by Louise Wu

Chemistry Book 2: Divided (Chapters 1-5)
Pairing: Mulder/Krycek
Rating: NC-17 for male/male sex, violence.
Spoilers: Season 5. Takes place after the Red and the Black. Warnings: Rape. Heavy emotional angst.
Note: I like my Krycek with one arm and my Mulder not color blind so he can fully appreciate those beautiful green eyes. And no HIV in my universe either.
Beta Thanks: Loren Q, Clio, Ness, Zoe Takashi, Lyrical Soul.
Inspiration: There's a bedside scene in Chapter 2 that's inspired by a very similar scene in Aries' Admission. My desire to take that one scene in a different direction led to the entire Chemistry series. Thanks, Aries!
Disclaimer: Krycek, Mulder, Scully, Skinner and other X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. All others are mine. No infringement of rights is intended.



Chapter 1

10 October 1998

** Krycek **

Tuesday was to be Mulder's birthday. Born in 1961, he would be thirty seven years old. I gathered that his birthday wasn't important to him. But I'd been seeing him for about four months and I wanted to do something.

I was more than a little anxious about it. I'd never really gone out of my way to celebrate anyone's birthday. I gave a girl a Valentine's Day card once, but I dumped her three days later.

The Saturday before, I went shopping. At first I really liked the idea of shopping for my man. I looked at clothes and thought to purchase what I wanted to see him wear. It made me feel deliciously possessive, like my sexy lover was mine to dress. But I wasn't sure if he'd like any of the items I picked. After a couple of hours, I got cranky and gave up.

I tried to dream up creative gift ideas. Tickets to an event? Too public. Sex toys? I didn't want to make sex the point. Massage oil? It's not easy to give a good massage with one hand. Jewelry? I'm not asking him to marry me. A book? Too impersonal. A tattoo? I loved the idea of marking him so that everyone would know he was mine. But, for some reason, I thought he'd object to having "Property of Alex Krycek" tattooed on his forehead.

By Sunday I was near panic until I realized that I could just do nice things for him. I came up with a plan and phoned, telling him I'd be coming over late on Monday night.

When I arrived around eleven, he was brushing his teeth. I kissed him on the forehead and retreated to the kitchen to put away my supplies.

Mulder eyed me suspiciously when he came out of the bathroom.

I spoke in what I hoped was an innocent voice. "Your kitchen is hopeless, Mulder. I just brought a few things."

"Okay." He kissed me on the temple. "I ran for over an hour tonight. I'm ready for bed. How about you?"

"I'll meet you there in twenty minutes."

He was already asleep by the time I crawled into bed. Perfect. I set my mental alarm clock for 5:45 and curled around his sleeping form.

The clock read 5:37 when I woke. Mulder was partially awake, snuggled up very close with his morning erection pressed between my butt cheeks.

I wriggled a little in his grasp and whispered, "Watch where you put that, Mulder."

Mulder moaned and slid his cock back and forth between the lobes of my butt. "You got somewhere better for me to put it?"

I extricated myself from his arms. "Yeah, I do." I slid down the bed, under the covers, my lips trailing down his chest and toward his groin.

I swiped the head of his cock with one big, sloppy lick. "Happy birthday, lover."

"Oh, yeah." I could hear the grin in his voice.

His legs opened automatically to make room for me. I scooted in between them and started licking his balls. His hand found my shoulder and held it gently.

I kissed and sucked around the base of his cock, lapping my way back to the tip. I let him feel my teeth, just a little bit, and he responded with a sudden intake of breath. He started to squirm, until I sucked in the head and began to swallow his thick erection.

I was working him with my tongue and throat, when suddenly his alarm clock went off.

"Fuck," he barked out, breaking away from me to turn off the damned thing. He bounced back into position quickly but not without jamming his knee into my forehead.

"Ouch! Watch it!"

"You okay?"

"Mfmf," I replied glomming onto his dick again. I sucked him right down.

"Oh, yeah. Suck me."

With a hand on his hip, I encouraged him to fuck my face. Soon he was doing most of the work as I steadied myself over his dick. His hips were writhing up and down at a sensual pace. I tongued and gnawed his cock until his whole lower body went rigid.

His hand found the back of my head, holding me to him as he shot into my throat. I swallowed eagerly and finished by licking him clean.

I pulled myself out from under the covers and leaned over him for a kiss. "Now that I've had my breakfast, why don't you jump in the shower and I'll make yours?"

"Don't you want to get off, Alex?"

"Later. It's your birthday. I want to spoil you a little."

Mulder smiled at me, happy but a little embarrassed by the attention. He looked sated and sweet. His fine hair was sporting a stand-up cowlick that Dennis the Menace would have been proud of.

For breakfast, I served the birthday boy homemade blueberry muffins and fresh orange juice. He drank his coffee and read the paper while I fed him bits of hot buttered muffin.

Before he left for work, he gave me an enthusiastic kiss. "Thank you for this morning, Alex."

I kissed him again, fondling his butt through Armani wool.

"I could get used to this, you know," he said enigmatically, slipping out the door.

That night I prepared French onion soup, hand folded pirozhki, salad and Valrhona chocolate tartlets. After dinner, I put on some music and we made out on the sofa, listening to the drug-inspired songs of Depeche Mode. When the CD ended, I took him to bed.

"Got something special planned for tonight?" Mulder inquired provocatively as he disrobed.

"As a matter of fact, I do."

"What?"

"Wait and see," I replied with a wink.

Once I was undressed, I guided a naked Mulder to the bed. I pushed him down, backside first, and pounced on him. I savored the sensation of his firm, muscular body under mine. We kissed. I nibbled and bit his ear lobes and neck. There was a spot on the side of his neck that, when properly stimulated, made him shiver and squirm. I nipped at it with my lips and laughed at his quivering reactions.

I slid off of him. "Roll over on your stomach."

"You gonna fuck me?"

"Not exactly. Have patience, Mulder." I slapped his flank to get him moving.

With a sigh, he turned over gracefully. I ran my hand down the nape of his neck, down his spine, across his ass, down one thigh and back up the other. Then I pulled on one thigh. "Open your legs," I whispered.

He complied. I sank down into the space he created and positioned my mouth over his ass. I licked, nibbled and teased the lobes of his butt and his upper thighs. After I'd amused myself sufficiently, I pried open his ass cheeks and settled my attentions on his anus. My tongue made circles around the little bud before closing in on it.

He moaned quietly when I reached the delicate tissue.

I laved and lapped and nipped at his anus until he could barely hold still.

His hips were thrusting into the sheets, mimicking the action he most likely wanted me to perform. "Please, Alex."

"Something you want, lover?" I replied innocently.

"Put it in me."

"What?"

"Your tongue, dammit. Fuck me with it."

So I did. At first I just barely poked the tip into him, removed it and lapped circles around his anus again. Then, at last, I pushed as far in as my tongue would go and fucked him vigorously.

It was such wicked fun to have my mouth and nose buried in this man's crack. And he loved the gentle but wild sensation of it, bucking and whimpering with the moist attention.

"Oh, god, Alex."

He could probably come this way, just from humping the sheets with my tongue up his ass, but there was something I'd wanted to do with him for a long time. I withdrew my tongue and lifted myself from between his legs. "Scoot over."

Ever impatient, Mulder replied, "Aren't you going to fuck me or something?"

"Scoot over, Mulder. I'll show you."

He moved. I pulled a condom and a bottle of lube out of the bedside table and lay on my back in the center of the bed.

He watched me, confused. "I'm gonna fuck you?"

"Sort of."

After rolling on the condom, I squeezed some lube into my palm and started coating my shaft.

He gave me an immature pout, his eyes never leaving the hand working my cock.

"Just a sec, Mulder." After thoroughly lubing myself, I said to him, "Show me your ass."

He knelt on all fours and maneuvered his butt in my general direction. My slippery fingers entered him and made sure he was wet and loose enough to proceed. He pushed back onto the invading fingers, helping me to get him ready. I removed my fingers and wiped my hand on a tissue.

"Okay. I want you to straddle my hips."

He turned to face me and I saw his eyes go wide. "Oh, Christ."

I gave him a lecherous smile for encouragement.

His eyes flicked from my dick to my face and back again. "Are you sure I can do this?"

"You're going to love it."

He situated himself over me. I helped guide him into position. Then I put the head of my cock at his asshole. "Whenever you're ready, Mulder. Take it slow."

He closed his eyes momentarily, as if saying a prayer, and began to use his leg and abdominal muscles to control his descent onto my cock. The feel of his tight ass taking me in was incredibly stimulating. I would come in just a few seconds if I allowed it. We groaned in unison as he slowly took everything I had to offer. When his balls touched me, I spoke again, "Just stay there for a minute. Get used to it."

His eyes were dilated with lust and he was biting his lip. After a few moments, he started to rock. Very slowly.

My Fox was an irresistible animal. No matter what I asked of him, he did it with enthusiasm.

Mouth opened in a parody of astonishment, he rasped, "Oh, fuck."

His hips and legs did all the work. I watched him experiment with the motions until he discovered how to stimulate his own prostate.

"Oh, Christ, Alex."

I grinned at him, a bit hazy with my own lust. "Do it, Mulder. Fuck yourself."

He began to move more quickly, making animal sounds deep in his throat. He braced himself and rode me hard, our bodies slapping together.

Mulder's head was thrown back as he gasped with the intensity of it. So gorgeous, with his wild eyes and a stray strand of hair dancing on his forehead...

Mindlessly, I encouraged him. "Oh, yeah."

"So fucking hot."

"Yeah. Fuck yourself on my dick."

Nothing made me hotter than this sweet man letting me control him sexually.

He shifted into a new position, finding a way to do it even harder. It felt so damned good to have him slamming his ass up and down on my cock. I wouldn't be able to keep myself from coming for long.

Mulder closed his eyes when my hand found his cock. He groaned loudly as I began to jerk him off. "Fuck, yes."

Soon we were both at a matched pace of him fucking himself, my hips meeting his ass and my hand on his erection. We pounded against each other, movements clumsy as control slipped away. My orgasm began just a split second before his. I could feel my dick spurting deep inside him as he shot all over my chest.

With a moan of satisfaction he slumped down onto my chest, my cock still buried in him. Neither of us moved for a long while.

Gradually I became aware of lips nibbling my forehead.

"Still alive?" I asked.

"I'm not sure," he replied. Arms at my sides, he raised his body weight off of me. A layer of lube and semen coated my belly and chest.

Blinking my eyes, I tried to make my feeble brain function again.

He eased his body off of my dick and slid down next to me. "Why are you so tired? I did all the work."

I chuckled at him and whispered the magic word, "Shower."

After we cleaned up, we both lay in bed, thoughtful, but not asleep.

"Alex?"

"Hmm?"

"When's your birthday?"

"June nine."

"1967?"

"Yes. Why'd you ask if you knew?"

"How much of the data in your Bureau record is real?"

"All of it."

"So you're really from Minneapolis?"

"Yes."

He had that look on his face again. Mulder was thinking. After a long while he finally spoke again. "Don't you like to be fucked?"

"No, I don't. I'd much rather fuck." I teased his pecs with my fingertips. "Is that a problem? Do you really need to fuck me?"

"I love it when you fuck me, but I'd like to fuck you now and then."

"You have, once."

