Sand, Surf and Sex

by Donna McIntosh


Pairing: Walter Skinner/Alex Krycek

 

Walter Skinner stood and waited for his rental car to be brought around. He blinked in the afternoon sun of Cabo San Lucas. He couldn't believe the difference in temperature from D.C. to where he was now about to start his week long vacation. D.C. had been its usual cold and wintry self for January and he was glad to be in the warmth of Mexico. He could almost feel the sand beneath his feet as he stood and waited.

A group of four young men in tank tops and cut-offs walked past him and smiled. Yes; he was going to enjoy himself for a change. No phone calls, no meetings, no reports — nothing vaguely resembling work was going to be done for a full week. Just sun shine, the beach, food that was bad for him, and hopefully someone to share it all with.

The convertible arrived, he tipped the driver, took the keys and got in. The drive to his hotel took about thirty minutes and he made it slowly, enjoying every deep breath of fresh warm air; the sun shining on his bald head and the tropical sights, sounds and smells that assailed him in all directions. He pulled into the parking lot of the hotel and went inside to check in.

His groin twitched as he saw the young man in the blue Speedo across the lobby but he had his arms full of a pretty little brunette so he was definitely not on the menu. Upstairs in his room, Walter unpacked, checked the room out and stood looking down from the balcony to the beach below. He could feel the Mexican sunshine melting away the frigid D.C. Temperatures from his bones. So much going on! He could hardly wait to become part of it.

He ditched his suit and tie, pulled his old cut-off jeans on and went out bare chested and bare footed.

He felt incredibly decadent as he stood in the small shop and purchased some sun tan lotion. The young man behind the counter smiled at him and reminded him to be sure and use some on his head so he didn't burn.

Walter smiled and thanked him. The next shop he bought a straw sun hat and sun glasses and headed for the beach. He picked up one of the beach chairs that the hotel had sitting around and walked until he found a relatively secluded spot. He sat down, lathered himself up with the sun screen, propped the hat on and leaned back and relaxed with his long legs stretched out in front of him and his hands laced together across his abdomen. Ahhhh this was the life!

He watched a young family with three little kids playing nearby and for the first time in a long time he didn't envy them. He used to feel cheated by life as he had never had children or a home loving wife. But in the last few years he had come to believe that as much as he had wanted the whole wife and family routine as a young man — now at fifty two, he was glad that had never happened for him.

He had definitely changed over the years as had his preferences. He had been extremely sexually active as a young man, bedding both males and females with equal enthusiasm. In his late twenties, his war experiences behind him, his desire for a family took over and he stuck to females for a long time. His marriage produced no children and even before his wife's death the marriage had been one more of friendship than passion.

With the death of his wife, now a few years past, he was free to indulge in whatever caught his fancy. He had had his fill of lonely nights with nothing but a magazine and his good right arm for company and on a whim, booked this trip to Cabo.

The young family finally packed up their kids and left. Walter closed his eyes and just let the warmth soak in. Before long a volley ball game had started up a short distance away. Walter cracked open one eye and watched. Five guys, he'd guess mid 30s, were playing — three on one side and two on the other. He opened both eyes and watched for a while. The game was lively and they were all having a good time when the ball was hit over in his direction and rolled to within a few feet of where he was sitting.

One of the men that he had been paying particular attention to in a tiny yellow Speedo, came running over to retrieve the ball; his long shoulder-length dark hair blowing in the breeze.

"Hi! You wouldn't want to join us; would you? Our side is a man short and these guys are killing us."

Walter stiffened up as he stared into that face. A face he had thought was long dead and buried. Alex Krycek!

"Wh ... What the hell are you doing here?" Walter stuttered then looked at the sun-tanned guy with the finely sculpted body and two good arms. "Krycek?"

"If that's your best opening line, I can see why you're in a place like this alone." The guy grinned at him.

Walter removed his sun glasses and stared at the young man closer. "You can't be him."

"Oh shit! Don't tell me you know my cousin Alex?" He gave an apologetic grin. "My name is Adam. Adam Arntzen. Do you know Alex?"

"Alex Krycek is your cousin?" Walter asked still eying the guy closely.

"I can't tell you how many people I've run into that know him! On the beach here in Cabo is a first though."

Walter stared into the face he had seen so many times before but this time it was smiling and handsome. He had never thought of Krycek as handsome before but he couldn't deny the attraction on this warm sunny beach.

"I'm sorry. You look so much like him." Walter stuttered.

"So I've been told." Adam said as he knelt there beside Walter and brushing the sand from the volley ball. "So how about it? You want to play?"

Walter got to his feet and made his way over to the game. They played for about an hour before the guys started complaining that they were hungry and decided to hit a nearby place for dinner and invited Walter to join them. He readily accepted. The game had been invigorating and he had worked up an appetite for more than food. It didn't take long before he realized the guys were more or less pairing off. After dinner Walter and Adam were the only two left at the table and enjoying the small mariachi

band over coffee and conversation.

"So you know my cousin Alex pretty well?"

"That's right."

"And from your tone of voice, I take it the association wasn't exactly pleasant."

"It was not. What do you know about him? How close are the two of you?"

"I haven't seen him since we were in grade school."

The last thing Walter wanted to be doing on a night like this was talk about Alex Krycek so he changed the subject. "So do you live down here … alone?"

"No. I live in upstate New York. And yes, alone. At least for the last couple of years. I had a partner but he died in a traffic accident. We had been together for eight years. My friends have been trying to fix me up but I steer pretty much away from that. I did finally agree to this trip though and I'm glad I did. It's a real treat to get out of the cold weather for a few weeks." Adam said as he leaned back in the booth and stared openly at his companion. "So how is it that you're down here. Are you on a holiday or is this a business trip?"

"Definitely a holiday — like you — a chance to get out of the cold weather for a while." Walter smiled back at him. He was definitely enjoying himself.

A cool ocean breeze blew in and they both shivered.

"The evenings cool down here quite a lot. We should probably go." Adam said and they both stood up.

"Yes, it is cooler but I'm not ready for the evening to end just yet. I need to grab a quick shower. Could we meet up in about an hour and go somewhere for a drink?" Walter asked.

"I'd like that." Adam answered as they walked out into the evening air. "I know a great little place not far from here. Not too fancy. The music is good and the mood is mellow."

"Sounds great. I rented a car. How about we meet in the hotel parking lot in an hour." Walter offered.

"I'll be there." Adam said and headed off for his hotel which was the next one over from Walter's hotel.

* * * * *


Walter took a hot shower, shaved and brushed his teeth. He took a long time trying to decide what to wear. He hadn't brought along all that many clothes so he ended up with jeans and a white Mexican shirt which he left unbuttoned half way down and sandals. That's one of the things he liked most about Cabo. You can go anywhere in jeans and sandals and you were considered dressed properly.

Adam was waiting in the parking lot when he got there. "Hey you're early!" He greeted Walter.

"You too." Walter grinned but was taken aback again by the similarity between Adam and Krycek.

Adam had chosen to wear black jeans and a dark green knit shirt that seemed to be the exact same shade of green as his eyes.

"What is it?" Adam asked as they got into Walter's car. "Do I remind you of Alex that much?"

"It's nothing. Which way is that bar you were telling me about?"

"Turn left here. Follow the beach road about two miles down. It's called Dos Amigos. It'll be on the left." Adam said then added, "For what it's worth — whatever he did to you — I'm sorry. I wish I could change it."

"You have nothing to apologize for. Let's not think about Krycek. Let's just relax and have a good time." Walter smiled at him and his heart skipped a beat as he saw the sad look on Adam's face in the darkness. "Did you and your partner used to come here?" He asked as he pulled into the parking lot.

"No. We only came to Cabo once and it rained the entire time we were here. We hardly left the hotel room."

"Well, that can be nice too." Walter said as they walked through the door.

Dos Amigos was a nice little place at the end of the beach before the road turned and headed up towards the residential area. It was dim and noisy inside. The front was more a restaurant where delicious meals were being served up. It opened out onto a patio where small candle-lit tables were scattered around a deck where a combo was set up on one end and playing some smoother jazz tunes.

Adam led them out to the patio and they seated themselves off to one side.

"This is beautiful." Walter said as he looked out over the ocean sparkling in the moonlight.

"My friends brought me here the other night. It's where Bob and Danny got engaged." Adam said as he too looked out over the water.

The waiter stopped by and they both ordered Margaritas.

"No kidding? They're going to get married?"

"Uh huh. It's legal now where they live. They've been together now five years and a person would have to be blind not to see how crazy they are about each other."

Their drinks were brought to them and they sipped them quietly as they listened to the music. A few couples were dancing. A third couple got up and joined them. This couple was two men and soon others were dancing as well.

"Would you like to dance?" Adam asked as he noticed Walter watching the dancers.

"I would if you'd let me lead." He smiled.

Adam stood and reached out a hand. "Not a problem." He smiled.

The two of them set out on the dance floor and Walter was pleased at how well Adam fit into his arms. They danced together smoothly enjoying the closeness. When the dance ended they made their way back to their table, both of them saddened by the band getting up and leaving for their break. They would have liked to have several more dances but the evening was wearing on.

"We can leave and maybe find another place." Adam said as they sat down. "Or we could maybe take a walk on the beach and wait for them to get back from their break?"

Walter finished off his drink and with a grin said, "Let's walk."

Adam finished his drink off as well and they walked out past the patio, onto the beach and down to within a few feet of the surf.

They walked in silence for a time while Walter wrestled with his feelings. He had come down here looking for somebody to have a good time with. Sand, surf, and sex. That's what this vacation was supposed to be all about. He never expected to meet someone like Adam. Someone he could actually fall for. And never in a million years did he expect that someone would be a dead ringer for that bastard Alex Krycek!

"You're thinking about him again; aren't you." Adam said as they walked.

"No. Yes; kind of. In an abstract way." Walter answered as truthfully as he could.

"Ha ha ha," Adam laughed. "Nothing like a definite answer."

"I'm sorry. I'd be more specific if I could but it's kind of … vague."

"I shouldn't push you. You're certainly free to think about anyone you want to."

"I don't want to think about him. I'd rather think about you, here, tonight."

Adam slipped his hand into Walter's and laced their fingers together. "I'd like that."

Walter was filling up with feelings that were new to him. Such a tenderness washed over him it nearly took his breath away. The feel of this hand in his brought feelings he couldn't even describe; let alone analyze. He was falling for Adam and falling hard.

