Sent: Friday, October 20, 2000 2:34 PM

TITLE: Disconnected IV
AUTHOR: Joann Humby
RATING: R (mostly for language)
DATE: 16 October 2000
SPOILERS: Everything through to S7 Requiem
ARCHIVE: To Gossamer, Ephemeral and MTA. Others please ask.

All communication to/from Mulder has been stopped. Alex Krycek may
be the key to re-opening the lines.

Disconnected I, II, III are available at:

Legally these characters belong to some combination of 1013, CC and
Fox - I'm just hoping that their owners appreciate how precious
they are. I've decided to borrow their souls from DD, GA, NL and

I admit it's been a while between parts of this series so here's
quick refresher.

Before Mulder was abducted, Krycek fitted a stolen alien implant
behind Mulder's ear. Mulder didn't know anything about this until,
captive and with most of his body "disconnected" chemically from
his brain, Krycek started talking to him using a computer he'd
adapted for the job.

Carver, who's hoping to become the conspiracy's new boss, sends men
to capture the computer from Krycek. Scully and her temporary
partner, Mike Nicholson, intervene. Krycek agrees to cooperate with
Scully. Carver's people try again and this time they succeed in
stealing the computer from Scully.

Carver and his technicians succeed in reopening communication with
Mulder. Mulder is still "disconnected" and his brain is being "re-
educated" by his alien kidnappers. Having discovered that he can
kill them just by thinking nasty enough thoughts, Mulder isn't
surprised that they drug him into oblivion every time he reacts to
the treatment. They tell him that as he's a genetically improved
specimen himself, he should appreciate that the "offspring" need
role models.

Faced with Carver at the other end of the communications link,
Mulder at first refuses to talk, and then, having heard that Scully
is pregnant, insists on talking to Alex Krycek. No one's heard from
him since!


DISCONNECTED IV - by Joann Humby

Even slumped against the wall, arms crossed in petulant di msbelief,
Mike Nicholson was still an imposing figure. Krycek could feel the
pent-up energy, rippling in waves from across the room.

Maintaining her distance, not only from Krycek and Nicholson but
also from the situation, Dana Scully's lips remained tightly
sealed. No pretense of greeting or welcome, just a calm evaluating
gaze that Krycek suspected might freeze the balls of lesser men.

A couple of weeks ago, Krycek had trailed two of Carver's goons
from an edge-of-town hotel, and he'd been anticipating this moment
ever since. In fact, he'd been busily preparing for it. There was
just a little more work to be done, some by him and some by them.
Which was part of the reason he'd accepted an invitation to visit
the basement of the FBI.

Krycek smiled. "You don't seem very pleased to see me."

The stony silence was answer enough. Krycek kept things moving.
"They need me. Don't they?" Scully looked as if she might respond,
so Krycek quickly made his point. "And so do you."

Scully spat out a reply. "They want you to contact them."

"And you're their go-between?" There wasn't an answer, despite the
fact it looked like she was working on one. "You just get to play
mailman and then you're expendable? What will Mulder have to say
about that?"

The clouds in Scully's eyes were telling Krycek a story. There was
something going on here, something more than her simply relaying
some order from Carver. "What DID Mulder say about that?"

"Ask him."

"If we're going to work together." Krycek paused to enjoy the way
her mouth drifted open; even tight-lipped reserve needed the
occasional pressure relief. "Unless you prefer I go elsewhere?"

It was a rich baritone voice that gave the reply. "Don't tell us
you've got friends. I've checked the records, you've got shit."

Tact, Krycek noted, wasn't Nicholson's strong point. "I've got
something you want."

Scully responded to that. "And you're willing to share?"

"You've got something I want."

She lifted her chin to beckon a reply. Krycek waved vaguely around
the room before starting his list. "The Bureau. Resources, access,

"Skinner will have to..."

"Skinner will approve."

"What do you need?"

"Let's start with a little history. How did they get the computer?"
Not that he couldn't make a good guess, just that it would be nice
to fill in the blanks.

Scully led him through her version of the events at the hotel. The
story of the two heavies who'd taken the palmtop; a rather more
professional outfit than the guys who'd made the original attempt
against him. The way they'd left her bound and gagged, now there
was a scene for the imagination.

Halfway through Scully's account, Skinner arrived in the office,
analyzed the situation and settled in to listen. When he heard the
subject matter he joined Nicholson in slumping against the wall.
Skinner had found Scully handcuffed to the bedroom furniture; he'd
arrived just in time to stop her from choking on a mouthful of
Kleenex that had been used to create a gag.

When Skinner took over the story, he explained how he'd lost a
critical couple of minutes getting to the room. He'd been relieved
to see that Scully was only just ahead of him on his arrival at the
hotel. He'd spotted her entering the lobby just as he pulled into a
parking space. If he'd gone straight to the room, then he would
only have been a minute behind her.

If Skinner hadn't been almost at the bedroom door before he'd
remembered that he'd left his phone in the car. If he'd just poked
his head into the room to announce his arrival. Well, if wishes
were dollar bills, easy to be a millionaire.

Krycek's mind flashed back to the night before the theft; he'd
spent it at the hotel with Scully and Skinner. Skinner's angry
disbelief when the link to Mulder closed down on Krycek's voice
command, though they'd hadn't realized that he'd closed it
deliberately. Scully's resigned determination to make the best of

That night, as Krycek watched and waited for them to decide on his
fate and that of the palmtop computer, he'd come to a conclusion.
It was inevitable; Carver and his cronies were going to steal the
palmtop; Skinner and Scully were going to lose it. His priority had
to be to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

Krycek had been doing just that as he trailed Carver's goons away
from the hotel. It was important that it was Carver's people who
took it. If they'd been from some other faction, it could have been
a problem. There were limits to how many Jokers there could be in a
pack without making the game impossible.

Which was why Krycek already knew most of Mike Nicholson's story
from that evening. When the innocuous Ford sedan had overtaken him,
it had come out of nowhere. Krycek had leapt for the reassurance of
his new Sig Sauer. When he realized that the heavy in the car was
one of the good guys, as they liked to term themselves, Alex
couldn't believe his bad luck.

Mike Nicholson really ought to be working undercover. How much were
the Fibbies paying him? He'd caught Krycek twice now. How?
Nicholson was supposed to be a desk jockey, wizard of the computer
disk, despite the fact he looked like he could go a few rounds with

Krycek could still recall the horror and disappointment on
Nicholson's face when he realized that Krycek didn't have the
computer. What he'd discovered since had confirmed Nicholson's
status as someone useful.

Krycek brought himself back to the present by focusing on Scully's
eyes. "You've spoken to Mulder since then?"

"Carver asked me to."


"His people collected me from my hospital appointment."

Great tactic. Scully wasn't going to turn a hospital into a
shooting range. Particularly as the chances were that she was
pleased, or at least willing, to be taken by them. They, after all,
could get her closer to Mulder.

Krycek waved for her to continue. She glanced at Nicholson for an
instant, presumably having second thoughts about having allowed the
new boy to join in the meeting. Nicholson looked away, shifting his
weight as his jaw tensed. The movement reminded Alex of Mulder.
Presumably it had the same effect on Scully, because she cleared
her throat and carried on talking.

"The link was up. They'd been talking to Mulder. Well, trying to."

That was all to be expected. Carver's scientists had broken in,
past the first layers of the computer's defenses. Mulder had proved
more problematic. Scully had been chosen to lure him out. "So, they
needed you to get him talking?"

"They thought so."

Thought so? Mulder had been offered a chance to talk to Scully and
had turned it down? Why? Just how bad a state did that mean Mulder
was in? "But they were wrong?"

Scully's breathing looked labored, her gaze unsteady. Krycek
wondered if she was going to pass out. Certainly, if she hadn't
already been sitting, he was sure she'd have tumbled over.

Skinner's discomfort was visible in the set of his shoulders, in
the vague anger that radiated from him. For an instant, Krycek
wondered if the AD was going to cure his frustration by attempting
to hit him again, but instead Skinner turned towards Nicholson. A
determined look and a, "Could you give us a few minutes,"
completing the dismissal of a clearly furious but unarguing

It was a treat to see. Krycek chose to enjoy it. He waved a hand
towards the door as Nicholson vanished through it. "Did you really
want to piss him off?"

Skinner scowled but said nothing; Scully simply turned her face
away. Krycek marked up another point on his personal scorecard. The
trouble with trusting no one was that it tended to affect the
ability to make new friends.

Scully's reply was taking too long, so Krycek increased the
pressure. "If I'm going to see Carver, I'm not going in blind."

"Mulder asked for you."


Of all the Jokers in the pack, maybe Mulder was the biggest Joker
of them all. Krycek licked his lips, suddenly aware of how dry his
mouth had become. "How did Carver take that?"

"He said there was no deal." She took a deep breath and swallowed.
"Then Mulder closed the link."

"And Carver couldn't get it back? How long ago did this happen?"

"Two days ago."

It was sweet to hear that Carver needed him, shocking to hear that
it was at Mulder's instigation. But, it was almost too good to see
the way that Scully was focusing on her breathing, trying to keep
it even. As if by keeping her lips parted but without letting her
features move, as if by keeping her breaths shallow, she actually
remained in control.

Skinner's hands had closed into tight fists, his body was pulsing
with each angry breath he took.

Oh, this was good, so good that Krycek could almost smell it. It
was easy to see their defeat as his triumph. Important to take
pleasure in success, whatever form it took. In fact, if he could
bottle it, it was a sure-fire guaranteed best seller. No wonder
power was an aphrodisiac.

Enjoyable as the scene was, Krycek had to move on. "Ok. I'll go and
see Carver. Has he given you a time, place?"

Skinner shook his head, a slow, reluctant movement. "He said he'd
call me."

"Stall him. We're going to be busy." Krycek emphasized his point by
moving swiftly to the door, pausing only to suggest flat shoes to

Nicholson was still in the corridor, pawing the ground like an
angry bull. Krycek couldn't help but admire the fact he'd stuck
around rather than stormed off. Where did you buy that kind of
blind loyalty?

