AUTHOR: Kelly Keil
ARCHIVE: Anywhere, just keep my info attached.
FEEDBACK: Oh, please, do.
CLASSIFICATION: angst, dark humor, slash M/K, fairy tale
DISCLAIMER: The X-files characters portrayed in this story belong to Fox, 1013, and Chris Carter.
SUMMARY: Once upon a time there was a boy named Sasha...
ACKNOWLEGEMENTS: Thanks to the wonderful Spica for beta and general cheerleading. More thanks to Muridae, not only for the beta, but also because she knew to hum along to "Into the Woods." A wave to Kristen for letting me hash this out on her porch in between hands of Skip-bo(tm).
NOTES: This is yet another installment in the ever expanding Undertow universe. See my website for details. Other stories include:
Pearls Before Swine
Shards of Porcelain
I'd put this one between Shards and Undertow, more or less. Also, like the other stories, you don't have to have read the rest to understand this one. All are fragments of a whole, but each one is a pretty bauble in and of itself.
A bylichka is a Russian term meaning, literally, "memorate." It is the simplest form of a Russian supernatural (or fairy, if you will) tale.
Now -- 2000
"Talk to me," Mulder said, his mouth close to Krycek's ear, his voice rough and soft and implacable.
Krycek squirmed and the carpet on the floor burned along his skin. He was torn between keeping his secrets and dreading the consequences of disobeying that voice. Mulder had the attention span of a fruit fly unless you were Samantha or Scully or some species of alien. Krycek was afraid that one day he would run out of fodder and Mulder would get up and not come back. So he dribbled out truths and halftruths, hoarding his store of information for as long as he could.
He had tried lying to Mulder, but couldn't do it naked. To lie to Mulder he had to be armed with prosthetic and leather and denim. Naked, a lie showed in every nuance of his posture and skin tone. By now Mulder could read his every blush, evasive eye, and twitchy finger, and therefore kept Krycek unclothed and disarmed as much as possible.
Obviously there were things that Krycek didn't dare reveal to Mulder. Both of them knew this, and each encounter between them was a battle over how much Mulder could glean and how little Krycek would reveal; how little Mulder would credit and how much Krycek could get him to buy. Right now, it was too important to too many people that Mulder and Scully thought her pregnancy was a miracle of science or faith or serendipity. It was crucial that neither knew the truth, at least not yet. Mulder wanted revelations. Krycek wanted to keep his hide intact. So silence dragged on in the room. Mulder's hand, which had been stroking the skin of Krycek's back, fell away. "I should go," he said.
"No," Krycek said, before he could stop himself, then cursed inwardly. 'Too late now,' he thought with a mental shrug, and plunged on. "I never told you how I met the old man."
Mulder stiffened. "Spender?"
Krycek shrugged. "Whoever. You know who I mean."
"What did he promise you, Alex?" Mulder purred in his ear, his fingers digging into Krycek's flesh. "Power? Riches?" He let out a little ironic laugh. "Beautiful women?"
Closing his eyes, Krycek thought back to the dark wood paneling of the judge's chambers, the smell of cigarette smoke heavy and acrid in the stale air. "O for three, Mulder. I wasn't asked. I was bought and paid for, complete with a bill of sale."
Mulder's hand resumed its course on his back. Circle and downward spiral then up again to circle. It was soothing, hypnotic. "I always knew you were a whore, Alex," he said. "Color me unsurprised." Circle and downward spiral. Kiss and kick. Mulder knew what he was doing.
'You're the whore,' he thought, 'fucking me for information. You're the whore, you self-righteous son of a bitch.' But he kept silent because of the hand on his back, circle and downward spiral, cupping his ass, then drifting back up to his neck. Over and over. 'Talk to me,' the hand said. 'Open up and spill and give me what I want and I'll give you what you want. I promise.'
"Once upon a time," he began, "there was a boy named Sasha."
Mulder snorted his laughter. "Cut the shit, Krycek."
Krycek stifled the urge to twist around and punch Mulder in his idiot grinning face. Then he remembered soft kisses marching along his spine, a hot hungry mouth on his dick, the harsh sounds of pleasure Mulder made in the back of his throat when he came. So his fist curled but stayed by his side. There would be another day, a day when he wasn't feeling so weak, when his fist would fly true and blood would flow and it would be so fucking good, but not today, not now.
