Disclaimer - Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Alex Krycek, Tom Colton, Walter Skinner, Cancerman, Agent Pendrell, and any other XF regulars/semi-regulars/guest villains I mention in passing are property of 1013 Productions. No copyright infringement intended. Jess Leahs, Lindy Leahs, Cassandra Oldham, and Jake (no, I didn't know that Jake was the name of DD's character in Red Shoe Diaries when I created him) Farnsworth are copyrighted to me.

 

Synopsis - A ghost from Mulder's and Jessica Leahs's past returns to exact terrible vengeance. A ghost from Krycek's past prods him into action concerning Jess. And a literal ghost from Jess's past returns to protect her. Read Loup Garou I - The Kindred, Loup Garou IV- Life Mates before this. I also recommend reading Loup Garou II - The Becoming, but it isn't absolutely necessary to understand this story. All stories are available at the Gossamer archive (http://gossamer.simplenet.com) or directly from me by e-mail or my homepage (http://home.earthlink.net/~wolfcatxf).

 

NC17 for consentual graphic sex.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Loup Garou - Ghosts

 

by Shael (wolfcatxf@imadethis.org)

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

 

"I've got some demons, but who doesn't? Maybe, with some help from a compassionate therapist and an understanding lover, I can overcome them." - Krycek, 'Promises, Promises,' Nicole B.

 

* * * * * * *

 

The brown haired man sat in the bar, nursing his beer. Old memories had driven him to come back to DC, and they weren't pleasant memories. But he was pleased that his favorite haunt still existed.

 

He had been testing himself for thirteen years. He had survived in the most barren wastelands, both natural and urban. He had learned control. And he had learned to kill without being caught. He felt he was now ready to confront her.

 

His life's love. His life's hate. The woman who made him what he was, in more ways than one.

 

Someone in a trenchcoat sat down on the empty stool beside him. "Jacob Farnsworth." A statement, not a question.

 

"Maybe," Jake said cautiously. His eyes narrowed. "Who want's to know and why?"

 

"I believe we have a common acquaintance," was the cool reply. Two pictures were tossed on the polished hardwood surface. One was an old snapshot of Jake and a young woman. The second one was a recent Polaroid of the same brunette and another man.

 

Jake grinned wolfishly. This person knew who he was and why he was here. And any help he could get achieving his goal would be greatly appreciated. "Looks like it. What can I do for you?"

 

* * * * * * *

 

Five Months Later

 

Mulder sat in his apartment, waiting for Scully to arrive. Late at night, they were both off duty for the weekend, but would probably end up discussing their latest case. It appeared to be a serial killer/mutilator with no obvious X-File connection.

 

Until Mulder saw the victims.

 

He had seen the same wound pattern before. But it had been on a living body.

 

<I'll tell Scully what I know,> he thought. <She won't believe me anymore than she believed about Jess, but she will agree about getting Jess involved.>

 

<Of course, that also means getting Krycek involved.> Mulder had finally come to terms that Jess had taken Krycek as her lover. Krycek, out of a sense of shame, had been trying his hardest to make up to Mulder and Scully for all he had done. Although his memory was patchy, he gave Mulder all the information he could. The phone numbers Krycek used to contact Cancerman had, of course, been long disconnected. And all the other plants who had no need to work together were kept secret from each other so they were never exactly sure who worked for whom.

 

The sound of the door opening interrupted his train of thought. He looked up to see Scully letting herself in with the key he gave her. She dropped the gym bag holding her weekend clothes on the floor. "Mulder," she said, crossing the room to him.

 

"Scully," he breathed. He pulled her onto his lap. Mulder pulled her head onto his for a sensuous kiss. <Enough thinking about Jess and Krycek. Enough thinking, period.> For the moment, he just wanted to enjoy being with the woman he loved.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess was making a final round of their home before going to bed. She checked the locks, made sure all the lights were off, the cat and the dog had food, and then went upstairs. She stopped and opened the door to Lindy's room. The young girl was going through a phase where she wanted to sleep with the window open. With the nights getting colder, Jess would usually sneak in after Lindy was asleep and shut it. This time, however, it looked like Krycek had beaten her to it. The window was closed and locked down. Lindy was securely tucked in, clutching a plush dog tightly, her cat curled at the foot of the bed. Jess smiled, shut the door, and went on to her bedroom.

 

Krycek was already dozing in their bed. Jess changed into her sleep shirt and slid into bed beside him. He rolled over and pulled her in close. "Bout time," he murmured.

 

"Sorry, got caught up in my book." She snuggled closer. "Thanks for closing Lindy's window."

 

"Huh?" he said sleepily. "I didn't close her window."

 

"It's shut now," Jess said, chewing on her lower lip. Then her head almost split at the jaws from the size of her yawn. "Lindy did it then, probably. Good night, handsome." She gave him a quick peck on the cheek.

 

He returned the kiss. "Night, beautiful." They were asleep within five minutes.

 

* * * * * * *

 

"So what do you think, Scully?"

 

She lay in bed beside him, she considered Mulder's question. "It sounds like Jess should definitely be involved. Especially if she's familiar with the suspect."

 

"She and Krycek have put down roots nearby. So contacting them is no problem."

 

"I'm kinda jealous of Jess."

 

Mulder looked as Scully sharply. "Jealous? Of Jess?"

 

Scully shrugged. "She and Krycek are in as much danger as we are, if not more. But they get to 'put down roots' as you said. Have a home together and eventually a family. While we have to make do with stolen moments."

 

Mulder touched her hair lightly. "I'm not content with things the way they are. But we can't do anything else right now."

 

"I know," Scully sighed. She leant her forehead against his.

 

A wicked gleam appeared in Mulder's eyes. "I can think of one thing we can do right now that Jess and Krycek can't."

 

Scully was intrigued. "What?"

 

"Have wild, animalistic sex without worrying about waking up our kid."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Darkness, all around him. Pinpoints of light high above him, taunting him, impossibly out of reach though a distant opening. A square of light filtering through the square glass inset in the door. In the background of his prison, a looming hulk of unearthly origin.

 

Alone. All alone. He had been abandoned here, left to die by a man who's purpose he could no longer serve. He didn't even have a gun or a knife or even a plastic bag so he could take the easy way out. He was meant to suffer.

 

The sound of a shoe scuffing against the cement floor caused him to turn in panic. "Who's there?" he croaked, voice rusty from disuse. There was no real reason to make any noise, once he stopped screaming.

 

And when he saw his companions in the darkness, when they stepped one by one into the square of thin light, he did start screaming again.

 

Melissa Scully, demanding to know why he had killed her and why he meant to kill her sister. Bill Mulder, telling him that this was just fate for the decisions he made and the people he had chosen to follow. And an man, now using English, now using Russian, chiding, upbraiding, scolding him, ripping his ego to shreds, asking how he could possibly have a son like him, reminding of his disappointments and failures of both his adult life and his childhood. And behind them, a crowd of one armed people raggedly dressed, their leader carrying a white hot knife, demanding that he become one of them.

 

He begged, pleaded for a second chance, a chance to atone for what he had done, to make amends. But the ghosts were relentless. They closed in on where he cowered by the door, head covered by his arms, sobbing for mercy.

 

He felt the first pair of hands touch him. "Alex, wake up. You're dreaming. Alex, you're safe."

 

Krycek's eyes snapped open to see Jess's concerned face above him. She was in bed beside him, hand resting lightly on his shoulder. He gulped a few deep breaths. "Oh god, what a nightmare."

 

Jess laid back down beside him. "Another silo dream? You were yelling in English and Russian."

 

"Yeah, another silo nightmare. It was a doozy this time." Krycek rolled off his back and put his head onto her shoulder. He sighed as he felt her arms encircle him. "Sometimes I think I'll never escape my past."

 

"Alex, no one escapes their past," Jess sighed, stroking his hair. "I think the best anyone can hope for is overcoming it."

 

* * * * * * *

 

"Mulder, Scully, come in," Jess said. She had gotten their call early Sunday night. "How are you two this Monday morning?" She ushered them into the living room. "Alex should be here in a moment. He's walking Lindy to school. Can I get you anything to drink?"

 

Scully smiled and shook her head. "Like our call said, we're here on business."

 

The front door opened and Krycek stepped in, holding the leash of a Husky. "Hello. Sorry I'm late but Boomer made a slight detour. Let me get him some water." He led the dog into the back yard.

 

"Boomer?" Mulder looked at Jess. "*You* have a dog named 'Boomer'?"

 

"'Heinrichen's Dead On Boomerang' by 'Heinrichen's Dead On Shot' out of 'Broyle's Boomerang Blitz,' Boomer for short," Jess explained. "He's Alex's - I'm sticking with cats. And I thought you wanted to talk business."

 

Scully nodded. "There is a serial murderer on the loose. Mulder and I feel you should be involved." She set a sheaf of papers on the coffee table as Krycek came back and sat beside Jess.

 

"This person seems to be targeting a specific type," Mulder said, "female, brunette, around five-foot-four, late twenties to mid thirties."

 

"You just described me. Wanna use me as bait?" Jess picked up the stack. She started looking through the papers.

 

"Not exactly," was Mulder's cryptic comment.

 

"Nice," she said with a wrinkled nose, grimacing at the gory crime scene photos. She stood up and moved over by the window to get a closer look in better lighting.

 

"The last picture, taken by an ATM security camera, is of the suspect," Scully said.

 

Jess kept leafing through the stack. When she got to the last one, she paused and paled. Shut her eyes and opened them to make sure she wasn't seeing things.

 

She wasn't. Even over a decade later, she still recognized him. Jess dropped into a dead faint.

 

Scully and Krycek were by her side at an instant. Jess was already shaking her head, trying to clear it. They helped her back to her feet.

 

"Are you okay?" Krycek asked.

 

Jess wasn't paying any attention to him. "*He's* the suspect? How? He's supposed to be dead. I *killed* him, for God's sake."

 

"What?" Krycek was looking more confused by the moment.

 

Scully shook her head. "You said you bit his throat. You never said you saw him dead. There's a possibility that he survived."

 

Krycek shook Jess's arm. "What are you talking about?"

 

Jess reeled from the implication. "My God! If he *did* survive," she whispered, "I might have Changed him, made him into a werewolf."

 

"My thoughts exactly," Mulder murmured.

 

"Mulder, Jess, if you two don't start explaining right now...," Krycek growled. "Who is the suspect?"

 

Jess shrank inward. "My ex-boyfriend Jake Farnsworth."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully pushed open the door to Assistant Director Walter S. Skinner's office. "You wanted to see us, Sir?" Mulder stood to one side of and slightly behind her.

 

"Yes. Come in. I wanted to speak to you about this special security clearance request," he reached among the papers on his desk, "for a Miss Jessica Leahs." He glanced up. "The same Jessica Leahs that we had dinner with a year ago?"

 

"Yes," Mulder answered. "She's familiar with the suspect. Her knowledge would be invaluable."

 

"I see no reason not to grant your request." Skinner looked at them in an offhand way. "And as long as Miss Leahs is coming, you can tell her it's safe to bring Krycek along."

 

"Sir?" Mulder and Scully looked at each other and then the Assistant Director.

 

"Agent Mulder, Agent Scully, did you really think that her involvement with Krycek could be kept secret? Along with your involvement with each other?"

 

Mulder, for once, was at a loss for words. So Scully did the talking. "How long have you known?"

 

"About Miss Leahs and Krycek, or about you two?" Skinner sounded faintly amused.

 

Mulder found his voice. "Let's start with Jess."

 

"Certain interests brought it to my attention, along with her X-File. After the things those two have been through, I decided to act on it by not acting, if Krycek keeps up the good behavior. But the first sign of Krycek thinking about misbehaving, and he is a dead man. And as for you two," he leaned back, "I didn't make Assistant Director without learning a thing or two about discrete investigating. And what you two do during your off hours is none of my business as long as it doesn't interfere with the performance of your duties."

 

"Yes sir," said two voices at once.

 

* * * * * * *

 

They were all gathered in an FBI conference room. How Mulder and Scully had arranged for clearance for her and amnesty for Krycek, Jess didn't have a clue. And she wasn't sure she wanted to know how.

 

She did have a clue about the hostility swirling around the room. It didn't take her mind powers to sense it. She fidgeted, readjusting the skirt she was wearing. The fact that she was dressed professionally instead of in jeans added to her discomfort.

 

She surveyed the room, making mental notes to herself. Skinner was tolerating Krycek's presence, but watching him like a hawk. It was ovbious that Skinner had wanted to talk to Krycek alone, but Mulder and Scully had ushered them in so quickly it wasn't possible. <Dangerous. Warn Alex to be extra careful about being above board when dealing with him.> Tom Colton, sitting opposite of Scully, was glaring at Mulder, Krycek, and Jess in turn. <Still hasn't forgiven me about that incident in the restaurant,> she thought with a slight chuckle, remembering how she had shamed him in front of his date for standing her up. Another female FBI agent connected to the case was about to be briefed on this investigation along with Jess and Krycek. She stared intently at Krycek, who studiously ignored her. <They obviously know each other. Ask Alex about her.>

 

The door opened. A young agent in a lab coat stepped into the room. "Agent Pendrell, thank you for finally joining us," Skinner said with an edge. Pendrell blushed, mumbled an apology, and sat down next to her. "Now that we are all here," Skinner said in a business like tone, "we can begin. Miss Leahs, Mr. Krycek, you're familiar with everyone here, except Agent Cassandra Oldham."

 

Oldham smiled. "Mr. Krycek and I are *very* familiar."

 

Jess cocked an eyebrow and glanced at Krycek. He responded by tightening on the grip on her hand he was holding under the table.

