Welcome To The Harem

For Men To Take Their Exits by Eodrakken Quicksilver
Summary: Marita. Abbie. A cold room. Even in death, he's beautiful. Crossover with Law & Order.

TITLE: For Men to Take Their Exits
AUTHOR: Eodrakken Quicksilver
FEEDBACK: eo@morosophy.com
ARCHIVE: List archives OK, elsewhere kindly ask first.
DISCLAIMER: The characters of The X-Files are (c) 1013 Productions
and Fox Television. The characters of Law & Order are (c) Wolf Films
and Universal Television. No infringement intended.
SUMMARY: Marita. Abbie. A cold room. Even in death, he's beautiful.
Crossover with Law & Order.

NOTES: This is an AU; it branches off during XF's sixth season (L&O's
ninth). Nothing after "One Son" is part of this universe.

Thanks to Malograntum and Emily for the help and encouragement, and to
Susan (and Paul) for pushing me to do better than just good enough.

_For Men to Take Their Exits_
by Eodrakken Quicksilver

Jack tosses the styrofoam coffee cup at the trash can. It bounces
out. He runs both hands over his face. "I think I'm dead," he says.

Abbie hums vaguely, not really looking up from her notes. "Could be."
She's resting her left arm on the desk and writing very slowly,
tracing over her own loosely jotted words. The lamplight is low; her
hand casts a long shadow over the yellow page. "I don't even know
where to start."

He leans back, rocks a little in his chair. "That's what they want.
That's what their case is gonna come down to -- sheer volume of

She nods slowly. "The defense is going to throw so many half-baked
mysteries at the jury that..." Takes a breath before she goes on, as
if too tired to get through a whole sentence in one try. "...that
they'll conclude *something* must have amounted to exigency."

"So where does that leave us? We don't buy into it. The defense has
a lot of excuses. We have a few simple facts. An agent of the law,
blinded by a desire for revenge."

"They have this alleged conspiracy..."

"Of which they naturally can't produce any hard evidence," he scoffs.
"It's true -- girls get kidnapped, people die of cancer. And instead
of dealing with it responsibly -- which he's sworn and paid to do --
he blames it on little green men."

Elbows on the desk, she presses both palms against her cheekbones,
covering her eyes. "Yeah, them, and the Pentagon. Jury selection
should be interesting. If we end up with a panel that reflects the
proportion of citizens who don't trust the government, we're screwed."

"Why? The defendant's an agent of the government too. He murdered
an unarmed civilian."

She rubs the back of her neck. "Suspect. Known to be dangerous..."

He waves his hand dismissively. "Just a variation on trying the
victim. Was the vengeance deserved? Was there a cover-up?
Irrelevant." He sits up a little. The lamp reflects in his eyes, and
she can see the words coming together behind them. "They're saying,
well, it was complicated. We're saying no, it's very simple. Two men
looking each other in the face. One has a gun, the other doesn't. A
clean, simple moment. No mysteries. There was time to think. One
man made a decision. Knowing the consequences. Knowing it was wrong.
And he pulled the trigger."

"What do we have to lose by at least speaking to their argument?"

He scratches the arm of his chair with one fingernail. "Credibility."

She sighs. "Do you think they'll put Mulder on the stand?"

"I wouldn't if I were representing him. Let's hope they would."

She looks at him very evenly. "You'd rip him apart."

She's not sure if she really sees discomfort flit across his face. He
shrugs. "Yeah."

They talk a little more, quietly. He yawns, and she stifles the
contagious response. She leafs through a folder and stops at a gray
surveillance photo of the victim. He's wearing a baseball cap and
looking over his shoulder. Slightly contemptuous, as if he knows the
camera is there. As if he knows something the camera doesn't.

Jack pushes himself up from the desk and stretches slowly, arms above
his head. He stops with a wince and cups his lower back. Stands up
straight and unwraps his jacket from the back of the chair.

"Going home?" she asks. It's almost a joke.

He shakes his head, putting his arm stiffly through the sleeve. "I
need some good coffee. What do you want me to bring back?"

She glances at her forgotten cup. An inch of watery brown liquid from
the office pot. "When was the last time you slept?"

He's suppressing a smile as he heads for the door. "Cream and sugar,
got it."

She can't quite smile back.

After he leaves, she tries to keep working, but the venetian blinds
are broken and the view distracts her. There's a jet creeping low
along the horizon. The blinking green and orange lights disappear
behind the black voids of distant buildings, and flicker through the
tree branches close to the window. Like it's not something humans

She moves across the desk to sit in Jack's chair, so that she can't
see outside.

She reads the police reports, the grand jury transcript, Mulder's
statement. She writes, slow stream-of-consciousness. She underlines
the bright spots she hits upon that will be in the opening;
double-underlines the jewels that will be in the summation. She won't
deliver either one.

She isn't even aware of being sleepy until she wakes up -- a jerk and
a sickening shudder through her chest. The flat electronic purr of
the office phone. She snatches it up. "Carmichael."

The woman on the other end doesn't answer right away. Breathes in
sharply. "Is it true?"

Abbie's rubbing the sand out of her eyes; it hurts. "I'm sorry?"

"You're prosecuting the wrong crime."

"What? Who is this?"

"You want to hear what I have to say. Your murder victim isn't dead."

"Who are you?"

"Someone with an interest..."

Abbie cuts her off. "I need a name."

There's a pause. And the woman starts to laugh. Strained and
exhausted. "My name," she says through sobs of laughter, "is Marita

Abbie closes her eyes. Informant. Tests. Presumed dead. This
should be a dream. All of it.

"You're the victims of a hoax. What Agent Mulder shot was a ...
replacement. They set him up."

