Title: Wistful
Author: drovar
Email address: drovar@mediaone.net
Rating: PG
Date: 4/18/00
Archive: Gossamer: No, Others please let me know where Summary: Spender/Krycek. A writing exercise created for the Spenderfic list. Spender is as the title says, wistful. I think you can guess whom he's wistful for. Disclaimers: All characters herein are property of FOX and 1013. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made from this work.
Notes: Thanks to BethLynn, Shael and Lopsided for read through and comments.

 

They say that it's always darkest right before the dawn. I guess that's a metaphor or something because it's hours before dawn and sitting up here on the roof, looking out at the stars, I just don't think the night sky could get any darker. Not that there's no light in the sky. There are stars enough to wish on, more than enough to conjure up meaning from the random patterns. This far from civilization it seems that there are more stars than empty sky sometimes. But all the stars burning in that vast uncaring coldness just seem to make the darkness all the deeper.

The softest scuff, hardly a sound at all draws my attention to the roofline. It's Alex. I barely hear the soft pad of his bare feet as he clamors up from the balcony and crosses the roof towards me. That's something that Alex has never lost. He still has that facile grace; even hampered by his injuries, all these years later he moves quieter than any man I've ever known. That used to scare me.

"You're brooding again, Jeffrey," he says as he sits down beside me. He's near soundless, nothing but the rustle of his blue jeans betrays his presence.

Jeffrey . . . he only calls me that when he's serious, or lecturing . . . "for your own good" and all that. . . Usually it's Jeff, or Jeffy if he's being playful, and yeah that happens sometimes. If he's ticked or frustrated it's just Spender, and yeah that happens sometimes too.

"It's cold out here tonight," he adds.

There's a subtle note of criticism in his voice. He's right. I shouldn't be out here in just jeans and a T-shirt. I catch cold easily these days; get tired from little effort and my immune system is pretty much a lay-about. After my Father's nearly successful attempt at murder, I woke up here delirious from the pain and infection. Alex nursed me back to a semblance of wholeness if not health. It's a hard knock life.

"I'm fine," I say staring up at the stars. "It's not that cold."

I can hear his breathing pause for a moment. He knows I'm wrong, but he keeps himself from telling me so. Instead he leans back against the roof and uncurls his long legs, stretching like a cat, all grace and poise. I turn to watch as he slips his hand beneath his shirt and loosens the straps and buckles that remind him again and again of what he's lost. I watch his hand, barely visible under the faded cotton cloth. First is the top strap, the one that has worn a hard callous across his chest, then the middle buckle, and with the soft sigh of a man setting down a burden, the lower buckle, just above his belt.

"Do you ever miss it Alex?" I ask and listen to the nighttime chorus of insects, frogs and night birds. It's almost an alien world to a city boy, born so close to the steel and glass canyons of DC. It's a different life here in upstate Vermont; it's a barely tamed, nearly wild place.

I look over as he turns to me, and I swear I can see the stars reflected in his eyes.

"Nah," he says as he pulls his hand from his shirt and sticks it out in front of him, wiggling his fingers. "I've got another."

I run the back of my hand over my mouth and try not to laugh. Alex has an unexpected humor as dark as the night we're sharing.

"I meant the city, the hustle, the activity, the energy?"

"The noise, the pollution, the junkies, the derelicts, the international conspiracies at the highest levels of government and industry. Nope, don't miss that much at all," he replies.

There's a grim sort of mirth in his voice that I used to think was bitterness.

I lean back as well, letting my shoulder brush his. I know he can feel the contact through his prosthesis, but not the touch, just the pressure of another body against his. There's some comfort in human contact, however distant we strive to remain. The stars slowly wheel and turn as we watch them without speaking for a very long time. There's nothing but the night, with its sounds and starlit shadows between us.

"Look," Alex says eventually, pointing off into the sky. "There's Cassiopeia." His fingers trace a wide 'W' in the air, following the constellation's dim pattern. I follow his hand as it slides across the starry background pointing out another constellation. "And there's the big Dipper, Ursa Major."

I close my eyes and lay there listening to his voice as he names the constellations. Some of the names I remember, some I wonder if he's making up. Eventually he falls back to silence, and I finally ask the question I already know the answer to.

"You're leaving tomorrow aren't you?" I cringe at the petulance of my own voice.

"I have to," he says and sighs. He sounds contrite, like a husband explaining to his young wife why she can't join him for a business trip. I almost expect him to add, "You'd just be bored."

I don't ask him what he does or where the money comes from, though there always seem to be enough of it. Considering the size of this old house, deep in the backwoods of Northern Vermont, I figure he's got a lot of it.

He disappears for weeks at a time, no contact no messages, just a vague admonition to stay around the house and "be careful." I've decided not to ask who or what I'm supposed to be careful of. I don't want to know what frightens Alex Krycek.

