Welcome To The Harem

The House Of Hope Is Built On Ash by M Sebasky
Summary: Deslea's rec: "I cried over this one, and I don't cry easily. Marita struggles to face life without Alex. A stark, painful exploration of grief and loss. As someone who has lost a partner, it's rare that I read a fic which captures that experience, but this one does it with breathtaking honesty." Co-Winner, Blondie's Ratcave Award for Marita Characterisation, 2001 Spookys; runner-up, Krycek/Marita Romance.

The House of Hope is Built on Ash (1/1)
by M. Sebasky

Rating: R

Summary: Marita is stuck in a moment and she can't get out.

Category: Post-ep for Existence. Marita, Krycek. Angst. Some bedroom
scenes, but not out and out smut.

Spoilers: Existence. I'm sorry.

Feedback: mmm..feedback

email: msebasky@yahoo.com

Link: http://geocities.com/msebasky/house.html

Archive: Ephemeral, Spookys, Gossamer yes. All others please ask. Thanks.

Notes and thanks: at end.


The House of Hope is Built on Ash
by M. Sebasky

"Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."

Mohican Chief Amuput, 1725

He died without dignity and that was not right. She knew he had lived with
dignity, or tried to. It was integrity he lacked.

That was important. There were many important things about him, about who
he was. She wouldn't forget them.

Marita Covarrubias was sure of it.

The lawn was quiet and green, complete with a duck pond, which had been
commandeered by Canadian geese for the summer. Goslings were chugging
across the well-sculptured green, staying well within their mother's
protective gaze. They were awkward and delightful as they stuck small black
feet in the lake, their little bodies so fuzzy with baby down it was almost
irresistible not to touch them.

She knew that geese were mean. She remembered an incident from her
childhood when she had strayed too close to a pond in a park where a flock
of geese were feeding. Her father had pulled her back and told her to be
careful. "They call them barnyard watchdogs, baby. Those birds can knock a
grown man unconscious," he'd said. "They'd knock your skinny legs into next

Her legs weren't skinny anymore. In fact, they were one of her best
features, but that was neither here nor there. Her father had been right,
geese were mean. There would be no cuddling of goslings for comfort today
or any day.

She stared out at the lake and tried to get her thoughts in order. There
was a lot to consider these days; things like where to go and what to do
next. These were hard enough decisions without her mind constantly jumping
from random thought to random thought like a squirrel in a cage.

But it was too much effort to try to get her head on straight, so she
decided to watch the geese some more. The grass beneath her was well
tended, soft and from the smell, freshly cut. The sun was warm and the
goslings were entertaining. This was worth it, this moment with birds and
sun and warm lawn.

They told her it would take several hours, so there was no rush. She would
stay here.

She would stay here forever.

The night before, she'd gone into the kitchen to get a glass of water and
Alex was there, leaning against the counter.

"Honey, I'm home," he said, smirking in that way that simultaneously pissed
her off and made her love him madly.

"What are you doing here?" She was aware how dull she sounded. These days,
she really needed more sleep and fewer hallucinations in her life.

"I'm the king of rock and roll. Dust never sleeps, Marita. You know that."

Alex smiled and she could see how white his teeth were. She didn't remember
them being that white. Come to think of it, she didn't really remember his
teeth at all, whether they were slightly crooked or straight.

It bothered her that she couldn't remember. A person should remember these
things, little details that kept the memories sharp as blades.

"You aren't real," she muttered and pulled a glass out of the cabinet.

"I'm as real as I get these days. How about you?"


"Are you real? Maybe you're not. Maybe I'm the one that's real and you're
the figment of my imagination."

She walked past him on the way to the sink and he followed. She could see
him standing behind her in her peripheral vision.

"Can't sleep?" he purred.

Even dead, his sarcasm hurt her. She turned on the water and filled her
glass. "I'm getting a drink of water."

Alex crossed his arms across his chest. "How is it?"

