Archive: Yes to CKos; others please ask, I usually say yes.
Title: Fallout, Precipitation part five
Author: Merri-Todd Webster
Series/Fandom: The X-Files
Rating: R for stuff (no sex)
Feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Warnings & Spoilers: No spoilers, but assumes general knowledge
of the series up through the end of season six.
Comments & Thank-yous: To JiM for beta and hand-holding above
and beyond the call, and to WitchQueen for suggesting that this
needed to be split off from "Eye of the Storm".
Precipitation part five
by Merri-Todd Webster
(1 November 1999)
Mulder's life passed before his eyes in a slow white storm, and
it all made sense, now, in a cold and white sort of way. The sense
of unreality that had hung over his life. The feelings of disconnection,
dissociation. The nagging truth that his parents did not love
him, and he couldn't figure out why. Now he knew why: He was a
simulacrum. He wasn't their son. He wasn't anybody's son. He wasn't
Fox Mulder. He wasn't anybody. He wasn't real.
Something fierce and blue cut through the vast silence: Scully's
voice. "How do you know this, Krycek?"
"Because I was there. I was there the night Samantha Mulder
Something pricked Mulder's arm, and presently his muscles began
to relax, his vision to return. The whiteness of the universe
contracting around him was replaced by Scully, Skinner, and Krycek
crouching around him on the chilly floor of the little green-lit
room, all watching him closely. Krycek started talking, speaking
to Mulder as if it were just the two of them there. The words
came slowly, one at a time, his voice scratching over each one.
"I told you I lived across the street from you, and that
Sam was my best friend. The night that Sam--died, my parents had
people from the Project coming over. I was eight years old, and
all that meant to me then was boring science talk, talk about
politics, and that nasty man who smoked all the time and gave
me dirty looks." A sardonic smile cracked Krycek's face,
for an instant. "When I asked my mother if I could go play
at the Mulders', she said okay. She gave me a batch of cookies
to take over and didn't even bother to call the Mulders first--it
wasn't the first time I'd come over like that, and Sam used to
come over and hang out with me the same way."
Krycek bowed his head. His hands were curled into fists on top
of his knees. "I went around to the back door, which was
usually open until everybody went to bed. I went into the kitchen
and I heard screaming, Sam screaming. I dropped the bag of cookies
on the floor and ran into the living room." His breath hitched,
and he rocked back and forth for a moment, eyes squeezed shut;
then with a visible effort, he was still, an adult once again.
"They were lying on the floor, and Fox was on top of her,
holding her down. She was screaming. Sam was screaming, really
high, really shrill screaming. I don't think I understood, then,
that he was trying to rape her; I only knew he was hurting her,
the way I knew he'd hurt animals, stray dogs, a neighbor's cat,
dead birds, there were always dead birds lying on the street,
on people's lawns. Nobody knew it was him that did that, but I
knew. Sam didn't see me, I don't think, but Fox did. He turned
his head and smiled at me, and it was the most frightening thing
I'd ever seen. When I was locked in that fucking silo, losing
my mind, that's what I kept seeing--Fox Mulder coming to me out
of the darkness, the little murderer with that smile on his face."
Krycek stretched out his hands. "I picked up a book, a big
book--I think it was an official Scrabble dictionary. And I hit
him with it, I conked him on the forehead as hard as I could."
Mulder blinked, remembering the bloody bruise on the forehead
of the boy. "It wasn't much, but it made him stop for a moment.
He got up from off of Sam, and I could see her jumper was up around
her hips, and she didn't have any panties on--" His voice
broke, and he sobbed, twice, a little boy trying not to cry. Once
again he got control of himself under Mulder's gaze, and went
on, breathlessly. "I ran out of the house, back to my house,
to my parents. I ran into the middle of all those old men screaming
hysterically. I can't remember what I said. But my mother grabbed
me and held on to me while my father and some of the other men,
including the smoker, went to the Mulder house."
Krycek said nothing for a long time. His chest rose and fell heavily,
tiny clouds of breath streaming from his nostrils in the chill
air. Finally he sighed. "Later that night, my father came
to me. He said that he knew I had tried to help, but that Sam
was dead. Her brother had killed her. In order to protect me,
we would move, tomorrow; we would change our names; we would get
away from all this, and I must never, never talk about it. Never.
But maybe, someday, I would have my revenge." He raised his
head and looked at Mulder, green eyes into hazel. Mulder said
nothing, but looked back. There were pools of blackness he couldn't
fathom in Alex Krycek's eyes. He wanted to get lost in there and
never come out.
"And is this your revenge?" Skinner's voice was huge
with outrage. "To destroy the man you admit isn't even responsible?"
"No!" Clumsily, Krycek got up, turned to face Skinner.