"I haven't forgotten." He captured and kissed the fingers hovering over his chest. "Why is it punishment when I fuck you, but it's not when you fuck me?"

"I don't know, Mulder. I guess because I don't like it."

"But you wanted it that night."

"Yeah."

Nothing else was said. I knew he wanted to fuck me, but it wasn't in the cards. I didn't like how it made me feel.

Things with Mulder and me were becoming--if not exactly domestic, at least routine. I'd spend two or three nights a week at his place. We'd eat take out, watch movies on his VCR and fuck.

I wasn't working much, and I wasn't missing it either, but I was starting to wonder what I would do for a living. I just couldn't see myself coming home to Fox after a hard day of nefarious deeds. Dinner table conversation... 'Kill anyone interesting today, dear?' And I wasn't about to become Mrs. Fox Mulder.

My short-term solution was to do as little work as possible, which wasn't a major challenge. The Consortium wanted nothing to do with me once I set up my failsafe. To bring in a little money, I still did an occasional errand or favor for some of my other contacts. I didn't spend much. It would do for a while.

When Mulder was in town, I'd let myself into his apartment on weeknights around seven. If he wasn't home yet--and he often wasn't--I'd amuse myself by reading from his paperback collection. Sometimes I'd leave him little notes in the margins.

So I sat reading "The Haunting of Hill House" until 2 A.M. one Wednesday night in late October. No message from Mulder. No email from Mulder-travel. I left voicemail on his cell phone. "Where are you?" I finally gave up on him and crashed at his place. Much to my disappointment, his sheets neither smelled like him nor smelled particularly clean. It took me a long time to get to sleep.

Knowing Mulder's propensity for trouble, it was easy to imagine that something had happened to him. It could be anything. Eaten by werewolves. Lost in a time warp. Arrested for mouthing off to local authorities. I tossed and turned half the night. The other half I spent sleepily groping the bed seeking his warm body.

The next morning, I dialed his cell phone and got the message, 'cell phone customer not available at this time.' Shit. I replayed the last few messages on his answering machine and learned that his alterations were ready and his auto insurance needed to be renewed.

I drove by Scully's apartment, but found neither her car nor his. It looked like she'd picked up her mail yesterday. I phoned their office at the Bureau and got voicemail.

I fed his fish, reminding myself that he's a big boy and can take care of himself. Not reassuring. Mulder actually wasn't very good at taking care of himself. In many ways he was like a child.

By 10 P.M. my errant G-man still hadn't come home. Probably he was just running amok on some case, certain to give Skinner heartburn. He was probably just visiting his mother. But I was concerned, so I dialed his cell phone and got the damned 'not available' message again. I used the autodial to call Scully's home number. I got her answering machine. I wasn't about to call Skinner, so I decided to hunt through Mulder's computer files for Scully's cell phone number.

The only thing I found on the computer that looked like a phone list was coded with animal names and I couldn't decide which he'd assign to Dana. She seemed too assertive for Turtle, too pretty for Skunk and too svelte for Walrus. Short of dialing all 37 numbers in the D.C. area, I figured I should find another way. I did add an entry for Rat with my own cell number, thinking Mulder would get a kick out of it someday.

I perused his Quicken data and learned that he paid his own cell phone charges, which he submitted to the Bureau for reimbursement. He had a piddling $9,403 in his IRA and $348 in his savings account. Those government paychecks just don't go very far. Not much left after a few Armani suits. Maybe I should offer to help with the rent.

I went hunting for the cell phone bills, which I found 20 minutes later beneath two moldy apples on the dining room table. I identified three frequently dialed local numbers--one was surely hers. I looked for one that followed a call to Scully's home number and narrowed it to one number. So I called.

She answered, sounding weary. "Scully."

"Do you know who this is?"

"I thought you might call. How did you hear?"

The very flat tone in her voice made me go numb. "Hear what?"

"Why did you call?"

"I'm trying to find Mulder. What happened, Scully?"

The pause on the other end suggested that Scully was trying to decide what I should be told, if anything.

I was now far too worried to be patient--or to even breathe for that matter. "Tell me what happened to him," I demanded.

"He was shot Tuesday evening."


Chapter 2

** Krycek **

Oh, shit. Oh, fuck. "Where?"

"Outside a grocery store in his neighborhood."

"No, I mean where was he shot? Is he... alive?" I could hear panic seep into my voice.

"He was shot once in the chest and twice in the gut. He's got a collapsed lung and some serious abdominal wounds." She hesitated before she came to the point. "He's recovering from his second surgery right now. He's probably going to make it."

Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh. Shit. I felt immediately torn by two conflicting needs. First, I wanted to rush to him and hold his hand. Second, I wanted to perpetrate less-than-gentle bodily contact unto the person or persons who did this to him.

"Where is he? I want to see him."

Any vestige of warmth in her voice disappeared. "He's still under anesthesia. I doubt very much he'll be conscious until morning."

I needed to see him. Touch him. "So there's nothing I can do for him tonight?"

"No."

"Where is he?"

Scully gave an angry sigh and replied, "George Washington."

"Will someone be there to protect him overnight?"

"Yes. And I'm not telling you the details."

Oh, Christ, if he dies I'm gonna... I couldn't even think it. Crisis-mode Alex taking over... On to agenda item two. "Scully, do you know who shot him?"

"Probably one of your friends. Why don't you tell me?"

That hurt. "You don't think I-" I cut myself off. That wasn't the point. "I don't know. Did anyone see anything?"

"Give me one good reason why I should answer your questions."

"Maybe I can figure out what happened."

Silence.

"Please, Scully. For Mulder's sake... I need to know."

"Two witnesses saw Mulder walk to the side of the store with a tall, 30-something, black-haired Caucasian wearing a battered leather jacket. He had a small black tattoo in the web of his hand--a star-shaped object. Another witness saw a similar man drive out of the parking lot in an old black BMW two-door."

Oh, fuck. My car. The jacket was my trademark. I immediately identified the tattoo. Knowing who he worked for, I could guess why my look-alike had been sent to kill Mulder. The fuckers were dead.

"That wasn't me, Scully. I swear to you. You know I wouldn't hurt him." I needed her to believe me.

"You or your friends, Krycek. I don't care who pulled the trigger."

There was nothing I could say. Oh, Mulder... Shit! I had to stay in crisis mode. "Thank you for the information."

"Do you know who did this, Krycek?"

"I'm sorry, but I've got to run. Tell him I'll come visit in the morning. Bye."

I bolted for the door. There was something I had to do. In order to do it effectively, I had to keep my feelings at bay.

On the drive to Baltimore, I kicked myself for not even noticing that someone had borrowed the Beemer. Even knowing, I couldn't detect anything different about the old car. They'd been very careful or they'd used a look-alike vehicle. I should have kept a mileage log.

I did not allow myself to think of Fox dying in a hospital bed. I pretended that when I returned, he'd be sleeping peacefully in his bed. Our bed. I needed to see him, touch him, to reassure myself.

By the time I reached Baltimore an hour later, I had beaten back my fears. My anger brought me to a good focus. There was only one thing I could do for Mulder tonight.

I swore to myself that the bastards who did this would not live another night.

I remembered a promise I made to Mulder on a street corner one night. 'Promise me you'll never kill another innocent person.' I felt like I almost had his permission. All I had to do was not hurt anyone who wasn't involved in his attack.

When I pulled off the highway ten minutes outside of Baltimore, Fox seemed miles away. I was in full action mode.

At a deserted rest stop, I pulled over and opened the trunk, retrieving a dirt-encrusted New York license plate to replace the one on the back of my car. I removed the front plate. I took my prosthetic arm out of the trunk and sat in the car to strap it on; A one-armed man was just too easy to identify. Using the prosthetic and my teeth, I put a latex glove on my real hand. With greater ease, I slipped a black leather one on the prosthetic. A balaclava went in my pocket. I spread a towel down on the driver's side floor mat to catch fibers and other trace evidence.

I continued into the city and parked a few blocks away from my destination--a tiny house in a shabby part of downtown Baltimore. The clock said 1:00 A.M. I made sure the dead-end street was deserted before I got out of the car. First I had to identify the front of the house, since I'd only been there once. Then I backtracked and made my way to the rear.

I slipped the black knit balaclava over my head. It smelled like transmission fluid. Every breath of air was a toxic assault on my lungs. I sneaked through the yard of another house and hopped a fence.

Concealed in my target's back yard, I removed the stinky knit mask. I watched the house for almost an hour to make certain that no one was awake inside. I kept myself entertained with thoughts of cutting off this man's cock and balls and stuffing them into his mouth before I killed him.

Normally, I would have planned a hit in advance and away from the target's home. It's easier to take someone by surprise in some dark corner of the world. Homes have alarms, dogs and family members. But I clung to my vow. J.J would not live another night.

Tugging the balaclava back on, I entered through the kitchen. The lock was pitifully easy. Overconfident bastard. I paused in the kitchen for several minutes, memorizing the house sounds so I'd detect any changes immediately. Since the house was dark, I figured J.J. was in the bedroom, but I silently scanned the office, bathroom and living room. Empty.

I stood outside the open door of his bedroom for a minute. I could hear snoring, but no body movement. I saw only shadows, but it looked like two figures in the bed. One looked too small to be a person. I figured if it was a dog, it would be barking already, so it had to be a sleepover girlfriend. I did my best stealth walk into the bedroom, pulling my gun out of my pocket. In the dim light from outside the window, I could see the side of J.J.'s face and the face of a girl. Obvious jailbait.

Oh, shit. Here was the innocent Mulder had mentioned. Kill her and betray Mulder. Leave her alive and risk capture. Two seconds was enough for my adrenaline-hyped brain to resolve that one. I didn't like the answer I came up with, but I'd have to live with it.

I put my gun to J.J.'s head so he could feel it, and flattened my voice into a monotone. "Wake up, J.J."

His eyes opened, but he froze; he knew he was fucked. He didn't blink. One of his arms was on top of the covers. The hand clenched into a fist, distorting the tiny tarantula tattooed on it.

The teenaged girl leaped out of bed and flung herself against the wall. Shit.

I pulled the trigger, splattering J.J.'s brains into the headboard.

All the times I'd killed before, the only thing notable about how killing felt was that I felt so little. I'd been accused of doing it because I enjoyed it, but I didn't enjoy it. I just didn't care.

Now it was personal. It had been deeply satisfying to shoot J.J. I felt a flicker of guilt knowing that Mulder would despise me this pleasure.

I took off, praying the girl had been too scared to notice anything that could be used to identify me. I ran faster this time, but still trying to be quiet. I took the same route back, fumbling my vault over the wall and bruising my knee. Stupid fuck!

Yanking the smelly mask off and cramming it into my pocket, I walked quickly but quietly away from the house. I got to the car, started it and drove exactly 18 miles per hour out of the neighborhood and 23 miles per hour through downtown Baltimore. I took a major street south and continued to obey the speed limit in a boringly uniform manner.

I kept visualizing him at home asleep. If I hadn't, I couldn't have kept moving. I'd probably just pull the car to the side of the road and sob on the steering wheel.

Outside Baltimore, I found a southbound back road. I closely watched the scenery until I crossed a little bridge. Pulling the car over, I walked back to the bridge. In the dark, I did my best to locate what looked like the deepest part of the creek, wiped off the gun carefully with a paper towel and gently dropped it into the water. One of the rules of my business: kill a man, lose a gun. I had two more in the trunk, one of which I tucked into my pants.

