Cory Raines pointed the gun at the bank clerk.
"Yeah, right. Put all the money in the bag. And don't do anything stupid. That's fine, see you next time!"
He walked backwards out of the bank, still pointing the gun at the clerk. He turned around and ran to the van that was parked around the corner. He jumped in and started the motor. But there was no reaction.
"No, no, no, not now. You damn scrap heap."
Suddenly the van started and Cory drove away.
After leaving the city, he felt good. He drove through the abandoned industrial district, where he usually kept the van hidden. There it was, that fabulous feeling he had every time another coup was successful. He remembered the old days. The time when he and Amanda had been like Bonnie and Clyde.
He missed her, the bank robberies, and everything they had done during that time. Cory thought about the last time that he had seen Amanda. It was just five weeks ago. At first it was just like old times, but then she decided to leave him again. It was hard to believe.
He searched for one of the tapes with the music he always listened to when he was feeling sad. He took his eyes off the street for just one second, when he heard a crash and felt his van hit something. He stopped. What could that have been, he wondered. He stepped out of the vehicle and looked back down the road. There was something lying on the street. He moved closer. It was a man. He was lying on the ground, wearing a black leather jacket. He was totally covered in mud. Cory thought for a long time trying to decide what to do. Decision made, he dragged the man, who was still unconscious, to the van.
He parked the van in its usual storage area and transferred his loot and unconscious passenger to another car he had purchased from a scrap dealer. He was glad he knew at least something about cars, so it wasn't very hard to restore the car. It was an old but very nice Dodge. He laid the man at the front seat. He knew that it was very risky, but he also knew that he had to help this man. He had run into the man, so it was right that he should help him. It was his sense of honour that told him that. He had always been an honourable man, even towards the end of the 20th Century.
It wasn't long before they arrived at his house. It was a recent purchase but similar to the one he had lived in when he and Amanda had resumed their "work" all those weeks ago. After she left he had to move and cover his tracks once again. He dragged the still unconscious man, into the house and laid him on the couch. He wanted to believe that everything was all right, that the man would wake up in a few minutes and walk out of the house, just thinking he had a nightmare.
He went into the kitchen and made a coffee. When he walked back to the living room, the man on the couch was sitting up. He didn't look up although he had heard Cory enter.
"Wow, I'm glad that you're okay. I thought that I had hit you hard."
"No, no. I... I'm all right. But.. Could I wash myself anywhere? That's all I want."
"Sure. The bathroom is the second door on the right. There are clean towels under the washbasin."
The stranger walked in the direction Cory had pointed, but he still kept his head and eyes lowered. Cory wondered about the behavior of this man, but then he turned around to get two cups from the kitchen and filled a pot with hot, steaming coffee. He placed them together with sugar and milk on a tray and took it over to the living room. At the same moment, the stranger appeared from the bathroom. He was clean, at least a little bit cleaner than before. He was just drying his face with a towel. His clothes were still dirty and some were so worn out that Cory shuddered at the thought of having to wear stuff like that.
"Do you want a hot coffee?"
"Yeah, I'd like to. Thanks."
Then the stranger took the towel away from his face and looked up. Cory was so shocked that he dropped the tray and the coffee, the milk and the sugar lay in a spreading mess on the floor. One of the cups was cracked, but everything was so unreal that he didn't notice.
The man he had run into, who was now standing in his living room, looked exactly like him. The man stared at him in astonishment. He couldn't believe it either.
"What the hell." Cory said and took a step closer and hit the cup that wasn't cracked. With a little crack the cup broke.
"What the fuck." the stranger growled.
They stood there a long time, facing each other with fear and fascination.
"Who are you?" The stranger was the first able to speak. Cory's rigidity went.
"I... I am Cory. Cory Raines. And you?"
"My name is Alex Krycek. Hi, Cory!"
"Hi, Alex." Cory turned around and went to the couch. There he sat down and stared back at his doppelganger.
"I knew there was something weird in my family. But I didn't know that I had a twin."
"Believe me, we aren't twins. I know that for a fact."
"Then what is it?" Krycek asked, and sat next to him.
"I don't know. But it does happen that two people are doppelgangers."
"But do they meet normally?"
"Must be paranormal." Krycek had to grin. Paranormal - this, the whole thing would interest Mulder. If Mulder only knew his No. 1 enemy had a doppelganger.
Cory looked him over. "So, what do you do?"
"What I do? Sometimes this and sometimes other things..."
"What? I mean...you... you look like you were on the run. You seem to be trying to escape from someone. Your clothes... your behavior. Why were you in that abandoned area? There's nothing there!"
