Title: Call of the Wild
Summary: Krycek becomes part of an X-File that has nothing to do with the Conspiracy
Author's note: Just an answer to the Halloween fanfic request--and for my friend Jean, who I got addicted to the X-Files and to Krycek! Feedback welcome. Please note: please keep your "suspension of disbelief"--I'm sure there are things that are not accurate in terms of geography, etc. but just call it "poetic license" and enjoy! :)
October 31, 1968
Its coat glistened eerily in the crisp fall evening. Yellow eyes glowed through snow-covered limbs, watching the small figure before him. It was a human form that stood there as if in shock, rifle in hand. A larger human patted the other's head and said in Russian, "This is life, Alex. You must kill to survive. It is a battle of the strongest, and only the best will remain alive. You remember that, son."
"Yes sir," the youngster replied automatically, having heard that particular sentence his entire six years.
His father smiled and took the rifle from the boy. "You have a good arm, Alex.
Next time, we will find a bear."
The boy nodded as his father headed through the snow and out of the woods.
Alex watched his first kill as the massive wolf's head was surrounded by a pool of blood. A blank stare peeked beneath the gray lids, and a long tongue trailed from its mouth, sharp teeth gleaming in the dusk.
"Alex!" The man waited impatiently for the young boy, and Alex turned towards his father. As the man continued walking, he disappeared behind the trees at the edge of the clearing, and Alex hurried to catch up.
The boy stopped in his tracks and swung around. Nothing. He took a deep breath and approached the carcass. No sign of life in the once powerful creature. He began again towards his father but couldn't shake the feeling that someone, something, was watching him. He looked up towards the trees on the other side of the clearing. Nothing. His eyes nervously scanned the horizon when movement caught his eye. Another wolf.
It came towards him with speed that only vengeance would allow, its yellow eyes focused on the young assailant. Alex's eyes grew wide, and he screamed for his father. Somehow finding his mobility, he turned and fled from the predator. Halfway to the tree line where his father had disappeared, a snowcovered root tripped the boy, and he fell hard on his face. Every muscle tense, every sense alert, too scared to even cry, he waited for the attack.
"Alex!" A gruff voice emerged into the clearing, impatience in his step. "What are you doing? Your mama will have supper waiting." He approached the boy huddled in the snow, and pulled him up by his arm. "You hear me?"
"The wolf!" the boy cried, pleading with his father. "It was chasing me."
The father shook his head. "It is dead, Alex. It is chasing no one."
The confused boy was released from his father's grasp, and he turned tentatively towards the carcass. He scanned the horizon. Nothing. He looked back towards his father, "But Papa, it leapt from the trees and was chasing me."
"I don't have time for stories, Alex. The animal is dead. Follow me now or you'll get a whipping you won't soon forget." Without further word, the man stalked off back into the trees.
Alex glanced once again towards his prey. He gasped, turned as fast as the snow would allow, and ran towards his father, disappearing behind him into the woods. There, from the opposite end of the clearing were prints. One deep set, as though a creature had landed from a distance; and several spaced far between, as though it had run fast and furious. But a few feet from the tree root where Alex had fallen, the prints vanished.
And yellow eyes watched bitterly as a man and boy made their way through the woods.
October 31, 1998
The dreams had started again, ever increasing until the yearly pattern of insomnia had developed. Alex had ceased to wonder if they would ever stop, instead making sure he had plenty of beer stocked up to battle his restless nights. From his experience, he knew that after tonight, always the worst, the images would go away--until next October. Blood, screams, mutilated bodies, sacrifice, torture--they had been more than just dreams on many occasions, but Alex had learned that to survive, one had to look out for one's self, fight for whatever kept you alive. He never looked back. His memory never plagued him with guilt or regret. And most nights his dreams were too distant to remember. But when October came, something else came with it, haunting images that burned into his sleep, kept him thrashing among his bed covers in torment, waking him breathless and sweaty. His heart would race as though being chased, his fear like that of a small child. It was hell, and, Alex thought as he reached for a nearly empty bottle of Jack Daniels with his remaining hand, he would rather have nightmares of Tunguska.
