will-1) used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent; 2) used to express determination, insistence, persistence or willfulness; 3) used to express futurity; 4) a choice or determination of one having authority or power; 5) mental powers manifested as wishing, choosing, intending or desiring.
It started . . . I . . . he was the only person I recognized. Spender's father, my father, drove me all night, through the flash and wave of streetlights, over hill and vale so to speak, and stopped me in front of this house, this perfect suburban house full of food I liked and creature comforts I had never thought I wanted.
He told me I could leave, that I could drive away immediately, that the chains would come off as soon as I didn't want to leave any more-he told me a thousand things. My father is the prince of liars. I didn't know what to believe when he got out of the car and walked away. So I went in. I stayed that first night because I was tired.
It's funny how you can used to something so quickly, something that should remain foreign, alien in the worst sense of the term, separate. I went to sleep that night in a chair in front of the television set still shackled at the wrist. I don't know why I didn't take a hammer to them-they weren't heavy-duty maximum security cuffs, just the light restraints we put on prisoners to let them know we can-but I didn't. I opened a bag of sunflower seeds with two hands and ate them by dumping them on my chest and picking them up one at a time like a bad imitation of a chipmunk, and then I drifted off in front of the Late Show. A typical Mulder evening at home.
The noise woke me.
Nothing big, just the sound of another person moving around in a house I was supposed to have all to myself. Footsteps on the kitchen linoleum, the push of air as the door swung open, and I was on my feet, hands tangled together, groping for a gun I no longer had.
"What the *fuck* are you doing here?"
"Hey, Mulder," he said. "Ever think of locking the door?"
"I've had other things on my mind."
"You've had everything on your mind from what I hear."
"Funny. What are you doing here, Krycek?"
He leaned against the doorframe, smiling. "Me? I'm the babysitter."
"They told me I can leave whenever I want."
"Then what are you for?"
He shrugged. "You can leave whenever you want, Mulder, but if you choose to stay, you might need some help." He nodded at my hands.
"You have the key?"
"If you ask nicely."
"I get it, Krycek. I get the key only if I stay."
He made a gun of his thumb and forefinger and shot me. "Nothing gets by you, Mulder."
"What's to stop me from getting the key, and then leaving?"
"Besides your imminent and impending death? Be my guest. I'm just saying you might want to check out life before you get busy dying."
"You're just saying."
"It's a nice vacation to the suburbs for me, Mulder. I don't care what you do."
"Uh huh," I said, sinking back into the recliner.
That was two weeks ago.
I'm not sure why I stayed. I slept in the recliner in front of the t.v., I sat on the porch and watched people go by, I ate sunflower seeds, I read bad novels. I did not call Scully, or Skinner, or anyone else who could have come and got me, and I did not get into the car and drive anywhere, although the keys were hung on a hook near the door leading out to the garage. I did stare at the phone though, wondering if it would ring, wondering why it seemed too heavy to lift. Alex caught me on the third day.
"If it's not cellular it's not the same, Mulder?" he asked.
"I . . . shut up."
"You can call her if you want. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you. In fact, I'm sure she's tearing her fucking hair out trying to find you."
"Shut up, Alex." I said.
He snorted. "You'd do anything to protect her, wouldn't you?"
I looked away from the phone, into his killer's eyes. I would. I would do anything, even this, even disappearing, if it meant something for her. "I love her," I said.
"Love her less and treat her better," he said, and laughed when I lunged at him.
Alex slept in a bedroom on the first floor. "All the better to hear you, my dear," he said, when I asked him why. That night I walked past his open door on the way to get a glass of water. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, his back to me, rubbing some kind of ointment on what was left of his arm. His shirt was off, and I could see the red marks from the prosthesis. I must have made some sound, because he turned quickly, the way a cat will when you interrupt it grooming, and glared at me.
"What do you want, Mulder?" he asked.
I shrugged. I almost dropped the glass because it was slippery with sweat.
A few nights later, I woke to the click of the t.v. going off.
"I like it on," I said.
"C'mon, Mulder, enough. It's three in the morning. Go to fucking *bed* for a change."
He hauled me up with his one hand on my bicep, and propelled me into the guest bedroom, onto the clean white sheets. I fell back, willing enough to lie there, but I wrenched away, almost falling off the side of the bed when he leaned over, his face close to mine.
"What the fuck, Krycek!"
He looked at me slantways, then laughed.
"I'm untucking the sheets, you ass," he said. He turned off the light, shaking his head. "Go to sleep, Mulder."
