Title: Serenia series 02. Freedom
Author: Ms Spookey
Written: August 1998
Disclaimer~ Fox Mulder, Alex Krycek, Samantha Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, The Lone Gunman, Bill Scully Jr., Melissa Scully, Mrs. Mulder, Jeff Spender, Marita Covarrubies, Cancerman, and the Bounty Hunter belong to David Duchovny, Nicholas Lea, Megan Leitch, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood, Dean Haugland, Pat Skipper, Melissa McGraw, Rebecca Toolan, Chris Owens, Laurie Holden, William B. Davis, Brian Thompson, Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and FOX. Don't sue, please. Gloria Florence, Lady Alexis, Sean Jacobson, Mrs. Krycek, Celestria, Ariel, and Delsia are mine. Please, no stealing. If you want to use them
Rating and Archiving~ Rated PG-13 for mild romance *between who, I will not say*, language, and descriptions of violence. If you are offended by the physical beating of helpless people then I suggest you disregard this story. Please do archive, but keep my name attached. Oh, and character deaths. Again, which characters I will not say. You'll just have to read on and see.
Time Frame~ One month after the first installment of this series: Apprentice.

Suggested Reading~ If you don't read Apprentice you will be completely lost. I tried to explain some of it in this story, but you really should read Apprentice first.
Categories~ Alternate Universe, character death, mild romance (between who will not be revealed), angst, and torture. Have fun!

Summary~ Welcome to Serenia; a world that shows what a mystical Earth would be like in our time. Imagine the present Earth that includes kingdoms, magic, and other types of things found only in storybooks. This, the second in a series, tells of the cruelty of a nation to their enemies and how Serenia fought back against the oppression.

Author's Note~ I was just so overwhelmed by the responses to my first alternate reality story, Apprentice, so I want to thank you for all the feedback and the comments on that story. A lot of you wanted MSR, some of you wanted slash, and quite a few of you came up with completely bizarre combinations that I had never thought of (i.e.. Samantha/Skinner). Also, some people went so far as to plead for their least favorite characters to die. I will tell you that all of your comments were read, appreciated, and thought about.

It had been one month since the Relsinian King had marched into the beautiful castle within the walls of Serenia and had taken control of all its dwellers. One damn month and already the Serenians were servants of Relsin. They were weak, tired, and sick. People were dying to left and right if their bodies could not stand the torture, and the once glorified castle in the center of the kingdom was now cursed and feared by those around it.

Those inside the castle, however, were subject to worse torture. They were seen as the traitors of Serenia for they refused to fall on their knees and beg for mercy from the Relsinian King. Each day he would ask and each day they would refuse and suffer the blows from whips of the Relsinian guards.

Samantha Mulder had grown terribly sick during that first month, and the King of Relsin had finally taken pity on her, allowing her to stay in her chamber while the others carried her work load. She felt awful about these conditions, but the others assured her that her sickness could not be helped, and that if she died they would never forgive themselves.

That day cold rain fell from the sky and struck those working outside like a thousand knives stabbing their skin. They cursed and made terrible gestures at the Serenian castle for they knew that there was heat within its walls and that their real king, who had betrayed them all, was enjoying the warmth.

What they didn't know was that their beliefs were lies. The King of Serenia, Fox Mulder, was not enjoying the warmth but rather dying of it. His white shirt, which had holes all over it from the strain of his labor, was brown with stains after working on the floor for so long. He, at that moment, was in the lower chambers of the castle with a heavy load of coal in his hands.

Fox walked through the hallways lit by the lights from the torches on the walls with a grim expression on his face. He was hungry and tired, and, at the moment, death was all he really desired.

Turning into a dark room he was unprepared for the painful blow he received to his back. The force sent him tumbling to the ground, and the coal he had been carrying went flying out of his hands and onto the floor. A flashlight was lit and he saw the one who had struck him was none other than the Bounty Hunter who had helped Vanessa Raley kidnap his apprentice, Alex Krycek, a month earlier.

The large man smiled evilly at him before kicking him and grabbing the coal he had brought from the floor. Taking it, he put it into a large furnace at the back of the room. Turning to face Fox, he frowned. "You are late."

"Blame your men for giving the coal to me behind schedule," Fox argued, doing his best to stand even though his back protested. He swayed dizzily for a moment before beginning out of the room.

The Bounty Hunter's strong hand on his shoulder stopped him and spun him around. "Listen to me," the large man growled. "You may think you are powerful compared to me, but you are nothing. My King is your King and I'm afraid that you are misguided if you think you are worth more to him than me."

<Someone has a fragile ego> Fox thought mentally. He sighed. "I have to go up to see your king. Let me go." The Bounty Hunter glared at him before drawing his hand back and letting the younger man leave.

Fox wandered back up to the main level of the castle and stumbled into the throne room where he found the King of Relsin sitting on what had once been his father's throne smoking a cigarette calmly. He looked around and found that his advisor, Walter Skinner, was also in the room. Walter was standing in front of the Relsinian King with a frown on his face. Fox could tell that he was tired because he was slumped over and there were bags under his eyes.

From behind him, Fox heard the metal door open and saw his apprentice, Alex Krycek enter with a wearied expression on his face. His eyes were half closed and he barely made it into the room without falling over. Feeling the need to help him, Fox walked over to his apprentice and put one of Alex's arms over his shoulder so that he could use him as a crutch. They slowly moved over to Walter and stood by his side.

The Relsinian King watched them and took a drag of his cigarette contentedly. He remembered the day that his people had stormed the castle and he had seen the three of them together in the center of the throne room along with an assistant, three guards (one of whom had been injured), and Fox's sister, Samantha. They had looked so confident then and now they looked so weak. Soon they would be broken and they would bow to him. He could not wait for that time to come.

"Your work outcomes have not been good," he said slowly.

Walter glared at him before muttering, "Samantha is extremely ill. We need to get her a doctor." He tried to do his best to hide his tiredness so that weakness would not be apparent. If there was one feeling he hated it was the feeling of powerlessness and he refused to give in to that feeling in front of this horrible man sitting on the Serenian throne in front of him.

Fox nodded in agreement. "Dana Scully has looked at her but she doesn't have the medicine to treat her sickness."

He remembered when Dana had gone to see Samantha. During their meeting Dana had tried to assure his sister that she would be fine and that everything would work out, but when he had been with her in private, she, morosely, had told him that if she wasn't taken to a practicing doctor that it would only be a matter of time till the inevitable occurred. "Only a miracle could save her," Dana had told him.

The King of Relsin sighed. "You may be down a worker, but we still need these tasks done. I thought one of you was supposed to be doing her work load."

"I've been doing her work," Alex told him wearily. He closed his eyes and tried to relish in that second of sleep before opening them and looking at the King of Relsin. The first two weeks after the work had begun Alex had done his best to hide his weariness, but now he was too tired to even do that. Although every night he would try to convince himself that he was as strong as ever he knew the truth: if this went on much longer he wasn't going to survive till his 33rd birthday. He wondered how his parents and Sean were faring. Everyday he prayed for them knowing that they must be in worse condition than he was. At least the castle provided heat. Outside rain fell, and he could almost sense the cold that those on the exterior of the castle were feeling.

"Well then, Alex, you will need to double your efforts." Alex gaped at him in disbelief before nodding in resignation. He was aching all over, but he knew it was pointless to fight with the King of Relsin. The smoking man would not relent, and if he dared oppose his orders the King would have his soldiers whip him.

Fox, however, was infuriated by this and glared at the King of Relsin. "Damn you! Look at us! Hell, just look at Krycek! We're tired, we're hungry, and if you keep giving us this torturous workload we are all going to be dead in less than a few months! If you want your work to be continued we need food. Shit, we'll settle for some water if that's all you have. Skinner, when was the last time you ate more than a piece of bread a day?"

Walter glanced at him before looking down at his fingers and doing his best to remember. "Um, I think about four days, Fox."

"Four days without more than some water and a piece of bread for everyday! Krycek, how about you?"

Alex looked at him, brought a shaky hand up to his face so he could count his fingers, and embarrassedly found that his vision was so blurred that he could barely make out his fingers. Turning a deep shade of red he looked up at the ceiling instead and tried to remember. <Why can't I answer the question? Has all this labor really messed me up so much?>

Watching Alex with a great amount of concern, Fox put his hand on his apprentice's shoulder. "Forget it." He turned back to the King of Relsin and growled, "Did you see that!? He can barely see let alone work, and Krycek is inside the castle where I've heard there is less of a workload. Who knows what you are doing to those poor people out there! This cannot be tolerated! We need food and we need time to rest!"

The smoking man regarded him with a great amount of interest before turning to his right where his daughter, Marita Covarrubias, was standing, a smug expression on her face. "Bring the King of Serenia to his chamber for a day of rest."

Marita looked at him, somewhat surprised by the request, before walking casually over to Fox and laying a hand on his arm. "Let's go," she purred.

Fox glanced at the King of Relsin, perplexed by the fact that he had honored his request, before turning to Alex and Walter. "Come on, then."

<Unfortunately for Fox, I'm not letting him get away with that much> the smoking man thought to himself. "Not so fast. I didn't say that your advisor and apprentice were getting a day of rest."

"What the hell are you talking about? They need a day off as much as I do if not more!" Fox exclaimed. What was this miserable man trying to pull?

"Take him away," the King of Relsin ordered sternly.

As Marita led Fox towards the door of the throne room they both turned around as they heard a horrible groaning. Before them they saw two of the King's guards kicking Walter and Alex in the back of the knees forcing them to fall to the ground. After this had happened two more guard put their feet on the backs of the two men and pushed down on them until they had no choice but to bend as if they were bowing to the smoking man.

Unable to stand this, Fox ran towards them only to be stopped by two more guards that stopped him from making any move towards the two men. He glared at the smoking man with fury. "You sonofabitch!"

Ignoring him, the King of Relsin turned to Walter and Alex with an false smile gracing his wrinkled features. "Say it, boys. Admit that I am the best King you've ever served."

"Never," Walter growled. He would rather die before saying anything to glorify this man.

Alex nodded in agreement. "No way."

The smoking man motioned to two of his guards standing by the doors of the castle. They walked over to the kneeling men and pulled out their whips, lashing their backs with them. The two cried out and tried to move away from the horrible pain, but the other guards standing by them just kicked at their sides if they tried.

"Say it, boys."

"Fuck you, Bastard!" Walter hollered, his face red with anger and pain.

Fox watched in horror as the two guards continued to beat them.


He closed his eyes and tried to filter out the howls of his two closest friends.


Fox began to tremble and did his best to hold in his anger.


More cries. He couldn't escape them. Putting his hands over his ears he wished the horrible sounds would go away.


Beyond the yells of his advisor and apprentice he could barely hear the King of Relsin threatening and taunting them. Why was he forcing him to hear this? Why was he doing this? Why weren't Walter and Alex relenting?


Fox opened his eyes and looked at the two, finding that tears were streaming down their faces and their fists were clenched against the pain. "Say it," the smoking man taunted again as he took another puff of his cigarette. He glanced momentarily at Fox and smiled at the anguished expression on his face.