Tossing the bottle back to the floor with one last gulp, he rubbed his bloodshot eyes and stood shakily. Just one more night, Alex, he told himself as he headed for the shower. Then it will be over until next year.
Smoke and loud music billowed around the bar as Alex smiled provocatively at a tall brunette, who was dressed in a costume consisting of a tight black catsuit and small velvet ears. She returned the smile and settled on the empty stool beside him.
"Buy me a drink?" she asked through her plastic whiskers.
Alex motioned to the bartender, who refreshed both of their glasses.
"So," he began, a flirtatious tone in his pleasant voice, "What's a nice kitty like you doing in a place like this?"
She laughed a tipsy laugh and leaned in close to his ear. "Trying to find someone to make me purrrrr."
"You found your man," he whispered as his lips began their journey across her face.
"Take it outside," the bartender barely glanced at them but could see where it was headed. Alex winked at his new partner, left some bills on the counter, and led her outside into the crisp night air.
The woman shivered slightly, and Alex helped her into her long black coat.
"There's a motel down the road," he suggested.
"No," she said thoughtfully. "What about that way?"
"Huh?" Alex glanced behind the bar. "There's nothing back there, just trees and rocks."
"Exactly." She winked and started walking.
"Hey, wait a minute--"
"Jean," she supplied without turning around.
He caught up to her. "Jean, why there?"
"I'm a wildcat remember?"
He grinned sloppily. "Okay, just a minute. I'm going to grab some beer."
"Meet me there."
He ran back into the bar for his purchase and quickly made his way back to the parking lot. He glanced around and saw no sign of her, so he followed the direction in which she had gone, bottles balanced under his good arm.
When he reached the outline of trees, he saw no sign of the woman.
"Jean?" No answer. Part of him was thrilled at this cat-and-mouse game, so to speak. "Okay, Wildcat, I'm coming to get you!" His jaw set, he ignored the doubts at the edge of his mind as he entered the dark woods.
A path became somewhat visible in the moonlight, and he followed it dutifully, as a hunter follows his prey.
"Here kitty, kitty, kitty," he called, expecting her to pounce on him from behind one of the trees. But as the bar's music faded in the distance, and Alex proceeded further and further into the woods, he began to get edgy.
Something wasn't right. It was too quiet. It wasn't just the lack of music or people; it was that he heard nothing--no insects, no birds, no rustling of leaves... it was unnaturally quiet. And with his years of survivalism his instincts were usually right.
"Jean?" he said loudly. "Come on, you've got to give me a hint at least. I give up! You win, come on out."
There was silence around his echo. Then he heard it--a rustling among the bushes. He breathed a sigh of relief and walked towards it.
"Hey, baby, where have you been? I'm ready to make you purr--" He froze. The movement had stopped, but through the bushes he saw two yellow eyes glowing fiercely, staring him down as though playing a game of Chicken.
Alex shook his head. "No..." he whispered into the still air. Before he could utter another word, the creature leapt forward, landing squarely on his shoulders. He screamed as he tried to get away, but the jaws clamped down on his neck, pressing deeply into the sensitive flesh.
He writhed helplessly on the ground, no weapon with which to fight. After all he'd been through, this was the end, he was sure.
"Hey? What are you doing? Did you start without me?" Jean emerged from the bushes and watched the man she had just met squirm around on the ground. She giggled as she poked him with her high-heeled foot. "How much have *you* had to drink since I last saw you?"
Alex stopped moving. The pressure on his shoulders had vanished. He looked up carefully. "Jean?"
"Expecting someone else?"
"No, I... There was a wolf." He got up quickly, feeling his shoulders. No blood, no tearing, no evidence whatsoever of what he had just endured. "It was right here. It jumped me."
