Title: Serenia series 01. Apprentice
Content Warning: Language, violence, and very mild romantic situations. *sorry SMUTers* Also, if you are a big Scully fan you may want to only skim the beginning because she doesn't show up much in this part of the series. In the next part, though, I promise that I'll include more of her. Its just that she doesn't really fit into the storyline yet. Oh, and if you are a FARCE member or just really hate Krycek you should run right now. If you think he's all right, or you don't completely despise him then you won't mind this story, but if you absolutely hate him...well, I apologize because I don't feel the same way.
Summary: Welcome to Serenia; a world that shows what a mystical Earth would be like in our time. Imagine the present Earth that included kingdoms, magic, and other types of things found only in storybooks. This, the first of a series, tells the tale of a man who finally becomes royalty and learns the pleasures and horrors that acceptance into the Serenian Kingdom bring.
Author's Notes: Hola mi buddies. If all goes well this is going to be the first in a series. Hopefully this story will prove that I'm giving fanfic another shot. I kinda gave it up for awhile there. X-Files fanfiction anyway. Oh, thank you ,Lily, for giving me pointers on this story, and thank you, Angela, for doing a wonderful beta reading job :)
The sun shined high over the walls of Serenia: what most outsiders considered to be utopia of Earth. To them, nothing seemed to go wrong within the kingdom's borders. Everyone always seemed so peaceful and carefree within the castle walls, and it wasn't any mystery that those who lived within the Serenian Castle lived quite comfortably. Perhaps it was also because it was so damn hard to get in. Just like an exclusive club you had to be unique to be accepted.
On that fine afternoon a young man, that day turning 32, was walking towards the castle walls. He had decided that today was the best out of any day to try and be accepted into the select kingdom. His father had always tried to fill a position within the castle but had always been denied.
Alexander Krycek looked up to see a man he knew very well walking towards him. "Hey, Alex, please tell me you aren't trying to get into the castle again. You know the last time we tried to sneak in the guard almost took our heads."
Alex smoothed back his short brown hair with a sigh, "I'm not going to try and sneak in. You know the rumors that the prince wants an apprentice?"
His best friend, Sean Jacobson, laughed, "And you, the nobody that you are, expect to be accepted? In that leather jacket of yours?"
Discouraged, Alex looked down at his outfit including his black leather jacket, white shirt, and blue jeans, "Well, you know he wants all interviews done in normal clothes."
"I don't mean to be rude, Alex. We've stuck by each other through thick and thin, but now I have to tell you the truth: neither of us will ever amount to anything. We're not the same as those living in the castle. To be accepted you have to be completely proper, clean-cut, and have more money than we, out here in the streets, could ever dream of."
Sean's blond hair shined in the sunlight accenting his rosy cheeks and sparkling blue eyes. Alex looked at him sadly before nodding, "You're probably right. I don't know why I thought...you're right."
Sean sighed, "Don't give me a guilt trip, ok? I'm not saying that you can't go. All I'm saying is that you shouldn't expect to get in."
"I'm not expecting to get in," Alex told him. "All I want to do is see how highly he regards me." This, however, wasn't completely true. There was something inside of Krycek that was just hoping that the Prince would see something in him and decide to let him stay. However, he didn't feel comfortable sharing this wish with his best friend. Alex supposed that he didn't want to make it seem like he didn't enjoy Sean's company.
Sean shrugged noncommittally, "Ok, well, I wish you luck."
Inside the castle the lights were dim because of the brightness of the sun. The floor was marbled and the throne room was painted white and had expensive artwork hanging from the walls. On one of the bronze thrones at the far end of the room sat the Prince of Serenia, Fox William Mulder. After interviewing apprentices all morning he was tired and becoming quickly annoyed. Couldn't anyone live up to his standards? The people in this kingdom made him sick.
From the other side of the room his guard, Sir John Byers, poked his head out from the door, "I'm sorry to bother you, Sir, but we have another man in to try out."
Fox yawned, "Fine. Send him in. This shouldn't take long." At least, he hoped it wouldn't take long. All the men that had come in were either prissy and rich, completely boring, or extremely stupid. He didn't know how much longer he would be able to hold out.
"Are you sure, Sir? He doesn't look like a nobleman. In fact, he seems like an everyday lowlife off the street." Byers was expecting for Fox to send the man away just by this. His Majesty didn't exactly enjoy the company of peasents. Fox usually found them dirty and idiotic.
"Send him in anyway," Fox told him. "This should take even shorter a time span than the others."
"Yes, Sir," John said. He closed the door and moved towards the young man in the hall, "The Prince of Serenia will see you now."
Alex nodded nervously before following the guard cautiously into the main throne room. He looked around at the posh scenery before glancing at the Prince of Serenia for the first time in person. Yes, he had seen the prince during kingdom gatherings but never face to face.
Fox, on the other hand, was completely bored by this whole ordeal. Another loner had come to try out for the position. Yay. "Welcome, um..."
"Alexander Krycek, Sir, though people call me Alex."
"Very well, Alex. Pardon my saying so but you don't look like a nobleman," Fox observed.
<Gee, what gave you the clue?"
Fox sighed, "And you expect me to give you the position even though you are a commoner?" He knew this one was going to be easy to drop. Just tell him he wasn't good enough, possibly hurt his feelings a bit, and send the young man on his way.
Alex looked at him. He hadn't been expecting any better because there were rumors that the prince was conceited, "I'm not going to push any decisions on you, Sir."
Fox frowned at him, "Push anything on me, Alex?"
"Well, you are the prince. If anyone else talked to me like you are now I would have beaten their ass by now."
<Maybe this one will be interesting after all. Well, it has been awhile since I've had any fun"
"I've trained, Sir," Alex informed him. <I've trained well in hopes that this moment would come so that I could show you or another part of the royal family that I'm more than just a poor ma," he added.
Fox laughed. "Well, _Krycek_, I'd love to put that theory to the test. Are you carrying a weapon?"
Alex nodded and exposed his gun which was in the holster around his waist. At this, Fox laughed even harder, "No, Krycek, I meant a sword."
"I didn't think I'd need one, Sir," Alex admitted to him, silently wondering what the older man had planned.
Fox looked towards the iron door on the right side of the room. "Frohike!" he called, smiling as a shorter man with medium brown/gray hair poked his head out.
"Frohike, bring young Alex here a sword. I wish to test his skills myself," Fox ordered.
Melvin Frohike nodded and strode away in his burgundy robe. He quickly returned carrying a case which held a sword within it and handed it to Fox, "Here you go, Sir."
"Thank you, Frohike," Fox acknowledged. He closed the metal door and through the sword at Alex who caught it shakily, "Interesting catch, Krycek. Now, lets do this." He reached down to his waist and withdrew his shiny sword from it's golden case. The handle of the sword was gold and had three small diamonds on it.
Alex pulled his sword out and examined it, "Gee, Sir, I thought you would have had better spares than this piece of shit." The sword had a slightly rusted silver handle with a few scratches on it and no impressive gems like the Prince's had.
Fox chuckled darkly, "You are right, Krycek, though I don't think you're worthy of them. Lets see you fight and we'll see." He stood and raised his sword up, "En Garde."
The Prince charged Alex and seemed almost surprised as the younger man blocked all of his attacks. They fenced for nearly fifteen minutes until both men knocked each other's swords away. Sprinting for the weapons, they grabbed them and immediately had them at each other's throats. Seeing the prince wince Alex quickly withdrew and stepped back, "I was caught up in the moment, Sir."
Fox stared at him in disbelief before moving his sword until it was on Alex's neck again, "Ok, Krycek, I want the truth: were you sent here by an outside power? If you lie to me I'll take your head off before you're able to take another breath."
Alex trembled and gazed at the Prince in terror, "Um, no, Sir. I've always been a member of the Serenian Kingdom."
"If you are a Serenian why have I never seen you in any of the fencing competitions that our kingdom holds yearly?" Fox questioned suspiciously. He frowned, wondering if this man was hiding anything. The younger man looked innocent enough, but sometimes innocence could be decieving.
Alex took in a deep breath, "Well, Sir, I come from a poor family and we can never spare the money for me to enter. Besides, the matches are rigged so that the most well-known fighter will win."
Fox nodded and withdrew his sword, "I see. If it means anything to you, Krycek, I am shocked. You are a much better fighter than I suspected, but you have to understand that these castle walls symbolize high society."
Understanding what Fox was getting at, Alex lowered his head, "I understand, Sir. Well, at least I can say that I tried." For a moment, just a moment, Alex had thought that he had a chance. He knew that he shouldn't have tried to fool himself. This life was something that would always be out of his reach.
Fox inspected him visually. <Shit, he's really upset. Ok, tell him he's a loser and kick him out. Still...he is a damn good fighter."
Alex looked at him, unable to believe what he was hearing, "Are you serious?" <Me invited to one of the royal balls that I've only heard rumors about? I must be dreaming."
"I sure am, but...you can't wear that. Come with me. I still have some of my old things in the lower chambers. You'll probably fit into them." Motioning for Alex to follow him, Fox walked over to the metal door that he had been at earlier and knocked on it. Again, Melvin answered.
"You knocked, Sir?"
Fox nodded, "Yes, I need to bring Alexander down to the lower chambers. Is anyone down there at the moment?"
Melvin shook his head, "No, Sir, the lower chambers are empty now. Would you like me to escort him down?"
"No, Frohike, I'll take him myself. Thank you." He waved towards Krycek, "Are you coming, Krycek?"
Alex nodded, somewhat in a daze, "Yes, Sir." He followed Fox through the metal door and into a room with wooden floors and white drab walls. They walked down a bleak hallway before reaching the top of a staircase. Fox led Alex down the winding steps that seemed to go on forever until they were in a hallway with stone walls leading to a set of chambers. The castle was dimly lit with a few torches.
Fox sighed, "Again and again I've asked for this area to be redecorated. It looks like a damn torture chamber." There was a bloodcurdling scream in the distance that made Alex shudder. Fox looked back at him, an evil grin on his face, "Ignore that." Alex glanced at the Prince suspiciously before doing his best to make his expression neutral again.
The two walked in silence for a few minutes before turning into a brick room with five rows of clothing hanging from metal bars on the ceiling. "Welcome to my storage closet," Fox announced.
Alex looked around in amazement. All of his family combined didn't have this many clothes! "This is astounding!" There were clothes of all different materials, styles, and colors. Some were fancy and others were casual, but it was obvious that they had all been fairly expensive in the past.
"Pick whatever you like, Krycek. None of them fit me anymore."
Alex stared at him dubiously, "Honestly? But these things are so...fancy."
Fox laughed heartily at this, "Fancy? These old things?" To him, all these clothes were rags compared to some of the things he had acquired lately.
"I have no clue what to pick," Alex admitted. "Most of my outfits include merely jeans and a shirt."
Again, Fox laughed, "Very amusing. Well, I'll admit that I'm not particularly good at choosing cloths, either. Stay here for a moment." He jogged out into the hallway and towards the foot of the stairs, "Frohike!"
"Yes, Sir?" Came the faint reply.
"Call the maid, Vanessa, and tell her to come down here."
Twenty minutes later Fox returned to the room with a beautiful woman with dirty blond hair and glowing cerulean eyes. She smiled shyly at Alex before turning to the Prince, "What can I do for you, my Lord?"
"Alex, here, is new to our kingdom. He's a common man without anything to wear to the ball tonight and, knowing your expertise, I thought you might be able to find him something to wear that would fit him nicely," Fox told her.
Vanessa nodded, "I'm sure I'll be able to find something." She glanced at Alex before murmuring, "He has a very pleasing figure and skin tone, as well as exceptional eyes." Alex turned red at the comments.
Fox, noticing this, chuckled in amusement, "Just find the young man an outfit." He turned to Alex, "I will let Vanessa tend to her job. If you will excuse me I must meet with my advisor and prepare for the ball. Seek me out tonight."
Alex nodded, "Thank you, Sir."
With that Fox left the two alone. Vanessa, who had been fishing through the clothes, held up a hazel ensemble, "I think this will suit you quite nicely. Actually, everything in here would suit you, but this will really accent your skin tone."
Alex gulped before offering her a weak smile, "I appreciate your help. Where can I change into it?"
Vanessa giggled lightly at this before moving towards him, "You really are a common man, aren't you, Alex? In a castle you don't put on party attire yourself. That's what I'm here for." <This man really is naive, isn't he? It is a pleasent change. Besides, he is rather handsome. Extremely handsome, actually>
She grabbed his hand, "C'mon. The royal family and top advisors resign in the chambers on the first floor of the castle and the second is reserved for special guests of the King and Queen and top guards but there should be some openings in the third level. We'll get you changed there. Follow me." She draped the hazel suit over her arm before walking out of the room with Alex right on her heels.
Fox returned to the main chamber before moving into a small study with gold window framing and bronze couches. A glass table sat in the middle of the room and against the wall was a small television. Sitting on the couch was Fox's top advisor, Walter Skinner. The older man looked at the Prince, a grin on his face, "Greetings, Fox. You haven't been around all day."
"I've been interviewing apprentices," Fox informed him wearily.
Walter raised his eyebrows, "No luck?"
Fox shrugged, "The morning turned up no one, but-"
"I don't see why you want an apprentice anyway," Walter cut in. "You still have so much to learn yourself without working with another young lad." In all honesty, he wondered if an apprentice would disturb his relationship with the Prince. They had been close for such a long time, and Walter feared that another man would take his place as Fox's best friend.
"Please, Skinner, I wasn't finished speaking, and, in answer to your question, I don't want an apprentice just to teach them what I know. I want a person to identify with." Thinking quickly he added, "I don't mean any offense, but it would be nice to speak to someone with some naivet."
"I don't take offense, Fox. Now, what were you saying?"
Fox took in a deep breath, "The last fellow I interviewed seemed to have some potential. His name was Alexander Krycek. Have you heard anything about him?"
"Alexander Krycek?" Walter echoed. "No, I've never heard of the man. Why?"
"He's a commoner, Skinner, and I don't know if Mother will be pleased, but he is a damn good fighter," Fox explained.
Walter's eyes narrowed, "You fought him?"
"We fenced," Fox explained. "He was remarkable. Honestly, Skinner, he seemed to be at my level of expertise when it came to fighting."
Walter chuckled, "Impossible. The only man better than you is the King, and even he is getting slow."
"No, Skinner, I'm serious. This man, Krycek, he was my equal. We fought ineffectually for quarter of an hour until we forced each other's swords from our hands. Krycek and I retrieved them at the same time and put them to each other's throats."
Hearing this, Walter leaned forward, "Did he try to hurt you, Fox?"
Fox laughed, "Calm down, loyal Skinner. He seemed shocked by his own ability and apologized."
Walter frowned, "Well, he did the right thing." He rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Is this Alexander still here?"
"Yes," Fox told him. "Krycek is with Vanessa right now getting an outfit for the ball tonight."
Walter's eyes widened in disbelief, "You invited this...peasant to one of our royal balls?"
"Dear Skinner, this is merely a test to see if he can stand up to our level of society. If he fits in I think I'm going to invite him to stay here for a week so that he can be monitored and hopefully accepted by Mother."
"Ah, your mother." Skinner sighed, "She didn't like the idea of an apprentice from the start."
Fox nodded, "I know, but she isn't going to rule me forever. I'm my own man."
"So, will I get to meet this Alexander tonight?"
"Yes, Skinner. I've instructed him to seek me out," Fox replied.
Skinner let out a deep breath, "I hope you know what you're doing."
