Dana Scully sighed heavily as she unlocked her apartment door. The day had not been a good one. First thing in the morning, she'd gotten a call from her oncologist, telling her that in the two short weeks since her diagnosis, her tumor had grown. Although she still felt okay, that news started her day off just the wrong way, and it went downhill from there. A pedophile she had personally arrested had been acquitted despite her testimony, her car had broken down, and she had endured a 20-minute chewing out from the Assistant Director because Mulder couldn't find the paperwork for their latest case. On top of that, the heel had broken off one of her shoes. She slogged into the apartment, removing shoes and suit jacket as she went, and plopped heavily onto the sofa. She wanted nothing more than to relax in a long, hot bubble bath and turn in early, putting an end to this awful day.
Then she became aware of the enticing aromas emanating from the kitchen.
"Mom, is that you?" she called, rising and drifting toward the kitchen. "Whatever that is, it smells wonderf --"
She froze and the words died in her throat at the sight of the man standing by the stove.
"Thank you very much." He replaced the lid on a pot and turned around to face her. "Welcome home, Dana," Alex Krycek said.
Her mind had trouble registering what her eyes were seeing. "But... but... I thought you were dead!"
His lips curved into a smirk. "Like the man said, only the good die young. Where'd you hear that, anyway? Mulder?"
Freed from her temporary paralysis, Scully went for the gun still at her waist. "Hands in the air! NOW!"
He watched as she drew the gun and chuckled softly. "You're not going to shoot me," he informed her with supreme confidence.
She aimed at his head. "What makes you so sure?"
"You had your chance already. You blew it."
"What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded.
"Making dinner." He fixed his gaze on her. "Might as well put the gun down. You know you won't use it."
The cocky little grin on his face infuriated her, but she found that he was right; she couldn't shoot. Krycek still held the key to the mystery surrounding the MJ-12 files, as well as a couple of deaths, and, even aside from her natural aversion to killing except when absolutely necessary, she knew she couldn't just waste him without at least trying to get some answers.
Krycek leaned back against the counter. "Y'know, if you just relax a little, you'll see that I really am harmless... not to mention unarmed."
"Harmless? You?" she spat. "Maybe I should ask my sister how harmless you are! Or Mulder's father!" Discussion was closed for her on that point, but the jury was still out on whether or not he was really unarmed.
Her fury seemed to amuse him. "I can see we have a lot to talk about," he said, his voice friendly, conversational. "You seem to have a lot of misconceptions that need clearing up."
That was about the last thing she expected to hear from him. "Talk?"
"Yeah, talk. What'd you think I was here for, to kill you? I just want to talk to you, Scully."
She just stared at him for a moment longer. Finally she said, "I'm calling Mulder."
He studied her for a long moment; long enough for her to punch a couple digits of her partner's phone number. Then, "I'm not really into threesomes, but if that's what you want, go ahead. I can adapt."
The image sprang unbidden into her mind: herself, Krycek, and... Mulder?, naked limbs entwined... She shuddered and put the phone down.
"What? Mulder's not into threesomes, huh? I sort of thought he would be..."
"Pervert," she muttered.
He just laughed at her.
"Krycek, what the hell do you *want*?"
Mulder was gone from the mental image now, and Krycek was licking... "I'd rather eat bees," she spat, forcing the picture from her mind. She only needed four words to sum up that mental picture. Not. In. This. Lifetime.
He laughed softly. "No wonder they call you the Ice Queen. Seriously, I just want to talk."
"Just talk?" She could always call Mulder from the bedroom... assuming he let her out of the room.
"And eat." He glanced down at the timer next to the stove. "Dinner's almost ready. Why don't you go..." He leered at her and his voice dropped. "... slip into something more comfortable?"
Despite being handed her chance to call her partner, she didn't move.
He gave her a disapproving look. "Chill, will you, Scully? I'm not trying to poison you or anything. I spent so much time preparing this great dinner; the least you could do is share it with me."
"What do you want to talk about?"
"Oh, this and that..."
"Cut the crap. What do you want?"
"I want you to have dinner with me, okay? And... just maybe... explore the possibility of making a deal..."
"What kind of deal?"
"Dinner first. Then the deal."
She still didn't move.
Krycek shrugged and turned back to the stove, stirring the contents of a pot. "Okay, suit yourself," he said. "If that's what you want, I can just disappear. You'll never see me again... and you'll never get the answers you're looking for..."
An image came to her of her sister Melissa, lying in a hospital bed, bandages wrapped around her head. If Luis Cardinal could be believed (and she wasn't by any means sure that he could be), then Krycek was responsible for Melissa's death. Or at least involved somehow. But - this was a very big but - he was also the last known custodian of the DAT tape with the MJ-12 files on it. The tape that had the answers. If she had it, maybe she could finally ease Mulder's mind about his father and his sister... and maybe she could make some sense of Missy's death. He also knew about that damn rock. Krycek knew what was in it, he knew what the organism did to people... and he just might know how to kill it...
<Can it really be that easy?> she wondered. <Would he really be willing to give up important information for a simple dinner? Or is there more to it than that? Oh, come on, Dana, there has to be more to it. What does he want? And will that information be worth whatever price I have to pay?>
She heard herself speak before she knew she was going to. "I'll just be a minute."
"Take your time." He glanced at the gun still in her hand. "But the gun stays here."
Scully's eyes moved from her guest to her gun and back again, but she didn't move.
Krycek leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. "Look, if you're going to shoot me, just shoot me already. If not, drop the gun."
She still didn't move.
"You'd rather have me take it away from you? That can be arranged. Might even be fun..."
Looking at him, she knew he was right. He could probably disarm her with one hand. Could definitely kill her if he wanted. <Watch out here, Dana,> she told herself. <Something's going on here that you don't understand. Pick your battles carefully. You can afford to let him win this one.> She sighed and laid the gun on the table.
"Thank you," he said with a self-satisfied little smile and a glance at the timer. "You've got about 5 minutes. If you're going, go."
Scully traveled most of the way toward her bedroom backwards, keeping a watchful eye on her enigmatic guest. He busied himself with the food, not making any move whatsoever to follow her. With him busy elsewhere, she should have a chance to call Mulder from the bedroom phone...
The instant she closed the bedroom door, she put her hand on the phone... but then stopped. What would Mulder do if he came over? His usual response to Krycek's presence was to beat the hell out of him. Was that an efficient way to gain information? And what the hell was she going to say to Mulder if she called him? "Krycek's here, he broke into my place... and he's making me dinner." Right, making dinner was just cause to arrest him. Well, there was the breaking and entering, not to mention the outstanding warrants... That was enough to justify a phone call. Better to have backup when arresting somebody like Alex Krycek anyway.
She snatched up the phone... but there was no dialtone. Tapping on the disconnect buttons didn't bring one either, so she started to examine the phone. Handset was connected to base, which was connected to... nothing. There was no cord connecting the phone to the jack.
"*Damn* it!" She started tearing the room apart in search of the cord, but she knew she wouldn't find it. "He took it," she hissed. "That bastard *took* it!" Suddenly remembering her cell phone, she turned back to the bed, only to curse again when she pictured her bag, cell phone nestled comfortably inside, lying where she had dropped it. In the living room.
"Okay, calm down," she said, speaking aloud and pacing up and down in an effort to do just that. "Examine your options here, Dana. You have no weapon, no phone. You're being held hostage in your own home by a wanted felon. He wants to have dinner with you..." She shook her head. Dinner? What the hell was he getting at? "...and he wants to make a deal. A deal. What kind of deal? What the hell could he possibly want from me that would make him take the huge chance to come here?"
She flung herself on the bed with a sigh. "What can I do? Absolutely nothing, that's what. I can't call Mulder, I can't disable Krycek... Well, I could try, but he's probably prepared for anything I might do... What choice do I have? Unless I send smoke signals out this window or something, nobody has any idea that anything weird's going on. Nobody at all. Unless..."
Maybe her cell phone was an option after all. It was only in the living room, easily reachable if Krycek should leave her alone at any point during dinner. He couldn't watch her every moment, could he? All she needed was a minute, just one little minute, to punch the speed dial button for Mulder's number and tell him to come over. That would end this before it went too far. All she needed was an opportunity. Which meant that she needed to at least make a show of having dinner with Krycek.
She sat up and faced her reflection in the dresser mirror. "Face it, Dana," she said, "you have to do it." She sighed again and got up. "Might as well try to make it look good."
After thinking about it for a moment, she changed quickly into leggings and her FBI Academy sweatshirt. She had to admit to herself that the prospect of a deal was intriguing. From what Krycek had said, she was pretty sure he was offering the information from the tape and whatever else he knew about the smoking man's operations. If she and Mulder had that information, maybe they'd be able to nail both the smoking man and Krycek, finally giving both of them what they deserved. Maybe, just maybe...
When she went back out to the dining area, she found that Krycek had been busy while she'd been deciding what to do. The table was now elegantly set for two, there was a bottle of wine waiting in the middle of the table, soft music was playing, and the lights were dimmed. Candles were burning, their delicate fragrance wafting through the air as she tried to identify it.
Krycek noticed her presence and uncorked the wine bottle. "We still have a few minutes," he told her, handing her a glass of wine. "Here, taste this while you're waiting. Tell me if you like it."
She accepted the glass and sipped from it without thinking, her mind still fixed on the candle question. Where had she gotten those candles, anyway? Missy's candle party, more than two years ago. The memory came back in a rush: her sister pleading with her to "just come and look, Dana; you don't have to buy anything if you don't want to." She'd gone just to be polite and felt guilty about it, so she'd bought two boxes. The scents were... vanilla and cranberry. Yes, that was it. That was what was burning now. Her mysterious guest was burning her dead sister's candles.
"Dana? Everything okay?" Krycek's voice cut through her reverie, and she turned to find him standing behind her, faint concern on his face.
She buried the last of the memory. "Fine. Why?" Had he just called her by her first name?
"Nothing; you just looked like you were a million miles away." Krycek disappeared into the kitchen, and reappeared carrying her large serving tray, covered with foil. "I hope you don't mind about the candles," he said. "I found them at the bottom of the closet and figured they might help..." He drew a chair away from the table, inviting her to sit down. "...set the mood."
Keeping a wary eye on him the whole time, Scully sat. "Oh, you've set a mood, all right." She placed her wine glass on the table, very surprised to find that it was empty. She didn't even remember tasting the wine.
He went back to the kitchen and returned with a small platter of potatoes and a bowl of vegetables before sitting down. "Glad you agree" he said, peeling the foil off the tray.
"What is that?" Scully peered at the platter.
"Stuffed veal chops." He forked one onto her plate.
She stared at the meat, until its tempting aroma made her realize suddenly that she was starving. She poked at the chop with her fork, then mentally chastised herself for such a silly gesture. What did she expect, that it would poke back? He watched her with an amused smile. He had to know how suspicious she was of anything he gave her, right? Sure he knew, and he loved torturing her. She looked up and saw him take a bite of his own veal chop. He wouldn't do that if he'd done anything to the food, would he? Well, if she died by veal chop poisoning, at least she wouldn't have endure the rest of this dinner. Steeling herself, she took fork in hand again and flaked off a bit of the chop to taste. He watched with interest as her eyes widened in surprise. "This is very good," she admitted. "Where did you learn to cook like this?"
"Oh, here and there." Krycek watched her eagerly take another bite. "Here, don't forget the veggies."
Scully scooped a twice-baked potato off the plate and took a spoonful of the baby carrots dripping in butter sauce, as Krycek filled his wineglass and refilled hers. Okay, so the food was somewhat less healthy than what she usually ate, but what the hell? It was good, and it wasn't like she couldn't afford to put on a little weight. "I never would've figured you for the cooking type."
He gave her an enigmatic smile. "Yeah, well, I have lots of hidden talents."
She dropped her fork suddenly as she remembered just who she was eating with. "Breaking and entering is at the top of that list, isn't it?"
Krycek sipped his wine before calmly continuing with his own meal. "Bothers you that your apartment is so easy to get into?"
"No, it bothers me that *you* got into it." She absently sipped her wine, a particularly good red. Sneaking a peek at the bottle's label, she discovered that it was a California Merlot. One of the more expensive ones, if memory served. "Just what are you doing here anyway?"
"Patience, Dana, patience," he chided her. "All in due time."
There was her first name again. "Where do you get off calling me that?"
"What, Dana? That's your name, isn't it?"
"I wasn't aware we were on a first name basis."
"We should be, don't you think?"
"I'd rather not."
"I'd rather we were." His voice was soft, but the command was clear. "Things will seem a whole lot more... civil that way, don't you agree?"
Scully took a longer drink of wine to wash down the last of her first veal chop as she reached for another. It was more than she usually ate, but then again, she hadn't been eating much lately, and this was the first time in a while that food had appealed to her this much. She decided not to fight him on the name issue. What was the point? "You said you wanted to talk," she reminded him. "So talk."
He topped off her wineglass again before taking a second veal chop of his own. "You seem to have a lot on your mind," he observed. "Why don't you start?"
"I already did. What the hell are you doing here?"
Krycek looked at her like she had three heads. "Having dinner with you."
"Cut the crap. You know what I mean -- why did you come here?"
"I came here," he said, "to have dinner with you, talk to you... and maybe make a deal."
How could she forget that? She took another sip of wine. "Oh, yes, the famous deal. What kind of deal is it again?"
"I told you, not till after dinner."
He lifted the bottle to fill her glass yet again, but she placed her hand over it. "Trying to get me drunk?"
He put the bottle down. "Not at all," he said smoothly. "You're just enjoying it so much, I thought I'd... help."
"My glass is still almost full. If I want more I'll let you know, okay?" How terribly polite this all sounded.
He shrugged. "Fine."
Satisfied now, Scully sipped at her wine again, becoming aware that she was getting a pleasant buzz on. Nothing to be concerned about, really; she was still in control. "Am I allowed to ask about the silo?" she asked, drinking more deeply. The wine he'd chosen was just too good. She almost never got the expensive stuff, and she was damned if she wasn't going to enjoy it. On her own terms.
He smiled indulgently. "Sure, you can ask. I suppose you want to know how I got out?"
"Mm-hmm. You lied to us."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Did I?"
"The guy from the militia said so." She couldn't remember just what the man had said, but she knew it didn't agree with what Krycek had told them. "So how did you get out?"
"Friends in low places, Dana."
He lifted the bottle and raised a questioning eyebrow at her. She allowed him to fill her glass again as she thought back. Had he refilled his own at any point? He had to -- the bottle was more than half empty, and she couldn't possibly have consumed all that. Aware that she was watching him, he sipped at his own wine and smiled at her. "I wasn't aware you had any friends," she said.
His response was a soft, amused chuckle.
She sighed. "What friends?"
"Don't worry, you don't know them."
"I know one of them. Luis Cardinal."
"Oh, yes, Luis." Krycek sipped his wine and took another potato. "I understand he had an unfortunate accident while in your custody."
"He said you shot my sister."
He looked up at her and raised an eyebrow. "You know better than that," he said evenly.
She did -- and damn him for knowing that. "You shot Mulder's father."
"Dana, you surprise me. I think that's the first time I've ever heard you jump to a conclusion without even a shred of proof."
"How much proof do I need? You went back to finish Mulder off too --"
"And you shot him instead." Krycek gazed at her steadily over the rim of his glass. "Did I ever thank you for that? He would've killed me."
"He should've!" Scully snapped.
He shook his head reproachfully. "Dana, Dana. And here I thought your mother taught you manners --"
"You leave my mother out of this! Haven't you done enough to my family already?"
"What *have* I done to your family?"
"My sister --"
"I didn't kill her. You know that."
"You were there! You were going to --"
"I never fired a shot that night," he said. "I could have and *should* have, but I didn't do anything."
"You think you should've buried a bullet in my sister's head like your friend Cardinal?"
"No," he said quietly. "No, your sister was quite safe from me."
"So your bullets were meant for --"
"That," he interrupted, "is a topic for another time. You're obviously not in the correct frame of mind to discuss it."
"You were going to shoot me."
He put his glass down and fixed his gaze on her. "If I really wanted you dead," he said, "you'd be dead already. Do you believe that?"
She met his direct gaze, and an odd thought crept into her mind. <What beautiful eyes he has. Such a lovely shade of green. Why didn't I ever notice that before?> "Yes, I do," she heard herself say, surprising herself with the words.
"And you still think I was here to shoot you?"
She took a small sip of wine. "Why were you here that night?"
He picked up his glass again and swirled the remaining wine around in it a bit before sipping. "I had my reasons. You're not ready to hear them."
Scully raised her glass slightly and pondered the ruby liquid as she let his words drift through her mind. Reasons? What reasons could he have, if he wasn't going to kill her? "What do you want from me?" she asked in a small voice.
"We're getting to that. You up for some dessert?"
"I'd rather hear you get to the point."
"Okay, I suppose we can take a break before dessert." Krycek rose and extended his hand to her. "Dance with me, Dana."
Only the fact that she continued to see him standing there, hand extended toward her, convinced her that she had indeed heard what she thought she'd heard. "You are completely insane," she told him. "Did you know that? Totally nuts!"
He dropped his hand and rested it on the back of the chair. "Is that your standard reply to any guy who asks you to dance?"
Was it? She couldn't even remember the last time a man asked her to dance. "No, it's special, just for you. Why in the world would I want to dance with you?"
He shrugged. "Why not? Dinner and dancing go hand in hand, don't they?"
Scully settled more firmly into her chair. "Not during business deals, they don't. And, assuming we ever get to it, this is a business deal, isn't it?"
"That it is. But no business deal in history ever went down without some schmoozing first."
She shook her head. "No amount of schmoozing is ever going to get me to trust you, you know."
He chuckled. "I'm not asking you to trust me; I'm only asking you to dance with me. One harmless little dance. Is that really so hard?"
She studied his face, which revealed no clue whatsoever as to what might be running through his mind. "We'll talk about this deal of yours afterwards?"
"Absolutely." He extended his hand to her again. "So... dance with me?"
One little dance. What harm could it do? If it would make him lay out the damn deal any faster, she'd do it. She took his outstretched hand and tried to rise, but as she stood up, a wave of dizziness overcame her and she stumbled. <I didn't drink*that* much, did I? Careful, Dana, careful...> Krycek caught her and supported her until she regained her footing. "Easy there, Dana," he chided softly. "We don't want you breaking anything, do we?"
Scully froze when she felt his arms around her. When was the last time she'd allowed anyone contact that intimate? Following her diagnosis. It had been Mulder then, and his touch had been comforting and supportive. This touch... was something else entirely. Unknown. Dangerous.
<Exciting?> a tiny voice in her mind suggested.
She shook that thought from her head, causing another near- stumble as Krycek led her away from the table and toward the center of the living room. Then she was in his arms again and they were swaying together to the soft background music. "Now, is this really so horrible?" he asked her.
Scully felt herself starting to relax somewhat into his embrace. It was probably a good thing that his arms were around her, as she thought she might have trouble standing up on her own. Her head felt swimmy (<drank more wine than I thought, didn't I?>) and her limbs felt... sort of floaty. <Still in control, though. I know exactly what I'm doing... he's going to tell me about the deal right after this. Right?>
She gazed up into his eyes, and again found herself thinking about how lovely they were. Beautiful green pools, framed by astonishingly long lashes. < Not just the eyes, either. He's really a very handsome man. How did I manage to miss this?> "Not horrible at all," she murmured.
"So glad you agree. Kind of nice, isn't it?"
She closed her eyes and let herself drift. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been held like this by a man, and it really was kind of nice. Shortly after her diagnosis, people -- everyone, including her mother -- had pretty much stopped touching her. It seemed as though they were almost afraid to touch her, for whatever reason. She needed, no, craved that contact, to reassure herself that she was still alive, that she still mattered. <So what if it's Krycek?> that little voice said. <Feels really good, doesn't it?> "Mmm," she sighed. "Yeah, kind of nice."
He drew her closer, letting her rest her head on his shoulder. She breathed deeply, inhaling his scent -- a heady mix of light cologne and a scent uniquely his own. < A nice scent,> that little voice put in. <Intoxicating...>
Her eyes flew open and she pulled slightly away from him as she suddenly remembered who she was dancing with. <Stop it>, the rational side of her mind told her. <Remember who this is. Remember that evil can be very, very seductive...>
Scully pulled further away from him. "This is a bad idea --"
Krycek slipped his hands up her back from her waist, then down her arms until he was gently holding her hands. "Now might be a good time for a dessert break. Is that okay with you?" he asked, leading her back to the table.
"Um... yeah, dessert. Sounds good," she mumbled, her mind occupied by what had just happened. <He stopped. He actually stopped. What's going on here? What is he really doing?>
He disappeared into the kitchen, returning with two plates, one of which he placed before her. "You like strawberry cheesecake, don't you, Dana?" he asked, moving back into the kitchen.
Beating back the memory of his arms around her, she stared at the small slab of cheesecake on her plate. "I haven't had this in years. Do you have any idea how much fat there is in this one slice?"
"Aw, c'mon, live a little," he coaxed, settling across the table from her. "It's good, and it's not like you really need to watch what you eat these days, is it?"
She looked up sharply. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I know about the cancer." The look in his eyes was soft, sympathetic - - and a great surprise to Scully. "I was very sorry to hear about it."
"Yeah, I bet you were," she hissed. "You --"
"Let's not talk about that, okay? Here, try this." Krycek placed a newly-filled wine glass in front of her.
"Dessert wine. Goes great with the cake."
She glared at him. "You are trying to get me drunk, aren't you?"
"Now, why would I do that? At least *taste* it. One little sip; that's all I ask."
"Hmph." She met his eyes for a moment more, then picked up the glass. One sip. That can't hurt, can it? So she tasted it. "Pretty good," she said with some surprise. "Not too sweet."
He smiled. "Glad you like it. How's the cake, okay?"
Scully hadn't meant to eat any, but it did look tempting and she could probably use the food to counteract some of the wine in her system. She picked up her fork and dug a small bite out of the cheesecake wedge. "It is good," she admitted, immediately taking a bigger bite.
He smiled. "Told you. So... nice place you have here."
Chewing thoughtfully, she looked up at him, again wondering what he was thinking. "Thank you. Can we talk about the deal now?"
"I told you, later."
"You said after we danced."
"No, I said after dinner. That means after dessert, too."
Scully sighed and sipped her wine. "What kind of deal is it?"
"Yes, very nice place. How's the rent? Looks expensive."
"There aren't any vacancies in the building, in case you were wondering. What kind of deal is it?" Trying to control the urge to reach out and belt her dinner guest, she drained her wine glass without thinking.
Krycek refilled it for her. "It's a deal I think you'll find very... enjoyable." He took her hand firmly in his and gently massaged the back of it with his thumb. "You'll learn lots and lots of new things."
Her eyes locked on his, and she found herself unable to either look away or pull her hand away. "What kind of new things?"
"Things you've always wanted to know." His voice was low and inviting now; his gentle massage igniting a pleasant warmth on her skin. "Things that you never thought you'd ever know. There'll be a lot of new experiences, too."
Her heart skipped a beat as she gazed at him, almost hypnotized by those deep green eyes. "N... new experiences? What kind?" she murmured.
"Only the best kind, Dana. And the best part is, it's nothing you haven't done before, and nothing you don't want to do."
She found herself drinking deeply, without taking her eyes off his. "Something... I want to do?"
"Oh, yes, Dana, you want to. You may not know it now, but you want to. You might even need to."
Suddenly realizing what she was doing, she gave a small cry and snatched her hand away from his. "No... no. I'm not doing anything. Not yet... not until I hear the terms of the deal..."
"Of course not," Krycek said smoothly. "I wouldn't expect you to do anything unless you knew exactly what you were getting into." He glanced at her plate and her gaze followed his, both of them seeing her empty plate and drained glass. "Done with dessert, Dana? Maybe we should work off some of that food before we talk, mmm?"
<Work it off? How?> Scully closed her eyes for a long moment when the room started to spin slightly before her. When she opened them, she saw that intense emerald gaze fixed on her again. "No, let's talk now. Tell me about this deal."
"Come on, Dana, just one little dance," Krycek coaxed. "Just for a couple minutes. After all, we didn't finish last time, did we? We stopped."
"We stopped so you could tell me about the deal."
"And I will... after."
"You said after dinner and dessert. Is this dance part of dessert too?"
"It's part of the whole dinner experience, yes. So... dance with me?"
Again the memory of his arms around her came back, and she could almost feel his embrace, how good it felt... "No," she said firmly. "I want to hear the terms of the deal."
"You will -- after we dance."
She crossed her arms and looked up at him.
"No dance, no deal," he said, rising from his chair.
"If there's no deal, you can just leave. Right now."
He laughed softly. "You really want to just throw the deal away?"
"I don't know. How can I know unless I hear the terms?"
"Do you want to hear the terms?"
"Yes! Isn't that what I've been asking you?"
"Then dance with me." Krycek came up behind her chair and helped her stand, keeping an arm around her to steady her. "One harmless little dance," he purred in her ear. "The last one was harmless, wasn't it? Such a small price to pay to hear the terms of the deal..."
Scully allowed him to lead her back to the center of the living room, and then she was wrapped in his arms again. <I suppose it is a small price to pay,> she admitted to herself, allowing her head to rest on his shoulder. <And it does feel pretty nice...>
"See, that's not so bad, is it?" he murmured. "Nice. And harmless..."
At that word, she suddenly froze in his arms. <Harmless? Alex Krycek is*not* harmless...>
"Something wrong, Dana?"
She pulled away from him. "This isn't a good idea --"
Krycek drew her firmly back to him and at the same time spun her around so that his arms were encircling her from behind. "Oh, yes, it is," he whispered seductively in her ear. "This is a very, very good idea..."
They were swaying to the music again, her arms pinned and her movements restricted by his tight embrace. "You're such a beautiful woman, Dana," he murmured in that same seductive voice, softly kissing her hair. "So beautiful..."
She sighed softly. How long had it been since a man told her she was beautiful? Far too long. She'd almost forgotten how lovely that was to hear.
As if he could sense what she was thinking, Krycek drew her closer. "Hasn't he ever told you that?" he breathed into her hair.
She felt his right hand begin a slow journey down the side of her body; softly brushing the swell of her breast, tracing the curve of her waist, lightly skimming her hip. "So beautiful," he whispered softly, lightly brushing his lips over her neck. "No, he'd never tell you that, would he?"
His hand reversed its journey and moved around to very gently cup one breast. "How he could've missed how beautiful you are, I don't understand," he went on, kissing lightly around her ear between whispered words. "He doesn't notice. He's never noticed." The hand moved to her other breast, gently stroking it all over, lightly teasing the nipple when it rose to meet his finger, and a soft moan escaped her lips. "I noticed," he went on in that seductive whisper. "I noticed a long time ago..."
She felt his hand start to travel down her body again. <What the hell is he doing?> She moaned a soft protest and tried to free her arms to stop him, but they were still firmly pinned to her body by his left arm. His hand slipped over her hip again and halfway down her thigh, gently caressing as it moved smoothly from the outside of her leg to the inside. She immediately pressed her legs together in an effort to deter him, but she soon found the persistent gentle stroking between her thighs to be an infuriatingly pleasant sensation, and she found herself shifting position to allow him greater freedom. Even as she did so, the rational side of her mind screamed at her, <What are you *doing*?> But then his hand moved up again, with just the barest touch over her mound that sent a shock wave coursing through her body, and she ignored that voice of reason.
His roving hand moved to her breasts again, stroking each of them more insistently, teasing her nipples to hard peaks through her clothing. As his hand worked, she felt a sudden warm heaviness settle in her lower body. Each stroke of finger on nipple made the feeling just the tiniest bit more intense, and she heard herself sigh softly. His other arm pulled her tighter against him and his soft kisses moved from her neck to the side of her face. "You feel so good," he murmured into her ear between kisses. "I knew you would." As his hand left her breast and moved slowly, agonizingly downward again, she whimpered in protest... a protest of a different kind.
"Who knew?" he went on softly, sliding his hand down her body again to where her legs met her torso. "Who knew that under those prim suits was such a beautiful body?" His hand dipped down between her legs again, this time lightly stroking her mound. Her breath caught in her throat at that first touch, and the warm heaviness in that part of her body started to take on a form she couldn't deny as being arousal.
"Nobody noticed, did they?" he continued, gradually increasing the pressure of his strokes but not the speed. "I did. I noticed all sorts of things." A sudden jolt ran through her when his finger brushed over her most sensitive area, and her legs parted of their own accord, wordlessly inviting him to explore further. She gasped aloud when he did, his hand circling gently but insistently around the newly-revealed area. Her arousal was growing now, and it occurred to her that she didn't want him to stop.
She became aware that the sound she heard was her own breathing, faster now and accompanied by soft moans. Her knees buckled a bit and she cried out when his hand found the precise spot she longed for him to touch, igniting sudden flares of need throughout her body. She lapsed into quiet sighs as his hand continued its circling, the left one now joining in by moving up and toying with a nipple. She relaxed into his embrace, pushing her pelvis forward into his hand, begging him to stroke harder.
His lips brushed over her neck by her ear again. "Feels good, doesn't it?" he whispered, and she found herself moaning in assent. "You haven't felt like this in quite a while, have you? I know what you want. I know what you need..."
His hand's movements became more insistent, making her wish there wasn't any clothing between it and her body. It did feel good - much too good. When was the last time she'd felt like this? She couldn't even remember. Her arousal climbed another notch and she felt herself growing wetter, more ready for...
"I can make you feel good. I can give you everything you ever wanted," his voice purred in her ear, its sound now mingled with her own almost constant moans. "More than you ever dreamed... I can give you everything you need..."
<Don't stop,> she silently begged. <Give me what I need right now...>
A sudden jolt of reason hit her and her eyes snapped open when she realized what it was she wanted... and what he meant to do. Fighting against the ache between her legs, she wriggled in his grasp and managed to weaken it. "What the hell do you think you're *doing*?" she cried.
His arms immediately encircled her waist again, stilled, but he continued to rain kisses on her neck. "What you want me to do," he murmured. "Why don't you tell me what you want me to do?"
She took a few deep breaths to steady herself. "Deal?" she asked hesitantly.
His lips moved to the other side of her neck. "After..."
