A lamp was clicked on, casting a muted glow over the calm face of the man holding a knife to her throat.
He was younger than Alex, perhaps in his early 30's, with shoulder-length hair tied behind his head. Wisps of it hung in his face, the ends twisted into small curls from the dampness of the rain. She could even make out light blonde highlights amidst the dark brown hair when he turned his head.
Scully was again aware of the sharp scent of mink oil coming from his thigh-length coat. The collar was drawn up close to his ears, almost hiding a raised track of scar tissue that traced across his jaw and down the side of his neck. The dark leather was drying slowly from the rain, and it creaked every time he moved, sending the smell of wet leather and oil throughout the room.
He wore a heavy knit sweater that failed to disguise the strength of his large chest. Muscled arms and shoulders bulged under the coat, and she could make out at least one other weapon hidden in its lining.
Danya placed the gun down on the bed and gripped his knife between his teeth long enough to tie her hands to the headboard. Obviously he kept other things besides weapons in that coat, she thought, feeling the nylon wrap around her wrists.
"I really must apologize for the mess I'm making of these lovely sheets, Miss Scully," Danya said, rainwater still dripping from his leather coat. "Although, knowing my brother's libido, they were probably already stained before I got here."
He smiled at her after he said those words--a bright, flashy grin that drew attention to his facial features, now unmistakably familiar. She was unsure before, but the softly lit room told the truth: her green-eyed devil had a brother.
Scully couldn't see where Alex was in the room, and she began steeling herself for the sight of Danya's head exploding in front of her from a well-placed bullet. What else should she expect? Brother or not, the man still held a gun to her head and a sharp blade dangerously close to her throat. She was helpless, she knew, but Alex was here in the room with her. He wouldn't allow her to be harmed. Would he?
She shivered at the thought, and Danya curled his blade around a strand of her hair. "Did someone just walk over your grave, Miss Scully?"
She didn't answer, choosing to calm herself by waiting for the report of Alex's weapon. But the room remained silent, except for the sound of her labored breathing and the rain pattering on the window.
"It's a strange situation we're dealing with here, you and I, Miss Scully," Danya said, leaning back and rubbing his stubbled chin with the knife in contemplation. "Normally I would have simply shot you dead. Neat. Clean. Without all these..." he motioned to the position in which he was sitting, "...messy distractions. But you, Miss Scully, seem to be extraordinarily important to my benefactor."
She caught sight of Alex then, as he walked into the room and tucked his gun back into the holster hidden near his abdomen. His eyes were locked on hers when he quietly took a seat on the sofa next to where his jacket lay draped.
Scully wanted to cry out, to scream at him to help her, until she saw something she thought she'd never see in Alex's eyes.
She stared at him in disbelief, watching his eyes, and she realized he was hesitant to take action. Alex Krycek. Hesitating. Cautious. Scared. Scully looked at Danya, then over at Alex again.
Alex was trying to choose.
He was trying to make a choice between his brother and the woman sharing his bed. The sight of the holstered weapon in his waistband told her he had already made his decision.
"Alex," she pleaded.
He looked away, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.
"This *is* a strange situation we're dealing with," Danya commented, taking in the traded glances between the two and Scully's cry for help. "You learn something new every day in this business, don't you, Alyosha?"
Alex didn't even look up at his brother's question.
"You see," he said in explanation, turning back to Scully, "a bounty hunter collects payment only when his quarry has been trapped and delivered, dead or alive. But then, I'm not your typical bounty hunter..." Scully found her strength again and snapped, "You prefer to deal with *dead* rather than *alive*?"
Danya laughed, a deep, throaty chuckle Scully could feel vibrate through her legs. His eyes danced, enjoying her implication of his devious nature.
"Indeed, Miss Scully." Danya removed the knife he was holding to his chin and began running the blade over his glistened lip. "You paint a very good picture, but I was never sent here to kill you. My threats are appropriate because of your FBI background." He nodded to the weapon he held at her head. "And because I was told not to underestimate you."
"Good advice," she hissed.
"I learned from one of the best," he offered, grinning in his brother's direction. She watched the blade play across his pursed lips as he spoke. "Vassily Peskow sends his regards."
Alex looked up suddenly, and Scully caught a flash of something brimming under his hooded, darkened eyes. It both intrigued and scared her.
