by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Timeline: This is very important. This is set 8 years after the 5th season finale. That means 13 years after the start of the X-Files. Got it?

Mulder climbed into his car and turned the key, hearing the engine roar to life with a weary familiarity. He pulled out of the FBI parking garage and on the highway, navigating towards his apartment. Today, as it did many days lately, his mind drifted to the past. A lot had changed in 8 years, and Mulder couldn't help feeling much of it had been for the worse. Not that he begrudged Scully her happiness. He just wished for a little of his own. Thinking of Scully, Mulder's thoughts recalled the day she'd been promoted to Assistant Director, not long after Skinner had accepted the Director's post


"Mulder," Scully said from the doorway to his - their - office."Yeah, Scully," Mulder said, glancing up from the file folder he was poring over. "What'd the interim AD tell you? They choose a replacement for Skinner, yet?"

"They offered it to me," Scully revealed hesitantly.

"They what?" Mulder asked, surprised. "I mean, that's great, Scully. Bet you thought your chances of advancement were out the window when the sent you to the basement." He was smiling, but Scully could tell it was somewhat forced.

"You're not in the basement anymore, Mulder," Scully said with a small smile. There was a long pause. "I don't want to leave you, Mulder," she eventually said. "Years ago, you told me I'd saved you a thousand times, that you weren't sure you could go on without me. How can I take that strength from you? How can I let the X-Files go? After 10 years together, fighting for a cause that no one else believes in, I don't want to leave you alone…" she trailed off.

"Scully," Mulder said earnestly, standing and taking her hands in his, "I can't tell you how grateful I have been for your support all these years. When they assigned you to me, I had no idea the gift they were giving me. But I never wanted you to get hurt," he smiled ruefully at that. "I put your well being above the X-Files on more than one occasion, and I did it because I care for you. This is your chance. This is your chance to step away from the Consortium and their threats. This is your chance have something resembling a normal life. Take it. I can't, I wouldn't, but I want you to."

"Mulder," Scully said, tears in her eyes, "this is my quest, too. The X-Files have been my life for 10 years."

"There are people working on the vaccine now," Mulder said gently, "whole teams of people. Oh, they don't know what it is, but they know they have to protect against it. The Lone Gunmen made sure of that. You've done enough. You've helped me do things I never thought I could… Go have a normal life now, Scully. Have it for both of us."

Scully nodded and went to see the interim AD. To tell him she'd take the job.


That was 3 years ago, now. Scully had taken the Assistant Director's place, as he had insisted, and she'd done a damn fine job of it. It helped him a lot, to have such a strong ally in the AD's place. But Scully couldn't afford to show favoritism. She had a lot of other agents working under her as well, now, and Mulder got little of her time. Her on duty time, that is. Outside the office, they saw each other often.

//But it still wasn't the same,// Mulder mused to himself as he slowly exited the highway. //She moved on with her life, away from the X-Files. She's my best friend, she always will be, but there's a…distance between us now.// Mulder grew sad. //It's worse since she married Mark. I should've known, after three years of dating, that it'd happen. That's a long time, when you work the X-Files. But it still knocked me on my ass. Thank God she kept her name. It would be awkward beyond belief to be calling "Mrs. Caplin" Scully.//

Mulder parked his car and laid his head against the steering wheel for a moment. A wave of despair washed over him, and he had to swallow back tears for a moment. //So alone,// he thought, //so very, very alone. There's no one left who understands. The Lone Gunmen never got it. Skinner has moved on, Scully has moved on… The three other agents on the X-Files are sure they're being punished. There's hardly a believer in the lot.// He released a shuddering breath.

//They're all gone, in one way or another - everyone who understood. All my friends, all my enemies…//

That thought triggered another memory, fresh in his perfect memory. Strangely, it was as painful as remember the day Scully was promoted…


Mulder opened the door to his apartment and stepped inside. He closed it with a dull thud and leaned back against it. He'd expected this moment to be one of triumph. He'd thought that seeing Krycek, one of those damn Consortium assholes and a car go up in flames together would give him some satisfaction. Instead, he was bitter and a little…sad. Oh, sure, seeing a Consortium member get what was coming to him had been nice. But it wasn't the Cigarette Smoking Man, and whoever it was was only dead because he was no longer valuable. That was what made Mulder bitter. And as for Krycek…that was what made him sad.

