1) Conventional Thinking
They tumbled across the bed. Anyone watching would be hard put to describe it as lovemaking. Sex, sure, but lovemaking? They grappled, twisted, grunted and groaned until, with a bite to the jugular that had more in common with big cats than men, Krycek arched beneath Mulder and Mulder forced himself inside the taut and straining form. Quickly done, they came, cursed, flopped like dead weights and it was over.
There was no lasting languor, no drop into a nap or a cuddle with shared pillow talk.
Krycek frowned, reached behind himself and cursed, "The fucking condom broke, Mulder."
Mulder coughed, reached down and stripped the remaining bits of latex off his cock. "Shredded," he concurred.
"You 'are' trying to kill me," Krycek said.
"Always," Mulder replied promptly, "and what a way to go."
"Fuck you, I'm not kidding here."
"Don't worry, if I have anything it's because it came from you in the first place."
"I'm clean, and you know it."
"I only know what you tell me and believe only half of that," Mulder answered and sat up on his side of the bed.
"Wow, half. What a long way you've come."
Mulder laughed. Krycek grabbed him and tumbled him back on the bed. "At this rate we might as well quit using them."
"Conventions must be observed," Mulder replied in a bad British accent.
Krycek laughed, slid his hand down Mulder's torso and tweaked his flaccid dick.
"Baby," Krycek said in a malicious voice and tweaked harder.
Mulder smacked Krycek's arm and the not-lovemaking began anew, only this time Krycek refused to go under and Mulder ended up taking it hard.
Anyone observing the men would have had to agree that taking it hard did something for Mulder, because the grunts, groans and growls held a distinct element of satisfaction in their tones.
This time they lay where they dropped, breathing raggedly.
The rough breaths tapered into light snores until Krycek woke, stared at the supine body in bed with him and stretched. Carefully, with the lightest of touches, he flicked the hair off the broad forehead, sighing as Mulder sighed. "We are so fucked up," he said as softly as his touch. He scratched under the remains of his left arm, took a fortifying breath and levered himself off the bed.
Mulder woke and found he was alone, rubbed the sleep from his eyes. The sheet beside him was cold and the fluids dried into scabby flakes. He glanced at the clock and cursed. He scrabbled in the pockets of the pants, which were on the floor, until he found his cell phone, and hit a preprogrammed key. "Hey Scully, it's me. I'm still in Richmond, but I should be in the office by ten." He nodded to her reply, got out of bed, picked up the pants, underwear and tossed them by an open suitcase. "I know the meeting starts at ten. I'll be there on time." He closed the phone and went into the bathroom.
2) Conceivable Odds
They came together suddenly in an alley just off Thomas Circle. The alley was dirty; the snow was dirty with dirty broken windows lining both sides. Thrown against the wall, Mulder cursed his attacker.
"Mulder, Mulder," the soft low voice whispered in his ear, "why the hell are you here?"
"What the hell are you doing here, Krycek?" He countered.
"A couple of vermin got out of their cages. I was rounding them up to take back home."
"What are you now, Official Rat Catcher?"
"Something like that," Krycek's voice remained low and soft. Mulder shivered and wondered just how close the vermin were.
Krycek rubbed his icy cheek against Mulder's bare neck and he shivered some more. A second later, a rough dark woolen scarf was draped unceremoniously around his neck and yanked tight, "I'm only gonna say this once, Mulder. Go home. There's nothing for you here. Nothing that matters anyway."
"Fuck you, Krycek," Mulder started, Krycek cut him off with ice-cold lips and a scorching searching tongue.
"Not right now," Krycek whispered, "I'll take a rain check though."
Mulder found a laugh and shrugged Krycek off him. "Tell me these rats are not the ones who took pot shots at the Gunmen today and I'll go."
"These vermin did not take pot shots at the Gunmen today," Krycek repeated obediently, paused a moment and added, "these vermin are excellent shots, if they'd been the shooters, the Gunmen would be in the morgue and Frohike would finally be getting his wish for the good doctor see him naked."
Mulder let out a long sigh. "Okay, but I better never find out differently."
"Don't worry, Mulder. Dead vermin tell no tales."
"Shit, Krycek, don't tell me you're gonna commit murder!"
"Sshh, I didn't say any such thing and you know it. But, rats die un- mourned in alleys everyday."
"Depends on the rodent," Mulder said. "Some people have been known to keep special ones as pets."
Krycek's smile was sharp in the gloom. "Dream on, Mulder."
3) Three Times Lucky
They met at the same motel in Richmond as the time before. On an easy access ramp off I-95, it was a busy place.
The surveillance on them was working this time. Among those watching included a certain someone who never bothered to use a match, but smoked continuously, lighting each new cigarette with the glowing butt of the last one. Another observer didn't smoke, but she drank several tall glasses of ice cold bottled water and occasionally plucked a blond hair off her black jacket. The third observer, sitting a little behind and to the left of the smoker, shrouded by the cloud of smoke, drank Jack Daniels straight up.
Anyone observing the observers would be amazed at how little expression any of them wore. Anyone hearing them would conclude that the raw, animalistic sex under observation was so commonplace that it hardly altered the steady breaths or swallows and rhythmic inhalations of the three.
The two men in the motel room thought themselves unobserved. In fact, they counted on being unobserved, although they should know better than to count on anything regarding their persons or privacy.
