Story: Coming Home
< Summary: John receives strange messages through his computer and is unsure of whether to trust his instincts or not. Tensions are high between he and Monica, and Scully is struggling to come to terms with the loss of William, cutting out both John and Monica from her life. They never needed each other more but pride is standing in the way.
*Chapter 1*: A Message
Rating: PG to be safe
Category: MSR/DRR, angsty!
Summary: John receives strange messages through his computer and is unsure of whether to trust his instincts or not. Tensions are high between he and Monica, and Scully is struggling to come to terms with the loss of William, cutting out both John and Monica from her life. They never needed each other more but pride is standing in the way.
Archive: Ask me first
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize is not mine, I'm only borrowing and there's nothing wrong with that
John looked at his watch and then at the clock behind him. How the hell had it got so late already? He'd been in the office since eight am and now it was ten o'clock at night? 'They do not pay me enough to work this long,' he thought to himself. He picked up some files and tried to tidy up a little, Monica was back tomorrow and he couldn't wait to not be alone in this office again. For now he had to make do with the happy knowledge that she was ok and she was ready for work.
Monica had been ill for over a month, she had had the flu and although not fatal it knocked her down severely and she was hospitalized for a week and kept under close observation. Scully had tried so hard to make sure that John didn't panic and over react, he cared a great deal for Monica it was obvious, but Scully had her own demons to deal with before having to make sure that John was ok.
It had been two months now since she had given William up for adoption. Her mother still wasn't returning her calls and her brother Bill was also trying his hardest to ignore her, Charles was the most support she could find in her family right now and even he was finding it difficult because their mom was trying to make him feel guilty for talking to his own sister. Scully understood how they all felt, but it was and remained her decision, none of them would ever realize the pain it caused her but she had always put William first.
John looked at his computer and was puzzled as to why there was a light flashing on the monitor; he'd just turned it off. As he reached down to push the power button the screen flashed onto his homepage and he stared blankly at it for a few seconds before shutting it down again. He grunted something to himself about the office being haunted as he put his jacket on and then shook his head at how ridiculous he was being. He turned off the lights and was about to close the office door when a light appeared and a beep was heard. The computer was on again.
He walked back into the office and stared back at the screen. Still just his homepage but now he was freaking himself out with regard to ghosts and the fact that if any office in the whole building was going to be haunted it'd be this one. He turned the light back on, because it helped him to see what he was doing, not because he was scared, and he sat down at his desk to turn it off again.
As he reached for the mouse and clicked on start to shut it down a window popped up with a message in it:
'Is that John Doggett?' John looked around the room and again shook his head at how stupid he was being.
"For crying out loud John, there's no one here, you have an AOL IM, stop freaking out," talking out loud to himself had become the norm since working alone, he just hoped he'd stop once Monica was back and that he wouldn't sound like he was crazy. He replied to the message with 'Yes, who is this?' and then he waited.
They say curiosity killed the cat and all, but he sat for half an hour waiting for a reply and was getting rather fed up of whoever this was. He'd written back again with 'I said who is this' and 'Can I help you?' but nothing was sent back to him. As he was about to give up and really leave to go home a reply appeared and he read it carefully: 'I need to talk to you, I need you to get TLG to scramble your message receiver so it's a secure line.' John sat back in his chair and thought about this for a second. Someone was playing games with him.
He wrote back with 'who is this?' and an instant reply came with 'I can't say until its safe' John was skeptical at the best of times but this guy was starting to really put a downer on his day. 'I don't know who you think you are but I'm not talking to anyone until I know you are', there was another long pause, fifteen minutes later a name came onto the screen for three seconds and then the screen went black. John stood up again feeling confused and pissed off that it was almost eleven o'clock and he was still in his office. He put his jacket back on and went to the door; he turned out the light and locked the door closed behind him.
"M. F. Luder? Who the hell's that?"
*Chapter 2*: Changes
Scully turned over and looked at the clock, it was almost two am and she was wide awake. Sleeping had become difficult since not having to worry about getting up to feed William or to answer to his cries. Her sleeping patterns were erratic, not unlike that of a new baby, and it was driving her nuts. She couldn't deny that tonight especially though her sleeplessness had been provoked by something she received in the mail.
A letter from the adoption agency that the Van De Kamp's had sent regarding William's progress with them. She had been told that such things did happen occasionally but that given the circumstances she probably wouldn't hear about her son again until the day may come when he wishes to seek her out.
Scully had been trying to find it in herself to accept this for two months now and just when things had started to come down she was faced with a heart-warming letter of thanks and appreciation from the woman who was now going to be called 'mom' by her son. And she couldn't understand the use of the words 'thank you' and 'appreciate' in a letter about an adopted child.
It wasn't as if she had given her son away as a gift to them, they didn't need to reply to her gesture as if it were a nice Christmas Hamper full of things for them to enjoy. They had her son; she didn't want thanks for that, she didn't want anything but for William to be happy and safe.
Accompanying the letter was a photograph of William. He looked so happy and content, and he was smiling, he was happy. When Scully closed her eyes all she could see was that photograph, Mrs. Van De Kamp had assured her in her letter that such things would not be commonplace with her, that this was a one off following William's arrival into the Van De Kamps lives. Scully didn't care for the reason behind the letter and photograph, she just felt relief that her son was ok.
She also felt relief at how upset she had become. Her whole family, and even John and Monica to some extent had implied that giving away her son was a heartless and cruel thing to do, saying that she just didn't care. But if it hurt this much, surely that was because of how much she loved her son and how much he meant to her?
As the minutes passed on her clock she couldn't force herself to lie there any longer and got up to go to the bathroom. After that she went into the kitchen and made some coffee. After that she sat down in the living room and tried to stop seeing William everywhere she turned.
If Scully had any chance of getting on with her life she had to let him go mentally as well as physically. She had thought she was doing well but now she wasn't so sure, and all she wanted to do was curl into a ball and have someone, anyone, tell her that she'd done the right thing. She wanted Mulder.
Monica woke at three am and was determined to get back to sleep but her body refused to allow it. It had been the longest and most painful month of her life and she just wanted to put it all behind her. First they had lost William, someone that Monica had felt so protective of and yet the one person in the world she couldn't do anymore to help. She missed him still and hated the strain it had placed on her friendship with Scully.
Then she had helped John finally let go of Luke and come to terms with that part of his life, as well as this Monica had had to deal with the truth about Brad Follmer and accept the mistake she made with him. She had become closer to John through this and yet after that day at the beach he had pulled away from her rather than closer and she was confused as to where they stood with one another.
It was shortly after that she threw herself so deeply into her work that she had become run down and then attacked with the flu. All she wanted now was to get back to work and to get on with her life, but the part of her that she trusted the most told her that it wasn't going to be that easy, that something was going to make life a little more complicated before life got back to the regular way she liked it. Monica wasn't against change, but when she wasn't in control of changes that involved her she didn't like it at all.
She had to get back to sleep or she'd be a nightmare at work tomorrow and she didn't want to be tired on her first day back. Weirdly she felt a little nervous. It had been so long now since she'd gotten really involved in a case and she hoped that once she stepped into the office it would all come back to her and everything would be fine. And yet, again she knew this wasn't going to be the case.
Something felt wrong tonight, and since her recovery from the flu she felt safe trusting her intuition again. Someone close to her, someone she cared for was going to need her to be strong for them and help them. She just hoped that she was ready for the challenge.
*Chapter 3*: New Computer
Langley stared at the computer in front of him with nothing but pure love and adoration. It'd been so long since The Lone Gunmen had had any kind of technology amongst them worth being proud of but now they could enjoy the wonders of hi-tech computers, wireless internet, and of course the ingenious wonder of the webcam. Frohike came into the room with two plates of pancakes and syrup and placed them down beside the computer.
"Hey! Watch where you put that crap!"
"That crap is the breakfast you asked for you weasel."
"Yeah, well I didn't ask for a side of an iMac G5 M9250LLA Desktop, with 1.8GHz PowerPC G5, 256MB, 160GB, DVD-R/CD-RW, OS X Panther, and 20" LCD."
"Then how about next time you want breakfast you kiss my ass?"
"We worked hard for this system little man, I'm not letting your ready made straight from the box pancakes and cheap syrup ruin it."
"Why you little punk ass, I don't have to take this from you, let me see that thing,"
Frohike pushed Langley aside and sat down at the computer where he pushed a few buttons and the screen froze. He couldn't get it to do anything, it just stopped working. Langley pushed him to the ground and sat back in his seat.
"What did you do?"
Frohike picked himself up off the floor and brushed his pants down, before he got a chance to say anything Byers walked in and ignored them both as he admired the newest edition of 'The Lone Gunmen'.
"You crashed it."
"I did not."
"Well then why won't it do anything? I'm gonna kick your ass Frohike!"
Frohike edged slowly away and then ran to hide behind Byers as Langley lunged for him. Byers, still reading his paper just ignored them until he was ready to intervene. And when he did so he simply stepped back allowing them to crash into each other and fall to a heap on the ground. Then he walked over to the computer typed something in and the homepage refreshed itself ready to work again.
Frohike and Langley looked at each other and then helped one another stand up. They walked back to the computer and both picked up a plate of pancakes to start in on, Byers showed them both the newspaper and smiled.
After breakfast The Lone Gunmen sat down at their new computer and each participated in the staring with love and adoration. After everything fell through for them it was amazing that they had just printed a new issue of their paper, that they had just bought the best in technology to work from, a whole new host of equipment they could use to spread the truth and yet all they could think about was Mulder.
If it weren't for him they'd never have gotten this far, they'd never have uncovered the things that they had or seen the things that they'd seen, and now, now everything was going well for them again and he wasn't anywhere to be seen.
They'd been happy to play a role in Scully's life for as long as she needed them, but after giving up William they each found it hard to be supportive towards her when she seemed so cold and unwelcoming. Frohike had hacked into her phone line for a couple of weeks and listened to the messages to her mother and the ones that she got back from Bill. She was more lonely than ever but all any of them could do was watch from the side lines. She wouldn't cal on them without reason; she didn't think of them as friends as they did her, it was strictly a professional arrangement. But it didn't stop Frohike worrying.
"You think we should call her?"
"You don't think we should call her?"
"You think we should show her the new edition of The Lone Gunmen?"
"No," Frohike sighed and Byers looked at him sympathetically.
"Her apartment is on our mailing list, she'll have received a copy this morning and if she has any comments she has our number," none of them were trying to seem uncaring but it was difficult now for them to understand their relationship with Scully.
As Langley sat playing an online game of Dungeons and Dragons with someone in France, Frohike polished up some of his hacking skills and Byers caught up on some reading. They were all surprised to receive a phone call from John Doggett asking them if they could help him out with something. John Doggett asked no one for help, and when he did it wasn't from them. Things had a tendency to go wrong and people sometimes let feelings get in the way of professionalism and this never led to anything positive.
However they agreed that John could come by later that day to talk to them about what he needed them to do for him. Frohike mumbled something that sounded like 'jerk' under his breath and tried to think of ways he could avoid the meeting. The anticipation was almost too much. Almost.
*Chapter 4*: Tension
Monica arrived at work early; she wanted to beat John into the office so she could take a minute and find her balance in there again. So at seven am sharp she opened the door and was more than surprised to see John already sitting at his desk reading over something. He saw her walk in right away and stood up, like the gentleman he was.
"Monica hey, I wasn't expecting you for another hour or so yet."
"Yeah well, I wanted to get back into the swing of things before the official start of the business day."
"Right, sure, how are you feeling?"
Monica looked at him suspiciously, she'd wondered how he was going to play this, whether he'd act like everything was ok and pretend things were just as they were. Obviously John didn't want to talk about what had happened when they left the beach that day he and Barbara scattered Luke's ashes, and if he was going to play it like this then so would she.
"I'm fine, thank you for the flowers."
"You're welcome, Dana said you were doing ok, I didn't visit much 'cause I didn't wanna disturb you while you were resting."
"Yeah, well I did plenty of that all right."
"I just didn't want you to think I was avoiding you or anything."
"Why would I think that?"
He looked at her and knew that he'd started this off on the wrong foot. He'd implied that he didn't want to talk about what happened that night, but he so very badly did. He'd blown it now, he didn't call her and he sent a lousy bunch of flowers when she was in the hospital. What a trooper.
"I don't know, I just wasn't sure if you were up to visitors I guess."
"Well, I'm back, and I'm fine. So what's been going on here?"
John filled her in on the situation with his mysterious messenger from the night before and Monica was intrigued. The name M F Luder sounded familiar to her but she couldn't put her finger on why. She wasn't a huge fan of the Lone Gunmen so when John told her he'd already called them and was dropping by that afternoon she was less than keen.
"They're harmless enough, I just don't know that they ever help so much as hinder."
"Well they're looking for the truth Mon, that's what it's all about down here, remember?"
"Yes I remember. But what I'm saying is it's a little odd that this would happen and that you just take it at face value without tracing this person."
"I tried that, there is no record of the messages sent to me last night in the FBI computer logs, nothing."
"Which brings us back to my original question, how late was it, and how tired were you?"
"I hope you're not insinuating that I imagined the whole thing? Because I think you know me better than that Monica."
"I thought I did,"
John resented the conversation they were having and was about to retaliate when the phone rang. He took the call without looking at Monica, and she took the opportunity to walk around the office and regroup. Working here for such a short space of time had had such a huge impact on her life, she hoped she was ready for whatever was going to be thrown at her next.
If something as common and containable as the flu could knock her down so bad, what chance did she stand against the powers that be down on the x-files? She knew she was being paranoid but she couldn't help it, maybe she'd come back to work too soon. Her thoughts were interrupted by John staring at her, she didn't even know she'd been daydreaming.
"That was Skinner, he wants to see us right away."
"He didn't say."
"Well. Let's go." They left the office and John closed and locked the door behind him. He didn't wanna take any chances, Monica thought he was being paranoid, things had definitely changed.
*Chapter 5*: Mulder
Working at Quantico was all that kept Scully from going crazy. She'd cut herself off from the FBI completely, to her they were the enemy, they were the ones who let her down and failed to protect her and her family after everything she sacrificed for them. So now she devoted her life to training the next set of poor souls who's lives would become consumed by their work, their whole worlds devoured by late nights, early morning and no life outside the job.
But Scully was lonely. She hadn't spoken to Monica since she was discharged from the hospital and given a clean bill of health, she'd spent a lot of time at the hospital – making sure Monica was ok had given her the chance to mother somebody again. And she hadn't spoken to John since leaving a message on his machine that Monica was being sent home, which he didn't reply to. The three of them had never been further apart.
