Disclaimer and various legal gobbledygook I am required to write - I only own Amanda, Lindy, Jess Leahs, Dmitri Krychekov, and various generic background characters. Everyone else is 1013's property.

 

I plagiarized myself again, the first part of second section is from Loup Garou VI - the Loss.

 

The majority of this was written before US Season 4 episode "Demons." Spoilers are for most of Season 4, special emphasis on "Tunguska," "Terma," "Memento Mori," "Sum Zero," "Demons."

 

Synopsis - Jess and Mulder learn some disturbing information about their families, disturbing enough to almost destroy Jess's life.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Loup Garou IX- Family

by Shael (wolfcatxf@imadethis.org)

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

 

"Asking nothing in return. Nobody does anything for nothing, unless they're being paid by someone else."

- A. Krycek "Loup Garou VI - the Loss"

 

"How can I be assured that this won't happen again, that I won't be taken? *Family* is very important to me."

- J. Leahs "Loup Garou IV - Lifemates"

 

* * * * * * *

 

"Has there been any sign of my son?"

 

The young man who served as his aide consulted his notes. "Aside from report from the gulag in Tunguska, and a brief sighting in St. Petersburg, he has not returned to Russia. The most recent ones involve his lover in the area of Washington D.C."

 

"And my granddaughter?"

 

"I have been unable to trace her whereabouts as of yet, sir." He was eager to please his new boss, and admitting to failure was not what he wanted to do. "All we are certain of is that the child left at the hospital that was claimed to be her, in actuality, was not."

 

Eyes every bit as green as his son's stated out the window. When his only child disobeyed his wishes and chose a "career" in the FBI, following in his father's footsteps, he had all but disowned him. He wanted a life free of shadowy entanglements for his boy. Although he was involved in a different section of the Project than his son had been trained for, he had connections and followed his son's life with a mixture of parental pride and anger. And then, when young Alexander had been assigned to work with Fox Mulder, things fell apart. After helping him diffuse a hostage situation, inadvertently having his cover blown, and himself almost blown up, he had disappeared.

 

His son resurfaced occasionally. Fencing documents here, working with a paranoid militia there. And then there was the werewolf experiment. But now he seemed to have found a good woman who loved him for who and what he was and was trying to raise a family, if the Consortium would leave him alone. He and, for an unknown reason, his American counterpart had eloquently argued against Krycek being terminated. He had almost broken down and contacted his son when he heard his pregnant lover had been abducted. And his heart ached when he heard that his son's fiance had been returned, but not his newborn child. But pride and anger had won out and he had held his silence. Through all these troubles, his son never turned to him for help, and he would be damned if he showed the first sign of weakness.

 

"Sir?" The sound of his assistant's voice brought him back to the here and now. It reminded him that his new aide was unused to working in this dark underworld. A seasoned assistant would wait for orders silently. "What do you wish to be done?"

 

Although it meant living with a continuous heartache, he wouldn't demean himself by seeking out his son. "We watch and wait, for the moment."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Mulder and Scully weren't sure why they were called to Skinner's apartment to deliver the results of the parentage test on Amanda. Skinner's attitude towards the pair had shifted from suspicion to protectiveness, although exactly why was a mystery. He let them in without a word.

 

Krycek, Jess and Lindy were out on the balcony. All three were looking at the stars. Lindy's elbows rested on the railing of the balcony, Jess's hands on Lindy's shoulders, Krycek's right hand tracing Jess's spine. "They're here," Skinner called out to them.

 

The three of them turned and came in without a word. Jess and Krycek sat down on the couch, Lindy easing onto Jess's lap.

 

It was time to get the news out into the open. "According to the results of the test there is..." Scully began.

 

"No possible way the child we called Amanda could be our missing daughter," Krycek finished.

 

Scully, Mulder, and Skinner stared dumbfounded that they were already aware of that fact. "How did you know?" Mulder finally asked.

 

"We knew from the moment we saw her," Jess sighed. "She had hazel eyes. Neither Alex nor I have any relatives we know of that have that eye color. That gene just isn't in our families."

 

Krycek also sighed. "When I was at the labs, there were always at least three females in their third trimester. The survival rate past the six months for infants was about thirty percent. There would have been no problem in obtaining a dying baby werewolf to try to fool us. If she had blue, green or brown eyes, we would have fallen for it."

 

"Let me get this straight, Alex," Mulder said slowly, a grudging respect in his voice. "You knew that that child wasn't yours, and you still asked Jess bite you, to make you a werewolf again?" At Krycek's nod, Mulder asked the question they were all wondering about. "Then, why?"

 

Krycek rested a hand on Lindy gently. "She was somebody's daughter."

 

Mulder looked surprised. He expected that kind of selflessness from Jess. But Krycek?

 

Scully also looked surprised. "What are you going to do now?"

 

"We're hoping you'll be able to help us." Jess said. She paused to pull Lindy, half asleep and falling off her lap, tighter against her, almost afraid the young girl would be snatched out of her arms.

 

Krycek gestured to a thick manila folder laying on Skinner's coffee table. "We were able to get a hold of some information, but nothing we can trace. We'd like it if you could see what you can turn up."

 

Mulder reached for the file. Inside were medical reports, lab work results, growth charts, but no names of doctors or establishments. "I'll see what I can do. How did you get a hold of this?"

 

"Don't ask," snarled three voices - Jess's, Krycek's and Skinner's.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Hours later, after Mulder and Scully left, Krycek stood outside on the balcony again. <Is this how Mulder feels,> he wondered? <Does he spend hours staring into the sky, wondering where Samantha is, like I do Amanda?> The last time he had been here, he and Jess were running for their lives. In a moment of blind passion and hormonally expressed love, Jess had conceived his child. And then Jess was taken from him.

 

And returned, without their baby.

 

Three months later, he was offered information about the daughter he had never had a chance to hold. All he had to do was seduce Skinner and videotape the act. It had been a calculated blow, meant to remind him of the torture and rape he had endured at the hands of Alpha Wolf and to drive a wedge between him and Jess.

 

Jess had stumbled across the set up and almost bit both of his heads off. But she listened to his and Skinner's explanation, and understood the desperation that had led Krycek to make his decision. And Skinner felt a touch of pity for the young man who had more than paid for what he had done. No one could have foreseen what happened next, after they had gone through with the act. They had gotten their information and now had passed it on. Krycek only hoped something could be found that would lead them to Amanda.

 

"Alex," he heard. He glanced to his left to see that Skinner, after letting Mulder and Scully out, had joined him on the balcony. "Are you all right?" Skinner asked, leaning against the rail beside him.

 

Krycek smiled tiredly. Who would have thought that his ex-boss would turn out to be their ally, let alone their lover? "I haven't been 'all right' since I met that smoking bastard. Where's Jess?"

 

"Lindy had a nightmare. Jess went upstairs to comfort her." He looked at the young man who was still staring straight ahead. "Does that happen often?"

 

"Yeah," Krycek shrugged. "We're all still having nightmares at least once a week, sir." <Two weeks after I've slept with him and I'm still calling him 'sir',> he mentally laughed.

 

"In light of everything that's happened between us, you can call me Walter. In fact, I'd prefer it. And just thinking about what the two of you have been through gives me nightmares." Skinner lightly kissed the nape of Krycek's neck. "I don't suppose I could convince you and Jess to spend the night. Maybe comfort the two of you if you have nightmares?"

 

Krycek shivered as Skinner's warm breath in his ear made goose bumps ripple across his flesh. "Maybe," he said turning to look at the older man, a glint in his eyes. "But I seem to end up handcuffed every time I'm here. Is that going to happen?"

 

Skinner smiled. "Only if you ask, boy" the AD whispered as he lowered his lips onto the lips of the beautiful young man standing before him.

 

Jess rounded the corner of the stairwell. She watched the two man slowly, sensuously kiss. When she suggested the threesome, she had expected it to be a one time event, not a long term relationship. But that's what it looked like it was going to be. Skinner wanted it. Krycek wanted it. And in a slightly shamed corner of her heart, she knew she would go along with it if that's what her lifemate wanted. Jess believed that she could grow to love Skinner almost as closely as she did Krycek, if only for the fact that he hadn't killed Krycek when he found out that they were together. But still, she had spent several nights laying awake, worrying while Krycek slumbered beside her, blissfully unaware. She turned possible outcomes over in her mind. Most of them didn't worry her. But there was one possible outcome that had her terrified. <Maybe we can make this work,> she thought as she went outside to join them. "I hate it when you two start without me," she mock growled.

 

Skinner laughed and put an arm around her. "How's Lindy?"

 

Jess leaned her temple against Krycek's chest. "Just her standard nightmare."

 

Skinner's eyebrows rose. "Standard nightmare?"

 

"Yeah." Jess closed her eyes. "She has nightmares about her life before she met me, about the creep who molested her. They're stress triggered. She'll be fine."

 

He was aware of the child's history of sexual abuse. Skinner did look a little guilty as he asked a question he had been worrying about. "Does it have anything to do with you three spending tonight here?"

 

Krycek snuggled in a little closer between the two of them. "No, more with what happened with that baby." He sighed. "I wonder who's she was."

 

Jess nodded. "So do I. And I hope someone else would do that for Amanda."

 

Skinner ran his hands up and down their spines. At the mention of their daughter, Jess and Krycek's faces fell. Maybe he could do something to distract them. "It's cold out here. Let's go inside."

 

Jess and Krycek nodded. The three of them still connected, they went back into the light of the apartment. As they passed the threshold, the could hear a quiet cry. "Alex?"

 

"I'll see what Lindy wants. Be back in a moment or two." As Jess and Skinner sat down on the couch, Krycek headed up the stairs. He walked down the hallway and pushed open the door to the bedroom.

 

Lindy sat up on the bed with her arms around her knees, the pensive look on her face half obscured by her long blond hair. She didn't look particularly scared, just thoughtful. <She's a beautiful child,> he thought. <No, she's a beautiful teenager,> he corrected mentally. Lindy, as close as they could figure, was somewhere between the ages of eleven and thirteen. <She's going to start breaking hearts soon, if she hasn't already,> he thought with a bit of parental protection. She may not be his daughter by blood, nor Jess's, but they both felt and acted like it.

 

He sat down on the bed beside her, giving her space if she wanted it. "Is something wrong, Lindy?"

 

"No," the girl sighed. She slid over next to Krycek, her arms still around her knees. She leaned against him for comfort. "Not with me, anyway. Jess is upset, though. She has been for the last few weeks."

 

Lindy was right, and you didn't have to be psychic to sense it. "I know," Krycek sighed. He hadn't been able to get Jess to talk about what had been bothering her. <It's not like there hasn't been any stress in our lives in the last year,> he thought. The pregnancy, the abduction, the birth would have been enough to cause anyone to be upset, to put it mildly.

 

And then there was the aftermath. She hadn't talked about them sleeping with Skinner or Krycek's return to werewolfdom. He was at peace with his decision to become a lycanthrope, as well as having sex with the Assistant Director. He had cautiously tried to broach both subjects many times, but she turned away, saying she wasn't ready to talk yet. It was the first time she had actively shut him out of her emotions.

 

Lindy looked him up and down with serious blue eyes. "I know what's troubling her."

 

Krycek looked at her shocked. "She's talked to you about it?" Lindy had been told in generic terms what had happened. She was willing to accept that Skinner would be around, but was still wary of him. He knew that Lindy and Jess were close, but he couldn't see the adult spelling out in detail her sex life to the child.

 

Lindy shook her head. "No, but I can sense it, read it in her mind. Can't you?"

 

He shook his head. "I can mindspeak like you. I can sense emotions like you. But I can't read thoughts like you. I'm just not strong enough. Do you do that often?"

 

Again Lindy shook her head. "I haven't done it for a long time. I don't like violating privacy like that. It makes me feel really tired afterwards and causes headaches too. But she's been so upset, I had to do *something!*"

 

"It's okay, Lindy. I know that you didn't mean any harm. Jess knows that too." Krycek returned to what Lindy said earlier. "So what's Jess worried about?"

 

Her light blue eyes regarded his green ones solemnly. "She's afraid she's gonna lose you."

 

"Lose me?" Krycek was stunned. "She's afraid that I'm going to leave her for Walter?" At Lindy's sober nod, he got off the bed. "Oh God, no wonder she's been so distant lately. I'd better go talk to her right now."

 

"No, Alex. Don't go downstairs yet," Lindy counseled. "Jess wants to deal with this her own way. She's gonna talk to him. Give them some time alone together."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Downstairs, Skinner eased his arms around Jess. She sighed and leaned her head against his chest. Skinner stroked her hair lightly.

 

Jess's brown eyes gazed frankly up at Skinner's equally brown ones. "What are we to you, Walter?"

 

"Huh?" he asked, not really paying attention to what she said. He had been focusing on how soft her hair was, how warm her body was, how wonderfully female she smelled, and how his arousal was slowly building.

 

Jess pushed back a little so she could look at him more easily. "What are Alex and I to you? Friends? Lovers? Sluts? Cheap dates? A diversion? A substitute for Sharon?" The flippancy in her voice couldn't disguise the fear.

 

He looked at her somewhat surprised. He couldn't tell her his true feelings, not yet at least. "I thought I made it clear what I want us to be. Lovers, if you'll let me be part of what you and Alex have." Skinner reached out and stroked her cheek. "What brought that out?"

 

Jess shut her eyes and sighed. "I guess what it comes down to is I'm afraid."