Jean shook her head, wondering what kind of drug he had mixed with the alcohol. She smiled as she approached him. "I'm the only one going to jump you, honey." She began to nuzzle his neck, but Alex moved away.
"No, I saw it. It was here."
"Come on," she urged impatiently. "Are you interested or not?"
Don't be a fool, Krycek, he told himself. It was your imagination, too much booz. Maybe you dreamed it.
He smiled, shoving his doubts aside. "Yeah, baby, of course I'm interested."
Jean awoke among the dried leaves with a throbbing headache and reached for her coat. It had grown even colder, and the physical warmth of a few hours earlier, combined with the alcohol, could ward off the chill for only so long.
Beer bottles littered the little clearing where they had fallen asleep, and Jean glanced over at her partner to see if he was interested for another round--of whatever.
She noticed him a few yards away, lying on his stomach. She grinned at The One-Armed Bandit, as she had called him, shaking her head. What he lacked in some areas, he more than made up for in others. But as she kneeled next to him, her eyes opened in shock.
"Oh my God. Are you okay?" Blood soaked his upper torso, and his leather jacket was in shreds. "Hey, come on. Wake up." But he was non-responsive.
"Shit." Jean took off through the trees, running like a panther on the prowl, until she finally reached the bar. Her teeth chattering nervously, she found the pay phone in front and dialed 9-1-1.
"I thought this was something you'd want to see." A large, gray-haired man led two federal agents to a rather shaken-up woman who was dressed in a dilapidated costume. The male agent nodded his thanks, and the female simply smiled tolerantly, wondering why she had agreed to join her partner on a Saturday night X-File--on Halloween no less.
You know why, she reminded herself with a fond smile before focusing her attention on the witness, forgetting about the movie she and Mulder had intended to watch with their takeout dinner at her apartment.
"Hi, you must be Jean," her partner said. "I'm Agent Mulder, and this is Agent Scully. We need to ask you some questions."
Jean looked uncomfortably at the woods in the distance. "I already told the police."
"We understand that, Jean," Scully added, "But a man was hurt here tonight. No one seems to know how. It's our job to find out, and you're our only witness."
"But I didn't *see* anything! Like I told them, we were about twenty minutes into the woods, got drunk, passed out--next thing I know, I wake up and find him covered in blood." She sighed tiredly. "I don't even know his name."
"I'm sure they will determine that at the hospital," Scully said softly. "But isn't there anything you can tell us that might help us find out who did this to him?"
She stared at her feet, studying the newly formed holes in her outfit from her run through the woods.
"Jean?" Mulder prompted. "Did anything unusual happen at all when you were with him?
She looked from the male agent to the female agent and back again. "You see, the thing is... I have a boyfriend. If Joe finds out--"
"No one will find out," Mulder assured. "This is just between us."
She nodded and took a deep breath. "I told him to meet me in the woods."
"Why?" Scully asked.
She shrugged, somewhat embarrassed. "It's more interesting than a motel, I guess. And less likely for anyone to notice you."
Mulder glanced in Scully's direction, but she purposefully avoided his gaze.
Most likely they were doing more than singing "Joy to the World," he thought with a grin.
He cleared his throat. "And?"
Jean continued, "He went back to get some beer, I waited for him. For awhile I followed him through the woods, I was going to surprise him further on, but then I lost him. When I caught up with him again, he was thrashing around on the ground, like... like something was attacking him."
"Was there any evidence of that?" Scully questioned.
"Nothing," she said, exasperated. "That's what I don't get; he told me that a wolf attacked him, but there wasn't a scratch on him."
"Are you sure?"
Jean eyed Scully, "Yeah, I got a pretty good look."
Scully glanced at Mulder who smirked slightly before turning to Jean. Scully continued, "So he was fine, you had some fun, you fell asleep--then you woke up and found him unconscious."
She nodded. "I don't know how it's possible, but that's what happened. I mean, maybe he did see a wolf or something, and he just *thought* it got to him since he'd been drinking. But if it came back later, then why didn't it go after me?"
