Something in the Air
Something in the Air
by Claire Dobbin
Title: Something in the Air
Author: Claire Dobbin
Warnings: No spoilers. Lots of use of the f**k word. Summary: My one and only Mpreg.
Disclaimer: Not mine
Thanks to Bertina for a very patient beta and to Shan Ray for the grand old name 'Pruitt'.
Miriam Goodman finished her coffee and sat down at her desk in the basement of the Fuller's Bridge County Library. She lifted the last, unprepossessing volume from the box on her left and placed it in the well of light at the centre of the work surface. Sighing, she began checking the binding and the individual leaves for signs of decay. As she opened the front cover, the title page caught her attention.
'The Sermons of the Reverend Harold Peckard - Parish of Fuller's Bridge, 1872-1895'
She sighed again and sneezed twice as the accumulated dust of a hundred years was liberated. She took a tissue from her purse and blew her nose several times before turning back to the pages containing the Reverend Peckard's pearls of wisdom. With the gentle hands and the sharp eyes of a conservator she resumed the meticulous work of assessing the book's condition and marking the places requiring attention. It was something she could do instinctively: her training and experience taking over the process and allowing her conscious mind to move on to other things.
Of late, however, only one matter was in her thoughts, whatever she was doing. It was all-pervasive and would not be ignored and, as she checked page after page, she found her mind treading the same path it had trod a million times before.
'Having a baby - the most natural thing in the world - something countless women did every day - with ease - why not her? - what had she done wrong? - why didn't Phil understand how much it hurt? - '
And so it went on, around and around, again and again, and all the while the old fashioned wind-up clock in the library basement ticked away.
As she wrapped the Reverend's tome carefully in acid-free tissue paper Miriam wondered for a moment why the 'powers that be' considered it worthy of conservation, then, shrugging her shoulders, she stood up and placed it in the crate marked 'not requiring immediate attention'. Lifting the empty box off her desk she replaced it with the next full one, before sitting down again and removing the lid.
In the dimness of the basement, for a second or two, she had the impression that a glow was emanating from the box. She leaned over and stared into it. Just another box of old books, looking rather sorry for themselves. She closed her eyes, drew a weary breath and reached into the box.
It was as if her hand was being directed. It burrowed down past the top layer of books and grasped hold of a thick, softly textured volume in the bottom of the box. She pulled it out and set it in the middle of the workspace. It was wider than a foolscap page, though not as long and it was bound in cream leather. Miriam stared at it. She had been right, there was a glow. She rubbed her hand across its surface and looked at the skin of her palm - nothing showed to explain the strange luminous effect of the binding.
She looked back at the front cover. 'Goode Pruitt's Booke of Nature', she read in strangely fresh gold lettering. She opened the title page and checked the date. A fine italic hand proclaimed -
'A Work of Learning and Lore - begun this eight day of March in the Year of Our Lord 1696'.
How did this get mixed up with the Victorian religious? She wondered. It's not even a printed book. It's a journal or a ....
The thought floated in Miriam's brain, never to be completed, as she lifted the book in her left hand and fanned through its pages with her right. A summer breeze wafted through the room, filling it with the perfume of lavender scented laundry and freshly baked bread. At the same time a faint glow rippled outward from the opened leaves and found its way into every gloomy corner in the basement. Miriam dropped the book back onto the desk with a thump and backed away in her chair. In response, a second, more marked wave of scent, this time cinnamon and apples, filled her senses and the glow intensified.
And in that instant she knew she was no longer alone.
The presence was electric, crackling with energy and purpose. Good purpose. Of that Miriam was sure. It chased away all her fears and instead of running screaming from the basement, she moved back to the desk where she cradled the book in her hands and breathed in the wonderful smells.
It was the thump of the book hitting the desk that roused Mistress Pruitt. She stretched and yawned and burst out of the confining space that centuries ago had become her refuge from the hidebound, religious dullards who could not, or would not, see the natural glory of God's creation. In less than a second, she had traversed the length and breadth of the basement. She was not impressed. Its design and decor reeked of the puritan meanness she so despised. Quickly losing interest, she returned to her liberator's side and watched as the woman began reading through the accumulated wisdom of generations of Pruitt women.
The reader was a pretty woman, though her face was clouded with worry and her shoulders drooped with disappointment. An altogether far remove from Goode herself, whose reflection in the strange, glass fronted box on the table showed a fine figure of a woman in the prime of life. She preened a little before turning her attention back to the wretched, needy creature who had set her free. Even if it had not been her destiny in life to give succour where it was needed, she could not have turned away from this suffering sister. She was in the woman's debt and she intended to repay it in full measure.
Something that would cause her no hardship for she felt strong and vibrant, completely in tune with Mother Nature, whose life force had been gathering and growing within her over the lost centuries; creating a power for good that knew no bounds.
Goode smiled indulgently.
The woman ... Mistress Goodman ... would have her heart's desire.
Miriam emptied her lunchtime grocery shopping into the garbage and slipped the tissue wrapped book into the paper sack. Forcing herself to remain at her desk until official quitting time, she calmly put on her coat, lifted her purse and 'groceries' and even chatted with her colleagues on the short walk from the library to the employee's car park. Locking her precious package in the trunk of the car, she drove home where she hurriedly prepared Phil's dinner and served it to him in front of the television. Explaining to him that she had to work on a book requiring urgent attention, she ignored his sceptical look and shut herself away in the study.
With her stomach full of butterflies, she settled herself in the big leather chair and unwrapped the layers of tissue paper protecting her find.
