfast.

He pulled a donut out of the only slightly damp paper bag and had just sunk his teeth through the fragile chocolate skim of frosting when another body hurtled into his sanctuary, slamming into the door beside him. Mulder bit the rest of the way through the donut a lot more abruptly than he had planned, but thankfully missed tongue or lip.

"Whoa! Sorry about that," panted the man. "Didn't mean to startle you, but Christ! Than came on fast."

Mulder chewed briefly, then swallowed. The guy seemed big on manners, so no speaking with the mouth full. "Yeah, didn't seem like it was gonna be all that when I came out."

The stranger nodded agreement. His dark hair was plastered to his well shaped head, seal sleek and shiny, and water dripped down his face. "Just sorta misty...moisty..." He made a vague gesture with his hand.

Mulder regarded him in surprise, feeling a smile starting to tug at his lips. "You remember that old nursery rhyme?"

"One misty, moisty morning, all cloudy was the weather..."

"When," Mulder corrected. "When cloudy was the weather. I'll be damned. I would have sworn that I was the only person in D.C., if not Maryland, thinking of that this morning."

"Swearing can be a very chancy proposition." He offered his hand. "Since we're sharing space, we should introduce ourselves. Alex Krycek."

Hm. Bit of an exotic name to go with those green eyes. Fox swapped the donut to his left hand and shook. "Mulder." Let him make what he would of no first name. Mulder didn't give up his first name easily.

Krycek didn't seem to take offense. "How do you do?"

Mulder's smile broadened, "And how do you do?"

They chorused the final line, "And how do you do, again? Damn, you're good!"

Krycek chuckled. "No, that should be my line, since I'm the one 'clothed all in leather.' I'm the one who's supposed to compliment you. You just grin."

"Well, yeah, but it doesn't hold quite true. You're not exactly an old man."

There was an odd glint in the green eyes. "There's different kinds of old. Wonderful things, nursery rhymes. Memorizing poetry disciplines the mind. I think the school system lost something when recitations fell out of favor."

"They wanted to create thinkers, not people who would just mouth someone else's ideas."

Krycek opened the paper bag he'd been carrying. "I'm not entirely sure they didn't do the American people a disservice," he murmured.

"Odd philosophy."

"I'm a little different, yeah." Mulder shook his head when he saw Krycek pull out the bagel and a cup of coffee. "So sue me. I need the calcium from the cream cheese." Fox opened his pint of milk in a decidedly pointed manner. "You know, you can be sarcastic without saying a word."

"One of my many talents." They munched in companionable silence for a few minutes.

Mulder wanted to stare out at the rain, but found his eyes being drawn back to Krycek, watching the way his strong jaw flexed as he worked on the chewy bagel. When Alex looked at him suddenly, meeting his eyes, he hastily took another bite of donut.

The scent of his cologne, and the tang of damp leather filled the little entryway. The space was open fronted, but smaller than a closet, and the men were close together. Fox could feel the sleeve of Krycek's jacket brush his arm every time the man lifted the bagel to his lips.

Krycek finished the bagel quickly, licking a smear of pale cream cheese from one elegantly long finger, and eyed the bag in Fox's hand. He shifted a little closer, and Mulder could feel his body heat. "You know," Krycek's voice was low. "I really have a hard time resisting sweet stuff."

Mulder twitched, staring at him, trying to decide if there was some sort of double meaning to the words. But then Krycek's expression was open and innocent as a child's when he said, "Trade my last sip of coffee for a donut hole?"

"Oh. Sure." Mulder gulped the last of the thick brew, feeling like a little alertness right now couldn't hurt, and he couldn't count entirely on a sugar rush. Then he held out the open bag.

Again Krycek took hold of his wrist, his grip gentle, but hinting at strength that wasn't readily apparent in his slender build. He slipped his other hand into the sack, the paper rustling. "Let's see, which one do I want?" He paused, looking up at Mulder through dark, spiky lashes. "I really shouldn't be playing with your balls, should I?" Mulder almost choked before he continued. "Don't worry, I won't touch anything I don't intend to eat," and pulled out a powdered sugar donut hole.

Mulder, feeling a little dizzy, took a hefty gulp of milk as Krycek ate the little pastry in two dainty bites. "Delicious. Could I have one more?"

"Help yourself," Mulder croaked. Again his wrist was captured, and Krycek rustled the paper bag while making a leisurely selection. Mulder was shaking by the time he let go.

*What the fuck is going on here?! I've got to get home. This man is way too disturbing.* And yet, there hadn't really been anything said, or done. “It's been nice meeting you, but I need to get on home.”

Krycek glanced out at the still teeming rain, then back at Mulder. "You'll get soaked." He paused. "I'm not making you uncomfortable, am I?"

"No, no." *Too quick, too vehement. Methinks he doth protest too much. And besides, I think a cold shower right now might be just what I need.* 'I just have things I have to do."

"All right." Krycek offered his hand again. Mulder would have expected it to be cool, with his recent dousing. But it was very warm. "Maybe we'll meet again."

"Um... maybe." Mulder slipped the bag holding the remnants of his breakfast under his shirt and dashed out into the flood. He pounded up the streaming sidewalk, sprays of water flying at each footfall, drenched before he'd gone a yard.

Alex Krycek watched Fox Mulder disappear into the enveloping rain, and thought, *Oh, you can count on it, Foxy. Tomorrow, in fact.*

He hadn't been too interested when he'd gotten this assignment. FBI agents, in his experience, were usually dull, stolid individuals. As he'd studied Mulder's dossier, his opinion had changed. By the time he was ready to begin, he was quite looking forward to meeting Mulder, and so far he wasn't disappointed.

Krycek leaned comfortably back in the doorway, and absently rubbed the bulge at his crotch. He was glad he'd decided to stake out Mulder's apartment a few hours before he expected him to get up. What a treat he'd had. Yum.

The other man, obviously thinking himself unobserved, had appeared at his window in nothing but a thin pair of boxers. He'd stood there, watching the approaching weather for some time. His long, lean body had been relaxed, unconsciously graceful. At his position in the alleyway across the street, with his binoculars, Alex had a good view.

He'd scanned Mulder's body in loving detail, taking in the sleek muscles, the abundant, sable brown hair, the deliciously sulky mouth. He hadn't really gotten a good impression of the eye color, and had been delighted when he got a closer look in the coffee shop. They were a hazel as unusual as his own shade of green.

Eye color aside, the binoculars had been excellent at picking out details. He'd been able to see that Mulder's nipples were slightly puckered by the chill near the window. That was when he'd started to get hard, and it hadn't gone away yet. Mulder's proximity, touching him, his reactions to the double entendre's... They'd all served to give Krycek an insistent erection. And, since it was far too soon to get the one who'd caused it to do anything about it...

Alex, fairly sure no one would come by, but not really giving a damn, unzipped and began to masturbate, thinking about that pretty, pretty mouth. He whispered, "How do you do? And how do you do? And how do you do, again?"

The End

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