Facing Janus: Part Two
Chapter 11: Danse Macabre
March 2, 1998
Alex Krycek was intensely curious when the alarm went off. It was that alarm, the one that the Smoking Man had planted near that empty apartment years before , which would go off if Dana Scully walked through the door of the office of the Lone Gunmen. (He'd had to rely on more old fashioned methods during her cancer.) Now that Krycek had a connection or two, he was keeping tabs on the old man’s more interesting potential sources of information. Now that he wasn’t worried that the spiders of the gentleman's club would come and suck the life out of him in the night (for now), there were more... opportunities. And there was nothing that Alex Krycek liked better than opportunities, information, anything that could give him another life, another chance when things went bad.
Things always went bad, eventually, but he’d managed to pull more lives out of his ass than your average cat, and damned if he wasn’t going to keep on going as long as he could. Keep an ace up your sleeve and an extra knife on your ankle. Like that little vial of amber fluid he still had. If you can take one, take two, you never know when you might need a spare.
It took him a good hour to make his way up the stairs to that spartan chair, the equipment. He got there just in time to hear Frohike say something about “untappable” and laughed. He didn’t have a tap on the computers, more shame that, but there’s no better source of information than being a fly on a wall in a room where people do not believe in insects. He put his feet up on the windowsill, closed his eyes, and just listened.
Eventually, he began to take notes.
Walter Skinner returned to the FBI, but he wasn’t happy. Something felt... off. He had a momentary sense, not for the first time, of the feeling his commander must have had, sending patrols off into the jungle. He could feel gears grinding in his head, knew he was processing something, but it wasn’t up where he could really look at it, and that pissed him off. He dropped the box of toys off, and found himself hitting the basement button on the elevator. He rode it down, was about to go back up the direction he intended when he realized someone was in there.
He was moving through the hall in a flash, hand on his gun as he pushed the door the rest of the way open. “Agent Spender, what the hell are you doing down here?”
Spender was standing, back to the door, a photograph his hands. “Sir,” he answered, turning. “I just...”
He set the photo down on the desk. “Could you tell me who this is?”
Skinner glanced at the photograph. “That’s Mulder’s sister. The raison d’être of this office. You didn’t know?
Spender sat down heavily in Mulder’s chair, but managed to stay upright. “I knew he was looking for his sister.”
He faltered. “I didn’t know he was looking for mine.”
Skinner blinked. “Your...”
“She’s younger in this picture than I ever knew her. But I know that face better than I know my own. You know that my mother was abducted around the same time as Samantha Mulder, right? And that she was here and then gone again through most of my childhood...”
“When she disappeared, my father disappeared too. When she came back, she couldn’t... she was too sick, too scared, to really be there for me. My father showed up one day, I think she begged him to, and took me to California. When we arrived, she was there. I was 12 by then, she was 9 years old and she thought everyone she’d ever loved was dead. My father told her that he was her father, that I was her brother, and he called her Mandy. How would I know? How could I know that Mandy Spender was Samantha Mulder?”
Skinner blinked. “You’re saying...”
“That I know where she is. I’ve known forever. She’s alive.”
“She’s alive.” Skinner could hear his mouth echoing, distantly.
Spender nodded. “Last I heard, she was in San Diego.”
Skinner found himself sitting in Scully’s chair, but he didn’t remember sitting down. *My brain hurts.*
He stared at Spender for a long moment. At the shape of his face, nose, lips, and something clicked into place. The gears stopped spinning in his head, started whirring, he could see the plan, and before he had a chance to really process it, he said, “I need you to do something for me, I think I have an assignment for you. Follow me.”
The elevator was still there, and a minute later they were walking into Skinner’s office. He did a double take as he walked in, Kimberly was crouched down, looking in a file, and from behind, her hair...
“Kimberly, would you come for a walk with us?”
They walked out the front door, and he led them to the closest transit station, paid for their fares, picked a bus at random. Spender and Kimberly both looked bemused, but each time one started to speak, he put up a hand. He picked the first stop that didn’t look actually dangerous, and walked off into a small park. Finally he spoke. “Walk with me.”