"Damn it, just tell him what he wants to hear!" Fox yelled. He wasn't sure whether he was feeling extremely guilty because his friends were being tortured as he felt no pain or angry because Walter and Alex were too prideful of his father...of him...to relent.

Walter glared icily at Fox. "No!" He could hear the strain in his own voice but refused to give in to the pain. This man on the throne deserved no praise. He was a murderer and a coward who had to get others to do his dirty work for him. Walter would rather die than say anything that he wanted to hear.

Fox backed down at Walter's glare, but after a minute his intimidation turned to pure rage. How dare he! <How dare he what, Fox? How dare he stand up for you? You are the King of his kingdom!> <I am the King of a dead kingdom. He should spare himself the pain.>

Fox looked towards Alex who had done his best to curl up in a ball on the floor. "Krycek, say what he wants you to say and spare yourself the pain." The younger man whimpered faintly and shook his head 'no' in response.


Finally, Fox couldn't stand it any longer. "You're the greatest leader they have ever served, all right!? Just have your guards stop!"

"Fox, are you insane!?" Walter hollered, "Don't give in to that bastard!" What the hell was Fox doing? Didn't he know that if they gave in to the smoking man that he would have all the more control over them?

The King of Relsin smiled sweetly at Fox and murmured, "Better than you?" Fox nodded slowly. "Better than your father?"

"Don't ask me to lie," Fox growled. "You know I'll do anything to get you to stop this, but don't ask me for something I cannot give. Are you at all human? Please, don't make me dishonor my father."

The smoking man looked at him and considered his pleas. Finally, he waved his hand motioning for his guards to step away from Walter and Alex. He pointed at them. "Escort them to their chamber and allow them to stay there today and rest. Go."

The guards pulled Walter and Alex to their feet and, ignoring the moaning protests of the two men, they literally dragged them to the door of the throne room with Fox and another guard right behind them. As they left the King of Relsin watched them and took a satisfied puff of his cigarette, allowing himself to smile. This was working out better than expected.

Dana Scully was kneeling on the floor of the ballroom at the same moment with a sponge and a tub of soapy water washing the marble floor slowly. Her face was covered with dust and her white blouse, with a hole at the top of the left sleeve, was low cut as ordered by the head guard.

"This is completely insane!" William Scully Jr., her brother, exclaimed from a corner of the room. He was holding a ratty broom and he was now wearing a light blue shirt and dirty blue jeans. A small scar stood out on his otherwise clear face from when he had been scratched by one of the guards who had been upset with him for speaking his mind about cleaning all of the Relsinians' dishes for a week.

Dana sighed. "What's so insane about it? We're cleaning the ballroom. I'm thankful that we're not cleaning horse manure or mining coal from outside of Serenia."

"Yeah, but this is a huge ballroom. Cleaning horse shit at least wouldn't take this long," William whined. He pushed back his dirty blond hair and did his best to hold in a pout.

From the other side of the room, by the stairs, Melvin Frohike was sweeping the floor with disdain. "I'm going to have to agree with your brother, Dana. This cleaning crap is stupid. I mean, how many balls have the Relsinians held in here since they took over our kingdom?"

Dana thought about this for a moment before responding dully, "None."

"Exactly," Frohike stated. "So, therefore, the only reason we're stuck cleaning out the dust in here is because they want us to suffer."

"Either that, or our wonderful King wants us to suffer so that he doesn't have to," William muttered. No, he didn't completely hate Fox Mulder, but he was wary of him. He had heard the rumors of Fox being a brat and, from what he had seen, he was one.

Dana dropped her sponge at this and stormed over to her brother angrily. "You have no right to say that about His Majesty. He has been working his ass off this past month as have we. The King of Relsin doesn't regard him any higher than us."

"That's a lie. You know as well as I do that the smoking bastard has been giving Fox less work than the rest of us."

Dana put her hands on her hips. "Well, then, that isn't his fault. You have to give the man some credit. His father his dead and his sister is gravely ill. Maybe its for the best that he isn't getting as much work." Why couldn't William see past his narrow-minded views about the King and realize how much emotional stress he had been under lately? Dana, personally, was beginning to admire Fox for his strength.

"There are words coming down from the grapevine," Ringo Langly said from his assigned position by the thrones. "The latest rumors state that the reason the King of Relsin has been going so easy on Fox is because he's getting lucky with our King's mother."

Despite his frustration with Fox, William couldn't help but chuckle at this. "That black-lunged SOB has hit it off with the King's mother? Langly, that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!"

"Scoff if you will, Sir Scully, but I actually think it is a plausible explanation," Frohike commented. "I mean, why else would the King of Relsin regard him so highly?"

"Boys, the King's mother is in mourning over the death of her first husband. Why would she go for the man whose subjects killed her husband, and, even if she did, why would Fox be forced to do any work if he were regarded as special?" Dana questioned. This theory was completely absurd! The King's mother would never betray her deceased husband like that!

Langly shrugged. "I don't know, but maybe it has to do with Samantha's sickness. If she were able to do the work maybe Fox would be allowed to rest, but since we are short a person he needs to do her workload."

William shook his head. "Wrong, Langly. Alex Krycek is doing her work."

"The poor guy is exhausted, too," Dana remarked. She couldn't help but feel for Alex. When they had all gotten together the night before it had been obvious that he was completely worn out. Yes, they were all slow on their feet but he looked almost dead. It was impossible for her to imagine what it must be like to do everything you were supposed to regularly and double it. That was what he was doing, and it amazed her that he was still able to stand let alone work.

"Speaking of Alex, are we meeting the others again tonight?" Langly questioned.

William nodded. "Yes. We meet every night unless stated otherwise."

The meetings they spoke of were top secret and only those trusted within the castle were allowed to attend. Those present usually included everyone in the ballroom at the moment, the King of Serenia, the King's advisor and apprentice, Lady Alexis (the fortune teller), Gloria Florence (Samantha's personal maid and best friend), Sir John Byers (first knight), and, if well enough, the meetings would take place in Samantha's room so that she could listen in and give input even though she was ill.

These people met together every night secretly in order to come up with a plan to retake Serenia and offensively force the King of Relsin and his followers back to their own kingdom before more lives were lost. So far the meetings had not been productive, but they hoped that one day one of them would come up with something and so they continued meeting.

Another purpose of these meetings were to help those having trouble with their work. It was in these meetings that it was decided Alex would take on Samantha's workload, and it was because of the meetings that Dana knew the King's apprentice was not faring as well as he thought he was. She hoped that at tonight's meeting that this issue would be addressed and that, perhaps, Samantha's work could be divided between the whole group instead of put on just one man.

Frohike looked around, momentarily paranoid, before whispering, "They could be watching us. We should get back to work." William, Dana, and Langly nodded and continued scrubbing the floors.

"I cannot believe you did that!" Skinner yelled as he sat on the floor of the chamber that he was now forced to share with Fox and Alex. "How dare you humiliate us in that manner!"

Fox glared at him in anger. "Humiliate!? You were in pain and I stopped the pain. Skinner, you should be thanking me! I mean, you were too prideful to save yourselves!"

"Yes, we are prideful! Prideful of our kingdom! I will not give up faith that this situation is temporary, and you have to stop being so pessimistic. If you have decided to lose all faith in a kingdom that you are the KING of then don't rub that belief off on others, Fox. We still have a dream."

"Stop acting like I am some hideous monster that is trying to forget my position in the Serenian Kingdom because I am not. I will never lose my faith in this kingdom, but I am in emotional peril. You must understand that I don't want the two people closest to me besides my sister in this castle perish if I have the chance to stop it." Fox motioned for Alex to come closer to him as he lifted up a bottle of lotion. "Come here and let me put this on your back. It will help with the swelling."

Alex did as told nervously. He didn't want the King lifting up his shirt and seeing his badly beaten body. The marks he knew were there made him feel completely weak and he hated that feeling.

As expected, when Fox lifted up Alex's shirt he gasped. "Damnation, Krycek, why the hell did you let them do this to you!?" His apprentice didn't answer making him angry again. Bottling his feelings for the moment, he dropped the lotion. "Just take off the shirt. It'll be easier that way." Alex sighed and did so closing his eyes and waiting for the King's response his scarred body.

"What the hell is all this!?" Fox exclaimed, slowly tracing his fingers over the younger man's battered flesh. Touching a large bruise on Alex's side, his apprentice took in a quick breath and moved away from him.

Walter rubbed the bridge of his nose and turned away from Alex's beaten form having seen enough of it. "Stop making a big deal out of it, Fox. Mine looks the same way, and I know a lot of people look worse."

Suddenly feeling extremely guilty, Fox gazed at him. "Why don't I look like him or you? I only have a few scratches." Becoming hysterical, he motioned frantically towards Alex's back. "Why doesn't my back look like this!? "

"Calm down, Fox," Walter ordered with concern. "I'm sure it is because the King of Relsin knows you are the King of our kingdom and has decided to go easy on you."

"Why would he go easy on me, Skinner? That makes no sense. Wouldn't you think that the leader of a nation should be the one to endure the most pain?" Fox closed his eyes for a moment and let out a deep breath in order to appease himself.

Walter shrugged. "I don't know, Fox. All I know is that you have been lucky and you should be thankful."

Alex looked up at Fox and pointed towards the lotion. "Are you going to do it, Sir, or should I just put my shirt back on because this is embarrassing."

Fox nodded slowly and picked up the lotion bottle, putting some of the white substance onto his hand. He spread it gently around Alex's back before beginning to massage it over his skin. The younger man winced a few times before relaxing into the touch and closing his eyes doing his best not to drift off to sleep.

Walter watched them for a moment before sighing. "Please, tell me why you did that today. I need to know."

"I told you why, Skinner. The reason I did what I did was because I didn't want you to be killed," Fox told him. He wasn't happy to be on this topic of conversation again. Why couldn't Walter live with the fact that he had made a choice and he needed to live with it?

"Perhaps it was unwise for us to get this close to you, Fox," Skinner commented slowly, unsure of how the King would react to his words. "I do not regret my friendship with you, and I'm sure Alex doesn't either, but we cannot influence your decisions. Lets say the horrible happens and you have to choose between me and fifty commoners. The person or group you chooses lives and the person or group that you don't choose die. Who would you choose?"

Fox narrowed his eyes at him. "This is absurd, Skinner, but you are my advisor so I would probably choose you."

<Damn it!> "That was the wrong answer. It was one life for fifty others and you chose my life! We've gotten too close to you. Perhaps we should put in for a transfer of rooms or working teams or something because this could be hazardous to our kingdom."

"You are talking like a madman, Skinner!" Fox exclaimed. "My father is dead and my sister is in critical condition. In addition to this I have not seen my mother in over a week. You and Alex are the closest people to me now. Try to think of how it would be to lose you. It would be like losing my father all over again." He buried his head in his hands and took in a shaky breath.

Alex, who had been listening to the conversation interestedly turned his head towards Fox. "Perhaps, but perhaps Skinner is wrong, Sir. I think we are not close enough to you."

Fox stared at him in astonishment. "How can you say that!? You two are like brothers to me!"

"You may say that, Sir, but I don't think that's the case. If you would kill fifty people just to keep one of us alive then I think that you really don't know us very well."