Fox smiled, "He seems quiet and reserved. I'm sure that we could both persuade him to show his true self tonight."
The music in the ballroom hurt his ears as he moved through the large crowds of people. Alex didn't recognize anyone and he felt uncomfortable in the fancy clothes he was wearing. After badgering Vanessa for a little bit she had finally let him wear just a green suit jacket and pants combination with a black shirt underneath it. Luckily, it seemed that other people were dressed down, as well. No one was wearing a tux that night except for the King who was perched on his throne in the middle of the room next to Fox's mother, Tina. The King, William, was known for his temper, but Alex knew that he shouldn't judge without knowing the man. Besides, he was well respected because he had accomplished many good things for Serenia.
Looking around for Fox, he was alarmed when a hand touched his shoulder lightly. Turning around he found himself looking into the eyes of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her hair was brown and wavy and it accented her forest green, flowing dress. She smiled at him, "Hey, you look lost."
<Lost? You don't know the half of it> Alex returned the smile with the most charming grin he could offer her, "I am, kind of."
The woman chuckled lightly before taking his hand, "Maybe I can help you find your way. May I have the next dance?"
"Sure." The two headed out for the dance floor, and Alex was slightly thrown off by the fact that most of the other couples took one look at the woman and moved away so they could watch them. A slow song began to play and they held each other, letting themselves become involved in the music.
The woman leaned towards him, "So, what's your name? I've never seen you around here before."
"I'm Alex. Alex Krycek," Alex replied.
The woman put her head on his shoulder, smiling, "You don't seem to know who I am, either."
"Should I?" Alex asked. "Actually, now that you say that, you do look familiar."
The woman nodded, "I'm Samantha."
"Samantha," Alex said, echoing the name. "It suits you."
Samantha giggled lightly, "Thanks. Its Samantha Mulder."
At this Alex had to do his best not to freeze. This was Samantha Mulder, as in the Princess of Serenia!? Damn it! He knew she was familiar! Apparently noticing that he had tensed, Samantha looked up at him, "That surprises you?"
"N-no," Alex stuttered. "I, um, I just, well, this is my first ball, if you must know."
Samantha grinned in understanding and put her head on his shoulder again, "Its nice to have you, Alex. Don't worry, I'll be sure to help you tonight."
Was it his imagination or was the Princess of Serenia coming on to him? Deciding to put it off, Alex put his cheek against her hair, relishing in the sweet aroma coming from it. The fragrance smelled like lush roses and it put him into a complete trance. As the music ended Samantha put a hand on his arm and pulled him into the crowd towards the exit of the ballroom, "Now, maybe we can go up to my chamber so I can help you."
Alex stared at her, praying that his lust wouldn't control his body, "Chamber?"
"On the first floor. It will be completely private," Samantha hinted. She smiled seductively making him shiver.
He was about to give in to her when, all of a sudden, he heard a familiar voice call, "Hey, Sammy, what are you doing to poor Krycek?"
Samantha sighed in annoyance, "Great, its my brother."
Fox walked over to them in a deep blue suit with a huge grin on his face, "Krycek, were you about to go up to her chamber?"
Alex blushed, "Well, I, um..."
"Ok, Nosy, how do you know Alex?" Samatha questioned, still slightly irked by this situation.
Fox grinned in response to her frustration. "Krycek came to me today to try out for the apprentice position. I invited him to come tonight."
"Mom's not going to like that," Samantha warned.
Fox shrugged, "Who cares? From that dance I just watched it seems like you don't." When Samantha turned a deep shade of red Fox grabbed Alex's hand, "Come on, Sir Passion, this party is far from over."
"Sorry, Sir, but are you a little on the drunk side?" He seemed so much looser than he had been earlier.
Samantha laughed at this, "Unfortunately he's like this at every party."
Fox tugged Alex harder, "Come on."
Alex nodded, "Yes, Sir."
Fox chuckled, "Will you stop that? For tonight, call me Fox."
"I'm going to go visit with Mother," Samantha informed him, sensing that she was no longer wanted. Damn Fox and his interruptions.
Fox sighed, "Go ahead. Come with me to the thrones, Krycek. Skinner is there. He's my advisor, and I'm sure you'll enjoy his company."
Before Alex could say anything Fox pulled him across the ballroom and over to his throne where he sat down and surveyed the area. Alex continued to stand awkwardly by the wall. From the other side of the room Walter came towards them in a standard gray suit and tie. He eyed Alex warily before smiling at Fox, "Good evening, Fox."
"Good evening, Skinner." He motioned towards Alex, "This is Alex Krycek."
Walter hesitantly shook his hand, "Its a pleasure, Alexander." So, this was the young man that had beaten the Prince? He didn't look that tough. Walter sighed, knowing that he could take Alexander down if needed.
"You, too, Sir. Please, just Alex, though." Alex eyed him cautiously while sensing the older man's discomfort. He felt that everyone was wary of him and he didn't know why.
Seeming to become more comfortable, Walter scanned the crowd, "So, Fox, any interesting women tonight?"
"No, although Alex seems to be getting along with my sister."
Walter raised his eyebrows at Alex, "Seriously? Consider yourself lucky, Alex. She barely becomes attracted to anyone." Samantha was interested in this man? Fox must have been imagining things.
Fox groaned suddenly, "Oh no, look who decided to drop in."
Walter looked where Fox was and laughed, forgetting Alex for the moment. "She just adores you, Fox."
"Marita Covarrubias is a whore. I would never give in to her constant nagging," Fox growled in response.
Alex looked towards the woman. "Is she a Serenian?"
Fox shook his head. "Well, she considers herself Serenian, but she's really from the Relsin kingdom. Believe me, Alex, I hope you never have to meet the slut."
"I doubt Alex will get that pleasure," he said, his eyes narrowing. "She's heading right for us."
Marita Covarrubias walked up to the three men in her white short-cut dress that exposed a little too much of her legs. A white silk shawl was draped over her arms and she was a few inches taller because of the white heeled shoes she was wearing. She smiled sweetly, "Fox, I thought you said you were going to be too tired to come to your mother's next ball!"
"Samantha made me come," Fox lied.
Marita grinned at Walter, "It's always a pleasure."
"I feel that way, too." Walter's voice was dripping with sarcasm, but she didn't seem to notice. Instead, her eyes had settled on Alex.
She put out her hand daintily, "Hi. I'm Marita Covarrubias." <Well, this boy could be interesting. He looks innocent enough>
Alex reluctantly took her hand and kissed it, "I'm Alex Krycek." Seeing her amused expression, he did his best not to look at her for fear of doing something to her that he would regret.
Marita glanced at Fox, "I didn't know that you were getting in fresh meat for this party."
"Alex isn't fresh meat. I invited him here," Fox told her sternly. It was just like Marita to say such a thing. He was sure that if Marita wasn't part of the Relsinian royal kingdom that she would be a prostitute selling herself despretly on the street.
Marita smiled sardonically before putting her hand on Alex's shoulder, "Well, then, since this is probably your first ball I'll be sure to show you around." <I'll show you around myself, that is. He is rather good looking. I think this Alex could deserve me. Once.>
"Well, we've taken care of that, Marita," Fox commented. He could see what she was trying to do to his apprentice, and he didn't appreciate her seduction attempts. Luckily, it didn't seem like Alex was falling for them. Smart man.
Marita glared at him, "Fine, I know when I'm not wanted."
Fox nodded, "Yes, you do." It was the truest thing she had said all night.
"You are in a bad mood tonight, aren't you, Fox?" Marita honestly didn't know why Fox hated her so much. Perhaps it was because he was so used to strange woman drooling over him that he didn't know what a true woman was. Well, she was standing right in front of him if he wanted to see.
"Yes, well, you do have that effect on people," Fox retorted. Even Alex had to do his best not to chuckle at the look that crossed Marita's face.
Marita shrugged in resignation, "Well, I'll leave you boys alone, then. Walter, do you know where your guard, John, is?" John couldn't compare to Fox or Walter, but he was attractive in his own clean-cut way. Plus, he was easily embarrassed and completely easy to entice. Toying with him was always an enjoyable experience.
"No," Walter answered strongly, "and even if I did I wouldn't let you try to allure him."
"Now, Walter, who said anything about alluring?" Marita asked, an innocent expression on her face.
Walter frowned in annoyance, "Go bother someone else."
"Fine, I'm going, but I'll be back, boys," she said. With that, she turned and walked away, making sure to walk with more bounce in her step than usual.
Fox scoffed, "I have never met a more horrid beast."
Walter grinned, "Amen."
Seeing that Alex was remaining quiet, Fox hit his arm, "What about it, Krycek, or did you think she was attractive?"
Alex quickly shook his head, "No."
Walter hit him lightly, "Come on, you can say more than one word, Alex."
Alex took in a deep breath, "Fine, she seems like a desperate slut."
"Now THAT'S more like it," he said with a grin. Perhaps Alex would be a fun guy to be around after all. He seemed loose enough.
Fox nodded, happy that his apprentice had finally said something beyond his reserved quietness, "A truer word has never been spoken. I say we drink to it. Red wine all around?"
Walter nodded, "I've been too tense lately."
Fox looked at Alex teasingly, "How about you, Krycek, or are you one of those 'squeaky clean' types?"
"I'll have some," Alex said simply.
Fox smiled slyly, "Great. I'm looking forward to seeing you intoxicated. Maybe you won't be so damn reserved."
Walter motioned across the room to a man by the door. The man nodded and walked towards them carrying three silver goblets. Reaching them, the man grinned, "I see you two have another partner to drink with this evening."
"Yes, Langly, we do," Fox said. "Meet Alex Krycek. He will be moving in soon to be my apprentice."
Alex looked at him, shocked, "Really? You chose me?"
Fox laughed, "You are so surprised? Why else would I have invited you here?"
"To test me, I guess," Alex speculated.
Fox shrugged, "So, you passed the test. Now, lets drink."
Ringo Langly passed out the wine, "Enjoy, Gentlemen."
"Thank you, Langly."
Walter took his goblet and raised it, "A toast to a wonderful ball."
Fox nodded, "In addition: a toast to my new apprentice."
Alex smiled timidly, "A toast to the Serenian Kingdom."
Fox and Walter nodded and the three brought there goblets together before drinking the sweet liquid. Walter sighed contentedly, "Ah, Serenian Red Wine is the best in the world."
Fox patted Alex's shoulder, "You've never tasted real wine until you've tasted ours, Alex. Do you have Serenian Red Wine out there in the outer parts of the kingdom?"
Alex shook his head, "We have red wine, but nothing this good."
"I guess its a bad thing," Walter reasoned. "This wine makes it so easy to get drunk."
Fox frowned mockingly, "That's a bad thing?" Finishing his he motioned to Ringo again, "Langly, bring three more and keep them coming."
After about five hours the crowd had dissipated and only the special guests of the royal family and the dwellers of the castle remained. Samantha walked up to her brother and nudged him. He grinned groggily at her, "I'm awake."
"You look dead," she informed her. "I was going to wait a few more minutes before tossing you away with the old food."
Fox shrugged and kicked Walter a few times. He finally began to stir, "That is some excellent wine."
"You won't think its so excellent when you have a killer hangover tomorrow," Samantha countered. She looked around, "Where's Alex?"
Walter glanced around drunkenly before spotting the younger man sleeping in a ball on the floor. He kicked Alex a few times, smiling triumphantly when he began to stir, "Come on, rise and shine, Alex."
Alex looked up and rubbed his temple, "Man, I have a headache."
Samantha sighed, "Well, you were the only one that didn't completely make a fool of yourself."
Fox groaned, "Ok, tell me now. What did I do?"
"You began rubbing up one of the maids."
As Walter laughed Fox put his hands over his face, "Shit." This was the only bad part of getting drunk at balls. He never remembered anything that he did, and they were usually horrible things.
Samantha grinned, "Oh, and Walter? You walked up to Marita, told her she was a whore, and smacked her face."
Walter shrugged, "My only regret is that I can't remember her face after I had done so."
Alex looked up at her, surprised by how frightened he was, "What about me?"
Samantha thought for a moment before saying, "I didn't see you, so I guess you just went right to sleep."
"I was hoping you would have done something interesting," Fox whined.
Alex shook his head, "If I would have made a fool out of myself I would be out on the streets right now."
Samantha rubbed his hair, "No, I would have stopped my mom. Um, Fox, where is he going to stay until we can talk to Mom and Dad?"
Fox shrugged, "He could stay with me but my bed is cramped as it is."
"I have the worst room in this whole castle," Walter moaned.
"Well, I have a little room," Samantha suggested. "He can stay with me." <He was going to come up with me in the first place> she added, doing her best not to blush.
Fox shook his head, "Mom's not going to like that. I have room. Krycek, you'll stay with me, ok?" Even though Alex seemed like an ok guy he didn't like the idea of him being alone in a room with his sister, and it was more for his sake than fore Sam's.
Alex nodded, "Well, I can sleep on the floor if there is no room for me." Hell, he'd been happy that he had been treated so well so far. Sleeping on the floor would probably be more of a luxury than his own bed.
Fox chuckled, "Hey, no apprentice of mine will sleep on the floor. That's the first thing I'm teaching you, Krycek, so take notes. Now, follow me upstairs, and try not to fall down the stairs as we go." Fox smiled at Alex's doubtful look. "Well, I'll try if you'll try."
Samantha laughed, "Hey, Fox, remember that one time-"
"Not now," Fox muttered. "I don't need to be reminded of that experience."
"Very well. Goodnight, Fox." She grabbed Walter's hand, "Goodnight."
Samantha then grabbed Alex's hand, "It was a pleasure meeting you. I'll look for you tomorrow?"
Alex kissed her hand softly, "I look forward to it, and the pleasure of your presence was all mine."
"Rest well." Samantha kissed her brother's cheek softly before strolling out of the room and towards the grand marble stairs leading towards her chamber.
Fox looked at his new apprentice, "Come, Krycek, you look like you're about to collapse." The two bid farewell to Walter before going up the winding stairs to the first level of the castle. From there, they walked down a long stone hallway and opened the door leading to a posh room complete with a balcony and gold-tinted linings on the bedspread, curtains, and illustration frames.
"As you can see by the size of the bed, Krycek, it will be a tight fit. I hope you'll manage."
"If it is a problem I'll take the floor," Alex offered again. Somehow, he didn't feel right knowing he was going to be sharing a bed with the Prince of Serenia.
Fox frowned, "You've already forgotten the first thing I've taught you?"
"No," Alex muttered. He slowly removed his green jacket and looked around, "Where should I hang this?"
"Just drop it on the floor," Fox instructed. "Its old. You'll be able to get fresh clothing in time." He pulled off his blue jacket and white shirt, exposing his chest. Pulling off his blue pants he climbed into bed in only his black silk boxers. Noticing that Alex was staring at him Fox chuckled, "What, Alex, you've never seen royalty undressed?"
"No," Alex answered simply. Deciding to follow suit, he removed his black shirt and green pants, climbing into the bed next to Fox in his white boxers.
The Prince grinned, "So, how does this room compare to your dwelling place in the city?"
"This room is just slightly smaller than our whole house!" Alex exclaimed. The mattress, smooth and soft, was a welcome change to the lumpy, thin one he usually came home to. Pulling the white cover around his bare shoulders he easily remembered how flimsy his sheets at home were and how many nights he'd spent shivering because of the cold.
Fox sighed and let himself drift to sleep on the soft bed. Alex watched him for a few moments wondering what would become of this situation. All he knew at this moment was that he was warm and he was content with the warm. Giving in to his eyes, he fell fast asleep.