The warmth in Krycek's goodbye was absolutely genuine. He didn't
even feel offended by the irritation in Nicholson's scowled reply.


Krycek returned to the apartment he'd borrowed the night before.
Presumably, if someone set their mind to it, they could make a case
for breaking and entering, but it wasn't as if he'd actually stolen
anything. A little electricity, a few phone calls, a couple of cans
of beer. Other than that, he would be returning the place pretty
much just the way he'd found it.

The owner, whoever the owner was, probably wouldn't even notice
that, while he'd been away on his business trip, his apartment had
had an overnight guest. Unless of course Carver's hoods ever traced
Krycek's movements and turned over all his stopovers looking for
clues. But if that happened, that was hardly Krycek's fault, now
was it?

His mind turned back to more important matters.

Why would Mulder have asked for him?

Since when had Mulder had the patience to keep his mouth shut for
32 hours?

Questions, questions. Speculation had the power to exhaust him.
Krycek returned to basic principles. Timing was everything and he
had decided that from now on, he would be controlling the timing.
Which meant that everything would have to stay on hold until he was

Ready was looking a million miles away. He studied the lump of
electronics on the table and sighed. If only he had Carver's
resources, the things he could do.

Still. Handle this situation right and maybe he would soon have
Carver's resources.

Meanwhile, he did have access to the Bureau's. They had the skills
he needed, even if they didn't have the knowledge to make sense of
the task he was setting them.

Krycek made a final call from the apartment's phone and couldn't
help but smile. If the owner did spot that the place had been
occupied and asked the phone company to check their records - what
on earth would they make of a call to the FBI?

On his return to the Hoover Building, Scully and Nicholson met him
like an Honor Guard. Before he'd even reached the elevators, they
were on hand to escort him directly to the electronics lab.

Agents looked their way, staring for an instant before moving back
to their own business. Krycek could imagine the image they
presented. Nicholson - tall, dark and heavy. Scully - small, pale,
a mix of soft curves and hard edges. His imperfect shadows standing
in close formation, one on either side. He wondered if Scully
recognized the jacket as Mulder's.

Scully kept the introductions simple. "Agent Farrell."

The electronic specialist shifted his focus from the circuit
diagrams on the desk, moving only enough to peer up at them through
a mess of blond hair. "The AD called my boss. What do you want?"

Krycek smiled and put his hand in his pocket, smiled more broadly
as he noted the way Scully and Nicholson's hands shifted as if they
were preparing to draw their weapons. What the hell did they think
he was going to do?

He was gratified by Scully's exhalation of surprise as he pulled
out a jewel box. Just the right size for a wedding ring, perhaps?
Would she ever see one of those? And he smiled again, perversely
pleased by the delicious irony of this being Mulder's jacket.

"Relax." He opened the box to reveal a small, perfectly cut
crystal, and slipped it onto a tissue to safely add it to the
clutter on the scruff's desk. He noted the title on the circuit
that the engineer had been studying before their arrival: Novel
Bomb Timing Circuits. He made a note to grab a copy later. "It's
just an implant."

"It's not."

Krycek sighed at Scully's indignant reply, turned to her with a
look of indulgence and pity. "You've got a DOD unit, probably a
C&C1279. You can believe what you like, but this didn't come out of
any labyrinth under the Pentagon."

"Where did you get it?"

"I removed it from a host. Trouble is, they autotune to the host
DNA, useless afterwards."

The engineer cleared his throat. "And I'm supposed to do what with
it? Whisper abracadabra?"

Scully's attention was elsewhere. "When you say host - you mean
some person."

Krycek shrugged, and assumed Scully's question was rhetorical. He
looked down at the blond, kept his voice soft but added an hitherto
absent level of menace. "We need to make it appear as if it's not
been deactivated, so it looks like the real deal."

The man with the circuits swallowed, responding to Krycek's voice.
"What do you need?"


The next morning Krycek could declare his preparations complete.
He'd had to fight his own impatience to stop Skinner from arranging
the meeting sooner. He was desperate to know why Carver needed
Mulder so badly. Timing was everything. If Carver was asking for
him, then Carver was in real trouble.

When he'd seen Scully at the office, Krycek had expected to hear
that Carver had tripped one of the many booby traps that he'd laid
in the computer. But equally, he'd expected to hear that Carver had
his technicians working on the problem and was merely curious about
the price of technical support.

What he hadn't anticipated was Mulder's apparent role. Was Scully
lying, had she done some sort of a deal with Carver to draw Krycek
back out into the open? Surely she wasn't that good an actress.

Why was Skinner being used as another go-between? Wouldn't it be
safer for Carver and his cronies to be known to as few people as
possible? Or maybe that interpretation was just plain wrong. Maybe
the more people he involved, the more like a top dog Carver looked
to the other players.

If Mulder had simply refused to talk to Carver, surely Scully would
have been enough to change his mind? Mulder would actually want to
talk to her. What then? Unless some misguided sense of gallantry
had made him judge that avoiding her, would keep her safe.

Krycek re-checked the device in front of him for eye appeal. It
wouldn't survive close inspection, but then what would? The fake
receiver, cobbled together from a de-activated implant removed from
a freshly-dead test subject and a tiny fiber-optic bundle set to
shiver with colored light.

It didn't have the eerily unnatural shimmer of the real deal. But
then normally no one would be able to see it, and it would pass a
casual inspection if someone did open the palmtop's casework and
look inside.

All he had to do now was smuggle it safely into Carver's lair.
Krycek slipped the unit into the padding he wore over the stump of
his left arm. Even when they decided to search or confiscate the
prosthesis, as some of the more suspicious types tended to do, not
many had so few qualms they'd insist on seeing the naked truth of
the amputation.

The alternative hiding places were even less aesthetic. Krycek cast
an eye toward the bathroom before convincing himself he'd gone for
the right option. If they checked the bandages, they'd check those
other places, too.

Deep breath and calm again, at least as calm as he could
realistically expect to be. He picked up the mobile phone that he'd
stolen only a couple of hours earlier and called a private number
at the FBI.

Skinner sounded angry. "Where the hell have you been? Carver's

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Krycek groaned his irritation. Skinner's casual
broadcast of their contact's name was just another example of how
dangerous it was to work with amateurs. No matter. So what if
Carver's rivals did overhear how close Carver was to the prize,
maybe it would up the price.

There was no need to publish details of the rendezvous though, he
placed the emphasis on the cryptic and hoped that Skinner would
take the hint about the need for caution on open lines. "I'm going
for a work-out." He hit the disconnect without any pretense of a
goodbye or any further acknowledgment of the plan.


The gym was a good place to work out a few kinks. Krycek resented
the fact that he wasn't going to be able to use the venue again.
He'd come to enjoy it in recent weeks, but now that it was on the
official list of Krycek haunts - well, there was no point in
pushing his luck.

Instead he relaxed into the rhythm of his own heart rate as it
increased slowly with each steady press against the weights.

The room was full of well-built bodies, but it wasn't hard to spot
the new arrivals as the odd men out. Loose fitting jogging pants
did nothing to conceal their trades. Having disenteangled himself
from the weight machine, Krycek made a slow approach. "So, is that
a gun in your pocket?" He let his voice trail off, not bothering to
conceal his amusement.

The man with the blond crew-cut growled an incoherent complaint.
The second man refused even that acknowledgment. "You're wanted."

Krycek's smile broadened. "So, it's not a gun."

The crewcut lurched toward him and Krycek pulled quickly back,
waved an admonishing finger. "He's expecting me to be intact."

"Don't push it."

Krycek nodded and followed Carver's goons back to the changing
rooms. A quick shower and back into his clothes and he was ready to
go. Champing at the bit, actually. Though they didn't need to know

He noted their disdainful gaze as he pulled the expensive leather
jacket over his useless left arm. Mulder's jacket, he noted,
suddenly vaguely amused at what the agent might think of being the
victim of petty theft. Borrowed, he decided. Mulder was welcome to
it, just as soon as he was in a position to use it again.

Krycek's smile faded, he nodded crisply at the two men. They led
the way to the waiting black sedan.


Carver was not pleased to see Krycek. Krycek accepted that as
another point he'd earned. Only a few days ago, Carver had treated
him with no more respect than a pesky wasp buzzing over his
personal picnic. He had now officially reached the status of
unwelcome but necessary intrusion.

"You wanted to see me?"

Carver's first response was a sharp inhalation. His second was a
smile, bared teeth and a threat in his eyes. "I've been looking for
you since our first meeting. I feel we got off on the wrong foot."

That was one way of putting it. Krycek hesitated, unsure whether to
continue with his planned full frontal assault or to play the game
of false politeness that Carver was suggesting. He looked around
the room and saw Carver's entourage. Carver was already struggling
to hold these people together, and was unlikely to forgive or
forget if Krycek chose to humiliate him further.

Krycek opted for conciliation. "How can I help?"

Carver's features relaxed. "I'd like to talk with you about Mr

"Of course."

A nod of the head from Carver and the room emptied. Carver waited
until the doors were shut before turning his attention back to

Krycek took the initiative. "He's stopped talking?" He took the
beat of silence as an adequate reply. "By choice?"



Krycek realized he'd asked one question too many as the fire
returned to Carver's eyes. "Get the link open. You'll be well

"And if I fail?"


How easily Carver had lapsed into making threats. Surely, Skinner
with his well-known soft spot for Dana Scully made a more suitable
target for manipulation if all Carver was looking for was someone
familiar for Mulder to talk to?

Unless Mulder really had been the one who'd done the choosing? Just
as Scully had said.

Krycek acknowledged Carver's warning message and let him lead the
way to a windowless room with heavily fortified doors that housed
the palmtop computer.

If he let his imagination run a little, he could almost see Mulder
asking for him, a kind of macabre bluff designed to test the
psychology and limitations of Carver and his pals. But whatever had
happened, had happened days ago. And Mulder hadn't broken the
silence? Since when had Mulder had that kind of patience? Or that
kind of ruthlessness as a playmaker?

Krycek gave the unit a cursory once-over. The communicator was
stone dead. Not possible from Mulder's end of the line. At least,
not as far as Krycek was aware. He suppressed the urge to smile at
his good fortune.

