Frohicke let out a low whistle.
"So, that's Alex Krycek," he said and went to set the bolts on the door.
"Yah," said Byers. "I was beginning to wonder if Mulder wasn't embellishing."
"Apparently not," said Frohicke. "In fact, truth is stranger.... Isn't that right, Langly?"
Langly did not reply. He simply stared in Kryeck's wake.
"Oh, right, yeah," said Langly, still staring where Krycek had stood moments before. "Stranger. It's definitely stranger."
Then he said softly, to no one in particular:
Frohicke seemed to feel this deserved a response.
"Don't be ridiculous, Langly. If you were Frankenstein, you'd have metal bolts in your neck...."
"Frankenstein wasn't the monster, Frohicke," said Byers, tidying up the room. "He was the monster's creator."
"Gee, Byers," muttered Langly. "Rub it in, why dontcha?" He turned away sadly and dropped into a chair.
Byers became more seriously concerned.
"Uh, Langly, is there something wrong? I mean finally meeting Krycek is sort of a big deal and all but you seem...."
"Look, guys," Langly replied. "This ISN'T the first time I've met Alex Krycek, OK?"
Langly was silent again.
"Yeah," said Frohicke. "I thought I noticed him kinda looking at you funny, too. But usually, when people do that, I figure they're just trying to remember when the band on your t-shirt last recorded...."
"But Langly, if you met him, why didn't you tell us?" This was Byers.
"Because I just had no idea that the Alex I used to know was Alex Krycek," Langly answered sadly. "I mean Alex Krycek is a murderer...."
"...And a liar...." said Byers.
"And a...what is it again?" said Frohicke.
"Coward," said Langly, grimacing slightly as he said it.
Frohicke was not convinced.
"Really? Coward? You're sure it's coward? I thought maybe it was 'sneak.' From the stories Mulder tells, Krycek doesn't really seem like a coward. Really narcissistic maybe...."
"It's coward, Frohicke," said Byers, settling the matter. "At least according to Mulder."
"Right," said Langly. "But the guy I knew was...well....very nice...and just for the record, probably not a coward. If I thought he was a coward, I never would have suggested...."
Silence again. Frohicke cleared his throat.
"OK, anyway...." Langly began. "Do you guys remember that bar over in Georgetown? It wasn't a gay bar, really. More of an artist's hangout but...you know. If you wanted to meet people you could meet people...and, if a dude wanted to meet a dude.... But that wasn't really what the bar was for.... Well, I was over there one evening a few years back...."
"Oh God," said Frohicke. "I think I can see where this is going."
"Quiet..." said Byers. "Let him tell it. Obviously, he needs to tell it."
"Right," Langly continued. "Well, one evening I was over there on a slow night- the place was nearly empty, people kinda drifting in and out saying 'hi,' meeting up with friends and moving on, you know. I think there were a couple of things happening at the university but I can't remember what. I'd been sitting toward the back, yakking with Doris from Amnesty about the Japanese internment but she left- I think there was some kind of movie they were showing- and I noticed this tall, really good-looking guy in a tweed jacket, t-shirt and jeans- yeah, I really noticed him, right away- sitting at the bar. He was talking to the local mad artist- a dude who did metal sculpture, you know, welding...."
Langly paused for a moment as the memory unfolded.
"Now, Welder was pretty decent looking dude, too," he went on. "Dark hair, fair skin, dark cloths. But the regulars all knew to avoid him because, well, the word was he took meds and would start drinking and get belligerent when he went off them. Not that you could really tell that Welder was drunk until he'd suddenly lose it. I got the impression that the evening would often end for him when the bartender cut him off after two or so beers and he'd stalk off in a huff looking for a place that would serve him more. I think the theory was that Welder was already a few drinks ahead when he got there. There was a rumor that Welder'd been in prison a couple times, too. And everyone who knew the place knew that he was on bar probation because they'd had to throw him out a few weeks before for ranting at this lesbian couple who didn't want a three-way. That was typical. He was always only interested in one thing, really- with anybody. Well, one thing besides making something ugly for your front lawn. See, those sculptures of his were repulsive. Butt ugly. The word was, he started doing them in jail as part of his rehabilitation. Birds pecking each other's eyes out and stuff like that, fish heads, naughty bits, too, sometimes, with rust in gross, suggestive places...all over-sized for people's gardens.... I remember him saying in one of his more lucid moments that he wanted to create things to offset the beauty of nature, which for some reason annoyed him. Dude used to rag about crap like 'the bourgeois artificiality of flowers' and...."