"A-a-after... what?" Inexplicably her arousal grew more intense now that he was no longer touching her... there.
"Whatever you want. Tell me what you want, Dana."
"I want... want..." <No, no, I won't, I can't... But I want...>
His arms pulled her closer against him again, and now she could feel his erection, velvet-sheathed steel against her backside. <I want that... I need that... You son of a bitch, I need that...>
She turned to face him, meeting those intense green eyes. He gazed evenly at her, and she realized he was breathing harder too. Her breathing intensified as she stared at him, her arousal climbing yet another notch. <No, not arousal,> she thought. <Not anymore. Need. I need...>
Completely unaware that she was going to do it, she drew his face to hers and claimed his mouth in a savage kiss.
His lips immediately parted to her and she slid her tongue forward, sweeping it over his lips, his teeth, his tongue, the roof of his mouth, allowing him the same access to her mouth. His tongue still tasted of the wine, a flavor she lapped up greedily. His arms encircled her again as they kissed, pulling her close, the feel of his body against hers setting off sparks all through her. She no longer cared who he was or what he'd done, but only cared that he was willing to give her what she hadn't had in far too long. To treat her in the way that no man had in a very long time. Reason left her as they kissed; she was operating now only on want and need.
She kissed him until she couldn't breathe anymore, and when she drew back and looked into his eyes, she saw in them a hunger that mirrored her own. He held her gaze for a long moment, then kissed her again, his mouth conveying that same hunger. At the same time he gently urged her backwards so that if she didn't step back, she would've fallen. So she took a step back and he moved with her, still urging her backwards. She soon realized what he was doing -- moving her in the direction of the bedroom. She went eagerly and he went with her, his shirt and her sweatshirt quickly left in their wake.
The next thing she knew, she was on her back on her bed, the full length of Krycek's body on top of her, his hand sliding underneath her to unhook her bra. He didn't remove it, though -- from there his hand glided down her body and slipped inside the waistband of her leggings. He continued to kiss her; hungry, demanding kisses that she returned with equal fervor. Her arms, locked around him, now started to move down. Touching him wasn't enough -- she needed more. She needed to do something. So she slipped her hand between their bodies, reaching for the waistband of his jeans.
She had just realized that he was no longer *wearing* jeans when he grasped her hand in his and brought it to his mouth, where he gently sucked on each finger in turn. She'd never thought of that gesture as erotic before, but it was incredibly so now. It showed her, even more than his kisses did, the promise in those lips, that tongue, what they could do to her... and oh, God, did she want... need... him to fulfill that promise...
His hand slid slowly, sensuously up her arm to her shoulder, where he lifted her bra strap and slipped it down her arm. He did the same to the other, and as he was sliding the bra off her, she became aware that she was now wearing nothing but panties... and he was wearing nothing at all. She wondered briefly when he'd had a chance to remove the rest of their clothing, and why she hadn't noticed, and that voice of reason in her mind suddenly spoke up: <What is he doing? No, no, please, no...> But then he kissed her again and all other thought was lost.
As he kissed her, she felt his hand softly cupping her breast, his thumb gently teasing her nipple. She moaned softly and kissed him harder, the ache between her legs climbing yet another notch with each movement of his finger. He turned his attention to her other breast long enough to bring the nipple to a hard peak again, then moved his mouth to that same breast.
She gasped as his tongue glided over her nipple; cried out as he took it into his mouth and softly sucked on it. Her need growing greater by the second, she shifted position beneath him, inviting him to take this to the next level, but he only continued the slow, gentle exploration with his tongue. She moved again, her sighs turning to soft cries when his teeth scraped gently across her nipple. That utterly unexpected sensation shot her arousal into overdrive, and she reached for him, needing to kiss him, touch him, do *something*... but his head was no longer at her breast. His attention was moving lower.
The hands that had been resting on her hips now slid her panties off, and one moved between her legs, where the fingers began gently exploring the skin of her inner thighs. She moaned and shifted position again, aching for more contact, but his touch remained feather-light, teasing her. She moved again, parting her legs more, inviting him to explore further. He did; slowly, agonizingly teasing every inch of the flesh of her inner thighs with surprisingly, infuriatingly gentle fingers. Every nerve ending in her body was on fire now, and she lazily wondered if it was possible to have an orgasm just from this. She thought she could, knew she could, if he'd only move that finger just... one... inch... further...
As if reading her thoughts, he did; that exploring finger starting a lazy journey around her outer lips. She gasped and jerked underneath him, her arousal shooting up yet another notch. Was it possible to be this aroused and not come? She desperately needed to now, but he wouldn't speed up or increase the pressure he used. He lightly dragged a finger over her opening, gently teasing each and every fold of excruciatingly sensitive flesh surrounding it, using her own secretions for lubrication as he flicked that same finger across her clitoris. She moaned aloud as she felt her orgasm building, knowing she'd come if he just did that again... but his finger returned to exploring less sensitive areas.
She slowly let out the breath she was holding as her arousal ebbed a bit, now that release was no longer imminent... until she felt his finger slip inside her. She gasped and cried out as the muscles inside involuntarily contracted around the unexpected invader, and again she was sure she'd come... but then the finger slipped out. Again it moved away from where she wanted it as she whimpered and squirmed in frustration.
Without warning, something slid into her again; something thicker than before, but still slender... two fingers this time. She moaned aloud and arched her body up to meet his hand as his fingers slipped deeper inside her, further than the other one had gone, until she could feel his hand resting against her entrance. Clutching the sheets in both hands, she groaned louder and squirmed again, begging him to move, to finish what he'd started.
After a moment, the fingers inside her did move, slowly sliding most of the way out, then back in, his thumb lightly stroking her clitoris in time with the movements. As his fingers moved faster, she started to move with him, pressure building inexorably inside her toward the point of no return... until his fingers found it: that one tiny, exquisitely responsive circle of flesh deep inside, the one she'd heard about but never thought she had. One touch there and her muscles contracted violently around his fingers; she cried out as she crashed over the edge and waves of the most intense pleasure she'd ever experienced coursed through her body from deep inside.
Once she became aware again of feelings other than her orgasm, she realized that his fingers were no longer inside her, and he was starting to repeat his hand's exploration with his tongue. Never in her life had she experienced foreplay like this; never known a man to pay such lavish attention to her body. He was lightly licking her inner thighs, providing just enough sensation to keep her at mid-level arousal, satisfied yet still wanting, needing more.
He didn't make her wait as long this time. He quickly turned his attention to her labia, lightly licking every inch of the engorged flesh before covering the entire space with one long tongue stroke that shot her arousal instantly back into overdrive. She moaned and writhed underneath him, twisting the sheets in her hands, powerless to do anything else. Then his tongue swirled over her still-sensitive clitoris as he began to suck gently on it, and she came again.
The second orgasm wasn't as strong as the first, but she was still panting and still felt the spasms rippling through her as he moved up and kissed her. She immediately snaked her arms around him and pulled his body close against hers, conveying the need she still felt through ravenous kisses, only vaguely aware that the unfamiliar taste on his tongue was that of her own body.
He rained kisses on her face and throat, nibbling her ear lightly as his hand moved down between her legs again. She immediately opened herself to his exploration, still fully aroused, still wet, still ready, still needing more. And then he gave it to her.
She gasped harshly, partly in pleasure, partly in pain, as the head of his organ slowly entered her. He was big, thicker than anyone else she'd been with; big enough to hurt a little. The muscles deep inside her closed in protest against the invader; she whimpered and again the voice of reason took over: <No... don't... no, please, no...> But he continued to push relentlessly into her; his hand now stroking between her legs, gently coaxing her open again.
It worked; she could feel herself stretching to accommodate him. She gasped and moaned as she felt him slide all the way into her, deeply, oh so deeply, and start moving. She felt filled, completely filled, and despite the initial pain it felt good, so, so good, much too good, and she found herself moving with him. His rhythm picked up now, and between his hand's stroking and the friction inside, she felt yet another climax building.
In her state of sensory overload, it didn't take long. With a cry she came again, harder than before, the spasms tearing through her body with a power she'd never known. Just a moment later she heard him gasp and felt him come too, felt him spurting deep inside her, coating her insides, warming her.
She lay there panting and unmoving for a while, fully sated, exhausted. He didn't move for a while either, until she felt him withdraw his softening organ and his full weight collapsed on top of her.
Then she opened her eyes and found herself staring into the intense green eyes of Alex Krycek.
<Oh my God, no, I didn't...> With a gasp of horror, Scully pushed him off her, and in an instant she was wrapped in her robe and huddled in the chair in the corner of the room. Horror, shame, and an anger of an intensity she'd rarely felt before all coursed through her as she stared back toward the bed, and she found herself grasping a shoe that lay by the chair and flinging it at his head. "You BASTARD!" she shrieked. "You son of a bitch! How could you do that to me?" Another shoe flew toward the bed.
Krycek ducked slightly and the shoe hit the wall behind him, hard enough for the heel to leave a mark. "Does that mean it wasn't good for you?" he asked, the picture of innocence.
"Son of a bitch!" she yelled again, sending another shoe flying. "You raped me!"
He watched the shoe drop harmlessly onto the bed next to him, then looked up at her and arched an eyebrow. "I never heard the word 'no,'" he informed her.
"Just because you didn't hear it doesn't mean I didn't *say* it," Scully seethed, flinging the last shoe's mate. <I *did* say it... didn't I?>
"I most certainly *did*!" <I did, I did, I know I did... oh, God, didn't I?>
Krycek laughed softly. "Sure didn't seem to me like you wanted to say no," he said. "In fact, if I recall, you were the one who kissed me."
"NO!" <No, I know I didn't do that, why would I do that...?>
"Of course, it doesn't really matter what you wanted to say, does it?" he went on. "It was pretty much inevitable. After all, it's just as easy to make someone come as it is to make them scream..."
She felt a very unwelcome twinge between her legs at his words, but managed to squelch the flash of memory that brought it on. "Bastard!" she fumed.
"And let's see now, what was it again? Three orgasms? I think you might've stopped after one if you really didn't want to go any further - -"
"PIG!" Out of shoes now, Scully grabbed the first thing she could reach off the dresser and threw it at him. It was her hairbrush, and her aim was slightly better this time -- he had to duck again, but it still didn't hit him. "Disgusting pig!"
Krycek laughed again. "I just call 'em as I see 'em."
Scully settled deeper into the chair, only then realizing that she felt sticky. <Should've gone to the bathroom first...> ran through her mind as she threw something else from the dresser. "You didn't even use a condom!"
He propped another pillow up behind himself and looked her right in the eye. "Certified disease-free. You can do the blood tests yourself."
"Don't think I won't!"
"Oh, I know you will. Why do you think I invited you to?"
Scully closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down. It took a few moments, but she finally felt rational thought start to return. <Think, Dana,> she told herself. <What do you do? Call the cops. Right, then try to explain all that wine. Call Mulder? Same problem. Still...>
She would've picked up the phone to call her partner, except that the phone was on the nighttable next to the bed. The bed her attacker was still in. Seeing him there helped her decide. She was overcome with a sudden need to get Krycek the hell out of her apartment; to erase any evidence that this ever happened. "Get out," she growled at him.
He arched an eyebrow at her. "Out?"
"Get OUT!" she yelled, picking up another object from the dresser, ready to throw. "You've had your fun; you got me drunk and got your rocks off. Now get out before I call Mulder!"
He laughed softly. "But Dana, don't you want to hear about the deal?"
Scully's arm froze in mid-throw. "Deal?" she asked.
"Yeah, deal." Krycek leaned back against the pillow. "You do remember the deal, don't you?"
The evening's dinner flashed into her memory. He'd held the prospect of some sort of deal over her head the whole night, to the point where she was starting to doubt there ever was any deal. Was there really? She carefully placed her chosen projectile back on the dresser and took a deep breath. "What deal?"
He looked her over speculatively. "Are you sure you're ready for this? I don't think you are."
She slammed her fist on the chair arm. "Dammit, Krycek, cut the crap and tell me! What deal?"
"Okay, okay, keep your shirt on." He swept his gaze over her body with a wicked grin. "Or off, if you prefer..."
Scully picked up her weapon again. "I'm warning you, Krycek --"
"First names, remember, Dana?"
Fuming, she just glared at him.
He laughed. "Okay, if you insist. Now, where to begin...?"
"That's it; I've had it. I'm calling Mulder." She skirted the edge of the room, staying as far away from the bed as possible, and snatched up the phone's handset. She soon realized what the smirk on Krycek's face was for, as she listened to the deafening silence on the phone. It was still disconnected. <Damn you!> she thought, slamming down the phone and retreating to her chair.
He waited until she was settled again before fixing those deep green eyes on hers. "Ready to hear it now?" he asked.
"I've *been* ready! Would you just *tell* me?"
"Okay, the deal." Krycek shifted position a bit and leaned back against the pillow again. "First, I know things. Things you and Mulder have been trying to figure out for years."
"Do you?" Scully sneered.
"You'll have to trust me on that, Dana," he said with a small smile.
She gave a resigned sigh. "Okay, what do you know?"
The smile grew wider. "Everything. Everything you and Mulder ever dreamed of knowing, and more. And..." He paused for dramatic effect. "It's all yours for the asking."
She just stared at him for a full minute, deciding whether or not she dared ask the question she knew he wanted her to ask. <What do I have to do for that information?> she asked herself. <And why wouldn't he tell me about the deal before? What does he have in that twisted mind of his?> Finally, almost dreading the answer, she asked, "So what do you want from me?"
Krycek grinned at her now, and she suddenly understood what mice must feel like when they see the predatory cat coiling to pounce. "I want you to have sex with me," he said.
Again she felt a twinge between her legs, more insistent this time, but she managed to bury the feeling. "Now I know you're insane!" she cried. "Why the hell would I make a deal like that? It's not enough that you rape me --"
"I didn't rape you."
"You think I *wanted* that?" She stared at him in shocked amazement.
"I think you needed it. Very badly."
With a cry of fury, she sent her makeup organizer flying toward his head. He watched it hit the wall, sending cosmetics showering all over the bed, then picked up the lipstick that landed on the pillow next to him. "Sorry, not my color," he deadpanned.
"Pig!" she snarled.
"So you're saying you didn't need it?" Krycek mused. "Then you must've wanted it very badly."
Scully breathed deeply, trying both to get her fury under control and to keep her body from reacting to the flashes of very recent memory that kept assaulting her brain. "I never consented," she said through clenched teeth.
He shrugged. "Rationalize it any way you want if it makes you feel better. But I think any doctor would have a damn hard time finding physical evidence of anything other than consensual sex. And from where I sit, initiating the first kiss, not saying anything that even remotely resembled 'no,' responding so readily, and all those orgasms -- and they were really good ones, weren't they? -- add up to you being a very willing participant."
<When he lays it out like that... NO! STOP thinking like that!> "Too much wine," she offered. "Diminished capacity. I did *not* want that."
Krycek mulled this over for a moment. "Possible," he admitted. "But don't they say that alcohol depresses sexual response...?"
The warmth in her lower body suggested that there was nothing at all depressed about her sexual response. But... what was that he said about how easy it was to make someone come? Didn't mean a thing. Not a single thing. She sighed heavily. "Nothing I say is going to make a bit of difference to you, is it?"
He favored her with that killer grin and gave a small "oh-well" shrug. "Not one iota."
A sense of doom settled over her at this. Nothing she said mattered. Nothing she did mattered. Even if she called the cops or her partner, Krycek wouldn't be prosecuted for what he'd done. He'd find some way to twist around what happened to ensure that. Besides, like he said, there probably wouldn't be any physical evidence. Sure, she was a little sore, but she suspected that he hadn't left any bruises. Nothing to pin this -- or any other crime, really, not even breaking and entering -- on him. She was trapped.
<It isn't the lack of physical evidence that's keeping you from calling somebody or blowing his head off, is it?> that little rebellious part of her mind asked.
Immediately squashing that thought, Scully looked up at the man in her bed... and noticed something odd. She thought back. Had he used his left hand since he'd been in her apartment? Not much during dinner, but that didn't mean anything; maybe only that he was right- handed. Later? She remembered both his hands on her body while they were dancing, but one much more than the other. Which one, the right? She wasn't sure. And she was pretty sure he'd done all those (<wonderful, right? just incredible>) things to her with only the one hand...
Willing the unwelcome arousal away, she watched her similarly unwelcome guest for another moment through narrowed eyes. Yes, there was definitely something strange about that left arm... "What's wrong with your arm?" she heard herself ask, even as she asked herself why she cared.
His grin vanished at her words and darkness clouded his green eyes. "Nothing!" he snapped.
Oh, yes, she'd touched a nerve. Curious now, she leaned forward a little, trying to figure out just what about his left arm seemed... off. "Nothing?" she asked. "Bothers you an awful lot for nothing."
He stared back at her for a few moments, his eyes dark and unreadable, before apparently reaching a decision. "Okay, fine," he snarled. "You want to see it? Fine." He pressed at a spot near his shoulder, and the next thing Scully knew, his left arm, detached from the shoulder, was lying on the bed next to him. "*That's* what's wrong with it, okay?"
She gasped as a tale Mulder had told her came rushing back to her; a tale of tests and a gulag in the former Soviet Union. Her partner's words were burned into her memory: no arm, no test. "Russia?" she breathed.
Krycek stared defensively at her for another long moment. "Yeah, Russia," he said, bitterness clearly evident in his voice. "A little souvenir from your partner."
"It wasn't Mulder's fault."
"Whatever. Doesn't matter anyway," he mumbled, with a look that told her it still mattered very much.
Curiosity and her Hippocratic oath temporarily overriding her anger, Scully found herself approaching the bed. "Can I look at it?" she asked, tentatively reaching toward his shoulder.
His eyes met hers again, then he turned his head away, giving her license to look at whatever she wanted.
Giving a low whistle, she bent to examine the arm and the exposed stump. The arm lying on the bed was a prosthetic like she'd never seen before. Except for the fact that it wasn't attached to a body, it looked completely, totally lifelike, right down to the hair on the very natural-looking skin. The limb even felt warm; not quite body- temperature, but she suspected it would be when properly attached. She now remembered that hand stroking her breast, circling her nipple, teasing it...
Scully shook the memory out of her head and concentrated on the prosthetic again. Obviously it gave him the ability to move the fingers independently of each other; if it hadn't, she would've noticed much sooner that the hand wasn't real. Still... she'd felt it on her body. How could she *not* tell that it wasn't real? No prosthetic made anywhere on earth -- at least to her knowledge -- offered its owner that type of freedom. Who had built this thing? And how?
She carefully picked the arm up, finding that it weighed just about the same as a natural limb would. Krycek obviously felt the weight difference now that it was detached -- he was leaning heavily on his right arm to support himself and stay upright. Scully turned her attention back to the arm. It even felt natural, right down to the texture of the skin. The only things unnatural about it were the short metal rods sticking out from the center of it, which had to be what connected it to the shoulder.
Putting the arm down, she bent to examine his shoulder. The amputation had been a messy one, but it was obvious that he had had further surgery other than what was needed to attach the prosthetic. And surgery had definitely been necessary to attach the thing. There was now a round metal plate embedded in what remained of his shoulder, with wells to accommodate the rods in the arm. She started to run her finger gently around the edge of the plate, but stopped when Krycek gasped harshly and flinched away from her touch. He'd let her look, but didn't want her to touch. "Where in the world did this thing come from?" she asked, backing off a bit.
He cast a sidelong glance at her, but wouldn't face her. "Russian technology in some areas isn't quite as backward as the rest of the world thinks," he said at length.
An appropriate non-answer. "So how does it work?"
Now he turned toward her and studied her face, assessing her interest. For a moment she thought he wasn't going to tell her anything at all, but then he hefted the prosthetic in his right hand and slowly started to speak. "There's sensors in the plate that tap into electrical impulses in the muscles and nerve endings that're left. These rods here plug in like this..." He fitted the arm to his shoulder and pushed a little, and Scully saw him wince and bite his lip as she heard the rods click into place. "...and the computer chips in 'em pick up the information from the sensors and use it to work the artificial nerves and muscles down here." He lifted a flap of synthetic skin from where it lay folded against the prosthetic, and smoothed it around the connection site. "Watertight seal, and there you go." He flexed the artificial hand. "Nobody'd ever know."
"Amazing." Without thinking, Scully ran her finger gently down his forearm, and immediately noticed two things. First, the limb was warm now, brought up to body temperature now that it was attached. Second...
Almost as soon as she touched him, Krycek jerked his arm away from her. The implication wasn't lost on Scully. "You *felt* that?" she asked in disbelief.
Again he studied her before answering. "I can feel almost everything with this thing," he finally offered. "Dexterity with the hand's pretty good too. Not perfect, but damn close."
Scully's mind whirled. How could something like this exist? The technology just wasn't possible... "How --" she began.
"I told you," he interrupted. "Advanced technology." The look in his eyes almost dared her to ask another question, but she decided that it was probably wiser not to.
She decided to go a different route instead. "Does it hurt much?" There was obviously some pain; his reaction both when she touched the stump and when he reattached the prosthetic made that pretty clear.
Now his eyes turned hard. "Not much," he said, bitterness clearly evident in his voice. "It's only excruciating."
The look in his eyes and the tone of his voice brought reason back to her mind. He was bitter? After what he'd done? "Good! You deserve it!" she spat, then retreated to her chair.
He sighed heavily. "Can we get back to the deal now, please?"
"Why? The answer's no."
"You didn't even hear the terms yet."
"I've heard enough. No."
Krycek took a deep breath. "Dana, how many men have shared this bed with you over the last five years?"
She felt her earlier fury start to build again. "That's none of your business!"
"Just as I thought. Three... or less."
<Pig,> she thought.
"On the other hand... you were much too responsive. Two... or less. Probably less."
Scully could only stare at him, quietly seething.
"Are you *sure* you want to throw my offer away? I mean, nobody else seems to be offering --"
"Give me one good reason not to blow your head off right now," she interrupted, desperate to get off that subject.
Now he grinned at her. "I'll give you two. One, your gun's out in the other room, and I bet I could beat you out there. I think you know it too. Two, if I die, Mulder's answers die with me. Is avenging your honor worth losing that?"
She looked down at her hands, now folded in her lap. Was it really fair to Mulder to just reject this deal without even hearing the specifics? It wouldn't be... if Krycek's information panned out.
"He'd never forgive you," Krycek went on.
Damn him for holding that over her head! He was right, though. If Mulder knew she threw away the opportunity to find answers without even listening to the whole thing, he'd be very upset. And they knew that Krycek had answers. But... would he let her do what Krycek wanted her to do? No. Absolutely not. No matter how good it felt...
<No! Stop! Doesn't matter how good it felt; it was rape, it was wrong, I don't want to do it again, I really really really don't...> Despite the thoughts, she had to squeeze her legs together against the twinge she felt deep inside. "Talk," she whispered.
Though she was still looking down at her hands, she could hear the smile in his voice. "Okay, here's the deal. Every time we have sex, you get some piece of information. It might be from that digital tape Mulder's still looking for, or from my own experience, or whatever. Wherever it's from, whatever it is, it'll be a small part of the larger puzzle --"
"And just how many pieces are there to this puzzle?" Scully asked, almost against her better judgment.
"As many as I... or you... want there to be. Could be thousands. Now, you could feed the information to Mulder as you get each piece, or you can wait and collect a couple before giving them to him. Doesn't matter. If I know Mulder, he'll act on what he hears whether it makes sense or not, so use your best judgment. I should probably tell you up front that exceptional performance on your end will yield more and/or better information for Ol' Spooky. He --"
"Wait a second," Scully interrupted. "Not only are you making me sleep with you, you're grading my performance too?" <How sick is this going to get?>
Krycek flashed that killer grin at her. "I'm not making you do anything, Dana," he said smoothly. "It's your choice. Completely up to you. You might want to know that tonight's performance would've gotten you bonus points. Quite a few, actually."
<For what? I didn't do anything. I wonder if putting up more of a fight would've earned bonus points too?> "So I'm supposed to just sit here and wait until you decide you need sex, and then I get information?" she asked. "Why not just rape me again? You didn't need consent before; why do you need it now?"
He gave an exaggerated sigh. "Dana, Dana, Dana. You didn't say no. I didn't rape you. And frankly, I'd rather not --"
"You didn't have a problem with it tonight!"
"I didn't rape you," he continued as if he hadn't heard her, "and I won't in the future. If you'd just listen to the rest of the terms, you'll see that."
"You mean there's more?" <*Now* what?>
"Not more, more like... a clarification," he said. "You have it all backwards. This isn't based on when I want sex. I told you, it's all your choice; completely up to you."
"So what does that mean?" Despite her resistance to the whole idea, a small part of her couldn't wait to see what else he came up with.
"That means that I won't say another word about it. You see, I need to know that you really *want* the information. You will tell me when *you* want sex. You have to initiate. Each time you do, you'll get information. I won't touch you unless you tell me to. You can make this deal take as much or as little time as you want. You control how much information you get, when, and how often. You can even control how each encounter goes if you want -- creativity is always a plus. If you don't want, I'm more than happy to do it... and I think you might like having the benefit of my experience..."
Scully could only stare at him in amazement as he spoke; thoughts swirling through her mind at about 500 mph. "You sick, sadistic bastard!" she cried. "How can you even *think*... I could *never*... you expect me to... I can't, I won't! No! Just... just... no!"
Krycek waited until her confused ramblings stopped. "Are you sure, Dana?" he asked. "Sure you don't want to know everything? Sure you want to withhold your partner's sister from him?" His voice became low and seductive now, like it had been while they were dancing, and his intense gaze locked on hers. "Sure you don't want to have sex like that anymore? Sure you don't need it? C'mon, admit it. Better than eating bees, wasn't it? How good did that feel, anyway? Must've felt awfully good for you to come three times like that--"
"Stop!" Scully closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm herself and slow her breathing, while trying to beat back the memories and her body's reaction to his words. <Damn him for knowing what buttons to push!> she thought. <Samantha, Samantha... he knows where Samantha is. Doesn't he? Does he? Will anything he says even be true? He's given us nothing but lies till now, why should this be different? What if it is different? How will we know? Can I ever... Oh, God, can I really do that? I can't, I know I can't...>
"I don't know if I --" she began softly.
"You can do it," Krycek told her. "It's not really that hard, is it? You did fine before..."
She could only sit there trembling.
"After all, everybody has somebody who drives them so wild they'd do just about anything," he continued.
Breathing faster, she lifted her eyes to his. "The fact that *you* could do that to me makes my skin crawl."
He laughed softly. "What did I tell you about how easy it is to make someone come?"
"You really are insane."
"Thank you. Now will you please answer the question?"
"Deal. Yes or no?"
She bit her lip and lowered her eyes. "I... I need more information."
He sat up straighter, interested now. "What do you need to know?"
"If I say..." She found it incredibly hard to get the words out. She found it even harder to believe that she was actually considering this. "If I say yes, will you at least use condoms?"
She looked up, incredulous. In this day and age, how could anybody refuse to? "Not even for your own protection?"
He fixed an amused gaze on her. "Dana. Do I really have to?"
She lowered her eyes, feeling her cheeks redden.
"Didn't think so," he said with a chuckle. "My deal, my rules. Don't like 'em, never did, so no, I'm not going to use them. Next?"
"We can't even talk about --"
<My choice, huh? Completely up to me, huh? None of this is my choice. My only choice is...> "What happens if I say no?" she heard herself ask.
His only response was a shrug.
"Will you kill me?"
Scully inwardly heaved a sigh of relief. If he wasn't going to kill her or her partner, how bad could it be? But... could she take the chance that he really had no plans to kill them?
Krycek's voice, his tone speculative, cut through her thoughts. "Did you ever wonder where the expression 'fate worse than death' came from?"
She gaped at him in horror. "You wouldn't!"
He shrugged. "Never said I would, did I? But... I also never said I wouldn't..."
"Dammit, stop being so cryptic!" she shouted. "Just answer the question! What happens if I say no?"
Krycek met her gaze for a long moment, and this time she didn't back down. "Don't think about what might or might not happen if you say no," he finally said. "Let the deal stand on its own merits. Which would you rather have? All the answers you could ever possibly want and lots more of those 3-orgasm sexual encounters? Or... more endless years of the same lonely life and unanswered questions you've had for the last five years?"
Scully continued to glare at him; her mind desperately wanting to say no, her body suggesting a different answer. If she said no, there would be consequences. She was sure of that. Alex Krycek was not the type of person who could set up an elaborate deal like this and then just blow out of town if it was refused. No, he had something up his sleeve. What was it? Whatever it was, she was sure it would be bad for her, Mulder, or both. <My choice?> she asked herself. <I have no choice here. He didn't leave me one.> "You really won't touch me unless I say you can?"
"What assurance do I have of that?"
He favored her with a warm smile. "Just my word. You're going to have to trust me, aren't you?"
Again she just glared at him.
Krycek sighed heavily. "Look at it this way, Dana. I have alternatives; you don't. I can go just about anywhere for sex. You can't go anywhere else for this information. Who has to trust who here?"
"If you can go just about anywhere for sex, why here? Why me?"
He shrugged and grinned at her. "I like you. So... do we have a deal?"
<You hate me. You hate Mulder, and you're getting back at him through me. By blackmailing, humiliating, and degrading me. You hate me.> "How do I know that this information of yours is any good?"
"Guess you're going to have to trust me on that too. Do we have a deal?"
Scully desperately wanted to say no, but again her brain was assaulted by memories of what had happened. Memories of how it felt to have someone pay attention to her, to do things to her that she hadn't experienced in so long... Her body reacted strongly to the memories and she felt a sudden rush of warmth in her lower body. <No, no, stop, I *don't* need it, I *don't* want it -->
"Remember what happened before, Dana." The low, seductive voice caressed her ears even from across the room, and she remembered. "Remember how good it felt. If I only wanted to satisfy myself, it would've gone a lot differently, but that wasn't how it happened. I focused on your pleasure. It can be that way from now on, Dana. Every time. You want that, don't you? You want what I'm offering... you need it..."
A soft moan escaped her lips as the memories swept through her brain and the ache between her legs intensified. "Yes..." she whispered.
"You want it? We have a deal?"
"Yes..." she sighed, caught up in her memories and the feelings in her own body. "Oh, yes..."
