Djinn by Garnet
RATING: R (probably) (I know, it's a bummer)
FEEDBACK: Yes, please...to:
ARCHIVING: RatB, Basement, others ask and ye shall receive
DISCLAIMER: Fox belongs to FOX and CC (don't know in what order). Alex belongs to himself and don't let anyone tell you otherwise, not even him on a bad day. Either way, I just take them out and play with them a little, before putting them back. So there.
SUMMARY: Pre-"Requiem" vignette.
WARNINGS: Not really.
SPOILERS: Mention of lots of bits of Krycek eps, including "Requiem," of course.
COMMENTS: Started this in-between other XF story projects. No real sex, but don't worry, most of my slash stories don't like living long without it. I promise the next story posted WILL have ye old NC-17 rating.
You almost have to admire the extremes.
Take this place, for example, feverishly hot during the day and achingly cold at night. Dry as dust and men sometimes fight over water as they fight over other things. The best ration of food, blankets, a choice sleeping space along the walls. Each other. Even though a lot of them aren't supposed to want that sort of thing, being devout Muslim and all, it still goes on as it goes on in every other prison around the globe.
Tunguska, for example. Though, there, it was just cold. Teeth-chattering, blue-lipped, mind numbing, freezing, shivering, bitter cold.
Not the half of it coming from the man I'd been forced to share a cell with.
He's extreme, too. One moment cool and removed, voice and face flat-lined, only the thin-honed edge of sarcasm to give him away, the next achingly, almost feverishly furious. Out of control. Striking out with little disregard for consequences. For anything other than assuaging his rage. Usually, in my direction.
Not that I can blame the guy. Not exactly, anyway. But it's hard not to when you wake up to find yourself barfing up black oil and half your lungs and stomach all over some alien spacecraft. When you hand him hook, line and sinker to arrest a bunch of Apocalypse wannabes and get a rifle in the gut for your pains.
When he leaves you for the not-so-tender mercies of a man who has his own cause to hate you, to hang you out to freeze on his fucking balcony half the night.
When he takes you on a joyride in the wilds of Siberia that only ended with you losing your goddamn fucking arm...
So, I guess I do blame him. A little, anyways. Number two on the list after his old bud and mine, "Cancerman." All right, maybe, number three, since let's not forget charming Marita, the blond bitch who fucked me over while she was fucking me over. If I hadn't nabbed a vial of a certain home-grown Russian-made vaccine while I had the chance I would have been left behind in the Star of Russia, made to suffer a return-trip across the North Atlantic with only the hopes of a quick garroting or a bullet to the head once I'd reached the other end. If I was lucky. Which, at least since I've met Fox Mulder, I'm generally not.
I've dreamt about him sometimes, especially these past few long months. Shivering under my thin blanket, the remains of my left arm tucked beneath me to protect it, until I finally manage to fall asleep. Or for what passes for sleep when you're surrounded by a dozen or more other men who may or may not decide to stick a shiv in you or strangle you in the middle of the night. I can speak a spattering of their language, but it's not enough. Like it wasn't enough to get me off in the first place. Justice is swift around here. When they say twenty years they mean twenty years and when they say death, then that great old sword comes out and there goes your head neat as you please. Some places use a gun for executions these days, but the guy who runs this place is rather more old-fashioned.
Of course, he's supposedly devout as well, but the rumor is that he fancies a drink or two now and then, a line of coke and jazz and a girl to go with it all. Blond ones, at that, exotic foreign flesh. Makes me wonder if I could somehow get him and Marita together, kill two birds with one stone. Though, she's probably dead by now. Not many survive their tests and she'd been looking pretty rough the last I'd seen her, hanging onto our earnest little Jeffrey Spender Junior as if he might have the keys to the universe, let alone an idea where to stick them.
I occasionally wonder if my current incarceration in the vacation spot of the Middle East isn't Spender Senior's revenge for what I did with his boy. For turning him into a lost cause, a threat. For making his old man eventually have to haul off and shoot the poor ignorant bastard. 'Course, if you can't play with big boys you have no business being in the game. A truth that I've long learned, and Mulder, too. Both of us have lost things along the way. Given up much hope of a normal life, if there's any such beast. I don't have any friends and he has...well, a few, but I wouldn't give you a nickel for them on most days. A trio of geeky Dungeon Master types whose paranoia makes his look like it's standing still. Not to mention his partner, a woman whose blind faith in her own brand of logic and science makes her stab him in the back as much as she supports him. Who doesn't have much a life of her own, either, not that I can muster much sympathy for her.
