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Wednesday

6:00pm
46th Street Offices, New York

"I have the files, translated here, Gentlemen, along with the maps showing the Krasnoyarsk coordinates."

The Smoker held out his hand, taking the files from her.  He took his time reading through them before handing them to the First Elder, "This is intelligence of the most important order.  We cannot allow the Russians to attain a vaccine before we do."

"Yes, sir.  I agree."

"We will have to discuss countermeasures.  I expect to be in touch with you to make a diplomatic pouch available in order to get a sample into the country for analysis."

"Yes, sir.  I'll make arrangements in advance."

"Excellent.  While you're here, there's another matter to discuss."

"Yes, sir?" she hoped her voice did not betray her.  She did not want her relationship with X to become an item of discussion.

"We believe that you've had enough experience with us now that we would like you to begin looking for possible recruits."

She hesitated thoughtfully, "And these recruits - would they serve any particular function?"

The First Elder spoke, "Having an ally at your side when you travel would be conducive to your own work.  Perhaps one of the U.N.'s soldiers might be of particular use, but many individuals present their own unique access and talents."

Marita nodded.  In other words, recruit someone useful. "I'll take it under advisement, Sir." Silence followed, as some of the other men reviewed the files. One would occasionally look up at her as he scanned the maps, sizing her up. Wondering how it was that a woman managed to get her hands on the information before any of them had.  

The First Elder looked at her squarely, "And your mentor. You two are working closely on things," a pause that seemed to last for hours, "He knows what to tell Agent Mulder?" 

Marita's breath caught in her throat, and she swallowed hard. "What did he really mean by that? Did he know something? Why was the Smoking Man staring at her now, as well? Marita had anticipated a bit of anxiety this week, but the sudden onset of near panic caught her off guard. She swallowed again, and nodded, working hard to steady her voice, "Yes, sir. He knows what to tell him."

Marita forced herself to stare back at the First Elder, eventually shifting her gaze to the Smoking Man who was taking a long drag of his Morley.  Marita steadied her voice, "We know what pawns to play for now. We have our respective situations under control."  Scrutiny. Piercing eyes that stole confidence, destroyed spirits, and hid an eternity of dark secrets. Eyes drilling into her, attempting to extract the secrets that she held within. After a long pause, the First Elder nodded, and Marita could finally breathe again.  

By the time she arrived at the Hungarian restaurant, X was already seated at a small table towards the back of the place. He was alone, but 3 waters sat on the table, dampening the tablecloth with the condensation that ran along the outsides of the glasses. She made her way through the people who were crowded into the small space, and took a seat at the round table. 

"Marita, just in time. No sign of him yet." He took a drink, and Marita's eyes hitched on his lips. "Focus." she thought to herself. Marita tried to appear casual and shrugged, "He'll show. I'm sure of that. He seems as concerned with the instability of the group these days as we do."

X sat down the glass, "Perhaps more so. On the rare occasions that we've spoken, he's indicated to me a strong sense of distrust. I think it is advantageous timing for us to get him on our side."

Marita nodded, eyes scanning the crowd. As if on cue, Alex Krycek made his way through the lobby, garnering a few annoyed glances from the people who had been waiting for a table. He didn't care. He never looked like he cared, in fact, about anything. He was clad in dark jeans and a black leather jacket. Hair unruly, and a dark look ever present in his eyes. A few people looked away as this portrait of a thug made his way towards the back of the restaurant. 

He slid into a chair and met their gazes, "Evening, cohorts." Before either of them could respond, he snagged the waitress as she whisked past the table. A wink and a leer later, he had a chilled top shelf vodka in his hand, and a look of happiness momentarily lit up his fierce green eyes. He took a sip, leaning back in his chair to savour the taste on his tongue, "Ah, вкусно1! Life is too short for bad vodka." 

1 Deliious

X glanced at Marita, suppressing a smirk, "Nice of you to make it."

Alex nodded, "Wouldn't miss it.  And look at you two - no drinks yet?  No appetizers?"

Marita shook her head, "I just got here."

"No excuse."  He gave the menu a perfunctory glance before motioning for the waitress.  To Marita's dismay, she came straight over with a coy smile.  "Teresa, we'd like an order of hummus, and an order of the spinach borak.  And for drinks..."

