TITLE: "Morning Glory III: Someone Else" (1/2)
AUTHOR: Isahunter
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" and
beyond never occurred.
ARCHIVE: Yes, of course.
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: Not everyone is who they seem to be.
NOTES: This story is a continuation of my series, "Morning Glory." It is necessary to have read
those stories first. They are available at:
http://www.angelfire.com/ak3/expositions/index.html

For everyone who has followed me thus far. I love you all.
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"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."
--Sir Winston Churchill

After a long night in the frosty Iowa air, the cab of the truck was freezing. Sitting there with the
engine running, Sabryn blew hot air on her hands and rubbed them briskly together. When she
saw Mr. Skinner's hazy form walking towards her from outside the ice-coated window, she
unlocked the door. Their suitcases were stored, and their breakfast of cold leftover pizza had been
eaten. Yet when she saw the two steaming Styrofoam cups he was carrying, she nearly dived to
take them from his hands.

"Oh, you are a God-send!"

Once he was seated and buckled in, she pulled out of the parking lot and made sure her
sister-in-law followed. The sip of hot coffee, however scalding and black, put a smile on her face.

"About yesterday--"

Sabryn cringed. It was hard enough keeping Alex out of her thoughts. Hearing more about his
nefarious deeds was the last thing she needed. "Look, Mr. Skinner--"

"I think I've given you the wrong impression about me. I did some thinking last night, and I
realized that you didn't know what you were dealing with. I'm sure the news came as quite a
blow."

"You could say that."

"That being said, I apologize for not showing you more sympathy."

She turned to look at him, meeting deep brown eyes that held no trace of the stubborn irritation
she'd seen the day before. The lines had disappeared from his face, the harsh concentration and
stress he bore on a daily basis having softened immensely. She could have sworn he looked like
an entirely different person. Swallowing heavily, she nodded.

"Thank you, Mr. Skinner."

He even smiled. No teeth, but it was a start. "That's another thing." He unzipped his wind
breaker, revealing the turtleneck and denim shirt he was wearing underneath. "I may be a
hard-ass, but I don't allow anyone to call me Mr. Skinner when I'm out of 'uniform.'"

Sabryn grinned, wryly. "Then what should I call you?"

"Walter will be just fine...Sabryn."

"You've got a deal." Swallowing another sip of her coffee, she cast him a sideways glance. "I
think that's the most I've ever seen you smile, Walter."

"Don't get used to it."

"Oh, I don't know...I bet I can make you smile more."

"Is that so?"

"Just give me some time."

Settling his arm on the middle console, he watched the road before them. "Looks like we might
have some snow before long. You still ok to drive?"

"I think I can manage. I miss snow. Can you believe it's so close to Christmas?"

"Seems years away."

"Less than a week. I should've asked you earlier...do you have any family that you should be
calling?"

He was silent for a long time, before sighing heavily. "Other than a bunch of distant cousins I
haven't seen in years, my only family is my brother, Danny."

"Don't you want to tell him what's happening?"

"Danny hasn't spoken to me in years, and he'd refuse my call if I even tried."

She watched the slight sadness wash over his face and then disappear in a blink when he met her
gaze.

"Danny's old high school sweetheart is my ex-wife, Sharon."

"Oh. I guess he didn't take that too well."

"No. It was bad enough that I married her, but, in his eyes, divorcing her was the ultimate sin."

"Have you ever tried talking to him, face to face?"

"I haven't been back to Abilene in years."

"Abilene?"

"Texas born and raised," he said, proudly. "But I grew up closer to Odessa."

"On a ranch?"

"No, but we used to help my uncle on his. Not a day passed in summer when my ass wasn't
glued to a saddle."

She couldn't hide the smile on her face. "I didn't know you can ride."

"Oh, hell yes. Even tried my hand at bull riding for a while...until I broke my collar bone and my
mom damned near broke my ass for bein' so damned stupid."

"How old were you?"

"Ten."

"Good grief, you were just a baby."

"Well I grew up pretty fast. Dad passed away a few years later and we had to move to a trailer.
Danny and I got jobs as soon as we could to take some of the burden off of Mom. And even
though she only worked as a receptionist, she still managed to save enough to help us with
college."

"You were very lucky. I wish I'd finished school."

"It's still possible."

Neither of them said it, but they both knew the possibility was remote at best. If the invasion truly
was on its way, nothing would ever be the same again.

"In a strange way," Walter continued, "this is almost similar. I put off college for a war, myself.
Although I doubt Vietnam was anything like what's coming."

"Given the way that one ended, I hope you're right."

