Welcome To The Harem

Void Sale by Eodrakken Quicksilver
Summary: In and out of Fort Marlene, in and out of debt. How do weasels get out of holes in the ground? Ask a rat who's been there. Marita/Krycek. Post-"One Son", informed by "William".

TITLE: Void Sale
AUTHOR: Eodrakken Quicksilver
FEEDBACK: eo@morosophy.com
ARCHIVE: List archive OK, elsewhere kindly ask first.
SPOILERS: Mytharc through "William".
RATING: PG-13, for language and assorted darkness.
DISCLAIMER: The characters of The X-Files are Copyright 1013
Productions and Fox Television. No infringement intended.

SUMMARY: In and out of Fort Marlene, in and out of debt. How do
weasels get out of holes in the ground? Ask a rat who's been there.
Marita/Krycek. Post-"One Son", informed by "William".

NOTES: I couldn't have done this without Malograntum Vitiorum.

_Void Sale_
by Eodrakken Quicksilver

She isn't surprised when he doesn't come back.

"They can't hurt you anymore," he told her when he left, as if she
were a child, or an animal. "I'm meeting with Kersh today, and then
we'll clear this up once and for all. We *will* tell your story." He
placed a glass of water down for her on the table by the bed, and a
business card next to it, an extension written in pen. "If you need
anything, call me. I'll be back by six." He looked down at her like
he might cry, or like he thought she was going to. And he left.

She hopes he wasn't renting this house, because she doesn't know where
to send a check if he was. And she's sure her bank account's been
closed anyway. He must not have lived here, because there's nothing
in the refrigerator except the bag of groceries he brought for her,
and because the police never come.

For a while she lives between the bed and the kitchen, making the
slow, difficult trek once or twice a day. She isn't hungry, but she
knows she has to eat. She sits down at the table to rest, and eats a
cup of lemon yogurt. Slowly, so she won't vomit. She found the spoons
in a drawer, in a neat stack, old silver designs. The kitchen is
pretty, but sterile. Wood cabinets and blue walls, white trim. The
curtains are open and the sun filters in through the tree that
scratches against the window. There's an empty cat pan in the corner,
carefully aligned to the wall.

She turns on the TV long enough to determine that the house is in
Maryland. A man was robbed outside a convenience store in Annapolis
today. The assailant is described as a white male, six feet tall, 180

She thinks about calling the number on the business card, with the
scribbled extension that she knows by heart. She thinks about calling
her father. The phone has no dial tone.

There's soap and shampoo in a cabinet, flowery woman's things, old.
The water runs like wet fingertips trailing lightly down her back.
Collects in a dark grey puddle at her feet before it drains. Her skin
glows pink when she's done, and feels tender without the protection of
the built-up dirt and dried oil.

She walks around naked, looking for clothes. She's been wearing a
man's white t-shirt and a man's too-long brown slacks forever, and she
doesn't even remember putting them on. There are a few things hanging
in the bedroom closet. She puts on a long blue dress. It smells of
dust and another woman's skin. The carpet feels too intense to walk on
with her clean bare feet, but she can't find any shoes. Her hair dries
light, but rough and broken.

The food runs out. She looks everywhere, and finds forty-five cents
under the cushions of the couch. She falls asleep.

She's swimming deep down in the ocean, filtered green and turquoise
light, salt in her eyes. She's not breathing; she doesn't need air
anymore. Great kelp trees wave back and forth majestically,
translucent leaves, brushing against her, sliding around her waist.
The forest stretches out on every side until the water gets dark, and
the stalks reach down into the blackness. Just the water's deep voice
is in her ears, holding her under like a smooth svengali.

When she wakes up, she goes outside. The sun blinds her. She doesn't
know which way to go, so she just picks a direction and walks. Rows of
young trees and red flowers fading gently in the heat. Little shops
and art house theaters. She slowly negotiates the flowerbeds, because
the white sidewalk burns her feet. People see her and quickly look
away. Gleaming SUVs roll by.

She finds a pay phone. She puts in her money and is left with a dime.
While the line is ringing, she holds her dime very hard, forcing an
impression of the metal ridges into her palm.

