by Donna McIntosh
"Hey, Tony, what is it?" Walter Skinner sat up in bed, reached for his glasses and checked his bedside clock. 2:23 am. "Is everyone all right?"
"Yeah, Walt, I hate to bother you but I think I've got one of your agents in my clinic."
"Who? Mulder?" Walter flipped the covers back and stood up as immediate concern for his wayward agent engulfed him.
"Nah. He says his name is Krycek - Alex Krycek and he says you're his AD. He one of yours?"
"SHIT! No way in hell he works for me." Walter said as he sat back down and rubbed sleep from his eyes.
"You sure about that? He seems pretty insistent. He says he was assigned to you yesterday." Doctor Tony Green was practically shouting to make himself heard over the noise.
"What the hell's going on there?" Walter asked.
"Can't say. He's having some kind of screaming panic attack or something. He's totally out of it."
"That's Krycek screaming?"
"He drugged up or something?"
"Not that I can tell. No track marks that I could find but he won't let me examine him. He keeps saying he's FBI and he needs to talk to you."
"Shit, Tony. He's a renegade. He left the bureau years ago."
"Well, he snapped tonight for some reason. They found him in an alley over on Fifty First Street. I've seen a lot of druggies, Walt, and I don't think this guy is one. He just looks terrified to me. He keeps screaming about his arm. Said it was there yesterday and now it's gone."
"He lost that arm years ago. You run any tests on him to see if he's on anything?"
"Can't get near him. Cops are trying to hold him down. They got him in cuffs but he's going nuts here. I can sedate him and send him over to County if you want. I just thought you might want to come see what he's babbling about."
"What's he babbling?"
"Something about black oil. Says he threw it up and it rolled away from him."
"SHIT!" Walter was back on his feet again. "Okay. I'll be right there. Stick him in the back somewhere so he doesn't scare everyone to death."
Twenty minutes later Walter Skinner walked into the small clinic run by his old Marine buddy, Dr. Anthony Green. He could hear Krycek the minute he stepped through the door.
"In the back." The nurse motioned to him and he followed the sound of the screams.
Dr. Green was speaking with the two police officers when he got there. Walter held out his ID. The officers scanned it briefly and were happy to turn this problem over to a higher authority saying they would be in the waiting room until the doctor decided if he wanted them to escort the patient over to County or not.
"How well do you know this guy?" Tony asked.
"Let's just say that if he was on fire, I wouldn't piss on him to put out the flames. I'd be more likely to fan them."
"Poor guy." Tony shook his head.
"Don't 'poor guy' me. You don't have any idea what this bastard has put me and half the Bureau through the last several years."
"You can tell me over a couple of beers some night. Right now I need you to get in there and see if you can calm this guy down. I need to know what he's so terrified of or if he's just a nut."
Walter grimaced and walked through the door. Alex Krycek was on the floor, scrunched up between the examining table and some cabinets. His black jeans were covered with filth and vomit, his face was red with greasy black smudges, tear stained and his eyes were wild with terror. He was gasping for breath and struggling to get loose from the cuffs.
"Krycek?" Walter shoved the table aside for a better view.
"AD Skinner! Sir! Help me! Please!"
"What the hell's going on?" Skinner asked not making a move to help in any way.
"I don't know!" Krycek gasped, "I... just got assigned to you... and then... next thing I new I was in this alley... and my arm is gone! MY ARM IS GONE, AD SKINNER!!" He screamed and shook with sobs.
"You lost that arm years ago, Krycek. What the hell are you trying to pull here? What are you on?"
"I... years ago? No! Yesterday it was fine! I was celebrating my first assignment. I couldn't have gotten into Quantico if I had lost my arm years ago!" Krycek was on his knees now, looking frantically back and forth between Skinner and the doctor.
Walter and the doctor exchanged looks. "See what I mean? Look at his eyes. He looked drugged out to you?"
Walter had to admit that he didn't. He just looked like Tony had said earlier - terrified.
"You said something to the doctor about black oil?" Skinner pressed on.
"YES! I was in the alley - Jesus! I have no idea how I even got there! I was throwing up and all this... this black slimy oil was coming out... OIL, AD Skinner! And it smelled like... motor oil... not throw up!" He was clearly scared out of his wits but a bit calmer now that he was able to tell his story to AD Skinner.
"You threw up motor oil?" Skinner raised an eyebrow skeptically.
"I know it sounds crazy. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't seen it."
"He threw up a couple times here and there was some specks in it that looked like black oil." Tony said.
"Did you save it?"
"No. I had no idea it would be important."
"What else?" Skinner pushed him. "What else about the oil?"
Krycek sank back down, lowered his head and began to sob. "No body believes me," he wept.
"What? What about the oil?"
"It moved! I know it's crazy but I SAW IT! It moved! It kind a... all went together... in a big... puddle and moved away. I think I passed out then." He leaned his head back against the cabinet, exhausted now that his story was finally out.
"What do you think?" Tony asked.
"I think I'd better call Mulder." Skinner took out his cell phone.
"Mulder? Fox Mulder? Yes! Call him." Krycek was sitting up straight again. "I followed his work at while I was at Quantico. He'll be able to figure out what's going on!"
More glances were exchanged between Skinner and the doctor and then Skinner stepped out into the hall and made his call.
"Mulder's Mortuary, can I interest you in our latest casket? It comes complete with the latest stereo system..."
"Cut the crap, Mulder."
"Sir? What can I do for you? It's a little late for you to be up and around; isn't it?"
"I'm over here at the Free Clinic on Washington and Forty-Sixth Street. I need you over here - right now."
"What's going on? Someone hurt? Why'd you take them there?"
"Just get your ass over here, Mulder, NOW!"
"I'm about twenty minutes away."
"Make it fifteen." Skinner said then closed and pocketed his phone. He stepped back into the room and was pleased to see that Tony had gotten Krycek up off the floor and he was now sitting on the examining table. The handcuffs had been removed and he was weeping silently.
The filthy leather jacket was lying on a chair and the doctor was holding something up for Krycek to drink. "It's just a little something to relax you. It won't put you to sleep."
"I don't take stuff... nothing!" Krycek was hic-up/sobbing.
"This is nothing addictive - just a mild sedative. It's what I give it to patients just before I stitch them up."
Krycek relented and gulped the mixture down. He sat on the examining table, right arm massaging the left shoulder and down as far as his left arm extended then his face twisted up in horror and the tears began to flow again. He looked up hopefully when Skinner entered the room.
"He's on his way." Skinner said, not taking his eyes off Krycek for a minute.
"Oh thank God!" Krycek heaved a sigh of relief. "He should know what to do."
"Listen, Krycek, if you're trying to pull something - I'm telling you right now - I'm not in the mood!"
Krycek looked stunned and more than a little bit hurt. "Why would you say that? Why would I... 'pull' anything on you? I finally finish up at Quantico, get assigned to DC, to the top AD, and you think I'd start off by trying to 'pull' something on you?"
The doctor and Skinner exchanged glances again. "If this is an act of some kind, he's pretty good at it." Tony whispered as he walked passed Skinner and out of the room.
"And just when did you get assigned to me?"
"Yesterday! That's when everything happened. I got my assignment to DC on Friday, I got my new apartment over the weekend and then last night about seven o'clock I got a delivery with papers saying you were my AD. I had sent in a request that I be assigned to DC and you but I never really dreamed I'd get it." Krycek seemed so genuine, Skinner felt for the first time like he was serious - like somehow Krycek had slipped back eight years in time and was once again that raw recruit that he remembered.
"And all this happened yesterday?"
"YES! And now this..." He held up his prosthetic arm. "I'm in an alley, vomiting oil and my arm's gone! Skinner my arm is GONE!" He started sobbing again.
"You don't remember anything after you got the papers?"
"Sure I do! I remember... a... I read them a couple of times. I fixed myself some dinner - macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. I ate half and put the rest in the refrigerator for tomorrow. I rinsed off the dishes then I took a shower and went to bed. Next thing I know, I'm in that alley." He dropped his head into his right hand and rubbed his forehead. "I feel sick."
Skinner handed him the small basin and stepped out into the hall. He stood there for a few minutes listening to Krycek. Tony walked in with Mulder at his side.
Skinner looked at his watch and realized that Mulder had made it in thirteen minutes.
"Thanks for coming." He greeted Mulder and to Tony he said, "He's throwing up again. I gave him a basin. Don't throw it out."
"Okay." The doctor nodded as he went into the room.
"What's going on? Who's sick and why did you need me? You want me to call Scully?"
"No, no. This is an odd one. I don't know if I believe it yet or not."
"What?" Mulder prodded.
"KRYCEK? You got me down here in the middle of the night for KRYCEK?" Mulder paced angrily.
"I know. I felt the same way but there's something strange going on. I don't know if he's trying to pull something or what but he seems to think it's eight years ago and he's just newly assigned to me."
"The police pulled him out of an alley. He's been throwing up - oil - black oil."
Mulder's face went pale and his disbelief and anger immediately changed to interest.
"Uh huh. And there's something else. He swears that yesterday he had a left arm. He seems horrified to find it gone."
Mulder stared at him, digesting the information and trying to get it all to make sense. "You sure this isn't some game he's running?"
"I don't know. He seems genuinely terrified - horrified even. That's why I called you."
Mulder paced a minute or two then said, "Let's go see him."
They walked into the room to see the doctor taking the basin from Krycek and handing him a paper towel to wipe his face with. Krycek was staring at the black stains on the paper towel but looked up.
"Mulder! Fox Mulder. Sir... er... I don't know what I'm supposed to call you but I need your help. My name is Alex Krycek and I just got assigned to the Hoover yesterday. I've read all about you." He stopped when he saw the strange looks he was getting. "I don't know what's going on here." He sniffed and wiped at his nose with the paper towel. "Something strange is happening and I... I can't figure it out." The look on his face was desperate and his expression clouded up again and the tears began to flow down his oil-smudged face.
"You were assigned to the Hoover yesterday?" Mulder asked.
"YES! Yesterday... er... last night... tonight. I don't know! I don't know what day it is. Is it still Monday?" He looked confused. "Whatever... I got the notice that I was being assigned to the DC on Friday. I found an apartment and moved in. Then today, or yesterday... Monday night I got a message saying that I had been assigned to AD Skinner. I went to bed and next thing I knew I was in the alley!" He choked up again as he grabbed his left shoulder and sobbed, "My arm is gone, Mulder. It's gone!"
Tears rolled down his face as he held up his prosthetic.
Skinner and Mulder looked at each other.
