Title: A Bargain With The Devil
|| You stupid, stupid Fuck! ||
Alexei Krycek berated himself, even as he struggled harder against the restraints holding him down on the examination table. He was a fool. He should have run when he could, left Mulder to take care of himself but, no, he just had to let his cock overrule his head giving the Smoker's men time to get the drop on him. As for Mulder... His last sight of that beautiful, lanky frame was seeing the man pulled into a car by AD Skinner, no less, just before it took off at well over the local speed limit. As usual, Mulder had got out of there scot-free... and whole.
That thought shoved another big dose of fear through his head as he wondered what part of his anatomy he might lose this time.
|| Oh shit! ||
The room around him finally registered. It was clinically clean - sterile - too sterile for the run-of-the-mill Doctor's surgery; too personalized for a normal hospital examination room. His mind flitted through the numerous Consortium-owned laboratories and the terrible experiments they housed, the darker thoughts pushing forward into the light of his conscious mind bringing even more fear. He struggled harder against the straps that held him so securely, desperate to get free.
"Ah. I see you're awake at last."
Krycek froze as an unfamiliar, honeyed voice slithered over him. He had been so caught up in his imagined fears that he hadn't even heard the man enter the room. His breathing was harsh from his exertions but he fought, quickly, to bring it back under some semblance of control, realizing that he needed his wits about him if he was going to be able to talk his way out of this. He chose a low, ice-cold tone that dripped with hidden menace.
"Get these things off me."
"That wouldn't be very wise now, would it, Alex?"
The door had opened again, the acrid smell of cigarette smoke preceding the new arrival. Krycek's head snapped round as the condescending tones washed over him. With green eyes blazing, he couldn't prevent the iciness of his tone turning to heated anger.
"You bastard. Get these fucking things off me!"
"Such a mouth on you, boy. Perhaps we should find a cake of soap and wash it out."
The Smoker took a deeply satisfied drag from the cigarette held so casually, his eyes glinting with pleasure. Despite the bravado in his voice, Spender could easily read the cold terror in the wide-spaced, green counterparts; could smell the stench of fear sweating from every pore on the naked body spread out before him. The sense of power rippling through him was heightened by the nicotine that flooded his brain; growing stronger as his forefinger trailed along one muscular calf, watching the muscles contract as Krycek tried to pull away from his touch.
"Do you know where you are? No. Perhaps not. Perhaps my associate's name will spark some recognition. Dr.. Dessiman... meet Alexei Krycek; your latest acquisition."
|| Dessiman? Dessiman? ||
The name was familiar but there were so many names, so many faces... so many experiments. He pulled back as far as he could from the hand that reached out to grab his chin. Bony fingers tightened along his jaw line, and his head was twisted from side to side before the doctor let go and turned his attention to other parts of his body.
"Older than I would normally consider, but nice musculature. He looks fit - fitter than many of the others."
"Alex has had a hard life recently. The need to run being paramount."
"Hmmmm. *This* will cause problems. Nothing insurmountable though."
Krycek bit his bottom lip to hold back a whimper as the doctor rubbed and prodded the still tender, scarred flesh covering the end of what remained of his left arm. His need to keep moving had prevented him from acquiring proper medical attention, and a series of ill-fitting prosthesis had ensured the scars remained overly sensitive, even rubbed raw in places.
The doctor looked back at his benefactor.
"Not ideally suited but... I can work with him."
"What are you gonna do to me?"
The Smoker smiled. He leant down close to Krycek's face and blew a steady stream of smoke, enjoying the way Krycek flinched and screwed up his nose, and then he straightened and walked out the door without looking back, the smile becoming a grin as Krycek's frantic cries and curses followed him.
"You bastard!! Come back!! I'll fucking kill you! I'll... No... Get that away from me."
The weasel-faced doctor smiled as he checked the dosage in the hypodermic syringe, ignoring the curses that were now aimed at both himself and his parentage. He jabbed the needle deep into a tensed thigh muscle, injecting the contents slowly, and then moved away to pick up the phone. It didn't take long for the fast-acting drug to take hold, the desperate attempts to free himself becoming more feeble until they finally died away and, by the time the orderlies entered the room, his latest acquisition was deeply sedated.
"Prep him for the procedure."
When Alex Krycek awoke he found himself in another sterile room, but this one was far different from the one he had been in before; this one contained banks of monitors; flashing lights, strange hisses and beeps. Despite the heaviness he felt in every muscle he tried to move, but the restraints were still firmly in place. His eyes, still dazed and unfocussed, tried to follow the path of the tubing running from above his head, and then he realized the strange pulling at his elbow was the tape holding an intravenous line in place. He tried to catalogue his own body, starting with the extremities and was annoyed when it was his missing left hand that pulled his attention. It itched. He could feel pins and needles in the tender skin of his palm as his mind still reacted to long severed nerve endings.
|| Great time to get phantom pains. ||
Still, he couldn't resist glancing down at the truncated limb, and blinked hard. Looked again. There was no denying there was *something* down there; something beneath the light covering; something restrained in leather strips and buckles that looked, undeniably, like a flesh and blood arm.
Someone entered the room.
Krycek closed his eyes hoping to convince them that he was still out for the count, listening carefully to the sounds of movement as whoever-it-was picked up various unknown objects. He could hear the sound of a pen scratching on paper as notes were written up. A brief silence followed and then the rustling of crisp material came closer and he felt a slight pull on the intravenous line, opening his eyes in time to see more drugs being pushed into the tubing.
|| No. No. No. ||
The next time he awoke he was somewhere else again but this new place held none of the sterile, operating room feel about it. In fact, it was almost homely. There were no monitors and no drip feeding into his arm but, despite all this, he was still restrained. He glanced down at his left side in trepidation, half-believing he had only dreamed there was more there than the cruel truncation. It wouldn't be the first time he had dreamed himself whole. Giving himself a mental command to wiggle phantom fingers, he was still surprised when he felt them tickle against the sensitive palm. His brow creased when he, suddenly, found himself having to blink hard to ease the burning sensation of tears. It wasn't a dream; there *was* an arm that looked and felt all too real.
The door opened suddenly and he turned towards it, grimacing at the ache in his lower abdomen that suddenly made its presence known.
Green eyes narrowed as he considered the new arrival but he, wisely, decided to keep his hatred and anger in check as he confronted his own personal nemesis.
"What have you done to me? Not that I'm too ungrateful..."
The Smoker smiled as Krycek motioned towards his left side. Yes, it was far too good to be true. Originally, when he had spoken to Dessiman he had not understood why the procedure would take far longer with Krycek than with the others. He had assumed it was solely because of the age difference as most of the merchandise used in this particular experiment were a decade or more younger than his former employee, but now he knew different... and he was planning to use that to his advantage.
"I have a proposition for you, Alex."
He watched as Krycek formed quite a few responses, most of which would probably question his ancestry, or give him dubious instructions of a sexual nature. All were discarded as the instinct for survival held the boy's tongue in check.
"Okay. I'm listening."
"Good. Dr. Dessiman was most enlightened by your... transformation. Your stamina, healing abilities..."
Spender trailed off, his gaze flicking along the length of the prone body. The light sheet draped over Krycek from waist to toe did little to conceal the firm, muscular frame; instead it fell in soft folds, outlining the narrow hips and strong legs, and the softened sex that lay between. The Smoker drew on the cigarette as his mind dwelt, momentarily, on the beautiful body lying before him.
"He believes you will make an excellent subject, but then, that *was* my intention. So. Here is the deal, Alex. You will remain here. You will see this experiment through to completion, and then you will be released - unharmed."
"And the alternative?"
"You can leave now... in the same condition that you arrived in."
Krycek narrowed his eyes in puzzlement, a crease forming over the bridge of his nose as he tried to figure out what the catch was. He followed the rheumy blue eyes down towards his left side, his eyes snapping back up in realization.
"Of course, the arm will be surgically removed this time..." Spender let the full meaning of his words sink in, a smug smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as he raised the ever present cigarette to his seamed lips.
Krycek swallowed hard. Could he bear to go through the loss of his arm once more? His head told him he would hardly notice the difference, after all, he had survived the past two years without the limb.
And hated every moment of it.
His thoughts returned to those past years on the run. Learning to live in the dark alleyways and flea-infested motels had been worsened by having to cope with the loss of his left arm. As he flexed the new fingers he remembered the anger and frustration of everyday life where even tying his shoe laces had become a near impossible task. He'd been forced to compromise in so many ways; had ditched the heavy duty Dr. Marten's for slip-ons, abandoned the tight, figure hugging t-shirts for baggy, long sleeve versions... had forced his body to adjust continuously to the shift in balance from the lopsided feel of no arm to the equally uncomfortable heaviness of the cumbersome prosthesis. Eventually, he had learnt to deal with his handicap. He had *needed* to adjust if he was to survive - and he had learned to turn this disadvantage into an advantage.
Yes. He had hated the loss but he *had* adjusted. Hadn't he?
His heart cried out anew. This was different. The first time, he had been held down by a group of men and mutilated with a hot knife despite his screams and entreaties. That time he had been given no choice, but this time would be far different. He would be offering up his arm to the butcher's knife of his own free will. Self-preservation warred against this idea of self-mutilation, his mind demanding that he needed more information... or did he?
Spender smiled, maliciously, enjoying the fear that darkened the beautiful eyes as he forced Krycek to choose, knowing full well that he had no intention of letting his former protégé go no matter what decision he made. Unknowingly, the true choice before Krycek was not between his arm and freedom, but how he would experience this experiment; willing or unwilling.
Krycek closed his eyes when he realized he would get no answer to his question. Spender was going to force him to make this decision and live with the consequences.
"At least tell me how long I would have to stay... if I choose to stay."
"One year. Maybe less... depending on how well you perform in this experiment."
|| A year. A whole fucking year. ||
It didn't seem like much of a deal, especially as he had no idea what they planned to do to him during that year. He felt his heart start to thump against his ribs as the stress built within him, his mind in a turmoil as he considered his options.
|| What options? ||
"I will promise you one thing, Alex. Once the experiment is concluded you *will* walk away from here alive and whole, both mentally and physically. I cannot promise you will not feel pain while you are here, but it will be of a short duration. In fact, from what I have seen, boredom might be your greatest enemy."
"I assume you're not referring to the boredom."