Scully and Mulder exchanged glances. Wolves normally kept their distance from people and rarely attacked them. It was hardly likely a wolf would come out and kill something for no reason. If its territory was challenged, maybe--but there hadn't been sightings of any big wildlife in this area for many years.
And if it had, in fact, attacked this man, then why had it simply left him there and not taken him for food? Was it scared off?
Mulder took out a business card and handed it to Jean. "If you remember anything else, let us know."
She started to walk away but turned and asked, "Is he going to be okay?"
"He's in stable condition," Scully answered. "We're heading over there now to question him."
Jean smiled, "Tell Bandit that I said hello, okay?"
"Who?" Mulder asked curiously.
She blushed slightly. "I know it's stupid, but I never got his name, and he had a rugged look about him somehow... So I called him the One-Armed Bandit."
To their questioning eyes, she added, "See, he only had one arm."
"Which arm?" Scully asked suspiciously.
"His right," Jean answered hesitantly. "Does it matter?"
The agents glanced at each other.
"It just might," Mulder remarked as they left Jean and hurried towards their car.
"It couldn't be Krycek, Mulder," Scully said skeptically as her partner exited the freeway. "Why would he be back in town?"
"It's quite a coincidence then," Mulder remarked, his eyes steady on the road.
"He's not the only man out there with just one arm," she pointed out.
"Yeah, but he's the only one stupid enough to get himself involved in an xfile right under my nose. Besides, it's about time for the rat to slither out from his hole again."
Scully shrugged. "Well, aside from that... What do you think happened out there?"
"It's hard to say. The woman could have been drunk or on something, so we don't know the whole story."
"There were pawprints, but no wolf. He probably took off. Jean was too out-ofit to hear anything."
"But why would Krycek--or whoever he was--have thought he was being attacked before it happened? Did he have a premonition?"
"It's possible," she said doubtfully.
"Or maybe the creature *was* invisible... We've seen evidence of similar things, Scully. Like the soldier who was able to hide right in front of people by being in their blind spot. Or that woman who was raped by a spirit in the nursing home."
"But this is an animal we're talking about, not a human or even a ghost, Mulder."
"Maybe so, Scully, but in Native American folklore, animals are pretty powerful in their own right. In some cultures, each child is associated with an animal spirit when they are born, and this spirit guides and protects them throughout their life."
"Are you saying that Jean's protector was the wolf, who felt she was in danger from the man she was with?"
"I don't know, Scully. But we're about to find out." He parked in a visitor spot at the hospital and checked his gun.
"Mulder..." Scully warned.
"I'll behave, I promise. But that son-of-a-bitch is going to regret falling right into an x-file."
Alex opened his eyes slowly, his aching shoulders reminding him of his ordeal.
The sterile smell and white surroundings told him he was in a hospital.
"Shit," he muttered to himself. It wasn't safe for him to be here; anyone could find him exposed like this.
As if reading his thoughts, the door to his room swung open, and two familiar faces entered, shutting the door securely behind them. Trying to clear the cobwebs from his brain, Alex rose to a sitting position.
"Oh, don't get up for our sake, *Bandit.*" Mulder smirked as he leaned in close to his enemy's face. "How would you like to lose that other arm?"
"Get the hell away from me, Mulder."
His eyes were like steel as he stared at the agent. "What do you want?"
"What happened to you?"
"Like you care!"
"I *don't* care what happens to you. What I care about is that you are part of my investigation."
Mulder glanced at Scully, who moved forward and replied, "What happened in the woods tonight? The woman you were with found you covered in blood, as though you had been attacked. But she claims you thought you were being attacked before you ran into her."
Krycek shrugged. "I don't remember."
"Like hell you don't," Mulder contradicted and grabbed the front of Krycek's hospital gown. "What attacked you that first time, before Jean saw you?"
He paused before answering through clenched teeth, "A wolf, okay? It jumped me from behind some trees."