They had all night. A whole night was a lengthy stretch of time and they believed they possessed it all to themselves.
A mutual time-out in effect, because however much they still clung to private childhood fancies, they weren't in fact, Superman and Batman. Mulder said, with uncanny perception, had he known about the intrusion into their privacy, "Even when we're alone it feels like we're in the middle of the street."
"Paranoia, thy name is Mulder." Krycek said.
"Comes in handy, you've got to admit." Mulder answered lazily.
"Yeah, when it works right. I can't believe you didn't keep copies of your files. Surely you knew they were as much of a target as anything else you get near."
"I have it all in here," Mulder said, rolling on his side and tapping his forehead.
Krycek laughed. "There's nothing so convincing as corrupted data from a madman's mind to use to expose a vast conspiracy that goes back fifty years."
"You saying I'm corrupted? Look in a mirror, Alex. Sin is written all over the face that'll look back"
"There's good corruption and then there's insanity, Mulder."
"I'll show you insane," Mulder replied, getting his second wind and coming on strong.
At the other end of the video feed, another cigarette was lit, another drink swallowed and a soft sigh issued, all without missing a beat in the evening's performance.
4) Long Shot
The alley looked just a dirty and forlorn on a midday in June as it had in the drab weariness of February, and Mulder was sure the seemingly blank broken windows held nests of snipers. He ventured further into the alley anyway. After ten minutes, he was both frustrated and relieved that neither snipers nor Krycek appeared. At first, he thought it was a trick of the light that several second floor windows on a particularly derelict building seem to wink at him instead of gape in opened mouth blankness. Closer inspection revealed that there was a film of some kind covering those windows to make them look dirty, broken and bereft.
The door, when he found it, was carefully painted a faux abandoned gray with black and rust colored stains. It was locked. None of his lock picking skills sufficed and he stood, sweating in the dense and odorous heat, firmly stationed on the outside wishing for a pocketful of plastique or a grenade.
He kicked the door and twisted his ankle, but it didn't budge and he finally gave up.
He thought about calling Scully, but stilled his hand mid cell phone reach. There was no way to get a warrant on a case that had nothing to do with fertilizer these days, let alone get a 302 signed. He reassured himself that he wasn't getting chicken so much as finally learning a bit of caution. He flipped open the phone and hit a preprogrammed key.
"What?" Krycek barked into the receiver.
"The alley on 14th off of K," He heard Krycek sigh into the phone. "I can't get in."
"No shit Sherlock, haven't I already told there is nothing there that matters?"
"Sure you did, but if that is true, why the locked door?"
"To keep people out?" Krycek replied facetiously.
"I am going in," Mulder said.
"Of course you are. There's nothing there Mulder. Really. Once upon a time there was something, it's all gone. No trace, no proof, nothing."
"Need to see it for myself."
"Curiosity killed the cat, Mulder. You'll trigger an alarm and become a target, all on this fine summer's day. Why bother?"
Mulder sighed, trickles of sweat making his neck itch and armpits soggy. "Just tell me what was there."
Krycek sighed, echoing Mulder's weariness and frustration. "Meet me and I'll do my best," he replied, and Mulder, hearing no trace of mockery or sarcasm in Krycek's voice, felt a shiver of ice work its way up his spine banishing the heat and making him turn cold.
"The tree house then," Mulder said.
"In this heat?"
"What? You going to melt?"
Krycek said, "Forty-five minutes."
"'Kay," replied Mulder and hung up
5) Structural Integrity
The tree house, a broken down structure perched on the roof of a high- rise apartment complex near the Navy Barracks in Arlington, had a fine view of the Pentagon, Shirley Highway, and downtown Arlington. Once, many years ago, someone had carefully built a pigeon coop, complete with a shaded overhang and a bench. Mulder chased a suspect up onto this roof when he worked with Reggie Purdue, it had become one of his favorite places to come to sit and think.
The beginnings of a small tree had sprouted in a pile of pigeon manure and seeds, when Krycek had seen the place; he said Mulder had found an excellent tree house. Mulder had laughed and said if only he had a secret decoder ring, all his troubles would be solved and mysteries answered. Krycek had replied as long as this club was for boys only, it had the makings of a fine conspiracy headquarters, just like the massive five-sided building it overlooked.
The element of truth in that statement had not been lost on Mulder, or the fact that carrier pigeons had become extinct early this century. The whole setup tickled his paranoid fancies and the place remained a private get-a-away.
Krycek, who loved conveniences when he could get them, brought a couple of sleeping bags and a case of bottled water to add to Mulder's collection of fast food wrappers and empty beer bottles.
Unbeknownst to Mulder, Krycek also set up a low-level electronic device along the perimeter of the roof that would cause any listening device to broadcast only bursts of static without interfering with the building's antenna TV or wireless internet reception. He'd done the same to Mulder's apartment when he'd still been an agent himself.
Krycek spent many a night on this roof in relative comfort and security.
Instead of elevators, they both took circuitous routes to get to the building and stairways to the roof. The aroma of old tar and bird dung struck Krycek, who'd never been up there on a summer day, as it bubbled and baked in the afternoon sun. He got there first and checked that the static device remained undiscovered and plugged in. He charted Mulder's arrival with powerful binoculars, looking for signs that Mulder had been tailed.