During the middle of the night Fox awoke from a horrible nightmare, terrified. Rubbing his eyes, he frowned as he heard a faint crying around him. At first he thought it was himself, but after a few moments he realized that the crying was coming from the man sleeping next to him. Glancing down at Alex, he saw that the younger man was also bathed in sweat and he was tossing and turning in his sleep.
Deciding to help Alex out, Fox shook him a few times, smiling as Alex finally opened his eyes and looked at him, "Its ok, Krycek, its just me. You're safe, all right?"
Alex glanced at him, guiltily, "I don't believe this. Sir, I, um, I'm sorry for disturbing your sleep." At that moment he was more embarrassed than he had ever been in his whole life. The one time that everything seems to be going well he has to have a fucking nightmare to screw it all up.
"Don't be," Fox told him. "I, too, had foul dreams tonight. Perhaps its a sign that we both dreamed of these things. Do you wish to speak about it?"
"I...I can't," Alex whispered. "Forgive me. Maybe tomorrow." He wasn't good with sharing how he was feeling, and he silently hoped that the Prince would forget all about his bad dreams.
Fox nodded, "I understand. Goodnight, then." With that, he laid back down, waiting for the younger man to go to sleep. It only took a few moments for him to do so, and even then Fox could hear him mumbling in his slumber. Since he didn't seem disturbed as he had been before Fox decided to let him be, and he closed his eyes, letting the sound of his apprentice's breathing lull him to sleep.
The next morning Alex awoke and, still in a sleepy daze, he glanced around the room, momentarily forgetting where he was. Looking to see if Fox was still there he was alarmed to find that he wasn't. Rubbing his face, he stood up and slid out of the bed in his boxers to see if Fox was still in the room. It didn't seem like he was.
All of a sudden the door open and Vanessa entered in her normal maid attire. Taking one quick glance at Alex, she smiled and shut the door, "Well, good morning to you."
Alex flushed and looked around for any robe that he could use to cover himself. Finding none, he climbed back into bed and pulled the covers around him, "What are you doing here so early?"
"Early? Its 10:30am, and you, fine sir, have missed breakfast."
"Damn," Alex muttered, "I've already done my first thing wrong." Second thing, if he counted his dream the night before, but he didn't feel like telling Vanessa about it.
Vanessa chuckled, "Don't worry about it. I figured you would be hungry so I brought you some food." From the cart she had brought in she showed him a plate covered with eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, muffins, hash browns, and fresh fruit.
Alex eyed the array of food with shock, "All that is for me?" He feared that eating this much food would make him explode!
"I figured you would be hungry," Vanessa explained to him.
Alex laughed besides himself, "I don't know if I've ever seen so much food in the same place!"
Vanessa smiled, "Well, its already going to be cool. Don't let it get completely cold." She watched the sparkle of surprise in his clear eyes and it nearly made her sweat with lust. He was so adorable.
Alex obliged her quickly by grabbing the plate from her arms and leaning against the bedpost. Taking a bite of the pancakes he sighed with content, "This is great."
Vanessa said nothing. Instead, she continued to watch him with interest. Uncomfortable, Alex motioned to the food, "What? Do you want some?"
"Yes, Alex," Vanessa responded lustfully, "I want some." She moved closer to him and removed her apron leaving her in just a black dress. Alex watched in shock as she took this off, leaving her just in a black silk camisole. Her hair flowed over it like a river making her look like a mythical goddess.
As Alex continued to watch her, Vanessa sat down on the bed next to him and moved his plate of food so that it was on the small glass nightstand by the bed. The sun beams from the window trickled onto her hair, making it shine. "I want to show you what living with hired help is all about."
"Vanessa, I-" Before Alex could finish his sentence, Vanessa had closed the gap between them and kissed him on the lips.
Pulling away quickly, Vanessa eyed him slyly, "You were saying?" Alex merely looked at her in amazement. Taking this as a sign that she should continue, Vanessa put her lips on his again, letting her hands run through his hair.
Alex did not respond to her kisses right away. His only thoughts were of Samantha...what if it were she kissing him like this? This thought forced him to respond to the kisses until he was completely hard and aroused.
Vanessa laughed gently at his sudden lust and put a slender hand on his bare chest, "Well, I see you're thirst for me is like mine for you. Alex, I wanted you from the moment I saw you yesterday, but I didn't want to become too involved when Fox was around. He doesn't approve of his servants 'taking advantage', as he calls it, of his guests."
These words broke through the barrier of Alex's thoughts and he stared at her in shock, "Vanessa, I...can't do this."
Vanessa smiled at him, "Yes, you can, Alex. I'll help you." Charming and naive. Now he was no longer just cute. She found him completely irrisistable.
"No, Vanessa, I can't-" His words were cut off as Vanessa put her lips on his again. It took a few moments of puzzlement to pull away from her, "Please, listen to me. You seem like a wonderful woman, but I can't."
Vanessa pouted in disappointment, her heart wilting, "Why can't you? Is there a reason?"
"Its just that I fear that there is another that-"
Again, Vanessa cut him off, "I can be that person. Please, Alex, for you I will be that person." When Alex did nothing but turn away she took that opportunity to kiss his cheek softly before moving away from him and returning to her position by the breakfast cart, "I will leave you for now, but remember that I want you, Alexander Krycek, and I always get what I want." With that she left the room leaving him alone with his food.
He looked at the large assortment of food on the white china plate and picked it up shakily before putting it back down on the table. Alex glanced across the room only to see that the Prince had set out clothes for him on the plush burgundy chair by the window. Grabbing the outfit slowly, he clothed himself in the white shirt and black pants. After he had done so he examined himself in the mirror by the bathroom. Not his best but presentable for royalty.
At that moment everything came into perspective. He walked over to the balcony doors and pulled them open. The sun's rays hit his face, and, for a moment, the warmth gave him a feeling of pleasure. Alex looked out over the balcony at the homes below. For a second he thought he could make out his house but it quickly disappeared among the other houses again.
Closing the balcony doors, Alex sighed as he realized what life would be like for him now. He would be alone and uncomfortable among strangers. There was a small possibility that he would never see Sean or his family ever again. Instead, the castle walls would keep him from the outside world. Did he want that? Did he feel like the luckiest man alive or like a prisoner sentenced to life within a large jail? At the moment he felt there was no choice. The Prince of Serenia had chosen him to be his apprentice, and that was what he was going to be.
At that moment the door to the room opened and the man that had let him in to see the prince yesterday. The older man bowed, his red hair shining in the rays coming through the balcony doors, "Sir, pardon my intruding, but the Prince is asking for you."
"Am I terribly late?" Alex asked worriedly. Great, only the first day and he was already late for something.
At his uneasiness, the man, Byers, chuckled, "Not at all, Sir. The Prince told me himself that you hadn't rested well last night and that you should be allowed a few more hours of sleep."
"Hours!?" Alex exclaimed in wonder. "What time was the Prince awake!?"
"His Majesty was up at, lets see, 6:30am, I believe."
"6:30!?" Alex rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Well, then, I guess I shouldn't keep him waiting any longer."
Byers nodded, "Yes, Sir, we should go." He motioned for Alex to follow him and the two began out of the room and into the first level hallway. Once reaching the end of it they walked down the staircase all the way to the main level of the castle. >From there they walked back to the throne room where Alex had first met the Prince.
Outside of the throne room they were approached by Frohike who was wearing the same robe that he had been wearing the day before. He smiled at the two men as they approached, "Good morning. The Prince has called for you I suppose, Sir Krycek?"
Sir Krycek. The show of respect was so unheard of to Alex. He had been...was a poor man. Alex nodded and tried to cover his restlessness, "Yes, Frohike, he has, although I'm not exactly sure what he plans for me to do."
Frohike grinned with reassurance, "Not to worry, young Sir. I'm sure the Prince will go easy on you since you are new to the kingdom. Oh, might I say, don't be alarmed by peasant jokes he may crack while you are around him. Its his way of being friendly."
"I'll remember that, Frohike," Alex told him. "Thank you."
Frohike turned his attention to Byers, "And you, Sir, are just the Prince's suck up."
"Quiet, Frohike. He regards me higher than he does you," Byers retorted. This type of mock arguing between himself and Frohike was common, but every time he did his best to win.
Frohike laughed mockingly, "I'm sure, Sir."
Byers smirked, "Go back to your work, Frohike, and let me get this lad to the Prince before he has all of our heads."
"We'll continue this later when the boy isn't around," Frohike threatened jokingly.
Byers sighed and grabbed Krycek's arm, "let's go, young Sir."
Krycek followed Byers into the throne room where he found the Prince seated on his throne and talking to Skinner. The older man was nodding frequently and it was at that moment that Alex noticed he was wearing the armor of a Serenian warrior.
The Prince apparently noticed Alex and smiled, "So, I see you finally decided to wake up."
"I apologize, Sir," Alex said. "Its just that I haven't slept in a more comfortable place."
Walter turned to the Prince and nodded, "I'll go now, Fox."
"Return by tomorrow, Skinner, or I'll fear for your safety," Fox told him. Hearing this, Walter left the throne room.
"If I may ask, where is he going?" Alex questioned.
Fox sighed, "Relsin is upset over some disputes, and Skinner is going to send a message to the king from my father."
"What disputes, and what does your father say about them?" Alex asked.
"Nosy, aren't you?" Fox joked flippantly.
At this, Alex looked at the floor, "I'm sorry, Sir, its just that I've always been curious when it comes to legal debates."
"A follower of the wars that have broken out, are you?"
Alex nodded, "Yes, Sir. I've always wanted to fight for my kingdom."
Fox laughed almost insultingly, "You WANT to be in one of those wars? They're horrible, Krycek. You shouldn't wish for such things. So many soldiers lose their lives out in battle."
Alex turned red and sighed, "I understand, Sir."
"Now, to answer your questions," Fox continued. "You remember Miss Covarrubias from last night. She is very close to the king, and he was displeased over how she was treated last night, not only by me but by Skinner as well. In addition, Relsin and Serenia have never been completely kind towards each other. We've gotten another report of a Relsin warrior killing a Serenian civilian who was traveling to the other kingdom to sell his crafts.
"Skinner has gone to apologize personally for what he did to Marita last night and has also gone to send a warning to Relsin that these incidents of them killing innocent people will not be tolerated by our kingdom and that if we hear if anymore of these happenings we will be forced to solve our problems through more physical means."
Alex nodded silently. Seeing that his apprentice understood all that he had said, Fox stood from his throne and pulled out his sword, "You said yourself that you were given a cheap sword, right, Krycek?"
"Yes, Sir, but it would make due until I could travel to my home and get my own."
"Do not settle for second best," Fox instructed. "You are too flexible, Krycek. What I want to do is get you to say what your really want and not settle for anything that does not meet your demands. Frohike!"
The smaller man entered from the side door with an assortment of swords in his hands, "I have the swords you asked for right here, Sir."
Fox shrugged, "Choose one. They're all the finest in the kingdom. Well, besides those of the royal family. Obviously I would not give you a sword better than my own."
Alex smirked, "Yes, I suppose not." He glanced at all the swords in Frohike's hands and could not stop himself from gasping. Half of them had silver handles and the other half had bronze handles. Each sword had some kind of gem on its handle. Some were emeralds and some were diamonds. A few had rubies and others had sapphires. "These are all amazing," Alex breathed.
Fox laughed at this, "Come now, Krycek, they are just swords. Pick the one that suits you."
Gazing at the swords once more he stepped away from them, "I can't pick one."
"Don't be so modest, Dear Krycek. Emeralds suit you, though my fancy has always been either rubies or diamonds."
Alex shook his head, "No, Sir, I mean that I don't want any of them."
Hearing this, Fox's eyes widened, "You can't be serious. These are some of the best in all of Serenia and you just turn them down?" Now, this was just too much. He allowed his apprentice to make himself seem worthless long enough, but he had to take one of these swords. How could anyone, even the humblest man in the kingdom, turn them down?
"I've always used the sword of my grandfather. It is old but I keep it in fine condition. Yes, it may not be worth as much as some of the swords you have here, but it is very valuable to me. In fact, I think its my most treasured possession."
Fox sighed in resignation, "Very well. I will send Byers to get this sword of yours. Byers!"
"With all due respect, Sir, can't I go get the sword myself? It will be the last time for me to see my family before I officially join the kingdom," Alex said.
"Listen to me, my apprentice, I would let you go, but you have just joined us and I still have no way of proving that once you're out you will not run off and never return," Fox reasoned.
Alex sighed, "So, you still have no faith in me?"
Fox shook his head, "No, not yet." Seeing Byers walk up to them he motioned towards the door, "Go to Krycek's home and fetch this treasured sword that he speaks of." Seeing that he was no longer needed, Frohike quietly exited the room.
As soon as Frohike Byers had left Fox moved towards Alex, "Look, at this moment I know you are upset with me, but understand that I must take all precautions. I still don't know where you came from and how I could have overlooked your talents for so long."
Alex nodded hesitantly, "I understand, Sir."
"I've called for my sister to meet us in a half hour in the courtyard. It'll be peaceful there so we can talk about last night."
"Last night, Sir?" Alex inquired, pretending to be confused. <Great, so he hasn't forgotten>
Fox nodded, "Yes, Krycek. Remember, we both were plagued by nightmares last night. Samantha is fully trained in hypnosis, but we choose to use this outside of the castle so that she isn't mistakenly thought a witch."
Alex raised his eyebrows in surprise, "Your sister is trained in hypnosis? Isn't that...where you are put under a trance and are forced to speak under someone else's will?"
"You make it sound demonic," Fox said with a laugh, "but yes, that's what it is. It does help. I used to dream of foul things all the time, but hypnosis does help soothe the pain."
Alex shook his head skeptically, "I doubt it will help me."
"Give it a chance, Krycek. You may find that it works better than you supposed. Plus, two nightmares in the same room could be a sign that something foul is going to fall on the kingdom, and this is a matter that we will have to take up with Mistress Alexis."
"Alexis?" Alex questioned.
Fox nodded, "Yes. She is, what you may consider, a witch, but she is not. Alexis is a fortune teller."
Alex nodded, "So, she is a prophet." He had heard of prophets in biblical accounts and even rumors of prophets within the kingdom. Most, if not all of them, were pretenders.
"You could call her that, though she is in no way miraculous. Alexis just has a way of understanding the results of the hypnosis better than Samantha herself. She was the one who taught my sister hypnosis in the first place," Fox explained.
"So, what do we do until then?" Alex asked.
Fox smiled at the question, "We, Krycek, are going to try to dig out every good quality within you so that you will be accepted by my mother when she meets you tonight."
John Byers rode his horse through the streets of Serenia, an unreadable expression on his face. In all honesty, he hated going out into this part of the city. Some of the inhabitants could be upset over the lack of support they had received from the kingdom. They didn't realize how hard the king had worked to keep the kingdom from being attacked by every kingdom surrounding Serenia. Sometimes that was more important that being able to provide the dwellers of the kingdom with riches.
Looking around, he found the home of Alex Krycek after using directions he had received from a man in the marketplace that knew the family. Jumping off his horse he walked over to the shabby looking house and knocked on the door.
To his surprise a lovely woman answered the door. She was dressed in nothing more than rags, and her brown hair flowed over her shoulders. He gulped and offered her his most charming smile, "Miss Krycek, I presume."
She nodded, "Yes, Sir. Might I ask who you are?" Looking at the royal symbol on his uniform she gasped, "Alex...is he all right? Please, did something happen to him?"
