TITLE: Belief Renewed
AUTHOR: Aqualegia
E-MAIL ADDRESS: Aqualegia@aol.com
ARCHIVE: Gossamer - yes. Ratlover - Yes. Terma - Yes. Spookey site - Yes. Basement-Yes. Elsewhere please ask.
SPOILERS: Anything up to the end of season 5. Especially: The Red and the Black & The End
RATING: NC-17
CLASSIFICATION: M/K UST
SUMMARY: A continuation of "The End"
COMMENTS: I wrote most of this in August 1998, just why I left it sitting on my hard drive I have no idea. DISCLAIMER: The X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. No copyright infringement intended.

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Belief Renewed
By Aqualegia

Her overtures of sympathy having been rejected, Scully had gone home, leaving Mulder alone in the disaster area that had once been their office.

"Damn."

The softly spoken word somehow reached into his numbed mind and forced his body to turn round.

The owner of the voice, dressed all in black, was standing just inside the doorway, hands jammed into the pockets of his leather jacket. He caught Mulder's hazel eyes with his own and said sympathetically, "I'm sorry this happened."

"Krycek! How did you get in here?"

Krycek smiled slightly and the laughter lines crinkled at the corners of his eyes for a moment. "I'm better dressed than you are," he commented, studiously avoiding the issue of how he'd got in, and took another look around. "It sure looks a mess."

"Why do you care?"

Krycek shrugged, then sighed looking slightly uncomfortable. "I told you, a long time ago, that I believed." He put up his right hand to stop Mulder's expected comment. "I know you probably thought I was lying... but I wasn't."

"Do you know who did this?"

"Not really, but the guy you call Cancerman would be a good guess." At Mulder's surprised expressed he went on, "I *know* he's not dead. He went to Canada to recuperate." He looked around again, then said, "Come on, let's get out of here."

When Mulder didn't move, Krycek reached out, took him by the arm and dragged him away.

The act of moving seemed to rob Mulder of the power of thought and it wasn't until he was seated in a small apartment, with a cup of hot, sweetened, chocolate in his hands, from which he had just taken a sip, that his thought process kicked into gear again. Looking at the dark, steaming, liquid, he asked, "What's this?"

Krycek smiled wryly, "Whether you realize it or not Mulder, you are in shock, that should help counteract it."

Mulder took another sip and shuddered. "It's sweet," he protested.

"It's meant to be. Now drink!"

Suddenly Mulder started shivering and Krycek immediately stripped off his jacket and flung it round his former partner's shoulders, before going to the closet and rummaging around on the top shelf for a spare blanket. Shaking it out as he re- crossed the room, he tucked it firmly around the still shaking form.

Krycek took away the empty cup and refilled it with the same sweet mixture. After giving it back to Mulder he turned to go back to the kitchen, relieved that the shock seemed to be wearing off.

Mulder, wanting to continue their conversation, reached out and grabbed hold the nearest hand and was horrified to feel cold plastic instead of warm skin under his fingers.

"God Alex. What happened?"

Krycek smiled wryly, "Tunguska... When you did your stupid 'great escape stunt'. Whatever possessed you to do that Mulder?"

Mulder sucked in his bottom lip, feeling suddenly embarrassed.

The younger man hunkered down in front of him and cocked an eyebrow.

The Agent took refuge in a swig of chocolate, then mumbled, "The guy in the next cell could speak English, he told me, after you'd left with the guards, that you were not my friend; and when you didn't come back and they experimented on me... I was unconscious when they threw me back in the cell and he was talking to me as I woke up. There was a crack in the wall, I could just see a pair of eyes looking through it at me. He told me he'd been a geologist, and had been amongst those who had found the black rocks, and that was why he was a prisoner there. He also told me about the gulag and the experiments on the inmates, until they died, and, when you still didn't come back, I guess, I started to get angry. Then when I saw you laughing with the Doctor, I guess I lost my temper..."

Krycek made a small disgusted sound, "And of course the word of a man you'd never met, let alone couldn't see, was more acceptable than mine?" he asked bitterly.

Mulder had the grace to look a little guilty, but not liking the feeling, defended himself by reiterating, "I didn't know what to believe, but you didn't come back, and you hugged the guy who experimented on me."

