21 September 1998
The first in a series of Spender/Pendrell fics that take place in my Mythos AU. Thanks for the beta work by Elizabeth and the comments from other talented folks who know who they are.
One note: This story contains minimal back story from a long story-arc that I'm just starting to work on, it's sort of a portent of things past. It has a bunch of action, a bit of slashy stuff, and some slight schmoop. Part two coming very soon.
Comments welcome as always.
Drovar

Title: Acranon Part 1 (was Fortune Cookie of Death)
Author/pseudonym: Drovar
Email: drovar@mediaone.net
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: XF
Pairings: Spender/Pendrell
Date: 9/9/98
Website: The Ferret Cage
URL: http://www.ferret-cage.com/
Summary: An answer to Carol Stoneburner's Fortune Cookie challenge on X/Story
Category: was Slash/humor-action. Now? Slash-action-x-file (Mythos AU)
Warnings: Only if you don't like weasels & lab-mice
Disclaimers: They're mine dammit, well not really, but it'd be awfully nice. Still standard disclaimers apply. I'm not trying to steal these characters from their rightful owners. (I wonder how much of a bribe it would take though?)
Notes: Another Spender/Pendrell story, it was meant to be a quick answer to a funny idea. It has become entirely something else. Thanks to Elizabeth for a slash-writer's public beta, her rock solid word-sense was very helpful. Still any shortcomings are mine alone. Features Jeffrey Spender SUPERagent. This started out as humorous action caper featuring weasel & mouse, only to veer off into a deadly serious game of pursuit. It also landed with a resounding plop into the Mythos universe. So here it is my first ever Mythos story. I've tried to fill in some back-story about the Cadre but I've had to leave much unsaid. Thanks to Carol Stoneburner for the original inspiration, even if this is totally not what she had in mind.


Jeffrey Spender enjoyed the thrill of the chase. Even if it was just trying to snag an errant snow pea with a chopstick. He cornered the errant vegetable next to the remains of his Sweet & Sour chicken and speared it. Quickly downing the morsel, he snagged a fortune cookie and looked across the table at his dinner partner, while he unwrapped the confection.

Sean Pendrell was eagerly mopping up bits of his dinner with the sloppy remains of an egg roll. He popped the soy sauce soaked mess into his mouth and chewed happily. He caught Spender's eye across the table, gave him a sated grin, smiling happily, without ego, or guile and raised the last dregs of his tea in a mock toast.

Spender grinned back. He popped a piece of his cookie into his mouth and munched as he unfurled his fortune. He smiled ruefully at the cellophane bag sitting at Pendrell's elbow. Pendrell had insisted, at length, on taking a bag home. Spender hefted the bag regarding the bland brown cookies doubtfully. He couldn't imagine Pendrell actually liking the nearly tasteless things.

He was about to ask Pendrell exactly why he wanted them when the red-haired agent popped his entire cookie into his mouth. Spender watched with amusement, then growing interest as Pendrell rolled the morsel around making luscious sounds as he mouthed the large cookie, turning it over and over with his tongue while staring straight across the table into Spender's widening eyes.

Spender felt that familiar warmth and sudden tightness of arousal he felt whenever Sean got 'playful'. The man could be damned embarrassing. Spender didn't want deal with this right now. Not here in the restaurant, sparsely populated with late night browsers, dawdling over menus and lingering over lukewarm coffees, as it was. But when Sean got into full 'slut-mode' he could be incorrigible.

Spender took a quick look to see if anyone had seen Pendrell's embarrassing antics. No one seemed to notice or care what they were doing. A desultory gaggle of high-school kids occupied a booth along the restaurant's long main wall. A shabby, stringy-haired man of indeterminate age sat in the nearest booth. Spender noted that he was locked in an intense whispered conversation on his cellular phone.

Spender felt vulnerable without his cell-phone or gun. Wean had demanded that they be left in the rental car. Vacations were vacations, he had insisted, not the place for guns or phones. Spender had reluctantly left both behind.

Pendrell cracked the cookie in his teeth and grinned as he reached up and slowly pulled the small strip of paper out, tugging at it gently with his lips as it slid between them. He pulled the damp paper completely out and turned it over to read.

"What does yours say Jeff?