He looked up at Carver. "This could take a while."

Carver nodded and pointed out the video surveillance cameras
conveniently located around the room before leaving Krycek to the
solitude. Alex heard the heavy clunk of metal as the lock closed.

It struck him then, in the dead silence of the soundproofed cell
with its harsh white lights, that this must be a taste of Mulder's
world. Unconsciously, he ran his hands over his thighs, brought the
fingers of his right hand up to stroke along the contours of his
cheek, underneath his eye, outlined the top ridge of his ear. He
sighed, marveling at the easy pleasure such innocent movements had
supplied. Not quite like Mulder's world then.

The blink of the video camera brought his musings to a halt. First
things first, he switched the computer back to life, making at
least three slow errors for every fast correct keystroke. The
screen flickered to gold.

A quick check on the last entry in the archive, three days old now,
just a few lines back. "I only talk to Alex Krycek."

Imagine that. Fox Mulder had mentioned his full name, and the
computer had obligingly behaved according to its programmed
response and switched off as soon as the session was complete. What
a wonderful coincidence. Things really couldn't have gone better if
Alex had written the script himself. Mulder had made a threat and
an Alex Krycek pre-configured computer time-bomb had ensured that
the threat had stuck.

Mulder would be climbing the walls by now. Not literally, of
course. At least, not unless they'd connected him up again. Imagine
that, Mulder had become a ruthless poker player without even

If only Carver knew. Well, Alex wouldn't be the one to tell him. He
waved a hand toward his favorite surveillance camera. "I need some
help in here."

A couple of minutes later and two heavies had arrived to unlock the
door. "I need access to the lab. I can't activate the unit unless I
make a couple of modifications."

A couple of crackly conversations over what looked disappointingly
like CIA standard issue headsets and mikes, and Krycek was in the
elevator. He hugged the computer protectively under his arm. The
goons at his side rested their hands quietly on their shoulder
holsters. Just making a point - he might be a valuable asset, but
he was definitely not a colleague.

Krycek checked the faces of the lab staff, no one he knew among
them. And, he was pretty sure, no one who had more than the most
basic knowledge of the device. "We need to shock it back to life,
to reactivate it."

The most senior of the team stepped forward, shaking his head. "I
think we need to get Professor Lamb back in."

That was the last thing Krycek wanted. "No need, I've done this

The security guard was already talking to Carver, who had arrived
almost at the same moment as Krycek. "Lamb has been informed. He'll
be here later." He turned to Krycek. "You know what you're doing?"


Carver gave his order to Lamb's nervous second-in-command. "Watch
everything he does."

Krycek felt a tingle of delight race along his spine. Good news
then. The watcher wasn't confident. Probably had the theory but not
much practical experience. Ideal really, nothing like a little
close magic and sleight of hand to trip up a scientist. And once it
was done, they'd swear they'd really seen and understood it all.

Krycek offered a running commentary on what wire was being
connected to what pad and why the temporary shift would be adequate
to reset the device. "Think of it as pulling the leads on the
battery. It's like a cold start. It blanks the device."

The scientist nodded slowly, taking in the image without absorbing
the fact that Krycek's actions had little to do with his words.
Certainly the switch, between the powered-down implant suspended
sleepily above the circuit board and the dead implant with its
personal light show that Krycek had carefully smuggled in, was
invisible. Despite it happening with a cluster of scientists and
guards watching from only a few feet away and one scientist
standing right over him and seeing nothing.

As the light show started up, everyone smiled and started breathing
again. Even Carver couldn't suppress his reaction. "Let's get this
back upstairs."

Krycek shrugged apologetically to his eager audience. So, they
weren't deemed sufficiently trustworthy to be allowed to witness
the unit in action? Ah, the joys of working for secret societies.

Ideal from Alex's point of view, of course. Sleight of hand was
more impressive with an audience, but his heart rate had to be well
over a hundred now.

"You seem a little tense, Mr Krycek."

"I'm worried about Mulder." Not the whole truth, but at least
enough of a possible glimmer of the truth to put a doubt in
Carver's mind. After all, Carver had no idea why Mulder had asked
for Krycek. Not that Krycek had a much better idea himself.

Carver's silence was all Krycek needed to confirm that he'd struck
the right note. The slight sheen of sweat on Krycek's forehead had
not betrayed him as anything more than someone who might worry over
Mulder. It was Carver himself who looked uncomfortable now.

When they got back to the room, Carver paced as Krycek went through
the motions of starting up the unit again.

Krycek waited a few seconds after each line he typed. "No reply. He
may not be able to."

A barked "keep trying" and Carver quickly left the room, locking
the door as he went.

Better, much better. Now to put the archive to the test.

Krycek mused over what Carver and his Merry Men would enjoy. Well,
he was dealing with an audience of the dull and the deadly. Perhaps
a little tale from the primordial swamp? They'd imagine it was the
output from hours of tough persuasion and gentle coaxing from
Krycek and it would distract Professor Lamb and God knows how many
other members of the science team for hours, days even.

What he needed now was a little window-dressing to wrap around the
story. He cast his mind back to carefully memorized conversations
and started to type. Viewed from the camera footage it would look
just like he was simply typing the questions. The fact that he
would also be hoping to hit the right control keys to bring
Mulder's words back from the archive would hopefully be invisible.
Just as long as he made the leaps into the unit's archives look
convincing, it might work.



Come on man, it's me.

You wanted to talk.


Come on, it's coffee time.

I've brought donuts.


You're really funny, Krycek.


You remembered me! Want me to give you a commentary while I eat?

Sorry, maybe they've disconnected your sense of humor as well.


Excuse me while I split my sides laughing.

I haven't got anything new.


Just give us what you know. Just keep talking.

Skinner's trying to help.




If we can find something they want, maybe we can do a deal to get
you out.




I'm not ignoring you.


I know.

Want me to read you some box scores or something?


Tell Skinner - thanks.



When we talked last you said you'd write up something on DNA
modification. If you've got it, just blast it over direct. I know
Carver will be keen to see it. We can keep talking if you like.


Look -

I -

I've got to go now. They're coming back in.

Will you give her a message?


Sure. Why not.


Tell her not to waste her life. I may not get out of this.


Look, Mulder.


I'll talk to her.

====== Disconnected =======

Krycek leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. The whole
thing had taken less than two minutes, but from the pounding in his
chest, it felt like he'd just run a marathon.

Had he made any mistakes?

Trying to recall enough of the details of their previous
conversations to call up just the right bits of the archive and
slot them in at exactly the right moment had been agony. Trying to
make it flow like it was some kind of conversation, however
disjointed, had been terrifying.

If Carver found out what he'd just done, then no way was he going
to allow him to leave, even temporarily. If he knew that Krycek had
just recalled things from the archives rather than actually spoken
to Mulder, then the deception would send him beyond furious. Angry
enough to kill. Instant justice. Despite any consequences for the

No doubt about it. If Krycek didn't get out of here tonight, with
the communication crystal he'd so carefully retrieved and had
already hidden away, then he would probably die here.

Still, with any luck, he'd done enough. He'd find out soon enough
if he hadn't.

The solid clunk as the door unlocked, changed Krycek's diagnosis
from soon to now. Carver stalked in an instant later. "You spoke to
him? Why didn't you inform me right away?"

"He couldn't talk for long. I didn't want to interrupt him. He had
a file he wanted to send you."

"A file?" Carver's eyes brightened, a glint of icy pleasure.

"Some stuff about DNA modification, something about pre-human
history. He was telling me about it last time we talked. A couple
of weeks ago. He's had it waiting for me." Krycek shrugged. "I
guess it's yours now. Got a disk?"

Carver waved a hand at the camera, demanding that some unseen
lackey bring forth the necessary item.

"What else did he say?"


"The cameras picked it all up, there's no point in lying."

"I just meant there's nothing of interest to you."

"Show me."

Krycek swallowed, as if he had something to hide. Which of course,
he did. "Sure. Actually there is something you should know."

Krycek assumed Carver's growl was an order to keep talking.
"There's a coded message for Scully. He'll expect a response next
time." Krycek pointed at Mulder's words.

"It doesn't look like code."

"Trust me. I'll go and see her, get her reply, there won't be a

"He said we were to leave her alone."

"You are."

Carver frowned and started to pace. "Why you, Mr Krycek?" Krycek
could almost see the wheels turning inside Carver's head, knew
exactly where he was coming from. "You're a hired assassin. You
killed his father. You would have killed her. I've seen the orders.
I've seen the payment records. Why did he choose you?"

Krycek smiled for an instant, a little sad, a little melancholy.
"Mulder's not quite the straight... arrow you imagine." He looked
up at Carver again, a barely overlong blink of green eyes used to
confirm some unspoken message.

Carver's confusion was gratifying. Krycek never ceased to be amused
by how easy it was to manipulate these so-called leaders. A little
innuendo here, a little misdirection there. Amazing. Afterwards, of
course, they'd claim to have suspected it all along, or better
still, known but kept silent for some strategically valid reason of
their own.

What Carver was imagining now, Krycek could only guess at. He
ignored the sudden urge to apologize to Mulder. Mulder. Hell, yes.
Mulder. The longer Krycek was stuck in here and pretending to
communicate with him, the longer it would be before actual
communication could restart.

When he'd suggested to Scully that he wasn't sure how much of
Mulder would be left, when or if they got him back, he'd been only
partly teasing. Right now the part that hadn't been teasing was
shouting worryingly loud in his head. Another reason for getting
out of here right now. "I need to go and visit Agent Scully."

"You're going nowhere."

Shit. The news wasn't even a surprise. It was expected. Yet, the
stab of panic that suddenly assaulted his brain and twisted his
guts was as strong as if this had been some bolt from the blue.

Krycek steadied his thoughts and his voice. "He won't be pleased."

"We'll see." With those words, Carver rose from his chair. He took
with him a floppy disk containing Mulder's words from a couple of
weeks ago and the palmtop computer itself.

Krycek groaned as the door slammed shut. "You might at least turn
the fucking lights off."

So they did.