 

Skinner nodded acknowledgement. "Agent Mulder."

 

Mulder, beside Scully, stood. "What we have a serial murderer," he started. "He has fixated on someone from his past and is symbolically murdering her. It is Agent Scully's and my belief that his psychosis is escalating and he will soon kill again, possibly tonight."

 

"With the full moon tonight," Colton sneered. "We know you think that he's a werewolf, Spooky." He glanced in Jess's and Krycek's general direction. "Why are they here?"

 

Jess and Krycek stirred slightly, but didn't say a word. Mulder chose to ignore Colton's slur for the moment. "Ms. Leahs and Mr. Krycek are here to help."

 

"I see," Colton said. "Krycek I know is a traitor, but let me guess. I'll bet the real reason Leahs is here is because she's psychic, not to mention Spooky's lover."

 

"Agent Colton, that is unnecessary!" Skinner said sharply. "Miss Leahs's relationship with Agent Mulder is not... ."

 

Jess stood up. "Please, Assistant Director, let me answer him," she said sweetly. She looked Colton in the eye. "Yes, I'm Mulder's *ex*-lover, from thirteen years ago. No, I can't see the future anymore than you can. Alex is here because he's *my* lover," Agent Oldham gave her a sharp look, "and he chooses to stay by my side and support me through this." She pulled her blouse loose from her skirt. "And I'm here because I'm the person your murderer has fixated on." She lifted the blouse, exposing the scars on her stomach. Putting her clothes aright, she sat back down, stone faced.

 

Krycek put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. "You didn't have to do that," he whispered into her ear.

 

"Yes I did," was her whispered reply. Her attention shifted to Scully, who was reading the prime suspect's, Jacob Farnsworth, criminal record. It mostly consisted of a couple of speeding and drunk driving citations. But towards the end was where it got interesting. Four trespassing arrests against one Jessica Leahs and one Fox Mulder. A restraining order filed by Jessica Leahs. And a warrant issued for assault and battery on Jessica Leahs.

 

Scully looked at her gently. "Anything else you want to add, Jess?"

 

Jess sighed. "Domestic/psychological abuse, rape, and a death threat just about covers it."

 

"So how does the werewolf angle fit in?" Colton sounded subdued after hearing what Jess had been through.

 

Pendrell spoke. "There was an unusual enzyme found in the victims wounds. That same enzyme has been seen twice before. The first time was around a year ago, in a murder. The second time was about thirteen years ago in the 'Full Moon Murders,' another series of similar crimes."

 

Agent Oldham spoke up. "It could easily be that Farnsworth is under the delusion that he is a werewolf. He could be using a dog to attack and a knife to dismember the victim."

 

Jess steepled her fingers. "Jake was always fascinated by the occult. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, the living undead, that sort of thing. If he has gone around the bend, he would probably do something like that."

 

Skinner decided that it was time to take control of the briefing again. "We have seen the photos of the victims. These crimes match almost exactly the abuse perpetrated by Jacob Farnsworth on Miss Leahs. The question is how to alert Farnsworth to Miss Leah's presence without placing her in undue danger."

 

"That's simple," Jess said. "I have some tickets, front row, to the Capitals/Sharks game tomorrow night."

 

That was the last thing anyone expected her to say. Even Mulder looked at her blankly. "Miss Leahs, I don't understand," Skinner said.

 

"Actually, it's 'Ms.'," Jess politely corrected. "I bought them when I found out the San Jose Sharks were visiting, before all this." She shrugged her shoulders. "Jake was, and probably still is, a die hard hockey fan. Getting me hooked on hockey is the only good thing he ever did for me. And the game will be televised locally. He'll be watching, if not actually there."

 

Mulder caught on fast. "And if you're there, one of the few Sharks fans, in teal, in the front row, you're certain to be on TV at least once."

 

Heads around the table nodded. "And because it's a public event, you should not be in any danger," Colton said.

 

"I wouldn't say that," Jess countered. "That assault and battery occurred at my best friend's funeral. But it's the safest thing I can come up with, without a direct confrontation."

 

"And a confrontation is what we want to avoid at this point," Oldham said. "Between Ms. Leahs and Farnsworth."

 

The next hour was spent discussing strategy, which Jess had little to contribute to, except some insight into a few of Jake's personality quirks. But for the most part, she sat quietly, absorbing everything and searching her memories for anything that might be of use.

 

When Skinner stood up, he broke Jess out of her reverie. The meeting was over. The room was emptying out. She stood and turned to Mulder. "Is there any way I can see all the information that you've collected?" she asked as she followed him and Scully out of the room.

 

Mulder nodded. "That's why I pushed for clearance for you and Krycek. Speaking of him, he's still in the conference room."

 

"I'll get him." As Jess stepped back into the room, she saw Oldham grab Krycek's tie, pull his head down to hers and kiss him passionately. To his credit he was trying to push away, but weakly so he wouldn't strangle himself. "What the *hell* do you think you're doing?" Jess snarled.

 

Oldham broke the kiss and gave her a cat-that-ate-the-canary smile. "Just seeing if old feelings were still there." She cast an approving glance over Krycek's body. "And I see they are." She brushed past Krycek and Jess airily and walked out into the hallway. Jess turned to watch her go, eyes agleam with a feral glare. <No, I'm imagining things. She did not just growl like a wolf.>

 

Krycek swallowed. "I guess I've got some explaining to do," he said weakly.

 

Jess spun towards Krycek. "You better believe it. Start with why the two of you were playing tonsil hockey."

 

Scully, who had heard what Jess said, interrupted. "Jess, Krycek, not here. Let's go down to the basement. You can explain there."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder sat at his desk. He looked from Scully, sitting at hers, to Jess, perched on the edge of the desk beside Scully, to Krycek, leaning back against the cabinets that held the infamous X-Files. "Who is she, Krycek?"

 

Krycek sighed and studied his shoes. "Her name's Cassandra Oldham. We were both at Quantico together." He paused. "She's part of the reason I got involved with the Consortium in the first place."

 

Jess exhaled the breath she was holding, but her tight stance didn't relax one bit.

 

Krycek continued. "We were lovers. I didn't want anything more, but she did. And then one day she said, despite the precautions we took, she was pregnant."

 

Scully took an educated guess. "Only she wasn't."

 

"Yeah," Krycek sighed. "I felt that I had to do the 'right thing' and marry her. I proposed. She accepted. And then I found out she was lying." He shook his head. "I called her on it, and after denying it strenuously, she finally admitted it was to entrap me. So I broke it off."

 

Mulder nodded sympathetically. "Go on,"

 

"I did care deeply for her, and was extremely hurt. And in a vulnerable moment, I first met the Cigarette Smoking Man. And the rest is history." He looked at Jess pointedly. "Just like any feelings I once had for her."

 

Jess relaxed her shoulders. "Why didn't you tell me about this before?" she asked softly.

 

"Because I didn't think that I'd see her again. And it's something I don't like remembering."

 

Half of Jess's mouth curled into a smile. "Is there anything that you actually like remembering?" she snorted.

 

"But Jess, you're not going to like remembering what I need you to." Mulder was serious. "Jess, do you have any idea why he's come back after you, and why now?"

 

Jess frowned. "That has me puzzled. The only thing I can come up with is that it would be thirteen years. His superstition at work."

 

"Thirteen years since you broke up with him?" Scully asked.

 

"No, thirteen years since I Changed him. And why are we assuming I'm the only target?" She looked at everyone in turn. "Jake could try to hurt me through someone else. He could also be going after you, Mulder."

 

"There have only been female victims intentionally killed so far," Mulder stated.

 

"So far," Jess echoed. "But I have a feeling that might change."

 

"Jess, you can't seriously think..."

 

A knock on the door interrupted their debate. Skinner stood there. "I want a word with Krycek, alone."

 

Krycek could feel Jess's worried eyes on him as he stood up. One of his hands lightly brushed hers as he passed by. He followed Skinner into the hallway.

 

Skinner lead him back down towards the elevator. Krycek opened his mouth to say something. All that came out was a grunt when Skinner punched him, just like he did when Mulder dragged Krycek into Skinner's apartment late one night.

 

Krycek found himself pinned to the wall by a strong arm across his collar bones, pressing into his throat. "Listen," Skinner growled, his face mere inches away. "If I even suspect you of pulling a double cross, boy, your ass is mine. Understood?"

 

Krycek swallowed. "Perfectly."

 

Skinner stared at him until Krycek dropped his eyes. He then backed off. "I'll be watching." He turned and then walked away, pausing only to stare down Krycek again when he reached the the door to Mulder and Scully's office, exuding menace.

 

Krycek slumped against the wall, sighing. <That went better than I thought it would.> He had fully expected to be beaten to a pulp by Skinner, payback for when he stole the digital tape from him. He stood there, eyes closed until he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder.

 

"You all right, Alex?" came Jess's voice.

 

He opened his eyes to see Jess standing in front of him. He leaned forward until his forehead touched hers. "Yeah, I'm fine." He looked up to see Mulder, Scully and Skinner standing in the background.

 

Jess turned to look at them. "If you're done with us," she said in the voice of a child asking permission, "I'd like to go home."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek brought Jess back to their condo. The moment they were out of the Hoover Building, she had dropped the smart ass attitude. She was quiet and withdrawn, speaking only when spoken to. She was scared, more so than he had ever seen.

 

He was scared too. Krycek had finally gotten a good look at the photos of the five victims during the briefing. When visiting their home, Mulder had put them away as soon as Jess confirmed what he thought. The four women in them bore a striking resemblance to Jess, same dark hair, dark eyes, and light complexion. The fifth victim, a man, appeared to have stumbled on the murder in progress, and was killed in an offhand way. He had only had his throat slashed and wasn't disfigured like the other women.

 

The same way Jake had disfigured Jess.

 

Jess had never really given him any details about what Jake had done to her. The scars spoke loud enough. The plastic surgeon she had seen told her that the massive damage would be very difficult to correct. She would lose a lot of sensitivity and would still have visible marks. So she had opted not to have reconstruction done. Even if it meant she had to live with the reminder every time she got undressed.

 

She was standing in front of the window, staring at nothing. Krycek silently walked up behind her and put his arms around her. Jess jumped in fright and then relaxed into his embrace.

 

"You okay?" he whispered into her hair. He started rocking her back and forth.

 

"No," she whispered, shivering.

 

He nipped at her earlobe. "Anything I can do?"

 

Jess turned in his arms. She wrapped hers around his neck. "Make love to me, Alex," she whispered into his chest.

 

"Like you have to ask," he snorted, trying to lighten her mood. "Good thing Lindy's at her friend's for the night. Now we get to play sleep over."

 

Normally his joke would have worked. But this time Jess pushed away, head bowed. She turned and took a few steps. She sat on the bed, still facing away from him.

 

Krycek didn't have a clue as to what was wrong with her. He sat down beside her. "What?" he said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "You're always urging me to tell you what I'm feeling, not to hide. Do the same for me. What's wrong? What do you need?"

 

"I need to feel safe," she said haltingly. "I remembered how scared of Jake I used to be. And I'm fighting the urge to become that terrified creature again."

 

"Even as a werewolf, you still fear him?" Krycek asked. As Jess nodded, he thought, <She's always seemed so strong, so in control.> "He can still hurt you that badly?"

 

"Yes." Jess looked at him, tears welling in her eyes. "I'm scared of what will happen. I want to feel safe. And the place I feel safest is in your arms."

 

"Oh Jess," he whispered. He could feel tears stinging his eyes also. "I had no idea. I know he abused you, but I didn't think that the pain still ran so deep. Come here." He pulled her close.

 

Jess felt his hands pulling her shirt off and then pressing her back against the bed. His mouth engulfed hers as he lay down on her. Jess arched under his touch, moaning softly. "I love you," he whispered into her ear. "I'll do everything in my power to make you feel safe, protected, loved." He ran his hands up her arms and across her shoulders to trace lovingly down to her breasts.

 

"Alex, sit up," Jess whispered. He complied, straddling her. Jess undid his tie and slowly unbuttoned his shirt. Her hands gently stroked his chest through the thin cotton undershirt. He sighed as Jess pulled it off of him.

 

He bent back down to take her earlobe into his mouth. Krycek gently nibbled and pulled on it. One hand slid across her stomach to cup her breast. He softly teased the erect nipple, tracing swirls around it. Krycek kissed his way down to her other breast to draw wet circles and suckle.

 

Jess moaned softly and entangled her fingers in his hair. Krycek had decided it was time for some more serious action. "Lift up." He gently removed the rest of her clothes. Her breathing shortened to gasps as he softly stroked her depths. He gently slid two fingers inside of her moistness. "So beautiful, so sexy," he whispered. Fingers still inside her, he leaned forward to kiss her with an eager mouth and tongue.

 

Jess traced his lips with her fingers. He lured them into his steamy interior. He licked each and the palm, drawing circles on the skin. The hand then slid down his torso to grip and tease his length. She squeezed and tickled and stroked him until he was begging to enter her.

 

Krycek backed off the few moments it took to kick off his boxers and put on the condom. He fell forward onto Jess, snaking his body against hers. And with one fluid motion, he impaled her. He let out a deep sigh as he slowly began rocking his hips. "Every time we make love," he whispered, "it feels so new yet so ancient and so right. I've never had a lover who could make me come with just her voice, let alone the feeling of anything as perfect as her body."

 

Jess was making whimpering sounds in time to his thrusts, along with grasping and releasing his shoulders. He sped up a little, encouraged by the soft sounds she was making. But when he opened his eyes to look at her, he saw that tears were falling from her eyes.