It was an odd sensation, to mourn for a man he'd wanted dead for years. But Mulder couldn't deny that a part of him had needed Krycek. He'd needed the focus for his anger, the solid, physical target. And he'd needed someone whose belief was as unshakable as his own was. Krycek wasn't in on the whole thing, but he knew it was real. He believed the bits and pieces Mulder had put together. He'd been a part of it all, almost from the very beginning.

//Face it, Mulder,// the agent thought to himself, //he helped you. After all the betrayals, he was the one who showed me where I needed to be looking. He was the one who tried to give me the hard evidence. Every time he came to me I beat him up, and he never fought back. If I'd had anywhere else to put my hate, he would have been an ally.//

It was then that he saw the box. A plain, cardboard box sitting on his kitchen table. Approaching, Mulder could see a note taped to it. In unfamiliar handwriting, it read:

In the event of the death of Alex Krycek, deliver this package to the apartment of Special Agent Fox Mulder.

There was nothing else. Cautiously, Mulder slit the tape on the box with a knife and opened it. The contents were covered with a cloth, and a letter sat atop that. The letter showed no address, simply Mulder's name, in Krycek's handwriting. Mulder picked it up and used the knife to open it, withdrawing a couple of sheets of paper.


It began,

If you're reading this, I'm finally dead. To tell the truth, I'm surprised I survived this long. Please read this letter in its entirety before looking at the rest of this box.

Anyone who's led a life like mine can't afford to confess his sins. I know that there will be no absolution for me, though I have tried to act for the good. Stop laughing, Mulder. It's true. And so, I ask for the forgiveness of the only person who's ever mattered to me.


I won't try to justify my actions to you. Either you understand why I've done the things I've done, or you don't want to and therefore never will. So all I ask is that you forgive what I've done.

I don't know why I ask. I have no reason to think you will.

All these years, a big part of the reason I survived was because I held a few cards from the deck the Consortium has been playing. So many times, I wanted to hand them over to you. I nearly did, more than once. But they were all that was keeping me alive.

I guess I don't need them anymore.

So I give them to you, Mulder, and ask you to do me a favor. Don't let this evidence get lost. Give it only to someone you trust, guard it yourself when you must hand it over to someone else to be analyzed. I won't be there to give it to you again. But, most of all, use it to bring some of this conspiracy to light.

Use it to help the people of this country, even if they don't know what they're working on.

This is my legacy to you and to your cause. Put it to good use.

Alexander Krycek

Mulder laid the sheets of paper aside and carefully lifted the cloth from the contents of the box. Beneath, he found a test tube of black, a vial with a single bee within, a videotape and a stack of photos. Holding his breath, Mulder took the tape and slipped it into his VCR. Onto the screen came a grainy black and white picture. Several men were gathered in a smoke wreathed lounge, the harsh voices whispering from the TV. A video of a Consortium meeting. With sound. Mulder could hardly believe it.

An ally, indeed.

The car fire had burned so hot that there was no body for anyone to claim. After a week, no one had appeared to arrange a funeral service, though the coroner had arranged to put an obituary in the paper. So, very discreetly, Mulder ordered a headstone. It was engraved only with his name - Alexander Krycek - and the year of his death.

The next day, Scully walked in the door of their basement office frowning. "Would you believe," she said, "that someone actually bought a plot and a headstone for that…rat?" Mulder just shrugged, took his feet of his desk, and sat up straight.

"I want to show you something," he said. Scully nodded and waited as Mulder fiddled with something under his desk. He finally lifted it up and set it on top of the desk. It was a briefcase, and Scully realized that he'd been unhandcuffing it from the table leg. She raised an eyebrow. "Wait'll you see what's inside," he said, a glitter coming into his eyes.

He set the combination and flipped open the locking latches on the briefcase. He turned it so that, open, it faced Scully and waited for her reaction. "Mulder," she breathed, "is this what I think it is?"

