Erinyes
By Ursula

 

And now, he looks at me as if it's all my fault. He's bleeding. I can already see my mark on him; one eye's going to be black and there's a red outline of my fist on his cheek. Despite the sneer that he bestowed on me, I can see the tears in his eyes. Christ, what's he been doing to himself? He has dark circles under his eyes and his hands are shaking. He's very thin and his eyes are wild with fear. He's holding a key out to me, his body as far from mine as he can get. He can't get away from me, trapped in this phone kiosk. I can't believe no one came to see what the fuss was. Maybe, they think that it's a lover quarrel.

For a few minutes, I really thought I would kill him. It wasn't my sanity that saved me even though this is Hong Kong where capital punishment is swift and frequent for such crimes. I don't think being a law enforcement officer would protect me either. I guess what really stopped me was the way it felt to me. It wasn't justice or retribution that I felt. No, I found in myself a horrible sick pleasure in driving my fist into flesh, the flesh that I had caressed, kissed, and held. I wanted to feel the pain in his body; the body that had thrilled me no matter how many times he gave it to me. As I struggled with him, I was aware that I was hard against him as he was against me. This stopped me.

Krycek was ripe, his leather jacket with it's chains and pockets held his odor. His black jeans and the long sleeved sweatshirt he wore were dusty and rank. It should have repulsed me but really, I wanted to continue to press into him and to open my nostrils widely, sniffing at him like he was a bitch in heat. He looked beautiful, even like this or especially like this. The stubble was rough on his cheeks and his eyelashes were spiked together into points with tears. His nose was bleeding. My eyes followed the trickle as it sped toward his mouth. I wanted to taste it. I really wanted to do that as if I was sick as the men I used to profile in simpler days.

Instead, I said, "Why don't you go to the bathroom and clean yourself off? If you're not out of there in three minutes, I'm coming in there to kill you." Listening to myself, I think that I truly have gone mad. He sneers at me, but his walk is shambling and he nearly stumbles. When we reach the men's rest room, I shove him in one instant and grab him in the next. His jacket slides off his shoulder and, in a flash, I want to keep tearing at his clothing. I want to press him down on the floor, right there, in this busy airport and rape him.

Letting go, I checked the restroom, confirming that there is no exit. I realize that I have left him unguarded and unfettered, standing far enough away so he should have ran. Instead, he has wiped his face and is staring at the blood on his hand. I motioned for him to enter and he wakes from his trance and walks by me. A moment later, I realize that I haven't searched him, not really. I rush in behind him and, noticing a "closed for cleaning sign" on a stand, I place that in the hall. I threw him hard against the wall, my cock leaping at the sight of his ass in those tight black jeans. I search him, professionally at first, but then, with increasing intimacy, my breaths becoming greedy pants as my hands grab at his flesh. I lock the door for good measure. He remains slumped against the wall as if half fainting.

There is lube, lots of tiny packets in his pockets and condoms, many condoms. He hardly has any money just the ticket and a few dollars plus some local currency. I pulled the jacket off and let it drop to the floor. Next, I reached around and felt for a button. There was none; he had lost it somewhere. He was always doing that when... I can't think about that. I can't think of what I believed when it was all lies. I pulled his zipper down and followed with his jeans. He was bare to me and, though the rest of him was thin, his ass was as fine as ever, round and firm, an offering I intended to take for my own again.

When I reached in to lubricate him, he was already greased and he seemed stretched as well. What the hell had he been doing? I said, "You've been whoring, haven't you, Krycek? Is that how you bought your ticket?"

Alex cringed and replied, "I'm sorry, Mulder."

His reply was so natural. He was sorry for that when he never asked for forgiveness or even admitted to anything else that he had done. A mad laugh escaped from me and in a fit of derision, I pressed a fifty dollar bill into his hand where it braced, white knuckled against the wall. I commented, "The going rate might be higher, but you're not exactly prime material right now."

Krycek said nothing, but he let the money drop to the floor. I took him like that, him leaning against the wall, myself, slamming into him, my violence fighting with the wildly erotic feeling this gave me. His grunts intermingled with sob-like noises and that aroused me further until it was mere moments before I came. He huddled against the wall still as I washed myself after disposing of the condom. I ordered, "Clean your self off" and he went into a stall, hiding his actions from me. I looked in the mirror and straightened my hair, smoothing back into the ill-fitting skin of Agent Mulder, who had once been a man who care deeply, loved unwisely, and believed that we deserve judgment only in a court of law. I walked outside and wiped at my forehead, feeling the impact of that head butt against my opponent.

Standing there, horrified at myself, caught in the grip of emotions that I thought I had suppressed, Krycek might have marched past me, juggling a dozen copies of the disc and I would not have noticed. When he came out, his movements were strange to me. The stumbling awkwardness had vanished and his face that had looked so wearied, so mad with fear had smoothed to a mask. Even his eyes were alien to me, they seemed dark, and none of the green and blue hues were left. Sarcastically, I asked, "Feel better?"

Krycek replied, "Like a new man..." and his voice was calm as if the fight had never happened nor the sordid rape in the room.

All that long flight across the ocean, he sat quietly and stared out into the darkness. He didn't ask for anything nor did he nap. The few times when the flight attendant asked something, he shook his head no and dismissively turned away.

Once or twice, I found myself staring at him, trying to understand what had taken place. I even convinced myself that he was in shock, that my assault and rape has been such a psychological blow that he had retreated into a fugue state. Wanting to test this, I asked, "Krycek, are you okay?"

There was a feeling for a moment of a struggle. I saw the mask slip and something frantic stared out, reminding me of that nightmare I had in our one brief vacation to my friend's cabin. I had dreamed of something black and terrible had carried him away. It had come true in a way, but he had gone willingly, hadn't he?

The icy expression crept back, like a slow numbness over him. He said, "Fine, Mulder, why shouldn't I be?" He turned his gaze back to the featureless unchanging void of the night sky.