"It's water. I'm sure it will be fine." She set the glass on the counter
and refilled the Brita pitcher from the streaming tap.

"I'm not talking about the water, although that would be good about now. It
gets dry when you're dead."

She watched the water level creep up through the plastic side of the
pitcher. "I'll remember that."

"Why, so you can pack a canteen? It won't do you any good. Once you're
dead, you're dead."

She returned the pitcher back to the refrigerator, then opened the freezer
and took out a loose ice cube from the frozen mass in the ice container.
"What do you want?" she asked.

"How is it?"

She went back to the sink and picked up her glass. The ice cube made a
plopping sound when she put it in. "How is what?"

"How is it without me?"

She glanced sideways. She could see the way the tendons corded in his neck
and remembered how it felt to kiss him along that delicate line, kiss him at
the base of throat. She had liked to do that, liked the fact that at their
most intimate, he would bare his throat to her. It was a primal thing, one
of the few signs of vulnerability he ever showed.

It was funny when she thought about it. He had fucked her in almost every
physical way imaginable. They had been in every position, pleasured each
other until they both ached from the effort, until they were both raw and
screaming each other's name as they came. Still, only in allowing her to
kiss the hollow of his throat had she been sure how much she meant to him.

Alex leaned back against the counter. "Having a nice daydream? Thinking of

"I'm tired," she muttered. "I haven't been able to sleep in days."

"Since it happened?"

She nodded.

"You still haven't answered my question. Are you going to tell me, Marita,
or are you going to make a dead man beg?"

Her smile was bitter aspic. "I wouldn't know how it is without you. You're
still here."

"Not really." Alex turned sideways to face her. "Look at me, Marita."

"I can't."

"Why not? You know you want to."

Her hands clutched the glass so hard she thought it might break. "You're
not real."

"No, I'm not. Sorry about that."

Tears wet her lashes. "Now I know I'm hallucinating. Alex Krycek never
apologized for anything."

"Maybe he should have."

She shook her head vehemently. "No. He was who he was--"

"And you wouldn't have had him any other way?" He chuckled. "I'm a goddamn
hallucination and even I know that's a lie."

Alex took a step closer, but unlike the past, she couldn't feel any heat
radiating from his body when he came near. "You're better off without me,
Marita," he murmured. "I never loved you like you wanted. I would have
never stayed."

"I never asked you to."

"You wanted to, though."

"Sometimes." She stared down at the ice cube bobbing around in the
half-full glass. "Sometimes I did."

He shook his head. "All the time."

"But when we were good--" Her voice cracked so she stopped.

"--There were none better. Yeah. I know."

Her lips quivered. "I have to get some sleep," she whispered, feeling the
tears too close, feeling it all start to cave and crumble and she couldn't
afford that. She couldn't afford that ever.

Alex gave her a sympathetic nod. "Okay. Go to bed. I'd say I'd see you
later, but--"

"--You're dead. Right."

Her free hand flew up to stop any more words from coming out. She turned and
walked out of the kitchen, each step deliberate, spine straight, hands
shaking just enough to make the ice cube clink in the glass.

Alex's voice floated out from the darkness behind her.

"Sweet dreams, Marita."

She went into her bedroom and curled up in bed, shivering under the down
comforter. She tried shutting her eyes, but knew full well there was no way
sleep was coming tonight or any other night in the immediate future.

Sweet dreams.

Yeah. Right.


The sun was no longer overhead, and the man with the
bland-as-vanilla-pudding face had come up behind her. Shame on her for not
noticing. She would have to be careful from now on. No one had her back
anymore. Not that anyone ever really had, but it helped to think that maybe
at some point, it had been true.