Marita ordered an iced tea, and X ordered an Arnold Palmer.  Alex looked at X, held him in his gaze for a long moment, then glanced at Marita, "I suppose I'm the only one celebrating, tonight.  Thank you, Teresa."

He took another sip of his vodka, then leaned forward to speak in a low tone, "We all know why we're here.  I need someone to watch my back, and so do you."

His brazen speech took her aback.  But then, he had a way of doing that to a lot of people.

X responded before she could decide what to say, "Exactly.  We're not asking anything our superiors wouldn't approve of, just - that we look out for one another."

Alex leveled a gaze at him, then shifted the focus to Marita.  She was afraid for a moment that he was going to call them out on the proposition.  They all knew these side-alliances would not be looked upon kindly.  Finally, he nodded, "We should look out for one another."

X lowered his voice a little more, "With that may come certain expected provisions and favours when called upon for assistance."  

Krycek shot X a glance, taking a slow sip of his vodka, "I can get you access to a lot of labs, here and in Russia.  And I can get you a lot of FBI files. I do have a badge, after all..." he pulled it out from his pocket, and dropped it onto the table, "A respectable fucking member of society. A pillar of the community." 

Another sip of vodka, condensation dripping across his fingers, "What about you, Blondie?"

Marita froze for a moment, unsettled. She hadn't expected the question, particularly not so directly. She hated being caught off guard.  But, then, Alex had a way of doing that to her.  "I have diplomatic immunity," she stated flatly, hoping that the pause hadn't been too long, "which means that lot of places are open to me as well, no questions asked. I can also provide diplomatic contacts, pouches, and visas when needed."

Alex nodded, setting the now empty glass on the table. He didn't throw the question at X the way Marita had anticipated. Hadn't put X on the spot, forcing him to prove his utility to the small band of Syndicate fringe members. Maybe he respected X too much to ask. Maybe he didn't. Or maybe he just wanted to test her own ability to think on her feet.

He seemed to like unsettling her, and she hated him for it. Still, he was a good shot, and had a surprisingly high level of intelligence. Beyond that, she trusted X to know what would work for their alliances. He had never steered them wrong in the past.

The appetizers arrived, and brief silence followed. Alex was the first to speak, "An alliance will be good. This business is so unstable, never know when your time's up. Never hurts to have someone there in the shadows when you need protection." Marita watched as he scooped up some hummus, and popped it into his mouth. So casual. As if he had just mentioned the nice weather outside. This was a man who had trained himself to embrace betrayal and death as common occurrences. 

A small shudder passed through Marita's body, and she wondered if she was catching a reflection of what she or Xavier might become. Was this their fate, too? Alex's voice broke into her thoughts, "I was sorry to hear about Ronald. He was a helluva man."

Clouded green eyes, staring down briefly into his recently refreshed vodka. "It's a bitch that it had to happen to him. Could have been any of us." So Alex Krycek did have a heart and soul after all. He took a swig of vodka. An impromptu motion that could be interpreted as an homage.  

Then, just as quickly as sadness had injected itself into his tone, it vanished, "Which is why this alliance is key to our survival. So..." he leaned back, and put his hands behind his head, "interested in hearing what life on the inside of the FBI was like?"

X shook his head, a smile turning the corner of his mouth upward, "Been there before."

Alex laughed, "Yes, comrade, but you never had the privilege of working with the world's biggest pain in the ass."  

Alex proceeded to relay the details of his most recent case with Agent Mulder. Acting out scenes, and doing a remarkably good impersonation of the man by all accounts.  When X asked Alex to do his infamous Smoking Man impersonation, Marita and X couldn't help but laugh.

Two hours later, the three of them sat at a table littered with empty glassware. Alex had paid Teresa to leave the vodka at the table, paying out of pocket for the bottle, and the three spent the evening laughing at Alex's remarkably accurate impersonations of other Syndicate members. 

In between impersonations the three of them talked about childhood dreams, and hopes for retirement if the day ever came.

"So, what did you want to be when you grew up?" Alex asked X before interrupting, "Wait, don't tell me...Legitimate businessman?"

Marita laughed, "Not even close. I'm guessing...Pilot."

X chuckled, shaking his head, "You are both way off. I was planning on taking over the family business. We owned a small candy shop on the California Central Coast. Mostly saltwater taffy."

