Characters and situations are the property of Cris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting. Used without permission and no infringement is intended. All other contents are copyrighted to the author.
Rated NC-17 for graphic sex.

Mulder In Interzone
by Cody Nelson <>

Fox Mulder ran as if the devil were chasing him. Sweat streamed into his eyes, down his belly, between his legs. His heart fluttered against his chest like a bird beating its wings against the bars of a cage. The pavement seared his burning feet. He knew he should stop. But he drove himself on, running from the past, from the pain, from the lies and betrayals and losses that dogged him always; that sometimes, as now, threatened to overwhelm him.

Today had been a day like so many others. No better, no worse. Another day with Samantha not found, alien abductions not proven, black organization coverups not uncovered. Another day with not one millimeter of progress made. There had been too many days like these lately. He felt as though he were running as fast as he could, and getting nowhere at all. At least, running like this, he could count the street signs and watch the pavement speed by under his feet.

He was a few blocks from his apartment building. The video store he frequented was on the corner. Mulder slowed, turned into the store, and stood bent over, hands on his knees, gasping for breath.

"Mulder, sweetheart, you look like hell." The video store clerk, a skinny youth with bleached hair growing in ragged patches between shaved strips, arms covered with tattoos, and a ring in his nose, grinned at Mulder.

"Yeah, and you're a vision of beauty, Roach." Mulder straightened up and went over to the counter, still panting.

"What can I do for my favorite customer tonight, Mulder?"

"I need something extreme. Show me some extreme possibilities, Roach."

"Sweetie, I have something new for you. I thought of you when I saw it." Roach disappeared into the back of the store for a few moments, then returned with a garish hot pink video box. He handed it to Mulder with a knowing smirk.

Mulder looked at the box. There were three people pictured on it. A red-haired woman wearing a very skimpy tee-shirt bent towards the front, lips pursed, eyes closed. Behind her stood two men--one tall, thin, and dark; and the other shorter, with long blond hair. _Triple Whammy_, it was called.

"Every possible combination you can think of," Roach enthused. "And a couple you probably thought weren't. Possible, I mean. A little rough stuff, but not too much. I know you don't go for anything too heavy. I think you're really going to like this one."

Mulder nodded. "Thanks, Roach. I'll take it." He dug in his sweat pants pocket for his wallet.

Roach took Mulder's store card and rung up the rental. "Have fun. Don't sprain your wrist."

Mulder gave him a sour smile and took the black plastic case.

Back in his apartment, Mulder heeled off his sneakers, dropped the video on the coffee table, and went into the kitchen. He needed a shower but he didn't feel like taking one. He wanted to be dirty tonight. He'd just make a quick sandwich, then settle in for a night of serious, solitary debauchery.

He rummaged around in the refrigerator. God, he was sick of grilled cheese--but, as usual, there was nothing else to eat. He put the block of cheddar cheese on the counter, and absently reached into the dish drainer for a knife.

The blade sliced into his hand at the base of his thumb. Swearing, he jumped back, tucked his injured hand under his arm, and stamped his feet. Tears sprang to his eyes. It wasn't the pain so much as it was the frustration of one more thing gone wrong in an all-around bad day.

In the bathroom, as he cleaned and bandaged the cut, Mulder tried to calm himself. Being tired and distracted led to carelessness. Accidents happen when people are least capable of coping with them.

But he'd lost his appetite. He put the cheese back in the refrigerator and went into the bedroom to find his worn copy of _Naked Lunch_. He wanted to wallow in the depths tonight. He wanted to fuck himself senseless.

Mulder took the book into the living room, put the tape in the VCR and lay down on the couch. He opened the book at random and began to read. With his photographic memory, he hardly had to look at the page. He just picked a paragraph and let his brain play it back to him. On the television screen, the two male roommates opened their door to the new neighbor, a ripe young woman with red hair. While the blond roommate went to the store for beer, the dark-haired man and the new neighbor got to know each other on the couch. By the time the blond returned, the redhead's legs were up around the tall man's shoulders, and he was pumping into her wildly.

Mulder breathed deeply, switched the book into his left hand, and slid his right hand under the waistband of his sweat pants. He ran his hand over the mound of flesh confined by the tight elastic cloth of his jockstrap, rubbing gently at first, then more firmly.

In the book, a Mugwump hangs a boy by his neck and sodomizes him. On the tape, the blond boy kneels between his roommate's legs, and slides a hand between the dark man's thrusting hips. Mulder worked his hand under his jockstrap and gripped his hardening cock. The blond boy finds a tube of lubricant (conveniently sitting out on the end table) and spreads it in his roommate's ass. Mulder stroked the base of his cock, gathered his balls into his hand. He shifted his hips, hung his left leg over the back of the couch, and tried to get his fingers down further to probe his own anus. The jockstrap was too tight. The edges of his bandage caught on the cloth.

