Her hair hung in dripping red ropes that curled over her shoulders.
"Still raining?" He asked. Droplets of water clung to her nose and chin, running into the dark silk of her shirtwaist dress. "I can't believe you actually showed."
She brushed past him, kicking off her heels as she went. "I honor my agreements, even the absurd and arcane ones. And I can't believe you actually answered the door in that bathrobe. I could have been anyone."
"No, you couldn't," he said "There's nobody left but us anymore." That earned him a fierce blue glare, but she followed him, barefoot, to the polished stainless steel wetbar. "How is he?"
"Recovering well, considering. Been home a week now. He was...exactly where you said he would be. We should have listened to you sooner. I-"
She glanced up quickly, unprepared for the question. "Fine. With her Grandma Maggie for the night." He was filling a glass from a crystal decanter. She turned and surveyed the loft; the chrome and black leather furniture, the industrial minimalist fixtures, the white orchids in their Oriental vases. Nose wrinkling, she asked, "where are the Nagel prints?"
He set the decanter down loudly, the corners of his mouth twisting, repressing the chuckle. "Same dark and heavily guarded corner of the closet as the Duran Duran LP's." He held the glass out to her. The liquid it contained glowed violent green and smelled of anise and juniper. She eyed the drink suspiciously.
"Absinthe, Krycek? I can't consume this. Wormwood extract causes kidney failure and rahbdomyolsis, never mind the fact that Miranda's nursing."
"Would I give you REAL absinthe? If it was real, it would have turned white from the water mix. This is just a kind of mental lubricant. Be out of your system in a matter of hours, no side effects. Though you know, the real thing might not be such a bad idea. The dominant isomer in wormwood oil has antinocieceptive properties."
"So you're saying I'm going to need pain killers when we're done?" He shrugged and grinned. "Walking is highly overrated anyway."
"Here," he took the glass and downed the contents in a single shot. "See? Not even poison. At least try it. I got it for you." She cocked an eyebrow at that, but tentatively sipped the second shot he poured for her, grimacing at its bitterness. The silence became thick. Awkward. He exhaled, shaking his head. "I feel like I should be cackling and rubbing my hands together menacingly here or something."
"It's your show," her voice was harsh, "you wouldn't take money for the information, remember?"
"I never expected you to agree."
"For Mulder's LIFE? Oh for-" she sputtered, blood flaming in her cheeks, "This is NOTHING! Do you understand? How could I refuse? I have back the only things that matter to me! This is merely a stupid, minor inconvenience!"
"That's right, I broke protocol and gave you the location first. You never had to come back. Why did you?"
She smiled and the teeth revealed were proud knives. "I think it's called integrity. I gave my word, and whatever your petty-"
"Not petty," he interrupted, defensive."Traditional. Details of sex favors as payment for espionage appear in the Guild Charter as early as 1200B.C. Besides, I have more money than I know what to do with."
"There's a spy union?" She almost choked on her drink.
"Guild. And we prefer the term operative, thank you."
"So, if at this point, we simply re-negotiated, we'd be violating some medieval protocol. Do you even like women? Why bother?"
He ducked his head, breaking eye contact. "An orifice is an orifice...is an orifice...apologies to Gertrude Stein. Sorry. No free lunch."
"And how," she began after another indeterminate period of awkward silence, "how does this typically work with Mulder?"
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "Seems like it usually starts with a fistfight."
"I have to hit you first?"
He stepped back from her self-consciously. "Well, no...um...Mulder. What did you tell him anyway?"
"The truth of course."
"That you gave me the location of that lighthouse and that I expected to be home late. Funny thing, infidelity works so much better when spouses cooperate on the project. Cover for each other. Help the other to make the kill, so to speak." The points of her teeth gleamed.
His eyes flew to the triple locked door in alarm. "Shit!" He produced a Glock from behind the bar and had it pressed against her throat before she could move. "You were saying, Agent Scully? Integrity?" The slightly goofy, fumbling adolescent of the previous minutes had vanished. High-toned banter gone to familiar gravel.
Scully went very still. "He's not here, Krycek. He's running interference for me with Mom and Skinner."
"He'll try to take this out of my hide sooner or later"
"Oh no he won't," she retorted sharply. He lowered the weapon, but didn't put it down. "What does that mean?"
"It means we're getting out. Out; as in no more guns." She gestured to the Glock, dismissive. "No more disappearing acts. We're going to have a normal marriage, and our little girl is going to have a normal life." She seemed almost smug.
"Uh, did you say marriage?"
"He asked the first time he held Miranda. Father McCue came to the hospital that night to perform the ceremony."
He nodded, aplomb restored. "Good. Congratulations. Better that way."
"Thank you. Now, it's not that I'm eager, mind you, but I would like to get home before three...Mulder always overheats the formula." He seemed frozen in place. "Look, could I at least toss my dress in your dryer for a while? I'm soaked and getting cold." She began unfastening buttons.
"Let me get you a towel."
She stalked after him towards the bedroom. "Are you running away from me?"
"Well," his answer came slightly muffled, "Your-um-lack of reluctance is kind of disconcerting."
