Disclaimer - Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Alex Krycek, and Cancerman, and any other XF regulars mentioned in passing belong to TenThirteen Productions. No copyright infringement intended to any of TenThirteen Production's property. Jess Leahs, Lindy Leahs, Michael Leahs, Annie Leahs, Alpha Wolf and the various generic MIB's are mine however, but I am willing to share if asked nicely.

 

Disclaimer - Quotes are used without permission. No copyright infringement or disrespect intended.

 

Why are you wasting time reading these disclaimers? You know already what they're going to say. No plot twists at all. Get on to the story.

 

Feedback is always appreciated and encouraged. I need the ego stroking. Or someone to point out where I messed up.

 

Synopsis - This picks up right after Loup Garou - The Kindred left off. Read it first and then this. Krycek faces his past and tries to make amends. Mulder has to deal with the fact that Jess had disregarded his wishes. And Jess has to find a balance between the man she once loved and the man she now loves. Season 4 spoilers.

 

Relationship alert, and I ain't talking about only Jess and Krycek. NC17 for human/werewolf sex, but nothing kinky. Consider yourself warned.

 

Loup Garou - the Kindred was written well in advance of Season 4's Tunguska/Terma. I have chosen to adapt around those events, so any inaccuracies with the first story are probably intentional.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Loup Garou IV - Life Mates - A Sequel to The Kindred

 

By Shael (wolfcatxf@imadethis.org)

http://www.parkers-place.net/ratlover/wolfcatxf/loupgarou

Completed Dec.1996

 

"People love who they love, and it doesn't have to make sense to the people on the outside."

- Jerry Springer

 

"We're not angels, Akasha; we are not gods. To be human, that's what most of us long for. It is the human which has become myth to us."

- Lestat, "The Queen of the Damned," Anne Rice

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess stepped off the airplane with a sigh. <Home, sweet home, with earthquakes, drive by shootings, and smog. God! It feels good to be back in San Jose.>

 

A short blonde child streaked towards her. "Jessie!" she screamed.

 

"Hey, Lindy!" She knelt down and hugged the little girl tightly. "I can't tell you how much I've missed you."

 

"And how about me?" a male voice asked. A six foot brown haired man that bore a striking resemblance to Jess stood nearby.

 

Jess grinned up at her brother. "Missed you about the same as always, Michael, not much."

 

"Very funny, sis. Let's get your luggage. Are you sure you want to spend the night at my place? Not that Annie and I don't want you too, we just thought that you'd want to get home as soon as possible."

 

"I just need to be around you, Annie, and Lindy for a day or two." Jess's voice took on a sad tone. "I've got a lot to tell you all."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully looked up from her paperwork to stare at Mulder staring at the wall. They were filling out the report forms from their latest case. Her partner was uncharacteristically quiet, not trying to convince her of the correctness of his werewolf theories. He was trying to absorb all that had happened in the last few days. "Mulder?"

 

He looked at her. "Yes, Scully?"

 

"You're upset. Do you want to talk about it?"

 

"I had him, Scully," he started softly. "I had him and I could have finally have gotten revenge for my father and information to use against the Consortium. And I just let him go." The frustration was growing plainer in his voice.

 

"Mulder, you didn't just... ."

 

"I just let him go," he repeated louder. He slammed his fists against the desk. "Damn it, Scully. I let him go because my best friend had to go and fall in love with Alex Krycek, of all people."

 

"Mulder, Jess didn't intend to get involved with anyone, let alone Krycek. She's miserable over it too." She decided it was time to break one of their unspoken rules - no touching at work. She got up to move behind his chair. Scully massaged Mulder's tight shoulder muscles. "And you did the right thing. If you killed Krycek, or hurt him, Jess wouldn't have forgiven you."

 

Mulder sighed and leaned back into her massage. "You're right. But the next time I see Krycek, I may not be so forgiving."

 

"Neither will I. But first we have to find him."

 

* * * * * * *

 

"Jess, what you've just told us, it's incredible," Annie said. "And you haven't seen this Alex since?"

 

Jess, Annie and Michael were sitting in the living room of her brother's house. It was late at night and Lindy was in bed.

 

"No, and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing." Jess sighed. "And I have no idea what I'm going to do."

 

"Do?" Michael's voice had a shade of disbelief. "You love him. He obviously loves you. You'll eventually find him, or he'll find his way to you."

 

"It's not that simple," Jess began. "I owe Mulder... ."

 

"Jess, listen to me," Annie interrupted. "You don't owe Mulder shit. You don't have to choose to tell him anything. You helped him with the murder case. That's all you owed him. You don't have to carry out his personal plan of vengeance."

 

"She's right, sis. You have don't have to tell Mulder when Alex shows up."

 

"If," Jess said pessimistically.

 

"When."

 

"Yeah," Annie said. "My husband, the hopelessly romantic vet, is usually right about these things."

 

"I'll hopeless romantic you, you pediatrician. Jess, sometimes I think you told us about being a werewolf just so that you could have medical treatment in whatever form you happen to be in. Oh, I just remembered. I found something the other day that I thought you might want." Michael picked up a black jewelry case from where it had been resting on the coffee table. He tossed it in her general direction.

 

Jess plucked it out of the air with a casual grace. "Still testing my reflexes, Mikey?" She opened the box. A shocked look passed over her features. "Where did you find it?"

 

"Up in the attic. I was searching for some school books and stumbled across it. Since Dad didn't let you keep any of Rachel's things, I thought you might want it."

 

Jess pulled the ornate silver cross out of the box. "I thought Rachel was buried wearing it. How did you get it?" She slipped the chain around her neck.

 

"Mom took it off just after the funeral. She was saving it for you, but Dad didn't want anything of Rachel's left to remind him. It was in one of the boxes of things you sent me to check after they died. And don't stab yourself with it," he added. "It *is* pure silver."

 

"Thanks. And I may be depressed about Alex, but I'm not suicidal," Jess laughed. "Do you really think we'll find each other?" she asked wistfully.

 

Michael looked hard at his younger sister. <I haven't seen her this lonely since Rachel died.> "Yeah, sis, the two of you will."

 

Annie chimed in. "Of course, Jess. After all, wolves mate for life."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Lindy couldn't sleep. She was with Jess, and everything was safe and secure. Back home for two months, life had gotten back to normal for the two of them, as normal as it can be for an adult and a juvenile werewolf. Everything should have been fine.

 

But it wasn't.

 

Jess had tried hard not to let her grief and loneliness show, but the little girl could see it when Jess thought she wasn't being watched. She wasn't eating as much, she wasn't sleeping well, and her normally pale skin was even more pallid.

 

A thought crossed her mind. Her mind powers were starting to develop. Jess could send thought messages and she could receive them. Her ability to send and to sense thoughts that weren't broadcasted wasn't so good, yet. Though her powers were weak and behaved erratically, she could easily sense strong emotions. And Jess's were very strong. <Maybe then I can help her feel better.>

 

In fact, she could sense Jess remembering something with fondness and longing at this moment. <Maybe if I try hard enough, I'll actually be able to see what she's remembering.> Lindy hadn't tried it before on her own, and she wanted to show off to Jess. <Maybe that will cheer her up.>

 

She sat up in bed and got comfortable. Her cat jumped down from the bed where it had been sleeping. She started to narrow her focus down to the woman in the other room. Jess emotions were washing over and intertwining with hers so that Lindy had a hard time remembering that she was the observer, not the experiencer.

 

<Yes!> The mental image came slowly into focus. If Jess realized her mind was being probed, she gave no sign of it. She was lost in the memory of her and a man together in bed. Naked, she was moaning and guiding his head down her body. He started kissing and touching between her... .

 

Lindy screamed. Jess was in her room in a heartbeat. ~Lindy, what are you doing?~ "Are you okay? You shouldn't try that without letting me know."

 

"You let him touch you like that?" Lindy asked shivering. ~How could you?~ She remembered how *he* had touched her like that. She hated and feared the smoldering look in *his* eye that would appear before *he* started to... .

 

~Lindy,~ she mindspoke softly. She sat down on the bed. "The man who hurt you was sick. He twisted something that is a normal and beautiful act into something perverted. Sex between two consenting adults, like me and Alex, can be an expression of love."

 

"But, but you enjoyed it. Whenever *he* did me, it hurt."

 

"There is a bit of a physical size difference between you and me. And I was relaxed and not fighting it. In fact I was encouraging him to touch me. On the other hand, you didn't want anything to do with *him*. No one had any right to do what *he* did to you." Jess paused and looked at her sideways. "You know, we've talked about your abuse. We've talked about having sex, AIDS, VD, and pregnancy. But we've never talked about making love, though."

 

"What's the difference?"

 

"Having sex is the actual physical act, no emotions or merely lust and a greedy longing for pleasure attached. Making love however involves the deeper emotions, the affection, the trust, the love. I could have sex anytime I wanted to. But there are only two men I have made love to. And only one I could now," she in an undertone, almost as an afterthought.

 

"Is that Alex?" At Jess's nod, she asked the question she had been preying on her mind. "Is he gonna come here?" The fear was plain in Lindy's voice.

 

<Ah, here we go.> "I don't know sweetheart." She stroked Lindy's hair. "But if he does come here, things may change some. But two things won't - I'll always love you and protect you. I'll always do my damnedest to keep *anyone* from hurting you."

 

"Even Alex?" Lindy sounded scared. "He won't want to..."

 

"Even Alex," Jess said firmly. "Not all men are sick like *he* was. Remember Mr. Mulder? And what about Michael? They haven't tried to do anything to you, right?"

 

"Yeah," Lindy said hesitantly.

 

"Well, neither will Alex. If he does show up, he and I might be sharing my room. But he won't ever hurt you the way that sick man did. And if he does," Jess pulled Lindy's head against her chest, "you tell me right away, and I'll make sure he doesn't hurt you ever again." ~I promise.~

 

* * * * * * *

 

They lay together in the darkness of her bedroom. Scully was absorbed in her lover's motions. He was gently exploring her body with his tongue and fingers. She could feel his hot hardness growing against the tops her thighs and slowly, teasingly moving in between them.

 

The phone rang. "Shit. Not now," her lover said. He backed away as she reached for the bedside phone.

 

"Scully." She paused. "What? When did this happen!" She listened for a few moments more. "Yes, thank you for informing me." She hung up the phone. "Your cell phone will go off in a few seconds."

 

"No it won't. I shut it off." Mulder grinned at her. "I didn't want us to be interrupted, for all the good that did. So what's so important?"

 

"That was Skinner's office. They relieved a call from the jail where the man who calls himself Alpha Wolf was being held. A guard went into solitary to check on the man you shot defending Jess. He were found an hour ago with his neck slashed open. There's no sign of the man you wounded."

 

"He escaped?" Mulder's eyebrows shot up.

 

"Yes, and there's no clue as to where he went." Scully shook her head. "Six months they held him, and we still don't know who he is."

 

"Well, we can't do anything about it now." Mulder pulled her back down onto him. He silenced her comments with a kiss. In a few moments, the call was the last thing on their minds.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess was in a good mood. She had just seen Lindy off to school. The youngling was enrolled in an all girls school for now, so she wouldn't have to deal with boys. Her male teachers were aware of her past sexual abuse, and worked with Lindy. Fortunately, the PE teacher was a woman, so none of the teachers other actually had any reason to be in physical contact with her. For now, Lindy was coping very well. In fact, she had become an A student.

 

So Jess was alone when she got the call. "Hello?" she answered the phone.

 

"Jess, it's Mulder."

 

"Hey Mulder, what's up?"

 

"Something happened that you should know about. The man that called himself Alpha Wolf escaped. And we still don't know his real name, even though it's been three months."

 

Jess swallowed. "Thanks for the warning."

 

"No problem, hell beast. That aside, how are you doing?"

 

"Surviving. And lonely," Jess sighed.

 

"Jess, forget about Krycek. You could do a lot better than a cold blooded murderer," Mulder scolded.

 

<Here we go again.> She immediately went on the defensive. "I've done worse."

 

"Jess, Jake did treat you badly. But that doesn't mean that you have to pine over the first man that you've bedded in twelve years."

 

Her eyes narrowed. "First of all, Fox," she hissed, "I was referring to the murders *I* committed all those years ago. Second, Alex did treat me better than Jake. But I miss him because he loved me and I love him. I'm not 'pining' over him just because he's good in the sack. Thirdly, who I sleep with ceased to be any of your business when we stopped having sex. And fourth, who said that I've been celibate the whole time?"

 

"Jess, listen to me. I didn't mean to get you mad. But I need you to tell me if he shows up."

 

"Why, so you can kill him in front of me?"

 

Mulder was exasperated. "You don't know who he's connected with. You could be putting yourself and Lindy in danger."

 

Jess wasn't about to let him have the last word. "The same way you have been putting Dana?"

 

"That's not fair." Mulder sounded hurt. "I'm just trying to help you."

 

Jess relaxed her stance. "Sorry, but I can't promise you anything. I don't know what I'll do until it happens. But I will think long and hard before I do anything."

 

"Okay." Mulder sounded resigned to her answer. Her response had not really surprised him. They had had some variation on this conversation for the last few weeks when he called. "Let me know if you need anything. Goodbye, Jess."

 

"Bye, Mulder." Jess hung up the phone. She rolled her eyes. <So much for having an upbeat day.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

<I'm almost there. Just a little further to go.> He refolded the map and put it in the backpack that held his only worldly possessions. He had been working steadily towards his goal for the last six weeks, since he had returned to US soil from St. Petersburg. It was almost within reach.

 

<So close, so damn close.> He couldn't afford to make an error now. The slightest misstep and everything would end in disaster. He didn't think he was being followed. But he had to be sure. He didn't want to bring her into any more danger.

 

<I'll make the final push from San Francisco tonight,> he thought wearily. <Then I can rest, if only for a day or so.> Part of him wanted to give up, lay down, and die. But part of him was just too stubborn to give up. Maybe that was why They had chosen him, for his tenacity. Or his naivete. <Or maybe it was my stupidity.>

 

Alex Krycek walked the overcast streets of San Francisco, waiting for night to fall. <It will be safest to move after dark.> That was how he had been traveling after he left the freighter he had stowed away on - hole up for a month, wait for the full moon to rise, make the kill his animal instincts demanded, run like hell as a wolf as far as he could get in one night, and then start the cycle all over. It was a nerve wracking waiting game. <I wish I could control the Change and didn't have to wait for the moon, but at least I don't shift unpredictably.>

 

<And it's a good thing that the Change also triggers regeneration,> he thought, unconsciously rubbing his right hand against his left arm. Krycek hadn't been surprised when, that night several months ago, he felt the familiar pains of full moon transformation overtake the the phantom pains of his missing arm. He was aware that werewolves had incredible regenerative and healing capabilities, but he had been surprised to see the missing limb explode from the stump as he went from human to lupine form. And even more amazed when he kept the arm when he Changed from wolf to human.

 

He sighed. <I'm almost there, Jess. Please be waiting.> If she turned him away, he had decided what to do. Too many people had wished him dead. His mother had been gone for many years. He wasn't sure if his father was alive or not, and he didn't want to think about him. His experience in Russia had finally broken his will to play the game. He had bought the silver arrowhead necklace and filed the edges to razor sharpness. There would be no reason for him to continue if Jess didn't want anything to do with him. His life was worthless without her. He would have no one and no reason to live. But he had to see her one last time. <Either way, tonight I'll know what to do.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder sat on his couch, thinking about the full moon and Jess. She would probably be out with Lindy, howling her lungs out. And hopefully had forgotten about Krycek, although it seemed unlikely.

 

Every time he had called and talked to her and tried to bring up Krycek, she had gotten defensive and snappy. She listened to what he said about his recent adventure in Russia and Krycek's involvement in the militia. Then she snarled something about the fact that she had also killed as a werewolf, so was Mulder going to come after her too?

 

<Why Jess and Krycek? Why not Jess and Pendrell? Or even Jess and Colton? I could live with that.> He shook his head. He wanted to see his best friend and ex-lover happy. But he also wanted revenge for what Krycek had done to him and Scully. The question was how to do it without alienating Jess.

 

Unknown to Scully, he had the Lone Gunmen trying to trace Krycek's movements in Russia and keeping an eye on the ports of entry. If he ever returned to the US, Krycek would try to contact her, seeking shelter. He wanted to find Krycek before Jess did, so she wouldn't be put in the position of having to choose between them. But as more time passed, the less likely that seemed.

 

* * * * * * *

 

<Damn. It was a good thing I didn't Change and go out tonight.> Later that evening, Jess sat by the window to her apartment. She was watching the West Coast winter rainstorm. <Jeez. It's miserable out there. At least it's not like the time it flooded downtown.>

 

<I wonder how Lindy's handling the storm,> she mused. Lindy loved to sit and watch the rain coming down from the safety of a window. She had begged Jess, Annie, and Michael to be allowed to spend the night at his place, where the windows looked out into a street instead of another apartment. And Annie had indulgently said okay, and yes she could bring her cat Chloe before Jess or Michael could protest. <She's got us just where she wants us,> she thought with a grin.

 

There was a soft scratch at the door. <Who is that?> Jess wasn't expecting any visitors, especially not in this weather. <And why would they scratch at the door and not knock?> She opened the door.

 

Standing there was a tall, thin, shaggy, black and white half-wolf half-husky, covered with mud. <Poor thing,> she thought. <This dog's obviously had a rough time of it somewhere.> "Come on in, boy. Can't turn you away on a night like this." The dog stumbled in, weak and exhausted. She pulled out of the refrigerator some left over roast that she was saving for tomorrow's lunch. "Here, eat up."

 

It wolfed down the leftovers. Jess kept frowning at the dog. There was something familiar about its eyes, a brilliant green instead of the usual brown, blue, or gold found in a husky. And at the base of the dog's ear, almost hidden by the shaggy fur, she could see a glimmer of a gold earring. <Oh. My. God.> "Alex?" Jess asked softly.