Mulder laid the book down on his chest, pulled his hand out of his pants, and lifted his hips so he could work his sweat pants down and off. He dropped them onto the floor next to the couch. His jockstrap soon followed. He picked up the book with one hand and stroked his cock with the other. He read about Interzone's K.Y. industry, while on the screen, bodies slippery with K.Y. were coupling (or was it tripling?) with noisy enthusiasm. Now the blond boy was on his hands and knees between the woman's legs, tongue lapping at her thighs, while the dark man lay beneath, sucking hungrily at the blond's cock. Mulder began pumping his own cock, thrusting his hips in time with the blond's thrusts into his roommate's mouth. The bandage on his hand scratched the tender flesh of his cock. He didn't usually like rough games, but tonight, the light, tickling pain excited him.

The dark man took the redhead from behind. The blond boy spanked his roommate, who continued to thrust into the woman. Mulder tossed the book onto the coffee table, and began to concentrate on bringing himself off. Sweat dripped down his face. His already-damp tee-shirt clung to his chest. His grip on his cock tightened, rubbing the bandage harder against the shaft. Sweat trickled beneath the bandage, stinging the cut. He ignored the pain and continued to slide his hand up and down. He lifted his hips, and reached his other hand beneath himself, forcing a finger into his anus.

The dark man lay on his back. The woman straddled his chest and thrust herself forward so he could tongue her. The blond knelt between the other man's legs, lifted them so he could thrust into the dark man's ass. The sweat on Mulder's hand loosened his bandage. He lifted his hand to his mouth and pulled the bandage free with his teeth, then dropped it to the floor on top of the sweat pants and jockstrap. Careless of the blood that mingled with the sweat and other fluid on his cock, he resumed caressing and stroking himself, now gentle, now hard; first slow, then quick; all the while pressing his other finger deeper and deeper into his ass.

He was moaning now, gasping for breath. He arched his back and thrust into his own hand. The cut on his hand burned. The heat and pressure built in his groin. The dark man on the television cried out. Milky white cum spurted from the blond boy's cock. Moments later, Mulder's own cock released its stream of milky fluid. It spilled onto his belly and tee-shirt. A few drops reached his face. He could feel the muscles in his ass contract on his fingers.

Mulder sighed, letting his fingers slide out of his ass, and bringing his other hand up to his mouth to taste the salty mixture of blood and sweat and semen smeared there. Drowsily, he felt himself relax and sink into the cushions of the couch. And sink. And sink.

And sink.

Mulder groaned, and stretched. His neck was stiff; he'd slept on it wrong. The couch seemed awfully hard. And damp. He reached out an arm.

And touched something wet, and yielding.

Mulder sat up, suddenly. He was not on his couch, in his living room, or even in his apartment. He was in an alley, on the hard ground. Mulder pushed himself to his feet, staggering slightly. It was dark, but there was illumination from street lights beyond the opening of the alley. He was surrounded by the usual alley debris--cardboard boxes, wet leaves, garbage cans. Soft things squelched beneath his bare feet. The concrete was wet, as if from rain, but the sky was presently clear and the air was still and close. Which was lucky for Mulder, as he was still dressed exactly as he had been when he'd fallen asleep--in a damp, sweat- and semen-stained tee-shirt, and absolutely nothing else.

He looked around for something to cover himself with. Of course there was nothing. He was not sure he would want to touch himself with anything he found in this squalid alley, anyway. He walked out to the street.

It was no street in Washington, D.C. that he'd ever seen. The buildings were old and crumbling. Fully a third of the street lights were out. It seemed deserted. There was not a car, either parked or driving, in sight; nor was there a pedestrian. Most of the buildings were dark. The eerie silence was broken only by the occasional plopping, scurrying sound. Mulder looked down at his feet. A cockroach the size of a large rat tapped his foot with a feeler. He jumped, falling back against the rough brick of the building behind him. The cockroach seemed to peer up at him, then it disappeared into the alley. Mulder stood shivering, arms wrapped around himself, testicles shrinking tightly against his body. <And here I thought I was having a bad day,> he thought.

He forced himself to breathe slowly and deeply. He didn't know what had happened or where he was, but those questions could wait. The first thing to do was find a phone and call Scully. . . . Well, maybe not Scully. She'd seen him in some pretty bad situations, but he didn't know if he wanted her to see him like this. Maybe he could find someone who'd lend him a pair of pants. In any case, he couldn't just stand in this alley all night.

He picked a direction at random and began to walk. If he didn't find a phone soon, he'd just pick a building with a light on and start knocking on doors. <Hello, I'm lost, please call the FBI. . . .> Several more of the large cockroaches skittered past his feet.

A man walked around the corner and came towards him. He was at least six and a half feet tall and rail-thin--taller and thinner than Mulder--and wore a brown suit and brown fedora. He smiled at Mulder as he approached. But it was a thin, cold smile that did nothing to reassure.

"Excuse me, can you help me?" Mulder asked.

"Perhaps. If help is what you're here for." The man continued to smile thinly. He seemed to find nothing strange in Mulder's state of undress.

"I need some pants."

"Then you should have brought some with you."

"If I'd known I was coming, I would have." Mulder was beginning to think that he was not in Kansas anymore.

"Ah. Your first visit. I thought you looked a bit . . . disoriented." The thin man nodded sagely.

"I want to go home."

"If that were what you wanted, you wouldn't be here," he said smoothly.