"Oh yeah," he answered, his smile a little sad. "This is a whole lot of hard evidence. And by God it is not going to get away from us this time."


"Alex Krycek," Mulder answered. "His legacy to me, the letter said. I found it in my apartment last night."

"You arranged for the plot and the headstone," Scully said. It wasn't a question.

"Yes," Mulder confirmed. "It was all I could do. That, and promise him I'd use this right."


He had used it, too. A sample of the black oil had been sent to medical labs and Universities all over North America, with the note that it was a rare disease but that the threat was growing. Combined with a little medical propaganda courtesy of the Lone Gunmen, 15 labs were working on a vaccine by the end of the week.

The videotape Mulder had the Lone Gunmen convert into a QuickTime movie which, along with scans of the photos, they put up on an Internet web site. Certainly, most people thought it was a joke. Another weird hacker getting his kicks. But some people believed. Some people knew. It had spread, until there were a few thousand paranoiacs out there pushing the theory.

Finally, they'd brought all of it to the FBI. They hadn't allowed the Bureau to take the evidence, instead giving it into the keeping of Langly, Byers and Frohike. But they'd presented it. It had been enough to earn them a little respect. That, and a better office and two new agents to work with them. It wasn't much, but it was the most they'd gotten in 8 years of working.

That year had been good, a flurry of work and accomplishment. Scully had met Mark that year. A year later, she was promoted. //That was the peak,// Mulder thought //It all went downhill from there, for me. So here I am, alone. I've worked so hard for the X-Files, and I've accomplished some good. I know that.//


Then, suddenly, in the front seat of a car parked in his apartment's underground lot, it hit him. The feeling came as it often did, sudden and aching and as strong as the day he'd first felt it. It was familiar now, not as strange as the first time he'd felt it. He could express it in three words.

//I miss Krycek.//

Mulder sighed, a shuddering breath. He missed Krycek's fire, the passion that burned within him as fiercely as it did within Mulder. He missed Krycek's clues, his cryptic comments. He missed the faith Krycek has always had in Mulder's cause, and he missed Krycek's survivor's spirit. Mulder had forgiven Alex years before. Now he missed him. It had taken him a long time to admit to that. To confess to himself that he'd drawn on Krycek's strength by hating him as much as he'd drawn on Scully's by loving her.

Finally, having sat absorbed in memories and self pity for long minutes, Mulder hauled himself out of his car and began walking, head bowed, towards the stairs.

Without warning, a body slammed into his and knocked him to the ground. Before he could protest, gunfire rang out. The person who'd tackled Mulder, knocking him out of the way of the bullets, now shielded the agent with his own body.

//What the hell?// Mulder thought.

The person on top of him shifted, and Mulder abruptly became aware that he was missing his left arm. //No. It couldn't be. Not after 4 years…// His thoughts were cut off as the gunfire ceased for a moment and his human shield jumped up, hauling Mulder with him, and dragged him to the relative safety of the stairwell. Even there, the man didn't stop. He ran all the way up the stairs, Mulder close behind, and led the agent straight to his own apartment. Mulder unlock the door and preceded the man inside, only then turning to see - to confirm - who it was.

Sure enough, Alex Krycek stood just inside Mulder's closed door. "I thought you were dead," was the first thing Mulder managed to choke out.

"I almost was," Krycek said. His voice was the same low, husky murmured Mulder remembered. Hell, Krycek was just as he remembered, from the leather jacket to the green, green eyes… The only difference was that he no longer wore the prosthetic. The leather jacket, instead of being pinned up, was specially cropped to just cover the stump within. "I got out of the car in time, and I realized it was an opportunity," he said, "I could disappear, be safe for awhile. I took it."

"Where have you been?" Mulder asked. It was strange, the questions he most wanted answered. Regarding the other man, Mulder was suddenly very happy to see him. It took all this strength not to grin, to laugh with relief. //I love him,// he realized. //I've loved him for years. Oh, talk about denial!//

"Watching you, mostly," Krycek answered, a tiny smile playing over his lips. "Remember the mysterious phone call that got you and the Lone Gunmen out of that warehouse just in time? The time when you ordered pizza and it never came, but you found it and a bunch of poisoned rats the next morning in the dumpster? How about the letter that led you to the man who kidnapped Scully's mother?"

