Title: Fate's Will
Author: ElleThom
Disclaimer: I'm Delusional, CC is me!!!!
Distribution: You want it, you got it, just want to be able to visit.
Spoilers: Listen if you have gotten this far and you haven't seen the whole thing, then go watch it and get back to me.

Summary: May 20, 2006

Author's Notes: This is written for a challenge at TNF, elements are posted at the bottom to not give anything away.

Oh yeah and before I forget, this is for Aurora, us evil geniuses have to stick together!

On With The Show.....

I wasn't expecting much that year, Mom had said that the farm wasn't going so good, and even in my not quite five year old mind I understood what that had meant. We lived off of the land, it gave us everything that we needed, and in return there was a respect for what it could not give sometimes. My Dad had always said that the land offers you what you need, what you may desire is a matter for man. "Mom!" I screamed from lungs already sore from yelling at sheep that had no intention of listening. There are those out there who may feel that my list of chores was tremendous, outdated, and possibly abusive. But looking back as I tell this story through the eyes of a man, I can say that my parents work ethics and idea of duty are what shaped me int o the man that I am today. "In here Will," she called from the far off land of The Kitchen.

It was her realm, just as my father belonged out in the barn and the fields with the animals, she was the master of all things domestic. It was a delicate balance that the tow of them had long since expected of each other, as it has been ingrained into this small farming community. Same as it ever was. Oh sure, we were all aware of how things were nowadays, that women and men held equal jobs and were placed in equal footings. Women were no longer expected to make the home their world, and men were no longer obligated to protect them. Except the rules of that world were not ours. Their morays and codes were more alien to us than the fiends on Star Trek.

I found my way into The Kitchen. "I'm done."

It was all I needed to say, it had been that way since I was three years old and had received my first real chore. It was my responsibility to go out and drop seed around the chicken coup for the small battalion of chickens that we kept. I had been thrilled as Dad took me out to the barn and taught me this simple thing, explaining to me that now it was my job to feed them, how their lives were in my hands and if they didn't eat it their hunger was my responsibility. I toddled behind him, wishing my little legs were longer, how even though I was tall for my age, I had wanted to stand as tall as he did.

And now, five years old, standing in my mother's kitchen, watching as she frosted my birthday cake and waiting for her approval. "Good," she offered with the gift of the frosting knife. She sat across from me at the table as I licked it with all the gusto of a starved man. It seems there was always some small reward for the completion of my chores, a big red apple or freshly made chocolate chip cookies. My mom knew well the value of positive reinforcement.

"Will," she started, she sat snapping crisp green beans from a large wooden bowl.

"Yes Ma'am?" spoken between hearty licks. Politeness was a big thing in the house I grew up in, and I seemed more amenable to them on special occasions. Not out of fear of loss of any presents that I would receive, nor out of respect, though that they had from me in spades. No my surge of politeness was out of sheer gratitude. Even at five I knew my life could have been so much worse.

"You have a special surprise coming for your birthday, it'll be here in about an hour. Run upstairs and get cleaned up." She eyed me with something not quite sadness, yet closer to genuine curiosity, almost as if she was not sure what to expect herself in an hour's time.

If my life were a cartoon, the frosting knife would have been left still spinning in the air long after I had ascended the stairs.

In my room as I rummaged through my meager repertoire of clothing, I tried to imagine what my birthday surprise could be. Playstations and Dirt bikes did not require clean cloches to be appreciated, and I began to realize that whatever was waiting for me would be something beyond my imagination.

By the time I made it to the living room, mom and dad were seated on the sofa, she held her arms out to me to come to them as they scooted over to make room for me.

"Oops Will, I think your head is on fire." He grinned as he tousled my freshly combed hair. It was a long-standing joke between my dad and I, he would rub my head and offer to call the fire department. I was the only red head in the family, and I took a lot of hits for it. I had no love for the hair that God had cursed me with, even in school it was much worse. Teachers fawned over how thick it was, and other kids would just point and laugh. More often than not, my mother would throw her hands up in surrender at the unruliness of it.

"Looks like your surprise made it here Will." Mom rose and crossed to the front door, with dad close in tow. I darted forward trying to see what shape the box was going to be.

Turns out it was in the shape of a car, and one of those expensive foreign deals that my dad hated. Usually when a commercial for one of them would come on, he would find the nearest pillow to toss at the tube and intone about how imports were killing the American economy.