"Good. We have a deal. Don't suppose you'd like to shake on it?"
Krycek's words and the change in his tone made her eyes snap open and all other thought fled from her mind. <Oh, God, I said yes, didn't I? I didn't want to, didn't mean to... This is not happening, this is not happening...>
"You're not reconsidering, are you?"
She looked up at him, and the sudden, vivid memory of his thickness sliding deeply into her sent a jolt through her body. She opened her mouth to speak a few times, but couldn't find anything to say. <Doesn't matter anyway, does it?> she asked herself. <He tricked me into saying yes; he'll take that as my final answer no matter what I say now. Maybe I just shouldn't fight it. Mulder does need what he knows...> "No, I'm not reconsidering," she said quietly, not believing that was her own voice saying the words. "We have a deal."
"Good. Turn out the light when you're done, will you?" Krycek slid down under the covers and turned over.
Scully could only stare at him. "You're staying here?" she asked in disbelief.
He opened his eyes. "Of course I'm staying here. If I were somewhere else, this deal would never get off the ground. Who knows? Maybe proximity might help you warm up to the idea."
Her mind whirled. She'd just agreed to be his sex slave, and now he expected her to let him stay in her apartment? Again she had no choice; she just knew he wasn't going to leave, no matter what. Still... <Can't he at least allow me some privacy right now to adjust to the idea of the deal? He doesn't expect to be with me every minute, does he? Some lines have to be drawn. Right now...> "Get out of my bed."
Krycek turned over to face her. "What, after all we shared?"
"Get *out*! I'm *not* sleeping in the guest room or on the sofa in my own home and I'm *not* sleeping with you!"
"Didn't you already?"
That one word was all it took. She knew he wouldn't move, just as she knew he wouldn't leave her apartment. Her anger melted away and all she was left with was deep fatigue. She'd had a long day, she was tired, and she didn't feel up to fighting anymore.
"Tell you what," Krycek said. "I'll take the wet spot."
Scully stared at him for a long moment, then gave an exasperated sigh. "Fine. Just *fine*. But if you so much as breathe on me tonight, you *will* die. Clear?"
"As crystal," he said, watching her slide under the covers, as far away from him as possible.
She snapped off the light and settled down to sleep. A moment later she heard his soft voice in the dark. "You don't snore, do you?"
<Die, bastard. Just die and leave me alone.> "No, and if you do, I'll shoot you."
A soft laugh. "This could turn out to be even more fun than I thought."
The first thing that registered in Alex Krycek's consciousness the next morning was the earthquake. Series of earthquakes, really, each lasting only a second or two. He sat up like a shot, instantly on alert, quickly analyzing the unfamiliar surroundings... until he remembered where he was. His gaze settled on one very pissed off redhead, standing at the foot of the bed and kicking the mattress. "Morning," he purred.
"Get up," Scully snarled at him.
Krycek stretched slowly, working some of the post-sleep lethargy out of his muscles. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this good. Last night had gone exactly the way he'd envisioned it: perfectly executed plan, great sex... and acceptance of his deal. What more could a guy want? He was even a little surprised at how easy it had been. Hardly a challenge for his considerable seduction skills. Although the night had been meticulously planned, he'd been prepared for much more of a fight. The little redhead must've been really starved for it to have reacted the way she did, which took a little of the fun out of it, but she'd more than made up for it later. Encounters with the inexperienced didn't often make for mind- blowing sex, but the trade-off was that they tended to provide a considerable ego boost. He wondered idly how long it would take until the words "best sex I ever had" crossed her lips.
Yeah, for a change, life was good. And playing with Dana Scully's head for however long this deal took could only make it better. He stretched again before flopping back against the pillows. "Been a long time since I crashed in a place this nice," he sighed. "I'm sleeping in."
"I said, get up!" she demanded.
He settled in more comfortably and laughed softly. "Make me."
Scully turned away with a frustrated sound and started searching the room for her shoes as Krycek slipped further under the covers and nestled down into the pillows. Another interesting fact to file away about Dana Scully: she had a thing for pillows. There had to be six or eight of the things bunched at the top of the king-size bed. He chuckled to himself as a number of uses for all those pillows floated through his head.
He wasn't even aware that he'd fallen asleep again until he felt another mattress-quake. "What now?" he moaned, slowly rolling over onto his back.
"I already told you I'm sleeping in," he sighed, closing his eyes again and wishing she'd just go away. Sleep was something he hadn't had a whole lot of in recent weeks, and the last thing he needed was for her to keep waking him up. "Aren't you late or something? Go to work. Time to go out and save the world from people like me." Shooing her off to work seemed safe, since he was reasonably sure she wouldn't tell Mulder what had happened. She had obviously enjoyed the sex. On some level she'd realize that, and that she'd consented, and it would keep her from telling her partner.
"First I need to save myself from people like you," she said, approaching the bed. "Give me your arm."
Anything to make her shut up and leave him in peace. He obediently offered his left one, but she slapped it away. "The real one," she said impatiently.
Krycek sighed heavily and sat up halfway, watching her set out equipment necessary for drawing blood. "You actually listened to me last night, huh? I'm impressed."
"Believe me, I would've done this with or without your permission. Make a fist, please?" She probed his inner elbow in search of a vein, then swabbed the area and sank the needle into the vein she'd found. He was unable to stifle a small hiss of pain, and didn't miss her small, gratified smile. Might as well let her have her petty little thrills for now. She'd learn soon enough. "This deal goes nowhere unless these tests come back clean," she said. "All of them. That's also non- negotiable."
"Fair enough." He watched with growing discomfort as she filled first one tube, then another, then switched to a third empty one. "Jesus, how much do you need? What are you, a vampire?"
She offered a tight smile. "I'm doing a lot of tests. I need a lot of blood. Do you have a problem with that?"
<Yeah, I do. You'll claim to find evidence of some disease you made up to try to get out of the deal...> He glared at her but said nothing.
Scully stopped once the third tube was filled, and Krycek quickly burrowed back under the covers as she packed up her equipment. Her voice interruped him again before he could get really comfortable. "You're not done yet, buster."
"Jesus, now what?" He turned over again and opened his eyes to find the little redhead holding a covered specimen cup out to him. He groaned audibly. "Oh, for --"
"No tests, no deal," she said firmly. "Do it."
"I agreed to blood tests, not that."
"Sorry, but blood tests just don't tell the whole story." Her face was the picture of innocence, but he just knew she was grinning like the Cheshire cat inside. "If you want your precious deal, do it."
<Suka,> he thought, glaring at her.
"That's what you get for not wearing a condom," she continued, a wicked gleam coming into her eyes.
"Fine," he snarled, snatching the cup out of her hand. "Just *fine*. If I do this, will you leave me alone?" He slid out of bed and sauntered toward the bathroom, fully aware that he was still naked and that his nakedness had an effect on the redhead. It wasn't until after he closed the bathroom door that he heard her voice again.
"Leave you alone? In my own home? If you want to sleep, you go somewhere else."
"Bitch," he muttered to himself. If this was how she was going to be, it was almost enough to make him re-think the deal. Almost, but not quite. He had control over practically every aspect of the deal, which had to bother her. If making him pee into a cup made her feel (albeit falsely) like she had some sort of control, then so be it. Letting her feel like she was putting one over on him would make her easier to control in the long run.
He left the covered cup on the bathroom counter and was just sliding back under the covers when Scully came back into the bedroom with a Ziploc bag. "Any other bodily fluids you want samples of?" he asked. "Better tell me now."
She sealed the cup in the bag and stowed it away with the vials of blood. "No, I think this will do."
"You sure? There's one you can help with. C'mon, it'll be fun..."
He saw the slight shudder that ran through her and laughed. "No, thank you," she said quietly. "This is fine."
"Good." Krycek burrowed deeper under the covers. "You'd better get going. Spooky'll be mad if you're late." Though his eyes were closed, he could feel her staring at him, willing him to get up. Smiling to himself, he settled in more comfortably. Just let her try to get him to move.
"Fine, sleep now," she told him. "But you'd better get out before tonight. I want you gone by the time I get back."
He laughed softly. "What are you going to do, shoot me?"
He felt the weight of her stare for a moment longer before she left with a frustrated sigh.
Scully stood outside the basement office, contemplating the door, for a full five minutes. <Special Agent Fox Mulder>, the lone nameplate read. <Where's mine?> she found herself thinking, not for the first time. <Where's the nameplate that tells the world that Special Agent Dana Scully exists? He could've at least gotten me a nameplate. Aren't we equals? We must be; I finally have a desk. Of course, I had to ask for it. And he still thinks that was just about a desk...>
She wasn't ready to face anyone yet, least of all her partner. She'd slept only fitfully, awakened every so often by bizarre dreams. The one she remembered most clearly saw her having wild, passionate sex with Alex Krycek on her sister's grave as an angry mob closed in around them. She soon realized that the mob was made up of her family and friends; Mulder, demanding to know where his sister was, leading her sobbing mother. She screamed in ecstasy just as Krycek pushed over the headstone so all could see both Samantha Mulder's and Melissa Scully's names on it, while her father stood off to the side, shaking his head sadly.
Scully didn't need any Freudian analyst to tell her what that dream meant. It was the look on her father's face that summed the whole thing up for her. He'd be so disappointed if he knew what she'd done last night. Everyone she knew would. How could she ever face her family again? Or her partner? Well, she had to face him, but it wouldn't be easy.
She had awakened with a splitting headache, courtesy of all the wine she'd had the night before, and a strong resolve to tell Mulder what had happened. Her resolve was starting to weaken, though, now that she realized that he'd have questions. He'd ask her about her hangover. He'd want to know why she hadn't called him last night. And he'd want to know why she let her rapist sleep in her bed.
Her eyes returning to the single nameplate on the door, she placed a trembling hand on the door knob. "Mulder may have his weak points," she murmured under her breath, "but he's all I've got." She took a deep breath and entered the office.
Special Agent Fox Mulder was leaning back in his desk chair, feet up on the desk, engrossed in the file on his lap. He didn't even look up as she closed the door; instead addressing her as he flipped through the pages of the file. "Hey, Scully, wanna see something really interesting?"
Scully slipped quietly behind her own desk and turned on her computer, her mind barely registering her partner's words. He seemed to be expecting a reply, but she had no real idea what he'd said. "New case, Mulder?" That seemed safe.
"No, I've been going through some of the old files and I found out..." His voice trailed off when he realized that she hadn't assumed her usual position next to his desk. Scully watched him glance at the clock, hoping that he wouldn't comment on the fact that it was 9:20, more than a half hour later than she usually came in and just plain late, a rarity for her.
He didn't comment, much to her relief, but his eyes moved from the clock to her face, studying her. Finally he said, "You look tired, Scully. Feeling okay?"
That was the only concession he made to her recently diagnosed cancer -- the occasional question about how she was feeling. Beyond that, he never mentioned it, and didn't give her opportunity to talk about it if she might want to. At first that had been okay with her -- she was in denial herself for a short while. But now, as the reality that she really did have The Big C (and terminal, at that) started to seep in, she felt a growing need to talk about it. With Mulder? Not a chance.
Mulder's voice cut through her thoughts. "Scully?"
She shook her head slightly and focused on her partner. "I'm fine, Mulder. I just... didn't get much sleep last night." <Aren't you going to tell him why?> she immediately asked herself.
Mulder's lips curved into a smirk. "New boyfriend, Scully?"
She looked up sharply. "What?"
"Simple deduction," he went on. "You didn't sleep much last night, but you say you're fine. Ergo, something else kept you awake. Or someone. Must be a new boyfriend."
She could only stare at him in shock.
"Must've been really good, too. You haven't heard a word I've said since you walked in here. So... anybody I know?"
It didn't occur to her until much later that Mulder, uncomfortable as he was with her illness, was probably only trying to lighten things up. But in her current frame of mind, the question registered as rude and terribly intrusive. "For your information, Mulder," she huffed indignantly, "my private life is exactly that. *Private*. What I do during my off hours and who I do it with is none of your business!"
"Sorry, Scully," he said, a little taken aback. "I was just concerned. I mean, the last time you had a date, it was with some psycho with a talking tattoo --"
"Are you insinuating that I'm incapable of dating normal men?"
"No, but --"
"I'm not allowed to have a life like other people?"
"I didn't say --"
"And if you *must* know, I didn't have a date last night, nor do I have a new boyfriend, if that makes you feel better. But even if I did, and even if my new boyfriend did keep me up all night, it's still none of your business! Is that clear?"
Mulder tapped a pen against the file in his lap and just looked at her. Finally he said, "Guess it wasn't that good after all, huh?"
If she didn't get away from him, she just knew she was going to hit him. Remembering the samples in her bag, she rose from her desk. "If you're finished analyzing my sex life now, I have some work to do. That is what we get paid for, isn't it?"
She had just touched the doorknob when he asked, "Where will you be, in case I need to find you?"
<Anywhere but here.> "Having a quickie with my new boyfriend in the janitor's closet. Knock before you barge in, okay?" she tossed over her shoulder as she left.
It wasn't until she was halfway to the lab that Scully realized that she'd probably taken everything Mulder had said completely the wrong way. She knew he wouldn't talk about the cancer, so he'd probably thought of his question as a lighter way to make sure she was feeling all right. Still, even if he hadn't meant it that way, the question struck a nerve. She could still hear the sarcasm in his voice during that phone call while she was in Philadelphia: "What, do you have a *date*?" Just because he hadn't had a date in the five years she'd known him didn't mean that she had to follow his example, did it?
<Wait a minute,> she told herself. <How can what happened with Krycek last night compare to a date? That was no date, it was rape. And now I can't even tell Mulder about it. He'd just make some silly remark...>
Somewhere deep down, though, she knew Mulder wouldn't make light of the situation if she told him about it. On the other hand... what would Krycek do if she told her partner? He'd be arrested, so it wouldn't matter, would it? But that meant no information. No answers. No Samantha. No sex...
She squelched that thought immediately. What Krycek might do did indeed matter. He'd be out of jail before she had the chance to throw his stuff out of her apartment, because physical evidence would back up his story. Without that on her side, it was her word against his, and although she knew her colleagues would believe her, she couldn't count on a jury doing the same. Krycek was smooth, charming, and an extremely convincing liar. He'd have a jury eating out of his hand. And once he was acquitted, he'd come after her for sure.
Why risk that? Better to keep last night's activities to herself and go through with the deal. Better to get what she could from him while he was offering. Better to stay on Krycek's good side and insure that the sex came on her terms, not his...
She shook those thoughts out of her head and pushed open the door to the lab, startling the lab's lone occupant. Agent Pendrell looked up at her with big, round eyes for a moment before a huge grin spread across his face, making him look all of about twelve years old. "Agent Scully! What brings you down here?"
Scully smiled to herself, glad that he was the one on duty today. She couldn't help but think of Pendrell as everybody's goofy kid brother, and it was impossible not to like him. Besides that, he did top-notch work, more often than not going above and beyond what was asked. He was the perfect person to help her out with the list of blood tests she wanted to perform. "Morning, Agent Pendrell," she returned. "Are you busy?"
He immediately slammed shut the two file folders he had open in front of him and pushed the microscope away. "Not at all. What can I do for you?"
"If you're busy I can come back --"
"No!" Pendrell jumped up, as if to block her exit, then smiled sheepishly when she stopped and looked at him in surprise. "Really, I'm not busy," he assured her. "Is there something I can help you with?"
Why couldn't the rest of the men in her life be so agreeable? "Well... yes," she said slowly, only then realizing that she hadn't formulated any sort of cover story. "There's some blood tests I need to perform, and I was wondering if you could help me."
"Sure! Just tell me what you want me to do."
After dealing with pigheaded creatures like Krycek and Mulder, Pendrell was definitely a breath of fresh air. Scully handed him a vial of blood and a list of the tests she felt it safe to have him take care of. "When do you think these can be ready?"
Pendrell looked over his list thoughtfully. "Is tomorrow afternoon okay?"
"Perfect." The results of the tests she would do herself -- the ones she couldn't possibly explain to Pendrell -- would be ready by then, too. "Could you deliver the results directly to me?" she asked. "It would be better if you didn't leave them on my desk or give them to Agent Mulder..." Her voice trailed off. <Nitwit. Now he's going to ask why...>
Pendrell was already getting his equipment ready. "So this isn't for a case?" he asked casually.
<Think, Dana, think...> "Well... It relates to an old case... sort of..." she said slowly. "But it's really more of a... personal favor." She paused for a moment, then, in a small voice, "Do you mind?"
"Of course not. I'll get the report right into your hands before you leave here tomorrow, okay?"
She heaved an inward sigh of relief. "Thank you, Agent Pendrell. I really appreciate this."
"My pleasure, Agent Scully." He practically beamed at her.
They both settled quietly down to work, and when she heard the lab door open, Scully looked at her watch and was surprised to find that more than two hours had passed. She didn't even have to turn around to know who the visitor was.
"There you are," Mulder said from the doorway.
She sighed heavily. "Yes, Mulder, here I am."
"Y'know, I even knocked at the door of the janitor's closet before I went in, but you weren't there."
<No kidding.> "I've been here. *Working*, like I told you."
"Want to grab some lunch?"
Scully sighed again. "No, Mulder, I'm busy."
He came up behind her and peered over her shoulder. "Checking up on the new boyfriend?"
She whirled around to face him. "Excuse me?" She barely noticed that Pendrell's head came up at the question, too.
"Smart move, Scully," Mulder went on, looking over the papers she had spread out next to the microscope. "Why trust what he says when you can find out for yourself, right?" He leaned in conspiratorially. "Of course, you being a doctor and all... you were careful, weren't you?"
"Mulder, that's enough!"
To his credit, he actually did shut up.
"There isn't any new boyfriend and I'm not 'checking up' on anyone," she fumed. "I'm *working* -- real work -- which is more than I can say for you this morning. Now, if you don't mind --"
"Is this related to a case?" Irritating Juvenile Mulder was replaced by Professional Mulder in an instant.
"Which one? And how come I don't know about this?"
Uh-oh. Now how was she supposed to bluff her way out of this? She wasn't lying, but she couldn't tell him what case it really related to... "Philadelphia," she said quickly. "I, um..." Her voice trailed off as she studied Mulder's reaction. He was slightly taken aback, but he let her continue. Good choice, then. "I wanted to do further study on the blood samples. I think there might be something the original blood work missed."
"Oh." Mulder took a step back and looked her over, making her decidedly uncomfortable. "Why didn't you just say so?"
"I..." Scully turned slightly and caught Pendrell looking at her, whereupon he immediately dropped his eyes back to his microscope. Pendrell would never question what she'd told him, would he? He had to know she was lying either to him or to Mulder. She could only pray that he wouldn't blow her cover. "It's nothing that needs to go into the files," she finally said. "It's just... something I needed to know. It's... well, it's sort of personal..."
Her voice trailed off as Mulder leaned forward and studied the top sheet of paper. He tapped one line on it. "I thought you said you and Jerse didn't --"
She zipped the sheet out from under his hand. "We didn't. Now if you're finished..."
"If you didn't," Mulder interrupted, "why are you testing --"
"To the uninitiated," Scully cut in, "the terminology used in blood testing makes a lot of tests look similar." She looked her partner straight in the eye. "The tests aren't always what they look like."
Mulder stepped back and again studied her. "My mistake," he said at length. "I'm sorry."
<He knows. Just tell him. Go ahead, he'll believe you...> "Mulder, I..."
He raised an eyebrow. "Yeah?"
She tried to meet his eyes, but found that she couldn't. "Have a good lunch," she finally said.
"Guess I'll see you later, then." He paused with a hand on the doorknob. "You're not skipping meals, are you, Scully? You know you're not supposed to..."
Now she looked up, surprised at this blatant expression of concern for her health. "No, I'm not."
"Good." Mulder opened the door. "Have a good lunch with the boyfriend, then."
"Dammit, Mulder..." Scully whirled toward the door, but her partner was already gone, and Pendrell was looking at her questioningly. "He's just... joking..." she explained weakly.
"Of course, Agent Scully," he said immediately, but he too took a long look at her before returning to his work.
Scully spread her papers out again and bent back to her microscope with but one thought in mind. <Alex Krycek is a dead man.>
Russian translation (maybe not necessary now, but later on context won't help as much):
As hard as she tried to avoid going home, Scully could delay it no longer. After she'd finished in the lab, she'd accomplished a lot of other work during the day in an effort to keep her thoughts as far as possible from the events of the previous night. She had been successful -- too successful, in fact. Her focused efficiency during the day had made short work of the stack of paperwork on her desk, leaving her with nothing more to do. Mulder's remarks about the source of her new-found energy continued to get on her nerves. She could take a joke as well as the next person, but he was carrying it too far. She'd thought he was sensitive enough to know when enough was enough, but apparently she'd thought wrong. Not only was it embarrassing and annoying; it also made her more and more sure that she couldn't tell him what had happened. Once she reached the point where she either had to leave or hit him, she realized she had no choice but to go home.
With each block she drove, she sent up a silent prayer that Krycek would be gone when she got home. She even managed to half convince herself that what she thought had happened had really been a nightmare.
<Nightmare, Dana?> that little rebellious part of her mind piped up. <Or is dream a better word?>
"No," Scully said firmly, hardly aware that she was speaking aloud. "Even if it was real, it was a nightmare."
<Really? When was the last time a man made love to you like that?>
"He didn't make love to me. He raped me."
<Then why didn't you tell Mulder? He would've sympathized; would've even stopped making those crude remarks. Could it be, maybe... you enjoyed it?>
"NO!" Scully pounded her fist on the steering wheel. "I did *not* enjoy it." Even as she said the words, utterly delicious sensations from the previous night came back to her, and a completely unwelcome warmth spread through her lower body. "He just knew what buttons to push. Like he said, it's just as easy as making someone scream."
<Oh, come on. Three orgasms, just from knowing what buttons to push? Not likely. Admit it, you loved how it felt when he touched you. Feeling him inside you drove you wild.>
<Face it, if it were any other man, you'd be half in love with him already.>
"I don't base my relationships on sex. I would never fall in love with somebody just because he's great in bed."
<And he was great, wasn't he? Best you ever had.>
"So what?" She became aware that the driver of the car in the lane next to her was looking at her funny, and she glared at him until he sped up and passed her. "It was just sex," she said firmly. "Meaningless sex."
<The State of Denial must be a nice place to live, Dana.>
"Denial? I'm not in denial. It meant nothing. I didn't tell Mulder because... well, Krycek would find some way to twist it around so... it looked like something it wasn't."
<You're afraid, aren't you?>
"Of him? Absolutely not!"
<You're afraid of yourself. You're afraid it felt too good and you liked it too much; afraid you won't be able to hold out. Afraid you'll go crawling to him one night begging him to do that again, and afraid of how you'll feel when he pays you off with information.>
"I'm *not* afraid," Scully whispered fiercely as she pulled up in front of her building. "Not afraid." But as she turned the key to kill the engine, she realized that her hands were trembling.
Taking a moment to compose herself, she looked up to the windows of her apartment. There were lights on, meaning that Krycek was still there. A shiver of fear ran through her, and she had to stop and calm herself down again. <Nothing will happen,> she reminded herself. <I'll be fine if he sticks to the terms of the deal. He won't touch me unless I initiate it.>
"Right," she said aloud. "The last time I took Alex Krycek at his word, Mulder almost got his arm chopped off." She took a deep breath and entered the building.
Visions of how she might find her unwelcome houseguest tumbled through her mind, distracting her so thoroughly that she dropped her keys four times before finally fitting the correct key in the lock. She spun her mental roulette wheel, trying to decide which image would be the right one. Would he be in the kitchen cooking? Already waiting for her in the bedroom? Lounging naked on the sofa? She wiped that vision from her mind quickly, unwilling to deal with the reaction her body had to it, and pushed the door open.
Whatever picture her mind had settled on, it hadn't prepared her for the utterly innocuous scene she saw before her. Krycek was stretched out on the sofa -- fully clothed -- reading the newspaper. There was a laptop computer (not hers) sitting closed on the coffee table, next to a newly- straightened pile of magazines she had been meaning to read. In fact, the whole room seemed to have been straightened up a bit. Not that it had been messy before; it just looked more organized somehow. Scully shook her head a bit in disbelief. Alex Krycek -- domestic?
He had looked up briefly when she came in, and now turned his attention back to the newspaper with an amused half-smile. "Hi," he said, more to the paper than to her. "Thought you might be late tonight."
Scully closed the door and kicked off her shoes, still processing the scene in her living room. Two nights in a row now, Krycek had gotten the drop on her. As soon as she thought she had him figured out, he went and did exactly the opposite of what she expected. What other surprises did he have in store for her? "Oh, you did," she said, trying to regain some measure of control. "And just what made you think I'd be late?"
"Must've been the way you left here this morning." He closed the paper and watched her as she moved about the room. "You as much as told me that if I was here, you wouldn't be." He caught her gaze and held it. "Dana, you're trying to avoid me."
She felt herself being drawn in, hypnotized by those luminous green eyes. <Yes, I want you, right now, right here,> was on the tip of her tongue, but she managed to squelch the impulse to say the words. Instead she closed her eyes for a long moment, breaking the hypnotic spell. "And why would I avoid my own home just because you're here?" she asked. "We have a deal. If you stick to it, I have nothing to be afraid of, right?"
"It's not me you don't trust, is it? You don't trust yourself."
The impulse to smack that grin off his face was almost overpowering. <He'd probably enjoy it,> she thought. But the words were disturbingly familiar, words that had come from her own mind. Better to just not deal with that for the time being. "Oh, please," she scoffed. "How *do* you get through doors with an ego that size?"
He laughed. "So the bullpen was wrong -- you *do* have a sense of humor!"
Scully leaned against the entrance to the kitchen and chewed her lower lip. "Care to hear some of the things they said about you?"
"Heard 'em." Krycek sat up and stretched, a move of such surprisingly sinuous grace that Scully couldn't take her eyes off him. She continued to watch as he stood and moved into the kitchen to check the pots on the stove. He moved like a cat, with an ease she'd never noticed before. Then again, she'd never seen him in this sort of environment, relaxed, confident and in control. The effect was very unsettling. "Seriously, Dana," he continued, his tone light, "lots of women would kill to be in your position right now. Believe it or not, I'd be considered a great catch."
"Sure, by the local law enforcement." She couldn't watch him anymore; the whole effect was too disturbing. She mentally cursed herself for finding it disturbing at all.
He shook his head sadly at her. "Dana, didn't your mother teach you that if you can't say something nice --"
"Okay, I'll bite," Scully sighed. "Why are you such a great catch?"
"Look around you. I cook, I pick up the place... you've already experienced my, um... after-hours skills... I even took the wet spot..."
<Please don't go there... not yet,> she silently begged. "How considerate."
"I even did the laundry that was in the hamper."
He apparently didn't want to nitpick last night either, at least not yet, or he wouldn't have moved on so quickly. "Great. I suppose my whites are now black and my delicates are ripped to shreds?"
"Hey, I took Laundry Sorting 101," he said defensively.
"Fine," she sighed. "If you do windows and can give a bathroom a half- decent scrub, I just might hire you."
He looked up at her, studying her, his expression unreadable. "They were so wrong about you," he mused. "That's good. I like a spirited woman."
"I'm so glad." Finally managing to beat back vivid memories of the previous night, Scully watched him move around the kitchen, setting the table for two. "You didn't eat yet?"
"Couldn't let you eat alone, could I?" He flashed her that killer grin, then turned back to the stove. "It's almost ready. Are you?"
<Ready for what? You? Very definitely not...> "I'll be right back," she said slowly, "and I swear, if I see wine on that table when I get back, you're dead."
Krycek laughed softly. "Dana, would I do that to you?"
"Yes. You already have."
He raised an amused eyebrow at her. "Trust me?"
"Not on your life."
He laughed again. "Just go, will you?"
She surprised herself by going. She could afford to trust him to some extent on this point; it was a relatively simple one. She would, however, stand her ground on more important stuff. She knew better now.
Scully returned after quickly changing her clothes to find the room exactly as she'd left it. No soft lighting, no candles, no light music... and more important, no wine. A bottle of mineral water stood by one of the glasses on the table; a beer by the other. She slipped without a word into the chair by the mineral water place setting, noticing as she sat the lemon wedge on a small plate next to the bottle. This whole experience was a nightmare, but one thing about it was rather appealing. It was nice to be cooked for and waited on for a change, even if it was by a wanted felon. After all, her doctors had told her to start eating better, and Krycek was, to her amazement, a good cook. Thoughtful in his choices, too -- if Mulder had been serving this dinner, there would be no lemon for her water. In fact, there would probably be a beer by her plate, too. And the food would more than likely be Chinese takeout.
Scully dug into her meal (chicken cutlet something or other -- she suspected it was a recipe unique to her new cook), perfectly willing to dine in silence. At least she thought she was willing, but she soon realized that the silence was filled with unspoken questions she didn't want to answer. She figured she might as well get the conversational ball rolling, if for no other reason than to head off any discussion of the previous night. "So," she asked, almost afraid of the answer, "what did you do all day?"
"Nothing much," came the answer. "Cleaned up last night's dinner - forgot to do that, didn't we?" His playful leer brought no response (only through sheer force of will on her part), so he continued. "Picked up the place... did the laundry... like I said, not much."
She offered a tight smile. "How very domestic."
"Yeah, well, I got tired of living like a sewer rat. Domestic is a nice change." He paused, almost daring her to respond to the sewer rat comment, but she declined. "Oh, by the way, I thought that since I'll be living here, I should unpack. I moved some stuff around in the closet and dresser. If you can't find something, just ask."
Scully blinked at him. "You moved my things?" The thought of him touching her intimate possessions made her feel... weird.
"I can't very well live out of a duffel bag for the rest of my life, can I? Where else was I going to put my stuff?"
<Rest of your life? That's how long you plan to be here?> Not willing to discuss that point for the time being, she bent to her food again, now determined to dine in silence, no matter the cost.
Krycek allowed her to for a good while, through most of the meal, before asking in a casual, conversational tone, "So, how's old Spooky these days?"
She looked up at him, trying and failing to read his expression. "Since when do you care?" What was he getting at?
