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This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Deny Nothing

She was showered, flossed, and dressed in her blue suit by the time he got back from his breakfast run. Alex gave her the donut and the coffee and she thanked him politely.

"We need to figure out where they might have taken him," he pointed out as she sipped and reviewed the Gunmen's revised list, faxed to her computer minutes before. They'd pulled ownership records, noted what kind of storage space was available in each place, and indicated whether power and phone lines were still active. He had to hope that the list was still somewhat useful. Even covert arms dealers have a hard time finding infinite funds, so it was likely that the sites were still active. Always assuming that Mulder wasn't already dead, executed just to be safely out of the way. Even then, Alex needed to see the body. Mulder had been announced dead more often than disco, and Alex just wasn't willing to trust second-hand reports.

Scully ponted a rounded nail at the middle name on the list. "Let's go there."

"Why?" He knew Scully wasn't the hunch type.

He knew lots of untrue things. She shifted uncomfortably on her feet. "It's, ah, closer than most of the others."

"But not all."

"No, but … it's a warehouse, not a regular store and it's probably easier to hide … things … there."

"Scully."

"What?"

"I'll go along if you admit it's your woman's intuition."

"Get in the car, Krycek."

****

Alex wanted a miner's hat so that his missing arm wouldn't force him to choose between light and weaponry. He'd have to remember to get one. As it was he trod upon Scully's heels, gun aimed into the darkness surrounding them like styrofoam packing. They'd come in through the human-sized door, ignoring the locked loading dock with the stylish gang tags spraypainted across the garage-style doors. The storage room was large, but it felt crowded nonetheless.

Scully swung her flashlight beam into the gloom. He felt rather like Scooby Doo following Velma into the haunted house. Although Scooby was no cripple. And Scully's breasts were — he heard liquid sloshing and tensed.

"What was that?" she asked in her melted-butter tones.

Somehow 'I don't know' seemed unmanly so he stayed silent.

Her light stretched a glowing finger over flattened cardboard boxes and folding chairs stacked six feet high on pallets. Against one wall of the large storage room he saw a pile of white plastic top hats with red and blue bunding surrounding the crowns. Industrial-size rolls of crepe paper were stacked next to containers filled with sporks.

"What is this place?"

"It's a supply depot for the Convention Center," she whispered back. And he hadn't even noticed that he was whispering. "There's something about large groups of conventioneers that destroys all sense of sanity," she waved at the top hats.

A low liquid gurgle came again, behind him this time, like blood being vomited from a drain in a cheap horror film.

Memories of breaking his nails on the door of the missile silo-cum-crypt in North Dakota intruded. His hand tightened on his gun, for all the good it would do. Scully was turning, following the source of the noise through a doorless doorway, further into the dark.

He slipped into the throat-like hallway after her, superstitiously following in her precise footsteps, as if that would protect him from falling through the floor. With two feet, he could imitate her footwork.

Movement ahead, larger than the average warehouse animal. He fired without thinking and saw the spark as the bullet scraped metal. Someone broke into a shuffling blind run as Scully cursed and fired. She swung the light in sweeping zigzags, catching cobwebs that were torn and fluttering from a human passage.

Scully jogged ahead, past more boxes of disposable tablecloths and individually packaged sanitary napkins suitable for bathroom dispensers, towards the back of the building.

No longer watching his feet, he skimmed over concrete rough with wadded paper and sticky with spilled fluids. Scully with her shorter legs was still outpacing him.

The lights flared on, blinding him for a moment. Their unknown companion must have reached a switch. That meant a door — sure enough, a metallic clang echoed down the hallway.

Then another thunk, this one like a wooden door closing.

Scully charged ahead as he tried to process the two noises. Then he nearly ran into her; she'd stopped as if halted by disc brakes.

There was a door, a wooden one.

But they were separated from it by a toppled metal barrel.

And an oil slick, spreading rapidly from the barrel in thin wormy fingers.

**** "What is that?" Scully asked harshly as she backed away. The oil arrowed towards them, as if it were dripping down a vertical wall.

He swallowed as he retreated. "I hear you spent some time in the Antarctic."

"Yeah." They were backpedaling. The oil crawled up the sides of the walls, gaining slightly.

"You better hope you still have antibodies."

"I was stung –"

His body was dumping so much adrenalin into his bloodstream that he couldn't have manufactured it all himself. There had to be bungee jumpers out there wondering where the thrill had gone. "Same weapon," his voice cracked, "different transmission mechanism. Fire will kill it."

If they couldn't start a fire he'd blow his own head off before it could take over.

Scully's heel caught on a dirt-stiff rag and she fell backwards, into him. He would have raised his hand to help her, but it was full of gun. So he stumbled as well and the oil reached the walls on either side of them. It telescoped towards them, increasing in volume as it lapped at their shoes.

Alex dropped his gun and grabbed Scully's shoulder, dragging her backwards. He had a lighter, if they could get back to all the cardboard boxes. Maybe they could die of smoke inhalation rather than colonization.

He shouldn't have tried to drag her. For a grown woman she was as light as fat-free cream cheese but he didn't have enough balance to do it and he yelped as they both went over.