This was easily the most frustrating conversation Mulder had ever had. "Who are you?"

"Just a friendly local, who likes to greet the visitors."

"But won't tell them anything."

"You haven't asked any of the right questions yet."

Mulder looked down. A cockroach, this one the size of a cat, was scurrying around his feet. He squeezed his toes together, wishing he'd at least kept his socks on. "So . . . what are the right questions?"

"Not that one." The thin man spoke gently. But the cold smile never wavered. "Perhaps I'll see you later." He walked past Mulder, and continued down the street.

Frustrated, Mulder called after him, "What is this place?"

The man stopped, then turned back to Mulder, smiling broadly.


Dana Scully stood outside the door of her partner's apartment. Mulder hadn't come in to work that day; hadn't answered his phone. Mulder might be full of wild ideas, he might be obsessive, he might even be infuriating at times; but unreliable he was not. He'd never been more than a few minutes late in all the time they'd worked together. And Mulder'd been depressed the day before. The case they were working on wasn't going well, and his insomnia had been worse than usual. She'd worried all morning, tried to call him every half hour, then finally, at lunch time, she'd driven here to see what she could find out.

He didn't answer the door. Either he wasn't home, or. . . . Well, no sense standing out here worrying about it. She had a key to his apartment. She let herself in.

There was a stale, musky odor in the apartment. Scully wrinkled her nose and went to open a window. Then she stopped to feed Mulder's fish. She was stalling, she knew, but she couldn't bear the thought of finding Mulder unconscious or worse on the floor of his bathroom or kitchen.

<I'm an FBI agent,> she told herself. <This is my job.> But Mulder was her partner, and more, he was her friend. <Then I should be the one to find him.> She steeled herself and went quickly to the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom (which he used as a den, preferring to sleep, when he slept, on the couch). Mulder wasn't there. Feeling slightly relieved, she went back to the living room to begin a more methodical search. She picked up the book lying open, face down, on the coffee table. _Naked Lunch_, by William S. Burroughs. She smoothed the pages together and put the book back on the table. Then she saw the heap of clothing on the floor between the coffee table and the couch. Jockstrap lying on top of sweat pants. Bloody bandage beside them. She swallowed uneasily and continued her search.

The television was on, showing a blue screen. Scully pushed the eject button on the VCR, looked at the title of the tape. With a slight grimace of distaste, she put the tape back in the machine. She knew about Mulder's taste for porn. Well, the man didn't date, didn't have a life outside of his job and his obsession with finding his long-missing sister--let him get his release with magazines and videotapes, it wasn't harming anyone. But if he'd gotten up and left in the middle of his tape, without even stopping to turn the equipment off--something must have happened. Something urgent and important. Perhaps something dangerous.

She went next to the kitchen. Saw the knife lying on the counter, a few drops of blood beside it. She was increasingly worried, but she couldn't put it all together. What did it all mean? And how was she going to find him?

She needed help, she decided suddenly. And not from the FBI. She picked up the phone and punched out a number.

Interzone. Mulder stared stupidly at the retreating back of the man in the brown suit. That was utterly impossible. Interzone was Burroughs' imaginary city; the lunatic (but literary) ravings of a man strung out on heroin. He must be dreaming; there was no other explanation. If he just stood here and refused to move, he'd have to wake up.

Mulder folded his arms and set his jaw, determined not to participate in this fevered fantasy of his overworked subconscious. But the scene around him did not waver. The sidewalk remained rough and damp beneath his bare feet. The air continued heavy and close. The street lights dropped their unchanging circles of yellow into the street. And he stood there, half naked and helpless.

There was an insistent tickle, then a light pressure on his left foot. He looked down to find the giant cockroach standing half on his foot, waving its feelers up at him. He pulled his foot away. His balls jumped in their sac. "Go away!"

The cockroach scurried a few feet away, then turned to peer up at him with its black insect eyes. It crept back up to him, in little six-inch bursts of motion, stopped a few inches away from his feet, and tapped its feelers on the ground. Then it turned and scuttled off in the same direction, pausing after a few feet to wave its feelers at him again. It repeated this cycle several times.

"Are you trying to get me to follow you?" Mulder asked, feeling incredibly foolish to be talking to a cockroach. But if this was Interzone, an intelligent giant cockroach wasn't that strange a thing at all.

The cockroach waved its feelers at him excitedly. <All right,> he thought. <I'll follow a cockroach. I haven't got anything better to do.>

"Lead on, Lassie," he said, and began to walk down the sidewalk after the creature. It scurried away, pausing every few yards to look back and make sure he was coming; for all the world like a pet dog. Mulder just shook his head and followed.

They passed a number of decaying buildings. Voices drifted down from upper stories, occasional laughter, a few screams--pain or passion, he couldn't tell. Light spilled out of a ground-floor window; as he passed, he looked in to see a small neighborhood bar. Something large and brown and squelchy sat on a barstool, drinking from a glass of honey-brown fluid with a long, black tongue. A Mugwump? Mulder paused, at once fascinated and repelled. The cockroach ran up, tapped frantically at his foot.

"Don't worry, friend. I have no intention of becoming addicted to Mugwump jism." He tore himself away from the strange vision, and continued after the cockroach.