Scully would never forget the phone call she received from Monica in floods of tears saying she'd done something terrible. Scully's gut instinct had been something much worse than having slept with John, but she could see there were deep feelings between the two of them and to have slept together but not been in contact since was something even she wasn't sure she could deal with. When she and Mulder had crossed that line from friendship to lovers it had been a long time coming, but they had stayed professional for their work. Clearly there was nothing professional going on between John and Monica right now.
Right now Scully sat in her empty classroom that in ten minutes would be full of cadets all eager and ready to learn. When the door opened she turned around ready to tell whoever it was to come back later, what she didn't expect was the welcome wagon at the door.
"What the hell's going on?" she looked from one face to the next, Monica to John, John to Frohike, Frohike to Langley, and then Langley to Byers. The five of them simply stood there looking right back at her. This could only possibly lead to something bad.
"Dana, you got a second?"
"I'm about to teach a class, what are you all doing here?" they walked into the classroom and closed the door behind them. Monica stood beside Scully protectively, she knew that this wasn't going to be easy to hear.
The Lone Gunmen had been against this from the start. When they had told John and Monica what they knew about M F Luder the last person they thought should be bought in was Scully, not until they knew what was going on and if it was really him, but they had been overruled by John who had insisted they take this to Scully immediately.
"Dana, I got a message on my computer last night asking me to get a secure line fixed that no one could intercept so I could talk with this guy in private."
"John, I don't care about this, I don't work on the x-files and I don't care what your message said."
"I appreciate that, but I think you should hear me out." Monica couldn't help notice John's use of the word 'me' he was a one man show now and didn't need her help or anyone else's for that matter.
"I don't wanna hear anything you have to say on this. It's over, don't you think I've been through enough." Scully was losing her temper and Monica placed a friendly hand on her shoulder.
"It's ok Dana, we shouldn't have come to you with this." The Lone Gunmen looked relieved, they could leave now and not have to worry about Scully having some kind of panic attack. But John wasn't prepared to let things go that easily.
"We're not going anywhere until you hear about this, about who this is from."
"I don't care who it's from!"
"Not even if it were from Mulder?"
*Chapter 6*: Rejection
Scully looked at them all and sighed, she knew that she'd have to hear what John had to say, and he knew he'd got her attention. She nodded her head a little and he stepped forward, distancing himself from the people that he'd come with, Monica noticed it and felt resentful but brushed it off as she listened to him.
"I got a message from Mulder tellin' me to contact these guys so it's safe for him to talk to me online, tonight I'm gonna wait for him to contact me again, and I thought you should know in case you wanted to be there," Scully looked at each of their faces, almost as if she was trying to break one of them into fits of giggles, to say this was a joke, but they all looked so serious, and she didn't know if she wanted to push for the reasons why.
"How do you know it's really him? I mean, we've been here before – some random person contacting you saying they know things about Mulder, about us, how do you know?" John looked at the Lone Gunmen and Byers nodded his head and stood forward to speak.
"He called himself M F Luder. I know it was an alias Mulder used, and I know you're thinking a million people must know that by now, but after everything Agent Doggett has told us, I think you should see what happens with this," Scully looked at Byers and then at each of the other Lone Gunmen.
"Is this what you all think?" Langley nodded his head.
"I think now that William is gone you need to think about what else this could mean, I see no reason why Mulder or anyone else would contact the FBI unless it was something you needed to know about," when Langley stopped talking Frohike sniggered and everyone looked at him.
"Frohike? You have thoughts on this?" he looked at Scully and nodded.
"Yeah I do, I think it's BS, I think if Mulder had something important to say to any of us it wouldn't be through this jackass and Mulder wouldn't have been stupid enough to just patch right into the FBI server,"
"You said there was no record of his messages to me?" John questioned.
"There isn't," Langley replied with confusion, "which is the main reason I think this needs looking into," Scully turned away for a second and gather her thoughts but it was no use, there were too many thoughts to sort through. She took a deep breath and looked at them all again.
"I can't do this, I've lost more than I will ever recover from because of the FBI, I'm through, and Mulder would know that. I'm sorry, but you're on your own," she sat at her desk and everyone but John turned to leave.
"He doesn't know you gave up William," they all looked at him surprised at what he'd said and waited for Scully's response. "If it's about William, he'll think you can protect him still, what if you need to get to him?"
"I can't get to him. He's gone, and I think it's none of your damn business what happens in my personal life, I don't need you trying to emotionally blackmail me Agent Doggett, now please leave, all of you," after a second they all turned away and left the room. Scully was shaking and didn't know if it was from anger or fear. Either way she had to forget all about this, it was the only way. She composed herself and looked up, she was startled to see Monica still standing in the room.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."
"I thought you'd all left."
"No. I just, I wanted to say that, for what it's worth, I think this is bogus too."
"Because I don't think Mulder would do something as risky as this, after the precautions you've both taken to keep him hidden and safe."
"He's not safe Agent Reyes, none of us are. And Doggett's theory? You have an opinion on that?"
"I think he's digging for something that isn't there, and it was wrong of him to say to you what he did," Scully nodded her head appreciatively and took another deep breath, for some reason hearing Monica dismiss this whole thing made it easier for her to do so.
"I take it things aren't going too well with you and Agent Doggett?" Monica sighed and sat down.
"There is no 'me and Agent Doggett'. I just, I don't get it, after he scattered Luke's ashes we went back to my place and we spent one amazing night together and then in the morning he was gone, and we've never spoken about it, then I got sick and that pretty much brings us to the crappy present."
"Well, I wish I knew what to say, but I'm not exactly an expert," Monica laughed a little.
"Of course you are, you and Mulder were in love for years and managed to work together."
"Yeah, but by the time we admitted how we felt, he was taken from me," Monica could sense she'd touched a nerve and stood to leave.
"Well, I should let you get on, I am sorry we came and disturbed you Dana," she walked to the door and waited patiently while a group of cadets walked in before she could leave.
"Monica," she turned back to Scully.
"Thank you," Monica smiled and left the room, closing the door firmly behind her.
*Chapter 7*: Support
Monica walked into the office after John and he threw down the file in his hand onto his desk in anger. They'd argued about the 'Mulder' situation all the way back from Quantico and although it had been frustrating and not the best form of communication – to be yelling at each other, Monica was glad that at least they were talking. John however didn't seem so happy, he was pissed and Monica got the distinct impression it was at her.
"John, John you can't just ignore me?"
"Really? Well that's funny because that's exactly what I was trying to do."
"Since when did us having different opinions on something mean that we tore each other apart?"
"Then what's wrong with you?"
"I guess I just got used to working alone!"
"Well there are ways around that."
"Then maybe we should look into them!" Monica was hurt by what he'd said and John knew it, he could see it in her eyes and in her body, the way she arched away from him ever so slightly, to anyone else she was standing perfectly still, but to him, she was upset and he'd caused it. Monica took off her coat and hung it up before turning back to look at John.
"If you really don't want us to work together anymore, we have a problem."
"But we can't work like this."
"I know, I just, I really think that this Mulder thing is important."
"And I think it's all a hoax that's gonna come back and bite us in the ass."
"But this could bring him home, what if he wants a pathway to get back? And he can't do it without us?"
"What if it's someone who wants to track him down? Or William? And we lead them there and we begin something that will cause more pain than we could imagine."
"Well I'm pretty sure I'm qualified in the area of losing someone you love."
"This isn't the same as Luke, John."
"No, Luke's dead. But I can make it ok for Scully to get William back, or for Mulder to talk to her, or protect his son, what's so wrong with that?" Monica looked at him for a second as she processed what he was saying. All she could see was a man who missed his son and wanted it to be ok for a father to do whatever it takes to protect him from harm. This wasn't about Mulder, or William, it was about Luke.
"You can't change what happened to Luke by bringing William back into Scully's life, of Mulder's."
"No, but I can make her pain go away, no one can do that for me."
"We all try to help John, you know that," he knew she was talking about the night they'd spent together but he wasn't prepared to talk about that. Not yet.
"Well it doesn't make a difference."
"Would you let it? Or do you just like to push people away?"
"I'm not gonna do this with you Monica."
"This! I don't wanna talk about what happened with us."
"And if I wanna talk?"
"I don't care! Just leave it the hell alone!" his raised voice frightened Monica slightly and she didn't think she could sit here for a second longer. She picked up her coat and walked out of the office without glancing back and John watched her go, doing nothing to make her stay.
When Scully got home that night she found Frohike sitting outside her apartment door with a half empty bottle of vodka beside him. She smiled a little as she approached him, despite the fact they weren't what you call conventional friends, she cared about him a lot and she knew that he cared for her too, and that he had a great deal of respect and care for Mulder. In her book that made him one of the good guys. She unlocked her door and he looked up at her, obviously trying to focus.
"Come on, I'll make you some coffee," she walked inside and he slowly followed and managed to find a chair at her kitchen table. "What happened to you?"
"I got into a fight with Langley and took a walk."
"And you ended up here?" he shrugged his shoulders, "what were you arguing about?"
"This whole thing at the bureau with Mulder. It just isn't right."
"No, I know. But I have to admit, I've been giving some thought into whether I should be there or not."
"Don't do it Dana, if Mulder needed to get to you, he would, you know that as well as I do."
"What if this is him getting to me?"
"It's a load of horse crap and I don't want any part of it," he looked at Scully and saw how much this was agonizing her, he could see that she needed someone to tell her what the right thing was to do, he was happy to be that someone. "Scully, if you need to go, for I don't know, closure or something, then you should go. I guess if nothing else, only you know him well enough to know if it's really Mulder," Scully smiled at him and put his coffee down on the table. He sipped it gratefully and she kissed the top of his head.
*Chapter 8*: Trouble
When Scully opened the x-file office door, a chill ran through her whole body and she contemplated turning back as the ghosts from her life in there consumed her. Doggett and Reyes were sitting on opposite sides of the room and the Lone Gunmen were nowhere to be seen. She cleared her throat when no one saw her walk in; she'd rather have been noticed discreetly than by saying something.
Reyes looked up from the file she was reading and smiled at Scully. She smiled back and headed towards her as Doggett watched on, not able to find anything to say to either woman. He'd not spoken a word to Reyes since she came back into the office almost two hours ago, he knew she was strong willed but he'd felt certain that she'd say something to him first, he was too stubborn to make the first move.
For a short while Reyes and Scully didn't say anything, they just sat in the silent room and observed the power of the act of silence. Eventually, Reyes stood up and spoke.
"I'm gonna get coffee, can I get you anything Dana?"
"Umm, I'll come with you," they stood up and Scully almost waited behind, assuming that Reyes was going to ask Doggett if he wanted anything, when she didn't ask, Scully followed her out of the office and watched as she made coffee.
"Is everything ok Monica?"
"It's just that, well, I couldn't help noticing that you, and John, you seem …"
"I know. We had a fight. I guess we've yet to get to the making up part."
"But you will, right?"
"I don't know," Reyes looked at Scully and for a split second, Scully was sure she saw tears in her eyes.
"You'll be fine, there's something between the two of you, you must see it. Besides, I think he's just confused. John's a by the book guy, you didn't exactly keep your relationship particularly professional."
"I can't tell you how much I wish we had."
"I know, but it'll get easier, you just have to …"
"Scully! Monica!" both women turned as Doggett yelled their names from inside the office and as they ran inside they forgot all about coffee and stared at Doggett as he looked up at them.
"It's him, he's here," the three of them crowded around the computer screen to read the message: 'Agent Doggett, is this a secure connection?' Doggett replied with 'yes' and waited. Then they got 'are you alone?' and Scully felt her heart skip a beat. Doggett replied with 'No.' and then they waited.
A few minutes later the screen flashed again: 'Who's with you? I don't want anyone but you and Agent Reyes there.' Doggett looked up at Scully and she stepped back a little. Reyes put her hand on her shoulder and she took a deep breath.
"Don't tell him I'm here."
"Because if he doesn't want me here, it's about me, or it's about William. I'm not going anywhere and we need to know what he knows." Doggett hesitated before finally giving in to the stern looks he was getting and wrote back: 'I'm here with Monica'. A reply came almost immediately: 'I know that Scully gave William up, and I understand why she did it, but she made a mistake'. Again Doggett looked at Scully, but all she was doing was staring at the screen. He'd have given anything to make her leave; this wasn't what she needed to hear.
MF: 'William's adoptive parents are not who you think they are'.
JD: 'What do you mean?'
MF: 'His adoptive mother works for the government, on some kind of secret project that I've yet to gain access to. But I do know that it involves experiments on children.'
JD: 'How do you know this?'
MF: 'I keep my ear to the ground, look I haven't got much time, and there's more you need to know.'
There was a pause in communication that lasted only seconds but Scully felt like it went on for hours. The curser blinking on the screen with no new message appearing before it, nothing new for them to take in and digest. Reyes looked at Scully as she turned around and tried to think of something comforting to say, but there was nothing, and a big part of her believed this was all a hoax to lead someone to William now that he was safe.
Doggett looked at Scully and waited for her to say something, this may have been his office now but it was her call as to how long they waited for more from this guy.
"Dana, what do you want us to do?" Scully took a deep breath and turned from the computer to leave.
"What we should have done from the start. Turn it off," as she threw her coat on she moved to leave the room when Reyes spoke.
"Wait! There's something else," they all moved back around the computer and read the new message.
MF: 'His adoptive father, he's a super soldier.'
*Chapter 9*: Questions
When Scully got home she sat down on the couch and rested her elbow on the arm rest as her head leaned into her hand. She was exhausted and upset and riddled with guilt. Monica and John were with her, they stood hovering by the door, waiting for her to give them some kind of indication about what she wanted them to do, or what she herself wanted to do. It was hard for all of them. After M F Luder's last message about William's adoptive father the connection had been lost and they received nothing else. The Lone Gunmen had left and John offered to take Scully home. Monica came along for support. They all wanted to help.
Scully didn't move for a long time. She just sat very still, thinking. Trying to understand, but there was so much they didn't know and not enough time for them to learn it in. Her primary concern was whether it had really been Mulder or not. She couldn't be sure – the fact that he had made sure Scully wasn't there made her think it was him; he didn't want her to worry. But maybe whoever it was wanted her out of the way because they thought she'd figure out it was an elaborate lie? She just didn't know. She sighed heavily and stood up. John and Monica had moved to sit in the kitchen and were drinking coffee. She went over to them and Monica stood up.
"Can I get you coffee?" Scully nodded her head and smiled slightly and sat down.
