Disclaimer: They ain't mine, though I'm not sure CC and 1013 would recognize them as theirs, either.
Summary: Mulder takes up acting (for some reason best known to himself) but runs into a little distraction.
Acknowledgments: This vignette owes its existence to Rachel Lee Arlington and "Gift Box" on two counts: one, the liberation from the need for back story, which I am absolutely no good at, and two, the inspirational line, "If Krycek's wearing mascara Mulder is wearing lip gloss."

Actor's Nightmare
by Sitnah

"Wait! You can't go on stage like that." Mulder pauses at the sound of Krycek's voice behind him.

"Why not?" And how did Krycek manage to get backstage? And why isn't there a gun in his hands like there usually is when he appears behind Mulder unexpectedly?

"Your face--it's too pale. It'll never show up. C'mere." Krycek drops his duffel bag on a table and rummages in it until he finds what he's looking for. "C'mere already!" Krycek holds up his closed hand. Mulder hesitates, then approaches him.

"Krycek, if you're thinking a few good streaks of blood are going to help the audience see me better, I'd just as soon stay pale."

"That's not a good color for you, Mulder. Sit down." Mulder doesn't want to, but he's become fascinated by Krycek's own face. His eyes seem more clearly defined than Mulder's used to seeing them, his lashes--what, thicker? Longer? Without thinking too much about the decision, Mulder drops into a chair as Krycek moves in front of him. "Hold still." Krycek takes the cap off the lipliner and leans in. Mulder glances down at Krycek's mouth and suddenly can't take his eyes off it, the way the teeth are biting into the full lower lip as Krycek concentrates on his hand-eye coordination. "Hold still, damn it!"

"Sorry," Mulder mumbles. Now he registers the thin but firm touch of the pencil tracing the outline of his own mouth. Krycek puts his other hand on Mulder's jaw to hold his face steady. The pencil lifts, starts at the other corner, comes back to the middle again joining the first line, but stays teasingly at the very edge of his mouth, never moving onto the flesh of his lips, which is starting to feel left out. Krycek pauses, stands back, considers for a moment. "Cranberry," he finally declares.

"What?" Mulder is bemused, confused, moving towards dazed. His cheek is cool where Krycek is no longer touching it.

"Cranberry. That's your color." Krycek gets out the little pot and comes back to Mulder, who instinctively opens his knees so Krycek can stand closer. This draws a small smile from Krycek as he squats down and puts the jar on Mulder's right thigh. For a second Mulder thinks Krycek's going to use his finger, and he can already feel the heat, the smoothness of Krycek's skin on his mouth, the accidental catch of the edge of his fingernail, when the narrow brush comes down on his upper lip with the lightest, most fleeting of touches. Then again, and again, and then a faint pressure on his leg as Krycek redips the brush in the color. Under ordinary circumstances Mulder might not even have noticed that, but the feathering on his mouth has made his whole skin so sensitive that he can feel the movement through the bottom of the jar and his jeans. Then the brush is back on his mouth, on his lower lip. Krycek works quickly, deftly, but never pressing down anywhere near as hard as Mulder is starting to need him to. "There..." Krycek surveys the results of his labors. "Do like this." He rubs his own lips over each other, pulling them in and then pushing them out into a pout two or three times. Mulder's eyes follow him but his mouth doesn't. "Mulder! Are you with me here?"

"I don't know," Mulder admits. "Am I dreaming?"

"Is this what I do in your dreams?" Krycek's tone is serious, asking for information.

"No, but maybe from now on..." Did I just say that? I must be dreaming, Mulder thinks. Maybe he didn't hear me...

But Krycek has heard and files it away for later. In the meantime, "Do this," he insists, and this time Mulder does it. "Good. Now open your mouth," and a Kleenex appears between Mulder's lips. "Don't rub, just close--gently!" The paper feels rough and Mulder trembles. "Ah, you smeared it," and Krycek's thumb comes up and wipes just under the left corner of Mulder's bottom lip. Mulder's eyes are wide. Krycek takes his hand away slowly, then puts it back and lets the fingers curl around Mulder's chin, turning his head to the right, to the left. "Yeah, that's good."

After so much staring, Mulder has finally tumbled to what it is that's different about Krycek's eyes: eyeliner, a thick dark line on the strip of skin just above his lashes and just under his eyeballs, where you're not supposed to put it in case it rubs off on your eyes--he must have put it on pretty recently or it would be gone already--and mascara, drawing out what Mulder knows are already good long lashes with a small upward curl right at the end. He imagines them fluttering against Krycek's cheeks, but he knows he isn't going to be catching him blinking anytime soon. Krycek is the queen of staring contests.

Krycek's other hand, the one not moving in little sideways nudges back and forth against Mulder's chin, drops down to screw the lid back on the little pot of lip color. Only, doing this with one hand requires him to push down hard on the whole thing to keep it from sliding away, and his fingers and the edges of his palm dig into Mulder's thigh. Mulder realizes that he needs to take a breath sometime soon, but he's afraid to do it in case it makes Krycek stop what he's doing. Then Krycek's fingers graze against his penis and the breath comes anyway, and a sound with it from somewhere in the bottom of his lungs that he didn't know sounds could come from.

At that Krycek laughs and stands up. He takes both of Mulder's hands and pulls him up as well, then leans in and presses a light kiss on Mulder's forehead before spinning him around and giving him a push in the small of his back, towards the wings of the stage. "You need to get going, Fox--they're waiting for you."

"Don't call me that," Mulder mutters automatically as he stumbles forward, trying desperately to remember what his lines are. One line, any line, hell, he'd settle for remembering what play he's in.

Behind him Krycek is putting his stuff back in the bag. Mulder takes another lurching step. At this point he'd even settle for remembering where the floor is. But not if it means forgetting the warmth of Krycek's hands on his face.

"Hey, Fox--"

"What now?"

"--break a leg." And Krycek smiles sweetly and is gone.

On to 'dentity Crisis