TITLE: Cold Days
RATING: PG, mainly for description of Krycek losing his arm
FEEDBACK: Oh, yes, please...firstname.lastname@example.org
ARCHIVE: RatB, Basement, anywhere else if you ask first
DISCLAIMER: Belongs to somebody else somewhere kinda west of here who doesn't use my favorite Rat near enough, which is REAL cruelty.
SUMMARY: In the forests of Siberia, a feverish Krycek realizes the depth of his feelings for Mulder.
COMMENTARY: First published in the zine "Leather and Armani"
I tried to pretend it was a nightmare, but nothing could disguise the taste of blood in my mouth, the long grinding throb of pain from my arm. From where my arm no longer was. They had been carrying me for the past two days, dragging me along the ground in a makeshift litter, uncaring of the hurt of it. Yesterday, one of them had pressed some aspirin into me with my dribble of rusty-tasting water, almost causing me to choke, but that had been the extent of their concern. They were just too tired and desperate themselves to be able to go beyond that.
I was alive--if barely--and now immune to the tests. What more could any man ask for? Especially here, where for years men had been sent to be forgotten about, to die.
Maybe it was my turn.
Maybe I more than deserved it.
But I didn't want to die. That was my mantra, through all the pain, especially that first day, that first night. After I had screamed myself into unconsciousness and woke again nearer to dawn to find myself bundled up in my own bloody jacket, the smell of burnt flesh still surrounding me. My throat too raw to do more than whimper.
Their eyes glittering at me from across the small fire. The sound of their voices soft and foreign, white breath puffing out before them as they stared at me and whispered, my brain too fuzzy to even make a try at translation. And everything had been washed in red; the pain almost a living thing, eating at me, devouring me. Pain beyond anything I had ever before known. Until they began moving me, that is.
By the end of the second day I was feverish, the little bit of aspirin less than useless. It was then that Fox Mulder came. Sat down beside me on a mound of leaves and watched the fire that my rescuers, my captors, were building. Watched them sharing a bit of soup heated up in a battered pot. They weren't going to feed me--not that I was particularly hungry--and I dimly realized it was because they weren't sure I was going to make it. A practical belief. Why waste food on the dead?
But it was Mulder who told me that it wasn't a nightmare, not at all. That he was glad for what they had done to me. That he would be more than glad if I died. That he was, in fact, waiting here for me to die.
He looked tired. I remember telling him that, an observation for which he hadn't been grateful at all. Instead, he began telling me what they had done to him back at the gulag. How it had felt to have the black cancer slithering across his face, being trapped and helpless with it. To feel it taking over his mind, turning all his thoughts to ice. To stone.
I told him I knew. I remembered. But still he didn't stop. His eyes gleamed with the soft flickering of the fire as he told me about how he had held his father in his arms while he had died. Of Scully's grief over her sister, an innocent who had taken her place. Who had once saved Mulder from making what might have been the biggest mistake of his life. From becoming a murderer himself.
I had protested that one. Told him that I hadn't killed her. That it had been Luis. But Mulder hadn't cared. He only sat back a little, watching and watching with those too-sharp eyes, when one of the others came over to check my wound. Maybe just to check to see if I was still alive. I expected him to be pleased at how much it hurt, at the small sounds of pain that escaped as hard fingers touched me, handled my torn shoulder, but his face had remained expressionless. Less than expressionless. Almost inhuman.
When the man had finally shaken his head and moved off, leaving me alone with Mulder again, I could feel blood trickling down my side beneath my clothes and, this time, I caught the words as they huddled around each other and talked of me. That I was bleeding again, that I should just be left. That I could be a spy, after all. That I would only get them in trouble, being an American. That I didn't matter, being an American.
Certainly, didn't matter this much.
Mulder nodded at that and I wondered where he had learned enough Russian to understand them. I wanted to ask him, but I was just too tired. The blackness too close. The next thing I remembered, it was full dark and they were all sleeping, figures huddled as close as possible to each other and the waning fire. Just one of them remaining sitting up, leaning against a tree, standing guard for the rest. I could have told him not to bother; Mulder was still there, warming himself by that same fire. Looking sad and ridiculous in that grey prison garb, such a far cry from his usual Armani suits. The guards back at the gulag had taken his other clothes, fought over his jeans in particular. As some of them had fought over the man himself.
I had managed to keep him from that, at least. If I hadn't exactly managed to rescue him from the tests. Not that he would ever thank me for any of it. Or believe that I had had his interests at heart as much as my own. Things just took time here, that was all. I would have gotten us both out eventually--pulled the right strings, made the right promises to the right people, the correct sort of bribes--but I never got the chance. Mulder had made sure of that.
Not that I had ever thought of leaving him there. I told him that now as he sat there by the fire, those fine hands outstretched, and he finally turned away from it and looked at me. And I could tell he thought I was lying. I almost expected him to get right up and come over and hit me again; he obviously got such enjoyment out of it, out of relieving his frustrations on a helpless and unarmed man. Even though, if I have to admit it, Skinner packed more of a punch when it came right down to it, the sadistic son-of-a-bitch.
Knew how to make me feel like something he'd just happened to pick up on the bottom of his shoe.
Still, I would have given almost anything to be back there right now, even if it meant being slugged hard in the guts again. Being handcuffed once more to that fucking freezing balcony.
At least, I'd had two arms then.
