Identity, an X Files adventure by Brenda S. Antrim.
This story follows The Deal and Runes, so, while it stands alone, reading those stories might make this one more understandable. Rated PG13 for language. Warning: UST (and maybe a little romance, and a lot of confusion) between two principal characters of the same gender. Oh - it's not a relationship story.
Standard disclaimers apply : CC owns the universe, and I'm just borrowing the characters for a little while.


His breath pounded through his body, fighting with his rapidly beating heart to fill his head with the rhythm of terror. They were close now, closer than they had ever been, and he rounded the corner and flew into the alley, so intent on his pursuers that he didn't see the protruding board on the side of the window, didn't see anything until the sudden sharp pain that filled the world with sparkling blackness.

"Hey, mister, you okay? Holy shit, he hit that hard!"

"I'll call 911, jesusgod he's bleedin' all over the place-"

"I wonder if he's dead? I think he's dead!"

"Sure as hell ain't movin'!"

The two men in the long dark coats saw the small knot of street people gathering around the inert form of their prey, and blended into the blackness. They would find him again. Now was not the right time.

His sense of timing was fortuitous. He came muzzily awake as the paramedics were tending to him.

"Sir? Can you tell us your name, sir?"

Right. No id. SOP for a man on the run. His thoughts were fuzzy, but some flickering sense of self preservation reminded him that he couldn't use his own name. Couldn't risk them finding him.

"Mulder." His vision was clearing, but he had an hellacious headache. Had to get away, had to get away, mustn't get caught ... with a sudden jerk, he raised his hand to stop the paramedic from lifting him to the stretcher and taking him to the waiting ambulance. He rolled swiftly away and to his feet, and the paramedic grasped his upper arm to steady him. "No. No hospitals."

"Sir, you've taken a severe blow to the head, we have no way of telling how badly you've been in-"

"No!" With a nearly inarticulate growl, he shoved the man violently away from him and began to run, ignoring the pounding in his head and the concerned shouts echoing in the alleyway behind him. Quicker than any of the witnesses would have expected from an injured man, he twisted between the buildings and dove down the stairwell of a nearby train station. He disappeared before the stunned onlookers could react.

No one bothered him on the train. He must have looked as bad as he felt. Blood matted the thick, soft hair at the side of his head, and his vision was fading in and out. He had to find a bolthole, but he couldn't remember where he should go. He knew a place, but it wasn't safe. Forcing himself to concentrate, another address wavered into his grasping mind, and he held to it. They'd never think to look for him there. He didn't know why, because right at the moment he didn't know who was after him, couldn't remember why he was running, but he knew this other place would be safe.

Swaying off the train, he slipped into the crowd at the station, using the walls for balance, moving with singleminded determination toward his destination. He could rest when he got there. Not before.

The pain just got worse as he made his way, using some sort of instinct he hadn't known he possessed, through the darkening streets to his safe place. He fumbled with the side door, rested along the way, tried to catch his breath and his bearings, forced himself to ignore the increasing unsteadiness of his sight and the pounding in his head. He stopped at the door, stared with fierce concentration at the 42 hanging there on the painted wood. Then he realized, along with no wallet, he had no keys. Falling back on that instinct for survival, his right hand shakily extracted a compact black leather case from his hip pocket. Selecting a slender pick by touch, since his vision was almost completely obscured now, he slipped it into the door and let muscle memory lead his fingers through the necessary motions. With a nearly silent snick, the knob turned, and he pushed it carefully open. He couldn't think why, but somehow he knew that caution was needed here. Safe, yet not safe.

The apartment was dark, and quiet, only the gurgling fish tank breaking the stillness. He tried to walk across the floor toward the couch, but found that his legs had turned liquid, and he sank to his knees. The picks fell from his hand to scatter on the scruffy carpet, and he reached out to break the fall he could feel coming. The hand landed against the side of the worn couch, and his head came to rest there a moment later. He was already unconscious.

*********************************************

"Ah, c'mon, Scully, it's not that bad. I did clean the apartment last Labor day, after-" He broke off abruptly as he noticed that his apartment door was open a crack. With a quick hand motion, he signaled his partner. She drew her weapon and took up a defensive stance at one side of the door, as he stood poised for entry at the other side. Unspoken signals flowed between the two, a silent countdown, then they came in with one movement, he high, she low. Nothing.

"Owch!"

He was at her side immediately, holding her hand to the light, examining the small puncture wound on the side of her palm where she had rested it against the carpet. Looking down, they saw the scattered tools, slivers of silver in the dim light. Following the trail, guns at the ready, they came further into the room, checking at the sight of the dark mass slumped motionless against the front of the couch.

Scully flicked the lights on as Mulder came fully into the room, bending to push the supine body onto it's back. The head lolled freely, and Mulder drew in a breath, shocked at both the identity of his uninvited caller and the trail of blood moving sluggishly down the side of his face to soak into the soft material where he had been laying.

"Who is it?" Concern colored Scully's voice as she moved to stand next to her partner. "Oh!" The concern was tempered now with disgust and disdain.

Mulder knelt beside the unconscious man, taking his pulse, feeling the clammy skin of his forehead. Scully set her emotions aside for the moment and ran a professional eye over Krycek. He didn't look good at all. She managed to quash the uncharitable thought that it wouldn't be much of a loss if he just died, and tried not to think about the fact that the only reason she could think of to wish him to live was that getting rid of the body might prove inconvenient.

"Get me two wet cloths, please, Mulder. One warm and one cold."

He looked askance at her. "Shouldn't we get him to a hospital?"

"Maybe later," she replied, taking off her coat and bending to examine Krycek more thoroughly. "I'd like to avoid that if possible. Knowing your past history with him, we might have a hard time explaining this to the police."

