Best Medium Length Story


It's an honor to be presenting five stories by three wonderful authors in this category. We have one new author here, and her premire story is one of the two she authored that are finalists in this category. We also have a very popular veteran author, with both of the M/K stories she wrote this year. Finally, we have another author that's been around for awhile, with a haunting tale of deep pain and emotion.

The nominees are:

Batesville by Loren Q

He ignores the question and lines up another shot. The cue ball's heading toward me. I snatch it off the table.

"Come on Krycek. You called this meeting."

"You're right. I gave you the option though. Should we talk or shoot pool?"

"Talk. What were you doing in Batesville? Why did you capture Scully? What do you want with her?" I fire off question after question and he just stands there, leaning on his pool cue.

"Mulder, this isn't 'talk.' Interrogation wasn't one of the choices."

He steps back from the pool table and sits on a barstool. "Your hands are going to cramp if you don't let go."

I look down. My hands are white knuckled from gripping so hard. I'm losing my cool here. I can't let him have the upper hand. Not again.

"Look Mulder, I'm not really sure why I wanted to talk to you-"

"The hell you aren't. You always have a plan. You want to see just how you wrecked me. You want to gloat!"

"I wrecked you? Okay, I had a hand in breaking down your denial, but I had a lot of material to work with."

"You fucking raped me!"

"And you were hard the moment you saw me. You were hard before I fucked you and you stayed hard after I was done."

"That doesn't make it consent. It's still rape. It's still a crime."

"How different is it from getting the shit beat out of you? If they're even, then I owe you at least one more."

That's it! I vault over the table, barreling at him. He's sitting there, not making a move. I pull him off the barstool, slam him hard against the wall and pull back my fist.

"Make that two more. Or I can give consent and we won't count this one." I'm inches away from beating him to death and he never loses his calm.

Drinking with the Enemy* by Sleeps with Coyotes

"Fuck!" Krycek hissed with what had to be the last of his breath, thrashing weakly under Mulder. It was...odd to feel the uncertain shift of muscle underneath him, soft and warm and weirdly pleasant, even comfortable. Mulder was lying between Krycek's spread thighs, he realized slowly, still holding on to Krycek's jacket, but their faces were so close they might have been angling in for a clinch rather than glaring drunkenly into each other's eyes. Another buck from the man beneath him left Mulder momentarily distracted until he managed to focus on Krycek's belligerent face once more, and then he heaved himself up enough to jerk the other man up briefly and drop him, Krycek's head thunking loudly against the tabletop.

"Motherfucker!" Krycek yelped before Mulder could do more than draw breath to interrogate him, and this time the man writhed with more purpose, the world titling sickeningly around them. All the air Mulder had just sucked into his protesting lungs left him in a coughing woosh as they tumbled over the edge of the table, landing on the not-terribly-padded bench with Mulder on the bottom this time, just before they pitched down onto the floor.

Everything spun. He could have handled the around-and-around sensation if it wasn't for the over-and-over that joined it. He felt like he was in one of those torture chairs NASA used to train its astronauts, and he felt like he was going to be sick. Right here. All over Krycek. The thought had a certain dark appeal.

"All right, you two!" a loud, gruff voice boomed from somewhere above, and Mulder felt a huge hand latch on to his ankle, hauling him out from beneath the table. The man's other hand had to have snagged Krycek as well, because although Mulder never let go of his quarry, there was no strain on his arms that suggested he might be dragging Krycek along with him. "That'll be enough of that!"

It was the bartender, Mulder noticed as he risked a glance up, the red-headed giant glowering down at them like the Wrath of an Irish God. "I'm with the FBI," he insisted, wishing the persistent slur would go away. "This man is a--is a wanted fugitive!"

"Oh, you're the FBI, are you?" the bartender snorted. "Stick around, then--right about eight, we'll be getting Harold the Janitor's U-boat story. You boys would get along just fine."

"But I am--this man killed my father!"

"Tell it to the sidewalk," the big man grumbled, catching hold of both their collars and heaving them up, marching them to the door as Krycek's own protestations of innocence fell on deaf ears. "And let Harold know if you see any international spies!"

Stumbling when the bartender flung them towards the sidewalk, Mulder went down hard, skinning his palms before flipping over to yell at the slamming door. "There's one right here, asshole!"

Sitting back on his bloodied palms, legs sprawled out before him any which way, Mulder felt a vindictive surge of hope as the door to the bar came open again, but his brief elation crashed once more when his suit jacket came flying out after him, hitting him smack in the face.

And Krycek...Krycek was definitely laughing at him this time.

Sinner Sinuous by Meri Lomelindi

Back against the counter, knife clutched tightly in one hand, Krycek propped his foot up on the strategically placed stool. Focused his attention on the coruscating metal like it was one of his targets. Brought it up to the skin of his outer thigh, brushing, testing the waters, and the methodic whirl of his mind selected a number.


One: Alex Krycek had killed a man. Two: Alex Krycek had killed unnecessarily. Whether or not he'd known it at the time was irrelevant.

