Title: Before the War
Author: Celine Janeway
Authorlink: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/476372/
Category: X-Files
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure

Summary: After years of hiding, the re-emergence of Mulder and Scully thrust them into a familiar fight for their lives and that of their ultimate cause.


Chapter 1: Thus a Storm

Tree branches violently pounded against the window panes, responding to the rising storm. While clouds once white swirled with the black of a thunderous background, the winds rose dust into the air and uprooted newly planted crops. The shutters of a small gray home held on to their hinges by fragments of wood. Rain soaked the thirsty fields and washed the countryside. The temperature fell creating a chill, this was the muffler for a heinous crime.

A man clad in sin slowly covered his hands with the gloves that would shield his identity. Black, worn and sacred these were his favorite pair. Always in his pocket, they never left his side. These gloves carried his indiscretions. He walked up the cement stairs passing through an unlocked doorway making his way toward his sleeping victims. This had become his routine. Cold steel clung to his hip awaiting its one and only purpose. This man was no stranger to destruction, he reveled in it. Doing what he had been taught, he placed the edge of the pistol to her head. Who she was, was irrelevant but what her child was had brought about her untimely fate as well as the dreaming man's beside her. Without blinking, he tapped on the trigger that was all it took to steal a life. Shots never rang out, never pierced silence nor did they cause alarm among the neighbors. Instead they pierced the skin of two innocents, leaving crimson trails of evidence that the rain would soon rinse from being. He made his way to the child's room to claim the treasure he had been sent to secure.

The creek of the door did little to faze him. When he reached the child's bed he was distraught to find nothing but pillows. He had seen the child enter the house earlier that evening. He knew that the boy had never left the premises yet there was no sign of him in sight. Had the boy heard him enter, heard him kill his parents or had someone interfered with his plans. Enraged he threw the nearest lamp against the wall, creating a shrill crash. He reached for his phone, dreading the wrath he would encounter on the other line.

"He's not here."

"You better damn well find him; he is the key to all of our plans. Your life depends on it." The conversation ended with a click. The man's voice on the other line had been harsh and far from pleasant. It was edged with a rasp and deepened when angered.

Suddenly a siren could be heard in the distance. Apparently the lamps crash has been enough to startle the neighbors. The killer made his way out of the bedroom window and out onto the roof. He jumped barely landing on his feet and ran into the drenched night.


Chapter 2: Breathes New Life

The streets bustled as they always had with strangers whose busy lives intersected for mere moments never to traverse again. Each day framed another precious second of consciousness wasted on trivial tasks. The quiet life had done little to intrigue Scully and quite frankly it stole more of her soul then relentless tragedy ever could. At least with tragedy, one was in the process of growth and overcoming an obstacle, moving toward an unreachable destination but complacency is the worst of existences. It steals the flame that lights your soul ablaze and slowly you forget what you were searching for.

"Do the three boxes left belong in the living room?" Scully asked.

"They are mostly clothes and some old baseball cards nothing that needs to be put out right away," Mulder answered.

They had contemplated moving back to the city for some time, to escape the mundane and heal the wounds that had been left within its limits and now they occupied a two bedroom apartment in Alexandria. The furnishings were scattered and eclectic but just enough of each life they had lived to make it home. She often watched as Mulder would fall into a dream on the sofa or read till the early hours of the morning. He hadn't lost the child's gaze that would take over his face whenever he found a new article that caught his interest and he certainly hadn't given up the hope that one day he would become more that himself and accomplish what he had set out to do 17 years earlier. He never could let himself give up; even when it meant holding on would be forever painful.

"I have a surgery scheduled for noon. I doubt I will be home before night fall," Scully said

She has been given an attending position at Georgetown University Medical Center and jumped at the chance to leave the bureaucracy of Our Lady of Sorrows. On this particular Tuesday in what could only be described as the perfect fall day, Scully found herself staring as the leaves covered the sidewalks. Mulder was quietly humming to himself as he watched the ball game while she couldn't ripe her eyes from the people that cluttered the park. Some had come with their children and others with their lovers. There wasn't a lonely soul among them. The unexpected ring of the phone jolted her mind from its daydream long enough to make her way to the receiver.

"Hello."

"Ms. Scully this is Madeline from Assistant Director Skinner's office. Please hold for the Assistant Director."

Scully's face sank as she recalled the last time she had seem AD Skinner. She had nearly lost Mulder for what she could only hope was the last time. His unexpected call gave way to a flood of memories that she would have rather not relived. She saw Mulder lying in the snow, his blood staining the ground around him. He had been only moments from death. His eyelids twitching in pain and disorientation; she held his head in her arms praying that this wasn't the time she buried him. Once again Scully was shaken from her own thoughts by a familiar voice.

"Scully, Scully are you there?"

"Sir, I wasn't expecting your call." She cleared her throat in an effort to banish the images that hindered her from concentrating.

"I apologize for the unexpected nature but I have something you are going to want to see. I wondered whether I should even contact you but Agent Reyes insisted."

"Monica insisted, about what?"

"It affects you. It affects you and Mulder. It's pertinent you meet me at headquarters a quarter past one this afternoon. I can explain it better in person."

Scully heard the phone hang up on the other end before she had the chance to protest. She slowly turned to see the man she had come to base her life around and wondered for a second if ignoring Skinner's request would save them future agony but she trusted in Monica's judgment and was curious at what could have possibly given the FBI reason to seeker Mulder and her out.

"Mulder…"

He faced her with a smile she came to realize she couldn't live without. How would she convince him to trust the very organization that had stolen everything from him? How would she convince him, or herself for that matter, that the FBI didn't intend them harm after everything that had happened?


Chapter 3: Through An Old Allie

The soles of their shoes collided with the marble floor of the Hoover building's entrance. For a decade these floors had been worn with traces of the lives they had lived. Agents that had only been teenagers and Quantico cadets when Special Agents Mulder and Scully graced these corridors now stared as the legends themselves briskly passed. The stares went unnoticed by Mulder as many social aspects of life did. The agents whispered of how 'it couldn't be them' and 'I thought they were dead', while others that remembered them all too well prayed that the Bureau's most unwanted would not be calling the J Edgar Hoover building home again.

Skinner's door was only a few yards ahead, when Mulder took Scully's forearm and lead her to an unoccupied corner. He took a moment to read her expression and gaze into her eyes. Their iced blue exteriors told him that she was reluctant to see what Skinner had deemed so important. He knew that she had seen so much evil at the hands of the men who claimed to be working to help her that he didn't blame her reluctance. She took a second to feel his hand resting on her arm before speaking.

"What?"

"We can walk away at any time. We don't owe them anything. If anything they should be groveling at our feet."

"Just promise me that no matter what Skinner tells us. You won't go back to searching for something you can't find. I can't go through that again. I won't go through that again." Her lips pursed as they did when she was worried her words had been lost on him. She couldn't tame the relentless explorer that was beneath his skin.

"What makes you think I would ever choose this over you? Have we not been at this very spot before? I won't lose you to this or anything."

She squeezed his had to reassure him that she would stand by his side despite what they were about to face and she knew that even if they were summoned to chase the unknown again she would follow him as she always had, without doubt and ready to give her life for him despite the circumstance.

Mulder turned and made his way to Skinner's office. Scully followed close behind letting off the slightest sigh when she walked past the threshold into her former boss's office. Much time had passed since either had entered this office yet everything was placed precisely where it had been years prior. The pens on his desks seemed as if they too hadn't been moved. Skinner's back was facing them as they made their way toward his leather chair. He slowly turned to greet them. His features were just as Scully had expected them to be, merely aged with the time that had passed.

"I didn't think you were going to come," Skinner sarcastically said while reaching his hand out to shake Mulder's.

"To be honest neither did we," Mulder countered Skinner's sarcasm with his own.

"Not to be rude but can we skip the pleasantries and get to whatever it is you brought us here for," Scully interrupted.

Just as Scully finished her sentence a voice came from the back entrance to the office.

"I don't mean to intrude but…" the voice was familiar in its sultry tone and Scully recognized it with a pang in her chest.

"Monica?" Scully spoke the women's name below a whisper and took a hard breathe in before turning to meet with the brunette's staggering hazel eyes.

"Dana. It's been some years." Her lips parted to a smile.

"That it has. I..." Before she could finish her sentence Monica had brought her into an embrace. Scully was hesitant to return the hug but soon gave into her old friends arms. She would never admit it but she had missed Monica terribly. She missed how she reminded her of her sister and how she could always tell what was on her mind. Monica had found a way of understanding the puzzle that was Dana Scully. She understood that the pieces were jagged yet fit together with precision, her beauty was only surpassed by her intelligence.

"I'm guessing you are wondering why we called you here. Well I came across a case with some evidence that lead me to an old X-file; it was all pretty standard stuff until I realized that the substance found at the crime scene seemed familiar and had only been mentioned once before on a rather pertinent case." Monica stopped giving way to silence.

"What is so important about this one substance, that you felt the need to call us in?" Scully questioned.

"We found magnetite," Monica put great emphasis on the sentence.

"That is a very common metal why would that be of interest?" Mulder said.

"You're not listening; it's a form of magnetite that we found when…"

"Oh my God, Mulder." She took a breath to keep herself from sobbing. "William."

"The sample that was found at the scene matched the blood sample that was taken at the hospital when William was injected by Jeffrey Spender with the same alloy," Monica continued.

It was becoming potently clear why they had been summoned and Scully felt her throat begin to close and nausea meet her as the possibility of William's death crept into her mind. She held onto a nearby chair to keep herself from losing her balance.

"He wasn't, he isn't?" Scully's eyes held tears dangerously close to spilling over as her face became paler that it's normal ivory. Mulder moved closer in an effort to comfort her. He too was feeling the effects of the possibility that his only child could be dead.

Monica placed her hand on Scully's arm and slowly stroked it to assure her. "He's only missing." The statement was both a relief and a burden.

Scully whispered. "That offers little comfort Monica."

"I know that this is what you have always feared, that you couldn't protect him from the evil that looms in this world but we will find him," Monica responded.

"I understand the personal and delicate nature of this case but because of the specifics, you are the most qualified to assist the investigation. I know that you are no longer a part of the Bureau and wish to remain so but the information you could provide us would be invaluable. For the duration of the case you would be given full agents privileges." Skinner hesitated to speak further until he received a reaction.

Mulder took a moment to consider what had been laid in front of them. It was never a question of whether or not they would assist but to what degree; after all despite the years William was still their son but he worried the toll a full blown investigation would take on Scully. He knew that she could never be impartial when it came to her son. She had given up so much for him already. She had put his well-being over her happiness and suffered the consequences of that decision every day.

"I will lead the investigation with assistance from Monica and a hand selected team that will include agents Doggett and Brinks. We won't give up until we find him," Skinner said.

Scully couldn't even count the number of times she had said the same thing to some grief stricken family looking for answers. It did little to comfort her being on the receiving end. She had chosen adoption for her son out of necessity and fear. He was supposed to be safe. He was supposed to be free from the agony a life in the darkness promised. She looked at her hands as they began to shake. The tips of her fingers were numb from adrenaline and her heart refused to beat at a normal pace. Of all of the things she had seen, of all of the things she had done and been forced to overcome, this would bring out her greatest fears.