He rummaged in the bathroom for a moment before returning to her with the washcloths. She took the cold one and gestured to Krycek. Mulder began to gently wipe the blood from his face with the warm one. Scully carefully laid the cold cloth over Krycek's forehead.

"But you could alibi me, Scully," he smiled winningly at her, and she ignored him. "How about we dump him at an emergency room and leave before they can get our number?"

Actually, she mused, that plan had possibilities. Before she could respond, Krycek gave a soft moan, and Mulder stopped his ministrations to peer closely at his pale face. Krycek's eyes opened slowly, painfully, and he stared at Mulder wide-eyed. Scully took a small pen light from her pocket and grasped Krycek's chin, pulling his face around to her view with surprising gentleness. He didn't seem to want to look away from Mulder, but the sharp light distracted him, and he winced.

"Well, concussion, certainly. He'd do well with x-rays to see if he has a skull fracture."

"No!" His voice was rusty-sounding, but the panic was evident. "Please! No hospitals." He tried to push himself away from them, but only fell weakly against the couch. The partners exchanged glances.

"He sounds like you, Mulder," Scully commented dryly. Mulder curled his lip in response, but was distracted by Krycek, who put his hand out to rest it lightly against Mulder's chest.

"You're Mulder?" The name rang bells, but he couldn't remember why.

"Don't be a moron, of course I am," Mulder growled testily, snorting slightly in disgust. Scully narrowed her eyes to glare distrustfully at Krycek, but he didn't seem to notice. "Something wrong with your eyes?"

"I'm safe here." The nonsequitur prompted another exchange of glances between Mulder and Scully.

"Look, we have a truce, but that doesn't mean my apartment suddenly becomes your safe house, Krycek." Mulder's face was carefully expressionless, but his voice was far from welcoming. Scully watched the two men closely and wondered, for the umpteenth time, what had happened between the two of them when Krycek had kidnapped Mulder and used him as a bargaining chip to strike this shaky truce. The dynamics between them were changed, somehow, but she couldn't quite figure out how. Before she could get very far into that train of thought, Krycek startled both of them by reaching out and tracing the side of Mulder's cheek with the back of his index finger. Mulder reared back, staring at him with an indecipherable look crossing his features.

"Who's Krycek?" Alex Krycek asked in a perfectly reasonable tone.

Mulder laughed, a short, sharp bark that wasn't very amused. Scully didn't. Alex looked from one to the other with an innocent, vaguely confused look on his face. Mulder noticed that Scully wasn't laughing, and scowled at her.

"Please don't tell me you think he doesn't know who he is." Mulder's tone was skeptical.

"I'm Krycek?" Alex sounded more confused, and slightly frightened.

"Maybe he doesn't." Scully ran her fingers gently over the lump on the side of Krycek's head, and he yelped in pain and tried to draw back. The color drained completely from his face and he swayed. Mulder instinctively reached forward to steady him, and Krycek leaned trustingly up against him. "One thing is certain. He's not acting like himself."

Mulder stared at the man snuggled into his shoulder and had to agree with her. "Uhm, maybe the hospital after all?"

At that, Krycek sat as close to upright as he could, and tried to scoot away. "No, uh-uh, no way." He lifted a shaky hand up to his face, and moaned softly. "Must've been some kind'f tequila."

Mulder laid a hand on his shoulder to stop the swaying that was making him slightly seasick, and turned to his partner. "Okay, Doctor Scully. Your call."

"I think we need to visit my friend Marsha." Both men stared at her, one much more focused than the other. "She has a private clinic. With an xray machine and a CT scanner. He needs skull xrays and a brain scan."

Mulder nodded, and Krycek tried to shrug, but the movement send him sideways. With another soft moan he buried his face in Mulder's shoulder, burrowing like a child into the big warm body holding him upright. Mulder stiffened, looking at Scully for help. She shook her head, then reached for Krycek's right arm and motioned for Mulder to help her.

"Come on, let's get him moving." Krycek lifted his head woozily to frown at her, and she found herself reassuring him. "I have a key to the back entrance. I don't want to be associated with you any more than you want to be seen with us."

They wrestled Krycek none too gently down the elevator and into Mulder's car, thankful that the neighbors were elsewhere or otherwise occupied. When he was finally settled, Scully took the keys and headed for the small clinic. Mulder turned half sideways in his seat and watched their passenger, not that he would be making any sudden moves. Krycek's head was resting against the back of the seat, his eyes half open, a very puzzled look on his face. As his eyes met Mulder's, the agent was shocked to see something that looked like hurt feelings in them. Krycek murmured something, and Mulder leaned over the seat to catch the words.

"Don't you like me?" A plaintive little cry. Mulder looked at him as if he'd lost his mind, and turned to the front abruptly.

"A brain scan is probably a good idea, Scully." She threw him a questioning look and he jerked his head toward the back seat. "I think his brain is scrambled."

******************************************************

Scully had her back to him, conferring with the tall, slender blonde woman who had then poked and prodded and clicked away at him for the nearly an hour. He couldn't believe how still he'd had to lay for the cat scan, or MRI, or whatever the hell it was they'd called it. He also didn't know where Mulder was, and for some reason that was making him anxious.

"Mulder?" His voice sounded weak. He frowned. He wasn't weak. He didn't know much about himself, but he knew he wasn't weak. His train of thought, such as it was, was interrupted by the lanky agent's entrance. He grinned with relief, and Mulder looked at him distrustfully. The grin faded slightly, but the relief remained.

"Hi." Softly. Glad he was back. "Where've you been?"

"Checking your backtrail." Krycek raised one brow inquisitively, then winced at the pain in his scalp. "I wanted to make sure you hadn't brought any unwanted company. So," he continued, inclining his head toward the two women studying the xrays on a lighted screen, "What's the verdict?"

