TITLE: Devil At The Crossroads AUTHOR: Spica ARCHIVE: Keep my headers attached and you can have it. DISCLAIMER: The X-Files and its characters belong to Chris Carter,
1013, and Fox. No copyright infringement is intended. CATEGORY: S, A, Krycek/Kim Cook RATING: R, to be on the safe side. SPOILERS: Krycek episodes up to and including Paper Clip. SUMMARY: Kim gets an unexpected visitor. He's had a very bad day. FEEDBACK: Is welcome indeed, to firstname.lastname@example.org ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Warm thanks to Vanzetti and KristenK2 for thorough
and inspiring beta, and to Kelly Keil who read this story in an early
version and gave sound advice. NOTES: This is for Kristen, whose lovely Kim/Krycek fics inspired
'Out of order'. Oh, joy. Today of all days.
Kim Cook was exhausted, and her feet were in pain. She stared
at the note taped to the elevator doors and swore.
She was home late. She'd stayed longer than she'd meant with
her boss at the hospital--stayed until he slept, to make sure he wouldn't
get up with his broken ribs and concussion and discharge himself the moment
she was out the door. Then she went back to the office to finish all the
work she'd left undone when she heard about the attack on Skinner.
And besides all that, learning about the attack and the perpetrator
had made unwelcome memories come back, guilt and resentment all over again.
Kim wasn't a person who liked to dwell on her past mistakes. To be reminded
of them like this upset her.
With a crabby sigh, she kicked off her shoes and started walking
in her pantyhose, shoes in hand, up the five flights of stairs to her
apartment. She met a downstairs neighbour and managed a smile and a nod
"One of those days?" enquired the woman with a sympathetic
"One of those," she agreed, shuffling on.
She'd missed her evening class tonight, too. Second week running.
Skinner had asked her to work overtime last week and she was kind of
embarrassed about her little self-improvement project, so she'd said
okay. She'd never hesitated at taking on overtime and thought it might
elicit questions if she suddenly started saying no. Strange, to feel so
shy of her boss. Skinner was decency personified and it wasn't like she
thought he'd ever make fun of her for something like that, but...
The fifth floor hallway was dark--both light bulbs were out.
She hesitated as she walked in, suddenly touched by a premonition. Her
door was at the far end of the corridor. She picked her way slowly in the
She'd almost reached the door, rooting around in her pocket
for her keys, when something separated itself from the murky density
at the end of the corridor and spoke to her.
"Working overtime, Kim?"
Choking a cry down to a squeak, she stared at the man with
dark unkempt hair hanging down in his eyes; dark green eyes whose intensity
was offset by thick, childlike lashes. He was pointing a gun at her.
"Agent Krycek." She checked herself, because of course that
title hadn't been correct for a long time, and substituted in confusion,
"How 'bout Alex? he muttered. "That's what you called me once,
Yes, she thought bitterly, once and never again.
"Are you gonna ask me in?" His voice was a sardonic rasp,
a sinister variation on the well-modulated huskiness that had made her
go weak in the knees last summer. Looking at him, hearing him, she could
barely believe that it was the same man.
She stared at his gun. "That's kind of a moot point, isn't
He smiled but his eyes were like dull stones. "Then what are
we waiting for?"
When she tried to unlock the door, her hands shook so badly
she couldn't insert the key. So much for her tough facade. He stood right
behind her, and he reached one arm around her and steadied her hand with
his own. Terror and a sickened, sticky warmth ran down her spine at his
touch. She remembered--God, she remembered-
--Swaying and turning in a slow waltz, held close while his
eyes (shiny then, bright olivine gems) held her, invaded her, then evaded
But the key turned and he let go and stepped aside, leaving
her to push the door open. She walked into her entrance hallway and he
followed close at heel. She heard the door close, heard the lock engage
and instinctively turned around to avoid having him at her back. Her
heart was suddenly hammering so painfully she couldn't think, couldn't
feel anything besides primal, physical, mortal fear. She was shaking, nauseous
and giddy and unconsciously glancing around her for a place to run and
She flashed to Skinner at the hospital, battered and bruised
and in pain after a vicious attack from this man. He'd dictated his report
on the attack to her, suggesting that Krycek might also be responsible
for the death of Mulder's father, who'd been buried this week--responsible
for Melissa Scully, who even now was fighting for her life in a hospital bed--
"Stop that!" His voice came like an explosion of anger and
she backed away a few stumbling steps, gasping aloud as she came up against
the living room door. He closed the distance between them in one long
stride and she drew breath to cry out. Immediately a hand closed hard over
her mouth, and she stared at him, terrorized.
Krycek's eyes shot fire at her. "Don't look at me like that.
Just fucking don't!"
She squeezed her eyes shut to escape his temper, and heard
him draw a deep, agitated breath. He must have realized his actions were
at odds with his words, because when he spoke again, his voice was comparatively
calm. "You're in no danger, understand? I'm not going to harm you, Kim.
I just need a place to clean up and stay for a couple of hours. Everyone's
looking for me, and I mean everyone. This was the best place I could think
of to go." He paused, then added, "Hey, open your eyes so I know you got
She obeyed, and cautiously, gauging her reaction second by
second, he moved his hand away from her mouth.
Her gaze darted warily to his right hand, which was holding
the gun to her even now, and he closed his own eyes for a second. "It's
just a prop," he muttered. He lowered the gun and looked at her again,
with a hard, calm appeal. "I'm not going to hurt you, because you're going
to be good, aren't you Kim?"
She nodded and swallowed heavily, feeling that every cell
in her body fiercely wanted only to live. Everything else was immaterial.
She was going to be good. She wasn't foolish.
--A bright-eyed agent kissing her good-bye outside this apartment
block, a balmy August night... Intoxicated by too much drink and too
much hope and his warmth and his kiss and wanting more, she asked him
inside and nearly cried when he turned her down--foolish, so foolish--
He took off his jacket with a grimace and a choked sound of
pain. "Switch on the light," he commanded.
She did, and gasped when she turned to look at him. Her shoes
fell from her hands. "What happened?" she asked curiously, taking in
the bruises on his soiled face and hands; his jeans with bloodied knees
visible through ripped denim. The white T-shirt was bloody and torn too,
and as dirty as could be. Despite herself, despite all reason, she felt
a moment of sympathy. He looked a bit like a little boy who'd taken a
nose-dive from his new bike.
"Shit happened," he answered curtly. "The big bang, and I
was too fucking near the middle of it. I need a shower." He dropped his
sports bag to the floor, pulling its zipper open. "And a change."
