Gifts

by Cherusha


Title: Gifts
Author: Cherusha
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not even for a little while. Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Mulder/Krycek (is there any other g) Summary: Memory's a funny thing...
Note: Originally written for the XF lyric wheel, 'War for the Worlds' edition.


Memory's a funny thing. It's like a little file cabinet fitted in your brain that catalogs each image, each event, person, place into their appropriate folders:

May 1978, October 1994, December 1999...

And it's always there, waiting for you. And when you do decide to pull out these folders, you get absorb once more the familiarities of colors and sights and sound streaming across your mind like segments of film. The pieces of your life.


At first they locked me in a room because they couldn't decide what to do with me. I was the first one to have ever been returned, or rather, the first one they found, who wasn't too far damaged as to change into one of Them. They had me completely sequestered for weeks while they argued amongst themselves over how much of a danger I was to them by being there or if I would even be of any use to them in the long run.

But then they decided to send him in to question me. And there were these sessions each day where he'd ask me endless questions about people I didn't know, and get me to look at pages of documents I never remembered to be involved in. And, supposedly, these complicated building diagrams; these strange and detailed reports of alien-hybrid experiments were of the utmost importance, and it was imperative that I remember. But the harder I tried to concentrate, the more I felt myself sinking into the white blankness of my mind.

He used to get more and more angry with me as the sessions wore on; when it looked increasingly certain that I wouldn't remember. And I could tell by the thinly veiled looks he flashed disgustedly my way that he thought I wasn't cooperating on purpose.

But he doesn't know.

He doesn't know that I'd spent hours lying awake at night crying, frustrated and angry because I didn't even know my own name. He can't see the suffocating emptiness taking over while I wait patiently for the unconscious nothingness to finally engulf me like a welcome blanket.

He's not me, so he doesn't understand. Which is why he dragged me roughly over to the window and ordered me to look outside. The wasteland stretched out before my eyes, an endless field of death and decay.

And he was talking to me, pointing out things. That there - that used to be a children's playground, and that - that used to be a successful real estate agency, and there used to be trees and flowers and a sky that was blue and goddamn everyday people living out there goddamn inane, everyday lives. And I wanted to shrink into the floor because he would glare at me with such bitter intensity in his eyes; it was enough to start forest fires.

And he told me that I helped Them do this; make the world this way. He said I helped Them hurt innocent people, that I killed people. That I deserved worse than what I got.

I didn't know what to do. I wanted to be able to deny everything. I wanted him to shut up. I wanted to disappear, to get away from that look in his eyes. But he made me sit still while he continued, forcing me to look at him while he talked.

He told me I had been broken and They put me back together again, like pieces of a puzzle. And he asked me if I knew how They did this. There had been a strange, almost sadistic look in his eyes that made me suddenly feel very afraid.

And then he told me.

That I wasn't human.

I heard myself repeating those words. I'm not human.

When They'd taken me, They injected a part of Themselves into my body. And that was how I'd survived. It was fitting, he told me, because my body was now just as contaminated as my mind.

Then he proceeded to check off names - names that apparently had once meant something to me. He fired them like bullets at my head: Consortium, Project, Spender, Black Oil... He asked me if the name Fox Mulder meant anything to me.

The look in his eyes was fatal.

With an untraceable but dawning certainty, I realized he was talking about himself. The feeling was both uplifting and frightening. Nervously, I asked him if he was Fox Mulder and waited for the explosive response. His eyes narrowed impossibly for a second, as if in assessment.

But then, all of a sudden, his face contorted with strained laughter. And he asked me that, since I started remembering again, if I also remembered betraying him. No? He said, then how about killing his father? Because if not, he promised me that he'd gladly help me come to remember just who I was.

I sat there a long time after he left. All I could think of was, I'm Alex Krycek. I'm Alex Krycek the spy, the assassin, the Russian operative and betrayer of mankind.

Krycek, my name is Krycek. It sounded strange and unfamiliar on my tongue. But it did finally allow me to identify myself. I'm Alex Krycek. Hello, nice to meet you, Krycek. Krycek? Alex. Alexander.

Al?

There was a mirror in my room, and I examined myself - my features - in front of it, wondering who my parents were. Russian immigrants. Did I look like them? Did I have my father's nose and my mother's eyes? Were they strict parents, or did they let me do anything I wanted? Did I love them? Did they love me back?

And are they now dead like all the others?

I imagined myself coming from a loving family and raised in comfortable middle-class suburbs. I made myself a younger sister and a younger brother who worshipped me and who grew up to become doctors and teachers. But this scenario seemed too laughably happy and peaceful for someone like me.

