When lovely woman stoops to folly,
The first thing Marita Covarrubias learned as a congressional intern was how not to bump her head on the desk while giving her boss a blowjob.
The second thing she learned was not to ignore opportunity when it stared her in the face, or even peered at her from around a corner. She learned to jump at any and every chance that came her way. "You make your own luck," her boss was fond of saying, and it was one of the few things that came out of his mouth that Marita didn't find to be utter bullshit.
Marita was ambitious. She didn't want to be some two- bit senator's piece of ass. She wanted to play with the big boys. So she kept her eyes and ears open and her mouth shut. She took notes, she made copies, and she snapped photos. When a chance to get ahead presented itself, she wanted to be prepared.
Opportunity came knocking on her door at the sort of Washington party where the women wear very little and don't stay in it for very long. She was walking around, mentally noting who was slipping off with whom, when she felt a tap on her shoulder.
Marita turned around and saw a young man who looked to be not much older than her. She thought he might be an intern, like she was, or maybe a young politician. He wasn't someone she recognized, but he seemed harmless.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
"I hope so," he said. "Are you Marita Covarrubias?" He exuded earnestness. Marita figured him for a former boy scout.
"Yes," she said.
"Don't you work for Senator Matheson?"
"Yes," she repeated, "is there anything -- "
Before she could finish her sentence, he pushed her against the wall and trailed his lips up her neck. For a second she was paralyzed with shock, and then she drew her arm back, preparing to punch him in the stomach. He caught her arm easily. She felt his hot breath along her ear. "Play along, damn it. People are watching and I don't have much time." He put his hand on her breast and squeezed it. "Can you get me into the senator's office? I'm prepared to pay very well."
This is it, she thought. This was the moment she'd been waiting and preparing for. She had no trouble falling into the familiar role of 'seduced woman.' She knew all the moves and gestures by heart. She ran her leg up and down his. "Yes," she said, whispering into his ear. "How much money are we talking about?"
"Depends on what I find," he said. "Two thousand for starters."
"Five," she said into his hair as his lips traveled along her collarbone.
"What?" He lifted his head and looked at her.
"Five," she repeated. "And ten when you find what you need. I'm not sticking my neck out for less."
He considered her for a few moments. "All right. Five right off the bat, and ten if I find what I want."
"When you find what you want," she corrected him with a tight smile on her face.
His hand entwined in her hair and he pulled her head back, exposing her throat. His mouth fastened onto her neck and she knew there would be a mark for her to hide in the morning. In retaliation, she bit his earlobe. "When?" she asked.
"Tonight," he said, then kissed her.
Marita was surprised to find herself turned on. He wasn't her type at all -- too young and too pretty -- but maybe it was the danger of the situation that aroused her. She looked into his dark green eyes. "Now," she said, and this time it was she who kissed him.
No one paid any attention to them as they stumbled out. The man played his part until they were in his car, then became cool and detached. Marita, nervous and excited, attempted to behave the same way. She was amazed at how the change in facial expression and posture altered him. He now looked dangerous and capable of anything. She licked her lips and composed herself. She was determined not to fuck this up.
"Don't go to Matheson's office," she said.
"Because he has me destroy all the interesting documents. I keep the copies in my apartment."
The man whistled through his teeth. "I'd heard rumors you were the one to approach to get to Matheson, but I had no idea."
She gave him directions to her place. "I always save everything," she said. "You never know what might come in handy some day."
Marita crossed her legs and squeezed them together, relishing the delicious ache it caused. She'd been screwing Senator Matheson for career advancement for months and had been getting nowhere. She was heartily sick of it. Now she found to her surprise that she wanted this man in her bed almost more than she wanted the ten thousand dollars. It was bizarre. Maybe it was because he was the first man she'd met in Washington who seemed more interested in doing his job than fucking her. It was a novel experience being sought out for her knowledge.
When she showed him into the second bedroom that served as her office, she said, "It would help if I knew what you were looking for."
"I think Matheson is leaking sensitive information to a certain FBI agent. I'd like proof to take back to my superiors."
Marita could appreciate that. He was just like her -- trying to move up in a dog eat dog world. "The FBI agent -- what does he look like?" she asked.
"Tall, dark hair, lanky, sort of a hang-dog expression on his face."
The description struck a chord in her. "Go get the money," said Marita. "I think I have your proof."
While the man left to go back to the car, Marita went to her files. Now what had she filed that under? C for conspiracy? No. She paused, trying to remember the conversation she'd overheard between the two men. It had been an odd one. A for abduction? No, not that either. An idea came to her and she pulled out the correct file. U for UFO. She had no idea why the senator was interested about flying saucers and didn't much care. His eccentricities didn't particularly interest her.
The man came back in with a briefcase. "Show me what you have," he said.
"The money first."
He unlatched the case on the desk then turned it slowly toward her. Marita's breath caught in her throat. It was beautiful, all that money, sitting there in large stacks. She closed her open mouth and flashed a glance at the man. His look was knowing, but not judgmental. He understood what she felt. She experienced another stab of desire for him.
"Your turn," he said, and fished the folder out of her hands, then opened it up. "That's our boy," he said. He paged through the rest of the information in the folder. "You have transcripts of their conversations?" he asked.
"Only the ones I managed to tape," she said.
"You are one dangerous woman," he said, and gave her a brilliant smile. "Lucky for you, you're more useful to me alive than dead."
She laughed loudly. It only occurred to her later that he hadn't been kidding.
"Let me show you how useful I can be," she said, and started to unzip her dress.
"A very dangerous woman," he repeated. "You don't even know my name."