... the glow of candlelight filled the room and this time the scent was of summer roses and camomile tea ...
"For fuck's sake, Mulder, would you settle down," Krycek grumbled. "You're worse than a two-year old. I'm giving you the chance ..." he paused for dramatic effect, " ... at great personal risk ... to have your very own close encounter. Is it too much to ask for a little patience?"
Mulder, lying on his stomach in the dewy grass of a Massachusetts meadow at midnight, turned a sour look on his companion.
"It's not so much the wait, as the company."
"You're surprised?" Mulder asked incredulously. "Surely it can't have escaped your notice that our collaborations do not end happily?"
Krycek returned the sour look in kind.
"In that case, I must remember to take you off my Christmas card list," he replied flatly.
They settled back into grumpy silence and contemplated the empty meadow before them. A thousand mosquito bites later, a shooting star crossed the clear sky, briefly eclipsing the diffuse glow of the Milky Way. They glanced up at it hopefully, then subsided back into the grass.
"I need to take a piss," Mulder informed his disinterested companion. He climbed to his feet and searched around for somewhere to use. There was a small copse directly behind them. He headed towards it.
Miriam removed the saran wrap from the large earthenware jug and set it down in the grass at her feet. She turned to the east closed her eyes and began chanting the prescribed verse. Her voice came out timid and embarrassed. Hardly surprising since there she was standing barefoot in Larry and Rose Forsyth's bottom field at midnight, wearing nothing but her raincoat. She steeled her resolve, turned towards the south and repeated the verse loudly, defiantly. It was not the time to get cold feet - no matter how bare. This was her last, best chance - of that she was sure.
"To you my child, my body is open,
To you my child, my mind is open.
To you my child, my heart is open.
By Earth, Fire, Wind, and Sea,
Into my arms you will be."
She repeated the incantation facing west and facing north, looking at her cradled arms during the last two lines on each occasion as per instructions.
When she finished she glanced over at Goode Pruitt's book for reassurance for though the power of the spell she had just invoked lay in the ritual and the words, the book held a magic all its own and she wanted it close by. She paced out a generous circle with careful steps and followed in her own footprints twice more before picking up the jug and speaking the words of the verse again as she stirred the mixture of olive oil and pomegranate juice in the manner required.
"To you my child, my body is open,
To you my child, my mind is open.
To you my child, my heart is open.
By Earth, Fire, Wind, and Sea,
Into my arms you will be."
She paced the circle once more, this time pouring out the liquid as she walked. It splashed up around her feet, coating them before sinking into the earth, forming a conductor between her and the dirt from which all life sprang. She placed the jug in the very centre of the circle and walked out to its edge. Stepping outside, she took a deep breath. The moment of truth. She undid the buttons on her coat and slipped it off. There was a brief moment of shyness before the magic took hold and then, in the twinkling of an eye, she found herself shedding the inhibitions of a lifetime.
Her newfound freedom and the fizz and spark of released magical energy blended together into an intoxication the like of which she had never experienced before. She stepped back into the circle and began chanting in earnest, lifting her voice in joyous anticipation of what was about to happen.
And then she began to dance.
At first she moved slowly, but as the pace of the chanting grew more abandoned, so too did the dancing, until it became wild and uncontrolled. She danced like she'd never danced before, her feet flying across the grass so fast that at times it felt as if she hovered above it. It ended only when exhaustion overtook her and she collapsed in the middle of the circle, breathing heavily and sheened in sweat.
With the last of her energy she reached into the jug and filled her palm with oil. Closing her eyes, she rubbed the oil into her belly as the words of the verse circled in her head. The calming, ritual movement of her hand brought a sense of wellbeing and a deep contentment Gradually, her heartbeat slowed and her breathing eased while at the same time, her senses opened in a new way, making her aware of the myriad forms of life coming into being and thriving all around her.
The tireless burrowing of earthworms in the soil beneath her body. The chomping of moth larvae as they fed voraciously on the roots of the meadow plants. The sighing sound of seeds as they plumped up with moisture and the 'pop' as they germinated. Each one of them a small, but necessary piece of nature's jigsaw, a jigsaw into which she fitted too. It was a revelation to her, and it felt like coming home.
In the east the moon rose above the horizon, and all across the little valley, crickets and katydids sang in multi-layered harmony. She hummed in tune with them, lazily sweeping her arms in angel wing movements through grass that had grown long and lush in the time since she had first paced out the circle. It surrounded and sheltered her like a cocoon and, somewhere deep inside, she felt a sensation she had not experienced in many cycles. Holding her hands protectively across her abdomen, she sat up. Her movement causing the moths, by then already hatched, to lift in a cloud from their green sanctuary and go fluttering into the velvety night.
But the spell was not done. It continued to gather momentum and between her toes, little shoots battled their way upward towards the moonshine and opened their leaves. Flowers burst forth from them in abundance and bewildered-looking bees toiled back and forth among them, feeding and pollinating in a race to finish before the petals fell. Without missing a beat, strawberries formed in place of the flowers and fleshed out to juicy redness in the silvery light. Miriam reached out and picked one. She looked at it for a long moment before biting into it. The sweetness of the ripe fruit exploded in her mouth. She smiled, happy in the knowledge that more than strawberries had ripened that night.
She pushed herself up and stood, stretching languidly. She had done her part. The rest was up to Phil. Finding her raincoat, she slipped it back on, picked up the book and started up the hill towards home.