"Um...Langly...." said Byers. "Tangent?"
"Oh right, right. Well, I just about noticed that the mad welder had his hand on the handsome guy in the tweed's knee when the guy in the tweed very gently pulled Welder's hand off him and pushed it away. And then welder guy, as anyone who knows him would expect, loses it and starts yelling "You faggot!!! You prick teasing homo!!!!" But then Welder throws a punch- that was extreme even for him. The guy in the tweed, he was obviously pretty stunned by the whole thing but he was fast enough to dodge. But then Welder breaks his beer bottle on the bar and goes after Tweed with that and they end up sort of wrestling for it. Tweed obviously knows how to take care of himself but Welder's really strong, really drunk- that was obvious by now- but really strong. Tweed, meanwhile, didn't have a chance to take the jacket off and that was getting in his way. Anyway, the bartender's just standing there with the bar between him and the problem- this isn't the sort of place where these things happen, you understand. These people all know their gesso from their gouache. And the bartender's yelling for the bouncer but I think the bouncer must have gone off to take a piss. I mean everything seemed so quiet and so normal not too long before."
"So what did you do, Langly?" asked Frohicke. "Shriek and run from the room?"
"Hardly," said Langly. "Keep in mind, this was before I let Byers chain me to a desk for ten years- back when I could still do something in a fight other than hurt myself, back when I could still cha-cha. Anyway, I decided do the gallant thing and intervene because Tweed and Welder were now rolling around on the floor. The welder's screaming 'faggot' and 'eat glass you queer'- I really couldn't tolerate that, regardless- while the tweed guy's yelling at him in a language I thought might be Polish and trying to spit and bite or land a kick in the dude's jewels or just about anywhere he could. Tweed was really tenacious, holding his own pretty well, in fact- but they still had that friggin' bottle. If I were a different kind of person, I might have found it sort of fun to watch, especially Tweed, who was really cute and doing pretty well on his own... But the thing was, when Tweed would try to get the bottle out of Welder's hand, it would hit something and break some more, get more jagged and get glass on the floor- which really wasn't safe. So, I took my glasses off and when Welder seemed to be half on top, I grabbed onto his arm and his shoulder and said, "May I cut in?" Then I tried to pull Welder off which I sorta did but Welder's a big dude and there was still the bottle. But I managed to land a punch on Welder's face- that sort of distracted him- and Tweed got a hold of the bottle- it turned out he almost broke Welder's wrist in the process. And then the three of us kinda tussled around on the floor a bit and knocked over some chairs getting Welder under control but the next thing I knew, I've got Welder's legs and Tweed's got his arms. And the bouncer's back and he's looking around at the furniture and the glass and us and Welder, sort of going 'Oh? Oh! Uh-oh....' Tweed's still holding Welder's arms down, meanwhile, and yelling at the bouncer in perfect English 'just what the hell do you do around here- maybe they should pay blondie there instead?'"Blondie," of course, was me. I think I sorta fell for Tweed at that point. Well, the bouncer finally helped us keep a hold of Welder and then the cops were there, telling us they're going to take over. So Tweed and I ended up having a couple drinks to calm down and a little chat..."
"Tweed was Alex?" asked Byers.
"Right. Anyway, Alex and I ended up drinking and chatting while the police were tying up loose ends. I guess it was pretty obvious to the cops that Alex and I didn't start the fight. The bartender and I both vouched for the fact that Alex wasn't coming on to Welder, Welder was coming on to him. Welder was just inflicting himself on the prettiest dude in the place, I think I said. And Alex said something about how the jerk just couldn't handle rejection. He seemed sorta butch when he said that. Anyway, we got to chatting and it turned out the language wasn't Polish, of course, it was Russian and Alex was the real article. Aleksander. Sure, he sort of fussed a little about the jacket being damaged and it being vintage but I thought he was kinda cute when he did that and he didn't forget to thank me about the fight- dude's got good manners or he did back then. Anyway, there I am talking to this really handsome guy, telling him about my problems with my electronics company and he's telling me about how he's working for an accounting firm and getting ready to take the last part of the CPA exam..."