>From inside a man with blond hair ran up to them, "What's wrong? Did something happen to Alex?" Sean feared the worst. A visit from a royal guard wasn't common.
Byers shook his head, "No. Sir Krycek is quite safe at the moment."
The man stepped in front of the woman and growled, "Listen, I don't really give a damn if you're part of the royal guard. I'm Sean Jacobson; Alex's best friend, and this is his mother. If something happened to Alex then we want to know what."
"Please, listen to me, kind citizens." Byers took in a deep breath, "As I said, Sir Krycek is safe within the castle walls. As we speak he is probably conversing with the Prince."
Sean's eyes widened in shock at this, "Alex is with the Prince of Serenia? Why? Oh, I knew I should have gone with him yesterday." He silently prayed that Alex hadn't gotten himself into trouble with the royal family. That stupid bastard.
"Sir Krycek has been made the Prince's apprentice. He apologizes for not coming to see you himself but the Prince has not allowed it. His Majesty doesn't seem to trust him as of yet."
Alex's mother laughed joyously, but her laughter quickly turned to sobs, "It was what he'd always wanted."
Sean looked down at the ground, "Damn. So, Alex...he probably won't be coming back, will he? I didn't even think to say goodbye. When he left he thought I didn't have faith in him." Damn Alex for being accepted so suddenly, and damn himself for not having more faith in his best friend.
"I would be happy to tell Sir Krycek that you send your affection to him, and I'm sure the Prince will allow him to come visit as soon as he becomes more familiar with the young Sir," Byers offered.
Mrs. Krycek nodded, "I would be most grateful."
Byers nodded, "Yes, well, I do come with a request from Sir Krycek-"
"The bastard wants that sword of his, doesn't he?" Sean speculated. When Byers nodded he chuckled, "I swear, Alex is in love with that thing. Hold on, I know exactly where he keeps it."
As Sean entered the house again Mrs. Krycek looked Byers over, "I'm flattered that the Prince would send such a noble guard to our estate just to fetch a sword."
Byers grinned at the compliment, "Well, though he hasn't admitted it to me, it is pretty obvious that His Majesty thinks highly of your son. He is an excellent fighter and a very modest person. The Prince finds him amusing."
From behind Mrs. Krycek Sean appeared with the weapon Alex had spoken of in its holding case resting in his palms, "Here, and tell Alex that if he dies in there I want it. That is a great weapon. He was smart to keep it."
"I'll be sure to tell him that," Byers told him, taking the weapon from Sean. "I bid you both farewell."
Mrs. Krycek nodded gratefully, "Thank you, Sir."
Byers kissed her hand slowly and nodded to Sean. After doing this, he returned to his horse and climbed on it, riding back towards the castle with the sword in his hands.
Reaching the castle, he entered the throne room just to find the Prince and Alex conversing to themselves. Fox looked up at Byers and smiled, "Ah, so you found the hunk of metal my apprentice has been bragging of, eh?"
"Yes, Sir. Sir Krycek, your mother and a lad named Sean send their love to you."
Alex nodded and looked towards the floor, "I wish I could have seen them. Were they upset with me?" He feared they may have thought that his absence was on purpose and that he was already too snobbish to want to see them.
"No, Sir. They understood the position you are in," Byers assured him. He walked over to Alex and handed him his sword. Seeing Fox wave his hand, he exited the room, leaving the two men alone.
Fox took the sword from Alex's hands and pulled it out of the case examining it closely. It had a silver handle. On the handle was a large red ruby framed by bronze lining, "This is a rather good-looking sword, Krycek. Exceptional, actually. I don't thinl there is another like it in the castle. Now I know why you wanted it so much."
"I've felt guilty about keeping it, considering how much food it could buy for our family, but I could never sell it," Alex told him. He remembered his father's pleas for him to sell it, and he closed his eyes, momentarily shamed by the memories.
Fox nodded, "Its a good thing that you didn't. This sword is beautiful. Watch it closely or I may be tempted to take it from you." Before Alex could respond to this, Fox returned his sword and began towards the door to the hallway, "Come. We must meet Samantha and Lady Alexis in the courtyard."
As soon as Alex walked out into the courtyard his breath was taken away. It was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. There were trees everywhere bordering a stone path that led through the area. In the middle of the courtyard a stone fountain could be seen. The water from the fountain made the area all the more relaxing for Alex. Birds chirped in the distance as the trees provided shade from the shining sun.
Samantha Mulder sat on the fountain in the middle of the courtyard in a white flowing dress. Her hair was pinned up with white pins, and gold earrings sparkled in her ears. She smiled at the two and motioned for them to come to her.
As the two neared Alex saw Lady Alexis for the first time. She sat by Samantha in a violet dress. Her blond hair bounced off her shoulders and a silver locket shined on her neck. She nodded towards Fox, "Good day, Your Majesty."
"Thank you for coming, Alexis," Fox said. He motioned towards Alex, "This is my apprentice. Alex Krycek."
Alexis smiled at him and took his hand, "Its a pleasure, Sir Krycek." Alex kissed her hand slowly. He could practically feel the wisdom flowing from her and, from the start, he knew she wasn't a common woman.
Samantha extended her hand to Alex which he also kissed, "Good day to you, Alex."
"Good day," Alex greeted. As Fox sat down next to Alexis he sat down next to Samantha.
The Princess looked at Alex, "Have you ever been hypnotized before, Alex?"
"No, I haven't." Alex admitted, "Actually, I'm a little nervous about this." <A little nervous? Frightened out of my mind is more like it>
Samantha laughed good-naturedly, "Don't worry, Alex. I only find out what caused you to dream of horrible things in the night. I promise you that I would never search for other things while you were in a trance. That would go against everything I stand for." She sighed and mentally added, <I wouldn't mind knowing how you feel about me, though.>
Fox sighed, "If it would help you feel any better I'll go first, Krycek."
Alex nodded, embarrassed by how nervous he was, "Would you, Sir?"
Samantha moved towards her brother and grabbed his hand. He slid off his spot on the fountain and sat down on the grass, leaning his back against the side of it, "Now, close your eyes." Fox did as told. "Relax your hands and your feet. Slow your breathing until you are completely relaxed. Concentrate only on the sound of my voice. You are drifting slowly back in time to where you were during the night. Try to remember the troubling visions that came to you. You are now in those visions, Fox. You are a part of them. What is happening?"
It took Fox a moment to respond. It looked like he had gone to sleep instead of going into a trance and Alex was about to propose that they should try it over, but, all of a sudden, Fox tensed and his breathing became rapid, "I, um, I'm in the ballroom. It is filled with members of the kingdom."
"What's happening in the ballroom, Fox?" Samantha questioned soothingly.
Fox shook his head a few times, "There is pandemonium. Gunshots! Someone is shooting a gun! Someone pushed me!"
"Who pushed you, Fox?"
"My apprentice pushed me. He's trying to protect me." Hearing his Title, Alex looked at Alexis momentarily. The older woman had closed her eyes, and it seemed that she was only interested in Fox's voice.
Samantha leaned towards Fox, "Can you see who fired the gun?"
"No." Fox's reply was weak, and he sounded like a helpless child. "Screaming! Its so loud! I can't escape the screaming!" He turned his head and winced a few times as if in horrible pain. All of a sudden he brought his hand up to his face, "Dad!"
This action surprised Samantha who rapidly pushed down his other hand so that he wouldn't strike himself, "Relax your hands, Fox. Now, where's Dad?"
"They shot him!" Fox exclaimed. "He's dead! The shooter is gone and Dad is dead! Mom...is crying over him. People are still screaming. They're so loud. I'm afraid."
Samantha glanced momentarily at Alex before murmuring, "What about Alex? Where is he?"
Fox turned his head a little bit as if he were really in the situation he was describing, "He, um, I don't know. He's gone. I'm talking to Skinner about him. I'm telling Skinner to find him. No one knows where he went. We can't find him. Shit, it hurts!
"What hurts?" Samantha inquired. "What happened to you?"
"Something hit me," Fox whispered. "There is...something on my neck. Someone shot a dart at me. Tranquilizer. Everything is getting fuzzy. Samantha...is looking at me. Can't see her. Its all fuzzy."
Alex looked at Samantha and watched as she slowly said, "Fox, come back. I want you to come back to us."
"No," Fox protested, "I have to get Dad help...I have to find Krycek...everything is turning black..."
Samantha squeezed his hands and more persistently said, "Fox, come back to us!"
Fox turned his head a little more before opening his eyes. By this time he was bathed in sweat and his breathing was rapid. He rubbed his eyes and glanced at Alexis, "Good stuff?"
Alexis, at this time, seemed to be in a state of shock. "No," she whispered, "this is not good stuff. Sir Krycek, I want you to do it now before I lose Fox's vision."
Alex shook his head, "Look, I know what I dreamed about, and it didn't have anything to do with what he said. I could tell you right now what I dreamed of."
"You may not think you had the same dream, but there are often cases where you dream something that you don't remember. I fear that if you did it could be a dark cloud over our kingdom."
Not understanding, Alex slowly got into Fox's position on the ground. He took in a shaky breath and gulped as Samantha grabbed his hand. She smiled at him, "Don't worry, Alex. I'm well trained, and you remember what I told you, don't you?" He merely nodded.
"Ok, Alex, I want you to close your eyes." Fox, Alexis, and Samantha watched as he did so. "Now, relax your hands and your feet. Slow your breathing until you are completely relaxed." Alex's breathing slowed until it seemed that he was in a deep sleep.
"Now," Samantha continued, "concentrate only on the sound of my voice. All other sounds fade away from you. Bring yourself back to last night. You had a nightmare that plagued you, and now you are inside of it. Look around and tell me what you see."
As Fox had, Alex's breathing became more rapid and his whole body tensed. He quickly began to sweat as his head snapped back and forth in concentration, "I'm watching myself."
"How old are you?" Samantha questioned.
Alex put his head down a little bit, "I'm thirteen." It seemed as if he were going to say more but, suddenly, his whole body jerked.
Fox glanced at Samantha with concern as she tried to figure out what had caused this reaction, "What's happening to you, Alex?"
"My sister...is dead," Alex whispered. His breathing was shaky as he spoke, "They're here. They know I'm here. Oh...shit, they found me!"
"Who found you?" Samantha asked.
Alex jerked again, "Some army. I don't know. Soldiers...searching the houses. Why Melissa? Shit, why?"
"How old was your sister?" Samantha questioned softly.
Alex shook his head a few times, "She was sixteen. Melissa...stepped in front of the gun they pointed at me. They shot her. Her b-blood is on me. I want to get it off! Why won't it come off!?" His breathing quickened as he jerked a few more times in his spot.
Samantha firmly squeezed his hand, "Alex, tell me what the soldiers are doing to you."
"They're beating me," Alex cried. His voice was anguished as he answered Samantha's question, "They have clubs and they're beating me. T-they won't stop beating me. N-no! Mom! No!"
"What's happening to your mother?"
Alex jerked again and did his best to control his sobs, "The soldier...he's raping her. My dad can't help her. He's been stabbed. Melissa's dead. I'm a coward. I won't...I can't help her. They won't leave her alone. They won't...they still beat me. Harder now, to make sure I won't try to help her. I can hear her scream. My mom is screaming for help! They're hurting her! Why won't I...I'm a coward..." He curled up into a ball and dropped his head onto his knees.
Fox looked at Samantha and motioned for her to end it. She moved closer to Alex, "Come back."
"They're taunting me and telling me to try and help her, but when I try they beat me harder. If I were stronger I would be able to help her," Alex sobbed, refusing to leave the trance.
Samantha shook his hand, "Come back to us, Alex."
Alex shook his head, "I can't. It hurts. I can't move."
"I promise you that it won't hurt anymore if you come back to us now," Samantha told him. "Come back, Alex."
Alex shuddered a few times and opened his eyes, fresh tears falling from his eyes. Wanting to hide his shame, he put hands over his face and did his best to hold in his tears. Seeing what he was trying to do, Samantha cautiously wrapped her arms around him in comfort. At first the whole situation was awkward, but slowly Alex softened and put his arms around her, allowing himself to fall into her embrace.
Samantha smoothed his hair with her hand soothingly, "I'm sorry that happened to you. Our people should have protected you and the others who were harmed. That was when the Jespin Kingdom attacked us. We didn't know...there was no way to know they would have pulled that large offensive."
"You would think that by now I would have learned to live with it. I mean, its been almost twenty years!" Alex exclaimed, still embarrassed by his show of emotion.
"Alex, you will never get over that. That was a traumatic experience for you. Losing a loved one...and seeing your own family being harmed like that, plus the obvious pain you must have endured physically..."
Alex nodded, "I was a coward, though. My father was unconscious and my mother needed help. I could have helped her."
"You were a little boy," Samantha told him, "and even if you had been a grown man there is just so much that any human body can endure. That you were able to go on after that...that proves that you must have cared greatly for your family, and you did try to help your mother."
Fox, suddenly feeling uncomfortable, looked to Alexis, "It doesn't seem like they have any relation."
Alexis, however, had turned quite pale, "Sire, they do have a relation. A strong relation. Both told of murder of loved family, and both told of an onslaught. The dark cloud that I spoke of...it is coming, if it is not already here."
Samantha looked at Alexis with fear, "What does that mean? Will there be a repeat of Jespin?" As her father had told her, the Jespin war had been terrible. If there was a repeat of it many more would die.
"The Prince's dream did not reveal who the shooter of his father was, and even Sir Krycek could not recognize his attackers during his dream."
"We know it was the Jespin soldiers who attacked the Kryceks, though," Samantha argued.
Alexis nodded, "I know this, but he couldn't identify the attackers. There will be an attack on Serenia, and you will not know who the attackers are. It probably will not be Jespin, though."
Fox's eyes widened, "Will it be Relsin? Our relations with them haven't been going very well."
"Perhaps," Alexis told him, "but the shooting in your dream, Sire, happened in the ballroom within the castle. It could be a spy from Relsin, or it might even be a Serenian."
"A Serenian would dare shoot the King!?" Samantha exclaimed, "That's ludicrous!"
Alexis nodded, "It does sound that way, Madam, but I assure you that this theory could be right. All I ask is that you three keep your eyes open. Something is going to happen, and I strongly think that it could cause the kingdom great problems. Perhaps it will even crumble Serenia once and for all."
Hearing this, Alex looked up, his eyes still puffy, "The end of Serenia!?"
"You got that from these two dreams!?" Samantha laughed, "Impossible!"
Fox sighed, "I don't doubt your wisdom, Alexis, but you must understand that your claims are far fetched."
"I understand, Sire. Believe me, I am doubting my own abilities now, but I do ask that you keep your eyes open. How many times have I been wrong?"
Fox and Samantha looked at each other worriedly. "None," they said in unison. Alexis nodded and stood, leaving the three alone in the courtyard.
Fox looked at his sister, "What do you think?"
"I think that either Alexis is going mad, or we are facing a problem that could cause the end of us." The three looked around fretfully and wondered if Alexis' claims could possibly be true. If they were, what would that mean for Serenia?
Later that day Fox and Alex were seated of Fox's bed in his chamber. The sun was beginning to set and shadows were beginning to form in the room. Alex shifted nervously in his spot before turning to the Prince, "I apologize, Sir, for making you uncomfortable this afternoon."
"Nightmares always make me squeamish. Especially when the happenings in them are true, but mostly I am concerned for our kingdom. Alexis has never been wrong," Fox admitted to his apprentice.
Alex sighed and laid back on the bed, "What do you plan to teach me while I am here, Sir?"