From her vantage point in the boughs of an ancient oak that stood in the corner of the field, Goode Pruitt also smiled contentedly. A good night's work, she thought, provided of course, that Master Goodman was up to the job. Not that much would be required of him. A spell of great power had been released and if he tended to his duty with even a modicum of enthusiasm, the Goodman nursery would be filled to capacity in the first attempt.
Mistress Pruitt chuckled, sending several flares of energy zinging around the enchanted circle then settled down to enjoy the rest of the truly magical night.
Above in the wood, Mulder finished and zipped up. He rolled his tense neck and shoulders and psyched himself up to return to the vigil. Alex Krycek, he thought bitterly, he calls and I come running. Years ago Mulder had given up trying to account for his Pavlovian reaction to each summons. There was neither rhyme nor reason to it since invariably Krycek had a nasty, ulterior motive. He mulled over what horror or humiliation he might be exposed to this time.
Was he being set up as the patsy in the biggest hoax of all time? Again? Was he going to be handed over to the aliens like a prime cut of meat on a platter? Or was it the rat's intention to tease him with the proof he could never ...
A flash of light caught his attention. It came from beyond the trees. He squinted through them, trying to see what lay on the other side. The light flickered a second, and then a third time. He glanced back over his shoulder, scanning the sky for any sign of spacecraft. It was depressingly empty. He pursed his lips thoughtfully and moved forward through the trees.
Breaking cover he found himself at the top of a hill that sloped into a narrow little valley. Looking over to the opposite side, he had a brief glimpse of a figure running on light feet towards the top of the far hill. It was a woman and she was barefoot, and she was gone almost before he registered her presence, but it was the place she'd come from, rather that the woman herself, that held his attention. In the meadow at the bottom of the valley was a circle.
A clearly defined circle set out in the silvery light of a full moon. It drew him like a magnet. He scrambled down the hill and halted a few feet away from its edge.
He hunkered down and stared into it. It was not like any circle he'd encountered before. He was used to circles created by the scorching and trampling of plants. In contrast, this one was formed by luxuriant growth. Entwined through the thick grass were many flowering plants, all blooming with a profusion that defied due season. He stopped breathing for a moment when one of the meadow beauties right under his nose suddenly blossomed, its four pink petals unfurling in the space of a heartbeat. By necessity he began breathing again and sat down to observe.
Sure enough it happened again. This time a bright yellow buttercup bloomed, and beside it a purple fringed orchid. All over the circle flowers were appearing. It was like watching time-lapse photography without the camera, and it wasn't just the flowers, it was the grass too. He could see it actually growing, each thick, lush blade lengthening and twining around its fellows in a kind of crazy dance.
A swarm of lightning bugs rose up, flashing and zigzagging across the circle. They broke his concentration and he stood up and began pacing around the edge. Halfway round he stopped, noticing an object nestling in the grass at the centre of the circle. From what he could see of it, it appeared to be a large jug. He took a step forward into the long grass. He didn't get any further.
The sensation started in his feet; a surge of pure energy sweeping up through him. No ... not pure ... and not energy ... lust. It was definitely lust. Lust and horniness. He was horny. Horny like a dog in heat ... like a rutting stag ...like someone who hadn't been on a date in living memory. He defined horniness. He was horniness. A fuck. He needed a fuck. He needed a fuck like a man who'd crawled across a desert needed a drink. He needed ... he wanted ... he ached ... his dick ached ... ached because he was hard ... because every blood cell in his body not involved in minimal life support had packed up and moved to his dick ... his dick was taking over ... he could feel his higher brain functions shutting down ... feel his R-complex beginning to assert control ... and there was only one issue on its mind ... fucking someone ... anyone ... anything ... a farm animal would do ...
Alex Krycek saw the small scout ship the moment it came over the horizon. He watched it go through the standard manoeuvres of locking onto and blanking out all the tracking systems in the sector. Its arrival meant the mother ship was not far away. He stretched and looked around for Mulder. There was no sign of him.
"Fuck him," Krycek said aloud before pushing up and taking off at a low crouch in the direction of the woods.
"Mulder," he called as he ran.
There was no response so he began searching systematically. He was all the way through the wood when he finally found the pain in the ass, standing at the bottom of the hill, staring at the ground, looking kinda weird, even for Mulder.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Krycek called out, barrelling his way down the hillside and coming to a sliding halt. "The ship is going to be here any second. If you don't move ... " He didn't finish the sentence.
Mulder ignored him and continued to stare at nothing, like someone transfixed. Krycek scrunched up his face and wondered how the fucker had managed to survive so long. No one, absolutely no other person on the planet had a talent for finding trouble like Fox Fucking Mulder. Totally pissed off, he took a step forward. It was only after his booted foot touched down inside the circle that he noticed it, and by then it was too late.
The entry into the circle of another fuckable, living being released Mulder from his torment. He looked up and gazed on the vision before him. Alex Krycek at his most dangerous looking ... at his most gorgeous ... unshaven, tousle-haired, lean, hard ...
If Mulder had been capable of rational thought, he would probably have experienced a feeling of inevitability, of rightness, but since he was firmly in the clutches of Priapus, he felt only a renewed surge of lust.
Across the circle, the same feeling drew the same response from Krycek.
They began ripping their clothes off.
The sound of tearing cloth and popping buttons woke Goode Pruitt from a pleasant doze. She glanced down from her high perch and shrieked.
"No! No! No!" she yelled. "This was not my intent. Cease and desist, I command ... for pity's sake."
She swooped down and hovered over the centre of the circle, her arms stretched out towards the two men in a warning gesture.
