Playing In the Attic
Author - Araxdelan
Rating - M/K- PG13 for Adult Situations
Disclaimers - The X-Files belong to Fox, 1013, and Chris Carter, the tool of the shippers. I love you Scully my ass :) !
Summary - Mulder's past never fails to surprise him.
Spoilers - Uh... let's just say every mythology episode. There's no way I'm going to catalogue them all. Takes place sometime after Fight the Future.
Archive - Anywhere, just don't change it.
Feedback - firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks to- Strausser and Russianrat for story advice and slashy conversation. Also, I'd like to thank my cat Zeus, because it's always nice to have a cat in you lap when you're writing something sentimental.
It was the last thing I expected to find...
I was in the attic of my mother's house, looking through old pictures. My discovery of Kurtzweil's picture in my photo album at home fueled my curiosity. I wanted to know who else had been a part of my life when I was young.
I climbed the narrow stairs, and swung open the attic door. My mother couldn't make it up those stairs anymore, so no one had been in there in years. The air was thick with dust, and I coughed my way through piles of boxes and old furniture.
I checked the handwritten labels for a box marked "photographs". I quickly turned away from a box that said "Sam's Clothes" and found it before me. I ripped the peeling tape off, debating whether or not I should take the box downstairs. The attic was dusty, but it was quiet, and the sun streaming through the small windows warmed the floor in front of me. I opened that window, letting the cool breeze in, and settled in the warm sunny spot like a cat. I decided that this was the right environment for this situation, with the motes dancing around me and the scent of the past filling my nostrils before it was blown away by the fall wind and replaced with the spicy scent of falling leaves.
After I had made myself comfortable, I reached into the box for a handful of photographs. I went through them, one by one. The first few were bland photos of family gatherings, people smiling unconvincingly, wondering when they could go home. Then I came upon a picture with Cancer Man in it. I had a feeling that I'd be finding a lot of these, and I started a separate pile next to me for these photos.
And so it went. My mother had hastily packed hundreds of photos, dumping them in this box, probably on a day when she grew sick of the memories. The pile of photos containing Consortium members grew quite large. I soon became frustrated at myself for failing to remember these men's names, though it probably would have made little difference. I was especially angry at myself for not remembering Cancer Man's real name, for he seemed to spend the most time with our family of them all.
To me they had just been grown-ups. Friends of my father who would most likely ignore me. My big concern had been making sure they didn't spoil my fun. How was I to know that years later I would be encased in a world altering battle with them? How was I to even know that I'd be anything more than an ice cream man, my life's dream as a young boy? These thoughts kept knocking around in my head until somewhere halfway through the box, where I found something I never expected to see.
I had pawed my way through a great deal of photos when I came upon one of me and a young boy. I reached back deep in my mind and pulled out a scattering of memories. I placed him in my life from the time we were eight until the time we were fifteen. He was a son of one of my fathers friends from work. Another Consortium brat, I thought, smiling.
But that little joke stirred up some uneasiness I already felt within me. I could have sworn that face looked familiar in another context. I studied the picture carefully, the boy, perhaps ten at the time, had a familiar nubby nose, a big smile I had seen someplace else, and long, dark eyelashes.
When the answer finally hit me, I was sure I was wrong. I had been looking for Consortium faces in pictures for too long, I thought. I'm seeing them everywhere! But I knew exactly what I was looking at. And with each passing moment staring at that picture, I became more and more convinced that I was looking at Alex Krycek.
After the initial disbelief wore off, I became convinced that Krycek had been my childhood friend. Everyone had always called the boy in the photo "Skippy". He and I would play at social functions when we were little. When we got a bit older, we grew to be friends.
I remembered little about his father, and he never spoke of his ever absent mother. His father was a tall man, with dark hair and fair skin. His father spoke with an accent. Russian, I had realized, with a laugh.
After my parents divorced, he would come over to my father's house when I had my weekend visitations. My father had probably asked him over to keep me company. My father spent most of those weekends working, and Skippy and I didn't mind. We liked being left to our own devices.
When we were about fifteen, Skippy moved away. We never wrote, never kept in touch. After I graduated from college and started working for the Bureau, I had succeeded in blocking those years from my mind. It had been a painful time in my life, and until that day in the attic I had remembered only bits of it. Suddenly my memories came flooding back, and that frightened me.
So, I thought, trying to calm myself, you were friends with Alex Krycek when you were a kid. No big deal. Neither of you could have known. But it *was* a big deal. Skippy and I had shared secrets and had been good friends. And now...
I started at the picture. I remember that day, that party. Some people had gotten, together at a park or forest preserve, somewhere outside. The adults had chatted and sat, drinking beer while we children had enjoyed the outdoors.
At that point, I had only met Skippy... Alex... a few times, but when you're young that doesn't matter. Sam was there, it had been before she was taken. The three of us had spent most of that day playing tag, running ourselves into exhaustion, and then stopping to gobble down hot-dogs before we resumed our play.
The photo must have been taken during one of those breaks. The two of us stood next to each other, smiling giant smiles. We were happy, for when you're a kid, that's a good day. Junk food, the great outdoors, and excuse to run around screaming. The young boys stared up from the yellowing photo, oblivious. I felt an aching in my heart. We we're both so innocent. We had never hurt or killed, lied or murdered. We had our whole lives ahead of us, to live out our dreams. To be ice cream men. I tucked the photo into my pocket.
During that search, I ended up tucking several photos of us into the pocket of my suit jacket. My favorite was a picture of us at age eleven. We were at my family cabin. We were standing on the dock. Krycek was wet and scowling, I was dry and laughing. That was taken right after I had pushed him in the lake. Some things never change.
