An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
Scene: New Alliances
Freed from the missile silo, Krycek regains
First thing I'm aware of is sunlight on one side of me, but I can only feel it; I can't see it. I can't see a thing and my mind's in neutral, doing a lazy strobe that turns into a forward crawl as I will myself to focus.
When I try to move my head--that's when I notice the pain. My eyes are doing a slow smolder, like an old campfire. Same with my nostrils. There's no moisture at all in my mouth. I try running my tongue over my lips but it's thick, swollen and stiff and like everything else, it hurts. Finally I try moving an arm. It shakes like an old man's, but I manage to get a finger to my lips. I wince at the row of scabs I find.
It's not cold here; that's something at least. The last thing I remember... It had something to do with cold. I remember being way too cold, and...
Footsteps that have paused in the doorway come closer. My heart jerks, then stumbles ahead and I grab for something. My hand lands on the edge of a pillow and squeezes hard.
"How are you feeling?" It's a calm voice--woman's voice. Nobody I recognize. My guess from the fact that I'm lying here feeling the way I do is that she's either a doctor or one of the old man's minions. I'm hoping it's not the second of the two.
"Bet--" Can't get it out. I've felt better but I guess that's a given. "Water--"
It comes out as a croak. Luckily she gets the message because a few seconds later something's being spread across my lips to moisten them and then I feel the end of a straw.
"Take it slowly," she says, and I try but I still manage to choke. My throat burns afterward, but I reach for the water twice more before she takes it away.
"Where am I?"
She eases me back against the pillows when I try to sit up. "You're safe."
For a moment there's silence. My heart rate spikes. Wherever I am, I'm in no shape to make a getaway.
"Only three of us know about you. Apparently there are people who would rather do away with you, but they won't find you now." A pause. "Your body may carry some very valuable information."
So there it is, the reason I'm here and not... wherever I was. I'm merchandise.
I loosen a little in spite of myself.
She's walking around to the other side of the bed now, and while I'm wondering who's got me this time, and how, and where, I hear drapes or curtains being drawn. Then she's back beside me again.
"I'm going to check your eyes now." She leans in close and peels away what feels like tape. "I've drawn the curtains. Let me know if the light is still too much for you." A pause. "Your condition has improved quite markedly in the last couple of days, but you're probably going to find your appearance a little disturbing. You might want to wait a while before you try looking in the mirror."
I flash on an old guy I knew in Moscow--ex-spy who'd been doused with battery acid, a guy with a face like twisted clay--and find my fingers tangled in a wad of sheets. The gauze comes away and is replaced by her hand.
"Alright, Mr. Krycek. Try opening your eyes. Slowly."
I do it. Slowly. The light--what little there is of it--makes my eyes and head throb, but the feeling passes for the most part after about fifteen seconds. I'm in a bedroom, not a hospital room. The bed is a four-poster with a thick pine frame. A picture hangs on the far wall, a little girl reading--Manet or something. I glance at the wall switches, the outlets, the door knobs. I don't remember clicking my heels, but it's pretty obvious I'm not in Hong Kong anymore.
I look up at her. She's got short blondish hair bordering on gray and looks to be about fifty. I shrug. "Not too bad." I can feel my eyes watering, though, and she leans closer and wicks the wetness away with the corner of a tissue.
"It's a good sign, Mr. Krycek--the tears. It shows the ducts are functioning properly. From what we can tell, the substance damaged only the soft tissue surrounding your eyes, leaving the nerves and retina int--"
She moves my hand where I've grabbed her arm and sets it back down on the bed calmly.
"How long have I been here?"
"Mr. Krycek, you've been through what appears to have been a very... traumatic physical situation. I don't have all the answers about your condition--certainly not about the substance itself. We're looking into it, to learn what we can. But you need to relax. Let us help you."
People don't have a habit of going out of their way for me. Obviously nobody's clued her in.
"Look up," she says, taking my chin in her hand. "At the ceiling. Then you won't find the light so invasive."
She's got one of those little flashlights. I look up the way she tells me to and she shines the light in my eyes, first one and then the other. The light switches off. I look at her.