"Why were you there?"
"I asked you first. But if you want, I'll tell you. I trust you, like I would trust my mirror image. I was there because... because I had just robbed a bank."
"You're a bank robber?"
"Yes, but I don't take the whole money for myself. The most of it I give to the ones who really need it."
"Oh, just like Robin Hood."
"Robin Hood is a fiction. I am real. Now, it's your turn...."
"If your role is similar to Robin Hood, mine is similar to... I don't really know. Sometimes I help the bad guys and sometimes I help the good guys. But every time it's in my best interest."
While Krycek was speaking, Cory remembered the coffee and the other things on the floor.
"Oh, shit. I think I should clean that damn stuff."
"Robin Hood and Maid Marian in one...."
Cory looked at him with a half-amused, half-offended view.
"Hey, just a joke."
Cory took a dustpan from the kitchen and started to clean up. Krycek observed him with interest.
"Do you know, I would really like to have a coffee?"
Cory grinned and pointed at the floor.
"Here it is. Help yourself."
Now they both had to laugh. Krycek followed Cory into the kitchen and looked around. He stopped in front of the refrigerator and opened it. He opened some boxes and inspected the contents.
"You're hungry, aren't you?"
"Wait, there are some leftovers."
Cory laid the contents of one of the boxes on a plate and put it into the microwave oven.
"Do you want some coffee too?"
"Okay, you could wait in the living room, I'll bring it to you in a few minutes."
While Alex was waiting for his meal, he looked around in the room. It was sparsely furnished, the only personal things were the photos, some seemed to be old, but all showed Cory at the age he was now. So he had to know something about photography to make them seem so old. He stared at one in which Cory was posed with a woman. They looked just like Bonnie and Clyde; even their clothes were in the style of the twenties. If Alex didn't know better, he would swear it was himself in the photos. It was too fantastic.
Cory entered the room. He placed the plate on the table.
"Here is it."
Alex turned around.
"Taste it or do you think I will poison you?"
Krycek went to the table and sat down. He ate at first very carefully but then he nearly shoveled the last of his mashed potatoes with peas and a steak down. He ate so fast that he was finished long before Cory came in with the coffee. He sat down on the other side of the table and focussed on Alex.
Alex looked down at his empty plate in embarrassment. "Are you really a bank robber?"
"Yeah. You didn't believe me?"
"I wasn't sure. What do you think, should we work together? I think I would be a great robber."
"Yeah. I'm sure of it."
"Okay, let's try it."
"No. We have to wait, maybe two days. Then we will go to this city one last time and then we will look for another city. That's the way I work."
"Okay. Um... do you want some new clothes? I'm sure we wear the same size, so you can take some of my clothes."
"I think this is the beginning of a wonderful partnership."
They smiled at each other and continued to drink their coffee.
They stayed together in the house, grinning every time they saw each other.
They divided the chores; Cory cooked and did the laundry. Alex washed the dishes and the two of them cleaned the house together. It was fun for both of them.
Then, two days later, Cory said "So, you want to be a robber, let's get it on!"
"Okay, so what's our plan?"
"Our plan? We just go in and...Wait it would be best if you waited outside in the car ready to drive as soon as I come out of the bank. There is one thing I have to tell you. If you hear shots fired and I don't come out of the bank I want you to leave without me. Don't panic, if I'm hit, I'll play dead. I've done it before and I'm good at it. They'll take me to the morgue. I'll just walk out and meet you back here. Okay?"
Krycek was uncertain. "Okay."
"Good. Then let's go!"
They arrived at the bank and Cory got out of the car. They took the Dodge. Cory explained that it hadn't been involved in a robbery yet.
"So, you wait down the street and in exactly two and a half minutes you drive in front of the bank and wait for me. I'll be there a half-minute later, maybe one-minute. But that's the limit."
Cory went into the bank and Krycek drove to the side street, looking at his watch constantly.
In exactly the time span, Cory had said, he started the car and stopped in front of the bank. There was Cory. He had just left the bank and was pointing the gun at the clerk. Then he saw Alex and smiled. As he started to run to the Dodge, the guard arrived at the door with a pistol in his hand. Alex realized it and wanted to warn Cory, but the guard shot before Alex was able to. Cory sank down and lost the bag with the money and his gun. Krycek had his hand on the handle and wanted to run over to him, but Cory shouted at him to drive away. Krycek was undecided; he loved Cory like a brother. Damn, in his mind Cory was his brother. Even if they had met just three days ago. But he remembered Cory's words. " I'll play dead. I've done it before and I'm good at it." So Alex drove away. He drove cross the city in the opposite direction from the house. He knew something about the police work; after all, he had been an FBI-Agent.