"I dunno. They're not talking to me." <but maybe they'll talk to you> He didn't know why Scully hated him so much, but she made it pretty obvious that she did.

"Scully?" She broke off her conversation, and she and Marsha turned to the waiting men. "How's he doing?"

"Looks like a simple skull fracture, Mulder," Scully informed him, ignoring the whistling breath Krycek took in at the news. "No complications that we can find. The MRI showed no significant soft tissue injury, and there were no signs of epidural or subdural bleeding. Possible bruising."

"He should be in a hospital for observation," Marsha interjected.

"No!" exploded from Alex. "No hospitals!" Mulder reached down and laid a restraining hand on his shoulder.

"How long does he need to be, uhm, observed?" Mulder didn't sound happy, but at least he wasn't advocating hospitalization.

"Twelve to twenty four hours." Scully's voice was pensive. "You know, we may be able to pull this off."

"Pull what off, Scully?" Now Mulder was edging toward distrustful with his partner, too. He didn't like the speculative gleam in her big blue eyes.

"We just wrapped the Kolsack case, Mulder. All that's left is some paperwork. Skinner won't mind if we take a little time off and recuperate. We both have plenty of accrued vacation time."

"And do what?" Outright suspicion now.

"Watch over him."

"Why?" Mulder sounded almost angry. Krycek's looked from one to the other, Marsha forgotten on the sidelines, feeling like a spectator at a tennis match. "Why can't we just take him to the hospital and dump him there?"

"Hey." Alex felt the need to protest, but neither partner was paying any attention to him, so he subsided and watched the rest of the argument with interest.

"Because he wouldn't be safe." Krycek's ears perked up at this. Maybe she'd say something that would tell him why he was running like a buck in hunting season.

"Why the hell not?" Mulder sounded genuinely puzzled now. "You don't honestly buy this amnesia story, do you?"

"Actually, yes." She glanced at Marsha, who nodded her agreement. "The diagnosis is retrograde amnesia, extending for some period before the onset of the injury. We won't know until we talk to him just how far back it goes and how comprehensive it is. He has the other symptoms of severe concussion as well, the dizziness, blurred vision," she paused and looked at the wide green eyes staring at her guilelessly through a thicket of black lashes. "Confusion," she finished dryly.

"And how long will this last?" Mulder asked reluctantly, sparing a glare for the man lying between them. Krycek shivered. He'd like the answer to that one himself.

"Well, the memory gap should shrink gradually over time. Depending on related factors such as stress and his willingness to remember, he may never remember everything. And if the symptoms persist, his recovery may be delayed. Everyone's body reacts somewhat differently to an injury of this nature." Marsha was sympathetic. He smiled at her in appreciation and she colored slightly.

"So if we send him out like this," Mulder began and Scully finished "He'd be a sitting duck."

Krycek gulped. Wrong game, but it was still hunting season. And he didn't have a clue why, or who was behind the gun.

Using some sort of unspoken communication that Krycek couldn't decipher, Scully and Mulder turned as one to the blonde doctor. "We'll be right back, Marsha," Scully smiled. Marsha nodded in return, and turned back to her xrays. Krycek watched her back for a moment, enjoying the hint of curves barely visible under the long lab coat, then cleared his throat lightly.

"Thank you." A hint of shyness playing with the words.

She turned to him then, giving him a half smile and cocking her head in question at him.

"For doing these tests and everything. I really didn't want to go to the hospital." He gave her his very best smile. She almost visibly melted. The effect should have surprised him but for some reason didn't.

"Why are you so afraid?" Her voice was gentle, and he started to reply without thinking, then realized that something was holding him back. And it wasn't just the lack of memory. He had been going to lie, as instinctively and naturally as breathing, only he couldn't remember the truth that he was trying to hide so he couldn't craft a logical lie. So he lay there, mouth slightly agape, with an arrested expression in his eyes. She misread him completely. "Well, I tried. Sometimes, if an amnesiac is asked normal questions, he will reply without thinking, and memories might return that way. I guess it's a little too soon for that. There's one thing you don't want to do, though, and that's try to force it. Let it come back to you naturally. Give yourself some time. A skull fracture is a serious injury." He started to nod, and stopped at the shooting pain in his head. "No sharp movements, either," she added with a sympathetic smile.

Mulder watched from the doorway as Krycek effortlessly charmed the doctor and turned to Scully with a snort of disgust. "I suppose you want me to keep him?" He made Krycek sound like an unwanted stray.

"Well, I have to finish up the autopsy paperwork from the Kolsack case, and there are some details to straighten up with the lab... there's something else, too."

He waited for a moment, and when she didn't finish, he prompted her gently, "What's that?"

She took a deep breath. "He seems to respond better to you. This could be our chance to learn what he knows. Maybe when he starts to remember you could get some information from him on Cancerman."

"Pump him for information as he remembers it, hm?"

"You're the psychologist, Mulder. If anyone can help a man put his memories back together it would be you. Just consider it a sort of profile. And if we get something usable on Cancerman and his operation-"

"-so much the better. Okay, Scully, I'll do it." His face told her he wouldn't like it.

"Mulder?" Her hand on his arm stopped him as he turned to rejoin Krycek and Marsha in the exam room. "Is there ... anything you want to talk about? From when Krycek kidnapped you? I mean, I know he saved your life a few months back, in the Markham case, but I don't know if-"

"No." The harsh word, coupled with the completely shuttered expression on Mulder's face, stopped her words. But it was the mixture of pain and denial in his eyes that made her drop her hand from his arm and allow the subject to stay closed. He glanced at the man on the table and took a deep breath, then re-entered the room. Krycek stopped mid-word in his flirtation with Marsha and looked at Mulder with barely concealed anxiety.