"Can I take a look at that?" The doctor asked.
"Uh huh." Krycek nodded and the doctor helped him to remove his sweat shirt. He looked at the prosthetic and un-strapped it, carefully removing it.
Krycek let out a sob as he saw the truncated arm.
"Are you in any pain?" The doctor asked.
"NO! How can that be?" Krycek was frantic.
The doctor examined the remains of the arm and said, "This scar tissue is several years old. This did not happen over night."
"IT DID! IT DID! I SWEAR TO YOU! IT WAS THERE YESTERDAY!" Krycek was sliding back into panic.
"Mulder, you've got to help me! Maybe we can find my arm? You can re-attach it if we find it; can't you?" he asked the doctor.
"I'm afraid not. This happened a long time ago. All the nerve endings are long since dead."
"There must be something you can do! AD Skinner, can we get another doctor - someone who could do the job?"
"Krycek, I want you to let the doctor examine you - completely, I mean. Let him run some tests. We need to see what this back oil thing is all about and maybe he'll be able to find out what's causing all this confusion."
"Okay, okay. Will you put Mulder on this? He'll be able to find out what's happening."
"I intend to handle this case personally with Mulder assisting me. We'll both be working on it."
"Oh thank you! I know Mulder can find out what's going on." He kind of half way smiled with relief. "By the way, is it Monday or Tuesday?"
"It's Friday." Skinner answered.
"Friday? Oh my God. I've lost a whole week!" Krycek lay back down on the table after Dr. Green helped him into a gown.
Mulder and Skinner stepped out into the hall.
"What do you think?" Skinner asked.
"Too soon to tell. It's possible they slipped him something and he's having a psychotic reaction."
"Hopefully Tony can come up with some answers." Skinner shoved his hands down into his pockets and leaned back against the wall. "Are you getting the same vibes that I'm getting?"
"That he's telling the truth?" Mulder asked as he leaned back against the opposite wall. "Yeah. Nobody's that good an actor. I'd say he's pretty much scared shitless."
"You think the old man was trying to get rid of him and something maybe went hay wire?"
"I doubt it. If he had wanted to get rid of Krycek; he'd be at the bottom of the ocean by now."
"Do you remember him from back then?" Skinner asked.
"Yeah - skinny, nervous, bad hair, bad suits, disgusting ties."
"I always wondered... why do you think he left? Why would a young agent like that, just go over to the other side?" Skinner asked the question he had thought about for years - since he first realized that Krycek had left.
"I don't know. He seemed eager enough in the beginning. I don't really remember all that much about him. He was pretty gullible as I recall but he seemed honest enough."
"You think it was money? He never seemed to me like he had any. He never seemed to me like the druggie type either."
"There was one time I saw him in Hong Kong he looked like he might have been on something; or maybe he was sick."
"Hong Kong? Was that about the same time as the Piper Maru and black oil case?"
"Come to think of it; yes, it was."
"He looked sick?"
"His face was all red and sweaty. I only saw him for a few minutes. He sounded and looked bad. He could have been on something then."
"He doesn't look drugged now though - do you think?" Skinner asked.
"No, he doesn't. He just looks scared."
"He thinks he's lost a week and in reality he's lost about eight years."
"Uh huh. I'm wondering..."
"What?" Skinner prodded.
"You think it's possible... the black oil... you think it could have been in him all these years?"
"Hell I don't know. You're the expert on this kind of thing. What do you think?"
"I'm no expert. I've just come into contact with it a time or two over the years."
"Well that's more than anyone else ever has."
"Except maybe Krycek." Mulder said as he sank into silent thought.
Skinner paced while Mulder was deep in thought and was startled when Tony came out of the room carrying a vial of blood.
"Be careful with that stuff. Don't let any of it get on you." Skinner warned.
"Don't worry. I know what I'm doing." Tony grinned.
"How's he doing?" Skinner asked.
"He seems to be resting now. The sedative I gave him seems to have finally kicked in."
"How long will it take before we know anything?"
"There's several tests I want to run. Some of them I'll have the results back within hours - others will take days."
"Okay. Just keep me posted on the results."
"Will do." The doctor said as he hurried off to his lab.
Mulder had found a chair and was sitting, deep in thought. Skinner slipped quietly back into the room. Krycek was lying on the table with a blanket thrown over him and his eyes were closed. He turned his head towards the door. "Hi" he said with a weak grin.
"Hi. The doctor said you were feeling better." Skinner walked over and stood beside the table.
"A little. I'm still really scared though. I mean... they don't teach you anything like this at Quantico."
"I'm sure not. How are you feeling physically? Still throwing up?"
"No. That stopped. Physically, I'm fine... except for this." He held up his plastic arm.
Skinner didn't know what to say. If this was some kind of trick, it was a trick being played on Krycek. He was totally confused and panic was still clearly visible just beneath the surface. His right wrist was now bandaged and lay limply across his stomach. He seemed more like a lost boy than the evil nemesis that Skinner had hated for so many years.
Skinner took a few steps back from the table. He didn't trust Krycek or the situation. He hoped that Tony could come up with some answers.
"...sleepy..." Krycek mumbled.
"Huh?" Skinner turned around to face him again.
"I'm sleepy... need to rest a minute." Krycek whispered as his eyes fluttered a bit then closed.
The door opened and Mulder came in.
"He's asleep." Skinner said.
"Good." Mulder nodded towards the hall and Skinner walked out with him. "I've been thinking."
"What'd you come up with?"
"We know so little about this black oil thing. We know that it can be passed from person to person."
"We don't know that, Mulder."
"All right, we know nothing for a fact but this is what I'm coming up with. This black oil passes from person to person. What we don't know is why? Does it need a human body to... get from place to place? And when it's in a human, does the human know what's going on? Does he have any control over what's happening while the Oilean is inside him? And what happens when the Oilean leaves? Does it kill its host or does it merely leave them confused?"
"That would explain a lot of things."
"But how could something like that ever be proved?"
"Beyond a reasonable doubt? Probably not. To my satisfaction though... yes."
"You think that's what happened here? You think they needed Krycek for some reason, commandeered his body for eight years and have now left him?"
"It's a possibility."
"Well look for another explanation. If that sort of thing were possible, we'd be hearing about it happening all the time."
"Check out the mental hospitals. People are claiming things like this all the time and no one believes it. What is it going to take to get people to sit up and take notice that we humans are not alone in the universe or on our own world?"
Skinner hated it when Mulder got preachy so he stopped him. "Keep working on it. I'm going home and try to get a few hours sleep. I'll check in at my office and clear my day and be back here to relieve you between nine and ten. In the mean time, if he wakes up, see what you can get out of him. If it's anything important, call me."
Skinner tossed and turned but sleep was not to be had. He kept seeing Krycek crying in panic on the floor and begging for his help but this was not the Krycek he knew so well. He could tell that even Mulder sensed the difference. This Krycek was vulnerable and lost and fully expected them to help him. The Krycek he knew and hated would know better than to ever ask for help from either of them. He didn't know what was going on but he was damn sure he was going to find out.
"So this guy IS one of yours then?" Doctor Tony Green asked Skinner over a cup of coffee the next morning.
"He is - or he was."
"Well which is it? You want me to keep him here or send him over to County."
"Can you spare the room for a few days until we figure out what's going on?"
"Sure. We've got the room. No problem."
"Good. Any results back yet from those blood tests?"
"Nothing that will be of any help. They have all been clear so far."
"So he hasn't been poisoned and he's not on any drugs?"
"No drugs in his system at all."
"Okay. Maybe what we're dealing with here is someone has been tampering with his mind. Do you know anyone who'd be willing to take a look at him - off the record?"
"Yeah, I know a guy. He uses hypnotism. I'll give him a call."'
"We could question him when he's under? That might help. Thanks Tony." Skinner left then and headed for Krycek's room. He found Mulder sitting outside the door, deep in thought.
"How's it going?" he greeted Mulder.
"About the same. We talked a couple of times but nothing new. He keeps asking about finding his arm and a doctor who can re-attach it."
"You think maybe someone has been messing with his mind?" Skinner asked.
"Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't see any of the Alex Krycek that we knew in there - do you?"
"No you're not wrong. Actually, now that I've had some time to think about it, he's exactly as I remembered him when we first met. He seems like a raw recruit. He talks a lot about his teachers and being at Quantico - like he just left there."
"The doctor has a hypnotist he thinks might help."
"Couldn't hurt. It's not like we've got a lot of options here." Mulder said.
"I'm thinking we're looking at one of two things here. Either someone messed with his mind or something happened that traumatized him and he's got amnesia."
"That's a possibility but wouldn't that have passed by now? Doesn't amnesia caused by trauma usually pass once the patient knows he's safe?"
"Hell, I don't know. I took the rest of the day off so you can take off if you want."
"What are you going to do?"
"Wait for the hypnotist. There doesn't seem to be much else we can do."
"I may as well hang around then." Mulder said.
They learned nothing new and nothing to change their previous opinions of the situation as they waited for the hypnotist to arrive.
"Will I be able to question him while he's under?" Skinner asked the hypnotist.
"Only if it's agreeable to the patient in advance." The doctor said.
"Yes. Definitely; it's agreeable to me. You want me to sign something?" Krycek asked.
"No that won't be necessary."
"What about me? I'd like to ask a few questions too." Mulder said.
"Absolutely," Krycek said.
"All right then. Shall we begin?" Within moments Krycek's eyes closed and he was under.
"Would you like to begin?" The doctor asked Skinner.
"Yes. Where were you last night, Krycek?"
"In my new apartment."
"What were you doing?"
"What did you fix?"
"Macaroni and cheese and hot dogs."
"How many guests did you have over?"
"None. I was alone."
"You had no visitors last night?"
"Just the messenger."
"What message did you get?"
"A notice from the Bureau that I was assigned to AD Skinner."
"Describe the messenger."
"About nineteen or twenty years old, red hair, lots of freckles. He wore jeans, a Star Wars tee shirt and dirty sneakers."
Skinner nodded to Mulder to take over.
"How did you hurt your arm?" Mulder asked.
Krycek gave a little gasp, almost a whimper, and answered, "I don't know."
"Where were you when it happened?"
"I... I'm not sure. In an alley I think."
"What state? What country?" Mulder prodded.
"DC. I was in DC - United States."
"How do you know C.G.B. Spender?"
"I don't. I don't know anyone by that name."
"What about the Consortium?" Skinner asked.
"Consortium? What Consortium? We had a class on consortiums. Is that what you're talking about?"
"How old are you, Krycek?"