"That's more action than you usually see, isn't it?" Mulder commented, releasing him from his grasp.
"Better than 1-900 numbers," Alex retorted. "But that's what happened; a wolf attacked me."
Scully asked, "Then why weren't there any scars or evidence of an attack at that time?"
"What, you want me to say I was drunk and imagined it? Fine, whatever. I don't care. I just want to get out of here."
"Afraid you'll be missed?" Mulder commented.
"I'm not spending the night here."
"Why not?" Scully asked, sensing something more than a distaste for hospitals.
"It's Halloween," he replied, glaring at Mulder.
"I think you've had enough partying for one night," Mulder answered, his hand on the door, ready to leave. "Sweet dreams."
The change in his face was slight, but both agents noticed it. Mulder moved away from the door and continued, "Having nightmares, Krycek?"
"No more than you."
"Maybe you do have a conscience," Mulder remarked, approaching the bed before adding, "Nah."
"What's in your dreams?" Scully questioned, ignoring her partner. "A wolf?"
Mulder glanced in surprise at Scully, who shrugged her shoulders as if to say, lucky guess. Krycek's expression confirmed her suspicion.
"What does it do?" she continued. "Attack you, like it did tonight?"
Krycek said in frustration, "So what if it did? Dreams aren't real! They are made up events in your mind. Things don't come out of your dreams and get you."
"No," Scully replied thoughtfully. "But dreams are the answers to questions we haven't yet learned how to ask."
Again Mulder looked at her, replying, "Remind me to watch what I say around you, Scully."
She simply smiled. Krycek saw this and smirked, "Doin' each other?"
Mulder turned around and slapped him hard across his face. "I can see to it that the doctors keep you here for a long, long time."
"I'm helping you, Mulder. What more do you want? My other arm?"
"Yeah, then we can throw you in the river and call you Bob. Come on, Scully."
He went back to the door. "There's nothing here."
"Mulder," she admonished, reminding him that they were there on an investigation and not simply to torment their opponent. She asked Krycek, "Have you ever been attacked by a wolf before?"
Alex gave Mulder a triumphant look as he replied, "When I was a kid. I was hunting with my father, and a wolf came at me out of nowhere."
"Did your father see it?"
Alex shook his head. "He said I was imagining it."
"Did any scars show up?"
"Not from the wolf--but I did have scars because I fell out of a tree. At least that's what I thought at the time. I do remember seeing tracks, though.
I think the dreams started not too long after that."
Mulder watched him carefully. "What were you hunting?"
He paused, then answered, "A wolf that was stealing our chickens."
Mulder laughed. "You're being haunted by the ghost of a wolf!"
"It's not funny! It's like it gets into my head and makes me see things. I can't sleep. The images..."
"This happens every night?" Scully asked.
"Every year about this time."
"Halloween," Scully commented and looked at her partner.
"When did you go hunting, Krycek?" Mulder asked, interested.
"It was in the Fall. I don't remember."
"How much you want to bet it was October? And maybe a full moon?"
"It's a full moon tonight, isn't it?" Scully asked.
Mulder nodded. "A full moon with a circle around it. Many cultures believe that's a portent of bad luck."
"Who?" Krycek said suspiciously.
Mulder smiled, "Witches usually."
"Jesus," he rolled his eyes.
"And we're going back to the woods," Mulder added.
"Like hell we are," Krycek objected.
"Come on, Wolfboy." Mulder took the clothes that had been folded on a chair.
"It's time to make peace with the spirits."
"Are you crazy?"
"That's what they tell me."
"I'll go get him released to our custody," Scully said and left the room.
Krycek noticed the way she brushed her partner's arm as she spoke.
"You *are* doin' her, aren't you?"
Mulder aimed his gun. "Get dressed."
