|To See the Stars (3/?)
By: Morgan (email@example.com)
See disclaimers etc. in part 1
The blood was warm and bitter trickling into my mouth. I sputtered, flicking the tangy substance away from my lips, trying to erase the taste. Bringing a hand up cautiously, I wiped the stream of blood from the side of my face to prevent any more from sliding across my lips. Beneath me, Scully made a frustrated whimper, and around us, the air had regained a deceptive facade of calm.
"Goddamit, somebody get me out of these things!"
Krycek was shouting from across the room, still trapped against the radiator. Scully and I had fallen just inside the door, a somewhat protective shield formed between us and the window by the table and the tall headboard of the bed. Against the wall perpendicular to the window, not far enough down to be passed the headboard, Krycek was far more vulnerable, rattling his handcuffs as if that might loosen them somehow.
"Stay down and don't move." I leaned down to place my lips just upon the outer curve of Scully's ear and whispered.
"No, Mulder. Don't…" She twisted beneath me, trying to turn up and around to face me, but was pinned by my weight.
"I can't just leave him there." And even though there had been numerous times in the past when I had desired nothing more than the sight of Krycek helpless and suffering - retribution for his sins - I knew I wouldn't be able to just abandon him now. He wasn't our enemy anymore, and I wasn't that same vengeful person any longer, either.
I brushed my lips through Scully's hair softly, smelling the slight lemon of her shampoo. There was a smear of blood along the outside of her ear, from where my lips had lain. Pushing it away with the pad of one thumb, I whispered again, "Don't move."
I pushed up on both arms and off of her, starting a slow crawl across the floor, attempting to find cover behind the headboard before approaching Krycek. Her eyes were this warm brand, searing into my back as I moved, and I prayed that she would listen to my request and stay as still as possible. Glass crunched and smashed beneath my knees, and a few pieces tore through the protection of my jeans to break the skin beneath. I was careful about where I placed my hands, but a sea of sparkling destruction littered the floor, and a few cuts were unavoidable.
The headboard was cool and solid behind my back when I reached it, and I stopped, took a deep breath, looked back towards Scully. She was silent and still, exactly where I had left her, but with head now turned to the side, eyes regarding me large and unguarded, clearly showing her fear for my safety. I didn't smile, couldn't, but instead held her eyes for the briefest moment, feeling the familiar slide and click of our connection closing, needing that. The surety of her presence settling beneath my skin, I looked away, head just peeking around the corner of the bed to where Krycek still lay helpless.
There was a vast no man's land of about ten feet between the bed and the wall with the radiator. All of it within clear line of the large, gaping maw of the window. A blast of frigid, ice-chilled air swarmed through the window, sweeping snow and cold across the bed and floor. I closed my eyes, tensed my fingers, and prepared to leap across that space and through the danger.
It's strange how time can still sometimes. How you can be poised in a moment of action and be so *aware* of all the little things going on around you. I was stuck somewhere between rising up off of one knee, propelling myself forward and away from the safety of the bed, when I knew she had moved. I could hear the sound of her clothes shuffling faintly against the floor, the shifting of her body, knew somehow that she was standing. And then there was the familiar roar of gunfire, the sound of a body flying through the air, even as I was still moving towards Krycek. I slammed into the wall at the same time as I heard another slam from across the room, impact of flesh and floorboard.
At first I couldn't see her. My vision swam with images from other times, her fallen body lying limp and battered and bleeding, dying, overlaid by the present image of the room, empty space where she had been.
"Scully, please." A tear of weakness through my voice, and I wasn't shouting anymore. I was pleading.
Then I saw it, caught my breath and focused in on the faint hint of her feet from behind the armchair. I watched as tiny fingers curled around the small leg of the chair, reaching. The chair was only a few feet to the side of the door, the most obvious refuge for her from the gunfire.
"Mulder." Her voice was quavering somehow, but even the weakened sound of it was bliss unmitigated to my starving ears. I shuddered in relief, just catching the meaning of her next whispers. "I'm fine, Mulder." A pause. "Go. Do it. I'm fine." So, so soft, but with strength beneath that reassured.
