Lousy Company

by Rose Campion

Disclaimer: I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove a thing. pairing: M/Frohike
date: 09/30/03
beta: not betaed. be warned.
rating: I dunno, PG-13. One person makes a pass at another, but no sex. A few bad words are used. warning: a bit more angsty than intended. summary: Frohike comes across Mulder in "his" bar. Written for Nikita's Mulder Fuh-Q Fest. Answers additional challenge A (Mulder plastered in local bar) with the bonus challenge of it being a M/Frohike.

It had been one of those days. You know which kind. I don't have to explicate. So I did the only thing a reasonable man could and retreated to my local drinking establishment.

Before I go much further, I should explain that though the clientele of this place, or rather I should say, joint, were all male, it was decidedly not a gay bar. Far from it. It was one of those bars where men, manly men, go to drink in peace. Away from women. It's not the seedy fixtures or the overall decrepitude, because some nice places can be one of those bars, but mostly they are smoky, dimly lit places with cracking vinyl covered bar stools. No, the deciding factor that determines such a thing is a sort of mental "no girls allowed" sign that hangs over the door. Occasionally, a little lady might wander in by mistake. She isn't exactly shown the door, but by some mystical force, she's usually gone before she finishes her first beer. If she orders at all.

So, I went to my usual place, the one that I escape to when I need respite from my two comrades in arms. Byers stays away from fastidiousness, Langly from. Well, I don't know. I think it has something to do with the hair. I didn't really inquire, because I didn't really care. Every man needs an inner sanctum of sorts. A place where he can retreat from those nearest and dearest to him. Sometimes you have to go where nobody knows your name, but the bartender automatically sets up a double of JP when he sees your short and stubby visage approaching the bar.

So, all was running smoothly. I could see the bartender make a grab for the cheap whiskey. There was the bar stool with my name on it, like a golden oasis.

I should explain a little more here. I didn't come to this bar to get drunk. I am not so anti-bourgeois that I won't drink at home. Indeed, if my intention was to get sloshed, given my tight finances, it was always more sensible to buy a bottle and barricade myself in my bedroom at the casa. It was not my intention tonight. No, tonight was intended for a short while of glorious solitude in the midst of silent, strong men from the same era I grew up in. The whiskey was a mere edge-number, almost more prop than panacea. The whole point was to be alone in company that wouldn't ask questions or make needless small talk. That might explain why what I saw next was such a scratch of the needle across the vinyl.

Because, there, across the bar, was Mulder. And Mulder, I could see from the little convention of shot glasses that had gathered in front of him on the laminate bar, was well into his cups. How the hell had he found my bar? What was he doing here? Mulder was not the cause of today's little miseries, but over the years he certainly had been the instigator of many others. And he was precisely not the man I wanted to see this fine, dismal evening.

My body made it to the barstool on autopilot, but the second the bar keep set my double in front of me, I happened to look up and get a second glance at Mulder. I hopped off the stool and the bar keep raised an eyebrow at me, no doubt puzzled by my unusual for me behavior. "Have to go see a man about a horse," I said as I turned in the direction of the head.

The bathroom was just about what you'd expect in such a place, only a bit worse. The floor was sticky with things it was best not to think overly much about. A couple of butts floated in the urinal despite a hand lettered sign over it that said, "The hand that picks the cigarette butts out of this urinal is the hand that pours your drinks." There was also a stool, a tiny sink and a cracked mirror. Yellow ceramic tile covered the floors and matching yellow paint the walls. Urine yellow, I'd thought on occasion. The single, dim incandescent bulb hung overhead did little to illuminate the room, and made the face that stared back at me out of that mirror even more sallow and haggard looking. I threw the bolt that locked me in and looked at myself again in the mirror. A tactical mistake on my part.

A man like me should never have to come face to face with a man like Mulder after a day like I'd had. My self-esteem was doing its best Titanic impression on the iceberg of Mulder's effortless sexiness. Even three sheets to the wind, he'd been sitting on that bar stool like he was in a magazine spread. He'd ditched the usual workaday suit in favor of a henley and tight jeans. The hair fell over his forehead just so. Even with his face slightly screwed up from sipping cheap whiskey, he was gorgeous.

So, what was I doing, hiding out in the bathroom?