They walked in silence for another ten minutes before Adam stopped them. "The band is probably back by now if you want to go back." He said as they stood there in the moonlight.

Walter brought the hand he was holding up and pressed it against his cheek. "Okay." He whispered as the two of them stood close together staring into one another's eyes. Neither of them moved until they heard some noise further up the beach. A bunch of teenagers had run out into the surf and were screaming and laughing.

The moment passed but both of them were aware that something special had passed between them. The headed back towards Dos Amigos. The band had started up again and were playing something soft and slow. The two of them melted together on the dance floor among the other dancers. This time Walter held him closer; this time Adam rested his cheek against Walter's shoulder.

Walter was flooded with emotions. He wanted desperately to take Adam up to his room and make passionate love to him but he didn't want him to think that this evening was all about sex. He wanted to share everything he was feeling but he was afraid it was too soon. It was too soon. He knew that but he couldn't deny the feelings either. He didn't want to. They were all too wonderful; too exciting. He didn't want to let Adam out of his arms — ever.

He pressed a kiss against Adam's temple and whispered, "I know this is going to sound like a line but ..."

"Yes!" Adam's head popped up.

"Yes what?" Walter grinned. "Yes, it sounds like a line? I didn't even get it out yet."

"No; I mean … yes to whatever you were going to say." Adam said quickly.

"Yes, it's been a great afternoon; yes, it's been a great evening; yes, the food was great; the drinks were great; or yes, you'd like to come up to my room with me?" Walter grinned.

"Yes to all of the above!" Adam answered eagerly.

They made the five minute drive in silence. Neither of them willing to risk spoiling the mood with conversation. The elevator ride up to the tenth floor was silent as well as there were other people in the car with them. Room 1013 was at the end of the hall and Adam gave a little start when he saw the number.

"What is it?" Walter asked as he noticed Adam stiffening up beside him.

"Nothing. Just … something about that number." Adam said as they walked into Walter's suite.

"You've been in this room before?"

"No. No; nothing like that. I've never been in this hotel before. I don't know what it is. Maybe something from when I was a kid. I don't know. I just saw that number and it gave me a chill for some reason."

"Would you like a drink? I've got some scotch or we could call down and order something."

"No. Thanks. I'm not much of a drinker and I've already had enough."

Walter tossed the keys on the dresser and walked over to him. He cupped Adam's face in both his hands and asked, "Are you sure you want to be here right now? We can call it a night if you'd rather and pick up where we left off tomorrow."

Adam gave him a grateful smile, turned his head and kissed the palm of Walter's hand. "I'm right where I want to be."

Walter gave him a very sweet gentle kiss on the lips that, in an instant, blazed with unexpected ferocity.

Walter's shirt was peeled back off his shoulders and disposed of. His jeans were unsnapped, unzipped and shoved down. Warm hands were sliding beneath his cotton briefs. He must have been doing the same to Adam as he was nearly nude in front of him. He was less aware of what he was doing than of what was being done to him.

Soon they were standing face to face, clothes scattered around and they kissed again. The next instant they were in bed side by side. First one on top and then the other. Long, deep delicious kisses were accompanied by soft sweet caresses as hands roved over each other's bodies.

They had met less than twenty four hours ago and yet they came together not as sex partners but as lovers. Each one determined to give the other the most pleasure possible.

It was dawn before Walter closed his eyes and sleep overtook him as he lay with Adam held closely in his arms. And another six hours before he opened them again to find the room empty. Adam was gone.

"Adam!" Walter jumped up and called out; hoping that Adam was simply in the bathroom or somewhere out of sight. There was no answer.

He made his way to the bathroom, relieved himself and came back out into the room. He noticed a piece of paper on the dresser and picked it up. It was hotel stationery and there was a phone number written down and the words. "Thank you for the most incredible night in my life!"

Walter grinned and grabbed for the phone. He punched in the numbers and waited. It was answered on the first ring.

"Yes?"

The familiar voice did familiar things to his insides and he grinned with pleasure.

"Yes, to what? You'll have breakfast with me? You'll spend the day with me? You'll come back to my room with me?"

"Yes! Everything in that order and anything else you might have in mind." Adam answered with a rush.

"Okay, breakfast first. Good, I'm starving. Then maybe a drive along the beach, maybe a walk or a swim. Does any of that appeal to you?"

"Absolutely! Every single thing. I'm going to need at least thirty minutes though."

"Me too!" Walter agreed. "Where can I meet you?"

"This hotel coffee shop has a great breakfast and they serve it 24/7."

"Sounds great! Meet you there in thirty minutes then."

"I'll be there!"

Twenty minutes later they walked into the coffee shop; one after the other. They took a table, ordered a large breakfast and sat with their coffee and waited.

"What are you staring at?" Walter asked after the waiter left.

"You. What are you staring at?"

"I haven't been able to take my eyes off of you since I first saw you playing volley ball with your friends. Where are they anyway?"

"I left them a note. Told them I didn't need any more of their coddling." Adam grinned.

"We could find them if you want. Maybe play a little more volley ball." Walter offered.

"No; but thanks for offering. I like the plans we already have for the drive, the walk and the swim."

"Okay. I like that idea better myself."

They both smiled as their breakfasts were placed in front of them. Platters full of eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, pancakes, fruit and toast filled the table top along with tall glasses of orange juice and a carafe of coffee.

"Oh my God!" Walter exclaimed as he took it all in. "They expect us to eat all of this?"

"Eat up!" Adam said with a grin as he bit into a piece of bacon. "I have a feeling we're going to need the energy."

"I have never eaten that much in my life!" Walter complained later as they were leaving the coffee shop.

"Me either. We must have needed it." Adam smiled at him as they climbed into Walter's convertible and took off.

"Where do you want to go?"

"We know that the beach road turns and goes residential off to the east side. Let's see where it goes off to the west." Adam suggested.

They drove for about an hour when Walter pulled the car over and parked. The view overlooking the water was magnificent and filled their vision as they made their way down the embankment towards the water's edge. They walked for some time before coming to a small deserted cove. An old log that had long ago washed up and dried out in the sun attracted them and they sat for a while.

Walter took Adam's hand in both of his and held it tenderly.

"What are you thinking?" Adam asked.

"That I never was much of a hand-holder before and since yesterday, I've found that I like it a lot."

"I'm glad." Adam said and gave Walter's hand a squeeze.

"I just … have to tell you. I know it's way too soon to think that anything serious can be happening here but I wanted you to know that I agree with you about last night. It was absolutely without a doubt, the best night of my life."

Adam smiled at him happily. "I'm glad. I was afraid you might think that note was a little silly. I almost didn't write it."

"I'm glad you did. It was … wonderful to wake up to. Of course, waking up and finding you in my bed would have been better."

"I know. I wanted to stay but I didn't know if you'd want me to or not." Adam admitted.

"Oh, I want you to! I want to spend every minute together that we can before we have to leave."

"I'm scheduled to leave tomorrow." Adam said.

"Can't you stay a few extra days? I've got until Friday. You can stay in my room." Walter offered.

"I'll stay. I'll stay on one condition." Adam promised.

"Name it!"

"Promise me that tonight is going to be the same as last night."

"Tonight will be the same as last night or maybe even better." Walter promised.

"I don't know if I could live through better." Adam grinned and put a kiss on Walter's shoulder.

They decided that a swim was in order so they stripped their clothes off and headed for the water.

They swam for a while until they came to a secluded area where the water curved back among some rocks. They climbed up on the rocks, stretched out in the sun and rested. Once revived, the little touches and caresses began. Walter moved a piece of Adam's hair that had fallen across his cheek and kissed the spot he had uncovered. Adam brushed water droplets off Walter's shoulder and caressed it.

A long sweet make-out session was followed by a swim back to where their clothes were. Then a nice walk back to the car.

Everyone else was preparing for a big dinner but the two of them wanted something light so they hit a little taco stand near the hotel and snacked there. They pulled a couple of beach chairs down towards the water and sat and rested with their bare feet in the sand and surf while they talked.

They told each other their life stories. Walter told about growing up on a farm in Iowa, joining the Marines and about his experiences in Viet Nam. Then about his recovery from his injuries and his decision to study law and eventually his decision to join the Bureau. He told him about his barren marriage and the loss of his wife and how he had immersed himself in his work ever since.

Adam told of his childhood, growing up in Springfield, Ohio, his parents passing away a year apart when he was in college. One from cancer and the other from heart failure. He told about his fascination with computers and how he got into them seriously and became a network specialist. Adam also told him of a near death experience he had had. He had done some work for a chemical company and was accidentally exposed to some chemicals that made him deathly ill. He had been in a coma for several months before coming out of it. The experience had left him with memory loss for a time and there were still parts of his memory that were hazy and vague.

That night they put everything they had into making it as good as the night before and they succeeded. They went back to Adam's hotel only long enough to pack up his things and move him over to Walter's room. Adam told his friends good bye and that he'd see them later; back home.

The next few days were filled with sand and sunshine and laughter; the nights were saved for romance. They danced under the stars at Dos Amigos and on their balcony in the moonlight and afterwards as much sex as either of them could stand — all night long. They slept for most of the morning then started the routine all over again.

Way, way too soon they found themselves at the airport. It was a somber flight. They were together as far as D.C. Then Adam flew on to New York alone.

CHAPTER TWO

Walter showed up at work Monday morning, bundled up against the freezing weather like everyone else, but shocked them all with his nice tan that he had achieved with all the time spent in the sun. There were many comments on it but he shrugged them off.

"Wow! That's quite a tan!" Mulder exclaimed when he greeted him in the afternoon. "You must have spent the entire week on the beach!"

"Just about." Walter said after accepting Mulder's report and glancing briefly through it.

"So you had a good time then?" Mulder questioned as he slouched in the chair in front of Walter's desk.

"I did."

"That's it? You're not going to give with any details?"

"No. I went down there to rest and relax and that's exactly what I did." Walter sighed.

"You met someone!" Mulder said after studying him.

"Mulder, there were a lot of people down there, I met some of them, I had a good time. Period."

"Nah; you met someone special. I can tell by your expression when you said you had a good time. You had more than a good time. You had a great time! Admit it!"

"Mulder, if you're so good at reading expressions; what is my expression telling you now?" Walter glared at him.

"To mind my own business and get back to work." He stood and walked to the door.

"I guess you can read expressions." Walter said as he turned back to the report to read it more thoroughly.

"I can and I know I'm right. You met someone!" Mulder grinned. "I've got to call Scully." He said and disappeared out the door.

