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The Best Lies, Part Four: The Best Lies


Contains explicit male/male sex.

Pairing: Mulder/Krycek

Summary: A DNA test sends Mulder on a quest to discover the truth about his sister, leading to a mysterious database and an old enemy. Follows “Anasazi.”

Disclaimer: The X-Files is copyright Fox TV, Chris Carter, and Ten-Thirteen Productions. No infringement is intended.


First there was Duane Barry
Who was abducted by aliens
Or maybe he wasn’t
Maybe he was a brain-damaged psychopath

But he abducted Scully
He tracked her with the implant
Or maybe he didn’t
Maybe they told him how to find her

He took her to Skyland Mountain
Where the aliens got her
Or maybe they didn’t
Maybe it was government black ops military secret corporation Purity Control

And then Duane Barry died
Of asphyxiation
Or maybe it wasn’t
Maybe they poisoned him (see possibilities above)

That’s my report and I’m sticking to it
Every word is the truth

And the truth is out there

duane barry

Mulder heaved a sigh of relief when he saw Krycek waiting at the rendezvous. He hadn’t been quite sure that Krycek would really show up. Although, perhaps he should have been more relieved if he hadn’t. He was insane to be doing this. But here they were, at four in the morning, on a side street in an Arlington neighborhood, getting ready to break into a highly secure, top-secret government installation with a completely untrustworthy rogue agent leading the way.

Krycek looked them both over as they approached. Along with his usual black leather jacket, he was wearing a black tee-shirt and black jeans. He looks like a poster boy for the SS, Mulder thought. Of course, he and Scully were also dressed in black—black sweat shirts and trousers—the usual uniform for surreptitious late-night explorations. Scully’s hair was tied back in a ponytail. They carried their high-powered flashlights, their guns, their lockpicks, a satchel for whatever they might recover, and nothing else. Their FBI ID’s would not help them here.

“Is everything all right?” Mulder asked quietly. Although they were several blocks away from their target, Mulder still felt the need to speak in whispers.

Krycek nodded. “There’s a security guard, and surveillance cameras. I’ve already taken care of the guard.” He held up a ring of keys, including the stubby, cylindrical key used to set a security box switch. “We’ll take the tape from the surveillance cameras when we leave. The computers and other records are in the basement.” He looked at his watch. “I have to be back there in less than ten minutes to check in at the security station. Then we’ll have seventy-three minutes to do what we came to do and get out of there.”

“You ‘took care of’ the guard?” Scully said, a slightly horrified tone in her voice.

Krycek grinned nastily. “He’s sleeping off a dose of phenobarbital I slipped into his coffee thermos. He’ll be fine. Sorry to disappoint you, Scully. I’m not a mindless killer.”

Scully pressed her lips together, and said nothing.

“All right,” Mulder interjected. “You said you’ve got less than ten minutes. We’d better get going.”

Krycek nodded, and they began to walk up the street.

the best lies

They entered the building through the front door, courtesy of the keys Krycek had stolen from the guard. The security station was just inside, on the far wall. Mulder and Scully checked around their surroundings while Krycek turned the key in the black box to reset the security timer. There wasn’t much to see. It was a perfectly ordinary reception area in a perfectly ordinary industrial office building. The walls were painted sterile white, saved from being glaring by the subdued night lighting.

“There are four other security stations, one on each floor,” Krycek told them. “I’ll show you where the files are, then I’ll go set them.” He grinned briefly. “I’ve been doing this since ten o’clock. I’ve got it down to less than fifteen minutes.” He led them around a corner and down the hall, past the elevators, to a service stairway. One flight down, they emerged from the stairwell to another undistinguished hallway, this time painted sickly hospital green. There was one unmarked door. It was secured by a card key lock.

Mulder looked at Krycek, who pulled a card key from his pocket with a smug smile, and handed it to Mulder with a flourish. “Go to it. I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.” Then he disappeared back up the stairs.

Mulder looked at Scully, and took a deep breath. What would be on the other side of that door? The answer to all their questions, or an empty room? Was Krycek right now calling the police, leaving them to explain an unconscious security guard and their presence in this building?

