TITLE: "Midnight Angel X: Paradise Lost" (1/1)

AUTHOR: Isahunter

RATING: PG

CATEGORY: V, WIP, Krycek/Other (No slash)

SPOILERS: Up to "One Son," S6 (Specifically "Patient X")

TIMELINE: Set in the winter of '99, but in this story the events of the episode "Biogenesis" never occurred.

ARCHIVE: Yes, with my name and all headers attached

FEEDBACK: Isahunter@aol.com

DISCLAIMER: Although the other characters are of my own creation, all characters from "The X-Files" belong to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen, Fox. No infringement intended.

SUMMARY: Time flies when the world is coming to an end.

NOTE: This is a continuation of the "Midnight Angel" series, available at the eXpositions web site: http://www.aliens.mcmail.com/isadiadem/

For Alli, for graciously filling the shoes of my vacationing beta girls. Thanks!

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"The true paradises are paradises we have lost."

--Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

Hell couldn't have been far off. Stuffed into a tiny seat between jabbering tourists and a little old lady that smelled like she'd bathed in perfume, Alex closed his eyes in agony. His brain was throbbing, he hadn't slept in days, and it would be nearly half a day before the plane arrived in Moscow. He had to take a piss, but couldn't move more than in inch in any direction. He was anxious to be on the ground again, in a hurry to reach his destination and finish his business so he could get back home. Jesus. He hadn't really ever thought of the place as home before, and it wouldn't remain so for long. The only slight bit of comfort the city had ever brought him was because of...her.

Good God. He really was tired.

Blocking out the sound of the engines, the endless drone of the man next to him, and the obnoxious in-flight movie, he tried like hell to fall asleep.

Four hours later, with the sound of her laughter echoing in his mind, he actually succeeded.

Standing in her kitchen, holding his coffee cup in two hands, Johnny met Sabryn's gaze and laughed out loud. After telling him the entire story of the plans for invasion, as she knew it, his laughter was the last thing she'd expected to hear.

"You've got to be kidding me."

She looked away, shaking her head slightly, plucking at the strings hanging from her cut-off jeans.

"Bryn, you just met this man, and yet you're ready to believe every word he tells you? That's not the smart little sister I know."

"He didn't lie to me, Johnny."

"How the hell do you know? This guy followed you home. You told me yourself that you've told your abduction story to people on-line...how do you know this guy didn't find out your story and decide to use it to manipulate you?"

"What the hell for?"

"I don't know. Some of these guys just get off on screwing with women's heads." He set down his mug, and crossed his arms. "Did you give out your address to any of these people you talked to?"

"No, of course not."

"Have you given it to anyone else who knows your story?"

"John, you aren't listening to me. He's telling the truth. I know it. I remember."

He didn't say a word for a while. When he finally did, his voice was lowered to a whisper, almost as if afraid he might be overheard. "What do you remember?"

"It's choppy. Fragmented. But when he told me about the invasion, I remembered hearing about it before. It was like deja-vu. Only stronger."

"Have you had more dreams?"

"I haven't slept since then."

"Jesus, Bryn, no wonder you're ready to believe this shit. You're probably delirious."

"I'm fine, God damn it, and stop treating me like a seven-year-old! Why can't you just believe me? I'm not a liar, and you know I wouldn't tell you something like this unless I believed it was true."

"What you believe, and what you've seen for yourself are two different things."

"You know, you're the last person I ever would have compared to Daddy, until now."

She started to walk away from him, her hands fisted in the hem of her well-worn baseball jersey, when he grabbed her arm. "Wait a minute. I didn't say I didn't believe you."

Her sudden laughter made him scowl. "You didn't have to."

"Look what you're asking of me, Bryn. Just because a man believes in God, it doesn't mean he's ready to face Armageddon. I have always believed you. I just need a little time to rectify this."

"We don't have time. You either accept it, or you don't." He sighed heavily, running his hand through his already mussed hair. It was more than obvious that he didn't want to believe a word she said. But she didn't really want to believe it, either.

