Title: Lexicon (snippet)
By: Jessica Harris
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: You know the drill. They are not mine.
Summary: Sk/K. This may be a little abstract for slash - Krycek thinks about naming and wanting things.

Notes: Don't expect too much from this one. It was a quickie, and could very possibly have used more editing, but I've been home sick for a couple of days now and I'm bored out of my head and am hoping that if I post it now you will feed me, which would help keep me entertained and out of my house-mates' hair, thereby saving them from my foul contagion. Oh, and "moj drug" means "my friend" in russian, according to my friend James.

Feedback: Save my house-mates! lumpj@hotmail.com

By: Jessica Harris

"Good morning, Mr. Skinner," says Mrs. MacPherson, Walter's next-door neighbour, as she joins us in the elevator. "I hope you're enjoying this indian summer." She smiles at him. Me she ignores, as usual. I think she's convinced that I have corrupted him, taken advantage of some sort of mid-life crisis, and that if she ignores me long enough I'll go away.

"Yes, the weather's been beautiful," says Walter. "Alex and I drove out to the state park yesterday to enjoy it." She smiles briefly and continues to ignore me. Walter smiles over at me, a smile that holds apology and ruefulness and a little wry amusement. As the doors open and we walk out into the lobby, he puts his arm across my shoulders. I know what he's telling me - that she and all the people like her don't matter, that loves me. I still find it strange to be able to read him like this, to know what he's saying without any words at all.

My English is unaccented, even if you listen closely, and I speak it as well as any native speaker. But English wasn't my first language. Russian was, and it was in Russian that I made that first great leap, the realisation that *this* sound meant *that* thing, that everything has a name, and once you learn the name of what you want, there are ways to ask for it, ways other than those raw furious screams that are everyone's first pre-language. And that's a pretty momentous thing, when you think about it, even if you are so young when it happens that you never remember.

But my first language was taken from me. English had to be learned, and then we came here, and once we arrived Russian couldn't be spoken, not in public, not even at home. It was important for us to look like an all-American family now, and Russian was forgotten. No, not just forgotten. Forbidden. But still, somewhere inside, the Russian words for things still felt like their *real* names.

Then I got older, and there's another language you start to learn then, another kind of naming and wanting. And it didn't take me long to figure out that the language I was expected to speak was once more a foreign one to me. The kind of naming and wanting that was going on inside of me was in another tongue entirely, and that this one was just as forbidden as my lost Russian.

I don't know if you can understand how lonely that is, and how shaming. My best friend would casually throw an arm across my shoulders, and I'd ruffle his hair, but his touch said something to me that he never intended, and when I touched him back I was saying "yes" to something he would never have asked of me. I can still remember how that felt, my fear and excitement and then the terrible shame I felt at the secret pleasure I took from his touches.

At the end of one long hot agonizing adolescent summer I worked up enough courage to slur drunkenly in his ear "I love you."

"I love you too, man," he said, and then, "we'll always be best friends." And then "Hey, there's Jane from down the street - don't you think she's hot?"

And that brought it home to me, that even when we *said* the same things, we *meant* entirely different ones. And I hated myself for that, and hated him too, for not being able to understand.

I knew, of course, that there were people who spoke the same language, just as I'd stumble on conversations in Russian on the street, conversations I could never acknowledge that I understood. But I'd learned 'forbidden' well, and those early lessons are hard to forget. When I sensed that shared language in someone there was all that shame and hatred still attached, hatred for myself and for them too, for recognising my difference in me. So I shut my ears and pretended I didn't hear it.

And if you neglect any language long enough you start to lose it. When I had to resurrect my Russian for my work, I was shocked at how much I'd forgotten, at how foreign it felt on my tongue. And I think that started to happen with this other language as well. I had turned away from it, refused to name my want for so long that it had grown nearly invisible, hidden itself inside a host of other wants, the way I craved the burn of vodka down my throat, the way it satisfied something in me to take a blow to the belly or the face. And I named this no-longer-wanting, told myself I had grown out of it, grown up. I refused to listen at all.

Then there was him. That deep voice, those dark eyes, that rock-solid body, and the sudden pain in my solar plexus that was want waking and claiming its name again. And with it all that shame and pain and hatred that made me want to crawl right out of my skin. I feel sick and ashamed all over again when I think of the things I did to him with that pain and hatred inside me - that time in the stairwell, the nanocytes...

I would never have guessed that he spoke this language too, not even that terrible night on his balcony when I should have recognised the heat in the anger that radiated off him. But it was still him I chose to come to when I decided to try and get out. I showed up on his doorstep with a big fucking *crate* of evidence, and smirked and said "I think this makes us even."

When he dragged me inside I think I actually hoped he'd kill me. At least he'd do it quickly, and I was so tired by then, more tired than I thought it was possible to be. But he didn't kill me, and over the next weeks he kept me there, made me go through all that evidence with him and tell him what I knew. And I ended up telling him a lot more than I meant to, until one day he put a big warm hand on the back of my neck and said "You've been through a lot, haven't you, moj drug?" And on hearing him call me 'friend' in Russian I started to bawl like a baby, and he gave a frustrated sigh and before I could move away he lifted my chin and kissed me.

I don't think I've ever been more astonished in my life. Eventually he pulled away and said 'Don't tell me you didn't know." When I shook my head mutely he laughed, and said "I'd tried everything I knew short of hiring a skywriter, which I didn't think was advisable, given the circumstances. Aren't spies supposed to be able to figure this kind of thing out?" I just shook my head again, and pulled him back to me.

And this is a language of a kind I've never had to learn before, the language we speak just between us. Looks and touches and all the things that most people take for granted. I think I've learned it pretty well, all things considered. I wouldn't call it easy, exactly - sometimes I can't move past all the years of hatred inside me, and I've said some terrible things to him. But somehow he seems to understand. Have I mentioned that his middle name is Sergei? Russian isn't his first language, but he still knows bits and pieces of it.

Now as we leave the elevator and he touches me I touch him back, put an arm around his waist and lean my head for a second on his shoulder.

"I love you," I say.

"Love you too," He says. And I know I don't have to look for secret meanings in this. He means just that.