TITLE: "Mikhail's Fire V: The Return of Alex" (1/1)
AUTHOR: Isahunter
RATING: PG
CATEGORY: V, WIP, Krycek/Other (No slash)
SPOILERS: Up to One Son, S6
ARCHIVE: Yes, please
FEEDBACK: Isahunter@aol.com
DISCLAIMER: All characters from "The X-Files" are property of CC, Ten-Thirteen productions, and Fox Broadcasting. "The Return of Alex" is property of Die Toten Hosen and JKP, and the lyrics are used without permission. No copyright infringement intended in either case.
SUMMARY: Time to reclaim what was never his in the first place--his life.
NOTES: Continuation of my series, "Mikhail's Fire," part of the "Move Heaven and Earth" saga. http://www.angelfire.com/ak3/expositions/mhae.htm
For Yvi, the generous creator of the music video for my series-- http://jove.prohosting.com/~sabryn/ground.rm I've also included a link to her previous music videos, including the one that inspired the name for this chapter, The Return of Alex. She did an amazing job. Thanks Yvi!
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"So you watch the meter rising
and the silent pressure grows
the hate inside is rising
the one you've always known
when the time is past for talking
and you've stepped across that line
I will return, vengeance will be mine..."
--"The Return of Alex" by Die Toten Hosen.

Sometimes love could be such a cruel little bitch.

A month ago, if she'd only stayed home instead of covering another volunteer's shift, she never would have met Alex Krycek. And if she hadn't, she would have spent the morning of January 1 snug in her bed, completely oblivious to the nightmare to come.

Ignorance was bliss. Much to her dismay, so was lying in her lover's embrace.

No, she wasn't sorry she'd met Alex. Not one little bit. But she'd come to rue the day she ever laid eyes on Erik Larsen.

Her body contorted in the most uncomfortable of positions, rendered breathless by the brutal grip Skyler had on her arm, she stared at Erik in horror. Walter's words sounded no less astonished.

"What do you mean, she's not human?"

"What part of that didn't you understand?" Struggling to hold Walter in his grip, no easy task even if the man was injured, Larsen held Sabryn's stare. "I know exactly what you are. You, my dead wife...how many of you are there?"

Her heart had to be pounding so loudly they could hear it. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't fuck with me!" His sudden roar made her flinch, the tensing of his body causing Walter to grimace in pain. "Give up the act. Skinner's going to find out the truth one way or another. You might as well say it while you have a breath left in your body."

"Please, Erik, just let me go. I don't know--"

"My wife didn't die in a car accident, Miss 'Bryn.' One day when she was washing dishes in the sink, a knife slipped through her soapy fingers and cut her deep enough to bleed. I hurried to grab a towel to bandage her with...but when I returned it wasn't blood coming out of her fingers." He laughed almost hysterically, leaning his mouth closer to Walter's ear. "Have you ever seen alien blood, Mr. Skinner? That nasty green goo that creeps out like so much toxic waste, choking and blinding, burning right through the countertop?"

Walter's voice was considerably lower when he finally answered, neither his authoritative Assistant Director voice or his carefree everyday style. The sound of it sent a chill up her spine.

"Let her go, Larsen. This doesn't have a damned thing to do with her."

"What's the matter, Skinner? Has she gotten to you?" Erik smirked, his gaze traveling the length of her body. "Did she rub up against you, tempting you like she did to that other one who couldn't take his hands off of her?"

"Go to hell."

"I fell for one of them, too, Mr. Skinner. I know exactly what hell looks like."

Skyler finally spoke, startling her. "He was in a coma and had chemical burns all over his body when we found him. He's lucky he survived."

"And what about your wife, Larsen? What happened to her?"

For a moment Erik finally sobered. "I did what I had to do."

Sabryn gasped. Struck with renewed terror, she fought against Skyler with all of her strength. Kicking at his shins, scraping his arm with her free hand. Managing only to piss him off even more. Just as she heard Erik shout out, "Hold on to her!" she was pitched sideways. Picked up off her feet and slammed into the nearby wall. Pain ricocheted down her shoulder, the breath leaving her lungs in one gasp. Her head banged the concrete for a second time, stunning every motor reaction in her body. Her entire frame went as limp as a rag doll, sliding down the wall to crumple on the cold floor. But despite the blackness blooming in front of her eyes, she didn't pass out. Not yet.