For much of anyone right now. Not even for Mulder, and I usually do feel a bit sorry for him. Stupid and brain-damaged as that desire is. I'm one of the ones who screwed him over and he, in turn, has helped time and again to make my life a living misery, so why the fuck should I ever feel anything but anger or resentment or hatred for the sucker? Why? And, yeah, that's the question, all right. I only wish I had an answer. Or even a map to know where to dig. There's a big fucking desert out there and sands been running through my fingers lately, stealing my life away with it. Sucking it into the depths of this bleak and stinking pit. This mini preview of hell.
Undoubtedly, he'd say I deserved it and then some.
Especially for what I've done. To him. And I don't just mean his partner and her sister. His fucking father. No, it's even more personal than that. More intimate.
He hates me because he trusted me once. Even liked me. Let me into his life and into his bed. It was only three times, and that last was more for comfort than anything else--fear makes fools of us all, fear and guilt, and he blamed himself more for Scully's abduction than the man who'd actually taken her--but it meant a lot to him, I know that now. Like I know it meant a lot to me. More than I wanted it to. More than I was comfortable with.
More than I could live with even.
The wind is picking up outside. You can hear it howling even though these thick walls, a dust storm, ravenous and chaotic. The more superstitious here still think that supernatural beings live in those storms, that they ride at the heart of them, wailing and screaming, using the winds and the scorching sand to blind the unwary, to strike the flesh from their bones. But, then, who am I to scoff? I've seen aliens. I've seen their ships. Fuck, I've even had one inside me and sometimes that makes me shiver, too. Makes me huddle under my blanket as if it could ever possibly protect me. From what happened and what's coming.
Mulder knows, but sometimes I think he doesn't want to believe. Despite the poster in his office. Despite his all-consuming search for what's "out there." Except, that it isn't out there. It's here. They're here. And if we don't win this one there won't be any more games to play, not ever.
Not even the ones we play within ourselves.
They hurt me the other day. Got the drop on me and kicked my feet out from under me and when I would have come up fighting and broke some of their faces for them, one of them simply dug his fingers down into the remnants of my arm and twisted, waking old scars and mangled nerves to screaming life. He must have been a smart one, must have watched and waited for his chance, and I could almost have respected that if I hadn't been the intended recipient of his attentions.
I knew enough Egyptian to know what he called me then. I didn't need to work to translate the spit that landed on my face from the other man who held me. To know what they intended.
I'd been locked up before; I knew the drill. Willing or unwillingly, you take it. And, if you're lucky, you live through it and, if you're really lucky, you make them regret it later bad enough that no one ever dares touch you again.
I lived through it, but I almost wished I hadn't. Because, as I laid there, eating dust and listening to the harsh staccato breathing of the man on top of me, I found myself wishing and imagining that it was someone else. Someone else's weight on me, his cock reaming me out, making me bleed inside, making me small and submissive, making me real and alive and aware again.
I think I'd wanted the son-of-a-bitch since I first saw him. Since he first left me high and dry at the Hoover building "like a bad date." I'd take those words back now, if I could; they were entirely too close to the truth and who the fuck wants that? No one would ever think I did.
Especially not him.
And, no doubt, he would think this place was exactly what I deserved. That to be fucked unwillingly up the ass was small shakes compared to what I'd done to him and his. Even to be beaten up afterwards, until I couldn't even see through the blood, couldn't hardly breathe anymore--didn't hardly want to and would give it up readily if I could figure out how--and finally left behind in the dirt like someone's discarded blanket. Like an offering to the unsympathetic spirits of the desert. Here, take him--he'd half dead already, easy prey...
Oh, yeah, they hurt me, but I wasn't about to die from it. But part of me was thinking of Mulder again when I finally found the strength to haul myself up by one wall, one hand. How he would have fared in my place. If he would have survived. Probably, though. He's a persistent bugger, no pun intended.