 

"Shhhh. Don't cry," he cooed. "Everything's going to be fine. I won't let anything happen. I won't let Jake hurt you ever again." His thrusts became faster, driving in and out of her, making her forget her fears, displacing them with sheer sensual pleasure.

 

Jess's arms tightened convulsively around his body. Sensing she was close, Krycek thrust slowly, but forcefully, rubbing against the most sensitive spot on her body, intending to push her over the edge. Jess squeaked. Her head tilted back, her mouth stretching in a wide smile as she came.

 

The sight of her orgasm triggered his. Jess's mouth covered his as he screamed and felt the darkness overtake him.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jake sat in his hotel room in one of the seedier parts of town. He was savoring the memories of what he did to his latest victims a few hours ago. The male he had taken out almost too easily. The female had put up a struggle, but nothing he couldn't subdue. In fact, he liked it when they struggled against him. It reminded him of when Jess used to be 'feisty', before inevitably giving in.

 

<Jess, baby,> he mentally purred. His contact had been right. She was here in D.C. And if not, she would soon be. He had made sure the murders he committed would come to Fox Mulder's attention. And when he figured out who was behind it, he was certain the FBI man would contact Jess.

 

And then he would contact Jess. And Mulder, the bastard who stole her from him. And this Krycek, her current lover. They would all pay. Especially Jess. But he would eventually, and after suitable punishment, forgive her. Then he would take her back. And she would be more than happy to stay by his side, where she belonged.

 

Unconsciously, he fingered his neck where she had bitten him, tracing the scars. Up until the first full moon after she left him for dead, he thought he would go mad. He tried to convince himself that the big black bitch wolf that had attacked him could not have been Jess. No way. Uh uh. His former lover *couldn't* have been a creature of darkness. It was just the result of a dog attack after five too many shots of tequila. But when the moon peeked over the horizon and he felt his body shifting shape, it all made sense.

 

He smiled. <Baby, you may have done me a favor that night. I knew creatures like us existed, but never dreamed of becoming one. It feels so right.> His powers as a predator perfectly complimented his mind set - survival of the fittest. Destroy all that stands in your way. Take what you want. And as he had told her once, "Listen to me, baby, I want us back together. And you know I *always* get what I want."

 

Even if it took thirteen years.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess lay in Krycek's arms, head pillowed on his chest, trying to fall asleep. She did feel safe and secure. He had seen to that. She was slightly disgusted with Krycek though. After their lovemaking, she was still alert while he had dozed off with a contented smile on his face.

 

Or so she thought. As she shifted slightly, an arm reached up to play with her soft, short hair. One eye lazily opened to look at her as his smile grew broader. "Feeling better?"

 

"Yes," she whispered. She sighed against him. "It was just a bit of a shock, and I needed some comforting."

 

He nuzzled the crown of her head. "If you need any comforting, especially *that* kind, let me know. And," he added impishly, "expect me to need some comforting sometime."

 

Jess laughed. "Any time you want." She leaned and kissed him. She then snuggled back down beside him. "Speaking of comforting, do you want to talk about Cassandra?"

 

"She's part of the past. I can work with her, but nothing more." Krycek kissed her head lightly. "Are you going to Change and go for a run tonight?"

 

"No, not tonight." Jess closed her eyes.

 

"Jess?"

 

"Hmmph?"

 

"Do you ever feel like we're being watched?"

 

"Of course, Alex," Jess said. "I know the Consortium has to have us under observation. I haven't actually spotted them, but I know it's being done."

 

"I know that too. But that's not what I was talking about." Krycek sighed and rolled onto his side to look at her. "Sometimes I just get this feeling...," he trailed off.

 

Jess also rolled onto her side to face him. "What kind of feeling?"

 

"That there's something in the room with me, with us. Watching. Seems stronger when I'm alone or at night."

 

Jess shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe you still have some latent mind reading abilities left over from your stint as a werewolf. You're probably picking up Chloe or Boomer," she yawned.

 

"Yeah, maybe I'm picking them up," Krycek didn't sound convinced.

 

"Listen, next time you sense it and I'm asleep, wake me up and let me know." Jess shifted again. "Ever think about undergoing the Change again? Not that you have to be a werewolf for me to love you."

 

"Yeah, but I think I'm more comfortable as a human. But either way, I'm happiest when I'm with you."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder didn't like being proven right when it came to a prediction of a murder. Their killer had struck again last night, with the full moon. And he didn't like the fact that Jess had also been proven right. This time it was a couple, both slaughtered the same way.

 

He looked over the police report as Scully performed the autopsy. The female victim's appearance was getting closer and closer to Jess's. And the male victim looked like him.

 

And for the first time, Mulder seriously considered the fact that Jess might not be the only target Jake had in mind. Jess wasn't aware of the fact that Jake had also repeatedly threatened him while they were dating. But being a man and an FBI agent had made Jake a little more circumspect in his threats than the brutal ones he had made to Jess.

 

Scully stepped into their basement office. "There's no question. The same person who killed the other victims killed these two." She pulled a chair up to sit in front of him. "Mulder, the male victim looked like you. Jake's after you, too."

 

Mulder nodded. "It's one thing to be threatened by Cancerman. At least you know somewhat how he'll react. But this man is insane. He will try to hurt Jess and me through any means possible."

 

"Like through Krycek or Lindy. Or me," she added after a pause. She lightly rested a hand on the folded hands in Mulder's lap. "Mulder, we've talked about this. Being partners, let alone lovers, means taking on a certain amount of risk. And I wouldn't change a thing."

 

Mulder's mouth quirked into an off center smile. "Nothing?"

 

"Well, maybe two things," Scully conceded. "I would change it so my dog ate the alligator instead of the other way around. I still miss Queeg."

 

Mulder chuckled a little. "And the other?"

 

"I would change it so that we wouldn't have to hide the fact that we love each other from everyone."

 

"Would you settle for calling me 'Fox', Dana?"

 

"Yes, Fox," she said softly. The one time she had called him that, back on the Tooms case, he had responded by pushing her away. Even when they became lovers, Scully hadn't felt that she had permission to use his first name. Even Jess never called him Fox, except when she was angry and wanted to piss him off, and she was as close a friend as he allowed anyone to be. <Maybe it has something to do with the fact that as Samantha was taken away, she was screaming his name,> she thought. "But we can't hide it forever."

 

Mulder nodded. "It's not that I don't want people to know about us," he started slowly. "I'm afraid of how the Consortium may react if they knew." He looked her in the eye. "I don't think I could lose you again."

 

The phone rang, interrupting their quiet moment. Mulder picked it up. It was Jess. "Hey there."

 

"Hey hell beast. What do you want?"

 

"World peace, a million dollars, and a *really* nice stereo for starters," Jess laughed. "Actually, Alex and I are taking Lindy and Boomer to the park. Lindy wanted to know if you wanted to join us."

 

Mulder put his hand over the speaker. "Park with Jess, Krycek, and Lindy?" he asked her.

 

Scully nodded. <Maybe I'll get a chance to have a private word with Jess,> she thought. <She's a good judge of him. She would tell me if I'm pushing too much.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully sat on the bench in the park watching Jess, Krycek and Lindy play with Boomer. The husky was enthusiastically trying to catch the frisbee that they were tossing back and forth.

 

Watching them, for all appearances a happy, normal family, Scully felt a pang. She had been serious when she told Mulder that she was jealous of Jess. She could publicly display affection for the man she loved. They were making plans, despite the danger. Not for the first time, she wished Mulder would act like Krycek as far as marriage went.

 

She smiled when Jess, going long for a catch just out of her reach, tripped and fell onto the grass. Boomer, happy something was finally down at his level, began pawing at her and licking her face. Jess pushed the dog away laughing and happened to catch sight of Scully sitting alone. She scrambled back to her feet, tossed the frisbee to Lindy, and walked towards the bench.

 

"Hurt yourself?" Scully called.

 

"Nah, just want to rest." Jess sat down. "Where's Mulder disappeared to?"

 

"Bathroom hunting." They sat watching Lindy and Krycek and Boomer, who picked up just where Jess had left off. "How are things going?"

 

"Lindy's doing fine. She's doing great in school and has adapted to Alex being around wonderfully. But it's Alex that has me worried. He's still having nightmares. Even worse than I remember Mulder's being."

 

Scully nodded. Ever since she started doing field assignments with Mulder, sleeping in the next motel room over, she had been aware of the tormented dreams that were his almost constant companions during stressful cases. When they had become lovers, the nightmares subsided somewhat. But they never completely disappeared. And if Krycek's were worse than Mulder's, Jess really had her hands full. "Therapy isn't helping?"

 

Jess sighed. "He stopped going. Mulder's 'open minded' therapist wasn't so open minded about me being a werewolf. It discouraged us and so he quit and we haven't found anyone to take his place yet. I just keep trying to help him deal with everything nightmare by nightmare, memory by memory. Makes life interesting."

 

"So are you two just living together for now, or do you have other plans?"

 

"Yes and no. We want to get married, but things are still too risky, especially with how he and Lindy went missing. I want to be certain Lindy is fully comfortable with the idea. And I want to be sure that he's ready." She looked at Scully. "Anything going on like that between you and Mulder?" she asked, trying to get the focus of the conversation off her lover.

 

Scully sighed. "Every time I try to bring up the subject about letting people know, Mulder begs off with a 'not yet, too dangerous.' Although Skinner does know."

 

"Mr. By-the-book Skinner knows?" Jess's eyebrows shot up. "I thought that sleeping with your partner was frowned upon at the FBI."

 

"It is, but he's okay with it unless it effects our job performance. But as far as anyone else knowing...," Scully rolled her eyes.

 

Jess laughed and checked her watch. "It's getting late." She stood up and whistled loudly. Krycek, Lindy and Boomer trotted over. Krycek had knelt and was clipping the leash to Boomer's collar when Mulder came walking up. "Leaving so soon?" he said.

 

"The game's tonight," Jess said as she watched Boomer's leash get almost ripped from his hand as the dog eagerly tried to chase the geese swimming in the pond behind the bench. "Alex, if you're not careful, Boomer's gonna pull you right into the pond."

 

Mulder grinned. He couldn't let this be left unsaid. "Jess, you don't mean that Krycek would have been...," dramatic pause, "...ab-duck-ted?"

 

"No, Mulder" Scully cut in. "She'd probably think that he was a victim of... fowl play."

 

Lindy, Jess and Krycek groaned at their puns. "On that note," Jess said, "I think we oughta be getting home."

 

They all walked the three blocks back to Jess and Krycek's condo. As they walked up the driveway, Lindy and Scully both stopped in their tracks, staring at the upper story. "Jess there's someone up there," Lindy said.

 

Three heads snapped in the direction Lindy and Scully were staring. "I don't see anyone," Jess growled.

 

Scully shook her head. "There was someone there a moment ago, a woman."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess shook her head. Mulder and Scully left after thoroughly searching the condo. Nothing was found out of place. No signs of forced or unforced entry were found. All the doors and windows had been securely locked. "Weird," was her only comment.

 

But Jess had more important things on her mind. They were getting ready for the game. She had found her jersey and was now searching for the tickets. "I could have sworn I left them right here," she muttered as she rummaged through the desk.

 

Lindy wandered into the room, ready to go. "Jess, I've been thinking about the woman I saw. I've seen her before."

 

Jess looked up. "Where, Lindy?"

 

"In my room. Sometimes I wake up at night and she's standing there, smiling at me. She tucks in my blankets too."

 

Jess thought back to the times she had found windows shut or doors locked, and Krycek said he didn't do it. She filed it away to talk about later. Try to push too much out of Lindy when she didn't want to talk and she'd snap shut tighter than a spring loaded bear trap. But she did have to ask something. "Lindy, are you scared of her?"

 

"Nope. She looks like you, but has longer hair and blue eyes. But Chloe and Boomer don't like her. Almost ready to go?"

 

"Uh, yeah. I just gotta find the tickets. Go tell Alex." Jess watched Lindy run downstairs. <Looks like me but with blue eyes. Like Rachel. This is getting too strange.> She sighed and put her hand on top of the desk to steady herself.

 

Her hand landed smack on the tickets that weren't there five minutes before.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jake watched the hockey game from the hotel room. The Capitals and Sharks were tied one to one. A vicious fight over the puck had broken out near the Capital's goal.

 

"No!" Jake slammed the long neck beer he was holding against the bed stand. Shark Number 39 had managed to tip the puck past the goalie into the corner of the net. The camera flashed on the crowd, focusing on the few fans wearing teal.

 

Jake's eyes widened. He found himself staring into Jess's cheering face. Jake then grinned. <She's here.> He clicked off the TV. <Screw the game. I've got more important stuff to do.> It was time to put phase two of the plan in motion.

 

He got up and grabbed the keys and the address his contact had provided. All his contact wanted was for him to search the house for a specific item. Anything else that he wanted to do would be left to Jake's discretion. And he did have some ideas about what he wanted to do.

 

* * * * * * *

 

"Oh my God," Krycek whispered as he surveyed the destruction. He, Lindy, and Jess had just returned from the game, elated by the Sharks three to two victory, which was unusual since it was a road game and a win. That elation quickly turned to fear when they saw the door hanging off its hinges. They called the police, Scully and Mulder from a neighbors and waited for them to arrive before they even entered the house.

 

Now they were picking through the wreckage, trying to figure out what exactly had happened. Jess was trying to keep Lindy calm and help the police take stock of the damaged. Lindy's room, thankfully, was untouched. The rest of the house was a different matter.