"Today I happen to, okay?" No response from her, so he continued. "When I didn't have cops and former colleagues beating in the door during the day, I figured you didn't tell Mulder about last night." Another pause, during which Scully, knowing and dreading what was coming, concentrated mightily on her plate. "Why?"
Even though she knew it was coming, the question still hit Scully like a ton of bricks. Did he have to bring it up so soon? She gulped from her glass, then made the mistake of meeting his gaze. Those green eyes were very intense now, rendering her utterly incapable of speech. She dropped her eyes to her plate again. "I... I..."
"Why?" he repeated, his voice soft yet unmistakably commanding. "If you really believed it was what you called it, why didn't you tell him? He might've even believed you."
She could almost feel that intense gaze boring into her skull. <Not now,> she silently begged. <Don't do this to me; not now.>
"Why, Dana?" he asked again, his voice still soft. "Why didn't you tell him?"
"Because..." The truth was, she didn't really know why she hadn't told Mulder anyway, despite his teasing. Of course she couldn't now, not after a whole day, but why hadn't she as soon as she got to the office? Because she didn't think he'd believe her? Because Krycek could refute any claim she made? Because last night was... Because... "Because I just want this whole nightmare over with," she heard herself say. "I want it finished as soon as possible, and this... *deal*... of yours seems to be my only choice. If you stick to it." She could feel her face redden as she said the words.
She felt the intensity of his gaze drop dramatically, and he chuckled softly. "Does that mean I have something to look forward to later?"
"No, I..." She took a sip of her water to calm herself, trying to will her face not to turn as red as her hair. Damn him for being amused by all this! "I'm not ready for that. Not yet."
"You were ready enough last night..."
"I wasn't given a choice last night, was I?"
"Sure you were," he countered. "And I didn't hear the word 'no' pass your lips once. Which is why I sort of thought you might want to get this deal started as soon as possible..."
"I thought you said the 'when' was my call."
He shrugged. "It is," he said mildly. "But if you're even thinking about it... last night wasn't really so awful, was it?"
Again memories of the previous night washed over her, and it took every ounce of self-control she had not to give in. "Why are you doing this to me?" she asked quietly, not meeting his eyes. "Do you have any idea how hard this is for me? Do you even care? You could've asked me to climb Mount Everest without ropes and it wouldn't be this hard." She paused, took a breath, and sipped from her glass again. "The only way you could've made this deal any harder would be by asking me to... to sleep with that black-lunged bastard you're in league with." Her voice had dropped almost to a whisper by the time she finished, and she was almost surprised to find that she was trembling.
"See, Dana, it could be worse," he pointed out, an evil grin appearing on his face. "I could've asked you to sleep with other people, and I didn't. Console yourself with that if you like. It's only me."
"That," she spat, "is the problem."
Krycek considered this for a moment. "Sex with me is really that revolting?" he finally asked.
Scully fought to keep herself from crying. How could the sick bastard be so glib about this? The most revolting part of this, for the moment, was that her mouth just couldn't seem to form the emphatic "yes" she desperately wanted to say. "Asking for it is revolting. And degrading. This whole deal is... hard. So damn hard."
"I know it's hard," he broke in softly, and she looked up to see a flash of something -- might that be regret? -- cross his eyes. "I can't help it."
"You can't help it?" she hissed. "You --"
"I can't help it," he repeated quietly.
Her eyes met his again, and she felt all the anger drain from her body. "What do you get out of this, anyway?"
"Besides the obvious? Sorry, that's classified."
"Classified." He nodded. "Dammit, tell me!"
He sighed. "Dana, in my experience, this statement is generally full of shit, but in this case it's very true: what you don't know can't hurt you."
Scully sat back and processed what she'd just heard. Was there something more going on here? More than just his own sick, sadistic game? What was he keeping from her?
"By the way," he said, interrupting her thoughts, "that should be 'used to be in league with'."
She blinked. "What?"
"You assume I'm connected to that black-lunged bastard. Our agendas... ah... aren't quite the same anymore."
That was news. "Since when?"
Krycek drained his beer. "He tried to kill me twice," he said evenly. "Quite a philosophical difference, wouldn't you say?"
Okay, maybe that had something to do with what was going on. But... "So why this deal, with these terms? Why does it have to involve me?" Her voice dropped as an uncharacteristic wave of self-pity came over her. "What did I ever do to deserve this?"
"It's not a question of deserving it," Krycek told her. "The stakes are high here, Dana. I know you don't believe that, but it's true; much higher than you think they are. And trust me, you'll thank me when this is all over."
"What are the stakes?" she demanded.
"How am I supposed to know when this is over if I don't know what I'm working toward?"
"You'll know. Believe me, when the time comes, you'll know."
Scully mentally berated herself for falling into this trap. Once again, she'd placed herself in this man's hands, trusting him to lead her to some unknown, but apparently important, goal. She'd sworn never again after the last time...
<But last time you didn't have sex with him,> that little part of her mind piped up. <That *is* what's keeping you in this deal, isn't it?>
She banished that thought from her mind. It was absolutely impossible for one night to affect her life so profoundly, to the point where she would actually agree to something like this. Wasn't it? There had to be some way out of this...
"Krycek," she began softly, then corrected herself. "Alex... is there any way... any way at all that we could... renegotiate?"
He raised an inquisitive eyebrow at her. "Renegotiate?"
"Yes." Scully took a deep breath, then continued tentatively, "If I could arrange for a pardon..."
He shook his head slowly. "You don't get it, do you, Dana?"
"But you'd be free," she protested.
"Dana, even with a pardon," he said, as if explaining to a small child, "I'm not free."
"You're telling me that your own personal freedom... the ability to walk down the street in broad daylight without getting carted off to jail, is actually less important to you than sleeping with me?" She knew she was grasping at straws, but she couldn't help it. She was getting desperate.
"You're not hearing me, are you?" He sighed, apparently as frustrated with this question as she was. "I don't care if you get a pardon from the President himself and have him sign it right here in front of me. *It doesn't matter*. Will that stop anybody from putting a bullet in my head? Get me a pardon from *that* and maybe we'll talk. Anything less means nothing. I'm not free."
"I see." She sat back, trying not to let her despair show on her face. "You're not free, so I'm not free."
"You really don't get it, do you?" Krycek got up and paced around the kitchen. His voice changed; she thought he sounded almost angry now. Not quite, not yet, but the anger was there, just beneath the surface. "You're as free as you want to be. You tell me right now you want to bag the deal and I'm outta here. You're free as a bird; you can pretend the last two days never happened if you want. If you can. No strings. But if you say yes, you're in this deal one hundred percent, and you're in it to the end. You have time if you need it, but rest assured, time is *not* unlimited. Something *will* be expected of you. And if you say yes and then string me along? I'm outta here then, too... and you won't like what happens after I leave."
He came to rest by the chair from which he'd arisen, leaning forward across the table, eyes fixed intently on her. "You just have to decide how badly you want what I'm offering." He reached out and, before she could move, gently caressed her cheek. His touch might just as well have been a slap. The gesture and the gleam in his eyes sent a clear message: <Never forget I'm dangerous. Never forget I'm in control.> "I know you want it," he whispered. "You just tell me how much."
Scully could only sit and stare at him. Yes, she wanted the information he offered; Mulder needed it. But did she really want...
<You know you do,> that little voice told her. <Sure, it all sounds sleazy. Sure, he could hurt you any time he wants to. But it all comes down to one thing, doesn't it? You do want him, and you won't be able to let him just walk out that door.>
Krycek sat down again, leaning back and crossing his arms. "So, are you still willing to stand by that 'yes' you gave me last night?"
He was giving her another chance to back out. But... would he really let her just walk away from this, with no repercussions? Probably not, she admitted. She couldn't forget who she was dealing with here -- he'd sold out his own government; who was she to expect any better treatment? Of course, she could still end the whole thing by telling Mulder...
Another completely unexpected flash of memory from the previous night sprang to her mind. She could almost feel again the incredible things he did to her with his hands... his tongue... "Yes," she whispered, so softly she could barely hear it herself.
"What was that?" Krycek asked. "Didn't quite hear you."
"Yes," she repeated, louder, unable to look at him. "Yes, we have a deal."
"Good." He drew her mostly-clean plate across the table. "You weren't planning on finishing this cutlet, were you?"
She looked up, taken aback yet again. She had just agreed to be his sex slave, and what did he want to do? Eat. "I'm tired, and I have a headache," she said, rising from her seat. "If it's okay with you, I'm just going to go to bed now."
He looked up from the plate, startled. "You okay?"
"I'm fine; I'm just tired." <The headache is your fault,> she mentally added.
"I take it that wasn't an invitation, then."
She sighed as she moved toward the hall. "No, it wasn't. Believe me, you'll know it when you get an invitation."
Krycek waited until she was almost in the bedroom before calling out to her. "You know, Dana, someday this is going to be a more equal partnership."
A chill ran down Scully's spine as she returned to the entrance to the dining nook. "I beg your pardon?"
"It is," he insisted, clearing the dishes off the table. "One of these days you're going to help with the dishes."
Scully sighed in frustration. Tired as she was, sleep refused to come. She tried to empty her mind and allow herself to drift off, but soon realized that wouldn't work. There was too much running through her head to even think of sleep. She punched her pillow, releasing some tension, and gave up. The questions demanded answers, or at least some focused thought.
Chief among those questions was just how her houseguest would behave now that she'd agreed to his deal. Would he stick to it? His word had never been worth much before, so she couldn't count on it now. She had searched for the least sexy sleepwear she could find, finally settling on a pair of baggy cotton pajamas that buttoned up to the neck. It was a precaution, just in case Krycek finished the dishes and decided to join her. He hadn't; she had heard the TV come on once he was finished in the kitchen. Even though he'd lowered the volume, she could still hear what was on: a couple of inane sitcoms, a cop drama, the late news. Somehow she'd never thought of Alex Krycek as the type to kill an evening in front of the boob tube, but that was exactly what he was doing. Just one more thing to keep her off-balance.
Their dinner conversation this evening had certainly kept her off- balance. At first she had thought this deal was just one of Krycek's little head games (a particularly sadistic one), but she was apparently mistaken. If he could be believed, it went much deeper than that. Start with that statement that he wasn't free. What did that mean? Probably that the smoking bastard still wanted him dead. Why did he want him dead? She'd probably never know. Not unless he benevolently decided to tell her everything, and she was pretty sure it would be a cold day in hell before he did that.
Okay, so the deal had something to do with buying his freedom from the Morley Man. How? By feeding the information about his operations to Mulder through her. But why involve her at all? It wasn't like he'd never fed information to Mulder before. Of course, the end result of that was that Krycek became Mulder's personal punching bag and had his arm brutally amputated. Had he been trying to expose the smoker then? He'd said he was, but who could believe him? That was probably the reason for her involvement. It was probably safer for him to be once removed from the exposure when (if?) it came. That would also explain how he could be desperate enough to offer it in the first place.
What she still didn't understand was how he could say she'd thank him once this was over. Sure, once they were exposed, he'd be free, but what benefit would that be to her? Evidently there were still things he hadn't revealed. He said he got something "besides the obvious" out of the deal. What was that? And how did she fit into that? Was she his chosen conduit for information only because he wanted to sleep with her? Or was there something more on the line here? He implied that there was, but again, how could she take him at his word?
Scully was still awake and pondering these questions when she heard the TV shut off. A minute later Krycek entered the bedroom, moving around in the dark like he'd lived there for years. She watched him through slitted eyes, trying not to give away the fact that she was still awake. He started to undress, and Scully sent up a silent prayer: <Please, God, don't let him sleep naked.> Her prayer was answered quickly, as he stripped down to only his t-shirt and boxers. He went into the bathroom, and she turned on her side, away from his half of the bed. She heard the toilet flush and the faucet run, then he was sliding under the covers next to her.
There was a pregnant pause, and she could feel the weight of his stare. She heard a soft chuckle, then his low, throaty voice. "Nice jammies, Dana," he purred. "Very sexy." Then he turned on his side away from her with a soft sigh.
<What have I done?> Scully asked herself as she closed her eyes. <Dear God, what have I done?>
<He stood in the middle of the meadow dressed all in black, a dark beacon that drew her like a moth to a flame. She flew to him, clung to him, molded herself to his body. He stroked her cheek once, the invitation clear in the gesture and in his brilliant emerald eyes. She let her gauzy white dress fall to the grass, offering herself to him. In an instant she was lying on the dress and he was with her. He kissed and touched her everywhere, setting her entire body afire with the magic of his touch. His roving hand came to rest between her legs and she opened them in welcome, shivering and sighing at his gentle strokes. First one finger, then two, then three slid inside her, and she gasped at the sudden entry. He kissed her then, his tongue invading her mouth in time to the rhythm of his fingers sliding in and out of her. His thumb stroked her tiny nub, bringing her almost instantly to that perfect peak of ecstasy -->
Scully sat up like a shot, breathing hard and more aroused than she'd ever been from any dream in her life. It was a dream, wasn't it? Sure it was. She was in her bedroom, in her own bed, alone -- no, not alone. Not alone, but certainly not being --
She shook her head and took a deep breath, willing her pounding heart to slow down. She calmed herself after a few moments and slid back down toward the pillow again. That was when she noticed the dark spots on the crisp white pillowcase, clearly visible in the pale moonlight filtering through the curtains. With growing fear she touched her upper lip, and her finger came away wet. Another nosebleed.
She scooted into the bathroom and was concentrating on trying to stop the nosebleed, praying that it wouldn't get worse, when she heard movement behind her. She looked up from the sink to find Krycek standing in the doorway, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "Dana, are you okay?" he asked, reaching out to her. "Here, let me --"
"Don't touch me!" she cried sharply, shrinking away from his touch.
He stepped back, and she turned away almost too quickly to see the flicker of hurt in his eyes. "I was only trying to help."
"I don't need your help," she snapped, reaching for another tissue.
He moved toward her again and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Yes you do, Dana," he said softly.
The memory of her dream came to her, and she jerked away from his touch and spun around to face him. "I said, don't touch me!" she cried, and felt a measure of satisfaction when he obeyed and stepped back, chastened. "You have a lot of nerve, you know that?" she went on, the effects of the last two days and the dream, combined with the crushing fear that accompanied every nosebleed, finally allowing her to lash out at him. "You really do. How can you stand there and tell me I need your help? You torture me and badger me into this sick deal of yours, and I need your help? I have a terminal disease -- how the hell do you think you can help with that? You're probably one of the ones who gave it to me!"
Krycek stiffened at that, his hands curling unconsciously into fists. "Never, ever say that again," he said in a low voice, his eyes filling with anger. "Don't you *dare* lay that on me! You have no idea!"
"Then enlighten me!"
His eyes closed now, and he struggled with himself for a long moment before he was able to speak. "I can't." His voice was soft again, his anger faded to sadness. "I can't."
"Then leave me alone." She turned back to the sink, closing her eyes against tears.
"That's the problem, you know," Krycek said, moving forward and placing his hands on her shoulders. This time she didn't shrug them off. "Everyone's leaving you alone, and you're perfectly happy to push the ones who don't away. Who's there for you through this? People always lean on you. Who do you get to lean on now?"
"My mother," Scully whispered, choking back tears. "Mulder..."
"Your mother," Krycek said gently, now massaging her shoulders, "has no idea, does she? She says she's there for you, but she doesn't know what you're going through and you don't talk to her, you don't tell her what you're feeling. You don't tell her how you're afraid every time you get a nosebleed that the cancer's spreading. You can't tell her how you feel you're letting her down. She still thinks you're the strong one, the daughter who can take anything. Who can cope with anything. You're the doctor; cancer at least is an enemy you know how to fight. She doesn't know..." He leaned in closer now, whispering in her ear. "She doesn't know how scared to death you really are."
Scully took a deep breath and pulled away from his massage. He couldn't have come any closer to the mark unless he'd been living in her own head the last few weeks. How the hell did he know?
"And Mulder," he went on, now leaning against the bathroom wall, "is in denial. You don't talk to him either, because the subject scares him even more than it scares you. He says he's there for you too, but he's not. He can't be because he's too busy wallowing in self-pity; thinking about how if you die he won't have anyone to dump his problems on anymore. You don't even feel you can talk about it with him because the subject upsets him, and God forbid we upset Mulder, right? Poor tortured Mulder. Everyone's out to get him. You are too, by being selfish enough to die and leave him all alone."
"That's not fair," she whispered, but even as the words came out, she knew that at least part of what Krycek said was true. She didn't feel she could talk about the cancer with Mulder, and he certainly was in denial.
"Maybe not," Krycek allowed. "But it is true, and deep down you know that." He waited for her denial, but none came so he continued. "You do need somebody to be there for you through this. To give you a shoulder to cry on if you need it and a sounding board to scream at if you need to. You need someone who's traveled the same road and knows how you feel." He paused, then, "I can do that for you."
She turned, confused. "You can? You've had cancer?"
"No," he sighed, "but I've stared death in the face, and I did it alone. I was so sure, so damn sure I'd die in that silo, and I have to tell you I was never so scared in my life. I thought I wanted to die after those barbarians hacked my arm off..." A slight shiver ran through him and he crossed his arms as if trying to ward off a chill. "They tell me I almost did. And y'know what? No matter how much I wanted to die, when it came right down to it, the idea scared the hell out of me."
He moved forward again, gently stroking her hair. She allowed him to, suddenly mesmerized by the soft, gentle look in his eyes; the kind of look she'd never expected to see from him. "My journeys might not have been the same as yours," he told her, "but I do know how you feel; I do understand. I know you feel more alone now than you ever have, but it doesn't have to be that way." He gently lifted her chin so that she was looking up at him. "I can help you, Dana," he said softly. "Please let me."
A part of her desperately wanted to believe and trust him. That part ached to just lay her head on his strong shoulder and cry as she hadn't been able to thus far; cry out all her loneliness, depression, and fear, and let him comfort her. But the rest of her...
She pulled away from him and turned back to the sink. "The only way you can help me," she said, trying to keep the quaver out of her voice, "is to find a cure for this disease and get out of my life."
He said nothing for what felt like a long time; so long that she thought he'd left. She looked up into the mirror and saw him still standing behind her, eyes fixed on her. When her eyes met his in the mirror, he looked away and shifted his weight, unsure now. And when he spoke, his voice was so quiet she could barely make out his words.
"I can make certain... inquiries..."
Scully whirled around to face him, but his attention was focused somewhere off to her side. "Are you saying you have a cure for this disease?" she asked sharply.
Krycek sighed deeply and met her eyes. "There are some avenues I can explore..."
She threw up her hands. "Of course. You have nothing. How in the world I could ever believe --"
"It's not nothing." He sounded almost defensive now.
"No? It's no sure thing either, is it?"
"Surer than that chemo you're undergoing right now."
"And just what would I have to do for this? Is this where you tell me I have to sleep with --?"
"No." He cut her off quickly. "You wouldn't have to do anything you're not already doing."
"So this is part of the deal."
He shifted uncomfortably. "Not exactly..."
"I find it very difficult to believe that you'd offer it if there wasn't anything in it for you."
"Look, does it really matter?" he asked. "Do you want me to make the arrangements or not?"
Scully leaned back against the sink and weighed her options. Did he really know of a cure? Or was this just another one of his little head games? Did a cure even exist? She'd been told it did not, but then again... Krycek was once in league with the people responsible for her disease. If anyone could get ahold of a highly classified treatment, he was the one. Still... it was still Krycek. The man offering her her life was once sent to her own living room to end it...
She shook her head and turned back to the sink. "No, I don't... I don't believe you; I don't trust you. There's no way you can have a cure."
"Suit yourself." She could almost hear the shrug in his voice. "The offer's always open. All you have to do is ask."
She looked up at him once more. "Why? After all you've done to me and my family, why do you want to help me?"
"I don't think you deserve to die." The words were simple, but his intense green eyes, fixed on hers, suggested to her that there was far more to the answer.
She met that gaze for a long moment, then bent back to the sink, hoping he wouldn't notice the shudder that ran through her. "I'm touched," she said flatly. "Now get out."
He moved toward the bathroom door, but turned back to her. "Think about this, Dana," he said. "They don't have anything to offer you. They just treat you like a cancer patient and wait for you to die. I'm offering you life. And even if you don't take it, for the time you have left, I'll treat you like a woman. A woman with a full, rich life she shouldn't be so hasty to let go of."
"Get out," Scully repeated softly.
To her great surprise, he did. And then she sat down on the edge of the bathtub and cried.
Krycek couldn't help but stare at the large envelope next to Scully's dinner plate. He'd tried not to, but his eyes just kept wandering back there, no matter what he did to try to stop. It had to hold the test results; there was just nothing else that could've been in it. Besides, if it was anything else, Scully would've said something about it already. That envelope held the only remaining stumbling block to starting the deal.
<Quit worrying,> he told himself. <If she found anything, you would've been out the door already. She's not* that* good a poker face... is she?>
Her behavior would've made sense if she hadn't found anything. Clean tests meant she couldn't stall on the deal anymore, and since she seemed to be having trouble warming up to the idea, she'd hold back clean test results as long as she could. And they just had to be clean. He knew there was nothing to find, so he figured it was time to get the ball rolling. He gestured with his fork toward the envelope and asked casually, "Test results?"
Scully met his eyes for a second and answered smoothly, "Yes."
When nothing more was forthcoming, Krycek prompted her again. "Well?"
She let him dangle for another moment before opening the envelope and scanning the sheets inside it. "Well... you are STD-free..."
"Told you." He just couldn't resist saying it.
"...but there is evidence of a mild anemia you might want to keep an eye on."
That was something he hadn't expected to hear. "Anemia?"
"Yes." Scully leaned back and studied him for a moment. "I can guess where you've probably spent the months since we last saw you," she finally said. "I know Russian hospitals aren't the cleanest or best- equipped places on earth, so I suspect that you were probably pretty sick for a good portion of that time. I'm sure your diet wasn't the best, either."
"You're right," he admitted. "I didn't start eating decently till I got here." The only reason he was eating decently was because he finally had the time and tools to cook. If it weren't for the deal, he would have neither.
She looked at him speculatively. "You seem... more or less... okay... about the arm," she said. "I mean, I know it bothers you, but.. well... I know I wouldn't be running around putting myself in harm's way and making deals with people less than two months after losing an arm that way."
<Okay with it? *Okay* with it? You ain't seen nothin' yet, lady. You haven't seen what happens when I try to do something that this alien arm can't do. You don't live with the pain every minute of every day. You haven't seen any of the bad spells. You haven't been around for the nightmares. You haven't seen it when the agony's so bad I'm about thirty seconds away from eating my gun. You've never felt like less of a person because somebody hacked part of you away. Yeah, sure, I'm okay with it. Perfectly o-fucking-kay.> "What was I supposed to do?" he finally said. "It wasn't like I could find it so they could glue it back on, so I didn't have a whole lot of choice but to move on. No sense dwelling on things you can't change, is there? Besides, they gave me the next best thing to replace it."
"That's a very philosophical outlook." She sounded surprised.
<Drop it, Scully. Now.> "Yeah, well, I had enough time to think about it. Even if you're lucky enough to get it in hospitals, Russian TV really sucks."
To his great relief, Scully did drop the subject. She gave him a long look, then moved on. "You really were very lucky to escape there with only mild anemia," she told him. "Your resistance to disease is probably lowered since... that..." She nodded toward his left shoulder. "You could've picked up God knows what over there. This should resolve itself now that you're eating better, but you might want to have a test occasionally and just keep an eye on it."
"Point taken." Krycek put his fork down as a thought struck. "Why do you care?"
"It's a simple question, Dana. The object of the tests was to make sure you wouldn't catch anything because of the deal, right? Well, now you know you don't have to worry. So why do you care about my health beyond that?"
<Gotcha.> Krycek smiled to himself as she took a long drink of mineral water, buying time to gather her thoughts.
She hadn't expected the question, but she had an answer anyway. "Because of the nature of the deal," she told him. "Since you refuse to wear condoms, what affects you affects me."
"I wasn't aware that anemia was transmitted sexually."
"It's not, but your general welfare does affect how this deal plays out. If you get sick, the deal takes longer. And I'm not about to let you die or catch something life-threatening before I get all my answers."
He couldn't help but smile. That was Scully, all right. Once she committed to something, she was in it 100%. It was only a matter of time until she kicked off the deal for real. Probably not much time, he thought. "What touching sentiments, Dana," he said. "You should write for Hallmark."
She shot him a nasty look and bent back to her plate.
"So..." Krycek continued, "I guess this clears the way for the deal to get started, right?"
"Not exactly," she said softly.
Oh, this was going to be good. Creative Stalling 101. "Now what? We've already established that you're not going to catch some hideous disease just because we're having sex. What else could possibly be standing in the way?" Besides the fact that she hated his guts and would rather kill him, of course.
"I don't..." Scully cleared her throat and took another sip of water. "I won't feel comfortable doing this unless we clear up a few things first."
Like she'd ever feel comfortable with the deal. It didn't matter to him if she was or not, just so long as she held up her end. He arched an eyebrow and waited.
"First... can you just confirm where you've been since the last time we saw you?"
<Didn't we just go through this? Let the stalling begin.> "You know most of that already. I was in various hospitals in Russia for most of that time. Sick as a dog for a while -- nasty infection from..." He couldn't finish the thought, but she nodded in understanding. "All through that there were surgeries and fittings for this thing." He raised his left hand slightly, and was surprised by a sudden twinge of pain, sharper and deeper than the ever-present ache, in the shoulder. Trying to ignore that, he went on. "After that, I just worked on staying alive until I could figure out what I wanted to do."
"So coming here and blackmailing me was what you decided you wanted to do?" Scully's voice dripped with sarcasm.
"No, coming here and making a deal with you falls under the heading of how to accomplish what I want to do."
"So what is it you want to accomplish?"
Krycek shook his head. "Sorry, that's classified. For now."
Scully sighed heavily. "I was going to ask for the unvarnished truth tonight, but I forgot that you wouldn't know the truth if it reared up and bit you."
How Mulderesque of her. "We all have our own truths, Dana. You're not ready to hear or deal with a lot of mine, so for the time being, they're classified. It's really for your own protection. But I will tell you that I won't lie to you tonight."
She sighed again. "Sure, fine, whatever. So tell me about my sister."
"I didn't kill her."
"But you were there. You saw what happened, how it happened." She lowered her eyes and her voice. "Please tell me."
If it was truth she wanted, truth she'd get. Not necessarily the unvarnished version, but some semblance of it. "Cardinal and I were sent to kill you," he said, noting the slight shudder that ran through her at his words. "When the door opened, I knew it wasn't you -- she was too tall, her hair too long. But... and this didn't occur to me until later... Cardinal never saw you in person like I did. He didn't know she wasn't you, so he just shot. We high-tailed it out of here as soon as we both realized it was the wrong person. Naturally, Cardinal blamed me for his stupid mistake, which was why the Morley Man tried to barbecue me in my car a few days later."
Scully took a deep breath. "You said you should've fired that night. What did you mean by that? And... would you have? If it were me?"
Maybe there was something to this truth stuff after all. The truth would certainly shake her up. "If I was going to shoot anybody that night, it was more likely to be Cardinal than you."
She was surprised, but tried not to show it. "Why?"
Krycek shrugged. "Even then, I didn't think you deserved to die. I always thought their plan for you was too extreme but there was no way I could stop it, so when a situation arose that I did have control over, I evened the score a little. Or would've, if Cardinal hadn't been such an idiot."
She started to say something, then stopped. She obviously didn't believe him. No surprise, really; neither she nor her partner had believed a word he'd said for years. Would she consider this a deal- breaker?
"When they took me," she finally said, "you helped. You kept Mulder away --"
"I kept him from getting killed," Krycek interrupted. "What do you think would've happened if he made it to the top of that mountain? Like as not, they would've killed both of you. I probably saved your life too. As you saved mine when you shot Mulder."
"I didn't do that for you."
"But you did it anyway. We've both done things we're not very proud of in the name of higher causes, haven't we?"
Scully sipped her water again, letting his question go unanswered. He figured that if she didn't even want to know what his higher causes were, she was very flustered indeed. He'd expected this conversation to take place eventually, but he'd thought she would've been a little more prepared for it.
Maybe it was the truth thing that was throwing her. She was probably prepared for the lies; probably thought she already knew what the truth was. Well, whether she believed him or not, there was still a deal to get started. How much longer was she going to take with this?
After a moment she took a deep breath and raised her eyes to his. "When they took me," she said softly, "what did they do to me?"
This was the potential deal-breaker. Complete truth? Half-truth? No matter; whatever he said was likely to piss her off. "The full details are deal-related," he said, "but I can tell you that they wanted you to contribute to their hybrid program. Don't bother asking; I can't tell you any more than that right now."
"Dammit, Krycek --"
"Alex," he said quietly. He closed his eyes and waited for her to blow up.
But she didn't. She took a few moments, probably processing what she'd heard and weighing the deal again. He hadn't told her she could back out now that she'd agreed twice, but that didn't mean she wouldn't try. If any issue was likely to make her do it, it was this one. But instead of throwing him out, she sighed deeply and moved on.
"Why this deal?" she asked. "You could've asked for anything in exchange for all that information. Why sex? And why me?"
Krycek quietly let out the breath he hadn't even been aware of holding. No deal-breakers yet, and the really tough stuff was done with. But this question was another tricky one. There were several answers he could give, from the very simple to the hideously complex. She probably expected one of the complex ones, but she wouldn't understand them. Not yet, maybe not ever. One of them might even be a deal-breaker. Maybe all but the simplest would. Best to go with the easy answer. After that first night, it wasn't something she could argue, either. "Simple, Dana," he said. "Simply obvious. I want you. Have since the first time you blew me off."
Again she started to say something, but thought better of it. "You... you... had to blackmail me for *that*?"
He shrugged. "What was I supposed to do, call you and ask you out? You would've laughed in my face... if you didn't arrest me on the spot."
"*That* was your 'classified' reason? You're blackmailing me *just* because you want to sleep with me?"
Okay, maybe the easy answer was a deal-breaker, too. "Y'know, a lot of women would be flattered --"
"*Flattered*? You sick, twisted --"
"It's not all about sex, Dana," Krycek broke in. "Do you really think I'm crazy enough to stick my neck out just for sex?"
Scully glared at him. "I think you're crazy enough to do just about anything."
