"I don't like it," Marita Covarrubias said abruptly. "Scully's on your tail. She's too close to finding you."
"It's a little late to call off the whole operation," Krycek said. She could tell that he was doing his best to sound reasonable. "The taxi's waiting."
"Car service," she corrected.
"Whatever. I have to go now if I'm going to make the flight to Paris."
"Something feels wrong."
"She's not that close," Krycek said. "Doesn't she have other things to think about?" He paced to the door, taking up too much space in her apartment even as he left it, out of place next to the spindle-legged chairs and the china. Marita hadn't even realized that he knew the address; all their meetings had been public, on neutral ground. Typical of him just to turn up, never a word of explanation or apology.
"I'm coming with you," she announced. Once she knew he was out of the country, she thought she would rest more easily.
"To Tunisia?" His voice rose slightly.
She sighed. "To the airport, Alex," and followed him out of the apartment and down to the waiting car. In the limo she leaned back against the seat and let Krycek argue with the driver about directions. When they were done and Krycek was looking at her again with suspicion, she commented, "You think Tunisia will be safe."
"I think we can be sure that the Smoker isn't planning to have me locked up again."
"We don't know what he might have set in motion before he died. Tunisia is Strughold's territory, and he and Spender were allies."
"And now that the Smoker is dead, Strughold needs us." It was an old argument, and she didn't need to see his face to know the expression on it.
"He needs someone, not us."
"We're all there is. I tell you, Marita, this is our time. Strughold needs us, we own Skinner, someday even Scully will realize that we can help her..."
"And if we can just figure out how to avoid being killed off with the rest of the human race when the aliens invade, everything would be perfect."
Krycek grimaced. "You never lose sight of the big picture, do you?"
"One of us needs to remember it. Why is Scully after you this time, anyway?"
"She thinks I know where Mulder is," he answered.
"You do know where Mulder is."
She turned her head to see his lips curved back in a smile. "And if she asks me nicely, someday I might try to get him back for her." Marita tried to suppress her shudder, but he saw it. "What's it to you, anyway?" he asked.
"Every now and then I think I'd like to die of old age in my own bed." And every now and then, this odd alliance with Krycek seemed the best way to get there.
His eyes were wide. "Jesus, did you go into the wrong line of work, Marita."
She followed Krycek as he cut through the crowds at the terminal; she'd never been sure if people simply got out of his way or if he had some sixth sense that kept him moving smoothly even through JFK international airport. As they approached the gate he asked idly, "Are you planning to stay and make sure I actually board the plane?"
"I feel more secure when I know where you are," she answered.
He wasn't paying attention to what she'd said, she saw. "A lot of undercover operatives around," he said in a mild tone.
She very carefully didn't look around them. "Anyone you recognize?"
"Not yet... yes. I made one. FBI."
"Coincidence?" she asked.
"More like an X-File."
They'd reached the gate; tired looking passengers were sitting in small groups, belongings piled around them. Marita turned to face him. She could see the tension coiling in his shoulders and remembered, suddenly, how much he hated airports even on the best days; if they were going to get out of here, it would be up to her.
They wouldn't try to make the arrest right here in the open, she thought: too many chances to escape, too many potential victims. They'd do it on the gangway, maybe, or even on the airplane itself. Focus, she told herself, all you need to do is get yourself and Krycek out of the terminal building. One step at a time. "Kiss me," she said. He stared for a second, his eyes still blank. "Don't argue, Alex. It's me or the FBI."
She saw a flash of teeth as he grinned and then his mouth was on hers. Her hands came up almost involuntarily to rest against his chest and she found herself opening her mouth to draw him in. The watching FBI agents, the other travelers, everything faded away compared to the pressure of his arm against her back and the heat of his mouth on hers.
Her sigh of regret when they broke apart was not, she realized, entirely acting. She blinked and saw an expression she couldn't quite interpret in Alex's dark green eyes.
"I'm not letting you leave me behind," she said. "Never again." Her voice was clear enough to carry to the watching agents.