"What's your name?" she asked, slipping the dress off of her shoulders so that it fell in a puddle at her feet.
"You don't need to know that," he said, his voice steady as he looked her up and down.
Marita let out a throaty laugh. She'd just made a shady deal with a complete stranger and was horny as hell. She felt more alive than she ever had in her life. "You're right, I don't." She reached forward to loosen his tie. "I don't even care what it is," she said as she unbuttoned his shirt.
"Good," he said, and he cupped her face in his hands before his mouth covered hers.
Her hands swept over his back, over his ass, and down his legs as far as she could reach. She molded her body into his and felt his erection through his wool trousers. "Not here," she managed to say and pulled him down the hall to her bedroom.
When he was naked before her, she was startled by the scars covering his body. What the hell has he been through? she wondered right before his mouth found her breast and all thoughts fled.
For the first time in months, she called all the shots. "Touch me there," she said. "Put your mouth on me here. Oh, God, yes, right there." And he did.
Afterward, sated, she curled into a drowsy ball. She was drifting off into sleep when she felt the bed shift under her. She opened her eyes and saw him slide off the bed. "Wait," she said.
"I have to go," he said.
He bent down and kissed her, his tongue sweeping in to caress hers. "Alex," he whispered as he pulled away. "My name's Alex." He walked out.
She lay there for some time, contemplating the night's events. Holy fuck, she thought. Did all that really happen? She staggered out of bed and headed to her office. The manila folder was gone but the briefcase remained. A note was on the case.
"There is five here. Five more will be delivered in a few days. I will be in touch."
"This is it," Marita said aloud to the room. "I've made it. This is the big time." A wide grin spread across her face. Somehow she knew her life would never be quite the same again.
Her body screamed with agony.
She felt a hand on her forehead and heard, "Poor Marita." Daddy? She thought for one confused moment. She opened her eyes. No, this man was not her father.
"No," she muttered, her throat hoarse. "Go away. No more tests. No more. No more. No..." She began to cough, choking on the clouds of smoke that hung in the air.
"No," Spender said. "No more tests. I think we've discovered everything we can from you. At the same time, you've learned how foolish betrayal can be. We've both gained from this experience, won't you agree?" His lips smiled around a cigarette.
She had often thought, in her more lucid moments, that she would have fucked Satan himself to flee from the tests, so now she was surprised by the black rage that filled her. Spender might be her only means of escape, but right at this moment she wanted him dead. Held down by restraints, her hands curled into futile fists. "What more do you want from me?" she asked.
"Nothing more than was ever expected from you, Marita: your loyalty and cooperation. Are you prepared to give them?"
Marita took a deep breath and unclenched her hands. She had indeed learned many things while being used as a human lab rat, not least of which was how to bide her time.
"Yes," she said.
Marita sat at the end of cottage's dock on a wooden bench. She spent most of her time out there when she wasn't acting as Spender's little step-and-fetch-it girl. She liked to stare into the murky depths of the lake and wonder what it would be like to tumble off the dock and sink down into the water until she rested on the lake bottom. She never leaned over far enough to find out, but she thought about it often. It was a game she played: how badly did she want to escape her situation? Down at the bottom of the lake was the only place Spender couldn't pursue her. So far she had always decided that trading her life for freedom was a bad deal, but still she came to the dock every chance she could. It was good to know that she had options.
She heard someone walking up behind her on the dock. It wasn't Spender, of course. He was gone right now, and not expected back until tomorrow. Besides, he never ventured out to the lake. An odd, painful emotion rose within her. Could it possibly be Alex? She hadn't seen him in so long, not since Fort Marlene. She couldn't forget how he looked that day, emotions battling for supremacy on his face: fear and anxiety, impatience, anger, and regret, although she might have imagined the last.
Krycek was the reason why she had been locked away in that half-forgotten laboratory and used as a guinea pig for the black oil vaccine. She had betrayed him and he in turn had betrayed her. Tit for tat. She still wasn't sure why she'd done it. Maybe it had been for the simple reason that she could. She had been so drunk on her own power that she had thought herself invulnerable and invincible. Now she knew that one's life could change completely in the space between seconds. It was a lesson she wouldn't forget.
Marita risked a glance over her shoulder. The person coming down the dock was Krycek. Her heart sped up as adrenaline flooded her veins. Was it fear or excitement she felt? Maybe it was both.
"Alex," she said, turning back around.
"Marita," Krycek replied.
"It's been a long time," she said, her eyes on the water.
"I came to see the old man," Krycek said.
"He's out," Marita said, "trying to save his sorry excuse of a life." She drew her legs up onto the bench and hugged them, resting her cheek on her knee. Of course he hadn't come to see her. How could he have even known where she was? And even if he had known, why would he have cared?
Krycek walked over and sat down beside her. "When's he coming back?" he asked.
Marita's shoulders rose and fell. She concentrated on acting as if seeing him again meant nothing to her. "Tomorrow, supposedly. Will you stay until then?"
"What choice do I have?"
A bitter smile twisted her face. "I ask myself that all the time. Go tell Petra to make a room up for you. You'll probably find her hiding in the kitchen."
Krycek continued to sit next to her. Instead of looking at her, he gazed out at the blue lake. After a few minutes' silence, he turned to her and said, "You understand why I did what I did?"
No need to ask him for clarification. "Of course," she said, thinking that yes, she supposed she did understand why he had thrown her to the wolves and later left her to die, but she had no idea why he was bringing it up now. Could he be feeling sorry for his act of revenge? Was it even possible for Krycek to feel regret? Questions swam through her head.
Krycek rose and turned to leave.