"As I said, your progress looks very positive. And we'll have lab results soon--perhaps tomorrow--that will tell us more about how your body's been affected, and--" She leans in suddenly. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm..." Truth is, her light's made me remember flashlight beams cutting through a very dark place. Dark, cold place. Somewhere I've been recently.
She's still eyeing me.
"I'm okay." Or maybe not. It was cold and dark and...
She shakes her head. "I'd have to classify that as an overstatement. But you must have questions." She heads for the door but turns back. "I'll send Mr. Davies in to talk to you. Unless there's something you need right now."
I shrug. Haven't gotten that far yet--figuring out what I need.
She disappears into the hallway and I close my eyes, straining to remember where I've been and what I've been doing. I see flashlights again, cutting through the dark. When the Brit arrives, he finds me cowering in the corner like a wounded animal. I've remembered the Oil pouring out of my face.
"Mr. Krycek--" He bends down over me and suddenly I recognize the voice I'd heard when they found me.
I only half look at him. I'm shaking like a leaf and he has to go retrieve the doctor. It takes both of them to get me back to the bed and even though they're on either side of me, holding on, the Oil comes between us, streaming and dripping as if it were actually on my skin again. I tell myself it's only in my head, nothing but a mental picture, but it makes me want to run--anything to get away from it--and I'm panting so hard I start to get lightheaded. I can't tell what they're saying to me; my head's full of static, and then a bag's shoved in my face, the doctor's saying breathe, breathe and I want to gag--want to take off--but I make myself sit there and breathe into the bag.
After a while I notice a hand on my shoulder, rubbing it, and I realize the Brit's backed off. Gradually it all fades--the pictures of the Oil, the sensation, as if it's liquefying my organs and taking them out with it--and for a moment everything goes completely silent. I shiver and then start to shake. The doctor makes me lie down, pulls the covers up over me and adds an extra blanket. She puts the IV back in my arm. I didn't even know it was there until I ripped it out scrambling to get away from the private little horror show in my head. A needle goes into the IV line and pretty soon I feel myself starting to go cloudy.
When I come around again, the Brit and the doctor are standing in the doorway, talking quietly. The shadows in the room have moved, so I guess I've been out for a while. She comes in and puts a hand against my forehead but she doesn't go for the thermometer on the bedside table. She offers me a drink like before. The water's clear and sweet and while it slides down my throat the memory comes back to me--the scene I made earlier and what I must've looked like. It's going to take more energy than I have to invest, though, to be embarrassed. I work to clear my head.
The Brit waits for the doctor to leave before he says anything. When she's gone he pulls up a chair. For all I know he's here to take me back to the old man, though I'm not about to let him see me panic. He's seen enough already.
"Do they know about me?" I ask.
He doesn't look at me quite squarely, as if he's uncomfortable at having been a witness to my little freak show earlier.
"No." He shakes his head. "Nor will they be hearing about you from me; you can rest easy on that account. The fact is that my life would be in danger if they knew I'd saved you." There's a sincerity in his voice he hasn't bothered to hide. I think he's telling the truth.
"Where was I? How did you find me?" And why--that's the biggest question. "How long have I--" I check for my watch. Naturally, it's gone.
"It's the 22nd, Mr. Krycek. March 22. You've been with us five days. I daresay at first we weren't entirely sure you were going to pull through, the effect of the cold--"
I reach for the glass on the bedside table and manage to bring it to my mouth, sip a little water and get the glass back to where it goes without spilling it. My head's starting to clear.
"Where was I? Where are we now?"
"What do you remember?" He leans forward and I file the sequence away for future reference. He may have saved me but he's in this for the information.
I close my eyes. "Hong Kong. Last thing I remember... Mulder'd found me and we were at the airport. He hit me in the face with the phone, gave me a bloody nose. Then he sent me into the john to wash up and--" I shake my head. "Then I was in some big place in the dark, cold as hell and I thought I was having a nightmare--" I stop abruptly, take a deep breath and wait for the icy fingers gripping my gut to let up. Anyway, I'm not about to tell him that the Oil's been lurking in the back of my dreams since I was eleven. He knows nothing about my history. I force myself to think back to the airport. "The thirteenth. That's the day Mulder and I were in Hong Kong."