He sighed. "Okay, so I've done reckless things in the past, but even I'm not that reckless."
"So your classified reason is...?"
She gave a frustrated sigh. "Of all the --"
"Look, you wanted a reason; I gave you a reason, and I didn't lie." Krycek was starting to get annoyed with the discussion, too. No wonder Mulder ditched her so often, if he had to listen to stuff like this all the time. "This deal isn't entirely about sex. Granted, sex is a large part of it, but it's not the only part. And it is just sex. There's nothing emotional or psychological about it; it's purely physical. As I'm sure it was for you two nights ago."
Her cheeks flushed, but her eyes remained locked on his. "And that's supposed to make me feel better about this?"
He shrugged. "Hey, at least now you know *somebody* wants you. It's not like you're hearing that from anybody else these days, is it?"
Now she bowed her head as her cheeks reddened more.
Krycek smiled to himself. Dana Scully might be an annoying bitch on occasion, but she was also a hell of a lot fun to play with, especially when she knew she was being manipulated. This deal might be even more fun than playing with Mulder's head was. Sure, there were potential pitfalls, starting with what he'd just told her. That was no lie; he did want her. Very much. Just saying the words, acknowledging it, caused a pleasant stirring in his groin he very much wanted to act on. But he had to exercise control and make sure that the personal aspect never overshadowed the larger goals. He'd let the personal come to the forefront the previous night, when he had let slip that he knew of a cure for her cancer. He hadn't meant to tell her that for a while; it was the mindfuck of last resort, so to speak. But she'd looked so helpless and lost...
He banished the thought from his mind. Telling her about the cure probably wasn't all that big a mistake. For one thing, she didn't believe him. Even if she did, it was probably in his best interest anyway, as well as hers. He couldn't very well play with her if she was dead, could he? But she wasn't going to die. When the situation became dire enough, she'd take that leap of faith and ask. He was sure of that. But for now, there was a deal to get off the ground. "Why do you have such a hard time believing it when a guy says he wants you?" he asked. "Or is it just because it's me?"
Scully looked up, her blue eyes cold as ice. "What do you think?"
"It doesn't make it any easier to start the deal?"
"You said the timing was up to me. I'm not ready."
"Clock's ticking, Dana."
"Mulder's father?" she shot back.
"Didn't kill him. Cardinal did."
"Sure, easy to blame a dead man, isn't it?"
"Truth, Dana. As is everything I said tonight. Have we cleared up enough things to make you comfortable yet?"
She sighed. "Everything else I was going to ask, you'll tell me is deal-related, so yes, I suppose we have cleared up what we can."
"Then there's nothing standing in the way of the deal, is there?" Krycek asked softly. She might not believe him, but she appeared to accept what he'd said. She couldn't stall much longer.
"I... I still need time. This isn't easy for me..."
He sat back. "You have time. But don't forget what I said about keeping me waiting too long."
Scully sighed. "And how long is too long?"
He shrugged. "Guess we'll have to find out, won't we?"
"Of course," she sneered. "Exactly the kind of answer I'd expect from a man who has to blackmail women to get them into bed with him."
Krycek had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. He'd been wondering when she'd get around to throwing that back in his face. "I don't *have* to blackmail anybody, Dana," he said calmly. "I could walk out that door right now and be in somebody else's bed within a half hour -- without paying for it -- if I wanted to, but I don't. This is a choice. I chose you. You might want to think about that and take what pleasure you can from the deal, because you're only hurting yourself if you don't. Living in denial and refusing to enjoy it isn't going to hurt me, y'know. This can be a win-win situation... if you let it."
Angry blue eyes met his for a long moment, then she rose from her chair. "Fine," she said, flinging her napkin onto the table. "Just so you know, I'll be taking a long, hot bath now. Leave me alone."
"Of course." Krycek listened to her stalk off toward the bedroom, then called out. "Oh, Dana?"
Muffled words, then footsteps returning to the kitchen. "What?"
"If you don't want to help with the dishes, that's fine, but you could at least clean off your plate and put it in the sink."
The only answer he got was the sound of retreating footsteps and the slam of the bedroom door.
Krycek had to smile as he cleaned up the dishes. Things had gone better than he'd thought they would. Scully was committed to the deal. He'd told her the truth, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, about all those old issues, and she'd accepted it. Maybe she didn't believe it, but she'd accepted it. Moving to the deal proper was only a matter of time now.
Yes, just a matter of time.
The next few days dragged on endlessly for Scully. She didn't want to go to work and face Mulder and his little comments. She couldn't stay home and face Krycek, with the still-unconsummated deal hanging between them. And she couldn't stop thinking about consummating it.
Knowing that something had to give somewhere, she picked what appeared to be the lesser of two evils and stopped reacting to Mulder's teasing. Two days after receiving the test results, she failed to deny, when Mulder mentioned it, that she had a new boyfriend. She knew that to him, lack of denial was as good as confirmation, but at least it gave him something to think about, and the teasing stopped. Unfortunately, the serious questions started. Although she'd had some time to come up with a plausible story, she maintained that her private life was still strictly private. She managed to get away with not telling Mulder too much, but wondered how long that would last.
The deal problem wasn't nearly as easily taken care of. It was always on her mind, always at the edge of her thoughts, no matter what else she was doing. The whole idea of it repulsed her, but memories of that first night kept coming back, making part of her want to start the deal. She would get to the point where she almost thought she was ready to proposition her houseguest, but then she'd realize what she was about to do and retreat again. She wanted it, but she couldn't do it.
Krycek didn't make things any easier. Everything he said had a sexual innuendo buried in it somewhere; every look he sent in her direction was predatory. Scully wasn't sure if this were actually true or only a product of her imagination thanks to endless thoughts of the deal, but he did seem to be waiting. Expecting something. She lived in fear of him deciding that her time was up, as she had no idea what he would do, but he never made direct reference to the deal. Never mentioned time passing. He didn't need to. She was doing well enough reminding herself.
So he waited, but with growing impatience. Awakened in the middle of the night one night, she found the other half of the bed empty and heard him pacing around the living room in the dark, prowling with the restless energy of a caged animal. After a while she heard him leave the apartment. She had no idea where he went or what he did, but he was back in her bed, sleeping deeply as he always did, when the alarm woke her the next morning. Neither ever spoke of the episode, but Scully had the feeling that her time was running out.
Even the sense of impending doom couldn't make her say the words Krycek wanted to hear. She eventually came to the conclusion that if the deal were to get off the ground, it would have to be under pretty drastic circumstances.
Six days after the test results came back, drastic circumstances presented themselves.
Scully came home that night to find the apartment empty. A quick search revealed dinner being kept warm for her and a brief note from Krycek, saying that he had things to take care of and he'd be back later that night. The note seemed a little odd after his disappearing act a few nights before, but at least she knew she had a few hours' respite from his constant presence. So she ate her dinner in peace, cleaned up, then moved into the living room, intending to relax with a movie before bed.
She browsed through all her tapes and was about to pop an old favorite into the VCR when she noticed an unmarked tape sitting next to the television. She examined it, noting that it probably wasn't one of hers since she labeled everything she taped, and wondered where it had come from. Was it blank? Something Krycek had been watching? That idea was interesting. She had no idea what he did all day; for all she knew, he spent hours watching TV... or videos. What kind of things did he watch?
Thoroughly intrigued now, Scully slipped the unmarked tape into the VCR and pressed play. The image that came up was of a bedroom, where a partially-dressed couple, a copper-haired woman and a dark- haired man, lay on the bed, kissing. She watched with detachment as the man grasped his lover's hand and sucked on her fingers. So Krycek had a porn habit too, she thought, though his tastes appeared significantly less hard- core than Mulder's. She was about to turn it off when something caught her eye.
It was the quilt that the video woman had just kicked off the bottom of the bed. It looked just like the one on her bed...
The realization hit and Scully gasped in horror. That *was* the quilt at the bottom of her bed. It was her bedroom, and the couple was herself and Krycek. "Oh my God," she whispered, almost unable to process what she was seeing. "He... he videotaped himself raping me..."
Shame flooded through her as she watched the video woman hungrily kissing her partner. That wasn't really her, was it? It couldn't be. She hadn't done that. Surely she'd fought harder...
Scully stared at the TV screen, unable to wrench her eyes away from the flickering images. The shock, horror, anger and shame she had initially felt slowly melted away, and she was left with disbelief. Was that writhing redhead really her? Was this really the way it had happened?
The disbelief slowly faded too, as she watched the tender, almost reverent way the woman's partner removed her clothes. She felt nothing now, nothing at all. Her mind had gone completely numb, and she felt almost detached as she watched the video woman's dark- haired partner slide her bra off. He softly, gently cupped one breast, but Scully wasn't watching him anymore. She focused on the woman's face... and the obvious enjoyment written there. The connection became clear to her now. She felt the hand cupping her breast even as the woman on the video did. The woman on her TV screen was undeniably her. And, as was clearly evident from the tape, she had undeniably enjoyed every moment of this encounter.
She watched as Video Alex teased Video Dana's nipples with his tongue, and a small moan escaped her lips, matching that of her celluloid counterpart. She was instantly transported back to that night, and she vividly felt again his mouth on her breasts, kissing, licking, sucking. The all-too-familiar warm heaviness settled over her lower body at the memory, and she became aware that her hand, seemingly of its own accord, softly brushed one of her still-clothed breasts. Closing her eyes, she knew what came next without having to see it. The memory of his teeth raking lightly across her right nipple made her gasp softly, right along with the woman in the video. Her hand rubbed a bit more insistently, and she felt the nipple stiffen even through the cloth. A jolt ran through her and she moaned quietly as she touched it again, then moved to the other breast, feeling not her own hand, but her lover's lips and tongue.
Breathing a bit faster, she opened her eyes to see Video Alex focus his attention further south on Video Dana's body. She watched his fingers teasingly explore the soft skin of Video Dana's inner thighs; move slowly, agonizingly all around her most sensitive spot without touching it, and she felt her own lover's fingers tracing the same path on her body. Video Dana let out a long moan that softened into a sigh as Video Alex finally flicked a finger across her clitoris. She cried out softly as he slid that same finger inside her, and Scully moaned with her, feeling the ache between her own legs intensify tenfold as the memory of that moment washed over her.
Acting again of its own accord, her hand moved from her breasts further down her body. The now highly sensitive muscles of her abdomen recoiled as she lightly brushed her belly. Her breathing grew faster still as her hand completed its journey, now stroking her most sensitive area through her clothes.
Her hand's movements unconsciously intensified as she stared at the screen with rapt attention, where Video Alex had begun to repeat his hand's exploration with his tongue. The memory of that moment hit her with the force of a freight train, and she stroked herself faster still, further stoking the fire of her arousal.
She was incapable now of conscious thought, but when her subconscious floated a suggestion (<hot... too much clothing... in the way... get rid of it>), she acted on it. Before she knew what she was doing, she found herself peeling off her leggings and panties, one part of her mind horrified at what she was doing even as her body demanded she do it. She was able to touch herself properly now, able to replicate to the best of her limited ability what she saw in her mind's eye and on the TV screen.
She was panting now as her hand did its work. She was wet, so wet, so ready... and quickly getting desperate. She wanted, no, needed to feel something inside her. The memory of her partner's wonderfully thick organ buried deep inside her body only made her need worse. Her hand was a pathetically inadequate substitute, but that didn't stop her. She groaned aloud as she stroked harder, aching for release.
She opened her eyes again and stared, transfixed, at the look of absolute, utter abandon on her video counterpart's face. She felt that way now, completely stripped of her inhibitions, her entire world reduced to the incredible sensations and desperate need centered in a few square inches of her body.
Until she heard the door open and Krycek call out softly, "Dana?"
Scully froze in horror, mortified that he would find her like this. She was unable to move as he slowly made his way around to the front of the sofa, and only recovered and pulled the hem of her large sweatshirt down to cover herself once he was standing in front of her. She could only gape at him, unable to speak and dreading anything he might say.
Krycek looked her over for a long moment, glanced at the TV long enough to recognize what she was watching, then turned his attention to her again. His eyes widened a bit at the sight before him and an unreadable half-smile played on his lips. "Getting squeamish on me all of a sudden, G-Woman?" he asked, his voice low and husky.
Scully couldn't speak, couldn't think, couldn't do anything but stare at him. Slowly, very slowly, it started to occur to her that maybe this wasn't such a horrible development after all. Wasn't this what her fantasy was all about? Why should she be content with memories and her own hand when what she really wanted was right in front of her?
She swallowed hard and slowed her breathing as she dug into the sofa cushions to where she'd dropped the remote. It took her several attempts, but she was finally able to get words out. "Guess I don't need this anymore," she said, and shut off the tape and the TV.
Krycek kicked his boots off. "Oh?"
She squirmed a little, the need for release growing again. He had to know what she was getting at... "Alex..."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "What?"
He was looking her up and down again, and the longer he looked at her like that, the more desperately she needed him to finish what she'd started. "You want something, Dana?"
How much more obvious did she have to be? "Alex, please!" She was almost sobbing now, writhing on the sofa, the need to feel him inside her more desperate now than ever.
"Please what? Is there something you need? Glass of water, maybe... a cold shower?"
He started to move around the sofa, toward the kitchen, and Scully let go of her shirt hem to reach out and grab his arm, dragging him back. She was breathing too fast, and speech had left her again. She could only squirm and whimper, begging him with her eyes and her body to do what she needed him to do.
Krycek allowed himself to be dragged back, and now knelt in front of the sofa. "What do you need me for, Dana? You were doing just fine without me." He took her hand, still fragrant from her own juices, and slowly licked her palm. He gently sucked one finger, then nibbled lightly at her palm, eliciting a soft gasp from her. Then, to her slowly dawning horror, he guided that same hand right back to where she'd had it before he came in. "I believe you were about... there."
She sobbed in desperation. She needed so much more than this, but at least it was contact. Her fingers automatically began to move again, but with his hand resting on top of hers, she couldn't achieve the same rhythm she'd used before. He didn't guide her, but he didn't allow her full freedom, either.
She was just finding a way to work within the limitations he imposed when he leaned over her and plundered her mouth with ferocious kisses. She responded eagerly, hungrily, pulling him closer with her free hand. If she couldn't have the part of him that she really wanted inside her, she would readily accept his tongue instead.
She was almost completely out of breath when he finally broke the kiss, letting his lips trail down her throat instead. She was panting hard now, but her breath caught for a moment when he kissed the hollow of her throat. The pressure between her legs had grown almost unbearable now, and she tried to stroke herself harder, to achieve some sort of relief, but his hand on top of hers stopped her. She groaned now with each breath, until he stopped the sounds with more kisses.
"Better, Dana, much better," he purred in her ear. "Time to get rid of this, though, isn't it?" His hand finally releasing hers, he pulled at her shirt, and in a moment that and her bra were in a pile on the floor. Taking advantage of the regained use of both her hands, she tugged at his shirt, and soon it had joined her clothing on the floor. She tried to go further, but he took her hand again and guided it back between her legs, still resting his own on top of it.
His tongue trailed down to her breasts now, where he took one rock- hard nipple into his mouth, first circling it with his tongue, then sucking as hard as he could. She cried out as the incredible sensation shot right to her groin, bringing her almost to the brink of orgasm. She tried to rub herself harder, but he stopped her, gently guiding her hand to a less sensitive spot. She wailed in frustration as the realization hit that he wasn't going to let her come until he was good and ready.
He turned his attention to her other breast now, licking and sucking more gently. He gradually allowed her to move her fingers closer to where she wanted them, but wouldn't allow her the freedom she'd had before. She gave up at that point, knowing he was calling the shots now. She lay back and let him have his way, praying that he'd stop torturing her and just finish it.
The ache between her legs had just ratcheted up another notch, beyond unbearable now, and she'd just realized that he was no longer sucking her nipple, when his mouth came back to hers. His deep, hungry kisses left her breathless, and she responded eagerly. His lips moved to her ear, where he nibbled lightly before whispering, "Let's see what's going on down here..." And then he moved her hand out of the way and his head was between her legs.
She cried out at the first touch of his tongue on her clitoris. He licked first, then gently sucked, eliciting another cry and bringing her to the verge of orgasm again. Sensing this, he stopped, trailing his tongue along her inner thigh instead. He let her cool down a bit before returning his attention to her most sensitive spot, sucking even more gently. She moaned loudly and arched up to meet his mouth, inviting, begging him to let her come. She could think of nothing anymore but the sensations coursing through her body. How she'd never been more aroused in her life, how desperately she wanted him inside her, how much she needed to climax. Every nerve ending in her body tingled and she was sure she'd die if she didn't get some release.
He brought her right to the edge of orgasm twice more, but pulled back each time before she could come. She absolutely couldn't stand it anymore, and after the third time reached out to grab him, get his attention somehow. What her hand found was the bulge in his jeans. He was rock-hard, his stiff organ straining against the cloth. She felt a shiver run through his body at her touch, but she had his attention. She sought the zipper pull, tried to tug it down, but he captured her hand before she could.
Still holding her hand, he kissed her again, letting her taste herself on him. "Say it," he breathed.
She opened her eyes and found that he was staring intently at her, face flushed, breathing hard, eyes dark with desire. "Say it, Dana. Tell me what you want."
What the hell did he *think* she wanted? "Fuck me," she growled. "Fuck me NOW!"
That brought a gleam to his eyes. "My pleasure," he said, and a moment later the rest of his clothes were on the floor as he joined her on the sofa.
Without preamble, he drove into her in a single violent stroke. She screamed as her orgasm ripped through her, the pain of his forceful entry mixed with the utter ecstasy of finally being completely, wonderfully filled. He didn't move at first, waiting as her screams faded to soft whimpers. She squirmed a bit, needed to feel him moving inside her. After a moment he did, setting a hard, fast rhythm. She moved with him, matching every thrust, feeling another climax building almost immediately. He slipped his hand between their bodies and began to stroke her clitoris in time with his thrusts. In just a few minutes that brought her over the edge again, and with a loud cry she came harder than she ever had in her life. The orgasm seemed to go on and on, and didn't fade until his clitoral massage stopped. A moment later he gave one last savage thrust and cried out as he came hard, spilling his warm juices deep inside her.
After a long moment he pulled out and collapsed, panting, on top of her. "Oh... my... God," he breathed, and when she could speak again, the very same words escaped her lips.
"My God," she repeated, still breathing hard. "I never --"
He cut off her words with a kiss. "Don't," he whispered, raining kisses on her face, her ear, her throat. "Just enjoy."
"Mmm," she purred, and brought his mouth to hers again for a deep kiss.
When she released him he pulled back a little, studying her face. "Y'know, Dana," he said, stroking her hair, "your vocabulary really deteriorates when you're horny."
She smacked his arm. "Bastard! If you didn't torture me --"
Again he stopped her words with a kiss. "Tell me it wasn't worth it."
"Oh, it was worth it," she said. "But I'm not finished yet."
That got his attention. "No?"
Oh, no, she wasn't finished yet. He couldn't arouse her that much and expect her to get it all out of her system with just one good fuck, could he? Coming down now off the high of her second orgasm, she could feel the ache again, the pressure building between her legs again, the need to feel him inside her growing again. "No," she repeated, and claimed his mouth in a savage kiss. "Bedroom," she breathed. "Now."
"Whoa, there, Dana, slow down," he said, pulling away from her. "I don't run on batteries, y'know. I need a couple minutes to recharge..."
She moved a bit, rubbing her body against his, and smiled when she heard his sharp intake of breath at the first stirrings of life in his penis. "Bedroom," she repeated. "Now."
Scully walked into the empty basement office in an unusually good mood the next morning, and took a moment to reflect on that mood as she sipped her coffee. Its source was no surprise -- the previous night had been incredible; unlike anything she'd ever experienced. She'd surprised herself with some of her actions, and she thought she'd surprised Krycek too. He was apparently as unprepared as she was for the intensity of what had happened; a realization that amused her. So the man thought he was so in control, did he? She wondered what it would take to make him really lose control...
She absently stuck her hand into her bag, fishing for a tissue, and found something else. She drew out an unfamiliar computer disk and stared at it. Where had that come from? Had Mulder stuck it in her bag yesterday and she'd missed it? Then it hit her. Mulder hadn't put it there; Krycek had.
An overwhelming sense of shame came over her as she slid the disk into her computer. <I had sex with someone who should be a mortal enemy to get this, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Dana Scully, prostitute. Ahab would be so ashamed...>
Her good mood completely destroyed, she forced those thoughts from her mind and, with trembling hand, opened the file on the disk. In a moment she found herself looking at lists of names, dates, locations. What were these from? Nothing she saw looked at all familiar to her. The dates were scattered, ranging from the late '40's up through the previous year. No familiar names. The locations appeared to be clinics of some sort. This was undoubtedly related to one of the Consortium's projects, but which one?
Then she saw the title -- Merchandise.
So this was part of the file from the DAT. She scrolled through the file, looking for her name, for Duane Barry's, but didn't find either. None of the names that she knew of the Allentown women were there, either. So what was all this?
"You're awfully early today, Scully."
Mulder's voice made her jump. She quickly closed the file, then chastised herself for doing so. She was supposed to pass this along to Mulder, wasn't she? So why was she trying to hide it from him? "Morning, Mulder. Just checking up on something." She was surprised to find that her voice sounded almost normal.
Her partner dropped into his desk chair. "Anything interesting?"
"Um... I'll let you know." She slid the disk out of her computer and considered it. How to present this? How much should she tell him? If he knew what she was doing, he'd be furious with her; of that she was sure. He'd tell her to stop, make her stop, and despite how tawdry it made her feel, she wasn't sure she wanted to. No, she knew she didn't want to; knew she couldn't. Krycek had tapped into a thus- far unknown side of her; a creature of impulse, need, and desire rather than thought, reason, and responsibility. Now that it was revealed, this side of her craved attention; this... whatever it was... with Krycek fulfilled that need. As cheap as it made her feel, she needed this deal, as much or even more for the sex than for the information. How the hell was she supposed to tell Mulder that?
<Don't,> that little rebellious part of her mind told her. <Just tell him you have an informant. He doesn't need to know who it is or what you're doing, does he? It's just... easier that way.>
Yes, it was easier. But Mulder being Mulder, he'd ask questions. Uncomfortable questions. And if she didn't want him to blow up about this, she'd have to lie. Though she'd committed a few sins of omission, she'd never out and out lied to him before. And now she'd have to. She could no longer pretend that the first night was against her will; not after that video. And now she'd gone further and consented; no, initiated. Mulder would never in a million years understand that. Not with Krycek.
But... what if he did? What if she told him all about this deal and he told her to do whatever she had to to get the information? Sure, she was willing (reluctantly) to prostitute herself for the sake of the case, but... could she still respect and work closely with a partner who told her to do that? How could they maintain the close friendship they shared if he did that? And... how could she ever look him in the eye again? Or he her?
Still, she needed some sort of vote of confidence that what she was doing was right. Or, if not right, at least it was the best thing. Best for the case, that was. She wasn't sure it was best for her on a personal level either, but it sure felt damn good...
"I'll give you a hint. 42." Mulder's voice cut through her thoughts.
She looked up, surprised. "What?"
"The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. It's 42."
"You looked like you expected that disk to... never mind." Mulder gave up when he realized that she had no idea what he was talking about. "Something wrong, Scully?"
Scully put the disk down and fixed her attention on her partner. "Mulder, would you ever do anything you found morally repugnant in pursuit of the truth you're looking for?"
He arched an eyebrow at her. "What?"
She had his full attention now, and pressed on. "How far would you go for the answers you want? Would you hurt someone you loved? Would you sleep with someone you hated? Would you trust someone who's done nothing but lie to you?"
Mulder eyed her speculatively. "What are you up to, Scully?"
"Hypothetically speaking, of course," she added quickly. "How far would you be willing to go?"
"Hypothetically speaking..." He studied her face for a moment, and she got the uncomfortable feeling that he was trying to read her mind. "... I'd do whatever I had to. Wouldn't you?"
"Even to the lengths I mentioned?"
"If I knew what I was getting in return would answer all the questions, I'd do anything. I've already done more than I ever thought I would... might as well go the rest of the way." Mulder's answer was immediate, which made her wonder if any thought had gone into it at all. Or... maybe too much thought had...
"Anything?" she asked. "You'd even kill?"
This time his answer was slower in coming, and he wouldn't meet her eyes. "Under... certain circumstances... yeah, I probably would," he said softly.
Another long pause. "If I were pushed hard enough... definitely."
Well, at least that was an honest answer. Frightening, but honest. She wasn't sure exactly what it would take to push him to that, and she didn't really want to find out. "And how far would you let me go?" she asked.
Mulder looked up. "What?"
"Say I was willing to do absolutely anything to get to the truth. Would you let me?"
His eyes narrowed. "Define 'anything'."
"Anything," Scully repeated. "Would you let me do anything and everything that you'd do?"
Mulder sat up straighter. "Scully, what the hell are you getting at?"
"Maybe an example would help." She thought a moment. "What would you do if I told you I was sleeping with the cigarette man because he told me he'd cure my cancer?"
The emotions that played across Mulder's face in the next few moments scared her deeply. The mixture of anger, revulsion and deep hatred that she saw in his eyes told her that she couldn't possibly tell him what she was doing with Krycek. If the very thought of something approximating her deal with him did this to Mulder, how could he ever handle the reality? She suspected that with that announcement, she just might find out what it would take to push Mulder to kill. "Mulder?"
He took several deep breaths to calm himself. "I'd never let it get that far," he finally said.
"Too late; the deal's made. I'm sleeping with him... hypothetically speaking, of course. He's also told me he'll tell me all his secrets and answer all our questions. I'm only telling you so you can tell me what questions you want answered. Are you going to let me continue?"
"And you believe him?"
"Yes, I do."
Again he studied her for a moment before replying. "This isn't a one- shot deal?"
"No, it's continuing. For as long as he says. Am I doing the right thing?"
"The right thing would be to kill that son of a --"
"Mulder, it's my life," Scully said quietly. "He's offering to cure my cancer. Can you in good conscience tell me to refuse that cure?"
"What the hell do you want me to say?" he snapped. "If I tell you to stop, I'm condemning you to death. If I don't, I don't respect you enough to keep you from prostituting yourself. So you tell me - what is the right thing here?"
She should've known that Mulder would realize what she was getting at. He was unwilling to make the hard decision, but he'd certainly helped her make hers. Her deal with Krycek stayed between herself and Krycek. "The right thing?" she repeated. "Maybe the right thing would be... to let me do what I think is best, and to support whatever decision I made. Could you do that?"
"If you're sleeping with Cancerman, I don't want to know about it," he said flatly.
Even better. He wouldn't want to know that she was sleeping with Krycek, either. "Fine. I'll keep that in mind."
"How could you even *think* about something like that?" he asked, still incredulous.
"We all have our price," she told him. "I know mine. I was just wondering about yours."
Mulder shifted position a bit. "Scully, what prompted this? He didn't contact you, did he?"
"No, no, Mulder, nothing like that," she told him, heaving an inward sigh of relief. "But I do seem to have acquired... an informant."
He stared at her as if he hadn't heard her. "A what?"
"Informant." She picked up the disk and waggled it a bit. "You do remember informants, don't you?"
Mulder shifted his gaze to the disk in her hand. "So, are you sleeping with this guy?"
Scully silently counted to three. "No." <Bald-faced lie number one,> she thought.
"He just gave you that disk? For what reason?"
"He didn't just give it to me. We have... a deal."
Mulder's eyes narrowed. "What kind of deal? Why'd he come to you instead of me?"
She took a deep breath. "He came to me because you can't offer him what he wants. Even if you could, you wouldn't make this deal." True enough, she supposed.
"You are sleeping with him, aren't you?"
"No." <That's two now...>
"So what does he want?"
How to explain this without giving the whole thing away? "Well... there's something I can do for him that I thought... was probably worth the information he's offering. In truth, both what I'm doing and what he's doing will probably benefit both of us in the long run..."
"What kind of information is he offering?" Mulder asked.
Scully tossed the disk to him. "Information I think you've been looking for."
"How will giving it to you benefit him?" Mulder slid the disk into his computer and clicked the file open.
"If exposed, the truth you seek will benefit millions, won't it?"
"So why can't he just expose it himself?"
"He's not in a position to do so. That's where you come in."
"Me?" Mulder snorted. "Did you look at this file, Scully? There's nothing here I can use!"
"Granted, that's only a part of the whole file -- a small part. But doesn't it offer at least a place to start?" She found herself intently studying her desk blotter, unable to look her partner in the eye.
She could feel Mulder's gaze boring into her skull. "You trust this guy, Scully?"
She lifted her eyes to meet his. "No, not entirely," she sighed. "But I do think he's sincere about this, and in any case, I reserved the right not to arrange the second part of the bargain until we see what kind of results we get with the information he gives us."
He raised an eyebrow. "You're just full of surprises this morning, aren't you? What's this second part?"
Scully took a deep breath. "There's something he needs, that he didn't ask for," she said, "that I'm probably in a position to get for him. Assuming what he gives us is worth the effort, that is." <He said immunity wouldn't help him, but he needs it, whether he thinks so or not...>
"You're arranging something he didn't ask for *and* doing whatever he did, and all you get is... this?" Mulder gestured toward his computer screen. "Doesn't seem like a fair trade to me, Scully."
"I'm sure it's... as fair as possible. That's not all there is; more will be
coming. Also, I'm not arranging the second part yet, and I suspect he's holding something back too." Krycek's words came back to her: <The offer's always open. All you have to do is ask...> She shook the thought out of her head. He couldn't really have a cure, could he?
"So what *do* you have to do in this deal?" Mulder's question cut through her thoughts.
She looked up at him. "I'm not doing anything that'll hurt me or anyone else," she told him. "Or anything that I haven't done before. It was... difficult at first, but all things considered, it's a trade-off that... has its good points..." <That was so stupid. How can he not figure it out from that?>
"Translation: don't go there," Mulder cut in. "Are you sure this doesn't have anything to do with that hypothetical scenario you laid out before?"
She favored him with a warm smile. "Not a thing." <And that was only half a lie...>
"And nothing to do with that new boyfriend of yours?"
