Burn All The Letters

by Frankie

Title: Burn All The Letters
Author: Frankie
Feedback to: luvnick62@aol.com
Author's Website:
Date Archived: 04/08/02
Category: Unclassified  
Pairing: Mulder/Krycek      
Rating: PG
Permission to Archive:
Series or Sequel/Prequel:
Notes: Something I found on an old disk and, with Sue's encouragement and excellent beta, decided to post. This is, for lack of a better phrase, vintage M/K. Before CC's insanity and that damn bullet. Before the unpleasantness in Tunguska. It's post Duane Barry, pre-oilien, back when the world was young and the promise of Krycek's character was still something to dream about and wait for with great anticipation. I guess this story is sort of dedicated to those days.
Dedication: With apologies to Sue, I don't want to make this a forum for voicing displeasure with certain behavior in certain, say, newbies, but I just want to dedicate this story to folks who like to write stories, folks who like to read stories, and those of us who understand that these lists provide a voice and are for the pleasure of *everyone* on them.
Disclaimer: In my mind, Fox and Alex belong to me. In a court of law they don't. Bah. Lyrics belong to the Indigo Girls, whom I adore to distraction.
Summary: After Krycek's disappearance, Mulder finds out a few things he hadn't known about his partner.

Burn All the Letters
By Frankie
November 1999/April 2002

Burn all the letters (someone is always watching) The government's on the phone (whether openly or secretly) Burn all the letters (breathe life into your story) Send them on to a safer home (burn it to secrecy)

The building was nondescript, just another rundown brick structure sorely in need of decent maintenance. It had been the last known address of former Special Agent Alex Krycek, now missing, presumed dead. Mulder wasn't sure why he'd come here, why he felt the need to examine an empty apartment devoid of any clues as to who his young partner had been. He couldn't possibly find anything useful, but still he came.

The landlady was a pleasant looking, round-faced woman in her sixties who had been quite cooperative upon seeing Mulder's badge. She asked, in her heavy Russian accent, if Mulder knew where Alex was. Apparently, he had left without claiming his security deposit. Mulder told her she should think of donating it to her favorite charity since it didn't look as if Krycek would be returning from the dead any time soon. His remark would have gone unchecked if he hadn't seen her face. She had surprised him by actually looking distressed at the news, and cooled toward Mulder instantly. He wondered if she had any idea that the man she was mourning had been a double-crossing killer. Probably not.

"I'm sorry. He wasn't one of my favorite people."

"Then why you are here?" She scowled at him and for a moment Mulder wondered if Scully had any relatives in Russia she didn't know about.

"He used to work for the FBI, but now he's wanted for questioning."

"You say he is dead. You cannot question him."

Mulder sighed and shrugged his shoulders. "Honestly, I came here to see if he left anything in his apartment. Anything that could give me information about the men he worked for."

"But you say he work for FBI. You don't know FBI?" She sounded incredulous, and Mulder held back a chuckle.

"No, what I meant was... Look, I'm not here in an official capacity, but I would be very appreciative if you would let me into his apartment." Mulder smiled, making a concerted effort to be as polite as possible.

"There is nothing there."

"That's fine, but I'd still like to look. I might find something, anything."

After a few seconds of scrutiny, she nodded her head.

"Follow me."

She showed him into the apartment and he asked to be left alone. Eyeing him warily, she shook her head.

"You work with Alex, yes?"

"We were partners."

"You are not sad he is dead?"

Mulder shook his head and started walking through the apartment, opening closet doors, knocking on the walls in search of any hollow spots that might contain hidden compartments.

"I didn't know him well enough to care." It was a lie, but Mulder would never admit that to himself or anyone else.

"Why you are here?"

"I already mentioned that I'm looking for anything he may have left behind."

"In apartment?"

Mulder wished she'd go away and allow him some privacy to really dig around. He turned to her. "Yes, but it doesn't look as if I'll find anything. I'm sorry for the inconvenience."