Spender smiled. He had every reason to want Krycek dead and Alex *knew* this so, if he wanted Alex to agree to go through with this experiment, he would have to convince him that he would honor his side of the bargain. Spender knew he couldn't afford to underestimate the younger man's intelligence. He knew he had to play on Krycek's fears, and on his instinct for self-preservation, but the end result, the revenge he would take on this man, would be well worth the effort. He sucked deep on the cigarette as he considered revealing a little of the truth.
"I will admit that my first instinct was to eliminate you, but it would gain me nothing. As to my choice of... let's call it 'revenge'... I am sure you are aware that there are many experiments that would offer you nothing but pain and eventual death, but torturing you would not bring my son back."
Spender stopped. He didn't want to give Alex *too* much information. Not yet, anyway. He took one more deep drag from his cigarette, exhaling slowly, letting the wisps of blue smoke curling towards the ceiling take some of the venom from his mind before he, viciously, ground out the remainder of the cigarette beneath his shoe.
"Perhaps this is my way of showing my respect for your intelligence, your ingenuity... your strength of will and strong survival instincts. All good traits."
There were other traits of equal and, possibly, greater importance that had lent themselves to the selection of this particular experiment as his form of revenge, but revealing them would give the game away.
"You know what I think? I think I'm here regardless. I think you have no intention of letting me walk out that door."
Spender smiled at this example of Krycek's intelligence but made no effort to confirm or deny his supposition.
Krycek looked away for a moment, hating himself for being so weak, but unable to resist the possibility of keeping this new arm. He sighed deeply. Perhaps, in a few weeks or months, the security will have lapsed and a chance to escape might present itself. If he refused then he had the feeling he would spend the next few months, maybe even the whole year, lying flat on his back in restraints. He nodded his head slowly, his voice full of resignation.
"Okay. I'll - I'll do this experiment. For one year only."
Spender lit another cigarette as a reward to himself, finding the heady hit of nicotine even more delicious for the small victory he had gained over his erstwhile ex-protégé. He turned to the doctor who had remained quiet throughout the conversation.
"Dr. Dessiman, the specimen has been provided. You will start immediately. I expect to be kept informed of *all* progress."
Krycek frowned, unsure whether the specimen Spender was referring to was him or something else entirely. The doctor merely smiled his acceptance of those orders, already dismissing Spender from his mind as he gazed back down at his beautiful new subject.
Spender held Krycek's eyes for a moment longer, then he turned and walked away.
Three Weeks Later
They had placed him in a nicely furnished apartment within the complex. It had all the creature comforts; small lounge with a low wall separating it from a dining area; a TV and DVD player with a selection of good films and music - all to his taste. Off the lounge to the right was a small bedroom with a surprisingly comfortable bed; to the left, a bathroom which held both a shower cubicle and a bath, as well as the toilet. All in all, it was far more luxurious than anywhere he had stayed over the past few years. After a few days, the never-ending stream of seedy motel rooms with peeling paper and the musty smell of stale urine seemed almost a far distant memory.
As to the experiment... After Spender left, Dessiman had injected him once more and the world had dimmed around him. He had come round in this apartment some time later, unknowing of how much time had passed. Since then... nothing. Someone came to check his temperature and take his blood pressure every day, and once a week they took some blood and gave him a gentle physical. So why was he uneasy?
He put the queasiness in his stomach down to the drugs they were, no doubt, slipping into his food and tried to enjoy the forced inactivity. He sighed. There were times when he had dreamed of being able to stop running; to be able to enjoy watching a movie or reading a book uninterrupted, but this was not exactly how he had wanted it to be. Not locked up in a gilded cage, unknowing of his true fate.
With nothing better to do, his mind had often returned to the past and there were plenty of times when he had wished he had never succumbed to the Smoker's tempting offer of easy advancement in exchange for spying on a fellow FBI agent, and yet he could not regret having met Fox Mulder. The man had taken his breath away from the very first time he laid eyes on him. If only they could have met under different circumstances.
Krycek paused the film he was watching, knowing he had already missed the last ten minutes during his introspection. It was late and his eyes were drooping. Time to sleep.
Sleep proved elusive, his thoughts churning around his head making it difficult to find the peace he needed. This always seemed to happen when he thought of Fox Mulder... and he thought of Mulder often. Krycek grimaced, aware that the only way to overcome the images that crept into his mind; images of the tall, handsome man with the beautiful mouth and puppy-dog hazel eyes, was to go with them. He allowed memory of all those close encounters with Mulder to fill his head; the times when their fingers brushed as they passed files between them, the excited looks when Mulder discovered something of interest... the feel of the stubbled cheek beneath his lips on the one occasion when he had given in to the heady desire to kiss the man.
Krycek groaned. This was the memory that fired the furnace burning within him... the way those eyes had glazed over; the way the head had tilted in an unconscious desire to capture his mouth.
|| Jeez! Why didn't I kiss him on the mouth? ||
Mulder had been stunned by his action, and yet, surely he should have pulled away in disgust? There had been no sign of horror or regret on Mulder's face as he turned away, and the knowledge that his kiss had not generated such horror had fuelled many a fantasy where, instead of leaving, he had pulled Mulder into his arms and made love to him.
One of those fantasies slithered into his consciousness and Krycek found himself giving into the images of Mulder writhing beneath him wantonly, his hand seeking his own growing erection. Yes. He would have licked that little mole on Mulder's face before sampling those ripe lips. His tongue would have arrogantly sought possession of that hot mouth, and delved into the wet cavern to tease and taste the man. His arms would grasp the firm ass cheeks, pulling Mulder until he was pressed tight against him, the hard column of their shafts digging into each other. He grinned as a realization swept over him. In his fantasies he always had two arms, and now that part of his dreams had come true. His excitement mounted as the vision of Fox Mulder held in *two* arms assailed him, and he imagined ten fingers digging into the firm ass cheeks with bruising strength. His fantasy changed abruptly. They were no longer clothed; no longer standing. Mulder's body undulated beneath his own, hips thrusting as heated flesh met heated flesh.
Krycek's hand moved more rapidly along the thick column of his own aching flesh, thumb brushing over the sensitive head with each stroke. His hips began to thrust upwards in synch with the imagined bucking of his phantom lover, and he gasped, head thrown back as overloaded nerve endings screamed out at the abuse bringing waves of passion and pleasure crashing over him.
Krycek closed lust-darkened green eyes in disappointment as the image of a satiated Fox Mulder faded with the afterglow. He longed to reach those pleasurable heights and spiral back down into the warm security of Mulder's embrace, but the chances of that ever happening were non existent. Tissues were ripped from the box on the bedside cabinet and he cleaned the spilt semen from his sweat-sheened body with a perfunctory swipe.
He sighed heavily as he buried himself under the thin sheets, thinking back over his day... and the one before that... and the one to come. The Smoker had been telling the truth about one thing; there seemed to be a greater chance of him dying of boredom than anything else and he wondered, anew, how he was going to survive a year of captivity if no escape option should present itself.
Three Months Later
A naked Alexei Krycek glanced at himself in the bedroom mirror, turning this way and that. He had become used to the fresh, young face that stared back at him from old, world-weary eyes and, on the whole, he could admire the smooth skin and renewed perfection of symmetry. Whatever this experiment was it had done more than return his arm; his face and body looked more than a decade younger. He grimaced as he turned sideways, glancing at the gentle curve of his stomach. All this easy living was making him soft. Boredom had become his greatest enemy, and he had become a veritable couch-potato having nothing but the TV and DVD to keep him entertained. No-one visited except to do the routine medical checks, deliver food or perform general maintenance, and when they did neither that person nor the accompanying guard spoke to him. His attempts to make conversation were ignored as if he were something beneath their notice, perhaps even beneath their contempt, and yet they handled him with great care, as if he were some prize possession.
He went over to the small bureau and pulled on a pair of sweatpants, then grabbed a t-shirt from the next drawer up. Krycek stared at the thin, baggy, white t-shirt, wondering why it had to be so long. All the ones in the drawer were the same; all came down to mid-thigh as if they also doubled for hospital gowns.
|| Probably a job lot from Walmart. ||
He snickered to himself as he pulled it on and tucked it into the sweats. Without further ado he set about starting a new, punishing exercise regime. A quick warm-up was followed by an aerobic session. Panting hard he allowed himself to come down slowly until his breathing evened out, then he dropped to the floor intending to start a series of stomach crunches.
|| I definitely need these. ||
Alex positioned himself and placed his hands behind his head. He pulled up and dropped down just as fast, gasping at the pain radiating outward. Dessiman and two orderlies were by his side before he could catch his breath, as if they had already been running to his 'cell'. The doctor checked him over before ordering the others to help Krycek into a seated position on a nearby chair, barking out commands so rapidly that Krycek was stunned by the frantic activity.
Eventually, the doctor seemed to calm down, pulling up Krycek's face with a hand on his chin, tilting his head from side to side as he gazed into the pain-filled eyes. He dropped his hand and stood back, his mouth a tight line.
"I commend your decision to exercise but must insist that you follow a fitness regime of *my* choosing; one that will not affect the outcome of the experiment. Do you agree?"
By now Alex had regained his breath, the jagged pain having subsided to more manageable proportions. He nodded.
"Well. No harm done this time, I believe, but I want to perform a more detailed check. I suggest you get cleaned up."
He saw the doctor glance meaningfully at the orderlies and all three left the room, locking the door behind them. Pulling himself to his feet, Krycek glanced down at his sweat-soaked body. Long sable lashes flickered over pain-filled, sea-green eyes. He swallowed hard, hating the docility of his position, wanting desperately to tell them all to go to hell, but well aware that the consequences could be both restrictive and humiliating. He had no option but to play along, watching for that fatal mistake that would herald his bid for freedom.
|| Okay. You heard what the man said. Shower. ||
He removed the sweatpants, kicking them into the corner of the lounge and staggered into the bathroom. A quick flick started the shower and he turned it to the highest temperature he could stand and stepped in, too tired to remove the long t-shirt. He bent forward, leaning heavily against the tiled wall, using his arms for support as the water cascaded over him, eyes closed as rivulets ran down his face, spiking the long, dark lashes. Eventually, his arms grew tired, the muscles trembling with fatigue. He turned, arms hanging loosely by his side as he slumped back against the tiles; his legs almost buckling, as if they could barely support his weight. He ignored the pull of the thin, wet cotton as it clung revealingly to every curve, each muscle defined intimately from the pectorals to the slight bulge of the ill-used stomach. The heat of the water gradually seeped into his bones and he opened his eyes in the darkened room where the only illumination came from the light glaring in from the lounge beyond. He rarely, if ever, switched on the bathroom light, trying to maintain some degree of privacy, and retain some dignity, from the prying eyes that seemed to watch his every move.
|| Yeah, and movement. ||
He smiled at the coarseness of his own thoughts as he glanced across at the toilet bowl.
|| I wonder if they test my sh.. ||
He felt the beginnings of hysteria bubbling up at the thought of someone examining his feces, but it wasn't beyond the realms of possibility. After all, they did little else to monitor this so-called experiment.
