From ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu Sat Oct 19 13:16:161996
Summary: Krycek, fleeing from the MIBs after escaping the silo, returnsto
Washington with his quasi-partner to retrieve something important.
Immediate sequel to "Losers, Weepers".

Part 2 will be posted next week. I think I'm going to make you sweat on
this one...

Alex Krycek is a character belonging to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions,
see? I'm just using him for fun; no infringement is intended, etcetera,
etcetera.

All other creativity is solely mine, y'hear? This story can be reproduced
in its entirety if and only if you include ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu as
author and no cash (or its equivalent) changes hands. These characters are
completely fictional. No resemblance to any persons living, dead, undead,
cloned, channeled, abducted, possessed or portrayed in the world-premiereTV
movie is intended.

This story is rated R for violence and profanity. Author's notes follow.

A Marriage of Inconvenience Part 1/3
by Colleen C. Bailey

***************
Los Angeles
9:43pm
April 23, 1996

"Coming...."

Dylan hastily wiped her hands on a dishrag as she skirted the kitchen table
on the way to the phone. Grabbing the receiver off the counter, she hitthe
blue button with her thumb and wedged the device between shoulder and cheek,
while hanging the dishrag on the fridge handle. The plastic clicked against
her wire-framed glasses and she wriggled them with her other hand, tucking
the stem more firmly behind her ear.

"Frohike." She hitched the phone up tighter under her chin. Thecrackling
line meant long distance.

"It's me."

Two words, and her quiet weekend was shattered. "Where the hell areyou?
You haven't answered your phone in days, our Paris connection has been
screaming bloody murder...."

"I'll tell you later. I need you to do something for me...." Therewas a
pause. "My wallet's gone, I've got no ID and no cash."

"You got *mugged*? And it took you two weeks to call?"

"Just shut up and listen, will you? Wire $1,000 to the Western Unionat the
White Hen Pantry on Morrow and Western Ave." He gave her the name ofthe
city. "And make me a reservation on a flight to D.C. for tomorrow afternoon."

She scribbled furiously on the back of a utility envelope that was heldto
the fridge by a magnet shaped like a jar of Vegemite. "One grand, White
Hen, Morrow and Western." As she wrote down the word "Washington",she was
struck by a sudden thought. "You'll never get on a plane without ID.
They've been cracking down at all the airports, prepping for the Olympics."

There was a pause at the other end as he mulled this over. "I can always
lift one..."

"Can you get one that matches closely enough? In that short a time,in that
small a city?" She finished writing the details, noting the currenttime
and date and carried it to her desk. Documentation was a vital part of her
business. "I'm coming out there." So was follow-through.

Another pause. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"Look, I've got a stack of ID's here, I'll bring credit cards too.I can be
on a plane first thing..." She frowned, then re-read the name of thecity
he was in. Diane's city. "Oh, no, NO, are you *nuts*?"

He did not bother trying to deny her suspicions. "Don't lecture me,
Frohike..." His voice was sharp. Her reply was sharper.

"Lecture, hell! I'll tan your pasty white hide for this! She's your
ex-girlfriend, she's got a shadow for sure!" How could he be so stupid?
"Why not stand in the middle of Main St. with a big sign: FugitiveFor Sale!?"

"She's got something I need. Something...important."

"Look, see a dirty movie, masturbate, go to the local whorehouse ifyou have
to, I'll wire the money to that Western Union tonight, right away, but
*don't* blow everything by going to her! Have the past few months taught
you *nothing*?"

"Sex has nothing to do with this, Frohike!"

Right, that's what you told me, too. I should have hit you harder. "Tell
me, and make me believe it. What *does* this have to do with?"

There was a long pause, so long she was afraid he had hung up. Then,
"Kallenchuk's dead."

She stopped. "I know. I heard." There was more. She waited.

"It's... I've lost the tape, Dylan."

Shit. This is bad. "Look, I'm coming out there. I'm wiring the money
tonight." She walked to her desk, pulled open a drawer and pawed through
it. "Your name will be," as she pulled out a neatly labeled envelope,
"Michael Page, P-A-G-E. The code word for the transfer is 'Bookworm'.
Remember, 'page', 'bookworm'. I'll catch an early flight, meet me at the
airport at the United ticket counter at 5pm. I'll bring this ID for you,
just wait for me." She scribbled another note on the envelope. "Anything
else I can bring?"

She could practically hear him smile as he admitted defeat. "I lovean
organized woman. I'll see you at five." Click.

She held the receiver out before her, staring at it incredulously, her
thoughts a jumble of mixed emotions, wild hopes, re-arranged futures....

She flexed her broad shoulders forward and back, trying to work out the
tension the call had caused. Her fingers trembled as she punched up her
travel agent's pager.

Alex Krycek. That son of a bitch. He's alive. Fuck me.

***************
Western Union Branch 316
2:47 p.m.
April 24, 1996

Stacy sighed and snapped her gum, sitting back on her stool to lean against
the back counter. Her weight shifted the display, and a half-dozen packsof
cigarettes showered down upon her. Grumbling, she hopped off the stool and
restacked them sloppily. Her parents said a part-time job would build
character. Right now, all it was building was a really bad attitude.

As she resumed her perch behind the cluttered counter, the door opened,
buzzing a dismal warning. The sound of traffic from Western Avenue filled
the White Hen Pantry for a moment until the door swung closed behind her
latest customer, who headed straight for her. Great. She plastered her
best I'm-blonde-and-dumb smile on, and greeted him.