Chapter 4: A New Enemy

A powerful man sat in the corner of a darkened room. He was not powerful because of the respect he had earned or even for the money he possessed but rather because of the fear he could ensue. He was familiar with the deeds of the wicked and preformed them with glee. He had seen heads of state and leaders of nations crumble because of his actions. It didn't matter from where he originated or the name by which he was called only that he was the one person you prayed never found the path with which you were taking.

At this ungodly hour, he waited for the assassin to appear at his door with excuses as to why he was unable to complete a simple task. The powerful man tightened the tie that accompanied his black suit and ran his aged fingers through his hair which had just begun to gray. He had spent years waiting for the opportunity that was lost to him that night at the hands of his assassin. He might have lost this battle but he would be the victor of the war. Muffled footsteps could be heard near the entrance to the office. As the door creaked open, the click of a pistol arming was unmistakable.

"Give me a reason I shouldn't pull this trigger and cut my losses." The powerful man's voice gave way to a chilled echo.

"Sir, I followed the boy to the house. He never left the residence. All were accounted for when I entered the home. I didn't even give a sound to startle the boy. I searched the entire property for him. "

"I have no time for your excuses; we have 72 hours until the boy is beyond our grasp. Find him before that time or the next bullet to pass through this barrel will greet your skull."

The assassin exited as quickly as he had entered. Aggravated and short on options the powerful man made a call, a call that would ensure his success whether his assassin was victorious or not.


Chapter 5: Autopsy

She had hid it underneath her favorite sweater in the bottom drawer of her vanity. Only taking it out once and then banishing it to its sacred hiding place among the ashes of her past. It was black and white, very simple in nature with typing on the upper corners. It showed the outline of a growing fetus, a sonogram of her son. The day she had given him away, she banished all remembrances of him, every picture, blanket, toy and memento had been carefully concealed among the ordinary occupants of their home. Now eight years later she found herself longing for another chance to make another decision. Maybe she would have chosen the same knowing how the last years had played out but maybe just maybe she would have chosen to keep him near and take all of the risks she so greatly feared.

Here she was embarking on a journey she thought she had tucked away and would never have to face again, funny how the past so rarely stays the past. Feeling her muscles tighten in response to her nerves, her uncertainty rose with the passing minutes. Was she ready to be an agent again? Could she handle the chance that she might have to bury her own flesh and blood if they were too late? Scully banished all thoughts from her mind knowing full well that her success relied solely on her concentration. She strapped her gun to the holster along her side and picked up the jacket that would conceal it. She slowly buttoned her blouse reassuring herself that the task at hand wasn't impossible. The tears that had begun to form along the brims of her eyes, went unnoticed. Footsteps startled her and caused her to violently wipe at the only traces of her state of mind. Mulder entered the room fidgeting with his tie, thankfully oblivious to Scully's tears.

"I wore one of these every day for 10 years you'd think I'd have gotten the hang of it. Skinner and I are on the first flight to Cheyenne to meet with the Wyoming field office. Doggett and Brinks are already there. Reyes will be doing preliminary background checks on the victims, the Van de Kamps. I've already contacted child services for any records that might be useful. The coroner is expecting you at Quantico within the hour. Scully, are you listening?"

"What, yes."

" Look for any signs of implantation or signs of abnormal trauma on the corpses."

"Mulder, this isn't an X-file, don't try to make it one. This is about William and God help you if you make it anything different. This isn't another one of your crusades."

Her response stung revealing her chilled demeanor. She left him before he could even comprehend what she had just thrown at him. The sound of her heels as they pounded the stairs to the street below echoed through the hallways to their apartment. The skin on her palms turned red in opposition to her nails slicing into them. Her heart throbbed violently into her throat. She was taking her uncertainties out on the one person who would understand. The ignited call to bury herself in work, tugged at her resolve. She would engage in the only cure she was familiar with.


Chapter 6: Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

Dust from the winding road filled the air as a squadron of Bureau issued vehicles made their way toward the Van de Kamp residence. Gravel kicked up with the spinning wheels, hitting the cars rims. While Doggett tried to make a mental note about the small town adjacent to the residence. Agents swarmed the Wyoming home not wanting to leave a single thing overlooked. The house had already been swept once but Doggett insisted that he be able to comb through the house with his own team. He owed it to Scully to make damn sure that he didn't fail. He had supported her through the tribulations of William's birth and the many attempts made on his life. The death of a child was one experience he refused to have in common with her.

It had been almost ten years since he had seen her and he had missed her. But he never made an attempt to contact her; even after he discovered that she was practicing at Our Lady of Sorrows. He knew the hospital well. His ex-wife had given birth to their son at that very hospital. He had paced the blindingly white corridors like any dotting husband terrified of his new responsibilities as a father would have. The image of his ex-wife's face gleaming with joy as she passed their son to his father for the first time would stay with him. The baby was lighter than he expected and far more fragile but when he met his son's eyes, he knew that the boy had an inner strength that far preceded his fragile exterior. Doggett would hold that memory among his dearest. Doggett had allowed himself to slip away from the present moment for a brief second, only to be greeted by the reality that lay in front of him.

"Brinks dust for fingerprints throughout the scene, Gillett scan for blood splatter beyond the covered radius, Taylor gun powder residue. Everyone else you have your assignments. Let's get to work. There is no such thing as too thorough. Report back as soon as you find something pertinent." Doggett directed his squad with muscle.

Yellow crime scene tape adorned every entrance and caused unwanted attention from passing cars. The doors were already sealed from the last round of investigators. Besides the obvious markers one would have never know that this was the scene of a double homicide. There was no sign of a forced entry nor broken furniture or windows. In fact it was rather serene, the perfect example of a western home in a rural setting. Doggett ducked below the tape and took in the scene. The interior walls were paneled with wood and framed memories scattered the room. Some were place upon the mantle while others were hung on the walls and others still on the ends of side tables. The only sense of the modern world seemed to be a radio stationed on the farthest table. He saw a photo that must have been the most recent. Trees cluttered the landscape and smiling faces adorned the backdrop. There were many children in the photo but he instantly recognized William. His hair was chestnut with just the slightest tones of golden and red. His eyes were a whitened blue like his mothers and he had a slender nose set with a strong boxed jaw. Even though he was a far cry from the infant that Doggett remembered, there was no mistaking whose child he was.

Doggett reached into his left pocket and retrieved a thin plastic bag which read evidence in bold type across the top and placed the frame within it. He was grateful that Scully was performing the autopsy rather than trekking through the past of a son she never knew. An old wooden stair case lead to the bedrooms and the upper living area, Doggett side stepped past toys, trucks and magazines until he reached the entrance to the boy's room. His bedding was blue with Star Wars characters on it. He took a second to chuckle to himself; the boy clearly had his father's fascination with aliens. He seemed to also be quite the artist. The walls were covered with drawings and paintings. Most were of his farm and dog but a curious few had a strange symbol on various items in the sketches. Numerous circles intertwined some resulting in knots and other intersecting with the edges of sister circles. The boy had shaded the inside of the circles to create the perception of weaving. It looked almost Celtic. The curves of the image triggered a vision of a familiar place. Doggett had seen this symbol before but he couldn't recall from where.

Meanwhile downstairs, Mulder entered the home with apprehensions about seeing the life his son had been living. He noticed the fishing poles in the corner and remembered the one time he had been fishing. He was about William's age nine or ten and his father woke him at five so they could watch the sun rise and arrive at the lake before anyone else. They spent the day staring out on the pristine waters of Lake Lucille. They didn't speak of his father's work or of Fox's school but rather enjoyed each other's company for what seemed like the first time and troublingly it would be one of the few times either men would see eye to eye. The father-son team came home victorious with a cooler full of fish and the smell to prove it. Mulder hadn't happened upon that memory since its occurrence yet now he wished he had a clearer recollection of it. He spotted photographs of William as a toddler and forced himself to avoid the surfacing feelings. Mulder followed Doggett's path through the assorted toys to the boy's room where he found the agent scouring the room for any indication of how the boy was taken.

"Agent Doggett, have you found anything?" Mulder asked.

Doggett craned his head around to see Mulder in the doorway. "I haven't had the chance to get an update from my team but I am coming up short. There seems to be no indication of a struggle. William seems to have gone willingly or was incapacitated. He could have known the perpetrator. Maybe a family member, a teacher, or parent of a friend, but as far as I can tell the kidnapper took him just before his parents were killed." Doggett instantly regretted referring to the Van de Kamps as William's parents. Mulder was stubborn as hell and a strong man but the sting of that statement was apparent across his face.

As Mulder began to speak, a young agent approached with a sullen face. She held a tattered drawing in her hands. It pictured a women screaming with many surrounding her. It was night and the crowd occupied a rundown building. The woman was lying on a metal frame bed with another comforting her.

"Sir, there are dozens of versions of this drawing tucked behind the dresser in the master bedroom. They were stuffed in an old shoe box. I'm not sure what they mean but the owners sure as hell didn't want anyone to see them." Agent Brinks said.

Agent Natasha Brinks was the best forensic investigator out of Quantico since Scully herself and was fond of the comparison. She had dedicated three years to field training and her expertise was unmistakable.

"Round up your team and let's get some actual answers." Mulder motioned to the agents that were feverishly working throughout the house. Doggett walked into the hall and raised his voice so all could hear him.

"Agents gather in the front and be ready to report your findings in five."

Mulder took the drawing from the blonde and made his way downstairs. He was on the second step when he glanced out across the room for one last scan. From the corner of his eye, a white glimmer caught his attention from above the ceiling fan.

"Agent Brinks hand me a ladder." Mulder's brow matched the curious look on Brinks' face. He positioned the ladder just below the fan and patted along the edges of each blade until his fingers found the edge of what had grabbed his attention. He untapped it from its convenient hiding place and dust clouded the air around him. As he brought his prize into view, he realized it was a white unmarked envelope. He quickly revealed its contents to be jumbles of consonant words and keyboard symbols. He studied it for a moment before stepping down from the ladder.

"It's an encryption," Agent Brink quickly inserted.

"Thank you for stating the obvious agent but the real trick is in knowing what it says." Mulder gave her a sarcastic smirk. He was more than familiar with encryptions and decoding. He had done a little himself but this was beyond his amateur abilities. The rest of the agents had begun to gather on the porch when Mulder pushed through them and ran to his car.

"Mulder, where are you going? That's evidence we need to book!" Doggett shouted in vain.

"Thanks for the festivities but I'm due in D. C." He exited in complete Mulder fashion with a task at hand and a theory to go with it.

Doggett turned back to the team which had assembled. He was hoping that they had found more than a hand full of drawings but wishful thinking would only result in disappointment. Twelve agents stood around him, none of which had the courage to speak first until the naively brave Brinks chimed in.

"Sir, we haven't come across any new evidence besides the drawing that wasn't covered in the initial survey. I gathered up the pictures but the only real lead we found just walked off with Agent Mulder."

