Title: Losing It: Take VII
Author: Zoë


Take VII


**

Skinner

Scully and I are up at the same time. She has her weapon and I have Alex. I thrust Alex into her arms and take the Glock. Twin yells of protest follow me as I run for the door. Mulder and I slam into each other.

I pick him up off the floor, hissing, "What's going on?"

"Bounty hunters," he pants.

"How many?"

"Two. Maybe three." He tugs at my arm. "A gun isn't going to help. We have to find a way out of here."

"We're not bounty hunters," a vaguely familiar voice calls through the door.

With Mulder trying to pull me away, I cautiously approach the door, then glance out the peephole. I jerk backward in shock. I'm definitely scared, but I don't share Mulder's opinion about bounty hunters.

Loudly, I yell, "I'll open the door, but I want to see hands up."

"All right," someone begrudgingly agrees.

I double check the peephole to make sure they've complied, then slowly open the door, my gun aimed at chest of the man closest to the door.

"We figured this is where you'd go," the fully-grown version of me offers calmly.

"Yeah," says adult-Mulder, "we had to see how the clones were doing."

"Where am I? I only see the two of you," a dark-headed figure from the back row queries.

Clones? My mind races trying to make sense of this. But it makes too much sense. We weren't impossibly age-regressed by thirty years. We're clones.

Even though it goes against every instinct, I lower the gun and step back for them to enter. Mulder doesn't want to let them in, but with a hand on his shoulder, I'm able to keep him from charging or whatever else he might have on his mind.

A couple minutes later, we're all in Scully's living room. If everyone else has as many questions as I do, it makes the silence that reigns in the room very odd. The two Krycek's are staring at each other, one from the closest spot to the front door, the other from Scully's arms. The two Mulder's are trying not to look at one another. And I realize the older me is doing exactly what I'm doing--watching everyone else.

"Let's all..." I begin as the other me says, "Let's all..." Then we just stare at each other.

Apparently realizing what an odd predicament we're all in, Scully clears her throat and says, "Let's just sit down and we'll let the..." she trails off and gestures to the recent arrivals. "Uh, let the originals explain what's going on."

Originals. That word stings. My feet are in motion before I realize what I even want to do. I grab my Alex from Scully and set him in the middle of the sofa. I sit on one side and, without a word said, Fox sits on the other. In my own mind I have to differentiate between us and them. So we'll be the first names, and they can be the last names.

We all face ourselves and wait to hear how this came to be.

After they figure out where they're going to sit, there's a clear deferral to Mulder, who apparently has been designated the spokesman.

"Clearly," he begins, "the Rhode Island thing was a setup." His eyes skitter over us and his discomfort is clear, so he turns his gaze on Scully. "Skinner and I got a false lead that there was Consortium activity, and we went to check it out. Krycek was already there, having been forcibly taken."

"Hey!" the Alex next to me yells at Agent Mulder. "You can look at us when you speak. This didn't happen to her."

The adult 'us' are clearly thrown. "Actually, it happened to the three of us," Mulder murmurs gesturing to the adults.

Alex is clearly rearing for a fight, but Skinner--it's so strange to think of myself in the third person--intervenes with, "Let's just get through this." He gives Mulder a nudge that clearly says, 'talk to them.'

It takes nearly an hour for the whole story to unfold. The supposed-Consortium facility was actually a rebel facility. They wanted the three of us--them--for some mission that our older twins are apparently not allowed to disclose. They were going to be replaced by clones--us--for some unnamed period of time. And the rebels apparently have the technology to completely transfer memories from one person to another. But they ran into a technical hitch while maturing the clones. They were unable to finish the rapid maturation process past the end of puberty. The first batch of clones died at the physical ages of 17-19. If they couldn't replace them with adults, at least in the case of Mulder and Skinner, children were the next best thing. They'd have all the memories and DNA proof that they were Mulder and Skinner, effectively preventing any investigation into a disappearance, even if it kicked off a furor into how they jumped back in time by 30 years.

Almost everyone points out a lot of holes in the plan... but none of it was relevant because the rebels' only concern was in cutting off investigation into the whereabouts of Walter Skinner and Fox Mulder. Since they couldn't mature Skinner past 17, and they had to preserve the age difference, Mulder was left at age 8, and Krycek got to be 18 months. Alex quickly jumps on that, asking if he and Mulder can now be aged to at least their teens. Apparently not. Once this bun came out of the oven, that was it.

Two people never speak through the entire story. And it concerns me on both counts. The adult Alex Krycek and the clone of Fox Mulder.

Though I'm reeling with the shock of finding out that I'm not really Walter Skinner, what most occupies my thoughts is, what now?


