War Of The Roses
Quill

 

Victor walked slowly out of the Director’s office, the words, ‘fucking clones’ still echoing through his brain. That guy, Krycek, had looked so much like him, so very much like him... He heard Mac shuffling up behind him and tensed his shoulder for the slap the other man would give him.

"Hey, Vic..."

Slap! And Victor winced inside, not wanting to show the man how much he was hurting. "What?" he grumbled as he watched Li Ann walking ahead of them, talking to the Director quietly.

"That guy sure knew how to fight dirty, didn’t he."

"Yeah," muttered Victor, the words ‘fucking clones’, bouncing around again.

"Are you okay?"

Vic turned when the man’s voice lowered and he frowned when he saw something other then the usual teasing in those eyes.

"I heard what that guy said, after he took the two of us out..."

‘Oh shit, oh shitohshit,’ groaned Victor to himself, as he flashed a look to the two women ahead.

...‘fucking clones’...

"Don’t worry," hissed Mac. "I didn’t say a word to the Director... or Li Ann."

A long moment of silence drifted between them and a part of Victor prayed that Mac would drop it.

"So what do you think he meant?"

So much for praying. "I don’t know," Victor hissed back, his steps slowing even more, not wanting anyone else to overhear their conversation.

"You do know what a clone is, don’t you?"

"Don’t patronise me," hissed Victor, "I was a cop, not a moron."

"But you know?"

"Of course I know, damn it! I know..." Victor was mortified to hear his voice crack slightly.

...‘fucking clones’...

"Are you sure he can’t be a long lost twin brother, or a cousin or something?"

Victor shook his head and pushed a hand through his hair. They came to an intersecting corridor and Victor stopped. "I’ve got to go, Mac," muttered Victor, hoping that Mac would listen to him for once, "I’ve got to go..." And he turned and hurried down the hall. Mac didn’t follow him.

...‘fucking clones’...

Victor left the building, trying not to give into the curiosity burning in his soul. That guy, Krycek, was still locked up, and Victor knew that he could find out exactly where he was and try to get the truth from that crazy bastard.

...‘fucking clones’...

But he also knew that he was scared spitless to hear that truth.

... ‘fucking clones’...

Before he knew it, Victor turned around and entered the building again. The Director was long gone, Li Ann and Mac also... a part of Victor wondered if Mac had gone off with Li Ann, but for once the game of one-upmanship between him and the ex-thief was something that mattered little.

Looking through the small window in the door Victor saw that the room was white. That was all he could say about it. Pure, glaring white. The man in the straight jacket was crouched against the far wall, his eyes where filled with green fire, and even from where he stood, with that reinforced glass between them, Victor almost took a step back away from all that hate.

With a shaking hand, Victor reached out and thumbed on the communication switch beside the door. "Who..." the cop swallowed and cleared his voice, "...Who are you?"

"...fucking clones..."

Those words again...

"Didn’t tell you did they, trash?" laughed the bound man.

That laugh has madness dancing in it, thought a cringing Victor.

"They-didn’t-tell-you..." sang that hate filled voice. "Should have killed you... should have killed you when I had the chance..." growled the bound man.

Victor, not noticing the mad light in those familiar eyes turn into a calculating gleam, reached out and touched the number pad beside the door, his hand resting on the first digit of the lock. Knowing he was an idiot and a fool, Victor punched in the first number, then moved on to the second, then the next, then the next one... His shaking finger hovered over the last number as Victor’s good sense finally caught up with his mind and he hesitated. And as he hesitated the words that had been drifting out of the speaker – words that he hadn’t been taking any notice of started to seep into his confused brain - Victor turned up the volume and as those words hit him, the confused and scared man moved back to the tiny window and stared at the bound prisoner..

"No!... No more experiments... no more cutting... fucking clones... Never be me again... all of you out there... never just me again...fucking clones...too many of me... too many of me...fucking clones..."

With those words echoing inside his skull, Victor turned and ran. Victor ran from what he had been about to do... He ran from this man and all he said, all that he had implied as he had never run from an enemy before. The sunlight felt good on his face and Victor leant against his car, breathing deeply, before climbing behind the wheel. The guy was insane, any one could see that by the way he acted: almost killing Mac, (good idea, that, muttered a part of him), and kicking himself right where it hurt, Victor winced as he moved in the padded car seat. But those words just kept spinning in his head.

...‘fucking clones’...

The trip to his apartment was done in a daze and locking the door behind him, Victor went straight to the bathroom and threw up. He knelt on that cold tiled floor, his guts heaving, his mind spinning and all he could think was...

...‘fucking clones’...

Climbing to his feet, Victor washed out his mouth, spitting the soiled water into the wash basin. As he looked up he caught sight of his face in the mirror and stared at those familiar features... and all he could see were those hate filled green eyes, madness and hate flowing from them into his soul as he had stood there looking into that white room.

Going into the living room, Victor collapsed onto the sofa. Resting his elbows on his knees, Victor buried his face into his hands. He was Victor Mansfield. His mother’s name had been Alice Victor-Mansfield, and his dad’s name had been Thomas Keith Mansfield. He was a cop, a detective. He remembered his fifth birthday party, when Missy Perkins threw his new GI Joe in the mud. He remembered going to his parents’ graveside after he recovered from the car accident that killed them three years ago... he remembered... He Remembered! He Was Victor Keith Mansfield!

"Hah," he muttered after a long moment, "I know who I am." Victor jumped to his feet and started to go through the draws in his desk. Receipts and bills started to pile up on top of the desk. With shaking hands, Victor pulled out his tax returns for the last ten years, (you never knew when the Taxation Department was going to drop in). Flicking back over the copies he kept for his own records, Victor found himself calming down. Here was Victor Mansfield, all in black and white: 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990... Victor stopped, and flicked back to the tax return for ‘93. Then he reached out and picked up the return for ‘91. They where exactly the same, even down to the amount of overtime he did. Flicking back through the others, he couldn’t find any other similarly... but how did he get an exact duplicate in his ‘91 and ‘93 tax return? "I remember filling these things out... but I don’t remember this... it’s impossible," whispered Victor, "I can’t believe that I would earn exactly the same amount of money like that, it’s just impossible. Must have been a mistake... must have been..."

...‘fucking clones’’...

"My apartment..." Again, Victor went through the papers until he found the buff coloured envelope holding the lease. "Five years," he muttered to himself, "I signed this thing for five years in ‘93." Pulling the folded paper free, Victor unfolded it and flicked the pages until he came to place he’d signed it. And there was his signature. His signature, V. K. Mansfield. "Okay, so this is real..." He folded the papers carefully and put it to one side. He then went through the credit card receipts and looked at each one – they were dated from the when he’d first got a credit card to now. He remembered all of the big purchases, the lounge suite, the crystal and china ware, some of the artwork that dotted the wall of his apartment... and Li Ann’s engagement ring...