Doggett rubbed his temples and forehead in an attempt to focus and calm himself. He instinctively grabbed for his phone and hit his first speed dial. The phone rang once before being promptly picked up.

"Reyes."

"Monica, do you have anything?"

"I'm afraid I have more questions now than I did before. I finally got a hold of an agency that didn't give me the run around but the documents they sent me only further shadowed what I was hoping to find. It seems that there was an anonymous party that connected William to the Van de Kamps in the first place. I can't seem to find any records to confirm any exchanges but there was definitely a third party involved. I looked over the Van de Kamps financial records and there was no way they could have afforded to adopt. Their house has two mortgages and Mr. Van de Kamp's farming business barely pays the bills. Their credit cards are maxed out and there is a car repossession on fill. However there were monthly deposits made to their account from an untraceable source. I'm guessing whoever wanted William to be placed with this family was footing the bill and they sure went through a lot of trouble to keep their identity a secret. John, I don't think this is a random tragedy. Whoever was after these people had an agenda."

"Have you told Scully or Mulder any of this?"

"No, I didn't want to worry them until I had to."

"Good, I want you to keep all of this to yourself. Don't even report to Skinner. The less people who know what you've found the better, at least until we know the full truth."

"What about you John, have you found anything?"

"Mulder found an encrypted message but disappeared with it. That was the only new evidence we had besides a box of drawings that Brinks found."

"Drawings?"

"They appear to be William's. He depicted the same scene over and over again from different perspectives. Brinks found them stuffed in a box behind the parent's dresser."

"What do they show?"

"I'm not even quite sure. I have them in my possession and will bring them to headquarters but first I have a stop I need to make."

"Alright John but be careful, I don't think we even know what we are dealing with here."


Chapter 7: Anchorage

It had occurred to Doggett during his conversation with Monica just where he had seen the symbol that was scattered among William's drawings. He took the red eye back to Washington and stopped by his house to confirm what his memories were deeming to be true. Upon entering the door, he headed straight for the den where he rummaged through an old photo album. Its leather bound spine was torn from the middle down; the binding was so delicate that he had to force himself to slow down while flipping through the pages. He finally came across the photo he had been searching for. Its edges were bent and scattered white lines embedded it from wear. Along its bordered edge was a hand written note 'John, 23rd infantry 1977'.Pictured were four men standing in front of a shipping dock off Curtis Bay in Baltimore. In the distance a condemned building could be seen. The script along the red bricks read 'Buckley & Sons Brewery'. It was the twisted emblem along the billboard's edge that confirmed Doggett's suspicions; he had seen the symbol before.

He walked over to the oak desk that lined the den's east wall and took a small key from his pocket. He unlocked the center drawer and recovered his black address book. Its pages opened to the S's just as he had intended. Brunette pictured to his left had been is friend since the first time they meet; John had served nearly four years with him yet hadn't spoken to him in twenty. It wasn't long until his eyes skimmed past just the name he was looking for, Daniel Scott. They had shared atrocities that no man should ever have to experience. John dialed the 907 area code to his old friend's Anchorage home. The call took a few moments to begin its succession of rings.

"Scott Residence."

"Danny? It's John Doggett; we served together back in '77."

"Holy hell John, how have you been? It's been…well it's been a damn long time. Last I heard you joined the FBI."

"Well that's actually why I'm calling. Do you remember the bar off Curtis Bay in Baltimore?"

"Remember it, that's where I meet my wife!"

"There's an old brewery right off of 11th, just caddy corner to the bar. Do you know anything about it?"

"You mean Buckley's old place? Yeah legend has it that old man Buckley up and disappeared around '82 and the brewery just sort of died. If I remember correctly he had quite a few of them. Working on a case in Baltimore?"

"Something like that. Who took over after Buckley left?"

"I assume one of his sons but I'm not positive. You know you might try asking Jimmy Stewart. He had a part time job there the summer before he enlisted."

"Alright, I don't mean to run off but I'm on a time constraint, great to talk to you; thanks for your help."

"Don't be a stranger, John."

John knew he would probably never speak to Danny again but he promised to stay in touch all the same. There had to be a connecting factor in this case and the quicker he knew the connection the better but for the moment his gut told him that William's life was in imminent danger.


Chapter 8: Cold Corridors

The cool air of the corridors hit her stronger than the breeze in the D.C. air. While the doors slid open and the stall sterile smell of a medical bay greeted her senses. This was another memory Scully had never expected to experience again. She had both studied and taught at Quantico but most importantly she had uncovered many mysteries here. Mysteries that had so unceremoniously led to the very spot she now found herself in today. She slid her fingers along the railings and processed just what it was she was doing and just how far she had let her mind wonder over the years. The portraits on the wall were just as they had been and the gut wrenching feelings she had so often taken through the exit doors rushed back to her. Amongst them, the sinking feeling that she might have made a mistake choosing to run, a mistake in giving in for her own comfort but most of all in thinking anyone could protect her son better that she could. Yes she had made a difference as a doctor, she had saved countless lives and had helped families to heal but at the FBI she was giving a voice to those who were screaming with no one to hear them through the darkness. She found the very truths that would have otherwise never have seen the light of day. She inhaled letting the full weight of her miseries fall upon her shoulders and as she rarely did, she began to cry.

Hard sobs threatening to emerge, Scully looked to her left and saw an unoccupied lab that she quickly retreated to. Time slowed and her vision blurred while the salt from her tears left its evidence along her face. She watched as the first droplet splashed against the metal edge of a microscope. The only other time she had cried with such vigor was as a small child.

They say the first real heartbreak stings far worse than those that proceed. The revelation that the world and all of its cruelties has finally visited you and can steal the breath from your lungs frightens even the most of courageous souls. Scully dabbed at the corners of her eyes and with all of the strength she could muster forced her overwhelming feelings back into their tightly locked box, where even Mulder knew not of their existence. Her fingers wrapped soullessly around the door handle and pulled its frame toward her as her eyes meet Monica's.

"I've been looking for you. Have you found out anything about the victims?" Monica said.

"I haven't even begun the autopsies."

"Dana have you been crying? Are you ok?"

"Yes Monica I'm fine. Now I have work to do."

Scully took no hesitation in turning her stained face from Monica and made her way down the corridor toward the morgue. Monica wished so deeply that Scully would trust her enough to let her in, to help ease her fears. She could see that Scully was in such pain and bared the brunt of it alone. Scully would forever be the porcelain queen atop her sorrowful tower with no one able to reach her. Monica hoped that one day she would allow herself a confidant.


Scully meticulously covered herself with faded blue scrubs and adorned her hands with latex. A white mask covered her face from ear to ear and extended below her chin and to the bridge of her nose. She wheeled out the identical gurneys that held the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Van de Kamp. She slowly uncovered Mrs. Van de Kamp's face from underneath the hospital issue ivory sheet. Her face was slender and her brunette hair was pulled back to reveal her features. This had been the women who had watched her son grow. She feed him, bathed him and comforted him when he was afraid. Scully wiped the sweat from her brow with the top of her wrist, moving a fallen strand of red hair from her eyes as she did so. No matter, Mrs. Van de Kamp was now Scully's only clue as to the whereabouts of her son. Her son, she'd forgotten the sweet serenity of the statement. She pulled a small black tape recorder from the pocket of her shirt and spoke softly into the miniature microphone.

"The time is thirteen hundred hours on the tenth of September twenty ten; subject is a white female approximately thirty eight. I'll begin the exam with a Y incision."

Scully used the scalpel placed on the tray next to the exam table to trace an incision into the women's chest. She cracked her sternum and did an internal exam. She weighed her stomach followed by her intestines and quickly moved on to the cranial portion of the autopsy. She paid close attention to the entrance wounds on her skulls; traces of gun powder residue encircled the wound which was to be expected. Though she knew the outcome, she checked for abnormal occurrences per Mulder's request. She performed the same procedures on Mr. Van de Kamp. The autopsies progressed with little out of the ordinary. Scully sent for full toxicology screenings to be performed as well as a full blood workup on each. Both victims' were ruled homicides with cause of death being one point blank gunshot to the head. She'd expected to find little in the way of answers but it still disappointed her to be no closer to William than she had been before. Perhaps the blood tests would provide some insights. Scully ventured out into the hallway, where Monica had been patiently waiting for answers.

"Anything?" Monica asked

"Nothing conclusive, I'm still waiting for some test results but we seem to be at a standstill. There is no indication of who the killer might be. Both victims were shot between the eyes with a 9mm. Ballistics reported the edges of the bullets had been shaved to cover any identifying marks of a manufacturer. Even the killer's cleanup was impeccable."

"I just spoke to John and they didn't find much else in Wyoming. He's headed back to report to Skinner. Do you want me to relay your findings? "

"I'm waiting on the results of the blood tests and toxicology report. I don't want to report anything until I'm sure that there is nothing to be found here."

"Let me know when you know something."

Scully nodded in acknowledgement and watched as Monica walked down the hollowed corridor. A set of beige chairs lined the wall and Scully found herself drawn to them. She rubbed the bridge of her nose and sat on the farthest chair. Her head fit perfectly within her hands as she took a moment to rest.

"Dr. Scully?"

"Yes."

She lifted her head to meet the eyes of a man who couldn't have been more than twenty-five. His eyes seized her attention with their emerald tint. He wore a white physician's coat and held a manila folder in his left hand. The stethoscope around his neck swayed in rhythm with the heartbeat she could now feel in her throat.

"Your autopsy results, ma'am."

"Thank you."

She cleared her throat and picked at the sealed label of the envelope.


Chapter 9: Breaking In

Though the fall had begun to immerge, most of the residences of D.C. didn't find the need to stop and acknowledge it. Even fewer realized there was an outside world beyond their line of sight. None of them realized that the man in the car next to them was rushing against time and his own notions of the future to uncover the message he had found taped to a ceiling fan. Mulder's own amateur decoding abilities had only helped him realize the date in the upper right hand corner and a jumble of nonsense throughout the rest of the text.

The journey from his car, through the lobby and the ride in a crowded elevator barely fazed him. They were all smudges compared to the focus of his attention. While working in the Bureau, Mulder had made contacts in all areas of investigation and at this instance he had called upon Teresa Knowles, the best code breaker and creator know to the states. She discovered Mulder's work in early '95 when she intercepted a transmission from Oxford containing his records. She had kept tabs on him ever since. On many an occasion she knew what Mulder was in for long before he did. There was no one she trusted more.

Teresa found little that shocked her but Fox Mulder, he kept her in awe and now she was the key to the next puzzle piece in the hunt for William. Mulder seemed to appear just as her thought of him had, out of the blue.

"Teresa, anything worth reporting?" Mulder asked, out of breath.

"Once I found the key symbols and could coordinate the simple dialect the rest was a synch."

"And?"

"It's a threat. ..Here see for yourself."

As you know the time for William is at hand. You have served us well and we have compensated you for your services. On the eve of September 15th the exchange will be made. If we see any hesitation on your part, the consequences will be grave.

