Summary: October 31, 2003 Nick Zone: Halloween/Dia de los Muertos challenge
When he was dead. Really dead and not just thinking he was going to be dead, or wanted to be dead, or mired in oil dead, Alex Krycek finally knew everything.
He thought it was great. No more secrets, plans, agendas, hunger, thirst, cold or pain.
After a while, he realized there were also no more rare steaks, good scotch, fresh papayas with lime, hot showers or willing women, tight assed boys and the feeling, when he walked down a dangerous shadowed street, of being alive.
There was no one to ask what he could do about the situation. He hadn't seen anyone, heard anyone, or even smelled anyone else. In fact, other than knowing he was thinking, he hadn't seen, heard or smelled himself either.
He thought about this and decided to dream.
He remembered dreaming about things.
When he was a boy his dreams were the usual mix of heroic moments, making his parents' sorry for thwarting him scenarios and having the kid, who lived down the block and who beat him at everything, move to Timbuktu. These young dreams slid seamlessly into adolescent fantasies and from there into bigger, less innocent plans.
After he took part in the death of his first assignment, he began to have bad dreams. Dreams that kept him awake and made him walk dark, dangerous streets and find other people of the night who were similarly haunted.
He found pleasure on those dark nights too, pleasures that hadn't innocently manifested themselves in his wildest imagination. Drinks that tasted sharper and went down smoother after midnight, women who tasted riper and whose nails gleamed red in the lowlife and lowlight places he found. On those nights, laughter was at someone else's expense and what tears he shed there were brought on by pain or rage or from the late hour and left only glistening smudges on tabletops and on bloodied alleyways. Those tears left no trace in the light of day.
Eventually he learned to sleep dreamlessly.
Krycek decided he needed to learn how to dream again.
He started simple, a meal he thought, not a feast or anything, just a simple ordinary meal. He conjured up baked chicken, debated whether he was in the mood for white or dark meat, with or without gravy. He added mashed, no, baked potato and a lot of butter and sour cream. He tacked on peach pie and changed it to lemon meringue. This took some time, how much time or if there was time didn't matter to him. He thought it had taken a while, so for all intents and purposes, it had.
He found, when he had the meal all laid out on a table, by a window, with a glass of iced tea and salt, pepper and napkins close at hand, and the radio playing oldies, that the dream wasn't working.
He wasn't hungry. He couldn't relate to being hungry. He couldn't make his mouth salivate or his stomach rumble. He couldn't quite sense the aroma of the chicken, the texture of piecrust or hear the clink of the ice in his glass.
Just to be sure, Krycek imagined himself as he used to be, as in alive, with a mouth and a stomach and eyes and ears and taste buds.
Krycek was pissed. He believed all he needed were his thoughts.
Krycek began to understand that it would take more than wishing for something to be able to experience it.
He began to worry. For the first time, he contemplated that this might be Hell. He shrugged, metaphorically, and decided to think about that if all else failed.
He thought he might try an orgy next, but when he began to decide how many girls, how many boys, and their various attributes, he quailed. He decided that he would try this particular idea some other time, when he knew it would work. He didn't want to imagine that his dick, no matter how ephemeral, could end up feeling nothing. Food was one thing, sex another thing entirely and he didn't want to get depressed.
Eventually Krycek decided to see if he could interact with someone. He thought about calling out and did it,"Halloo," nothing. "Halloo, anybody home?" nothing. He tried it in a couple of languages and in a couple of styles,"Yo! Dude!" Nothing.
So, he decided to try and say hello to someone he'd known. He carefully constructed Marita. He built her inch-by-inch from his memory. He enjoyed doing this immensely and added embellishments as he went along. First of all, she would smile when she heard/saw/sensed/ him. It would be a big happy smile; the kind of smile he'd never actually seen her make, but always thought would've been nice if she had done it.
The remaining additional perfections were physical attributes, but when he looked at the whole picture, he shook his head, metaphorically, and just let the memory of the real woman come to mind.