-oo0oo-

Mac sat at Li Ann’s computer and started to break into it. He knew Li Ann as well as any soul on earth and he knew just what choices she would employ as a password. After using her birthday, his birthday, Vic’s birthday, Mac punched in six numbers and winced. The date he’d finally entered was the day Li Ann had thought he had ‘died’. Digging through the innards, Mac worked through all the programs... Li Ann had become noticeably chummy with the Director – well, as chummy as any living person could be to a cold, unfeeling, leather wearing bitch, so maybe his ex-lover had more access to information than either he or Vic.

Thievery didn’t just mean stealing things, it also meant stealing ideas. And Mac was really good at stealing... really good. Scrolling through the information, Mac copied anything that looked viable onto the disk he’d brought along. He’d go over the stuff later, in private.

Mac sat there copying the files, remembering how lost Victor had looked just because some crazy look-alike (God, but that prisoner was the image of Victor, that little prick-teaser) had spat out the word clone. Now there was any number of reasons why this psycho Krycek could look like Vic... any number of reasons... Long lost twin... a cousin from a different branch of the Mansfield family... or, they do say that everyone has a double in the world... But Christ, that guy had looked just like Vic.

Well, if everything else failed to get Vic out of this stupid idea about clones, Mac, like any good thief, had one more thing up his sleeve. Mac had done something that not even the Director had known about. That nutzoid had left one hell of a clear hand print on the door after he’d beaten the shit out of Mac just before he came face-to-face with Vic, and Mac had managed to get a imprint of it. Now all he needed to do is to, somehow, without Vic knowing about it, get an imprint of the ex-cop’s fingerprints.

-oo0oo-

Mac sat in front of his computer and used everything that his adoptive Father’s people had taught him. He picked, prodded and pulled apart every file he’d copied from Li Ann’s computer. Going deeper and deeper into the files. Skipping from name to name, date to date, Mac came across something that had him pausing. He’d copied everything in the Director’s hard-drive that had anything to do with the search pattern he’d set in motion, and here he was with something that shocked him. A computer game... why would a person like the Director have a computer game called ‘Attack Of The Killer Clones’ in her Work Data Base? Clicking onto it, Mac tried to call the game up, but got a signpost that told him that it was a ‘read only’ file. Uh-uh...

Opening it up, Mac started to skim through the innards of the program, trying to figure out if it was something other than a game. The part of Mac that made him the best thief he could be, looked at that first page, over and over... Then something clicked. Running his finger down the line of first characters on the far left of the screen, Mac started to smile. Pulling a note book out of the desk draw, Mac started to scribble everything down. It was so simple... and yet unless you knew the Director, you would never think to look at the innards of a simple game.

It took several hours for the ex-thief to pull everything, and Mac found files that contradicted other files... It was weird. Finally, he had several piles of paper on his desk. Leaning back, he bit his lip hard, staring at each and every pile. "File one," he muttered to himself. "Victor is a normal guy, a cop who wouldn’t look the other way. The nice, squeaky clean, aggravating guy that we all know and love. File two," he moved his hand across to another pile. "File two, Victor is in actual fact, Alex Krycek’s brother, used by some Shadowy Syndicate for some unknown reason, brainwashed after the accident that killed his and Krycek’s parents so that the brothers would forget about each other. File three..." Mac lifted that pile of papers and slowly read through them, this was the hardest to find information, the stuff from that silly game, the stuff that hit Mac the hardest.

In this file, it explained that Victor Mansfield was a thing: ‘merchandise’, as the file called him. That he had been grown from cells taken from one Alex Krycek, then programmed over a long period of time to believe that he had a mother and father that were killed in a car accident that he had also been involved in. "Good touch, that," mused Mac, always willing to praise a good con job. Victor would wake up in the hospital, his memory a jumble from the so-called accident, not suspecting that he wasn’t who he thought he was. Mac felt the anger start to burn deep in his chest. To do something like that, to act like God, to create a guy like Victor for their own purposes... but the file didn’t say what that purpose was and while part of Mac wanted to know, another part shied away from the thought of knowing.

"But what the hell do I tell Victor?" muttered Mac as he stared at each file. One could hurt the man, and one could completely destroy him... Mac picked up the clone file, as well as the other two and went over to the fire place. He burnt each and every page individually, then crushed the ashes. Then going back over to the computer he copied every file but the game onto his hard disk and transferred them onto another disk. Taking the disk that had the game that held the clone file on it, Mac destroyed it completely, going as far as to melt the plastic to a bubbling mass, causing the apartment to stink. Hiding the newly copied disk, Mac cleared the memory of his computer, then tidied up.

Was Victor a clone of Alex Krycek’s? Was that kind of thing at all possible? Mac didn’t know, but he’d seen the devastation in Victor’s face after hearing Krycek’s words, and he didn’t want to see that look back in those green eyes. Coming to another decision, Mac leaned against his computer until it slid off the desk and fell heavily to the floor with a loud crash. "Tut tut," muttered Mac, "I seemed to have broken my computer." Gathering up the bits and pieces, Mac tossed them into a box and left it by the door, he’d destroy it properly later. The ex-thief knew of three different ways of pulling erased files out of a computer data base. And if he knew that, then Mac knew that there were people out there that could do even better.

There was no way in hell that Victor was going to find out what Mac suspected. And if anyone tried to tell the man that he was in actual fact a clone, Mac would cheerfully take the bastard out!

Mac threw a look across the room, to where he’d hidden the acrylic film that had Krycek’s hand print on it... he’d get a copy of Victor’s prints in the morning, then if what he suspected was true, the hand print would go the way of the other evidence.

-oo0oo-

Victor carefully folded up the papers, slipping them back into their proper places in the desk draws. He was himself. He was Victor Mansfield. He wasn’t some ...‘fucking clones’...Victor pushed that hate filled voice away... He wasn’t some clone of a looney prisoner. He was who he was! Just as he finished putting his desk in order, the front door bell chimed. Running a hand over his hair, and taking a deep breath he walked to the door to answer it.

-oo0oo-

Mac looked at the calm-faced man in front of him and frowned a little. "Vic, you okay?"

 ...‘fucking clones’...

Victor tried to make the smile he gave his partner as natural as he could. "Of course I’m all right. Why shouldn’t I be?"

"Ahh, that nutzoid Krycek..."

"Him? Don’t worry about it. Like you said, he was a nutter."

Victor turned away from the door, and so didn’t see the worried look in Mac’s eyes intensify. The disk Mac held in his hand was gently pushed out of sight and he walked into Vic’s apartment like he owned it, like he always did. If Vic wanted to deny everything, Mac would wait until the questions started to eat away at his partner again. Even though what he now felt for Vic was nothing like his early antipathy, Mac didn’t want to destroy what little companionship that had built up between him and the other man.

-oo0oo-

"Vic thinks he doesn’t want to know the truth," muttered Mac to himself as he went through the preparation of checking the two palm prints, "but then sooner or later I know that the truth will hit him in the face and I need to be prepared to help the fool". A fool who had become rather special even though he was too straight for his own good.

Mac stared at the hand print on the acrylic film, then at the one he’d taken from Victor’s water glass. Holding the magnifying glass as steadily as he could, Mac looked from one to the other. "Shit... ah shit..." Picking up the two pieces of acrylic, Mac moved over to the fire place and fumbled with the box of matches. The stink from the melting acrylic filled Mac’s apartment. His head down, Mac slowly walked into the bathroom. Splashing his face with a handful of cold water, Mac looked at his reflection. "Poor bastard."