"Shit!" Walter said but couldn't be angry. He was too happy to be angry. He figured he could keep it from most everyone else at work but knew he'd never be able to keep it from Mulder. That man was the most perceptive person he had ever known.

Walter pulled out a photo of the two of them that they had taken at one of the clubs in Cabo. He hardly recognized himself in the photo. They were both smiling and obviously enjoying themselves immensely. They had been dancing and still had their arms around each other when the photo had been snapped. It had been presented to them some time later in the evening and he had been so happy with it that he tipped the guy fifty dollars.

He stared at the image of Adam and again was stunned by his similarity to Krycek. It was hard for him to believe that these two could be blood related; they were so different. The face and the build were the same but when that face was smiling — you could see there was nothing at all alike about them. He couldn't remember ever seeing Krycek smile. Sneer, yes; but not a real smile. He wondered where Krycek was and if he was still alive. He hadn't heard anything about him in months.

Surprise, surprise; Scully called late in the afternoon and invited him over for dinner. She was cooking lasagna and she wanted to hear all about his vacation. He shocked both of them when he agreed.

He showed up with a bunch of flowers for Scully and a bottle of wine for Mulder. They invited him in and he enjoyed watching them dance around trying to ask probing questions about his trip. He went on and on all through dinner about the hotel, the food, the views, the sand and the surf. He mentioned swimming and volley ball and walking and dancing and drinking. He even went into great detail about the convertible he had rented.

After dinner and the last of the wine, Scully pinned him with a direct question. "So who did you meet? Who did you spend all this time with?"

Mulder chimed in with a question of his own, "How serious is this and are you going to see her again?"

Walter gave them a smile and said he really needed to be leaving. Scully stood in front of the door with her arms crossed. "Not until you answer our questions!" She glared up at him.

"All right, I'll answer your questions but you might not like the answers. First, and most important of all, it wasn't a 'she' I met but a 'he'. Yes, I plan on seeing him again and yes it's serious. Now if you'll excuse me; I really need to be getting home." He grinned as he watched both their jaws drop. "Thank you for inviting me, Scully. The food was delicious and the company was … entertaining." He gave them a smile and left.

"Did he just say …" Scully asked; stunned.

"He's gay?!" Mulder didn't know if it was a question, a statement, or an answer. They were both speechless.

* * * * *


Walter arrived at the airport in Scranton, PA at 8:30pm Friday evening. Adam was there to meet him. They took a taxi to the hotel nearest to the airport where Adam had already gotten them a room for the weekend. Their celebration started the minute the door closed behind them and it didn't stop until Sunday night when it was time for them to leave for the airport.

"Darn; I was hoping we'd get snowed in." Adam said as they arrived for their flights home in opposite directions.

"Yeah, it was over way too soon." Walter said and gave Adam's arm a squeeze as they sat side by side and waited for boarding to be called.

"I had something that I wanted to talk with you about but we never got around to it." Adam said.

"You could call me. Or email me." Walter said as more and more people were moving in to sit down near them.

"Yes, that's a good idea. I'd be able to explain a bit more in detail. That way I won't be distracted." he grinned. "Damn; that's my flight!"

"Here," Walter said and gave him a business card. He quickly scribbled his private email address on the back and gave it to him.

They exchanged a brief hug and Adam hurried on to catch his flight. Walter had another hour to sit and wait before it was time for his plane. He wondered what Adam wanted to talk to him about. He grinned as he thought about the weekend. They certainly hadn't done much talking. He licked his lips and thought they felt a little swollen. He sighed deeply and grinned to himself. Walter Skinner was one happy man!

Later after arriving home and fixing himself a drink, he opened his computer to find a message there from Adam.

"Hi. I sure enjoyed the weekend. I wanted to tell you that first. That's most important.

The thing I wanted to talk with you about was that I did some digging and found out some information about my cousin. I won't mention names because I'm not sure how secure this exchange is.

Quite frankly, I was shocked by what I found out. I saw some photographs and I can see what you mean. The only thing different is the hair. Mine's a lot longer. I studied his face for a long time and there is one thing that strikes me above all else. He looks so sad; miserable even. I've been trying to contact an aunt of mine to see if she has any information on him but haven't heard back from her yet. Do you know anything about his personal life? What made him the way he is?

A"

Walter read the note twice. He wished he'd never mentioned Krycek to Adam. He hated the thought that Adam was related to him and it worried him that he was digging around in Krycek's life. That could be dangerous. He took a sip of his drink then started a note back to Adam.

"Hi yourself. Yes, the weekend was wonderful! Just too darned short.

About the other thing. You need to be very careful with your digging. Your cousin is in to some dangerous stuff and his associates play for keeps. I'd suggest that you drop it but I don't think you would.

What is it you want to know about him? If it's a matter of public record, I can get it for you.

W"

He hit send and waited.

"If it's a matter of public record, I can get it myself. There's not much I can't do with a computer. It's what I do; remember? What I'd really like to know, and what I don't think I'll find in any records, is what he did to you? What made you hate him so? And why do I get the impression that you'll never tell me?

A"

"You do a lot of things — that I remember! And you do them oh, so well!

W"

Send and wait.

"Why am I not surprised? I didn't think you'd tell me. Would you if I called you? Are you afraid your phone is being monitored?

A"

"This is really not something that you should involve yourself in. Please let it go.

W"

"It's that bad?

A"

Walter waited longer this time to answer. He didn't want there to be any secrets between he and Adam but this was not something he could discuss. Maybe if they were together he could tell him a few things. Maybe just enough to satisfy him and keep him from digging any further.

"Please believe me when I tell you this is extremely dangerous. I am not exaggerating one bit. We can talk about it next weekend if you want but trust me here — it will ruin the weekend.

W"

It took Adam longer to write back this time too.

"I wouldn't want to ruin our weekend. I'll drop it for now.

See you Friday.

A"

"Thank you! I can't tell you how relieved I am. We can go into it a bit if you want but it will have to be face to face. It's not a pretty story.

Can't wait for Friday!

W"

Walter closed his computer and headed for bed. He lay there a long time thinking about Krycek and how he could explain things to Adam in the briefest terms possible.

The next day at work he met Mulder in the hallway as he was coming out of the elevator and stopped him.

"I'm curious about something," he asked Mulder. "Alex Krycek. I haven't seen or heard anything about him for months; have you?"

Mulder shook his head. "No, I haven't. Maybe he's crawled back under a rock somewhere."

"Hmmm. Well if he does surface; let me know." Walter said and was more curious than ever. What was that little son of a bitch up to? It wasn't like him to leave them alone for any length of time.

The next Friday night they sat in their hotel room and talked.

"I got everything the Bureau has on him and you're right; it's not a pretty story." Adam said. "The records give some vague references between the two of you but no specifics. Can you fill me in?"

"I don't want to go into too much detail here but I will give you a brief outline of some of the things he's been involved in. Then I want us to put him out of our minds and concentrate on each other. Deal?" Walter offered.

"Deal." Adam said with a smile. He was no more anxious to spend the weekend talking about his wayward cousin than Walter was.

"Okay. You know that he was with the Bureau for a few years. Some how, and I don't know exactly how, he got involved with an organization called The Consortium. They were involved in the worst kinds of things from murder, kidnapping, torture, treason, the worst of the worst. The extent of his participation in any of these events; I don't know.

I do know that he was involved in the kidnapping of one of my agents. We got her back but she almost died. It was a very close call. He was also involved in the theft of a disc that contained classified information. He and some of his thugs took it from me and left me bleeding and unconscious in a hospital stairway. There was also the theft of some scientific research that he got his hands on and used on me. I was deathly ill and in severe pain for some time due to that little incident."

Adam got up from the table and began to pace and Walter decided to end it right there.

"The kind of people he is mixed up with will stop at nothing to get whatever they want. To say they are extremely dangerous is an understatement. Please, please tell me you'll drop this now." Walter got up from the table and came over to him.

"I'm so, so sorry, Walter!" Adam said and threw his arms around Walter.

Walter held him close. "You have nothing to be sorry for. You have nothing to do with him. Can we put him out of our minds now? I'd really like to get on with our weekend."

Adam turned a tear stained face up to him and said, "If you can forget this … mess for a while than I can too."

Walter wiped away the tears and kissed him. Nothing more was said about Krycek the entire weekend.

Mulder came to the Walter's office on Monday morning. "Hey, got a minute?"

"Only just. I've got a meeting in five." Walter waved him in.

"I did some checking over the weekend. It seems our little Russian Rat has disappeared. No one has seen or heard from him in months." Mulder said.

"Interesting." Walter said.

"What do you think that means? You think he's up to something?" Mulder asked.

"I don't know. It's not like him to be quiet this long." Walter said as he snapped his brief case closed and added. "What about smoking man? When was the last time you saw or heard anything from him?"

"I don't know. It's been a while. You want me to check in to it?" Mulder asked.

"Better not. We don't want to get anything stirred up. Just keep me posted if you hear anything from either of them."

"Will do." Mulder said and left.

Walter gave little thought to either Krycek or Spender for the rest of the week. On the way to the hotel the next Friday night he noticed a definite difference in Adam's attitude and it worried him.

"What is it?" Walter asked as they entered their hotel room and closed and locked the door.

"Nothing really. Just some strange thing that happened." Adam answered.

"Oh God! What is it? Is it Krycek? Did he show up?" Walter couldn't control the cold fear that was building inside him.

"No, no. Nothing like that. It's the aunt I told you about; Aunt Velma. I got a hold of her."

"What did she say? Does she know where he is?"

"No. In fact — she says she doesn't know anything about him. She says I only had one cousin and that was Mary Louise and she died at age nine."

Walter was stumped. He had not expected that. "That is strange. Did she say anything else?"

"Very little. She didn't remember a lot about the family. She's 86 now. She was the oldest in her family of eleven children. My mother and Alex's mother were twins, Alma and Alice, and she did remember them though she was nearly twenty years older than they were. She said she remembered that they were pregnant at the same time but one had a boy and one had a girl. That's about all she remembered."

"Maybe she's confused. With eleven children in the family she probably got her siblings mixed up." Walter reasoned.

"It could be, I suppose. She seemed perfectly sound to me. It just doesn't make any sense."

"Well what exactly do you remember about him? You said you saw him last when you were in grade school?" Walter asked.

