A Boy and His Rat
by C.M. Decarnin
Fate. Destiny. Whatever it's called when you realize the choices you thought you had in life were already made.
-- Fox Mulder
No more let Life divide what Death can join together.
On the firing range the feeling had first come to him. That if there were now such pain in living, if alive only meant different from Krycek... The fight, the fight had to continue... but did it truly have to continue with him as its vanguard? Let others pick up this banner, that felt as heavy as a shroud.
The explosions and the recoil shocks running through him, the sense of power spurting forth from him, the deadliness of that sudden hole connecting him like a taut string to the target; that smoky autumn smell that had hung around him, when he looked at Mulder from across a room, head turned, lips open in anticipation, eyes locked into his; Mulder standing with his arms reaching and the hot gun in his hands, within his grasp...
So like a living thing, that key to the kingdom of death.
He had never before felt the impulse to take that hard heat in his mouth, not known the phallic lure till Krycek taught him, displayed to him jut and hot limb for him to nurse on, stroke, trigger to shoot right into him.
At home, sitting down to clean his gun, the wild pain had amped up through him, grimacing his mouth, and bending his head. The line of the poem seemed to ride the pain.
It was no decision that should be made on the impulse of a moment. Leaving his own pain would shift the agony to others. Scully would be devastated. His mother had no one else left. And... Alex had died to keep him in this world.
But Alex would never know. He did not believe they would meet in death. Only that the unbearable grief would stop.
Letting the gun weigh his hand down, he pushed it aside on the desk. He laid his head on his crossed arms and with closed eyes tried to stop thinking of anything at all, while the bullets crooned to him like fixes.
If he kept his eyes shut long enough, he knew dully, someone would do the job for him. He hadn't slept in so long...
The corridor was dark. Bulbs mysteriously burned out. Not good photo light. Inside too it was dim and there wasn't a sound. In the living room a little light.
Head down on the desk.
But Mulder's arms were crossed under his head, newspaper was spread on the desk and a neat little pile of rags lay to the side. The room was redolent with the comforting smell of Hoppes. No splatter of red. Not many would meticulously clean the gun they meant to blow their brains out with.
Slow breath. Soundless approach. Hand laid gently on Mulder's shoulder, to caress. The warmth, the humanity, his love. A moment, no more, before Fox crashed away from under his hand, staggering and gasping, to his feet, seizing his Smith & Wesson and realizing almost simultaneously, too late, its clip was out of it, across the desk. Then frozen. Staring. Gun turned out between them like a pitiful shield.
A breath so painful-sounding his whole body winced at Mulder's terror, before he took his own shaky air in and made himself say, "Hi, baby."
He saw Mulder jerk, down toward a crouch, anguished eyes rivetted at him. "What are you?" he got out, in an unrecognizable voice.
"It's okay, baby. It's me."
"He's dead," Mulder spat. "You're an abomination!"
"They brought me back." Mulder looked like he was going to throw the gun. Instead he dived along the desk, swiped up the clip and slapped it home up the butt of the Smith & Wesson. He had it to bear, trembling, on Alex, who had made no move.
He tried to smile. "This takes me back."
"What are you?" Mulder repeated, sharp hysteria edging his voice. He rose up, degree by degree, off the desk, never moving the muzzle of his weapon from its shaking aim.
"If I wanted to hurt you, don't you think I would have done it while you were sleeping?" His voice softened. "Baby, don't put yourself through this. Try me. Ask me anything."
"They -- they could get his memories!"
Krycek shook his head slowly. "They're not gods, Fox. They just have better toys." He saw things flicker in the hazel eyes. "You know it's me, baby."
"You know what I've been thinking about the last fifteen days."
"Don't move or I'll shoot!"
"The way you looked on all that mink. The way your arms felt around me in that prison cell. The way you sound..."
Mulder's eyes squeezed shut and the gun shook harder.
"Baby, don't shoot. There's nobody here to bring me back."