-oo0oo-

Several weeks later...

The meeting between himself, his partners, and the Director had finished just as the horizon became pink with the sunrise. Only stopping to pick up a couple of papers, Mac headed for home, a quick bite and maybe a couple of hour’s sack-time.

As the coffee bubbled away, Mac sat down and picked up the top paper. Flicking it open, Mac read the paper, and his face paled. Jumping to his feet, he grabbed his car keys and was in the lift heading to the car-park even before his front door swung closed. When he got to Vic’s apartment, he leaned against the bell until he heard movement on the other side of the door. A sleepy eyed, half naked Vic stared out at him and Mac felt something in his chest curl into a tight knot. God, but he was beautiful.

"What?" growled the fuming man. "What couldn’t wait until later? Jees, Mac, I only just managed to drop off!"

Placing his hand on that warm chest, Mac pushed the still sleepy man backwards until he pushed him straight into a chair. Shoving the paper into Vic’s hands, he growled out, "Read," before heading to the bar and pouring Vic a double.

Frowning at the weird behaviour of his partner, (well, weirder then usual) Victor straightened the paper with a flick of his hands and stared at the headlines for about thirty seconds before they sunk in. Then in a kind of dazed shock, Victor started to read the front page story, his eyes flicking to the colour photo of FBI agent Alex Krycek then back to the words over and over. Something was shoved into his hand and when he saw the whisky glass, he quickly knocked back the liquid, not even feeling the kick the whisky gave him as it hit his system.

Mac took the empty glass back to the bar and filled the glass again before giving it back to the pale-faced man. Then he moved to stand behind the sofa and started to rub those tensed shoulders. This was the first time Mac had let himself touch Vic since he didn’t know when, and he wasn’t too sure if he should now, but the fear in those green eyes made his chest hurt and he had to do something to help the man.

"It was true," came the whisper as Victor let the paper drop out of his limp hands. "What he called me...’

...’fucking clones’...

"It was all true..." the voice was a breath of sound.

Mac moved around the sofa until he was sitting beside the shocked man. "Now hold on one second, Vic, that guy was under sedation when he broke out of that room. He might very well have been crazy with the drugs..." Lie to him, Mac, that little voice told him, see how upset he is, lie like the devil.

"Look at this," snarled the slim, half naked man. "Look at that face... that story. They used this guy and others for experiments... they did things to him." Victor pushed his face into shaking hands. "No wonder he went loopy in that room, with all that medical stuff around him."

...’fucking clones’...

That word started to come back again and haunt the ex-cop again. "Do you...?" Victor looked at the man he’d always thought as his adversary. "Do you think he and I are...?"

Mac stood up and stalked across the apartment. Lie, you jerk, lie. Can’t you see he’s hurting... "Christ, you’re acting as insane as Krycek. Listen to me, you idiot, you might look like him but you’re nothing like him. Well, are you? That guy almost killed me... Hell, if I hadn’t left him a quick way out, I’d probably be just a memory about now, and you might very well be married to Li Ann! Now can you tell me that you would act like that?"

Victor looked over to the angry man (Why was Mac acting so weird?) and then picked up the paper. "You read what they did to him," he whispered, "What they did to his head. How do you know he wasn’t like me before all that was done to him?"

Mac closed his eyes, and rubbed the back of his neck. Don’t tell him the truth, Mac, don’t tell him... "For crying out loud, Vic, will you listen to yourself? You’re sitting there arguing that you are a clone of some FBI agent. For Christ’s sake, that would make you only a couple of years old! And you’re obviously not." Mac paced across the room, then back. "Look, I can prove you’re not a clone of this Krycek, okay."

"How?" spat out the still pale-faced Victor, "How the hell are you going to do that?"

"I managed to get hold of some files from the Work Data Base," Mac held up a hand to stop Victor from speaking, "Don’t ask me how, but I did. You don’t own a computer do you? So we can head down to the Complex, load the thing and..."

"No," shot out the ex-cop, "I’m staying right away from the office, and the Director."

"What?"

"Think about it, Mac," growled Victor as he started to pace now. "If anyone in the world knows about my past, who comes to mind?"

"Oh..."

"Yeah," nodded Victor as he turned away from Mac and headed back into the bedroom to pull on a pair of jeans and a clean tee-shirt. "The Director would know everything there was to know about me. I am not going anywhere near her until I find out the truth."

"So, where?"

"The one place they would never think to look for me... Your apartment." Grabbing up the damning paper, Victor headed out of the apartment and after a long dazed second, Mac followed.

"Do you think you can pick up a couple of other papers on the way to your place?" asked Victor as Mac drove out of the car park beneath Victor’s building.

"I can do even better," muttered Mac. "That American morning news show should be on about now. If we hurry, we’ll probably be able to see the real thing."

-oo0oo-

When Mac turned on the television set, and switched channels, Victor sunk into the sofa and stared at the screen like he was mesmerised. There was Alex Krycek, those green eyes – not so mad looking now – staring out at him. A dark haired FBI agent was trying to shield Krycek from the cameras but there were just too many. "Oh, shit," whispered Victor, "so much for my undercover work."

"Vic..."

"Damn it, Mac, look at that guy..." They both watched as Krycek walked, talked and nodded on the TV screen. "That’s me, that is me..."

Just then the phone rang and the two men jumped in surprise. After turning the volume down on the TV, Mac hurried across and picked up the receiver. "Li Ann... hi honey... Victor? Nope, haven’t seen your ex-fiance since we left the office. The news? You know I don’t like having the TV on first thing, Li Ann, remember? I should turn it on? Why, what’s happened? Krycek is on the news? Who’s Krycek? Oh, yeah the guy that almost ruined my hope of us becoming parents..."

Victor sat in the clutches of Mac’s sofa and fumed as he listened as the ex-thief flirted with his fiance, but his eyes didn’t leave the screen in front of him.

...’fucking clones’...

Mac hung up, after promising that he’d call if Vic contacted him. Turning around, Mac looked at the bundle of misery that sat on his sofa, thankful that he’d never told the man the truth after all. "Victor," he said softly as he walked back across the room, "How can you think that Li Ann fell in love with something that was a copy of that guy?" he nodded at the silent screen, "She fell in love with you and agreed to marry you. Now can you see a girl who was once in love with me, go for some clone?"

...’fucking clones’...

Victor scrubbed at his face, "I don’t know, Mac, I just don’t know..."

"Look, like I told you at your apartment, I got a copy of some files from the Data Base at work..."

Victor looked up at the man standing bedside the sofa. "You did? Why?"

Mac just shook his head and went over to where he’d hidden the disk all that time ago. "Go and sit at the computer, and we’ll go through the files together."

With the TV still on, Victor sat down in front of Mac’s computer -- Mac’s new computer. Dragging a chair behind him, Mac sat down beside his agitated partner. Shoving the disk into the drive, Mac started to go through the files.

One by one they scrolled the names on the screen until Victor leaned forward.

