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[XFVCU 1x01] Midnight In The Firing Line - Deslea R Judd 2/2
Summary: Eighteen months after The Truth, the X Files are up and running again, with all the old players in a new formation. Pilot episode of the XFVCU virtual series.
Midnight In The Firing Line (2/2)
Deslea R. Judd
DISCLAIMER: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
ARCHIVE: Yes, just keep my name and headers.
SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: Set eighteen months after The Truth.
CATEGORY/KEYWORDS: Post-series, casefile, mythology, XFVCU.
SUMMARY: Eighteen months after The Truth, the X Files are up and running again, with all the old players in a new formation.
VIRTUAL SERIES SITE: http://xfvcu.deslea.com
AUTHOR SITE: http://fiction.deslea.com
FEEDBACK: Love the stuff. firstname.lastname@example.org.
AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Spooky Awards 2003 eligible.
Krycek knew he was there before he made himself known.
Part of it, of course, was the near-preternatural instincts that had kept him alive. But part of it was that he had expected it sooner. He suspected that he had chosen his morning routine with this very meeting in mind.
He was aware of the presence when he left the apartment they'd sublet from Reyes, and he was aware of it as he walked briskly in the silence of early morning. He was aware of it crossing the main road. It wasn't until he reached the children's playground that his shadow made himself known.
"You're looking well, Alex."
Krycek held up his hand, shielding his eyes from the glare of the rising sun. "Well, look who's back in the colonies. And here I thought you still were in the fatherland."
The well-manicured man before him spared a laugh. "You thought I was burning in hell," he said, with the tone of one indulging an infant.
"Oh, come now, I'll grant that a six-year tour of England's stately homes comes close, but it's nothing the odd ski trip can't fix. And while I think of it, tell Lady Hillary that her geraniums are looking very nice this year. Oh, wait, she's the one who hated you, isn't she?"
"If you've quite finished showing off your mastery of elementary surveillance, I have some information to share with you about the Buchanan case. I assume you're aware of the events overnight?"
Krycek sat down on the children's swing. "Scully told Mulder, Mulder told Jeffrey, Jeffrey told Diana and Diana told me. I plan on suggesting that Skinner take our reports through the grapevine for increased speed and efficiency."
"Why are you here, old man? What's in it for you?"
The Brit paced a little. "I'm sure you're aware that the international community is less than pleased with Uncle Sam right now."
"I'll bet," he said. "So who are you working for these days? MI5? House of Lords?"
"I'm not at liberty to say."
"You're just the consultant, I suppose? Isn't that a bit of a come-down for you?"
The Brit sighed. "Truly, Alex, dealing with Fox Mulder is less exasperating."
"I'm wounded," he said in mock dismay. "All right, all right, I'll bite. What information do you have for me?"
"Agent Mulder's theory about Project Delineate was right, but he was only half-right."
Krycek worked not to visibly betray his interest. "Go on."
"The haemophilia gene was modified to be a dominant gene. Had the project continued, it would have formed part of the apocalypse. Every naturally-conceived child of human parents thereafter, whether purebred or crossbred, would have had the disease."
"For what purpose?"
"The purpose was twofold. Firstly, to prevent successful interbreeding, as Mulder posited. Secondly, to prevent the drones from breeding an army. If the alien race wanted more drones, they intended to clone them using the tissue samples taken from the population in the course of Bill Mulder's vaccine project. Uncontrolled human reproduction was considered both unnecessary and potentially dangerous to the alien race."
"But the project was aborted," Krycek said. "Why?"
"A change in leadership. A general with a haemophilic son. Simple human sentiment."
"That's one way of phrasing it. Ethics is another."
The Brit laughed - not the politely mocking laugh to which he was accustomed, but a genuine sound of amusement. "You've gotten sentimental in your old age, Alex."
"You wish." He held the old man with his gaze. "So the Buchanans were taken to cover it up?"
"To clean it up. The same general ordered the extermination of the test subjects to prevent the gene from entering the general population. The Buchanans and their surviving child were the only ones left."
He thought on this. "So Knowle Rohrer was acting under orders?"
"It's hard to say. The chain of command isn't as clear as it once was." It occurred to Krycek that this was perhaps the first time he had ever heard the Brit admit there was something that he simply didn't know.
"But...?" he trailed off. Waiting.
"But I can tell you, Agent Krycek, that he got his information from Shannon McMahon."
"I was wondering why you'd taken to walking near my house. It's a bit out of your way."
"Only by a few minutes." Krycek took a drink from his cup and set it down on the stoop. "I just really like your coffee."
Diana snorted laughter. "Bullshit. You knew he was going to approach one of us sooner or later. And I have to tell you, I appreciated the birds' eye view."
"Yeah, I thought you might. I figure he did, too. It's not the sort of thing he'd do by accident."
"No. It isn't." She looked out at the playground, thinking about it. "You have to tell them, Alex."
Krycek frowned. "You know, Diana, if this partnership is going to involve you telling me what to do all the time, you're gonna have to get in some stronger coffee."