He slipped the card key into its slot. The tiny light over the slot glowed green, and he turned the door handle. He shone his flashlight inside.

Across the back wall, banks of computers. Full-size mainframes, not PCs. On one side, printers and terminals and tall metal cabinets. On the other side, rows of file cabinets and a photocopier. In the middle of the room were several round tables with three or four chairs around each. Mulder stepped into the room, a smile slowly spreading across his face. “This is it, Scully. This is really it.”

“Maybe.” Always the skeptic, Scully withheld judgment.

Mulder smiled at that, too. “Well, let’s find out.”

* * *

Scully went for the file cabinets. They were not locked; apparently, the room was considered secure enough that that was not necessary. Mulder took a chair and sat before one of the terminals. It was Unix, just like the smaller computer in the warehouse. He found the database file easily.

“Scully, this file—”

“Mulder, this is incredible—”

They spoke simultaneously. They both stopped, stared at each other, then laughed. Scully inclined her head, indicating that Mulder should go first.

“There were a thousand records in the database we found in that warehouse. This database has almost ten thousand records.” He swallowed uneasily. “Ten thousand….”

“Are they the same?”

Mulder turned back to the terminal decisively. “There’s no time. Let’s just get as much as we can and get out of here. We can stop to read it later.”

She nodded, and pulled out a stack of papers to take to the copier.

Mulder stopped, suddenly, and turned back to her. “Scully, what were you saying? What’s incredible?”

She held up the file jacket. “There’s a file on you that goes back to your work in Violent Crimes. There are records of all your cases. And records we don’t even have. Here are the reports on the sleep eradication experiments that were stolen from my office.”

He stood, went to look at the file she held, and nodded. “I’ll bet there’s a lot more than that. This is a gold mine, Scully. The Holy Grail.” Then he went over to one of the tall cabinets, and rummaged through it until he found a datacassette. “Just keep copying.”

They both went back to work, in silence. Mulder put the tape in a tape drive and began copying the database. Meanwhile, he continued to search the system. His heart was pounding. This was it. This was everything he’d ever wanted—needed—to know, and more. Here was a file on cloning experiments. He added that to the list to be copied. Here, the results of branch DNA recombination. He had to have that, too. He wanted it all, but he knew it wasn’t possible to copy everything in the time they had. Frantically, joyously he searched through the files, fingers flying over the keyboard, swearing under his breath when typos slowed him up, desperate to get as much as he could.

So intent was he that he started right out of his chair when the door latch clicked and Krycek appeared in the doorway. In his excitement at finding all this information, he’d completely forgotten about Krycek. He caught himself reaching for his gun, and stopped with his hand on the holster at his belt.

Flush with adrenaline, it took a few moments to register that Krycek was grey with fear, mouth working, unable to speak. Mulder stepped toward him.

“What is it?”

Krycek swallowed, and found his tongue. “We’d better get out of here.”

Scully, too, looked up from the photocopier and stared at Krycek. “Why? What happened?”

Krycek’s voice wobbled, drifting into a higher register as it did when he was panicked. “I went into the video room to check the surveillance tapes. I pulled one out of the deck to take a look at it. The… there’s a computer in there, I didn’t know, it must be connected to all the VCRs—when I took the tape out of the deck, it started a security program, requesting a password. I—I didn’t know it. It tripped an alarm. I don’t know how long we’ve got, but we’ve got to get out of here now. They could be here any minute.”

Scully had already started jamming papers into her satchel. “Come on, Mulder, get your tape and let’s get out of here.”

Mulder stared at the tape, and at the computer terminal recording the progress of the copying operation. Not finished. “No.” Scully stared at him. Krycek stared at him. He continued, more quietly. “It’s almost finished. Just another few minutes.”

“Mulder, we have to leave now.” Scully spoke with quiet urgency.

Krycek was less calm. “Mulder, forget the tape. If we get caught here… if I get caught here, I’m dead. I didn’t start this to get killed for you.”

Mulder watched the terminal, counting off the bytes as they transferred to the tape. I want it all. We’ll never have another chance like this. “Just a few minutes,” he repeated. “Krycek, did you get the surveillance tapes?”

