Archive: Yes to CKoS; others please ask, I rarely say no.
Title: Stormy Weather (Precipitation part three Author: Merri-Todd Webster
Series/Fandom: XF
Pairing: M/Sk
Rating: a mere PG-13
Feedback to: lonchura@yahoo.com
URL: http://members.tripod.com/lonchura/ Warnings & Spoilers: Apocrypha, maybe SR-819, sorta. Nothing major.
Comments & Thank-yous: Thanks to JiM for encouraging beta that always opened up new possibilities.


Stormy Weather
Precipitation part three
by Merri-Todd Webster
(5 September 1999)

Skinner was certain that Krycek had collapsed when he did just to piss off his hosts. After dropping the bombshell that there was a clone of Mulder created by the Consortium, he had suddenly passed out over the empty tray of Aunt Fanny's Pecan Twirls, knocking his damned coffee cup to the floor. He looked completely out of it, a dead weight barely aware of himself or his surroundings. It had taken the both of them to get him installed in the guest bedroom, where he was presently sleeping the sleep of the unjust and snoring loud enough to be heard in the bathroom.

After putting Krycek to bed, Mulder had gone off to take another shower. Walter lay in bed, tense and unable to sleep, his muscles refusing to be soothed by the late-night jazz from his favorite station, until Fox returned, dressed only in shorts and towelling off his hair.

"You should use the blow dryer," Walter muttered. "My grandmother used to say you'd catch a cold if you went to bed with wet hair."

Mulder grinned, a phantom expression in the green glow from the clock radio. "Call Scully," he suggested. "She'll tell you that's--an old grandmother's tale."

Mulder sat down on the bed, and Walter sat up, propping his pillows behind his back. "Well," he said, not quite knowing what else to say.

"Well?"

"Do you believe him?" Walter blurted. He could only see his lover's long smooth back, one ear, and a glimpse of cheekbone.

"It's possible," Mulder said. Those words, delivered in that flat, distant tone, told Walter that yes, Mulder basically did believe Krycek's story. Walter, on the other hand, was disinclined to believe Krycek even when he affirmed that the sky was blue.

"Possible, yes," Walter said, grudgingly, "but what about probable?"

Mulder tossed the damp towel off into a dark corner where Walter would find it next week, slightly mildewed, and shimmied under the covers. He stretched out casually, ankles crossed and hands behind his head.

"Two weeks ago, I saw the dead body of Alex Krycek. A body whose left arm had been crudely hacked off and replaced with the most sophisticated prosthesis I've ever seen. Scully--Dana Scully--did the autopsy, verified the ID, agreed with me every step of the way."
Mulder chuckled in the darkness. "Might be the first time that's happened." He sobered, uncrossing and re-crossing his legs. "Tonight, a very much alive Alex Krycek came in out of the rain, sat at our kitchen table, and told us the dead body was a clone."
He paused for a moment; Walter could practically hear him thinking, a smooth hum indicating extreme rapidity. "Now, *one* of those two Kryceks *could* be a clone. If the dead Krycek had been a shapeshifter, the body wouldn't have been there to autopsy in Alaska. If this Krycek were a shapeshifter, he wouldn't have passed out on the table. We have weaknesses that they
don't."

"He could have counterfeited it."

Mulder snorted. "Have you ever tried to fake a faint?
I have. It's not easy. At least not once you hit puberty."

"Thanks for telling me." Walter turned away and stared out the bedroom window. From the sound of it, the storm was picking up again.

"He's not telling us the whole story." Mulder sounded oddly confident.

"Of course he's not! This is Krycek we're talking about!" Walter stared at the younger man through the dimness, trying to make out the look on his face, the tension of his posture. Mulder made a vaguely sleepy-sounding noise.

"He will. Sooner or later, he will."