//||\\

What kept me there, I wonder? Why didn't I run? I must have been mad to stand there, hurting, exhausted, my hunger burning my insides, having failed to eat for, god what was it? More then a day, less then a week, it was all a blur. Someone had given me several hits of speed and I took them gratefully. It was free, more or less, given in exchange for things that no longer had value and meaning. The drugs fueled my drive to collect enough money to leave this place, this place where I had sold what ever remained of my self-respect. My days and nights had been spent in anonymous rooms or worse just stepping into a crevice in a wall and kneeling or bending, accepting them all. It seemed that my body was like a public urinal, some mechanical relief that could have no feelings, no purpose other then the orifices it contained. Mulder's fists, his rage, the spitting fury of his words, at least, it confirmed to me that I was someone. Oh, his anger was personal and even though I was not as guilty as he thought, I accepted it as justified. I was bleeding. I touched the small pain in wonder as if surprised that I could still exude such fluids when all of me felt like stone.

When he turned back to me, he was beautiful. I really thought so as he strode toward me. He was all golden power and beauty; his righteousness was a force that reduced me to witlessness. If he had pulled my head back, to slit my throat with my own knife, I could not have resisted. I might have come; quivering with the release of the death he gave me. Whatever he did to me, I would have submitted just as I had that night when he had burned me in the fires of his passion, making love to me until I was sure that he had reworked every cell of me, every atom of my being. I might have fallen to my knees to worship him and begged him to touch me, touch me one more time as he used to do.

I didn't kneel. He didn't kill me except with the fierce hatred where I had seen love. Instead, I walked into the bathroom stood, motionless for a moment. Before any hint of volition returned to me, Mulder exploded back into the room. He did something with the door and, then, I was slammed into the wall. It was cold that wall, so cold. His hands felt hot. They ripped off my jacket and I wanted to protest like a fool as it hit the floor with a metal jingle. I like that jacket; that black, studded and chained garment that enveloped me in an anonymous uniform of toughness. His hands searched and removed another knife. He had taken the things from my pockets and I felt my face burning with shame. He would know by the number of them what I was really doing here to earn money.

His fingers, I used to suck on his fingers, they were always so clean, the nails pretty and rounded from the manicurist. I liked the taste of him. I craved it and made an epicurean banquet of his body, cataloging each variation of Mulder that I found. I'd know his touch in my last dying moment. Hell, listen to me. That is probably the literal truth and the least worst causes of my demise.

His fingers now searched to unbutton my jeans, but some one had been too eager in some previous encounter and the sweat soaked band of my jeans sagged unfastened. Underwear, I had none of that, an unnecessary expense and an encumbrance to the swiftness of my transactions. Yeah, did that sound good? I want to giggle and tell Mulder my thoughts like I used to do. Transactions, like I was a fucking ATM machine!

I still wasn't sure if this was not some bizarre obsessive search on his part. He can be like that. One moment so careless, you have to wonder how he managed to get to his not so ripe old age alive and the next, a cautious man, who calculated every move he made as if playing some angelic game of chess. Well, the rattle of the foil and plastic wrapper informed me. Mulder was going to use me too. My head fell lower between my outstretched arms as he probed between my ass cheeks. He made a disgusted sound and accused me of prostitution. I find myself apologizing as if he had a right still to make demands on me. No matter, he will still lower himself to use this worn and discounted flesh. He pressed money in my hands. It is an American fifty and my hand closes on it in a reflex drawn of the desperate last few weeks.

When I hear his words and logic penetrates my hazy brain, I dropped the bill and watched it spiral down. He enters me and I think he meant it to hurt me physically, but I've been hard used and this pounding is no more then another transgression of my abused flesh. He hurts me anyway. It aches to the core of me to feel his hands on me, to hear the increasing pace of his breaths and to know that it is done in hate. He pulls out, leans against me for one minute. His hands still span my waist and for the moment, his touch is gentle. Just for a few brief seconds, his thumbs make soft circles on my hips. Our shirts have ridden up in his rutting and his bare stomach is against my naked back. Oddly enough, when he pushes away from me, he tugs my shirt down. He makes a sound of disgust. I can't move. I won't let him mock my emotion. I won't let him have that too. He tells me to clean myself. I would if I could, but like Lady MacBeth, all the perfumes of Araby...

Left alone in one of the booths, I wipe the lubricant from my ass. I emerge, dabble the blood off my face and realize that the tightness in my bladder was not only the pain of being kneed. Morbidly, I watch to see if I piss yellow or pink, that's how hard he hit me. It's yellow so I guess it only hurts. Someone has come in now. I look up and it is a woman, standing at the next urinal. My mouth stretches in a stupid embarrassed grin and I ask, "What are you doing..."

Grabbed, thrown against the wall, she holds me there and the strength, the strength is incredible. I am in shock. Her eyes are filled with some unnatural vortex of black. She kisses me and I can't resist. Something moves between my lips. It is like a slow, living vomit of oil, warm from her body, the questing tendrils probe down my throat. I can't breath and my scream is buried in this burning ooze. My entire body feels that itching, painful sensation that comes when your circulation has been cut off and restored, only this is in reverse. The essential part of me retreats further and further inside.

Fuck, Mulder, can't you even tell this isn't me? Obviously not, the creature walks about in my body. Mulder has lain off the violence. We walk onto the plane. The creature does not seem to realize we need food, drink, and sleep. I am dimly aware of these facts, but it doesn't respond to my want. On the plane, Mulder asked me once if I am all right. I fought the creature at that point, trying desperately to tell Mulder what is happening, but it clamps down hard and tells him that it is okay.

We get a rental car to complete the trip. Mulder stops for food and orders a sandwich for me. This sits in my lap, getting cold until he says, "Christ, Krycek, eat something. You look like shit."

The creature finally realizes that the vehicle, me, needs fuel. It eats mechanically. I can't taste anything, but oil. Mulder tells me to drive. That's funny. He hardly ever let me drive when we were partners, not even when we were after-hours, two lovers. The thing in me accesses my knowledge and it drives smoothly. Mulder asks for the key to the storage locker where I left the disc. I fight for control again. That disc is my way out, my conduit to some distant isle where I can lay in the sun, attended by my choice of handsome, masterful men. I had planned to spend the rest of my life, screwing, drinking, and thinking of Mulder as some stud fucked me.

The thing makes my hand release the key into Mulder's hand. No, something is wrong. I can sense that it wants something. It wants the disc to trade for something else. Mulder turns the key over in his hand, thoughtfully. He asks, "What does CI mean?"

My voice, not my volition responds, "When we get there..."

