Mene, Mene, Tekel, Uparshin

A "Cornerstone" story (Alex/WMM)
by MJ

For Merri Todd.
Spoilers for the movie, 2F/1S
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As I was told, he did indeed call. Believing my mentor, his co-conspirator and chief opponent, dead, suddenly the man who tried to kill me wants me back. Why? To try to kill me again? To try to find out what my mentor had told me of the conspiracy?

I leave the chateau, conscious as always that it may be for the last time. He risks riding to the airport with me; the windows of the limousine are darkened, and we cannot be seen. His hand rests possessively on my knee during the trip; I make no effort to move it. I have been his employee... his student... his lover, finally; the latter far more unexpected and far more gratifying than either of us could have imagined. It is, I suppose, a peculiar relationship that exists between us, and once I would have thought the very existence of it demeaning. But I know better now than to believe that; I know better, because for the first time in my life I am voluntarily in a relationship which has centered around my own emotions and not around merely relieving the ache in my groin.

The driver pulls up at the doors to the boarding area. Before exiting, however, I turn to the man who has given me the power to confront, and, I hope, to destroy, the man who wanted me dead. He casts an eye over me -- over my tailoring, then my features, as if memorizing me should I fail to return. Finally, pleased, he nods in evident approval. He reaches out, cups my cheek in his hand. "My dear Alex..." I lean into the gesture and kiss him, kiss him deeply, as if it is the last kiss I will ever share with anyone.

I break the kiss reluctantly, my hand on his elegantly clad shoulder. I press my cheek to his. The faint tang of bay rum. "I love you. And... thank you."

He draws away, looks into my face, blinking away a tear I pretend I can't see. "My dear boy, I..." A brief embrace, weak but suggestive of the power his body must once have held. "Oh, Alex." A rueful partial smile. "This is your game now, dear boy. Your only choice is to play it to win. You'll come see me again at the end of the round." I nod, fighting back a tear of my own, exit the limo, feel for my ticket to New York.

Spender looks at me as if he's never seen me before. Perhaps he never really has. I'm a player now; he knows I worked for the presumed dearly departed; he knows I've done his work, and he knows I have his money. Greeting me as an equal obviously galls him, and I enjoy the hell out of it. You don't know the half of it, old man, but your sorry ass is gonna find out before I'm done. He doesn't know what to make of me -- tailored suit, silk shirt with no tie, clean fingernails -- I'm not his little thug any more, I'm a partner, and he hates it. Because I know him and I know his dirty little secrets. Even the ones he keeps from his so-called friends.

He deals me into the game right away, has me run the meeting with the elders along with him, pretending to show me off. The elders aren't comfortable, and there's no reason they should be. I'm half their age, have all of their secrets, and they know I know some things that they don't. My right to be among them is indisputable, which makes it better than several of their claims. The mantle draped over my shoulders by my mentor is far too visible to all of them.

Damn the smoking bastard; he still thinks he's got enough slack to jerk my leash, does he? He's in for a round of personal discovery, I think. My mentor's knowledge, my tactics... let me just make Spender suffer for it, hmm? A little suffering's good for the soul, I keep hearing. Let's see if he has one.

I lie in bed in the hotel room, alone. It would be easy to do what I've always done, go out, find myself some company for the night that either does or doesn't look too much like Fox Mulder. I can afford now to rent it if I want to; there are plenty of services only too happy to find a man with enough cash some six-foot tall, slender, brown-haired company who won't ask questions if you call them by the wrong name in bed. For an extra fee, they'll stay till breakfast, and it saves the work of going out and looking for a lay for the night. I don't bother this time. I'm too lonely for a pair of silk pajamas beside me, a faint snore against my ear, the scent of lavender bath salts, the touch of hands against my skin, infinitely gentle, surprised that I respond to them as I do; a whispered "you beautiful boy" in my ear as I shudder against the man whose hands are bringing me that pleasure.

Spender thinks he can use me as a flunky still, huh? I think I'll let him do that. Not only will I hear his plans, but I'll be able to ruin what I please. A flunky, as I know so well, can become much closer to a man than his equals can. I'll drive him around, of course. I'll play chauffeur and gofer on this trip. Keep my own mouth shut and listen to him talk until my opening arrives. Then... he's a dead man. Maybe not a corpse, but a dead man. As if he isn't already, now that I've targeted him. The writing, as they say, is on the wall.

Such a challenging assignment. Driving Spender's son to a house in Maryland, letting him do an assassination. An alien assassination, I gather, from the stiletto device he's been furnished. The boy -- and he is a boy -- can't do it, I can see that. Even before the time the smoker had co-opted me, I was no innocent. His son is. He doesn't understand this, he's never killed another human, let alone faced the actual enemy, for whom he's obviously, and woefully, unprepared.

What's Spender's point? Blooding his son, offering him his first kill? Does he want the boy to fail, to be killed -- a perfectly likely result? Am I supposed to observe, clean up the mess, report? Spender and I are probably the only two who can handle this work in the upper echelons... I can't imagine that fool Strughold taking out a shapeshifter. My mentor, however...
there's another story, one he told me one night in bed, a secret shared with me after I'd managed to coax his body into response with my mouth. I know a few things more than I did since I took out my last alien, and I intend to use them.

There -- see, I knew the boy couldn't handle it. College, the Academy -- he's still a boy, greener than I ever was. I grab the icepick, and... up, into the cranial area, puncturing the alien equivalent of the medulla... into the center, taking out what would be the limbic system if they were human... keeping away from the acrid green muck they have as an excuse for blood and for spinal fluid. The boy watches in absolute shock, then in horror as the acid, exposed to oxygen, does its work on the body. I let him watch; he needs to see this for himself, to see what his father's capable of letting happen to this planet. The Babylonian captivity of Earth, thank you very much.

He doesn't get it, does he? I see I have some work to do here. Mr. Spender, allow me to educate your son as to the facts of the case. Your father, child, is a fucking traitor to the entire planet, let alone the human species, and he expects to be the head of the Vichy government of Earth when the great day comes. All hail King Nebuchadnezzer. Simple, isn't it, Jeffrey? And your daddy wants you to be Crown Prince and help him out. Even take over after him, maybe. Just remember, your sweet, lovable daddy sold your mommy to the aliens for a little medical research along the lines of that nice Doctor Mengele's work while he was at it. He's such a caring kind of guy, Jeff. Keeps a well-stoked furnace for his friends and relatives. A truly great man.

"I'll be my own great man." Yes, Jeffrey, you will. Maybe as a martyr, maybe in the lion's den... but you will. Now that you know about your mother... now that you've actually seen that Fox Mulder is right, that your father's set you up to destroy your own job...

How sharper than a serpent's tooth, Spender... Enjoy dying, nice and slow, starting with your baby boy turning on you. I said you were a dead man, and you'll start feeling like one very, very soon.

Hey, Fox. Hope you enjoy the help. Maybe you'll find out about it someday. But I've got a few things to finish up on Spender's case, and a return ticket to Geneva with my name on it... and someone waiting for me at the other end. All I've got to do now is finish walking out of the furnace, and watch the flames rise around the rest of them.

Geneva's lovely this time of year.

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(" '...are you prepared to prostrate yourselves and worship the statue I have made? If you refuse to worship it, you will be thrown forthwith into the burning fiery furnace; then which of the gods could save you from my power?' ... And they walked in the heart of the flames, praising God and blessing the Lord.... so that the fire did not touch them at all and caused them no pain or distress." Daniel 3: xv - l, New Jerusalem Bible)