They were driving.
From behind the steering wheel, Scully watched the tracks of rain droplets race across the windshield as she pressed on the gas. The storm had passed and the night air was fresh from the rain; the soaked pavement was as slick and shiny as the racing black Cadillac.
He hadn't said a word when she got behind the wheel. Alex seemed to tense every time she tried to touch him, and she was almost sure she could see his eyes filled with tears, reflected in the passenger side window.
The miles they put between them and the incident in the hotel hadn't affected his dark mood. She could still feel his brother's knife at her throat, and she shivered. His actions had unnerved her, but she saw the fear and conviction in his eyes when he laced his fingers around her own and pulled the gun barrel to his head.
His life had been in her hands, but he held all the answers.
The reasons for Alex's quest, why he was with her, and why he risked everything to share her bed and her heart were buried beneath those hooded eyes. Scully wanted--and needed--to know.
So she drove.
Stars shone through the clearing night sky, causing Scully to involuntarily look up. She caught Alex watching her, and her eyes returned to the road.
"I wish I may, I wish I might..." he whispered, staring at her.
She didn't hear him, her concentration focussed instead on the dark road lit only by the car's headlights.
Scully sighed. "I'm here, Alex. I followed. I followed you with my promise, and now you've got to keep yours."
"I know," he admitted.
"And you also know I'm still armed."
Alex turned back to the window, pressing a hand to the glass. "Have you ever felt lost, Katie?"
She paused. "I'm not sure I understand..."
"Haven't you ever felt alone? Alone, lost, with no direction? Hasn't there ever been a time when everything in your life hurt, and you wanted nothing more than to stop that pain?"
She looked at him, then returned her eyes to the road.
"Were you lost when you were in the hospital dying from cancer?" he asked quietly.
"In a way," she said, recalling her words she had written in her journal. "But I had my family, and my faith, and..."
"You had Mulder."
She nodded. "He was with me much of the time, yes."
"What helped you survive, Katie? What made you want to continue to live, and not give in to that feeling of hopelessness? Why suffer?"
"I don't know. I was prepared..." she stumbled over the words, unsure of how to put it. "I was preparing myself for the inevitable. Conventional treatments had been exhausted...we didn't have further options. But...it didn't come. It didn't...I wasn't lost. And I didn't give in."
"Was it faith that saved you? Or was it Mulder?" he asked, fingertips tracing the dancing raindrops on his window.
"Mulder was the one who suggested we insert the chip, but we could never prove..."
"*The* chip, Katie, or *a* chip?"
Scully went silent, picking up on Alex's tone of voice. He seemed nervous, unsure of himself, and hesitant to look at her now. All conditions completely unlike the Alex Krycek she knew. "What are you talking about?" she demanded.
"What did he tell you about the chip he insisted be inserted in your neck?"
"That he discovered an underground entrance to the Pentagon through a DOD research facility, and found my name and the chip in a large filing system." Her eyes drifted from the road again. "Alex, whatever this is, I need you to..."
The Cadillac eased to the side of the road, and Scully cut the engine. She turned to him, waiting.
"Do you believe I wouldn't lie to you, Katie?" he asked suddenly. "Will you be able to understand why I need to be with you and why I'm doing this?"
"Are you going to tell me?" she asked, becoming annoyed. "Like I said, I kept my promise, and the longer it takes to explain, the less I understand your motivations."
"Why did you come with me, then? Why trust me at all?"
"I don't know," she admitted, "but I'm here. *Now* is what's important. I need you to tell me everything. Please, what's going on? I want to trust you, Alex."
"The way you trust Mulder?"
She shook her head in confusion, allowing him to continue. "If you trust Mulder with your life," he asked softly, "will you trust me with your heart?"
"Tell me," she pleaded. "Alex..."
He sighed deeply, and turned to face her. Alex's hand brushed her cheek, his fingers trembling slightly. "I was there in the hospital when you were dying," he began. "The one person who had ever shown me any compassion or respect was being taken from my life."
Scully's eyes started to swim with tears, and he wrapped his fingers around hers.
"But I knew it was your time, and I prepared myself because of the chip in your neck..."
"Scully...Katie...I need to explain completely."
She nodded, and he continued.
"The original chip in your neck was a timed device. Used to track you and other women experimentees, the cancer was a programmed conclusion to the experimentation process. No witnesses to the atrocities committed on helpless women. Penny Northern, Betsy Hagopian...they and the others in the MUFON group are dead because they were *supposed* to die, as were you. I was in the hospital...waiting."
He paused, reacting to the shock on her face. "But Mulder recovered the chip from the Pentagon filing system. I would have stopped him...perhaps *pleaded* with him not to give you that chip, but I knew he wouldn't listen unless I made threats. It wasn't the time or place to try and convince Mulder, but I should have. I should have tried..." Alex's voice trailed, then he continued. "Mulder's fear of losing you played right into Their hands, Katie. They took advantage of his weakness, and seized an opportunity to test the chip. He should have let you die, but he wasn't strong enough."
"He was urged to give you that chip," he interrupted. "And They tempted Mulder with information about Samantha to get him to do so. Mulder never realized the price wasn't as simple as that. There is no Truth...I warned him."
"Mulder should have let me die?" she yelled. "Jesus, what the hell are you..."
"Did he ever tell you the whole story about how he came to possess the chip?" he asked, running a hand over his eyes.
"No," she said, trying to calm herself.
"Mulder first found the chip, MN-1068-06, listed next to your name in the filing system. What he didn't know was the *type* of chip it was. It was a form of experimental communication device. The men collaborating with the Colonists were given three experimental chips to develop. Cassandra Spender was given the first one, you were accidently given the second, and Gibson Praise had the last one."
She exhaled sharply. "Communication device? But, Cassandra is dead, and Gibson is missing."
"The men who would collaborate to destroy us all implanted Cassandra with MN-1068-05. Gibson was given number 07."
"But if this chip, this number 06 as you're saying, was listed next to my name, why shouldn't Mulder have given it to me?"
"You were only one a few possible candidates. The decision was never made to give it to you...Mulder decided for Them."
Scully turned and stared up at the stars through the windshield again. "What does the chip do, Alex?" she asked, rubbing the scar on the back of her neck. "What kind of experimental communication device can it be if it possibly saved my life?"
Alex leaned back in his seat, his leather jacket creaking in response. "Katie...I can't be sure."
"What do you mean?" she asked, alarmed.
"They had been testing the chip's effects on Cassandra and Gibson because they were easily reachable. You had become a much higher risk because of the FBI and Mulder, so your tests were never completed. Cassandra was...killed before They could tell if hers worked. And Gibson..."
"What?" she demanded.
"You knew he could read minds."
"Yes, because Mulder and I ran tests to confirm..."
"Did you also know he could communicate with the alien hatchlings? The creatures you and Mulder encountered, but you chose to disbelieve?"
"The creatures Mulder claimed burst from that man's chest..."
"Are real, Scully, and Gibson has the ability to communicate with them," he finished for her, "and it's not because of a natural mental ability to read minds."
Scully's face went pale, and she stared at Alex. "What are you saying?"
"Gibson was implanted with the experimental chip 07, Katie. He was extremely valuable to the men who want to see the colonization of this planet take place. When They discovered the chip worked, They removed it, hoping it could be reused. When you saw him last they had been clawing Their way into his brain to find out why he could do what he does."
"They just removed it?" she asked, horrified. "Those bastards were willing to inflict cancer on a *child*?! *That* was why they were operating on him?"
"Yes," Alex answered. "But to see why the chip was removed, and he could still communicate with the hatchlings, yet wasn't affected by the cancer. It's possible your chip can be removed as well."
Scully leaned her head back against the seat and put her hands to her face. "You think I may have this ability? Why haven't I felt it before? How can you know if they remove the chip I won't simply die?"
"*That's* what I can't be sure about," he answered solemnly. "Gibson had a later version of the chip, so it's possible yours won't react the same way. But I'm here to try and help, Katie, before what happened to Cassandra happens to you."
"Happens to me?"
"Cassandra Spender was tracked down and killed before hers could be tested to see if it behaved like the 07 chip of Gibson's."
"Tracked down? By whom?"
"The alien faction opposed to colonization of the planet. The Rebels who tried to kill you and the others on the bridge, who refuse to allow the human race to be tainted by the alien genes."
"God..." she breathed. "This is all so much...they're opposed to colonization...they have the method to track the men and women implanted with chips..." she said, realization sinking in.
"And they have the method to discover who was implanted with the experimental communication chips," he added. "They weren't looking before. Now they want nothing more than to see you dead."
Her tears were rolling from her cheeks now, and Alex reached up to wipe them away.
"Is that why you came for me?" she asked him. "To protect me?"
It took Alex a moment, but then he finally answered. "No," he said. "Not at first."
"Can you trust me with your heart?" he whispered.
Scully watched his dark eyes swirl. "I can," she said, focussing on him. "Why did you come for me?"
He turned away, staring at the stars.
"To kill you, Katie."