"And this... place you were. In the dark. There was an alien ship in it?"
I reach for my memory of the dark place--carefully--but as soon as I see the ship I can feel the Oil again, on the verge of pouring out of me. I curl away onto my side and almost retch. Panic floods me but I grab for a focus, the latch on the window, and I study every surface and angle as if the force of my stare could burn layers off it. Finally the panic eases. I can hear myself panting, low and steady, like a settling dog. When I finally turn back, the Brit looks beyond me, out the window, and clears his throat.
"My apologies, Mr. Krycek. I had no intention of--" He nods toward the hallway. "She'll reprimand me, no doubt, for disturbing you." He stands. "Perhaps you should rest again. I'll have Dr. Phillips come check you once more."
He sets the chair back against the wall and turns to leave.
"There was a ship," I say, giving him what he'd asked for. Maybe it'll encourage him to keep me alive.
The next time I wake up it's nearly sunset. The curtains are pulled back and I must have an east-facing window because I can see pink-tinged snow on mountain peaks in the distance and above them, darkening sky. The doctor's sitting in the Brit's chair, watching me. I wonder where he picked her up; she doesn't seem to have the right edge for the kind of games we play. I'm groggy at first. We talk for a couple of minutes; apparently she's a researcher straining at the confines of academia, looking for something more--significance, something where she can tell she's making a difference. Maybe the excitement of something new. Well, she's in for a lot more than she bargained for here, but I'm not about to pop her bubble by telling her so.
After a few minutes she lets me sit up. We talk about the painting on the wall. She tells me about spending a summer in France, about visiting Giverny. When she sees I can handle myself if I take it slowly, she lets me go into the bathroom, though she waits outside the door after pulling it nearly closed. I do okay until I pull the handle and flush. Actually, the mistake is glancing at the swirl of water circling as it goes down. Almost instantly the swirl becomes the curl of Oil entering the top of the alien ship. I gag on my scream and find myself in the corner, biting down hard on the inside of my cheek to keep from making another sound. A second later she's there behind me, wondering what set me off, trying to coax me back to bed. I tell myself I won't do this, will not let a picture in my head control me this way, and I actually push the vision of the Oil back toward its dark corner. But I'm a mess. I stand there shaking like an idiot. Shit.
She gets me back to bed, helps me get my breathing under control and finally I'm able to calm down. She wants to know what set me off and I wish more than anything she'd just go away. But the reality is that alone I'm likely to be staring this Oil scenario in the face again--soon, from what I've seen already--my head buried in some corner the way it was a minute ago. I can't take the freefall feeling, so finally I tell her about the Oil streaming and the Oil crawling like worms, and I wait for her reaction. She's shocked but she's intrigued, too. She doesn't treat me like I'm nuts. Mulder'd like this woman. Maybe it's a good thing they don't know each other.
When Dr. Phillips suggests dinner, she promises to make sure they won't serve me anything that'll look remotely like the Oil I've described. I end up with a small plate but the food's good, all of it. My appetite's pretty decent in spite of everything and I guess that's a good sign. Nothing I eat reminds me of the Oil. Afterward she leads me down the hall to a living room and gets me settled in a recliner. We pass a mirror along the way but she makes sure to stay between it and me. There must've been a mirror in the bathroom, too, but I was too busy freaking out to notice. Anyway, one thing at a time.
She brings me an afghan, spreads it over me and takes her cue to leave. A minute later the Brit appears. This time he's got a ski sweater on. It breaks this picture I have of him in my head, where he even sleeps in a suit.
"I hear you're doing better," he says, taking a leather chair across from me and putting his feet up on an ottoman.
I nod but say nothing and then look away, out a window to where I can see the lights of other houses scattered on the same slope we're on. I'm still trying to shake the alternate reality feeling and the fear of being hit by another flashback. I'm in no shape to do much negotiating, but then nobody's giving me a choice.
When he doesn't say anything more, I look back. "So what's the deal? What value do I have to you?"
