Title: Distance Covered series
Author: Naina
Spoilers: Christmas Carol, Emily, Deep Throat
Rating: PG for language
Category: SRA, Alternate Universe
Keywords: Scully/Krycek, Scully/Mulder, Character death

Summary: In the year 2000 Scully gets a surprise visitor who bears an even more surprising secret.

Notes: This starts in April of 2000. The character death occurs sometime this [US6] season. I'm positive there's some medical stuff in here that's totally implausible. Oh well, that's just the way things are. I actually plotted their route out on an USA map, if you'd like to follow along. Tempe is a suburb of Phoenix, AZ. Russian words will be scattered throughout the story.

Thanks To: Hays and Anna for making me watch, and Julie for sharing her dream. An enormous amount of appreciation to Rachel, Tyen and Chiara, You all are so great! Thanks for kicking my ass when needed. Shell, you remain on your pedestal, I'll throw you some Milanos. Love ya! I haven't before, but I should have given thanks to Jane St. Clair, whose story Half a World Away inspired me to give this a try. You have to admire someone whose talent makes your heart fill with grief even after the twentieth reading.


Part One: Plotting A Course

"In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
and he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut
him 'till he cried out, in his anger and his shame,
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains..."

-Simon and Garfunkel

It had been nine years now. Nine years since Scully had joined the Bureau. Seven years since she had started with the X-Files, and one year that she'd been back teaching at Quantico. Going over those nine years, Scully reasoned that she'd learned a great deal. About forensics and the paranormal and knowing when to be a skeptic and when to be a believer. She'd read and written hundreds of reports and could recite a criminal's MO and the autopsy reports by case number. She had, as one might say, seen it all.

But one thing Dana Scully, MD, Special Agent to the FBI and Forensic pathologist could not explain was why a mercenary for hire would knock politely on her door one warm evening in late April.

She peered through the little peekhole and drew back in alarm, hand straying to her hip to check that she hadn't taken her holster off yet. Standing broadside to the entrance, Scully threw the locks, drawing her weapon as she slowly opened the door.

"I'm armed," she said tersely. "Walk in slowly, hands in the air."

"You can frisk me if you want, Scully. I'm not armed tonight."

"Like hell you aren't."

He waited patiently, hands raised in resigned obedience as she patted him down thoroughly, finally taking a seat at her kitchen table when she finally seemed convinced he wasn't lying.

Scully sat across from him, gun back in her holster. He wasn't armed, she knew that now, but she still didn't trust him as far as she could spit. She stared at him for a few moments, until he flinched and looked away, sighing.

"You know, I admit we have a shitty past, Scully, but if you hate me just for Mulder's sake, you should just shoot me now and get it over with."

That grated on Scully's already taut nerves. The little shithead! She should take him up on his offer.

"What the hell do you know about Mulder?" God, her voice sounded like liquid nitrogen even to her own ears.

When he looked back at her, his eyes were soft, almost probing, and strangely sad. What the hell right did he have to look sad? "I know he died last year, in an accident. I know you're back at Quantico and that you assist with Violent Crimes."

She opened her mouth to comment, but he beat her to the punch. "The man who killed him had nothing to do with the Syndicate. We were as startled as anyone else to learn about it. Blame anyone Scully, just not us."

She stared at him again, mouth pursed and eyes glinting. She snorted finally and sat back, tiredness washing over her.

"What do you want Krycek?"

"I have to talk to you about Emily."

To her credit, Scully showed no surprise that he knew about her dead daughter. There seemed to be no limit to what information he could get his hands on. "What about her?"

"Do you know how she died? Why she died?"

"It had to do with her anemia, that it wasn't being treated."

Something glinted in Krycek's eyes, something Scully would have been hard-pressed to identify. "She was a hybrid, you knew that? Not a perfect one, but she had their DNA in her blood."

A frown tugged at her mouth and Scully glanced down. "Two years ago I would have said that that was impossible, but I know better now. She had that green material that caused the retrovirus. A pustule, at the back of her neck."

"There are more out there."

She looked up sharply. "What?"

"There are more children out there Scully. Not all of them are hybrids."

"You're full of shit," she stated, and rose to get something to drink.

Krycek watched her, knowing one of the reasons she was dismissing him outright was that it hurt. It had to hurt, hearing that there were more of her children out there, taken from her to what? To live a few years as an experiment, then die when the doctors had had their fun.

"You're right, Scully. Most of the time, I am full of shit." He caught her eyes as she reluctantly rejoined him at her kitchen table. "Not now. There is a baby waiting for you, it'll be born in a few weeks. All you have to do is go there with me to pick it up."

It was a few minutes before she spoke, fully digesting what he said.

"Why are you telling me this?"

"They expected you to pursue Emily, and find out everything you could about her."

"I couldn't. Her body was taken." Scully remembered opening the little white coffin, Mulder's flowers clutched in her other hand, to see nothing but a pile of sand and her necklace inside.

"We think that the rebels took it." Krycek replied quietly. "You couldn't tell anyone about how this child was created."

"A surrogate? That's what it is, from what I understand."

"You could use that, yes. There might be occasional testing, to check general health, and you couldn't contact or try to research the other children."

Scully watched his face as he talked, noticing how that gleam returned to his eyes and his cheeks flushed the faintest bit under his dark shadow. "You seem quite interested in this. Do you have any stake in it other than getting paid to get me there?" She knew whatever answer he gave her would be obscure, if not cryptic. Alex Krycek would have no reason to open up to her, if anyone.

She wasn't disappointed.

"I'm not being paid for any of this, Scully. I do have my reasons, but I'll tell you the rest later." He withdrew a folded sheet of paper from his jacket pocket, spreading it out before her.

"We would leave this Friday, the twenty-first, getting there in about five days. I'd plan on staying three or four weeks."

Scully looked at the paper. It listed their destination as Tempe, Arizona. She didn't say anything as he moved to the door, a figure all in black, eyes dark and hooded, moving from one shadow to the next.

"Think seriously about this Scully. I'll be back in two days for an answer."


Three days later

Scully hefted up her duffel bag, throwing it into the back of the navy blue Wrangler Krycek had procured. She grabbed her carryall, and poked her head over the passenger side door.

"What the hell, Krycek?"

"Huh?" He looked up from arranging their gear in the backseat.

"Are you insane? Automatic on a JEEP!?"

"Scully, do I need to remind you that I am with one working arm? You drive manual with one hand."

Scully smirked. "Well, if the Syndicate's so technologically advanced, wouldn't they be able to get you a real arm?" She was being a smart-ass, but he looked taken aback. "What?"

"Maybe. It's possible I might actually get one while we're there. They think they've mastered cloning the cells."

Scully just stared at him, teetering on the borderline between disgusted and impressed. He just kept making sure the soft-top was fastened securely, then slipped into the front seat, taping a map to the dashboard.

"Ready?"

"Guess so." Scully hopped in, feeling a tingle of cautious excitement. "Can't say I've ever driven cross-country before." She had, of course, being a navy brat, but in her mind she added, <at least, not with a mercenary at the wheel>

He gave her a dubious glance, then seemed to catch her silent addendum. "If you've been in this kind of situation before, Scully, then there's a lot of shit about you I don't know, huh?"

She didn't look over, just let her enigmatic smile flit over her features. "Tons."

Scully was at the wheel, heading southwest on I-59 through Alabama as the sun rose on the second day. She had the radio on, softly playing classical, and was humming along to herself. The sky was a thousand different colors on the horizon, and she wished she'd been up to see this more often. The world was always so calm and peaceful, serene, before daylight. Beside her, Krycek slept, head propped on his jacket. He let out a few soft snores when the piece ended and the announcer came on, and Scully couldn't keep herself from giggling.

"Wha-?" Krycek lifted his head, blinking rapidly.

"You snored, I'm sorry." Scully smiled. "Go back to sleep."

"S'okay. I was waking up anyway."

"Hungry?"

He nodded, running one palm over his grown-out buzz cut. Scully looked over briefly, then faced the road again. She'd always ruffled Mulder's soft cocoa hair when he woke, sleeping beside her on a plane or in the car. She resisted with Krycek, not knowing or liking him well enough to attempt that kind of familiarity.

"How old are you, Krycek?"

"Twenty-nine. Thirty in June."

She gave him a good hard look. She'd always figured him for closer to her age, not really knowing why. She knew now, knowing him better, that it was his eyes that belied his years in what they expressed. More like what they didn't express, actually. They were a lovely color; the shade of evergreens in the dead of winter, but the deep green was hard, flat almost, without the vivacious spark of those his age. She didn't wonder why. He'd seen more than her and Mulder combined, she'd bet on it.

He caught her staring, and shrugged. "No one who does what we do looks it, Scully."

What we do? She gave him a curious look.