With a sigh he turned once more, raising his face into the stream of cascading water momentarily, before reaching out to shut off the valve. The thin t-shirt felt surprisingly heavy and difficult to manage as he pulled the sopping wet rag over his head. He dropped it onto the tiled floor, the loud smack echoing around the darkened room. With a towel wrapped around his lower half, and using another to briskly rub his hair, he walked into the bedroom to grab something fresh to wear; another of those damn long, white t-shirts. Within moments of dressing *they* came for him and Krycek was treated to only his third trip out of the small apartment since the day he arrived.
Surreptitiously, he glanced from side to side as they escorted him along the white-walled corridors. Just like last time, there was nothing to see, only this long corridor with its solid, white-painted doors spaced at intervals. He sneered, wondering if they had rules to empty the corridors when he was being escorted outside of the 'apartment'.
A sudden commotion brought his head around. A door opened and he stared into the panic-stricken, wild blue eyes of a young man dressed in a similar, thigh-length, white cotton t-shirt. The man was pulled back and the door slammed shut but not before Krycek saw something else; something that brought a sense of horror slamming into his brain.
"What the fuck...?"
The sharp sting in his left buttock brought him spinning round in time to see the empty hypodermic removed. He sagged into the supporting arms, his vision tunneling.
When Krycek opened his eyes he found himself lying, naked, in his own bed; the light cover pulled up to chest height. For a moment he wondered what was going on, and then he remembered the wild-eyed man. He pushed back the covers and gazed down the length of himself, one hand stroking across the slight bulge of stomach. He gasped in horror, his breath coming in quick, shallow pants. Krycek swallowed, squeezing his eyes shut as he fought to regain control.
|| I've gotta get outta here. ||
Eight Days Later
Vassily Peskow had taught him to be patient, explaining that it was a Russian trait he would be wise to cultivate. Cultivating that patience had kept him in this research center for months as he waited for the perfect escape opportunity to present itself, not willing to take too high a risk because of the possible consequences, but all that had changed now. He decided that this 'perfect opportunity' might never happen, and that it was time to take *any* opportunity. The days passed slowly as he waited, but eventually his patience was rewarded. The guard had taken his eyes off of him for a split second but it was all he needed. He slammed the nurse into the man, following through swiftly with a blow to the throat that crushed the man's windpipe. As the nurse opened her mouth to scream he grabbed her head between his hands and wrenched it sideways, the crack of her neck breaking hardly heard above the sound of the TV. He grabbed the gun and ran as fast as he could. Guards came spilling out of side corridors but he had them at a previously unrealized disadvantage; the shout of 'don't hurt him' echoing along the corridor.
Hours later he allowed himself to stop running. His thoughts returned to the long pursuit and he shook his head in annoyance when he realized his pursuers had, in effect, had their hands tied behind their backs. He cursed loudly in several different languages. If he had known of this 'don't harm' policy earlier then he might have escaped a whole lot sooner.
Now he had shaken them, at least temporarily. It was time to get some answers.
One Week Later
Krycek waited until Mulder and Scully had disappeared from view before slipping though the door into Skinner's office. He had taken quite a risk coming here, but he needed to know what the Smoker was up to. So far all he knew was that it had something to do with Mulder, and with a long-buried alien ship being discovered off the Ivory Coast. If he could find out a little more then this would be just the sort of information he needed to buy him Dessiman's files on the experiment he had undergone. However, with his contacts within what was left of the Consortium at an all time low, he had little choice but to use what resources remained to him, and to that end, he had spent several days staking out the bus station before opening one of the lockers to retrieve the back-up palm pilot he had stashed there for just such an emergency. Now, as he stared into dark eyes filled with impotent rage, he kept his own emotions in check, picked up the video and walked out of Skinner's office without a single word passing between them. As to his own personal predicament... He had called in a few markers and managed to find someone who was in a position to obtain Dessiman's files in return for information on this alien ship. He could only hope that the contents of this tape, and the files he had collected from Skinner earlier, would be enough.
He returned to his latest bolt-hole and set the video running. His excuse was to check what information was on the tape but he could not deny having another reason that had nothing whatsoever to do with aliens.
His fingers reached out of their own volition as Mulder's image appeared on the screen. Krycek caressed the familiar figure, imagining how soft the chestnut hair would feel under his questing fingers. They drifted down the screen to alight on the luscious mouth with its ripe lower lip. He moved forward, unconsciously, until his lips could press against the image, wishing it were soft flesh meeting his own rather than cool glass.
The tape finished abruptly and he remained staring at the blank screen for some moments, still lost in his fantasy of what might have been. In his mind he could still hear the disjointed words spoken in the soft monotone that he had come to love. He sighed and pulled back realizing that he had not actually listened to a single word of the exchange. With his whole focus fixed on that beautiful image, he had become lost in his own dream world where he and Mulder had not found themselves walking down opposing paths.
He hit the rewind and listened to the whirr of the machine. This time he sat further back from the screen, hoping he would not be distracted by the beautiful presence. He forced himself to listen to the words, rather than the tone, and was shocked to realize that his first impression had been correct. Mulder *had* seemed disjointed, but the FBI agent's sudden accusation held some merit. Had he realized they were being taped? When the tape had run to the end for the second time, Krycek turned it off and dropped the remote onto the floor beside him. After a moment's thought he reached over and gathered up the case file that Skinner had provided under duress and read it from cover to cover.
Dr.. Sandoz had disappeared under suspicious circumstances but he seemed of little importance at this moment in time as Mulder's case notes implied that Doctor Barnes knew far more than he was letting on, and may even be involved in the murder of the African anthropologist, but this made no difference to Alex Krycek either. If anything, it gave him some additional leverage on the good doctor as the information he needed could only be gathered by Barnes.
Krycek picked up his cellphone and called the number he had committed to memory. It was time to set up a meeting with Barnes that would be to their mutual benefit.
The corridor of the university was crowded with students and lecturers but Krycek would recognize that athletic frame anywhere. He grimaced as Mulder staggered along the corridor in Barnes's wake, wishing he could wrap his arms around the other man in case he fell. He sighed as Mulder pushed his way through the door leading up to the roof. He had hoped to avoid a confrontation with Mulder, realizing that he could not afford to be used as a punch bag in his current condition especially when he had always found it impossible to raise a fist against Mulder even in self-defense. Closing his eyes briefly, he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He really had no choice in the matter; he needed the information Barnes could supply. Krycek fingered the gun in his pocket, hoping that he wouldn't need to use it.
When he opened the door he found the staircase in near darkness; only the light from the corridor beyond reached inside. He paused for a moment as he caught sight of Mulder lying at the top of the first flight of stairs. At first he thought he was injured, his blood starting to boil as he wondered whether Barnes had been lying wait for the FBI agent. However, on closer inspection, he could see a glassiness about Mulder's eyes that spoke of mental rather than physical torment. His first impulse was to aid the stricken man; to pull that beautiful man into his arms and cradle the lolling head. He wanted to whisper soft reassurances to him, to plant gentle kisses upon that sweet mouth, but the strange squirming sensation in his abdomen reminded him that he needed answers... and that Barnes was waiting up on that roof ready to provide some of those. He resisted the temptation to kneel beside Mulder and brush the sweat-dampened hair from his forehead, and stepped over the prone man, refusing to look back as he climbed the final flight of stairs.
Barnes was waiting for him some distance from the exit and he sauntered across the roof towards him with a outward confidence even as his stomach churned nervously within.
"Dr.. Barnes. You and I are destined to be great friends."
Barnes accepted the tape, turning it over in his hands. He watched as Krycek pulled out a dossier detailing the last known whereabouts of Dr.. Merkmallen before arriving in the States. Barnes smirked at the young man whose face was half-concealed in the shadows.
"This isn't enough. If you want me to obtain the files then you must first get something for me."
"What do you need?"
"A fragment of metal covered in strange hieroglyphs."
"And where is this fragment?"
"Dr.. Sandoz has it in his possession."
Krycek bit his lower lip. He had no idea where Dr.. Sandoz had gone to ground but he had a feeling that Mulder and Scully would somehow figure it out. All he had to do was follow them... or rather, follow Dana Scully. There was something strange about this case, something that was having a profound mental affect upon Fox Mulder. He had a feeling that Mulder would not be having too great an involvement in solving this mystery. With a curt nod, Krycek gave his agreement to the deal and turned away.
He found Mulder exactly where he had left him. With a sigh he stepped over the mentally tormented man and started down the stairs but faltered partway down. His head dropped to his chest. He couldn't leave Mulder here like this, but he didn't have time to take care of the man even though his heart cried out to do so. With deft fingers he reached into Mulder's pocket and took out the cellphone. He considered dialing Dana Scully but realized that he needed her to lead him to Sandoz. He couldn't afford to have her sidetracked by Mulder's predicament so, instead, he dialed another less familiar number.
Diane Fowley's voice was soft and inquisitive but Krycek remained silent, then he whispered Mulder's whereabouts and disconnected the call. If Fowley was as well trained as he believed, then she would check the caller details, realize it was Mulder's cellphone, and come looking for him. In the meantime he had stayed far too long. He knelt down and placed the cellphone beside Mulder intending to leave immediately, but he couldn't prevent his fingers reaching out to card through the silky strands of hair, and caress the soft features from temple to chin. One finger trailed across the full bottom lip and he couldn't resist the temptation to follow its path with his own lips.
The soft sigh caressed him; a balm to his ears even as the breath warmed his cold skin. He nuzzled cheek to cheek, dark lashes falling like a curtain over his desire-filled eyes as he wished there was a way he could turn this reality into one of his many fantasies. He wanted Mulder to awaken, wanted Mulder to reach out for him, to pull him into his arms and whisper words of love and endearment. He sighed, realizing he would have to survive on the single softly spoken word that had fallen from Mulder's lips; his name.
