TITLE: "Midnight Angel IX: Nothing Lasts Forever" (1/1)
RATING: PG (Language)
CATEGORY: V, WIP, Krycek/Other (No slash)
SPOILERS: Up to "One Son," S6.
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
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: "Don't wanna be all by myself, anymore..."
NOTE: This is a continuation of the "Midnight Angel" series, available at the eXpositions web site: http://www.aliens.mcmail.com/isadiadem/
For Leigh, with undying gratitude. If not for her tireless
dedication to her web sites, NickLea.com and The Krycek File,
I would be hopelessly lost. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
"We all have eyes for our own Dark Angel."
She opened her door and stepped out of the truck before he even pulled to a complete stop in front of the curb. As he set the brake, he watched her race up the stairs to her apartment without a single backwards glance. She didn't give a damn whether he stayed or left. And that only made him all the more determined to follow.
At least she hadn't locked the door. Light spilled out into the hall from the open doorway, and he could hear the sound of beeps as she dialed someone's phone number. With her back to him, she didn't even hear him enter. He stood still for a moment, waiting, ready to lunge towards the phone should she have suddenly gotten the wild notion to call the National Guard. But when he heard her ask for her brother, Alex relaxed and finally noticed the paintings scattered on the floor.
Sabryn Jaegar certainly was an artist. The swirling collection of paintings, placed end to end in one seamless image, was breath-taking...for no greater reason than the fact that he was staring at the very event he dreaded more than anything. Invasion. Real and frightening, vividly painted in colorful detail.
Some of the images were blurrier than others. Faces were deliberately smeared and disfigured, others hidden in dark shadows. In some places the color deepened to pure black, as if night had descended. But if this girl had claimed to know nothing about the invasion of earth by alien beings, she was lying through her teeth. It was all here, even things he couldn't even begin to imagine.
Alex looked up at Sabryn, listening for a moment to the tense, whispered conversation she was having over the phone. But she couldn't keep his attention for long.
At the bottom of each painting, there almost seemed to be a timeline of images. A girl coming of age, only to find herself alone. More people, gathered to look up at a huge light in the sky. Children, huddled in fear. Ghostly beings with long spindly arms and legs, huge almond-shaped eyes. Vivid red-orange flames consuming the edge of one painting, only to die slowly and change to lustrous green in another. And then...nothing. Merely trees and grass, spring-like flowers, the innocence of heaven itself.
But the top of the paintings, that was different. Blurred and smoky gray, it almost appeared as if something was missing. As if the collection was unfinished. He knelt down for a closer look, reaching out with his right hand, only start at the sound of her voice.
"Don't touch those...the paint may still be wet." The anger still hadn't dissolved from her voice. Although they hadn't said a word the whole way back to her apartment, she hadn't changed her mood one bit. She turned back to the counter, ignoring him once more, saying into the phone, "No, I wasn't talking to you."
Alex sat back on his heels and listened in. "Look, you don't need to come over right now, but I want to talk to you first thing in the morning...no, Johnny, this isn't something I want to do over the phone...it just isn't." She tapped her fingers impatiently, balancing the phone between her ear and her shoulder. "No, no, it's nothing like that...just come over in the morning. I don't care if you have to go to work, this is more important."
She glanced back at him for a minute, sighing heavily. "Damn it, Johnny, I'm fine. You don't need to come over here now and you don't need to worry about me. Just come over here in the morning, and I'll talk to you then. All right? Fine. Good night."
She hung up the phone with a loud crash, leaning against the counter. For a moment he thought she was going to lose it. But she surprised him by pulling a spoon out of the nearby drawer and heading for the freezer. When she'd retrieved the carton of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, shut the freezer, and plopped on the bed, she regarded him with a bitter gaze.
"Why are you still here?"
"Don't have to leave just yet."
She took a huge bite of the Bovinity Divinity ice cream, not bothering to offer him any. Apparently her days of being courteous were over.
Alex glanced back down at the paintings, wanting to touch, to smear the paint, to erase the memory of them, and the memory of everything they represented. But nothing was that easy.
"When I was a kid, I wanted to be an ice cream man."
She looked up at him, the spoon poised just in front of her mouth. "Why?"
"Because everyone loved him. I remember being at a friend's house--the one friend I had back then--and we got so excited when we heard the ice cream man driving past. That was innocence and summer. Happiness. I wanted that, and look what I've become."
"Yeah, well, nothing lasts forever." She gave him a bitter laugh before shoving the spoonful in her mouth. Talking around a wad of frozen cream, something he found strangely erotic, she said, "Why are telling me this, anyway?"
