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Deathman's Meed by N Y Smith Part 1 of 2
Summary: Deslea's rec: "I kid you not; I unearthed this 1999 gem on a trawl through 5,490 Google Krycek/Marita references - proof positive that archaeology is alive and well in the digital age. A gorgeous colonisation Mulder/Scully novella with a Krycek/Marita subplot."

Title: Deathsman's Meed
Author: N. Y. Smith
Email: minismith@aol.com
Homepage: http://members.aol.com/minismith/
Date: November 11, 1999
Category: MSR/X/AU
Rating: No more than R. This section PG-13 for language.
Summary: On the eve of colonization, the time has come to repay old

Disclaimer: The story's mine (well, parts of it) and the characters belong
to them what creates them. I receive no remuneration for this effort and
intend no copyright infringement. Et cetera, et cetera and so forth.
(Don't you miss great stars like Yul Brynner?)

Chapter 1

At first he didn't recognize her haggard, pale,
smoky voice reduced to a ragged
whisper chained to one of those damn tables.
His horror must have shown in his face for she
cringed, turned her head away. Which was just as
well for she wasn't on the agenda. He had to find
Cassandra before they did or things would,
literally, all go to Hell.

"Krycek," she cried weakly.

Regret darkened his eyes before they were
obscured behind the closing door.

But he had been too late too late for
Cassandra, for that poor imbecile Jeffrey Spender,
for her. After that debacle in the hangar there was
nothing to do but sift through the debris of the lab
for anything that might be of assistance to the
Human Resistance in improving the reliability of
their precious vaccine. Now that the Grays had
Cassandra, The Day would come all too soon. So
he stirred in the ruins of the lab, his curses
echoing through the empty halls. They had
trashed the computers; nothing useful remained.
He spun on his heel and walked cat-like down the
hall, intent on finding the exit, but something
moved, off to the right, about 20 feet down the
hall. He flattened against the wall, thumbing off
the safety on his weapon. He crept silently down
the hall, ears straining to locate any noise. After
about 10 feet he could have sworn he heard a soft
gasp. Another 3 feet and he heard labored breaths
unsuccessfully concealed. Two more feet and he
stopped looking and listening. He felt it; he felt

Watery blue eyes flashed from behind a file
cart. He pulled the cart away and she shrived
pitifully, balling up against the wall.

He holstered his weapon and held out his
good hand, "Hey, they're gone." His voice was
soothing and his movements measured and
reassuring. He leaned down to take her hand

She sprung, flattening him against the opposite
wall. She ran, but it was more of a hobble, and he
caught up with her easily. She tried to claw him
with nails that had long ago been chewed away.
"You left me, you son of a bitch!" she railed.

He grabbed her wrists, realizing only too late
that his prosthetic hand had closed too tightly.
"Stop it," he hissed, "or you'll break your wrist."

Hatred still raged in her eyes but she stilled.
"You left me," she accused.

He flexed the correct arm muscle and the
prosthesis released its grip.

Quick as ever, she applied the flat of her hand
to the side of his face. "Bastard," she spat.

"Bitch," he replied and smiled. There was a
time when her actions would have been a prelude
to something much more entertaining. "Can you

She shook her head, "Not far."

"Just to the parking lot?" He slipped his good
arm around her waist.

She tested her weight against him for a few
steps then nodded. They walked about 10 steps,
"Wait. I forgot something."

He shot her an exasperated look. "Where is

She pointed to the file cart.

He uprighted an overturned chair and lowered
her gently into it. "This better be important,
Marita. I'm not hauling " He stopped dead in his
tracks as his eyes found a small black box trailing
rainbow ribbon cable. "Is that what I think it is?"
he said breathlessly.

She nodded triumphantly.

"You know what I like," he leered
appreciatively, wrapped his arm around her waist
again, and walked slowly toward the light.

It was dark now and she could hear the tarred
pavement seams whap, whap, whapping against
the tires. Sometime, while it was still daylight,
she'd changed from the flimsy hospital gown into
sweat pants, socks and a t-shirt that smelled
comfortingly of detergent and softener and
Krycek. She could hear the wind whistling
through an open window. When soft green
dashboard lights glowed before her slightly
opened eyes she realized that her head was in his
lap. She shuddered.

He laid his good hand on her hip. "You

She tried to push herself up until the lights
started swirling and she crumpled back into his
lap again with a moan. "Where are we?" Her
eyelids closed out the swirling lights.


She turned on her back so she could look up
at his face, well, his chin. "Where are we going?"