1511 York Ave Georgetown

Mulder could barely believe what he was reading. The threat had been against William this whole time. Despite every effort he and Scully made, William was still in danger. The lump in his throat began to crawl but his throat and nausea was a quick chaser. What would he tell Scully? He couldn't tell her that the greatest sacrifice she had ever made was in vain. He also couldn't keep such a perilous secret to himself.

"Fox, there's more, whoever sent this wasn't bright enough to seal the envelope without saliva. I sent the letter and envelope to forensics and we got a match… Douglas Masterson."

"As in Senator Masterson?"

"One and the same."

"Thanks Teresa, I owe you."

"You owe me more than one."

Mulder darted past the lab equipment and toward the nearest exit but not before flashing Teresa his best smile of gratitude. He had little in the way of a plan but that had never stopped him before. He ran down the corridor toward the green exit sign hoping this was the lead he had been looking for. Mulder reached for his cell phone in his jacket pocket and dialed Skinner's office. Being the precise man Mulder knew he was, Skinner picked up on the first ring.

"Skinner."

"Sir, I need you to track down an address for me," Mulder said.

"What goose chase have you found yourself in now, Mulder?"

"One that I'm hoping turns up a golden egg."

"And who are you presuming is a golden egg?"

"Senator Masterson. I need his home address."

"Absolutely not, I don't want to be the one subpoenaed for your trespassing hearing!"

"Sir, trust me this will go off without a hitch… and I won't be on tomorrow's Washington post, I promise."

"Why do I get the feeling I'm about to make a mistake?"

"Have I ever steered you wrong before, on second thought don't answer that."

"Give me five minutes, and Mulder if this goes south you're on your own and try not to get yourself arrested this early in the investigation."

Though Skinner had asked for five minutes he called Mulder back in two with just the information he had been seeking. Senator Masterson lived in an upscale neighborhood within Fairfax County. It didn't surprise Mulder in the least that this particularly shady Senator would call Fairfax home. Known for its lush lifestyle and privileged families, it was just the place for a well to do Senator to set up shop.

The twenty five minute car ride to Masterson's front door was spent musing over the possible connections he could have to the Van de Kamps and William. Despite the fact that Mulder was anything but underprivileged as a kid, exuberant wealth always found a way of getting under his skin. The homes were fenced with neatly kept shrubbery and lawn accessories. Masterson's home was surrounded by much of the same except it was one of the few that wasn't closed off by a gigantic security fence. Instead the house was lined with a modest white fence of about waist height.

Mulder parked three houses down, shut off his headlights and waited to see just who was home. The Lincoln in the driveway indicated that one of the family members was currently at home but Mulder knew better than to trust what was right in front of him. In the twenty minutes Mulder watched the house, none of the lights came on and he saw no movement within the house. An upper room window showed a computer and a desk; that was where he needed to be.

Mulder exited the car carefully as to not make a sound and alert any neighborhood dogs. He nonchalantly began to walk along the sidewalk toward the house. Instead of going straight to the Masterson's home he walked passed and entered the side yard of the neighbors. An unsteady drainpipe lined the west side of the house and passed to the left of the office window. He placed one foot on the metal piece connecting to the house and within two steps he was on the first floor roof. He ducked below the first window and placed his back to the siding as he shimmed open the office window. Without as much as a thud he entered the office and took a brief moment to take in his surroundings. He immediately went to the computer and sat on the leather clad rolling chair.

Without surprise, the computer displayed a password log in. Mulder attached a sleek black drive to the computer's port which quickly randomized all possibilities based on the password length and soon came up with the correct log in. Once he had access Mulder began to shuffle through all of Masterson's documents and files. Most of the documents were budget charts and current voting polls. He even came across a few school papers no doubt done by Masterson's children but nothing of significance. In one last effort to find what he had come for Mulder hacked into the command sequence of the computer and looked for hidden or encrypted files. Somewhat to his surprise one suspicious document was generated titled 'Dr. Hermes Research'. It was in fact an entire folder of documents relating to this Dr. Hermes.

The creek of the front door knob turning was unmistakable. Mulder's pulse quickened and his fingers began to cramp at the prospect of getting caught. He rapidly copied all documents in the 'Research' folder and unplugged the drive he had used to hack into the computer. He carefully tucked it into his pocket and returned the office chair to its original position. He silently slipped out of the window he had come in and disappeared into the night.


Chapter 10: Memories May Be Beautiful And Yet

Blood seeped from the small paper cut along Scully's index finger. A droplet fell splashing along the corner of the autopsy envelope. She had been in such a hurry to see the results; she hadn't even noticed the cut until the red stain caught her eye. She quickly dabbed at the envelope and brought her finger to her mouth to ease the pain and stop the bleeding. After a few moments of clean up, she once again tore at the envelope to free the autopsy blood test results. Everything seemed pretty standard as her eyes scanned along the information. Nothing of consequence on the toxicology report and normal levels of blood platelets recorded at 275 and 315 k/cu mm respectively. No signs of anemia with red and white blood cell ratios within standard range. All blood sugar and pressure levels were acceptable as well. Scully didn't expect to find any huge revelations among the results but she was disappointed none the less. As she pondered what to do next her phone began to vibrate in her lab coat pocket.

"Scully"

"I've got something that might shed some light on this whole case."

"Mulder what are you talking about?"

"Trust me Scully. You are going to need to see this yourself to make sense of it."

"I'm on my way."


Scully entered her and Mulder's apartment not sure of what she should expect. Mulder had been direct on the phone but not panicked. She fumbled for her keys making just enough noise that Mulder opened the door before she could find her missing keys and enter herself.

"Mulder, what is it that just couldn't wait?"

"Scientists have unlocked great mysteries of human genetic have they not?" Mulder asked.

"Yes, but it's a bit more complicated than that the actual human genome project was completed in 2000 but scientists are still gaining insight by the day. There have since been massive extensions on the project moving into further study of diploids. We know far more that we did even six months ago but the premise of knowing all that the human genome is made up of is still a far cry from within reach. What does this have to do with the case?"

"Make sense of this for me." Mulder motioned to the computer monitor near the window.

Intrigued, Scully moved to the computer monitor without hesitation. Her eyes widened as she absorbed the content the screen held. Each paragraph seemed to brighten her face more than the latter. The light from the screen showed her face's every mark and freckle. Mulder relished a second and remembered the first time he had discovered each of the freckles. He first noticed the fragile one just above her right eyebrow during a six hour car trip to southern West Virginia. She had fallen asleep with her head propped against the window. Her ashy hair blew with the sway of the wind and the sun lay on her face just enough to highlight the tan embellishment. His favorite however was hidden behind her hair at the nap of her neck. This one would never be forgotten or how he first became acquainted with it. Mulder was shaken from his precious memories by the one he shared the memories with.

"Mulder this is incredible. Where did you find this?"

"Let's just say I borrowed it."

"On any other basis this would be considered science fiction but there is supporting documentation right here. Mulder do you realize what this could mean, it would change the way doctors, scientist, and researchers approach medicine entirely. This is the makeup of a test subjects DNA structuring with complete analysis of enhanced abilities based on his genetic composition. Who is the primary on these studies?"

"Every case was supervised by a Dr. Hermes, a French man. I did a little research on him and it seems they used a pseudonym for the actual researcher's identity. The only Jacques Hermes I could find was born in 1909. He was a scientist but I highly doubt that a 100 year old man would be making ground breaking scientific discoveries. No to mention the actual Dr. Hermes died in 1993."

"Incredible, according to these case files patient X's genetic structure is comprised of a twenty fourth pair of chromosomes that seems to be casing what is a significant amount of what could only be described as junk DNA. He exhibits increased brain functionality with MRI scans showing activity in sectors that have been classified as dormant. Dr. Hermes also mentions in detail that the boy possesses unexplainable abilities." Scully guided Mulder's eyes to the doctor's descriptions of his patient.

The boy was secured in an inescapable dormitory but under review of the security cameras he caused the very lock on his door to move as if by telekinesis and in turn the boy was able to escape. He was later apprehended and put under 24 hour watch were he continued to exhibit presumably supernatural behavior. I have only come across two individuals in my years of study that have been able to complete these feats. Both boys share only one common trait; the structure in which their DNA is organized. My team can only conclude that their particular abilities come from the unidentifiable strands of DNA that are contained within their 24thchromosome pair.


Chapter 11: His Favorite Pass Time

The last of the days light formed inch thick lines along the carpet as it shown through the blinds of a darkened office. There were rarely moments that any form of light found its way past the threshold of this organization. The men that worked behind these doors were shrouded in secrecy and being crushed under the weight of their deeds. The hallways were cold and carried with them an eerie silence. Even the corridors of a morgue gave more hope that these walls. The powerful man governed this moratorium and led these disheartened men but carried none of their guilt.

On this particular evening he sat and partook in his favorite of pass times. While his fingers drummed against the oak desk in rhythm with the swirl of the ceiling fan, his full attention was claimed by the black palm pilot in his hand. He stroked the back of the portable device and delighted in its current display. Across the screen a jagged green line monitored the heartbeat of an unsuspecting individual. Their blood pressure, intracranial pressure, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate were also exhibited and to the powerful man's true amusement could be changed with the click of a button. However, this subject was far too valuable to be done away with in an instance and the cargo she carried even more precious. With each passing second the numbers fluxuated as the individual breathed all the while unaware that her every vital sign was being monitored. The powerful man pushed the intercom and summoned his secretary to his side.

"I think it's time that we let our friends know what we know. Make the arrangements for a meeting this time tomorrow. I'm interested to see the progress they've made." The powerful man said.

"Yes sir right away."

His secretary quickly exited breathing a sigh of relief that she had not incurred his rage this time. The powerful man's attention was once again drawn to the vital signs displayed in his palm. He sat in full amusement wondering the activity with which his precious subject was partaking in that could cause such a spike in her blood pressure. He vocalized his thoughts once he was certain he was in solitude.

"Oh Ms. Scully if you only knew what we know about you."


Chapter 12: Familiar Coincidences

Rain drenched the asphalt that surrounded a red brick building. It continued its assault on the facility and its surroundings, leaving no landmark untouched by its soaked wrath. Thunder echoed through the otherwise seemingly silent lot. The industrial backdrop was separated from the building by a high wired fence with coiled spikes adorning its steel top. Condemned signs garnished every entrance and glass window panel that the building possessed. The Buckley Brewery was at one time an esteemed establishment that attributed to more than half of Baltimore's alcohol distribution. Now it stood abandoned near the waters of Curtis Bay.

John Doggett wasn't one to let a clue be passed by. A Celtic symbol that Monica informed him meant 'immortality' hung above his head in its full glory. He couldn't seem to grasp why an eight year old boy would have this rare and foreign symbol continue to pop up in all of his artwork but he was sure as hell going to find out.

"John, did you want the bolt cutters?" Monica asked.

"Yeah let's cut through over by the mill."

"I don't understand what exactly we are supposed to find here."

"I'm not quite sure either but my gut's telling me that whatever it is we'll find it in there."

"Are you sure about this?"