"Poor Alex," she crooned sarcastically, "Expecting the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Whore of Babylon showed up instead." She straightened up, releasing the last button at her knee, and shrugged out of the dress. He was back, looking at her as though she had morphed into something threatening. She wore no jewelry. No underwear. No bra, and she had been cold."Trade you?" She asked easily. He tossed her the towel and disappeared with the dress.
On the nightstand beside the bed, she open the bag she had brought with her and began to set out condoms and lubricant as though preparing for surgery. She sensed rather than heard him behind her. "Ready?" She asked.
"Mmm. In a minute. How's Number Three?"
"Diana, Me-I don't count Jeff since he was never attached to either of you-John makes three." He was stalling. It was pathetic and somehow strangely endearing.
"I don't know if I agree with your math, Alex," she emphasized his first name, "but as of yesterday morning, at least, Agent Doggett was both alive and uncorrupted. Quite an accomplishment for a X- Files partner alumni, don't you think?
"Yeah. Give the guy a gold star or something." He bent and touched experimental lips to her shoulder. She allowed it, remaining completely passive, and when he drew back, her gaze was remote as a doll's and she seemed to be staring out through the great bank of windows that made up the west wall of the room. "Don't worry," he murmured, "bullet proof."
"Of course." Her palms slid over his chest and moved underneath the black satin robe, halting as she found the leather holster and the Browning strapped there.
"You never know," he answered her unspoken question.
She reached around until she found the buckle and jumped at the snapping sound when it came lose, and then she was kneeling and running cool fingers over his skin as she traveled down. He wasn't wearing underwear either. And he was evidently also cold. She wet her lips and breathed lightly on him, and then ran the pink tip of her tongue over the top of one thigh. He inhaled and coughed. She swallowed hard and then took him in her mouth gingerly, swirling her tongue around the head and then completely enclosing him. She began a steady rhythm of sucking, one hand circling the base, the other gently cupping his balls, fingers stroking the underside.
Ten minutes later he stopped her, half erect and blinking rapidly.
"I don't know whether to be insulted or relieved," she said.
He climbed onto the bed beside her and caressed her with the back of his knuckles, following the curves and valleys of her body. She shuddered as he slipped a hand between her legs. He leaned over to taste her breast, biting her nipple lightly and then drawing back in surprise."
"I told you I was nursing."
She clamped his hand between her thighs, and he pushed them apart again.
"This isn't going to work," she said after a while."Your fingers are pruney and I'm getting sore."
"You're wetter than you were before."
"And you're within three easy steps of a carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis. Did you really expect me to be into this? KY's over there."
He brought his fingers to her mouth, taking moisture from her instead, and dragged them back over her clit. She sighed loudly, bored. Resigned for the moment, he found the lube on the nightstand and began applying it in a somewhat rough, if efficient manner. Preparing for the process of commerce.
"You know yoga?" He asked.
"A little, yeah."
"Child's pose. Now."
She rolled up easily onto her knees and leaned forward, resting her forehead on her arms, supporting herself on her elbows. Almost immediately, he began working a finger into her. She grunted and tensed.
"Relax. Seriously, relax or this will hurt, and while I can't make you enjoy it, I really don't want to injure you.
Slowly, she relaxed, and he was able to stretch her with a second finger and then he pulled her hips against him.
"Are you sure?" He asked, breath more ragged than before.
"He thought you would want it like this, that you would get off on the symmetry of having us the same way."
He began pressing into her, rocking forward in small increments, then pulling out again."
He said conversationally, "Mulder really knows this is happening...and it's ok?"
He thrust hard, making her gasp with the force of it. She couldn't move. Her body was folded and pinned between him and the mattress. She felt him inside of her, throbbing. Sweat trickled between her shoulder blades.
"I told him before we were married, that if he ever went anywhere near you again, I would divorce him and deny him even partial custody of his duaghter."
"I'm not sure whether to be insulted or relieved," he mimicked her earlier words. He paused, fascinated by the snake on her back, which seemed to breathe as she breathed. Then he began moving again, faster, and her elbows slipped on the sheet and she fell flat. He followed her down. "I guess I'm flattered I was that much of a threat."
"What you are is a pain in the ass, Krycek."
He pressed his mouth against her ear." But you want to know, don't you?"
"Know what? Ow. Watch it...no gland to worry about stimulating...aren't you done yet?"
"So much for mental lubricants. Bad idea on my part. Sorry."
Then, impossibly, she was giggling under him. "An orifice is an orifice! Oh, now that's charming! Hide the family pets, dear, Alex is stopping by for cocktails."
"Mmm. Keep laughing."
"Feels amazing. When I was rushing Chi Chi Chi, they always used to say you should try and get the girl to either laugh, hiccup, or vomit while you're inside. Supposedly you can come just from the contractions."
"Oh no!" She snickered helplessly. "You were a frat rat! Must have been easy, getting them to vomit."
He laughed with her, hips gone still again. "You are one mean, mean bitch. I like it." Her face was turned to the side and he playfully bit her jaw, then kissed around the mark, slowly moving down to her mouth. They kissed, and as the kiss lengthened, she moaned low in her throat. He surged against her and the kiss became frantic, heated. There was nothing left to prove or hide.