When I finally looked over at our guest, his eyes too were focused on Scully's position, and I could swear I saw the flicker of concern there before he sensed my interest.
"You gonna un-cuff me, Mulder?" He asked, but it wasn't as sharp as I had come to expect from him, and I ignored it.
The shaking in my fingers was annoying when I tried to work them into the back pocket of my jeans to find the key. Krycek and I were sitting just out of the range of sight of the window, but even the slightest movement might be enough. It was impossible to tell where the shooter was positioned outside. I fumbled, found the small key, steadied my hand and reached for Krycek's wrist. The minute click of the key catching in the small lock was an insignificant victory, and Krychek brought the freed arm up to his body, looking like he would rub the irritated flesh if he had another hand. I think the look he gave me was an attempt to appear insulted.
I glanced around the room, trying to find a means of escape. If Krycek and I stayed flat against the floor by the wall and moved slowly, we might be able to make it to the door without being noticed. Scully, in her present position, was only a few feet from the door as it was, and if she could make it, would be safe enough to escape.
Our bed, the one Scully and I had shared, was covered with broken glass, snow and ice puddling on the reflective surfaces, soaking into the thick covers. Sparing it one lingering glance, I carefully lowered myself to the ground. I was about to look over my shoulder to tell Krycek to follow me when I heard his voice. "Go. I'm following you." I guess I hadn't needed the instructions.
The crawl across the floor was tortuous. Luckily, most of the glass was concentrated in the center of the room, fanning out from the window. I didn't gain too many new cuts to add to my collection, but after every tiny advance, I would look over towards Scully, trying to gauge her condition. Behind me, I could hear the rasp of Krycek's breath, and around us wind howled through the open window and goosebumps sprouted on my damp skin.
Reaching the wall that the door was situated in, I finally caught a glimpse of Scully. She was watching my progress, trying to catch my eyes. No sign of blood. My eyes ran the length of her familiar form like a dying man gasping for water, and were blessed by no obvious signs of trauma. Her face was a scattering of tiny cuts and abrasions, speckles of blood defiling the ivory, but she didn't appear to have been shot, and was regarding me with this cool, beautiful understanding of what I was thinking.
I moved so slowly towards the door, hoping, praying to a God I didn't believe in that we were far enough within the room that no one would be able to see us on the floor. When I finally reached my goal, the silent signal I sent to Scully was received loud and clear, and I reached up with quick fingers to twist the doorknob and swing the door in and back against the other side of the wall. I had just released the cold, brass knob when the thin wood exploded into thick splinters, bullets easily shredding the barrier.
No thinking, just action. Rolling, propelling myself through the doorway and into the hall. I hurled myself against the wall between the two rooms, briefly saw the fast moving figure of Krycek following me through the opening, and then I peeked my head around the corner, looking for Scully.
Still behind the chair, she was watching me, waiting to make sure I was all right. I mouthed the words…
"One, two, three…"
And then she was moving, pushing herself through the door, past the shattered bits of wood and glass, landing safe and whole at my side.
At first, I wasn't sure what she was talking about. I was too relieved to have her safely out of the room. But when her hand disappeared around the corner of the frame, seemed to fumble a bit, returned first with one battered duffel bag, and then the other, it finally dawned on me. The bags we always kept packed and ready by the door for escape. We had been doing this for far too long.
The hallway was a strange haven of quiet and peace after the chaos of our demolished room. Mulder's fingers running over the wounds on my face were seeking and scared.
"Stupid, Scully. That was so stupid. You could have been killed." It wasn't really anger in his voice, merely fear. Raw, desperate, hungry fear.
"Someone had to cover you," I said, looking up. I knew he could read it in my eyes, understood. It was still my job, my duty, even with the FBI such a distant piece of our abandoned past.
"Stupid." And he wiped little bits of blood away with gentle fingers, his hands themselves also covered in blood.
