Ten kisses that may never have happened
1. (2: Sleepless, Duane Barry, Ascension)
The set-up: Krycek knows Mulder, and Mulder thinks he knows Krycek – a situation that will never change. Late night stakeouts, conversations already laced with subtext. Mulder is the experienced one, playing seen-all and can-all and scattering sunflower seeds on the sky to watch them bloom, while Krycek plays the green(-eyed) agent a little too well. And Mulder can't help but feel sympathy for his vulnerable partner – imaginary guns leading to imaginary make-out in a world that's going to turn upside-down soon enough, the void left by Scully not filled, but taped over with physical comfort. The only truce for a long time is transient.
This is the moment: the night before the final debriefing, the last night they will see each other as partners, friends; the night before the curtain closes at the end of the first act to separate them and Krycek slinks back into the shadows.
Mulder despairs in the too-narrow corridors, curses the bureau, the little gray aliens, sloshes plastic-cup water all over his suit. Barely restrains himself from lashing out at Krycek. Sublimates, instead: creates the first of many too-close encounters, stretches the rubber band that snaps them together. And Krycek hears his boss's words in his mind – you have no rights. This, though, no one would have to know, no one could order him not to do, and so he steals a kiss.
In the middle of Mulder's rant, while the older agent is breathing self-depreciation against his face and the man he almost killed – would have to destroy – is leaking craziness through every pore. Just a quick press of lips, Mulder's still moving under his with half-shaped words but too shocked to close his mouth. Krycek licks, tastes, leaves.
The next day, he is Alex. The day after: Double-Crossing Son Of A Bitch.
2. (2: Anasazi, The Blessing Way, Paper Clip)
It's the same as before, but now Mulder's profanities and insults are directed at Krycek. The shadow world of the supernatural and the hazy world of relationships-that-aren't have long ago merged for both. Krycek should be dead, but survives; Mulder dies and is resurrected: neither is a coward nor valiant, though.
It is almost impossible then, when the sides are so clear, the distance so great. And yet, it could be: a kiss of life from the killer to the dead, neither caring about the other's pleasure, a hint of the intricacies they're about to become involved in. Mulder wants to feel alive again, wants to feel something tangible. And another fight for dominance that neither wins.
3. (3: Piper Maru & Apocrypha)
Or it could be the alien controlling Alex, oozing through his bloodstream like Old One liquefied, Cthulhu evolved to the next step. He wakes up for a few seconds while he's filing at the serial number of a gun in a motel that could be anywhere in the world to think,
this is not my life.
He's asleep again before he's finished turning the gun around.
When he is buried alive, later, he wonders whether he really lived in those last days.
Stupid-ass haircut. Boom-boom. They have no weapons, but still lash out, adamant to make the other flinch first.
Kinky: handcuffs. Physical violence, and the sexual tension becomes physical. Their eyes flicker up, down, but neither looks away. In their entanglement every shift and word only brings them closer, unable – unwilling, for they are both gamblers, in a way – to escape the intimacy. They can taste it in the air: Krycek exhales, Mulder inhales, neither moves. Scully might as well be invisible.
It's Krycek's home, the cold, inhospitable place he doesn't want to return to. He burns with resentment, and not even he knows why, but he follows Mulder like a puppy, cursing and manic. Pays a price. Lets Mulder down, once again – or so it seems. The truth is: what would he have done, had Mulder left him behind? What didn't happen in the past that would have kept Krycek from following, if he had known Mulder's plan?
Mulder wants the truth, but wouldn't know what to do with it. Krycek wants a reason, but doesn't deserve it anymore. A hunger drives them to feed each other lies and unwelcome truths, to quantify guilt and throw it into each other's faces. Their tangled web they wrap around themselves.
Their confinement relieves them of their responsibilities. Survival becomes most important, the FBI and the Consortium cannot listen inside the cell. They're caught, thrust together in a situation better than any slash writer could have hoped for. It's a closeness that can only last until day breaks, that couldn't survive the sunlight.
A closeness enforced by damp prison walls. Alex is claustrophobic after his stay in the silo, can't tell the truth of his own words. Says no and means yes, steps closer. Silence. Fade to black.
Brainwashed Mulder and Believer Scully. There's a lot of faith and hope lost, given up. A new void, where simple government conspiracies cannot substitute aliens. And Mulder says it, or doesn't: I want to believe. But whom? It is curious that neither Scully nor Cassandra can make him believe, that he does not trust his own senses.
Instead: Faith travels the line of a gun, lies in an assassin's eyes and words. One kiss, for luck or trust or simply because there can't be no kiss, and why not a few inches to the right, why not more? Tasting of truth, of inevitability. Both are wearing yesterday's clothes and tired smiles, are too close to the edge not to feel – Krycek's lips, chapped from his captivity but insistent, a sense-memory that has always lingered, half-formed, in Mulder's subconscious. No consortiums or oiliens between them, and he can feel both past and future in Alex' touch. Doesn't want more than the present, though. The real surprise: there is no violence, no punches, even though they're both armed, undisturbed.
