Morning Variations IV:
This was fucking ridiculous.
For an hour now, I'd been hiding in the bathroom of Skinner's hospital room. Fucking Doggett just wouldn't go away. He kept sitting there. And sitting there. When Skinner would shift and mumble, Doggett's hand covered his arm and he spoke softly, offering comfort.
Bastard. Every time he touched Skinner, I wanted to kill him.
Oh, I suppose I should have been glad that someone was there for Walt. Scully had sure as hell made tracks for DC as soon as she could. As far as I could tell, she'd stopped in to visit Skinner once - for about two minutes. Then, away she went.
He hadn't even been conscious for the visit.
I wanted to kill her too.
He'd by god been there for her after Mulder disappeared. I'd practically had to drag his ass out of the hospital that day. Not, by the way, an easy thing to do. Skinner's a stubborn one. First thing the next morning, he'd been back in her room. And, he'd stayed with her.
So, why was he laying in a hospital room in Flemington, Arizona, blind and helpless? Leaving only a virtual stranger to offer comfort. And Scully definitely MIA.
Doggett. I'd been watching him. Seemed to be a decent agent. A little bit of an idiot. I mean, couldn't the guy see that Kersh was setting him up to take the fall he'd obviously always wanted Mulder to take?
Skinner was getting restless again, dammit. I could hear him mumbling and tossing. Fuck, I wanted to be next to him. I'd been there with him for hours, keeping him quiet, soothing his nightmares, when Doggett had arrived at am. Biting back a curse, I saw Doggett lean over Skinner again, quietly shushing him.
"No!" Skinner struggled against Doggett's hold. "Where's Alex? I need Alex."
"Sorry sir," Doggett said, sounding confused. "I don't know any Alex. Haven't seen anyone else here tonight."
"He's here... I know he's here," Skinner insisted, putting a hand up to pull at the bandages on his eyes. "Can't see," he said in a lost voice. "Need to see... where the hell is Alexei?"
"Please sir," Doggett was starting to sound a bit ragged. "Just lay still, I'll call a nurse." He pulled Skinner's hand away from the bandages and reached for the call button.
Enough. I opened the bathroom door and stepped into the room. "Stop, Doggett."
Skinner gasped my name. Unfortunately, he used my last name.
Doggett turned quickly, pulling his weapon at the same time. "Hold it," he said firmly, and rather reduntanly aiming his gun at my chest.
Well, hell. This wasn't good. Not good at all. I raised my hand, showing that I held no weapon. "Doggett, I'm Alex... the Alex he's asking for. Let me go to him."
His eyes narrowed. "Krycek? You're Alex Krycek?"
"Alexei," Skinner said in a needy tone. "I couldn't find him again. He was here... I know he was here." His voice hitched and he slumped back against the pillows. "Where the hell is he, Alex?"
I glared at Doggett, willing the man out of my way. "Walt," I offered, "we're gonna find him. Remember? You said we'd find him." I looked at the gun still trained on me. "Doggett, please. Let me go to him."
"Alex," Skinner fumbled at his bandages again. "Alex!"
"Walt," I said firmly, "leave the bandage alone." Suddenly, Doggett's gun was the least of my problems. Ignoring him, I moved to Skinner's side and grabbed his hand. "Walter, leave the bandages. I'm right here."
Doggett reached for my shoulder, I suppose he was protecting Skinner. I shook him off and concentrated on Walt - who was getting more agitated by the minute. "Hey," I said softly, resting one hand on his face, "take it easy, Walt."
Sitting up, Skinner reached for me with desperate intensity. "Lexi, I can't see."
//Lexi?// That was a new one. I tucked it away for later examination.
"It'll be okay," I soothed. "The doctor said you'd be fine. A couple of days and the bandages will come off." I sat on the bed and put my arm around Walt, pulling him against me. "Hush," I murmured into his ear. "Trust me, babe. Your eyes will recover - you'll see again. Just give it time."
Doggett drew a deep breath and stilled. I frowned at him, wondering why he had that expression on his face. Slowly, he lowered his gun to his side.
What the hell was his problem? I ran my words through my mind and...
Oh shit. Babe. I'd called Skinner babe.