"What the hell do you mean by that!?" Fox inquired angrily.

Alex sighed. "Well, Sir, I know that I would not be able to live with myself if I knew that fifty people had been killed to save my life. If you don't know that my reaction to that scenario would be purely suicidal then you don't know me very well." He closed his eyes groggily again and positioned himself so that his back was barely touching Fox's bent knees.

Walter watched his movements with amusement before turning back towards Fox. "He is right, you know."

Fox rubbed his eyes and nodded. "I know he is. This whole situation is scaring me as it is, though. I don't need to be terrified any more by the thought of you two dying, Skinner."

"It is going to happen though, Fox. You know the day is going to come when one of us, or both Alex and me, or all three of us are going to bite the bullet. We all have to be ready to go at any time," Walter remarked. "Right, Alex?"

Instead of getting a response all he received was the sound of light breathing as the younger man slept on the floor. Chuckling, Fox and Walter pulled him to his feet and helped him over to the bed near the door. Fox grinned. "Don't fall over on us now, Krycek. Just a few more steps."

Alex glanced at him in sleepy confusion. "Do we have to work now? If Samantha was supposed to do more today I'll do it."

"Just get on the bed and go to sleep, you bastard," Walter muttered with a large smile on his face. Alex nodded, in a complete daze, and slowly laid back on the bed, closing his eyes immediately.

He opened them halfway and glanced at the two blurry forms in front of him, motioning towards the ground. "Am I taking up too much room on the bed? Do you want me to take the floor?"

Fox sighed mockingly and leaned towards him. "Lesson number one, Alex." His apprentice mouthed 'thank you' to them both before falling asleep.

"You know, he really makes me feel bad," Walter admitted.

Fox nodded. "Me too. He gets me feeling guilty about everything from the lack of work I do compared to him to where he sleeps."

"He needs to start thinking about himself for a change. You know, he's a young boy who is in love and so he needs to-"

Fox cut him off, his eyes wide. "In love!? Krycek!?"

Walter glanced at him with surprise at his ignorance before saying, "Please tell me you know that Alex is madly in love with your sister."

"Samantha!?" Fox took in a deep breath. "He told you that? When?"

"Relax, Fox, he hasn't told me anything, but I think it's pretty obvious. Well, if not love, he's interested at least." Walter beamed at him. "Upset that your apprentice may be getting together with your baby sister?"

Fox rubbed his temple, still puzzled. "W-wait, how do you know that he is interested in her?"

Walter laughed good-naturedly. "Look, Fox, I realize this is shocking but the evidence is there. He was going to go up to her chamber that first night he was in the palace, and she obviously liked him back then, too. You know she doesn't ask just anyone that she doesn't know to dance at a Serenian Ball." Seeing Fox's pout, he smiled. "Jealous?"

"Of Krycek and Samantha!? Are you kidding me? I'm very happy for them."

"Really?" Walter eyed him dubiously.

Suddenly suspicious, Fox frowned. "Hey, Krycek is cute, but I'm not one of those homosexual men, all right? If you are, Skinner, then I tremendously pity you."

"That wasn't what I meant, Fox," Walter chuckled, "although that answer was rather entertaining. No, what I meant was, do you want a maiden to love? Are you jealous that Alex may have found someone?"

Fox looked at him with a boyish gleam in his eye. "Are you, Skinner?" The older man turned away from him and did something that was a rarity at most for him. He turned a bright shade of red.

That night, or, rather, morning at about one o'clock the meeting was held in the room of Samantha Mulder. The moonlight flowed through the balcony window as a cool breeze whooshed through the room and made the white silk curtains look like ghostly figures.

The lights in the room were completely turned off except for a small lantern that was set in the middle of the small circle the group had formed. It made eerie shadows form on the walls, but no one in the room paid these images any mind. They all knew that demons approaching from the shadows of a room was just a myth that they had believed as children.

Samantha sat up in her bed, her cheeks flushed from her fever. Her wavy brown hair rolled over her shoulders that were covered by her white nightgown like waves in the ocean, her brown eyes, glazed over, shined in the light of the moon. Samantha's face, pale, made her red lips stand out so that she looked almost like a porcelain doll that a child might wish for on her birthday.

On the large bed next to her sat Sir John Byers, Fox's first knight. Instead of his normal guard uniform which boasted the emblem of the Serenian kingdom he was wearing a worn down blue shirt and blue jeans. His red hair was matted against his forehead with rain from when he had had to go down to the coal minds to fetch some more coal for the castle's furnace.

Beside him was Gloria Florence and Lady Alexis. The fortune teller was dressed in a simple red dress while Gloria was wearing a black silk shirt and blue jeans. Both of them looked at Samantha's flushed form before looking away, not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable.

By the bed, on the carpeted floor, sat Langly and Frohike. Langly was lying on his stomach with his right hand cradling his chin. Frohike was wearing his usual burgundy robe and was leaning his head against Samantha's glass night stand. Across from them, on leather chairs, sat Dana and William. The two were doing their best to stay awake and were leaning against their hands for head support.

Fox, Walter, and Alex were seated against Samantha's bed. The King glanced at his apprentice who looked back at him blankly. Without exchanging any words, they turned to Skinner who had walked over to the balcony window and was looking out of it. Finally, he murmured, "The light has been turned off. We are free to converse but, as always, it must be done in soft tones."

Glancing at everyone, Fox nodded. "It is obvious that the Relsinians are beginning to become harsher towards us. We must think of something soon. Does anyone have any suggestions?"

"What do you mean harsher?" William questioned. "Have they grown more violent?"

Silently, Fox glared at him before muttering, "My advisor and apprentice were whipped today because they refused to say that the King of Relsin was the best king they had ever served."

Dana's eyes widened as she looked from Alex to Walter with concern. "Are you both all right?"

Walter nodded. "We are fine, Dana. It wasn't that bad. Right, Alex?"

Fox looked at him only to find the younger man leaning his head against his shoulder in quiet slumber. Chuckling to himself, he shrugged his shoulder and, instantly, the younger man's head popped up with surprise. "Hey, I can not afford to have you drool on this outfit," He teased as Alex got his bearings.

Mortified, Alex rubbed his eyes. "Sorry, Sir." <This is so embarrassing. All right, Alex, stay up. Now is not the time to sleep.>

Watching the three men, Samantha shook her head, coughed, and said, "I've got to go back to work. All of you are exhausted and its obvious you could use me to take care of some of the stuff you have to do."

"Samantha," Fox argued, "you know you aren't well enough to work. Right now you just need to rest and get better. Then you can come back out with us again."

"You guys all need to rest and get better, also. I've been in this bed for nearly two weeks, and I've gotten plenty of sleep. You all need to do the same," Samantha told them stubbornly. She glanced at Alex. "Especially you."

Dana nodded. "This is something to be addressed." She turned to Samantha. "You need to stay in bed, Samantha, but I do agree that Alex needs to be eased up on. I will be willing to take half of Samantha's workload if someone will take the other half."

Alex shook his head. "Really, this isn't necessary. I'm doing perfectly fine with both workloads."

"I don't think you understood me." Dana gave him a stern look that made even Walter back away from her. "Alex, I didn't ask for your opinion on this issue; I'm telling you that you're not fine. Got it?" Looking away from him, she gazed around the room. "Ok, so I have one half of Samantha's workload. Who wouldn't mind taking the other half?" Alex merely watched her, amazed by what had just happened.

For a moment the room was silent until Gloria murmured, "Fine, I'll take the second half. My workload isn't too bad now. The worst part is putting up with all those sex-crazy guards who taunt me like I am some animal."

Seeing that Alex's mouth was still open in shock, Walter smirked. "Let it go, Alex." He turned his eyes to Fox and grinned. "You should make rule number four: never try to get in an argument with Dana Katherine Scully." Hearing this, Fox chuckled in amusement.

"Back to coming up with a plan," she said, apparently not hearing the two men. "So far, the only thing we have been able to come up with is trying to destroy them from the inside by getting one of the top guards on our side. Any idea who would be a good choice?"

Frohike frowned. "Who would stray from their kingdom? Most men would rather die."

"They're all a bunch of worthless assholes," William mumbled. "This plan will not work because all of them either are too prideful of their kingdom or too stupid to know what the word _treason_ means!"

Gloria nodded. "I had thought of one guard, but he quickly was disregarded by me as a likely candidate."

"Who was it?" Byers questioned.

"Jeffery Spender, but, as you know, he is the prince of Relsin." Gloria sighed. "I know there was no point in even saying that name, but he's the only one who's shown compassion towards us."

Alex nodded, remembering when Samantha had been very ill. They had both been working in the exact same area when, all of a sudden, Samantha had just collapsed and began coughing on the floor. The guards, angry with her, began kicking at her and, not knowing what else to do, he had thrown his body over her as a protective shield to her wounded body.

They had not been pleased by this, and Alex had been sure that they were going to kill him and her, when Jeff had come into the room and had demanded to know what was going on. The guards told him that he and Samantha were refusing to work. Jeff had walked over to Alex and harshly asked why he wasn't working. Meekly, he had responded, "We were working, but she collapsed and they started beating her. She's the Princess of Serenia; I had to protect her."

Nodding in thought, Jeff had grabbed Alex's hand and pulled him to his feet before reaching for Samantha's hand. When he felt her warm forehead, he had gasped and screamed at the guards for hurting an ill woman who had been part of the royal family. Leaving Alex alone there, he had gone to his father to request that Samantha be allowed to rest as long as someone else took her workload. He had agreed, and so it had been for two weeks.

Langly turned to Lady Alexis inquisitively. "Have your visions told you anything about events to come?"

"I have not been able to read anyone's dreams using hypnotism because of Samantha's compromised state," she told him. "However, I have examined my own visions and have tried to make sense of them, although I cannot predict how accurate they are."

"Please, tell us what you've seen," Fox implored.

Lady Alexis glanced at him momentarily before shaking her head. "I don't think that would be such a good idea, Sire. There are horrible things in my mind...things that might damper our hopes of freedom." She hated to be the one to make everyone lose hope in different situations but she knew her visions were usually, if not always, right. Lady Alexis did not know why she had them...she just did, and she decided to take advantage of her talents.

Walter nodded, his eyes dropping to the floor. That didn't sound good at all, and he didn't know why he had expected the news to be any better. The work was just so hard, and he yearned for those days when he would take care of legal matters for the royal family and talk to Fox if ever the King was bored. He cleared his throat. "Well, then, I guess we must continue our work and hope for a miracle."

"Do not lose faith, Skinner," Fox said. "As Lady Alexis has said, her predictions may not be right." Then again, when had she ever been wrong? <Never.>

Byers glanced around before shrugging. "Is there any possibility that the Prince of Relsin would hear our pleas?" He knew it was a long shot, but anything would be worth a try.

"Are you insane, Byers? If we alert the Prince of Relsin to our ideas and he does not agree to joining us then he will alert his father and we will all be killed!" Frohike exclaimed. <How could Byers be so naive?>

"I don't know, Frohike," Gloria voiced. "Talking to the Prince may be our only way to get out of here."

William frowned. "It is far too risky. I agree with Frohike. If we talk to the Prince of Relsin we could very well be killed."

