Welcome To The Harem

Traders In Snow by Vanzetti
Summary: Deslea's rec: "A really enjoyable, Krycek/Marita UST piece. Scully gets to play protective mom-to-be, as well. Cool characterisation and neat dialogue, along with a nice healthy dose of action. Scullyists will like this one almost as much as Skampers." PG, Within-Without.

Well, I promised myself I'd get this out by the end of March, and here
it is, the end of March. (If there are formatting problems, *please*
email me: vanzetti@ukgateway.net). Please note that this has no
relation to anything else I've written.

Title: Traders in Snow
Author: Vanzetti (vanzetti@ukgateway.net)
Keywords and Spoilers: Krycek/Covarrubias. Alternate Season 8.
Spoilers up to Within/Without, but nothing after that is
necessarily part of this universe.
Rating: R (language, a little violence)
Warning: No closure here. Sorry. I didn't mean to start
another series. Please don't throw stuff at your monitor. Instead,
send me feedback and let me know you if you want more!
Disclaimer: But mom, all the other kids are doing it! The X-
Files universe is the property of Chris Carter, 1013
Productions and Fox. No cash is being made from this. The
title and the opening quotation come from Dorothy Dunnett's
Lymond Chronicles.
Thanks: to Ann and Susan for beta. Any mistakes are mine, all mine.

"There is no land uninhabitable or sea unnavigable."


Scully knew from the beginning that there would be two separate
enquiries into Mulder's disappearance. The first was the
official one, the one where the FBI threw whatever resources it
could spare at the problem. She did not have many illusions
about the extent of those resources. Mulder had been a thorn
in too many people's sides for too long for there to be more
than a sense of muted relief at his disappearance. The search
was allowed to lapse and the agent in charge was assigned to
join her at the X-Files.

Had their positions been reversed, she was sure that Mulder
would have protested loudly and unceasingly. He would have
insisted that the search be continued, that every possible lead
be followed, that whoever was responsible be brought to

When he returned(when, her mind insisted)she prayed that he
would understand why she had appeared to acquiesce in this.
The truth of the matter was that she didn't have the energy to
direct two investigations into his disappearance at
once. Or rather, she had the energy but not the time.

So by day she worked her way through the X-Files she was given,
doing her best to think the way she remembered Mulder thinking,
grateful, when she wasn't numb, for the support John Doggett
offered her. Weekends, evening and nights were given over to
her real life. She spent more time with Byers, Langly and
Frohike than in her own apartment. They ensured that she ate
enough and slept enough, but were otherwise devoted to her
search. Her nights had become a surreal mixture of electrical
impulses and John Does. The impulses never turned out to be
the sign of a UFO, or if they did it was already too late. The
John Does were never Mulder; she gave thanks for that after
every visit to a morgue and did her best not to weep each time
she left a hospital.

Lead after lead, and still nothing. The months went by, and
she waited for her body to betray her.

It had already done so once. The day she had fainted and the
Gunmen had taken her to the hospital, they had lost their best
lead. Their only real lead. It was one of the reasons they
were so willing to drop everything and help her: because while
they had been worrying about her health, Krycek and Covarrubias
had disappeared as completely as Mulder had. It couldn't have
been a coincidence.

Bad things come in threes. Her mother had said that once and
Scully had dismissed it as superstition. Now she was less
sure. In the hospital she had been given three pieces of
information. Krycek and Covarrubias were missing. Mulder had
been abducted in Oregon. And she was pregnant. The last was
not bad news, not the baby she'd wanted so badly.

The baby. Her inconvenient miracle. She caught herself, once
late at night, wondering whether the Virgin had ever felt this
way. At least Mary had known where the child had come from: if
the Archangel Gabriel had intended to visit Dana Scully, he
must have got lost along the way. The blasphemy was more
amusing than appalling.

The origin of the child was something she didn't want to
examine too deeply. Surely one quest at a time was sufficient.
First she would find Mulder again, and together they would
solve the problem this pregnancy represented. At least there
were no abnormalities: the latest ultrasound had shown the same
healthy, male fetus as all the earlier ones. That had to be a
good sign, a sign that the child was what she hoped it was.

Lacking divine intervention, Dana Scully would rely on the
omens provided by science. Science and a little help from her

She was on the way home from the check-up when she got the call
from Langly. Alex Krycek had been seen in New York.


"She's what?"

"Pregnant," Marita Covarrubias repeated. Krycek launched
himself out of the chair and began to pace across the room to
the far wall. He stopped there and leaned his head against it,
still for a second, then without warning punched it with his
left fist.

"Fuck," he muttered. "I disappear for a couple of months and
everything goes haywire. Whose is it? Mulder's?"

She leafed through the papers on the table as if looking for
something. "We're not entirely sure." When she looked up, he
had turned around and was resting against the wall, watching

"What are the possibilities?"

"Her ova were harvested while she was abducted," Marita noted.

"So we can be pretty sure it isn't natural. Fuck."

She nodded. "She underwent IVF treatment last year, but it was
unsuccessful. But Alex... she took a trip with the smoker this

"Fuck," he said, for the third time. She nodded in agreement.
It was as good a description as any of the situation they were

"She hasn't done a DNA test on it. We would know. We're
getting copies of all her medical records. So either she's

"...or she's worried and doesn't want to know," he finished for
her. "Stupid bitch," he muttered to himself.

"We'll have to bring her in and run the tests ourselves," she
said. "It could be the one they're waiting for."

He met her eyes. "I'm surprised you didn't take care of it in
my absence, Marita."

She shrugged, feeling suddenly awkward under his gaze. The
truth was, she hadn't wanted to take that much responsibility.
She knew, now, what the consequences of defiance were.

The past four months had not been easy. Alex had disappeared
almost immediately after they had sent the Smoker flying down
the stairs, and by the time she had returned to the apartment
to find the body missing he was out of her reach. With both
Mulder and Alex missing, she had gone underground herself,
keeping the network of informants she had run for the Smoker in
place, but unwilling to make a move until she had to.

And then Alex had returned, whole and happy. She was, quite
frankly, afraid to ask what he had sold in exchange for his
regenerated arm. The whole situation looked bad. She knew
Alex didn't trust her any more, and what was worse, she
couldn't make him trust her. He probably saw the word
"expendable" in big flashing letters over her head whenever he
looked her way.

Something had happened to Krycek in Tunisia. In Tunisia, or
earlier: she hadn't seen much of him since the day she'd stolen
the boy and been exposed to the virus. The Consortium had
saved her life, but not out of mercy. She had spent more than
a year as an experimental animal, moved from lab to lab as the
research dictated. She would still be there, if the
destruction of the Consortium leadership hadn't left the Smoker
short-handed. Or if the hatred she felt for Alex Krycek hadn't
made Spender believe she would be useful.