 

Krycek was in his and Jess's bedroom, where the worst of the damage had been done. Mirrors and windows had been smashed. The wallpaper had been slashed. The small TV/VCR combo had been thrown across the room, the screen shattered. Books were ripped and strewn about, their shelves torn from the walls. The picture of Jess, Lindy, and Krycek had been knifed to shreds. But the bed that Jess and Krycek shared had borne the brunt of the attacker's fury. It had been slashed deep, destroying the sheets and mattress. Stuffing from the pillows lightly dusted the whole surface, sticking to the grayish white viscous fluid that covered a section.

 

Mulder stepped into the room. "Krycek, they want to check this room for prints now." He looked at the bed. "Do you think that is what I think it is?"

 

"Uh huh. So much for using *that* bed again." He followed Mulder back downstairs where Jess was hanging up the phone, while Lindy clung to her leg. "I just called Michael and Annie. They've agreed to take Lindy."

 

Krycek and Mulder nodded. None of them wanted Lindy to be involved at all. She had been through enough in her short life without this. "We'll arrange for an escort to accompany her back to San Jose," Mulder said.

 

Scully ducked under the police line followed by Skinner and Colton. "Looks like you got his attention, Jess," Scully said, looking at the overturned furniture.

 

"You haven't seen upstairs," Mulder muttered.

 

"Do we have to talk about this now?" Jess said, patting Lindy's head reassuringly as she squirmed even tighter against Jess's leg.

 

Skinner nodded. "We'll arrange for a hotel and guards."

 

"One thing," Colton said. "You said he would see you and react, but he found out where you were too fast."

 

"I don't like it either," Krycek said. "It means that he either got lucky, or," he looked at them all in turn, "he has someone helping him."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jake sat in the hotel bar, waiting for his contact to arrive. He didn't know who the person worked for. He didn't know what the person's name was. And he didn't care. All he knew was that he was being paid well for something he had wanted to do for a long time.

 

His nameless friend in the trenchcoat sat down beside him. An unmarked envelope was placed on the bar beside Jake. "You were thorough?"

 

"Yes," Jake said. He tucked the envelope into his denim jacket "I searched the house. There was nothing remotely resembling the tape you described there. You could have told me she has a little girl." The last words were a snarl.

 

"Does it change your plans?"

 

"Yes. I want my baby back, and I want to punish those who stole her from me. But the child is a complication. I don't want to risk harming a little girl, especially one my baby is so close to." His eyes narrowed. "I may be a werewolf, but I'm not a *monster*."

 

The contact considered that for a moment. "You do not have to be concerned. The child is being sent to her brother."

 

Jake nodded. "What's the next move?"

 

"She and Krycek are being relocated for their 'safety.' If you uphold your end of the bargain, she will be yours."

 

Jake nodded and flipped a few dollars towards the bartender. He got up and left the bar. The informant sat there for a few minutes more and then also left.

 

And the man sitting in the corner left also. <The Cancerman is not going to be happy about this.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder and Scully had helped Jess, Lindy, and Krycek settle into their new quarters. The hotel room that they had been moved to was just like the others he had spent time in over the course of their investigations. It looked like Jess and Krycek would be staying for a while. Lindy would be leaving in the morning for Jess's brother.

 

The door to the adjoining room opened. Colton stood there. "We need to have a word with Ms. Leahs." She said quietly. She, Scully, and Skinner had already been questioning Krycek.

 

Mulder nodded and looked back at Jess. She was sitting on the bed beside a sleeping Lindy. She had finally coaxed Lindy into falling asleep, convincing her that she was safe.

 

For a moment, Mulder wondered what it would be like to have children, his and Scully's. If they would have her hair, his nose, her lips, his eyes, and so on.

 

But now wasn't the time to think about that. He walked over to Jess and tapped her on the shoulder. He gestured with his head silently to the other room.

 

Jess nodded and stood up. After she adjusted Lindy's blankets one last time, she quietly followed Mulder into the other room, closing the door slightly so that sound wouldn't carry. She walked over to Krycek who was sitting on one of the double beds and dropped silently onto it. And at that point, some of the adrenaline she had been running on wore off. She slumped forward, eyes shut. She felt Krycek put his arms around her, supporting her.

 

"Ms. Leahs?" Skinner started.

 

"Please," she murmured. "Whenever I hear 'Ms. Leahs,' I get this mental picture of my mother. Call me Jess, or Jessica if you need to be formal."

 

"All right, Jessica," Skinner amended. "Do you have any idea how Farnsworth found you so fast?"

 

She didn't have a moment to answer him. A high pitched scream echoed through the room. Jess bolted through the door, Krycek close on her heels, everyone else behind him, guns drawn. They stopped short when they saw Jess and Krycek trying to comfort a terrified Lindy.

 

"Shhhh," Jess soothed, rocking the frightened, crying child back and forth. "It's okay," she said softly. "We're here."

 

Krycek laid a hand on Lindy's shoulder, reassuring her that he was here, but not crowding her. "It's all right," he said soothingly.

 

The sobs eventually subsided to an occasional hiccup smothered against Jess's chest. Much to Jess's surprise, Lindy squirmed out of her arms to burrow against Krycek. His arms went around her slowly, knowing how skittish the girl was about men touching her.

 

Jess kept a hand on Lindy's back. "Lindy?" The little girl's head turned slightly to look at Jess out of the corner of her eye. "Can you tell us what scared you?"

 

"I had a dream," she said hesitantly.

 

"Okay," Jess said gently. It was apparent that she had done this many times before. "Can you tell me what it was about? Was it about *him*?"

 

"No." Lindy clutched at Krycek tighter. Mulder and Scully hadn't seen her ever be so clingy, even to Jess. "It was about Alex."

 

Krycek stroked her hair reassuringly. "What about me? You can say."

 

Lindy, looking up at Krycek, spoke hesitantly. "You were fighting a man who had scars on his throat. You shot him three times, but he wouldn't stop." She stopped and shivered. "He killed you," she said in a flat tone.

 

Scully spoke. "Lindy, have you seen the person you dreamed about before?"

 

"No."

 

Mulder stepped back into the other room and returned with a picture. "Lindy, is this the man in your dream?" He held the photo out to her.

 

Lindy's eyes widened. She nodded, burrowing back against Krycek, afraid to speak.

 

Krycek and Jess looked at each other horrified. In Mulder's outstretched hand was a picture of Jake.

 

* * * * * * *

 

"She could have seen an old photograph," Jess growled quietly. She sat down cross legged on the bed. Lindy had refused to let Krycek out of her sight, so he was trying to get the young girl back to sleep.

 

Skinner was still there, waiting for the agents he had requested to arrive. He had sent everyone else home for the evening. And since the divorce between him and Sharon had become final, the A.D. had no good reason to go home to the lonely apartment in Crystal City. So, in a step unusual for an administrator, he had chosen to take the first watch. He also wanted to warn Jess that he knew exactly what she was.

 

Skinner raised his eyebrows. "You keep pictures of him around?"

 

"Hell no! I thought I got rid of them all, but that doesn't mean I didn't miss some in an old album." Jess threw up her hands in exasperation. "Or maybe she saw those crime scene photos, hopefully not the gory ones. I don't know."

 

"But you don't believe like Mulder that the girl is possibly psychic?"

 

Jess shook her head. "Lindy may be a lot of things, but psychic isn't one of them. If anything, she's psycho, just like me."

 

"Just like you," Skinner said, "in more ways than one."

 

Jess's head jerked sharply. She knew what he was talking about. "How did you find out? And do you believe?"

 

"I'm Mulder's, and was Krycek's superior. And there is an X-File concerning you. Let's just say I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for the moment."

 

"Please don't spread it around. I have a hard enough time explaining why I keep 'Rover's Flea Flee' next to my shampoo."

 

Skinner laughed. "Jessica, you are probably the most outrageous woman I've ever met. How did someone so bright and witty..." He stopped speaking before he finished the thought.

 

"...End up with someone like Alex Krycek?" Jess finished. She shrugged, smiling. "I'm still figuring that one out myself. Maybe because I've been lonely so damn long. Maybe because Alex reminds me a lot of both myself and Mulder. Maybe it's because I know both sides of the story, and pity him."

 

"Pity him?" Skinner felt a lot of things towards Krycek, and pity was definitely not one of them.

 

Jess leaned back and sighed. "Yes. He believed he was doing what was right. By the time he found out what he was into, he was too deep to get out. So he continued, until the assassin was almost assassinated. And then there was his family life... ." She trailed off.

 

"But it doesn't excuse anything I did," came a voice from the doorway. Krycek stood there. "I finally got Lindy back to sleep." He crossed the room to sit beside Jess on the bed and slipped one of his hands into hers. "What I did was reprehensible. I'm not proud of my past. I'd give anything to change it."

 

Skinner nodded. "And as long as were talking openly, I want you to know. I've already spoken to Krycek. As long as he behaves, I'm willing to look the other way." He stared Krycek in the eye. "If you don't... ."

 

"I understand." Krycek leaned closer to Jess.

 

Her head turned sharply. "I think I hear Lindy. We'd better get back in there."

 

"Let me handle it, Jess." Krycek got up and went back to the other room. They could hear him talking softly to little girl, and then a faint melody began to rise and fall.

 

<God damn it! That son of a bitch is singing the kid a lullaby.> Skinner shook his head in amazement. "You'd never think that he's a cold blooded murderer looking at him now."

 

Jess smiled with a tender look in her eyes. "He's come a long way. Got a long way to go still, but we're working on it." She got up, yawned, and walked across the room. "I'm calling it a night."

 

"Jessica," Skinner said. "Before you go, I want you to know that I may not agree with what you're doing, but I admire what you've managed to accomplish. And if you ever need anything..."

 

Jess smiled from the adjoining doorway. "Thanks." She disappeared into the other room.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess lay in bed, wide awake. Although she was tired, sleep eluded her no matter how hard she tried to relax. <Not like I don't have any stress.>

 

She rolled over to look at Krycek on the next bed, who was still holding Lindy. The little girl still refused to let him out of her sight. He had fallen asleep sitting up in an awkward position with Lindy sprawled across his lap. She smiled, wondering how he could get any rest in that position.

 

Apparently he couldn't. Green eyes slid open. "Can't sleep?" he whispered.

 

"Nope." Still smiling, she got up and eased into the other full bed beside him. An arm went around his waist.

 

He leant over to kiss her neck lightly, a mere brush of the lips. "Have I mentioned how much I love you lately?"

 

She nuzzled his hair. "About as often as I have."

 

"Then will you tell me what's bothering you, aside from the obvious?"

 

"Lindy's dream scared me. Alex, I want you to go with her."

 

"And leave you alone, Jess? I don't think so."

 

"But it's too dangerous for you."

 

"And it's not for you?" was his whispered reply. "I'm not leaving you to face Jake alone."

 

"But Alex... ."

 

"No buts Jess. You helped me through so many bad spots. Now let me help you."

 

Lindy whimpered in her sleep. Jess reached over and stroked the girls hair. "I'm gonna miss her."

 

"Me too. But it's the right thing to do."

 

* * * * * * *

 

"But I wanna stay here!" Lindy protested. ~I wanna help!~ she mindspoke.

 

Jess knelt down in the airport terminal to the girl's eye level. She was red eyed from sitting up all night. "I want you to stay too. But it's too dangerous."

 

"But you're staying," Lindy pouted.

 

"I have to. If I could, we would all be going together." ~I don't want us to split up anymore than you do.~

 

"But Alex is staying too!" ~And he's not even a werewolf anymore.~

 

"Alex decided to stay with me. I wanted him to go with you." ~I tried to talk him into it. Believe me I *tried*.~

 

Lindy let a little of the fear she felt show. "But what if something happens to you? Or Alex?" ~That dream scared me. I don't want anything to change.~

 

"Lindy," Jess said softly, "we talked about this. If anything happens to me or Alex, Michael and Annie will take care of you. Now, come here." She pulled the child to her in a hug. "I love you, Lindy."

 

"I love you, Jess," Lindy said, hugging her tight.

 

Krycek walked over from the ticket counter. "We've got the ticket's Jess. Boomer and Chloe have been checked in. The flight leaves in fifteen minutes," he added in an undertone.

 

"Lindy, let's get you something to read." They went to the gift shop and found a copy of 'Redwall' for her. By the time they had paid for it, Lindy's flight was boarding.

 

Agent Hawman stepped up to them. The young woman had experience in dealing with young children, and been assigned to escort Lindy to San Jose. "Hi Lindy. Are you ready to go?"

 

Jess gave Lindy a final hug and kiss. "Say hi to Michael and Annie for me. Be good. I love you Lindy."

 

"I love you too." Lindy hugged Jess back. She then took Agent Hawman's offered hand. With a look back at Jess, Lindy boarded the plane.

 

Jess stood at the window and watched until the plane took off westward. Mulder and Scully had stayed in the background, respecting their goodbye. Now they came forward.

 

"You're did the right thing, Jess." Krycek laid his hands on her shoulders.

 

Jess sighed and leaned against him. "Why do I feel like I've abandoned my baby?"

 

"C'mon," Mulder said. "Let's get you two taken care of."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess lay curled by Krycek, asleep for the first time in almost twenty four hours. After seeing Lindy off, it had been back to the Hoover Building to help Mulder and Scully finish off the profile of Jake. Then a quick trip to what was left of their home to salvage some items. And then back to the motel, where they were supposed to be safe.

 

He was pressed against her back, idly running a hand up and down her side, reassuring her while she was unconscious that he was there. When he had woken up two hours ago and tried to move away, she whimpered like a puppy and squirmed until she could feel him. So he lay beside her, curled around her body. His palm continued to stroke her, finally coming to rest just below her navel. He wondered for a split second what it would be like to reach over to stroke his lover's belly and feel his unborn child kick in response.