 

The werewolf whimpered weakly, closing his eyes. Krycek slumped against her legs managed a shallow nod. <Thank whoever's up there that she recognized me.>

 

"Oh God, Alex," Jess whispered. She knelt down and pulled him in close. "I've missed you," she said, burying her face in his fur. "I've been searching for you since... hoping that... praying you were... ." Her voice trailed off, remembering how they had been split apart. She started to sob quietly.

 

Krycek placed his head on her shoulder. He licked her face in affection, trying to comfort her.

 

Jess smiled through her tears. She took the fanged head in her hands. "I love you, you smelly mutt. But let's take care of the smelly part." She led him to the bathroom. "Can you control your transformation?" She started the water running.

 

A shake of the head and a soft whine was her answer. "Okay, we'll just work with it. Get in."

 

Krycek stood in the bathtub and allowed Jess to soap and scrub his body, washing away the muck from his travels. He sighed as he felt his tense muscles relax. <I'm safe, at least for the moment. It's wonderful to have a full stomach and feel clean again.> His head drooped in contentment.

 

Jess could feel the thick fur thinning out under her hands. Slowly the back was broadening. The hocks were folding forward. The muzzle was slowly shrinking back into a human nose and lips. She repeatedly rinsed his body. By the time she had finished grooming him and had gotten him out of the tub, he was fully human again and half asleep.

 

"Missed you, Jess," he murmured as she toweled him off. His arms fell around her and he pressed his nose to the skin of her neck, inhaling deeply. "Love you."

 

"Love you too." Jess brushed her lips past an ear. "Your dead on your feet. Let's get you to bed. We'll have time to talk in the morning."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess sat up after putting Krycek to bed, watching him sleep sprawled on his back. <He looks so peaceful now. Almost angelic.> She brushed his hair away from his face tenderly. He stirred, muttered something unintelligible, and resettled on his side. His left hand was fisted and laying near his head, making Jess wonder if he had been a thumb-sucker late into his childhood. <Poor thing. Seeing him like this, it's hard to believe what Mulder told me.> She got up and moved to the living room.

 

She dropped to the couch. <Mulder. Oh God!> Jess hadn't allowed herself to think about Krycek coming back into her life. She always talked about it as if it could happen, but she never actually let herself believe it for a moment. <If I call Mulder, he's gonna kill Alex. If I don't call Mulder and he finds out, he's gonna hate me, and I lose a friend, and probably gain an enemy.>

 

Jess put her heads in her hands. <What am I going to do? Time to make a choice.> She sat there thinking for a few minutes, and then picked up the phone.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek woke up to the chimes of a grandfather clock in the other room. He was well rested for the first time in a long time. He stretched and looked around the room. He was lying in a full bed with a home made dog quilt thrown over him. An old mahogany dresser graced the opposite wall. On the bedside table was a picture of a happy family - Jess, someone who looked like the male version of her, a chestnut haired woman with her arm around him, and a blond seven year old girl that was beaming ear to ear. There was a second older picture of a boy and two girls. And a third of the blond girl. <Must be her family.>

 

He slowly got out of the bed. Although soaking in the bath last night had helped, he was sore from traveling so far so fast. <Better find my clothes.> Naked, he padded into the living room, also searching for Jess.

 

The sound of the door knob turning startled him. <Shit! Someone followed me.> He looked around to find some sort of weapon to defend himself.

 

He needn't have worried. Jess stepped through the door, carrying several plastic bags with the name of a local drugstore imprinted on them. She was also carrying the backpack he had dropped outside her door. She broke into a beautiful smile when she saw him standing there. "You're awake," she said, going to him. She put her arms around his neck, kissing him passionately.

 

<God! She's more beautiful than I remembered.> His arms wound possessively around her body, reassuring him that she was real. He returned the kiss crying, releasing the pent up emotions of their separation. He could taste her salty tears as well as his own.

 

When the kiss ended, Jess stepped away a little shyly. "I got you some things. I thought you'd want to clean up. I hope I got the right size." She handed him one of the bags. "It looked like the stuff you had seen better days."

 

"Thanks." Inside was a toothbrush, razor, a set of sweats and boxers. "Let me go get dressed."

 

"Okay." Jess kissed his cheek. As he moved to the bathroom, he heard her talking. "Do you want to talk about what happened?" she asked as she put the rest of her purchases away.

 

He pulled on the boxers and sweats. "Last night or before?"

 

"Whatever you're comfortable with." Jess appeared in the doorway, leaning against it, arms crossed.

 

"I'm not comfortable with any of it." Krycek looked at her with mixed emotions. "I wanted to tell you, but I wasn't sure how. And I wanted to keep you safe."

 

"Trust me, Alex, I was in danger long before I met you. You haven't figured it out yet, have you?" She shook her head. "Don't you know why Mulder asked me to help?"

 

Krycek shook his head. "I figured you were supposed to be psychic or something," he said around a mouthful of toothpaste.

 

"Since I was working with Spooky? Close, but not quite." Jess grinned. "It's so obvious that I missed it when we started dating. You see," she paused, looking him in the eyes, "I'm also a werewolf."

 

Krycek blinked. That was the last thing he expected her to say. But it made sense in a twisted way. <It explains the way it felt like we knew each other as soon as we met.> He spat out the foam. "How?" <I don't remember seeing her at the labs.>

 

"That's a long story. One that can wait until after breakfast, or I guess it would be lunch. It's almost eleven."

 

"And maybe wait until after... something else?" He didn't dare voice what he wanted - her.

 

Jess's grin got wider. "Of course. Why do you think I went to a *drugstore*?" She stepped in close and rubbed her hand against his chest, tracing lightly the swirls of his chest hair.

 

"Jessica," he whispered throatily. He could feel goose bumps trailing after her hand. He felt certain stirrings for the first time in a long time. He lifted her hand to his lips.

 

Jess shivered. Her lips parted and eyes shut. "Alex." Her breathing quickened.

 

Krycek leaned in close, lips parting to match hers. Just as they made contact, his stomach rumbled.

 

They both pulled back giggling. "I guess that means breakfast first." Jess turned to go to the kitchen. <He looks like he lost some weight. Life on the run definitely does not agree with him.> "Eggs and bacon okay?"

 

"Yeah, sounds great."

 

* * * * * * *

 

The man in the trenchcoat carried the package as if he were transporting the Royal Crown Jewels of Great Britain to their safe house. And in a way, the information that was on the video tape in the brown wrapping was more valuable. He had received it from his contact on the West Coast. Now all that remained was making sure the right people saw and acted on it.

 

He didn't pretend to understand his boss's orders. The Cigarette Smoking Man didn't owe him any explanation. As long as he carried out this assignment successfully, he wouldn't worry about it.

 

* * * * * * *

 

After eating together, they moved back to the living room. "You're not mad at me for not telling..."

 

"Alex," Jess interrupted, "how can I be angry with you when I'm guilty of the same thing?"

 

His shoulders slumped in relief. "So how much time do we have together?" Krycek asked, sitting on the couch.

 

"I called Michael last night. Annie, my bro's wife, will bring Lindy back tomorrow."

 

"Actually, I meant how long will we be together, alone or not?"

 

"What do you mean?" Jess looked puzzled by the question. She sat down beside him.

 

"I'm assuming Mulder knows I'm here. It's only a matter of time before he comes after me."

 

Jess looked away uncomfortably. "Mulder doesn't know. No one does, except Michael and Annie."

 

"Say again?" He put a hand to her cheek, turning her face to him.

 

"Mulder and I haven't gotten along well since... you know." Jess gave a weak laugh. "He knows me too well. He figured if you showed up here, I wouldn't tell him. We've had many 'discussions' about it." She smiled. "I guess he was right."

 

Krycek's hand slid from her cheek to entangle itself in her hair. "So we have no worries, at least for the moment," he murmured. He pulled her head to his and kissed her.

 

Jess slid towards him, easing onto his lap. Her hands brought his other hand to her breast. He slowly kneaded it through her clothing. "Oh God," he whispered. She was just as firm as he remembered.

 

Jess's breathing deepened. She shifted, straddling him. Her hands slid under Krycek's shirt, stroking his soft skin. Her lips moved across his cheek. Her breath tickled his ear. "I want you. I need to feel you moving inside of me." She took his earlobe between her teeth and gently bit down, toying with his earring with her tongue.

 

Krycek could only growl in response. But still he hesitated. He gently lifted her off his lap and then stood up. "Are you sure you want this? There is a lot that has happened that you don't know. I fucked up big time." <And was fucked up big time.>

 

Jess stood up beside him, pressing herself against him. Her fingers intertwined with his. "Alex, Mulder's told me some of it. We can talk about it later. And I know it will be dangerous. I know it puts you, me, and my family at risk. But I love you and I'd rather face that danger with you than on my own."

 

Krycek leaned his forhead against hers, looking into her eyes. "Jess, I love you with all my heart. Anything that is within my power I would do for you."

 

"Well, right now all I want is for you to make passionate love to me."

 

"I can do that." He scooped Jess up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom.

 

He gently lowered her onto the bed. Jess sat her up and pulled him onto the bed on top of her. Krycek groaned as one hand entangled in his hair and the other slid down to cup his ass. She began to squeeze rythimically. He kissed the tender skin behind the angle of her jaw before nibbling on her earlobe.

 

Jess arched up against him, sighing softly. "Alex, this is real, right? This isn't a dream?"

 

She felt the wet warmth recede from her ear. "If this is a dream," he whispered huskily, "I never want to wake up." His lips brushed hers tenderly before moving to lick her other ear. He then pulled back to watch her as she reacted to what he was about to do.

 

She whimpered as he laid a finger on the center of her forehead. Krycek ever so slowly traced the line of symmetry down her nose to pause at her lips. They parted to lure his finger between her teeth. He gasped as she sucked it gently, an imitation of a more intimate act she wanted to perform.

 

He shivered and backed off slightly to kneel between her legs, which were spread in welcome. The finger reluctantly withdrew to continue tracing down her face and neck. He toyed lightly with the collar of her button down shirt. With a look of complete absorption, he slowly undid it, revealing a soft cotton bra. "So beautiful," he whispered, sliding it off to expose her breasts. "What?" he said as she shifted uneasily beneath him and looked away.

 

"How can you say that?" was her answer. Tears slipped from her eyes. "How can I be beautiful with what Jake did to me? With the way he scarred me, slashed me?"

 

The scars, some knife blade thin, some jagged tooth marks, traced across her breasts and stomach like lines of white fire. Two bite marks circled around her nipples. The slashes radiated outward from her nipples to the base of her breasts and traced the path between her breasts to her navel. For the first time, he realized that she too had a past to overcome. The cocky, smart-mouthed, devil-take-the-hindmost, werewolf woman he loved could also be sad, shy, and uncertain, afraid her body would be a turn off, all because of what an abusive boyfriend had done to her one night in a drunken rage.

 

"Jessica," he whispered softly. A hand gently turned her head back to look at him, hovering over her. Looking at her chest, he deliberately smiled wide and wantonly. "I see a beautiful woman that I love with all my heart who has been though the fire, and came out so much stronger. I think you are the most gorgeous creature I've ever seen." Looking into her eyes, he lunged his hips towards hers so his cock prodded her thigh. The sweats he was wearing did nothing to constrain his hard-on. "And my body hasn't changed its mind about making love to you."

 

She closed her eyes, smiled, and softly whimpered as he bent down to kiss away her tears. Jess's hands moved from where she was cradling his ass to slide to the hem of his shirt. She peeled the shirt deftly off his body, making his cock throb even harder.

 

Krycek leaned in for another lingering kiss. Their first time had been franticly consumanted, both having abstained for so long. Now he wanted to draw this encounter out as long as possible, uncertain they would ever have a chance for a repeat performance. But the sight and feel of bare skin against bare skin almost made him change his mind. His tongue slid along hers, relishing the feeling of wet, warm velvet.

 

Meanwhile, Jess had kept her hands busy. She worried his sweatpants and boxers down to mid thigh. Her deft hands then traced up the inside of his thighs, making him shiver. They slid around to the back of his thighs kept moving up his back to end at his shoulders, holding him tight against her.

 

Krycek moaned and reluctantly pulled away from her mouth to travel downwards. He placed feather light kisses around her breast and matched his movements on her other with his fingers, spiraling inwards to her erect nipples. He heard her gasp as he gently blew across them. He gently sucked and pinched them, and she bucked upwards and tightened her hold on his shoulders.

 

"Let me sit up," he whispered. Jess relaxed her grip as he crouched upwards and wiggled out of the sweats. "Now lift your hips." He slowly, reverently removed her jeans and panties. "Do you have any condoms?"

 

Jess smiled. "Like I said earlier, why do you think I went to a *drugstore*? For their choice in clothing?" Never taking her eyes from him, she reached behind her to pull open a drawer of the bed stand. She fumbled blindly and pulled out an unopened box.

 

Krycek eagerly snatched the box from her hand and ripped it open. Hands trembling with excitement, he tried to open the shiny foil packet.

 

"Alex, wait." Jess sat up and put a hand over his. "Let me do it." She pulled the package from his hands. "Now lay back and let me do the work."

 

"Jess, what are you doing?" he asked as she shoved him down gently so he lay with his head at the foot of the bed.

 

"Something I've wanted to do for a long time." Supporting her weight on her elbows, Jess bent to suck at his navel. And then she moved her lips lower, blowing softly into his pubic hair.

 

Krycek moaned and sat up. He knew what she wanted, and he wanted it too. His hands grasped either side of her head and guided her to his engorged cock. He gasped as he felt a warmth cover his glans.

 

He shifted under her, lifting his hips involuntarily, urging her to take more. Her right hand traced the skin inside his thigh to start massaging his balls. She then lunged, taking all of him she could. She felt the end of his cock press against the back of her throat.

 

"Oh God... oh God... oh God!" Krycek screamed as he felt her swallow repeatedly, running her tongue over the sensitive skin. With each swallow, she grasped and released his balls. He had never felt such an intense sensation in his life.

 

She could feel the skin of his scrotum tightening. Jess then released him, backing away slightly. She looked up to see him staring at her with open mouth and wide dilated eyes.

 

"Get... that... condom... on... me... *now*!" Krycek panted.

 

Jess trembled as she unrolled the condom onto him. She had never seen a man so desperate for release. <Good Lord, what have I done?> She watched him take a deep breath and... .

 

Krycek flung Jess backwards to land in the pillows with him on top of her. Both hands went to each side of her cheeks as he kissed her long and deep, smelling and tasting himself on her. Backing off so he could watch her face, he positioned herself to penetrate her. He smiled as he heard the quiet yip she gave as he brushed against her clit.

 

He repeated the movement. She yipped again and lifted her hips, her eyes shut tight. "Jess, look at me."

 

She opened her eyes to stare into his. Krycek slowly began to sink his cock into her wet tightness. Once he was fully buried in her, he let out a breathy moan of contentment.

 

Jess shivered and whimpered as he settled his weight onto her. She nipped at his earlobe as he nuzzled her shoulder. Tentatively, she moved her hips. Krycek took that as permission and slowly started to thrust.

 

"Harder, Alex, harder," Jess begged. Krycek obliged, pistioning himself in and out of her faster and faster. He could feel his tension rising. One hand moved down to where he was frantically pushing to lightly stroke her clit repeatedly.

 

Jess arched up beneath him, nails biting into his flesh as they stroked downward to his ass. She screamed his name as she came.

 

He pumped into her even faster, feeling her squeezing him. And suddenly found himself screaming her name as he surged into her.

 

He colapsed onto her, ehausted. One of her hands moved to cradle the back of his head. Krycek kisssed her ear. "Let me up for a moment." He withdrew to the bathroom to dispose of the condom.

 

Jess smiled and stretched. She scooted over to one side of the bed as Krycek returned and got in bed beside her. She pulled him to her with a sigh of contentment.

 

Krycek put his arms around her tightly. He nuzzled her hair, inhaling her scent deeply. Jess sighed again and nestled into his shoulder, still smiling. Her eyes slid shut.

 

Krycek felt her breathing become slower. He glanced down to find that she was asleep in his arms, as trusting as a little child. The smile still graced her lips. And suddenly he realized what a stupid move seeing her was. It would only be a matter of time before someone hunted him down, and would use Jess to get to him.

 

But for some reason, he really didn't care. Being with her was enough for the moment.

 

He leaned his cheek against her hair and shut his eyes. He was asleep before he knew it.

 

And the expected nightmares never visited them.

 

* * * * * * *

 

He sat in one of the seedier motel rooms in San Jose. He had gotten away from the jail without much trouble. It had been a little more problematic to trace the traitor's trail, but a little research as to where the bitch lived let him figure out where Krycek would appear.

 

<And when I get a hold of them,> Alpha Wolf grinned to himself. He would capture them. He would personally punish Krycek for escaping. He would claim the bitch as his mate. He would be back in good graces at the labs. In short, he would be the dominant male, the alpha wolf of the pack, again.

 

That was how he thought of himself, as Alpha Wolf. He never even thought of his human name anymore. Hell, he had forgotten his human name. The animal had eaten up any vestige of humanity he once had. He had always completed his assignments with the cool efficiency of the predator that his masters had prized. No female had denied him anything his bestial lust had desired, wanting to share his power. And no subordinate male had ever thumbed his nose at him like that. That was why his escape and her rejection drove him so.

 

Now it was a matter of time. Krycek was in San Jose, he could smell him and sense his mental signature. All he would have to do would be get a hold of the bitch, and Krycek would stick his neck in the noose willingly. All he had to do was watch and wait.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess and Krycek laid in bed together, asleep in each others arms. Swept away by their emotions, they had pleasured each other until they were both too exhausted to move.

 

Krycek woke up first. One eye slid open to take in the setting sun. Then the second one opened so he could focus on the beautiful woman in his arms. <As screwed up as my life is, how did I manage to end up with someone so wonderful?> He tenderly brushed her bangs back from her eyes.

 

Jess stirred lightly from his caress. Her eyes blinked open to see Krycek smiling at her. <He's here. He's *really* here.> She reached to stroke his cheek with the back of her fingers.