Instead of answering his thumb made little
circles on her belly and she flinched. "Sore?"

She nodded and tried to close her eyes against
the memory of the "tests." Gleaming tears
escaped from sunken eye sockets.

"No more tests," he reassured, brushing the
tears from her wasted face.

She nodded unsteadily and allowed the noise
from the tires to lull her back to sleep. The next
thing she remembered was walking with Krycek's
arm around her waist, being lathered and rinsed
under warm water, then falling into stiff white
sheets. And when the nightmares came, as they
always did, she tiptoed across the narrow strip of
greasy carpet and curled up against the warm,
strong man in the other bed. Once daylight
finally pried open her swollen eyelids she was
relieved to find her head still tucked into his
shoulder, his arm drawing her close as they slept.

She burrowed deeper into his shoulder and
slipped her hand under the soft cotton crew shirt
he wore. Taut but supple skin glided beneath her
fingertips. She luxuriated in the feel of it; she
luxuriated in the feel of this bodies entwined and
completely relaxed. This was new for them. Of
all their previous encounters-- and they were all
memorable-- there had been a sense of business,
of quid pro quo like sharks stalking each other in
the shallows, coupling ferociously, then parting
impassively. Sharks, the corners of her mouth
turned up slightly at the appositeness of the
comparison. She let his warmth wash over her
like the gentle waves off a Caribbean cay and
sleep swept over her again.

End Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Fox Mulder drew a deep breath in a valiant effort to
ward off the soporific effects of Agent Willoughby's report.
>From her seat between him and AD Skinner, Dana Scully
responded by sharply applying the toe of her shoe to his
shin. He winced and cut his eyes at her while her glassy
gaze remained fixed on some point above Agent
Willoughby's head. Abruptly, she covered her face with
her hand and bolted through the door. Her startled
partner's eyes followed her path before noticing the crimson
dots on the white paper agenda that remained where she'd
been sitting. His look at Skinner betrayed his terror and the
AD responded by dismissing him with a curt head-tilt
toward the door. Skinner himself spent the remainder of
the day unsuccessfully trying to attend to yet another
meeting, another stack of reports, another call from The
New Director. Waiting for a call, the call, from Scully or
Mulder that never came.

"The cellular customer you are calling is not available
at this time. Please try your call again later." Walter
Skinner slammed the receiver onto the cradle next to his
alarm clock. Again. For what seemed like the 100th time.
The clock glowed 5:00. "Shit," he growled and stiffly
climbed out of the bed and into a hot shower.

He called both Mulder and Scully's numbers again on
the way to work, bypassing his usual stop at the coffee
machine to hurry to the phone so he could try again.

The desk chair in his office was occupied; he could see
it from the hallway. He didn't have to watch long to
identify the occupant, singular, of the chair. He was
slumped, legs askew, head supported by the arm that was
propped on the armrest.

"I tried to call," the AD began but stopped short at the
terrified look he received. He slumped. "How bad?"

Mulder leaned his head back, taking in a long, ragged
breath. "Terminal. Three months, maybe four."

Skinner dragged the other desk chair to Mulder's side.
"Agent Mulder, I'm very sorry. I . . ." He found no words.

"When God wants to punish you he answers your
prayers." He smiled wanly, through red-rimmed eyes.
"Cancer isn't the only thing growing inside her."

He gazed quizzically at the younger agent for a long
moment until understanding clouded his already gloomy
expression. He cast down his eyes. "How far along is she?"

Mulder licked his lips. "Nine weeks."

"What can I do?"

The younger man opened and closed his mouth several
times as if words were dammed up inside and he just
couldn't say them.

"Where is she?"

"GWU," he answered flatly.

Skinner stepped into the anteroom before summoning
his agent, "Let's go."

They had only gone a block down Ninth Street before
Mulder sat up and pointed to a building, a bank, half a
block ahead on the right. "Stop, there, at the bank," he
croaked, "please."

Skinner complied wordlessly, waiting until the younger
man had returned, nearly staggering, from the building.

"Thanks." He rubbed his thumb over the black velvet
box in his right hand before opening it with a sigh. "I
promised myself while she was gone before that when she
returned I'd put this," his index finger caressed a tiny
diamond circlet, "on her hand and never let her go." He
wiped his cheek with the back of a hand. "But I never got
around to it. I let things get in the way. And now . . ." He
turned his face to the passenger window.

The older man swallowed hard but maintained silence
as the passing brownstones became a gray concrete parking
garage where he finally found a space.