Spender started. He'd been concentrating on calming his upstart libido and had forgotten the fortune cookie's paper prognostication. He dropped the bag of cookies into his lap and oriented the slip of paper so he could read it. Instead of some inane generalization about travel, love or career it had a small single word message.

Duck!

Quack, was his immediate thought.

Duck? What did that mean?

He looked up at his dinner partner, intending to ask him about his fortune. Pendrell's eyes were cast over Spender's shoulder, his expression rapidly changing from confusion to fearful surprise. Spender heard the soft scuff of a chair on carpet . . . someone standing . . . a metallic click.

Spender reacted, dodging forward into an open space to his right, dragging Pendrell with him and pulling the table up behind them. The shooter's first bullet went high, shattering the restaurant's large front window. People began to scream and run, moving away from the gunman, thankfully.

Spender could see the stringy-haired assassin approaching the overturned table, gun pointed forward. They were trapped in an alcove, next to the coffee pot island. Luckily the table was large and gave them some cover from the attacker. Spender cursed at the thought of both their guns and phones locked securely in the trunk of the car. He'd have to do this the hard way. The man advanced closer, foolishly at ease, already counting his bounty. Spender could see Pendrell moving around awkwardly in the back of the alcove, the unexpected tumble had apparently stunned him.

Spender reached up and grasped a coffeepot handle; taking care to stay shielded from the gunman's sight. It wasn't much of a weapon, not against an armed, trained assassin, but it would have to do.

Another step, just one more, he thought.

The shooter thoughtfully dipped the barrel of his gun downward as he grabbed the edge of the table and pulled. Spender leaped up, slamming his foot into the table, bringing it down hard onto the man's shin. He was satisfied by the shooter's scream, and the meaty scrape of skin and tendon giving way beneath the table's hard edge. Spender applied his weight to the table as it gouged deeply into the man's shin. He slammed his right hand into the gun forcing it upward and sending the next bullet into the ceiling.

The gunman tried to pull away, cursing, his greater weight was beginning to pull Spender off balance. Spender kicked forward, the broad base of his shoe slamming into the man's wounded leg. The shooter screamed again and fought to bring the gun down to Spender's level. He screamed once more before Spender brought the steaming pot of coffee slamming into his left temple. The assassin finally crumbled into a bloody steaming heap. Spender grabbed the assassin's gun and turned to check on Pendrell.

"Sean?" Spender pushed the tumbled chairs away and knelt down. His knee crunched down on another fortune cookie as he checked Sean for injury. No spreading bloodstains or broken bones from what he could see just knocked silly during the tumble. Pendrell groaned slightly as he sat up, rubbing a sizable lump on his forehead.

"Jeff, what happened?"

"I'm not sure." Spender answered, as he looked back, making sure the gunman was still out, and checking the gun's clip. Four shot's left, not much, but it was better than nothing. Maybe they'd gotten lucky and the moron was acting alone.

"Cadre assassins, maybe" he said.

"Cadre, here?" Pendrell's face flushed with a mixture of anger and anxiety.

"Yeah, maybe" Spender replied, thinking of the precognizant fortune cookie. Things always get a little weird when those guys are around."

He helped the shaky Pendrell to his feet and brushed the crushed cookie crumbs from his knee. Pendrell still clutched the bag of fortune cookies that had somehow survived the ordeal. Spender picked an errant fortune off his knee and was about to crumble the miscreant up and toss it when the words caught hie eye. He steadied Pendrell against his side, momentarily enjoying the contact of solid flesh, and took a closer look.


Four approaching
Leave kitchen

"Aw shit," he spat. He took a quick look out the broken window; a dark van was just turning into the parking lot. He started herding the only slightly mobile Pendrell toward the kitchen doors.

"Come on Sean, we've got to move." Pendrell's movements seemed heavy and lethargic, as if he were carrying some great weight on his back. Spender wondered if that bump on the head might be more serious than it looked. However, there was no time to think about that, not with a truckload of Cadre goons hauling ass in their direction.

Spender pushed the burnished kitchen doors open and dragged Pendrell inside. He could hear the thudding tread of the hired Cadre guns as they funneled into the restaurant. He only hoped the patrons had made their escape while they could. Chances were that the assassins wouldn't shoot bystanders if they could avoid it. He and Pendrell were the targets. Best to lead the killers away and just maybe find some way to avoid ending up dead.