He pushed himself, unsteadily, to his feet and hurried away before he lost the strength to leave Mulder behind.
The single shot rang out, cutting through the quiet desert night. Alex wasted no time and moved in quickly. He reached down and disconnected the call, absently noting that Sandoz had been taking to Dana Scully at the moment of his death. A quick frisk of the body gave him what he had been looking for; the metal fragment. He stood, straight and tall, glancing once more in the direction from where the shot had been fired. Although he must have presented an easy target for the shooter, Krycek made no attempt to hide. He had given up caring once he realized the nature of the experiment he had undergone.
At first he had feared the alien thing growing inside him but had quickly realized that its presence guaranteed his own continuing existence. While he carried it Spender's people would pursue him but they would not risk harming him in case, by doing so, they damaged the creature gestating within him. It gave him a temporary edge... temporary because he knew time was running out.
On more than one occasion he had considered finding a way to kill the creature but the relentless pursuit gave him no opportunity and he knew there was no way he could manage to do so on his own. He would need medical assistance, but he could hardly approach some unsuspecting doctor and hope to be believed.
Krycek glanced at the strange fragment. This was his ticket to Dessiman's files and he was hoping there would be enough information stored within those to figure out a way to destroy the alien parasite - without killing himself. He scurried back into the darkness intent on placing as much distance between himself and Sandoz before he contacted Barnes to make the necessary arrangements.
Two Weeks Later
Alex Krycek pulled back into the deepening shadows as he saw the familiar figure of Dana Scully leaving Mulder's tenement building. His mind travelled back over the past few weeks. Mulder had been institutionalized, Scully had disappeared off to the Ivory Coast and Skinner had proved his loyalty to Mulder by involving Kritschgau. Even Diane Fowley, in an unexpected display of self-sacrifice, had forfeited her life by providing Scully with the means to rescue Mulder from the Consortium. Krycek had no idea what the Smoker had gained from this whole affair but knew it had to be something self-serving. As far as he was concerned, the man cared for nothing but his own nicotine-stained hide.
He glanced back up at Mulder's window. Earlier he had seen the outline of that tall frame but he desperately needed to see more. He placed one hand over his abdomen as he felt the creature squirm inside him; a slight sensation like butterflies. Krycek had no idea how long he had left. His knowledge of these creatures had extended only to the ones that seemed to gestate within days. He swallowed hard, refusing to dwell on thoughts of this creature, and yet knowing its very existence was guiding his feet to Mulder's door. Not that he had any intention of telling Mulder about his unwanted passenger. No. It was his imminent death that prodded him into action... a need to mend the bridges between them before it was too late.
Once Scully's car had disappeared around the corner, Krycek made his way across the street and up to Apartment 42. He knocked on the door and waited, feet placed apart in anticipation of the blow he expected once Mulder caught sight of him. The door opened and he found himself face to face with the man who had haunted his dreams since the day they first met. He closed his eyes and braced himself for the verbal and physical assault. The silence stretched and, eventually, he opened his eyes, cautiously, to find Mulder still standing only a few feet in front of him, the hazel eyes unreadable. Mulder took a sudden step to the side, pushing the door open wider, the gesture unmistakable, before he turned on his heel and stalked back into the apartment. After a slight pause Krycek followed him in, closing the door softly behind him.
When he reached the darkened main room he found Mulder sprawled across the old leather couch, eyes rigidly focused onto the TV screen. Krycek slowly sat down at the far end and waited. More than ten minutes passed before Mulder acknowledged him once more.
Krycek listened to the sounds of Mulder retrieving two beers from the refrigerator, hearing the tops being flipped off before Mulder reappeared. He took the beer gratefully. He'd never appreciated Budweiser until this moment but the cold liquid soothed his parched throat. The silence lengthened once more but the tension seemed to have vanished as if they were no longer recent enemies but old buddies enjoying a quiet drink together.
"Why are you here?"
Krycek swallowed the mouthful of beer and opened his mouth to reply but no words came to him. He had spent the past two hours trying to figure out what he was going to say to Mulder but what *could* he say? Sorry I killed the man you believed was your father? Sorry I betrayed you and turned your best friend over to the Consortium to be experimented upon? Or perhaps he could let the past be the past and just look to the present. He couldn't prevent a wry grin another possible response churned around his brain.
|| Hey, Mulder. I've got this alien growing inside me so I guess I haven't got long to live. How about a mercy fuck? ||
Mulder's eyes narrowed and, for one terrifying moment, Krycek wondered whether he had spoken that thought out loud.
"Cat got your tongue, Krycek? You never used to be lost for words."
The silence descended once more but the air was heavy with expectation as Krycek went back over all the things he wanted to say, but he found nothing suitable for an opening.
"Let's just cut to the chase, Alex. On the staircase at the University... I wasn't unaware of everything around me. I sensed your presence, felt your emotions... read your thoughts. I know what you did for me and... and I know what you feel for me."
Mulder smirked when he saw Krycek fidget uncomfortably.
"You're dying... or you believe you're dying. You've come here hoping for a mercy fuck..."
Krycek's head snapped up as Mulder's words mirrored his earlier thought.
"...well, what I ought to say is 'Fuck you, Krycek' but, you know what? These last few weeks have been a real eye opener..." The voice lowered until it was barely more than a whisper. "...and I've come to realize that I want you every bit as much as you want me."
Mulder reached for the remote control and switched off the TV, plunging the room into near darkness except for the shimmer of light from the fish tank. He hauled himself out of his seat and padded over to Krycek, holding out his hand to the younger man.
"Let's go to bed, Alex."
The pre-dawn light sent the shadows scurrying back into the corners of the room and Alex took advantage of the moment, turning his head to imprint every millimeter of the sleeping man's face into his memory. Last night was all he had ever wanted... and much more besides, but he knew it might end with the cold light of the dawn. He sighed softly, unable to keep the pain inside as he contemplated his lack of a future. His thoughts tumbled back to his last meeting with Barnes. He had handed the pieces over to the man as requested, relying for once on trust that he would gain what he wanted in return; the Dessiman File. Instead, Barnes had disappeared off to the Ivory Coast; his body being discovered hacked to death on the beach some time later. Barnes had promised the file would be delivered but, so far, it was a no-show.
Deliberately, he turned his mind away from his unknown future and glided back into the recent past. Losing his arm had been a traumatic experience but he had learned to adjust. Now he was adjusting again, learning how to use his left arm for more than leverage, relearning the intricacies of finger movement. He smiled as he remembered some of the more interesting and enjoyable manipulations as his fingers tweaked, caressed and circled warm, willing flesh; Mulder's warm, willing flesh.
Somehow he had gone from starving to having a feast laid out before him. He'd gone from an impersonal motel room to Mulder's bedroom; from a lonely, one-armed fugitive to... to what? He *had* no future, only the present.
Fear of waking Mulder stayed his hand. He didn't want this moment to end - ever - but, finally, he could not resist reaching out to trail his fingers across the almost hairless chest. Mulder moaned softly as the pad of one finger rubbed gently across a small brown disc, feeling the skin pucker beneath his light touch. Krycek pulled his hand away when Mulder shifted but found his fingers grasped before they could escape.
He stared back into eyes that were almost black with desire, just a small corona of blue and gold surrounding the dilated pupil. His own eyes dropped immediately to the pink tongue that darted across the fleshy lower lip, leaving a glint of moisture in its wake. His hand was placed back onto the warm skin; he could feel the throb of Mulder's heart beating beneath his finger tips before he moved them back across the plane of Mulder's chest.
With his attention focused on the smooth flesh he missed the sudden confusion appearing in Mulder's eyes as the FBI agent took his first look at Krycek in the light of the day.
|| He looks little more than a child. ||
Mulder had always assumed Krycek was around six years younger than himself, but the flawless beauty beside him barely looked out of his teens. The skin was silky smooth and glowing with youth, the muscles firm beneath his touch. He turned Krycek's face towards him and stared into bright, forest green eyes.
Krycek pulled away from his scrutiny. He had assumed Mulder knew about the loss of his left arm, but when he had made no mention of it earlier, while they undressed, Krycek realized that Mulder had probably never realized what had happened to him at Tunguska. He almost laughed aloud as he remembered how many nights he had lain awake angry with Mulder for that comment about beating himself with one hand when all this time Mulder had no idea; had taken *his* comment on beating Mulder with one hand at face value.
"They experimented on me."
Mulder nodded his head as he remembered his last sight of a haggard and drawn Krycek many months ago. He, himself, had barely escaped, being dragged into Skinner's car as Cancer Man's goons closed in around them. Obviously, Krycek had not been so lucky despite the youthful looks. He swallowed hard, feeling guilty for abandoning the other man to his fate. Another thought crept up on him as he recalled the serial killer, John Barnett, and he began to wonder whether Krycek had undergone an updated version of Ridley's experiment into reversing the aging process. He had thought Barnett had died, taking the whereabouts of the stolen research files with him to the grave, but the Consortium was nothing if not resourceful and this particular line of research would have appealed to those *Old* Men.
"Is that why you believe you're dying?"
Mulder remembered the youthful looking Dr.. Ridley who was, in reality, an old man dying in a young man's body. He had experimented upon himself and paid the ultimate price for his vanity.
Unconsciously, Krycek rubbed his hand across his abdomen as he nodded in response. He could see questions forming behind the bright eyes; could sense the brilliant intellect sifting through all the data spread out before it and knew he had to do something to redirect those thoughts before he found himself under interrogation. His hand reached out to circle the flared head of a morning erection, thumb rubbing gently across the sensitive spot beneath the crown. He felt the tumescent shaft pulse in his hand, thickening as blood flowed downwards to fill it with each, rapidly increasing, beat of its owner's heart.
Mulder moaned, thoughts of Ridley and Barnett driven from his mind as he started to think with his other head. A perfect, bow-shaped mouth descended upon him and he buried himself to the hilt, thrusting deeply as Alex positioned himself to accept all of Mulder's length, feeling the throat muscles flex against him. Mulder started to sob as the sensations built but, with the last vestige of his dwindling willpower, he pulled away, pushing Krycek onto his stomach then pulling the pliant man back up onto his knees; his breathing harsh and erratic. With trembling hands he squirted astroglide on his fingers and thrust them into the tight heat between his lover's ass cheeks, grateful that the muscle was still fairly relaxed from earlier that morning. With his control almost gone, Mulder plunged into the barely prepared channel, ignoring the cry of pleasure and pain as his lover was filled in a single thrust.