Marita had written off Krycek long ago, after he had been the third man in one night to abandon her to her fate. Jeffrey, Mulder, and Krycek. All Spender's boys in one way or another, and all had been in a position to help her but failed to do so. Of the three of them, only Krycek's abandonment had hurt. Marita had thought they were even. She had betrayed him and he her. When she'd seen Alex that night, she'd thought he'd come to rescue her. Had she been foolish, or delirious from the painful tests, or just full of arrogance? She didn't know, but it had been a huge blow when she realized that Krycek meant to leave her there to rot. A part of her had died that day, but she had buried it and no longer mourned its loss. Marita hadn't expected to see Krycek again, despite his connection to Spender. She'd figured he'd find a way to avoid her, one way or another. Nevertheless, here he was, turned up like a bad penny, and she couldn't seem to let well enough alone.
Something in her couldn't let him walk away from her again. She wanted to hurt him, to know that she still could. "Alex," she said, "I never expected you to save me. You can't even save yourself."
He turned back to face Marita. "I don't need saving," he said, but his voice sounded hollow to her ears, and his face was too blank. She'd managed to hit a nerve.
"Of course not," she said in mock pity. She wanted to push his buttons, to make him feel something for her, if only contempt. His disinterest was intolerable.
She saw that her sarcasm hit its mark. There was a flare of fury in his eyes and then he lunged for her. At first Marita thought he was going to hit her, but instead she felt his fingers bite into her upper arm. He pulled her to her feet and started to shake her but then his mouth was on hers, hard and insistent and hungry. Her arms automatically went around him. One of her hands ran along the familiar muscles of his back, the other curled around the base of his neck. She had almost forgotten what it was like to kiss Alex, but it was rapidly coming back to her. Right then there was no past, no future, only the present, only her, only him. She wanted the moment to last forever.
Krycek abruptly pushed her away and brushed a hand across his mouth. He backed away from her, his face a mask of confusion and need. Marita licked her lips, wanting to taste him again, and Alex reached out to the dock railing for support.
"You'd better go," she said, afraid of what she'd do if he stayed. Probably prostrate herself at his feet or something as equally humiliating.
"Marita," he began.
"Please," she said. Don't make me beg, she thought.
Krycek turned his back on her and walked away. Marita was grateful for the opportunity to compose herself. She hadn't been prepared for his sudden appearance, and was shaken by seeing him again, but she was determined to use the situation to her advantage.
Marita went back to staring at the lake, but now she concentrated not on its depths, but on its surface. The sunlight caught in the water glittered like chunks of gold. It was so hot that the sky overhead was nearly white. She relished the heat of the Indian summer sun on her skin. Marita had not quite forgotten the feel the alien oil within her. It had been so cold, so dark.
It horrified her to think that the rest of the human race would eventually share her experience. At one point this wouldn't have bothered her, or at least not very much, but time had passed since then. Since the moment she recovered from the effects of the testing, she started searching for a way to end colonization. She told herself that it would be her one great act of altruism, but deep down she was more interested in thwarting Spender. He was first on her long list of people with whom she had a score to settle.
Seeing Alex again was an opportunity that she shouldn't let slip through her fingers. Marita had no reason to trust him, but he might have his own reasons for helping her. She was not thinking of guilt, nor of obligation, but rather of Krycek's own self-interest. She could imagine him going to great lengths to save the one person he truly loved: himself.
There had been a time, when she was much younger and still had a little innocence left, that she had thought differently. Not that she believed in fairy tale endings -- she was far too cynical for that - - but she had imagined he cared for her. Just a little. She had long ago given up that notion, but now, after the kiss, she was beginning to wonder. Was it possible that, contrary to all evidence, Alex Krycek was not made of stone? Now there was food for thought.
Marita felt a prickle start on her skin and knew that she was risking sunburn, but she didn't want to go back to the cottage and face Krycek just yet. The heat still felt good, and she was reminded of a time before everything went wrong. A time when a difficult decision was whether to sit in the sun or go swimming, drink iced tea or lemonade, to wear the pink dress or the red one. Back before every choice she made had the potential for disastrous consequences. Back when it was possible to turn left instead of right.
The conversation at dinner was desultory.
Perhaps it was because of Petra's timid hovering over the meal. Her aspect was an unsettling mixture of wanting to please and certainty that she never would. Marita found it irritating. She wondered why Spender employed her, but it occurred to her that he liked to be surrounded by broken creatures.
Marita was living proof of that. Spender was convinced that he had her completely cowed, and to a certain extent, he was right. Marita did fear him, even with his health beginning to flag. She knew that he had the power to crush her, to not just have her killed, but to make her death excruciating torture.
Even so, she was plotting Spender's downfall. She wasn't as broken as she seemed. That she had managed to deceive Spender thus far gave her great pleasure.
Marita looked at Alex over her plate of barely touched veal Marsala. She needed to speak to him about her plans before Spender returned, but she wasn't sure how to begin. The words wouldn't come out. She had almost decided what to say when her courage failed her. She couldn't figure out how to ask Krycek, who didn't trust her, to put himself in a dangerous position by helping her betray Spender. Marita wouldn't have been surprised if Krycek laughed in her face. So in the end, she picked at her food and said nothing.
Petra approached the table and tentatively asked Marita about her duties for the next day. While she was occupied, Krycek left the table. She looked up and found him gone, his napkin tented over his plate.
Marita sighed. She told herself that it was for the best. She would be better off finding a way to end colonization that didn't involve Krycek. It was good advice, but Alex was a useful man to have on your side. Since betraying him, Marita learned she didn't like to find herself on the opposite side of a battle with him.