"Good morning, sir, how can I help you?" She noted he was good-looking.
Very good-looking. And badly-dressed, but hey, nobody's perfect....

His eyes twitched up to the security camera, then back to her. Everyone's
did - they all have *something* to hide. "I'm here to pick up a Western
Union money transfer."

Oh, shit. She hadn't done many of them, and if she messed it up....
"Certainly, sir. Please fill this out, and I'll need to see two formsof ID."

He grimaced a smile at her. "Well, that's a problem. See, I'm fromout of
town and my wallet was stolen last night; this money is from my wife, soI
can get home. She gave me a code-word..."

Margie sighed inwardly. Of course he's married. She pointed to the
appropriate line on the form. "Of course, sir, we make provisions forthat.
Fill out the top section here," and she made X's with a red pen, justlike
the manager had shown her. "And we'll need a signature at the bottom,then
we'll look on the computer for the transfer." So far so good.

She gave him a critical once-over as he filled out the form. His leather
jacket had seen better days, and his clothes looked worn, dirty. But he
himself was clean, well-groomed, almost a pretty-boy. She sighed and
cracked her gum again. If she tried to psych out every customer who walked
in here, she'd go wiggy for sure.

He pushed the form back across the counter to her, and she scanned it
perfunctorily. Everything looked good - she punched up today's transferson
the terminal, and found his name. "OK, Mr. Page, I show an active transfer
for, uh, one thousand...?" Her voice trailed off and she looked upat him
for verification.

He smiled innocently at her. Stupid cow. "That's right. See, I needto
buy new clothes, get a hotel, buy a ticket home...." He shrugged. "I
figured better safe than sorry."

She swallowed. "OK, Mr. Page, but I'll need to call my supervisor infrom
the office; we don't keep this kind of cash up here." She pressed thecall
button under the counter.

He flinched, barely, but willed himself to relax. The back door swung open
and a portly, red-faced man walked towards them down an aisle filled with
Hostess snacks and brightly colored chewing gum displays. Next time, he
vowed silently, I'll bypass Frohike completely and just knock over a bank.
And smiled at the greasy, officious-looking visage of the store manager.

"Whaddya want?" The toad squinted up at him suspiciously.

Or maybe I'll just kill him and the bimbo, and take the cash in the
drawer.... "Hi, I have a Western Union money transfer to pick up..."

***************
County Airport
4:40 p.m.
April 24, 1996

The small two-story airport was crowded - Sunday nights were a popular time
to fly. But it had a decent restaurant and she didn't have to pay through
the nose for a good lunch. And enough coffee to finish the latest Bruce
Sterling novel. She pulled her glasses off one-handed, yawning and rubbing
her eyes. The time changes meant her flight had gotten in around 2pm,
rather than her native noon, but a three-hour wait tried her patience. And
her tail-bones; she squirmed in her seat and decided another short walkwas
in order. She checked the wall-clock: 4:41 p.m. She had time to hit the
ladies' room again. Gathering her shoulder bag, she headed for the marked
door down the corridor.

***************
4:47 p.m.

He paid the taxi-driver, making sure the tip wasn't too large or too small.
Don't draw attention, positive or negative. His new shoes squeaked slightly
as he rose from the car. Walking casually through the automatic doors, he
scanned for the United ticket counter.

***************
4:53 p.m.

He saw her first, trenchcoat folded neatly over one arm, and sped up towalk
just behind and to her left. After a moment, she turned her head towards
him and nodded imperceptibly. He peeled off and waited until she had gotten
several yards ahead of him. Turning, she checked her watch and tapped her
foot. Her whole body gave the impression of someone waiting. After a few
minutes of watching her performance, he strolled towards her.

When she turned, her face was wide with delight. "Honey!" Theyembraced
warmly. "Oh, sweetie, I thought I'd missed you, that you were alreadyup at
the gate." She kissed his cheek, running her hands up and down thearms of
his still-stiff new suit, and he found himself wishing she were less ofan
actress. This was almost embarrassing.

"No, I just got here though. I hope you brought my briefcase?"Give me the
ticket, bitch.

"It's right here, your handouts and overheads are inside. Good luckwith
your presentation, darling, and I'll see you when you get back on Wednesday.
Now I have to run, I have to pick up Mary at the sitter's. Have a good trip
dear," and she kissed his cheek again, ruffling his hair slightly asshe
gazed at him with feigned affection.

He kissed her back, on the lips, in revenge. She managed not to stiffen,
but his tongue met her clenched teeth, and he knew that if he pushed, he'd
pay for it later. Big time. He broke the clinch with a wink, and headed
for the security checkpoint, knowing he would find his ticket in the
briefcase she had handed to him. They would have separate seats on the
flight, which suited him just fine.

She turned and walked through the sliding doors, wishing she could spit.
God, he had a thousand bucks, couldn't he get a toothbrush? Once outside,
she sat at a bench for a few minutes, checking her watch, then slipped her
trenchcoat on and fell in step with a large family heading for the nextset
of doors. Back inside the airport, she headed for the security checkpoint.

She chose a different line than he had, and there were still several people
ahead of her when he laid the briefcase on the conveyor belt. Spreadinghis
arms out slightly, with a smile at the uniformed guard, he walked through
the metal detector confidently.

The buzzer surprised them both. Krycek's face fell, and he had to struggle
not to look at Frohike. He shrugged at the now-alert guard, who asked him
to walk back through and take any metal objects out of his pockets.