He hadn't thought it would be this hard. After everything else. Escaping from the facility -- begging rides -- his place, seemingly undiscovered, getting his stuff out of it anyway -- and coming here.
The one thing that might land him back in their tentacles. Infinite care of his approach...
He hadn't guessed how hard his lover would fight this.
"Mulder." Every bit of love in his universe fell into his voice. "It's --" But it wasn't all right, wasn't going to be, he couldn't promise him that. "Let me come back to you, baby."
"It isn't you!"
The phrasing made Krycek smile, looking down. "Who is it then?" Casting around for something to get in under Mulder's defenses, he threw out impatiently, "What does it matter?" He held his arms out to the sides and slowly turned all the way around, and met Mulder's eyes again belligerently.
"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck -- what do you care?"
"I care!" Mulder shot back, and the arrow pierced Krycek's heart, splitting him with pain, and spilling a stain of gold: happiness that turned his lips' corners up even as Mulder's suffering, the repudiation and harrowing anticipation of what was to come filled his eyes with tears. It was him Mulder wanted, no facsimile however perfect. Mulder could have the body against him, the whisper in his ear, hands and mouth worshipful on his beloved genitalia, have Alex open and sweating and moaning again under him; have the pleasures of a lover back, but he spat and hissed at what his reason told him must be not-Alex, not the soul lost to him, the warped mind he'd twined his own crooked tendrils of obsession with, his assassin lover, traitor soulmate.
Mulder wanted him. His smile curled higher, he met the angry hazel glare with tears of despair falling down his cheeks, into the helpless upcurve of his mouth. He tasted salt, and swallowed.
Mulder took a step toward him.
He could tell from the look in Mulder's eyes, he hadn't meant to come closer. He was like someone being drawn, in terror, toward his death.
Another step. The shaking was worse, the hazel eyes wide with panic.
The next step brought him so close that Krycek gently leaned forward and kissed his cheek. He received the gun from lax hands, and Mulder's arms slowly fit around him, as Krycek eased him close. "I know. I know." All he could say as the trembling gradually grew less in his embrace. Hating the pain he could feel pouring off of Mulder, anxiety, uncertainty, and agony of wanting to believe. At the same moment both of them blurted out, "I'm sorry", and after a catch, half-laughed. He felt Mulder's arms tightening on him like iron. Then Mulder was seeking his mouth, desperate as if for long-needed air.
"Wait. Wait, baby." Denying him, his blind need, took all that Krycek could draw on. He settled his mouth near Mulder's neck, reached up and touched his soft hair. "I have to tell you something. Something I should have told you... that I found on the ship in McLean..." He was breathing in the scent of him, drinking the feel of Mulder against him. "I went into the database. I couldn't find the Smoker anywhere, under any of the aliases I knew. So there was nothing to link him to your mother." All the days and nights in his alien captivity, it had tortured him, that he might have died without honesty between them, but now... "Then... I found something I never... never expected. ...I should have told you, I just..." The scent of this ripe vanilla was the memory of the only good thing his life had given him, just one, but enough to make up for all the rest. His for one moment longer. Hair shagged for some undercover gig. Silk against his cheek. "So beautiful," he whispered. "The world is only there for you to make it beautiful."
His eyes had closed, the better to feel the long body, the breath, the coarsely shaven evening cheek, minute shifts of muscle, the warmth. There wasn't going to be a right time, an easy way. "William Mulder was my father."
He felt the words making their way into Fox's understanding. As non-sequitur, then meaning, then -- implications.
Fox jerked away.
Mulder was backed against the desk, face white.
"My mother was a lab tech with the project. They had been working not far from where you lived. She was his mistress for five years. I was born there. A couple of years later -- she left. Disappeared. Almost the same day your sister was abducted. They never found her. Or me. I checked to try and confirm it and there is no record of my mother being anywhere in Russia during those five years.