He clears his throat. "I felt the need to step out and take a gamble," he says. "Calculated gamble, Mr. Krycek. It's become very apparent that this is the time for such action." He glances down at his shoes, soft leather loafers that must have cost four or five hundred. The socks are cable-knit, nice.
"And I fit into your plans how?"
"That's what we need to discuss." He opens his mouth, pauses for a second, then leans forward and starts again. "How much do you know about the man who employed you, Mr. Krycek?"
I take a deep breath. "He recruited me in Russia eight years ago. I was... I'd been doing small stuff--embassy intelligence, stuff like that. I was looking for a chance to move up."
"And a chance to come to America, perhaps?" His eyebrows rise, as if he thinks he might have discovered something about me I don't already know.
"Yeah, sure." I shrug. "No matter what the propagandists tell you, everybody knows this is the place to be. Speaking of which--" I gesture toward the window.
"Colorado," he says after a beat. "This is a resort home I keep. Under another name, of course."
"Where'd you find me?"
"North Dakota. That was a missile silo you were in. Have you remembered anything more about it?"
I swallow and remind myself to breathe. "Not anything I want to. How'd I get there?"
"Apparently the Oil made its way from a submerged craft into a diver on a salvage ship. The diver went home to San Francisco, the Oil transferred itself to his wife--"
"Long hair? Brown?"
"Yes." There's almost a 'zz' on the end of it. He smiles. "She was found on the floor of an airport bathroom in Hong Kong. Apparently that's how the Oil made its way to you."
"Is she alive? What about the diver?"
"The diver has mysteriously disappeared... courtesy of your former employer, no doubt. The woman was taken to a Hong Kong hospital as a Jane Doe. When her identity became known, Mulder returned to question her but she remembers nothing, only her husband coming home unexpectedly."
"And other than her memory?"
"She's fared better than you, I'm afraid. Apparently your location near the ship, or the state of the Oil at finding its craft--" He shrugs. "Perhaps it got excited, hasty in its rush to reclaim the ship. The injuries you've suffered are very similar to what we've seen in those exposed to the green fluid."
He stops abruptly.
So hopefully I'm miles ahead of that guy with the battery acid makeover. I want to reach up, touch my face--reassure myself--but I make sure my hands stay where they are.
"I believe it's time to talk business, Mr. Krycek," he says. "To lay our cards on the table."
"You first," I say. "This is your game."
He gets up, pours himself a drink, offers me something the doctor's left for me, homemade eggnog without the rum. I've gone two long hours now without freaking out and every added minute is another victory.
"I don't take this step lightly," he says, settling himself again, taking a sip from his glass and setting it on a coaster. I bet he never gets a drop on the furniture. "The Project has been a well-guarded secret these many years, known only to the few. The participants were a close-knit group for reasons of security. As you can imagine, it would hardly serve us to allow knowledge of the work to spread to outsiders."
He reaches for his glass. I take a sip of my drink and wait to see where he's headed with this.
"Quite frankly," he says, setting his glass down again, "I've found your... former employer's modus operandi quite disturbing of late. Frighteningly casual. Far too many chances have been taken. Too many risks. The Scully affair, of which you were a part--"
He glances at me but there's no blame in his expression.
"You should never have been a part of that assignment, since you could be readily identified." He pauses and his eyebrows rise. "The matter of the salvaged craft. He moved it without our permission; we were informed only afterward." He stops for another sip of his scotch. "Assistant Director Walter Skinner of the FBI was shot by one of Spender's men; I don't know whether you were aware. It was a foolish move." He shakes his head and frowns. "And he offers only excuses for his actions, not compelling reasons. I'm afraid if he's allowed to continue on this... independent path of his, the Project will be undone. We'll be discovered and all our work will have been for naught. Certainly Mr. Mulder has been bearing down on us of late--"
"And you never know if Mulder'll spill the beans," I say. "Or if you could actually make him realize what's at stake. Not that he'd go along with us."
"Yes." He nods, thoughtful. "His father was like that, or came to be... a short-sightedness that could doom us all, though sincere."
"Not that you're looking at a lot of people saved in any event." I look him in the eye.