"All right...so what do we do?"

She felt like kissing him. "We need supplies. Lots of them. Can Carly get them from her store?"

"Jesus, I didn't even think about telling Caroline. I don't want her stressed out with the baby..."

"She's a lot stronger than you think."

He turned to look at the paintings lying on the floor. "When I first walked in here, I thought your imagination was working over time. I thought those paintings were just meant to sell to a certain audience...not that they were real."

"I wish they weren't."

"What are you going to do with them?"

"Sell them. I have to. We need the money to get supplies."

"What kind of supplies?"

"Food, clothes, bedding, guns..."

"Guns? Are you talking about fighting these...things?"

"That's the idea."

He shook his head, laughing without a trace of humor. "This is really fucked up." Before she could reply, he continued. "All right, let's call Mom and Dad."

Maybe being destroyed by aliens wasn't such a horrible fate after all. "I, um--I need your help with something first. I need to convince Maxine to give me an advance on the sale of these paintings."

"You're stalling, Bryn."

"You're damned right, I am."

"And what makes you think this Maxine will give you an advance?"

"That's where you come in."

She gave him a sly smile.

Sabryn bit her lip, trying desperately not to laugh as she pushed open the door to the Divine Salon. The worn cedar floor below her feet did nothing to muffle her footsteps as she walked through the spacious gallery, but no one was paying any attention to her. Those that weren't admiring the art work were busy catering to the needs of one particular patron. A man who had recently acquired new wealth that was just burning a hole in his pocket. A man whose daughter had just been accepted to a very prestigious dance school, and whom was looking for just the right gift to surprise her with. Or so he'd have them believe.

Sabryn watched the less than subdued performance her brother was putting on, and cringed. If Maxine ever believed this hoax, it would be a miracle.

"Just what sort of art does your daughter like, Mr. Pruitt?" "Well now, that's just the problem. See, she has peculiar tastes. Nothin' too classical for my girl."

"I see. And might I add that you look quite young to have a daughter entering formal education?"

"Best not let my wife catch you flirtin' with me like that, Ms. Divine." Maxine blushed, and Sabryn shook her head. She was going to kill him. Pushing past the assistants, Sabryn caught Maxine's eye and motioned her over to the side.

"Max, I need to talk to you."

"Can it wait? I really--"

"It's pretty important. Can you maybe get one of your assistants to help that gentleman while we talk?"

Playing with a strand of her platinum hair, the older woman finally agreed. She nodded to her assistant as she led Sabryn across the gallery to her desk. Sitting down behind the heavily loaded blotter, she kicked out an extra chair and motioned for Sabryn to sit.

"All right. What's so important?"

Without saying a word, Sabryn handed over the Polaroid pictures she'd taken of her paintings. Maxine stared at her for a moment before lifting her jewel-studded glasses and perching them on her nose. She studied the first picture for a long time. Sabryn knew it was the one she'd taken of the entire collection. It wasn't as easy to see the detail, but the effect of the paintings as a whole was striking.

She licked her lips nervously, watching as the woman set down the initial picture and moved on to each individual painting.

"The pictures really don't do the paintings justice--"

"Shhh." Maxine waved her hand, peering over the rim of her glasses. Studying the pictures with squinting eyes. When she reached the last painting, her eyebrows rose. Turning the picture back to Sabryn, she smirked. "I imagine it was rough working with this subject."

Staring at Alex's face, all she could do was blush. Maxine looked at the picture once more, taking in the details, before laying it back down into place above the others. "They're certainly different from what I'm used to seeing from you."

"I know. My style..."

Maxine held up her hand once more, calling for silence. "I said they were different, but I'm certainly not complaining."

Sabryn felt her heart skip a beat. It was as close to a compliment that she'd ever gotten from the dealer, and she had to fight the silly grin spreading across her face. Just as she was about to make her offer, Johnny got there one step ahead of her. Her very own mole in training.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Divine, I'm just not finding what I'm looking for. Maybe I should come back some other time. Or...or maybe you could tell me of another gallery in the area that might carry something a little...supernatural?"