"All you?" Mulder asked. Krycek nodded. There was a long silence. Finally, Mulder pushed out the words. "I forgave you. When I got the box."

"I know," Krycek said softly, "thank you."

Another long silence. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it was emotionally charged.

If Krycek had been watching, he knew how weary Mulder had become. At the moment, Mulder didn't feel weary. He was emotionally charged for the first time in years.

"Why did you come back?" Mulder asked, finally.

"I'm tired of running, Mulder," Krycek said. "I'm tired of hiding and letting other people get into the thick of it while I hand them notes from the sidelines. I want to help!" This last was said fiercely, and the fire in Krycek's eyes reminded Mulder of his own passion. He could feel it stirring, awakening, within him. Oh, he and Krycek could do a lot together!

"I missed you," Mulder said suddenly. He looked surprised, then. That wasn't what he'd meant to say. //Oh, well. It's true, anyway.// Krycek looked surprised, and then tentatively pleased. "Three years is a long time to be alone," he went on, his voice breaking on that last word. Alone.

"Oh, God," Krycek said, realization lighting his face. He took a couple of steps forward and wrapped his arm around Mulder, drawing him close as the agent released the sobs that had been building for years. "You haven't had anyone, have you? I "died", Scully got married, and Skinner got promoted. Wasn't there anyone else who believed in you?" Mulder silently shook his head no. "I want to fight with you this time, Mulder," Krycek said abruptly.

Mulder pulled back slowly. "With me? How is that possible?"

"I spent the first two years of my "death" running. The last two years, I spent preparing. I've built up an entire bullshit history of myself like you wouldn't believe. I dug up my old certification papers from Quantico, I hacked the FBI database, I broke into their records office and I stole all prior records of myself. As far as every record in existence knows, I've been an agent for the past 12 years. The only people who can disprove it are you, Scully and Skinner. It's all set up. All I need is a favor from you."

"What favor?" Mulder asked, impressed by Krycek's actions. The FBI was hard to pull one over on. He'd tried.

Krycek, formerly lit up with excitement and enthusiasm, sobered. "I need to you take these," he drew a folder full of papers from his jacket, "to Scully. I need you to convince her to accept them as legit and to sign them, transferring me into the D.C. office."

"That's one hell of a favor," Mulder said. His tone was serious, but his eyes twinkled. Krycek could see that he relished the idea of slipping one by the FBI, that his spirit was waking up again, and that he wanted to have a partner again.

"I know," Krycek said.

"Why? If you could do all of this, you could set yourself up in a nice life anywhere is the country - or out of it. Why not quit the game and live your life out in peace?" Mulder held his breath. He knew what he wanted the answer to be.

All that remained was to wait.

Krycek was silent for a long time, debating on whether or not to tell the truth. Finally, he decided he should. If he wanted to work with Mulder, he couldn't start it all with a lie. Mulder would never forgive him if he found out. "I missed you, too, Mulder. I want to work with you again. As an ally instead of an enemy. And because…" he hesitated.

Mulder stepped close again, and slipped one hand up to cup the back of Krycek's neck. "It's all right to say it," he whispered.

"And because I love you," Krycek finished, breathless.

"I love you, too," Mulder murmured in answer. He bent his head and closed the small distance between them, bringing their lips together in a gentle, tender kiss. They were both trembling violently when the parted, looking into each other's eyes and seeing the love there. "I've waited so long," Mulder said shakily. Alex knew he meant longer than the four years he'd been "dead".

"Then why should we wait any longer?" Alex said huskily.

They didn't.


Scully hung up the phone with a slight smile and then a deep sigh. Talking to Mark had been good for her. Sometimes she needed to hear his voice, to feel his love washing over her. However, she was still worried about Mulder. She'd tried to convince him to see a psychologist, but he refused. She didn't see what the problem was - there was no shame in it.