Several long miles passed in silence, as they were both lost in their own thoughts. Scared, but
even more afraid to admit it. Desperate to lighten the mood once more, Sabryn sat up a bit higher
and pulled in a deep breath.

"Why don't you sing a Christmas song with me?"

He didn't even take a moment to consider it. "No."

"Oh, come on. It'll be fun. I'll even start."

"Sabryn, no."

She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. "It's Christmas...baby, please come home..."

"Oh God."

"The snow's coming down, I'm watching it fall..."

"You sound terrible."

"Lots of people around. Baby, please come home."

"I don't even know this song."

"The church bells in town, are ringing the song. What a happy sound. Baby, please come home."
She nudged his arm, trying to get him to chime in, but he stubbornly refused. "They're singing
Deck the Halls, but it's not like Christmas at all. I remember when you were here, and all the fun
we had last year."

"You sing like a dying animal."

"Ohhhhhh, ba-by please come home..."

And despite his obvious chagrin, not only was Walter smiling...the man was even laughing.

 

"You should have left him in the car."

"I have more trust for a rabid pit bull."

"Mulder, you could have cuffed him to the steering wheel. What's he going to do, hot wire the
car and drive to meet up with someone conveniently carrying a hand cuff key?"

"I wouldn't put it past him."

Walking ahead of the two agents, Alex shook his head. They talked about him like a little kid...or
as if he weren't in the same hallway. Pretty soon they'd resort to spelling everything they said.

Instead of returning him to the detention center as he'd expected, Mulder had taken him back to
his own dingy apartment. Forced to sleep on the floor, his right hand cuffed to the agent, Alex
hadn't been able to stifle the snide comment about Mulder's kinky sexual preferences. The bruise
on his jaw was all he had to show for that remark. He'd learned his lesson and shut his mouth
when he realized Scully would be spending the night as well. Unfortunately for both of them, she
opted to sleep in Mulder's rarely used bedroom.

"I wish you had left me in the car, Mulder," Alex said over his shoulder. "I could've chewed my
arm off like a wild animal and been long gone by now."

The only time he'd had the cuffs off in the last twenty-four hours was in a window-less
bathroom. Even after the hot shower, his hand was still partially numb.

"Shut the hell up, Krycek."

"I think this is it," Scully said.

Mulder grabbed Alex's arm and stopped him before the wooden door as Scully double-checked
the address. Giving her partner a nod, she knocked on the door. After waiting several seconds,
she knocked again.

"Marita Covarrubias, this is Special Agent Scully. Mulder and I need to talk to you."

Still no answer. It obviously didn't surprise them.

Mulder started to reach for the door knob when Scully put her hand over his. The sudden crackle
in the air was almost palpable. Alex stared at the two of them, fighting the urge to laugh. Jesus,
they were so dense it was pathetic.

"Mulder, we don't have a warrant, or probable cause. We can't just break in."

"You really think she's gonna press charges?"

"She might--"

Before they could continue the pointless argument, Alex pushed Mulder out of the way and
kicked the door open himself. Splintered wood flaked the floor as the door wobbled out of the
way.

"Can we go in now, or would you two like to stand here in the hallway with your twisted little
version of foreplay?"

Scully shot him a glare as she unholstered her gun and stepped in the doorway. "Marita
Covarrubias, we just need to talk to you."

"I think we passed the just talking point when Conan here busted down the door," Mulder
muttered.

The apartment was dim, lit only by the orangy glow of a few lamps and the small amount of
sunlight filtering through the closed curtains. A cream-colored couch stood directly in front of
them, a rumpled blanket and open magazine laying on the cushions. Stepping over to the couch,
Mulder put his hand down on the cushion.

He mouthed the words "still warm, she's here" to his partner. Scully nodded.

"Ms. Covarrubias, you can make this a lot easier on yourself if you'd just cooperate with us."

Groaning in boredom, Alex flopped down into the chair across from the couch and propped his
feet up on the coffee table. Mulder glared at him before peeking his head into the bedroom.

"Marita?"

Mulder froze in the doorway, and despite his determination not to care, Alex couldn't help but sit
up a little straighter in his chair. He couldn't hear what Mulder was saying, other than soft
murmuring. Scully stepped over to stand in the doorway, watching her partner while also keeping
an eye on Alex.

"Mulder?"

"It's ok," he said, coming closer to the door. "She was just putting some clean clothes on."

Alex could hear a door opening, most likely the bathroom, and Agent Scully seemed to wince
slightly. She lowered her eyes and stepped away from the doorway, standing back as Mulder led
the former Special Representative to the Secretary General of the United Nations out of the
bedroom.

Jesus.

