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"I made coffee," Bill said, setting a mug on the table.

Edward tapped cigarette ash into the gold-flecked smoked-glass ashtray, "Why should I trust you, Bill?  You've probably poisoned it."

"You tried to have me killed, but I'm not going to stoop to your level."

"Perhaps revenge is more important than your personal ethics.  I'm not touching it."

"Why would I poison you with coffee.  You are aware, aren't you, that cigarettes can be poisoned just as easily?"

Edward regarded the half-smoked cigarette between his fingers, "You couldn't have.  They never leave my person."

Bill looked up, out the small window, into the distance.  A car drove down the highway, interrupting the motel's picturesque view of the mountains.  "Fine, don't drink the coffee.  I don't really care if you drink coffee.  I was just trying to be considerate.  But you, old friend, are too stubborn and suspicious."

"In our world, Bill, there is no consideration.  There is only motive."

"Well, then, I couldn't imagine suffering through this cheap motel coffee alone.  That's my motive."

Edward regarded the coffee with distaste, "The poor quality of coffee only makes it easier to hide unsavory additions."

"Fuck's sake!" Alex reached across the table and picked up the mug, "I'll drink the coffee."  He took a sip, then looked up at Bill, "You're right, it is terrible."

Edward shook his head, "I'm not going to be the one to bury your corpse, Alex."
Krycek didn't respond.  A glance revealed that he was still alive and well, just not talking.

Bill sighed, watching another car drive down the highway.

"Was that him?" Edward asked.


"How long does it take to identify a body and leave?  Are you sure this is the only road out of town?"

"It is.  Fox is probably still there, sifting through my things.  I wish it hadn't come to this."

"You know as well as I do that as long as he persists in this course of inquiry, he'll never be safe."

Bill nodded, "Now that he knows I had additional knowledge of his sister's disappearance, removing his access to information is best for him.  But I wish it didn't have to be done like this."

Edward ground out his cigarette, casting a glare at Alex, "We'll be discussing your insubordination later."

Bill sipped his coffee, watching the highway, "Alex was my recruit.  It's nice to see a little loyalty exhibited once in a while, Edward.  You used to be my best ally.  Now..."  Bill's voice trailed off.  He watched as Edward lit a fresh cigarette, "Was the attempt on my life approved by the Elders?"

"Not approved, no.  I was told that it would be overlooked if such an incident were to occur."

"So it was condoned."

"Yes, essentially.  You're not needed anymore, Bill.  And you're a security risk."

Alex sipped his coffee wordlessly.  Compared to the long drive back to New York with these two, luring an alien bounty hunter to Bill's home, then substituting the body, looked easy.  By disobeying orders, he'd placed himself in a position of risk much like Bill's.  And to leave Bill Mulder alone with the Cigarette Smoking Man now would mean his death, as well.

Bill was a good man.  He couldn't stand to see him killed over petty jealousy.  Because all three of them knew this wasn't really about Fox Mulder's curiosity.  It was about a woman.

No, the only way to keep his own skin, and Bill's, would be to travel with these two until there was mediation by the Elders.

Step 1. Serve
Step 2. Resist from Within

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