He had never realized that Alex was hardly the only one she
hated; or if he did, he only realized it too late. That was
what she liked to think. The truth was that she hated
them all, all the people who had used her, abandoned her and
left her to die. At least in Alex's case she'd betrayed him

Sometimes she hated herself as well, for being afraid of them.
She wasn't afraid all the time: the fear would strike her at
odd moments, prompted by a smell, by the way the light shifted,
by anything she couldn't control. Right now, Alex Krycek was
one of those things. Or rather, Alex Krycek's new-found self
control. She remembered an Alex who could easily be
manipulated by his desires. That was the Krycek she had
expected to find in Tunisia, and she had prepared herself as
well as she could for that. Pleasure had nothing to do with
it, she reminded herself. This was just another way of re-
establishing her hold on him.

The first night, he had left her alone. She had credited it to
exhaustion, or even confusion. On the third night, she had
clenched her teeth and gone to him, and he had sent her away.

That more than anything else--even more than her fear that
former employer was still walking the earth--had kept her from
acting on her own initiative when he was gone.

Now she watched him return to the dining room table and leaf
through the reports she'd prepared for him. They were using
one of her temporary safehouses, a farmhouse in upstate New
York she'd taken as a summer rental and then kept through the
fall. She wouldn't use it again after this weekend; it was too
late in the season. Time to switch to a cabin in Vermont,
well-located for skiing. The same principle applied: so long
as the people using it looked professional and didn't stay
longer than a week, no one would see them.

He was still, strangely, awkward with his new arm. He had
forced himself to adapt to its absence so completely that even
now he did things one-handed. Little things, like pouring milk
into a glass or putting his coat on. If he noticed he would
stop and redo the whole action twice, first with his left hand,
then with both. Right now, for example, he was scratching
notes on a piece of paper. He put the pen down to turn the
page, then picked it up again to make another notation. All
the while, his left arm lay disregarded on the table.

"We'll need a secure location," she said. "Something with good
medical facilities, just in case."

"We'll use the place outside Chicago," he said, his tone
implying that he'd considered the subject and made the decision
some time before. This time she waited for him to finish his
reading and watched while he took the documents and put them
through the shredder. He'd reduced the contents to two pages
of code, something only he could decipher. He would memorize
those pages, then destroy them as well. She'd seen him do it
before, when they'd been pretending to work together in Russia.
When the documents were reduced to ribbons, he took the
shredder basket over to the fireplace and began to feed the
papers into it, a handful at a time. He seemed absorbed in the
dancing flames, the light reflecting off his face, until he
began to speak. "She's still looking for us. The easiest way
to catch her will be to give her what she wants."


Krycek took the time to make the trap as secure as it could be.
He took the train to Manhattan and spent thirty-six hours on
the Lower East Side, just long enough to put his own people in
place and get confirmation that he'd been spotted.

Then he went up to Vermont. Too early for skiing, which he
would like to have tried again. With Marita there, they were
just a couple up from the city in a rented cabin. They even had
a couple of guests over the weekend, a doctor-and-professor
pair from Boston.

A week later he went back to the city. An early commuter train
from Connecticut dropped him in Grand Central, one of a
thousand men and women in suits. He changed disguises in a
bathroom there; five minutes took him from businessman to
homeless man. After that he was invisible, so long as he
didn't move too quickly.

He broke that disguise once, long enough to be seen again in
the same area he'd used before, then settled down to wait. He
knew the three men he was using on this job: one from the old
days when they'd worked a job together for the old men and the
other two from Russia. The car they would use had been
provided by another Russian, someone who wanted a favor.

After last week's appearance, Scully had turned up with
Mulder's three stooges in tow. They'd shown his picture and
Marita's to everyone within a four-block radius. Sure, some of
them had said, they'd seen him. No, they didn't know him.
Sure, they'd let her know if he turned up again.

The next time he appeared he bought a leather jacket from a
wholesaler and ordered a suit from one of the storefront
tailors on the street. He had chosen the tailor carefully, and
was pleased when Scully turned up in person four hours after he
left the shop.

The fitting for the suit was in four days. On the morning of
the third day he phoned up to break that appointment and
reschedule for lunchtime that same day. It gave her just
enough time to get to New York, but not enough to arrange
backup. He hoped that sufficient Mulder had rubbed off on her
to make her take the bait.

The tailor had known the game was up when Krycek showed up
early for the fitting. Krycek told him he wouldn't be hurt if
he cooperated. The man didn't believe him. It didn't matter:
nothing could help him now.

Right on schedule, Scully came barreling into the shop, gun
drawn. Give her what she wants, he had said, so that's what he
did. Three steps took her across the shop to the curtained
area in back; she ripped aside the fabric and there he was,
already raising his hands. He was willing to take the gamble
that she wouldn't kill him unless he threatened her. She
needed him alive to answer her questions.

They stared at each other for a heartbeat. Scully looked
gaunt, he thought. As if she hadn't been sleeping much. She'd
always been pale but now he thought he saw a yellowish tinge to
her. He didn't know much about pregnant women, but that didn't
look right.

And what did she see, he wondered. Did she notice the arm?
Was she wondering why he wasn't wearing a half-sewn suit?
There was no chance to tell: the bells on the door rang again
as his backup rushed in. The three homeless men she probably
hadn't even noticed--had deliberately not noticed--squatting by
the door of the tailor's shop. She didn't turn around, but she
had to be able to hear them. And smell them.

"Drop it, Scully," he said.

"Don't move," she said. "I'll shoot him. I really will."

"Don't be stupid, Scully. If you shoot me these men will kill
you. Come on. You need me to find Mulder. I won't hurt you."

"Liar," she said. "You set him up. You sent him to be taken."
She sounded angry, but he could see her resolve cracking. He
lowered his arms slowly, watching to see if her finger
tightened on the trigger. The men behind her stepped closer.
She was still, her reminded himself, the most dangerous woman
he knew. Except maybe Marita. He ignored that thought and
focused on her hand and wrist, waiting for the inevitable
relaxation. As soon as her finger loosened he took a quick
step forward and to the side, grabbing her hand and twisting
it. His left hand took the gun from her fingers before she
could use it. The Consortium man took the medical patch from
its wrapper and slapped it onto her neck.