"I meant as a whole. You, Mulder, me, the Syndicate. We all live the same lives. We just deal with that in different ways. You think the smoking man always looked that old?"

"You're- "

"I'm a kid, I know." He leaned back, staring out the window. "I was barely twenty-four when I met you and Mulder."

He kept talking, feeling somehow that Scully would stop him if she didn't want to know anything about him. She didn't. She listened, asking questions intermittently about his life, and it all just came out. Born and grew up in Toronto [I knew that, I just couldn't place the accent, she teased]. Normal kid all around, good grades, made varsity lacrosse all through high school. Went to UPenn, [you didn't think I was stupid did you Scully?], where he'd majored in sociology. Found out he wanted to be an agent his junior year, and after graduating, went straight into the academy. The Syndicate had spotted him in a defensive combat course, and had pushed him out early, to partner up with Mulder. They'd owned him from then on.

"I made some stupid choices, I know that." He glanced at her. Scully tilted her head, watching the road before them and saying nothing.

"It's not an excuse, but... When you live like I did, your choices are do what they ask or run like hell. I did all that to keep my ass alive." His voice was brittle, and he saw that she still didn't look at him. That was all right. He didn't expect her to forgive him. Ever.

Scully tried to bring up the subject of his time at the Academy a few times after that conversation, but he always changed the subject. He did it deftly, almost gently, saying little more than that she would eventually find out more. Not then, probably not for a while. "That's a story for another time, Scully."

Krycek yawned while they were waiting for the check, raising his hand a little too late to cover it. He'd driven the last part, I-20 west to where they were now, on 380 about three-quarters of the way through Texas. Goddamn big, empty state. If Montana was the Big Sky state, what did that make Texas? Cielo el Grande?

"We've made good time so far. What do you say we get a room tonight?" Scully asked, digging her wallet out as their waitress approached.

"Fine. I really don't want to drive tonight anyway, it's nasty out. I don't really want to find out what it takes to flip that thing."

They drove a little farther through the pouring rain down the main drag to the first motel, getting a room with a single queen bed. For one night, they were both exhausted enough to not care about the sleeping arrangements. Scully silently thanked God upon seeing that the room was clean and comfortable, with a working shower and cable. Sure as hell was better than some of the places Mulder had picked out. She was too tired from the constant traveling to do more than change into pajamas and climb into the bed. Ah, much better, she mused contentedly. Far more comfy than the passenger seat of the Jeep.

"Hey," came a soft voice on the other side of the room. Scully blinked, then looked up. Krycek was sitting at the tiny table, a map spread out before him. "I'll turn out the main light, but is it okay if keep a small lamp on? I'm gonna plan out the route for the rest of the trip."

"Sure. I'll be out in a minute, believe me."

Scully found herself being shaken awake much later, gasping for breath and finding her face wet with tears. She was crying openly, the dream still so fresh as a bleeding wound.

"Scully." His voice was right beside her, but he didn't touch her, not at all sure how she would react. Scully was never easy to read, to comfort, being too private and withdrawn. "You had a nightmare. You were calling for Mulder."

She nodded, using the sheet to wipe away the tears. She was sniffling, sure her eyes and nose were red but not caring enough to do anything about it. "The Capuzzi case. I was dreaming about the day he died."

Krycek reached over to the nightstand and grabbed the tissue box, setting it on the bed between them. Scully flashed him a grateful look, grabbing a few.

"Do you want to talk about it?" At her curious look, he added, "I don't know what happened, other than that it was an accident."

Scully stared for a while at the mattress, biting her lip. She shut her eyes finally. Krycek thought that she would say no, the infamous walls firmly in place, and insist on going back to sleep. Instead, she just began to tell the story, speaking in her doctor's clinical, detached tone.

"We were in western Pennsylvania, a serial murderer who claimed that he was setting people free from their demons. It wasn't even an X-File, just something the VCS wanted Mulder's profile on. We'd nailed his location, knew he was there and it just all went up in our faces." Scully blinked a few times and cleared her throat. She raised her head and Krycek knew she wasn't looking at him, wasn't seeing anything but the scene she described, clear as a bell.

"He was insane, literally so; he'd been in a hospital when he was a teenager for paranoid schizophrenia. Mulder was trying to talk to him, we didn't want to have to take him by force, but it backfired. The guy got Mulder in a headlock, saying that he was being controlled by his demons, and that he had to be saved. He was chanting wildly and..." Scully stopped to take a deep breath, fresh tears spilling over, "He had a gun, put it to Mulder's head and just pulled the trigger."

Scully pinched the bridge of her nose, crying silently. When Krycek reached to touch her shoulder she shrunk back, shaking her head slowly. For a long time was there was no sound save for Scully's occasional soft sobs. She eventually released a long, shaky breath and lay back down, scrunching her reddened eyes shut against the pillow. Krycek waited until she'd cried herself back to sleep, not saying a word. When her tears finally dried and her breathing deepened, he drew the covers over her, letting one hand linger on her cheek. It was a long while before he was able to sleep himself.

He woke the next morning seeing red. Krycek blinked a few times, lifting one hand to rub at his eyes. His fingers slipped over silky strands of hair, and he stiffened slightly in surprise, looking down. Scully was tucked against him, her hands curled under her chin like a child. He smiled, letting his palm rest lightly on her shoulder. A glance at the clock told him it was just past seven, but the warm, even breathing on his chest convinced him to sleep in, just this once. They had time.

There was someone holding her when she woke, not firmly, just a warm, callused palm resting on her upper back, reassuring. A man, not Mulder. Mulder was gone and anyway, this didn't smell like him. Scully blinked, opening her eyes halfway. Her nose brushed honey-colored skin that smelled warmly like Dove and sleep-sweat, dusted with dark brown hair. Without moving, she could see that the left arm ended a few inches after his shoulder joint. Krycek. Scully let out a puff of air, not relieved nor bothered by waking up like this. Movement on her back, a small, rubbed circle, indicated he too was awake.

"I shot him."

The movement stopped. "Hm?"

"I shot Capuzzi. He died the instant the trigger was pulled." He knew she meant Mulder.

Scully had forgotten, in the years that had passed since her days of constant moving, how big the states were out west. Virginia seemed big to her now, but the sheer amount of mileage they'd racked up from New Mexico alone made her think otherwise. She'd gotten used to her company now, and was starting to enjoy this trip. The easy comfort between them had strengthened a bit since her nightmares, assuaging her fear that it would bring discomfort.

She'd found that Krycek was friendly, funny even, one arm propped on the door easily as he joked with her, speeding down the highway headed west. He was presently reloading the disks in the CD changer while she piloted the Jeep. The top was down, as it had been for the last three days, since they'd passed through Alabama and into the sticky heat of Mississippi and Louisiana, and the wind raked its fingers through his seal-brown hair as it tangled hers into knots. <Who cares> she grinned, as the strains of Paul Simon poked through the soft howl of the wind.

He watched her stride back to the car from the "Welcome to Arizona" service station, a bottle of Coke in one hand, the other dabbing some more sunscreen on her already tanned face.

"It's hotter than hell out here," she muttered, setting the bottle on the passenger seat so she could spread the lotion with both hands.

He cracked a smile. "It's not even May yet. Gets up to one-ten in the summer." He pushed his sunglasses back into his hair to take a good look at her, hoping, praying even, that their camaraderie wouldn't dissipate after what he had to tell her.

"You wanted to know why I was so interested in these children?"

"Yeah. You gonna tell me?" She glanced up at him, stuffing the lotion into the glove box and leaning against the door.

"What did Mulder think of Emily, Scully?"

She frowned. "He liked her. I know he liked kids a lot. I think if she'd lived he would have been great with her."

"Did you ever run a PCR?"

"On Mulder? No. He would've flipped if I'd suggested that. The doctors never asked about it either." Her eyebrow tilted at him, following the lead he was giving her, but not quite sure where it was heading. "Are you suggesting he was her father?"

"No. They never took any opportunity to take a sample from him. All they did at Ellen's was erase his memory of what he saw there. They only took samples, blood and semen, from people close to them, men who were involved but not so much that they were of any real importance."

In china blue eyes there came a spark of knowledge, flaring slightly as her logical mind went a step ahead. "You were one of them."

"Before you and Mulder became what they considered a threat I was pretty low in the ranks. Nave, too, so when they announced some new kind of experiment, I volunteered. I didn't find out what it was for until the first experiments were completed."

Scully had found her sunglasses and hung them in the neck of her tank top, her face hard but eerily calm. "When did you find out?"

"About a week afterwards. I'd been told some of my sample had been used, but was too far away from it all to really know anything." He turned away, looking out towards the highway, shimmering almost iridescent in the heat. "I went crazy, flew in from Italy, ordered a dozen tests done in the middle of the night, probably scared the hell out of the doctor. I assume you know how I felt when I was right."