Kim watched as he found a change of clothes in the bag. The
clothes were new, price tags still on them, something he must have bought
in a hurry.
"Why don't you make yourself a little more comfortable?" he
asked without looking at her as he zipped the bag shut. "Because you're
coming into the bathroom with me."
"I beg your pardon?" she asked, her cheeks coloring.
His gaze fastened on her as he straightened up. His face was
blank and expressionless. "Take off your jacket," he suggested politely,
"unless you want it steamed while you're wearing it."
Relief made her go limp. He saw it, and smiled that hard unamused
smile again. "Oh," he said in epiphany. "Well, you can join me in the
shower if you want to. Tend my battle wounds or whatever."
At his joking tone, sudden defiance shot through her. She
felt all the anger rise in her again, all the crossness accumulated over
a particularly shitty day. "You know, I resent this," she said fiercely.
"I know you don't give a shit but I want it taken down that I resent it
"Mm hm. Just for the record, huh?" This time, he did sound
amused. He kicked off his boots and looked at her. "Bathroom--which way?"
She pointed out the bathroom door to him, her eyes stormy
"Come on." He threw her a glance over his shoulder as he walked
over there and opened the door. He waited for her. "You know, I could
wave this big gun around but I don't really see the point," he said, sounding
mildly exasperated now.
She had no illusion about getting out of this through a physical
struggle. Krycek seemed to have lost weight over the months since she
had been on that one date with him, but he still must be half again her
body mass. And he undoubtedly packed more meanness in his pinkie finger
than she did in her entire self. She flung off her jacket and marched into
"You look like Mary Poppins when you're angry," he said behind
her, and she could tell that he was goading her. "Or Julie Andrews, you
"Well, you look like a half starved sewer rat!" she fired
back, stung by his taunt.
He grunted with laughter. She turned and saw him putting the
gun down on the floor just outside the bathroom door. He closed the door,
turned the key and reached to deposit it on the shelf in the shower. Stretching
must be painful for him. This time, his grunt was of discomfort, and
his movements were careful as he started pulling off his T-shirt. "Don't
try anything," he warned from inside the T-shirt. "I could snap your
neck in half a sec. Without even looking."
"I won't... try anything," she said, the casual threat sending
a new icy heaviness to her stomach, extinguishing her flare of temper.
She stood back in the corner, wishing her bathroom had been bigger. Or
that Alex Krycek had been smaller. He stood so near she could have touched
him without fully extending her arm; so near she could smell him--blood and
sweat and fear and anger radiating off his large frame. And gasoline. He
smelled like fire.
His T-shirt fell discarded on the floor. His chest was bleeding
where a scab had followed the shirt off his body. His ribs were bruised
blue. He pressed his fingers to them stoically, only narrowing his eyes
at the pain.
"Damn," he said. "This proves it. Man isn't meant to fly."
"I bet they aren't anywhere near as bad as Skinner's." It
just sort of slipped out, more snide than she had intended. But he took
no offense, just shrugged.
"I guess not. You think I had it coming, huh?"
She couldn't find her voice, because now he was unbuckling
his belt, unbuttoning the fly in his jeans. She caught a glimpse of white
cotton underneath and her gaze flew up to his face. He looked resigned
more than anything.
"Jesus, relax. I'm not going to jump you. Pretty though you
are," he said, the addendum not really sounding flirtatious--matter-of-fact,
She felt flushed. In escape, her gaze drifted sideways from
his face and fastened on her reflection in the mirror. Blue eyes stared
back at her, large with apprehension. Her red-blond hair hung limp around
her face because she'd taken out the barrette after it started giving
her a headache earlier in the evening. She looked weary and scared, not
pretty. Maybe he had meant it as sarcasm. But she guessed she must be some
sort of pretty, anyway. A few men had told her so--even Skinner, one night
when she'd been all aglow with anticipation because she was going on a date
after work. A date, as it so happened, with Alex Krycek.
Bright color caught her eye in the mirror. There was a gash
of about a hand's breadth on his left shoulder blade. It was slowly seeping
He pulled off his briefs and jeans in one move, stepping naked
out of them and into the bathtub. He didn't draw the shower curtain closed.
His battered body was heavy-boned and hard-muscled and if he was embarrassed,
he hid it well.
Kim was embarrassed, though. In the mirror she saw her cheeks
go from flushed to pale and back again. His nakedness felt like a threat
on more than one level.
"Pardon the affront to your modesty," he muttered, as he turned
the shower on. "I've just gotta keep an eye on you, you know? Wouldn't
want you to get any ideas about re-enacting the Psycho shower scene from
a feminist point of view. Sit down. Sit *down*. Fucking *please*?"
Weakly, she took a step to the side and sank down on the closed
toilet lid. Krycek took her bottle of shower gel and squeezed some into
his hand. She looked at the closed drawers in her bathroom dresser, trying
to think if she had anything in there that was instantly lethal. Preferably
something that made people die in throes of excruciating agony.
"Uh-uh. Keep your eyes on me," he snapped, eyes suddenly blazing
at her while he kept lathering himself with soap. "I've had a crap week,
get it? I guarantee that you don't want to get into a situation with me.
I said I wouldn't hurt you unless you gave me reason to, and I mean it."
That man could be convincing. And apparently, he was psychic.
She stared at him, trying to keep her gaze vacant. The steam dispensed
a sweet fragrance of lavender all over the room. Hot damp air made her
shirt and pantyhose start to cling to her skin. She wished she weren't wearing
hose. She wished she'd had the jacket after all. She thought of Krycek
dancing with her. She thought of Skinner's taped ribs. She thought of Krycek
kissing her. She thought of Scully's sister.
He was sporting a growing erection. He washed himself unceremoniously.
He only met her gaze once, intently askance under his lashes, but by then
he was gently cleansing his grazed knees. He rinsed off the soap, washed
his hair quickly with the shower gel, and asked for a towel.
"They're in the bedroom."
"I'll use yours." He nodded to the towel hanging on the rack,
and she pulled it down and gave it to him. She didn't look away while
he toweled himself dry, determined not to elicit a new humiliating reprimand.
She looked at his chest--as close to neutral middle ground as she could
He stepped out of the bathtub and pulled on the boxers that
lay on the top of his heap of new clothes. He looked down at his knees.
"You got some band-aids? And something to put on my shoulder."
She reached for a drawer, but an impatient hand caught her
wrist. "Just tell me where it is," he suggested firmly.
She looked up at him, into his wary eyes and her stomach dropped.