Distantly, she could hear Larsen and Walter struggling, before Skyler took hold of the Assistant Director in his stronger grip.

"Don't touch her!" Walter yelled, as the toe of Larsen's worn leather boot came into focus before her eyes.

"My wife was an alien clone, Mr. Skinner. Not human flesh. She was a liar, just like this one. Raised in a normal home, treated like one of us. But the people who raised her were working for them. They knew exactly what she was. And so did she. I didn't find out until it was too fucking late." He knelt down slowly, his hand next to her shoulder, brushing the hair out of her face. "Such a waste. You're a real heartbreaker, you know that?"

The odd tenderness in his voice made her almost as nauseous as the pounding of her head.

"I truly did love my wife. But she betrayed me. And I won't let--"

He pulled his hand back suddenly, as if he'd been singed. Staring at his fingertips, his mouth hanging open. And when she finally concentrated hard enough to bring his hand into focus, she saw the smear of bright red blood he'd wiped away from her scalp.

Caught red-handed, she thought wryly.

It was the last coherent thought to skip through her throbbing brain.

~~~~~~~~~~

"So nice of you to join us, Alex. Now throw down the bag."

He hated the way his name rolled off old man Spender's tongue, familiar and intimate, with the lightest hissing lisp, reminding him so much of the evil serpent the bastard was. Letting the strap over his shoulder slide loose, he carefully tossed the duffel bag to the ground.

"You really think I'd miss this party?"

"I don't remember inviting you."

"No, I believe that was Diana...after I removed my tongue from her throat."

The muzzle of the gun bit so hard into his flesh he had to take a step forward to keep from falling. True, it had been a dumb confession, but he knew he might as well get one good jab in before he died.

"Luckily, that one isn't my problem anymore."

Alex didn't have to ask what he meant by that comment. Getting rid of excess baggage was a task he knew all too well. "Probably a good idea. She never did know how to keep her mouth shut." He let out a bored sigh, staring at his shoes. "Why don't you shoot and get it over with, Spender? We both know I'm going to die anyway."

"Curiosity, really." He felt the man pull back the gun, but it was no doubt still clutched tightly by his side. "I can't help but wonder why you've come. You'd have to be stupid to think you have a place here."

Turning slowly, Alex met the old man's gaze over his shoulder. "Oh, believe me, you're going to be glad I showed up. I've brought you a gift."

Clearly intrigued, Spender smirked as he crushed his cigarette under his shoe. It hissed in the snow, the spark barely dying before the lighter clicked and released the potent stench of burning tobacco.

"What could you possibly bring me that I don't already have, Alex?"

"Mulder and Scully, for starters. And I'll throw in Covarrubias to sweeten the pot."

"Am I supposed to believe you have them tied up somewhere, waiting for me?"

"No. They came along quite willingly...once I convinced them I was here to kill you."

Spender grinned. "Get off my mountain, Krycek."

"Do you really think I'd bring all of these guns," he nudged the bag with the toe of his boot, "just for me?"

"So where are they?"

"About a mile south of here. Resting. The women aren't quite up to mountain climbing in their condition." At Spender's quirked eyebrow, he elaborated. "They've removed the chips."

"What are you trying to get out of this? Why would I even want them?"

"I thought you might want to end this. Mulder and Scully are your main opposition to the project. Killing them in the past would have caused chaos from the FBI and their techno-geek friends. Finish them for good now, before they can gather a following, and the invasion will be yours."

"And you? What's stopping me from putting a bullet through your head?"

"Not a damned thing. But I think we both know I'm more use to you alive."

"What's your price, Alex?" Spender took a long drag on the cigarette before blowing the smoke in Alex's direction. "You could have stayed lost and saved yourself the trouble. What do you want from me?"

"Immunity. I want to survive this thing as much as you do."

"And a new arm, maybe? They can do that, you know."

He knew that very well. Among the colonists, healers could practically bring men back from the dead. Regenerating tissue would take little more than alien material, genetically enhanced, mixed with his own flesh. A hybrid limb. Nearly as fake as the one he wore now...but far superior. And the idea of having both arms again was more than tempting.

"Maybe. I wasn't planning on pushing my luck."

"Until I see this 'gift,' you're lucky you're still standing."