"Mulder, Mulder," Krycek shook his head in wonder, "Didn't it occur to you that he was more than likely put there to find out why you had come? I'm glad you're a Special Agent and not a secret agent. As for being 'nice' to the camp commander, how else was I supposed to get you out of there? I could have left you any time before that... I didn't have to follow you under the wire." He shook his head, "If only you'd waited you would have been on a plane back to Washington that same night."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Krycek grimaced. "I wasn't in any position to make demands. My parents were defectors and although my Russian may sound okay to you, I'm told I speak with an 'English' accent, so I can't exactly pass as a native."

"I'm sorry Alex..."

"Are you? Are you really sorry, or are you just saying that, glad it didn't happen to you?" the remembrance of pain making him lash out.

Mulder suddenly found the dregs of chocolate in the bottom of his cup absolutely fascinating, and he was silent for quite a while as an image of a one-armed boy flashed across his mind. Just as Krycek thought he wasn't going to get an answer, Mulder spoke in a low monotone.

"After the brakes failed on the truck and it crashed, I hid. The truck driver found me and took me to his home. He was going to cut off my arm, just as he had done to his son. I managed to persuade him that it wasn't necessary, and that all I needed was help to get back to where I had entered Russia. I thought the guards would find you and take you back, if you hadn't managed to find your own way... It never occurred to me that you might... That you'd be in danger..."

Krycek sighed, "I didn't want to go back, they were going to keep me while sending you back to Washington, I guess because my parents had taken me with them when they defected. So, when the truck crashed, I ran to keep out of the guards' way, and then I started looking for you. I ran into a group of one-armed men, they fed me and let me sleep by their fire, but during the night, while I slept, they attacked me and cut off my arm. I can remember screaming... The guards came, and they killed my attackers and took me back to the gulag with them."

"Oh god..." Mulder paled, suddenly feeling sick, "I'm so sorry... so sorry..."

Alex, noting the pallor, felt his anger drain away. He leaned forward, placed a finger on Mulder's lips and shook his head gently, "It's all water under the bridge now Mulder, for both of us," he paused and grinned slightly, "Talking of Water, you could do with a shower."

Mulder threw off the blanket and Krycek's jacket, sniffed at himself, and wrinkled his nose. "Yeah," he agreed tiredly.

Krycek pulled him to his feet and pushed him into the bathroom where he started to help his ex-partner out of his clothes.

"Hey, I can do that," Mulder protested.

"Do it then," Alex told him, and went into the kitchen to warm some soup.

Fifteen minutes later he returned to find Mulder sitting on the toilet seat wrapped in the bath towel almost asleep. He manhandled the sleepy Agent into the bedroom and having got him into bed, propped him up against his body and fed him the soup. Not until the bowl was empty would Krycek let him lie down, and sleep.

Krycek stood watching him for a while, then went to clear up the kitchen and bathroom. Picking up Mulder's clothes he placed the contents of the pockets and the cell phone on a table in the living room, then took the clothes into the kitchen and put them in the washer/dryer on a short cycle to get the smell out of them. Then he sat down to watch the TV news for a while. The fire in the basement of the Hoover building rated a small item, mentioned almost as an afterthought.

Going back to the bedroom again, he checked on his guest, then reached up under his sweater to release the straps of his prosthetic. Stripped himself of his clothes he padded into the bathroom. While he was in the shower, slowly soaping his body, he couldn't help wondering whether he had done the right thing bringing Mulder here. After he'd heard about the fire he had felt he had to see the extent of the damage for himself. He'd been somewhat surprised to see Scully leave the building on her own, then thought that perhaps Mulder had already left. When he'd seen the devastated man just standing, motionless, in the middle of the charred office he hadn't been able to walk away. The man who'd sent him to speak to Mulder about the resistance fighter was insistent that the Agent was a crucial factor in the forthcoming fight, but he had to admit to himself that his main reason for looking after him was that he was in love with him. He'd felt the attraction was soon as he'd seen the lanky form hunched over the wiretap equipment. The next three months had been both heaven and hell; he'd lain awake at night in their adjoining motel rooms, fantasising about his partner's hands and mouth roaming over his body. During the days he'd suffered the purgatory of having to work alongside him and not being able to touch, to tell him his inner thoughts, and most of all not to be able to tell him why he was there.

He sighed, all the trouble they had gone to, getting him in place then the CSM had squandered the opportunity. He was convinced the Smoker had his own agenda, which had nothing to do with what the Consortium wanted at all. In fact, he man had as good as said so to the Englishman, when the latter had chided the Smoker for not having completed the task he'd been set. He still would rather have put a bullet through him, but his companion had vetoed the idea. He smiled grimly, at least he'd worked off some of his aggression buy passing *very* close to him as he'd driven away. He'd seen the man's shoulders hunch, expecting to be hit, and it had temporarily alleviated his urge to kill the bastard.