 

Neither of them wanted to break the spell they were under. Afraid to speak, Jess settled for actions to express herself. She pulled his head to hers and kissed him passionately.

 

Krycek sighed and rolled onto his back. He pulled her on top of him. Grinning, he grabbed a condom and raised his eyebrows.

 

Jess grinned and let her hands and lips start to roam. Krycek also explored her tenderly. Aside from the occasional gasp as an extremely sensitive spot was probed, the love they made was silent and tender, each trying to express their feelings through the physical act.

 

They collapsed back into the bed, sated for the moment. Jess felt content, secure in the knowledge of Krycek's love. But she still felt something needed to be explained. "Do you still want to know how it happened?"

 

Krycek nodded. He settled deeper into the pillows, keeping an arm around her shoulders.

 

Jess nestled down beside Krycek. She put her head onto his chest. She quietly began to speak.

 

"I'm still not quite sure why I went into that second hand shop... ."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully stepped into their basement office only to find Mulder fiddling with a VCR. "Don't tell me that you still feel the need to watch those videos of yours after last night."

 

"Not exactly. I found this tape on my desk this afternoon. And I think you'll find it interesting." Mulder hit the play button on the remote.

 

The screen flickered to life. Scully found herself looking at the outside of a ground floor apartment. A mongrel that mostly husky limped into the scene. It scratched at the door, whimpering. Jess opened the door, and let the thin animal inside.

 

"Looks like Jess took in a stray, Mulder."

 

"Yes, that's what it looks like. But look at what happens at a later point in the tape." He hit the fast forward button. After a few moments, Mulder let the VCR resume normal play.

 

The point of view shifted. Instead of the door to Jess's apartment, now they were looking at the window. After a few seconds, Jess was framed in the sill. She was obviously talking to someone. Then the person she was talking to stepped into view. A bare chested Krycek pulled her into a passionate embrace.

 

<Oh great!> Scully thought. She had been afraid of this. "Mulder, what do you want to do?"

 

"Do? I want to kill the bastard." His voice took on a grim tone. "He hurt you, he hurt me, and I'm not going to let him hurt Jess. She's suffered enough."

 

"Even if that means that you hurt Jess?" Scully could understand his need for vengeance. Hell, she had wanted to personally pull the trigger of the gun Mulder would place to his head. Then they had found the records in the drug company that gave detailed accounts of testing and experiments performed. After reading what they had done to Krycek, she felt that revenge should be tempered by mercy, or cruelty, depending on your point of view. <Mulder wants him to die. I want him to live and suffer.>

 

"I want to avoid it if at all possible." He put down the remote. "Let's go pay Jess a little visit."

 

* * * * * * *

 

"My God, Jess. You went through all that and managed to stay sane?" Krycek sounded in awe of her.

 

They had stayed in bed through the whole story. Krycek has listened silently, completely absorbed by her tale. Jess, still in his arms, had finished and was waiting for his response.

 

"Some people would say I wasn't sane to begin with."

 

"Jess, could you be serious for one moment?"

 

"Okay," Jess sounded apologetic. "Defense mechanism - whenever things hit a little too close to home, I wisecrack my way out of it."

 

"You don't have to do that with me." Krycek kissed her tenderly. "What I meant was that it didn't drive you crazy. Back at the labs, three out of four 'subjects' went insane within two months."

 

Jess sighed. "I've always been a survivor. Otherwise, I wouldn't have made it through my teen years."

 

"Well I don't think I could have handled it." His hand started to stroke her cheek. "I've had a rough time dealing with everything that I did, let alone what happened at the labs."

 

"Alex, what really happened between you and Mulder?" Jess lifted up and looked into his eyes. "I've heard Mulder's and Dana's side, but I want to hear yours."

 

Krycek leaned back further into the pillows with a sigh. "I want to, Jess. I've told you all I can." He told her what he remembered about what he had done to Mulder and what had been done to him since they were parted. It had felt good to finally confess to someone what he had done. Hearing her say "I forgive you" had started his wounded soul healing. "But there are blank spaces where I can't remember. I want to, but I just can't." The frustration was plain in his voice.

 

"It's okay," Jess soothed. "You can tell me when you remember. I'm not asking you to do it now."

 

"Good, because I have a hard time concentrating on more than one thing at a time." A hand stroked her bare back.

 

"So what are you concentrating on right now?" She lightly placed a hand on his thigh.

 

"How beautiful you are."

 

"I like that line of thought." Jess kissed him passionately. Her hand moved to a more private part of his body.

 

Krycek tried to respond in kind, but wasn't able to rise to the occasion. "Sorry," he mumbled.

 

"It's okay," Jess said. "We've gone for so long without sex, and then have it twice times in the last ten hours. It's no wonder you're not able to right now." She snuggled back down beside him.

 

Krycek idly stroked her. <Time to get back to reality.> "Jess, what are we going to do?"

 

"I don't know."

 

"Same here. All I know for sure is I can't lose you. Jess, will you marry me?" The words came tumbling out before he was fully aware of what he was saying.

 

Jess sat up, shock written all over her features. "Did you just ask me what I think you did?"

 

"Yeah," he said softly. <Hell, I've come this far, so why not take it all the way.> "I love you with all my being. I can't stand the thought of being separated from you. I can't offer much, but all that I am is yours."

 

Tears shown in Jess's eyes. "Why are you asking now? I do love you, but why this step this fast? Why not just live together for a while?"

 

Krycek sighed and closed his eyes. "I want to be tied to you as closely as possible. I came from a traditional family, Jess. I was taught that if you loved someone, you made a permanent commitment to her. And I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to ask again."

 

Jess bowed her head. <He's right. Carpe the diem, girl. It may never come again.> "Yes, Alex, I'll marry you. I love you with all my heart and soul... and body," she added mischievously. She leant down and kissed him.

 

He wrapped his arms tightly around her. "You've just made me the happiest I've ever been, Jess. But I would have stayed even if you had said 'not yet,' or even 'no.'"

 

Jess smiled tenderly. "I could never say no to you, Alex. Besides, in a way, we've already made that commitment."

 

"I'm not following," Krycek said.

 

There was a contentment in her voice that Krycek never heard before. "Alex, dearest, don't you know that wolves mate for life?"

 

* * * * * * *

 

Lindy stood outside the apartment door with Annie. She was nervous and a little scared. She clutched the cat carrier that Chloe was in.

 

Annie gave her hand a squeeze. "Things are going to be okay. If you want to come back with me, all you have to do is ask."

 

Lindy nodded. Annie knocked on the door.

 

Jess opened the door. "Come in," she said nervously. <Please don't let Lindy freak out. Please let them like each other.> "Annie, Lindy, this is Alex."

 

Lindy looked around the living room. Sitting in the corner chair was a man. Although she had glimpsed his face in Jess's memory, he wasn't what she expected. She knew he was a werewolf, so she expected him to look like the horrible fair haired being that created her. The fact that his hair as dark as Jess's immediately reassured her. She shyly smiled.

 

Krycek smiled back. <Don't scare her.> Jess had told him about what Lindy had been through. "I've heard a lot about you. I'm glad to meet you."

 

Lindy moved from Annie to stand beside Jess. She had opened the carrier and Chloe sauntered out. On seeing a stranger sitting in 'her' chair, Chloe went to the Krycek and proceeded to rub against him, marking him as part of her territory. Krycek reached down to scratch behind the cat's ears. Chloe's purrs filled the silence of the room. "What's your cats name?" he asked.

 

"Chloe," came Lindy's reply. As Krycek continued to scratch the feline, Lindy slowly moved towards her cat. She started stroking Chloe's back. "Do you have a cat?"

 

"No, but I did have a dog when I was younger."

 

Jess exhaled the breath she didn't know she had been holding. If Lindy felt comfortable enough to ask a question like that, things were off to a good start.

 

Annie grinned also. "Michael sent over some of his things until you can get your own, Alex. If you'll excuse me, I have to go see a patient. Everything okay?"

 

"Yeah," Lindy said.

 

"Okay, Lindy. Talk to you later, Jess. Nice to meet you, Alex." Annie left.

 

Jess turned to Lindy. "Why don't you go put up your stuff? Then we'll get something to eat."

 

"Pizza?" Lindy looked up eagerly.

 

"Sure, why not." Jess watched Lindy hesitantly pick up Chloe, and scamper off to the safety of her room. A small smile played at the corners of her mouth. "That went well. I'm surprised she went near you."

 

"Am I that scary?" Krycek got up and crossed the room. "Am I that horrible a monster?" He wrapped his arms around her from behind and kissed her neck.

 

"No, but she didn't take to Michael that fast." She reached behind his head to entangle her fingers in his hair. She swayed back and forth. "Do you really think we can pull this off?"

 

He swayed with her, matching her rhythm. "You said Lindy..."

 

"No, I'm talking about us staying together. Are we going to be able to pull off the All-American couple trying to raise their child? I mean look at us, three werewolves, you running from God-only-knows-who, a little girl who's terrified of strange men, and me trying to keep Mulder from finding out about us? One tiny slip up, and it could end in disaster."

 

A chill passed over his heart. "Are you saying that you've changed your mind about trying?"

 

She turned in his arms. "No. I'm just terrified. I know things can't last as they are." She bowed her head against his chest.

 

He leant his head against hers. "I know, and I'm scared too. If anything happened to you or Lindy because of me, I don't think I could live with myself. I'm not sure I can live like this."

 

"Live how? With me and Lindy?"

 

"No, as a werewolf." He smiled and chuckled a little. "Funny. I had to lose my humanity to find it."

 

"Alex, I've lived like this for over ten years. And I miss being human. It's stressful to have to plan your life around the cycle of the moon. It's hard, but doable."

 

"Jess, if you had a choice, would you become human again?"

 

She sighed. "Don't know, Alex. I just don't know."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully woke up in the hotel room alone. <Damn! He ditched me again.>

 

They had arrived in San Jose late the night before. Mulder had wanted to go find Krycek and Jess that night. Scully had convinced him, she thought, to wait until morning.

 

She got up and dressed. Then she searched the room for any clue as to where Mulder went.

 

There. Beside the phone was a note pad, top page half missing. With a few strokes of a finely sharpened pencil, she was able to see the imprint of what had been scribbled. It was an address in Los Gatos, an affluent suburb. And next to it was a name, Michael Leahs.

 

* * * * * * *

 

The door opened to the one story house, and Jess stepped out. Looking back, she waved goodbye to Michael. She turned and started to walk to her Jeep, parked around the corner. Then she saw the man standing beside it.

 

She closed her eyes and sighed. <It was only a matter of time. I had hoped for longer. Maybe I can bluff my way through it.> She walked up to the man. "Hello, Mulder. What are you doing here? Where's Dana?"

 

"Jess." His voice was cold and distant. "I wanted to talk to you alone first. I know Krycek's with you."

 

Jess swallowed. "How?"

 

"Someone sent me a tape of the two of you. Jess, how could you?" He allowed some pain to seep into his tone. "I can understand before, when you didn't know who he was. But now you're protecting him. Do you have any idea how much that hurts?"

 

"Yes I do. It's the same hell I've been putting myself through trying to decide what to do. But it was my choice."

 

"Jess, why? I thought our friendship meant something to you."

 

"Mulder, it does. But look at it from my point of view. In the last twelve years, he's the only other man I've been interested in. You've been able to move on and find someone else. I didn't have that luxury of being able to find someone to lean on."

 

Mulder, angry at her defense, asked the question that he always wondered about. "If you were so lonely, why didn't you find me, or find someone else, and make them like you?"

 

Jess put her head in her hands. "I thought about it, Mulder. Once I almost sought you out." Her temper and control had finally broken. Her voice took on a low growl. "But would you have forgiven me if I did? Do you really think I could do *this* to someone else?"

 

Her paws/hands shot out to grab his collar. Mulder found himself staring eye to eye with not Jess, but a snarling jet black werewolf. Instincts took over. Mulder slammed a fist into the vulnerable underside of her jaw. Losing her grip, Jess reeled back a few steps. She dropped into a crouch, growling, preparing to spring. Mulder reflexively drew his gun and aimed between her eyes.

 

"Mulder!" Scully shouted. She had finally found him. From her angle, she could see the back of Mulder, but not Jess. "What are you doing?" She ran up to him.

 

"My God, Mulder!" came a voice. "What are we doing?" Jess straightened back up, human. She stood there gasping for breath, trembling and crying. Jess edged around him in a wide circle to get into the Jeep.

 

Mulder lowered the gun, but didn't reholster it. "Run away. That's what you're good at."

 

The wounded look never left her eyes. "I'm sorry, Mulder. But I've made my choice. I *gotta* follow it through." Her car pulled away with a roar.

 

"Dammit, Scully! Why did I just do that?" Mulder sounded angry with himself, not to mention disgusted with Jess. "Now she's going to run to *him.*"

 

The last piece of the puzzle clicked into place. "Mulder, you still have feelings for her. You're jealous of the fact that Krycek now is dearer to her than you."

 

"Now is not the time to talk about this!. We're here to find Krycek!" Mulder stared at her. From the angry look on his face, Scully knew she had hit close to home. His voice softened. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to take it out on you." He looked down. "Jess came here to see her brother. Let's get directions from him to her place."

 

"Okay," Scully said quietly. <He's torn about this. He wants to hurt Krycek, but not Jess. I don't think one can be done without the other happening.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

Two miles away, Jess pulled over to the side of the road. She was just outside the park where she and Lindy often went to play.

 

Sobbing, she lowered her head against the steering wheel. <God! What did I almost do?> She had never lost control of the Change and her temper like that before, even when she was unaware of her abilities. <I almost killed my friend. But I can't let him hurt Alex.>

 

She was so absorbed in her thoughts, she hadn't paid any attention to the car that had pulled over behind hers. Someone had gotten out and tapped on her window.

 

Jess didn't look up. She just assumed a police officer was checking on why she was on the side of the road, crying her eyes out. She lowered the window. "Yes?"

 

A hand with a vile smelling cloth shot over her nose and mouth. Jess shrieked, trying to turn her head away. A second hand clamped on her skull, holding her in place. "Not so fast, bitch. You're gonna spend some time with me," a familiar and hated voice said.

 

Jess, dizzy from the fumes, jerked hard and bit down on a finger. "Ouch! How dare you!" The hand on her skull slammed her forward into the steering wheel. The cloth once again covered her face. Jess, struggling weakly, faded into unconsciousness.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek sat in Jess's apartment, waiting for her to return. <She's been gone longer than she said she would be.> He was getting worried although Jess had reassured him in no uncertain terms that she could easily defend herself. "I've fought seven foot humans twice my weight and won without a scratch. I could take you down in an eye blink," she had said.

 

Something in her tone of voice had made Krycek incredibly aroused. Maybe it was the soft growl that underlied the words. He eyed her five foot four inch frame appreciatively. "Prove it," he said, stepping closer.

 

Jess's response was to merely grin and step forward. She kissed him lightly and then quickly turned and pulled his arm over her shoulder. She flipped him over her back and onto the couch easily. Stifling a giggle, she walked to the door, letting her fingers trail over his torso as she passed.

 

Krycek shot up from where he sprawled on the couch. "You didn't follow through. You should have pinned me when you had the chance." He grabbed her in front of the open door and kissed her passionately.

 

"Tonight," was Jess's whispered answer. "But right now, I've got to see my brother. Be back in three hours."

 

That had been five hours ago. And he hadn't heard from her since. Lindy was in her room, watching TV. She didn't want to be in the same room with him without Jess present. While the little girl was skittery around him, she seemed to accept the him only because of how he felt about Jess. <Poor kid,> he mused. He thought about the story Jess had told him about a young girl who had been sexually abused by an 'uncle' and then sold to a pedophile, who also was a werewolf. The little girl had been Changed to make her fit *his* fetish even more. <I'd probably be terrified of me too with everything she's been through.>

 

The phone rang. Krycek listened absently as the answering machine picked up. "Jess, if you're there pick up. Alex if you're there, it's Michael. I need to talk to you or Jess. Jess said to tell you the first movie the two of you saw was 'Attack of the *the* Eye Creatures.'"

 

Michael wasn't stuttering. That was how the title had appeared on the movie. That was the pass word they had agreed on. <I hope her phone isn't bugged.> He picked up the receiver. "This is Alex."

 

"Can I talk to Jess?"

 

"What do you mean? She's not here." Alarm bells began to ring in Krycek's mind.

 

"She left here about two and a half hours ago. Said she was going straight home. She should be there by now." Michael also sounded worried. "But the reason I called is I've just been contacted by two FBI agents."

 

<Damn!> Krycek swallowed. "Let me guess. Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully."

 

"Yes. I was calling to warn you and her." Michael's voice grew soft. "Listen, she told me about what you did, but it's not my place to judge. All I know is when you two were apart, she was the miserablest I've seen her in a long time. Her attitude did a complete one eighty when you showed up. That's reason enough for me to be your friend. I figure you've got a half hour head start before they get there."

 

"Thanks." Krycek hung up the phone. No sooner had he put the receiver down than it rang again.

 

The machine picked up. An all too familiar voice started to speak. "Traitor. I have her. If you want to see your little bitch alive again, meet me at the Vasona Park boat house in half an hour." The line disconnected.

 

<Shit!> Krycek thought. <That was the Alpha Wolf's voice. Mulder didn't kill him after all.> He shivered when he remembered how Alpha had nearly killed him and tried to rape Jess. <Hang on, Jessica> he prayed. <I'm on my way.> "Lindy, I have to go out. Stay here. Open the door only to me, Jess, Michael, or Annie."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully knocked on the door to Jess's apartment. Mulder stood to one side, gun drawn, ready for trouble. "Jess, open up."

 

"She's not here. Neither is Alex." Lindy opened the door. Alex hadn't said that she could to Miss Scully, but Jess had earlier told her that she could always trust her and her partner Mr. Mulder. And Jess, as far as Lindy was concerned, outranked him.