~~~~~~~~~~

She woke to total darkness. Or at least she thought she was awake. Lifting her hand to her face was a task not easily accomplished. Her head throbbed painfully as she concentrated, her cold fingers sliding over her skin to swipe at her eyelashes. Yes, her eyes were open. Staring up at a nonexistent ceiling, towards invisible walls. And her first instinct was panic.

She sat up so abruptly her stomach lurched, leaving her swaying unsteadily. "Hello?"

The high squeak of her voice made her wince.

"Sabryn, I'm right here." The voice came from behind her and to the left, unmistakably Walter.

"I can't see."

"It's OK." He grunted, and she could hear his clothing rustle as he attempted to move closer. She felt his shoe nudge her arm. "I'm right here."

"Where are we?"

"Silo 1028."

"Inside the silo?"

He answer was careful, gently breaking bad news, as if talking to a child or a homicidal maniac. "We're locked in. Larsen and his brother threw us in here before taking off with our guns."

Suddenly the dark didn't seem so bad after all...at least, not in comparison to the sudden claustrophobia. "We're trapped."

"Yes."

"We're gonna die in here." She started to get to her feet, her head swimming as bursts of red exploded before her eyes. If she hadn't moved her hand to support herself, she would've landed flat on her ass. "We've gotta get out of here, no one knows where we are!"

"They'll come for us sooner or later. John knows--"

"That's assuming that Larsen hasn't gotten to them first. Oh God." She toddled less than gracefully through the darkness, stumbling over his leg in the process.

"Damn it, sit down. You probably have a concussion."

"Where's the door?" Damn her night-blindness, she thought, waving her hands in front of her. "We have to let someone know we're here."

"How? Do you expect to find--" His words broke off in a hiss as he shifted once again. "Do you expect to find an intercom and tell the Army to come looking for us?"

"What would you rather do, starve to death? We can't chew our way through concrete."

As her fingertips touched the cold metal surface of the door, she let out a sigh of relief. Pounding hard with the heel of her hand, she yelled out, "Help! Somebody help us!" But as the sound echoed off the walls with a hollow pitch, reverberating with dead weight, she let her head fall forward until her forehead rested against the cool glass window. She was marginally surprised that she didn't hear the fragile pane shuddering with each throb of her skull.

She was shaking. Her fingers wet with perspiration, her heart pounding double-time in her chest. "Oh God, Alex...I'm so sorry."

"What did you say?"

"This is what he went through, Walter. All alone. And he knew, he knew they weren't coming for him. He knew he'd die down here."

"But we won't."

"And he knew no one would care." She covered her mouth with her hand, as if that would keep the panicked sob from escaping. "I don't think this is what he meant when he urged me to stay underground."

"Hey." She felt him tug on her pant-leg, and used the wall to slowly lower herself to the hard concrete floor. "Don't lose it now, Sabryn. I need you to help me get out of here."

Her hysterical laughter was just north of insanity. "Unless you have a jackhammer hidden in those jeans, I don't think I can help you."

He actually laughed at that, until a surge of pain cut off the sound and made him suck in an agonized breath. Shit. She'd completely forgotten he was shot. Scooting closer, her hands moving up his arms, she tried to feel her way to the wound.

"Where is it?"

She felt him take her hand, placing it lightly over the sticky material of his flannel shirt. She grimaced in the dark, pulling her hand away abruptly. The wet, slimy blood on her fingers was still warm...growing thicker as it dried to his skin.

"Oh God." She sat up on her knees, stripping off her coat, reaching for the buttons on her shirt.

"What are you doing?"