Skinner and Mulder looked at each other. There was no guile in the answer. No lag of time to think it over. Krycek had blurted the answer out immediately while he lay there flat on his back, his eyes closed and breathing comfortably.
"Oops" Tony whispered in the back ground. Anyone could see that the man before them was clearly much older than that.
"What did you think of Russia when we were there?" Mulder asked.
"Russia? I've never been to Russia."
"What about Hong Kong? Did you like Hong Kong?"
"I've never been there either. I'd like to go though."
"What do you know about Scully's disappearance?" Skinner asked.
"Scully? Do you mean Tully? Wilford Tully the teenager who disappeared for a week then said he'd been taken by aliens? We had a class on him. It never was proven one way or the other where he was. There was some thought that he might have just been hiding out somewhere with his girl friend or on drugs or something but no drugs were found in his system. The case was never solved." Krycek finished.
Skinner frowned and took a few steps back from the table.
"What do you know about black oil?" Mulder asked the next question.
"Oil? Oh you mean the stuff I was throwing up. I have no idea where that came from. I've never seen or heard anything like that before. All I know about it is I was on my knees and this stuff was coming out of me. I was gagging and vomiting it up and it was all over me. It seemed to be coming out my ears as well as my mouth and nose. And then..."
"Then what?" Mulder prompted.
"Then it all kind of... came together in a big puddle and just sort of... rolled away."
"Rolled away? You mean it moved?"
"Uh huh. It moved. I saw it. That's the only thing I know about the oil."
"What happened next?" Mulder asked.
There was a slight pause before he answered. "I'm not real sure. There were people all around and then the police were there and they were putting the hand cuffs on me. And they brought me here."
"They brought you here because you were screaming and raving like a mad man!" Skinner couldn't keep the trace of anger out of his words.
"I thought I was dreaming. I thought I was having a nightmare. I went to bed a happy and successful guy, who had just gotten a dream assignment, and I woke up in an alley, vomiting oil, wearing strange clothes, and my arm was gone. I panicked."
"What do you mean strange clothes?" Mulder asked.
"The black clothes I was wearing when they brought me here. They're not mine."
"Not yours?" Skinner asked.
"No. I've never worn leather before - except for shoes, of course. I don't own black jeans, or a black sweat shirt, and that jacket isn't mine either. And those boots! There was a knife inside one of them!"
"They're not yours either?"
"NO! That jacket must have cost a bundle and I'm still struggling to pay off my student loans from college. I'd never waste money on something like that. My wardrobe is limited to three suits that I bought at J.C. Penney's and two pair of old blue jeans that I've had since high school and a dozen or so t-shirts."
"We're getting nowhere here." Skinner whispered to Mulder. "I think we've gotten about all we're going to get out of him."
Mulder nodded and the two of them walked out into the hall way. "What do you think?"
"His condition seems real enough. Whoever did this job on him knew what they were doing."
"I wouldn't think there would be that many around who could do something like this." Mulder mused.
"Okay. I guess that's as good a place to start as any other. You see what you can find from that angle. I'll keep an eye on Krycek and put some feelers out. Maybe Cancer Man will show up. I've got a feeling he's behind this."
"You're probably right about that. It just makes me wonder though..."
"Why would he want to get rid of one of his best operatives?" Mulder asked the question that had been nagging at both of them. What was up that Krycek was now expendable?
"I don't think he was trying to get rid of Krycek. If he wanted him out of the picture, he'd be gone. We'd just never hear about him again." Mulder said.
"You're thinking this is some sort of diversion then?"
"I don't know. It's something I think we should watch out for though."
Skinner gave a disgusted sigh and nodded in agreement.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Mulder asked.
"Uh huh. I want to keep an eye on him and find out what's going on here. I can't do that if he's wandering around the city somewhere."
"You're taking a big risk moving him into your place."
"Maybe. Maybe not. Do you have any better suggestions?" Walter jingled his keys in his pocket and wished that Mulder would come up with something better but he doubted he could.
"No. We need time - time to figure out exactly what's going on here." Mulder paced the corridor outside Krycek's room. "So where do we go from here?"
"Damned if I know." Skinner answered. "I'll work on him every night when I get home and on the weekends. If he's faking, I'll find out sooner or later."
"Your bedroom door have a lock on it?"
"Yes it does. And I can assure you, I'll be using it."
"Get a chair up against it. That way you'll hear the chair move if he tries to sneak in."
"I'm not really worried about that. If this was some ploy to get me - why haven't they already done it? I mean - why the elaborate ruse? They could take me out any time. I'm a pretty visible target."
Mulder shook his head in agreement.
"No, this is something else. I can't quite put the pieces together yet, but I will." Skinner said.
The door opened then and Krycek walked out into the corridor with the doctor beside him.
"Sir, I want to thank you." Krycek gave a weak smile, "I don't know what else I'm supposed to do."
"It's quite all right. We'll do our best to find out what happened to you and in the mean time, there's no reason you can't use my apartment. There are two bedrooms and I'm gone most of the time anyway."
"And thank you for the clothes."
"That's Mulder's doing."
"It was?" Krycek beamed, "Thank you, Agent Mulder! I really appreciate it. I'll get them back to you as soon as I get some of my own."
"Don't worry about it." Mulder said with the nod of his head.
Skinner turned to leave and the others followed. "Are there any pills or any instructions?" He asked the doctor.
"No. He doesn't need anything. As to his memory, I'd suggest that you just let that work itself out. A lot of questioning might just make him more confused."
"Thanks, Tony. And don't forget." He turned aside and spoke quietly so just the doctor could hear. "If anyone asks, he was never here."
"You got it. Good luck."
"Sir, this is really nice of you." Krycek sat on the edge of the bed in Skinner's guest room.
"You need a place to stay for a while and as long as I'm working on this case personally, it just makes sense."
"I suppose so. I just never thought..."
"You never thought what?"
"I just never thought that the very first case I'd be involved in for the bureau would be my own." Krycek answered as he stared off into space.
"Make yourself at home. The bathroom is in here, there are clean towels under the sink. Mulder got you some shaving gear and toiletries. If you need anything else, just let me know." Skinner said as he headed out the door.
"Sir?" Krycek stood up.
"What am I supposed to do?"
"What do you mean?"
"I want to help. I want to find out what happened to me and why. Shouldn't I be doing something?"
"Right now there isn't much of anything that we can do. You need to just try and relax, maybe take a nap or read or watch TV. Maybe something will trigger a memory. If anything does, anything at all no matter how minor it might seem, be sure and let me know."
"Hi," Walter said from the open doorway to the guest bedroom.
"Hi," Krycek stood up from where he'd been sitting on the side of the bed. "Any news? Has Mulder come up with any ideas?" He asked anxiously.
"No, nothing yet. Have you been sitting here all day?"
"Pretty much. I did go downstairs at noon and fixed myself a sandwich."
"Well you can't just sit here all day. Come on downstairs. I stopped and got some take out for dinner. You like chicken?"
"Sure! I mean... yes Sir." He grinned and followed Walter down the stairs and into the kitchen.
"Sit," Walter motioned him to the table and he sat obediently.
"Smells great, Sir."
Walter fixed a plate for each of them - chicken, corn on the cob, cole slaw and biscuits. "I usually drink water with my meals but I think I have the makings for tea if you want some?"
"No, no, Sir. Water is fine."
Walter fixed them each a glass if ice water and sat down. He eyed Krycek as they ate and tried to find some trace of his former enemy but could find none. This was just a very polite, very correct, scared young man sitting across from him.
"There's more if you're still hungry?"
"Oh, no thank you, Sir. That was plenty." Alex answered as he wiped his mouth on the paper napkin.
Walter went to the stove and started a pot of coffee. "Look, I know this is awkward but I'd appreciate it if you'd call me Walter."
"Oh no, Sir. I couldn't do that. I mean... you're my boss! Aren't I supposed to always address you as 'Sir'? It's a sign of respect and I highly respect you, Sir." Alex said as he stood and began clearing the table.
"Sir' is fine and appropriate while we're on the job but right now we're in my home and I'd appreciate it if you'd forget the 'Sir' bit. It makes me feel old. It's how we had to address my father. I may be older than you but not old enough to be your father."
"Oh no, Sir... I mean... Walter." The name faltered on his tongue. "I never meant to make you feel old... you're not, Sir. Old, I mean... Walter." He dropped his eyes to the floor and stuck his hands in his jeans pockets.
Walter grinned at his discomfort and remembered his own awkwardness at his early one-on-one conversations with his first AD.
"Coffee will be ready in a few minutes. You want to drink it in here or in the living room?"
"In here." Alex answered quickly. "I wouldn't want to take the chance of spilling it on any of your beautiful furniture."
Walter pulled cups and saucers down from the cabinet and asked, "How do you take it? I think I have some sugar around here somewhere but I don't have any milk."
"Black is fine," Alex said and sat back down at the table.
Walter leaned back against the cabinets with arms crossed. "So tell me everything you can remember about yourself up to your graduation from Quantico."
"Oh that's easy." He said, relieved to be asked a question he could actually answer.
He told of growing up in Springfield, Illinois and how his father had been killed in a bar fight when he was 12 leaving him and his mother to fend for themselves and her death five years later from cancer, just two months shy of his high school graduation. There was just enough money from the insurance to pay for her burial and his first year's tuition at the local Community College.
He told how all his life he had wanted to be a police man. His parents were immigrants but brought him up with a fierce loyalty to this country and extreme respect for the local police officers. It was a career he had planned for all his life.
Walter was fascinated with the story and the sincerity and openness with which it unfolded. He poured them each a cup of coffee and joined Alex at the table with a "Go on."
"There's not much more to tell really." Alex said as he sipped his coffee. "Two years at Community College, two more at the Police academy and just before graduation some recruiters from the Bureau came by and gave a talk. I filled out an application and next thing I knew, I was accepted and I guess you know the rest."
"What happened after you finished up at Quantico? This is very important. Tell me exactly what you remember. Don't leave anything out. Any little detail might be the key we need to un-ravel this mystery."
"Graduation was on a Thursday. I remember everyone was excited and wondering where they would be assigned. They told us a notice would be posted the next day telling us all where we were going."
Walter poured them each a second cup of coffee and urged Alex to continue.
"I remember I packed my stuff up and went to bed early. When I got there Friday morning there was a crowd around the bulletin board and I couldn't see for a while. I finally made my way up to the front and was thrilled when I saw 'DC' after my name. It was my dream assignment. Everyone had been asked to fill out a form saying where we would prefer to work. Most everyone chose their home states but I had written in 'DC'. I never dreamed that I'd get it!"