Her wrist felt branded by his touch. She felt sticky and sweaty and she
was very aware that he was stronger than her and very close and visibly
turned on. And there was more there. He looked like he was drunk sick on
power. He looked like he wanted to cry. He looked like he hurt so bad he
wanted to hurt someone in turn.
"Upper drawer," she croaked. She could hardly even swallow,
her throat was so dry.
He licked his lower lip, looking at her with those guarded
gleaming eyes for a second before reaching out with his other hand and
pulling the drawer open. He found the box of band-aids, a roll of gauze
and surgical tape, and glanced back at her.
"Okay, let's move the show to the kitchen."
He retrieved the key from the shelf, picked up the rest of
his clothes and unlocked the door. He bent to pick up the gun in a fluid
motion and waited for her outside. With an ironic flourish of one hand
he beckoned her before him. "Après vous, Miss Poppins."
(She remembered calling him from her office after a week of
warm smiles and general pleasantries between them. They'd met for ten
seconds at the elevators down in the entrance hall, he going down to the
basement office, she on her way up after a lunch break out of the building.
She'd seen Agent Mulder cross the street as she came back. She knew Krycek
was alone down there, and called him in a moment of impulsive courage.
"Agent Krycek speaking."
At the sound of that sensual voice without the friendly smile
to accompany it, her stomach twisted into a knot and her brain froze.
He sounded preoccupied.
"Um, hello." She gripped a pen on her desk and fidgeted with
it nervously. Just a phone call. She handled dozens of them with aplomb
each day, dammit. "Um, it's me. Kimberly Cook."
"Hello there." He was carefully polite. It occurred to her
he might not remember her name.
"Um, Kim. A.D. Skinner's assistant?" she clarified, her face
"I remember," he said patiently, "seeing as we spoke five
"Um...right. Hello." She took a deep breath. "I thought that
we maybe... that you maybe..."
"Yes?" he said, unhelpfully. Was there a smile in his voice?
She got the notion he might be rolling his eyes. She was sweating.
"That if you're free tonight, that you maybe want... that
you maybe would like to... um..." She cleared her voice. It was the sound
of despair. She hoped he didn't notice but she thought he probably did.
There was laughter creeping into his voice now.
"That I maybe want... maybe would like to... um? I don't generally
*um* on a worknight--"
She slammed the receiver down on the hook, her heart racing
as she swore under her breath. "Bastard! Piece of shit!"
Ten seconds later, her phone rang. She took it, checking the
number. It was from the X-files office.
"Kim Cook, A.D. Skinner's office." Her voice was wary.
She made an abortive sound between rage and amusement. "Yes?"
"Um...I thought... I thought that we maybe... that you perhaps
would like to...um...."
Her breath came out in a half-outraged whoosh of laughter.
He laughed too. "That's too kind. Really," he admitted. A minute later, she had a date with Agent Krycek for the evening.)
In the kitchen, she located the scissors while he put wide
band-aids on the grazes on his knees. He dressed the scrape on his chest
with gauze and surgical tape, then put rubbing alcohol on his hands, a
low stream of profanities coming from his lips as the liquid burned his
cuts. He pulled on his jeans and craned his neck to look behind him. "How's
my shoulder look?"
"A shallow gash," she said. "Four inches."
He cut up gauze and handed it to her with the roll of tape.
"Put this on."
Hesitantly, she took it. "You should put on the rubbing alcohol
"You're just itching to hurt me, aren't you?" He handed her
the bottle and another piece of gauze, but froze as he looked over at
the answering machine on the kitchen counter. "You've got a message."
"I'll put it on later," she replied, loath to let him violate
her privacy more than he had already done.
"I want to hear it. It might be from Skinner."
"Then by all means turn it on," she snapped. She put rubbing
alcohol on a cotton ball and pressed it hard to his gash.
"Mary Poppins," he hissed. "Bitch."
Somehow, the pain in his voice gave her no satisfaction. The
touch of his hot skin was like a caress to her fingertips. She relented
and swiped the cotton ball gently the length of the gash, then put it
away. He leaned forward and pressed Rewind, then the Play button.
"Hiyah Kim. Long time no see."
"Hi Rob," she replied automatically to her little brother.
"I'll be in town next weekend. You want to meet up, go to
a concert, have a beer?"
"I'll call you when I get there. Bye."
Krycek pressed the Stop button. He looked over his shoulder,
inscrutable. "You talk to your answering machine."
She blushed. "So?"
"Nothing." He pressed Play again. Another message came on.
"Hi Kim." It was her sister. "Lizzie wanted to call and ask
Lizzie's thin and lispy three-year-old's voice came on. "Auntie
Kim, do angels' feet show when they fly? Mom doesn't know."
"Tough one." She narrowed her eyes. "Stand still," she muttered
to Krycek, who was looking at her again, his face grave and expectant
as if he'd been wondering about that exact same theological question, and
couldn't wait to hear the oracle's answer.
"Because I'm painting one and I need to know. Call me when
you find out, okay? Bye."
"Okay, sweetie. Bye." She looked back up at Krycek, whose
savage face was gentle now, his eyes closed as her fingers tended to
his injured shoulder blade. She felt a strange shiver run down her spine.
She had a sudden crazed impulse to kiss him there, but didn't. Of course
Do angels' wings break when they fall? she wondered.
New message. Walter Skinner spoke. "Hello Kim. Sorry for calling
"That's okay but you should be in bed, you stubborn--"
"I'm at the office."
"Hah. I knew it." She was overplaying it, nervous about what
Skinner might inadvertently give away to Krycek. Not that Skinner regularly
left undetonated information bombs on her answering machine, but still.
"I need the report from Friday's director's meeting. Can you
call me if you know where it is? I'll be here until midnight. Thanks. Bye."
"It's on your desk. You're woozy on painkillers, Walt. You
should be in bed." She looked at Krycek. "Can I call him back?"
He shook his head. "Nope. Skinner'll just have to get by without
that report until tomorrow." He frowned. "'Walt'?" he asked.
"Only when we meet on the answering machine," she replied,
blushing again. "There," she said, fastening the final strip of tape.
"Okay." He smiled at her in thanks. It was the fresh agent's
smile--quick, alert, warm--and it looked out of place in the face of this
stranger with killer's eyes and long, soft hair. "I'm starving," he said,
starting to pull on the clean T-shirt. "Could you fix me something?"
"I don't really cook," she said evasively, feeling a pang
of performance anxiety of all things.
"Kimberly Cook," he said, his head emerging from the neckline
of the shirt, "doesn't cook." His eyes were laughing at her now.
"Very funny," she said. "I'll make you a sandwich," she offered
reluctantly. "Is walnut pate all right?"