 

Mulder holstered the gun. Jess had found Lindy once by "mind scanning" for her. Maybe it could work both ways. "Lindy, do you think you could find Jess, like that one time she found you in D.C.?"

 

"Yeah," Lindy said. "I know where she and Alex are. I can take you there." The little girl shivered. "She's in danger and scared."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess when she came to, she was lying face down on a wooden floor. Her head throbbed with each heartbeat and her throat felt like it was on fire. She gingerly moved a hand to touch her face. <One split lip, one gashed forhead, and one hell of a black eye,> she winced, gently probing the wounds. She tried to lift her head, but the room spun dizzily. She let out a low moan.

 

"Ah, good. You're awake," Alpha said. She heard footsteps echo towards her. A hand clamped down on her wrist. She was jerked to her feet.

 

Jess stood there swaying. "Here." Alpha lifted a sports bottle to her lips. "The stuff I drugged you with makes you awfully thirsty. Drink. It'll help."

 

Jess turned her face away. Alpha looked amused. "Smart bitch." He took a long sip and swallowed. He held the bottle back to her.

 

She grabbed the bottle and gulped the water down. Alpha reached to steady her shaky hand. "I'm not such a bad guy," he purred, stroking her fingers.

 

Jess shivered under his touch. "What do you want?" she croaked, dropping the bottle.

 

"What I want is you beside me. You're almost every bit alpha wolf that I am. A worthy underling, beta to none but me, the alpha female of the pack. I can't understand what you see in that traitor Krycek."

 

The water did help clear her system. "What are you going to do to me?" she said, staring malignantly into his eyes. Her fist and jaw clenched.

 

Alpha chuckled. "Still a little spitfire, eh, bitch?" He leaned in close, staring her down. "I'm not going to hurt you. You and your boyfriend are my ticket back to the labs." His breath caressed her ear. "You'll find life there isn't so bad, especially as my mate."

 

Jess's eyes narrowed in response. "Trying to protect yourself from me?" he asked, touching the silver cross she wore. His finger's brushed against her breasts. Jess hissed like a wet cat and took an involuntary step backwards. Alpha's grip on her wrist grew tighter, almost snapping it. He jerked her body against his. Jess trembled and slumped in defeat. "I knew you'd see reason eventually. And speaking of the traitor he should be showing up to 'rescue' you soon." His other arm snaked around her waist, tugging her shirt out of her jeans. He bit at her neck, drawing blood. "But until he does, why don't we get to know each other a little bett... aaauuugh!"

 

Jess had kneed him with all the accuracy and force of a striking cobra. As Alpha dropped her wrist to cradle his injured member, she backhanded him with her free hand. She pivoted, praying she could gain the door before Alpha recovered. Jess knew that she couldn't beat Alpha Wolf in a fight in an enclosed space. If she got outside, her speed and agility would more than even the odds of her winning.

 

"Oh no you don't, you little slut!" Alpha tackled her from behind. As she collapsed with Alpha cursing above her, pressing his body into hers, she struck her head against the doorjamb. Jess, trying to keep from blacking out, heard the glass shattering. <I hit a door, not a window.> She managed to turn her head in the direction of the sound.

 

Krycek stood there among the shards. "Get the hell away from her!" Alpha stood up and stalked forward. Krycek and Alpha circled each other warily. Krycek had fought him before and wasn't looking forward to facing off with him again. <But there is no way in hell I'm going to let him hurt her.>

 

"So you really think you can take me on," Alpha snarled. "Your girlfriend thought that also. Just before I brought her to her knees."

 

"Liar!" Krycek shouted. "If you've laid a finger on Jess..."

 

"Don't worry, after she went down on me, I returned the favor."

 

Krycek roared incoherently and charged. In his anger, he forgot his FBI self-defense training and the fighting techniques they tried to indoctrinate him with at the lab. He just lashed out with the animal fury he was feeling.

 

Alpha sidestepped him neatly. He kicked Krycek in the gut as he passed by. Krycek went down to his knees, clutching his abdomen. Alpha lifted him up by the throat. "So much for the great warrior, defending his lady's honor," he sneered. "Our mutual boss has told me your worthless life is to be spared. You're to be brought back for more testing. So...," The hand holding Krycek started to contract.

 

Krycek choked and clawed vainly at his neck, trying to draw breath. Just before he passed out, the hand loosened. "The only thing that would make this better was if the bitch were awake. But don't worry, we'll both be there to watch when they start the experiment again, a dissection perhaps." The hand tightened.

 

Krycek was again on the verge of blacking out. Suddenly the pressure released. He dropped forward, supporting his weight with his arms. After taking several deep breaths, he became aware of Alpha screaming.

 

Alpha was turning his back on him. That's when Krycek saw the silver cross, buried to the hilt, sticking out of the base of his skull. Alpha was trying to reach around and rip it from his head. He managed to tear it out by the chain and dropped it like it burned him.

 

But it was too little too late. Alpha staggered, only to fall forward, convulsing. The blood was streaming from the deep gash that had been enlarged in Alpha's struggles. He looked at Krycek. The loathing in his voice scathed Krycek's ears. "Damn you and her to hell!" Then his body sagged and his breath rattled in his throat.

 

Krycek crawled towards the body. There was no pulse. It was over.

 

He looked at the cross that had caused Alpha's downfall. It was the same one Jess had worn.

 

He looked up. There she stood, swaying in the effort to keep upright. Her face and body were bruised and lacerated. There was a haunted look in her eyes.

 

Krycek stood and Jess staggered to him. Not saying a word, she threw her arms around him. He gently touched her blood oozing from her throat, tears welling up in his eyes. Both too weak to support their combined weight, they fell to their knees crying.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Lindy guided Mulder and Scully deftly through the park. She quickly grew impatient every time Mulder and Scully insisted on checking for hidden people when they entered a new area.

 

"There's no one in here," Mulder said.

 

"I coulda told you that," Lindy snorted. Her werewolf senses had told her that there was no one in the last five buildings they had gone through. "Wait." Lindy held up a hand. She stretched up on her toes, head tilted to one side. ~Jess?~

 

A male scream rang through the air. Lindy was off like a shot, running towards the sound.

 

"Lindy! Get back here!" Scully started running after her. <Is it my imagination or is her hair growing longer?> she thought distractedly. The rubber band holding her ponytail had broken, her long blond hair flowing behind her like a lion's mane.

 

Mulder caught up and passed Scully. Lindy had just turned the corner, shooting out of sight. They stopped short and drew their guns. The soft sound of sobbing could be clearly heard. Guns raised, Mulder and Scully turned the corner.

 

Scully slowly lowered her gun as she took in the scene. Lindy was clutching at Jess, who in turn was holding and being held by Krycek. Alpha's corpse lay nearby. Both Jess and Krycek were bloodied and bruised.

 

Lindy put her arms around Jess. She pushed her way between Jess and Krycek, wanting to feel sheltered. <Alex hasn't tried to hurt me. He's not bad like *he* was. So why in Mr. Mulder pointing his gun at him?>

 

Krycek looked up to see Mulder still holding the gun on him. <This is it.> He dropped a soft kiss on Jess's head which was cradled below Alpha's marks on his throat. "Take care of Jess for me, Lindy," he whispered, his voice hoarse from the throttling. "And always remember that I love you, Jess." He then looked at the far wall, giving Mulder a clean shot through his skull. <I'm sure this time he's using silver bullets.>

 

Jess could feel Lindy trying to get as close to her as she could. She heard the whispered words. She opened one teary eye to see Mulder aiming at Krycek. <No, Mulder please, no.> She closed that eye, resigned to the fact that her love was about to die at the hands of her friend. "Goodbye, dearest," she whispered. Her arm tightened around his body.

 

Scully could not allow it to end like this. <He hasn't done enough penance. He hasn't suffered enough. He never will. And Jess will hate Mulder for the rest of her life. She may even come after him.> "Mulder, don't!"

 

"Scully, he killed my father. He helped kill your sister." Mulder ground out through clenched teeth. "He was involved in your abduction. He's tried repeatedly to kill me. Give me one good reason I should let the son of a bitch live."

 

"You just named our best reasons," Scully countered. "I want him dead as badly as you. But he has information and answers that we need. And what better way to shut down the X-Files than have the lead investigator charged with murder, no matter how well Krycek deserves it? Are you going to throw that all away for vengeance?" Scully shook her head. "And what about Jess? If you kill him, you may earn her hatred."

 

"She wouldn't do that." Mulder pulled back the hammer on the gun. "Jess, Lindy, move out of the way."

 

"If someone killed you, *I* would hate them eternally. And think about how miserable you were when I was missing. Are you willing to consign Jess to that for the rest of her life?" She put a hand on his arm. "You let him walk away once. This time, choose to walk away yourself."

 

Mulder's aim shifted slightly as he turned to look at Scully. "What he did is unforgivable. He must be punished."

 

"Don't you think I am?" Krycek's voice rasped. "You seem think that I'm a monster without a conscience. I'm not. I'm living with the guilt. Every day I face the man in the mirror and think about what I've done. I didn't enjoy deceiving you, Mulder. I was told that you were misguided, that I was helping you by not telling you Who I worked for. I didn't know what They were going to do to Scully, just was told to keep you distracted. And I didn't want to kill your father, but I was being watched. And I was too much of a coward to disobey orders and be killed myself." His voice gave out.

 

"And think, Mulder." Jess picked up where Krycek left off. "He was experimented on. He has been altered into something beyond human, forced to give up family and friends for fear of harming or causing someone to harm them to get at him. Has to live with the constant fear that They will swoop down and start Their experiments again. It's a living hell." She looked directly into his eyes. "You wouldn't be punishing him, Mulder. You would be putting him out of his misery."

 

Mulder frowned at Jess, but lowered the gun. "What are you suggesting? That I walk away and forget that he's with you?"

 

"Yes! That's exactly what I'm saying!" Jess had one last card to play. "One of Them obviously wants Krycek outside for now. There has been too many times when he could have been killed out of hand. Why? Because he's an embarrassment to Someone. Why an embarrassment? Because he knows too much."

 

"She is right, Agent Mulder." Cancerman, flanked by four soldiers, stepped through the door. Krycek made a low moan of despair. "Mr. Krycek, I'm disappointed. You really didn't think we wouldn't find you?"

 

The two of the guards aimed at Mulder and Scully. They slowly lowered their weapons. Another moved to Alpha Wolf's body, reaching for a pulse. He shook his head no.

 

"Very impressive, Miss Leahs." He lit a cigarette. "The government thanks you for your aid in capturing two dangerous fugitives."

 

"What are you going to do with us?" Jess's voice was without inflection, as if she really didn't care any longer. <No matter what happens, I'm going to lose Alex. One way or another.>

 

"With you and your ward, nothing."

 

Jess and Krycek bowed their heads. They knew what would happen next.

 

Mulder and Scully had a good idea too. "And what about Krycek?" Scully asked.

 

The soldiers moved forward. "He will be taken into custody."

 

Krycek disentangled himself from Jess and Lindy. "But you have to catch me first!" He bolted towards the back of the boathouse and leapt through the broken window.

 

Two soldiers followed outside. One raised the rifle and fired at the fleeing figure. Jess's scream echoed the Cigarette Smoking Man's command. "Do not shoot! He is to be taken alive!"

 

Jess and Lindy ran to the window. She saw Krycek running to the end of the adjoining pier, clutching at his shoulder, blood seeping from a gunshot wound. "No," she whispered.

 

Krycek half turned and made eye contact with her for one fleeting second that stretched for an eternity. After a momentary hesitation, he dove into the lake.

 

He never surfaced.

 

Jess bowed her head against the window sill, not caring about the shattered glass that scratched her forehead. She listened to the quiet footsteps leaving the building and coming towards her.

 

She felt Lindy's arms around her neck. She also felt a hand drop to her shoulder.

 

"Come on, let's get you outside where I can check you out." Scully helped Jess and Lindy to their feet. With Jess leaning heavily on her shoulder, she led them out. Mulder followed.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder watched the dragging the lake. So far, the dive team hadn't found Krycek's body. The sun was setting, and there was little chance that a corpse would turn up in the next few minutes.

 

<It would be best if they did find something, anything to end the uncertainty.> He looked at Jess, sitting on a bench with Lindy in her lap near the edge of the lake. Her arms were wrapped possessively around the little girl. Her dark hair brushed against Lindy's golden locks. She stared at the lake, watching, but not seeing.

 

<She has that look in her eyes,> Mulder thought. <The same look she had when she found out that Robert, Michelle, and Mystery were dead.> Jess had been deeply devastated by the loss of her childhood friends and her cat at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.

 

Scully stepped up beside him quietly. "They are about to call off the search for today."

 

Mulder nodded. "He really did love her. Almost makes me wish I could be able to forgive the bastard, if only for her sake." He paused and turned to Scully. "I think we should get Jess back to her place. She's gone through a lot today."

 

Scully sighed and closed her eyes. "We all have, Mulder."

 

"Scully, I'm not saying that all this was easy on you. I know it was hell. But we have each other. She has no one."

 

"Be honest, Mulder. What I said earlier is true. You still love her." There was no jealousy in Scully's voice. It was merely an observation. "That's why you couldn't shoot Krycek."

 

"Yes, I do love her. But as a friend and because of what we once shared. But will we ever be lovers again? No." He took her hand in his. "Someone else more important to me has already taken that place in my heart." He squeezed her hand tightly.

 

Scully returned the squeeze. Hand in hand, they walked to the bench where Jess sat. Lindy had fallen asleep, resting her head against Jess's chest. Mulder put a hand on her shoulder. She pushed it off. Scully placed her free hand on Jess's shoulder. This time she didn't protest.

 

Jess blinked and turned to face them. She had cleaned the blood off her face and neck, but the scratches and bruises were even more pronounced against her pale skin.

 

<That lost look on her face is enough to break even Cancerman's heart,> Scully thought. "They're ending the search for tonight." She spoke to Jess as if she were a young child. "It's time to get you home."

 

Jess nodded and tried to shift Lindy without waking her. Dropping Scully's hand, Mulder stepped forward without a word and scooped Lindy out of her lap. Lindy stirred a little, but didn't wake up. Jess then stood silently and followed Mulder and Scully.

 

She paused once, looking back to the lake. A tear rolled down her cheek. She then turned and continued back to the car.

 

* * * * * * *

 

The Cigarette Smoking Man watched events unfold from a discrete distance. He was only marginally involved in this part of the Project. His involvement was due to his former underling. Once he had left Krycek to die. Now, because of the DNA he carried, Krycek was too valuable to kill out of hand. He could be useful in the future.

 

He lit the Morley and inhaled. His eyes were fixed on the bench where Mulder's former lover and her little girl sat. She had sat there almost unmoving for the last two hours. The only time she had shifted was when she looked away from the lake for a few moments. She had stared in his direction, although it would be impossible for her to see him.

 

Her expression reminded him of another time he had seen the same quiet desperation. He had been younger then. He hadn't meant any harm. He hadn't meant for it to happen. It just did. And he was still dealing with the consequences to this day. Perhaps that was why he felt the urge to watch over her.

 

He watched as the two lovers/partners walk to the bench. They would see that she was taken care of. And so would he, discreetly, of course. She was valuable as an experimental subject to see if her kind could function in a human world.

 

A thought crossed his mind. <It would add an interesting twist to the experiment.> His associates would find it amusing at the least, and informative at the most. The hard part would be keeping Mulder or Scully from killing Krycek outright. <But given a suitable carrot, the man will walk off a cliff without hesitation. And she won't, she wants him to suffer.>

 

Now he had just to wait. He wouldn't waste resources looking for Krycek. A werewolf wouldn't be killed by a shoulder wound from a regular bullet, which he made sure his men were armed with. It would be a matter of time before Krycek sought him out because of desperation, needing protection.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess laid curled on her side on her bed, silently weeping. After Mulder and Scully brought Lindy and her home, she had went to her room. She had thrown herself on her bed, trying to process all that had happened without feeling. It wasn't working.

 

The door opened. "Jess?"

 

She didn't look at Mulder. "Just say what you have to say and then leave." She still spoke in the toneless voice she had used earlier.

 

"I just want to say that I'm sorry about everything."

 

"Everything?" Jess rolled over and lifted her head to stare at him, eyes puffy from crying.

 

"Everything." Mulder sighed. "Listen, you love him. He loves you. I know he could have used you and Lindy as a 'human'" Jess snorted at the word, "shield, but he didn't. He could have taken advantage of the situation. He didn't. And I know how hard a love like that is hard to find."

 

She sat up. "Apology accepted. But what do I do now if... ."

 

"Whatever you want to, Jess." Mulder sounded resigned. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. It's your choice. Scully and I have discussed this. As long as he keeps his nose clean and cooperates with us, it's none of my business who you're sleeping with."

 

Jess got up and hugged Mulder tightly. "Thank you," she whispered.

 

A quiet 'ahem' made them split apart. Scully stood in the door. "Your brother's here. He wants to see you."

 

Jess nodded and walked to the door. She stopped only to hug Scully and also whisper "thanks" to her.

 

Scully crossed over to Mulder. She wrapped her arms around him. "That was generous of you, Mulder."

 

"I don't have to like it," he replied. "But we need him alive for now. I just wonder if he made it to safety."

 

She shrugged her shoulders. "C'mon." Scully led him out by the hand.

 

Michael and Annie were in the living room. He saw Jess's brother holding an empty leash. Jess and Lindy were on their knees, cooing and crying over a black and white male husky. The dog whimpered and cowered back slightly at the sight of the FBI agents.

 

"Jess, we've got to go back to D.C.," Mulder said. He shot a sharp look at her. "Remember what I said about him behaving."

 

Jess grinned up at him. "I know, no bad dogs." She stood up. "Thanks for everything, both of you."

 

"Just be careful. All of you," Scully said. As they walked out the door, she took one last look back. Jess was standing now, one hand resting on the dog's head. Lindy was also standing, her hand over Jess's. They both stood silently by the dog as Mulder and Scully left.

