Title: The Defender
Author: Elizabeth L. Iacono
Rating: PG-13
Category: Story, big Angst, Romance
Keywords: Mulder/Scully Romance, Kidfic
Spoilers: None really, but it helps to know what happened in the first seven seasons of the show
Disclaimer: They're not mine, we all know that. If only they were though...
Feedback: is always treasured. Send it to RhiaRamsay@aol.com
Archive: I'll send to Gossamer and Ephemeral. IWTB, KTF, Spookys can have it. Anyone else please ask first.

Summary: 'Men will fight bravely and be heroes, but for a last ditch defense against any odds, get a mother.'
The Defender, High Wizardry

I look over at my son and think no seven-year-old has the right to look this way. William is hunched over with his knees pulled up tight to his chest. His red hair is dingy and lank, and his head rests on his knees. His face is too pale, and thinner after a week of malnourishment.

I move closer to him on the ancient mattress and wrap my arm around his bony shoulders. "You okay, sweetie?" I ask.

Will raises his head and opens his eyes, the same color as his dad's hazel ones. "I wanna go home, Mom," he mumbles, leaning his head against me. "I miss Daddy, and Grandma, and I'm cold, and I'm hungry, and I wanna go home!" A few tears slip down his face and I hug him close.

"I miss Daddy too," I sigh. Oh, Mulder... I look around the 8x15 cinderblock walled room yet again. I've done this innumerable times in the week we've been held here. It's cold and dirty, we're probably underground somewhere. We've only got one blanket between the two of us. There's only one lamp also, a cheap desk lamp that likes to flicker often. If we're lucky, we'll get small meals twice a day. Sometimes it's only one.

There's a noise coming from behind the metal door. Footsteps from the same person who has been holding us here this week. Will whimpers and pushes himself further into my side. The door opens, and the woman responsible for this nightmare steps through.

Ashley Gunnison, 29, long blond hair, blue eyes, and desirous of my life. I tried many, many times to tell her my life is not perfect, that we are not the average family we appear to be on the outside. God, if she only knew what it took to get to this point. The X-Files, Mulder's abduction, all the work in making sure Will was safe. My life is not, nor has it ever been sunshine and daisies. But I've got Mulder and Will, that's all I need.

And I'm not giving it up without a fight.

Ashley, dressed impeccably in a suit that resembles one of mine, is now holding a gun in her hands. An icy smile is on her face. Every other time she visited us there was no weapon. But today...I stand up and walk over to her, stopping only a few feet away. It wouldn't take much for her to raise that gun and put a bullet through my head, but I'll do anything to keep Will safe. "What do you want?"

Still smiling, Ashley tilts her head to the side. "You've been here for a week now, Ms. Scully," she says softly. "I'd say you have a fairly good idea of what I want." I bite my lip, keeping back any sharp retort. The calmer she is the better chance William and I have to keep breathing.

"I just have one question for you before..." she continues, waggling the gun at her side and leaving no interpretation as to what she intends to do to me. "Do you have any idea how lucky you are with what you have? A husband who loves you, a wonderful son," she looks lovingly at William, sending a spike of fear down my back, "a job where you can actually use your brain, and you take it all for granted!" She's starting to shake with the force of her anger.

I shake my head slowly. Any quick movements and she could snap. "No, Ashley. I know I am lucky and blessed, so incredibly blessed to have just William in my life, let alone everything else." I breathe deeply, smelling the damp air as I think of how to continue.

She speaks again, the gun raising closer to my head. I don't think she believes me. "You don't get it! You don't know how painful it is to be told that you'll never have those things." But I do know, I think, as she continues her rant. "'I'm sorry, but your SAT scores aren't good enough to get into the college of your choice.' 'I'm sorry, but I can't marry you.' 'I'm sorry, but your daddy beat you so bad that you can't have children any more.' Well I'm fucking sorry too!"

Part of me wants to take a step back, but the other part stands its ground. That part stands strong when the gun is aimed at my forehead. "Now, as soon as you're gone I'll take William far, far away."

My breath catches in my throat. The gun is maybe a foot away from me. Without warning something flies past my face, knocking the gun away. I scramble after it, hoping to gain some advantage over Ashley. It is only after I have the gun that I see how it got there. William is crouched where he sat before, but now he has some rocks from the dirt floor gathered around his feet. One of those rocks found its mark, knocking the gun away and causing Ashley to rub her hand in pain. I resist the urge to smile. All those games of baseball with Mulder have served more than one valuable purpose for Will.