"You guys shouldn't have to sit here like this, you should go home," John shook his head.
"We're not goin anywhere, you know us better than that," Scully nodded her head. Monica had picked up on John's use of 'us' and it gave her hope that maybe they'd work things out.
"What are you going to do?" Monica handed the coffee to Scully and she shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know. I'm kicking myself for not knowing if it was really him or not. I just can't figure it out."
"How about if you contact Mulder yourself? I mean, you said that you arranged how you'd call each other if needed right?"
"That was before, a lot has happened since we made those plans, and if you remember it didn't exactly go well last time," she was of course referring to when she had contacted Mulder before and almost gotten him killed by a super soldier, forcing him to flee a train.
"Well there must be some way we can find out, we can't just sit here and wonder," Scully was reminded how much John had done to take care of her and William whenever he took a protective role like this. She sipped her coffee and looked at Monica.
"What are your feelings on this?"
"I don't know. I had a hard time taking it in to be honest, I'm not sure that I'm any more inclined to believe it than I was before."
"So what, we just wait and see? Wait and see if we hear anything on the news about a small boy being taken from his home? Or killed?" Scully winced and John's frank words and she stood up to walk back into the living room, Monica followed her.
"You heard from them didn't you?"
"William's adoptive parents, they contacted you," Scully looked at her and nodded her head slowly. John moved to join them. "They told you that everything was wonderful and that they were grateful for all that you'd done for them. A thank you letter."
"My mom wrote one to the adoption agency she and my dad got me from, my dad never sent it – she always believed he had, but he didn't want anyone to know anything about me that had already chosen to know nothing more about me." Scully felt her heart sinking and sat down again.
She did care about William, she did love and miss him terribly, and the letter she had received from his new parents had torn her in two. Half of her desperately wanting him back and the other half relieved that he was safe and could be protected from harm. But what now?
"Are you trying to make a point Monica?"
"My point is, it's a normal thing – if they weren't 'normal' they'd be trying to have as little to do with you of all people as possible."
"Maybe they want to seem 'normal' when really they're not and so faking it will make us stay away," Monica looked at John and shook her head.
"I don't think so."
"And you're the expert?"
"I didn't say that, all I'm saying is…"
"We heard you Monica, loud and clear."
"Don't start with me John, not now."
"I just think you need to think about Scully and William before your own experiences."
"Oh like you familiarizing yourself with this because of Luke?"
"Don't you talk about him!"
"Enough!" Scully stood up and shouted at them both. They looked at her and then at each other. "I know you both want to help me, and I know you care, but I can't take this, not from the people that I trust – if you can't be around each other I can't have you both around me, not now – there's too much at stake, too many questions. I'm sorry, but you need to leave and you need to sort this crap out, because I can't take it anymore." Scully stood up and went into her bedroom. Monica looked at John and his face softened. She was surprised to see it.
"I think we should talk," he said.
"Ok. Who's going first?"
*Chapter 10*: Talking
Monica sat down on John's couch and realized she hadn't been at his place since the night they'd slept together. And if she remembered rightly things had begun to heat up in the exact spot she was sitting. However, she wasn't here to let her mind get distracted by thoughts like that. She was here because Scully had been right. They couldn't protect or help anyone while they weren't even able to have a simple conversation with each other, so John had asked her back to his place and reluctantly she had agreed. If things went wrong her only option would be to walk out, and she really didn't want to do that.
John stood and watched Monica as she sat down and could see her eyes that she was thinking about that night. He was too, but he didn't quite know how he felt about it, he supposed that was what they'd find out now. They had to talk about what happened and figure out what they felt about it before they could go any further. It was ruining everything and he didn't like that he couldn't talk to her anymore, he wanted their friendship back if nothing else. He blamed himself for everything – if only they'd talked about it right away maybe she wouldn't have gotten ill, or maybe if he'd been to see her in the hospital they'd be getting on better now. It was all so complicated.
"Can I get you a drink or somethin'?"
"No, thanks," Monica leaned back into the couch and John sat in a chair opposite her. "I think for all our sakes we should just get on with this."
"Before we end up killin' each other you mean?"
"Something like that yeah."
"I gotta tell ya Monica, I'm not even sure where to start."
"How about at the beach?" he nodded his head at her slowly and they both took deep breaths. It was hard to go back when you didn't know what was in front of you.
"I needed to be with someone, I needed you to be here with me. It wasn't that I wanted just anyone, I wanted you to be here."
"And I wanted to be here with you."
"I just didn't expect … that to happen," he blushed a little and Monica hid a small smile.
"Neither did I."
"I panicked, afterwards I mean, I didn't know what I should do; I didn't even know what it meant."
"Did you know how you felt?"
"I don't think so," he looked at her and wondered if she'd know right away what that night meant to her, what her first thought had been when she woke up and found he wasn't there. He was hiding from it and had been for months. But had she been happy with what happened? He had almost convinced himself that all he wanted was their friendship back. "I know I don't like not havin' you as my friend."
"I'm pretty sure friends don't usually sleep with each other."
"It was a one off, a mistake."
"That's what you thought?"
"Jesus Monica, I can't tell you how many mornings I've woken up wishing I'd not let how upset I was about Luke affect my behavior with you like that. It was like I wasn't in control."
"Maybe you needed to lose control."
"Well that's like saying I needed to sleep with you," he looked at her and she just stared back. Now he really didn't understand. Did he want to sleep with her? Why had he in the first place? He hadn't been able to actually tell himself how he felt about any of this; he'd assumed the role of 'guilty man' – taking advantage of his friend.
"You didn't take advantage of me John, I was here of my own free will – I didn't, what I mean is, I didn't try to stop you. Maybe I should've, if I'd have known we'd have to go through all this I would've. But I didn't, I wanted to – I wanted to be with you."
"I just don't think I'm ready."
"For what?" Monica asked. John looked at her and stood up. He wandered to the window and looked out onto his front yard. "John, ready for what?"
"More loss, more failure, I had about as much of that as I can take," Monica stood up and walked over to him, she turned him to face her and held his hand.
"What would you have lost?" he paused at her question and looked away.
"You." He looked at her and she saw his eyes looked teary. "I'd rather have you as a friend than had to talk about that night and maybe never speak to you again. We've been friends for a long time; I didn't wanna be the one to change that."
"We both changed that," he sighed at her and turned away.
"I can't do it Monica; I can't try and be something with you that I'm not. I can't lose you."
"If you carry on like this, you will," he turned back to her and now her eyes were misted over. A single tear slipped down her cheek and he smoothed it away with his thumb. Monica moved her head to rest in his hand and placed her own hand over his. As he moved away she entwined their fingers and pulled him into a hug. He held her tightly and she cried into his shoulder. "Monica, what is it?"
"When I think of what we've put ourselves through, for what?"
"I can't be anything but a friend to you Monica, I'm sorry but that's just how I feel," he pulled back from her and she held him in place so he couldn't get away. She looked up at him and his big blue eyes swallowed her whole. Her heart skipped a beat and her stomach was doing back flips as her hands slid around his neck and she pulled his face closer to her. She kissed him softly on the lips and he put his hands on her arms to stop her. "Stop," she moved in to kiss him again and his face filled with the anger he'd had at Scully's apartment. "I said stop Monica," she looked at him and didn't move.
*Chapter 11*: Morning After
When John opened his eyes he was disorientated and unsure of where he was, but then he recognized his bedroom and turned over to see Monica sleeping beside him. He sighed and let his head drop heavily into the pillow. What had he done? And not for the first time, come to think of it – they'd had more than a second and a third time too. He felt his skin heat up and his face blush as he recalled last night. Trying to get Monica to back off but letting himself get angry at her when she didn't, and letting that anger turn into passion as they'd clawed at each others clothes before finding the bedroom.
Had he just made the biggest mistake of his life? God he hoped not. He had wanted to talk to Monica and fix things with her – he hadn't thought in a million years that fixing things with her meant sleeping with her again. He never thought he'd be that lucky. He looked at her again, sleeping so peacefully. It was almost seven thirty, should he wake her to get ready for work? He couldn't just leave, not like he had done last time. He decided that coffee may be the best way to go – so he slipped from under the sheets and found some underwear on the floor that he casually put on and made his way downstairs.
When Monica opened her eyes, she knew exactly where she was and smiled to herself. It had been one hell of a night. She sighed happily and turned expecting John to be beside her, but he wasn't there. She sat upright and glanced around the room – had he left? Again? She cursed under her breath. She shouldn't have pushed him so far, she didn't intend for them to sleep together again, it had just happened – she couldn't help but feel it was what they hat both wanted, but if he'd ran away again, she'd really blown it this time. It was all over, their friendship, their professional relationship, all done with.
She lay back down and put her hand to her forehead. She could feel a headache coming already as she tried to assess what was going on and where she went from here. As she lay there staring into the ceiling, she didn't notice John walk back into the room until he sat on the edge of the bed and handed her coffee. She sat up and took it gratefully – grateful he was there and grateful that she had her hands on some caffeine. When John didn't say anything, she wondered if she'd just dreamt last night – but her naked body underneath the sheets and John's underwear suggested that it had all been very real.
"I thought you'd left."
"Again?" she nodded her head. "I wasn't about to go through all that again. No matter how I feel about last night, I wasn't running away," he sipped his coffee and looked as Monica turned to the window. The sun was shining through and cast light across her, she was beautiful. How had he never noticed that before? He knew she was pretty and an attractive woman – but she looked different now somehow – stunning. "You know, when I woke up – I didn't know where I was, I felt disorientated."
"I knew exactly where I was," she looked at him and he blushed. Had he been staring at her? She smiled a little and drank more of her coffee. She looked at the clock and realized they'd have to move soon to get ready for work. She could use a shower and a change of clothes, if she left now she'd just make it home and to work in time. "We should probably get ready for work, I should go home."
"You can shower here – I mean, if that's what you were going home for, it's up to you," Monica nodded her head slightly and agreed to take a shower at John's. He got up and fetched a clean towel and then went downstairs to give her some privacy. Monica didn't quite understand what was going on here, but at least they weren't arguing.
When Monica came down the stairs John excused himself to shower and she watched him go, bewildered as to whether they were going to talk about last night. She waited for him to come back and watched as he pottered around getting ready to leave. She thought she was going to explode the way she started to boil inside, she had to talk to him about last night, how could they go to work and not discuss it?
"John, we need to talk," he looked at her and seemed almost surprised she had said anything, "we can't leave it like this."
"I know, I know – I just, I don't quite know what you want me to say."
"I want you to tell me what the hell's going on. I think I made it quite clear how I feel, and the only thing you've said to me that makes sense is you want us to be friends. I want that too – but only if…"
"If what?" he walked over to her and her face dropped to the floor. He lifted her chin up and she had tears in her eyes. "If what Monica?" she couldn't say anything – she was hypnotized by his big blue eyes and then those eyes moved closer to her and she was scared to blink in case they moved away. But as John's lips brushed her own she closed her eyes and wound her arms around his neck.
"It's ok. I finally got this whole thing figured out."
"Yeah. I'm in love with you."
*Chapter 12*: The Call
Scully looked at the clock and sighed. She was sure time had gone at half speed all night. How could it only just be six am? She hadn't slept at all, but then that was no surprise. She had difficulty sleeping anyway, now that she was coming to terms with the possibility she had put her son in more danger than he had been in her care, she was finding it difficult to draw breathe let alone think about getting up and facing the world. Somehow she searched deep down and found the strength to get out of bed and call in sick at work. There were some things that took priority over teaching a group of enthused cadets how to be screwed over by their employees as she had considered herself to be by the FBI.
By seven thirty she'd showered and dressed and was now sitting with a mug of coffee, stirring the liquid contents as if she was waiting for them to form a pattern, something instructing her on what to do next. How could she have let this happen? She had believed that this was best for William; he was safer away from her and from anything to do with the X-Files. But now he was in danger and she had no idea how to find him or what she was supposed to do to begin her search.
There was also the chance that this was all a hoax and that it hadn't even been Mulder who they were communicating with. Would he really just come into the open like that and expose himself to John at the FBI as a way of warning? It was so out of character and not at all like him. But then he hadn't always been a father looking out for his son, when it came to family Mulder would lay his life down in an instant. So no matter how much Scully debated whether this was all really happening or whether it was a bad dream, she was going around in circles and could think of nothing that would put her on a straight path forwards.
As she left her apartment a little after eight am, Scully had no idea that she was just about to miss one of the most important phone calls of her life. How was she to know that Mulder had found a way to call her, had known how much doubt she would have in his messages to John, had known that she was in the X-Files office last night even after being told she wasn't? But none of this could be discussed, because the phone was ringing, but there was nobody home.
Mulder let the phone ring out for longer than he should have. If there was no immediate answer, she wasn't home. He knew this. But she wasn't at work either, so where was she? He hoped she was ok, hope was all he could do, he couldn't risk getting anywhere near her, this phone call had been his one chance, the only chance. He wouldn't be able to call again; he refused to believe that there weren't people listening in to her phone line, tapping into her life, it made his stomach turn that he couldn't protect her, that he couldn't keep her personal life just as it should be, personal.
He replaced the receiver and rested his head for a split second on the phone booth. He'd wanted so badly to hear her voice, hear her say his name, her soft warm tone, making even the darkest of moments seem bearable. He needed her so much, more than she'd ever know. But he'd let her down, and now his one chance to talk to her, to advise her on what to do, on how to protect William, was blown. He had no plan B, and no one he could go to for help or support. Mulder didn't like how near the end of the road he felt. He wasn't a quitter, and this was his son, there was nothing in the world he wouldn't risk for his safety. Right now William's safety was everyone's priority, and yet the one thing everyone was drawing a blank on.
*Chapter 13*: DNA
When she got to the X-Files office and found it locked she swore under her breath and looked at her watch. It was only six o'clock; it was unlike John and Monica to leave the office before this time. She knocked just to be sure there was no one inside, and then she heard the sound of hushed voices and movement. Scully knocked again and was startled by the speedy opening of the door. Despite having grown impatient at having to wait to be allowed inside she knew why the door had been locked and chose to ignore it, it was less embarrassing for all concerned if she left John and Monica's private life to them.
"Dana, is everything ok?"
"You mean since finding out I sent my son to live with a government employee and a super soldier? No, everything is not ok," John cursed himself for asking such a stupid question and Monica placed a supportive hand on his arm, it sent a warm shiver across his body and he was forced to think about how they'd spent their day. Monica stepped forward.
"Were you able to find anything out today? We called you at work and when they said you were sick we guessed you were taking time to look into M F Luder."