I am aware of lights tailing us, but my rider does not listen to me. When I try to tell it that there is danger, it slaps out at me as if I was some petty annoyance, not even a fly, perhaps, a gnat. Mulder reacted a little later and instructs the creature to lose the tail. It has overestimated my body and the skill that it can borrow without giving me any rope. We crash. My head hurts and my chest aches terribly as I lay slumped against the wheel. Men that I know, the smoker's goons, pull me from the wreck. I look behind to see if Mulder is alive. Yeah, I can see the pulse beating in his neck. He's been hit in the head again, that poor tawny covered skull, the guy ought to wear a helmet.

The men drag me out of sight of the road and hit me. The creature doesn't react immediately, but finally it realized that the shell it wears is in danger. It does something. Something rushes out of me and the feeling is incredible, like getting high, an orgasm, and a fever all at once. I want to puke as I see the screaming blackened things that are left, but it doesn't let me. We walk back to Mulder, take the key and calmly get in the other car to drive away. At least, it didn't hurt Mulder, I think. I curl in a corner of my mind and dream of being little Agent Krycek, smart, courageous, and adored by his lover.

//||\\

My head hurts badly and I sense Krycek being dragged from the car. I can't even get my fingers to twitch and there is no way to stop them. God, I don't want him dead, I realize, I don't know what I want, but if I have to see his vacant eyes, that beautiful face gone blooded and still, I think I'll want to lay right down beside him and die. Something's happened. I see a flash of blinding light and I hear terrible screams. Krycek passes through the dimming veil of my vision and then I am sucked down into blissful darkness.

Waking, I know I am in a hospital. How many times have I woken to the particular muted, oceanic rush of sounds? The travel of carts and the clang of bedpans, voices rising and falling in despair or relief all tell me where I am before I even open my eyes. I can smell Lysol in the air, bleach, but it still can't entirely hide the odor of sickness, blood, feces, and the sweat of fear.

Of course, Scully was there. She always was. You know that part in Star Trek movie where Kirk says he knew he wouldn't die because Spock and McCoy were there? That's me. If I wake up to Scully's anxious face, I know that somehow, someway, I will always win out at the end. That's why it terrifies me when she was ill or hurt. She's the rock and I'm the vessel at sea, seeking her anchor against the storm. If she falters, how will I survive? I reached up, there's a bandage on my forehead, of course.

Scully's smile was as rueful as my own. We're in our own version of "Ground Hog Day", playing out this scene again and again. I comment, "Guess I'm not dead."

Scully dismissed my comment with a toss of her head and asked, "What happened?"

I'm a little confused on the details myself and I asked, "Maybe you can tell me."

Scully said, "The State Police found you unconscious. You were strapped in the passenger's seat of a rental car that had been driven into a ditch." She frowns as if she knows what I am going to say. She's very tired. I can see how pale her skin was and there are blue circles of fatigue beneath her eyes. She's still beautiful and nothing can dim the look in her eyes. Her intelligence is lovely to me and that also reflects from her startling blue eyes.

I wince as pain inserts a message into my defective skull. I am sure when I do finally die that I should donate my skull as a jigsaw puzzle for anatomy students. I've been hit on the head that many times. I force the pain to a residual part of my brain where I put all the other ignored messages from my body. I said, "We were run off the road by two men."

Scully's lips form unspoken words swiftly, "Oh, not again." She is trying for patience though and asks, "Who's 'we'?"

I know my eyes drop downward and my lip droops. It's my patented bad little boy expression that never worked on my mother, but often works for Scully and sometimes, even for Skinner. I answered guiltily, "Krycek."

Scully sighs and repeats, "Krycek?" Her tone was that of every family member finding that the addict in the family has again stolen a shot full of heaven into an arm of twisted blue cables and abscesses of needle marks, ending a brief recovery.

I explained, "He was in Hong Kong; he's got the digital tape. He's been selling information." Well, I doubt he actually sold any, but he was offering according to my sources.

Scully nodded, it is so easy for her to accept any wrongdoing I lay at Alex's door. She asked, " Is that what the men wanted?"

I remember more now; I even remember that I did not want him to die, or if Krycek was to be killed; it must be at my hands. His life and death are mine as they have always been. I said, "They ordered him out of the car. I thought they were going to kill him. I thought they were going to kill us both. And then there was this bright flash. That's all I remember."

Scully nodded and looks if only this hospital bed keeps her from the lecture I deserve. "Well, it may not be the best time to tell you, but you're not the only one in the hospital. Skinner's been shot.'

Skinner, that shakes me. The man's a monolith. I know that is just an illusion caused by his massive, muscled shape and his seemingly confident and decisive air. I have mixed feelings toward Skinner; l sometimes wonder if he is only a hair less corrupted than Krycek. I asked, "What's his condition?"

Scully replied, "A bullet perforated his small intestine. The doctor seems to think he'll be fine."

I felt somewhat chilled and a little ill. I ran a hand over my forehead and stirred restlessly on the bed. I asked, "Who shot him?"

Scully had a folder in her hand and she opened the cover with a brief smile that marks that we are coconspirators. I love Scully the best when she is like this. We are a secret gang of two, huddled in our tree house club and sworn against the faceless adult opponents. This is something she has no real authority to do or have; I'm sure. There are times when Scully will use the attraction she has for certain men, for instance, that sweet, serious, carrot topped boy in the laboratory, to get information she otherwise is not entitled to obtain. Hell, I do the same thing with women and with men who respond in certain ways to the well-concealed messages of availability I send out.

Scully replied, "I'm not sure. But I have an idea." She thumbed through the papers restlessly.

She's waiting for me to ask and I oblige her. "What are those?"

She replied "PCR results" and showed me, underlining the numbers with one red painted nail. She explained, "One belongs to the man who shot Skinner."

I know my role in this demonstration and I held one sheet against the other. I can see how they match and I realized that it must be the same man. I asked, "Yeah, and who's this one belong to?"

Her voice would do well as if she were a judge reading a death sentence and, if I were the man in question; I would fear her. She said, "The man who shot Melissa."

The matches are unmistakable, exact. I feel some little traitorous joy. Krycek was with me when Skinner was shot or at least, he was an ocean away. He was not the one that shot Melissa. There's the question of my father, of course. If I were a good son, I would continue to feel the mindless rage that stormed through me when I succumbed to the drugs in my apartment's water system. I don't though. He was no innocent such as Melissa was. My father was tainted; how tainted I choose not to ponder.