"It would be, except for the part where I'm not kidding."
He said in exasperation, "Damn it, Diana, what would it solve? It makes no difference to the outcome of the case. It's not as though the information would convict someone, or clear someone. All it does is make me look even more suspect than I do now. What purpose does it serve?"
"That's not the point," she said, picking up his empty cup and resting it on her lap with hers. "We're a team."
"No. You and I are a team. Us and them are not a team."
"We were once."
"No, we weren't. I was just the stupid kid that the Consortium wanted as their patsy, but the Bureau got to me first. I was too young, too green, with no idea what I was getting myself into. I lost my arm, my wife lost years of her life, God knows if our baby will be all right, and they don't want me but they'll still use me if they can. Fuck that shit. At least the Consortium didn't pretend to be the good guys while they stabbed me in the back."
Diana sat back. "Wow. I really don't know what to say to that."
Neither did he. He didn't say anything.
"Alex," she said finally, "what was it that he said about Fox? He was right, but he was only half-right?"
He gave a grunt that might have been a yes.
"Well, you're right. You are. I know it, even if they don't. But you're only half-right. The other half is, you chose to come back. Okay, you don't want to be here and it's because you're worried about the baby and all the rest of it, but you chose it. Now, you can either do it properly or you can do it halfway. And the Alex Krycek I know never did anything halfway. That's why you survived, Alex - every side you were supposed to be on, you lived it. Completely. That's why they hate you, but it's also why you're still alive."
He sat there. Quiet. Morose. He gave no indication that he'd heard a word she said.
She sighed and took the cups inside.
When she came back, he was standing, looking out at the playground. He said, "I'm going home. Marita's waiting." He didn't meet her gaze.
She sighed again. "All right. Tell her I said hi."
"Will do." He got to his feet and walked down the steps to her garden. When he got there, he paused. "I'll tell them," he said abruptly. "But I'm not telling them who gave it to me. Good enough?"
It was something, she supposed.
Doggett was pacing in front of his desk.
"We need a public health alert," he said. "We need to notify the CDC, and get out bulletins to the doctors and hospitals."
Scully pushed away from her stance by the wall. She shook her head. "I feel the same as you do, John, but we have no proof. They're not going to do that on our say-so."
"But what if it didn't end with Project Delineate?" said Reyes. She was sitting cross-legged on her desk like a schoolchild. "What if someone overrode this general, whoever he was, and started another one that he didn't know about?"
"I agree with Monica," Follmer said. "We should file a complete report."
"Stop thinking like an A.D.," snapped Jeffrey. "This could sink the Hybrid Protection Act, do you realise that?"
Follmer got up from his desk and stood over Jeffrey. This would have been more intimidating if he hadn't bumped Jeffrey's chair to do it. "A.D. Skinner said our job wasn't to debate the bill, it was to handle the fallout. You're not supposed to let the bill affect the decisions you make on the job."
"Look," said Krycek, "the situation has been handled. Maybe not how we'd have handled it, but it's handled. Those genes would have been a death sentence on the human race within a few generations. It's better that they're out of the gene pool."
"Never mind about the Buchanans," retorted Mulder, standing by Scully, in disgust.
Krycek turned on him. "I sympathise with the Buchanans. And their children. But those people were doomed the moment they signed up for Project Delineate."
"Oh, come on, Alex. Do you really think they had any idea what they were getting into?" countered Reyes.
Diana got to her feet. "Agent Scully is right. We have no proof. We can argue about it all we like, but the bottom line is, there's nothing we can do. However frustrating it may be, there is no decision to be made."
No one had an answer for that, and they sat there, looking at each other uneasily in the morning light.
"She was right, you know."
Brad looked up from his drink. "You think so?"
Skinner nodded, motioning to the bartender for a top-up. "It wouldn't have achieved anything. Especially with half the story coming from the FBI's Killer Agent. I couldn't have defended it even if it went anywhere. In this unit, sometimes you've just got to cut your losses."
Brad frowned in what could have been taken for disagreement, but he didn't argue the point. He said instead, "I'm worried about Agent Spender."
Skinner drank a little. "How so?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. I just think that if it comes to a choice between the legislation and the case, he's going to choose the legislation."
"I get the feeling that that's why Kersh wanted you two together to begin with."
Brad turned to face him fully. "So I could keep him in line?" he demanded.
Skinner could almost see him weighing it up in his head - the indignity of babysitting Spender on one hand, and the inference that he was a better agent in the other. He smirked. "Or so he could do it to you. One of the two." That should fuck with his mind a little, he thought. He was greatly amused.
He put his money on the bar, managed not to laugh at Brad's outraged expression, and turned and walked away.
Diana was pouring Marita's best red wine.
"Well, we're doing well," she said firmly. "Two days in the basement, and no one's come to blows."
Krycek made a noncommittal sound, but there was a smile on his face. Marita came over and dropped down on the couch at his side. He drew her into the crook of his arm.
"That's a start," said Jeffrey. "And if anyone's likely to kill a colleague in the first week, it's me."