"Agent Mulder," she said softly, as if about to reveal a secret, "Alex give me something before he leave."

"Excuse me?"

"You come with me."

She gestured impatiently for him to leave the apartment, and locked the door behind them. Without a word, she walked quickly down the hall, stopping in front of her apartment.

"He tell me to give to you if you come."

"What is it?"

She didn't answer him, instead opening the door and guiding him inside.

"Wait here."

She disappeared into another room and Mulder waited, his mind racing, as he tried to imagine what on earth Krycek would have left for him. Probably some stupid jab at him, no doubt. Even from beyond the grave, he was still being a prick.

"Here. Is for you," she said, handing Mulder a shoe box.

He opened it slowly, half expecting a poisonous snake to slither out. What he saw inside were some audio tapes, each one numbered.

"What are these?"

"He no say. He tell me, Mrs. Petroff, you see Agent Mulder here, you give to him."

Mulder frowned and dug through the box. There were about fifteen tapes for him to go through, and maybe one of them would give him some useful information. Or maybe none of them would.

"Why didn't you give them to me when I arrived?"

She shrugged. "You say you want to look in apartment. I say okay."

Mulder was not amused but smiled weakly.

"What exactly did Krycek say when he gave you these?"

Mrs. Petroff began speaking Russian and Mulder could barely contain himself.

"In English, please," he said, trying to sound as polite as possible.

"I going away for a while. If Agent Mulder come here, give to him this box. Tell him it hold important information."

Bingo. Mulder couldn't believe his luck.

"Those," she indicated the box, "they are important to Alex. He say you like what he say on them. If you no care, I no give them to you."

"Believe me, I care about getting these."

"But you no care for Alex."

Mulder shook his head. "Honestly? No, I never cared about him while he was living. But now, I care about what he has to say on these tapes."

"I think you are sad he is dead."

"Why do you say that?"

"You look sad."

Mulder shrugged noncommittally. He was only sad that he hadn't been able to find out more about the man who had so heartlessly gained his trust and then betrayed him. He was even more sad that he hadn't been able to confront Krycek before he was killed. Although the details of Krycek's death were sketchy at best, Mulder even felt a pang of regret at not being there to see the fucker get what he deserved.

"Thank you, Mrs. Petroff. Did he leave anything else for me?"

She shook her head, then snapped her fingers and disappeared into the other room again. She soon returned, holding a padded envelope in front of her.

"He say to return this."

Mulder opened the envelope and took out Krycek's ID badges. For a moment, as he stared at the fresh-faced young man, he did feel a twinge of sadness. Then he realized it was for himself, for his own stupidity at being so easily swayed and deceived.

He held them up before putting them back in the envelope. "Thank you."

She smiled and patted his arm. "Welcome."

Mulder had resisted the urge to listen to any of the tapes on the drive home. He wanted to pay close attention to every word in case they revealed who Krycek had been working for, and if any of the information would be useful to Mulder in his quest to find the truth. When he walked into his apartment, he went into the living room and carefully set the box on the coffee table. He stared at it as if expecting it to start ticking; when nothing happened he smiled ruefully and undid his tie.

"That would have to be one smart bomb," he said to himself. He sat down and took the lid off the box. Before he started listening to them, he wanted to put them in order so the information would make sense. Hell, for all he knew, it would be nothing but blank tape, and just one more way Krycek had managed to raise Mulder's hopes in order to dash them. For a second, he wondered what had made Krycek think he'd ever get the tapes. If he had really wanted to fuck around with him, he would have sent them to Mulder directly, wouldn't he? It would make no sense for Krycek to leave any sensitive information about what he did, or the men he worked for, unless he knew that he was going to die, and that Mulder would be the only one who could find out what happened to him. But why would he think Mulder would care?

"Jesus." He rubbed his eyes and leaned back on the couch. Odds were Krycek would have nothing good to say, but Mulder's curiosity started getting the better of him. Maybe after a shower he'd be able to think a little more clearly. He stood up and headed to the bathroom, casting another look at the tapes as he went.