"Wait, wait. Wait just a mine-noot there," said Frohicke. "Are you saying that Alex Krycek WAS AN ACCOUNTANT?"
"What's so odd about that, Frohicke?" said Byers. "You drive a cab and walk those dogs. I still work as a librarian occasionally. Everyone has to eat."
"I know that but an ACCOUNTANT?"
Langly cleared his throat this time. "Speaking of tangents...."
The other two shut up.
"Anyway, by the time the cops got done talking to us- with the cops telling us that we probably didn't have to worry about charges 'cause Welder seemed to have violated his parole just about every possible way he could and Alex and me telling them that we hoped the bar revoked Welder's privileges permanently blah, blah, blah- well the place was closing and I guess we were feeling pretty good and Alex asked me if I wanted to go home with him. Alex said he'd never known anyone actually called 'Ringo' before- I think that appealed to him. And we had this tremendous chemistry going from the fight, too, I guess. Anyway, Alex had a really cool place back then- kinda small and a little funky but he didn't own much and kept it petty tidy but not fussy at all. I mean, he seemed like a really nice guy. He had a gray tabby cat- a really friendly cat named "Clovis,"- and an amazing black and white poster of Grace Kelly and stuff from trips he'd taken to different countries. I mostly remember the Russian stuff. I think about a third of the books he had were in Russian and he had a couple of those Russian nesting dolls- really neat ones, I remember taking them apart. Oh yeah and a working samovar. He said it was from his family. We made tea with it in the morning and...."
"Morning? In the MORNING? You were STILL THERE IN THE MORNING?" Frohicke again. "Excuse me, Langly, but did you or did you not SLEEP WITH ALEX KRYCEK?"
"Oh yeah. I thought I said that already."
"No," said Byers. "No you didn't. You just kept mentioning that he was cute."
"Well, he was." Langly's voice had briefly taken on a purring quality that faded before he continued. "OK then, yeah. Actually, we were sort of all over each other the minute the door closed- I didn't really look around the place until later. And he called me a few days afterward to catch a movie but we couldn't figure out anything we both wanted to see, so we just had coffee and he gave me some good advice about the business- either face up to running it or face up to closing it- and we went back to his place again. Then a few days later, I brought over some of the business paperwork because he offered to help. He seemed like a really nice man- very gentle and patient actually. But, obviously, there must have been a side of him I just never saw. I mean sure, he could get bitchy when things didn't go his way, but then can't we all? What I keep thinking about, though, is that fight in the bar. Alex fought Welder with everything he had- really dirty, like an animal. He had to or Welder would have crushed him in two seconds and cut him up- dude would have crushed both of us, maybe- but as it was I'm not totally sure Welder would've won even if I hadn't helped.... So, yeah, I guess maybe, in a way, I did see it. I mean, I'm wondering now...what if Alex...decided to, well, live his life like that for some reason?"
Langly paused again. This time he looked strangely embarassed.
"Uh, anyway," he continued quickly, as if to reassure himself, "back then Alex didn't seem like that kind of person. But there I was with my so-called business records. I could hardly stand to balance my check book or look at a tax return, the business had gotten to be such a headache- and I had stuff like receipts in shoe boxes and a ledger full of stuff scribbled on post it notes but he just spread it all out his bed and sort of treated it like a puzzle. Me, I just played with Clovis, watched TV, worked on some stuff for a D&D game I was running and made sure Alex was comfortable. I made a run to the grocery store for him, for instance. I thought that was the least I could do. When he was done, he explained some more stuff to me over Chinese take out. Like I said, he was so patient. He'd worked in accounts receivable for a while and gave me some advice about collecting debts and dealing with creditors- that really helped. He didn't bat an eye at the fact that some of my merchandise might not be strictly legal, either and even had some good advice about that. Then he gave me a few referrals because he thought I'd probably need a Maryland CPA to dot the i's and cross the t's if I was going to liquidate. And, you know, even that was sexy."