 

He understood clearly then. "Afraid that you'll lose Alex to me, that he'll stop loving you?"

 

Jess jerked back in surprise. "I didn't think I was that easy to read," she murmured.

 

Skinner smiled tenderly. For someone who had such an in control image, Jess could be easily frightened. "Back on the Farnsworth case, you weren't afraid you'd lose him to Agent Oldham. Why should I be any different?"

 

Jess sighed and looked down at her lap. "Alex told me that any feelings he had for her were long dead. She was another part of his past, like working for Cancerman. But you're part of the present, the here and now." She looked him in the eyes. "Watching you and him together that night was more than erotic, it was powerful. I had never seen him be so open, so vulnerable to anyone but me."

 

"And part of you was a bit jealous, and afraid that he'd choose me over you?" At Jess's nod, Skinner continued to comfort her. "He loves you, Jess. I could never come between the two of you. I may be part of your relationship for a long or short while, but you and he will always be together." Skinner pulled her back tight against his chest. "When I said I wanted the relationship to continue, I knew it was a package deal." He reclined against the couch, cradling her on his body. "And believe me, not only do I like his package, but yours as well." He nuzzled the top of her head. "I really want to make love to you, Jess. But only if you want it."

 

Jess opened her mouth to say something, but kissed him instead. It was a gentle, exploratory kiss for the most part, Jess uncertain how far to go, Skinner not wanting to push her for more than she was willing to give. He gently stroked the back of her head, allowing her to set the pace. Jess seemed to come to some sort of decision and pulled back for a moment to remove his glasses. Then she leaned in close to brush her lips against his cheeks, his nose, his forehead, and then his lips.

 

When her kisses became more insistent, Skinner pulled her tighter against him. He rolled over, lowering Jess to the floor. He gently reached for her breasts as his hips rubbed against hers. The first time they had sex, she had taken control early on. She had pleasured him without concern for the same for herself, a 'thank you' for him having been so gentle and sensitive to Krycek's situation. But now he wanted her to enjoy the sexual act with him, to prove to her that he hadn't slept with her only because he had been turned on by Krycek and it was too soon after Krycek's orgasm for him to respond sexually.

 

He could feel his cock throb as he found her pebbly nipples, tight and hard, through the soft cotton of her tee shirt. She arched underneath his touch. Her intense response to him through several layers of clothing made him wonder how responsive she could be to other stimuli. She had to be open minded when it came to her sexuality, or else he wouldn't be fondling her breasts right now.

 

Jess sat up and lifted her shirt over her head. Skinner also sat up, growling low in desire, and carefully unfastened her bra. He pulled her into his lap, stroking her lower back and ass before fastening his hot mouth onto her pink nipple. With a moan, Jess arched backwards as Skinner reached for her jeans. Urging her to lift up for a moment, he peeled them off her, taking her panties also. He drank in the sight of her naked body in all her glory. And despite some surface flaws that were not her fault, and the fact that she never would have the confidence to admit it, she did have a glorious body with full breasts and buttocks, sensitive hands and lips, and silky skin and hair.

 

Now it was Skinner's turn to moan as Jess unbuttoned his shirt. Jess slid the shirt off him, running her hands up his bare back. Jess leaned forward and kissed his neck and slowly began to work her way down to his chest. Skinner growled softly as Jess tentatively began to lick his nipples. He urged her up again, this time shedding the rest of his clothes. Then, much to Jess's surprise, Skinner silently rolled her onto her stomach. Kneeling between her legs, he massaged Jess's shoulders, rubbing his cock between her asscheeks. She smiled lazily as her lover's hands traced down her body, expecting him to tease her clitoris and vagina. However, she began to panic when she felt him rub around her anus.

 

Skinner felt her tense beneath him, not from surprise or expectation, but fear. He ran his hands up and down her back in an attempt to relax her. "What did I do wrong?"

 

The body beneath him shuddered. "You couldn't have known," Jess whispered, staring straight ahead.

 

Skinner wasn't sure what she was talking about. He moved to one side as Jess rolled over to face him. But when he saw the scars on her abdomen, it made sense. "Did Jake....?"

 

"Rape me anally?" Jess finished for him. "Yes. He'd do that whenever I had my period. He always warned me that if I valued our relationship, and my health, I wouldn't get pregnant. Then he'd turn around and be angry that I would bleed." She curled into a protective ball. "He would say what the thought of vaginal sex at that time of the month disgusted him , but he needed release."

 

Skinner softly placed a hand on her shoulder. "And he would be less than gentle?" he asked.

 

"Jake didn't have a gentle bone in his body," Jess barked with a bitter laugh. She rolled back onto her stomach. "The best I could ever hope for would be the bruises would be under my clothes and that I could walk normally the next day," she said matter of factly. She drew a sobering breath. "I was really screwed up then."

 

Skinner gently ran his hands through her hair, massaging her scalp. "But you got out of there. That's the important thing." His hand moved to slide up and down her spine. Then he kissed the back of her neck. Jess sighed, relaxing under Skinner's touch. He grew bolder and ran his tongue down to the small of her back. Jess gasped and shivered. He laid down on top of her, and whispered into her ear. "If you don't want to try this, all you have to do is roll over or shove me away."

 

"No," she whispered, rubbing her cheek against his. "I trust you. I wouldn't have let you see me Changed if I didn't. I know you don't mean to hurt me. Just go slow."

 

Skinner turned and licked at her ear. "I wouldn't go any other way." He sat up and grabbed his slacks. He watched her visibly relax when he produced a small tube of Astroglide and squirted a generous amount of the gel onto his fingers. Skinner raised his eyebrows. "He did you dry?"

 

Jess shook her head. "He used just enough so I wouldn't be severely torn, like I was the first time, but it still hurt like hell."

 

<'Severely torn like the first time? Still hurt like hell?'> Skinner thought. <That son of a bitch must have barely lubed himself and then just shoved his dick in without stretching her first.> She had been viciously violated, the same as Krycek had been. Skinner only hoped he could overcome the hurtful memories and displace them with more pleasant ones.

 

Making sure the gel was warm, he gently began to trace the cleft of her ass. When she instinctively trembled, he whispered softly in her ear. "If I hurt you, let me know and I'll stop." She nodded and he kissed her hair. "I don't know if Jake ever did this for you, but when you feel pressure against your anus, clench like you were trying to push me out."

 

Jess took an deep breath and nodded again. Skinner kissed the back of her neck reassuringly and knelt again between her legs. With a deliberate gentleness, he spread her legs wide apart and placed a pillow from the couch under her stomach. Again he began to tease her anus, resting his finger against the puckered opening. As he began to press against her, Jess took a deep breath and pushed back like she had been instructed.

 

She gasped in surprise at how easily his finger slid into her. Skinner lazily rubbed with one finger, and then slid a second into her. He smiled when he felt her press back against his hand as he spread his fingers wide. Oiling himself with his other hand, he pulled out of Jess and leaned forward over her back. "Just like a moment ago," he whispered as he pressed the head of his cock against her anus.

 

Jess made a slight squeak as the glans popped inside of her. "Am I hurting you?" Skinner asked, concerned.

 

Jess took a deep breath and closed her eyes, gauging the sensation running through her. There was a delicious pressure, but no pain. When Jess shook her head, Skinner slowly began to thrust, driving himself deeper into her hot body. Soon he was buried to the root. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted to his knees, bringing Jess with him.

 

Jess moaned. He felt so hard and so good inside her. One hand moved from her waist to cup and torment her nipples, stroke her flat stomach, and play with her pubic hair. Then his fingers began to stroke her clitoris, first light and slow, and then with an increasing speed. And when he started to thrust in earnest, the novel stimulation soon had Jess writhing against him. "Don't stop!" Her breathing grew shallow and rapid. "Walter! Oh God!" she cried out. "Is this what you put Alex through?"

 

The thought of Krycek watching, or better yet, taking part brought Skinner dangerously close to coming. He rubbed her clit harder, wanting to hear her scream in delight before he finished off.

 

Five seconds later, he got his wish. He felt her muscles begin to contract around his cock as she threw her head back against his shoulder and screamed and went limp in his arms. And then he was grasping her hips, exploding with a cry of his own.

 

They stayed kneeling for a few moments, too overcome to move. But eventually, still inside of her, Skinner gently eased Jess and himself back to the ground. He kissed the nape of her neck and her cheek. "Oh God, Walter," she moaned quietly as he withdrew. Skinner lay down beside Jess, surprised that her eyes filling with tears. "I had no idea that it could feel so good," she whispered.

 

His eyes softened. As Jess started to cry, he pulled her close and let her. <She's as damaged as Alex,> he thought. <She's just a lot better at hiding it.>

 

* * * * * * *

 

<This is going to break Jess's heart,> Mulder thought. <She loves that bastard, and he betrayed her.> As much as he didn't want to cause her pain, he felt he had to tell her what he had found out. So he had called Jess to his apartment to talk to her. Actually, he paged her. For some reason, she wasn't answering her phone. <Maybe she already knows,> he mused.

 

Scully had left to go spend a week with her mother. When he awoke alone this morning, a large plain envelope had been slid under his door at some point in the night. When he opened it, all it contained was a picture. But what a picture. The grainy, black and white images were of Skinner and Krycek out on the balcony, wearing the same clothes they had been last night, could be made out clearly. As could what they were doing.

 

There was a knock on the door. He opened it to Jess. "Hi Mulder. What do you want?"

 

"Come in, Jess, and sit." Jess took a seat on the desk chair. Mulder took the couch. "I have been given some information I think you should know about."

 

Jess looked excited and concerned at the same time. "What, Mulder?"

 

<She's going to explode when she hears this.> He looked away from her, unable to face her eye-to-eye and tell her this. "I think that there might be something going on between Krycek and Skinner." He took a deep breath. "Something sexual."

 

"Oh, that," Jess commented. She sounded disappointed, as if she had been expecting news about Amanda. She also sounded slightly embarrassed. "I know all about it."

 

Mulder turned to Jess so fast, he almost gave himself whiplash. "Jess, you *know* what happened between them?"

 

"Yeah," came the reply. She shrugged her shoulders slightly, an embarrassed smile haunting her lips. "I know. Hell, I was there when it started."

 

Mulder's mouth dropped open. "'There when it *started?*'" He couldn't see sweet, little Jess, that sexually shy, scarred woman he had dated, living out one of his videos. "You, Krycek *and* Skinner?!?!?"

 

His tone put her on the defensive. "Mulder, it wasn't like Alex and I woke up one day, felt our sex life was boring, and decided to boink Walter for the hell of it." Jess sighed and leaned her head back against his couch, baring her throat and closing her eyes.

 

Mulder was struck by that movement. She was being her most trusting with him, physically and emotionally, as she had always been. It was the sacred basis of their friendship. Either one of them could divulge their darkest secret and not worry about the other being indiscrete or jugdemental. He would try his hardest to honor her trust. "Okay, how did it happen, hell beast?"

 

She was quiet for a while, making Mulder wonder if she was not going to answer. "Alex was contacted by our favorite chain smoker," she eventually said "He wanted Alex to tape him and an unknowing Skinner having sex, blackmail material. In return, he would give Alex some info about Amanda. I was lured out of town on a false pretext by one of the Cancerman's lackeys. I saw through it too quickly and got home and interrupted the proceedings." Her dark eyes opened and sought his. "There were things that happened to Alex that you don't know about, things that he couldn't talk about until recently. I couldn't let him face what he was about to do alone."

 

"So you helped deceive Skinner."

 

Jess's eyes narrowed, but she softened the look with a smile. "Mulder, give your boss some credit. He knew that he was being set up. And give Alex some credit too. Before we did anything, he told us about the hidden camera." Jess sighed again and studied the ceiling. "They went through with it. Walter spent the rest of the night, and things happened, but weren't caught on film. Later on, Alex handed over the tape, and I took it back and destroyed it in front of Walter."

 

"And that's how you got those papers." At Jess's nod, he continued. "I understand why you and Krycek went through with it, but Skinner? Did he say why he went through with it?"

 

"Yeah," Jess said cautiously. "But I can't tell you why." Her lips quirked into a half smile. "Betrayal of trust."

 

Mulder's head thudded back against the wall. "I know about that. I just have a hard time believing that you and Krycek would fuck with Skinner for just a handful of papers."

 

"Mulder, I would fuck Cancerman in an eye blink if it led to getting my daughter back. And don't look so horrified. I *know* you would do the same if it meant regaining Samantha."

 

"Yeah, I would," Mulder admitted. "I hope it never comes to that." He regarded her seriously. "Jess, what do you feel towards Skinner?"

 

She threw her hands in the air. "I don't know," she said frustrated. Jess stood and began pacing the room like a caged animal. "At first, I thought I only slept with him because I was subconsciously trying to thank him for not hurting Alex and playing out a fantasy. I expected a 'slam, bam, thank you sir and ma'am' situation."

 

"But you're developing other feelings."

 

"Ooooh yeah." Jess fell back onto the chair. "I'm warring between jealousy, lust, affection, and God only know's what other emotions. And I'm also afraid that I'll lose Alex." She sighed using her whole body.

 

Mulder shook his head sadly. Jess had had so many problems with men, he didn't want to see her hurt further. "God, I wish I could help you with that one."

 

Jess relaxed further into the chair. "So what are you going to do with the file?"

 

"I'm planning on giving it to some friends of mine, a government watchdog group called the Lone Gunmen." Jess wasn't going to like what Mulder had to say next. "I also want to give it to my U.N. contact."

