Her Sacrifice *PG13* 1/1
Jude De la Reds
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em; but if I did, my favourite characters would be together much more often.
ARCHIVE: Yes, just keep my name and headers.
SPOILERS: Season 3 through to DeadAlive.
RATING: PG13 for language, violence, and adult concepts.
SUMMARY: A man, a woman, and a life that can never be.
More explanatory notes at the end.
He wonders what it would have been like.
Her long, white hand is limp in his. They wouldn't let her wear her ring during the surgery, but he puts it back on her now, so that it will be there when she wakes. The single emerald glitters in the flicker of the fluorescent light. He wonders whether she'll still marry him. She probably won't; it would be an insane thing for her to do. More insane than following him all these years. But at least she will know the offer stands.
He wonders what their wedding would have been like. They're outcasts, both of them; but she still has family, and though relations may be strained, they would still have come. He, of course, has no family left. She is still nominally Catholic; he left religion behind long ago, but he would have married in the Church to please her. Assuming any priest would let him. Marriage is not a thing he has given much thought to in his life; but he is nothing if not a man of commitment, and marrying her was an idea that appealed to him when finally it entered his mind.
She was surprised when he suggested it, and he didn't blame her. He had spent so long leaving her behind in the name of his cause, that naturally she had expected to be left alone now, as well. But he is not that weak. He would leave her for a cause, but he would never leave her just for the sake of leaving her. He has never given much thought to love, but he accepts that it's there, just like his hazel eyes or his double-jointed thumb. And how he loves her.
He stares down at her hand in his, and he wonders what it would have been like when she gripped it, crying out for him, then letting go as the pain passed. What it would have been like to see her hold out her arms, and to take their child - the child they said could never be - and give it to her. It would have been a room like this, he supposed; but her cheeks would not have been streaked with tears. Neither would his.
Well, that's a bit melodramatic. He hasn't really wept for the child yet, and he probably won't. Not all at once. But he will wake with wet cheeks for months to come. That's when he cries - in his sleep. At least, so she says.
Her hand tightens around his, and he looks up. She peers up at him drowsily, turning her head to face him. He gently extricates his hand from hers, and strokes back a tendril of hair from her face. He says finally, "Hey there."
"Hey," she says in kind. Her eyes are bright with welling tears, but she holds them at bay, blinking. She swallows hard, and he feels himself do the same. Her hand strays to her midsection, smoothing out the sheet over her perfectly flat belly. She asks in a low, tremulous voice, "Is it done?" - but feeling the planes where once there were curves, she already knows the answer.
He nods. "Yes, it's done." He leans forward to kiss her forehead, lingering there when he finds her cold. He wishes he could warm her. "I'm sorry - I'm so damn sorry."
She nods against him, and those tears slip down now. "I know." She sniffles a little when he pulls away, and he fumbles for a handkerchief in the pocket of his jacket. He gives it to her awkwardly. She takes it with a weak smile. It smells like leather. It smells like him.
They stay there in silence for a long time. He passes the back of his hand carelessly over his eyes a couple of times. She pretends not to notice. She blows her nose noisily. He pretends not to notice. There are a lot of things unsaid between them, and she sometimes thinks that may be what makes them different from ordinary people - but he is there, and that's enough.
There is a dull ache in her belly; a void collapsing in on itself. The discomfort is mild; but the sensation is unbearable. So unbearable that she is willing to hear terrible truths rather than feel it. "Tell me," she says at last. "I need to know."
He would not have concealed the details from her, but he had hoped she wouldn't ask. So he sighs, then sits forward, his brow furrowed, preparing himself for the unpleasant task ahead. He stares down at his fingers. Finally, he says in a low voice, "The cranium was unusually-shaped, and the limbs were thinner and longer than normal. Three fingers on each hand. No discernible genitalia, but the blood tests suggest it was male. We won't know for sure until we do the autopsy." There are bright pink spots high on her cheeks, but her skin is otherwise deathly pale. "We've seen this before."
She closes her eyes. "I didn't want to believe. Even after the ultrasound, even after what we found at the clinic - I didn't want to believe." She utters a low, wounded sound that makes him bleed inside. Finally, she says hoarsely, "Was it him? The Smoking Man?"
"Probably," he tells her reluctantly. "He had access to you."
"I should never have gone that day without telling you what I was doing. None of this would have happened." A look of pain flitters across her delicate features, and selfishly, he hopes she won't cry, because he can't deal with that right now. She says forlornly, "I thought I was doing something good."