"I took the day to figure out what I'm supposed to do and how much of this is all true. I sent the envelope my letter from the Van de Kamps came in to the lab and had it tested for DNA. The saliva on the envelope is unidentifiable and male or female, but has high traces of iron in it."
"So the father … he's a super soldier, like Mulder said."
"I think it's safe to say at this point that he was telling the truth, but mentioning his name is more of a risk than I'd like us to take at this point."
"You think there are people listening down here?" Scully looked at John as if he'd just asked whether the number three came after two.
"There are always people listening Agent Doggett, especially down here," Scully sat down at the computer the messages from Mulder had been received on the night before. "There was a finger print on the envelope that I managed to ID as Mrs. Van de Kamp, although that's obviously not her real name. Irene Netting, works for a branch of government that I've been refused access to, which is what I'm hoping with your resources here you can find out," as Scully tapped away on the computer keyboard John sighed and looked at Monica.
"Dana, you know we'll do whatever we can to help, we want William safe just as much as you do, but I don't think that the three of us should take this on alone. We need…"
"Back up? Help? Someone to get our backs?" John sat down on the edge of his desk, "we don't have that luxury John, if you don't want to help me that's fine, you've already done more than I could ever repay you for trying to keep my family safe …"
"It's not a question of wanting or not wanting to help Dana, I wouldn't even think about turning my back on you and William, or Mulder," Scully looked up from the screen and took in what John had said, it was a big deal that he wanted to protect Mulder as well as her and William. He'd said that to get her attention. "I just don't want anyone else to get hurt, not again. We'll do this, but then it has to be over, you and your family can't hide anymore, we have to finish it."
"I hate to make things seem simple or less complicated than I understand them to be," Monica had stood up to talk, not wanted Scully to throw John's offer of help back in his face. "But has anyone considered just contacting the adoption agency and telling them to check up on William and the Van de Kamps?"
*Chapter 14*: Wasted Journey
Scully was nervous, hence the repeated action of looking at her watch or the door, or the posters on the wall of happy families, newly united parents with children that biological care givers had chosen to let go. Her stomach was doing back flips Olympic style and she was finding it difficult to hold down her one piece of toast and coffee. John was sitting beside her and she was thankful for him joining her in this task, although the part where he had to pretend to be Mulder was something that she wasn't entirely comfortable with. Still, it had either been that or bring Monica as her life partner.
John took Scully's hand to stop her looking at her watch for the hundredth time in twenty minutes and he saw the surprise then comfort in her eyes. He had offered to come with her, the three of them deciding that a happy couple would be more convincing than a single mom. Scully had argued it absurd that they could even try and pull it off, but after gentle persuasion she had left this morning with John by her side to protect her son.
When the lady came out of her office she glanced their way and then walked over to her colleague at the main desk, they both glanced over at Scully and John and it made them feel like animals at a zoo. Finally the woman came over and smiled. Then she introduced herself as Mary Clark and directed them into her office.
"Please take a seat," they did as instructed and Scully clasped her hands together to stop them from shaking. This was the woman who had taken her son away. She had hoped never to see her again. "So, what can I do for you today Ms Scully?" Try as she might Scully couldn't get any words to form in her mouth, where was she to begin?
"Mrs. Clark, we have reason to believe that William Mulder is in danger, that his adoptive parents aren't who they said they were and are likely to harm the baby should we not be able to find and protect him," Mrs. Clark eyed them both suspiciously.
"Ok. May I ask where you received this information and how you know it to be accurate?"
"I'm afraid we can't reveal our source to you, but can tell you that it's of great importance we find William and bring him home," even as the words left John's mouth Scully wanted the ground to open and swallow her whole. He sounded like a guilt ridden father wanting to get his son back. It was then she realized that on some level he was. It all sounded so ridiculous. She wished they had never come. The odd thing was that John kept going, and she just sat there.
"Are you the boys father Mr. …?"
"Mulder. Yes. We're only trying to do what's best for our son."
"Well I'm afraid that that responsibility no longer lies with you Mr. Mulder. It is no longer of your concern and I'm afraid I do not have the authority or the desire to bring William back into your lives. He's settled, he's a happy and healthy baby boy and we always keep an eye on our placements so you can rest easy that nothing will harm him that we can prevent," Mrs. Clark stood, clearly wanting them to leave. Scully stood up and placed a hand on John's arm.
"You're wrong," John stood and looked at the woman in front of him that was telling him there was nothing he could do to protect this child. Scully removed her comforting hand and became frustrated at John's persistence. "There is absolutely nothing you can do to protect this child, and if anything happens to him because you wouldn't let us help I hope you don't mind living with that on your head," and he turned and walked out, not looking back to check if Scully was following.
When they got to the car Scully took out the car keys but didn't unlock the car. John looked at her in confusion.
"You want me to drive?"
"No. I want you tell me what the hell was going on in there? You were arguing a losing battle before we even walked into that office, we sounded like fools John."
"I sounded like a fool you mean, I didn't hear you backing me up."
"Because there was no point. I know you and Monica only want to help, but thinking we could walk in there and convince anyone that William was being endangered by his adoptive parents was crazy."
"Maybe if you'd have shown more concern in stead of burying your face in your hands."
"Because I was embarrassed John! You wouldn't let it go and it's not even …" he looked at her and she tried to looked away.
"Not even what? My son?"
"No it's fine, I get it. But if you ask me you didn't want this to work, maybe you like the difficulty of it. It would have been too simple to just convince her that we could help, so you pretended it was a lost cause."
"It was a lost cause John, and don't ever presume to tell me that I like how difficult my life is. I know you lost your son and think you understand what I'm going through …"
"No actually, I don't. You see my son was taken from me, you gave yours up," and with that he turned and walked away. Scully didn't even try and call him back; she just stood and watched him go, her heart silently breaking.
*Chapter 15*: Lost
Scully got back to her apartment and sighed heavily as she turned the engine off. Her morning could not have gone any worse and she had no idea what she was supposed to do next. How was she supposed to try and save William when she had no idea where he was, or how to contact Mulder to get him to provide her with more information? More than ever she simply hated herself for not keeping her son where she could watch him closest – by her side.
As she climbed the steps to her apartment she started to think about what John had said. He'd been so supportive when she let William go and it must've been torture for him to see her willingly let her boy go when his was taken so cruelly away. It had been her decision and hers alone, she did what she thought was right, she had been wrong. And now she'd upset someone that she relied on more than she had ever allowed herself to.
She'd driven by the FBI on her way home, she even considered going inside, to see if he was there, to apologize – to make him understand. She'd chickened out and sat in the parking lot and called his office. Monica had answered and replied that John wasn't back yet. She sounded worried when Scully told her they'd left the adoption agency without any success, but she assured Monica that he was fine and would turn up at the office soon. She couldn't bare to be honest and tell her what he'd said, his hurt feelings. It was more than she wanted to be responsible for.
As she entered her apartment she glanced at the flashing light on her telephone and pushed the play button on her answer machine. There was a message from her mom asking her to call as soon as she got home, a blank message from someone who hadn't hung up in time to miss the beep, and then a second message from her mom.
"Dana? Are you home yet? Please can you call me as soon as you get this message? It's important, bye," the line went dead and a voice announced that she had no more messages. Scully picked up the phone and dialed her mother's number.
"Dana, where've you been?"
"I was umm, I was working."
"I called you at work, they said you were sick, are you ok?"
"I'm fine mom, I just – I just felt a little sick this morning, I'm fine, is everything ok? You're messages sounded urgent?"
"Yes, I mean everything is – is fine, but can you come here today?" Scully sighed inwardly and tried to work out what was going on. She didn't want to go to her mother's and have to pretend her life was perfect – without Mulder and William in her life there was nothing that Scully had to worry about according to her mom, now she could get on with her life and be happy.
"Mom, now isn't really a good time…"
"It's important Dana, I wouldn't ask if it wasn't."
"You're sure everything is ok?"
"Yes, I just want to see you, is it a crime for a mother to want to see her child?" Scully winced and couldn't think of anything worse for her mom to have asked her. Right now the only way she could find William was not going to be entirely legal.
"Ok mom, I'll be there as soon as I can," she put down the phone and picked up the car keys that she'd just discarded on the coffee table. She opened her front door and locked it behind her.
As she drove to her mom's house she didn't focus her mind on anything in particular, there were so many things that were running through her head repeatedly that she began to struggle separating one thought from another. It was a mess of crazy notions, wishes and regrets, and her deepest desires. She made it to her mother's from simple autopilot, she wasn't directing herself, the car knew where it was going.
She parked the car and knocked on her mom's door. There was no answer so she opened it and walked inside.
"In here Dana," her voice came from the living room so Scully closed the door behind her and headed in that direction.
"Hey mom, I …" Scully's voice trailed off as her mom looked at her with deep concern and unease. It was only when Scully's eyes fell to the person standing beside her mother that she understood that look. "Oh my God… Mulder…"
*Chapter 16*: Understanding
John sat down with his beer and switched on the game. He needed this, the chance to sit down and relax, to not have to worry about anyone but himself. He wasn't a selfish guy, he liked to do whatever he could to help anyone he cared about, but this day had pushed him a little further than he'd have liked. He'd not gone back to work, he'd taken the whole day to sit and do nothing. It was so out of character for him, but something had pushed his buttons.
So now that he was enjoying a beer, he didn't like the idea of someone knocking on his door to be let in. He wanted to ignore the pounding on his door but something about the persistent knocks that told him this wasn't somebody who'd go away.
"Alright! I'm comin'," he walked over and opened the door to find a very angry face staring back at him. "Monica."
"Where the hell have you been?" she pushed past him and walked into the living room.
"I just needed a minute."
"John you've been gone all day, Scully came by this morning to ask where you were, I thought you'd be back, but you weren't answering your cell, there was no answer here …"
"I just got in."
"So where have you been?"
"I just needed some time ok?"
"For what?" John didn't like all the questions, he'd just needed to calm down and collect his thoughts.
"To think, to get my thoughts together?"
"Why? Has something happened?"
"Then I don't understand, why wont you talk to me? This isn't like you, blowing off work for no reason …"
"I had my reasons."
"But you wont tell me."
"There's nothing to tell!"
"Jesus Monica! Let it go! I lost it ok! I lost my cool and couldn't distance myself from what's going on."
"What do you mean?"
"I can't understand why she gave him up ok? I just don't get it, and I told her as much, and I shouldn't have because she's my friend and I've done everything I can for her and Mulder, and I just felt as if it was all a waste of my time," Monica walked over to him and pulled him into a hug. He let her hold him and wrapped his arms around her. It was actually good to be with someone.
"I know it's hard for you John, and I know you don't understand any of this, I don't think any of us understand it. Not even Scully. Especially not now," John pulled out of the hug and looked at her. She kissed him and he smiled.
"What was that for?"
"Just felt like it," he kissed her back and then pulled back and frowned.
"What did you mean before? When you said especially now?"
"I just got a call from Scully, we have to get to her mom's place."
"Mulder's back. He has something to tell us, she asked for us to get there as soon as possible."
Scully's mom had gone to make tea. It seemed like the best option to allow her daughter and Mulder to talk in private for a few minutes. But now that she'd gone and had stopped asking questions, Scully stared at Mulder through misty eyes and he tried to think of something to say to make what he'd told her seem less like the worst news ever and more hopeful for William's safe return. The look on her face told him that nothing short of holding her son in her arms would allay her fears.
"Mulder I don't understand, why are they doing this, Spender – he said…"
"I don't know if what he told you is true. I think whatever he injected him with was something to make William's abilities dormant for a while. Long enough for you to let him go thinking it would give him a normal life."
"So this is my fault? I mean – I just wasn't strong enough, I couldn't…" Mulder walked over to her and held her close. He pulled her to him tight and she felt safe for the first time in months. Mulder loosened his grip enough so that her face could look up at him. He kissed her softly and then with more force, he'd missed her.
Mrs. Scully walked back into the living room and cleared her throat to announce her return. She apologized and Mulder smiled, but didn't let go of Scully.
"I think Agents Doggett and Reyes are here."
"Ok mom, thanks."
"I'll go let them in," Mrs. Scully left again and Mulder took the opportunity to place another kiss on Scully's lips.
"You ready for this?"
"I'm ready to get our son back, so that I can protect both of you."
"Who's going to protect you Mulder?"
"All I need is you and our son safe and together. We can worry about me later."
*Chapter 17*: First Meeting
Monica and John walked into Mrs. Scully's living room and the five of them stood looking each other as if they were getting ready for pistols at dawn. Mulder and John were staring at each other reaching for masculine superiority; Scully looked at Monica and managed a half smile before taking a shuddering breath. Mrs. Scully handed out cups of tea and everybody took a seat.
"Thanks for getting here so quickly, both of you," Scully looked at John as she spoke; she hadn't forgotten how they'd last parted.
"Of course Dana, but we had no idea, I mean – Mulder, how did you get here?" Monica was stuck in the middle on this one. Mulder and John weren't exactly bosom buddies, and John and Scully had obviously had words, there was a lot of tension in the air.
Mulder took the lead though, he was good at taking charge, and this was his life they were about to discuss, his and his sons. If anyone had the right to lead this conversation it was him.
"How I got here is a boring story, it's not important, we have to talk about why I'm here."
"Ok," everything from that point on became a two person conversation with Monica and Mulder. Scully didn't speak, nor did her mom and John.
"I know you know about William's adoptive parents, who or what they are, I'm here because we have to get him back, before all hell breaks loose."
"What are you talking about?"
"William's, abilities, they didn't go away. They were dormant, and now they're active again."
"Spender. I don't know what he did exactly; I just know that he's behind this. When the experiments that his father had him subjected to didn't kill him he vowed that he'd get revenge. He's doing that using William."
"But Spender's father is dead; we all saw that place get blown apart."
"Spender doesn't know that. He thinks he can still find where his father's been hiding and that he can personally bring his sorry ass life to an end."
"So why can't we just tell Spender that he's dead and get him to leave William alone."
"You misunderstand, he isn't a threat to William, he doesn't want to hurt him. But William is a threat to smoking man. And nobody knows where Spender is it, so no – we can't just meet him for lunch and fill him in on his father's death," John noted the unfriendly tone of Mulder's voice and didn't like it being directed at Monica.
"We're here to help Mulder, so about less of the attitude?"
"I'm not here to deal in or with any BS agent Doggett; I just want my son back."
"Well we tried that, it didn't work, and Scully seemed to have other ideas about whether it was even possible or not," all eyes turned to Scully and her face flushed a little.