"Yeah. I was about eight or nine. I remember we lived in a little duplex in Springfield and Aunt Alma, Uncle Ralph and Alex lived a couple blocks away. We used to ride our bikes to school together. Then something happened. I never did know what it was. I remember they came over for a visit and Aunt Alma and Momma were both crying. I remember I asked Alex what was going on and he said they were moving away and that he was going to have to go to work. That didn't make any sense to me. I mean, he was the same age I was. He was/is only two months older than I am."

"And you never saw him again?"

"No; never. After a while I guess I just put them out of my mind."

"Your mother never said anything more about them?"

"No. I asked her a couple of time but it always made her cry. She'd just shake her head and say they were gone."

"What about when you were older?"

"I don't think I ever asked her after a couple years."

"And over the years you've run into people who knew him?" Walter asked.

"A couple of times. Some guys jumped me about a year ago in New York City. I thought it was just a mugging at first. But they didn't go for my wallet when they finished beating on me. One of them said a few words — something like 'Don't step foot in this neighborhood again, Alex Krycek, or you're a dead man.' Once I heard the name 'Alex' I thought it might be him. But his last name wasn't Krycek back then. It was Spender."

"Spender!" Walter started frantically pacing. "Oh my God! He's Spender's son? C.G.B. Spender?"

"C.G.B.? No. His father's name was Ralph. Ralph Spender. Who's C.G.B. Spender?"

"The head of the Consortium that I told you about." Walter continued his pacing.

"What does all this mean?" Adam asked.

"Krycek must be related to Spender somehow. Maybe Spender's his uncle; I don't know. It would explain a lot though." Then he asked, "And you never tried to find him after that incident?"

"No. I guess I was pissed off for having to take a beating for him and didn't want to waste time tracking down some wayward relative. It just didn't seem important."

"I asked an associate of mine at the Bureau and he said that no one has seen or heard anything about either Krycek or Spender in months."

"Is that good or bad?" Adam asked.

"I don't know. It could mean they are up to something. Adam, please, please promise me you'll stop digging into this. It's way too dangerous." He pulled Adam into his arms and held him tight. "You have no idea how evil these people are. And if you think that being a relative will protect you, you're wrong. Spender gave up his own wife for … some scientific experiments. She's been in and out of institutions and hospitals ever since. And it's rumored that he shot his own son, Jeffery Spender."

Adam gave a horrified look. "And these people are related to me? And Alex? He's like that too?"

Walter tried to soften the blow a bit; "I don't know anything about Alex for a fact except what I told you. I do know there aren't any warrants out on him. We've never been able to pin anything on him. The same with Spender."

"Then it's possible … maybe Alex isn't really that bad?" Adam pleaded.

"I don't know; Adam. There's just no proof, one way or the other."

Their weekend wasn't totally spoiled but there was a real damper on it compared to the previous weekends. They spoke of Alex often that weekend. Adam was often silent for periods of time and then would ask a question about him. "You said he was at the Bureau for a while. Did he do anything good while he was there? Anything at all?"

"I'm sure he did. I don't remember him very well from back then. I wasn't his A.D. when he first started out. He was assigned to me after his A.D. was killed in a bank robbery. He wasn't with me very long before he left."

"And you didn't pay much attention to him?"

"I just remember him seeming very young and inexperienced. The next thing I knew he was gone."

"You didn't go after him; try to find out why he left?"

"Of course we did but we could never find him. Once he left the Bureau, getting in touch with him was impossible."

"Gone off to join this Consortium thing. Why would he do that? Why?"

"I don't know, Adam. I've asked myself that same question for years now. It never did make any sense to me before."

"And now it does?"

"If he's Spender's relative. It's possible Spender had a hand in raising him. If that's true then that might go a long way towards explaining his actions."

"I just don't understand why … why would he do something like that?"

"I don't know, Adam. I just don't know."

It was a long sad weekend.

CHAPTER THREE

It was late summer before Walter could take another week off. They met on Friday evening in Cabo at the same hotel they had stayed at before. After their initial reunion romp they lay in bed together and Adam leaned his head against Walter's shoulder.

"I've got something I need to tell you."

"What? You're pregnant?" Walter grinned at him but Adam didn't laugh at the joke.

"I didn't keep my word. I did some more digging about the Alex thing."

Walter sat up in bed, leaned back against the head board and pulled Adam up next to him. He wanted to lecture him again about the danger but he knew it would do no good. "What did you find out?"

"The records are all messed up. They don't make any sense."

"What records and how are they messed up?" Walter asked.

"I made a trip to Springfield. I went to the court house. I checked into the records to see if there were any relatives listed."

"And they're messed up? How?"

"Alex was two months older than I am. My birthday is in December; his is in October."

"And?"

"I punched Alex's name into the data bank and it came back that he was born in October but it has his parents listed as Alice and Michael Arntzen. They were my parents; not his. And when I looked up my name; there's no listing for me. I thought it might have been accidentally recorded in my Aunt Alma's name so I looked up her name and it said that she gave birth to a girl; just like my Aunt Velma said.

I checked the death records and she did die at age nine. Her birth date is listed as December 12th - the same as mine."

"What the hell! How could they make a mistake like that?" Walter got up out of bed, went to the mini bar and got them each a bottle of water and came back to bed.

"I don't know but I know that I'm not and never have been a girl!" Adam took a long drink of water.

"I can testify to that!" Walter said and gave Adam a hug.

"There's something else I need to tell you too." Adam said

"More discrepancies in the records?"

"No. It's a dream. I've had it four or five times now."

"A dream?" Walter asked.

"Yes. Remember that first hotel room we were in on the tenth floor?"

"Yeah. I remember the number bothered you. Did you remember something about that number?"

"It was in my dream. There was a long dark hallway and that number was on the door at the end. I have one instant of seeing that number and the next second I'm inside that room looking out. I'm locked in and I'm terrified. I remember throwing up and screaming and pounding on the door for them to let me out."

"And you have no idea what would cause a dream like that? Was anything in the dream familiar at all?"

"No; nothing."

"Maybe it was a hospital. Did you have your tonsils out when you were a kid? Or your appendix?"

"No; I've still got them both. What do you think it means?"

"I haven't a clue." Walter admitted. "Do you know what it was that you were afraid of? Was there something or someone else in the room with you?"

"There wasn't anyone else in the room that I remember. And if there was anything else in the room I couldn't see it. It was dark. I was afraid because they were leaving me there. I knew I wasn't ever going to get out."

"Have you ever been accidentally locked in a room somewhere when you were a kid? Maybe shoved into a closet or pantry by some older kid?"

"No! I'd remember something like that." Adam insisted.

"You did say that your memory was sometimes vague about things."

"That's true. Some things are vague but I'd surely remember something like that."

"Any chance that you might have been molested as a kid?"

"No. I had a perfectly normal child hood. Nothing bad ever happened to me — except when Alex moved away. I hated that but I never had any nightmares about it."

"All right. Let's put it to rest for a while. Tomorrow I want you to write down your full name, Alex's full name, both sets of parents names and whatever else you can remember about them. What they all did for a living, birth dates, addresses; anything that you can remember. Also the name of the schools you went to there in Springfield. When I get back to D.C. I'll do some checking and see what I can come up with."

"Oh thank you Walter! I know I'm being a pain about this but it's got me really worried now."

"There's no need to worry. I'll take up the search now and if there's anything out there to find, I'll find it. Let's sleep now. I want to hit that beach bright and early tomorrow morning."

* * * * *


Back in D.C. again on Monday morning, Walter got to work. He rescheduled his meetings so he was free until Wednesday and took the first flight to Springfield, Ohio. He tried the hospital where Adam was born first. He talked with the administrator who insisted that their records were accurate. He got the names of the doctors who delivered both Alex Arntzen and Mary Louise and delved into their records. Sure enough, both of them stated a baby delivered on the dates that corresponded with the hospital records. One boy and one girl. The hospital records showed nothing of Adam Arntzen's birth at all. Nothing was found to indicate that Adam had ever been born.

He then checked the death records and found the record of Mary Louise's death at age nine.

He wasn't sure what to make of it. He checked into a hotel, settled in, and pulled out his lap top. The next thing he checked was the school records. He found where Alex had entered the school system at age six; saw his report cards and even school photos. There was nothing at all to show that a Adam Arntzen was ever a student there.

He took out his cell phone and called Mulder.

"What?" Mulder answered his phone.

"Mulder it's me. I haven't heard anything from you about Spender or Krycek so I'm assuming you haven't been in contact with either of them."

"That's right. What's this all about? Did you figure out what they're up to?" Mulder asked.

"No, not yet. But I need to talk with them. Either one. Can you get a message out that they might see?"

"I can try but there's no guarantee they'll see it; or answer it even if they do see it."

"Well try. Get me a phone number so I can speak to them. Either one; I don't care. Just get me a number. And Mulder; call me on my cell phone. I'm not in the office and don't expect to be there for a couple of days."

"Okay. I'll do what I can."

"Thanks, Mulder." Walter said and hung up the phone. Something weird was going on here and he knew the one most likely to have the answers would be Spender. He wondered though; what he'd have to pay for them.

Walter then headed for the County Court House, showed his credentials and was escorted to the files room where he started digging. He encountered the same thing there. There was no record at all of any Adam Arntzen being born. Alex Arntzen's records were there but nothing for Adam. He did a search for Alice Arntzen and it came back that she had given birth to one son — Alex. He then searched for Alma Spender and found she had given birth to one daughter, deceased at age nine.

None of it made any sense. If he didn't know Adam so well, he might begin to suspect that he was Alex. He knew that was impossible because Adam had two good arms and Alex had only one. He knew that Adam was not Alex. There was no doubt in his mind about that.

He next did a search on Ralph Spender. There he was, Ralph Spender worked for Kaufman Plumbing

Company for ten years before he disappears off the books. He did a quick search for Kaufman Plumbing Company and found Ralph Spender listed as an employee and there was a record of his earnings for the entire time he worked there.

Next he did a search on the street addresses that Adam had given him. They were both correct. The Arntzen family did live where Adam said they did and were listed as 'father, mother and son.' The boy's name was omitted. A check for the address where Alex lived also was correct in that the Spender family lived there but they were listed as 'father, mother, daughter'.

The thought ran through Walter's mind that maybe Krycek was this 'daughter'. Maybe she hadn't died and had somehow gone through a sex change. But what about Adam's memories of his cousin Alex?

Was Alex one of those kids born with indistinguishable sex organs? Was it possible the doctors got it wrong? Then how could he explain this daughter thing?