So maybe I didn't have any parents at all. Maybe I was not born in a womb, but grown inside a petri dish in some nameless Consortium laboratory, and trained for the Project since birth. And maybe I was just one number in a line of a hundred Alex Kryceks produced specially for the Consortium.

But are any of these possible Alex Kryceks really me? It felt like Mulder had just been telling me the life story of a complete stranger. Because if our memory is the thing that dictates who we are, then my identity is a blank slate. If this is the case, then Alex Krycek is truly dead, and I am only the evocation of his image, just a ghost in the world.

And this would be the case if not for Mulder. For some enigmatic reason, I remember him. I don't know if it's my brain just tricking me with illusions or if it's because he's the person I see the most - he was practically the only person I had contact with - or if he's somehow the most important person in the world to me. A not-quite shiver went through me at that thought.

Of course, I don't remember a whole lot about him. And the things I do remember are peculiar. I remember that he only goes by Mulder. And that he wears hideous ties. And that he's the most paranoid person I'd ever met - as well as the smartest.

Like the bursting of a flood, images and fragments of movies whirl through my mind.

He's standing next to a short woman with fiery red hair.

He's slamming me against walls, against cars, against phone booths. I guess we really are - were - enemies.

But then he's talking to me about... something. And there's a relaxed casualness about him that suggests that maybe, at one time, we didn't hate each other, maybe were even friends.

I don't think I've ever been as happy as the day I started remembering. I probably smiled even.

But when I told Mulder that my memory was coming back, he seemed skeptical and wasn't at all as pleased as I had hoped. Nevertheless, I kept remembering things; like how my mother used to brush her hair in front of the mirror every morning, how beautiful she was but how sad she looked. I remembered my first crush, and the man they called Spender, and Russia in the summer.

But none of this mattered to Mulder and his superiors because I hadn't started remembering anything substantial about the Project. And Mulder seemed more than a little angry that I couldn't remember how I had betrayed him, how I'd killed his father.

And feeling this, I'd get an odd lump in the back of my throat, knowing how much I'd hurt him, how much he hurts still.

During one of our sessions, he'd shown me a picture of the red-haired woman I was talking about. Scully, he had said simply. She's... gone.

I looked at the picture. She was a singularly attractive woman with beautiful blue eyes. In the picture, she was giving the camera a tight smile of controlled amusement. I could almost see her about to roll her eyes.

And there was nothing to support this, but I think that the old Krycek immensely respected this woman, maybe even admired her. I could definitely tell why Mulder liked her. I wondered if they had been lovers, if he loved her. Did the emptiness he felt when he lost her parallel with the emptiness of losing one's memory?

I'm sorry, I said, and he quickly snatched the photo away from me. That's rich, coming from you, he retorted angrily, and I winced at his accusatory expression.

Then he told me that I didn't get it. That it was supposed to be her, not me. That she was supposed to be the one to come back to him. So why is she gone and I'm still here?

Why you, he'd shouted, tears streaming down his face.

But I didn't have the answer to that. And seeing him like this made me want to go make things right for him, even if it meant trading in my own life, so long as he got back his Scully. Instead, all I could do was sit quietly beside him while he finished crying. I had a feeling he hadn't allowed himself to grieve for a long time.

He told me that he couldn't even give her a proper burial because They had killed her and then taken away her body. And afterwards, They'd even offered him a deal, promising to give her back if he joined with Them. But he just couldn't do it; sign over himself to Them. Even for her.

And now she was gone forever.

I wanted so much to comfort him, but how could anyone who'd lost a loved one be comforted? All I could do was sit quietly beside him while he poured out his grief. Watch silently while he frantically wiped away stray droplets that had splattered onto the photograph he cradled so preciously in his hands.

By then, it was well past midnight, but we continued to sit there for a long time, neither of us speaking.

The topic of what had happened that night never came up again. Mulder especially wanted to make a show as if nothing at all had happened, which was fine by me. That brief shift in our understood relationship was somewhat unnerving, and it was just easier on us both emotionally to revert back to familiar grounds.

And so, the established routine of my days became pervasive once again.

But when I finally started remembering bits and pieces of potentially useful information, the superiors decided to officially integrate me into their order. For a long time they had been wary to employ me on their missions, given who I was, given my history. But I had had extensive training, most of which by that time had come back to me, and I proved to be an efficient learner. So in the end they decided to use me.