I remember the first time he left. I'd been out of bed and moving around for a few weeks, I was a bit stronger, and the worst of the pain and fatigue had subsided. Alex had insisted that I'd never leave my sick bed if I didn't do it then. "It's now or never Jeffrey." I remember him saying. He told me from experience that it would only get harder the longer I lay there. I almost didn't listen.

The first few days were horrific; I couldn't sit up without a wave of nausea. I quickly learned what morning sickness must feel like. You don't know vertigo till you've spent a few months horizontal. With nurse Alex's help however, I managed to struggle to my feet for a few seconds. Within a week I was walking short distances, if only to my sick room chair and back. I don't know which of us was happier.

He took his first of many business trips two weeks later. I don't know if he still works for my Father. Hell, I don't even know if the murderous bastard is still alive. I hope not. If he's not dead he will be and I'll be charged with patricide.

My Mother is still alive, I'm certain, despite what Kersh told me, though she remains an enigma, even to me. I know she's back out there somewhere in that starry cold vastness. Yeah, I believe her now, I believe a lot of things I never thought possible, and reject a lot I once thought were clear hard truth. A dissolving alien and a bullet to the gut can reorient your belief systems in a hurry.

Wherever my Mother is, I suspect she's happier now.

But back to Alex and me; back to this fine cold starry night. I'd like to say that we parted that first time on good terms, that it was simple and clean, it wasn't. I was standing at the kitchen stove scrambling eggs; it's about the only thing I know how to cook. His kitchen, his stove, his eggs. I was even dressed in his castoffs. Jeans that slung low on my hips, kept in place by one of Alex's belts, pierced with extra holes, and cinched tight. One of his T-shirts, the blue one with a goofy big-eyed alien on it, flashing a peace sign, practically swallowed me. I looked like a scarecrow, a tall lanky boy caught in his father's clothes. Apparently Alex liked what he saw.

I heard him enter through the garage door, into the mudroom. I listened as he shucked his boots and coat and then dumped a load of split logs into the tinderbox next to the old river-stone fireplace in the living room.

I turned back to the stove and continued stirring. Like I said, scrambled eggs are about only thing I know how to cook, and I wasn't going to mess these up. It was a struggle but I was determined to finish what I started. I was going to prove I wasn't a total invalid. Even if it was just scrambled eggs and toast, it was proof enough.

I was about to offer Alex breakfast when his arm folded around me, and before I could react, his body pressed hard against mine. It was amazing how strong he felt, with a good-sized hint of danger. I suddenly felt vulnerable, weak and a little scared. I had a sickening realization of my own fragility, bolstered by my own frailness next to Alex's sturdiness. He could physically hurt me, so easily and in so many ways.

When his hand slid under my shirt and his lips found the base of my neck I realized that hurting me wasn't at all what Alex had in mind. I guess it shouldn't have come as such a surprise. I'd known about Alex's casual bisexuality for a long while. It wasn't something he'd ever hidden or been anything but up front about. But somehow I never considered myself as part of that equation. Yeah I can be a little naive, even gullible, my father and my former partner Diana Fowley proved that well enough. There'll be two deaths on my head if I ever get the chance.

"Alex please," I said with rising desperation. He was so strong, with a rangy-muscled arm that seemed to loop and drape around me like a python. I was suddenly aware, and afraid, of how easily he could take what he wanted -- by force if he had to. "This isn't . . . I'm not . . ." I stammered wildly, while struggling weakly in his grasp. My heart fluttered in my chest like a caged wild bird.

He released me with a jerk and sprang back wide-eyed and leopard- like.

"I . . . I'm sorry." he blurted out. He looked almost stricken with embarrassment, all poise gone. He stammered out another apology and stepped back. He bumped into the kitchen table and nearly sent himself toppling over a chair.

"It's okay Alex," I said as I turned my attention back to breakfast. "It was nothing, forget about it," I added, trying to convince myself almost as much as him.

He was silent for a moment, and then spoke in a rush. He was going away he said. It was urgent, important and sudden. I cut the heat to the eggs and turned, only to find him gone. I moved as quickly as I could to the front window of the house, his car was already gone. Like I said, he's a smooth mover. So, I sat at the table, eating a double order of eggs, and toast and pondering what it meant. I didn't see Alex again for nearly three weeks.

We picked up again where we left off. Alex playing nursemaid and task master both.

"It'll be summer soon," he says, pulling me back to the present. "You'll be stronger then."

I'll be stronger, yes that's true. And what do I do then? Alex saved my life. No that's wrong, Alex has given me life. What do I do? How do I say no?

"Yes, summer," I murmur in the cold night air, "I'll be stronger then."

[End]