Canon: "The Red and the Black", a novel by Stendahl - 'She will be angry, will heap contempt upon me, what of that? I give her a kiss, a final kiss, I go up to my room and kill myself ... ; my lips will have touched her cheek before I die!'
In the twilit apartment, the layers of truth are unpeeled: three arms, one and a half believer. Motives that become blurred, trust muddled with faith - belief is too vague in the light of proof. They chip away at I want to believe until it becomes I want. Alex builds a ladder to the stars: you, me, conspiracy.
6. (6: Two Fathers & One Son)
First everything goes according to plan, then everything goes – according to Krycek – to hell.
Consortium members vanishing in the light, sins burned away. Survival of the fittest, and finally it pays off that he never managed to choose sides. They will build the new and improved Republic of Heaven, and lay the first stone tonight.
All bets are off. A celebration, because the world is saved, at least for now. They shine and glimmer in the cosmic dust, burn brightly in the fiery death of the old world. A half-smile on Alex' lips when he jiggles his lock picks, and Mulder is waiting, expecting. His kisses taste finer than champagne, but are equally intoxicating. They move in unison – for perhaps the first time – to shed the past with their clothes, alive, alive. Truths are invaluable, worthless, mingled with bites and imprinted on Mulder's skin. The only truth that matters is in their breathless encouragements, in the way Alex' legs part when Mulder runs his hands over his buttocks. There's a shitload of un-addressed issues, unspoken arguments, unasked questions that all pile up in Mulder's head, but he only thinks: This is good.
Of course, in the morning Krycek has to leave, or else they would hate themselves.
7. (7: Sixth Extinction I & II)
This, too, is part of Mulder's perfect New World, this smiling stranger. They twist and turn in this wispy reality, to become everything they can be – there. Alex comes when the Smoking Man leaves, and stays until he returns, alerted by some precognitive sense that's tied into Mulder's dream-weaving. He kisses Mulder like he has been waiting to do so for seven years, hot and wet and never teasing. Indeed, in this curious world, Alex' kisses are what grounds Mulder. He allows himself to love the soft sheets tangled around their bodies, love the western sun that makes their skin glow, loves Alex' sure weight pressing him into the mattress – fuckyesdothatagain – loves how his eyes go from hazy emerald to clear pine green when Mulder worships his body. It is the one thing that makes him believe in this, because he wanted it – not the absence of screams and blood and sweat, or the lack of mysteries and half-truths, but Alex' presence. He is more alive than he has ever been.
It is all different, yet familiar, as dreams often are, and later he wishes he could call Alex and say, 'Where have you been? I dreamt about you last night, and woke up with a headache.'
8. (7: Requiem)
Countless chances not taken, and they're pulled together again like a rubber band. The alliance of the human resistance, the Band of Buggered: the Last Supper. Jesus and Judas in a last meeting before it all goes to hell. Alex rises, acts. Does the deed by light of day, because he's become a player. He pulls the strings and cuts the Smoker off – no more GRUDGEs. And Mulder's silent Our Fathers become true: Praise Fort, for his is the data.
Still caught between finding and using the truth.
This is when it should have happened: A first and last kiss goodbye that – in the spirit of their relationship – isn't quite a betrayal. That isn't more that it seems, though both suspect it to be. It's Alex who acts first, who knows enough to take an almost-last chance. Who smiles and tries to make the kiss both soft and hard, a statement rather than a question, and strokes Mulder's neck thinking of white lights in the sky. Mulder thinks of a night two years ago, when he was led back to faith.
Or maybe sometime between Mulder's sudden reappearance
and Alex's death.
When destiny happened, but to the wrong persons. Mulder is there, but at the same time not; the top-athlete watching from the sidelines, Schroediger's cat on the trail of truth, happiness and plot points.
How would it been, if Mulder continued further on his path of self-discovery, saw and accepted this part of fate? It would be sudden, born from a moment of spontaneous intimacy, secrets escaping they thought they'd buried. A destiny, perhaps, that could be played out now, when both allow themselves to feel, when both know the perpetuum mobile they touched will turn no matter what. When they are free of the little adversaries, and not pursued by the big ones yet – there is time then, time for a break-in for old times' sake, time for Chinese and peach wine while they poke at each others' not-so-weak spots.
They save each other – trust each other – to fight another day. Familiar is what they are, and they have gone beyond contempt and moved on to being content. This would be the time to look back, but in the file cabinets of Mulder's mind, Krycek's name becomes indistinct as he moves through his permutations. They are – almost – back at the beginning.
Has it happened already, and we missed it?
And who says Krycek is dead? On the X-Files, no one dies, not when Krycek can be so much-many: alien, super-soldier, clone, ghost, resurrected. There's a happy ending for every hero, every half-assed informant. People see Elvis three times a day in three different locations, and it wouldn't be exciting without the possibility of Alex Krycek popping up when you least expect him.
And really, everything that happened after Mulder was taken up to the ship was probably a bad dream. Shame on us for believing it.
Does it matter?
The truth-seeker has found and become the truth, and disillusion tastes like ashes and sand in the desert. One has almost trapped himself in the web of lies, the other has finally escaped, out of view. They are interchangeable, caught up in an incessant game of spin-the-gun.