Seemingly at ease, Krycek was sitting on the bench when Mulder got to the roof. Mulder knew it was a pose, however, because Krycek merely raised his eyebrows and didn't make a sarcastic comment. And, he knew just how hard it was for Krycek 'not' to make something out of Mulder arriving later.
Mulder decided to lighten the mood, walked right up to Krycek, bent down and kissed him hungrily. He knew the distraction worked when Krycek began to return the kiss and run his hand over Mulder's belly and crotch. It never took much to arouse either of them, so seldom were their meetings and even more rare, time for anything but an exchange of information instead of fluids.
Mulder held on to his frustration and removed himself from Krycek's clutches. "Speak," he demanded and wasn't surprised to get a deep sigh and a wry grin as a response.
"Party pooper," Krycek murmured, settled back on the bench and began. "Once upon a time there was young military officer who had a young wife and a baby son. He took a plum posting, after his military service, with the State Department. He rose quickly through the ranks, but he was soon frustrated with the shortsighted worldview of his colleagues. Right on cue, an old military buddy reappeared in his life, also at work in the State Department, but unaccountably much more advanced. This good ol' boy came with a welcome into the Secretary of State's office anytime. Using this old friend, the young man made a bold move and suggested that the world was changing faster than his colleagues understood it to be. This struck a chord in his buddy and soon, he was invited along into smoke filled rooms, knee deep in discussions about the Cold War, Red Baiting, and Viet Cong strategy and was offering his insights about other far-flung and simmering places around the globe. On the heels of his familiarity with this stratum of players, he found himself meeting other, more powerful, and recognizable players, after-hours, at the Executive Office Building and the Pentagon. As quick as a can be, he was taking the evening shuttle to and from New York and finding himself comfortably ensconced with a whole other milieu of well tailored gentlemen in more smoke filled rooms. And Mulder," Krycek turned his gaze from the Pentagon to meet Mulder's eyes. His green eyes were laser sharp and crystal clear, "the young man did not find their worldview in the least confining or small-minded."
"Now, perhaps this description could fit many a young former military officer in the late 1950's and early 1960's, but I doubt it. Those invited to New York were few and far between. It does however, fit someone we both know."
Mulder got up and angrily strode the distance to the roof's edge and back. "Knew, asshole." He ground out bitterly, "knew."
Krycek shook his head, "Tell me, which half of the things I've told you do you actually believe? The half that includes the part where I told you I did not kill Bill Mulder or the other half?"
Mulder was halfway across the distance to Krycek before he realized his fists were clenched and his jaw tight with rage.
Krycek hadn't moved, he shrugged and said, "Well, I guess that's an answer."
Mulder stood still, chest heaving with suppressed anger and nodded.
"I did shoot the old 'man' in that bathroom. He was, however, neither your father nor a man."
Mulder shook his head and Krycek nodded right back.
"Yes, Mulder. Can you tell me you knew it was red blood you saw? Can you tell me you stuck around long enough to see who showed up next, or that you checked the rest of the house for anyone else?"
Mulder heaved a sigh and sat down, his head in his hands.
Krycek continued, "I saw the green begin pooling around his head and I knew I was screwed. The whole set up reeked and not just with toxic fumes. I got the hell out of there. I did come to tell you, but you were not in a listening mood and after Scully shot you, the moment for confessions was lost."
"There was a funeral. My mother was there and Scully. Even the Brit was there. Are you telling me my father is alive?"
Krycek sighed, "Yes."
"How could they do it? The aliens are deadly to humans when the 'bleed'."
"Mulder, Mulder, don't tell me you believe that can't concoct any scenario they want. Not after everything you've seen?"
"Shit," Mulder replied.
"Yeah," Krycek answered.
6) Counter Measures
Krycek stood by the nurse's station waiting impatiently for everyone to leave Mulder's room. He had a good view of the door, although he was out of sight behind the counter and a large array of undelivered flowers that were between him and the hallway.
Mulder had gone back to the alley, this time with tools and Scully. He had to go see Bill Mulder's loft and if Bill Mulder was there or burst. Krycek knew ahead of time no good or curiosity satisfied would come out of their little rooftop chat.
He wished he'd been wrong and if he'd guessed right had gone along, and this time, he would have made sure red flowed all the hell over the place. God, he hated the old drunk. Hated him more than the smoker. From what little nastiness he'd been able to gleam from his own surveillance, Bill Mulder had gone for Mulder's jugular immediately. He started baiting him with the loss of his files, his standing at the FBI, his lack of progress in general, and exposed his knowledge that Mulder had bedded his accused killer. Krycek really didn't know how Scully had restrained herself and her trigger finger this time, although she would have probably just shot Mulder again.
Mulder, typically, waited around in hopes that Bill's anger would cool and they could talk. Yeah, right, as if Bill Mulder had ever told his son anything of merit or value.
So Mulder, waiting a beat too long and Scully, as amazed as if she had never seen anyone return from the 'dead' before, were too late to stop the debacle from worsening. Mulder, of course, had been surprised when the old man's entourage had come running. He hesitated and they didn't, so it was Mulder in the hospital with a shot in the leg.
He had a plan. Mulder was going to take a vacation. A long vacation and maybe they wouldn't ever come back. Krycek smelled the flowers and thought of Caribbean Islands and Mulder in the buff with an all- over tan and blonde sun streaks in his hair. He shook his head and sneezed.