Alex threw his head back, laughing loudly. "A candy shop? I didn't see that one coming, Candyman!"

X shook his head again, and with a wry smile, "All right, FBI, you're up next."  Krycek flashed a grin, "You two will never guess this."

"Farmer?" X called out. Marita shook her head, "No, no. Toymaker. That's about as 'not you' as it gets."

A smug looked crossed Alex's face, "And you two need to learn to recognize sarcasm in a man's voice." Krycek stood, and put on his best Russian accent, "I was going to be, how you say in English, the KGB agent." 

He plopped himself back in his chair with a small salute, and turned his attention to Marita, "All right, Blondie. Ballerina."

She smirked, "Do I scream ballerina to you?" 

He shrugged, still with a grin plastered on his face, "Okay, doctor."

"Lawyer?" X guessed, unsure.

She shook her head, "World famous Egyptologist, thank you very much." 

"Well, at least you get the travel part of your childhood aspirations."

"Oh, yeah, living the dream," she said with a small laugh.  

Marita looked across the table and saw the smile on X's face. He had been smiling a lot lately, and it made her happy. Years of stressful jobs and covert meetings that could get him killed had left him understandably edgy, and it was nice to see him relax.  And after a few hours, nestled back in the corner of a busy Hungarian restaurant, she felt safe in her newfound alliance. 

Marita wasn't stupid, she knew that nothing about her work would ever truly be safe. But knowing that she wasn't alone, and that there was someone — 2 someones — for her to turn to in a time of crisis made her feel a bit better.

After another hour, Alex stood, "Well, comrades, I'd best be on my way, I have to be at a rendezvous at 7am sharp tomorrow." He groaned, and slipped on his jacket, throwing an unashamed wink at Marita, "Let's do this again. Next time, I got it," he tossed a handful of cash onto the table, "It's the least my measly FBI salary can do.  And my next paycheck is not forthcoming."

He made his way back towards the front of the restaurant, and Marita wasn't surprised to see the busty waitress, Teresa, hand him a small slip of paper. Her phone number, undoubtedly.  She silently wondered how often that happened to him.  Marita was also happy that he had been the first to leave for the evening, and she turned to X, "My place?"

He nodded, "Most definitely."

"I have the files, translated here, Gentlemen, along with the maps showing the Krasnoyarsk coordinates."

The Smoker held out his hand, taking the files from her.  He took his time reading through them before handing them to the First Elder, "This is intelligence of the most important order.  We cannot allow the Russians to attain a vaccine before we do."

"Yes, sir.  I agree."

"We will have to discuss countermeasures.  I expect to be in touch with you to make a diplomatic pouch available in order to get a sample into the country for analysis."

"Yes, sir.  I'll make arrangements in advance."

"Excellent.  While you're here, there's another matter to discuss."

"Yes, sir?" she hoped her voice did not betray her.  She did not want her relationship with X to become an item of discussion.

"We believe that you've had enough experience with us now that we would like you to begin looking for possible recruits."

She hesitated thoughtfully, "And these recruits - would they serve any particular function?"

The First Elder spoke, "Having an ally at your side when you travel would be conducive to your own work.  Perhaps one of the U.N.'s soldiers might be of particular use, but many individuals present their own unique access and talents."

Marita nodded.  In other words, recruit someone useful. "I'll take it under advisement, Sir." Silence followed, as some of the other men reviewed the files. One would occasionally look up at her as he scanned the maps, sizing her up. Wondering how it was that a woman managed to get her hands on the information before any of them had.  

The First Elder looked at her squarely, "And your mentor. You two are working closely on things," a pause that seemed to last for hours, "He knows what to tell Agent Mulder?"

Marita's breath caught in her throat, and she swallowed hard. "What did he really mean by that? Did he know something? Why was the Smoking Man staring at her now, as well? Marita had anticipated a bit of anxiety this week, but the sudden onset of near panic caught her off guard. She swallowed again, and nodded, working hard to steady her voice, "Yes, sir. He knows what to tell him."

Marita forced herself to stare back at the First Elder, eventually shifting her gaze to the Smoking Man who was taking a long drag of his Morley.  Marita steadied her voice, "We know what pawns to play for now. We have our respective situations under control."  Scrutiny. Piercing eyes that stole confidence, destroyed spirits, and hid an eternity of dark secrets. Eyes drilling into her, attempting to extract the secrets that she held within. After a long pause, the First Elder nodded, and Marita could finally breathe again.  