Scully didn't want to have to relive her argument with John, and certainly not in front of her mother and Mulder. She resented him for still being hostile about it with her; she had wanted him to be involved in this because she thought he could help. She still believed that but she wasn't sure she could handle his company until they'd resolved their issues.
"Scully? What is he talking about?"
"John and I went to the adoption agency, claiming that William was in danger, and that we had to get him back, for his protection, needless to say it didn't go well, and John believed I accepted defeat too easily."
"Too easily? Dana, you didn't even try and pursue the issue! You were told it wasn't going to happen and you walked away. But then you're good at that," Mulder shot a look across the room and John didn't flinch.
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't talk to the mother of my child in that tone agent Doggett."
"Because you're the perfect parent? You were here for what? A day of his life?" Mulder stood up and John did the same. In nothing but panic about where this would lead, the three women stood too.
"If you have something to say, say it agent Doggett."
"John…" Monica put her hand on his shoulder and he looked at her, losing the rage that he was holding against Mulder. The room fell quiet and Mrs. Scully was the first to break the silence.
"I think it's clear that everybody here has the same goal, to get William back, to make him safe. So the sooner we let go of our ego and pride maybe we can focus on how to get to my grandson?" everyone sat back down and there was another pause.
"I know exactly how to get him back. But I can't do it alone, that's why I came back. We have to do this together."
*Chapter 18*: Last Night
Frohike put down the phone and rushed through to the next room to find Byers and Langley. He could barely contain himself when he spoke; his mind was already in gear to help put this plan into motion. Byers looked up from his newspaper as Frohike walked in, Langley didn't even notice him.
"Frohike? Everything ok?"
"We got a job, a thing, we gotta help him, we're back in the game, it's really him this time!" Langley was paying attention now; both he and Byers were looking at Frohike as if he'd gone quietly mad in the five minutes since they'd last spoken to him.
"Frohike? Have you been smoking something?"
"He better not, he won't have saved any to share."
"I've not been smoking anything punk ass, I was on the phone."
"Well that much we knew, from hearing it ring."
"It was Mulder!" Frohike smiled, now he had their attention.
"Where is he? Is he ok? What did he say? What does he need?"
"He's with Scully at her moms, he's back for William, we're going to get him back."
"When you say we?"
"All of us, team work, remember what that's like Byers? To be part of a team? To do something worth while?"
"So what does he want on our end?" Frohike smiled again.
"Good old fashioned computer hacking."
"Hacking? For what?"
"Adoption records my girlie haired friend. So move over, and let me at that thing. We got a little boy to help bring home."
Mulder and Scully were alone again. But now they were at her apartment. He'd questioned whether it was a good idea or not, he was more likely to be exposed at her apartment, but it wasn't fair on her mom to remain at her house, there was no point putting anyone in unnecessary danger. The drive had gone in silence, and now they were home the silence felt more awkward.
"You don't even know what I was going to say."
"Sure I do," he grinned and Scully couldn't help but smile back. He walked over to her and kissed her softly and she sighed slightly against him. "You don't have to say anything."
"He made it sound so emotionless, it wasn't like that, I just knew there was no point wasting energy on a lost lead."
"I know. You did the right thing; no one will suspect you'll pursue another lead so vehemently after being told there was no way you could get him back," he pulled her close and hugged her tightly. "I missed you."
"I missed you too," a tear slid down Scully's cheek and she moved to wipe it away. Mulder looked down at her and cupped her face in his hands.
"It'll be ok, I promise."
"We'll get him back."
"And then what? Say we're successful, say we bring him home. What happens after that? They'll come for him again, they'll come for you."
"They'll have me," Scully dropped her head and Mulder lifted up her chin softly. "It's ok; I know what I'm doing."
"I don't want to lose you again."
"Right now I'm not the one that matters. Offering me up in William's place is the only way we can do this. We'll worry about next when we're through that."
"There won't be a 'we' – I'll be alone again," Mulder shook his head.
"No. You'll never be alone. I would never let that happen, I don't care if it takes losing every limb on my body, or my sanity, or anything else they can take from me, I will never leave you alone," he kissed her again and then he slowly edged them both towards the bedroom.
He believed what he'd said to her, he would do whatever it took to get back, but in the even that he didn't. This could be their last night together. For good.
*Chapter 19*: Cover Up
When Mulder woke up he stared at Scully and just watched her sleeping. He had no doubt in her mind that this was the most peaceful nights rest she'd had since he'd walked away from her. It made his blood boil to think of her trying to get through all this by herself. The worst part was when he first found out that she'd let William go he had hated her for it. He hadn't been able to understand why she would let that happen, why a mother who had longed for a child, who had even asked him to donate sperm for her, had just let him go.
He was being selfish, he knew that, but this was his son, and at the time it had baffled him to try and imagine what had been going through Scully's mind to just say goodbye. It was only when he had time to look into things further that he realized Scully had done what any loving mother would do, and he couldn't fault her for that. If he'd been here he could've taken care of them both, they could've moved away, they should've. But now they were in a situation where their son was in more danger than he would have been if Mulder had just stayed in the first place. What a mess.
Scully stirred beside him and then opened her eyes. She blinked a few times and then smiled. It was so good to wake up next to him again, the man she loved, had dreamed of coming back to her and rescuing her. Her prince. She blushed a little at her childish thoughts and realized that he must have been staring at her before she was even awake. She looked at the clock by her bedside and read 6:49am, it was time to get up and get ready. She swallowed hard and then sat up a little, it was strange to be comfortable around Mulder naked. She didn't make any effort to hide from him, in fact she wanted him to hold her, but daren't ask – they had to be strong and the more dependent she seemed the less she'd be able to put on a brave face.
"Were you watching me?"
"For a little while," he smiled.
"We should get up."
"I know," Scully turned away to head for the bathroom but Mulder grabbed her arm and pulled her back towards him. He wrapped his arms around her and breathed in her hair, her scent - something to remember her by. They sat for a while before Scully finally went for a shower and Mulder made coffee. Just a regular family getting up to face another day. Yeah, right.
"Did you find it? Langley?"
"My hair isn't girly! Mom, no I can brush it myself..." Frohike looked at Byers as they both stood looking down at a sleeping Langley. Clearly he was dreaming and as much as Frohike wanted to put his hand in a bucket of water, he resisted the urge and in stead shoved him hard enough to wake him up, with a start.
"Langley? You with us?" Langley looked from each of his friends and then turned back to the computer screen.
"I think I found what we need, these records are sealed tight, and William's file wasn't where it should've been."
"What are you talking about?"
"The records are put in adoption date order, so I checked for the date William was taken and there was nothing there. I checked earlier, to see if maybe they put the date Scully began the adoption process, but I came up with bupkiss."
"Please tell us that you're going somewhere with this?"
"Hey I don't see you pulling an all nighter, you wouldn't know a dotcom from your ass."
"At least I don't need my mommy to brush my hair for me..." as Frohike and Langley got ready to duke it out Byers stepped between them and gave them his stern face.
"Enough, both of you. Langley, what can you tell us about William and his location?"
"I got it."
"You couldn't have started off this little tale with that information?"
"No, because it's fake."
"It's not a real address, it doesn't exist."
"But, that would mean the adoption agency are covering up William's location."
"Yeah. I know."
*Chapter 20*: Lie To Me
Doggett looked at the clock and groaned. It was almost seven thirty. He tried to move out of his bed but something was weighing him down. He looked across to see Reyes lying across his chest, she was sound asleep and he smiled. He felt more alive when she was with him than he ever had before. It was almost unreal to him, to feel the way she made him feel was something he'd never imagined would happen for him. He had deemed his existence merely punishment for living on without his son, maybe there were other reasons he was still alive in stead. He shuffled slightly to place her beside him so he could get up, good intentions aside it was a wasted effort and she opened her eyes and immediately smiled at seeing Doggett beside her.
"Morning," he grinned at her.
"Morning John, what time is it?"
"Time for us to get up and get going," she groaned and rolled over onto her back. The sheets fell over her, covering the fact she wasn't wearing anything. Doggett ached to reach out and move the sheet, to show her how much she meant to him.
"Has Dana called?"
"No, I haven't heard anything."
"You think that's a good or a bad thing?"
"I don't know. As much as I'd like to say no news is good news, I don't think any of this is going to be easy," Reyes sighed and Doggett felt guilty, as if his words had crushed her spirit. He leaned over and kissed her softly on the lips and her smile returned.
"What was that for?"
"I just felt like it," they both smiled and then the phone rang. Doggett answered it and from the brief conversation that was had, Reyes assumed that it was Mulder. He put the phone down and looked out of the window. Reyes sat up and touched his shoulder.
"Yeah, it was Mulder. We gotta go."
When The Lone gunmen had passed the information along to Mulder about William's adoption records, they had known that he would be angry about it, but they hadn't known that he would ask them to accompany him to the adoption agency to help him get in undetected. It was crazy. And he wouldn't even wait until nightfall, he wanted to go now and no one could talk him out of it. Try as she might Scully had tried to make him see that it wasn't worth risking being caught himself when it was going to fail anyway. She didn't understand why he was doing this, why risk everything now?
Mulder had argued that the longer they left William with these people the more danger he was in, especially now it seems it had all been covered up from the beginning and that nobody had any intention of letting this child lead a normal life. Scully wasn't even sure what normal was anymore. She just wanted her son home, without having to lose Mulder. The longer she was left to think about it the clearer it became that that was never going to be possible.
When Doggett and Reyes walked into her apartment Scully smiled at them both and excused herself before disappearing into the bedroom. Mulder stood up to go after her, but Doggett intervened. He went in Mulder's place and for a split second Mulder wondered if it was wrong he wasn't concerned about this man being in the same bedroom as a woman he had once harbored feelings for. He decided that there was nothing to worry about and used the time to talk to Reyes, he couldn't help feeling that she was a damn sight easier to explain this to than Doggett, although he would've liked someone on his side who knew what it was like to lose a son. Right now, he couldn't help but wonder what Doggett was saying to Scully.
"Please don't John, I can't do this with you, not now."
"I know. I wanted to say sorry," she turned to look at him and it pained him to see she was crying. "I was wrong, I shouldn't have said what I did, I hope you know that I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that you get your boy back," Scully nodded her head slightly before losing her usual self composure and burying her face in her hands. Doggett walked over to her and pulled her into an embrace that helped them both.
"What am I doing John, tell me what I'm doing?"
"Fighting for your son."
"I'm losing the strength to fight. I don't have enough faith left to believe this will all work out, lie to me John, tell me my son will be safe and that I'm not going to lose Mulder." John held his breath a second, and then he lied.
*Chapter 21*: Inside
"Remember you said this would all work out."
"You told me to lie," Scully smiled and then took a shaky breath as she sat in the car with Doggett. They'd driven Mulder to the adoption agency and had been ordered to stay put, no matter what happened. Over all these years Scully found it amusing to think that Mulder would really believe she'd stay in the car when she could try and help him. It made her smile to think that he still tried to get her to do as he said. She never had and she never would. She felt that under the circumstances he was lucky she hadn't sedated him to get him to stay at her apartment instead of this crazy routine. One thing she had learned over the years was that Mulder did crazy well.
Doggett had been unsure about the plan for this little operation they were trying to pass. Reyes had gone inside pretending to look for information on her birth parents. It was pure coincidence that she
genuinely had been adopted at birth, she had no hesitation in agreeing to play the roll of lost daughter. He hoped she really was ok with it. Reyes was supposed to distract enough people to allow Mulder to slip away without being noticed. He was playing the roll of supportive boyfriend,
Doggett had auditioned for the roll but it was Mulder who had to be inside, so it was his call. Doggett wished he could see what was going on inside, The Lone gunmen were in their van with schematics of the building and enough computer software to take over the buildings in a ten mile radius.
Now it was a waiting game. Waiting for Mulder to show up, to make it out without being caught, and for Reyes to not be caught out during her enquiries. There was so much at risk and it had become so natural to Scully to worry about things that she wasn't sure she'd be able to handle the mundane everyday lives that she saw around her everyday. However this didn't stop her wanting to try. All she needed now was for Mulder to make it back to her and for them to save William. All in a days work.
Mulder was being guided around the building via a mouth piece communicating with the Lone gunmen. He was pissed, he knew that there were people in the world that couldn't be trusted, but what kind of person knowingly puts a baby in danger and continues to work without their conscience kicking in? Mulder was not naive, he knew of the evil in the world, he had seen how dangerous it could be and that the people he loved would always be in danger, but he'd be damned if he was going to let someone just place his son with people who had no intention of bringing him up to have the normal life Scully so badly wanted for him. He'd die before he let that happen.
"Langley, where am I?"
"Just keep following the corridor."
"How's Reyes doing?"
"Great - they don't suspect a thing, they're bringing out a register of adoption records to try and locate her."
"She was adopted in Mexico."
"They have records of that here?"
"It's called acting my friend - she isn't actually trying to locate her birth parents, remember?" Mulder rolled his eyes, he was trying to remain calm and felt rather stupid for forgetting this was all a cover for him. Idiot.
"Ok, it's a dead end, now what?"
"There should be a door on your right, I'm working on the lock now - it's so nice when they make things easy by having computerized locks."
"Kinda weird for an adoption agency though don't you think?"
"Point well made Frohike."
"Ok, you're in," Mulder opened the door and walked inside, it was dark so he took out his flash light and shone it around the room. It was tiny and held a row of cabinets along the left hand wall, there was a window at the back that was so dirty it wasn't letting any light through, it was almost black with dirt and grime. He walked over to the cabinets and tried to open them, they were all locked.
"What is this room guys?"
"It's supposed to be a bathroom according to the floor plan."
"How'd you figure that?"
"I looked at it."
"There's two different floor plans, one has a bathroom and pipes connecting to the sewer system, the other has an empty space. There's never an empty space."
"Well, there may not be an empty space, but I can't get into these cabinets."
"Pick the locks," Mulder frowned, what was wrong with him today? Picking locks was so old school, he hadn't thought that this would be so easy, he was looking for challenges and things to prevent this from being successful. He took a lock pick from his jacket pocket and read the labels on the front of each cabinet, one was records that predated even his parent's births, the other had nothing written on it and the third said cover locations. Really?
He felt as if he were in some kind of Starsky and Hutch sketch. This couldn't be for real. Trusting his instincts he went for the cabinet that had nothing written on it and began twisting and turning the lock until it clicked open. He quickly fingered his way through some of the files and found nothing that was of interest to him. Begrudgingly he turned to the cabinets marked as cover locations. It couldn't possibly be that simple. Could it?