He went back into the records and checked for the girls name. Mary Louise. Back to the school records. There she was. All her school records were intact. Even photos of her. A pretty little dark haired girl but definitely not Krycek. Parents were listed as Alma and Ralph Spender. No siblings were listed.

The mystery was getting deeper and deeper. He delved into the school records and got the name of the family doctor. A little work on his lap top and he was in to the doctor's records. Yes, Mary Louise Spender had been a patient of his for years. He had removed her tonsils, treated her for various childhood illnesses and at age seven it was noted that she had a heart murmur. She had been treated several times for the next two years before her death from 'heart failure' at age nine.

He checked the cemetery records that was listed and they had a record and plot number listed for her on the correct date. He checked the funeral home listed and there was a service listed. He checked the pastor's name, got into his records and found there was a serviced delivered for Mary Louise on the correct date. Bank records show payments were made monthly to the funeral home, for a casket and services.

There was nothing more he could do from that angle. Everything showed that Alma and Ralph Spender had a girl and that she lived to the age of nine and died. There was nothing that he could find anywhere that said they had ever had a son.

He also checked the Arntzen family as far as he could. They had immigrated to this country as young adults and married within a year of their arrival. They lived in New York City for a year and then came to Springfield where they lived until their death's a year apart. A check of the death records showed all that was exactly as Adam had remembered. The address was correct, occupation as carpenter was correct, parents dates of birth were correct. The only thing incorrect was that they had only one child, Alex, born in October.

Walter then opened the Bureau records and went to Krycek's file. "Born in October, Springfield Ohio, to parents Alice and Michael Arntzen." None of this made any sense to him. Adam was not Alex Krycek. Nothing in the records was going to make him believe that. He knew Adam and he knew Alex. They were definitely not the same person!

Walter's cell phone rang and it startled him sitting alone there in the county court house file room. He flicked it open. "Skinner," he said.

"It's me. I got a number for you." Mulder said. "It's for Spender. 555-123-4567. He said it would only be good for the next hour."

"Good, good. Thank you, Mulder. I'll call him right now."

Walter hung up the phone and punched in the number. The slimy voice of C.G.B. Spender answered on the second ring.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Skinner. What is it you wish to speak with me about?"

"Krycek. I need to find him. It's important."

"Well of course it's important or you wouldn't have contacted me. Unfortunately I can't help you."

"I need a number. Please!" Walter wasn't too proud to beg.

"As hard as it is to believe, knowing Mr. Krycek's proclivities, he and I parted ways some time ago. I have no idea of his whereabouts."

"If it's a matter of payment …"

"Believe me, Mr. Skinner. You have nothing that I could possibly want or need. The simple fact remains that I haven't seen or heard from Mr. Krycek in more than a year." A click and the line went dead.

"Damn!" Walter swore, tossed the phone on the table and stood up and paced the small room. A few minutes later a clerk came in and told him the court house was closing for the day. He drove his rental car back to his hotel, had dinner and prepared for bed. He was almost asleep when the phone rang.

He grabbed it up off the night stand and opened it, "Skinner."

"Walter it's me. Did I wake you?" Adam's voice came on the line.

"No! No. I had just gotten into bed but I wasn't asleep. How are you doing? You sound tired."

"I need to see you. Is it all right if I come to D.C. Tomorrow?"

"Sure it is. I'm still in Springfield though. I've got a little more work to do here but I should be done by noon. I ought to be back in D.C. no later than dinner time."

"Okay. I'll grab an afternoon flight."

"Good. Call me and let me know what time you'll be in and I'll pick you up."

"I will." Adam agreed and then asked, "So are you having any luck?"

"Not yet." Walter answered, reluctant to share what little he had found. "Maybe tomorrow."

"Walter, I'm scared. None of this makes any sense to me. Something's happening and I don't know what it is."

"Now there's nothing to be scared about. Nothing's happened; has it?"

"No. Just the dreams. Tonight's was the worst."

"What was it about?"

"I'll tell you tomorrow when I see you. I don't want to think about it now."

"Can you get off work for a few days? Maybe you should stay with me a while. There's no need for you to stay there and be scared."

"Yeah, I can get off. My work is done from my computer so I can do it anywhere."

"Good. Just bring whatever you need with you then."

* * * * *


Walter spent the next morning visiting neighbors in Adam's childhood area. Very few were still around who remembered the Arntzen family and of those who did, one didn't remember the boy's name, one thought there were two boys but couldn't remember the names and one thought the boy's name was Alexander. No one remembered a boy named Adam.

It was a somber flight back to D.C. for Walter. He couldn't make heads or tails of the situation. Everything kept pointing to Adam and Alex being the same person; yet he knew that was impossible. His Adam was nothing like Alex Krycek except for the identical face.

He made it back to D.C. forty-five minutes before Adam's plane was due so he waited in the Airport bar. He was anxious to see Adam again, hold him in his arms; but he wasn't anxious to tell him what he had found out. He spotted Adam as he came out and headed towards him. Adam walked with his head down.

"You okay?" Walter greeted him with a quick hug.

"Yeah. Now that I'm here with you." Adam gave him a weak grin and linked his arm through Walter's.

They taxied to Walter's condo where they had a late lunch delivered by a nearby coffee shop. Adam was installed in Walter's spare bedroom while they waited. Neither of them wanting to get into deep conversation on an empty stomach. Once lunch was finished and the debris cleaned up, they took a seat on the couch side by side.

"Tell me about your dream." Walter got things started.

"It was horrible, Walter. The worst dream I've ever had. I hate to even think about it. It was just so … real."

"Take a deep breath and describe what you remember." Walter prompted.

Adam took several deep breaths and then started. "I was running through some woods. Someone was chasing me. I came to a group of men and they offered to help me. I was so relieve1-47d!" He passed a hand through his long hair pushing it back behind his ear.

1-47

"That's it?" Walter was relieved that it wasn't any more serious than that.

"NO! That was just the beginning. I was sleeping and then … then ..."

"What? What happened?"

"They … they all jumped on me … and ...and ..."

Walter came over to him then and put an arm around him. "Whatever they did … it was just a dream, Adam. Just a dream."

"Walter … they cut off my arm! I felt it! It burned! They threw it into the fire and I could feel my arm burning!" He was frantic and gasping as tears streamed down his face.

Walter pulled him close and held him tight. "It was just a dream, Adam. Just a dream!" But the significance of the dream made him sick to his stomach. What the hell was going on!!

"You … you told me! You told me Alex lost his arm; that he had a prosthesis. How did he lose it? How?"

"I don't know all the details. Just that it happened in Russia."

"Russia? What was Alex doing in Russia?"

"He accompanied one of my agents on an assignment there." Walter disengaged himself from the frantic embrace and went to his liquor cabinet and fixed them both a drink.1-47

"I've got an idea, Adam. You say your memory is hazy about some things. What would you think about being hypnotized?"

"Hypnotized?" Adam said as he accepted the drink and took a big swallow. "Do you think it would help? You think all this has something to do with my childhood? Something that I can't remember?"

"I don't know. I wasn't able to find out anything helpful in Springfield. We've got to do something. The only thing we haven't tried is jogging your memory."

"I still think we need to find Alex. He'd be able to clear this mess up."1-47

"I've been trying but no one has seen him in months."

"Then he's hiding out for some reason. He must be in trouble of some kind. We've got to find him, Walter."

Walter's cell phone went off and he took it out of his pocket to turn it off when he saw the number that was calling. It was Director Jana Cassidy. "I have to take this." He apologized to Adam.

"Skinner." Walter said into his phone.

"You know who this is; you know who's speaking?" The voice said.

"I do." Walter was puzzled by the call. Cassidy never called him herself. If she needed to speak with him for something her secretary usually placed the call.

"You are currently conducting a private investigation and I am telling you right now that you are to cease it immediately!"

"This is a private matter!" Walter insisted.

"You will cease as of right now; or hand in your badge. Do I make myself clear?"

Walter swore quietly as he paced the floor.

"DO I MAKE MY SELF CLEAR, MR. SKINNER?"

"Yes. I understand." Walter said through gritted teeth.

"Then I can expect you at your desk tomorrow morning doing the work that you've been assigned and are being paid for."

"I'll be at my desk in the morning." Walter said and snapped his phone shut.

"What is it? What's wrong? Who was that?" Adam flew at him with questions.

"That was Director Cassidy — my boss. I am to cease my 'private investigating' and be at my desk tomorrow or I can hand in my badge."

"But … how did she know? Or was she just angry because you took time off?"

"I don't know. I don't know, Adam." He took Adam in his arms and held him close.

CHAPTER FOUR

The next morning Walter sat at his desk and fumed. By mid morning he had had enough and headed for the Director's office and insisted on seeing her. An argument ensued with her secretary and ended when Cassidy stepped into her outer office and asked, "What's going on here?"

"I have to speak with you!" Walter insisted.

The Director gave a disgusted sigh and waved a hand towards her office. Walter followed her in.

She took a seat at her desk and motioned for him to sit on a chair in front. Walter stood where he was — half way between the door and her desk.

"Since when does something that I do in my private life concern you or the Bureau?" He demanded.

"Who you screw in your private life is up to you. But when you start putting your nose into things that do not concern you — then it becomes my business." She answered defiantly.

"How is the private life of someone I'm seeing any business of the Bureau?"

"Don't be obtuse, Walter." She gave him a disgusted look.

"If you know something about Adam Arntzen; I want to know what it is!"

The Director's phone sounded and she answered it. "I'll be right out." Then to Walter she said. "You'll have to excuse me now. My next appointment is here." She stood and headed for the door; ushering him out.

"I need to know!" Walter insisted. "What do you know about Adam?"

"It's very simple, Walter. There is no Adam." She opened her door, motioned for him to leave as her next appointment stood and headed in.

Walter steamed as he walked back to his office. "There is no Adam. What the hell does that mean?" He mumbled to himself.

He got little work done the rest of the day. Mostly he shuffled reports and file folders. He called Adam several times only to find him worried and depressed. When the work day was finally over he hurried home stopping only for a quick take-out meal for dinner.

They ate in silence. The food tasted like cardboard to Walter; Adam barely ate anything. Mostly he just pushed the food around on his plate.

"Eat, Adam. You need some food in you." Walter pleaded.

"I can't help it. I'm not hungry, Walter. I'm scared!"

"Why? Why are you so scared? You're safe here. This building is secure."

"It was so good for us, Walter. So good! And now … it's all in the toilet. All I am is trouble to you!"

"That's nonsense!" Walter insisted.