"You don't believe half of what I tell you," Krycek said evenly, "so why not just pretend this is a bylichka?"
Mulder looked a little interested. "A what?"
"A fairy tale, I guess you could call it. Or at least that's close enough."
"All right, fine, I'll play along. Once upon a time..." Mulder's hand continued to trace its route on his back.
Krycek let the memory take him. He opened his mouth and the truth poured out. Part of it. Enough to keep the hand moving along his skin. Circle and downward spiral.
Once upon a time... 1975-1986
...there was an orphaned boy named Sasha who lived with his Russian babushka in the kingdom of Chicago in the land known as America. Sasha couldn't remember Russia, despite the stories his grandmother constantly told him. He barely remembered his parents. In his mind he could recall his mother's bright pink lipstick and the brighter red of his father's blood on the white tile of the bathroom, but not much more. His mother, a secretary, had been stolen away by an evil accountant and taken to his stronghold in Colorado. His father, a programmer for IBM, had taken a bath in his own blood, falling asleep there and never waking up.
The only one left was his grandmother, who sat in her chair by the clanking radiator and told him stories of the old days and ways in Russia, her voice quavering but never indistinct, and always in Russian. She claimed that English spoiled the stories, stealing their magic, and who knows, maybe she was right. She told him story after story, and even though he pretended not to listen, Sasha heard and remembered every word.
Rusalki and leshii, dead princesses, enchanted bears, and heroes driven mad -- all of these burrowed deep beneath his Americanized shell and down into his Russian soul. His babushka's tales never ended well and Sasha accepted that. Life never ended well, either. One only had to look at his family and see how the American dream had run all over them.
Happily ever after was a big, fat lie.
When Sasha was fourteen, America ran over him again. A social worker came to their apartment and decided that his grandmother wasn't fit to raise him. She went to a nursing home (for her own good) and he was placed in foster care (for his own good). In his new home, the sheets he slept on were dirty, the floors cold, and cockroaches were everywhere. He doubted his grandmother had it much better. Before long he stole away in the night to seek his fortune.
On the street, he learned to cheat, to steal, to survive. He was pleased to be finally getting an education.
At fifteen he got his first pass from a laughing-eyed man in his twenties. Sasha was on Halstead, where picking the pockets of the drunk queers was ridiculously easy. He shouldn't have been surprised by the come-on, but he was. Instead of moving on to find an easier mark, he stopped. Sasha just looked at the man, poised to run if the guy made a threatening move toward him.
"I'm not gonna hurt you, beautiful," the man said. He was wearing a fur coat and was not shivering at all in the cold wind that bit through Sasha's clothing. The coat was long and gray, and it must have been a silver fox, but all Sasha could think of was the big bad wolf.
Sasha said nothing, but didn't move, either.
"You wanna make fifty bucks?" Mr. Big Bad Wolf took a step toward Sasha.
Fifty bucks. Shit. He thought fast. "One hundred," he said, having an idea what he was getting into and not caring. So much money for so little.
"Seventy-five," said Mr. Laughing-Eyes Wolf.
Sasha nodded and followed the man into an alley that ran beside and behind a nightclub. 'If worst comes to worst,' he thought, 'I have my knife.' "What do you want me to do?" he asked.
The man opened his fly. "Get on your knees, beautiful, and let me see you open that gorgeous mouth of yours."
Sasha slipped to his knees. 'What a little dick you have,' he thought. 'All the easier for me, my dear.' He earned his seventy-five dollars and it wasn't so bad. Not so very bad. Not really.
At sixteen he was busted for prostitution and thrown into the juvey. During his six-week stint he learned more about fucking, stealing, and fighting than he'd been able to learn in a year and a half on the streets. His second arrest was for fencing stolen property. That one landed him in the detention center for three months. It was good to see the guys again, and besides, it got him off the streets for January, February, and March. So it wasn't so bad. Not really.
He was arrested for the third time at age seventeen, this time for manslaughter. He expected a final stint in the juvey until he was eighteen and then his slate would be wiped clean, but the judge had other plans.
"Son," he said, "I see you as a hopeless case in a city of hopeless cases. I am, however, going to give you more than you deserve -- a chance at redemption."
"And if I don't take it?" asked Sasha.
"Then when I see you again -- and I will see you again, of that I am quite sure -- I will show you no mercy whatsoever." The judge looked down at him with cold eyes that held no mercy even then.