And... there she was. She was sitting at a small, beautifully appointed, dining room table eating cereal. He hadn't known she liked Frosted Flakes, so he knew this had to be the real Marita. There was a bowl of fruit on the table and when she was done with most of the Frosted Flakes, she picked up, peeled a banana and added the slices to the remaining milk in her bowl.
When she actually slurped the last of the milk from the bowl, he crowed to himself. This `had' to be real because Marita would never, not in a million years, let anyone see she was a slob. This encouraged him to attempt a very cool,"good morning, Marita," in the best of his former, low pitched, intimate voices.
The results were more than satisfactory. She dropped the bowl, looked around wildly and put one perfectly manicured hand over her heart.
The he said,"Aren't you going to greet me?" He used a sarcastic tone.
Marita got up and picked up the bowl and the spoon. She used her linen napkin to wipe up the spilled drops and to push the banana peel into the bowl. She put it all in the sink and slowly turned around,"Fuck off, Alex," she drawled,"you're dead and I hope, in Hell." With that utterance, she calmly walked out of the kitchen and closed the door.
Krycek thought he could probably follow her into the next room, but what was the use? When Marita used that tone of voice it always freezed his balls off and ruined the moment. He decided he would damn well not waste any more time with her.
He paced, metaphorically, and decided to visit someone he didn't know, but who he could imagine perfectly. He tried to remember the name and location of the clone that Spender and Bill Mulder had made, without telling him, and was some kind of goodie-two-shoe cop in Canada. Once he was dead, Krycek had learned/knew/absorbed all kinds of information regarding himself.
He spent a moment regretting that he hadn't known about the clones; they might have come in useful for all kinds of purposes, back in the day. He imagined his clone in a dorky RCMP uniform, made Victor a Detective sitting at in a nice office with a cup of fresh coffee on the desk. Nothing. No Detective Victor Mansfield appeared.
He imagined Victor in a nice three bedroom house, getting ready for work, a pretty blonde wife making breakfast and a couple of small kids, dressed in those footed pajamas, running around. Nothing. No Happily Married Detective Mansfield appeared.
Krycek wondered what the fuck was wrong with the man. No office, no desk, no wife, kids, house or coffee. He scratched his head, metaphorically, and decided to tone down his expectations of Victor. Maybe the guy was a loner workaholic and lived in a small apartment with a lousy Mr. Coffee coffee maker.
And... there he was. This was more like it, Krycek thought excitedly. He didn't say anything. He bided his time and watched what Victor was up to.
Vic wasn't up to anything particularly illuminating, but Krycek thought, it was better than the nothing that was there before. He watched the guy wake up; sit on the edge of his bed and scratch. Krycek smiled to himself, well, metaphorically. He used to do the exact same thing. Vic rose, ambled to the john and took a piss. When Vic sighed in relief, Krycek thoughtfully sighed too. He watched Vic go to the kitchenette and flip the switch on the lousy coffee maker, turn on ESPN and spend a few moments listening to yesterday's scores. Krycek was fascinated, what were the Ravens and Eagles anyway? Expansion teams? Vic cursed under his breath and headed for the shower. He shaved while he was in the shower and missed a few spots. Krycek almost told him, but refrained just in time. If he was going to spook the guy, he wanted to save it for something important.
Vic toweled himself off and brushed his fingers through his hair. He threw on some clothes and a really bad red and white checkered shirt. Krycek started to get restive. If all his clones were lonely ill dressed dorks, he was not going to be happy at all.
Things got a little better when Vic returned to the living room and watched some more sports highlights, but all too soon, he turned off the TV and poured the coffee in a mug, took some vitamins and ate a bowl of museli. Krycek almost, metaphorically, gagged.
He didn't give up or go away and when Vic donned boots and a leather jacket, Krycek felt more in charity with the guy. He was okay with the truck too.