"What next?" Walter asked and he could see Alex becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
"I spent the next couple of days looking for a place to live. I found one I could afford and got settled in. Then the messenger came with the note telling me that I'd been assigned to you - that you were my AD. The rest you know." He fingered the cup nervously but didn't drink any more.
"The apartment you found - how did you find it? Did someone recommend it?"
"No. I found an ad for it in the newspaper."
"What about the other graduates? Were any of them jealous that you got DC and they didn't?"
"Not that I know of. As I said, most of them chose their home states. A couple chose Hawaii. I didn't know of anyone else who chose DC."
"Was anyone hanging around? Anyone who shouldn't have been there - someone showing interest in where everyone was going?"
"Not that I saw. It was pretty crowded though. All 137 graduates were there milling around talking about their assignments. I guess someone else could have been there that didn't belong. If there was, I didn't notice."
"What about before graduation - any strangers around asking questions?"
"None that I saw." Alex shook his head and gave a hopeless shrug.
"Anything else you can remember - anything unusual or unexpected?"
"No, nothing." He seemed to remember something and added, "Except..."
"I don't think it's important but you said 'everything'."
"On that form, when I requested DC, I also added that, if possible, I'd like to be assigned to you and hopefully get to work with Mulder on the X-Files."
"You were asked who you wanted for an AD and who you wanted to work with?"
"No, no. I was only asked if I had a preference where I'd like to be assigned. I added the rest."
"Why did you pick me and Mulder?"
"Because we studied a lot of your cases in class. I've read all your reports as well as several other AD's and I knew you were the one I wanted to work with. And Mulder? Well his reports were all so amazing and I knew that working with the two of you would be the most exciting... the most rewarding."
Walter stared across the table at him as if he had just met him for the first time.
"Sir?... uh... Walter? Is something wrong?"
"No, nothing's wrong. I was just thinking." Walter answered as he stood and took his cup and saucer to the sink and rinsed it out.
Alex stood and did the same. "You know, the strangest thing in all this is the way I look?"
Walter walked into the living room and Alex followed.
"You mean your arm?"
"No. My face. It's fatter, older. My body too. I've got scars and I don't even know how I got them."
"Dr. Green did explain to you what year it is - how much time has passed since you left Quantico?"
"Yes, he did and I wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't shown me that mirror. I thought I'd lost a few days - a week maybe. Then I find out I lost eight years! It's crazy."
"And you don't have a single memory of the last eight years - where you lived, what kind of car you drove, who you worked with? Nothing at all?"
"Nothing! My memory goes directly from the night I got the message that I was assigned to you, to the night I found myself in that alley. It's all the same night in my head."
Walter sat quietly, deep in thought.
"You think I was attacked in that alley and that's what caused the memory loss?"
"I don't know what I think any more." Walter answered truthfully.
"All those tests Dr. Green ran on me - won't they tell us something?"
"They haven't so far."
They sat in silence for a while before Alex spoke. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sure. Remember though, I'm not supposed to tell you anything about the past eight years. You're supposed to get those memories back by yourself."
"Ok. When you first came into the room where I was at the clinic, you seemed angry with me. You asked if I was trying to pull something on you. What was that all about? Why did you ask me that?"
Walter stood up, went to his liquor cabinet and fixed himself a drink.
"I know you can't answer that with specifics but... you were angry and you did seem to think I was pulling some kind of trick on you. Can you tell me that much? Were you angry with me?"
"Yes, I was angry. I had just been woken up in the middle of the night and I had no idea what was going on."
"You were angry with me. I must have done something wrong - made a mistake. Oh God! Please don't tell me I got someone killed!?"
"No, no one was killed that night; not that I know of." Walter answered quickly after seeing Alex's stricken face.
"But I screwed up somehow; made you angry with me." It wasn't a question.
"No, you're going in the wrong direction here. We weren't even working on anything together that night."
"But why would you think that I would be pulling something on you? Have I pulled things on you before? Why would I do something like that?"
Walter stared at him not knowing what to answer.
"Have I? Have I pulled things on you before; tricked you in some way?"
Walter turned away, finished off his drink and fixed another. "Would you like a drink?"
Alex shook his head 'no' and swallowed hard. "You're avoiding the question. I can understand that. What I don't understand is how I'm supposed to get my memory back if no one is allowed to help me?"
"It's only been a few days. Dr. Green wants you to try and rest up, relax and get to feeling better. Things might start coming back to you then."
"It's been almost a week. I feel fine. I've been sleeping, relaxing. I'm Ok and nothing is coming back. Nothing!"
"I'll talk with Dr. Green tomorrow and see what he thinks about trying something else." Walter offered.
"Oh thank you! Thank you so much. I'd really appreciate that." Then heading for the stairs added, "I think I'll turn in now."
"Does it hurt?" Walter asked from the doorway as Alex stood in front of his mirror and ran a hand over the remains of his left arm.
"No, it's just... I don't know. It's hard getting used to this thing." He worked awkwardly to refasten his prostheses back on and struggled into a sweatshirt.
"I think there's some kind of training you can get to teach you how to use that thing. I'll ask Dr. Green about it."
"Did you talk with him today?"
"Yes. He suggested I drive you around - take you to some places you've been in the past.
"Great! Can we go now?" Tonight?"
"Absolutely. Just let me get changed."
Every night after work they would drive to a different restaurant and hit a few night spots afterwards hoping to find something to jar Alex's memories. Every weekend they would take short trips to places Walter knew Alex had been. They started out with Springfield, Illinois, his home town. Alex remembered everything there. They went to the house he used to live in, the schools he went to, and the cemetery where his parents were buried. All those memories were vivid and intact.
They spent time at Quantico and he remembered it all. They went to the old apartment building where he had his first place and even got to visit his room as it was empty. It was exactly as he remembered. But there his memory stopped. It went directly from that tiny studio apartment to the alley where he was found - eight years later.
Dr. Green set him up with a physical therapist who taught him how to use his prosthesis and in a matter of weeks he was handling it with ease.
Walter lent him a lap top computer and in no time he was busy setting up web sites for people and had a nice little income coming in. His first purchase was a lap top of his own and then he figured out the cost of all the clothes that Walter had bought him and insisted on paying him back. Then came the discussion/argument about paying for room and board. At first Walter refused but relented when he realized how desperately Alex needed some sense of independence. Once the money situation was worked out, things ran smoothly. They found themselves to be very compatible and the awkwardness of their situation eased.
They had both come to enjoy their nightly excursions into DC night life; even the occasional gay bars after Alex had pointed out a few that he remembered going to. It didn't bother Walter a bit and it shocked Alex when he first suggested they go in for a drink.
That had been their routine for about two months when they were coming home one night after drinks at a comedy club and they were laughing about something one of the comedians had said as they got out of the car. Walter walked around the side of the car and saw Alex standing still, rigid with fear. Walter followed his eyes and saw him staring at a puddle of oil in the parking spot next to them.
"Are you Ok?" He asked.
"Did it move? Did you see it move?" Alex whispered.
Walter stared at the oil for a few seconds, "No. It hasn't moved. Whoever parked here before must have an oil leak - nothing to worry about."
"I think it moved. I saw it when I first got out of the car." Alex still hadn't moved.
Walter watched the puddle for a few more seconds, placed his hand on Alex's arm and pulled him back. "It's just the light reflection. Come on. Let's get upstairs."
Alex backed slowly away and allowed himself to be led to the elevator but he kept his eyes on the oil.
Once inside their mood changed.
"Do you remember something?" Walter asked. "Anything?"
"Just what happened in the alley. It moved, Walter. I swear it did!"
"I believe you."
"You believe me? But how? How can something like that happen? And how did it get inside me? How could it make me lose eight years of my life?"
Alex was frantic with questions and Walter had no answers for him. At least none that he was comfortable enough discussing. When the time was right, he'd have Mulder come over and explain what little he knew about the black oil. But it was too soon for that right now. All it would do would scare Alex even more than he already was.
"I can't answer your questions, Alex, but you're safe here. Why don't we turn in? Tomorrow's Saturday and we want to get an early start on our drive."
Alex followed him upstairs and they each went to their rooms. Walter dozed but couldn't get fully to sleep. He got up, went into his bathroom for a drink of water and something caught his attention - a muffled noise. He walked out into the hallway and heard it again. It was coming from Alex's room. He stood at the open doorway and peered into the semi-dark room half lit only by the hall light.
Alex was lying on his side facing away from the door. Walter could see that he was crying. He walked over, sat on the edge of the bed and put a hand on Alex's shoulder. Alex stiffened and hushed immediately.
"Alex, whatever happens, whatever you remember, I'm going to see you through this."
Alex turned around slowly and sat up.
"I'm crazy; aren't I?" he said miserably.
"NO! You're not crazy!"
"Who ever heard of oil that moves? No one! I think maybe I should see a psychiatrist."
"Alex, trust me. You're not crazy."
"Then why am I afraid of a puddle of oil? And why can't I sleep with the door closed? Why do small places terrify me now? They never did before." He looked down and rubbed his forehead with his good hand. "I must be crazy. Is that where I've been for the last eight years? Locked up in some mental institution?"
"No! Alex, you've got this all wrong." He took hold of Alex by the shoulders and gave him a little shake. "Someone has done this to you - messed with your mind - and we're going to find out who did it and make them fix you. Then we're going to make him pay. I promise you!"
"It's been months now and you've come up with nothing!"
"That doesn't mean we're not still working on it. We are! Mulder and I are working on it every day and Dr. Green is doing research trying to come up with some way to help. We'll figure something out."
"What if we can't? What if I never get my memory back?"
"Then we'll deal with it."
"How? I'll never be able to work at the Bureau. Not with this." He held up his plastic arm.
"What about the work you're doing now - site building: I thought you enjoyed that?"
"I do but it's not what I trained my whole life to do!"
"Alex... sometimes... sometimes things don't work out the way we plan. The only thing we can do is just... go on; keep on doing the best we can."
"You're saying I should forget about the Bureau?"
"I'm saying this is not the time right now, tonight, to be making any decisions. I'm saying give it more time."
Alex looked so sad and miserable that Walter pulled him into his arms and held him close. "Things will work out, Alex. I promise you. Maybe not the way you planned but they will work out. And it might even turn out better than you ever dreamed of."
"I'm scared, Walter. I'm really scared." Alex whispered against Walter's bare shoulder.
"I know you are." Walter tightened the embrace and one hand came up to the back of Alex's head. "But you don't need to be. You trust me; don't you?"