But that night, huddled in my usual spot, I found myself more than thinking about Mulder, I found myself remembering Mulder. Our brief partnership. Our briefer "affair." All the moments since, even more fleeting and brutal, except for our little expedition to Siberia, of course. What a vacation that had been. Chock full of Kodak moments I'd just as soon forget and some of which I'm sure I have. Mercifully.
I still don't know how Mulder got out of that one, but he did like he always seems to. More of that fool's luck, probably. Always tripping over his own feet and thus avoiding the fatal bullet. Not that the man would know a moment of true gracelessness if it came up and grabbed him by the ass. He'd quip handily at his own funeral if given half a chance. At the proverbial end of the world, which may not be as far off as some might think. Or maybe they would if they weren't too damn busy scoffing at all those folks on the street corners with their hand-printed signs and their tinfoil hats.
As they all scoff at Mulder.
Sometimes, I wish I was one of them. That I didn't know. That I didn't care. About him or about any of them, the whole goddamn fucking planet. That I could just let it all go. Let it and them go end up in the hell that some of them think we all richly deserve. But then I remember what it felt like to lose myself--to have the black oil, the black cancer, pouring down my throat and how cold it had been and how it had choked me and smothered me and finally drove me into a darkness even greater than itself, and how it had made even me scream --and I just can't. I may not like people much, if at all some days, but no one deserves that.
Certainly, I didn't. Not even on my most off days. No matter what Mulder may think of me.
I may be a shit, but at least I'm human. Or as human as I could be after having seen what I've seen, done what I've done, and knowing what I may yet have to do. Sacrifice should be something Mulder would understand; he's been forced to it often enough. But he never seems to see mine. What I've lost. What I've been forced to give up. He never seems to care.
Sometimes it makes me think that to him I'm just a body to hit now, just a face to smash. The mask of all his own pain and all his loss and frustration and abject misery. That when I stand before him that's all he sees anymore. Nothing of me, the real me, at all. And it makes me angry and sad all at once, and it makes it so easy to taunt him because of it. To try and wrench his precious little world apart--his work, Scully, that dusty and somewhat sad little apartment, his sticky magazines and that big old lonely bed--and let me slip back inside. Literally and figuratively.
But if I'm locked out of his life, then he's locked in. The key long ago flushed down the toilet or washed down the drain, leaving him lurking in the shadows. In the shadows of shadows. And I don't know who did it to him, or if he simply did it to himself. Running away from the killers he'd invited into his brain or dear sweet mommie and daddy--amazing profiler that he is, he should have seen through them years ago, but it's always hardest with the closest--from his washed-up career and his sister's ghost and his low fucking self-esteem and his goddamned awful brilliance.
God, how bad it would suck to remember everything in every last little detail. And then to be made to doubt great hunks of it.
I didn't have to bother with doubting or believing; I know and I don't have a bug up my butt about forcing other people to that same knowledge. Fuck, he'd give it all away for free if he could and damn the consequences. Damn how many lives were lost in the meantime or as a result.
Ruthless in his own way as much as his old man. His real old man. I've experienced hard times at the hands of both and, some days, find not much to chose from between them. Scars...I can show you scars, and I don't just mean the remains of my poor mangled and long-lost left arm.
I still hurt the next morning after the two men attacked me. If you could call it morning when you've hardly slept and the sun had yet to make an appearance. Another storm had come in during the night and, even in the depths of the prison, a gritty haze hung in the air. Breakfast tasted of sand and it was even harder to choke down than usual. I ate it anyway, despite how my jaw ached and my cracked lips stung; I needed the strength. Some of the others were already eyeing me, no doubt wondering if I'd broken. If I would roll over for them, easy as you please.
They were all fools. There was only one man in all the world that I'd roll for these days, a bigger fool than any of them. So, why did I still want him so fucking much if that were true? After all the times he'd hammered and harassed me, all the times he'd hurt me. Hurt me far worse than those two assholes yesterday. The ones I was going to have to kill.
One bright spot in an increasingly dismal future.
They didn't let us outside today--which was never any great loss anyway--and night fell early. The winds rising with the dark, railing and weeping around the thick walls. Wailing at those imprisoned here.