"It wasn't your fault," he says. "If it hadn't been for my stupid pride, I might have been able to get you away from him in time to stop it."
She takes his hand. "Don't. Please don't." He bows his head, and she waits for a long moment while he composes himself. When he does, she says in a ragged, hesitant voice, "I want to see the baby."
He stares at her in horror...stupefaction. "No, I don't think you should-" he stops short under her suddenly, inexplicably hostile gaze.
She fights for control; says with unnaturally slow precision, "I need this."
"Please - please don't ask me-"
She struggles to sit up, and the tightness in her belly contracts into a full-scale cramp. She doubles over, light beads of sweat forming on her brow. She blurts out, "Damn it, I want you to give him to me!"
He is already shaken, and that raw command undoes whatever resistance he had. Mutely, he rises, and retreats to the far corner of the room. He passes around the curtains and, approaching the gurney, braces himself. The thing is wrapped in a white blanket; and he does not unwrap it, but carries it back to her as it is. He hopes holding it will be enough. He hopes she will not want to see.
She is waiting, her arms open. He hands it over silently. She cradles it, and strokes it through its wrappings, humming tunelessly even while tears stream down her cheeks. It's heartbreaking to watch; but for a long moment, he believes his hope has been realised. But then she bends her knees in front of her and lays it out on her thighs, and he knows that was too much to hope for.
He bows his head when she slides long, delicate fingers into the edges of the blanket, and parts its folds. He can see out the corner of his eye that the muscles in her face go slack; that her soft ivory skin becomes marble. The tears are gone; now, her grief is etched in harsh lines. Suddenly her young face looks ravaged by age. The grey thing lies before her, its eyes closed, its mouth drawn into a thin line, a rictus of muted pain. It is their enemy, but equally it is innocent; and he feels the bile rise in his throat at what they have done - to it, and to her.
She wraps it again, and she holds it against her with great tenderness; and then she weeps in great, rasping sobs. He sits on the bed at her side, and pulls them both against his chest, the woman and the thing, and he weeps too. He weeps because though he never saw himself as a father, for a time it seemed that this child was theirs, and there was a part of him that wanted that. But more than that, he weeps because she weeps, and that is the one thing he has never been able to bear.
Rocking her, he wishes for a life that can never be.
The remote control landed on the table with a dull thud.
She stood there, her arms folded over the swell of her belly, the lines around her eyes and her mouth hard with disgust. She was backlit with the hard yellow light from the street, and her eyes glittered steely blue in the light of the screen.
The man and the woman were frozen there in endless grief, marred only by the occasional flicker of the monitor. The man's hand was held forever in the woman's hair, his face turned to hers; the woman's head was forever dipped to his chest, holding onto him for support. Forever the legend declared, 'Women's Health Services Rockville Camera 4 01/21/01 16:42:38'. Krycek looked away from the screen, visibly uncomfortable; and abruptly, he grabbed the remote and turned it off.
Deliberately, she turned to face him, her hair warm and gold in the light of the street. Pregnancy became her, he thought sourly. He'd wanted her once, years ago; but now he saw her for what she was - beauty carved from ice. How could anything grow within such a cold, hostile woman?
With clear disdain, she demanded, "So where is she now?"
He set the remote down on the table once more. "Recuperating in a cabin in Vermont. Physically, she's fine - even late-term abortions are no big deal clinically," he elaborated, then went on in a neutral tone, "but she's pretty traumatised."
"I'll bet," she said coldly. Idly, he wondered whether she felt any feminine empathy at all; then decided she probably didn't. The woman on the video might; but the woman before him was closed to those who did not fit into her view of the world. She shifted on her feet a little, as though the extra weight strained her elegant little frame. "So how did you find out?"
He shot her a shrewd little grin. "I'm monitored by an oncologist." At her startled look, he said grimly, "You remember the radiation I took in North Dakota?" She recovered her impassive stance quickly, nodding with practised calm. "I told him that we were expecting. He wasn't so sure. He tested my sperm count. The chances of me fathering a child are just about zero."
"You didn't suspect infidelity?" she mocked, a smile playing around the edges of her mouth.
"Yes, but I doubted it. For a lot of reasons." Her smile faltered just a fraction. "I started making enquiries about the tests. That was when I found out about her baby - and yours."
Her mouth settled into a thin line. She did that shifting thing again, and picked up the file off the table. She flicked through photographs for the third time that night. This time, as with the other two, she betrayed no shock or disquiet. Finally, she said interrogatively, "You don't seriously think I'm going to have an abortion just because you show me footage of a woman I've met exactly once, crying over a disfigured doll?"