"I thought you wanted to know. You said you didn't know me."
"I'd rather know about those bees. How can Africanized honey bees spread a disease to the population during their dormancy period? Or did someone forget it's winter out there?"
"The bees are kept quite warm and happy until they're ready. True, when they're released, the cold will kill them quickly...but they were only meant to start the spread of the disease anyway. Humans are the real carriers. We spread germs faster than anything. Gross as it may sound, I just gave you more than enough germs to kill you with what we did in the truck."
She wrinkled her nose, suddenly losing her appetite. Setting the carton and spoon on the night stand, she just stared at him. "It's so nice of you to refer to it as such...'what we did in the truck.' But what should I expect? It was just fucking, right, Alex?"
"Is that what you're angry about?"
"I'm angry about a lot of things." She plucked at his jacket, before realizing just what she was wearing. Shrugging the heavy leather off her shoulders, she wadded it up and threw it towards him. He caught it before it landed on her painting. "Why don't you leave? Don't you have a plane to catch?"
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to take a shower and try to figure out some way to convince my family to sell their belongings and move north. To believe everything they never believed in twenty-five long years. Obviously it's not going to be easy. So if you don't mind, I'd really like to be alone."
"The hell you would."
"You're scared shitless. And the moment I walk out that door, you're going to fall in heap on the floor."
"Are you always this much of an asshole, or is just for my benefit?"
He stood up, walking around the paintings and grabbing her arm before she could twist away. "Admit it. You don't have to be brave every fucking second. No one is."
"Oh? In between selling your secrets, back-stabbing your enemies, and fucking every woman who crosses your path, you just curl into a ball and sob like a baby?"
"I don't remember the last time I cried. But yes, I've been scared before. Plenty of times."
"Well, congratulations." She yanked her arm away from him, heading for the bathroom. "I don't need you, Alex. Just go."
"What are you going to do if your parents don't believe you?"
She paused for a moment. "It wouldn't be a big shock. I'd just go without them."
"And what about your brother? Will you go on without him, if he decides he doesn't believe you?"
"Johnny knows I'm not a liar."
"I never said you were. I said, what if he decides not to believe you this time?"
She spun around to face him, her dark hair swirling around her shoulders. "Why are you doing this? Are you some sort of sick sadist? Do you get off on it?"
"I'm just asking you a question, Sabryn. Who will you turn to?"
"That's not your problem."
"I know it's not."
"You don't give a damn about me, so why don't you just go?"
"I never said that."
A bubble of laughter escaped her lips. "Oh, what? Mr. Spy Man has a conscience? Doesn't want to see me die while thinking no one loved me?" She crossed her arms. "Don't humor me, Alex. Spies don't fall in love, remember?"
"I never said I was in love with you." Christ. He could have been a bit less forceful with that statement. She looked like he'd just slapped her. "I just meant that I do care what happens to you."
"That's funny, because I couldn't care less about you." She walked away from him then, turning the corner into her bathroom, and even though there was no door between them, he could feel it slamming just the same.
He rubbed his hand over his tired eyes, fighting the urge to follow her. Fuck. It was almost funny. He couldn't even remember the last time he gave a damn about anyone but himself, and now that he did she didn't believe it. He didn't love her, that much was true. Falling in love was a suicide mission. Case in point, Fox Mulder. The bastard's petite little partner had him wrapped so tightly around her finger that he'd probably castrate himself if she so much as asked. And everyone knew it. She'd been used against him more times than Alex could count.
No. He didn't want to end up like his parents, either. Eva must have been one hell of a temptation for his father to give up everything, his country and his safety, just to be with her. And look how that turned out.
Walking away from the bathroom, determined to head right out the door, he didn't get very far. Drawn like a fucking siren's song, he stopped once more before the collection of paintings lying on the floor. Staring with intense concentration at the blurred pinnacle of each picture. After a moment, his gaze skipped to the painting still leaning against the wall. He stepped over to it, turning it to face him, cringing at the sight of his own face. But as he looked down to the ghostly mist swirling just below his countenance's feet, and then glanced quickly back to the collection on the floor, he had to shake his head.
"I'll be damned."
Sabryn sat on the closed lid of the toilet, her head in her hands, waiting to hear the sound of the door closing as he left. It didn't come.
Her mind was so boggled by different thoughts that she couldn't even keep them straight. There was a spy standing in her apartment. That alone was enough to make her shake her head. She never would have imagined such a thing. And if she had, he would have more closely resembled Austin Powers instead of James Bond. Not that she was complaining.
But what did it matter, anyway? He'd soon be gone, she'd never see him again, and world was going to end in seventeen days. No, scratch that, she thought, looking at the clock beside the sink. It was after midnight. Sixteen days.
