Assistant Director Walter Skinner parked his car by a small white house and walked up to the front door. He rang the doorbell and, as he waited, petted the small grey cat sitting there. After a minute, he was about to ring again when the door opened to reveal Agent Pendrell, holding a toothbrush and looking a little foamy about the mouth. The cat slipped past him into the house.
"Sorry," Pendrell said. "I'm almost ready."
"I'm a few minutes early. I've got my coffee in the car, so I'll wait there."
Skinner only had time for a few sips before Pendrell raced out the door, still tying his tie. He slid into the front seat and turned to Skinner. "All ready."
"You have some toothpaste on the side of your mouth."
Pendrell flushed and craned his neck until he could see his face in the side-mirror. He licked off the white blob and straightened his tie, then sat back and tried to relax as Skinner drove.
After several minutes, Skinner pulled the car in at the curb and stopped right by two men standing on the sidewalk, Mulder and Colton. Locked in a close embrace, they didn't seem to notice.
Skinner looked across the front seat to Pendrell and rolled his eyes. "Remind me not to send those two on any stakeouts. I probably shouldn't even be taking them to this seminar, considering this is the result of the last one."
He blared the horn and the amorous agents finally noticed that their ride had arrived. They climbed into the back seat amidst much pushing and helping with seat belts.
"Agent Colton, Agent Mulder, it's handy that you two were meeting to go over some reports this morning so we didn't have to make two stops." Skinner's voice dripped with sarcasm.
Colton and Mulder were already back in Candyland, playing little finger games and making silly kissy faces. In an embarrassingly audible voice, Mulder serenaded Colton, "Tommy, can you hear me? Can you feel me near you? Ooh, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy."
Skinner clenched his jaw and drove off in silence. Pendrell was quiet too, sneaking nervous glances at Skinner while he read the brochure for the seminar.
"Welcome to eXXXcel: Excellence through Sex. I see most of you have already attended our introductory Male Bondage seminar. Wasn't it great?" The lithe, dark-haired man smiled toothily.
"I'm Jacques and I'll be your facilitator today for the next of our MB seminars: Do-It-Yourself B&D, one of my personal favourites..." He broke off as the door opened and a blonde woman strode in.
"Jacques, this is my group. So kind of you to be helpful, but I can handle it."
"Security camera 2," she hissed. "Watch from there but just get out of here."
Smiling brilliantly, she turned to the men. "So sorry to be late. Thanks, Jacques, I'll take it from here."
Casting a sulky look over his shoulder, Jacques left, closing the door rather firmly.
Cathy continued to bubble. "I'm so glad to see you back, Mr. Mulder, Mr. Colton," the bubble turned to a purr, "Mr. Skinner." She favoured the Assistant Director with a smouldering yet perky glance before turning reluctantly away.
"And you must be Mr. Pendrell." She looked over them again. "But where is Mr. Krycek?"
The tension in the room changed noticeably. Mulder scowled blackly as Colton put his arm protectively over Mulder's shoulders and began to murmur in his ear.
Pendrell's lower lip began to quiver and he blinked rapidly, looking down at the floor.
"Mr. Krycek is no longer with our group," Skinner said.
"But he was so good with people! We'll miss him today, I'm sure. I suppose he got promoted and sent somewhere else." Cathy looked down at her notes.
"Do-It-Yourself B&D is about improving your creativity and right brain thinking, as well as learning how to improvise bondage equipment from ordinary household items. You never know when you might find yourself in a situation to apply the proven eXXXcel techniques for problem solving but be without the proper tools." She smiled broadly. "First we're going to watch a video."
She switched on the VCR and the eXXXcel logo appeared on the large screen, then faded as the program began.
Martha Stewart, impeccably dressed in natural cotton slacks and a soft pink mock turtleneck, stood in front of a table covered with craft materials. She held the leash to a studded collar worn by a tall, thin blond man, whose only other clothing was a leather codpiece.
"Today Stefan and I are going to show you how easy it is to make handcrafted bondage equipment from things you have around the house." Martha fastened the handle of the leash onto a metal clip at her belt. "Here's a little tip: I got this clip from the hardware store--it's usually used for keys--and when you need both hands free, it's an excellent way to keep hold of the leash but have it out of the way." She looked at Stefan and smiled.
"First of all, we're going to make a lovely ball-gag out of a dog ball and a colourful bandana." Martha tugged sharply on Stefan's leash and he picked up a red spotted handkerchief and a blue rubber ball.
"Now, be sure the ball is big enough that it won't work free and choke your bottom." Martha winked at Stefan who remained studiously impassive. She took the items from him. "First, place the ball in the centre of the cloth and fold both sides over to make a tube, then simply tie a knot on either side of the ball, and you're done. Lovely!"
Another snap of the leash and Stefan knelt, enabling Martha to tie on the gag. "The bandana has to be long enough to reach around the back, so check first. Isn't that attractive?" She smiled broadly at the camera.