"So, uhm, what now?"

"Now, we go home."

"Great. Where's home?" Alex's forced cheerful tone didn't quite hide the fear.

"Mine." Mulder smiled sweetly at Marsha and she blushed even more deeply. Unlike Krycek, he was completely unaware of the effect of his smile on the lovely doctor. "Thank you for helping us out here, Marsha."

"Yes, thank you -- I promise not to do this to you too often." Scully's wry look sparked a chuckle from her friend.

"If you have any more patients who look like this one, feel free to call on me any time." Krycek winked at her, and the chuckle escaped again. Then she straightened her face and looked at him sternly. "Now follow Doctor Scully's orders, and take it easy."

"Yes, ma'am," he deadpanned back at her, and she shook her head. Gathering the xrays, she slid them into a folder and handed them to Scully.

"And I haven't seen any of you here tonight. Good luck," she added as she shut the door quietly behind her.

Mulder and Scully looked at Krycek with calm determination. He felt like a pinned bug under a microscope. "What?" he finally asked nervously.

"Might as well get this over with," Mulder sighed, and he moved forward to help Krycek slide from the table. Alex swayed unsteadily, a soft moan escaping from his lips as a wave of dizziness swept over him. Scully saw the color drain from his face again and hurried to stand at his other side.

"We'll take it slow. Hang on, Krycek, this is not going to be pleasant."

No shit, he thought, but clenched his teeth against the comment. He concentrated fiercely on putting one foot in front of the other, all the way out to the car, then repeated the process up to Mulder's apartment. Their luck held, and they made it back to the privacy of the dark rooms without seeing any of his neighbors.

They settled Krycek into Mulder's bed, after digging it out from the pile of folders, books, newspaper clippings and discarded clothing that had buried it. He tried to relax enough to drift off to sleep, but he was incredibly tense. He felt adrift, frightened more than he was willing to admit, and incredibly alone. Concentrating the best he could through the pain in his head, waiting for the medication to take effect and dull it at least a little, he could just make out snippets of the conversation from the front room.

"-should be finished about four ... want me to bring anything by ..."

"...call Dorothy in personnel ... no problem with Skinner ..."

"...should be able to do some of it on my laptop..."

" ... helluva way to spend vacation ..."

"...not that you'd do anything else ..."

" ... be careful..." Mulder to Scully. Had he somehow put them in danger by coming here?

" ... watch your back ..." Scully to Mulder. From whom? Him? It seemed right, yet somehow completely wrong.

He tried to empty his mind, the sound of the door closing registering but not interrupting his efforts. He imagined himself floating, trying to relax, trying to stop thinking, trying to get some rest. Eventually, some of the stiffness eased from his back and shoulders, and he was able to slip into sleep.

*****************************************************

It had been an uneventful night, a rarity for Mulder and completely unexpected given his unusual houseguest. But it wasn't his own nightmares that awoke Mulder. It was Krycek's. Rubbing sleep from his eyes, pausing to squint at the illuminated dial of his watch and wincing when he saw that it was not quite four thirty in the morning, Mulder stumbled toward his bedroom and leaned against the doorjamb, studying Alex's twisting form. Whatever he was dreaming about, it was not pleasant. He shuffled into the room and settled into the armchair, watching the muttering, sweating form on the bed and patiently waiting for anything useful that he might let slip in his sleep. His eyes were drawn along the solid lines of Krycek's body as he tried to outrun whatever it was that was chasing him through his dreams. But the slick skin, the bunching and relaxing muscles, and the half-opened mouth and flushed cheeks brought back too many memories he was trying to suppress, so he concentrated on listening, and forced himself to ignore the other signals his body was sending to him. With a concerted effort, he leaned forward, rested his forearms on his knees, and watched Krycek's face.

Deep behind a wall of pain, images were coming back. Unable to block them, not understanding them or the undercurrents of terror and anger that supported them, Krycek was tossed along the current of his memories. He watched image after image flash in front of his mind's eye, and feared he might drown.

A bathroom, cold, empty, a man's face in the mirror. Remnants of a smile etched on the man's face as he reached for the gun at Krycek's waist. No time to react, sound of a gunshot echoing through the house, grabbing his gun back from the old man's hand, hearing a voice, Mulder? Was that Mulder? He sounded wavery, uncertain. Not like his Mulder. Run. Run. Now. Get the hell out of here, gonna be blamed for this one, he didn't see, did he? No time. Run!

A small, barely furnished warehouse basement, just a chair, some wrought iron railings, a chain. A camera. A syringe. Blood, and he didn't want to hurt him. Just needed a breather, just needed them to stop chasing him, just long enough to escape the Menace. A quick flick of a chain, and a burning across his face, then anger, and sudden tenderness. Mulder's wrists under his hands, stopping the blood, warming the cold skin. Fingers slowing, breath quickening. A change from anger to a different kind of pain, and closeness he had never expected. But his eyes. His eyes hated him, ice in the hazel depths, yet another kind of pain to live through.

The top of a mountain. A small car, dangling from a cable. And a man, slumping over a control panel. Quick, squeezing the trigger, then squeezing his eyes shut against the sudden rush of nausea. Look out the window, over at the car, anywhere but at the bits of brain matter and bone scattered across the small working counter, oh god, Mulder again. Up on the car. Delay him. Gotta stop him, didn't know why, shit, no one ever tells him anything anyway. Gotta make sure he's too late. For something. Start the car, enough time already, gotta run. Time's up, Fox, time's up, Alex, run! Run!

