An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
Scene: To the Edge
Krycek finds much more
than he bargains for
Three floors before I get to where I'm going, the last passenger--a fat little sausage of a man--gets off the elevator and leaves me alone, thank god. I need the space. Yesterday was a bust, the first four of the six leads on Che's list taking me exactly nowhere. Two more chances today and if they both wash out, I'm up Shit Creek.
I lean back against the wall and stare up at the light panels overhead. It could be a woman, Ché keeps reminding me whenever I refer to Mulder's contact as 'he', and he has a point, but for some reason I've got this picture of a guy in my mind; don't ask me why. Maybe just wishful thinking. Maybe I'm hoping I won't have to hassle with another woman like Maria Ivanova. At the moment, though, Ché's running a fifty-fifty chance because I have a woman from the U.N. and a Russian guy who teaches at Columbia left on this list. And I'm damn tired of this building and the stupid door-to-door routine but I don't see that I have a choice; I can't afford to call ahead and give these people the lead time they could use to set me up.
The elevator settles, I pull myself upright and wait for the door to slide open. Showtime.
The first sign I've hit the right place is the way her eyes widen suddenly when she sees me. But she hides her fear soon enough, everything smothered behind a cool exterior. She has a mannequin's stare. Gray eyes and pale lips fill the narrow opening where the door's ajar. Her look of recognition slips through me like an elevator starting down too fast.
"I need to talk to you," I say in my best match-the-suit-I'm-wearing voice. There are questions I need answered and whatever happens--however this turns out--I can't do anything out here in the hallway.
She purses her lips and starts to swallow but catches herself. "I thought you might come." Her jaw tightens. She makes no move either to open the door or close it.
My hand twitches in my pocket. I hope there's some nice, easy way to resolve this because I don't feel like shoot-and-run today. I'm out of the habit.
The seconds tick away.
"In my work, it's important to be thorough, Mr. Krycek," she starts suddenly. I nearly jump. "Understanding a situation, its background and implications. I believe we may have some matters of mutual interest to discuss." She pauses and pins me with those pale gray eyes. "Just a moment."
The door goes nearly closed. I suck in a quick breath of air but my heart's banging away like an empty drum. I feel like a spider suddenly pinned by a fly.
Or another spider.
A chain clanks out of its slot on the other side and the door swings open. She looks like she's just come from a treadmill or an exercise bike by way of one of those fashion magazines--navy leotard and tights and a gray sweater tied around her neck like a scarf, all of it setting off pale skin, pale blonde hair. The shoes are perfectly white, as if she's never worn them on anything but carpet. I want to toss her up against the nearest wall, press the muzzle of my gun into her neck and make her tell me what she knows, but I can't be sure she doesn't have someone waiting down the hall to pick me off.
She stands back. I clear my throat and take a step inside the apartment.
"If you found me, then you already know who I am," she says, looking up at me and holding her ground. After a second she turns and walks away into the living room. I stay where I am. When she notices I'm not following, she turns back. "There's no one else here."
"I'm supposed to believe that?"
"It's true." There's this way her mouth comes open before she speaks, so that every sentence starts with an 'ah' before the words come out. "Have a seat, Mr. Krycek. Wherever you feel most comfortable. Though I believe I'm the one in danger here. I doubt you came unarmed."
I search for bitterness or gloating, but her eyes don't give away a thing. "I came for information--"
"About anyone I know who might benefit from knowing you're still alive." A pause. "I understand your concern. Please, sit down."
She gestures toward chairs and couches like we're picking seats around a corporate conference table. I hate being led, and my gut's screaming at me to do something to switch the odds here, but I need the answers I came for. I take the few steps to the living room, glance around at my options and settle in a loveseat that gives me a clear view of all three entrances to the room.
"Spit it out." No sense letting her relax. "Whatever you've got to say."
"I work for the Special Rep--"
"I know who you work for."
She takes a breath and smoothes thin fingers over one leg of her tights. She's probably wishing she were wearing something that left her a little less exposed, but she has to know I'm not going to let her leave the room.
Or maybe she thinks the distraction will work to her advantage.
"Mr. Krycek, I know the man you're most interested in avoiding. I can assure you I'm not disposed to offer him any information."
Consortium woman. Figures.