She met his gaze with the same crystal blue eyes he'd come to know so well, but that was the
only thing familiar about the woman who stood before him. Where once a proud, confident, and
defiant soul existed, only a shell of an experiment gone wrong remained. And in spite of himself,
he felt sick to his stomach.

Her lustrous blond hair was gone, leaving only clumps of fuzz over a bald scalp. Her skin was
pale and blotchy, not the soft honey-gold flesh he'd once explored so thoroughly. Her hand shook
as she raised it to her head, shamed at her own appearance, her fingernails bruised and tattered.
Stubby eyelashes swept away sudden moisture. Surely not tears. Marita never cried. But this
wasn't Marita, was it? This was someone else entirely.

Mulder led her over to seat on the couch, and she balled her hands up in her lap. Watching Alex
with wary eyes. Looking every bit as calm as a mouse before a cat.

Sitting down next to her, Mulder ran a hand over her head. "I like the new look," he said,
somehow making the comment sound affectionate.

"It fell out gradually," she said, opening her mouth for the first time. "But it's starting to grow
back."

Her voice was scratchy, too quiet, nothing like the calm beauty he was used to. Before him sat
the bitch who once betrayed him, and he couldn't bring himself to feel anything but pity. Even the
idea that she'd once defied him, showing spirit he hadn't known she had, did nothing to anger
him. It was a shame that spark of life was nowhere to be found.

"It's cancer, isn't it?"

Marita met Scully's gaze. "Yes."

"Why--why did you remove the chip?"

"I'd rather die than be their slave. Or their experiment."

Alex didn't need to ask to find out what they'd done to her. He knew all too well. When once he
might have felt nothing but cold indifference, he lowered his gaze in shame. Because not only had
he never fought the experiments on the black oil victims, he'd performed some of them himself.

When the fuck had he started to grow a conscience? Hardening himself to the job may have
taken years, but he'd perfected it to an art. And now, after only a few short weeks, that stony
facade was chipping away bit by bit with every passing minute.

*Jesus, Sabryn, what the hell are you doing to me?*

Mulder took Marita's hand between his. "You've been going to chemotherapy?"

"At the beginning, yes. But I didn't like being so weak."

Looking up at his partner, Mulder held her gaze for several long minutes. Finally, he said, "When
did you remove the chip?"

"When Jeffrey first brought me here. He did it. Gave me bourbon for the pain," she added with a
slight smile.

"Where is Spender?"

"Dead."

Scully took a step forward. "Dead?"

"He told me that he was going to clean out his office and that we'd leave here. He said we were
in too much danger here. He was going to take care of me. But he never came back."

"How do you know he didn't leave, by himself?"

"He wouldn't have done that. He wouldn't have risked himself to get me out of that base just to
leave me here."

Marita met Alex's gaze again, and he knew what she was thinking. That night, when Spender
broke her out of the facility, was the last time he'd seen her. Spender had asked for his help, and
he turned his back on them. He walked away, saved his own ass. As usual. And yet there wasn't
a trace of blame on her face.

"Did he tell you anything before he left, about why he might have been in danger?"

"He knew too much. About his father, and their activities. And by refusing to play along, he
became a threat."

"What about what you knew, and the things they did to you?"

Marita lowered her gaze. "I'm sorry, but I really don't remember anything more than what I
already told Agent Mulder that night. Most of my memories are gone."

Before either of the agents could reply, Marita lifted her head once more and looked directly at
Alex.

"He knows. He knows a lot more than I could ever tell you."


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"I never did get him to sing along," Sabryn complained as she pushed her empty plate away.

Stopped in a noisy diner just outside Aberdeen, South Dakota, they'd crowded into the only
booth available and ordered anything hot to warm their bellies. Snow fell steadily outside,
blanketing the ground with a fresh layer of powder. More chilling than the snow, however, were
the gusts of wind that burst in whenever someone opened the door.

"With the way you sing, I'm not surprised," John said, dodging her kick under the table.

"I was just trying to lighten the mood." She glanced at her niece and nephew, deliberately
neglecting to mention why they'd been melancholy to begin with. "I think I did a fabulous job."

Walter grinned at her, amazing her again with that smile he just seemed to have produced. "I
haven't laughed so hard in months."

"Watch it, before I kick you too."

Carly set down her mug of tea. "Mr. Skinner, I hate to change the subject, but I've been
wondering just what your agents will do with Alex? Is he going to prison?"

"I can't tell you that for sure, Caroline. And please, call me Walter."

"Surely you must know something, Walter." She cast a glance at Sabryn. "It seems quite unfair
for him to be punished after all he's done to help us."