"To be honest, I haven't quite decided yet. Your fencing skills are admirable, but your manners in high society...we may begin to work on this tomorrow after I have conversed with Skinner. He should be back by noon."
"Will I meet your parents today, Sir?" Alex asked. He wished that Fox would answer "No". In all honesty, Alex was afraid of rejection, and something told him that he would be out of the castle by the next day if he met them tonight.
Fox nodded, "Yes, Krycek, they have asked for you. Hopefully you will make a good impression."
"I'll try," Alex told him.
As if on cue, the door opened and Frohike entered, "The King and Queen await you."
Fox nodded and stood, stretching his arms and yawning, "Well, I can't say anything else but good luck, Krycek. If I can help you I will, but I won't make any promises."
"If they do send me into the streets I want to thank you for inviting me in these past two days," Alex said. With that, the two men turned to Frohike and followed him out of the room.
They reached the main level of the castle and walked down a hallway with marble floors. From there they entered the large ballroom where they had been before. Instead of being filled with people as it had been before the room was completely except for Samantha, who was sitting on her throne, and Fox's parents who were seated as well.
The King looked up at his son and frowned, "You didn't care to seek me out today, Fox?"
"I was busy sending Skinner out to Relsin since you left me with that responsibility," Fox snarled. He loved his father, but when he got into these argumentative moods he was completely stubborn. This didn't look good for Alex.
>From her throne, The Queen glanced at Alex and smiled faintly, "So, this is the boy you've invited to stay with us without our approval?"
"You agreed to letting me have an apprentice," Fox argued, "and yes, this is Alexander Krycek."
Alex took that moment to bow down in front of the King and Queen. Samantha watched him from her throne but said nothing. The King sighed, "He looks like a peasant."
"Father!" Samantha exclaimed in horror. She quickly caught Alex's gaze, trying to show her apologies for her father's words.
The King shrugged, "Well, he does. Where did you pick up this trash, Fox?"
"He's not trash, Father!" Fox shouted. "Krycek is an exceptional fighter. He is my equal in skill!"
The Queen smirked, "He must be poor if he never entered our competitions. Tell me, Alexander, why do you desire to be Fox's apprentice?"
"I have always desired to learn as much as I can about everything that goes on in the kingdom, my Queen."
"You could read the papers if you wanted to learn about the kingdom's dealings. You can read, can't you?" The King asked derisively. Without waiting for an answer, he leaned closer to Alex, "Fox tells us you are an exceptional fighter. Are you a native of Relsin?"
Alex quickly shook his head, "No, Sir. I am a native of Serenia." Fox listened to his apprentice's calm tone of voice, slightly shocked by how well he was handling these insults. Inside, he wished he could do something to help him, but he knew he couldn't without starting a horrible argument with his father.
The King sighed, "Well then, Alexander, you wouldn't mind showing me these skills of yours?"
"If you desire to see them, My Lord," Alex said.
In response, the King pulled his sword from its holster and stood, waving the impressive weapon in front of him tauntingly, "Come then, Alexander. Let us see you fight."
"Father, have you gone mad!?" Samantha yelled in startlement. "Alex does not need to prove himself! He has already done so!"
The King shook his head, "He hasn't proved himself to me. Come, Alexander. Fight me."
Alex eyed him, clearly torn by his options. Finally, he bowed his head further, "I could never fight you, My Lord." He knew that if word got out that he had come at the King with a sword he would probably be banished from Serenia forever.
"So, the boy is a coward," The King laughed contemptuously. "Fox, I would have thought you to have better judgment."
Fox's eyes narrowed at his father and he glanced at Alex, "Fight him, Krycek."
Hearing this, Alex looked up at him surprised, "What!?" He couldn't believe his ears. The Prince wanted him to fight his father!?
"He wishes you to fight him, so fight him. You have your weapon," Fox said quietly.
Still shocked by the whole ordeal, Alex stood and took out his sword. Gripping it firmly, he readied himself, "Are you sure about this, My Lord?"
Instead of replying, the King charged Alex fiercely. As the younger man jumped out of the way, startled by the quick attack, Samantha stood in protest, "Father, calm yourself!"
To keep from being struck, Fox bolted out of the way, and expression of anger on his face, "Father, stop!"
Ignoring his children, the King continued to come at Alex and he seemed especially surprised as the younger man blocked his attacks. He growled at Alex, "You are good, but not good enough."
As the King's strikes quickened, Alex did his best to block them. By now he was running completely on adrenaline, and his whole body was acting on instinct. He felt something hit his arm, but it registered no pain. Alex's only objective now was to unarm his opponent.
Fox watched with amazement as the two continued to fight. He wasn't sure he would have been able to respond to his father's attacks as quickly as Alex had. Just as Fox was beginning to think the fight would turn out well he saw blood trickling from Alex's left arm. Looking at his sister, he saw that Samantha had noticed it, too. Instantly, he neared the two, "This has gone far enough."
Alex thought he heard Fox say something but it didn't register in his brain. He had an objective now, and that was all that mattered. Clank. Clank. Clank. Alex could hear the sound of the swords hitting each other. Seeing an opportunity, he took the offensive, and was almost surprised as the King's sword went flying out of his hand and over to the other side of the room.
The King, also astonished, stepped away from Alex and watched him warily. "Damn," he muttered breathlessly. <How could it be that this...boy could beat me so easily?>
As his adrenaline dropped, Alex became aware of the burning sensation in his arm. Seeing a thin stream of blood flowing from a gash in his arm, he put his hand over it and did his best to stop the discharge of blood. As his breathing became normal again the pain grew steadily worse until it became nearly unbearable. He winced in agony and looked up at the King. Slowly, he walked towards him, closing his eyes slightly as shooting pain went through his arm, "Did I cut you, My Lord?"
Obviously surprised by the question, the King shook his head, "No, you didn't scratch me."
Alex nodded slowly, "Good." Glancing again at his wound, he looked around and spotted Fox coming towards him, "Where can I clean this out?"
"The nurse can clean it," Fox told him. "That is a rather nasty gash." He was rather surprised by the way Alex was dealing with this situation. The King had attacked him and cut him and he was acting like this was an everyday occurrence!
Alex shook his head in opposition, "I wouldn't want to bother them. it's not that bad. I can just wash it out and it should heal on its own." He didn't know why everyone was making such a big deal over this injury. Sean had accidently cut him all the time when they had fenced together, and it was the King who had cut him! You would think everyone would be more worried about his adrenaline levels than Alex's injury.
"No," Samantha said sharply, "you are going to the nurse. They won't be bothered, and if they are it doesn't matter. You're hurt and if you don't get it cleaned it could infect." She glared at him to make her point.
Seeing her expression, Alex couldn't help but back down, "All right." He looked at the floor where his blood had dripped. <Shit!> Looking up guiltily at the Queen, he sighed, "If you wish me to, I'll clean it, My Queen."
Before she could reply, Fox grabbed his arm, "You'll do no such thing. Let the help tend to it. Alex, you need to get that cut bandaged."
The King, still in a state of shock, moved over to Alex and hesitated for a moment before muttering, "Come back once it is bandaged and I'll be sure to have a room prepared for you."
"Honestly, Father?" Samantha exclaimed in wonder. "You are allowing him to stay?"
The King nodded, "How can I turn him away if he is such a remarkable fighter?" He eyed Alex and shook his head, chuckling lightly, "How can a man that fights like that be so modest about his talents?"
Alex flushed slightly at the comments, "Thank you, My Lord, for allowing me to stay."
Fox touched his shoulder lightly, "Lets get that cut covered." Alex nodded and the two left the room with Samantha following closely behind them.
The Queen looked at the King sternly, "How the hell did he do that?"
"That boy is an amazing fighter. Why waste him as merely an apprentice of Fox's? Imagine what an amazing soldier he would be!"
"You're thinking of making the boy a soldier?" The Queen questioned interestedly.
The King nodded, "Yes, Dear. Don't you think he would be a great addition to the force? Imagine, with him as a guard we wouldn't have to worry about our troops being unprepared. He could train them, and, if he knows more fighters with his level of skill...can you conceive it? We would become the most powerful kingdom in this area of the world. Relsin or anyone else would never dare attack us!"
The Queen frowned, "I don't know, William. Fox seems attached to the boy. Perhaps we should wait awhile. Let Fox do what he wants with the boy, and if he shows himself to be strong in war...we will add him to the force."
"I suppose, Tina."
"Another ball tomorrow," Samantha groaned. "How does Mother expect us to live without sleeping through the night?"
Fox laughed, "She enjoys her parties, and they both seem to enjoy you, Krycek."
Alex nodded and looked slowly at the bandages around his arm. The three had already been to see the King and Queen again and they were now on the way to their chambers. The moon shined through the windows around the staircase casting eerie shadows through the halls. "I'm just glad I didn't harm your father."
"He would have deserved it," Fox growled. "Even if he is the King he doesn't have the right to charge an unprepared member of the kingdom."
Reaching the second level of the castle Alex sighed, "Well, this is where I stay, your father said."
Samantha kissed his cheek slowly, "Rest well."
Fox nodded at him, "If anything happens you know where I am."
"Thank you," Alex responded. Smiling, he strode off down the hallway and into the room the maids had prepared for him.
Watching him leave, Samantha turned to her brother, "Even though he is rather shy, he is a kind man."
"Yes," Fox agreed. "I'm glad our parents accepted him."
Her eyes sparkling, Samantha smiled, "Did you see him fighting like that? In order to beat Father you have to be really good."
"Even I've only beaten him a few times," Fox said. Was it possible that his apprentice was not just his equal, but was better than him?
Samantha touched his arm, "You haven't tried recently. I'm sure you could beat him. Hell, I could probably beat him."
"Father?" Fox eyed her dubiously.
Seeing his expression, Samantha pushed him lightly, "Perhaps I couldn't, but you have to admit that Alex's style is...interesting."
Fox grinned hintingly at her, "So, you know his style?"
"He is an interesting person," Samantha said, beginning up to the first level of the castle.
"Interesting in what way?" Fox asked, following her. "Interesting in that you would consider making him your mate?"
"Fox!" Samantha exclaimed in shock. "How dare you suggest such things!"
Fox leered at her, "I've seen how you look at my apprentice, Sam. Don't deny that you have feeling for him."
Samantha scoffed, "I don't know him at all, Fox! Yes, he is attractive...more attractive than anyone in this castle, but I don't know a thing about him."
"You could learn more about him, couldn't you?" Fox glanced at her, suddenly serious, "and what do you mean that he's more attractive than anyone in the castle!? What about me!?"
As he hit her arm she laughed, "Well, you know I can't admit to having an attractive brother. it's not like you could be my mate, Fox."
Fox sighed mockingly, "Oh, Sam, and I wanted you so badly."
"Knock it off," Samantha ordered with a giggle. Reaching the first level she turned down the hallway, "Sweet dreams, jealous brother."
"Jealous? Of Krycek?"
Samantha winked slyly at him, "You wish that you were the only good-looking man in the castle."
"Perhaps, but I am not jealous of my apprentice. Dear sister, he should be begging me for advice on how to get you away from him by the end of tomorrow."
Samantha laughed, "Very funny. Rest well, Fox."
Fox kissed her cheek lightly, "Good night, Sam." The two parted and headed for their separate rooms.
The next morning Alex awoke to the sound of the door to his chamber opening. Trying to cover his eyes and block out the sun coming into the room he heard a soft voice whisper, "Wake up, Sir Krycek."
Opening his eyes slightly, Alex gazed up at the blurry figure above him, "What's going on?"
"The Prince has requested your presence at breakfast this morning, Sir Krycek," The man replied.
Alex slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his vision. He looked up at the man above and discovered that it was Langly, the man who had served the drinks at the ball two night ago, "What time is it, Langly?"
Langly glanced at his watch before replying, "Its 7:15, Sir. Breakfast is at 7:30, so I suggest that you hurry. The maids brought in a variety of clothes and they are in your closet. Choose what you wish."
"Thank you." Getting out of bed, he stumbled, still half-asleep, over to the closet and opened it. In front of him was an assortment of shirts and pants of all different shades and styles. Pulling out a green shirt and black jeans he glanced at Langly, "Would you mind waiting outside?"
"Why?" Langly questioned. "I'm already seeing you in your boxers."
Alex shrugged, "Yes, I know, but I would feel more comfortable." Langly slowly nodded and left the room, closing the white door behind him.
A few minutes later Alex had washed up, shaved, and was dressed. Joining Langly again, the two walked down to the main level where they went into the room passed the ballroom. In front of them was a large glass table. The seats were mostly filled already by the royal family and people that Alex didn't recognize. Seeing Fox motioning to him, he walked over to the Prince and sat in the seat that had he had reserved, "Good morning, Sir."
"Did you sleep well, Krycek?" Fox questioned, smiling at Samantha, who had just entered the room in a blue dress, and telling her to join them.
Alex nodded, "Yes, Sir, and you?"
"Better than last night. Hopefully this is a sign that Alexis was wrong."
Samantha sat down across from the two men and smiled, "Good morning."
The two nodded at her before looking at the King who had risen from his seat, "I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Alexander Krycek; Fox's apprentice and the newest inhabitant of the castle." Alex watched as people around him smiled and waved. The King smiled, "Now, let us give thanks for another blessed day and eat."
"Thank you, God," The table chorused. Hastily maids came out of the kitchen carrying all sorts of dishes. Some carried sausage and others carried eggs. There was bacon, ham, hash browns, fruit, muffins, and any other type of food imaginable.
Fox piled up his plate and grinned at Alex, "Well, today Skinner will return and bring us news from Relsin. You are to be there to hear the announcements."
Alex swallowed some of the food he had placed in his mouth before nodding, "All right. He'll be back at noon, Sir?"
"Yes, Krycek. Until then Samantha has offered to give you pointers on what to do at tonight's ball."
Obviously not having known of this, Samantha blushed, "Fox!"
"She doesn't have to," Alex cut in. "I'm sure I'll make do like I did before."
Fox nodded, "Very well, then. We'll head out to the courtyard again. You must meet Gloria today, and she always goes out there in the morning to read."
"Gloria?" Alex inquired curiously. "Is she an advisor?"
"Kind of. Gloria is officially my personal maid, but she's also my best friend," Samantha explained. "You'll like her, Alex. She's very optimistic." Alex merely nodded.
The King looked over at the three from the end of the table, a smile gracing his features, "Alex, I know you're going to be listening to the Relsin speech today, but tomorrow is a training day for our guards and I know they'd benefit from your expertise."
Understanding quickly what his father was getting at, Fox shook his head, "No way. You are not making Krycek into some soldier for our kingdom. He is my apprentice."
"What are you going to teach him, Fox?" The Queen questioned persistantly. "I have no doubt that you want to teach Alexander and he wants to learn but...teach what?"
"Lessons of high society and learning how to be less self-conscious," Fox explained. "Also, it would be nice to have someone to talk to."
"What about Walter? He's your advisor. That's his purpose."
"Mother, Skinner is a great companion, but he is older. I'd like someone more my own age," Fox argued.
The Queen glanced at Samantha, "What about your sister? She's four years younger that you. Alex is exactly that, too."
"Alex is male, Mother. There are some things that Samantha shouldn't know." Fox looked at his sister who had a small smile on her face.
The King sighed, "Very well, but will you at least come to the training and get an idea of how the guards function? If this apprenticeship...falls through it would be nice to have such an exceptional fighter on the force."
Alex nodded slowly, "Yes, My Lord."
"I'm going tomorrow, as well," Fox stated.
The King shrugged, "Very well, Fox." With that, he turned back to his food in silence.