 

Jess's eyebrows lifted. "Covarrubias?" At Mulder's nod, she frowned, narrowed her eyes, and flared her nostrils in a snort. "Mulder, you know that I don't trust her."

 

"Jess, not one minute ago, you said you'd do the wild thing with Cancerman if it meant you get your daughter back. Now you're letting a personal dislike get in your way."

 

"Mulder, it's more than personal," Jess snorted. "She knows a lot more than she lets on. Have you told her what I am?"

 

"No."

 

"But that night we met, she was terrified of me. That meant she had to have some knowledge of what I was beforehand."

 

"Jess, we've had this argument too many times to count. You asked me to help you find your daughter. Now let me do it."

 

"Okay," Jess sighted. She glumly noted that Mulder always referred to Amanda as "your daughter" not "your and Krycek's daughter." He acknowledged her pain, but not her lifemate's. Skinner trusted Krycek and Scully also did to some degree. But it looked like Mulder would always have a lingering distrust buried under the surface.

 

They sat in silence for a few moments, not certain what was safe to speak of. Mulder eventually broke the quiet. "How's your brother and his wife?"

 

Jess smiled. "Wonderful. Annie's due in about three weeks. Michael is besides himself with anxiousness. According to the sonogram, it'll be a boy. We're planning to fly out to San Jose in about a week, so we can be there when Mikey Jr. is born." She looked at Mulder curiously. "When are you and Scully planning to have kids?"

 

"We're worrying more about when we're getting married than kids," Mulder snorted.

 

"And when is that going to happen?"

 

"Soon, hopefully."

 

Jess looked at him gently. "And why are you waiting?"

 

Mulder turned the question back at her. "Why are you and Krycek waiting?"

 

Jess smiled ruefully. "You know why. We're living on the edge of a cliff. We don't dare do anything that might jeopardize Amanda or Lindy, or draw too much attention to ourselves."

 

"And I can't do anything to jeopardize Dana. I won't risk losing her."

 

Jess sighed. "So status quo remains."

 

* * * * * * *

 

When Jess finished talking to Mulder, she went back home to Krycek and filled him in on their conversation. "So what do you want to do?" she asked, seeking guidance.

 

Krycek frowned, thinking. "We let Mulder give her the information, but I think we should also make our feelings towards her clear."

 

Jess nodded. "That's what I thought. So I guess we take a short trip to New York."

 

A wistful look crossed Krycek's green eyes. "I grew up for the most part in New York."

 

Jess looked at Krycek in surprise. She had never really gotten him to explain fully how or why he first became involved with the Consortium. And he never talked about growing up. He always got that same wistful expression whenever Jess talked about her and Rachel spying on Michael and his friends and how Michael got revenge on his nosy little sisters. But he never said a thing about where he grew up, childhood friends, or family stories. "Really?" Jess said, uncertain how to far to probe.

 

"Yeah. Father worked there, and he brought Mother and I from St. Petersburg, then it was called Leningrad, when I was about three. I grew up like any other American kid, but with constant reminders from Father that I was Russian, and that was where my loyalties should lie."

 

"That must have been tough," Jess said, thinking of all the 'there's a Red under every bed' propaganda she had grown up with. She put her hands on his shoulders.

 

"Yeah," he sighed. "After we had been here about five years, Mother grew sick. The doctors said she had inoperable brain cancer." Krycek closed his eyes, his forehead leaning against hers. Even after all this time, he still couldn't think about her without crying. "She lived for two years after she was diagnosed. I spent most of my time with her, right up to the end." He felt two warm arms encircle him, comforting him.

 

"Even before Mother died, Father threw himself into his work, ignoring me. I look a lot like Mother, so I was a constant reminder of her. I spent so many years trying to get him to notice me. He worked for the same people Cancerman works for, but his primary focus was to protect Russian interests. As soon as I graduated from college, after Cassandra tried to trap me into marriage, I joined up with the American contingent, partially because I do love my adopted country, but mostly to thumb my nose at Father. That finally got his attention." Krycek paused and sighed, looking into Jess's eyes. She nodded, encouraging him wordlessly to continue. "When I made my intentions known, he tried to dissuade me from working for the Consortium at all. And when I said I was to be groomed for the FBI, he was livid. He tried to convince me to work for the KGB instead, if I had to work for Them at all. He told me if I did go to the FBI, he would never speak to me as his son again. I left and he's kept his word."

 

"Alex, I had no idea," she said. Her hands slid from his shoulders to his waist, holding him close. She felt his cheek rest on top of his head.

 

"There's one person I wonder about," Krycek whispered into her hair. "I guess you would call her my nanny. She took care of me and Mother while she was ill and after Mother died, and sort of knows about who Father and I work for." He pushed back to look at her face. "I don't know if she's still alive or not."

 

Jess nodded gently, sensing her lover's sorrow. "Nothing says we have to return home from New York right away. After we finish our business there, we could stay a few extra days. See the sights. Maybe visit some old friends."

 

Krycek pulled her closer to him in a fierce hug, burying his face into her soft hair. "I'm not sure I can do that, Jess. I want to, but I don't know that I can. It means going back."

 

* * * * * * *

 

When she stepped out of the UN building in New York City, her senses automatically shifted into high gear. Marita Covarrubias knew that in her line of work, a sense of paranoia could lead to a long and healthy life. Nothing around her was out of the ordinary, except Jessica Leahs lounging against a lamp post, a long way from her usual haunts of D.C. and San Jose.

 

Covarrubias looked at the woman holding the leash to a very big half-wolf, half-husky. The young woman was wearing a her boyfriend's leather jacket which was too large for her, but gave an appropriately menacing air. And a young blond girl stroked the animal's back.

 

The wolf's ears perked up at Covarrubias's approach. Jess continued leaning against the lamp post without a movement, except to scratch behind the wolf's ears. The U.N. worker decided to pass in front of the trio and not to pay any attention to the intimidation game they were playing.

 

It seemed to work. Jess still concentrated on scratching Krycek's ears. Just after she passed the pair, she heard the quiet whisper. "If you hurt him, you will pay."

 

Despite wanting to get the hell out of there, Covarrubias turned to look at Jess. "What did you say?"

 

Jess pushed away from the post. "Mulder may trust you, but I don't. If you hurt him in any way..." her voice trailed off and she shrugged her shoulders as if the rest were obvious.

 

"'I'll have hell to pay?'" Covarrubias said in an alto voice tinged with sarcasm. "Ms. Leahs, I didn't think you were into trite cliches."

 

Krycek growled deep in his throat. Lindy also bristled. "No, you'll just have us to pay," Jess said calmly before turning to leave.

 

Covarrubias looked after the retreating werewolves. <They are getting too cocky.> She would report this incident to her superiors. However, despite past recommendations, They had been lax on Leahs and Krycek. This time she would see personally that appropriate countermeasures were taken to remind the werewolves of their place.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess sat in the passenger seat of her Jeep, letting Krycek drive her and Lindy to wherever they were going. They had left New York and were heading to see Krycek's friend who lived in one of the numerous outskirting smaller towns.

 

"We're here." Krycek had pulled up to an old brownstone apartment building in a quiet neighborhood. "I hope she still lives here," he said, getting out of the car.

 

Jess and Lindy also got out of the car. They followed Krycek up the stairs and into the building. He was obviously nervous. They said nothing as they waited for the elevator.

 

Once they were in the elevator and heading to the seventh floor, Jess and Lindy gave him a reassuring hug. "It'll go fine," Jess said.

 

Krycek nodded and returned the hug, mussing Lindy's hair. When the elevator doors opened, he walked up the apartment 731 and knocked on the door. An elderly woman answered it. "Yes?" she said with a heavy Russian accent.

 

Krycek smiled. "Hello, Tati."

 

The old woman's face lit up. "Alexi? Little Alexi, not so little anymore?" The woman lifted a hand to his cheek went off into rapid Russian endearments, at least Jess guessed they were endearments from her tone of voice. Krycek was replying in kind in equally fluent Russian.

 

Krycek turned and motioned Jess and Lindy forward. He switched back to English for their benefit. "And this is my fiance, Jessica Leahs, and her adopted daughter Lindy. Jess, Lindy, this is Tatiana Rudenko. Until we moved, Tati practically raised me after Mother died."

 

Jess smiled and offered her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Rudenko."

 

"Please, call me Tatiana. And come in." She hustled them inside and down a short hallway to a crowded living room. "Let me get you something to drink. Tea?"

 

As Jess and Lindy sat on an overstuffed couch, Krycek remained standing. "Let me get it, Tati."

 

"No, Alexi. You are a guest in my home."

 

"Tati, please, I want you and Jess to get to know each other. And it will be just like old times when I made tea for you." Krycek walked to the kitchenette. "And I'm not taking 'no' for an answer."

 

The Russian woman laughed. "Still such a stubborn, determined young man." Tatiana turned to Jess and regarded her with warm gray eyes. "I am glad that he has found someone who truly loves him. He deserves it, especially after what that witch did to him."

 

Jess smiled. She knew exactly who the witch, pronounced more like bitch, was. "He told me all about Cassandra Oldham. I even got to meet her once. She was an attractive woman, but no threat."

 

"Good," Tatiana pronounced, patting Jess's arm. "And when are the two of you having children?"

 

Jess looked down at her red and black cowboy boots. "We're trying, but we may not be able to."

 

"Your problem?" When Jess nodded, Tatiana clucked reassuringly. "Science is doing all sorts of wonderful things for people trying to have babies. I'm sure you will be hearing the patter of little feet in the future."

 

Jess smiled sadly. "We hope so." <Only not quite the way you're thinking.>

 

Krycek came back into the living room bearing a tray with a tea service on it. With a child like intensity, he poured the hot water into the teacups and passed them out.

 

Tatiana accepted the cup with a smile. "So Alexi, why have you come to see me after all this time?" as she steeped the tea.

 

Krycek smiled as he dipped his tea bag in his cup. "I wanted to see how you are doing, Tati."

 

Tatiana gave him a knowing smile as she took a sip. "And you wanted to know how your father is, but couldn't bear to talk to him directly." She shook her head as she put the cup down. "Too proud to let him know that you still care about him or he about you."

 

"Care about me?" Krycek said sharply. "He never contacted me after I graduated. He never offered to help."

 

Jess put a hand over Krycek's clenched fist in an effort to soothe him. "You can speak freely in front of me, I know about who Alex and his father worked for. We have gone through several tough events this last three years. We never heard heard anything from him."

 

The older woman sighed again. "Alexi, despite what he said, your father never stopped loving you. He calls me every week to find out if I knew anything about you. Please, consider contacting him."

 

Krycek sighed as Jess squeezed his hand. "I'll think about it, Tati."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Three days after they returned home, all seemed right with the world. Or at least as right as could be expected in their lives.

 

It was a Friday late afternoon. After dropping Lindy off at soccer practice, Jess had slowly made her way back home. Krycek was off somewhere 'running errands.' In other words, he was looking for a Russian language newspapers and hoping that no one was following him this time. So she asked Krycek to drop her off at home.

 

As she passed through the doorway, she noticed something on the floor. Jess picked up the envelope addressed to her. It hadn't come through the mail, because there was no post mark she could discern.

 

She flipped it over and with a casual slice broke the seal. Inside was a copy of an article dated for this evenings issue of the San Jose Mercury News, the edition yet to be published on the West Coast. She skimmed it, puzzled as to why someone would send her an article about a man and his pregnant wife killed in a seemingly random freeway shooting.

 

The reason became all too clear when she looked at the attached pictures. These were not from a newspaper, but copies of crime scene photos. She recognized the green minivan by the license plate.

 

"No!" The word was a strangled yelp. Her brother had just bought that minivan, having traded in his old VW Bug for something more family like, as he put it, something he could more easily haul around the many kids he and Annie intended to have.

 

Jess clutched the photo to her chest, sobbing. <Michael, Annie, no! Don't be dead, please.> Only when did she sense another presence in the room did she look up. Her brown eyes looked up to connect with a set of wrathful hazel ones.

 

"Mulder," she gasped, wiping away a tear. In her distress, she didn't notice his jaw and hands clenching convulsively. "Why are you..."

 

"Shut up, Jess!" Mulder snarled.

 

Jess blinked. Her friend never had acted towards her with such hostility, not when he found out about her and Krycek's relationship, not when he had found out she was a werewolf and had hidden the fact from him. "What's wrong?"

 

Mulder fixed her with a steely glare as he advanced. "You knew, and didn't tell me," he growled in a low voice.

 

Jess was puzzled. Her mind was still preoccupied with her brother. "Knew? About what?"

 

"About *him*." She had never heard one word filled with so much hate. "That smoking son of a bitch. And my mother." His eyes narrowed. Now his voice filled with sorrow and hurt and anger. "Why didn't you tell me?"

 

"Oh God," Jess whispered, staggering backwards. She now knew what he was talking about. She had stumbled across some information about Cancerman, but had decided to protect Mulder by possibly never telling. The truth would be too painful for him to bear, at least at this point in his life. "I wanted to, but..."

 

"But what?" Mulder thundered. "Jess, I trusted you! Against my better judgment, I tried to accept that you love that lying rat bastard. Now I find out that you're working with him!"

 

"Alex had nothing to do with that." Jess pleaded. "He was all for telling you right away, but I overruled him. I didn't think you could handle what I found out, so I was going to wait for a while..."