If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Alex Krycek had tried to
incorporate that into his philosophy. Some days, it almost worked.
He used the darkness to catch up on some much needed sleep. After
all, there wasn't much else he could do.

What a way to treat a colleague. Fuckers. Of course, he knew that
it was nothing personal, psychological softening up never was. The
idea was that in the morning, one of Carver's crew would arrive
bearing coffee and breakfast, offer him the opportunity for a
refreshing shower, maybe even suggest he might enjoy a little sleep
in a real bed.

First, Carver would smile and talk about getting to know him
better. Then Carver would ask him what the current charge was for
cooperation and whether he'd prefer his payments in cash?

Best to let them think it was working. What would be fair? A fixed
price for the job, maybe a million, maybe ten million? Or a day
rate perhaps, maybe a hundred thousand or so. And a fucking
bedroom, a bathroom, a change of clothes, three decent meals a day
and as much coffee as he could handle.

He wondered if his casual innuendo from the night before about
Mulder's relative straightness or otherwise had changed the price.
And if so, in which direction.

His memories slipped back to Mulder and his complaints about the
too-bright lights and the silence that wasn't silence. Sensory
deprivation was a powerful ally in gaining cooperation. Krycek
decided to do a few exercises to remind himself that he, at least,
still knew how to make his own body feel something.



Carver looked ready to explode, apparently still angry at the price
that Krycek had suggested.

Krycek couldn't really understand it, given that it didn't actually
matter. Krycek knew that neither he nor his heirs would be allowed
to keep even the money that had already been moved electronically
to an offshore account as an "act of good faith." He recognized
that, according to Carver's current plans, he wouldn't even be
allowed to live for long enough to count it.

Maybe the cost to Carver's personal credibility of talking to
Mulder was starting to look higher than the potential benefits that
might accrue? Accrue to Carver, of course. There were times when
even Krycek almost forgot that the prime motivation for these
people wasn't some great world vision involving the survival of
humanity. It was some tacky little power-play between thugs and
bureaucrats operating way out of their depth.

Carver's voice was clipped and harsh, lacking the calm arrogance of
previous encounters. "Get it working."

"What did your people think of Mulder's notes?"

"Not your problem. Just do your job."

Krycek watched the screen go back to gold. Good news. If they'd
done a close inspection of the unit and discovered the fake
communicator then Carver wouldn't be wasting his time standing
here. Presumably Mulder's notes had kept Professor Lamb and the
others fully occupied.

An hour seemed like a suitable length of time to try and fail to
talk to Mulder. Carver's breathing became more labored, his steps
as he paced the room in tight circles falling more heavily. But
while Carver showed signs of impatience, he showed no interest in

Good. Krycek steadied his own breathing, ran his recollections of
previous replies from Mulder through for one final time, and hoped
that his memory of the archive was up to the task of a live public




Come on man. I know you're in there.


How can I help you if you won't talk to me?


Where's Scully?


Working. She's fine. She's worried about your message to her.


What's wrong with her?


She's just worried that you might be giving up.


Mulder - you there?


Where else would I be?


You're awfully quiet.


And you're murdering scum.

That sort of fucks with my conversation skills.

====== Disconnected =======

It was baffling. Truly baffling. Baffling and sickening. Carver
wanted so badly to talk to Mulder and Carver had no fucking idea
who Mulder was. What Mulder was.

Did they really imagine that Mulder shared their view of the world,
that he wanted to join their club? That he cared about becoming a
bargaining counter or even a power-broker in their hierarchies and
their in-fighting and their factions? How easily they were taken in
by the silk ties and the Armani suits, mistaking a love of beauty
for an ignorance of ugliness.

Maybe the fact that Mulder had apparently chosen silence for three
days had confirmed his status as a favored son of the conspiracy.
Ironic if it had.

Carver's ranting didn't stop. Where was Mr Super Cool conspiracy
boss now? "You provoked him."

"Provoked? I told you, his message to Scully needed a reply. From

"You're still saying it was some kind of code?"

Krycek offered a single, curt nod of the head.

"You fucking useless piece of shit. If you don't get him talking."

What the fuck was that? A threat? Carver should stick to
threatening his lab staff. How the hell had Carver risen through
the ranks of anything? Krycek knew the answer. Keep your mouth shut
in public; stab people in the back and dance on their graves in
private. It was the keeping your mouth shut element that had always
given Krycek the most difficulty.

Krycek stood his ground. "I need to talk to her. It's the only

"I'll have her brought in."

"And if the coded reply from her is something he doesn't want to
hear? Like that you've dragged her back in here. And he cuts us off

"Shit." Carver mumbled expletives under his breath as he stabbed
restless fingers against the desktop. "Ok, you can visit her.
You'll have an escort."

"They'll need to stay back. He told you not to go near her."

"Don't fail."

"Understood." Krycek had no intention of failing. The fact that his
definition of success differed from Carver's was just another
example of how necessary it had been to learn that lesson about
keeping his mouth shut.


Krycek had been supplied with a car by his "employers." A shiny
black number with a phone installed. As far as Krycek was concerned
it might just as well have been fitted with blue flashing lights
and a siren. Not so much a car as a liability.

The phone call to Scully had been pre-arranged. The call had been a
definite, only its timing had been unpredictable. If he'd ever
doubted the wisdom of the choice he was making, Carver's nervous
anger had convinced him anew. Carver wasn't even going to win the
faction fight he was currently engaged in. Even by the conspiracy's
low standards, he simply wasn't good enough.


"Yes, hello."

"We need to meet. He's got a message for you."


"Your place."

"Fine. See you around 6."

Excellent. Krycek smiled up at the windows of Scully's home and
headed indoors. She had given him over an hour. It ought to be
enough to confuse the men that Carver had sent to watch over him.

An easy break-in later and he was inside Scully's apartment and
trying to ignore the sudden flash of deja vu as he walked into her
living room. He switched on a few lights, pulled down a couple of
blinds, turned the TV on loud and set the coffee maker to work.

With the scene set, he made a quick departure via a bedroom window.
Turned left and followed the line of shadows between the trees to
the dark blue rental car parked just a block away. The keys were
waiting in the exhaust.

By the time he reached the airport, Scully was already standing in
line at the wrong check-in. So far, so very, very good.

Nicholson was in the coffee shop, two cappuccinos on the tray in
front of him. He welcomed Krycek like a long-lost brother and
tucked the white ticket envelope into Krycek's pocket as he
released him from the bear hug.

"Careful. I may need my ribs."

Nicholson grunted in response before asking the big question.
"Where is it?"


"If you let her down..."

"What's it to you?" Krycek raised a hand to block the reply. The
question had, after all, been rhetorical. "Still trying to pay back

"Why are you doing this?"

"It's my duty as an American citizen to help the FBI."

"Where is he?"

"On an alien spaceship. Don't your colleagues tell you anything?"

Nicholson growled in irritation. "Why did he choose a slimy piece
of shit like you?"

"You think you could have got the unit out of there?"

Nicholson's fingers continued to beat a tattoo on the dining tale,
but their dance was becoming heavier, more audible now. Krycek
pushed forward a gloved hand to quiet them. Nicholson reacted in an
instant, enveloping Krycek's fist with his own and starting to
squeeze. He retreated a second later, mumbling the inevitable,
"What the fuck?"

Krycek smiled as he withdrew the harsh plastic that now constituted
his left arm. "Protecting Mulder, costs."

Nicholson stared back at him, lost for words. Krycek rose from his
seat and bade him farewell, "See you."


A brief visit to the men's room later and Krycek was on his way to
a rendezvous at a crowded gate.

"Mouse blond suits you. Is it your natural color?"

Scully scowled as she turned to face him. He quickly pulled her
into his arms. "Come on, Mrs Hardy. You've got a job to do."
Acknowledging his words, she attempted to feign relaxation, stiff
and unnatural but presumably the best she could do.

She took a step back, looking at him intently, smiling sweetly, her
voice dropping to a seductive murmur for her reply. "Don't ever
touch me again." She upped the wattage of the smile to something
beyond sweet. "Your hair's not much to write home about, either."

He leaned in to whisper in her ear and was gratified by her shudder
as she tried not to flinch away. "My hair? You supplied the wig."

With Special Agent Dana Scully traveling to New York accompanied by
her partner Mike Nicholson, Mr and Mrs Hardy were free to enjoy a
trip to the parking lot and another change of rental car.

"So who's traveling with your partner?" It was worth calling
Nicholson that, just to see the way Scully's mouth drifted open to
let her breathe again.

"A friend."

"Female, I hope? I was worried it would be Frohike."

She ignored his suggestion. "How did the meeting with Mike go?"

"Perfect. He got us center-stage on two security cameras, nicely
melodramatic greeting, the obvious way that he slipped me the
ticket envelope. The way he made it look like he was trying to hide
it. You really don't deserve him."

Scully swallowed in acknowledgment. Krycek turned his attention
back to the road ahead. He was surprised when she started talking.
"Have you spoken to him?"

Ah, him. For Scully, there could only, possibly, be one him.
"Without you?" She gave a gasp of irritation and Krycek took pity
or maybe advantage as he spoke again. "I haven't had time. The
sooner we get to the hotel the better."

She nodded at the blur of movement outside the window and closed
her eyes. Another hour or so and they would be in Atlantic City.
Then, they'd see.







Your wish was granted.




Scully's here too.




I took the communicator away from Carver. We're lying low.




I'm right here, Mulder. How are you?




No. This is real.

We're really here.




======== Disconnected =========

Scully's hands shook with panic as she tried to keep on typing.
Krycek rested his fingers over hers. "He's gone. But he'll be back.
He was just surprised. He'll go away, process it, think up some
questions to test us out. Then he'll be back."

"But if he thinks we're just hallucinations?"

"Then we'll still be a hell of a lot more interesting to him than
the rest of his fantasies."

Skinner's laptop PC had been easy to adapt to the task. Krycek had
prepared the way a couple of weeks earlier when he'd downloaded the
palmtop's control files as well as Mulder's description of human
pre-history. It would have been a much tougher memory test if he
hadn't. Being this well prepared, Krycek found it easy to see
himself as a boy scout. He almost laughed at the idea.

Scully glared. "What?"