"You know not the power you will unleash. End this madness!" She commanded again, trying womanfully to keep her eyes averted from all the glorious maleness so wantonly displayed ... so big ... so hard ... so perpendicular ... so much ... more ... than her own dear husband ...
But even if she hadn't been distracted, and if their awareness of her had been greater than that of an annoying buzzing insect, they would have paid her no mind, for the strongest force in nature, the biological imperative, had been triggered.
They began pacing round the edge of the circle warily, instinctively scenting the air for pheromones and watching for cues of dominance or submission. But it was futile - they were evenly matched in all things. Frustrated, they charged across the distance separating them and fell upon each other in a frenzy of clashing teeth and bucking hips.
As a sexual encounter, it had more in common with a Greco-Roman grudge match than a session of down and dirty fucking and they probably would have ended up killing each other or dying of dehydration, had not Krycek's survival instinct kicked in with a vengeance. It overruled his need to be on top and reminded him that coming was a good thing, whichever way it was achieved ... and boy, did he need to come.
He relaxed his muscles the fraction required to signal a change in his intentions, and though the struggling ceased instantly, when Mr. 'Smarter than the average agent' Mulder pulled back there was a confused look in his eyes. Krycek grunted in frustration and rolled backwards, taking the other man with him so that they lay matched mouth for mouth, nipple for nipple, dick for dick ... and it hurt in such a wonderfully painful way that Mulder arched his back to intensify the sensation at the same time as biting down hard on his lower lip to stop himself from yelping in agony.
Below him, Krycek squirmed and opened his legs, giving Mulder what he wanted, what they both needed and Mulder looked down at him, finally understanding what he was offering. There was time for only a second's worth of gratitude before the need to penetrate took control, yet somehow, Mulder staved it off and began fumbling around for something to use. He gave up on his pants pockets; they were always good for a tube of lip salve but they were too far away. Only the earthenware jug was within touching distance and pushed himself up and reached out, tipping it over. He dipped his hand into its depths and brought it out coated in the thick olive oil.
Slicking the oil along the length of his dick made him gasp, but as he looked down at Krycek again, he saw a momentary flicker of gratitude before instinct kicked in and he put the head of his dick against the entrance to that sweet, sweet place ...
Above them, Goode Pruitt covered her eyes and murmured, "Oh my Lord ... "
Nothing she had tried had any effect on them and now the inevitable was happening. Her only hope was the book. It was full of spells to create ardour; perhaps it also contained one to dampen it. She set off in pursuit of Mistress Goodman.
... and thrust with all his strength. It hurt like hell at first and not just for Krycek, but pretty soon the first licks of pleasure began and the grunts of pain and effort changed to grunts of satisfaction.
What they lacked in finesse they made up for in staying power, fucking with long, hard strokes until the hunger was satisfied. At last and with great relief, Mulder felt the explosive build-up begin. His balls tightened convulsively to the point where something had to give and when it did he shot his load about as deep into Krycek as it was possible to get.
It was only as the echoes of his own orgasm faded away that he realised the man below him was still writhing in unrelieved need.
"It's okay, Alex," he whispered, rolling off him and wrapping his hand round his dick. "You're going to come now. Come for me, sweetheart."
He stroked gently but firmly on the heavy shaft and grinned broadly when it began jerking and spraying them both with lots and lots of sticky come. Alex went boneless beneath him, but his eyes remained alert and questioning as they searched Mulder's face. Not needing words to understand the question, Mulder hesitated for only a second before answering it. Reaching forward he swept back an untidy wave of hair from his lover's forehead and leaned down to place a kiss on it before moving down to take his mouth in a possessive kiss. Alex responded by latching onto him and reaching up to tangle his hands in Mulder's hair.
They were well along the road to renewed arousal when the brightness of the moon suddenly disappeared. Alex glanced up past his lover whose knowing tongue was busy in his ear. Above them the huge bulk of the mother ship ground its way through the atmosphere on a south-easterly heading.
"Mulder ... " he warned, nodding upwards when he finally succeeded in attracting Mulder's attention.
Mulder looked up over his shoulder, spent a minute or two gazing at the massive piece of alien technology cheekily defying Earth's gravity and returned to his task of finding the most sensitive part of Alex's pinna.
Alex's shock lasted a lot longer than Mulder's interest in the thing he'd been chasing all his life. When it dissipated, he wrapped himself tightly around his lover and whispered the only truth worth having, "Love you, Fox, love you ..."
Alex woke up on his back in a patch of very long grass. He had no idea where he was or why he felt so sore. Above him, what little he could see of the sky was tinted the rosy shade of dawn. He turned his head to the right and found himself eye to eye with a huge snail, balanced precariously on the end of an arching blade of grass. The creature regarded him with the disdain of a scientist observing a specimen under a microscope.
Looking away, he scrubbed a hand roughly across his face and raked his fingers through his hair. He turned his head to the left. That was where Fox Mulder was plastered to his side, lying on his stomach with his face all scrunched up.
Seeing him brought Krycek's memories of the previous twelve hours into sharp focus and he winced. He glanced down at his body. He looked like he had been mauled. Cautiously, he sat up. As expected, his ass was tender, but it was the sudden wave of nausea that threw him. He held very still until it passed over, then he lay back down, careful not to wake Mulder.
Some pretty weird shit must have gone down last night to explain the things he remembered happening. Fucking Mulder he could deal with. It had been only a matter of time, but what about the rest of it? How could you account for Fox Mulder turning his back on an alien spacecraft? Or, more incredibly, himself blurting out that he lov- ... that thing that he'd said?