 

* * * * * * *

 

When Krycek woke up, he had a hard time remembering exactly where he was. He was laying in a twin bed, covered in an juvenile print quilt. Across from him was a desk with an older TV perched on it's top. A few posters of kittens and puppies graced the walls, along with the plush animals on the bookcase next to the closet. <Girl's room, obviously.>

 

He rolled onto his belly and pushed up to look at the clock on the bookshelf/headboard. And his eyes rested on the radio alarm before shifting to the picture of an average height brunette hugging a seven year old blonde beside it.

 

And everything that happened yesterday came flooding back. Alpha

Wolf kidnapping Jess. The fight to the death between the two of them. Mulder and Scully finding and almost killing him again. The Cigarette Smoking Man forcing him to dive into Vasona Lake in order to escape.

 

After that things became more blurred. He could vaguely remember swimming to the far shore of the lake and somehow managing to summon enough concentration to self-heal and Change for the first time without the influence of the moon. And somehow, relying on the instructions Jess had given and the map of the area he memorized, he had managed to find Jess's brother's house and be recognized. Michael had brought him to Jess's right away, while still in wolf form.

 

He rolled out of the bed, uncertain why he was in Lindy's room and not Jess's, where she had put him the last time he showed up unexpectedly. <This doesn't look good.> A faded pair of men's jeans were sitting on the chair beside the door. And on top of those jeans were a set of red silk boxers.

 

<Talk about sending mixed messages,> he mused. He pulled the clothing on. The jeans, being Michael's, were a little loose on him, but a belt fixed that problem.

 

He left Lindy's room to cross over to Jess's. Her door was closed.

 

Krycek knocked on the door. "Jess?"

 

"Come in," came the quiet reply.

 

Krycek stepped through the door. He looked around her bedroom. Jess was sitting on the bed, back to him. "Where's Lindy?"

 

"She went with Annie and Michael for the weekend. Her choice."

 

Krycek took a deep breath. "So we're alone."

 

"Yeah," Jess looked down at her hands folded in her lap. "Alex, why didn't you come back sooner before? You came back right away this time."

 

"I couldn't. It would have been too dangerous." Krycek sat down on the bed beside her.

 

Jess edged away from him. "Yeah, right." There was a tremor in her voice.

 

"Jess," he said softly. He put his hands on her shoulders. "You don't think that I don't love you, that I'm using you. Do you?"

 

Despite herself, Jess leant away from him slightly. "I searched for you for so long. I kept defending you to Mulder, Scully, and myself. But as more time passed, it got harder to do." She looked at Krycek. "I didn't know what to believe."

 

"Oh God, Jess. I had no idea I hurt you so badly." Pulling her against him, Krycek leaned his forehead against hers. "I stayed away because I knew I was being followed. Hell, I probably still am. But I couldn't stay away any longer. Please, forgive me, I beg you." A tear slid down his cheek.

 

Jess wiped it away tenderly. "I didn't know what to believe about you staying away. Mulder insisted that it was because you were involved with the man he calls Cancerman. I wasn't so sure. But I *never* believed you stopped loving me, or stopped loving you." She pressed her lips to his. She wrapped her arms around him.

 

Krycek whimpered as he returned the kiss. It started gently, but quickly became more passionate. Jess went down backwards, laying on the bed and pulling Krycek with her. Her hands started exploring his back.

 

Krycek took her heads in his hands. His tongue probed even more deeply into her mouth. One hand slid from where it was stroking her cheek to cup her breast. "I want you so badly," he whispered.

 

Since her mouth was otherwise engaged nibbling his ear, Jess mindspoke without thinking. ~I want you too, Alex.~

 

Krycek jumped back at the unexpected connection. "Jeez, Jess, that scared me." He looked at her curiously. "You can do that too?"

 

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean scare you," Jess apologized. ~What do you mean 'too'?~

 

<I hope I can still do this.> He took a deep breath. ~I can mindspeak, also. Not many of us at the labs could.~ He switched to talking. "I'm not quite as good at it."

 

"Alex, that's wonderful." Jess sounded excited. "I found out by accident that Lindy and I could communicate psychicly." Her head tilted to one side. ~What else can you do?~

 

"I can read minds a bit, and also send images." He decided to demonstrate by showing her an image he had thought of often - the two of them spending their first night together.

 

"You would choose an X rated image," Jess purred. She replied in kind.

 

Krycek gasped. She had chosen one of her fantasies, him naked, her kneeling in front of him, pleasuring him in ways he had dreamed about those nights away from her. He pressed himself harder against her body. "Jessica," he whispered throatily. He kissed her frantically, aching to make love to her.

 

Jess smiled at the reaction he had to her. And she was going through the same thing. Her body was responding to his caresses, throbbing with the need to be taken. ~Do you want to make that fantasy a reality?~

 

He moved one of her hands to the hardness between his legs. ~Do you have to ask?~

 

* * * * * * *

 

<It's funny,> Scully mused to herself. She closed her eyes and sighed. <I thought that when I came face to face with Krycek, I would have no mercy. But when I saw how pitiful he was... .> She shook her head. She was a long way from forgiving Krycek for what he had done, but she did feel the stirrings of a little pity for what was done to him. <And after all that Jess has been through, she deserves a shot at happiness.>

 

<I wonder if Mulder will see it that way.> She opened her eyes to glance at Mulder. He was sitting beside her, head tilted forward, eyes closed. <Krycek did kill his father. And letting the past go isn't one of Mulder's talents. Otherwise, he wouldn't be searching for Samantha so hard.> Mulder may have said he wouldn't harm Krycek for Jess's sake, but he wouldn't easily forgive.

 

Or forget.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek and Jess lay in a tangled heap of sheets, their bodies still entwined. He was tenderly kissing her neck. <That smile on her face when she came has made all my suffering worthwhile.>

 

A ghost of that smile still played on her lips. "It's funny, Alex. Just when you think it can't get any better... ." She delicately left the thought unfinished.

 

He laid his head on her chest, listening to the steady thump of her heartbeat. ~I know what you mean, beloved.~

 

"'Beloved?' I don't think I like the sound of that," Jess murmured. "Sounds like something you put in an obituary." She exhaled in pure contentment. "So you still gonna marry me?"

 

"After the last half hour, do you think there's any question?" A teasing tone crept into his voice. "Do you think it might be a problem that our relationship is based on sex?"

 

Jess arched an eyebrow. "That's a *problem?* God! I wish all our problems were that simple."

 

Krycek chuckled. "True." He stretched against her. "We do have a problem though." ~Mulder and Scully.~

 

<Can't keep reality from intruding, can we?> Jess thought. "So what do we do?"

 

"Not what, when. Let them know I'm here. And pray that they can find some touch of pity for me."

 

"Alex, we don't have to..."

 

Krycek laid a finger on her lips. ~We tried to keep it secret, and you almost got killed. Maybe things will be different if we lay all our cards on the table.~

 

Jess sighed. "So how do we do this?"

 

"I think I have an idea."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder stepped into his apartment since the first time he had been in San Jose. Surprisingly, there was a message on his answering machine. He didn't often get calls when his friends knew he was out of town investigating a case. He punched the 'play messages' button.

 

"Hey, Mulder. I wanted you to know that I found that thing I've been looking for, just after you left. And I ran into a mutual friend, and I plan to be staying in touch with him. Oh, and Lindy says 'hi'. Give me a call when you can. See ya around."

 

<Okay, Jess. I get the message,> he thought. <And Krycek can be a valuable source of information, once he begins remembering. I'll tell Scully, and leave it at that. For now.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess lay in the bedroom of the apartment, trying to get to sleep. <Tonight is a nightmare night.> She knew it. How she knew it, she wasn't sure, but she *knew* it.

 

And it had been a while since she had this vibe. <And Lindy's been doing so well,> she thought. Lindy had adjusted surprisingly well to Krycek's presence in Jess's life. She had made major steps towards conquering her fear. But when she did spook, Jess had to do her utmost to calm her back down.

 

She rolled over to watch Krycek as he slept. He was curled beside her, his left arm curled under his body protectively. Jess noticed that he always did seem to favor that arm, although he was right handed like her. <Hell, I would too.>

 

<Hard to believe that it's only been a month,> she thought with a smile. She sighed as she though about how fast her life had changed.

<Maybe thinking about everything has got me edgy. Some hot chocolate ought to settle me.> She slid out of bed, trying not to disturb Krycek. She padded out of the bedroom and across the living area to the kitchenette, weaving to avoid furniture. An adult and a child fit into the space easily. But two adults, a child and a cat was pushing it. <It's high time to get out of this cramped apartment.> She started the water boiling.

 

Just after she added the powder to her cup, she heard movement behind her. ~Whatcha doing?~ Lindy mindspoke.

 

~Girl, what are you doing out of bed?~ Jess turned around. ~It's after midnight.~

 

~Heard you moving around. And you always told me to check out strange things.~

 

~Okay. As long as you're up, sit down and have some chocolate too.~

 

"Okay." She sat down. ~Why isn't Alex with us?~

 

~He's asleep. Didn't want to disturb him or you.~ Jess looked the little girl in the eye. ~How are you doing? Any nightmares? Scary feelings?~

 

~Nope.~ Lindy blew into the mug. ~He hasn't tried anything. Always been nice. Why should I be scared?~ She started to drink her chocolate.

 

~Good. I've just been unsettled tonight. Thought I might've been picking up something from you.~ Jess lifted her mug. <Musta been imagining things.>

 

The drank in silence, just enjoying being together. Lindy's eyelids started to droop and her head began to nod.

 

~Why don't you go back to bed?~ Jess said. <Disgusting, I'm still wide awake.>

 

~Okay.~ Lindy was tired. Once up, usually she would resist the idea of going back to sleep. She got up from the table. "Night, Jess." she whispered as she went back to her room.

 

Jess cleaned up the kitchen and turned out the light. As she walked back to the bedroom, she heard a low moan of fear. That was when she realized that she hadn't been picking up vibes from Lindy. She had been picking them up from Krycek.

 

She ran the last few paces into the bedroom. Krycek, still asleep, was thrashing about on their bed. "No! Don't! Nyet! For God's sake, no!" he screamed, bolting upright. His eyes snapped open.

 

"Alex, it's okay. I'm here." She sat on the bed and pulled his sweat covered body to her. He locked his arms around her tightly, burying his head into her shoulder. ~It's all right.~ She rocked him back and forth.

 

~Jess, what's happening?~ Lindy mindyelled. She had heard his yell and was running towards their bedroom.

 

~It's okay, Lindy. Go back to sleep. I'll deal with it.~ Her attention shifted back to the frightened man she was cradling. "Alex, you're safe," she repeatedly whispered.

 

Eventually, his death grip loosened on her. His hands wandered up to her head and pulled it to his. While kissing her, he pressed her back onto the bed. ~I need you, Jessica.~

 

Jess returned the kiss as he pulled her sleep shirt off her. He had been so frightened of what he had dreamed, he was trying to reassure himself of reality by making love to her. ~I'm here. You're safe,~ she repeatedly 'spoke as she was swept away by the sensation of his lips on hers.

 

Her underwear soon followed the sleep shirt. And his also. Jess lightly stroked his back as Krycek moved to her breast, gripping her shoulders convulsively. She nuzzled the top of his head, planting kisses in his soft hair. A soft growl, almost a purr, vibrated from her throat as she reached his ass.

 

Krycek whimpered and tongued the skin between her breasts. ~So beautiful.~ He traveled back up to her face, stroking her cheeks. ~Do you want me, miserable rat bastard that I am?"

 

~I don't want a miserable rat bastard. I want you.~ She nipped lightly at his ears and throat. She wrapped her thighs around his.

 

Krycek moaned wordlessly and penetrated her. Each thrust sank him deeper into her depths. Jess whimpered quietly with each movement, feeling him fill her. She could feel her pleasure rising, her muscles squeezing him. ~Alex!~

 

Krycek looked down at his lover, in the throes of her orgasm. She had arched up against him, heels and head dug into the matress. Her neck was bare to him in submission and ecstacy. The sight of her drove him over the edge. ~Jessica!~ He flowed into her as a warm darkness flowed into him.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek woke up. He could feel Jess's arms holding him tightly. She was curled around him protectively, her cheek resting on his neck, making it impossible for someone to get at him without going through her first.

 

<Oh God! What a nightmare.> In his dream, he was back in the labs, just before he underwent the first in a series of experiments. He shivered as he remembered the cruelty inflicted on him in the name of science.

 

He smiled as he remembered making love to Jess. It had been more incredible than usual, maybe because he had been so relieved that it had only been a dream, that he wasn't still locked in that damn silo or in those labs or in the woods outside of Tunguska having his arm hacked off. Or maybe it was because... .

 

Krycek groaned. <Shit! How could I have been so *stupid*?>

 

Jess stirred when she heard the groan. "Morning handsome," she said, snuggling a little closer.

 

"Morning Jess." His hand started to stroke her short brown hair. "I'm sorry about last night."

 

Jess idly traced circles on his chest. "Don't worry. I'm used to handling nightmares. Between me and Lindy, I've had a lot of practice. Want to talk about it?"

 

"Not really." He didn't want to discuss those horrible memories at all. "I wasn't talking about my dream." His other hand eased across the small of her back. "I'm talking about making love to you without a condom. Jeez, I can't believe I forgot."

 

"Alex, it's okay." Jess pushed up to look him in the eyes. "Our tests came back negative and we're only sleeping with each other. So that rules out AIDS and other VDs. And if I'm pregnant," Jess shrugged, "I can't think of anyone else I want to be the father." She lay back down on beside him. A glint appeared in her dark brown eyes. "Besides, I could have stopped you if I had really wanted to."

 

Krycek sighed in relief that she wasn't mad at him. And then decided to return her teasing tone. "I'd like to see you try," he growled as he dove lecherously for her neck.

 

Jess laughed and playfully shoved at him. Their wrestling match continued for a few minutes until it was interrupted by a quiet knock. ~Can I come in?"~ came Lindy's mindvoice.

 

"Give us a sec," Krycek called. He slid out of bed to get their clothes from the floor where he had tossed them last night. Ignoring Jess's wolf whistle as he bent over, he tossed her the sleep shirt. As she pulled it on, he stepped into his sweatpants. "Come on in," he said as he sat back down on the bed.

 

Lindy, dressed in pajamas, opened the door. "Morning," she said. She scampered into bed beside Jess.

 

"Scooch over, Alex. Lindy's hanging off the edge." Jess resettled, putting an arm around each of them. "So what are we doing this Saturday morning?"

 

"Watch cartoons and eat Chocopuffs?" Lindy said eagerly.

 

"Sounds like we're in for a sugar rush, Jess," Alex laughed.

 

"Okay, Lindy, go turn the TV. I'll get the cereal. None for me, though. But it's not my fault when the two of you are bouncing off the walls."

 

Krycek winked at her above Lindy's head. ~Hopefully, I'll be bouncing off of you later.~

 

~Horny hell hound,~ Jess shot back. "Let's move into the living room."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Later in the afternoon, Jess, Lindy, and Krycek were still watching the TV. <Damn, it's been so long since I've had a lazy day. Might as well enjoy it,> Jess had idly thought earlier. Between working with her brother Michael at his veterinarian clinic as a secretary, taking care of Lindy and Krycek, and trying to discretely do research into the paperwork she swiped from the pharmaceutical lab, she felt as if she were physically stretched almost to the breaking point.

 

<But would I trade any of it for the world, nope.> She hadn't been this content ever in her life. And apparently Lindy felt the same. To her surprise, Lindy had snuggled on the couch between her and Krycek instead of the opposite side of Jess from him. True, she was practically on Jess's lap, but it was a big step for her to be there between them at all.

 

~Aren't we a picture of domestic bliss?~ Krycek 'spoke to her sardonically. He stretched and yawned, displacing the cat that had curled on his lap.

 

~Me, domesticated? Never,~ Jess snorted. "Sorry, Lindy, but my leg's gone to sleep. Move, please." She stood up, shaking her leg to get the blood flowing again.

 

Lindy also got up. "I'm gonna go play video games," she announced and ran up the stairs.

 

"Abandoned for a hedgehog and a plumber," Jess muttered. She flopped back down beside Krycek. "So are you ready to talk about the dream you had last night?"

 

Krycek grabbed her legs and swung them over his lap. "No, I'd rather talk about how much I want you." His hands started to slide up them.

 

Jess stopped him mid movement. She pulled her legs off him to curl them under her. "Oh no. You're not using sex, however great it is, to avoid this. I want to help you. What's wrong?"

 

Krycek sighed. "I've been dreaming about Hong Kong, the silo,the labs, and the woods outside the gulag. And they terrify me."

 

"Are you remembering things?"

 

"No, I still have blank spots."

 

"Well something is trying to break through," She leaned an elbow against the couch. "Maybe we oughta get you a hypnotherapist."

 

"Why? So I can relive my greatest shame? Have my nose rubbed in everything I did?" Bitterness tinged his voice. "All I want to do is forget," he sighed.

 

"Alex, that's not what I meant." Jess put her left hand over his left one and squeezed. "Some part of you is trying to remember, wants to remember. Those repressed memories are festering and rotting inside you. If you allow yourself to remember, you can start to heal."

 

Krycek put his free hand over hers. "I'm scared, Jess. I am scared shitless of what we'll find out."

 

Jess leaned her forehead against his. "We'll work through it together. What ever happens, I will be here for you." She lifted his hand to her lips, kissing the palm lightly. ~I swear it.~

 

* * * * * * *

 

Two days later, Krycek and Jess waited nervously in the hotel room. Mulder had requested to see them, alone, in Martha's Vineyard. Since it coincided with a school break, they had brought Lindy along. "At least we'll get a mini vacation out of it," Krycek had said.

 

Lindy, oblivious to the tension, sat reading in the corner. She also had a stack of hotel stationary and a pile of crayons in easy reach. Her head snapped up. ~Someone's at the door,~ she mindspoke to the room in general.

