"Deliverance" was originally published in X-Plicit Fantasies 3.

Celeste, Laurie and Shoshanna beta-read the story for me. Thank you again!


by Sylvia

The clean-up squad's main target had obviously been the subterranean laboratory. If Mulder hadn't known beforehand that this research institute was a cover for one of the Consortium's projects, he could only have guessed what the purpose of the compound had been.

Of course, Scully would have claimed Mulder's prior knowledge *had* been a guess. She clung to the remnants of her scepticism with true desperation these days; that was part of the reason Mulder had come here alone. The other, more important part was that he didn't want her there when he knew he would be breaking into a high-security Consortium outpost for genetic research and gene manipulation. It was too risky, and she didn't need to see what would be inside.

The underground lab complex had been built at a prudent distance from the building above ground, connected to it by a long subterranean corridor. The outlines of both lab and corridor were now plainly visible - the once carefully tended garden in front of the office building had folded into the collapsed space. Ragged fragments of walls jutted upwards through the soil, held together only by the earth packed against them; massive steel girders had bent and snapped like flimsy wire. A reinforced steel door had been thrown free and lay on the grass, crumpled up and tossed aside like a scrap of aluminum foil. Not far from the grotesquely malformed steel door, a sign planted next to the driveway still claimed that this was the Gecorta Tropical Disease Research Foundation.

Whoever was responsible for this, they'd done a thorough job… Mulder did not doubt that excavating the site would not yield any information beyond the fact that the destruction wrought on the inside of the former Consortium laboratory was even more complete.

One thing was fairly obvious, though. This was not a Consortium clean-up job. The unsubtle, if efficient devastation of the lab was one thing; it did not ring quite true, but it was conceivable. The gate - now that was another thing entirely. The Consortium would not have left the guard house at the front gate abandoned. The Consortium would definitely not have left the body of the guard who should have been monitoring the comings and goings wedged into the automatic gate itself, preventing it from closing.

The camera mounted on the wall next to the office building's main entrance swung to track Mulder as he walked up to the door and tried it. It was unlocked and he walked into the lobby to find the security checkpoint here deserted, as well.

He chose a corridor at random, drew his gun, and began exploring. The front part of the building was given over to offices with the occasional conference hall and coffee kitchen squeezed in. Mulder rifled through several promising-looking desks without finding anything of interest. He didn't see PCs or written files anywhere - either there was a central archive with very strict security guidelines or these office rooms were kept for show only. That would also go some way towards explaining the complete absence of human beings, alive or dead.

It took him another half hour to come upon the first bodies. Mulder's attempt to make his way deeper into the complex led him to several dead ends before he discovered a narrow hall that seemed to run the entire length of the building. Behind a sharp corner at the very end, he found himself in front of a door set with a pane of security glass so heavily cracked by bullet impact that it had turned completely opaque.

Mulder listened to the stillness beyond the door carefully. The only thing he could hear were his own heartbeats, too loud and too rapid; not giving himself a chance to reconsider, he pushed the door open and went through quickly, bringing the gun up in both hands.

The room was long and narrow, lined with stainless steel counters and sinks on one side and horizontal breeding tanks on the other. The glaring light reflected brightly off the glass shards and slightly fluorescent liquid that covered the floor.

Carefully picking his way, Mulder looked for tell-tale pools of gellid green but found none. All of the motionless bodies sprawled across the broken glass were human - more or less… At the side of the hall Mulder started out from, the pale naked forms were simply men and women lying in their own blood and the ruins of the tanks they'd been contained in when they and the equipment had been subjected to what looked like heavy and extended machine-gun fire. The further Mulder advanced into the room, however, the stronger the sense that something was subtly wrong with the shape of the bodies became. They seemed strangely lumpy, unformed - *unfinished* somehow…

Mulder forced himself to walk all the way through to the end of the hall in order to check if anyone - any*thing* - might still be alive. He was almost relieved to find that this was not the case.

A lab-coated scientist was sprawled across the floor in the large and well-equipped operating room next door to the incubation hall, the wall behind her pock-marked with a neat line of bullets and smeared with a streak of her blood. Strangely, the stench of blood, waste, and death, heavily laced with a nauseating tang of chemicals, was far stronger in here than in the previous room.

It was evident that Mulder had made his way to a more significant part of the building. Not far from the hall and operating room, two men in the uniforms of Gecorta security were crumpled against a wall, their guns lying on the carpeting where they'd been dropped. A little further on, Mulder had to step over a man in a business suit whose body was blocking the corridor.