 

In her sleep, Jess shivered. He kissed the nape of her neck lightly, reassuring her that he was there. <Someday,> he thought with a sigh. <Maybe someday it will be safe enough for us to finally get married, let alone have kids.> Although they had 'reassurances' from the Smoking Man that they would not be split apart by the Consortium, they didn't trust them. So they had decided to wait.

 

<And I'm not waiting because of what Cassandra did to me.> If Jess said she so much as thought she *might* pregnant, he would pack her up then and there and head to Nevada, and not out of a sense of duty. He wanted to marry her. Being with Jess made him happier than he had ever been. She was the first person who unquestioningly loved and supported him since his mother died.

 

A quiet knock on the motel door caused Jess to stir. "Mmmnfh?"

 

"Shhhh, go back to sleep, Jess." Krycek got up as she rolled over and settled deeper into the sheets. <Not expecting anybody,> he thought. He opened the door, hoping whoever it was didn't have news of a new murder. The last person he expected to see was standing there. "What the hell do you want?"

 

"My business is with Ms. Leahs, not you." Cancerman calmly stepped into the room.

 

At the sound of a strange male voice, Jess had leapt upright in the bed. Her eyes narrowed on the calmly smoking figure in the trenchcoat. "Why are you here?" she hissed.

 

Cancerman calmly removed the cigarette from his mouth. "I'm here to remind you of our bargain. I was against this from the beginning. But I am only one of many."

 

"In other words," Krycek growled, "we're supposed to trust you. No questions asked. Assume you're telling the truth."

 

"There is a way that Ms. Leahs can be certain."

 

Jess's eyes widened. "You're suggesting I do a mind probe on you?" She considered it for a moment. <He's desperate, searching for any way to keep his secret safe.> "Yes." She stood up and advanced on the Cigarette Smoking Man.

 

"Jess, it's too dangerous," Krycek said in an undertone.

 

"I know, Alex, but it's the *only* way." She turned all her attention to Cancerman. "Think back to when this was set in motion. You don't have to think of names, just close your eyes and remember."

 

Krycek watched as the Smoking Man closed his eyes. Jess nodded and also closed hers, frowning intently. Suddenly, both stiffened. Jess's breathing went from her normal to being in sync with Cancerman's.

 

They stood that way for about five minutes. Then Jess's eyes snapped open, followed by Cancerman's. She looked around disoriented for a few seconds. Her gaze eventually went back to the tall man. "You're secret won't be revealed over this. You have my word."

 

Cancerman nodded and let himself out. Jess allowed herself to sag against the bed. She reached for a silver star pendant with sharp points, which was sitting on the bed stand. Krycek put a hand on her shoulder. "What did you find out?"

 

"Too much," was her quiet reply. "He's telling the truth. It wasn't his idea and he did all he could to prevent it." She pulled his hand off her shoulder and turned the palm upward. "Alex, I want you to keep this with you." She placed the pendant in his open hand.

 

"Jess, silver does nothing for me," Krycek joked.

 

"Please, you don't have to wear it. Keep it nearby, just in case." She curled his fingers closed over the jewelry. "I want to know you're protected. I don't want anything to happen to you."

 

"If it makes you feel any better, I have this." He pulled a silver chain with an arrowhead pendant from under his shirt. "You keep it." He gently placed the silver chain around her neck. "You need to be protected as much as I do," he whispered, stroking her cheek.

 

Jess leaned forward and kissed him. Her fingers entangled in his soft hair as his tongue slowly slipped into her open mouth. When he pulled back after a few moments, she expected him to ask if she wanted him, or just gently push her back onto the bed and make love to her. She wasn't expecting what Krycek said next. "Jess, let's set a date to get married."

 

Jess blinked. <Where did that come from?> "We will," she whispered, stroking his cheek. "Eventually."

 

"No, after this business with Jake is done, as soon as we can get Lindy, let's go to Las Vegas. I'm tired of waiting," he moaned. "I don't care about the danger, about Cassandra, about the Consortium anymore. Damn them all. All I want is you."

 

Jess took a deep breath. "Yes, Alex. As soon as this is over with, I'll marry you."

 

Instead of kissing her again, he stepped away from her. "I'm gonna do this right," he mumbled. He dug into his coat which was thrown across the chair and pulled out a black velvet ring box. He had been surprised earlier when he put his hand into the jacket to grope for a pen and came across his mother's wedding ring instead. It was the ring he had meant to give to Cassandra, but never had the chance. He thought he had left it at his old apartment that he had been forced to flee and would never see it again. Just another one of those things that had been mysteriously appearing when least expected.

 

But that really didn't matter at this moment. He went down to one knee as he opened the box, offering it to her. "Jessica Leahs," he said, his eyes piercing her very soul, "I love you with all that I am. Will you do me the honor of being my wife?"

 

"Yes, Alex. Oh yes," she whispered as he slipped the small marquis cut diamond onto her left hand. Tears slipped from her eyes. "I love you, Alexander Krycek." She pulled him back up to her head to kiss him passionately.

 

Krycek returned the kiss, his tongue dueling with hers. Jess moaned as he moved from her lips to her ear. A hand slipped from her shoulders to cup her ass, squeezing lightly. Jess tilted her head back, baring her throat to him.

 

Krycek bent his head to nip lightly where her chin ended and her neck began. Her breathing deepened. <I should be calling Mulder and letting him know what just happened. But this is more important.> "Oh God, Alex. Take me, please."

 

<Like I need the encouragement.> With gentle, lazy movements, he relieved her of her shirt and jeans, bra and panties.

 

Jess shivered and put her arms around his waist. "Turn around." Still clasping him, she guided Krycek over to stand in front of the mirror. Watching their reflection, she pulled his shirt off and worried his fly open. Her lips went to where the shoulder joined the neck. As she pushed his jeans down and toyed with the bulge through his boxers, she kissed and sucked and nipped the sensitive spot.

 

Krycek growled low, just the way he knew drove her crazy with desire. His hands went to the back of her head, holding her firmly in place. Jess growled back, sucked harder, yanked the boxers down, and started to massage his erect cock.

 

"Oh God! Jess!" Krycek moaned. Jess was milking him for all she was worth, stroking the long shaft, squeezing his heavy balls. He could feel her hard nipples poking into his back, surrounded by the soft warmth of her breasts.

 

Although it was torture to do so, he pulled her hands away so he could face her. Krycek pushed her back onto the bed, kissing her ravenously. He nipped his way down her torso to her breasts. Jess squealed and clasped his head harder against her. "Ohhh!" He took a tight nipple into his mouth. His teeth grazed the sensitive flesh a little more roughly than he intended. "No!" Jess shivered and shoved his head away, tensing.

 

He moved back up to her head. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I didn't mean to remind you of Jake. I promise *never* to hurt you." He kissed her lips softly.

 

"I know." She started to cry. "It's just... ."

 

"Shhhhhhh," Krycek whispered. He laid a finger across her lips. "I understand." He gently kissed her tears away. He felt her fingers entangle themselves in his hair. Krycek stroked her cheek and moved back to her lips, kissing her tenderly until he felt her relax beneath him.

 

Jess opened her mouth and flicked her tongue across his lips. Krycek opened wide to let Jess probe and explore his mouth. He grasped her tighter and rolled onto his back, taking her with him.

 

Jess kissed him harder and ran her hands over his shoulders and chest. She pushed up from him, muttering something.

 

Krycek was staring at her breasts, hanging a few inches from his lips. "Sorry, Jess, I was concentrating on something else." He reached a hand to gently cup them.

 

Jess sighed at his touch. "Um, Alex, I think I gave you a hickey." She sounded mortified.

 

Something in her apologetic tone made him giggle. "Talk about marking your territory. Where?"

 

She touched the tender skin where his neck met shoulder. "Here." A finger lightly traced from the base of his neck to circle his nipples.

 

"Damn. I wanted to be able to show it off without being obvious." The hands still cupping her breasts squeezed. "So where do I get to mark you?"

 

She drew her left hand down his chest to his navel. "You already have."

 

Krycek pulled Jess back against his body. His lips covered hers as he rolled her onto her back. Again he started working his lips down to her breasts, kissing her gently. When he reached her nipple, he tongued and kissed it with exaggerated care.

 

Jess sighed softly. Her hands stroked his hair. Krycek looked back up at her flushed face. Jess pulled him back up to her face to kiss and nuzzle him.

 

Krycek pulled away with a groan. He got off the bed and stumbled across the room to rummage through their suitcase. He finally found the foil packets he was looking for and bounded back to the bed.

 

Jess sat up. "Let me do it, Alex." She opened the packet and rolled the condom onto him. She then laid back down and spread her legs wide.

 

Krycek didn't need to be encouraged. He was inside of her, thrusting for all he was worth. Jess's hands were on his ass, urging him even faster. He started rotating his hips with each thrust, making her moan.

 

"Alex!" Jess cried. He could feel her inner contractions begin to squeeze him. Krycek gave up on holding back and shot into her. He collapsed with the weight of his pleasure.

 

Jess gently began stroking his shoulders. Krycek kissed her lips lightly, and then sat up. After disposing of the condom, he lay down beside her, pulling her body close. "I'd be perfectly content to spend the rest of my life like this, Jess."

 

She smiled in return. "You've made me the happiest I've ever been, Alex." She stroked his cheek with the back of her fingers.

 

They lay content in each other's arms for a few moments. Krycek kissed Jess lazily. "I think I'm going to take a shower."

 

Jess inhaled deeply. "That would be a good idea. You smell like motor oil."

 

"Yeah? Well you smell like flea dip."

 

"Oh really? You can't pass by a Jiffy Lube without breaking into a cold sweat."

 

Krycek got out of the bed. "I'll remember that the next time I have to bail you out of the pound." He ducked the pillow flying in his direction. "Still love me?"

 

"Always will." Jess stretched and yawned. "Go take your shower. I'm gonna let Mulder and Dana know about our visitor." She reached for the phone as he stepped into the bathroom.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder and Scully looked up to see Jess standing in the doorway. "You wanted to see me?"

 

"Yes, Jess," Scully said. "Where's Krycek?"

 

"Shower," was Jess's reply. "And he was more observing, not actually interacting."

 

Mulder looked at her. "Aside from Krycek, why would Cancerman be so interested in you?"

 

Jess swallowed. "There's something I may know," she began hesitantly, "but I don't have any proof. I don't want to say anything until I'm certain one way or another."

 

"Jess, are you sure that keeping quiet is safe?" Scully quietly asked.

 

Jess laughed and gestured with her hands. "Is anything connected to that man safe?" The light reflected off the small diamond ring.

 

Mulder caught her left hand. "Is this what I think it is?"

 

"Yeah," she said, smiling. "It is."

 

He looked into her eyes. "You sure about it?"

 

Jess nodded.

 

"I hope you know what you're getting into. Excuse me." Mulder left the room.

 

Jess turned to Scully. "Do you want to tell me that I'm making a mistake too?" she said with a half grin.

 

Scully smiled. "Won't waste my breath. Jess," she said, switching subjects, "did you tell anyone that you were being brought here?"

 

"No. Michael and Annie know I'm in protective custody, but not where. My friends think I'm out of town."

 

"Well, then how did Cancerman know how to find you?"

 

"I don't know. A tail I guess."

 

Scully shook her head. "Not with this many agents around. I want you to be careful. I think we have a spy in the camp."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek stepped out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist. "Sorry I took so long."

 

"Not a problem." It wasn't Jess's voice that answered him.

 

Krycek spun around to see Oldham sitting on the bed. "What are you doing here?!?" <It's a good thing I didn't come out here without the towel and 'surprise' Jess like I thought about.>

 

Oldham smiled sensuously. "Agents Mulder and Scully had a question for Jessica." She stood up and walked towards him. "I thought we could use the time alone to get... reacquainted."

 

"Don't count of it, Agent Oldham." He wished that he had more around him than a skimpy towel. Oldham was giving him *that* look, the one that he couldn't resist when they were dating. And, feeling like a traitor to Jess, he was responding.

 

"Oh, come on, Alex." Oldham stood up and stalked towards him. "We know each other well. Call me Cassandra, just like the good old days," she purred. Krycek was trapped between her and the sink. "And we did have good days." She placed her hands on his shoulders. "Trying to pressure you was the dumbest thing I ever did. I really miss you, Alex. Don't tell me that you don't miss me." The hands moved to his chest. "I know you did."

 

"Once." Krycek pushed her away, breathing hard. "Not anymore. I moved on."

 

"Did you?" Oldham stepped back up against him. "You didn't kiss like it earlier." She batted at his towel. Krycek grabbed at it quickly to keep from being exposed. While his hands were otherwise engaged, she leaned against him and put her arms around his neck. "You certainly don't feel like it now," she whispered, rubbing against his arousal.

 

Krycek managed to duck out from between her and the sink. "Listen, I love Jess. I've asked her to marry me. I'm with her now. I don't want anything to do with you."

 

"Nothing to do with me? Really, Alex?" Her eyebrows arched airily. "That healthy bulge there could have fooled me." A finger traced the edge of the terry cloth across his midriff.

 

<Think of that alien possessing you. Think of the experiments they ran on you. Think of those men hacking off your arm. Think of what Jess would hack off if you cheated on her. Think of *Cancerman* coming on to you. *Anything* to get your body under control.> He could feel his lust abating somewhat at the unappealing images.

 

There was a knock on the door. Oldham looked at Krycek disappointedly. "Looks like we'll have to pick this up later." She sauntered to the door and opened it.

 

Mulder stood there with a surprised look on his face. "Agent Oldham?" he said, looking from her to Krycek. "What are you doing here?"

