Title: The Fox's Den II: Digitalis Purpurea Author: Amatia
Email: violinst@pitnet.net
Feedback: I live for it.
Disclaimer: I read in a Globe and Mail article that Paul Gross (due South) thinks that once fanfic authors put characters in slashy situations, the characters become public domain. Take that, CC! Category: S, A, MKR, slash, slight XO with "Once a Thief" Rating: R
Archiving: Gossamer. All others please ask first. Thanks. :-) Summary: In the sequel to "The Fox's Den" - my first slash piece - Mulder meets Krycek for an early morning of love, and disappointment.

Author's Notes at the end.

"Digitalis purpurea" is the Latin name for the Foxglove plant.

 

***

The Fox's Den II: Digitalis Purpurea
by Amatia

There was an envelope waiting under his door when Fox Mulder arrived home that evening. He tossed his trench coat over a nearby chair and ripped it open. His picture of Samantha on the swing fell out, along with a scrap of paper. He read the hastily scrawled message aloud. "Midnight. One-oh-one-four South Union Street. Don't be late or I'll be gone."

He looked at his watch. It was eight-thirty. He and Scully had stayed late at the office, reorganizing somewhat. Scully had finally convinced him that the stacks of paper he had strewn all around were an extreme fire hazard. Her side of the office, of course, was as neat as a pin. Even without a desk. He'd glared at her, muttered, and kicked the trash can, but he'd picked up his mess while she stood with her hands on her hips. He couldn't decide if she looked more like his mother or a drill sergeant.

Mulder looked around his apartment and sighed. He had several hours to kill, and he knew he was going to be utterly bored sitting around his apartment, getting nervous about seeing Krycek again. He went into the bedroom and threw off his suit jacket and tie. He then began to unbutton his shirt, kicking off his shoes. He shrugged out of his shirt and tossed it onto the clothing heap that was his bed, then wriggled out of his trousers. He opened the door that served to hold all his clothing in a confined space, and picked up a long sleeved navy sweatshirt, then he grabbed his sweatpants from where they hung over another chair and slid them on. Of course, he then tripped over his giant hardbound copy of Freud theories. "Damn books," he muttered, deciding not to kick it because it was less yielding than his trash can at work. And he didn't have shoes on.

Mulder shoved his feet into his tennis shoes, put his Knicks hat on backwards, and left the apartment. He took the elevator down to the main floor, then exited the building. Breathing in the cool night air, he turned left and began running. Less than a minute into the run, he had reached his stride, and he allowed his mind to wander.

He'd tried not to think about Alex Krycek since he'd had to leave their almost-lovemaking session in his old house in Chilmark. He had thrown himself even more into the X-Files. Perhaps he'd seen more than he really had these past few months. A man who was not really a man, but an insect who made other men into zombies. He'd seen religious things, spiritual things. He'd followed Scully into her personal heaven and hell, but not without some skepticism. He'd acted as the goverment's plaything, not even noticing that he was being used as such, and had almost gotten murdured in the course of it.

His breathing tempo hardly changing, he followed the curve of the street as it turned into Franklin. He wondered if Krycek knew about Emily, knew about the children that Scully would never carry. He wondered if Krycek knew the meaning of the mass burnings and the chip in Scully's neck. Did her chip serve part of the same purpose as the chips in his own back? Mulder refused to believe that the sole purpose of the chip had been to direct abductees to the burning sites. If it had, Krycek would most likely not be alive today.

He turned his thoughts to the man himself. Mulder didn't need to argue with himself about the effect Krycek had on him, illogical as it was. He hadn't gotten the nickname of "Spooky" by thinking logically. Commander Spock he was not.

Feet pounding the pavement, he continued down the street, a lone dark figure in sweats and a baseball hat. Then he slowed slightly as he remembered that he had forgotten his gun, but decided against going back to get it. Mulder didn't think that he was going to need it against Krycek, not after their last meeting. Now that he looked back on it, with hopefully a clearer mind than during, he thought to himself that maybe their encounter had gotten too tender a little too fast. Not too intimate, just too tender. He had forgotten for a time that Krycek was a cold-blooded killer, no matter what explanations he had offered. He'd offered plently of explanations. Or were they just excuses?

Mulder slowed his pace as he reached the corner all-night coffee shop that marked the intersection of Franklin and Potomac Street. He went in, and ordered a latte, not really wanting the bitterness of black coffee at the moment. The waitress behind the counter went to the machine and began to make it, and Mulder picked a biscotti from the many jars on the counter. Chocolate with almond slivers. The waitress set the latte down and told him his total. He handed her the five he'd shoved up his sleeve before he'd left the apartment, and watched as she counted the change from the register. She handed the money to him, and he shoved the bills up his sleeve and dropped the pennies into the coin cup. Giving the waitress a smile, he took his coffee and biscotti to one of the many deserted tables.