Again he made that sickening walk down a hospital
corridor knowing Dana Scully lay dying. Mulder ducked
into the restroom as they passed. But he continued onward,
pausing to steel himself for the grim sight he knew he'd
find-Scully in a darkened hospital room, pale, wan. He
finally pushed against the door and reeled at the bright
sunlight that met him.

"Good morning, sir," Scully greeted cheerfully, her hair
a coppery halo. Her luminous grin was a marked contrast
to Maggie Scully's thin-lipped smile.

"Good morning," he choked, unable to cleanse the
shock from his voice. He walked rapidly to the bedside,
extending a hand to Scully's mother. "You look great."

Dana Scully smiled widely, more widely than he'd ever
seen her. "I feel great," she patted the hand he'd rested on
the sheets with the hand that was tethered by clear tubes
connected to a large bag of clear liquid. "Did Mulder tell

Margaret Scully stifled a sob, which her daughter

"Yes, he did," the AD responded unsteadily. "I don't
know what to say."

"Congratulations will do nicely," she replied almost

Maggie Scully snuffled and bolted, passing Mulder in
the doorway.

His eyes were still reddened but his expression had
brightened considerably. He manned the other side of the
bed, planting a quick kiss on his partner's forehead.

"Congratulations on your good news," the older man
said with as much warmth as he could muster.

"Thank you," she beamed.

"Well," he said after an uncomfortable silence, "I'd
better be getting to work. You both take whatever time you
need; we'll work it out." He scurried into the hall, nearly
bowling over Scully's mother. He clasped both arms,
steadying her. "How are you, Maggie?"

She answered with a wan smile.

"Me, too."

End Chapter 2

Header and disclaimer in Chapter 1

Chapter 3

She remembered little of the second day-just the whine
of the tires and the whump-kawhump of the tarred seams in
the pavement. Somewhere on the Ohio Turnpike it had
begun to snow-flakes had blown in with the cold, damp
wind when Alex had stopped along the side of the road.

"What's wrong?" she remembered murmuring when
he'd pulled back onto the highway.

"The snow was beginning to drift; I had to lock the
hubs for the 4-wheel drive."

She mumbled something that indicated complete
understanding, or something like that, and then an odd
slushy, crunchy whine provided accompaniment for their
much slower pace. She could feel the wind buffeting the
vehicle from the passenger side.

"Where are we?" She pulled a lever and the seat back
uprighted itself.

"Halfway between Cleveland and Toledo." The
windshield wipers fought a losing battle against the
onslaught of tiny, but wet, snowflakes.

The rear of the car began drifted sideways. "We need
to get off the road," Marita gasped.

"No shit." He cut the wheel into the drift and the car
straightened out. "I've seen nothing but NO VACANCY
signs for the last 10 miles."

Onward they crept, slush slurping under the wheels.
Darkness fell with terrifying rapidity and the snowflakes
swirled a blinding dervish in the headlights. Fear welled in
his throat but he stowed it away in his emotional bilge hold.
He heard a small gasp from her then felt a hand rest
ever-so-lightly on his thigh. For a moment he yielded to its
comfort before he relegated that emotion to same place
he'd stowed the fear.

She squinted, "Is that a sign? About 50 yards up the

He searched the roadside, "Yeah. Let's just hope
there's an empty room."

"At this point I'd settle for a greasy sofa in a warm

The slurping under the tires gave way to an eery
silence as they plowed through undisturbed snow drifts.

"Is it bad?" she asked.

A tire spun, as if on cue. "We can't go much farther,"
he warned. The hand on his thigh twitched. He was so
startled he almost missed the pair of round, red reflectors
that indicated a driveway. He slid the Bronco into a parking
place in front of a clapboard building marked "Office."
"Wait here," he instructed, reaching for the key in the
ignition. He paused, "Don't go anywhere," he ordered and
waded through the calf-deep drifts to the building.

The curtain sheltering the barred window of the
wooden door parted the instant his foot touched the porch.
"We're closed for the season!" a voice boomed through the
barely opened wooden door.

"I need a room." He stuffed his good hand in his jeans
pocket. "The weather's too bad to go on."

"Closed for the season!" the disembodied voice barked

Krycek tamped down the anger rising in his throat,
spying Marita in his periphery. "Look, I'll pay you double
your peak-time rate. My lady's just gotten out of the
hospital and I need to find a place for her to rest."

Only an eye peeked around the door but Krycek stifled
a wily smile at the effect of his near-truth. Then two eyes
appeared, framed by a weather-beaten round face, held up
by a wiry, string-bean frame. "Fool thing-taking a sick
woman out in weather like this," the scarecrow chastised.