"Yes, but what other options to we have?" Fox turned to William. "This seems to be the only way to escape this. Our troops are weak and have less food than us. The weapons that we had stored have been hidden, so, even if we could launch an attack, we would be short-handed and easily defeated."

"Do you have no faith in our troops!?" William scowled. "They are willing to fight, and there are swords down in the training camps about a mile from the castle towards the gates to the kingdom. If someone could get to them-"

Fox shook his head. "You expect us to fight a powerful enemy that have an array of battle weapons including guns? Even if we could get to the extra swords we do not have guns. As I have said, we would easily be conquered." Glaring at him, William let out a deep sigh of resignation.

Samantha shrugged. "Maybe he is right, Fox. We need to try something, and now is the best time to attack. Perhaps some of the troops on the outside will be able to get to the swords." She swallowed and coughed a few times before leaning back against her pillow.

"It's a foolish idea," Walter remarked. "They have the upper hand. We need to find a time when they will be vulnerable to we can attack. Right now there are Relsinian troops all over this castle."

"I agree," Dana said. "We have to find a weakness, and the best way to do that is to get to someone on the inside, unless someone wants to sneak past about 30 guards up to the King of Relsin's room and steal a dozen outlines of the Relsinian army's positions at any given time."

"It just may come to that. Who knows?" Alex muttered. As Dana looked at him icily he blinked innocently and tried to move closer to Fox for protection.

The older man snickered as he did this before shrugging. "Whatever works. Now, where is everyone going to be stationed tomorrow? I'm going to be in most of the day bringing coal to the furnace and probably cleaning the throne room." Fox sighed, realizing that a month ago he would have never been cleaning anything or handling coal.

"Throne room duty again," Walter muttered. "Since we didn't do it today we'll have to do it tomorrow."

"Ditto," Alex said.

Dana glanced at him. "What about Samantha's workload?"

Alex shrugged. "I can do it."

"We've been through this," Gloria murmured, irked by his noble attitude.

"Fine." Alex sighed. "Hallway duty. I was supposed to do the one leading from the stairs to the dining hall."

"They expected you to do that by yourself!?" William exclaimed. "That hallway is long! If you think about it that hallway probably equals the size of the ballroom!"

Dana nodded. "Ok, Gloria, I'll meet you there after Langly, Frohicke, my brother, and I finish the rest of the ballroom."

Alex opened his mouth to protest again but Fox put his left hand over it leaned closer to him before he could do so. "Let it go," he whispered. "You lost this argument a long time ago. Actually, I think she had you from the start." As Walter chuckled Fox put his hand back at his side leaving Alex to stare at him wide-eyed.

William walked over to the window and looked through the curtains before turning back to the others. "No activity; just a few guards on night watch."

Byers nodded and walked over to the door putting his head against it so that he could listen for noise coming from the hallway. "Nothing. We should go now before some of the guards do a hall check."

"Good idea." As Byers opened the door Fox walked over to his sister and kissed her hand. "Rest well, Sam." She nodded and watched as he left the room followed by Dana, Gloria, and Alexis.

Walter took Samantha's hand and kissed it as her brother had. "Good night, Samantha." As he left she pushed her hair away from her face and watched as Byers, Langly, and Frohike exited as well. William smiled and nodded at her before leaving the room.

Alex took her hand next and kissed it lingering for a moment before saying, "Sleep well, Samantha."

He turned to leave and had almost reached the door when he heard Samantha whisper, "Dana and Gloria were right to take my workload from you." As Alex faced her she grinned. "Take care of yourself." Alex sighed and nodded before leaving the room and closing the door behind him. Samantha watched him vacate before turning towards her window and closing her eyes as the pale moonlight hit her face.

The next morning rain fell from the sky and thunder rang through the Serenian kingdom. Fox, Walter, and Alex were already hard at work cleaning the throne room as the King of Relsin watched them with amusement. He smiled and stood, walking across the room to where Fox was scrubbing the floors. "Come on, Your Majesty," he taunted. "You can do better than that. Faster!" Fox cursed silently and forced his arms to move as quickly as they could which, in his wearied state, wasn't very fast.

Walter watched the King of Relsin return to the throne which rightfully belonged to Fox with disdain. He hoped that he would live to see the day when his people would kill the SOB. That would make all his pain worthwhile. Rubbing his brow, Walter looked at Alex and watched as the younger man glanced back at him, lifted his middle finger towards the King of Relsin, and went back to work. <Well, at least he's not as reserved as he used to be> Walter thought with a grin.

At that moment the door to the room opened and a woman with flowing blond hair entered the room in a well-tailored silk green dress. She looked at Fox and Walter for a moment before staring directly at Alex. Fox narrowed his eyes at her curiously before looking at Alex only to see that his apprentice hadn't noticed this sudden attention.

The woman walked up to the King of Relsin and whispered something in his ear. He smiled, nodded, and stood. Walking over to Alex, he put a cold hand on the younger man's shoulder. Startled, Alex gazed up at him quickly and made sure he wasn't holding a whip or anything else. Seeing that he wasn't, Alex muttered quietly, "Do you wish something of me?"

"This woman has another job for you, Alex. You are needed outside because the work force down at the mines are short a person," the King of Relsin explained.

Fox glared at him. "Why the hell does Alex need to go? There are plenty of other people in this castle that have less to do than him."

The King of Relsin shrugged and pulled a cigarette our of his pocket, lighting it and taking a long puff before responding, "It isn't my call. Go, Alex."

Alex shrugged, stood, and walked over to the blond-haired woman who looked him up and down. She smiled. "Please follow me." Walter and Fox watched as the two exited the room and walked out into the freezing rain.

Caught off guard by the cold, Alex shuddered violently before looking around. His eyes blurred because of the rain and he barely made out the woman saying, "It's not that far from here. Follow me, Sir Krycek."

They walked silently through the downpour and looked around at the people in rags dragging carts of wood or coal through the streets. The woman stopped suddenly and turned to Alex. "In case you want to know, my name is Delsia. I'm a friend of Marita's."

<Yeah, and that will really make me like you> Alex thought to himself. "You seem to know that I'm Alex Krycek already. Now, where's this mining thing I have to do?"

Looking around, Delsia pointed down the street they were walking on. "Just a little further. Come on." The two continued walking through the dark streets as the rain pricked their skin like needles. A few children whose hair was dirty and matted against their heads watched them and pointed towards the woman. From behind them their mothers came and snatched them up into their arms before turning away and hoping the two weren't there to discipline them.

Soon, Alex made out a large group of people standing out in the rain and loading large amounts of coal into smaller carts. Delsia pushed her wet hair out of her face before turning again to Alex. "They put the coal into carts and carry them back to the castle, and that's what you will be doing. Got it?"

"Whatever," Alex muttered. He glanced around the group of people and saw Byers motioning to him. Walking to him, he grinned faintly. "Well, here I am."

Byers nodded. "Yes, well, I'll show you around today. Sorry they had to bring you in. A lot of the men got sick and we needed another worker."

Alex shrugged. "I'm your man, then. Delsia told me what to do. Put the coal in carts and pull them back to the castle." He shivered again and put a hand through his damp hair before looking towards the large pile of coal in the middle of the large group of people.

"This should be fun," he muttered under his breath before finding an empty cart and beginning to load the coal.

Alex had just started working when he heard a familiar voice say, "I thought that was you."

Turning around, Alex found himself facing Sean Jacobson, his best friend before he had become Fox's apprentice. He smiled at Sean, his eyes sparkling. "I can't believe it, Sean! Believe me, I never thought I would see you again!"

Instead of returning the friendliness, Sean glared at him. "I never did either, since you're in the castle away from us lowlifes."

"What are you talking about?" Alex asked with a frown. <What is wrong with Sean? Why does he seem so upset?>

Sean snarled. "How do you think it feels for all of us to be out here every single day while you lounge around in the heat of the castle with our supposed King!? I bet you have forgotten all about us!"

Alex's eyes widened at his tone of voice. <Is he serious!?> "I never forgot you guys! Never!" Completely shocked by Sean's attitude, Alex was unprepared for the fist that slammed against his jaw. Falling to the ground, he looked up at the older man and winced. "Sean...what are you-"

"You don't know what it's like to be out here in the cold and watch everyone you love die!" Sean shouted, kicking him mercilessly until he curled up on the ground. "My family all died of some disease because the guards wouldn't let them rest!"

<The Jacobsons are dead!? Oh my gosh...> Alex put his arms around his chest and brought his legs up to protect his ribs. There was no way he would fight Sean. Alex knew that he would die first. "I'm sorry, Sean."

"Why!? You don't know how much we've been through!" Sean growled. "Look at your family! Your father is dead and you didn't even know!"

Caught off guard by this, Alex gazed up at him in horror. "Dad...he's dead?" <This is all a dream. He's not dead. Sean is kidding. This is all a huge joke...that's it...a huge joke.> Looking at Sean's hard expression, however, he knew this was no prank. "How?" he asked quietly.

Sean glared at him. "He died because the guards kept beating him after he stopped them from raping your mother. Do you know what he was saying when the guards finally stopped hitting him and left him to bleed to death? He was calling for you. Your father wanted to see you but you weren't there. I bet you don't even care, do you?" He kicked Alex one more time before looking away and going back to his work.

Alex refused to move from his spot. Instead, he felt tears sting his eyes as he pictured his father calling him as he let out his final breath. Taking in a shaky breath, he stood and looked at all the coal in front of him. <Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...> As slow tears began to fall from his eyes he forced himself to begin picking up the coal and putting it into the cart he had in front of him.

Images of his father came back to him like ghosts as he remembered the time when the Jespin guards had killed his sister and raped his mother. Again, he had been worthless. First, he hadn't been able to save his sister, and now he hadn't saved his father. Taking in another shaky breath he wiped his eyes on his sleeve before picking up more coal and dumping it into the steel cart. Alex looked to where Sean was working and did his best not to attack him and force him to say that his father wasn't dead. It must be a joke. It had to be a joke.

At that moment a soft hand fell on his shoulder and before he could turn around he heard a gentle voice whisper, "Why are you crying, Alex?"

Recognizing the voice right away, Alex did not allow himself to look at his mother. Instead, he lowered his eyes in shame. "I'm not." It sounded pathetic, he knew, but it was the only thing he could think to say.

Mrs. Krycek moved in front of him and lifted his face with her finger. She looked into his sorrowful green eyes before pulling him against her. As Alex looked her over he noted quickly how skinny she looked compared to when he had seen her last. In addition to this, there was a horrible-looking scar under her left eye.

Gazing at her comforting expression, Alex tried to stay strong, failed, and rested his head on top of hers, tears continuing to flow. She rubbed his back before kissing his cheek gently. "Why are you crying?" She inquired again, feeling the warm droplets on her cold skin.

Alex gazed at her again before lowering his eyes as he had before. "Sean told me what happened to Dad. H-he said that he was beaten to death."

"He was," Mrs. Krycek said softly. She frowned and shook her head. "Your father died to protect me. I'll never forgive myself for my weakness."

"Sean said he was calling for me but I wasn't there," Alex said quietly. "Is that true?"