Freshly showered and wearing an old pair of sweats, Mulder got himself a beer and took a seat on his couch. He took a slow sip, still debating whether or not he should listen to the tapes or just throw them down the incinerator with the rest of his trash. The shrill ring of the phone made him jump.


"Mulder, it's me. They've found a body. It's too badly burned to make an ID so we have to wait for the results of a dental match, but there's reason to believe it's Krycek."

"Okay. Let me know what the lab comes back with. Scully..." He started to tell her about the tapes, but thought better of it. If he was being played for a fool, he wanted to be the only one who knew. If, however, there was any pertinent information, he would then share its existence with his partner.


"The eyewitness is sure they saw Krycek in the building at the time of the explosion?"

"Yes, why?"

"No reason."

"Fine. I'll get back to you when I find out anything."

"Thanks, Scully."

He hung up and picked up the first tape, turning it over in his hands before placing it into the tape recorder. Hesitating slightly, he pressed the play button and sat back to listen.

There was the sound of rustling and some knocking, as if Krycek was moving around before he began to speak. Finally, Mulder heard the familiar voice.

"And so it begins." His voice sounded deeper than it had whenever he spoke to Mulder, unguarded, as if he were finally able to be himself. "I met my new assignment today. What a prick."

Mulder snickered when he thought about that first meeting. He'd thought the same thing about the squeaky little agent who had defended his right to the Cole case with the petulance of a spoiled child.

"He tried to ditch me, but I found him. I have to make sure I gain his trust, but I'm not sure if I will accomplish that. I have to remember not to act in any way that will alienate him." Krycek sounded as if he were checking things off on a mental shopping list. "I was told I'd have to do the puppy dog thing, which really pisses me off, but I have strict orders from that smoking bastard to do what Scully couldn't."

Mulder felt his hackles rise at the mention of Scully's name. Was Krycek implying that she and he were working for the same side? He shook his head, dismissing the thought. He trusted Scully, and had no reason to doubt her, but still...

"I'm happy to say that I've finally been paired with someone whose intelligence either matches or surpasses my own. And surprisingly, once I proved myself, he cut out some of the alpha-male shit and actually let me help him with this case."

Mulder thought back on that day. His new partner had impressed him with his insight and enthusiasm. As much as Mulder hated to admit it, he'd started liking Krycek by the end of the day.

"It's that bullshit government sleep eradication project...I knew it was a matter of time before someone found out and told them as much. Maybe that's why they gave it to me. They know I'll eliminate the last man."

Mulder knew that Krycek was talking about Augustus Cole. Had Krycek been given the case with the intention of killing Cole or with the intent to sabotage him? Or was it both? So the "scared rookie agent shooting his first suspect" thing had been an act. He kept listening in hopes of finding out.

"He may be a jerk, but I'm looking forward to working with him. Too bad I'm on the other side; we could have made a good team." He laughed, and Mulder bristled, hearing the mockery in it. "Okay, I'm going to file my formal report for shitface. Stay tuned."

Dammit. He wasn't putting anything of importance on the tapes, at least not yet. Mulder couldn't take a chance that he'd say something valuable, so he was determined to listen to every minute.

"Another day, another dollar...literally. I wish they'd give me better clothes to wear. I can look just as good as him, but that would defeat the whole "wet behind the ears" facade I'm going for. Did I mention that he wears Armani? Where the hell does he get the money? The FBI doesn't pay that well, and I'd be surprised if he was taking anything from Daddy. That fucker may have chosen Fox, but he sure as hell doesn't love him."

The sting of the words was tempered by confusion. Chosen? What the hell was that supposed to mean? Was he adopted? No, he was sure his father would have told him if he was. Mulder turned off the player and picked up the phone to call his mother. Thinking better of it, he hung up. Why the hell was he doing exactly what Krycek probably wanted him to? For all he knew, Krycek was full of shit. If he'd made these tapes with the idea of giving them to Mulder, he could say pretty much anything to get a rise out of him. He would let it go, for now, though the thought still lingered in the back of his mind.