"We were trying to make it home to her folks in

The dark eyes squinted at the Bronco and its sickly
occupant. Then the bony hand disappeared inside the door
and reappeared with a key dangling from it. "Cabin 7."

It was difficult for Krycek, keeping a straight face when
he knew he'd won. He jingled the key ring triumphantly
and jumped back into the waiting SUV. The snow sploshed
rather than crunched beneath the tires for the 30-yard trek
to the largest of the clapboard cabins.

"Can you walk on your own?" he asked as the vehicle
slid to a halt.

She shook her head feebly and he flung open the
door, pulling her, not so gently, to the edge of the seat. She

"Sorry," he said apologetically.

She responded with a weak smile, swinging her legs
into the growing drift. Her knees buckled.

"[Damn]," his command of the coarser elements of his
native language had not diminished with disuse.

"[I'm sorry,]" she replied, her elegant White Russian
accent in sharp contrast to the guttural Siberian inflection he
used. She shifted her arm from his waist and hooked her
hand over his shoulder, taking her weight off the straining
prosthesis. Her sock-covered toes banged against the risers
of the steps that were too sodden to creak. Then the world
turned soft and black and the next thing she remembered
was lying on something soft but scratchy. A bed, a mattress,
a bare mattress, the smell of musk and machine oil, warm
breath ruffling her hair and, eyes the color of warm
sapphires gazing into her own. And then, in an instant, the
eyes turned icy-blue-the color of the Bering Sea.

"[You're back,]" the voice was as cold as the eyes. The
bed creaked as he stood.

"[Where are we?]"

He peeked through threadbare curtains. "[A fishing
camp. That's Lake Erie you hear lapping at our back door.]"

A board creaked outside the door and, so fast it was a
blur, a pistol appeared in Krycek's hand, hammer already
drawn back.

"Manager," a voice preceded a knock.

"It's open," Krycek called cautiously, training his
weapon at the center of the opening.

The windswung door revealed two figures, "The old
woman thought you'd sleep better on fresh sheets rather
than that bare mattress."

"That's very kind of you," Krycek's weapon was
concealed as quickly as it had appeared, so quickly that
Marita wondered for a moment if she had seen it at all.

"Move inside so we can close the door, old man," a
voice scratched from behind the lollipop figured-man. She
set a pot on the small stove in the kitchenette and turned on
the burner. "The stores are all closed so we brought some
soup and fresh milk." She folded her hands before her,
apple-cheeked and snowy-haired.

"Thank you," Marita said weakly. "I'll get those sheets
on the bed." She swung her legs to the floor, but swayed
too much to stand.

"No, you won't," the woman replied as Krycek caught
his "lady." "A woman just out of the hospital deserves to be
waited on hand and foot," she stared pointedly at Krycek
before fluffing the snowy sheets on the mattress.

"Is she okay?" the old man looked askance. "Do I need
to get the doctor over here?"

"No," the couple replied in unison.

"We, uh," Krycek appeared reticent as he cast about for
a cover story, "we lost our baby recently." He grasped
Marita's hand sympathetically while she reacted sorrowfully
to his confession. "We just need to get her home to her
folks. Everything will be okay once we get her home," he
said earnestly.

"Until then, she needs her rest," the old woman patted
the blanket smooth, then stood up. "Let's go, old man."

"Wait," Alex offered his good hand to the woman.
"Thank you, Mrs.-"

"Jackson. Martha Jackson. The old man is my
husband, Tom, Mr.--"

He held out his hand to the old man, "Arnold, Kevin
Arnold, and this is my wife, Winnie."

Snowflakes managed to blow in despite the Jackson's
hasty exit.

"Was that the best cover story you could come up
with?" She glanced downward at her ventricose abdomen,
paling at the irony of the lie.

He shrugged, "I do better when I've had a chance to
plan. I wasn't exactly expecting to include a wife in the
scenario." He stirred and sniffed the pot. "Hungry?"

"No," she groaned and tried, unsuccessfully, to walk
from the chair to the bed.

Krycek caught her just before she fell. "Besides," he
grumbled, "if you don't eat, you won't get your strength
back and I'll waste all my energy hauling you around."

"I thought you liked hauling me around," she
murmured. "Bastard." Her eyes fell shut.

He stroked his thumb along the gaunt planes of her
cheek and whispered,"Sweet dreams, bitch."

End Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Typhoon Bill Scully rolled down the hospital hall
pausing at waiting room doors like a storm seeking landfall.
Casting his eyes about for the object of his fury, he spied a
lone figure, its back to the door, slumped on the steps
outside the entrance doors. He barreled through the
whooshing doors, pausing silently, rage building to a

"Hello, Bill," the figure remained still, moving only to
drag on the cigarette burning in a trembling hand.

"You sorry, son-of-a-bitch."

"Yeah, that's me, although I'd really appreciate it if you
left my mother out of this." He sucked on the cigarette
again. "Have you seen her? She's glowing, Bill, bright as
the morning sun. Chattering on about names and cradles
and nurseries. It's almost enough to make you forget she's
dying," he said flatly, drawing a final taste, then tossing the
butt into the street where the wisp of smoke withered and

Then a hand closed about his arm and typhoon Bill
landed, jerking him up and pinning him back against a
square concrete column. "It's your fault," Scully's brother
accused, further words choked by the face before him.

The eyes were haunted, lifeless, spiderwebs of red
netting the hazel irises. The lids were puffy and scarlet
against the black, sunken sockets surrounding them. The
skin was ashy gray, lips almost blue, parting to beg, "Do it,
Bill. Beat me senseless for everything I've ever done to
your sister. Maybe then I can forget, even for an instant,
that all of this is my fault." Tears coursed their familiar
tracks. "Do it." He swallowed hard. "Please."

Bill Scully stared into the haunted eyes, recognizing in
them every husband's worst fear.

"Agent Mulder, are you alright?" a rough voice called
from the sidewalk.

Mulder found his feet again and straightened slightly.
"Yes, sir." He dragged the backs of his hands across his
cheeks. Darting a glance at his boss, he pushed past his
nemesis and the hospital doors whooshed behind him. Bill
Scully turned to follow.

"A moment, Commander Scully?"

Bill Scully stopped, head hanging. Walter Skinner
stepped around to face him.

"I suppose your mother's given you her usual complete

Bill nodded.

"Then you know your sister will need all the strength
she can garner-from her friends, from her family, but mostly
from Mulder."

Bill Scully snorted, "It's his fault she's going through
with the pregnancy. His vanity takes precedence over her

Walter Skinner's fists itched to be applied to the side of
Bill Scully's hard head. But he shook his head instead. "He
asked, begged, her to terminate."

"I'll bet he did,"Scully accused.

"You stupid squid. Either way she dies. At least, with
the child, some part of her lives on."

"At the cost of her own life," Scully spat. "Without the
baby she could take a more aggressive course of treatment,
extend her time, lead a longer life-" He ran out of steam.

"She knows she is dying, Commander. She knows the
possibilities and the liabilities and the consequences of her
choices." Skinner's tongue darted across his parched lips.
"Her dying wish is this child, and I will do everything in my
power to grant it to her."

Bill Scully swayed, eyes unfocused, voice quavering, "I
don't want her to die."

"None of us do," Skinner's own voice wavered, "but
this is her heart's desire and we respect her, love her too
much to take it away from her."

"Bill?" Maggie Scully wrapped her arms around her
son. "Fox said you were here," she said tearfully.

Bill Scully gathered his mother in his arms, comforting
as he was comforted.

Walter Skinner gave them their privacy, his boot steps
echoing down the hall, abruptly saddened by the
realization that Dana Scully's child would never know the
comfort of a mother's touch. "Damn," he breathed,
unsuccessful at blinking away the tears.

End Chapter 4

Chapter 5

"You would tell me if we were lost, wouldn't you,
Alex?" Snow crunched against the floorboards. "You
wouldn't just drive around until we ran out of gas and froze
to death, would you?"

"We're not lost," he said sharply. "It's just hard to get
your bearings in a snow storm like this."

She sat up. "This is exactly why they put women on
the space shuttle, Krycek."

"What, so they can stop and ask for directions?" He

"Give me your GPS locator."

"I don't have one." Her eyebrows shot up. "Any signal
we bounce off a satellite is just like a homing beacon.
They'd be on us in minutes."

"Oh," she said, embarrassed to have forgotten. "Then
what are we looking for?"

He twisted his head around. "A block house, 10 by 10
by 10."

"Is it painted?"


She laughed. "You expect to see a white concrete
block house in the middle of a snowstorm?"

He nodded and slowed. "I think we're close," he said,
squinting through the windshield.

A giant white figure loomed beside them, banging on
the driver's window and making a horrible noise. Marita
had already squealed before she realized the "abominable
snowman" had been shouting Krycek's name.

"Are you lost?" "It" shouted through the lowered

Alex reddened. "NO, I just can't see the blockhouse."