He pulls up an hour later in a new black sedan with a jagged impact
crater in the driver's side door. Jeans and leather -- in his world,
the weather doesn't change. Even behind his dark glasses, she can tell
that he's squinting against the sun. People look at him as he's
getting out, and then quickly look away.

He sits down across from her at the sidewalk table and looks at her
hard. She sees his eyes only in her memory, fierce and pushing her,
testing her, demanding to know what right she has to be alive and in
front of him. The way he's looked at her so many times. He looks for
a minute, and then waves a waiter over and orders her a turkey
sandwich. For himself he only gets a Coke.

"Don't eat that too fast," he says, and it's the first thing he's said
to her in a year and a half.

She eats slowly. Watches him in her peripheral vision, hunched over
his drink. He rubs his cheek as if he wishes he'd shaved. She can't
find anywhere comfortable to look. Glances over at the car -- it's
leaking oil from its underbelly. Points of light are too bright on the

The turkey is dry, and she can't finish the sandwich. She pushes the
plate towards him slightly, but he shakes his head. He just drinks his
Coke pleasurelessly, like it's medicine. And it probably is.

"What do you want?"

She wants to sleep soundly in her own bed. She wants to be seventeen
years old again. She wants to say something that would make Alex cry.
She wants a glass of water. She wants to wake up. "Jeffrey Spender,"
she says.

He puts the glass down on the table and lets all his breath out,
crumpling a little. Exhausted, she now sees. The sun is starting to
drop, and the slanting light casts shadows across his face. "I don't
have that kind of access anymore."

She tries to hold her voice steady. "Then they do have him. Alive."

He cocks his head a little, like a puzzled dog. "Yeah. It was a
trade-off. They're happy with what they got. Why do you think you're
still walking around a free woman? Because they got something better
in exchange."

She shakes her head. "I don't care. I'm in his debt, and I'm going to
repay him."

He sips his drink again. "Do what you want. But you gotta realize
they won't let you get ahead. They'll take something back."

"I know." She plays with the potted plant on the table, turning a leaf
back and forth. Glossy and fuzzy on either side. "You're the only one
who can help me."

"What are you offering?"

Something grips at her throat, half-choking her words. "What am I
*offering*? I don't have anything *to* offer. I have *nothing*."

His eyes narrow. "You can't expect me to feel a debt to you. After
what I gave up." He leans in and whispers. "Without what I gave them,
do you think they would have been able to save you? Do you honestly
think, without that vaccine, you would have lived?"

"I *didn't* live." She buries her face in her hands. Draws a slow
breath. "What I'm asking," she whispers, "is for you to help me
deprive Jeffrey Spender's father of the pleasure of torturing his son."

He takes off the sunglasses, and his eyes are tenderly fierce, like a
mother wolf. "That's gonna be harder than you think."

He drives her back to the house. Not looking at her, steering in his
loose, fitful way that still makes her stomach clench -- she's never
forgotten that one time they were quiet on the highway for too long and
he decided to veer into oncoming traffic.

She's just so tired. Can't believe she's here again. "It seems," she
says tentatively, her voice still rough from disuse, "that everything
is approximately as it was."

"Yeah." So low it can't register an emotion, behind the dark glasses.
"I guess." He drives for a while, little one-handed jerks of the
wheel. "Rebels got the drop on 'em-- On everybody. They-- A lot of
them died. Burned, like Kazakhstan. Families too." He keeps checking
the rear view mirror, like a tic. "Lot of pieces cleared off the board

"But you're still not..." In control, she was going to say. You still
haven't won.

"Still crawling around down here." Trying to be sardonic, but the
chalky bitterness can't be concealed. "Got the drop on me too. It
was-- It was a chance--" He breaks off distractedly. "Check out this

It's a sleek blue minivan, closer than it appears, very like the one
that was behind them when they left the cafe. They all look alike.
"It's not the same one," she says.

He detours around the block anyway. The van doesn't follow.

Her window is completely open -- or there's no glass in it. She
reaches out and pulls the mirror towards her. Spends some numb seconds
looking at the red and black pooled at the bottoms of her eyes.