"How well can you see in the dark?"

"Not very well."

Something in his tone told her he was lying through his teeth. "Uh-huh, and FBI just managed to overlook that. Well, like it or not, you're about to get a show." Yanking the cotton blouse free from her waistband, she stripped it off her arms and tried to ignore the urge to cover her white Maidenform bra. "We need to bandage that. How long have we been down here?"

With stiff movement, he angled his injured arm closer to the other and pushed the button on his watch. It lit up, glowing softly, barely illuminating the contours of his face. "About eight minutes, give or take a few."

"Do you know any first aid?"

"Some. Not enough to guide you to remove a bullet in the dark."

Carefully inching around him, she pulled the fabric of her blouse over his shoulder and used the sleeves to tightly secure it in place. "Your arm isn't going to fall off if that stays in there for a while, is it?"

He managed a half-heart laugh. "I think your shirt might hold it on, for now."

Snagging her coat, she pulled it back on. "What now?"

"Now," he shifted again, carefully reaching his good hand into his pocket to pull out a familiar red object, "our only choice is to try this in the door and hope like hell that it works."

"A Swiss Army knife? I didn't know those came with lock picks."

"It doesn't. But it does have a pair of tweezers and a toothpick."

"Whoopee."

"Here." He took off his watch, handing it to her. "It's not much, but the light is all we have."

"You expect me to open the door?"

"It's either you or no one. This arm isn't going to let me do much of anything."

Fuck. Why didn't it surprise her that their freedom rested in her hands?

~~~~~~~~~~

They didn't realize the danger they were in until they were up to their asses in trouble. Stepping out of the dense tree line into the clearing, Mulder and his female companions only had a second to meet Alex's gaze before being surrounded by a camouflaged battalion of fully armed military guards.

Keeping his expression neutral, Alex watched Mulder's gaze as he looked from him to the smoking man, and then back again. The agent stood perfectly still, except for shaking his head, as the handcuffs were slapped into place.

"I should've known," he muttered, his voice barely audible. "You'll never amount to anything but a back-stabbing traitor."

"I knew you wouldn't want to miss this, Mulder."

"You sick son-of-a-bitch!" His control suddenly snapped, and Mulder lunged at Alex, rushing forward only to be callously dragged back into the soldiers' grip.

"What do you want us to do with them, Sir?" The lieutenant looked like he was itching to kick someone's ass, no matter who that person was.

"Alex is right. I think you would enjoy this, Fox." Spender nodded to the convoy of covered trucks over his shoulder. "Take Mr. Mulder and his friends to the Jeep for now. Make sure they're secured. We'll come for them later."

The smug look on the old man's face was nowhere near as sickening as the blatant hatred Mulder was shooting in Alex's direction. He gave barely any resistance as he, Scully, and Marita were led away from the man who'd betrayed them. Scully kept her eyes downcast, no doubt seething under the surface but unwilling to admit it. Marita, however, held Alex's gaze the entire time he was in view. There was a look of such extreme hurt and astonishment on her face that he had to bite his tongue to keep himself from turning away in shame. She'd betrayed him once before, but never like this. She'd never handed him over to the devil.

And as he turned back to stare into Satan's cold dead eyes, he felt sick to his stomach. "How long until they arrive?"

"Not long now. They're close enough to hear the signal when we give it."

"So what are you waiting for?"

"Not everyone is here, Alex. We're still waiting for Mr. Strughold."

No sooner had the words been said than one of the soldiers came running over to where they stood. The radio in his hand crackled with static, in between brisk orders given out in code. "Sir, the car is on it's way."

Spender nodded, watching absently as the soldier ran back to the trucks. "It won't be long now, at all."

Alex's gut knotted in anticipation. Not only was it the first time he'd ever seen Conrad Strughold, Majestic's esteemed leader, in person...it was also the first, and maybe only, time he'd see Strughold and Spender in the very same place.

His hand sweating inside his glove, he watched Spender out of the corner of his eye. Feeling very much like the only fox in the hen house.

*Yes, Mulder...you definitely won't want to miss this.*

~~~~~~~~~~

Squinting, the tips of her fingers nearly bloodied from gripping the tiny tweezers so hard, she shifted them around in the lock for what had to be the billionth time in more than three hours. But she refused to sit idle on the floor. That only left her time to think, and that was the last thing she wanted to do.

