Disclaimer: Mulder and Krycek are the property of Chris Carter, Fox, 1013 Productions and anyone else that I may have forgotten. No money made here, no sir. I'm poor as dirt.

Rating: R for language and some blood.

Pairing: Krycek/Mulder (sorta)

Warnings: Well, um, Mulder Torture, a Rat with a heart, and a whole lot of angst and h/c.

This is a birthday present for my much cherished sister nancy. The Ratfink started whispering in my ear, and I was a clever girl and started typing.

Story title borrowed without permission from Metallica.

Nothing Else Matters

By Zen&nancy

"Mulder?" Christ, what mess have you gotten yourself into now?

He doesn't answer me, doesn't even seem to realize that I'm here. Fuck! I do not need this.

We're in one of the Consortium's non-existent warehouses that they've converted into some top secret testing center. I came to grab some information off their hard drives; insurance to keep me ahead of the game. Why is my karma so wrapped up in Mulder's? Why do I have to find him in this damn cell, so drugged that he doesn't even know his name? Why isn't Scully or Skinner here to save Mulder's ass? Why me?

"C'mon Mulder." I'm trying to be as non-threatening as possible, not something that comes naturally to me. "It's okay, Mulder, I'm not gonna hurt you." This time. Next time we'll probably be exchanging caustic insults and you'll be using me for a punching bag. Not today, though. Today, I'm saving your fucked up ass. Why? I'd rather not think about the "why's" right now.

He's on the floor, curled in a ball, shaking. At least he's quiet. That will make it a hell of a lot easier to get us out of here unnoticed. He jumps when I touch him, but he's too doped up to struggle much. I try to get a good look at his face, but his head keeps rolling back and forth. He's got a huge lump on the side of his head, and I think I see a cut on his cheek. I'll worry about it later; right now the top priority is getting us the hell out of here.

I haul him to his feet and sling his arm across my good shoulder. He doesn't seem to be aware of what's going on at all, but he isn't struggling. I manage to drag him down the maze of hallways without anyone spotting us. I lean us up against a wall, listening for footsteps or voices. I peek around the corner. It's clear. One of the few things I've learned in my short time on this earth is that my life will always be fucked up. Not only have I accepted this fact, I've come to expect it. That's why I can be standing on Consortium turf, with a fucked up Mulder over my shoulder, and not have it break my stride one bit. One of the coolest things about rats is they adapt so well.  One last sprint across the open expanse of warehouse, then about a mile to where I stashed my car. I get a better grip on Mulder and make a run for it. Christ Mulder, when did you get so goddamn heavy?

Great, he's started mumbling incoherently now, yelling out every now and then. At least I had the foresight to put his seatbelt on. The way he's thrashing around, I'd be in trouble if he weren't strapped in. It's the middle of the night, and the roads are pretty empty. I take a few sideways looks at him.

His suit's a mess, torn up and spattered with mud from our trek through the woods. I can see his face now, it's not too bad. Strange, the standard operating procedure for those bastards is to beat the shit out of a prisoner, then ask the questions. Of course, trying out one of their newly developed drugs might have been too high a priority to waste time on beating him.


No response.

"Mulder, can you hear me?"

The Who's Tommy runs through my head and I marvel at what a sick fucker I really am. Just call me Cousin Alex, but not today. It's no fun to torture Mulder when someone has already beat me to it. I guess that's what's got me so pissed off about this whole thing. That someone else did this to him. Maybe I think I should have the sole rights to Mulder Torture. Or maybe, just the rights to Mulder's soul. I can't help it; Mulder is the most fascinating, brilliant, fucked up, enigma I've ever met. I can never figure him out, but I always understand him. I know that doesn't make sense, but then, neither do my feelings for Mulder.

Man, he is really gone; fighting demons I can't see. That's okay, I'm very familiar with Mulder's demons. I wonder what they gave him, and how long until it will wear off. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't give him anything that would do permanent damage. I think they just wanted to scare him off, and mess with his head. Wonder what he was looking for? Doesn't matter, I'm sure he won't remember when he comes out of it.