The last of Mulder's visitors finally left. Krycek waited until the dinner tray had been removed and went in after that. He could see with a quick glance that Mulder was as far away from tanning oil and a smile as June was from December.
He was conscious and Krycek took that as a good omen.
"Are you nuts?" Mulder said as soon as he saw Krycek. "There are fucking federal agents all over!"
Krycek made a show of looking over his shoulder. He came over, lifted up Mulder's sheet, and looked there too. Waggling his eyebrows as he commented, "The only federal agent I see is you and rather more of you than usual in a public place."
Krycek frowned back.
The stand off lasted until Mulder closed his eyes. Krycek approached again and kissed him first this time. Slowly and deeply, the kind of kisses they seldom dared to indulge in because they gave so much away. Mulder licked his lips after and Krycek couldn't get enough. Mulder laughed when Krycek checked under the covers again.
The laugh went straight to his head and Krycek locked the door, turned down the light and concentrated on the newly arisen evidence under the blanket. Mulder expressed his appreciation and Krycek shushed him with a muttered, "Shut up or someone really will see a fucking federal agent."
Mulder allowed Krycek his wont and after a few minutes forgot about his leg injury and hopelessness. He'd simply never received this kind of attention from Krycek without being able to return the favor. It felt overwhelmingly real and powerfully true in ways he had not considered before.
He combed his fingers through what shortened ends of Krycek's hair that he could reach and tug. Krycek's hard plastic arm supported his leg and kept it out of the way and, for the first time, Mulder mourned for the loss of Krycek's arm and for the pain and suffering the man experienced losing it.
They'd never spoken of it. Mulder had taken his cues from Krycek and treated him as if it had never happened at all, much as Krycek did himself. Their usual rough and randy sexual encounters were far from tender and he'd felt no loss of ability on Krycek's part. What was happening now was very tender and unexpectedly so. He'd been sure Krycek would read him the riot act for being a fool. He never considered that it might deeply disturb Krycek if he were injured.
This caring expression of tenderness and desire, just when he'd done such a stupid thing and found no solace or success in the doing, was a balm to his ego and his heart. He came with a rush that exhausted him and allowed Krycek to share the head of the bed with him and wrap him in the good arm until he slept.
7) A Stitch in Time
Krycek visited him at odd hours the whole week he was in the hospital. During that time Scully, Skinner and a few of his other friends came by as well. Scully and Skinner wanted him to approach his mother and tell her Bill Mulder was alive and remained involved with the men who'd taken her daughter all those years ago. Mulder had sufficient time to think about his parents and their roles in that long ago abduction and the progress of the human/alien project. He found to his dismay, that his mother had known, must have known all along to be both heartbreaking and a relief.
The search now, was all his. There was nothing more to prove to the dream image of pleasing his unfathomable parents. There was nothing left to prove to Skinner or Scully either. Skinner would sit on the fence, helping when he was able or in agreement and Scully would continue to insist on scientific data and support him with as much of her heart and trust the she could muster any given day. Krycek, as always, was the wild card. Holding him in his hand sometimes meant winning and just as often, meant losing spectacularly.
Mulder used the days in the hospital to shore his defenses, will and resolution to keep looking. He distanced himself from the chatter of his friends and looked deeply into his own psyche, hopes and desires. The pieces of his heart and mind coalesced into a mosaic, the kind of multi- textured piece that made a picture only from a distance, but appeared as broken and fragmented up close.
At home, he was unsurprised to find Krycek slipping in after everyone else departed. They shared the food the others had left, relaxed on the couch watching TV until Mulder's eyes began to close. Krycek pulled him up and steered him to the bedroom. They'd never been in bed together here. Mulder found, despite his exhaustion and the low- level ache in his leg, the thought of finally sleeping with Alex in his own bedroom was a turn-on.
"No, no," Mulder whispered when he saw Krycek was going to satisfy him and leave his own needs for another day. "There's been enough of that in the hospital, it's my turn now." He used his upper body to lever Krycek beneath him, sucking in a sharp breath when the weight on his leg, momentarily, spiked the pain. He admitted to himself that he was going to make love to Alex, not simply screw him. It was a significant decision and he put his mind to it.
He batted Alex's hand out of the way with a whispered, "relax," and "let me." In the dim, cluttered room, he began, noticing with renewed attention, the smooth texture of the man's skin, his unique scent and small choked sounds. He felt Alex relax and a short time later, become imbued with a different kind of tension. This truly dangerous and often deceptive man, beneath his mouth and hands, simply melted. Mulder thought he could actually chart it; muscle-by- muscle and sector by sector, as he paid attention to the strong body. He realized he was having fun torturing them both. He wasn't aware he was murmuring, but Krycek heard him say, "how can I feel this way... need you, sweet, gorgeous."
Krycek felt adrift in an uncharted sea. He'd known his own feelings for Mulder for a long time. He never really considered they could possibly be returned. There was no logic or sense to it, of course. He'd done what he had and although he'd been helping Mulder more often than hindering him these past months, he hadn't made a balance sheet out of it.
He ran his hand down Mulder's body and inadvertently fingered the top few of the stitches. He removed his hand quickly, but the coarsened skin reminded him of Mulder's vulnerability and he took note to try to insist Mulder really take that vacation with him. The undertow of delight Mulder was creating soon stripped even those altruistic thoughts from his mind and he gave it up and allowed himself to go boneless with pleasure. They could argue about it later.