Mulder said nothing else, and gradually his breathing deepened into snores. Walter lay still, feeling cold and stiff, feeling the warmth radiating off the other man--Mulder's body temperature rose with sleep--but unable to roll over and get close, to touch that warmth and absorb some of it into himself.

***

Krycek woke suddenly, unable to remember where he was.
It wasn't a flash of lightning, a crash of thunder, or even an unexpected touch that woke him, but a car alarm. No, wait--not a car alarm, but a bird imitating a car alarm. A mockingbird. Damn clever mockers, they could imitate anything. His mother used to keep a bird feeder in the back yard.

He was at Mulder's and Skinner's house in a Baltimore suburb, in their guest bedroom. Okay. He let his head settle on the pillow again. He sort of remembered everything getting black last night, a weird humming noise gathering in his head. He must have passed out after delivering the news about the clone. Stretching, he grinned--he couldn't have done it better if he'd done it deliberately.

After a few minutes of listening to the pesky mockingbird, he rolled out of bed and went into the hall. He was still wearing his briefs and a t-shirt, so he was decent. The door next to his was open and led into a bathroom. Happily, Krycek emptied his bladder, washed his hands and his face, and looked at himself in the mirror. Unshaven and unkempt, but looking pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for someone who'd been on the run for almost two weeks. He'd slept well under his old enemies' roof, at least for a few hours.

The robe Mulder had given him last night was lying on the bedroom floor by the foot of the bed. Krycek shrugged it on and went downstairs, following the scent of dark-roasted coffee.

Skinner was sitting at the kitchen table, staring into space over a plate of toast. His glasses lay on the placemat beside the plate. A small clock radio on the counter played Miles Davis softly.

"Morning."

Skinner jumped, his head snapping around, then relaxed. Fractionally. "Morning."

He said nothing else. Krycek waited a moment, then asked, "Mind if I have some coffee?"

"Help yourself."

Krycek did so, hunting out milk and sugar. He actually preferred tea to coffee, but asking for tea would be pushing his luck. He was hungry, too, ravenous, in spite of the late-night pecan twirl binge, but he wasn't going to ask for food, either.

Skinner got up, dumped his toast in the garbage, re-filled his cup. He put down the cup with a thunk. "Why are you doing this, Krycek?"

Krycek remembered that tone of voice from tense visits to a certain office at the Hoover Building. It went with the measured stare that pierced him over the coffee cup rims. And the man could do it in a rumpled t-shirt, without benefit of starched collar or spectacles.

"To make an end of it." He put his own coffee down with a thunk. "To finish off what's left of the Consortium, to go into the bolt-holes and burn out the vermin."

"What do you care?" The sneer was evident. "You worked for them. You profited by their plans."

Krycek bared his teeth. "Number one, I
*haven't*worked for them for some time now. I'll explain
myself when Mulder's here--and where *is* Mulder? And number two, what makes you think working for them was such a picnic?" He drained the coffee and glared. "You took their money, Skinner. You know what it's like. Didn't you chafe under their harness? And you were just a part-time employee. They controlled my *life*."

The front door opening was clearly audible in the tense silence. Moments later, Mulder fairly bounced into the kitchen, sweaty in running shoes, carrying two paper grocery bags.

"Morning, Walter. Morning, Krycek. Nice trick you did last night, passing out like that." Mulder glanced slyly from Krycek to Skinner.

Krycek got up to refill his cup. "I've been on the run for almost two weeks, Mulder, trying to get to you. I guess I hit my limit, despite the caffeine and carbohydrates you provided."

Mulder began unloading the grocery bags. "Well, you can re-fuel on what I bought this morning." He waved a package of bacon in the air. "Bacon, eggs, potatoes--" he drew out another item with a flourish-- "and more pecan twirls!"

Skinner was silent, sipping at black coffee, while Mulder bopped around the kitchen like Little Susie Homemaker, whipping up a big breakfast. Krycek watched this tableau in disbelief. Mulder was scrambling eggs and frying bacon and hash browns for the three of them? He even got out a cinnamon-red teapot and some Irish Breakfast teabags and put water in the kettle when Krycek ventured to ask about tea.