Fox leaned towards Alex so that his parents could not hear him speak, "Don't let them push you around. If you do not want to do something they propose say so and I will back you up."
"Your parents could still kick me out," Alex whispered. "I don't want to take that risk, Sir."
Fox sighed, "I hate to say it, Krycek, but being kicked out of the castle is better than losing your life in a war."
Later that morning Fox, Alex, and Samantha had broken away from the others and had just walked into the courtyard. There, they found a woman with black shiny hair sitting on the fountain in a lace black dress. She was Asian, and her face was flawless.
Glancing up at them, she stood and closed the book she had been reading, "Greetings, Samantha, and good day to you, Sire."
"Good morning, Gloria," Samantha greeted. "I see you are up early. Why didn't you join us for breakfast?"
Gloria shrugged, "I wasn't that hungry. Was I needed?"
"No, but you were missed."
"Gloria, I'd like you to meet my apprentice. Alex Krycek," Fox said, walking over to her and kissing her hand.
Gloria smiled and extended her hand to Alex, "Hello, Alex. I'm Gloria Florence."
Alex kissed her hand softly before saying, "I'm sorry, but Florence?"
Gloria chuckled at this, "Well, at least you asked. Many people just stare at me dubiously. I was adopted and there was no name for me, so the Queen gave me my name. Supposedly I am named for an old friend of her mother's."
"It is a beautiful name," Alex acknowledged.
"I've grown to love it." She turned to Fox, "Well, did you go for looks, Fox? He definitely is charming."
Fox smiled flippantly, "I suppose so, though you should know I've claimed him as my own. In all honestly, Alex is an exceptional fighter. Don't tell anyone else this, but he beat my father in a fencing match last night."
"He beat the King!?" Gloria exclaimed. She looked at Alex and grinned, "Remind me never to get on your bad side."
Alex chuckled lightly and motioned towards her book, "What have you been reading?"
Gloria beamed at him, "Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Its a story that I will never tire of."
"Shakespeare had such an amazing ability to write," Alex commented. "It is a beautiful story."
"So, you've read it. Fox and Samantha don't seem to enjoy Shakespeare."
Alex shrugged, "Romeo and Juliet is one of my favorite plays. Its so romantic and yet so tragic."
Gloria turned to face Samantha, a sly grin on her face, "I like him."
Samantha sighed and grabbed her arm, "I wanted to talk to you."
As the two women went underneath one of the trees on the other side of the courtyard Fox and Alex sat down on the edge of the fountain. Fox elbowed him, "So, you actually read that Shakespeare junk? Personally, I never found what was so interesting about it."
"I guess you have to appreciate very emotional things to appreciate Shakespeare," Alex reasoned. "My mother loves him, and she got me to read his works. Romeo and Juliet has always been my favorite, though."
Fox grinned flippantly, "Why? Didn't you ever get any girls out in the city?"
"Yes, I did," Alex argued, "but it has a beautiful message, Sir."
"Love conquers all," Alex stated simply. Fox nodded slowly and looked at the fountain, gazing at his reflection in the clear water.
On the other side of the courtyard, Gloria smiled, "He is very handsome and extremely compassionate from what I've seen him do and heard him say so far. The guy is even interested in Shakespeare. If you don't snag him soon, Samantha, then know that I will. I am giving you fair warning."
Samantha sighed, "I don't know. Yes, he is everything I'd want in a man, but he's so shy. I don't want to pressure him."
Gloria shrugged, "So, don't pressure him. Hint to him that you like him. If he's the right one then he'll pick up on it. Listen to me, if you care for the guy then you'll give him time to get adjusted here and feel more accepted by the people here."
"You're right, Gloria," Samantha said. "I just have to give him time."
"And hints," Gloria added. "Lots and lots of hints." Samantha laughed at this and the two returned to the fountain...only to find that the two men they had left behind were now soaking wet.
"God in Heaven, what are you two doing!?" Samantha exclaimed.
Alex looked up at her and smiled tentatively, "My second lesson, I guess."
The Princess looked at Fox and frowned, "Your second lesson is how to get completely soaked?"
"No, Sam, the second lesson is that if someone attacks you in any way that you should fight back." Saying that, Fox dipped his hand into the water of the fountain and splashed Samantha with water.
As Gloria laughed Samantha's eyes narrowed, "You are so immature, Fox. I can't believe that you're going to be the King one day."
"Believe it, Sam," Fox said. He splashed her again, this time getting the front of her dress completely soaked.
Samantha grinned evilly, "Fine, boys, you want a fight? I'll give you one." Before either man could stop her she had run over to the fountain and had begun splashing them mercilessly. Soon, a whole water fight began between the three with every person for themselves. Gloria rolled her eyes and put down her book, running to the other side of the fountain and joining the fight. In a matter of minutes all four of them were completely drenched and laughing.
Fox looked at Alex, "Nope, you are defienetly not wet enough, Krycek."
Alex's eyes widened, "Oh shit, you wouldn't." Before he could say anything else he found himself inside the fountain while Fox laughed mockingly at him. Grinning, he pushed as much water as he could out at Fox, wetting the older man from head to toe.
Fox shrugged happily, "Well, at least you're learning." He moved over to the fountain and continued splashing his apprentice in the face with water.
Samantha looked at Alex, somewhat enjoying how his shirt was clinging to his body, and before she could turn her attention back on Gloria she found herself with Alex in the fountain.
Alex caught her and unconsciously put his arms around her waist, "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine." Samantha touched his hands slowly before gazing at him. <His eyes are so clear> she thought to herself.
Alex watched her expression become serious and became immediately concerned, "What's wrong?"
Samantha chuckled, "Nothing." Seeing him eye her skeptically she laughed even harder, "I said 'nothing'." To prove her point, she splashed him gently in the face and watched him to see how he would react.
"I believe you," he whispered, and before she could move away, he dunked her completely under the water. Letting her up, he wasn't surprised that she began splashing him more fiercely, her eyes shimmering.
They both looked up as Fox came plummeting into the water, a surprised expression on his face. He was greeted by water coming from Alex and Samantha and, seeing that they were both against him, he splashed them as much as he could.
From outside the fountain they heard Gloria murmur, "You guys are so childish."
Samantha glared jokingly at her, "Really?" She and the other splashed her relentlessly until she was just as wet as them.
Suddenly the door to the courtyard opened and a small chuckle was heard. Looking up, the four saw Byers standing in the opening with Walter. The older man laughed heartily, "You all look horrible."
"So, you've returned," Fox said, trying to seem professional.
Walter nodded, his eyes gleaming, "Yes, Fox, I have, and I suggest you four get cleaned up or you won't hear my report."
"Is it good news?" Samantha questioned, stepping out of the fountain.
Walter frowned, "Not especially, but I don't want to repeat myself so meet me in the throne room. I'll explain it there." With that, the two left.
Alex and Fox jumped out of the fountain and did their best to wring out their clothes before walking towards the door to the interior of the castle. "Your parents won't mind the dripping, will they?" Alex asked.
Fox shook his head, "No. The help will wipe it all up."
"Go quickly, you two," he told them. "We don't want those maids getting turned on by the way your shirts are sticking to you like that."
The four quickly walked up the stairs, Gloria and Alex breaking away from the others to go to their rooms on the second level. Gloria looked at Alex before walking into her room, "Wait for me, all right?"
"Sure," Alex responded. With that, he entered his chamber and locked the door, doing his best to remove all his sticky clothing. Completely naked, he fished through his closet and found a pair of black boxers, black pants, and a blue shirt that he could wear. Getting dressed, he walked into his massive bathroom and did his best to dry his hair before examining himself in the mirror. He noticed that his cheeks were slightly flushed from the excitement of before, but besides that he seemed presentable.
Walking out of his room, he found Gloria already waiting for him in a dark blue lace dress. She extended her arm, "Shall we?"
Alex took her arm and the two walked down the stairs and entered the throne room. There, they found that Fox and Samantha were already on their thrones. Fox was now in a gray shirt and black slacks while Samantha was wearing a deep violet dress. The King and Queen were also seated. Walter stood before them and quickly bowed down, "Majesties, I bring word from the Relsin Kingdom."
"What do they say?" The King asked.
Walter straightened and looked at him, "For my actions, I have been cleared because of my intoxication, but they have said any other offenses against Ms. Covarrubias will result in consequences."
"Marita Covarrubias is a slut," The Queen muttered. "I, personally, don't give a damn about what they say concerning her. What about this matter with the killing of the Serenian trader?"
"The Relsin King claims that they had reason to think that our trader was a Serenian spy, and they warn that if ever another spy is to enter their kingdom that they will kill this person and will launch an offensive on our kingdom."
The King seemed to turn red from rage, "This is preposterous! It will not be tolerated!"
"Father, should we send another messenger?" Samantha questioned.
"No. It is too risky. If we send another messenger this person may be killed."
Fox shrugged, "What about inviting the Relsin King here? Wouldn't he be willing to confront you?"
The King frowned and shook his head, "I will not have that bastard within my kingdom. Negotiating is no longer an option when anyone from our kingdom has lost his life. I'm afraid that we must wait. Guards must be posted around the outside of the kingdom to keep an eye out for Relsinians coming within our walls."
"Should we send a spy?" The Queen inquired.
"No," The King replied. "Again, it is too risky. I don't want another life lost if we can avoid it."
From the back of the room, Gloria leaned towards Alex, "I know these situations can seem hopeless but the King is good at getting out of these jams. Believe me, this isn't the first."
Alex nodded, "I have faith in him. This will work out."
"let's go," Gloria suggested. "All this stuff gets me kind of nervous."
"All right," Alex said. The two left the room, arms still linked.
>From where she was sitting, Samantha watched them go. She couldn't help but feel jealous of her best friend. Closing her eyes, she pictured herself holding Alex's hand. They would walk along quietly in the courtyard, and, gently, they would kiss. It would be a beautiful thing, turning from tenderness into pure passion. She just hoped it wouldn't take long for Alex to figure out how she felt!
Opening her eyes, she heard her father say, "Please, I need to talk to my wife and Walter alone."
Fox stood from his throne and patted Walter's back, "Teacher's pet." The older man merely grunted in response.
Samantha followed him and the two made their way out to the courtyard where they found Gloria and Alex sitting on the ground with Gloria's Shakespeare book. Fox laughed, "Shakespeare? I don't know how you stand it."
"Unemotional as always," Gloria muttered, looking down at the book in her hands.
Samantha coughed and moved closer to them, stopping by Alex's side, "You really enjoy that kind of stuff?"
Alex looked up at her and nodded, "Its very powerful." He stood and looked around for a moment, grabbing Fox's wrist and looking at the time, "So, when does this ball start?"
"Officially at six, but we can get there as late as we want," Fox explained. Pulling his wrist back he smiled, "Wow, Krycek, I didn't know you cared."
"Sorry, Sir," Alex muttered. He sighed, "Its nearly two and I really need to shower. At least no one said anything in the throne room."
"Probably because we all smelled the same," Gloria speculated. "They must have thought it was something in the vent."
Fox looked at his apprentice, "Krycek, do you want me to have Vanessa meet you in your chamber after you shower?"
Samantha watched as Alex shuddered before asking, "Can you have a different person come up, Sir?"
Fox shrugged, puzzled by his reaction, "Sure, I guess. What's wrong with Vanessa?"
"Well, in all honestly, Sir, she's kind of unnerving."
Gloria chuckled, "I guess she is. Vanessa likes trying to seduce unsuspecting men."
Samantha glanced at the two before quickly saying, "Alex, can I escort you to your room? I'd like to shower, as well."
Alex smiled at her, "Sure."
"Seek me out, Krycek," Fox reminded him.
"I will, Sir." With that, the two walked back into the castle.
In his chamber Alex showered and changed into a classic black suit with a plain white shirt underneath. He looked up as the door to his room opened and an unusually large man entered. The man, not smiling, sighed, "Are you ready to go? The Princess is waiting for you."
"Just a second," Alex told him. He examined himself in the mirror. Smoothing his brown hair back, he turned back towards the large man, "I'm ready."
The man nodded, his face still showing no emotion, "Follow me, please." Not wanting to mess with the man, Alex did as told.
As they walked down the stairs Alex, wanting to make some kind of conversation, cleared his throat, "So, um, are you part of the hired help?"
"Yes," The man answered simply.
Alex shifted his arms in discomfort, "Well, um, have you worked here long?"
"I've worked here for exactly two months," the man replied. His voice stayed on the same pitch as he talked making him sound like a robot.
Frowning, Alex shrugged, "Are you a native Serenian?"
"Yes, I was born in Serenia," the man said coolly. Deciding that the man didn't want to make conversation, Alex rubbed the bridge of his nose and continued down the stairs in silence.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs he found Samantha waiting for him in a black silk gown. Seeing his outfit, she smiled, "Well, did you peek into my room or is this just some kind of clairvoyance?"
"Must be clairvoyance," Alex replied. She offered him her hand which he took and the two walked together into the ballroom.
They quickly spotted Fox who was already sipping a goblet of wine with Walter by the thrones. Walking over to them, Samantha smirked, "You couldn't wait two seconds, could you?"
"Langly knows what I like," Fox told her. He picked up two more goblets from the glass table by his side and handed one to both Samantha and Alex, "I figured you two would want."
Samantha sighed, "I don't know if I feel like making a fool of myself like you two did yesterday."
"Suit yourself. I'll drink it. Alex?"
Alex shrugged, "Sure, why not?" He sipped the wine slowly, savoring the rich flavor.
Grabbing the wine from Fox's hand, Samantha took a small drink of it, "Well, I wouldn't mind loosening up a bit."
"That's the spirit," Walter remarked.
An hour passed and the ball was heating up. Alex sipped his wine again and surveyed all those in attendance. Most of them he had never seen before, but he did recognize Frohike who was flirting with one of the women alone in the crowd. Langly was by the drinks sipping a bit of punch while Byers and another guard stood watch at the door.
His silence was ended as Fox nearly toppled on top of him, a drunken smile on his face, "You asshole. Why won't you ever get drunk?"
"Steady, Sir," Alex muttered, doing his best to get the older man off of him. Walter, who was a little tipsy but not quite drunk, laughed at the whole predicament.
Fox chuckled, "Not 'Sir' at balls, Krycek. 'Fox', remember?"
"Fox, then," Alex said, correcting himself.
Samantha smirked, "Sorry, Alex. He gets intoxicated really fast."
"Ever been kissed by a man before?" Fox questioned, his blue eyes sparkling with interest.
Alex cleared his throat, "I've been kissed by my father. Why?" Instead of responding the Prince of Serenia kissed his cheek. Completely caught off guard, Alex shifted away, almost dropping the other man in the process.
Backing away, Fox giggled like a little kid, "Now, you have been."
Walter smirked and decided to help Alex out by pulling Fox off him, "Ok, Fox, I think you've had a little too much there."
Samantha grabbed Alex's hands, "Sorry about him. Anyway, I love this song. Do you want to dance?" Alex nodded.
The two were about to step out onto the dance floor when, suddenly, gunshots were heard. Instantly the music stopped and the only things that could be heard were the shots being fired and the screams of the people who were hit by the bullets.
Quickly realizing what was happening, Alex pushed Samantha down and dove on top of Fox, sending them both plummeting to the ground. The older man glanced around, still out of it, "What's going on, Alex? You're moving a little too fast for me."
"Just stay on the floor, Fox," Alex instructed. He looked around and felt for his weapon, realizing he hadn't thought to wear his gun. Cursing, he motioned for Skinner to get down before looking across the room to where the King and Queen were. What he saw terrified him. The Queen was leaning of the King's bleeding form. Bleeding...