*Jesus, Alex, I'm so sorry.*

She couldn't even begin to imagine the kind of panic he'd been facing when he was locked down here. Buried alive, as he'd said so eloquently. For days, maybe weeks. He'd never said how long. He'd never mentioned it at all. And she couldn't blame him. God only knew what he'd been forced to do to stay alive. A sudden flashback from one of her favorite books, Stephen King's Misery, ran through her mind, making her shudder. In his captivity, alone for days without food and water, the hero had been forced to drink his own urine to stay alive. The thought made her so nauseous she had to stop to catch her breath.

"Are we really going to get out of here?"

Walter voice was groggy, as if on the verge of sleep. "I hope so."

"Don't fall asleep on me, please. I don't think I could handle being in here with no one to talk to."

*Who did you talk to, Alex? How the hell did you survive?*

"I'm just closing my eyes for a bit. Promise."

She swore again, pushing the button on Walter's watch as the glowing light went out once again. Each time, she had only seconds to work before she was forced to start all over again. Damn light. Damn silo. Damn aliens. Damn damn damn!

She heard a shallow clicking noise, felt the tweezers turn in her grip, and almost shouted with jubilation at her success...until she realized that she hadn't unlocked the door. She'd broken the tweezers off in the lock.

"No!"

"What?"

Dropping the useless plastic to the floor, her eyes brimming with tears, she stood up and slammed her fist against the door. "Let me out of here, you fucking bastards!"

"Sabryn..."

"I want to go home! I will *not* die here!"

"Sabryn, stop. No one can hear you."

His free hand gripped her sleeve as she sagged back to the ground, shaking with anger and fear. She blinked rapidly, whisking away excess moisture. Refusing to cry. Not yet. Those damned aliens had gotten her once. They wouldn't do it again. Not if she had to dig the door hinges loose with Walter's knife.

He carefully maneuvered his arm around her, pressing her head against his shoulder. "It isn't going to end this way. It can't end this way."

"What makes you so sure?"

"I just know, OK?" She sniffled, rubbing her cheek against the rough fabric of his jacket. "You didn't just wipe snot on me, did you?"

Surprisingly, she actually laughed. "No. Not yet."

They sat in silence for a moment. Total and complete silence, broken only by the sound of their breathing. It was scary how much she was used to the every day white noise. Airplanes passing overhead, cars driving through the city, honking, televisions blaring, people yelling at each other on the street. Even the wind through the trees. But down in the silo, eight stories underground, there was nothing. Not even the subtle scratching of a mouse beyond the walls. It was like being inside a coffin. The thought made her shiver.

*How did he get out of here?*

She didn't realize she'd said the thought aloud until Walter answered, "I don't know, for sure. All I know is that Reginald was a part of it. Whether he found Krycek's whereabouts for himself, or if the Cancer man told him, remains a mystery."

"What happened to Mr. Reginald, anyway?"

"He was killed, in a car explosion."

Shades of deja vu. "Don't these Syndicate men know how to kill anyone a simple way?"

He chuckled softly. "I guess not."

"Do you think it's true? What Larsen said about me?"

"No, I don't think you're an alien."

"That's not--What I mean is, do you think his wife...that I have alien clones?"

He was quiet for moment. "It's a definite possibility. I think I'm willing to believe just about anything these days. And with your childhood abduction, it's more than likely true."

"She looked so much like me. She could have been my sister."

"I think the family you have is already more than you can handle."

"Walter, I need..." She swallowed heavily, fighting the knot in her throat. "I need to tell you something, but I don't want to insult you."

"OK..."

"Please don't take this the wrong--"

"Sabryn, just say it."

"When we first came here, before Alex returned, I didn't--I never meant to--"

"Kiss me?"

"Yes. I mean, not that way. God, this isn't easy."

