TITLE: Trouble Man
AUTHOR: S.N. Kastle
CATEGORY: The X-Files, Mulder/Krycek
SUMMARY: "Oh I've come up hard baby/But that's okay/Cause trouble man/Don't get in my way."
DISCLAIMERS: Not mine. Thanks to Marvin Gaye for the loan.
THANKS: Sab jumped back in first and stayed in the deep end to edit. Originally posted 15 May 2001.
ARCHIVE: List archive OK, all others please link to http://home.earthlink.net/~shanak11/trouble.html
FEEDBACK: shanak11@earthlink.net


THE CAR IDLES and Krycek taps his feet on the pedals along with Marvin Gaye, staccato red flashes illuminating the dimmed garage. None of it is over, not even close, but it feels like an intermission, like there's still time for a comeback or a second act. Mulder wouldn't guess that he reads Fitzgerald or sometimes roots for the underdog. Mulder never even asks why he's there anymore, or how he knew where or when, or whose side he's on. Mulder thinks he's got Krycek figured out.

"Why are you here?" Mulder's voice is older and flatter than the last time they did this. He's been making quiet calls on a cell phone while sitting on the back of Krycek's car but now he's moved to lean against the door. Maybe all it's taken is dying for him to notice Krycek is sticking around for the rest of the fight.

"You need a ride," Krycek says. "Get in."

Mulder looks around the deserted concrete lot, but Krycek knows there's no other way back because Scully and Reyes are on their way to anywhere else and Skinner and Doggett are gone, too. So now it's just the two of them and Krycek wants a cigarette or a blow job, really he'd settle for either, but he knows how Mulder reacts to smoke so he just chews the inside of his cheeks and counts to 100.

When he pulls up in front of Mulder's building, he slides the gearshift into first and turns off the ignition, and Mulder's hand pauses on the door handle. Krycek gets out of the car, waits for Mulder to do the same so he can set the alarm, and eventually Mulder starts up the stairs, talking to him again as if only moments before they'd been circling each other for the first time.

"We have a lot to do," Mulder says, and Krycek thinks it's good that Scully's not there to mistake that for excitement at having found a new enemy. "We have to figure out how to stop them, how they can be killed, and we have to --"

"We will," Krycek says, like he's the one in charge, and Mulder stops to look at him for a minute, his mouth open a little, before unlocking the apartment door. Krycek can't remember the last time he said "we." We is two people, first and second, now and then, and there are no second chances in American lives.

"You can have the couch," Mulder says, "and we'll start early tomorrow." It's already 3 a.m. and Krycek wants to stay up and figure it all out, but he just shrugs and sits down on the leather cushions. He can hear the theme to Cheers through the wall and around the corner a siren sings, stops, bleats again. Mulder sits down next to him and their shoulders touch. What's left of his other arm tingles and wants to hold on to something.

"Is it --" Krycek starts, and then he stops.

"What?" Mulder says, annoyed.


Mulder's hands are around his neck before the word becomes a question, thumbs digging into his jugular like Mulder's trying not to fall, like his throat has become a ledge. Krycek closes his eyes, wills his body not to struggle. He knows he won't always have a choice, that if this goes on long enough, before he loses consciousness he'll come out fighting, throw his knee into the crotch Mulder's hovering above his own and it will be over just like that, in one. He always gets it in one, because this is all he does anymore.

But Mulder pulls back first and by the time Krycek's eyes adjust to the dark apartment, he's alone in the room. When the sun starts to rise through the blinds, throwing swords of light across the floor and the glass coffee table, Mulder walks out of the bedroom, no shirt, boxers, barefoot. Krycek's back is sticky against the leather and his jeans feel tight.

"You don't sleep either," Mulder says, and he sounds like he's forgotten where he went or that he left at all. He sits on the coffee table, facing Krycek, eyes crazy and burned-out like kindling, like the fire this time is going to be hotter than any of them can guess.

"Not in strange places, no," Krycek says, rubbing a palm around his sore neck and wincing when he brushes the bruises. He meets Mulder's eye and holds it.

Mulder tilts his chin up and laughs a little, but bitterly. "You've been here before."

Krycek shrugs. There are things that are harder to kill than old habits. Mulder is both.

Mulder is staring at his chest, at the most-recent passport, a V-shaped scar below his ribs, and Mulder grunts, low and disgusted. "About before --" Mulder says, but it's not quite an apology, and it's not clear who disgusted him.

"Yeah, whatever," Krycek says.

"There were a lot of times that that wasn't about you. I mean, when I would just go after you -- a lot of times that was just me being angry at how the world was out to get me."

All these years and Mulder still thinks he's the one people bet against.

"Not that sometimes you didn't deserve getting your face smashed in."

"Sometimes I deserved worse."

"If this -- if you're really helping, here, if this works, then... Then we're even."

Krycek nods, not expecting trust, not really deserving it even now.

Mulder walks toward the bedroom, scratching his stomach and yawning. He looks back.

"You're not really going to make me sleep --" Krycek nods at the couch, stands up. This is all just intermission, and old habits die hard, and Mulder came back so why shouldn't they burn, too.

Mulder shakes his head, lets Krycek cross to him. "We'll figure it out."



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Archived: May 15, 2001