“Yes. There’s a bulk eraser. I wiped them all.”

“Do we need the keys to get out?”

Krycek blinked. His fists opened and closed. “Yes. The front door is double-locked.”

“Block it open, then. And get out of here. You’re in more danger than we are.”


“Go, Krycek. You too, Scully. I’ll come as soon as this tape finishes. I’ll meet you at the car.”

“Mulder!” This time it was Scully. “I’m not leaving you here.”

Krycek stared. “All right. I’ll block the door open. Good luck.” Then he turned and ran up the stairs.

“Mulder, come on. We have enough, let’s go.” Scully slung the satchel over her shoulder and walked over to the door.

“It will be done in a minute.”

Gunshots. Two of them, from the floor above.

“Shit.” Mulder yanked the tape from the drive, nodded once to Scully, and they both ran for the stairs.

They paused at the top of the stairs, guns ready, and opened the door to the hallway slowly. Mulder nodded for Scully to go right, towards the main door, then burst through to the left, gun stretched out before him.

Two men knelt at the end of the hallway, bent over a third—Krycek, lying in a crumpled heap against the wall, blood pooling on the floor in front of him. Mulder could not entirely define the emotions that rushed through him at the sight of Krycek bleeding on the floor. Horror. Sorrow. Aching sweetness and tarnished innocence, now irrevocably lost. Guilt, as always. And—was that relief? He’ll never show up at my door at two in the morning again. Bitter satisfaction? This is the path you chose.

The moment ended in a split second. One of the men turned and stood. His gun came up, as his free hand touched the shoulder of his companion, still kneeling in front of Krycek. “He won’t make it,” said the kneeling man. Then he turned and saw Mulder, and slowly rose.

Mulder was aware of Scully at his side, gun stretched out beside his, pointing at the men at the end of the hall. Two against two, neither had the clear advantage. Mulder and Scully were closer to the front door, but it was still locked—Krycek hadn’t had a chance to get to it.

“Just put your guns down and hand over that satchel,” one of the men said. “No one else has to get hurt.”

Give up the data? No, Mulder had no intention of doing that. He’d been waiting too long, gone through too much. But how was he going to get out the front door?

Scully’s elbow touched his side. He didn’t take his eyes off the men holding guns on them, but he softly said, “Mmm?”

“Give me a diversion,” she said, very quietly.

He had no idea what she intended to do, but he promptly gave her the only diversion he could. He loosened his grip on his gun, and lifted his hands. “All right. But call an ambulance for him.”

“What are you worried about him for? He’s a traitor. To you, and to us. Forget him.”

“Call an ambulance. Now. You don’t get anything from us until you do.”

The man grimaced at him, then gestured to his companion. The other man lowered his gun and reached into his jacket pocket for a cellular phone. Beside him, Scully also lowered her gun.

“Put your guns on the floor and kick them over here,” the man ordered. His own gun had never wavered.

“Not until he finishes his phone call,” Mulder said, still holding his gun out loosely. The man with the phone punched the dialpad three times, and spoke briefly. Scully started to bend down to place her gun on the floor—then, suddenly, she cried out and crumpled to the floor.

“Scully!” Mulder turned to help her. Saw her settle into a steady crouch. Saw her left hand swipe out and snatch a heavy ring of keys from the floor. Krycek must have dropped them here when he knew that he was trapped—a last-ditch attempt to give them a chance to escape.

“No!” he screamed. “What have you done to her?” Then he whirled, firing off a shot in the general direction of the man with the gun, grabbed a handful of Scully’s sweatshirt, and took off down the hallway toward the front door.

The two men were caught by surprise; their answering fire didn’t come until Mulder and Scully were nearly at the end of the hall. The FBI agents flew around the corner, gunfire ringing in their ears. Mulder shoved Scully towards the door, then positioned himself to fire an occasional shot down the hallway, pinning their adversaries down just beyond another turn in the hallway.

“All right, I’ve got it!” Scully called out. Mulder fired one last round, then ran for the door.

Once outside, they took off for the small maze of buildings that made up the rest of the complex. They were relatively safe here, they’d managed to get to cover before the men could get out where they could spot them, but they didn’t relax their vigilance or stop running until they’d reached their car and were safely headed back to Washington.

