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
Pairing: M/Sk
Rating: R for stuff (no sex)
Feedback to: lonchura@yahoo.com
URL: http://lonchura.tripod.com/
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".

Fallout
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 died."

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 person's mind."

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 out."

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 effort.
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 plane.

***

end