Scully felt an enormous breath rush out of her at the emotions she glimpsed in his eyes before he turned away again. "You never met her."

"No, I was over in Europe, I didn't even knew she existed until she was gone. You got to meet her, even if it was for a few days. Count yourself lucky." There was a hard, pained edge to his voice now as he twisted the key in the ignition. Scully hopped in, but didn't let the subject drop.

"So if you were her father, are there more?"

He nodded curtly, heading for the on-ramp back to the highway. "The baby waiting for you is mine. Ours. That's all I know." He paused to give her a sad smile. "Congrats, Scully, we're parents."


Part Two: Hitting the Road

"Heaven knows this is a heartland..."
U2

The guard who greeted them at the compound simply asked them to sign an entrance form, giving Krycek a slight nod of recognition. Scully remained silent as they pulled up to what seemed to be the front entrance. Another guard stepped forward to take the car, and Scully took Krycek's lead, grabbing her bags out of the back and entering the blissfully cool building.

The place was not what Scully had expected. When he'd told her they were going to a compound, she'd immediately thought of a complex of nondescript, gray buildings out in the middle of the desert. What she saw was a high-rise of shiny steel and glass, in the middle of a bustling city block. The front lobby was tastefully decorated in blue and gray marble with stainless steel accents. She followed Krycek to the front desk, where they gave their names to the pretty brunette receptionist.

"Nice to see you again, Mr. Krycek. Here are the keys to your rooms. Dr. Hammond will be expecting you at six-thirty. Do you remember where his office is?" she asked, and flashed a smile that would send dentists into a coronary.

Krycek nodded, not looking at her, but watching Scully scan the area. "Yeah, 32nd floor. Thanks, Cherise."

He hefted his bag to his good shoulder, touching Scully's wrist. "C'mon, I want to show you something. Do you like paintings?"

"I've been to the Met a couple times. You like art?" Scully noted that she wasn't as surprised as she could have been by this revelation. After six days in a car with Krycek, she had found plenty of reasons to change her mind about hating him.

"When I get a chance, I love it. Have you been to the Philadelphia Museum? They have a great collection. So does San Francisco. Here," he touched her wrist again, directing her towards a shady, black-framed print.

"I love this one. It's a Matisse."

Scully didn't know much about art. She liked it, but had never taken the time from her busy schedule to really learn about it. She supposed that was a shame, since there was so much of it to see. Beside her, Krycek had begun somewhat of a lecture on the print, gesturing to the way the dark blue almost framed itself around the little town. She listened to him through one ear, the other half of her attention on him. Years with Mulder had given her the ability to tune out what one was saying and still pay attention to them. She nodded, appreciating his comment on Matisse's handiwork with color, watching the way his eyes lightened to a softer sea green tone. Was this the way he looked when he was happy? She wondered. He had shaved that morning, at the rest stop, and his skin had darkened from the southwestern sun to a rich honey color, accenting his seal brown hair and bright eyes.

Something else had changed, she noted as he prattled on. After he'd told her about his paternity record, he'd been in a funk for a few hours, then lightened up. Apparently, his confession had been weighing on his conscience for a while. She'd told him what their daughter had been like, as much as she knew, that she was serious, and quiet, but brave.

"What's it called?" she asked, interrupting his talk.

He started, blinking. "What? Oh. 'View of Collioure and the Sea'. Was I rambling?"

She smiled faintly, heading to the elevator. "Just a little. It was nice, though, seeing you get worked up over a painting." She flashed him a small grin to let him know she was teasing.

Their rooms were on the eleventh floor. Instead of having two separate rooms of their own, they had been given a large, well-appointed suite with two bedrooms and baths, connected by a sitting room and small kitchen. Scully's room was nice; a queen four post bed, large overstuffed chair, and matching mahogany bureau and dresser. The walls were pale cream, accented by slate blue trim and carpeting. Over the bed hung another print, this one of a mountainside and far-off sea.

"Cezanne's 'Estaque'. Nice choice out here." Krycek commented. Scully turned from sorting her things on the bed to see him leaning against the doorframe. He tilted his head up to the colorful print. "France is always beautiful."

"Unpacked already?"

"I'll finish later. We have a meeting in a few minutes, then do you want to go out for some dinner?"

Scully combed her fingers through her sun-streaked hair. God, six days and already the top layers were far more blonde than red. Her stomach rumbled at the thought of food. "Yeah. Where do we eat around here?"

"There's a pretty good cafeteria and plenty of restaurants, but I was thinking we could cook some of our own."

"Let me guess. Another of your passions?" Scully asked dryly. How many surprising interests could one person have?

He just nodded, letting her lead the way out to the elevator.

"Who is this Dr. Hammond we're meeting with?" Scully questioned on the ride up.

"He's in charge of the surgery for my arm. I'm guessing we'll be talking about that, and he'll probably tell you more about the baby."

"How involved are you with that part?"

Scully wished she knew him better, so she could read his features. His face was smooth and impassive, careful to let nothing slip. His eyes were focussed on the digital floor indicator, watching the twenties pass by.

"I know very little about it. Only what was on the DAT tape, and this is more recent. I don't think this child has been...tampered with." The slight lift of his voice at the end showed her his relief, that this child would not be lost to them, out of their control.

The doctor was a tall, older man of unremarkable appearance, someone who wouldn't stand out in a crowd. He waved them in with a small, elegant flick of his wrist, rising to stand behind his desk.

"Hello, Alex, it's good to see you again. This must be Doctor Scully?" The doctor turned warm brown eyes to her, his smile genuine and calming.

"Dana, sir."

She returned his handshake and he nodded to the plush armchairs. "Please, have a seat."

His voice, Scully pondered as she shook his hand, was like a mist-- soft and mild, unobtrusive. She listened as the two men discussed Krycek's upcoming surgery, but said nothing. The operation would be performed in a week and would take approximately four to five hours. He would be in a sling and/or brace for six to eight weeks, medicated heavily. Physical therapy would begin at the end of the eight weeks and continue through the fall. The new arm would be like the opposite by January at the earliest.

"Now, Dana, I'm sure you'd like to discuss the matter of your child." Dr. Hammond picked up another file folder and flipped through its contents.

"Of course." She glanced at Krycek, who nodded. "Alex told me a few things on the way here, but not many details."

"Such as?"

"Well, why am I being given this child? Why now? And how do I know it will be what you say it is?"

Hammond picked out a few charts and handed them to her. "Here are the records we have so far. Conception occurred on August twenty-third, 1999, and the due date is May twenty-fifth. We've monitored everything on a weekly basis, from minute hormone changes to blood flow. You'll find that the charts are complete through this past weekend. If you'd like, I can print out the last few days for you."

Scully scanned the printouts carefully. Since her rotation in med. school, she hadn't learned any obstetrics, but everything seemed to be in normal ranges. "I'd like to see those, please."

"I'll have them emailed to you. If you didn't bring a computer, you can use our lab. Now, as for your first question, Doctor, I'm afraid I can't really answer it." He raised his hands, asking to continue before Scully could interrupt. "I could answer that, Doctor Scully, but it wouldn't be something you would accept."

"How exactly do you mean?" A cool tone belied Scully's open expression.

"We had decided to let you have this child over a year ago, before Agent Mulder passed and before you left the X-Files. Not as a reward, but something in return."

"You took away my ability to have children, so you made one for me. Just to say you're sorry." Her voice was ice now, and Scully fought to keep her hurt in check.

"You have to understand, there is no way to explain it that you would find acceptable." Hammond kept his voice gentle so as not to upset her further. For all of Scully's efforts to keep her cool, professional demeanor, her feelings were detectable in the tightness of her jaw and a flicker of anger in her eyes. He and his colleagues had nothing to lose. Should Scully become angry enough to refuse the child, they could easily give it to an adoption agency or to Krycek. "You have the proof that this will be a healthy child, and we won't ask for any more than occasional reports on its health in general."

"How do I know we'd be left alone?"

"The only time we would have to take action would be if you decided to tell anyone about its true origins, how it came to be."

"And that is?"

"In an artificial womb."

Scully fought the urge to gape. <That's impossible! No one has that kind of technology. Not to sustain a healthy baby to full term.> She nearly spoke aloud before realizing there was very little, if anything, beyond Their reach.

"Now, Alex will be required to stay with us until his physical therapy is completed, possibly for a bit longer. After that, if he would like to visit or help raise the child is up to you to decide."

Appointments were made for Krycek's pre-op exam and his surgery before they were dismissed. Scully was quiet in the elevator, simply walking with him to the parking garage. It was nice to be in the Jeep again, even after a few hours. She was more than tolerant of her companion now, steadily working towards friendship. It wasn't compartmentalizing business and pleasure, exactly. She was with him because this was business. It was more putting the past behind her and acknowledging his trying to make amends.

