Needs Must

Rhiannon Shaw

Email me!

Written for the X-Files Lyric Wheel. Lyrics at the end; lyrics used marked with *.

Set somewhere after "Ascension" and before "Tunguska" in the X-Files, shortly after Unholy Alliance part I in the Highlander Universe. Any characters who don't belong to 1013 Productions belong to Davis-Panzer and Greg Widen. And if both those groups look surprised, they belong to me.

I don't think this is part of my usual universe of stories, but damn, don't I wish!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Someone was looking for him. Someone subtle in his questions and diamond hard, razor-edged, in his manner. Alex's usual sources of information were flatly spooked and didn't mind telling him so, either.

"Krycek, what in hell did you do to piss this guy off?" Benny whined, almost as frightened by the man's memory as he was by Alex's gun. And that was enough to make Alex...angry. So he ground the gun barrel into Benny's belly, digging hard just under the ribs, and felt the snitch twitch and back toward a wall.

"What did you tell him?" Alex asked in an intent, whiskey-rough voice that damn near spelled out for Benny just how annoyed he was.

"Nothin'! I swear it!!" Benny's whine rose, shifting up five fast notes as Alex's free hand snapped forward, grabbing his groin and clamping down hard. "Shit, Alex, I didn't tell him a goddamn thing, please!"

Still staring straight into Benny's watering black eyes, Alex whispered, "It's a good thing for you I believe you, Benny. Now. I want a description, and a name, and I want to know what, exactly, he was asking."

Unfortunately, Alex decided later, that only let him recognize the hunter when the man found him....

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

"You might as well close the door."

The oddly accented voice slid out of the living room--from Alex's favorite seat to be precise, and annoyed him so much that he did just that. Alex slid his hands back into his coat pockets, then, fingers wrapping comfortably around his pistol, only to hear a soft, rasping laugh.

"Try it and I'll feed it to you. Be a shame to ruin those pretty teeth. Who are you?"

"You break into my apartment after hunting me all day and you have to ask that?" Alex countered, letting derisive sarcasm ooze through his words. "For a man who's terrorized a lot of snitches, you can't be that smart."

"Let me worry about that. Like I said, who are you?"

His visitor stood then. A sawed-off runt Alex would have called him...until he saw the eyes. Very cold, dark green eyes that had seen violence and were perfectly willing to look at it again if necessary. Alex saw eyes like that every morning in the mirror. He had no intention of underestimating this man.

"Alex Krycek," he answered quietly, with a slight sideways motion of his head that wasn't so much a nod as an acknowledgement. "If you weren't looking for me, what are you doing here?"

"I was looking for you, all right. You just aren't who I expected." The stranger shrugged at that, an easy movement under a ratty tan trench coat that somehow went perfectly with the grimy white high tops.

"Who were you expecting?" Alex asked curiously. "And if we're going to talk, I want a beer."

That got the same rasping laugh again. "Stick to coffee. I'd hate for you to claim later you didn't understand me. I'd only kill you anyway."

Alex chuckled at that, oddly reassured to have this back on familiar ground. "You're not the first to tell me that. I'm still here."

"So you are," his visitor agreed, almost smiling. Almost. "But it's always seemed to me that there's a means to any end. Push me and I'll find one. I have time."

Something in his tone caught Alex's attention, made him reappraise the smaller man. Nothing cocky, no bragging just to brag...he meant what he said. The cold certainty of a professional who could in fact deliver what he said. So Alex nodded as he agreed, "There's always a way to do what you have to do...if you're willing to pay the price."

"I think we understand each other then," the sandy blond man said levelly. "And I had some of your coffee earlier; you'd better let me make it."

"You broke in and drank my cold coffee?" Alex asked incredulously, and couldn't resist a grin. "What, you thought it would tell you something about my personality?"

That got a sudden flash of an echoing amusement. "Now I'm almost sorry we're on different sides. You've a thoroughly warped mind, Alex Krycek. No, I was thirsty and the water in this city is lousy. Of course, so is your coffee."

"When I have access to good coffee, I make good coffee," Alex told him, too amused by the surreal conversation to be offended. He hadn't dropped his guard, though.

"You're smuggling guns, but you can't be bothered to smuggle good coffee? Your priorities need work." The stranger moved into the kitchen, ignoring Alex's weapons as he reached for the coffee can. Alex dropped a filter into the coffeemaker with an odd sense of unreality that he suspected Mulder would have loved, and watched the stranger measure grounds into the filter. "So. Do you cook?"

"Why?" Alex moved aside to fill the pot. Hot water could be a weapon, after all.

"There are ways to make even this stuff drinkable. But if you don't cook you're not likely to have anything helpful."

Alex muttered, "You break in, drink my old coffee, don't case my kitchen, and then insult my brand of coffee?"

"Yes." He laughed again and added, "And don't bother throwing that at me. You'd only have to clean up the water, and then the shades of dirt on your floor wouldn't match."

Alex couldn't help it; he snickered. "And you insult my housekeeping."

"Yes. But I'm making you coffee."

"But it's my coffee!"

"And your life," was the suddenly cold reply. "If you want to keep it? Don't sell guns to Xavier St. Cloud."

Alex shifted easily with the change in the conversation. "If I let people tell me who to sell to, I wouldn't have a business. But that's not a name I know."

"I think you know him. Somewhere between our heights, slim, part black, part white, part Arab, missing his right hand, good-looking enough otherwise, very smooth, slick and sharp as his knives. Sound familiar?" The sandy blond man had turned the coffee machine on and was watching Alex's face as he gave the description. Alex kept the recognition out of his eyes, but the abrupt shift to his best poker face gave him away.