"Supernatural?"

"Yeah. You see, my little girl just loves all that stuff. Angels, aliens, demons, monsters, you name it."

Maxine glanced back at the pictures in front of her, and then at Sabryn. Lowering her glasses on their beaded chain, she licked her lips. "Robert has shown you all we have here?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Did you happen to check out the works of Siqueiros or perhaps Picasso?" For a moment, Johnny looked dumbfounded, but he managed to recover himself quickly. "Those weren't quite what I had in mind."

"Well, then...I don't think I'll be able to help you. Perhaps you should try the Hanford Gallery over on 22nd?"

"I, uh...yeah. Maybe you're right." He gave Sabryn a flustered look before quickly retreating.

So much for making Maxine Divine think she had a sure sale. She hadn't even mentioned the collection. Sabryn felt her hopes sink like dead weight.

"Now then, where were we?"

"I'm sorry, I don't remember."

"What did you call these paintings?"

"'New Year's Day.'"

"Rather a morbid thought." Maxine crossed her arms over her chest, looking down her thin nose at Sabryn. "I like you, Miss Jaegar, and I've never bullshit you. I think you have talent. But there are times when I think your talent is wasted and I've told you so. I refused to show your art, and wasn't shy about telling you why. And I'm not about to be shy now."

She paused, deliberately drawing out the agonizing suspense. "I'm not a fool. You don't need to send your brother, or your cousin or whomever he is, in here to tell me that your paintings are good. I don't need to be told what I know for a fact. The thing is, this is the best work I've ever seen from you."

Somehow all of the oxygen had just been sucked out of the room. Sabryn had to clear her throat to speak, and when she did, her voice was pathetically weak. "Thank you."

"The question is, just what are you looking for?"

"Looking for?"

"You've gone to an awful lot of trouble today. Why?"

"I need an advance, in cash, on the sale of these paintings." The woman nearly choked. "You must be joking."

"No. Max, you know I've never been the type to boast over my own work. Several times I was even afraid to show you a certain piece because I thought it wasn't good enough, but you assured me otherwise. This time is different.

I know these paintings are good. Whether or not they will sell is your department. You know the market much better than I do, even though I've made it my business to learn."

"But you expect them to sell?"

"Yes." She leaned forward, looking at the Polaroids herself. "I'm not asking for much. Merely a fraction of what they're worth."

"How much?"

"Five thousand."

Maxine laughed out loud. It had to have been the first time Sabryn had ever heard the sound. "You think I just leave that kind of money lying around?"

"I know you have a safe on the premises. And if not, you have access to it."

Narrowing her eyes, the older woman stared at her for an endless moment. "Fine. I'll have Robert stop by your apartment to pick up the paintings some time tomorrow. When they're in my possession, you'll get your money."

Somewhere in the back of her mind, the Hallelujah Chorus began playing. "Thank you, Max. I really appreciate this."

"Don't thank me yet, sweetie. I want those paintings." "You'll have them."

She was walking on a cloud. All the way across that gallery and out the door, barely even noticing her brother until he caught her by the arm.

"Well?"

"We did it!"

"You're kidding?"

She shook her head, finally releasing a giggle as he pulled her into his embrace. She patted him on the back before letting him go.

"Thank you, John."

"I didn't do a damned thing."

"I know."

He pinched her arm, causing her to laugh even harder. Walking her back to the apartment, his arm around her shoulders, didn't say a word until they were almost there.

"You didn't want to sell it, did you?"

"The collection?"

"No. His portrait. I saw the look on your face when she was looking at that picture. You looked heart-broken."

She didn't bother to answer.

"You're in love with him, aren't you?"

"Johnny, I'm going to tell you five little words that have always come in handy as your sister...it's none of your business."

Alex leaned back against the brocaded wallpaper, listening to the lazy cease of the bed springs and the soft lilt of a woman's laughter in the next room. Early morning sunlight spilled through the open window, and he stifled a yawn. During the flight and shift in time zones, he'd lost an entire day...and with only weeks remaining until invasion, that was a sobering thought.

