She finds him in July, or what she hopes is July, because otherwise her mental tally is all wrong and everything is flipped upside down. She’s been keeping count for months, carving calendars into trees, and if she says it’s July, then it’s fucking July.
He’s slumped against a tree, leg a mess of flesh and bone and dried blood, and his skin is drenched in the kind of sweat that indicates he is still alive. It’s funny, Marita thinks, that she can’t even avoid Alex Krycek during the zombie-fucking-apocalypse. She pulls out her gun – not that she wants to use it so close to the city – and kneels down slowly. Krycek doesn’t stir.
“Alex?” She edges closer, watching, listening, one hand planted firmly on the ground to keep her balance. “Alex, it’s me, Marita.” His chest rises and falls regularly, but otherwise he remains still. “Krycek,” she hisses.
Pale green eyes snap open at that and he draws in a sharp breath, laced with pain, before trying and failing to shift his body weight backwards into the tree.
“Is that a bite? Did they get you?” He doesn’t answer, just stares, and she can’t tell whether his lip is twitching upwards into a smile or downwards into a grimace. “Alex, I swear to god, if you don’t answer me right now then I will pull this trigger and blow your brains out. Okay?”
His eyebrows rise, involuntarily perhaps, because the rest of his face doesn’t follow, doesn’t change. He lets out a quiet laugh, or something, she really doesn’t know. “Wow… you’ve changed, Marita,” and maybe he means it flirtatiously or jokingly or maybe he’s just being characteristically stupid, but it comes out as one of the saddest things she’s ever heard.
Her finger twitches at the trigger. “Alex…”
“Trap… for rabbits or deer, I don’t know,” he shrugs and it looks like it hurts. “Got my ankle caught, took hours, guess I did more damage than good,” he laughs bitterly.
Marita glances down, realises with some embarrassment (but not much) that this wound was most definitely not inflicted by teeth or claw-like fingernails. There are deep gouges and the skin is off-colour where the rust has settled in, and she ignores Krycek when he cracks a joke about losing a leg as well as an arm.
“We need to move,” she says instead.
“Yes, ‘we’, Alex, I’m not leaving you here to bleed out. I don’t have any supplies on me though, so you’ve got two options – one: I leave you here, trek back to camp to get the first aid kit, and come back in the morning. Two: I haul your ass up that hill right now and get us both to safety by nightfall. What’s it going to be?”
It takes less time than expected, mostly because Alex seems to have matured in the two years since Marita last saw him. Rather than whining or crying or falling to the ground melodramatically, he simply grunts with every step, clearly trying not to crush Marita under his weight but simultaneously relying on her to stop him from tumbling down the hillside. They don’t talk; the sun is sweltering and she’s running low on water, most of which goes to Alex anyway. They simply hike, slowly but efficiently, until Krycek can’t manage it any longer and Marita has to half drag, half carry him the rest of the way.
He sleeps as soon as she sets him down inside the tent, a delirious sleep interspersed with twitches and quiet whimpers. She starts working on his leg; it’s infected already, she can tell, but there are antibiotics left over from looting she took part in over a year ago, and they’re so far out now, the city not even visible, that she suspects he will have sufficient time to heal before they’re forced to move on.
He wakes up at midnight, she guesses, judging by the height of the moon, and sits beside her in the silvery darkness.
“It’s been a while.”
She laughs and it isn’t without a certain bitterness. “Yeah. Yeah, ‘it’s been a while’, Alex.”
“We lost contact after a few days. He and Scully managed to get out of the city, I don’t know how, but… I haven’t spoken to him in over a year.”
“Oh.” He sounds despondent. “What about you? How come you’re alone?”
“What about you, Krycek? How come you’re alone?” she counters.
“I’m always alone,” he grins, and that’s the end of that.
They fall into a surprisingly comfortable silence. Alex picks at a piece of rabbit and stares intensely into the fire for minutes on end. Marita simply watches, listens, keeps a hand on her gun and another planted firmly on the ground.
She takes this opportunity to look at Krycek as a whole rather than Krycek as an injury to be treated. His hair is longer than her own (she’s been hacking it off with a blunt knife recently) and there are kinks in all the wrong places. Thick, wiry stubble lines his jaw, and his skin is creased, ravaged by the sun. He looks tired, and Marita guesses she does, too.
It’s been weeks, maybe months, since she’s seen, let alone spoken to, another human being. Krycek is like a God-given gift, then, because she knows him, knows him better than she knows anyone, really, and they work well together, they connect; if there’s an obstacle or an enemy, then Krycek is her sidekick, the other side of her coin.
“Do you think he’s still alive?”
“Who?” Marita asks, even though she knows the answer.
She shrugs, then grins wickedly and says, “Well if you of all people have made it this far, Alex…”
He laughs, and it’s a real laugh that makes him choke on his food. “Very funny.” He takes a sip of water and leans into her slightly, head coming to rest on her shoulder. “You and me, Marita, we’re indestructible – we’ve learnt from the best. We’re not brave or heroic, we’re not Mulder and Scully, but we know how to survive.”
She nods. He’s right. They know how to survive.