"Look, we were both under stress, it was a difficult situation, and we both needed something to hold on to. It's perfectly normal. This is how Stockholm Syndrome develops. Victims of dangerous situations need someone to latch on to, to make them feel human. And unfortunately, in that case, the only ones they have to latch onto are their captors."

"Maybe, but I don't think that's entirely it. You just--this is going to sound really revolting, considering that I kissed you, but--you reminded me a lot of my father."

His silence made her lift her head, spitting out her words in a hurry to explain.

"I'm not saying I wanted to kiss my father or anything like that, because that's gross. Eww. And I'm not attracted to my father, or you for that matter...Oh, God, that sounded so mean..."

She broke off suddenly when he started laughing. "It's OK, I think I get it."

"I just...I wanted to show my appreciation for the way you were taking care of me, but I went about it the wrong way. I got all confused and made you into something you weren't. I wanted my father here, and I wanted Alex back. And I made the mistake of turning you into both."

"Could have been worse."

"I don't see how."

"Well, you could have decided to throw rocks at me."

"I'm serious."

"So am I. Listen, it's over. I realized my mistake and you realized yours. My heart isn't broken. Honest."

"Then you forgive me?"

"There's nothing to forgive. You were a friend when I needed one. That's all I ask."

"And you aren't mad that I compared you to my father?"

He sighed heavily, shifting against the wall at his back. "Well, answer me one thing. Do I remind you of the man who hurt you badly enough to make you cry on Christmas Day, or someone else?"

Her resolution to keep from crying went to hell with the completion of his question. "You've never hurt me, Walter. You remind me of my daddy, when I was a little girl."

"Good." He reached back up to tuck her head beneath his, pulling her tighter against his side. "That I can handle just fine."

She wasn't sure how long they stayed like that. Long enough to dry her eyes. It was a struggle to stay awake, but she had to. She knew enough to keep awake in the risk of concussion. And she didn't think the sickening roil of her stomach would allow her to sleep, anyway. Still, she was drowsy enough to flinch when Walter's voice finally sounded in her ear.

Barely a whisper, his voice deliberately hushed, he said, "Look."

Carefully lifting her head, she looked to her left and opened her mouth in shock. In a narrow sliver, barely enough to illuminate the knife and watch she'd left on the floor, light slithered under the doorway from the hall beyond. Pulling away from his side, she rolled on to her knees and sat up. Overhead, the same dim light poured through the window in the heavy door.

"Oh, God! They're here!"

She scrambled to her feet, ignoring the hand that reached for her jacket. Peering to the left and right, through the window, trying to make out the source of the illumination. A yellow beam bounced off the opposite wall, shaking up and down in time with someone's footsteps. As she was raising her hand to the door, Walter's hand grabbed her with more determination.

"Hel--"

"Shhh!" She looked back down in his general direction, still unable to make out his form. "You don't know who that is."

"Why are you whispering?"

"That could be the Army out there, looking for more people to infect with their virus."

She paused, realizing the implications. He hadn't had the vaccine. The Army would kill him. "But it could also be John."

"Or Larsen, coming back to finish us off. Trust me...wait until they pass, and then you can make all the noise you want."

Crap. It was like asking her not to breathe. Biting her lip, she did as he asked, waiting to the side of the door, making sure the beam of light wouldn't illuminate her face as they passed. It seemed like forever, the light growing brighter and brighter, before the could hear the muffled footsteps beyond. And when the person passed, their blond ponytail clearly visible against a dark shirt, she felt her heart pound even louder.

"In here!" She pounded viciously on the door, barely hearing the scrape of Walter's shoes on the floor as he got to his feet. "Here, help us! Let us out!"

The person in the hallway paused, listening carefully, before slowly swiveling on their feet. As the flashlight beam came back around, Sabryn squinted, unable to see the figure's face. She pounded even harder, screaming through the glass.

"Here!"

Moving closer, the blinding light still masking their features, the stranger reached for the door handle and turned.
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END. (1/1)
You hate these cliffhangers, huh? Tell me about it! Isahunter@aol.com