Mrs. Krycek nodded slowly. "Your father loved you," she told him shakily, "and he was very proud to have you as a son. Before his death you should have heard him speak of you. 'My son is the apprentice of the King' he would say with pride. You made him very happy, Alex. He did call for you, and he said for me to tell you that he loved you."

Another tear fell from his eye. "I loved him, too, and I didn't even get to say goodbye to him before I went into the castle."

His mother was about to comfort him further when a guard approached them, an angry expression on his bold features. "Hey, this is a coal carting area, not a place to reminisce!" He pulled out his whip and snapped it in front of the two. "Get to work!"

Before the guard could strike either person a voice stopped him. "Leave them alone!" Alex looked to see that this person was Delsia. "She's his mother and I have allowed this. In fact, I must take them to another sector."

"I haven't heard of this arrangement," the guard said suspiciously.

Delsia frowned. "Yes, well, that's why I am in charge of this operation and you aren't." She motioned towards Alex and Mrs. Krycek. "Let's go." Mrs. Krycek motioned to Sean and Byers, and the two men followed her leaving the perplexed guard to turn, still confused, back to the other workers.

"By the gods, this is boring!" Frohike exclaimed. He threw the sponge that he had been using to wash the floor of the ballroom to the ground and stood, stretching his arms wearily.

William shrugged. "Well, if you want to do something else go tell the guards you want to work in the freezing rain. That would be more exciting."

Frohike snarled at him before turning to Langly. "Even you must know that there is not point to this work."

"I'm just glad that I'm not doing something else more uncomfortable," Langly told him. "This job is pretty easy, especially with four people."

Dana nodded. "Yeah, Frohike. Be glad that you aren't doing anything else besides this. We were very lucky to get work that is this easy." <I'm glad that I'm not outside freezing to death in the rain. If he wants to, well, what can I say?>

She had just completed this thought when the door opened and a group of soldiers led by Marita entered the room. Marita, in her deep blue dress, surveyed the room and sighed. "You four are still not done? Pitiful. Well, I've brought some friends to help speed up your pace."

"I don't think that will be necessary," William growled at her. He hated Marita as much as the next person. <I despise her even more than Fox which is really something.>

Looking him over, Marita walked to his side and put a hand on his shoulder. "Really, Sir Scully, that was not a very gentlemanly thing to say."

William glared at her with spite. "I save my kindness for those who deserve it."

Nodding with a sly grin on her face, Marita smirked. "You seem to be forgetting a very important thing, Sir Scully."

"What is that?" He snarled.

"Well, I am the King's daughter which means that I have the power to do whatever I want to you and no one will stop me." With that, she dug her long fingernails into his shoulder making him hiss and push her away with his other hand. As she regained her balance he inspected the bleeding wound.

Dana watched what happened to her older brother and was about to go to help him out when a powerful force drove her to the ground. Before she could even recover she found a hideous male guard on top of her doing everything he could to unbutton her blouse. He had only unfastened one button when she used all of her power to push him off with her arms and legs.

As this guard fell back on the ground another grabbed her and pushed her next to him. He kicked her once before jumping on top of her to do what the other man had been trying to. Dana wrestled painfully against him before gasping as he twisted her breast. She slapped at his hands and dug her nails into his arms but it seemed to do no good. Kicking at him with all her might, she scratched his face and drew blood from his cheek. This action made him angry and before she could move away he scratched the area just above her chest.

Searing pain went through her body as she continued to scratch him. Soon, his whole face was a bloody mess and he snarled at her, finally jumping off of her bleeding form. Inspecting herself, she found that there was a small cut just above her left breast and red marks along her chest. The rest of the guards just watched her with amusement.

Marita straightened herself and moved back towards the door of the room. Shrugging, she glanced back at the four with disdain. "You have not been good to us." Marita turned towards the guards. "Kill one of them."

The guard who had first attacked Dana pulled out his gun and looked at the four before shooting. A horrible yell was heard followed by the sickening 'thud' of a body hitting the ground. Marita laughed with content and left the room with the guards following her.

Dana looked at the other two before running across the room to the fallen man and putting her finger on the pulse point of his neck. She shook her head with contempt and sadness. "He's dead."

William, who had been standing by her side, looked down at the body and shook his head. "What a waste. Why did this have to happen? That bitch!"

"We will miss you, Langly," Frohike told the body of his best friend quietly as a small tear trickled down his cheek. "I promise you that we will prevail and Marita Covarrubies will be killed for what she has done to you."

Byers looked around the small shack where Delsia had taken them. The room was heated with wooden floors. A few loaves of bread sat on a small wooden table and the room was lit by only a few candles. Delsia smiled. "In order to get heat I had to give up light. Candles work well enough. Yes, I know I should have just gotten a fireplace, but there is a lot of rain in Serenia, and I was afraid that all the firewood would soak so that I could not light a fire." She motioned towards the bread. "Eat. I know it must have been awhile since you four have eaten more than a small piece of bread."

After eating some of the bread that had been on the table Alex sat back on the wooden rocking chair near the room's door and closed his eyes for a moment before looking through the window at the people working in the rain that had grown steadily harder. He shivered again as the warmth of the room touched his cold body before asking, "Why have you brought us here, Delsia, if you are a Relsinian? Your people show us no kindness."

"I am not a true Relsinian," Delsia informed him. "Truly, I was a gypsy until I found my way into the kingdom. The king was pleased with my fortune telling abilities and overall magic, so my fellow gypsies and I were allowed to stay. Soon, we rose in the kingdom and now we have power, but I owe nothing to the King. He is a spiteful old man who deserves nothing but death. I cannot agree with what he is doing, Alex."

Mrs. Krycek looked her over. The gypsy's brown hair seemed even darker in the dimly lit room, and her face glowed in the heat of it. "You are not the only gypsy still living with Relsin?"

Delsia shook her head. "No, although some of us have been killed by the King if he was not happy with their skills. That is why my allegiances do not fall with him. A few of us remain; very few." She glanced across the room at Sean who was looking out the window at the workers with his hands linked behind his back. "It has been horrible for you in Serenia. All I can do is apologize for the King. He is a fool, and not even his son agrees with his methods."

Byers nodded. "Jeff does seem to feel bad about what he does."

"He will harm as his father harms, but he does not enjoy it," Delsia elaborated. "The King's daughter, however, is an evil whore who will do as she pleases. She enjoys harming others. You must watch out for her."

"We do our best," Alex voiced, "but if she is around then there is nothing we can do, right?"

Sighing, Delsia nodded. "I suppose not."

Sean, who had begun to listen to the conversation, glared at Alex. "How would you know the pain that Marita has brought on others? It is not like you have a hard time in there."

"Sean," Mrs. Krycek warned.

Alex rubbed the bridge of his nose and shivered again before unbuttoning his shirt and slipping it off. Sean watched as he turned around and exposed the bruises and scars covering his whole back. As he gasped, Mrs. Krycek ran to Alex and threw her arms around him. "Why have they done this to you...to your beautiful body? Alex, why has this happened?"

"I would not give in to the King," Alex told her, his eyes filling with tears as he remembered all that had happened. He pondered what to tell her as she wept on his shoulder before whispering, "I would not give up faith. My beliefs in my King; my family and friends; my kingdom could not be shaken. That is why I, along with many others, look like this." Suddenly self-conscious, he pulled his shirt over his shoulders and did his best to pull away from his mother who was looking up at him with horrified eyes. The look on her face was nearly unbearable as her tears glimmered in the candlelight.

"No," Sean protested harshly. "Take it off again." Alex looked at him, his eyes large, before tugging his wet shirt off again. His skin pricked in the warmth of the room making him shudder violently before looking back at Sean.

The other man had removed his shirt as well, making it apparent to Alex how many scars and bruises he had on his body, and walked towards him. Sean circled him a few times before taking a moment to press on one of the large bruises just under Alex's rib. He clenched his teeth in pain before trying to move away but Sean would not let him. Instead, he continued examining Alex's body and pushed down on another bruise, this one on his right shoulder. Alex squeezed his eyes shut as he felt another bruise be touched and then another; this one so painful that he was unable to stop a small whimper from escaping his lips.

Sean moved back in front of him and shook his head before extending his hand. "I'm sorry for going at you like that. You have to understand the rumors around here, though. It seems like everything is great for you guys while we are out here dying." Alex took his hand and shook it before feeling his best friend embrace him. At first it felt awkward, but slowly the memories of how close they had been before came back to him, and it seemed like only yesterday they had been hanging out together in the streets of Serenia trying to get a job.

Delsia watched them before turning to Byers. "I know that you are trying to find a way of fighting for your freedom. We could help you."

"We?" Byers implored with intrigue.

"Fellow gypsies and myself. We can help you, Sir Byers."

Alex looked up and grinned. "Well, we'll have to talk with the others, but it should work. Maybe we'll finally get out of this hell!"

"Langly is dead," William told everyone that night. "Some guards that were with Marita shot him this afternoon."

"Damn," Walter breathed. "Poor bastard. He was one of the ones who always kept his faith in the kingdom."

Fox sighed. "Well, is he going to be buried? Please say the King of Relsin has allowed this much."

Frohike shook his head mournfully. "No. As far as I know they dumped his body behind the castle along with others that have died so that they can be eaten by the birds and rats."

Gloria shuddered at the thought of Langly's body with rats crawling all over it before burying her head in her hands. "This wasn't supposed to happen. We were all supposed to get out of this alive."

Byers nodded before looking at the others. "Langly would want us to go on, which is what we should do. Alex and I met with a woman today; Delsia. She is a gypsy who is part of the Relsinian Kingdom and she has offered to help us."

"Offered!?" Fox exclaimed. "No one offers to betray their kingdom."

Samantha inclined her head in agreement. "He's right, Byers. This woman was probably a liar trying to trap you so that she could turn you in to the King."

"She sounded sincere," Alex argued. "I think she was telling the truth."

"You think," Dana said, "and yet you don't know. We need to be careful with this, Alex. It is very plausible that she is a spy for the King, and if she finds out about us we will all be killed."

The meeting went on for another hour uneventfully. The others were still skeptical about Delsia and her proposition, and neither Alex nor Byers could persuade them otherwise. As they were returning to their chambers Walter felt a hand tug on his arm. He was pulled into a chamber he had never been in before and found himself with three women. One of them, a brunette in a forest green dress, eyed him before saying, "Walter Skinner, I presume."

"Who are you?" Walter questioned.

Another woman, this one a blond in a short black dress, touched his chest lightly. "I am Celestria, and she is Delsia." He took note of the fact that she did not address the third woman before hearing her murmur, "You have no reason to fear us for we are trying to help you."

Walter frowned at them. "What do you want from me," He inquired icily, "and who is that woman on the bed?"

Chuckling, the woman on the bed stood and walked towards him, her red flowing dress waving around her slender legs. This woman, an Asian with black hair and large chestnut eyes, smiled at him. "I am Ariel, Sir Skinner. We are three of a surviving group of gypsies that were taken in by the Relsinians."

Seeing his skeptical expression, Delsia grinned. "I know you do not believe us, Sir Skinner, as you did not believe when Sir Byers and Sir Krycek told you about us, but we must get you to trust us; trust our kind." She handed him a small white card bordered with gold.