With the door locked behind us, I dump Mulder on the couch. It only took about half an hour to get us here. He's quieted down a little, but it doesn't really matter. No one in this shitty apartment building would pay much attention to a couple of drunks stumbling home at 3 am, even with Mulder looking as fucked up as he does. I stash the disk and get some peroxide. Time to get a better look at Mulder and clean him up. All these fucking protective emotions are coming out of me, and I'm not sure I can deal with this. Sure, I'm always looking out for Mulder, sending information his way, keeping him alive, but it's from a distance. When we're in the same room together, it's different. Then it's me defending myself and Mulder grilling me for his precious truths. Now... now I'm taking care of him. I never thought I'd be in this position, and it scares me. It's too easy. It shouldn't be this easy for me to feel sorry for him, and want to make it better. Besides, I know that nothing I could ever say or do would ever make anything better in Mulder's eyes.

I know I'm in trouble, because eventually the drugs are going to wear off and he's going to be back to his old resilient self and I'm going to be... lost. Lost because he'll know what I did for him, and he'll use it against me. He'll know that I actually fucking care about him, and that will always give him the upper hand. I know Mulder hates me. Shit, I killed his father, why wouldn't he hate me? To be honest, sometimes I hate me, but that's somewhere I'd rather not go right now.

He's curled up on his side on my couch, mumbling gibberish and shaking. Shit, Mulder! Why do you have to look so fucking vulnerable? And why does it have to affect me like this? If my first instinct was to rip his clothes off and fuck him till I saw stars, I'd feel a whole lot better about this entire situation. But I don't. I want to clean him up and get him through this, safe and sound. Then I want to get the bastards that did this and kill them all, very slowly. Getting this tangled up in Mulder's life will get me killed. Let's face it, it's amazing that I've survived this long.

Peroxide in hand, I go to sit next to the mass of shivering Mulder on my couch.

"Okay Mulder, let's see how bad it is." I don't think he understands any of this, but I figure talking to him might help calm us both down. "C'mon, sit up for me. That's it, nice and easy, I'm not going to hurt you."

I keep up a running string of quiet reassurances as I try to get him upright and get a better look at him. It's just the one cut under his eye, and I clean it off as gently as I can with him rocking back and forth. Okay, now let's see if I can get his suit coat off of him. Every time I try to pull his arm out of the sleeve, he starts thrashing around. I catch his arms and hold them as still as I can.

"Shh, it's okay Mulder, come on, let me get this jacket off." I'm petting his head, running my hand over his short, G-Man haircut. It's actually calming him down. Who would have thought that I could be comforting to anyone, let alone Mulder. He lets me get the coat off, and a second later I'm sorry I did.

FUCK!!! Those sick sons of bitches!

I'm the one who's shaking now, trying to get a grip on my emotions. His white dress shirt is stuck to his back with dried blood. Thick, distinct, dark red lines of dried blood stripe the back of his shirt. Those sick fucking bastards! They whipped him. Fuck, fuck, fuck! I hate how much it hurts me, because now I know how much Mulder means to me. I never wanted to have to think about this shit, never wanted to have another person matter this much to me. Right now, with Mulder bloody, beaten and out of his mind, nothing else matters.

I've got to get a grip here. Okay, first we fix the broken Mulder, then we kill the bastards. I'm not sure what to do. I know I've got to get his shirt off and clean those cuts, but where to start? If I take off his shirt it's going to rip up all those newly formed scabs, and start bleeding again. It'll also hurt like hell. As many times as Mulder has hurt me in the past, I can't seem to separate his pain from my own right now. I realize how fucked in the head I am about him; I just don't seem to be able to do anything about it. Even now, when he's out of his mind and broken and bleeding, I'm helpless in his presence. All the times he's cut me down and I've come back with some lame remark, or when he slaps me around and I never raise a hand to him, it's because I'm stupefied by him. His being, his presence, his voice, his extremes... the reality that is Mulder.