Spender quickly surveyed the kitchen. Typical restaurant conditions, not so clean, not dirty enough to make you sick. More importantly there were no Cadre assassins and no civilians. There was a phone mounted to the back wall. Spender fought down an urge to leap at the phone, screaming for rescue. He could hear the gunmen quickly making their way through the restaurant, toward the kitchen. Trapped, boxed in, they'd be dead before he got a call out.

'C'mon Sean," he whispered. You've got to help me here."

Pendrell's only answer was to moan softly and lean against Spender, his voice rising briefly above an inarticulate mumble. Spender searched the back of the kitchen franticly, looking for an escape, even an option. A small alcove behind a group of tall bread racks held a water fountain, restrooms and an employee lounge.

"Can't go, need . . . want sleep."

"Not now, Sean!" Spender hissed. He was trying to instill some sense of the peril they were in without raising his voice above a few sparse decibels.

"We've got to get out of here."

Spender felt Pendrell's weight sinking toward the floor. He'd become progressively more lifeless as the last precious moments slipped away. Outside he could hear that the assassins had grown silent. Spender knew he and Pendrell had only moments of life before the Cadre assassins flooded the kitchen with gunfire.

He could hear the careless mumbling of the hired guns as they argued over killing rights, just outside the kitchen door. He felt Pendrell's hand on his thigh. A quick, effervescent thrill shook him. Even after all this time, Pendrell's touch never failed to arouse him, even facing death or worse.

Pendrell was holding up a fortune from one of the cookies in his bag. Spender was surprised to see that Pendrell still held the cellophane package clasped tightly to his chest. Spender grabbed the paper.


Backdoor Lounge
Alleyway right

Spender grabbed Pendrell under the arms and began dragging him toward the lounge. He could see that Pendrell had slipped into unconsciousness, as if producing the fortune had consumed the very last of his energy. He reached the door as the Cadre assassins burst into the kitchen, guns firing.

He pushed into the lounge as bullets filled the small alcove. He felt chips shattering off the old painted cinder blocks as the bullets rained in. He felt slicing pain as one chip sliced across his face opening his right cheek in a slurry of blood. Spender fought down the pain and forced the door open only to scream as he felt something slam into his right shoulder. His gun flew from his numbed fingers and clattered onto the alcove floor.

He caught a glimpse of the exit door as the force of the shot spun him around, breaking his grip on Pendrell, and spilling them both to the floor. The lounge door swung slowly closed as cadre gunfire continued to flood the alcove. The assassins couldn't see that they had almost accomplished their mission.

Seconds Jeff, keep your act together for just two more fucking seconds, he scolded himself. The lounge door loomed ahead of him, swimming wildly in a lake of flowing pink. He could just make out a locking-latch on the door. God, he hurt.

I'm . . . we're bleeding.

He crawled over Pendrell's bloody body. He didn't have time to check whose blood it was. He threw the latch closed, locked it, and grabbed Pendrell, as best he could, under the arms again. He began to scoot, half on one knee, half on his ass, toward the exit door.

He finally reached the door as the gunfire subsided. Spender pushed ineffectually at the latch, trying to force the door open. He was losing both blood and strength, rapidly. He slammed his left forearm against the latch, and felt it budge. A second slam forced the latch and the two men tumbled over into the dark alleyway.

Through the mist of his own blood he could see a pair of dumpsters and huge piles of pallets filling the alley, effectively hiding the exit door. Spender grabbed Pendrell and pulled. He felt Pendrell's, seemingly lifeless body slide a few inches. He pulled again and felt a torrent of relief as Pendrell moaned slightly when an open cut on his arm scraped against the doorframe.

"We aren't going down like this, Sean," Spender whispered to Pendrell as he leaned forward and rocked back, gaining a few precious inches. "Not like this, not now. Not after all the shit we've been through."

Thoughts of his mother, lost in the fight, along with nearly all Scully's and Mulder's families, momentarily overwhelmed him. The cadre, fucking mind assassins, had run them down, one by one. They were caught as they went about their lives, unaware that death was stalking very close.

He scooted back and was pulling Pendrell's feet free of the doorway when a cadre gunman kicked the inner lounge door open. Spender yanked and allowed himself just a second of hope as Pendrell's feet finally came clear and the door began to swing shut.