"Walnut pate?" Mock horror crept into his features. "Oh no,
she's a vegetarian."
She huffed defensively. "I suppose killers only eat bloody
She regretted that instantly. Krycek's face went flat and
savage again. "Just fix me the goddamned sandwich. Make yourself one
too, while you're at it. And if you've got anything as brutish as a beer,
that would be excellent."
Krycek sat down at the kitchen table, looking sullenly at
her. He had the gun beside him on the table. She put walnut pate on soft
wholewheat bread and pressed another slice on top, then cut it diagonally.
She brought him the sandwich on a plate and a bottle of beer from the
fridge, and leaned against the kitchen counter watching him wolf the food
down. She decided not to make anything for herself--there was no way she'd
be able to get it down. "How long are you staying?" she asked eventually.
"Not that the hostess is looking at her watch," he commented.
"I take it you meant 'the hostage'," she said sharply.
"Oh Jesus, cut the drama, Kim. Grab yourself a beer. That's
a fucking order." He sounded weary. "I'm leaving when I get a phone call
I'm waiting for. You'll survive."
God, she hoped that wasn't just a figure of speech.
He pushed away the plate as she returned with her beer. "So,"
he said. "What do you propose we do to pass time? Something fun that
will keep me awake and keep us both occupied." Kim heard a teasing note
in Krycek's husky voice and thought he might be trying to intimidate her.
Or just pull her leg for the hell of it.
She gave him a cool look as she reached out her hand to the
bookshelf on the opposite wall. "Game of cards?" She pulled out the deck
of cards and held it forth.
Slowly, a grin spread on his face. He looked at her, nodding
with a pleased expression. "Not a bad idea."
Kim drew a card and threw down another on the discard pile
with nonchalant flair. She smiled and arranged her cards into neat groups
"We haven't got all night," she said with a supercilious look
at Krycek over her hand of cards.
"I don't fucking believe this," said Krycek, combing his fingers
through his hair in frustration. She'd beaten him at gin rummy three times
straight and was pretty sure of her fourth victory.
"I've got five brothers and sisters I've practiced on since
I was in pre-school," she said smugly. "You'd better believe it."
"Fuck." He surveyed his cards carefully, evaluating his options,
and pulled a card from the stock pile. He made a quick, tiny grimace as
he laid down the Ace of Spades.
She drew again. With a superior smile she knocked. "Gin. Sorry."
"Just a lucky streak," he opined with a scowl after she'd
counted the score. He gathered the cards and put them back in the plastic
box. He was trying to make a joke of his poor attitude, but she could
see that underneath the act there was truth to it. Alex Krycek evidently
didn't like to lose at anything, not even a game of cards.
Kim couldn't hold back a smirk. "Too bad I didn't know you
were a bad loser; I'd have let you win the last round."
He glanced up at her sharply and barely smiling, an almost
ominous note in his voice. "Bad loser, huh? Well, let me tell you, lady,
my luck may be changing."
Her glee at her victory faded into unease as he cast an exasperated
glance at his watch, then muttered an expletive under his breath. He closed
his eyes briefly as if praying for patience. Kim stared at him in dismay,
with a little prayer of her own that whatever was eating at him would
work out as he wanted, and not leave him stranded here. He opened his
eyes again to find her watching him anxiously, and gave her a pointed glare.
She swallowed and looked away, regretting her flippant comment.
She wanted nothing more than to stay on Krycek's good side, but with
him so highly strung that seemed to be a question of hit-or-miss.
He got up from his chair and stretched over to the bookshelf
to put the deck away, pausing as he saw the titles there.
"What's this? You a student?"
She blushed as though he'd caught her with a collection of
pornography, and grabbed his empty plate to put it in the sink. From the
corner of her eye, she sensed his gaze following her, much too perceptive
"Modern political history," he mused, pulling out a book.
"Funny, I didn't have you pegged for a modern political history kind
Oddly, that smarted. "It's just evening classes," she said
shortly. "Just something I thought might be fun to do."
He raised an eyebrow. "Fun?"
She shrugged. "Well, interesting. Useful. It's good knowing
things, you know? Anyway, I may quit the classes. There's been a lot
of overtime at work lately. It's hard to find time to do the reading and
attend classes." She hated the way the last bit came out sounding like
a half apology. It was no doubt more information than he'd wanted, anyway.
He sat down again, leafing through the book. He seemed restless,
tense, as if this was just something to do, something to occupy his hands
and his thoughts for a few seconds, but when he looked at her those green
eyes were sharp and provocative. "What's your background, anyway?" he
Damn. He'd got it in one. Found her sore spot with killer
instinct, and she jumped reflexively. "What's it to you?"
"Hey, I'm the guy with the gun, remember? Humor me," he said
Kim got a hollow feeling at the pit of her stomach. Earlier,
his teasing had seemed innocent and almost flirtatious, rather like a
boy tugging at a girl's pigtails to get her attention. But meeting Krycek's
gaze now, she felt more like the same girl trying to get past the schoolyard
bully, scapegoat for all his accumulated frustrations. She pressed her
suddenly sweaty palms to her skirt.
"I went straight out of high school to the temp pool at the
Bureau," she snapped. "I didn't want to go to college, I just wanted
to get a job and earn some money for myself."
"Whoa. Such a sensitive little thing," he grinned. "You worked
your way up the Bureau ladder then?"
She stared at him, unsure what he was getting at. "I got a
spot at Skinner's office when his former assistant moved on and he must
have warmed to me. I've been with him for six years now."
"Warmed to you? I bet he did," Krycek said with that slow
feral smile that sent an icy river coursing through her veins. "What
did you have to do, suck his cock? Don't need a degree for that, you know."
She gasped and before she had time to think, she grabbed the
nearest thing on the counter--a ceramic cup--and sent it hurtling in his
direction. He ducked, his eyes flashing satisfaction at the crash of
the cup against the wall, and in the next moment he was close to her,
grabbing her by the upper arms and holding her in a firm grip. He was
grinning. He looked wildly unhappy. He had that look again like he just
wanted to take his fury out on something--someone. Spoiling for a fight,
realized Kim, or spoiling for--
She stilled in his arms, an instinctive act of self-defence,
gaze lowered to a point below his shoulder. "I know there are rumors about
Skinner and me on the gossip mill," she said through clenched teeth, her
voice barely audible. "Is that why you came on that date with me, because
you thought it would be easy to make me suck your cock?"
"Hell yeah," he fired back. "And you asked me upstairs, didn't
you? On the first date. Shit, you were just too easy. No challenge."