She squirmed slightly, tiring of the long-winded attempts at explanation. "Then what the hell do you want with me?"
Danya placed his gun into a pocket of his coat, and leaned down close to her chest. Following the line of her jaw, he slid his hand behind her ear and around to the back of her neck. He felt for the scar that hid the implanted chip beneath it, and raked his nails over it lightly. "I came for this...the chip."
The trembling sigh that escaped Alex's lips when Danya said those words startled Scully even more than the declaration from the man looming over her. What was this?
"I was paid half just for this *attempt*, but it was easier than I thought, thanks to Alyosha." Danya glanced over at his brother, who returned the stare. "Imagine my surprise when I discovered the woman I've been hunting has been sitting right in my big brother's lap, so to speak. You're worth a lot to me, Miss Scully, and I was instructed not to harm you, only to remove the chip." He ran a fingertip over her bare thigh. "I hope Alyosha hasn't been too rough."
Scully fought the need to brush his hand away, concentrating instead on what Danya revealed to her. "Remove the chip and you kill me anyway, son of a bitch."
He ignored her insult and continued rubbing her leg. "Yes, I heard, but I promise to be quick and efficient with the knife as long as you don't struggle." He smiled again, which was really becoming annoying, Scully thought. "That way you can have a lovely open casket. Mahogany. Or cherry. Cherry, I think, would go better with your hair."
She flinched at the light tone of his voice, wishing she could make a grab for his knife and twist it into his throat. Perhaps someone had already tried and failed, giving him that noticeable scar. Scully stole a glance at Alex, still sitting impassively on the couch.
He sat there, motionless, and their eyes locked again. Watching him, her mind swirled with apprehension and doubt.
She gave up everything for Alex, choosing to abandon her rigid belief in an ordered universe of common sense, and to instead allow him to run away with her heart. She made the decision to let her emotions control what was happening, and she knew now what a terrible mistake it had been.
She gave herself *to* him, wanting to trust, needing the heat of his body next to hers, hoping for...something Mulder could never be. The warmth of tender kisses across her mouth and neck. Hands, strong yet gentle, guiding hers to where he wanted to be touched. The way he smelled of leather and sweat after their lovemaking in the Cadillac. It was a longing Scully hadn't known for some time, and it annoyed her when she realized she had been so careless.
She permitted herself to *feel*. Lust, desire, need, want. Emotions she kept quietly buttoned inside her neat FBI pantsuits but chose to share with the man who stepped into the basement office and announced, "I came for her."
Now, it seemed, Scully had not only given up her soul, but her life as well to Alex Krycek.
Alex rose from the small sofa and walked over to the bed. "Remove the chip and she'll die slowly, Bohdan. I've seen it. There will be no open casket."
Danya wasn't looking at his brother, but at Scully's eyes. "Will you suffer like the others?" he asked plainly.
"If you mean the cancer, yes, it will return if you remove the chip." The thought suddenly occurred to her as to what they were talking about. "Why is it so important to you--to your "benefactor"--to possess it?"
Danya's brow knitted in confusion. "You don't know?"
"Know what?" she snarled, suddenly flashing back to the incident on the bridge. "That my life has been a living hell since that chip was first implanted? As far as I can tell, the chip may be the only thing keeping me alive, or it may have a far more ominous purpose. Either way, I still die if you remove it."
Danya slid off her legs now, and sat next to her on the bed, still holding the knife. He looked up at Alex standing next to the nightstand, and then touched Scully's hand. "It does have a far more ominous purpose, Miss Scully. *That* is why I need it. I'm sorry."
Before she could protest, Danya gripped her by the shoulder and started to turn her over.
"It's a shame, really," he said as she struggled. "Oonyeyo kraseevaya."
"Yes, she is beautiful," said Alex quietly, putting a hand on his brother's shoulder to stop him. Danya allowed Scully to roll back over, and he looked up at Alex.
"She *will* die after you cut out the chip, Danya," Alex said. He reached into his jeans pocket and removed a silencer, which he began screwing on to the weapon he had pulled from his waistband. "Why prolong her suffering? Mama taught us better."
"Fucking bastard!!" she screamed at Alex, until Danya clamped a hand over her mouth.