"That one," he said, pointing at the one headed, Dr Berube 11/21/93 – 5/6/94. "I know that name... he was there at the hospital..." Victor reached out and gently touched the screen, his finger running across the name. "He was there, with me in the hospital, when I woke up after that accident, when they... when my folks died... And that date... the 21st of November 1993, that’s the date of the car accident... but I was in a coma for nearly six months, I woke up in May of ‘94..." Again Victor touched the computer screen.

Mac sat there, feeling the warmth of the distressed man seep through his shirt, where their shoulders touched. "What happened?" he asked quietly as he started to access the file.

"It was a pile-up on the A-1. I’d come home for a break, before starting at my new job. Dad was driving and Mum was sitting beside him. I was in the back seat, laughing at his dumb jokes..." Victor’s voice fell to a whisper, "Dad used to tell the oldest jokes on the planet and yet they always seemed funny when he told them."

Mac sat there, thinking: Oh God, ohgodohgod, those bastards did a good job on the poor little bugger, didn’t they... The TV was whispering in the background, and Victor hurting beside him, so Mac decided it was time to start the ball rolling. "I’ve got to get you out of here!" he growled as that face appeared on the screen yet again.

Victor looked tiredly up at his partner. "What are you going on about?"

Without replying, Mac headed for his bedroom. Grabbing a bag out of the closet, he started to throw gear into it. "Those bastards are killing civilians, people who only knew bits and pieces... What do you think they’d do to you?"

"But I don’t know anything!" Victor followed Mac into the untidy bedroom.

"You know that and I know that, but they..." Mac waved a hand back towards the living room, where the TV still murmured, "...they don’t."

Nodding slowly, Victor rubbed at the back of his neck, "I’ll have to go back to my place and get some stuff."

"No," shot out Mac as he reached into the closet for another bag. Into this he tossed some more clothes, things of his that would fit the shorter man. "No, we can’t take that chance. The Director might even be watching us now. We have to get in the car and head to Washington. We need to see those two guys: Mulder and Skinner. If anyone knows the truth, they will."

Mac pushed the bag he’d packed for Victor into the ex-cop’s limp hands, then he picked up the other and headed back into the living room. That dazed look still drifted in those green eyes and it hurt Mac to see it there. "Look, we’ll take the disk, okay?" Mac put a gentle hand on his partner’s shoulder and was thankful to see Vic take a deep breath and nod.

"Okay." Victor followed Mac out of the apartment and along the hall to the lift. "How are we going to get in and see those FBI guys? They must be getting crank calls from all over the place."

"Hey," shrugged Mac as he pushed the down button, "leave it to me, I’ll think of something."

Victor shook his head, but followed the ex-thief into the lift. He didn’t have much choice in the matter. He had to find the truth, he had to...

-oo0oo-

The Director sat behind her desk and looked at the phone number on a piece of paper. She had known as soon as she had seen who Skinner had brought for her to guard that she should have shipped Mansfield and Ramsey to the Yukon, but it was too late now for useless conjecture, much too late. Everything had hit the fan in Washington and she didn’t want to get slapped in the face with what was flying around. Coming to a decision, the dark haired woman slipped the piece of paper into the shredder and watched as the machine destroyed her only contact with the Project. Then she reached across and picked up the phone. It took only a moment for her to call off the retrieval teams she’d sent after Ramsey and Mansfield. Then she turned to her computer and started to erase certain files. "Li Ann might be hard to handle," mused the Director, "but not impossible." It hadn’t been all that hard to seduce the woman away from those two school-boys, not hard at all...

Finally the Director sat back and stared at the blank screen in front of her. Mac Ramsey and Victor Mansfield had belonged to her once, body and soul, now... now they belonged to no one, not even themselves.

-oo0oo-

A clock on a desk somewhere in the darkness struck only once as Mac and Victor, both dressed in deepest black, with ski masks in place, made their way through the dark halls of the FBI Headquarters. Mac was the best at what he could do, and Victor had been a most able student.

The two men drifted their way through the building. Mac had, from God only knows where, produced a copy of the building plans so that the two men knew exactly where they were going. When they reached Assistant Director Walter S. Skinner’s suite, Mac carefully opened the door to the outer office and they silently slid along the wall until they stood still and silent beside the door to the inner sanctum.

Voices – words muted and hushed – came through the door. Neither man could hear what was being said. Then the sound of muffled footsteps moved towards them and the door and Mac lifted a finger to his lips. He pulled the mask off and watched as Victor did the same. The two men they wanted to talk to had both been hunted by that shadowy syndicate they where helping to bring down and neither would take kindly to two masked men dressed in black. Mac motioned Victor to close his eyes, so as the door opened neither man was blinded by the light, while the two men walking out of the light were blind in that dark office.

"Look, Mulder," said the man Mac knew to be Skinner, "Krycek’s a grown man. If he thinks he’ll be okay out there, then he’ll be okay. You know very well how he got out of the safe house and as Sandy there wouldn’t be a soul looking for him. Don’t take a chance of putting anyone on his tail."

 Sandy? mused Mac, then he grabbed Vic’s arm and moved into the light. They held their hands open and at chest level. "Hi there," was all Mac got out because the two FBI agents suddenly swung around, guns in their hands pointed right at him and Vic. In a kind of shock, Mac watched as Mulder (according to all the TV stories anyway) shoved his gun away and reached out and pulled Victor into his arms.

"Alex! Where the hell have you been?"

Before the man could do anything else, Mac reached out and rather violently pulled his partner out of the dark haired man’s arms. "Hey, you’ve got one of your own, leave mine alone," he snarled out before he could stop himself.

"Mulder, hold on a second – that’s not Alex." This was from the Skinner guy.

Mulder stood staring at the figure dressed in black, who’s arm was still being held tightly by the other man in black. "You’re right, sir, he is different; slighter, darker..."

Victor shook off Mac’s disturbing hold and took a step forward. "Alex Krycek was held in protective custody by our organisation," he said, looking into sad hazel green eyes that seemed to be pulling him apart piece by piece. "He escaped for a short time and I saw him... and he saw me." Victor took a deep breath, "He said something, and I need to know if it’s true or not."

...‘fucking clones’...

"Clone," muttered Mulder and watched as the slimmer version of his missing lover winced. Then he watched as the man’s companion moved up beside the look-alike. He felt a curl of jealousy in his chest and pushed it away. This wasn’t Alex, this was someone else, maybe something else.

"Do you know what he’s talking about?" growled Mac, hating the way the other man looked at his partner. This is it, Mac he told himself, play this right and Victor will get the truth I want him to have. Mac watched as Mulder and Skinner looked at one another then at Victor. He moved a fraction closer to his pale-faced partner, there was no way he was going to let Victor out of his sight. No way.

"Come into the office," said Skinner as he waved a hand back through the open door.

Victor looked across at Mac, and something deep inside the ex-thief melted at that look in those green eyes. "Come on, Vic, let’s go." Placing his hand on the small of Vic’s back, Mac gently pushed his partner after the Assistant Director. Part of him noticed that Mulder followed after them, at least four steps behind as he manoeuvred Vic into the well lit office.

