Spoilers for *all* of season four, especially Gethsemane. Character death.
PG-13 for nongraphic M/M relationship
Scully goes to Mulder's apartment to pay last respects and finds someone else had the same idea.
To Cathy Lee, who suggested I write a longer story - here's the beginning of another series.
And to Nicci, who did a wonderful job corrupting me - this is all your fault. :-)
Uncertain Allies I - Last Respects
By Rat Lover (firstname.lastname@example.org)
* * * * * * *
Scully walked the familiar path to apartment forty seven with leaden steps. <Why do I keep doing this to myself?> she thought. And the same voice in her mind answered. <You know why.> It was a pilgrimage to the man she cared for deeply and an attempt to come to terms with his suicide.
It had been five days since she had identified Mulder's body. She hadn't been back to work since the awful hearing where she had revealed his death. Truth be told, everyone was shocked, from that self-assured cigarette smoking bastard and down to the janitors that cleaned their basement office, that Mulder had committed suicide. Whispers had begun floating around as soon as the news broke. "I always thought he was crazy, but offing himself?" And "Will she take up where he left off, the spooky heir to the spooky throne?" Skinner forced her to take an indefinite leave, for her mental, as well as physical, health. He also promised her that if she wished to resume investigating the X Files when she returned, the department would still be there. Scully almost loved Skinner for that. She would resume, but, unlike Mulder's obsession to expose the existence of extraterrestrial life on earth, she would use what little time she had left to expose the conspiracy that had killed Mulder and was killing her piece by piece.
The moment she stood in front of the door to Mulder's apartment, she knew something was wrong. The door was shut, and to all appearances, looked perfectly normal. But there was a sense of the apartment being inhabited. It was not a psychic sense, but subconscious hints that lead her instincts to warn her that she would not be alone inside. Scully drew her gun and tried the door knob. It was unlocked. She edge the door open, and slipped inside, and her heart skipped a beat. There was a man in the apartment, standing over the very spot where Mulder died, his back to her. She watched as the stranger's shoulders shook with silent sobs, bringing the black leather jacket tossed over him perilously close to sliding off.
She leveled the gun at the stranger's back, almost silently easing back the hammer. The man's crew cut head snapped up, sensing her presence. He did not turn to look at her. "You wouldn't shoot an unarmed man in the back, would you, Agent Scully?" asked a gravely voice as he slid something into his right jacket pocket.
Scully's eyes narrowed and she saw red. "Krycek," she hissed. Here was the man who had a hand in her abduction, her sister's death, and so much of Mulder's pain. A wild longing filled her to pull the trigger. But she was not one to give in to her emotional impulses. "What the hell are you doing here?"
He didn't look at her, but stared out the window that was next to Mulder's beat up couch. "Paying my last respects." Krycek's voice, usually filled with unfeeling disdain, was curiously choked with tightly leashed emotion.
"Respect?" Scully spat, incredulous. "You have no respect for anything. You're here to make sure that the perpetrators of this crime remain undiscovered."
"You're wrong, Agent Scully." Krycek turned to face her. Unsettled by his movement, the jacket slid to the floor. "I'm here to expose them."
Scully managed to stifle her gasp at the sight of Krycek's empty left sleeve. She remembered Mulder at the Congressional hearing, saying, "It's good to be able to put my arms around you. Both of them." She had been puzzled by the remark, and Mulder had never gotten around to fully explaining it. And now it made perfect sense.
She managed to tear her gaze from his missing arm to stare into his face. Krycek looked as if he hadn't slept in days and done laundry in a week, let alone bathed. <Are those really tears?> she thought, observing the wet streaks trailing down his face. But his face itself was the stone mask she was used to seeing on this man. "You wouldn't believe what an advantage this actually is," Krycek was saying matter of factly, shrugging his left shoulder. "Most assassins, despite their claims of emotional coldness, hesitate at the thought of executing a cripple. It gives me the split second needed to run, or kill."
Scully didn't take the conversational gambit. She was idly curious how Krycek lost his arm, but not enough to waver from her original question. "You said that you were here to expose the people who did this." Krycek nodded. "Why?" she bit out.
"There were other ways to neutralize him," Krycek said in a low, shaky voice. "They didn't have to murder him."
Scully stated what she assumed to be fact. "He committed suicide."