"Yeah," he says, not looking at her. "It's been a little fucked up
around here lately."

When they get inside, he takes off his jacket and hangs it up by the
door. His shirt has long sleeves, but when he turns she can see the
outlines of the straps across his chest, which seems even more intimate
somehow. They sit down on the sofa together. He places his left arm
carefully on the armrest, a delicate, tentative operation that she's
never seen him bother with before. Deeply disturbing, the stab at

"David Brighton," she says. "He's gone too." It's not a question.
She was aware of his quiet presence in the room sometimes, his
breathing. When he stopped coming, she knew it wasn't because he
decided to.

"Yeah ... but months ago. Went the way of... You know, couldn't keep
his mouth shut. Those cute little grandkids." He picks at the
unraveling upholstery on the cushion of the couch between them. "It's
so clear now, the way Spender drove him to it. Found ways to cut off
all the ... voices of reason." Suppressing a smile.

"You find that funny?"

Now his hand is on her arm, smoothing out the sleeve of the dress.
Warm and heavy. A human touch without pain. "Yeah, I do." Closes his
eyes and laughs a little, breathy, she feels it on her cheek. "I like
my chances..." Trails off and slides his arm around her shoulders.

She rolls over and curls up against him, natural and automatic, like a
touch-sensitive fern. He smells like leather, and like he hasn't
showered, and somehow like he hasn't slept. The one hand rubs her back
hard; fresh blood tingles into months-clenched muscles. Feels good,
but hurts. Bruises.

Her face is buried in his chest. The next step should be the outside
hand on her waist. After that should come kissing, lips and neck, the
normal progression. But steps can't be skipped over. The outside hand
is lying on the armrest of the couch. The outside hand is decomposing
in the ground, half a world away.

Vibration against her ear: "I have to go." She digs her nails in --
instinct. His weight shifts slightly; a very small reaction.

"I don't want to stay here tonight."

A clock is ticking. She only notices it now, though it must have been
there all along. She can hear the smirk in his voice: "You don't want
to be alone." He shrugs away from her and stands up slowly, careful to
maintain his balance. The evening has come on suddenly, colored lights
from the nearby parking lot.

He goes silently to the window and opens the blinds. There's a sleek
blue minivan parked outside the house. "You're never alone," he says.

But there's nowhere else to go. It becomes apparent that he isn't
living anywhere else, so now they live here, absurdly domestic.

"Meeting some people today," he mumbles to his bowl of cornflakes.
Strands of greasy black hair getting in his face, need to be cut.
"Could know something.

She's sitting across the kitchen table from him. New clothes are
scratchy against her skin; haven't even been washed once yet. Fresh
milk in a glass that numbs her fingers. "I could call someone," she
suggests half-heartedly.

"No phone," he reminds her. "Also, you're dead." A minute passes, he
chews. "Electricity, though. And water. You didn't pay the water
bill, did you?"

She didn't.

"Van's gone again today," he says.

He finishes eating and gets up, shrugs his jacket on.

"Careful," she says mindlessly.

"Careful," he says back. It was their mantra in the old days, their
superstition. He picks up the gun off the table.

He's gone all day, comes back when it's getting dark, lies down for an
hour, leaves for the night. Gone one day, two days, but he always
comes back. She sleeps. Wakes up and doesn't always know if it's
morning or afternoon. Showers. Water comes off clean now. Careful.
Careful. He brings things back for her, leaves them in their logical
places around the house without comment -- soap, toothbrush, shoes.
Strawberries. An understated peach bra -- the correct size. She
sleeps. Dreams. Doesn't dream. He gets in bed behind her and kisses
the back of her neck through her hair, or maybe just touches it.
Careful. Careful.

"Van's back today," he tells his coffee, stirring.

Sitting across the table from him. "You didn't sleep again."

His mouth twitches in a momentary smile. "At first, it's like living
two lives..." Abandons the sentence. "Gonna see a guy today."

"What day is it," she asks abruptly, a sudden savage curiosity.
"Today, what day is it."

He lets the spoon dangle from his fingertips while he thinks. It sways
back and forth, brown droplets on the table. "Wednesday."