A few blocks later, he passed two people in an alley. A dark-skinned boy stood slightly bent over with his hands against the wall, legs spread and his jeans down around his knees. A middle-aged man in a dirty suit stood between the boy's legs, pumping his cock into the boy's ass. The man, moaning, ignored Mulder; but the boy turned his head to grin nastily at him. Mulder stopped, his own cock bobbing in response. His face burned. There was no hiding an unwanted hard-on when he was walking around like this. The boy said something to him in Spanish. He didn't understand the words, but the tone was mocking. Saying nothing, Mulder turned and hurried on.

The cockroach climbed the front steps of what appeared to be an apartment building; unpainted and sagging, like all the others, with drifts of used condoms, hypodermic needles, and other debris piled into the corners. Mulder stepped carefully around the trash and opened the front door. The cockroach scurried inside and Mulder followed, up two flights of stairs and to an unmarked door halfway down the hall. The cockroach paused in front of the door, tapping it with its feelers. Mulder opened the door and went inside.

It was a small efficiency apartment, all in one room. There was a desk over by the window; Murphy bed on the wall; sink, hot plate, and a small refrigerator--all looking years unused--on the opposite wall. A couple of rickety chairs completed the furnishings. Mulder went to look in the closet hopefully; but it was empty, except for a few misshapen wire hangers. Oh well, at least he felt better to be indoors, and in any case, his state of undress was beginning to assume a sort of dream-quality normalcy.

The cockroach had climbed up onto the desk, and spread its chitinous brown wings, chittering. Its body began to swell and reshape itself; the chittering hardened to a clatter; keys formed on its back. Suddenly, the cockroach was a typewriter; a shiny, rounded, brown typewriter, with little black insect eyes and feelers.

Mulder cleared his throat and swallowed uneasily. "Um . . . are you all right?"

The typewriter keys tapped insistently at the platen.

"Okay, you're the conductor, I'm just along for the ride." Mulder went over to the desk and started pulling drawers open. There was a stack of yellowish typing paper in one; Mulder took a sheet and gingerly inserted it into the typewriter. "Your move," he told the typewriter-cockroach.

<There are rules,> the cockroach typed.

"Okay. What are they?"

<You are here for a reason.>

"What reason?" Mulder grabbed the least flimsy-looking of the chairs, and sat at the desk.

<When you get what you came for, you will leave.>

"How do I know what I came for?"

<You know.>

Mulder sighed. "Look, friend, I just want to go home."

<When you get what you came for, you will leave.>

"I couldn't just click my heels together and say 'There's no place like home'?"

The typewriter-cockroach chittered for a few moments. Laughing? Mulder smiled. Nothing like a cockroach with a sense of humor. "What am I doing here?"

<You are here for a reason,> the cockroach repeated.

"Yeah, yeah. And when I get what I came for I'll leave." Mulder stood and began to pace the length of the room. He must be dreaming; this couldn't really be happening. Drugged, kidnapped, dumped in a strange city he could accept; giant cockroaches turning into typewriters and giving cryptic advice he could not. If he'd been drugged, he'd come out of it eventually. If he was asleep, he'd wake up. He just had to wait it out. But he was tired, damn it, and dirty and hungry and half naked and, much as he liked reading Burroughs' novels, he didn't want to live in one.

Well, perhaps he could do something about being dirty, anyway. The apartment had a bathroom; maybe it had a working shower.

The bathtub was cracked and stained with rust. Not terribly appealing, although under the circumstances he would have been willing to use it. But all that came out of the bathtub faucet was a foul-smelling trickle of brown sludge. The sink faucet was no better. The thin stream of discolored water did nothing but make him thirsty. He looked at his hands, still sticky with sweat and semen. The cut on his right hand oozed blood. But he didn't trust that evil-looking water. He rubbed his hand on his tee-shirt. <If I ever get home, I'm going to burn this shirt.> If he ever got home. .. . He didn't like the sound of that, at all.

The toilet was dry, as well, but he used it anyway. Then he went back into the other room and sat at the desk again. "Please, please, just tell me how to get home." <I'm pleading with a cockroach,> he thought.

<When you get what you came for, you will leave,> the keys clattered.

Mulder pounded the desk top in frustration. "How do I know what I came for?"

<You know.>

Mulder jumped up, knocking the rickety chair over with a clatter, and stormed out of the room. <That's what you get for trying to talk sense with a cockroach,> he thought. <Even one that can turn itself into a typewriter. There have to be some people here somewhere. Someone can tell me where I am, and how to get out of here.>

When he reached the street, he paused. It was still damp and dark and empty. There was not a breath of wind. What kind of place was this? All right, just suppose he had somehow slipped through the cracks of the universe and ended up in William Burroughs' Interzone. Then if a giant cockroach tried to give him advice, he'd better listen to it. There were rules. He was here for a reason. All he had to do was figure out what that reason was, get what he came for, and he could leave. So what was he here for? The cockroach told him that he knew. Well, what did he know?