The thrashing finally woke him from his wash of memories, jolting his head and wringing a cry of pain from his throat. He squinted into the darkness, seeing a shape in the corner and reacting instinctively. The sheets were thrown aside and he lunged at the shape, knocking it from the chair, turning to run again. The shape moved, faster than he expected, and caught him in the front room as he was heading for the door. In the shadowy light cast by the muted television the shape defined itself as Mulder, holding his arms as he swayed, glaring and smiling at him at the same time, an unusual expression.

"Don't you think you should put on some clothes before you leave, Krycek?"

Alex looked down at the loose sweatpants barely held at his waist with a drawstring, and remembered where he was. Safe. With Mulder. The adrenaline surge receded, leaving him shaking. Mulder caught him as his legs gave out.

"Whoa. Are you okay?" Without waiting for an answer, he half led, half carried him to the sofa and ungracefully dumped him in the corner. Settling himself into the opposite corner, Mulder stared hard at Krycek. "What is it? What did you remember?" Alex stared at him dumbly for a moment, and Mulder continued more gently. There was something about that deer-in-the-headlights look that made him want to be kind with the man, even though his mind wanted him to shoot him. "If you talk about what you saw, maybe you can make some sense of it, and remember a little more."

Krycek stared at him for a moment more, then hesitantly began to describe his dreams. "They were just bits and pieces. I don't know what they meant."

"What did you see?" Calm, undemanding. Psychologist coming to the fore, enemy retreating for the moment.

"A cabled car, leading up to a mountain. I think ... you were on top of it? But that doesn't make sense." Mulder grew still, but Krycek was wrapped in his memories, and didn't notice. "And there was something I had to do, but I didn't want to do it. I felt sick, sick to my stomach, and I had to run." He paused, took a deep breath, and skipped the second disturbing dream fragment, moving back to the first one, the one that he thought didn't directly involve Mulder. "Then I was in a bathroom. Isn't that weird?" Mulder could have been carved from stone at this point, but Krycek still didn't notice. "There was an old man there. He was really shaky, looked like he felt sick. I saw myself in the mirror when he opened the medicine cabinet. I looked surprised. He wasn't supposed to see me! I was listening. For something. I don't remember what. He saw me ... and he smiled at me. Why did he smile at me? I started to say something. He reached out, grabbed my gun." Mulder jerked, and Krycek finally looked at him. The agent's eyes were wide, staring at him with an eerie blankness, and he took a quick gasping breath. "What? Mulder? You okay? What is it?"

Mulder shook his head, one sharp movement, and motioned for him to continue. Keeping a wary eye on the other man, Krycek tried to remember what had happened next. "Sounded really loud. I was panicking. That wasn't supposed to happen. I was gonna get caught, then they'd kill me."

"Who?" The preternaturally calm voice directed Krycek but didn't distract him from his thoughts.

"The Menace. I don't know. He frightens me." The fear in Krycek's voice was real enough, but there was an undercurrent of anger as well, possibly betrayal.

"What happened then, Alex?" the gentle, cool voice prodded.

"Grabbed my gun. I was going to be blamed, they were going to find me." His voice had softened, the diction sharpening, every word clearly enunciated. Something had gone badly wrong, and he didn't know what, but he remembered the wrenching in his gut. "I heard a voice. It sounded like you, but not like you, younger, somehow. The old man, he ... he was smiling at me." He shook himself slightly, the pain from his skull injury bringing him back to himself, and he forced out the last bit he could remember. "Then I shimmied through ... a window? God, it was small, I was in a hurry and it seemed so small." He stopped abruptly, and narrowed his eyes at Mulder. "Does any of this make the slightest bit of sense to you?"

Mulder stared at him for a long, tense moment, then sighed. "Yeah," he finally admitted, "but if I find out you've been bullshitting me I'll shoot you myself, truce or no truce." He seemed more tired than angry to Alex, though, tired and somehow sad.

Alex bit his lip lightly. He wasn't sure he wanted to bring up the last memory he'd had, but he was afraid if he didn't it would drive him crazy. After all, if they had been intimate, why would Mulder hate him so much? "Uhm, Mulder?"

"What?" Not encouraging. He was distracted, by something. Alex took a deep breath and plunged in.

"I had another memory." Shadowed hazel eyes swung over to meet his, and he nearly lost his courage. But he had to know. "What are we? To each other, I mean?"

"Enemies." Mulder's voice was implacable, but his eyes were too carefully blank. He was hiding something, and Krycek knew it had to be about him.

"But were we ever anything else?"

"Partners, once, for a short period of time." Krycek perked up at this, but Mulder's next words caused his eyes to go wide and his breath to catch in his throat. "Until you betrayed me and nearly got Scully killed."

"How?" A strangled whisper.

Mulder paused and stared at him, then shook his head. "You have to remember on your own, Krycek. What else was it in your dream? What prompted all these questions?"

Alex didn't answer him in words. He reached over between them to where Mulder's hand rested on the cushions of the couch. Lifting it, he softly ran one fingertip across the thin white scars ringing Mulder's wrist. "This." Taking advantage of Mulder's apparent shock and frozen stance, he reached across with his free hand and ran the pad of his index finger along the curve of Mulder's cheek, following the angle of the bone to come to rest lightly on his full lower lip. "And this."

Mulder's hand clenched into a fist in his light grip, and he slowly, determinedly pulled his head back from Krycek's touch. "You had to have a truce, Krycek. You used me for bait. We made a deal. Anything else ... was a nightmare."

Alex knew that Mulder was lying, but there was enough truth in his words to make him wonder. Whatever their relationship was, it was too complex for him to understand without access to his own memories. Suddenly tired, he dropped Mulder's wrist and pushed himself shakily up from the couch.

"Whatever your reasons, Mulder, thank you for letting me stay here." His tone was completely sincere. Mulder pursed his lips and made a noncommittal sound. As Krycek wandered back to bed, he thought he heard Mulder mutter, "...sending a lamb to slaughter. A lamb with fangs." For some reason the imagery made him smile, and he slept until morning, undisturbed by further dreams.