A little voice in the wilderness of his subconscious cried out, 'Denial' at that thought, but he ignored it.
And since when did grass grow three feet taller in moonlight? No, some malign force had been at work. It was the only possible explanation. After all, there had been a circle marked on the ground and the aliens had been present. He cursed profusely and silently. Yet again they had used him. Mulder too. And this time they had fucked with him in some major way. He could feel it in his body.
A real fear seized him. He knew all about the horrific things they were involved in. He needed to get away and find out what he and Mulder had been exposed to. He got to his feet, very slowly and quietly, as much afraid of provoking the nausea again as waking Mulder, and began hunting through the waist high grass for his clothes. With them gathered into a bundle, he climbed the hill to the wood where he got dressed in the cover it provided. Half an hour later he was in his car, speeding along the highway in the direction of Washington.
By the time Goode Pruitt had searched in vain through the collected spells of herself, her mother and her mother's mother and had returned to the meadow, only one of the young men remained. He was still sleeping soundly and she held her outstretched hands over him and opened her senses to check his condition. Physically he was fine, suffering no ill-effects from the spell. As for the broken heart? Alas, that was an altogether different matter and thankfully it was something for which she had no responsibility.
Her primary concern was for the other young man, the one with the green eyes and sable hair. The one who had been ahem on the bottom. She feared for his wellbeing, and in his case she was very much responsible for what has happened. She had to find him. But how? Her only connection to him lay naked in the grass at her feet. She returned to the oak tree and settled herself to wait patiently for the sleeper to wake.
Six frustrating weeks later, Goode was ready to strangle the man she now knew as Fox Mulder. At first, she had been patient with his morose, self-indulgent depression: after all a broken heart is not easily cast aside. But as the days passed and he gave way to brooding by the flickering light of the box that showed strange people dressed in silver clothing or people with no clothing at all, her patience became exhausted.
Why was he wasting time, lying about a home he never cleaned, nibbling on food fit only for vermin? Why wasn't he out there looking for Master Krycek? She knew he wanted him desperately because night after night she listened to him call out the name of his beloved in his sleep. So why was the clart wallowing in self-pity instead of making use of the truly magical devices he possessed to find the one he loved?
Regretfully, she had come to share the opinion of Mistress Scully and Master Skinner, who considered him to be in need of 'a swift kick in the ass'. But, unfortunately, she had not the physical presence to make that a reality. All she had was her magic and she had just run through a list of spells that would give him a real reason to feel sorry for himself, when the machine for talking across great distances rang its bell.
Mulder dragged himself from the couch to the desk.
Goode pressed her ear against the other side of the earpiece, causing Mulder to swat at the irritating insect that had taken up residence in the apartment.
"Mulder, it's Frohike. I thought you might be interested in who I've just spotted coming out of a pharmacy in downtown Alexandria."
"Who?" Mulder questioned out of good manners.
"None other that the rat bastard himself. Looking, I might add, like he just spent the last month living in the sewer."
Mulder suddenly switched the phone to his left ear, leaving Goode cut off from the Frohike side of the conversation.
"Are you positive it was him? You mean he looked sick? Did you follow him? Do you know where he is now?"
"That would be yes, yes, yes and yes."
"I want you to stick with him. Under no circumstances must you lose him. Do I make myself clear?"
"You remember that 'Quick Copy Shop' the boys and I used to use where the hot little blond couldn't give me enough discount?"
"Vaguely," Mulder replied, far too preoccupied to even notice Frohike's delusional misperception.
"It's on the corner of Fifth and Main. Krycek's living in the building above it, apartment 6c."
"Thanks, Frohike. I owe you one. Will you stake it out till I get there?"
"Sure, but don't be long. Langley is waiting for his cheese steak and I don't think Byers' quart of rocky road is going to hold up much longer."
Mulder hung up the phone and was out the door so quickly it was only Goode's magical powers that enabled her to keep up with him.
They arrived at the apartment building after a car journey that had Goode Pruitt covering her eyes and sending out good thoughts for the other road users. Abandoning the car several feet from the kerb, Mulder ran into the building, almost missing Frohike in his haste to get to 6c.
"Take it easy when you get up there, Mulder," Frohike warned, "you don't want the rat to weasel his way out of this on a technicality."
But Mulder was long gone and already on the third floor landing, not having the patience to wait for the elevator.
Frohike, shook his head wearily, and headed towards the lobby door.
"Oh, beg your pardon, Ma'am," he murmured politely as he collided with someone ... who wasn't there.
He shook his head again, chalked it up to the 'Mulder Effect' and got the hell out of there as fast as he could.
Above on the sixth floor, Mulder was standing outside the door of apartment 6c trying to decide the safest way to gain entry without spooking Krycek. He was just about to take out his lock pick when he heard an exasperated sigh and the door in front of him, mysteriously and silently opened.
Too frantic to look a gift horse in the mouth, he pulled out his service revolver and leaned back against the doorjamb. He swung into the room. It was empty but he was able to immediately identify Alex's location in the apartment by the sound of retching. It led him directly to the bathroom and the man he'd been brooding over for six weeks.
He did not make for an edifying sight. He was wrapped around the toilet bowl, looking sweaty and pale, and so thin, that Mulder had to stare hard at his face to make sure it was him.
"Alex," he said gently, re-holstering his gun and going to kneel beside the pathetic figure of his lover. "What's wrong?"
"Oh, Mulder," Alex groaned, "you're still okay. I haven't been able to check on you in two weeks ... too sick ... glad you didn't get infected too ... Mulder ... just want to die ..."