 

Jess nodded and went to the door. She looked out the peephole. "Mulder," she said softly.

 

Krycek took a deep breath and nodded. Jess opened the door. "Hello, Mulder."

 

"Lindy, Krycek, Jess," he said by way of greeting. In an attempt to diffuse the tension between him and Jess, he tried to make a joke. "So how are your San Jose Guppies doing?"

 

Jess flopped down onto the edge of the bed. "You didn't call us out here to make fun of my home town hockey team, Mulder. Cut the chit chat. Why are we here?"

 

"There is a way Krycek can prove he's reformed." The skepticism in Mulder's words were clear.

 

"I'm listening," Krycek said.

 

"It involves the digital tape."

 

"Digital tape?" Jess arched her eyebrows. "What digital tape?"

 

Krycek understood immediately. He closed his eyes. "You're not going to ask us to do what I think you are."

 

~What? What is he going to ask for?~ Jess mindspoke to Krycek.

 

~Me to sell my soul to the devil again,~ came the grim reply.

 

Mulder leaned forward. "Not 'us' Krycek. You. I have a lead on the digital tape. I want you to retrieve it."

 

His choice of words rankled Jess. "Retrieve?" She stood up. "Is that what you think of us? Of me? Something less than human that can be ordered around like some trained dog?"

 

~Jess, calm down,~ Krycek stood up and put his arms around her.

 

~No, Alex. I won't calm down. He's treating us like we owe him.~

 

~I do.~

 

~So do I. But he's taking advantage of it.~

 

Mulder looked uncomfortable. "I wish you two wouldn't do that."

 

"Do what?" Jess asked sullenly. She sat back onto the bed.

 

Mulder tapped the side of his head. "Telepathy."

 

"Get used to it," Jess snarled.

 

~Jess, calm down. Let's hear the man out before we refuse him.~ "Start talking."

 

"The digital tape," he said for Jess's benefit, "has information on it from Roswell up to the present. It was first brought to my attention by a hacker."

 

Jess nodded. "Who got it illegally, of course."

 

"Of course. I, um, handed the tape over to Skinner for safe keeping."

 

Jess finished the story. "And then Krycek took it forcibly from him. And the rest, shall we say, is history. And I think we have enough info to make a decision."

 

Mulder stood up to leave. "Consider what I've said. And Krycek, consider this." His eyes narrowed. "If I even think that you aren't playing this straight, you're a dead man. And if you hurt Jess... ."

 

"Mulder, that's enough." Jess's voice was ice cold.

 

With a final glare at Krycek, Mulder left.

 

About two seconds after he left, Krycek spoke. "Let's do it."

 

"Alex, you don't have to prove anything to me. And it's too risky."

 

"No, we need to keep Mulder and Scully our allies. And I have to atone somehow. This might be a start."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess requested a second meeting with Mulder, alone.

 

She was waiting in a Dennys, not far from where she was staying. She wanted a few words with Mulder, not wanting to have to act as a buffer between him and Krycek.

 

Mulder came and joined her in the booth. "Krycek chickened out this time?"

 

"Shut up, Mulder. *I* requested this meeting, not Alex," Jess growled. "I have some questions I want answered before we say yes or no."

 

"Fine, go ahead. Ask."

 

"Okay. One, how reliable is your source?"

 

Mulder shifted uneasily. "As reliable as any of my sources are."

 

<That's not an answer,> Jess thought. But she knew that would be the only answer she would get. "Two. Does Scully know about this?"

 

"No."

 

Jess looked at him sharply. "You haven't told her? Is that wise?"

 

"Is that any of your business, blood thirsty hell beast?"

 

Jess smiled at the use of her nickname. "You're right. It's none of my business." She leant forward, resting her chin on her hands. "You know the only reason I'm considering this is because Alex feels so damn guilty."

 

"Like I said earlier, this is a chance to prove he's reformed." Mulder shifted again uneasily.

 

<What is he hiding?> Jess thought. <He's keeping back something.> She didn't want to probe his mind and find out. That would be a violation of their friendship. And Jess felt that she and Krycek could handle any situation together. "Okay, we'll do it. Where do we go and what do we do?"

 

"The tape is being kept in a house on the outskirts of D.C. The full moon will be happening in five days. He'll probably have the best chance then."

 

"No, Mulder. If someone knows that you've contacted us, they'll be expecting him then. Alex can will the Change almost as well as I can now. And I'm not letting him do this alone. He and I do it tomorrow night."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek and Jess debated the information they had gotten from Mulder, formulated a plan. Jess and Krycek would make the raid on the house. A little careful observation on Mulder's part had revealed that there was a standard burglar alarm on the house, but nothing else. Once it was disabled, it would be a simple matter to get in and out.

 

They had left Lindy at the hotel. Krycek had been adamant "I don't want her involved. It's too dangerous for a kid like her." Now they were trotting in wolf form to their target.

 

~Alex, does any of this smell rotten to you?~ Jess 'spoke. She had been uneasy with the whole idea. She was almost invisible because of her solid black fur.

 

Krycek was a little easier to see because of the white patches on his dark fur, the more traditional markings of a husky. ~I've had an uneasy feeling too, but I can't quite put a finger on it.~

 

~Don't you mean paw?~ She ducked his mock snap at her neck. ~Okay, I'll be serious.~

 

~You, serious?~ he snorted. ~Don't make me laugh.~

 

A fence barred their way. Taking a few steps backwards,they both took a running jump it to land in a backyard. ~This is it.~ Jess looked back at Krycek. ~You've had more experience breaking into places. What next?~

 

~We find a way in.~ Krycek circled the house, scanning the place. ~There. Window to the kitchen is cracked open. And if there is an open window... .~

 

~... the alarm system is off.~ Jess trotted over to the window and nosed it wider open. She slid through the opening. Krycek followed.

 

They found themselves standing in a kitchen with all the modern convinces. Their claws clicked against the tile floor as they made their way to the hall. ~Mulder said the tape will be hidden in the upstairs den, Alex. Let's go.~

 

They paused in front of the stairway. ~Wait a second. This place smells familiar.~ Krycek had wrinkled his nose, inhaling deeply.

 

Jess sniffed. ~Something does smell familiar, but I'm not sure from where.~ She shivered, fur bristling in waves. ~This is giving me the creeps. Let's just get the damn tape.~

 

~Agreed.~ They slowly climbed the stairs. The door to the den was wide open. Jess and Krycek entered it hesitantly, heads and bellies low to the ground. They started pulling drawers open and rifling through them, no mean feat using canine jaws and paws. ~Jess, found it!~ Krycek pulled his head out of one drawer, holding the tape gingerly in his mouth. They started back down to the kitchen.

 

~Alex, this is all wrong.~ Jess stopped, ears pinned back flat against her head. ~Nobody's here. It was too easy to get in and find it. If this tape's so valuable, why keep it here, with no one guarding it?~

 

Krycek looked back at her, forefeet on the window sill. ~And I just remembered what smelled so familiar. There were Morley butts in the ashtray upstairs. And I only know of one person connected with Mulder who smokes Morleys.~ He shot her a mental picture of Cancerman.

 

Jess eyes widened. ~Oh God! This is a set up! Let's get the hell out now!~

 

Krycek and Jess squeezed through the window. They couldn't sense anyone around them, but they ran off quickly and silently, taking no chances.

 

~We'd better split up. I'll go get Lindy. You go on to Mulder's.~ Jess veered off in another direction, blending into the night.

 

~I'm gonna run a random pattern, just in case. Be there in two hours. Be careful.~ Krycek also ran into the darkness.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess had returned to where she left her clothes earlier that evening. She Changed back into a human and went into the hotel. <Better find Lindy.> She almost ran to their room.

 

Jess stepped through the door. ~Lindy, I'm back.~

 

No response, mindvoice or physical voice.

 

~Lindy?~ Jess opened the bathroom door. Nothing. ~Lindy!~ Jess opened the floor length drapes. Again nothing. There were no other hiding places in the room. ~*Lindy!!!!*~

 

* * * * * * *

 

<Damn you, Mulder. Damn you, Cancerman. And damn me for getting involved in this in the first place. How am I going to face her? That kid's a daughter to her.> He had heard Jess's mindscreams. She 'spoke to him frantically after not finding Lindy. After calming her somewhat, he also tried to 'speak to Lindy, with no luck. <Maybe I'm just too far away from Lindy. That's got to be it.> But deep inside, he knew that wasn't the reason.

 

He stopped in front of an apartment. <Never thought I'd end up here.> He knocked on the door.

 

Mulder opened it. He looked at him cooly. "Well," he said, arching an eyebrow.

 

Krycek strode in, hatred burning in his eyes. "I hope Lindy's life was worth this." He tossed the tape at Mulder.

 

"Where is she? Jess dragged herself here an hour ago."

 

"I don't know." Each word came out with a hard edge.

 

Jess staggered out of the bedroom. Eyes wide, she clutched at the door frame for support. She looked at Krycek, and then behind him. ~I still can't 'hear her. Can you?~

 

Krycek shook his head. "I still can't 'hear her either." ~I hoped it was because I'm not as strong as you are.~ He walked over to her and put his arms around her. Jess leaned into the embrace, shivering.

 

"What do you mean 'can't hear her'?" Mulder demanded.

 

"We can all mindspeak to each other. Doesn't have to do with the fact that Alex and I are a mated pair." Jess explained. "Seems to be an extension of our mindreading abilities."

 

"And Lindy is keeping quiet? Shutting you two out?" Mulder asked.

 

"No, it doesn't work that way. We can usually get a sense of where the other is."

 

"So what happened?"

 

Jess couldn't answer. Krycek explained, deadly serious. "Only two things I know of can stop mindspeach - when we're too far apart, or death."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully walked the hallway to Mulder's apartment. She knew he was up to something. He had been even more paranoid and secretive at work and at home than usual. That meant that he had gotten a lead on a piece of information that someone didn't want him to have.

 

When she stepped into the apartment, she understood why. Jess crouched on the couch, arms wrapped around her knees tightly, staring into space. <And where Jess goes... oh shit!> She walked over to Jess and shook her shoulder slightly. "Jess, where's Krycek?"

 

"Bathroom" came the toneless reply.

 

<Jeez, she is really out of it.> "And Mulder? Where is he?"

 

"In the bedroom," said an all too familiar voice.

 

Scully spun to see Krycek standing in the doorway to the bedroom. "What the *hell* are you doing here?"

 

"Mulder asked us to do a favor." The bitterness in his voice was palatable. "And it doing it may have been the worst mistake I've ever made." He pushed past her to kneel in front of Jess. He stared intently at her face, and then cupped it in his hands. "C'mon, Jess. We can't reach her from here. Exhausting yourself isn't going to help," he said gently.

 

" 'Exhausting yourself?' " Scully asked.

 

Jess still stared into space, almost catatonic. "She's trying to find Lindy by mindscanning, but I've never seen her go so deep," Krycek said. "Jess, I got us into this. It's my fault. Blame me."

 

Jess closed her eyes and started to shake. Her breath, instead of being slow and measured, came in staccato bursts. "Not your fault,... told her would *always* protect her,... should have known... ."

 

"Jess, look at me." She opened her eyes. He continued to speak. "There is know way that you could have known. And we'll find her."

 

"Lindy's missing?"

 

"Yeah, Scully. Go ask Mulder about it. I'm going to try to snap Jess out of this."

 

Scully stepped into the bedroom where Mulder was holding a digital tape. "Is that why Jess and Krycek are here?"

 

"I was told where the tape was being kept. And I thought that they were the perfect choice to get at it."

 

"Only it was a set up, and you were suspicious but asked them to do it anyway." Scully started piecing everything together. "And you thought that if anyone got hurt, it would be Krycek and not Jess or Lindy." She paused tilting her head. "Is that even *the* tape?"

 

"I don't know. All I know is I may have just destroyed her life."

 

"No, Mulder, you just complicated it that much more." Jess, shadowed by Krycek, stood in the doorway. "You didn't abduct Lindy." Her jaw tightened. "All you're responsible for is what you asked me and Alex to do."

 

"Jess, I'm sorry that you and Lindy got involved." Mulder did sound repentant for that. "But don't ask me to apologize to him."

 

Jess bit her lower lip. "Alex, Dana, I want a minute alone with Mulder."

 

Krycek and Scully left the room without a word. Jess fixed Mulder with a steely glare. "Now let's get something straight between us. I once loved you. I do still, as a friend. And I'm extremely hurt and angry right now."

 

Mulder's gaze also narrowed. "And?" he said dangerously.

 

"I made a vow that I would fight tooth and nail to keep my family safe. And consider Alex family as much as I consider Lindy, Michael, Annie, Dana, and you. But if I'm forced to make a choice between you and Alex, you're not going to like it."

 

Mulder stood up. "Jess, for the sake of our friendship, I'll try to not force you to make that choice. But don't expect me to accept Krycek with open arms."

 

Jess steped forward a pace. "I'm not asking you to. But I would like you to stop acting like he's demon spawn. Sometimes I wonder who you're actually angry with, Alex or your dad."

 

"Jess," he growled warningly.

 

"Shut up, Fox and let me finish." Jess's eyes narrowed. "I can understand why you'd be angry at Alex. He did shoot him in cold blood. But you make it sound like he killed your best friend, not your father. And don't tell me that your father was your best friend. I know better than that. I know that he didn't want you to talk about Samantha, or act like she existed. And I have a good guess that he knew a lot more about her disappearance than he let on."

 

Mulder paled. He was sure that no one other than Scully and his mother had any idea about that. "How did you know?"

 

"Logical reasoning, and the fact that I'm a bit further removed from the events means I can be a more dispassionate observer." Jess shook her head. "Mulder, I understand about how you feel about your dad. My dad wouldn't let us talk about Rachel when she died. But I still loved him and it took me a long time to admit that I was angry at him. But you have to admit the anger is there and then let it go, or else it's going to destroy you. But I won't let you take it out on Alex."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek was going through his own special personalized hell. <This is exactly what I was afraid would happen.> He hadn't wanted Jess or Lindy to come to any harm. <Oh God, if I don't find her... .>

 

They were back as Scully's apartment. Jess refused to stay at Mulder's. "Too many memories," she had said. And since the hotel room had been compromised, there was only one place they could hide momentarily.

 

He sat by the bed, watching Jess. He had managed to finally get her to go to sleep. She had stayed up seventy two hours straight, trying to reach Lindy with her mindvoice. Nothing had been found, no sign of her physically or mentally.

 

He wanted more than anything to collapse beside her, to forget, if only while asleep, the waking nightmare they were living. But there was something he wanted, needed, to do. He left the room, only to search out Mulder's partner. "Scully, I wanted to say I'm sorry."

 

"Sorry, Krycek?" Scully growled. She was sitting at her home computer, typing a report. "About what?"

 

Krycek swallowed. "About everything I was involved in, your disappearance and your sister's death." There, he said it. "I know it doesn't make up for what I've done. I know you will probably hate me for the rest of your life. And I don't blame you for it," he added softly. Having said what he needed to say, he turned and started to walk away.

 

"Krycek," she said sharply. "I want to know, did Cardinale pull the trigger, or did you?"

 

He half turned back to her. "You probably won't believe this is the truth. Cardinale shot her. I was there, but I didn't kill your sister. And I want to take down the men who ordered it just as badly as you."

 

The phone rang. Scully picked it up. Krycek stood watching her, afraid of what she was hearing. <Please, don't let Lindy be dead.>

 

Scully hung up the phone. "Wake Jess up," she said grimly. "They've found Lindy."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Lindy lay unconscious in the hospital bed, hooked up monitors. Jess sat beside the hospital bed, pressing Lindy's hand to her forehead. She knew what had happened to her from the moment she saw her lying in the bed, twelve hours ago.

 

Scully entered the room, holding Lindy's chart. "Jess, can I talk to you outside?"

 

The door opened a second time. Krycek stepped in wordlessly and walked to Jess without looking at Scully. He dropped a quick kiss in Jess's hair and took her place beside Lindy.

 

Jess followed Scully out of the room. Outside Mulder was waiting. "We have the results of the blood work on Lindy."

 

Jess nodded, saying nothing.

 

"Her tests came back as normal. *Completely* normal," Scully emphasized.

 

Jess made a statement, not asked a question. "They reversed the Change."

 

"Jess, you're always telling me not to jump to conclusions," Mulder said. All we know for certain is that the unknown enzyme that she had in her blood is no longer present."

 

"Mulder, last night was a full moon. I stayed up the whole night, in her room, fighting the urge to Change. Lindy didn't so much as grow an extra hair." She turned away. "I don't know whether I should be happy, sad, or jealous."

 

"Jealous?" Mulder raised his eyebrows.

 

"Lindy may have just become something Alex and I have longed for - fully, unquestionably human and not worry about someday losing control and letting the truth about what you really are slip out." She looked sidelong at the pair. "But you wouldn't understand that, would you?"

 

"Jess, think about who you're talking to." Scully said ironically.

 

"That's not what I meant. And you two being lovers is a little less earth shattering than being the myth come to life. But I don't want to talk about it." She looked at Mulder hard. "One question, was that the tape you were looking for?"

 

"It was blank," he said softly.

 

Jess looked down and away from him. "Figures," she muttered and walked back into Lindy's room.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess sat by Lindy's bed, watching her. According to the doctors, she was slowly coming out of the coma and would be conscious sometime today.

 

<Poor little thing's been through so much.> Her eyes filled with tears as she remembered how they first met. She and the little girl had bonded so fast, mostly because of their shared lycanthropy and experiences.

 

She looked around the room. Everywhere she cast her gaze, she saw I.V.'s, tubes, wires, monitors, and other medical devices that all connected back to the little girl laying in the bed. <Why her? She's suffered enough. Why not me instead?>

 

The door opened and Krycek stepped in. He had been either at Jess's side or at Lindy's when she was asleep. He gently brushed Lindy's bangs back from her eyes. "Jess what are we going to do?" Krycek sounded as mystified as she felt.