"It's not! It's true! Why should you have to put up with all this shit." Adam got up from the table and stood behind his chair gripping the back of it with white knuckles. "I should go home; let you out of this mess."

"No!" Walter stood up too; almost turning his chair over.

"It's not fair to you! You and me … lovers on the beach is one thing. It was wonderful. It was perfect. The rest of this … shit. You didn't sign on for."

"Adam …" Walter was at a loss for words. "I don't want you to go. I want you here. I want to help you though this."

"Walter …" Adam looked down and shook his head. "You can't be this … good."

"Goodness has nothing to do with this." Walter made his way around the table and took Adam in his arms. "I want you back! I want the Adam I fell head over heels for in Cabo."

"I wasn't … messed up then."

"You're not messed up, Adam." Walter placed a kiss on his temple. "Circumstances are messed up. All we have to do is figure them out. Or ..."

"Or what?" Adam raised his head.

"Or we can forget the digging. What the hell do we care about the past? It's here and now that matters and here and now … we're together. Isn't that what counts?"

"I can't believe you still want me … even with all this mess!"

"Believe it! I want you. If I didn't; you wouldn't be here. In case you haven't picked up on it; I'm not the shy type. If I wanted out of this relationship; I'd tell you."

"Okay. But I think we ought to try one more thing before we give up on this." Adam said.

"What's that?"

"I think we ought to try the hypnotism thing that you suggested. How do we go about it? Can you arrange it without getting any higher up on your boss' shit list?"

"Yeah. I know someone who can do it." Walter assured him. "She's out of town right now but I'll get her over here as soon as she gets back."

* * * * *


Two weeks later …

"Mulder, Scully, thank you both for coming." Walter opened the door for them and they walked in.

"Sir; what is this all about?" Scully asked as she and Mulder both took a seat on the couch.

"I need your help. This has to be strictly off the record. Are you both okay with that?"

"Sure thing." Mulder agreed with a grin. "Off the record is my favorite way of doing things."

"We'll help in any way we can." Scully assured him.

"All right then." Walter stood leaning back against his desk and began. "First of all, you both know that I've been seeing someone. Someone I met in Mexico back in January."

"Yes sir." Scully nodded.

"This has to do with him?" Mulder asked. "You want us to investigate him?"

"No, not exactly." Walter waited a minute as he gathered his thoughts. "I may as well get it out and get it over with."

Scully and Mulder gave each other a look.

"His name is Adam. Adam Arntzen."

"Arntzen?" Mulder repeated the name. "As in Alex Krycek Arntzen?" He leaned forward as if to stress the name.

"Yes. He's Alex Krycek's cousin."

"Ohhhh shit!" Mulder stood up and walked over to Walter. "You're not serious. You're seeing Krycek's … cousin?"

Walter held up his hands in an effort to get Mulder to back off. "Yes. He's Alex Krycek's cousin."

"What do you need us for?" Scully asked. "Are you trying to find out if he's as dirty as Krycek?"

"No! That's not it at all. He's not dirty. I know he's not."

"Is that why you wanted me to find Krycek? A family reunion maybe?" Mulder's question dripped with sarcasm.

"If you would just sit back down and let me explain." He glared at Mulder but Mulder only moved away a bit.

"Like I said, I met him in Mexico. He was on the beach playing volley ball with a bunch of guys." Walter started his explanation. "The ball rolled over to where I was sitting and he came running over after it."

"That's a great pick-up. I've used it myself." Mulder scowled.

"It wasn't a pick-up!" Walter insisted. "It was … I don't know … just a meeting. It wasn't until he was close enough that I recognized him."

"You recognized him? You knew Krycek had a cousin?" Scully asked.

"No. I thought it was Krycek at first. The face is exactly the same. Adam's hair is longer but the build is the same."

"And what about the plastic arm? Is that the same too?" Mulder asked.

"NO! That's just it. That's how I knew it wasn't Krycek. Adam has both his arms. He's not Krycek; no matter how much he looks like him." Walter took out the photograph that had been taken of he and Adam on the dance floor in Cabo and handed it to Scully. Mulder walked over and took a look.

"I've seen cousins that look a lot alike before; but not identical." Scully said.

"That's Krycek." Mulder insisted.

"They are identical in appearance. Except for the arm. Same height, same build, same green eyes and dark hair." Walter admitted.

"How can you be sure it's not Krycek?" Mulder asked. "You know he hasn't been seen in months. Maybe it is him; maybe he found a doctor who could … restore his arm somehow."

"Mulder, you know we don't have that kind of technology." Scully shot him down.

"But it makes sense; doesn't it? Krycek disappears and this cousin appears at about the same time. Doesn't that seem the tiniest bit coincidental to either of you?" Mulder asked.

"Don't you think I've thought of that, Mulder?" Walter pleaded. "Adam and I have been lovers for nearly ten months now. Don't you think I'd know if he was Krycek?"

"Sometimes the hormones interfere with logical thinking." Mulder said but did back down some.

"What is it you want us to do? I assume you've already checked him out yourself." Scully said.

"He and I have both done a lot of checking and nothing checks out."

"I'd say that about explains everything." Mulder said.

"The very fact that it doesn't check out shocked him as much as it did me." Walter insisted.

"Well, he's a good actor then." Mulder said.

"We were thinking of hypnosis, Scully. Could you do that? Could you do that and not have to report it? We want your help but not if it's going to get you in trouble."

"I can do it as long as it doesn't go out of this apartment. Where is he? I'd like to meet him."

"He's upstairs in his room. I told him I'd need to talk with the two of you first."

"Wait, wait; just a minute." Mulder stopped him at the foot of the stairs. "What are you going to do if it is Krycek? Have you thought of that?"

"He's not!" Walter insisted. "And if he was; what would have been the point? It's been nearly a year. If he was up to something; why hasn't anything happened?"

"Maybe it's happening now, Sir." Scully offered. "Maybe he's wanting you to validate him as this cousin so he can forget all about being Alex Krycek."

"No! That's not what's happening here. He has memories of growing up with Alex as his cousin."

"If Alex is his cousin; why doesn't he know how to find him?" Mulder asked.

"He says he hasn't seen Alex since the family moved away when they were in grade school."

"There's been no contact between them at all?" Scully asked.

"None. Let me bring him down. You can talk with him. He'll answer any questions you have but Mulder; please …"

"Please what? Go easy on him because he's your lover? If this is Krycek; I'd think you'd be the first to want to know."

"I'll get him. You'll see what I mean. He's not Krycek; I promise you." Walter disappeared up the stairs while Mulder and Scully spoke softly to one another as they took another look at the photograph.

"What do you think?" Scully asked him.

"It's Krycek." Mulder said without hesitation.

"How do you explain his arm?"

"I can't. But I'll bet he can."

That's all they got out before they heard the door upstairs open and Walter and Adam came down stairs.

"Mulder, Scully; this is Adam Arntzen. Adam, this is Fox Mulder and Dana Scully." Walter made the introductions.

Adam reached a hand out to Scully first. She took it and have it a little shake. He reached it out to Mulder but Mulder just stared at him and refused the hand.

"Can we please be seated and discuss things like adults?" Walter asked.

Walter and Adam both picked up a chair from the dining room and brought them in to face the couch and took a seat. Mulder refused the couch and stood where he was.

"Mulder, I'm asking you to please do this for me." Walter asked.

Mulder grimaced his displeasure and took a seat beside Scully on the couch.

"Mulder, I'm sorry if my being here makes you angry." Adam said.

"This whole charade makes me angry, Krycek. What exactly is it you're trying to pull here?" Mulder's words were spat out.

"He thinks I'm Alex. Did you tell him?" Adam turned to Walter and asked.

Walter nodded.

"The voice is the same." Scully said.

"Yes; it's the same, Scully; but I'm telling you both — this is not Alex Krycek. It's Adam Arntzen!"

"I explained everything to them, Adam. They simply choose not to believe me." Walter explained.

"I'd like to examine your arm. May I?" Scully asked.

"Certainly." Adam stood up, removed his sweat shirt and then his t-shirt.

Scully went over and examined the shoulder, arm and hand closely. "I see no signs of surgery here of any kind, Mulder. The skin tone, musculature, nails, all match the other arm perfectly."

"So how did you arrange that, Krycek? Alien technology?" Mulder glared at him.

"Alien?" Adam turned to Walter. "He thinks I'm crazy!"

"I think you're crazy if you think you are going to get away with this cousin shit. You're Alex Krycek all right and sooner or later Walter's going to find out. What's going to happen to your little scheme then?" Mulder's voice was raising.

"Mulder! I asked you here to help us; not attack us." Walter reminded him.

"Don't you see what he's doing here? He's got you wrapped around his little finger!"

"Mulder, enough!" Walter insisted.

"What is it you think I'm doing?" Adam asked in desperation.

"I don't know yet; but I'll figure it out. You've managed to worm your way into Walter's life with this ridiculous long hair and meek attitude but you're not fooling anyone. Even he doubts you or he wouldn't have asked us here to investigate you."

"Mulder, I didn't ask you here to investigate anything. Adam and I discussed this and he wants to see if hypnotism will help his memory." Walter insisted.

"You have memory loss?" Scully asked.

"Some." Adam answered. "Since the accident a few years ago."

"What accident? What happened?" Scully asked.

"It was some years ago. I'm a network specialist. I set up computer systems for people/businesses. I had a job in a chemical plant and was exposed to some chemicals through an air vent. All I remember was working at my computer, feeling a little dizzy and passing out. I didn't come out of it for months. They said there might have been some brain damage. They ran series of tests on me and I've lost none of my mental capacity. I have most of my memories but some of them are a little fuzzy around the edges."

"A fairy tale!" Mulder scoffed.

"I checked the chemical firm out. There was an accident listed at the exact time Adam says he worked there." Walter said.

"And the medical records; did you check them out?" Scully asked. "What hospital took care of you? I'd like to take a look at the records myself."

Walter and Adam exchanged glances.

"That's one of the reasons I asked you both here tonight. Believe me, Mulder, we want to know the truth as much as you do." Walter said.

"What about the medical records?" Mulder asked; immediately sensing something amiss.

"It's not just the medical records; it's all the records. There doesn't seem to be any records of me anywhere!" Adam said.

"I don't understand." Scully said.

"There are no birth records for Adam Arntzen, no medical records in the hospital where he was treated, no records of him attending the grade school he fully remembers attending." Walter explained.

"What more proof do you need?!" Mulder shrugged.

"Mulder ..." Walter started but Adam stopped him.