Mulder checked his watch as he stirred a packet of sugar into the latte. It was barely ten o'clock. Two hours until he was to meet Krycek. He sighed and dunked the biscotti into the coffee, letting the steaming liquid soak in a little before he bit into it. It melted on his tongue, and Mulder thought to himself that the bitter chocolate and almond with coffee taste reminded him of the way Krycek had tasted when they'd kissed.

He wondered if a person looked any different after they'd made out with somone of the same sex. He'd asked Scully when he'd gotten back if he looked the same as he had when he'd left, not telling her why. She'd just given him a strange look and asked if he'd been drinking orange juice concentrate and vodka up in Chilmark. He decided that he could go for some of that vodka right about now, but this coffee shop didn't sell liquor.

Mulder dunked the biscut back into his latte, staring down at the frothy beverage. It had little cinnamon sprinkles on top. He bit the soggy part off the biscotti and set it down, chewing, then picked up the coffee and took a sip. Not vodka, but it at least tasted good.

The bell over the door jangled, causing him to look up as he swirled the latte with the coffee-stirrer he'd grabbed from the counter along with the sugar packet. A tall elegant-looking woman went up to the counter and ordered something that caused the waitress to frown and shake her head. The tall woman gestured some more, obviously telling the waitress how to make something, and the waitress nodded and went to the refrigerator. Mulder watched intently, but he couldn't see what she was making. The tall woman said something, then walked over to the table beside Mulder's.

After a few moments, the waitress came over with a glass filled with a thick cream-colored liquid. It had cinnamon sprinkles on top, too. "Thank you," the tall woman said, handing the waitress a five. "Please, keep the change."

She must have noticed Mulder looking at her, because she looked at him and said, "It's an egg cream. Hard to find. But very good."

"Looks good," Mulder said, and resumed eating his biscotti.

There was silence for a time. The tall woman sipped her egg cream. The waitress moved through the shop, wiping off the counter and tables.

"Agent Mulder," the tall woman said suddenly.

Mulder looked up, startled. "How do you know who I am? And who are you?"

"That's not an issue," she replied. "But you may call me Alexandra."

He noted the tone of superiority in her voice, the use of "may" instead of "can", the way she talked to him as if he were her subordinate. "How do you know who I am?" he repeated.

"It's of no consequence, Agent Mulder," Alexandra said. "I think the question should be, why am I here speaking with you?"

"Well, why are you?" He took a sip of the rapidly cooling latte.

"I am here to warn you against meeting with a man that you know of as Alex Krycek."

His heart skipped a beat. "What do you know about Krycek?"

"It's not what I know about Alex, Agent Mulder. It's what you don't want to know about him."

"What don't I want to know about him?"

"He's a dangerous man, Fox. Don't let him use you." She took another drink, then stood. "Don't let him close to you."

Mulder stared after her as she left the coffee shop. Her leather handbag and shoes, her fur lined coat, her elegantly simple black dress all hinted that she had money. Or she had access to money. But who was she, and why was she warning him about Krycek? Did she know that he and Krycek...had kind of a relationship? Well, it wasn't really a relationship, not yet at least. Almost sex and a promise of better things to come didn't always constitute a relationship. Mulder raised his hand and smacked himself lightly in the forehead. A psychology degree meant one tended to overanalyze themselves at times. Times like this, especially.

He raised his latte, but it was cold by now. He frowned at it, and took the bills from his sleeve. He had enough to order another. He glanced at his watch, it read eleven o'clock now. He rose and went to the counter, taking his cold cup with. "Latte, please."

The waitress nodded, and set his used cup in the sink. She went to the machine and Mulder soon heard it whirring. He tapped his foot in time to the light Celtic music that came over the hidden speakers, thinking to himself that it must be a horrible thing to be deaf, to not be able to hear music. He decided that he could live without hearing everyone else, but that he couldn't live without music.

The cup of coffee was placed in front of him, and he handed the waitress the bills. Grabbing another packet of sugar, he went back to his table and sat down. The waitress came over and tried to give him his forty-seven cents worth of change, but he told her to just keep it as a tip. She went back to the counter, taking Alexandra's half-finished egg cream with her.

He wondered if this would be the last time that he would see Alex Krycek before another Syndicate matter brought them in contact. He figured that it would be. Krycek was not the type of person who would risk exposure for a relationship with anyone. Especially a relationship with someone he was supposed to be working against. But then again, Krycek wasn't really the kind of person to get involved with someone he was supposed to be working against. Mulder thought for a brief moment that maybe he and Scully could use Krycek as their inside man to finally expose the Syndicate, but abandoned the idea because he knew that there was an almost one hundred percent certainity that at least one of them would end up dead if Krycek were caught. And he knew that the Syndicate was very efficient when it came to stopping their leaks. He didn't want Krycek to end up like Deep Throat or X.