"No"

John took the cutters from Monica and continued on toward the south end of the brewery. The fencing seemed to be far newer that its surrounding and the fact caught both agents' attention. After creating a big enough entrance, John tucked the bolt cutters behind a shrub that lined the outer perimeter of the fence. He lifted the fencing and let Monica duck to enter ahead of him. After she was safely on the other side, he proceeded to follow. He placed the fence back to its original orientation as to not warrant unwanted attention from any passersby. When Doggett turned toward the building, Monica was already propping open a window for them to climb through. He would never admit it but her assertiveness was what he found most attractive.

"John!"

"Monica, are you ok?"

He was in a full sprint to get to her before he could finish his sentence. The pounding of his shoes sounded louder than thunder as they smacked against the pavement. Each one stronger than the proceeding, John was by her side in seconds. Upon first glance she seemed to be unharmed. She had climbed to a second story window after unsuccessfully trying to pry open those on the ground level. John quickly followed her path up the fire escape and once he was in view of what the window contained he understood Monica's sudden outburst.

He expected to see decaying surroundings covered in dust and archaic brewing equipment but everything was quite to the contrary. The room housed large steel vats connected to each other by plastic tubing. They lined the north wall adjacent from a set of glass freezers containing even more steel vats. These were unlike any brewing equipment he had ever seen and he suspected they were anything but. Cylinders and burners were present on the counters. In the furthest corner, there was an exam area complete with many pieces of equipment John couldn't identify. Though this room was empty John worried about who they would encounter on the other side; letting her curiosity take over Monica was already well into the room when John finally entered through the second story window.

Monica pressed her ear to the door and quieted her breathing. She heard the same silence on the other side of the door that she did within the room. The cress between John's brow told her not to proceed but she had already begun to turn the door handle. To John's relief there was no one on the other side but what they were greeted by was enough to speed his heartbeat. Directly in front of them was a railing that overlooked the main floor of the building. Hundreds of beds arranged in rows filled the floor for as far as the eye could see. Men and women in full medical garb monitored each subjects' vitals with extreme precision. For every subject there was a corresponding practitioner. With every wave of new information that the vital monitor displayed, the practitioner recorded the new data. They were meticulous in their focus and despite the noise that Monica and John made they weren't shaken from their trances.

From the opposite end of the corridor, voices echoed from the elevator. John instinctively grabbed Monica's arm and pulled her into the nearest room. Once shielded by the safety of the door he realized just how close in proximity they were. Her back was pressed against the ivory wall and the weight of his chest lay comfortably upon hers. A rapid heartbeat could be felt along the nap of her neck where John's face rested. He could tell she was about to speak when the hot air from her throat coasted along his jaw line.

"John, turn around."

Monica's voice was a low whisper and carried a bit of apprehension. The slightest edge could be detected by only the most observant listeners and John knew the tune to which her voice followed. He knew its every note. He gradually turned and took in what lay before him. It was another surgical room but this one was occupied. A body was sprawled along the examination table with his faced pointed out of sight. Monica took the first step toward the unconscious body with John not far behind her.

The boy was in his early twenties but looked like he had lived through more than his share of hell. Scars scattered his forearms from numerous nettle punctures. His skin was pale with a jaundice like glaze. Tubes escaped from his airway and looped through his nasal cavity. His identity was still shielded by the angle at which he lay. Monica reached her hand toward his arm and flinched at the clammy feel of his skin. At first glance he could have been anyone's son or brother but when Monica found the courage to turn him toward her the boy's identity was obvious. Inhaling violently she could barely form the words to express who lay before her.

"Gibson…John he's bleeding!"

John hadn't seen the boy's identity yet when Monica revealed it. He rushed to the opposite side of the hospital bed and saw blood seeping from the right side of his head. A gash ran from his ear to the middle of his forehead. The wound was new and hadn't formed a significant puddle of blood but being a head wound it soon would. John flipped the unconscious Gibson onto his side to see just how bad the wound was. It seemed to be superficial but with the blood covering most of his right side certainty was an impossibility.

"I'm going to slowly pick him up I want you to unhook the IV and see if we can get him off these monitors without alerting anyone. Ok one, two, and three," John said.

Monica removed the nettle from his forearm and replaced it with a piece of gauze. Another piece of gauze poked out of a nearby drawer, Monica used it to bandage the laceration on his head as best she could. She then looked at the monitor to make sure he wasn't hooked up to a ventilator. When she was sure that he was breathing on his own, she unplugged the tubes that lead from his nose to his mouth without removing the tubes themselves. John lifted Gibson from his bed and placed his head along his shoulder.

"Let's go," John said

"Wait." She grabbed for the chart attached to his bed hoping it would prove useful. "Ok."

As she had done before Monica placed her ear against the door. She motioned for John to proceed once she was sure there was no one in the hallway. They slowly traced their steps back to the room they had entered the building through. Blood soaked John's shirt and Gibson's body began to shake.

"He's losing too much blood!" Monica yelled at the height of a whisper.

John placed Gibson on the hard floor and ripped the sleeves off the shirt he was wearing. He wrapped them tightly around Gibson's head and applied pressure.

"Come on Gibson, stay with me."

After securely wrapping the laceration again, John lifted Gibson and entered the fire escape landing. The moment John's foot hit the railing a piercing siren rang out. Monica looked up from the lower landing as her eyes froze on John and Gibson. With much effort John made the ten steps to the ground with Gibson draped over his shoulder. His footing was dangerously unstable and he nearly missed the final step. As he reached the end, Monica took some of the weight of Gibson so John could safely reach the ground.

It wasn't two seconds before they reached the point they had cut through the fence. The siren continued to sound and search lights swirled overhead. Thankfully they were out of sight behind the shrub in which they had hidden the bolt cutters. Once they reached the car, John laid Gibson across the backseat with Monica watching over him. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed the only doctor he trusted.


Chapter 13: Sleepless Serenades

The chill of a fall night cut at Mulder's face as he and Scully exited the car into the wind. Though the capital was only forty miles from Charm City, the commute took over two hours. Entering the hospital's emergency bay through automatic doors, the click of Scully's heels resonated down the corridors of Harbor Hospital. Her pulse quickened as her pace did. Mulder had to take longer strides just to keep up with her. The florescent lights shone brightly as they turned the corner to the intensive care unit. Doggett and Reyes were stationed in the waiting area and rose to their feet as soon as Mulder and Scully came into their line of sight. Mulder immediately saw Doggett's blood soaked shirt and increased his jog to a full out run.

"How is he? Did he say anything? Where was he found?" Mulder said

Mulder was close to the boy he had spent more than a year hiding out within the New Mexico desert. He had learned many a thing about the boy who could literally read his every thought. Having grown up with such extraordinary talents, Gibson had learned to adapt to his surroundings with incredible precision. Though he had spent most of his adolescence in hiding, Gibson knew plenty of the world, far more than many his age. Knowing that, Mulder wondered what had to have happened for Gibson to be found in such a state.

"The doctor hasn't released much other than he is in stable condition. He assured me they would keep us up to date on his progress as soon as they knew more" Monica said.

"Monica and I went to investigate a possible lead when we found Gibson within a condemned building," John said

"You found him in an abandoned building?" Scully questioned.

"Not exactly, the building we were investigating was marked condemned but was very much in use. It was a testing facility of some sort. We didn't get the chance to confirm any specifics. Gibson was unconscious in one of the testing facilities when we found him," Monica said.

"His head was cut from his ear to nearly the middle of his forehead. He lost a lot of blood but I think we got him here in time. We don't know for sure what else he might have been suffering from," Doggett said.

"This is ludicrous. I'm getting some answers." Scully headed for the nurse's station.

"A young man was brought in approximately two hours ago by the name of Gibson Praise. He was suffering from a severe head laceration," Scully said.

"What is your relationship to the boy?" the nurse asked.

"I'm his primary physician, Dr. Dana Scully."

"Alright it says here he came in with a BP of 70 over 65, pulse 40, multiple contusions and internal bleeding. Doctors are pushing fluids to combat severe dehydration. He was given a transfusion to compensate for the blood loss due to his injuries. The next few hours are critical, he's stable but the next couple of hours are up to him but I don't have to tell you that. Do you know what medications he is currently taking?"

"None to my knowledge."

Scully walked back to the three agents pacing three separate grooves into the patterned carpet of the waiting room. She knew Mulder was struggling with this, Gibson had helped fill the loneliness he had felt during his year apart from Scully and William .He had provided companionship in Mulder's darkest moments and because of his special gifts knew secrets that even Scully wasn't privy to. She would have to tread lightly with this one. As she approached the waiting area, she could feel the apprehension build in her throat.

"He's in serious but stable condition. They have him on a stringent regimen of fluids and antibiotics in case of any infection. He's resting now but we should be able to speak with him by morning." Scully breathed a sigh of relief when she no longer had to carry those words.

"I'll stay. Agent Doggett you and Monica can get some sleep and we can contact you in the morning," Mulder said.

"I wouldn't mind a little shut eye. Skinner's been briefed on the situation; he wants a full report first thing in the morning," Doggett said.

"Dana, let us know if you need anything," Monica said.

Monica lightly placed her hand on Scully's shoulder. She nodded her appreciation for the gesture, while Mulder had already made his way to the nearest sofa; his hand shaded his eyes from the harsh hospital lights. Concentration didn't come easy as his thoughts compiled. Thousands of cases hadn't managed to rile him as much as the past few days had. The gentle touch of Scully's hand upon his chest was a welcome comfort. Despite his objections, he drifted to sleep.


Chapter 14: To My Dismay

Morning broke at 5:43 am and by the look in her eyes, Scully hadn't slept and news of Gibson's condition hadn't come. Mulder rolled to his side and soon after to a sitting position. His muscles ached with fatigue. A creek was heard as he lifted his arms above his head to stretch his back out. Scully stood in front of the vending machine cursing it for having just stolen her money. Coffee, even hospital coffee, would bring Mulder completely back to life. A young doctor approached as soon as she saw that Mulder was awake.

"Sir, he's awake if you'd like to speak to him."

Mulder rubbed the corner of his eyes to rid himself of the last signs of sleep and diligently followed the attending to ICU room 27. Gibson was hooked up to every possible machine with monitor surrounding his bed. He had grown since Mulder had seen him last, traces of an early mustache lined his upper lip. His features were more distinct than Mulder remembered and to his astonishment he must have grown three inches. As he approached, Gibson sifted in his bed and faced Mulder.

"Agent Mulder" His voice was horse.

"It's just Mulder now. So my 'stay hidden' speech didn't take huh?"

Gibson chuckled soon to his dismay as the pain in his abdomen returned. He enjoyed that Mulder always said what was on his mind. It made it easy to trust him and caused fewer headaches trying to decipher what he was thinking.

"Do you remember how you got to Maryland?" Mulder asked.

"Men came in the night and took me by car. I wasn't sure where I was going at first; I couldn't hear what they were thinking. They didn't think as humans do."

"How long have you been here?"

"Two years."

As Gibson finished his sentence, Scully entered through the sliding door coffee in hand. An understated smile spread across her face as she met eyes with Gibson. She would be forever grateful for the oasis he had provided Mulder with, even if it had meant their separation.