Krycek

What the fuck are we going to do now? There's more to the story, but I don't really give a shit. I'm not me. So who am I?

Scully's voice draws me out of my thoughts. "So how did the three of you get here?"

"Uh, Krycek got us out," Mulder mutters.

Of course I did.

"We, well, it's a long story how it all came about, but after Krycek sprang us, we aggressively negotiated with the rebels and agreed to help with their plan, though not with clone replacements living our lives. By then they'd already dropped our clones off at a hotel with our ID's. We figured rounding you guys up was the first order of business."

Though I've had a lot of questions up to this point I suddenly feel like I'm in a precarious position. Scully drums her fingers on her knees. "And what are we going to do with them? Can the rebels do a mind wipe so we can drop them in the foster care system?"

I feel my tension mirrored in the men--boys on either side of me.

The adult Skinner clears his throat. "No, they can't get rid of the memories now that they're there." He sounds uncomfortable.

Eight-year-old Mulder jumps to his feet and blurts out, "I want to talk to them." He hitches his thumb our direction. "Alone."

I suddenly realize it's the first thing he's said since the 'originals' arrived.

Fully-grown Mulder and Skinner share a look of discomfort. "That's probably not the best idea," Skinner offers uncomfortably.

"We're not asking," I interject. "We may look like kids, but we have the minds of fully capable, rational adults. Your minds. And we're going to have a private conversation."

"Oh, let 'em talk to each other," My 6-foot doppelganger says while contemplating his fingernails. I know that look. That's my, I'm pretending to be disinterested so no one will know what I'm up to, look.

I start to climb off the couch, but I'm snagged by adolescent-Skinner. Snickering follows us out of the room, which I attribute to adult-Mulder, who is promptly told, "Oh, shut up," by other-me.

We gather in what I assume to be Scully's bedroom. Mulder shuts and locks the door.

Skinner sets me on the bed, then turns to Mulder. "I was surprised that you had nothing to say back there."

"I do have something to say, just not to them." He paces back and forth for a few seconds. I wonder if I'm going to be able to take anything he says seriously... he looks like such a dork. "First off, I want to say that I know I've been a pain in the ass, and I'm sorry. I've always had shitty impulse control and it seems to be worse in this prepubescent body." He takes a deep breath, then continues, "I say that up front so you'll know I'm serious about what I'm about to ask you."

Curiosity wars with dread. Skinner sits next to me on the bed with an expression of curiosity. The shift of the mattress causes me to roll over. Skinner quickly rights me with a mumbled apology. I'd give just about anything right now if those fucking aliens had aged me by just another year.

"Okay, Mulder," Skinner prompts. "Let's hear it."

"That's just it. I'm not Mulder. And you're not Walter Skinner, and you," he looks right at me, "are not Alex Krycek. We may be genetic copies and we may have 31 and a half to 47 years of memories, but we," he pokes his chest vigorously, "are not those people. And we cannot return to the lives of those people. Now, I don't know what's going through the head of the real Alex Krycek, but I do know what's going through the minds of the other two. They think they have a responsibility for us. And beyond that, they think they have the right to decide what's going to happen to us."

I know my counterpart does not think that way, because it never would have occurred to me. "What exactly are you thinking they plan to do?" I ask with dread.

"Well," replies Skinner, "they're probably torn between seeing us as biological experiments gone awry that should be returned to a lab, children who need taking care of, and just a pain in the ass they don't want to deal with. But I can promise you they're trying to figure out the fastest way to never have to see any of us again."

Mulder nods vigorously, "My hunch is that we're all headed back to that facility for an unspecified period of time. And if not there, a cloning lab somewhere to find out how we came to be."

That doesn't seem like a very good idea. "Obviously, you have something going on in your devious little mind... what is it?"

"Yeah, I do," Mulder agrees with fervor. "We can stick with them, who no doubt feel--I hate how dramatic this sounds--violated by being cloned, and hope they make a choice that doesn't end in us being miserable or dead. Or..." He trails off looking nervous.

"Or," I prompt.

"Or we get the hell out of here now, and figure out what we want."

Skinner lunges to his feet. "Just take off and do what? What about our lives and our famil-" He breaks off looking distressed.

"Exactly! What family? We have nothing, no lives, no families, no jobs, no homes... nothing! We only have each other and a head full of memories of things we didn't actually do and people we don't actually know."

While Skinner and Mulder engage in a stand-off, everything about my life and everything that's happened today runs through my mind like a high-speed movie. Mulder's right... but there's no way we can do this alone.

"I agree with.... him." I gesture toward Mulder. "We should get out of here. The sooner the better."