There had been several organized efforts to stop the assault. None of them seemed to have met with any measure of success; Mulder happened across several small groups of guards who had died defending positions of varying strategic value. He looked for some of the attackers' corpses between those of the defenders, but found no likely candidates. Either they had come disguised in security uniforms or they had taken their dead with them when they left.

On his way down to where the access corridor to the subterranean lab must have been, Mulder found another operating room and adjacent lab, these thankfully empty of corpses and incubation tanks. Passing past another security checkpoint, Mulder belatedly noticed that he'd walked squarely through a field of motion sensors. He froze briefly, his heart in his throat, but the deep quality of the silence that blanketed the entire complex did not change. Cameras tracked him as he walked on, but he'd almost gotten used to that; he crossed through the sensors at the second guard station with a certain confidence.

Yet another security checkpoint and Mulder knew he was drawing close to something important. Here, for the first time, was a room with computers - crammed ceiling to floor on every wall and in every available space in between. The monitors were without exception shattered by bullets, every surface deeply scored by gunshots and scorched by electrical fire that had long since burned itself out. The man who had presumably known how to operate the destroyed equipment lay slumped over an instrument panel near the door.

The last security station and the computer control room marked the beginning of a broad, well-lit corridor that Mulder followed past a number of identical cubicles. The small recesses were open to the hall and invariably contained a chair, a low sleeping platform, and nothing else. All of them were unoccupied. Mulder had begun to suspect that this part of the complex had been evacuated in time - that the dead guards he had passed on his way here had bought enough time for part of the project to be salvaged - when he came across proof to the contrary.

They were in what looked like a combined conference room and cafeteria - more than a dozen people of both genders and widely divergent ages in shapeless grey overalls, several security guards, two expensively suited men and two men and a woman casually dressed in jeans and T-shirts.

Quite suddenly, Mulder realized that he was reaching the limit of his ability to take in carnage and remain calmly detached. He turned to go back out, foregoing a closer examination of the latest collection of corpses in favor of preserving his stoicism. And there, in front of the door, was Alex Krycek.

Alex Krycek, wearing jeans and a simple white T-shirt beneath the obligatory leather jacket, his hair longer than it had been when Mulder had seen him last, though not by much. Alex Krycek with his green eyes open wide and a look of complete surprise on his face.

Alex Krycek with half of his chest missing.

The sight ripped through Mulder's last shields like a sledgehammer through a thin sheet of ice. Before he knew he'd started moving, he was crouched on the blood-covered floor next to the man he had hated more than any other, feeling for a pulse he knew would not, *could* not be there. He had rarely seen anyone so unequivocally dead, and never had he had anyone torn so rendingly away when he had not before known they were part of his life… not a part of emotional import at any rate, not anymore, not for a very long time…

But he found now that when you had been enemies for so long - when you had hated someone with all your soul for so long - their death could be as much of a shock as the death of a loved one. It could cut just as deeply, cripple just as devastatingly, because hate could make someone a necessary part of you just as surely as love could. The part of his soul that had hated and raged against and yearned to bestow vengeance on Alex Krycek was suddenly no longer there, leaving only a vast, echoing emptiness that somehow felt like the brief period of grace before the pain of a mortal wound set in.

Mulder walked down the remaining stretch of corridor slowly, forcing himself to look into each of the cubicles as he passed. He could still feel the silky brush of Krycek's hair against his palm. He recalled a time when it had been longer, when it had swept across Mulder's stomach and tickled his thighs when they'd made love. It had been silky and thick and he had buried his hands in it so often that even after the man's betrayal, it had seemed like a personal affront when Krycek had cut it off. Yet another thing he was throwing back into Mulder's face. *When I sucked you off and made you clutch at me and scream my name, when you came with your fingers tangled in my hair or your dick buried in my ass, did you really think that I felt anything? It meant nothing. It was all part of the pretence. No part of who I am - no part of who I was even then.*

It hadn't seemed possible that Krycek would ever not be there for Mulder to hate. More than that, it hadn't seemed possible that anyone but Mulder would kill him. That Mulder would simply find his corpse and not know anything at all about why he'd died, *how* he'd died, who'd pulled the trigger and extinguished that vicious, blazing, poisonous soul - Mulder would never know who Krycek had truly been, or even just what he had been doing here, and *why*… Where, in the skein of tangled and painful and hateful memories of Alex Krycek, partner and lover, betrayer and enemy, the lies lurked and where… possibly… there had been truth.