Mulder held on tight as Krycek bucked beneath him, meeting his savage thrusts with counterpoints of his own, as the younger man impaled himself willingly upon Mulder's hard erection. Sobs and cries echoed through the room but Mulder could not understand the foreign words... and then nothing else mattered except for the sudden clamping down of the muscles surrounding him, forcing him over the edge with a guttural moan spilling from his lips even as his essence filled the hot, tight channel.
He collapsed on top of the broad, sweaty back; his weight driving Krycek into the mattress. Minutes seemed to pass before the sparkle of lights behind his eyelids faded and he felt he could open his eyes. He pulled his softening shaft from its human sheath and rolled to one side, stretching languidly as the last sensations of his orgasm rippled through his nerve endings.
A few more minutes passed before Alex rolled onto his back, one hand tucked behind his head as he stared up at the ceiling with a still half-glazed expression.
The dark, sweat-soaked head nodded slightly.
"Yeah. I'm okay."
Mulder leaned up onto his side and reached out to stroke the darkening bruises on the pale, damp skin, seeing an imprint of his fingers appear over each hip.
"I didn't mean to be so rough... I..."
"It's okay. *I'm* okay. Really."
Mulder sighed and sat up. What was it about this man that called to the savage inside him? As his eyes swept across the muscular frame he could see evidence of his loss of control during their earlier session. Love bites marred the perfect skin; a vivid red against the ivory flesh. The slightly down turned lips were swollen from his kisses; eyelids heavy with fatigue... and yet he had never seen a more beautiful sight in all his life. But it was more than just the physical that attracted him. He knew there was an intelligence behind those beguiling eyes as great as his own. Alex was his equal in more ways than one and yet, how often had the former agent submitted himself to Mulder's domination? How often had he accepted Mulder's fists without retaliation?
Mulder dragged his hand through his hair. There were so many facets to this man; so many things he wanted to discover and to understand, but a brief glance at the bedside clock told him those discoveries might have to wait for another time.
"I told Scully I'd go in today... but I can put it off..."
"Alex?" Mulder reached out to cup his lover's face, the slight pressure of his fingers drawing Krycek around until their eyes met. "Will you be here when I get back?"
"Do you want me to be here?"
Alex gave a small smile. His eyes offered that promise; enough to appease Mulder's fears that he would return and find Krycek gone. With one last brief, affectionate kiss on the tip of the upturned nose, Mulder slid off the bed and made his way to the bathroom. He halted at the bedroom door and turned to burn into his eidetic memory not only the thoroughly ravished image of this man but all the evidence of their joint passion, from the rumpled and stained bedding to the heady scent of sweat and sex that filled the air.
When Mulder left the apartment half an hour later, Alex was still lying in his bed, his face seeming even more childlike and innocent in sleep.
Alex awoke to the feel of a late morning sun filtering through the light curtains. A quick check of the clock confirmed his suspicions but he felt no guilt. It was the best sleep he had managed in a very long time though why he should have felt so safe tucked up in Mulder's warm bed was a puzzle... or was it?
Alex thought back to their night of passion. Despite the roughness of Mulder's touch he had never felt so loved; never felt so wanted, so cherished. Every heavy-handed caress had branded his skin, igniting his nerve endings until he had never felt so alive... and he had never doubted for a single moment that Mulder saw anyone *but* Alexei Krycek in his arms. *His* name had fallen from those luscious lips while in the throes of orgasm; his face had reflected back from those lust-darkened eyes... and there was a moment of post-coital lassitude when those clever fingers had brushed the sweat-soaked strands of hair gently from his forehead before Mulder's lips had melted against his own in tenderness and unmistakable love.
He closed his eyes in grief, knowing they had acknowledged their love for each other far too late in the game. His hand drifted back to his stomach as he felt the flutter of the new, alien life within him. At least the exhaustion had kept *that* particular nightmare at bay.
Alex reflected on all the terrible experiences of his recent past and the nightmares they had induced; from the abandonment in the dark missile silo to the horror of being held down while his arm was severed from his body, and yet neither of these could compare to the nightmare image of his stomach exploding outwards in a spray of blood and guts as the creature clawed its way from its unnatural womb. Intellectually, he knew this image had more to do with a horror film he had seen as a youth, but equally, in his case, reality seemed to be paralleling fiction.
He hauled himself up from the bed and took a good long look at himself in the dressing mirror, wondering whether Mulder had seen beyond his youthful looks and his love-marked body to notice the unexpected curve of his stomach. With a heartfelt sigh he turned away from his own image and took to the shower, washing away the evidence of spent passion from abdomen and inner thigh.
He held his upturned face into the powerful spray, enjoying the sensation of hot water cascading down the length of his body until the water started to cool off as the reservoir emptied.
By the time he returned to the bedroom he had planned out the rest of his day. Out of duty to himself, he would check the PO Box to see if Barnes had, posthumously, kept his side of their bargain, and then he would return here and wait for Mulder.
His eyes widened in disbelief at the sight of the thick envelope squeezed into the mail box. He ripped it open and withdrew the heavy files, the name typed upon the first one confirming they were the ones he needed. He slid them back inside the envelope and, with a surreptitious glance around, he slipped out of the building. His first thought was to return to Mulder's apartment and read them there but then he realized how dangerous that might be... and, to be truthful, he wasn't ready to share his recent experience with Mulder. He wanted time to assimilate all the facts before he allowed Mulder in, and he wanted to see Mulder look at him with love one more time before all remained in those hazel eyes was the obsessive gleam of anticipation of a 'truth' about to be uncovered.
After making certain he had not been followed, Krycek rented a room in a seedy motel that was obviously used mainly by prostitutes judging by the demand for payment by the hour rather than by the day.
He spread the files over the top of the bed and selected the one that detailed Dessiman's experiment. Ten minutes later, Krycek wasn't sure whether to laugh of cry. He had expected to learn that there was a monster growing inside him and wasn't disappointed, but monsters came in many forms.
Visions danced behind his unseeing eyes as the true horror of what he carried came home to him. His mind replayed Spender's words in a new light. The Smoker had wanted revenge for his part in turning his son, Jeffrey, against him. On reflection, Krycek realized that Spender had committed the ultimate revenge upon him. Suddenly, everything was falling into place and...
Krycek shoved his hands over his mouth and raced to the squalid bathroom, barely making it to the toilet bowl before he began to retch violently. His muscles protested as he continued to heave long after his stomach had emptied. Finally, he slid to the side, resting his forehead against the cool porcelain. A few more minutes passed before he found the strength to stand. On shaky legs he moved to the sink and splashed cold water over his face.
He dragged himself back into the bedroom and re-settled himself upon the worn out bed. Picking up Dessiman's file, he flicked through the reports until he located the necessary information, and sighed. Now the initial horror had worn off he started to consider his options and realized, for the first time, that Spender may actually have been telling the truth about one thing. There was no reason why he should not survive this ordeal. It was all there, and none of the required techniques were beyond the skills of a competent surgeon. All he had to do was find one.
He barked out a short laugh of derision.
|| Yeah? And where are you gonna find this surgeon? ||
There was one other problem. Even if he managed to find a surgeon who was willing to cut him open and removed this thing, how was he going to buy himself enough time for the procedure and subsequent recovery? Spender's goons had been dogging his footsteps for weeks with a single-mindedness that he had not seen since he went on the run with the MJ-12 tape. At that time, his only recourse had been to leave the country but, even then, they had still come after him and he had been forced to flee from country to country until he finally ended up in Hong Kong. This time he knew that option was not open to him. That first time he had escaped by not letting Spender know he was alive until moments before he boarded a plane. He had no doubts that Spender would have people stationed at every international air and seaport. Of course, he could try to leave overland... go north into Canada or south into Mexico.
Krycek dragged a hand across his eyes, the throb of a tension headache making its presence known. All of those options required money, a commodity he had precious little of these days - and neither the time nor the means to acquire it without putting himself in further danger. He stared back down at the file. Despite everything, he felt confidence suffuse him for the first time in months. It seemed as if a great, black cloud had lifted and his world was bathed in light once more.
A glance at his wristwatch warned him that he had little time remaining if he was to return to Mulder's apartment. He started to gather up the files and caught sight of the one that held the most relevance to himself - the one that bore his name. His first instinct was to destroy it, but, finally, the need to know overwhelmed his concern at having his worst fears confirmed.
Krycek flipped open the cover and scanned the first section. The notes mainly detailed the initial preparation his body had undergone before the... thing was implanted. The next section held the information he was dreading. He thought he had prepared his mind to accept the worst but the names that jumped from the page left him gasping for breath. His world seemed to darken around the edges as he fought to remain conscious, the shock of discovery too much for his already fragile state of mind; the file dropping from his numbed fingers. Taking deep breaths he brought himself back under control and, as memories of the past, both distant and recent, crowded into his head he found himself facing a terrible new dilemma.
There was one thing he did know... he couldn't return to Mulder.
Seven Weeks Later
He had moved around a lot, and they had been one step behind him all of the way, relentless in their pursuit, and yet Alex got the impression that they could have captured him on several occasions - if they had been willing to inflict a small amount of damage upon him. He sneered. While he carried this *thing* inside him they would not risk damaging him in case *it* was also damaged.
He shivered uncontrollably and pulled the thin cover around his too-thin shoulders, trying to find a more comfortable position in the back of the pick-up truck he had stolen only the day before. At least it had a cover over the flatbed which reduced the chill factor from the cool night breeze. As he curled up in the darkness he felt *it* squirming within him; a strange sensation that he was sure he would never get used to. At first it had felt like butterflies in his stomach, gradually building over the weeks to a flopping sensation as the creature moved within its genetically manufactured sac of protective fluid. Now, seven months after being impregnated with the creature, it had grown large enough for its appendages to land blows and kicks.
He sighed, his breath shuddering. When he first realized what it was he wanted to rip it out of his body - tear into his own flesh and abort the alien life form, but now, after all these months on the run together, knowing that its very existence had protected him from a bullet or a bomb, he could almost feel some empathy with it; an unwanted need to protect it in return.
Of course, there was another reason why he felt protective...
|| Jeez! I'm babbling away in my own head. ||
Alex closed his eyes and curled up as best he could under the circumstances.