I didn't sleep at all that night. Instead, I listened to it, imaging voices hidden inside the howling. Listening to the sound of my own heart beating, turning the slow tick of pain back upon itself until it was just a distant buzz. Low key enough not to get in the way, yet still strong enough to hone me to my purpose.
Near to dawn, I slid through the mounds of sleeping men and killed first one and then the other. Fleetingly, I'd wished I could have lingered over their deaths, that I could have made them pay in pain as well as with their lives, but it was neither expedient nor safe. They weren't worth chancing getting my head chopped off, not even to avenge my rather dubious honor.
I slept a little then, lightly, one ear bent to other potential rapists, to premature discovery of my first two, and when I woke it was light and the storm was gone, blown back out into the deeper desert. The two dead men were found shortly thereafter, their bodies already cooling, not a mark on them. At least, none that anyone around here would know to look for.
The rumor over today's breakfast was twofold. Half the men casting careful sideways glances at me, this time with a trace of fear, of new-found respect, and the other half whispering of storms and sand and spirits, of beings that seeped into even the most protected rooms to suck the life right out of a man. Superstition, but who knows? If such things didn't exist then there never would have been a need for the X-files and Fox Mulder and I might never have met. Let alone...been what we had been to each other. What we were.
Either way, they left me alone after that. Which was what I'd wanted in the first place.
To be left by myself. To hate. To wish. To wonder. To plan. To regret.
To dream all those dreams I've long denied myself, knowing the futility of having them at all, let alone acting on them. Let alone relying on them.
Relying on anyone or anything other than myself.
All my employers have fucked me over and Marita, who I should have known better than to ever trust, let alone put my dick up her, and...Mulder. Of course and always and inevitably, my Mulder. Only he's not mine anymore, if he ever truly was. If he ever could be anybody's. In all the ways that count, anyway.
He had fucked me until it hurt, too, only I'd savored the soreness. At my desk the next day, in the car, lying on the couch at home with a glass of vodka in one hand and my dick in the other. Wishing it was his fingers yanking me off, or his mouth going down on me, or, better still, his ass. Tight and slick and the nearest thing to heaven that I'd ever likely see in this lifetime or in any other.
But, one, two, three, and it's gone and I'm gone and a man who once licked and sucked and fucked me near to unconsciousness--who sometimes smiled at me and brought me a beer once and rubbed the cool can all over my erection as I squirmed and moaned and fought half heartedly to get away--now can't hardly stand to look at me anymore, let alone put his hands on me. Except to hurt me, of course.
The same man that I'd respected and admired, back when I was pretending to be young, pretending to be a student, overeager and overachieving and with a hard-on for truth, justice and the American way of life FBI style. The same man who I'd lied to and led on and spied on in the name of the exact opposite beliefs. Not that I personally ever held to either doctrine. I couldn't afford it. No matter that I sometimes envy those who do, as much as I find myself disdaining their very fanaticism.
The only thing I can claim the same dedication to these days is my own life. And, by extension, the lives of just about everybody else on this ignorant little planet. Not that I wouldn't sacrifice a few of them to save my own skin. And a whole lot of them for a chance at saving the rest. And if that makes me a shit and a scum-sucker and Fox Mulder's personal demon...then so be it. At least, I'll still be alive in the end. And so will he.
The storm had blown itself out well before dawn, but its effects lingered in the air all day, making the sun look even more red and bloated and cruel than usual. It didn't help that, as a punishment for the deaths, our water rations were halved today. Or, maybe, it wasn't really a punishment at all, but just done on a whim. Maybe our favorite warden got his Western skin magazines ripped off or his VCR ate his last copy of "Debbie Does Dabir," and so just decided to take his annoyance out on whoever stood to take it.
Or maybe he did it because it would look good and, God and Allah knows, how much appearances matter. Even if what they cover up is a hollow, an emptiness, a lack of either care or concern. Two more prisoners turn up dead? Fuck it, just stick em in the ground and go on; there's more where they came from. There's always more where they came from.
Sick as it is, it's more than a match to my mood of late. It's almost scary how little I really care about anything anymore. The few obsessions that remain I shuffle around over and over again, trying to put them into order, some semblance of sense. Amusing myself at the same time with the futility of it all. The finality.
I'm going to kill the man who put me in here, of course.
Save the world if I can.