"Dad?" Fox moaned. "What's going on, Alex?"
Alex was about to see if he could make it to the other side of the room when, suddenly, a sudden pain went through the back of his neck. Hissing in agony, Alex felt his neck and pulled out a thing that was lodged in it. He glanced at it with fright, "Tranquilizer?"
Suddenly, the whole room began to spin and he was forced to close his eyes. Alex felt his body relax, and, no longer able to control his functions, he passed out. The last thing he felt was strong hands picking up his body and carrying him away.
Fox looked up, feeling completely sick, "Alex? Where did you go? Alex?" He glanced at Walter who was on the ground next to him, "Where the hell is Alex? What's happening to my father?" His mind was in a whirl as he tried to sort all that had just happened.
"Fox!" Samantha screamed, "Father's been shot! I think he's dead!" Tears were running down her cheeks as she watched her mother's anguished expression from the other side of the room.
Fox's eyes widened in disbelief at what he had heard, "What!?" This was not happening. This was NOT happening.
"Father is dead!" Samantha cried again.
Fox was about to call to her again when, suddenly, a burning sensation went through his whole body. Dizzily, he reached out to his neck and found a dart sticking out of it. Pulling it out, he looked up to see Samantha's blurry form over him. Closing his eyes, he let out a deep breath, "Find Krycek." With that, he lost consciousness.
Samantha looked at Walter, her eyes large with fear, "What happened to him? Where's Alex?"
"I don't know where Alex went," Walter responded. He picked up the dart by Fox's hand, "Its a tranquilizer."
"Damn it!" Samantha cursed. She stood and ran over to the other side of the room, looking down at her father. Instead of looking anguished as she had expected he looked surprisingly peaceful, his eyes closed languidly.
Her mother looked up at her and fresh tears began to fall, "He's gone. Someone shot him. Where's Fox?"
"Someone shot him with a tranquilizer. Walter is with him," Samantha explained, tears continuing to fall from her eyes,
The Queen rubbed her eyes before asking, "What about that boy...his apprentice?"
"He's gone," Samantha said. She looked over at Walter to find that he was holding up not one but two tranquilizer darts. "There's another tranquilizer dart over there and only one hit Fox."
"Oh, God, help us," The Queen cried. She put her hands on the King's head and bent down to him. Samantha watched her and then turned to the door. Quietly she prayed for Alex's safety before walking back to Walter's position to try to revive her unconscious brother.
Meanwhile, two people were just outside of the castle. One of them, a large man, had Alex Krycek hoisted over his shoulder. The other, a woman dressed in a short black silk dress, led the other man. She walked over to a small creek running just outside the castle and sat down on a rock motioning for her companion to do the same. He did so, setting Alex down on her lap as she motioned for him to do.
The woman smiled cruelly and pushed back a strand of hair from Alex's face, "I told you, Alex. Whenever I want something I get it." She touched his closed eyes with lust and kissed his cheek, "Soon you will realize that you do feel the same way about me, Alex. I know you'll learn to love me. If you don't then, unfortunately, we will have to dispose of you."
An hour later Vanessa still held Alex on her lap. The other man who was with her watched her actions, "Should we really just sit here? They will find us." He wasn't happy with this whole ordeal. It was obvious this woman was just an obsessed maniac. When he got back to Relsin he was going to make sure that she stayed as far away from him as possible.
"The King of Serenia is dead. They will deal with that and the drugging of the new king before thinking to come after his apprentice. That is, if they remember him at all. I got the feeling that he was under appreciated there."
Slowly, Alex began to stir. Vanessa gazed at him, her eyes soft. He shook his head slightly, and, after a moment, he opened his eyes. Seeing that he was still partially drugged, Vanessa bent down and kissed him softly, "Welcome back, Alex. You were out for nearly an hour."
Finally seeing her, Alex tried to move only to have her restrain him. He sighed, frustrated by his lack of strength at the moment, "You shot him, didn't you?"
"I'm sure you see me as an awful person, but I'm not, Alex. All I am is misunderstood by you and the rest of the kingdom. The King had to die. He threatened my people."
Alex narrowed his eyes at her, "You're a Relsinian." Why didn't he admit to Fox what Vanessa had done to him in the first place? Moron.
"A Relsinian spy, yes." Vanessa motioned towards the large man, "This is a Relsinian bounty hunter. Have you heard of bounty hunters, Alex?"
"Yes. They hunt down people that someone else wants and collects money for them."
Vanessa nodded, "You're very bright, Alex. It is a very attractive trait. Well, I got him for free since I have been doing such a good job for the Relsinians. If I hadn't gotten him for free I would have had to pay a pretty good amount of money for you. You were shot with one of the best tranquilizers out there. There are no side effects of the tranquilizer except for a slight headache. Well, you deserved the best, Alex."
"Did you have your bounty hunter kill the King, too?"
"No, that was me," Vanessa admitted. "I thought I did a good job, too. Hit the bastard with two shots. Killed him with three. Then, I shot a few of the people around me just for pleasure"
"Bitch," Alex muttered, surprised by how tired he sounded. <It must be the tranquilizer> Alex told himself, <Its relaxed my body completely>.
Vanessa smiled and caressed his cheek, "You say that now, Alex, but you'll learn your true feelings in time." His frustration brought a slightly reddening to his cheeks, making him look even more handsome in her eyes.
Meanwhile, inside the castle, Samantha was talking to her very sick brother about what had happened, "There's no chance that he can be revived. Dad is dead which means you're the king of Serenia."
"What about Alex?"
Samantha sighed, "Walter found another tranquilizer dart on the floor so our best bet is that he's still alive somewhere. Someone took him, though."
Fox groaned in frustration, "How can someone get out of this castle carrying another man without being shot?" Didn't the guards in this kingdom have any training? If someone is carrying an unconcious man then they should be restrained and questioned.
"The guard at the door is dead," Samantha told him. "It wasn't Byers, luckily. Right now he's checking with Frohike to see if he saw anything."
Fox extended his hands to Walter who carefully pulled him to his feet. Swaying a bit, he stumbled towards the door of the ballroom, "We have to find him."
Samantha grabbed his arm and pulled him back, "The guards are looking for him." It was obvious that he felt guilty about Alex's disappearance, but she refused to let him hurt himself further or be killed just because of his depression.
"I don't care if the guards are looking for him. They're probably looking in the wrong places, or they're still looking around for Dad's assailants."
"Fox," Samantha began sternly. "First of all, the people who shot Father probably are the ones who have Alex, and secondly, you are in no condition to be wandering around. Its obvious that you feel weak, and I don't want you getting yourself killed. Lastly, you are the king now. The Kingdom must be addressed with this news."
Walter nodded, "She's right, Fox. You need to tell Serenia that this has happened. The guards will continue looking for Alex. He will be found."
"Alexis was right," Fox muttered drearily. He leaned against the wall and closed his eyes morosely, visually picturing his father bleeding over and over in his mind. How could he have doubted Alexis, who had never been wrong before? He was such a fool.
"I will not go with you," Alex declared harshly outside of the castle.
Vanessa pouted, "You just aren't well right now, Alex. The Relsinians would appreciate you being in the army and I would always come and visit you." <I would give you anything you wanted>
Alex shook his head stubbornly, "You are mad to believe that I would betray my kingdom."
"We aren't talking about betrayal," Vanessa argued. "I'm offering you a chance at a new life."
"Well, then, I'm turning it down," Alex declared. "Go back to Relsin. I definitely will not follow you." Vanessa merely looked at him with pity and ran a hand through his hair. He had no idea what a wonderful life he was turning down. Still, Vanessa knew she had the advantage over this situation. Alex Krycek would be hers whether he wanted to be or not.
The next day at precisely noon Fox and Samantha met privately with the first rank of soldiers. Taking in a nervous breath, Fox addressed the troops, "Today I have the pleasure...well, not the pleasure. Today I have the duty of speaking to you for the first time as your king." Gasps were heard from around the room and Fox had to wait a few moments for them to die down. "My father was killed last night during the ball. Along with him went Sir Christian Dale, one of the highest ranked guards. A few of the maids were shot as well, but they all survived."
"Was it Relsin?" A guard called out.
Fox held up his hand, "Please, allow me to finish. In regards to your question, however, we are not sure if the shooter of the gun was from Relsin. There is the slight possibility that the shooter was a Serenian." This caused the soldiers to mutter curses among themselves.
"Unfortunately, time cannot be turned back and I must claim the throne, but I want everything to be done to see that my father's death is avenged."
One of the guards moved forward, "Majesty, do you have a description of the shooter for us?"
Fox nodded slowly, "Yes. Well, it is not a good description, but there were two people involved. One of them was an extremely tall man. Taller than myself and my advisor. The other, as Frohike said, was a woman. It was dark, however, and he couldn't make out eye and hair color. They were both Caucasian. I do have something else for you to go on, nonetheless."
Seeing that the guards were listening attentively, Fox continued, "A few of you know that I recently came in contact with a man who is now my apprentice. For some reason, my father's murderers captured him and now, most likely, have him in their custody. This is an extremely important matter to me. I want him returned safely."
"Do you have a description of him, Sire?" One of the guards asked.
"I do. He is six foot and an inch. His hair is brown and his eyes are green. His name is Alex Krycek."
One of the guards nodded, "Is he lean?"
"I suppose you could say that," Fox replied. He glanced momentarily at Samantha before saying, "Now, you must find him. Inform the guards under you that he is to be found. I must inform the kingdom of my father's fate, and it would be a blessing to have him back by tomorrow."
The guards shuffled and whispered to each other. Sensing their protest, Fox shrugged, "Yes, I know it will be difficult, but, as I said, this is extremely important to me. I want him alive and in the best condition possible. Understood?"
"Yes, My Lord," the troops stated in unison.
Fox inclined his head towards them, "Dismissed!" Slowly, the guards left the room. As they exited, Fox turned to Samantha, "What if they can't find him?" For a second he was covered with doubt, but it left as quickly as it had arrived.
"He will be found," Samantha told him assuringly. "I know he will. I can sense it."
Walter, who had been standing in the doorway, moved by his side with a troubled expression on his face, "You really should get some rest, Fox."
Hearing this, Fox laughed heartily, "I slept for awhile yesterday because of that tranquilizer. Besides, I can't sleep while Alex is still missing." <If he doesn't get to sleep, I shouldn't get to. Its my fault he's not here> Fox added mentally.
"It could be days before they find him," Walter argued. "Will you sit up for weeks and wait for him?" He was really worried about the King now. His father's death had obviously impacted him, and now that his apprentice was missing...how long would he be able to hold out if Alex wasn't found?
"It will not be weeks. I have commanded the troops to bring him in tomorrow." As if in a dream, Fox felt that if he willed something strong enough that it would be true, and he was wishing for this. He wanted Alex back in one piece by the next day.
Samantha sighed and touched his hand, "I am praying that they do find him so soon, but just because you wish something doesn't mean it will happen, Fox. It seems more likely that it will take awhile for Alex to be found."
Drawing back his hand, Fox stood and walked towards the door. Turning back, he frowned, "Am I the only one to keep my faith? He will be found by tomorrow." With that, he left the room in a rage.
Walter looked at Samantha and sighed, "I can understand his guilt. You shouldn't take offense. I, too, feel burdened because of this. Somehow, I feel that I could have helped him somehow, and I know Fox is feeling the same way."
"You shouldn't blame yourself," Samantha told him, "and I do understand that Fox's anger is not directly at me. He does have a tendency to blame things on himself. Hopefully Alex will be found to. It may destroy him otherwise."
Night fell slowly on the Serenian Kingdom as the guards continued to search the area for any sign of Alex Krycek and the King's assailants. Byers, gun drawn, glanced around the exterior of the castle frustrated. Nothing had been turned up yet and he knew Fox would be upset if Alex was not returned by tomorrow. Yes, he had asked the impossible, but Byers couldn't help but want to find Alex in order to help releive his guilt and anger from the sudden change in events.
Seeing two of his soldiers coming towards him, he sighed, "Have they found nothing in the outskirts of the city?"
"Nothing," the man replied. He was tall with short blond hair and a strong build. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he sighed, "The King asks the impossible, Sir. There is no way we'll be able to find him by tomorrow."
Byers nodded, "I know, William, but you should have seen him in there. His Majesty was distressed and guilt-ridden."
"I, personally, don't think he will make a good king," William replied confidently.
The woman, who had said nothing, looked at her brother in shock, "You dare to mock the King like that?" True, there was gossip going around about the former Prince, but she knew she and everyone else had no reason to doubt him.
William shrugged, "Admit it, Dana. Already he's proven that he gets tense when it comes to a tough situation."
Dana Scully pushed her red hair away from her face before sighing, "Yes, he does seem a bit irrational, but he is the King, and he is emotionally stressed. Give him time, Bill."
Hearing something, Byers motioned for the two to be quiet. They heard a woman softly say, "...drug him and carry him. You were paid by the government, so you will do as I say or I will have you killed."
Taking out their guns, Dana, William, and Byers walked towards the side of the castle and gasped. In front of them, hidden barely by the brush, was a large man and a woman, both fitting the descriptions of the people Frohike had spoken of. The large man had a needle in his hand, and he seemed to push it into something near the woman.
Running forward, Byers clicked the safety off of his gun, "Freeze! Drop the needle and any other weapons you may have!" Dana and William quickly followed suit.
The woman scoffed, "It took you guys long enough. I guess the King really doesn't care for Alex." Before they could fire, the woman stood with a person in her arms.
Byers quickly recognized the person as Alex Krycek, and he was alarmed to see that the younger man was not moving, "What did you do to him?" He hoped to God that he wasn't dead. After losing his father, Byers wasn't sure how Fox would take this news.
"Sedative," the woman said with a shrug. "Alex was being a very bad boy."
Dana glared at her, "Who are you? Are you a Relsinian?"
The woman nodded and smiled, "Vanessa Raley, and I'm from Relsin." It seemed as if she were about to say more when, suddenly, William fired his gun and hit her in chest. She eyed him in shock before letting Alex go and sliding to the ground.
Before Alex could completely hit the ground, however, the bounty hunter picked him up and pointed a gun at his head, "Don't tempt me. She was a fool. I'm glad you killed her."
Byers, William, and Dana did not back down, but they relaxed their arms slightly. "What do you want?" Dana asked.
"I want to escape from this ordeal alive, and if you attempt to shoot me I will kill him," the bounty hunter growled. "What I am going to do back away slowly. When I feel like I am at a safe distance I will let go of this man and run. If you fire at me once I run I will not hesitate in returning fire. Do you all understand?"
William and Dana looked at Byers who nodded reluctantly, "Fine. Go."
Slowly, the bounty hunter moved away from the three, dragging Alex along. They watched as he moved deeper into the woods. Apparently feeling comfortable, he pushed Alex away from himself and ran deeper into the woods, quickly disappearing from sight.
"Should we go after him?" William questioned Byers.
He shook his head, "No. We won't catch him, and I don't want to risk anyone's life. let's go get Alex."
Speedily, the three ran through the forest and found Alex lying in a heap on the ground. Dana leaned down by him and felt his pulse, "Its slow, but that's expected from a sedative. Nothing dangerous." Checking him for injuries she only found a small cut on his brow from where he had fallen from the bounty hunter's grip, the cut from where the King had scratched him, and a small hole where the needle had been injected.
"They're all minor injuries," Dana reported.