He wasn't wooing her, or making grand, out-of-character gestures to win her affection, which she appreciated. He knew her well enough to realize that displays such as those had no place being in Dana Scully's airspace. He was giving her the chance to have her own child, it was that simple.

"What kind of food do you want?" Krycek asked, steering the Jeep out onto the city streets. The sunset wove threads of gold through his hair and gave his skin a more dusky tone.

Scully didn't much care. They'd eaten takeout and drive-through for most of the trip, so all she wanted was a good, sit down meal. "Italian would be nice. Someplace quiet."

He found a small, casual bistro with outdoor seating, where they could watch the rest of the sun set over the tail end of the Rockies. By the time their food arrived, the sky had darkened to an indigo hue, blazing with stars. They talked about his nervousness towards the surgery and what would happen afterwards. She had agreed to assist with his physical therapy while they waited for the birth. After dinner, they walked around Phoenix, and Krycek showed her what there was to do within the city and its suburbs. Arizona State had a nice library, and there were plenty of tennis courts and pools. The mountains, along with several state and national parks, were nearby if she wanted to go hiking or take a trail ride. Phoenix was also a nice place for shopping and museums, he added grudgingly.

"I'm surprised they're so liberal with what we can do," she mused on the way home. "I would think that they'd want to monitor everything we did."

"Most people who live around here work there, Scully. What we're doing is buried so deeply that even if anyone believed you, they'd have a hell of a time finding proof of any sort."

"I've heard that before."

He glanced over at her, expecting a challenging stare. Scully sat against the passenger door, watching the sagebrush and flat desert floor slide by. She looked almost mournful, as if holding her sadness in to be released later, in private. He didn't have to guess twice about what she was thinking about; she missed Mulder.

Krycek briefly considered pulling over and asking her to let it all out, then realized all he would get from that would be an icy glare and a few clipped phrases that told him he could mind his own damn business. The proverbial walls, those damned brick, mortar and steel confinements he'd been chipping away at all week would shoot right back up, about ten feet higher this time. He didn't dare pry. He wasn't Mulder, didn't have the confidence of her trust and unconditional love.

They didn't spend much time together for the first couple of days. Scully spent her hours talking with the doctors who had been involved with the baby's development, finding out as much as she could about its genetic history. Krycek didn't talk about what he did, although she knew it had to do with the Project. During their chats on the drive from DC, she'd understood that he was in the process of removing himself from that picture, and that this trip had something to do with that. Something had happened that had changed his view, and drastically.

On Tuesday night, three days before his surgery, Krycek convinced Scully to stay in for dinner, and together they cooked a simple meal. Their suite was comfortable, and quiet enough that it seemed worlds away from the bustling city outside. They remained at the kitchen table long after finishing their meal, talking quietly of random things. Scully studied her companion for a moment. She'd noticed for the last couple of days the way he would gaze at her, contemplative, and not jerk his eyes away when she caught him.

"What have you been wondering?" she asked finally.

Neither her question nor her timing surprised him. He knew she had noticed him deep in thought on several occasions, and as far as she knew, he wasn't one to stand around, just thinking.

"Before he died, what were things like with you and Mulder?"

Her eyebrow twitched -- a mixture of surprise and a strange sort of amusement. She had figured this inquiry would arise at some point. Krycek had thought that she would ask him to clarify what he wanted to know, or try to put off answering, so he was the one surprised when she replied quickly and, from what he could tell, honestly.

"We were engaged at that point. We'd been together as lovers for about five months."

Scully traced the logo on her can of Coke, absently smearing the perspiration on the aluminum.

"Mulder was tired of running all the time. Not from the Syndicate or any of those men, just from coming so close to being killed so many times, from the danger of our job. We were both jaded, and we thought it was time we got out." Scully sighed, the muscles at the corner of her mouth tugging into a tiny smile. "I reasoned that if he thought we should quit, then it was definitely a good idea. He never wanted to quit anything, you know?"

She wasn't asking him, just being rhetorical, but he nodded anyway. "Yeah, I remember. Especially when it came to you or the Project."

"So, we'd started talking about getting married, chose a date and decided that once we were settled down, we would adopt. He loved kids, and knew how badly I wanted one. So I was looking at jobs in hospitals and he was talking to some schools about teaching. About three weeks before the wedding, we had that case."

A few tears gathered at the corners of her eyes, but Scully's voice and expression remained steady. No matter how many times she recounted those months before his death, it never got any easier. It had nearly broken her a couple of times, but Scully was strong enough to not sit around and lick her wounds. Things would not get better on their own.

Krycek sat quietly, watching the emotions run over her face. He wasn't sure whether it was on purpose or not, but a little part of him was relieved that her cool, collected mask wasn't in place. She was showing her emotions, and he prayed that it might help her feel a little better. He gathered some of the plates and moved to the sink, intending to let her alone with her grief, but moments later she joined to help him rinse and load the dishwasher.

"I'm sorry, if that was too much. I didn't want to make you uncomfortable."

"No, it's okay. I know it's healthy for me to be able to talk about it. It's been over a year, now. Sometimes it hurts, but not all the time."

They cleaned up the kitchen in silence, turning off the lights and getting everything in order for the night. They'd found they had one thing, at least, in common: both were somewhat of a neat freak. Scully beckoned him to come to her room for a few minutes.

"I want to show you something." She went through the drawer of the nightstand, and withdrew a small, square box.

Krycek settled on the edge of the bed, already sensing what she wanted him to see. He saw he was right when she opened the little velvet box and handed it to him.

"Is this the engagement ring?"

She nodded, a faint smile gracing her lips and eyes.

"It's lovely," he admitted. A modestly sized diamond, surrounded five pale blue topaz stones, set in the shape of a daisy.

"Yeah. I keep it around, don't really know why." Scully shrugged, sitting on the bed about a foot away. He gave her the box, and after a hesitation, she slipped the ring onto her finger.

He'd never seen her as the "flowers type", but it looked right. "It's perfect for you. Keep it."

"I'm not sure I'll marry, now," Scully muttered, watching the light reflect off the stones. The first time she had said that after Mulder's death, it had been from a sense of bitterness. Irony had poisoned her mind and tongue, and it was a while before she could think of being single as her way of life, as it were.

Krycek watched her study the ring, her eyes rueful and dark with the remains of grief. The ire that had been slowly burgeoning in his gut over the past two and a half years kicked up a notch at her silent anguish. He hadn't prayed in well over a decade, at least since the death of his grandfather sixteen years past, but now closed his eyes and sent up a quick supplication that what the future held would lift her spirits at least a little.

Scully insisted on being allowed to watch the operation, but wasn't permitted to actually participate. She watched from a corner of the room, dressed in sterile scrubs and a mask, as the anesthesia was administered. It was only a flicker, but she saw the slight glimmer of green iris when he glanced at her, the gas taking its effect. Scully felt her stomach turn a little at his looking to her for reassurance.

Within two minutes he was solidly out, and the surgeons began to cut at the scar tissue ending below his left shoulder. She watched in morbid fascination as the new limb, matched perfectly to his skin tone, somehow, was lifted from its sterile bath. God, would ER doctors love to find out about this technology, she knew. But that was the bargain. She could watch and help with Krycek's conditioning, and their child, the baby a few weeks away from birth, would be hers. It was a selfish trade, of course, but Scully was all too aware that she would not be able to handle the loss of another child.

It was a good six hours after the four-hour surgery that he began to come around. He tried to speak before even opening his eyes.

"Ah, hell," His voice was raspy and thin, and he swallowed, wincing.

Scully let a small smile form, rising from her chair by the table. Thank god this wasn't a hospital, and he was in his own comfortable room at the compound. There were monitors, and an IV, but a real bed and a TV, and no boring white walls.

"Hurts, huh?"

"Fuck," he groaned. "Not as bad as..." he made a weak chopping motion with his right hand.

Scully chuckled. "I bet. They've given you a hefty amount of morphine, though, so you won't be too bad."

"When can I get up?"

"Not for a few days. It's Tuesday, so Thursday or Friday, with a sling for a good week."

He nodded, the short conversation having worn him out. She squeezed his hand and flashed a soft smile. "Get some sleep, Alex."

His mind registered her use of his given name the instant before he fell asleep.

Between the surgery and the baby's due date, Scully spent most of her time on the phone, ordering furniture and supplies to be shipped to her home in Georgetown. She'd spoken with her mother, even concocting a reason as to why she hadn't told her of this grandchild-to-be: she had planned it, using a surrogate mother for gestation, and hadn't said anything for fear of anything going wrong. The father, she'd told Maggie, was a friend of hers. All in all, it wasn't too far from the truth. After hearing her daughter out, Maggie had agreed to go to Dana's apartment and make sure everything had been delivered, crib, playpen, changing table, highchair, etc., before Dana and the baby came home.