Frohike was closer now, and was trying not to stare. Krycek patted himself
down, and thought hard. He placed a handful of coins, a safety deposit box
key and his watch in the inspection tray. He had no keys, he had ditched
the gun in the taxi, he wasn't wearing any jewelry, even the suit had
non-metallic buttons. He stepped through again. And the buzzer sounded
again. The guard's face closed up like a book, and Krycek was filled witha
rush of dread.

"Look, I don't know what it might be. Could you run the wand over me,
please?" The guard nodded slowly, and pulled the device from his station.
Stepping forward, he motioned for Krycek to raise his arms out to the sides,
and drew the wand down each of his legs, over his torso, and down his arms.
He turned, and the guard scanned his back.

Frohike was almost to the detector in her line, and pretended to fumblein
her bag before putting it on the conveyor. She knew that if Krycek blewit,
she could still walk, but she wanted to know what was happening to him.

As the scanner reached the back of his neck, it hummed loudly.

Krycek's eyes widened. He realized that the guard was addressing him.
"...your coat off, sir?" He complied, and the guard scanned it.Clean.
"Are you wearing a necklace, sir?" He shook his head, no.

The uniformed man moved in for a closer visual inspection. Krycek stepped
back, suddenly afraid. "I'm sure there's an explanation," he lied,close to
panic. Metal. In the back of my neck. Metal.... He lifted his hands to
his collar, felt around within it, dreading to find the scar, the tiny bump
from an implant....

END A Marriage of Inconvenience Part 1/3
Colleen C. Bailey
"You can't aim to kill when you're laughing"
ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu


From ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu Tue Oct 22 20:30:21 1996
A Marriage of Inconvenience Part 2/3

As the scanner reached the back of his neck, it hummed loudly.

Krycek's eyes widened. He realized that the guard was addressing him.
"...your coat off, sir?" He complied, and the guard scanned it.Clean.
"Are you wearing a necklace, sir?" He shook his head, no.

The uniformed man moved in for a closer visual inspection. Krycek stepped
back, suddenly afraid. "I'm sure there's an explanation," he lied,close to
panic. Metal. In the back of my neck. Metal.... He lifted his hands to
his collar, felt around within it, dreading to find the scar, the tiny bump
from an implant....

The sharp pain nearly made him cry out, and he twitched visibly. He fumbled
for a moment, then, as the realization dawned, he had to struggle not to
laugh. He pulled the two straight pins out of his brand-new shirt, and
handed them to the guard. "I'm sorry about that, I guess I didn't checkit
closely enough. I'm lucky I didn't get stuck earlier!" His fake camaraderie
calmed the guard, and the next sweep of the wand declared him clean.

Frohike was already through the checkpoint. He thought he could see her
shoulders heaving, but wasn't sure if it was laughter or relief. He
followed her to their gate.

***************
Dulles Airport
8:03 p.m.
April 24, 1996

She left Krycek to rent the car. Pulling her one piece of checked luggage
off the conveyor, she hauled it into the bathroom and the Handicap
Accessible stall. There, she pulled it open and removed her Walther PPK,
still in its holster. She dropped the magazine, checked the load, then
slapped it smartly back into the butt of the gun. She hesitated, then
chambered a round. She rarely drew her weapon; the work she did on the West
Coast didn't usually call for it. But she was cautious, and it had comein
handy a few times. Besides, Krycek ran with a dangerous crowd, and there
could be trouble.

Tugging her jacket off, she slipped the shoulder rig on, making sure thegun
was safely seated in its usual place. Slipping it back on, and also donning
her trenchcoat, she left the stall, and checked her appearance in the
mirror. Satisfied that she looked like any other harried business-woman,
she rejoined Krycek at the counter just as he was finishing the transaction.
He glanced at her as he slipped the credit card back into his squeaky new
wallet. "Feel better?"

She grinned back, a smile that did not reach her eyes. "Like a newwoman."

***************
Washington, D.C.
9:18 p.m.
April 24, 1996

The door said "Frohike Inc. Bonded Protection - Discreet Investigations-
High-Tech Surveillance". Smaller letters below spelled "Temporamutantur,
et nos mutamur in illis", her favorite Latin phrase [translation inauthor's
notes]. Jiggling her key in the lock, Dylan swung the door in and reached
around to flip the light switch. Her left hand rested inside her jacket,
fingering the body-warmed weapon strapped beneath her arm. Stepping inside
and checking the small bathroom and back office, she relaxed. "It'sOK,
c'mon in."

He was inside the door and closing it before she had finished her sentence.
He waited while she pulled the scanner from the desk and ran it over the
office fixtures. She was slow, and thorough, waiting for the quick buzz
that would announce a surveillance device. The place was clean. Except,of
course, for her own bugs, which the scanner was programmed to bypass. She
just hoped that the competition didn't know her frequency, which was
thankfully short-range, weak, and obscure.

The air was musty and a faint glaze of dust covered the furnishings; she
started the corner fan and turned the AC up slightly. Dragging her suitcase
into the back office, she dropped it on the daybed she kept there, for
longer visits when she wasnít staying with friends. Krycek was already
sprawled on the sofa in the reception area as she sat down behind the front
desk, head pillowed on his brand-new jacket and his shiny new shoes resting
on the arm. She glared at him. Lazy-ass son-of-a-bitch. "So, Chineseor
pizza?" She didn't growl as much as she usually did when talking withhim.
Maybe she was glad to see him. Must be getting soft.