Fury and accusation filled her eyes as the drug took hold and
she slumped forward. Before she lost consciousness he got her
stumbling out of the door and into the waiting sedan; the
driver would take him to a long-term parking lot near Newark
Airport, where Marita would pick them up. He hoped. No, he
knew she would pick them up. He hoped she wouldn't try to
steal Scully out from under his nose.

The three members of the support team would clean up at the
tailor's and then scatter. He'd arranged for the money to be
paid into their accounts at noon. He glanced at his watch: 23
minutes ago.

He settled Scully against his side, his left arm around her
shoulders, as if she were asleep. The doctor had assured him
that the drug wouldn't interfere with a normal pregnancy, but
fuck knew what Scully had in there.

Marita pulled up about a minute after the driver dropped
Krycek and Scully off at the parking lot. She must have been
waiting somewhere she could see them go by. Unless she'd
followed them all the way from the city. Whatever, it was a
good thing--he felt too exposed, just standing there, holding
Scully up and hoping no one would notice them.

The two of them strapped Scully into the front seat and Krycek
slumped in the back for the short drive to the lot of an
abandoned factory. Once they were hidden, they cuffed Scully's
hands behind her back, taped her mouth shut and locked her in
the trunk.

"Do you think she'll be all right in there?" Marita asked as
they got back in the car.

"We can always take her out in a couple of hours, let her walk
around and have some water. She'll be fine."

"I hope the drug works." Of course, he thought, Marita
wouldn't be concerned for Scully's well-being. She had recently
become fairly blase about physical suffering. He knew how she
felt. After all, they were both still alive. That was one
thing they still had in common. Now they had a long drive
ahead of them, and although he wasn't sure he'd be able to stay
awake the entire time, he didn't feel comfortable sleeping in
Marita's presence. Not with a prisoner in the trunk, anyway.
It brought back bad memories.

It should have been predictable that he and Marita would be
among the only ones left, but sometimes he wished fate had left
him with anyone but her. Sure, so far she'd been loyal, but in
a way that only made it worse. He was perpetually waiting for
the other shoe to drop.

Krycek had been watching her since Tunisia, but felt no closer
to figuring her out. He was pretty sure she meant the first
thing she'd said there, that she would have left him to rot,
but he had no idea what else--if anything--had been heartfelt.

Leaving her in charge while he went off with the rebels had
been a huge gamble, although it wasn't like he'd had a choice.
They'd picked him up and told him the deal, no questions
allowed. They knew that he needed all the help those faceless
bastards could give him.

And then there was the arm. He'd wanted it with a fierceness
even he could hardly believe. If the aliens thought their gift
gave them some kind of hold over him, that was their problem.
He knew damn well they'd only done it because a one-armed man
would stand out where they were sending him. He'd been furious
when he realized how easy it was for them to regenerate him.
It was nothing to them and the whole world to him. As far as
he was concerned, he'd paid for every ounce of flesh.

He flexed the fingers of that hand. It had been worth it.
Worth every agonizing, violating, terrifying second.

Meanwhile all he had to do was stay a step ahead. Last time
they tried to work together Marita had stolen the boy from him
and taken him to Mulder. That suggested a certain commitment
to at least some of Mulder's goals. Or a willingness to use
Mulder to pursue her own goals. But Mulder was like a disease:
you set him at something you wanted disrupted the way armies in
the Middle Ages had hurled rotting animals into besieged towns.
Stand back and wait for the rot to spread.

The image amused him, and he considered sharing it with her.
But then, perhaps not. He didn't think that Mulder's safety
was a high priority for her, but then, he didn't really know.


The doctor had told them that the drug would last about five
hours. They turned off the interstate in Pennsylvania, looking
for someplace isolated to pop the trunk. A deserted picnic
ground was perfect--they backed into a space and walked around
to the back of the car.

Alex tried to offer Marita the keys, but she shook her head.
"You know her better than I do," she said in the same cool
voice she'd used since Tunisia.

Gingerly, he turned the key and stepped back slightly, reaching
for his gun. The trunk swung open, revealing a little more
than five feet of Dana Scully, wide awake and spitting mad.
Well, he thought, being locked in the trunk couldn't have good
associations for her.

The drug shouldn't have worn off that quickly or that
completely. It might be another sign that something was
different about her metabolism.

For a second, she just stared at the two of them; then she
started to struggle to sit upright, her mouth working against
the tape. If looks could kill, they would undoubtedly both be
dead, but since that wasn't among Scully's powers, the two of
them simply stood and watched her. When she made it onto her
knees, Alex said, "That's far enough, Scully."

"I'll go get her some water," was Marita's contribution. "We
don't want her to get dehydrated."

He waited until she came back with the bottle to reach over,
showing Scully the gun before he pushed it under her jawbone,
and pull the tape off. "Not a word," he warned her. "Not that
there's anyone here to listen." He took the bottle from Marita
and held it, tilted, against her mouth. Did she notice that he
had two arms now, he wondered. Had she even noticed that
before he'd only had one? She drank about half the bottle
before beginning to choke. He waited until she stopped
coughing to speak. "How would you feel about a little
negotiation, Agent Scully?"

"Kidnapping a federal agent is a serious offense," she snapped.
"I don't have anything to say to you."

"That's where you're wrong, Scully. Do you think anyone in the
FBI would care if you disappeared right off the face of the
earth? Not a chance. 'Goodbye Spooky, goodbye Mrs. Spooky.'
That's what they'd say. There would be a sigh of relief you
could hear from here." He could sense Marita behind him,
watching the whole scene greedily. Scully appeared unmoved.

"I can't believe that even you would be stupid enough to think
I would work with you, Krycek, after everything you've pulled."

He hardly heard her. "You would work with me, Scully. In a
minute. If you thought I could help you get Mulder back." She
was trembling slightly, he noticed. If she hadn't been stiff
and hungry she would never have let that show. "You don't like
hearing me talk about him, do you? I guess you haven't had
much luck finding him. And you must miss him. Especially in
your--what do they call it?--your delicate condition."

"You set him up, you bastard." Had he ever heard Scully swear
before? He couldn't remember.

"I think we could all come to some kind of mutual
understanding," he said smoothly. "We get what we want, and
maybe we give you a little information about Mulder."

"You can start by taking me back to DC and turning yourselves
in. Maybe we could work out some kind of protective custody."

"Protective custody?" He gave a bark of laughter. "Scully,
who exactly do you think has all the power in this little
scenario? Let me give you a hint. It's not the woman in
handcuffs about to be shoved back into the trunk and sedated.
Marita and I are going to get what we want from you, no matter
what. You just think about that for the rest of this little
trip." He nodded to Marita. "Give her another dose."

Marita hesitated. "Are you sure it's safe?"