 

"I don't want to hear your moralistic excuses, Jess! Who are you to play God with my life?"

 

"Mulder," Jess pleaded. "I wasn't playing God. It was breaking my heart not to tell you, but you need to hear why."

 

Mulder stepped forward, placing himself inches from her face. His right hand started to raise. Her rational mind knew that he would never strike her, but the instinct she was operating on was reminded of Jake about to beat the crap out of her. Jess cowered back, clearly afraid.

 

At the horrified look in her eyes, Mulder checked himself suddenly. He didn't buy the fact that this had been Jess's idea. It had to be that rat bastard's, but she willingly went along with him. That is what hurt him the most. "I don't want to hear from you ever again," he growled at her softly. Mulder spun on his heel and stormed out of the condo. Jess stood rooted in shock until she heard the squeal of a car being driven violently away.

 

Overcome by a wave of nausea, Jess bolted for the upstairs bathroom. She ran to the toilet and vomited again and again, until she was completely empty. Only when she looked up did she notice the message scrawled in a red and black oily substance on the mirror.

 

"YOU'RE NEXT" And under the words, there was an arrow pointing downwards into the sink.

 

Jess pushed up off her knees and walked like a zombie towards the mirror. Then what was cradled in the sink caught her eye. Little Chloe, Lindy's pet cat, was laying limply in the depression, her throat slit with a neat, blood encrusted gash.

 

If Jess's stomach hadn't been empty, she would have wretched again. Dazed, she walked out of the bathroom and to the linen closet. She pulled out the oldest, rattiest towels she had and tenderly wrapped the cat's body up. She carried the body down stairs and out to the garage. She found one of the large empty storage bin and placed Chloe gently inside. Part of her rational mind was screaming at her to stop disturbing evidence and call the police, but her maternal instincts were screaming louder to keep Lindy from stumbling over her beloved pet.

 

Jess went back upstairs to take a closer look at the mirror. Leaning in close, she widened her nostrils to take in the smell of the liquid. She recognized that there were only two odors in the liquid - cat's blood and motor oil. That snapped what little control Jess had over her instincts. With an incoherent roar of rage and fear, Jess slammed her fist into the glass, spiderwebbing its surface with cracks. She then fled outside on foot, barely noticing, but subconsciously registering in the back yard, Boomer lay limply on the end of his tether, his throat also slit.

 

Jess couldn't gather enough control to try to mindspeak to either Lindy or Alex. She didn't will her hand, badly lacerated from the shattered glass of the mirror, to heal. All she could do was run on instinct to possibly the only living friend she had left in the world.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Upstairs and getting ready for bed, Skinner heard someone pounding on his door. Grabbing his slacks and a belt, he slid them on and headed down stairs. Half way to the front door, he was hit by a wave of deja vu. He then remembered the last time he had been awakened like this. Agent Mulder had dragged a seemingly unrepentant Alex Krycek to him seeking a safe house to hold him for the night. Then there was the night a year later that Krycek had brought a wounded Jess, also seeking a safe haven. This time, it was Krycek's, and now his, lover standing outside, alone.

 

Skinner opened the door for Jess. Instead of speaking or entering the apartment, she stood there, pale and trembling. Her hair was tousled, her face was streaked with tears, and her right hand was slick with blood. He gently reached for her. "Jess?"

 

Her eyes slowly sought his, as if from a great distance. "Can I come in?" she whispered in a barely audible voice.

 

Skinner nodded. Jess mechanically passed through the threshold and walked to the couch. Staring at nothing, she sat down stiffly on the couch. Then she started to shake.

 

<What has happened to her?> Skinner thought. <Even on the Farnsworth case, she always had a measure of control.> He sat down on the couch beside her. "Where's Alex and Lindy?"

 

Jess trembled even more violently. "I don't know," came her weak gasp.

 

<She's in deep shock over something. But what?> "Do you need someplace to stay?" Skinner couldn't tell if her head was nodding, or bobbing from how hard she was shaking. "Do you need to be alone?"

 

"No!" was her explosive reply. She clutched his arm tightly. "Don't leave me alone! Please!"

 

He had never seen her react with such panic. <Oh God! Alex and Lindy are dead, or worse and she's gone crazy.> "Do you want me to call Agent Mulder?"

 

That was apparently the wrong question, because if she was trembling before, she was practically convulsing now.

 

"Okay, no Mulder." Skinner put his arms around her and pulled her against his chest. Jess didn't resist, but neither did she encourage or aid him. She rested stiffly against him, wrapped up in her own private nightmare. Realizing that she wasn't going to move on her own, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her upstairs to the bedroom.

 

Getting her ready for bed was like taking care of a three year old. "Lift your arms." She did, and he pulled the tee-shirt off of her. Next came the bra. She stood there bare chested before him. But there was nothing erotic or provocative in her display. Her shoulders were rolled forward, her face shell shocked. He slipped on her an old dress shirt of his, one he intended to throw away because of how faded it was. It came down almost to her knees.

 

Skinner sat her down on the bed and knelt to remove her shoes and socks. Jess seemed to slightly snap out of her catatonic state and shimmied off her jeans. Without a comment, she lay down on her side on half of the bed, staring straight ahead.

 

Skinner lightly stroked her cheek. She still stared and didn't so much as blink at his touch. "I'll be right back." He walked into the bathroom and undressed. He didn't want to add to her distress by thinking that he was trying to take advantage of her obvious disorientation. Their relationship was still too fragile. Skinner would let her take the lead and let her decide if she wanted to be comforted with sex or not.

 

He grabbed some antiseptic and a roll of gauze. When he came back out of the bathroom, clad only in his briefs, Jess was still laying where he had left her. Her wounded hand was dangling over the edge of the bed. As Skinner tended to it, she began trembling again, and also started to sob quietly.

 

He slipped into the other side of the bed and pulled her back against his upper body. "Shhhh. You're not alone," he whispered, stroking her hair.

 

Jess rolled over began to sob hysterically into the A.D.'s broad shoulder. She seemingly cried for hours, each sniff more heart wrenching than the last. Skinner gently held her, whispered comforting nonsense into her ear, and patted her back until with a hiccupping gasp, she fell into an exhausted, restless slumber.

 

He felt himself drifting off when he heard another knock on his door. Grabbing his pants, this time he went downstairs to open the door to an agitated Lindy and Krycek. "Don't worry," he said motioning them inside, guessing the reason for their worried state. "She's asleep upstairs. What's going on?"

 

Krycek and Lindy both gave sighs of relief. "I'm not certain, Walter," Krycek began, "but it must have been horrible for her."

 

"I haven't been able to get her to talk about it. What happened?"

 

Lindy's answer was the simplest way to explain. The little girl looked tired, and being in a dirt and sweat covered sports uniform made her look as ragged as her voice sounded. "Our lives fell apart."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Despite having been awakened from a fitful sleep, he was instantly alert. Interrupted sleep and midnight meetings came with the territory. Green eyes swept over the emergency report, noting the highlights. "And have they been harmed?"

 

"Not physically," his aide answered, bleary eyed. "The acts were targeted towards Jessica Leahs specifically, but to designed to cause them all mental anguish. The last of her immediate family, with the exception of one member, have been killed. Her relationship with her closest friend has been compromised. And her child's pets were slaughtered."

 

"And her location now? And my son's?"

 

"They all fled to a Walter S. Skinner's, an Assistant Director of the FBI, apartment. Apparently, there a close relationship has been forged between the three adults."

 

"And the reason for these... actions taken against them?"

 

"The only reason that seems logical is they informed Covarrubias that they were aware of her knowledge of their lycanthropy. They also made reference to FBI Special Agent Mulder."

 

He nodded, piecing together what probably happened. The UN plant was a rookie, eager to prove her worth. The werewolves had merely warned her that they had an eye on her. She overreacted, deliberately misled her superiors, or overstepped her limited authority and arranged for a bloody lesson to be taught. "Arrange for all them, the AD included, to be protected twenty four hours a day. And make certain that it was Covarrubias who ordered this." He paused for a moment, running through what his aide had said a few moments ago. "All of her family was assassinated, except one member? Who survived?"

 

The aide's words were not reassuring. "She is not aware of this fact, but the one who survived is one of Us."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Skinner and Krycek stood by the bed, watching Jess sleep. Although unconscious, tears were still seeping from her eyes. Krycek and Lindy explained what they had been able to deduce that happened. It was almost broke their hearts when they realized how badly she was affected by the events of the last six hours. Right now she needed some comfort, of the physical kind.

 

After shedding his clothes, Krycek knelt beside the bed. He gently wiped the tears away. Jess shivered and opened her eyes. "Alex?" she asked, reaching for his face.

 

"Shhhh. I'm here, love," Krycek whispered as Skinner got in bed behind her. "Move over." As the A.D. wrapped his arms around Jess and pulled her close, Krycek slid under the sheets. He softly kissed her lips, first chastely, but then with increasing passion. His left leg slid between hers, teasing the her calf with his foot.

 

One of Skinner's warm palms slid up her stomach to cup a breast. At Jess's soft sigh, it crept to the buttons that were holding her shirt closed. Strong fingers teased the shirt open as Skinner planted kisses at the base of her neck. He cast away the shirt, and worked next on removing her panties.

 

Krycek moved to Jess's ear. He breathed into it, making Jess break out in gooseflesh. He then latched onto the lobe, nibbling and tugging. He could feel the warm skin of the back of Skinner's hands brush against his nipples as the A.D. teased Jess's breast. He groaned as he felt Jess's hips start to grind against him, and then again when he felt Skinner begin moving also.

 

"Oh God," Jess gasped. She was making soft, mewling sounds and tears started trailing from her eyes. "I thought you were.... I thought I would find Walter...."

 

"Shhhh," Skinner whispered into her ear. "We're both here." One of his hands slid from her breasts to Krycek's cock. The young man gasped as the head of his cock was gently rubbed against her thighs. Then it was his turn to gasp as Krycek's hands went to his ass, pulling Skinner tighter against Jess.

 

Jess moaned as Skinner covered her left breast with his large, warm palm. He slowly worked his palm in circles, massaging her. Krycek, meanwhile, busied himself pleasuring her right breast with lips and tongue. Jess cried out soundlessly, reaching behind her to stroke the back of Skinner's head with her left hand while entangling her right in Krycek's hair.

 

Skinner couldn't hold back any longer. He rolled over and reached into the bed stand to retrieve the lubricant. After oiling his cock generously, he slid his still slick fingers between her asscheeks, preparing her. Jess groaned and relaxed almost immediately. Gently holding her hips, Skinner positioned himself to penetrate her. When he felt Jess press back, he entered her anus ever so gently. He felt her shivers of pleasure as he stretched and filled her with shallow, gentle thrusts. Once fully enclosed in her hot channel, his hand reached for Krycek's erection, intending to jerk him off as he made Jess come.

 

But Krycek had other intentions. He guided Skinner's touch back to Jess's breasts. And then Krycek slipped into Jess's tight vagina causing her to sob raggedly from pleasure. The sensation of being stretched and filled by both men at the same time was almost too much to bear. Her hands sought Krycek's dark hair and pulled him to her taut nipple, begging wordlessly.

 

Jess arched back against Skinner as Krycek began gently nibbling and licking. Still thrusting slowly, Skinner started nuzzling her neck and shoulder, biting gently. Both men ground into her, first opposing each other's strokes and then together And without warning, she was coming violently. Wave after wave of pleasure swept through her, almost causing her to black out. All she could do was close her eyes and ride out the pulsing sensations. She distantly heard herself scream in ecstasy.

 

Exhausted from her emotions and actions, she barely noticed when Skinner began to grunt with each thrust. Krycek tossed his head back and gave a sharp bark as he came. When their thrashing bodies stilled, Skinner and Krycek eased out of Jess. Both men kissed her in the muzzy afterglow, all of them content for the moment. Skinner pulled the covers back over their bodies, pausing to stroke his male and female lovers's cheeks. Trusting him completely, they were both already asleep. He nestled into Jess's back, pulled Krycek a little tighter against her, and was soon asleep himself.

 

* * * * * * *

 

When Jess slowly woke up, the first thing she realized was that she wasn't in her bed at home. As she sat up, she remembered everything that had happened yesterday. Then she saw that she was alone. <Alone. Last night, Alex, Walter, and me, was a dream.> Tears started to fall from her eyes.

 

She heard the door open. She heard the pad of bare feet as someone crossed the room and Jess felt a soft handkerchief wipe at her eyes. "You gave us quite a scare, Jess," came Krycek's voice.

 

Jess opened her eyes to stare at her lover's incredible green ones in disbelief. Her arms went around his neck, her head into his shoulder. "When you weren't here when I arrived, I thought They got to you and Lindy too," she sobbed brokenly.

 

Krycek kissed her hair. "We're not so easy to get rid of," he whispered into it.

 

Jess shivered. Her lifemate was safe, Walter was safe, but was her other companion? "Lindy's okay, right?"

 

"She's fine." Krycek stroked her face. "She's here with us. If you're up to it, come down stairs with me and maybe get some breakfast?"

 

"Okay." She let Krycek help her out of bed. "I don't have much of an appetite though." She looked around for her clothes.

 

Krycek tugged forward a suitcase that had rested just outside the doorway. "Lindy and I brought some things we thought you'd need." He opened the suitcase and tossed her a pair of jeans and a cotton shirt.

 

Jess's eyes filled with tears yet again. "Then you saw?" she asked, pulling on her clothes.