At that taunt she raised her head slowly after all, dazed
but facing him with precarious dignity. There was dizzy blood lust in
his eyes, but as he took in her expression, something shifted. She felt
it like a stiffening through him, a moment almost of disorientation, before
he took a harsh breath and closed his eyes. His features were set in angry
"No," he exhaled, and more forcefully, "Fuck!" and then he
let go of her and walked back to the table, putting her book quickly, neatly
back on the shelf.
They were quiet for long seconds. Kim tried to breathe through
pain and anger and threatening tears. Krycek stood looking at the scattered
debris of the ceramic cup. At last, he spoke with his back to her, his
voice gritty and tense. "I shouldn't have said that. I never thought that.
I never did. I never heard any fucking rumors at all."
And then he looked at her again with the expression of a heartsick
child. "I'm sorry, Kim. Damn, I'm sorry."
"I'm not stupid, you know." She spoke rapidly, too agitated
to even be afraid. "I know I'm really good at my job. I know Skinner
would never settle for anything less. But sometimes I miss clues. Things
the agents say, jokes and little... educated asides... and I think I probably
ought to know more. About connections and stuff... The way things work in
the world. Because that's good, you know, to know things? I'm not doing it
for them, I'm doing it for me. But I don't want people thinking that Skinner's
little assistant has got airs all of a sudden."
"Stop," he said and he was right in front of her again, a
hand rising towards her flaming cheek but falling away before it touched.
"You don't have to... You're right. It's good to know things. It's good.
You ought to tell Skinner. He'd make sure you had time for your classes.
Don't be so damn proud about it."
"Maybe I will," she said, her throat still tight and aching.
"Listen," he said, "The reason I went with you on that date
was because I knew things were going to hell and I needed distraction
and when you called I... I thought being with you would give me that.
That it might feel good. That's all, Kim."
"Right," she said in a dull voice.
"And I didn't come upstairs with you because I knew the shit
was going to hit the fan any day, and I... I just didn't want you to--"
He stopped himself abruptly and looked away.
"Oh yes," she said. "You're a real Sir Galahad, Krycek. Gallantry
He shook his head, his voice coming breathy and staccato.
"I shouldn't have said--what I just said--but things are so crazy now.
This insane thing just happened... Do you know how Scully's sister is,
It was the last thing she had expected to hear. "Skinner told
me today that she is critical, but stable. It's touch and go."
"I didn't shoot her. Fuck, I didn't. I made the crazy bastard
stop at a phone booth to make an emergency call. Fucking booth was busted,
the phone ripped out. And the next one, too. And then we just drove.
I thought she must surely be dead by then. Jesus fucking Christ."
It was on the tip of her tongue that it wasn't the busted
phone booths' fault that Melissa Scully was lying in a coma, but she
didn't dare say it and there was an edge in Krycek's voice that made her
not really want to either. He took a step away.
"What about Agent Mulder's father?" she asked.
He shook his head, his lashes hiding his eyes as he picked
up his gun from the table and threw a glance at his watch. "Come on," he
said. "Let's go into the other room."
Without waiting to see if she followed, he walked past her
through the open arched doorway into the living room. He switched on the
TV and dropped into her couch with the remote, looking wildly out of place
in the room with its assortment of old painted furniture, bright crockery,
family photographs and flowering plants. He switched through channels while
she hovered by the door, watching him uneasily. He was quicksilver restless,
annoyance visibly building in him at every new flickering image until
at last with a disgusted sigh he left it at a hard rock music channel,
sound yanked up way too loud for her comfort.
(In the bar, after they'd eaten their meal, she'd felt disappointed,
bordering on angry. She could tell his thoughts were miles away half of
the time. If he hadn't wanted to come, why the hell had he called her back
In the end, hurt and confused and giving up on trying to keep
the conversation going, she'd said, "Well, Alex; it's been nice but maybe
I should... should get going. It's late and--"
"No, Kim." He came back from wherever he'd been in his mind,
stroking his hand tensely through his hair. "Damn, I'm sorry. I'm just
a little... pissed off, I guess. I'd looked forward to working with a
partner, but Mulder's not even bothering to keep me informed what he's up
to." He looked somehow very young in the way he shrugged, half embarrassed,
half resentful, meeting her gaze. "I tried to reach him all afternoon, turned
out he'd taken off to the hospital to check in with the guy they're holding
in that hostage case, which wasn't even an X-file to begin with--"
Looking into his earnest eyes, she'd had no suspicions of
foul play at all.
"It's not that late," he said, boyish appeal in his voice,
but it was the hard pleading look in his eyes that made her relent--something
almost frantic there. "Let's dance. Just a little while. And then I'll
take you home."
So they stayed on and swayed to the sentimental piano music.
Blue moon. You saw me standing alone. Kim had felt him relax, felt him
fall into the ease of the moment, and it had made her feel so good that
she could do that for him. His face rested against her hair, her cheek against
the hard warmth of his chest below his right shoulder, as she breathed
in an intoxicating scent that was a mix of the cigarette smoke in the room
and his clean sweat and the light spice of his cologne. She was completely
relaxed and she followed his minute moves with hypnotic conviction. She
felt she could nearly fall asleep like this. She could feel that he was
hard for her and she rested softly against his hardness.
They danced until the pianist called it a night.)
Kim felt indignation gnawing at her. Righteous anger, even,
as she stared at Krycek leaned back on her couch and completely ignoring
her, legs sprawled in front of him and gaze fixed at the TV screen. The
sound waves from the music pounded through the room like a monstrous heartbeat.
He'd put the remote on the table, and she walked over there
and grabbed it.
Before she had time to adjust the sound down, Krycek's hand
shot out and closed firmly around hers, and she looked up to find him
studying her with a frown of bemusement. "What the hell's up with you?"
He pried the remote away from her with his free hand, and placed it on
the table again. "Are you picking a fight now?"
"It was you who did that," she said, angry and unnerved. His
observation was too close to target. She'd known what she did would provoke
a reaction, and it hadn't stopped her from doing it. "You turned up the
volume on purpose."
Krycek's eyes darkened. He held calmly on to her hand as she
tried to tug it back, pulling her a little closer by it instead so she
stood between his long legs. "So what are you going to do about it?"
"Oh, I know I'm in no position to negotiate," she replied
fiercely, giving up on her effort to free her hand since all it accomplished
was to remind them both that she was at his mercy. "But seeing as you
had the gall to call me your 'hostess,' is it too much to ask that you
act like a guest?"
Krycek contemplated her with keen deliberation for a moment,
then abruptly reached out and turned off the sound. "I guess that's fair
enough," he murmured.