The secret `Agency' was a surprise. Krycek knew a lot about this particular enterprise and was surprised Mr. Boy Scout was working for them. The chick at the table was passable. A little tall and on the skinny side and worse, obviously not impressed by Vic.
The tall young man, who sat beside Vic, was more interesting. He was good looking, beautifully dressed and snarky, not that he was in Mulder's range, but he was doing okay riling Vic.
The Director was a revelation. Krycek began to enjoy himself. A little old, way too skinny, but the barely disguised dominatrix apparel made up for her other flaws. She passed out a case file with as much subterfuge, double speak and innuendo as the Smoker had done in his prime.
Krycek was happy. The case was about a nasty SOB. Krycek regretted that he had died before he could even his score with the creep. The team didn't look exactly competent to handle the bastard, so Krycek thought he would monitor the situation and quite possibly be of some valuable assistance.
He distrusted Dobrinbsky on sight and loved Nathan. He applauded Vic's careful handling of the wimpy nerd. At least Vic was smart enough to know Nathan was a goldmine of real Intel beneath his paranoia. The Cleaners were old acquaintances and Krycek had always regretted he hadn't the time to learn more of their expertise. He was pleased to see the beauty in munitions flirted with Vic, although he was less than thrilled to see Vic blush and stammer. He also decided that Mac needed a swift kick in the ass for noticing and ribbing Vic about it.
In the end, Krycek was so caught up in the case and the resulting firepower, kung fu and explosions that he didn't do anything at all. He found himself cheering, um, metaphorically, when Vic did a series of roundhouse punches, swung from a rope and, and set up Mac and Liann for a series of flashy sucker punches and fancy footwork.
It wasn't until Mac and Vic were sprawled, beers in hand, on a very nice leather coach, watching a classic Japanese monster flick that Krycek got the idea that these two were wasting their time bemoaning the lack of a normal `life' because of the Director. He decided that now was the time to lend a hand, so to speak, and jump-start some real tension releasing activity.
Wondering if his `voice' would sound like Vic's voice, he thought his way to Mac's right ear and whispered,"Take off your shirt, Mac."
"What did you say?" Mac turned to Vic and glared at him.
Vic looked back, puzzled. "I didn't say anything."
"You did!" Mac insisted. "You told me to take off my shirt."
Vic's puzzlement turned to affront,"I said no such thing! What's wrong with you? Can't handle a beer without imagining someone has to want your body?"
Mac ground his teeth, but didn't reply and he got them each another beer. They settled back into their semi-exhausted stupor, watching the film.
Krycek was frustrated, but not defeated. He thought about the exchange between the two of them. There was definitely something there. He watched them carefully as a third beer and Mac's secret stash of Doritos and salsa were consumed. It was just too boring for words. All that potential being wasted on lousy special effects and bad breath.
He thought his way into a facsimile of Mac's voice and over to Vic's ear. He said, in a soft, but commanding tone,"We stink. Let's take a shower."
"Nah," Vic replied in a slightly slurred voice,"I'll clean up at my place."
"What?" Mac asked.
"I said,"I'll take a shower when I get home," Mac replied and started to ready himself to leave.
"Be sure to scrub behind your ears like your mom taught you." Mac said.
Vic looked at Mac, his lips turned downward in a hurt expression. "Why do you always have to make a joke about everything?" He made it to his feet on his third try, beer and fatigue making it an effort.
Mac rose too. "I don't know," he replied and looked forlorn. I think it's because you never really want to get to know me."
Vic shrugged helplessly,"Isn't that what we just doing?" he asked. "You know, bonding, hanging out, whatever."
Mac sighed and looked more forlorn,"I guess." He looked around the luxurious apartment. "It's just that you always leave."
Vic seemed baffled,"Well of course I leave. I don't live here. It's not like..."
"Like what?" Mac asked eagerly.
"Nothing," Vic replied firmly and started for the door.
Mac intercepted him and pushed him up against the wall. A picture fell down and the frame broke. Both men ignored the crash.