And Krycek stated what he assumed to be fact. "He was murdered. Even if he pulled the trigger himself, you know that it was murder."
"And why do you care?" Scully spat. "You betrayed him and tried to kill him."
Krycek's eyes flamed at that accusation. "I *never* attempted to kill him," he hissed. "Yes, I lied to him. Yes, I betrayed him. Yes, I misdirected him. But I never tried to kill him."
Scully kept on the attack. "But you did kill his father and my sister."
Green eyes shifted back and forth before he answered her. "Mulder's father, yes. But your sister no. I was there, but the evidence proved I wasn't the gunman. And from what I heard, Luis got better than he deserved."
"But you were there. Just as you are here now." The gun never wavered from between Krycek's eyes. <Just do it. Pull the trigger,> a voice screamed. She repeated her question with more emphasis. "Why are you here?"
"Because." Krycek's mask slipped a bit before he regained control. But Scully could see the pain in his eyes before he spirited it away to some dark corner of his soul.
It was enough for Scully to realize why Krycek was here. It was enough for Scully to realize why Krycek had not killed Mulder when he had the chance. It was enough for her to realize why Mulder always spoke of Krycek with such vehemence. It was enough for her to realize why Mulder would as soon beat Krycek as look at him. "You had feelings for him, and he once returned them."
"Yes," Krycek hissed, as if the admission hurt him. "You knew that he was bisexual, right?"
Scully nodded. She had guessed that early in their working relationship, when she had found 'the videos that weren't his.' Half of them were straight, the other half gay. Mulder, through paranoia or fear of being hurt in a relationship, had been very cautious and discrete about his attractions to other men, and unless she hadn't found those videos, she wouldn't have had a clue.
Krycek continued. "The old smoking son of a bitch knew it too. He also knew that I am. My original assignment was to get into Mulder's pants, and use it to discredit him. But then Duane Barry came along and the plan... was altered."
"Were the two of you lovers?" Scully asked, perversely intrigued. She also wanted no reminders of her missing time, and did not want anyone, especially this man to know about the nightmares she still had because of her experience. And guiding the conversation away from that subject was something she had grown adept at practicing.
"Yes," Krycek whispered. "After you were taken, Mulder turned to me for comfort I was all too happy to give. But I never gave Cancerman the proof of indiscretion he asked for."
"And why should I believe you, you lying son of a bitch?"
Krycek's forest green eyes stared into her sky blue ones. "Because I loved him as much as you did. Oh yes," he continued. "The Cigarette Smoking Man knows your little secret also."
Scully was surprised, but not overly so. She thought she had hidden the fact that she loved Mulder quite well. That tar-lunged bastard seemed to be able to get a hold of any information, no matter how closely guarded. She had admitted it to herself soon after she began working with Mulder, but never found the courage to tell him. <Actions must really speak louder than words.> "Did Mulder have any idea?"
Krycek shook his head. "He didn't have a clue. He was a very astute man, but very dense when it came to people he was close to," he said without irony or sarcasm.
They stood in silence for several minutes until Krycek's stomach rumbled loudly. "How long has it been since you had a meal?" Scully asked.
Krycek thought for a second and then shrugged his shoulders. "Don't know, a day at least," he mumbled.
"Then why don't you come with me and something to eat?" <Why am I offering?> Scully thought.
Krycek's eyes brightened a bit at the thought of food, but he still remained wary. "And be met at your door by a dozen law enforcement officers? I don't think so," he asked, wincing internally at how jaded he sound.
"I see what you mean, Krycek." Scully thought for a moment. "There's a Chinese takeout a few blocks away. I can have them deliver." She had no desire to turn Krycek over to the police right now. He had too many answers that she needed, and if he went to jail, she would never get them.
Krycek shook his head, disbelieving. "*You* are offering *me* dinner?"
"I'm offering you a temporary truce," Scully said. "And a meal. Are you going to take me up on it or not?"
Krycek pondered it for several minutes. "Okay. But it's not easy to think in terms of a truce when a gun's being aimed between my eyes."
Scully lowered it, unaware that she had been still point the gun at Krycek. She took a step towards him and then wrinkled her nose. "Why don't you take a shower."
Krycek shrugged a little sheepishly and picked up his jacket. "I guess I do have a bit of an... aroma. When you live with the rats, you get used to the stench of the sewer."