The invasion was nothing like being taken over by the full alien. That hadn't hurt; like many a parasite it had somehow numbed him. Novocain from the stars.

This was like being strapped into a malfunctioning electric chair. He felt the back of his head slam into the floor as he convulsed and for a moment he thought he'd swallowed his tongue. Worms swirled around and over his hand and swam through the sclera of his eyes.

The pain was galactic. They swarmed in his lungs, in his heart, the large muscles of his thighs, like maggots on a corpse. It hurt like the rotting stump of his arm had hurt before he finally got to a hospital. His fingers twitched against the coiling mass of wormy fluid that would be his deathbed. They were eating his skin from the inside out.

And then he was vomiting black. Slimy wetness was gushing from his eyes and ears into his hair. He was too weak to turn on his side and he nearly choked on his own vomit, sucking down a mouthful that made him gag again.

Through the agony, he managed to tilt his head to spew the thick stringy mess onto the floor. It went on forever, so long that he was able to roll over and get to his knees so that the stuff was no longer coursing down his cheek. When he'd vomited up what had to be his weight in worms, plus whatever was left of dinner and a good chunk of his small intestine, he shook his head to dislodge the worst of the slime and saw Scully.

She was not breathing.

He checked her eyes. The whites were white but he didn't know what that meant. He didn't know how long he'd been out.

"Fuck," he said and dragged himself over her to begin CPR. He tilted her head to try and clear the airway. Was that a pool of alien blackness in her throat? He awkwardly attempted to compress her chest one-handed. None of his training covered monomanual first aid. Usually the victims of the oil breathed: The alien worms, for all their incredible properties, could not eat the dead alive.

He breathed into her mouth. He thought he was supposed to hold her nose closed, but he didn't think that was more important than the chest compression.

Fuck, Scully. You know Mulder will never forgive himself if he's not the one who fails to save you.

As if she'd heard him, her chest hitched and she spewed revolting black gunk into his mouth. He spat as he tilted her over so that she could get rid of it all. It didn't taste any better coming from her, he thought as he rolled his tongue around his mouth, desperately wanting a toothbrush.

For such a little woman, she had an astonishing stomach capacity. She took longer than he did to finish and he began to look around, wondering what happened next. From the reports he'd seen, the oil was unable to survive for long under standard temperature and pressure conditions without a host. The Tunguska rock seemed to have mineral anomalies that protected it, but he sincerely hoped that the warehouse walls were not similarly equipped.

Best to torch the place anyway, just to be on the safe side.

Scully stopped heaving and fell onto her back, her vomit-spattered chest rising and falling irregularly.

There was a lot of oil on the floor around them. It didn't seem to be going anywhere. If they were lucky, whatever in them that had killed their invaders had gone on to infect the remaining oil when their bodies expelled the alien substance.

Which raised the fascinating question — why were they alive? He wouldn't have wasted his time on contemplation if movement were a present possibility, but as it was thinking couldn't hurt. Scully was easy to explain, she'd had the cure only a few months ago and the antibodies must still be strong. But his own life was a puzzlement.

He tested his legs. Shaky, but functional. Scully still wasn't moving. And women were supposed to have more stamina.

Maybe the full alien who'd taken him over had turned him into some sort of alien-oil-virus allergen. Which only made the loss of his arm even more ironic. Even if the deluded cripples in the forest had been right about his status as potential test victim, even if they'd been right about the ludicrous idea that one could only test a vaccine using the left arm, even then it would have been unnecessary.

Self-pity terminated when he smelled the smoke. Someone had beaten him to the match.

His legs were barely stable enough to support himself, even minus a twenty- pound limb. No way he could carry Scully out.

"Scully," he ordered. He sounded as hoarse as a sailor on the last day of a three-day pass. "Wakey-wakey, Scully."

He looked at her more carefully. Under the remains of the sick on her face her skin was swollen and tight. Her breath was uneven and labored. Allergic reaction, maybe.

"Scully, get up now. Do you know what that shit's doing to your hair?" Not even a flicker.

He braced his hand on his knee for a moment and panted, gathering strength. The sharp tang of burning wood filled his nostrils as he inhaled, increasing his determination. There was no way he could sling her over his shoulder. Drag her? Possible.

Alex stumbled to the door through which the unidentified but definitely malicious person had gone. It was, as he'd expected, hot to the touch. They'd have to go back the other way.

His mental mail icon sent up a flag. Loping past Scully's unconscious form, he returned to the larger room they'd examined before.

There was no time for finesse. Using reserves of strength he'd thought only available for self-preservation, he pushed a stack of chairs off of a pallet, sending a thousand pounds of grey folding metal to the floor. The wheeled structure beneath was contoured specifically to move chairs, so he grabbed one from the disaster he'd created and put it back on, forming a mock wheelchair.

Skidding over the rough floor, he returned to the hallway. Smoke was visible, scudding upwards. Scully, prone on the floor, had probably not yet been affected.

Alex slid the pallet through the smelly muck that had been an alien weapon and dragged Scully's live weight into the chair. He had trouble turning the chair around and keeping it straight on the uneven floor. They ought to make surviving Conspiracy schemes an Olympic event, like the triathalon. He'd be a fucking gold medalist, that's for sure.