This is possibly the most fucked up situation I've ever gotten myself into. Not because it presents any physical danger, no one will find us here, but because of all these fucking emotions taking me over. I hate feeling this much. I had hoped that I'd forgotten how.

As Mulder thrashes on the sofa, his back hits the cushions especially hard, and he lurches forward. His cry of pain is guttural, and it gives me chills. I can almost hear what he must have sounded like when they did this to him. It turns my stomach. I catch him before he falls off the couch, and he stops moving; he freezes in my arms. Part of me can't believe this is happening. Part of me is sitting in the corner of the couch with a horrified, bewildered look on his face. The rest of me knows I have to clean Mulder up so all these wounds don't get infected, and so I can feel like I'm doing some good for him.

Slowly, I pull him up off the couch and lead him toward the bathroom. I'm hoping that warm water will loosen the shirt from his scabs. Mulder seems to have calmed down a little. He's gone quiet. He's not fighting me, but he's still rolling his head back and forth, and his movements are jerky and awkward. Getting him to sit on the side of the tub isn't easy, and I'm beginning to wonder if this going to work.

"Mulder, please, settle down. It's okay, I'm trying to help." I think I'm trying to comfort myself as much as I am Mulder.

I grab a hand towel and start running the water. Mulder is gone, totally vacant. No more sounds, no more shaking, just this rocking back and forth. Good, maybe if he's off in his own world I'll be able to do this with as little pain for both of us. The warm water on his back makes him lose his rhythm, but that's the only response. The towel is turning red from the blood that's coming off his shirt, but I think it's working. As I slowly work his shirt from his back, I start babbling, trying not to think.

"How fucked up is this, huh Mulder? What did we ever do to piss fate off this much? I should have just turned on my heels and run that first day at the bureau. Think about how much pain and suffering we both would have been spared if I'd just walked away then."

The truth of it is, I'd do it all over again, I know I would. I'd get one look at his arrogant, tired, cocky face and I'd be lost all over again. It's hopeless and pointless to try to cheat fate. My mind comes back to the task at hand and I realize that most of the shirt is free. Unbuttoning is pretty easy once I start swaying with him. He looks like he's in a trance, like when they show voodoo ceremonies on National Geographic shows. Now that I've got the shirt off his shoulders, and gently pull it from his wounds, I can't help the rage welling up inside me. Thin, deep gouges score his back. There aren't many, five or six, but they're ugly.

"I promise Mulder, they'll pay for this."

I just grab the bottle of peroxide and pour it over his entire back. I thought it would be quicker and easier this way, now I wish I'd thought ahead more. Mulder screams and flies into motion. He takes two huge steps forward and then trips over his own foot. When he hits the floor he immediately returns to his fetal position, hugging his knees to himself.

"Shit Mulder, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I'm next to him, running my hand up and down his arm before I know it. Since when was comfort my reflex action? Since Mulder was reduced to a hysterical wreck on my bathroom floor. "Shh, I'm sorry. It's over, no more, I promise. No more."

He's shivering again, and crying. Loud, high-pitched keening noises are bouncing off the tile walls and it's ripping up pieces of a soul I didn't know I had.  We're both in hell, me and Mulder; I'll hear these sounds in my nightmares for more nights than I want to think about.

We stay on the floor like this, him wailing and me crooning soft words of comfort, until we're both worn out. When he finally calms down again I realize he's ice cold. I pull off his shoes, socks, pants and boxers as quickly as I can. Wrapping him up in my robe isn't as easy, but I manage it. I'd like to think that only having one arm doesn't slow me down, but in situations like this I really wish I had ten fingers, instead of five.

"C'mon Mulder, let's get off the floor." I pull us up and start walking him slowly to the bed. "That's it, we'll get you under those covers and warm you up. It's okay; I'll get you through this. I promise Mulder, I'll get you through this."

The bed feels too good, and I find myself crawling under the covers with him. I don't know if it's heat or comfort he's seeking, but he wraps around me. He's on his side, curled onto me. He's got my prosthesis pinned under him, and his head on my chest. He doesn't seem to care about the arm, doesn't seem to even notice. He's shivering and mumbling, I can feel him drooling on me and I don't care. This is the most helpless I have ever felt in my life. I stroke his hair and tell him he's safe, that it's okay, over and over again. I don't know what else to do.