They sent me on some of the most dangerous missions. On the surface the reasoning was that my alien DNA made it possible for me to bare the harsh environments outside the wasteland, where the colonies were. But the other reason was that they didn't fully trust me to not switch sides on them midway, to blackmail or give away their secrets. The danger missions mostly consisted of scouting out locations and spying Their movements or stealing information from various databases - things far removed from the internal framework of the resistance.

I saw Mulder less and less as time went on; our sessions had halted, and I was being sent out on more and more assignments. Occasionally though, they did partner us together, and I think those were the happiest times for me, relatively speaking. Why exactly, I don't know. Mulder still hung onto our bitter history like it was a lifeline, so anytime we were together, he retained his usual level of professional tolerance laced with subtle contempt. Nevertheless, together we worked as efficiently as a well-oiled machine.

And I really did enjoy spending time with him over anybody else. Other people tended to regard me more as an important tool than as a person, and they praised me when I was useful to them and ignored me completely when I was not. At least with Mulder I knew where I stood.

But I had sometimes wondered what he felt about me, exactly. There were times when we worked together that I felt he really respected my opinions. The high tensions that had permeated our earlier meetings had gradually given way to a more relaxing atmosphere.

And once or twice, it even felt like he liked me as his friend. One time, I had made a comment about one of his plans, and he'd given me this funny look. When I asked about it, he simply said that I'd reminded him of our partnership in the old days.

And then he gave me this small, wistful smile; one that made him look beautiful. I thought of that smile for days.

Looking back now, I think that that moment marked the start to some kind of new beginning for us. Almost imperceptivity, our partnership began to transcend professional boundaries. We started seeing each other for more than just to talk business.

He'd come to my room, and sometimes we'd talk for hours about nothing in particular. And sometimes we didn't talk at all, but just quietly take comfort in each other for a while.

And once, when I'd been badly injured from a mission, he was there to see me through my recovery. One of the nurses had told me that he was at my bedside for days while I had lain there unconscious, hooked up to machinery. A surge of... gratitude, hope, elation, and something else washed over me. The feeling at that moment was nothing I could describe with words.

I went to see him as soon as I was discharged. I wanted to thank him for watching over me. But he got embarrassed and distracted when I started mentioning it, so I quickly changed the subject.

Our conversation, however, took a steady downward spiral, and we ended up talking about the war and about how bleak the outcome became for us with each passing day. How people were dying every day, and how only last week one of our outlying bases fell to infection.

Mulder told me that sometimes he wanted to just give up on everything, to finally admit that this was a war we'd never win. And he'd wondered if the world was truly worth living in anymore.

I wanted to say that yes, of course the world was worth living in. Because there is you, and you exist. And somehow this simple fact alone is enough that I would continue to live in this world even with its misery and decay, even if They finally do come for us, even when Death comes knocking at my door.

Because a world with you is beautiful, and I would have lived in a beautiful world. And I want...

But then he turned to me, and there was a strange gleam in his eyes. And it was as if he had my thoughts. There was another time I felt this way, he said softly. He looked at me carefully. Do you remember that time when you gave me your gun?

My heartbeat started thumping at a hundred miles per hour.

But instead of answering his question, I leaned forward and whispered in his ear - this time in English - the bittersweet words I had spoken once before. A lifetime ago.

And when I drew back, I found that our hands were interlaced.

I looked up and found him smiling at me. Jokingly he said, but last time you kissed me. And I had started to laugh, but he tugged me forward.

I laughed into his mouth.

(end)

A/N: Thanks to Lady Midath for the lyrics!

anthem of our dying day
by big blue monkey

The stars will cry
The blackest tears tonight
And this is the moment that I live for
I can smell the ocean air
And here I am
Pouring my heart onto these rooftops
Just a ghost to the world
That's exactly
Exactly what I need
From up here the city lights burn
Like a thousand miles of fire
And I'm here to sing this anthem
Of our dying day
For a second I wish the tide
Would swallow every inch of this city
As you gasp for air tonight
I'd scream this song right in your face If you were here
I swear I wont miss a beat
Cause I never
Never have before
From up here the city lights burn
Like a thousand miles of fire
And I'm here to sing this anthem
Of our dying day
Of our dying day
Of our dying day
Of our dying!!!
For a second I wish the tide
Would swallow every inch of this city
And you gasp for air tonight!!
From up here the city lights burn
Like a thousand miles of fire
And I'm here to sing this anthem
Of our dying day
From up here the city lights burn
Like a thousand miles of fire
And I'm here to sing this anthem
Of our dying day
From up here the city lights burn
Like a thousand miles of fire
And I'm here to sing this anthem
Of our dying day
Our dying day
Of our dying!!!
 

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