“We did it, Scully!” Mulder exulted. “We got the bastards. I only wish we’d had more time.”

“Yes.” Scully stared out the window.

“Scully? What is it?”

“We didn’t exactly get away clean.”

Krycek. He’d be dead soon, if he wasn’t already. Even if his wounds weren’t fatal, the Smoking Man would not let him survive this. “There was nothing we could have done for him.”

“I know.” She continued to stare blankly. “It looks like he was telling the truth.”

“Yes. I guess he was.” It was a concept that Mulder didn’t like to think about. Krycek told the truth. It forced one to wonder what else he might have been telling the truth about. “He knew what he was doing. We didn’t force him to do anything.” Young and naive. A step taken in error. And once that step had been taken, how many choices did he really have?

“I know. I’m just not ready to celebrate victory yet, that’s all.”

Mulder stared at the road ahead, and frowned. He didn’t want Krycek to spoil this moment for him. Krycek had made his own decisions. And paid for his own mistakes. Was Mulder going to have to feel sorry about him now? Was Krycek going to haunt him, just as he’d threatened to do?

Forget Krycek—Mulder had the answers now. He had the evidence. The truth. That was what mattered. Add one more ghost to the ghosts that already haunted him—that was the price he had to pay.

* * *

It was late, and they were both tired. But Mulder could not rest until he found out one thing—were the records in this database the same as the database from the warehouse? Was Scully Samantha? If she was, she was—they would find a way to deal with it. But he wanted to know.

He drove to the J. Edgar Hoover Building. Scully had protested briefly—it was late, and she just wanted to go home. They’d be back at work in a few hours, anyway. They’d waited this long, couldn’t they wait just a little longer? Mulder’s answer to each argument had been the same. I want to know now. Scully sighed and acquiesced. She didn’t have much choice.

* * *

With trembling fingers, Mulder typed in the search command. With ten thousand records to search, the process took fractionally longer than it had for the smaller database. Those microseconds seemed an eternity to Mulder. Then the response:

1560*: Not found.

Mulder felt a little dizzy. “Scully, that was Samantha’s record. It’s not there.” He typed in another command. This time, the response was almost immediate.

Subj. 1560. Mulder, Samantha. 1965. High IQ, psi. Unmarried. Samples taken, 1994. Note: Do Not Kill order registered, 1993. To be crossed with 1559. Removed from home 1973.

“That was supposed to have been your record, in the other database. It’s really Samantha’s. It doesn’t say….” Mulder swallowed, his eyes stinging. “It doesn’t say where they took her. Or what they did with her.” Hurriedly, he typed another command. “It must be in here somewhere.”

“Mulder.” Scully laid a hand on his shoulder. “We found what we came for. I’m not Samantha. Let’s go home now.”

Mulder ignored her, continued to type frenzied commands.

“It will take days to go through all of this. Let it go for now.”

Still no response. She leaned over him and switched off the terminal. He glared at her.

“Mulder, we have just enough time to go home and change and come back to work. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to still be here in my dirty sweatshirt when Skinner comes in.”

He swallowed, and rubbed his face with one hand. “You’re right. We need to go home and get cleaned up.” Reluctantly, he pulled the tape from the drive. “I don’t want to leave this here. It won’t be safe at either of our places, either.” He turned the tape over in his hands. “I’ll take it somewhere safe. Give me the satchel.”

She handed him the satchel of papers, and he tucked the tape into it. “All right, Scully. It’s been a long night. But we found out what we needed to know. You might be my sister, but you’re not Samantha.”

She nodded. “I suppose….” She paused, sighing. “I suppose we’d better settle that once and for all, too. Call Langly and tell him to get ready to take another sample.”

Mulder agreed. It was time to end it.

* * *

It was several hours later when he finally returned home. After dropping Scully off, he’d gone to find a safe place to leave the satchel. It was not easy to decide on a location that satisfied his paranoia. Finally, he’d just left it in a locker at the Greyhound station. That would only be good for twenty-four hours, but it would give him time to think of a better solution. He was just too tired now to think, too drained.