He shouldn't have been killed by anyone except Mulder. Mulder had wanted him - wanted him at his mercy, wanted to beat all of his secrets out of him and turn his twisted, scheming, lying psyche inside out to know once and for all who and what and *why* he was, to understand all of the things that had seemed so incomprehensible and so -

In a cubicle at the very end of the corridor, a pitiful figure in a grey overall was crouched down in the meager shelter of an overturned chair, shivering and attempting to curl up into a ball small enough to disappear into itself entirely.

Alive. Someone was still alive. The idea was startling - almost shocking after all of the carnage Mulder had walked through to get this far. He had to gather his wits for a second before he could react appropriately.

"Who -" Mulder's voice came out as a croak, wobbly and uncertain and painful to force past the constriction in his throat. He swallowed and cleared his throat before trying again. "Federal Agent. Stand up slowly, identify yourself and tell me what happened -"


Mulder almost shot him. He looked like Alex Krycek and he was uncurling and whipping around and lunging across the room and God he moved like Alex Krycek but Mulder had seen Alex Krycek and he was dead, Mulder had knelt in his blood and felt the cold hard skin and touched the silken hair and he was dead dead *dead* -

"Foxfox oh God Fox I thought they killed you they killed everyone, I thought I was all alone and where were you oh God Fox where's Sam? Where's Sam Fox, wasn't she here when they came I thought you were with her and I thought -"

Mulder didn't know why he hadn't shot him because he'd wanted to, he'd wanted to shoot, he *had*…


And the man who was pressed against him, whose tears were soaking through the shoulder of Mulder's suit, clutched him closer and shuddered and began sobbing, his entire body shaking with the convulsive force of the sobs. "Oh God no Fox, not her, not Sam, not you and not *Sam*…"

"Krycek…" Nothing. It was as though he hadn't spoken, even when he repeated the name louder. Mulder should have felt ridiculous - felt something, at any rate - when he was standing here with his gun in his hand, Alex Krycek dead in the conference room a couple of doors down and Alex Krycek clutching him, weeping hysterically.

But he felt nothing. It was too much to feel all at once and so he felt nothing at all.


The body pressed against Mulder's didn't stop shuddering as the face lifted from his shoulder. The man's eyes were blurry and swollen, his face splotchy and almost pasty white beneath the hectic spots of red. "Can we go? Fox, why don't we just go? They're all d-dead now and please Fox, I want to leave here, let's just go, please…"

"Mulder," Mulder said, his tongue lying heavy and dry in his mouth, feeling like an alien thing. He was beginning to realize that sooner or later his emotions would catch up with him, and when that happened he should already have decided what to do. He should already have done what needed to be done, because afterwards - afterwards…

Swollen eyes blinked at him in misery and without understanding. "Please Fox, I - maybe they'll come back and Fox I thought you w-were - when I came out of the stasis cycle everyone - they'd killed everyone and I thought you were dead, and S-sam - and I wished I was too but you’re here and now I just w-want to leave here please Fox we can just go -"

*My name is Mulder, and you don't know me. I know you, though, you are lying dead in the conference room with your ice-cold heart torn open, the heart that should have been mine, that should have been no one's but mine to rend if I so chose...* But he didn't say it.

"Mulder," he said. "You have to call me Mulder now, Alex."

The words made no noticeable impression. "Can't we go *please* Fox -"

In a way this was only fair. Payment for all that had been taken from him by Them, by Them and by Alex Krycek, whose body was now as stiff and cold and dead as his soul had always been.

"Yes," Mulder said, and in his own ears his voice sounded as distant and muffled as though he were hearing it through a thick layer of cotton. "We're going now. We're leaving here, Alex. Come on."

And if Alex fairly dragged him out of the small cubicle in his eagerness to leave it was hardly surprising. Mulder did not think it strange, at any rate, and it did not occur to him to look back. Perhaps this was fortunate - or perhaps not.

Because all of the cubicles except this one were identical; none of them held anything besides a bare sleeping platform and utilitarian chair. There was no blanket in any of the other cubicles. There was a blanket tangled on the floor in this one, though, because without it, there would have been nothing at all to obscure what Alex had been huddled over behind the chair. A machine gun, several spare rounds of ammunition, and a very small, split-screen security monitor currently displaying the corridor outside and the conference room that held the corpse of a man who looked exactly like Alex Krycek.

The End.


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