 

Krycek nodded. "Yeah. Lindy knows Chloe and Boomer are dead, but not how. I made sure of that." He gestured down the hallway with his head. "C'mon. You need to eat." Grabbing her hand, he tugged out of the bedroom and down the stairs.

 

Skinner and Lindy looked up as the pair entered the living room. She still looked depressed, but the hopeless, zombie expression was gone. Skinner thought that her change in mood was due to relief that the last of the living who loved her were safe.

 

Lindy slipped off the couch and ran to her. The young teen looked pale, but much better in clean clothes. Jess dropped to her knees and pulled the girl in close. They held each other silently. Skinner wondered if they were speaking mind to mind, because they were so quiet.

 

Lindy pulled away and Jess got off her knees. They walked hand in hand to the couch and sat down. Lindy leaned against Jess, and the young woman put an arm around her. Krycek sat next to Lindy, and Skinner on the other side of Jess.

 

"I feel so stupid for reacting the way I did," Jess said, putting her head in her free hand. "Any one thing I could have handled, but all three at once..."

 

"Three?" Krycek asked. "We know about the pets and Michael's and Annie's deaths. What else happened?"

 

"There was another death," Jess groaned. "It was of Mulder's and my friendship. He knows, Alex."

 

Krycek's jaw dropped. "How?"

 

"I don't know." Jess lifted her head to look at Krycek and Skinner. "All I know is that he feels that we betrayed him. No," Jess amended. "He feels that you've betrayed him and corrupted me, Alex."

 

Skinner looked confused. "Betrayed him? Corrupted you, Jess? What are you talking about?"

 

"Back when Alex and I started living together, I stumbled onto some information regarding Cancerman and Mulder's mother. Cancerman and I made a deal - in exchange for my silence, he would leave us alone. He didn't keep his end of the bargain, but I couldn't tell Mulder, not at this point in his life."

 

"Do I want to know what you know?"

 

"No," Jess and Krycek said at the same time.

 

"It's almost impossible to blackmail these men," Krycek said. "You try to turn one of their weapons back on them, and it always will backfire."

 

Jess bowed her head. "If you've gained Mulder's trust, you'll know what we're talking about soon enough."

 

Skinner sat back in his chair. "So now what happens?"

 

Jess leaned back into the couch and stroked Lindy's hair. "I guess we go to San Jose and bury Michael and Annie." She sighed. "After that I don't have a clue." Her eyes teared. "I don't think I could stay in the condo, not after everything that's happened."

 

Skinner gently patted her shoulder. "You don't have to go back to stay. I think I know of someplace you can stay, long term if you like."

 

"Thank you," Jess whispered, sagging into the couch. "I guess we were fooling ourselves, thinking we were safe. Cancerman was bound to try something like this sooner or later."

 

"Jess, I don't think Cancerman ordered this," Krycek said. "No pun intended, but it seems like overkill."

 

"I agree," Skinner rumbled. "These events aren't his style. They're too personally directed. And he would only strike once, not three times in rapid succession."

 

Jess sighed and slumped forward. "Then who? Who have we angered... oh no."

 

Krycek experienced the same flash of insight Jess had. "Covarrubias," he growled.

 

Skinner looked at the pair, worried. He had been told about the blond's help in getting Krycek and Mulder to Russia and her odd reaction to Jess. And his FBI instincts said that they were right, that something more was going on, even if Mulder was too blind to see it. "It's dangerous to jump to that conclusion," he cautioned.

 

Krycek nodded. "We know that, Walter. We won't do anything unless we're certain."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Cancerman finished delivering his report on the events of the last twelve hours to Well Manicured Man. "We have yet to determine exactly who leaked the information, but I have my suspicions."

 

Well Manicured Man nodded. "And where is Leahs now?"

 

"She, Krycek, and the child are en route to San Jose to claim and bury the bodies."

 

"And the Assistant Director?"

 

"He has elected to remain behind to deal with Agents Mulder and Scully."

 

Well Manicured Man sat and considered the latest events. "We can manipulate this situation to our advantage if we move cautiously. Find out who ordered the murders and the attacks. Miss Leahs will be more than happy to learn who did it."

 

Cancerman raised his eyebrows skeptically. "And why would she listen to us?"

 

Well Manicured Man smiled. "I have some influence over her that I have not brought to bear just yet. She needed to be in a truly desperate situation to be receptive. Now the situation is perfect."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess, Krycek, and Lindy stood in front of the graves. The last three days had been a blur. Jess had identified and claimed the bodies of her brother and sister-in-law. Then they had arranged the well attended funeral. After that came the reading of the will, the arrangements that had to be made regarding Michael's vet practice, and the house in Los Gatos. Jess's decision had been to sell the vet practice to Michael's partner, but keep the house locked until she could sort through the belongings and decide what to keep and what to donate to charities. Now that all that had been taken care of, all that was left was one more goodbye and the flight back to D.C. to try to reconstruct their lives.

 

Jess sighed as she looked at the six graves, her mother's, father's, sister's, brother's, sister-in-law's and nephew's. Lindy held on to her waist while Krycek crossed his arm below her neck. They just held each other, grieving quietly.

 

The scent of approaching cigarette smoke made the trio bristle and raise their heads. "Haven't you hurt us enough?" Krycek growled. "What the hell do you want *now*?"

 

Cancerman calmly walked up to the opposite side of the fresh graves. "I'm here to pay my last respects, Mr. Krycek." He removed the omnipresent tube of tobacco from his mouth. "What happened to Ms. Leahs's brother and sister-in-law is a tragedy and a waste."

 

"You, of all people," Jess snarled, "are offering *me* condolences? You probably ordered their deaths!"

 

"I did no such thing," was the calm reply. "What appears to have happened is that a member of my association decided that you needed to be reminded of your precarious place. And the results of that associate's actions were harmful to my position also."

 

~He's right~ Krycek grudgingly mindspoke to Jess. ~Mulder finding out about him cannot have helped him, or improved his standing among his colleagues.~

 

Jess considered her lover's and her enemy's words. She relaxed her tight stance slightly. Her sharp gaze pierced Cancerman's eyes. "So why are you here?"

 

"A senior associate has expressed an interest in your case, Ms. Leahs." Cancerman paused to take a drag of the smoldering cigarette. "He wishes to protect you and yours from any further overzealous acts."

 

Krycek looked at the Cigarette Smoking Man with narrowed eyes. "Why the hell would one of the Consortium want to protect us?"

 

Cancerman had been wondering the same thing himself. "I don't know," he admitted. "All he would say was that he wanted to help you avenge your brother's death, and possibly give you information about Amanda."

 

Jess and Krycek looked at each other. They both would make a deal with the devil if it meant regaining their lost daughter. ~You make the call, love,~ Krycek 'spoke to Jess. ~I'll follow your lead.~

 

Jess nodded slightly. Lindy, who had remained silent during the exchange, angled in slightly in front of Jess. She glared at Cancerman, wanting to attack the man who had caused the woman she considered to be her mother such pain, half daring him to hurt Jess or Krycek so she'd have the excuse. Jess dropped a hand on her shoulder, a reminder to hold onto the control that separated inhuman werewolves from mere human wolves.

 

The grip on her shoulder tightened painfully when Well Manicured Man stepped from behind one of the trees. "Hello, Jessica. It's been a long time."

 

Jess nodded, eyes wide, apparently too dumbfounded to speak. In a heartbeat, she wondered how many of the events in her life were coincidence, and how many carefully arranged.

 

Cancerman looked at his superior and then at Jess. "You have already met each other?"

 

Jess found her voice. "Yes." She stood a fraction straighter. "Hello, Uncle."

 

* * * * * * *

 

When Scully entered her and Mulder's apartment, she immediately knew something was wrong. Mulder was no where to be seen. Usually after this long of a separation, he would be all over her.

 

She heard a muffled noise coming from behind the closed door of their bedroom. Acting on FBI trained instincts, she drew her gun and eased to the door. She peaked through the half open door. She sighed and holstered the gun. "Fox?"

 

He sat on their bed, holding a framed photograph in his hands. Mulder looked at her. Her heart almost broke when she saw the anguish and pain in his eyes. She had never seen him this upset.

 

"Dana?" Mulder motioned her over to the bed with his head. "Look at this picture. Tell me what you see."

 

Scully took the picture from his hand. It was a picture she had seen before many times of the four Mulders, taken roughly a year before Samantha went missing. She scanned the photo for something X-File related, a 'ghost' in the foreground, a 'UFO' in the background, some clue about Samantha's abduction. "I see your family, Fox."

 

Mulder took the picture from her. "It's not my family, Dana. It's a lie." he said in a soft, bitter voice. In an unexpected fit of violence, he threw the picture across the wall. The glass covering the photo shattered into a thousand pieces. "It's a goddamn *lie* that *Jess* helped perpetuate!"

 

"Jess lied to you?" Scully couldn't believe it. Jess loved Mulder like a brother.

 

"She knew the truth about my father. She knew that Krycek didn't kill my father, but she didn't tell me."

 

"What?" Now Scully was even more confused. "Why is it so upsetting that Krycek didn't kill your father? And why would he lie and say that he did?"

 

"Krycek didn't kill my father, he only thought he did." Mulder's gaze darkened even further. "Actually, he worked for him."

 

"Oh my God," Scully whispered. Krycek had made one thing clear. He had only taken orders from one man. "You don't mean..."

 

"Yes," Mulder whispered bitterly. "That smoking son of a bitch and my mother..." His voice broke, losing the tenuous control he had on his emotions.

 

Scully put her arms around him. She held him as he cried. "Fox," she whispered in his hair. "I love you, no matter who your biological father is. It doesn't change who you are."

 

"But it does," he whispered. "Like father, like son."

 

"Fox William Mulder!" Scully said sharply. "You are not the same as Cancerman. Just because you share some DNA with him, it does not mean you will become him."

 

"One thing makes more sense now," Mulder said, staring at the photo he had thrown across the room. "Remember those inoculation files we found, the ones with your and Samantha's names on them?" Scully nodded and Mulder continued. "I noticed Samantha's label covered another name, mine. He was trying to control Dad."

 

"Or maybe he was trying to protect your mother," she said. Scully didn't add the 'and you' she was thinking. It made more sense, though Mulder wouldn't accept the fact that even Cancerman could be capable of a basic human emotion like love. But Mulder had caused so much trouble in the past, it would have been a lot easier for the Cigarette Smoking Man to have him killed out of hand. And yet, Mulder still lived.

 

As Mulder buried his face in her shoulder, Scully looked at the photo, now lying crumpled on the floor. Through coincidence or fate or what have you, the corner containing Bill Mulder had been torn away from the rest picture.

 

* * * * * * *

 

It was one of the nicer hotel suites in downtown San Jose with a lovely view of Guadalupe Park. It spoke of wealth, but not ostentation, the type of place for men who wanted discrete comfort but not close scrutiny. Jess and her uncle were having a private discussion in the bedroom while Krycek and Lindy waited outside uneasily.

 

Well Manicured Man sat on one of the queen sized beds. "I only found out about my sister's and your father's death recently." He paused, trying to gauge her reaction. "I'm sorry I didn't try to make peace with her sooner."

 

Jess, sitting on the other bed, smiled ruefully. "I don't think she would have accepted it. She really did love Dad." <What the hell am I doing?!?> Jess thought. <I've just found out that one of my few remaining living relatives is a member of a world wide conspiracy, and I'm talking about family history?> She looked at him through narrowed eyes. "Did Mom know who you're involved with?"

 

Well Manicured Man shook his head. "All she knew was that I had a high security clearance job."

 

She picked up the glass of soda off the nightstand, a favorite from childhood, her uncle had to thoughtfully provided. Nose centimeters from the brim, she inhaled like she was testing the bouquet of a fine wine. <No drugs I can smell.> "So why did you bother to look for me now?" She took a sip of the soda, waited a moment testing for an unusual taste indicating a drug, and then took a larger swallow.

 

Her hesitation over the drink was noticed but not commented on. "Jessica, your mother had cut herself off completely from me after Rachel's death. It was only when I started searching for you that I discovered that you were involved in an ongoing project." He paused and decided to reveal something personal to her. "I recently lost someone very close to me. She was murdered brutally and senselessly. It was a wake up call. I decided to try to track down the last of my family."

 

"Last of my family," Jess repeated bitterly. "Did you have anything to do with..."

 

"No. I wasn't aware that you were threatened until I found out what you have become. And I will discover who caused this murder and make them pay for my nephew's death."

 

"No, Uncle, we want to be the ones who exact payment." Jess leaned forward intently. "But there has to be an understanding. I don't trust you at all. The only reason we are doing this is that you are offering what we want - revenge. But expect nothing more."

 

"And if I offer something more?"

 

Jess smiled sadly as she leaned back. "You wouldn't," she said with a shake of her head. "And if you did, you wouldn't keep your end of the bargain. If you gave us Amanda, you would lose your power over us. I know we'll never regain our daughter through you. But back to business," she said with a false cheerfulness. "You were going to tell me who arranged for my life to be torn apart."

 

"I am not certain yet," Well Manicured Man answered. "I have a suspicion, but want to be sure."

 

"In that case," Jess said, getting off the bed, "I'm going home. I'm sure you'll notify me when you find out who did this. Until then, Uncle."