He trudged up the front steps of his apartment building wearily. This should be his day of triumph. He had an entire satchel full of evidence against his enemies, he had proof that the database in the warehouse had been a setup, that Scully was truly just Scully. He might be able to find out more about what had happened to Samantha. He was just tired, that was all. That was why the image of Krycek lying in a pool of blood kept intruding on his thoughts. It wasn’t his fault. Maybe he’d just call in sick, stay home and try to get some sleep.

The moment he opened the door to his apartment, the smell of cigarette smoke hit him. He froze, pulled out his gun, entered cautiously. There was only one person it could be, and he wasn’t here to kill Mulder, he was here to retrieve his files. Nevertheless, Mulder kept his gun on the figure sitting in the easy chair, smoke rising in lazy tendrils around him, forming a haze in the early morning light of Mulder’s apartment.

Mulder stood before the Smoking Man. “I know what you want. You can’t have it.”

The man leaned forward to stub out the barely-smoked cigarette in an ashtray on Mulder’s coffee table. He’d gotten it from the back of Mulder’s kitchen cupboard, apparently—Mulder kept it for his father. Had kept it. It was already full of partially-smoked Morleys. The man spoke calmly, as always. “Please sit down, Mr. Mulder. We have some business to discuss.”

“What business? You want the files back. I’m not going to give them to you. You might as well just go home now.”

“I don’t expect you to give them to me. But I thought perhaps we might be able to make a trade.”

“A trade?” Mulder sat heavily on the couch, gun cradled in his lap. “What could you possibly have that I’d trade for?”

“Perhaps nothing. Perhaps a human life no longer means more to you than exposing what you call the truth.”

“What are you talking about?” Mulder’s tired mind refused to settle around the man’s smooth, almost soothing words. As elusive as the drifting smoke from the cigarette always in his hand.

The man withdrew another Morley from his pack, lit it with a silver cigarette lighter. “I’m proposing to trade the information you stole from us for Mr. Krycek’s life.”


“He’s alive?”

“Yes, he’s alive. He was shot in the temple, a glancing wound. He lost a lot of blood, but the bullet did no permanent damage. It seems you saved his life, Mr. Mulder, when you insisted that an ambulance be called right away.”

“They did get him an ambulance, then.”

“The paramedics found him unconscious on the sidewalk. He’s in the hospital now, being treated for blood loss and shock. My men are keeping an eye on him. He should recover, but these things are always uncertain. He might still expire from his injuries.”

“If I don’t give you back the files, you mean.” No. No, he could not give up the evidence after fighting so long, so hard to get it. And he especially could not give it up for Alex Goddamned Krycek!

“In that case, yes, I’m afraid his prognosis is not good.”

“What makes you think I’d do anything to save Krycek?” I’ve been this close to killing him myself. He betrayed me, he betrayed you, he’s got no integrity at all. Why should I lift a finger to keep him alive?

“Perhaps you wouldn’t. The result would be unfortunate for us both. And particularly unfortunate for Mr. Krycek. But since he was the one who led you to my private files, I thought you might feel some responsibility for him. He’s of no further use to me.”

It was true, Krycek had broken into that building for Mulder, knowing his life would be forfeit if he was caught. And left the keys in the hall for Mulder and Scully, giving up his own slim chance of escape. Hadn’t he finally redeemed himself for the wrong he’d done? “Then he walks away free. You promise never to touch him again.” God, was he really going to do this? His throat constricted horribly. To have everything for a few short hours, just to have it taken away again—it was almost more than he could bear.

“Of course. And you return everything, without making copies of any of it, and promise never to try to use any of it again.”

“Unless I happen to come across it again, some other way.”

“Unless Mr. Krycek interferes with us again.”

Mulder sat there, jaw clenched against the words of agreement that burned in his throat. It would be so easy to just say no. Leave Krycek to his fate, keep the data he needed so desperately. He was not responsible for Krycek’s mistakes. He hadn’t shot him. Krycek had chosen to be a player, and these were the rules of the game he played.