I returned to the highway and worked my way in a circuitous route back toward D.C. Annapolis, actually. Once I got there, it still took me half an hour to reach the estate. I stayed calm because I had to. This was going to be more challenging.

Crisis mode. Stay alive, Alex.

I concealed the car a quarter mile away, on a dirt road behind a barn. After guzzling water from a bottle under the seat, I grabbed a toolkit and made my way to my target's gate. I found a grassy place to hide ten feet away. I watched for twenty minutes to insure I was alone and undetected.

Mulder had to live. He just had to. No, don't go there, Alex. Not now. Keep your focus.

This was the first time I'd broken into an estate. Like a business facility, it merited a review of building plans and a pre-hit inspection. But I needed the man dead. Tonight. These guys were arrogant. Most of them had only the simplest security systems, usually turned off for their own convenience.

I needed to get inside before sunrise. Locating a trip wire on the fence, I followed it half way around the house before I found the junction box. An old system, it would be easy to break. The junction box was a tiny little stainless steel container about the size of a wallet. It took me about twenty minutes, working with tools through the fence, to create a short and disconnect the box. It would have been a lot easier with two hands, but at least the prosthetic would hold the needle nosed pliers.

I put my full weight on the fence, then released it and hid behind a bush. Nothing happened for ten minutes, so I put the balaclava back on and scaled the fence. I went back to the circuit box from the other side and reconnected it. It appeared that the short circuit hadn't triggered the alarm, but there might be a diagnostic warning that someone would notice eventually. Or the gate wouldn't open when someone tried to leave.

Cautiously, I made my way closer to the house where I could keep watch. I knew he had a wife and two or three kids. He was too arrogant or too stupid to have a bodyguard, but he still might have armed company.

In my head, I played out the ways I could do this. If the old man left the estate, I'd have to wing it. But I believed he usually worked at home. An equestrian pal of my former employer, he liked to ride in the morning. I moved cautiously around the house until I could see the stables. I crept there and ducked down behind a hedge.

No surprise to me that the stable was wired. The man worshiped his pricey thoroughbred horses. However, the security system looked twenty-five years old--I could see the wires and clunky motion detector on the door. This system probably wouldn't have a control panel in the house. I clipped through the red wire, then the blue one and let myself in. I located the control panel just inside the door and cut the power. A horse chuffed from behind me, but didn't seem unduly upset by my presence.

The only window had a view of the kitchen. Perfect. I made myself as comfortable as possible, without hindering my view, and settled in to wait. The mask came off again. The horses weren't going to identify me. Every ten minutes I'd take a short walk inside the front of the stable to keep my body from getting too stiff. I avoided the stalls because I didn't want to alarm the horses.

The sun came up. A half hour later, I saw wifey in the kitchen. Then two kids. I hoped they didn't go riding with Daddy today. For the sake of a promise.

Then my target appeared. A minor rival of that Morley-fuck Spender's, he was younger than most of the old men. However, he was not going to outlive them. I waited patiently through breakfast. I resented the little scene of domestic bliss knowing that Mulder was lying in a hospital bed. I reminded myself not to fall apart.

Cry about Mulder later. For now, you're just a killer, Alex.

The family left the kitchen in stages. I couldn't track them elsewhere in the house, but I hoped the kids were getting dressed for school. About a half an hour later, I was rewarded with the sight of wifey and three children--someone didn't get any breakfast--leaving the house and heading for the garage. I heard a car start and got a brief glimpse of a Volvo in the driveway.

Time for your ride. C'mon you bastard.

An hour and a half later, he finally came out the back door and headed for the stable. I reached for the black knit mask, but he was alone, so I didn't bother. I quietly took a position inside the front door. He entered the building and stepped to the control panel. Before he could switch off the alarm, he had my gun in his face.

He tried to be cool, but I could see the fear. "Good morning, Krycek."

I came right to the point with a lie. "J.J. told me you sent him to kill Mulder."

"Spender wants him alive. I don't."

"Why not?"

"He says you've been spending a lot of time with Mulder. Given what you know, that's an unacceptable risk." He tried to look relaxed. Maybe he didn't believe I'd kill him. Thought himself too important to touch.

"So, why not kill me?"

"As we both know, you have information secreted away that would come to light if anything were to happen to you."

"I guess that walking ashtray didn't tell you that this information would also be released if anything happened to Mulder?"

"No, he didn't. Why should you care what happens to Mulder?"

"He's my lover."

I watched that sink in for a moment. Surprise at first. Then he realized that it changed the equation between us. This man had seen too much to self-destruct in terror. His face just turned blank and he swallowed hard. I put the muzzle to his temple and fired.

Killing the arrogant bastard felt good.

I probably made Spender's day by killing off his most vocal opponent, but that couldn't be helped.

I glanced down at the corpse. There was no point in wasting another shot or checking for a pulse. I resisted the urge to kick the body, instead cautiously exiting the stable.

After making my way back to the fence, I reconnected the short. I scaled the fence, but didn't bother reconnecting the system this time. Not seeing any witnesses, I dashed back toward the car. There were no vehicles on the road, but the corpse's neighbor was reading the paper on the front porch. I was able to avoid him by crawling on the far side of a hedge.

I got into my car and wedged the murder weapon in between the cushions of the back seat. I shucked both gloves and left them inside-out on the towel, to the left of the brake pedal. I thought about driving further down the road to avoid the neighbor, but I couldn't be sure the road had an outlet. So I just cruised by with my face turned the other way.

Once I was half a mile down the road, I laid down some speed. If I came across the police in this neighborhood, it would be because they'd been called. I had to get out of there while I still had the gun.

Please let Mulder still be alive. There was no one I could pray to, but I kept thinking it over and over again anyway. My mantra. I had to remind myself to keep my mind on the job. Just a little bit longer...

I made it all the way to the main road without seeing any law officers. I headed for D.C., again scouting for a place to dump the gun. I eyed some spots along the Patuxent River, but there were too many cars on the road, so I kept going. This would be more difficult now that the workday had begun.

I eventually located a reasonable creek side in Prince Georges County. I wiped the gun and dropped it. Kill a man, lose a gun.

About fifteen minutes away, I found a dirt road and pulled out of sight. I put the old license plates back on my car, hoping no one had a plate number from the attack on Mulder. Asking Scully would have been far-sighted, but I was too distressed to be that thorough.

I dumped the gloves in a weed pile. Slipping off my sneakers, I wrapped them in the towel from the floor of the car. The entire bundle went into a plastic shopping bag. After caching it in the trunk for later disposal, I put on a battered pair of running shoes that I keep in the car for just this purpose.

I returned to the highway and headed back toward D.C. At the first sign of civilization, I stopped and tossed the shoes and towel into a dumpster behind an old church. It was after 11 A.M. My adrenalin had dissipated and I was just starting to feel tired. As my defenses eroded, tears began to run down my cheeks.

When I got to the hospital, I parked in a back lot and approached cautiously. I found a pay phone and redialed Scully's cell number from memory.

"Scully."

"Are you at the hospital?"

"Yes."

"What room number?"

She hesitated, but told me. "140B."

"Is Skinner there?"

"No."

"Anyone else who might recognize me?"

"I don't think so."

"My name is David White."

"If you say so."

I hung up.

I made my way through the labyrinth of corridors with baffling directional signs and eventually found his room. There was an obvious law-enforcement type in a suit sitting outside the room, but no one I knew. I hoped he felt the same way about me.

Putting on my mask of sincerity, I approached him. "Hi. I'm a friend of Mulder's, David White." I shook his hand and asked in my most docile voice, "Would it be all right if I went in to see him?"

"Agent Scully?" he called into the room.

Scully came out and put a hand on my right shoulder. "David, how nice to see you. Come in." Her voice was flat.

She nodded at the Bureau man and escorted me in.

Mulder was asleep. He was deathly pale and looked hung-over. He was covered with a blanket, so I couldn't see the damage, but he seemed thin and fragile. I felt an ache deep in my gut, as if I'd been the one shot.

You've got to live.

I glanced back at Scully. She wasn't leaving me alone with him. I whispered to her, "Shut the door."

She complied and went to the window. I followed her, so he couldn't hear my question. "Is he going to make it?"

"Probably." The way she said it made me believe that she knew he would survive, but felt I didn't deserve to know it. "This was your fault, wasn't it?"

"What makes you say that?"

"I don't know. Maybe it's just that everything really bad that's happened in the past four years seems to have you in the middle of it."

That was like a knife in my chest, but I couldn't blame her. "You're right. It was my fault." My voice caught. "I did my best to fix it before I came here."

"Oh, great," she muttered under her breath and turned away.

"Scully."

She turned back to me.

In case she had missed the point, I added, "You don't have to look for the men who did this."

Scully understood immediately and gave me a curt nod. Anger burned in her troubled blue eyes.

She remained at the window while I returned to him, but she kept her eye on me. Maternal instinct, I suppose.

I sat on the side of the bed. He didn't stir. I took his hand--the one that didn't have an IV in the back of it. I stroked it and spoke to him in a soft voice, hoping Scully couldn't hear me.

"Hey, lover. I'm here. Alex." I didn't know what to say and I was struggling not to cry again. "It looks like you're going to be okay. I know you'll be just fine." Who was I trying to convince? "I want to tell you how much I care about you. I... I really... Your fish really need you, so you'll just have to come home soon and take care of them." Fuck, I was losing it. I decided to stop babbling and petted his matted hair instead. I sat there for a long time, trying to get my feelings under control.

Scully took a few calls on her cell phone. I just sat there watching him breathe. I needed to be near him. I wanted to be here when he woke up. To reassure him, or me?

I went to the window when a nurse came in and conferred with Scully. The nurse replaced the IV bags and left. He never woke.

I sat in a visitor's chair and dozed off a little, but he was still asleep when I woke. I paced, feeling responsible and helpless--a combination guaranteed to make me miserable.

If he'd just wake up and look at me, I'd feel so much better. I could only hope that seeing me would make him feel better, too. I stood there looking down at him and felt wetness on my cheeks. I didn't bother to fight my tears this time. I was beyond caring who saw me like this anymore.

I went to Scully, who was now working on her laptop. "Is he ever going to wake up?"

"He was awake this morning, but the pain was so severe they gave him a hefty dose of Demerol. He'll probably be out for at least a few hours." Her voice was a little kinder than it had been before.

I tried to smile my appreciation, then returned to the chair next to him.

Her cell phone rang again. After a few words, she closed it and came to me. "Skinner's on his way."

Shit. I needed to be here when Mulder woke up. At least I needed him to know I'd been here. I fished in my pocket and pulled out my keys. I removed the silver fox and fastened it onto his hospital name bracelet. I whispered into his ear, "Ya tebya lyublyu," and kissed his forehead.

I nodded at Scully and left.

Walking back to my car, I cursed myself for being such a chicken shit. 'I love you,' I whispered in Russian to my unconscious lover.

Back at his apartment, I fed the fish. The ones who needed him so damned badly... I felt better having something to do. Now I was really anxious. I picked at some leftover Thai food in his frig that was probably ancient. I hoped the peppers would kill whatever was growing in it. It made my stomach stop growling anyway.