The baby was born three weeks after they'd arrived. The delivery occurred while they were in physical therapy, where Scully was gently massaging his forearm to help the blood circulate, per the surgeon's instructions. The intercom buzzed, and one of the doctors came on to tell them to report to the medical facility a few floors down. Their baby had arrived.

The infant was already clean and wrapped in a swaddling blanket when they got there.

"It's a boy. He's nineteen inches long, and weighed in at eight pounds, thirteen ounces."

Scully nodded, not looking up from the bundle placed in her arms. His skin was still reddened, eyes squeezed shut. There was a small tuft of dark hair on the crown of his head -- no redhead, her son. Carefully, she lifted the bundle to glance at the nape of the baby's neck, breathing a sigh of relief when there was no green pustule. This baby was human, not a hybrid.

Scully heard Krycek's breathing lose its pattern behind her, and turned to let him see. He'd been right, earlier. She had had the chance to meet Emily. She had been the lucky one; he'd known about it only after the chance was gone. Who had suffered the greater emotional loss was not something either of them was willing to argue. But, Scully saw that Alex was the one more affected by the new presence of their son. He didn't faint, just sank down into a chair, evergreen eyes flitting over the tiny form as it was placed into the curl of his good arm. He looked up at her for a moment, face a picture of total astonishment, catching Scully a little off guard. He was a handsome man, intelligent and sweet, even before all the harm he had done. In all his years, had he never expected to marry, to have a family? She supposed that even now, it might be near impossible.

The small room was silent for a good twenty minutes, both new parents examining each and every square inch of the baby. Scully thought of asking for a definitive PCR run on the both of them, then discarded the idea, having seen enough of each of them in the hour-old infant to be convinced.

"Malenkaya malechek.." She heard him murmur. **

A nurse gave her a sheaf of papers, results from blood tests on the baby, and she sat down in a corner, giving Alex time to acquaint himself to fatherhood. She took her own time going over the results, checking to make sure nothing was overlooked.

"What do you want to name him?" Krycek's voice cut through her musings nearly an hour later.

Scully looked up, and couldn't help but smile at the sight of Alex Krycek, thug for hire, holding a bottle for a tiny newborn. She hadn't realized before this trip how large he was -- taller and broader than Mulder had been, probably 6 foot 2 and nearly two hundred pounds. The baby looked even more fragile than normal tucked against his chest.

"You want to give him an Irish name, to go with Scully?"

She heard in that statement that this was her child, hers to raise under her own name.

"What's wrong with Russian names," she teased lightly.

"No." He shook his head, "Too heavy. He needs something simple. Unaffected."

Scully nodded, curious. "Is Alex Krycek your real name?"

"Aleksandr, yes." He smirked. "Alex to my family and friends, Sasha to my grandfather." He had mentioned his mother's father before, Scully noted, always with a boyish glint to his eyes. She made up her mind to ask him about the man at some point, since she knew very little of his family. Right now, though, the focus was on the present and future, not the past.

He looked down at the sleeping bundle. "He gets an American name, huh?"

"Paul."

"Michael."

"David. David Michael." She smiled, watching him tilt his head in consideration, then met her eyes in agreement. When completed, the Birth Certificate read:

Baby boy
Birthdate: May 29th, 2000
Infant: David Michael Scully
Mother: Dana Katherine Scully
Father: Aleksandr Stanislav Krycek


One week later

Scully finally understood why she was given David as she waited for her plane. She watched Alex rock the baby in his car seat, his good arm gently swaying the seat back and forth. Being a father would be good for him, she realized, not for the first time. They had finally spoken, last night while she packed, of when he would see them when the therapy was over. Since it would take more time for him to withdraw from the Project, at least a year would pass before he would join them in DC. What would happen after that they would leave to Fate. He had promised to communicate via phone, email and good old-fashioned snail mail, a pledge Scully knew to her bones he would keep. He needed to heal, and so did she. That, she knew, was why she had been given David: to help her through the still fresh pain of losing Mulder. She could only hope that Alex's healing would be as thorough as hers.

Russian Translations:
Malenkaya malechek = little boy in Russian


Part Three: These Little Earthquakes

"Silent night, holy night,
all is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin mother and child,
holy infant so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace."

"Sharpening stones, walking on coals,
to improve your business acumen."

- REM

January, 1998
Venice, Italy

Krycek was in the tiny cubbyhole that passed for a kitchen in his Venice apartment, making a cup of coffee when he heard the familiar sound of paper sliding over hardwood floor. He tilted his head towards the door, listening for any sounds out in the hallway as just the slightest bit of milk was added to the rich roast. No jobs were in the offering that he knew of, everything was as peaceful as it could get and he was looking forward to a week or two of relative relaxation. When he came out to the entryway, a plain brown envelope addressed to his name, not an alias, lay on the floor about a foot from the doorway.

Setting the cup on the coffee table, he slipped on a pair of well-worn leather gloves, carefully opening the package. There was no disk, no samples, only a five by six glossy photo and several sheets of paper, hospital charts and records from the looks of them. Perched on the edge of his worn down couch, he sipped the coffee and began to peruse the records, having found no cover letter to explain this delivery. The subject was one Emily Sim, age three and a resident of San Diego, California. There were numerous cases of her being treated for anemia, and apparently her parents had begun regular, experimental treatment with a Doctor Calderon. Krycek started at the name. He knew of Calderon only by reference, having heard of the doctor once or twice when the breeding program was being discussed.

What drew his attention was the parentage listed -- she was adopted. A quick search through the pages presented birth records; the mother was one Anna Fugazi. Krycek shook his head slightly, something about the information not sitting quite right. There had to be more to this than an obviously fake name. He followed the list of codes down the page, translating them under his breath. He hadn't worked with the breeding project since before Scully had been taken, but still remembered what the codes stood for, if only vaguely. His finger stopped at the listing of the true mother, the one whose ova had been used, but he didn't see that name. He saw only the one below it, the name of the sperm's donor. In English type and not Cyrillic, his Russian name looked strange. Krycek, Aleksandr S.

His fingers were shaking when he picked up the cup and drained the last of the coffee. He was Emily Sim's father.

God, more. He needed more caffeine if he was to be able to look at the rest of this package. Krycek set the papers down gently, as if the table or the sheets or he himself might disintegrate, and headed back to the kitchen.

She was dead. He knew that before even going through the rest of the information. That was the way things worked in this organization, as brutal and cold as that may be. Whoever had given him this had never intended for him to meet his daughter. He knew the drill. Give the fuckers the cold hard facts when the shit had long since hit the fan and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Krycek gulped down another cup of the jet- fuel octane espresso, slamming the cup down hard enough for a tiny piece to chip off of the bottom. His eyes drifted shut and his natural hand gripped the countertop. He had to establish control; that was the way he had survived everything he'd been through. Live and face all the shit that went down, and have the total mental collapse when everything was over and he was alone. He could not afford to lose emotional control now, not when things were bound to get worse.

He opened his eyes and took a deep breath. The true, genetic birth mother was clearly not Anna Fugazi. Damn, who was she? He hadn't paid attention. Long strides brought him back to the little table and he grabbed the sheets, sitting uneasily on the couch's edge. Once again, he glanced over the charts, gaze skittering over his own name and information, landing on the name above. In a second, he was off the couch and dialing the New York office, energy focused on keeping his breathing even.

"Alex. I trust you've received the pertinent information?"

"What the hell kind of sick joke is this?"

"You know better than to think this a joke. What is it you're asking?" The smoker's voice never wavered, just enough of a lilt at the end to indicate any kind of interest in the reply.

"Does she know about this?" God, his voice was dangerously close to cracking.

"Of course. She arranged for the funeral. The girl's body, however, has disappeared, but you'll find a grave. Agent Scully had her buried with the adoptive parents in San Diego."

He didn't remember the rest of the interrogation, just ending that call and placing another to arrange for the next flight through Washington to San Diego. Twenty minutes later, Krycek threw a duffel bag and leather satchel into the passenger seat of his battered little Opel and steered into traffic towards the airport. It was only a little after ten, but the streets were still crowded.

In Dulles, he spent the thirty-minute layover hunched over a cup of coffee, reading over the file that had been sent to him. Every few minutes, he would cast a subtle glance around the airport, checking for anyone that would have a clue as to his identity. For a brief paranoid moment, he thought he glimpsed Scully and Mulder standing at a gate, and flinched. It wasn't impossible, he knew they were still active agents, even if one of them had just lost a child as a result [direct or indirect, one couldn't be positive] of their work. The man shifted and turned to profile, and Krycek gulped down the last of his coffee, relieved. Not them. Slava Bogu!^

He found himself on autopilot once again in San Diego, locating the facility named by the smoking man. He waited until late in the afternoon, lessening the chance of being stopped for ID or running into someone who would know him. Trotting down a flight of stairs, Krycek mentally noted the names of each of the labs, checking them against the charts he still clutched in his hand. He stopped suddenly before one door, peering in the tall, slim window. Two men were there, one rifling through what appeared to be some kind of filing system, the other sat at a desk, going over charts. He opened the door and entered, keeping his pace even and calm in order to attract as little attention as possible. Both men looked up, startled.