His resolve to move swiftly was buttressed by the line of flame that shot from the closed door behind them across the ceiling, overhead. As he pushed, he heard a pop over the hiss of flames and the lights went out. Now they were back to darkness, albeit fire-lit, and a gentle rain of flaming paint chips began to drift down onto the stacks of boxes around them.

They were through the doorway only a few seconds behind the fire. His arm against the wheeled pallet was shaking. "I could really use some help here," he told Scully, perversely glad that she couldn't hear the nervousness in his voice. The too-small wheels skittered and jolted over the floor, screeching as he collided with something metal. She slumped and her hand dragged against the concrete floor.

At the main doors now, he let go of Scully's transportation and turned the doorknob. The lock disengaged, but the door would not budge. Something must have been dragged against it. He thought that his arm had stopped shaking as he leant against the immobile door, then realized that his entire body was trembling with his hand.

The fire was chasing them with unmistakable intent. In the back of the room, rolls of crepe paper flamed like mock stars. There was no fire alarm and the sprinklers overhead remained as dry as California in August. This was definitely an expendable site. Easy come, easy go up in smoke.

There was one last chance.

The garage door was secured by thick chains looped through iron eyes in the floor. But there was a lock.

Alex bent down and retrieved his spare gun. He almost couldn't stand again but they were going to die and Mulder was going to die and he was standing. The smoke was th

ening, the stench of burnt plastic in the air. He was doubtless breathing toxins whose names and deadliness Scully could recite in her sleep.

He took aim, wishing he hadn't dropped his main weapon with its larger caliber, and fired. Metal spanged and twisted, and he approached the lock and kicked at it. A segment fell away.

Damn, you the man, Alexei.

He laboriously reholstered the gun and unthreaded the chain. Then he grabbed the metal handle of the garage door, feeling it bite deep into his hand, and pulled, putting his thighs into it, willing heretofore unrevealed Incredible Hulk powers to manifest in this hour of need.

He'd seduced men in less time than it took the door to part company with the floor. The heavy metal inched upwards as Alex began to feel the heat at his back. Something on the floor, maybe real spilled oil, had caught and he could see a garden of flame in his peripheral vision.

Eighteen inches, good enough for government work. He staggered back to Scully, who was beginning to choke again. Her cheeks were swollen and even her hands seemed larger than before.

He tilted her out of the chair — she'd never know where the bruises came from — and draggered her by one arm like a child with a favorite teddy bear. Her hair was black and her skin streaked brown. Her renewed heaves produced nothing but saliva.

His legs gave out mere feet from the door. He should have been able to crawl there. Hell, he *should* have been able to roll, or undulate like an inchworm. But the adrenalin had been too generous for too long. His muscles wouldn't respond.

"Scully!"

Her breath hitched and he could see that she was drooling.

"Scully, I can't do this. You've got to wake up, get us out of here." He was begging for his life, something he'd sworn never to do. How terribly embarrassing that Dana Scully was the recipient of his plea.

"Scully, wake up. I need you. Mulder needs you."

She whined deep in her throat.

"C'mon, Scully, come back to me. D'you really think Mulder wants you to die in a fire? How would he feel about that?"

She growled and then her eyes popped open. "Wha–?"

"You've got to get us out," he repeated and she twisted her head, obviously trying to figure out why she was on the ground and what was happening and why the world smelled like a barbecue gone wrong. She made a confused mewling sound and pushed herself shakily off the floor into a kneeling position. "You go first," he indicated the gap between concrete and metal with his eyes, "and pull me through."

Scully nodded. Breathing carefully, bracing herself on swollen hands, she lowered herself back to the ground and began to push her feet through into the cool night air.

He desperately hoped that whoever set the fire had left the scene. Scully's ass was not large, but it would still make an easy target.

Most of her body was outside now.

She could just leave him. Nobody would ever know. If Mulder asked she could always say she tried to save him.

Her head disappeared as she twisted to look around. This was his kind of trick, not hers. She'd grab him. Or else he'd survive and come back to throttle her; Mulder hated him anyway and he should have gotten the job right the first time because they wouldn't be here now if he had managed to splatter the right set of brains over her apartment floor.

Scully's hand thrust back into the burning building like the Lady in the Lake reaching for Arthur. He grabbed on with all his inconsiderable strength and tried to help push himself along the floor with his feet.

Nobody should get dragged along the ground who's not a corpse and unable to take offense, he'd concluded by the time she got him a decent distance away from the building. The conflagration had apparently not attracted the attention of the local fire department. That might not be a conspiracy, of course, since it was DC, not known for the quality of its municipal services.

He looked back at the burning warehouse with the full knowledge that he was punch-drunk and probably halfway in shock. A section of the roof fell in as he watched. It was a spork holocaust. The conventioneers were going to be disappointed this year.

When Scully went to retrieve the car he passed out.

Series Navigation«Deny Nothing: Chapter 1.1999999999999999555910790149937383830547332763671875Deny Nothing: Chapter 3»
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