And what about the game Mulder played? The search for the truth—had he now reached the point where he was willing to kill for it? Not in self defense, not to protect Scully, not even in revenge for damage done, but just to hold onto a satchel of paper and computer files? Was it worth a life, anyone’s life, to hold the hard truth in his hands? If it was, then Mulder was just a younger version of the Smoking Man himself, on his way down the same path. Just another self-righteous crusader, willing to crush anyone who got in the way of his cause.

Mulder sighed. He’d lost again. “All right. Where and when?”

The man took one more drag on his cigarette, then again leaned forward to inter it with the others in the ashtray. “Tonight. I’ll notify you of the exact time and place.” He stood, and walked out, leaving a tiny plume of smoke rising from the last cigarette butt in the ashtray.

Mulder sat and stared at it until the smoke dissipated into the hazy air.

* * *

“Scully, we have to give the data back.” Mulder had finally shown up for work late, tired, unshaven, and angry.

“What? What happened?” Scully looked up from her terminal, her oval computer glasses hiding the dark circles from her own mostly sleepless night.

“He was at my place when I got there this morning. The Cancer Man.” He stopped, balling his fists, teeth clenched, overwhelmed by his fury. He had to take several deep breaths before he could continue. “Krycek’s alive. He stays that way only if I give back the data.”

Mulder walked over to his desk, kicking the file cabinet along the way, and threw himself into his chair. He leaned his elbows on the desk, put his face in his hands. “Damn it, Scully! I don’t know what to do. Is that little shit really worth giving up everything we found last night?”

“Mulder, are you serious?”

He looked up, and met her calm blue eyes. Found her frowning at him. “What do you mean?” Was she angry with him for making the trade?

She shook her head, exasperated. “I mean, of course he’s worth it! He’s a human being, Mulder, despite anything he’s done. You don’t kill people to get what you want.”

He felt a little foolish. “Sorry, Scully. I know you’re right. It’s just… it’s Krycek, for god’s sake, and… I wanted this so badly.”

“I know,” she said softly. “But you’re doing the right thing.”

Somehow, it made it easier, hearing her say that.

* * *

The address specified by the Smoking Man was that of the warehouse where Mulder had first found the database—his little joke, Mulder thought, as well as a relatively deserted area for the exchange. The time was midnight. Mulder had spent most of the day poring over the reports, memorizing as much as he could. Some of the most damning papers he copied, planning to hide them away, in case something might happen someday that would allow him to use them. He also copied the datatape. He would not give that up; he needed it for his own peace of mind. He could have used days, weeks to go over all the information —it was horribly frustrating to have just these few hours. But finally the time had arrived, and he stuffed everything back into the satchel, and headed for the meeting place.

He pulled up behind a battered van—the same limping van he’d spotted in front of the warehouse when he’d found Krycek there. Very good cover for a neighborhood like this. It looked like it had been abandoned there for weeks. The side door of the van opened as Mulder got out of his own car. A man stepped out of the van, then helped another man to emerge. Krycek.

He would be calm. He would not rage in frustration. He would hand over the bag, get Krycek, and get out of there. He repeated the self-instructions under his breath as he walked up to the van.

Even in the dim street lights, Krycek was horribly pale. There was a thick bandage taped to his right temple. He wobbled slightly as he stood there. The other man held him steady at arm’s length.

“Have you got it?” the other man asked.

Mulder spared him a glance. “Here.” He held out the satchel. Uncontrollably, his hand shook as the other man took it from him. He clenched his jaw sharply.

“Are you all right?” he asked Krycek, through gritted teeth.

Krycek nodded.

“All right. Let’s go.” He took Krycek’s arm and began to walk back to his car. He was walking faster than Krycek could comfortably follow, and he knew it. It was all he could do not to hit Krycek in the face. I gave it all up for you! You don’t deserve it.

“Mulder, I….”

He whirled on Krycek, grabbed a fistful of Krycek’s shirt. “Shut up!”

Krycek cringed. His knees nearly gave way. Mulder had to hold him up.

Mulder bit the inside of his cheek, and forced his fist to unclench. “Just shut up, Krycek. I saved your worthless life, I don’t have to be happy about it, and I don’t have to listen to you. So just shut up.”