The "snowman" laughed and pointed to a snowdrift
which looked square upon closer inspection. He thumbed
a remote control and the low ridge before them slowly
collapsed revealing a long, low concrete bunker. Krycek
goosed the accelerator and, in an instant, they were inside
the bunker, heavy blast doors creaking shut behind them.
The "snowman" doffed his arctic hood and goggles
revealing a tanned face and dark eyes.

"We expected you 2 days ago. Stasi and your father
were getting anxious." He leered mildly at Marita. "I see
we needn't have worried."

"Stow it, Killian," Alex replied, walking around to the
passenger side, leading her to the only thing that mattered
to her right then--a warm, soft bed and the arms of a warm,
strong man.


Fragments of guttural whispers drifted through the
partially-opened metal door and reverberated off the
concrete walls.

"[Who is she, Alexei?]" uttered a feminine voice.

"[A business associate.]"

Marita cringed at the coldness in his voice.

"[Business, brother?"] the other woman snorted.
"[What sort of business associate do you install in your own
bed when there are plenty others available?]"

"[A none-of-your-business associate, Anastasia.]"

A shadow crossed the sliver of light intruding through
the partially-opened door. "[There are children here,
Alexei. You shouldn't have brought your trollop.]"

"[That's not what she is,]" he protested. "[She's the one
who delivered the information storage unit to us. Now that
the Grays have the merchandise, the day is not far off. We
have no time to waste discussing who's in my bed.]"

Icy silence ensued. The voice, when it spoke again,
was soft, loving, pleading. "[You are a gifted scientist,
Alexei. Why do you persist in wasting yourself on these
dark pursuits?]"

"[It's what I was bred for, Stasi.]"

"[Perhaps. But it is not how you were raised. This
woman: does she know you, Alexei? Does she know the
boy whom I taught to swim in the glacier-fed rivers so cold
that after a minute in the water your lips matched your


"[Pity. Alex Krycek may have the skills to vanquish his
enemies, but Alexandre Krycek has a talent, a gift that can
help save us all. Don't waste it, Alexandreovitch.]"

"[There's nothing to waste, Anastasia. I am the
deathsman, born to destroy.]"

Marita's breath caught at the bitter resignation in his

"Nyet, Alexei," his sister disagreed. "[You are your
father's son, born to help us save them all.]"

The metallic ring of a closing door echoed through the
portal. Her eyes finally adjusted to the semi-darkness, she
studied her habitation. It was windowless, devoid of any
architectural ornamentation. From high in the corner next
to the door, a small icon blessed the room, a tattered travel
bag sagging beneath it. A worn chair filled the next corner,
sharing an Art Deco torchere with the bed in which she lay.
Clothes hung from hooks flanking a small chest in the other
corner and in the fourth corner, leaning against the block
wall, was a well-worn guitar. She flung back the
tapestry-covered eiderdown and crept to the corner.

The fingerboard was ebony, highly polished by the
repeated fingerings. The shellac on the back of the neck
and below the sound hole had long since been worn away
and the wood beneath was burnished from use. A capo
was clamped just below the machine tuners and a
tortoiseshell pick was woven into the slender steel strings.
Kneeling silently on a worn carpet thrown across the narrow
area of concrete she drew her fingers across the dusty
strings, tinny notes wafting through the air with the
disturbed motes. She reached up to grasp the neck, but
fingers tightened around her wrist and she felt herself being
wrested back onto the bed.

"Feeling better?" Icy blue eyes burned at her from a

She struggled wildly to free herself from the cage of
leather-clad arms and denim-sheathed legs that pressed her
into the bed. "Not well enough for that," she hissed, trying
to pull her knees to her chest.

"Don't worry," he chuffed. "Sex is the last thing we
have time for." He rolled off her, sitting on the edge of the
bed with his head in his hands. "I just hope that storage
unit you saved will have enough information for us to
develop the vaccine in time. Now that the grays have the
hybrid, the day can't be far off."

"You have more time than you think," she draped
herself over his back as seductively as she had to strength to
manage. She pressed her lips just below his ear, her tongue
just brushing his neck.

"Why?" he rasped, leaning into her hungrily.

"Because," she peeled the leather jacked and dumped
it on the floor. "Because," she repeated as she pulled him
back onto the eider and straddled him.

"Because," he whispered, her face hovering above his.

She shook her head and sat up, her weight settling on
his hips with a smoky electricity. She busied her hands
with his shirt buttons, but he stilled them.

"A business associate expects to be paid . . ."