He finished the latte and stood up. It was eleven-thirty now, and he figured it would take him about half an hour to walk to the address. He left the shop and stood silent for a moment, breathing in the cool night air. Hardly a car passed, and he began to walk briskly down Potomac. He turned his mind from Krycek to Scully. She, too, had changed, and Mulder wondered if she hadn't tried too hard to see things that weren't there, as he had. The last burn site - the one she had called him away from Krycek on - had turned out to be a teenager's prank gone horribly wrong. Fortunately, there were no casualties, just several dozen confused kids with smoke inhalation and some second-degree burns. It had struck Scully hard, and she had struggled to understand why those teenagers had done it. Mulder had told her it was an attention thing, but Scully had seemed to be more angry with the teenagers because of their inability to understand what had happened to the abductees, not because they had done a stupid thing for attention. She had used her FBI status to arrange a meeting in the town hall, and had put the fear of God into those kids with her hard-edged words about what it was like to have really gone through the mass stagings. But after her speech, she had almost broken down at the look Mulder had given her, and she'd left town without waiting for him - something she'd never done before. He wondered if perhaps their role-reversal had become too severe. Had she begun to believe too much, or he fallen totally into the trap of skepticism?

"Oh, Scully," he murmured to himself, "four and a half years together...so much we've been witness to...but is it all to be believed?"

He turned onto South Union Street, passing under the yellow light of a street lamp. It made his skin looked washed-out, and pale. He thought of how pale Scully had become during her cancer. And how the chip in her neck held more secrets than even he dared to approach. He didn't know anymore if Scully was afraid to approach those secrets. It had taken away her life, and given her one that was constantly in shadow. Especially after the stagings. Mulder couldn't help but imagine that their lives had become a dark tunnel that they kept moving further into with each attempt on Scully's life. He slowed his walk as he reached the 1000 block of South Union.

The old building before him loomed dark and silent. Quite like Krycek himself. Mulder had never known the man - after he'd left the FBI - to just sit and chatter aimlessly. Most of the words that came out of his mouth were either pleas for Mulder to finally just kill him, or some cryptic information that usually ended up getting Mulder in trouble, if not Scully with him.

He opened the door and stepped inside. Candles had been placed at intermittent spots along the hallway, and he followed the path Krycek had laid out for him, hoping that the candles weren't going to burn the whole place down. They stopped at a door, and Mulder turned the handle. Krycek's voice reached out to him. "Welcome to my humble home, Fox."

Mulder stepped into the room and found himself being pulled into Krycek's embrace. He surrendered willingly, nuzzling the other man's neck. "I missed you," he whispered, "despite the fact that I tried not to."

Krycek chuckled against his hair. "I knew that was what you were going to do." He released Mulder, and took a long look at him. "And I missed you, Fox, even though I tried not to. So don't feel bad for doing so."

"Your hair is longer," Mulder commented, lifting a hand to run it through Krycek's chin length hair.

"And yours is shorter," Krycek replied, and then kissed him again. "What do you say we finished what we started weeks ago?"

"Why do you think I came here?" Mulder growled, and pushed Krycek down onto the bed that he must have dragged in here.

Krycek grinned. "Aw, I thought you actually came to talk," he said, and reached for the bottom of Mulder's sweatshirt.

Mulder stopped him, and pulled off his clothes. "I need you. Now," he said, realizing as he said it just how much he needed Krycek. "I don't care about regretting it afterwards, either, so don't even ask me if I'll regret this."

Krycek pulled him down on the bed. "I wouldn't dream of it," he said, kissing Mulder's throat before sliding down to take Mulder's erection into his mouth...

They slept for three hours before sunlight woke Krycek. He sat up, his movement causing Mulder's arms to tighten around him for a moment before the older man awoke.

"Morning," Mulder said sleepily, yawning.

"Morning," Krycek replied. He turned, and looked down at Mulder. "You okay?"

Mulder smiled. "I'm fine. How about you?"

Krycek stood and went over to his jeans. He withdrew something from the pocket and walked back to Mulder. He sat down on the bed, looking like he wanted to touch him, but not daring to again after what they'd shared last night.

"I need you to do something for me," he said, handing Mulder a photograph. "I need you to watch over these people for me, because I can't anymore. The man in the center who looks like me...he is my brother. The two people with him are his closest friends, his partners. They're in danger."

"What kind of danger, Alex?"

"They were employees of a type of Consortium, although quite unlike the one that you are aware of. Mainly they did undercover work in operations that normal argents would never even consider doing due to their dangerous nature."

Mulder looked down at the photograph. A mirror image of Krycek stared back at him, grinning, an Oriental woman on his right, and a brown haired man on his left. "He looks like your twin, Alex."