"Sir? Can we help you?"

Krycek paused by the man at the filing cabinets, glancing over his shoulder at what the drawer contained. He forced himself not to suck in a breath at the slim, frosted vials of ova. He stood back and looked back at the men, [doctors or technicians, it seemed], who returned his gaze rather fearfully. Apparently, they had little to no contact with those deeper into the organization. The smoker would probably have them in seizures.

"I need you to run a test. Immediately." His voice sounded as though his lungs and voicebox were bleeding, the tone was so raw and harsh.

"I - I'm sorry?" The poor man behind the desk was all but shaking. Krycek reasoned that he must look like he'd been possessed by the devil to instigate such a response without having done anything. Which, if he wanted those results quickly, couldn't be all that bad.

"I received some charts and records indicating that a child was conceived, a little girl, in this facility, then transplanted into a surrogate mother. This girl was apparently my child, and it's imperative that I know for certain."

One of the men, a short, gray haired fellow, gestured at the sheaf of papers.

"May I see those?"

Krycek handed them over almost reluctantly, keeping his face and posture still and impassive.

The two doctors conferred briefly, muttering and flipping through the pages.

"Emily Sim? Passed away last week?"

He nodded.

"Alright, Mr. Krycek. We can take a sample of your blood, run a definitive PCR against hers."

Krycek sat on a lab table, allowing the rubber band to be tied around his upper arm [making sure it was the right] and clenched his fist, watching passively as his blood pooled into the vial. Had the DNA in that blood combined with Dana Scully's to make Emily's?

"Can you have it done tomorrow? The afternoon?"

The two others glanced at each other, eyebrows lifted. Krycek flexed his shoulders, and felt the cool press of his pistol against the small of his back. So help him God, if he had to wait more than two days at the most...

One of them nodded finally, looking defeated. "We should have it done by seven. We'll stay here until it's ready."

"Good." He stood, rolling down his sleeve and taking back the papers. "I'll be here for them at seven. The people who ultimately control this facility are well aware of my presence, so informing anyone will lead to nothing but wasted time." Pausing at the door, he added, "Make sure there is only one copy of the results. Any extras will be destroyed."

The night was spent restlessly prowling the streets, stopping in a bar to let a few cool glasses of alcohol slip down his throat. Had he felt like it, a few damned attractive women would have escorted him back to his motel room, but Krycek couldn't have been less interested. No time. There was no time and no meaning to fucking some nameless bitch when there was a little girl six feet sub-terra who had never known he existed. Fuck it all, he thought, tossing some money on the bar, and went back out to the street.

Early afternoon found him dressed neatly, walking toward the front entrance to the county children's center. Inside, he asked to meet with the woman who had spoken to Scully. The receptionist led him to the office of Mary Ellen Gilman, the director of Child Services.

"Dr. Gilman? Someone to see you."

Krycek entered quietly, reaching to shake the hand Gilman proffered.

"What may I help you with, Mr...?"

"James Tata," Krycek had decided last night not to use his own name, in case Scully should hear about his visit. The papers he'd made up during an all-nighter were for last- ditch use, since this whole thing was on the fly and nothing was of quality. "I wanted to find out about my daughter." The word practically choked him coming out.

Gilman nodded patiently, touching the side of her grey bun. "Her name?"

"Emily Sim. She died last week, I just found out."

"Ah. Yes, Dr. Scully did have a man with her, but I was told he was her partner. They took Emily to the hospital when we saw that she was ill. Did you need to see any paperwork?"

Krycek blinked. He'd seen more paperwork on Emily than they had, he was sure of it. No, he just wanted proof of her, something to show that she had been alive. "No. I just wanted to know if anything had been left behind. I never knew her..." He let the sentence go when Gilman nodded, a gentle smile creasing her cheeks.

"I see. Dr. Scully took a couple of things, most of Emily's belongings were given to the Salvation Army, Purple Heart, or the other children here." She stood, gesturing for him to follow. In a back room, among filing cabinets and orderly desks, was a trunk. "We keep some toys that we simply don't know what to do with. Ones that seem special. This," Dr. Gilman picked out a stuffed tiger, new it seemed, still bearing the tags, "was with Emily when she got here. Apparently her adoptive mother bought it for her right before she died."

Krycek took the tiger, turning it over slowly in his hands.

"Is that what you were looking for?"

He felt a little burning sensation in the back of his throat, and hesitated before speaking. "Something like this, yes. Thank you."

"I'm sorry you never got to meet her. Emily was a very sweet and brave little girl."

In the evening, he returned to the lab to retrieve the test results. The same technician he'd frightened the night before passed him a new sheaf of papers, all but swearing on the Bible that it was the only record. Five hours later Krycek was over some part of the Midwest, slowly reading through the results of the definitive test. The scientific vernacular didn't hide the simplicity of its meaning; confirming without a doubt that he was indeed Emily's biological father.

At the stopover in Washington, Krycek considered for a brief psychotic moment calling up Scully and telling her that he'd found out. Even in a muddled, shocked daze, he was lucid enough to realize even if the call wasn't traced in less than a minute, Mulder, if not Scully herself, would track him down and kill him just for the hell of it.

Arriving in Milan was all a blur. Presenting his passport [one of several], finding the car, getting back to his neat little flat overlooking a tiny piazza. He barely remembered to lock the door behind him and check the alarm before staggering into his bedroom. Krycek could not remember the last time he had felt so physically ill...probably after realizing what was being done to Scully and the other women. He managed to dig the little stuffed tiger out of his carry-on and kick off his shoes before slumping onto the bed, drifting into an uneasy sleep.

The next few days passed in glimpses of consciousness and semi-coherence.

Waking to find the tiger clutched to his chest, soaked in tears.

Stumbling into the bathroom, cracking his knee on the cold tile floor as he bent, choking, over the toilet.

Screaming, hoarse and exhausted, in a crazy mixture of Russian and English, at the men who had caused all this pain. Those fuckers, the bastards who taken Emily's life, his life, Scully's...thousands of lives in so many different, convoluted, sickening ways.

Shame. The emotion was so overwhelmingly devastating that he could not do more than relieve himself or consume more than a glass of water for over two days. His fault, this was. He could have said that Scully was fine, nice, not at all an inconvenience. She and Mulder could have a nice normal relationship. Her sister would be alive, she could have children. No. She had to be a problem. Was this what Mulder felt like? Carrying the burden of screwing someone else's life up to the point where you broke from the sheer guilt?

He had half a mind to end it all right there. Instead, Krycek curled into a ball on his bed, fighting back the screams. The tiger watched from the top of his dresser, beside the glossy black and white photo of Emily, taken days before her death.


December, 2001
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

David was jabbering away to the stuffed cat he clutched, toddling around the living room as Scully fixed dinner for the both of them. He'd been talking, babbling really for almost eight months now; she reasoned he'd spout sentences well before he turned two.

She set the sandwich and bowl of applesauce on the tray of the high chair, then her own salad on the kitchen table. Thankfully, her son was a neat enough child that they could both eat at the same time. Scully poked her head around the kitchen doorway.

"David, dinner!"

The dark-haired toddler didn't look up from playing with the large Legos he had stacked before him. The stuffed tiger, a gift from Alex, sat at his side as the little boy contemplated his plastic blocks. Scully smiled, crouching beside her son.

"Whatcha making?"

"Towuh." David answered solemnly, eyeing one red block.

"A tower? A big one?"

He nodded, not looking at his mother, placing the red block carefully on top of the stack.

"How about some dinner? You can build the tower some more after you eat."

David acquiesced, not saying any more until he was almost finished eating.

"Dada?"

Scully started, almost gagging on a sip of orange juice. It wasn't that she'd forgotten, that was nearly impossible. Krycek, or the more familiar Alex, now, had written or called several times over the past year and five months. Each time, he'd spoken or written to David briefly and said he'd see them in the near future. After a year had passed, Scully had thought of asking him to stop; it wasn't fair to any of them to make false promises. Then, two months ago, he had given her a date. December second. He would be free. Free to live his life? To be with them? She wasn't sure, but she was relieved at the idea that perhaps her son would know his father, in some form other than long-distance communication.

Alex was coming here. He would stay with them for a few weeks, until the new year, and after that...they didn't know. But David was aware of the coming arrival. He asked again, "Dada?"