"Just wondering about Mulder's fantasies."

A final exasperated sigh from Scully and she was on her feet and
walking to the phone. A moment later and she'd ordered room
service, chicken salad for one.

This time it was Krycek's turn to look exasperated. "We're supposed
to be acting like a couple."

To his surprise, Scully was smiling when she turned back to him. "I
am. Ask Mulder."

Perhaps he would. Meanwhile, a little bit of distraction was in
order. He switched the TV to CNN, settled back in his chair, and
filled his eyes with visions of fashion parades on the New York

Scully sounded genuinely puzzled. "Why are you watching that?"

Krycek shrugged. "I'm trying to see if humanity is worth saving."






What's happening to you?




Mulder, it's me. Scully. Please. Try and talk to us.




Me. Talk to me.


And the child?


I wasn't sure what you knew.

I don't know how it happened, but -


How - doesn't matter. It's why.


Then talk to me. Help me figure it out.


It won't help her.



How do you know it's a her? I don't even know. It's too early.


Someone's been talking to you?


It doesn't matter.


What have you been told? What did they say?

Is she in danger?

Is my baby in danger?


She's not your baby.

======== Disconnected ========



The bed rocked under Krycek's weight. He turned down the TV a
little, just enough to check that the shower was still running. It
was. He checked the time again. Over half an hour now.

Maybe he should be generous. Perhaps he could announce through the
bathroom woodwork that he was heading out to jog a few laps of the
motel parking lot and give her a more comfortable place to grieve
in private.

Not easy to break a woman like Dana Scully. Doubtless, given
sufficient time and space, Scully would pick up the pieces and put
herself together again. A couple of hours in hiding now and she
would be back on her feet and acting as if she was ready to fight.

Hard enough to lose Mulder. But to have some ghostly shadow of
Mulder calmly try to take her child from her, without so much as a
softening word? Too hard to face an audience, right now.

Krycek had always wondered if it would be Mulder who returned, or
one successfully reprogrammed by them. He resented the thought.
He'd hated Carver and the others for the way they'd expected
miracles, or at least a winning edge from Mulder. Yet, here he was,
repeating their mistake.

Bemused by the dying embers of the hope and idealism that he'd
apparently vested in Mulder, he saw no good reason to act with
gentlemanly respect toward Scully. He did, however, turn the sound
back up on the TV. What he saw a few minutes later on the headline
news was well worth the effort.

He was up on his feet in an instant and banging on the bathroom

"Hey!" He paused, listened for a response, knocked on the door
again. "Scully. Get out here. Mulder's just made an appearance on

Cursing the absence of a VCR with a good freeze frame, he started
to channel surf, looking for more news programs, pausing as he
arrived at the Fox news summary but finding only the wrong camera
angle on their coverage. "Scully, move it. They'll probably re-run
the item on the hour."

She'd stopped running the shower. She'd be out in a minute.
Whatever Scully had been doing in there for, he checked his watch
again, whatever she had been doing for the last hour, it hadn't
been showering. It wasn't as if she was going to need to fuss with
her hair. He heard the click as the door unlocked and kept his
mouth shut, a vague attempt not to scare her away.

The door opened, she kept her head down and her back to him as she
walked in some kind of sidestep to the chair. "What are you
talking about?" So pale that voice of hers, so tired, so broken.
She swallowed and Krycek almost swallowed in sympathy.

"Just watch."

"Tell me."

"I think I've just seen him. In a news item. About a fire at a
building in DC."

"What? Is he? He can't be. We were only talking to him a few
minutes ago."

An hour and an half ago actually, but who's counting? Krycek took
pity on her panic. "Looks like he's a witness, not a victim."

The news station went into their hourly headlines and Krycek saw
what he was looking for. "There, second row back."

"What? I didn't see.."

A VCR would be useful. Never mind, she'd pay more attention next
time. He shushed her, determined to pick up every word of the item,
even if he wasn't expecting much information.

"Suspected terrorist attack... Motives unknown... Cancer research
organization... Professor Alastair Lamb among the dead... FBI

Lamb? Someone had attacked Carver's crew. And Carver? Was he there,
too? Dead, too?

What the hell? Well, it had been obvious that Carver lacked what it
took to win, but even Krycek hadn't expected him to lose this
quickly. Unless allowing Krycek to steal the communicator had given
the final push to Carver's opponents. Surely not, surely if it was
just a push against Carver they wouldn't want his scientists dead,
they'd simply take over their contracts?

And Mulder?

What the hell would Mulder be doing there?

Getting his face on the evening news?

Scully was right, in a way. They hadn't spoken to Mulder so very
long ago. In fact, they'd probably been talking to him at just
about the same time that the news footage was being recorded.

Which meant that either they hadn't spoken to Mulder or that wasn't
Mulder on the TV or that Mulder was now free, but still chose to
communicate using the implant. He almost laughed at that, realizing
that having all those options available simply meant that he still
had no fucking idea what was happening.

Scully sounded like she was choking, like she was struggling for
air as well as looking for moisture to speak. "You're saying he was
stood outside there, watching the body bags coming out?"

Got it in one. Krycek nodded. "I guess you'll need to contact

They haggled over the contact details. It was a pleasant
distraction from trying to think about the implications of what had
been done or to speculate on what was happening now.

Their next attempt to contact Mulder by using the communicator
failed. Whether he was unwilling or simply unable to respond was
just another unknown to add to the steadily growing list.

It was another half-hour before the news item ran again, and this
time it ran without the background shots of the crowd. Scully
didn't even get a glimpse of Mulder. Whatever. She'd just have to
take Krycek's word on that positive ID.

Skinner's word too, as it turned out. Krycek hadn't been the only
person who'd spotted Mulder in the crowd scene. Skinner's next
words in the phone conversation had a ring of inevitability. "I
won't be able to keep it quiet. Mulder's disappearance got a lot of
coverage. His reappearance is news."

It was. Only a matter of hours later and it was television news. A
black and white image of a very young looking Fox Mulder taken from
his Bureau record posted for comparison purposes next to the video
camera images of a bronzed, healthy and satisfied-looking onlooker
at the scene of a terrorist attack.

Krycek decided Scully might as well hear the way his thoughts were
moving. "We should get back to town. If Mulder's there."

Scully's knuckles were chalk white against the burning red of her
cheeks. She said nothing.

Krycek took up the thread again. "Carver's dead. We should go

"Who killed him?"

Krycek sighed. Who indeed? Another faction of the conspiracy,
perhaps? Yet why kill Lamb and the others, why not just a simple
execution of Carver? The aliens then? Mulder? Or were those last
two actually the same thing now?

Whoever had done it was either not a threat, maybe just a new name
to negotiate with, or else they wouldn't let a little detail like a
side-trip to Atlantic City faze them. There was no doubt in
Krycek's mind that the aliens could home in on the communicator,
and pick them up any time they wanted. Did Scully see it that way?

He remembered that he hadn't answered her question and shrugged a
reply. "Whoever did it could find us if they wanted to."

She responded by raising her chin, her skin taut with useless
energy, her body sagging, worn out by her own imagination and fresh


Silence was not golden. At least, not as far as Alex Krycek could
tell. Three days had passed, three days and nights of waiting in
Mulder's apartment for someone or something to contact them. Three
days of living with Scully and whichever of her allies was
currently on duty. It was Mike Nicholson's turn to haunt the place

Krycek had even imagined at one point that Mulder might show up,
but he'd carefully avoided thinking too much about that.

Another 72 hours of silence from Fox Mulder. Maybe this really was
a new, improved Fox Mulder. One who could play the game right to
the limits. Maybe Fox Mulder was already dead.

If he was dead, maybe that was for the best. Maybe he wouldn't want
to live like this. It crossed Krycek's mind that if they ever met
again, it might be best for everyone, including Mulder, if he put
him out of his misery. Perhaps that was why Mulder had asked for
him as his go-between?

Go-between? Mulder hadn't spoken more than a couple of dozen words
since Krycek had reopened the line. All those risks he'd taken to
snatch it back from Carver. For what? So Mulder could prove again
what a useless, ungrateful bastard son of the conspiracy he really

Maybe if he kept thinking about it for long enough he wouldn't need
to convince himself that death was the kinder way out for Mulder.
Maybe it would be the only way out he would even consider offering

Krycek played again with the cool smooth lines of the Sig Sauer.
Weighing it, checking it for easy balance, he locked aim on the
target of the TV screen, enjoyed the sensation of his finger
itching to squeeze back. As his favorite news item appeared, he
forced himself to put the gun down and pay attention.

"The FBI's search for a missing agent has taken on heightened
significance in the light of an arson attack that killed eighteen
men and three women in Washington on Tuesday. The FBI says it is
investigating a number of possibilities, and that Special Agent Fox
Mulder, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances two months ago,
could have key information."

Krycek raised a cup of coffee in salute. The reporter's next
sentence nearly caused Krycek to spit a mouthful of the stuff
straight back out.

"We've learned through sources within the FBI that Agent Mulder was
working undercover a little more than a year ago. It's understood
that he was recruited by a terrorist organization and participated
in their activities. That operation led to the deaths of several
civilians, including a bank employee and a number of movie goers."

Krycek turned to look at Scully. She looked nauseated. She
obviously recognized the story.

"Agent Mulder was caught on CNN cameras immediately after the
attack and on security footage inside the building taken earlier
in the day. It's understood that he has made no contact with the
Bureau and that his whereabouts remain unknown."

All of this was coming hard on the heels of the other exposures of
Mulder's rather idiosyncratic record. Those reports included
Krycek's own article for the Enquirer in which he'd told them about
the alien abduction. Followed, of course, by Krycek's own debunking
report to the Star that had explained just how much trouble Mulder
had been in with the FBI accountants and with his own unmarried,
pregnant partner.

How was Krycek supposed to know just how much more dirt was waiting
to be dished? More than enough, apparently. He looked back at
Scully. "It looks bad."

She shook her head vehemently, replied through gritted teeth. "He
was talking to us when it happened."