The answer stuns her a little. Somehow, she didn't expect him to know.

He gets up. "Gonna see a guy," he mumbles.

She's sitting up in bed, reading the only book she could find in the
house, fallen behind one of the empty bookcases. Natural History of
the Canine Species. Reading through it for a third time and still not
paying attention, just following the shapes of the words, a familiar
activity to quiet her mind.

He walks in like a zombie, like he's not touching the ground. Keeps
trying to rub the dry grit out of his eyes -- tender grey flesh in the
hollows beneath. Sits down on the bed by her feet. "Things are
happening," he says. More breath than voice. "I'm not sure... He's
still holed up in Fort Marlene. Not keeping on top of things. If we
wait for something to distract him, something he can't ignore."

With no evident intent of finishing the thought, he crawls up and lies
back on the pillows beside her. Toes off his shoes, with an effort,
and nudges them to the floor.

She lets the book slip out of her hands, and edges closer to him, puts
her head on his shoulder, her hand on his arm. His breathing is
frighteningly shallow. "That place holds a special charm for him," she
says slowly. "He came there often. To talk."

Alex's voice is flat and sleep-blurred: "He talked to you?"

"No.... He just sat in the room, when the others weren't there, and
talked. Like you might talk to a person's gravestone. I'm sure he
didn't know I could hear him."

"What did he say?" he mumbles.

"Most of it didn't make sense, just ... soliloquizing, the way he does.
No context." She closes her eyes. The smoke would choke her, and
she'd want to cough. But her throat didn't belong to her. "Sometimes
he'd stay all night."

"Nothing to go home to."

It's quiet for a while. Alex feels heavy, but not quite asleep.

"He talks to me too," he murmurs into her hair. "All the time."

When she wakes up, it's light outside, and she's alone in the bed. The
car is pulling up outside. She goes out into the living room to meet
him, stiff from sleeping without lying down.

"You're up," Krycek says, like it's a mild, pleasant surprise. He's
more composed, a little less pale, and clean. He puts down two of the
plastic bags on the coffee table, and takes the third into the kitchen.

She goes through what he's brought. Clothes, inexpensive but tasteful.
Other things, from a drug store. Toothpaste. Aspirin. A hairbrush.
And twenty-seven rolls of white gauze.

She looks over at him sharply. He's putting a jar of peanut butter
into the cabinet. "Word is, something's going to happen soon," he
says. "An infiltration attempt in New Mexico. He'll have to send
people, and from what I'm told, there aren't that many people left. He
might even go himself." Contemptuous. "I still have a favor or two I
can call in. Believe it or not." Sounds of crinkling plastic. She
can hear the frown in his voice. "I don't know, it seems like-- It's
... strange, it seems too easy, like nobody really cares anymore ...
just going through the motions."

She sits and plays with the hairbrush, bending the bristles back and
forth, staring sightlessly ahead. When he comes back into the living
room, he stops in his tracks, weight all on one foot, and looks at her
uneasily. "We don't have to do it, you know," he says cautiously.
"Say you don't want to do it, and I'll walk out of here like there was
never a plan."

"I think--" She tests to see how hard she can push her thumb into the
bristles. "I think we do have to do it. Because otherwise..." Stops
just before she draws blood. Looks up at him. "...otherwise, what
would we do?"

He stares at her. Then laughs breathlessly, little spasms. Sits down
hard beside her. "Jesus Christ," he gasps. "Jesus Christ, Marita."
Puts his face in his hand.

She leans in and takes hold of his wrist, gently. Pulls his hand away.
He's looking at her, lips parted, breath still a little ragged. Smile
forgotten and fading on its own. Eyes wary. She kisses him.

They sleep late. Leave together. The van isn't there today. It's a
long way, but a short drive at eighty miles an hour. No glass in the
window, and the wind talks to her way down low, bellowing in her ears,
pulling and tangling her hair. And Krycek talks, going over turns in
corridors, numbers of doors on the right or left, what to say if they
meet someone they shouldn't. It's not because she needs to be told.

She's never seen the outside of the building before. Can't connect it
to the memory. As they cut across the grass, a mockingbird calls
piercingly from one of the trees, single sharp chirps like a car alarm.
There's a bench, and placed on it, a fresh green apple core.

