An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
Consciously, I knew there was going to be no way around dealing with all this shit, but it didn't stop something in the back of my mind, when I'd finally crawl into bed at night, from wishing there were a way off this goddamn treadmill.
I let myself fantasize about going back to the Canadian Gulf Islands, where I'd spent time once before, but when I checked it out I found that in July every cottage, cabin and motel room was full; every island was crawling with vacationers. The only place that had any rooms available was in a little island farther north than the rest. It was colder, isolated, which would've been fine by me. But the only town there, Sointula, had been home to a failed socialist utopian experiment of a bunch of Finns in the early 1900s, and thanks but I didn't need anything that might even vaguely remind me of the kind of place I'd grown up. Anyway, what excuse could I come up with to leave New York that wouldn't raise eyebrows, or sent me off with surveillance in tow?
I'd barely been back a week when I got a message from Miguel Ansbach to bring the Brit and meet him at the import/export building. He looked pale, shaken, and he didn't waste time or pad the bad news: Arizábal, our FarmaCol contact, was dead, killed in a mistaken drug cartel hit. Due to the secrecy required for our vaccine, he'd coordinated all the details of the production himself; he was the only one who even knew what the stuff was.
So we were dead in the water. Hell, if Marita suddenly came to her senses and coughed up the access code now, it wouldn't gain us a damn thing. Production of the vaccine was history, and along with it, the strategic edge that tens of thousands--maybe even hundreds of thousands--of protected humans would have given us in the coming fight.
It was like getting hit in the face with a brick.
Ansbach gave a helpless shrug; the Brit and I were numb. There just wasn't anything more to say. The Brit had a company limo take us back to headquarters on 46th, but I couldn't bring myself to go inside just to sit around making small talk, pretending the bottom hadn't just fallen out of our only real hope for survival. I told the Brit I needed some air. I guess he was still too caught off-guard to give me that squinty frown of his and order me to go upstairs with him like a good lackey.
I said I'd be in touch, then took off walking, mind in a daze, not sure where I was headed until I found myself in front of a Russian cafe on 54th where a guy I'd grown up with worked. I hadn't replied when he'd sent me a message two months earlier, but I went in now and found him in the back, washing dishes. "Come on," I said to the surprised Dima as I pressed a hundred dollar bill into his boss's hand. "You've got the night off."
He'd been in this country over a year and still hadn't been able to find anything better than dishwashing, so his mood matched mine just fine. We went back to his place, exchanged sob stories--okay, edited, in my case--and spent the rest of the evening drinking ourselves into a stupor.
In the morning I woke up to a pounding headache and the knowledge that just wouldn't go away that the vaccine program was dead and the plans I'd mapped out in my head for gathering the immune population to fight the aliens were never going to amount to anything more than flimsy fantasies. Four months ago I'd been inches from the top of the heap: I had a working vaccine, a partner I thought I could trust, a chance to twist the chains on the fuckers in the board room. And the sweet belief that the old man was nothing more than a puddle of bone and decomposing goo on the floor of a clammy casket. Every one of those things had been turned around now, or exposed as the lies they'd always been.
It was when I found myself leaning over a sleeping Dima, my weapon three inches from the side of his head, flicking off the safety and telling myself what a huge favor I'd be doing him by sending him off this rat race planet before the real terror hit, that I knew I had to get out of there. I had to clear my head somehow, get a grip, even though I couldn't see anything to hold onto.
I managed to click the safety back on, holstered my weapon and made it to the refrigerator, where I dug around looking for something--anything--that would help neutralize the hangover. Ended up draining all the juice out of Dima's pickle jar, then grabbed my jacket and took off. Kept my eyes closed against the brightness during most of the taxi ride to my hotel, all the while the logic side of my brain ('You've been here before'/'You've always found a way to go forward') duked it out with the cynic that smirked and slapped down every argument my mind put to it. In the end all that was resolved was that I needed to get some sleep--preferably a whole lot of sleep--and then decide how bad things looked when I came around again.
But when I'd managed to work the key in the lock, desperate to collapse onto the bed and escape the train wreck inside me, I caught the smoky scent of something all too familiar.
"We haven't spoken since our flight from Quebec," the old man said, not bothering with any formalities. He was sitting in an easy chair near the floor-length window. The ashtray on the table beside him, I noticed, was half-full of Morley butts.
I did my best to suck it up, though I figure I didn't pull it off very well. "So?"
"I've been thinking," he said, taking a drag on his cigarette. "I've missed out on a lot of your life the last couple of years, Alex."
"If you'd had your way, I would've been dead all this time."
He shrugged off my words. "Things change."
"Maybe not as much as you think."
My head was still pounding. This was the last thing I needed. "Look, I think I'm coming down with something. I need some rest." I pointed to the ashtray. "Those aren't helping. Take the ashtray with you on your way out."