"We can't prove that. Nothing that would stand up in court. Even if
we did, it wouldn't constitute an alibi, just that he could do two
jobs at once." Besides, was she really sure that she wanted "that"
Mulder, the one who had talked so calmly about the baby not being
hers, to be the real thing? Maybe she would prefer an avenging

Anger and despair warred across Scully's features for an instant
before resignation took their place. "The priority is to find him."

Ah, yes, of course. Scully the pragmatic. Krycek couldn't help but
admire her focus. Equally, he couldn't resist the urge to pull her
strings. "Sounds like we'll have to stand in line."

Nicholson was prowling, just about colliding with the walls of the
apartment, certainly making the place look very small. It was
Krycek who cracked first. "Sit the fuck down."

Nicholson turned round fast, looking as if he was considering
whether Krycek's request represented a sufficient excuse to launch
into a demolition. He stopped himself an instant later,
professionalism blurring the angry edge of his movements. The agent
shook his head and moved towards the kitchen, offering fresh
supplies of coffee as he walked.

The set-up was irresistible, so Krycek obliged. "You need more

Nicholson's hand fumbled with the handle as he opened the kitchen
door but he kept on walking.

Krycek turned his attention back to Scully. Her head was tilted
skywards, eyes closed, rotating her head gently and working on her
breathing exercises. He noted the stiff way she stretched,
obviously struggling against an aching back. Probably not even the
pregnancy's fault; he hadn't been feeling much different himself.

Hours of computer searches and hours of sitting around had left him
a mass of pent-up tension without any physical outlet. Maybe he
should go back to the gym? He'd have to do something soon.
Patiently waiting for someone else to make a move wasn't really his

Even if Mulder did get free, how the hell were they going to find
Mulder before the FBI did? It had been one thing when the Bureau
had been apathetic, but now they had a stronger motive and were
aided by an enthusiastic and suspicious media.

Skinner walked in through the front door just as Nicholson returned
from the kitchen. This was getting ridiculous. Didn't they have
homes to go to? Even if someone did want to make contact, what were
the chances of them wanting to make contact with four people? A
long way poorer than with just one.

Scully looked expectantly at Skinner, and Krycek shook his head in
dismay at her apparently endless ability to hope. He wondered
exactly what it was she was hoping for.

"Mulder's going to be put on the FBI's wanted list. Consider as
armed and dangerous. Approach with extreme caution."

Krycek had to respond, said it with scorn. "Approach who?"

"If they find him." Skinner tensed, breathed a little more deeply.
"When they find him."

"Where the fuck do you think he is? You saw him get taken. Have you

"He was seen in DC."

Krycek was on a roll now. Denial was one thing, but when it got in
the way of doing the work it was a luxury they couldn't afford. His
own doubts and hesitations vanished as he spoke. "Not Mulder. The
Bounty Hunter was seen in DC. He torched Carver and his goons for

Nicholson took advantage of the silence that followed to ask a
question "Bounty Hunter?"

And Krycek laughed, couldn't help it, didn't even see why he
shouldn't do it. Nicholson had been sitting in Fox Mulder's
apartment all day listening to him squabbling with Scully about
whether she thought Mulder had really been there for the arson
attack. And Nicholson had no idea why there should be any shadow of
a doubt!

Krycek snorted in the last of his laughter, and glanced up at
Nicholson, even as he directed his words towards Skinner and
Scully. "Mushroom man, huh? Keep him in the dark and feed him
shit?" He focused on Nicholson again. "Alien Bounty Hunters. They
do the aliens' enforcement work; keep their own troublemakers from
exposing the project."

"And he was helping Mulder?" Nicholson was struggling for
something, reaching for it. "Or are you saying he coerced Mulder?"

Alex could have started laughing again, but decided that Nicholson
deserved better. "The Bounty Hunter can morph, transform his
features to look like anyone. Anyone. Even Mulder."

Nicholson studied the other faces in the room. No one was laughing
now. No one even seemed likely to argue. He pushed his hands into
the solid wood of the chair back. "You're serious?"

There wasn't any need to respond, so Krycek turned his attention
back to Skinner. "You really think Mulder would do a thing like

Skinner shook his head. "It doesn't matter what I think. If he's
found." His thumbs pushed under his spectacles to squeeze away the
strain. "We've got to try and warn him. If someone else finds him
first. If he resists arrest. I..."

"You're a fucking Assistant Director of the FBI and you're telling
me you can't keep him safe from your own trigger-happy men?"

Skinner leaned against the wall, suddenly exhausted.

The softness of Scully's voice forced the room to attention. "Then
we'd better find him first." She waved at the communicator
currently masquerading innocently as Skinner's laptop.



Mulder, if you can hear us.


Try and answer. It's important.

====== Disconnected ========

The silence was oppressive.

The update from the Lone Gunmen did nothing to lift the mood.
Extensive analysis of the video tapes from the day of the attack
had shown that only a man who looked like Mulder had been filmed
wearing Mulder's clothes. Analysis of video footage from the days
after the attack had shown no sign of Mulder or his clothing.

The stealthy monitoring they were conducting of Mulder's favorite
haunts had yielded nothing. From his favorite take-outs to his best
loved bars, to his preferred jogging routes through the streets,
they'd done what they could to seek him out with personal or
electronic surveillance, but without success.

On a broader perspective, nothing of interest had come up on the
satellite scans or through the monitoring of DoD radar alerts. The
world was apparently business as usual. Indeed, the fact that it
was a slow news day was just making sure that Mulder's picture was
continuing to make its presence felt on CNN, little scraps of new
color gradually arriving to spice up the presentation.

"So." Krycek eased back in the chair, impressed as well as amused
by the latest TV revelation. "A dozen dead in a movie theater, a
bank employee, a couple of their own men executed and all Mulder
got was a dislocated finger! I didn't know he had it in him."

Scully had to leave the room.

Krycek looked across at Nicholson. "Having fun? Still think
Mulder's worth rescuing?"

Nicholson folded his arms and said nothing.



Mulder. Come on, man. I know it's hard. Just try





Yeah. How are you doing?




Tired? You're not just lying there anymore?


Tired. Of this.


Of talking to us?


Of them.



Come on.

Don't do this, Mulder. Talk to us.

I've got your friends here. Scully. Skinner. The Gunmen were asking
for you. Even Nicholson's here. Try it.


Let me go, Alex. I can't.


Mulder, don't you dare drop this connection. I'm going to put
Skinner on.


You've got to come back, Mulder.

Carver's dead, so is his gang. We've got no idea what it means. If
you don't come back, I don't think we'll find out. Not until it's
too late.


I can't. I can't DO anything.


Then talk to us, Mulder. If that's all you can do, talk to us.

There's a warrant out for you. You were on the security footage at
Carver's. You were on CNN's aftermath coverage. They think you did




Who did do it, Mulder? Why did they try and implicate you?


There's more than one faction.




The others want me discredited.


Keep going, why would one of the groups want to discredit you?


Or kill me. Or better still, get the Bureau to kill me.



Why now?


Because this faction want me as their spokesman.


So they do plan on letting you come back?



When they say I'm ready.


Make it soon.


I don't think I can do that.


It's me. Scully.

I don't understand. You have to come back.


No. You don't understand.


I need you.

This baby needs you.


Keep her out of this.


How? She's part of me.


Don't, Scully.

Don't talk about her that way.


How would you like me to talk about her?

======= Disconnected ========



Gone in 60 seconds. Scully was running before she'd even left
Mulder's apartment. Skinner was the next out of the room. Krycek
followed at a more leisurely pace, poking his head around the front
door merely to confirm that Scully had taken the stairs and not
stuck around waiting for the elevator.

Krycek pulled the door shut again and smiled at Mike Nicholson.
"Not joining the party?"

"Three's a crowd."

"Besides which, someone needs to watch over me and the computer?"


"You think she's going to be interested in talking to him again?"

"I'm giving her the option. And him."

"Ah. Mulder. Of course. You think he'd treat you any better than
they do?"

"Not your problem."

"Right." Krycek drawled. "You owe him." Then faster, allowing the
first tickle of irritation to creep in. "You don't even know him."
Then softer, almost apologetic. "Scully hardly recognizes him. I'm
not even sure that I know him anymore."

"I know enough. They've got Mulder and they're fucking with his
head. You think I should walk? Maybe that's what you would do."

"I'm still here."

"Yeah. That's the bit I don't get."

Krycek's eyebrows quirked an acknowledgment. "Let's try him again."


Mulder. It's me, Alex.

It's ok. They've gone. It's just me.

Just talk to me.

Mulder. Tell me what to do.

That's not an offer I'll make twice.


I can't.


Can't talk to me?


I've got to focus. They get in my head.


You mean, if you talk to us, they can get to you?


It opens me up.


What do they want you to do?


Work for them.


Lie to them, Mulder.

Tell them you've seen the fucking light. Just get the fuck out of


Tell them you're a fucking missionary for them.

Tell them you'll fuck a missionary for them.


God. Krycek. Stop.


Why? Does it hurt when you laugh?


Why am I listening to you?


Right. So, what do you want me to do?


The baby. They've got plans.


That they want you to carry out?


Don't let me do it. Don't let Scully do it.


I need more clues.



Get back here, you fucker.


========= Disconnected =========


All Alex Krycek needed. Mulder the code-talker meets Mulder the
whiny-assed little prick. How the fuck was he supposed to get
anything meaningful out of that?

Nicholson's voice boomed out across the room, finally catching
Krycek's attention. He spun around to face him. "What?"

Nicholson waved his hands in a conciliatory calming gesture, which
just infuriated Krycek all the more. Krycek's fingers folded into a
fist. "Fuck you." He paced. Tense beyond reason or care, just about
up on his toes and preparing to run.

He slammed the prosthetic hand into the wall, amused for an instant
by the fact that he apparently still had the control not to do
damage to real flesh. Then angrier still because the noise it made
as it hit its target was the sound of plastic cracking. Fuck it.
Fuck Mulder. Fuck the lot of them.

He turned back to face the computer and instead saw the brick wall
barricade of a mean looking linebacker. A time to explode? Throw
the high voltage switch and erupt properly. He didn't. Shaking his
head, he turned away, angry that Mulder had made him lose his cool.
Furious that it had occurred in front of Nicholson.