"Yes, David. He's coming tonight."

Scully picked up his bib to wipe his face and little hands, then freed him of the chair so he could play while she cleaned up. She had made up the full-sized bed in David's room, figuring that would be more comfortable than her couch. David had been sleeping through the night for a couple months, only waking if he wasn't feeling well. Remembering Alex's interest in cooking, she'd taken special care at the grocery store that afternoon, buying some fresh organic produce and nice breads instead of grabbing whatever David would stuff in his mouth. Both refrigerator and pantry were filled to nearly bursting point, and she had to wonder how long it had been since she'd shopped like that.

Scully dried her hands and hung up the dishtowel, a glance at her watch showing enough time to give David a bath and wrestle him into some pj's before Alex showed up. True to form, half the bathwater was on the floor and David had proven the strength of his vocal cords by the time she could rinse all the shampoo out of his hair.

Ten minutes later, the seventeen-month-old was dry, diapered and ready for bed when the knock resounded through the little apartment. Scully froze while David grabbed his tiger and ran down the hall to the entryway.

"I get! I get!"

Scully recovered, shaking her head and smiling. "Okay, Dave. Let me see who it is first."

"Dada. Mommy, Dada!" David tugged on the flannel pajama pants she'd thrown on after the bath, hopping up and down. She put her eye to the peekhole to see Alex's face in profile, dark hair almost black in the dim light of the corridor. She smiled, looking down at David's eager face.

"Okay, you can get the door."

Scully stood aside, watching David stand on tiptoes to turn the doorknob. Moments later, there was Alex, standing in her doorway, practically boot-to-sleeper-toe with their son.

"Hi."

God, he looked good. "Hey. How was the flight?"

"Boring. I was nervous, coming here."

The skin around his bright emerald eyes - David's eyes - crinkled when he smiled. He looked older, she realized, standing aside to let him in and taking a duffel bag. Older, but far more relaxed and at ease. He had always been on edge in the few times she'd seen him before last April, every sense on overdrive, so controlled but at the same time skittish as a colt. She watched him gaze down at David, who was again clutching the tiger to his chest, staring back.

Her pediatrician had asked for basic information on Alex, for reference and family history. He'd given her the basics: blood type [B positive], histories of cancer and heart problems [none], his own height and weight [six feet, one and a half inches, 187 pounds, respectively] and what he knew of his own childhood records [he'd call his mother and have her fax them]. They could tell already that there would be little bits of her, but for the most part, David would be a dead ringer for his dad. When Alex obligingly lifted his son up, holding him at chest level, she could see it clearly. Same seal colored hair, round, wide-spaced green eyes, and the sweet straight nose that turned up at the tip. Already, the chubby little face was showing signs of his father's Slavic ancestry. There were freckles across the bridge of the toddler's nose, and a few red streaks in his hair in the summer, both from her Irish heritage.

"Dada." David grinned, flashing his seven baby teeth and shoving the stuffed toy at his dad's face.

"Who's this? I sent this to you, right?"

"Tigey. Cat," was the proud reply.

"He never lets that toy out of his sight. He has plenty of others, but if Tigey's missing, God forbid." Scully returned from putting his bags in the second room.

"Do you want something to drink or eat? I went shopping earlier today."

"Sure, thanks."

She made him a quick dinner, a sandwich of fresh chicken breast and veggies, and watched while he helped David build a small, simple fortress out of the oversized Legos. He told her about his physical therapy, allowing her to roll up his sweater sleeve and examine the scar and new limb. All that remained was a white scar, about 3 millimeters wide, around the circumference of his upper arm, below the shoulder joint. Scully probed gently at the muscle above and below the area, impressed that the attachment had gone so well. The skin on both sides was smooth and of the same even tone, sleekly well-muscled. The physical training and Arizona sun made it seem that this was the arm he'd always had, it looked so normal.

"Does it hurt still?"

He shrugged. "Sometimes. It took a while for me to be able to do any resistance exercise without seeing red. Water and heat therapy help, but I would go through a bottle of Ibuprofen in two weeks before we could start that."

He yawned, stretching his arms above his head. Scully let a smile lift the corners of her mouth, noticing that although he continued to play, there was a definite droop to David's eyes. She could tell from experience that the toddler was about two minutes away from falling over, asleep.

"I think it's bedtime for the both of you," she teased, reaching over to scoop David into her arms. He whined, struggling for a moment, then pressed his face into the side of her neck and went limp. Alex didn't argue, just picked up the stuffed tiger and followed Scully into David's room.

"You can unpack tomorrow," Scully told him, settling David in his crib before turning to face him. "I thought it would be easier for you to sleep in here until we decide what to do for the future. Is that okay?"

Alex nodded, taking in the comfortable full-sized bed, chests of drawers, and the sleeping figure of his son. "I've slept on balconies with my wrist cuffed to the railing on freezing nights. Believe me, Scully, this is great." He offered her a quiet, unaffected smile. "Thank you."

Scully had seen that smile before, once or twice while on the road and a couple more times while at the compound in Tempe. It made her realize, with a tiny start, that she had missed his company over the months. Their four weeks together had brought her well past the point of tolerating a man she'd once hated vehemently, and into the realm of truly liking him. What was more, she didn't feel guilty for it.

Returning his smile, she gave him a quick hug, feeling him start slightly at the show of affection. There was a spark of curiosity in those wide-set pine eyes, but his head tilted a degree at her still warm expression, and he blinked, eyes clearing.

"There's a baby monitor on the nightstand, and I can hear him if he wakes up, so don't worry. The bathroom's across the hall, I have my own. Will you need anything?"

"Nope. Sleep well, Scully."

"G'night. You, too."

A series of curious, intermittent babbling roused Alex early the next morning, and he sleepily turned his head to see David peering at him through the bars of his crib. The toddler sat upright in his dark green fuzzy sleeper, clutching Tigey, his soft crown of hair rumpled only slightly. Alex smiled, dragging one arm across his face and rolling drowsily onto his back.

"You are real, huh? You and your mom." He looked over to meet David's sober stare. Christ, it felt as if the small child's gaze was boring into him, that he could see the uncertainty his father was trying so hard to shield.

He slowly got up, stretching from toes to fingertips, and stepped to the side of the crib. "Want to get up, buddy? Get some breakfast?"

Cautiously, Alex leaned over and picked up the infant, holding him to his side as he'd seen Scully do. David continued staring at him for a few moments, then drew back slightly, his smooth little brow wrinkling. He didn't cry or wail, just let out a few confused whimpers.

"You don't remember... ah, man. Uh, Scully?"

At the doorway to the bedroom, Scully appeared with an apologetic frown. "I heard you over the monitor. I kind of figured he wouldn't remember you yet."

She took the struggling baby, soothing him against her shoulder. "Hey, Dave, it's your daddy. He got here last night. You played with him before you went night-night. I'm sorry," she turned to Alex, leading him to the kitchen, "why don't you feed him while I get us something? He should like that."

"Is he messy?"

"No, not at all, actually. We have a very neat child." She plopped David into the high chair and handed Alex a bottle, a little bowl of Cheerios, and a cup of yogurt with a spoon. He warily tied a bib around the child's neck, took a deep breath, and dug the spoon into the yogurt.

David adjusted to his father's presence quickly and easily. Scully had taken a three-day weekend when Alex arrived, but Monday she had to head back to work. The two males were left at home, with nothing to do but lavish attention on the other. Alex was man enough to admit that the first few days were tough, with David upset and confused when his mother was absent when he woke in the morning or from his afternoon nap.

Scully would leave them things to do, errands to run, or a list of suggestions for trips downtown. She took the only car to work, but it was easy enough, Alex discovered, to take out the stroller and walk to a metro stop. He could do this stay-at-home-dad thing, at least for a while. They hit the Zoo, the Smithsonian and the Air and Space museums, but David was too young for any of the monuments and anyway, Alex preferred to keep his distance from anything of that nature. Despite his citizenship in both the States and Canada, he tended to avoid any kind of allegiance towards any particular country.

By the time three weeks had passed, near Christmastime, Scully felt that her two men were sufficiently comfortable with each other for her to have a night out. She had been invited to a dinner for a Pathological society, and was looking forward to an evening out on the town, as it were. She started to leave instructions as to what David could eat, his bathtime, and bedtime, but Alex brushed her away, smiling blithely.

"Scully, it's okay. I know what to do. Dave and I will be fine, right malchik^?"

Watching David grin, leaning against his dad's leg, she realized that, in the most basic sense, Alex's Russian nickname for their son fit perfectly. Little man; a two- foot, sable-haired, emerald-eyed absolute charmer of a child.

"Bye mommy!"