"So I have to admit that I like watching him when he struts around in his designer suits. Maybe it's because I haven't really gotten laid in a while; who knows? I'm not counting that trainee...he was only-"

Mulder stopped the tape and rewound. Had Krycek said 'he'?

"-knows? I'm not counting that trainee...he was only a five minute diversion. But Mulder..." he laughed softly "...I bet Mulder would be a hell of a lay. Too bad he's more interested in those fuck films than real people. And unless I grow tits in the next 24 hours, I wouldn't have a chance anyway." He laughed again and the tape cut off.

Mulder sat back, slack-jawed and in utter disbelief. He had never known that Krycek was gay. How could he have not picked up on that? An even better question was why had Krycek assumed he was only interested in women? Mulder smiled. It seemed that even under surveillance, everyone thought he was straight. Talk about missed signals. Still, he would never have guessed that Krycek was interested in him.

He'd always dismissed the admiration as hero worship, but he supposed that could have been the signs of a crush. Of course, now that he knew Krycek had been purposefully adoring, the explanation would never be a crush, just merely Krycek fulfilling his duty. But now...now Mulder had heard Krycek say he wanted him. In spite of himself, Mulder felt a faint stirring at the thought of bedding Alex Krycek.

He sighed. It was all a moot point now; the bastard was dead. Probably just as well since Mulder didn't know what he'd do if...he checked that thought. What the hell was he saying? If Krycek was alive, he'd take him into custody, pure and simple. Wouldn't he?

He told the voices in his head to shut up and leaned forward to press the play button.

"Well, Cole's been taken care of, and I gained a bit more leeway with Mulder. I should take up acting, because I was brilliant tonight. I'm not talking about the actual killing. The guy had a gun, so I was well within my rights to defend both myself and my lovely partner, but I mean afterwards. The FBI has never seen a more distraught agent...poor little rookie making his first kill. Guess who brought me home? He was so concerned about me I could have probably done anything I wanted to him. I really thought he was going to kiss me at one point, but he just hugged me. It was nice enough, but all I could think about was getting him naked and in my bed. Oh well, maybe another time."

Mulder's heart was racing as he remembered that night. Krycek had been so upset, so vulnerable after shooting Cole, that Mulder hadn't thought it wise for the young man to be alone. He'd driven him home and gone upstairs to make sure he'd be okay. The thought of kissing him - or doing anything else - had never crossed his mind.

"Liar," he said under his breath.

Maybe at one point, when he'd actually had his arm around Krycek's shoulders, as the other man shed his crocodile tears, he'd wanted to comfort him with a kiss, but that was the extent of it. He also remembered thinking that he couldn't take advantage of his partner when he was in that state. What he remembered the most was going home and jerking off while thoughts of Krycek ran through his head. It was the first and last time that had happened.

The next few tapes were nothing more than Krycek describing what he and Mulder had done after the shooting, and descriptions of the other shit cases they'd been assigned. Besides a few more declarations of lust on Krycek's part, they were unremarkable except for one part.

"I don't know why he's getting to me. I suppose I could list off all his more admirable traits, but it's not just that. He's making me think twice about what I'm doing. Why the hell does he have to be so fucking intense and gorgeous and brilliant? If I'd been ordered to seduce him, I'd want to follow orders, but I've been ordered to derail his attempts to find out what they're doing. End of story. Shit, I don't know how much more of this I can take. He's going to find out and I'm going to be a dead man."

If he didn't know better, Mulder could have sworn it sounded like Krycek was falling for him. It was only the fact Krycek didn't have a heart that convinced Mulder it was just so many words. Still, he actually sounded sincere.

"Yeah, right," Mulder muttered, as he got up to get himself another beer, looking at the time as he passed the microwave. He'd been listening to the tapes for hours and hadn't even noticed. He also hadn't noticed that his penis was semi-erect, a result, no doubt, of no sex and hearing Krycek repeat how much he wanted to fuck him. Nothing to worry about, or so he told himself. Silently cursing himself for not quite believing what he was thinking, he grabbed a bottle out of the fridge and returned to the couch.