Celestria looked at him with her large blue eyes before saying, "You will learn what you need to tomorrow. Tell no one of us or we will not meet you and you will go on forever as a Relsinian slave."

"You expect me not to talk to my King about this when you are offering to help us out of this oppression?" Skinner questioned dubiously.

Ariel nodded. "Make up what you must to keep this quiet. You thought the danger was without the castle walls and not within, but you were mistaken. One of yours was killed today," she told him softly, though she knew he had been informed of this earlier. "I know for a fact that you were not close to Sir Langly, God rest his soul, but the next person who is killed may be closer to you. Maybe it will be Dana or William Scully, or perhaps Sir Krycek or Gloria Florence. Perhaps it will even be your King and, who knows, it might even be you." With that, Delsia opened the door and let him out. Walter stood there for a moment and looked at the large door before hurrying to his chamber before the guards caught him.

Reaching the room he found that Fox and Alex were already inside and pulling their shirts off. Walter quickly stuffed the note from the gypsies in his pants pocket and took off his shirt before hearing Fox ask, "What took you so long reaching here, Skinner?"

"I thought I heard movement downstairs and I wanted to make sure it was safe to come over here," Walter lied. <Keeping this a secret is going to be hard...>

Fox nodded before glancing at Alex who was looking at the vent and shivering. As if he felt the King's gaze, he turned and smiled faintly. "Is it cold in here or am I still feeling the after effects of going out in that storm today?"

Walking over to him, Fox felt his freezing hand before sighing. "It's just you, Krycek. Are you feeling all right? There are goose bumps all over your arms."

Looking at them, Alex nodded. "I feel fine; I'm just a bit cold. That's all." He rubbed his arms before sitting down on the floor where he had been sleeping for the past month since the bed was a very tight squeeze with all of them in it.

Shaking his head, Fox motioned for him to come over to the bed. "You really are cold. We can manage for one night in the same bed, unless you mind, Skinner." The older man shook his head and literally fell on top of the mattress with weariness. Fox followed suit, and Alex joined them. The three did their best to squeeze onto the bed before pulling the covers over their bare shoulders. Murmuring their goodnights, they all closed their eyes and were soon fast asleep.

The next morning, bright and early, Mrs. Mulder was walking through the lower hallways of the castle and entered the throne room where she found the King of Relsin on the throne that rightfully belonged to Fox before clearing her throat. "You forced him to watch his apprentice and advisor be beaten and then you kill off a friend of his. I remember your words, and you promised that he would not be harmed."

"I have kept him safe," the King of Relsin said, lighting a cigarette and taking a drag off it. "He has not been physically harmed."

Mrs. Mulder's face reddened in anger and she glared at him. "There is more than just one kind of pain. Emotional pain can hurt more than physical pain. I trusted you to keep him safe from these things."

The smoking man took another puff of his cigarette and smiled. "My daughter acts on her own. I did not have a say in killing Sir Langly. She is spontaneous in that way." He looked at her flippantly and inquired, "This is not why you came to me, though, is it, Tina?"

She grinned weakly at him and closed the door behind her, locking it so that she and the King of Relsin could be alone. Quietly, she murmured, "My husband never found out, and neither shall Fox."

"I will do all in my power to see that he doesn't," the King of Relsin told her, and after that there was no more conversing between them.

That night after everyone else had gone up to the meeting in Samantha's room, Walter remained and crept out to the courtyard as the note had said for him to do. There, as the breeze flew past him, he saw the three women, all in black silk dresses, coming towards him.

Ariel touched his shoulder and grinned. "Thank you for coming, Sir Skinner."

"Sir Byers and Sir Krycek have already told you the truth about us," Celestria told him. "We are gypsies who have been taken into the Relsinian Kingdom because of our magic."

Walter frowned. "What kinds of magic do you do? You wear all black, so I suppose you are demon worshippers."

At this, the three women laughed hysterically nearing the point of tears. Getting a hold of herself, Delsia wrapped her arms around him and embraced him lightly. "What an innocent thing to say, Sir Skinner; that we, a mere three, worship a being more evil than Relsin's King."

Ariel smiled. "I suppose one might think we worship Satan, but we do not. Our power comes from nature...it purifies us."

"We can heal the dying," Celestria whispered as a wind blew through the courtyard lifting her hair from her shoulders. "Our kind raise the spirits of the weak and make them strong again."

"We are loyal and enjoy risking all, which is what we are doing for you, Sir Skinner, so I hope that you are grateful," Delsia said.

"If I have no reason to fear you then why must I keep this meeting silent?" Walter questioned, slightly irked by the fact that they spoke of things that he could not understand.

Celestria stepped closer to him. "The walls have ears, and the King will hear of this. Then, we will all be dead before any good can be done, and your people will continue in slavery forever."

"Why come to me?"

"When the time has come the others will listen to you and believe what you say," Ariel explained. "We have learned that the others do not trust what the apprentice says. While he is smart, they see him as naive. The first night is a guard, who they feel confuses everything. The message can not be brought out by these people."

Walter was about to ask more when, suddenly, the four heard footsteps coming from the back end of the courtyard. Delsia turned to him. "Meet us tomorrow night, Sir Skinner." With that, they took off towards the castle. Walter quickly followed them and ran up to his chamber. Entering, he found that Fox and Alex had returned already from Samantha's room.

Fox looked at his advisor with stern eyes. "Why were you not at the meeting tonight, Skinner?"

"There was work to be done, Fox," Walter explained. "I did not want to be the reason for our secret getting out."

Alex coughed a few times before asking, "Is there more to be done? I can help you with it if you want me to."

Walter shook his head. "No, it's ok. Thank you, though."

As Alex coughed again, Fox looked at him. "You've been doing that all day. Are you sure you feel all right?"

"I told you earlier, Sir, that I was just really thirsty today. No big deal," Alex explained.

Fox nodded and glanced at Walter. "I expect to see you at the meeting tomorrow, Skinner. Do you understand?"

Walter nodded. "Yes, Fox."

The next night, however, he wasn't there, and Fox repeatedly looked out of the door for him. Finally, Byers just shrugged. "He's not coming, Sire."

"Where could he be?" Fox pondered. "There isn't any work done at this time of night."

Dana thought about this. "Maybe the King of Relsin has him working on something outside of the castle. They can work until two in the morning sometimes."

William frowned and looked at the King. "Why do you sound so suspicious of him? He's your advisor; it's not like he's telling the King about us or anything."

Fox glared at him. "I wasn't thinking that, William, and how dare you use that tone of voice with me."

"How dare you speak of him as if he is a cheating rat like the ones eating Langly's body right now!"

"William!" Dana hissed with fury and embarrassment

Gloria looked over the group before frowning. "If we keep fighting like this then we will never be able to get free. What we have to do is trust each other, which goes for His Majesty and Sir Scully."

Alex coughed a few times before nodding. "She's right." As everyone gazed at him with concern he narrowed his eyes at them. "What?"

Samantha lowered her eyes to her lap before whispering, "You are becoming ill."

"I am not!" Alex exclaimed, shivering as a small chill went up his spine. "The castle has been colder the last few days, and we haven't been getting as much to drink." <I can't get sick, can I? There is too much to be done...the others need me to help them out. Talk about awful timing.>

Fox shook his head. "My sister is right, Krycek. You were sneezing all this morning."

Alex shrugged. "Perhaps there was dust in the vent."

"I am allergic to dust, Alex," Gloria informed him gently. "If there had been dust in the vent I would have known."

William frowned. "He's not going to be of any use sick. Maybe the King of Relsin will allow him to stay like Samantha has: in a bed all day."

"Hold on a second," Alex protested. "I still feel fine despite what all of you say. I'm well enough to work, so I don't see what all this fuss is about." Samantha just shook her head at his answer and closed her eyes, leaning back against her pillow. Getting the hint, everyone left the room and returned to theirs.

Fox and Alex found Walter in the chamber when they returned. He was already in bed waiting for them to come. He glanced at them. "Work was cut early today so I got to come in before you guys got back. What happened at the meeting?"

"We just determined that Krycek is becoming sick," Fox told him. "Nothing you couldn't figure out on your own."

Alex frowned at him. "I am not getting sick, all right? As I have said, it is thirst and the castle's temperature that have gotten me this way..." His voice trailed off as he took in a shaky breath and sneezed. Gazing up at the others again, he found that Walter was shaking his head at him with worry and Fox was no where to be seen.

He had just turned around when he felt the older man grab him tightly and put a hand on his forehead. Alex tried to fight him for a minute but, weak and tired, he merely fell back against the King and whimpered in objection to his actions.

Fox kept his hand there for a few moments before stepping away and sighing with concern. "It feels like the beginning of a fever, Krycek."

"It can't be," Alex whispered faintly. "We still have to do so much, and if I get sick then someone will be forced to take my workload and everyone else would end up like Samantha so that none of us would get out. I have to keep going, Sir."

"That would be better than you dying because you were taking risks with your health for the sake of someone else's," Walter told him. Alex nodded and sat down on the floor, curling up into a ball to try and keep warm as he usually did.

Fox sighed and tossed his apprentice his pillow and one of the blankets from the bed. As Alex tried to protest, Fox shook his head angrily. "Rule number five: if you dare to oppose me when it comes to things like this I will beat you so hard that you won't be capable of working Got it?"

Alex hastily inclined his head to show that he understood. "Yes, Sir." He pulled the blanket around his shivering form and put his head of the pillow, coughing a few more times before closing his eyes.

Watching him, Fox climbed onto the bed next to Walter and sighed. "Do you think he has what Samantha has?"

"Alex told me that when he went out to the mines it was raining really hard, and then this woman that he talked about, Delsia, brought him to this really warm room, and that was when he first started getting those chills. I'd say this was just a good old fashioned chill or, if he was exposed to all those workers, it could be a case of the flu. He will be fine, though. Samantha actually had a few seizures, didn't she?"

"Yes," Fox told him. "You're right. Krycek hasn't been showing signs of that. It is probably the flu." He leaned against the bedpost and shook his head. "It seems like everything awful happens to everyone but me. I mean, my father dies, my sister was very sick, Langly dies, and now Krycek is becoming ill. Plus, that guard tried to sexually harass Scully!"

Walter shrugged. "I don't know why, Fox, but you have been lucky. Be glad. When our time to fight comes you will be thankful for your strength."

Alex was busy a few days later cleaning the hallway as Fox and Walter weeded around the castle outside. Samantha was taking a turn for the better, and Dana was assured that she would be out of her bed in less than a week. He, however, had been getting worse, and he couldn't deny the fact that he was now truly sick. It wasn't just 'dust in the vent' or 'lack of water' anymore. Now, he truly had the flu and there was nothing he could do to get better since Dana didn't have any medicine with her that he could take.

Rubbing the sweat from his brow that was caused more by his fever than by his working pace, Alex shook his head and tried to clear the cobwebs from his mind before going back to scrubbing the floor. For a moment he saw about four other sponges around his one and, looking around, the room seemed to spin making him dizzy and a little nauseous. Closing his eyes, he was unprepared for the feet that stopped right in front of him, nor was he prepared for the blow that he received to his gut causing him to cough with surprise and pain.