John shifted, scowling. "Could we please not talk about Alex Krycek while I'm eating my
dinner?"

Before Carly could reply, Jolie looked up from the place mat she was coloring and announced to
the entire non-smoking section, "Daddy said Alex Krycek is a scum-sucking, motherfucker."

Sabryn could feel her mouth drop open and Carly paled, staring at her nine-year-old daughter
with wide eyes.

"Wha's a motherfu--"

"Don't you dare repeat that word, Christopher!" Standing up from the booth, Carly pointed a
finger towards the door. "Jolie Dawn Pruitt, take your brother and go out to the camper right
now."

"But Mom--"

"Go!"

As the kids scurried away, Sabryn turned her attention to her brother and met his shamed gaze.
To his credit, she could see out of the corner of her eye that Walter wasn't even smiling.

Pushing her way out of the booth, she passed the flustered waitress and muttered, "I'll have my
pie to go, please."

 

"I won't be able to tell anyone a damn thing if you starve me to death. I haven't eaten in over
twenty-four hours."

"Mulder, he's right." Alex stared up at Scully in confusion, suspicious of her sudden compassion
for him. "You have to get him something to eat."

"I--I have some things in the kitchen," Marita offered. "I can make a sandwich."

Obviously reluctant, Mulder stood. "Get up."

Unable to push himself out of the chair with his hands, Alex glared at Mulder as the agent yanked
him to his feet.

Marita hurried ahead of them, her bare feet padding across the carpet, in obvious haste to avoid
him. She pushed open the swinging door to the kitchen, standing far out of the way as Mulder led
him into the room.

"I'm surprised you don't follow me when I take a piss, Mulder."

"Shut your smart mouth, or you'll be pissing in your pants from now on."

Leaning against the counter, Alex watched as Marita opened a bag of bread and set two slices on
the counter. Despite her appearance, she still moved with the same grace she always possessed.
And with the light hint of her shampoo in the air, he could almost close his eyes and remember
her exactly as she'd been. Her face flushed with passion, lips parting to scream his name,
fingernails clawing at his back. One deceptive lie after another.

Out in the living room, he could hear a cell phone ring, and the muffled sound of Scully's voice as
she answered the call. A few seconds later, she pushed open the door.

"Mulder, I need to talk to you."

She glanced at Alex, before gesturing for Mulder to follow her.

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

"Mulder, we're three flights up, and you and I will be closer to the door. Krycek isn't going
anywhere."

Glancing back at Marita, Mulder sought her gaze. "You'll be all right?"

Alex laughed, without a trace of humor. "What the hell am I going to do to her?"

"I'll be fine," Marita said, softly.

Nodding, Mulder stepped out the door.

Alex wasn't quite sure what was more enticing--the chance to listen to their conversation, or to
intimidate the hell out of the traitor who stood before him. Looking at her sickeningly panicky
expression, the former won out in the end. Leaning closer to the door, not enough to accidentally
push it open, he only caught mere fragments of what Scully said.

"...identified the intruder...had several aliases...been following her for weeks...just like Cardinal...no
doubt looking for Krycek..."

Alex had already figured that much out himself. The man who'd attacked Sabryn, sent by the
Syndicate, had been looking for him. Had been one of his own, a Garnet agent, sent to turn on
him and take him down. Only she'd been in the way.

"...maybe witness protection...guards and security...safe, so he can tell us...may be our only
chance..."

Fucking morons. They didn't know who the hell they were dealing with. Witness protection
wasn't going to help him. These men knew everything. He wouldn't be surprised if they were
watching him right now.

"What did you want on your sandwich?"

Marita's question drew him away from the door. No longer whispering, her voice sounded almost
normal. She stood a little straighter, met his gaze and held it. He narrowed his eyes.

"Doesn't matter."

She pulled some packaged meats and a jar of mayonnaise out of the fridge, slamming the door
and setting everything down with a loud clatter. Opening the nearby drawer, she looked confused
for a moment, closed it, and opened another drawer.

"What are you looking for?"

"The knives. I always forget where things are."

With her back to him, she reached in the drawer before closing it and opening another one.

"Found them." She pulled out a knife and turned towards the counter, but the utensil slipped right
out of her fingers.

As she dropped down the pick it up, she was about to smack her head on the open drawer when
Alex stepped forward and closed it. Stooped closer to her level, he could just barely hear her
whisper, "Take these, get out of here."

He met her gaze, and she grabbed his hand and shoved what she was holding into his palm. Out
of one of the drawers, she'd found a set of keys. Among others, a small handcuff key.

"What the--"

"Go, I'll keep them distracted."