"We have to move."
Alex Krycek, the voice of reason. What strange parallel reality had we somehow stumbled into?
Mulder stood, extended his hand down to help me up. There was a lingering caress of his fingers over the center of my palms as he lifted me, and when I was standing, I picked up the bags, handed one to Mulder. Down the hallway, a baby wailed. No doors opened. No sounds of television or radio filtered out to find us. Chile had know some form of peace for a little while, but political unrest and revolt were common enough memories here to keep these simple people behind closed doors, away from perceived danger. I winced as we began to trek down the hall, the left side of my body aching from its harsh impact with the floor.
"Is there another exit?" Krycek's eyes were surveying the long hall, and Mulder shook his head, grim and negative.
"Well then," he continued, "I guess we go out through the front."
Briefly, I wondered how bold our pursuers would be. There was a police force in this city. Not a strong one, by any means, but present nonetheless. Would they be brazen enough to stand waiting in the daylight on a main street, poised behind the front door? I wondered, and then we were down the stairs, standing before the door, and I didn't have time to wonder anymore. Krycek had taken the lead somehow, had swung the door open, and was off and running down the street. We had no choice but to follow.
The storm had not desisted in its strength. Around us, snow churned, slush was slippery beneath my feet. El Nino, I thought, and almost laughed at the absurdity. Krycek was rounding the corner into an alley up ahead, Mulder following right behind. I had lagged in my speed somewhat and was laboring to catch up. The corner loomed large and accessible a few more steps away when I heard the sickening sound again. Bullets ricocheting off the wall I ran along; and I slipped on the ice, stumbling, falling. A gutter ran along the side of the building, clogged with snow and water, bits of ice. I couldn't help the cry that escaped my lips when I fell.
Cold. So, so cold. Water pouring in over my low shoes, soaking up along my pants.
From ahead, I saw a flicker of movement in the alley. I was picking myself up, spitting snow, shaking, and suddenly Mulder was there beside me, pulling me out of the low ditch.
"Come on, Scully." And he didn't even seem to notice the bullets that hit the building as we ran towards the alley, didn't seem to see the rough bits of plaster that shattered off as the bullets impacted. Then it was darker; the snow ceased its slapping against my face. We had reached the alley, and I could see Krycek further down the dark passage, waiting.
"Where the hell are they shooting from?" Mulder was yelling as he held me up, but the question wasn't directed at me.
Krycek had turned away from us, was moving deeper into the alley when he replied. "I have no idea." He reached the end of the building, turned around a corner, and after he disappeared I heard him call out. "This way. Now."
The building we had been staying in backed up against another building, as did the several buildings around it. The effect was a long, dark passage behind the structures. The dark clouds and high walls had obliterated most of the weak sunlight. It smelled dank and nasty, like thick mold and rotting things. Krycek turned another corner, and I was disoriented, trying to remember the twists and turns we were taking.
Our movement stopped abruptly, and Mulder's words confused me momentarily. "And how are we supposed to all fit on that thing?" he said, and I looked up, found Krycek standing beside a battered motorcycle, some lost American reject.
"Well now, we don’t have much of a choice, do we?" Was the reply, but an answer wasn't expected.
Krycek climbed on, and with a few movements, the engine roared to life, filling the narrow passage with deafening sound. Mulder helped me up onto the seat and pushed me forward. "You're going to have to put your arms around me, Scully," was Krycek's only remark, dryly delivered and without humor. I did as I was told, and then Mulder climbed on behind me, wrapped his arms around my waist, and I was comforted by his breath blowing across my cheek in warm waves.
We were moving without any further preamble, and the speed was shocking, the three of us howling down the passages behind the backs of the buildings. My toes were numb, and I could feel the little tremors that shook my body from time to time, but it was warmer on that bike, wedged between two heat giving bodies. We broke out of the darkness and onto a different street, the wind renewing its assault as we left the shelter. I ducked my head down between my two companions, smelling Mulder, wet, and the unfamiliar tang of leather.