Mulder stared blindly up at Krycek's well-shaped ass, while Krycek's
voice rained down on him, an acid rain. "When I first met
Mulder as an adult, I thought he was the killer. What else could
I have thought? My father told me Sam was dead--he didn't say
anything about Fox. It was easy to carry out my assignment, to
partner him and then turn on him, maybe get him killed, even though
I was supposed to win him back to the Consortium. But something
was wrong--he wasn't anything like the Fox Mulder I remembered,
he didn't remember me, he didn't *scare* me, and he was obsessed
with finding Samantha, as if he didn't already know where she
was. He didn't even go by Fox, and that was wrong, too. So I dug,
and I dug. I called in favors, blackmailed people, risked my life
to find out what had really happened."
"And what was that?" Scully's voice cracked like a whip.
"They froze Fox Mulder and replaced him with a clone."
Krycek turned and looked down at Mulder, sadness turning down
the corners of his mouth. "A clone they had fixed, carefully.
Who had memories of Sam, but not real memories, accurate memories.
Who wasn't the psychopath the original had been. They tampered
with the genome, and they did it successfully--they took out the
cruelty but left the intelligence, the insight into the other
Krycek paced away through the green glow, came back and squatted
near Mulder again. Mulder felt like a quadriplegic, completely
unable to move. "Your parents weren't supposed to split up,
without telling you what your place in the Consortium was. You
weren't supposed to undergo hypnosis to try to fill in the gaps
in your memory, which forced your mind to invent the scenario
of Sam's abduction. You weren't supposed to embark on a quest
that would pit you against the Consortium and might ultimately
lead to their exposure. But they've never been able to control
you, Mulder." A crooked grin spread across Krycek's face.
"It's something in the genes that they didn't--or couldn't--take
Of its own volition, Mulder's arm flashed out and lashed across
that crooked grin. Krycek went sprawling backwards, striking his
head on the base of the cryo tank. Mulder felt no sense of motion
as he landed on top of Krycek, no sense of impact as his fists
thudded into Krycek's face and chest. He felt nothing because
he *was* nothing, after all--merely a copy of a deeply flawed
original. What did it matter what he did?
Mulder moved too fast for anyone to prevent it. His arm flew out,
a rigid extension of a limp, helpless body, and then he was on
top of Krycek, pummeling the man with both fists. Krycek made
no move to defend himself, simply lay there half under the cryo
tank that held the original Mulder and let himself be beaten as
if he felt he deserved it. His blood was pooling on the floor
beneath his head.
Skinner just stood there. Furious, Scully threw herself at Mulder
and tried to haul him off of Krycek. "Mulder! Mulder, stop!
You're not like that--you don't have to be like him!"
Skinner moved in then and hauled Mulder away. Once Skinner had
a grip on him, Mulder did not try to get away; instead, he sagged
in the older man's grasp, like a baby dangling from its parent's
hands. Mulder's eyes were so dilated that they were moss-green
rings around fathomless pits of black, and there was a strange,
distended smile on his lips that made Scully's scalp crawl. That
was the smile little Sascha had seen, the smile of a murderer
whose first victim was his own sister.
Scully turned to Krycek, who was struggling to sit up. "Are
you all right?" she asked, offering him her hand. Bruises
were already starting to form on his face; his mouth was swollen,
and his eyes were as mad as Mulder's, lunatic green rings around
a depthless core.
He lurched to his feet, took one look at Mulder, and heaved all
over as though he were about to vomit. "Jesus mercy, Mulder--that's
the first time I've seen you look like *him*." He tried to
raise his gun, but Scully twisted it out of his grasp with little
Blood was still streaming down the back of Krycek's head, was
smeared on the foot of the cryo tank.
Mulder withdrew from Skinner's grasp, and Skinner let him, with
obvious reluctance. Wobbling like an infant, Mulder walked to
the cryo tank which held Samantha. He looked into it, the terrible
smile dissolving into a boyishly wistful expression, then glanced
up at Krycek.
"She's really dead, not just... in suspension?"
Krycek nodded. Scully popped open her medical kit and swabbed
with some gauze at the back of his skull; he didn't react. In
shock, obviously, deep shock.
Mulder looked down at the side of the tank and frowned at it thoughtfully.
After a moment, he laid his palms on the sides of it, just so--and
with a frigid hiss, the lid of the cryo tank popped up like the
trunk of a car popping open.
Mulder lifted the lid until it was all the way open. Scully moved
closer, not sure what Mulder was going to do next, and so did
the other two men. Mulder reached into the tank, and with one
long, sensitive hand--Scully remembered how tender that touch
could be--cradled the cheek of the little girl who'd been frozen
for over twenty years. He ran his thumb lightly over her lips
as though to smooth away her distressed frown.
"I've never touched her before, have I?"