They forged a new dimension to their relationship in those few days alone in Mulder's apartment. The physical bonds between them strengthened by gentleness and attention to detail that had been lacking before. They talked, relaxed and found a kind of friendship beneath the passion and suspicion. For Krycek, it tasted of a past he'd forfeited and a future he was loath to borrow against.
8) Shooting from the Hip
The idyll came to end when Mulder, back to health and slightly stir crazy after two weeks away from the basement, caught Krycek by surprise and demanded, "You knew my father was alive and living right here in DC! You think I wouldn't be interested to know that?"
Krycek sighed, wondered if it would do any good to tell Mulder that Bill Mulder's short-lived impulse to share secrets had been a cover only and not real intent, that the whole thing had been a ruse to get Mulder to cough up the DAT. Not that he'd known this at the time. It was only when he'd collected a few favors that he's gotten wind of the pantomime created between Spender and Bill Mulder and which put paid to his alliance with the conspiracy as well as earn him Mulder's hate and Spender's distrust. He knew Mulder a lot better now, and realized telling him his dad was Darth Vader would only ricochet back on him with more denial and anger. Mulder held fast to the illusion that if only he had saved his sister or found his sister, the family life he imagined had been perfect would be restored.
Mulder was watching Krycek closely and wondered when he become so attuned that he could actually interpret the subtle expressions on his smooth face. He sensed that Krycek didn't want to tell him about Bill Mulder, and not for the usual paranoid reasons. So, Mulder thought, it was personal reasons and had a momentary flash of Alex Krycek sitting at Bill Mulder's feet, an able and attentive student of the conspiracy and everything his father had wanted in a son. He shook his head and Krycek frowned at him. "Tell me," Mulder said, but in a more reasonable tone. "I can take it you know, the old man holds no more power over me."
Krycek, uncharacteristically, fiddled with the buttons on his shirt. "When I was first assigned to you, I did not know that Mr. William was your dad. He was just one of the many old bastards that ran me through my paces during the extracurricular training I got at Quantico. It wasn't until the first time I searched your apartment, just before I was given the Cole case, that I saw your photo album and realized they were all there, Spender, the Brit, the Germans. I began to realize that maybe you weren't the threat to National Security they said you were and that there was something deeper and more personal going on."
"I told you before that I was a patriot, and although I had some debts in Russia, I was American to the core. I had volunteered with NATO in Afghanistan my senior year in college, and was caught behind enemy lines, alone, injured and weaponless. I guess that because I spoke Russian that the Russian mercenary who captured me sent me to a secret meeting where I was given a way back to the NATO allies, as long as I was willing to report any new American plans for expansion in the region. Shit, Mulder, I was nothing more than a half-crazy college student out to save the world, not a real soldier or spy. At the time, I could not imagine ever being in a position to know about troop movements, politics or National Security. I got back to the USA and went to fucking grad school, sure that I was really of no concern to the Russians."
"What I didn't realize is that I had become a person of interest to a highly placed cadre of international conspirators. When I got my degree, they showed up, waiting in my apartment when I got home from a party. They showed me pictures of my time in Afghanistan and infrared pictures and a tape of my meeting with the Russians. They told me I was a spy and a traitor and that I was going to jail."
Krycek stood and paced. "Unless, Mulder, and of course there was an UNLESS, I went to work for them. They flattered me, saying they knew I was a loyal American, and damned me by reminding me of my parentage. How that would look to a jury? My parents would be called they said, and maybe charged. My sister's scholarships revoked, and on and on. I looked at them and saw ruin, disgrace and prison. I agreed, of course. If they were the fucking U.S. government, who would I be able to take my case to anyway?"
"As they ordered, I applied and was accepted into Quantico, went through all the training and more training on the QT. They never left me alone with time to think and my roommate was in the same position. He's dead now, just a regular guy who was blackmailed for hiding a high school drug habit and some petty theft. He committed suicide the first time he was told to kill a fellow Fibbie instead of the unsub." Krycek sighed, "He was braver than me. I didn't want to die; I just wanted live and get out, somehow."
Krycek pivoted, and for a moment, Mulder saw the soldier in him.
"I learned fast, Mulder, and I learned well. Maybe I was corruptible at heart from the start. It doesn't matter now, but I lost everything: my family, my plans, dreams and hope, and anything remotely natural or common for a 23 year old."
"When I was ready, they told me about you." Krycek faced Mulder and stood still. "I'd heard about Spooky Mulder, of course and your theories. I was fascinated. I knew that you were right as far as government infamy was concerned, didn't I have first hand knowledge of that myself?"
Mulder shifted on the bed rubbed his forehead tiredly and nodded.
"Yeah," said Krycek and sat down.
9) Twice the Punch
Scully had another theory and made sure Mulder and Skinner heard about it. The Bill Mulder she saw was not really Bill Mulder, but one of the 'trained' imitators that Spender could call upon at will. The real Bill Mulder was dead, killed by Alex Krycek, period. It was all a plot to confuse and defuse Mulder and the X Files, as well as paint Mulder as a homosexual and ruin any standing he had left in the FBI.
Mulder argued that the "imitators" were alien bounty hunters and one of those was what Krycek must have shot. Scully and Skinner gainsaid anything about aliens and said, why not a masquerade by Spender to put an end to Mulder's shaky credibility.