Any witness would confuse the cops and Alex took an old road back to the house. He hid the Dodge between some bushes, just to be sure and entered the house. Then he sat down on the couch and waited for Cory.
// Damn. He didn't tell me how long to wait. What if they take him to a hospital and he's in custody. What if this time he is really dead? //
The guard was not very young, but it seems that he had been a good shot. Alex sat there for hours; it started to get dark. Then he couldn't stand it any longer and went to the kitchen.
// I have to do something. //
He opened the refrigerator and took some of the boxes out. He was just about to throw some of their contents in one of the pots he had placed on the stove.
"Are you going to cook?" This voice made Krycek turn around. In the door stood Cory with a smile on his face.
"I... I thought you were dead. I'm so..." His relief was evident but Alex quickly controlled himself presenting his normal cool exterior and asked him sharply "Where have you been? Would you warn me next time you come home? I might have thought that it was the police and shot you."
"Shoot me? Boy, you don't have a gun with you. How could you shoot me or the police?"
"I think you know what I mean..."
"Sure. So, what is it? Do you want to cook?"
"No, I...just um..."
"I think I understand. Are you going to watch me to learn how?"
"Okay. If I have to..."
"If you don't want to learn to cook, I've another idea. You can start to pack our things. Just leave clothes for two days. Then we will finish up in the morning. We have to look for another city. And for another house."
"Okay. That sounds good."
"Yeah. Then let's go to work."
Krycek turned around to pack Cory's things and the few personal items he had retrieved from the industrial area, where he had hidden them. There was only his old FBI badge; he didn't know why he had kept it, his gun and an old photograph of his family. He hadn't shown these to Cory yet. But Cory had lots of stuff, in addition to the photographs Krycek had seen. One closet was full of clothes, some of them seemed to be from the beginning of this century, some even older, but they all were in a very good condition. Perhaps he was an actor who kept his costumes. In any case, Cory seemed to be very careful with his clothes.
Alex found a very old, very sharp sword hanging under a long trench coat in an equally old sheath. There was a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed filled with tissue paper and it was into this that he packed the costumes carefully along with Cory's photograph collection.
When he had packed everything in the bedroom except for the two changes of clothes, he went back to the living room.
"Yeah. Everything in the bedroom except the antique sword."
"Good. Dinner is ready. Relax and enjoy your meal."
They sat together at the table and ate their meal. Neither of them said anything. Each was alone with his thoughts.
Cory looked out of the window, by now it was really dark. And they had a full moon.
"You were worried weren't you?"
Krycek lowered his eyes.
"Yeah. I was... I know you said that you're a good actor. But it was so...real. I thought he hit you."
Cory stood up and went to one of the cupboards in the living room. He opened it.
"How about some wine and truth?"
Alex was surprised. // Wine and truth? Does he know something about my past and me? Or does he just want to tell me the truth about himself?//
Cory saw the hesitant expression on Krycek's face.
"Did you think that I wouldn't wonder about you? You just told me you were working sometimes for the good guys and sometimes for the bad guys. I want to know everything. Come on, I told you about me. Now it's your turn."
"First you have to tell me how you got out of the morgue."
"I just walked out of the door --- it's your turn..." Cory smiled at him.
Krycek knew, if he wanted to know more about this man, he had to tell his story first.
"Okay, but I want to finish the meal before I start the story. It's a long one..."
"We have lots of time." Cory took one of the bottles out of the cupboard and went to the kitchen for some glasses.
"We have to pack these bottles before we leave. Did you forget them?"
Krycek looked up. "No, just thought we might need 'em" he said with stuffed mouth. Cory sat down and finished his meal. Krycek observed him. His behavior and his movements were odd. All in all he looked like a person who had learned all the behaviors of hundreds of years and displayed them in any given situation. Krycek had noticed this from the beginning. It was not something the average person would notice but Krycek's need to survive made him far more observant than most. Sometimes it seemed Cory was living in another century. Alex often felt strange with Cory. He had a similar memory of the time he worked with Fox Mulder. It was a short time. If he hadn't been working for the Cigarette Smoking Man, it could have been a nice partnership. He knew about the things Mulder was looking for. But the damn smoking bastard ordered him to hide the evidence, and some time later he nearly killed him. That was the reason he was in that industrial area. On the one hand he cursed the smoking guy, on the other hand he wouldn't have met Cory.