I remember that summer well. It was the summer before Sam was taken. We spent the whole summer at the lake, and Skippy had stayed with us. Both our fathers would stay in the city during the week, commuting out to the cabin on the weekends. I suppose their "work" was too important to take a vacation from.
We spent the whole summer swimming and playing. We used to go on "safaris" in the woods. We always hoped that we'd see a bear. It was much easier to pretend that a bear was a vicious lion than it was to pretend a squirrel was.
Sometimes, late at night, after everyone else was asleep, Skippy and I would sneak out. We made our way to a large hill we favored. We would star-gaze for hours, just staring and talking quietly about deep (and occasionally not so deep) things. Out that far from the city, with no ambient light around, the stars lit up the sky. One night, we fell asleep on the hill. We woke up the next morning and ran back to the cabin, worried about all the trouble we were in. When we got there, my mother simply said, "My you boys are up early today! You must have woken up even before I did!". When she was out of earshot, we laughed ourselves silly.
But now I have a souring factor disturbing those memories. I remember other things from that summer, things that didn't register then. I remember adults arguing, and odd things happening. But most disturbingly of all, I remember Cancer Man visiting the cabin. Visiting far too often. And sometime she would just sit, and watch us children play. Making plans for us.
I went through the whole box that afternoon. When I came to the bottom, I found one last photo. It was of us together the last day we were together. Each of us had a look of pure sadness on our faces. We had become close after...
After Sam was taken, we spent a lot of time together. I wouldn't say we were best friends... we didn't go to the same school, only saw each other one the weekends. But somehow, we were closer than best friends. He was there during the worst of it, when all my other friends ran home. He wasn't afraid of the hard stuff. It seemed to fortify him, strengthen his resolve. Make him more determined to keep them from hurting me in any way.
As we got older and closer, we began to share more secrets. I was the first person he told his biggest secret to. He told me that he was gay. And I told him that I was bi-sexual. And in those days, that was a big deal.
He was the first male I was ever attracted to. He had always been cute, and always looked a bit younger than he actually was. When we were fifteen, he often got mistaken for a younger child.
Nothing had ever happened between us. I never thought that he was attracted to me, and besides, he was my friend, my support system during the hard times, and I couldn't risk losing that. When he had to leave, it only re-enforced my fear of abandonment. A fear I still have to this day.
When I first realized this, that day in the attic, I felt... sick. Alex Krycek, the human face of my worst enemies, also happened to be my first love. That's just great, I thought sarcastically, as I tried to calm myself. But in addition to my disgust, I couldn't help but feel sorrow for the boys I saw in those pictures. Their innocence touched me, and frightened me. To think that those boys were us, untouched by the hand of the consortium, yet both of those young lives were destined to be shaped and destroyed by the men gathered at those simple picnics and parties. The adults we trusted.
Could it be that Alex Krycek, my old friend Skippy, had no choice in his future? That he was as destined to join the family business as I was destined to both oppose and somehow unwittingly work with it? Did either of us have any choice in what we'd become, and therefore, could we be blamed for it? And could we change it? I looked at that picture, at those sad faces, forcing goodbye smiles. When I had first heard that he was leaving, I grew quite mad at him. Finally I realized that he had no choice in what was happening. But I was still angry, perhaps one of the reasons I never asked for his new address. I now know that he probably wouldn't have been able to give it to me. The Consortium was going through major changes back then, and his leaving, relocating, was probably a result of that.
That last day, I went to his house, to say goodbye. His family had few possessions, and they were all packed away. They were leaving early the next morning, and his father was "clearing some things up" at the office. I didn't want to leave him alone in the empty house, so I stayed with him as late as I could. When it was time for me to leave, he walked me home. As it turned out, my house was empty as well, my mother having gone out on one of her dates.
We stepped on the porch, both of us knowing that it was time to say goodbye. I remember the way the porch light shone on us, the way the summer breeze blew through my hair, the tears rising in both our eyes. "Mulder," he said, "this is it."
"Goodbye." I said, staring at the ground. That's when he leaned in, towards my right side, and kissed me sweetly, on the cheek. "Goodbye my friend." he told me, as he backed down the steps, turned, and left. I was so shocked, I said nothing, did nothing, just watched him walk out of my life.
When this particular memory surfaced, as sat on the attic floor, staring at the picture, I began to cry. And I had thought that I had been confused before... So, Krycek knew. It made sense. You don't meet all that many people named Fox Mulder. Plus, Krycek probably hadn't repressed most of his formative years, the way I had.
What happens now? I thought. What do I do? What do I say? Had Krycek been telling me goodbye the last time I saw him? Is he going away or is he in risk of dying? Is he dead already? Oh, Skippy... I gathered the Consortium pictures up, stuffing them in a file folder I had brought with me. I tucked all the pictures of Alex and me into my pocket. Then I threw the rest of the pictures back into the box, wiped my eyes, and slammed the window shut. I looked around me, at the attic where Skippy and I, Krycek and I, where we used to play. I remembered the time when we were two detectives, solving the mystery of the ghost that hid in the attic. Too many "Hardy Boys" books, I suppose.
I had found a real ghost in the attic. One that was hiding up there, waiting for my curiosity and repressive memory to join forces and bring it up from it's grave. The memories of my childhood friend, the one person in my whole entire who's known me as well as my sister. Not even Scully could claim to know me that well. And then I find who he is now, spoiling or altering or... just changing my memories. Scrambling the confused mess of my past even more. Changing me, changing what *is* truly the most inextricable, uncontrollable relationship in my life.
I closed the door to the attic, but not to my memories. Nothing would ever close my mind to them ever again. I went home to find Skippy, Alex Krycek, before he could leave my life again. I had questions inside of me, unanswerable ones, and I knew that he was the only one who could possibly understand them. Who could possibly understand me.