"Hello Gibson," Scully said.

"Can you tell us anything about where you were?" Mulder asked.

"William's not there. She's worried that he is but he's not. He has been there before but he's not there now."

Scully would never get used to the fact that Gibson knew what she was thinking before she did. She fought the tears that his statement threatened to bring and forced herself to focus and not give way to her emotions.

"Gibson, what was the facility for?" Mulder asked.

"A project you assumed was dead isn't. It lives but under a different leader. He learned his craft from the man who smoked cigarettes. The plans for domination continue and William is the key to its success. The aliens don't know he is what they hoped he'd be. When you saw him move the mobile over his crib as a baby, you feared the worst. You were right."

Scully's pleasant expression soon shifted to one of disbelief. She searched Mulder's features for his response but before she could he had picked up the carton of milk on Gibson's hospital tray and flung it across the room toward the wall. His frustrations had been building over the passing days; knowing his son was missing and now hearing news that the very organization he had spent most of his adult life fighting was alive and well, could send him over the edge. Scully did nothing to comfort him knowing her every effort would only cause him to slip deeper. He hadn't let himself grieve the first time William was taken from them and now he had another reason to blame himself for the lives they were all leading. Scully's face was stanch and serious as she collected her thoughts and searched for the exact words she wanted to express herself.

"Agent Spender injected my son with an alloy, he cured him. I saw the injection site. I tested that alloy myself. It was an unrecognized metal. I saved my son from this life, from this endless irrelevant pursuit," Scully remarked.

Unable to control her emotions any longer a tear found its way down Scully's cheek. The realization that all of the sacrifices she had made could have been in vain smacked into her chest with the force of a semi. She had spent the better part of years convincing herself that she had done right by her son. She had faced the criticism of her family over a decision she had stuck by that was now coming unraveled within a single conversation.

"Agent Spender was feed misinformation. He was setup. He played straight into the projects hands. All of the information he received was planted; the alloy that William was injected with was a magnetite mixture but someone with William's powers isn't debilitated by it only stunted. It acted as a pause. William will fully regain his abilities on the eve of his tenth birthday. He is not the only one of his kind just the first. You've wondered this very worry before, that he might be more than a normal child."

"Why, why do they want him? What will he help them accomplish." Scully was now visibly upset.

"He's the one thing they could never create, a perfect human child without human frailties. He's different, down to his DNA. Any child you conceive will share his traits."

Gibson stopped and absorbed what Scully wasn't saying. Unlike Mulder, Scully always thought before she spoke and often edited what she let the world hear. Scully turned her head to see Mulder's reaction to the immense amount of information they had both been handed.

"Go," Mulder whispered.

Mulder had answered the question Scully never posed. He knew she needed to prove what she had just heard. She said nothing as she exited the ICU. Mulder turned his attention to Gibson who wasn't finished sharing secrets.

"She's keeping something from you," Gibson said.


Chapter 15: Be Without Always

Though she was confused at what the future held for her family she was sure that she'd be damned if she didn't use every resource she had to save her son and her family. Scully found herself back at Quantico franticly trying to disprove what she had learned from Gibson. When William was an infant she had his cord blood frozen and shipped to a medical warehouse for safe keeping. Cord blood was mainly for treating diseases such as leukemia but the DNA in the sample would be used to unlock the mysteries of her son's abilities. The sample was rushed across town by a medical currier and arrived late in the afternoon. It was well past the all-important 48 hour window for a missing persons case but Scully was convinced that William was still alive.

She meticulously suited up in her scrubs, covered her hands with the latex gloves stored in the dispenser above the sink and began the process of uncovering her son's genetics. She carefully placed a droplet of blood on a thin slide. The high resolution microscope on the counter next to her was her first stop. The slide was placed under the metal holders while Scully adjusted the scope to its clearest picture. Another sample of William's blood was in the process of being separated by high speed rotations.

The next hours would pass with a haze as Scully used her expertise. Her eyes strained to piece together the microscopic information that lay before her. It didn't take long to see that Gibson had been speaking with veracity. Scully held in front of her a transparency that displayed 24 sets of human chromosomes. She was beyond speechless. The transparency quivered in her grip as her muscles began to sake.


Chapter 16: Double Helix

The door was sound proof despite its transparency. The couples every gesture was clear but the words that escaped their mouths were inaudible. Scully was still dressed head to toe in her blue scrubs while Mulder was clad in his work suit with the tie unbound and loose around his neck. Neither wanted to face the implications of what William's DNA revealed but the truth was staring them in the face with nowhere else for them to look.

"I tested the samples twice; it's all here in black and white. William was one of Dr. Hermes test subjects his DNA proves it. He has a 24th pair of chromosomes. It's unheard of, in fact it's a scientific impossibility but I can't deny what is right in front of me. Mulder, his DNA makeup is unlike anything I have ever seen. If I was able to see an MRI scan of his brain, I have no doubt there would be activity in regions of his brain previously known to be dormant .Mulder, this changes everything. He'll never be safe, not if they find out what he is capable of," Scully said.

"Then we have to make sure the project never discovers what he is. There is a possibility that they are already aware of his abilities and that is why he is missing and the Van de Kamps suffered the fates they did," Mulder said.

"I thought I protected him from an existence of fear, an existence of darkness and running. Instead I threw him into the fire."

"You did protect him. You gave him the life you thought he would be missing if he were in hiding with us. Never think you didn't do all you could for him."

"How different would his life have been had I chosen to keep him with us? How different would we have been? Mulder I don't want to fight anymore, I don't think I have any fight left in me. How can he ever forgive me? How did you ever forgive me?"

Mulder placed his hand around the point of her chin and guided her head up to meet his eyes. He knew every nuance of the blue that flooded her eyes and the lines the years had brought to frame them. She had endured more pain in her years than many did in a lifetime. She faced the deaths of her loved ones and stared death in the face herself. She had felt the cold nip of mortality and lived to tell her solemn tale. She had raised a son on her own and was then forced to make the crippling decision to let someone else claim the title of his mother for the sake of his safety and a normal life for him. Dana Scully never seized to take his breath away; her simple presence caused his chest to tighten. Her sheer will to persevere astonished him. She had been his strength for 17 years, his touchstone. He would never have survived without her as his compass. How was he to comfort his strength when she felt she was crumbling? Without the hesitation of previous years, his lips connected with her and instantly comforted her. While breathing in the essence of her courage, he brought her close and rested her burdened head along his shoulder. His mouth lay near her ear as he begun to speak.

"Dana, I never needed to forgive you. You are the only one I trust, the only one I've ever trusted. We carried the pain of losing our son and the hole that his presence left behind together. You never have to do this alone, I won't let you. The cruelties of this world will find him no matter where he turns. You don't give up, you never have, it's not who you are."

She sighed heavily into his embrace and gradually accepted the circumstances fate had dealt them.


Chapter 17: Illusions or Memories?

The memories weren't his but they visited him often, never altering in their appearance. It was night fall and the Earth was blanket by darkness to shield the secret location of an extraordinary arrival. A lone star shone bright over a brunette who indulged in her craving for nicotine. The smoke slid past her parted lips and dispensed into the night sky. She was mere steps from the side of a woman she would never admit her affection for. She had taken her miles from home in hopes of protecting her. The road which they traveled to the hidden springs was dirt and the only source of water came from a well. The brunette had taken an aged room and made it glisten for the arrival of a child.

The women were not alone; a man with the intent to kill the child seemed to defy the very existence of death. Others began to gather to witness for themselves the coming of a promised miracle. The woman in labor screamed and held tight to the railing of a metal bed frame repeating the same mantra 'don't let them take him'. Her face was plastered in sweat as the exertion of struggle took its toll. Her voice sang low and sweet and far too familiar to ignore.

The amber ambiance played in his memory like a half written song longing for an ending. He recognized her voice, it spoke to him of someone and somewhere he was destined to remember. William longed to recall the voice that visited him every night upon his slumber.


Chapter 18: Never the Undead

The black SUVs circled the lot where the condemned brewery stood. Doggett was the first to exit as the fleet came to a halt. He had informed Skinner of his and Monica's findings the night before and he was immediately ordered to seize the warehouse. The entirety of the fleet donned blue FBI issue jackets that displayed the agency's name in neon yellow across the backs and along the right side of the chest. His team had been dually informed that they were to seize any evidence available and harm none but taken into custody ant who weren't test subjects. John directed his team to the slit in the wire fence he had created the night before. Twenty agents swiftly crossed over into the lot and swarmed the building in record time. Monica was among the agents; her brunette hair was swept up onto the top of her head and only her long bands hung free. Her arms pointed out straight with a gun attached to the end of them. Full armed she was against the building first. Her hazel eyes pierced with focus as the full team assembled along the outer walls.

"On three we move forward. One, Two, Three!" John directed.

Fleets on both sides kicked in the main entrances and filtered into the main floor. Soot rouse as the doors hit the ground with vigor. As the dust settled John began to realize his mistake in waiting twenty four hours to get a team to the site. An abandoned warehouse came into clearer view. Every piece of equipment, freezer and test subject had been moved. With no sign of what he and Monica had witnessed before, he immediately retrieved his phone.

"Skinner."

"Sir, there's nothing here. It's been moved."

"Agent, I didn't send you with twenty men to come up empty handed. Put them to good use and find out what happened."

Doggett turned to Monica in hopes that she had already come to some conclusions. Recognizing his familiar questioning stare she reached in her back pocket for her phone.

"Mulder."

"Mulder are you with Gibson by any chance?"

"Yeah he's right here let me get him."

"Hello, Agent Reyes?"

"Gibson, listen carefully this is very important. Do you know where the facility you were at would take test subjects if they moved locations?"

"There are dozens of facilities all across the country. I was taken to a place I recognized near the library of congress a few months ago. It was larger and housed more subjects that the Baltimore location. There's an office building near the parking areas. The whole north side is occupied by the project."

Monica relayed the new location to Doggett and the team was in route within seconds. The vehicles roared as they pealed out in search of a needle in a haystack.


"FBI, freeze put your hands on your head and don't move. We're looking for a boy who answers to the name of William." Doggett demanded.

Having followed Gibson's instructions to the tee, the team of agents infiltrated a second medical lab, taking the unsuspecting researchers by surprise. Most began to scatter as they saw the agents flood into the room. Some even destroyed the projects they had been working on before the agents could get to them.

"Put your hands where we can see them… Now!"

Doggett pulled a picture of the boy from his pocket, the one he had stored as evidence from the Van de Kamp's residence. He held the photo above his head so the room of scientists could see the boy's face. Being extremely uncooperative, they refused to even give their real names, all except one. A man who had to have been at least 80 years old separated himself from the crowd and was willing to break his silence.

"I know the boy," the old man said.

"What's your name, sir?" Monica asked.

"Dr. Jacques Hermes," he said with a heavy French accent.

"Come with me." Monica led him to another room out of ear shot of the others.

"I know the boy well. He spent many months under my supervision. He was a very special boy, different from the others. He didn't react to the test like the others did."