When they’d gotten far enough away from the knot of people on the sidewalk, he brought Spender and Kimberly into a huddle. “I need the two of you to “take some time off.” Paid of course, because I’m going to give you each a bag and an itinerary, and I need you each to follow your itinerary exactly. And I need you to leave today. Will that be a problem for either of you?”
“Sir, I’m not trained...” Kimberly looked terrified. Spender looked like he was calculating.
“I simply need you to be a courier of sorts. I’ll need you to wear sunglasses at all times, and I’m sending you someplace cold enough that you can wear a scarf. You’ll be gone, oh, 10 days, both of you, and when you come back, you will not bring your luggage. Spender, you will be going in the opposite direction, south, and a baseball cap should be enough if you keep your head down.”
He could see something fall into place for Spender. “You need us to pretend to be them, don’t you.”
Skinner kept his face devoid of expression. “I have no idea who you might possibly be talking about, but I need you to avoid speculation. I also need you to give me any contact information you might have on the young woman we discussed earlier.”
He handed Spender a small notebook and a pen.
Spender took the notebook, hesitated, “She’s someone I care about. I do not want her caught up in Mulder’s insanity.”
Skinner managed to restrain himself from throwing a punch, then realized it was only because Kimberly had put a hand on his arm. *Still need the information he can give, god damn his weaselly hide.* He counted to ten in his head, then said, “Spender, you have one minute to write that information down before I have you arrested for accessory after the fact to kidnapping. I am not going to hurt her. And that insanity you talk about... imagine if you had lost her. What it would do to you. Imagine if your mother had never been returned. Might you not move heaven and earth to find her?”
Spender had the good grace to look ashamed, wrote in the notebook, handed it and the pen back. Skinner slid them both into the breast pocket of his jacket.
“I need an answer about the trip I have planned for you.”
Kimberly nodded, slowly. Spencer narrowed his eyes, then said, “On one condition. I want to be brought in the loop when I get back.”
Skinner shrugged. “Agent, that is not up to me. But if I can, I will.” Unspoken: *If your information is accurate, and bringing you in doesn’t bring the wrath of God down on Mulder and Scully...*
He gestured for them to follow, walked back up to the road, and flagged a taxi.
Krycek sat for three hours after Mulder and Scully left the Gunmen with Skinner, considering his options. No need to hurry. They’d be on the road for a week, he knew where they were going. He knew who they would be when they got there. Now, the only question was what he was going to do with the information.
He knew that the appearance of the alien rebels, the discovery of the vaccine, all had thrown the Syndicate into a panic. Alex Krycek did not panic. Not unless there was an actual gun to his face, and often not even then. It had just happened too often, and once you’ve been absolutely certain of your death enough times, it eventually stops being something you take seriously. *If it happens, I won’t be around to care. And it’s not like there’s anyone who’s going to cry. And if it doesn’t happen, why waste the time worrying about it?* The Syndicate was having a hard time adapting. Which meant that in all likelihood, Krycek was going to come out ahead.
He thumbed the vial in his pocket. It was half the size of the original vial. Only 20 mils. No more eggs in a basket, he wanted insurance. The cure for cancer had nothing on this stuff, and he wasn’t about to let the mealy mouthed spiders hang it, or him, out to dry.
The question at hand. To take the information to the Syndicate? To act on it himself? To do nothing was not an option... at the very least, he would make sure that Fox Mulder knew that he had their plans. Currency. Hopefully he would find a way to let Mulder know that would not involve broken bones. Death was something he could be indifferent to, but pain was another matter. *He beats you, but you keep going back to him.* He snorted. He’d get his, in any event. He always did, one way or another.