Did Mulder know the sort of power he had? He'd made Scully cry.
He'd got Carver killed. He'd made Skinner feel helpless, done a
better job of it than a veinful of nanites had. He could even get
Alex Krycek angry. Fucking angry. Plastic wrist-joint breaking

And Mike Nicholson still thought he was worth talking to? Shit.

It'd be comical if it wasn't so fucking pathetic.

Krycek sucked in the last of his adrenaline to store up as fuel for
another time, threw back a dismissive hand. "He's a fucking

Nicholson twitched back to attention, then instantly relaxed,
recognizing that Krycek's mood had changed. "What took you so

And Krycek shook his head and didn't laugh, but came oh-so-fucking
close. "Guess my memory's fucked."

Nicholson took a deep breath, his jaw tensing as he recovered his
poise, and Krycek saw the way his fingers flexed and didn't want to
see that and be reminded of Mulder. Krycek almost smiled then,
murmured discordantly sharp words. "Why are you here, Nicholson?"

"I've been a hostage, too."

Krycek nodded, slow, pessimistic. "Yeah, I read that, and that
Mulder's profile got you out. Does he know?"

Nicholson shrugged. "I've never met him."

"Shame, he could have used some friends while he was..." The word
hung on Krycek's tongue. Alive. Dead. What was Mulder now? "While
he was here." Krycek nearly lost it again at that. Who was talking
in code now? "I've gotta get out of here."

He did, really did. Away from Mulder's couch, Mulder's TV, Mulder's
fish, Mulder's fucking miserable existence. Why hadn't he just
taken the money back at the Watergate Hotel, the first time Carver
had offered it? Bought himself a fucking yacht and headed for the
clear blue water and the shimmering horizon.

Should have saved his energy for dancing on their graves.
Everybody's grave.

He didn't want Mulder's apartment and he sure as hell didn't want
Mulder's life. What the hell was happening to him here?

As for Nicholson? He was becoming a problem, too much like having a
conscience as a shadow.

Hell. Krycek studied the four walls of his new prison. He was in


Skinner's arrival was a welcome break from what was rapidly
becoming so addictive and compulsive a task that Krycek wondered if
it qualified as automatic behavior. Watching CNN news, every hour
on the hour, was not a very productive or satisfying use of time.
But what other option did he have?

Perhaps Skinner could provide a little entertainment? Krycek tested
the water. "I spoke to him again." Skinner swallowed and Alex
paused to enjoy it, before adding. "He's losing it."

"What did he say?"

"He's worried about the baby. He doesn't trust himself not to lose
himself to them."

"Sounds reasonable."

"It's the way he says it."

Skinner tilted his head and it looked like a demand or maybe an
order, and Krycek could almost remember standing in his office,
with a bad haircut and a worse suit. Another flicker of a memory
closed in, Mulder's tense little smile before he pulled some new
stunt so far out of line that it was just as well that Skinner was
already bald.

Krycek nodded, almost affectionate. "He told me that I might have
to stop him from carrying out their plans."

Skinner's head shifted again, and his hands spooled open in a
gesture that suggested that he thought that sounded like a
reasonable idea, too.

Reasonable? Skinner thought it was a fair response? Krycek sighed
before continuing. "He thinks I may have to stop Scully, too."

Skinner's gaze faltered, and Krycek was relieved that at least that
idea was just as outrageous as it had seemed to him.

Which left open only one question. Where exactly was Scully?

Skinner looked vaguely embarrassed as he tried to fill in the gaps
between Scully's sudden dash for freedom and now. Krycek was well
aware that he was only getting part of the story.

Interesting to note that Scully had allowed Skinner to drive her
home. Worrying to hear that she had accepted the need to eat a real
meal, and to get a proper night's sleep in her own bed. How low did
she have to be feeling to agree to that? Not surprising, really.

Absolutely predictable though that she had agreed to take a night
off, only because Skinner had told her that he would be spending
the night at Mulder's, guarding the computer. Skinner took a deep
breath, drawing his shoulders square and sent Nicholson home.

"Cozy. Just the two of us." And Krycek tried not to resent the way
that they could take shifts, could find a time to breathe among it
all, wind down enough at least to take a shower and find a change
of clothes without keeping one eye on the computer. Whereas, he was
just one man alone.

Skinner had even taken over the management of the TV remote

Krycek's eyes tracked Mulder's fish as they dipped and dived
through their tiny universe. Was it true that they had no memory?
That every frond of artificial greenery was discovered afresh, over
and over again. And the jokey journey of the plastic spaceship as
it bounced up and down thousands of times a day, was it still a
joke for them?

Prisons came in many shapes and sizes.

Mulder's bedroom was no better. Too quiet. Too soft. Too little to
distract Krycek from its absent owner.


In the morning, Scully spoke softly and carried a big stick. Krycek
admired her nerve.

She spelt it out for him. Asked. No. Demanded, that he get Mulder
on the line.

Krycek had to remind her that it didn't work like that.




I'm putting Scully on.


Mulder, it's me.


I'm not angry. I just need to understand.


===== Disconnected ======

It was the first of many such non-conversations.

When Skinner arrived for the evening changeover, they'd already
tried and failed 18 times. Just about every half-hour. Scully's
expression had scarcely changed. Dogged, Krycek decided.

Krycek was considering a breakout of his own. Only the fact that he
had absolutely no idea where to go was stopping him.

Realization had taken a few days to dawn. No one was coming for the
communicator. The Carver debacle had scared off the rest of the
conspiracy wannabes. No cash offers. No goons with big guns. The
only people who wanted to talk to Mulder were here in this room.

And even Krycek couldn't remember why.

Skinner, damp-eyed and restless, was roaming the apartment, making
the space look even more cluttered. Powerless to intervene or act,
Skinner tried to explain just what might happen if things didn't
work out.

Mulder was now solidly positioned as the prime suspect in a
multiple homicide. If he was released by "them," then it was
important that "we" knew exactly when and where. If Mulder was
found by the wrong people, if he panicked or ran when strangers
tried to restrain him, then Skinner couldn't guarantee a happy

Krycek sighed. "Tell us something we don't know."

To Scully, the words were apparently just a reminder of how limited
their options were. "Try again."



We need to talk to you.





Or won't?


It opens me too much.

======== Disconnected ========

Mulder's bedroom was quiet, a safe haven really. While Skinner and
Scully bickered and brooded over who needed sleep more and whether
they had homes to go to and who needed to be in the office in the
morning, Krycek had made a decision of his own. He went to bed.

While the decision had been easy, the reality of falling asleep was
not so straightforward. Mulder's words tumbled over themselves,
disconnected clues in a crossword puzzle without a grid to place
them in.

Yet, there was a pattern. Somewhere. It nagged at him, tugged his
sleepy brain away from rest.

Maybe he was looking too hard for cryptic clues. Maybe Mulder was
telling it exactly as it was.

What if it was true? What if communicating with him really had
opened Mulder's mind to "them." It was consistent. Mulder hadn't
had much information at first, but he had talked. The more he'd
talked to "them," the more he'd talked back to us, even to Carver.

Had he felt himself slipping under their control? Did he feel his
control slip a little more each time the link opened? Had he
discovered the principle during those days of enforced silence when
Carver had lost the connection and Krycek hadn't yet restored it?
Was that why they'd allowed him to talk all along?

Speculation was hopeless, pointless really. What were his chances
of explaining it when Mulder couldn't? Mulder could just be off his

Krycek slithered deeper under the covers, forcing his body to
consider sleep even though his brain wouldn't. Something had to
give, and it wasn't going to be him. Mulder could be gone for
months. Could be gone forever. When would it be time to move on?
When Mulder stopped replying completely? How many days of silence
would be enough to declare it over?

Maybe he should stop thinking about Mulder at all. Maybe the
silence that had fallen over the other conspirators since Carver's
death was indication enough that the game was up.

Hundreds of times before, he'd considered grabbing the computer and
making a run for it, and had only rejected the move because he
couldn't come up with a destination. Maybe he should just cut his
losses, leave the communicator to Scully, and walk away?


Scully's dismay, when Krycek dropped the link after just two
tentative requests for Mulder to respond, swiftly turned to anger
when he confirmed that he would do the same at the next attempt to
make contact.

He watched her as she paced, rising up on the balls of her feet
like an angry cat, her back arched and her neck tense. She demanded
an explanation, hissing ill-tempered threats and growling promises
to make him pay for all his sins.

With the leather jacket he'd borrowed from Mulder's closet to keep
him company, Krycek announced that he was going out.

Scully moved to bar the doorway, drawing her weapon to reinforce
her threat.

Krycek shook his head, frowning as he pushed past. "Lucky I like
you. That kind of move could get you killed. See you later."

He understood her frustration, of course he did. He even
acknowledged that there was something very appealing about the idea
of shooting your way to compliance and cooperation. Still, she had
to learn that such unconsidered outbursts had a price.

His original intention had been to take a short stroll, grab a
little breakfast, pick up a newspaper and wander back. A brief
respite from the sensation of being under house arrest, even when,
consciously, he knew that he was free to walk whenever he chose.

Now he had to come up with something else to do with the rest of
the day. What was it to be? Something for which someone would pay
cash? He shook his head, knowing that that was just fantasy. Mulder
was interfering with his thoughts, nagging at him, snapping at his
heels every step of the way. Serious work on a day like this would
be a recipe for disaster.

Enough, today was going to be a holiday.

He came up with a plan, of sorts. The gym. The one that he'd
assumed was out of bounds. Not anymore, no reason to think that
anyone would be interested. If they couldn't be bothered to show up
at Mulder's, why stake out anywhere else? Losing his celebrity
notoriety had its advantages.

His body would enjoy the workout. He stretched in anticipation,
felt heat build in one shoulder, a reminder of just how many knots
his muscles were tying themselves in. Got to keep moving. He
shivered against the double meaning and pushed open the doors to
the gym.


The exercise had been good for him; his spirits had risen with
every weight he'd pressed. He was ready for the welcome committee
that had assembled in Mulder's apartment.