Spender yanked, feeling the first shards of pain in his numb shoulder, and dragged Pendrell along as he staggered to a crouch. Bullets ricocheted off the door as Spender scrambled away as fast as possible. He veered to the right side of the door, dragging the unresponsive Pendrell, remembering the fortune's cryptic instructions.

The back door to the restaurant slammed open and disgorged a tangle of angry, black-clad bodies into the night. Spender felt a moment of vertigo, as the Cadre gunmen raised their weapons to fire. He thought that here at the last a blood-drained faint would spare him the final agony of death. Then they were falling.

The dim square of starlit night shrank away as Spender felt the nothingness of the fall. Time seemed to expand as they fell, stretching out in long taut threads. There was one brief moment of pain, and the realization of landing, that was swept away in the deeper dark of unconsciousness.

End Part 1


Drovar

 


 

22 September 1998
Title: Acranon Chapter 2
Author/pseudonym: Drovar
Email: drovar@mediaone.net
Rating: PG
Fandom: XF
Pairings: Spender/Pendrell
Date: 9/11/98
Website: The Ferret Cage
URL: http://www.ferret-cage.com/
Summary: An answer to Carl Stoneburner's Fortune Cookie challenge on X/Story. Things take a dark and weird twist.
Category: Slash-action (Mythos AU)
Warnings: Only if you don't like ferrets & lab-mice
Disclaimers: Spender and Pendrell sadly belong to another. Other characters appearing are mine. Still standard disclaimers apply. I'm not trying to steal these characters from their rightful owners. I further acknowledge any and all applicable copyrights.
Notes: Another Spender/Pendrell story. Thanks to Carol Stoneburner for the original inspiration, even if this is totally not what she had in mind.


Somewhere deep within his brain, somewhere beyond even the atavistic reptile mind, crucial synapses received their orders and closed dutifully. A bioelectric wake-up call went out to all the brain's quiescent cells. The trauma had passed and self-preservation demanded the brain's attention. Soon crucial neurons began to fire, doubling and redoubling the message until the brain hummed with bio-chemical and electrical signals. In a cascading torrent of consciousness, and self-awareness, Sean Pendrell struggled to wakefulness.

He hurt . . . everywhere; and it was dark.

He moved slowly, trying to uncurl from his tight fetal position; his body growled in painful protest. Carefully, slowly, he stretched his numb legs from underneath his body. His legs hurt like hell; they felt lacerated, but thankfully not broken. A careful check, by touch alone, revealed a sore and touchy lump the size of a kiwi fruit on this temple. He felt cut, scraped, and lacerated, but not broken. How could he hurt so much and not have at least broken a femur, ulna or clavicle or two?

Pendrell forced himself into a sitting position and held it until the lurching vertigo subsided. He tried to think as he waited for the dizziness to fade.

Okay Sean, he told himself. Put that phenomenal brain to work and figure this out.

Where am I?

The air was cool, slightly damp, and sort of musty. No breeze, not even the hint of one, stirred the darkness. He could feel cool stone beneath his hands. The rock was hard, and smooth, but not at all flat, with a slight sheen of grit.

Pendrell listened intently for any sound that might betray some clue to his whereabouts. He heard nothing, just the buzz of his own blood flowing through his ears, and the short fast huff of his own breath. There were no traffic noises, no ambient man-made sounds, not even the mostly unnoticed electrical background hum that pervaded human life. Wherever he was, it seemed a long way from home.

Home.

His mind quickened at the thought. Home included Jeff, and . . . and .. . what was it about Jeff? His mind faltered, wavering toward unconsciousness, as he felt a fresh wave of disorientation and vertigo overtake him. He fought down the urge to retch and focused on the thought anew.

Where was Jeff?

Sketchy impressions of the recent past flooded into his conscious mind almost quicker than he could recognize them. Chinese food, they'd been eating Chinese again, Jeff's favorite. They had just finished the meal; he was teasing Jeff with a fortune cookie, when . . .

When what, dammit? Pendrell shouted mentally at himself.

Come on Sean, figure it out, call it up, unlock the vault, what happened?

