Taken, Part 3: Insight
One Hour Later
Wednesday, 10 August 1994
Mulder fidgeted around at his desk waiting for the delivery from the lab. There were other things he should be doing, but nothing he felt he could do. All his focus was on what was to come. He'd started the wait by pacing around his desk, but it seemed to annoy the two other agents working in the area. So he settled for drumming his fingers on a case file he should have been looking at.
He wasn't sure why he needed to see the pictures so badly. Maybe to get some insight into Alex Krycek? Maybe the vain hope that they would somehow explain this fiasco? Perhaps give him some insight into why he felt so damned hopeless and despondent.
Mulder wrestled with his conflicting feelings, There was another Alex Krycek out there--beyond the over-eager junior agent he knew. Mulder was dying to get a glimpse into that man--into his world.
He knew he should call Scully and let her know what was going on. Tell her about Jaden MacKay. But he decided not to. He'd tell her everything later. After.
Mulder was so wrapped up in his ruminations he gave a start of surprise when the lab tech finally showed with a stack of stuff. The stack was much larger than Mulder had expected. A thick folder on top of a large black book on top of a flat box. He looked to the tech for explanation and was told Skinner wanted him to review the photos of Krycek's apartment. To see if anything jumped out.
Nodding an acknowledgement and desperately wanting privacy, Mulder waved the lab tech away.
He gnawed on his lip while grabbing the large folder sitting on top of the heap. He'd look at the FBI photographs first.
Mulder spread the photos out on his desk. He was finally about to get his first real look into Alex Krycek's life.
There was nothing remarkable about the apartment itself. It was an average, modern two-bedroom unit with white walls. There was nothing particularly telling about it, or its furnishings, which were functional and fairly unimaginative. Most of the photos showed all the closets and drawers open, carelessly exposing Krycek's life to the view of the forensic team. Mulder felt a brief twinge of discomfort at the invasion of Krycek's privacy, but quickly pushed it aside as he closely studied the pictures.
What was distinctive was the sheer amount of gear related to sporting activities. Closets were stuffed full of snow gear, dive gear, surf boards, climbing equipment. It went on and on. Some items required close inspection to figure out what they were. There were single items like an inflatable boat, and paired items like surfboards and snowboards. Mulder was fairly certain the two black, pack-like objects in the corner of the dining room were actually parachutes.
He pulled out more detailed photos of some of the gear and noted the first discrepancy in the investigator's report. There was evidence out in the open of Jaden's status in Alex's life. Side-by-side he laid down the photos of the two surfboards, the snowboards and the two kayaks leaning against a wall in the office. The color theme made them jump out. In each set, one was a solid green, the other was swirls of blue, like water. The colors were the exact shade of each man's eyes. Stenciled in black on each was a letter. The three green objects had the letter 'A.' The three blue objects had the letter 'J.' The surfboards were fairly new-looking, but the snowboards and kayaks had signs of heavy use.
All of the gear was obviously meticulously cared for and stored, yet the sheer scale of it dominated the apartment. With one exception. A pile of what appeared to be climbing gear was next to the couch. It must have been used for the spelunking during the weekend in West Virginia. Another mark in favor of Jaden having told the truth. That it was left in disarray, considering how neat the rest was, seemed a testament to the stress Krycek had been under.
Mulder made notes of several questions; why hadn't Jaden taken care of the gear during his time waiting for Alex? How did Krycek afford all the gear and the trips to use said gear?
Alex Krycek was clearly an extreme sports nut. Or was that Jaden's influence? The diagnosis 'high adventure personality' drifted through Mulder's brain and he made a note. If it were accurate, Krycek would function well under stress. In fact, he probably sought stressful situations.
Mulder set aside the pictures of sporting gear and moved on to pictures of the bedroom. This was clearly an important room to Krycek as it was the only room with any attention to décor. The king-size bed dominated the room. Black sheets and bedding jumped out as a distinctive choice considering how bland the rest of the apartment was. The heavy iron headboard and footboard showed some distinctive wear marks at certain points. Mulder realized they were likely where restraints were attached. He found himself wondering who got tied up, but decided not to make a note of that question.