You figure it out, Sherlock. Three guesses. The first two don't count.

I knew you could get it. Because when Melvin Frohike's eye went a rovin', it sure went a rovin'. Any talk about Scully being hot was just that, talk. What I felt for her had far more to do with chivalry than hormones. No, it was her partner, in all his smart ass, insouciant glory that really sent my wheels spinning. Floated my boat. Packed my ball bearings. Set my tea kettle a whistlin'. Inflated my tires. He was the beat to my tango. He was Whistler's mama, an O'Neill drama, camembert. The tower of Pisa, the Mona Lisa.

But, if baby, he was the top, well, you know where that left me. As the French would say, 'de trop.'

Guys like me were never even seen by guys like him, even if he was inclined to take the A train down the B tracks, which I didn't think he was.

So, I hid out in the bathroom for far longer than it does my male ego any good to admit to. I thought maybe the bar keep might stop serving him in a bit, and he'd stumble away, find a cab and get himself homeward bound. I figured, five, ten more minutes tops I'd have to hide out in here. Then came the first knock on the door, just a gentle rap. Then another, more impatient shaking of the door handle before I could respond. And his voice, Mulder's, demanding entrance querulously. "Hey, my back teeth are floating out here," would be the exact quote.

There was nothing for it, but to open up and let him in. Maybe he'd rush in, all in a hurry for the head and I could sneak out under his radar. There are a few, small advantages to being of the Napoleonic build, one of which was that a beanpole like him could gaze right over the top of my head and not necessarily see me at first glance. I slid the bolt back.

I didn't expect Mulder to be leaning on the door. He tumbled inward, right onto the floor. I winced in sympathy, but he didn't seem to notice. "Frohike?" he asked, with a big, sloppy drunk smile on his face. He seemed in no hurry to pick himself up off the floor. "Y'know, I don' have to look down t' see you fr'm here," he said, perhaps a bit more slurred than that. I'd say by now he'd passed four sheets and was on his fifth. In a big gust storm.

"What are you doing here Mulder?" I asked, bending down, not that it was far, to offer him a hand up. That floor was not something I would have wished on Yves Adele Harlow.

"Drinkin'," he said, waving away my hand and attempting to climb to his feet under his own power. He didn't get very far and this just made him grin foolishly again. Damn his smile. "Well, not at thish exact momen'."

"Jesus, Mulder," I said as I watched him finally achieve something approaching vertical. He had to hold on to the wall to keep it though. "I should get you out of here. Let me call you a taxi. It's going to be expensive. Do you have the cash? What are you doing drinking so far from home?"

I had chosen this bar for, among other reasons, its proximity to the hovel I called home. It was an easy stumble away. Not that I drank to that point here, but just in case I should be so inclined some night.

"Close' bar to your place. Wen' to see you guys. No one was home," Mulder said. He started unzipping his pants as he let go of the wall and headed to the urinal. He was in no state to be walking and chewing gum, much less a complex task like zipping down and walking. He put the zip down on hold until he was standing over the toilet. I shut the door but turned my back, giving him his privacy. After a moment, he said, "Ah, much better."

I turned and he was still zipping up. I couldn't help but look down. Catching me at it, Mulder flashed me, pulling down the zipper a little bit, so his little general was revealed for me to see. I looked away almost as soon as I realized what was happening. Well, almost as soon. Okay, like you wouldn't take up a chance to get a glimpse at a moment like that. But I got myself composed a moment later. I am, at heart, a gentleman, so I fancy myself. And while my feelings about Mulder might have very little to do with chivalry, I still was far better a man than to let myself take advantage of his grievously sodden state.

"Mulder," I said, averting my eyes in an obvious way. "Get yourself together. I'm taking you home. Do you have a tab running?"

And so I got him chiivied out of the bathroom finally, fully zipped up, and out to the main part of the bar. It took the better part of my strength to support him, half drag him through the bar. Mulder kept giggling. Once he said, "Getcher han's off my ass, Fro."

Meanwhile, I tried to capture the attention of the bartender. When I did, I asked, "He owe you anything?"

"Nah," was my answer. "Strangers to the house drink cash on the barrel head only."