He turned his head sharply when she spoke, then relaxed at the mention of
food. "You decide. Just get a lot of it." He rubbed his foreheadabsently
with one gloved hand, then stared at his fingers more carefully. "Yougot a
first aid kit around here?" He sat up and started tugging the gloveoff.

"Sure, you kidding? I get more papercuts...." She gestured vaguelyat the
bathroom, concentrating on finding a number on the take-out menu. "It'sin
the cabinet." She dialed, stabbing at the numbers. "Yeah, I wantto make
an order for delivery." She fluffed her short hair absently, scratchingher
scalp.

He sighed and stood up, walking into the bathroom. She was definitely not
going to offer any sympathy. He fumbled the medicine cabinet open and
turned the water on. Flipping open the little plastic case was difficult,
but he managed it without tumbling everything into the sink. Peeling off
the brown and yellow bandages, he noticed that while the remaining opencuts
still looked awful, they were at least clean and less swollen than theyhad
been yesterday when Diane.... He rinsed them in cool water, hunting forthe
soap and finding it in the shower stall. God bless D.C. offices. All the
comforts of home. Now if I can just remember where she hides the towels....

***************
Alexandria, VA
First Federal Bank
3:21 p.m.
April 25, 1996

The line waiting for teller service was long, but not too long for a Monday
afternoon. None of the people waiting in line looked too out of place: men
in suits, women in dresses or slacks, a few senior citizens. She queuedup
with the rest, blending smoothly in her dark double-breasted outfit, pausing
a moment to switch her prescription sunglasses for the wire-frames. She
waited patiently, making one-quarter turns every 30 seconds or so, casually
observing the small reception area. Two guards in sight, five cameras
total, three tellers out of four possible. Three desks, all occupied, no
lurkers, no squads in the parking lot. She fumbled in her purse for a pen,
and pressed a button.

A moment later, the revolving door swung. The man who entered went directly
to the customer service station. He was tall, good-looking, and
well-dressed. He smiled easily at the young receptionist as he rested his
briefcase on her desk. "Yes, I'd like to get into my safety depositbox,
please."

The woman in line waited for the next available teller. "I need tomake a
transfer." She signed on the dotted line and filled in the appropriate
amounts. Her transaction went smoothly; a wait, but not too long a wait.
She reviewed her receipt briefly, then smiled at the employee. "Thislooks
great. Thanks for your help." She folded the slip of paper and headedfor
the exit.

Her seatbelt was securely fastened, and she kept the rental car running
until he joined her, briefcase in hand. She was pulling out even as he
closed the door. Scanning the vehicles in the parking lot, she turned
sharply into traffic as he stowed the attachÈ behind her seat. Hegrabbed
her headrest to steady himself. "Slow down, Frohike, we don't wantto
attract attention."

"Krycek, this is how I usually drive. If the locals see me drivinglike a
little old lady, they'll *know* something's wrong." She swung the vehicle
into a steep left turn, barely clearing the intersection. An oncoming car
honked at her, and she flipped the driver the bird across Krycek's lap.
"Was it still there?"

He grinned and pulled a data cartridge out of his breast pocket. "We'll
need to check it back at the office...*your* office," he remedied,seeing
her glare, "but it doesn't look like it's been tampered with."He slid it
back under his coat. "See, I told you this would work."

She snorted. Who told who? she wondered tartly, but knew better than to
bring it up.

***************
Washington, D.C.
6:38 p.m.
April 25, 1996

Frohike booted her PC as Krycek toed his shoes off and flopped onto the
couch. His back still ached from the cramped and inadequate sleep he'd
gotten on it the night before. "You need a TV in here," he commented."I
could watch 'da game'."

She scowled, preoccupied. "This is an *office*, Krycek. It's intendedfor
*work*." She busied herself with the startup procedure while he closedhis
eyes and sighed. Some people just have no sense of humor. "Give itto me."

He levered himself upright and walked towards her desk. With a steady hand,
he pulled the cartridge from his pocket, holding it out to her She slipped
it into the external drive and they waited. Frohike's teeth clacked
nervously, and Krycek picked at the scabs on his palms. The drive whirred
and ticked. They waited.

When the drive directory came up, they both sucked air as if they had been
holding their breaths. She clicked a few commands, and information started
scrolling across the screen. Krycek pumped his fist and belted out a small
victory whoop, while Frohike just ran her fingers through her short hair,
grinning.

He sat back down on the couch, relieved. When Frohike and he had first
formed their tentative alliance, she had insisted on making some kind of
backup of the digital tape. His regular avenues of support were cut off
when he "quit" the Consortium, so it was up to her and her technical
expertise. When normal methods failed, she went to her shadow sources.
Even they could not be bought, bribed or begged to copy that tape.

So, they had fallen back on the simplest expedient available - dumb brute
force. Frohike had spent almost a month working with the tape, printing
screen dump after screen dump of top-secret encrypted government
information. The hard copy was over 20,000 pages, and had occupied mostof
the back room of her L.A. office. Then, she had painstakingly scanned each
sheet back into soft copy. This tape was the result.

The Philosopher's Stone of paranormal and extraterrestrial phenomena - UFO
sites, foo-fighter schematics, alien DNA research findings, implant
engineering, every piece of data the governments of the world had collected
and compiled over the past 50 years. Krycek had no idea why they had
decided to take the risks of storing it all in one place, or why they had
translated it into Navajo code-talk. But he knew its importance, and he
knew that possessing that DAT tape had ensured his safety from the
Consortium killers who had already made one attempt on his life.