"Oh yeah," said Frohicke. "Real sexy. I know when I was trying to dump my homemade cable descramblers, I used to have to rub myself all the time."
Byers stared at him. With Frohicke you could never really be sure....
"That was sarcasm, Byers. So Langly back to your financial fetish....There's Krycek on the bed fondling your check stubs and whatnot...giving you a full audit...."
"Yeah well," Langly said, "at least I managed to avoid a bankruptcy, unlike SOME people. And y'know, Frohicke," he added peevishly "at times you seem awfully interested in certain things for a guy who isn't into dudes...."
"Did you just bat your eyes at me, Langly? What can I say? Sure, two gals would be better. But love's a beautiful thing. I just like to observe it...in detail...."
"Whatever," Langly replied. "Anyway, yes, I WAS still there in the morning. Again. But it was sort of getting apparent that Alex and I didn't have that much in common. Well, OK, that's not really fair. We had...a definite rapport. We just had...different tastes and hobbies. And that was a problem. I mean, apparently, my hobbies are very important to me.... I never really noticed it before Alex but that's mostly how I connect with people- how every career I've ever had started, too. I guess I should tell you- when I saw Alex here tonight and realized who he was, my first thought was that he must have been playing me back when we were together to find about the work I was doing with you guys. The fact is, though, he would have found out more about our work just by subscribing to THE LONE GUNMAN than he did hanging around with me because he and I never really talked about that stuff much. He didn't try to GET ME to talk about it, either, if you're wondering. Now, I don't mean it was like Alex and I couldn't have a conversation. We had some pretty good conversations, in fact. He probably knew more about me and my failed efforts as an entrepreneur than anyone- even you guys. And he's got a really inquisitive mind- if anything about him is genuine, I'd swear, that is. He can chat about all sorts of subjects. But it wasn't like he was trying to insinuate himself into my life. Far from it. What I'm trying to say, is it was more like we lived in different worlds- completely separate activities- and I, occasionally, would get to visit this really beautiful foreign place that was Alex. Well, I don't know how long something like that can last. And there was something else about him that...CONFUSED ME.... See, Alex mentioned that he would occasionally go with women. That wasn't something I could really understand then- this was before I knew Mulder very well. You know, doing both, not really settling on one or the other- back then, I just couldn't get that. I mean Alex didn't seem to be a slut and he wasn't in the closet and he definitely wasn't a psycho like Welder...."
"C'mon, you know how it is, Langly," said Frohicke. "Any port in a storm. I've seen you look at a woman now and then, fer instance- that pathetic helpless kitten look you get, the whole deal.... And I can also tell you that a thoroughly heterosexual guy can really bond with another guy over...certain kinds of artwork...."
"Uh...Frohicke...?" said Byers. A somewhat distressing possibility had just occurred to him- regarding a particular other guy and that certain kind of artwork....
"Never mind...Langly, you were saying..."
"Well," said Langly, "it's not like Alex and I really had problems. We mostly had a lot of fun, in fact. It's just that we never really got serious. I don't think he was at that point in life- Alex was sorta young, then, remember. And the truth is I think I had issues because it's kind of difficult to be with someone gorgeous when you're not. You know, I suppose I could have gone farther into Alex's world. I could have taken more of an interest in art films, maybe taken an occasional trip to a gallery or a museum or something. It's not like I was totally uninterested. And y'know, I could have tried to look a little less like I never left my basement- toned down the t-shirts, maybe gone to one of those vintage stores Alex liked, maybe even gone with him, maybe tried a pony tail. Probably, it wouldn't have been a bad thing, as long as I didn't have to give up my own interests. It might have even been good for me. But the thing is, I didn't think that I could ever possibly look like I belonged with him regardless of what I did. We'd always be Toad and Swan. That was kinda dumb because Alex didn't seem to have a problem with me. We had this chemistry- you just can't put it into words. He told me he wanted to...get together again, that very first night. And he even told me once that anyone who didn't think I was attractive just hadn't.... um, never mind...."