I dug in my pocket and pulled out a five for a tip and left it on the bar, then turned my attention to Mulder, who seemed to have found enough coordination to make his legs work more or less again, with myself only having to perform functions like navigation. It seemed like it was a concerted effort on his part and left me wondering just how much exactly he had drunk. Mulder wasn't much of a drinker, I knew that. Usually when he was, it was in reaction to one of those kind of days. That same kind of day that I'd just had.

"Keys," Mulder said, starting to search his pockets as we stood on the asphalt just outside of the bar. I never drove here, but they had a sizeable parking lot for such a little dive.

"You drove here?" I asked, starting to look around the lot for his vehicle. It would be a lot easier, not to mention cheaper, to get him home in his own vehicle. The boys could come pick me up in the van later.

"Ah-hah!" he fairly cackled at the triumph of pulling his own keyring out of his pocket. He pouted when as I kept my face blandly neutral and said, "Don' I get a prize?"

"Yeah, a car ride home," I said.

"I was thinkin' more like thish," Mulder said. Then suddenly, Mulder was on me. His hands had grabbed my head. His face was put right next to mine. And before I could protest, he was giving me a big, wet, slobbery kiss. With tongue. One of my dearest fantasies. Except here in the parking lot like this, it was a big nightmare, even more so by the fact that I knew it was alcohol fueled.

I pushed him away and protested, "Jesus, Mulder, you're even drunker than I thought."

"I'm not as drink as you thunk i am," he said. "Not as thrink as you drunk I are. Nevermin'. Jesh lonely anna lil' drunk."

"Well quit being lonely on me in a public parking lot," I said sharply and started leading him through the lot. I found his car toute de suite and bundled him into it. The man couldn't even figure out how to use his seat belt. Or at least he kept pretending that he couldn't fit the two pieces together, so I eventually gave up and reached across him to fasten it. He used it as an opportunity to molest me again, his hands sneaking across my back, as if he was going to pull me in for another wet sloppy one. I clicked the belt together, then leaped away from Mulder like I'd been stung. I fastened myself up and put the car in gear. For the next several minutes, I concentrated only on putting more miles of asphalt under Mulder's tires.

"You know wha' I remember from being dead, Fro?" Mulder asked as we hit the freeway.

"No, what?" I asked, suddenly concerned for him. Mulder had always been like one of those punching clowns. You bop it and it immediately bounces back into place, ready for more. We, all of us, his friends, always assume that he's going to bounce back. We'd been so glad to see him back and he'd looked so good that we'd assumed he was fine. Dandy. It suddenly occurred to me, being dead for three months is not normal. That it might have some affect on a guy. That maybe he hadn't bounced back quite as normal as we all thought. That maybe he had some holes in him that weren't quite showing yet. And we would be in the guilty position of ignoring his most basic needs for company and reassurance. Humanity. Some friends we were. Jesus. The bottom of my stomach suddenly dropped out on me. I immediately forgot what it was that had made my day one of those days.

"Nothin'," Mulder said. "Don' remember anythin'. Big. Black, gapin' hole in my memory. Jus' this sense like I wasn' alone no more, like I was part of somethin' huge. Never alone again. Felt great. Best feeling ever. Then, I was back here, and I was more alone than ever before."

"So you came looking for some company tonight, some friends, and no one was at my place, right? So you went to find it in a drink," I asked.

Mulder nodded, then added, "A bottle's loushy company, Fro. Don't make me go home alone."

Mulder had very carefully, very deliberately placed a hand on my thigh. Midway. You couldn't make a mistake in interpreting that. It was an open invitation.

"You're drunk, Mulder," I said, firmly.

"I'm perfectly able to give conshent, Fro," Mulder said. "I want this. Want you. Want you to fuck me."

"You're drunk, Mulder," I repeated, for my own benefit as much as his. "I do not take advantage of people like that."

If only because my ego could do without the damage of knowing that someone had only bedded me because of beer goggles. We were both silent after that for a long time, until I pulled up in front of his apartment building. He opened his car door immediately and threw himself out onto the street. At first I was sure it was because he felt shamed at embarrassing himself by throwing himself at me, and then having a loathly little toad like myself say no. But that wasn't it.