When they get inside, when her eyes adjust, the world turns inside out
and it's like she only dreamed she left. The smell, the chill air,
that precise echo that a footfall makes in the hallway. She grabs hold
of Krycek's arm. Not sure which one.

"What day is it," she whispers.

He pulls away, takes her wrist and pulls her forward. "Shut up."

When she first sees him, he's lying strapped to the metal gurney,
bloody like a cut of raw meat, and she's sure they're too late. Just
left there naked in the bare room with a tube sticking out. Krycek is
already covering him with a white plastic sheet, moving with quiet
assurance, as if nothing is amiss.

But he's not looking at what he's doing, he's looking at her, sidelong.
"Don't just stand there," he says. She's not sure if he says it

They go back out the way they came, and emerge into the light, the
grass, the sky. The outside is not a dream. In the dust by the side
of the road, she vomits.

The house is dark.

"We should extubate him," Krycek says, moving to the other side of the
bed. "Could you--?"

She stiffens. "I don't know, I've never-- I don't know how."

"It doesn't matter. I'll--" He places his hands down calmly,
businesslike, and tilts the head back. He's holding the chin steady
with his human hand. The fingers sink a little bit into the red. He
nods. "Just pull."

There's no choice, so she does, and the plastic tube slithers out of
his throat. They wrap him up in the white rolls of bandages,
mummifying him. Leaving a hole for his mouth. And for his eyes,
though they're not open.

"Will he live?" She's standing in the bathroom doorway.

"I don't know." He's washing blood off the palm of his prosthetic
hand. "I wouldn't get too attached if I were you. He might not wake
up. And if he does, there might not be much of Jeffrey left in there.
But I was told he could make it."

"You were *told*? You just--?"

"What was the other option? He's here, he's breathing. If he stops --
no great loss." He shuts the water off.

Her hands are very cold. She has to sit down on the edge of the
bathtub. "How can you say that? After what you just risked to save

"I didn't save him; I stole him. He's a commodity."

Her voice feels thin and small. "He's alive."

Krycek's face in the mirror is looking down into the sink. "What kind
of life does he have to look forward to? The best he could hope for
would be to slink off and disappear. He'll never be able to show his
face in the light. Better for him if there isn't any of Jeffrey left.
It's very like you to want to save him, though." He turns and looks
down at her with savage coyote eyes. Soft, hoarse voice. "Isn't it?
It never occurred to you that he'd be better off, safer, if you let him
die. You stole him -- to keep him for yourself, to have him. Because
he's not whole, and you're revolted by that, but at the same time..."
He touches her cheek with his human hand, strokes it, and his eyes are
gleaming in the half-darkness. "At the same time. Attracted."

She grabs his wrist, clamping down on the pressure point with a
strength and precision she didn't know she still had. "You're insane,"
she realizes aloud.

His face doesn't admit to pain, but his hand is stiff. "I'm right," he

She stands up carefully. He's deep in her space, practically leaning
on her -- and the backs of her legs are right up against the cold
bathtub wall. She looks up to meet his eyes. Animal, hungry. To fuck
her, to kill her, to take her apart. Blood is pounding in her ears.
She knows he can feel her fear, but she doesn't let him have it.

She says simply, evenly: "Leave."

He answers softly: "Let me go." At her blank stare, he tugs sharply
at her grip on his wrist. "You're holding me," he reminds her. "Let

She releases him with a start, and her fingers ache from the suddenly
uncoiled strain.

"It's not that I feel bad for him," he says. "He stole everything from
me, and he--" He breaks off and laughs harshly, voicelessly. "And he
didn't even know it."

He turns and pads away silently. On his way to the door he picks up
his wallet off the table, then looks back at her and puts it down
again. He stops in the doorway, just a blurry shadow. "Careful," he
says, and closes the door behind him.

The silence presses down on her eardrums. She goes back into the
bedroom just to listen to Jeffrey breathe.

The eyes open. Clear and warm. Soft brown. They flick over to meet
her stare, and the pupils focus, responding.

He knows her.


September 2002