*Chapter 22*: The Name
"He's been gone a long time."
"I'm sure he knows what he's doing."
"Really?" Scully looked at Doggett inquisitively and he smiled.
"Well, I'm sure he thinks he knows what he's doing," Scully laughed a little and sighed.
"John, I just want you to know that it means a lot to me to have you here, helping with this. We couldn't do it without you, and it's hard to know who to trust," Doggett nodded his head a little and turned back to the building in front of them.
"I only wish I could do more."
Reyes had done all she could and was being shown out, she had already persisted with her line of enquiry more than was necessary, she didn't want to raise any more suspicion than she already had.
"I hope we've been of some help to you today Ms. Harris."
"Yes, thank you," Reyes headed for the door as puzzled faces asked her where her partner had gone. Reyes was stuck for an explanation and so suggested he'd gone to the bathroom. The bathroom was empty. Managing to escape by saying that he must have gone back to the car,
Reyes quickly made it to Doggett and Scully without drawing any more suspicion to her. She climbed inside and tried to stay calm as the three of them waited for signs that Mulder was going to make it out safely.
The atmosphere was tense, thick with racing pulses and nerves. Scully leaned forward in her seat. He should be out by now, something was wrong.
Mulder could hear a crackling in his ear, but not the panicked voices of the Lone gunmen who were trying to warn him that Reyes had to leave and he needed to get out of there. He was looking through files in the cabinet he'd opened, he had stumbled across information that he hadn't expected. The files contained the location of William, the names of his adoptive parents and the name of the person responsible at the agency for getting him to them. What he hadn't expected to find was a name that he had trusted. Someone that he had believed to be on his side, no matter what. As Mulder began to gather the information to take back to Scully, a voice suddenly came clear in his ear.
"Mulder! You gotta move! They're headed straight for you."
"What? What about Reyes?"
"She's outside already, she had to go, she was finished."
"Any bright ideas about how I can get out of here?" Mulder looked around him and it seemed that the only way out was through the door that currently had someone standing on the other side working on the lock. Why weren't they just using a key card?
"Mulder, we got CCTV on this guy trying to get in there, he doesn't work at the agency, he's here for you," Mulder cursed under his breath and saw a small spot of light in the back corner of the room. He walked over and poked into a small gap in the wall, it was a door, but it had been covered over so that nobody could get in or out, well right now it was his only chance of getting out of here. He was prepared to give himself up for William, but not yet - not before they knew they could get to him before anyone else and save him.
His fingers started to bleed as he clawed through the wall until he finally pulled the door open, it led downwards, not exactly his destination of choice, but it was better than backwards. He turned on his flashlight and headed down the stairs, trying to move quickly without losing his footing.
At the back of the basement there was a window, he piled some boxes up so he could get some height and pull himself through, as he grabbed the window ledge someone reached and grabbed his foot, startling him and causing him to drop one of the files he'd picked up. He couldn't do anything about it, he had to go. He pulled free with all the energy he could summon and made it through the window. He ran to the van where the Lone gunmen were working from and they sped off as the door closed behind him. The car where the others were waiting saw this happen and followed closely behind, praying that there efforts hadn't been wasted.
When they got back to Scully's apartment everyone was quiet and subdued. So far, none of them knew what Mulder had found because he'd taken Scully into the bedroom to talk to her first. She had assured him that this was time wasting and that if this was going to work everyone needed to be on the same page. Mulder refused to oblige and insisted that he talk to her first. If she was honest with herself, Scully was just scared at what he had found, and if they were alone it was more serious. She didn't want it to be serious. She wanted them to get William and get as far away from here as possible. It was becoming more and more clear to all of them, that nothing about this was going to be simple.
"Mulder, what is it, what's going on?"
"I found a name in William's file."
"Do we have his location?" Mulder nodded his head and Scully lost her composure as she put her hand to her mouth to hide relieved sobs. Mulder took her into his arms and cradled her as he felt the tension release, she was crying because she thought that they could just go in and save him now. Unfortunately, that wasn't going to be the case.
*Chapter 23*: Betrayed
"Mulder, it doesn't mean anything."
"What? How can you say that, it's right here in black and white Scully, how much clearer do you need it to be?" Mulder and Scully had rejoined the others in the lounge when Scully had been unable to accept the name she had been given to be working against them and the safety of William.
"Look, he helped me, he was with me when I ... when they took William. He's on our side," Mulder was staring at Scully in disbelief. If this wasn't a betrayal then what was it? Doggett and Reyes had stayed quiet, as had the Lone gunmen. Nobody knew quite what to say, this was only going to be explained by the man himself.
"So let's confront the guy," Doggett spoke up, doing anything had to be more constructive than doing nothing.
"What good will that do? You think he'll just admit to being a part of the lie? That he knowingly put William in danger covering it up with a friendship?"
"No. But maybe he can explain this."
"Lie his way out of it you mean," Mulder was determined to prove that this man was a traitor, nobody could understand why. Scully walked over to him and held his hand.
"Mulder, why are you so ready to believe that he would do this to us?"
"Because he's not always looked out for us."
"Over all these years, he's had so many opportunities to end everything for us, for the X-Files. He never did. So let's talk to him, and wait before we make any false accusations," Mulder looked at Scully and nodded his head slightly. Then he kissed her and pulled her into his arms. He prayed that she was right and that this could all be explained away. He wanted to believe that they could still trust this man, but the fact that everyone had jumped to his defense made it easy to see that the friendships this guy had built would make it easy for him to betray them undetected.
In the middle of nowhere, the four of them having arrived in the same car, Mulder, Scully, Doggett and Reyes stepped out as they saw another car approaching in the distance. They were in a woodland area, the nearest place any of them had been able to come up with to meet quickly and get this over and done with. There was a chance that if this turned out to prove Mulder right, this man could help them when it came to getting William back, with the need to save his own life.
"That him?" Reyes asked and Doggett answered with an affirmative nod. He knew that car. They all did, and they all waited with baited breath to hear what he had to say. When he got out of the car he looked at each of them in turn and then fixed his gaze on Mulder.
"My God Mulder, what are you doing here?" Mulder looked at Skinner and then at Scully. She gave him a look that told him he had permission to go ahead and find out why Walter Skinner had been named as someone to contact in an emergency should William exhibit any signs of his special abilities.
"I came with news about William," Skinner didn't react to this. Which either meant he was hiding something, or he already knew that something was going on with regards to William and his adoptive parents.
"Does this all have to be done so covertly?"
"Well sir, I didn't know how safe it would be to meet with you somewhere I might be seen. I'm sure you're aware that I left to try and protect my family. It seems my efforts were wasted," Skinner shifted slightly and then approached them all. It was then that he could tell this was an inquisition. He was here to be accused of something and he didn't like the idea of being called up like this.
"If you have something to say to me Mulder then say it, I don't have time to stand out here and enjoy a happy reunion," Skinner sounded harsh and uncaring, but Doggett and Reyes knew all too well that Skinner had only been allowed to keep his job by staying as far out of X-File business as humanly possible. Not to mention the threats on his life should he go against this order. It had been hard on all of them, but somehow they'd carried on, living a lie.
"Alright. I wanna know why your name is on adoption records for William. Why you made sure that you would be the first contact should his abilities return," Skinner looked at them all and opened his mouth to say something when he suddenly convulsed and then fell to his knees as blood started to run down his body and out of his mouth. He'd been shot.
*Chapter 24*: Nothing
Scully came out of the operating theatre and Doggett stood up when he saw her. They had agreed it wasn't wise for Mulder to join them at the hospital; it was obvious that somebody knew what was going on. Reyes had gone back to Scully's apartment with him in the hope that they could keep a low profile until Skinner could talk.
"How is he?" Scully gave her, 'it's not good news' half smile that was full of sympathy and regret.
"He's come through the surgery fine, but the bullet did a lot of damage and they don't know if they've been able to stop the bleeding enough to make a difference to his condition. He's unconscious, but we should know more when he wakes up."
"What the hell is going on here Dana? We called Skinner in because he was supposed to be the bad guy, and now he's being shot at to prevent him from talking to us?"
"I don't know. All I know is that I didn't believe that Skinner would do this, not to me. And not to William. You're right, he was shot to stop him giving us information, and now we have no way of finding out what that was," Scully sat down and worked the knots in her neck. Doggett sat next to her and leaned in close.
"If we don't find out what's going on here, how are we going to find William?" Scully looked up at him through misty eyes and blinked back tears.
"I don't know."
Mulder was pacing the apartment and Reyes was getting dizzy from watching him. He hadn't been able to sit still since they got back, it was understandable but he needed to get out of here and do something. How was he helping his son by standing around doing nothing?
"I know. There's nothing I can do right now, I just need to sit tight. I know the routine Agent Reyes. But right now I have to get my son back."
"And that's what we all want, but we can't do anything until we've spoken to Skinner."
"If Skinner doesn't wake up then we're gonna have to come up with an alternative way of figuring out what his name in that file means."
"I've been through it a dozen times already, most of the information is blacked out, I'm surprised Skinner's name wasn't omitted too."
"Maybe that was the plan. Maybe we were meant to accuse Skinner of betraying us and bring him into the open for the shooter to take out."
"But I'm the one with a price on my head, why not just shoot me?"
"What if the shooter wants you to get William back?"
"Then why shoot Skinner?"
"Maybe Skinner thinks William is better off where he is."
"So you think that Skinner has betrayed us?" Reyes stood up and ran her hand through her hair; she was tired, and sick of being given the run around by everybody who was supposed to be on their side. None of this could be determined by sides now. It was every man for himself.
"I don't know what to think. To be honest I'm feeling at a loss as to what we're supposed to do."
"Well that I understand," Mulder smiled appreciatively and finally sat down. He had been waiting as patiently as possible for a call from Scully with Skinner's condition, but so far they'd had no news. He had the location of his son in the palm of his hand and there was nothing he could do about it without risking them both being killed. Whoever was trying to prevent William from coming home was doing a damn good job of standing in the way. It was up to Mulder to take them down before they got to him.
Scully and Doggett looked up as doctors raced into the room that Skinner had been placed in after his surgery. They both moved to the door to try and see what was happening and watched helplessly as doctors did all they could in an attempt to save his life. Scully just prayed that her fears wouldn't be confirmed and that they wouldn't lose him before he'd given them the information he was shot for.
As the doctors came out and left nurses attending to a stable Skinner, Scully and Doggett went in to see Skinner lying awake staring at the ceiling. He turned to Scully and tried to speak, when she couldn't hear him she leaned closer and listened to what he said.
*Chapter 25*: Hold Me
When Scully opened the door to her apartment Reyes had never seen anybody move so fast as Mulder jumped up to greet her. He walked straight over and pulled her into a hug. He could see how exhausted she was, and he knew it wasn't just physical, she was tired of wanting William back, to be safe – he had to make sure that he got that for her.
"How is he?" Scully looked up at him as Doggett walked in behind her, Reyes hadn't realized she'd missed him so much until he was standing beside her. He smiled at her reassuringly, but she knew he wasn't offering as much.
"He's not doing so well. He came through the surgery. But then the doctors had to resort to methods that have left him unconscious but stable."
"Were you able to talk to him before he was unconscious?" Scully looked into Mulder's eyes and nodded her head. She stepped away and moved towards the kitchen, everybody else followed her.
Even Doggett didn't know what Skinner had said. They'd left the hospital immediately after he was unable to speak anymore and Scully hadn't said a word about what she'd heard. But he knew enough to know that whatever it was had unnerved Scully.
"Dana?" Reyes was the closest to her now, somehow it seemed as if a woman's approach might make this easier. Less pressure than from Mulder – a concerned father, and Doggett – a guy who didn't like waiting to help save those he cared about most.
"There's a folder. In Skinner's office. It sound so cliché, but he has a safe hidden behind a painting on the wall."
"A safe?" Doggett asked, "what the hell is he doing with a safe at work?"
"He said that in the safe were instructions on what William's adoptive parents are to do if any of us try to get him back," tears were already forming in her eyes and nobody actually wanted her to speak the words they all knew she'd painfully had to hear. "These instructions make it very clear that William must not live if we get even remotely close to bringing him home."
"But they need him, that's what this is all about. They won't kill him."
"We don't know that. They clearly think that we would rather him live and be with them than risk his life to be back with us."
"This is a load of BS, how do we know that Skinner isn't just lying? Why does he even have this information? How do we know it isn't just a trap? All one big conspiracy?" Doggett started to raise his voice and Scully looked at him. She knew that he understood the pain she was going through and then she looked at Mulder. He wasn't looking at her and she followed his eyes to the doorway of her bedroom. The last place he'd seen William. She could see in his eyes that he was remembering that day, replaying it. Probably thinking that he should never have left.
"So what do you want us to do?" Reyes directed the question at Scully, but Scully didn't take her eyes off Mulder.
When he turned to look at his partner, the woman who had instantly become his whole world, he had nothing to say that would take the fear out of her eyes. It made him sick to the stomach to know it was true. This time, they might not win. He stood up and went into William's old room. Reyes and Doggett looked at each other and then Scully followed Mulder into a room she avoided at all costs.
When she stepped inside she closed the door softly and Mulder turned to look at her.
"I know what you're going to say Scully."
"No you don't," he looked at her and she didn't move a muscle. If she moved any closer then she didn't trust herself to be able to say what she had to say. She could feel him even with five feet between them. She could always feel him.
"I'm going to get him back."
"You aren't coming with me."
"I know that too," tears ran down Scully's cheeks and Mulder closed the gap that was soon to be permanent. He held her close and didn't ever want to let her go. He had to hold on to this moment in case he never could again.
"If I don't make it back, you have to promise me that you won't let it finish you. We've been through so much Scully…"
"I can't lose you Mulder, and I honestly don't know if I want you to do this. But I know that it's something we have to do. Not for us. For William. He doesn't deserve this. All the lies, the years we've endured them. It has to end for him, we have to end it," Mulder kissed her and replaced his arms around her as she cried softly into his chest. Tonight he was leaving to bring William home. Whether he would be able to deliver his son himself was something that he didn't dare to think about.
*Chapter 26*: Lean On Me
"Any more news on A.D. Skinner?" Doggett asked. Reyes shook her head and put her head back on the couch. She and Doggett had been instructed to stay at her apartment, Scully was at the hospital and Mulder was on his way to get William. The Lone gunmen had gone with him, Mulder had been reluctant to let anyone go with him, but he wasn't going to let his pride at being able to go it alone stand in the way of his son's safe return.