"Yeah. I think you want to know. It was a lot of times. At the pool, for instance."
He insinuated a hand under her.
"Those sulking lips on my balls, that hot wet pressure of his mouth on me...sucking me..."
She made a sort of dismissive noise, but spread her legs wider.
"I had him on the couch in his apartment. Across the hood of the Taurus...You know Mulder. So demanding, so needy." He was using the force of his thrusts in her to move her own body against his hand. "You know how it is when you're pulling on the zipper of his jeans and you're tasting his skin. Sucking and licking him until your lips go numb and his fist is in your hair..."
Her breath had gone short.
"I had him on top of your desk."
"Oh now you're making it up!"
"No, listen. True confessions time. I meet him late to deliver a message and he starts in with his usual shit-you know-begging for it. He fakes left, but he doesn't have a chance and I push him over the desk and he's cussing and squirming and I've got my knee between his legs..."
She grasped the black metal frame of the bed, desperate for an anchor.
"So I get his pants open, and he knocks over this blue ceramic mug, and he's bucking back into me, and then I push into that sweet tight ass, and he's powerless. He wants it, and we both know it...and then I'm slamming into him, over and over and he's so tight..."
He slammed into her and she let go of the bed to push his hand away and touch herself more efficiently.
"I'm fucking him and reaching around to get him off too, and...mmm...he comes so quick and so hard...and...and calls your name."
He gripped her flesh, and the prosthetic hurt her; she screamed. But it was enough, and her muscles seized and convulsed around him, and she whispered, "GodGodGodGod," into the mattress.
They lay, side by side, bodies gone to liquid.
"So that's what happened to my Oklahoma mug."
"Yeah. Here's a question. You would kill to protect Miranda, right?"
She turned onto her side, stared into the green of his eyes, and said carefully: "In the blink of an eyelid."
"And, in the end, if it was between her and some other innocent party, you'd still do what it took, right?"
"I don't think I like where you're going with this."
"Come on, Scully. Just the two of us here; you can tell the truth. You've been through too much for her. It wouldn't matter in the end, would it? As long as she was safe?"
"What the hell is this, Krycek?" She sat up quickly.
"Nothing. You've tied up your loose ends here. Go enjoy your marriage, you both deserve it. All thirty-six months of it."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"That's all you've got. All your little girl's got."
"We're OUT of it! We're resigning-"
"Oh yeah," he sat up "great. Ozzie and freakn' Harriet. Did you forget about the impending colonization? The aliens? You remember, the same ones who abducted your husband? Big, bad motherfucker aliens, Scully."
She shook her head, voice mechanical. "No. No, we're done with aliens. We're getting out-"
She fell back on the bed as the flat of his palm struck her.
"WAKE UP! You know better!"
"What do you want from us? Mulder and I have Miranda to think of."
"Exactly. A child with two partially immune parents. A possible-"
"NO! No, I won't do it! I won't be Teena Mulder to your Spender. You're not taking my daughter, you're not starting it up again! Stay away from us!" She scooted backwards toward the far edge of the bed. "I'll kill her myself first, do you understand? Then I'll kill you! I will!" She was sobbing, shaking fiercely.
He crawled across the mattress to her. "That's why I need you, both of you. You're all that's left. I wouldn't ask otherwise, I swear. The old organization is dead and the work mostly destroyed. Look, you never deserved any of this and you aren't the only ones who have suffered."
"Oh, you want to walk a mile in my pumps? Compare war wounds? How about trading an hour of chemo for an hour of phantom pain maybe? Go back to hell, Krycek."
"You've seen what they do! Scully...Dana, I've got no where else to go and a real bitch of a deadline. I'm not ready to roll over and die just yet, are you? Do you really want to just give up on your daughter? Let her die when they come?"
She crossed her arms. Tears streamed down her face.
"Never mind," he said tiredly. "Forget it. Go home to Mulder and Miranda. The three of you can stick your fingers in your ears and chant la las."
"Why me? Why not ask him?" The question was barely a growl in her throat.
"You're the rational one. The scientist I need, the survivor. At least, you used to be."
"And you thought I'd agree to conduct experiments on my daughter in exchange for a place in the proverbial bunker?"
"I thought you would want to save her, and better you than some white coated Nazi. You're smarter than the monsters on the Syndicate payroll ever were. You've got firsthand experience with the enemy."
"Were sadistic and sloppy-I know. Yours would never be."
"Shit." She sat back on the bed in shock. "This is really it, The Pitch. This whole evening, this was never about sex was it? Just manipulation. Damn your lousy soul, Krycek! What is this compulsion you have to make everything so complicated? Why can't you just be honest some of the time? Answer me! Before I tear off your balls and make you eat them!"
The tension in him seemed to drain away as he knelt beside her, and she caught a glimpse of the hopeful little boy he must have once been. "You're saying yes, aren't you? Dana, thank you. Thank god." He curled his body around her, laying his head in her lap, supplicant. "Thank you...I couldn't have done this alone."
She ruffled his dark hair. "This is on my terms, you know."
"I know, anything you want."
Thank you betas: Sue, Isabelle, Mary & Vyper.