In the bathroom, I found his after-shave and slapped some on my face.

I finally made myself go get rid of my car. Get framed for one assault. Kill two men. Lose a car. I loaded my tools into my gym bag and took it back inside Mulder's apartment. A quick trip to my apartment to pick up some cash, and I was on my way.

I drove to College Park and found a used car dealer who looked disreputable enough to handle stolen cars. I put on dark glasses and a fresh pair of leather gloves before going inside. I gave the dealer the legal pink slip, which had a bogus name and address. He gave me cash. A lot less than the car was worth and I didn't argue, so I knew he knew why I was selling it. It literally pays to be discreet in his business.

I took a cab to Alexandria. Being a criminal is time consuming. I found another dealer there and paid cash for a ten-year-old gray Toyota Camry. It was the only automatic he had on the lot. Boring, but safe because there were thousands on the road just like it.

When I got back to D.C., it was around 10 P.M. I found a payphone and dialed the number Mulder had listed for Bear. Skinner answered. I hung up and went to the hospital.

It was probably past visiting hours, but I figured I could lie my way into the room if I had to. The corridor was empty, except for the guard at Mulder's door. But before I got within forty feet of him, I heard a familiar snick behind me and felt cold metal at the back of my neck. Someone must have stepped out of a patient room. I knew I could probably tip off Mulder's guard, but I was afraid to draw Mulder into this. Whatever this was.

A voice. "Step this way, Krycek."

I recognized the voice. Koch. One of Spender's thugs. This was bad. Very bad.

He led me into a room and shut the door. He had my right arm cuffed before he'd figured out what he was going to do with other end. Not the Morley Man's brightest recruit. He finally attached it to a hospital bed. Too bad he didn't cuff it to the prosthetic; I know how to get out of that.

Koch stood back, keeping his gun at the ready.

Impatiently, I barked out, "Let's get this over with. I can smell your fucking cigarette. I know you're here."

The white privacy drape slid back. "Your feelings for him are touching, Alex." He blew smoke in my face. "But your work is careless. You might have gotten away with killing Schweck if you hadn't come to see Mulder."

Instant anxiety. I'd expected him to figure out that I'd killed Schweck, but not so quickly. "So, what? You're going to kill me because I took out your chief detractor. I did you a favor."

"Yes, you did. Unfortunately, you also created a problem. A big one for yourself. A small one for me." His voice had that smug tone I despised.

I was filled with a sense of impending doom. My mind ran through everything, searching for my mistake, but I couldn't find it.


Chapter 3

** Krycek **

He smiled at my attempts to figure it out. "The stable has two security systems. The first, a rather antiquated alarm system, which you effectively disabled. The second, installed very recently, a pair of microcameras."

Fuck. Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck. But that still didn't explain what the Morley bastard wanted.

"If you'd thought to inform me of your assassination plans, I might have gotten there first to dispose of the evidence. However, the Annapolis police arrived first and your photo is now on an APB."

I was totally and completely fucked.

My brain worked frantically to stay ahead of him. What does he want? Then I got it. He's worried that I'll trade his secrets for my freedom. However, as much as I'd love to blow the whistle on the Morley-smoking sonofabitch, I couldn't figure out how to do this without getting me and Mulder killed. The bastard knew it, too. "I see where you're going with this," I said, trying to suppress the fear from my voice.

"Do you?" He seemed delighted, as much as his wrinkled mug could show such a feeling. Tossing his cigarette on the floor, he crushed it with his shoe.

"If I knew a way to go public on the Consortium without getting killed, I'd have done it already."

"It's good to hear you're still a loyal member of the team, Alex."

Self-righteous prick. Fuck.

Retrieving a pack of Morley's from his coat, he inserted one between chapped lips. Koch had his lighter out before you could say lung cancer.

"Let's review the picture. You killed a prominent man and your photo is now in the hands of every law enforcement officer within a 100 mile radius." He blew smoke at me again. The smell of his cigarettes was loathsome to me. "So, you're going to be arrested. It's only a matter of time. And once in jail you'll be looking for something with which to bargain your way out."

I knew I was in deep. I didn't need his little monologue, but past experience taught me that there was no stopping him. Attempting to hurry him along would probably only lead to a black eye and further taunting, which was worse. I was only half listening. The other half of my brain was trying to find a way out of this mess. I'd have to leave town--probably the country. Dammit.

He continued. "Information about my work, or the Consortium, is not your bargaining chip. If you try to use it, some very unpleasant things will happen to you. And your loved ones. Do you understand, Alex?"

For a moment my anger got the better of my fear. But I forced myself to hold still. With this dangerous man, you need to know when you're losing and behave accordingly. I nodded at him, hoping that would be enough.

"So we will continue, as we have before. We don't bother you and you don't talk about us. Right, Alex?"

"Right." I hated him so badly, but I only had myself to blame. How could I leave town with Mulder in the hospital? He needed me. I'd have to be extremely careful until he recuperated.

"Good. I'm glad we had this little talk."

The smoking bastard turned toward Koch who handed him a cell phone. Important man like Spender doesn't even carry his own phone. He opened it and dialed. "Sgt. Quinn?" "Yes, he's in room 146B." And he walked out.

Fuck. Of course. I wasn't surprised that he turned me in. Koch kept his weapon on me until two Annapolis policemen and one policewoman burst in, guns drawn. Koch retrieved his cuffs. A cop with sergeant's stripes whipped out another pair and bound my right arm to his left. The female officer read me my rights.

I'd never been arrested before; I hadn't made very many mistakes. Certainly nothing of the magnitude of being filmed murdering a prominent citizen. And me without consortium cronies to make ugly problems go away... I was screwed.

They put me in a van and drove to Annapolis. I kicked myself, on Mulder's behalf, all the way there. If he was going to fall for a criminal, he should have picked one who was less of a fuck up. I knew I was going to prison. I had no useable bargaining chips. That Morley-fuck was right.

** Scully **

The next morning I sat at the table, reviewing a medical journal from the hospital library. Mulder woke up around nine. I joined him at the bed and gave him my familiar 'get well' smile.

"Hey," he said weakly.

"You're going to be okay, Mulder."

He nodded, obviously still groggy from the drugs.

I put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly.

Mulder gave me a dizzy half smile.

He seemed peaceful, so I went back to the table and my reading, just keeping an eye on him. He didn't pay much attention to me.

In spite of the fact that Mulder is older than me, I think of him like a kid brother. He's such a child sometimes. And when he's hurting, I watch him like a hawk. He can't be trusted to do what's best for himself, even when he's well. His expectations about what he can do while injured are ludicrous. So I guard him aggressively, ready at any moment to jump in and talk him out of doing anything foolish.

Twenty minutes later he called out, "Scully!"

I dashed to the bed. "What is it?"

He was holding his hospital wristband, his face radiant with delight. There was a little silver fox clipped to it. "He was here!"

I stared at him, dumbfounded.

"Alex! When was he here?"

"Yesterday. He came around lunchtime and stayed till about six."

"I wish I hadn't missed him." He frowned his disappointment.

"He'll be back. He only left yesterday because I told him Skinner was coming."

He nodded.

"How are you feeling?"

"I've felt better."

I sat next to him. Neither of us spoke. I'd been at his bedside so many times. Nothing needed to be said.

He'd been excited like a little boy when he realized Alex had visited. Whether he could admit it or not, he really loved the man. And, given what I saw yesterday, I think maybe Alex loved him back. I thought about what the killer had said. "You don't have to look for the men who did this." He'd killed for Mulder. It wasn't how I'd express my love, but someone like Krycek might say it with bullets.

I'd always assumed that he was a sociopath. Maybe he was, but they weren't supposed to be capable of love. For the first time, I felt sorry for Alex. I wondered what made him. He was caught between two worlds, not fully comfortable in either of them. At least not where Mulder was concerned.

My cell phone rang. I went to the table and retrieved it. "Scully."

"It's Skinner. How is he?"

"He's doing better, sir. He's in a lot of pain, but he seems more himself."

"Good. I've got more good news. Guess who was arrested yesterday?"

I knew immediately. "I don't know, sir," I said, afraid to hear it. Afraid to say his name and have Mulder overhear it.

"Alex Krycek," Skinner said triumphantly.

Maybe Krycek deserved this, but Mulder didn't. I almost forgot that Krycek was a criminal who ought to have been in jail. Instead, this just seemed like something else that would hurt Mulder.

"Scully, you there?"

"Yes, I'm just surprised." Then I remembered I wasn't supposed to know what he'd done. "Uh, what was he arrested for?"

"First degree murder. Robert Hamilton Schweck, the foreign currency guru. And get this, Scully, the dumbass killed him on camera. The entire thing was shot from two different angles. That boy is going to prison."

"Sounds like it," I replied without enthusiasm.

"I know you two were putting together cases against him on some other charges. Here's your chance."

"Well, we don't actually have much evidence." That was not a distortion of the truth.

"Assemble what you've got. I've already told Annapolis P.D. that we want him for a few days."

"Yes, sir."

"Tell Mulder. He's sure to appreciate some good news."

"Sir, if you don't mind," I said dropping the volume of my voice, "I think I'll wait. I don't want to get him excited."

"Whatever you think, Scully. Can you at least compile what you've got on Krycek and present it to me tomorrow?"

"Yes, sir." Oh, god. It was my job to try to find enough evidence to keep Mulder's lover in jail.

"Good."

I couldn't tell Mulder. I knew he'd be angry with me later, but I wanted him to have at least one more day of recovery without worry.

I needed to make another phone call, but for this one I stepped out into the hall. I found an empty maintenance corridor.

A man's voice answered, "Annapolis Police Department."

"May I speak with the sergeant on duty please?"

"Sure, who's calling?"

"Agent Scully. FBI."

A moment later, a different male voice answered. "Quinn."

"Sergeant Quinn. My name is Dana Scully. I'm with the FBI. I understand you're holding Alex Krycek."

"Yes, ma'am. Killed a good friend of the mayor yesterday. We got his ass, but good. Recorded the whole thing on digital video."

"Congratulations on the quick capture, Sergeant."

"Thank you. We're right proud to close this one fast."

I put on my best needy-woman voice. "I called to ask a favor. My boss, Assistant Director Skinner, has already requested that Krycek be sent to the Bureau for interrogation on some federal matters. If I could talk to Krycek for a moment on the phone, it would save us some prep time here."

"Well, sure. That's no problem, little lady, but I don't think he's going to confess to anything on the phone." He guffawed.

I held the phone away from my ear. "Thank you very much, Sergeant."

"You just hold on a sec and I'll get a phone in to him."

It took about five minutes before I heard Krycek's voice. "Yeah?" He sounded suspicious.

"It's Scully. I know you can't talk to me, because you have an audience, right?"

"Yes."

"Are you okay?"

"Yes."

"No one getting rough with you?"

"No."

"Mulder's doing better today. He was very happy to see the fox you left. I'm not going to tell him about you being in jail for a couple of days, because I don't want him to worry."

"I understand."

"Do you have a lawyer?"

"Not the kind I need."

"I know Mulder would want to help. Do you need assistance finding a good criminal lawyer?" It was the only thing I could do to protect Mulder's interests.

"Yes."

"Is there anything else you need?"

"Yes."

"Bring you something?"

"No."

"Uh... You want me to take good care of him, right?"