From her perch on the shower rail, Goode stretched out her hands over the afflicted one and closed her eyes. Ah yes, she sensed his condition immediately, six weeks gone and a bad case of morning sickness - his suffering magnified, of course, by his being of the male persuasion - everything else was going well. A fine, healthy child who would be a credit to his fathers and a delightful and unexpected little bonus added to the Goodman triplets. What a wonderful spell!
"You're not going to die, Alex," Mulder told him firmly, wiping his face with a cool, wet washcloth. "We're going to get you to a doctor and find out what the problem is and fix it."
"We are? You promise?"
"Oh yeah, now can you stand up?"
Mulder helped him struggle to his feet and together they stumbled to the elevator and out to the car, with Goode following close behind.
It was only when Mulder began pulling the car into the E.R. entrance at Arlington General that Krycek found his voice.
"Not here," he croaked, "I know a place, a clinic in Virginia. Take me there."
"But we're already at the hospital, Alex, and it's one of the finest - "
"Not going in there," Krycek told him, sounding distressed.
"Okay, okay," Mulder cajoled. "I'll take to the clinic, but only if you promise me it has nothing to do with the project."
"Do you think I'd walk into one of their fucking facilities in this condition?" Krycek demanded.
"I guess not," Mulder agreed, trying to calm him. "Just tell me where to go."
Krycek gave him the directions and as an afterthought added, "And I want you to make sure that when we leave we each have a full set of organs."
"Oo-kay," Mulder agreed again, suddenly glad he had worn his service revolver and the gun he wore strapped to his ankle.
The clinic was an impressive expanse of gleaming white tile and stainless steel. The admitting staff recognised Krycek and he was immediately wheeled into an exam room and given a blue disposable gown. Mulder helped him to undress and put it on. With difficulty, he hid his distress at seeing how much weight Alex had lost as he settled him on the exam table and covered him with a warm blanket.
Mulder held onto Alex's hand tightly until the door swung open, then as the doctor approached he backed away to the edge of the room. Goode, on the other hand, took her place on the empty side of the table and eyed the white-coated man with suspicion.
"Well, Alex, what is it this time?" Dr. Elton asked brusquely.
Alex began listing his symptoms while the doctor ran through the standard examination.
"Temperature, blood pressure, heart and lungs all check out fine," he said. "You say your abdomen feels tender?"
"Yeah, but it's probably just because I've been vomiting for the last six weeks."
"Let's take a look shall we?"
The doctor folded back the top of the blanket and hiked up the exam gown. The moment he began pressing down, Krycek began retching again and Mulder scrambled across the room with a paper bowl.
"I want to do some blood work and I want x-rays and an ultrasound. You'll find urine sample bottles on a shelf in the bathroom, through that door. Now, let's take care of the nausea."
He opened a drawer from which he took out a syringe and needle set, then unlocked a glass-fronted cabinet and picked up a bottle of clear liquid and began filling the syringe.
Goode's eyes opened wide in horror. She was already concerned about all the noxious potions she'd seen in Alex's privy. If he'd been dosing himself with them they'd been lucky that no ill-effect had befallen the child, but this substance would be downright harmful, of that she was certain.
She launched herself with all her might at the doctor's arm and managed to knock the full syringe out of his grasp. He glanced down at the smashed syringe then looked around the room. The only occupants were himself and the two men, neither of whom were anywhere near him. Shrugging, he reached into the drawer again and pulled out another packaged syringe.
Goode hurried to Alex's side and whispered urgently into his ear, "Do not trust him."
The unspoken words echoed in his head and he looked over at Mulder.
"Not thy love, Master Alex," Goode explained. "Rather fear yon alchemist. He will harm your kin."
Alex shook his head, trying to clear it of the voice that had taken up residence in it. Obviously after six weeks of constant vomiting and no sleep he was beginning to hallucinate. Still, when the doctor approached him with the prepared syringe and asked him to roll onto his side he refused the medication, saying that the sickness had eased and that he'd rather wait for a diagnosis.
The doctor just shrugged again and dropped the whole thing into the sharps disposal bin.
"I'll send in the technician to take the samples," he said and left the room.
Mulder returned to Alex's side and took hold of his hand again. Goode discreetly absented herself from the room and waited in the hallway.
"Why did you leave me there alone, Alex?" Mulder asked.
"I thought we had come to an understanding ... and that whatever else was going on that night, at least we'd finally admitted to ourselves and each other that there's something between us ... always has been ... right from the beginning. I thought you'd know from the way I acted that I want there to be something between us. Something that lasts the rest of our lives."
Alex looked incredibly sad.
"Are you telling me that can't be?" Mulder asked very quietly, his gaze firmly fixed on Alex's face.
"Not 'cause I don't want it," Alex said, finding it difficult to get the words out.
"How real is it, Mulder? How much can we trust our thoughts and our memories and our feelings? Maybe we've been programmed to respond like this."
"I don't believe that. I know what I feel for you," Mulder told him in an irritated voice. "I love you in spite of the things they've done to us, not because of them."
Alex's face relaxed and Mulder knew he'd found the right words.
"You mean it?" Alex asked, then clarified. "The love part."
"I love you, Alex. I'm in love with you. Plain enough?"
Alex's face clouded again.
"What?" Mulder asked, perplexed.
"It's too late," Alex whispered.
"What are you talking about?"