"Mulder, how could it possibly have anything to do with my boyfriend?" She moved to the side of his desk and fixed her eyes on his. "He and my informant are two totally different people; not connected to each other in any way, shape or form." <Up to three and a half now..>
Mulder stared at her for a full minute longer, then turned back to the computer screen with a "Hmph." He waved his hand at it. "So, what do you make of this, Agent Scully?"
"Well..." She bent down with an inward sigh of relief and studied the screen. "See that title there? Looks familiar, doesn't it? Maybe we can start by checking out some of these clinics..."
Krycek came out of the kitchen to join Scully by the desk. "Let's see..." he mused. "A box... wrapping paper... bow... I don't know, Sherlock, but I think they call that a gift."
Scully sighed heavily. The day that man gave a straight answer about anything would be the day the sky fell in. At least they'd managed to make it through dinner in a somewhat civil manner this time before the head games started. He hadn't mentioned the previous night, or even asked her what happened with the disk. Just when she thought she was actually going to make it through the evening without having to face what had happened between them, she saw the package on the desk. "What's it doing here?"
"Right now, not much of anything. It's just kind of sitting there," Krycek said. "But I think I saw it mosey into the kitchen for a glass of water earlier this afternoon."
She turned and glared at him, but he just shrugged. "Look, I saw it, thought you might like it, so there it is. Does everybody who gives you a gift get the third degree?"
"People who have no business giving me gifts do."
He draped an arm around her shoulders, his touch sending a warm rush through her. Trying to keep her focus on the package, she immediately pushed him away. "After last night, you still think I have no business giving you gifts?"
She closed her eyes and fought back the memories from the previous night. <Not again, she vowed. Next time I'll have more self-control.> "None. This is a business arrangement, remember? No gifts. Nothing personal."
Krycek shrugged again and sat down on the sofa. "So it's a business gift. Those do exist, y'know."
Scully approached the innocent-looking package, afraid to touch it. "Most business partners send each other fruit baskets."
"How do you know there isn't something just as boring in there?"
She glared at him again. "Because it came from you."
He chuckled. "So glad to know you don't find me boring. So go ahead; open it."
The more he pushed it at her, the surer she was that she didn't want to know what was in it. "No."
"I won't accept it. You might as well return it right now."
"I'm not returning anything. If you want it returned, you have to do it yourself... but I'm not telling you where I got it. You have to open it to find that out."
Scully examined the package with a critical eye. Smaller than a shirt box... a lingerie box. He wouldn't give her lingerie, would he? Even he wouldn't be that crude. "Then I guess you're out some money," she told him. "Because if that's the case, it'll sit here unopened forever. And by the way, if you have enough money to go around buying gifts, you can certainly contribute to the household expenses."
Krycek smiled. "Took you long enough to get around to asking that. Consider it done. Now, about that gift?"
She crossed her arms over her chest. "Get it out of here. I'm not touching it."
He shook his head, but didn't get up. "That's too bad, because, y'know, it really is sort of deal-related..."
"Deal-related?" Scully put two and two together and came up with... "What is this, some kind of sick reward or something?"
"Reward?" Krycek pondered that for a moment. "Rewards are given for performance above and beyond the call of duty, and yours last night certainly was. I didn't mean it that way, but if you want to think of it like that, go right ahead."
She stared at him in disbelief. "You sick son of a bitch! How could you --"
"Hey, you're the one who called it a reward, not me," he broke in calmly. "I bought it only because I thought you might like it. No other reason, no ulterior motive. Open it, don't open it; do whatever you want. But if you want to return it, you have to open it."
"Okay, *fine*," she snarled, snatching up the package. "You better have the receipt, pal, or this might end up someplace it probably wasn't intended to go." She tore the paper away and yanked the cover off the box to reveal exactly what she was afraid would be in the package: lingerie.
But, true to the giver's form, it wasn't just any lingerie. It was a matching bra and panty (the correct size, of course) of ice-blue silk and ivory lace; not purely functional, but still tasteful. It was the kind of thing she had once considered splurging on when she was dating Jack Willis. The brand name on the tags jumped right out at her. La Perla lingerie was expensive stuff, and the fact that it had been purchased at Neiman Marcus made it that much more costly. The same things she had felt upon recognizing the video for what it was came over her again, and she could only stare at the box in disbelief for what felt like a long time before she was able to form words.
"This?" she finally said. "*This* is deal-related? What do you expect me to do, put this on just so you can rip it off me?"
Krycek smirked at her. "Hey, there's an idea --"
"Seriously, Dana, I just wanted you to have it. I know you like nice things... silk things... and you'd never buy it for yourself, so I did. Much as I'd love to see you in it --"
"Or out of it?" Scully sneered.
"That'd be very nice too," he admitted, "but as much as I'd like to see that, it really doesn't matter to me what you do with that gift. Wear it for me. Wear it for yourself. Return it. Burn it if it makes you feel better. If you choose to wear it, you don't even have to let me see it... although it might be worth your while to keep your business partner in the mood for doing business..."
"Since when do you need encouragement?"
He sighed. "Believe it or not, this deal isn't a no-brainer for me, either. You think I like getting kicked in the head every time I try to do something nice for you?"
<Of course you do. It's all part of your little head game, isn't it?> "If you really wanted to do something nice for me, you'd get the hell out of my life!"
"That's not an option at this point. Besides, are you sure you want that?" Krycek's voice remained infuriatingly calm.
At that moment, Scully wished she'd never heard the name Alex Krycek, great sex or not. She couldn't answer that question, but another one sprang up in its place. "What were you doing wandering around in daylight, anyway?"
He shrugged. "Cabin fever, I guess."
"Cabin fever," she repeated. "So you browse around Neiman Marcus in broad daylight, while half the world is trying to arrest you or kill you. Don't you even care?"
"Of course I care," he said patiently. "My daytime travels are a calculated risk, true, but it's just that. Calculated. The old men all think I'm in Russia and/or dead. I think I'm pretty safe."
"And if someone from the Bureau happens to spot you?"
"Think about it, Dana. If you were tracking me, would you look for me in Neiman Marcus? Besides, if I were the assistant director, I'd have serious questions about agents being in department stores in the middle of the afternoon..."
"That's beside the point!" Scully snapped. "A deal's a deal, Alex. You can't just go running around with no regard for your personal safety. You promised me answers. I'm holding up my end of the bargain. The least you could do is hold up yours. You can't give me answers if you're dead."
"Such concern," he sighed. "And you think this is just a business relationship..."
"It is, which means it doesn't include gifts." She dropped the box back on the desk and held out her hand. "Receipt. Now."
Krycek fixed his eyes on hers. "I paid cash. Tossed the receipt."
"Yeah, you know, the green stuff?"
"The things in that box had to cost at least two hundred dollars. Where are you getting that kind of cash?"
"Over three hundred, actually, but who's counting?" At her glare, he smiled warmly. "What can I say? Treason's a highly lucrative endeavor."
"I'll bet." Scully snatched up the box again. "Fine, I'll return it without the receipt. Maybe I can at least get a nice suit out of it."
"Anything to keep the deal running smoothly, right, Dana?" he chuckled softly.
She wanted to smack that infuriating grin off his face, but that was probably exactly what he wanted her to do. "If you think I'll *ever* wear sexy lingerie for you, you've really got another think coming!" she snapped, then stalked off toward the bedroom with the box.
"Are you *really* holding up your end of the deal?"
Krycek's quiet question froze her in mid-stride. After a second she tossed the box into the bedroom, into the corner, and returned to the living room. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" she demanded. "You got what you wanted last night, didn't you?"
"Mmm... in a way..."
"Maybe if you weren't such a bastard about it, things might go easier! Ever think about that?"
"It's all about initiation, Dana," he said softly. "Don't get me wrong; last night was great. I love it when you talk dirty --"
"Sick bastard," she mumbled.
"-- but if you *really* want to hold up your end of the deal, you're going to have to be more proactive in the future. I have to know that it's really the deal driving you... not just what you're watching on TV."
Scully could feel her cheeks redden at his words. A thousand truly nasty replies shot through her head, but she couldn't sink to his level. Somebody had to maintain dignity in this whole ungodly mess. It wasn't the time to lash out at him about the video either. He obviously expected it, but she wouldn't give him the satisfaction. "Fine," she said, making sure to keep her voice calm and level. "Next time I'll issue an engraved invitation."
"That's a start, I suppose."
With an exasperated sigh, she strode off toward the bedroom, his soft laughter ringing in her ears.
Dana Scully spent the three days following the Day of Giving (as she had come to think of it) trying to quell the war that raged inside her. Conflicting impulses drove her -- the urge to stay as far away from Krycek as she could and the urge to pin him to the bed, tear his clothes off, and demand that he take her again exactly the way he had on the night she'd discovered the video. Sometimes she even sat back and marveled at her predicament. How could Krycek make her feel so cheap and still make her want to come crawling back, begging for more?
It was the sex, she told herself. The sex was beyond fabulous. Scully had never thought of herself as a woman who could ever be driven solely by sex, but she now found that Krycek's words on his first night with her were true. Apparently everybody, even Dana Katherine Scully, did have someone who could make them do just about anything, and seemingly, he was her someone. Many, many less than savory things could be said about the man, but one fact was undeniable: Alex Krycek was an extraordinarily talented lover. Although "lover" wasn't exactly the word Scully would've used to describe what he was to her, no alternative sprang to mind.
While she spent those three days obsessing over what was happening, Krycek behaved like nothing at all had happened. He seemed relaxed, much more so than during the week before she found the video. During that time she'd sensed an aura of expectation about him, waiting for her to make her move.
Not so now. He didn't send any hints that he wanted sex. He didn't make any references to the deal. He didn't speak in double entendres. He didn't ask her if she'd worn his gift. When he did the laundry, he had to have noticed that it wasn't there, but he never said a word. He never mentioned the lingerie box still sitting in the corner of the bedroom, unopened and unreturned. He seemed satisfied that the deal would progress as he'd intended it to, and appeared to be willing to adapt to her timetable.
His behavior was, she thought, almost nauseatingly normal. Every night when she came home he asked her about her day, giving her the opportunity to unburden herself if she should want to. To her surprise, Scully found herself taking that opportunity one night; venting about cases, bureaucracy, or whatever had annoyed her that day. Krycek listened sympathetically, then said something that made her laugh hysterically, and the tension of the day was suddenly gone.
The sheer normality of his behavior was what gave her the creeps. He was behaving like a roommate or someone else who belonged in her life, and the fact that she knew he didn't just brought back everything she'd felt both when she discovered the first disk in her bag and when she unwrapped his gift. The matters of that gift and the video remained unresolved, but Scully didn't feel right about bringing them up as long as things were going reasonably well. Still, she could feel those issues hanging over her head, just adding to her discomfort. As a result, the desire to stay away from him reigned at home.
At work, all she could think about was the sex. She'd sat through several meetings, briefings, and interviews with witnesses and suspects without hearing a word anyone said. Her mind was completely occupied by memories, thoughts, and daydreams about having sex with Krycek. Mulder, of course, noticed her distraction and teased her unmercifully, but she was too preoccupied to respond.
One thing Mulder said did sink in, though. On the third day after she gave him the disk, he asked her when she was meeting her informant again. "Find out if he's got anything we can use," he said.
Without thinking, Scully said she was meeting her informant that night. It was only later that she realized she'd have to get over that desire to run away from Krycek if she was to further the deal and get something useful for her partner.
That really wasn't a bad thing, though. Thoughts of sex came to her at home, too; just not when she was face to face with Krycek. She wanted it, maybe even needed it, but every time she looked at him, all she could remember were the words that had finally gotten him moving last time. While what had followed was superb, knowing that she'd lost all control and said that, acted like that, embarrassed her. If she was going to proposition him again, she had to find a better way to do it.
So Scully found herself that night sitting on the sofa with Krycek, inches away from him, watching television. Well, he was watching. At least she thought he was. He was leaning on the pillows at the end of the sofa, his feet propped up on the coffee table. She sat curled next to him, not touching him... but thinking about him. Thinking about touching him, about him touching her, about feeling him inside her...
She became aware of a faint warmth caressing her left side -- his body heat. After three days of thinking about sex, obsessing about it, that was all it took. A now familiar heat pooling in her pelvic area, she leaned toward the warmth and was soon resting lightly against his right side. Krycek glanced briefly at her, but quickly turned his attention back to the television. He acknowledged her move by gently ruffling her hair and laying his arm across the back of the sofa, behind her.
Scully found herself staring not at the television, but at his feet. She allowed her gaze to drift up his jeans-clad legs until it came to rest on his crotch. An idea took shape in her mind. <If he wants proactive, here's proactive. They say actions speak louder,> she told herself, so she took a deep breath and, fixing her eyes on the television, started to gently stroke his crotch.
Krycek sighed softly and arched ever so slightly into her caress. She rubbed a little harder, encouraged to feel him growing underneath her hand. He sighed again, laid his head against the back of the sofa, and moved slightly, allowing her more room to work. Her gentle massage continued until she felt his stiffening organ start to strain against its denim prison. She felt his hand start to stroke her neck as she undid both jeans and boxers, freeing the object of her attention.
A soft moan escaped him as flesh met flesh and she started to stroke him in earnest. She wrapped her hand around his organ and moved it gently from root to crown and back, exploring the instrument that had brought her so much pleasure. She hadn't yet really seen it, hadn't felt it except inside her, and quickly became intrigued with this voyage of discovery. Intrigued and very, very wet.
She continued to stroke slowly, learning as she went at just which spots more stimulation elicited blissful sounds from her otherwise silent partner. She made sure to pay extra attention to those spots, delighting in the effect her efforts had on him... and astonished at the size the object in her hand had attained. She played with the tip, coating her palm with the fluid seeping from it, then resumed her slow, deliberate stroking, taking out her mental ruler as she did so.
A couple more trips up and down its length convinced her that her estimate was probably right. Krycek's member was a good eight inches or so. A good *thick* eight inches or so. <I can take all that inside? How the hell...?>
It was time to see how. Scully shifted uncomfortably. Was he ever going to make a move? Wet wasn't the word to describe how she felt anymore. Floods of Biblical proportions, maybe... "Alex?"
He thrust once into her hand as his massaging hand dropped to her shoulder and started gently kneading. "Mmm?"
"Are you planning on making a move, or are you just going to let me finish it like this?"
Another thrust. "Feels really... really... good... don't stop..."
"Hey, what the hell...?"
Scully stole a look down. <Is there such a thing as too big? That might qualify...> "You said I had to initiate," she said, making a point of concentrating on his face.
Krycek's eyes focused again and he lifted his head a bit. "You have the entire English language at your disposal, and your hand on my cock is your invitation?"
She chanced another quick, light stroke, and watched him jump in response. "You never said it had to be verbal..."
"Maybe it'd better be, because when you start it like this, you finish what you started."
In an instant she had his balls firmly in hand, squeezing. An instant after that his hand clamped around the back of her neck, also squeezing. Hard.
She held her breath, determined not to make a sound although she was both in pain and inwardly seething. The bastard was making the deal up as he went along. Of all the nerve... She squeezed harder.
A few seconds later she heard, "Dana?" Krycek's voice was very tight, controlled. Trying not to scream.
"I know that." Served him right!
"It would be in your best interest if you let go."
It didn't matter how mad she was; unfortunately, he was right. What was the object of this exercise anyway? Sex. Information. Wasn't going to happen if she had his balls in a stranglehold. She let go.
He slowly let out the breath he'd been holding and at the same time released his grip on her neck. "Thank you."
"Okay, Krycek, start explaining," she demanded, rubbing her neck. "What do you mean, I finish what I started?"
"Exactly what it sounds like. You start a hand job, you finish a hand job. Either that or you make it damn clear what you want."
"You can't change the deal now!" She made a move toward his balls again, but his hand clamped down on her wrist and held it.
"I'm not changing anything," he explained patiently. "You obviously misunderstood the original terms. Maybe we should review the bare bones of this deal. I get serviced. You get information. That being the case, any and all forms of sex, including manual, oral, or... whatever else you may think of... fall under the deal. You think I derive *all* my pleasure from making you feel good? No. I need something from this too, and that's it."
She tried to wrench her wrist from his grip, but he held fast. "Bastard," she hissed.
"My parents were married," he said quietly.
"What happened to, and I quote, 'lots more of those 3-orgasm sexual encounters'?" she seethed. "What happened to 'I focused on your pleasure'? Information isn't the only thing I'm supposed to get out of this deal, pal!"
"If you get anything besides information, it's only through the benevolence of your partner in this thing, and that would be me. You might think about that before you piss me off."
"You're not the one getting pissed off!" What in the world ever made her think she wanted to sleep with this man?
There was a spark of anger in his eyes. Well-controlled, yes, but it was there, serving to remind her just who she was dealing with. Pissing Alex Krycek off was never a good idea. There was no telling what he would or could do. She dropped her gaze and let her hand fall, limp, onto the sofa cushion.
Krycek relaxed a bit too. "Now, Dana, there's no reason to get all upset," he said calmly. "I guess I just didn't make myself clear when this started. Whatever pleasure you get from this is incidental. Information is not given based on whether you come. It's based on whether or not I do. So if you decide to do what you did tonight, I *will* let you finish it. I have an orgasm, you get a disk, everybody's happy. If you want any more than that, you might want to make it clearer. Don't assume I'll lunge just because your hand is in my pants. Sometimes a hand job is enough, and you know, you're really pretty good at it..."
"Son of a bitch," she sneered.
"All I'm saying is, if you want to get laid, you have to ask. Yes, verbally. Just like we agreed to originally. Is that really so hard?"
She took a deep, cleansing breath, but said nothing.
"Has it really been so long since you've indulged your desires that you don't remember how to ask? Or are you still afraid to admit just what it is you desire?"
She found her gaze drifting downward again. Looking at that, it wasn't hard to remember why she'd made this deal. And why she'd started this tonight.
"Now, why don't you tell me what you want?" His hand tangled in her hair as his silky voice purred in her ear.
Her stranglehold on his balls hadn't done his erection any favors, but that was easily put right. She reached out and started to stroke him again; long, slow strokes that soon drew an involuntary moan from him. "This," she murmured. "I want this."
About a minute and a half later, after a flurry of clothing was flung around the room, she had those eight thick inches buried inside her. It was fast and hard, rough and hot. It hurt. It hurt a lot.
She came four times.
And she wanted more.
Afterwards, she slid out from underneath him, gathered her clothes, and stumbled into the bedroom. If his intention had been to show her who was in control, he'd certainly succeeded. He knew just how far to push things, too. He'd been rough with her, but she wasn't bleeding. The sex had hurt... but it also felt good. Much too good.
Scully collapsed on the bed, still trembling. Never in her life had she been turned on by pain. Why now? Was it only because Krycek was so skillful? That he knew which buttons to push?
Was it that easy to explain why, sore and shaking as she was, she wanted him in bed with her right that second?
<Oh, God, I'm in trouble. I need help...>
Hearing movement from the other room, she slipped into bed, pulling the covers up to her chin. This was the first time she was afraid, really afraid, of Krycek since the night she'd first found him in her apartment. He'd told her then that he could hurt her anytime he wanted to, but after that night, she didn't think he would. Not like this, at least. And the worst part was she didn't even know just what had set him off. Still, he had to know he'd gone too far this time. She sat up in the bed, and, holding up the sheet to cover herself, called out, "Alex?"
After a moment he appeared in the doorway, stark naked and holding a liquor bottle. "Yeah?"
<Say it, Dana. Just say it.> But her mouth wouldn't cooperate. Instead she heard herself ask, "What are you drinking?"
"Vodka." He leaned against the doorjamb and took a long swig from the bottle.
"Vodka?" She hadn't seen him drink anything alcoholic except beer at dinner, and that wasn't even every night. Okay, he was still angry.
"Yeah, vodka. Russian bottled water." Krycek took another long drink. "Did you want something?"
"Well... yes..." In the state he was in, he wouldn't take what she had to say very well, but what could he do? On an intellectual level, she knew, and was sure he knew, that he couldn't really hurt her or he'd sabotage his own deal. If only that knowledge made what she had to say easier...
Scully raised her head and met his eyes. "Before... umm..."
"What happened... it hurt. You hurt me."
He shrugged and drank again. "You wanted it."
"Not like *that*."
"You didn't tell me to stop."
<Why didn't I?> "Would you? If I had?"
Krycek considered this for a moment. "Maybe," he said. "Probably. I guess I made my point pretty fast."
Scully blinked at him. "Your *point*? What the hell point were you making?"
"What point? How 'bout that you won't get what you want if you don't ask for it?"
"Like you'd really give it to me? Don't do me any favors," Scully sneered.
He shrugged again. "I can't if you don't tell me what you want. We discussed this at the beginning. Do you not understand the deal? Or do you just have a communication problem?"
She took a deep breath and bit back the first reply that came to mind, which she was sure would just piss him off more. When she spoke, her voice was calm and even. "If I do, I'd better *communicate* this very clearly. If that happens again, if you ever hurt me like that again, this deal is over. Finished. You're out on the street and I don't care who finds you first, Mulder or the smoking man. Understood?"
"Fine. You try another half-nelson on my balls and I'll break your neck. Understood?"
Her gaze swept over his sleek, well-muscled body and she knew he meant what he said. He could hurt her anytime and in any way he wanted to, and, unless her gun was handy, she really couldn't do anything about it. It might not be in his best interest to use that power, but he had it, just the same. He had the upper hand, no matter what. "Understood," she said quietly.
"Good." Krycek set the vodka bottle on the dresser and came to sit beside her on the bed. "See, Dana, you're making things a lot more complicated than they have to be," he said, running his hand slowly up her sheet-covered leg. "It's really very simple. You just have to ask. That's all. You don't have to make an elaborate production out of it. A few simple words will do. Those words you used last time were very effective..."
She wanted to swat his hand away, but what he was doing felt too good. She released her grip on the sheets and stretched her legs out. "It's not simple if you keep changing the deal."
"I didn't change the deal. It's still the same. If you want to have sex, you have to tell me. When you start with a hand job, how am I supposed to know you don't want to finish it?"
<God, I need help. All he needs to do is touch my leg and I want him. I'm so easy it's disgusting. My high school boyfriends wouldn't know me anymore...> "Why on earth would I do something solely for your pleasure?"
"How am I supposed to know what you're thinking?" he countered, letting his hand stray farther up her leg. "I'm not a mind reader, y'know. You were already doing something that felt pretty good. Why would I stop you unless I got a better offer?"
His hand moved to the inside of her leg, where just the barest touch turned her insides to jelly. "You *did* imply that great sex was part of the package," she sighed.
"I told you sex was part of the package. I never told you it'd always be great. That's an awful lot of pressure to heap on a guy, y'know. Talk about performance anxiety..."
"Right. You've never had performance anxiety in your life."
He chuckled. "You're so good for the male ego, y'know that?"
"You did imply that the sex would always be great."
"Did I? Oh, I suppose I did," he mused, turning his attention to the other still-covered leg. "Makes sense. The information is for Mulder, the sex is for you. It probably should always be great. Seems only fair, doesn't it?"
She sighed softly and parted her legs to his gentle exploration. "Did you just change the deal back?"
Krycek laughed softly. "I never changed the deal. The fundamental thing for you always remained the same. You. Must. Ask. How am I supposed to know you *want* great sex unless you tell me?"
"Last time... wasn't great..."
"How many orgasms was that?"
His eyes, which had been following his hand's journey, now met hers. "Behave and it'll never happen again."
"Must be that Catholic upbringing," he continued. "Too much self- denial. This deal might even be good for you, if it gets you to start asking for things you want. Now..." His slow massage stopped and his hand rested on her thigh. "Is there anything you happen to want?"
Ask. All she had to do was ask. Not hard, just a few simple words. Why did she find them so hard to say? "Yes," she finally murmured, her eyes meeting his. "I want to do it again. And I want to do it right."
"Not bad," he said. "Do what?"
He knew very well what. He just *had* to make her spell it out, didn't he? "Sex," she growled. "I want to have sex again, and I want to do it right."
"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?" he asked, pulling the sheet away and stroking her bare inner thigh as she lay back on the pillow. "Like they say, ask and you shall receive..."
Scully was glad he didn't kiss her. With all the conflicting feelings swirling around inside her, she thought she might bite his tongue off. He wisely applied that talented mouth to other areas of her anatomy and soon had her squirming, writhing, moaning... all but begging him to do what she really wanted.
He wouldn't. She couldn't tell if he was just making good on his promise to make it great for her, or if he was teaching her another "ask and you shall receive" lesson, but at around the same time she lost count of the number of orgasms his lips and tongue gave her, he stopped briefly and looked at her. "Still can't do it, can you?"
Still panting, she propped herself on her elbows and met his eyes. "What the hell? I... asked!" She took several deep breaths and found her voice again. "You wanted proactive, I gave you proactive and it wasn't good enough. I gave you verbal, and it isn't good enough. What the hell do you want?"
"You know what I want. I've made no secret of that. The question is, what do you want?"
"I told you. I asked. What more could you possibly ask for?"
"You know..." he said speculatively, gently kneading a nipple, "publishers make billions putting out women's magazines that teach their readers how to get what they want in bed. And y'know what they all say? That you have to *communicate* with your partner. Do we communicate, Dana?"
She blinked at him. "Wha--"
"Apparently not," Krycek decided. "What would you do if you couldn't?" And with that his hand clamped down over her mouth as his mouth enthusiastically attacked a breast and his other hand dipped between her legs again.
She had to admit he made his point this time. She was never more desperate to speak in her life. If he'd just move that hand she'd say anything he wanted her to. She'd even use the same words she'd used the last time, if he liked them so much. With his hand where it was, she couldn't even properly cry out her pleasure when she came, which he made sure she did often. She tried to bite his hand, but couldn't manage it. She wanted to shove it away, but her hands were otherwise occupied, fingers digging into his back.
It wasn't until she stopped fighting the hand over her mouth that he let up on the pressure a little. And it was only then that he switched hands (as it had been the artificial one that was over her mouth) and finally entered her.
She relaxed then and even started to enjoy being gagged. A little, at least. She managed to lick his palm, eliciting a gasp of surprise from him. Enjoying the reaction she got, she kept licking, trying to match the rhythm of his thrusting, until he finally came, only then removing his hand from her mouth.
She was just lying there, limp and utterly exhausted, when he spoke. "So... did it meet with your approval this time?"
There was an edge of sarcasm in his voice, but she ignored it. "Mm- hmm."
"And you thought I was grading *your* performance..."
"I hate you, Alex."
"I thought you liked it this time."
"Since when do I have to ask twice? There you go, changing the deal again." She knew she should be more assertive on that point, but she just couldn't muster up the energy.
"I'm not asking for much. A simple 'please' would do. For all I know, you might want only oral sex. How am I supposed to know what you want if you don't tell me?"
"If you don't quit making this stuff up as you go along, this deal's over."
"Oh, I'm making stuff up as I go along, all right, but not the terms of the deal..."
"I hate you, Alex."
"Then I must be doing my job right. G'night, Dana."
Scully stared at her computer, not seeing a single word on the monitor in front of her. Her mind kept going over the issues that had come up the previous night. Funny thing about the deal, she mused. She and Krycek never seemed to resolve any issues, but every time they did something deal-related, new ones came up.
She didn't want to think about one of the issues. She simply could not admit to herself that it was possible that she liked it rough sometimes. Last night had been an aberration. She'd been thinking about sex for three days, so anything she got at that point was likely to feel great. She didn't like it. She couldn't. It just wasn't possible, and she was determined to banish the thought from her mind.
The other issue wasn't as easy to dismiss. Every time she thought she had the deal straight, Krycek changed some aspect of it. Minor changes, yes, but it made her feel like they were covering the same ground over and over again. But did anything ever change in practice? No. She'd make an attempt to fulfill her part of the deal, and he'd tell her it wasn't good enough. She was truly starting to feel like they were beating a dead horse every time they talked about it. Would *anything* be good enough for him? She wished he'd just make up his mind so they could get down to some real business. She could do it -- if she were aroused enough, she could almost forget that her partner had any sort of past at all -- but she was sick to death of talking about it.
Scully's attention snapped back to the present as she turned around. Assistant Director Walter Skinner stood just inside the door of the basement office, a slim folder in his hand.
Mulder looked up from his computer, where he had been studying the same file Scully had been staring at. "What can we do for you, sir?" he asked their boss.
Skinner stood there a moment, looking both of them over. Scully held her breath, almost certain that her deal had been discovered and she was about to be fired... or worse. Skinner wouldn't do that in front of Mulder, though, would he?
"I just thought you'd want to know," Skinner finally said, interrupting her thoughts. "This hasn't been confirmed, but we've had a report that Alex Krycek's been sighted in the area."
Scully gasped, feeling a sudden rush of fear so intense it made her nauseous. She took a few deep, gulping breaths, trying to calm herself and act normal, but it wasn't working. Mulder noticed and stopped ranting, and both he and Skinner were looking at her. "Scully, you okay?" Mulder asked.
She closed her eyes and took another deep breath, feeling some semblance of control start to return. "Yes, Mulder, I'm fine," she said. She was surprised to hear that her voice sounded almost normal.
When neither man took his eyes off her, she continued, "I'm just surprised, that's all. I was under the impression that Krycek was dead, or at least still in Russia."
Mulder turned back to Skinner. "Want us to bring him in, sir?"
Before their boss could say anything, Scully interrupted. "On what pretext, Mulder?"
She realized her mistake as soon as both men turned to look at her again. She'd never before defended Krycek. If she attempted to do so now, it would raise red flags all over the place. She didn't want him caught, but she couldn't give her deal away, either.
"Pretext, Scully?" Mulder asked almost in disbelief. "After what he's done?"
"We can't prove any of it," she countered. This was familiar ground; she and Mulder had had this argument several times in the past. "What charge could we possibly bring against him that we could make stick?"
"Assault, for one thing," Skinner said, absently rubbing his jaw.
"Murder," Mulder added.
"Mulder, you've never been able to find any evidence that he killed your father," she said softly.
"What about your sister? Cardinal said he was there."
Scully bit her lip. Yes, he'd been there. She wasn't sure she believed his story about that night, but she did know he hadn't fired the fatal shot. "I'm not entirely convinced of that. I was holding Cardinal at gunpoint. He would've said anything to keep me from shooting him."
"If nothing else," Skinner broke in, "we can bring him in for questioning. There are still two bombs that I'd like to know more about."
