An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
Prior to involving himself
with the militia group,
I glance up from the computer screen and catch him looking. "What?" I say.
Ché only shrugs and turns back to his sink full of dishes. He cooks when I come to visit, trying to make up for lost time. He picks a big pot off the counter and dips it into the suds. I go back to my work, catching up on Militia Boy's e-mails.
...whining about collateral damage but we're really just ants in the bigger picture, right? Move off a few decades and who cries over the woman who got run over by a car or the kid who died at four?
"Your 'revolutionary' speaks the speech of the speculative, Aleksei."
I look up again.
Ché pauses, mouth half-open, then turns to stare out the window above the sink. "A luxury available only to those who do not know life from experience."
"Bonehead ideology," I mutter in agreement.
But this is the stuff with real media value. It could be the make-or-break factor between getting recognition or not.
Pathetic would-be revolutionary. I punch the 'page down' key and push out a breath. "How much of this crap is there?"
The activity in the sink stops. "32k in text files. Sixteen weeks of correspondence. At your request."
His last words are spoken quietly, but distinctly enough to send a message. I frown and wait a moment to look up. His back is to me. He picks up a plate and rubs a sponge across it. My eye catches on the apron and I smile. If I mention it, he'll protest that he gets busy, and anyway, the pocket's handy for a pencil and notepad. It's brown, made from towel material.
"Thanks," I say. "I owe you."
He picks up another plate, swipes the sponge over it, then takes another and another. One after another they clink onto the soapy stack in the other sink. The last one hits a little too hard.
"Sorry," he turns to say, as if this mess is his fault.
I return to the screen.
You think Tim McVeigh's name would be a household word if only a bunch of suits had died in that building?
In my mind a picture forms: the 'quiet room' at the orphanage, about the size of a good shoebox. I'm seven years old. The window's high up and there's no curtain in it; gray morning light pours through and glares off the gray walls and the scratched metal bed frame. I swallow. In front of me Vanya lies on the bed, almost colorless in the washed-out light. He's a year older than I am. I step closer, one careful footfall and then another. He isn't gone yet but he's close; he's got that stare. Each time I've slipped in here I've told myself I have to do it; I have to be able to look it in the face without blinking, like staring down a dog with bared teeth. How else will I survive?
When Vanya's breathing gets loud and ragged, I press hard against the cold wall behind me, wishing I could melt through it and into the hallway beyond. My heart bangs until my whole body shakes and my eyes are pulled up to the shivering leaves outside the window. I stare until they run into an abstract. Only when the room is quiet again can I look down.
I push back abruptly from the computer, cross the room to the window and stare down into the street below. People are beginning to cross at the intersection down the block, bundled in hats and long coats against the cold, but the day's bright, the sky an almost blinding blue. I turn away and go to stand beside the sink. I can hardly blame Ché for being pissed at having to play this stupid charade with Petersen.
I clear my throat. "You know I wouldn't have asked you to write to this scumbag if I didn't need it."
Sorry excuse for an apology.
"I know." He shrugs and turns away to study the pile of dishes in the drainer.
"Hey, these guys are going down," I say, quiet. "They're not going to do anything to anybody."
His hands go back into the dishwater. Little clusters of bubbles float to the hair on his arms and cling there. "No, it's necessary work," he says. "No pain, no gain, eh?"
He has this look all of a sudden, the lost look I saw on him when we first met at that gala in Prague, just a second's slip from the teenager's air of confidence and momentum that had carried him. I could have used it against him, what I saw there, or twisted it to some advantage, but instead I'd called in a couple of favors to get the kid to where he wanted to go--America. I had to see what it would do to a kid, you know--to step in and save him instead of step in and use him.
He turns to me now. The eyebrows go up and he forces a smile but his eyes are too shiny. "My father," he says finally. He shrugs and turns back to the sink. "The news came yesterday."
"They shot him?"
"It was inevitable, I suppose."
Something in my stomach tightens. My hand finds his shoulder. We stand like that in front of the window, watching a truck back into the alley on the far side of the street.
"I'd always hoped"--he shrugs--"to see him once more."
"Could've been worse, you know. They could've dragged it out." I feel the breath go in and out of me, empty. What would I know about a father you'd mourn?
Ché's shoulder tenses under my hand and I know he's going to need some space. I squeeze once and move away.
"He was just protecting my grandmother," I hear him say as I reach the hallway.
He's told me the story about how she got started, pulling some kid out of the way of a tank during the Prague invasion. How she kept going, whatever little bits of sabotage she could get away with. Eventually the secret police started to notice some of her work, though, and in the end Ché's dad had taken the fall to protect her. Someone from the old regime who still had influence behind the scenes had managed to add to the charges years later, part of a personal vendetta. His dad had been in prison since Ché was twelve.
I go into Ché's room, look at the bicycle next to the bed--the one he uses for runs to the grocery store or for errands. The front tire's flat thanks to a piece of glass he picked up on his last trip out. I turn the bike over and work off the wheel--quick release, just my luck. Rummaging through the desk drawers, I find the patch kit and sit down cross-legged on the carpet. When the door opens I'm sitting there on the floor, waiting for the patch cement to dry. I look up and shrug.
Figured you were going to need it.
That's what I'd planned to say, anyway. But when I open my mouth no words come. None are needed.
© bardsmaid 2005 |