I went home at the doctor's next round, stopping in to see Skinner. Scully was sitting with him, her little fingers moving softly over one massive arm. He looked impossibly strong and healthy in those sheets, even with his face pale and scowling in his sleep over his weakness. Scully shushed me with a finger across her lips and I merely walked over, touched where her hand connected with his, patting them both in the gesture. I don't know what I meant by that, but it seemed the right thing to do.

Much later, I stand in my office staring at the deep- sea diving suit. I had to bribe the maintenance men to cart it in here. My brain had drifted off course and instead of the oil or the alien or Krycek, I am thinking about reruns on Saturday mornings long ago. I used to sneak and watch "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", wondering what that funny feeling in my groin was when Admiral Nelson was touching Captain Lee Crane. Someone's at my door. It's Scully, of course, and she enters. I quip, " It looked great on me in the store."

Scully is in an indulgent mood and she spares me a wisp of a smile, before she asked, "What's this doing here?"

Scully is perfect as always, her suit was the kind always described as a timeless business classic. Her makeup was a wonderful illustration of understated elegance. Sometimes I wish that I were Scully. I wanted to wake up each day and paint an expression on my face. I try to hide behind an impassive gaze, but it is never as good as Scully's mask. Scully makes a small, impatient noise. She always knows when I have drifted off on a tangent.

I said, "I had it flown in from San Diego as evidence."

Scully asked, " Evidence of what?" Her face was mostly smooth, but she does this thing with her eyebrows, a faint tilt, when I have annoyed her. I see that expression often.

I said "The suit was covered in a thin film of oil, as was the French diver when I found him lying delirious on his kitchen floor."

Scully said "What kind of oil?"

I said "Well, from the reports I'm getting, it's the same substance that was found on the French diver's wife when she was discovered on the floor of a Hong Kong airport bathroom a few days ago. According to the analysis, it's fifty-weight diesel oil. It's the same oil that was used during World War Two on submarines, and on P-51 Mustangs for that matter."

Scully said, "I don't understand."

I said, "This oil is not only fifty years old, Scully, but its composition has been altered by exposure to radiation."

Scully said, shaking her head as she walks around the suit, "I still don't understand. How did this get onto the diver and then onto the diver's wife?"

I said, "This just wasn't ordinary diesel oil. I think it's, uh... I think it's a medium, a medium being used by some kind of alien creature that uses it to ... body jump." Oh God! I really sounded like a candidate for a visit from the Mental Health Professionals.

Scully said, "So you're saying that this stuff has intelligence?"

Scully had that tone in her voice again, the one that suggested I needed a long vacation and a new medication. She hadn't seen Alex as I had with his face blank and the darkness in his eyes. I told her, "I think that it came off of whatever they pulled from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. It's been waiting fifty years down there for another host, another body to bring it up to the surface."

Scully said "Waiting to jump into the diver and then into the diver's wife?"

I said "And, then, into Krycek."

Scully said "Krycek?" I could see it in her eyes. I never told her about him, yet often I see in her eyes the questions. She knows me. Scully is like my conscience and, like Pinocchio, I wish to leave my Jiminy Cricket far behind me at times. Alex was my taste of paradise. His desertion was my exile not to the fires of hell, but to cold Niflheim. I knew Scully wondered and I deserved her scorn, but I tasted the fruit of heaven and since then, it had all been cinders. Scully sighed and I wondered what she thought?

I said, "I think that Mrs. Gauthier went to Hong Kong under the control of this thing" I scowled, as Scully laughed at me, and continued, " to find Krycek. I know; I know how it sounds."

Scully said, "Is anybody not looking for Krycek?"

I said "No, but I think that the sixty-four thousand dollar question is what is this thing looking for? And, now that it's in Krycek, what does it want?"

Scully agreed that it was worth a search. She suggested I use my resources outside the department. Her energies at this time were still directed toward finding her sister's killer. Between the two of us, it was a good thing that we were not assigned to any other pressing case. Scully, my dear friend, was as obsessed as I was in this situation.

It was in Rockville, Maryland. It took all of my efforts and those of the Lone Gunmen to narrow down the choices to few enough for us to investigate. We knew we were looking for a public place. Although I believed in Krycek's ability to go anywhere, I think that he would have chosen the path of least resistance. I had a hunch that led us to the Capitol Ice skating rink. Alex had told me that he used to go ice-skating when he was a kid.

Byers and Langly skated around, watching everyone. Frohike joined them on the ice for a momentary conference. Everyone now watched them in wonder, thinking no doubt that it was an undress rehearsal for Snow White. Here was Doc, Sleepy, and Grumpy; the others would appear shortly. Frohike separated from his cohorts. Byers and Langly skated well. I had never got the hang of it, past wild sliding when I was a kid. I was a geek, wrapped up in Star Trek conventions and my dreams of being a magician until track and basketball brought me unexpected social success so I avoided the congenial gatherings at icy ponds and the parties with sanctioned hot chocolate and hidden booze.

Satisfied that they are not observed by anyone but the usual kids and want-to-be figure skaters, Langly and Byers nodded in turn to Frohike. He disappeared for the lockers. The rest of us waited and then, left one at a time. Dustin Hoffman could never have conveyed our degree of paranoia. We met outside in my car or rather the current rented car I put on my own credit card after checking out a bureau car long in advance. I hoped the bugs were merry, listening to the comments of the detailers at the shop where I left it.

Frohike handed the envelope to me with a confident smirk. "Nothing to it.", he bragged.

Byers said, "You should call upon our service more often." He was as always a curiously self contained man, so neat and conventional in appearance that he looks like a businessman held captive by the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow, but he's the Tin-man, a true focal for the other two Gun Men.

Langley said, "We show a talent for these G-man activities."

Teasing, I remarked, "You mean, I should call on you if I want somebody whacked on the head with a lead pipe?"

Frohike's expression was not entirely facetious as he said. "Only if you want the job done right."

I opened the case and it was empty. What had I expected, that's the story of my life. I can't hold onto anything, nothing worthwhile. "It's gone." I mourned.