"No." He leans forward in his chair. "I realize I'm taking a chance here, Mr. Krycek. And I won't flatter you by saying that I chose you for reasons I didn't. It's safer to collaborate with someone who already knows about the Project. It lessens the risk of exposure. And I'm assuming you have no abiding love for our associate in Washington, so you aren't likely to be motivated to report my... pro-active investigation... to the group, or to him."
"No love lost here." I wouldn't pass the old man information if he were lying dead in front of me. If I did, he'd probably resurrect himself and use it against me.
"I've remained a member of this group," he says, leaning back slightly in his chair, "because I believe we have no choice. The coming invasion is fact. But I don't subscribe to the others' hope of an easy salvation. I don't see that we have any guarantee, or any cards to play, to keep the aliens from doing to us what they'll do to all the rest."
"Once we've given them what they want"--I shake my head--"it'd be insane to trust their word."
"Precisely." He smiles a little--not from the prospect of being double-crossed by the invading hordes but because he's talking to someone who sees it the way he does. Obviously it's been a while.
"Vaccine's the way to go," I say, leading a little. "Assuming you've got one that works."
His eyes widen but his mouth goes small and tight.
"He was wrong to tell you about the vaccine," he says, his eyes narrowing. "That information was to remain within the inner circle."
"He didn't. I figured it out for myself... when I wasn't shoveling shit and cleaning stalls for Charne-Sayre's horses."
His jaw drops. "You were there?"
"Don't worry. I wasn't spying for the old man, just keeping my eyes open. I'd just come to this country. He wanted me to get used to things here--you know, so I wouldn't blurt out something in Russian, say or do the wrong thing. Spent six months playing farm hand. It was five years ago."
His mouth pulls to one corner and then the other. He can't decide whether he likes my initiative or is worried that I might know he sleeps with the group's star researcher. Maybe he's just derailed by finding out that the old man set me up on the farm behind his back.
I reach for my eggnog, drink a little and ease my head back against the chair.
"The vaccine was Bill Mulder's idea," he says now, staring toward nothing in particular. "He may have been naively idealistic in one sense, but regarding our need for a defense he was far smarter than the others." He sighs and looks back at me. "He wanted to save the world if it were possible. Though we have yet to come up with a formula that will save even ourselves."
I manage to nod sober agreement, but inside I'm open-mouthed. No vaccine progress here, apparently. And Mulder's dad. What would it do to Mulder to know his father was more than just the pathetic old boozer he grew up with? I wonder if the old man's jealous that he didn't come up with the vaccine idea himself.
"It's possible, of course"--the Brit clears his throat--"that you yourself may prove to be a source of valuable data. Your current condition, any effects the Oil might have had on you, could provide us with vital information to advance the research."
There it is. I swallow and feel my fingers tighten against the chair arms.
"You didn't need my permission to turn me into a lab rat."
"No. I could have simply taken you and held you against your will." A pause. "Saving you wasn't without risk, either, as you may be aware. He may very well return to look for you."
For my corpse. My stomach does a little dive.
"And not finding your... remains..." There's a momentary pause "It's also probable that the aliens could have taken you. More plausible than your having escaped."
"More likely than someone letting me out?" But even as I say it, it makes no sense; who'd go back for me? Mulder wouldn't. And which of the old men would cross him by... "You don't think he's going to suspect you?"
"The only one who knew where he sent you was Mr. Cardenal, who is dead now."
"What?" I sit up a little straighter. "What did he have to do with this?"
"He was there when Spender gave the Oil you were carrying directions to the hidden ship."
I don't ask the Brit how he found out about Cardenal, or how it seems he was conveniently dead afterward.
"In any event, I've placed surveillance at the silo site. It's possible he may never return to see what's become of you, but if he does, we'll know to be prepared.
Something sticks in the back of my throat. "Good plan," I manage.
"Caution is critical. This is a long-term journey, Mr. Krycek. It always has been. I daresay you'll be useful more than just this once. And what can I do as one man alone outside the group? No single man can save us. I need a collaborator."
Inside, I smile. In spite of the way I
feel, in spite the flashbacks sitting on my shoulder just waiting
for me to drop my guard, I have to fight my mouth to hold it back.
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