Again Langly stopped. His hand moved through his long, pale mane self-consciously.
"Alex even seemed to like the hair," Langly said with a sigh. "That's important, you know. Well, the guy had that huge poster of Grace Kelly. So I guess he'd go for blonds. Duh. And he'd traveled all over- he'd been around Eastern European jazz musicians and dudes like that. So maybe I didn't seem as odd to him as I thought I did. It's hard to explain. Sometimes I felt like he thought of me as some kind of exotic, goofy pet but he seemed...to really NEED that. Remember how I lived in my van back when I was going around doing trade shows? Being with someone who did things like that really turned him on, I think. But that made me wonder about some things. I mean, dudes in accounting don't usually stop by that bar, for example. And Alex wasn't stupid about people so why'd he give the time of day to a loose cannon like Welder anyway? Little walk on the wild side, maybe? And then there was me. I may not exactly be the wild side but he seemed to really crave...I don't know...NOVELTY. I saw him dressed for work one morning- in his suit and his tie- and he looked very handsome, of course, but it just didn't seem, you know, natural. Anyway, eventually, I sort of got busy with other things- what with you guys and closing LanglyVision and all. And that was when I met Chad- you remember Chad, the sweet chubby guy with the really cool magic-user thief. Now, there was never anything about Alex and me not seeing other people- I know Alex did, in fact. And I kept running into Chad at everything.... About then Alex called me to say he was moving to Richmond- he'd gotten a job as somebody's executive assistant, he said- and then we lost touch. Well, Alex did call me when he officially made CPA....I think he did say something then about not being sure what he was going to do with it because he was taking a break from corporate life...but it seemed so...innocuous.... And we said something vague about maybe getting together to celebrate sometime...but we didn't and, it turned out, that was it. What's it NOW, Frohicke?"
"Um.... I think I remember this. This is that oh-so-very-hot yuppie you were seeing for about five minutes back there- the one we never met. You remember, Byers. I tried to get you to bet on how fast it'd be over. So the thirty-two-year-old virgin actually scored...."
"Oh man, Frohicke," Langly groaned. "Again with that? Where do I start? Um, I wasn't thirty-two, then...and...I might not have had a whole lot of practice...but I sure as hell WASN'T a virgin...."
"Langly," said Frohicke "you can live to be a hundred and do people on the office copier and run off pictures. You'll still be a thirty-two-year-old virgin. It's just who you are. So the yuppy was Alex Krycek? Astounding. Personal assistant, huh? Sounds like he found a sugar daddy, if you ask me.... But let's just be clear on this. You didn't just...screw Krycek a couple times, did you, Langly? You actually were....ah...."
"Dating him...." said Byers.
"Oh yeah, briefly," said Langly. "I don't think we saw each other much more than half a dozen times, if that. Really, I feel like an idiot. See, here's the thing. At some point, I realized that Alex told me his last name that first evening but I never really caught it. I guess I was sort of overwhelmed. But it was really embarrassing. Not something you bring up when this gorgeous guy is organizing your business records and trying to be comforting about your back taxes. It's definitely not the kind of sweet nothing you whisper when you're, well, rolling around without too many clothes on, swapping spit and...you get the picture...."
Frohicke made a barely audible "woo" sound.
"Yes, I'm afraid I do," said Byers, very audibly.
"Uh sorry. Anyway, he didn't have his full name on his answering machine, either- just 'hi, this is Alex, please leave a message' and what I took to be the gist of that repeated in Russian. I figured I'd just get it off his doorbell when I remembered to but then, like I said, I got busy. And I really should have figured it out it was him when Mulder said Krycek was using a locker at Capital Ice. See, Alex used to go skating there- even took me there once, towards the end. That and the fact that Krycek was Russian. But the creep Mulder described just didn't sound like the same guy I went out with...."
"Well, Mulder always just calls him 'Krycek'," said Frohicke. "It was a while before I was even sure the guy had a first name.... Don't worry, Langly. We're all men of the world. There've been plenty of times I didn't have occasion to get the name of someone I've...known...."
"Gee, thanks," said Langly. "That makes me feel so much better."
"Anything to oblige..."