My friends looked as if they felt as dismal as I did. Frohike, my loyal gnome, patted my hand. He said, "Let's go back to the Gun-cave and see what we can find in our utility belts, Mulder." I nodded agreement. If anyone could pry up a secret, it's the four of us combined.

I knew this place, his apartment, Cancerman, Mulder called him or the cigarette smoking man as I used to refer to him, was drinking whisky. I knew without looking that it was cheap stuff. Bill Mulder always brought his own liquor if he had to meet socially with Spender. He couldn't stand the lighter fluid that Spender bought. He doesn't have to live this way. He could be as rich as the others. I never knew if this is his penance for his sins or if he lacks the sensitivity to act in any other way. The man was watching an old war movie; yeah, when he got drunk, he told war stories just like any other old man. He put the glass on the cluttered table near him; it narrowly misses the interlaced rings where it has been set before. and reached for his lit cigarette in the overflowing ashtray. I fight the creature for a moment, but it wins and throws the digital tape on that table, among the ashtrays, the glasses, the manuscripts with coffee stained rejection notices curling around rubber bands. He's surprised, standing suddenly and spinning to look at me.

The alien said with my voice, "Where is it?"

CSM smoothes down his air of confidence and takes a puff of his cigarette. That uncaring, fearless contempt is familiar; I've imitated it in mirrors until I think I wear it better than he does. The old man says, "I've been expecting you."

I heard the sounds behind me and tried to spur the alien to protect us. It ignores me. I glance sideways. It's Cardinal, of course, and I hope that the alien does that death ray thing right here. Man, I'd love to see that fucker, Luis, killed. The bastard loved to torture me and he's the one that set me up to take the fall for the fuck-up on Melissa Scully. I might be the rat that Mulder calls me, but there's no vermin low enough to insult it by using its name on Cardinale. I feel the gun barrel on my neck. It's cold and I'm frightened.

The alien ignores it all. This thing has wants. You remember high school biology, learning the characteristics of life? Yeah, takes in nutrients, reproduces, takes in oxygen, excretes, grows, and reacts to stimuli. Well, the oil-alien moves, I think it reproduces although it doesn't understand recreational sex at all. I'm not sure if it needs oxygen, but it if it does, it takes it from the host. I think it takes food from the host. I think I feel it devouring something, not as simple as blood or even nutritional complexes. If it eats, I suppose it excretes although the idea of an alien shitting in my body isn't pretty. It does react to stimuli; it reacts very forcefully. Grows, hmm, I don't know. When ever my curiosity gets the better of me and I try to tap into it's knowledge, it blasts me with pain that sends me sniveling to a dark corner of my brain, with a mental thumb in my mouth, although sucking Mulder's cock would have made me feel safer yet.

Spender calls Luis off with a sharp, "Put that down." His eyes look at me amused. Yeah, he thinks this is funny. The bastard loved to see me suffer. He would come in to watch me tortured and I bet he saved the tapes in lieu of stroke-books for his lonely late nights. He said, " I have what you want."

The alien would have wagged my tail if I had one. It perked up and I get a mental picture of home. The picture involves a ship of some sort and then some nightmarish world with tastes, colors, sensations that make me queasy. I retreat again while it passively allows the tape to be examined. Inside, I try to scream at it. Don't trust him! Don't ever trust Spender. I tried to open my brain up and show it all the instances where the man betrayed me, Bill Mulder, his wife, and his own son as well as his entire race. It hit me with such a lightening storm of pain that I... whatever part of me is separate from my brain and body faded out in a deep cool unconsciousness.

I gaze at my allies in my perpetual state of half amusement. Frohike wears special glasses, such as given out by swank theaters during one of the periodic revivals of three-D movies or maybe it was more like the one I once sent for at age thirteen. That one's advertisement swore I could look through them and see woman's underclothing. They didn't work at all when I tried them, but I was too embarrassed to return them. Frohike said, "I've got something here...writing. Somebody wrote on top of the package and left an impression."

I said, "Let me see that."

Byers said, "Your guys at the FBI turned a major serial murderer with a vestigial pen impression." He took a drink at his high protein drink and winced at the flavor of the amino acids. It smelled like a barber's shop and made me want to gag. Byers is a food fanatic and always had one more odd recommendation to add to my diet. Personally, if that makes me live longer, I'd rather not.

I said, " Hand me a pencil."

Langly, our revolutionary waif, said, "Your science-lab-crime guys at the Bureau have a laser there that can measure any change in a surface down to a few nanometers." Langly had a brilliant career in the offing before he went astray, seeking his dharma in the paranoid web of conspiracy theory. He is happy though, a happy paranoiac.

I rubbed the pencil over writing as I listened to the guys rap on about methods to extract the information. They disregard my actions totally as they debate methods, each one trying to outdo the other in dubious techniques and degree of complexity of equipment.

Byers said, "Actually they can lift a perfect impression using magnetic toner and a sheet of Mylar. An electrostatic device is applied to the specimen, and renders the information, by drawing the toner from the indentation to the Mylar surface."

Frohike is almost leaping in his eagerness to one-up Byers who rivals him for leadership of my rocking trio of techno-stooges. He shot in, "Actually..."

I said coolly as I held up the results of my low tech and old-fashioned impression taking, "Actually, it's a phone number, New York City area code 212 and number 555-1012. Now don't drop that," I gave the pencil to Frohike with amusement at his expression, "That's a finely calibrated piece of investigative equipment. I gotta make a phone call."

Frohike said, "I'll be damned." He scratched his head in consternation and I was reminded to anonymously leave dandruff shampoo in the bathroom again as a rain of flakes fell onto his camouflage jacket.

I used a payphone and a device loaned by the Gunmen that should prevent them from tracing even this anonymous location. A smooth voice answered, a sort of maitre de snot of a voice that hardly belonged in a worldwide conspiracy. "Yes? No, this is a private line. You must have misdialed. No, there's no one here to take your call. I'm sorry I can't help you."

I could sense power approaching. The man's voice held it's own version of oil. He paused and the man I called the Well-Manicured Man took over the phone, "Who is this?"

I said, "Who is this?

The cultured, smooth, familiar voice, replied, " Who gave you this number?

I said, "You probably know. A man named Krycek."

My verbal sparring partner said, "Alex Krycek?"

I said "Yeah, nice guy, killed my father, you wouldn't happen to know where he is, do you?"