Mulder was still asleep when he returned to the bedroom. Judging that he would stay that way for some time to come, Krycek got a robe out of the closet and put it where Mulder couldn't miss seeing it if he awoke during the night. Then he found a spare pillow and a sheet and made himself a bed on the couch.

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The next morning, Alex woke early and went to check on his guest. He grinned to himself as he watched the other man sleep, he had quite expected to wake up during the night with the Agent looming over him, demanding answers from him at gunpoint. He shook his head at his grim thoughts, and kept one eye on Mulder as he quietly got dressed. He then retrieved Mulder's clothes and folded them neatly, leaving them on a chair by the window. Checking he had his wallet, he put on his jacket and went out to get some groceries.

On his return, he opened the door to his apartment cautiously, not wanting to be on the receiving end of one of Mulder's violent outbursts just yet. The apartment was quiet, and on looking in the bedroom, he was surprised to find that Mulder was still asleep. In fact it looked as if he had hardly moved in his sleep at all.

He unpacked his purchases in the kitchen, then decided to start cooking a meal for two, hoping that maybe they would be able to have a meaningful conversation, instead of resorting to the usual round of accusations which then escalated into violence.

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Mulder woke with the scent of cooking assailing his nostrils. He looked around the strange bedroom and for a moment wondered where he was. Then memory returned. Krycek had brought him here. Had brought him here, made him wash, fed him and put him to bed. The question was.... Why?

His stomach rumbled and he decided that he'd go see if the smell was an indication that he was soon to be offered something to eat again. He pulled on the towelling robe, padded out of the bedroom and wandered into the kitchen to time to see Krycek add some diced bacon to the large frying pan on the hob in front of him.

Seeing Mulder enter the room, Krycek flashed him a smile, then said, "I was just about to come and see if you were feeling hungry. Are you?"

Mulder nodded, "That smells good."

"It's about ready to eat. So take a seat and I'll put some on a plate for you."

Mulder retreated to the table and took a seat where he could watch what Alex was doing.

Krycek noted that he wasn't going to present his back to him, and smiled to himself. Acting completely unconcerned, he took two large plates from the oven where he had been keeping them warm, and arranged a helping of scrambled eggs, diced bacon, sausages and beans on each plate. He then carried them, one at a time, to the table.

Sitting down opposite the Agent, he said, "Bon Appetit. There's plenty more so just go help yourself." Then, seeming to ignore his guest, he picked up his fork and started to eat.

Although he was now feeling very hungry and the small of food was making his mouth water, Mulder waited until Krycek started eating before taking his first mouthful.

They ate in silence. Alex was wary of saying anything that might antagonise his former partner, and Mulder was too busy trying to figure out why Krycek was being so solicitous.

Eventually, Mulder couldn't stand not knowing any longer. He put his fork down with a thump and looked squarely at the younger man.

Alex jumped slightly at the sudden movement and raised his eyes to meet Mulder's.

"Why did you bring me here?"

"You needed help, a... friend..."

Mulder frowned, "How can you call yourself my *friend*, you betrayed me, you..."

A look of pain haunted Krycek's eyes for a moment then before Mulder could work himself up to the usual tirade of accusations he cut across the Agent's words.

"I'm not going to offer excuses, or explanations, for my past actions at this time." He sighed, "I know you probably won't believe me, but I'll say it anyway. I am not, and never have been, *your* enemy. But for now, please accept that my only motive for bringing you here is that I want to help you."

"Why should I believe you?"

"Why shouldn't you? You've always been so good at using your instincts, at discovering the truth. So trust your instincts Mulder."

Mulder shook his head and dropped his gaze back to the plate of food in front of him. After a couple of minutes he absently picked up the fork and started eating again.

Alex watched him intently until he started eating again, then concentrated on finishing his own meal. When he couldn't eat any more, Krycek filled two mugs with coffee. Passing one to Mulder, he sent the Agent out to sit on the couch while he cleaned up the kitchen.

Mulder had got into his own clothes, and was sprawled on the couch flipping through the TV channels, when Krycek rejoined him.

Alex crossed the room to an armchair and, after staring at the changing patterns on the TV for a while, he picked up a book and started to read.

Mulder had watched Krycek's movements and after the other had started reading, he openly studied the other man, trying to fathom what his feelings were towards him.