"Mulder; if I am Alex Krycek; can you prove it? Will you? Will you help us find out exactly who I am?" Adam asked so sincerely that it took Mulder aback.

"Oh you're good!" Mulder sat back, crossed his arms and stared at Adam.

"I need to know! I need to know who I am. In my mind and in my heart, I know I'm Adam Arntzen. I never doubted it for a moment until a few months ago when Walter and I started looking into it. But we can't find anything at all to prove that I actually existed before a few years ago."

"I'm not surprised." Mulder said.

"You knew Alex very well? Walter said the two of you were partners for a while. Do you have any idea at all where he might be? Where he'd go if he was in trouble? Who were his friends? Who would he turn to for help?" Adam asked.

Mulder just stared at him.

"There are no records of his existence anywhere?" Scully asked Walter.

"None that we can find." Walter admitted.

"What do you think hypnotism will reveal?" Scully asked.

"We don't know." Walter said sadly.

"Whatever it is; we want to know! We have to know!" Adam pleaded with her.

"Did you want to do it now? Tonight?" Scully asked.

"Yes!" Both Adam and Mulder answered at the same time.

"All right. Sir; I need paper and pencil. I'd like to take notes." Scully said as she stood.

Walter went to his desk and brought back a legal pad and some pencils and handed them to her.

Mulder stood and wandered around the room.

"What am I supposed to do?" Adam asked Scully.

"Just relax. Why not lie down on the couch." Scully answered.

"Wait! Wait a minute." Walter stopped things. "I need to speak with Adam first." He pulled Adam over to the other side of the room and spoke quietly to him. "Adam … whatever happens … whatever your name turns out to be … I love you. I don't care about any of the rest of it." He held Adam close in his arms and could feel him trembling.

Mulder and Scully watched from across the room. Mulder gave a disgusted look; Scully's was more sympathetic. "Walter's going to be crushed if it turns out it's Krycek." She said.

"Can we do this now?" Adam asked as he pulled reluctantly from Walter's embrace.

"Yes," Scully said and joined him by the couch. "Before I put you under, I'd like to ask you if it matters to you who asks the questions and if there are any parameters for the questioning?"

"No; any of you can ask whatever questions you want." Adam said as he got comfortable on the couch.

"Before we go any further with this charade, I'd like to ask a question." Mulder said as an idea occurred to him.

They all stopped what they were doing and turned to him.

"Did you think to check out his finger prints?"

Walter went to his desk, pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Mulder. Scully walked over to take a look.

"They don't match." Walter said. "Not even close."

"Where did you get these?" Mulder asked.

"Krycek's is from the Bureau data base. Adam's I did myself. I'm not an amateur here, Mulder. Fingerprints were the first thing I checked."

"Finger prints can be manipulated." Mulder said.

"Do you mind?" Scully asked Adam.

"Not at all." Adam said and held out his hands for her to check.

"Do you have a magnifying glass?" Mulder asked.

Walter got one from his desk drawer and handed it to Scully. She did a careful look at each finger and announced. "They do not appear to have been tampered with."

They returned to the couch where Adam got into a comfortable position. Scully sat beside him and Mulder and Walter stood nearby. In less than a minute Adam was out. They could see him visibly relax as he lay there with his eyes closed. Scully started the questioning.

"I'm going to ask you a series of questions and I'd like you to answer them as quickly as possible. Do you understand?"

"Yes."

"What is your name?"

"Adam Arntzen."

"Where were you born?"

"Springfield, Ohio."

"What was your mother's name?"

"Alice."

"When did you first meet Fox Mulder?"

"Tonight."

"What was your father's name?"

"Michael."

"What grade school did you attend?"

"Third Street School,"

"When did you first meet Walter Skinner?"

"January of this year."

Scully turned to Mulder and he stepped closer.

"How old are you?" Mulder started his questioning.

"Thirty seven."

"Who is Duane Barry?"

"I'm sorry. I don't know any Duane Barry."

"Where do you live?"

"209 Harriet Street, Elmira, New York."

"Where did you live when you lived in D.C.?"

"I've never lived in D. C."

"What's cancer man's real name?"

"Cancer man? I don't know anyone called that."

"When did you first meet Spender?"

"Ralph Spender? He's my uncle. I knew him as a kid until they moved away."

"When did you first meet C.G.B. Spender?"

"I've never met him."

Mulder stepped back and Walter stepped closer.

"What's your cousin's name?" Walter asked.

"Alex."

"Alex what?"

"He was Alex Spender when I knew him. I hear he goes by Alex Krycek now."

"When was the last time you saw him?"

"When I was a kid. Nearly thirty years ago now."

Mulder butted in then and asked, "When did you speak with him last either by phone or email?"

"The day they moved away from Springfield."

"Why were you in Cabo San Lucas in January?" Walter asked.

"My friends insisted I join them. I didn't want to."

"Why did you pick up Walter on the beach? What were your plans for him?" Mulder asked.

A slow smile crept across Adam's face. "He was the hottest guy I'd seen in ages. I wanted to get to know him better."

Walter gave Mulder a dirty look.

"What was your purpose for agreeing to be hypnotized?" Scully asked. "What did you hope to gain by it?"

"I wanted to find out about my past."

"Are there any living relatives that you know of?" Walter asked.

"My Aunt Velma and my cousin Alex."

"Do you know the whereabouts of Alex Krycek?" Scully asked.

"No."

"How long have you been a member of the Consortium?" Mulder asked.

"I've never been a member of a Consortium of any kind."

"How was your arm repaired?" Scully asked.

"My arms have never been in need of any repair."

"What the name of the doctor who operated on you?" Mulder asked.

"I have never had surgery."

"What's the name of the doctor who took care of you after the chemical plant accident?" Scully asked.

"Dr. Victoria Williamson."

"Are you still seeing this doctor? Are you under any other doctor's care?" Scully asked.

"No. I haven't seen her or any other doctor in nearly two years."

The three of them looked from one to the other to see if there were more questions. Scully was about to bring him out of it when Mulder said that he had one last question. She nodded for him to go ahead.

"Which do you prefer with your peanut butter sandwiches — jelly or honey?"

"Jam. Strawberry jam."

"When was the last peanut butter sandwich you had?" Mulder asked.

"Yesterday."

Mulder shook his head that he was through and Scully brought Adam out of it.

Adam sat up a little dazed. He stretched and asked the question that Walter and Scully were both wondering about. "What was all that about peanut butter sandwiches? How is any of that going to help find out about my past?"

Scully and Walter both looked towards Mulder for an answer.

Mulder had wandered over to the other side of the room but turned back at the question. He stared at Adam for a few minutes then said, "Alex Krycek is allergic to peanuts. You can check his records if you want but I know that for a fact. I was with him when he accidentally got a cookie with peanuts in it and had to take him to the emergency room."

They all stared at one another in shock.

"You've actually seen … Adam … eat peanut butter?" Mulder asked.

"I have!" Walter said. "He likes peanut butter sandwiches for a snack and he does like them with jam."

"What does this mean?" Adam asked; not sure of the significance of it all.

"It means you're not Alex Krycek!" Walter said as he sat down beside him.

"What about the other things; the dreams?" Adam asked.

"What dreams?" Scully asked.

Mulder came back over closer to hear the answer to that.

"I've been having nightmares. The worst one …" Adam hesitated and looked to Walter for support.

"Go ahead." Walter encouraged and took his hand. "Tell them everything."

"There are two that I've had that really scared me. They scared me because they were so real. Not like a regular dream."

"Have you had these dreams more than once?" Scully asked.

"Yes. One I've had about five or six times now. The second one, the worst one, I've had only three times." He gave a little shudder.

"What were they about?" Mulder asked.

"The first one — I'm in a hall way and I see a door at the end with the number ten-thirteen on it. The next moment I'm inside that room. Someone has closed me inside and won't let me out. I can remember pounding and screaming but they don't let me out. I know I'm never going to get out of that room."

He had to stop for a moment.

"And the other dream?" Scully said after scribbling some notes on her pad.

"This one was the worst. I was running through some woods. I'm terrified. Someone is chasing me. I meet some men and they say they'll protect me. I remember being so relieved. Then I'm asleep and ..." He had to stop there.

"Go on." Walter encouraged and put a protective arm around him. "It was only a dream, Adam. It can't hurt you."

"I was sleeping and these men … they jumped on me and they … they cut off my arm! They threw it in the fire and I could feel it burning!" Adam had to get up and walk around. "I've never been that scared in my life!" He said as he wiped the perspiration off his upper lip with the back of his hand and looked from Scully to Mulder and back to Scully again. "Does that mean anything?"

"Is it possible you were born a twin?" Scully asked. "That maybe Alex was your twin and not a cousin?"

"No! He was my cousin!" Adam was beginning to panic. "Is that how Alex lost his arm? Did someone cut it off?"

Walter went to him and slipped an arm around his waist. He looked to Scully and hoped she'd have an answer.

Scully and Mulder looked at one another. Mulder stayed silent but he resumed his staring at Adam.

"This is all just preliminary right now, Adam. We don't know anything more now than when we started." Scully said as she tore the notes off the pad, folded them and stuck them in her pocket.

"You do!" Adam said and walked over to face Mulder. "I can see it in your face. Those dreams meant something! What? What did they mean?"

"I wasn't with Alex when he lost his arm. There were woods though; a lot of them. And we were being chased through them."

"You got separated? You got away and he didn't?" Adam asked.

"That's about it. The next time I saw him he had the plastic arm." Mulder admitted.

"And the room with the number ten-thirteen? What about that?" Adam demanded.

"We followed Alex down into a missile silo. There was a room there with that number. We thought he was in there."

"And you left him? You left him there to die?" Adam was nearing hysteria.

"We were escorted out of the facility by Spender and his gang of machine gun toting thugs. We had no choice." Scully explained.

"You didn't go back later to … to check on him?"

"It was a government facility. We weren't allowed back on." Mulder said.

Adam thought about that for a minute then turned to Walter and asked, "But how … how can I have these … dreams or memories or whatever they are. I'm not Alex! Am I?"

"No!" Walter said.

"I have no idea what's going on here." Scully shook her head. "Some things prove that you're not Krycek and other things seem to prove that you … might be."

"But what about the finger prints? The peanut butter?" Adam was frantic.

Mulder, Scully and Walter all shook their heads. There were no answers to be had.

CHAPTER FIVE

The four of them were dumbstruck with silence; none of them knew what to do or say next. Each was lost in his/her own thoughts when a loud knock was sounded at the door.