A brief mental picture of a scraggly haired man; the sound of Jeff shouting; a tumble, and confusion. There was a sense of pain, an indelible impression of it, and then slow halting movement and fear. But there was something else also, something deeper, and darker. He felt a chilled shiver run through his body. His last real memory was of the two of them tumbling over into the floor and the sound of a gunshot. Yes, he remembered more clearly now. There was a thudding pain as his head struck something, hard, and then something else.

What was it dammit? Pendrell demanded as he felt the desired memory slide around under his attention, not allowing him to pin it down and examine it. Then abruptly he remembered.

The memory came not entirely as a conscious thing, or even an emotion, just an impression. He had felt, for just a moment, like he was being watched from inside his own mind. As he passed through the tunnel of consciousness to the brink of darkness he had felt another presence slide past his own. There was something inside his mind!

Pendrell felt his insides heave. There had been, and might still be, a parasite . . . a Cadre implant, inside his thoughts. A stealthy invader, so skillful that he had never detected it.

Oh God.

How long had it been lurking, manipulating his thoughts and emotions? Steering him, possessing him, controlling him, how long? Had his odd infatuation with Scully, an old joke now, having grown hoary through years of retelling, been just a manipulation? How much of Sean Pendrell belonged to it, and how much was really him? Did Sean Pendrell, the man, even exist? Or was he simply a convenient ego for the thing's display and camouflage?

Oh God, Oh fuck.

What did this mean for him and Jeff? Were the last wonderful years just a lie? He felt raw, violated and sick. What if he was just a tool, a mole buried so deep he avoided even self-discovery? What if he belonged to the Cadre, body, mind and soul?

Pendrell retched.

He felt a little better when he was done. He drew up what spit he could muster and tried to clear the taste from his mouth. His mouth tasted foul, but he felt somehow cleaner. It was as if he had, at least symbolically, thrown out the thing in his mind. As his heaves quieted he tried to search his mind looking for any sign of the intruder, any thought that he could identify as foreign, any sign, signal or portent that his thoughts were not his own.

After long moments of nothing, he gave up. Whatever was lurking in his head was buried to deeply for him to ferret it out. He needed to find Jeff and figure out what to do next.

Jeff

Pendrell suddenly realized that not only did he not know where he was, but also he had absolutely no idea where his partner was. He dredged into his memory again. The thought of something else, some . . . thing, slithering behind his thoughts, looking and prying into private places, made him shudder. He fought down his revulsion and tried to concentrate. He had to calm himself, and let go of his feelings of anger and violation.

He remembered something after that awful realization in the restaurant alcove. There were some blurred images of Jeff, loud sounds, and gunfire probably, then more darkness. There was a jarring into a painful wakefulness, and a square of dim starlight far above. He remembered the sound of gurgled breathing, the reedy bubbling sound of air and fluid. There was the taste of blood on his lips, then again darkness. Later, he had no idea when; he woke briefly to the feeling of movement, and then nothing until now.

"Jeff?" he asked the darkness.

"Jeff, can you hear me?"

He waited. Jeff might be nearby and simply unconscious, or injured and unable to call out. Pendrell struggled to stand up, resting halfway, hands on his knees, head down, as a new wave of vertigo passed. He straightened, stood fully upright and looked around. He could see nothing in the darkness, no sign of light, either natural or man-made. He took a half step, feeling the unseen reassurance of solid stone beneath his feet.

"Jay," he called, slipping unconsciously into the comfort of the familiar diminutive. "Jay, where are you?"

Pendrell hesitated, and slid another half step forward. He was about to call out again when he felt and heard his foot brush against something that crinkled.

Cellophane, he thought. He knew this was significant somehow. He struggled for a moment before dredging up the memory.

The cookies. Jay read his fortune just before the Cadre assassins attacked.

Pendrell carefully stooped down, and retrieved the bag, groaning almost silently at the fresh pain and nausea that it brought. The package felt strangely reassuring in the empty darkness. He clutched the bag to his chest feeling the crinkle of the cellophane and the hard cookies within. The bag had miraculously remained intact through whatever unremembered trauma they had gone through. He held the bag like a talisman, as if it's simple mundane reality were a shield against the vast, gloaming, otherness he was feeling. Pendrell slipped the bag into his shirt and buttoned up.