The Well-Manicured Man said, "It's Mr. Mulder, isn't it?" His voice was good old boy fraternal... oh, didn't I go to school with your father not, 'didn't I order your father's execution'.

I said, "It's so nice of you to remember." The sarcasm dripped like acid saliva from the alien creature about to bite Sigourney Weaver.

The Well-Manicured Man said, "Mr. Mulder, can we meet somewhere?

I said, "I would love to." In truth, I had little interest in finding Krycek, or at least not to kill him. I could have done that anywhere on that long road to Maryland or even marched him in his passive state from that airport and executed him in private as if it were the ultimate sexual act. The truth was, I doubt that I would ever kill Alex. I still harbor feelings for the fucker; yeah, I still love him as much as I hate him.

The Well-Manicured Man said, "Give your phone number to my assistant, he will call you back in five minutes." I heard his voice away from the phone, say, "Tell him I'll meet him in three hours in Central Park, near the lighted walkway off seventy-ninth, near the reservoir." His voice dropped even lower as he instructed, " When you hang up, have this number disconnected."

I actually wasn't as big a fool as I sometimes act. I engaged my un-indicted coconspirators as we refer to ourselves when our ventures become blacker than gray to watch and to act if this became an assassination attempt.

The Well-Manicured Man said, "I trust we're all alone."

This one looks like a broker or a member of the house of parliament. He is always elegant. You can't imagine a scuff on his Italian leather shoes or a thread loose on his Harris Tweed. His nails have probably never seen dirt for more then a few seconds and a callous would be as alien upon that hand as tentacles. He had pale blue eyes, silver-white hair... I imagine him as having been born with that distinguished mane, and a nose as imperious as an eagle's. He is the result of hundreds of years of breeding; a flare of his aristocratic nose is as natural as his ability to command. Yeah, he's a son of a bitch of the type that sent thousands to their death through history and never even got their hangnails torn.

I said, wearing my Oxford manners and lying as easily as I had done then, "We're all alone in New York City, sir."

The Well-Manicured Man said. "You're looking for Alex Krycek, to kill him, in revenge. What makes you think we haven't done that already?

I said "What for?" I eyed his calm face. He's smooth and elegant, but he and Spender have the same lying expression in their eyes.

The Well-Manicured Man said, " Tell me what you know and I'll consider giving you Krycek."

We both listened to the distant sounds of the city. He had chosen this spot to create a buffer zone. The discordant sounds of the park, booming CD players, children wailing, the blast of car horns and the constant oceanic murmur of pigeons would make it more difficult to get an adequate recording for surveillance. I don't doubt that the gunmen could do it though. They were as happy as kids on a field trip, packing more illegal spying equipment then Linda Tripp on a double date.

I said. "No, you'll answer a few questions for me first, like what was pulled off the bottom of the Pacific Ocean."

The Well-Manicured Man said, "It was a UFO, a so-called foo-fighter, downed by American fighter pilots in the Second World War."

I asked, "Left out there until now?"

The Well-Manicured Man's pale eyes studied me. He doesn't want to offer me one more scrap then he thinks I already know or have guessed, but he doesn't know how much I know. He perhaps wondered how much Krycek told me before I lost him. Finally, he twiddled with his umbrella and stared for a while at an interested pigeon before answering. He shooed the creature away with a disgusted moue of his aristocratic mouth and said, "There were salvage attempts. A United States submarine was sent in fifty years ago, but there were complications."

Complications, I was sure that was how he referred to most of the deaths that he ordered. I wondered who was higher in the conspiracy, the man of ashes or this semblance of gentility? I said, "Almost the entire crew died."

The Well-Manicured Man said, "Yes, it's still a mystery."

I replied, "A mystery to whom?"

The Well-Manicured Man said, "The cover story said it was the third A-bomb bound to Japan, but the truth is, no one knows what killed that crew."

I said, "I know." I stared at him, hoping to make him drop his gaze, but he merely stared back undaunted.

The Well-Manicured Man said, "Do you now?" His eyes wrinkle in amusement and his mouth twitches upwards at one corner. He strikes a pose and I look about to see if Emma Peel was around.

I said, "You give me Krycek and I will tell you."

The Well-Manicured Man said, "Mr. Mulder, I've given you so much this evening, you offered me next to nothing in return."

I replied, "You haven't told me anything I didn't already know."

The Well-Manicured Man said, "I'm curious, if you've encountered Krycek, why didn't you kill him then?"

I lied, "because he has the tape." I stared hard at the man; one thing that I was never sure about was how much Alex had told them about us. Sometimes I think he covered up our whole affair. It was hard for me to believe that they hadn't tried to use it before now if that wasn't true.

The Well-Manicured Man said. "Ahh.. Yes, the tape." He smiles. His mouth was thin and nearly colorless, almost a skeletal mouth it seemed to me.

I said, "The tape he's been selling those secrets off." I am watching closely. This is a chess match or perhaps a duel. You watch the eyes for reaction and I caught a flicker of a white eyelash, an almost invisible tightening around his deeply pouched eyes. I pounced on that little show of weakness and said, "You don't know where he is either; do you?" You're looking for him, too.

The Well-Manicured Man said, "Mr. Mulder, everyone can be gotten to. Certainly, you've no doubt of that. Mr. Mulder?"

I took the match by walking away, leaving him to call after me. As soon as I was a safe distance away, a thought struck me. For some reason, they seemed reluctant to kill me, but Scully and Skinner were vulnerable. Scully had said she would be watching over Skinner, but I knew that she, unlike me, never parted with her cell phone. I opened mine, safe in my pocket for once and called her. I said, "Scully, it's me. The two guards you had posted in front of Skinner's room, are they still there?"

Scully sounded very tired as she said, "They should be, why?

I replied, "I want you to get down there and double check for me, okay?"

Her voice was crisp and alert. I could tell that she was already up and moving. Scully said, "I got it covered, Mulder."

I said, " Just get down there and check, okay?"