Byers looked towards the Heavens and sighed with relief, "Thank God." The King was in a bad enough state. Hopefully his apprentice's return would help him feel better.
Feeling his hands, Dana looked up at the two men, "He's freezing. We need to get him inside." Byers and William put Alex's arms around their shoulders and the three made their way back to the castle to tell the King and the others what had happened.
Fox sat on the bed in his chamber alone staring at the wall. His body was exhausted but his emotions were forcing him to stay awake. Visions of his father's death and images of what his assailants could be doing to Alex haunted him like nightmares coming to life.
Still in thought, he didn't notice the door to his room open. "I'm sorry." The voice startled him, and he looked over to see his sister standing against the wall.
He motioned for her to come sit next to him and, as she did so, he hung his head, "My anger is not directed at you, and I shouldn't have been so outspoken earlier."
"I understand that this is hard for you. Walter and I both feel the same way. What if I had pushed Alex out of the way of that dart? What if Walter had fought the person trying to take Alex? You are not the only one with guilt," Samantha told him.
Fox shook his head, "I know I am not alone, but it was my fault for putting Alex in danger in the first place. Alexis had warned us and yet I still got drunk."
"I wasn't watching out for danger, either," Samantha said. "You can't put all the weight on yourself."
Fox stayed quiet for a moment and looked her directly in the eye. He leaned towards her, "Do you think Alex is dead?"
Samantha thought about this for a moment before shaking her head, "No, I think he's alive."
"How do you know?" Fox questioned. She sounded so sure, and for a moment he felt like a betrayer because he was not as sure.
"I can't explain it. Something just tells me. Call it intuition, I guess, but I feel that he's alive," Samantha explained.
Just then, the door to Fox's room opened and Frohike sprinted inside breathlessly, "Majesty, I'm so glad you're here!"
Fox stood and walked over to him with worry, "What is it, Frohike?"
"Byers found Alex. He is in his chamber now, though he is drugged." Frohike watched Fox cautiously, unsure of how he would react.
Before Samantha could even stand Fox took off through the hallway and down the stairs to the second level of the castle. Finding Alex's room easily, he stepped inside to find Byers standing over the bed with Gloria and two soldiers that he didn't recognize. Walter was leaning against the far wall with a look of contentment on his face. Seeing him enter, they all stepped back and allowed him to come closer.
Fox glanced at Alex's sleeping form with relief at first, and then with anger as he spotted the gash on his forehead. He looked up at Byers, "Was it a Relsinian?"
"A Relsinian woman and a bounty hunter, Sire."
Fox's eyes widened, "There is a bounty on Alex!?" It was unbelievable. Alex seemed so innocent!
Gloria moved towards him, "Fox, I think the woman was Vanessa Raley. That is why Alex did not want her tending to his needs. She has been here for a few months, and Relsin must have given her the bounty hunter to repay her services. If Alex had refused her it seems appropriate that she would allow a bounty hunter to capture him and bring him to her as a sort of gift."
"That is sickening," Samantha said from the doorway. She stepped inside and kissed Byers' cheek followed by William's, "We all owe you gratitude." Samantha looked at Dana and grinned thankfully.
Fox looked at the three soldiers and became interested in the red haired woman who hadn't said a thing while she was in her presence, "What happened to the assailants? Were they captured?"
Realizing that the King was talking to her, Dana cleared her throat, "Vanessa is dead. Bill shot her. The Bounty Hunter then made a deal with us."
Walter, who was leaning against the wall, frowned, "A deal?"
Dana nodded, "Yes, Sir. It was Alex's life for his."
Fox nodded, "You made the right choice. I didn't catch your name, though."
"My name is Dana Scully, Sire, and this is my brother, William Scully Jr."
"As my sister said, we owe you gratitude," Fox said. He kissed her hand and shook William's.
Dana looked down at Alex momentarily, "I did check him when we found him, Sire. His injuries are all minor, and the sedative seems to be unharmful."
Fox eyed her, slightly amazed, "So, you are trained in medicine, as well?"
Fox opened his mouth as if to say more but Samantha cut in, "It has been a long day. I think I'm going to get some rest."
Walter nodded, "I agree."
"I will send for you three tomorrow. After this you are to be commended for your actions," Fox told them.
The three smiled faintly, "Thank you, Sire." Everyone went their own separate ways except for the King.
He looked down at Alex for a second and sighed, "Lesson number three: if you ever do anything to frighten us all like that again you will find yourself locked in this chamber for life." Smiling at his ironic joke, he silently left the room and returned to his, quickly falling to sleep as soon as he got there.
Alex slowly became aware of his surroundings early the next morning. He opened his eyes and winced at the throbbing in his skull. Looking around, he was surprised to find himself in his chamber again instead of outside with Vanessa and the Bounty Hunter. Shivering, he pulled his blanket tighter around his shoulders.
Suddenly, he heard a cheery voice say, "Well, you really got everyone riled up these past two days, Krycek."
Alex coughed, clearing his lungs, before whispering, "I'm sorry, Sir. It was my mistake to stay in one spot at the ball and get taken like that."
Fox laughed heartily at this, "You were hit with a tranquilizer dart. There wasn't much you could do."
Trying to warm himself, Alex glanced around, "Shit, it must have been awful for you to wait around for me to return as if I was some lost dog, Sir. I really do apologize."
"Will you stop that? You may be a good fighter, but you aren't superhuman," Fox told him sharply. "I don't think I know anyone that can be hit with a tranquilizer and not be at least mildly affected by it."
Alex shivered and looked at Fox, "Is it cold in this room or is it just me?"
"Just you," Fox said with a frown. "Then again, you were really cold yesterday when you were brought in. At least that's what Dana said. It might take your body awhile to begin regenerating heat. Especially with the effects of the sedative still wearing off."
Alex's eyebrows came together, "Dana? Who is that?"
"She's a guard on the force," Fox explained, "and she's one of the people who saved you. Dana Scully."
"Never heard of her, Sir. Then again, I've barely heard of anyone in this castle," Alex admitted.
Fox smiled, "Well, then, I'll have to introduce you two once you're feeling better." Becoming more serious, he sighed, "I have to address the kingdom today and tell them that I am the King."
"The shots were fatal?" Alex questioned. He knew the answer, but he refused to let himself give in to the truth.
"Yes, they were fatal," Fox said. "He died almost instantly, which I guess was the best way to go. At least he wasn't in pain for long." Fox was almost surprised to hear the lack of emotion in his voice. Perhaps it was because of all the arguments he had had with his father.
Alex nodded and sat up on the bed, cautiously touching the scrape on his head before murmuring, "I want to be there when you tell the kingdom what happened, Sir." He knew the King was going to need all the support he could get when he told Serenia the news.
Fox shook his head in objection, "You need to rest."
"Let me at least listen, Sir," Alex persisted. His eyes glowed with innocence and anticipation.
Sighing, he shook his head, "No." Glancing once more at his apprentice, however, he groaned in submission, "You will stay only in hearing range with Skinner watching you to make sure you don't pass out or anything like that. If he sees any sign that you are getting faint I will have him bring you back up here. Do you understand?"
Fox really didn't want Alex to come. Not because he was worried about his safety. Well, he was, but that wasn't the whole story. He knew the people weren't going to take kindly to the news of his father's death. The rumors circulating about the former Prince weren't lost of Fox, and he knew most of the civilians in Serenia didn't' much care for him, and he didn't need Alex hearing their complaints. He seemed to be the only commoner to ever look up to him.
Alex nodded happily, "Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir."
Fox walked over to Alex's closet, pulled out clothes, and rubbed his neck, "Get dressed while I go find Skinner." With that, he left.
Alex slowly got out of his bed and moaned as his body protested to the movement. Stumbling over to the chair where Fox had laid a blue long-sleeved shirt and black jeans, Alex put them on and sat down on the plush seat waiting for Walter.
He didn't have to wait long for the older man who entered in a green short- sleeved shirt and blue jeans. Walter raised his eyebrows, "Are you sure you want to listen? It isn't going to be anything you haven't learned before. Besides, the Prince....King was right. You do look like shit." Why was it that Alex was so persistant about hearing this speech? He knew as well as Walter did that it wasn't going to be pleasent. There were going to be a lot of angry citizens out there demanding justice which Fox wouldn't be able to grant.
"I want to listen to the speech," Alex told him forcefully. He stood, wavering momentarily, and walked over to Walter, inclining his head towards the stairway, "Shall we?"
Walter sighed and led the way to the stairs. The two walked down to the main level and strolled into the throne room. Alex was about to walk all the way over to the door where Fox was standing ready to meet the people, but Walter grabbed his arm, "You only need to be in hearing range." Alex nodded reluctantly and watched as Fox exited the castle.
There shouts heard from the crowd of people gathered and Alex slowly wondered if his parents and Sean were there. Were they expecting to see him? "Where is the King?" A person hollered.
Walter and Alex heard Fox reply, "I am right here." Gasps were heard from the crowd, and Fox continued, "The King is dead. He was killed by Relsinian spies during a ball two nights ago. Since I am his son, I will be taking the throne-"
"What the hell are you doing out of bed!?" Samantha called from the far end of the throne room. She quickly ran over to Alex and examined his head injury to make sure it wasn't bleeding before feeling his forehead. Finding that he was normal temperature, she touched his hands, "You're freezing! Come on, we need to get you back in bed."
Alex frowned at her, "I feel perfectly fine, Samantha. Besides, the King has allowed it." He knew his first statement had been a lie. In all honesty, he felt slightly dazed and he was abnormally cold, but he knew Fox would want someone to back him up. Alex really wanted to be there to listen to his words. This time was going to be really hard for him.
Samantha glared at him, "My brother is suddenly a doctor!? You're all flushed, as well!" So far she only had one peeve with her brother's apprentice: he seemed to care about everybody but himself, which could be a good quality, but she feared that if he didn't take care of his own needs that he wouldn't live very long.
"...who was returned safely, thank God, last night. Today I commemorate these three outstanding members of the royal guard: Jonathan Byers, William Scully, and Dana Scully. They're bravery and quick thinking have made it possible for my apprentice to be returned alive and for my father's assailant to be captured and killed." Cheers rose from the crowd as the King pulled out three medals and awarded them to the three soldiers standing by his side.
Suddenly, the cheers turned to horrified screams as gunshots rang out from the side of the castle. From inside, Samantha, Alex, and Walter looked towards the door in horror as a low voice growled, "Make way for a true leader."
More gunshots followed by a strong voice saying, "I told you that we would not stand for such violence against our innocent civilians. Yesterday I was informed that a Relsinian woman was killed in this kingdom. It will not go without punishment." His voice grew louder as he shouted, "Citizens of Serenia: bow down to your new king, for we have just claimed your kingdom as our own. You are now all Relsinians."
Cries of fright were heard as the King yelled, "You will never take us!"
A gun fired and gasps rose from the crowd as the King of Relsin growled, "Do not be foolish, young King."
Just then, the door to the castle burst open and in walked the King of Relsin with a group of Relsinian soldiers. Frohike, who had just entered the room, looked at him fearfully before looking down at the ground, "Byers..."
The red-haired man was covering a bullet hole on his shoulder. His face showed great agony as he tried to stand. Despite his efforts, he could not. The King of Relsin pulled out a cigarette and lit it before looking at Fox with disdain. He pointed at Byers, "Pick up your first knight." When he didn't, the smoking man put a gun to his head causing everyone around them to panic, "I said, pick him up!"
Fox turned away from him and looked down at Byers before pulling the man to his feet and putting one of his arms around his shoulders. Dana, who had been watching the situation in disbelief, slipped Byers' other arm on her shoulders.
At that moment, the smoking man noticed Walter, Frohike, Alex, and Samantha, and he motioned to one of his guards, "Jeff, get them."
The young man, Jeffrey Spender, pulled out his gun and pointed it at the four, "Don't move or I'll fire."
Pointing his gun at Fox, the King of Relsin smiled evilly, "Go stand over by them." He knew he was truly going to relish this for a long time.
Not wanting to mess with the man, Fox and Dana carried Byers over to the middle of the throne room with William right behind them. The seven instinctively got closer together and set Byers in between them so he would be safe.
They all turned to see Marita walk into the castle with a smart ass smile on her face. She strolled carelessly over to the seven in her deep blue dress and high heeled shoes and touched Walter's face lightly. "Whore," she whispered seductively to him. Putting a hand on Fox's arm she grinned slyly, "See? I told you that I'd be back."
"What do you want from us?" Fox questioned the King of Relsin.
He took a long drag on his cigarette before replying, "I want you to get on your knees and say that Relsin is the most powerful kingdom in the world."
Fox shook his head rebelliously, "No. I will not shame myself, my kingdom, or my father's memory like that." He knew that if he owed his father anything that it was not to give up his and the nation's pride. They had to stay strong in the worst of circumstances. That's what he would have done.
"Very well," the King of Relsin said, "then you will have to work off your debts. You and your kingdom." Well, years of hardship had paid off. He would finally get to see the King of Serenia as his slave. Unfortunetly, William Mulder was dead, but his son, Fox, would do quite nicely.
William leaned towards Fox in fury, "Just say that Relsin is all powerful. Spare us the agony." What a brat. Didn't he know that there was more at stake here than personal pride!?
"No." Fox looked at Dana's brother, still not understanding how this man could give in to a nation that would squeeze the life out of Serenia and anyone else who would dare surrender.
Alex eyed him, his vision blurring slightly as he said, "You did the right thing, Sir." For a moment, the familiar feeling of dizziness coming from the tranquilizer hit and he swayed momentarily, but it was gone as quickly as it had arrived, leaving him to watch Fox and try to encourage him with his eyes.
Samantha looked at her brother admirably and grabbed his hand. Glancing at Alex, she took his hand as well and looked at the smoking man fiercely. He leered smugly at her and motioned towards Jeff, "Go and get the rest of the troops, Son. Tell them that a full offensive is in effect."
Jeff nodded and left the room with a bright smile on his face. Marita, who had been standing by the seven for awhile, looked at Fox and kissed his cheek softly, chuckling lightly as he jerked his face away, "I always get what I want, Fox." Finally, she would get to experience the feelings of the Prince's body. He would be her personal slave.
Hearing her words, Alex's eyes widened in shock, "You sent her, didn't you?" So, Marita had sent Vanessa to get him for her? Slut.
Turning her attention away from Fox, Marita shook her head, "Vanessa did what she did because of her own lust. I prefer older men, Alex." <...although, if you beg for me, I might make an acception for you> she added mentally.
The smoking man put out his cigarette on the floor of the castle and laughed mockingly at the Serenians in front of him, "What a glorious day this is for Relsin. Soon, you will learn to love me as my own people do." Fox glared at him angrily as Dana shuddered. What were they going to do? Could they break away from this vile man's rule, or would they be forced to live as slaves for the Relsinians for the rest of their lives?
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO...
So, what did you think? Strange? Great? Did it suck? I really want feedback for this story because its the first alternate reality story I've attempted. Well, unless you include crossovers in the alternate reality category, which I don't. In addition to comments and *creative* criticism I would also like to know what you'd like to see in the next part of this story. Should Fox and Dana end up together, or should I make this a slash (Mulder/Krycek)? Should William end up against Fox like he is in the X-Files or should I make Bill Scully Jr. good for once? What about Marita? Should she come to the good side? What about Jeff Spender? What about the hinting at Byers and Mrs. Krycek getting together? I have an idea on where I want to go in the next part of the series but I'd really like some input so that I write stuff that you, the reader, want to see. Well, be sure to E-mail me at Rkacat@aol.com Thank you for reading this story!