Scully watched him move off to the bathroom. <What the hell am I doing?> she thought. <He's an enemy and completely untrustworthy. Who knows what his game is, coming here.> But still she found herself moving to the phone and ordering 'the usual' she and Mulder had when ever they had a working dinner.
She heard the water start and a loud groan. Scully moved to Mulder's bedroom, chastising herself for not frisking Krycek for weapons. She looked at the discarded clothes, wondering how the man could bear to wear them. The tee shirt and cotton briefs had turned to a dingy gray and had a several more holes than when they were first sewn together. The jeans and canvas basketball shoes with velcro tabs were scuffed and ragged, and the socks in desperate need of darning. She found a set of Mulder's boxers, sweatpants, and an old but clean white tee shirt and left them for Krycek.
But it wasn't kindness that motivated her, nor the smell. This gave Scully a chance to paw through Krycek's things and see if he was without a weapon as he claimed. The only thing she found in his jeans was a beat up leather wallet with less than twenty dollars in it, and two driver's licenses from two different states in two different names, and a social security card with a third name on it , none of them his. <If 'Alex Krycek' is his real name,> she thought.
She turned her attention to his jacket. If she was going to find a gun, it would be here. But strangely enough, there was no weapon of any sort. Krycek, for some crazy reason, had been walking around unarmed. It was a fatalistic indication of how far he had sunk in his survival expectations. The only thing in his jacket was a dog-eared picture of Mulder. When she heard the knock at the front door, Scully hastily replaced the picture. As she opened the door, she could hear the water shut off.
Krycek leaned back against the slick tile, wondering what the hell he was doing. His plan had been simple enough when he heard about Mulder's death - get in, lay some ghosts to rest, and get out. But here he was caught by Scully and going to sit down to a meal with her like they were friends. The next time he had expected to see her, he expected to either be cold on a slab, or in handcuffs.
<Now there's a thought.> Krycek remembered the last time he had been in Mulder's apartment, and in handcuffs. <Great,> he thought. <Now I'm tired, paranoid, hungry, *and* horny.> He sighed and stepped out of the shower, grabbing the gun he kept with him at all times, and stopped short when he saw the clothes on the bed. Mulder's clothes. He lifted the tee shirt to his face reverently. Closing his eyes, he inhaled, breathing in the scent of Mulder. He shivered. Scully had no way of knowing, but she had chosen almost the exact outfit Mulder had been wearing when he had come over, the same night they had made love for the first time.
<No crying, not here, not now,> Krycek told himself sternly as rebellious tears seeped from the corner of his green eyes. For all he knew, Mulder's apartment was still bugged and Cancerman's henchmen were on their way to finish what a carbomb, an olien, and a Russian gulag didn't. <It's stupid for me to stay here any longer,> he thought. <It just increases the chances of Cancerman finding me.> But if he left, he wouldn't be certain where or when his next meal would be. So he would eat and get away as quickly as he could.
He dressed, still a little off-balance, missing the use of his left hand. But it felt wonderful to have showered and be in clean clothes. He slipped the gun he had carried into the bathroom back into his jacket pocket, his fingers brushing against the photograph. <I thought I left this in the other pocket. Scully must have rifled through my clothes.> His estimation of the FBI agent rose another notch. She was willing to call a truce with him, but not fully trust him, a wise decision when dealing with anyone as far as Krycek was concerned.
He waited until he heard the delivery boy leave and then went into the living area. Scully had put the take out containers down on the coffee table and was finding some plates. The small table in the kitchen area was covered with Mulder's paperwork, and it seemed a sacrilege to move it. The only open area to sit and eat at was the couch.
Both Scully and Krycek looked at the couch, and then to each other. Both were thinking that if a piece of furniture could be haunted, this couch would definitely be a candidate. This was where Mulder lived, and eventually died. Here was where he slept, ate, watched his videos, and thought up some of his strange theories. It didn't feel right to sit there and eat. Krycek looked back at Scully. He picked up one of the bags of Chinese food and moved to back to the bedroom. Scully followed, picking up the other bag and carrying it along with the plates.
Somehow, Mulder's presence was less prevalent in his bedroom. It was just as messy at the rest of the apartment, but didn't quite seem as personalized as the couch. Krycek sat down on the edge of the bed next to the wall, cross legged. Scully sat down at the far end, plates and food forming a barrier between them.