"She was using a different name then. But I recognized it. I -- I had tried to find her once, a long time ago. I found out what her original name had been. When I saw it there with your father's --"
He realized Mulder was probably not hearing him.
"I tried to do another DNA test, comparing yours with mine, but it wouldn't work. There's something wrong with my DNA.
"No," Mulder said, in a tone like cracking adamant. And then hatred erupted, a seething, hissing fury of destruction. "This." His hands jerked out. "This is what it's all been for. This is where you wanted me! Get out. Get out and don't ever come back!"
"Fox --" Krycek stepped closer as he said it and didn't even see the blow before it exploded on his cheek. He staggered back, his hand to his face.
"I trusted a snake and I'm supposed to be surprised when it bites me. Go on back to Cancer Man. Tell him it worked just great."
Mulder's face was twisted almost unrecogizably.
"Get out of my sight!" The scream startled even Mulder, as his chest heaved for more breath he backed a half-step. "I thought you were real." That had hardly any voice at all. "I thought it was all real. Just once." The heels of his hands ground into his eyesockets.
"Don't let me see you here again. Or anywhere else."
"No. Baby you know me. You know I --"
Mulder lurched up into his face, his breath sweet and hot. "I don't even know what color you bleed!" He shoved hard. Krycek staggered backward into the entry-hall, trying to keep his balance. He couldn't believe what was happening even though he'd expected anger and misery. Mulder shoved him again. He bumped the wall by the door. Mulder pulled the door open, grabbed his jacket with both hands and ejected him into the hall.
"Stay away from me. If I see you I swear to god I'll kill you. It's over."
He should fight back, make Mulder listen, defend himself -- But inside him was pain so great it was as if there were nothing left, any more, to defend.
Mulder gave him a last bitter, hate-filled look, and shut the door between them.
Krycek stumbled blindly down the building's back stairs, the way he'd always entered and left. They led to the basement access way, by the laundry-room, down among the storage and heating, power and water, the lifeblood of the building no one wanted to think about, shadowed, with muffled, dead-sounding echoes. He leaned against the wall a moment, before he made his feet move him on, down the cement hall where chutes from the floors above dumped bags of garbage into bins.
He smelled the sweet reek of the refuse. How many times had he been here... In alleys, with victims, contacts, men who wanted to suck his dick. Rear entrances, tunnels and sewers, places where no one else would go. With hours to wonder, sometimes, if a race that turned so much to garbage was worth saving.
He felt everything recede and knew the tidal wave of agony was standing up, taller than he could see, wider than he could outrun, faster than he could think.
He fell against the wall. Pain whited out everything. He slid down the rough surface and was on the floor.
He had given his soul to Mulder. Mulder had taken everything with him, there had been no time to get it back. Tundra stretched empty in all directions, consciousness, red hot, crucified at the center.
He could never have Mulder again. Never hold him, never be kissed by him till he became one with the tongue in him, the lips covering his mouth, the wet tastes and the muscular licking that owned him. Never see those eyes staring at him, the endless speculation, never hear that voice again, passionate or tender, pushing, questioning, accepting. Never, never, to just be in his presence, existences interpenetrated, be at the focus of that seductive mind.
Mulder could never have loved him, to throw him off like this, out of his life and sight forever. That nothing between them could have been what he'd thought it had been... his mouth opened with soundless agony.
How could Krycek do this to him...
Come back to him from the dead.
Only to tell him...
After these weeks of hell...
And he had known...
A furious sweep of Mulder's arm flung everything off his desk, papers and pencils and clips and crap flying up in a swarm for an instant, then scattering to the four corners of the room.
Krycek had known.
Krycek said he had just learned, that night in the buried ship.
What if he hadn't? What if he had always known?
But if he didn't believe Krycek about that, there was no reason to believe him about any of it. The preposterous chance, like a Dickensian coincidence.
But nothing the Consortium did had been coincidence.
They had told Krycek his genotype was wanted.
Had they sought him out?