"And when you're short of nipple clamps, you can make a handsome pair out of an old set of clip-on earrings. All you have to do is use twist ties to attach any number of small objects to give them a little weight. Here I'm using a key chain and a fishing lure on one and a small bell and an early radish on the other."
Martha fastened the earrings onto Stefan's nipples. "See? Nothing to it and it's all handcrafted for that personal touch." She reached out and flicked the bell. A sharp tinkle rang out as the scene faded to black.
Text appeared on the screen: "Don't forget Martha's book, 'Make Your Home a Dungeon,' where you'll find recipes, tips, and craft projects such as how to make a charming iron maiden out of your old hide-a-bed."
Cathy switched off the TV. "I hope you're all ready to Do-It-Yourself! We're going to break into groups of two to do some eXXXcel problem solving. You get to improvise your equipment from the mystery materials in the Male Bondage Grab Bag!" She held up a large box. "Mr. Skinner and Mr. Pendrell, come and pick a bag. No peeking!"
Skinner reached into the box and pulled out a black paper bag tastefully embossed with the eXXXcel logo. They headed for one of the bondage stations in the back of the room.
"Why don't you take Station 2?" Cathy suggested, leading them with her hand on Skinner's arm. She paused a moment, then reluctantly turned back to Colton and Mulder.
At Station 2, Skinner gave Pendrell an appraising look, narrowing his eyes slightly. "OK, Agent Pendrell, you top me."
Pendrell's eyes flew open in alarm. "Me? But I've never..."
"Exactly. You need some experience. And as your supervisor, it's up to me to help you develop your leadership skills."
"Um...OK." Pendrell sounded dubious. "What's in our bag?"
Skinner poured the contents out onto a small table, revealing an assortment of dental hygiene products: toothbrushes, floss, denture adhesive, a dental mirror, some gauze, and other paraphernalia. Pendrell stared at the jumbled collection, lost in thought.
"Let's get down to business." Skinner removed his shirt as he spoke, and then, bare to the waist, unbuttoned Pendrell's as well. Pendrell almost didn't seem to notice, but he shrugged out of the sleeves, retrieving a couple of things from his pocket.
"What's the problem you want to solve, Agent Pendrell?"
The young agent blushed a painful pink. "Uh...well, I've been wanting to ask Agent Scully out for a long time, but I don't really know what to say."
"Right, I'll think about it. Time to start."
Snapping into efficiency, Pendrell swathed Skinner's wrists in gauze, then wrapped the dental floss around them, winding and winding the lightly-waxed, shred-resistant, cinnamon-flavoured line until Skinner was bound securely. Making an extra loop, Pendrell slung it over a hook at the station, leaving Skinner kneeling, his arms in the air.
Meanwhile, Cathy let Colton and Mulder pick a grab bag. "Just take any station you want."
Remembering the last seminar, she swallowed, sighed, and took up a vantage point near the middle of the room so she could watch both groups, at least ostensibly. She tried to take notes, but gave up when she realised she was actually sketching the planes and shadows of Skinner's muscular chest.
Mulder and Colton shucked their shirts and ties and opened their grab bag to find a wealth of sewing notions, brightly patterned fabric, thread, and trims.
"Fox, this is really special for me. I mean, it hasn't been quite a whole year yet, but being here is kind of an anniversary for us."
"Oh, Tom, that's so romantic! It's like where we had our first date."
There was silence for a while as they gazed liquidly at one another.
"Tommy, you be top, OK?"
"No, you Fox. I was top last week."
"No, you Tommy."
"No, you Foxy."
"Please, Tommy?" Mulder's pouting lower lip grew a little poutier and his big eyes a little bigger.
"OK sweetie, if you want me to, I'll top you. We need a problem to solve. What do you think?"
"We haven't decided where to go for our vacation yet. Let's work on that."
Colton sifted through the bits and pieces in the bag, pulling out two swatches and holding them up in front of Mulder's bare chest. "These both go so well with your skin tone." He tied a blue paisley cloth over Mulder's eyes, securing it at the back with a perky bow. The red and white gingham strip went around Mulder's wrists.
"Are you ready, Fox in Socks?"
Mulder nodded eagerly. Colton picked up a pattern tracing wheel and ran it over Mulder's back, bearing down hard enough to leave red lines.
"Vacation spot," Colton growled, pressing harder.
"Tom, this feels really good..."
Colton grabbed Mulder's chin. "You don't talk unless you have a vacation idea." He made another pass with the wheel, this time crossing Mulder's soft stomach.
Across the room, Pendrell picked up a toothbrush and moistened it in his mouth. Slowly and deliberately, he scrubbed the skin on Skinner's shoulder. Working in a circular motion, he moved lower, scraping harder and harder.
Skinner closed his eyes and sighed gustily.
Pendrell backed off for a moment and squeezed some toothpaste onto the brush. He applied it to Skinner's nipples and the coldness of the Super-Fresh All-Day Mint drew a gasp from the older man. Pendrell swirled the bristles around one nipple, then the other, over and over as Skinner grew more and more agitated.