"It's personal." She looks at me and past me at the same time. "Let's just say I hold no love for the man."
I almost smirk. The old man doesn't have any luck at all when it comes to getting people to feel sentimental about him. Wonder why.
I lean forward. "What about the others? Do they know about me?"
"I don't think so. As far as I know, they believe you died in a car bombing several years ago."
A bitter smile pulls at the corners of my mouth. I clear my throat. "What's your deal with Mulder?"
"He came to me. I don't know where he got my name. He asked me for help in tracing the diplomatic pouch to its source."
"And you had that kind of information?"
"I know where to get it. I have access. Diplomats and the things they carry leave trails of documentation."
"So you helped him. Why?"
Her jaw sets and almost wavers. She wants to get up off that chair. She wants to leave the room and get away from me--from this--but she doesn't let herself. She doesn't even look away. She's gutsy; I'll give her that.
"I recognized your name, Mr. Krycek, when Agent Mulder asked for a second set of diplomatic papers. I'd heard it before, in passing." Her mouth closes, then opens again. "You were in the organization long enough to understand the situation, what the future holds. Let's just say that in practical terms, the safety they speak of isn't likely to extend far beyond the board room. Agent Mulder--"
"Mulder, if he figured things out, would be running around trying to save every last orphan, widow and homeless guy on the planet." I shake my head, then shrug. "So that's it? Maybe you buy yourself a chance at survival?"
"Doesn't that make sense?"
Her voice isn't loud but the words penetrate. The room goes dead quiet. For maybe five seconds neither of us says a thing.
"So you've got no reason to mention me to the group. What's it going to take to make it stay that way?"
"Call off your vendetta against the Smoking Man."
My mouth falls open. "What?"
"Look, I don't know what kind of bad blood there is between the two of you, but leading Mulder to expose Spender's interests in Russia is more than just petty. It could be extremely dangerous."
"Whoa. Is this something Mulder--?"
"Agent Mulder was very upset. He said you'd tricked him into going there."
I start to open my mouth, but she goes on.
"Surely you must understand the stakes, Mr. Krycek. What chance do you think any of us will have if the colonists find out what Mulder learned?
"That research is going on there to find a vaccine."
"That's what Mulder told you? That they were doing vaccine research?"
"He said he was injected with something. And he remembers a black substance being dropped on him."
A shiver runs through me. For a second I can feel the slither of the Oil, clear as anything. Luckily she's glanced toward the coffee table and misses it.
She turns back to me. "Agent Mulder's comments aren't my only source of information about Tunguska, Mr. Krycek. I've known for a number of years that the Smoking Man has interests in that part of the world. Exposing his private project may serve your personal agenda, but the cost to the rest of the world could be incalculable."
I choke back a laugh. "You mean the cost to the half-dozen old geezers who sit in that board room. Like anyone else on this rock has a chance in hell."
This time she does get up. She circles the coffee table, goes to the window beyond the loveseat I'm sitting on and stands there with her back to me. My eyes trace the lines of her leotard, a distraction I don't need, so I turn away and focus on the details of the room. It seems too cozy for her. White furniture and carpets with chrome or blue accents, something sleek and modern and sterile--that seems more her style. She probably grew up walking around with a book on top of her head, too. She moves that way. She glides, and when she opens her mouth, the words slip out of her like they've been sanded and polished.
"What? You've got a plan?" I say.
"I've established a tentative infrastructure," she says, turning to me now. "Key people who are trustworthy. We were waiting for a working vaccine."
"And what, you were going to steal it from the group?"
"What would you do?"
After a pause, I shrug. "They deserve it."
"The group's work was beginning to see some limited success until--"
I almost speak but stop myself, aware of how easily I could end up with my foot in my mouth. "I heard about what happened to your researcher."
"And her work." There's a long pause. "After the invasion, it will take thousands of human lives saved, at the very least, to ensure any viable chance of rebuilding--of long-term survival--even if the aliens were to simply abandon the planet. But if we have to fight them--"
Her tone's gotten too earnest and she knows it. She stops, goes back to her chair and sits down. A kind of death row feel hangs over the room.
"You know what the timetable is?" I say, nudging the carpet with the tip of my shoe. "How much time we're supposed to have left?"