*Mealy mouthed spiders with their webs of power, secrets rotting like so many corpses? Or drop down the rabbit hole, tell Alice a riddle, disappear with a grin...* He jogged down the staircase, two flights, and froze on the landing, backed himself against the wall as he saw Walter Skinner get out of a cab across the street, a woman and a man, redhead and ... *Oh shit*
He froze, sliding his good hand into his pocket, flipping an empty makeup compact open, mirror showing a tallish man and a short, redheaded woman standing next to Skinner in front of the door. He wanted to go back upstairs, to listen in, but when the door opened, Skinner stayed outside as the two agents went in, and he stayed exactly where he was. *First flight left an hour ago, maybe two, what the hell...*
He went through the list of reasons why that might be the case, swore silently at the bald man across the street, and stayed put. More than one way to get what he needed. There always was.
Skinner noticed a little motion in the building across the street from the Lone Gunmen’s office, but he wasn’t sure what it was, wasn’t even sure which building he’d see n it in. It nagged at him, and he decided to follow his instincts... The three of them waited there, at the door, and when it opened, he said, “Go inside, let them know you’re here for the bags. I’m going to stay out here for a few minutes to make sure we weren’t followed.”
Nothing moved. He waited. Finally decided to cross the street, try to pinpoint where the motion had been. As he stepped onto the sidewalk, there was a rustle, a little flash, and he found himself with gun in hand, crashing through a door. Dust floated down in the last shreds of daylight. Three doors. One stairway. First door, locked, dust at the sill undisturbed. Dust. Footprints up the stairs. He hit the wall switch. Nothing. The building reeked of disuse. Flashlight in his pocket, old habit he’d never regretted. He followed the footprints up the stairs.
Krycek did not breath for a full 90 seconds after he flung himself into the small closet under the stairs. When he heard footsteps going up, he counted... and at the point he knew meant Skinner was not facing the window, he opened the door, praying it would not squeak, moved silently across the landing, and out the door onto the street. He pulled a newspaper out of his inner jacket pocket, and brought it up to shield his face as he walked away. He heard the door of the Gunmen’s office open, turned a corner into an alley, and watched as a car came up, picked up the two agents *Fucking fuck, show me your godamned face, Mulder, or whoever you are* and sped away. As soon as the street was empty, he ran, knowing that the listening post was a writeoff, that he was just lucky to escape without being caught. *Again.*
He had other places. Other resources. And he’d escaped. He always did.
When Skinner saw the chair, the electronics, his heart sank. He flipped the thing on. *Where is this drawing power from?* he wondered, but that became secondary as he heard Byers speak, clear as day.
“You think it will work?”
Then Langly, “You better damn hope so.”
Skinner flipped the machine off, felt his stomach churn. *What have they gotten themselves into?*
He didn’t know which They he meant. But it didn’t matter. They had a leak, and that meant that Mulder and Scully were in danger. Again. *God damn fucking sonofabitch motherfucking leak.*
He was about to call his office on his cell to tell Kimberly that he wouldn’t be in for a bit, when he realized that she was probably already off on the wild goose chase he’d just set up, without backup, without help... *Shit*.
When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he saw the tracks into the closet under the stairs, opened the door. Empty, but an ass-sized bare spot in the dust on the floor, floating dust in the beam of his flashlight... someone was here. He missed them. *Shit.* He walked across the street to the Gunmen’s office. *Won’t be their office for long...*
Frohike looked astonished to see him, even though he knew that they knew he was there before they opened the door.
“Walter? What can we do you for?”
Skinner pointed across the street. “You know your untappable phones? It’s irrelevant if someone can listen to every word you say.”
Frohike paled. Sputtered. “Im..impossible!”
Skinner slammed him up against the wall. “It is not only possible, it is real, and it means that I have not two, but FOUR of my people in danger now. Because you were cocky. And because we trusted you.”
Langly and Byers came over. “Show us,” Langly said quietly, frightened, as Byers put a hand on Skinner’s arm to encourage him away from Frohike.
He led them across the street. The minute they saw the machine, they were all over it. After a couple minutes, Langly said, “Got it. It was backing up to a hard drive. Here. Oh, that is wicked cool...”
Frohike and Langly crowded in. Frohike’s eyes widened. “That is some serious shit there.”