"You think I'm doing this to get my rocks off?" he spat in fury. "I'm no babykiller. If this child is just a child, why would it serve me to want it dead?"
She shook her head, breathing out in a single, scornful sound. "I don't think you need a reason to kill, Krycek. I think you do it because you like it."
He turned on her then. Icily, he told her, "If that were true, I wouldn't have bothered trying to make you see reason. I'd have put a bullet through your stomach the moment you walked in the door." She paled at that, but otherwise remained very still. Her control was visibly forced now, and that was good. He had her rattled, so he could afford to let up a little. He went on more kindly, "Look, I know you're not going to believe just on the basis of the file. Just have the tests. Oversee them yourself. We can go from there."
She regarded him with cool defiance. "I'm not having any tests."
"What are you talking about?" he blurted; and then he gaped at her, stunned into abrupt silence.
Her arms closed over her abdomen. "I'm not having an abortion. My body, my choice, Krycek - I'm sure you heard of that during your respectable days." She said it with a sneer, as though even his respectable days, in her view, were lightly coated in slime. "You have no right to call me here and demand I kill my baby for the sake of your warped ideology."
He stared at her, absolutely flabbergasted. "Are you insane?" he demanded, his eyes glittering with rage. "That creature you saw was Adam. Yours is Eve." He gave a sound of disbelief. "If you have that baby, it all begins! Don't you understand that, you stupid bitch?"
She stared at him, the corners of her mouth curling with contempt. "I'm leaving now." She turned towards the door, and he was on her in a flash, shoving her up against it with a sound of frustration. She should have looked afraid; but instead, she looked furious, her steely gaze never leaving his. She beat at him with her fists and kicked with her legs, and he wrestled her back with his bad arm across her shoulders. She pushed uselessly against it, her lips drawn back from delicate white teeth in a primal snarl.
He fumbled for his gun, found it, and shoved it deep into her distended belly. She stopped struggling at once, eyes bright with sudden tears. "No," she cried. "Please, no." He pulled back the safety, and she flinched; and he saw the real woman beneath the facade for the first time. His index finger found the trigger and he tried to squeeze it; but to his dismay, an image rose in his head of Marita's baby, grey and misshapen, its head being ripped apart by his bullet; and he faltered. His inability to kill it surprised him; but more than anything it left him in a quandary, because that child - that thing could not be allowed to live.
He stared at her, beads of perspiration forming on his brow, his chest rising and falling with laboured breaths. They stood there, motionless, he holding her with his arm and with his gun, she still and terrified; and at last, he let go with a raw cry of frustration. His face inches from hers, he shouted at her, "What makes you so fucking special?" She gasped, flinching silently under his attack. "You think Marita didn't want our baby? She cries for that abomination of a thing every fucking night. Because no matter what it was, she carried it and she loved it. We both did. But we never asked the whole fucking race to die so we could have it. You're selfish, Scully. You're not devout and you're not principled. You're just monumentally selfish."
Scully stared at him, horrified tears streaming down her cheeks, shaking less from terror and more from the venom of his onslaught. With trembling hands, she pushed free of him and fled, the door banging behind her.
Her footsteps clattered down the hall, down the stairs in a frenzy as he found his way to the chair and sank into it wearily, wiping the sweat from his brow. He picked up the remote control and toyed with it thoughtfully. Damn it, that thing she was carrying had to die, and he couldn't do it. He gave a long, low sigh.
Maybe he couldn't do it...but Skinner could. With the right leverage.
He wasn't a sadistic man, but thinking of Marita, hurting in Vermont, and of Scully, coldly demanding her right to bear an interplanetary antichrist, the idea of using her most trusted friend to achieve his goal pleased him. It pleased him greatly.
Smiling a little, he sat back in front of the television, rewound the tape, and watched it again. His heart twisted as it always twisted when Marita began to weep, but this time, he watched with grim vindication.
Because one way or another, her sacrifice would be redeemed.
ENDNOTE: This was in fact written by Deslea R. Judd. When I first posted this publicly, I did so under another name to keep readers guessing. Had I revealed that I was the author, you'd have all known it was Krycek/Marita all along! There were a lot of clues scattered through the text, which I'll list in a moment. But first - the background.