While he thought about his past he didn't notice that he and Cory had finished their dinner. Cory carried their plates to the kitchen and came back with a corkscrew. They sat down on the couch and Krycek started telling his story while Cory opened the bottle and filled the two glasses with the red wine he had chosen. Alex started with his parents coming from Russia to the United States. He told about his first meeting with the CSM, when he was still at the academy. He told Cory about the special training he had taken; about the few secrets he knew at the beginning and the many things he had learned by the time the smoking man decided to kill him. Cory sat in place the whole time without moving. When Krycek came to the end of his story and told Cory why he had been in the industrial area Cory stood up. He looked at Alex with an expression Krycek couldn't interpret.
"Then they were right. All the time they were right. And I laughed at them."
"The guys that were talking about Roswell. I thought they were just fools. But now, you are telling me the same thing. When I heard about it I couldn't believe. I thought they were just joking. Faking the news. Before 1947 no one said anything about UFOs. But after Roswell all the people talked about it. It was in the news for weeks."
"How do you know this so exactly?"
"I have to tell you something about me. You won't believe it but I assure you it's true. I can't die."
Krycek looked at him in disbelief. He opened the mouth to say something, to answer this stupid stuff. But Cory continued.
"What I mean is, I can die, but I get back up again. If you want I can prove it. You saw the photos, I think. They are real. They were taken in the twenties. Don't ask me how it works. It just does. And I don't grow old. That's why I appear to be the same age in the photographs. I know, I couldn't believe it at first when it happened to me. But it's true."
Krycek looked him directly in the eyes. "It's okay. I think I understand." He stood up and went out of the room, into the bedroom where he left the boxes with their clothes.
"Where are you going? Hey, Alex!"
But Krycek didn't turn around. He didn't want Cory to see the tears in his eyes. He went to one of the boxes and took out an item. Then he went back to the living room where Cory was standing with his glass in hand. Cory looked apprehensive when he saw that Alex was hiding something behind his back...
"What are you hiding?" Cory asked. // Does he have the sword and does he know where to strike? //
"I just want to know something. Something important to me."
// No, he couldn't be one of us. I would have felt it. But what is it? //
"Here. I just want to know if you recognize the woman." Alex handed him an old photo, a photo of his family.
Cory tried to find some connection between the blond man and woman and the dark-haired children in the photo. There was a boy and a girl, approximately ten years old, possibly twins. He knew that the boy was Alex Krycek, but it could have been him, if the 11th century had had cameras. And Cory didn't have just one sister; he had had three sisters and four brothers. Anyway, his parents hadn't been blond.
"Do you recognize her? Are you the father of me and my sister?" Alex spit out the words.
Now he understood why Alex was so upset. He thought that Cory might be his father.
"No, I'm not your father. Did you think it, as I told you about my past? Did you believe me?"
"Sure. I mean, why should you lie me?"
Cory hugged Krycek.
"Alex, I'm not your father. Immortals can't conceive or father offspring. But if I were it, I would be proud of you. You are a damn good bank robber, I mean a damn good driver. And I would love to be your father, but I think it would be the pits to have a father the same age. Don't you think, my son?"
Krycek smiled. "I think you're damn right." Then he pulled out of the hug. "Dad." He grinned at Cory. "How about some more wine?"
They sat down and drank some more, then suddenly Cory said: "You think you know who your father could be. But you hope he isn't the one. You think it's your former boss, the smoking man."
Krycek looked surprised. "You can't die. Can you read my mind? What else are you able to do?"
"No, I can't read your mind. But you spoke about him with a mixture of hate and respect. I can't describe what I mean, but if you'd seen as many families as I have you'd know a bit about the behavior of sons against their fathers."
"No, but I think now it's time to get some sleep. If you want to sleep in the bed this time, I won't mind."
Krycek nodded. "And what about tomorrow?"
"We can finish packing when we wake up. We will drive through the night. So it would be intelligent to sleep as long as possible. Tomorrow night is going to be a long."
"Okay. Good night."
"Sleep well, Alex."
"Think I will."
As Alex walked away Cory had to grin. // It was too funny. He really thought that I could be his father. This man is more than just interesting; he's a good companion. It's going to be an amusing drive, an amusing life, with lots of excitement. Just the way I like it. .//
Cory switched the light off and thought about the next day. They had to go. It was too dangerous to stay longer in this area. But he loved this place so much. He looked out of the window and saw the Dodge still standing in the bushes where Alex had left it. Maybe they'd find a similar house in a comparable environment. He hoped so. Then he lay down and fell asleep.