"I can't stand just sitting here," Reyes sighed and Doggett shifted from the chair opposite her to sit beside her.
"I know. But what else can we do?" Reyes looked at him and her frustrated face softened as she took in Doggett's features and remembered how good things always felt when she was with him. Something about this man that she had been lucky enough to find back in her life, made the hardest of times bearable and the longest days seem like insignificant moments. When she was with him time stood still and there was nothing she wouldn't do for him.
Doggett smiled at Reyes and lifted his arm to place around her. He pulled her onto his chest and softly stroked her hair as the rhythm of his beating heart calmed Reyes' angst. He wanted to take her frustration away; he wanted to do everything humanly possible to make her the happiest woman in the world. He knew that now. He couldn't risk her not being a part of his life, and he was pretty sure she felt the same way.
"Monica?" she opened her eyes from their peaceful rest as Doggett's touch had brought with it a resting calm.
"About us, the way I've been. I'm sorry. I just, I didn't know that I could feel this way without screwing it up. Or losing you."
"No, it's okay. I just want you to know that I'm not gonna let you go. No matter what, I'll always be here."
"I know that John. I've known that for so long, I was just waiting for you to catch up," they both smiled as the certainty of their relationship was confirmed.
"When this is over, I mean, when William's home or … when he's back. Whad'ya say to taking a vacation?"
"What? You mean time from work?"
"I mean you and me, away from everything else. On a deserted beach where we can watch the sunset and drink cocktails," Reyes giggled a little.
"You drink cocktails John?" he laughed and Reyes sat up to look at him. "I think a vacation sounds wonderful."
"Yeah," Reyes leaned in and kissed Doggett softly and when she moved to pull back he put his hand behind her neck and kept her close enough for the kiss to continue. When the kiss finally ended they held each other close and made no effort to end their contact.
When the phone rang both of them jumped and Reyes quickly got up to answer it. Doggett watched her to try and read her face to determine what was happening. A few short moments later she put the phone down and couldn't bring herself to look at Doggett right away. She stared down at the floor and only when he called her name did she manage to turn and explain.
"Monica? What is it?" Doggett walked over to her and hugged her as tears slid down her cheeks.
"It's Skinner. He's dead."
"He's gone John," they sat back down and Reyes hurriedly set about wiping her tears away. "We have to do something, we can't just sit here."
"What if Mulder contact us?"
"We'll be a lot more help to Mulder if we go and back him up," she stood up and threw her jacket over her shoulders before grabbing her keys from the table by the door.
"Monica wait, you're upset, you're not thinking."
"John, we have to do this. You know that. So, are you coming?"
*Chapter 27*: My Son
When Mulder saw his son sitting with his adoptive parents in the lounge of their faux family home, his heart broke and his stomach was churning. He looked happy, he seemed to be perfectly calm and like any other healthy baby. Mulder dropped his head for a second to clear the content image away. He couldn't start thinking of this as a mistake. Those weren't the kind of people who should be raising anybody's child, and certainly not Mulder's.
As he moved to step away from the window before ruining everything before they'd even started, he felt a sudden urge to look back, a connection – his son. William was staring at Mulder, and then he smiled before resuming playing with his toys, almost as if he knew that he couldn't let his 'parents' know that something was going on. Mulder grinned to himself. That was his boy.
Back in the van where the Lone gunmen were waiting to make their getaway, Mulder got back inside and sat quietly for a minute just thinking. Everybody stared at him and still he didn't move. He was thinking about that knowing smile, somehow – William understood, and Mulder had a new leap of faith that maybe this would end how he hoped it could.
"Mulder? Did you see him?" Mulder nodded his head.
"Yeah. I did," he smiled at Frohike as Byers and Langley put the last touches to their costumes. They were the diversion. It may not have been a particularly complex plan, but the old routine of divert and escape was the safest way to get William without risking too much.
Mulder sighed and pulled himself together. His face changed from that of proud doting father to the FBI agent that had worked so hard over the last decade to protect those that he loved. This was the final chapter.
As Byers and Langley moved to exit the van Mulder held them both back.
"I know that you won't let me down, but I just needed to say – don't screw this up," Langley nodded and Byers smiled.
"We won't. Are you ready?"
"As I'll ever be," they opened the doors at the back of the van and all jumped when they saw Doggett and Reyes standing on the other side. They all piled back into the van and Mulder stared at their new occupants.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"We came to help. You're an ass if you think you can do this alone," Mulder looked at Reyes and almost had to work at holding back a smirk at her calling him an ass. He hated to admit it, but he was glad of the support. Even from Doggett.
"Fine. Agent Doggett you come with me, Agent Reyes, go with Langley and Byers, a females face at the door might go a long way to keeping their suspicions lowered a little longer," they all set about moving out to their various positions, nobody really stopping to think that this could be the last time they see each other.
Doggett gave Reyes a quick glance and she smiled at him. She was full of confidence and a sense of duty. It was one of the things he loved about her the most. And when all of this was over, he could spend the rest of his life assuring her that he'd never let her go.
Mulder led Doggett to a quiet spot he'd found at the back of the house, they were waiting to hear that the front door had been opened before making their move.
"I hate to point this out, but we're dealing with a super soldier here right?" Mulder nodded, "well, isn't there a pretty good chance that they know we're already here? That they've known about this all along?"
"They're powerful Agent Doggett, but I don't think they're psychic."
"How can you be so confident in our ability to remain here unseen? After all the things you've seen the government are capable of, what makes this different? What will stop them from just coming out here and killing us all?" Mulder looked at Doggett for a second and then looked away to retain focus on the door.
"Because they have my boy in there. And no matter what they want to do to us, they can't risk losing him. We can't risk that either," Doggett tried to understand the logic, but he couldn't help having a bad feeling about this. He'd had it the second he and Reyes had left her apartment. And now, as Mulder gave him the nod that implied their comrades had drawn William's adoptive father to the door and it was time to go inside, he still had a bad feeling about it.
*Chapter 28*: Take Him Home
Doggett took out his gun and covered Mulder as he opened the back door to the Van De Camp house. He could hear Reyes talking at the front door and prayed that whatever happened she would come away from this unharmed. He wasn't being selfish, he wanted William's safety too, but he felt responsible for her safety, he didn't try hard enough to talk her out of this, so he had to make sure he got her out of it.
Mulder made his way through the kitchen and was concerned because he knew that Doggett didn't have his mind on the task in hand. He couldn't blame him. He knew that if Scully were here he'd find it hard to not put her safety first too. Which was why he'd made sure she stayed away. He may finally be able to bring his family together for good.
Mulder looked at Doggett and motioned for him to watch his back as he took a look around the kitchen door. The room he looked in on was where William was still sitting, playing with his toys. His adoptive mother was sitting on a chair with her back to them, Doggett could see the front door and nodded at Mulder – the sign that meant William's adoptive father was occupied.
A split second was all it could take for this to go wrong. Nobody could afford to make any mistakes. They also couldn't waste time; they had to be in and out as soon as humanly possible. Mulder stepped forward and quicker than Doggett blinked, Mulder had placed a cloth over Mrs. Van De Camp's mouth and had a gun pressed into her back.
"Don't make me shoot you, but don't for a second think that I won't," he whispered, "don't make a sound, if you do, I will shoot you," Doggett stepped forward and when he reached William, William looked up at him and smiled as he was lifted from the ground by this familiar man.
"Mulder, as soon as you let her go, she's gonna let him know we're here, how are we gonna get out of here?" Mulder looked at Doggett and didn't say anything. It took a moment for Doggett to realize what he was saying. "No, I'm not just leaving without you."
"We don't have a choice. I promised Scully I'd get our son safely home, you have to make sure that happens."
"I'm not leaving without Mulder, I can't do that to her, or your son. He needs you."
"He needs to be with Scully. She needs to leave as soon as you get William back to her, you have to tell her to go, and I'll find her."
"She won't. You know she won't."
"If you care at all about her, or William, you'll make sure they get as far away from here as possible. Otherwise, if I don't make it back, it'll be for nothing," Doggett looked down at the small boy in his arms, then back at Mulder.
"I don't like your plan anymore."
"Yeah, well until you and Agent Reyes arrived I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull this off."
"And there's me thinking we were being rash and interfering."
"Maybe a little," Mulder smiled and looked at William. "Take my son home Agent Doggett," Doggett nodded his head and without turning back he left.
Mulder didn't move a muscle as he waited for his friends to clear the area. When he heard the front door close he braced himself for what would come next. As plans go, this one did have its flaws. He was stepping into one of those flaws right now, and he had no idea how to get out of it.
Mr. Van De Camp walked into the living room and was surprised to see his wife and son missing. He went through to the kitchen to see if they were in there, but still he found an empty room.
"Hello? Honey? Will? Where are you guys?" he carried on searching the house, moving from room to room. Mulder had made his way into a closet and was cursing himself for handling this so badly. He had tied up Mrs. Van De Camp, and when he thought the coast was clear he stepped out of the closet leaving her bound and gagged. Dealing with double-crossing members of the government was his forte; it was the super soldier that would provide problems.
He opened the door and immediately felt a hand drop onto his shoulder. Suddenly, an end was in sight and he prepared to face his fate.
*Chapter 29*: Comrade
Mulder slowly turned around and looked into the eyes of the man standing behind him.
"What? Did you really think I'd just leave you here?" Mulder managed a small smirk and for the first time since he'd met Doggett, he understood him. They were very similar men in that they only wanted the best for the people that they loved. He should've known that somehow this was a man he could've depended on for more than he had been.
"What can I say; I'm not all that familiar with camaraderie. Escaping impossible situations by myself, that I can handle."
"From what I read about you when I first started on the X-Files you could've used a comrade over the last decade."
"I had one, my only hope now is to get back to her," both men observed each other and knew that there were people they had to see again, to be with and to protect.
"So what's your plan Mr. Mulder?"
"I say we get the hell out of here."
"Monica took William with the Lone Gunmen; my car's parked about half a mile from here."
"Getting to the car is the easy bit, getting out of this house unnoticed is where we're going to find problems."
"Oh you're not wrong there Mulder," both Doggett and Mulder turned to the voice behind them and they both knew that the odds were against them.
As Reyes stood waiting for someone to answer the door at Scully's mom's house she had never felt her heart race so fast. Her escape with William and the Lone Gunmen had gone without interruption but she was livid that Doggett had made her do what he had. How could he have just expected her to be okay with leaving him behind like that? It was absurd! But of course she'd had no choice because of the small child she held in her arms.
William was every bit as wonderful as she remembered him being, and she knew that ultimately she was doing the right thing, and that Mulder stood a better chance of making it home with a friend by his side. But that didn't make it any easier for her to wait for either of them to return.
As she stood with the Lone Gunmen watching her back, making sure that they hadn't been followed or traced in any way, the front door opened and Scully was looking out at them. Reyes kissed William's cheek and passed him over to his mother as everyone stepped inside the house.
Scully cradled her son in her arms and cried as she was able to release all of the regret she'd harbored since the day she let him go. And as if William knew and understood everything she was feeling, he rested his head on her shoulder and knew that he was home. That this was his mom and that everything she had done and would do in the future was because of how much she loved him.
Scully didn't think this day would ever truly arrive. She never believed for a second that somehow, her son would be in her arms, that his safety and wellbeing would be in her hands and that her family would be back together. As her own mom appeared and put her arm around her daughter, they made their way through to the living room until Scully stopped and turned round to Reyes.
"Where's Mulder? And Agent Doggett?" Reyes hesitated before saying anything. There was no easy way of explaining that they had both been left behind, and as she stood in the silence, Scully knew why she wasn't saying anything and quickly turned with her son and went into the living room.
No matter what happened she had William. And no matter what it took she would protect him. She owed it to Mulder. If he didn't make it back, she had to make sure that the efforts he went to bring their son home weren't in vain. But as she sat now with silent tears flowing down her cheeks, she just wanted him beside her. To hold her and to tell her that he would always be by her side. At the moment, there was a good chance he'd never be by her side again.
*Chapter 30*: Taken
Van De Kamp had released his wife from where Mulder had left her tied and gagged; the two of them were now watching Mulder and Doggett from across the room. Nobody was speaking and the atmosphere was toxic. Mulder was struggling to think of ways to get out that didn't involve just running and praying. Doggett was clearly uncomfortable with the prospect of losing his life, but both men knew that they had made all the right calls so far, so maybe fate was on their side for this fight.
"Why are they just staring at us?" Doggett didn't like not knowing what was going on, it made him nervous, and under the circumstances, nerves were not to be thought of as allies.
"I don't know. But we can't just stand here and wait to see what they're going to do."
"So what exactly do you propose?"
"Well Agent Doggett, the best I've got is to run as fast as humanly possible and keep your fingers crossed."
"That's your plan?"
"You got anything better in mind?" he looked at Doggett and they both knew that it was a long shot, but also probably their only one. When they turned and looked back at the Van De Kamps, the wife was standing alone and her husband was nowhere to be seen.
"That's bad right?"
"Yeah, I'd say that's definitely bad," Mrs. Van De Kamp approached the two men and they warily stood their ground, not stepping back to show fear or forward to show hostility. Mulder was good at standing his ground and he suspected that Doggett was quite strong willed too. After all, the man was still standing by his side.
"Did you really think that you'd be able to get in and out of here unnoticed?" neither man spoke. "Your silence won't help you. Actually nothing will, we knew you were here as soon as your vehicles were within a miles range. We've been expecting this; we've been waiting for it."
"Waiting for what?" Mulder didn't like riddles, when he was in trouble he liked to know why and what to expect.
"Ah, so you will speak to me?"
"Well sure if you're not going to speak in plain English. What exactly have you been waiting for?"
"You Mr. Mulder," Mulder glanced briefly at an alarmed Doggett. The picture was slowly becoming clearer. "Do you really think that if it was William we wanted we'd have made it so easy for you to get in here and take him away? We knew that when your lover gave him up and it was exposed who we were it would draw you out of hiding to help protect your son and the woman you love. We never wanted William; it was just convenient to take him in order to get to the real prize."
"That's right. You were never mean to live, but as you did you've sparked an interest in 'them' and They want you back."
"They? They who?" Doggett still liked to resort to 'little green men' as his last option, but he knew that what this woman was implying was that Mulder was about to be abducted again.
"The doctors on Earth don't have the technology or the mind to understand what it is you and Agent Scully managed to create. And if it weren't for you then we'd never have got the chance to figure it out. There are tests to be conducted and decisions to be made."
"Yes Agent Doggett, decisions. As to whether we can really stop this here and now with the removal of Mulder or if it is William we need."