"For what?" he grinned and busied his hand with her
shirt buttons.

His prosthetic hand felt strangely cool against her hip.
"I know who has Cassandra," her Cheshire-cat grin glowed
in the half-light. She rocked back against him.

"Who?" he groaned, sighing hotly.

"Payment in advance," she admonished then exacted
her fee with great relish.

"Who?" he croaked afterward, sated, spent.

She teased him with the knee that had been draped
across his hips, dug her fingers lightly into his chest,
carefully avoiding the leather harness at his left shoulder.
"The Alien Resistance," she whispered. "Worth the price?"

Cat-quick he pinned her beneath him with a sly grin.
"Worth a bonus."

End Chapter 4

Chapter 6

It just made the legalities of paternity clearer: a
husband was assumed to be the father of any child born to
his wife. That - and the desire to mollify Maggie Scully's
conscience - had led them to the altar in a quiet Episcopal
ceremony held beneath the Moon Window at the National
Cathedral. Mulder had declined to convert so Father
McCue had declined to officiate. But they'd married
despite him, with Mrs. Scully and AD Skinner as their only
witnesses. The bride had worn a work-suit, one of her few
pale ones, the growing bulge in her belly barely hidden by
her partially unbuttoned weskit. They'd "honeymooned" in
the hospital, toasting each other with fruit juice instead of
champagne as the cancer-fighting chemicals dripped into
her. Between the morning sickness and the
chemical-induced nausea, the juice became her main
source of sustenance - so much so that after four weeks she
was returning to work nearly ten pounds lighter. The
elevator car lurched, tossing her forward.

Mulder's hand snaked out, wrapping around her and
pulling her close. "Okay?" he whispered.

She nodded, leaning against him despite the stares of
the other passengers. The new gold band gleamed as he
smoothed her loose-fitting blouse over her belly. She
covered his hand with hers, squeezing it comfortingly
before he returned it to its proper place at the small of her
narrowing back. The elevator halted gently, the doors
whispered open and he guided her into the familiar hall. It
was empty when they began but had filled considerably by
the time they reached AD Skinner's door.

They'd ducked inside, seeking refuge from the prying
eyes. The network administrator later reported that email
volume had tripled in the subsequent quarter-hour.
Grasping her hand, the AD was shocked at the frailty of the
once-firm grip though the eyes burned more brightly than
ever. Her skin was papery, stretched loosely over a
cadaverous frame. But, somehow, she glowed a golden
halo that centered around the miraculous thirteen-week
bulge which she unconsciously stroked, diamond circlet
glittering in the morning sun.

"Sir," she greeted with a smile that Skinner couldn't
help but return.

"Welcome back, Agent Scully."

"It's good to be back, sir," she smiled warmly.


It was all very simple really-a very human equation
scrawled on the front of his brain: 1+1=3.

"[Shit]," he hissed and extracted himself from the
extremely intimate position in which he was engaged.

"[What, Krycek?]" his partner demanded breathlessly,
faced flushed.

He fastened, buckled, zipped. "[You know what,
Marita,]" he flung her shirt, his shirt, actually, at her. "[Get
dressed. We have work to do.]" The metal door rang as it
slammed behind him. He stumbled more than walked, his
ardor not completely cooled yet.

"[Now?]" she dressed as she followed him down the
dank concrete stairwell. "[What is wrong with you?]"

He slowed his pace slightly. "[Just when were you
going to tell me, Marita? Or were you just gonna wait and
let me figure it out on my own?]"

"[I don't know what in the hell you're talking about!]"
She grabbed his good arm and spun him around. "[Tell you
about what?]"

Voices echoed further down the concrete hallway and
he pulled her into an empty wardroom. He spread his hand
across her engorged belly.

"[Just tell me one thing, Marita. Is it my baby or is it
some alien thing they implanted in you?]"

"[What?]" she stammered. "[I don't know,]" she clawed
at her belly, "[oh God, oh, Alex, please,]" blood trickled
from the deep scratches, "[I've got to know, please, Alex,
I've got to find out.]"

He captured her hands in his, her strength surprising.
"[We'll find out,]" he soothed. With his shoulder he leaned
against the intercom. "[Wardroom A2, I need help,]" he
barked. She struggled wildly, ignoring his calm voice
repeating, "[Relax, Marita, we're gonna find out.]"

