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Mulder woke up knowing that something had changed in his apartment. For one thing, he didn’t have his gun under his pillow anymore. For another, he heard someone else breathing near the foot of the bed.

From the darkness a sandpapered shadow voice said, "Turn on the light, Mulder. I know you’re awake now."

Disgusted, Mulder did as he was told. He had a better chance of doing... something, anything, if he could see the rat bastard. Krycek looked like a thicker shadow in the dimness, almost seeming to absorb the lamplight. He didn’t even seem to be totally human anymore, as if all of his humanity had been pared or burnt away, leaving only this hard, cold, focused semblance of a man.

Sometimes Mulder could admit that he missed the Krycek of years past. That Krycek had been a treacherous pain in the ass, but at least you could almost relate to him. This one was a weapon, pure and simple.

Mulder had been having trouble feeling anything himself lately, as if he were living life through a layer of plastic, but it hadn’t done anything as useful as making him a better weapon. Even the occasional blinding rush of rage had been weirdly cold....

Like now. "Why are you here?" Mulder snarled. Rote. Following tradition.

"Curiosity. I’m wondering how you’ve been feeling lately. Since you were dead for three months."

"I got better." He didn’t remember his three months in the grave. He was grateful for that.

"It must be strange coming back to see Scully pregnant, especially since she’s completely unwilling to ask how or why. Have you given any thought as to why I told Skinner I’d give him the vaccine for you only if he killed Scully’s baby?"

"You son of a bitch!" Mulder made a move forward but Krycek’s gun immediately came up warningly.

"Looks like he didn’t. Oh, relax. I always have reasons for doing things."

"Spiteful evil?"


"Go ahead. Tell me what you think is wrong with the baby."

"I’m not sure yet. All I know is that the old man had something to do with it and wanted her to come to term."

Mulder’s skin crawled. Only one person "the old man" could be. "‘Wanted’?"

"He had an unfortunate accident recently."

"My heart bleeds." No mystery who was responsible. If Mulder couldn’t take him down, he hoped that Krycek could at least continue to be helpful enough to prune the Consortium for him.

"So Skinner didn’t tell you. Violates the point of me making the offer, but by now I should expect him to always turn left when I want him to go right. I wonder who he told. The agent who replaced you, probably. They seemed... close." Krycek smiled. "I don’t think he told Scully, though I don’t know if it would do any good to tell her anyway. She’s been resistant to questioning anything about the pregnancy. She might have been conditioned to do that."

Mulder should have had an ulcer by now from all the horrible things he suspected or knew was going on. He didn’t know why he didn’t. "But you want me to know."

"Doggett might investigate on his own, but he’ll be looking in all the wrong directions. He wouldn’t believe the truth if it hit him in the face."

"So you want me to find out for you."

"That’s the great thing about long-term relationships. The familiarity. I don’t have to lead you around as much."

"You didn’t give him the vaccine."

"I already gave you the vaccine before he even entered the room. Did you really think they stopped the alien growth just by taking you off life support and giving you normal anti-virals?"

It sounded possible, though Mulder reserved judgment. He remembered the fire streaking through his veins, a new pain different from the ones he’d gotten used to, as he’d regained consciousness that first time. The first time since he’d died. "You didn’t want them to realize. Why tell me, then?"

"They won’t believe you anyway."

Krycek was probably right. They didn’t want him to investigate anything; they didn’t want to hear any of his nonsense. Didn’t they understand that he couldn’t rest, especially now?


Mulder realized that he was absently stroking the healing puncture wounds on his right cheek, trying to ease the itch. The scabs were starting to lift at the edges. He immediately put his hand down.

Still covering him with the gun, Krycek sat on the edge of the bed nearby. "How many holes do you have in your head now?" He sounded amused, almost affectionate. His eyes were too green.

Abruptly, Mulder decided that he wanted the completely inhuman Krycek back. "Never counted them."

Mulder’s heart pounded as Krycek’s gun moved towards his face... and started to stroke the scabs. He tried to remain very still as cool, smooth metal glided down his face, catching occasionally on sloughing damaged skin.

At least the metal was cool. The needles the aliens had inserted into him had been warm, as if just removed from a living body. He might have gone into hysterics if the gun had been warm.

He had a fucking gun stroking his face, but he wouldn’t go into hysterics. The gun seemed normal by comparison.

Or maybe just normal for him.

How could anyone think he could just set the X-Files aside and start a normal life? He’d died. He knew too much. He remembered too much.

As much as it scared him having a weapon right in his face, the adrenaline rush of terror felt normal, reminded him that he was alive.

It was sick and sad, and it was his life.

Krycek blinked out of whatever trance he’d fallen into, then stood, gun trained on Mulder, and backed away toward the door. "I’ll be in touch."

"I’ll be waiting with bated breath."

Krycek smirked. "You did that for three months. You should be tired of it by now."

Mulder’s anger warmed him and ripped the plastic away. "Get the fuck out of my apartment."

It didn’t seem to upset Krycek at all, but that could be from knowing that Mulder had no way of enforcing it. Or maybe nothing could upset Krycek anymore. "I want you to remember that you can’t rely on anything."

"Even you?"

Krycek’s eyes looked even greener as he smiled. "Especially me."




NOTE: My inspiration for this story:

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
You’ll be offered several valuable gifts in the next few
weeks. I’m a little worried, though, that you won’t recognize
them for what they are. That’s why I’ve developed an
exercise to heighten your intelligence in such a way that
you will be able to see and claim them. Now please
free-associate on the following memes: (1) the pain that
heals, (2) a shadow that sheds light, (3) an invisible ally,
(4) a secret that makes love grow, (5) an underworld
garden, (6) a fairy godmother disguised as a wolf.
  -- Free Will Astrology by Rob Brezsny
Posted April 18th, 2001