"Yes."

"I will. Anything else?"

"No."

"That's it then. Give the phone back to the sergeant."

After a moment, Quinn came back on the line. "Well, did ja get what you needed?"

"Yes. Thank you very much, Sergeant Quinn."

As Mulder lay in pain in his hospital bed, his life was crumbling. And he didn't even know it.

** Krycek **

I could have kissed her for that call. Scully was being good to me, or at least to Mulder, and putting her personal feelings aside.

About three hours later, one of the cops took me into a private room and I met Susan Peterson. My first impression was that she was a lesbian. She was tall, plump, impeccably groomed and very elegant. She wore a tailored suit every bit as nice as the ones Mulder wore. She smiled at me, which I didn't expect.

"Dana Scully called me and used her own credit card to pay my retainer."

Shit. It was damned good to have that woman on your side. "I assume that information is confidential?"

"Yes, it is. But why don't you tell me why an FBI agent took that unusual action on your behalf?"

I didn't want to answer, so I didn't.

"Everything you tell me will be kept private. The more I know, the more power I have to help you."

I didn't want to implicate Scully, but I guess she'd already done that herself.

Peterson asked, "Is she your girlfriend?"

"No. She's my lover's best friend."

She examined me for a moment, seeking an answer. "And your lover would be a man?"

"Yes."

"Does he have anything to do with this case?"

"Indirectly."

"Does Dr. Scully?"

"No."

"Does your lover have anything to do with the FBI?"

"Yes."

"Would you like to tell me his name?"

"No."

She gave me a stern look. "That's okay for now."

I don't trust easily, but I had a good feeling about this woman. She was forceful and direct--and smart enough to know how to handle me.

She gave me some documents to sign, and waited patiently while I read them. Her hourly rate was $350, plus expenses. I groaned inwardly and signed.

"Do you have the means to pay for my services?"

"I think so."

"If we go to trial, you're looking at a minimum of $200,000."

I looked her straight in the eye. "I don't expect to go to trial, and I have $90,000 in an account."

"Did you earn that money legally?"

I didn't like that question one bit. I'm not dumb enough to think that lying to your own lawyer is a good idea, but I also didn't want to lose the ability to pay her.

"I think that answers my question. We'll move on." Peterson was smooth.

She put the signed contract in her briefcase and pulled out a blank pad of paper. "Now, why don't you tell me what happened on Friday morning, starting a few hours before you arrived at the estate of Robert Hamilton Schweck."

Brushing past an instinct to deny ever having heard of the man, I took a deep breath. I thought back to Friday and began. "I was on my way from... from... another... location-"

She rolled her eyes, but then the look softened into a smile. "No harm in telling the truth to your attorney, Mr. Krycek."

I eyed her grimly. It went against all my instincts to tell anyone what I'd done.

"I won't be able to help you if you won't talk to me. I'm on your side, Mr. Krycek."

I made myself tell it. She just listened, taking very few notes. I told her everything about killing Schweck, without mentioning J.J. or Mulder.

"You've neatly circumvented an obvious piece of information. Why did you kill Mr. Schweck?"

I thought about that for a long while. "Revenge."

"For what?"

"Is that important?"

"It has a direct bearing on your conviction and the sentence you'll receive."

Ugh. "He tried to kill someone... someone I care about."

Something shifted in her face. I could tell she didn't believe me. "Robert Hamilton Schweck, the foreign currency trader, tried to kill someone you care about?"

When you put it that way, it was hard to believe. These men have such prestige, as if they're above crime. And Alex Krycek has anti-prestige. "He gave the assignment to a man who works for him. I know it's difficult to believe a man like him would do that, but it's the truth."

I don't think she was convinced, but she was ready to move on. "This someone you care about, would that be your lover?"

I nodded reluctantly.

"Is he okay?"

"He's in the hospital. It looks like he's going to live."

"What happened to him?"

"He was shot three times. In the chest and stomach."

"Did the police find the man who shot him?"

"No. And they might suspect that I shot him, but I didn't."

"Do you know who actually shot your lover?"

A curt nod was my only reply.

She paused for a moment, gathering her words. "Do you think this individual would be available to testify at your trial?"

Peterson was being kind. If things hadn't been so grim, I would've laughed. "No."

"Let's move on." She adjusted her glasses on her nose. "What motive would Mr. Schweck have for wanting to kill your lover?"

I was a step ahead of her until she asked that. My mind churned on that for a while.

"Jealousy? Did you have an affair with Mr. Schweck?"

I'm certain I made a face. "No."

"Then you tell me."

I got up and paced the floor. "I'm going to have to be vague here, because if I told you everything and it left this room, someone else would get killed. Most likely me." I sat down again. "I was doing business with Mr. Schweck."

"Illegal business?"

"Yes." There was no way to say this without bringing Mulder into it. "All of this--everything I tell you is confidential?"

"Yes. I could be disbarred for violating your confidentiality."

"My lover, in the course of his work at the FBI, was trying to find evidence that would have adversely affected Mr. Schweck's business."

"And yours?"

"Yes, but I was in the process of leaving the business."

"That must have been complicated... having your lover trying to prosecute your business partner?"

"Oh, yeah." I felt an odd bit of relief at being able to share my insane life with someone. Even if I was omitting the less believable details.

"Does your FBI lover know you're involved in this illegal business?"

"Yes."

"Does he know you killed Mr. Schweck?"

"I don't believe he does, but he's sure to find out before he leaves the hospital."

"Is he still going to be your lover after he finds out, Mr. Krycek?"

"Probably." My answer made me a little embarrassed for Mulder. It made him sound like such an idiot.

She didn't miss anything. "Is your lover going to lose his job if the facts of this case become public?"

That had crossed my mind. Not more than a few dozen times. Peterson really needed to understand this. "That's one reason why I don't want to go to trial. And if we do, I won't allow certain facts to be aired."

"Mr. Krycek, you have been charged with first degree murder. I have every reason to believe the State of Maryland is going to ask for the death penalty."

I'd thought about that, too, but I didn't have any choice. Mulder might survive being outed as a queer, but he'd lose his job in a heartbeat if he was known to be my lover. I knew how much his job meant to him. I couldn't do it. I'd already hurt him too badly and it didn't look like I'd be around to comfort him about losing his job. "I understand."

Her voice took on a note of excited disbelief. "You're telling me that you're willing to go to death row so your lover doesn't have to find another line of work?"

I didn't want to answer. Saying it felt like accepting an engraved invitation to the electric chair. I wasn't feeling brave. I was fucking scared. I wanted to be in his arms again and it was looking like that would never happen.

"Answer the question!" She was getting tough with me.

"I'm not some kind of hero, Ms. Peterson. If we go to trial and I explain why I killed Schweck, I'm going to have to explain what my business dealings with him were, right?"

Peterson nodded.

"You walk out of here and tell the D.A. that's our case and I'll be dead by morning. I have to take my chances."

"If you're involved in something that heavy, maybe we can work a deal with immunity and witness protection?"

"Trust me, no witness protection program is going to be effective if certain parties decide they want me dead. In fact, if you value your own life, be grateful that I'm not talking."

She looked me dead in the eyes. "I'm not sure I believe you, Mr. Krycek. About your loyalty to your lover or about what's at stake."

I shrugged. More details wouldn't make my story more believable and it would get us both killed. There was nothing else to say.

Peterson gave a heavy sigh and continued. "Let's review your options. Normally, murder one means trial or plea bargain. However, with the crime recorded on film, the state doesn't have much incentive to give you a deal. Given your unwillingness to go public with certain aspects of this case, trial may be pointless. As soon as I can arrange it, I will have a conversation with the district attorney and try to get a sense of where that office stands on this. They might be willing to plea bargain for 20 or 30 years. Maybe I can do better. I don't know."

She shifted in her chair. "You need to understand the only thing I've heard today that would inspire a reduced sentence, is your belief that Mr. Schweck tried to have your lover killed. If we don't use that, we've got nothing. I want you to take a few days to think that through clearly. Perhaps you'll have a chance to discuss it with your lover?"

In my gloom, I'd almost forgotten a question I had for her. "Have you seen the tape?"

"Not yet."

"Does it have audio?"

"I don't know."

"Will they release it to the press?"

"I'll try to prevent that."

"Prevent it any way you can. I don't want that tape made public."

"Why?"

"I told Schweck why. It would out my lover."

Peterson nodded and put the pad in her briefcase. The paper was still blank.

"Mr. Krycek, I'll do the very best I can for you."

I nodded. She shook my hand and departed.

I sat in my cell afterward, anxiously trying to come up with a scheme that would get me out of this. I could only think of one that would work. Escape. I could probably pull it off, but I'd have to leave the country. The odds of ever seeing Mulder again were nil.

Of course 30 years in jail wouldn't do much for our relationship either. I'd have to wait and see how this played out.

One thought was floating in my mind and I had to keep shaking it off. One way or another, Mulder and I were already finished.


Chapter 4

** Scully **

Around lunchtime, a police detective interviewed Mulder. He couldn't remember much more than stopping at the market for coffee. I listened nervously. It seemed unlikely that Schweck had pulled the trigger himself and I didn't want anyone to find another body to link to Krycek.

I needn't have worried. The police had essentially no evidence, and the list of people who might want Mulder dead was too long to be useful. Mulder asked to see a list of registered owners of black BMWs, and the detective said he'd drop it by tomorrow. I had to get him off the case, before he solved it.

I went home to take a shower, but I returned to his room later that afternoon.

"Hey, Scully."

"Hi, Mulder." Today was his first day on solid foods. Knowing how he feels about hospital meals, I'd brought him an onion bagel and cream cheese.

"Thanks." Mulder unwrapped it and took a bite. He gave me a worried smile. "You haven't heard from Alex, have you?"

I was hoping for another day before I had to tell him, but I couldn't lie to him. "As a matter of fact, I did hear from Alex." I sat on the bed. "I'm afraid I have some bad news."

"What?"

"Alex is in jail."

His face turned pale and there was no disguising the apprehension in his voice. "What?"

I dropped my voice to a whisper. "He called my cell phone on Thursday night--looking for you. I told him you'd been shot. He asked for details. I told him about the black-haired man and the BMW. I realize now that I shouldn't have told him, but I did. I'm sorry."

Mulder just nodded, his eyes glued to mine.

"When he came to visit you on Friday he told me that--let me try to remember his exact words--'You don't have to look for the men who did this.'" I paused waiting for that to sink in. "Then I got a call yesterday from Skinner. Krycek was arrested for the murder of Robert Hamilton Schweck, a currency trader who lives in Annapolis."

"Where is he?"

"In the Annapolis jail. I called and spoke with him this morning. He's okay. He needed help finding a lawyer, so I had a friend, who works for a judge, refer me to the best criminal attorney she knew. Susan Peterson. I paid a retainer and she went out there this afternoon. I knew you'd want to help."

"Scully, we've got to get him out on bail. They'll kill him."

"I don't think there's any way to get him out, Mulder. They have a videotape of the crime."

He blanched. "They have a video of Alex killing Schweck?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Get me a phone."

"What, Mulder?"

He shouted at me. "Get me a phone!"