"Halloween was originally a Celtic festival for the dead, celebrated on the last day of the Celtic year, October 31st," Mulder explained as the trio made their way carefully through the woods. "Some cultures celebrate it on November 1st as the Day of the Dead. And in some parts of Europe, it was believed that on All Soul's Eve, as they called it, witches and warlocks flew around playing tricks on people. People would build huge bonfires to ward off the evil spirits."
"Did it work?" Krycek asked, glancing nervously into the shadows.
"Sometimes," was all Mulder said. Scully looked at her partner, who was obviously enjoying Krycek's ordeal. And while she, herself, was getting some twisted pleasure in his discomfort, she didn't want personal feelings to interfere with their investigation. They could get sloppy, and someone could get hurt.
"What exactly are we doing out here, Mulder?" she questioned.
"Looking for evil spirits," he replied. "Did you bring any candles?" He smiled at the look she gave him and said, "We're returning to the scene of a crime to see if any evidence has been overlooked. I just thought we might need a guide."
"It's right up ahead," Alex motioned with his hand, ignoring the pain in his shoulders.
A small clearing was visible in the moonlight, and ashes appeared where a small campfire had been built. Bits of glass still littered the area, but most had been cleaned up and taken as evidence.
"Go find some wood, Wolfboy," Mulder instructed.
"If we hear a girly-scream, we'll come protect you."
Alex shot him a look and began to gather dry branches.
"Mulder," Scully whispered, "I know everything he's done to both of us, but if we want his cooperation, you're going to have to tone it down a bit."
"Why? He's not arguing."
"You've got the gun."
"Okay, okay," he relented, reaching for her hand. "I'm sorry, Scully. I'll be good now, okay?"
She smiled as she squeezed his hand. "Okay, Mulder. Just remember--you still owe me a movie."
He grinned and released her hand. They began to help Krycek with the wood, and soon there was a big pile over the ashes.
"That should do it," Mulder commented. "Almost midnight," he said, glancing at his watch. "Hey, Bandit, did you ever find the body?"
"The body of the wolf."
"I don't know. We didn't take it. We went back later, and it wasn't there, but it was probably just buried in the snow."
"Or not," Mulder commented.
"What do you mean?" Scully asked.
"Remember the golem, Scully?"
"Yes, but that wasn't a body. It was made of dirt."
"But no one called this wolf back to life, Mulder."
"Maybe its ancestors did. Maybe its spirit was strong enough to come back on its own. All I know is, it obviously wants vengeance for who killed it."
"This is crazy," Krycek muttered. "I can't believe they let freaks like you in the Bureau."
"Better than two-timing backstabbers who betray their country."
Krycek threw down his last load of branches, sick of the agent's commentary.
"Go to hell, Mulder! I'm out of here." He turned and stalked back down the trail they had followed, daring Mulder to challenge him.
"Start the fire, Scully," Mulder instructed. "I'm going to follow the rat."
Scully sighed and began lighting the twigs. Mulder kept a good distance behind Krycek, who was hurrying back towards civilization. It was nearly midnight, and all three noticed just how eerie the silence had become.
Krycek quickened his pace, eager to have his nightmare back to being in his dream, not reality. But somehow he knew he was not going to escape unharmed.
He felt its presence nearby, could almost hear its heavy breathing and drooling tongue. It smelt his fear, and it thrived on it.
Scully looked up quickly from the bonfire that had begun to grow. The sound was distinct--and beautiful she noted, though she was nervous for her partner.
Wildlife was the backbone of nature, and as much as civilization was inevitable, it was a shame that so much was always destroyed in the process.
Mulder had heard the deep howl as well, felt it run through his body, and he shivered at the desolation of it. He spotted Krycek a few yards away, who had frozen with the call of the wild.
Alex was trapped. The howl filled his mind and blocked coherent thought. He felt the pain of a bullet ripping through his skull as though he were the wolf, and he grabbed his head. He felt the cold of the Russian snow against his body as he fell to the ground from his imagined injury. He was a little boy again, and he huddled in the dirt, believing that he was the wolf of so long ago, feeling nonexistent blood rush through his fingers.