This time I will stay in control, she told herself. I won't let my ego get in the way of my better judgment. I just want to make a business arrangement with Alex that is mutually beneficial. None of this is personal.
She repeated this to herself until she believed it.
Marita searched the house for Alex, finally finding him on the dark porch. He was looking out toward the lake. She didn't flip on the overhead porch light, knowing it would draw insects. She went to stand beside him. The only illumination was from the brief flare of fireflies and the reflection of the moon on the lake.
"What do you want?" he asked brusquely.
She almost replied, "Nothing," but stopped herself. "A lot," she said. "The world."
"The world is already owned," he said. "Maybe I should have asked what you want from me."
"What makes you think I want anything at all from you, Alex?" Marita asked. She had forgotten how perceptive he could be.
Krycek turned to face her and she could see the ghost of a smile in the faint light. "Why else would you have come looking for me?"
"I was lonely," she said, and although this wasn't the reason she'd sought him out, it wasn't a lie, either.
"Do you miss the old man so much, Marita?" Krycek sneered.
"I'm just window dressing for him. He keeps me because I'm pretty to look at and because he wants me kept. I'm useful to him, when he wants me to be." She hated that she felt she had to justify herself to him. How typical of Alex to put her on the defensive before she could go on the offensive.
Krycek snorted and went back to looking at the lake.
"I think he's dying," she said.
"He's indestructible," Krycek said and his voice rang with conviction. "He'll still be dying long after all of us are dead."
"And with that chilling thought," said Marita, "I think I'll say good night. I'll see you in the morning, Alex. Spender should be back by then." She could tell that she'd get nowhere trying to talk to him tonight. He was too immersed in his own thoughts to give any heed to hers. She turned to leave.
"Wait," he said, and caught her arm.
"What?" she asked as she turned back toward him. His eyes glittered at her.
"I'll probably regret this later, but I don't want you to go yet," he said. He pulled her toward him and kissed her deeply.
Caught off guard by him, a rush of desire filled her when his lips touched hers. She could feel the tips of her fingers tingle as she pressed them into Alex's back. His lips dragged over hers, pulling at them, and she sighed into his mouth. He pushed her back until she could feel the rough shingles of the house against the skin of her thighs. This was the last thing she wanted to happen, but at the same time she had been hoping it would. Fucking Krycek wouldn't get her anywhere, but her need for him was more powerful than her common sense.
"Yes," he moaned as her lips found his throat. She bit at the skin, needing to taste him, to bring part of him into her. His hand reached inside her blouse and underneath her bra. His fingers grazed her swollen nipple and her head fell back, banging into the rough shingles. She didn't notice the pain.
Her fingers fumbled with the buttons on her blouse to help him. His mouth replaced his hand and she let out the breath that she hadn't known she was holding. "Alex," she said and drug her hands through his hair. He knelt before her, his lips grazing her stomach, his fingers trailing up her thigh and under her short skirt.
She stumbled a bit as he nudged her legs apart but he steadied her. He pushed aside her panties and she arched her feet with anticipation. Touch me there, she thought, the words trapped in her throat. She let out an inarticulate, "Ah," as his fingers slid inside her.
"So wet, so hot," she heard him say then his lips were on her thigh. First he licked the skin there, then he bit it as his fingers slid back and forth, back and forth. "Oh, God," she cried out, and banged her head against the shingles again.
He removed his fingers and she whimpered with frustration until he put his mouth on her. He used his lips and tongue and teeth. She had forgotten how good he was at this, how much she loved it. "Alex, Alex," she breathed. "Yes. Oh, God, yes." He didn't stop until the orgasm hit her and she half crumpled.
He stood, hauling her up with him. He unzipped his jeans and she pushed his hands away, wanting to touch him. She could feel him tremble as she pulled him out. One hand caressed his balls and the other stroked the shaft. He stood before her, all of him focused on what she was doing with her hands. "I want you now," she said, and pushed his jeans further down on his hips.
Krycek pushed her back against the wall and half lifted her. She reached down and guided his body into hers, then wrapped her legs and arms around him. He thrust into her deeply and she felt the scrape of the shingles along her skin combined with the intense feeling of him inside her. Her body, already sensitive, rocketed toward another climax. Was it always this good, or had it just been too long? She couldn't remember, and didn't care. Her mouth locked onto his, and they fed hungrily upon each other. Tension built inside her until it exploded for a second time. Lights, like fireflies, flashed behind the lids of her eyes. Krycek's body thrust a final time beneath hers, then stilled. Yes, she thought. This was how it should be. This was how it should always be.
He pulled away from her, leaving her body. She felt the inevitable wetness on her thighs. So messy, but she couldn't bring herself to care. She put a hand out for support and grabbed hold of the porch railing. "Oh my," she said, and it sounded trite to her own ears, but her brain didn't seem to be functioning properly yet.
She heard him chuckle. It was a very self-satisfied sound. She saw that he had already straightened his clothing. The only evidence of what they just did was that his breathing was still heavy. Marita's numb fingers started to button her blouse. Alex leaned against the porch railing to watch her.
When she had finished adjusting her appearance, she pushed away from the wall and was pleased that her legs supported her weight. She wanted to say something witty and off hand. She needed the perfect exit line to be able to waltz back into the house as if nothing had just occurred. Nothing came to her. "Good night," she said and started to walk past him.
She felt his eyes on her as she left.
She walked up the stairs and down the hallway to her room. She was halfway through undressing when she heard the door open. Krycek stood there in the doorway for a moment before entering her room and closing the door behind him. He began to undress.
Her heart started to beat wildly in her chest. She wanted to be alone to gather her wits about her, but she wasn't strong enough to tell him to leave.