Glancing up, he found himself looking into the face of the King of Relsin who was examining him closely with his son, Jeff, at his side and a group of Relsinian soldiers. The King of Relsin, who had a cigarette in his mouth, blew a puff of smoke at him and rasped, "Tell me that after these hours you have gotten further than this!"

"Sorry," Alex moaned, feeling the tender area where he had been kicked.

The King of Relsin shook his head. "I'm shocked, Alex. After all this time I expected more of you. Son?"

"Yes, Father?"

"Whip him," the King of Relsin ordered.

Jeff stared at him startled for a minute before gazing down at Alex with concern. He closed his eyes and could faintly remember that it was this man who had thrown himself over the Princess and had been willing to take the blows that were meant for her.

Bending down, he looked at Alex's flushed face before putting a hand on his forehead. Standing again, he glanced at his father. "The man is sick, Dad. That's why he hasn't been working so hard."

"It is breaking my heart," the King of Relsin spat. "I told you to whip him. Now, do it."

Alex watched as Jeff pulled out his whip and snapped it by his side once before gazing at him. He gasped as Jeff raised the whip and held it threateningly over his head before bringing it down on top of him. The blow caused his whole left side to burn and he wailed in pain before trying to back away from the source of his agony. His vision was completely clouded now, and he could barely make out Jeff's form above him as another blow crashed onto his shoulder.

Jeff winced in sympathy as he heard the man cry out again. He could easily tell by the roughness of his breathing, the fact that he was warm to the touch, and his shivering that he was very ill, but his father refused to acknowledge this. It was at times like these that Jeff wondered what motives his father really had for harming these defenseless people.

He cracked the whip again, and again he heard the man on the floor scream. About to whip him a fourth time, Jeff was surprised when another form jumped on top of this man's, shielding him against any more attacks. Jeff took in the dark brown wavy hair and the white nightgown, quickly realizing that this was the Princess of Serenia, and she was covering this man's body as he had covered hers when she was in this state.

Alex watched in horror as Samantha ran from her room and covered his body with hers. He felt her warm breath on his face as she held him tightly refusing to let him be injured further. "No, Sam..." was all he could get out as he felt his body ache...and respond to Samantha being on top of him.

She felt his forehead. "I'm sorry I didn't get out of bed sooner, Alex so that I could help you." To his surprise, he found that she was crying, her tears falling onto his warm face.

Jeff watched them before lowering his whip and looking at his father. The King of Relsin growled at him. "Whip her, too."

"She is the Princess of Serenia, Father!" Jeff argued with amazement.

The King of Relsin sighed. "What does that mean to me?" He questioned with disdain. "You heard me. Whip her, and then whip him until he can't stand."

Jeff glanced down at the two Serenians and watched as the Princess wrapped her arms around the fallen man and continued crying on his shoulder. Unable to look at her tears, the man had turned away and was looking at Jeff's feet in order to clear his mind.

Raising his hand that held the whip, Jeff lifted it above his head and turned to his father seeing him smile with delight. Closing his eyes, he lowered the whip again and dropped it to the ground. Before his father could question him, he had run down the stairs and out into the courtyard.

The King of Relsin looked down at Alex and Samantha with disdain before turning to his guards and muttering, "Let's go." They walked away, leaving the two alone on the floor.

Alex looked back at Samantha and wiped her tears away before whispering, "Why did you do that? They would have beaten you to death as they were going to do me."

"You did it for me," Samantha replied. She touched his forehead again before shaking her head. "Alex, you're burning up. You need to get into bed before you pass out."

Gazing into her eyes, Alex nodded. "I know." Samantha glanced at him, slightly surprised that he had given in so easily, before getting off of him and helping him to stand. Slowly, the two walked to his chamber and stepped inside barely making it over to the bed before she could no longer handle his weight and he collapsed on top of it.

She guided him over to a pillow and covered him with the quilt before leaning over him. "Do you want me to stay with you?" She inquired gently.

Alex looked at her, his eyes glazed over, before shaking his head. "It's ok. You don't have to. I'll be fine."

Samantha nodded and bent down over him, kissing his forehead, before moving away towards the door. She had just touched the knob when she heard Alex call to her, "Sam?"


She turned and found him gazing at her pleadingly. "Would you stay?"

Nodding, she moved back over to the bed and climbed over him, nuzzling against his heated form. Alex looked at her with concern. "Sam, I'm sick. You'll...you'll get sick if you stay here."

Answering his question, Samantha pushed herself up so that she was just over his face. "I don't care," she whispered lustfully sending shivers down his spine. With that, she closed the distance between them and kissed him, moving her hands over his warm face and through his hair making sure to be gentle with him.

She didn't have to wait long for him to return the kiss. At first, it was soft, as if exploring a new land for the first time. Then, it became more passionate, and Samantha found herself almost as red as he was with heat. He broke the kiss and, breathing hard, he shook his head. "We can't do this."

"Why not?" Samantha exclaimed, almost surprised by how furious she sounded.

Alex backed away a little before whispering, "I want this, but I...I can't..." If it was at all possible, he became even more red than he already was and lowered his eyes away from her gaze.

Understanding, Samantha nodded and moved back to lying right beside him again. "I'm sorry, Alex. Really, I know this wasn't the best time to do this, but for so long...I've wanted this."

"I want it, too, and now that we can...I can't..."

"There's nothing to be ashamed of," Samantha told him sternly. "First of all, you feel horrible, and, secondly, you have bruises all over. That would make it very hard for me to please you if we did make love." Sighing, she grabbed his arm and took his hand in hers. "Have you ever been in love?"

Alex shook his head. "Not real love. Sean has, though, and it sounds like the most wonderful thing in the world."

Samantha looked into his eyes with a shy grin on her face. "What is it like?"

"He said that he couldn't go any period of time without thinking of the woman he loved. When he was with her he said it felt like his life was complete, and that he would do anything for this person. He would die for her so that she would be able to live." Alex turned away from her and coughed a few times before turning back. "Is the room spinning or is that just me?"

As he closed his eyes, Samantha put her hand over his eyes. "Get some sleep." It didn't take very long for him to drift off and, sighing, Samantha put her head on his shoulder. Glancing at him one more time, she grinned. "I love you."

"Oh my God!!!" Fox exclaimed in horror scaring Alex so much that he nearly fell out of the bed. Samantha also sat up and her eyes widened as she saw Fox and Walter standing in the doorway with their mouths hanging open.

Realizing what it looked like she shook her head. "Fox, nothing happened." As he continued to stare at her she sighed, exasperated, and looked at Alex. "Tell them nothing happened."

"Nothing happened," Alex echoed. "Sir, I swear on my life that nothing happened."

Walter, on the other hand, was grinning like a school boy who has just learned a dirty secret. "Way to go, Alex! You rat!"

Fox took in a few deep breaths before slumping against Walter who was barely able to catch him. He moaned as if struck hard. "Oh my God..."

"Fox, calm down," Samantha ordered. "Nothing happened. If something had happened we wouldn't be clothed right now."

"What did happened?" Walter questioned.

Samantha cleared her throat. "The Relsinians were beating Alex because he was sick and could barely do the work they had asked for, so I shielded his body with mine."

"Oh my God..."

"Fox," Samantha groaned. "Anyway, I brought him back here and he asked me to stay so I did. I guess that I dozed off."

Fox stumbled over to the bed and fell on top of it, his eyes closed. Pouting, he looked at the two. "How come I wasn't told of this...arrangement?"

Alex shrugged. "Maybe because there was no arrangement before this afternoon, Sir."

"You let her into bed after...a few minutes!? Oh my God..."

Walter chuckled before walking over to Alex and putting a hand on his shoulder. "I believe you guys. They do make good points, Fox. If we had caught them and they had just made love we would be seeing a whole lot of your sister and a whole lot more of Alex than I ever want to see." Samantha and Alex blushed.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and, going to answer it, Walter found that it was Ariel in a long blue dress. She grabbed his hand. "There is work to be done."

He nodded and looked back at the three. "I must go work, but I will be back in a few minutes." With that, he left.

Fox looked at Alex and then at Samantha before looking back at Alex. He covered his eyes with his hands. "Oh my God..."

Walter was led by Ariel into the gypsies' chamber where Celestria and Delsia were waiting. Celestria handed him a packet of papers. "We won't have much time. The news must be brought to the Serenian troops in two days, and we must attack in three."

"What are you talking about?" Walter questioned. "Attack what?"

"This is the big one, Walter," Delsia informed him. "We were able to get inside of the smoking man's room. While we were in there we got those plans that Dana Scully spoke of before, and now we are giving them to you."

Celestria frowned. "I must warn you, Sir Skinner, that if we do not fight in three days then our opportunity will pass."

"We will fight with you, Sir, but our services will mean nothing against the troops unless there are Serenian soldiers fighting this war. We alone cannot win this," Ariel explained to him.

Walter nodded. "Well, what must we do?"

Delsia took in a deep breath. "The papers show positions of the soldiers for this week. There are many weak points that we will be able to take advantage of if we play our cards right. There will have to be a lot of sword fighters to fight the guards one-on-one. In addition to this, it would be nice to have a few shooters at high points in the castle to shoot at oncoming people.

I know the forces are weak, but we will overpower them. As Ariel has told you, we will fight them, and there are powers we have that will even the score. Have the troops ready by morning so that they can attack before the Relsinians have a chance to defend themselves. By the time they get their armies together we will have the advantage."

Walter had just told those in the meeting this, and Byers was eyeing him dubiously. "They want us to kill all those people? That is mass murder!"

"Look what they've done to us!" William exclaimed. "I say we do it. The troops can be ready in three days. We will crush them!"

Dana shook her head. "They'll have an advantage with weapons."

"We'll have an advantage with time," William persisted.

Fox nodded. "I say we do it. This is our best chance, and if we die then we die fighting."

Samantha glanced at him. "I want to fight with you, Fox."

Dana was already shaking her head in opposition as Fox replied, "I think you are well enough to join us."

"She'll collapse, Fox." He turned towards the Princess. "Samantha, you should stay here."

Samantha shook her head. "Either let me go, or I'll go without your consent. I'm not just going to sit up here and watch as my people die for their freedom." Fox nodded.

Alex coughed a few times before looking at the King. "Sir?"

Fox looked at him and shook his head. "No."

"But Sir-"


Alex glared at him. "It's the same thing as Samantha. I want to fight. This is the moment I've been waiting for!"

"Too bad," Fox said. "You are ill, and you need to stay up here and rest." He smiled jokingly. "Think of it, Krycek. We'll be fighting for you as well as for the kingdom!"

As Walter chuckled, Dana nodded. "Seriously, Alex, Samantha is well. You are not, therefore you must stay here."

Alex rubbed the bridge of his nose and growled at her under his breath. "Damn bitch."

"What did you say?" Dana questioned, lifting her eyebrow.

Looking at her, Alex offered her the most charming smile that he could. "I said 'damn itch'." To prove his point, he began scratching his arm, the smile still gracing his features. William smirked, and Dana scowled at him before looking towards Gloria who was standing up from where she had been sitting on Samantha's bed.