Eventually I feel him starting to warm up, and quiet down.  Every now and then he'll jerk and say something, and then he fades out again. Hours pass, the sun comes up, and we don't move.  I really have to piss, and I'm stiff from staying still for so long. I suddenly realize how grateful I am that Mulder has kept control of his bodily functions through all of this. Let's face it, I could have been pissed on, puked on, and shit on by now.

"Mulder," I try to scoot out from under him slowly, but reaches out and grabs my good arm. "Please Mulder, let me go, I'll be right back. I promise, I'm just gonna go piss and I'll be right back."

I'm stunned when this seems to work and he lets go of me. I relieve myself as quickly as possible, and get a glass of water before going back to Mulder. He's still on his side, but his head is resting back on the pillow and he's looking at the ceiling. I think he's seeing something, probably an alien ship, knowing Mulder. He looks peaceful. Whatever he's hallucinating, it doesn't seem to be scaring him. His eyes are heavy, hooded from the drugs, and he looks so beautiful. Who knew I had morals? Even though it would be so easy to take extreme advantage of this situation, I dismiss the thought as soon as it comes to me. Believe it or not, I respect Mulder way too much to ever do something like that to him. I never want to break him, that would be a crime. A mind as quick and brilliant and twisted as Mulder's should be revered.

I'm a hell of a lot smarter than most people think I am. Just because I'm good at the muscle jobs, doesn't mean I can't out-think the best of those tricky bastards. Hey, I'm still breathing and thriving and one step ahead of them. Mulder is one of the few people who I treat as my equal, and the only person who has my loyalty. It might seem disjointed at times, but his survival is always second priority, my own survival being the first priority. Using Mulder's body now would not be beneficial to his survival, or mine. So, instead, I just enjoy this moment, and absorb him. He's nodding off, and I hope this is the tail end of whatever they doped him with.

Once he's out cold, I sit down on the bed next to him. I wonder what I would do if Mulder ever stopped hating me. I can't imagine a world where Mulder would think anything but the worst of me. Maybe that's why I let myself love him. Because I know it's safe, because he could never love me back. I could never handle that kind of responsibility, keeping Mulder alive and fighting is hard enough.

I realize that my hand is running through his hair. It's soft, and I want to memorize how every strand feels. I've never been able to touch him like this, without violence. It's liberating in a way, letting myself know what a peaceful Mulder feels like. His sleep is quiet, no nightmares, not even a snore. The stubble on his cheek is thick and I want to rub my face against his, mark him like a big cat. I laid my own secret claim to Mulder years ago; whether it's a curse or a blessing I'm not sure.

It's been almost seven hours since I found him. I should probably start getting my shit together. The good thing about the life I lead is I'm very good at packing up and going in a matter of minutes. It doesn't take me long to get all traces of me into a duffel bag. Then there's the meticulous wiping of fingerprints. Maybe I'll leave a few, just for Mulder. See, part of me wants him to know that it was me who saved him. Of course, Mulder would probably assume it was me who hurt him. Better to cover my tracks and get the hell out before he comes to.

So why can't I walk away? I'm standing next to the bed again, just watching him. I don't know when I'll see him again, I didn't expect to see him this time. I never know when fate is going to dump Mulder in my path. I go get my coat, and then get his clothes from the bathroom. I toss them at the foot of the bed. I'm staring at him again. God how I hate this. Forgive me, Mulder. I lean down and kiss him, on the forehead. His skin is warm on my lips, and I smell his hair, it's sweet and musty. I make myself pull away, and walk away. I lock the door behind me. Till next time, Mulder.

The End


So close no matter how far

Couldn't be much more from the heart

Forever trusting who we are

Nothing else matters

Never cared for what they say

Never cared for the games they play

Never cared for what they do

Never cared for what they know

And I know

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