MOMENT 2: Behind Closed Doors
Krycek stands on the platform joking it up with the man he hates, sympathizing with his gripes about how hard it is to get reliable help these days, how nobody understands the responsibilities he bears, carrying this project and as many wretched human lives as he does. When the bald man lifts a fresh cigarette to his lips, Krycek is right there, reaching out with a lighter like any good brown-nose.
Inside, though, his heart is running like a trip- hammer, his mind in half a dozen places at once: hoping the son of a bitch hasn't suspected; running through the details of this little project one mental blueprint at a time; wondering if and when Mulder will catch on to who's actually running this charade. Hoping that if he does, he won't do something stupid that will blow it for both of them. God knows it's been a ball- buster to stage this scenario and there are half a dozen points where it could still go to hell.
A gust of air moves through the camp's courtyard, Siberia's icy breath whispering down collars and reaching between jacket buttons like a cruel lover. Krycek shivers once and rejoins the conversation.
In the planning stages he'd told himself it was a worthwhile gamble for a critical strategic payoff down the road, but every few minutes now, when he catches another skeptical look about his cover story, Krycek catches himself with that 'down the first drop' roller coaster feeling, because under the klieg lights of gritty reality, his payoff has 'pie in the sky' written all over it. How clearly had he been thinking? Maybe his logic had gotten infected by those little pipe dreams that lurk in the corners of your mind like bacteria, waiting for just the right conditions to fester and multiply.
Too late now. Nothing to do but ride it out.
Turning, he sees the *zeks* begin to file out of the buildings: long, sorry lines of trudging figures in ghostly gray. Krycek scans the seeming clones, though there should be no need; the guards have orders to leave the *amerikanets* in his cell, where hopefully he won't get into any trouble. Mulder needs to be in one piece when this little vacation from hell is over.
*If* it plays out, a shadowy pessimist in the back of his head reminds him. Krycek swallows carefully, hoping Lev Antonovich won't notice, but the bald man is laughing again at something said by one of the guards. Sunlight reflects off his glasses, a momentary flash of empty brightness.
A guard hurries up, whispers discreetly to the commandant and places a long, thin, cloth-wrapped object into his hand. Lev frowns but composes himself and continues to watch until the assembly yard is nothing more than a vacant, pockmarked expanse of muddy brown. After the guards have been sent to their posts, he holds the wrapped object out to Krycek.
"Your *amerikanets* has been busy," he says, frowning, just as Krycek opens the cloth to reveal a homemade knife. "A guard opened the cell door in time to see the prisoner slip something behind him."
Krycek's heart skips a single long, asphyxiating beat, then thuds to life again. Sweat blooms on his forehead. "Lucky catch," he replies, clearing his throat against a sudden dryness. "I told you he was trouble." Inside, his heart is pounding out *stupidmulderstupidmulderst upidmulderstupid* like a piston in a perfectly tuned engine, but he manages to spit out, "Good thing I'm taking him off your hands tomorrow, eh? An international incident would mean exposure this program can't afford."
Lev's reply, if he makes one, is lost in the rush of blood pounding through Krycek's ears. Count on Mulder to give you a phone in the face no matter what you try to do for him, he thinks. You should've known better, Aleksei, you dreamer.
It is only that night, lying awake in his tiny camp room, that Krycek's mind returns to the unexpected blip of the morning and he realizes the incident may not have been one of Mulder's typical shotgun bursts of protest. After all, Mulder's smart enough to realize that knifing a guard--or threatening one-- isn't going to get him out of a place like this.
Something inside Krycek goes cold and one hand wanders down to the soft of his belly, feeling the sudden, sharp entry of a crudely made knife. Internal injuries, complications... getting shanked in the thigh, maybe severing an artery... a wild stab to an upper arm...
Krycek swallows, sits up in bed and massages the bicep that's escaped injury through a guard's vigilance... or sheer chance. It's nothing, he tells himself like someone trying to settle a boy after a nightmare. No point in losing sleep.