The sudden silence seemed as deafening as the music had been,
hammering with tension and different heartbeats. She couldn't look away
from the intensity in his eyes. She felt his thighs brush against her
legs and it gave her an uncertain sensation like being close to falling.
Her face burned. "Then let go of me."
He glanced down at her hand clasped in his own. His grip gentled,
and the calloused pad of his thumb swiped slowly crosswise over her palm.
His mouth turned up a little as her breath left her in a small hiss.
"Am I getting on your nerves, Kim?" Rubbing very softly at the middle
of her palm now as his gaze found hers again, his voice whisper-dry, like
tinders waiting for the slightest spark.
She swayed and had to consciously steady herself, all the
blood redirecting in her body in a warm, almost nauseous rush. Krycek's
face was intent, pupils dilating as he watched her reaction, lips parted
on a careful intake of breath. They stared mutely at each other for a few
seconds, then she swallowed hard and tore her hand away a bit too forcefully.
He hadn't been holding it hard at all.
"You're not... getting on my nerves," she stammered. "I'm
just... mad at you."
"Yeah... I noticed." His voice was pensive, his full focus
was on her face, and shame took her in a drowning wave. He'd seen what
she'd felt--what she'd never, in fact, quite stopped feeling whenever
she was reminded of him, even as desperately as she'd wanted to blot him
out of her memory.
"Why did you come here, anyway?" she demanded, resentful and
breathless as she backed a few steps away. The back of her legs collided
with her big easy chair and she sank down on the edge of the seat, glad
for an excuse to hide her shakiness. "Why here of all places?"
At that, he merely shrugged, still with that speculative look.
"I needed somewhere to hide, that's all."
"Why not a motel? Or a bar? It would have been less hassle,
"Oh, you're not as much trouble as you think," he said lazily,
but with a spark of impatience igniting in his eyes. "I bought the clothes,
okay? I needed to clean up and change and to get out of sight. The thought
of you just... occurred to me. They would look for me in motels, in bars.
They'd never think to look for me with Skinner's P.A."
He sounded defensive, like he needed to rationalize his choice
to himself as much as to her, and it spurred her on, vindictiveness hot
in her. "But it's a risk for you," she insisted stubbornly. "This way, Skinner
will eventually learn your movements. If you need to lie low, there must
be a hundred places--"
Somewhere at the back of her mind, clues were stretching out
to make connection...
"Oh, I get it," he broke in with obvious annoyance, cutting
off her tingle of intuition. "You want me to tell you how I have cherished
the memory of you in my heart all these months. How I have lain on my
lonely bed at nights sighing the little secretary's name. How I couldn't
resist the chance to see her beloved face just one more time."
The sarcasm in his tone left her agape. But Krycek smiled
all of a sudden, a secretive tiger's grin. "Well, screw all that. But
for the sake of honesty, I haven't forgotten about you, Kim. That blushing
earnest face as you asked poor troubled Agent Krycek up for a pity fuck--how
could I forget?"
She stared at him, taking this in. Then, because she knew
this was a game, his game, and there was no way she could beat him at
it playing by his rules, she broke the rules and simply answered in bitter
honesty. "It wouldn't have been a pity fuck. I don't do those."
"Was it all an act?" she demanded. "Were you... were you at
all anything like... the person I thought you were, back then?"
"Kim. It's only a year ago," he muttered, looking away. "You
look at me now and tell me how much you believe a guy can change over a
Her throat felt dry. She charged on, driven by a passion she
could scarcely understand. "I thought you... looked at me in a special
way. I thought you liked me. You acted decent."
He gave a strange hard chuckle. "Yeah?"
"Were you?" she asked, near tears.
"Jesus God, Kim. No. No I wasn't." He looked at her suddenly,
eyes piercing her with swift harsh honesty. "How can you ask that? You
know what I did. Those weren't the actions of a decent man."
"But to me--"
"This is how it was," he said, his voice harsh too, but with
a gritty tenderness running through it. "I... was getting involved in
dangerous games. And I knew I was. But I didn't figure I had much of a
choice in the matter, so I didn't waste any fucking guilt over it."
He took a hard breath. "And still--I was green. And nervous
like hell. And there you were, all honest and clean, smiling at me as
though I were ice cream you wanted to lap up. Do you have any idea how seductive
honesty can be when you're wading in deception?"
Kim just stared, then swallowed. "No."
He laughed softly, shaking his head. "Of course you don't.
I remember one day when I was going with Mulder in to Skinner's. And Mulder
just ranted on, blatantly disregarding Skinner's authority. I saw you
looking at Mulder when we came out again, your face like an open book.
I saw you wanted to go over there and smack him."
"I've never wanted to smack Agent Mulder," she defended herself
Krycek grinned suddenly. "Would you swear to that on
Kim kept staring, trying to hold back inappropriate amusement.
"I plead the fifth."
"You're like that. Straightforward, quick to temper and smiles
and... I wanted you. I wanted to fuck you, to..." He paused, rubbing his
hand down over his mouth and chin in a resigned gesture. "I don't know.
To touch something honest. Just pretend. Just for the while."
"But you didn't," she said, insisting on something she couldn't
quite grasp a hold of.
"But I had every intention to."
"But you *didn't*."
He chuckled and shook his head, eyes flashing impatiently
at her. "Whatever it is you're driving at, Kim, it's a moot point. Maybe
you're right. Maybe I was something then that I'm not anymore."
He got up from the couch then, walked over to the windows
and looked out on the street, his back straight and forbidding.
His silence gave her time to collect her thoughts. Krycek
had been in some kind of accident. He was angry; he'd had that look of
betrayal and triumph warring in his eyes since he got here. *They* were
looking for him. Meaning, probably, the smoking man and whatever hierarchy
of demons he surrounded himself with. Krycek must have been targeted
somehow. He must have gotten away with something important--information
against them, or just... information...
Kim's face felt scalded with heat as she realized. Krycek
had stolen the tape from Skinner this morning, and a few hours later,
they'd attempted to--hurt him? kill him?--but he'd gotten away with what
they all wanted. No wonder he was pacing like a caged tiger. No wonder
he was giving off all those signals of triumph and rage.
She tried to look unaffected as she stole a glance through
the kitchen doorway at his leather jacket hanging over the chair he'd
used. Her heart was thudding. If she could give Skinner that... Give him
that back to use against the smoking man...
Krycek's cell phone beeped, and he turned as if jolted by
an electric shock, his whole focus narrowing as he went out of the living
room into the entrance hallway and replied in a hushed voice. He left the
door ajar, but couldn't consider her a serious threat any longer because
he turned his back halfway from her. She heard him speaking intently and
quickly into the phone in a cadence that went from querying to affirmative.