-oo0oo-

Mulder watched as the two men in black moved into the centre of the room, and yet they stood in such a way that the two of them could see every inch of the room and every move he or Skinner might make. "Who are you?" he asked as he leaned back against the closed door. Mulder watched as the one with the ears looked at Alex’s look-alike then back at Mulder.

"My name’s Ramsey, Mac Ramsey, this is Victor Mansfield. Like Vic said, we work... worked for the Director and we came in contact with Agent Krycek when he was held incommunicado at our Complex."

Watching the almost invisible wince on the tall man’s face, part of Mulder remembered how he had wished whoever had custody of his lover well. It seemed that they had enjoyed Krycek’s stay as much as Mulder had enjoy not being with his lover.

"You work for... for the Director?" murmured Skinner, almost saying her name as he mentally got the upper hand on the two black clad men by moving behind his desk. "Wait a minute," Skinner sat down, staring hard at the visitors. "She said that two of her operatives where injured when Krycek tried to escape?"

"Yeah," muttered Mac as he pushed Vic into a seat. That other guy was getting on his nerves, if he didn’t stop staring at Victor like that, Mac knew he was going to beat the shit out of the bastard. "Like Vic said, that Krycek guy went through us like we where a couple of wet paper bags... and he said something, something that only the two of us heard. He called Vic here a clone."

Before Mac could go on, Victor lifted his head and looked into those staring green eyes of the FBI agent called Mulder. "He just about took my head off, called me a fucking clone and ran... they caught him before he could get away, but when I managed to get to him, talk to him, he said..."

Mac stared wide eyed at the man beside him. Victor hadn’t said a word about going to see Krycek.

"He said that They hadn’t told me what I was..." Victor rubbed his hands together, the leather gloves softly squeaking in the quiet room. "He called me trash, told me that he should have killed me when he had the chance... that he didn’t want them cutting him again..."

Mac stared in horror as Vic’s voice got softer and softer.

Listening to Mansfield’s words, Mulder shot a hard look across at Skinner. So much for keeping Krycek in a safe place, muttered a deep part of Mulder. Then he caught sight of what the words did to Mansfield’s partner. The man had paled, his eyes closed and his face tight with pain, and Mulder noticed that the Assistant Director was staring hard at the double, as if he could see inside him.

"And he kept calling me a clone, a fucking clone... God," groaned Victor, jumping to his feet, and starting to pace, "I can hear those two words echoing over and over inside my head! Do either one of you have any idea what the hell is going on?"

Mac stood up and gently moved Vic back to his seat. "Can you shed some light on this? It’s eating him alive to find out the truth." My truth...

"You’ve been watching the news?" asked Skinner quietly.

"When we could get to a TV, mostly we’ve been reading the papers as we drove here." Mac rubbed his hand gently over his partner’s back, softly caressing that black clad muscle.

Mulder watched as Mac Ramsey touched his Victor... Was it true? Was Victor Mansfield really a clone of his lover? Without thinking about it, Mulder walked slowly across the room until he was standing beside Victor’s chair.

Mac jumped in shock as Mulder suddenly appeared beside Vic, his hand reaching out to touch his partner’s chin. As he was about to shove the man away, Skinner held up a hand and said, "Wait." So he waited.

Mulder lifted that face into the light, looking down into fear filled green eyes. That chin... Mulder remembered running his tongue over a chin just like that. And those lips, those perfect, perfect lips... he remembered kissing and nipping lips that looked just like that. But the eyes... Mulder looked into those eyes, windows to the soul, and saw a person, a being that wasn’t in anyway like Alex Krycek. Those eyes were the eyes of a man who had seen a lot in his long life, his long, normal life.

"Well, Mulder?"

"I... I don’t think so, sir. Not that I’m much of an expert, but from what I’ve learnt and discovered during my investigations, there is no way they could give this man what I see in those eyes."

"And what do you see?" growled Mac as he reached out and grasped the FBI man’s wrist, gently pulling Vic’s chin free of Mulder’s hold.

"Life. A lifetime of thoughts, memories, regrets..."

"But Krycek seemed so sure..."

Mulder smiled down at the man staring hopefully up at him. "If you’ve seen the papers, you’d have read that Alex Krycek had been mentally re-programmed many times. He might very well think you are a clone and yet all you might be is a distant relative."

Now Mac didn’t like the way Vic was staring at Mulder! To break the bond forming between the two men, he jumped to his feet and pushed pass the them. Placing a disk on the desk in front of Skinner he pushed it across to the seated man with one finger. "I got these out of the Director’s files, I thought they might have something useful on them. Vic’s recognised a name... a Dr Berube caught his eye when we were looking them over. And the dates next to the name meant something as well." He caught the look the two men shared. "You know the name?"

"Yes, it’s come up in our investigations."

Mac looked from Mulder to Skinner, and back again, they were hiding something. "Do you think it’s safe for Victor to be seen in public? We were extremely careful getting here."

Mulder thought about it for a long moment. "If they see him, they’ll just think it’s Alex, and at this moment in time, all the media hype is Alex’s best protection... but if they know that you aren’t Krycek..." Mulder shrugged.

Mac jumped on that. "So you think Vic’s mixed up in this shit somehow, even if he’s not a clone?"

"The Committee worked on a lot of different things, cloning was only one..." mused Skinner as he sat back in his seat. "How did you get in here?" he asked.

"Like I said," muttered Mac, "we worked for the Director. I used to be a thief," he looked up and smiled at Skinner. "And a damn good one too. Your security isn’t anything to write home about, you know."

‘Damn,’ Skinner made a mental note to himself, ‘Better get that seen to, first thing,’ "Hey," smirked Mac, "I’ve robbed places that even today don’t know they’ve been hit. Your security is good," he shrugged, "just not good enough, that’s all."

Skinner stared hard at the ex-thief, then he picked up the disk, rubbing at the rough plastic. "Mulder, you take this, use the computer in the outer office," Skinner handed him the disk. "See what you can find." He turned back to Mac and the hopeful Victor. "You two stay in here, I’ve got to go check a few things out." Like make a phone call to a certain leather clad female, added Skinner silently. "Mulder? Is Scully still in the building?"

"She’s downstairs trying to catch up on some paperwork."

"Get her up here to check out our visitor, we might as well keep this all in the family."

-oo0oo-

Scully, who’d only received a sketchy explanation from her partner over the phone stood and stared at the two men dressed in black. "Oh God," she muttered, "not another one!"

"Scully, this is important," shot out Mulder. "I need you to take Mr Mansfield here and examine him. I want everything, blood type, DNA profile, anything and everything. Understand?"

Scully sighed and nodded, another weekend shot to hell. "Okay, Mr Mansfield, if you’d come this way..."

Mac followed after the woman and his partner, but felt Mulder’s hand on his arm, trying to halt him.

"Hold on a sec, Mr Ramsey..."

"Call me Mac," snarled Mac, pulling his arm free of that grasp, moving after the red head and Victor. "But call me later... I’m not letting Victor out of my sight."