"Do you know where he is now?"

"There is a man who has been hunting for him; you mustn't let him be the first to discover the boy. I can't tell you more but don't forget to look where the birch meets the meadow. You should find some interesting things there."

Hermes coyly smiled and reentered the mass of scientists becoming invisible within their ranks. Monica was dumbfounded at the doctor's statement, he was senile in his musing but her gut said to not discredit the old man so soon.


Chapter 19: As You Breath Before Me

His phone violently vibrated in his pocket insisting on attention. It was late afternoon on the fourth day of their search. Neither Scully nor Mulder had slept more than a few hours. He had finally insisted that they were of no use to the investigation exhausted. Scully was very resilient but finally caved at the thought of a relaxing bath, though it took much convincing.

A text lit up the screen of his phone. He fumbled to see its contents.

Ship Yard

12442 Connecticut Ave 10:30 PM

Come alone.

Mulder attempted to find who had sent such a cryptic summons but soon realized there wasn't a number attached. He contemplated the repercussions of following such orders. He had only one choice but he refused to go alone. He waited until Scully had drifted to sleep before he crept out in search of clues to his son's ware bouts.


The air smelt of stall salt water and fish remains despite the swift wind of the evening. Mulder wore his street clothes and hoodie to disguise himself from any prying eyes. Jean clad, he became inconspicuous. A street lamp lit the corner of the peer that stretch for more than half a mile. A silhouette swayed among the shadows moving ever closer to Mulder. He stepped directly into the light hoping to see his secret rendezvous before they came to close. It was a woman's slim figure that first caught his eye. Blond hair peaked from beneath her cloaked face. The perimeter of light soon revealed familiar eyes.

"Marita?"

"Let's not use names."

Marita Covarrubias was sleek and took her time in removing the hood that hid her identity. She had learned the art of concealment during her years with the UN. She held many a secret in her grip and let even more slip through her fingers. Her life had been that of an informant, a tool of powerful men and a test subject. Her soul had been rattled with abandonment and secrecy. For the first time, she was ready to speak of all she knew without fear of death.

"You seem surprised to see me, Agent Mulder."

"Given the company you keep, I'm surprised you're breathing," Mulder answered.

"I have found a way of survival in such a business. I have information that you have been desperately seeking, information about your son."

Mulder stood speechless awaiting whatever she could possibly know about his son's circumstances. He had once trusted this women, given merit to her claims, but the danger of years of solitude is that of mistrust even amongst the most deserving .

"Among the men whose secrets I hold, there is one whose face is well known but not for the deeds that he commits in the dark. He heads a project in search of a cure for all human disease. He does not do this for the betterment of human kind of even to save the suffering but to choose who shall live and who shall die. With such a remedy he could control the fate of all who breathe. William is the key to this miracle vaccine. "

"How do I know that these men haven't sent you? They could be using you to get to William through me. How do I know that my trust won't be betrayed?"

"You don't. You can debate my trustworthiness as long as you'd like but the clock is ticking for William and the longer you worry about logistics the closer dangerous men come to doing him actual harm."

Mulder gave way to silence letting his lack of an answer portray his response. Marita turned and faced the water, leaning over the railing just slightly to watch as the water beat the concrete pillars that held the pier. She sighed heavier that she had intended, turning to face him, wanting to look him in the eyes when she told him what she had come here to say.

"These men aren't only interested in William; they have their eyes on a much bigger prize. One you would kill to protect. They know more about her than she knows of herself. Even the rhythm of her heartbeat is among their knowledge. They will stop at nothing to take what they want. It isn't enough to have one perfect human child; they want the woman who carried him…and the child she now carries."

Mulder stood wondering if the words that had just passed Marita's mouth were as they seemed. Within the second his conversation with Gibson flooded his consciousness; he said she concealed a secret he knew nothing of. William's conception was miraculous, never explained. This had to be a ploy but for what he hadn't thought through just yet.

"You didn't know did you? Think back on the journey Scully embarked on before William's conception. Think to the cancer that nearly claimed her life and the implant that caused it. As you have seen nothing is impossible. This new miracle could be the end of the world as you know it and the world around you. Any child that is conceived as William was will possess his abilities. If the powerful l man were to get his hands on two children with the same miraculous abilities his scientists could easily unearth the science behind their abilities."

Mulder's face shone through with complete frustration. He found himself in the same shoes that he had nine years prior. A child was to enter the world and he knew nothing of its existence but only that it was threatened by men who were presumed dead. He took his anger out on the lamp post that lit this dreary scene. He rubbed his temples in an attempt to calm his frustration until he knew all that Marita did.

"You couldn't possibly have come her only to deliver bad news, what aren't you telling me?"

"There is only one way to ensure the safety of all involved."


Chapter 20: Where the Birch Meets the Meadow

The previous day's events should have taken their toll but Scully was an expert at 'it never happened' burying her feelings far below the surface and locking them where her soul had no access to them. She was in route to meet Skinner at headquarters. The car came to a stop and she let her feet hit the pavement with little regard. Her white blouse draped off her ever thinning figure, delicately accenting her ever present golden cross. She seldom remembered it adorned her neck; it was an extension of her, an outward symbol of her complex faith yet she paid it little attention. She continued to walk toward the J. Edgar Hoover building hoping Skinner had more good news than she did. Mulder had left before the sun rose and she knew not of his ware bouts. This didn't surprise her since he was the same lone wolf he had been when she first met him.

When her eyes lifted themselves from their downward track they meet Monica's. Her darting gaze gave way to a worried expression, as she saw Monica quickly approaching. The brunette's arms swung in time with her stride letting her grace be know. The parking lot was all but abandoned and fall's characteristics tainted every aspect of nature. The women soon met near the brick walkway leading to the entrance.

"Scully, I'm not sure if this is anything of consequence but I have a message for you. When John and I raided the lab Gibson led us to, a scientist by the name of Hermes approached me ."

"Hermes as in Dr. Jacques Hermes. Monica that's impossible, Jacques Hermes died in '93 of a coronary embolism." Scully rustled in the case file she was keeping under her arm for the picture Mulder had found of him.

"Is this him?" Scully asked. The man pictured was completely grayed with a high cheek bones and a receding hair line. His glasses took up most of his face, while his smile was broader than his features could handle.

"Yes but how can that be? He seemed in perfect health."

"No it makes perfect sense. What did he say to you?"

"He was very vague in his questioning and offered little to go off of but he did make it very clear that you should look 'where the birch meets the meadow'. Does that mean anything to you?"

"What did you say?" Scully froze feeling her chest constrict.

"Where the birch meets the meadow."

"Oh my God, I know where he is." Scully turned and was in a full sprint toward the car before Monica could finish or ask where she was headed. Heart pounding, she searched franticly through her pockets for the car keys. Mulder pulled up to the building just as she rushed past. The ignition rumbled and she peeled out leaving skid marks throughout the lot. Mulder made his way toward Monica in confusion.

"What happened? Where is she going?" He asked.

"I'm not sure, I mentioned something that was brought up in a questioning and next thing I knew she was gone."

"What did you tell her?"

"Look where the birch meets the meadow."

"Where did you hear that?!"

"A witness John and I apprehended. What's going on?" she asked.

"Hop in and I'll explain on the way."


Chapter 21: Safe Havens Exist?

Scully's knuckles were white with intensity from gripping the wheel. Twenty miles prior she had crossed the Vermont state line giving little notice to the speed she was traveling. The trees became thicker as she approached her destination. Where the birch meets the meadow. She had only heard the saying once before in her life. She searched her memories for its details.

It was twilight; the sun gave way to colors of fuchsia and deep oranges. Stars peaked from the corners of the navy blue that lined the horizon. She remembered trying to calm her shaking hands by shitting on them. She and Mulder had begun their journey into oblivion; they drove in every direction until he felt a certain amount of ease. They had seen most of the coastline and eastern states until he found a quaint town near the Vermont/New Hampshire border. He had decided that this was a safe enough place to lay their heads to rest. For now their lives were in constant danger. Mulder had narrowly escaped a false allegation of murder and she was a wanted fugitive for his assisted getaway.

Though she'd felt the strain of their scattered existence, Scully would have followed him to the depths of hell itself never wavering in her devotion.

Early the next morning, Mulder awoke Scully from the first restful sleep she had had in weeks to drag her to a nearby forest. He had used jogging as an excuse but she knew he wanted to feel free amongst more than motel walls and remote diners. He lead her like a child does a toy with delight and enthusiasm to the adventure that lay ahead. She was relieved to see there was still a soul within Mulder's gloomy exterior; life on the road was eating at his resolve. However, she would later learn that her sheer presence had been enough for him, no matter the destination or circumstance, her nagging skepticism was his lifeline.

They made it to a clearing from the dense foliage that framed the rolling hills of the countryside. Upon entering the meadow, Mulder took her hand in his, placed his other hand below her jagged jaw and united their lips in a comfort both dearly craved. He held her for longer that he had intended. He was grateful for her loyalty and though they rarely spoke the words, her love. As they continued to explore the rural landscape, a small cave came into view, just big enough to spend an afternoon in and so they did. Quiet and secluded they began to heal from nine years of tragedy. Neither felt remorse for the lives they had led, just the need for time to comprehend their new venture without the FBI.

As the evening wore on they returned to the little motel they currently called home. Mulder ventured into the manager's office to pay for another night, Scully close behind.

"Sir, can you tell me what the name of the cave near the forest clearing is called?" Mulder asked.

"You mean the one where the birch meets the meadow? It's called Gazer's Point."

Scully shook the memory off and returned her focus to the road. She hadn't paid particular attention to the men's conversation that day but she had stored the phase among the thoughts that floated into her consciousness. Over the years following their first visit, Mulder and Scully returned to the cave a few dozen times. It was their escape from the realities of constant running. The one place they felt the world wouldn't find them.

She rounded the last curve before the entrance to the sleepy town that housed their cave. She passed the local mart and drove the gravel road to the forest entrance. She turned off the ignition and exited the car with vigor. She began to run, her heels pounding against the rocks that made up the roads structure. She could fell her breath become staggered as she increased her speed, quickly closing in on the cave. Its surroundings were just as she had remembered them, this seemed to be the only place that time hadn't taken hold of. The outline of the cave became more distinct as 300 yards became 200 and 200 became 100. She paused fearing for what she might find in her place of serenity.

She placed one foot in front of the other slowly easing her way into the cave's entrance. A small pile of fall leaves were clumped in the farthest corner. The air assaulted her nose with smells of humidity and potent foliage. An outline of a petite figure was nestled in the make shift bed of leaves. His sneakers were caked in mud. He wore torn jeans and a striped shirt. He didn't move as she approached. Scully's fingers dug into her palms in preparation for what she might have to endure. Her voice was faulty and could barely utter a whisper.

"William?"