"You?" Alex leaned back enough to look Walter in the eye. "Of course I'm not scared of you! You're... wonderful." He wrapped his arms around Walter and hugged him close.
Walter was a little taken aback by the comment and the hug but he went on with what he was going to say. "You're not alone, Alex. I'm right here going through all this with you and I'll help you in any way I can - whatever it takes; I'll be here for you. We'll get through this."
Alex leaned back then against the headboard and gave a grateful smile. "I don't know what I'd do without you. I'm still scared to death but I trust you."
"Try and get some sleep now and don't think about anything but our nice long ride in the countryside tomorrow." Walter stood and headed for the door.
Alex shook his head 'yes' and snuggled back down into the covers.
Walter went to his room and had a stern talk with himself. He rubbed a hand over his face and thought, "Oh my God! I almost kissed him! Alex Krycek! I almost kissed him!" He paced the floor and worried.
"No matter what happens or has happened to him; he's still Alex Krycek! I can't let myself forget that. I can't let myself be taken in by those... beautiful green eyes and that helpless attitude and... hero-worshiping glances he's giving me. He's still Alex Fucking Krycek!"
He climbed into bed and tried to sleep but the one thing he couldn't get out of his mind was how good it felt holding Alex in his arms and feeling Alex tighten his arms around him.
Walter gave it a lot of thought the next day during their ride and decided it was time to get Mulder over and explain to Alex about the Black Oil. Alex had a right to know, he had the right to know that he wasn't going crazy. He gave Mulder a call when they got home and asked him to come over the next day. He was going to try and answer as many of Alex's questions as he could.
Mulder showed up at 10:30 Sunday morning and was greeted eagerly by Alex who was brimming over with excitement knowing that a lot of his questions were about to be answered.
Walter had put a large pot of coffee on and poured everyone a cup as they sat at the kitchen table.
"I think maybe you should start by telling Alex everything you know about the Black Oil." Walter started things out.
"Everything? Even... who I was there with?" Mulder asked.
"Yes. He needs to know. He think's he's going crazy. We've got to convince him that he's not."
"You know something about the oil? You've seen it move?" Alex could barely contain himself.
"You and I were on a case and following a lead that took us deep into the Russian woods." Mulder started out after taking a sip of coffee.
"You and I? We worked on a case together?"
"Yes. We got caught and were being held in a prison camp. We... got separated. I was... subjected to some of their experiments. One of them..." he cringed at the memory, "I was secured down to a table and black oil was splashed down into my face." He gulped and stopped for another sip of coffee.
Alex sat across from him, wide-eyed and eager for each word. "What happened?"
"It was... like you said. It moved. It separated into little worm-like creatures and... crawled up my face and into my nose and ears." He couldn't help but shudder. "I completely blacked out. I have no idea how long that stuff was in me but the next thing I remember is vomiting it all up."
Alex sat in stunned silence.
"The next time I saw you... you had that." Mulder motioned to Alex's prosthetic arm.
"So I lost my arm in Russia? But how?"
"I don't know. Like I said, we got separated." Mulder took a moment before he went on.
"The next time I came in contact with the black oil was on the Piper Maru case."
"Does that name mean anything to you?" Walter asked.
"No. I've never heard of it. Maru means 'ship' in Japanese though, doesn't it?"
"The Piper Maru was a ship that turned up with all the crew but one dying or dead from radiation exposure. The one man who survived, a diver, was found covered with oil and had no memory of what happened to him. His wife was later found wandering around Hong Kong, covered in oil and claiming to not know how she got there."
"The oil went from the diver into his wife? But why Hong Kong? What was in Hong Kong?"
"You." Mulder answered.
"ME?" Alex almost came up off his chair. "WHY ME? I was in Hong Kong?"
"It took me a while to put the pieces together and, as usual, I have no proof but I can tell you what I think happened."
"You know of my work, you said you studied my files - the X-Files?"
"Yes. I know the kind of work you do. Tell me, please!"
"All right. There is an alien life form that was on the bottom of the ocean. It somehow got into that diver and from the diver into his wife. This life form exists in a heavy-duty black oil and it's capable of transferring itself from one human to another. Once the transfer is made, the human who hosted it has no memory of what happened during the time the Olien was inside him."
"You think that's what happened to me? But what was I doing in Hong Kong and why did it want me?"
"Well, that's another guess but I'm thinking that Cancer man needed something from you. I'm thinking that he sent the Oilien after you to get whatever it was."
"Cancer man? Who's that? And what could I have had that he needed?" Alex was stunned but still full of questions.
"He's someone you got involved with." Walter answered. "For a long time we didn't know his name. He smokes constantly so we used to call him Cancer man, or smoking man. Now we know his name. It's C.G.B. Spender."
"Spender? You asked me once if I knew him. I don't. How did I get involved with him? Does he work for the Bureau?"
"We don't know." Mulder answered.
"Do you remember seeing any oil when that messenger came to your apartment? It must have happened then." Walter asked.
"No, I didn't see any oil. Just the message. Then I ate and went to bed. Could it have happened while I was asleep?"
"That's a possibility." Mulder answered.
"But what could I have had that this guy Spender wanted and why didn't he just ask me for it? Why would he send some... alien to come after me? And who are these Oileans and what do they want? Where do they come from? What's being done about them?"
"My best guess is that you had in your possession a computer disk that he wanted."
"Where would I have gotten such a thing? And what was on it that was so important?"
"You got it from me." Walter said. "You and some friends of yours took it from me in the stairwell at the hospital."
Alex's mouth dropped open. "Why would I do a thing like that? You're saying I took it from you... forcibly? What was on it? Why was it so important?"
"Information that the old man needed." Mulder answered.
"I can't believe this." Alex got up and started pacing the floor. "You make it sound like... like I turned against my own AD. I would never do anything like that!"
"If that Oilean was inside you back then, you wouldn't even have known what you were doing. You would have done anything that you were told to do." Walter said.
"Do you think that's what happened to me?" He asked Walter directly.
"I don't know, Alex. But it's beginning to look that way."
"And you, Mulder. What do you think?" Alex asked.
"I'd say it's a definite possibility."
"But what can we do about it? Can we find this guy Spender and make him get his... alien friends to... fix me?"
"I don't know if that's even possible. I spoke repeatedly with both the diver and his wife the last few weeks and neither of them have the slightest memory of what happened during the time they were hosts. They have been regressed by a hypnotist and there is just no memory there. It simply goes from one point in their lives before they were taken, until the next when they were free - nothing in between. It's as if those memories don't even exist for them."
Alex sat back down and sipped his coffee. "Then you're saying that my memory probably will never come back?"
"I've been in contact with the diver and his wife since you were found - neither of them have any memory at all of what happened to them and they've tried everything to retrieve those memories."
"It's hopeless then."
"Not hopeless. Just because it didn't happen for them, doesn't mean it won't happen for you. The mind is a tricky thing. What works for some might not work for others. I still think it's too early to be thinking that this memory loss is permanent."
"Is there anything else about the black oil that I should know?" Alex asked Mulder.
"No. You know about all that I do now. One thing I was thinking though."
"What?" Alex and Walter both asked at the same time.
"If that's what happened to you, if that thing was in you for eight years and then left you - that must mean that it has no further use for you."
Alex and Walter looked at each other then back to Mulder.
"Neither the diver nor his wife have been taken again?" Walter asked.
"That's good then." Walter said, turning to Alex. "You don't have to worry about it coming after you again."
"You think that's true?" Alex asked Mulder.
"Apparently they don't need you any more or they wouldn't have let you go."
"I still can't believe it! Aliens! Aliens who live in oil. It's like a Sci-Fi movie. But why did they pick me?"
"There's no way of knowing that; maybe because you have no family and no one who would recognize a change in your behavior. Maybe you have some skill that they needed. There's no way of knowing the answer to that one." Mulder answered.
The three of them sat quietly in thought for a few minutes then Alex turned to Walter, "I'm not crazy! The oil thing moving, I really did see it!" He gave a tired little smile.
"You're not crazy, Alex. And you may or may not get your memory back. The important thing we have to hold on to right now is that you are free of that thing - free to live your life any way you choose." Walter said and reached over and gave Alex's arm a re-assuring squeeze.
"Not quite. Not with this." Alex held up his plastic arm. "I can't be an agent again and I can't even be a policeman."
"Maybe you don't need to be living a life of danger any more. Maybe your computer work can be enough." Walter said.
"You could probably get on somewhere as a security consultant. These places aren't too picky about your resume as long as you know your stuff. Do you remember anything about security?" Mulder asked.
"I remember everything we were taught at Quantico. I guess I could do that kind of work."
"There are a lot of things you can do, Alex. You don't need to make any decisions right now." Walter assured him.
"Do we know anything else about these aliens... Oileans - what they're here for, what they want, what's being done about them?" Alex asked Mulder.
"That's about all we know about them. I've added your information to the file we have on them but we don't know enough about them to get anyone even remotely interested. It's just another un-explained X-File I'm afraid." Mulder said glumly.
"What about the CIA? Aren't they the ones concerned with National Security?" Alex asked. "Shouldn't they be working on this?"
"I've discussed the matter with my contact there and all I get is a smug little smile, a pat on the head and their word that they have everything under control." Mulder said.
"So they already knew about the... oil people... er... Oileans?" Alex asked.
"I have no idea. They refuse to discuss it with me." Mulder answered.
"Then it's out of our hands?" Alex asked Walter.
"I'm afraid so - at least as far as anything to be done through the Bureau. We still have Dr. Green who is trying to find someone who has experience with unlocking lost memories."
"Well at least I know now for sure that I'm not crazy. I think that's what I was afraid of most. I didn't want to end up in some padded cell for the rest of my life."
They all stood and walked Mulder to the door.
"So I got to work some cases with you?" Alex asked. "Maybe sometime we could get together and you could tell me about them?"
Walter felt a sudden flash of heat and tamped it down, "I am not jealous of Fox Mulder!" he scolded himself mentally.
"Sure, or maybe it would be easier if you just read the reports." Mulder said.
"I'm not sure he can do that, Mulder. He doesn't have clearance."
"You could always bring the files home and just sort of leave them lying around." Mulder grinned.
"We don't need to get in to any of that right now. I think he's got enough on his plate just trying to get his life going again." Walter opened the door and was glad when Mulder finally left.
Alex collapsed on the couch and rubbed the back of his neck.
"You Ok?" Walter asked.
"Yeah. Just a tension head ache. I still can't believe any of this. I mean... I believe it; I believe you and Mulder, it's just so un-real."