One; the knife lay flush against the skin, pressed deep, and tore through the unresisting skin like cold fire. A faint, nearly inaudible swishing was the only sound that followed; a flick of friction. But he could sense that it wasn't quite deep enough, and the shallowness of it was acid eating at him -- so there went the knife again, to delve into the thin crevice; to absolve him.

It stung -- stung a lot, in fact, but he could ignore it, and if the pain was too much he could always bite his lip. There was a host of easy excuses for that. His eyes were fixed on the narrow sliver, on the scarlet that welled up inside and trickled out to stain the paleness of his skin. When he slid the knife away, it was iced with red.

Bits of skin clung to the blade along with the blood, thin and transparent, like ribbons of gossamer. Twisting his shoulders back to reach the sink, where the water was still running to accommodate Mulder's ears, he dipped the knife under the steady flow until it gleamed. Then he shifted back, quicksilver, the knife flitting over to the mess that was his leg and gutting it just below the first cut.

Two; this time he slashed an X, glancing and delicate -- it was almost an art form. But it grew exponentially as the seconds passed, blade twitching back and forth in crazed arcs, teeth grinding into his bottom lip as he carved like a madman. He did not think; couldn't feel except for the vacant rush of agony that coursed through his leg. His mind was a steel trap, clenched onto a single rat of a phrase that was his mantra. A broken record, it repeated over and over and over and over -- in between darts of the knife, he allowed it to slither through his parted lips into the cool swath of air that encircled him: spasi menya.

Spam by Loren Q

Sunday, 5:30 A.M.

Hyatt Regency Hotel, Room 128

I'm staring at the ceiling. I've been trying to fall asleep all night. Thoughts fly around and collide in my head. An alien-human hybrid. Being on administrative duty. Feeling Krycek's lips on my cheek. Original tissue. The smell of leather. Fifty years of planning. My mind settles momentarily on Hong Kong, and the feel of his body, his heat against me.

Turning to face Krycek, I note that asleep, he looks... almost innocent. His lips are slightly parted and I watch his bare chest rise and fall with deep, even breaths.

Why, of all people, does he have to know... sense what I feel? Feelings I've held so closely guarded even Scully doesn't // can't // know.

I cover my face with my hands. I watched him sleep once before. New York, another lifetime ago. He was my partner and he just killed Augustus Cole. I thought he was young, green. That it was his first kill. I talked with him long into the night, reassuring him that Cole made him see a gun, that it wasn't his fault. I put my hands on his shoulders and felt... Oh god, what I felt. When he looked at me through those thick eyelashes, I had to hold myself back. When we were assigned together on the Duane Barry case, I hoped to... to what?

Remember what he is. He betrayed me, killed my father and probably Duane Barry. I'm sure he had something to do with Scully's abduction. Forget that every guy I've picked up in the last three years has had green eyes.

The Waking* by Sleeps with Coyotes

Wandering back out into the front room, he checked the windows and the door one last time before snagging a thick blanket off the back of an old rocking chair. Shaking it out, he smirked half-heartedly at himself before wrapping it around his shoulders and folding his legs beneath him, sitting before the furnace.

Staring at the flames leaping behind the grate, he tried emptying his mind, focusing on the dance of the fire and nothing else. When his thoughts were still, he didn't notice any more that he was alone, that it was all...over. Whatever plans he'd had before, they hadn't covered this.

//I didn't expect him to just disappear...//

Dropping his eyes, Alex forced himself to blink, surprised all over again to find the burning in his eyes was only the dryness from the heat. He didn't know why it was so important to him to mourn things, unless it was the fact that he couldn't. He just couldn't. Whatever tears there had been left in him had been burned out years ago, and he'd known that.

Learning that Mulder had skipped out in a fucking spaceship couldn't change it, either.

He had to get himself together, though--he knew that, too. Just because Mulder was out of the picture, that didn't mean he was off the hook. Didn't negate any of his own reasons for beating his fists against the inevitable, the most important of which being that he wanted to live. And not as they wanted him to. He wanted the world on his own terms, and he'd do anything necessary to keep things that way. Yes, it would be harder without some respects, at least. The man had been something of an inspiration, a goal or a goad, it was hard to say which.

It changed things. It changed a lot of things. But some things always stayed the same.

//I have to go back soon,// he admitted at last, very quietly, where he was sure he could pretend he hadn't heard it in the morning. Knowing was one thing, but his peace often rested on his own cultivated ignorance. //It's not over yet.//

Staring into the flames again, he tried to see faces in their flickering patterns, but they snapped and furled too fast for him, there and gone. Their uncertain rhythm was strangely hypnotic, though, and it was easy to let his circling thoughts fall hesitantly quiet as he stared into the fire's depths, wrapping himself in a cocoon of silence. Something like certainty pressed in on him in the stillness, as if something was trying to tell him that everything was going to be okay.

Sitting there in his lonely cabin a million miles from anywhere, Alex let that fleeting sensation comfort him, pretending the burn in his eyes was the prick of unshed tears.

And the winner is...

Drinking with the Enemy* by Sleeps with Coyotes