Skinner felt his fragile grasp on his temper slipping. “I don’t care how FUCKING cool it is, I want you to tell me how bad it is.”
Frohike pulled out a MessagePad much like the one he’d given Scully, then pulled a cord out of Skinner wasn’t sure where, frowned at it, squinted at the device, then pulled out another cord and a dongle. A few clicks, a scribble, another scribble, and he handed it to Langly. Langly didn’t take the pen, he just stuck his hand in his pocket, came up with four warped, cone-tipped guitar picks on his fingers, and started typing four-fingered on the tiny little keyboard. A few more clicks, then he handed it over to Byers.
Byers winced. “It’s bad. Real bad. The timestamp on the recording starts about an hour after you all got here this morning. And ends around the time you showed up with your friends. Which means that they know everything they need to know to intercept Mulder and Scully whenever they want to.” He suddenly looked at Frohike.
Frohike blanched. “We’ve got to get the hell out of here. We do, at least, think they didn’t manage to bug the computers.”
Byers turned away. “It wouldn’t matter. I said it all. He’s got their names. And knows... Wait a second. An hour? Did we actually talk about why they were going after the first five minutes?”
Langly shrugged. “We may just have to listen to the recording to find out.”
Frohike looked like he was about to jump out of his skin. “Somewhere else.”
Skinner looked at the top of the machine. A pad of paper, blank, sat there, a thick layer of ragged edges at the top of the glue. “Pencil,” he snapped. Byers handed over a mechanical .05 tip. He bent over, covered the surface of the paper with a light layer of graphite, and stood up. Byers and Frohike leaned in to look.
Frohike gave a whistle. “Well, that’s an answer.”
The words, now clear, in an oddly familiar block capital scrawl.
-Victoria contacts ???
-San Diego (contacts?)
-Martin and Sally Harrod
-Parenthood (Calderon’s project?)
-3/9/98 arr. 8wk
Langly was tapping at the MessagePad. “Guys, I think I have some bad news and some good news.”
Skinner snapped. “Bad news first.”
“Bad news is that this thing has been here for a long time. Years, maybe.”
“And the good news?”
“The good news is that it means we don’t have to bug out in the next 5 minutes, they know where we are and they’ve known for a long time. And the time stamps are intermittent in the extreme. In fact...”
He scrolled back through them. “It looks like it may be that the only time this thing has ever been used, and I’ll have to check my memory about this, but I think it may only have been used around the times that Scully and Mulder were here.”
Skinner said, “Can we please get out of here? You don’t know if this place is bugged, either.” *They will land in Victoria in 24 hours, and we don’t know who the hell will be waiting for them, but we know your contact will.*
The Gunmen looked at each other. Byers looked intent. Langly looked unsure. Finally Frohike shrugged. “Might as well.”
Skinner was blown away by how fast they moved, once they moved. There was no discussion, it seemed almost choreographed. At some point someone handed him a trash bag, and he moved around the place, dealing with the pizza boxes and old Chinese takeout cartons.
It was Frohike who found the electronics in the entryway, buried in the door trim. It was Langly who figured out that it was an electronic “keyhole” with a short range transmitter operating at a crazy frequency. It was Byers who found the component that guaranteed it was built from at least one component only available to the military.
They had the place empty by 10, down to the last candy bar wrapper and case screw. Frohike drove the moving van across town, parked in a warehouse. A second truck was parked next to it. Skinner looked inside: It looked like a standard moving truck, but Byers pulled and twisted on one of the inside grips and the false wall Skinner had missed *Inside smaller than the outside. Of course.* slid and rotated to reveal a thick-walled chamber.
“Soundproof,” Langly explained, seeing the expression on Skinner’s face. “We’re going to need someplace secure. We just need to make sure this truck is.
They went over it with a fine toothed comb until after midnight. A fine toothed comb, a Geiger counter, a EM field detector and a child’s tooth brush with a handle shaped like Tigger. “Extra soft, and small enough to get into the crevices,” Frohike said when Skinner asked.