It went on like that for what? Five days? Seven? Around that, I think. In the morning, Alex would help me dress, unlocking first one handcuff then the other. He never said anything while he did that, never laughed or asked me if I'd had enough. He cooked, went running, did yard work: we must have looked like some strange perverted gay couple, what with me always moping around the windows or on the porch, Alex shoving things around in the yard. I hardly saw him during the day. Sometimes at night we would watch t.v. together, or read. Sometimes, I would stand in the doorway and talk to him as he took the prosthesis off, about things that had nothing to do with my life. My real life. The one that was fading away.
Last night, for example:
"What do you think about the Knicks this year?" I said, leaning in the doorway. I tucked my hands in my jeans pockets, and tried to ignore the chain dangling between them, a silver smiley face.
Usually, Alex would look amused by my opening volley, rolling his eyes, and giving me some bullshit answer. He didn't know anything about sports. "When did I have time for sports, Mulder?" he asked, when I had insisted he had to know something, *anything* about sports. Even Scully knew about football, for Chrissake. "I was busy."
This time, though, last night, he just scowled. "What are you doing, Mulder?" His shirt was unbuttoned and I could see the strap of the prosthesis cutting into his shoulder. It reminded me, horribly, of a fat girl's bra strap. It looked painful.
"What are you doing here, Mulder?" He spoke very slowly, as if I were an infant.
"Fine." I said. "You don't want to talk, don't talk." I turned around. Fuck him. I had just been trying to make conversation.
"Why do *you* want to? What do you want, Mulder?" he asked. "Why have you stayed?"
I had to look at him then. He sounded . . . different.
"What do you care?"
His laughter sounded like he was choking. "Care? I don't, Mulder. Don't think a few fucking conversations about *sports* is enough to make me care. All I'm saying is that I wonder what you're hiding from."
Then he did smile. A big awful smile full of teeth. "Yeah? Because I know that if I had a partner, and a boss, and a mother, and fucking weirdo friends, and the keys to a brand new LeSabre, and I had a choice between those things and being here, I wouldn't be here."
"What do you know, Alex? You're a fucking babysitter."
He nodded. "That I am, Mulder. I'm just a lackey, a babysitter, a chauffer, a hitman, a fuck toy. I'm whatever they want me to be."
"So why haven't you left? Why haven't you taken the keys to the damn LeSabre and split?"
"You want to know?" he asked. He stood up, looking somehow larger. Dangerous. How had I forgotten that he was dangerous? He peeled off his shirt, yanked on the buckle of the arm so it fell with a dull thump. "This."
"I . . . I don't . . ."
"This, Mulder, is fate." He was close now. I could feel his breath on my face, but I didn't look at him, I looked at the arm, lying separate on the floor. "When we were in Tunguska, Mulder, remember? We got separated. You got away, and I got this."
"Alex, I-" I tried to stop him, my hands up in front of me, almost pushing on his chest, but not touching.
"They thought they were saving me, Mulder. They thought they were doing me a favor, but they weren't. We were both exposed to the black cancer, Mulder, we were both there, but only one of us went crazy when we saw the artifact, only one of us suddenly could READ MINDS, Mulder, and why do you think that is?"
I did look at him, then, gaped at him, at the resignation in his face. "They cured you," I whispered.
He laughed. He turned and walked back to the bedside table for the bottle of lotion he used on his truncated arm every night. "You could say that," he said. "I say this: I no longer have a choice. I'm here. I'm cured, if you want to call it that, of free will, because I know these men and I know what they're doing, and I am of no use to them. I'm a one-armed fucking *chauffer*! So," he said sitting down on the bed and squirting lotion onto his arm, "I don't really have a choice. I don't have anything of value to ransom my own life with. That's why I'm here."
I stood there for a long time, watching him rub lotion onto his creased and scarred skin, words whirling in my head. I watched him as he peeled off his sweatpants one-handed, and slid under the sheets. I watched as he rolled over onto one side so he could reach the lamp on the bedside table. I watched his pale shape in the darkness until my eyes adjusted and I could almost see him looking at me.
"Go to sleep, Mulder," he said, finally, and I went to my own room and lay down.
Last night, I dreamed that Scully came to me like a fiery angel. She called me a traitor and a coward, and I lay on my back and cried out to her when she walked away, because I knew she was right and I was weak. Sometime later, she came back, and touched my hair, and said that I was forgiven, but that I would have to choose.
This morning, I woke up with Alex Krycek in my bed, pressed so close against me that I could feel his heart beating against my ribs. I was tilted forward at the very edge of the bed, and his arm was wrapped tight and warm around me. I couldn't tell if he was holding me back or preventing me from falling.
Right now, he's sitting on the porch staring at the palm pilot he carries with him everywhere. He never touches it, he just takes it out and stares at it, then after a while, he'll put it back. I wonder what it shows him.
When he goes out for his run in an hour or two, I'm going to take the keys to the LeSabre and drive back to Washington. To Scully. I have to. When I woke up this morning, I thought of asking him to take the chains off.