It was the second time she had expressed concern for Scully.
Maybe she did mean it. "Does it matter?" he asked. She
shrugged and got another patch from the kit in the back seat.

While the tranquilizer took effect, she got another piece of
duct tape for Scully's mouth. Krycek picked up the used one
and put it in his pocket. No sense leaving any kind of

As they got back into the car, he turned to Marita. "I thought
that went well. Didn't you think that went well?"

Marita looked pensive. "She is very brave, all things
considered." She paused for a moment. "Were you serious about
looking for Mulder?"

"Why?" he asked. "Do you want to?"

"Why? Do you care?" She mimicked his tone.

He didn't have time for this. Fucking Mulder, all the fucking
time. "As far as I'm concerned, Mulder can rot in hell."

Marita nodded. "I thought so."


Alex finally fell asleep as they entered Ohio. She liked him
when he was asleep. He wasn't watching her, which meant that
she could really look at him without worrying. And his face
relaxed, too. He didn't have that angry look. Or nervous,
whatever it was. He seemed altogether less dangerous.

Alex, she thought, was the personification of Newton's first
law. Awake, he was always in motion: fidgeting, pacing,
whatever. Even when still he was full of the promise of
motion. If he stopped, it was only to wait for the appropriate
moment to spring forward. And asleep he was perfectly relaxed,
breathing evenly, his rest unthinkable to disturb. As if that
other man, the man in motion, didn't exist and had never
existed. She remembered a facetious description of the laws of
thermodynamics, something she'd heard in college: you can't
win, you can't break even, and you can't get out of the game.
That was Alex too. That was her and Alex in a nutshell.

She considered pulling over to check on the woman in the trunk,
but that would wake him up. Let him sleep. Scully would live.

She supposed that she ought to be more sympathetic. They had
been through similar experiences: herself in the vaccine
research and Scully in the hybridization program. They had
both survived the experience. But then, there were differences
as well. Marita could remember her time in the labs. And
Scully had survived because her partner was willing to do
whatever it took to save her and other people--people like her-
-were willing to help him. Marita was still alive because she
was still useful. No one had gone out of his way to save her.
Even Spender's boy had only wanted her for what she knew.

Loyalty had never been one of her own virtues, of course.

Right now, she thought she was in agreement with Alex. They
needed to know what the fetus was and where it had come from.
According to Alex, the aliens were just waiting for a
successful hybrid to start the process. It could go forward
even without the old men. There had already been one
successful hybrid, although the rebels had killed her and
destroyed her body. They had also killed almost everyone who
knew she had ever existed.

But Spender had overseen the whole project. He might have kept
samples, documents, enough to create a new hybrid and implant
it in Scully. If he had, it too had to be destroyed. She
agreed with Alex.

As had agreed with her when she suggested the other
possibility. Both Mulder and Scully were immune to the alien
virus. They had both received versions of the vaccine which
worked by activating otherwise dormant areas in the human DNA.
Those early vaccines were unsuited for mass distribution. But
if Scully was passing her immunity on to the fetus, they might
be able to use that. If that was the case, Scully and her
unborn child had to be kept alive at any cost. Alex felt that
it was a remote possibility--as, in truth, did Marita--but she
was pleased that he had listened to her seriously and taken her
thoughts into consideration.

Provided he was telling the truth. Provided he didn't have
some other deal going, some hidden plan to serve his own
interests, save his skin at the expense of everyone else's.
Without a deal with the colonizers, the hybrid genes couldn't
save him. But then, that was the deal Spender had sent him off
to Oregon to make. What if he had been lying about his
inability to find the ship? In that case he would be leading
her on and setting her up.

She shuffled the cards in her mind: the ship, Alex's sense of
self-preservation, Spender, the rebels. Once upon a time,
victory over Spender was all Alex had wanted. And she had
wanted... what? She could hardly remember.

If only Alex weren't such an unlikely figure, the last person
you'd think the fate of the world might depend on. He was a
murderer, a liar, a traitor. No kind of idealist. If it were
Mulder she wouldn't worry. His goodness was so public, his
concern for others rolled off of him and encouraged those
around him to the heights of noble self-sacrifice.

But then, Mulder would never be in this situation, kidnapping a
pregnant woman and driving her halfway across the country.
They might have to perform an abortion in Chicago. They might
let the pregnancy come to term and take the infant from her.
Things Mulder would never do. Did that make him stronger than
them, or weaker?

Alex shifted slightly and in a second was wide awake. "Don't
worry," she couldn't help saying. "We're both still here."

He grimaced. "It's time to give Scully another dose."

"Are they really safe, Alex?" she found herself asking.
Pushing him, to see which way he'd move.

"Why? What are the alternatives? You aren't going to persuade
her to come sit in the back seat and make friends with us."

She was almost certain that she didn't care. Almost, but not
entirely. "You said we wouldn't kill her unless we had to.
You said that she could be useful alive and on the outside."
Useful, at least, to Alex's stated purpose, of causing as much
distress to the colonizers as possible.

"Look, Marita," he said sharply, "right now Dana Scully may
look cute, harmless and victimized, but she's got nerves of
steel. She's perfectly capable of shooting us both and walking
away without a second thought. She'd probably get off on it."

"Let me at least try to persuade her. This will be easier if
she's willing to work with us. If she knows the stakes..."

He cut her off. "What's with this good-cop routine, Marita?
How much of it's for real?"

"She could do the DNA analysis for us. We wouldn't have to
involve anyone from the Chicago group. I can do the test, but
I can't interpret the data."

"Marita. Would you trust any result she came up with? And who
exactly is going to do the procedure, if we have to?"

"Do we have to, Alex?" She had heard about the things that
were done in the hybridization program. Scully had undoubtedly
undergone worse than what she and Alex were intending, and for
less reason. Logically, she should not have a problem with

"Take the next exit," he said harshly. "Find a place to pull
over." She glanced at him, but didn't question his tone.
There was a 24-hour diner at the exit. She pulled over into
the lot and sat there, keeping her hands on the wheel, forcing
herself not to clutch it. All she could hear was his
breathing; he was looking out the window at the other cars.
"I can't do this, Marita," he said. From anyone else, the
words would have been an admission of defeat; from him they
were just a challenge. Her stomach felt light. "I can't work
with you, never knowing when you're going to attack, when
you're going to cut and run, or kill me, or whatever the hell
you're planning."

She had no time to think. "What I'm planning?" she cried, and
thank God the anger was real. "Me! You're the one who left me
there in Fort Marlene! You saw what they did to me, and you
left me there!"

"Exactly," he said.