By the time help arrived in the form of his
brother-in-law, Killian, and his oldest son, she had fallen
into near-catatonia. They carried her deep into the silo to
the examining room of Anastasia Krycek. She remained still
as long as he, Alex, was touching her but the loss of his
touch unleashed her frenzy again. He pulled over a stool
and sat above her head, laying his head on the examining
table next to hers, still speaking soothingly. She flinched
strongly at the invasive portions of the examination,
memories of the "tests" doing a terrible water-dance in her

"[Everything looks normal,]" Anastasia Krycek patted
her patient on the arm, gliding an instrument over her belly
while staring at a small screen. "[The baby is approximately
twenty weeks by size. Everything's right where it should
be. Do you want to see?]"

She shook her head but his curiosity won out, eyes
widening with wonder at the miracle before him.

"[Here's the backbone,]" Stasi pointed. "[And the arms,
the legs, the eyes, the mouth. Look, it's moving!]"

Marita's head rolled to face the screen and her face lit
up. "[How can we be sure everything's normal?]" she

"[I could do an amniocentesis; we have everything here
to do the genetic analysis.]"

"[Do it,]" Alex said quietly, then ran his finger along the
CRT screen while whispering in Marita's ear.

"[You'll feel some pressure,]" Stasi warned and a tear
rolled down the patient's face, which her companion wiped
away with word and deed. "[Just a bit more,]" clear
yellowish fluid filled the giant hypodermic, "[and we're
done.]" She stretched a small bandage over the
needle-wound. "[You may feel some light cramping
tonight. Call for me if it becomes strong or you bleed any at

He nodded and walked slowly in silence beside her,
shuddering at the closeness of the elevator car that lifted
them six stories' height to the Spartan quarters they shared
in the ground-level concrete bunker. He guided her around
the comfortable chairs she'd managed to scrounge in the
four weeks since their arrival from the others living below to
augment the office-style furniture left behind by the military
when the silo was abandoned. Pushing open the heavy
metal door between the living room and their bedroom, she
stiffened, hands guarding her belly as she fell toward the
door jamb. She felt herself being lifted, nearly floating the
eight-odd feet before being settled on the soft bed. A large
hand covered hers, the warmth soothing to the cramping
muscles below.

"[Better?]" he asked after a moment, concern darkening
his eyes to sapphire-blue.

She nodded weakly, burrowing deeper into the large
form curled around her.

"[Rest,]" he commanded and she obeyed without her
usual dissent, drifting off to sleep to the lullaby of their

"[No!]" she bolted upright in the bed, upsetting the
stack of papers on his lap.

"[Hey,]" he soothed. "[You're safe; it was just a

She scanned the room with feral intensity before
coiling again into the sheets, eider pulled up around her
nose. According to the clock she'd been asleep several

He brushed a lock of flaxen hair from her eyes before
returning to his reading.

She blinked rapidly until her eyes adjusted to the
lamplight. "[How's it going?]"

"[It's not.]" He continued studying the paper. "[The
vaccine is only fifteen percent effective on Rh-positive

She scooted higher in the bed and peered over his left
shoulder at his regular, even scrawl. "[And the negative
samples?]" Her belly dislodged his senseless prosthesis.

He stiffened at her touch, quickly adjusting the arm so
that it no longer touched her. "[Still holding at ninety-eight

She lay her head on his shoulder, long since
accustomed to the leather harness that secured the
replacement limb. "[Well, as long as the Grays don't have
the hybrid you have time . . .]"

He shook his head, eyes remaining focused on the
paper. "[Moses thinks the Alien Resistance will begin their
own attack soon using the virus to destroy the strongest then
enslaving us on their own behalf.]"

"[How does he know?]"

"[He's been on the money so far.]" He turned another
page and scribbled in a margin. "[We can't afford not to
believe him.]"

He made a show of concentrating on his work, but she
caught him casting furtive glances at her. Or rather, at her

She scooted until her breath warmed his ear. "[The
answer is yes, Krycek.]"

"[Marita, I, uh . . .]"

She swallowed hard. "[There hasn't been anyone else,
Alex. Not since the freighter or long before it, for that

He swallowed hard. He mumbled, "[I'm not supposed
to be able to . . .]"

She swung her feet to the floor, unsteadily navigating
the short distance to the lavatory. Silhouetted in the
doorway, she said caustically, ["Then you better start
looking for a star in the east.]" The slamming door cut off
his reply.

He chunked his papers where she had lain. "[Bitch.]"

"[Bastard,]" she called from the lavatory.

"[Damn.]" He pulled his knees to his chest and
propped his head on the arm propped on his knee. He
ground the heel of his palm into his eyes, but failed to
staunch the tears. "[Damn.]"

* * *