He didn't know how it happened, but somewhere in the void of memory between
Hong Kong and North Dakota, he had lost it. Oh, he had no proof, hadn't
even checked the anonymous locker where he had been storing it. But now,he
had tangled once again with the Consortium. The assassins had come for him
after a long recess, and he knew that his trump card was somehow forfeit.

Now all that could protect him was money, and his excellent evasive skills.
That, and Frohike's unique linguistic talent. He glanced at the copy ofher
undergraduate diploma, framed and discreetly displayed above the desk.
"University of New Mexico, Albuquerque - Bachelors Degree in Social
Anthropology" it said. What it didn't say was that after four yearsin the
arid Southwest, working with the Hopi and Navajo cultures, Frohike was one
of a handful of non-native speakers of fluent Navajo.

Her senior thesis had been on code-talking and encryption techniques ofthe
military during WWII. She had gone on to more machine-oriented studies,
working with neural networks and computer simulations of the brain, buther
passion was for encryption. Recruited by the Army during her second yearof
graduate school at MIT, she had pulled a grueling three-year tour working
alongside the CIA in surveillance of international data traffic, tryingto
keep the world "safe for lies, injustice, and the American way,"as she
sarcastically drawled it. Considering her conspiratorial family (about
which Krycek knew little, but enough) it was no surprise that she had
refused a hefty re-enlistment bonus and started her own company.

He remembered when he first met her, at the deathbed of his Czech
grandfather. She had made him a veiled offer, and he was paranoid enough
that it had taken him two weeks of following her before he took her up on
it. Their first "business" meeting had established the patternfor their
entire relationship. He was suspicious, she was cutting and arrogant, they
were both greedy, and they sniped at each other whenever possible. But she
was a demon at translating those files, having found a puzzle worthy ofher
not-inconsiderable skills, and he knew well how to broker those secretsto
their best advantage.

Kallenchuk had been a mistake, he knew that now. A weak link, and like any
weak link she had snapped under pressure. He had enough contacts now to
cash in on these files directly. Soon he wouldn't even need Frohike.

He snapped his head forward with a start. He was falling asleep sittingup,
and had a sore neck to prove it. His stomach growled softly. It was getting
late, and he hadn't eaten since lunch. Besides, he was still making up for
those hungry days down below - he shook the memory away. Frohike was still
engrossed in the files on-screen; her intensity was frightening.

In the months she had been working on translating the files, she had been
neglecting her usual clientele of wealthy land-barons and mid-level
entertainment flacks, eager to protect their estates from the savages who
formed the underclass as well as from the more subtle efforts of their
peers' machiavellian intrigues. The tape was an addiction now. He had
moved the hard copies to another location and guarded the original tapeas
well as the pasted-together copy, not wanting her to have unrestricted
access to the information. He wanted her to need him, just as he needed
her. It was only fair.

She flicked a glance at him as he rose and headed for the bathroom. He
paused in the doorway, and she switched her attention to him expectantly.
"Hey, what say we go get something to eat? I'm starving."

She glanced regretfully at the screen, then tilted her chair back, massaging
her neck muscles. "Yeah, I'm up for that. I can order Chinese again..."

He pouted. "I think this deserves a celebration. Come on, a littlewine,
some candlelight, a little dancing...." He lifted an eyebrow invitinglyat her.

She scowled at him. "Krycek, how many times do I have to tell you,you're
not my type." But she pushed her chair away from the desk and started
shutting down the PC. He grinned and closed the bathroom door.

When he came out, she was ready to go. A wine-colored silk blouse over a
short black skirt, with a cropped black jacket and tasteful gold jewelry.He
blinked - how did she do that? The jacket camouflaged her weight-lifters
shoulders, and the cropped length accentuated her waist, giving the illusion
of slenderness. There was even makeup on beneath her glasses. Sensible
shoes, and she certainly had a handgun in that handbag. He felt naked
without a weapon, but he knew better than to ask her for one. He beamedat
her and buttoned his suit jacket. "Honey, you look wonderful."He touched
the small of her back lightly, gesturing towards the door with his otherhand.

A moment's pause, then she smiled sweetly. "Thank you, *dear*."She tilted
her head coyly and leaned in close to straighten his tie. God, she even
smelled wonderful. He lifted his hands toward her waist, but she laid hers
on his forearms, forestalling the movement. "Oh look, *sweetheart*,you
have a thread. Now hold still," and she pulled a long folding knifefrom
somewhere. She flicked it open one-handed, inches from his now-frozen face.
Her breath was warm on his neck as she expertly wielded the sharp steel,
neatly severing the offending fiber. She stepped back and he exhaled asshe
rolled the filament between thumb and forefinger, letting it fall lightlyto
the floor. She smiled again, a wicked gleam in her eye. "Shall we go?
I'll drive." He got the hint and followed her out the door withoutanother
word.

*********
Bedlam, MD
7:35 p.m.
April 25, 1996

Sallah's was a steakhouse, and made no apologies for the fact. The only
greens served here were the parsley garnishes and the olives in the
martinis. Frohike had called for reservations, but there was still a short
wait, which they decided to take at the bar.