He popped another tape into the player, pressed play and settled back expecting to hear more dry, sometimes sarcastic, descriptions of their work day.

"Today is...fuck it. I don't give a shit what day this is."

Mulder could tell immediately that Krycek was drunk.

"I hate myself, I hate that fucking smoking bastard, but mostly I hate myself...who I am..." The words were slurred, and Mulder sat up instantly. This sounded like it was going to be different, and he was intent on making out every word.

"I've done my job. I did what I was supposed to do...he trusts me now. You know how I know? He asked me if I was doing anything tonight, and if I'd like to go to the game with him."

Mulder was surprised that he actually remembered that day. He'd had an extra ticket and thought that his young partner would jump at the chance to join him. He'd been a bit disappointed when he'd said no, but figured he had something better to do than hang out with the man he saw five days a week. Now he was going to find out what was really behind it.

"No big deal, right? Wrong...goddammit. I know that he doesn't go out with people from work...it's all there in his file. He's antisocial...he's a fucking genius. Who the hell wants to socialize with bastards who are just gonna screw you over? But he wanted to spend time with me. I don't think he ever went out with that bitch partner of his, but he wanted me...wanted to get to know me. It's the opportunity we've been waiting for...the sign that he doesn't suspect me... He fucking trusts me and I'm gonna make sure he gets fucked over. I couldn't go. I may be a rotten sonofabitch...I am a sonofabitch...but I can't keep playing this part. I'm so damn tired...I want him to know who I am. I want to go to his apartment as myself and tell him everything. Tell him..." He started laughing, it started as drunken giggles, then grew into wails of frustration, and finally, deep, heartfelt sobs. Mulder couldn't believe what he was hearing. This was a man who was out of control, someone who sounded as if he had no hope left. Why hadn't he picked up on the signals? Maybe because Krycek really had been too good at his job and never sent any out. He shook his head and kept listening.

"I can see it now...I show up at his door and say, 'Hey, there, Mulder. Guess what? I have something to tell you.' God, I'm a stupid piece of shit. Oh god...god, Mulder. How about a little 'get to know you' fuck? No? Okay, would you settle for me sucking you off under your desk? I promise you won't regret it. Heh...heh, or I can do something really crazy like tell you how I feel about you, and kiss you...just kiss you until I can't breathe anymore...just die in your arms..."

Mulder pressed the stop button. He couldn't listen to this anymore. He wasn't even sure if he would be able to make it through the rest of the tapes. What he had thought would be detailed notes of Krycek's work with him, was turning out to be his innermost thoughts, his deepest confessions. And he had meant for Mulder to hear them. Somehow he'd known that he wouldn't be around to say or do the things he'd wanted to, so he'd made sure that Mulder would one day know what had gone unsaid for all this time. A shiver went down Mulder's spine at the realization that he was listening to a dead man's diary.

He rewound the tape a little, not sure why he was making himself listen to the pained voice. Perhaps it was a form of retribution to force himself to replay the sad, needy words, laying bare the soul behind them.

"--do something really crazy like tell you how I feel about you, and kiss you...just kiss you until I can't breathe anymore...just die in your arms...die happy. You never think about me, do you? You never lie awake at night, wondering what it would be like to feel my body pressed to yours...both of us quiet because there aren't any words to express what...what we feel...you don't feel empty because I'm not there...don't imagine me inside you...making love... Forget it. Just fucking forget it. I've made my choice...I have...I have to live with it."

Mulder turned off the player. He didn't know he was shaking until he felt beer slosh onto his leg.

"What the hell?" he whispered. Until now, Krycek had been cold, distant in his observations. This was the first time Mulder had heard any real feeling, and he found it more than a little disturbing. Krycek wasn't human. So why was he saying these things? How long had he felt that way and never said anything, not even to himself? Mulder stood up and started pacing around the living room. This was not supposed to happen. He was not supposed to hear Krycek sounding remorseful or talking about having sex with him. No, he'd said making love. That was what was bothering Mulder. The bastard had said making love...