*Think warm thoughts*
He sneered as Skinner's words came back to haunt him. He had been thinking warm thoughts for a long time now - for years. Sometimes it was the warmth of a blazing log fire to take the chill off his bones, other times, like now, it was the warmth of another body pressed close to his own to take the chill off his very soul, but not just *any* body - he wanted Fox Mulder; his lover of a single night.
With nothing better to do his thoughts traced a path back through the years to the beginning. He saw again, in his mind's eye, the rangy figure clad only in a pair of close fitting red speedos; had watched that figure slice though the water doing lap after lap. He had stood beside that man at the urinals, sneaking glances at the large cut penis, a thrill of pleasure suffusing him when he realized Mulder had taken the same liberty with him.
Alex fantasized about the long, lean muscles, the athletic body toned through a daily regimen of jogging. He remembered the feel of that body as they went one-on-one. Mulder had always beat him at basketball even though they were of similar height, but Mulder had the greater skill borne out of more practice and a love of the game. He wondered whether Mulder would be any good at the games in which *he* had excelled; slamming hard into an opponent on the ice hockey rink; twisting and turning at high speed down a treacherous slope, watching the plumes of powdery snow fly into the air as you slide to a halt at the end of the run.
Finally, he allowed himself the luxury of remembering how it felt to be writhing under that sweat-soaked body; how it felt to be taken, hard and fast, his ass stretched around that large organ, the sound of skin slapping skin as Mulder embedded himself to the hilt with each thrust. He remembered the sharp bites, the bruising grip of those hands on his hips, the moan of *his* name as Mulder bathed his innards in his hot ejaculate.
Tears formed behind his closed eyes as he remembered the tenderness that followed, and the promise he had made to wait for Mulder.
"But I had to go."
His whisper seemed too loud in the small space under the cover so he fell silent, and hoped that a dreamless sleep would overtake him soon.
Dana Scully glanced across at her partner as he picked at the slice of pizza. She had ordered in his favorite, hoping it might entice him to eat but to no avail. Whatever was playing on his mind had taken a firm grip that refused to let go. She had never seen him looking so despondent, not since that time when he had lost his faith just when she thought she had finally come around to believing in his esoteric theories. As it turned out, her belief had been short-lived and she had paid him a visit expecting, for once, to find themselves in accord only to discover him sitting in the dark, the spark once more firing behind those chameleon eyes. On that occasion he had mumbled something about curve balls and inextricable relationships. Now, as she sat watching him fade away before her eyes, she wondered what had happened that night to reaffirm his belief. If she knew then, perhaps she would be able to duplicate it and bring Mulder back from the apathy that consumed him.
They talked late into the night and, reading between the lines, Scully realized that what ailed Mulder had something to do with love - or the loss of it. She racked her brain trying to remember if Mulder had mentioned anyone - even in passing - over the past few months but, apart from an increased vehemence towards Alex Krycek, there had been no one who sparked any great emotion in the man.
Eventually Mulder departed, his promise to eat a hearty breakfast sounding hollow to her ears. When the buzzer went maybe ten minutes later, Scully smiled, convinced it was Mulder returning with a dire need to pour out all his woes. She opened the door expectantly to find only darkness in the hallway beyond.
"Hello, is anyone there?"
A shuffle of feet made her freeze, and she cursed herself for opening the door without first checking who was out there. Just as she was about to slam the door shut and make a dash for her gun, she heard someone clear their throat.
The voice was familiar. She narrowed her eyes and tried to pierce the darkness.
"Who is it?"
Her eyes widened as Alexei Krycek stepped out of the deep shadows, and then they narrowed, her mouth forming a tight line of anger as she recognized Mulder's ex-partner.
"What do you want, Krycek?"
"I need your help... as a doctor."
"You can bleed to death for all I care, Krycek."
His eyes crinkled up in a depreciating smile and she noticed, for the first time, how thin he had become, almost emaciated; the sharp angles of his strangely youthful face were too prominent, the clothes hung around his shoulders as if they were many sizes too big - and yet she had remembered him to have quite a stocky frame, as tall as Mulder and yet slightly broader of shoulder. Strangely enough, it was only his slightly more effeminate features, so delicate, so elfin in comparison, that had made him seem slighter than Fox Mulder.
As he turned to walk away, shoulders slumped in defeat, she felt her compassion rise and reach out to the forlorn figure.
"Wait." He paused and glanced back at her over his shoulder. "You can come inside."
With true professionalism, Scully hid her surprise when she saw him in better light. Her first impression, that he had lost too much weight, had been correct. But more than that, he was dirty, disheveled, and battle-fatigued, as if he had been running too hard for too long.
|| Perhaps he is on the run again. Got sick and needs help so desperately that he has been forced to turn to me. ||
She eyed his worn, baggy clothing, seeing the stains and barely avoided wrinkling up her nose at the smell of stale sweat. When she looked back into his face, he seemed embarrassed, eyes sliding away from her own.
"Mulder has some spare clothes stashed here - for emergencies. They should fit you. The bathroom's that way."
Her eyes widened slightly in horror when she thought, for one moment, that he was going to start to cry. As he moved in the direction indicated, she wondered how long it had been since he had last taken care of himself - and how long since someone else had taken care of him. She pushed those thoughts aside and went into the closet in her bedroom where Mulder had placed a spare set of sweat pants and sweatshirt - just in case. She left the clothes folded up on the floor just outside the bathroom door and then retreated back to the main room as the sound of the shower started up.
Twenty minutes later she heard light footsteps stop at the threshold. She stood up to face him, and gasped in shock at the obvious bulge that stretched the clothing around his abdomen.
"You said you have a file."
"There's nothing in it of any value."
"Why don't I be the judge of that."
Krycek looked at her a little cagey, nervously licking his lower lip.
"I'd rather you didn't see... It's a little personal."
"Oh, so it's okay for me to put my hand up your ass but not to read this file. What are you trying to hide, Krycek?"
He frowned, lips pursed together in contemplation.
"It goes no further than you and me. Mulder is kept out of the loop."
She watched him turn his head aside from her in embarrassment, but the naked vulnerability in that expression had been masked by the time he turned back. She sighed and nodded her agreement reluctantly, and watched as he reached into an inside pocket and removed a floppy disk, passing it to her without a murmur. He had scanned in every page of the files Barnes had left for him knowing it would be difficult to run with those bulky paper files weighing him down. The actual files were safely stashed in a train station locker.
Scully seated herself in front of her laptop and inserted the disk.
"I'll go get us some coffee."
She gave a disinterested 'okay' but paused to watch him walk to the kitchen, strangely moved by the trust he had placed in her, and equally surprised by the trust she had placed in him.
When she finally reached for the coffee and took a sip, she scrunched up her face. It was stone cold and a quick check showed her that she had been reading solidly for more than an hour. Scully rubbed her tired eyes and pushed the errant strands of red hair from her elfin face. On the easy chair opposite, Krycek sat staring at her, but she had no idea what thoughts were running around his head as his face was expressionless. There was, obviously, something in those files that had him on edge but she had seen nothing except page after page of the most amazing medical procedures. She looked at him in a new light; seeing the roundness of his abdomen, finally realizing that he was the living proof that the experiment she was reading about had come to fruition. According to the data, he would not be the first to reach this point in the experiment, but something told her that he was, probably, their most important test subject nonetheless.
The click of the door pulled her head around sharply and Krycek reacted as fast as his physical condition would allow, pushing himself out of the chair and into the deeper shadows of the room.
"Mulder?" Scully intercepted him on the threshold of the room. "I thought you were going home to get some sleep?"
Mulder looked at her askance, instantly aware of her hesitancy despite the apathy that lay heavy on his heart and soul.
"Am I interrupting something, Scully? Got a man stashed away in there?" He grinned wearily, pretending to try and see over her shoulder and almost laughed when she confirmed his suspicion as her eyes widened and then darted away back into the room. "Way to go, Scully. I'll come back..."
The grin fell from his face when the flash of a car light passing outside illuminated the dark corner opposite for a second to reveal the face of a man he both loved and hated in equal measure. He hissed his one-time lover's name and lunged past Scully, fists falling upon the shocked, vulnerable man before either could stop him. The click of a safety catch being released penetrated at the same time his enraged mind registered the difference in the frame beneath him.
"Mulder! Back away!"
Shocked eyes met pain-filled green eyes before his head whipped around to find Scully standing a few feet away, body held in a shooting stance, gun aimed directly at his vulnerable back. He held his arms away from his body and stepped away from the fallen man. He had intended to deliver a few hard kicks to the prone body but the dual shock of his partner's suddenly protective attitude towards Krycek, and the unfamiliar contours of what *had* been a familiar body, had stunned him. He turned until he could see both clearly.
Scully lowered the gun slowly and watched as her partner staggered back until the back of his knees hit the edge of the couch and he sat down abruptly.
Mulder frowned, then his eyes widened as he remembered the disemboweled victims he and Scully had discovered during the course of their investigations on the X-Files, their liquefied innards having provided nutrients for the alien parasite until it grew mature enough to claw its way out of its human womb.
"How... How long have you got?"
Mulder watched as Krycek struggled to his feet, shaking his head at the offered help from Scully, and then sink back into the easy chair. Even from the other side of the room, Mulder could see the sorrow in those sea-green eyes.
"I don't know."
"I've been reading the files. I believe there's an excellent chance of removing it without killing Krycek, but I'll need an ultrasound just to be certain. The FBI lab has the facilities... if we can get him in there."
Mulder nodded, his eyes never moving from Krycek's face.
"Okay... but first, we need to talk... alone."
Scully looked from one man to the other, wary of leaving them alone together in the same room after Mulder's earlier attack. Krycek caught her eyes and gave her a reassuring nod.
"I'll go make a fresh pot of coffee."
Once they were alone, Mulder seemed to slump, his eyes losing their intensity, softening in bewilderment. The silence grew between them until Mulder finally spoke.
"You promised to wait for me. Was that just another one of your lies?"
"No. I... something happened. I couldn't stay."
The small crease above Krycek's nose deepened as he tried to find an acceptable explanation for running out on Mulder.
"Because I didn't want him hurting you to get to me."
"Cut the crap, Krycek. You weren't too bothered about that when you knocked on my door the night before..."
Krycek ran a hand through his hair, pushing the over-long, mahogany strands back from where they cascaded over his forehead to cover his eyes. He had hoped to avoid seeing Fox Mulder; hoped to avoid having *this* conversation but, in hindsight, it had been inevitable. He should have expected that, somehow, Mulder would come back into his life.