They each ordered a beer, then sat at the counter in silence. This was the
awkward part - trying to discuss business in such a crowded place was
near-impossible, and it had been clear from the beginning that neither of
them wanted to get to know the other. Small-talk was all they had, and
there was only so much weather you could talk about. He was relieved when
she excused herself, and proceeded to survey the pretty young things
clustered around a table in back - looks like a 21st birthday, he thought.
Maybe I should volunteer as a gift.

A rush of air alerted him to someone sitting down beside him. "Well,well,
Marlowe, look what we have here."

The voice was loud, and confident, and familiar. Krycek froze. Turning
slowly, he met the sneer of the whip-thin man who had just slid onto the
stool to his right. "Well, if it isn't the boy voted least likely toget
blown by the age of 30," he replied. "Hartly, you're looking downright
sickly. Still not getting any? I told you to take your mother up on her
offer..." The flush that answered his comment was worth the sure, sick
knowledge that as soon as they were alone, Hartly would ram a heel intohis
balls. Just for fun, of course; killing was another matter altogether. A
Consortium matter.

He turned to his left, knowing that Marlowe would be there, and was not
disappointed. His smile was forced, but he hoped it looked genuine. Never
let them see you sweat. "Marlowe, you still fucking Hartly here? Youknow,
a little Crazy Glue and he'll be tight as a virgin for you again."The thug
revealed no expression. Marlowe never did. Unless he was killing someone.
Then he blinked. Sometimes.

Hartly smirked again. "This must be my lucky day. We stop for a biteto
eat, and come up with a whopper, eh Marlowe?" Nothing from the otherman.
"Yeah, I'm going to have you stuffed and mount you on the wall."

Krycek swigged his beer. "I'd rather you mounted me on the bed, thewall's
a bit hard on my knees."

Hartly's hand lifted, and Krycek leaned forward with a feral grin, thrusting
himself into the other man's face, hissing, "go ahead, Hartly, starta
fight. Hit me, man, make me bleed. And every motherfucker in this bar will
remember your face, and mine." He was starting to sweat, dammit. Hehated
to sweat like this.

Hartly stood, controlling himself with visible effort. "Marlowe, getthe
car, and bring it around back. The boy and I are going out for a little
lesson before we go for a drive." Hartly smiled evilly at him, onehand
hidden beneath his coat. "There are people who will be very interestedin
what you have to say."

END A Marriage of Inconvenience Part 2/3

Colleen C. Bailey
"You can't aim to kill when you're laughing"
ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu


From ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu Sat Oct 26 19:19:52 1996
A Marriage of Inconvenience Part 3/3

Rated R for language and violence. You've been warned.

Hartly stood, controlling himself with visible effort. "Marlowe, getthe
car, and bring it around back. The boy and I are going out for a little
lesson before we go for a drive." Hartly smiled evilly at him, onehand
hidden beneath his coat. "There are people who will be very interestedin
what you have to say."

*********
The alley was dark, of course. It must be in the rulebook somewhere -
alleys must be dark and smelly, with liberal scatterings of inadequate cover
material and the token homeless person with DT's. Krycek couldn't spot the
guy, but the rest of the lane fit the profile, so he figured he must be
around somewhere.

"Turn around." The voice behind him was distinct, yet quiet. Heturned
slowly to face the man who arranged for the fatal accidents so common to
enemies of the Consortium.

Damn, he wanted a gun, if only to kill himself before Hartly could messhim
up too bad. He'd seen what the guy was capable of, and was suddenly gladhe
hadn't had his meal yet. "Say, Hartly, you better not fuck me beforeyou
hand me over. You know how protective the big boys are of their
perquisites. RHIP, you know." The bricks beneath his hands were coldand
damp, and he shivered.

Hartly sneered. Christ, didn't the guy have any other expression? "They're
not going to have the opportunity to find out how slack your ass is,
Krycek." He pulled a silenced Glock from beneath his coat. "They'dprefer
you dead over alive, so that's what they're going to get. I'm just sorryI
don't have more time to spend getting you there."

Krycek didn't think his hopes had any further to fall. This proved him
wrong. "You said you were taking me to the Consortium. You said theyhad
questions to ask me." Damn. His voice had cracked on that last phrase.

Hartly sighted down the barrel at him. "I lied. I like to watch you
squirm, Krycek, you're very gullible. So, do you want the bullet in the
head, or the back?"

Facing Mulder hadn't been this bad. After the first shock of meeting himin
the Hong Kong airport, he had seen in his former partner's face that he
would not kill him. Could not - he was not a killer. He had even smiledat
Mulder, safe in that knowledge. He could not smile at this man. He would
not waste his last precious moment on a useless expression.

Time was proceeding glacially. Everything was so distinct, so vivid - the
dumpster on his right was a citadel of rotting food and stale beer, andthe
smell of urine from impatient patrons drifting across everything. If he
moved, he might cut himself on the razor-edged shadows cast by the dim light
above the bar's back door. He felt a flash of regret - of all the last
sights he might see, an alley was not what he would have picked. He heard
the faint premonitory click as the squeezed trigger pulled the hammer back
on the double-action cannon pointed at his gut. And fell.

He heard the pt* pt* pt* of three silenced shots, and his muscles tightened
as adrenaline flooded his system. Falling back into the clammy brick wall,
he waited for the pain, the immobility, the darkness to engulf him. He
floated up, sideways.... No. This is all wrong. I'm not moving, it's
*him*.... The man before him shifted, forward and down, slumping gracelessly
onto the filthy pavement. Ten feet beyond the motionless body, glowing in
the faint illumination, was Frohike.