Replacement. "Why?"

The woman pauses a little too long. "They want Mulder out of the

"Then giving him the forum of a well-publicized trial should be the
last thing they'd permit."

"You can't understand. After everything that's happened-- A simple
gunshot wound? He could never die of something so mundane." She
stops. "He wouldn't. He wouldn't allow it."

It's too dark, and Jack's chair isn't solid enough beneath her.
"Prove it."

"There's a test. I need to see the body."

"Seeing is one thing. A murdered corpse is evidence; to tamper with
it you'd need a court order."

There's a wounded silence. "But you have the authority ... to let me
look." Her tone turns hoarse, half-seductive. "I'll give you
whatever you need. I'll testify."

"And tell the jury what? That the conspiracy is real?"

"Ms. Carmichael. Which do you want more -- a conviction, or the

"The truth," she says. It feels like a lie.

"Then let me show it to you." There's a crackle of telephone
interference. "This has to end."

Abbie parks in front of the square building that houses the morgue.
Fog rises from a manhole cover and blows away in white billows. A
dog is barking far away, and there's a faint bell that sounds like it
belongs to a bicycle.

The automatic door is broken, standing open. A Mexican man in worn
jeans is kneeling on the threshold, unscrewing a panel. The lights
are on in the lobby, throwing his looming shadow far into the street
and gleaming off the silver tools in the open box beside him. He
glances back when Abbie walks in, but probably doesn't think much of
it. Just another lab technician working the midnight shift.

Inside, Covarrubias is sitting alone with her face in her hands, a
pale phantom in the middle of a row of hard plastic seats. One of the
lights is burning out, making flickering stripes on her hair. Abbie
expects her to have been crying, but when she looks up, her eyes are

Even in death, he's beautiful. Laid out on the metal table, covered
up to the shoulders by the crisp white sheet. Oily hair pushed back
out of his face so that pictures could be taken. His eyes are gently
closed, the lashes casting shadows on his cheeks in the harsh halogen
light. His lips are pale and turned down slightly, and there's a
crease at the bridge of his nose, giving him a vaguely worried
expression. He doesn't even look unconscious -- like he's trying to
fall asleep, maybe.

Covarrubias is standing right up against the table, staring down at
him. Her face is cold and sallow, half-hidden behind stringy hair.
In the grainy yellow light, she looks more dead than he does.

Abbie is standing back a few feet to give her room, arms crossed
stiffly under her breasts. She wishes the woman would hurry up and
do what she needs to do. The coroner's abandoned radio is still
playing something gentle, classical, just barely audible. It's too
soft -- ticklish. She's been standing here in the chill air so long,
she itches to either turn the music up or kick the shit out of the
stereo. Her knees ache.

Finally, Covarrubias takes hold of the sheet at his shoulders and
starts to pull it down. It's a deft, assured movement, neither
skittish nor reverent. Her fingers leave faint white traces where
they brush across his skin. She pulls the sheet further down, and
off. It falls from her fingers and puddles on the floor.

The state of his body is not shocking -- Abbie has seen much worse.
Two precise black bullet wounds to the chest. A long-ago amputation.
There's a red, crescent-shaped scar on his right thigh that she
recognizes as a human bite. Her gaze catches on it, and it's hard to
look away. Car-wreck fascination.

Covarrubias walks her gaze over him carefully, thoroughly, studying
each part of his body with icy detachment. And she touches him,
gently running her fingers from his shoulders to his hips, and down
his legs. Abbie's toes curl involuntarily. She can't stop thinking
about what it would have been like when he was alive. Can't imagine
what his voice would have sounded like.

Finally, the woman stops. Turns back, tilts her head a bit to look
into his face. Moves her hands up to the branches of the sewn-up
Y-incision. Very light here. Careful.

When she gets to the point where the branches meet, she flinches,
jerks her hands back. Her face twists -- doubt. Fear. "He... would
have bled," she says. Chokes on it, a little.

Abbie doesn't understand. "Yes..."

For the first time, Covarrubias looks at the body like it's a body.
She takes her wrist in her hand and holds it hard, as if to keep her
hands from shaking. "I can't do it. I can't perform the test."

Abbie stares at her. "You're kidding."

"No, it-- It wouldn't matter." She looks down, then across the table
at Abbie, and her eyes are cold again. "Nothing that I or anyone else
can do will ever prove to my satisfaction that this is Alex Krycek.
The only possibility ... is to disprove it." She picks up the sheet
and drapes it lightly over his waist. Pulls it up to cover the
scarring of the severed arm. Without a final glance, she rounds the
table and approaches Abbie, her heels clicking, echoing. Reaches into
her jacket pocket and places something metal into Abbie's hand. "I'm
leaving now, Ms. Carmichael," she says stiffly. Her palm is warm and
dry on Abbie's wrist. "I hope it won't harm your case."

It will only be later that Abbie realizes she should have stopped her.
But now she's disappeared out the door, and Abbie is left standing in
the empty room with a preserved corpse, the sound of faint piano, and
warm metal in her hand.

She looks at the body, indecently half-covered. Most bodies look to
her like nothing more than grotesque waxworks. There's nothing of
that here -- he's just white and blue and too beautiful to be dead.
She steps back, and the way the light falls now, the shadows almost
make a cold smile.

She opens her hand, and looks down at the metal cylinder. She presses
the button before she has a chance to think about how stupid-- A
sound like a sharp gasp, and she drops it with a clatter onto the

It's a long silver ice pick.

When she gets downstairs, the clouds are pressing down low,
threatening rain. The automatic door is still standing open, and the
workman's toolbox sits abandoned on the threshold. She doesn't know
what, if anything, it means.


January 2003