"Bite me and I get sloppy with the blade," Danya threatened, looking into Scully's terrified blue eyes. He was on top of her again, pushing down on her neck with his left hand while readying the knife in his right.
He motioned to Alex's silenced barrel. "This will cost me fifty thousand, Alyosha. She wasn't to be harmed..."
Alex waved his concern away. "It won't matter as long as you retrieve the chip. I know of several other...contacts of mine who are more than willing to give you double of what you were getting. Did Vassily advance you the bounty fee?"
Danya nodded. "The rest was to come from some connections of his in...Tunguska, I believe. Seems they are very anxious to get this chip." He pointed at Scully with the knife. "Would you like to do it? I usually don't kill women unless I get at *least* sixty thousand up front."
Tears began running down Scully's cheeks as she watched the two brothers laugh at her. She was shaking uncontrollably, unable to stop both the fear that was consuming her and the hot tears of betrayal that clung to her eyelashes. Helpless, alone, and defeated, she waited for one of the green-eyed devils to put the gun to her head and pull the trigger.
Finally, their laughter died away, and Alex became serious, gripping his brother's shoulder. "I would like *you* to do it, Bohdan Nicolavich, my little brother. Da?" Alex turned his weapon so that he held the silenced muzzle, allowing the gun's grip to face his brother.
Danya looked up and smiled. "Da, spaseeba. Thank you, Alyoshenka. It's been a long time."
Then he looked down at the trembling woman tied to the bed. "It seems Alyosha has given me the honor, Miss Scully. We haven't..."
The force of the blow to Danya's head while he was in mid-speech caused Scully to flinch and strain her wrists against the ropes.
The butt of Alex's weapon had smashed against Danya's temple, and he crumpled into her with a moan.
Alex stood above her, breathing heavily, his hand still gripped around the silenced muzzle. "Scully..."
"What happened to *Katie*, you bastard?" she cursed, still on guard. "Didn't feel like sharing the bounty with your brother? Is that why you came for me? Because there's a price on my head?"
"Yes," he admitted, placing his gun on the nightstand, "but you don't understand..."
"Like hell I don't! You've been working with Danya the entire time!"
"I haven't seen Bohdan in over seven years."
"Bullshit," she hissed. "All this time...all this..." her voice broke slightly, "after everything, this was all a sick game? What, use me like some whore and then kill me for the money?"
"Scully," he begged, "please, listen to me. You don't understand. If Bohdan found us, we're in greater danger than I thought. I wasn't sure if Vassily was involved...I needed to play along. Bohdan wasn't lying about the chip having a far more ominous purpose, and that's why I'm with you. Please, Scully. Please..."
The sound of his voice stopped her for a moment. "What are you talking about?"
"Katie, we have to get out of here before Bohdan..."
"Don't *Katie* me until you tell me what the hell is happening. And untie my hands, dammit."
Alex reached down on the bed for Danya's blade and easily sliced through the nylon ropes binding her wrists. But before Alex could react, Scully snatched her gun and holster from Danya's waistband and drew her Sig on Alex.
"Tell me," she said again.
"Ka...Scully...we need to get out of here, back on the road. When Bohdan doesn't return, his men will come, and then the others will come as well..."
"Who are the *others*?" she asked, her weapon still trained on him. "Answer me *Krycek*," she said, stressing his last name, "because I don't plan on just pistol-whipping you like your brother here. I plan on using the end that shoots *bullets*."
"Please, Katie, we need to leave, now."
"Tell me, Krycek," she threatened, softly clicking the hammer back on her weapon. "Why is the chip in my neck so important? Why am I in danger?"
He walked up to the barrel of her gun, and wrapped his hands around hers, pulling the muzzle to his head.
"What are you..."
"I swear what I'm about to tell you is the truth. I need you to believe me," Alex said. He paused, searching her confused expression. "But I want you to promise you'll come with me, so I can explain everything."
Alex stood there, his trembling hands entwined with Scully's, holding her weapon to his own head.
"Promise me, Katie," he repeated, "or you might as well pull the trigger."
He relaxed, and then Alex took a breath and shut his eyes.
It took her a moment to realize what was happening.
Alex was willing to sacrifice his life to get her to trust him. He was surrendering it to her, just as she had given him her heart.
She lowered the gun and he slowly opened his eyes.
"Alex," his Katie said, "I promise."