I had dismissed my gunmen and started for home by the time she called me back. Her cell phone was turned off or busy every time I tried. I'm afraid for her, for Skinner and, naturally, two fools try to violate the law about two solid objects sharing the same space. In this case, the experiment failed right in front of me. Although I threw the cell phone down, I couldn't stop in time. The airbag rises around me as I hit the bumper of one of the idiots. He jumps out, a huge man, with tattoos on his hands. As he yells and cusses, I ponder the gun in my holster wistfully. An exhausted and bored looking state patrolman showed up before I had to resort to violence. The third driver is locked in her car, staring wide-eyed at the maniac who hit her. Every other witness has fled so of course, I am left to try to explain what happened. Every word initiates another round of colorful invective until I want to whip out my notebook to take admiring notes. The State Patrolman is not amused.

After the winner of the Bluto look-alike contest is carted away, I crawled about to find my rental agreement. It would be nobler to believe this is a consortium-arranged coincidence, but even I can't stretch my imagination to believe that. As I spot the recalcitrant sheaf of papers, the phone rings. I answered, "Yeah, Mulder."

Scully's voice replied," Mulder, it's me, where are you?"

I said, "At the airport in New York."

Scully asked, "What are you doing?"

I said, "I'm looking for my rental car agreement."

Scully said, "What are you doing in New York?"

I said, "I'll tell you when I see you."

Scully said, "Mulder, your instincts were right about Skinner. We've just arrested a man for what looks like attempted murder."

"Who?" I asked.

Scully replied, "It's him, Mulder, the man who shot my sister." Her voice held a calm triumph. I sometimes think Scully is more dangerous than I am. She certainly has no problem taking action when she is sure of her righteousness.

I said, "Scully..."

Scully said, " Mulder, listen to me, he said he knows where Krycek is. I don't know if this makes any sense to you, he says he's headed towards an abandoned missile site somewhere in North Dakota."

I said, "I want you to meet me at the DC airport in an hour, I want you to get two tickets on the first flight for North Dakota."

Scully said, "What's in North Dakota?"

I said "The salvaged UFO..."

The State of North Dakota is huge and under populated. It's cold, with a bleak landscape consisting of upheavals of glacier-wrought ravages punctuating flat acres of winter wheat and barley, both now mere pale stubble on the ground. The wind blew mercilessly, buffeting the car. Farm equipment still lumbered like mechanical dinosaurs, slowing the traffic to a crawl every few miles. The highways were all lined with irrigation ditches and, God knows, what people did if they had to change a tire. We hit number fifty tumbleweed within fifteen minutes of the airport. It rolled up and over the car as if desperate to hitch a ride somewhere warmer.

Finally, silos jutted from the flat landscape in the distance. The gate was padlocked, of course, but we had brought the proper equipment. We entered, feeling like at least in my case if we had entered a Twilight Zone episode. The base seemed oddly transitory in its abandoned state. It was if there had been only a temporary evacuation and I half thought if I entered the cafeteria that I would find plates with half eaten food, perhaps a single overturned cup to testify to panic, a Mary Celeste like scene.

I gazed about letting my brain take in details that might subconsciously lead to a solution. There is any number of silos as if this place was a residence of giant ants that lived in these cylindrical heaps.

Scully said, "There must be 200 silos out here. If I'm correct they were all filled with concrete in accord with the disarmament treaty when the base was decommissioned."

I said, "I didn't sign any disarmament treaty."

We drew our guns and entered the first silo; finding that the door's lock has been broken. It was dark and very cold. The oppression of the tons of earth weighing down on us seemed a palpable force.

Scully said, "My ears are still popping."

I said, "We're eight stories down."

Scully still believed most of the lies and sounded shocked as she asked, "Where's the concrete?"

I said, "Apparently, nobody else signed that treaty, either."

Scully said, "One down, one hundred and ninety-nine silos to go."

I felt an overwhelming urge to sing that kid's naughty song about bottles of beers, substituting silos for each dismal verse. Fortunately, I remembered that Scully was armed and had shot me for less cause in the past. I shivered, wishing I had worn the silk thermal underwear that Scully suggested.

I said, "These tunnels must go on for miles." I heard a noise and we switched on our flashlights. The light beams illuminated the sight of fallen men with flash burned faces. I gagged despite my long exposure to sights more pathetic. Regaining control, I announced grimly, "He's here."

I heard running, the heavy jangling beat of armed men. An authoritative voice called, "Hold it right there! Hold!"

We ran at top speed, turning and twisting in the maze of dark passages. What a rat hole Krycek had found in this although I wasn't sure if any part of his consciousness remained with the alien running his body.

One turn too many and we ran into a group of ready armored and armed men. Scully and I looked at each other in defeat as an officer shouted, "Hands in the air!" The man waved for us to walk. He shouted, "Come on! Come on!" I thought I heard fear in his voice only partially hidden by his command.

Fuck, this close and now we're caught! The men, of course, answer no questions. We're searched thoroughly and our guns are taken away. They march us away from a red marked door. I think I hear faint pounding and perhaps the mere echo of a scream. I looked back and one of the men pushes me onward. I want so badly to push back, but my concern for Scully kept me reasonable.

The Cancerman is out there. He is smoking, of course, that twitch of an evil smile on those deeply seamed lips surrounds the burning coal of light from his cigarette. I said, "He's here. You led him here, didn't you?"

Cigarette-Smoking Man said, "There's nothing here but holes in the ground, Mr. Mulder."

I said, pointing at the armed men, the canvas covered military moving truck, and the silo, "Why are you here? Why all these men?"

The Cigarette-Smoking Man said, "I don't know why I should answer. You owe me answers."

I replied, "The UFO's here. That's what Krycek's after, isn't it?"

The Cigarette-Smoking Man said, "Krycek? Alex Krycek disappeared five months ago." He smiles again as a twist of smoke curled upward like brimstone from his mouth. His pale-colored eyes followed the smoke until it dissipated.

Scully shouted, "We saw bodies in there!" as she's dragged away. "Men with radiation burns!"

The Cigarette-Smoking Man replied, apparently believing mind control was among his powers, "You saw nothing." He pauses one moment, threw down his cigarette and ground it under his heel.

I said, "You won't get away with this. You can't bury the truth." It's a pathetic lie. They bury the men who attempt to tell the truth. Krycek tried to sell the truth and I know that he, alive or dead, is below us deep in that frozen ground.

Scully and I were loaded in a blue van. No one questions us or answers our questions. We are held in a cell for twenty-four hours and are then conveyed to the airport and escorted onto an airplane to fly home. As we left the ground, Scully looks down and asks, "Do you think he was in there?"