Have Fox Mulder look at me, once, just once, like he used to. Before he learned to despise me.
One for vengeance, one for altruism, and one for...well, one just for me.
If I actually get one, though, I'll be lucky. Two, and I could have claimed to have sold my soul for them--if I hadn't already, so long ago that I doubt I can even remember what it was like to once own one. Three...and I'll be glad to believe. In miracles. In magic. In God. In any damn thing that presents itself as the author of my redemption.
I might even believe in demons in the dark, those of sand and storm and death and the traditional three wishes they are sometimes said to grant. At their own whim, of course, but maybe they'll take an obscure pity on me and give them to me free and clear, no tricks, no fuck-ups, since I also know what its like to live on the outskirts. To whirl and howl and wail for the light and to be constantly denied. To be torn apart limb from limb and body from soul.
To be left behind, one of the restless dead. The hungry.
Night eventually fell again, bringing with it the cold. I'm thirsty--even more so than usual--and both it and the dark and the cold remind me of that other place. I'm due vengeance for that one, too, but you can only kill a man once.
Like you only get one shot at trust. At betrayal.
At something so rare and precious that it's hard to imagine it even exists, let alone that it was almost within your grasp. And that you just let it go after all.
I...just let him go.
It was stupid. Inevitable. As stupid and inevitable as jerking off quietly in the dark and thinking of him. Of how well we had fit together--him into me, me into him--and how good it had been, good enough to make me scream. To muffle the sound into the flesh of my own arm, the one I don't have anymore, as I muffled the sounds tonight, small as they were, into a fold of foul tasting blanket. My own seed momentarily warming my fingers, driving back the dark and the memory of the dark, at least long enough for me to finally fall asleep.
Only to dream of him. Of that special, sweet and oh so rare smile of his, of his kisses, his own sounds of pleasure. The way he would tuck himself around me afterwards, as if entirely unaware of just how precious a gift that was. At least to me.
Precious enough to kill for. To die for.
But that's a lie, isn't it? I didn't murder or die to keep it. I just lied and stole and broke the fragility of what we had between us, what we might have had, in order to...in order to follow fucking orders. In order to save my own miserable skin. Me or him, wasn't that how it was? Wasn't that what I was told it was? Oh, not in words, but it was there anyway. There in the eyes of that craggy old bastard who held my balls tightly in his nicotine-stained fingers and told me that accidents could happen to anybody. Anybody at all.
Because, after my dream of Mulder, it was his turn to haunt me. To drive me back to the prison with a nightmare that he wore the heart of. Never quite the same nightmare, the details alter, but it's the same anyway. A nightmare of my own betrayal. Of what I did for him and how he used me, and then left me behind to die. Or tried to fucking kill me outright. Sometimes, Mulder's in those, too, and that makes it all the worse. Sometimes it's Scully, or her sister, who I never really knew, or even Skinner. Accusation and condemnation galore. As if they didn't know he was pulling their strings as well, that he held their balls in a vise.
That, at the core of things, we're not really all that different. I'm just a little more honest about it, and who can hate me for that?
Yeah, like I don't already know.
The ground is hard and I shuffle around, trying to find a comfortable position, even through I already know there isn't one. It's cold, too, and the blanket might as well be tissue paper for all the good it does. Some men huddle together for warmth, but I don't know anyone here that I would trust that far. Besides, that harbors bad memories as well. Of a place far colder than here and the heat of another man pressed up against me and the smell of him, several days unbathed, but wonderful for all that. How hard it had been not to go further than that. Not to reach out. To try to touch him.
To have him take the top of my head off for it.
I press my eyes tight shut, but the pain just shifts to my throat, making it hard to breathe. Harder still to swallow, even one dry dust-wrenched swallow. And, sweet Jesus, but I'm going to kill that fucker some day for putting me in here and throwing away the key, for leaving me to die in that fucking silo in the middle of nowhere, and--most of all--for assigning me to Fox-too smart-for-his-own-fucking-good-sweet-pain-in-the-ass-Mulder in the first goddamn place. Three strikes and you're out. Isn't that how it goes these days?
Three strikes and you're left buried in the dark with a dozen other ruthless and discarded men, your mouth filled up with sand and your eyes blinded by tears you don't dare shed. Your own semen flaking away on your hand--your one remaining hand--reminding you of just how fucking cold the universe can be if it really wants to be.