Krycek laughed. "Hey, Jeff, maybe we could hybridise old Bradley. You'd like him then." Jeffrey mock-threw a cushion at him before lowering it again.
"At least he's by the book," Diana consoled him. "You won't have any trouble with him getting his reports in on time."
"Meanwhile," Krycek boasted, "I'm blessed with the most beautiful, most patient partner a guy could ask for." Marita narrowed her eyes in mock reproach. He cleared his throat, amending, "Within the Bureau."
Diana laughed. "You're only saying that because I'm the only one there who doesn't hate your guts."
Krycek shrugged. "Minor detail."
"I don't hate his guts," Jeffrey said mildly. "Anyone with such good wine can't be all bad."
"Actually, it's my wine," said Marita, looking at her orange juice in dismay. "And I can't have any. Why didn't we adopt?"
"I think it was that whole killer agent, bad publicity thing," Krycek said as an aside.
"Ah, yes," she said. "Let's not do that again."
Diana raised her glass. "To being a team."
Krycek did the same. "To keeping our weapons holstered."
Jeffrey chimed in, "To suffering fools gladly."
Marita clinked her glass with her husband's. "To the best damn group of outcasts the Bureau's ever seen."
They drank in companionable silence.
Doggett sat on the visitor lounge in their office, looking at the modular desks before him.
"What do you think?" Reyes wondered, looking at them from her vantage point against the wall.
"I think I liked it better when it was just us down here."
She spared him a smile. "At least we still have the same spots as before."
"True. I'll say this for Diana, she's pretty good at not pissing people off."
"Except for Scully," she said, grinning.
Doggett said generously, "Nobody's perfect."
She paced a little. Looking around. "You know, John, before the Work And Family policy came through - when we didn't really know if the whole partners-dating thing was okay and we didn't want to ask - I always kind of wanted to do it down here. The thrill of the forbidden, that kind of thing."
He raised an eyebrow. "What are you telling me, Monica? You want to fulfil a dream before the place is so overrun with people that we wouldn't have room to do it even if we wanted to?"
She laughed. "No. I was just thinking - this is where we fell in love. For a while, it was just ours."
"I don't know. I think I loved you even before that."
She turned to look at him. "Oh, John," she said. Clearly touched. She dropped down on the lounge beside him and kissed him, long and slow.
He stroked her arm. "You know," he murmured against her lips, "it isn't too late..."
She shook her head, resting her forehead against his. "We have somewhere else that's ours now." She smiled, and her smile was infectious. "Will you take me home, John?"
So he did.
"Everything all right?"
Scully nodded. "It's just going to take him a while to get used to the new surroundings." She took off her robe and draped it over the chair. "But he went off to sleep okay."
Mulder moved over, making room for her in bed. She snuggled in beside him, resting her head on his shoulder. "That's good. I was worried that he wouldn't be ours when we got him back, you know?"
She nodded. "I think it's going to be okay, Mulder."
They were silent for a while. He ran his hand through her hair, twisting it idly between his fingers. He kissed her.
She waited. Presently, he spoke.
"I'm gonna quit, Scully. I've been thinking about this Buchanan case today, and how everyone had a hand in it, and I just don't think I fit any more."
Scully hesitated. Stroking his chest a little. Unsure whether to try to talk him out of it. She would have, in the old days, but back then it was all up to them. Now, though...if he wanted to finally be free of it all, shouldn't she let it happen? Wasn't it time?
A ghost of a memory drifted through her mind.
*If we quit now, they win.*
She didn't know if that was true any more. But it was the only thing she had to go on.
She sighed. "Mulder, we couldn't have solved that case without you. Sure, Doggett and Reyes and everyone worked out what happened to that little girl, but you were the one who figured out why. You were the one who saw the big picture and pulled out the reason that made it all make sense."
He shook his head. "Krycek got exactly the same thing, Scully. Hell, he even got more."
"But Krycek got it from his informants," she argued. "He got lucky. He might not be lucky next time. But you, Mulder - you got it from in here." She touched his forehead lightly with her finger for emphasis. "There is no one else on the team who could have done what you did. If you want to walk away, Mulder, you know I'll support you, but I'm telling you, we need you."
Mulder frowned. Tugged her closer and sighed into her hair.
"I'll stay," he said at last. "For now."
Scully drew back to look at him. "Really?"
He didn't look so sure about it, but he nodded. "Yeah."
She stroked his cheek. "I love you, Mulder."
"Me too, Scully."
She leaned up and gently kissed his lips.
This pilot an advance release to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the first airing of The X Files pilot (September 10, 1993). There will be a brief hiatus, and then regular episodes will commence in October. The first regular episode will be written by Maidenjedi, followed by Humbuggie, Lara Means, and Eodrakken Quicksilver. A more detailed schedule will be available soon at the XFVCU site, http://xfvcu.deslea.com
Many thanks to the XFVCU first wave team, especially Maidenjedi and Linzee. I couldn't have gotten us this far without you.