She felt like she was going to be sick. He was just leaving her. What the hell was she supposed to do? She didn't know what the hell was going on.
She didn't know who to tell. She didn't know how to convince anyone she was telling the truth. She didn't know how to keep convincing herself she didn't love him.
She let out a tiny sob, praying he didn't hear it. So stupid. How could she have been so stupid? No, he was just a friend. She was just reaching for him in an extreme situation, and that was all there was to it. She was just scared, beyond belief, afraid of losing everything she'd ever known. It was only natural to feel strong emotions.
Still, he knew far better than her what was to come. He was better prepared and she'd be smart to stick close to him. If only she could convince him of that fact.
Standing up on shaky legs, she checked her appearance in the mirror before walking back out to where he stood. Wiping her sweaty palms on her jeans, watching him study his own portrait more intensely than the Mona Lisa.
When he didn't notice her presence, she decided to break the silence. "I'm sorry I was so rude before. I guess--well, I really don't have an excuse. I apologize." She held out her hand.
He stared up at her from his crouched position, his brow furrowed, before straightening to his full height. All the more intimidating. He nodded slowly, taking her hand in his, swallowing her palm in his grip. "Friends."
It was several long minutes before she pulled her hand away. She licked her lips, nervous twisting her fingers together behind her back. "I know you'll be leaving soon, but I was wondering if you'd consider making a deal."
He laughed softly. "What sort of deal?"
"If you come back and help me get my family situated up north, just long enough that I don't have to worry about them, I'll...I'll give you whatever you want."
He reached out to pop open the top button of her shirt, tracing his knuckles over her collarbone. She had to wonder if he noticed the sudden intake of her breath...or the quite obvious hardening of her nipples. "You've already given me what I wanted, Sabryn. Why bargain for what I've already got?"
"You won't have it for much longer," she said, tensely. "Besides, surely there's something else you want. Money? Guns?"
"The one thing I want is something you could never give me." "And that is?"
"A normal life. No spying, lying, cheating, killing..." He paused for a moment, as if waiting for her to take a step backwards, but he underestimated her. She'd suspected as much from the very first moment she'd realized he truly was a spy. "No alien invasions, no waiting to dodge the next bullet."
"We're not so very different, you and I. My life has never been normal either...except for maybe seven years as a child."
"Well at least you had that much."
"If things had been different...do you think you'd have a family now?"
He stared at her for moment, before dropping his gaze back to the painting. "I don't know."
The sudden sadness in the air was almost palpable. "I need your help, Alex. I don't know how to do this alone."
"Did you ever notice the other shapes in this painting?" She was caught off guard by the change in subject.
"Here," he said, crouching down. "And here. I'm not the only one in this painting. There are other figures in the background."
Sabryn peered closer, nearly shoulder to shoulder with him, but she couldn't make out anything other than blurred shapes. Turning to look at him, she swallowed heavily when she saw just how close he was. "I--I don't know what those are. I tend to space out a little when I'm painting."
"Interesting analogy, don't you think?"
"I guess so."
"I wanted to show you something." Standing up, he picked up the portrait and stepped over to where the others lay on the floor. Setting down the canvas, he pushed it into place over the others. Gesturing to the collection, he said, "Look."
Sabryn stood up, walking over until she stood opposite him, and when she saw the finished product, her gaze flew up to his in amazement.
With his portrait placed at the very top, the collection was complete...and with the haze on the bottom of his canvas, and the matching haze on the top of the others, it was quite obvious what had been missing. There in the foggy smoke, or rather, billowy clouds, rose an obscure but unmistakable alien ship. The very one she'd seen the night she was abducted.
She put her hand over her mouth, closing her eyes. She couldn't let him see the quivering of her lips. Couldn't let him see the sudden moisture in her eyes. Yet when she felt his hand on her wrist, she flinched.
He wasn't gentle when he pulled her to him, didn't mean to comfort or pity her. He merely dragged her tight against his chest and kissed her hard.
Deep and intimate, demanding all of her attention, pulling her right out of her own despair. And when he pulled away from her mouth, she stood up on her tiptoes and held on tight. Burying her face against his neck. Memorizing the scent and taste of him.
"It was nice knowing you, Alex. In more ways than one." This time, when he pulled away from her and took a step backwards, she didn't reach for him again. He didn't smile, didn't reach for her hand. He headed for the door and didn't look back. But just as the door was closing behind him, and she was looking away, he surprised her one last time.
"I will come back, Sabryn. But like I said earlier...you don't owe me a damned thing."
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