Maybe I'd have to kill this Doggett guy, after all.
"You and Skinner are..." His voice trailed off and he shrugged.
I stared at him warningly. Hell, why this? Why now? "I... yes, we are," I said in a low voice. "You got a problem with that?"
The man actually blushed. "Uh, no..." he said uncomfortably. "Not my business... I'm just a little surprised, that's all." He shifted uneasily, obviously searching for words. "He's so... um, he seems so... straight. I never thought..." He looked at me with a frown. "And, you're... what you are."
I could feel my eyebrows climbing up at that. "Oh? What exactly am I, in your opinion?"
With a sigh, Doggett finally returned his gun to its holster and ran one hand over his face. "Hell, Krycek. You're practically a legend in the Agency. Everyone knows about your double-dealing. That you're a... that you betrayed Mulder and Scully. It's common knowledge."
I shrugged. "What everyone knows isn't worth a plug nickel, Doggett. Don't make assumptions based on gossip; you should know better."
He said nothing, simply watching as I returned to calming Walt. I looked over my shoulder at him and suggested he get a nurse, that it was time for a pain shot. With a nod, he left the room.
Bustling in with ruthless efficiency, the nurse gave Walt his shot, the glared at us. "Gentlemen, visiting hours are long over. You'll both have to leave now so that Mr. Skinner can rest."
Doggett and I exchanged a look, then he pulled his ID out of his pocket. "I'm here to protect him, ma'am. This," he nodded at me, "is my partner." He smiled winningly at her. "We won't disturb him. We just want to be sure he's safe."
Reluctantly, the nurse agreed to our continued presence in Skinner's room. After a stern admonishment to let Skinner sleep, she stalked out.
I looked at Doggett, wondering why he'd just done what he'd done. He met my eyes with a studiously bland expression. "In this, Krycek, we are partners. We both want to keep him safe."
I blinked in confusion. I knew why I wanted to be here; what was Doggett's reason?
"Why?" I finally asked him baldly. "Why are you here?"
He cleared his throat and shifted his feet restlessly. "Because I'm learning that he's a man to admire. Because he's been honest with me. Because he's a good man, I think."
"Alex?" Skinner asked in a worried voice. "Who's here? Who are you talking to?"
Perching on the edge of his bed, I reached for his hand. "Agent Doggett is here, Walt."
"Oh shit." Trying to sit up again, Skinner clutched at my hand. "You'd better go, Alexei. He might arrest you."
"Hush, Walt. It's okay. We've talked."
Frowning in confusion, Skinner cocked his head trying to locate Doggett by sound alone. "Agent Doggett?"
"Yes, sir." Doggett stepped closer to the bed and spoke softly. "I'm right here."
"You won't cause trouble about Alex being here? Won't tell anyone else?" Skinner's words were starting to slur as the drug took effect.
"No, sir," Doggett answered firmly. "I give you my word. I haven't seen Krycek and I don't know anything about him."
That seemed to soothe Skinner's fears and he let me lay him back against the pillows. I cupped his face in my hand and lightly kissed his lips.
"Sleep now, Walt. We'll watch over you."
He sighed and raised one hand to cover mine. "Promise you'll stay?"
"Yes, I promise to stay as long as I can," I said softly. "If I have to go, Doggett will be here, okay?"
"'Kay," he mumbled.
I waited a few more minutes until his breathing indicated that he'd fallen asleep, then rose and turned to face Doggett.
"I suppose we'd better talk," I said reluctantly.
Doggett gave me a studiously blank look. "Don't know about what, Krycek. We're both here to watch him... to keep him safe."
I stared in him silence for a beat. "Doggett," I finally said in a roughened voice. "I don't... I can't..." I paused, gathering my confused thoughts. "Why are you willing to do this, Doggett?"
"You're helping him to find Mulder, aren't you?"
I shrugged uncomfortably. "We both need to find him, Doggett. He's... Mulder is important to us - to both of us."
Doggett shrugged. "Well, Krycek... whatever you are, whatever you have been, I can see that you care for Skinner, and he for you. I think he needs that right now. And, I suspect that you have ways and means that are unavailable to me... to him."