I gave him my cell phone. Soon he was talking to Sergeant Quinn. "Sergeant, there's something you need to know about Alex Krycek." He paused impatiently. "There are some very powerful men who'd like to see him killed. You need to keep a man on him at all times. Two would be better." He was biting the corner of his lip. "No, you don't understand, Sergeant. These men may have government credentials." He listened a little longer, and then just hung up.

"God dammit! Scully, do you think we can get Skinner to send someone to Annapolis?"

There was no tactful way to say this. "Mulder, keeping Krycek alive is not one of Skinner's top priorities. In fact, he's already asked to have him transferred to the Bureau for a few days, so we can question him."

"Shit. I don't know which is worse, Annapolis or the Bureau." He knit his brows for a minute, then phoned Skinner.

"I just heard that Krycek's been arrested." Short pause. "That's good. Do you know when they're sending him?" Long pause. "Do you think you could put a 24-hour team in Annapolis until then? I don't want anything to happen to him before we get to talk to him." Short pause. "I know that, sir. But remember what happened to Cardinal." Short pause. "I'd do it myself if I thought Scully would let me out of this bed." Short pause. "It's better than nothing." He closed the phone.

Mulder's obstinacy was rather reassuring. It meant that he was on the mend.

"He's going to ask the field office to put a man there overnight." I could tell he was still worried. "Scully, would you go visit him tonight?"

So I did.

** Krycek **

Scully came Saturday night. They put us in the lawyer/client room, so we could talk privately.

"Thank you for your help, Scully."

She nodded. "Are they treating you okay?"

"I've been detained in worse places."

"Mulder is worried that someone will try to kill you."

"Tell him not to worry about me."

"You know he won't listen." Scully looked at me sadly. "Do you think Susan Peterson is going to be able to help you?"

"She's good." I shrugged. Helping me was a tall order. "I'll pay you back for the retainer."

"No hurry. How does the case look?"

The door burst open and Sergeant Quinn stormed in. "God damn you feds! This was our case and you just couldn't keep out of it, could you?"

Scully stood, her eyes shining with anger at the intrusion. "What are you talking about?"

"As if you didn't know! I just got a call from the D.A. He said that he's been asked to send this case to the Federal Court, so they can prosecute it."

"What difference does it make who prosecutes the case?"

"It makes a lot of difference to us here in 'napolis. It was our own that he killed." He tossed me a sneer. I stayed in my seat and didn't say a word, not wanting to give him an excuse to act out.

Scully's voice was cold. "I didn't have anything to do with this, so you'll have to find someone else to blame."

"It must have been that Mulder fellow then. He was sure belligerent on the phone. You know him?"

She sighed blandly and ignored the question. "Sergeant Quinn, this is a private meeting room. I'd like to continue my interrogation."

He smirked at both of us and slammed the door as he departed.

"Do you know what this means, Scully?"

"No, I don't. But I'm certain Mulder had nothing to do with it."

That narrowed it down to one cigarette-smoking bastard but, like many of his maneuvers, I couldn't figure out where it would lead.

"The only thing I knew was that you're being transferred to the Bureau lock-up on Thursday for questioning on the Bureau cases."

"Questioning by who?"

"It would normally be Mulder and I, but I don't think he'll be out of the hospital by then."

"You do realize that, on the record, some of my answers will be less than candid?"

"Do what you have to, Krycek."

"Tell him. I don't want to have to lie to him, but I will. I just want him to know beforehand."

"I will." She pulled a folded piece of paper out of her blazer pocket. "Mulder sent this."

"A,
I'm feeling better and wish you were here to feed me soup.
My friend and I will do everything we can think of to help.
If you need anything, have your lawyer call me.
M"

Just thinking about him hurt. I was far more afraid of never seeing him again than I was of prison. When I looked up again, Scully passed me a piece of paper and a pen. "For a return message."

I took the paper and wrote.

"M,
I'm sorry I fucked this up.
I didn't mean to do anything that would take me away from you.
My cell is better than the one in Tunguska, but I miss the company.
It would be worth eating a few cockroaches just to see you.
Get well.
A"

I wanted to tell him how much he meant to me, but I was so afraid I'd never see him again. Better he not know. I was about to cry again. I folded the note and passed it to her.

She waited for me to calm down, but I wasn't sure I ever would.

"Go. Please."

Scully put a hand on my good shoulder and squeezed it briefly before she left.

I'd never done anything to deserve this woman's support, but I was grateful for it nonetheless.

The next morning they transferred me to the federal lock-up on Pennsylvania Avenue. They confiscated my arm, as if it was a weapon. I asked them to give it to my attorney, with my leather jacket, so it wouldn't disappear.

I'd been at the federal lock-up twice before to question suspects, but never in a cell. The cell was about the size of a small bathroom, but at least I didn't have to share it with anyone. I paced the damned thing half the night, which was absurd because it was only three paces across, but I just couldn't sit still.

I was still alive. I supposed I should feel grateful. But I had to work through all the possible outcomes in my head. Spender killing me seemed unlikely, but still it was hard to predict the man. I could be certain he already had a contingency plan in case my cached information went public. I didn't think anyone else would try to kill me, but maybe Schweck had friends who didn't know or care about the evidence I'd stashed away to protect Mulder and me.

Russians were always a possibility, but it seemed like things were pretty simpatico at our last encounter. They wouldn't do anything to help me, but I suspected they'd leave me be.

If I remained alive, prison was my next biggest problem. I had one ally I could count on to help me escape. Ming Li. My only friend in the world.

I didn't want to leave the country or Mulder, but it was a far better choice than life in prison. Once I was out, I could get to my apartment--assuming the cops hadn't located it--and get one of my false passports, some cash and my SVR ID. The Russians would be happy to have me, even if I could no longer meddle in American events. I had a few enemies in Moscow, but not nearly as many as I had here. It could work. I still had information I could sell.

But Mulder. Damn. I'd never before let feelings interfere with what I had to do. But it's not like being with him was a choice anymore. Prison or Russia. Fuck.

Mulder. I was a god damned fool for ever letting myself care about him.

Finally exhausted, I curled up on my bed and tried not to think about Mulder's luscious lips.

The next day, a guard came after breakfast and took me to one of the interrogation rooms. I'd interrogated a rapist in this room once. The guard cuffed my wrist to a fat steel d-ring built into the table for just this purpose, and stalked out.

I stared at the coffee stains on the wooden table and hoped to see Mulder, even though I knew he was still in the hospital.

About 15 minutes later, the door opened, but no one came in. Then I saw one wheel and a footrest come around the corner and I knew it had to be him. I fought to conceal my excitement. I think I managed to put up a good sneer.

Mulder's wheelchair eased through the opening. He looked haggard and pale, but he had a weak grin on his face. He rolled right up to me and, before I could stop him, he put his hands in my hair and pulled me into a kiss.

I pushed him away. "Mulder, who's in the gallery?" I whispered desperately.

"Scully." He smirked at me. "And she promised to phone if anyone else joins the party."

I practically leaped into his lap to finish the kiss he'd started. After a few minutes the frenzy dissipated. "I thought I'd never see you again."

He reached into a pocket and pulled out a key ring. He took the cuffs off me, then pocketed them and the key. He held my hand in both of his. "I love you, Alex."

"Don't! Please. I may spend the rest of my life in prison."

"We'll find a way to get you out of here."

I pulled my hand away roughly. "Fine, I'm in favor of that, but just don't count on it. Please."

He started to say something, but his cell phone rang--a pitiful little bleat.

I jerked myself away from him and tried to look hostile.

"Mulder." He nodded. "Okay."

He rolled around so his back was facing the mirrored glass that led to the galley. He winked at me. "You know what comes next, don't you?"

I gave him my best surly look, so he'd know I was ready. "Do what you have to do. I know you have to do it."

Scully came in carrying a box of cassette tapes and a thick file. Giving Mulder a worried glance, she whispered to him as she put the items on the table. "Put the cuffs back on him, Mulder."

He reluctantly locked my wrist to the table again. She loaded the tape recorder, started it and stated the date. "Interrogation of Alex Krycek. Federal lock-up. Agents present, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder." She rattled off badge numbers and half a dozen case IDs she'd written on the front of the file folder.

I no longer knew who was in the gallery, nor could I know who would listen to the tape. I'd be offering them very little truth today. I hoped they had enough good sense to play hardball with me or no one was going to believe this charade.

Mulder maneuvered his wheelchair so that he was slightly behind me and to my left. I could almost feel his heat. Having him in the room was good comfort against my fears of losing him.

Scully began. She situated herself across from me with her back to the two-way mirror. "I understand that you've waived the right to have an attorney present. Is that correct?"

I glared at her and nodded, forcing her to try to make me say it.

"I need you to speak for the tape recorder. You've waived the right to have an attorney present. Is that correct?"

I looked her square in the eye and said, "Fuck off."

Mulder jumped in, almost convincingly. "Krycek, you bastard, answer the god damned question." He leaned toward me trying to look threatening, but with him deathly white in a wheelchair he couldn't pull it off.

I found myself slipping into my old role, although it hadn't felt like a role at the time. "If you're trying to intimidate me, you could have done better than a 90 pound woman and a deathbed refuge."

I could see my venom surprised Mulder. Scully was nonplussed. "Okay, Krycek. I'm going to give you five minutes to think about whether or not you want an attorney. At the end of that time if you haven't asked for one, we're going to assume you don't want one."

She glanced at her watch. She looked at me. We sat in silence for five minutes. Finally, she spoke again. "If you want an attorney, this is your last chance to speak up."

After another minute's pause, she pulled a document out of the file. "We're going to begin with Duane Barry. Did you kill Duane Barry?"

"No." I'd heard people say that lying was a lot of work, but it wasn't. Lying was easy. Even easier when the interrogators expected you to lie.

Scully asked all the questions. Her voice was hard, but she was gentle with me. I gave so little new information, I almost felt bad for her. For them. So, out of the blue, in the middle of the discussion of Scully's abduction, I told them who killed the man Mulder called Deep Throat. The shooter was dead already and not key to anything that would upset anyone enough to come after me.

Otherwise I was belligerent, moody, evasive and dishonest. My normal charming self.

After questioning me further about Duane Barry and the Skyland Mountain tram operator, Scully turned off the tape recorder. "I need a five minute recess. Mulder, do you need anything?"

Mulder shook his head.

I was thirsty, but didn't ask for anything. I was half afraid they'd actually get it for me. I twisted around so I was facing Mulder, and facing away from the two-way mirror. I whispered to him, "Anyone in the gallery?"

He nodded.

"You're going to have to get rough with me."

He nodded weakly.

I lowered the volume even further. "I killed your father, you son of a bitch."

Hurt hazel eyes gazed into mine.

"Hit me!"

Suddenly, he halfheartedly slapped my face and yelped, "Leave me alone, you bastard."

I turned away.

Scully returned with coffee for herself and a Coke for Mulder. She passed him her list of questions. He reluctantly rolled his wheelchair around to face me and turned on the tape recorder.

"Did you participate, in any way, in Agent Scully's abduction from Skyland Mountain?"

"No." I'd been fooling myself. It was hard to lie to him.

"Did you know she was going to be abducted?" His voice was leaden.

"No."

"Who abducted her?"
"I don't know." Alex-the-thug was tempted to suggest that the whole thing was a figment of her imagination, but I wasn't feeling that obnoxious.

"Did you take control of the tram to keep me from getting to the top of the mountain?" His anger was starting to show in his tone.