*****************************************************

Five days had passed, and the nightmares, or memories, or dreams, or whatever one wanted to call them, had continued. The dizziness was almost gone, popping up at odd moments when he least expected it. The headache had dulled to a background roar, unless he got tired or stressed. He was surprised that he hadn't gotten stir crazy yet, since he was forced to stay inside all day, for fear the Menace would find out where he was hiding. But Mulder was there, too, and he was fascinated by Mulder. And for once, the other man seemed to actually be relaxing around him. Of course, the fact that he was following Mulder around like a lost puppy probably had something to do with it. He was surprised *Mulder* hadn't gone crazy from putting up with *him*.

Then the memories started to hit him during the day.

He was sitting at the cluttered coffeetable, reading the sports page and trying to remember if he liked any of the teams, and if it was normal to remember the names of the positions on a football team but not know if he even liked football. He looked up to ask Mulder a question, when the quiet picture of Mulder, sitting with his feet propped on the end of the table and his wire-rimmed glasses perched on his nose, was replaced with a desperate, red-eyed, stubble-faced Mulder with a gun in his shaking hand, blood running from split knuckles where he had just beaten the crap out of Krycek, and his whole world contracted to a pinpoint of darkness. The barrel of Mulder's gun. 'Did you kill my father? Did you? Did you kill my father?' The anguished words screamed through his head, and he dropped the paper, gripping the edge of the table until his knuckles turned white from the strain. 'He killed my father, Scully!' 'Drop the weapon, Mulder! I have him!' and the sound of a gunshot, pure terror, followed by sheer relief and astonishment when he realized that he had not been shot, that she had shot Mulder. She shot her own partner. He was completely unaware of the whimper that escaped his lips, but it brought Mulder's head up. Mulder focused his attention on the shocked white face and dark green eyes, wild with some remembered mix of fright and adrenaline and sheer terror and the urge to run, the need to hide. Krycek looked like a cornered animal.

Without thought, Mulder laid aside his paperwork and crossed the room to drop to his knees beside Krycek. "Hey, what is it?" he asked softly, careful not to touch or startle the other man. Krycek gasped sharply at the words, coming back from the nightmare vision to stare wide-eyed at Mulder.

"Why'd she shoot you? I didn't shoot your father!" He sounded completely confused.

Mulder swallowed heavily, and closed his eyes for a heartbeat before trying to answer. "Maybe not, but somebody was lacing my drinking water with LSD, somebody, I think--thought it was you, had shot my father, Scully didn't want me to take on a murder rap for shooting you, and you were sneaking around my apartment. I wasn't in the clearest frame of mind, and I didn't -- don't trust you." It sounded completely believable, if he could just ignore the content of the statement and listen to the tone of Mulder's voice. LSD? Murder? Was the old man ... suddenly, he felt his stomach roll. He clenched his jaw against the sick feeling and took a deep breath through his nose.

"That old man. He was your father." A statement, not a question this time.

"Yes," Mulder readily agreed. Krycek stared at the newspapers scattered in front of him for a long moment, then forced himself to meet Mulder's intense eyes.

"I didn't kill him." Complete conviction underlay his words. He remembered that much. He'd killed the cable operator, there on that mountain. He remembered giving a pill to a wild eyed man in an isolated room, then watching him choke to death. He remembered punching a balding man viciously while two others held him still. He knew he was some sort of hired thug, that he was capable of killing. But he hadn't killed the old man. He couldn't hurt Mulder. He didn't know why, he just knew he couldn't.

Mulder held the clear gaze as long as he could, then sighed and settled his back into the front of the couch, stretching his long legs along the side of the table. "I don't know what to believe anymore, Krycek. I just hope you get your memory back pretty soon. The longer you're here, the more danger you put us all in."

Krycek didn't have an answer to that, so he settled down beside Mulder and pulled the paper over to him. Handing the politics section to Mulder, he buried his head back in the sports page. Mulder looked at the newspaper, looked at the man beside him, looked at the paperwork lying abandoned next to his chair, and started to scan the headlines.

***************************************************

It had been quite a week. Mulder was glad for once that he was a paranoiac, because it was good practice for the amount of looking over his shoulder that he was doing since Krycek came to hide out with him. Scully came over every night until she cleared up the last details at the lab, then she took some long overdue vacation herself. Between the two of them, they gently grilled Krycek on every aspect of his life. Bits and pieces began to emerge. His father was dead, his mother estranged from him. He had an older brother, but they didn't have any contact, either. He liked Scully, and she seemed to be softening, when she would get a haunted look in her eyes and freeze up on him again. Mulder was alternately exasperated and patient, the man warring with the psychologist, and he continued to be fascinated by him.

The dizziness gradually abated, and he found himself getting restless for some physical action. He stretched, and without conscious thought went through a Tai Chi workout, a soft one to work himself gradually up to speed. He only realized what had happened when he came out of the last position to see Scully staring at him from one side of the living room and turned to see Mulder staring at him from the other. The quality of the stares was completely different. Scully seemed to be measuring him, her "doctor" look coupled with a need to figure him out. Mulder, on the other hand, was staring at him with the same kind of fascination he had been feeling toward Mulder all week. In a sudden remembrance that brought a gasp to his lips, he remembered that long, lean body writhing under his hands, sweat making his skin glow, a strangely unfocussed glaze to those deep hazel eyes. His hands dropped, and he took a step toward Mulder. The other man jolted from his thoughts and leaned back in his chair.

"Krycek?" Scully's sharp voice spun him around, and the world shifted again.