"They did something to me that night, Mulder. I knew it straight away. That's the other reason why I took off. I thought they'd done it to you too. I pulled in a lot of markers, tracked down every contact I'd made in the project to try to find out what they'd done. I couldn't get shit on it. Whatever this is, no one's talking about it."
"I'm okay, Alex," Mulder assured him. "I feel fine."
Alex guided Mulder's hand to his abdomen and held it there. "There's something here," he said, "and it's trying to kill me."
The door swung open again and an officious technician swept in. Goode swept in behind her.
"Okay, Mr. Krycek, I have a schedule of samples to take. We'd best get started."
Once the samples were taken and dispatched to the lab, Mulder was allowed back into the exam room. He brought Alex the cup of ice chips he was hankering after and sat on the edge of the table. They talked quietly about frivolous things, avoiding the issue of Alex's state of health altogether. It seemed pointless to go over and over it until they got the doctor's verdict.
It was almost three hours later when the Dr. Elton bustled into the room excitedly, carrying an armful of papers.
"Well, Alex, I think I can safely say you've presented with a condition none of us have ever seen or heard of before." He plonked the papers down on the instrument trolley beside Alex and tapped on them for emphasis.
"Three sets of test results, run on three different machines in the lab, all saying the same thing."
Mulder held his breath.
"You're pregnant," the doctor stated cheerfully.
Mulder snorted, then grinned, looking over at his lover.
Alex was not amused.
"Have you always been physiologically male?" the doctor asked, before Alex could react to the diagnosis.
Mulder could hear Alex's teeth grinding.
"You took a bullet out of my thigh, doc, you must have gotten a good look at my ... credentials," Alex said through gritted teeth.
"That's not always conclusive," the doctor responded. "I've known situations where things that appeared to be obvious were, in fact, ambiguous."
"The only ambiguity here, doc, is whether or not you'll still be male if you don't stop fucking me around."
Mulder stepped in at that point.
"Could there be some other condition that could account for these results?" he asked quickly.
The doctor eyed Alex warily as he replied. "No, these test results are conclusive ... and the symptoms that Alex is reporting backs them up. He appears to be suffering from classic morning sickness."
Alex's male outrage at the preposterous diagnosis deserted him at the doctor's words. Mulder could almost hear the cogs meshing together in his lover's brain. His own thoughts were following a similar route.
Implants ... alien implants ... clones ... altered D.N.A. ... what had gone on that night?
"How do we settle this?" Mulder asked.
"An ultrasound examination."
"Do it," Alex instructed.
Half an hour later, the doctor was running the scanner over Alex's gel covered belly. As he'd requested, the monitor was turned away so he couldn't see the screen. Mulder grasped his hand tightly as the doctor 'hmmmed' and tutted.
"Are you sure you don't want to take a look? He asked.
"I'm sure," Alex told him grimly. "Just tell me, is there something there?"
"Yes," the doctor said bluntly. "A healthy foetus of five to six weeks gestation."
"Is it normal?" Mulder asked.
"How can you be so sure?" Mulder asked.
"Well, obstetrics isn't my field, but seven years at med school and a five year residency in a major teaching hospital might just have given me a few clues to go on," came the sarcastic reply.
"Can you run an amniocentesis?"
"I could, but I'd advise against it for several reasons, not least of which is that such an invasive procedure is unwarranted at this stage. Especially in light of the gender issue."
"But it would tell us for sure whether or not this is a normal, human baby?"
"It is a normal baby," the doctor stated with conviction. "I can tell that from the scan ... and I think it's a fairly safe bet that it's hum -"
"Why don't both of you just shut the fuck up," Alex shouted angrily. "I don't care what the fuck it is. I want it out of me. Now!"
"But this is a medical miracle. We have to study - "
Alex pulled a gun from under the blanket and pointed it directly at the doctor. Mulder blinked, completely bewildered about where Alex had been hiding the weapon.
"We have to do what I say," he said calmly, feeling back in control. "Now, you go get ready to do whatever has to be done, because if this ... thing ... isn't out of me in fifteen minutes, I'm going to get very, very angry and that's going to mean someone's going to be very, very dead."
Goode Pruitt levitated towards the ceiling in her distress. She hadn't understood the strange words being exchanged before, but Master Alex's intention was crystal clear. He feared his own child. She knew she had to act quickly, but alas and alack, what to do?
For a moment, Mulder felt conflicted. Whatever was in Alex's belly could be the definitive proof he'd been searching for his whole professional career. It could vindicate all his theories and claims in one indisputable biological sample. But to be credible its origins had to be verified and documented. The hasty procedure Alex wanted performed would destroy any provenance ...
He suddenly felt ashamed. This was happening to Alex. The man he loved. The victim in this situation whose body had been violated in some unspeakable way. The man he'd just pledged his future to, the man who was staring at him, waiting for him to make good on all the promises.
He pulled his own gun. "Do what he says, Doctor Elton."
Goode looked around frantically for some way to communicate the truth to them. To let them know the awful mistake they were about to make.
The doctor sighed and capitulated. He began to gather instruments and supplies on a metal tray.
"I'll need a nurse to assist," he said.
"You'll manage fine by yourself," Alex told him. "And use a local. I want to know what's going on."
The doctor nodded and began scrubbing up at the sink.
Goode looked down at the two men who had found a place in her heart. Desperate measures were called for. She was not sure if she would be able for the task she had set herself, but she was willing to try. She took a deep energising, non-existent breath and plunged downwards towards the box with the magical window.