The outburst had at least kept him from killing her right away:
if she had tried to protest her loyalty, she was sure he would
have. "I can't make you trust me, Alex," she offered.

"And that's it. You can't trust me, and I can't trust you.
Fuck that." He sounded tired.

She wondered if it would help if they were fucking. In a way
it had been the most honest thing they'd done together:
violent, challenging, ferocious. The rest of the time she had
played the disdainful lover and he--well, who could tell what
Alex meant and didn't mean? His plastic arm had hardly been
the only false part of him in those days. "What could either
of us say that the other would believe?"

He leaned his head back. "Nothing, I guess. Come on, let's go
see if we can persuade Agent Scully to climb out of the trunk
and play nicely with the other boys and girls."

She almost reached out to him as he opened his door. Instead,
she said, "Wait!" He turned back, staring at her. "Are you
sure Chicago will be secure?"

"What do you mean?" he asked, turning back to her, all
expression gone from his face.

"He used it. Over the winter, while you were..."

"Why didn't you tell me this before?" He drummed his fingers--
his left hand--against his knee. "Never mind. We'll go in
anyway. We need the analysis. We'll just have to be more
careful." She watched him scrolling through the possibilities
in his mind. "Is this why you wanted Scully on our side when
we went in?" She shrugged, looking away. He took her chin in
one hand and turned her face toward him. His voice was low and
even. "You know, Marita, I really should kill you. It would
remove all the risk, make everything simple."

She clenched her jaw to keep from asking why he didn't, then.
He was too close; it was an act of will not to try to move away
from him. "In the parking lot?" she finally asked. Her voice
sounded breathy and nervous.

He smiled. "I could leave your body as a surprise in the back
of one of those trucks," he suggested.

He could do it, she knew. He would, at the slightest
provocation. At most there were one or two things she could
say to stop him. She considered and rejected an appeal to
their past intimacy, a sexual invitation, the protest that she
was, at least at the moment, being honest with him. She
thought about letting him see her fear; that might work, if he
believed it to be genuine. She settled on what was, more or
less, the truth. "I'm just trying to keep myself alive, Alex.
That's all."

It seemed to work. He let her go, anyway, and got out of the


Krycek and Covarrubias must have been feeling confident: they
had let her out of the trunk and put her in the front seat.
They had even taken the tape off her mouth; Scully thought that
in the same circumstance Mulder would be asking a thousand
questions. But she wouldn't believe anything they told her and
could spent the time more fruitfully by observing them and her
surroundings. Her companions had taken turns trying to get her
to talk, asking her questions about Mulder, about her
pregnancy, about the files. They spoke only to her, never to
each other, both of them in calm, conversational tones.
Occasionally one would offer a piece of information, rather
than a question. She heard about Cassandra Spender's death,
and tried to keep any reaction from her face.

Somewhere south of Chicago, they pulled over into the lot of an
abandoned factory. This late at night, they seemed to be the
only people for miles around. She had an impression, in the
darkness, of overgrown plots and rusting aluminum walls, chain
fences around dark buildings and piles of trash and tires.
Covarrubias, who had been sitting in the back, got out first
and opened the door on Scully's side to let her out of the car;
she removed the handcuff from Scully's left wrist and attached
it to her own. Then the two of them walked her through the
empty space and around the side of the building. They were
constantly looking around, doing their best to keep the entire
place under observation. They were nervous, she realized.
They half-expected an attack.

It wasn't anyone of hers, she was sure. Byers, Langly and
Frohike would have realized by now that something in New York
had gone wrong, but they couldn't have found her yet.
Particularly if they tried to go through Skinner and Doggett,
who were used to her unexplained absences. There was also
Krycek's casual comment, "Don't expect Skinner to come looking
for you. He's ours." She didn't think she believed that.

Scully considered her options. She could drop to the ground
and refuse to move, but they would just carry her. She could
scream to attract attention, but she didn't think there was
anyone around to help. Or she could bide her time. An
opportunity would present itself. It had to. And she would be
ready for it.

They emerged into a large empty area at the back of the
building, and what she saw there did make her stop dead. Only
for a moment; then Covarrubias gave her arm an impatient tug
and she was moving again, dragging her feet. Train tracks ran
through the area behind the factory; unlike the building, they
weren't abandoned. Familiar windowless silver train cars stood
there. She knew what went on inside them.

Krycek dropped back slightly to grab her elbow as they hurried
her through the open space. She was too focused on the train
car they were heading for to do more than absently try to shake
his hand off.

There was no lock on the car. Krycek climbed up to open the
door for them as Covarrubias stood, her back to the car, gun
ready, eyes scanning the yard. When he was in, he hauled
Scully up as Covarrubias followed. They were still chained
together. As the lights came on, the woman began to lead her
further inside. As Scully glanced around at her surroundings,
she realized that Krycek had dropped back outside.

Scully kicked out suddenly with her near leg, twisting it
around Covarrubias' and making her stagger; she slammed into
the other woman's body with as much force as she could muster.
Covarrubias, caught off balance, fell to the ground. Scully
let herself fall with her, reaching for the gun in the her
right hand. As Covarrubias tried to break her fall the gun
went skittering across the floor, coming to a rest only when it
hit some cabinets at the far end of the car. Never mind,
Scully thought to herself, and went for her next target. The
key to the cuffs was in the front right pocket of Covarrubias'

Covarrubias was lying face down under her, her left arm, still
attached to Scully's right, twisted across her back. She kept
trying to shake Scully off and get up. She grunted in pain as
her left arm was pulled further around her back, as Scully
tried to dig into her pocket. Scully's left arm was wrapped
around Covarrubias' throat, keeping her pinned.

Scully's breath caught: the key was in her hand. At the very
same moment something reached down and caught her own neck.
She felt the cold muzzle of a gun digging into her just above
it, where her skull rested on her vertebrae.

"Very nice," Krycek said. "Drop the key." She went limp.
Covarrubias twisted underneath her and, still lying on the
floor, took the key from her fingers. She freed herself and
cuffed Scully's hands back together before starting to get up.
Krycek hauled Scully upright. "Another trick like that,
Scully," he hissed in her ear, "and I will blow your head off
of your shoulders." He pushed her forward, making her stumble.

In that manner--Krycek's hand pushing her forward, Covarrubias
walking to one side--they crossed the car. At the back, past
the Plexiglas divide she remembered, was a metal examination
table, surrounded by machinery. It looked like a very cramped
ob-gyn office, with everything in chrome instead of pastels.
As the setting sank in she kicked out again and heard Krycek
hiss in pain. He lifted her bodily onto the examination table
as she struggled.

"No, damn it!" she shouted. "You bastards! Let me go!"