Now we're getting somewhere, Krycek thought, as dozens of pushing someones up against a wall or being pushed himself, rushed through his memory.
"Wh-what are you doing?" Vic asked.
Mac looked at his hands on Vic's chest and groin pressed against Vic's abdomen. He seemed lost for a moment. "You - you were gonna say something." Mac said at last.
"I was?" Vic asked and attempted to adjust himself out of his awkward position. Since this brought his chest closer to Mac's chest, they both gasped and held still.
Oh, baby! Thought Krycek, get it on already!
"Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you were," Mac said softly and bent his head aligning his face with Vic's, his breath ghosting Vic's cheek.
"I - I don't remember," Vic was whispering too.
Mac moved in closer. He reached behind Vic and switched the overhead light off. The apartment was very dark, but Krycek could see everything clearly. "Something about sleeping here," Krycek hissed into Mac's ear, but Mac was already saying it himself.
"I was?" Vic asked, and undulated his hips against Mac's hips in an age-old gesture every man understood.
After that, there was no more talking. Krycek approved. This language was always the most concise anyway. He watched while they fumbled around. Eventually the shirts and pants came off. He hoped Mac would throw away the red and white shirt while Vic slept.
They ended up on the floor where Mac had stopped Vic, although the lovely couch and the bedroom were nearby. They rubbed without expertise, but it did the job and the grunts and groans were music to Krycek's ears. He really wanted to feel a response. He thought about his body and pretended that he was indeed Vic and feeling what Vic was feeling.
He watched them kiss, finally, for the first time, when it was all over. They remained on the floor, smeared and sticky and quite soon, asleep. He took a moment to admire the long lean Mac and be glad the Vic clone had kept in shape. He felt envious of Vic's intact state and looked longingly at Vic's strong left arm and unmarred, peaceful forehead.
He thought he felt a pang in the region where his heart had once been, but he couldn't be sure it wasn't just wishful thinking.
Krycek went back into the nothingness to think some more. He figured that Vic and Mac would've ended up as they had, with or without his presence and maybe that is why he hadn't been able to feel actual bodily responses.
He began to wonder about time. Perhaps here in this nothingness, he could go backwards or into the future and see what was happening. He remembered some of the other clones. He hadn't been a first generation one by any means. There'd been one he knew had done a hero's duty in WWII and spent time in prison, but Krycek figured that guy was haunted enough by his own memories. There was the asshole USAF clone that coincided with his own lifetime, but Spender had that one die in a crash after it proved to be an alcoholic. Another one was in an asylum for the criminally insane. Krycek thought, even as a ghost, he didn't want to go anywhere near that particular place.
There was another one, a go-getter in the advertising business, just about his own age and successful, from what he'd understood. He thought about popping in on him, but anyone in that biz was bound to be a bastard already and Krycek had no desire to haunt anyone into being good. Besides, the guy was married and still in love with some plain-faced chick. He had also adopted four kids, which was punishment enough for any lifetime.
Krycek thought he should be tired. He'd done an awful lot of thinking and wanted to rest. Resting however, proved to be just as impossible as feeling.
Maybe he was in Hell.
Krycek sighed, well, metaphorically. He gathered up all of his mental reserves and braved thinking about what brought him here.
He guessed he had put it off long enough.
He thought about the events that had led him to the dead zone. He had not been a particularly nice guy. He'd been proud of that actually. If he had started out okay, he'd been happy to lose it quickly enough. Not that he'd imagined he'd end quite so dirty.
Of course, there were others much, much dirtier. They were dead too. Krycek spared a thought, a thankful sort of thought that at least he didn't have to be here with them. This was the determining factor in Krycek's reasoning for why he wasn't actually in Hell.
He was thankful that his model clone would die out soon. Since they couldn't reproduce on their own, all the clones would cease to exist within the next thirty or forty years. In fifty or sixty years all the clones ever made would die off too.