Skinner stayed, changed into a painters coverall that Byers tossed him, helped them take apart and reassemble the engine looking for tracking devices. All without more than the occasional request for a wrench, the occasional curt explanation, no more information than necessary. He decided he missed their banter. They had still not said one word about where they were going.
It was nearly 4 in the morning when they finished checking the new truck. They went over the stuff from the office, put three boxes of carefully examined electronics in the cargo, and locked the first truck up. Skinner looked at it, raised his eyebrows in question, and Frohike just said, “Jimmy will deal with it.” Then, seeing the look of concern that go, he rolled his eyes. “All he knows is he just inherited some good shit and an adoring audience.”
When they were satisfied, Langly beckoned him to climb into the back of the truck, gestured at him to sit down, and Byers climbed in after.
Langly hopped out, pulled the back of the truck shut, and Skinner heard the doors of the truck slam.
“You’ll be happier if you come into the sound box,” Byers said. “We’ve got benches in there.”
Then they were moving. *I always took the little things about cars for granted. Like seatbelts. And seat cushions, for that matter.* Skinner held on to the bench for dear life.
Once they reached highway speeds, Byers finally spoke. “Your people are not the only ones in danger, but I think that we do have a couple of things that mean we have a little bit of time to figure out how to react.” He took a breath. “First of all, your friends from this evening are probably not in danger. In the worst case, their trek is pointless. If whoever was listening wanted our friends dead, they’d be dead, most likely. Whoever was listening might go to whoever is running whatever is going on at their end destination, and blow their cover before they get started. In the next 24 hours, there is minimal risk. The biggest problems are for our friends when they get where they are going.”
Skinner pulled the notebook out of his pocket. Scribbled on it. Handed it to Byers.
Byers blinked. “That’s...”
Skinner nodded. “Another complication, but one I suspect that our eavesdropper has no idea that we know, although whether or not they know this-- I have no clue.”
Skinner’s phone rang. He pulled it out. “Skinner.” Then, “I can’t hear you, can you wait a minute?”
Byers slid over, pressed a button on the wall, and yelled into it. A section of the wall popped out, a window slid open, and Langly’s face appeared. Byers pointed at the cell phone, and Langly asked Frohike to pull over.
When the truck stopped rattling, Skinner said, “Now try.”
“I think I have someone you need to meet,” said the voice on the phone.
“It’s five in the goddamned morning. Who is this?” *I do not have patience for this right now.*
“I was running your errand, and caught a rat.” *Ah. Spender*.
“Does this rat have any distinguishing characteristics?”*Please tell me you have good news...*
Spender’s voice sounded amused. “He’s one hand short of a card game, and he sings like a bird.”
Skinner actually smiled. “Good boy. Take him, oh, let’s see.. Are you at the hotel I recommended?”
“We’ll meet you there.”
He looked at the Gunmen. “Boys, I think we need to make a side trip.” *Sleep. I just fucking want to sleep. Too old for this shit.*
March 3, 1998
*Phila-fucking-delphia. I couldn't possibly have had him stop in fucking Baltimore.* Skinner knocked on the hotel room door, and Spender opened it. Krycek was lying on the bed, fully clothed, shoes on, leaning back against his good arm, changing channels with his prosthetic hand. When Krycek brought his good hand out from behind his head, Skinner glared at Spender. “Why is this man not in handcuffs?”
Spender shrugged. “He wasn’t threatening me. I decided to be polite.”
Clenching his jaw, Skinner prayed momentarily for the serenity not to shoot Spender for sheer stupidity. But Krycek interrupted this thought by saying, “Because I told him that if he laid a hand on me, I would not help.”
“Help... And just what kind of “help” are you offering here?” Skinner’s teeth were on edge. Hell, they were flipping over completely. *Fucking Krycek. A rat and a weasel, and I’m going to end up regretting anything I do here.* He sighed.