"The important thing to keep in mind here is that it's gone now and it's extremely doubtful that it will ever come back. I know you lost your arm and that's a tragedy but you're coping well, you're working, you're healthy. Everything is going to turn out well. You'll see."
"Do you know this guy Spender? Could you set up a meeting for me?"
"No! This guy is probably the most dangerous man alive right now. You don't want to go anywhere near him."
"I guess you're right. He could always send the aliens back to get me again."
"That's right. You've got to remember that. And who knows - you might not even want those memories if you knew what they were."
"You know them - at least some of them?"
"I actually knew very little about you." Walter turned away from him, hiding his guilty little lie but refusing to add to Alex's discomfort with the truth.
"I guess I'll just have to wait and talk with Mulder when he has the time. Maybe he can fill me in." Alex said and excused himself and went upstairs to lie down.
Walter sat at his desk thinking for a while then got up, went out on his balcony and closed the door behind him. He took out his cell phone and punched in Mulder's number.
"Sir?" Mulder answered.
"What do you think, Mulder? Do you think this is some kind of act that Alex is putting on or is it the real thing and the person I have taken into my home is the real Alex Krycek and not the animal that we both knew so well?"
"There's just no way to know for sure, Sir."
"Best guess then."
"Ok. If I had to guess, I say it's eighty or ninety percent sure that he's on the level. I think this is exactly like something that old smoky would do-take someone and use them until they weren't needed any more and then dump them."
"I agree. I think he's telling the truth." Walter said.
"There is one thing though." Mulder added.
"What would that be?"
"If it was that easy to manipulate someone, why hasn't he done it more? To you? Or to Me?"
"Shit! I hadn't thought of that." Walter was edging back into depression.
"It could be something as simple as maybe he did try it on us and it didn't work."
"That's true!" He was up again. "He's had both of us in his clutches at different times."
"And it's possible we didn't have what he needed. We were pretty sure that Krycek worked as an assassin. Maybe he was a better shot than we were. I know I'm not all that great a shot."
"My shooting record was pretty good but there were some who were a lot better." Walter agreed. "You think it could be something as simple as that?"
"If you needed an assassin, you'd go for the guy who's the best shot. I'll check out Krycek's records when I get home."
"I'll check them out right now." Walter said and headed back inside. He listened at the bottom of the staircase and heard nothing from Alex.
He sat down at his desk and began working at his computer while Mulder waited on the phone. A few minutes later he picked up the phone again and said, "He shot Marksman. The best of the best."
"Well there you go." Mulder said. "I'd say it looks pretty solid, Sir. With that bit of information I'm upping my percentage to ninety to ninety five percent sure."
"Why the hold-back? Why not one hundred percent?" Walter asked.
"Because of who he is... or was. Alex Krycek. That's the bottom line."
"Yes, I suppose we do have to keep that in mind. Thanks, Mulder. If you come up with anything new, call me right away."
They continued their nightly routine pretty much as it had been - going to any place at all where Alex might have been and then they gradually expanded it to anyplace that they found interesting. They went to the fanciest of restaurants and to the lowest of bars and everything in between. They went to Broadway openings in tux's and shiny shoes one night and into sleazy no-name bars in torn blue jeans and dirty sneakers the next - museums one day and to a skuzzy porn house the next. They rode sometimes in limousines, sometimes on a motorcycle or whatever they decided to rent for the day or the week. They explored the world around them in all its many facets and laughed and enjoyed themselves every minute of it.
Walter was cutting his days shorter at work and getting home earlier. On nights when the weather was bad, they would work up something for dinner together; each doing his share of the work, and spend the evening talking or sometimes listening to music or reading. They had made just one rule - that neither of them work after Walter got home.
Occasionally, Walter would remember to ask if anything they saw brought back any memories for Alex but those times became rarer and less important.
One night Walter was startled out of a sound sleep, got up and went immediately to Alex's room. He was tossing and turning in the midst of a nightmare. Walter debated whether to wake him or not and was relieved of that decision when Alex sat bolt upright with his eyes wide opened with fear. "NO! NO!"
Walter came into the room then, sat on the side of the bed and took him by the shoulders.
"It's all right, Alex. It was just a dream."
"No it wasn't! It was real. I saw it. It was coming for me - the black oil!"
Walter flipped the bedside lamp on. "Look around. Do you see any signs of any oil in here?"
Alex looked quickly all around the room.
"No, but it could be around - anywhere." Alex was trembling with fear. "We saw it in the parking garage."
"No, that was just an oil leak from some guy's car. It's not the same. Besides, how could it get up here? We're on the seventeenth floor; remember?"
"It came up from the bottom of the sea; it could easily get up here." Alex reasoned.
"Well let's see. What do we have that can take care of oil? We have detergent. We could sprinkle Tide all around the edge of your bed." Walter suggested with a lop-sided grin.
They both dissolved in laughter and Alex gave him a hug. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say!" As he laughed some more and wiped the tears from his eyes.
"I know. I just wanted to make sure you were awake." Walter said and hugged him a little closer.
"I'm so sorry I woke you." Alex apologized but kept his head on Walter's bare shoulder.
"Don't be. I've had my share of nightmares. I know what it's like." Walter re-assured him as he massaged the back of Alex's neck. "I won't let anything happen to you. I promise." And he was a little shocked at how deeply he meant that. He knew in that moment that he would do anything to protect Alex - anything.
Alex leaned back slightly and with a sad but grateful smile said, "You can't promise that."
"Yes I can!" Walter assured him. "You've been through enough. You've lost your arm, you've lost your memory, your career - enough is enough. Whatever you've done in this or any past life - you've paid for it." He caressed the side of Alex's face and wiped away a tear with his thumb.
Alex leaned back into Walter's arms and placed a kiss on his shoulder. "I love you, Walter. Is it Ok for me to say that?"
Walter was stunned to hear the words but even more stunned at the reaction hearing them created in him. "Yes; yes, it's all right. I love you too. You do know that?" He leaned back enough to see Alex's face.
"Uh huh." He smiled shyly.
Walter brought their mouths together then in a sweet tentative kiss; followed by several others just as sweet and tender. "I'd better let you get some sleep now." He gave Alex's hand a re-assuring squeeze and stood up. "You think you can sleep now?"
"I'll try." He scooted back down in bed.
"If you have trouble sleeping; come wake me." Walter said and walked back to his room and got into bed. He lay there wide awake, staring at the ceiling and thinking, "What have I done? How did this happen? I told Alex I love him. I * do* love him! Oh my God! What have I done?" He rolled over on his side and punched his pillow into shape. After a while his eyes closed and he dozed off.
He didn't feel the covers being pulled back or the weight in the bed shift. He did feel the arm slide up around him and the warm body snuggle up close. He also felt the kiss on the back of his neck. He brought the hand to his mouth and placed a kiss in the palm.
"Can't sleep?" He asked as calmly as he could. His heart was pounding so hard he was sure Alex could hear it.
"Don't want to. Do you?" Alex asked as he nuzzled his cheek against Walter's back.
"Are you sure about this?"
Walter turned over, leaned across Alex and switched the bedside lamp on. Alex's hand came up Walter's side to his shoulder then slid slowly down the chest; his hand fingering
the curly hair. Walter smiled. He didn't know what it was about the hair on his chest but his male lovers always seemed to enjoy it while most of his female lovers hadn't. In fact, Sharon had requested often that he have it removed.
Alex's hand had found a nipple and he toyed with it gently. All thoughts of anything or anyone but Alex fled Walter's mind and he lowered himself down over Alex for a sweet kiss that turned into several and deepened to a pleasure that stunned them both.
Walter rolled over on his back and pulled Alex over on top of him, their mouths never parting for a second, as Alex pressed his full weight on top of him. Hands roamed over each other's bodies, legs entwined, hips mashed together, and eager mouths clung together sucking tongues and lips.
Walter slid his hands down inside Alex's briefs and caressed the bare bottom. Alex reached down and yanked the briefs off and out of the way. Walter did the same with his own and pulled Alex tightly to him with nothing in their way now they ground together, rolling over and over with first one on top and then the other.
They each slid a hand between them and grabbed the other's cock - their movements frantic now with the firestorm of intense pleasure as they sought their release. Alex lost it first and came with a wail as he buried his face against Walter's chest. Walter held him extra close and in the warmth of Alex's pleasure, he came.
They lay locked together in stunned silence for several moments before either of them moved or spoke - the moment too perfect to interrupt. Then in a tiny voice Walter wasn't even sure if he heard it or dreamed it, "I love you." The declaration from Alex was more a sigh of contentment then an attempt at communication.
"Alex... Alex" was the only thing that Walter could manage to get out. "Stay here with me, in my bed. Sleep with me."
"I'll stay." Alex breathed his reply and moved only his head to nestle in closer to Walter.
The two of them slept.
In the morning they awoke with sticky groans and laughed together as they made their way into the shower. A quick wash up and then sex under the running water - a perfect start to a perfect morning.
Their relationship blossomed into something neither of them had ever known - happiness. They each had their work to occupy and sustain them and in the evenings and weekends they had each other.
They seldom went out now and preferred to spend their time together fixing dinner together, listening to music, dancing to the soft jazz that they both liked. Little if anything was said about Alex's past and regaining his memory was no longer his first priority - greeting Walter at the door each evening was. Sometimes he'd meet him stark naked with nothing on but an apron and he'd have dinner waiting on the table. Other times he'd be waiting lying naked and face down on the couch leaving nothing to wonder about what he was wanting. Walter was only too happy to oblige whether it was a quickie up against the door or a long slow fuck on his leather couch. Life for them was perfect now and they enjoyed it immensely.
"Hey, Alex, I'm home. I stopped and got some pizza." Skinner let himself into his apartment, dumped the pizza on the coffee table and leafed through the mail. The stillness of the apartment registered then. There was no music playing, no Alex running into his arms with breathless kisses telling him how much he was missed.
He dropped the letters and called out again, "Alex?" He thought Alex must be in the shower and bounded up the stairs with lascivious thoughts of joining him. He pulled his tie loose and tossed his jacket on the bed then stopped again. Dead quiet. The shower wasn't running. The bathroom door was standing wide open. The silence was deafening.
"Alex?" He bolted across the hall towards Alex's seldom used bedroom and flicked the light on. The room was empty. He walked to the closet and opened it - dreading what he would see. It was empty. All Alex' clothes were gone. He opened dresser drawers to find them empty as well. Alex was gone.