 

She reached for his hand. "I don't know." Jess looked down. "Part of me wants the little werewolf I've been raising back. But part of me is saying 'let her be human and have a 'normal' childhood.'" She looked back up at him. "She doesn't remember much about being human. And what she does isn't that happy, mostly her abuse." She gestured weakly. "I don't know if she wants to be human. If I Change her and she didn't want me to, she may hate me."

 

"Hate us, Jess. I'm going to back whatever decision you and Lindy make." He sighed deeply. "God, sometimes I wish I were human again."

 

Jess wrapped her arms around him. "Eventually you get used to the cycle of the moon, and even enjoy it. But you never stop mourning and longing for your lost humanity. Believe me, I know." She paused. "And if she decides to stay human, will she want to stay with me? I don't think I could lose her." Her voice became that of a scared child.

 

"Maybe we should wait until we can talk to Lindy. After all, if she decides to stay human, and then changes her mind, we can do something about it then." He held her tight.

 

"You're right. It is her choice." Jess laid her head against his chest, listening to the steady thump of his heart. Tears slipped from between her closed eyelids. <But what will she choose?>

 

Krycek's grip on her shoulders tightened. "Jess," he whispered softly, "Look."

 

Jess turned around wiping her eyes. She smiled as she saw Lindy's eyes flutter open. Lindy made a weak sound and reached for her.

 

"Shhhh, it's okay," Jess cooed, taking Lindy's hand in her own. "We're here, sweetheart."

 

"Can't 'hear you. Don't remember anything," Lindy said, frightened.

 

"It's all right, Lindy." Krycek put his hand over Jess's and Lindy's. "You will remember eventually. You don't have to right now."

 

"But why can't I 'hear you?" Lindy was growing edgier by the moment.

 

Jess looked at Krycek. ~Do I tell her now?~

 

~I don't see anyway we can avoid it.~

 

Jess looked back at the little girl tenderly. "Lindy, sweetheart, we think that someone, somehow was able to make you human again."

 

Her eyes widened. "Not a werewolf? No more Changing?"

 

"Yes, honey. But you need to get a little better before we talk any more about it. You may not be able to 'hear me or Alex, but one of us will be near by, watching." She bent over to whisper in Lindy's ear. "And I'll always love you, no matter what."

 

A doctor stepped into the room. "I see she's awake. We need to run some tests. If the two of you would mind waiting outside."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek sat in the waiting room besides Jess, near Scully and Mulder. After the doctor had examined her, the four of them had seen Lindy, who still was a little groggy. They had left when she fell into a deep natural sleep. In her relief that Lindy was all right, she had finally allowed herself to fall asleep, her head resting on his shoulder.

 

Krycek leaned his head against hers. <Can't go to sleep, not now. One of us needs to be awake. Just in case,> he thought tiredly. His eyelids, however, refused to cooperate. He was lightly dosing before he knew it.

 

A quiet "ahem" made him look up. Mulder stood in front of him frowning. "We need to talk, alone."

 

Krycek lifted his head. "I have nothing to say to you. I did your dirty work. Now leave us alone."

 

"Listen to him," Jess said quietly. She lifted her head from his shoulder.

 

~You're supposed to be asleep,~ Krycek chided.

 

"I was," she said softly. "Go talk to him. Get it out of your system."

She patted Krycek on his back, looking at Mulder. Neither of them were sure to whom she had spoken.

 

Krycek gave her hand a squeeze. He stood up, looking Mulder squarely in the eye.

 

Mulder returned the stare and then turned and walked away. Krycek followed. They both walked silently past Scully, returning from looking at the latest test results on Lindy's charts. She turned and watched them leave with puzzled eyes. She started to follow.

 

"Don't, Dana," Jess said softly. She got up and walked over to her.

 

"Where are they going?" she asked.

 

Jess smiled ruefully. "Either to kill each other or to make peace."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek followed Mulder down to the half empty parking lot. He had walked in silence behind Mulder the whole time. He understood the anger that the man had towards him, but that didn't give him any right to try to get revenge on him through Jess or Lindy.

 

"That's far enough," Krycek said. He grabbed Mulder by the arm, swinging him around to face him. "What is this about?"

 

Mulder pulled his arm free. "You, you son of a bitch." The hatred and contempt were clear in his voice and face. "It's supposed to be you in the hospital bed, not Lindy. It's your fault."

 

"I wasn't the one who took her from the hotel," Krycek growled.

 

"No, but if it wasn't for you, Jess and Lindy wouldn't be here." Mulder's eyes narrowed. "And you did help take Scully. And kill her sister. And kill my father."

 

"Go ahead, vent all your hate on me. It's nothing I don't put myself though every day. But it won't change anything I've done."

 

"You arrogant bastard!" Mulder lost hold of the tight rein he had on his temper. "You betray my trust, you almost get me killed multiple times, you leave me to die in a gulag, and *I'm* the bad guy?" He swung at Krycek, connecting with his jaw. Krycek staggered back, stunned. Strangely, he didn't retaliate, or even defend himself.

 

Mulder again punched him, this time square in the face. Krycek's head snapped back, blood streaming from his nose. Again, he didn't retaliate. In fact he almost seemed to want Mulder to hit him.

 

Again Mulder punched Krycek on the jaw. This time he wasn't able to keep his balance. Krycek staggered and went face down onto the pavement.

 

Mulder was on top of him in an instant. Jamming a knee into Krycek's back, he grabbed Krycek's head and started slamming it against the pavement. "This is for Scully!" Slam. "This is for Melissa!" Slam. "This is for my father!" Slam. "And this is for me!" Slam.

 

He paused. Somehow, beating up Krycek wasn't making him feel better like he thought it would. Krycek was right - it wouldn't change a thing he had done. It wouldn't bring back the dead or erase what had been done to the woman he loved or reunite him with his sister or his father.

 

Krycek turned his head to one side. His head was covered in cuts and bruises. His nose was broken. He was spitting blood from where his jaw had cut into his tongue as Mulder punched him. But he still managed to gasp out, "I'm sorry, Mulder," with tears falling from his eyes.

 

And for the first time, Mulder actually listened to him. Heard his pain. His shame. His sorrow.

 

Krycek sounded just like Mulder whenever he talked about being unable to stop Samantha's abduction.

 

Something in Mulder softened. He realized that Krycek was just a pawn. He had been a victim of the Smoking Man's schemes as much as he was. And also, Jess was right. It wasn't Krycek he was angry with. Well, no, it was Krycek he was angry with, but it was what his father he was really wanting to beat up.

 

Krycek felt the pressure on his back ease. Mulder's hands went from his head to his shoulder. He was being helped into a sitting position.

 

Mulder knelt down in front of him. "You really mean that, don't you?"

 

Krycek put his hands on either side of his nose, forcing it back into normal position so he could self-heal. The cuts could be worried about later. "Believe it or not, yes. I was told that I was actually doing you a favor by spying on you. When I was told about what they planned for Scully, I was in too deep to get out. And that whole mess with your father, Scully's sister, the gulag..." his voice trailed off and he shook his head. "It's unforgivable." He took a deep breath. "All I want to do is forget my past and live with the woman I love."

 

Mulder looked Krycek in the eye and pulled him to his feet. "For Jess's sake, I'll let you live. Go clean up." Mulder turned and walked away, leaving Krycek standing there.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Lindy sat patiently through another round of blood work being drawn. The constant gentle attention had removed her fear of the doctors and nurses. In fact, several of them had brought her stuffed animals, coloring books, and other toys, all the time saying "what a brave little girl" and "what a sweetheart" she was. The knowledge that either Jess or Krycek were hovering just outside the door was also a great comfort.

 

She couldn't remember much about what happened after Krycek and Jess left the hotel room. She could remember hearing some noises and then feeling very sleepy. And a bright light. Mulder had repeatedly asked if there was a feeling of a presence in the room. "Yes," she answered, "but I never saw them, I think."

 

Jess had then interrupted, insisting that Mulder wait until Lindy was out of the hospital. "And if she decides not to talk right away, it's her choice."

 

The nurse removed the needle from her arm. "All done," she said. "Your mom will be here in a moment."

 

Lindy grinned a little. Although she never called Jess "mother," that was exactly how she felt about her. And although she didn't know Krycek that well yet, she trusted him more than any man she had met.

 

"Already am," came Jess's voice. She stepped through the door. Krycek was still off with Mulder, where ever that was. The nurse smiled at them and left. "How ya doing?"

 

"Little scared." Lindy looked up at Jess.

 

"So am I," she said gently, laying a hand over the child's.

 

Lindy said hesitantly, "Would it make me a bad girl if I said I want to stay human? For a little while?" she added quickly.

 

Jess smiled reassuringly. "You can stay human as long as you want to," Jess said. "And it doesn't make you a bad girl. And if you change your mind or decide that you never want to be a werewolf again, that's okay too."

 

The door opened again. Mulder and Scully came into the room. "Hey there, Lindy," Mulder said. "You better start not looking so healthy, or else they'll kick you out for faking."

 

Lindy giggled. "The sooner, the better, eh little one?" Jess said, ruffling Lindy's hair. "So where did you hide Alex's body, Mulder?"

 

Mulder frowned. "He isn't back?"

 

"No, I haven't seen him since he went to talk to you, over an hour ago. Dana?"

 

Scully shook her head. "You don't think... ."

 

Jess got a concentrating inward look. Lindy touched her arm. "Anything?"

 

"No." The word was a quiet whisper. "Mulder, what did you do to him?"

 

"I didn't kill him. I lost my temper and roughed him up, but that's all."

 

"But he was conscious when you left him?" Jess growled.

 

"Yes."

 

"Oh shit," she whispered. "Here we go again."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Again they waited three days.

 

Jess barely got any sleep. She had been helping Lindy adjust to being human again in addition to keeping herself open to receive Krycek's mindvoice. And when she did snatch some sleep, she was haunted by nightmares.

 

She was in the middle of a horrifying one, a mixture of her life with Jake, Lindy's memories of her john, and fears about the future, when she felt someone shaking her shoulder. Jess blinked and looked up. "Dana, what is it? Have you found Alex?"

 

"Not exactly." Scully paused. "We've been contacted. They want a trade."

 

Jess swallowed hard. "What?"

 

"They want the papers you took from that pharmaceutical lab in exchange for Krycek. Do you have them?"

 

"Some of Mulder's paranoia rubbed off on me. I carry them where ever I go. I'll do the exchange. Where and when?"

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess sat waiting on the park bench. She clutched a briefcase close to her chest. Mulder sat next to her. "It's gonna be okay, hell beast," he said, trying to reassure her.

 

"Is it?" Jess's voice was toneless. "We're always gonna be running. It'll never be safe for us."

 

"Isn't that the nature of life?" Cancerman stepped out of the darkness.

 

Jess shrank back into a defensive position. "Never being certain of the future, yes. Being snatched out of the darkness, no." She glared like a fox that has been cornered by the hounds.

 

"We have what you want," Mulder said. "Where's Krycek?"

 

"That will be disclosed when I'm assured of the briefcases contents."

 

Jess stood up. "So much for honor among thieves. Stay," she said to Mulder. She crossed the two yards separating her from the Cigarette Smoking Man and handed him the briefcase. As she did so, the wind shifted, leaving Cancerman upwind from her.

 

<That scent,> she mused as she inhaled. And then a light went on in Jess's head. This man had more of a personal stake in the X-Files and Fox Mulder than anyone guessed.

 

Jess smiled. Not a pretty smile.

 

The form in front of her shifted slightly. Cancerman knew that she *knew.*

 

"How can I be assured that this won't happen again, that I won't be taken?" she said quietly, so Mulder couldn't hear. "*Family* is very important to me."

 

The Cigarette Smoking Man kept his poker face admirably. "You were to be next. But...," he paused, trying to regain the upper hand. "If certain information is kept quiet, attention will be focused elsewhere."

 

Jess nodded, playing along. "Then we have an understanding. Where's Alex?" She said the last sentence in her regular voice.

 

Mulder's cell phone rang. He answered it without taking his eyes off of them. "Mulder... where... we'll be there. Jess." She looked back at him. "They've found Krycek. He's at the hospital right now."

 

Jess's head swung back around. The Cigarette Smoking Man had disappeared back into the darkness. "Let's go."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek could feel someone gently holding his hand. Everything hurt horribly, including his hair. <Okay, open your eyes on the count of three. One. Two. Two and a half. Three.>

 

One eye cracked open. He winced and snapped it shut as the light from the overhead lamp stabbed at it.

 

"Alex?" came Jess's voice gently. He turned his head slightly towards the sound and tried opening both eyes again. He managed a partial victory this time. One eye refused to open.

 

Jess smiled at him. "Go easy. You're going to need a lot of beauty rest."

 

"How bad?" he croaked. <Jeez, my mouth feels like the Sahara.>

 

"Massive contusions on your abdomen, groin, and chest, three broken ribs, dislocated right shoulder, left hip, and right knee, chipped tooth, half healed scratches on your face, bruised jaw, broken nose, and one beauty of a black eye." Jess paused. "They really worked you over. The doctor mentioned something about giving us a bulk discount."

 

"I'd laugh, but it hurts too much." Krycek paused. "They reversed the Change in me also."

 

Jess nodded. "Let's talk about that later. Lindy wants to see you as soon as possible. She's really latched onto you. Feel up to it?"

 

"Okay, send the kid on in," Krycek said. Jess got up and opened the door and signaled. As Lindy trotted past her, she stepped out of the room to talk to Mulder and Scully.

 

"How is he?" Mulder asked.

 

"Physically sore. Mentally, I don't know yet," Jess sighed. "Same with Lindy. It's an emotional hell that they're going though. And I'm afraid that I'm gonna lose them." She turned and went back into Krycek's room.

 

Mulder and Scully stayed silent. Neither one could come up with the words to allay Jess's fears.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Three days later, Jess had brought Krycek back from the hospital to the condo she had rented. After he and Lindy were released from the hospital, Mulder had politely asked them to stay in the area for a little while, so he could keep an eye on how he and Lindy were adapting. He and Jess agreed. They needed to be near someone who could offer support. She felt that they shouldn't go back to California yet, no matter how appealing it was to run away and stick her head in the sand. Lindy was coping wonderfully. Krycek, however, just wasn't ready. He was weak from having the Change in him reversed, not to mention having been beaten with a precision meant to cause pain but not permanent damage. Otherwise he was physically healthy.

 

Mentally, however, was another story. He had avoided touching her. She wasn't sure exactly why. He had been plagued by the nightmares while kept in the hospital for observation, and he refused to talk to her about them.

 

Lindy had gone to bed hours ago. Jess watched him over the edge of her book. Krycek was sitting in the chair on the opposite side of the room instead of being curled up on the couch beside her. He was halfheartedly watching the late news. <He's uneasy about what happened. Hell, I'm uneasy too. Maybe a night's sleep will settle us.> "Ready to go to bed, Alex?"

 

Krycek wouldn't look at her. "Um, I was thinking. Maybe I should sleep out here on the couch tonight."

 

"Okay. Or you can have the bed. I'll sleep out here." She tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice. She didn't particularly want to have sex, but she did want to hold and be held by him, just to touch him. She had sleeping alone for almost a week, and was incredibly lonely. Jess hadn't realized how much she had come to depend on his presence But if he needed to be alone, she would abide by his wishes and not make him feel guilty.

 

He shifted uneasily. "And I think that maybe I should move out."

 

Jess paled, staring with wide eyes. "Why?" she whispered when she finally found her voice.

 

"You told me after we started living together about how most humans didn't do anything for you." He finally looked at her. "I can't stay here, loving you, wanting you, if you can't return those feelings."

 

"Oh, Alex," she breathed. "Is that why you've avoided touching me all night?" As he nodded, she crossed the room and knelt in front of him. "I may have been attracted to the werewolf, but I fell in love with the man. I love you, Alex. That will never change." She interlaced her fingers with his. "Whatever happens, we'll deal with it together. Wolves mate for life." She grinned slightly. "Face it, you're stuck with me."

 

He slid out of the chair. "Oh God, Jess. I've been so scared that you wouldn't feel like that," he whispered as he knelt in front of her. His hands found her head. "And being stuck with you ain't that bad."

 

Jess found herself tasting both his tongue and his tears. "Shall we move to the bedroom?" she managed to gasp as he kissed the hollow of her throat.

 

"Jess, I'm not sure I can," he murmured. "I'm *really* sore."

 

"That's okay. Let's just get some sleep." She helped him up from the floor. Arms around each other's waist they padded off to the bedroom.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek woke up with a slight moan. The swelling in his eye had finally gone down enough so he could open it. He looked over to see the back of a brunette head next to him and a blonde one beyond that. He and Jess had fallen asleep in each others arms. Krycek remembered waking up once in a cold sweat, haunted by his dreams. He also vaguely remembered Lindy coming into their room, frightened by a nightmare of her own. She had been so scared that she asked if she could sleep with them. He and Jess had shifted around until all three were in bed, Jess in the middle.

 

Something about the three of them being together comforted him. It reminded him of the morning a little over a week ago. <Seems like a lifetime ago,> he thought. He gently stroked Jess's hair. She stirred slightly and opened her eyes.

 

"Morning, Alex," she whispered. "How are you feeling?"

 

"Sore, but not as bad as before. I think Lindy's still asleep."

 

"Am not," came the little girl's voice. "Been awake for an hour."

 

"Oh, playing possum. I see." Jess squirmed onto her back. "Wanna talk about your dream?"

 

"Just about *him*, nothing else."

 

"Just about the sicko who made you a werewolf? Not about anything else?"

 

"Yeah." Lindy scooted out from under the covers. "Gonna go watch TV," and retreated from the bedroom.

 

Jess rolled over so she was laying half on, half off Krycek. "And do you want to talk about anything?"

 

"Just about how thankful I am that I woke up next to you." An arm went around her waist. "I'm afraid that one day I'll wake up, and you'll be gone."

 

Jess tightened her arms around his body. "Alex, I wouldn't leave you."