Sasha thought of his father, before he took a razor to his wrists. He thought of his mother and the barely remembered image he had of her that was mostly bright lipstick. He thought of his babushka, prattling her stories still, no doubt, unless she was dead. A sudden weight settled around his shoulders. 'I have no one but me,' he thought. It'd been true for years, but it hadn't hit home until that moment. 'I have no one to live for but myself. If I fuck it all up, I hurt no one but me.' He was seventeen, had killed a man in a fight, and suddenly he wanted to cry.
"I'll take it," he mumbled.
"What was that, son?" asked the judge sharply.
Sasha raised his eyes to the steady gray ones of the judge. "I said I'll take the offer. I'll take the chance."
"There may be hope for you yet," said the judge, and then summoned the bailiff to take Sasha back to the detention center.
He was awakened at the crack of dawn by one of the juvey's wardens and driven, with five other boys, downtown to the juvenile court building. He was led to a darkly paneled room that held the judge he'd met the day before and an older man who was smoking. The smoking man had his back to the room, looking out the window, the smoke from his cigarette forming hazy sinister shapes around his head.
"I hope there's something here I can use, Harold," the smoker said, his voice low and dry.
The judge said nothing.
The smoking man turned around and walked to the first boy. He looked down at a piece of paper in his hand. "Michael Cohen?"
"Yeah," the boy replied.
"Let's see here, Michael," the smoking man said. "You're a thief, a pusher, and a junkie. Do I have that right?"
Michael glanced around the room, met the eyes of the judge, then nodded. "Yeah."
"I have no use for junkies. You can never trust one. They'll fuck you over every time." The smoking man smiled then, and Sasha caught a brief glance of sharp nicotine stained teeth. "Next."
He walked the few paces to where Sasha stood. "Aleksandr Krycek?" The smoking man lifted his eyebrows. "Are you Russian, or were your parents just creative?"
"I was born in Moscow," Sasha said, "but I don't remember living there."
"Hm. Did your parents defect?"
"IBM came to the U.S.S.R. and obtained work visas for several Soviet citizens. My father was one of them."
"I suppose it's too much to hope for that you speak Russian."
Sasha found himself wanting to impress this man. He sensed power in him, and within that power, opportunity for himself. It was like the man was a great wizard, and Sasha could see himself as his sharp eyed and ambitious apprentice. 'I could be something,' he thought, 'and this man can help me. I can feel it.' Below that was the notion that not only could Sasha become something, he could become a part of something important, something greater than himself. The second distinction was somehow more important, and it was that barely articulated feeling that made him say in Russian, "It's all my grandmother spoke."
The old man's lips formed a tight smile. "How fortunate for you," he replied, also in Russian. He glanced down at the paper he held then tapped it against his lips. "Whore, thief, and killer. Hm."
He looked deep into Sasha's eyes. One of the first things Sasha had learned on the street was to never make eye contact, and he had to force himself to meet the smoking man's speculative gaze. What he saw in the other man's eyes made him feel uncomfortable. He thought of ogres hiding in the depths of ice caves. He thought of trickster leshii, who told only lies disguised as truth. Apprehension shot through him. Maybe he should have kept his big ass mouth shut.
"He'll do," the smoking man said to the judge.
"Don't you want to look at the others?" the judge asked.
"No, I like this one. He looks like a jackal. He's just what I've been searching for. Congratulations, son. You're no longer the responsibility of Cook county. You belong to me now."
The smoking man turned to the judge. "Get them out of here," he said, gesturing towards the other boys. After the boys and the warden had been herded from the room, the smoking man resumed speaking. "The usual arrangements stand. The amount we agreed upon will be deposited in your account."
The judge nodded. "Of course. Do you want me to keep an eye out for future prospects?"
"I'll let you know. It depends on how this prospect shapes up." He put his cigarette in his mouth and held out his hand for the judge to shake. "As always, Harold, it's a pleasure doing business with you."
Sasha felt a shiver run down his spine. What the fuck had he gotten himself into? "What do I call you?" he asked.
"Mr. Spender," the man replied. "I've got high hopes for you. Don't let me down, Alex."
And with that, Sasha's story ended and Alex's began. But that's another story for another day.
Now -- 2000
"Jesus, Krycek. No wonder you're so messed up," said Mulder.