Krycek had thought his partnership with them had started from a chance connection.
What would the Consortium have given to control, to hold the power of life and death, over both of William Mulder's sons?
Had his father been going to tell him about Alex, the night he was killed?
Or... was he going to tell Alex? Seeing him there, suddenly -- had his father even known that Krycek was his long-lost youngest child?
Or had Krycek been the one who had known?
Known all along, and led him into --
Salt flooded his mouth and he barely made it to the toilet. His soul vomited itself up, scenes rose in his heart, every vision of a different time he had fucked Krycek made his stomach roll and clench and bent him, over the disgusting mess from inside him, till he heaved empty, and still couldn't stop. Samantha... his father... his mother...
His mother... had known. He was sure of it suddenly as if it had all been written out for him like one of Krycek's precariously spelled reports: his mother had known his father had carried on an affair, it was one of the things that had split their family apart at the very heart, rottenness there, before Samantha disappeared, that that strike of lightning laid naked and open. The bitterness of his mother's mouth and eyes. Dry spite of comments, only once or twice, that had stuck with him ever since, so profoundly had he not understood them. His father often, so very often, not at home...
Had he been offered not two, but three, children to choose from, and chosen, first Fox, and then Samantha, to deliver up to the mob, and protect the secret of his heavenly visitors? Was Alex too precious, or perhaps only too small, to be a candidate? Child of illicit Cold War love -- a two-year-old, dandled in his father's arms --
Or had Alexei's mother, frightened by knowledge, fled with her baby back to Russia before the choice was made? To the man who would make a hell on earth for both mother and child, teach Alex lessons in incest he perhaps could not outgrow.
He had been twelve, sexual drive just starting to rev into high.
They had fought like sister and brother.
A beautiful little girl. Looking up to him, nagging to be with him when he didn't want her. Picking the lock on his bedroom door, bursting in on him, running screaming with mocking laughter from his pursuit. Sneaking through his things when he wasn't there. Why couldn't she leave him alone?
One day the fatal tactical error of trying the bursting-in game when Mom and Dad weren't home.
He had chased her down, tripped her to the floor and spanked her infuriating butt.
Samantha screamed like a banshee, outrage stretching her body. And between one instant and the next his own body changed his senses and emotions, from pure, frustrated anger to a -- terrible -- terrible -- desire to --
-- hurt --
-- some deep, intimate, way --
-- bad, wrong, and he wanted --
He'd given a final hard smack and stomped back to his room, and despite her yelling and heckling outside his door hadn't hit her again.
And would have thought no more about it.
But then one night she was gone.
He'd been alone with her and she was gone, he was found in terror, couldn't remember --
Of course they had questioned him, the police, and some of their questions --
Why couldn't he remember?
He'd lived with such fear, for so long... He knew he was innocent, but...
Psychology, crime, the impossible, all had drawn him, from that night, and now that he knew --
-- almost everything --
-- now, of all times, a kid brother struggling in his arms, under him, in his bed --
A last heave nearly brought up his insides themselves. He forced quiet on them, staggered to the sink and rinsed and rinsed his mouth and face -- contracted again, with nothing but drool leaving him -- quieted the last tightenings of his diaphragm, and wobbled out to his couch. His refuge.
The porno tapes on the coffee table threatened. He swept them into a bag and out of sight.
If it had been anyone else. Almost anyone else. He would just see it all as one horrific accident. But Alex. Krycek.
Could Fate really work so coincidentally like his alley-lurking lover, stabbing to the vitals from the darkest, most unexpected place?
Belief or disbelief -- either one cut him off from the source of all joy. Either Krycek was his brother, or Krycek was his betrayer.
The only hope left to him that his mother had rutted with the most loathsome man on the planet, and that that man had been his genetic father.
Was that the corner Krycek, and the Cancer Man, wanted him in? Owing not just his survival but his very life to that black-lunged son of a bitch?
His heart wanted him to believe that Krycek hadn't known.