"Dammit, Krycek. What are you saying?" Mulder was glad he was alone, otherwise he would have sounded crazy talking to the recorded voice of a dead man. Hell, he sounded crazy to himself. He could not come to terms with what he had heard. The man on the tape was not the same man he'd worked with and hated for all this time. Krycek never showed any remorse for what he'd done, but that could have been because he'd never had the chance. The more Mulder thought about it, the more he wondered if that was the case. But it was still easier to think that Krycek could have stopped what he was doing if he'd really wanted to do the right thing.

He sat down again, afraid to keep listening, afraid of what listening to that voice was doing to him. The animosity he felt toward Krycek was the only thing he had to keep him interested in the search. Well, it had been, he amended. If Krycek really was dead, the search would be over anyway. Mulder knew what he really feared. Hearing the truth from Krycek's own mouth was making it difficult to not face his own feelings. He knew the reason he had been so hurt and angry when Krycek left. The fucker had gotten to him, then turned around and betrayed him. If Mulder could disguise his pain as hatred, he could live with that. But now...now he was hearing what he never thought he would.

He breathed out slowly, his head swimming with the information he had. It was getting harder and harder to convince himself that Krycek was playing with his mind, and that these tapes were fakes. He sounded too sincere, too hurt, too afraid of what would happen if he stood up to the men he worked for and told Mulder everything.

The tape player was on the coffee table, daring Mulder to listen to the rest of the tapes. He knew he should go to bed, but he would never get any sleep. He pressed play.

"I had a nice surprise today. I was sent to get him and found him in the pool." Krycek sounded well-rested, almost cheerful. "He was wearing a Speedo, and it's all I could do not to grab his ass when he got out of the water. Anyway, back to business...he gave me a real scare by going in there with that crazy son of a bitch. I swear I must have been holding my breath the whole time he was in there. Of course, she showed up and basically shoved everyone out of the way, so she could demonstrate how concerned she was for him. There's no way she cares more than I do, and it pisses me off that Mulder doesn't know that. Who the fuck does she think she is? *I'm* his partner now, not her." The tape cut off.

Wow, Mulder thought. Krycek was jealous of Scully. He didn't know how to feel about that. Part of him was angry that it was probably that jealousy that helped lead to Scully's abduction, but another part was flattered that Krycek was being territorial.

"Hell," Mulder said out loud. "What are you doing? You're buying his bullshit?" He knew it was because he wanted to buy it. He wanted to believe everything he was hearing because it would justify the way he was feeling. With every word, Krycek was getting to him, making him face what he'd wanted to deny. It was getting harder and harder to convince himself that he did not feel the same way that Krycek seemed to feel. He couldn't.

"Barry's in the hospital. I've been told to...hold on." There was a click of the tape being stopped and then he resumed talking. "Fuck! That was the smoking asshole. He knows. I don't know how, but he does. He doesn't have my place bugged....I check every day, so he hasn't heard any of what I've said. Sometimes I think the guy's the devil. He knows too much about the people who work for him. I have a real problem. I get to make a decision. Mulder or Scully. It's no contest, but both choices end up with him getting hurt. I can't do that to him, but I have no way to save either of us if I don't. Dammit! How the hell did this happen to me? Oh yeah, that deal with Satan that I made all those years ago. Fuck! Fuck him and all those suits who think they can play God and get away with it. Shit...what do I do? Why am I even asking that? I have no choice but to save Mulder."

Mulder quickly swallowed some beer. He knew Krycek had been responsible for Scully's abduction, but if he could believe what he was hearing, Krycek had only cooperated to save him. He shook his head. There was so much he didn't understand. How the hell was he supposed to allow his feelings to do a complete 180? He would not let himself feel anything for Krycek, even if it was the truth. The pain of not being able to do anything about those feelings was not something he wanted to think about. In fact, he didn't want to think about any of this anymore. But he didn't want to stop the tape either.