He walked slowly out the door, turned the light off, and went to his room. Alex was gone. The pain inside him built until he thought he might explode. It all came out then in a giant sob and he fell to his bed. 'He's gone!' the thought kept repeating itself over and over again like a stuck record. 'He's gone.'
The pain was so sharp within him that he thought for a moment or two he might be having a heart attack but if Alex was gone, he really didn't care. He curled on his side and let the tears have their way.
He awoke hours later and got up to relieve himself. His stomach roared it's disapproval at being ignored for so long and he made his way down the stairs. He pulled a slice of cold pizza out of the box and munched on it but his heart wasn't in it. After a few bites he tossed it back into the box.
He fixed himself a drink and gulped it half down. The burn on an empty stomach shook him a bit so he drank the rest of it down and flung the empty glass across the room. It crashed against his desk and he sank to his knees. "Alex! Alex!" He moaned, "Why? Why did you have to leave me? Why?" Tears streamed from his already swollen eyes as he tried to reason things out but he was unable to think and reasoning was out of the question. All he could do was feel and all he felt was pain - pain and loss.
The blaring of his alarm clock woke him and he got up off the floor in front of his bar and went upstairs and shut it off. He stood in the shower until the water ran cold then got out and dried off. He shaved, got dressed and went to work.
He sat in a meeting and listened at they droned on and on and thought about yesterday. Yesterday morning he woke up with Alex snuggled up next to him sleeping soundly in his arms. He gave him the usual little wake up that they both so enjoyed and hauled him into the shower where Alex returned the favor. He could hardly shave for Alex getting in the way, nuzzling him, trying to lure him back into bed.
Alex had stood resolutely in front of Walter's underwear drawer and wouldn't let him get dressed. "Take the day off." Alex had said. "Let's go look at some of those houses."
"I can't today. I've got meetings scheduled both this morning and this afternoon."
"Reschedule them for tomorrow."
"I can't. The budget meeting is tomorrow."
"It's too beautiful a day to work! C'mon. Let's play hooky!" Alex had grinned at him.
He had almost given in but he had been taking a lot of time off since Alex had moved in with him and he needed to get caught up on things. These meetings were important. At least they would be until he retired. He thought about that retirement letter he had already printed out and stashed in his briefcase. Why hadn't he turned it in? Did he know somewhere in the back of his mind that something would happen? Was that why Alex left - because he didn't take the day off? No. He knew the answer to that before the question was fully formed in his mind. He had taken several days off in the last eight months that Alex had lived with him and Alex knew the drill. If he had meetings scheduled, he couldn't take the day off. But if nothing was scheduled, he could and did take off many days to just lie around in bed all day with Alex, or take a ride in the country, or spend an afternoon wandering through a museum or a book store. Alex would not have
walked out on him for that. There had to be another reason. But what? His memory? Was it possible that he got his memory back after all this time?
"Skinner? A.D. Skinner?" The voice roused him from his thoughts. "Do you agree with the rest of us or not?" The chairman of the meeting was asking him.
"Uh, yes. Yes I do. I fully agree that we need to cut expenses. And you can start with me. I'm taking leave of absence starting right now. If you'll excuse me." He stood up and walked to the door.
"He can't do that; can he?" Someone asked.
"Now just a minute AD Skinner - if you want to take a leave you'll have to apply through the proper channels just like everybody else." DD Kersh was demanding but Skinner heard none of it. He was already out in the hall and headed for his office. The phone was ringing when he got there but he didn't answer it. He threw a few things into his briefcase, grabbed his coat and headed out. He stopped at his secretary's desk long enough to tell her he was leaving and headed out.
He didn't want to wait for the elevator so he took the stairs. At ground floor level Mulder cut him off at the door.
"Sir, where you headed in such a hurry?" He grinned and galloped down the front steps beside Skinner. "I'm available if you need some help."
Skinner stopped dead in his tracks, half way out to the parking lot. Mulder skidded to a stop beside him.
"Maybe you can help me. You're not assigned to an AD right now?"
"Nope. Kersh told me to make myself available to whoever needed me so that pretty much put me on vacation. No one seems to want to get mixed up with spooky Mulder."
"I've got a job for you." Skinner headed out to his car and unlocked it. "Get in."
"What's this all about?" Mulder was excited to be working on something - anything again.
"A missing person." Skinner announced as he pulled out into D.C. traffic.
Mulder sighed and looked out the side window. He hadn't been all that happy when he learned that Skinner was taking Alex Krycek to live with him, but there was nothing he could do about it. He suspected the relationship had developed into a lot more than an AD helping out a former agent over the last several months but his opinion hadn't been asked for and he hadn't given it.
"So what'd he do - take off?" Mulder finally asked.
"Uh huh. And I need to find him. Whatever you have to do, whoever you have to pay off, I'll cover it. Just help me find him."
"How long has he been gone?" Mulder did not want to be dragged into this particular situation but he had offered to help and now he was stuck.
"Since yesterday. He was gone when I got home."
"You two have a fight or something?" Mulder reluctantly asked really not wanting to know about it but knowing it was the first step in a long trail to follow a missing person.
"NO! That's just it. Everything was perfect!"
"Perfect?" Mulder questioned. He had known a lot of people in a lot of different relationships but none of them have ever been described as 'perfect'.
"YES! Perfect! We were looking at houses. I was - I am planning on retiring. We were going over several prospects that the Real Estate lady sent us. We've looked at a few and have several more to look at."
"No arguments? No disagreements - nothing at all that he might have been angry about?"
"There's always the possibility he was taken. Did you consider that?"
"No, he wasn't taken. All his clothes are gone. If someone was going to take him, they wouldn't have taken the time to pack up all his clothes."
Mulder looked back out the window at the afternoon traffic rushing by. "And I take it there was no note or anything?"
"Nothing. He was just gone." Skinner took the off ramp leading to Crystal City and his condo.
"Who's idea was the house thing? Maybe he saw it as a commitment that he wasn't ready to make?"
"I don't know. I think I mentioned it first. We were talking about me retiring. He was all for that. We talked about it often. We talked about how nice it would be to get out of DC and into the countryside some where. I don't know who actually mentioned a house first but he was all for it. He loved every place we looked at. He was as anxious to get out of the city as I was. It's not like it would have been a financial commitment he'd have to make. I was planning on buying a place outright."
"It would still have been a commitment."
Skinner pulled into his parking space in the underground garage beneath Viva Towers.
He switched off the key and turned in his seat.
"Mulder, I'm telling you, he was as excited and anxious about getting a place as I was. That couldn't have been it."
They got out of the car and stood in front of the elevator.
"Did you go through his room? Did you find anything? Anything at all?
"Yes, I went through his room and no he didn't leave anything - nothing at all."
"You checked the waste baskets?"
"I did." Skinner said as they rode up the seventeen flights to his level and got out.
"You have a problem with me taking a look around the place?"
"No, none. Whatever it takes. I just need to find him." Skinner unlocked his door and they went inside. He went straight to his desk and checked his email.
"Nothing?" Mulder asked as he saw the disappointed look on Skinner's face.
"Nothing! I've sent several messages out but I have no idea if he's even seen any of them."
"His room up here?" Mulder pointed to the stairs.
"Yes. On the left." He followed Mulder up and stood and watched as Mulder checked the room out. There was nothing. Not a scrap of paper, nothing. He even went into the bathroom and checked it out. The place was spotless.
Mulder wandered out into the hall and stopped. He looked around at Skinner.
"Go ahead. Check out my room." He gestured towards his bedroom door. The place was neat as a pin - everything in its place. His bathroom was the same.
"And there weren't any problems..." Mulder asked as he glanced at the king-sized bed. "...of any kind?"
"NO!" Skinner ran a hand over his bald head. "We were completely... compatible."
"Something must have happened then - something minor maybe that seemed like nothing at the time. Think!"
"Don't you think I've BEEN thinking? There was nothing! Nothing at all. Yesterday morning everything was perfect." Skinner led the way and they went back down stairs and they took seats in the living room.
"I need to know everything that happened yesterday. From the time you got up in the morning until you left for work. I need every word that was said between the two of you."
"Sir, I know this isn't easy for you but you asked for my help. I can't help unless I know everything that happened when the two of you were last together."
"All right. All right." Skinner stood up and started to pace. "It's not like you don't already know that he and I have been sleeping together."
Mulder inwardly winced at the words. He had suspected it but to actually hear Skinner admit it made him a little sick to his stomach. He had nothing against such relationships. He had dabbled a bit on that side himself but to hear Skinner actually admit he was sleeping with Krycek was something else again.
"Start from when you woke up. Did you go into his room or did he come to yours?"
Skinner couldn't face him so he stood gazing out the balcony window. "Neither. He was in my bed - like always."
Mulder's eyebrows went up at that and he was glad that Skinner didn't see his shock.
"I woke up first. I usually do. Then I woke him up... like I usually do... like he likes."
Skinner was stumbling over his words. "Then we took a shower... I got ready for work and left. That's about it."
"Words. What did you say to each other? Was there anything he wanted to talk about that you didn't have time for? Anything at all that might have hurt his feelings? Any possibility that maybe you were... too rough with him?"
"Mulder, I'm not about to give you a blow by blow description of my sex life. The sex we shared was very good, very satisfying for both of us. If either of us had had a problem with it, we would have discussed it. We didn't. We made small talk like always. He did want me to take the day off so we could go look at a couple of houses. I explained to him that I couldn't that I had meetings for the next couple days. He wasn't mad or upset. He understood. We didn't fight about it - we just discussed it.
"You sure he wasn't angry?"
"Positive! Why would he be? He understood my work and he knew that I'd take the time off whenever I could. It was only a few days until the weekend."
"And you're sure he wasn't upset?"
Mulder began to pace as well. He wandered around the room and came to stop at the desk. He picked up some print-outs showing properties.
"We went over those papers several times trying to pick out the best place. He loved them all. Those on the left, we'd already gone and checked out. Those in your hand, we were going to check out as soon as I could get the time off." Skinner said as he walked up behind him.
"What about the work he'd been doing? Didn't you say he was doing something on the Internet?"
"Yes. He was doing some site building for people. He enjoyed it and it brought in some money."
"Did he have a problem with money?"
"No. Not really. I tried to give him some, back in the beginning but he wouldn't take it. He said he would earn his own. At first he used my computer and in a matter of weeks, he'd made enough to buy himself a laptop. From then on, he was bringing in enough on his own to do whatever shopping he wanted to."
"The two of you never argued over money?"
"No. We never argued over anything." Skinner insisted.
"So you're convinced of two things. One, that he had no reason to leave; and two, that he left of his own free will?"
