Title: Yehudit's Tale
Author: MJ
Fandom: XF Pairing: WMM/K
Rating: PG-13
Archive: Allslash, X/ , or ask me
Spoilers: FTF (slight)
Summary: Alex's mother talks to an old friend Part of the "Cornerstone" series with Merri-Todd

"Yehudit's Tale"
by MJ

(Now Pharaoh's daughter went down to bathe in the river, while her maids walked along the riverside. Among the reeds she noticed the basket, and she sent her maid to fetch it. She opened it and saw the child; the baby was crying. Feeling sorry for it, she said, "This is one of the little Hebrews."
The child's sister then said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and find you a nurse among the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?" "Yes," said Pharaoh's daughter, and the girl went out and called the child's own mother. Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse it for me. I shall pay you myself for doing so." So the woman took the child away and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, who treated him like a son; she named him Moses "because," she said, "I drew him out of the sea." Exodus 2:v-x, NJB)

For Merri-Todd.

* * * * *

Ah, my friend, it is good to see you. It has been far too long. This is not much like Somerset, is it? I've not seen Geneva in years. When I found the plane ticket and a note with a telephone number and passcode in my son's handwriting, I said, "Ah, Svetlana, it is just like old times." But I never expected to see you of all people at the other end of the flight. I had heard -- yes, the explosion. All of us had heard. Teena Mulder, they tell me, was quite unmoved, but consider her friends. I had thought that smoking fool of a lover of hers had finally gotten to you, just as he tried to do with my son.

So Sascha works for you now. That pleases me. He could not have done better. Spender, that smoking madman, is a crisis waiting to happen, and I have always said so. Always. How Teena Mulder could have ever -- oh, let's not even talk of it; it's far too unpleasant a thought. There are far better things we have to discuss. Tea? Yes, please. I hope it's strong; I'm a Russian, not one of you soft Westerners. That's a joke, dear. Yes, I know you knew it was.

I saw my boy a few weeks ago. He dropped in on his way between... well, between. He didn't tell me what you had him doing, and I knew better than to ask. You'll tell me if you want me to know. He looked very good, I must tell you. He's changed a great deal since he came to work for you. Oleg and I -- the Party put us both through school, you know; my family were laborers.
And in the States, we put Sascha through college because we were teaching college; we'd never have afforded it if the college or the Consortium hadn't covered the expenses. Of course, the Consortium still took care of its own back then -- back before Spender started having members poaching from their own families, back before he turned us all against each other in his own bid for power.

But -- where was I? Oleg and I gave Sascha everything we could, but certain things we could not give him, you understand, because we did not have them ourselves. I can break down the molecular structure of anything and reassemble it, but what fork to use? How to dress? Music -- music Sascha understood. I played the piano a bit, and Oleg's father was a cellist, you know, in Budapest. But beyond that? You cannot give what you do not have. You, my old friend -- you have given him everything that his mother here wishes she could have given him herself. I don't mean the money; you know that. And to think that he is moving into power -- that like you, he has the opportunity to block that smoking barbarian...

A beautiful view of the lake, I agree. Yes, another biscuit. Your cook is Swiss? Of course. I will go to the kitchen later. Chicken Kiev, borscht, blini, pioroshki -- I think I will teach her to cook while I am visiting. When Sascha gets here, we will surprise him with a Russian dinner, and you will see his face when your cook serves him mama's borscht.

You know, tovarisch, I am not a fool. And my eyes have always worked very well indeed. I remember back at Myrtle Beach, watching you looking over all of the lovely young men on the beach in the summers, and I remember how you looked at Teena Mulder's boy that summer his voice -- and everything else -- changed. And I know my son. He was a lovely, chubby little thing as a boy, but he grew into one of the lovely young men on the beach himself. With his own eye on the other lovely young men. When he was at the FBI, you know... he and Teena's son... yes, of course you knew. I had hoped... once... but Spender managed to ruin that for both of them, just the way he's always tries to ruin everyone's lives. He is miserable, though he'd never admit it, so everyone else has to suffer.

The thing is, my dear, Sascha hasn't said anything to me, but I would be a total fool if I didn't realize that there was something more going on with the two of you than your simply teaching Sascha the business. I know that this is so. Don't even bother to look embarrassed, my friend. Sascha's a grown man; it's his business, not mine, as long as he's happy. I'm an old woman now; I've seen a great many things in a great many places. I can hardly claim to be scandalized.

No, don't do that. I told you not to bother looking embarrassed; don't try apologizing to me either. I'm an old woman, and one of the prerogatives of old age, as you certainly ought to know yourself, is that you can finally have the luxury of speaking freely. His heart's still broken about the business with Teena's son, but it's perfectly obvious to me that he loves you. The poor boy started blushing and closing his eyes every time he mentioned your name, you know. Yes, of course; I'm perfectly serious.

And as for you, there's no fool like an old fool. You're in love with Sascha yourself, and don't tell me you're not. The least you could do is stop looking like death every time anyone mentions that Fox Mulder in the same breath as Sascha. And keeping those boys of yours back in London was one thing -- yes, of course I knew about that business -- but that's not exactly what you've been doing with Sascha, is it?

I thanked you before for giving him what his father and I couldn't, but what you've been doing, you know, is playing Pygmalion. Turning Sascha not just into a man who understands why the Project must fail, why Spender has to be stopped... but into your companion, not just a temporary diversion. Don't try telling me you took all of those shop clerks and tailors' assistants to the opera with you... or that you let yourself be photographed at museum events or at public hunts with them. You know you didn't.

No more than you taught any of them to tell Handel from Vivaldi, or Cabernet from Beaujolais, or Renoir from Degas, or Worth from Balenciaga, did you? Tell me all you like that Sascha had to learn culture to understand the need for the survival of civilization -- you still had to turn him into someone who cares about the same things that you do, who shares the same interests, the same values, in the process. That's not a bad thing, of course. But it makes him into someone who interests you, as well. Because he has his own ideas, his own opinions; he's learned from you, but he's not your exact mirror.

He's been good for you, hasn't he? Someone you could show all of this to, someone who could argue back, someone else who could also talk about the Project, who could work on it with you.

He's been a good son to me, as well. I'm proud of him. As you must be.

Take care of him for me, eh? For your old friend Svetlana? Hurt one hair on his head, my old friend, and you know I will kill you myself.

Ah, you were going to introduce me to your cook. She must learn to make borscht and piroshki before Sascha comes back next week. Then we will eat and have a party. Just like the old days in Myrtle Beach.

And then, I think, these old bones could use a nap before dinner, if you don't mind. The kitchen is this way? Until later, then. Das vidanya, tovarisch.