Unbidden, the image flashed in his mind of Alex's naked body against those black sheets. His pale skin gleaming with sweat, handcuffs encasing strong wrists, body writhing at some sexual torment. He shoved the thought away. It was not relevant. Besides, he was fairly certain the cuffs went on Jaden, not the other way around. Not that that image didn't have a certain appeal. No! He took several deep breaths and made himself focus on the case.
Mulder's brows climbed in surprise at the actual presence of a huge mirror on the ceiling, not to mention both walls by the bed. Who liked to watch? Krycek or his boyfriend? Mulder did make a note of that. There was a huge black chest at the foot of the bed. Detail pictures revealed it to be full of sex toys and related paraphernalia. Mulder felt a flutter in his stomach but quickly pushed any thoughts about it away, he wasn't going to let his mind wander down any more unnecessary paths. He set those particular photos aside, clipped together with a recommendation that they be excluded from the official case file. They weren't relevant.
Pictures of the bedroom closet easily revealed which clothes belonged to Jaden. Aside from detail photos showing them being notably smaller, they were more colorful and trendy. Aside from several nearly-identical suits, Krycek's clothes seemed to mostly be jeans and monochromatic shirts.
Mulder made notes about the bedroom being the focal point of the house, and that clearly sex was significant to Krycek. Based on the information provided by Jaden during the interview, he only spent two nights a week at Krycek's place. Was there anything to support the possibility that Krycek had other lovers? In an average week, Krycek also spent two nights a week in Baltimore with Jaden. That left three nights for other possible guests.
Something was tickling at Mulder's subconscious and he went looking for one of the living room photos. He made another note for the team. The large oil painting in the living room was likely to belong to, or have been purchased by Jaden MacKay. It was, he supposed, possible that the painting could have come from another source. At any rate, he'd be willing to bet it wasn't Krycek who purchased it.
Mulder looked closely at the painting again. The colors were all Jaden, and Mulder was nearly certain he was the source. Abstract whorls of blue, purple, pink, red and white with strong black block outs. The apartment led him to the conclusion that Jaden MacKay was the color in Alex Krycek's life. Mulder realized he was obsessing on an irrelevant piece of information and mentally shook himself. He admitted that he hadn't wanted to find evidence of Jaden in Krycek's life. But he didn't want to examine that thought any further.
Feeling a sense of frustration, he set aside the FBI pictures of the apartment and reached for the heavy black photo album. The first thing he found inside were two envelopes from a local photo lab. Probably the most recent ones taken in West Virginia. He set them aside and focused his attention on the large black pages, making notes of his first impressions. It was clear that a lot of care had gone into creating the album. Each page was laid out separately, photo corners carefully placed and varying in number depending upon the subject matter. Unfortunately, the photos themselves had been haphazardly stuck into their places. Mulder assumed it was the result of the lab's examination.
He concentrated on the individual photos instead of overall impression, but the very first picture made his breath catch in his throat. The page contained nothing but an enlarged single photo of Jaden and Alex. Underneath it said, 'Alex & Jade. Our Second Date,' in some kind of silver calligraphy. If Mulder had to guess, he'd assume the picture was taken at some kind of nightclub, its subjects sitting on a white couch framed in neon. What took his breath away was Alex. He was gorgeous. Eyes bright, hair disheveled, lips wet and swollen. He was shirtless in jeans, with Jade--wearing black leather pants and a tight red shirt--half draped over his lap. Their arms were around each other and they looked so fucking happy.
Biting his lip again, Mulder hesitated and reluctantly turned the page, but relaxed when he saw that the next section contained older photos. They all were clearly of Alex. Those bottomless green eyes were too distinctive to be anyone else. They ranged from baby pictures to high school graduation. The progression of Alex Krycek's life. There was one particular photo that caught Mulder's attention. It was of a young Alex, maybe four, holding a tiger cub. A man--presumably his father--knelt near the edge of the frame, smiling at his son. Mulder had a sudden, irresistible desire to keep the photo.
A few of the childhood pictures featured a redheaded girl, maybe four years older than Alex. Presumably the sister; Linda Krycek. Their body language indicated they had a good relationship. Mulder found that he was getting lost in the pictures and had to remind himself to take notes of the relevant data, to keep behaving like an investigator. Reminding himself that he was just an investigator helped make him feel less like a voyeur peeking into a part of his partner's life he had no right to know about.