She thought he might not be speaking English, but she was barely noticing.
Her heartbeat thundered in her ears, so loud it muted out
the sound of his voice as she very gently walked the five-six paces into
the kitchen, leaving him out of her range of view, slipped her hand into
the inner pocket of his leather jacket, and struck gold.
She turned quickly around to go back... and stared into green.
Angry, ice-glazed, astonished green.
Her searing disappointment blocked out the fear she ought
to have felt, and instinct took over. She ducked and charged past him
into the living room, and got all of three paces before he tackled her
from behind, landing her flat on her stomach on the broad pine floorboards
before she was flipped over and had him over her.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he panted. "What
She bucked impotently under him, surged against him with anger
and frustration. "It's Skinner's," she gasped. "It's Skinner's tape, you
asshole, he had it and you took it from him and you hurt him and I just
want to give him back what's his. It's *his*!" she snarled into his face,
ready to spit, really gathering saliva in her mouth to spit in his face.
He saw what she was trying to do and there was a shock of recognition
in his eyes; then instantly his hand was over her mouth, crushing down
hard so she didn't have leeway to bite him.
"Don't you fucking dare!" he said in a low, deadly voice,
his eyes very bright and hard. "*No one* does that to me. *Never* again."
She breathed hard through her nose, small sounds in her throat
from the exertion of filling her lungs, and registered at the same time
that someone before her had been crazy enough to spit in Krycek's face.
Whoever it had been--Mulder, the smoker?--the memory of it seemed to be
a small shard of insanity lodged in Krycek's mind.
"Is that understood?" he demanded, still with that lethal
quiet. She closed her eyes to his blistering rage, considering nodding
in submission. She found she didn't have it in her. She had used up all
her submissive resources for one day. He would just have to accept her
passivity as tacit agreement.
But she had underestimated Krycek's need to make his point.
The next time he spoke, his lips were so close they were brushing her
Kim turned her face and opened her eyes to lock with his again,
and since her mouth had no maneuvering room to tell him to go fuck himself,
she made a concentrated effort to express that sentiment with her gaze
instead. Even ordinary women could be pushed to their limit. Pride wasn't
the prerogative of the regal Dana Scullys of the world. She didn't think
Krycek would kill her, and any other fate seemed preferable to capitulation
at this point.
Any other, until she felt his tongue snake lightly inside
her ear, and the full panorama of possibilities suddenly unfolded in
her mind. He traced the inner rim of the shell of her ear, his breath
warming the tender whorls before the tip of his tongue followed. And his
skill was... devastating. She cursed herself as heat coursed through her.
Krycek had seen her attraction to him. So of course he knew how best to
torment her. Not pain, but this... this unbearable...
His hand lifted from her mouth and she was mortified to hear
the trapped, shaky groan that immediately escaped over her lips.
"Is that understood?" breathed Krycek in her ear, and though
he didn't sound angry anymore, in fact he sounded as if he might have even
forgotten what he was asking her, she was really going to say it--she was
going to forego all pride and whisper 'Yes' and save herself, but she couldn't,
she couldn't. Because she was well past her breaking point, because she
wanted the feeling to go on for just a few seconds longer, because his
voice and his closeness created a bright shimmering haze where the concepts
of pride and shame flitted and blurred and bled confusingly together.
She only realized that he wasn't holding down her wrists any
longer when she felt his fingers rub lightly at the peak of her breast,
and then the "Yes" came anyway, but a different kind of yes, gasped-out
and accepting and mewling with arousal.
"Yes?" he whispered against her lips, his fingers stilling
around her nipple.
"Damn you," she gasped, squeezing her eyes shut because there
were tears threatening to escape and because his gaze was so hot and
surprised and she just couldn't stand it, not any of it. She raised her
hand and laid it over his to make him continue the caress.
"You'll let me," he muttered, still sounding a bit stunned,
as if he hadn't set this up at all. Hadn't he? She couldn't think, she
"Just shut up," she hissed, and he did and pressed his mouth
warm and open to hers, but she felt the surprise linger in his kiss, a
current of gentleness swirling through the sensuality, disturbing it. After
a minute, he drew back, and looked intently down into her face.
"I want us to be on the same page here," he said, his gaze
watchful. "I wouldn't force you. If we do this, it's your choice."
Hopelessness lanced through her. Abruptly, she put her palms
to his chest and pushed hard. He rocked back on his heels and raised himself
up, smooth as a cat, looking down at her as she sat up and glared at
"You just had to make it impossible, didn't you?" she said
He emitted a short, soft laugh. "So if we pretend I'm raping
you, that would make it possible? God save me from the neuroses of the
nation's law-abiding citizens."
"I didn't want you to pretend anything," she said, riled enough
to defend herself. "You could've just shut up, but oh no, you just *had*
to have your little macho victory."
Hot impatience flashed in his eyes for a moment. "Did it occur
to you that I simply wanted you to know you had a choice? Fuck you, anyway."
He leaned down and picked up his leather jacket and the tape,
putting the tape back in the inner pocket. She stayed put on the floor
staring up at him, deflated into silence by his words, and watched him
shrug the jacket on with stiff, careful movements. He turned to the mirror
on the far wall, adjusting the jacket over his shoulders, combing his fingers
perfunctorily through his hair, then for a moment seemed to evaluate the
impression he made. It was a small piece of time that struck her as absurdly
significant, like a dream scene that seems lucid but whose meaning defies
the conscious mind upon waking.
Afterwards, he yanked out the cord from the phone and used
it to tie her hands behind her, not so hard it hurt, and secure her tightly
to one leg of the heavy living room table. He tested the bindings carefully,
making sure the cord didn't glide on the smooth wood, and gave her an evaluating
glance when he was finished.
"How long for you to get loose, do you think, Kim?"
She sniffled. "Two hours?" she estimated roundly.
Krycek smiled. "Nice try, baby. Let's say closer to an hour.
But that's okay. It's all the head start I need." He disappeared into
the kitchen and came back with the roll of surgical tape, biting off a
couple of lengths with his sharp white teeth.
"I won't cry for help," she promised, pausing for a second
because she'd said it perfunctorily but it occurred to her that she might
even mean it. "I won't put them on your trail."
Another quick, surprisingly sweet smile. "Really?" He searched
her face. "But you ought to," he said, "and if I put this on, you'll have
an excuse to wait."