The road was long and gray and barren. Twisting, twisting out of the city and into the mountains beyond. Gray, and I tried to discern colors other than that, to find green in the sickly shrubs scattering the roadside, blue in the few patches of sky that remained visible, but the towering clouds held dominance over the sky, and everything below took on their oppressive pallor.
Pressed up against my chest, my arms wrapped tight around her diminutive waist, Scully shuddered from the cold.
I wanted to find color in the hills we passed, some sign of thriving life. The bare winter earth mocked me with tones of gray, the occasional muted brown. Seeming strange and foreign amidst the bleakness of this place, Scully's hair was a brilliant solar flare, stark against the sky.
I wanted to find some color for Scully.
But she was the only sign of life in this place, the only thing of beauty. Cold and shaking, sleeping fitfully in my ineffectual arms, she was this tiny, tiny light against the gray, and I wondered how long it could possibly be before the darkness I had lead her into would finally extinguish that light and only the colors of ash would remain.
So small - my arms wrapping easily all the way around her waist and overlapping with ridiculous room to spare. How could anyone be so small?
She shifted in the little space afforded her between Krycek and myself, murmured something unintelligible. Chilly and dry, her hair slid beneath my lips, and I remained there, with face pressed to the crown of her head.
"Muh… where…" I could hear her struggling to consciousness, finding the words.
"Shhh…" My lips across her temple, my fingers gently stroking along the sides of her belly where I held her. "We're still moving. Try to sleep if you can."
She hummed low and scratchy in her throat, and I watched her eyes close. She relaxed but wasn't sleeping, and I could understand her unrest. Ahead of her, Krycek's face was impossible to see, but he had remained quiet since we left the city. His last words to us had been a gruff "hold on" and then the acceleration had increased, the wind had become a fury, and we broke out into a landscape of craggy hills and empty slopes.
We were trusting him, somewhat, and I couldn't help wondering how badly I would regret that decision in the future.
The crackling of gravel under our tires alerted my senses first, and then I was aware of our leaning towards the side. We were turning, off of the narrow main road we had been traveling on for some time, out into the dusty hills.
"There should be train tracks in this direction," Krycek offered by way of explanation, as if he had known I would ask, which he probably had. The shock of rocks and uneven terrain reverberated up through the tires and the metal frame of the bike, rattling my teeth. I could feel Scully, more alert, sitting upright in my arms.
Just under ten minutes or so of silence punctuated only by our laboring engine and the scattering of rocks, and our path turned into the solidity of hard packed dirt running along the side of a railroad track. This bike wouldn't last much longer with its heavy load, that much was apparent by the stuttering and wheezing of the engine. In the distance, a small, round light could be seen steadily approaching through the hills. It disappeared around one bend for a moment, only to reemerge closer still.
"It must be our lucky day." Sarcasm in Krycek's voice that was worn down by a day of teeth marks and gunfire.
The engine of the bike cut off, and Krycek hopped to the ground. It was eerily quiet with the steady roar of the motor absent after so long. I swung a leg over the seat, stepped down, and turned back to help Scully.
"And we're supposed to do what?" Scully's voice was all incredulity. "Jump onto a moving train?"
Krycek had been staring out over the horizon, seeming to search for something. Whatever it was, he must have found it, because when he looked back to face Scully, there was a somewhat satisfied look on his face. "Yes. That's exactly what we're going to do."
Her face was a studied blank, reconciling shock with present events. I knew that her wet and freezing clothes were a serious threat, but there wasn't really anything I could do about it at the moment, and so there wasn't any point in mentioning it, either. She knew the facts better than I did, anyway.
"We can't just keep moving down these roads," Krycek continued, as if the conversation had never ended. "They'll be looking for us."
The shock finally wearing off, I watched the shifting landscape of Scully's face as she put the pieces together. "We haven't had any problems in months. We've been particularly careful. We've done nothing to blow our cover. And then you show up." She cast a poisonous glare in Krycek's direction. "You show up and all of the sudden hell breaks loose."