Coming to Dana Scully had been a risk, but a necessary one. He had used up all his contacts; he'd had no one else to turn to for medical aid, relying purely on the old adage 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. There was no doubt that Dana Scully looked upon the Consortium as her own personal enemy. They had killed her sister, and they had taken away her chance of having a family of her own when they stripped her body of every ova.
It was obvious that, despite all she knew from reading the files, Scully had yet to reach the part that had sent him running from Mulder's embrace. Perhaps it was nearing time for him to lay all the cards on the table, but not *just* yet.
"Mulder... Can this wait until later? Once Scully has done all her tests then maybe we can all sit down and discuss this."
Mulder's lips tightened and, for one moment, Krycek was convinced he was going to disagree but then Mulder seemed to relent, his eyes closing in resignation.
Getting Krycek into the building proved far easier than they had expected and, fifteen minutes later, Scully had Krycek lying on his back with his abdomen exposed. She squirted a globule of gel onto the imaging head and moved it backwards and forwards across the taut skin while Mulder looked on.
"It's... it's a baby!"
"Gee, Mulder, you're so observant. What were you expecting? An alien? Worried some creature with sharp teeth was gonna burst outta my chest and ruin your breakfast."
"Yeah... well... shame the father wasn't present for the viewing."
"I'm not talking about you..."
"Neither was I."
Mulder stared hard into the tired eyes, his mouth gaping open in realization. "No. No way, Krycek. There's no way they could have gotten a..."
"The indiscretions of a young Oxford undergraduate, selling himself for a round of beers down the local pub."
Mulder's eyes widened in horror as he remembered the joke trip to the Sperm Bank with a couple of fellow students. He recalled, quite clearly, being given the specimen jar he had to fill, remembered the sniggering as they each made their way to a separate small cubicle; sniggers turning to laughter on seeing the porn magazines used for focus. He had blushed when he noticed that it wasn't just dirty pictures of women fondling themselves. Several magazines were of a decidedly Gay nature and he had filled his jar as his fantasies focused on a young, dark-haired man being fondled intimately by another man; the perfect, muscular ass held tight against the other's groin as he was filled by the large erection.
"Why? Why me?"
"What better way of taking his revenge... than making me carry his grandchild."
Mulder took a step back. Spender had already alluded to the possibility that he was his son... something that Mulder had tried very hard to deny even though the means of proving that Bill Mulder was *not* his biological father were easily available. He swallowed hard, knowing Krycek had no reason to lie about this.
"Where did the rest of the genetic material come from? From the ova stolen from female abductees?"
Scully raised her head, staring at Krycek for a moment as she wondered if they could have used *her* own ova in this experiment. She had long held the belief that she had been partnered with Fox Mulder in the hope that more than just a working relationship would develop between them.
Krycek snorted in derision, although by all accounts *that* would most certainly have been an easier option for the Consortium scientists than the method taken. For a moment, Krycek wondered how much Mulder really knew of the Colonist's intention, that the specially-bred bees used to pass on the virus containing the Colonist embryo would be genetically modified to only seek out humans with a low testosterone level - woman, children... the elderly. The agenda of the Consortium scientists was to counteract this plan by devising a method of male/male reproduction.
"Okay... so where *did* it come from?"
He tapped his own chest.
"You?" Mulder smiled broadly, disbelief so clearly written across his face. "That's not possible. You cannot use two sperm samples to produce a new life."
"Yeah... and you cannot clone a sheep... I say; hello, Dolly, looking swell, Dolly..."
"Hey, and I always thought I had a good singing voice."
"Just shut the fuck up... Fuck!"
"What? You're not going to insist on an abortion, are you? Bit late in the day for that."
"Why? Why didn't you get rid of it?"
"I didn't know what *it* was until quite late on - when I got hold of the files. No opportunity to do anything about it 'til now... Been on the run so long..."
Krycek swallowed hard, aware he had revealed far more than he intended. His expression hardened.
"Don't worry, Mulder. I won't be taking you to court for maintenance. In fact, you can stay the hell away from me - and the baby..."
"No. If that kid's part mine then I have a right to be there..."
"A right? You have no rights in this, Mulder. This is *my* body. Just because you fucked me once doesn't make..."
Krycek stopped, eyes widening in horror at what he had just revealed as he heard Scully's sharp intake of breath. He watched as Mulder's eyes sought out his partner's and closed his own, afraid to witness Mulder's offhand denial... or worse still, some confession that it had meant nothing. After all, what had Mulder offered him that night? A mercy fuck.
Looking from one man to the other, one face full of misery and remorse, the other just as miserable, Scully knew it was true - and she knew exactly when *it* had happened. Everything had started to fall into place; Mulder's apathy, Krycek's reluctance for her to see his personal file... his insistence that Mulder be kept in the dark. It was like something from a Shakespearean tragedy; webs of lies and deceit that had entangled them all.
Mulder stood there at a loss for words. What he wanted to say, and yet what he *couldn't* say was that he wanted Alex; that he wanted this child that was still a part of Alex, even if it should turn out that Krycek was lying and neither of them was the biological father.
Krycek opened his eyes and spoke softly when it became obvious that Mulder was not going to deny or belittle their single night of passion.
"Thought it might have been Jeffrey's at first. They tried splicing his with mine but couldn't get a viable embryo." He gave a wry grin. "You know, your old man was pretty upset at having to - dispose - of poor Jeffrey. Such a bleeding heart."
He felt the scanner replaced on him as Scully resumed her self-appointed task. Neither of the FBI agents spoke for a long time.
"I think we can perform the equivalent of a C-section to remove the child."
"Can *you* do it?"
Scully shook her head slowly. If push came to shove then, theoretically, she *could* do it but she lacked the practical experience and, despite the everyday nature of this kind of operation, it was still major surgery requiring a skilled surgical team. In addition, Krycek's circumstances were, obviously, a *lot* different from a pregnant woman.
"Krycek, I can't take that kind of risk. It wouldn't be ethical - let alone practical - to even contemplate it."
"What option do I have? You'll notice I'm not exactly equipped for natural childbirth."
Scully brushed the hair from her forehead and looked to Mulder, begging him to have a solution to this. If Krycek was telling the truth then she did not want to have either his or the child's death on her hands. She wasn't sure if Mulder would ever forgive her for the loss of either.
Mulder's eyes took on a deadly serious glint and she could imagine the intelligence behind those beautiful hazel eyes quietly sorting through all the options; trying to find a way to keep both Krycek and the child safe. She saw one idea light up his eyes and then fade away; a wave of despair crossing his features. Her own first thought was to rummage through her memory of everyone she knew in the medical field, but even if she knew someone with the necessary skill and facilities, how was she going to explain away the fact that the patient was a man?
"We have to go to Skinner. We have to trust him to get Alex both protection and medical assistance. The drawback is, once the ball starts rolling, the Consortium will know where to find Alex." Mulder turned pleading eyes on the man he had come to love. "Will you trust me?"
Krycek swallowed hard, aware that he had little choice *but* to place his faith in this man but, as he looked into those beseeching eyes, he saw there was far more revealed than this request. He saw the love for him that he believed would never be offered.
"I trust you. I trust you both."
Private Medical Facility
Within hours of Mulder making the phone call to AD Skinner, Krycek found himself being assisted into a bed in a secluded private facility just outside of DC. From the drive in he noticed the grounds were well kept and the building - although old in appearance - was well maintained. Inside he was not surprised to see a plush interior with carpeted lounges and real wood furnishings.
His room was almost as luxurious as the 'cell' he had stayed in during the early days of the experiment and for a fear-filled moment, he wondered if he had been drugged on the journey and only believed this installation was barely an hour's drive from Scully's home.
Mulder stayed by his side throughout, despite 'requests' from Skinner to go home and rest. He refused to leave even when directly asked by the hospital administration, for which Krycek was extremely grateful, suddenly afraid to be left with strangers.
The door to the room opened without warning, and Mulder had to quickly arrest the motion he made for his gun as a group of three people in white coats entered. He noticed the awe and barely concealed eagerness in each face as they looked upon this unique sight. An Asian male stepped forward and extended a hand to Krycek.
"I am Dr. Ling. I will be part of the surgical team. This is Dr. Bateman, who will monitor your condition while under general anesthetic, and Dr. Morris, a pediatrician, who will be responsible for the child once it is born. Perhaps we can have some privacy with Mr. Krycek?"
The last was directed at Mulder but he was not given the opportunity to respond.
"I want him to stay... and I want him and Dr. Scully to be in the operating room when you do this."
"That's highly unorthodox..."
"So is a man having a baby."
Dr. Ling smiled, conferred with the two others then turned back.
"We have no objection to Dr. Scully being present, however, if Agent Mulder will agree not to interfere in any way during the operation then he may attend... but... I will have a security guard prepped and waiting outside to remove him forcefully if needs be. You have to understand that this is for your own safety - and for the safety of this miraculous child."
Mulder nodded his head in agreement to their terms and then stood back while the doctors moved in on his one-time lover, almost jealous of the way they were allowed to touch him when his own fingers had been itching to reach out from the moment he'd seen Krycek in Scully's apartment. He bowed his head, his cheeks reddening in shame as he realized how he had missed that opportunity by laying blows instead of caresses on that vulnerable flesh.
Various pieces of equipment were wheeled in, including a portable scanner. Ling made dozens of notes as Morris examined the fetus on the small screen, reciting various figures and codes. Eventually they cleaned the messy gel away and re-covered their patient, much to Krycek's relief.
"I would estimate the fetus to be 35 weeks gestation. I realize that this does not match up with the dates given in the files handed to us by Dr. Scully but, this is an unusual pregnancy." Ling paused. "I would recommend that we wait at least one more week before operating."
"Can you handle that?"
Krycek looked up into questioning hazel eyes.
"The recommendation is as much for *your* benefit as for the child. Your current physical condition is pretty poor. A week would give your body some recovery time from the malnutrition. In fact, I'd like to kick-start that recovery with a nutrient drip."
Krycek nodded his head in agreement but then turned away, too tired to deal with any more. He desperately needed food - and sleep - but not necessarily in that order.
A nurse entered and attached the drip not long after the doctors left but he barely noticed, finally giving in to the incredible fatigue that overtook him once his mind decided it had done all it could to protect his body.
