originally published in X-Plicit Fantasies 3.
Celeste, Laurie and
Shoshanna beta-read the story for me. Thank you again!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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, 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
Alex Krycek with half of his chest missing.
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.
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 -
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.
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 -"
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*…
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*…"
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.
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 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…
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 -"
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 -"
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
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.
of all kinds appreciated!