 

"No, that you would have been taken. Like Scully was from Mulder. Like Lindy was from us." His voice dropped to a whisper. "Like I was from you."

 

Jess lifted up. "Alex, there is something I have to tell you. But it stays between us. Scully can't know. Mulder can't. Even Lindy can't, for now. But I think it will insure that we won't be split apart."

 

"What?" His eyes squinted with concern.

 

"Remember how I told you about my meeting with the Cigarette Smoking Man? I didn't tell you the whole story. You see... ."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess and Krycek decided to invite Scully and Mulder over for dinner. It was intended as an olive branch and Jess didn't expect them to accept. But much to her surprise, they did.

 

Jess and Krycek were waiting in their living room tensely. Lindy was upstairs playing, waiting for dinner.

 

The expected knock on the door made Jess and Krycek jump. Jess got up to open the door. "Hello Dana, Mulder. Come in."

 

Mulder and Scully entered the condo. The four of them stood in an awkward silence, until Krycek spoke. "Listen, I know how much I've hurt you. And I know saying 'I'm sorry' doesn't change anything. But don't take it out on Jess and Lindy."

 

"In other words, a truce is what you want," Scully said.

 

"A truce is what we need. An alliance is what I want." Krycek swallowed hard. "A friendship is what I hope for."

 

Mulder and Scully looked at each other long and hard, each debating internally. Jess kept her mouth shut, knowing that there was nothing she could say to influence them one way or another. It had to be Scully and Mulder's decision.

 

Scully nodded at Mulder. He said what they had agreed on earlier. "What you've done is not forgotten. It's not forgiven. But because of what you know and for Jess's and Lindy's sake, we're willing to call a truce and an alliance."

 

"Thank you, both of you," Jess said. "So what do you say to me calling Lindy down and we eat?"

 

* * * * * * *

 

After dinner, they all moved to the living room. They talked for hours, trading stories about each other and forging a tentative new alliance between them all. Mostly it became an oneupmanship contest between Jess and Mulder about personality quirks, odd habits, and embarrassing memories although Scully and Krycek, every now and then, did get in little digs about the two of them. None of them were truly comfortable, but it was a start.

 

Lindy sat between Jess and Krycek, at first excited to be so late. She loved listening to Jess talk about her past. But eventually it was too much. Her head almost split at the ears from the force of her yawn.

 

Jess was suddenly aware of the little girl sitting beside her. "Lindy, it's way past your bedtime. Scoot."

 

"Alex, read me a story?" Lindy asked.

 

"Okay." Krycek got up from beside Jess and followed Lindy upstairs.

 

Jess smiled out of love as she watched them pass by, not to mention the fact that it put Krycek's tight butt right at her eye level.

 

Mulder reached over and slapped her hand lightly. "Hey, get your mind out of the gutter. We gotta talk serious for a moment."

 

Jess sighed and looked back at Mulder. "What?" she said, rolling her eyes.

 

"I want to know how the three of you are doing."

 

"We're all having nightmares. By the end of the night, one of us has woken up at least once to comfort the other. And usually Lindy ends up asking if she can sleep with us sometime in the night."

 

"Nothing helps?" Scully asked.

 

"No. Lindy and I have these dreams whenever we've just come out of an *extremely* stressful situation. What she and I are going though is familiar territory. I'm dreaming about Jake and Alpha Wolf. Lindy's dreaming about the creep who molested her. In about a week we'll be back to normal. Alex, though, has me worried. I can't even get him to begin to talk about what he's dreaming about."

 

"You and Lindy talking it out should lessen the problems soon, especially if it's helped in the past." Mulder nodded. "Krycek, though, is an another story. Considered hypnotherapy for him?"

 

Jess sighed. "Every time I mention the possibility, he gets defensive and changes the subject. And I'm at the end of my rope."

 

"I can see why," Scully said. "If tonight's, and the past month's any indication of how he feels now, I wouldn't want to talk about it either."

 

"It's not just a matter of not wanting. He can't. He has gaps in his memory. I've offered to try a mind probe, but he doesn't want that done either. He wants to forget, and something isn't letting him. But every time I bring up hypnosis, he tries to distract me." Jess looked down and blushed. "He usually succeeds too," she murmured.

 

"Let me talk to him, Jess," Mulder said, ignoring the reference to her sex life. "Maybe I can arrange something."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Later that evening, after Mulder and Scully left, they prepared for bed. Krycek and Jess showered, seperately. Krycek was comfortable sharing a bed again with Jess, but he wasn't certain about sex yet. He wanted her, but not if she was going to sleep with him out of pity.

 

Jess kept giving him side long glances. She knew something wasn't quite right, but didn't know how to approach the question. "How are you feeling?"

 

"Much better now that we've talked to Mulder and Scully."

 

"I meant physically."

 

Krycek turned to look at her. Standing in front of a mirror, her back was to him. She had put on her sleep shirt, but hadn't buttoned it. He could see a reflection of a pink nipple. He gulped as he felt his body respond. "Um, okay, I guess. Still a little tender in some spots, stiff in others."

 

She turned and smiled at him. "Stiff in the right place, I hope. Maybe I'd better examine you and find out."

 

Krycek moaned from the idea, but he was still hesitant. "Jess, you're not doing this out of pity for me? Because you feel you have to?"

 

"Alex, I don't do things because I feel I have to." A hint of fear appeared in her eyes. "You do want me? Right?"

 

"More than anything. It's just... ." Krycek looked down.

 

"Alex, stop punishing yourself." Jess stepped in front of him. She put her hands on either side of Krycek's face, making him look her in the eyes. "There are enough people out there who want to hurt you without you adding to it."

 

"But Jess, when we met we were the same thing. But now I'm human and you're..."

 

"Flesh and bone and blood, Alex. Just the same as you. I laugh, I cry, I fear, I hurt, I need. And I love. I love you. You love me. And that's all that matters."

 

During the last words he had leant closer to her face. He could see the unshed tears glimmering like stars in her eyes, could feel her warm breath across his skin, could smell her intoxicating scent. "You're right Jess. I love you. You love me. And that is all that matters." He closed the mere centimeters that were seperating them.

 

Their kiss was long and luxurious, both reassuring themselves that they were together. Tongues entwined. Hands explored. Skin rubbed. And Jess's shirt fell to the floor.

 

Jess backed away from him, breaking the kiss. She pressed her lips to his ear. "Alex, let me make love to you."

 

Krycek shivered as she nipped at his neck. "Jess, I want to. But I can't... ."

 

"No, Alex. Let me be on top. Let me pleasure you. I'll be gentle." A gleam appeared in her eyes. "Unless you don't want me to be gentle," she added in a soft growl.

 

Still, he resisted her, although his body begged him not to. "Jess, I'm afraid."

 

"Afraid of what?" Jess pushed him down to sit on the bed.

 

"Afraid that you won't be, um, sexually responsive to me."

 

She looked into his wide eyes as she straddled his thighs. "Alex," she said as she guided one hand to her breast. "What do you think I'm doing right now?" She bent down to nuzzle his neck, giving it soothing swipes with her tongue.

 

Krycek groaned and gave up on holding back. She was too sexy to resist. "Jess?"

 

She pulled back to stare puzzledly at him. "Yes, Alex?"

 

He smiled at her. "Make me howl."

 

Jess smiled back. "Just remember, you asked for it."

 

Krycek gulped as he was pushed back flat on the bed. Jess was kissing his face wildly, fastening onto whatever feature was closest to her lips. He nipped back, managing to catch her upper lip between his teeth. He sucked hard as both hands found her breasts and squeezed.

 

Jess pulled back when he released her. "Hey! You're supposed to be the submissive one here." She grabbed a foil package and opened it, growling under her breath.

 

"So make me."

 

<Now that's the Alex I know.> She unrolled the condom onto his generous erection. "Do you know how a dominant wolf enforces rank over the subordinate members of its pack?" She gently took his balls in her left hand and squeezed.

 

"Nooooo." It was more of a moan than an answer. He smiled and brought her right hand to his lips. A pink tongue darted out to caress her palm.

 

Jess was positioning herself above his groin. "The alpha male, excuse the expression, treats a subordinate male wolf like a female by symbolically mating. Only in our case, I'm not a male and it ain't symbolic." Her hips lunged downward.

 

"Rrrrroooowaaal!" Krycek found himself buried in her hot flesh.

 

Jess giggled. "That sounded more like an angry, wet cat than a wolf howl." She raised back up.

 

Jess's passage caressed Krycek's cock again. He threw his head back. "Aroooo!"

 

Jess raised up. She shook her head again, laughing. "No, that's not quite right either. Sounds like an asmathic coyote." She sank down on him yet again.

 

"So help me. What am I supposed to sound like?"

 

"Like a man who can't hold himself back any longer." Jess started moving her hips faster.

 

Krycek was lunging upwards to meet her thrusts. His hands went to her waist, holding himself more firmly to her. "Oh! Oh! Oh! Ohhhhhhhhwwwwwwoooooo!"

 

"Now *that's* a wolf howl." Jess tossed her head back and joined his seranade as he shot into her. Her head lolled forward and she fell forward onto him. "And you... were... afraid I... wouldn't be... sexually responsive... to you... anymore," Jess panted. She rolled off of Krycek with a sigh of contentment and removed the used condom from him, sated for the moment.

 

He was also panting, trying to catch his breath. "God, Jess, I may never be able to have sex again after what you just did."

 

Jess gave a mock shiver. "Don't say that." She nestled down beside him, wrapped her arms around him, and pillowed her head on his chest. She was drifting off to sleep when she heard him speak.

 

"Mulder talked to me while you and Scully were saying 'good night' to Lindy." He shifted uncomfortably beneath her. "He suggested that I get a therapist."

 

"What do you think?"

 

"That he should keep his sizable nose out of our business."

 

She chuckled slightly. "Little late for that, don't you think?" Jess eased up on one elbow. "Face it, events have bound all our lives together, for better or for worse."

 

Krycek sighed. "But I don't have to like it."

 

"Alex, we can get through this together. But running from the past isn't going to help. Would it help if I said I'm willing to go with you?"

 

He shrugged noncommittally. "Let me think about it."

 

* * * * * * *

 

The next morning, Krycek watched from the kitchenette of the condo. Lindy was beating Jess soundly at a video game. Lindy was recovering from her experience, slowly but surely. She wanted to start talking to someone about what she went through, mostly because she had been in therapy before and remembered how much better she felt afterwards. Mulder had offered to put them in contact with a therapist who would be more open minded to their situation than the run-of-the-mill psychologist. <That girl's got more guts than I do.>

 

He went back upstairs, not ready to face them quite yet. He still walked gingerly, trying to not jar his battered body any more than necessary. He had finally come to a decision, but wasn't certain he could follow through. <Story of my life.> He had also thought that about standing up to Cancerman, about telling Mulder about Scully's abduction, and his role in it. He had, at the time, regretted the fact that their partnership was a sham. And then he had chickened out and set events in motion that were still haunting him today.

 

<But that was before I met Jess and Lindy.> Having people around that truly cared for him, despite everything, was something he wasn't used to yet.

 

<You know what you need to do. So do it.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess groaned as she lost another game. "Okay, Lindy, you beat me, big time." She passed the control back to her. "I give up." She got up from the floor and went to the kitchenette.

 

She had just finished pouring herself a soda when a note pad thumped down on the counter beside her. "Who's Dr. K. Anderson?"

 

"According to Mulder, the best damn regression hypnotherapist there is. And has an associate who would be open minded to Lindy's experiences. Feel like staying in the D.C. area for longer than we planned?"

 

Jess smiled and hugged him. "Are you sure? It's gonna be dangerous in D.C. We can find someone in California, for both you and Lindy."

 

Krycek returned the hug. "No, I need to face this head on, and out here it would be too easy to hide. Besides," he said, looking at Lindy, "it's gonna be dangerous wherever we are."

 

"True. Shall we tell Lindy?"

 

"Tell me what?"

 

Jess and Krycek looked down to find Lindy standing beside them. Jess hefted her up and rested her against her hip. "We're thinking about moving out here for a while. How do you feel about it?"

 

"Can we get Chloe?"

 

"Yeah," Krycek said, "We can send for your cat." <Amazing what a kid's priorities are.>

 

Lindy leant her head contentedly against Jess. "Okay," she whispered.

 

Krycek pulled both of them in a little closer. He leant his cheek against Jess's hair and sighed. "This is going to be rough."

 

Jess tightened her grip on them. "We've gotten through worse. We'll get through this."

 

* * * * * * *

 

"Jess," Lindy started hesitantly, "I wanna be a werewolf again."

 

Jess looked up from the book she was reading. "Lindy, did you just say what I think you said?"

 

"Yeah," the little girl said. "I miss being able to mindspeak to you."

 

"Is that enough of a reason?" Jess said gently. "If I Change you and you change your mind, I can't promise that you'll be human again."

 

"She's right Lindy," Krycek said from the doorway. He had been quietly listening to the conversation.

 

"Alex, Jess, I wanna be a werewolf. I don't know about being human. I don't wanna know about being human."

 

Jess and Krycek looked at each other. "You said it was her choice," Krycek said softly.

 

Jess looked back at Lindy softly. "You know I've never done this. I don't know that it will work."

 

Lindy got up and climbed into Jess's lap. "I don't care. I wanna try."

 

"Okay," Jess whispered softly, putting her arms around the little girl. She signaled Krycek over with her head. "Alex, Lindy, do I just bite?"

 

Both of them nodded. Lindy offered Jess her wrist. Jess took it and lifted it to her lips. She Changed slightly, allowing her wolf's muzzle to extend slightly and the teeth to grow sharper. She looked at Lindy for one last confirmation.

 

The little girl nodded. Jess bared her teeth and sank them into Lindy's wrist. Lindy gave a small yelp, but didn't try to pull away. She leant her head against Jess's chest to listen to her heartbeat. For her part, Jess didn't chew or gnaw, just held on.

 

She felt Krycek put a hand on her shoulder. "That should be long enough," he whispered.

 

Jess released. She hadn't bitten deep, just hard enough to break the skin and allow her saliva to enter Lindy's blood stream. She could taste the salty blood. She shifted back to full human. "Could you get me some water?" As Krycek went to get it, Jess turned her attention to Lindy again. "Did it work, sweetheart?"

 

"Dunno." Lindy was trying to gauge the sensations running through her body.

 

Krycek returned carrying a glass of water, a large bowl, and a washcloth. He handed the water and cloth to Jess. He echoed Jess's question, "Did it work?"

 

She rinsed, spit into the bowl, and scrubbed at her teeth to clean them. And shrugged her shoulders. "Can't tell." She sighed. "The full moon will be in about three weeks. We'll know then."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder knocked on the door to Jess's and Krycek's condo. It had been three weeks since he and Scully had last heard from them, except the occasional message to let them know that everything was okay, and what Jess had tried with Lindy.

 

He heard Krycek say, "It's open," muffled by the door.

 

Mulder pushed through. No sooner than he the door was shut than a gold form knocked Mulder to the ground. Mulder found himself being the on the receiving end of an enthusiastic greeting from a puppy wolf-dog. "Get her off me," Mulder cried. "She slobbering all over my new suit."

 

A set of black jaws grabbed the loose skin of the puppy's neck. The adult gently but firmly pulled the puppy back off Mulder. The black adult wolf looked hard at the gold puppy. It then got up and trotted off to another room. The gold one followed.

 

"I see it worked for Lindy," Mulder said. "So why aren't you on all fours too?"

 

Krycek sat on a recliner chair and motioned Mulder to take a seat. "Lindy wanted to be a werewolf again. I'm not so sure."

 

"And I'm not pushing for a decision from him." Jess had reappeared wearing her customary jeans and t-shirt. "Lindy wants to say 'good night' to you, Alex. And she's sorry about tackling you, Mulder."

 

Krycek got up with a grunt. "Still sore," he said by way of explanation. "Oh Jess, if Scully arrives, don't tell them. Wait for me." He left the room.

 

"Tell us what?" Mulder said as the doorbell rang.

 

"You heard, I'm sworn to secrecy until Dana gets here." Jess jumped easily to her feet. "Coming." She opened the door for Scully and ushered her to the couch where Mulder was sitting. Krycek had reentered the room and was sitting in the recliner again. Jess perched on one arm next to him.

 

Mulder looked at Jess keenly. "Okay. What is it that you were going to tell us?"

 

Jess and Krycek took each other's hands. "We're engaged," Krycek said simply.

 

Mulder raised his eyebrows. "Engaged?"

 

They both nodded. "I know asking your blessing would be pushing it," Jess said, "but we felt that you should know before we actually got married."

 

Mulder shook his head. "You're right, you are pushing it. But it's your choice."

 

"Are you sure that it's safe enough to do that?" Scully asked.

 

Krycek shrugged his shoulders. "It won't ever be 'safe' for us. But we want this more than anything."

 

"And we're not doing it right away," Jess added. "We're going to wait for things to settle a little."

 

"As long as you know what you're getting into," Mulder muttered. "Listen, it's late. We should go."

 

Jess nodded. <He will accept Alex in my life but nothing more. He's trying for my sake to be happy, but it's not happening. Maybe someday, but not today.> She and Krycek got up to see them out.

 

At the door, they all shook hands. Scully took a long hard look at Jess and Krycek. <They do make a lovely couple,> she thought. Same dark hair and intensely, although differently, colored eyes made them seem like they were halves of the whole.

 

Mulder looked like he was trying to say something, but couldn't find the words. "Krycek, I won't forget, and I can't speak for Scully, but I won't hold your past against you."

 

"Krycek," Scully said, "I won't hold your past against you either. Consider it a wedding present."

 

"Wouldn't ask for any other," Krycek said softly. He put an arm around Jess.

 

Mulder and Scully nodded and then turned to walk away. Scully took one look back at the pair standing in the doorway, watching them leave. There was something in Jess's and the Krycek's peaceful expressions that made her think of a pair of wolves who found each other after a long loneliness, life mates now and forever.

 

Finis