He knew what he'd been thinking last night, when he sank out of his world and into this one. Well, lying there reading _Naked Lunch_ and watching that video, who wouldn't think about it? He'd been wondering what it would feel like to be the tall, thin man in the video. To be penetrated by more than his own fingers. He'd fantasized about being fucked before. Fantasizing didn't mean he really wanted it to happen. But Interzone was a place of fantasy made real. And perhaps that was what he'd come for--to make his fantasy real.

Frohike hunched over the keyboard like a little troll, peering through his glasses at Mulder's computer screen, searching for clues in the files. Byers, the grim yuppie in a power tie, dug through the papers on Mulder's desk. Lanky Langly, with long blond hair like a woman's, picked up the book on the coffee table, looked at it for a moment, then put it back thoughtfully.

"It just isn't like Mulder to disappear like this." Scully stood by the window. She knew she wasn't telling the men from the Lone Gunman anything they didn't already know. She was just worried; too worried to stand there silent while Mulder's friends went through his apartment, hoping to pick up some clue she hadn't.

"I don't see anything unusual in his files," Frohike commented, pushing his glasses up. "Did he mention working on anything in particular?"

"No. Just the case we're working on. It's not going very well, and he's been a little depressed."

Langly bent to finger the cloth of the sweat pants on the floor in front of the couch. He looked around for a moment, then surreptitiously pocketed the bandage Mulder had left on the pile of clothing.

"How depressed?" Byers asked, looking up from the file, a frown on his studious face.

"Nothing unusual. You know Mulder."

Langly went over to the VCR and pulled out the tape. "_Triple Whammy_. This was here when you got here?"

Scully shot him a look. "Yes, of course."

Frohike grinned. "Not your cup of tea, Scully?"

"Well, I'd hardly stop to watch porno movies while my partner is missing, would I?"

"I think I know where he is." Langly stood with the tape in his hand.

All eyes turned to the blond. Frohike stood. Byers put down the file he was holding.

"All right," Scully said finally. "Where is he?"

"Ah . . . I don't want to say anything until I've made sure. I'll go see if I can find him." Langly headed for the door.

"Wait," Frohike said. "We'll go with you." Scully had already started to put on her coat.

"No. I should go alone. You wait here . . . in case he comes back."

"Langly, what the hell is this?" Byers frowned. "Why all the mystery?"

"Look, it would take to long to explain. And you probably wouldn't believe me anyway. I think I can bring him back, but it might take a while. He'll be all right."

Byers and Frohike looked at each other, then at Scully. She shrugged. "Just find him."

Mulder walked. He kept trying to put his hands in his pockets, forgetting that he didn't have any. Before he'd gone a block, the cockroach was back, skittering around his feet. "What do you want?" he muttered irritably. The cockroach fluttered back and forth before him, tapping its feelers apologetically on the ground.

So. Assume he was right. He'd slipped between to Interzone on the power of his erotic fantasies. He'd go home when he'd fulfilled his most private and unspoken desire. That still left one very pressing problem--whom was he going to fulfill it with? The city seemed populated mostly by cockroaches and Mugwumps. He didn't relish the thought of being touched by any of the men he'd seen here.

<I'm not horny anymore. I don't want to do this. I just want to go home, take a shower, eat a sandwich, and go to sleep.>

"What if I changed my mind?" he asked the cockroach. "I don't want what I came here for anymore. I just want to go home."

The cockroach chittered.

"Yeah, yeah. There are rules."

The cockroach scurried ahead, paused to make sure he was following. He sighed, and walked after it.

They passed the bar where the Mugwump had sat. Mulder looked in the window. The place was now empty. He stood, staring at the lighted interior.

"Mulder! Boy, am I glad to see you!"

Mulder whirled. "Langly! What the. . . . What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you. Man, you look like hell." Langly stood just two feet away, dressed in a tee-shirt and gym shorts, barefoot and grinning.

Mulder looked down at himself. Filthy, tattered tee-shirt, grimy feet and hands. Still no pants. "Yeah, well, I didn't have time to pack. How did you get here?"

Langly held up his right hand, showed Mulder the cut across the ball of his thumb. "Same way you did. Bit of advice, Mulder. Next time you jerk yourself off with a cut on your hand, keep your pants on."

"You didn't happen to bring a spare pair, did you?"

Langly laughed. "Don't worry about it, Mulder. You're dressed fine for the locale. You look just like a native."

"You know this place, don't you? What the hell is it? Where are we, Langly?"

"Interzone, man. We're in Interzone. You've read _Naked Lunch_. Don't you recognize it?"

"Langly. Interzone is a figment of a junkie's imagination."

"Is it? Or did Burroughs just stumble into it, same as we did, and decide to write about it?" Langly folded his arms and leaned against the side of the building.

"And this is what, some sort of heroin-inspired alternate universe, accessed through pornographic videos and self-abuse?" Mulder paced in front of him.

"Blood and semen, Mulder. Death and life. That's some pretty powerful ju-ju. And orgasm is an altered state of sorts, isn't it?

"And every time a guy jerks off with a cut on his hand, he ends up here?"

"Not every time." Langly shook his head. His long blond hair reminded Mulder of the blond boy in the video. "There has to be something else, too. I don't know what you'd call it. Some kind of need. Something you can only get here."