Mulder made the mistake of laughing at them and saying "what credibility?" Scully got shrill; she'd obviously wanted Mulder to deny any relationship with Krycek. Mulder refused to comply and got many hours of accusing lectures from Scully about loyalty and from Skinner about going out on limbs, and both of them risking their careers and lives for Mulder's sake.
Mulder felt himself grow colder and colder as they went on and on. Pushed beyond any residual guilt and his patience, he said, "You talk about my position and my credibility as if you are in the same place as when we began working together five years ago. You both chose to be blind, deaf and dumb. There are aliens, there is a conspiracy, and people are abducted and gone forever. There is proof and we have found it many times, you both chose to deny it, ignore it or ruin it or destroy it. You stand on your sanity as if that superior height makes you always right and me always crazy. I am not crazy, not now and not for the past twenty years."
There was silence and Mulder stood, "Scully, they did not give you cancer and then 'cure' it to make me believe, they did it to make you too scared to ever believe. Not that they had to, you have never believed and more than all your help, all your suffering, and every fucking thing you have witnessed, you remain a cynic." He turned to Skinner and loomed over his desk, "you should know better than anyone the breadth of their power and the length of their reach. They have put you in a corner time after time and you have seen their hand in orders from your superiors. Yes, you have supported me, humored me and backed me up, but you have done so unwillingly. At the very least, I am about saving human life and exposing human corruption and I do not deserve your scorn or your negative judgmental stance that you are sane and competent and I am not."
He stepped back, arms akimbo and said, "I have chosen to have a relationship with Alex Krycek and I have chosen to accept that much of what he tells me is the TRUTH! Other than that fact, any personal involvement with Alex is my own business and concern, not yours."
Scully actually made tut-tut-tut sounds and began a new diatribe about trust. Skinner shook his head and swiveled in his seat to stare out the window, his mouth turned down in a moue of disgust and impatience.
"Enough!" Mulder yelled at last. "I know what I owe you; I know what I owe the FBI and my country. I am not the enemy, they are and they only grow stronger while we waste time in useless debate. There is an invasion planned, and I do not see why it makes a difference if it is human or other. The U.S., the world and we are under attack and if we don't stop it, many will die, millions will die and people like Spender will be in charge. Then, God help us, because we will be too late to help ourselves."
Mulder left the Hoover exhausted and emotionally sore. It was no use, but he couldn't do it alone.
Krycek joined him on the escalator in the metro station and silently sat beside him on the train. He echoed Mulder's frown with an exaggerated grimace until Mulder, reluctantly, smiled.
Still in silence, Krycek got off at an exit before Mulder and blew him a kiss as he walked away into the tunnel.
Mulder laughed and realized he was starving. He thought he just might order enough take-out for two and see who showed up to eat it with him.
10) Leave the Pieces Where They Lay
Krycek found out whom, why and how he and Mulder were being tracked and spied upon. It pissed him off. He'd burned so many boats already that the decision to put paid to his faltering relationship with the consortium became a plan to go out spectacularly.
He visited the weapon specialists and flattered them into letting him 'try out' a new plastic prototype pistol that was undetectable in an X- ray machine and fitted into small enough pieces so that a pat down would not reveal its presence. He attended a meeting with Spender and company and, taking a bathroom break, assembled the gun.
He thought about Mulder and hoped he lived to see him again, nevertheless, he was taking out Spender even if he died trying.
He only hoped Bill Mulder showed up too.
The door to the office was held open by one of Spender's thugs and Krycek went back in without a word. He stopped in shock when he got inside. Diana Fowley was perched on the table, the slit in her business skirt revealing a length of thigh that was hardly professional. More than the distraction of her charms was the heavy gun tucked into a waist holster. He wondered they allowed her in armed.
Once upon a time Krycek has slept with this woman. At the time, lusting with much more passion over Mulder, he'd felt some small ego boost for fucking Mulder's ex-girl. They had no residual feelings for one another and since he wasn't who they wanted to dupe into compliance, she didn't try to fake any. She smiled at him as if she could read his mind, patted the gun and shifted a bit closer to Spender's end of the table.
Krycek hadn't counted on assassinating Diana however little he cared about her. He had no real objection to it, just that Mulder would be pissed and Scully would probably feel way too much relief if both he and Diana were dead. Fulfilling Scully's ambitions did not please him at all.
He sighed and sent her a sultry glance; she smiled back without warmth and nodded a greeting. Spender unceremoniously told Krycek to sit down and tapped a pile of files on the table in front to him.
"Mr. William," he began and Krycek thought sourly that Spender was taking his duplicitousness way too seriously this time. "Mr. William," Spender went on, "has an idea of how to solve a few of our problems." He took a long drag at his cigarette and tapped the ashes in a marble ashtray.
"If we are correct and Agent Mulder's additional DNA is finally turning on, we should be able to harvest it soon. I cannot tell you all how much these special abilities would help us once we can use them. The fiasco with Gibson Praise notwithstanding, we need to try again."
Holy Shit! Krycek groaned silently, now they want to pick over Mulder's brain, literally. He shifted in his seat and felt the small light pistol tucked in the back of his pants.