"He is," Krycek replied.

"According to your FBI file..." Mulder's voice trailed off.

"I had no siblings. But the entire file was a fabrication."

"Including your name?"

"I go by many names, Mulder."

"Well, what are the names of these people I'm supposed to be watching out for?"

"My brother's name is Victor Mansfield. The woman is LiAnn Tsei, and the man is Mac Ramsey."

"And who are they running from?"

"She is known to them as the Director. However, she goes by many names, like I do." Krycek took the photo from Mulder's fingers and laid it on the small table he'd set up to the left of the bed. He slid underneath the sheet and wound his fingers through Mulder's. "Her name of choice is Alexandra DuPre."

"I was approached in a coffee shop by a tall brunette, who refused to give her real name, but said that I could call her Alexandra. She warned me about you, and said that I shouldn't let you get close to me." Mulder turned onto his side, still holding Krycek's hand, and nestled in close to him. "I'd say her warning came a little late."

"That could very well have been the Director," Krycek admitted. "She knows who I am. One of the assignments I did for the Syndicate brought be in contact with her Agency. She is upset with Vic, Mac, and LiAnn because they disregarded her input in an investigation, and finished an operation against her orders. The operation resulted in the death of one of her security agents, Dobrinsky. Normally, the Director would not go after them with such zeal, but she's been implanted with one of the chips, and they're using her to get to my brother."

"Why does the Syndicate want your brother?"

"I do not know. Cloning, perhaps. Maybe they think that he's like me."

"Like you?"

Krycek turned so that he was facing Mulder. "I have never been loyal to anyone or anything, as you well know."

"You seem to keep returning to me, though," Mulder said softly, brushing a strand of hair off of Krycek's forehead.

"Personal reasons," Krycek muttered, blushing furiously.

Mulder leaned forward and brushed his lips across Krycek's. "Why is it you can't watch over these people?"

Krycek turned his head so that his eyes weren't meeting Mulder's. "I'm dying," he said simply. "They've given me cancer, Mulder."

Mulder was unable to speak for a moment, losing himself in a flashback to when Scully had told him the same thing. "I have cancer," her voice echoed in his mind. Krycek seemed to sense what he was feeling and pulled him close. "You can't save me like you did her," he whispered against Mulder's hair. "And I don't want you to try."

"I can't promise I won't," Mulder murmured, somehow getting the words around the lump in his throat.

"I don't want you to," Krycek insisted softly. "You try, and I'll disappear for good, I swear." He let Mulder go, and turned away. His voice was distant when he spoke again. "I love you, and I won't let you get yourself killed trying to save me."

"But..."

"Fox."

The rebuttal died on Mulder's lips, and he sighed, reaching out a hand to caress Krycek's shoulder. "You know I'm no good with promises."

"And you know I'm no good with loyalty, so why do we fight about it?" Krycek picked up his shirt, and pulled it over his head one-handed, leaving his prosthetic off. "It's getting lighter out. You should go."

"Will I see you again?" Mulder asked, putting on his own clothes.

Krycek stood up, his muscular legs flexing in the light from the cracks in the boarded-up window. "I can't promise you anything this time. When you're with me, you forget who I am."

 

"I don't forget who you are, Alex."

"You do, Fox, and as much as I'd like to say otherwise, you can't forget about it. So don't argue with me, please."

Mulder slid out of the bed and began to pull on his clothes. "I'm going to be late for work."

"It was your decision to come here," Krycek said softly. He went over to Mulder and laid a hand on his chest. "Go now, and leave your hard feelings behind. I can't tell you if and when we'll meet again, it will be fate that decides."

Mulder finished putting on his clothes, visibly distraught. "Damnit, Alex..."

"Don't, Fox."

"Do you know how incredibly hard it is to leave someone you love behind?"

"Yes," Krycek replied. He handed Mulder his hat.

They stood for a moment, looking at each other, until Mulder wrapped his arms around Krycek, and kissed him. "I love you," he whispered. "Don't get yourself killed."

With that, he left, and Krycek didn't know if it was the wind or the emptiness of his heart that suddenly made the room so cold...

 

***

Author's note: I posted "The Fox's Den" a long time ago - probably almost a year - so I'll repost it along with this one. This has been sitting on my hard drive for a really long time as well...mainly due to my "sex scene" writer's block that occurs about 23.95 hours a day and occured during this, which is why there's no sex descibed. Use your imagination!

This piece is really supposed to be more angst-centered than it is MKR-centered. Krycek is very unlike his usual TV self in here, getting all angsty on Mulder after they wake up...

This one's for E&W - who read all my slash and/or "smut" so they can find lines they like and tease me mercilessly about them, like the "Shorts. Off." line from "Menagerie". Here guys, have fun. :-P

A.

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