 

He remained silent as his niece opened the door to the bedroom. <This will have to be handled with caution. If I play this right, her loyalty to me will be assured.>

 

Jess stepped out of the bedroom only to find Krycek extremely upset. Cancerman was with him. "Alex, what's wrong?" Jess asked, glaring at the tall man behind her lover.

 

"Jess, we need to go back to New York. Tati's had a heart attack."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Lindy leaned back into the seat and let the acceleration of take off wash over her. They were on their way back to New York, so Krycek could see his beloved Tati, probably for the last time, before she died. Jess's uncle had offered them the use of a private jet, which would get them to the Big Apple hours before their scheduled flight. Since every minute counted, Jess and Krycek accepted, even if they had to share the cabin with an unwelcome fellow passenger.

 

She was worried about her adopted mother. Jess just couldn't seem to settle. She was alternately looking in tenderly on a sleeping Krycek, reading the book she had bought, checking maternally on Lindy, and glaring at the Smoking Man, who sitting on a diagonal facing her, puffing away unconcernedly as he read the New York Times.

 

"Ms. Leahs, I do wish you would stop staring at me like that." Cancerman's voice had an amused edge to it.

 

"Like what?" Jess asked, distractedly leafing through pages of her book. Lindy had noted that she had tried to read the same three pages for the last half hour.

 

Again there was an undefined amusement in Cancerman's voice. "As if I were the prince of darkness."

 

"Sir," Jess said, managing to look wounded yet completely unrepentant. "I've *never* thought of you as the prince of darkness. Duke of insufficient lighting, maybe, but never prince of darkness. That's who Mulder thinks you are." She put down her book, giving up the pretense of reading. She leaned her head back and stared at the ceiling of the airplane.

 

The Cigarette Smoking Man also put aside the newspaper. "Speaking of Agent Mulder, have you spoken to him?"

 

Jess saw no reason for not telling him. He probably already knew what her conversations with Mulder consisted of. "I manage to get as far as 'please don't hang up.' And then he does." Jess looked into Cancerman's eyes. "I'm surprised you didn't come after me yourself when you found out he knew."

 

Cancerman shook his head. "If you were going to tell him, you would have a long time ago." And, although a major annoyance sometimes, she could be useful to him in the future.

 

Jess blinked and stared beyond Lindy out the window. "You're trying to protect him, in your own way, aren't you?"

 

"Yes, although he makes that practically impossible."

 

They fell silent for several minutes. Jess sat there, struggling with something. "Is she all right?" she finally asked.

 

Cancerman knew who Jess was talking about. "Amanda is doing well. She is a healthy little girl. She shows all the signs of being extremely intelligent and gifted."

 

Jess nodded, closing her eyes in a vain attempt to hide her tears. "Why did you take her from me?" she asked in a broken voice.

 

For the first time, Cancerman decided to be honest. For all the young woman who sat before him had suffered, she had earned the right to a small part of the truth. "You were dying. Werewolf pregnancies have a tendency to be difficult and fatal. Human/werewolf crossbreeds are nortoriously fragile until the third month of life. If I hadn't had stepped in, Amanda would have been stillborn and you would have died trying to give birth to her. And once you were stabilized, the focus was making sure the child would survive."

 

"I guess I should thank you for my life then, and hers," Jess said slowly. "But you should know, I will stop at *nothing* to find her. You thought Mulder was dogged about finding Samantha. You haven't seen anything yet."

 

* * * * * * *

 

As soon as the private jet landed, Jess, Krycek and Lindy got off the plane and headed to the hospital without a word to Cancerman. Jess and Lindy sat half dozing in the waiting room. They had already said their goodbyes to Tatiana and were letting Krycek do the same privately. Blue and brown eyes would slide half open every time a doctor, nurse, orderly, patient, or visitor would pass.

 

~Jess. Lindy,~ came the quiet mindcall. Jess opened her eyes to see Krycek standing in front of her with tears in his eyes. She knew then that Tatiana Rudenko had passed on. She and Lindy stood and pulled Krycek into a group hug, offering silent condolences. Then they turned and left the hospital to head to the airport and home. Krycek knew that someone connected with his father, or even his father himself, would take care of funeral arrangements, and he did not want to be around when that happened. They called a cab to take them to an airport. From there they would take a commuter flight back to Washington.

 

They missed seeing the old man in black by five minutes.

 

In the cab, Jess tenderly held Krycek in her arms. "Alex, did she say anything to you before...?"

 

Krycek sighed deeply. He was dry eyed and in shock. Tears would come later. "She made me promise to find Father. Jess," he said, switching gears. "How did Rachel die?"

 

She knew that he was avoiding talking about finding his father. And at this point, it seemed wiser not to push. Jess leaned her head back against the seat. Lindy, who had never heard the full story, leant against her, listening intently. "I was thirteen, she was sixteen," Jess began. "She just got her license on her birthday, and a new car. She decided to go up Highway 17 to Santa Cruz. She did it as a statement of her new found independence. And she took me along for the ride."

 

"We spent the day playing on the beach and exploring the Boardwalk, the amusement park there. It got later and later. I kept begging for one more ride, one more game, one more handful of popcorn to toss to the seagulls. After about an hour of 'just five more minutes,' she pulled rank and we started back home."

 

"Highway 17 is a twisty, turning, two lane freeway, 55 mph for the most part. But the summit is a dangerous area. But people still speed full tilt over it. There is at least one fatal accident a month there." Jess stopped, her eyes tearing. She wiped them away with the back of her hand and continued. "Rachel was just about to take the summit doing 25, what traffic in our lane, the commute side, was doing. Some idiot coming the other way doing 75 lost control coming downhill and swerved into incoming traffic. He ran..." Jess stopped, unable to go on with the description. "Rachel died on impact. It was a minor miracle that I survived."

 

Lindy patted Jess's hand. "And the other driver?"

 

"He also died on impact. Instead of blaming him, my parents blamed the person who got Rachel the car for the accident."

 

Krycek stroked Jess's hair. "But why did he lose touch with your family after the accident?"

 

Jess's lips twitched into an ironic smile. "Who do you think bought Rachel the car?"

 

* * * * * * *

 

He had just returned from the hospital, where he paid his final respects to Tatiana Rudenko. His last, living link to his son was gone. It was time to start forging a new one, a direct one.

 

The old Russian looked up from the final report. "Are you certain?" he asked, eying the stack made up of papers, audio cassettes and video tapes.

 

"One hundred percent, sir," the aide replied with certainty and satisfaction. "I have obtained the surveillance tapes, and done some research into her family. She was told that her uncle did not know of her being involved in a section of the Project. However, this videotape proves otherwise. We are ready to consolidate the information into a more compact package for delivery."

 

"And is any information about my granddaughter included?"

 

"Yes sir. I was able to unearth some videos that document her progress. With your approval, I am ready to commission a courier to deliver the information."

 

Green eyes lost their focus, wandering in a deep thought. "I will deliver it personally," he said abstractedly.

 

"Sir?" his aide asked, surprised. "What if your son refuses to see you?"

 

The old man had already thought of that possibility. "I will deliver it in a roundabout way. It is time for my son and myself to, as Americans say, start mending fences."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Skinner sat behind his desk, half dreading his next appointment. Agent Mulder had asked to see him privately, and he had a good idea why.

 

He had heard from Jess earlier this afternoon. She had called to explain why they would be later than originally thought. She had also given him a quick and dirty briefing about her long lost uncle. Skinner knew that what he had planned would be a risk, but he felt that it was one worth taking.

 

He also wanted to try to heal the rift that had formed between Mulder and Jess. She had withheld the truth, a capital crime as far Mulder was concerned, but she had done so trying to protect her friend and ex-lover. Right now she needed as many friends as she could get.

 

There was a knock on his office door. His secretary Kim opened it. "Agent Mulder to see you sir."

 

Skinner nodded. "Show him in." Kim opened the door wider and Mulder brushed past her. "Agent Mulder, have a seat."

 

Mulder took the chair opposite Skinner and went right to the heart of the matter. "Sir, I know what happened between you, Krycek and Jess."

 

Skinner looked at his most troublesome agent. "And what does that have to do with you asking to meet with me off the record?"

 

"I need you to talk to Jess, to tell her that I forgive her. I know that Krycek suggested it and she was too desperate and lonely to risk losing him by refusing."

 

Skinner slipped before he could stop himself. "Alex did nothing of the sort."

 

"Alex?" Mulder repeated softly. His tone took on outrage and disbelief. "You're *still* sleeping with them?!?"

 

"Agent Mulder," Skinner said sharply, "who I spend my free time with is none of your concern,"

 

"It is when Krycek's involved. He's setting you up to be blackmailed by Cancerman, if you're not already in league with him." Mulder rose to storm out of the office.

 

"Agent Mulder!!! *Sit*!!! *Down*!!!" Skinner thundered. As Mulder dropped back into the chair, stunned by the sheer volume of Skinner's voice, the AD grabbed control of the situation and his emotions. "First of all, I'm going to ignore that remark about me being 'in league' with that black lunged bastard. I may have worked for him, but I *never* worked *with* him. Second, Cancerman has *more* than enough information to use as blackmail against me without having Krycek add to it. And thirdly, are you at all aware of what transpired before and after you saw Jess?"

 

"No sir," was the sullen reply.

 

Skinner decided to pull no punches. Mulder often played the martyr, forgetting that others around him also suffered as great wounds as his. "Thirty seconds before she talked to you, she found out Michael and Annie were murdered. Five minutes afterwards, she found Chloe and Boomer dead. She came to me, thinking that Krycek and Lindy were murdered, and half afraid she would find me dead also."

 

"Sir, that doesn't excuse what she did. Did she tell you?"

 

"Only that she withheld information from you. She also said she was trying to protect you."

 

"Sir, I can't believe you're defending them."

 

"I'm not defending them. She admits it wasn't a good choice, but it was the only one she could make at the time. Without going into specifics, she told me that she convinced Alex that it was better to keep the information hidden. And maybe before you judge her, you should take a good hard look at the information you've kept hidden to protect people you care about."

 

<Ouch!> Mulder thought. He still hadn't told Scully about the fact that she would probably not be able to have children, or about what Skinner had done to save her. He hadn't told his mother that he knew about her affair with Cancerman. But the same rules didn't apply the same way to him. "I can't forgive them."

 

"They're not asking you too forgive them right away. They're just asking you to try to understand. Now if you'll excuse me," Skinner said brusquely, standing, "I have to pick them up from the airport."

 

* * * * * * *

 

Again, they had accepted an airplane ride from Jess's uncle. Only this time, Jess, Krycek, and Lindy had the plane to themselves. Returning from the bathroom, Krycek lovingly looked over the only family he felt now that he had left. Lindy sprawled across the seats facing Jess, sound asleep. Jess had buried her nose in Dennis McKiernan's "The Eye of the Hunter," but was having no more success reading it than the last time she flew.

 

He sat down beside her. ~Love, we need to talk,~ he mindspoke, not wanting to disturb Lindy.

 

Jess sighed and put her book down. ~About what?~

 

~About you, me, and Walter.~ He reached over and took her hand. ~We need to figure out where we stand.~

 

Jess looked out the window. ~That's the problem. I'm not sure where I stand.~

 

Krycek let go of her hand to gently stroke her soft hair. ~You've fallen for him too, haven't you?~

 

Jess sighed. ~In a sick, Oedipal way, yes. I love you the strongest, but I do have feelings for Walter. He reminds me of a cross between you, Mulder, and Dad. I mean, he's gentle like you, but tries so hard to hide it, just like my dad did. And then he's got Mulder's tenacity and loyalty... wait a minute!~ She turned sharply to look at Krycek, but there was nothing accusatory in her glance. "Did you say 'too'?" she whispered out loud.

 

~Yes, I did.~ Krycek pulled her in close. Jess nestled against his shoulder. ~You are my lifemate, and will always be. I have developed feelings for Walter, for the same reasons you mentioned, but they are no where near as strong as what I feel for you. If it ever comes down to a choice between you and him, there is no choice.~

 

Jess snuggled against him tighter. ~Same here, Alex. But what do we do? Just watch and wait to find out how he feels?~

 

~I think that may be the wisest thing to do,~ Krycek answered. ~He may be under orders to continue sleeping with us. But somehow, I think that if he didn't want to, he wouldn't.~

 

A gleam of humor appeared in Jess's eye, the first one in a long time. ~Why wouldn't he want to sleep with us? We're a pair of sluts who can't get enough.~

 

Krycek chuckled. "Jess!" he quietly admonished. ~Of course, he's hurting over Sharon. Maybe that is why he's staying with us.~

 

~Could be,~ Jess shrugged. ~I guess we should just watch and wait.~

 

* * * * * * *

 

Before taking them back to the condo, Skinner decided to spring two surprises he had on Jess, Krycek, and Lindy. He had thought long and hard about his plans, and decided that this would be the best way to do things. He may end up dead, but he would die with a clear conscience.

 

Under the pretense of having to pick up something, Skinner brought them to a neat two story house. While he was unlocking the door, a muffled noise could be heard coming from the inside. Once they opened the door, the first thing they saw was a large box on a coffee table.

 

Lindy looked at it with undisguised curiosity. There was another muffled squeak from its general direction. "What's that?"

 

Jess and Krycek shrugged their shoulders, clearly not knowing. "Why don't you open it and find out?" Skinner suggested.

 

Lindy walked to the coffee table. "What did you get her?" Jess whispered as the girl knelt.