She glanced back in the direction of the dark suit. The man's head was
slightly bowed, consideration oozing from his every pore. He had been nice
about everything so far, but she supposed it came with the territory. From
his bland expressions and perfect attire, he had the whole routine down to a

She was glad it was a sunny day and she could keep the sunglasses on without
explanation. She'd worn them for the better part of the last week, hiding
from the rest of the world what lived in her eyes these days. She took them
off only at night and then was careful to stay away from mirrors. She
didn't want to see that kind of thing either.

What was the man's name? Mr. Williams? Mr. Mitchell? It was something
innocuous and common, inoffensive and bland, just like everything else about
him. She should be able to remember his name.

She heard him clear his throat softly. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but I
wanted to let you know that everything has been taken care of. We're ready
for you now."

Two of the goslings floating on the surface of the lake went bottoms up
looking for food and it made her smile. She wanted to stay out here with
the geese forever. She wanted to watch the goslings grow to adulthood, stay
while the seasons changed, while the babies grew pinion feathers. She
wanted to be there when they learned to fly, wanted to cheer as they beat
their wings hard in the effort to learn how to go to the next warm place.
She would be here when they returned the next spring, waiting. It was the
perfect plan. She would never have to leave.

But, the Stones were right: you can't always get what you want. She'd
repeated that lesson enough in this lifetime. A friend of hers in college
told her once that people keep repeating lessons until they've learned them.
If that was true, then she wished she'd catch on because she couldn't take
much more of this first hand learning.

Besides, this nice Mr. Somebody was waiting for her. It was time to get up.

She looked back out at the lake and felt the sting of tears. Bye-bye,
geese. Take care of yourselves. Grow up safe, have good lives. Bye,
babies. Bye-bye.

As she stood and slipped her shoes back on, she thought that Rogers and
Hammerstein were full of shit. At some point in time, everyone walks alone.

She hadn't thought much about him not calling on time. He was always late
and sometimes he just didn't call for weeks and months at a time. Over the
years, she had grown used to it.

But she knew he had gone to confront Mulder; and when he hadn't called by
dawn the next day, and hadn't answered the number he told her only she
had -- and no, she'd never completely believed that -- she knew something
had happened.

They'd set it up years before.

"If anything ever happens to me, Marita, will you take care of everything?"

She rolled over onto her stomach and flipped her hair back in a gesture she
knew he found irresistible. "Sure," she grinned, "I'll plant you, baby,"
then she threw the covers over her head and headed southwards.

Alex reached down and caught her arm, pulling her up so she was face-level
with him. The next day, she'd had bruise in the shape of three of his

"I mean it, Marita. This is important. Don't say yes if you don't mean it."

She grinned and pulled away, running her hand over his chest, and then
lower. "Lighten up, Alex. Now isn't the time."

She was poised right above him, just about to wrap her mouth around the head
of his penis when she heard his voice, colder than a glacier. "Of course,
you'll be paid for your trouble. I'll put it in writing if you like."

Her anger paralyzed her for a split second before she slowly sat up, holding
the sheet up to cover herself. He was so good at knowing exactly where to
insert the knife, at hitting her when she was the most vulnerable. She
looked up and away in an effort not to cry. She wouldn't give him that
satisfaction as well.

They sat in silence for minutes until Alex laid a warm palm between her
shoulder blades. This time his touch was gentle.

"Marita, turn around."

It felt like she was choking. "You don't need to pay me," she growled.

"I'd want to. Consider yourself a beneficiary or make it your executor's

She spun around, eyes flashing. "You don't need to."

"Okay, okay. I don't need to. I still will."

He was looking at her in that way that always made her bones turn to rubber.
She laid back down on the bed with her back to him, still smarting from the
cruelty. Why do I do this, she thought. Why am I still surprised?

He turned sideways and curled his body against hers. It wasn't something he
normally did; he liked to keep his space, even after sex. Her heart ached
to feel him so unusually close.

She felt him lift her hair and gently bite the nape of her neck. "Look, I
don't know who else I can ask to do this. If you don't want to, okay. But
I need to know in short order. Things are coming up."