But Krycek was the key.
Krycek always knew.
How could he not know this?
And would they really, ever, have let Krycek off his chain enough to sniff out a mate on his own?
The Consortium was gone. But the Smoking Man still followed his old agenda. Why not Krycek? What difference would it make to him what master's boots he licked?
The expression in his eyes...
There were still people in that town who thought Fox Mulder had killed his little sister, in some unspeakable twisted act of incestuous cruelty.
Krycek had looked agonized.
The great losses, you never really believed they could happen. His sister had been taken while he watched. His father shot just one room away.
If only --
Whole hunks of his life torn out. You never knew, until it happened, just how much.
The focus of so much seething hatred, passion. Not a heavy, rooted part of him like his family, yet a pain so mortal, unendurable, it had made him scream aloud, love sheared like flesh from him, when Alex died.
Alex had died for him.
How could he have forgotten that?
Alex had laid down what had always been his most precious possession, at Mulder's feet, like an offering.
How could the reflex of suspecting Krycek have returned after such a sacrifice? Krycek had come into his arms, stabbed him to the heart, with a truth he had already guessed Mulder could not survive.
But that truth, too, had been an offering. To the wholeness and soundness of his vision, the completion of the knowledge Mulder had so long sought. A piece in the puzzle, and who knew if it might not be a crucial one.
He had rejected the giver of that gift of pain.
He must. He had to.
This truth separated them forever. He could never have Krycek as a brother. Never see that body, look in those eyes, without desire.
But he needn't have thrown his own pain back so hard.
It had always been his failing as a friend and lover. To feel his own pain first, react, then only slowly comprehend what the other had endured. Intuition whited out by hurt.
Let Krycek suffer whatever he might suffer. They could never be again. Whatever it took to make that his reality, it might as well hit him now.
Could he be in a dream? Krycek back from the dead, and his brother? Dreaming, he sometimes suspected dream, and then the dream would work harder with sensations of everyday details to make him trust in its veracity.
Did he want to wake? Want Alex dead again?
His gun still needed to be cleaned and put away.
It was nearing dawn before Mulder worked his way to the dirty laundry.
He had organized and cleaned his entire living room, only resisting vacuuming out of consideration for sleeping neighbors, scrubbed the kitchen and put away all the familiar piles in the bedroom. He only had to get through another hour before he could go in to work. He shook the detergent jug; just enough left for a couple of loads. He crammed everything into the long Army surplus duffel bag, made sure he had his keys and quarters, and took the elevator down five floors to the basement. Two of the five machines there took his lights and darks. He tossed the hard plastic cap into the wastebasket, but the jug itself belonged in recycling. He went out the back way, past the furnace and into the creepy long alley-like corridor where garbage and recycling barrels hunched in the dimness against the wall. Someone had left a full black plastic bag next to one, he saw as he tossed the jug, or -- The quality of the light reflections off the black not quite--
He stood numb.
Feeling soaked back as if a ligature had been released.
Crouched with his side against the wall, knees to chest, head down on his good arm; the fake arm hung forgotten, plastic hand lifeless on the cement floor.
He had never seen him look like that. Even in prison -- Mulder breathed deep, smelled no lingering gunpowder or, god help us, almond.
No, it would be unlike him, he knew they still had to stop the aliens, save the fucking world...
If Alex wasn't planning to stay in the world, would he give a good goddam what happened to it?
As long as Mulder was still alive, Alex would save his world.
Getting his strength for taking Mulder one last word?
Getting his courage?
Mulder's limbs yearned.
Pity and anguish and love had completely filled him. The surfaces of his eyes stung. My lover.
Huddled down here like something discarded.
He took a slight step forward, and said softly, "Hey. Superspy."
In the blackness where he was he heard a sound.
A classless thunk that had no meaning and no impact.
It might have meant someone was near, or something was happening, or not.
If he took one step through the gate of nothingness that hung before him he might know answers, or one answer, to why the universe was the way it was, if a point to it existed, if emptiness was all, if death made being meaningless.