"You've been here before, haven't you?" Mulder stopped pacing and stood before Langly.

"First time was a couple of years ago. Just fell into it by accident, same as you. Spent about three days here, before I figured out how to get back. I come here maybe once every two, three months. It can be kind of fun when you know what to expect. And of course, no one misses me if I disappear for a few days."

"Scully. . . ." Mulder had been so busy worrying about himself, he had never stopped to consider what was going on back in the real world. . . . Of course, he was still half-hoping that this was all a dream, anyway, and he'd wake up on his couch in the morning, no harm done.

"She was worried about you, so she called us. As soon as I saw the book and the bandage and the dirty video, I knew what happened. So I went home and did the deed, and here I am."

"What did you tell the others?" Mulder was feeling a little sick.

Langly laughed. "Nothing. What do you think I told them? Oh, Mulder's fucked himself into a dirty book and probably doesn't know how to get out? And I'm going to go home and slit my thumb and beat off and go find him? No, I just told them I thought I knew where you were and I'd see if I could find you. You tell them what you want when you get back."

"And how do we get back?" Mulder asked wearily. He was afraid he already knew the answer.

"This place is pretty crazy, but it has its rules."

" 'You're here for a reason. When you get what you came for, you will leave.' " Mulder quoted mechanically.

"So, you've already found out. Who told you, the Gatekeeper?"

"No, him." Mulder pointed at the giant cockroach, still scurrying around his feet.

"Him?" Langly laughed. "How the heck did he tell you anything?"

"He turned himself into a typewriter. I stuck in a sheet of paper and he typed it out for me." It sounded almost normal by now.

Langly laughed again, then sobered. "God, Mulder. Your subconscious is really going to liven things up around here."

"I hope not. Who's the Gatekeeper?"

"He's usually around when you first arrive. That's why I call him the Gatekeeper."

"Tall, skinny guy? Brown suit and hat?"

"That's the guy. So you did meet him. Didn't he tell you anything?"

"Told me this was Interzone. But I didn't believe him."

"Well, the cockroach told you the rest. You know the score, Mulder. When you get what you came for, you leave."

"What did you come here for?"

"This time, to find you. To help you get home. What did you come for?"

Mulder paused. "To get fucked."

Langly stared at him for a moment. "Can I help you with that?" he asked quietly.

Mulder took a deep breath. "I wish you would."

Langly smiled gently, reached out to touch Mulder's arm. "I've always wanted to do this, you know."

"No offense, Langly, but I haven't."

Langly just smiled. "Maybe not. But here we are, aren't we? In Interzone, you get what you came for."

Mulder tried to smile back. "I suppose. Can we go inside somewhere? I don't really want to do this in an alley."

"Sure. There's a room back of the bar. You want to go there?"

Mulder thought about the Mugwump sitting at the bar when he'd passed by earlier. What if he came back? The thought of a Mugwump watching him being buggered made him queasy. "There was a Murphy bed in the apartment the cockroach took me to. I don't even know if it's got a mattress. . . . Let's go there, anyway, and see."

Langly nodded agreeably.

Mulder looked at the cockroach. "Well, is there a bed there we can use?" The cockroach chittered and waved its feelers. "Okay, then, take us there."

Langly laughed. "Jeez, Mulder, got yourself a pet cockroach."

"Yeah, well, my apartment building doesn't allow dogs."

The Murphy bed held a stained, lumpy mattress. Mulder didn't think he was going to get anything better. He sat wearily on the mattress. Langly sat beside him, not touching, just companionably near. The cockroach peered up at them, waving its feelers tentatively.

"Do you mind?" Mulder told it. "We'd like a little privacy."

The cockroach's feelers drooped.

Langly laughed. "Oh, come on, Mulder, let him stay. After all, it's his place."

Mulder shrugged. "Oh, what the hell. It seems appropriate, somehow, that my deflowering should be attended by a giant cockroach."

"Shh." Langly ruffled Mulder's hair, let his hand rest on the back of Mulder's neck. "I'm sorry, Mulder. I know you don't really want to do this."

Mulder looked at the man sitting beside him on the bed. Langly was no beauty. But he wasn't ugly, either, just sort of goofy-looking. His most striking feature was his long, shiny, yellow hair. Mulder reached out a hand to stroke that hair, and found that it was just as soft as he'd always imagined it to be. "I want to."

"Well, I sure want to. You are one hell of a sexy man, Mulder." Langly slid his hand down Mulder's back, then under his tee-shirt, rubbing, massaging. Mulder closed his eyes. How long had it been since he'd been touched this way? Kristen Kilar? Dirty movies and solitary sex could only take you so far. Suddenly, sitting in a broken-down apartment on a lumpy, bare mattress with Langly rubbing his back and a giant cockroach in the floor watching them all made perfect sense.

Langly urged him onto his back, stroking his chest, pulling the tee-shirt up over Mulder's chest so that he could bend down to run his tongue around each tender nipple. Mulder sighed, felt the growing heat in his groin. Then Langly sat back, slid off the bed.

"Hey," Mulder protested. "Where are you going?"