Just then, her secretary announced, through the intercom, "AD Scully, Agent Mulder would like to see you."

"Send him in, Lucy," Scully said immediately. She then stood and moved out from behind her desk, perching on it instead. Mulder had been her partner and was still her best friend, so it felt wrong to put that desk between them. Too official.

"Hey, Scully," Mulder greeted her.

"Hi, Mulder," she answered. They never used each other's titles, except when Scully had to act officially. It was more comfortable that way. "What is it?" she asked. Scully noticed that, for the first time in a very long time, there was a bounce in Mulder's step. A smile was lurking somewhere behind his lips, and his eyes twinkled with the humor that had characterized the 10 years of their partnership.

"I need to talk to you," Mulder said seriously. "It's very important."

"So talk," Scully prompted, "as you can see, the door is closed and the intercom is off. We have privacy."

"I just want to make sure," Mulder said, pulling a device from his pocket. "The Lone Gunmen just got me a new bug finder," he explained.

It was then that Scully realized this was very important, and likely something to do with the Consortium Mulder still fought. They'd grown subtler over the years, providing little real excitement for the other agents on the X-Files. But they were as active as ever, and Mulder worked against them as hard as ever.

When he was satisfied the room was clean, Mulder turned back to his former partner. "Someone tried to kill me last night. No, don't stay anything," he said before she could comment, "that isn't the important part. The important part is who knocked me out of the way of the bullets." Mulder paused as if for dramatic effect. Scully realized this was what he was actually doing, much like he had in the early years of their partnership. She smiled and raised an inquiring eyebrow. "Alex Krycek."

"What?!" Scully exclaimed, slipping off the edge of the desk to stand in shock.

Mulder nodded, "Alex Krycek. He's alive, and he saved my life last night. Not for the first time, I might add."

"So what happened after that?" she asked, half expecting to hear that they'd finally have something to bury under the headstone Mulder had bought.

"He came inside," Mulder said, "and we talked for awhile."

"That's it?" Scully asked incredulously.

Mulder hesitated. "That's it."

"It's not," Scully contradicted him. "I can tell when you lie, Mulder. You do it so rarely, especially to me, that's it's obvious when you do."

"He stayed the night," Mulder said tightly. "He's still there."

"Mulder," Scully went on, "I know you forgave him four years ago, when you thought he was dead, but it still surprises me that he's become a…a…a houseguest, for God's sake!"

"And I know you never forgave him," Mulder retorted. "You'd still kill him over something that happened 13 years ago! But…I'm hoping that despite that, you'll do a favor for me."

"What's Krycek got to do with a favor for you, Mulder?" Scully asked suspiciously. In response, Mulder laid a folder full of papers on her desk.

Opening them, she found the forms, entirely filled out but for the final signature, to transfer an FBI agent to D.C. The agent list was…Alex Krycek. Glancing up at Mulder in disbelief, Scully flipped through the rest of the documents to find photocopies and computer printouts that she knew must be extremely good forgeries. They had to be, for they recognized Alex Krycek as an FBI agent and documented his career through the last 12 years and beyond.

"Mulder," she said slowly, "you know that these are faked."

"Yes," he nodded, "I know. And I want you to sign them anyway."

Scully slammed the folder shut. "How can you ask me to do that?" she yelled angrily. "How can you sit there and ask me to legitimize forged documents that will put a murdering bastard in the FBI? It's too much, Mulder!"

"It's not too much!" Mulder retorted sharply. "You couldn't possibly understand what I've been through the last few years. You had your family, then me, and then Mark. You've never been alone the way I've been for the past 3 years!"

Scully ignored the apparent change in topic, choosing to defend herself instead. "You told me to take that promotion, Mulder. When I couldn't find a maid of honor, you stood up for me at my wedding. How can you use those things against me now?"