At least, Mulder had hated me and hit me, but he wasn't just sitting there watching me with a cool unreadable look on his face, waiting for me to just get on with it and die already. To put me out of his misery. A grey ghost in the dark, coming to stand over me now, poking at me with his foot. Kneeling down in the leaves next to me until I could see those hazel eyes so clearly it was almost as if they were lit from within.
Asking me why he should believe me, why he should believe anything I ever told him.
At first, I said nothing--could say nothing--and then he leaned in even closer, leaving just a few bare inches between us. Nose to nose as we had been in that filthy cold cell. The last time he'd threatened me and I'd finally threatened back. The first and only time I'd threatened back, suddenly so sick of it all. Of him. Of myself. Of what had grown up between us. What he had no clue about and what I wished I could only forget.
And I'd reached out to him this time as I hadn't had the courage to then, wound my fingers into the edge of that coarse material, and pulled him over that last little bit. Kissed him as I'd always wanted to and had never dared to, not even when things had been good between us. Or as good as they'd ever gotten. Kissed him as if I could suck the life right out of him, could blend it with my own. Mix and mingle us together until there could be no going back. No lies and no truth. Only this one last single thing, cold as his skin on mine, hot as the fire that tore at my veins.
I let go then, too tired to hold him, to hold on, and fell back, waiting for him to finish me off. To slam me well and truly into the next life, if there even was any such thing waiting for me. For anyone.
But he didn't hit me. Didn't even swear at me. Just stared. As if I had somehow just become some incredible new specimen to examine, some X-File to investigate. Instead of just what I was--a dying man who had finally found himself kissing his supposed enemy in the middle of a dark Siberian forest.
And maybe that's why he let me do it. Curiosity, not pity. More of that disbelief. An unspoken and maybe even unconscious urge to help make my last few hours of life more of a living hell than it already was.
But none of it explained why he suddenly leaned down himself and kissed me back. Kissed me hard, with all the force of a blow. Holding my head in long fingers as I rocked beneath it, beneath the workings of his mouth. Holding me to him, that lean form pressing against me as if he wanted to sink down inside me.
And none of it explained why I could taste blood in his mouth as well. A salt and sweat and pain and fever as great as mine. As if he'd been the one to be held down and tortured in the name of desperate rescue. As if he'd been the one mutilated--was still feeling the knife on his body even now, still wearing that sickly-sweet smell imprinted into his clothes and hair and skin from when the heated metal had seared deeper and deeper into his flesh. Still couldn't escape the picture-perfect clarity of the worst of it--as if it was something that could never be forgotten--the heavy rasping chilling agony as the bone was sawn through, slow, so slow. Relentlessly slow.
As if his mouth held my nightmare. His hands my death.
His eyes, accusation. Condemnation. A bleak and merciless judgment.
When he let go of me at the last, I was shaking, shivering beneath him. So weak inside it was all I could do to simply lie there, staring up at him. Noticing how his eyes were glittering as brightly, as coldly, as the stars overhead. Straining to hear the sound of his breath, it was such a dry thin whisper of itself, as if it had to come from some great distance. Barely being able to hear his heart beating even though his hands still rested to either side of my head, fingers stroking lightly across my face. Marking and masking my eyes.
And he told me again that I was dying and how very sweet he found it. So sweet he couldn't bear to leave me. Wanted to feel every last bit of it with me, taste every drop of my pain. The red and burning wine of it. The white-bone cup that held it.
That he wanted to savor the fear he found in my eyes and the regret and, most of all, certainly most of all, the desire. That unlooked for and unwished for need washing out around all my edges, tearing at the cracks in my soul. Threatening the very foundation I had relied on for so long. The foundation that was a lie, if nothing else was.
He laughed then, a dry little chuckle as if it were some joke we both shared, and snuggled down close to me in my bed of leaves. Put his arms around me and his legs over me and tucked my head down close to his chest as if I were some small child to be comforted.
To be soothed back from some nightmare. And I felt the blood trickling and tickling between us, no doubt wetting that prison grey uniform. Felt my own breath slowing and relaxing with surprising ease down into his, becoming a pale imitation of itself. Saw the stars turning and spinning and tumbling over our heads, tiny points of brilliance in an echoing and empty blackness.
Told him that I loved him, and let it all go.
I woke alone and numbed by drugs, my legs and my one remaining arm restrained, bound by canvas strips to the bedframe beneath me. The stump of my lost arm strapped to my side, wrapped tightly with red-stained bandages smelling of old blood and something sharply medicinal. I tried to lift my head, to look around, but the effort was nearly impossible. Still, someone must have seen it, because a woman appeared a few moments later and looked down at me. Spoke to me.
It took a few more moments for the words to register, to be recalled, for me to find my own voice.
But when I did, she only shook her head. Told me that I had been dropped off by the door of the clinic, no money, no i.d., nothing. Her eyes told me more than that--told me that I had almost been turned away, that I had almost been too far gone to bother with. Her eyes told me that I had been lucky, but I would have disputed that if I had had the strength.
Luck had nothing to do with it. Nor kindness. Nor any soft emotion.
Just hard lips and cruel eyes and distant stars and loss more tearing than having your arm cut clean off.
Just an emptiness that you could no longer hide from. Could no longer deny.
Couldn't even cry for.
From when the future was broken on the back of the past. Lost in a forest that had of old learned to steal away lives and memories and hope. Long miles from home and cold days from sorrow.
Leaving a ghost and nothing more.
Archived: 11:31 03/09/01