Dark room. Light furniture, comfortable, but not tonight. Tonight it was deadly. A trap. Two guns, two men, one unsuspecting victim. His heartrate speeding up, he hated the waiting, hated this part of the job. Didn't want to think about what this would do to Mulder. Heard the key in the lock, red hair tumbling around her face as she came through the door. Started to squeeze the trigger, but something held him back. Noise ripped from the other corner, and her body slammed back with the impact, then fell forward in a crumpled heap. No sound, other than the silencer coughing in the dark. He came forward, gun at the ready, finger off the trigger. Felt her shoulder with his toe, rolled her limp body toward the light, watched the curls fall back from a pretty face, a sweet face, the wrong face. His stomach clenched, and he bit back the curses with difficulty. 'Not her.' Oh shit. She was dead. So was he. They didn't know, the Menace hadn't found that little secret. Or had he? Was this his punishment for getting too close?

Dana's face, yet not Dana's face. He gasped for breath, his hand going to his head, the dizziness back with a vengeance. Why the hell had she been there?

"Steady, Krycek. I think you're trying to do too much too fast." Mulder's strong arm behind him, bringing him to her. Oh, god, no wonder she hated him.

Scully leaned over him to look into his eyes, feeling his skin, checking his pulse. He stared at her with something like horror.

"Lissa." The word was more of a croak than a whisper, but the effect was immediate. Scully dropped his wrist as if he had burnt her.

Mulder was instantly at her side. "Scully? You okay? What's wrong?"

Scully was staring at Krycek as if he was a particularly poisonous snake. Without looking at her partner, she forced out, "Missy." A shudder ran through her body, then she took Krycek's face in her hands, making him keep his eyes locked to hers. "What happened, Krycek?" Her voice was cold, and hard, and shaking just the slightest bit.

"We were at your apartment. An ambush." Mulder stiffened and moved closer, but neither of the others noticed, too caught up in the tension between them. "Weasel was in the far corner. I was in the kitchen. She came in and he fired." He stopped, his throat constricting, and she prompted him by the simple expedient of clenching her fist in his hair and shaking him. Tears came to his eyes, but he swallowed and started talking. "I didn't. Wrong target. I didn't realize who she was until ... it was over. I ... turned her over to see her face and it was ... Lissa."

"You knew her?" Mulder's voice was incredulous.

"Yeah." Pain, and regret, and something indefinable in his answer.

Scully unwound her fingers from his hair and sank into the cushions beside Alex. Taking a deep, calming breath, she stared up at Mulder. "Missy had been seeing someone. No one in the family had met him, but that was Missy. Her own business. She called him Michael." She paused and looked at Krycek.

"My middle name," he responded dully.

Mulder crouched down in front of his dazed friend and equally dazed enemy. "Did you know it was her?" This to Krycek, wondering at his willingness to admit his attempt to murder Scully.

"God, no," Krycek growled, scrubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands. "But, I don't know. Maybe he did. Maybe this was my punishment for fucking up with your father."

"No," Scully managed to whisper. Both men looked at her. "He'd have no way of knowing. She was on her way to my house, but he wouldn't have known that."

"Maybe he tapped your phone." Krycek sounded calm, but his eyes were tormented.

"So you think it was you he was setting up? Not Scully?"

"You're trying to tell me that my sister was the target?" Scully shook her head. "I don't believe it."

"No, you were the target. But he wasn't disappointed that it was Lissa who got ... killed. One more weapon to use against me, against you."

"Let me get this straight," Mulder interjected. "You were somehow involved with Scully's sister?" He seemed to be having a hard time with that idea.

"Uh-huh. It was not the swiftest thing I've ever done, considering all the back history and my relationship with you two-"

"And the fact that you were sent to kill her sister-"

"-but she was, I don't know. She was special."

"Yes. She was." Scully stared off into the distance, far removed from the others.

"She caught me, one day, I was tailing Scully for some reason, I don't remember what it was. They went to a crystal shop-"

"I bought dreamcatcher earrings for her."

"-and Mulder picked you up. Lissa saw me and came right up to me. It was the weirdest thing. She just looked at me, and seemed to look right through me."

"Yeah, she did things like that," Mulder smiled in spite of himself.

"She gave me this little piece of onyx, told me I needed protection. I found myself talking to her, she was ... interesting, and bright. And pretty. And we started seeing each other, not much, just every once in awhile." His eyes focused on the bright red hair of the woman beside him. "Playing with fire."

"Only you weren't the one who got burned, Krycek, she was." Scully turned to face him, and stopped, recognizing the pain in his leaf green eyes.

"Yeah. I was. She ... I'm sorry, Scully."

The room fell silent, each wrapped in their own thoughts, the bubbling of the fish tank the only sound they heard. Finally, Mulder leaned back into the chair and sighed.

"I'm sorry, too, Krycek, but not sorry that you didn't hit your original target."

Scully seemed to realize that she was sitting thigh to thigh with the man her sister had been sleeping with and who had just admitted to setting her up to be killed. For some reason, she didn't feel much of an urge to run. Perhaps it was the undoubted pain he was in, or perhaps it was the odd fact that, whatever the past might have held, they were on the same side now. He hadn't killed Mulder's father, if he was to be believed, and not only had he not killed Missy, he'd apparently been her lover. Her head hurt from trying to sort it all out. But one fact was glaringly obvious. To get to the man who was truly responsible for her sister's death and her abduction, she would use anyone and anything she could. She glanced measuringly at the man sitting beside her, head bowed slightly in pain.

"Then what happened, Krycek?" Softly spoken, the question slipped past his built-in defenses, and he found himself answering Mulder, the memories flowing back more surely this time.