Mulder and Alex simultaneously turned towards the ultrasound monitor that was suddenly whisked around to face them. Instantly, both of them took in the last image the doctor had recorded in the examination. A strange grey and white blob with an oversized head stared out at them menacingly.
They both recoiled from it but couldn't look away, and in that magically frozen moment of time, Goode spoke into Alex's ear.
"Master Alex, do not fear thy son."
Closing her eyes, she whispered a hurried incantation and time began spiralling forward.
Alex blinked. The horror on the screen resolved itself into a giggling baby named Alexei with rosy cheeks, sable hair and flashing green eyes ... who at ten months was already tottering around unsteadily on his feet ... who by two and a half could make his point in both English and Russian ... who at seven came running home from school every day to a house that wasn't dark and lonely and who knew that milk and cookies and a hug would be waiting for him ... who on the day of his tenth birthday scored his first home run in Little League ... and who didn't have to look over his shoulder to check if his Dad had bothered to come see it happen ... who knew he was loved and cherished ... who loved and respected both his dads ... who would grow up to be a man of fine reputation ...
Goode drew a steadying breath and moved to Mulder ...
"Master Mulder, Alex and thy son have need of thy protection."
Mulder blinked. The horror on the screen resolved itself into a giggling baby named Mike with rosy cheeks, hazel eyes and a nose he would grow into ... who lived in a house filled with laughter ... for whom Thanksgivings and Christmases and birthdays meant fun ... who could come home with a C- on his report card from stupid Mrs. Alvaraz's Home Ec class and know his Dad wouldn't care if its presence spoiled the perfect symmetry of all the other A grades ... who knew he only had to do his best and be himself to make his dads proud of him ... a child for whom there were no dark, hidden places ...
Time rewound with a snap and unfroze and Goode fluttered to the floor like a summer leaf on the first day of fall ...
Mulder and Alex stared at each other for a long, long moment ... then Mulder reached out and placed his hand on Alex's belly ... Alex laid his hand on top of it ... and in the space of a tiny heartbeat, their reason for existence shifted and became focussed on the fragile wisp of life they had created.
"I'm ready to begin," Doctor Elton announced.
They looked up at him where he stood, fully gowned and masked and holding a large hypodermic in his hand.
The muzzles of two revolvers were pointed at him a second time.
"Put that fucking thing down and step away," Alex growled.
"What?" he asked in an incredulous tone.
"You heard him," Mulder said. "Don't come any closer."
Elton flung the hypo on the floor and tore off his mask. "You two fuckers should be in a psycho ward," he yelled, his anger overtaking his fear.
They looked at each other and grinned.
"I'd stay and debate it with you doctor," Mulder told him, "but I'd be afraid that some people I know might consider your diagnosis the second opinion they've been waiting for."
Alex laughed aloud and began getting dressed. In two minutes, they were on their way out the door. As it began to swing closed behind him, Alex put up his hand to halt it, turned back to the fuming doctor and said quietly, "Before you get all ethical and start writing papers for the A.M.A. Quarterly Journal, just remember I know what makes this clinic so profitable. You don't want publicity any more than we do, so let's just pretend this whole thing never happened. That way you'll live to enjoy that retirement in the Turks and Cacos."
Goode made no attempt to follow them for she was exhausted and needed a quiet time to regain her strength. All to the good, for they needed their own quiet time together, and soon enough her energies would required to see Master Alex through to a successful confinement.
In the spring of the following year, in a remote Canadian farmhouse, Alex was delivered of a healthy baby boy, under the care and the scalpel of Dr. Dana Scully. When he had been cleaned up and checked, the infant was placed in the arms of his father, Fox Mulder, who held him so his other father could see him for the first time. Together they named him Michael Alexei Mulder Krycek.
Very soon after that, a diplomatic pouch arrived from Moscow carrying papers that proved that one Nadia Krycek, wife of Alex Krycek had died giving birth to their son in a Siberian village.
With the baby thriving and his parents spending every waking moment doting on him, nothing stood in the way of them all returning home to begin their new, obscure, normal life in a place renowned for its anonymity. Within six months of setting up house together, Fox was declared Michael's adoptive parent, with full parental rights.
Goode Pruitt visited frequently in the first year of Michael's life. He would always be her most special baby and she watched over and indulged him in the way she had watched over and indulged his father during the pregnancy. Thanks to Goode, once his morning sickness had passed, Alex never experienced any of the discomforts usually associated with his condition - no heartburn - no back pain - no constant peeing - no cravings. His stable blood pressure and perfect hormone balance was a source of constant bewilderment and mild jealousy to Dana Scully.
Not that it meant he was easy to live with. Oh no, he had whined and complained and yapped just about everything, from the major gripe that Mulder never took his turn carrying the baby, to the annoying sound the wind made as it blew through the tall pine trees surrounding the farmhouse. And Fox Mulder had stoically put up with all the tantrums and bloody-mindedness. The great sex had helped with that, as had the fact that a pregnant Alex was an insatiable Alex.
Luckily for them both, the fact that Alex had given birth did not diminish either the frequency or the quality of the sex and as soon as he was healed from the c-section they picked up right where they had left off.
Of course, there were no more babies, because there were no more spells. Once or twice, as Goode watched Mike grow, she had been tempted, but he was surrounded by a loving family and had more playmates than he needed, so she resisted. They had been very lucky and they were very happy, and as one of the wisest sayings of this modern age declared - if something isn't broken, don't fix it.
For, with an insight that went beyond any magical powers, Goode knew that from the instant they had claimed each other nothing broken remained in the hearts and minds of Alex Krycek and Fox Mulder.
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