I nod and I also looked down, thinking of him, my lover, my enemy. My thoughts are with him although I try and forget. I don't think I will though. I can't forget Alex Krycek.

I sighed as I worked on my notes from another case. I scowled through my glasses and shoved the paper away as I heard a knock. Visitors here meant the worst to me and I drawled, "Yeah?" in my sulkiest voice.

I was wrong, I hoped. It was Walter Skinner, still leaning upon a cane, but looking better then I had seen him last.

Skinner said, "Agent Mulder?"

I stood to shake his hand and then, remarked, "Sir, I didn't expect you back to work for a few weeks."

Skinner said, looking about as if I might have hidden her or a group of aliens, "I was looking for Agent Scully, there was something I wanted to talk to her about." I helped him to a chair, surprised that he accepted the assistance. He sat as if relieved to leave the precarious balance of his stand. He said, "Thank you."

I almost blushed as I said, "Actually I wanted to talk to you, and I wanted to thank you for everything you did."

Skinner snorted and said, "You mean getting a shot in the gut?"

I said, "You got a shot because you stood up to these people."

Skinner shook his head. The man was so powerful; his shoulders were those of a bull. His massive neck was corded with muscle. His hands were brutal things and I remembered that I had felt them once, when I was maddened from the drugs the conspiracy put in my water. At that thought, I almost laughed. Didn't I sound like a mad doomsayer, afraid of poisons from my tap?

Skinner said, " I think you're perceiving from a mistaken impression, what I did, I did it because it's my job."

I wanted to give him back something; he had been here for Scully whom I loved in my own fashion, just not the way that might have seen natural to the majority. I told Skinner, "From what I understand, you put your job and your life on the line for Scully."

Skinner's voice had a rougher edge than he normally allowed, He said, " This isn't my crusade, Agent Mulder. A woman was murdered. I mistakenly thought that we could bring the man who committed that crime to justice."

My first thought was that he had found some evidence that proved Krycek killed Melissa Scully not Luis Cardinale, I asked, "What do you mean mistakenly?"

Skinner polished his glasses from a packet of small blue tissues, he said, " This is what I need to talk to Scully about." He sighed and then said, "You can tell her. Luis Cardinale was found dead in his cell this morning, an apparent suicide."

I knew about Cardinale, of course. I knew he was a graduate of the school for terrorists, the School of the Americas- that blot on the much-sullied record of America's intelligence forces. Cardinale was a monster before he walked in that door. An aficionado of enemies pushed out of planes, of screaming rape victims, and vanished children. I knew he had tried to shoot Skinner and that Scully had shot him. I knew he claimed that Krycek had the answers to Melissa's death, but I also knew he was an evil and desperate man.

Skinner said, "I meant to meet with Cardinale soon, to attempt to cut a deal. He wanted to talk. I think he was a man who wanted to live. However, he was found hung in his cell and the coroners' verdict is suicide."

I nodded, thinking that if Krycek were ever caught, that would be his end as well. Scully had gone out, personal leave she said at the receptionists desk. I also checked out for the day, stopping at a florists shop before I drove to the cemetery. I knew that she would be here; she was a childlike figure in the distance. I had bought flowers too, not roses, violets, I remembered she like posies not more formal arrangements. The tombstone seemed as new as when it was erected, the inscription said, Melissa Scully, beloved sister and daughter, 1962-1995.

Scully looked up as if she had expected him. She said, "I was just thinking about something that a man said to me. That the... that the dead speak to us from beyond the grave, that that what's conscience is.

Softly, I replied, "It's interesting. I never thought of it that way."

Scully shook her head and said, "You know I thought; when we found him, this man that killed Melissa, that...that when we brought him to justice, I would feel some kind of closure. But the truth is no court. No punishment is ever enough.

I followed her as she walked away, her short legs powerful and certain as ever. He said, "I came here to tell you something. There may be some justice, just not the kind you're looking for."

Scully paused to ask, " What are you talking about?"

I responded, "They found this man, Luis Cardinal, dead in his cell."

Scully didn't even blink, She asked, "How?"

I repressed my thoughts and said, "They made it look like a suicide. The men he worked for couldn't take the chance that he would point his finger at them."

Scully sighed and asked, " And what about Krycek?"

I looked closely to see if her question was as simple as it seemed and made my voice sound casual, as I replied, "Oh, he was there. I know that."

Scully said, "You think they got to him, too."

I replied, "I don't know, but if they haven't, they will. I doubt it'll weigh on their consciences, though."

Scully's face softened and she glanced back at her sister's grave, she said, "I think the dead are speaking to us, Mulder, demanding justice. Maybe that man was right. Maybe we bury the dead alive."

I nodded and waited for a moment. She glance up at me and then back to the grave. I'd almost forgotten the flowers and now I laid them down. Melissa Scully had been a woman who stood by her beliefs. If her killer had lived to be sentenced, she would have been the first to shout against the execution. She would have been the first to tell me not to deny my love, but she was dead and her voice was solely a wistful trick of my longing brain. As I walk back to my car, my thoughts burden me. I believe I would know if he was dead and I feel in my heart that I will see him again. Scully rises at last, wiping away a tear and she takes a few rapid steps to walk by my side. We pause, look at each other, and take each other's hand. We're alone together as always.

//||\\

Hours, days, an eternity in this hell, my hands were bloody now. I had scraped my nails raw, splintered them. My screams were harsh whispers as I still pleaded, "Help!" I know I am doomed and I sob. Tears run down my face and I stop my screaming to capture them with my tongue. They taste of salt and oil. It burns my raw lips and I gag again at the hated taste.

I heard his voice. I'm sure that I heard Mulder. My ass is still raw from that rape in the bathroom. I can feel the bruises of his fists. With the last whisper, I can force from my scorched throat, I scream, "Mulder, Mulder..."

I hear the smoking man's voice fading and I hear laughter. Does Mulder laugh with him as he walks away?

And now, there is nothing, but my screams, and the blood on my fists as I pound, and I pound, and I scream, and I pound...

//||\\

I awake, tumbling from the couch, clawing at the coffee table and the floor as if they confined me. My throat is raw with screaming. I know I dreamt of Alex. I know he is alone, somewhere cold and dark. And I know in my heart, it's not over yet. It's not over...

 

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