Waiting quietly, looking like some sort of satyr in the decidedly feminine powder room, he finally heard the sound of soft footfalls nearing the door. A masculine whisper, rumbling so deep he couldn't hear the words, followed. And when the door opened, there was a fraction of a second when he could have been spotted. His reflection in the mirror stared back at him, before being hidden behind the open door, and then reappeared once more as the door was closed in her wake. She yelped, her naked breasts bobbing, before sighing heavily and glaring at him.

"Sasha?" her husband called, from the other side of the door.

"It's all right, Ivan," she answer in heavily accented English. "I only stubbed my toe."

Turning her emerald gaze back to Alex, she licked her kiss-swollen lips. Fresh from the general's bed, Sasha Minskya looked every bit as beautiful as the last time he'd seen her. Flushed with sweat, her flame-gold hair tousled and damp, her lips slack with desire, her nipples peaked with arousal, her skin reeking of sex...only this time, she smelled of another man instead of him. Fucking a fellow officer's wife had never been a hardship. He gave her what she wanted, and she gave him what he needed. Still, he'd never come to her when Ivan was so close. And he'd never reached for her with the vision of another woman in his mind.

"You have to be crazy coming here like this."

"I need you, Sasha."

She smiled, revealing the gap between her teeth, the only slight detractor to her beauty. "I would be happy to accommodate, but Ivan is here. And I do not think he would like that so much. Too bad you did not make your presence known earlier...you could have joined us."

"My loss," he said quietly, taking advantage of the view she provided. He watched her casually walk to the sink and wet a wash cloth under the steaming water. "Fortunately, that's not what I came for."

"Oh?"

"I need you to get me the vaccine."

She met his gaze in the mirror, her eyes laughing as she wiped the cloth over her sweaty body. "And what makes you think I would do this?"

"I know you will."

She laughed softly, rubbing the cloth under her breasts, down her belly to the fiery curls before sliding it between her legs. She smirked at the rapt attention on his face. "You don't know anything, Comrade Krycek. You think I fuck you just for fun? I've been playing you for years."

Alex had to smile, although begrudgingly. "That became blindingly clear to me when I tried to talk to Viktor just now. I was refused."

She grinned, slipping the wet cloth back under the hot water. "We had quite a talk about you and your jaunts to America."

"Exactly. Which is why I want you to get the vaccine for me. Thanks to you, I'm not trusted anymore. And I'd really like to keep a low profile."

She pivoted to face him, crossing her arms under her breasts to prop them up even higher. "Nyet. You obviously did not hear me. I will not do anything for you."

"Oh yes, you will, Sasha. Or should I call you Laura Scott?" She blanched, losing her smug posture. "W-What?"

"You suddenly seem to be missing your Russian accent, darling. Seems I'm not the only double agent in the room. You really didn't give a damn about what I was doing in America, did you, Laura? Ivan was starting to suspect you and you blew my cover to save your own ass."

She swallowed heavily, nodding, not bothering to lie. "Fucking me was just a little bonus, wasn't it?"

"Well I have to admit you're better than a man twice my age." "But I wasn't as gullible as Ivan, was I?"

"Ivan is in love with me. A man will do almost anything for the woman he loves. Isn't that right, Alex?"

"What are you talking about?"

"The boy...Dmitri. You lost him to that blond whore because you were too dumb-struck in her presence to think with your brain instead of your dick."

"I was never in love with Marita Covarrubias."

"Perhaps not...but you were close. I'm sure it wouldn't take much to make you fall hard."

"Get me the vaccine so I can get the hell out of this country."

"That may take a few days."

"You have until tomorrow night...before I have a little talk with Ivan." She glared at him. "And what do you want the vaccine for, Comrade? I know for a fact that you've already had it."

"Just get it."

He headed for the window, prepared to leave the same way he came in, when he heard her say, "It's for a woman, isn't it, Alexei?"

Her soft but arrogant laughter followed him all the way outside.

END.

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