"So this is to be an official assignment?" That feeling of panic hadn't completely left. She had no idea what she'd do if the assignment was official.
"Not yet," Skinner said, and Scully heaved an inward sigh of relief. "The report hasn't been confirmed, so I can't really assign anything yet. I'm just asking that you keep an eye out." He passed the folder to Mulder.
"I certainly hope you intend to take this seriously this time if it becomes official," Scully said, even as she mentally berated herself for not keeping quiet.
Again both Mulder and Skinner looked at her. "Seriously?" Mulder asked.
"Look what happened last time. You," she pointed at Skinner, "harbored this wanted man in your own home, and you," she pointed at Mulder, "dragged him off to a foreign country and let him go! If we're going after him, we do it right this time. By the book."
Mulder and Skinner exchanged glances, conveying something she didn't understand. She wasn't defending Krycek; why were they looking at her like that?
"Okay, if it means that much to you, Scully," Mulder said after a moment. "By the book it is."
He was still looking at her funny. Thinking quickly, she came up with a cover they'd probably accept. "I just don't want any case we manage to bring against him thrown out of court on a technicality. Unofficial safe houses and unauthorized trips halfway around the world certainly won't help."
Scully held her breath. Her behavior wasn't really that odd, was it? She didn't want Krycek jailed -- she knew it would be about two seconds before he spilled the deal if he were -- but she was going along with the idea. She could make a show of hunting for him, as long as neither Mulder nor Skinner did anything crazy, like they had the last time.
Skinner finally spoke. "You're right, Agent Scully. We should do this by the book. So for now, just keep your eyes open and don't do anything. You'll be advised if this becomes an official investigation."
"Thank you, sir." Mulder ushered their boss out, then turned back to Scully. "Dragged him off and let him go?" he asked. "Did you forget what almost happened over there?"
"What about --" She managed to stop the rush of words while she could still cover herself. <What about what happened to Krycek?> That question would go over just wonderfully with Mulder. She stopped and gathered her wits again, and felt a brief stab of guilt. She was only in the deal to help her partner. Shouldn't she be protecting him instead?
"What about what, Scully?" Mulder asked, giving her that funny look again.
She chose her words carefully. At this point, the only way to protect Mulder was to keep Krycek out of jail and the deal secret. "What about what you did?" she asked, careful not to make it sound like an accusation. "Mulder, I know you went through a horrible ordeal over there, but what you did was wrong." She moved closer and gently laid a hand on his arm. "You do understand that, don't you?"
Mulder challenged her gaze for a long moment before looking away. "Okay, maybe it wasn't the brightest move I ever made," he admitted.
"And we have to be smart with this. The best thing to do is take our time, collect information, and build an airtight case against him. It's the only way."
"I want him, Scully." Mulder's voice was low, determined.
"So do I, Mulder," she said softly. <Oh, God, so do I...> "But we have to take it slow and follow the rules or we won't get him. Okay?"
Mulder studied her for another long moment. "I guess that's the one thing we haven't tried yet," he finally said. "Okay, we'll do it your way."
"You won't regret it." With a sigh of relief, Scully sat down in front of her computer. "Now, what do you think of these files?"
No matter what kind of spin he put on it, Krycek could only come up with one word for the events of the previous night: stupid. Dana Scully wasn't the type of woman who'd respond to threats and violence. So what had he given her? Threats and violence.
He could tell himself that he'd only been rough with her to regain control of the encounter, but he knew it hadn't been necessary. He was back in control the instant she said she wanted to have sex. Why had he reacted like that?
Sure, she'd pissed him off, but that was no excuse. It wasn't like it was the first time she'd done that, and he usually managed to control his temper. He was on shaky enough ground with the deal already; scaring her, no matter what she did that annoyed him, wasn't going to get her to put out any faster. He knew that, had known it going into the deal. What the hell was it about last night's situation that made him do what he did?
Yes, he had to show Scully who was boss again before she decided that testicle strangling was going to be a regular activity, but he couldn't quite get away from the idea that he'd been forceful simply because he wanted her. Wanted her much, much more than he'd been willing to admit to himself up until now. If that were the case, as soon as she gave the green light, he didn't regain control; he lost it. Completely and totally.
The same thing had happened the first time they'd had sex under the deal, on the night she watched the video. That time, thanks to the video and the foreplay, she'd been as desperate as he was, so she hadn't really noticed. Not so this time.
He could only shake his head. Did he really want her badly enough that he could lose control and end up sabotaging his own deal?
Stupid, stupid, colossally stupid. His personal stuff was starting to overshadow the larger goals, and that was a very bad thing. He was definitely making progress toward one of his objectives: melting the Ice Queen. She might not admit it to herself, but she was hooked. She had to be, to want him again even after saying he'd hurt her. And even after the deal changed. He'd denied it when she made the accusation, but he had indeed changed it somewhat. Probably only for that one occasion, but if she tolerated all rule changes as well as she'd taken those, he wouldn't hesitate to try it again. He wondered how far he could push the parameters of the deal before she threw him out.
He knew he couldn't push the forcefulness thing any further, though. The deal was too successful on the Ice Queen front for him to risk it any further. Already Scully had, if not betrayed, at least compromised a lot of things that were important to her. Saint Scully was slipping off that pedestal of hers, slowly but surely, and further violence would only send her scurrying back there.
That meant severely reining in his impulses, something that went against Krycek's nature. He suspected that his intense desire for her was so closely entwined with his desire to destroy her that the loss of control he'd exhibited so far was almost inevitable. But it had to stop immediately. He could afford to take it more slowly with the sex. It wasn't like he had to worry about never having her again; he had her practically begging him to fuck her. His desire for her would be sated, no problem, especially if she were really as hooked as he thought she was. If he kept hurting her and alienating her, she might continue to sleep with him, but she'd remain cold and distant; firmly planted on her pedestal.
It would be an interesting challenge, if nothing else... and it actually fed into the overall mindfuck. Aside from the first night seduction, both encounters so far had been of the hot, sweaty, intense, "if I don't have sex right this second I'll die" type -- for both of them. Taking things slower and more gently would mess with Scully's head quite nicely; would really make her wonder what he was up to. And for Alex Krycek, there was nothing quite like a good mindfuck.
His thoughts were interrupted by the slam of the apartment door. A few seconds later, Scully appeared in the kitchen. "I hope you're happy!" she snapped.
That was a loaded statement if he'd ever heard one. "What am I supposed to be happy about now?"
She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him. "You've been spotted."
Krycek brushed past her to put plates and utensils in a pile on the table. "Go ahead, say it," he told her. "I know you're dying to."
"Okay, if you insist... I told you so. Feel better now?"
He offered her a tight smile. "Yes, much. So, where, when and by whom was I supposedly seen?"
"Two days ago, in the southeast part of the city. The report was filed by Agent Matthew Parker."
Southeast D.C. Visions flashed through Krycek's mind: a clock blinking 12:00 over and over, the force and heat of the explosion knocking him to the ground; a desperate and ill-advised phone call... He somehow managed to suppress the involuntary shudder. "Who's Agent Matthew Parker, and what the hell does he know about me?"
Scully took a deep breath and began to set the table with the items he'd placed on it. "Agent Parker was part of the team involved in the warehouse bust in Queens last November," she said. "He must've noticed Mulder and me focusing on you, figured you were important, and remembered what you look like. Once Mulder reported that you were missing, Parker probably thought it would be a good idea if he kept his eyes open."
"I think he came out of Quantico about seven or eight months before that."
Krycek snorted. "Figures. So now what?"
"Skinner asked us to keep an eye out for you, but he wouldn't call it an official assignment yet."
"Just you and Mulder?"
"For now, yes." Scully took the glasses he handed her and placed them on the table. "I covered for you as best I could, and I insisted that any investigation be run by the book. That should slow them down, if nothing else."
He couldn't help but laugh. "By the book? Spooky and Skinhead? You're kidding, right?"
"How dare you?" she huffed. "After what you've done, you expect kid- glove treatment when --"
"Kid-glove treatment?" he broke in. "Do you have any idea what really happened last November?"
She waited, glaring at him.
"After beating me up, your boss handcuffed me to his balcony railing. Outside. Left me there all night. It was November... and cold, remember? I think it dropped below freezing that night."
Scully dropped her gaze, no longer challenging him. Her silence told Krycek that she didn't think Skinner incapable of such treatment. He knew he should stop there, quit while he was ahead, but her ignorance annoyed him. Spooky never let his partner see his bad side, did he? It was high time she knew.
"And your partner... he violated my civil rights all over the place. If he hadn't punched my lights out and dumped me in the back of the truck he stole to escape, I'd still have my damn arm!"
At the words, a sudden jolt of pain shot through his left shoulder, causing him to drop the bowl he hadn't even realized he was holding. It shattered on the floor, scattering salad greens and shards of glass all over the kitchen.
<Damn it, damn it, damn it!> he berated himself, closing his eyes and massaging the shoulder. <Can't even talk about it without making it hurt. Jesus, does it ever *stop*?>
Scully bent down and started cleaning up the mess. "You can't blame Mulder for that. It wasn't his fault."
"Could've trusted me," Krycek said through clenched teeth. If he ignored it, didn't think about it, it would stop hurting, right? "Could've waited. I would've gotten him out of there with both arms... I was negotiating that with the commandant when he jumped me."
"Not soon enough!" she snapped.
"Timing was perfect. I did him a favor in there. When he gets the information about the test, he'll see that."
"Favor? Some favor! He'll see --" Scully straightened up and focused on him for the first time since he'd dropped the bowl. "Are you all right?"
He hadn't meant to say it, hadn't meant to let her see the pain or how much it affected him, but the word just slipped out. She disappeared into the bathroom, returning with a cup of water and two pills. She pried his right hand off his shoulder and placed the pills in it. "It's all I have available," she said. "Maybe they'll take the edge off it."
Ibuprofen. He could grind up a whole bottle of ibuprofen pills, pour milk over them and have them for breakfast, and they still wouldn't take the edge off the pain on the worst days. But this wasn't one of the worst days, not by far. At least he was still vertical. He took the pills and sat down.
Scully sat too. "You really think you did Mulder a favor by letting him go through that?" she asked quietly.
Krycek nodded. "He'll see it eventually. If he's smart enough to figure out what I give him, he'll see it." His efforts to ignore the pain were starting to work -- it was beginning to fade. It was too soon for the pills to work; it had to be mind over matter. But it wouldn't continue if he didn't change the subject. "So, did you talk to this Parker kid yet?"
Scully sighed. "Not yet. He's away on assignment."
"When you do, make sure you get to him before Mulder does. It can't be too hard to persuade an ass-kissing rookie that he was... mistaken."
She looked up at him. "Was he mistaken?"
"Don't lie to me, Alex. I can't cover for you if you're not straight with me."
He sighed. "He was wrong, Dana. Wrong."
"You haven't been in the southeast section of the city?"
"Not two days ago --"
"Dammit, Alex, what is wrong with you?" Scully interrupted. "I thought we already talked about this. You cannot just run around this city without taking precautions!"
He glared at her. "I take precautions against known threats. How the hell was I supposed to know some junior G-man was looking for me?"
"Possible assassins are known threats?"
"Assassins are actually easier to spot. Takes one to know one, y'know."
Scully sighed again. "Just be more careful next time, okay? What were you doing in that part of town anyway?"
"Business," he said quickly.
"Oh?" One eyebrow arched. "What kind of business?"
"Just business, okay? You think I sit around here watching talk shows and soap operas all day?" No need to tell her what he had going on. She probably wouldn't understand anyway.
"Fine. Just be more careful in the future, *please*. It would be in your best interest to make it as easy as possible for me to cover for you."
Oh, yes, she was well and truly hooked. Krycek favored her with a warm smile. "Of course. Your wish is my command."
"Hmph. Feeling better yet?"
He absently rubbed at his left shoulder. "Yeah, better."
"Good. Then shut up and get dinner on the table. I'm starving."
Hooked, yes, but still completely Scully. What a surprise it would be to her when that pedestal of hers completely disappeared.
If the sound wasn't almost constant, it probably wouldn't have bothered Scully. But it was; the incessant tapping and clicking invading her consciousness and making it impossible for her to concentrate on her book. Finally she put the book down and fixed her gaze on Krycek, seated at the desk in front of his laptop. "What's got you so busy?" she asked.
She sighed. They had managed to settle into a fairly regular pattern over the last two weeks that included sex every two or three nights (or whenever she was desperate enough to proposition him), and reasonably comfortable coexistence all other times. They even managed small talk during meals, and the occasional spirited debate, usually over the news. There was no talk of the deal, no changes in its terms since the night he had gagged her. She was getting sort of used to his constant presence, and on occasion even welcomed the sympathetic ear he presented when she needed to let off steam about anything. Anything, at least, other than himself and the deal.
For now, though, there wasn't a whole lot she could say about the deal. He promised her information and great sex on demand, and was delivering. She was making an effort toward being more proactive, and he seemed to appreciate it. It was getting easier, too. Once he saw that she was trying, he didn't make her work so hard at it. No more asking twice. No more surprises. Well, no more bad surprises...
The one thing Krycek staunchly refused to discuss with her was his work. Scully had no idea what the hell he did all day, where he went when he ventured outside, or what kind of computer activity he engaged in. He normally didn't do it in her presence, which meant that he felt that whatever he was doing now was important. And it was about time she knew what was going on under her own roof.
"Alex, I really hope you're not doing anything illegal..."
When nothing more was forthcoming, she sighed again. "Well, what *are* you doing?"
"I told you. Work."
Her silence apparently prompted him to elaborate on that. "I heard something got out on the Net that wasn't supposed to, okay? I had to fix it."
He looked back at her over his shoulder. "Hacking 101. Very popular class at Consortium U."
"You are doing something illegal, aren't you?"
"No more illegal than whatever those buddies of Mulder's do." He chuckled. "Might be interesting if you could arrange a meeting with the Lone Gunmen for me. I bet we could learn a lot from each other."
"Oh, I'm sure they'd love a chance to pick your brain," Scully said, rising from the sofa and moving behind him. "But you might not have any brain cells left once they're done with you."
"Nah," Krycek said breezily. "Far as I can tell, they still haven't downloaded the instructions for a proper mind wipe. Besides, you wouldn't let them do that, would you?"
"Might be worth a try," she muttered as she idly watched a Web page load on his laptop's screen. As he scrolled through it, a lot of little boxes appeared, with text after them. Apparently it was a checklist of some sort. She tried to lean in closer to read the text, but Krycek wouldn't let her get close enough.
"What's that?" she asked.
"One of the other things my Web search came up with. Thought it might be... interesting..." He laughed softly. "Oh, yeah, very interesting..."
Scully was about to ask again what it was when she noticed that the light on the printer sharing device Krycek had installed was blinking. A minute later, her printer had put out four sheets, which he handed to her. "You should find this amusing."
She had to read the heading twice before it sank in. "The Online Sexual Purity Test? You have to be kidding. *This* has to do with your work? Your Web search turned --" A sudden thought struck. Purity... Purity Test, Purity... Control? What did he know about Purity Control, and what kind of information was there online about it?
"No, this isn't work, this is fun," Krycek interrupted her thoughts. "I told you, my search suggested this, and I thought it might be amusing. Whaddya think?"
She scanned the questions. "Have you ever... Oh, for heaven's sake, are we back in high school or something? Have you ever kissed someone, on the first date, on the neck, while lying down... Alex, I really hope this isn't where you get your ideas from."
"Nope, never seen it before," he said, furiously clicking on boxes. "Besides, it's not quite as high-school as you think. Look, even I'm 30% pure according to this."
"What does that mean?" Annoyed as she was, she was oddly intrigued too.
"That means I only had 70 yeses out of 100 questions." At her glare, he shrugged. "What can I say? I didn't have the all-American adolescence you had. I probably missed some stuff."
"The tamer things, I'm sure," she said absently, even as she mentally added up her score. She couldn't believe she was doing it, but she couldn't stop. She soon realized that either he was right or she was even more sheltered than she'd thought. She scored 33 yeses.
"Let's not think of it as 'have you ever?'," Krycek was saying. "How 'bout we look at it more as 'would you ever?'"
"Would I ever... what? Pick up a stranger? Pay to see a live sexual display? Have four or more separate dates in three days? Have sex with two or more members of the same family? Sorry, I don't think so, and if you think any of this is going to come up under our deal, you're crazy."
"Hmm..." Krycek clicked his mouse a few times and a new page loaded. "Maybe that's not the right one to look at. Too much stuff that wouldn't work for the deal." He scanned the new page, then hit the print button. "Let's try this one instead."
In another minute Scully had in her hand something called the Online BDSM Purity Test. She read only the first few questions before putting the paper down in disgust. "No, let's not try this one."
"Aw, c'mon, Dana, where's your sense of adventure?" She looked up to see Krycek grinning at her. "Look, you already have two yeses on this one that I know of, and both came through the deal."
She reluctantly picked up the pages again and scanned the questions, easily identifying the ones he had attributed to her. She couldn't argue with them; she had been gagged, and she had had her partner take pictures of her during sex. Neither act was performed with her express consent, however. "You missed one," she said flatly.
He quickly scrolled through the page again. "Which?"
He looked back at her. "You have not been punished for not doing something correctly."
"Haven't I? What was that gagging all about, then? What about what you did before that?"
"That wasn't punishment," he grumbled.
"Would you have done that if I hadn't broken your hand-job rules?"
Krycek turned back to the computer without answering, which was enough of an answer for her. "I suppose you have at least fifty yeses on this one too."
"Far from it. Only seventeen."
That was mildly surprising. "Why only seventeen?"
He shrugged. "If we changed this to a 'would you ever?' list, there'd be more, but my lifestyle hasn't really allowed me time for anything more than fairly basic one-nighters... until now..."
"You'd actually consider bringing this into the deal?" Scully asked, incredulous.
"Some of it."
"Like... whatever you want. Pick something. Expand your horizons."
"Right. Pick something." She studied the list. "Does this mean I can tie you up?"
He laughed. "You wouldn't know what to do with me. No, pick something you want done to you. I'm sure there's something there that appeals."
"Sure. You really are crazy." She glanced over the sheets again and shuddered. "Genital piercing? Really, Alex..."
"Hey, I wouldn't ask you to do something I wouldn't do," he assured her.
"And you wouldn't do that?"
"Let's just say I'd rather avoid the watering can effect."
"What else here would you avoid?"
"To be honest, a lot of it," Krycek admitted. "But there are a few things that could be a real turn-on." He looked up and caught her gaze. "Something in there turns you on, too, doesn't it?"
She never would've admitted it if he hadn't said it, but it was true. Some of the items on the list sparked very clear, highly arousing mental images... But could she really do something from a list that included whipping, water sports, and fisting?
"Oh, yeah, there's something there you want to try." His voice was low, seductive. "What is it? We'll try it sometime."
Scully shut down the mental images and put down the paper. "No, Alex, I can't --"
"Of course you can. You want to. Go ahead, pick something. I already have..."
"Mine can keep for a while, until the right circumstances come along. C'mon, which one do you like?"
No matter how hard she tried not to think about it, her eyes kept drifting to one question, and her mind kept presenting her with a lovely scenario about how it might play out...
"C'mon, plamennaya malyishka," he coaxed. "Tell me all about it..."
That snapped her to attention. "What did you just call me?"
He chuckled. "You're a smart lady. Get a Russian dictionary and look it up."
Scully folded her arms across her chest. "Tell me. Now."
Her anger seemed to amuse him. "It's nothing, really," he said. "Just a little pet name I have for you. Don't worry, it's nothing bad. It's kind of... cute."
"Then why won't you tell me?"
"Because I want to see how long it takes you to figure it out. Now c'mon, pick something. If you could write the script for one of our deal encounters, what would you want?"
It didn't even matter how much he antagonized her. She couldn't deny her arousal; it was only a matter of time before she propositioned him anyway. Here was an easy way to do it. Besides, the one she picked seemed pretty safe. Telling him wouldn't hurt, would it? "Um... Number 13?"
Krycek turned back to the computer and scrolled up to question 13. "Blindfolding?" he asked with a little surprise. "Good choice. Makes for a highly enjoyable sensory experience. We'll have to try it --"
"Tonight," Scully interrupted. "Bedroom. Right now."
A deep sigh came from the other side of the bed. "What?"
It was really too bad she always retreated to her little corner of the bed after they had sex. He supposed that it was just her way of dealing with this thing she hated herself for doing, and he couldn't begrudge her that, but it would've been more fun if the bed were smaller. He idly wondered how far she'd go to avoid touching him while she slept.
Krycek let those thoughts drift away and concentrated on the question at hand. A great physical fuck deserved a followup mindfuck, didn't it? It was always a challenge, making sure the mindfuck was as good as the physical one. Sometimes, he mused, the mental ones were even more satisfying.
The physical one had been particularly satisfying this time. Lately he'd been keeping his vow to try taking things a little more gently, and she had responded, especially this time. Boy, had she responded. The rest of her senses had obviously heightened once sight was taken from her -- he was pretty sure she came just from the attention he lavished on her nipples with a silk scarf. The short notice had limited his creativity a bit, but she hadn't complained. How could she? The art of doing nothing but feeling was new to her, and Krycek was even a bit surprised at how much of a kick he got out of showing that world to her.
That realization worried him a bit, though. When he originally conceived of the deal, he'd thought that most of his pleasure would come from watching Scully surrender to her baser instincts. He wasn't supposed to get any enjoyment simply from making her feel good, was he? What kind of mindfuck was that?
<I must be better than I thought,> he mused. <I can even mindfuck myself.>
The feeling was easily explained away as an ego thing, but it was still disturbing if he thought about it too much. Better to concentrate on the head games he knew he could control.
He had no reason for asking, really. He already knew the answer, knew that it was unlikely he'd learn anything new by pursuing this line of inquiry. When he got right down to it, he had to admit that the question was kind of cruel. Not that it mattered, though. If giving her pleasure made him uncomfortable, maybe making her feel uncomfortable would balance things out. Besides, what he was about to ask would be a valid question if it came from any other guy. Any other guy who didn't know Dana Scully better than she knew herself. "Why aren't you using any birth control?"
She stiffened briefly. "Excuse me?"
"You made such a fuss about my not using condoms, I figured you'd use something else. Why aren't you?"
"How do you know I'm not?"
"No pills around. No evidence of any other method, and you're not the IUD type. Why aren't you using anything?"
"Why won't you use condoms?"
The question surprised him a little, but pleased him, too. Turning the question back on him was a move he would've used himself; had used with her often. She was learning. "I told you, I don't like them."
"Why don't you like them?"
"Diminished sensation," he said, reciting what just about every other man on the planet would say. "Kills spontaneity." He paused, then added the more personal reason, very softly. "There's no truth in advertising..."
She turned slightly, not quite looking at him but at the ceiling. "No truth in advertising?"
<Damn, too loud.> "Um... yeah."
Intrigued now, Scully turned a little more. "Meaning?"
Now that he actually had to say it, it sounded really stupid. True, but stupid. "Well... it seems that 'large' is a relative term..."
Krycek waited for her to laugh, but she looked to be processing his words instead. "You think they're too small for you," she finally said.
It sounded even dumber when she said it.
"Don't flatter yourself," she said, turning on her side again. "You're not *that* big, pal."
"Like you're qualified to make that comparison?" he shot back, immediately regretting the words. <Petty and stupid,> he chided himself. How could such a silly issue make him so uncomfortable? One of the more unwelcome consequences of telling the truth.
Scully sighed deeply and pulled the blanket further toward her side of the bed. "Who's comparing? They do stretch, you know."
This was rapidly heading toward the "too much information" stage. Time to bury this and turn the conversation back in its original direction. "Stretch and break, Dana," he said. "Care to take a guess at the percentage of broken condoms in my past?"
"That's what you get for using those cheap Russian ones. Here they make extra-large ones, extra-strength ones... they probably even make extra- large extra-strength ones. You're just being selfish and using that as an excuse because you don't like them."
"Which is exactly what I told you before. Even if you don't think the last reason is valid, the first two are, especially for somebody like me."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Krycek started to answer, then thought better of it. "Never mind," he muttered. "You wouldn't get it anyway."
"Whatever," she sighed sleepily.
"So why aren't you using anything?"
Scully was silent for so long that he thought she fell asleep. But then her answer came, so soft he almost missed it. "It doesn't matter."
"It's not an issue," she said, a little louder.
Again she paused, weighing her words carefully. "I can't get pregnant," she finally said. "Whatever your smoking friend and his group did to me left me unable to conceive."
There was a faint tremor to her voice, and for a second Krycek wondered if she were crying. He glanced over at her, noting that she still lay on her side, facing away from him, motionless. "What would you do if it happened?" he asked.
"What if you could conceive and got pregnant? What then?"
She sighed. "It's not going to happen, Alex. It can't."
He knew he was pushing it now, but for some reason he couldn't stop. Just how much did she really hate him? "Hypothetically speaking, of course. What would you do?"
Another long silence followed. "I'd give it up for adoption," she said at length.
Of course. Scully was too Catholic to even consider abortion, no matter how much she hated him. However... "You'd deprive me of my own child?"
"You're not fit to raise a child!"
Her angry words stung, even though he knew she was right. He'd never even entertained the idea of reproducing; no way in hell was he equipped to raise a child, even if he wanted to. "But you are," he said. "Why wouldn't you? Because you're not ready to have a child? Or because it's mine?"
Again she was silent for a moment. "I'm going to die, Alex," she said softly. "Why on earth would I want to bring a child into a world where it'll be alone? If I even survive the pregnancy."
"You don't have to die."
"Can you guarantee that I won't?"
Krycek turned toward her, surprised. "Are you asking?"
His mind raced while she hesitated. Part of him desperately wanted her to say yes. That would mean that she finally believed him, maybe trusted him a little. Besides, the deal depended on her staying alive and healthy.
On the other hand, he wasn't ready. If she said yes, he couldn't deliver on his promise yet. He still hadn't been able to track down the person who could arrange for the cure, and he wasn't even sure that person would agree to make a deal with him, especially the deal he would be asking for. If Scully asked and he told her he couldn't deliver yet, she'd never trust him again, and then she certainly would die.
She sighed again. "Doesn't matter. There's nothing to ask for anyway."
"What if there was?" he asked, pushing to the side the extremely mixed feelings her statement kicked up. "What if you weren't going to die and you got pregnant? Would you still give it up?"
Again she took her time answering. When she finally did, there was a definite tremor in her voice. "I can handle this deal for now," she said, "but when it's over, I don't want to have anything around reminding me of it. Nothing, not one little thing. No matter how I feel about that thing, it would always bring all this back, and I don't think I can handle that. Besides, it's not fair to bring a child into a relationship like this, if you could even call it that. Children should have parents who love them and each other."
Three things suddenly became crystal clear to Krycek. First, Dana Scully desperately wanted a child. Second, she hated him even more than she wanted a child. Third, somewhere deep down inside, a tiny little part of him felt extraordinarily guilty about doing this to her. "In short, you'd give it up because it's mine," he said.
Scully didn't answer, but curled up a little tighter.
"I'm sorry," he offered, a bit surprised to find that he meant it.
"I just bet you are."
"No, Dana, I really am sorry..."
"Go to hell, Alex!"
So much for the mindfuck. Trying to banish that tiny stab of guilt once and for all, he turned on his side and punched the pillow, resigned to what would probably be a sleepless night.
It wasn't enough that Krycek spent the next morning trying desperately not to think about just how effective his mindfuck had been. It wasn't enough that he knew he overcompensated for feeling uncomfortable about what was going on. No, Scully had to lay on the guilt trip, too. What other reason could there be for the suitcase in the living room?
He returned to the apartment after a morning excursion to find the suitcase sitting by the door, and Scully nowhere in sight. That could mean one of two things. Either she was throwing him out, or she was leaving. But wouldn't she dump all his stuff back into his own duffel bag if she were throwing him out? And if she were the one leaving...
"Thought I heard you out here," Scully said from the hallway. "I was wondering where you were."
Krycek looked up, momentarily startled. "Out," he said flatly.
"Well, at least you're back now. I won't have to leave a note."
Leave a note? "Going somewhere, Dana?"
"As a matter of fact, I am." She moved further into the living room and picked up her purse. "Those little snippets of information you've been giving out are starting to make some sense to Mulder. We're going to check some of it out."
A business trip. Perfectly normal and to be expected. Krycek heaved a silent sigh of relief. "Do you really have to go with him?"
Scully sighed heavily. "This isn't just his work, you know, Alex. It's my work too. It's my quest too. It wouldn't be right if I didn't go, and --"
Eyes downcast, she bit her lip and said quietly, "And I think I need to go. I need to get away for a few days."
"Get away..." he repeated slowly. "From me?"
She said nothing.
<Dammit, I knew I was going to push her too far...> "Is my presence here really that oppressive?"
"You're always *here*!" she burst out. "My home isn't my own anymore. Every time I turn around, here you are. Always, always, always here."
"Where else am I supposed to go?" he asked quietly.
"Anywhere! Just... somewhere else!"
"I thought we discussed this when the deal started."
"The deal --" She stopped and took a deep breath. "Look, I just need some time to myself. You have all day to yourself. I have to spend every day with Mulder, and every night and weekend with you. I never have any private time anymore, and I need that."
"So of course you go away with Mulder."
"I don't sleep with him!" Scully snapped.
Krycek could see his whole carefully constructed deal blowing up in his face. She'd go away, spend a few days under Mulder's influence, tell him about the deal... "What makes you think you'll get any private time with him?" he asked. "When you go away on cases, how much time does he let you spend alone? How long does he let you sleep? Does he listen if you tell him to go work in his own room?"
"If I ask him to give me space," Scully said quietly, "he does." She came a step closer and looked up at him. "Alex, I just need a break. Just for a few days. I need... to think, to get my head together. That's all. You can understand that, can't you?"
<Think. Get your head together. Realize what you're doing and end the deal...> "You won't... The deal..." He let his voice trail off, unable to find the words to ask what he really wanted to know.
"The deal will benefit from me having some time alone," she said. "Once I have a chance to think about it, and see what comes of the information you passed along, I'll be better able to look at the deal objectively and decide what I want."