His breath was warm on her shoulder blade. She felt another gentle bite.
"Things. The point is, one of these times I may not come back."

She shut her eyes and pressed back against him. "Don't say that."

She could feel him smile against her back. "It's the truth."

"What would I have to do?"

He sighed. The warmth of his breath against her neck made all the fine
hairs on her arms stand up. "All you'd have to do is take care of the body
if there is one and deliver some checks. There might be a chance that you
couldn't recover the body. So, if you can get to me, great. If not--well,
that's that."

She could feel him stiffen against the small of her back. "Deliver checks
to who?"

Alex bit her neck, harder this time. She rolled over and he laid a hand on
her breast, tweaking the nipple. When she moaned softly, he smiled.

"Will you?" he asked, leaning in and taking her lower lip gently between his
teeth. His breath was hot, his skin was hot and oh god, his hands were

"Yes," she breathed, not sure what he was asking and not sure what she was
agreeing to. In that moment she would have done anything he asked, just to
keep him with her, in her bed and in her life.

Three days later, he presented her with a key to a safety deposit box to be
opened should he ever be pronounced dead. He showed her the receipt for the
cashier's check made out to her that was in it and told her of the
instructions he had left.

She'd taken notes and accepted the key, and the thin carbon paper imprinted
with many zeroes, in silence. The envelope that contained all the
information and the key had stayed in her top dresser drawer unused and
un-thought of until three days ago.

The phone rang. She snatched it up.

"Marita Covarrubias?"

She didn't recognize the voice. "Yes? Who is this?"

"I know where he is."

Her heart leapt. "He's alive?"


Time froze. Her hand clutched the phone like a talon.

The voice on the other line continued as if they were discussing the
weather. "The body is in the Baltimore morgue under the name Andrew
Covarrubias, victim of a drug-involved incident. In your mailbox
downstairs is an envelope with all the proper identification. There will be
no questions asked. You may claim him or not. It's your choice."

The voice hung up.

Only after a trip to Baltimore, after seeing him with her own eyes, did she
use the key. She couldn't bring herself to cash the check.

In the past, she had betrayed him, helped Spender send him away to far away
lands and prisons. Yet all the time he was rotting in Tunisia, wasting away
in Russia, or just MIA in general, she never thought of using the key.

But he had never been dead before.

They walked side by side into the building. The walls of the lobby were a
soft dark blue through her sunglasses. The carpet was thick and the hiss of
processed air shooting through the vents was the loudest sound in the place.

Mr. Whatshisname gestured her into a side room off the main lobby. "This
way, please."

Maybe Miller? On the way into the room, she checked the door for a
nameplate, anything to give her an idea what the man's name might be.

There was none.

Without prompting she sat down in one of the spindly chairs in front of the
picture window that overlooked the back of the cemetery. By this point, it
was all becoming remote formality.

Mr. Whosis--Butler? No, that wasn't it. Mr. Something sat down in the chair
across from her and in his blandest manner said, "Everything went well."

An urge to giggle came over her. How would things go badly, she wondered?
"Oh we're sorry, but the oven exploded and now your beloved is all over the
south lot?" Or better yet, "We tried and tried but he simply wouldn't
ignite. We're very sorry. Here's the box. Or, would you prefer a bag?"

Mr. Nobody leaned in and cocked his head in his version of sympathy.
"Andrew is ready for you to take him home."

Alex was ready to go home with her? Well, that would be a first.

The laughter bubbled up and out before she could control it this time. She
tried to recover, to have some dignity, but the image of Krycek as Ward
Cleaver, homebody and upright citizen, had settled in her head and she
couldn't lose it. The snicker turned into a giggle and then into an out and
out cackle. She put a hand over her face, aware that tears were streaming
down from behind her sunglasses

Alex Krycek was finally ready to go home with her and all he had to do was
die first.