She didn't let her relief show as he picked up the cue. "You know how much I want you to come with me," he said, equally clearly. "But we can't."
"I don't want to ever let you go," she said. It was all she could do not to wince at the brief flash of laughter in Alex's eyes.
"Babe," he said, " You know I hate to leave you."
"Just this once, the future can take care of itself. You won't leave me behind again." She picked up his bag and began to walk back through the terminal to the ticketing counter. This time she was aware of the agents moving with them, keeping them in sight but never getting close.
Krycek caught up to her in three long strides and placed his arm around her shoulders. "Do you think they bought it?"
"'Babe, I hate to go'?" she whispered back. "They'd better have."
"Don't pretend you didn't enjoy that, Marita."
She let her head rest against his arm and faked a smile. "You're still a bastard, Krycek, and I still don't trust you." She did her best to keep her voice languid, although her heart was beating double-time.
They waited at the counter as the woman working there fussed over Marita's ticket. Krycek brushed the hair away from her ear. "How many are there?" he breathed.
She turned around and placed her arms around his neck; there was just time to scan the crowd in the terminal before kissing lightly. "Four," she whispered, and bit his ear. "And we're in luck. I've spotted Walter Skinner trying to hide behind a rack of magazines. That makes five." She ran her hands down his chest to check the pocket inside his jacket. There was a flush of color along his cheekbones and his eyes were very bright; it might, she reminded herself, have been the promise of violence as much as anything else.
They took her ticket and walked back toward security; in front of one of the automatic doors that led outside Alex reached for her. Her hands inside his jacket again, she slid the palm pilot from his pocket as he whispered instructions in between kisses. She broke off just once to look down and ensure that it was set up right, then kissed his throat and murmured, "Showtime."
At the press of a button came a strangled cry, a crash, Scully's voice--where had she been hiding?--raised in panic. Shouts of "Stop! FBI!" and the stares of other travelers followed them as they ran outside and down the concourse sidewalk, dodging luggage and carts and other passengers. Two doors down they darted back into the terminal building and down an escalator to the arrivals level. Then it was back outside and onto the first moving thing that pulled up: a car rental shuttle. The business travelers already seated glanced up at them, then returned to their papers and magazines.
Krycek checked the curb as they pulled away. "Nice work." They just had time to see one of the FBI agents run out onto the curb and look around for them and then they were away among the other vans, cars and taxis. Krycek leaned back against his seat, looking a little too pleased with himself for her comfort. She frowned and shifted away from him, so that their legs were no longer touching.
The pang she felt as the tension returned to his face wasn't worth examining. "This isn't over, Marita," he warned. Then they were at Terminal One and she got up. "Are you insane?" he asked as he followed her off the shuttle.
"The last thing they'll expect you to do is go to Paris anyway. There's an Air France flight taking off in forty minutes, and we're going to be on it."
"I've decided that I don't trust you out of my sight."
He grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. "You betrayed me first, Marita. How do I know that you didn't inform Scully and Skinner that I'd be here?"
She shook his hand off. "If that's what you think, you can find your own way out of the airport."
He didn't answer that, except by following her into the terminal, where she used her UN identification to persuade the ticketing agent to issue them two tickets to Paris and to make sure that they were rushed through security and onto the flight. The doors closed behind them and the flight attendants hurried them into their seats.
As she felt the plane leave the ground she said, "That was close."
Krycek shrugged. "I guess all those years of following Mulder's insane intuitions finally did Scully some good. We'll have to stop in Paris and figure out what to do next. How long is this flight, anyway?"
"About seven and a half hours," she answered.
"That gives Scully plenty of time to arrange a welcoming committee on the French side."
Marita allowed herself to smile. "Trust me, Alex. Or rather, trust the wonder of the diplomatic passport."
"I knew there was a reason I was willing to travel with you," he said.
The late winter dawn was breaking over Paris when they walked out of Orly airport. A sleepy-looking taxi driver started up at Marita's businesslike French and took them to the Hôtel Napoléon, near Place de L'Étoile. She let Alex walk her into the lobby, out a side door and down two streets to a corner café. She let him order two breakfasts, as well, and sat there ripping her croissant into small pieces and sipping her café au lait.