Krycek swallowed, nodded slightly. Mulder hauled him roughly to the car, practically threw him into the front seat. As he walked around the car to the driver’s side, he berated himself. Real nice, Mulder. The guy’s got a gunshot wound in the head, he nearly died this morning, and you’re pushing him around like a schoolyard bully. He got in the car, and sat for a moment gripping the steering wheel before he started the car and drove away. Krycek remained huddled against the other side of the car, saying nothing.

They drove a while in grim silence. Mulder tried to calm down. It’s the Cancer Man you’re really mad at, not Krycek. He’s the one who forced you to give back the data. Krycek’s the one who got it for you in the first place. But the anger churned inside him. He couldn’t bring himself to even look at the man shrinking away from him on the other side of the car.

Until he realized that he was headed home, and taking Krycek with him. Which he did not want to do. Especially not considering what had happened every other time Krycek had come to his apartment. “Where do you want me to take you?” He tried to keep the frustration out of his voice. It came out a dull monotone.

“I… home, I guess.” Krycek pulled himself up in his seat.

“You should probably go to a hospital.”

“No, I’m all right. I just want to go home.”

“Where’s home?”

Krycek hesitated for a moment, then choked out a rueful laugh, and named an address—not fifteen blocks from Mulder’s apartment.

“I don’t believe it. We’re practically neighbors.” He jogged within three blocks of Krycek’s apartment every morning.

“They wanted me to be… close….” Krycek’s voice trailed off. “Mulder, I… I’m sorry you had to do this.”

“Forget it. Not your fault.” He tried to make himself believe it.

“Mulder….” Krycek shifted in his seat, emitting small noises of pain. His voice was ragged, and dropped to that nearly inaudible tone. “I’m sorry… about everything.”

Excuses, justifications, rationalizations— Krycek had them all, but never once had he said he was sorry for anything he’d done. Too little, too late, Mulder thought. Far too much had happened for a simple apology to mean anything. Still, something unknotted inside him. Something that had wanted Krycek, just once, to acknowledge the pain he’d caused. Something that, maybe, was looking for an excuse to give up his hate.

“It’s all right,” he said softly. And, to his own disbelief, it was all right.

Krycek sighed heavily, and rubbed the corners of his eyes. “I’m tired.”

“You’ll be home soon.”

“Yeah.” Then he settled back in his seat, and fell asleep.

* * *

When they reached Krycek’s building, Mulder helped him from the car and held his arm as they walked up the front steps of his building. He watched as Krycek fumbled in his jeans pocket for his keys, then dropped them on the landing. Krycek started to bend down to get them, stopped with a gurgling cry of pain and a hand pressed to his head. Mulder put his hand on Krycek’s arm to stop him from trying again, then reached down himself to pick them up.

“I should have taken you to a hospital.” Mulder handed him the keys.

“I’m all right, Mulder.” Krycek spoke wearily. His hands trembled as he fumbled with the keys.

When he’d found the front door key, Mulder took the keyring from him and unlocked the door. “No you’re not. I’ll walk you up. Which apartment?”

Krycek’s apartment was small studio on the fifth floor, with a sleeping alcove. There was a sofa that looked like it came from a thrift store; a cheap computer desk with a PC on it; some mismatched shelving holding a stereo that looked to have cost more than all the rest of the furnishings combined; and a television sitting in the floor across from the sofa. There was a double bed in the sleeping alcove—unmade—and a wardrobe with one door missing.

Krycek shrugged out of his jacket, letting it fall to the floor, and stumbled into the sleeping alcove. Mulder switched on the desk lamp and followed. Krycek was sitting on the bed, wincing, as he tried to get his tee-shirt off. Mulder sat beside him, helped to pull the tee-shirt over his head. He inspected the bandage on Krycek’s temple. It seemed all right, as far as he could tell.

“I should have Scully come and take a look at you.”

“Christ, Mulder. Why didn’t you just invite her over to watch us having sex?” Krycek snapped.

Mulder just stared. Under Mulder’s steady gaze, Krycek’s glare slowly faded. He swallowed and dropped his eyes. “Sorry. I’m just tired.”

“It’s all right.” Well, had he thought that Krycek’s attraction would disappear because he’d forgiven him? And here he sat on Krycek’s bed, helping him to undress. “Krycek….”