It cheered him to see the mix of confused emotions in their eyes.
Anger and relief warring, as the group looked for the most
appropriately insulting epithet, the most brazenly implausible

Good. They'd need all that adrenaline to deal with what he was
about to tell them.

"We have to let Mulder choose when to talk."

Scully almost choked. "He's not in a position to choose. If we
don't make him talk -"

"Make him? Got some new threats up your sleeve?"

"He needs us."

Krycek scowled, and headed for the kitchen. This was not a
conversation for an empty stomach. He rifled through the contents
of the refrigerator and sniffed back the sudden laughter that rose
in his throat. If Mulder were to walk through the door right now,
he'd assume he was in the wrong house.

All that food and nothing to eat. What the hell, maybe he should
turn around and head straight back out through the front door. Had
he been living on this crap? Had he really been so fixated on the
Holy Grail of talking to Mulder that he'd even forgotten to eat? Or
at least forgotten to look at what he was eating.

Bee pollen?

Whatever. Krycek smiled at the heavyweight hovering in the doorway.
"Yo. Mike. Having fun? They feeding you this shit, too?"

Nicholson nodded. "Why? You considering a trip to the restaurant at
the Watergate?"

Was that what he was considering? Why? It would only be out of
petulant malice if he did. "Chinese. 4 on the speed-dial."

Krycek made a quiet return to the living room and was rewarded with
a vision. Scully was leaning forwards on the couch, resting her
hands on her knees, eyes closed. Skinner was whispering softly in
her ear and stroking her back.

"Not disturbing anything, am I?"

Skinner gave a frustrated gasp as Scully pulled sharply away to sit
up straight and try to act alert. Skinner stood up, suddenly
uncomfortable at his proximity to her and the presence of an
audience. He cleared his throat and focused on Krycek. "Open the
line to Mulder."

"It's not a good idea. He seems to think that talking to us makes
him lower his guard."

"Did he say that?"

"Not precisely."

"Then let's ask him. Direct question. One word answer."



Skinner wants me to ask you a question. Does talking to us make you

Mulder, just a yes or no.


======= Disconnected ========



"As I said. He doesn't want to talk."

Skinner slammed the flat of his hand into the wall. "It might just
be the wrong moment."

"We've had days of wrong moments. Do you see a pattern emerging?"

"Look, Krycek. If you want to give up, then go. Just tell us the
command sequence and go. You've got everything you wanted from us.
Face it, no one's going to show up here waving a blank check under
your nose."

They were telling him to face it? Right. Like they were facing it?
Krycek grabbed the TV remote and tuned the rest of the room out.

A few hours later and Alex Krycek was feeling better than he had
for weeks. Better than he had since the link to Mulder had gone
live. A little fresh air, a little exercise, a meal of his own
choosing, and all topped off with a few beers.

Skinner's question was a fair one, but redundant. He'd asked
himself the same question hundreds of times without getting past
the idea that if he walked away, then he wouldn't know what he was

Passive resistance, then. From now on, he was working to his own
timetable. He rolled the cool beer across his forehead to ease the
tension pain that was building. Maybe he was kidding himself, maybe
the timetable was Mulder's.


Krycek woke up the next morning with the sort of ache in his
shoulders that reminded him why he really shouldn't sit around all
day. One little trip to the gym and he was hurting. The last couple
of weeks had been like some kind of voluntary journey into sensory

No more.

The sound of voices in the living room caught his attention and he
concluded that the time was right for a grand entrance. The sight
that greeted him nearly sent him straight back to bed.

God. The expression on Frohike's face was a sight to behold. Did
the fact that he'd just emerged from Mulder's bedroom make matters
worse? Krycek himself had been amused by the insistence on neutral
territory, guards around the computer, and the overly polite
refusal of preferential treatment that had led to the situation
where Scully had rejected the bed in favor of a cozy tete a tete on
the couch with A.D. Skinner.

Her problem. Her choice. Krycek smiled, Mulder would be outraged.
Frohike already was.

Frohike was sizzling. "You can leave now."

Krycek tossed an, "I know," over his shoulder and made his way
directly to the kitchen.

Scully's voice had an edge of triumph. "He means it."

Krycek tried to read between the lines, but decided not to let it
distract him from the more urgent matter of making coffee.
Realization struck as soon as he walked into the living room and
looked at the computer; Byers was typing. Fuck.

How? The question must have been audible, though Krycek hadn't said
a word.

Scully replied, more than just an edge of triumph now. "We worked
it out."

Nothing like stating the obvious to make the adrenaline buzz. How
many hours had they put into recording the right keys to push?
Krycek studied the room, keeping Frohike in his peripheral vision
as he did. The video camera lens would have been effectively
invisible, but for the catch in the Frohike's breathing as Alex
moved over it. Amateurs.

Amateurs? So what did that make him?

Krycek ran quickly through his options. It made him exactly the
same man that he was this morning, but without the burden of
listening to Dana Scully's whining about calling Mulder. Good.

He smiled, wishing them luck with a shaky movement of the head.
"Has he replied?"

Frohike didn't like the mockery. "We've only just started."

"And if I'm right?" Even Byers turned away from the computer to
look at Krycek. Krycek let his voice drop - low, fast and
insistent. "She didn't tell you, did she? Mulder doesn't want to
talk, he thinks it makes him easier to control."

Scully was the quickest to react. "He's alone, he's prey to every
doubt, every fear. He's losing us, losing himself."

"Right now, losing himself might be the kindest thing."

His audience growled angry mutterings about Stockholm syndrome,
brainwashing and sensory deprivation.

And he found himself wishing that they'd tell him something he
didn't know. Funny how the same facts could lead to opposite
conclusions. But then hadn't that been the story of Mulder and
Scully's partnership? He blinked hard to clear his thoughts.
Actually the story of their partnership had been of how conflicting
opinions could still allow unity in action. The exact opposite of
what was happening here.

Krycek spelled it out. "The best thing that could happen to Mulder
is that they discard him as untrainable, wipe his mind, pour a
bottle of bourbon down his throat and ditch him on the Beltway."

There was only the briefest of delays before Scully arrived,
standing right in front of him, spitting venom. "And then some cop
tries to arrest him? And what if he panics?"

Yeah. Well. There was that. But shouldn't she have more faith in
the cautious wisdom of American law enforcement? Still, there was
nothing Krycek could do to stop them, especially since Nicholson
had just arrived to offer professional backup. It was all up to
Mulder now. With any luck Mulder would just ignore them.

Which was just what Alex Krycek decided to do. They weren't going
to ruin his day. He was going out. One smile and a teasing shake of
the head as he left the apartment. "Later."


When Krycek arrived back that evening, the only things that had
changed was the mood of the protagonists and the name of the duty
guard. Skinner was back, Nicholson was gone. The Gunmen and Scully
were still huddled over a computer screen trying to come up with a
cunning plan to tempt Mulder out of his silence.

The air was stale and so were they.

Krycek opened the window. It wasn't as easy to deal with them.

Skinner looked as if he wanted to pick a fight. "Why are you back?"

Krycek shrugged. "Free phone calls, free cable, can you think of a
better place to stay?"

Was Skinner going to throw him out? For an instant, Krycek thought
that he might and was grateful for the distraction. When Skinner
lapsed back to apathetic disinterest, Krycek bowed to the
inevitable and asked the question he knew they expected to hear.
"Has he replied?"

They looked at him, and he could tell from their irritation that
Mulder had said nothing. He resisted the desire to cheer or scream
that he had told them so. After all, perhaps it was just that
they'd caught Mulder on a drugged-into-oblivion day.

He headed to the fridge; at least they hadn't drunk his beer.


On the second day, Krycek was ready to talk himself. He'd actually
started to wish he could will Mulder into talking, just for long
enough to tell them to shut the fuck up.

At least he had the gym, food, drink, the TV, a shelf full of books
and a fish tank to distract him from their incessant cajoling and
nagging. What did Mulder have? Fuck all. Krycek almost felt sorry
for the stupid bastard.

They were so sure of themselves, so dogged in their pursuit.

Every hour, on the hour, they tried again.

Dana Scully's one-sided conversation with a computer had been
underway for 5 minutes before Krycek heard her gasp. He groaned,
knowing what it must mean and dutifully headed over to watch the


Let me go.


We won't let you go. You've got to stay with us.


It doesn't work like that.


Then tell us how it works.

There's an arrest warrant out for you, we've got to make


Please. Let me go.


I can't do that. You don't understand how important -


No. You don't understand.

====== Disconnected ========

They argued, fast and furious at first, tapering down with
tiredness to slow and repetitive.

How long before it would be right to try again? Who should try
again? Where could they get an expert in de-programming?

Krycek found the debate hard to believe. "What? You think the
Moonies have got him? What if he's just telling you the truth?"

"Then, he doesn't have to face it alone."

Was there any common ground? Any possibility of unity?

Only if Mulder stopped talking.

Which he did. They responded by organizing a timetable. Nagging
would be strictly limited, at least two hours between sessions.
Even Scully would be scheduled to spend some time out in natural

Krycek was less impressed by the other element of the Scully care
plan. She was told that if she insisted on staying at Mulder's,
then she must take over his bedroom. Only Krycek and Scully voted
against the proposition.

A week passed.

Now what? How much longer? Scully would probably keep the pressure
on until she had the baby. A clean break would be possible then,
duty done, new worries taking precedence over the old.

The Gunmen had already retreated, only one Gunman a day now.

Skinner hovered, but the FBI expected its ADs to show up for work,
and he did. Outside of office hours, Skinner would take Scully's

Which left Krycek. Who had no masters, no guide and no deadline to
meet, but who felt apathy and defeat snapping at his heels. No
matter how hard he tried to make it all add up and fit into some
master plan, he could see no rationale for staying here. He knew
that he would have to leave sometime. Just, not yet.

It was on the tenth day that Mulder spoke again.




Who is it?


It's me. Scully. How are you?


Ready. I'm sorry that I couldn't talk.


I've missed you. So much has happened. We need to talk, to plan.


I know. But that should be face to face.




Watergate Hotel. Suite 473.

====== Disconnected ========

END of Disconnected IV

Joann -