But as they ate, some of those barriers tumbled. They found themselves sharing stories about the things Mulder did that was a source of endless amusement or exasperation to them. They talked for hours, each trying to find some sense in Mulder's seemingly senseless death. Krycek meanwhile, was disturbed to find himself growing attracted to Scully. It seemed disrespectful somehow, Mulder being dead for less than a week and he was having feelings towards another person. <I'm just feeling this way because this is where we spent a few nights.> That and the fact that he had been involved with the plot that was supposed to lead to her death and instead lead to the death of her sister. <I'm supposed to be a heartless son of a bitch.>
Eventually, Scully noticed the late afternoon light streaming in the window. "It's late," she said. Krycek nodded, the stone face mask having dropped back into place. If he had the lost-puppy-look, or the woe-is-me look, Scully would have gone with her instincts that he was lying about the whole situation. But the young man was struggling not to let his emotions show. And suddenly, Krycek wasn't the horrible monster any longer, but an all too human, and handsome, man. <I shouldn't be attracted to him,> she thought. <He's part of the reason I'm dying of cancer.> But she needed to touch and be touched, to reassure herself that she was still alive, if only for the moment. While in an internal war with her emotions and her logic, she reached out and touched his left shoulder.
Krycek jumped from the unexpected intimacy. No one had touched him gently since Tunguska. He looked up into Scully's eyes and saw the pain that was there, wincing a bit when he realized he had caused some of the it. He tried to pull away, but Scully kept her hand on his shoulder. "I should go." But he made no move to leave. Almost against his will, he raised his hand to her face.
Scully didn't flinch when Krycek reached up and stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers. Warning signals flared through her mind. But she almost managed to sublimate it. <Your grief has you doing things you normally wouldn't consider.> She reached up and also stroked his stubbly cheek, going against the grain of his beard.
Krycek rubbed against her hand. "This is wrong," he purred. "I shouldn't even be here." He grabbed her wrist. "What the fuck are we doing, Dana?" he asked, looking down at her. But of its own volition, his hand slid up and down her arm.
<'Fuck' is right,> Scully thought, staring back at him."We should be mortal enemies," she said, trying to inject some reality into the situation. She failed miserably as far as she was concerned. "But tonight, I think we are just two people trying to comfort each other over the loss of a loved one, Alex."
Krycek stood there, shocked as the words came out of her mouth. He leaned forward slowly, giving her time to back out, and brushed his closed lips against hers. He pulled back almost immediately. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have...." He fell silent.
Scully studied the man before her. "You're right. We shouldn't," she said with not a little sadness.
Krycek sighed and tenderly brushed Scully's fiery hair away from her eyes. "Regrets?"
"Yes," Scully said. "But I don't think Mulder would have forgiven me if I did."
"I know he wouldn't have me and I wish that he were around so we could find out. You were the only thing he considered... uncorrupted." Krycek looked up at the ceiling and exhaled loudly. "I guess it's back to the basement for you and the sewers for me."
Scully rolled onto her right side. "I could always use a source, Alex. And a partner."
Krycek raised his eyebrows. "In bed?"
"On the streets. I need all the help I can get if I'm going to finish this before I...." Scully couldn't complete her sentence.
Krycek's eyes widened. "Cancer?" he asked, shrewdly tapping a finger just above the bridge of her nose.
Scully nodded. "Inoperable. It also has metastasized." While she could not speak of Mulder's death without struggling to suppress her emotions, she had no difficulties speaking of her own.
"They did this to you." Scully confirmed Krycek's statement with a nod. "Why?"
Scully stared straight ahead. "To make Mulder believe the lie."
"But which lie?" Krycek murmured in an undertone.
Scully did not want to start debating alien existence with Krycek. They had more urgent things to discuss. "Now what?" she asked.
Krycek had clicked back over to the street survival mode. "I think it would be best if I got up and left, without you knowing where I went."
Scully arched an eyebrow. "And how do I contact you?"
"You don't," Krycek said. "If I'm needed, I'll be there."
They sat there for several more minutes without saying anything. Krycek uncrossed his legs and swung them over the edge of the bed. He looked back at Scully for a moment.
She looked back. "Take care, Krycek."
"You too, Agent Scully." Krycek stood and walked out of the room. Scully didn't move until five minutes after she heard the front door shut.