The small boy rustled the leaves as he began to move. Scully released the breath she didn't realize she was holding. She inhaled with such force her chest reacted in pain. She rushed to his side turning his face over toward her. His features were smudged with dirt and his lip dry from dehydration. Her tear ducts overflowed with emotions long overdue. She swept the hair from his face getting the first good look at the child her baby had grown to be. She lifted him into her arms and resting his head along her shoulders, exited the cave in search of the medical assistance her son she could move more than a few yards, the loading of a pistol rang as clear as day. Fearful for who could be behind her she turned slowly never exposing William.

"Dana Scully, I have waited many years to see you in the flesh."

Scully turned and meet the black eyes of a man whose face she knew only from newspapers. Senator Masterson had a beaming stature and in this moment the insane glare of a killer. She backed up defensively keeping the unconscious William tucked behind her shoulder.

"I figured if I watched you long enough you would lead me straight to him. Hand the boy over and no one will get hurt. He is far more valuable to me alive than dead but that is your choice."

Before Scully could form a response, a shot rang out hitting the Senator in the right shoulder. Blood immediately immerged and he hit the ground soon after. Scully looked toward the direction of the shot and was surprised to see Mulder accompanied by Monica and Marita Covarrubias.

"Mulder what the hell is going on?"

"We don't have much time." He lifted William from her arms and brought him to the car.

"Damn it, Mulder, this is our son we're talking about, don't keep me in the dark!"

"Scully get in the car!"

The senator began to groan from the pain of his wounds. He propped himself up on his elbow and was close to standing when Mulder grabbed Scully by the arm and ushered her to the car. More shoots pierced the silence as they bounced off the metal exterior of the car. The Senator was now in full pursuit. All four agents piled into the sedan with the injured boy. Scully checked on William as his breathing became regular again. She checked his arms and legs for ligature marks or any sign of how he might have gotten to the cave from Wyoming. His arms were riddled with small scrapes and bruises and his hair laced with twigs and leaves. Once she was sure her son was stable, she redirected her focus to Mulder and the scene that had just taken place.

"This isn't the time for secrets Mulder. If we're all going to die in a high speed chase, I sure as hell want to know why!"

"Give me your hand," Marita asked.

"What?"

Marita grabbed Scully's hand much to Scully's distain. Scully struggled to gain control of it as Marita put great pressure on her wrist. Marita pulled a small knife from her pocket and moved it toward Scully's pale flesh. Scully yanked her hand away faster than she knew she could. She immediately looked for some piece of understanding in Mulder's eyes.

"Please, Scully do as she says."

Marita once again took Scully's hand in her own and began to slit the flesh from one end to another. Scully groaned in discomfort and pain. Her blood immediately began to pour beyond the edge of her palm. Marita dug in the wound, causing Scully to scream out. After only a few moments, Marita recovered the treasure she was in search of. With the tweezers she had used to search among Scully's veins, she held up a remarkably small metal square. Monica tore off part of her sleeve and covered Scully's bleeding hand. As she continued to lose blood, her concentration became erratic and unfocused.

"Somebody better start talking!" Scully grew increasingly impatient.

"He has been tracking you. The chip in your neck wasn't the only one that these men implanted when you were abducted. This device is used to monitor your vital signs, heartbeat blood pressure and so on. It is also completely undetectable on any medical scan. It transmits its findings to a server where these men can access it from anywhere around the world and track your location to within meters. They only use these particular chips for their most priced test subjects and when the appearance of two heartbeats was proven, you were there number one priority."

Scully turned to Mulder expecting a look of complete bewilderment but his temper was even. He already knew. He knew how she hadn't trusted him with such an intimate secret, one that only they should have shared joy in.

"Mulder…"

"You once told me that all you were fighting for was you and me. You and me. There is nothing that is more you and me than this."

"From the minute I realized I was pregnant, all of the feelings of grief for William came rushing back to me. The loneliness and fear I associated with being pregnant crept back into my mind. Mulder one miracle though implausible is understandable even in great instances expected but two. I didn't keep this from you to alienate you. I did it to protect you."

"Did it ever occur to you that for once in our lives there could be a light on the horizon that something unexpected could be good?"

Mulder swerved the car to miss an embankment only to skid past a passing car. The Senator was gaining on them with every mile they sped. His irrational driving caused the other drivers to crash into a guard rail and pile up along the intersection. Amidst the commotion, Marita grabbed Scully's shoulder length hair and before she could object cut a good three inches from the bottom.

"What are you doing?"

"Scully, trust me."

Marita continued cutting pieces of Monica, Mulder and William's hair, all the while communicating nothing of what she was doing. She finished by taking a strand of her golden locks in her hands and adding it to the other's. Mulder continued to swerve narrowly missing numerous crashes. A large corner approached adorned with a yellow speed sign indicating that the corner should be taken at forty miles an hour. Mulder gazed at the odometer and shivered at the appearance of a ninety next to the yellow speed indication line. Marita began to undress.

"Give me your clothes," Marita demanded.

Scully though unsure of what was happening complied. As Mulder took the next corner the car's wheels gave way to gravity and slid to the right. The left side of the car began to lift as Mulder lost complete control of the car. It tipped more with every second that the wheels had contact with the asphalt. The Senator turned the corner and caught the tail end of the image of a car in a full roll and eventually colliding with the several trees in front of it. The flames began almost instantly, engulfing the entire car within seconds. It was now an inferno that yielded no survivors. The Senator exited his car moving closer to the decimated vehicle. He came as close as the flames would allow and stood for a moment in triumph and defeat. Before leaving he spit on the fire quietly thanking it for doing his job for him.


Chapter 22: Golden Hues

The newspapers were plastered with the devastating images of the accident claiming it was a tragic incident caused by an out of control driver. The head line was bolded and stated "FBI agent and UN delegate die in fiery crash with civilians. The post hung off of the edge of Skinner's desk haunting him with its very presence. Its black lettering was smudged from wear. He had reread the article more times than his stomach could handle but he thought perhaps if he continued to absorb the information he might find a strand of reality in it .Skinner had almost lost them thousands of times before and the feeling s were always the same.

He punished himself for letting his personal feelings interfere with his professional duties but this time he wasn't the only one grieving. John entered the office door without a knock. Skinner had given him full access after the news broke late Friday evening. Though they never admitted it, Skinner knew that John had loved Monica and his heart was wounded from the loss. Both men sat in the dark not speaking a word for more than an hour. There was to be a memorial service that afternoon and both men had been asked to speak. John drew circles along the seam of his dress pants trying to distract his mind from the images it continued to conjure. He wore his best suit and made sure to part his hair the way Monica always said complimented him.

Though he had never told her, he knew that she knew his feelings were genuine. His regret for never having the courage to tell her would haunt him in his every waking moment. Skinner made his way out of his office, John trailing not far behind. The two men entered the parking garage and began the walk to the SUV that would take them to St. Patrick's. John reached for the door handle when he felt a prick on his upper neck. By the time he turned to see what had caused it, his vision had begun to fade and darkness took its hold on him.


Incessant pounding greeted John as he gained consciousness. It took him more than a moment to realize what had happened. When he finally opened his eyes he saw a sight that he thought could only mean he too was dead.

"Monica?"

His response was so laced with emotion that his feelings were palpable. She sat over him as a vision; her long brunette hair draped over her shoulder and framed her ageless face. He had seen her every day for the past ten years but in that moment she was more striking than all the world's wonders. She traced her hand along the side of his face and lightly kissed his temple.

"Don't speak… This might be difficult for you to understand. I never meant to hurt you but there was no other way to ensure his safety."

Her voice was cautious and she chose her words with great precision. John slowly came to a sitting position and realized he was surrounded by all those presumed dead. He rubbed the confusion from his eyes praying that if he looked with clearer vision he wouldn't awaken from this supposed dream. Scully sat to his right with Mulder hovering above the chair she occupied. A child could be heard playing in the background. Skinner stood to John's left with as serious a face as he had ever seen.

"John, our deaths were staged. It was the only way Scully and Mulder could ensure the safety of William, at least for the time being," Monica answered.

"But the forensics team found bodies that matched your dental work and the clothing you were last seen wearing? Assistant director were you in on this?"

"This is as new to me as it is to you. I recovered from the drug twenty minutes before you did. I've had just a while longer to deal with the situation. John, just listen there's more," Skinner said

Monica took his hand and led him to the other end of the room where privacy was slightly more possible. She held his hand in hers and rubbed her thumb over the back of his. She knew the lines on these worn hands better than she did her own.

"According to the public, we don't exist anymore. We are mere shadows that they vaguely recognize. I can't come back to my old life, to our life. But you can come with me. I've spoken to Skinner and he thinks he can pull it off. You will be out on assignment and killed in the line of duty. He can have the paperwork completed by night fall. The question is, are you willing to leave all of this behind?"

"Monica…" he stuttered slightly. As his nerve returned he continued. "There is nothing here for me without you, none of this means anything if you're not here to share it with me. I've loved two women in my life. My ex-wife and…"

She grabbed his jaw and brought him into a long awaited kiss. Her lips were supple but forceful in their passion. Shocked he quickly gave way to her advance. His hand rested on the small of her back and drew her closer as time wore on. Within this moment they were infinite, unbound by time or circumstance.

Mulder caught a glimpse of their private realization and nudged Scully directing her attention to Doggett and Reyes. She flashed her coyest smile, rubbed his forearm and continued to play with William. Skinner rubbed the bridge of his nose no doubt wondering what about his unit caused all of his agents to fall for each other. John made his way back to the group, Monica trailing behind; he placed his hand on Scully's shoulder as they passed and gazed at William then redirected his attention to her. She touched his hand ever so slightly to acknowledge his presence. Though the words went unspoken a conversation of gratitude was passed between them.


Epilogue

Years pass with the swift destruction that seconds are born with. They exist as if they were never wasted until the realization that far too many have passed, stares you straight in the face. There are decisions we make that are far bigger than we are and when given time will grow to become more than we ever could believe. The truths we seek are often situated directly within our gaze, sitting waiting for us to take hold of the moments in which they exist, not the ones we wish we had been promised.

The radio hummed with strumming from a major chord and a familiar melody. While the music lifted throughout the air, corn and hay fields lined each side of the moving car causing the golden tones to stream together in an endless array. The rearview mirror carried the lives they had left behind. Scully let the gentle breeze that crept into the passenger side window make her hair unruly. It was comforting, the open road. She felt a freedom wash over her that had been seldom experienced. She held on to it for all that it offered for she knew that one day, perhaps tomorrow or years in the future it would be taken from her and the darkness she had so fiercely battled would find her family. But for now her precious son lay fast asleep sprawled along the back seat of the sedan, his bags packed awaiting the next city that would shelter them.

Mulder lightly drummed his thumbs along the steering wheel completely oblivious to his surroundings. Scully reached for the stray hair draped along his ear and brushed it into place. He took a moment to take in her expression then lifted her ivory hand and lightly kissed the back of it. She intertwined her fingers with his and felt the subtle presence of peace. She turned to their slumbering son and saw in him his father. As his chest rose and fell, she breathed with him and wondered what fate had in store. Almost immediately, she banished the thought knowing that for now the road was all that lay ahead.

"How long do you think we have?" Scully asked.

"It doesn't matter."

And it didn't.

THE END




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