"That's about it, I'm afraid. I can't think of a single thing... unless..."
"Unless what?" Mulder prodded.
"Unless maybe he got his memory back. You think that's a possibility?"
"Did he act like he was remembering anything?"
"No. Not at all. In fact, he hadn't even mentioned it lately."
"But he did before? Did it bother him?"
"A little. In the beginning he would always try to get me to talk about the past - tell him what I knew of those lost eight years. But I only spoke about it in general terms. I never went into anything specific."
"If he did get his memory back, that might explain why he left." Mulder mused.
"But all that was in the past, Mulder."
"The past for you but if he just suddenly remembered it all - all the things that he did - to you particularly - he might have felt he didn't deserve this new life the two of you were planning."
"But that's nonsense!" Skinner protested.
"To you, maybe - but maybe not to him. Was there any sign at all that he might be remembering?"
"No, none. Nothing at all." Skinner insisted. Then after a few minutes that passed in silence between him, he muttered, "Shit."
"What? Did you remember something?"
"Is it possible... no it couldn't be."
"What?" Mulder insisted.
"Is it really possible for someone to get back their memory after a bump on the head?"
"He bumped his head?"
"Yeah, the night before last. Raised a big goose egg."
"How? What happened?"
"We were fooling around - kind of chasing each other and he stumbled - tripped over something - banged his head pretty hard against the desk."
"Did you take him in? Get it x-rayed?"
"No, no. He didn't pass out or anything. But it doesn't really happen like that; does it? I mean can a person with amnesia really get his memory back with just a bump on the head? Doesn't that just happen in movies?"
"I don't know." Mulder pulled out his cell phone and punched in Scully's number.
"Scully? It's me. I got a question for you. You see it in movies all the time - if a person has amnesia and takes a bump to the head, is it possible his memory could come back?"
Scully explained to him that it would all depend on what caused the amnesia to begin with and that the brain was a delicate organ that was impossible to say what could cause amnesia and what could cure it.
"We don't know what caused the amnesia but it's selective. It started at a certain precise date and covered several years." He listened to Scully talk for a time and then said, "Yes, we're talking about Krycek here. He's disappeared. And he did take a fall and bumped his head. We're wondering if it's a possibility that it might have brought his memory back." He listened a while longer then thanked her and put his phone away.
"She says anything is possible where the brain is concerned but she thinks it's highly unlikely."
"In most cases, I'd agree, but when you factor in the Black Oil being present, that changes the odds a bit."
"Okay. Let's go on the possibility that he got his memory back. Why then would he leave?"
"Hell, I don't know." Skinner paced the room, "Maybe to find Cancer Man."
"To what purpose? Work for him again? Or kill him?"
"He wouldn't work for him willingly. Maybe he blames him for sending the Black Oil after him; maybe he blames him for the loss of his arm. I don't' know. But we have to find him before he finds Spender and gets himself right back into trouble again."
"And just how do we find Spender?" Mulder asked.
"I have a number. It's old. I used it years ago. But..."
"But what?" Mulder asked.
"If we assume that Alex' amnesia was somehow caused intentionally, then we have to assume that Spender is the one who did it. He may not be of any help even if we can locate him."
"What other options do we have at t his point?" Mulder asked.
"None." Skinner answered and sat down at his desk and opened his computer.
Skinner pulled the ski mask down over his face as they entered the building. It was deadly quiet but their rubber soled shoes didn't make a sound. They made their way towards the small room their informer insured them was there. Just past a large stack of crates he saw it - a guard pacing back and forth in front of a door.
"We need a diversion." He whispered.
"I can take care of that." Mulder answered quietly.
"Something quiet. We just want to get the guards attention - not anyone inside."
"Got it." Mulder crept away a few yards and made just the slightest sound - like a muffled sneeze.
The guard stopped his pacing and looked over in Mulder's direction. He listened a few moments, looked around then walked over into the rows stacked high with crates.
Mulder made the sound again and the guy walked towards him, gun drawn. Skinner slipped up behind him and knocked him out with the butt of his gun. He picked the guard's gun up off the floor and shoved it in the back of his jeans.
"We need to tie him up?" Mulder asked.
"No. I got him pretty good. He'll be out for a while. We need to get into that room and get out of here before he wakes up."
Mulder took his pick out of his wallet and sprung the lock on the door. Skinner stepped in front of him and eased the door open a crack. They could hear voices. The room was dark so they entered quietly and closed the door behind them.
"NO! PLEASE! NO MORE!" They could hear Alex's voice pleading.
"You're becoming a problem, Alex. And I always take care of my problems." The slimy voice of C.G.B. Spender could be heard. "Don't worry. You won't feel or remember a thing this time - your memory will be wiped clean - and this time for good. You might even be able to get Mr. Skinner to take you back into his bed again."
"Please don't do this! I'll do anything you ask! Please!"
Skinner and Mulder crept close enough to see that there was a table and Alex was strapped down to it, and a doctor was leaning over him with a large needle. There was medical equipment all around. It was obvious the place was being used for some un-authorized procedures.
"Proceed." Spender said with a wave of the hand towards the doctor.
The next thirty seconds passed in a flash - Alex screamed, "NO!"
Walter called out, "Hold it right there!" The doctor pulled a gun and Skinner fired, taking him down - dead before he hit the floor. Mulder trained his gun on Spender while Skinner took his knife out and cut at the straps holding Alex down. Mulder looked away for a second and Spender pulled a gun from his pocket and aimed at Skinner. In an instant, Spender fired, Mulder's gun rang out, Alex grabbed the gun from Skinner's waist band and fired and Skinner, seeing the movement out of the corner of his eye, threw the knife.
Mulder got Spender in the middle of his chest, Alex got him in the temple and Walter's knife was lodged up to the hilt in his throat. He stood with a look of shock on his face for a moment then sank to the floor.
"Let's get out of here!" Skinner loosened the rest of the straps that held Alex's feet and they fled. Mulder was the last to exit the building - the smell of smoke trailing along with him.
"What did you do?" Skinner asked as they made for their car.
"Just a little insurance." Mulder said as inside the building the fire began to blaze.
They climbed into Skinner's car, Alex jumping in the back seat and Mulder took shotgun.
In moments they were out of the warehouse district and into a busier section of town.
At a stoplight, Alex jumped from the car and started walking. Skinner put the car in park and got out after him. He caught up to him on the corner.
"Hold it." He grabbed Alex by the arm. "Look, I just killed two, possibly three, men for you tonight. The least you could do in return is show me the courtesy of an explanation."
Alex stared at him for a moment then walked back with him to the car and got in. Skinner drove to his condo where Mulder got out and into his own car and left.
"We can say what has to be said right here." Alex said as he got out of the car.
"No. This is not a conversation to have in a parking lot. Up stairs." He nodded towards the elevator.
Alex followed him reluctantly into the elevator. The ride up was silent and not a word was said until they were inside the condo with the door locked.
"I want some answers." Skinner insisted.
"You saved my life tonight and I'm grateful. I need to go." Alex edged towards the door.
"You're not leaving here until you tell me why you left." Skinner stood with his back to the door.
"Shit! It can't be that hard for you to figure out; is it? I got my memory back! That's it. Now can I go, please?"
"So that's it? You got your memory back and to hell with all our plans?"
"Everything has changed now. I know who and what I am. All plans are off."
"What do you mean why? I told you, I've got my memory back. I know everything now."
"Why does that have to change anything?"
"It just does."
"So you're telling me that you're madly in love with me one day and the next it's all off because you remembered your past? How does that change your feelings?"
"You and I both know the truth now. There's no way the two of us could..."
"Could what? Be happy together? Like we've been for the last eight months? Why not?"
"Because I'm not that same dopey guy you fell for. I'm... me now... someone you hate."
"Jesus Christ, Alex! What do you need, a Valentine card with 'I love you' written on it?"
"Everything is different now."
"How is it different? I've always knows who and what you were. Just because you learn a few things about your past can't possibly change the way you felt about me - not over night."
"Well it does."
"So that's it? You're just going to walk out that door like nothing ever happened between us?"
"That's about it." Alex put his head down and walked to the door.
"Go ahead then. I won't try and stop you." Skinner yanked the door open. Alex stepped towards the doorway and Skinner added. "Just one more question." Alex stopped just inches away from him.
"Can you tell me you don't miss me - you don't miss curling up in my arms and sleeping with your head against my shoulder - you don't miss waking up with me or showering with me or messing around in the kitchen with me?"
"That's not fair!" Alex said.
"Fair! What's fair about us planning a life together and you walking out on me? Huh? Tell me what's fair about that?"
Alex looked at the floor. "The last thing that you need is to get hooked up with someone like me." He mumbled.
"Alex, I love you! And you love me. You've told me so a thousand times."
"That wasn't me; that was that... that... kid!"
"Kid? Kid? That was no kid in my bed. That was you. You -- Alex Krycek."
"I had no business being there!"
"Why not? Did I force you? Did you seduce me? Or did we just happen to fall in love?"
Walter stepped closer and rested his hands on Alex's shoulder. "Just tell me you don't love me and I'll step aside. I'll never bother you again. Can you do that?"
Alex reached out a hand, caught the door and slammed it shut. In one quick movement, he was in Walter's arms and he could not control the tears.
"I have no right to this, Walter. You should throw me out of here right now!"
"I love you, Alex." Walter said over and over again as he rained small kissed on Alex's face. "You and I belong together and I don't give a damn what anybody else thinks and neither do you!"
"Damn you, Walter! You cannot possibly be this perfect!" Alex snuggled closer into Walter's arms.
"Perfect! Me?" Walter laughed out loud. "Alex, I'm fourteen years older than you are, I'm bald, my eye sight is failing and my joints ache. I'm far from perfect."
"You're perfect as far as I'm concerned." Alex kissed the shoulder his head was resting on.
"If you're willing to accept me and all my flaws as perfect then I can't see where I can do any less. I happen to think we're perfect for each other."
"In other words, no one else would put up with either of us?" Alex grinned up at him.
"That's about it." Walter said and kissed him possessively. "You're mine, Alex, just as I'm your's - 'for better or for worse' as the saying goes."
"I've never said those words to any one before."
"I have. It didn't take. This time, it will." Walter held him tight and kissed him again.
"You just might be right."
"I am." Walter assured him as they headed up the stairs.
"You always have to have the last word?"
"I do. I'm older. I need to feel like I'm in charge of something - even if it's only a conversation"
"All right, all right." Alex chuckled.
"All right, all right." Walter echoed as the bedroom door closed behind them.