Skinner remained silent when Mulder piled the plates, the coffee pot, the teapot, and the little extras on the table. By this time Krycek had figured out what was going on, why Mulder was so cheery. Judging by the house, and by the financial and other records Krycek had perused before coming to visit, Mulder and Skinner were happy and comfortable together. But maybe they were a little too comfortable. MaybeMulder was bored. Mulder the bloodhound needed a new fugitive to sniff after; Mulder the hunter needed new quarry to chase. Krycek was in luck: Mulder needed excitement, and Krycek had some to provide.

Skinner began shoveling in his food in silence, eating rapidly and mindlessly. Krycek tucked in and savored every bite. Dammit, Mulder could cook. The bacon was crisp, the potatoes were nicely seasoned, and the eggs were scrambled just as he liked them, not too firm and not too soft. Pity the man was spoken for already--not that Walter seemed to appreciate what he had. At any rate, he wasn't kissing the cook or anything.

***

"Okay, Krycek," Mulder said amiably over the second or third cup of caffeinated beverage, "I'll bite. Spill the rest of the story."

Krycek dumped one last spoonful of sugar into his tea and stirred it in, slowly and thoroughly. His face took on an inward, composed expression Mulder had never seen on the man. "When you tracked me down in Hong Kong," he began, still stirring, "I was hosting the oil alien. It wanted something--to get back to its point of origin, or as close as possible--the alien ship that had brought that particular batch of the oil to Earth. The oil's need to get back to the ship governed everything I said, everything I did. I felt like...." He was silent for a moment. "Like I was in a dream, watching my dream-self do things. You know, how you're in the dream but you're also watching yourself. Afterwards, I didn't remember much more about that time than if it *had* been a dream, a really vivid one." He gulped at the strong tea.

"Okay." Mulder got up and grabbed the tray of pecan twirls and brought it to the table. He ripped it open, snagged one, and offered them around. Walter let them pass with a stone cold stare; Krycek took one, took a small bite, put it down.

"Thanks to our mutual unfriend Spender the smoking man, I wound up locked in a missile silo with the ship, barfing up the alien." He took another gulp of tea and then got up, wandered around the kitchen, stopping to look out the little window over the sink, with its Cape Cod curtains. Mulder could see the stiffness in Krycek's back. "It was bad enough going through something that felt like two weeks of stomach flu in two hours, but after that, I was locked in this dark room, no food, no water, no way to get out. And knowing that that... thing was only a few feet away, inside the ship. Waiting." Krycek turned around; the dark green eyes looked at Mulder and through him. "It wasn't dying that scared me, so much. I'd faced dying before. It was losing my mind."

Walter stirred, and Mulder glanced at him. Yes, that stare had gotten to Walter. It was the stare of someone who's walked out of hell and is trying to be casual about it. "So how did you get out?" Walter asked.

Krycek leaned against the refrigerator, arms crossed over his chest. His eyes were still somewhere else, somewhere very cold and dark. "Spender's plan was to leave me to die of starvation or dehydration, whichever came first, and replace me with the clone. I hadn't been as effective an operative as they'd hoped." He laughed drily, a sound like rusty hinges forced open. "The clone had been growing for years; it only required a little forced aging to catch up with me, and then a little fine-tuning to give it as much of my memories as they thought would be useful. Exit Alex Krycek #1, the original, enter Alex Krycek #2, the duplicate. It was the duplicate that went to Russia with you, Mulder, that was handcuffed on your balcony," he nodded at Skinner, "that lost its arm to an overzealous bunch of Russian peasants, that found fun new things to do with a palm pilot." He came back to the table and snatched up the half-eaten pastry, stuffing it in his mouth. Mulder could see the shivers running through him, see that he was trying to suppress them. "In the meantime, while Alex #2 was out wreaking havoc and I was in the silo losing my mind, there was another factor at work the Consortium hadn't counted on."