The words echoed off the metal walls. They sounded empty even
to her and she fell silent again. Would good would it do to
shout? She tried to strike Covarrubias when the cuffs were
removed but Krycek held her wrists firmly until she was
strapped onto the table.

"Do you want to gag her?" he asked.

Covarrubias shook her head. "I'll need to ask her some
questions." She moved out of Scully's field of vision.

Krycek remained standing by the table, staring down at her.
She met his eyes, keeping her terror hidden. She wanted him to
know that she hadn't given up. Her first attempt to escape
might have failed, but it wouldn't be her last. And when she
did escape--when, she told herself, not if--she would show him
as much mercy as he'd shown her. She wanted him to know that.

He broke the silence. "We weren't supposed to shoot your
sister. It was a mistake. We should have killed you,

The shock made her gasp, and it took all her willpower not to
cry out again. Of course she knew that she had been the real
target, but she had never expected him to admit it. Certainly
not like this, the information offered like some kind of
apology. Her visible reaction must have satisfied him, because
he turned away and walked out of her sight. She heard him
speaking to Covarrubias, but the blood was rushing so loudly in
her ears that she couldn't make out the words.

The realization that someone was touching her brought her back
to herself. She opened her eyes, wondering for a moment when
she had squeezed them shut, and saw Covarrubias standing over
her. Cool, methodical fingers were unbuttoning her blouse and
pushing it away from her abdomen. She twisted herself to get
away, unable to stop the useless motion. Covarrubias ignored
her and began to undo the button on Scully's trousers. Then
she stopped for a second. "He's not here," she said. "He's
outside, waiting for the doctor." Then she unzipped the
trousers and pushed them down around Scully's hips. She paused
again, as if to examine her handiwork, before turning away.
When she came back she was wheeling an ultrasound machine.

Scully was quiet as she felt the gel being rubbed over her
abdomen. "Just tell me," she said. "Why do you hate us so

"I don't hate you, Agent Scully," Covarrubias said. She
sounded surprised. "What makes you think that?"

"Everything you do, you do to hurt us. Are we that much of a

"Contrary to popular belief, the world does not revolve around
you and Mulder."

"Then why are you doing this? You sent Mulder to that ship.
And now you're trying to kill our child."

The other woman looked down at her. "You know, Agent Scully,
that this may not be your child."

"This is my baby," she said. "Mine and Mulder's."

"Scully, you... when you were abducted your ova were harvested.
They use them for the cloning and hybridization programs. You
were left infertile."

"I know that!" Scully retorted, irritated at the false sympathy
she saw in the other woman's face. "We had IVF treatments."

The look of sympathy remained. "The doctor was ours, you know.
There was never a chance of that working. And we know about
the trip you took with the Smoker. I'm sorry, Scully, but
this baby is either his work or it's a miracle. Don't you at
least want to know what you're carrying?"

"I don't need to know. It's mine--my child. Inside me. You
don't... you can't understand." She closed her mouth,
to feel the tears at the corners of her eyes. "Please," she
said, hearing her voice shake. "Let me go."

For a moment she thought it might work, as the other woman's
face twisted. Then she spoke. "You aren't the only one who's
trapped here. None of us is really free."

"Krycek is forcing you to help him, isn't he?" She ignored the
feeling of the transducer running over her stomach. "Listen,
you don't need to be afraid. I can help you. You used to help
Mulder. He told me about it."

The other woman was looking intently at the monitor. "The last
time I tried to help Mulder," she said, "it nearly killed me."
Covarrubias turned back to meet her eyes. "Once upon a time I
thought that Mulder would save me."

She didn't need to say anything else. In the end, Mulder
hadn't even been able to save himself.


The best point from which to observe the area in front of the
factory at the same time as the tracks behind it was on the
roof, next to the water tank. Had there been an observer
present there that night, he or she would have seen the
following events.

At 3:42 AM a car pulled up in front of the factory and a man
and two women got out. The smaller of the two women appeared
to be a prisoner. The three walked around the building to the
area behind the factory, where the two women entered one of the
train cars standing there. The man followed them in.

Seven minutes later he exited the carriage. He stood by it for
a moment, staring up at the roof, then proceeded to place
himself at the edge of a loading dock on the west side of the
building. His position enabled him to see the train cars as
well as the area through which someone coming from the front of
the building would have to pass. He disappeared into the gloom

Thirty-four minutes later another car entered the area in front
of the building. The driver pulled up next to the first car
and got out. He appeared to be a man of medium height in his
mid-forties, with light brown hair. He stopped by the other
car and laid his hand on the hood, as if to check how recently
it had moved. He stood there for about thirty seconds before
turning and beginning to walk around the building.

At the moment that the man in front took his hand from the car,
the man in back left his hiding place. He glanced around him
for a moment, then began to hurry back to the train car. This
time he seemed not to care that he might be seen, although he
kept as quiet as his speed would allow. As he went, he looked
over his shoulder again and again, at the point at which
someone coming from the front of the building would appear.

At no point had the two men made visual contact.


Marita hadn't expected Alex to clamber into the carriage,
breathing heavily, his face white as a sheet. She stood over
the examination table, staring at him with her mouth slightly
open as he got his breath back. He spoke before she could ask
what it was. "You were right. The doctor betrayed us.
They've sent one of the bounty hunters instead. At least one
more is coming with the backup."

"You saw him?" she asked.

He nodded. "Go out the back and see if you can find us a way
out. I'll get Scully up and moving."

She should have left right away. Instead she asked, "We're
taking her?"

He glanced out the door. "They want her dead."

They could write off the car they'd come in, Marita thought as
she moved back through the train. The hunter had seen it, and
in any case the area between them and it was going to be full
of Consortium men as soon as the hunter's backup arrived.
The thought made her pause. How, she wondered, had Alex known
that backup was coming? Was it just a guess, or was it all
some kind of plot of his? She knew she didn't have the leisure
to think it over but this time--this time, damn it--she would
ask him. There were too many mysteries now. If he didn't tell
her what was going on, she would leave. She would get the hell
away from Alex Krycek and all his little secrets. And she
would take Dana Scully and her fetus with her. Marita
permitted herself a small smile at that thought as she lowered
herself quietly to the ground at the end of the train. Keeping
to the edge of the back lot, she began to edge north; the area
behind the factory was walled in, but people were always
looking for ways into abandoned properties. Somewhere there
would be a break in the wall.