 

Oldham smiled smugly. "Remembering old times with Alex." She walked past him breezily.

 

Mulder spun to Krycek. "You didn't..." he began dangerously.

 

"No!" was his explosive reply. "I *love* Jess. I wouldn't hurt her like that. And besides, if I had cheated on her, she would castrate me in an eye blink." He walked past Mulder to grab some clothing.

 

Mulder chuckled at that. "She would." And if he had cheated on her, what she left would be his after she was done. But now to talk about why he really was here. "I saw that she's wearing a ring on her left hand."

 

Krycek had stepped into the bathroom and was getting dressed. "Uh huh. I asked her this morning to set a date, just after we had an interesting visit."

 

"Yeah, she told me about it." Mulder shook his head. "But getting married, especially now? You two are playing with fire."

 

Krycek came back into the main room. "Don't you think I know that? Look, I know I don't have the greatest record when it comes to telling the truth, and, frankly, I don't blame you for not believing me. But I *do* regret a lot of the things I've done. But I don't want to look back when I'm dying and have not marrying the woman I love be one of them."

 

"That's the way I feel about Scully."

 

"So why don't you do something about it?"

 

"Too dangerous."

 

Krycek barked a laugh. "Mulder, look who you're talking to! You're life's a cakewalk right now compared to what I'm facing."

 

"It's too dangerous," Mulder repeated. "If the Consortium found out..."

 

"Mulder," Krycek interrupted. "What makes you think that the Consortium doesn't already know? You're under surveillance, so they must."

 

Mulder shook his head. "But even leaving the Consortium out of it, there's always the unspoken FBI policy that we're breaking - Thou shalt not sleep with thy partner."

 

"And you don't want to quit working with her on the X-Files." Krycek shook his head. "Sounds like you need to make a decision about what's really important in your life - work or a family."

 

"Family," Mulder mused. "I've been thinking about that more and more lately. I'm scared shitless of the idea of having kids though, the possibility of them being abducted like Samantha was," he swallowed hard. "I don't think I could deal with that."

 

Krycek nodded. "I worry about something happening to Jess and Lindy. I worry about us having kids. I mean, if we did, would they be human or lycanthropes? And what kind of father would I make?"

 

"If the way you handle Lindy is any indication, a damn good one."

 

"Lindy's a sweetheart. And most of the credit goes to Jess. Given that kid's past, it's a miracle that she's accepted me living with them so easily."

 

"Speaking of the past," Mulder said with some hesitation, "how much does Jess know about what happened in Tunguska?"

 

"Everything. And more than you do." Krycek looked down at his feet, unconsciously clenching his left hand.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Skinner sat in his office, contemplating the strange turn of events. He hadn't expected to see Krycek again, alive. And when A Certain Person had informed him through a private email that Krycek was alive and well and living with Mulder's friend, it had been tempting to hunt him down for some personal revenge. And then he realized that was exactly what that Someone wanted him to do. So he sat on the information, biding his time. He may want to punish Krycek, but he wasn't about to react like a puppet having it's strings jerked.

 

Then came another email - a simple affair, just an X-File index number, one of the first ones Mulder personally had compiled after he had transferred. It dealt with the Full Moon Murders, a series of bizarre killings believed to have been committed with someone using a dog as a murder weapon. It also dealt with an unusual wolf shaped ring and an unusual woman.

 

The third and final piece of information came from the hands of the Smoking Man himself. Skinner had seen the tall man come out of his office. Not saying a word, they had stared at each other until Cancerman calmly turned and walked away. And on his desk, Skinner found an envelope containing records of experiments performed on Krycek and observation notes on Krycek, Jess, and Lindy.

 

Also in the envelope was a note, typed and otherwise nondescript. "They are not to be disturbed," was all it said. Any punishment he could mete out would be insignificant compared to the hell of the waiting game that they had to live with.

 

Or maybe he was just getting soft in his old age. It was obvious that Krycek was head over heels for Jess, and Jess returned the feelings equally. They felt for each other as strongly as Mulder and Scully felt for each other. And he couldn't find it in his heart to split up the happy couples, no matter what rules they were breaking. He only wished that things could have turned out that way between him and Sharon. <I knew she was a Star Trek fan, but who would have guessed that she would have run off with John Delance?>

 

His reverie was broken by a knock on the door. "Come in." Skinner looked from the desk when Jess and Krycek entered. Jess had a strong case of cabin fever, and Krycek had felt claustrophobic ever since the silo incident. So they were allowed, within reason, access to certain parts of the building to assist on the Farnsworth case. A package sat on the desk. "This was left at the front entrance for you, Ms. Leahs," he said, gesturing at the brown paper covered box. "It has been X-rayed. It's some sort of necklace."

 

"Odd," Jess said. "I didn't mail order any jewelry. Anything should have been sent to my home. I didn't tell anyone to send stuff here." She picked up the box and deftly tore off the paper. She pulled out the ornate silver cross from the cardboard.

 

Krycek looked at it intently. "Is that what I think it is?"

 

Jess said nothing, merely nodded. It was the same cross she used to stab Alpha Wolf to death. "Do you have any pictures of who left this for me?"

 

Skinner nodded. "A young woman left a note with it." He passed her the note along with some stills taken by the security cameras. The pictures showed a woman with long brown hair hand the package to the guard, and then walking away. Unfortunately, her face was not visible, shadowed by the upturned hood of her raincoat.

 

"Don't recognize her," Jess said, turning her attention to the note. As she read it, her eyes widened. "Oh my God! This can't be. I've been spending too much time around Spooky."

 

"What are you talking about?" Skinner asked. "I'm assuming R. J. Leahs is a relative of yours."

 

Jess stood up. "Yeah, Rachel Judith Leahs's my sister. Excuse me, I need some air." She left the room.

 

Skinner looked at Krycek questioningly. "Rachel was her sister," Krycek said slowly. "She's been dead for almost 20 years."

 

* * * * * * *

 

"Jess, maybe we should talk to Mulder about what's going on," he heard Krycek say as Mulder and Scully entered the basement office.

 

Mulder cocked his head at Jess. "Tell me what?"

 

"About some weird stuff that's been happening at home," was Jess's reply. She was staring at the far wall. "Stuff that comes right out of one of your X-Files."

 

"Jess, *you* are right out of an X-File. What could be weirder than that?"

 

Krycek looked at Mulder. "How about a haunted house? Or more accurately, a haunted condo?"

 

Scully's eyebrows shot up. "You think your place is haunted?"

 

Jess nodded. "Mulder, things have been disappearing and then reappearing a few minutes later. Keys, pens, papers, small things like that. At first I thought it was absentmindedness. Now I'm not so sure."

 

"Chloe and Boomer will avoid areas, bark or hiss at them. We've found doors and windows locked that neither of us did," Krycek continued. "And I've felt something."

 

Mulder frowned at him. "I thought that you lost those psychic abilities when you became human again."

 

"I did. But this is different. You just know that some*thing* is near you, but you can't see it. Lindy's been actually seeing things."

 

Mulder nodded. "The strange woman she and Scully saw that afternoon."

 

Jess also nodded. "And then this was left for me, care of your boss." She lifted Rachel's cross from its box. "I haven't seen it since when I killed Alpha Wolf. They took the corpse away before I could retrieve it."

 

Mulder recognized it easily. "Who gave it back to you? Cancerman?"

 

"No," Jess said. "The note was signed with my sister's initials."

 

A knock on the door interrupted their conversation. Pendrell stood there. "I have the results of the fingerprint test on the note. There were none."

 

Jess slammed a fist into her palm in frustration. "Figures," she muttered.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek lay on his back in the bed, arms behind his head. Jess lay curled on her side, with her back towards him, sound asleep. <Just when I think that I have a shot at a normal life.> He exhaled softly as he thought about all that had happened in the last week.

 

"Hard time sleeping?" came Scully's quiet voice from the next bed over. Since Cancerman's unannounced visit, someone spent the night with them inside the new room as a guard. She had drawn the duty tonight.

 

Krycek sat up. "Am I disturbing you?"

 

"No. Just thinking." Scully sat up as she heard Jess snort, mutter something unintelligible, and roll over. An arm went possessively around Krycek's waist. Her eyes never opened. Scully smiled at that. "How does she manage to sleep? You'd think she'd be wide awake, afraid of nightmares."

 

Krycek nodded. "Wait until two in the morning. She usually has them about then," he whispered.

 

"Speaking of nightmares," Scully said cautiously, "Jess mentioned that you have had some bad nightmares. And that you stopped counseling."

 

Krycek shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah. The doc had no problem dealing with the alien related experiences, but when I explained about Jess, he refused to accept what I said about her."

 

"Jess can be a bit much to swallow," Scully chuckled. "And for what it's worth, Mulder is trained in hypnosis if you feel ready to try again."

 

Krycek nodded. "At this point, I'm not sure, Scully. Not right now, at least."

 

Jess's eyes snapped open as there was a knock on the door. "Not again," she muttered, pushing up and shaking her head.

 

Scully got up and drew her gun. She edged to the door. "Who is it?"

 

"Agent Scully, open up," came Skinner's voice. Scully threw the door open. "Have you seen Agent Mulder?"

 

"No, he's at his apartment, sir."

 

Serious brown eyes looked at her worriedly. "We've just gotten word that there has been a break in at his apartment. He's not there."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully, Krycek, and Jess entered the apartment with some trepidation. There were signs of a violent struggle, furniture overturned, papers and books scattered. Giant slash marks gouged the walls.

 

Krycek put on a pair of latex gloves and examined the marks. He let out a low whistle as he drew his fingers through the gouges. He turned back to Scully to say something. But Scully was staring sightlessly at the couch, spattered with bloodstains, probably Mulder's. Jess stood beside her, a hand on her shoulder, staring with narrowed eyes and compressed lips.

 

Krycek put his hand on Scully's other shoulder, trying to comfort her. "We're going to find him, alive."

 

Scully stepped away from him. "And what if we don't?"

 

"Then Jake *will* pay dearly," Jess growled.

 

"Agent Scully would you come in here for a moment?" came Skinner's voice from the bedroom.

 

Scully walked dazedly into the room. Jess and Krycek followed. Besides Skinner stood Colton, with a mixed expression on his face. Colton spoke, not taking his eyes from Scully "The room had been ransacked. We found a pile of clothes scattered, some of which I believe is yours, Dana."

 

"So what's so odd about that?" Krycek asked. "When Mulder and I were partners, we kept a spare change of clothes at each other's apartments."

 

"Not this kind of clothing, I hope," was Colton's retort. He pointed at a pair of crotchless panties crumpled on the floor.

 

Scully stared at the clothing, unable to say a word. All she could think about was how ambitious Colton was and how the OPR would love to get their hands on anything they could use to discredit Mulder and her. Skinner looked like he was trying to find a way to get his agent out of the situation, but couldn't think of any way.

 

As Scully opened her mouth to protest, Jess spoke first. "They're not Dana's. They're mine."

 

Krycek turned to her stunned. "Jess, what are you saying?"

 

She looked at the floor, blushing, unable to meet anyone's eyes. "Mulder, um, likes to keep trophies." Watching from under dropped eyelids, it was all she could do to keep from laughing as the smug expression fell off of Colton's face.

 

"With that settled," Skinner said, "let's get this room checked for prints."

 

Skinner, Krycek, and Colton left the room, leaving Scully and Jess alone. "Jess, thanks. That was quick thinking."

 

"No problem, Dana. Do you think he bought it?"

 

Scully looked hurt and angry at how her 'friend' had tried to use her. "Jess, buying is the *only* way Colton gets it."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek stood in the lab next to Jess. <This brings back memories of Quantico,> he thought. They were waiting for the analysis of the fingerprints that they had lifted from Mulder's apartment.

 

Pendrell tapped the screen, pointing to the only print that wasn't Mulder's that they were able to lift. They studied the image intently. "Almost looks like a human fingerprint superimposed on a dog's toe pad," Colton muttered.

 

A cell phone rang. All the agents automatically reached for their pockets, only to realize that it wasn't theirs that was ringing. All eyes turned to the phone laying on the desk.

 

Mulder's phone.

 

Skinner picked it up. "Hello?" He listened for a few seconds and then hung up. "He said he'd only talk to Jessica. Let's get this wired with a tracer."

 

Just after they outfitted the phone, it rang again. Jess looked to Skinner. He nodded. Jess picked up. Her voice was heard both from her and from the speaker on the recorder. "Hello."

 

"Jess, baby, it's good to hear your voice."

 

"Jake," she hissed through clenched teeth. "What do you want?"

 

"You, baby," the bass voice replied. "I want you back. I have Mulder. Meet me and we'll discuss... arrangements."

 

"And how am I supposed to find you?"

 

"You're smart, baby. We belong together now and forever. You'll find a way." There was the abrupt sound of a dial tone.

 

All eyes turned to Pendrell, hunched by the line tracer. "Thirty seconds too short."

 

Jess was muttering something to herself. "Now and forever, now and forever." Her brow knitted. Her head snapped up and her mouth opened to say something, but she seemed to think better of it.

 

Colton looked at Jess. "What's with the 'baby' business."

 

"Jake's personal nickname for Jessica. No originality," Oldham commented. "Not anywhere as unusual as 'hell beast'."

 

Jess nodded distractedly. You could almost see the wheels turning inside her head. "Excuse me a moment." She walked to the door.

 

"Jess, where are you going?" Scully asked.

 

"I need to get a drink of water." Not quite a lie, but not quite the complete truth.

 

Krycek frowned at her retreating back. "Excuse me," he said and followed her out the door. "Jessica," he said warningly.

 

"Yes, Alexander?" She was by the elevator.