He didn't put the tape over her mouth at once, but crouched
down and held her face quite gently in his hand, the green of his eyes
catching the light slanted from the rising moon outside and glowing like
a pebbled riverbed through clear water. Kim sat stumped on the floor
and looked at him, feeling oddly petulant, nearly wanting to cry for
some reason that had nothing to do with her current predicament.
*"Did it occur to you that I simply wanted you to know you
had a choice?"*
She glanced a few feet away to the floor by the mirror. She
could have been lying there right this moment, held and rocked and branded
by him, and been left to deal with her guilt and shame in the aftermath,
feeling dirty as hell.
Her gaze drifted back and met Krycek's. He would have been
good to her though, she knew it. He'd have been... good.
"Hey Krycek, maybe there's a bit of Galahad in you after all,"
she conceded, her voice sad.
The corners of his mouth quirked up at her dejection. "Look
on the bright side," he said. "I have to leave now and I couldn't really
have done you justice in five minutes anyway."
She didn't know what to say to that, so she just made a little
huff and shrugged her shoulders.
He smiled then, but his eyes were inscrutable in the sideways
influx of light. "Thanks, Miss Poppins. For the shower and the card game,
and not least the horrible walnut pate..."
"That's mean," she said lamely.
His thumb stayed at her cheek while his fingers tucked a strand
of hair behind her ear. "Goodbye to you," he said, "Kim Cook who can't
cook." He fastened the lengths of tape lightly over her mouth--just a
symbolic restraint--then got on his feet and stood grinning down at her
for a second. He seemed as suddenly, annoyingly cheerful as she was inexplicably
Then he left. When the door closed softly behind him, Kim
sighed from some aching place deep in her stomach. She spat off the tape,
wriggled her wrists to test the bonds, then set to work to get free.
(The bar was close to where she lived and Alex walked her
home. It was a warm summer's night and he'd taken off his jacket and
folded up his shirt sleeves. He was distant again, and she felt like she
was anchoring him to her with her arm around his waist, like he was a ship
tugging haplessly on the ebb of the tide. She talked to him a bit and
he smiled down into her face but she didn't think he heard all that much
of what she said.
And then they stood outside her building and they turned toward
each other and suddenly they were close and kissing. It was a sensual
kiss, tongues playing slow and warm, but there was something mild about
Alex's mouth over hers, something near sadness.
She hadn't really planned to say it, but when he drew back,
that sadness awakened an answering generosity in her, a wish to make
things right somehow. She stood still and ran a finger up and down his
tie, feeling shy and daring at the same time. "Do you want to come on
She blushed a little at the boldness of her offer, and he
smiled for some reason. He caught her hand gently by the wrist, gave
her fingertip a teasing nip of his teeth before kissing it. "That's...
sweet of you. Jesus, do you know how sweet you are, Kim?"
"Don't be silly," she said, smiling too, her shyness sliding
away. "I just enjoy your company, that's all."
After that, his reply felt like a bucket of ice water. "Thanks,
Kim. I wish I could, but... I think I should probably be on my way now."
He let go of her with some reluctance and said, before he turned to leave,
"Try not to think too badly of me, if you can."
She stood there with tears storming into her eyes, understanding
But the next morning, she arrived at work to learn Agent Scully
had been kidnapped overnight by Duane Barry, and a couple of days later,
Krycek's words had come to make perfect sense.)
Her cell phone lay in her shoulder bag.
"Hi, Kim." Skinner's voice was deep and calm. She'd always
found his voice very beautiful, a restful presence of sound running through
her busy days. She shivered and checked herself, feeling as if she was
emerging from a dream. What had she been going to say?
"That report," she said. "Did you find it?"
"Yeah. Sorry, Kim. I meant to call back and say so."
"That's okay." She hesitated. "There's something I need to
tell you, sir."
"Sure," he said, sounding surprised. "Is there anything I
can help you with?"
"Thursday evenings," she said. "I've been meaning to ask...
I've started some... some evening classes. It's kind of inconvenient
with overtime on Thursdays."
He sounded concerned. "I wish you'd told me before. Was there
a problem today?"
"Don't think about today," she said. "Force majeure, you know."
"All right. I'll adjust the workload so there's no overtime
on Thursdays. And if you need a couple of days off to study before your
final, just let me know and we can arrange it."
She smiled. "Thanks, sir. How are you feeling, by the way?"
"Not too bad," he said. "I've seen worse than that crazy punk."
He paused, then added, "I just had a call from Bethesda hospital. Melissa
Scully died half an hour ago. If I ever get my hands on the bastard--"
She felt a rush of cold through her like a gust from a slapping
door. This was her last chance, her cue. If she didn't say it now--
There was doubt and frustration and fear, and yet... And yet.
"Well, I'm glad you're feeling better, sir," she said softly,
"but promise me to go home now. It's late, you know, and you... you need
"Soon, I promise," he said, and she could hear the rare smile
in his voice, a soft smile that somehow always seemed directed solely
and exclusively at her. "I'm here with Albert Hosteen. We've had a visitor.
I'll drive Mr. Hosteen to his hotel, and after that I'll go home. Good
She guessed who the visitor must be. Only one man visited
Skinner in the office this late at nights. If she could have told Skinner
that the smoker didn't have the tape... But there was no way of saying
so without revealing how she knew, and then the Bureau would be on Krycek's
tail before she'd put down the phone.
She couldn't explain Alex Krycek. She couldn't understand
the things he'd done, much less excuse them. But she'd seen that there
was more to him than violence and betrayal--and she'd seen the man he worked
for. If that tape could make him free of the smoker, she'd say he deserved
his chance. She hoped he did.
"Hey, Kim?" She could hear that gruff softness in Skinner's
voice again. He didn't seem to be in the brittle mood he usually was
when the smoker had called. Maybe somehow, with Hosteen there, things
had turned out all right even without the tape. "I think you're falling
asleep on me."
"Yeah, I'm tired," she agreed. "It's been such a long, strange
day. Good night to you too, sir."
She put away the cell phone and walked over to the window.
The moon had disappeared behind a cover of rain clouds, and a soft April
drizzle blurred the night. She thought of Krycek walking the wet streets,
wrapped snugly in shadow, and was glad the bright moon had hidden from sight.
Maybe the moon protected its favorites, the creatures of darkness.
"Go safely," she mouthed, her breath fogging up the cool glass,
her lips brushing the window. She turned around to the room, and picked
up the wire she'd been bound with, straightened the carpet, went to the
kitchen and swept up the shattered shards from the cup. At the window, the
rain kept drumming softly, a strange rapping cadence of grief and hushaby,
heartbeat and escaping feet.