 

"You'll see," Skinner whispered back. He watched intently as Lindy lifted the lid to the box, uncertain how his gift would be received. He hadn't spent much time around children and Lindy was so skittish, he wasn't sure that the girl would understand that he just wanted to be friends.

 

He need not have worried. Lindy lifted the lid and gasped in delight. She lifted an eight week old calico kitten from a nest of newspapers. "Is she mine?" Lindy asked, rubbing her cheek against the squirming kitten.

 

"Yes," Skinner said. "If you want her. I'll bet she's really thirsty. Why don't you take her into the kitchen and get her some water."

 

"Sure," Lindy said. "Thank you." She hesitantly approached the AD and hugged him.

 

Jess smiled. "Yes, thank you, Walter." She kissed his cheek.

 

Krycek also kissed his other cheek. "That was very sweet of you, tough guy. Now we just need to find a place to live. There is no way we're going back to that condo."

 

Now for Skinner's other surprise. "Why not live here?"

 

"Here?" Jess looked around at the spacious living room. "Are you asking us to move in with you, Walter?"

 

"Not exactly," Skinner said. "This is where Sharon and I lived while we were married. I got the house in the settlement, but couldn't stay here alone. As much as I hated seeing it empty, I never got around to selling it. I was thinking that you may want to rent it. I'd still keep my apartment, but would occasionally spend the night, if you'll let me." His brown eyes regarded them somberly. "But before you say anything, there is something you should know."

 

Jess and Krycek looked at each other worriedly. They both crossed the room silently and sat down on the couch. Skinner sat down on the chair opposite of them. And much to their surprise, he put his head in his hands.

 

Skinner sat there silently for several minutes. Then he found the courage to speak. "I told you that I was supposed to have sex with you Krycek." He paused to see their silent nods. "Those were my original orders. However, they changed when Jess took the tape from Cancerman."

 

Krycek paled. ~Here we go.~ One of the things they had finally discussed was Skinner's possible motivations for an ongoing intimate relationship with them. He shot a sideways glance at Jess. "Changed how, Walter?"

 

"There is something you need to know first." Skinner still hadn't looked at either of them. "Did you know that Agent Scully has potentially fatal cancer that is currently in remission?"

 

Both Jess and Krycek shook their heads. But a thought occurred to Krycek. "Is it related to her abduction?" he asked with a swallow.

 

Skinner nodded and Krycek looked down, ashamed. Jess put an arm around Krycek and reached for Skinner, but he had placed himself out of her reach. "What does that have to do with now?"

 

"After he found out, Agent Mulder came to me and begged me to set up a meeting with the Cigarette Smoking Man. I refused, unwilling to put him in a position where he would have to sacrifice himself to save Agent Scully's life."

 

That was enough for Jess and Krycek to guess what his new orders were. "Oh God, Walter," Jess breathed. "And then you offered yourself as the sacrifice."

 

"And you were told to spy on us after gaining our trust," Krycek said without rancor.

 

Skinner nodded his head, still cradled in his hands. "Yes," was all he said. He heard the two of them stand and walk towards him. <This is it,> he thought. <I'm not going to rot in some prison cell, framed by Cancerman. I'm not going to be shot execution style by some nameless assassin. I'm about to die at the fangs of these two werewolves.>

 

Skinner heard the lighter of the two treads walk behind the chair. He felt Jess's hands go to either side of his neck. He stiffened, waiting for her to throttle him. But instead they began a gentle massage. But he still flinched when he felt her warm breath besides his ear. "Why are you telling us this, Walter?"

 

He started to turn to face her, but with a gentle pressure, she forced his head back to its original position. "Jess, Alex, those bastards put you through so much in the last few days, I thought you should hear if from a friend instead of an enemy."

 

Now he felt Krycek's breath in his other ear. "The whole truth, Walter. Tell us everything. They won't be happy with us knowing. Why are you revealing this to us?"

 

Skinner shuddered. He could feel the weight of Jess's breasts lightly resting his shoulder blades and Krycek's hands lightly caressing his upper thighs. The initial fear was giving away to arousal. "Because my orders didn't include falling in love with both of you," he moaned.

 

~I knew it, love,~ Jess mindspoke to Krycek. ~Shall you tell him or I?~

 

But Krycek was already speaking. "And we didn't intend to love you either, Walter. But it's happened."

 

Skinner was still wondering if he had heard correctly when Krycek's lips closed on his. Then he felt Jess's lips millimeters from his ear again. "Thank you for being honest with us, Walter. We love you too, and we'll just deal with things one day, and one night, at a time." Her lips gently brushed the top of his head.

 

Skinner pulled away from Krycek's kisses to ask a question. "You're not going to kill me?"

 

He could feel Jess lightly trace her fingertips across his skull, wiping away a few tears of hers that had fallen on him. Krycek answered for them both. "Walter, we've lost so much in the last few days, we can't bear to lose another loved one."

 

Skinner relaxed and let Krycek and Jess kiss and nuzzle him. He had told them the truth out of a desire to protect them and without a thought for his own safety. He hadn't expected neither Jess nor Krycek to be this caring towards him after he had come clean. For the first time in many years, he felt loved and protected at the same time.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Static filled the screen of the television. Mulder and Scully looked at each other. The unspoken question was clear - 'Now what do we do?'

 

Four hours ago, a stranger had shown up on their doorstep. Scully had answered the knock, Mulder standing behind her. "May we help you?" Scully asked the old gentleman.

 

"I sincerely hope so." There was a slight Russian accent to the voice, one that had almost been eliminated through years of speaking English. "I have some information that is of some interest to some friends of yours. My son, to be exact."

 

Mulder's brow knitted. "Do I know you or your son?"

 

The old man smiled. "My name is Dmitri Krychekov."

 

"As in Krycek? You're Krycek's father?" Mulder asked, incredulous.

 

"Although Alexi would probably say that it has been years since I've acted like one, yes. But I am not here to discuss my family history. I would greatly appreciate if you could get this box," he gestured to a cardboard box, the kind used to store or transport files, beside him, "into Alexi's possession."

 

Mulder was trying to figure out why he was being used as a messenger boy. "And why don't you give it to them directly?"

 

The old man sighed deeply. Krychekov looked truly saddened. "My son would not accept anything from my hand. If you ever loved Jessica Leahs, Agent Mulder, you will give this information to her. And if you can't do it for her, do it for my innocent granddaughter."

 

"I know one thing they would gladly accept from you," Scully said. "Why don't you simply just return Amanda to Jess and Krycek?"

 

Krychekov smiled sadly. "I wish I could, but I have very little influence in that part of the Project. I have been trying unsuccessfully to locate where she is being kept. Like my coconspirators, I am only human. We're not omnipotent, like you seem to credit Us and our creations as being. Leahs is mortal, not infallible. She thought she was doing the best thing. And I know the pain that foolish pride can bring. I haven't spoken to my son in almost six years. Do not let that happen to you, Agent Mulder." And with those simple words of warning, Krychekov left, never looking back to see if they picked up the box.

 

After bringing the box inside, Mulder and Scully reviewed the information that Krychekov had left. Parts of it made no sense. What was so important about the video of Michael's and Annie's outdoor wedding that it would be included with a still of Jess and Covarrubias talking, audio feed of Covarrubias being briefed by Well Manicured Man, her contacting a no-name pawn to scare Jess's brother into silencing her and of the Well Manicured Man intercepting the flunky changing those orders to a professional hit? But the last twenty minutes of the video tape needed no explanation. Even without the close up of the child's green eyes and dark hair, the baby crawling towards a coaxing nurse, sitting and laughing in the playpen, and sleeping peacefully in a crib was clearly Amanda.

 

Jess and Krycek had been right about one thing. Covarrubias could not be trusted. Mulder had called her and if she had seen Jess recently, if there had been any change in the Consortium's stance towards her or her family or if there was any signs of the child she was 'helping' them find. The UN worker had said that she hadn't seen Jess, there had been no actions taken towards her, that none were planned, and there was no sign of the baby. And Mulder felt sickened when Covarrubias suggested in a sultry voice that he 'come' over and they 'discuss' the case the rest of the night.

 

"Now what?" Scully asked, sitting cross legged on the couch.

 

"Covarrubias was the one who told me about my mother and Cancerman. It's obvious that I can't trust her." Mulder left his place beside her and ejected the tape. He stared at the blank screen. Jess deserved the information, but he couldn't face her quite yet. He was still too wounded to think about forgiving her. It's almost midnight, Dana. I'm too tired to think straight. Let's just sleep on it."

 

* * * * * * *

 

No matter how hard she tried, Jess couldn't sleep. It wasn't the fact that she was spending the first night in her new home. It wasn't the fact that she was distraught over the events of the last two weeks. Some instinct kept telling her that someone was near, that some*thing* was in the house.

 

The house wasn't empty by any means. Krycek and Skinner were in bed beside her, Lindy in the next bedroom with Patches, her new kitten, curled up besides her.

 

Realizing that she wasn't going to get a good night's rest, she slid out of the bed and wandered downstairs to the kitchen. She flipped on a light and then bit back a scream of surprise at the sight of the ghost of her dead sister sitting at the table. Despite having experienced several similar visitations, she still felt scared shitless in surprise when Rachel turned up unexpectedly.

 

Rachel smiled at her. "It's about time you came down here. I was afraid I would have to wait all night." She gestured towards a chair placed in front of a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

 

Jess sat down on the other chair. "Have you seen Michael and Annie?" she asked, taking a drink.

 

"Yes. I was there to help ease their passing into the beyond. They send their love, Jessie. And I know you've also seen Uncle."

 

Jess nodded and turned the cup of chocolate side to side, staring into it. "He said he would find out who killed them."

 

"Jessie, do not trust him." Rachel's voice carried the tones of an older sister warning her younger sibling not to paw through her stuff.

 

Jess looked at the shade of her beloved sister. "He's helping us, Rachel."

 

"No, he's helping himself, and using you to do it." Rachel looked at Jess sadly. "Don't look to our family for comfort. And as odd as it sounds, look to your lifemate's."

 

Jess sat up. "Alex hasn't been on good terms with his father since he was a child. We aren't even sure if he's alive or not."

 

"That doesn't matter, Jessie. All that matters is this - do not trust any of our living blood family."

 

Jess shifted uneasily at her sister's stern warning. "And what about Walter?"

 

"You can trust your new lover. I have to admit it, sis, I didn't think that you'd be so flexible when it comes to bed partners."

 

Jess smiled and blushed a bit. "Neither did I." She was curious about something. "Are you going to show yourself to him?"

 

Rachel shook her head. "I'm not planning to. He has his hands full enough with your lycanthropy without having to deal with another guardian spirit also."

 

Jess looked at Rachel confused. "Another?"

 

"He has to explain that to you." Rachel had started to fade, becoming more transparent with each word. "But remember what I said. Do not trust our uncle." And then she was gone.

 

Jess still stared at where Rachel had stood for several minutes. When there was no further sign of the woman in white, Jess sighed. <I wish she would show up at a happy time in my life,> she thought as she got up from the table.

 

On her way out of the kitchen, Jess felt a furry warmth brush past her bare feet. Patches rubbed her legs in a feline greeting. "What are you doing out here? You were curled up with Lindy." Lindy didn't like sleeping with an open door, so Patches had been shut in for the night with her. "Don't tell me we'll have to change your name to Mystery the Second," Jess said, remembering fondly her old cat's Houdini-like abilities. She scooped up the ball of fluff and cradled it to her chest. Patches began a contented rumble. "Little purrslut," Jess chided. "You'll purr for anyone anytime." She climbed the stairs and went to return the kitten to Lindy.

 

The door to Lindy's bedroom was ajar. <That's odd,> Jess thought. <She normally can't sleep when the door is cracked like that.> But it explained how Patches got out. Jess pushed the door wider open, intending to deposit the kitten inside the room. However she froze at the sight of Lindy's bed.

 

Lindy's empty bed.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Lindy wound her way through the maze of the apartment complex with the ease of a predator stalking its kill. She kept alert for signs of anyone following her, easier to do in wolf form than human. Lindy wanted no interruptions before she had reached her goal. Part of her did feel a bit guilty about sneaking out and knew that Jess would be furious if she found out, but Lindy didn't care enough to turn back.

 

She found what she had been searching for. In a few seconds, the golden adolescent werewolf had Changed back into a normal looking human girl, dressed in jeans and a tee shirt. Lindy checked the address once again and knocked.

 

It took several repeated rounds of knocking at the door before Lindy heard the sound of someone moving on the other side. Scully, wearing a terry cloth robe, opened the door. "Lindy? What are you doing here? It's three am!" she exclaimed as she let the young girl inside.

 

Blue eyes that looked much older than they should regarded Scully seriously. "I gotta talk to Mr. Mulder, please."

 

Mulder had appeared, also wearing a robe. "What's so important, Lindy?" he asked, sitting down on the couch.

 

Lindy hunched down on a chair at a right angle to the couch. "Why won't you forgive Jess?" she demanded.

 

Both Mulder and Scully started. "Lindy, how much do you know about this?" Mulder asked.

 

Lindy shrugged. "Jess told me that she made a bad choice. She didn't tell you something that she should have the moment she found out about it. She told me you were mad at her because you found out. She didn't tell me any details." Lindy looked at Mulder. "Why can't you forgive her? She's really sorry and really miserable."

 

"Lindy, it's not that simple..." Mulder began. He was interrupted by a furious pounding on the door.