Krycek felt raw after the recitation, having ripped open old wounds for Mulder's delectation. The least the bastard could do was to show some damned emotion beyond vulgar fascination. Not necessarily of the Hallmark variety, but at the very least he could have given Krycek a manly but sympathetic arm squeeze. Anything but than that shit-eating unmindful grin.
"Fuck you," replied Krycek. "That's it? That's all you've got to say?"
"What was Spender doing in Chicago? What happened to you between then and when I first met you?"
Krycek refused to dignify Mulder's insultingly clumsy lure with any response beyond a glower.
"Okay, then, what about your grandmother? What happened to her?"
Krycek unbent enough to say, "She died in the nursing home when I was sixteen. I learned that years later when I tried to find her." After searching forever for her grave, he'd paid for a new monument to be erected on the site. It was carved with weeping angels. Babushka would have approved.
"I'm sorry," said Mulder somberly, but that didn't mean anything. He always sounded that way.
"Liar," Krycek said. He sounded petulant and he hated it. "Story time's over. I'm going to bed." He started to stand up.
Mulder caught his hand and Krycek looked down. "I always said you were a whore," he said, smiling. He was teasing, Krycek could tell, and of course he was supposed to laugh and let Mulder pull him down. He was supposed to kiss those curved lips and fuck that lovely body and receive his payment for services rendered. He had whored out his mind and now it was time for Mulder's version of stuffing a few folded fifties into his curled hand.
Rage exploded within Krycek and he snatched his hand out of Mulder's grip. "You are such a fucking asshole," he said, and punched Mulder in the face. He heard the satisfying crunch of bone and saw the red spurt of blood against Mulder's pale skin. 'Like my father,' he thought, the memory of blood on white tile still fresh in his mind.
"God, that hurt," wheezed out Mulder, but he was laughing, pleased to have pushed Krycek to this point. 'I've won,' that nasal, gurgling snigger said.
"Good night, Mulder," Krycek said. He walked to his bedroom door and opened it. Before going inside, he said, "You're going to pay to get the fucking carpet cleaned." Then he stepped inside his bedroom and slammed the door.
Twenty minutes later, Krycek reopened his bedroom door. He'd tried unsuccessfully to sleep and had given it up as a useless endeavor. What he really needed now was a drink.
He found Mulder kneeling on the living room floor, tissue shoved up his nostrils, scrubbing at the maroon stain on the carpet. His nose was tilted to one side at an unnatural angle.
"You're not using hot water, are you?" asked Krycek.
Mulder flashed him a guilty glance. "Wasd't I supposed to?"
"Idiot. Cold water for blood. Hot makes it clot. Didn't Scully ever teach you anything?"
"I'b sorry," Mulder said with a lopsided grin that went well with his lopsided nose.
"Don't worry about it. It wasn't like I was expecting to get the deposit back on this dump. Here. Sit on the couch. Let me give you a hand."
Mulder sat and looked up at him. Krycek took Mulder's nose between the index and middle fingers of his right hand and pulled hard. There was a sickening grinding noise, then Mulder's nose was on straight.
"Oh God fuck ow that fucking hurt!"
"Don't be such a baby, Mulder."
Krycek walked away to the kitchen, letting Mulder moan in solitude on the couch. He grabbed two beers from the fridge and went back to the living room. He handed Mulder one bottle and drank deeply from the other. Mulder peered at his bottle. "This stuff is shit," he pronounced, then tipped it back and drank half of the contents anyway.
"Deal," said Krycek. He sat down next to Mulder.
"Look at by dose. It's all bessed up. Did you have to break it?"
Krycek gave it a few seconds thought. "Yes. Yes, I did. I'm the bad guy, remember?"
Mulder nodded. "For a secod there, I dearly forgot. You're quite the bodster. Cad't forget that. Dot for a bobet."
'Dot for a bobet?' What the fuck was that supposed to mean? Oh, well, didn't matter. For some reason, Krycek was feeling much more copacetic. Maybe it was the beer. Maybe it was Mulder's broken nose. Maybe it was just from sitting next to the closest thing he had to a friend in this world. "It's a miracle that you keep showing up at my doorstep in such tight jeans, just begging to be fucked," he said, his smirk very firmly back in place.
Mulder turned to look at Krycek. "But you're by bodster, thought you dew that."
Krycek took another drink of his beer. Mulder's monster. The monster belonging to Mulder. He could live with that. It even had a nice ring to it. "Just checking," he said, and finished off his beer.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Kelly Keil
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