In the back of my mind I knew the lack of diplomacy probably wasn't scoring me any points; I flashed back to the car bomb following a confrontation where I'd told him it was no fault of mine that his idiot lackey Cardenal had shot Scully's sister. Still, the din in my head took me beyond caring. I turned down the bed and went into the bathroom to take a leak. When I came out again, he was gone. By rights the fact that he'd shown up should have kept me awake, wondering what he wanted and what the hell extra danger I might be in now, but I conked out almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. When I finally woke up, the sun was setting and there was a light flashing on the phone, a message from the old man. Meet him the following day in front of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park at 2 p.m., it said.
A knot formed in my gut, but it also made me realize I was hungry. I looked through the mini-fridge, took out some orange juice and drank it while I watched the sun melt down behind the high-rises and let my head clear. Then I ordered some food from room service and went to take a shower while I waited.
When I came out, towel wrapped around me, I discovered my food on the coffee table and the Brit sitting on the couch.
I tightened. "Must be a sign on the door that says 'open house'." I headed to the closet to find some clothes.
"Then Spender has come to see you?" the Brit's voice followed me.
"Just what I needed after yesterday."
There was a long pause. "I'm afraid he's been taking a rather careful look at what's been going on."
I stopped, T-shirt half on. That knot in my stomach again. After a beat I made myself push forward. I put my good arm in the sleeve and paused in front of the two prostheses on the shelf. The hook: it was quicker to put on, more useful. Besides, it always seemed to make the Brit a little nervous.
"He's been asking questions," the Brit said, looking up as I entered the room. "About how you came to be with us, about how you'd come to know about and have access to the Russian vaccine. About whether Ms. Covarrubias was being forced to deliver your message about the boy or if there was some other arrangement involved." He frowns. "And about how you came to be under my direction."
"And you told him what?" Hell, this was not the way to start the day... er, night. Whatever. I eased myself down into the chair opposite him.
The Brit shrugged. "As little as possible, though I fear he's going to learn more than is good for us." He paused. "Have you examined this room for bugs?"
I hadn't before, but I got to it now. I checked all the usual places and found nothing, though I did notice that the old man had actually taken out his ashtray when he left earlier. Which was more than I'd been expecting.
"He's always known about the Russian vaccine research," I said, settling myself in the chair again. "He got me a job as a lab assistant in the early stages, back in '85. Then at some point he just took off, stopped checking up on them."
The Brit's eyebrows went up. "Possibly when our own research began to look promising."
"That's what I figure," I said, though I wasn't convinced it made sense; it would take a sure thing, not just hope, to make the old man abandon the promise of the Russian research. I sucked in a breath and let it out again. "So what did you tell him about Covarrubias?"
"As far as anyone at headquarters knows, she was operating out of loyalty, stealing the boy for us. I covered for her right from the beginning, knowing that to do otherwise would endanger your vaccine operation. I told Spender nothing more than that." He shrugged. "As for you, I said you wanted revenge, that you wanted to destroy our work because of what he'd done to you and because you'd been left on the outside. He understands that--revenge. And that the boy's information had provided you, quite propitiously, with the appropriate leverage."
"What about you and me?"
"I said I'd taken you on as a challenge, hoping to draw out of you more information that might prove beneficial to us. And in the hopes that your skills or background might somehow prove useful to us."
"He's not going to buy that. Not completely. He knows you've been on the fringes of the group for years, that you'd do things differently if it were your call." I ran a hand back through wet hair. "He ever ask you if you know how I got out of that silo?"
"No." His brow creases. "I'm not sure whether it hasn't occurred to him or whether he's holding onto the question, waiting for the appropriate moment to spring it." He let out a sigh. "I'm afraid he isn't going to stop at anything we tell him. He may find out more, perhaps that Dr. Ansbach is involved." He frowned. "You'd be best advised not to visit Dr. Ansbach after this. At least not without taking very careful precautions."
I shrugged. "I've got no reason to go see him. Not after yesterday."
"Yes, well..." He stood and walked to the window. By now it was dark, the city's lights winking in the blue-black on the other side of the glass. "I think it might be best if you were to have a reason to be out of town for a while, until I can help to put some of his curiosity to rest."
"What, you don't trust me? Think I'll spill something, or snap and shoot the fucker?" I forced out a laugh but choked on it. My voice dropped. "Okay, I'd give a hell of a lot to get away from this swamp for a while. Permanently would be nice."
"Though I daresay your leaving abruptly would rouse his suspicions. Let me find you an assignment, something very legitimate."
"I'm supposed to meet him tomorrow at two in front of the Delacorte in Central Park."
"Then you'll have to go through with it. Perhaps it will give us an indication of which way he's inclined strategically. It could prove useful"--he turned to face me--"if you're careful with your replies."
"Giving him a third chance at me isn't something I'm just going to hand him. I'll be careful."
But the fact was, the prospect left me jittery as hell. I sat up for hours after the Brit left, trying to put myself in the old man's shoes, attempting to figure out anything he might ask me and how I could answer in order to protect myself and what I knew. Because when I thought about it, there wasn't any part of what I'd done since he'd had that car rigged to explode that wouldn't make him want to tear me apart, slowly bleed me for every piece of information I'd gathered and then snuff me out once and for all.
© bardsmaid 2005 |