It cleared his mind this time, and the pain in his head was gone; his shivering body was not quaking from cold now, but from fear. He tentatively looked up. Standing before him was a giant wolf, an alpha male with his winter coat gleaming in the moonlight. Alex knew it was identical to the one he had killed as a child.
"Please," he begged, staring into the piercing yellow eyes, pleading with this vision to spare his life.
"Krycek!" Mulder called, not understanding why he was lying on the ground as though trapped.
The spell was broken, and the wolf's gaze strayed to Mulder. Alex took his opening and rolled away from the wild creature, jumping to his feet.
"Run!" he yelled as he turned towards the outskirts of the woods.
"No, this way! The fire!" Mulder called, not seeing the wolf lunge towards Krycek.
Alex zigzagged around, throwing off the wolf's aim, as he ran towards Mulder.
The agent led the way back to the fire, wondering if it was a hallucination or a spirit being that pursued the other man.
Scully heard the commotion as they neared. She moved away from the fire, out of the path, as the flames leapt impossibly high. The circle around the full moon glowed brightly, and she heard her watch beep midnight.
"Mulder!" she called as her partner raced towards her. He shrugged his shoulders as he took a breath, stopping next to her. "He says it's chasing him."
They watched for Krycek, glancing at each other as distinct growls met their ears. Krycek lunged through the clearing towards the fire, the wolf that the observers could only hear hot on Krycek's heels.
"Duck!" Mulder instructed, gripping Scully's arm protectively, ready to flee.
Alex dove in front of the fire, closing his eyes tightly as the smoke burned his nose.
"Oh my God," Scully whispered. Mulder's grip relaxed on his partner's arm, and he let his arm fall to clasp her hand. "Look at it," she said, squeezing his palm.
They could see it now, a beautiful, powerful creature, leaping through the air. It had jumped over the fire, not able to stop in time to land on its prey. But though its robust hind legs had enough spring to make the jump, the fire had grown unnaturally high, and the magnificent creature disappeared at the tip of the flames, smoke billowing towards the sky.
"Nothing," Mulder said as he neared Scully, who was explaining the recent events as best she could to the investigators.
She turned towards her partner. "They didn't find the wolf?"
He shook his head. "Just ash. No sign of bones at all."
She shrugged her shoulders, almost having expected it. "That's not all," she added.
She motioned towards Krycek, who was giving his statement, trying to pretend he wasn't wanted for treason, murder, and a host of other offenses. "No trace of injury."
"I don't think the wolf got him the second time, Scully."
"No, I mean no traces of *any* injury, not from an hour ago, and not from earlier. There are no scars, no cuts, no bruises--it's as though nothing happened."
Mulder exchanged glances with her. "For once I'm glad we don't have to write up a report."
"So we won't have to explain this?"
"No--because we know who John Doe over there really is."
"You're not going to turn him in?"
Mulder shook his head. "Let the rat live in the shadows. He owes us now."
Scully nodded and followed her partner back down the trail.
As they neared the car, she questioned, "So... 'Friday the 13th', 'Child's Play', or 'Scream'?"
Mulder smiled. "Haven't you had enough spooky things happen in one night?"
"No" she smiled, as he unlocked her door. "Of course, we could always watch one of those sappy chick flicks..."
"Depends--any of the chicks in bathing suits?" He raised his eyebrows in a playful leer.
"Chuckie it is," she answered, getting in the car.
He rolled his eyes, sitting in the driver's seat. "I thought you'd had enough of talking dolls?"
"Who me? Who said anything about a talking doll?"
"I suppose you really were hypothetically asking me then?"
"I'm sticking to my story. It was a nice--"
"-- relaxing vacation," he finished for her. "I know." He paused briefly before adding, "But I missed you."
"I thought you got a lot of work done since I wasn't there to be in your way?"
she teased, trying to hide the way his words made her heart swell.
"Yeah, well, I may have exaggerated a little."
"That's okay. I missed you, too."