He looked back at her, regarded her with calm, but somehow apologetic eyes. "Yes. They were probably after me, not the two of you."
"You bastard! You put both of our lives in danger." Scully made a move forward, and I restrained her with a gentle hand on her forearm.
Krycek's gaze was as hard as forged titanium. "There's danger with these types of plans, risk inherent in order to achieve the ends we want." He turned partially away, looked over at the light of the train growing ever closer. "Your lives have always been in danger, especially during the last several years. At least maybe now that danger could mean something."
I could see words poised and ready to fall from her lips, but the action was stalled and lost when the shrill blast of the train's whistle sliced through the air. She jumped, just slightly, and Krycek's tone was clipped, all business, directed at me. "I can't jump up onto the train alone." He gestured weakly to his unmoving arm. "You'll need to go up first, pull Scully in after you, and then the two of you can both pull me on."
No response seemed to fit, and I remained silent until he looked away again, giving what I guessed was acceptance with my quiet. Ahead of us, the train was barreling down the tracks, a low cloud of steam and dirt following behind.
"Look for an open box car door." Krycek shouted. And then the wind whipped fiercely at my hair, as the train began to speed by, huge and dark and fast.
"There!" Another shout, this time from Scully, and I followed where she was pointing, saw the gaping darkness of a single train car coming towards us.
"Start running." Krycek again, and all at once, the three of us were in motion.
We started out slowly, waiting for the car to catch up. In only a matter of seconds, the open portal was beside me, and I was running at top speed. Dirt slipped and scattered beneath my feet, air hissed in and out of my lungs. I made a lung for the side of the doorway, missed. Picking up the pace, feet pounding into the earth, I lunged again, caught just the edge of the metal frame with my hand, pulled as hard as I could manage. Rough metal dug into my palms. Sharp bits of rust and flaking paint gouged their way under my fingernails. I pulled with every muscle in my body, felt the straining in my biceps and back. Scrambling, kicking frantically, my feet were suddenly air-born and desperately seeking purchase. I had a brief, horrific image of them catching under a wheel of the train, being shredded over the tracks. But then I pulled up again, caught my knees on the bottom of the frame, hoisted myself up and into the dark compartment.
No time to catch my breath, I spun around, looking for Scully. Halfway down the length of the car behind me, I gasped her name. "Scully, come on! Reach for my hand!"
I could see the exertion painted across her face in angry, red blotches. Her chest heaved, feet digging into the dirt. I stretched out my hand as far as I could, leaning out of the car and over the racing ground below.
"Scully, take my hand!"
Her hair smacked repeatedly into her eyes, a dark red fire under the shrouding clouds above. I could see her lips form the shape of my name, panting, and her shorter legs were not capable of moving as fast as mine had. I stretched out further, keeping myself anchored with one hand wrapped around the cusp of the metal frame, the other extended along with my body as far out over the ground as I could manage without falling.
My name again from her lips, and this time, I didn't shout when I spoke to her, I pleaded. "Take my hand, Scully, please." And she bit her lip, stretched out a thin, shaking hand, pushed harder at the ground below, until I felt just the tips of her fingers brush my own, and I grabbed, almost throwing myself from the train. She faltered momentarily, taken off guard by my disruption of her pace and equilibrium. Then she seemed to steady somehow, strengthen, and her pace was faster, her hand more firmly embedded within my own. As she came up along side the car, I pulled and she jumped and then we were a tangle of gasping arms and legs and heaving breath on the dirty floor of the boxcar.
"Krycek," she managed, pushing off of me, and we turned around in tandem. He was running along with the train, pulling in air through tight, pained lips. I reached out my hand again.
"Grab a hold, Krycek!" He looked up at me, something flickering in his eyes for a half second, and then oddly, something I had never seen in his expression before. He reached out his hand, wrapped strong fingers around my searching ones, and there was trust in his eyes.
I strengthened my grip, looked him in the eye, and pulled as hard as I could.