By the time she arrived at the Hungarian restaurant, X was already seated at a small table towards the back of the place. He was alone, but 3 waters sat on the table, dampening the tablecloth with the condensation that ran along the outsides of the glasses. She made her way through the people who were crowded into the small space, and took a seat at the round table.

"Marita, just in time. No sign of him yet." He took a drink, and Marita's eyes hitched on his lips. "Focus." she thought to herself. Marita tried to appear casual and shrugged, "He'll show. I'm sure of that. He seems as concerned with the instability of the group these days as we do."

X sat down the glass, "Perhaps more so. On the rare occasions that we've spoken, he's indicated to me a strong sense of distrust. I think it is advantageous timing for us to get him on our side."

Marita nodded, eyes scanning the crowd. As if on cue, Alex Krycek made his way through the lobby, garnering a few annoyed glances from the people who had been waiting for a table. He didn't care. He never looked like he cared, in fact, about anything. He was clad in dark jeans and a black leather jacket. Hair unruly, and a dark look ever present in his eyes. A few people looked away as this portrait of a thug made his way towards the back of the restaurant.

He slid into a chair and met their gazes, "Evening, cohorts." Before either of them could respond, he snagged the waitress as she whisked past the table. A wink and a leer later, he had a chilled top shelf vodka in his hand, and a look of happiness momentarily lit up his fierce green eyes. He took a sip, leaning back in his chair to savour the taste on his tongue, "Ah, вкусно! Life is too short for bad vodka."

X glanced at Marita, suppressing a smirk, "Nice of you to make it."

Alex nodded, "Wouldn't miss it.  And look at you two - no drinks yet?  No appetizers?"

Marita shook her head, "I just got here."

"No excuse."  He gave the menu a perfunctory glance before motioning for the waitress.  To Marita's dismay, she came straight over with a coy smile.  "Teresa, we'd like an order of hummus, and an order of the spinach borak.  And for drinks..."

Marita ordered an iced tea, and X ordered an Arnold Palmer.  Alex looked at X, held him in his gaze for a long moment, then glanced at Marita, "I suppose I'm the only one celebrating, tonight.  Thank you, Teresa."

He took another sip of his vodka, then leaned forward to speak in a low tone, "We all know why we're here.  I need someone to watch my back, and so do you."

His brazen speech took her aback.  But then, he had a way of doing that to a lot of people.

X responded before she could decide what to say, "Exactly.  We're not asking anything our superiors wouldn't approve of, just - that we look out for one another."

Alex leveled a gaze at him, then shifted the focus to Marita.  She was afraid for a moment that he was going to call them out on the proposition.  They all knew these side-alliances would not be looked upon kindly.  Finally, he nodded, "We should look out for one another."

X lowered his voice a little more, "With that may come certain expected provisions and favours when called upon for assistance."  

Krycek shot X a glance, taking a slow sip of his vodka, "I can get you access to a lot of labs, here and in Russia.  And I can get you a lot of FBI files. I do have a badge, after all..." he pulled it out from his pocket, and dropped it onto the table, "A respectable fucking member of society. A pillar of the community."

Another sip of vodka, condensation dripping across his fingers, "What about you, Blondie?"

Marita froze for a moment, unsettled. She hadn't expected the question, particularly not so directly. She hated being caught off guard.  But, then, Alex had a way of doing that to her.  "I have diplomatic immunity," she stated flatly, hoping that the pause hadn't been too long, "which means that lot of places are open to me as well, no questions asked. I can also provide diplomatic contacts, pouches, and visas when needed."

Alex nodded, setting the now empty glass on the table. He didn't throw the question at X the way Marita had anticipated. Hadn't put X on the spot, forcing him to prove his utility to the small band of Syndicate fringe members. Maybe he respected X too much to ask. Maybe he didn't. Or maybe he just wanted to test her own ability to think on her feet.

He seemed to like unsettling her, and she hated him for it. Still, he was a good shot, and had a surprisingly high level of intelligence. Beyond that, she trusted X to know what would work for their alliances. He had never steered them wrong in the past.