Mulder shrugged and went back to the computer, he could question the men later, neither were going anywhere in a hurry. As he pushed the disk into the drive, he wondered briefly if Victor Mansfield knew that his partner was in love with him.

The file that Ramsey had told him about was easily found and even though it was encrypted, it wasn’t a code that gave the FBI man a lot of trouble. Finally pressing the print command, Mulder watched as the laser printer copied the pages he wanted. Lifting the first page, Mulder let his eyes skim across the paper...

"The Mansfield family were perfect for observation. With both being medical personnel, he an MD and she a nurse, both were used to constant medical checks in the course of their work...

...It was startling that Victor Mansfield chose the career of law enforcement after graduating from college..."

"Startling," mused Mulder out loud, "why startling?"

"...but the Project thought that it was worthwhile to let the merchandise act with at least a semblance of free will."

"Merchandise," hissed Mulder, remembering his father’s words. "Merchandise!"

"When the subject labelled Krycek was exposed to the Kindred, all further progress on the Project was halted and Victor Mansfield was placed in a safe haven under watchful eyes."

With hot, hungry eyes, Mulder kept reading as the pages printed... This was almost as good as the stuff they had from Krycek’s videos. A lot of those doctor’s squawking about coercion were about to be silenced. Mulder smiled, and it wasn’t a nice smile, no, not at all...

-oo0oo-

Closing the door behind Victor, Mac wandered across the room, Agent Scully had done all the tests that he thought she would... good. Then Mac stared at the closed door, mentally urging Mulder on to find the files he’d left there. That’s it, Mr FBI, find that truth I want you to, and tell it to Victor.

-oo0oo-

Victor collapsed back on his seat, his head tipping forward to hide his face. God, he wished he was alone so he could really let himself loose it... he was so relieved that these people, especially Mulder, who seemed to know quite a lot about it, didn’t think he was a clone. As he sat there, he felt Mac move back to stand beside him.

"You okay, Vic?"

His partner’s soft question and the gentle touch as Victor felt the man’s hand rest on his shoulder had the ex-cop closing his eyes tighter, clenching his jaw, trying to hide everything that was churning in his chest. Then he felt the warmth from Mac’s body as his partner sat on the arm of Victor’s chair. Not being able to stop himself, Victor found himself leaning into that heat.

"See," came the whisper, "see, I told you. You’re not that nutzoid’s clone." Mac let his arm lift and he rested it across Vic’s shoulder as he moved that final couple of centimetres towards him.

Victor let loose a soggy chuckle, feeling the warm touch of Mac’s hand as it smoothed over his shoulder. "You enjoyed that, didn’t you?"

"What?" murmured Mac as he closed his eyes, he was touching Vic and the man wasn’t pushing him away.

"Saying, ‘I told you so’, like that."

"Hey," muttered Mac as he let his hand rub a little harder, "did I say that?"

Victor let his head drop a little further, enjoying the touch without realising it. As Vic’s neck was bared, Mac found himself staring at his partner’s nape, that smooth stretch of skin somehow calling to his twitching fingers. Then he frowned. "Victor," he murmured, "What’s this?" With a gentle finger he touched a small bandaid that was low on the back of Victor’s neck.

"Hmm, what?" muttered Victor as he pulled himself away from his thoughts. "What?" Reaching back, Victor touched the bandaid. "Oh, that. There’s a scar there, it’s left over from that accident I told you about. Agent Scully found a piece of metal, or something in it." Victor forgot about the scar and found himself leaning even harder into the warmth of the man beside him. Only now, after Agent Mulder told him that he might not be a clone of Krycek’s, only now, did Victor realise just how tired he was. "Mac?" he murmured quietly

"Yeah, Vic?"

"Did you get the idea that Mulder and Krycek are... well, are close?"

Mac hid a smile as he climbed to his feet and moved to rest his rump against the edge of Skinner’s desk. "I’d say they were close," replied Mac. "I’d say they were lovers."

"How do you know?"

"By the way Mulder keeps staring at you. Undressing you with his eyes, touching you."

"He’s doing what?" yelped the ex-cop, staring at his partner wide-eyed.

Mac leaned forward, his hands resting on his thighs. "He looked at you like this..." And Mac let everything he felt for this stupid, straight-laced jerk show in his eyes for a long moment and he saw the blush bloom under that beautiful skin.

"He didn’t look at me like that!"

"Yes, he did." Mac moved forward and touched Vic’s chin like Mulder had done earlier, his finger tips brushing against the warm flesh.

"And... and he didn’t touch me like that either..." stuttered Victor, staring at his softly smiling partner. Mac was acting weirder then usual and part of Victor was waiting for the joke to erupt.

"Oh, he touched you like this all right and he wanted to do a lot more as well."

"More?" whispered Victor, looking into eyes that held no sight of the usual teasing he expected from this man.

"Oh, a whole lot more..." murmured Mac as he lowered his head and pressed his lips against those of the trembling man sitting in front of him.

"Mac..."

Mac felt Vic’s lips move against his own as his partner said his name. Moving upright, he pulled Vic up out of the chair. "Yeah? What, Victor?" Moving backwards, Mac rested his rump back on Skinner’s desk, pulling Vic between his open thighs.

"I don’t think Agent Mulder did this," came the whispered words as Victor stood so close to all that heated body.

"You don’t think so?" Mac pulled him closer, resting his forearms across the upper curve of that gorgeous rear end. "Well, what about this?" And he kissed Victor again, harder, hotter, hungrier.

Victor didn’t know what to do with his hands... part of him was waiting for Mac to yell out ‘April fool!’ while another part just wanted him to close his eyes and go with the flow. But Victor knew Mac Ramsey too well to let the man get away with anything. Give the ex-thief an inch and he’d just about walk away with... oh, god... everything...

Mac felt Victor’s hands on his shoulders, pushing at him, trying to pull back out of his arms. Thinking that the man just wanted to breathe, Mac lifted his mouth away from Victor’s perfect lips, running little soft kisses across flushed cheeks.

"Mac... Mac! For God’s sake, Mac, will you stop this..." panted Victor as he pulled in a lung full of air.

"Why?" came the panting reply.

"What about Li Ann?"

Mac laughed softly then ran a gentle tongue over fluttering eyelashes. "Li Ann is back at the Complex with the Director... And I finally have you just where I want you..."

"Mac, what are you talking about? Please..." Victor felt Mac’s arm tighten around his waist, the man’s hands rubbing against the black wool of his sweater.

Mac pulled back only a little, enjoying the feeling of Victor leaning, resting against his chest. "Do you remember when I’d bring Li Ann all those white roses?"

Victor nodded, his own hands moving up to rest on Mac’s chest, trying to get more space between them, but only causing Mac’s blood pressure to rise.

"You’d go out and buy red roses to try and get ahead..." He leant forward and kissed Victor again, "And the two of us would stand there side by side holding those stupid roses... God, you looked gorgeous holding those things..."

Victor pushed hard against Mac’s chest, trying not to feel those heavy muscles under his hands. "Do you mean to tell me, you bought Li Ann roses just so you could look at me holding red roses?"