 

"The cooler's *that* way," he said, gesturing with his head back down the hallway. "You recognized something. What?"

 

Jess bowed her head. She couldn't lie to the man she loved. "I think I know where Jake might be holding Mulder. But I'm not certain."

 

"Jess, you're not thinking of doing something stupid like going after them alone."

 

Jess's head was still bowed. "Alex, I want you to know this. I love you, now and forever."

 

Before he could ask what the hell she was talking about, Jess had thrown her arms around his neck and was kissing him passionately. He looked confused when she pulled back.

 

And stunned as her fist impacted with his jaw.

 

His head snapped back. He heard was a quiet "Forgive me," and the sound of her retreating steps.

 

Krycek must have blacked out then, because the next thing he was aware of was was Scully's voice. "Krycek! Krycek! What happened?" He felt hands on his shoulders.

 

"Ugh!" He sat up and shook his head. "Jess slugged me. She's figured out something and wants to handle it herself."

 

Skinner hauled Krycek to his feet. "Did she tell you where she was going?"

 

"No, but I have an idea where to start."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek opened the door to the motel room. "Damn! She's not here."

 

"She's been here, though," Colton commented. Her laptop was still running and hooked up to the modem and printer. A stack of freshly printed pages lay beside it.

 

Krycek picked them up. "Jess's journal." He then turned his attention to the computer. He started punching keys, trying to figure out what she had done. "Looks like she printed it and then left."

 

Scully had picked up the papers. She read the first one and frowned. "Krycek, what was she muttering before she left?"

 

"Something about 'now and forever.' It sounded vaguely familiar, but I'm not sure from where."

 

"Well, there's a second hand store called 'Now and Forever Changed.'"

 

Colton pulled out his cell phone. "Pendrell? Colton. Is there a listing for a store in this area called 'Now and Forever Changed?' Yeah, I'll hold."

 

Krycek looked unconvinced. "How would Jake know about it? It happened to Jess long after she and that son of a bitch broke up."

 

"We've had indications that there is a leak in this case," Scully interrupted. "Farnsworth's known too much about our plans."

 

* * * * * * *

 

"Let me go with the strike team," Krycek said evenly.

 

"No," Skinner said. "I've been pushing it for you to be walking around here free, much less placing you back on active duty in a possible hostage situation."

 

"But Jess is..."

 

"Krycek, we don't know," Skinner said sharply.

 

"No, you think I'm the leak. I know you don't trust me. And given my track record, I don't blame you. But damn it! Jess is the best thing that's happened to me. If anything happens to her..."

 

"No, Krycek, we know you're not the leak. You have alibis that check out. Listen, I know you're worried about Jessica. But my hands are tied. In case you have forgotten, you *are* a known felon."

 

"I understand," Krycek looked down, apparently backing off. "I know you're doing what you have to do."

 

At that point, Colton stepped into the office. "Sir, we have an update on the lead. There was a store by the name of 'Now and Forever Changed'. The mall it was in is abandoned and scheduled to be torn down."

 

"The one over by the park?" Krycek asked. He knew it well.

 

Colton nodded. Skinner looked at Krycek sharply. "Take Mr. Krycek back to the hotel, the new room, since the old one has been compromised."

 

Colton looked at Krycek darkly. Apparently he felt that a babysitting assignment was beneath him. "Come on," Colton growled and stepped out of the office.

 

Krycek followed him meekly out of the building to the parking garage. Just as they reached the car, Krycek stopped, took a few steps away, and pointed. "Isn't that Jess over there?"

 

"Where?" Colton turned and looked in the direction Krycek was pointing.

 

Krycek retracted his arm and violently elbowed Colton in the abdomen. Then his forearm snapped up to slam his fist into Colton's nose. Colton went down like a ton of bricks.

 

"Sorry, Colton, but I never really liked you any way," he muttered. He stooped over the unconscious body and removed his gun and holster. He got into the car and sped off.

 

* * * * * * *

 

After giving the FBI the slip, she had spent a few hours in the park where she 'killed' Jake. She was gathering the mental strength she would need to face him one final time. As she knelt to touch the very spot where she had defeated Jake the first time, she felt a quiet courage flow through her that she sorely needed. <I did it before. I can do it again.>

 

<Now and forever.> The phrase echoed through her mind over and over. Jess never had really appreciated the irony of the name of the store where she bought the Loup Garou ring, Now and Forever Changed. Until today.

 

It had only taken Jess seconds to figure out what Jake had meant by the phrase. All that really puzzled her was how to get away from the FBI so she could face off with Jake on her own terms.

 

And now, she was outside the building that had once housed the second hand store. <Jake must be there. It's the only place he could be holding Mulder.> The building had been converted to an office complex, and recently abandoned.

 

She scanned the building for an entrance. In the back of the building, a door was left invitingly ajar. <Probably a trap,> Jess thought, <but I don't see any other way in without effectively screaming 'I'm here.'> She slid through the doorway silently.

 

The room she entered was dark, but she could see light coming from under the doorway of the next room. She started towards it.

 

A shadow detached itself from the wall behind her. It stalked towards her. Jess, oblivious to her pursuer, put a hand on the door knob. She turned it silently and eased the door open a crack to peer through it.

 

Unexpectedly, a hand impacted with the door above her head. It was slammed violently shut. Jess gasped as a breath tickled her ear. "Hello, baby."

 

Jake pushed Jess against the door, face first. She grunted and tried to squirm away. "You're not going anywhere, baby," he growled into her ear and then bit the lobe. He jerked her hands behind her back and handcuffed them as he licked the blood away from her ear.

 

"Finally back where you belong, with me," he whispered. She heard the jingle of metal against metal as Jake put the key onto a key chain. His hands went to the nape of her neck to undo the clasp of the necklace she was wearing. "Don't wear silver, baby. It doesn't look good on you." A hand stroked down her back to knead her ass. "Ooooooh! Still nice and tight. I've missed this."

 

"Get your damn hands the hell off me," Jess snarled.

 

"I don't think so, baby." Another hand slipped across her waist and up to a breast. Working it like a doorknob, he pressed his body against hers so she could feel his growing erection.

 

Jess sagged against him, apparently giving in, but really getting ready to shove backwards hard. Jake took a step away from her, giving her no support. "Uh uh, baby. I know that trick. And I bet Mulder and Krycek have taught you a few more that I'd like."

 

Jess glared out of the corner of her eyes. "You'll never find out, you bastard," she hissed.

 

Jake spun her around and slapped her hard. While she was reeling from the blow, he shoved her off balance. Jess fell to the ground. "We'll see about that, baby." He knelt down, forcing her legs apart. He licked his lips as he unzipped his jeans.

 

Jess was writhing like a fish caught on a hook. "I swear by all I hold dear, Jake, this time I *will* kill you."

 

"C'mon, baby, cooperate," Jake cajoled. "I know you want this." Jess was twisting desperately, trying to position herself to kick or knee him. Her movements made it impossible for Jake to get her jeans off.

 

The too quiet for a human to hear sound of a door closing made Jake and Jess look up. "Wait right here, baby. Looks like it's gonna be business before pleasure." He rezipped his jeans and left Jess laying there.

 

Jess rolled into a sitting position. <These cuffs will be tough to break, but not impossible.> Although extremely strong compared to a human, it would take time and effort to get out of a set of handcuffs by brute strength. As she sat up, her fingers brushed against a cold piece of metal. <Could it be?> The metal rod fit right into the lock of the cuffs.

 

Jess unlocked the cuffs and whipped her wrists in front of her. <It can't be.> She held the key Jake had put on his key chain. <There's no way it could have fallen out of his pocket.> But she had more important things to worry about. She kicked off her shoes and willed the Change. Fur exploded from her body. Four inch talons extended from fingers and toes, shredding her socks. Knees pulled up and folded in on themselves, becoming canine hocks. And teeth knifed through the gums of her extending muzzle. <Watched out Jake. This 'baby' has a temper and is pissed off.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek slipped into the front of the building without being noticed. He drew the gun he 'borrowed' from Colton. He knew that if Skinner or Colton found him before he found Jess or Mulder, he would be shot, and probably killed, on sight. But that didn't matter. All that mattered was that Jess was in there with Jake.

 

He found himself standing in the empty office building. Most of the office furniture and cubicle dividers were gone. The only piece of furniture in the room was a chair.

 

Tied and gagged in that chair was Mulder.

 

And standing over Mulder was Jake. "Krycek, we finally meet," Jake growled.

 

Krycek eyed Mulder, trying to determine how hurt he was. He looked like he had been beaten up badly, and, although unconscious, not seriously hurt... yet. "What do you want with Mulder?"

 

"He's the bait for her and you. He owes me for taking her away." His eyes narrowed and his head tilted. "You *really* think you can keep her from me? Take her away? Steal what's mine?" His voice grew hoarser with each sentence.

 

Krycek neared Jake warily. His eyes narrowed. "I can't steal what was never yours to begin with."

 

Jake snarled in outrage and charged. They wanted him alive, but Krycek had no choice but to defend himself. He pulled the gun from his jacket and fired three times in quick succession. His aim was excellent, and he couldn't miss Jake at this range.

 

The bullets slammed into Jake's shoulders and chest.

 

It didn't even stop him. The wounds seemed to close almost as soon as they opened.

 

Mulder woke up in time to see Jake grab Krycek by the throat and throw him against the nearest wall. He repeatedly punched Krycek in the gut. He suddenly let go, allowing Krycek to stumble forward. As Krycek lost his balance, Jake brought his hands down to grab his neck and head. There was a loud snapping noise and Krycek impacted with the ground. "Does anyone *else* think that they can take me down, like this wimp I just killed?"

 

There was an answering growl from the darkness outside the doorway.

 

Jake laughed. "You remember what I like, baby. But with an audience? I didn't think you were into exhibitionism. Come on, I'm waiting."

 

What came flying out of the darkness was approximately Jess's size. It was wearing the clothes Jess had been wearing, right down to her denim jacket. But there the resemblance ended. The black, furry streak of fangs and claws launched itself at Jake, tackling him just above his waist.

 

And to Mulder's amazement, Jake seemed to be undergoing a bizarre transformation. One moment he looked perfectly human, the next he looked like a brown male version of what Jess had become. His roar of anger was echoed by Jess's snarls of hatred.

 

They were on the ground - clawing and biting, snarling and spitting. Jess and Jake rolled over and over, first Jess on top, then Jake. Blood flowed freely from bite wounds and claw marks. Jaws snapped viciously mere millimeters from the enemy's neck. Hind legs were pumping frantically, trying to disembowel the opponent's belly, getting entangled in the clothing that was now being ripped to shreds.

 

"FBI! Freeze!" Scully burst into the room, gun drawn. It distracted Jess for about a half second, enough time for Jake to curl his legs under Jess and shove hard against her stomach. Jess was kicked back, head snapping back against the wall.

 

Jake took the advantage. He rolled clear of a stunned Jess, Changed, and grabbed Mulder by the throat. "One false move, and he dies."

 

Jess rose to her knees as she also Changed. "Don't hurt him," she whispered weakly. "I'll do what you want."

 

"Jess, don't!" Scully spoke. Mulder, still gagged, shook his head.

 

"Alex is dead. There's no reason for me to go on." Jess bowed her head, defeated. "Jake, if you promise to leave Mulder and Dana alone, I'll go with you, willingly."

 

Victory shone in Jake's eyes. "You'll stay with me."

 

"Yes." She stuck her hands deep into the jacket pockets. She frowned intently for a moment, hand working inside the material.

 

"You'll sleep with me, whenever, however I want."

 

She bowed her head lower, submissively. "Yes." Her voice was quieter, weaker, defeated.

 

"Until death do us part."

 

"Until death do us part," was Jess's hopeless echo. "I'm sorry Mulder, Dana. It's the only way," she whispered, tears falling from her eyes.

 

"Done," Jake snorted. He untied Mulder and shoved him towards Scully. "Now come here, baby, and seal our deal with a kiss."

 

Jess walked towards him with all the quiet dignity of a great queen being sold into slavery. Jake reached towards her and slung an arm around her neck, jerking her in close. He clamped his mouth over hers and forced his tongue between her lips.

 

Jess didn't react visibly. She just stood there. Jake backed off to stare into her narrowed eyes triumphantly. "Jake," she said in a low, angry voice, "don't call me 'baby'."

 

Her right hand whipped out of the pocket almost too fast to track. She struck at him with a stabbing motion, and then stepped back coolly, her face emotionless.

 

Jake screamed the wail of a lost soul going straight to hell. He staggered towards Mulder and Scully and collapsed, rolling onto his back. They could see the slit right over his heart where she had stabbed him with pure silver. The cross on its chain dangled from Jess's hand, coated in Jake's blood. He shuddered convulsively, and then lay still.

 

Jess wasn't even paying attention to him. She had crossed the room and knelt where Krycek lay sprawled. Head bowed, she rocked back and forth, crying to herself.

 

Mulder knelt down beside Jess. He laid a finger along Krycek's carotid artery. "Scully," he said abruptly. "Call an ambulance. He's alive."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess sat by Krycek's hospital bed He could hear her, but he couldn't so much as twitch in response "Alex, dearest," he heard her whisper, "please wake up, if only to say goodbye."

 

<If only I could,> he thought desperately. He had been aware of everything from the moment Jake had taken him down to being put on the ambulance gurney, and the paramedics saying something about a severe spinal injury. Things became hazy after that.

 

The door to the room opened. With his eyes closed, he couldn't see who. Someone, probably Mulder from the sound of the tread, stepped up beside her. "Jess," he whispered softly. "the doctor wants to talk to you."