It was now or never, and he'd have to shoot Diana first and hope no one else was armed. Bill Mulder was not there, but Spender, the Brit and the fat German were sipping tea as if they were at the Ritz. Eight bullets and four targets, he should be able to do it.
He got up, took a stamped letter from his pocket and dropped into the mail slot. It would go to the basement postal room, and if everyone here was dead, no one would interfere and it would be delivered.
Spender lit another cigarette and frowned, but continued speculating on the value of transplanting Mulder's brain tissue and the ways and means of getting it as soon as possible.
Krycek stepped towards the table, no one was watching him because Spender was sliding file folders across the shiny tabletop and everyone was reaching for them.
"Easy, easy", he said to himself. "Walk easy, no sudden gestures, just a hand to the back and easy, easy. Tilt the muzzle just so"... Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Four headshots and it was over, he was alive and on his way out! He stepped behind the double doors and when the guards came running in, the doors hid him for the nano-second he needed, he went out and locked the doors behind him.
He didn't look back, but heaved a sigh of relief and felt no remorse. The only thing that mattered was that it wasn't Mulder's brain tissue spread across the table.
11) Now or Never
(The letter began with no other salutation.)
//More than maybe, I am probably dead. I hope not, but I seldom lie to myself about expectations anymore. I more than hope Spender is dead too, then it will have been worth my sacrifice. The pages (attached) explain how there were and maybe still are plans afoot to fuck you over most unpleasantly. Be careful. Be safe.
I ruined my life for myself and you are not responsible. I know you and your penchant for beating yourself up - don't bother. Besides, there are so many out there who take pleasure in doing that for you. Skinner and Scully, despite any drawbacks, are important. Use them and let them help you. I am sure they will.
I could wax poetic, but that is not my style.
I have loved you; I do love you, for whatever that's worth.
Mulder folded the note carefully and put it back in the envelope. He would read the rest of the information in a little while. The four murders in New York had made the papers. No doubt, the syndicate was in shambles for this to leak out. He had not been particularly surprised to see Diana among the dead. He found he was not particularly moved by that fact either.
But where the fuck was Alex fucking Krycek? Knowing Alex had probably mailed the letter before the shootout, he might be alive and in hiding. If he were, Mulder would never find him.
He needed Alex more than ever before. Mending fences with Skinner and Scully was slow going and he was sure they believed he was insincere anyway. Kersh smiled a lot lately and that was not a good thing at all. The man was a bloodsucker, maybe he was an alien, nothing would surprise Mulder at this point.
Where the fuck was Alex?
He kicked his coffee table over.
Scully knocked and came in. She saw the letter in Mulder's hand. "Is that from Krycek?" She asked, taking in Mulder's expression and the mess in his living room.
Mulder didn't answer.
"He's a murderer, Mulder. No matter how compromised the victims were, this is cold blooded murder."
"This is war," Mulder stopped pacing.
"This was New York City on a windy Wednesday afternoon," Scully replied shortly, "Not Desert Storm or Ruby Ridge."
Mulder laughed, "Maybe it's more Ruby Ridge than you think." He said in a growl.
"You have a duty, Mulder." Scully said and put her hand out for the letter. "He needs to go to prison."
Mulder tucked the letter in his pocket. "No."
Scully stood, silhouetted in the light from the window in the otherwise dim room. Her hair shown like fire and her face was white and pinched. Her stance however, was strong, solid and immovable. "We are Federal Agents. If you have information on the fugitive Alex Krycek, you need to hand it over to the investigation."
For a moment, her posture gave way to exhaustion, but she straightened up quickly. "If you do not do the right thing, I cannot defend you anymore, Mulder."
"You don't know that he did this," Mulder tried.
Scully snorted and held out her hand again.
"No!" Mulder cried, "You don't know!"
"I know and you know. It's over."
Mulder took a deep breath and calmed himself, "Look Scully, there is more to this than you know..."
Scully interrupted, "Sometimes Mulder, it is what it is. Whatever his reasons and why ever you are trying to defend him, this is cold- blooded Murder. If he has a sufficient defense, he can present it at trial. For all I care, he can subpoena the whole syndicate, the Department of Justice and Congress. My job and your job, Mulder, are to bring him in."
Mulder looked at Scully and knew this was indeed the end. Her latitude and patience were exhausted. She was exhausted. She'd been by his side a long time, loyal, maybe even loving. He owed her something for that. "Where are you, Alex?" He cried out silently, "Where are you?"
"I have no information regarding Alex Krycek's whereabouts. If I had, I would be looking for him, not to arrest him, but to join him, maybe even thank him. I have worked, some may say nominally, but I have worked within the law and my duty to put an end to the threats the syndicate pose. I have spent my life, my heart and my hope trying to do this. I am not giving up, Scully. I need you, the FBI and Skinner." Mulder paused and shook out his tense neck, "I need Alex Krycek too."
"I can never be on his side, Mulder. Never." Scully said softly, the anger gone, but the certainty remained.
"I know," Mulder, answered. Scully walked to the door of the apartment, opened the door and tapped the number on the outside. "I guess there are no more answers for me here," she said sadly. She closed the door quietly behind her and walked away.
12) And Then There Were None
Mulder went through the next days and weeks in a fog. Alex was still missing, the syndicate wanted his brain, Kersh was unendingly amused at Scully's request for a transfer and Skinner ignored him in the hallways. He listlessly went trough leads for X Files that he would never get to investigate, wondering if he would get another partner or if the lock on the basement door would presage a complete elimination of the whole office.