Three strikes and he's walking away from you, borrowed car keys in hand, and you get the phone call you never wanted to get, but always knew you had to, and then you're looking down the barrel of a gun at the man's father--not his real father, but he never knew that at the time, maybe doesn't know now--and you can't feel anything or you'd never be able to do it. Could never walk away again, even though it cost you your life not to.
But no matter how far you run, you can't seem to escape--not him, not yourself. I don't know. Maybe he's the bad penny as much as me. Always turning up when you least expect it, when you are least prepared to handle it. But, either way, it sucks. Perpetually and continually.
Something skitters across my feet and I jerk them away, even though that's an exercise in futility as well. Across the room, a man coughs and then subsides. I close my eyes, then open them again, but nothing changes. Except that the room seems to grow a little smaller, darker, more squalid.
My life, Mulder. Here it is and some days I'd just as soon offer it up to you on a silver platter if I could, do with it what you will. Beat me around, curse me, kill me, whatever. You're fooling yourself if you think I really give a fuck anymore.
Except that, at the same time, I can't seem to let go. To let it happen.
Maybe, that makes me crazy. Even as crazy as you, though that seems unlikely. But what do you call a sane man in an insane world, one that's spinning so far and hard out of control that you can't call anything what it is anymore for fear of it not being the very next day. When there's a war going on that most people don't even have a clue about, despite the casualties mounting up on all sides--alien, human, clone, what have you. When even the old men who think they know, who thought that they had everything well in hand--like my balls for instance- are brought down and made helpless, made to face their own shameful fears and lack of commitment to the cause.
Will Mulder say "I told you so" when it all comes out in the end and he's proved right? Will his partner apologize for her own lack of faith, in him, at least? Will they forgive me, all those I've hurt and murdered along the way for only the best of reasons. Will he?
I don't know if I ever could find the words to ask it. Or the courage to stand in front of them like that, to be made bare like that. Maybe, he's right about that, too, and I am a coward when you come right down to it. At least, when and how it counts the most.
I'd rather face a bullet than those eyes of his. I'd rather die here in this fucking hellhole than have him go on hating me forever.
Except that that's a lie, too. Survival is a habit that I haven't quite broken myself of. Or let anyone else break for me, though they've tried often enough.
I should try and sleep some more, though; dawn will come soon enough and, if another storm doesn't blow in, they'll probably work us tomorrow. Make us pay for the privilege of continuing life. For our will to endure.
I should sleep, even if I dream again, all of pleasantries and horrors intermingled. After all, it's all I have anymore. All I have of him. Of me. Of us.
The memories of hunger meeting hunger in the night. Of wailing and empty betrayal. Need ripping everything apart, rending it back to constituant dust.
Devils in the dark, aren't we all?
Blind and doomed.
But unable to die.
She's beautiful, seemingly healthy again, dressed in impeccable clothes, but I hardly notice it. Can't afford to notice it. The men howl, but I hold myself back. Hold myself aloof.
Waiting for the moment.
For the key she's come to offer. No matter the price. No matter how fucking high it is; I've paid before, and I can pay again. I've grown good at it. Better than I ever expected.
Better than they ever expected.
And she's a bitch, like always, but she gets me out. Waiting until I'm washing away the heat and stink of the prison, my punishment, before she moves to the purpose at hand. Before she tells me that the snake at the bottom of all our nightmares is dying at the last. Blue eyes cold as the desert at night, unblinking, calculating. Watching my every move, gauging my reaction to the news to the tiniest degree. To the smallest grain of sand.
Knowing I would hear in it the same thing she did. See the same grand opportunities. For vengeance and victory all wrapped up in one big shining present. For us to finally make the future what we want it to be. What we need it to be.
So, surprise, surprise, I guess I'm lucky, after all. 'Cause, there's one wish down and a damn good chance at two. And if you think I'm not going to go for three, Fox William Mulder, well, then you don't know me at all, do you? Anymore than anyone else ever did.
And you almost have to admire the extremes. And it's almost enough to make you believe. Almost.
Except that almost only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades. And doesn't count at all when you're trying to save the world.
Or something that almost was.