"I'm trying to distance myself, I really am. He's not making it easy. I don't know if he was this intimate with Scully, but if he was I'm amazed they never fucked. Unless they did it somewhere that wasn't under surveillance, but I don't think such a place exists in his world. It's getting more difficult for me to focus on doing my job. I'm starting to feel like some idiot teenager with a crush on his teacher. I'm learning so much from him.....too bad it's being wasted on me and not benefiting a real agent. God, Mulder...why do you sit so close to me? Why are you always touching me? I want you to kiss me, I want to make love to you and make you scream my name because no one else can make you feel that good. This is crazy...no one told me I was going to fall in love on this assignment. How the fuck can I do what they're telling me to if I feel this way? I want to protect him, but I have to destroy him or end up destroying myself. I think it's too late for that...the next time I see him, I'm going to tell him how I feel."

Mulder was shocked at what he was hearing. Now there was no doubt that Krycek didn't just want him. He had fallen in love with him. Even worse, Mulder knew that he felt the same way.

"No way." He shook his head vehemently. "No, I can't. It has to take more than this," he flung his hand at the tapes, sending a few of them clattering to the floor. "I do not feel the same way. I wouldn't do that to..." Burying his head in his hands, he started crying at the hopelessness of the situation. "Goddammit!" He stood up and kicked over the coffee table, ignoring the sound of the tape player cracking as it hit the floor. He looked at the mess of tapes, magazines and mail that was scattered across his rug.

"Shit." He knelt down and began frantically picking up tapes he hadn't listened to yet. Righting the coffee table, he replaced the tape player and pushed the eject button. Nothing happened. He pushed play, and still the player refused to do anything.

"Car," he said as he ran into his bedroom to grab an old sweatshirt. Putting it on hastily, he found his car keys and ran downstairs, tapes in his hand. He had to know what else Krycek said, had to know what he'd been thinking towards the end.

Fumbling with the keys, he managed to get the driver's door open and flung himself inside. He slammed the door shut and put the key in the ignition, feeling like a madman, but not giving a damn anymore. The indicator lights glowed in the darkness of the car, and he put a tape into the cassette player.

"Duane Barry has served his purpose. I hate the way these people work, but I don't have much of a choice anymore, do I? I thought Mulder was going to get himself killed, the idiot. I didn't want him going up there when they were taking Scully. He'll never know I saved his life. Now that they know I'm a weak link, they'll kill me. Honestly, there are days I don't give a damn. I just...I wish I could tell him everything and get the hell out of here. Shit, I wish I could take him with me and put all of this scheming and deception behind the both of us. I don't like who I've become...I don't...like what I've done to him."

Mulder closed his eyes when he heard Krycek's voice break. There was some muffled noise on the tape, that almost sounded as if he was crying or trying to control himself. After a lengthy pause, he continued talking.

"I want to get caught. I want him to know that I'm a danger to him, but I can't do that without endangering him. I don't know, maybe I'll fuck up somehow and he'll want to get rid of me. Maybe I can warn him...tell him who's behind this. Fox...don't hate me, Fox. I love you."

There was a click signaling the end of the tape. Mulder took a deep breath and let it out slowly. All the anger he'd had inside of him had been slowly ebbing out of him with every word he heard. If any of it was true, he wasn't sure how to deal with it. His whole world was being turned upside down because for the first time he was hearing the truth. It was the truth from a man he was sure hadn't known the meaning of the word, but now...now it seemed as if he was the only one telling him anything of value, and it was too late. The man was dead.

"I never knew," Mulder whispered, reaching out and running his fingers over the face of the car stereo, wishing it was Krycek he was touching. "Alex, I never knew."