At the other station, Colton slipped a thimble over his index finger and ran it along Mulder's cheek. Blindly, Mulder turned his face to meet it, opening his lips. "Suck," hissed Colton.
Mulder's eager lips and tongue went to work, but Colton soon pulled away and ground the wet thimble into Mulder's shoulder. Rotating and pushing it, Colton traced an intricate pattern of round red marks, then began to press on Mulder's nipples. "Vacation, Fox?" *twist* "Vacation, Fox?" *twist* "Vacation, Fox?"
The only reaction was ecstatic gasping, so Colton quickly constructed a small cat-o'-nine-tails from some green rickrack and bobbins. He flogged Mulder with it, repeating "Vacation" with each stroke. The metal spools smacked against tender skin while Mulder panted and twisted.
Finally, Mulder moaned, "Disneyland."
"Disneyland?" Colton stopped in mid-stroke. "I don't want to go to Disneyland."
"But I really want to!" Mulder's lower lip was very much in evidence.
"Aw, Fox." Colton chewed his own lip for awhile. "OK, we'll go to Disneyland if you want to."
"And hit me some more, 'K?"
"Anything for you, Foxy Loxy." Colton smiled and resumed the whipping.
Meanwhile, Pendrell finished up with the toothbrush and set it aside. Working swiftly, he opened the floss container and emptied it. Inside, he mixed toothpaste, denture adhesive, and crushed aspirin. He inserted the dental mirror through the lid, then added the ink from a ball-point pen before carefully snapping the container closed. Holding the plastic case gingerly, Pendrell touched the metal back of the mirror to Skinner's shoulder. Skinner twitched, surprised, as he received a noticeable electric shock.
Pendrell's face lit up. "It works!" He zapped Skinner again and again, finding new delicate areas to tease with the fiery tingle. Skinner writhed, closing his eyes to fully absorb the sensation. After a few minutes, Pendrell stopped. "That's probably enough."
Skinner shook his head, trying to clear it, as Pendrell released his hands. "How did you do that?"
"I saw it on MacGyver once. Neat, isn't it?"
"It certainly is." Skinner looked both amused and impressed. "And I think I have a good suggestion for you."
"About how to ask Agent Scully out." Standing up, Skinner smiled down at his agent.
"Oh...I..." Pendrell blushed again and dropped his eyes, then looked up at Skinner through his lashes. "I've changed my mind about that."
Across the room, Colton untied Mulder's bonds and blindfold. "How was that, sweetie?"
Mulder smiled. "You're always wonderful, Tommy."
"I have something for you." Colton held out his index finger to Mulder, thimble snug on the end.
Looking deep into Colton's eyes, Mulder drew the thimble off. "That's so sweet!" Noisily, he bussed Colton and put the thimble in his pocket.
While the men were dressing, Cathy approached Station 2 and put her hand on Skinner's arm. "Mr. Skinner, we like to conduct follow-up interviews about these seminars. Your opinion is important to us and we want to make these seminars the best they can be." She moistened her lips before continuing. "Can I make an appointment to talk to you sometime next week?"
"I'm going to be out of town. Why don't you talk to Agent Pendrell? I'm trying to get him more involved in the administrative side of things." Skinner clapped Pendrell on the shoulder, causing him to jolt forward a bit.
Cathy's face fell. Then she studied the electrical contraption Pendrell had constructed and looked speculatively at the young agent. "That would be most interesting, I'm sure. May I have your card?"
Pendrell glanced at Skinner before fishing a business card out of his wallet and handing it to Cathy.
"And Mr. Skinner," Cathy turned her attention back to him, "I'll be sure to send you the schedule for our next set of seminars. Or I can drop it by." One final smile, and she returned to the front of the room to pick up her stack of notes.
After the men had returned to their chairs, Cathy delivered her summing up speech, much like her opening speech, about the importance of right brain thinking and creativity in order to Do-It-Yourself. She stood staring until they had all filed out the door, then grabbed the phone.
"Hi, Jacques, did you get all that?...Of course I want the tape...and one for my sister. And be sure to show the director--I wonder if Mr. Pendrell would be interested in a career change."
In the car, Mulder and Colton whispered and giggled in the back seat, scribbling on a piece of paper they passed back and forth. "Is this enough--what do you think, Fox?"
"Add some velcro." Then a little louder, "You can just drop us off at the corner here by Fabric World."
Skinner stopped the car and they tumbled out onto the curb, pausing for only one kiss before scrambling into the store.
Skinner pulled away again. "Finally! Although it will be a while before my blood sugar is back to normal." He looked at Pendrell. "Back to your place?"
Pendrell nodded. As they drove, several times he cleared his throat as if to say something, but instead just fidgeted with a loop of dental floss he had saved.
At last the car stopped in front of the little white house. Both men sat for several seconds, saying nothing.
Finally Pendrell glanced shyly at Skinner. "Um...do you want to come in for a bit? I could make coffee and we could play Scrabble. And you, uh, left your duct tape here last time."
"I'd like that." Skinner's eyes glinted behind his glasses. "I brought a toothbrush."