Mac started to nuzzle the soft skin under Victor’s right ear. "Yeah," he hissed, causing Victor to shudder as that hot breath ran down his neck.

"But what..." Victor wiggled as Mac’s hands managed to creep under the sweater and rub against his back. "...but what about Li Ann?" He didn’t hear his voice come out as a squeak, but Mac did.

Li Ann, mused Mac silently, prefers the orchids the Director gives her. Mac moved over to the other ear, loving the way Victor moved his head sideways so that his partner could get to it easily. "I thought Li Ann was dead for a long time, Victor. It wasn’t until I saw her in the Complex that I realised she was alive." Mac pulled away from the sweet taste of his partner’s skin and he looked into Victor’s dazed, green eyes. "I thought I’d lost someone who meant everything to me, Victor, and yet, when I finally got close to her again, without you being around, I found myself talking to a stranger."

"But, Mac..." Victor groaned, his eyes closing as Mac’s hands found that spot on his lower back that loved to be rubbed. "...she’s my fiancee, I’m engaged to her...I ... God, Mac... I love her..."

"Do you, Victor?" muttered Mac, as he rested his forehead against Victor’s. "Does it feel like you’re engaged to her, does it feel like you love her..." Mac stopped talking, and pulled Victor back against his chest. "Does this feel like you love her, Victor..." And Mac kissed Victor with everything that had grown inside him since he’d realised just why he was always touching his partner. All those silly slapping battles, the scuffles... all because he wanted to feel the hard flesh of a man who didn’t realise just what had formed in the heart of the brash ex-thief.

Mac fed on the taste of Victor’s lips and flushed skin. The man had finally lifted his arms and put them around his partner’s shoulders and Mac let a smile pull at his lips between kisses. Victor was a sensual man... Li Ann would never have let him into her bed if he hadn’t been. Mac knew just what his former lover liked in a bed-partner and he lured the man in his arms with that knowledge until Vic was completely caught up in the passion. And he also knew that Victor had not been sharing her bed much lately. He was no fool, he had watched the Director stalk and catch Li Ann, and he’d almost sent the Director roses as a thank you... almost.

So because of the Director’s hunger for Li Ann, he had one ravenous Victor Mansfield in his arms. Twisting around, Mac moved until it was Victor with his rump on the desk and Mac was standing between Vic’s spread thighs. Kissing Victor’s firm lips, licking at them, nipping at them, Mac didn’t let the other man realise what he was doing until Victor found himself flat on top of Skinner’s desk, with a hot, heavy Mac on top of him.

Pulling away from his partner’s hungry mouth, Victor pressed his hands against Mac’s chest for the second time in as many minutes and again he felt the heavy muscle move under the smooth black material. Lifting his eyes from watching his hands rest against Mac’s chest, Victor was caught in his partner’s gaze, like a fly in a spider’s web. "Let me up..." His voice came out as a breathless whisper and his fingers didn’t so much push against that chest as feel it.

"You wanna be on top, Victor?" came Mac’s soft reply, "Sure, next time..." And Mac swooped again. Mac felt his partner’s hands clench into the fabric of his sweater, then move up around his shoulders, pulling him closer. Mac let his hands start to wander over the feast beneath him, and soon enough, his tricky hands found their way back to that hard body hidden beneath the clothing.

Victor pulled his head back, trying to gather enough strength to breathe, letting it drop back onto the desk, surprised when Mac didn’t try to kiss him again. He closed his eyes, pulling in lung-fulls of air as Mac’s hands smoothed across his chest, then suddenly he felt those hands move in a way that shocked him.

Mac grabbed a double handful of the sweater that was covering Victor’s chest and pulled it upwards, baring all that pale skin to his eyes.

"Mac..." came Victor’s agonised groan, "what are you doing?"

But the man didn’t answer, he was too busy nuzzling into that pale, gorgeous skin. Flicking out his tongue to taste, Mac felt the man under him jerk.

"Oh, God, Mac, we can’t, not here..." came the breathless whisper.

"Shhh," murmured Mac as he made his way from the trembling stomach to the heaving chest, finding a few places to play with as he went. With his hands holding onto Victor’s waist, Mac used everything he had learnt as a youth on the ways to send a lover – male or female – through the ceiling. Victor’s hands slowly lost their grip on his shoulders and Mac felt them slide down until they landed on the desk with a muffled thump, to lay limp and open beside Victor’s twisting head. Trailing his lips back down Victor’s body, Mac flicked open the catch on the black pants Victor was wearing. Even as he slid an exploring hand into that open fly, all Victor could do was moan yet again.

Victor felt like he was cut loose from reality, what Mac was doing to him was unbelievable, insane... "Oh God," he was finally able to mutter through the intense pleasure sweeping through him, "Oh, God, Mac, that’s... wonderful..."

Lowering his head, his hands gently holding the base of that beautiful cock, cradling those swollen balls, Mac licked up that swelling length of his lover, feeling Victor’s shudders as he tasted and sucked. Moving his hand as he lowered and lifted his head, Mac listened to the whimpers coming from the man he was loving.

Mac felt the salvia filling his mouth trickle down his chin as he took in more of his lover. Then the half naked body spread out on the desk jerked and the groan from Victor filled the office as his cum filled Mac’s mouth, some of the liquid escaping as had the salvia.

Lifting his head, and still swallowing, Mac fumbled at his fly, freed his swollen cock and moved until he could lower himself down onto his limp lover. He felt the murmur of surprise come from Victor as he pressed his own hardness against his lover’s now limp genitals. Thrusting once, then twice, Mac felt his own release spill free.

Victor felt Mac shudder, and he cradled that heavy, trembling body close as the feeling of liquid spilled against his own sweat dampened body. Lifting his still heavy arms, Victor pushed his finger’s through Mac’s dark hair, lifting his head so that Victor could gently kiss those swollen lips, "Mac Ramsey?"

"...uhh..."

"You are insane, you know that?"

"Uhh uh..."

-oo0oo-

Mac left the sleeping Victor on the couch in Skinner’s office before slipping through the other door. The plans he’d acquired had told him of this exit from Skinner’s office. Slipping by the closed door to the outer office where Mulder worked away on the computer, pulling the files Mac wanted found, the ex-thief crept down the stairs to the rooms where Agent Scully was working. Unzipping the small, almost invisible pouch at his waist, Mac waited outside the door, waiting until the agent left one room to move into the other. On his hands and knees, he crept quietly into the room and made his way over to the counter where the woman had left Victor’s samples.

He’d made it his business to find out everything about the people who had been protecting Krycek, and from what he’d discovered, Mac knew that the hopelessly paranoid Mulder would use Scully to run the tests on Victor. Logical really, he mused to himself. He had everything in the pouch, ready to be exchanged. First the test tube with the blood sample, easy to pull the label off the original and put it on the sample of his own blood. Then the tissue sample, one plastic container for another... Crawling under the table and across the room, Mac reached up and worked the catch on the back of camera that Agent Scully had used to take a slide of Victor’s retinal pattern, slip out that cartridge, shove in the duplicate...This would work, this had to work.