"Nowhere. Just getting ready." He stuck his hand in the pocket and brought out a condom and a tube of K.Y., which he tossed onto the mattress. Then he lay down beside Mulder, on his side, head propped up on his elbow to look into Mulder's face.

Mulder picked up the condom. "You came prepared."

"I always come prepared to Interzone. I don't know if you can catch anything here, but I'm not about to find out."

Mulder fingered the condom thoughtfully. "But this time you came to find me. You knew you were going to do this, didn't you?"

Langly's body was smooth and lean and well-formed. His erect cock rubbed against Mulder's thigh through the thin cotton shorts. "I thought it was possible. There aren't that many reasons to come to Interzone." He ran his hand over Mulder's belly.

"When we get back . . . you'd better not ever say a word to anyone about this."

"Don't worry, Mulder, I won't tell. Nobody'd ever believe me, anyway."

Mulder sighed. "I'm sorry, Langly. I'm not being very . . . helpful."

Langly squeezed him in a brief, one-armed hug. "That's okay. Look, why don't we . . . I know, you tell me about how you got here. What you were doing."

"You know what I was doing."

"I know, but . . . tell me about the movie. _Triple Whammy_. What happened in the movie?"

Mulder's face burned. But his cock was already hardening as the images from the tape replayed themselves in his mind. All right, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea. He cleared his throat. "Ah . . . there are two roommates. One guy is tall and dark. The other is younger and blond."

"Okay. Let's call the two guys 'Mulder' and 'Langly.' What are they doing when the movie starts?"

Mulder laughed nervously. "They're at home. Then their new next-door neighbor comes over. She's a good-looking redhead."

"She's gotta be 'Scully,' right? Okay, what happens next?"

"Uh . . . Langly goes out to buy beer. Mulder and . . . Scully start doing it on the couch."

"Okay, you be 'Mulder.' Show me what Mulder does."

"Um, we don't have a Scully."

Langly grinned. "Well, you're just going to have to use your imagination. Unless you want the cockroach to play."

Mulder made a face at him. Feeling extremely foolish, he slowly turned over. Slightly up on his knees, he made a few tentative thrusts into the mattress.

"Wait a second." Langly snagged the tube of K.Y. and squirted some into his hand, then made a circle of his thumb and fingers and rested his fist on the mattress beneath Mulder's groin. "Okay, my fist is Scully. Go for it."

Mulder moved his hips to guide his cock into the slippery ring of Langly's hand. He still felt foolish, but the cool touch of wet fingers on his cock sent shivers of cold fire through him. A little moan escaped him as he started to thrust in earnest.

"So Mulder's screwing Scully on the couch. What happens next?" Langly whispered in Mulder's ear.

"Langly comes home. He sees them on the couch." Mulder panted as he spoke.

"And what does Langly do?" Langly prompted.

"He . . . takes off his clothes and . . . gets on the couch, behind .. . Mulder." He could barely speak. The increasing heat in his groin was making him dizzy.

"Like this?" Langly got between Mulder's legs, pushing them further apart with his knees.

"Yes." Mulder's thrusts quickened. "He starts to rub Mulder's ass."

"Okay. I need both hands to be Langly, now." Langly released Mulder's cock and brought his slick hand around to caress Mulder's bottom. Mulder groaned, started to slide his own hand beneath himself. But Langly caught his wrist and pulled his arm back.

"No, Mulder," he said gently. "You don't do yourself this time. Hump the mattress."

Mulder obeyed, too far gone to object, or to feel foolish any longer. He was helpless to the feel of someone else's hands on him, caressing him, guiding him. He willingly gave up control for the sharply pleasurable touch of fingers on his ass.

"What do they do now, Mulder?" Langly whispered.

"Langly lubes Mulder's ass. And fucks him." He was in a rush, now, to get the words out.

Langly chuckled. "Okay, babe." He continued to rub Mulder's ass with one hand, sliding his thumb between the lean cheeks to press at the tight opening, while he took the tube of K.Y. in his other hand and applied the jelly. Mulder gasped with pleasure, thrusting his hips up. Langly inserted one lubricated finger into Mulder's ass, sliding it in and out. Mulder arched his back, whimpering. Langly continued to stimulate him with one finger, then two, drawing it out until Mulder was writhing helplessly.

Finally, he withdrew his fingers. Mulder lay gasping, hips still making tiny thrusts. "Relax, now," Langly instructed. "Take a few deep breaths. I'm going to take it real slow, you tell me if it hurts." Mulder nodded, unable to speak. He heard Langly tearing at the foil of the condom, felt him moving to put it on. It made Mulder feel warm and protected, knowing that Langly had had the presence of mind to bring and use a condom. It made him feel that he could safely allow this ultimate invasion to occur. He relaxed, ready to be taken.

Langly applied more lubricant, then guided his cock to the opening in Mulder's ass. Gently he pressed, moving his hips in slow circles, working with vast patience to gradually penetrate deeper and deeper. Mulder breathed raggedly. There was a brief sting when Langly's cock finally pushed past the tight muscle, then his body opened and Langly's full length slid into him. Mulder found himself laughing, or perhaps sobbing, with the intensity of the sensations coursing through him. He felt that he was living in a dream; and of course he was. Fantasy made real. It was beyond anything he could have imagined.