"Fifteen years. If you trust what we're being told. And if nothing goes wrong."
"Can't count on that." I stare at the leg of the coffee table.
"With the Smoking Man's vaccine, we could be ready. We could have a viable chance."
Poured out just like silk. Then it hits me.
"Wait, you're suggesting I steal the old man's vaccine?"
"You know where it is." She doesn't even blink. "What would it be worth to you to have a chance at a real future, Mr. Krycek?"
I should laugh out loud, let her think I think she's nuts, but I can't pull it off. I've been seeing the end since I was eleven years old, like flying over and over into a brick wall where each time you feel the pain and the terror but you never quite make it to the part where everything goes black and disappears. Something in my throat swells.
I swallow against the pressure. "It's in a Russian prison camp, for godsake," I say, my voice too dry. "You don't know what security's like around those places."
"How long have you been living with the knowledge of how human life will end, Mr. Krycek? Do you ever wake up having dreamed about the invasion?" She tries for another one of those impassive stares, but the corner of her mouth pulls and for the first time I see something behind those eyes besides Ms. Calculating Administrator. There's a woman in there, and she's scared.
"How do I know you're not fronting for the group--that I get the vaccine and you hand it over to them?"
"What guarantee do I have that you won't take what I've just told you and expose me to those same men, Mr. Krycek?"
"What would that get me?"
"They might take you back. Your safety would be guaranteed."
"Safety? The minute the old men hand the reins to the colonists, they're dead."
"Exactly." Her eyes are hard, like gray crystal.
No words come. It's overload, the thing I've always dreamed about but never really expected to touch: a viable chance. And now it's fallen right into my lap. I glance down at the carpet and clear my throat. "I'll think about it. Anyway, from what I hear there are still a few bugs in the formula." I look up. "And I want to meet these people in your group."
"I can arrange a meeting."
"Separate meetings," I say. "One on one."
"Separate, then. You can compare what they tell you."
"Public places. You give me fifteen minutes notice and a target area, I pick the exact locations."
"All in Manhattan in the next three days."
"I'll need to contact several individuals, but I believe it can be arranged. How should I contact you?"
"Post a message online at this address." I stand up and pull a card with the URL from my pocket; she meets me halfway and takes it. "We'll go from there."
My hand goes back into my pocket and I notice it's shaking, a kind of delayed reaction because my mind's thick with the numbness that comes when everything around you is suddenly flipped upside down. Covarrubias and I are standing just staring at each other now; there's nothing left to say. I nod toward the door and make a move to go. Her shoulders seem to relax.
"I meet your people, I think about it, then I make up my mind. Anyway, there's no guarantee we can get to the stuff even if I decide to try it," I say as she opens the door.
"I know what it is to take a chance, Mr. Krycek."
"I'll wait for your message," I say. Then I'm out of there and heading for the elevator, legs seeming to move without me, or in spite of me. I punch the down button and wait. I'd always figured if I ever got to this point I'd feel the way I had as a kid when I was the first one in our group to top that mountain--that there'd be some kind of rush, a feeling of power--but the truth is, I'm exhausted. At least I made it through our little meeting without her noticing the arm.
So she thinks the old man's making his own vaccine. For a second, I smile.
There's a ding and the elevator door slides open. I get in, push the first floor button, lean back and let the wall take my weight. In my mind, I see Covarrubias: her lips moving as she talks, the V of her leotard, then her standing by the window, an abstract of shoulders, hips, legs. I don't know what the rest of her agenda is--yet--and I'm not swallowing everything she said, but I think she's on the level about this plan of hers.
A chance. No pie-in-the-sky bullshit but a real chance.
Maybe it's a long shot, but it could work. We're no Albert Schweitzer and Florence Nightingale but if we pull it off, what difference does it make?
I close my eyes but no matter how hard I try, I can't picture a future. All I see is that brick wall rushing toward me the way it always has, except that now the action stops before I hit. Then it starts over: flying toward the wall, stopping just short of it. Eventually I notice my breathing, loud and ragged over the hum of the elevator car. My throat aches and my legs are barely holding me up.
Everything you do from now on counts, you little bastard.
I straighten up, bite my lip hard and pull myself together. I've got to keep my head.
More than ever, I've got to keep a clear head now.
© bardsmaid 2005 |