It seemed to me that Krycek's actions in DeadAlive were illogical; and Krycek is not an illogical man. If you want someone's baby dead, you don't ask her best friend to do it - you do it yourself, unless for some reason you can't. Since moral rectitude is not a likely explanation in Krycek's case, there had to be something else - some personal idiosyncrasy or weakness. Krycek's weakness, of course, is Marita. This story started out addressing that theme. It became clear to me, however, that this was also prime fodder for a surprise-ending fic, or trickfic as I like to call them, which I have wanted to try for a while. So...did I get you?
By the way - if you missed the clues, they were:
(1) The story was written by "Jude De la Reds", which is an anagram my name (right down to the capitalisation), and which includes my IRC/ICQ nickname, Red. As I am a very prominent noromo and Krycek/Marita author/webmistress, if you picked up on the name, you should have been clued into the trickery at once.
(2) Alex releases Marita's hand in order to free himself to stroke back her hair. Mulder could have used his other hand.
(3) Marita is Catholic in this fic. Naturally, you were supposed to believe that Scully was meant. However, I have written Marita as Catholic several times before. If you suspected I was the writer, this should have been a dead giveaway.
(4) The reference to Alex leaving Marita for a cause. If I had been speaking of Mulder I would probably have used the word "quest". It's pretty clear that his relationship with Marita has been intermittent, broken up by his trek to Russia and other places.
(5) The reference to Alex crying in his sleep. Mulder has not had much trouble shedding tears when a situation called for it.
(6) The leather jacket could be either Mulder or Alex, but Alex is more likely to fumble for the handkerchief since he has only one hand to work with.
(7) Marita's reference to doing something good without consulting Alex referred, of course, to the boy in Patient X; resulting in her involvement in the tests. You were supposed to think I meant Scully going away with CSM in En Ami. Alex's rejoinder about pride was a reference to One Son.
(8) Probably the biggest giveaway was Marita waiting before demanding to see the body. Scully would have asked for this at once, and she would not have simply accepted Mulder's belief that the child was alien. Marita, however, knows enough to trust Alex on this, and asks to see the body as part of her grieving process, rather than out of disbelief.
(9) Although you could have read the first scene and thought that it followed a complicated birth, once you were told this was a late-term abortion, this would have been a hint that it was probably - but not certainly - a woman other than Scully.
(10) The mention of infertility was also an indicator, particularly for those readers who had an idea about the story's authorship. Alex was exposed to huge amounts of radiation in Season 3 (Apocrypha). I have written him as being infertile as a consequence on several occasions. You were, of course, supposed to think that Scully's infertility was meant.
(11) Alex stares down at his fingers while telling Marita about the baby. Mulder would have stared down at his hands. I very nearly used the word 'hand' and let people think it was a typo, but I thought that might be too obvious.
(12) In the scene between Scully and Krycek, which you were meant to take as Krycek and Marita, Scully calls him Krycek. Even in conflict, Marita has always called him Alex. Also, her "golden" hair was another deliberate ambiguity. Marita is blonde, but Scully is a redhead. Both hair colours can seem like shades of gold in the right light. Elsewhere I mention that the light is yellow. Yellow light would make Scully's hair look gold, but Marita's would probably just look yellow.
(13) Scully's eyes gleam blue in the blue light of the screen. Marita's eyes are green, so hers would probably gleam aqua.
(14) Alex says 'we were expecting a child' in a way which sharply contrasts with his cold treatment of the woman in the room with him, but which coincides with the relationship between the man and woman on camera.
(15) Krycek looks uncomfortable when he shuts off the tape. He would not be uncomfortable if the tape were of Scully and Mulder. But showing such an intimate tape of himself to Scully makes his discomfort understandable.
(16) The abortion took place at Women's Health Services in Rockville Maryland. This is a clinic at which Mulder found Samantha clones experimenting in Endgame. Scully would never have gone there; but Alex and Marita might go there for exactly that reason, soliciting the assistance of these apparent rebels. Also, the datestamp was January 2001, which seems to fall during Mulder's absence.
(17) Scully knew Alex was exposed to radiation in North Dakota, whereas Marita may or may not know that. Scully is more likely to be caught off-guard by Alex's revelation of his potential for cancer, being a cancer sufferer herself, than an apparently cold Marita.
(18) Marita is more likely to have reluctant pity for her enemies or those she holds in contempt (CSM, Requiem) than Scully (Klemperer, Paper Clip). Scully tends to write off those people who don't meet her moral standards in a way that Marita does not.
So...did I have you going, or not? Let me know! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or read more fiction at http://fiction.deslea.com.