She had been impressed despite herself at Scully's performance.
The woman had left no tactic untried in her attempt to persuade
Marita to let her go. Everything from tears to anger to
sympathy. If Marita could present herself convincingly as
another of Alex's victims, Dana Scully would help her. And in
a sense it was true. She was as much his victim as he was

For the moment, though, she needed to focus on finding a way
out before they were all picked up by the aliens, or Spender,
or whoever was on their way.

She edged forward, clinging to the shadows and wishing she had
thought to bring something that would cover her hair. The area
behind the factory seemed vast and open, and the train itself
isolated and vulnerable in the center of all that empty space.
The half moon cast more shadows than light, but the silver of
the train cars seemed to glow eerily under it. Ahead of her
she could also see the faintest orange glow cast by a single
streetlight on the sidewalk beyond the walled yard. She headed
for that.

She was darting from one pile of scrap metal to another--it
seemed like someone had taken the contents of the factory,
twisted them up and strewn them across the yard--when she heard
the engines. She hid herself and lay still. She was only a
few meters away from a wooden gate in the wall. It was chained
shut but the three of them could slip through it. She would
investigate it as soon as the cars passed.

They didn't pass. She heard the engines idling, then the clank
of the chain being dropped and the creak of the gate swinging
open. She heard three vehicles roll into the yard and took the
risk of raising her head to look at them through a clump of dry
weeds. A car and two black vans. They were blocking her way
back to the train, effectively isolating her from Alex and

She hid again before the vans could come to a stop, knowing
that the first thing the people getting out would do would be
to look around carefully. Still, she could hear the engines
being switched off and the booted feet crunching on the gravel
as the men jumped out. They didn't start moving yet; she
guessed that they were standing around, waiting for their last-
minute commands. She could hear them grow still, the sign that
someone in authority was there. Then Marita heard the click of
the lighter.

It was an act of will not to raise her head and look at him.
She heard his laconic command, "This time, kill them all," and
waited until she heard them head off at a jog before giving in.

It was him. He was out of the wheelchair, and had a silver
haired man she knew to be one of the alien healers standing by
him. That would explain his health. The aliens must have made
contact with him.

She watched them walk together after the troops. He must be
readying himself to enjoy his final victory over the people who
had opposed him: herself, Alex, even Scully in her own way.
Marita drew her gun.

All thought of Alex's secrets and betrayals had been shunted
aside. The man before her had tortured her and saved her at
his whim. The first time he had stopped the tests she had been
grateful and had helped him willingly. Then she had come
across the lab reports and realized how little of what had been
done to her was really necessary. She had seen what a token
commitment he made to the vaccine research. She had made the
mistake of asking him about it. And he had sent her down to
Atlanta for another round of tests--of torture.

Marita remembered the day he came to get her from Atlanta.
They had gone to an office and he had shown her stacks of
paper, piles of disks and biological samples. He had let her
examine them for hours. They were the results of this second
period of research on her. He told her they were the only
copies, something she believed. Then he made her destroy them

She didn't need to have her worthlessness explained to her
twice. They both knew that she would do anything to avoid
another round in the laboratories. She had obeyed him in every

He sent her back once more--she didn't know where or why.
Perhaps simply because he could. Then he came to get her,
repaired the worst of the damage, and packed her off to fetch
Alex out of that Tunisian jail. It had been meant as a reward,
to see Alex like that.

The night suddenly seemed darker than it had been. She blinked
and blinked again, her heart beating with the fear that she'd
gone blind again. She wanted to run or scream.

Then the world righted itself. She could tell that it had only
been a few seconds by the distance Spender and his companion
had traveled. Even that short stretch had taken them outside
her range. She would only have one shot at him, and she needed
it to count. This time she would make sure he was dead.

As the crack of gunfire began, over at the train, she began to
crawl forward. She was halfway there when all hell broke


"You did hear that," Krycek said as he walked over to the
examination table. It wasn't a question. "If they find you
here, they'll kill you."

"Why exactly should I believe any of this?" Scully asked.

He grinned. Things were moving again. The details of hybrids
and vaccines were beyond his understanding, but a bunch of
people heading his way, murder in mind, made him feel alive.
"OK, Scully," he started as he undid the straps on her left
leg. "Would I be letting you up if I didn't absolutely have
to? Think about it. I don't need to lay a trap for you now.
I already did that." He gave her his most dazzling smile. She
frowned, but appeared to be thinking it over. "Here's the
plan. I'm loosening these now so that if something goes wrong
you can run. But right now I want you to lie on the table
until the hunter comes in here. He'll head right for you and
I'll take him out."


"If they want you dead, it's for a reason. It probably means
that I want you alive." She looked suspicious but didn't
comment. He finished with her arms and stepped back hastily,
gun in hand. No sense getting stupid at this late date. She
sat up slowly, pulling up her pants and buttoning her shirt.
Jesus, he thought, he really must have been focused on the
thought of the bounty hunter--she'd been half-naked and he'd
barely noticed. He retreated to a shadowed area behind the
entrance to the train car, and settled in to wait. She lay
back down at his nod.

The hunter wouldn't know which car they were in. He'd have to
check them all and then let the backup know where he was.
Krycek could hear him approaching now, no need for secrecy, his
feet loud on the gravel. A pause as he checked the car next to
theirs, and then more crunching gravel. Now, Krycek thought,
he's climbing up to the door, pushing it open, and he'll see
that the power is on and step right in. He was gratified when
the alien did exactly that. He was still in the form of the
scientist, Krycek guessed, some man he didn't recognize. That
didn't make him hesitate; the hunter paused to look at the
woman on the examination table and put his gun away and Krycek
sprang. The gun and the bounty hunter fell to the floor, green
foam bubbling around the place where the spike protruded from
the nape of his neck. Krycek remained crouched beside him;
he'd seen one of these bastards sit up and pull the weapon
right out of him, and didn't want to ever see that again.
Plus, no matter how often he'd seen the aliens decompose, it
still impressed him. Satisfied that the creature was dead, he
reached out carefully to retrieve the spike.

When he looked up, he saw Scully standing in front of the
table, pointing the hunter's gun at his head.

Fuck, was his first thought. She gestured with the gun and he
raised his hands. Krycek started to estimate his chances if he
jumped her. He still had the spike in his hand, but she had
the gun. He didn't like the odds.

"Don't even think about it, Krycek," she said. "Put that down
on the ground. Slowly. The gun too."

Moving slowly, he placed them on the floor next to the body.
She was watching him too carefully to let him get to the knife
in his boot. "Scully," he said, "we really need to get out of
here." And where the hell was Marita when he needed her? So
fucking typical.

Not that he was famous for getting her out of hot water either.

"Shut up," she said. "I should just shoot you now and get it
over with."