"Ignore it." Walter said but the knocking persisted and grew louder. He finally went over to the door, yanked it opened and said "What?" angrily. Only to come face to face with Jeremiah Smith.

"Good evening, Mr. Skinner. May I come in? It's vitally important that I speak with you before this goes any further."

Walter frowned, "What do you know about all this?"

"I have come to answer all your questions. If I may?"

Walter stepped back and Smith entered the room. "Good. You're all here."

Walter closed and locked the door. Now they were going to get some answers. Now they would know one way or the other.

"Smith! How are you?" Mulder greeted him with a hand shake.

"Fine; thank you." Smith answered.

Scully nodded to him. "Good seeing you again."

"Thank you; thank you all for seeing me." His smile encompassed them all.

"Please; sit down." Walter said and motioned towards the couch.

Scully sat next to Smith, Mulder sat on the arm of the couch next to Scully. Walter and Adam took the chairs across from them.

Adam nudged Walter and whispered, "Who is he?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. Adam, this is Jeremiah Smith. Jeremiah, this is Adam Arntzen."

Jeremiah reached across the coffee table and shook hands with Adam, then began speaking.

"I'm sure you're all wondering why I'm here and how I fit into this mystery."

They all shook their heads and agreed.

"Do you know who I am?" Adam asked eagerly. "Am I Adam or Alex?"

"You're both." Smith said and the others sat in stunned silence.

"He's Krycek?" Mulder asked for confirmation.

"He's not! He's not Krycek! He can't be!" Walter insisted.

"Nooo!" Adam gave an anguished plea.

"But the finger prints are different; and the arm? What about his arm?" Scully asked.

"I knew it! I knew it!" Mulder insisted and then thought about the peanut butter and again wasn't quite so sure.

"If you will all just remain calm; I'll explain everything." Smith tried to settle them all down.

Adam tried to get up and leave but Walter held him in his chair with a hand on his arm. "It's not true!"

Adam clasped a hand over his mouth as the tears flooded down his cheeks.

"No one ever expected that the two of you would meet up and begin a relationship." Smith started.

"What has that got to do with anything?" Walter asked angrily. "That's nobody's business!"

"It becomes the business of others when you start poking around in confidential records and questioning people."

Walter stared at him. "What could … this … have to do with anything that you're involved in?"

"I'll start at the beginning. Please hold your questions until I'm finished. They will all be answered; I assure you."

"Please; go on." Scully said.

"Alex Krycek was born to Alice and Michael Arntzen. At age nine a couple things happened in his life. His parents were killed in an automobile accident and he went to live with his Aunt Alma and Uncle Ralph Spender who had just recently lost their daughter. Shortly after that adoption took place, Ralph lost his job as a plumber and turned to his only living relative for assistance; his uncle C.G.B. Spender.

Spender took them in. Within a year Alma had passed away from cancer and a year later Ralph died from a heart attack. Alex was left to be raised by his great uncle Spender. He was an exceptional child in every way. Extremely intelligent and eager to please his uncle.

Spender saw him as a commodity; something to use for his own purposes and groomed him into the business from the time Alex was a child. Alex did everything he was told without question. It wasn't until he was at Quantico that he started questioning things. For this he was punished severely.

He tried hard to please his uncle but as he became more aware of the world around him and the people in it he began to think for himself. He tried to break away from Spender and his teachings. He was truly torn between two worlds — the world he had grown up in and the world he was now exposed to as an agent.

He tried very hard on several occasions to bring Spender and the Consortium down but couldn't do it himself. This was when and where I and my group became directly involved. We had been monitoring the situation for years and hoped that he would succeed but he couldn't do it on his own. So we stepped in.

The Consortium has been down for two years now; thanks to Alex and his efforts. Spender is still around and has been trying to reestablish things but we are preventing it from ever becoming a viable entity again. As far as he and anyone else involved with the Consortium is concerned; Alex Krycek was killed in China last year. Spender himself identified the body."

"Alex is dead?" Adam asked.

"No. The body was one that we had altered. It was what might be considered a clone; a replica. A perfect replica. Perfect enough that Spender was convinced it was Alex."

"Then am I Alex?"

"For all intents and purposes; you are Adam Arntzen. Your mind was wiped clean and you were given the memories of a happy childhood in Springfield. You are Adam Arntzen."

"But I'm not! I was born Alex Arntzen!" Adam struggled away from Walter and began to pace. "I'm Alex Krycek! My cousin! The guy everyone hates!" He headed for the door but couldn't get it opened before Walter got to him.

"Don't leave! You can't leave now. None of this makes any sense. How can he be Krycek; with the finger prints being different — the arm — the peanut thing?" Walter held on to Adam's arm and pulled him back to the group.

"The plan for Alex's extrication from the group was set in to play in Russia. That was our chance. He never lost his arm. The prosthetic was fake; hollow. His real arm and hand were in side it — intact."

"But I saw it in my dream! I lived it!" Adam insisted.

"Before you were brought back from Russia you spent several weeks in a clinic there. The memories were implanted in your mind that your arm had been taken off. We couldn't let you know the truth or you might have tried to remove the device. We had to make you believe that you had lost your arm."

"What about the finger prints?" Mulder asked.

"That was easiest of all. We simply changed the prints that were in the Bureau files." Smith said.

"And Cassidy knows about all this?" Walter asked.

"She does. It was necessary." Smith said.

"As I said earlier, we never expected that the two of you would run in to one another. Adam was settled in the quiet little town of Elmira and we were confident that he would stay there."

"I wasn't there then for seven or eight years? What about Malcolm? Did he even exist?" Adam asked.

"No, you weren't. Only a little over a year before you ran into Walter. I'm sorry but Malcolm didn't exist. You had suffered through such a painful childhood and early adulthood that it was decided it would be best to give you some memories of a happy life."

"And the accident at the chemical plant?" Walter asked.

"We used that as an excuse for a faulty memory in case anyone questioned him about his past."

"So what … this is supposed to be some kind of … witness protection thing?" Adam asked.

Smith shook his head 'yes'. "I'm afraid so."

"What about the peanut thing? I know Krycek was allergic to them. And Adam's been eating peanut butter sandwiches." Mulder asked.

"That was all part of the original plan. We had it put in his records that he was allergic and we staged the incident with the cookie when we knew he was going to be with you and you'd see to it that he was taken care of. All of that is a part of Alex Krycek's permanent record. The finger prints, the allergy, the loss of his arm. So if someone recognized him; it would be easy enough to prove that he was not Alex Krycek but a relative instead."

"An identical twin relative." Mulder said.

"It's not entirely without precedent, Mulder. Especially since his mother was an identical twin herself." Scully said.

"How can you explain the fact that he has some memories or dreams about actual events and people if his memory has been wiped?" Walter asked.

"A memory wipe is a delicate thing. It's never wise to do a total wipe. Too much is lost and you can end up with little more than a vegetable. When it was discovered that Adam had some memories about the past, we worked his new memories around it; made them cousins." Smith explained.

"And they're all dead now? My aunt and uncle, my parents? I have distinct memories of them up until I was in college." Adam asked.

"The memories were implanted. And yes, they are all dead and gone now; just as Alex Krycek is. The only one left is Adam Arntzen." Smith said.

"But it's all a lie! Every bit of it!" Adam argued.

"No, it's not. This was all discussed with you in detail. You were questioned at great length about the kind of life you would have liked to have had and we created it for you. Gave you those memories. We created the kind of life that you wanted to live. The small town, low-key kind of life. It's what you wanted. These things were created in your mind and in your heart by you. We simply made them real for you.

Alex Krycek was a product developed in a most brutal way by Spender to do his bidding. Once he was neutralized, we suggested the mind sweep. You agreed to it eagerly. You wanted to be rid of all traces of Alex Krycek; his life, his memories. We did that for you. What was left after the sweep was who you are now; who you wanted to be — Adam Arntzen."

Everyone seemed to be numb and out of questions. Smith excused himself and left. Scully and Mulder left shortly after.

Adam made his way up stairs to his room. Walter followed a short time later.

"May I come in?" Walter asked as he knocked lightly on the open bedroom door.

"Sure. Come on in. Sit down and chat with Alex Krycek the man you hate." Adam said bitterly.

Walter took a seat on the bed beside him and was silent for a while. "This is not what any of us expected, Adam. But we can deal with it."

"How? How are you going to forget that I'm someone you hate? Someone who did despicable things to you and a lot of other people? How do you forget something like that?"

"Adam, all that time, all those things have been wiped away. They don't matter any more. It's over and done with and it cannot be changed. There's no sense punishing ourselves for any of it. The man I fell in love with is sitting right here beside me. You are the man you want to be now. Nothing and no one is controlling you — manipulating you in any way. You love me. I know you do. Just like you know that I love you. My time with you has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't want it to end. Do you?" He took Adam's hand in his, brought it to his lips and kissed it.

"I have no memories of any of it! I swear to you!" Adam turned to face him.

"I know you don't and it wouldn't matter if you did. It's over! It's all gone. It's the past. Can't we just forget about memories — which are real, which are false? Could we please just think about the memories of these past ten months that we've been together? Those memories are beautiful enough to last a lifetime. We don't need any from before that."

"I can't believe you still want me. I thought you'd hate me." The tears began to fall again and Walter took him in his arms and held him.

"A whole lot has happened here tonight and it pretty much stunned us all. We know the truth now. But I've got to tell you something." He leaned back some; and tilted Adam's face up for a little kiss. "To me; you'll always be Adam; the guy I'm crazy in love with."

Adam gave a little gasp. "I am Adam! I mean; I feel like I'm Adam."

"You are! I believe what Smith said. Alex Krycek died and was buried in China. You, my love, are my Adam." Walter said as he caressed the side of Adam's face and tucked a strand of hair back behind his ear.

"Walter!" Adam buried his face against Walter's chest and clung to him. "Do you really think that we can just take up where we left off before all this shit began?"

"Why not?" Walter asked with a grin. "Of course, I'd want to change a few things though."

"What?"

"I've never been to Elmira. Do you think it would be a pretty good place to retire to?"

"Retire? You're going to retire?" Adam couldn't contain the excitement he felt.

"Why not? I've done my time. I'm eligible for full retirement. What would you think of us living in Elmira and maybe getting us a place on the beach in Cabo for a winter get-away now and then? I understand Cabo is a great place for people to fall in love."

"I think you're going to love Elmira. I intend to see that you do!"

The End

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