Eight Days Later
Krycek watched Fox Mulder pace about the room like an expectant father, glancing back at the bed every so often with a fear-filled countenance. He sighed deeply - and loudly.
"Mulder. Stop the fucking pacing. You're driving me nuts."
Mulder turned, an apologetic smile replacing the fear-tinged grimace momentarily. He moved over, sank down into the chair beside Alex and reached for his hand. In the softened light, with his dark hair framing his face against the white background of the pillow, Krycek looked little more than a child - a frightened child - and Mulder felt almost guilty for the lewd thoughts that filled his head whenever he gazed upon the angelic features. He reached out, with his other hand, to push an errant lock of mahogany hair from where it flopped over the tall forehead. As his hand drew back he felt the beat of those long dark lashes against it but still he resisted the urge to lean down and kiss that sweet face. Instead, Mulder turned his head away. He didn't want Alex to see the flames of desire that licked through his nerve endings, burning from his eyes. He wanted Alex to feel safe with him; wanted Alex to trust him, and felt that could not happen if Alex believed he was wanted only for his body; or for the child he carried.
|| How do I convince you? ||
For Krycek, the last eight days had been full of frustration. At first he had been too depleted in energy, his body too weak from months on the run to do anything but lie still and recuperate. By the time he had regained enough vigor to pursue Fox Mulder, he found his one-time lover avoiding contact at all costs, even though he rarely left Krycek's side. Mulder's one concession being to hold his hand.
The long fingers wrapped around his own felt so good, the thumb gently caressing the back of his hand. He remembered the way those fingers had blazed a path of fire along his body from head to toe; remembered the feel of them in his ass, stretching him as that luscious mouth alternately bit and sucked on his tender flesh. He wondered what it would be like to make love with Mulder slowly, passionately... but gently. Mulder had taken him both times that night so long ago, barely bothering to prepare him before thrusting in deep and hard, but he hadn't cared at the time. Anything from Mulder was better than nothing.
A nurse came in and gave him a pre-med, preparing him for the surgery. He felt the drug start to take hold, felt a fuzziness at the edges of his vision; a calmness radiating through his mind.
The journey through the hospital corridors was short and Mulder remained near by the whole time only leaving his side to get gowned up.
Krycek looked up at Dr. Bateman as the IV was attached, taking a deep breath as he felt the iciness of the anesthetic creep up his arm. Another face looked over him just as he felt the drug take hold; his eyes widening in shock and fear.
"No. No. No."
The room was dimly lit but Krycek knew he was back in his bed. His lower abdomen was sore, and he hissed as a spear of muted pain hit him as he tried to sit up. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and snapped his head around.
Mulder was sitting in the comfortable armchair in the corner of the room, a bundle cradled in his arms.
"He's asleep. Looks a lot like you. Got this shock of dark hair."
"Dessiman was here."
"As I went under - I saw him. He leaned right over me."
Mulder sat up straighter, his mind flitting back to the doctor who had been the one to remove the child from its unnatural womb. He had not seen the man before but no-one seemed to question his presence, nor his ability. The man had held up the child in triumph before smiling down at the opened body of the man on the operating table. Mulder had assumed that he was overcome by this amazing technological breakthrough, the birth of a living human gestated inside a male; the product of two males.
Mulder could not fault the man his priorities though. He had handed the child to the pediatrician, and then returned to his main task of ensuring the 'mother' was properly closed up and cared for. In fact, Mulder was impressed by the attention to detail, as the man spent far longer than normally expected for this type of birth, taking great care to ensure the stitches would be as near invisible as possible. Afterwards, the surgeon had gone to the other end of the table and had stroked a hand through Krycek's hair. Again, Mulder had interpreted this as a sign of awe for the miracle he had just witnessed.
"What about the baby?"
"Scully never let him out of her sight. Not even for an instant. Just as she promised. And I've been here, holding him, ever since."
Krycek dropped back to the covers, feeling drained by the release of the fear he had held that they - that the Smoker - had somehow stolen away *his* child and replaced it with another.
"We never did discuss names."
"We can't keep him."
The silence in the room grew, broken only by the sound of Mulder carefully gaining his feet and moving towards the bed.
"Do you want to see him?"
Despite a sudden urge to say 'no', Krycek looked over at the tiny bundle as Mulder pulled back the blue blanket.
"I always thought all babies looked like ET... but he's... he's..."
"He's perfect... like a little doll."
Krycek reached out a hand and touched the tiny fingers that lay curled up beneath the baby's chin, he was rewarded with a snuffle and movement as the tiny fist waved into the air. Krycek looked back up at Mulder, holding his eyes.
"We can't keep him. Neither of us leads the kind of life that would ensure safety and a decent upbringing."
"I've been thinking about that." Mulder took a deep breath. "Why don't we get out of this business. Why don't we go somewhere away from all this. I have enough stashed away; an inheritance from my... from my father."
Krycek smiled, feeling warm inside that Mulder had included him in his plans, and then he felt a shiver as if someone had walked across his grave.
"It's a nice dream, Mulder, but they'll never let us go. Anyhow, who'll fight them if not you?" Krycek looked away. "I know a young couple, lost their own little girl a few years back, and can't have another one themselves. I *know* they'd give him a good life; a safe life... well, as safe as any life is these days. They'd love him, protect him... and I could keep tabs on him. Watch him grow." Krycek looked back into hazel eyes brimming with unshed tears. "It'll be for the best, Mulder."
"Best for who? I don't wanna lose you, Alex. Not when I just found you again."
Krycek felt his lips tremble at this declaration; knowing it might be the closest he would ever get to the words he longed to hear fall from those beautiful lips.
"Give me time, Alex. He believes I'm his son; believes *this* baby is his Grandson. Maybe I can make a deal with him to leave us alone."
"A bargain with the Devil."
Krycek sneered, both at the thought of Spender ever letting them go - and at the thought that Mulder might actually want *him*. He watched as Mulder gently placed the baby into his cot before turning back and seating himself on the bed.
Mulder reached out and ran a finger down the side of Krycek's face, from temple to jaw. He leaned forward and pressed moist lips against his lover's, his tongue licking lightly across the soft surface, requesting permission to deepen this caress. He sighed into the mouth that opened beneath his own, luxuriated in the taste and feel of the hot interior before pulling away.
Krycek was taken aback by the gentleness, the slow burning passion of that kiss, so unlike the harsh, biting, sucking kisses from that night.
"When you didn't come back I replayed that night over and over, and I wasn't surprised you didn't wait for me that day. I never meant to hurt you, Alex. I don't want any more violence between us. I *want* you... I-I couldn't bear to go on again without you." Mulder sat up straight and looked deeply into Krycek's green eyes. "A bargain with the Devil, you say? I'd offer him my *soul* if you were the prize."
Krycek felt his resolve crumbling. He wanted this. He wanted Mulder so badly. He had always wanted Fox Mulder; had wanted him since the first day their eyes met over his ignored, outstretched hand. Why did he have to have his wish come true now? Why did wishes always have to come with heavy baggage attached? Why couldn't everything be simple?
"It can be simple."
Krycek looked up in astonishment, not realizing he had spoken out loud.
"I can *make* it simple."
That brought a smile back to his lips.
"When have you ever made anything simple, Mulder? You're the most complicated person I've ever met."
"And you're the most complicated, most stubborn, most dangerous... most beautiful person I've ever met."
"I thought it was supposed to be 'opposites attract'?"
"Does this mean you'll give us a try?"
Krycek sighed and nodded, and was rewarded by the biggest grin he'd ever seen. For some reason he had always given Mulder a chance; had always followed his lead... even to Tunguska. Why should it change now? As he lay back down and closed his eyes, a smile playing about his own lips, he hoped his dreams would be filled with those sparkling eyes full of love for him.
Something dragged him from a deep sleep, quiet footsteps moving across the carpeted floor. Krycek opened his eyes a sliver and glanced around the still dimly lit room. He could make out a figure standing over the cot, staring down at the sleeping infant.
All tiredness fled from his body as his mind put a name to that shadowy figure: Spender. Krycek pulled himself up, biting his lip to prevent the cry of pain his sudden movement caused as it pulled against the stitches.
Spender had turned to face him, the ever present cigarette in his hand was, unusually, unlit.
"Well done, Alex. Dr. Dessiman was overjoyed at being given the opportunity to be present at the first live birth." Spender cocked his head to one side. "Perhaps you were not aware that all his previous attempts had failed. For some inexplicable reason, the fetus tended to die around the 24 week mark - killing its parent as the modified body tried to abort it. A little difficult when there is no natural exit."
Spender moved over to stand beside the bed, gazing down at the still weakened younger man.
"Of course, for *you*, the plan was to remove the child before that occurred. Dr. Dessiman was confident they would be able to keep it alive in an incubator until fully matured. However, you decided to forego the pleasure of Dr. Dessiman's company."
A thin smile crept along the seamed lips as he recalled the overheard conversation that had taken place just a few short hours ago between Krycek and his son, Fox.
"A bargain with the Devil. *We* had a bargain, Alex, that you would see this experiment through to completion."
He glanced back towards the cot where the baby was snuffling. A small, pathetic wail filled the room as its tiny body deciding that it was time for another feed.
"It appears you have kept your side of the bargain, so I will keep mine. You are free to walk away..."
"Not without the child."
"That was never part of the agreement."
"If I recall correctly, the terms were 'once the experiment is concluded I will walk away from here alive and whole, both mentally and physically.' The child is part of me."
The smile on Spender's face grew wider.
"My son has been trying to contact me. He wants to 'bargain' for you, him and the child to be left alone, in return for removing both of you from 'the game'."
Spender moved back across the room and stroked one nicotine stained finger down the soft cheek, feeling the baby's tears against the pad of his finger. The baby turned his head, instinctively seeking a nipple to provide him with milk. Spender reached down and picked up the boy, his grandson, staring long and hard as if to etch this moment into his brain forever. He moved back to the bed and handed the baby to his former protégé.
"I agree to those terms."
Then he turned, and he walked away without another word, closing the door softly behind him.
UPDATED: 16th August 2000
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I started writing this story back in March 2000 in response to the RatB March 2000 Wet Alex challenge. As you can see, it has taken me months, mainly due to Real Life stepping on my toes. Hope it is worth all the time taken.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Many thanks to Aqualegia for beta'ing this story despite more than enough to do in her life already... THANK YOU!!