There were photos of Alex's parents, too. Both had dark hair and green eyes, but Krycek's father's were more hazel, which he had passed on to his daughter. Alex's mother's eyes were the same clear, deep green as her son's.
Strangely, there was nothing from high school graduation to college graduation. Mulder made a note of the sudden gap in the photos. Mulder wished he had access to Krycek's bureau file, but since he wasn't officially attached to the case, he had almost no chance of seeing it. He tried to put together a timeline. He figured Krycek was about 25 now. According to the graduation picture, he graduated Carnegie Mellon, class of 1990. Jaden said they'd known each other for three years, so they met in 1991. He seemed to recall Alex saying he graduated from the Academy in 1993, so what had Alex been doing between 1990 and 1993?
The next turn of the page brought Mulder's tension sweeping back. Jaden was back in the photographs. The majority of them focused on places Krycek and Jaden had been together. Climbing, river rafting, snowboarding, kayaking, and even one of them jumping out of an airplane. Mulder felt a bit of satisfaction that he'd correctly guessed at the packs in the dining room.
There were captions under many of the pictures indicating where they'd been. Denali, Mount Baker, Vale, Baja, and it went on and on. A particularly striking one showed Krycek hanging by one hand from the edge of a steep rock surface, every muscle taut and glistening in the sun.
These 'adventure' photos depicted a man who was strikingly different than the Alex Krycek he knew. The man grinning into the camera from a swing suspended from a rock overhang, was relaxed and happy and clearly, Mulder admitted to himself grudgingly, in love.
He could track the progression of Alex's and Jaden's relationship by their increasingly more intimate body language. Photos from early in their relationship showed clear sexual intimacy, but, as time passed, it was the intimacy of two people truly at ease with one another. The kind of connection you only see between two people genuinely in love.
A few of the photos featured a woman with the two of them. Red hair, hazel-green eyes, and she was always wearing red lipstick. Mulder insanely--and irrelevantly--wondered if she was presently out in the bush filming giraffes with red lipstick on. She looked enough like Alex that it was impossible to mistake them for anything but siblings. Linda Krycek hugging Jaden MacKay, sitting between her brother and his lover at a club, standing together on the street. But no pictures featured Beth Krycek and Jaden MacKay together. Mulder reluctantly made another note that Jaden's story was panning out. He didn't want to think too much about his reluctance. He just knew that he hadn't wanted Jaden to be important to Alex.
Mulder forced his mind back to the profile. Even though some of the photos had dates, none of them showed what Krycek had been doing for nearly three years. Other than having fun with his lover. Mulder made a series of notes for his report.
The last few pages were blank. Mulder reached for the envelopes from the photo lab. A quick glance revealed that both of them contained photos from the spelunking trip to West Virginia. Suddenly, it hit Mulder that these photos had been taken a little more than a week before Alex's abduction. One week before he'd tried to tell Mulder something. Something Mulder may never get the chance to hear. Mulder looked down at the stack of photos in his hand. They may very well have been the last photos that would ever be taken of Alex Krycek. The thought made him feel sick.
Despite his earlier anticipation, he now had to force himself to go on. He flipped through them, trying for professional detachment. One of the last photos in the package made Mulder hesitate. It was a photo of Alex by himself, sitting at the edge of a cliff. He had streaks of dirt on his arms and face, his hair blowing in the breeze, smiling tenderly at the photographer. Mulder flipped the picture upside down on the desk so he didn't have to look at it anymore.
Hastily, Mulder stuffed the photos back into their envelopes, then confronted the last thing on his desk. A flat cardboard box. Inside he found a large black lacquered frame with random, brightly colored accents. The photo was an enlargement of one he'd just seen from the trip to West Virginia. It was of Jaden and Alex together outdoors. Neither was dirty, so Mulder surmised it was before exploring the caves. Their arms were around each other, but instead of looking into the camera, they were looking at each other. Mulder felt unaccountably depressed.
Without thinking too much about what he was doing, he shoved everything but the album into one of his desk drawers and locked it up. Grabbing the album, he left the building.
End Part 3