-oo0oo-

"Well, Mulder," said Scully, trying not to stare too hard at the two men dressed in black. "Sorry this took so long, but from what I’ve been able to work on here and now, I can tell you this: Victor Mansfield is no clone of Krycek."

"But what are we?" jumped in Victor.

"I... have no idea. Related? Maybe. Brothers? Maybe. I’m still waiting for the comeback on the DNA profile... that will be the clincher." The red haired agent turned to her partner. "Do you remember when we first met Krycek? After his brush with the Kindred? He looked a lot like Victor then, his hair was dark, and he was much slimmer."

"Hmm, yeah," nodded Mulder. "And we thought he’d changed his appearance so that neither of us would recognise him." Mulder turned to Mansfield’s partner. "Mac? Can you both head back to Skinner’s office? I need to talk to Agent Scully for a few moments."

Mac shrugged, and pulled Victor along behind him.

Mulder waited until the two men had left before he turned back to his partner. "Okay, Scully, what else did you find?"

"This, Mulder." Taking a small plastic bottle from the table beside the examination table, Scully handed it to Mulder.

"Hey, this is..." Mulder held the bottle up to the light and looked at the small sliver of metal resting on the bottom of the bottle.

"Just like the one that was in the back of my neck," nodded Scully. "He’s been taken, just like I was, just like those women in Allantown. But I have no idea why."

"I do, Scully," Mulder pulled out his surprise and handed his partner the pages he’d copied from the disk Ramsey had given Skinner. He watched as Scully skimmed through the pages.

"This is unbelievable, Mulder. They killed his parents in a staged car accident then separated the pair of them, completely wiping all knowledge of each other from their minds... but why?"

Mulder shrugged, "I have no idea, Scully. Krycek and Mansfield might turn out to be twins. Maybe..." Mulder started to pace, "Maybe what they started with Krycek needed back-up of some kind... And if they failed with Krycek, they had someone on the sidelines, who after a few months in their hands, would believe that he was in fact Alex Krycek."

"That’s sick, Mulder..."

"You know, Scully, I think I’ll go back over those videos, a couple of them were too damaged to show the court, maybe some of those were of Mansfield, not Krycek."

-oo0oo-

Mac and Victor, both standing silent and still outside the door stared across at one another. Then, as Victor took off down the dark hall, Mac hurried after him, catching up with his partner in Skinner’s office. Mac had almost danced down the corridor as he’d chased after Victor. Yes! It worked, yesyesyesyes...

"Jesus," growled Victor, "This just seems to be getting worse and worse... I’m not Krycek’s clone, but I’m his brother? And if these guys did something to my head and made forget my own brother, what else did they do to me?" He looked wildly at his panting partner. "I don’t believe this, Mac... I refuse to believe this."

"Easy, Vic... easy," murmured Mac, You’re not his clone, believe that, Victor, because the almighty FBI told you so... "Well... well, at least you know you’re an original, not a clone."

"Yeah, I’m human, so what? I’ve had complete strangers rummaging around in my head and I have no idea if this..." Victor put his hands on his chest, "...if this is really me!"

Mac grabbed hold of those shaking hands and pulled the Canadian into his arms. "You are Victor Mansfield."

"But what if..."

"You are Victor Mansfield," repeated Mac as he pulled back and looked into those scared green eyes. "You came here, expecting to find out you were some kind of man-made monster. Well, you’re not! And that’s the end of it. Okay?" Mac pressed a hard kiss on those trembling lips. "Now, you might have to come to grips with the idea that you have a brother, right?" A nod of that head. "Okay, so that brother might be a nutzoid, but he is family, right?" Another nod. "And family is everything... Right?" Mac watched as Victor’s head nodded slowly again, but the worry in those eyes didn’t calm down. He had another worry on his mind, it was time to blow this joint. "Victor, you know how I said I didn’t like the way Agent Mulder was staring at you?" Mac loved the way that pale skin flushed as his partner remembered exactly what he was talking about.

"Umm, yeah..."

"I’m starting to worry about it again."

"Now what are you talking about?"

"Before he was looking at you and remembering Alex Krycek. When he was looking at you just now, it was different. I think we’re going to end up spread across the news just like your brother."

"Christ," muttered Victor as he sunk back into his seat. "You mean we’ll be mixed up in that damn circus? TV, newspapers, the lot?"

Mac nodded, moving back to his favourite spot on the desk. "From all we’ve read and seen on TV, it was Agent Mulder’s personal vendetta against... what did the papers call them? The Consortium. He wanted to bury them, and we might just be a couple of extra shovels for that FBI agent." That’s it, easy does it, plant the idea gently... "I think we should get out of here, before they lock us away, like they got the Director to do to Krycek." Mac saw the horror filled look in those green eyes and nodded.

"But where can we go? We sure as hell can’t go back to the Director... Can we?"

"I don’t think so, Victor," muttered Mac as he moved over to the windows and peeked through the blinds at the sky. "It’s going to be dawn soon, let’s get out now, and decide what to do later, okay?" But Mac already had the whole thing planned. Friends from the old days were even now working on a couple of passports for them.

The trip out of the FBI Headquarters was as easy as the entry. Mulder didn’t think that they would try to leave, after all, they’d come all this way for the protection of the FBI... Their escape route was completely different from their point of entry, and the two men, their black clothing covered with trench coats, looked like a couple of guys heading for home after a night on the town.

After walking several blocks, Mac hailed a cab and the two men climbed in the back. Victor, pretending to be a sleepy drunk, kept his head down as his partner gave the driver an address on the other side of town. It took two hours, and several cab rides, but they finally arrived at the destination Mac had prepared for the two of them.

Entering the chrome and glass covered office building, Mac steered Victor towards the lifts.

"What are we doing here?" hissed Victor as the he found himself in a lift, in an office building on the same block of the FBI Headquarters.

Mac pulled a pair of ordinary, wire rimmed glasses from his coat pocket and slipped then onto his partner’s face, before standing back and smiling blindingly at his lover. "There’s a business in this building that I started up just after the Director blackmailed me into working for her."

"What?" gasped Victor as the lift doors opened on the tenth floor.

"That’s right, completely legal, and completely untraceable," murmured Mac as he walked across to tall, gold edged glass doors. Pushing through those doors and walking across the expensive carpet Mac threw a smile at his partner before he turned to the receptionist. "Hi, there," smiled Mac, at the girl behind the desk.

Mac slipped a hand in his coat pocket and handed the girl a card. "My name’s Paul York, and this is my partner, David Lancaster."

Victor felt a twinge of jealousy in his chest as he heard that tone in his new lover’s voice.

Victor heard the names and his eyes took in the name of the company that was blazoned across the wall behind the now gushing girl. ‘York and Lancaster Enterprises.’ And the symbol of York and Lancaster Enterprises brought a flush to his cheeks. It was two roses, the white rose of the House of York and the red rose from the House of Lancaster, entwined ... Adjusting the glasses Mac had given him, (these are a disguise? muttered a little voice in his head, then another added, Hey, they work for Clark Kent, don’t they?), and still blushing, while the two of them was hustled down the hall towards their offices, all Victor could think was, ‘Oh, God... what the hell has he been up to now...’

|| end ||

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