“We’re not going to have sex any more, are we?”


Krycek forced a weak smile. “Might be nice, just once, to see what it’s like when we don’t hate each other.”

Mulder smiled back. “Don’t push your luck.”

Krycek’s smile faded. He worked clumsily at the buttons of his jeans. “Will you help me get my pants off, anyway? I couldn’t put any moves on you right now if I tried, so you’ll be safe.”

Krycek was pasty-faced and sweating. He looked like he was about to cry. Mulder touched his arm briefly, then slid down into the floor, and began untying Krycek’s shoes. “I want you to go see a doctor tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Krycek agreed tiredly.

Mulder finished removing Krycek’s shoes, then urged him onto his back, lifting his legs up onto the bed, and began unbuttoning his jeans. “Do you want your shorts off, too?”


Mulder began to work Krycek’s pants down over his hips. Krycek was hard. A glance at his face showed him staring resolutely at the wall, biting his lip. One hand lay on his stomach; the other rested protectively on the bandage. His body was covered with a sheen of sweat. Mulder paused, and cast about for something to say to relieve the tension. “So. What do you think you’ll do now?”

Krycek cleared his throat. His voice broke only slightly as he spoke. “I don’t know. I don’t suppose… I could get back in the FBI.”

Krycek back in the FBI? What a frightening thought. Give him his due, though, he’d been a good agent. And—keep your friends close, and your enemies closer…. Mulder didn’t know which Krycek was any more, but in any case, it wouldn’t hurt to have the man around where he could keep an eye on him. “The only report against you is mine, and there’s no proof of anything. If I withdrew my report—there’d only be the matter of your sudden disappearance to explain. I suppose it could be done.”

“Would you do that, Mulder? Withdraw your report?”

Mulder finished pulling Krycek’s pants off. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, he told himself. “I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.” He pulled the covers up over him. “Where’s your phone?”

Krycek was already half asleep. “I don’t know. On the desk, I guess.”

Mulder went to find the phone, which turned out to be on the floor in front of the sofa. He brought the cellular back to the sleeping alcove and set it on the nightstand. “Alex, here’s your phone.” Krycek’s eyes kept drifting closed. “Call me if you need anything. Make sure you see a doctor.”

Krycek managed a nod. “Mulder, thank you. For… you know.”

Mulder heaved a deep sigh. “It’s all right. Go to sleep now.” You’re still going to haunt me, aren’t you? Well, better a live ghost than a dead one. He sighed again, then turned to go home.

* * *

The phone call Mulder had been expecting came at two in the afternoon. He and Scully were just getting back from lunch. He pulled the cellular from his pocket and hurriedly punched the button. “Langly?”

“Yeah, Mulder.”

“So, what’s the word?” Mulder tried to sound calm. Scully froze in the doorway. Mulder remembered the way she had stood, grimacing slightly, while Langly slid the needle into her arm. Then she’d laughed sheepishly at the professional ease with which he drew her blood. When asked how he’d learned to do it, Langly had replied, I don’t let anyone stick needles into me. I always do it myself. It was not necessarily a reassuring answer.

Langly said, “Mulder, I don’t know whose blood that was on that handkerchief, but it wasn’t Scully’s. Her profile is entirely different. And she’s not your sister.”

Mulder grinned, and gave Scully a thumbs up. She nodded, sagging against the doorjamb in relief.

“Thanks, Langly. You have just won a free one-year subscription to Adult Video News.”

“Which issue is the one with your picture in it, Mulder?”

* * *

Mulder put the DNA profiles he’d gotten from Langly and the datacassette from Krycek into the file box with the copies he’d kept from the Smoking Man’s private files. It would all go someplace safe, until he might need it again. For now, the case was closed. Scully was not Samantha; she was not his sister. Krycek was no longer his enemy. He had information he wanted but could not use. Some losses, some gains. And the search for the truth went on. It was an increasingly tricky and dangerous maze to negotiate. The closer he got to the center, the better the lies. And the best lies were closest to the truth….

Scully’s name was not in the alien breeding program database. But Samantha’s was.

And so was his.

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