I train the gun on Ashley. "Let us out of here," I demand.

She pulls a lethal looking knife out from behind her back. It gleams long, thick, and darkly silver in the poor lighting. With another wicked grin she points it at Will. "And what makes you think I'll do that?"

I can see the desperation in her eyes, that she's thinking that even if she can't make it out of here alive she can still make my life a living hell. Keeping the gun steady, I call out to Will. "Sweetie?"

His soft voice says, "Yeah, Mom?"

"I want you to close your eyes," I say, still glaring shards of broken glass at Ashley. "Are you doing that?"

"Yes," he says.

"Good," I continue. "Now, remember that song I sing to you? The one that always makes Daddy laugh and say I can't sing? Start singing that?" I wait until I hear the words 'Jeremiah was a bullfrog,' in his voice.

Ashley keeps moving closer to Will, and I gulp some air down. The knife is within slashing distance of him. One more step and a flash of her arm and it's all over for him. Will she kill him or not? Even if I shoot though, the knife could still hit him. But I can't take that chance. I can't give up without fighting my damnedest. I have to protect Will. "Now cover your ears, Will!" I yell out. "Keep singing and cover your ears!"

"But I helped him drink his wine"

Ashley raises her arm. The knife is aimed at his bent back, right above his heart. His eyes are screwed shut, his hands clasped tightly over his ears, and he's still singing.

"Joy to the world, all the boys and girls"

I am the gun at Ashley, my finger tensing in preparation to pull the trigger.

"Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea"

The knife begins to move downward. The gun fires.

"Joy to you and me."

It's over in a matter of seconds. Ashley falls to the ground, and I see Will flinch at the sound of her body hitting the dirt. The knife is still clutched in her hand; it hadn't touched Will. I tuck the gun into my waistband and hurry over to him.

A quick glance at Ashley tells me, between the amount of blood and her labored breathing that I had hit my mark. She wouldn't be going anywhere soon. The doctor part of me wants to help her, but the mother in me wins out and rushes over to my son. I wrap my arms around him and pull him close, letting him bury his face in my neck to hide him from the sight of his first seriously wounded body. "It's okay, sweetie," I whisper. He starts to cry and I hug him tighter. "We're okay."

I lift him up and carry him to the other side of the room, away from the bleeding body. Even after the poor meals of the last week he's still a bit heavy for me to carry. He's getting tall, just like his dad. I sit down and pull Will into my lap, being sure to keep him facing away from Ashley. I can see she is still breathing, so I take the gun from my waistband and keep it in my free hand, just in case.

My eyes look up the stairwell at the light coming in the open door at the top, and I wonder how we're going to get out of here. I had no idea where we were. She'd drugged me and Will in order to take us here. For all I knew we could be halfway across the country.

There is a loud scuffling upstairs. It sounds like it could be outside but I'm not sure. I hold my breath, clutch Will tighter, and wait. One...two...three...

There is the sound of a door splintering with the force of being kicked in, a sound you learn well as an FBI agent, and a loud voice exclaiming, "Federal Agents!" I let out my breath in relief and wait, knowing they'll be coming down to find us soon. Sure enough, within a minute, someone yells out "Down here!" and people being to thunder down the stairs.

The first two to come out of the doorway are a few agents who are vaguely familiar, although I couldn't tell you what their names are if you asked me right now. The next one through the door is Mulder, looking just as I'd imagined him over the past week: his face deeply lined with exhaustion, gaunt from lack of meals and too much coffee, his suit looking just as worn as the outfit I'd been kidnapped and kept in, and tense enough that he could snap any second.

His eyes hit Ashley's body first, and then he looks around, finally seeing us. Faster than I've ever seen him move he is crouched down in front of us, his arms wrapped around me and crushing Will in between us. "Oh, God, Scully, Will." A couple of tears slip out of his eyes, and I know I'm close to bawling myself.

Ashley believed I took for granted everything I had, but she didn't know as much as she claimed to. Maybe it sometimes seems like I do, but I know with my whole being that I can't live without either Will or Mulder.

I rest my forehead against his. "Take us home, Mulder," I whisper. "Take us home."

The End

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