"No."

"Did you kill the tram operator?" I remembered when he'd asked me that before and a glint of pain in his eyes said he did too.

"No."

"Did you injure the tram operator to get him away from the controls?"

"No."

"What happened to the controls while I was on the tram?" He said it loud. I could feel his tension.

"I don't know."

"Where were you while I was on the tram?"

"I went to the men's room."

"Where is the men's room?"

"I don't remember."

As I spoke something in his face changed. He pushed himself up from the wheelchair into an unsteady stance and screamed at me, "Oh, come on, Krycek! You prevented me from rescuing her. Admit it, you bastard!"

No question he was really angry. Part of me wanted to capitulate because it was Mulder. But the survival part of me was stronger. I sneered at him.

He reached across the table and grabbed my collar. Scully was too surprised to try to stop him. He squeezed the fabric of my rough prison shirt and shook me. "Admit it, you son of a bitch!"

"Get your hands off me." I yanked my body out of his hands and tried not to wince as he fell back into the wheelchair.

I sank into my seat, away from his grasp, as far away from him as the handcuffs would let me go. Krycek-the-thug was pissed at him. Mulder's lover was scared that we'd never get beyond our shared past, assuming I was ever free to see him again. My energy was sucked away, drained by the cost of maintaining these roles. All at once everything seemed so damned impossible. Loneliness took over. I knew I was going to be incarcerated for a long time. Or I'd have to leave the country. I huddled in my seat, hoping they'd just leave me alone for a few minutes.

It was silent for a long while before I heard his voice again. "This interview is pointless. He's not going to tell us anything." His voice revealed a struggle to maintain his anger, but I knew he wasn't mad at me any more. I buried my face in my knees to hide my relief, as I heard him wheel himself out of the room.

I sat up straight and looked at Scully. She just watched me, like she was expecting something.

Maybe she was. About five minutes later the door opened and in walked Walter Skinner. I was more than a little afraid of Skinner, but I knew Mulder would be in the gallery now. And Scully was here with me. Mulder got out because he couldn't stand it anymore.

I reminded myself that I'd been in situations much worse than this.

Skinner sat down across from me and flipped through the list of questions. "Let's start with something easy." His hard eyes met mine. "Who were you working for when you were first assigned to the Cole case?"

"That would be you, Skinner."

"That's bullshit. Were you working for C.G.B. Spender?"

"No, not unless you reported to him." I gave him a smarmy smile.

I swear I could hear his teeth grind as he clenched his jaw. Pissing off the man would be effortless.

"You and your friends beat me up in the stairwell of D.C. General Hospital. With my -"

"No." I held his gaze and put all the machismo I had into mine.

He stood up and loomed over me. "What do you mean, 'no?' You can't deny that one. I was there."

I can deny anything, Mr. Skinner. "I wasn't."

His body twitched with tension. He wanted to hit me so badly. "You stole the DAT tape."

"No."

A muscle in his jaw twitched.

I pulled back as far as I could, but those long arms could still reach me. I knew it would be a win if I could get him to take a swing at me.

"There were three of you in the stairs. You. Luis Cardinal. And a third man. Who was the third man?"

"I wasn't there. I don't know."

Skinner flinched. His right arm jerked forward, but he caught himself. I could see the tension consuming him.

Scully's eyes were glued to Skinner's face. She was ready to intercede if necessary. Her boss continued, "What were you doing in Hong Kong?"

"Eating dim sum."

"Did you and Geraldine Kalenchuk sell information taken from that tape?"

"What tape?"

A low growl came from deep in his chest. "The government tape encoded in Navajo."

"I've never seen it."

"You lying bastard." Skinner braced himself on the table and leaned over so his face was a few inches from mine. He yelled out the question. "Did you. Kill. Mulder's father?"

"No," I yelled back at him and watched him reach the boiling point.

He grabbed me by the throat. "You useless piece of trash. I ought to just beat you to death." I knew he wanted to do it. I could see it in his cold brown eyes. Had we been alone, without any possibility of being caught, maybe he'd have done it.

His hands loosened on my neck, enough for me to breathe. I was shaking a little, but I tried to hold my voice steady. "You won't do it. And we both know it."

By now Scully had her hand on his shoulder. She nudged him off of me. He let go, but kicked a chair. Hard enough to send it flying. He picked it up and slammed it on the table in front of me. As the wooden chair shattered, I felt a piece of it imbed itself like a knife in my cuffed hand. The wood was sharp enough to slide in so smoothly that it didn't even hurt.

Savoring my victory, I lowered my voice. "There's nothing you can do to me to make me talk without jeopardizing your career. You think it will be worth it?"

Something flared in his eyes. He turned off the tape recorder and for a moment I thought I'd misjudged him. Skinner swept the remains of the chair onto the floor. He yanked the wooden stake out of my hand and waved the bloody end in my face. "You're going to prison, boy." His baritone came out smooth and slow. "Even without giving up what you know. And if you live long enough to get out of jail, if you come anywhere near me, or Scully, or Mulder, or any of our families, you're a dead man." He jammed the wooden stake right back into my hand and walked out.


Chapter 5

** Krycek **

It definitely hurt the second time.

Scully escorted Skinner out and shut the door behind them.

I had to bend over the table to get the damn spike out of the web of my hand using my teeth. I spat it onto the ground. I kicked the table and cursed in Russian. I was mad, really mad. In my mind I beat the shit out of that balding bastard. For a few moments it was satisfying to imagine hurting him. After a while, I realized that, even with two arms, I was unlikely to win that fight. I cursed the peasants of Tunguska in their own language until my rage fizzled and I retreated into my despair.

Scully came back about ten minutes later with a first aid kit.

She sat down next to me. "You certainly know how to piss him off."

"'S'okay," I replied sullenly.

She left my hand cuffed, but examined it carefully. It seemed odd that she held it so gently. "Does it hurt?"

"Not really."

"You deliberately made him angry. Why?"

"I wanted to win."

Scully stared at me like I was a pathetic fool. She shook her head. "He shouldn't have done this, but you realize that he's just trying to protect us."

"Papa bear protecting his cubs?" I replied in a smart-ass tone.

She snapped at me, "I can hardly blame him. Every time you turn up one of us gets hurt."

I didn't want to admit it, but she was right. I had a real knack for bringing chaos into the lives of people around me. Mulder had been victim to my grim reaper many times. I tried to think of anyone whose life had been enhanced by my presence. Not a one came to mind. Looking at my terminated left arm, I couldn't even count myself on that list. If I had to be a fuck up, at least I excelled at it.

Scully found tweezers and removed a few minor splinters. Then she put a towel under my hand and poured on a large amount of--fuck, that hurt--antiseptic of some kind. Scully worked quickly and soon was blotting the excess fluid from my skin. She carefully sewed the cuts closed with a dozen stitches. She spread ointment over the stitches and bandaged the wound. "Keep it clean, if you can."

I nodded.

She left.

I sat there missing Mulder and trying not to think about how I was going to piss and eat with no good hands.

Ten minutes later, Mulder's wheelchair came through the door. "Scully's in the gallery again." He rolled over to me and put his arms around me. "You okay?"

I kissed him my answer. His mouth was so fucking sweet. I wanted to escape the wreckage of my life by crawling inside him. He kissed me for a long time, and then pulled himself away. "I'm going to talk to your attorney."

"Don't, Mulder. It's risky for you."

"I'll think up some excuse. I need to be sure she's doing everything she can."

I knew I couldn't stop him.

He pushed a stray strand of hair out of his eye. "I'm going to do everything I can to get you free."

"There's not much hope. They've got fucking video. Plus I'll have to face whatever charges the Bureau comes up with."

"There won't be any other charges. We don't have any evidence."

I stopped trying to conceal the frustration. "C'mon, Mulder. Skinner can testify that I beat him up."

"I'll think of something to try to prevent him from filing charges." He put his hands on my shoulders. "I don't know how, but the Bureau won't file any new charges."

I'd never heard his voice like that. Desperate. "Don't compromise yourself, Mulder. It won't do much good anyway. You can't make the video evidence go away."

"Schweck was in the Consortium, right?"

I nodded.

"You killed him because he had someone try to kill me, right?"

"Yes, but I can't prove it. Even if I could-"

He shook me a little to shut me up. "I'm going to do everything I can." His voice was final.

"Just promise me one thing?"

"What?"

"You won't out yourself or do anything else that will hurt you."

He gave me a guilty look and kissed me again.

"Mul-der."

"I have to go." He began wheeling himself away. "I love you, Alex."

I met his eyes and tried to let him see what I felt. I don't know what he saw in my face--fear, love, loss. I tried not to panic as he exited. I had to believe I'd see him again. It became harder to hold onto that dream after they took me back to my cell.

The next afternoon, I was escorted to a private attorney-client room. Peterson was waiting for me. She looked me over carefully as I sat down. She scolded me with a glance. "I understand you were interrogated yesterday. Why didn't you call me?"

"It was messy. I wanted to keep you out of it."

She responded with a grimace.

"We never even discussed Schweck."

She didn't look happy, but she accepted what I said and moved on. "Someone named Fox Mulder called me. Is he your lover?"

I met her gaze, but I wasn't going to answer.

"He wants to meet with me. Do you want me to meet with him?"

"Okay. Whatever he says, just keep it confidential."

"I can listen to him, but if he asks me about the case, I can't tell him anything."

"You can tell him anything you want to."

"You trust him with your life?"

"Yes. I do."

"All right. I'll talk to him." Peterson adjusted the cuff of her suit coat. "I met with the Federal judge, Judge Hernandez, about the tape. He's agreed to embargo it so it can't be shown outside of trial."

"Have you seen it?"

"Yes," she replied but there was something in her voice. She didn't like what she saw.

"You have a problem defending me?"

She gritted her teeth before she replied. "No. I don't like what you did, but I can still defend you."

"Does the tape have audio?"

"No. I watched the tape maybe a dozen times before I could guess what you said. And I was looking for it. I don't think the tape will out him."

"Thank you."

"The federal prosecutor and I also discussed bail with the judge. He won't consider it. If you want, you can request a bail hearing, but with the FBI talking about additional charges being filed, I think it would be a waste of money."

I didn't expect it. "I understand."

"The prosecutor is taking a hard line, but I might be able to convince her to go for a plea bargain of second degree murder, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years."

She waited for me to react. I was, of course, calculating my age at the end of that and not liking the answer.

"She and I are meeting again on Thursday. She'll probably make her first real offer at that time."

I nodded.

"I need to clarify this with you. If I can get a decent offer from her, you'll plead guilty to second degree murder?"

"Yes." I said it softly, so it would seem less real, but it didn't help much.

"It's my responsibility to explain what that would mean. If you plead guilty, it's the same as being convicted. When you get out of jail, you'll be a convicted felon. It won't be easy to find a job or even leave the country. You may find yourself getting singled out by the police for line-ups or getting hauled to the police station after being pulled over for speeding. Do you-"

I cut her off. "Do I have a better choice? Can I go to trial and say I've never been to Annapolis? Dye my hair, grow a beard and hope they won't know it's me on the tape? What?"

"They were very thorough at the scene. They have hairs, fibers, footprints. If we go to trial, they're going to work very hard to link that to you. Once they have just one piece of evidence besides that tape, you're going down. Probably for life."

"Work the deal."