Mulder

One down, one to go. I turn my attention to Skinner... he's the lynchpin. We can't do this without him. Alex and I won't get very far without someone who looks like an adult. He's clearly turning the situation over in his mind, running through every possible scenario. My patience gives out. "Oh come on, Walter. Don't be so careful for once. We have a very narrow window of opportunity. I've been thinking about this since we found out we're clones."

Walter's shoulders sag. "Okay. Let's say I buy into this. We can't just hop out the window and make a run for it. We don't have money, or a home, or anything else. Your best reason for doing this--we have nothing--is also why it's least likely to succeed. We don't even have the keys to the rental car."

I know he's right, but I feel with every fiber of my being that we have to cut our losses and get out of here.

"I'll help us."

Walter and I both turn toward Alex seeking clarification. "What?"

"I... me, the adult me," his pudgy baby hands gesture toward the door, "will help us."

"Are you sure," Walter asks before I can get the same question out.

The tiny dark head nods enthusiastically. "Yes. I'm certain. Go tell him we want to talk to each of them individually, starting with Krycek."

Walter nods in agreement, and in that moment I'm certain we're in this together and that it's going to work. "I'll go," he offers.

I stick out a hand to stop him. "No... Scully will be suspicious of you leaving Alex alone with me. I'll go."

"Wait!" Walter startles me as I'm reaching for the doorknob. "We can't get all of our stuff without raising suspicion, but get the diaper bag. The keys are in it."

"Okay." I step out into the hall and take a deep breath, working up my nerve.

As I near the living room, the sounds of a hushed conversation reaches my ears. Stepping around the corner, I find Scully, Skinner and me bent toward each other. Krycek leans back in his chair, apparently declining to participate in the conversation. Maybe Alex is right about him.

The conversation stops abruptly when they see me.

"Well?" Skinner demands.

"Uh... I need the diaper bag." I pick my way across the room to grab the bag by Scully's chair. I step back to find twin expressions of suspicion on Skinner and my-Mulder's face. "Uh, it's just... you know... Alex... he, uh, doesn't have much," I break off and gesture toward the general vicinity of my crotch, "control."

The adult Mulder's lips press into a flat line, obviously trying not to laugh as he glances at Krycek, whose expression is carefully blank.

"Anyway," I continue cheerily. "We're all a little concerned about what your motives are, and what you think about us. So, we'd like to talk to each of you individually. Starting with," I turn to face the most dangerous man in the room, "you."

"Me?" Krycek looks uncomfortable. "I don't have any motives."

Oh great. What if I can't get him to come with me? "Still, we'd all like to talk to you."

"Just get it over with, Krycek," Mulder sneers. It's nice to know I can always count on me to give Krycek a bad time.

"Oh, fuck it... whatever." He gets to his feet and follows me to Scully's bedroom.

Once inside, I toss the bag to Walter, who fishes out the keys.

Krycek looks us over, then his eyes narrow in speculation. "You guys are making a run for it," he states with a hint of incredulity.

"Yeah," Alex says from the bed. "I told them you'd help us."

Krycek shakes his head, rubbing his temples. "You wouldn't believe how tenuous the truce is with those two." He looks up at us again. "But why not. I certainly wouldn't sign on for any of the options they're tossing around for the three of you."

He breaks out his wallet and hands Walter what looks to be several hundred dollars. Walter takes it with an expression of surprise. "I'm sure they'll be able to track the car, so ditch it soon. Get a cab to take you to Alexandria and go to-"

"Club 7," Alex finishes for him.

Krycek nods, looking only mildly disconcerted. "You know what to do. Give Dima this." He slides a ring off his thumb, handing it over to Skinner. "Tell him he needs to hide you until I get there. I'll be there for you as soon as I can."

I feel incredibly anxious to get away, but I'm leery about our future depending upon Krycek showing up. "You sure you're going to be there?"

He grins at me. "Don't worry about it. The little guy will explain it later. You three have a very short window of time to get to the car and get out of here. I'll tell the dynamic duo that you're changing the sprout and to send in Mulder in a couple of minutes." With hesitant steps he crosses to the bed and hunkers down in front of his baby clone. They whisper to each other for a few seconds and I'd give just about anything to know what they're saying.

Walter already has the window open and is looking around. He pops the screen out silently and swings one leg over the sill. He looks back at Krycek. "Thanks," he whispers, then drops to the ground. I toss out the bag, but find I'm too short to hand out Alex. Krycek takes over and hands Alex down to Skinner.

He turns to me, clearly ready to help me out the window. Instead I stick out my hand. "Thanks, Krycek."

Glancing at my hand, he flashes me a rueful smile, then shakes it. "You're welcome." Next thing I know, he's half throwing me out the window.

**

End Take VII

27 August 2005


Zoë

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