She grinned, answering her unasked question, "Well, we've got to start now, right? There are Serenians inside the castle who need to be told of this, and then tomorrow those who work outside need to reach the civilians and tell them to prepare themselves." Fox and Samantha nodded in agreement.

The two days of rounding up soldiers went by so fast that those inside the castle were barely ready for the war that they had been planning, but that day did come, and soon Walter and Fox were in their chamber getting suited up for battle. Alex watched from the bed and snarled. "I still do not understand why I can not go with you and fight today." Turning away from them, he sneezed and rubbed his still warm face.

"Bless you," Fox said flippantly, "and that is why you cannot come with us, Krycek." He seriously knew that Alex wanted to fight, but he wasn't going to let him. Since he knew there was nothing seriously wrong with him he had decided to have some fun with his apprentice's sickness.

Sneezing again, Alex shook his head. "I feel well enough to fight, Sir." He was only answered with bless you's from Walter and Fox who were eyeing him with amusement. Cursing his body, he slumped down on the bed and coughed a few times before closing his eyes. "This is torture."

Grabbing his sword, Walter walked over to him and smiled. "Watch out for yourself in here, all right?" Touching the younger man's forehead, he smirked. "Try not to burn the place down."

Sniffling a few times, Alex grinned weakly. "Ha, ha. I'll get you back for that one as soon as I feel better."

As Walter moved toward the door, Fox stuck his handgun in its holster before walking over to Alex. "I feel bad leaving you here alone. Will you be all right? Maybe I could get Scully to stay here with you."

"That would be even more torturous than this," Alex joked faintly. Turning his head, he coughed a few more times before looking up at Fox. "Be careful."

Fox nodded. "We will be." Touching his apprentice's warm hand, he moved towards Walter and the two looked back at him. "Take care."

"This is not fair at all," Alex mumbled, trying to stop himself from sneezing again. It didn't work and he scowled as he heard his two roommates cheerfully say "bless you" before leaving him alone in the room.

Falling to sleep, his dreams were haunted by thoughts of the others calling out to him for help that he could not give because he was weak. Over and over he saw Walter's head being chopped off and Fox being shot by the Relsinian King. Waking, he coughed a few times as he tried to fill his lungs with air again before glancing to the far end of the room and realizing with terror that someone else had entered.

The woman was watching him quietly in her low-cut green blouse and black pants. Seeing his eyes were now open, she smiled happily. "Good morning, Sir Krycek."

"Who are you?" He questioned, his eyes narrow with confusion and wary.

She stepped closer to the bed where Alex was and watched as he sat upright before saying, "You do not have to fear me. I was sent here by Dana Scully."

Alex nodded before literally falling off the bed and standing with his sword in hand that Fox had left under the bed just in case anything like this happened while he was away. "I don't believe you."

"Have it your way." She sighed and pulled out her sword waving it in front of him tauntingly. "You are sick as she said, Alex. If you just trust me we could skip this." Seeing that he wasn't planning on backing down, she ran at him and the two began a tiresome battle of strength.

Though she could tell that he was a little on the sluggish side, she was still amazed at his ability. "Dana was right. You are magnificent. If you weren't ill you would be able to beat me without a problem."

Alex growled at her and pushed her up again the wall, their swords forming an 'x' inches from their faces. "You haven't won yet."

"Oh, but I have," She whispered, and he was unable to pull away before she pushed a small needle into his arm. Gulping for air, he closed his eyes and fell to the ground. His sword fell by his side, and the woman grabbed it before looking at the needle in her own hand. "Sorry to have to do that, Alex, but it was Dana's orders. You should feel a little bit better after this kicks in." Glancing at his unconscious form again, she grinned and moved over to the bed, sitting on it and pulling out a book that she had been dying to read.

** All over Serenian fighters and Relsinian fighters were engaged in battle. Though those of the royal family were nowhere to be seen, the Serenians kept on fighting (and killing) the Relsinian guards.

Inside the castle, Samantha growled at the Relsinian who was fighting her before sinking her sword through his body and pulling it out again just to see that more blood was on it. She looked to her right and saw William belly slash a Relsinian before running over to fight another one that was coming towards him.

Frohike, who was by the desk that he was used when Fox had been king, had a wooden staff in hand and was doing everything he could to knock out all the Relsinians that came towards him. Sighing, he looked at the staff. "Fuck this," he muttered, grabbing, instead, a large sword from his belt. Engaging a soldier in battle, he easily struck the person on the hip and killed him.

Fox and Walter were in the middle of it all slashing anything they could get their hands on. Binding a Relsinian's sword, Fox parried a thrust and disarmed the soldier before slashing him through the heart. Walter, meanwhile, had ducked under a head slash and struck the soldier's head before he could parry the blow.

Byers and Dana, who had been standing in a corner of the room, pulled out their guns and shot a few of the Relsinians before leaning against the wall again and waiting for more to come. Seeing more, they smiled wanly and shot these newcomers before dodging a few shots coming towards them.

Just then, the throne room doors locked so that Serenian nor Relsinian could get in. From a door at the back, the King of Relsin entered and surveyed the room. Both Serenian and Relsinian bodies littered the floor as the living soldiers watched him in puzzlement. Pulling out a gun, he shot the man walking towards him and grinned as he heard Dana scream, "Fox!!!"

She ran towards him and inspected the bullet hole in his shoulder before propping his head up on her knees and using her hands to try and stop the bleeding. Soon, she was covered with blood and was frantically trying to pull off the sleeve of his shirt to cover the wound.

The King of Relsin walked over to Fox's limp form and glared at Dana before kicking her away. She grunted and landed painfully beside Fox. Seeing him put his gun against Fox's temple, she tried to scream again but was too weak to. Walter, however, was not and he ran to the King of Relsin only to be held back by some Relsinian guards.

A gunshot rang through the room as Byers hurriedly tried to see who had shot the gun and if the King of Serenia was really dead. What he saw amazed him. The King of Relsin was lying dead on the ground with a bullet wound on the back of his skull. He assumed it had gone all the way through the head, but he had no desire to see this so he glanced around for the shooter. Seeing him, he watched in amazement as the man with the gun dropped the weapon and sank to his knees, tears falling from his eyes.

The Relsinian soldiers finally let Walter through and glanced at the man before gasping, "Why did you do that?"

"He was wrong...evil...a monster and a coward. I couldn't take it anymore. Your king didn't deserve to die." Rubbing his eyes, he stood and took in a shaky breath. "I shall have our people out by tomorrow. You will not have to worry about us any longer."

William, who had been watching from the side of the room, walked towards him. "When you get back they will kill you."

The man shook his head. "You don't have to worry about me any longer." Sniffling, Jeff Spender stood and rubbed his puffy eyes again before glancing at the bloody mess that was his father before leaving the room in anguish. The others watched him in awe before looking at the living Relsinian guards and killing them all without mercy or pity.

Alex awoke on the floor to find the woman who had drugged him sitting on his bed reading some fat novel. Standing painfully, he drunkenly walked over to her and rubbed the back of his neck before hoarsely asking, "Who are you?"

"Melissa Scully," the woman replied. She grinned at his surprised expression. "I take it that you know Dana." Alex groaned and nodded in response. Melissa touched his hand. "I understand that. Dana doesn't always have the best first impressions."

She stood and felt his forehead. "Well, it seems to have gone down a little bit. Dana said that for the next few days you are still going to feel kind of sick, but the medication will help you get better quicker."

"I thought she didn't have medication," Alex rasped.

Melissa shrugged. "She told our mom what you needed and she was able to steal it from the Relsinians." As Alex's eyes widened in amazement she beamed. "I know; mothers are the best, aren't they?"

Alex nodded slowly. "Yes, they are. They really are."

"Oh, by the way, I don't know if it is a little too late for this now, but there are still gunshots out there."

"What do you mean?" Alex questioned, not quite getting her point.

Melissa giggled lightly and took a gun out of the holster around her waist handing it to him and pointing at the balcony window. "Knock yourself out."

His eyes sparkling like an excited child's, Alex sprinted over to the window and looked down at the Serenians who were both killing and being killed by Relsinians. Aiming carefully, he fired and watched as one of the soldiers fell to the ground. He shot again. Again. Again. Relsinians started going down and the others began looking all over for the source of the bullets.

Alex barely noticed as Melissa came and kneeled next to him with another gun in her hand. He stared at her. "You carry two?"

"No," she said. "I stole yours." Alex smiled at her and turned back to the battlefield shooting all those that were in range of his gun.

That night Jeff walked along the side of the castle with his gun in hand. He still didn't believe that he had killed his own father, and yet he knew that what he had done was right. No, he hadn't wanted to do it, but those people had been suffering. It had been the right thing to do. One life for hundreds. It was a lesson his father had taught him long ago.

If the reports were right Marita had returned to Relsin along with the other soldiers. They had deserted him. He didn't blame her. Right now everyone must consider him a traitor. Hell, he considered himself a traitor...a traitor to the family...a traitor to the kingdom.

A tear rolled down his cheek as he looked up at the full moon. It was so beautiful in the dark night sky. <what had the Princess called me that day? A light in the darkness of the nation? Ha!> Glancing around at the trees which surrounded 3/4 of the castle he smiled as he gazed at the large building. It was so tall...so beautiful. He felt insignificant compared to it.

The King was going to be fine. He was still unconscious but the shot had not been fatal. Dana Scully was taking care of him now as Walter Skinner took over the position of King until he could get better. To the best of Jeff's knowledge the gypsies that they had taken into the Relsinian Kingdom had not left with Marita but had stayed behind with the Serenians. Smart women.

Closing his eyes and breathing in the cool night air, Jeff laughed. His laughter quickly turned to hysterical sobs as he clicked the safety off on his gun. Raising it to his temple, he looked up at the sky and shouted, "For you, Father!" With that, he pulled the trigger.

The gunshot rang through the quiet night and as the body of the man who was to be the Relsinian King fell to the ground. A few crickets began chirping and the moon fell onto his already pale face as his dull eyes stared along the ground...staring for eternity and wishing for a life that could have been.

The End

Well, now comes the vital question... should this be the last or would you like Serenia to be a trilogy/series? I'd love comments on this story. Well, I tried to give people what they wanted in this story so write me and tell me what you though Ok, I know you guys liked those questions for the next story thing, so I'll do there. Do you want another story? If so, should Mulder and Scully get together in it? What role do you want Melissa to play? Should she try to come between Krycek and Samant or go with someone else so there will be less problems? Do you want to see Marita again? What did you think of my gypsies and do you want to see them in a future story? Would you like Sean to actually have a good role in a story? What do you think abou Gloria Florence? Do you want to see Skinner get together with someone? If so, who? Should Mulder find out about his mother and the CSM's...thing? Should I stop focusing on Krycek so much in these stories and try to do more with another character <g>? Oh an idea...do you want me to add Pusher into another story? I'd love to experiment with that idea, but I would need ideas on how to fit him in. Ok, the big one...where do you want me to go from here? What do you want to see happen to our heroes...and Bil Scully? Hehe, J/K Anyway, E-mail me at Rkacat@aol.com Thanks for reading, everyone.

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