"Okay." She packed her briefcase, but didn't stand. "You want to tell me what happened to your hand?"

"An angry G-man tried to put a chair through it."

"Your lover?"

"No."

"Do you want to press charges?"

"No."

"Will you let me have someone take a picture in case you change your mind later?"

"Whatever." My mind was on my age plus 20 years. I didn't care.

She left me and came back with a nurse and a camera. They took half a dozen shots of my hand. A nurse checked my stitches, applied more ointment and left. Peterson put her hand on my shoulder. "I'll do the best I can for you. I won't agree to anything until you've had time to consider it."

I nodded and she left.

** Mulder **

Peterson returned my call and agreed to see me. I took the earliest appointment she had and Scully drove me there. Scully insisted that I use the wheelchair, but I insisted that I not, so she insisted on walking me all the way into the lawyer's office. She meant it, too. She took my arm, walked me in to meet Peterson and waited for me to sit before she returned to the waiting room. And she thinks I'm stubborn.

The elegant, heavyset woman took her chair. "Mr. Mulder, what can I do for you?"

"I know you can't talk to me about the case, but there are a few things I want you to know."

She nodded.

With Scully's help, I'd prepared carefully for this meeting. "You may already know some of what I'm about to tell you, but I'm not going to take that chance."

"Are you wearing a wire, Mr. Mulder?"

That hadn't occurred to me. "No. Would you like to verify that for yourself?" It seemed odd that she'd worry about surreptitious taping when I was going to do most of the talking. My curiosity was piqued.

"Yes, I would." She rose and walked to me.

I stood silently while she thoroughly patted down my clothing and checked the pockets of my coat.

"May I see your driver's license and your Bureau I.D.?"

I showed her both. Anything to help Alex.

After carefully scrutinizing the documents, and jotting down my license and badge numbers, she sat down behind her giant oak desk. "Please go on, Mr. Mulder."

"Alex Krycek is my lover." I wasn't embarrassed to say that. In fact, it felt good. "Last week I was shot and left for dead in an alley. I've been in the hospital until earlier this week, with an armed guard posted outside my room. Alex believes Schweck ordered the attack on me and that he would have tried again."

Peterson just listened.

"Alex isn't the most moral man. But he killed Schweck to prevent the man from killing me. I believe that and I need you to believe that. And if that tape is what I hear it is, this is Alex's only defense."

Peterson looked at me for a long time before she spoke. "I frisked you because Alex gave me permission to talk to you and I was concerned you'd betray him."

"Thank you."

"Sarcasm, Mr. Mulder?"

"No. I'm grateful that you're protecting Alex."

She nodded. "Mr. Krycek won't let me use what you've just told me as part of his defense."

"Because it would mean outing me?"

"As the lover of a killer..."

"Unless you do that, he's going to jail for a long time."

"I agree. Perhaps you could get him to change his mind?"

I sighed grimly. I had a bad feeling about this. "I'll try, but it's difficult for me to talk to him privately."

"I understand." Something in the tone of this assertive woman's voice made me trust her.

"I'm not optimistic that I'll be able to persuade him. Is there something we can do if I fail?"

"I cannot act against his wishes."

"But I can."

"You can, but I caution you to be careful. You could easily destroy your career and accomplish nothing for Alex."

"What would you recommend?"

"I cannot make a recommendation that goes against my client's wishes. Try to convince him first. If that fails... you're on your own." Peterson opened a leather calendar book. "For your information, I'm meeting with the federal prosecutor, Grace Williams, Thursday at ten."

She'd just given me what I needed.

"Mr. Mulder, may I ask you some questions about your relationship with Mr. Krycek?"

"You may."

"Were all his criminal activities committed with such noble motives?"

"Probably not. It is ironic that this particular crime threatens to send him to prison."

"How long have you been seeing him?"

"I've known him about five years, but I've only been seeing him for the past six months."

I watched her make a mental note. "It doesn't seem like enough to risk your career over."

"It's...he means a lot to me. More than I've ever had."

"Did you know he was a criminal before you began seeing him?"

"Yes."

She looked a little sad. Sad for me? For Alex?

"Ms. Peterson, I want you to call me if there's any way I can help with his defense. I'll do whatever it takes."

She raised an eyebrow. "Whatever it takes, Mr. Mulder?"

I knew what she was asking, but I ignored it and gave her a nod.

"I'll do whatever I can to help him as well."

"Thank you for seeing me."

"Thank you."

I walked out of her office with trepidation. He needed more help than I could give. I knew I had to get in to see him again. Somehow.

I asked Scully to take me to the lock-up. I told them we were going to make another attempt at our interrogation, but that maybe he'd feel more comfortable in a private room. He used to be an agent after all. A guard showed us to one of the attorney rooms.

Scully spoke while we waited. "Mulder, I should leave you two alone."

"Please don't. It's more believable this way."

She relented. The half grimace on her face revealed her discomfort.

They brought him in after about fifteen minutes. He looked around suspiciously before he let me pull him into an embrace. I squeezed him as hard as I could, still feeling pain from my wounds.

I'd always enjoyed the feeling of his body pressed against mine, but now we were endangered. It was difficult to get past the irrational feeling that if I held him tightly enough, no one would ever take him away.

Scully looked away, trying to give us privacy.

"I spoke to Ms. Peterson today."

"Yeah?"

"She seems good. I like her."

Alex nodded.

I led him to the chairs and we sat side-by-side. "She agreed that your only decent defense is motive."

He looked away. "We're not going there, Mulder."

"I want you out of here, dammit."

"You'll lose your job. Plus I'll have to answer questions that will get us both killed. I've already hurt you enough." His frown was punctuated by that crease at the bridge of his nose, which I would have found endearing under any other circumstance.

"Fuck you! You think having you in prison will be painless for me? I can hardly fucking wait."

"I'm sorry."

"There's no choice that doesn't hurt me, Alex."

"I never wanted to hurt you."

"Fine, so tell Peterson to use motive."

"No."

"Dammit! You want to go to prison?"

"I'm going to prison anyway. They're not going to just say, 'He was protecting his boyfriend, so, oh, never mind.' At least this way, you'll still have your job. I'm just trying to be realistic."

"Realistic? Do you have any idea what it's going to be like in prison for a beautiful, one armed man? Not that it's a picnic for anyone, but dammit, Alex, I can't stand to think about what they're going to do to you in there."

He shrugged.

"Damn you! Would you listen to me?" I stroked Alex's hair and pulled him to my chest. "You're so fucking important to me." I started to cry. It took a minute to get control of myself again. "Please, call Peterson and tell her to use motive."

His face was impassive. "No. I'm sorry. I won't."

Stubborn bastard! "Fine!" I kissed him on the forehead and walked out, slamming the door behind me.

I stomped off all the way to the building lobby before I realized that Scully had the car keys. Out of breath far too easily, I found a dusty chair and sat, pulling out my cell phone. I left an urgent message for the federal prosecutor, Grace Williams, leaving my cell phone number.

Scully dropped me off at my apartment. I exchanged my suit for sweats and curled up on the couch, working out in my head how to approach Williams. The cell phone chirped.

"Mulder."

"This is Grace Williams. I'm returning your call." Her voice was high, almost squeaky, but the tone was serious.

"I need to talk to you about Alex Krycek."

"Yes."

"I have important information about the case that you're not going to hear unless I tell you."

"You're FBI, right?"

How could she know that? "Yes."

"I'll be at the Superior Court first thing tomorrow morning. Can you meet me outside the judges' chambers?"

"When?"

"8:30. Judge Raoul Hernandez."

"I'll be there."

She hung up.

Something in the conversation raised a red flag. She already knew who I was and seemed to want to talk to me. Very suspicious. I'd been prepared to convince her. It left me feeling off balance.

I dialed Peterson and left a voice message. "Hi, this is Fox Mulder. I'm meeting with Williams tomorrow at 8:30. I thought you should know."

** Krycek **

Peterson phoned for me around 9 P.M. They took me to a special private phone.

"Alex Krycek."

"Mr. Krycek, this is Susan Peterson." Her voice was confident and serious, but there was a hint of warmth. "You know I'm meeting with the federal prosecutor tomorrow morning."

"Yes."

"This is your last chance to speak up about your motive."

"I haven't changed my mind."

"I think you're looking at twenty years, Mr. Krycek."

"I'll do the time." Or escape, I thought silently. Life was fucked either way.

"If you change your mind, I need to hear from you before 9:00 tomorrow morning."

"I won't change my mind."

She didn't sound surprised. "Okay. I'll call you as soon as I learn anything."

"Thank you."

I was escorted back to my cell. I lay back on my lumpy mattress and tried not to think. I finally decided to ignore the lack of privacy and pulled out my dick. Not that I was especially hard, but I needed the comfort. I jacked off awkwardly, with my bandaged hand, trying to imagine that it was Fox's mouth on me.

Later, I woke up uneasy, but I couldn't identify a reason beyond the obvious fact that my life was wrecked. I sat up and leaned against the wall thinking about tomorrow and trying to convince myself that I was being an idiot. It was just one man's career up against a lot of years in prison. Shaving even a few years off of twenty was a good thing. It would be nice to get out in my 40's instead of my 50's, but 20-30 years seemed like forever.

The bottom line was I couldn't hurt Mulder again. I'd already done so much damage to his life. I couldn't do more. I'd heard what Mulder told me. I knew he wanted me with him, not incarcerated, but I expected that to change after I went to prison. I had no delusions that he'd wait for me. I just couldn't visualize him visiting me for endless years and then meeting me at the gates and taking me home as his middle-aged boyfriend. 'I'm so glad you're out, my darling ex-con.'

Any way I could imagine it, Mulder and I were finished. I'd destroyed what we had when I let Schweck's fucking cameras take my picture. I couldn't take Mulder's work, too. That meant everything to him. I couldn't live with myself if I cost him that. Besides, with my luck, I'd tell the federal prosecutor and still get twenty years.

I wanted out so badly. I tried frantically to work out another way. Who could I blackmail with enough influence to get me out? I couldn't think of anyone who wouldn't kill me or Mulder if I tried. And sadistic Spender knew enough to kill Mulder first to maximize my agony. Even if I tried to trade information for my release, Mulder might be the only one who'd believe me. I struggled to identify some mid-level consortium goon to barter for my freedom, but none of them would be useful enough to turn in.

Scrounging for a solution, I even considered suicide, but it's just not in my blood. I'm a survivor. I do whatever it takes. Suicide just doesn't compute. Ultimately I dismissed it as just one more way I could hurt Mulder.

I gave up on attempting to think myself to freedom and decided to try to sleep again. I slumped back onto my bed, when a shadow on the wall caught my eye. I leaped out of bed, eyes searching my empty cell frantically, before I finally calmed down enough to approach it. I knelt on the bed by my pillow and pulled it off the wall.

A Morley package, empty, taped on the wall over where my head had been. My spine felt like it was iced from the inside.

No fucking way I could have slept through that! But it appeared that I had. I couldn't believe it. I always wake up if there's any sound around me while I sleep. Shit! I was getting damned soft.

I noticed there was a note inside. Printed neatly it read, "I can get to you. I can get to him."

I wadded it up and tossed it through the bars to get it out of my room. My body started to shake. I curled up and hugged myself with my one arm, wishing I had two.

**
END Chapter 5

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