Scully chuckled, crouching so he could hug her. "Getting rid of me? You really like Daddy, huh?" Meeting Alex's eyes, she explained, "With his babysitters, he would throw fits you wouldn't believe, starting the moment he saw them come in. I hardly ever went out."

She stood, slipping on the long, wool/cashmere overcoat that had been a gift from Mulder the winter before his death. Adding her gloves, keys and purse, she smiled a little nervously.

"You look great."

Scully smiled. "Thank you. I needed that." Midnight blue silk crinkled under the pads of her fingers as she buttoned the coat. The dress, which was a flattering A-line that hung to just above her knee, had seemed appropriate, its style midway between business and dressy.

The replying smile showed only in the tiny crinkles at the corners of his eyes, a silent acknowledgement.

"Have a good time. Say goodnight to mommy."

"Night-night mommy." David waved up at her, smiling cheerfully and still hanging onto Alex's jeans.

"I'll be home around eleven."

The evening was peaceful. David was fed and bathed, then they watched Looney Tunes until the baby grew drowsy. Maggie Scully called as Alex was choosing a story to read from Scully's Dr. Seuss collection.

"Dana's out for the evening, at a dinner. Can I take a message?"

"No, it's alright. This is Alex? It's Maggie, Dana's mother. I don't believe we've spoken before."

"Um, no we haven't, actually." David stirred on his shoulder, and Alex took some comfort in rubbing the warm little back. The thought of meeting any of Scully's family worried him more than he would admit. She'd told him how much Bill, her older brother, had disliked Mulder, and blamed him for all that had happened to Dana and, indirectly, her family. If Bill ever found out that most of those events could be linked to him, he was a dead man. Not that he wasn't already, in the eyes of some people.

"I expect you'll be coming with Dana and the baby Christmas morning, though? We'll get to meet you, finally." Maggie sounded warm and gracious even over the phone. Alex relaxed infinitesimally, still cautious of dropping his guard, even to someone who couldn't see him.

"Yes, I will. Should I bring anything?"

"Just an appetite and holiday cheer. We'll take care of the rest. Tell Dana I'll talk to her tomorrow."

After hanging up the phone, Alex saw that David was sound asleep, and there was no need for a story. He put him to bed, then finished wrapping the last of his Christmas purchases, setting aside the ones to be sent to his family in Toronto. Emeril Live! was on the Food Network when that was done, then when there was nothing of interest on the other ninety-some channels, he looked through the employment section of the Post before retiring to bed.

When Scully let herself in a few minutes after eleven, the apartment was dark and silent. The little tree by the living room window threw constellations of colored stars against the darkened walls, interrupted occasionally by the glint of silver tinsel. There were no stockings hung on the mantel, something Scully had chosen not to practice years ago for a reason she couldn't quite recollect. It had something to do with her single status, and the sole stocking being a reflection of that, she knew. Maybe, with David in her life, and Alex, that would change in the future.

Scully reasoned that since 1993, she hadn't had a truly decent Christmas. In 1999, she and Mulder had broken that streak. They'd been involved for about a month at the time, but the newness... well, there really hadn't been any newness to the whole thing. The week from Christmas to New Year's had been joyful just due to the fact that she wasn't suffering from any trauma and he, for the first time in who knew how many years, wasn't alone. The next year, tragedy revisited and she was still mourning the loss of Mulder, and, it seemed, her spirit. Despite the efforts of her family and friends, she had taken little comfort in their company.

Then David came along, and while all was not well again, it was the best approximation she'd experienced in a long time.

This year, she had both David and Alex. He had grown so comfortable and close with both her and the little boy that she couldn't imagine him leaving after the New Year. Neither of them had brought it up; she didn't want him to leave, and sensed that he didn't want to, unless asked to do so. He didn't know her well enough to give her a meaningful gift, or she him, but they made do. Each seemed content with bestowing gifts upon their son, and sharing in his obvious happiness.

Alex stood nervously in the foyer of Maggie Scully's Baltimore home, trying to relax and follow Scully's lead. Upon arrival, the three of them had been showered with hugs and handshakes, and David had toddled off with his cousin Matthew to the toy-infested family room. Maggie and Tara handed out mugs of piping-hot apple cider, and the adults retired to the den, close enough to hear the boys play without interfering.

"So, Alex, what have you been doing with your days? Do you miss Arizona?"

Alex was only faintly surprised. Of course Scully had mentioned him to her mother before his arrival. "Not really. I've been doing the stay-at-home father routine, I'm looking around for a job."

"You worked with Dana before? At the Bureau?"

From Bill's carefully even tone of voice, this was a make-or-break question. Mulder had never had a chance at being in the man's good graces, just from being her partner. William Scully junior made no pretense at liking his sister's job, and Alex had to work that somehow to his advantage.

"Briefly. I was only there for about a year, did a few cases with her and Mulder. It wasn't quite what I had expected, so I moved on."

The nod Maggie gave him allowed him to relax, and Alex settled against the back of the sofa, glancing at Scully beside him. The amused light in her eyes indicated an all- clear. So far, so good.

It wasn't until after New Year's that it well and truly hit her. Scully was puttering around the apartment, straightening up before heading to bed, and passed Alex on the couch. He was stretched out, again looking through the employment ads, jotting down notes now and then on a pad by his thigh. Without being ostentatious about it, he was relaxed there, at home in her apartment. In their apartment.

She paused at her doorway, slamming the brakes on her train of thought. Their apartment. True, the lease was in her name, even though she had let the owner know when both David and Alex had taken up residence. This wasn't about material ownership, though. Co-habitants, friends, companions, however she wanted to put it, the fact she was skirting was that they were a family now. A snug little trio of herself, David and Alex. Her mother had seen it -- the easy camaraderie between the two of them, and its reflection on their son. Maggie hadn't voiced it, just threw small contented glances at her daughter, thankful that all was right at last.

Their little boy was asleep in his crib. Alex was in the living room, looking for a job. She was settling in, getting ready for bed. There was no marriage, no romance or intimacy even, but still they were a family. Scully stared into her bedroom, considering this thought pattern. David would be two late this coming spring, and would likely switch from a crib to a real bed. He should have his own room, right? It wasn't very fair, in some undefinable way that she wasn't quite ready to contemplate, for them to continue the current arrangement. She glanced around the room, remembering how Mulder had all but moved in. There was room for his clothes at the very least. Letting a small breath out through her nose, Scully turned back to the living room, leaning against the doorway to her room.

"Alex?"

He looked up from the paper, rubbing tiredly at one eye. "Hmm? What's up, Scully? Going to bed?"

"Yeah." She had to concentrate for a moment on not shuffling her feet. "If you'd like, I was thinking that we could start moving some of your things in here." She tilted her head towards the interior of her room.

His eyes widened, and she noticed the twitches in his cheeks. He was trying not to smile, not too much anyway. "Really?"

"Really. I was thinking that we were more of a family now." She felt that she should explain it more, but the soft light that graced his eyes and cheekbones manifested his understanding. He knew. She wanted him to stay, and he didn't want to leave.

"Sure. We'll do that this weekend. Tomorrow afternoon okay?"

"Fine with me." She returned his smile. She was as healed from Mulder's death as she would ever be. The ability to let another man into her life and, soon, her bed was an indication of that. It went unsaid, but understood, that intimacy was not included yet, but not out of the question for the future. Her heart was not yet ready.

"Goodnight. Don't stay up too late."

"Night. Thank you, Scully." She hesitated briefly in closing her door to flash him one of her rare full-fledged smiles. Alex blinked slowly, a chuffing sigh escaping from his chest. He gathered his papers and made his way to bed, switching off all the lights as he went.

Scully came into the kitchen the next morning smelling fresh coffee and pancakes, and hearing David's rapid-fire giggle. Her little boy, she saw, was gleefully trying to smear maple syrup wherever he could reach. He'd already gotten the tray of his high chair, himself, and was presently trying to include his dad.

"Looks like you're having fun." Scully chuckled as Alex dodged another sticky- fingered swipe. He glanced at her, sleek dark brows arching.

"You can clean it up." He stabbed another piece of pancake with the fork, aiming it towards David's open mouth. "Didn't you tell me he was neat?" When David obediently took the food without another attempted swipe, he added, "All right, malchik. Good job."

Scully grinned, stirring some sugar into the mug of coffee he'd set out for her.

"I love that name you have for him. Little man."

"Malchik? It fits him, don't you think?"

She nodded agreement. "Got a name for me?" She was teasing, but his face sobered slightly.

"Lusha."

She frowned thoughtfully, rolling it over in her mind. "Lusha...what does it mean?"

He didn't take his gaze away from hers, touching his fingers first to his temple, then sternum. Mind and heart. "Soul."

The End


Russian Translations: [in order of appearance]
Slava Bogu! [slahva bogoo] = Thank God!
Malchik [spelled phonetically] = little man
Lusha [loosha] = soul

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