 

Warm lips brushed Krycek's forehead lightly. "Be right back, m'love." He heard two sets of footsteps retreat and then the door open and shut.

 

"Alex," called a soft voice. But there shouldn't have been a voice to call. Everyone had left the room. It sounded like Jess's, but it wasn't quite right, a little higher than hers. "Open your eyes, Alex."

 

Krycek opened the eyes. He sat up, amazed that he had control over his body again. He grew even more amazed when he looked down and realized that his body hadn't moved a millimeter. "Oh my God, I'm dead," he whispered, shell-shocked.

 

"Not quite," came the soft voice again. He turned around to look at the woman who spoke. She was a little shorter than Jess and looked an awful lot like her. She wore a simple white robe belted at the waist with a blue sash. Her lighter brown hair cascaded to the middle of her spine. Eyes as blue as Jess's were brown regarded him with warmth. "Greetings, beloved of my sister. I wish we could have met in life instead of at the threshold of death."

 

"You're... Rachel?"

 

"Yes," was the calm, soothing reply.

 

Krycek had read enough of the X-Files and popular psychology to recognize a out-of-body/near-death experience when he saw it. "Am I dying?" he said softly.

 

"No." Rachel smiled the same gentle, reassuring smile Jess had. "I'm here to make sure that you do not pass into the beyond. And to tell you that there is nothing to fear from me. I will always be watching over my sister and those closest to her, but I won't interfere, unless she needs more help than is humanly possible. Tell her that I love her."

 

Rachel raised her hands, palms outward. A white light flared from behind her. A silent explosion hit Krycek and flung him back on the bed and into his body. He still wasn't able to move and in a state of shock from what had just happened.

 

The door opened yet again. Two sets of masculine steps moved to the bed. "Why are we here?" an unfamiliar voice asked. "It would be much easier if he were allowed to die."

 

"It is vital part of the experiment that the two of them are kept together, at least for now." Krycek could smell the cigarette smoke on the other man's breath. "And she will be too dangerous without the distraction that he provides."

 

"Very well." A large hand rested lightly on his forehead. He felt a rush of warmth course from it down to his toes. He could feel his bones knitting, swelling reducing, pressure receding.

 

The hand lifted. The two men left the room. He just lay there, not moving, not daring to believe what had just happened, until the door opened again.

 

His eyes fluttered weakly. "Jess?" he croaked.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder watched Jess and the lead doctor talk in hushed tones. From the sad look on Jess's face, he didn't think that the news was good.

 

When Jess turned away, he went to her. "What's the news?"

 

"Not good." She wiped a tear from her eye. "They doubt he'll come out of the coma. And until and if he does, they won't know if there's any brain damage, or how severe it is, but the best possible scenario is he'll be a quadriplegic. And that's the least likely."

 

Mulder put his arms around her. "I'm sorry to hear that, Jess. No matter what I fell towards him, I didn't want to see you hurt."

 

Jess buried herself against him, crying. Mulder held her, letting her work out the emotions of the last week. She eventually pushed away.

 

Mulder wiped a tear from her cheek. "You need a break, Jess. Scully wants to talk to you. She's in the chapel. Go talk to her and I'll keep an eye on Krycek."

 

Jess nodded and turned away to walk down the hall. Mulder shook his head. <Something vital has gone from her.> It was more than simple depression and tiredness. She may have killed Jake, but Jake killed her will to overcome.

 

Jess walked down the hallway to the the chapel where Mulder told her Scully was waiting. She entered the dark room to see Scully sitting in the first pew.

 

Jess sat down beside her. "Been a while since I've been in a chapel."

 

"It's funny," Scully mused. "I was raised in the church, but haven't been in a while. But I always seem to end up in a church whenever I see something that shakes my faith in how things are."

 

"And I take it I've done that shaking, Dana."

 

"I saw you fight Jake. I saw what you became. I'm trying to believe, but I cant." Scully shook her head.

 

"I'm not asking to you believe, Dana. Hell, sometimes *I* don't believe," Jess laughed a little. "Oops! I just swore in the presence of God. I might get struck down for that."

 

Scully chuckled.

 

Jess picked up where she left off. "You don't have to believe what I am for us to stay friends. In fact, I'd rather you didn't believe. It makes a nice reality check when I get caught up in everything. And I need all the friends I can get right now."

 

Scully reached over and squeezed Jess's hand. "I take it the prognosis isn't good."

 

"No." Jess sighed. "It's only a matter of time before he... ." Jess covered her face with her hands. "We talked about it. We knew it was there was always a risk. But I thought... ." She started to sob.

 

Scully put her arms around Jess. She knew what Jess was going through. At any time, she could be going through it with Mulder. Scully just held her, offering silent consolation.

 

Mulder burst into the room. "Jess, Krycek woke up and is asking for you!"

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess sat in the park across from the hospital late at night, waiting for someone. She had a good guess as to who and why, but she wasn't one hundred percent certain.

 

She had spent most of the afternoon and a good part of the evening at Krycek's bedside. The doctors were all amazed at the sudden turn around in his health. They wanted to keep him for observation overnight, but would release him tomorrow. The words heard most often around his room were 'miraculous full recovery'.

 

Her doubts as to who wanted to speak to her faded when the man stepped out of the darkness. The Cigarette Smoking Man sat down on the bench beside her. "Ms. Leahs."

 

"Sir," she said as a greeting, a show of respect. She did respect this man for what he was, for his courage, even if she didn't agree with his beliefs or actions.

 

They sat in silence, Jess staring at the hospital. She counted up floors and over windows to find Krycek's semi-private room while waiting for Cancerman to speak.

 

Cancerman followed her gaze and lit a cigarette. "He will be allowed to live."

 

"Yes," Jess said softly. "Second chances are hard to come by. You know that better than anyone." She turned to stare him in the eye.

 

The Smoking Man met her gaze unflinchingly. "How much do you *really* know?"

 

"Enough to pity you for the choices you were forced to make," was her gentle reply. "Enough to wish you no ill will. Enough to thank you for what you arranged. And enough never to completely trust you for one moment."

 

Cancerman stood up. "Then our understanding remains intact." At Jess's nod, he turned to leave.

 

Jess stood up also. "One thing." Cancerman stopped several paces away from her. "My hat's off to whoever found the look-alike for my sister," she said to his back.

 

The Cigarette Smoking Man looked back over his shoulder. "Ms. Leahs, to what are you referring?"

 

"The person who delivered the cross A.D. Skinner gave to me." Jess paused and frowned. "One of your associates must have... ." She trailed off.

 

Cancerman smiled and shook his head. "My dear, you haven't been spending *enough* time with Spooky Mulder."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Agent Oldham stepped into the Skinner's office. She was greeted by the sight of the OPR, in addition to several people she never expected to see together in the same room, at least not alive. Mulder and Scully stood to one side of the head of the conference table, flanking a seated AD Skinner. Jess and Krycek stood on the other. Colton and Pendrell sat at the table. And casually sitting on the couch in the background, smoking as if he had not a care in the world, was Cancerman. All eyes were on her, faces unreadable. "Agent Oldham," Skinner began.

 

"Assistant Director Skinner," Oldham began cautiously. "May I ask why I have been called here?"

 

"Serious accusations have been leveled against you. This board has convened to hear your response to these charges. Agent Mulder."

 

Mulder began to speak. "While working on the Farnsworth case, it became apparent that someone was leaking information to Farnsworth. We have reason to believe that Agent Oldham is that leak."

 

Oldham smiled. "Preposterous. If anyone should be suspected of leaking information, it should be Mr. Krycek. You have nothing connecting me to any leak."

 

"Yes we do," Scully said. "In the presence of Agents Colton and Pendrell, Assistant Director Skinner, Ms. Leahs, Mr. Krycek, and myself, you made a reference to two of Ms. Leahs's nicknames - 'baby' and 'hell beast'."

 

Oldham's head tilted slightly. "And the significance of that is?"

 

Jess calmly spoke. "'Hell beast' is a nickname, given to me by Agent Mulder. Only he, Agent Scully, Mr. Krycek, and I know about it, but it may have been mentioned elsewhere. 'Baby,' however, is also a personal nickname, one that I hate and never allow anyone to use. Only five people know about it, again Agent Mulder, Mr. Krycek, myself, Agent Oldham, and the person who gave it to me. Neither myself, Agent Mulder, nor Mr. Krycek have ever made reference to either nickname in Agent Oldham's presence. The only way you could have known that is if you were in contact with the person who gave me it."

 

Oldham calmly raised an eyebrow. "And that person is?"

 

"Jacob Farnsworth."

 

Krycek spoke for the first time. "You had to have been giving him information. It's the only explanation."

 

Skinner looked at her gravely. "And what is your response, Agent Oldham?"

 

Her chin jerked up a bit higher. "I refuse to answer on the grounds that I may incriminate myself."

 

Skinner nodded. "In that case, Agent Oldham, you are relieved of duty, pending a criminal investigation. Dismissed."

 

Oldham gave Jess and Krycek one last poisonous glare. She spun on her heels and left the room.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess and Krycek waited at the same park where Jess had met with the Smoking Man. They had received an e-mail, ironically enough, from Mulder's address. However Mulder denied having sent it. All it contained was a time and a place.

 

Jess's head swung around to stare at a lamp post, almost bristling even though she was in a human shape. Into the yellow circle of light stepped the Cigarette Smoking Man.

 

Krycek stood up. "What do you want?"

 

"I have something for you Krycek." Cancerman held out an envelope.

 

Jess and Krycek looked at each other as they stood up. Krycek walked cautiously towards the light and took the envelope. He held the it gingerly. "What is this?"

 

"Just a full pardon," Cancerman said. "Just your freedom."

 

Krycek's eyes narrowed. "And what do I have to do keep it?"

 

"Merely return to work for me. Your errors and discretions will be overlooked." The Smoking Man looked at Jess. "And someone of her abilities could easily be placed, if her loyalties were assured."

 

Krycek glanced back at Jess. "The offer is tempting." He turned and looked Cancerman in the eye. "However, I've lost my taste for playing the espionage game."

 

"Mr. Krycek, you misunderstand me. You are not being offered a choice. You either accept what I offer, or consider yourself, and her, dead."

 

Krycek merely dropped the envelope and turned his back on Cancerman. He walked back towards Jess.

 

"You're a fool, Krycek."

 

Krycek had reached Jess's side. "You're right. I am a fool for listening to you in the first place." He put an arm around her. "Let's go."

 

"Krycek, Leahs, turn your back on me and our deal is off."

 

Jess turned and looked back at him with an evil gleam in her eyes. "Remember, you said that, not me." With their arms still around each other, Jess and Krycek walked into the darkness.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek watched Jess from the doorway to the Lindy's bedroom. Since returning to their home, they had slept there, not wanting to face the memories waiting them in their own. She was sitting on the bed, frowning over a note pad. "I've finished. Almost done?"

 

Jess scribbled something before answering. "Yeah, all it needs is for you to sign it." She looked up and handed him the pad and pen. "I just hope they understand why we're doing this."

 

Krycek sat down beside her and put his left arm around her. "It's not the kind of life I wanted for us, but I don't think we have a choice."

 

Jess leaned her head against his shoulder. "I know. We'll always be hunted. At least this way we might do some good And we'll still be together. I just wish... ."

 

"I know." She didn't say anything as Krycek wrote a few lines down on another sheet of paper. "There, it's done," he said softly, tearing the sheet of paper off the pad.

 

Jess stood up and left the room. She returned carrying two envelopes. She wrote something on them, put the letters inside, and sealed them.

 

Krycek got up and held her close. They both stood there, arms entwined, drawing silent strength from each other. Krycek looked down and saw the fear and uncertainty along with the love he felt towards this woman mirrored in her own. "We'd better go."

 

Jess nodded and reluctantly withdrew her arms. He caught her right hand in his left. They walked through the condo to the front door. Jess placed the letters on the TV, where they could be seen by someone coming through the door. Krycek picked up the two backpacks filled with what they needed to survive. They kissed passionately at the doorway before stepping outside hand in hand to meet the dawn.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder and Scully were at the door to Jess's and Krycek's condo at ten the next morning. Late last night, they had been asked to show up today. All Jess would say was that she had some 'important news' and had made a choice that would 'affect the rest of my life.' But strangely, their knocks went unanswered.

 

Scully tried the door. It was unlocked. "Jess? Krycek?" she called.

 

"Doesn't look like anybody's home," Mulder said worriedly. "What's that?"

 

Scully followed his gaze to see an envelope propped up on the TV, addressed to them. A second envelope was next to it, addressed only to Mulder. "Maybe they got called away and left us a note." She picked the first one up and opened it. "You're not going to believe this," she said after reading the letter.

 

Mulder took it from her offering hand. "Dear Mulder and Dana," he read, noting Jess's handwriting. "By the time you get this, Alex and I will be long gone. The recent events convinced us that we will never be left alone, that there will always someone out there who wishes us harm. We are unwilling to put you and Lindy in jeopardy for our sake. So we are leaving, but we don't know where to. We will stay in touch. Michael and Annie know already. Please help Lindy to understand why. Jess and Alex."

 

He opened the second envelope, which had something aside from paper in it. A metal object fell to the floor and landed by his feet. "Mulder," was scrawled in Krycek's handwriting, "Jess and I won't be able to use this for a while, but I don't want to see it go to waste. Remember what we talked about. Don't be a fool and let her get away from you. Alex."

 

Mulder bent to pick up what had fallen. It was the engagement ring Krycek had given to Jess.

 

Scully saw him retrieve something from the floor. "What is it, Mulder?"

 

Mulder pocketed it without letting her see what it was. "Something I may act on later, Scully. Nothing more."

 

Finis