"I thin' ish time to review inputs," he said. Then, leaning on the hood of the car for support, he puked long and hard. I put a hand on his shoulder to steady him. Once the contents of his stomach, mostly liquid, were on the pavement below, he kept gagging, shuddering with the amazing force that a body could produce. The first wave of puke had been an impressive spray of projectile vomit. It'd even touched a car six feet away with some spatter. When he finally stopped, Mulder wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, but he was struck speechless.

"Let's get you upstairs, Mulder," I said. It was a bit of a comedy of errors, steering him into his elevator, then down the hallway. He was one luscious, long drink of water, and even if I was going to keep turning him down, I certainly appreciated the chance to get this close to his lean, muscular body. He seemed too worn out to joke or make any more passes. Maybe that was all for the best. At number 42, I took out his keys and fiddled with them until Mulder pointed at one. It unlocked the door and I let us in. Mulder's home sweet home. The fish tank gurgled merrily. He'd left the television on. For the fish to watch maybe? I guided him to his bathroom.

"You going to be okay now, Mulder?" I asked. He just stood there, as if the porcelain fixtures were alien to him.

"Don' go, Fro," He pleaded. In the face of my silence, he added, "You won' tell anyone what an ash I made of myshelf, will you?"

He really thought I wasn't interested, I realized. He thought I was pissed off because he'd made a drunken pass at me and I'd deflected it. And that prison of loneliness he was locked in had just had brand new, more effective than ever locks installed in it. I was adding to his troubles by leaving him alone.

"Look, Mulder," I said, as gently as I could, guiding him away from the bathroom that he obviously didn't want to use at the moment. His bedroom was just a few feet away and I steered us towards that. "Normally I'd be very flattered that a guy like you would even give a guy like me a second glance. But you're very drunk, tired and lonely. And I am a gentleman. I'll tell you what, you go to sleep. I'll sleep on your couch. In the morning, when you're sober, you can either make me coffee and thank me for the ride home, no hard feelings on either side, or you can try and talk me into your bed again. But you're not making any kind of decision in an alcoholic haze. You owe me that much at least, if you really think you want me."

He seemed relieved, but only slightly. At least I wasn't mad at him, but then, he hadn't really gotten what he'd come looking for tonight- company. "My bed. Sleep with me, Fro. Jus' sleep. I promise. I can be a gentleman too," he said.

I don't know what fit of madness struck me. I said yes. Getting ready for sleep was the work of a moment for Mulder. He shed his jeans and shoes and slid into the bed wearing henley and gray knit boxers. For me it was a bit more complicated. First I bustled around getting Mulder water and aspirin, in preparation for how he was bound to feel in the morning. I took off jacket, then vest. The half gloves. My boots. All of that. I was about to get into bed wearing my pants still when Mulder noticed.

"Top drawer. 'jamas if you want 'em," he said, vaguely indicating a dresser.

I pulled open the indicated drawer and pulled out a pair of pajama bottoms. They were thin and pale yellow. Somehow, just the sort thing I could picture Mulder wearing. Such a garment was not for the likes of Melvin Frohike, though I'd have given a great deal to see Mulder wearing them. Further search revealed a plain blue pair, fabric not too thin. I changed into them. I only had to roll the bottoms of them up three times. Not bad.

Then I crawled into bed next to Mulder. It'd been years since I slept the night with someone. I'd forgotten how warm another body in bed is. I thought Mulder had drifted off already, but when I scooted in behind him, he snuggled back into me. It seemed natural to put an arm around his chest and draw him closer. His hair tickled my nose a little, but it smelled good. He sighed with something approaching happiness and I kind of felt it too. I wasn't sure what tomorrow morning would bring. Would he be horrified to wake up and find that the prince of the night before was really a toad in his bed? Would he remember how I'd gotten there at all? Would he be ashamed that he'd reached out for the first warm body he'd stumbled across last night? For that matter, I wasn't sure what I thought of this. Sure, it was more fantasy fulfillment than I'd ever expected, but sometimes, it wasn't such a good thing to have your wishes granted.

But when Mulder reached up and intertwined his fingers with mine, I realized, that for just this moment, none of that mattered. We were together, sharing a moment, pushing back the loneliness. I loved this man for years in a way that had nothing to do with sex or fantasies, and that was a good enough reason to let him sleep in my arms tonight. It occurred to me that I'd risked my life before for him, but I'd never before granted him this kind of closeness. Maybe it was time, no matter what decision the morning would bring.

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