<Like bagging the whole thing?> Krycek's eyes met Scully's. "And what do you want?"
"Right now, some time to myself. After that... I don't know yet."
It sounded like she was still committed to the deal, but there was no telling what a few days with Mulder would do to her mind set. "How long?" he asked.
"I'm not sure. Mulder thinks three or four days."
Three or four days of nothing but Mulder, without him there to keep her focused. And there was no way to keep her from going.
Well, maybe a little distance was a good thing. It would give her time to get over their discussion of the previous night. Time to realize that she missed the deal encounters. Time to realize how good the deal was for her, on so many levels...
And time to tell Mulder all about it. There was just no way around that.
Then again, she could've told Mulder about the deal at any time since it started. She hadn't. Why would she tell him now? Unless Mulder came to the wrong conclusions about the information he'd gotten, and they decided that it was worthless. Not a likely occurrence, but possible. More than possible. In fact, unless Scully was 100% committed to the deal, pretty damned likely. And he had no way of knowing just how committed she was.
Krycek bit his lip and swore mentally. He really had no choice but to trust her. "Maybe you're right," he sighed. "Maybe a vacation from each other wouldn't be a bad idea." He moved away from the door, allowing Scully access to her suitcase. "Have a nice trip."
She slowly moved forward and picked it up. "Thank you, Alex," she said quietly. "I really do need this." She opened the door. "See you in a couple of days, then."
"Yeah, see ya. Happy hunting."
He waited until he was sure she was in the elevator before he slammed his fist against the wall and started swearing in Russian.
Scully sighed and rolled over in bed for about the twentieth time in the last hour. It was the same that night as it had been the previous two nights of the trip -- little or no sleep.
It wasn't that she couldn't sleep. Mulder's agenda was chock-full of activity, between the traveling, the official visits to various clinics, corporations, or whatever, and the unofficial, nocturnal ones. By the time he dismissed her each night, she was dead tired, and usually fell asleep almost immediately. The problem was the dreams.
The dreams... highly erotic dreams, some based on memory, some entirely original, but always involving Alex Krycek. Krycek and the things he'd done to her, the things her subconscious wished he'd do to her, the things he made her feel... She awoke from these dreams highly aroused, needing release, reaching across the bed toward the man who could give that to her...
But the other side of the bed was always empty.
Then she'd remember that she was on the road and Krycek was at home, and no release was forthcoming unless she took care of it herself. She thought about doing it, thought hard, and even caught her hand straying between her legs at one point, but then the memory of what had happened the last time she did that hit her and she had to stop. Krycek wasn't with her to finish it like he had the last time, which was what she really wanted, so what was the point? She could wait until she got home.
Still, the dreams made her wonder. Was she really so obsessed that she couldn't even go away on a case without the deal -- and Krycek -- invading her thoughts? Was she in so deep that she couldn't even sleep anymore without dreaming about him? She never dreamed about him when she was home... but at home, he would be right next to her, ready and willing to help her out should she have an erotic dream. Did she only want him so much now because she couldn't have him?
No, she had to admit to herself, she wanted him that much even sitting right next to him. But she rarely propositioned him until she was desperate. Why? Krycek obviously wanted her to take advantage of the deal more often. He never disappointed her. Why shouldn't she indulge her desires whenever she wanted? She had the opportunity. She got information each time, too. There was really no reason *not* to indulge whenever the need struck, was there?
None at all, she told herself. Up until now, she'd been thinking of her arrangement with Krycek as his deal. Well, it was hers too. She was an equal partner. She was giving him what he wanted; it was time she got what she really wanted from him, on her own terms.
Things would change when she got home. Things would definitely change.
Scully rolled over again, and fell into a deep, restful sleep.
Krycek bolted awake, gasping for breath, his heart pounding so hard in his chest he thought it would explode. His eyes darted around wildly, recognizing nothing at first. He sat there in bed, panting and clutching his chest, until the terror of the dream began to fade and the familiarity of the room started to register.
<A dream,> he told himself. <Just a dream, only a dream, like all the others...>
Except that it wasn't quite like all the others.
Krycek was no stranger to nightmares, especially over the last few years. Rare was the night that he didn't relive at least part of one of his recent traumas. In his dreams, he sometimes didn't make it out of the car before it blew up. Nobody rescued him from the silo. The Russian peasants didn't stop at cutting off just his arm.
This nightmare was probably about the forest, though he couldn't tell for sure. The horrific images from the dreams usually haunted him for a while after waking, but this one was clouded. He couldn't remember exactly what it was about, but assumed it had to be about the forest because the lingering image, the one he did remember, was of a long knife, red with fresh blood.
Most times the nightmares didn't hit him with as much force as this one had. He usually woke fairly quietly, not even making enough noise to wake Scully, and lay awake for an hour or so until he was able to fall asleep again. It had been a while since he'd awakened screaming from one of the things; probably not since he was in the hospital in Russia. This nightmare was one of the bad ones, like he had then.
Except that it wasn't quite the same as the dreams from those weeks in the hospital. Those were clear, this one was not. And this one felt... older, somehow; the terror even more visceral than that in the forest dreams.
As his heartbeat eased and his breathing gradually slowed back to normal, Krycek turned the dream over in his mind. He couldn't remember anything but the bloody knife. A really big bloody knife... just like the one the peasants had used to saw through his shoulder joint. This nightmare had to be about the forest; couldn't be anything else. He was only three months removed from that trauma; it was the dominant one in his dreams over that time. His shoulder throbbed now as it usually did after a forest nightmare. The only other experiences he'd had with knives were minor things, not even worth nightmares at the time they happened. So it just had to be about the forest. But why was it so fuzzy?
<Knock it off,> he told himself. <'Bout damn time those forest dreams got fuzzy.>
The forest dreams didn't usually cause headaches, but he had awakened with a nasty one. With a groan he stumbled out of bed and to the bathroom, where he washed down three aspirin and splashed cold water on his face. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, and stood up straight to look more closely.
He looked, he decided, like hell. Looked like a man with a painful shoulder and a pounding headache. Looked like a man who hadn't slept in days.
And he hadn't. His nights had been restless since right before Scully left. Because she wasn't there? Or because his disturbing thoughts were?
His thoughts, he had to admit, weren't pleasant companions. During the day he could keep busy, distracting himself from them well enough, but at night, without Scully around to play with, tease, have sex with, or even just talk to, he couldn't escape. In the wee hours, all the glaring mistakes he'd already made with the deal stared him right in the face... and those were the easy thoughts to handle.
The mistakes were one thing. The consequences thereof were something else. By this time he'd pretty much resigned himself to being thrown out, arrested, or maybe killed when Scully came back from her trip. He'd pushed her too far that last night; she'd definitely tell Mulder now. Why would she come back just to continue sleeping with somebody who picked open old wounds every time they talked? By now Mulder would have the full story. If Scully were successful in restraining her partner, Krycek would only be arrested. If not...
Even if Krycek managed to stay alive, Mulder would probably be dead, or close to it, and that would definitely push Scully away forever. That didn't bear thinking about, but late at night, he couldn't keep the thoughts at bay.
And when he did manage to escape into sleep, the traumas his conscious mind could bury surfaced to menace him.
Krycek sighed heavily and made his way back to bed. There was no way in hell he could get back to sleep now, but according to the clock, it was only 3:47 a.m. Too late to go out, too early to get up. He didn't have much choice but to lie there staring at the ceiling for another couple of hours. Stare at the ceiling and try not to think about anything at all.
It must have worked. The next thing he knew, he was opening his eyes to a room that was flooded with sunlight, and the clock read 9:33 a.m. He had slept, but didn't feel rested. His shoulder felt better, but he still had a headache; not as bad as it had been, but still there. And his mind still insisted on presenting topics he didn't want to deal with.
The only way to shut his mind down, he figured, was through work. Not his own; that required mental input, and was on hold pending research anyway. Physical work would give him something to concentrate on, with the added benefit of exhausting him so maybe he could get to sleep later without the damn nightmares. So he threw himself into a thorough cleaning of the apartment: scrubbing tiles and floors, dusting and vacuuming, washing windows and curtains, polishing every wood surface he could find.
The work was calming, bring back pleasant memories he hadn't thought of in years; memories of giving his grandmother a hand with the very same tasks, a lifetime ago. That brought a smile to his face. Wouldn't it blow Scully's mind, hearing those stories? And if he told her his grandmother's pet names for him...
But she'd never hear the stories. It didn't even matter that she wouldn't want to hear them, or that Krycek wasn't about to tell her. No, as soon as she came home, he'd be out the door, one way or another.
The work took most of the day, and achieved its purpose. By the time he was finished, he could just about manage a shower and some microwaved leftovers before collapsing on the sofa to watch a hockey game. It wasn't long before he dozed off.
He never heard the key rattling in the lock.
Scully stood outside her apartment door, keys in hand but curiously unable to use them. After the way she'd left a few days ago, she was a little afraid to face Krycek. She knew what she wanted now, but the sex was the easy part. Could she really push aside all the other ways he made her uncomfortable -- ways brought into sharp focus the night before she left -- just for the sex?
The low-level arousal that had been simmering through most of the trip kicked up a notch. Yeah, the sex was worth it. Besides, if she put in a little effort, she could probably give as good as she got with the mind games.
Not only that; right now she just needed to get laid. Mulder had noticed her distraction during the trip, especially toward the end, but had refrained from saying anything until the flight home. Even then, he was surprisingly discreet, asking only, "First separation?" She was a little embarrassed that she'd been so obvious, but Mulder seemed okay with it. He didn't bother her further, just left her with the thoughts of acting out one or more of the many erotic dreams she'd had.
With all her thoughts of sex, it really didn't occur to her until she was outside her apartment that there might -- should -- be lingering discomfort over the discussion she and Krycek had had the night before she left. The idea that he'd use her infertility against her did still bother her, but she could deal with it. Better not to let him see how much he got to her, anyway. After a few days, she was able to put the discussion in perspective. The question was, how would Krycek handle it?
Having already drawn blood on that issue, he'd probably ignore it. Never mention it again. That suited Scully just fine. Besides, she could easily distract him from it if the need should arise...
So she unlocked the door, just about at the point where she might just jump him and rip his clothes off... but she found him asleep on the sofa, the television providing background noise. She closed the door, dropped her suitcase, kicked off her shoes, and hung up her coat, and he didn't move. She removed her suit jacket too, and came around to the front of the sofa.
She'd never really watched him sleep before, and was struck by the innocence she saw in his face. No crafty looks now. No deceit in his eyes. Like this, he could be just anybody. A very sexy just anybody.
Maybe jumping him wasn't a bad idea after all...
Almost as if he had heard her, Krycek stirred. His eyes opened slowly and he blinked a few times when he saw Scully standing in front of him. "Hi," she offered.
"Hi." He sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes. "Didn't expect you back till tomorrow."
"Well, here I am." She glanced at the television. "Who's ahead?"
Krycek studied the screen for a moment. "Rangers over Caps, three to one. Figures." He swung his legs down to the floor and shut the TV off. "So, was the hunt successful?"
"Pretty much. We couldn't put much together, but we saw enough to convince Mulder that my informant's on the level."
"And that's what we want, right?"
"Right. He stopped saying the information's useless; now he just wants to know when I'll have more."
"Well, that's up to you..."
"Oh, I know." Krycek was staring at her now, that intense look driving her arousal up yet again. "In fact, I've come to a decision about that."
"Yes." Scully took a deep breath. "I think maybe the fact-finding missions might become a little more frequent..."
"Fact-finding missions?" He grinned at her. "Sounds like a plan to me..."
Krycek's voice trailed off as he continued to stare at her. Not at her face, but at her shoulder. "Is that what I think it is?" he asked.
She let her gaze follow his, finally resting on the open collar of her blouse, through which her bra strap was visible. She'd almost forgotten that she took his gift with her, and that she was wearing it now. A plan suddenly started to form in her mind. Desperate as she was, she could wait a little longer for sex. Not much longer, but a little. Besides, turning the tables and teasing him for once might be even more fun. "Depends on what you think it is," she said lightly.
"C'mon, Dana, that bra strap looks awfully familiar. I think I remember seeing it for the first time in Nieman Marcus..."
"You swore you'd never wear it for me."
"Who says I'm wearing it for you? It was just about the only clean lingerie in the room when I was packing, so I took it with me. No big deal." She moved a little closer to him. "By the way, it's very comfortable."
"See, I knew you'd like it." He sat up a little straighter. "Okay, great, that's the strap there. Is the rest under there too?"
Scully smiled. So he wanted to play too. "Yes, of course there's more," she said, fingering the collar of her blouse.
"Do I get to see it?"
She hadn't planned on letting him see her in his gift, but as long as he was playing along, what was the harm? "Sure, why not?" She undid two more buttons. "Here's more..."
Krycek sat forward a little, a playful gleam in his green eyes. "Can I touch it?"
"Touch *it*? Or touch what's underneath?"
"You want me to touch what's underneath?"
That was one thing she had to say for Krycek -- he stuck to the deal. He'd play with her, but only on her initiation. It might be fun to see how long she could make him wait... She untucked her blouse from her skirt, unbuttoned it all the way, and let it fall. "What do you think?"
He leaned forward a little more, the playful look in his eyes now turning predatory. He lifted a hand to reach for her, but dropped it a second later. "I think I need to see the other piece too."
On an objective level, she had to applaud his restraint. This little game was having the unexpected effect of arousing her as much as it was apparently arousing him, and right about now she wanted him to touch her; wanted the feel of his hands or his mouth, rather than the silk, on her breasts. She wasn't sure she'd have the same restraint if their situations were reversed. "You want to touch what's under the other piece, too?" she asked, suddenly a little sorry that she hadn't just jumped him when she walked in.
"You know what I want to do to what's under that... if you want me to..."
<Yes! Yes!> her mind screamed, but she managed to hold herself in check. "Guess I'd better show you, then." She peeled off her pantyhose, dropped her skirt around her ankles and kicked it away, then struck a pose. "Like what you see?"
By the look in his eyes, she knew he did. "Oh, yeah," he sighed. "Can I touch it now?"
She moved a few steps closer. "Sure." He reached out, but she slapped his hand away and straddled him on the sofa. "But not with your hands." She entwined her fingers in his dark hair, pulled him closer to her and kissed him hungrily, all the while grinding herself against him. She'd never dry-humped anyone in her life, but it felt so good after those long days and nights of no contact at all. She felt him growing harder underneath her, and wondered if he could feel through their clothing how wet she was. It briefly occurred to her that the moisture her body was producing probably wasn't the best thing in the world for the silk, but the contact felt much too good to break for even a second.
Taking her actions as the invitation they were meant to be, Krycek slid his arms around her and reached for her bra hook. Not quite finished with her game, Scully drew back from him and caught his hands in hers. "You can touch what's underneath," she purred, "but not with your hands and not until I say you can." She reached around, unhooked the bra herself, and let it fall from her shoulders. Momentarily breaking contact with his groin, she shed her panties too, then straddled him again. She nibbled at his ear, then whispered, "Touch me if you want."
The good thing about a man who gave a lot of directions was that he also knew how to follow them. Dipping his mouth to her breast, he laved the nipple as she slowly rubbed herself against him again, relishing the feel of denim against her clit. "Oh, yes," she murmured. "Feels so good..."
He turned his attention to her other breast as his arms snaked around her and caressed the small of her back. She threw her head back and reveled in the sensations coursing through her, feeling deliciously decadent as she rubbed her naked self against her clothed partner's body. He pulled her closer and kissed her again, his hands roaming down her back and over her ass.
Wonderful as the contact felt, it wasn't enough. She wanted and needed him inside her, and she'd thought that the deal had progressed far enough by now that he'd know enough to take the hint. She ran her tongue around his ear and purred, "Is this all you want?"
"You know what I want. Is this all *you* want?" he countered. She gasped as he gently bit her nipple. "No... God, no... need more..."
He nipped at the other nipple. "More what?"
"More... more... oh, God, Alex, are you gonna fuck me or what?"
His tongue traced a trail from the hollow between her breasts up to her lips. "If you insist," he said lightly, reaching for his zipper.
Before his hands could get down far enough to really distract her, she stopped him. "Allow me." Trying not to betray her eagerness too much, she pulled gently at his zipper, but her fingers couldn't seem to get a firm hold on it and she ended up yanking it down. She could've just opened his fly a little and opened up his boxers, but flesh to cloth contact wasn't good enough anymore; she needed to feel his skin against hers. She slipped her arms around behind him and nudged, and he took the hint and lifted a little, allowing her to slide jeans and boxers part way down his legs; far enough that she wouldn't be sitting on cloth at all. She straddled him again and pressed close against him, trapping his erection between their bodies. Figuring that he'd probably take over, she kissed him greedily and whispered, "Any time now..."
"Any time, what?" he asked, kissing her shoulder, her neck, her ear.
What the hell did he think? "You can start any time now..."
He laughed lightly. "This seems to be your show. Why don't you fuck me for a change?"
Take charge? "I don't... I can't..."
"You can," he breathed into her ear. "Don't think, just do it."
She was just desperate enough to do it. She closed her eyes and emptied her mind of everything but what she was feeling, letting her body take over. It didn't matter that she'd never really taken charge before, didn't matter that she'd never done it like this except in a bed, with a prone, not sitting, partner; her body knew what to do. She raised herself up, positioned his rock-hard penis at her entrance, and slowly sank down on it. Despite how wet and ready she was, she found the entry slightly difficult, more so than at any other time they'd had sex; even a tiny bit painful. She felt tighter in this position, and knew he felt it too by his long, low groan as she impaled herself on him. She pushed down a little harder and finally sank down all the way, taking him deeply inside her body with a soft moan.
Her favorite part of the sex under this deal (besides the orgasms, of course) was always the first thrust, the first moment he was fully inside her. That moment was especially delicious now. She sat motionless, just enjoying the glorious fullness of having him inside. She was definitely tighter this way; she barely had to squeeze at all to feel every topographical detail of his penis, and it felt utterly fabulous. She squeezed harder, drawing a sharp gasp from Krycek.
"D...do something," he hissed. "Move..."
She hooked her arms around his neck and raised up a little. "Ohhh, yeah, like that..." he breathed. "Good, so good..."
She groaned as she lowered herself again, but stopped there. Wonderful as the friction was, she needed to feel him fully inside for as long as she could, and that wasn't going to happen if she continued the way she'd started.
It took a moment before she realized that her body was moving again, rocking gently, keeping him inside yet still providing some friction. She shifted position slightly, and was rewarded by contact between her clit and the base of his shaft. This wasn't quite what she wanted, but it would do; it would more than do for now. She pulled him closer, licked around the rim of his ear, and whispered, "Didja miss me?"
He gave a quick upward thrust that sent a shiver of pleasure through her. "Miss me?" he countered.
"Missed this..." She squeezed hard with her internal muscles, drawing a cry from him that she silenced with her tongue in his mouth.
"Never... woulda guessed," he panted.
His hands settled on her hips now, rocking her faster, directing her movement, taking back some of the control he'd given to her. She could feel him growing larger inside her, throbbing, and she wanted to scream at him. <Not yet, not yet, you can't come yet, it's not enough yet, I need more!> she mentally railed, but she knew it wouldn't be long for her, either. Pressure was steadily building up inside her, and it wouldn't take much now to make her explode...
She pulled herself even closer to him, intensifying the friction against her clit, when without warning her orgasm hit; waves of pleasure rippling through her lower body. The rhythmic spasms of her climax sent him over the edge too, and with a groan he released his warm flood deep inside her.
They remained like that for a while, motionless except for Scully squeezing his softening organ in an effort to keep it hard, until Krycek gently nudged at her. Realizing what he meant, she got up very reluctantly and started gathering her clothing. It wasn't enough. She could still walk, a definite sign that it wasn't enough. Her orgasm hadn't been as satisfying as it could've been. She wanted one... or more... of those mind-blowing, total-body, screaming orgasms she tended to have when he was the one in control. He had just told her she was done for now, but she wasn't finished yet. Not after four days. Not by a long shot.
"Now, aren't you glad you didn't return that gift?"
Krycek's voice sounded sleepy, and she turned to find that he'd already zipped up and was stretched out again, the way he'd been when she walked in. She'd let him relax if that was what he really wanted, but as soon as he was recharged and she was ready again...
She brushed past the sofa on her way into the bedroom. "If I'd known that was going to happen, I would've worn it sooner," she said, loud enough for him to hear. She dumped the now hopelessly wrinkled clothing onto the chair, slipped into her robe, and went back out, suddenly realizing how hungry she was. "I'm going to grab something to eat," she called from the kitchen. "You hungry?"
"Alex?" she called again. "Want anything to eat?"
When she still got no answer, Scully went back out to the living room, where she found Krycek dead asleep on the sofa. "Figures," she sighed. "The one time I *want* him to be awake after sex..."
So she ate, cleaned up, and then sat down with a book, waiting for him to wake up. But the words on the page didn't seem to make sense, and after realizing that she'd been staring at the same page for more than a half hour, she gave up and closed the book. She tried to watch television, hoping to either distract herself or wake him up, but that didn't work either. Instead of concentrating on the program, she found herself sending mental <wake up wake up wake up> vibes in Krycek's direction. He didn't, and it finally occurred to her that if she wanted to be able to sleep later, she was going to have to wake him up now.
Scully leaned forward in her chair, studying him, and was suddenly overcome with desire so strong it was almost painful. It took all the self-control she possessed not to jump on him and rip his clothes off. If he'd been awake, she would have. As it was, she could only stare, sitting on her hands to make sure they wouldn't stray between her legs. She hadn't relieved that tension herself while she'd been away; she certainly wouldn't do it with her own personal sex slave lying right there in front of her.
"Oh, God, how did this happen?" she sighed. "Why you, Alex Krycek? Why do I want you so badly? With all the awful things you've done, with all the other men out there in the world, why are you the one I can't keep my hands off?"
Deep down, she already knew the answer to that. To her knowledge, he hadn't done anything awful in the weeks he'd been with her. All he'd done was rock her world. Rock it? He changed her world, changed *her*. He was the one man in her world who forced her to face her sexuality; brought out a side of her she never knew she had. A side she didn't especially like, but one that craved attention after lying dormant for so long. Yes, she still knew intellectually that he was a liar, traitor, and murderer, but her personal experience with him earned him a different title; one she didn't want to bestow on him, but one he richly deserved.
She immediately shook that thought out of her head. Not lover, he could never truly be her lover. Not with his history, not with the kind of relationship they had. She wouldn't allow it. What, then? What did you call someone you wouldn't give the time of day to on the street, but couldn't get enough of in bed?
"Business partner," Scully said firmly, slowly moving toward the sofa. "It's a business deal, *his* deal, and there's no reason why I shouldn't take full advantage of it." With that she knelt next to the sofa and started nibbling gently on his ear.
It took a few moments for her action to register. Krycek came awake with a start, and it took him a moment to orient himself and realize what was going on. By that time she was no longer licking his ear. She had his zipper open and was already coaxing his penis back to life. "Dana, what are you doing?"
"It's only been four days. Did you forget already?" she cooed.
"No, but -- ahhhh... God, you oughta do this more often..."
"This? Or... *this*?"
He gasped harshly. "That... all of it... Something... something happened to you while you were away..."
"Something happened to you too. You don't usually fall asleep on the job like this." She took her hand off him. "Aren't you glad to see me?"
Now he turned his full attention to her. "What, did I forget to say 'welcome home' while you were doing that python squeeze on my cock?"
"You could've shown a little enthusiasm," she pouted. "And with that control thing of yours --"
"I do not have a 'control thing'," he interrupted.
"Of course you do. Look, all I'm saying is, I don't feel I got my effort's worth for deal purposes."
Now he laughed at her. "You came, didn't you?"
Krycek sighed. "I had a rough day, okay?"
She stroked him lightly again. "Are you telling me no? I don't think you're allowed to do that..."
"My deal," he murmured, relaxing into her gentle massage. "My rules..."
"Well, here's *my* rule," Scully said. "You led me to believe you'd never say no, so if you do, this deal's over. Got it?"
He slowly focused on her again. "You *have* changed. What the hell did Mulder do to you?"
"It has nothing to do with Mulder. It's all about you, Comrade Krycek. I thought you'd be glad that I'm finally taking your deal to heart."
A slow smile spread across his face. "I guess it is all about me, isn't it? You must've missed me an awful lot these last four days..."
Abruptly she stopped fondling him and stood up. "Like you said, it's your deal. Seems to me you ought to be the one doing the work. If you'd like to let me know how glad you are that I'm home, I'll be in the bedroom." She strode down the hall, not at all certain that Krycek would follow her.
He made her wait just long enough to think that he wasn't coming, long enough for her to start wondering how firmly she stood behind her rule. The sex this time was exactly the way she wanted it -- fast and hard. Her two orgasms were just as explosive as they usually were, and from what she could tell, his was equally so.
When it was over, and they could breathe again, he spoke. "Comrade, Dana?"
She laughed softly. "It was the only thing that came to mind on the spur of the moment. Bothers you?"
He sighed heavily. "Well, nobody in my family was ever a card- carrying communist, but if that's what you want to call me, I don't suppose I can stop you."
Had she irritated a nerve there? "Tell you what. I'll come up with a better pet name for you when you tell me what yours for me means."
"Uh-huh." He turned over on his side. "G'night, plamennaya malyishka."
Krycek was just starting to drift off to sleep when he heard Scully's voice again. "Alex?"
<Not again,> he mentally groaned. <The one night I want to sleep, can't you just leave me alone?> "Mmm?"
"The video that you made..."
That was enough to wake him up again. He'd been wondering when she was going to say something about it. Why now? "Yeah, what about it?" he asked with some trepidation.
"How'd you do it? I never saw a camera anywhere."
That was definitely not the first question he expected to hear. He hadn't really expected questions at all, just a tirade. What was she getting at? "It's on the top shelf of your closet, so you probably couldn't see it. The lens is on top of the molding around the door. It's also all really, really small -- you'd be surprised what they're doing with electronics these days. Surveillance-type camera... picture was surprisingly good, wasn't it?"
"Very good picture," Scully agreed amiably. "How'd you control it? The tape started when we hit the bedroom. Is it motion-sensitive or something?"
Krycek shook his head and held up the small remote control that he kept behind the lamp on the bedside table. "Remote. I'm surprised you never noticed this, or saw me pick it up that first night."
"I had... other things to concentrate on that night." She took the remote and inspected it. "Is that was this thing is for? I did see it, but I guess I never thought to ask about it. Very clever."
He put the remote back in its place. "It serves its purpose."
"And what is that purpose? Why'd you make the tape?"
There was the expected question. "You're a smart lady, Dana," Krycek said. "You tell me why I made the tape."
She was silent for a moment. Then, softly, "You made it in case I told Mulder what happened. To prove that... what I said that night wasn't true."
He smiled to himself. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner."
"Was that the only reason?"
"Use your head here, Dana. What's the obvious purpose of a tape like that?"
"I thought you preferred live stimuli to the visual kind," she huffed indignantly.
"Oh, I do; no question about that," he assured her. "But sometimes... in a pinch... And at those times, I much prefer homemade videos to the professional ones. Memory is a powerful, powerful thing..."
He felt her shudder beside him. Yeah, she knew about memory, didn't she? And what homemade videos could do to a person...
"You left it out on purpose, didn't you?" Her voice was low, husky. "To... encourage me. You arranged for me to see it."
On purpose? Well... it had been a calculated risk... "Actually, that was an honest mistake," Krycek said smoothly. "I meant to put it back; I just forgot. Why would I leave it out on purpose? I figured you'd go through the roof if you saw it. I never in a million years expected to see --"
"What did you see?" she broke in, very quietly.
What did he see? Only a wet dream come to life.
He had opened the door the first time several minutes earlier than she thought he had. She'd been much too engrossed in what she was doing to hear him, and for that he was extremely grateful. The sounds; the cries, moans and sighs coming from the television and the sofa, had stopped him dead in his tracks. He had crept further into the room, far enough to get a good view of the sofa, and what he saw there was something he'd never, ever forget. The very sight of Dana Scully half naked on her sofa, wantonly masturbating to a video of herself having sex with him was very nearly enough to send him over the edge, without even touching himself. It took every bit of strength he possessed not to touch himself or her, and to tear his eyes away from the sofa before something happened that he didn't want. He had been pretty sure that leaving the tape out would push her into starting the deal, but never in his wildest dreams did he think she'd approach it *that* way. He knew he'd blow it if she saw him, so he exited the apartment, got himself somewhat under control, and came back in, making sure to announce himself the second time. "Not much," he told her. "You heard me come in. I didn't see any more than you know I did."
"Mmm-hmm, right. Well, there is something I have to say about that video..."
He tensed, knowing that the expected tirade was imminent. How far would she go? Would she really throw him out over a stupid video? He drew in a deep breath, waiting.
"I liked it very, very much," he heard her say. "Let's make more."
He choked on that deep breath, and spent the next three minutes coughing. When he could breathe again he asked, as calmly as he could manage, "Could you repeat that, please?"
"I said..." He could almost hear the smirk in her voice. "...that I liked it very much and I want to make more."
Yup, she had indeed said what he thought she said. She really was taking the deal to heart. Krycek smiled to himself, almost ready to grab the remote and turn on the camera, but the time wasn't right. He'd have to confirm this with her some other time; make sure she really meant it. Besides, he wasn't up for another round. "Not tonight, okay? I really do need to sleep."
Scully laughed softly. "No, not tonight. But I'm just wondering..."
When she didn't elaborate, he prompted her. "Wondering...?"
"...if you taped when you used the blindfold. I'd like to see just what you did."
He couldn't help but laugh. Who was this woman? Certainly not the Dana Scully who'd fought him tooth and nail on every aspect of the deal. "I'll leave that one out for you tomorrow, okay?"
"Thank you. Are there any more?"
"Nope, that's it. For now."
He heard a throaty chuckle. "That's too bad. But we'll fix that, won't we? Just not tonight."
"Right, not tonight."
"Soon, soon. Good night, Alex."
"G'night." Krycek rolled over from his side onto his back, and almost immediately fell into a deep, mercifully dreamless sleep.
Note - "plamennaya malyishka" translates literally to "little fiery one." Krycek's English translation is slightly different. He'll share it when he's ready ;-)
Continued in Parts 7-12