Little by little, she gained control back. "I'm--I'm sorry. If you just
had known Andrew..." A stray giggle escaped and she wiped her eyes under her

Mr. What The Hell Was His Name smiled the smile of the long-suffering and
nodded. "Perfectly all right."

He folded her hands and looked at her. It occurred to Marita that he was
waiting for something.

Oh. Right. As funny as it seemed, this wasn't a joke. She swallowed, all
laughter gone, and nodded to show she was ready.

Mr. Pudding stood and went through a door at the back of the office. He
returned a moment later carrying a large plastic container.

She took it from him. It was heavier than she thought.

It was still warm.

Mr. Pudding's voice was quiet. "I'm very sorry, Ms. Covarrubias."

She stared down at the box, finding it impossible to speak. This man wasn't
joking. Alex really was ready to come home with her.

"That's the standard container. Are you sure you don't wish to purchase an

She looked up at the man. She had no idea what she wanted to do with this
box. What she wanted was Alex, the real Alex, to walk in the door, put a
bullet in this man's brain and say, "Let's go, Marita. Now." She would
have welcomed the death of this nice man if it meant seeing Alex one more

Mr. Pudding laid a hand on her shoulder in solace.
"Would you like a moment?"

She looked down at the white container. "I need to go now," she whispered.

"Of course."

She looked back up into the man's face and it came to her. Smithers. The
man's name was Smithers.

She stood and laid the box on the seat behind her. "Thank you, Mr.

He took her extended hand, and after she had collected the box, saw her out.
She walked away from him, down the path towards the car, the late afternoon
sun warm on her shoulders, the heat from the container warming her hands.

When she got back to the apartment, Alex was waiting for her.

"What'cha got?"

She laid the box carefully on the couch.


He raised his eyebrows. "I'm in there?"

She nodded, unable to do anything but stare down at the box. It struck her
that it was too small. Alex was bigger than that container. He was bigger
than anyone she had ever known. It was one of the reasons she loved him so
much. He was too big to be caught and killed and ground to bone ash. Alex
Krycek had been more than this. That wasn't him in there. He couldn't be

She was vaguely aware that she was shaking, that her knees were buckling.
She sank down on the carpet in front of the sofa, biting her lip so hard it

Alex looked down at the box with her. "Cry if you want to, Marita. I'm
dead. I won't care."

"I didn't believe it," she choked. "I don't believe it. I can't."

Alex sat down on the couch next to the box. "You really don't have much of
a choice, Marita. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we don't."

Slowly he reached out and tipped her chin with nonexistent fingers so that
she could look into his face. She studied the planes of his cheeks, the
small scar near his temple. She marveled at the amazing green of his eyes.

A sob flew out of her. Alex shook his head as if to tell her that this
would never do.

"Shut your eyes, Marita," he said in a tone she never heard him use when he
was alive. Later, she would realize that in that moment, he sounded kind.

She followed his instructions, obedient as a child. When she opened them an
eternity later, he was gone and the box was still on the couch, cooling.

He died without dignity and that was not right. She knew he had lived with
dignity, or tried to. It was integrity he lacked.

That was important. There were many important things about him, about who
he was. She wouldn't forget them.

She keeps the plastic box under the bed. It makes her feel better to keep
him closer than he ever was in life. It is against his wishes to be
scattered at sea, but what can he do about it? He's dead.

She knows he wouldn't approve but thinks that somehow, he'd understand.

Marita Covarrubias is sure of it.



Notes: this just popped out. I don't foresee myself writing too much more
X Files fic. There's a couple of stories I want to finish and a promise I
must keep, but for new things, this might be it.

Who knows, really?

Anyway, I just want to say thank you to all the readers and authors in the
community who have been so kind and supportive. You have made this a

Thanks to the YV clan for a quick over and title suggestions. Special
thanks to Tara Avery and S.E. Parsons and Lysandra for the beta offers and

Happy Memorial Day to all, and to the character of Alex Krycek.

R.I.P., old friend.