He thought about his life. He really hadn't wanted to review it, but he'd tried everything else. There had been good times. The family that raised him had been kind and never let on he wasn't their real son. He knew now that they had always known what he was. They'd died in an arranged drive-by shooting and just like Spender and Bill Mulder had planned, injustice, rage, and loneliness consumed the boy he'd been.
He'd been ripe alright, ripe for extreme behavior, for the liquor, drugs and sex. Anything that would ameliorate the emptiness. A couple of arrests and a three-month incarceration had toughened him, as well as introduced him to a world that existed behind the faade of middleclass America.
One of Spender's many employees had `rescued' him, not that he'd known Spender and Co. existed. Given him the chance to go to college and make something of himself. He'd gone, not so much because he wanted to be a college boy, but because those who amassed money and power were educated.
Krycek could see, even back then, that in the future, those who knew modern technology and could outwit the justice system would be in positions of power.
He laughed to himself now, at his navet. Technology. Power. Wealth, all of it smoke and mirrors. Well, aliens and conspiracies.
It had been Mulder who'd woken some lost thread of morality in him. Mulder's Madness is what he'd called it to himself. Mulder, impatient and untrusting, but right. Mulder, condescending and arrogant, scared and lonely, repressed and in denial, but right.
Krycek had been fascinated. One after one, the dominoes dropped and things began to make sense. Military/conspiracy experiments, abductions and tests, advanced technology and terror all began to fall into place. As much as he'd wanted Mulder's approval, friendship and trust, he'd wanted in with the big boys too.
He knew it all now, of course. Everything about the conspiracy, the aliens, Samantha, his parents, he knew all of it.
He began to wonder what they were up to now. Skinner, he thought, would be wonderful to haunt a time or two, maybe he'd get lucky and the bastard would have a heart attack. He'd make that sanctimonious Doggett think twice about dismissing extreme possibilities.
He wondered if Scully would tell him to fuck off in the same tone Marita used. He was glad those two never met. Between them, well, it wouldn't be the kind of fun he'd had occasion to experience a few times.
He thought about those times for a moment or so. Shrugged, ah, and went back to thinking about more profitable possibilities.
Mulder. Mulder was a whole lot of thoughts and feelings bundled into a Gordian knot of frustration, admiration, desire and hatred.
He made a wish list, since all he seemed to be able to do was have aspirations anyway. First he'd give Mulder something really paranormal to wig out over. It would have to be terrifying and strange enough to stop Mulder in his tracks and divert him from all other concerns. After that, he'd put Mulder in a compromising position of some sort. Something that reminded him of the way it used to be with him, on that edge of trust, on that razor keen awareness, adrenalin-pumping, testosterone high in the chase for the truth so close he could smell it. Then, well, Krycek really couldn't image a then. If he couldn't really be there for the dnouement, what good was any of it?
Krycek hunkered down, (sigh) metaphorically and brooded.
He thought about Mulder and Scully making nice with the new and mostly engineered sprog. Since Krycek was sure it had been a while, the baby was a normal, if an advanced sort of kid, nothing Mulder couldn't handle. In fact, nothing Mulder wouldn't recognize and be able to commune with. The kid was supposed to turn Mulder's own engineered `gifts' back on. Krycek was sure he and the kid were having a blast.
As for Scully, Krycek cogitated; she'd been through enough. He didn't want to haunt her or the kid. His thoughts darkened, because of Scully and her stubborn insistence in sticking her nose in Mulder's affairs, even when they had not officially been partners, is what had precipitated the first of his major mistakes. He'd saved her life by preventing Mulder from reaching the summit and it had cost him.
He ruminated now, as he had many times when he was alive, at the injustice Mulder heaped on his head and that Mulder had always held Scully up as his bright angel.
Krycek felt the nothingness around him grow colder. It took him a while to perceive it and when he did he became afraid. "Hello?" He begged.