Krycek smiled. Or at least, he pulled his mouth into the shape of a smile, but his eyes didn’t change a bit. “I have some things you want. Things you need. And I can make or break this crazy assignment your pet agents are on. But I won’t play if your people keep slamming me into walls. You have to protect me from him.”
“Which him?” Skinner thought he knew, but wasn’t sure.
Krycek narrowed his eyes, looked at Spender. “That one’s brother. Mr. Better-Cut-Down-a-Little’s eldest. Your favorite lunatic.” He almost giggled as every jaw in the room dropped. “I told you, I have information. You need it. I’m willing to give it to you. But I want protection and I want my freedom. Hell, you have to give me my freedom, or a little timed message will go to people you’d really rather not have know what I know.”
Skinner narrowed his eyes. “And what is in it for you?”
Krycek shrugged. “Insurance. Living another day. Saving the human race from certain extinction. You know. The usual. Oh. And access. I want to know what they know.” He waved at the gunmen. “I want to know who they know that can wave a magic wand and make two of your finest disappear in such style.”
Langly and Byers looked at each other, at Frohike. Frohike looked more upset than Skinner had ever seen him. He was shaking his head, mouth moving, no sound coming out.
Byers glared at Krycek. “You have no idea what you’re asking.”
“Hey, I just want to shake the hand of the man behind the curtain, give the fairy godmother a kiss on the cheek. Certainly the success of the quest for the stork of worldly knowledge is worth a meet and greet. Especially when you can’t risk keeping me here against my will. I’ll play along, help out, be a regular member of the team. Scout’s honor.”
Skinner snorted. “Honor. Right.”
Frohike turned and left the room. Byers looked at Krycek and said, “Can we have a couple hours to find out if we can make this happen?”
Krycek shrugged. “I’m easy. Sure.”
The gunmen and Skinner left Krycek and Spender in the hotel room, and stepped outside. Frohike pulled out a cell phone, dialed.
When Gwynne answered, he simply said, “Bugging out. Complication. Are you willing to take a trip, meet the in-laws?”
They saw him wince. “I know. But we have to kiss up or we won’t get the inheritance.”
He was silent for a long time. Then he said, “I think we can make that. Love you too. Kiss those pretty girls for me.”
He hung up, looked at them. “Auntie Em says that home isn’t a good place, but she might meet us in Oz.”
Skinner blinked. “Oz?”
“It’s on the way to where we were going anyway.” Frohike shrugged. “Looks like our friend in there is coming with us on our road trip.”
“And that means I am too, because I am not letting him out of my sight.” Skinner took out his own phone, called the FBI switchboard to leave three separate messages. “Kimberly doing courier duty, back next week. Spender on assignment undercover. I have a family emergency. Taking personal time.” To three different people in HR. Hopefully no one would put it all together, but at this point, it was all he had. The last thing anyone needed was a FBI manhunt. And he didn’t have to say which family.
It had taken Krycek several hours to get the information he needed to track Mulder’s suitcase. Fortunately, the suitcase stopped moving around 8 pm, and he had plenty of time to catch up to it. He hadn’t been completely surprised to find Spender there, looking through the crack in the curtain... his physical similarity to Mulder made him a top choice, but it was somewhat surprising that the kid was helping Mulder. As far as Krycek knew, the kid had no idea how deeply he was connected to the whole mess, and last he’d heard, the kid had a whole lot of reason to get his back up where Mulder was concerned, and not a lot of reason to be involved with this particular escapade at all. But no matter, he would be a good avenue to Skinner, and wasn’t likely to be doing any wall slamming. He wondered, idly, if the kid had started to put two and two together.
By the time Skinner and the Gunmen left the hotel room, he was feeling pretty darned comfortable with the situation. Spender was staring at him. “Is it true?”
Krycek sat up, put his feet on the floor. “Is what true?”
Spender answered, “Is he really my brother?”
Krycek shrugged. “If my information is correct, he’s your half brother. And your sister is your half sister, your brother’s full sister. Your father... is one of the most vicious bastards I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Spender looked perturbed.