He considered his options. To stay here and wait for rescue was probably the logical thing to do, except that he had no idea where here was. He didn't know if anyone else knew where they were or even that he and Jeff were missing. Rescue might not come for days, days he didn't have to spare. To move on meant taking a chance on getting even further lost, or possibly falling into some deep underground crevice where even his body would never be found. Still he wouldn't find Jeff just by standing here, if he were moving he'd at least be doing something.

"Jeff," he called into the darkness again. He began to walk in a slow expanding spiral, carefully feeling his way ahead. He listened intently after each call hoping desperately for some small sound in answer.

"Jeff, answer me. Moan if you have to."

He stopped as he felt an uneasy awareness come over him. He knew, somehow, that there was something out there in the darkness waiting and watching him. He must have heard something down at the subliminal level that he hadn't consciously been aware of. Pendrell took another step forward and nearly panicked when his foot brushed against something solid.

He jumped back; nearly loosing his footing in the darkness, and finally crouching down to avoid whatever attack might be coming. He had a sharp, sudden vision, of a slavering mouth, dripping with ochre and riddled with teeth. It was somewhere behind him. Yes, behind but slouching rapidly closer.

Spender dropped to his hands and knees and scuttled forward, feeling carefully ahead. His hand brushed across something damp and solid. He could smell the faint, but unique metallic, and sour smell of old blood. It was a body.

"Jay?" he whispered. The thing, whatever sort of thing it was, was getting closer. Pendrell imagined he could hear it, moving forward, dripping and oozing, great jaws clacking and gnashing in anticipation.

Pendrell crawled forward. His hands came to rest on the body's face. He ran his hands lightly and carefully over the features. Sharp angular nose, jutting cheek bones, topped with tight curled hair. "Jay," he whispered again. His left hand brushed down Spender's cheek and felt a huge moist gash, and something solid . . . bone.

Oh, Jesus. He thought. He drew his hands back and slid them under Spender's body, feeling the blood pooled beneath him. So much blood. What if it's too much?

He couldn't tell in the darkness if the wound had sealed itself, but he could feel the blood that dripped from Spender's clothes as he lifted the still form.

So much blood, there's just so damn much. Pendrell felt his eyes fill as he settled Spender into his arms and started walking. He wouldn't have thought he had any tears left. He had scars and pains a plenty; they all had them, on body and psyche. Tears had become a rare thing in a hard world.

He heard a sound not far behind, a real sound. It was a soft leathery slide of a sound. Pendrell hefted Spender tighter against his body and began to run. He expected to be set upon by whatever followed, or trip in the darkness and spill both of them to the ground. Failing that, Pendrell was certain an enormous fissure lay just a few steps ahead. He ran.

The leather scuffling followed for a few moments, stopping about where Pendrell knew Jeff's blood lay pooled on the hard stone. He shuddered as the nearly silent sounds of lapping rose up behind him. Pendrell ran on.

The grotesque feeding sounds were quickly lost in the darkness beneath the sounds of his shoes clopping on the hard stone, and the steady sounds of his labored breath. Hearing nothing following for a long while, Pendrell slowed to a walk, and shifted Spender's body again. Spender's face fell close to his own. He could feel the slickness of Spender's blood against his own cheek. Pendrell could feel his own shirt, rank with the thick wetness of blood, clinging to his skin.

He walked through the darkness, unaware of time or direction until his strength finally began to fail. Pendrell staggered on, no longer listening. No longer trying to peer through the darkness or check for obstacles in his path. His world narrowed. There was only Spender's heaviness in his arms, and the relentless demand that he keep moving.

One more step Sean, cone on. One more, just one . . .

In the end he could only stagger forward, dropping to his knees, and laying Spender on the hard ground as gently as possible. Pendrell rolled onto his back, his lungs gasping for air, while his mind wavered on the edge of unconsciousness. He slept or perhaps only thought he did, lying there, waiting to die.

There was a sound in the darkness. Pendrell wanted to leap up and carry Jeff away from danger, but his battered body wouldn't respond. He could only crane his head backward against the hard ground and look. Lights, there were lights. Dim and far away, they dodged and moved like twin fireflies caught in a ritual dance. So pretty, Pendrell thought as he turned away.

The lights couldn't help them now. It was much too late. Pendrell closed his eyes, and waited to join his partner in whatever lay beyond.

End part 2