"I'm not using them against you," Mulder denied, "I'd trying to tell you what I'm feeling and why I want you to sign those papers! Ever since you became AD, there has been no one to believe in me. You had to be fair, I understand that, and the agents I worked with never believed in the first place. I could handle that, Scully. No one had believed me before you, and even if you had to be impartial, you were always still my best friend. But I got used to having a partner, to working with someone. When I faltered, you were there to help me through it. No one had done that before, but my mistakes then weren't ones that would get me killed. As things with the Consortium heated up, I depended on you. I realized I couldn't work the X-Files alone. They were too much for one person to handle. After your promotion, I was just as consumed by the X-Files as ever. I could see that, but I couldn't stop it. I've finally burned out, Scully. After you married Mark, you had him for strength. He became your first priority, being AD came second, I came third. That's the right order of things, Scully, except that I didn't have anything else! I need this, Scully. When Krycek came to me last night, I felt myself wake up again. I felt that passion for the work again! I need someone whose passion matches mine, someone who needs a partner." Mulder finally trailed off, his impassioned speech coming to an end.

"Mulder," Scully said, still angry but getting a better rein on it, "I'm sorry I left you alone, but I needed to step away. You were burning me! The X-Files consumed you, they were your whole life…and they were eating up mine too. When I met Mark, suddenly I was being treated gently, and then I was being loved. I needed that, Mulder, I was starved for it. I know you loved me, Mulder, and I loved you too. But I couldn't let myself get drawn into the X-Files as deeply as you had. I knew that they would destroy me, and I was glad when you gave me your blessing to climb out of them by accepting this promotion."

"So why can't you give me this?" Mulder asked, frustrated.

"Mulder, he's a criminal! He was your enemy for years and now, suddenly you want him for an ally…"

"He was always an ally!" Mulder yelled. "I needed to hate him, but he never did anything but help me. I hated him, and I loved you…and now I've got no hate left. He's the only one left who understands, Scully. I've finally got the chance to love him, and I want to take it."

"To…love him?" Scully asked, stunned. "You love him?"

"I think I always have," Mulder confessed.

"I don't understand."

"It's always been there, Scully," Mulder said, "I just wouldn't let myself feel it."

"Do you know what you're saying?" Scully asked, "My husband and I can't have children, and you're sitting there telling me you're in love with the man responsible for that. Do you have any idea," she was yelling again, "how much that hurts?"

Mulder regarded her sorrowfully for nearly a minute, waiting for her to calm down a little. Then he stood and walked until he was standing beside her, but facing in the opposite direction, facing her desk. "I'm sorry," he said. Then there was a soft whispering sounds and two dull thuds. A moment later, Mulder exited her office.

Turning, Scully saw, through tear filled eyes, his badge, gun and letter of resignation on her desk.


Mulder lay in Krycek's arms and told him what had happened between Scully and him. He'd come home and immediately wrapped her arms around his newfound lover, losing himself in Alex. Afterward, and after Mulder's story, Alex said, "You shouldn't have done that. You didn't need to."

"But I did need to," Mulder contradicted him. "I couldn't stay there, knowing I could be with you instead." There was nothing more to say.


The next day, Mulder didn't going into work. It wasn't work, really, since he'd resigned. Still, it felt odd to stay home. For an afternoon, he and Krycek simply enjoyed each other's company. Around 5 o'clock, Mulder's doorbell rang. It could only be one person. Mulder went to answer it and Krycek remained on the couch, perfectly aware he was within plain sight from the doorway.

Scully stood in the doorway when he opened and she came inside when he stepped back. She eyed Krycek, relaxing on the couch, but spoke to Mulder. "I won't accept your resignation," she said, placing his gun and badge on a coffee table. "And I want you to know that the only reason I'm doing this is because the X-Files are important, and you're my best friend and I trust you."

With that, she handed Mulder the folder he'd left in her office. Opening it, he saw that she'd signed the transfer papers, and that she must have already put them through, since he held photocopies. When he looked up, she was standing outside his open door, about to leave. "I'm glad you're not alone anymore, Mulder," she said in parting, "I just wish it didn't have to be him."


"This," Mulder said to the agents of the X-Files division, "is Special Agent Alex Krycek, the new member of our team. He'll be operating as my partner."

Krycek nodded hello and glanced over at Mulder, who was smirking at seeing him in a suit.

"Let's get down to business, people."