Sometimes, when he couldn't bear the noise of the TV or another look at his usual porn, he would count the dead as if they were rosary beads; Deep Throat, maybe Krycek, X, Max, Cassandra Spender, Jeffrey Spender, maybe Krycek, Diana, and the lost from so many of the X Files. He felt surrounded by gloom. He wondered what his father was doing and why the syndicate hadn't wooed him when he was younger and obviously thirsty for news of his sister. It made no sense, on their side, from the beginning; he would have been controllable, malleable. And throughout his thoughts were the clink of the beads, over and over, maybe Krycek.
He jogged long miles through the late summer's long sunsets, taking the punishing hills and curves of Rock Creek Park at a thundering pace. He made himself do the obstacle course at Quantico once a week, starting out with whatever new batch of trainees were there and lagging behind by the time they were halfway done.
At lunch, now that he took a lunch hour to escape the bullpen and Kersh, he sat eating the remains of a bland sandwich and a third cup of coffee, when a man in a suit was joined him. The man sat down, a tray with a cup of soup and a tuna sandwich in his hands, politely asking. "May I join you Mr. Mulder?"
"Do I know you?"
The man stared into Mulder's eyes, reached in a pocket and placed a copy of the picture Marita had given him of the Samantha clones and the boy clones on the Canadian Farm.
"Mr. Smith?" Mulder asked incredulously.
For a fraction of a second, Smith's features superimposed themselves over the bland man's face. The man nodded.
Mulder sat back, "I thought you were dead."
"Not yet," Smith replied, no trace of humor in his voice. "The smoking man is dead."
"I know," Said Mulder.
"He was dying of lung cancer anyway," Smith added.
"I hope he suffered," Mulder replied.
"You are looking for your friend?" Smith asked.
Mulder sat up, "Yes," he answered shortly, very alert.
"Do you plan to arrest him?"
"No, I have no evidence on him at all." Mulder said, thinking how just a year ago, he would have been glad for Krycek to die awaiting charges in a holding cell.
"He risks everything," Smith said dryly.
Mulder wondered what Smith wanted to hear. Obviously, he knew Mulder and Krycek had a relationship, a friendship if none other. "I do not want him arrested and I need to know he is safe."
Smith appeared to consider this statement.
"He is well enough," Smith, answered. "He arrived at a place where I was held captive and released me. He did not ask for any help. In fact, he was infected with a strain of cancerous disease from, I believe, exposure to a variant of alien that inhabits the cretaceous stratum of the earth's core. I cured him of this, although he would not allow me to attempt to repair his arm."
Mulder stared at Smith. Alex had been ill? Dying? "Why not?"
Smith looked away, in a human, Mulder would have believed he was uncertain.
"Actually, Mr. Mulder, Mr. Krycek did not allow me to cure the cancer either. I reached out and touched him before he could move away. He has a deep seated reluctance to exposure to aliens of any kind."
Mulder smiled grimly, 'exposure to aliens of any kind', Alex KNEW, that was the attraction, the bond beyond the wrongs or rights of it all. Alex fucking knew. "Where is he now?"
"I believe Mr. Krycek is considering a trip to Africa. There is a very active and important member of Mr. Spender's at work there on several projects. If this man can be stopped, most of the projects will fail. There is still activity in Japan, but they are conservative and most likely unwilling to pursue things once the rest have been eliminated."
"You're saying the syndicate will fail in its attempts to create a human/alien hybrid?" Mulder asked.
"They have already succeeded, Mr. Mulder," Smith said, "You met her quite recently."
Mulder considered this, "Was Cassandra Spender the only success?"
"So far," Smith said dryly.
"Will the aliens invade this planet if the projects are stopped?" Mulder almost swooned, this was the crux of the matter, this was the main question.
"We have been here a long time, Mr. Mulder," Smith spoke quietly as if this information was explosive in itself. "And, we are not the only ones."
Mulder trembled, "And what are the plans?" He asked.
"Why, Mr. Mulder, to continue to observe. For the others, a way to find their ships and a way home."
"No invasion?" Mulder was on the edge of his seat.
"We have no need, Mr. Mulder. Our powers and technologies have been barely plumbed by Mr. Spender and his plans. We could have," Smith waved his arm with a casual gesture, "done what we wish at any time."
Mulder looked around at the crowded café. He watched people innocently eating their sandwiches and unaware of any threat. "We are safe?"
"From us, certainly," Smith said, "From human plans, never."
"Ah," said Mulder. "Ah." Mulder sat back in his chair and grinned.
13) Back to the Future
Mulder monitored the airlines, but if Alex made the trip to Africa, he did it under the radar and Mulder did not find out. Instead, almost 3 months later, a room key and a ticket to Bermuda appeared in his mail. Mulder was jubilant.
Anyone observing the men in the bland motel room would have been hard put to understand the laughter which broke out over and over again as the lovers rolled this way and that, more as if they were fighting for supremacy rather than making love. Their bodies, the one whole and the other a little dented, but missing nothing of importance, rubbed, wriggled, and joined in a frenzy of intimacy throughout the long night.
Eventually, they flopped where they lay, languorously moving only enough to rest shoulder to shoulder, hands entwined.
However, no one was looking and the men slept in peace.