Her glasses were gone. Her nose was bleeding and there was the beginningof
a bruise on her cheek, just below her left eye. Her blouse was ripped, and
one shoulder gleamed whitely beneath the thin burgundy fabric. The black
skirt was hiked up around her thighs; her nylons were shredded, and blood
dripped down the side of one leg. Her lips were pulled back tightly from
clenched teeth, her eyes were wide, the irises rimmed with white, and her
whole body was visibly trembling. Except her hands. Her gloved hands were
tightly wrapped around the butt of a rock-solid SIG Sauer.

She was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.

He gulped in a deep breath, mentally shook himself and glanced down the
alley, in both directions. No-one. He pushed himself upright off the wall,
feeling the cold graininess of the brick scraping the healing cuts on his
fingers. Stooping slowly, fighting a wave of dizziness, he rolled his
would-be executioner over. The body had been shot three times in a classic
sniper's triangle: throat, heart and gut. Blood was beginning to soak
through the front of the suit; Krycek dropped the weight to the ground,then
felt for a pulse. Nothing. He grinned, suddenly exhilarated, and turnedto
Frohike to congratulate her on her aim.

She was still standing immobile, gun pointed at the pile of cooling meatat
his feet. "Frohike?" Her eyes were blank, and she chewed rhythmicallyat
her lip, increasing the flow of blood down her chin. Oh, shit, she's inshock.

He took a slow step toward her, fingers spread wide before him.
"Frohike..." He stepped to one side and reached out a hand tocover hers,
gently pushing her aim down. She did not react, didn't even resist the
pressure of his grip. Bringing his other hand up beneath her clenched
fists, he worked the gun side to side, gradually pulling it from her grasp.
The metal left her hands, breaking the spell. Her nostrils flared, and she
heaved a silent breath, squeezing her eyes shut as her fingers closed on
empty air. Her hands pulled back until they were bent up at her shoulders.
Her face was so pale it looked blue. "Frohike, we have to go."

She slowly dropped her arms to her sides, fists still clamped tight. Her
head wobbled slightly as she turned to him. She blinked hard. Swallowed.
He watched the muscles in her cheeks writhe as she ground her teeth. He
tried again. "C'mon, we've got to go. His partner'll be here any minute."
He tried to move her towards the entrance of the alleyway.

She stared at him, a frighteningly empty smile pulling at the corner ofher
bloodied mouth. "No. He won't."

Krycek took in her battered face, the torn blouse, and looked at the gunhe
had taken from her grasp. The gun that was not hers. Felt his gut
flip-flop. And tugged at her arm again. "We've got to get out of here
before anyone sees us."

"Leave the gun." He knew her well enough not to contest that order.He
pulled out his shirt tail and wiped his prints off the murder weapon
carefully. Bending to lay it down, he picked up the heavy Glock and tucked
it into the back of his waistband. Hartly didn't need it anymore. Glancing
up, he saw her sway. He stood, up and into her with both arms around her
waist, supporting her.

He had thought she was at her limit but she stiffened at his touch, then
seemed to force herself to relax slightly. At least her knees were bending
again. She caught a breath, then shook him off. Sparing a final glance at
the body before them, she spun on one foot and, without a word, marchedout
of the alley. He sighed heavily, running both hands through his hair, then
followed her.

She had already started the car when he caught up to her. Her handbag was
on the passenger seat, with her black jacket folded neatly across it; he
pushed them to the floor as he slid in. He wanted to drive, was afraid of
her focused silence and stony visage, but her hands were steady, gloves
whispering epitaphs on the wheel as she pulled out into traffic and turned
them toward her office.

He used the armrest controls to roll both windows down, needing the cold
night air to steady himself, cool his nerves. He was a little shocky
himself, he realized. He had faced death again. And again returned,
unscathed. He shuddered and leaned further away from her, into the chilly
breeze of their passage.

She was a robot behind the wheel, obeying all traffic laws, stopping forthe
yellows and yielding the right-of-way at intersections. It wasn't until
they were safely parked in the underground lot of her building that she
seemed to lose functionality. She sat. And stared. And sat.

He jumped out of the car and crossed behind it to open her door, mindfulof
the security camera three stalls down. He had seen people react like this
before. When he had made *his* first hit, he had been like this. Luis had
helped him then; he knew what he had to do now.

He leaned in over her to release the safety belt. There was an odd smell.
Had she pissed herself? He looked down, then jumped back, cracking his head
on the inside of the door. "Oh, Christ...." The front of her bodywas
smeared with blood and clotted gore; the maroon blouse and black skirt had
camouflaged the filth, but the damage was obvious in the stark artificial
light of the parking ramp. "What happened to you?" He rubbed theback of
his neck ruefully.

She looked down at herself, then tilted her head up shakily at him. "I
couldn't shoot him, Krycek, his partner would have heard me. Would have
shot you. So I snuck up behind him. I had to..." she made an awkward
stabbing motion with her hand. "I had to...." She repeated hergesture,
and again. The action became sharper, harder, faster, until she was
pounding the steering wheel with her fist, shaking the column, causing the
whole car to tremble with the force of her blows. "I had to..."Tears had
painted mascara tracks down her cheeks, but all that moved was her arm,
slamming her clenched fingers over and over into the unyielding plastic.