"You didn't think I was done with you, did you?" he said. Krycek reached over and flipped the light switch off. "'Cause I'm not done with you yet. Not by a long shot." His voice was full of menacing promise.
She should have been filled with dismay or outrage at his words. Instead she only felt triumph. After all this time, Krycek wasn't any more immune to her than she was to him.
"Good," Marita said. "I'm not done with you, either."
Marita looked at her lover's sleeping face in the dawn light that streamed through her open windows. He looked years younger and all together different from the man she knew. He almost looked like the innocent boy she had taken him for when they'd first met. She didn't want to wake him, but knew she had no choice. Spender would be home soon. It was now or never if she wanted to recruit his help.
"What?" he murmured, his voice heavy with sleep.
"I never got a chance to tell you what I wanted from you," Marita said.
"Didn't you already get it?" Alex asked, a smirk forming on his face.
In another age, in another lifetime, Marita would have howled with laughter. Now the stakes were too high to play games. "Alex, I'm serious," she said. "I want to stop colonization."
She could tell by his expression that this wasn't what he had been expecting. "Marita..."
"We could do it. We *can* do it."
"What the hell's brought this on?" he asked.
Marita began doubting the wisdom of waiting until dawn to broach the subject with Alex. Instead of being more amenable to her plans, he just seemed grumpy. Still, if she didn't say something now, she likely never would. She pressed on, hoping for the best.
"I barely lived through the vaccine, Alex. It never seemed real to me before, but now I realize that I can't sit by and watch it happen and do nothing. I'll live through the apocalypse, but what'll be the point?"
Krycek looked at her as if she'd grown two heads. "You can't stop the inevitable, Marita. You should know that by now."
"I'm sorry," she said, tasting defeat before she'd even gotten started. "I should have known better than to ask for help from you, of all people." Her voice was edged with bitterness.
Krycek rose from the bed and began to hunt on the floor for his clothes.
"I need some fresh air," he said. "I'm going for a walk." He headed for the door of her room.
Marita couldn't believe that she was being dismissed this easily. She'd expected an argument from Alex, but not total disregard. Not after everything they did last night. She didn't know what to say.
"Look," said Krycek, "even if I wanted to stop colonization, it can't be done. It'd be like telling the earth not to spin. You need to get these ideas out of your head. You're not doing yourself any favors."
Was Alex trying, in his own backward way, to help her? He almost sounded sincere. Marita was almost touched.
As he started to walk away, Marita found she couldn't let him leave without a warning, even if he wasn't going to give her the help she wanted.
"Spender told me that he's sending you to Tunisia, Alex," she called out before he closed the door to her room. Krycek turned back toward her. She couldn't quite make out his face in the gloom of the hallway. "Be careful. I think it's a trap."
"Tunisia," he said. "Fuck. I hate the heat." Then he closed the door behind him and she was left alone.
Marita wondered if he'd heed her warning, but there was no point in worrying about it. She'd have to find a way to get on without Krycek's help. She was disappointed, but she told herself that she wasn't any worse off than she had been before he came.
Marita hugged the pillow Alex had slept on and breathed in the scent he'd left on it. She felt his absence already. Damn him for coming back and reminding her of what she'd been missing.
She threw the pillow across the room. She didn't need him. Now if she could only convince herself of that.
Spender wasn't happy about letting Marita go to fetch Krycek, but he didn't have a choice. With his health failing steadily, the few remaining members of the Consortium were at loose ends, drifting aimlessly. He had no one whom he could trust to do the job but her. Not that he trusted her, either, but she was the best he could do.
"Don't fail me," said Spender before succumbing to a fit of coughing. His nurse looked upon Marita with disapproval, as if she had caused the coughing spasm. "Don't come back here and tell me he's slipped through your grasp. Do you hear me?"
Spender looked like a wreck. His emphysema had progressed to the point where a tracheotomy had to be performed. He liked to smoke through the opening it left in his neck. It was a gruesome sight. He was a gruesome sight. He was holding onto life by sheer tenacity now.
The old man's sun was setting and Marita couldn't be more pleased.
"Yes, I hear you," she said. She tried to keep the distaste out of her voice. She wasn't free of Spender yet.
Marita knew why Spender wanted Krycek, knew every detail of his plans. Spender wasn't happy about sharing his secrets, but he was unable to do many things himself now, and he was convinced that Marita wouldn't dare to betray him again.
Which just goes to show, she thought, that there's no fool like an old fool. Even dying, his body riddled with cancer, Spender should have known better. He had given her the keys to end colonization. He was a fool indeed to suppose for a second that she wouldn't use the information she'd been given.
Just this one last thing, she thought. One more job and I can be free of him forever. Nothing could stop her now. She hoped to enlist Krycek's aid after ensuring his release, but if he again refused to help her, even this wouldn't deter her. She was done with moping around and letting others run her life. Her life was again about to radically change, this time for the better.
She was going to engineer a new dawn, a new world order, and she was hoping to bring Alex along for the ride. He was useful, he wasn't hard on the eyes, and it was possible that she might love him. Maybe. She hadn't quite decided yet. But if he got in her way, she'd eat him alive. She was in that kind of mood.
At the prison in Tunisia, the warden introduced himself and handed Marita a satchel containing Krycek's belongings. She saw that his arm was in there and felt a prickle of irritation that they had taken it away from him. She wondered how long he'd been without it.
"I'll admit that I'm not sad to see him go," the warden said. "He's been a most...difficult prisoner."
That sounded like Alex. "I want you to take me to him," she said.
"I wouldn't advise that," said the warden. "There are rough men in there--thieves, rapists, murderers. Why don't you wait here and we'll have the prisoner brought here and placed into your custody?"
Marita shook her head. Krycek had been in prison for nearly seven months. There was no telling what he'd try to do once he'd been given his freedom. She couldn't allow him to give her the slip. "Out of the question," Marita said. "I don't intend to let him out of my sight."
The warden looked skeptical. "I'll send you down with a guard, if you're sure."
"That'll be fine," she said, and stood.
"You should prepare yourself," said the warden as Marita was about to leave with her escort. "He's very hostile. He's also cunning and vicious."
She ignored this and followed the guard down into the bowels of the prison.
When they reached his cell, the guard called for Krycek to come forward. The first thing Marita noticed was that he was filthy. He needed a bath, and maybe a flea dip as well. In general, he looked like hell on a bad day, and she felt something stir inside of her that might have been pity and might have been something else all together.
"Your release has been arranged," she said to him, and she thought she saw a brief flare of hope in his eyes before anger clouded them again.
Considering that she was his ticket to freedom, he didn't seem all that happy to see her. Of course, what did she expect, for him to jump up for joy and give thanks that his captor had deigned to set him free? She'd known he'd be in a shitty mood and still she'd agreed to do this, and it wasn't merely because it had allowed her to leave the old man's side.
Marita acknowledged that she wanted to see Alex again. It was a weakness, but one that she seemed both powerless and unwilling to overcome. Besides, anger wasn't the only emotion betrayed by his face. He also looked as if he could eat her up. Given enough time, and enough soap and water, she planned on handing him a spoon. Enlisting Krycek's assistance wasn't the only thing she came here hoping to do.
"He can't leave in this state," she told the guard. "He's filthy. Is there somewhere he can clean up?"
Marita and Krycek were in the bathroom of the her hotel room. Alex was sitting on the floor, his only clothing a towel swathed around his hips. In his hand was a tumbler full of ice and some of the vodka Marita had managed to smuggle into the country. She sat behind him, perched on the edge of the tub, wearing one of the hotel's robes.
When she'd gotten him out of the prison, Krycek had been a mass of seething anger, but slowly he'd been cooling off, both figuratively and literally. The first thing he'd done after stepping inside the hotel room was to crank the AC to its highest level. Marita had poured drinks for both of them before getting out the vast array of chemicals she'd brought with her. She'd gotten a little bit of everything, not knowing what shape Alex would be in: shampoo and lotion for lice, antibiotic ointment, anti- fungal cream, bandages, the works. She'd felt like a walking pharmacy as she'd gotten through customs with the help of fifty dollars and a guard who was willing to look the other way. It was just as well, though, that she'd been prepared. She'd ended up using most of what she'd brought.
Disinfecting Alex had taken part up most of the day and part of the previous night. Marita was almost finished with him, doing a final check of his hair by running a metal comb through it. She'd been burning to spill Spender's secrets to Krycek, but she'd told herself to wait until he'd had ample time to relax. That he was able to sit patiently before her and let her groom him spoke volumes. He was as ready as he'd ever be.
"I think that's all of them," she said, and threw the comb into the trashcan where it made a metallic ping. She lightly rested her hands on Krycek's shoulders, wondering where she should begin.
"You haven't told me," he said, startling her out of her reverie, "why I've been sprung out of jail. The old man have a change of heart, or did he need a flunky?"
"What do you think?" Marita said.
She removed her hands from his shoulders and stood up. She decided that before she began, she needed another drink. She left the bathroom and returned a short while later with a drink in her hand, the ice clinking gently. "We need to talk," she said.
Marita left the bathroom again, hoping Krycek would follow. She sat in a chair and drew her knees to her chest. She took large sips of her drink to try calming her now jangling nerves. After a few minutes, Krycek appeared. He'd left the towel behind in the bathroom. Marita tried not to stare at his body. It wasn't as if she hadn't seen it before, but as he walked across the room, the abuse Alex had suffered in the prison was more evident that it had seemed earlier. She had bandaged the worst of his abrasions and cuts, but his bruises stood out starkly, and she could tell that he'd lost considerable weight.
Marita cleared her throat. "You've got a few more scars," she said.
He sat on the bed across from her and shrugged. He didn't seem to want to talk about it.
She'd wanted to have this conversation with Alex for weeks now, ever since she put all the pieces together, but now she didn't know where to start. Doubts assailed her. What if he didn't believe her? What if he wouldn't help her? Was she as foolish for sharing this information with Krycek as Spender had been sharing the information with her? It wasn't too late to change her mind.
Marita looked at Krycek. She knew he was dangerous, but she could use his help. More importantly, she wanted his help. There was another angle to worry about as well. If she didn't let him in on her plans, but went through with them anyway, Alex would find out. He'd see it as just another betrayal by her and she'd lose him for good this time. She wasn't ready to close the door on him. Not yet.
Just start, she told herself. Do it.
"I know how to stop colonization," she said in a rush. "Or at least to halt it for now. We can save the whole damn planet, Alex. But more than that," she continued, knowing what he really cared about, "we could hurt Spender and get rid of Fox Mulder forever."
Krycek said nothing, but at least he looked interested. It was encouraging.
"Spender is very sick now," she said, "and he isn't able to guard his secrets as well as he used to. I've found out a lot, recently. A lot of unbelievable shit. Spender knows how to stop colonization. The shape shifters and the grays have been fighting a war forever. The grays chose Earth as a sort of bunker, and plan to use humans as foot soldiers."
"I already know that, Marita," he said, impatience to coloring his voice. "Could you get to the point?"
Marita ignored the interruption. "The rebel aliens don't want colonization any more than we do, and they want to take the war elsewhere, but they need something from us first. Think of it. Having the means to lift the threat of black oil from the world and refusing to do so. This was what Spender has done for months, out of stubbornness and for the love of a woman who probably hated him."
"What?" Krycek asked. "Do you mean Teena Mulder? What the hell does she have to do with it?"
"Nothing," said Marita, "except that she loved her only son very much."
Krycek put down his drink on the bed's nightstand. "Marita, what the hell were you getting at?"
"Years ago, as part of the bargain they struck with the colonizing aliens, members of the Consortium gave up their children to the aliens for experimentation in exchange for an alien fetus."
"This isn't exactly news," Krycek said.
"Each member had to make a contribution, that's the important fact," Marita said, standing up and beginning to pace the room. "We always assumed that Bill Mulder sent his daughter and Spender sent his wife, but we were wrong."
"What do you mean? That's what fucking happened."
"No," she said, and a smile spread across her face. "Think about it, Alex. You know that Samantha Mulder was actually Spender's child. The aliens did extensive genetic testing. They discovered that one member of the group hadn't lived up to his end of the deal. They demanded the payment they were owed. Both Spender and Bill Mulder had their reasons for not wanting to comply with the aliens' demands, but the other Consortium members overruled them. They told Teena Mulder that her son was going to school in England. She never suspected that her only remaining child was also being given to the aliens."
Krycek had a stunned expression on his face. "Holy fucking mother of God. Fox Mulder was one of the abductees?"
"Oh, yes," said Marita. The smile was still on her face. She could see Krycek working out the details in his head, piecing things together.
"So he's a goddamned hybrid?" he asked. He seemed thunderstruck, and then a huge grin spread across his face. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning.
Marita nodded. "Or partial hybrid. I'm not sure. He wasn't with the aliens for very long," she said. "For the love of Teena Mulder, Spender made sure he was returned, mostly good as new, with no memory of what had happened to him. For a while, everyone seemed happy. Teena had her son back, Bill Mulder had done his bit for the bargain, and arrangements were made to enroll Fox into Oxford so neither he nor his mother would realize that he was missing nearly a year from his life. Supposedly no one but the Consortium members knew the truth. Years went by and no one became the wiser, but I think Teena figured out what happened. I suspect that's why she became estranged from both her husband and her lover."
"That," said Krycek, "and they were both grade-A assholes."
"That, too," agreed Marita with a grin. "Anyway, Mulder was busy going about his little alien hunting life, with no idea that how weird the truth really is, when he showed up on a routine scan performed by the rebel aliens to check for human hybrids."
"Let me guess," said Krycek. His smile, if possible, became wider. "They thought they'd offed all the grays' science projects, but here was one specimen left, still alive and kicking. They must have been pissed."
"Yeah. They knew there was a hybrid still around, but they didn't know who it was. A representative from the rebels contacted Spender. They were certain he would be able to give them the last hybrid. In exchange, they promised to make sure that colonization doesn't happen here."
"So why didn't Spender hand Mulder over? It couldn't be entirely because of Teena Mulder. I don't buy that the old man was saving Mulder for sentimental reasons."
"No," said Marita. "Or at least not entirely. I think that was part of it, but not all. I think it's also because he's stubborn, and things aren't going his way. He's dying, and if he can't find a way to save his own life, he's not above taking everyone else on the planet with him."
Marita stopped pacing the room and came to stand directly in front of Krycek. "Okay, Alex, here's where it gets complicated. About a year ago, Mulder and Scully stumbled upon that ship that washed up in Africa. It did something to him, and even Spender isn't sure what it was, not completely. Spender theorized that it opened up part of Mulder's brain that was previously dormant. According to Spender, Mulder became telepathic. More than that, it changed something in his brain. Mulder was very sick after they found the ship in Africa, sick enough to nearly die. They performed some sort of brain surgery on Mulder -- I'm pretty sure that it was to try and cure Spender's cancer and not to save Mulder's life -- but it went wrong. Or something."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm not completely sure," said Marita. She crawled onto the bed behind Krycek. She put her arms around his waist and rested her chin on his shoulder. "I don't have a whole lot to go on. Diana Fowley, one of the few people who knew Spender's plans, or at least some of them, is dead."
"Now there's a big surprise," said Krycek.
"Tell me about it. Anyway, I think that Spender was trying to find a cure for his cancer, but whatever it was, they didn't find it. Spender's been looking for something to save his life since then and he's had no luck to date. He's getting very desperate. He thinks that the aliens are the only ones who can save him."
"So what's this got to do with handing Mulder over to the aliens?" Krycek asked.
Marita's hands roamed over his chest. "Spender doesn't want to end colonization. He's interested in only saving his own life, so he made the rebels a second offer. He said he would hand over Mulder only if the aliens cured his cancer. They refused his offer, telling him that saving his life was beyond their capabilities. When he heard this, Spender was furious. He knows approximately where the rebels' ship is hiding, and he's convinced that the aliens are lying to him, and that they can cure his cancer. Spender wants you to find the ship, somehow get aboard, and find something that will save him."
Krycek barked out a laugh. "Is he nuts? He wants me to search an alien ship for some mysterious and unnamed thing that will save his life? You've got to be kidding me."
Marita laughed softly. "I don't think he'll put it to you in exactly those terms. He's expecting that you'll be so grateful to be freed from prison that you'll do anything for him."
"He's out of his fucking mind if he thinks that," said Krycek.
"He doesn't have much longer to live," said Marita. "He's grasping at straws. Anyway, it doesn't matter because we're going to make sure Mulder gets on that ship. Spender has been using me as his emissary to the aliens. I've told them what Spender has planned. They've agreed to deal with me if I can deliver Mulder to them."
Unable to resist any longer, Marita lowered her mouth to Krycek's neck. She bit the skin then licked it, and was pleased to see him shiver.
"So all we have to do to save the world is give them Mulder," said Krycek. His hand reached back and entwined itself in her hair.
"Yeah," Marita said, "like he's a big, shiny present. It won't be hard, Alex. All we have to do is tell him that there is a spaceship and you know he'll be the first in line to get on board. It'll be a piece of cake. What do you think?"
"I think I want to send Fox Mulder's ass into outer space," he said. "But in the meantime, I'll settle for fucking you long and hard." He moved suddenly, rolling onto the bed and pinning Marita beneath him. She could feel his erection against her stomach. "What do you think about that?"
Marita squirmed beneath him, her robe coming undone. Her arms went around him, pulling his head down for her to kiss. "I think it's a plan," she said.
Contrary to what he'd said, Alex made love to her slowly, as if savoring each kiss, each caress. Marita was overwhelmed, and when she came, she blurted out the very worst words in the English language. "I love you." She berated herself for her stupidity and carelessness.
After the words had come out of her mouth, Krycek looked into her eyes and smiled. It was a possessive look, a look of ownership. Marita was frightened by it, but a little excited as well.
"Good," he said. Only that. Then he rolled out of bed and went to the bathroom to take a shower.
Marita curled into a ball on the bed, drawing her legs tightly against her chest. She was in love with Krycek. Her pulse thudded. She was doomed.
They'd nearly done it.
Marita knew it as soon as Mulder followed Scully out of the room. There was a look of obligation on his face, she thought. He followed his partner because it was his knee-jerk reaction to do so, but what he really wanted was to hear more about the alien ship. He wanted it more than he wanted to kill Krycek, wanted it more than he wanted his cute little partner. His eagerness was written all over his face.
Marita and Krycek exchanged a glance over the heads of the three geeks clustered above the maps heaped upon the table.
They were close now, so very close.
She almost felt sorry for Mulder, but neither she nor Krycek were forcing him onto the ship. They wouldn't need to. The person she really felt bad for was the woman out in the hall. Marita could see clearly that Scully was in love with Mulder. That was reason alone to pity her.
Marita knew what it was like to love unwisely. She looked at Alex again and felt a knife twist in her heart. A part of her wished she had never seen him again. This weakness of hers, always wanting the wrong thing at the right time, might just destroy her in the end. She felt certain that it was only a matter of time before he hurt her; it could be weeks or months or years in the future, but the day would come.
Krycek smiled at her and she knew she was lost. She feared that he meant, one day, to see her dead. She hoped that when it came to that, she would have the strength to kill him first. It seemed she had traded one type of bondage for another. Or maybe this was just the inevitable conclusion of meeting him nearly a decade ago.
She didn't know which was a worse fate: colonization or losing her heart to Alex Krycek.
She hoped she had made the right choice.
Spender looked so small to her now.
Could this possibly be the man from whom she cringed in terror for years? The evil that had sustained him was concentrated down to a few last drops. He berated both she and Krycek for failing him, but neither of them paid him any heed.
Krycek had a look in his eyes that was reminiscent of a hawk observing a rodent. He was patient, biding his time, but soon he would swoop down for the kill.
Marita expected that Krycek could see the same thing in her face. Their time had come and they both know it.
Was there fear in the old man's face? Maybe, just maybe.
Krycek moved to stand behind the wheelchair, eliciting a protest from his nurse. Perhaps she suspected her employment was at an end.
"I'm sending the devil back to hell," Krycek said. The hawk was diving down, the prey was in its sights, the time was at hand.
"As you do to Mulder and me, you do to all of mankind, Alex," the old man said. Even to the end, he held to the old bullshit, the old lies.
Krycek pushed the wheelchair to the edge of the steps and paused the barest of moments on the precipice before pushing Spender down, down, down to his death.
Marita stood next to Krycek and watched the old man fall. The wheelchair banged loudly as it went before it came to a stop, pinning its former occupant beneath it. He lay there, very still. Was he dead? she wondered.
She realized that it didn't matter. They'd won; he'd lost. Apocalypse was no longer a certainty and all bets were off. The future stretched out before them, undetermined and unknowable, as it should be. Anything seemed possible now, even happy endings.
Marita looked at Krycek. She thought that when the threat of colonization was gone, she wouldn't need anything more, but she was wrong. She should have realized that when one dream comes true, another takes its place. Now Alex was her impossible dream. Seeing Spender's broken body, and knowing he had been vanquished because of her, Marita felt like she could do anything. In comparison to saving the world, loving Alex would be easy, wouldn't it? Well, maybe not easy, but less than impossible. Surely this must be the case, she hoped.
She decided to look on the bright side. She'd never been in love before. It would be an adventure, and what good was any adventure without danger? Loving Krycek was likely the dumbest thing she'd ever done, but if she walked out of his life now, she'd never know what it would have been like if she'd stayed. It was an opportunity, no matter how foolish, that she could not pass up.
"Are you ready to go?" Krycek asked.
They walked down the stairs side by side. When they got to the old man, he was merely an obstacle to cross and nothing more. As they left, neither one looked back to the twisted wreckage on the floor.
Additional notes: This story was a long time in the writing. I'd like to thank the following people for their assistance: Tara Avery for giving the green light to a very early version; S. E. Parsons and M. Sebasky for tag team beta -- I tried my best to follow your advice; CazQ for her last minute buff and polish; and last but not least, Token, for believing in me and not letting me give up. YV, the drinks are on me.