 

Scully opened it to a very shaken looking Jess. Skinner stood hovering behind her, looking concerned. "Lindy!" she shrieked, and ran to the child. "Don't you *ever* sneak out on me like that again." She pulled Lindy to her in a fierce embrace. She looked like she would never let Lindy go.

 

"Jess, I'm sorry, but I had to do *something*," Lindy defended. "You've been trying to apologize and he's acting like a son of a..."

 

"Lindy!" Jess said sharply, fixing her with a steely glare. "This is between me and Mulder." Her face softened. "I know you want to help, but on this one you can't. We'll talk about it when we get home."

 

Lindy nodded and stood up. Jess took her hand. "I'm really sorry about Lindy showing up like this. I'm also really sorry about what I've done, Dana, Mulder," she said, looking at each person she named.

 

Scully nodded acknowledgement, but Mulder refused to even look at Jess. Jess looked at the ground and turned back to Skinner, who was still by Scully in the doorway. "C'mon, Lindy," she said, eyes downcast.

 

She brushed past Scully and Skinner and into the hallway. Skinner also turned to leave when he heard Mulder's voice. "Sir, may I have a word with you please?"

 

Jess turned to look at Skinner. He dug into the pocket of his trench coat and handed her his cell phone and keys. "Wait in the car and call Alex about Lindy," he said, forgetting that she probably had already let Krycek know, using her mindpowers. Jess nodded and led Lindy on their way.

 

He turned back to Mulder and Scully. "Yes, Agent Mulder?" he inquired. But Mulder had gotten up and went into the bedroom. Skinner looked at Scully. She shrugged her shoulders.

 

Skinner was just about to leave when Mulder returned, carrying the box Krychekov had left with them earlier. "Tell her I forgive her, but I can't see her just yet," Mulder said, offering Skinner the package of documents, audio tapes, photos and videos. "I can't say when I will, but I can say that I will. And if half this information is correct, I do understand what she will do. And I don't blame her."

 

Skinner nodded as he took the box. "I'll let her know." Then he left, following Jess down the hallway.

 

Scully closed the door and turned to Mulder. "Are Jess and Skinner having an affair?" she demanded.

 

Mulder did his best to feign ignorance. "What makes you say that, Dana?"

 

Scully listed off the items. "One, he was with her at three am, not Krycek. Two, I saw the way he looked at her. Three, you're trying to act like you noticed nothing out of the ordinary, but you obviously know something. So answer my question - is she cheating on Krycek by sleeping with Skinner?"

 

Mulder sighed. Maybe it was time to tell her about Jess and Krycek and Skinner. But that also meant revealing the truth about why she was here, warm and alive, instead of in a grave, cold and dead. "I can honestly say that Jess isn't cheating on Krycek or vice versa. But as for the other part..." he trailed off.

 

Scully's eyes widened. "Jess and Krycek *and* Skinner?!? But... *why*??" she sputtered at Mulder's confirming nod.

 

Mulder took her hands in his large, warm ones. "That's a long story, Dana. It will take the rest of the night to explain."

 

"Fox, we have all the time in the world," Scully responded.

 

<Do we?> Mulder thought. There was always a possibility of her cancer returning. But now he needed to explain how it went into remission in the first place. Mulder led her back to the couch and prepared to tell her the whole story.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krycek watched Jess worriedly from the bottom of the stairs. Jess had refused to go back to sleep when she and Skinner brought Lindy home. Instead, she had dove into the box and pulled out the video She was watching it over and over again. That in and of itself didn't worry Krycek. He planned to watch parts of it over and over with her, to memorize the image of their missing daughter. But this was different. Jess was rewatching images of her dead family and clearly obsessing over the sight of her brother.

 

He finally decided that enough was enough. He walked over to Jess and stood in front of the TV. "Jess, come on upstairs. You're overtired and need some sleep."

 

Jess shook her head. "There's got to be something important on this tape," she muttered.

 

Krycek took the remote from her hand that clutched it. "There is, but you're not going to see it if you're half asleep. And we have the files and audio tape to search through. You need to be wide awake to find anything."

 

Jess sighed and closed her eyes. "Okay," she said. She stood up and walked over to the VCR. She was so tired, she missed hitting the stop key and hit pause again. She glanced at the screen and froze. She knelt down and stared closer at the screen.

 

Now Krycek was really worried. He had almost convinced her to come upstairs, and now she was focused on the screen again. "Jess?"

 

"The lying son of a bitch," she whispered. Her voice grew as her fury did. "He lied to me. The bastard *knew* the whole *damn* time!"

 

Her lifemate looked at her puzzled. "Jess, who knew what?"

 

"*He* *knew* *everything*!!!" she screamed, pointing a shaking finger at a figure on the screen. The videographer had panned the crowd at the outdoor wedding. In the background, one figure could be seen clearly standing away from the group. And even at that distance, it was easy to recognize the Well Manicured Man aloofly watching the happy couple and the sister/sister-in-law/bridesmaid.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Scully sat quietly besides Mulder, absorbing everything she had been told. She was in shock over what Skinner had done for her and amazed at the depth of love that Jess and Krycek shared to allow their part to happen.

 

"Dana?" Mulder asked softly. He was worried by her silence.

 

"Fox, I wish you had told me this a lot sooner," she said slowly. She laid a hand on his. "But I forgive you for withholding the full truth from me."

 

Mulder mentally winced at her words. That was the exact same thing he had accused Jess of doing. He stared out the window of their apartment, watching the first flush of sunrise. <Why can't I let Jess off as easily?>

 

He didn't realize he had spoken his thought aloud until Scully answered him. "Because you're angry at your mother, but don't think you have the permission to express it. Jess is just a convenient target, a substitute."

 

There was a truth to her words. Mulder laughed quietly. "I though I was the psychologist here. And is Krycek a substitute for that smoking bastard?"

 

"No, you're really pissed at Krycek. And Jess, but you're making her the head villain when she was a pawn doing what she thought was best."

 

Mulder nodded. "I'll have a long talk with her when she gets back from New York."

 

Scully looked up, confused. "She's going to New York?"

 

"If I know her, she's going to displace some of her own anger on Covarrubias. But she won't go after Covarrubias's superior, at least not yet."

 

* * * * * * *

 

As Covarrubias once again left the UN Building late at night, she scanned the surrounding area. Assured that no one was in the shadows waiting to jump her, she started cautiously towards the parking garage to retrieve her car and go home.

 

Then she heard a low woof. It was answered with two soft barks and followed by snarls. Covarrubias peered into the darkness. She saw a gleam of light reflected off blue eyes to her right. Glancing to her left, she could make out the vague shape of a black and white husky. And she heard the scritch of a dog's nails coming from the darkness in front of her.

 

Stepping into the light, the werewolves paced forward, stalking her from three different directions. Covarrubias drew her gun and aimed at first the white and black male, then the solid black female, and then the smaller gold female. If she shot one, the others would attack, so she backed slowly the way the wolves were herding her. She was so intent on the trio following her, she backed right into the tall man in the trench coat. "What are you doing here?" she asked, looking at the Well Manicured Man.

 

He smiled, and the blond shivered. "Just checking in. You haven't made a report recently."

 

"There has been nothing to report," she said.

 

"Except the fact that Agent Mulder is aware of his true family now. And the fact that Leahs's family is dead and her home desecrated. And the fact that you arranged it all." He lifted a hand to silence her protest. "Don't lie to me by trying to deny it. You made a few too many amateurish mistakes when they threatened you. You struck back too hard."

 

"I didn't order Leahs's brother killed, just to be threatened. His death was an accident." Covarrubias defended.

 

Her eye's widened at the lies mixed with the truth in his next statements. "But you did tell Agent Mulder about his true heritage, and of Leahs's knowledge of it. You came to me for advice." That was the truth. "You ignored my orders to leave well enough alone, that she would be dealt with in other ways. You overstated the threat that they are to Us." That was the lie.

 

The werewolves circled around her and were now crouched at Well Manicured Man's feet, preparing to spring. Covarrubias gathered her composure. "You won't let them kill me. If they move against one of Us, their daughter will suffer the consequences. Her life now depended on the predators paternal instincts. "They have no friends among Us to shield their precious Amanda."

 

The three werewolves were grinning and drooling in anticipation now, the soft growls growing in volume and intensity. Well Manicured Man looked at them with an indulgent smile. He rested a hand lightly on the shoulders of the black female. "You should learn from my niece. She knows when and how to play her hand." He then turned and walked away.

 

Covarrubias looked at the werewolves in horror. She had been set up and was now about to be disposed of. "He lied. I didn't order your brother to be killed," she whispered as the carnivores advanced. "He was supposed to be warned, that's all." But the wolves were implacable. She turned to run.

 

She didn't get any further than two steps. Lindy attacked first, hamstringing Covarrubias's right leg. Without letting go, Lindy twisted her jaws, making the blond fall on her back instead of stomach.

 

Krycek pounced next. He straddled Covarrubias, reared back, lunged forward, and bit just below her left shoulder, ivory fangs shearing through flesh and bone. Her screams reminded him of his when his arm was hacked off. Only his were bitter in his throat, her's sweet in his ears.

 

When Krycek backed away, Jess picked up where he left off. Her claws tapped just below Covarrubias's navel, and then gouged into her belly. She slit up to the sternum and yanked out the still beating heart. Jess sat back on her haunches and growled in satisfaction as her claws pierced the bloody organ she held in her fist. Then the three began to tear at the body the way they would a deer they had brought down, working out all their fear and anger and hatred and frustration.

 

The Well Manicured Man never looked back as the werewolves savaged the body. His associates would not be pleased when they found out that yet another flunky had been found out and dealt with, but they would have to accept with it. In this world, it was a part of life that sacrifices must be made. And if his niece were to become loyal to him out of gratitude, this was one sacrifice he would willingly condone.

 

Even if he hadn't been the one who told her that Covarrubias had 'caused' her such anguish.

 

He was puzzled though. Only because he had someone watching her did he know she was about to move against Covarrubias. How Jess figured out who had carried out the orders that resulted in the death of her family did cause him some concern. If she continued to think and act independently, that would be a problem. Another sacrifice might have to be made. He would regret it because he did have a genuine affection for his niece, but the Consortium's protection came first.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Krychekov watched the video of the assassination by werewolf with a grim satisfaction. He noticed with a trace of disappointment that neither Jess nor his son turned on the Well Manicured Man after they had finished with Covarrubias. <They must be intending to try to manipulate him into revealing where Amanda is,> he thought approvingly. It was a plan that spoke of maturity and cunning and patience, one that he would have implemented himself.

 

The violent pounding on his study door started him. "Sir?" called the excited voice of his aide.

 

"Come in." The young man almost tore the door off its hinges in his eagerness to get inside. "What is it?"

 

Triumph shone in the aide's eyes, revealing his apparent greenness to this world of intrigue and power. "I have located your granddaughter!"

 

* * * * * * *

 

Jess and Krycek sat outside on the back porch, stealing a quiet moment together. They talked over all the recent changes in their lives, from Krycek becoming a werewolf again through their recent actions.

 

"Rachel was right," Jess said. "Uncle can't be trusted." She sighed and looked at her feet. "Do you have any idea who really gave us the information? Was it Cancerman? Mulder? Dana?"

 

"I don't know, Jess." Krycek looked up into the star lit sky. "Maybe we'll find out, and find Amanda, someday."

 

Jess leaned her head against his shoulder. Krycek kissed her hair and put an arm around her waist. They stayed that way until Lindy and Skinner came out searching for them. The older man and the girl had just gotten back from getting take-out and a movie for them to enjoy. "Are you guys going to stay out here all night?" Lindy asked exasperated that they hadn't moved for the half hour they had been gone.

 

Jess lifted her head from Krycek's shoulder as they turned to face the pair. "Maybe," she said with a grin.

 

"Well," Skinner said. "The pizza's here, so if you two want any, get your butts inside."

 

Krycek stood up, mumbling something under his breath about how werewolves shouldn't take orders from any human, no matter how good he was in bed, but Jess remained sitting. "You coming?" he asked.

 

"Tonight if I'm lucky." Jess ducked the half-aimed swat at her head. "Give me a few minutes, okay?"

 

"Okay," Krycek said. "But don't blame me if you get stuck with the anchovies." He turned and walked into the house with Skinner and Lindy.

 

Jess sighed and looked back up at the night sky. <I'll make it up to you, Mulder,> she thought. <I'll do whatever it takes to earn your forgiveness. And, soon, I'll find you, Amanda. And when I do, we'll all be together again like it should be.>

 

She stood up and dusted herself off. Not really paying attention, she wandered back inside.

 

"Jess? You okay?" she heard a concerned voice ask. Mulder's voice.

 

Jess stopped short, not believing her ears. Yes, Mulder was standing before her, his face sorrowful. She could see Scully standing in the background along with Krycek, Lindy and Skinner. "Mulder," she said, her eyes tearing. "I'm so sorry I didn't tell you," she whispered as she started to cry.

 

Mulder crossed over to her and put his arms around her in a brotherly embrace. "I know, hell beast. I forgive you." He took a ragged breath.

"And about how I reacted, I'm sorry too."

 

Krycek wasn't the only one who sighed in relief. Jess and Mulder held each other, swaying and whispering apologies and accepting their blame. He heard Lindy's mindvoice ask a question puzzledly. ~Alex, are we all a family again?~

 

He squeezed Lindy's shoulder. ~We always were, Lindy,~ he mindspoke back. ~And we always will be.~