"You do know him," the stranger murmured, oddly contemplative and calm despite the contained menace in his manner. "Good. I'd hate to have wasted my time chasing the wrong trail."

"As I said," Alex told him coolly, "if I let people dictate who I sell to, I'm out of business."

"I've run guns once or twice myself. I'm not telling you not to sell them, man; that's your business, not mine. I'm telling you that you're shifting the balance in a game you don't understand, and if you keep doing it, I'll have to kill you." He shrugged again, a nonchalant gesture that didn't match the resolve in those dark eyes.

Alex considered that, considered the threat across from him and the danger to his own reputation and funding if he refused to sell to anyone. I can't afford to be threatened. On the other hand, I can't afford to have a man like this after me, either. He'll interfere with too many plans while he's hunting me and sooner or later, he'd draw the Consortium's attention...and then I'll wish I was dead.

Plans and possibilities shifted, spun, and settled into place behind those sharp, sharp green eyes. Alex nodded once then. "I won't refuse to deal with him...but I won't be able to help him, either. Temporary shortages, transportation problems, so sorry, try someone else this time. Good enough?"

"Good enough," the other man agreed. "I don't care what you say so long as he gets no more guns from you. We're not playing by the same rules, you and I, and I don't play the same game you do. Stick to your own troubles, man." He caught the sudden narrowing of Alex's eyes and added, "Your edges are too sharp, Krycek. It takes enemies to hone a man like that."

"Not going to offer to help with them?" Alex asked sarcastically. "Now that you've gotten what you wanted."

"Wrong one. You're thinking of my cousin," was the amused reply. "You're a sharp man; you'll manage it."

"You owe me for this," Alex told him coldly, ignoring the incongruous gurgle as the coffeemaker finished up.

"No." Dark green eyes had shifted in the kitchen light to an icy shade of gold that chilled Alex to look at. "I've taken no hospitality from you. The coffee is enough for you, not both of us," he added softly. "You've given me no place by your fire, offered me no food. This isn't friendship, or hospitality, or even business. I made you no offers, took nothing from you...not even your word. I owe you nothing, Alex Krycek."

"You've used my chair, drank my coffee, changed my customers," Alex pressed back. "You owe me. And money won't cover it."

That same sharp smile answered him. "Are you sure you're not a Gael?" But he nodded slowly as he stepped away from the counter. "Perhaps I do owe you something, Alex Krycek...but not now. And not much. Another time perhaps. I need to check on my kin."

"If I need to collect," Alex goaded as his visitor headed for the door, clearly unconcerned by his gun or any other weapon he might get his hands on, "who do I look for?"

The man paused in the doorway, already tying his coat more tightly around himself. He studied Alex carefully, sharp eyes flickering over dark hair and green eyes, over solid muscle and weapons stashed in odd places and the stranger's eyes paused at each, to Alex's surprise. Then he nodded slowly. "Maybe I do owe you. We'll both know in a few years, won't we?"

A quick, wicked secret amusement flashed across his face and was gone then, but it lingered in his voice. Alex suspected somehow that the joke was on him when the other man said blandly, "I'm Connor MacLeod." He turned and headed for the door, saying over his shoulder, "And I'll remember you, too, Alex Krycek. Another year...if you live."

Alex stood there and watched him go. Once or twice, when he'd worked with Mulder, he'd had flashes of insight. Mulder seemed to understand why things had happened; Alex sometimes understood how to do something...or what not to do. Every instinct he had told him that shooting this Connor MacLeod would be a very, very bad idea.

So Alex let him walk out the door, wondering why he didn't think looking for a man named Connor MacLeod would be very productive. But he poured a mug of the coffee as he considered how to repair the damage the man had done to his reputation while still keeping his promise. Alex noticed first, that he had barely enough coffee left for a refill. Then he took a sip, and growled irritably, "And the sonuvabitch is right--he makes better coffee, too."

I Don't Care Anymore

Phil Collins, Hello I Must Be Going

Well you can tell everyone I'm a damn disgrace

Drag my name all over the place

I don't care anymore

You can tell everybody 'bout the state I'm in

You won't catch me cryin' 'cause I just can't win

I don't care anymore

I don't care anymore, d'you hear?

I don't care what you say *

I don't play the same games you play *

'Cause I've been talkin' to the people that you call your friends

And it seems to me there's a means to an end *

They don't care anymore

And as for me I can sit here and bide my time

I got nothing to lose if I speak my mind

I don't care anymore

I don't care no more

I don't care what you say

We never played by the same rules anyway *

I won't be there anymore

Get out of my way

Let me by

I got better things to do with my time

I don't care anymore I don't care anymore

I don't care anymore I don't care anymore

Well, I don't care now what you say

'Cause every day I'm feeling fine with myself

And I don't care now what you say

Hey I'll do all right by myself

'Cause I know...

'Cause I remember all the times I tried so hard

And you laughed in my face 'cause you held the cards

I don't care anymore

And I really ain't bothered what you think of me

'Cause all I want of you is just a let me be

I don't care anymore.

You hear? I don't care no more.

I don't care what you say

I never did believe you much anyway

I won't be there no more

So get out of my way

Let me by

I got better things to do with my time

I don't care anymore

D'you hear? I don't care anymore.

I don't care no more.

You listening? I don't care no more.

No more.

You know I don't care no more.

To the Authors' pages