The rest of the tape was blank. Instead of ejecting the tape or turning off the car, Mulder continued to listen to the whir of the blank tape as if he expected to hear some hidden message revealed if he left it on long enough. He knew that he should listen to everything again, glean any possible leads he could from the sketchy details Krycek had provided, but he couldn't do it. He couldn't bring himself to listen to the confessions of both crimes and...

"Dammit, Alex." Things could have been so different. Krycek wouldn't be dead and Mulder wouldn't be left with these feelings of confusion and despair. He leaned forward and rested his forehead on the steering wheel, wanting all of this to go away. It was too late for that.

He looked around him as if noticing for the first time where he was. He didn't want to go back to his apartment, but he didn't want to drive around aimlessly. Sighing, he took the key out of the ignition and got out of the car.

"Don't move."

Mulder felt something pressed to the middle of his back and put his hands in the air.

"I don't have any money on me."

"I don't want your money, Mulder."

Not thinking of the consequences, Mulder turned around.


"You were expecting Mother Theresa? Sorry to disappoint you."

He looked awful. His face was haggard, his clothes disheveled and he looked every inch a man on the run. The gun he'd been holding on Mulder dropped and he looked ready to give up. Despite what he saw in front of him, Mulder was ecstatic, a tight knot of excitement welling up inside of him even as a million questions raced through his mind.

He didn't care what would happen to him, he had to touch Krycek, make sure he was real and not a figment of his fractured imagination. Without warning, he threw his arms around the other man and pulled him tightly against him, his hands roaming over the leather clad back, wanting to reassure himself that it was flesh and bone he was feeling.

Krycek pushed him away and stepped back.

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Alex, I heard the tapes." He grabbed Krycek's arm. "I know everything. I thought you were dead."

"I am." He raised the gun. "So are you." He pulled the trigger.

Mulder jolted awake, his heart threatening to burst through his chest. He was still in the car.

"God..." his voice cracked. He noticed he was sweating and suddenly felt as if he was trapped inside a coffin. Taking the key out of the ignition, he grabbed the tapes and went back to his apartment, walking quickly as if he was being chased by someone.

The first thing he noticed when he walked into the living room was the message light blinking on his answering machine. He swallowed hard and crossed the room in no time, certain that it was Alex. The thought made no sense, but he didn't stop to think about it. Closing his eyes, and saying a silent prayer, he pressed the message button.

"Mulder, it's me." His heart sank at hearing Scully's voice. No doubt she was calling to tell him that they had made a positive ID on the body.

"You're not going to believe this...I don't know how to tell you, Mulder. It's not him."

His eyes opened with a start, and he rewound the message to make sure he had heard correctly.

"It's not him." Rewind. "It's not him."

He let out a cry, whether of relief or frustration, he wasn't sure. All he was sure of was the fact that, for now, Alex was not dead.

The ring of the phone startled him.

"Mulder," he said gruffly.

"Mulder, it's me. I hope I didn't wake you."

"No danger of that, Scully. I just got your message. I thought there was a witness."

"Mulder, we have no idea who made the ID. Perhaps these people he works for want us to think he's dead in order to aid him in subverting our efforts on the X-files." She paused. "Or there is the distinct possibility he wants his superiors to believe he's dead in order to double cross them. It wouldn't be a surprise if he's only looking out for his own interests."

Mulder smiled in spite of himself. He would never tell Scully about the tapes, and instead would do what he could to find Krycek and help him to escape from under the tyranny of his bosses.

"I know you wanted to know that this was all over, Mulder."

"It's okay, Scully. I'm sure that he'll cross our paths again."

"Let's hope not." He heard her shout something to someone then return to the phone. "Mulder, I have to go. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Bye, Scully."

Mulder held the phone to his chest before replacing the handset. He looked at the tapes splayed out on the coffee table. Stooping to pick up the empty shoe box, he put all the tapes in it and replaced the lid. Once they'd been incinerated, there would be nothing left to fall into the wrong hands and possibly incriminate Alex. After that, Mulder knew that all he would be able to do for Alex was wait.


Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone renounced violence forever? I could then conquer the whole stupid planet with just a butter knife.

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