"No," Krycek answered. He came over, hesitantly, reached
out, and when, Mulder didn't stop him, stroked Sam's hair, running
his fingers down one dark braid and taking hold of the end of
it. That hand was trembling.
"I never even... knew her?" Mulder's voice cracked.
"No." Krycek's face was the face of the little boy,
the boy who *had* known Samantha Mulder, and loved her, who called
her his best friend.
"Yet all this time, I've been looking for her."
"You were looking for somebody to love you." Tears dropped
from Krycek's pointed chin onto the face of the dead girl.
Mulder nodded, and with that nod, he slumped over, his head coming
to rest on Samantha's breast, his hand still cupping her face,
and his shoulders quaking with noisy, unpracticed sobs.
Krycek laid a hand on Mulder's hair, and Scully moved in to wrap
her arms around Mulder, to hold him as she had so many times before.
Krycek had known, somehow, he had known that this would be necessary,
that Mulder would need her comfort. "You're free now, Mulder,"
Krycek whispered, stroking Mulder's hair. "Don't you see
that? That was what I wanted to give you-- the truth that it was
never your fault, what happened to Samantha. You never even knew
her, but you loved her better than her brother did."
Scully held her partner and crooned to him, everything else forgotten
in his need for comfort and her need to give it. In the back of
her mind she wondered why Walter wasn't part of this also, why
he was keeping his distance. Presently Mulder straightened up,
wiped his face with his hands, accepted a handkerchief from her
with a hint of a smile, and blew his nose. Then he moved to the
other cryo tank, the one containing the original Fox Mulder, and
opened it in the same way.
Behind Mulder, Skinner moved in closer now. Scully breathed a
prayer of thanks--Mulder was vibrating with emotion, no telling
what he would do--he was never more excited than when he looked
blankly calm, as he did now. For a second she feared the worst
as Mulder pulled his gun out of his pocket--Skinner and Krycek
tensed also, all of them poised to intervene. But Mulder reversed
the Glock, grasped it in both hands, raised it over his head,
and brought the butt of it down with all his strength onto the
face of the twelve-year-old Fox Mulder.
None of them moved as Mulder smashed the boy's face, over and
over, the long-frozen flesh breaking and splintering under his
hands. The dead face was unrecognizable by the time Mulder tossed
the gun away, not looking where it fell.
"Let's get the hell out of here."
It didn't take them long to set the explosives. Scully worked
as speedily as she could, wanting desperately to get away from
this place, to get Mulder out of here. It still took too long
for her comfort before they headed for the surface again. She
saw Mulder go back to the room where Samantha was, with Krycek,
but didn't follow them. Neither did Skinner.
In some ways the journey back up to the surface was the hardest
part of the whole experience. They climbed the stairs and the
sloping corridors with ever increasing speed; nobody said anything
like, "We'd better hurry," but they kept picking up
the pace until she was trotting behind the longer-legged men like
little Queequeg behind some big dogs, panting with exertion and
wishing her daily run hadn't been neglected in the past few months.
Gasping a little, she tried to look at Mulder, to gauge his emotions
from the set of his shoulders. Once she could have done that from
her first glimpse of him in the morning; she had known when there
was a new case, what it would be like, how he felt about it.
Now, however, she didn't know him; that was a stranger
jogging ahead of her, his shoulders unreadable. Had this changed
him so much, so fast? Could he ever recover? She was still frowning
at Mulder as Skinner dropped back beside her.
"You okay?" he murmured.
"I'm fine. What about you?"
"It'll be all right." Skinner looked away, toward Mulder.
"You don't sound totally convinced."
Skinner shrugged. "I'll be right behind you." She nodded
and picked up her pace a little more, and Skinner dropped back
further to bring up the rear.
Not until they were slogging across soggy ground that was stained
blood-red by the sunset did Mulder contact the Gunmen. The little
plane was visible as a black hump against the setting sun, and
Scully focused her eyes on it. There, thereís the way out,
the way home. She didnít hear Mulder speak into his headset,
telling the Gunmen that they were clear; she only heard the muffled
boom of the first explosion, felt the rush of hot air behind her.
"Come on!" Krycek called out, and broke into a full-out
run. Her lungs were burning as she called on her last reserves
and imitated him. Despite her efforts, Skinner soon passed her,
speeding towards the plane. All that was left behind her was the
booming of the explosions, and the rush of heat, and the fallout.
Feeling like Lotís wife, Scully slowed down, stopped, turned.
Black smoke and red fire swirled about the ruins of the installation,
consuming clones and computers, DNA samples and software programs,
false memories and half-truths. A sudden gust of wind brought
hot ash into her face, hot ash and debris from the explosions
falling down from the sky. Fallout--another kind of precipitation.
"Scully, come on!"
Mulder was calling her. She took a deep breath of the burning
air--no, she hadn't turned to salt--and jogged toward the waiting