He had to admit she had a point, and in her shoes he might not
have bothered to talk it over first. Still, "I know where
Mulder is."

"Sure you do, Krycek."

"Look, Scully. Can we at least move this conversation
somewhere else?" He let himself sound nervous. "I don't want
to get caught here any more than you do." All his senses were
straining to hear what was going on outside. He thought he
heard engines. The bounty hunter hadn't told his backup which
car they were in, but they still didn't have much time. It was
probably already too late to run.

A shout from the yard made his jump even though he was half
expecting it. Scully turned to look toward the door. Krycek
grabbed his weapons and ran, taking her arm as he passed her
and half-dragging her to the door at the back of the car. The
power was cut as they got there, but that was fine from his
point of view. He opened the door and shoved her through the
empty space between the two cars and into the next one,
following almost immediately. The moonlight through the open
door illuminated the interior for a moment, just long enough
for him to see a filing cabinet and shove it to block the

They might have enough time to get out the back, the way Marita
had gone. This car, he remembered, had a door that faced away
from the factory at the far end. He kept going until he
reached it, then glanced behind him. Of course he couldn't see
her. The car was pitch black. He stared to feel around on the
side of the carriage, hunting for the door.

He heard Scully's feet pattering on the floor. "Come here and
help me find the door," he whispered. Instead her hand settled
on his left shoulder. In a moment he felt the barrel of the
gun follow it into the hollow between his neck and shoulder.
He froze, suppressing the urge to shrug at it. "Jesus, Scully,
put the goddamned gun away already," he said. "I thought I was
the thug here."

Her hand tightened. OK, it might not have been the most
tactful thing to say. She had, he couldn't help noticing, tiny
hands. "Open the door, Krycek," she hissed.

"I'm trying," he muttered, moving his hands again over the
wall. There, he thought. That was the seam under his left
hand. He moved his right to check where the handle ought to
be. Now, to work out a way to open the door and escape Scully
in a single movement.

There was someone banging at the door at the far end of the
carriage, the way they'd come in. They'd have to hurry. He
pulled the latch down and slid the door open an inch--then his
reflexes took over and he slammed it shut. Only after that did
he hear the gunfire; he must have seen the men. They'd already
surrounded the train. He locked the door and jammed the spike
he'd used on the hunter into the lock. It would slow the
attackers down, a little.

"Alex?" a familiar voice called. "I know you're in there.
Open the door."

Fuck. He had known Spender wasn't dead, but he had hoped that
he was still very very sick somewhere. Now they were trapped.
He had to assume that Spender had picked Marita up as well. He
tensed, expecting to hear her voice any moment. Spender would
try to make her beg for rescue. Unless he had killed her right
away. He forced the image of Marita's body, lying crumpled and
discarded outside the train, from his mind.

"All I want is Dana Scully," Spender continued. "Send her out
and I'll let you go free. You have my word on it."

It might have been worth considering, but he knew that the
hunter had been instructed to kill them all. Now he was
trapped between two enemies. The nearer threat had to come
first. "He's lying," he whispered to Scully. "He wants me
dead as much was you." Freakishly, he kept thinking of
Spender's last words to him. Given the shitty job he'd done
getting rid of the old man and the fact that he hadn't done
anything to Mulder, maybe he should start feeling more
optimistic about the fate of the world.

He wasn't feeling optimistic about his own fate, though. He
locked the door, but they'd be able to pry it open from the
outside. Scully moved with him as he began to back away from
it. If only he could see something: was there a side door? A
trap door? There would be an exit to the roof of the train,
but that would leave them just as exposed. And how much time
did they have, before Spender got bored and decided to just
blow them up?

"What are you doing?" Scully hissed. He didn't bother to
answer. There had to be some way out. They were about halfway
along the car, and he could hear the men outside trying to open
the door. He drew his gun. A shootout in a train car. What a
fucking stupid way to die.

The men outside had to wedge the door open inch by inch. As
the light grew, he glanced down and saw a crack in the smooth
metal floor. A trapdoor. He traced the crack with his
fingers, keeping one eye on the door. Now that she could see,
Scully must have realized what he was doing: she shoved some
boxes aside, exposing the latch and handle.

By some complete miracle it opened onto the tracks themselves,
only a wire mesh between them and freedom. Scully kicked it
aside and dropped straight down; as soon as she rolled aside he
followed her, just as the door sprang open and the armed men
peered in. He landed between the tracks and started to follow
Scully forward, away from Spender.

That was when all hell broke loose.

For a second he thought the bright blue flash was just
moonlight. Then he heard the wind and, looking to the side,
saw the men outside staring up. In front of him, Scully had
frozen as well. He grabbed her foot to catch her attention--
was he the only guy who didn't rubberneck at UFOs? They rolled
out from under the train on the factory side, where there were
fewer soldiers. He shot one as he came up, and saw another
fall in the next moment. Then he grabbed Scully again and
began to run north. On the other side of the train he could
hear shots and screaming, and smell the burning flesh. Marita
had been heading north, he thought. They might still find her.

When they rounded the end of the train, it was like looking
into a picture of hell: all acid and burning corpses. This
time he froze as well, his eyes fixed on the two things that
didn't belong.

First, Spender, standing untouched in the middle of the chaos.
He might as well have been protected by a forcefield, for all
the attention he paid as a burning soldier staggered between

Second, the black car speeding toward Spender. At the last
minute it swerved away from him and toward him and Scully.
This time it was Scully who pulled him out of the way as the
car swerved again and came to a stop directly in front of them.
The passenger side door opened.

"Come on," Marita shouted.

He shoved Scully into the car ahead of them. It was a good
thing Spender liked these big American boats, he thought. He
turned to say something to Marita as he slammed the door behind
him, but she hit the accelerator, her eyes staring straight
ahead. He followed her gaze just in time to see them crash
into Spender. His body made a wet sound as it rolled on top of
the hood and smashed into the window. For a horrific second,
he and Scully were eye to eye with Spender's blank face and
then he rolled off again.

Before Krycek could open his mouth, the car came to a dead stop
and he rocked forward, nearly smashing his head onto the glass.
He sat up again, blinking, to find Marita looking at him
furiously. He finally found that he had something to say.
"What the hell are you doing? Keep going."

"Go check him," she said.


"Go back and check him this time. Make sure he's dead."

"What the hell? Marita, it's a fucking war zone out there!"

"Fine," she said. "I'll do it. We're not leaving until I know
for sure he's dead." She had the door open and was halfway out
before she finished the sentence. One of Spender's men turned
to fire at her as she crossed the yard but burst into flame
before he could make the shot. Shit. Alex grabbed