Now he was looking at the Marita he once knew. The proud, confident woman who could be as
devious as any man in the Syndicate. Even with her balding head and sallow complexion, there
was a transformed light in her eyes that was almost startling.

"There's a fire escape one floor down from that window. Jump down to it, and run."

"I can't do that cuffed."

"You have to, there's no time. Go, Alex. You have to stop them before it's too late. There's
nothing more I can do. I'm not strong enough. And Agent Mulder won't let you go without a
fight."

He hesitated for a moment.

"Go."

Heading to the window, he pushed it up in its frame, glancing back at Marita as she made some
noise to cover the sound. Shit. It looked like miles to the fire escape. Putting his right leg over the
sill, he looked back at her one last time. Neither one of them had to say the word, but both knew
it was the final good-bye.

Bending to duck his head under the open window, he held onto the sill with a firm grip as he
performed one hell of a contortionist's act to bend his other leg and get it out the window. Sitting
on the window frame, he took a deep breath and leapt forward.

He hit hard on the iron fire escape, the boom echoing in the alley way, pitching forward and
slamming his side against the railing. Pain ricocheted through him, hard enough to make him cry
out loud. Cursing, he backed up towards the wall, heard Mulder's shouting, grabbing on to the
ladder to the ground with the keys still in his grip. He didn't have time to climb down before a
warning shot buzzed past his ear. Dropping through the opening, he hit the ground and rolled,
fighting the pain, scrambling to his feet, and running like hell before Mulder decided to shoot
again.

 

The crunch of snow under his boots announced John's presence before he ever spoke a word.
Blinking the flakes from her eyelashes, Sabryn crossed her arms over her chest and continued
staring at the truck stop across the road.

"If Caroline ordered you to come apologize, you can save your breath."

"Jolie needs to learn to keep her mouth shut."

She shot him a murderous glare over her shoulder. "Don't you dare blame this on that little girl.
I'm so mad at you right now, Johnny, I don't even trust myself to punch you. I'd no doubt do
permanent damage. I can't even believe you would say something like that in front of your
daughter."

"I didn't know she could hear me. You know I'd never talk like that in front of the kids."

She let out a harsh breath, watching the cloud of vapor disintegrate before her face. "Why would
you say it at all, after what I've told you?"

"Sabryn--"

"That man is saving our lives, John."

"One right does not cancel out the hundreds of wrongs he's done." When she didn't answer him,
he put his hand on her shoulder. "You're going to freeze to death out here."

"Don't touch me." Turning to face him, she was sickened by the false remorse in his eyes. "What
has he ever done to you, John? Nothing. And they have no proof for what they claim he has
done...other than a few things Walter saw with his own eyes."

"Assault and attempted murder of a Federal agent, Bryn. A felony. You can't deny that."

"I didn't deny that. But people can change."

"God, you're so damned stubborn, and my daughter is becoming just like you. Take off the
blinders before you crash, because it will happen. I'm trying to protect you."

"You can't hold my hand for the rest of my life. Some mistakes I need to make on my own."
When he started to look away, she grabbed his face and held his gaze. "When I was a little girl, I
used to worship you. You were like Superman to me, Johnny. Even when you teased and taunted
me, there was nothing you could do wrong in my eyes. You took Daddy's place as the most
important man in my life, because you loved me like he never did. But I can't hold that place for
you forever. I won't."

He reached up to take hold of her wrists, blinking rapidly to whisk away the sudden moisture in
his eyes. "I never asked you to. And I'm not doing this out of some warped sort of jealousy. This
guy is bad news, Sabryn."

"Then that's for me to figure out. And it's not for you to comment on, or to judge...or to curse
and scream about in front of a little girl and a five-year-old boy."

His voice was barely a whisper. "I'm sorry."

"Are you really?"

"I'm trying to be."

She gave him a half smile. "I guess that's all I can hope for."

Behind her husband, Caroline cleared her throat. "Walter was kind enough to take care of the bill,
and we can get back on the road...if you're both ready to go?"

Pulling the keys to the truck out of her pocket, Sabryn nodded. "Yes, we are." She glanced back
at her brother, adding, "But something tells me this isn't the end of the discussion for you, Mr.
Pruitt."

Caroline licked her lips. "You've got that right."

Walking back to the truck, Sabryn met Walter's grim expression. "You all right?" he asked, softly.

"I'm never going to see Alex again, am I?"

"No, you're not."

She laid the keys in his hand and let out a shuddering breath. "I think maybe you should drive."

 

END.
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The song Sabryn sings, at times incorrectly, "It's Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" is
performed by U2, and is used without permission. No infringement intended.

Feedback--feed the addiction Isahunter@aol.com