He smiled and squeezed her hand before starting the car. As he pulled back onto the main road, he asked, "Hey, Scully?"
"You don't have any beehives around your apartment building, do you?"
She smiled as she kept her eyes straight ahead. "I don't think so."
"Oh, are you allergic to bees, Mulder?"
His face grew worried as he glanced at her. She couldn't hold back her smile at his concern that she had forgotten what had happened between them in his hallway several months earlier. She squeezed his arm in reassurance. "I'm kidding."
He let out the breath he had been holding. "Jesus, Scully. You scared me."
"More than the wolf--or whatever it was?"
"You know something, Mulder?"
"I don't care for bees much myself."
He glanced at her and she winked. He smiled and kept driving.
Krycek bolted upright in bed. His exhaustion had brought sleep on quickly, but the all-too-familiar sound startled him wide awake.
He took a deep breath as he grabbed an empty bottle from his nightstand, throwing it hard against the wall near the window.
"Damn dog! Shut up!" he grumbled as he got out of bed. Carefully avoiding the glass that had shattered, he looked out the window. The moon was slowly being covered by thick clouds, the ring that had been visible earlier now gone. He moved towards his dresser, picking up a brown paper bag.
He had stopped at a liquor store/headshop on the way home, and the clerk was explaining to someone about the healing quality of some of the store's products. Out of a whim, Krycek had succumbed to one of the items. It was a circle made of leather with beads and feathers--a dream catcher. It is believed that while sleeping under a dream catcher, bad dreams are caught in its web to perish with the first light of day, while good dreams slip easily through the center hole, catching the good energies of the feathers and beads and falling onto the dreamer's head.
Krycek didn't know if he believed in its power, but after tonight, he was beginning to think Spooky Mulder wasn't so spooky after all--little green men were one thing, but ghosts and spirits? From now on, he wouldn't be so quick to dismiss such claims. Besides, it couldn't hurt.
He found a tack in his nightstand drawer and pushed it into the wall above his headboard. Hanging the dream catcher on it, he slid back under the covers.
"I want to believe," he muttered, closing his eyes. And he slept.
November 1, 1998
"Papa! Papa!" a young boy shouted to his father.
"What is it, Dmitri? You must be quiet if we hope to find anything," the old man answered in Russian as he approached his son. "We were lucky as it was that we found that scavenger that had been stealing our food."
"But look, Papa," he said as he pointed to the middle of the clearing they had just entered. "What is it?"
The father and son neared the skeleton and studied the bones.
"This is quite old," the man said. "I don't understand why it is on the top of a fresh layer of snow. It should have been buried long ago."
"Maybe another animal dragged it out."
"Niet. Why would a predator bother with dragging old bones to the middle of a clearing? Come, Dmitri. We promised your mama we'd have supper."
"Yes, Papa," the boy answered, following the man back to the tree line.
Halfway there, he stopped and turned around, noticing the pawprints in the snow. "Papa?"
"What was it?"
"Hm?" the old man turned around, and Dmitri walked up next to him.
"What was the animal, Papa?"
He tousled the boy's hair. "A good hunter must be able to recognize bones.
What do you think it was?"
"Well, the tracks look like--"
"What tracks? I told you that the creature died long ago."
"But those are fresh tracks."
"Now don't argue with your papa, Dmitri. Those tracks must be from another animal. Maybe we'll get lucky and find supper right away."
The two trudged along through the snow, and the father asked again, "So what kind of bones were those?"
"Close, close, son. But it was quite large, probably the pack leader. I'd say it was a wolf."
"The pawprints were a wolf's, too," the boy added.
Both stopped and looked around.
"Ah, things echo so much around here it's hard to say how far that's coming from," the father commented. "Let's keep moving."
Dmitri followed obediently, his heart filled nervously with the call of the wild.
And yellow eyes watched bitterly as a man and boy made their way through the woods.
"Always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself."
--Richard Nixon (in his White House farewell)