The appetizers arrived, and brief silence followed. Alex was the first to speak, "An alliance will be good. This business is so unstable, never know when your time's up. Never hurts to have someone there in the shadows when you need protection." Marita watched as he scooped up some hummus, and popped it into his mouth. So casual. As if he had just mentioned the nice weather outside. This was a man who had trained himself to embrace betrayal and death as common occurrences.

A small shudder passed through Marita's body, and she wondered if she was catching a reflection of what she or Xavier might become. Was this their fate, too? Alex's voice broke into her thoughts, "I was sorry to hear about Ronald. He was a helluva man."

Clouded green eyes, staring down briefly into his recently refreshed vodka. "It's a bitch that it had to happen to him. Could have been any of us." So Alex Krycek did have a heart and soul after all. He took a swig of vodka. An impromptu motion that could be interpreted as an homage.  

Then, just as quickly as sadness had injected itself into his tone, it vanished, "Which is why this alliance is key to our survival. So..." he leaned back, and put his hands behind his head, "interested in hearing what life on the inside of the FBI was like?"

X shook his head, a smile turning the corner of his mouth upward, "Been there before."

Alex laughed, "Yes, comrade, but you never had the privilege of working with the world's biggest pain in the ass."  

Alex proceeded to relay the details of his most recent case with Agent Mulder. Acting out scenes, and doing a remarkably good impersonation of the man by all accounts.  When X asked Alex to do his infamous Smoking Man impersonation, Marita and X couldn't help but laugh.

Two hours later, the three of them sat at a table littered with empty glassware. Alex had paid Teresa to leave the vodka at the table, paying out of pocket for the bottle, and the three spent the evening laughing at Alex's remarkably accurate impersonations of other Syndicate members.

In between impersonations the three of them talked about childhood dreams, and hopes for retirement if the day ever came.

"So, what did you want to be when you grew up?" Alex asked X before interrupting, "Wait, don't tell me...Legitimate businessman?"

Marita laughed, "Not even close. I'm guessing...Pilot."

X chuckled, shaking his head, "You are both way off. I was planning on taking over the family business. We owned a small candy shop on the California Central Coast. Mostly saltwater taffy."

Alex threw his head back, laughing loudly. "A candy shop? I didn't see that one coming, Candyman!"

X shook his head again, and with a wry smile, "All right, FBI, you're up next."  Krycek flashed a grin, "You two will never guess this."

"Farmer?" X called out. Marita shook her head, "No, no. Toymaker. That's about as 'not you' as it gets."

A smug looked crossed Alex's face, "And you two need to learn to recognize sarcasm in a man's voice." Krycek stood, and put on his best Russian accent, "I was going to be, how you say in English, the KGB agent."

He plopped himself back in his chair with a small salute, and turned his attention to Marita, "All right, Blondie. Ballerina."

She smirked, "Do I scream ballerina to you?"

He shrugged, still with a grin plastered on his face, "Okay, doctor."

"Lawyer?" X guessed, unsure.

She shook her head, "World famous Egyptologist, thank you very much."

"Well, at least you get the travel part of your childhood aspirations."

"Oh, yeah, living the dream," she said with a small laugh.  

Marita looked across the table and saw the smile on X's face. He had been smiling a lot lately, and it made her happy. Years of stressful jobs and covert meetings that could get him killed had left him understandably edgy, and it was nice to see him relax.  And after a few hours, nestled back in the corner of a busy Hungarian restaurant, she felt safe in her newfound alliance.

Marita wasn't stupid, she knew that nothing about her work would ever truly be safe. But knowing that she wasn't alone, and that there was someone — 2 someones — for her to turn to in a time of crisis made her feel a bit better.

After another hour, Alex stood, "Well, comrades, I'd best be on my way, I have to be at a rendezvous at 7am sharp tomorrow." He groaned, and slipped on his jacket, throwing an unashamed wink at Marita, "Let's do this again. Next time, I got it," he tossed a handful of cash onto the table, "It's the least my measly FBI salary can do.  And my next paycheck is not forthcoming."

He made his way back towards the front of the restaurant, and Marita wasn't surprised to see the busty waitress, Teresa, hand him a small slip of paper. Her phone number, undoubtedly.  She silently wondered how often that happened to him.  Marita was also happy that he had been the first to leave for the evening, and she turned to X, "My place?"

He nodded, "Most definitely."

CSM: Nothing vanishes without a trace...burn it!

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