"Anyway, here's my point," Langly said, finally. "Alex had these...I don't know...INSTINCTS...in certain situations. I guess I saw that in the fight but it wasn't just that. It wasn't just a survival instinct. That gentleness he had was part of it, too, I think. It was like he had this...animal grace...sometimes... Um, I said before that Alex...that he wasn't a slut or anything like that.... But...it was obvious that he...that he knew....that he'd.... OK, my point is...Alex...he was REALLY GOOD in the sack...and...OH GOD...."
"Well, thank you for sharing that with us, Langly," said Byers, getting up. "If that's your point, I think I once again get the picture. And I can certainly see why all of this would be upsetting to you. If you still need to talk I'm sure Frohicke wants to hear all about it but, if you gentlemen don't mind, I think I'll just go to my room and work on the quarterly index before I hear more than I'd care to be privy to...."
"So, what was he into, Langly?" said Frohicke. "I mean, top or bottom?"
"No, no," Langly continued, trying to ignore Frohicke. "Byers, that ISN'T the point. I wouldn't even have mentioned that if it wasn't for what I did...."
Byers stopped short. "What do you mean what YOU did? What did you do, Langly?"
"Was there anything like edible underwear involved?"
Byers looked at Frohicke for a long moment. Just looked at him. So did Langly.
Frohicke shrugged. He went over to the refrigerator and started to rummage around
"Well," Langly said finally. "About the last time I stayed over- this was the time we went ice skating. Alex said it was one of his favorite things and I thought I should go along at least once. OK, it was mostly me watching Alex skate. I mean I skate pretty well but I'm sort of out of practice and he's really cute when he skates...."
"Ooooo.... 'Cute....' Frohicke muttered, his head in the refrigerator. "There's that word again.... Wish I was doing shots...."
"Uh, Langly," said Byers. "You told us there was a point to this?
"Look, it's just a little difficult, OK?" Langly replied. "Well, we finally wound up back at his place and, in the meantime, we'd been to this very authentic Korean restaurant with Alex telling me about all the times he'd been out of the country and the amazing things he'd seen.... Anyway, there we were back at his place and we'd just had...well...totally wild sex and...."
"What?" said Byers.
"And I told him that he really didn't seem like someone who would be happy as an accountant and that, maybe, he should find something...more...EXCITING...to do...with his life.....
"Oh," said Frohicke, pulling his head out of the refrigerator.
"Jeez," said Byers, "Langly, you didn't."
"Oh yeah, I did."
"Langly, look," said Byers after a little thought. "I'm sure he didn't just go and do all those things because of what you said- the murders, the lying...."
"The SNEAKING...." said Frohicke.
"Right..." Byers continued. "I'm sure he would have done them anyway,"
"No," said Langley. "It's even worse."
"What do you mean worse?" said Byers.
"Yeah," said Frohicke, returning to the group empty handed. "What could be worse than you and your pillow talk creating a monster?"
"Well, you see..." said Langly. "WE created the monster."
"We?" said Byers.
"Hey, pal," said Frohicke. "Excuse me, but when you were giving Krycek free career counseling between your little sessions of making the beast with one back, I was nowhere in the room. Diverting as it might have been to watch the two of you bumpin' uglies, I had nothing to do with it."
"No, I'm afraid you did have something to do with it." Langly walked over to a filing cabinet. He dug out an old newspaper.
"See, I also left him this," he said and tossed the newspaper onto the table in front of them. It was a back issue from the early days when their publication still had the longer name. "I did it just to give him an idea of what he might be missing...or, I don't know...maybe so he'd understand my world better...."
Byers and Frohicke stared in horror.
The front page of the newspaper read:
The Lone Gunman's Magic Bullet
MILITARY INDUSTRIAL UFO PROFITEERING: FRONT OR FACT?
"I may be Frankenstein," said Langly, sadly. "But you guys are Igor."
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Title: Magic Bullet, The
Author: Vanya [email/website]
Details: Standalone | PG-13 | 27k | 12/31/05
Pairings: Any LGM/Other
Category: Humor, Relationship
Summary: Langly shares an account of an old flame with the guys. The guys discuss it.
Notes: No spoilers I can think of.
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