Krycek reached in, grabbing her hand. She didn't seem to notice, slamming
their combined fist against the wheel. He had to throw his full weight into
the handclasp to block her motion. She finally felt him pushing and
stopped, breathing open-mouthed, not looking at him. He pulled her keys
from the ignition and dropped them into his own pocket, then thought about
the best way to get her out of the car and upstairs and into the office.

He slid his hands in on either side of her rigid torso, then ran them down
her legs. Her left leg was still damp with blood, but she didn't move when
he touched the worst spot. Lifting just under the knees, he swiveled her
around by brute force and placed her feet on the oil-spotted concrete floor.
Pulling her right arm to him, he rested it on his shoulder. "Grab mearound
the neck, Frohike." He repeated it twice before he felt her fingersdig in.

Leaning back and pushing with his legs, he stood up and lifted her withhim,
protecting her head with one hand and guiding her with the other, leaning
her against the car frame as he stood back. The tang of blood and shit
nearly overwhelmed him. Christ, Frohike, you must have gutted him like a
deer. Nauseated, he considered his options.

Grasping the tear in her blouse, he yanked sharply with both hands. The
thin silk parted easily at the seams, and in no time he had it in piecesin
his hands. She hadn't even flinched. He didn't like this; she should be
reacting to the cold, at least. It was maybe 50 degrees down here. She
wasn't wearing a bra, and her nipples didn't even harden. She was
definitely in deep shock.

He used the cleaner side of the scraps to wipe her face. The nosebleed had
stopped, and the dried blood cracked off easily; she would pass muster if
they could avoid a direct confrontation. He brushed the worst of the mess
from her skin and skirt, then tucked the fabric into her skirt pocket. He
peeled off her gloves too, and crammed them in as well. The skirt was
ruined anyway. He couldn't do anything about that leg, but her nylons were
dark, and they didn't have far to go.

He slipped his suit jacket off and awkwardly stuffed her arms into it.
"Come on, Frohike, we can't have you walking past the security cameraslike
this, can we?" He fastened the double-breasted front, satisfied thatit
would pass a casual inspection. His own shirt and tie were spotless, andhe
turned her carefully, pointing her towards the elevator. "Here we go,back
up to the office, we'll get you a shower, and everything will be cool."He
tried to believe that himself. The weight of the Glock at the small of his
back did little to reassure him.

He had to reach around her awkwardly for the office keys; they were stillin
his jacket pocket, and on her right side. He finally got them out and
jangled the door open, cursing every tiny metallic sound that seemed toring
out in the echoing hallway. Shoving her in ahead of himself, he swung the
door shut and flipped the lights on.

She flinched in the overhead glare. Her feet were planted widely, toes
pointed in. She held her elbows out by her sides as if afraid to let her
arms touch her body; her fists were clenched. Her head and shoulders were
thrust forward and down, as if she could escape notice by shrinking into
herself.

He took a step towards her. She jerked backwards, turning her head to stare
sideways at him. "I'm fine."

He snorted. "Yeah, you look like it."

He took another step, and she backed off again. Her shoulders straightened,
and a shadow of the old Frohike emerged in her stubborn chin. "No,I just
need a shower and a cup of coffee. I'm fine, Krycek. I want to take a
shower now."

He stared at her in disbelief, then recognized what was happening. She
needed control. She was embarrassed, and confused, and frightened of what
had just happened. Of what she had just become. Of what she had just
relinquished.

So he gave it to her. "OK, give me two minutes in there, then it'sall
yours." And closed the door firmly behind himself. And locked it.

When he came out a few minutes later, hands and face damp and tie unknotted,
she was sitting naked on the edge of the sofa. There was a pile of clean
clothes neatly folded beside her. He was surprised, and tried to hide it;
she made no move to cover herself, didn't seem to even notice him. The
bruise under her eye was noticeably swollen now; she would have one hellof
a shiner in the morning. The gash on her leg extended up onto her hip, and
looked horrible, as if she had been savaged by a wild animal.

He avoided looking into her pinched face. "All yours...I'll be surfingfor
a while if you need anything." Strolling into the back office, he flipped
on the power strip for the second PC and fell into the chair.

He waited for the sound of the shower starting before relaxing enough to
access the Web, then proceeded to lose himself. Another night on the couch,
then he'd be on a plane to somewhere else. Another deal, another million.
He shook his head in disbelief as he relaxed into the fantasy world of the
Internet. His snotty, computer-geek partner had just taken out two
Consortium-trained killers, one with only a pocket knife. *And* saved his
ass. Again. He sighed. The honeymoon was over.

END A Marriage of Inconvenience 3/3

*********
IMPORTANT: This takes place *after* Piper Maru and Apocrypha. It is oneof
a series I've been doing on Alex Krycek: Misericordia, Finder's Keepers,
Loosers Weepers, A Marriage of Inconvenience, and The Kindness of Strangers
(in that order). It know it may be inconvenient, but if you're a hard-core
Rat-fan it's worth the effort (IMHO) of finding them on-line or archived.
One of these days I'll come up with a good "arc" title to filethem all
under as I, II, III, etc, but until then you'll just have to check undermy
name in the archives for the stories I've written.

For the non-Latin inclined, "Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis"
means "times change, and we change with them".

RHIP stands for Rank Hath Its Privileges.

Please send comments, positive, negative, whatever, to
ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu. I LOVE NITPICKS! If you spot an inconsistency
in the plot, a mismatched pronoun-verb set, anything, PLEASE let me know!
Help me become a better writer!

Colleen C. Bailey
"You can't aim to kill when you're laughing"
ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu