You remember when you were beautiful.
You remember the way he looked at you, that night in your hotel. The night in Russia. You'd seen him that afternoon at the site, for the first time in years. If he recognized you, he didn't show it. Not at first anyway. Those eyes looked you over, black in the light, and he said he knew who you were but he didn't really.
He'd forgotten that day in the woods.
You'd come along with Father, you and Rosalinda both, because he'd wanted to spend some quality time with his girls. But all of his time on that trip was spent behind doors with the large, bearded man he called Comrade Krycek.
The Comrade, as you and your sister called him, spoke with a thick, heavy accent. As you stood in the parlor of his house on the river, Rosalinda had pulled back your braided hair with sticky fingers to whisper in your ear that he was a Russian. A Russian! The way she said the word made you shiver with the strangeness of it all. The year was nineteen-seventy-six and, although the British weren't quite as gung-ho over the Cold War as the Americans, even Father was a little afraid of the Russians.
You wondered why he was meeting with the Comrade. What the Comrade was doing in America at all. Didn't he know that communism was a dirty word even out here in the wilderness?
You shook the Comrade's hand, despite your confusion and terror. Yes, you held your head high and didn't let the churning of your insides show to the man because you were a beautiful princess, born and raised in America thank you very much. You felt father beaming behind you, proud of his first-born child's composure as his other daughter giggled in the background.
After being introduced to the Comrade, you and Rosalinda were sent to the yard to meet the other children. The Russian children. Your sister clutched your arm as you made your way through the rose garden and into the clearing where a boy and girl were playing catch with a Nerf ball.
Did Russians play catch?
The girl was young, younger than Rosalinda, and she was only ten at the time. You were chronologically twelve but knew that mentally, emotionally, you were far more mature than your pre-pubescent peers. This girl had to have been five or six at the most. She was cute. Curly blonde hair and chubby red cheeks. A cute little kid but not anyone you wanted to spend the afternoon with certainly.
"Marita, look at that boy!" Rosalinda had whispered urgently, tugging on your sleeve again in that irritating fashion she had.
You'd noticed him, yes. Although you hadn't acted yet on your body's new desires, boys were starting to register on your radar screen. Of course, Father would never allow you to date. Not until you were sixteen. That was the rule.
The boy looked older than you, although you couldn't tell how much older. He looked as though he might be as old as sixteen or seventeen but you knew Father wouldn't send you out to hang around with a boy that age.
He was tall and big, like the man you figured to be his father. Not gangly and awkward like the boys in your classes. He had a shock of messy black hair and he wore a pair of tight blue jeans with a hole in the knee and a white T-shirt with a purple stain on the front. You wondered how his father could let him be seen in such an unkempt state but at the same time, something inside you stirred as you watched him. The way he moved...graceful despite his size and attire. He reminded you of the stray cat you'd adopted a couple of years before. The one you found huddled in a drainage ditch.
"Isn't he cute?" Rosalinda asked you. She was interested in boys too, strangely enough, although you knew she wouldn't have known what to do with one if she got him. She was the one Father had pinned his hopes for grandchildren on, though. Already. He'd been correct. Rosalinda had turned into a pretty, perky, all-American girl with no interest in the family business whatsoever. She'd married at twenty-one and started popping out tiny tots almost immediately.
Was she born or bred to be that? Sometimes you wonder.
She'd always had the kind of beauty men are drawn to. An open quality, a softness that you lacked from the day you were born.
In any case, that day she'd shown an immediate interest in the Russian boy, but he walked right past her without a glance. He stood in front of you for a moment, simply staring without a word, and then he grabbed your hand and pulled you away, leaving the two younger children to fend for themselves.
You had to run to keep up with the pace his long legs set, through the forest that seemed to be part of the Comrade's property. The branches slapped at your legs, bare underneath your neat yellow dress, and thickets cut tiny gashes in the pale skin of your arms. But you couldn't stop. For some reason you still cannot fathom, you had to keep your hand in his and race after him until you reached the small stream that was at least two miles from the house.
You both stood panting under the trees, sweating even though it was October in upstate New York, and he started laughing. You couldn't decide if his eyes were black or green but you didn't really care. He was beautiful.
"Why did you do that?" you asked him. He simply shrugged. You were glad he didn't ask why you'd let him. He did ask your name though, in a soft, raspy voice. His accent was lighter than his father's. Almost unnoticeable. It must have been strong at one point though, when they'd first moved to America.
"Marita Covarrubius," you told him proudly. He laughed again.
"Well, la-di-da Miss Covarrubius," he teased. You wanted to punch him but you'd only just met. That kind of rudeness just wasn't tolerated in your household.
"Alex," he said, tossing a flat rock into the water, trying to make it skip, failing.
"How old are you, Alex?" you simply had to know.
"Thirteen," he sighed remorsefully. You couldn't tell if he wanted to be older or younger. Either way there was an aura of vague dissatisfaction surrounding his very being. At the time you found it alluring, intriguing, unique. In retrospect, his ennui was quite typical for a thirteen year old boy.
"What do you think they're talking about?" he asked, gesturing vaguely in the direction of the house.
"Business I suppose."
"I don't know, the business they're in together."
You were irritated at his stupidity as well as your own inability to answer the question.
"Does your father tell you anything about that?" he questioned you, and you turned up your nose, embarrassed to admit that he didn't tell you anything.
"He tells me what I need to know."
"You're a little snot," he informed you.
"So why'd you drag me out here, then?"
"Because you're a pretty little snot."
He grabbed the back of your head then, and he kissed you. He kissed you with an open mouth and a probing tongue and you'd never been kissed like that in your life and it was wonderful and terrifying and arousing and revolting all at once. He tasted like grape juice and you figured that's what the stain on his shirt was from.
After a few minutes of kissing you got used to the sensation, but when he pulled you down into the bed of fallen leaves you became frightened again. He rolled on top of you and you felt something you'd never felt. A boy's hardened penis, pressing between your legs. You thought you'd die from it.
It only took another couple minutes of him grinding himself against you and kissing you for you to reach that place you'd only recently learned how to bring yourself. You'd believed it would be years before you allowed a boy to make you feel that, make you moan and shudder like that.
When you were done you felt an overwhelming need to see the thing that had brought you such pleasure. You reached down and unzipped his jeans, slid your hand through the slit in his underwear and tugged on him, pulling the unfamiliar object out so that you could look at it. His penis was different than the few you'd seen pictures of and you realized later that he was uncircumcised. At the time you figured Russians just had different parts.
You weren't sure what you were supposed to do with it so you just grabbed at it. Apparently you were doing something right because after a few strokes Alex was moaning too and shooting sticky white fluid all over your yellow dress.
Afterwards, you tried to wash it by wading in the stream. You ruined the dress completely.
You stayed in the woods for an hour or so after that, showing him how to skip rocks. There was no awkwardness, no discussion of what had just passed between you, none of the complications such a thing would give birth to if it were to occur between adults. You were too young to appreciate how unique a situation you were in.
"We should go back. They'll be looking for us," you told him when you realized it was nearly lunch time.
"Race you," he called out, already running. He won, of course.
Father was furious about the water stained dress, and Rosalinda was indignant about being forced to play with a six year old all afternoon. But you didn't care.
When you said good-bye to the Comrade and his son and daughter, you stared into young Alex's eyes, intent on memorizing every detail. Wanting to remember. Forever.
And you have. You've always remembered that day, but you believe that Alex forgot.
The next time you saw him was at the Comrade's funeral. It happened to fall on your sixteenth birthday and you were righteously infuriated when Father dragged you along to the dreary affair. But in the limousine on the way you thought about that day and those eyes and you wondered what kind of young man he'd turned out to be.
You picked him out of the crowd of mourners immediately. His hair was a little on the long side, just brushing the top of his collar. He was wearing an ill-fitting black suit and a pair of beaten up Adidas. Aside from these superficial differences, he looked almost exactly the same as he does today.
He was standing next to his sister, now a chubby, teary-eyed ten-year-old, clutching her older brother's hand and burying her face in his shoulder. A blonde woman who looked far too young to be the Comrade's wife stood behind them dabbing the corner of her eye demurely with a tissue. You asked father who the woman was and he told you she was indeed the widow Krycek, although you later learned that she was not Alex's birth mother. No one has ever told you what happened to the Comrade's first wife.
Alex was the only member of the small family who failed to shed a tear. His expression remained almost eerily vacant throughout the entire ceremony. When it was over he placed a single flower on his father's coffin. His sister was sobbing by then but her mother seemed oblivious to that fact, so wrapped up was she in her conversation with a group of your father's cohorts. Alex wrapped his arm around his sister and dragged her sagging form into the parking lot hurriedly. Father was also knee-deep in post-funeral mingling and networking so he didn't take note of your absence.
You're still not sure why you went after him. Again.
You watched from behind a bush as Alex Krycek cradled his sister in his lap on the hood of a blue Rolls Royce, petting her hair silently, stoically even, as she cried her little eyes out. You wondered if shock was the reason for his lack of emotion or if it was simply the fact that the need to care for the little girl outweighed his grief.
You wondered what would become of him.
You wanted to talk to him, to ask him if he thought he'd miss his father. Perhaps if you had, he might have remembered you the next time you met. But when he saw you again in Khazahstan, almost twenty years later, he only knew what he'd been told about you. There was no sign of true recognition in those eyes you'd never been able to forget.
You danced with him in front of his men and yours. A dance of words. What he'd lost in limbs he more than made up for in arrogance. His manners hadn't improved any over the years. He spat on the ground you stood on and turned his back to your questions. But you knew that he would come to you later. And he did.
You woke up that night with the barrel of a semi-automatic weapon pressing into your neck and Alex Krycek standing over your hotel bed.
Father had advised you to use any means necessary to get the boy, the vaccine, whatever else he might have. Everything was riding on you and how you chose to handle this man, this situation.
"What do you want?" you whispered, closely guarding your tone, filtering out the fear. Yes, you were afraid, although you'd never admit it to him or anyone else. He was a wild card. Still is, despite Father's skilled mentoring. Unpredictable and just a little bit crazy, Alex is the kind of man who'd put a bullet in your brain if you looked at him cross-eyed. A skittish, somewhat clumsy, very accident-prone rabbit brandishing a deadly weapon.
"What have you got?" he responded. You noticed then that both of your bags were open, their contents strewn about the room haphazardly. He'd already attempted to find out for himself. But there was nothing to be found in your luggage beyond a change of clothing and a book of maps.
"Why are you trying to deal with me? You'll get more if you go directly to the source."
He looked your silk-covered body up and down in the moonlight with a hunger he didn't even bother to disguise. Father didn't know he was whoring his daughter when he sent you on this mission but he had to have recognized it as a possibility. Any means necessary. You used what you had. Found the gaping holes in his armor and exploited them.
"Are you telling me you don't know anything?" he whispered with disbelief, and a little fury.
"I know more than you can imagine. But telling you anything would be a violation of my contract. I'm sure you know what happens when a contract is broken."
"You're afraid they'll kill you. Aren't you afraid I'll kill you? I'd say that's a more immediate threat."
It was a difficult point to argue while being held at gunpoint.
"Perhaps you and I could turn this all around, Alex."
The use of his first name caused his brows to furrough.
"What are you suggesting?"
"Put that gun down and I'll tell you."
He stared at you for an eternity, weighing his options, wondering if he could let down his guard for just this moment in time. He shifted his arm so that the weapon was not against your flesh but rather dangling at his side.
You turned on the light and sat up against the headboard.
"With what you know and what I know, we could bring them down, Alex. We could be the ones calling the shots."
He sniffed a derisive little laugh.
"What makes you think I wanna share that honor?"
"You don't have much of a choice. You don't have enough alone. Neither do I. Together though..."
You made sure that the word "together" carried additional connotations. Power and sex. The promise of those two things has the power to bring any man to his knees.
And Alex Krycek is not just any man. He is a desperate man.
"So you're suggesting an exchange of...information?"
"I'm suggesting more than an exchange."
"And you're willing to go up against those men?"
"Someone needs to."
You feel a twinge of regret considering the internal battle that must have been waging inside of him. Should he trust you? Could he? Was there another person on the planet in whom he might find a true ally?
You're not sure if he ever really trusted you, though. Perhaps he was planning on stabbing you in the back and you just got to his first.
In any case, he mulled the prospect over and seemed to decide that it was the best offer he could hope for given the situation.
He put his gun in the holster inside his leather jacket and extended his hand to you. You took it and pulled and once again, your mouth was pressed against his.
He was so easy to seduce. Beyond responsive. Because he was hungry. And you were beautiful.
It was a business arrangement. Letting him rip your lingerie to shreds and fuck you like a beast was merely a way to seal the agreement you'd just made. At least that's what you told yourself.
It certainly wasn't about love, but you've come to accept the fact that he made you feel something that night. Something.
The next time you felt that indefinable something was the night you lost your mind.
You found him in the bowels of that hideous ship, docked a convenient fifteen miles from your Upper West Side apartment. You brought him back there, lured him away from his prize, his one possession and single bargaining chip, with the promise of more sex. Are all men so easily led astray?
You felt a heady sense of power-it was to be the first and, in fact, only time you'd been able to manipulate someone so completely.
As you felt him thrusting frantically yet rhythmically inside you, against the wall in your living room, you debated with yourself about what to do with the prize you'd gain from the encounter. The plan was to bring the boy back to father but you'd been considering abandoning that strategy for some time.
Could you do it? Make a move of your own, completely independent of Father, of Alex, of anyone? There was little to be gained beyond the sense that you were doing the right thing for once. Perhaps Mulder would be able to offer you protection. You trusted the man would do his best, but he was easily distracted and prone to leaving trails of corpses in the wake of his quest.
"We're so close. I can taste it," Alex panted into your shoulder just before he reached orgasm.
A third possibility entered your mind at that point. Carry on with Alex as planned, follow the blueprints you'd laid out with him for a mutiny of gigantic proportions, become the queen of the world with Alex as your king.
It was a fleeting temptation. Sometimes you wish you'd given in to it.
What would your life have been today if you'd chosen door number three? Father surely would have disowned you, but would that have been any worse than being a test subject in his enemy's house of horror?
What if you hadn't left Alex in your apartment, dozing peacefully after three hours of marathon copulation? If you hadn't gone back to that ship and taken the boy.
You wouldn't be standing here today, looking at the man you betrayed with fear and your own kind of desperation. A silent plea for him to bring you away from this hideous place. Something you cannot ask but hope he will offer. Maybe today he will make you his queen after all.
He looks back at you with pity. Or maybe it's amusement sparkling in those hard, green eyes. Confusion? Surely he knew your place in the game these days.
You find yourself unable to meet those eyes on this day. Because for once, Alex Krycek remembers who you are. He remembers when you were beautiful.
Author's note: If you happen to be reading World Without End, this story is sort of part of that universe. Consider it a little bit of background for the Krycek/Marita interactions.