"So you let him go not knowing whether it was him you want?"
"It's a risk we're prepared to take to get to you Mulder. We got William once, we can do it again. It doesn't matter where they think they can hide him, we'll know where he is. We'll always know," Mulder felt his blood begin to boil as his fists clenched by his side.
He'd been taken once and he'd had no choice, he refused to believe that he had no choice now. His place was with his family and there was no way that he was going to just wait for the inevitable and not fight to get back to his rightful place. As he searched for an answer, a way to escape, Mr. Van De Kamp reappeared and smiled at the two men as he closed his cell phone.
"I made the call, they're on their way."
"Wow, I guess they really are advanced little aliens if you're reaching them through a cell phone," Mulder's humor wasn't appreciated and before anybody could say anything a bright white light filled the room, forcing everyone in it to fight for their vision.
When the light had gone the Van De Kamps smiled to each other as they examined the empty room before them. Both men were gone.
*Chapter 31*: Lost & Found
As Scully sat with her son in her arms, sleeping soundly, she couldn't separate the different emotions she felt. She couldn't be entirely happy but her focus couldn't be centered on where Mulder was either. Her son was safe. As William lay with his arm across her chest, she knew that she'd spend her whole life making things right after she'd given him up. It didn't matter how many times people tried to make her feel as if she'd done the right thing, she should never have let him go.
Reyes was anxious about Doggett, and unfortunately she didn't have the pleasure of a sleeping William to distract her from her worry. The satisfaction she had felt when handing William over was short-lived and as thrilled as she was to have helped bring Scully's family back together, she was terrified that she'd never see the man she wanted to be her family.
"I'm going back," Reyes put on her coat and Scully stared up at her.
"To the house, they should've been here by now – something's gone wrong."
"If it has you shouldn't walk into that Monica, it's not safe."
"Well I can't just stay here doing nothing! It's making me crazy," Scully stood up and slowly handed William over to Monica, "Dana – I have to go back, you'd do the same thing…"
"They'll be here, I know they will."
"How do you know?"
"I just do, sit with him Monica," as she started to protest, Reyes looked down at William, he was awake and he was beaming up at her.
Now Reyes understood why Scully had managed to sit and wait patiently. Holding this child in her arms, she could feel the reassurance and safety that Scully had. Whether it was real or not, William made Reyes feel as if she was crazy to suspect anything had gone wrong, and that both men would turn up. Soon.
Doggett opened his eyes and looked around him. He didn't recognize where he was and when he tried to move he couldn't. The room was dark and he couldn't be sure but he felt as if there was someone else in the room with him. Great. He was 'sensing' things – he couldn't wait to tell Reyes, she'd tease him a lot. He felt a pang in his chest and he realized it was because he desperately wanted to see her. He tried to move again and then felt the restraints on his arms and legs. As his eyes adjusted to the dark a cold chill ran across his body and his exposed chest shivered.
Where the hell was he? The last thing he remembered was being with Mulder in the Van De Kamp house. Then there was a big flash of light. How long had he been out for? Where was Mulder? He didn't want to call out; his best guess was that they were still in the house and that they weren't alone. His frustration grew as he found no answers in his mind for the questions racing around. He turned his head slightly and saw someone lying on a table beside him. He couldn't be sure but an educated guess told him that this was Mulder.
He whispered his name but received no reply. He had no idea what to do and the feeling of helplessness grew inside him. As he persisted in trying to move around the table he was lying on, a door opened and momentarily lit up the room. He used the time to check if it was Mulder beside him. It wasn't. And whoever it was, they didn't look alive.
Once the door had closed and it was dark again a tall figure approached Doggett and shone a light into his eyes.
"Who are you? Where am I?" there was no response from his host, "what the hell is this? Where's Mulder?" still nothing. His anger grew and as he made continued efforts to break free he felt his restraints fall loose and he froze, waiting for someone to notice.
Nobody came and the tall figure turned and left the room. When he'd gone Doggett sat up and then he stood. He walked towards the person lying beside him and as he reached out to feel for a pulse a bright blinding light filled the room and then everything went blank.
Reyes ran through the hospital corridors and didn't stop until she reached the nurses station.
"Can someone help me, I'm here to see John Doggett, where is he?" a doctor came over and put his hand on Reyes' shoulder. "Are you his doctor? Can I see him?" the doctor tried to explain to Reyes what had happened, the tests that had been conducted and the condition that Doggett was in, but she didn't care, she didn't listen to any of it – she just had to see him.
When she walked into his room she approached his bed with caution, she couldn't believe that it was really him. As she sat beside him she slid her hand into his and his eyes slowly opened.
"Monica… hey," Reyes smiled and wiped a stray tear from her cheek. "Why are you crying? I'm okay… it's all okay…"
"John. Where have you been?"
"What are you talking about? Where's Mulder?" Reyes frowned and realized that Doggett had no idea what she was talking about. He had no idea about anything.
"You've been missing for a month John. Nobody's heard from you or Mulder since that night at the Van De Kamps. I didn't think I'd ever see you again…" Doggett stared at Reyes and tried to take in what she'd said. What the hell was going on?
*Chapter 32*: Staying
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Monica, I'm fine – stop fussing," Doggett smiled at Reyes and she took a relaxing deep breath.
"I just wanted to make sure you'll be okay while I'm gone."
"I'll probably spend most of the day watching the news, it's weird that I have a months worth of news to catch up on."
"I know. Are you sure you don't want me to stay with you?"
"Why? Did something terrible happen?"
"No, I just thought… you're handling this all so well."
"You're waiting for me to lose it and freak out?"
"Monica, I'm fine," he stood up from the sofa where Reyes had lovingly placed blankets and pillows, and anything else that she thought would make him more comfortable and less likely to need to get up for anything.
Doggett took her into his arms and he hugged her tightly. He would never admit it to her but of course he was terrified about where he'd been and what had happened to him. All he wanted her to know what how much he loved her and how good it felt to have her in his arms again.
"Go to work Monica, and bring something good back for dinner," he grinned and then he kissed her softly.
"Call me if you need anything or if you don't feel so good…"
"Okay, now go," he kissed her again and with a big smile on her face Reyes finally managed to turn her back and leave Doggett's house. When he closed the door behind her Doggett took a deep steadying breath and went to get changed. He was going out, he had to go back to the house, and he had to figure out what happened to him.
Scully got home from work and was welcomed with big smiles from William and her mom. She picked up her son and hugged him close as her mom went to the kitchen and came back with Scully's mail.
"Mostly bills I think," Scully playfully bonded with her son while her mom stood in front of her and waited to be noticed. They went through this routine everyday, and everyday Scully refused to talk to her.
"Thanks mom, can I get you anything to eat before you go?"
"No thanks, I have some people coming over for dinner tonight, so I have to go and get ready."
"Okay, well I'll see you tomorrow," Scully carried William into bathroom and began to run a bath. William clapped enthusiastically, he liked bath time.
"Oh mom, I'm tired of this, please – when will you stop?"
"When you realize what it is you have to do."
"I'm not running away. If he comes back, I have to be where he can find me."
"Do you have any idea how much danger you're keeping your son in by staying?"
"He's fine. We're fine."
"But this isn't what was supposed to happen."
"I'm aware of that mom, do you honestly think that everything that's happened to me over the last decade I haven't turned around and told myself that it wasn't supposed to happen this way? Nothing will ever happen the way it was supposed to mom, nothing. Not for me, and not for Mulder. If I run, I'm going to subject William to a life away from his family and away from people who love him. I'm not dragging him around the country or across the world to hide from people who have spent their lives being too cowardly to confront me face to face."
"Cowardly? Dana – these people are not cowards, they made you think you couldn't take care of your son, they took away the man you love and have caused you more pain and suffering than most people go through in a lifetime. You're being too careless."
"It's my decision, and I'm not going anywhere. John came back mom. He came back and he was fine. When Mulder's back, we have to be here. Where he can find us and where we can be contacted when he's taken to the hospital."
"And what if he doesn't turn up? What if he never comes back? And then they come and take William away, or you?"
"I'll deal with it. I always do," Scully began undressed her son and he observed the situation carefully. He knew that his grandmother cared for him and his mommy a great deal, but he couldn't let her talk his mommy into running away. Because his daddy would be home. They just had to be patient.
*Chapter 33*: Keep Going
Doggett was surprised at how easily he remembered the way. After all – a whole month had passed. It was so fresh in his memory that he was certain he had only been here the night before. Of course he was wrong, but his gut told him that although there must have been searches made here already once he and Mulder had disappeared, there was something that he had to find.
He parked the car and slowly got out but before he'd even closed the door behind him he lost his balance and a painful vision swarmed his mind. He was back in that dark room with the mystery man beside him, the man was alive and trying to tell Doggett something but he couldn't work out what it was. When the vision had gone Doggett found himself sitting crumpled on the floor by his car.
When he made it to his feet he went on with caution. He hadn't thought about the fact that he may start remembering things. He knew that he should've considered the possibility but in all honesty he wasn't sure that he wanted to remember where he'd been. The only reason he was even here was because he thought maybe there'd be something to point him in the direction of Mulder.
Scully wasn't returning his calls and didn't want to see him. That hurt. So he thought maybe if he could help then she'd talk to him, help him see what had happened to him and maybe to understand it.
He stepped inside the house and immediately he was back on that night. Standing there with Mulder, being told that it was him they wanted and not William. That this was all a part of their plan. Well he was sick and tired of this plan, he wanted to get on with his life and he wanted to help those that he cared about do the same thing.
Doggett explored every room of the house. The whole place was empty; it had been long cleared, either by the FBI or by whoever it was behind his own and Mulder's disappearance. Hell, for all he knew they were one and the same.
When his cell phone rang he jumped and his heart was racing. He answered the call and didn't listen at first to what was being said on the other end.
"John? Are you listening to me?"
"What? Monica, yeah – I'm fine."
"Where are you? Why aren't you answering your phone at home?"
"I uh, I went out."
"You went out?"
"For what? Bread? Milk?" she was being sarcastic and Doggett paused and thought very carefully about his reply.
"I'm at the Van De Kamps," there was a long silence and Doggett would've been sure she'd hung up on him if it weren't the fact the connection was still active on the phone. "Monica?"
"You shouldn't have gone there. There's nothing for you to see and nothing to be found. Go home."
"I mean it John, leave. Now."
"Okay," the line went dead and now he knew she'd hung up on him.
Doggett didn't want to upset Reyes, he knew that she was worried about him, but he didn't feel as if he'd lost any time, it was she and Scully who had been left wondering all this time. He knew how hard it must have been for both of them, but he didn't want to just walk away from this. If he was back that meant Mulder could come back too.
When Doggett got home he was more than surprised to find Scully sitting on his porch. He approached her slowly and she stood as he drew near.
"It's okay Agent Doggett, I won't bite. Agent Reyes called me. She wanted me to make sure you got home safely."
"For cryin' out loud…"
"She was just trying to protect you John," Doggett opened his front door and the two of them stepped inside. "You won't find anyone or anything out there. He's not there."
"So what? I'm supposed to just move on? Get on with my life?"
"What choice do we have?"
"I wake up in a hospital and I'm told I've been missing for a month, I have no idea where I've been or what happened to me, and I'm supposed to just move on? I have to find him Dana."
"Because he isn't anywhere that we can find him. Don't you think if he was I'd have tried? That I wouldn't have dedicated every waking moment to bringing him home?"
"So how are you doing it? How do you get up every morning and get on with your life?"
"You just do. It's not a process you think about. You get up, you get dressed, you go to work, you keep going. And I have William to think about."
"How's he doin'?" Scully smiled and for the first time since coming home Doggett felt his tension and frustration lift slightly.
"He's fine. He's safe and he's happy. And I have you to thank for that."
"So that's it? You're just going to forget about Mulder? Live your life without ever knowing if he's alive or dead?"
"He wouldn't want me to John, and you know that. I know how you feel believe me. I've been the adducted with no recollection about what happened, and I've been left behind when someone I cared about has disappeared. Again. I refuse to believe that he's dead John. I can't explain it to you, but I know he's okay and that he'll come home."
"I just, I want to understand it all," she smiled at him again and took his hand in her own.
"You will. It may not be today, or tomorrow, but you'll understand it all eventually. It took me a long time, but I promise you'll get there."
"And in the meantime?"
"We keep going. We keep getting up and going to work, and we keep coming home," she let go of his hand and then she turned and left.
*Chapter 34*: Coming Home
That night Scully got a phone call from Reyes to thank her for whatever she said to Doggett. Apparently he was more like his old self and assured her that he wasn't going to go chasing after Mulder, or whoever it was that took him. Scully didn't disclose the content of her conversation with Doggett as she was sure he'd have shared the details he wanted with her already. She accepted Reyes' thanks and the phone call was ended.
Afterwards Scully went to check on William and watched him sleeping soundly. She knew that the way she presented herself to the outside world she seemed like a strong and capable woman. She was. But underneath that was the single mother who was certain her son was preventing her from grieving for the man she loved because he wasn't actually dead.
Every time William sensed that his mother was upset or missing his father, he made her feel better, he knew that his daddy would come home and so he just had to make sure that she kept waiting. He was just a small boy, but no matter how long it took, he would make sure that he got Mulder home, that he had a father and that his mother was finally happy and safe.
As she looked down at him now Scully knew that there were things about her son that she'd never understand and other things that she'd never even find out about. But right now, he was with her, she'd got him back and although she knew that 'They' thought they'd won, she couldn't help thinking that there was a grander plan that would bring Mulder safely back to her. It had happened before and so it could happen again.
The speech she had given to Doggett was true. She got up every morning and she lived her life because it's what Mulder would have wanted. And he was gone now because they had fought to bring their son home. This was what he told her could happen and she had been certain that he'd come home to her, but as each day brought another week by and more time passed, she knew that his warning hadn't been without merit, and now he'd proven that.
When she closed her eyes at night she could speak with him in her dreams. She didn't know if it was real or not, she didn't care if it was real. In her dreams Mulder held her close and made her feel safe, it was his reassuring presence and the way her son made her feel that allowed Scully to get from one day to the next. In the month since William had been home with her, her life had changed significantly, but not once did she feel as if Mulder would never return.
She wasn't going to run away and hide from those that wished to bring her down. She was staying where the people were who cared about her and her son, the people who would look out for her and who she could help and depend on. As certain as she had ever been about anything in her life, Scully was certain that Mulder would return, and that as each day passed, it brought him one day closer.
Whether it was tomorrow or next week or years away – Mulder was coming home.