Feeling Mulder's eyes on him, Krycek looked up and cocked an eyebrow, "What?" he queried.

"I have lost my way, I have lost the files and I have lost my beliefs and I was wondering why you believe."

Krycek put his book down and ran his hand over his short hair. "Mulder you never cease to amaze me. Why are there always extremes with you? Everything always has to be either black or white, true or false. I've got news for you, real life isn't like that, everything has shades of colour. As for why I believe, well I could easily reconstruct two of your files."

Mulder raised his eyebrows.

Krycek gave a derisive snort. "Surely you haven't forgotten that Oilalien and that damned silo already?"

"Was that what...?"

"Made me believe? No. My belief started a couple of years before that. Well, I'd always thought that we were arrogant to believe we were the only sentient beings in the universe, but my beliefs were confirmed when I found myself in hospital after being interrupted during sex with an alien."

Mulder frowned.

"The Kindred," Alex prompted.

"But... that was someone called... Um... Michael..."

Krycek grinned. "Strange how things work out. The night before the incident, I'd been to the birthday party of a mutual friend, where Michael and I had worn almost identical jackets, and we managed to pick up each other's when the time came to go home. So, of course, I had his wallet and he had mine. I was attending Quantico; he was studying at Georgetown, so we arranged to meet at the club to make the exchange. I was just talking to a friend, apologising for seeming to ignore her, and telling her that I was there, when this strange woman interrupted my phone call. She touched my hand and suddenly I had no will of my own. She was straddling my lap in the front seat of my car when the cop banged on the window, saving my life I guess. She assaulted the cop, turned into a man and fled, leaving me feeling pretty sick. As I believe I said at the time: 'The club scene used to be so simple'."

To put it mildly, Mulder felt stunned and looked it.

Alex's grin widened to a smile at the other's expression. "By the time we met again, well, I'd got a different hairstyle and was wearing a suit and tie instead of a hospital gown, standing up instead of lying down, it was no wonder you didn't recognize me. Naturally, one of the first files I looked at once we'd got back from New York, was the one on the Kindred. I *needed* to know the rest of the story.... Well, you understand.

His expression sobered and he swallowed hard before continuing his narrative. "The next time.... Well... I guess that if you'd come into the bathroom in Hong Kong we might not be having this conversation now. I got cleaned up like you told me, and went to take a pee. A woman came up beside me and I couldn't believe my eyes, suddenly she reached over and slammed me up against the wall. My face was bruised and sore for days afterwards."

He gaze shifted to the floor. "It was like being anaesthetised, I could feel it coursing through my body, taking control as it went, until... Then I was crouched on top of a UFO puking my guts out. Black oil running out of my eyes... how long I was crouched there I don't know. When I regained the use of my body I tried to get out, but the door had been locked. I tried calling for help, but nobody came. After a while the lights went out. Then I could only mark the passage of time by illuminating my watch. The Alien kept me alive, sometimes I'd wake up under bright lights but unable to move and there were instruments hovering over me, other times I'd be in the dark by the door again. When the consortium's people came to move the ship I managed to get to the surface and that's where those militia guys kind of captured me. I wanted out of there and they could see I was hiding from the MIB's, so they decided I might be useful to them, at least that's the impression I got."

He looked up to meet Mulder's eyes again. "Having been 'possessed' by that alien is the reason why I agreed to carry a message to you a couple of month's ago. If we don't resist, something like that's going to happen to us all...." He suddenly got to his feet and disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Mulder staring after him.

When he returned a few minutes later, Krycek looked a little pale and he didn't immediately settle back in his chair, instead he took their mugs to the kitchen and filled them with fresh coffee.

Mulder nodded his thanks as the new drink was put on the table beside him.

"Do you need to call anyone," Krycek asked, gesturing towards Mulder's cell phone lying on the table beside the coffee mug.

Mulder thought for a moment, although he wanted to question the other man more about the alien, he recognized that as far as Krycek was concerned, the subject was closed.

"Yeah, I guess I'd better call Scully and tell her that I'm okay and for her not to worry. Otherwise she'll have Skinner put an APB out for me. Aren't you afraid that I'll take you in?"

Alex cocked an eyebrow at him, then shook his head. "One, that would be an abuse of hospitality and; two, what could you prove? I left my job without giving the correct length of notice? Hmmm?"

"You beat up Skinner and took the DAT." Mulder replied, picking up the phone and dialling Scully's number.