If these were to be his last thoughts, Krycek reasoned, he was going to make them exactly the thoughts he wanted. He dismissed Scully, Skinner, Marita, Spender and Co. from his mind and concentrated on Mulder.
He built everything he remembered about Mulder, inch by inch. He refrained from embellishments and honed his internal descriptions to precise facts. He included the way Mulder's hair fell on his brow, his large nose and changeable eyes, his generous mobile mouth and his long fingered graceful hands. He imagined Mulder, not at his desk, but behind the wheel of a car, waiting for a long red light to turn green. He saw those wonderful hands tapping on the steering wheel, the long torso shifting with the rhythm of the taps and his right toe twitching impatiently for the opportunity to move from brake pedal to gas pedal.
He dressed Mulder in a pale tee shirt and tight jeans with worn running shoes on his feet. He detailed the kind of watch on Mulder's wrist and the golden glint of the fine hairs on his arms. He remembered the scent of and the warmth of sitting in close proximity and regretted that it had never been near enough.
Krycek felt the hum of the engines' first. The suddenness of feeling vibrations filled his senses completely. Next, he perceived the weight and mass of his body occupying space and the sheer gravity of it almost engendered pain. Warmth, air, sound, time, smells, broke upon in rapid waves and he felt dizzy, and exhilarated and alive.
He opened his eyes and Mulder was getting out of a minivan type of vehicle. When he was on his feet, he began stretching the kinks from his spine. Alex Krycek was sure he'd never seen a more perfect sight in the whole of his existence. Mulder approached a bench and Krycek realized he was sitting on another bench, closer to the rushing traffic beyond the fence and partially hidden by the rows of newspaper kiosks and trashcans. The vibrations he felt were from the whoosh of the cars rushing past.
As he watched Mulder, a new influx of memories assailed him. Brief flashes of light and dark, helping Mulder to avoid Roher in a dark passageway, telling Mulder information he could have only known after his demise, and a glimpse of overhead light shining on Mulder as he finally enunciated the truth to a tainted panel of men and hybrids.
Krycek closed his eyes under the onslaught and found solace and strength in breathing in and out in slow, deep, measured breaths.
In the red darkness beneath his closed eyelids, Krycek saw Gibson Praise's laughing face form and the sound of the boy's laughter reverberate on his eardrums. "Alex! Alex Krycek!" He heard the unexpectedly low-pitched boy's voice call to him. "I know you hear me."
"Yes," Krycek answered,"I hear you." Krycek waited and breathed, and then he asked,"Am I alive?"
The boy chuckled. "Were you ever dead?"
Krycek felt despair wash over him, more unanswerable questions and a game he'd thought he was out of, remained in play and thus, had penalties. He put his head in his hands and wanted to weep.
Slowly, Gibson's chortles accompanying his newfound discovery, Krycek realized he had two hands, two arms and two of his favorite worn boots on his feet. "Am I alive?" he asked again in a wondering voice.
"Life is what you make it," Gibson said with great solemnity and disappeared.
Krycek got to his feet. Like Mulder, he stretched the kinks from his spine and shook out the numbness from his feet and hands. He rotated his neck and stared at his strong left arm. He flexed it and saw the tendons ripple and felt the blood flow in his veins.
He picked up his leather jacket from the bench, shrugged himself into it, and hugged himself with glee. He looked up and saw the headlines on the newspapers strung up on the nearest kiosk and, squinting a little, read the date. October 31, 2001.
Never mind he'd been gone for a few years, never mind Mulder would soon learn the real truth from his, Alex Krycek's lips. It was Halloween and he owed Mulder a little something.
He stealthily came up behind Mulder, as he stared moodily through the gaps in the fence at the rushing traffic. Krycek reached out with both hands and covered Mulder's eyes from behind. Mulder started and began to struggle. Krycek held him firmly until he was sure Mulder well and truly scared. He released his hands and Mulder quickly turned his head. "Boo!" Krycek whispered.
For the entire length of the life they made, Mulder never owned up to the girly quality of that scream.