Once in, Langly began to thrust steadily. The heat built again in Mulder's cock and balls. Matching Langly's rhythm, he too thrust into the mattress, feeling his climax approach. Suddenly, Langly cried out and drove into him, hard. Whimpering, Mulder continued to thrust, until he felt the powerful spasms of release take him, spilling his semen in fluid bursts onto the mattress. He collapsed, feeling Langly's mouth on his neck, Langly laughing into his ear, as everything went black and he sank deeper and deeper.

And sank.

When he awoke, he knew at once that he was on his own couch in his own apartment again. The familiar cushions surrounded him; the familiar smell tickled his nose. He was home. Not yet opening his eyes, he smiled to himself and wriggled deeper into the cocoon of blankets. It was all just a crazy dream. . . .

The twinge in his ass disagreed. A little noise, more of startlement than pain, escaped him. An answering moan from across the room brought his eyes open.

Scully was stirring awake in the easy chair across the room. "Mulder! What did you. . . . How did you . . . ?"

He pushed himself upright. The blanket fell away, revealing him still dressed only in the now-quite-disgusting tee-shirt. Scully gave a strangled gasp and turned her head. Mulder, face flaming, grabbed his sweat pants off the floor and hurriedly pulled them on.

"Okay, Scully. You can look now."

She turned back slowly, face a mask of embarrassment, relief, confusion, and anger. "When did you come in? And why didn't you wake me?"

"I don't know. . . ." God, how was he going to explain this to her? "A while ago. I guess I didn't see you there. I was pretty out of it."

"I guess I was too." She made a wry face. "So what happened? Where were you?"

His face was still hot. "I don't know how to tell you this. I . . . got lost. I didn't know how to get back. I'm sorry I worried you."

"You got lost." Her beautiful blue eyes bored into him.

"I'm sorry," he repeated, not knowing what else to say.

"Did . . . Langly find you?"

"Yes. He helped me get home. Scully, I . . . I want to tell you. I just don't know how."

She stared at him, considering. Then her face softened. "I don't need to know the details, Mulder. I just need to know that you're all right."

He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "Thanks, Scully. I'm all right. It won't happen again, I promise you." If he went back to Interzone, he could always go on a weekend. But why even go to Interzone? If he felt the need, Langly was right here, and willing.

Scully stood, headed for the door. She paused there. "I'm going to go home and get some sleep. You look like you could use some, too." And a shower, her eyes told him. "I'll call Skinner and explain . . . something. We can go back to work in the morning."

He forced a sickly laugh. God, he knew he tried her patience sometimes. It was a miracle she still wanted to work with him, much less allowed herself to worry over him and protect him. "Thanks, Scully," he repeated, hoping she knew everything hewas thanking her for.

She nodded. "Mulder . . . next time something like this happens, don't go through it alone. You have friends."

"I know," he whispered.

She nodded, smiled sympathetically, and left.

It was several weeks before he felt the need to call on the staff of the Lone Gunman for advice on a case. He'd talked to Frohike a few times on the phone, who'd teased Mulder about his "lost weekend" but obviously knew nothing of what had really happened. Mulder felt very self-conscious greeting Langly, especially with Byers and Frohike looking on. Frohike might be oblivious, but Byers never missed a thing. Fortunately, they seemed to have found whatever Langly had told them sufficient. They razzed him a bit and then let him alone.

When he left, Langly followed him out to the front door. "So, Mulder. Everything okay?"

"Yeah. I guess . . . I never did get a chance to thank you. We split rather suddenly."

Langly laughed. "No afterglow in Interzone. No need, Mulder. It was my pleasure."

"Um . . . look, Langly. What we did was great, and I'm not sorry it happened, but. . . ." Mulder stared at the ground.

"I know, Mulder. You like girls. On tape, anyway." He grinned. "Don't worry about it. If it never happens again, well, we'll always have Interzone. If you do start to feel the itch, though, I'm happy to scratch it. No strings."

Mulder nodded. "Thanks, Langly. It's a big relief to hear you say that." He started to turn away.

"Oh, and Mulder. . . ."

Mulder turned back.

"It doesn't have to be sex, either." Langly looked at him, a serious expression on his face for a change. Then, suddenly, he grinned again. "You know, you may look like a GQ cover, but inside you're just another geek, like the rest of us. Don't be such a loner."

Mulder laughed. "That's very comforting, Langly, I'll be sure to remember that."

"Interzone's always there, too."

Mulder sobered. "I don't know if that's comforting or not."

Interzone. One more dark place for him to fall into. The more Mulder learned about the world, the scarier it got. But he had friends there, too, he had to remember that. Friends who would come and get him out of the dark places when he got lost. For a long time, he had thought there was only Scully. Now there was Langly, too. And Interzone, was it really that bad? You go there for a reason. You get what you came for, and you leave. That's only scary if you're afraid of yourself. Langly went there regularly, for fun. Maybe he'd go there again himself, some day, just to see what it was like when you knew the rules going in. When he was ready, if he was ready, Interzone would be waiting.