"The rebel aliens," Mulder guessed. Krycek nodded.

"At that time, the Consortium had no idea that there was another faction of aliens interested in this planet." He laughed again. "How little they know about what really goes on out there." He picked up his mug of tea and starting pacing again, sipping at the hot beverage as he went. "What I've been calling the rebel aliens is a different race from the greys or the shapeshifters; they're not really rebels against the greys, but more of an independent peacekeeping force, a galactic U.N. Their goal is to... curb the greys' expansionistic tendencies a bit."

"A bit." Walter raised his eyebrows at Mulder. Krycek approached them, then stepped back.

"They're not human." An almost desperate tone had come into his voice. "They don't have our feelings or our morals. If it's expedient to kill some members of a subject race in order to keep the rest of that race from being dominated by the greys and the 'shifters, then that's what they'll do."

"Learned your morality from them, did you, Krycek?"

"Dammit, Skinner, listen to what I'm telling you!" Krycek slammed his fist down on the table. Coffee slopped over into the saucers. "Nobody else knows what I know about this--nobody!"

Mulder reached out and took hold of Krycek's wrist. His left wrist, lean, warm, human. "Let him talk, Walt," as all he said.

Krycek looked down at Mulder's fingers curled around his wrist. He didn't move until Mulder let go; then he backed away, running his hands through his hair, and slumped against the cabinets again. Walter slumped over his coffee, watching and waiting. "I don't know exactly how long I was in the silo." He sounded calm again, dry and composed. "But I was pretty close to dehydration when the rebel aliens, the peacekeepers, broke me out of there. They took me someplace.... It might have been a ship, but if it was, it was grounded someplace here on earth." He swallowed hard, wrapping his arms around his chest again. Two good arms, Mulder thought. Two good arms.
"I woke up screaming one day, naked and cold and hooked up to a million fucking tubes and wires." One of Krycek's hands drifted up to brush across his mouth, then the base of his throat. Mulder swallowed hard in empathy, gulped cold coffee to cover it. "Then one of the peacekeepers came in." Krycek's eyes darted to Mulder's. "They're more like us than the greys or the shifters, you know--they actually look pretty human. Sort of like department store mannikins, no hair, no gender, plastic-looking skin, but human. And like the others, they can learn our language, or--use some kind of telepathy."

Krycek was silent for a long moment, staring into space. Mulder caught a glance from Walter; their old nemesis was perfectly still, as if paralysed. After a minute, Mulder got up, went to Krycek, touched his arm. Krycek recoiled, stepping back and banging his tailbone on the edge of the sink. Then he blinked a few times and continued his narrative as if there'd been no interruption. "They told me I was going to be all right. I was just on life support. When I explained I was... cold, they warmed up the room and got me a sheet and a blanket. They weren't unkind. After a couple of days they took out the tubes, let me eat and drink. They explained who they were and what they wanted--to keep the coalition of the greys and the shapeshifters from taking over this planet." This time his rusty laugh sent chills down Mulder's spine. "I was never quite sure *why* it wasn't okay for the greys to take over here. The peacekeepers made it clear that they, and the greys, had visited here ages ago, before there was anything that could be called genus Homo. But they talked about the greys the way you might talk about rats--it was okay if they were in an abandoned building, but you didn't want them to get into somebody's house."

Krycek fell silent. Mulder felt a strange, irrational urge to put his arms around the man, smooth down the glossy black hair that stood up over his forehead. Wonder how Walt would take that. As if he felt Mulder's thought, Walter drained his coffee cup, put it down, and looked directly at Krycek for the first time since the younger man had started talking.

"So what do you want us to do?" he asked. Krycek jumped as if startled, and then his mouth spread into a feral grin.

"I want you to help me get rid of the last remaining clones."

***
end