I studied his face, searching for any signs of deception. Doggett met my gaze openly, and nodded. "I mean it, Krycek. I... I won't mention your presence here tonight, on two conditions."
Ah. My eyes narrowed. Here we go - the truth at last.
"You stay in touch with me... you let me know how your search is going. And... you watch him," he nodded to Skinner's sleeping form, "he needs someone he can trust right now."
"He has Scully... he has you, Doggett. What do you expect of me?"
Looking back at Skinner, Doggett smiled reluctantly. "Agent Scully doesn't trust me, Krycek. I think she trusts no one - not even Skinner. And I... I'll do what I can, Krycek, but you are what he needs... you, he trusts. The way one can only trust a lover."
I shifted, uncomfortable with the way the conversation was developing. "What would you know about it, Doggett? How can you just think that a couple of minutes gives you any real understanding of my relationship with Skinner?"
"And with Mulder," Doggett said quietly.
I drew in a deep breath and turned away. This man saw too much.
"Listen, Krycek... may I call you Alex?"
I turned to look at him again. "Alexei," I corrected him.
Doggett smiled. "Fine, Alexei. I'm John, or JD, if you prefer. I... understand more than you might think, Alexei. If Skinner trusts you, I will trust you. Until," he gave me a hard look, "until I have reason not to do so. But," and now his expression softened, "that won't happen, will it?"
I swallowed. "And Scully?"
He shrugged. "I'll be a good partner to her, Krycek. Do my best to keep her safe, be her backup on her search."
"She's pregnant, you know."
That surprised him. He frowned a bit and stared at me, mentally examining the ramification. "Is it... who's the father?"
I shook my head. "Don't know, John. I have my suspicions, though... and, it's not pretty. She'll need support if I'm right."
With a nod, he agreed. "I'll watch her, Alexei. For you, and for Mulder and Skinner."
"Thank you," I said simply, not knowing why I placed such trust in the man. There was something in that direct and honest stare that told me he'd keep his word.
A sound of protest came from the bed and we both looked over to see that Skinner was once again filled with the fear and horror of his drug-induced dreams.
"Go to him, Krycek. Calm him." Surprisingly casual, even after our conversation, he turned to leave the room. "I'm going for coffee. You want anything?"
Silently, I shook my head in negation. Going to Walt's side, I sat on the bed, soothing him with soft words and touches. I'd have to leave in the morning. Much as I wanted to stay at Skinner's side, it just wasn't safe for either of us.
Doggett paused at the doorway. "Krycek," he said carefully, "I know you can't stay. I will watch him for you when you can't be here." He paused, apparently unsure about voicing the question that preyed on his mind. Having taken note of the way Doggett's eyes kept studying my prosthetic arm with curiosity, I rather expected his next question.
"Ah, Alex... what happened to your arm? Are the stories true?"
I met his eyes, searching for any signs of pity or prurient curiosity. Saw none. I shrugged and grinned, unable to resist. "My arm is in Russia, John."
He nodded and returned my smile. "I see," he responded, appreciation of my grim humor apparent in his eyes. "I'll just go see about that coffee then."
I watched him leave.
Glad to have an ally... heartened to know that someone would watch out for Skinner in my absence.
"Hush, love," murmured to my lover, laying so helpless in the bed. "We have help, Walt. We'll be okay, now. You'll be safe for now."
"Alexei," he whispered in a sleepily drugged tone.
"Yes, Walt." I leaned closer, pressing my cheek against his. "I'm here... I'll always be here for you, lover."
With a sigh, Skinner relaxed into peaceful rest again.
Morning would be here all too soon and I would have to go. I had work to do - and, with Doggett protecting Skinner for me - I could concentrate on that, knowing that this almost-stranger would protect him in my absence.
I sat up and started making plans for my next move.
I had to find Mulder.
I just had to... I'd not made many promises in my life. Very few. And, not once had I meant one so fervently.
I would do it. Both for Skinner and for me.
And... with Doggett's promise of help, somehow, I had a renewed sense of hope.
I believed. I believed.
We three could do it.
We had to.
I settled myself comfortably at Walt's side and waited for morning.
Silent sunlight, welcome in
There is work I must now begin
All my dreams have blown away
"Silent Sunlight" Cat Stevens'