He hardly said a word. She followed him mutely down into the Métro, then out at St. Paul and off to some hotel he knew. A few jokes in Polish with a round, pink-faced man got them a room under the eves not far from the old Bibliotheque Nationale. It was only three steps from the door to the window; she walked them to check.
"This will do for a couple nights," Alex said. "We'll find something more permanent."
She nodded. Pigeons wheeled over the verdegris rooftops as the sun shone through a thin haze. "You have contacts here," she commented.
"A few," he said. "Marita?" He was standing right behind her.
She turned to see him holding himself very still. "What?" she asked. The single syllable came out more sharply than she expected, but she was too tired for games.
"It's just the two of us. There's no one else left. No one else we can trust." She nodded, her stomach tightening at the conversation they were about to have. "And sometimes I think, Marita, that we can't even trust each other." His voice was low.
Her eyeballs felt dry and her knees hurt. "What the hell do you want from me, Alex? I walked out the door this morning with only my purse, and now I've come all the way to Paris with you, just to keep you out of custody. I don't know when I'm going to get back to my apartment. We've lost our chance to find out what kind of mutant Scully is carrying. Even our allies among the aliens don't care whether we live or die. And you're the only man in the world I can say these things to, the only man who doesn't believe that I'm evil or insane. What else do you want from me?"
He didn't shout at her in return. "You hate to fly," he said. "I forgot that. The world is ending and you're the only woman I know who won't panic when it happens. I want to put the past behind us. I want to..." He suddenly looked as tired as she felt, and in response she felt her own angry energy slipping away. "I want to be able to trust you again." He laid his hand on her cheek. "I want to kiss you again, now, just the two of us."
"Oh," she said.
He seemed to take that as agreement. His lips brushed over hers, barely touching; she found herself stretching up toward him, standing on her toes. His mouth tasted like milky coffee. He responded by deepening the kiss, then pulled his head back. She took a step backwards and stumbled as her heel caught on the edge of the carpet; he took her arm to keep her upright. "You're exhausted," he observed. "Come to bed."
"I'm fine," she said, letting him walk her to the bed. "The world is still ending. We need to contact Strughold." She sat down next to him, feeling the springs sag.
"The world won't end in the next few hours." He pushed the jacket off her shoulders; she started to unbutton her shirt and looked up to see him staring at her. He swallowed. "Marita..." His voice was hoarse.
"I'm tired," she said. "I smell like the inside of an airplane." It was, she thought, a miracle that she hadn't burst into flame under the intensity of his gaze. Her hands seemed to be working independently of her mind: they had given up on her own shirt and reached out to pull Alex's over his head. It was too much trouble to pull the sleeve off the prosthesis, so she removed the whole thing while Alex was busy with the rest of her shirt's buttons. "Don't rip it," she said. "That's the only shirt I have now."
"We'll buy more," he promised, his hand moving down to the waistband of her slacks. "You probably saved my life this morning. I think I can buy you a shirt."
She sat back. "I probably did, didn't I? Save your life."
"Yes," he said. "I think so." He sat on the bed, watching her think about that.
She reached out and ran her fingers over the rough stubble on his cheek. "Well," she said. "Aren't you going to thank me properly?"
fade to black/the end
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Thanks to Rhi for the lyrics which
inspired this piece and to Spica and Ann Ripley for amazing
Author's notes 1: It's been a while since I've flown out of JFK, so my representation of that airport is probably full of inaccuracies; I've also decided that in the X-Files universe the new Terminal 1 (from which Air France flights depart) was in operation by 2000, although I don't know when it opened in our own universe. I may also have given Hôtel Napoléon in Paris an extra exit and I've moved Hôtel Picard closer to the St. Paul Métro. But you know, this is a work of fiction.
Author's notes 2: This was originally written for the X-Files Lyric Wheel. The song provided was "Leaving on a Jet Plane," and this is what came out.
The X-Files are the property of Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox Television. All original elements are my own. No infringement of copyright is intended.