He might die.
He had to know.
The one sound that could color his awareness touched on him, turned and attached him and breathed his consciousness full of the world, of the voice.
He opened his eyes.
Mulder above him.
He could take nothing with him, to step through that gate was to relinquish. All.
Mulder looked down at him.
The gate was gone.
He blinked up at his world.
Mulder said, "Why did you come back?"
Mulder had told him never to come back.
"I didn't," he defended in ungainly excuse.
More was needed.
"I just didn't leave yet."
Mulder asked curiously, "You've been here all night?"
He looked toward the end of the corridor. Dim light was leaking in around the door there.
"I was... deciding where to go." Nowhere. Nowhere. There was nowhere.
He scraped himself painfully up the cement wall, knees and hip sockets not wanting to straighten.
He met and evaded Mulder's eyes.
Mulder said, "I cleaned my apartment."
Krycek held very still. He listened, as if in some echo he might hear again, or not hear, what he thought had played in lydian notes threaded through his lover's voice.
No. No. No.
It would be his fault, he should never have touched Mulder, never have let him see his erotic helplessness.
He lifted his gaze, that had never feared to look on truth before, and searched in Mulder's eyes, and the cast of his features, in that dim light below the ground. And the hazel eyes, liquid dark in those shadows, penetrated his terror, saw him, and though Mulder could not smile, his voice was softer, less brittle, less terrifying. "I didn't know what to do either," he explained carefully. Then he touched the black leather of Krycek's sleeve.
Krycek ducked his head, ashamed for Mulder to see exactly what reassurance he had needed. His heart still thudded painfully and he felt as if he were bleeding out from the sharp gash fright had cut through his misery. At first he hardly heard when Mulder spoke.
"I'm glad to have the chance to tell you... I'm sorry. For what I said."
When he could absorb it, Krycek heard it for what it was: apology for unnecessary roughness.
"It doesn't matter," he said emptily. Nothing mattered. (But the fear that his blow had scattered Mulder's carefully held sanity -- that had mattered. Mulder would always matter...)
"It does," Mulder contradicted. "None of it is your fault. If anything... I should have noticed. The resemblance. You look like him. Not the way I think of him but the way he looked when he was young, my god... It's there, and I just couldn't see it. Or wouldn't."
Krycek looked up desperately. "Why do you care?" he pleaded. "What difference does it make? We're not going to -- breed. Or it's not like we were brought up together, some twisted family psyche."
And saw Fox looking at him with compassion, and knew it was useless.
"Logically, you may be right. But... I have a gut reaction to incest. Literally. I spent the first part of the night throwing up."
Krycek stood there, and after a moment he heard Fox say softly, "Oh god."
He felt a touch on his unshaven cheek.
"What have they done to us..."
He stumbled forward and pulled Mulder to him, feeling the tidal wave sucking, dragging him back out to sea, in the culminating torture of a lifetime's agony. Mulder! Mulder oh god help me -- This empty otherness in his embrace. This universe that didn't want him any more. Please. Please. Please.
Mulder stroked the back of his neck, and he felt the good-bye in it. The tidal wave hauled at him.
"I'd do anything for you! Anything you want, anything you need --" he blurted. "If it's sick -- god knows -- it's the best I can do. Mulder... Mulder --"
But the hands were gently pushing him back.
Out to sea.
Why didn't they let me die?
Why bring me back...
His phantom arm sent a lightningstorm of pain through him, trying to reach, hold on --
"I'll find out!" he cried. Mulder was backing away slowly, sliding out of his real and ghostly hands. "I'll get that fucking Nazi's DNA if it's the last thing I ever do!" Mulder was nodding, but still backing away, and then he was gone, not in the corridor's shadows any more, and after a few moments Krycek heard the elevator, taking him away, out of the world down here where Krycek lived, up to the light of the breaking day.
End of Part 15