"A tape, I might remind you, that you should not have had in the first place. You couldn't risk that becoming public knowledge," Krycek retorted.

Mulder held up his hand for silence, then said into the microphone, "Scully, it's me. Look, I met an old - um - acquaintance last night, so I stayed the night at his place." He listened for a few minutes, then said, "Okay. I'll phone if I need anything, and I'll leave my cell turned on in case you need to get in touch with me... Bye." He looked back at Krycek. "What about the man you killed in the truck?"

"Did I?" Krycek countered. "The receipts I sent you are enough to catalogue me as an informer. I could say that I shot him to prevent his escape, which, off the record, is the truth as he was about to shoot me. Alternatively I could state that the shot came through the open widow on the passenger side of the vehicle. Either of these actions prevented a terrorist from setting off a 2000 kilo bomb outside a federal building, which would have killed hundreds of people.

"You didn't take me in and charge me with anything. How do you explain that? The terrorists saw you talking to me, I've heard they definitely think I was a mole, an undercover cop.

"You'd also have to explain why you took me to Dulles, how you came into possession of a diplomatic pouch, why I spent the night on Skinner's balcony, then there's why you forced me to go to Russia with you." He paused to let his words sink in, then said, "As long as no 'evidence' has been manufactured in my absence, I am not aware that I am wanted in connection with any crime." He looked Mulder directly in the eyes, and said in a convincing tone, "And *no* I did not kill your Father."

Mulder stuck out his lower lip and looked a bit sulky while he turned Krycek's words over in his mind. With those beautiful green eyes looking into his own, he felt that finally he had been told the truth about his father. Yet, there were still a number of outstanding questions to which he desperately wanted answers.

Alex watched him for a few minutes then had to turn his eyes away, finding that pouty look on Mulder's face almost irresistible. He desperately wanted to ravish that lower lip and tell his ex-partner all the secrets of the world. He sighed inwardly, it was too soon to give up those secrets, too soon for Mulder to know any more of the colonization and the resistance plans. Soon though, if Mulder would acknowledge that they shared common goals, he would be able to give himself the pleasure of telling all.

But, the time wasn't yet, so he had to find some way to distract Mulder without it looking a deliberate ploy. He sighed audibly, which brought Mulder's attention.

"What?" the Agent enquired.

"I was just wondering if I have to move now that you know where I live."

Mulder smiled wryly. "You've given me a lot to think about Alex, some opinions to re-evaluate, but I'm sure of one thing; you have nothing to fear from my knowing your address. I'll probably think of a thousand and one questions I want to ask, but I promise I won't turn up on your doorstep demanding answers." He paused, then deadpanned, "I'll phone first."

Alex's eyes danced, then unable to contain his mirth he threw back his head and laughed.

Mulder found himself grinning, unaccountably pleased that he'd been able to make the other man laugh.

Alex let his head fall back onto the cushioned rest behind him as his mirth subsided. Then, turning his head slightly sideways he watched Mulder from under his long eyelashes.

"What now Mulder? Are you going to stay for dinner, or should I run you home?"

To give himself time to formulate a reply, Mulder looked at the clock. "It's a bit early to start thinking about dinner isn't it?

Krycek grinned. "Well, I suppose it would be if I was going to order in, but I usually cook my own meals, so if I'm having company I need to start making some preparations now."

"You can cook?"

"Yeah, I can cook."

Mulder opened his mouth to reply, then jumped as his cell phone rang. Snatching it up, he said his name then just listened, finishing the one-sided call with "Yes, sir, I'll be there."

He looked across at his host and said, "Sorry, no dinner. That was Skinner, he wants to see me in his office in two hours. Can you call a cab?"

Krycek grimaced at Skinner's name, then said, "I'll run you home, it's not far and my car's just outside."

Mulder nodded, Krycek shrugged into his jacket, picked up his keys, and they left the apartment together.

Mulder found himself once again admiring the ass of Alex Krycek, just as he had done when following him up the stairs during the hunt for Augustus Cole. He had nearly made a move on him while they had been working together. Curious about his new partner, he had tailed the young man to a couple of bars and having seen whose companionship he had chosen, he'd been almost sure that his advances would not have been rejected. He sighed. Would things have turned out differently if he had?

During the short drive Mulder covertly studied his ex-partner. The missing arm apart, time had treated him well. The naive good-looking puppy had turned into a well-built, handsome, man.

Now that they seemed to be on the way to becoming friends again, perhaps he would get another chance. Only time would tell.

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End.