“Because you’re better off knowing.” Krycek twisted his prosthetic arm back and forth. “And I’m better off with you knowing. Might keep you from doing something foolish.”
The hotel room door opened, and the stooges filed back in. Krycek grinned. “So, boys, do I get to meet Santa Claus?”
Skinner said, “We’re going on a road trip. I need to know if there are people other than you that can track those bags.”
Krycek nodded. “That particular bit of data is what we call a family secret. Unlike the little squat near the office. Which is only known by me and one other person, and I strongly suspect him of a terminal case of death.”
Skinner could feel something inside himself relax. *It’s not all blown to hell. Not just yet. Assuming that Krycek is lying less than usual.* He turned to Spender. “You get to continue your vacation. We’ll take this visitor off your hands now.”
Spender frowned. “I want to go where you’re going. I need to talk to her...”
Byers said, “We’ll protect her, but she’s safest if you do what you were planning on doing. A couple weeks from now, it might be safe for you to go to her, but not right now.” He turned to Langly. “Do you have any of the things?”
Langly looked puzzled, then realization dawned. “Those things?”
Frohike turned and left the hotel room again.
Krycek asked, “So about my terms?” He stood up.
Skinner glared at him. “I think you’re a lying sack of shit, and I strongly doubt that you have a “just in case” recording anywhere but on your person, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I know that your associates would make you walk through the walls of any prison I put you in, I’d have you arrested right now for murder. However, these gentlemen here have made an arrangement, which means that you will accompany us to meet their associate. This means that you will be with us for the next three or four days, while we drive there. You will not leave our sight. We will not put you in handcuffs, but if you pull anything, I will have no hesitation at all about putting a bullet through your head. Capisce?”
“Did you forget the part where I am doing you a favor?” Krycek’s eyes narrowed. “I have places to go and people to see.”
Skinner stepped forward, his face inches from Krycek’s face, his hands behind his back. *Don’t lose it.* “Tell me who, and where, and then we’ll talk.” Frohike came quietly back into the hotel room, and sat on the foot of the bed.
Krycek answered, “Хуй тебе на постном масле.”
Skinner’s eyes narrowed. “Сосите моего Дика . Пробуйте другой.”
Krycek laughed. “Really? Can I please?” He shrugged. "I need to go tap a source for some specifics the wee weasel’s loving brother needs. I can cut a good 4 weeks off their stay.”
He sat back down on the bed, removed his arm, and flipped the top open. Tipping it over, he upended it onto the bed. A shaped plastic tube slid out, and he pressed the ends, revealing a box that looked almost like a dosette.
Frohike leaned over to peer at the arm. He picked it up, looked into it and poked a finger inside.
Krycek grabbed for it, and Frohike handed it back. “Don’t touch it.”
Frohike looked frightened. “Sorry.”
Krycek pulled a tiny vial out, just a dram, and handed it up to Skinner. “That’s your insurance. The stuff in there is more important than anything you can possibly imagine, but you won’t know why unless everything goes my way.”
Langly was peering into the box, which contained a number of much smaller containers in a variety of sizes. He recognized one, a tiny metal tube. “Is that...”
Krycek looked. “Another insurance policy.” He closed the box. “Something I collected in my travels.” He sealed the top of his prosthetic shut, and re-attached it. “I’ll be back here at noon.”
He scooted over to the opposite side of the bed, and stood up, moved to the door. Skinner took a step, then realized that Byers had a death grip on his coveralls. He let Krycek go, then turned to Byers. “What?”
Frohike smiled. “I got an A-14GBU into his arm. We’ll be able to find him easily if he goes down a rat hole.”
Skinner felt like he could sleep for a week. “Spender, get the hell out of here. Go stay somewhere else, anywhere else. We’ll take care of checkout. Boys, go do some shopping to make that damned truck more comfortable for the five of us. I assume you have...”
But Byers was already nodding. “We’ll be back by 11:30.”
Skinner took his shoes off, stretched out on the bed. “Not a goddamned minute sooner, or I’ll shoot.”
Continue to Chapter 12