"Got the tape from Skinner. It was in my pocket, the next day, I'd slipped in to see Lissa, made sure no one saw me. She looked so peaceful. Like she was sleeping." He didn't seem to hear the slight choking sound from Scully, and continued his story. "A couple hours after I saw her, the team hit Skinner in the stairwell, got the tape from him. We were in the car the next morning, and they both went over to get something to drink from the 7-11. But I noticed that the clock was blinking, and they looked really nervous. I saw them, in the rear view mirror, looked like they were watching the car, waiting for something. And the clock was blinking at me. And I knew. Took off running as soon as it hit me, and the car blew up behind me." Both agents sucked in their breath, but he continued, oblivious, caught up in his remembered fear and anger. "I ran, and ran, and stopped just long enough to call the double crossing son of a bitch and tell him to back off or he'd be famous. But I knew he couldn't back off. He had to kill me." He stopped abruptly and looked first at Scully, then at Mulder, letting his eyes linger on the angular face for a long moment. "I've been running ever since."

"Do you still have the tape?" Scully sounded remarkably composed, considering everything she'd learned that night. But he saw the tangle of emotions in her eyes, and knew she would have a lot to think about. Right now, though, she was willing to work with him. He would take it while he could.

"Yeah. It's my insurance."

"Ours, too," Mulder mused. "Only we're using codetalkers and storytellers to keep the information." Krycek nodded approval. "So, you remember now?"

"Most of it, I think. There are still ... holes." He looked at Mulder a bit uncertainly. There had been a man, holding a pipe over Mulder's face, about to strike. He'd been torn in two -- save Mulder? Go after the other man, the one he could use against the Menace? The pipe began to descend and his body made the decision for his mind, stepping forward, shooting the man, protecting Mulder. He didn't know exactly why it had been so important, was still so important to him to keep Mulder safe. But it was. Even now. "Enough to know that I shouldn't be here. You were right. The longer I stay the more risk I am to you, to both of you."

Scully stared calmly at him. "Where will you go?"

"And what can you tell us that we can use? And believe?" Mulder sounded equally calm, but his narrowed eyes gave him away. He still didn't trust Krycek, but part of him wanted to. Badly.

"Not as much as you'd like, or me either, for that matter." He rolled his shoulders, trying to work out some of the tension.

"I think it's time we extended the definition of this truce, Alex."

"What are you asking?" It was Krycek's turn to sound suspicious, eyes roving from one agent to the other, and Scully followed up on Mulder's comment.

"You don't trust us. We don't trust you. We have a common enemy." She took a deep breath and flashed back on the tense meeting in the warehouse almost eight months before. "I think it's time we worked together."

Krycek studied her determined face for a long time, finally satisfied that the hatred and anger had dissipated enough that he would be able to trust her ... at least far enough not to kill him when his guard was down. He turned to Mulder, eyes drinking in the pale, set face, wanting with a ferocity that startled him to know the secrets somehow held between them. He knew, in time, he would, but he wanted them now. He took a ragged breath and forced a smile, shaky, but more sincere than any he'd been able to offer them before.

"Works for me."

Mulder reached for his small recorder, but Krycek shook his head.

"No. Too dangerous, to both of us." He turned to Scully. "Can I borrow your laptop?" Scully exchanged glances with Mulder, then nodded. She went into the kitchen to retrieve her briefcase and Mulder leaned back in his chair, regarding Krycek unblinkingly.

"What will you give us?" His voice was soft, creating a pool of intimacy between the two of them. Krycek swallowed, his throat tight. Whatever it was, it was strong, and heavy, and very complex. He half smiled. And it had been good.

Shaking himself back to the present, he answered simply, "Everything I remember."

Mulder's eyes widened. "Everything?"

"You don't have to trust me. This is partial payback for you taking me in ... and partly to cement my side of the partnership. I need your help, Mulder. Yours and Scully's. And I can help you." His eyes pled with Mulder to accept him on this one, to give a little, and something in the agent responded. Against his better judgment, he nodded.

"You're on." Scully entered the room and set the small laptop computer up on the coffeetable. "So, type."

Mulder's small grin surprised an answering smile from Krycek, and he slid off the couch to settle comfortably on the floor in front of the table. As he stared at the glowing screen and organized his thoughts, Scully curled into the corner of the couch to watch him. He glanced up at her, and she offered him a serious, but not hostile, glance.

"This won't be easy."

"No," he agreed, "it won't."

"But it just might be worth it."

"Especially if we can finally get rid of that black lunged son of a bitch," Mulder growled.

"My hope exactly," Krycek chimed in, then bent to the keyboard.

Over the soft clatter of keys, Scully reiterated, "Where will you go?"

"A hiding place I know. I don't think they know about it yet." He didn't seem worried about it, concentrating on his typing. She nodded slowly. He thought he would be safe. It would have to do. And the sooner the better.

Mulder brooded in his chair, watching the bright head of his partner, the darker silk of Alex at her knee. He had deep misgivings about this odd partnership they were entering, but on another level it seemed almost fated. He just couldn't seem to get rid of Alex Krycek, no matter how hard he tried. Krycek seemed to feel the weight of Mulder's stare on his face, and glanced up. Whatever he saw there made him catch his breath in a tiny gasp, unheard, but felt by the man across the room. Mulder dropped his eyes to the papers he shuffled from the file beside him, and steadfastly tried to ignore him.

Alex riveted his eyes back to the screen, his fingers flying over the keys. As the incriminating sentences took shape, he analyzed his actions, and came up with a fact he hadn't wanted to face. The underlying need he had to form this partnership was only secondarily due to self protection, a first for him, since that had been his primary concern for as far back as his admittedly damaged memory stretched. But it wasn't now. His true reason for starting this insane course was because he had to discover the reasons he felt compelled to protect Mulder. And along the way, he might just be able to answer his own question.

What was Fox Mulder to him?

***************the end***************************************