I watched as the car came to a halt at the end of our gravel driveway, a tall man exited the driver side and came around to help the passenger as she emerged. The first thing I noticed was her hair, as red as mine was but much more neatly styled. They walked towards the front door arm and arm, he waved to us as they approached.

When the small red head's eyes met mine, she smiled. Terrified of the strangers, I ducked behind my mother's skirts, she faltered at my actions, just a bit, but enough for the tall man at her side to grasp her a little closer, a little tighter.

"This is for you Will," my father said to me with his hand on top of my head. "Happy Birthday."

Introductions were made once the couple entered the house and were ushered into the living room, but I chose to maintain a silence, having not spoken a word as my parents greeted these strangers. "This is Mr. and Mrs. Mulder Will," she smiled down to me, "They came a long way to see you. Say Hi."

Still choosing not to speak, somehow I managed to mumble something akin to hello as the adults in the room made some sort of small talk. There was an air of something in the room, a barely perceptible discomfort that I was not sure of. My mind tried to grasp exactly who they were, and why they had chosen to appear here on MY day.

After twenty minutes of small talk about the weather and travel my Mom decided we should adjourn to the dining room for dinner. I watched the couple together, so close to one another, they seemed to share some kind of unspoken conversation between just them. They made me a bit nervous the two of them; they seemed to eye me as if I were the last cupcake left on the counter.

We muddled through dinner the same way as the initial conversation. My parents were uncomfortable, but they smiled just the same, and the strange couple with the odd last name seemed to want something from me, they offered me looks and glances, as if ashamed to have to look at me through the eyes of strangers.

Mr. and Mrs. Mulder seemed guilty, and somehow sad. I had begun to hate them for coming here, for ruining my birthday. A person only gets one birthday a year, and he only turns five once in his life. Why did these strange people have to come and make the whole day awful? I didn't know them, I had never met them before, but the woman with the beautiful hair, there was something there, something I recalled from a time that seemed so long ago it was another life. I caught a whiff of her fragrance as she passed me on our way to the table, it was a scent that I knew. There were times on the farm that I would catch a smell of a flower that had a similar scent, and I would spend the next few minutes just searching for something, or trying to recall a memory that was no longer mine to grasp.

"Who are you?" I finally asked, somewhere between the roast beef and the mashed potatoes. I'd had enough of the anonymity, having wracked my five-year-old brain around the mystery as far as it would stretch, I felt compelled to demand answers.

Mr. and Mrs. Mulder exchanged an oddly sad and tragic smile between the two of them, I watched as her head dropped lower, but it was he who finally spoke. "I always knew you would have red hair." He smiled sadly at me.

We sat on the swing set in the back of the yard. The three of us each licking chocolate ice cream cones. Mom had insisted that we go out and have some sort of private chat while she and Dad got the dinner dishes cleared up and she put the finishing touches on the cake.

I watched them as we sat in those swings, Mulder's long spindly legs splayed out in front of him, and Dana, sat primly trying to eat her ice cream without it dribbling onto her expensive suit. They did not fit in here, they were so much more than strangers, they were like aliens on that Star Trek show that I liked to watch when my parents didn't know. Dana looked like something off of the television herself, a woman who didn't spend most of her time in the kitchen, and Mulder, he looked so different than what I had been raised what a man should be.

And yet I found myself staring, trying to find some single commonality between them and me. Dana and I had the same red hair, though hers was much more tamed than mine, her smile, I think I recognized t too, but whether it had been seen on my own face, or that distant memory was hard for me to say. Mulder was easy, we shared long legs and our face, I could see my eyes in his, and I knew he saw it too, for every time he looked into them there was a shudder so small and sudden I doubted he even knew he was doing it.

I had always known I was adopted, my parents never hid it from me, they would simply explain that it furthered proof of how special I really was. I basked in the attention these two gave me, and yet it left me feeling somehow unsettled, somehow, lost

See, adopted children have this odd balance of phobias; on one hand, we tend to fear the day when the family that took us in will tire of us and send us away. I had developed the fear soon after my friend Tommy's mother got rid of a batch of unwanted kittens from under her front porch. In my logic, kittens were cute, and if anyone would want to get rid of kittens, what's to stop someone getting rid of a red haired boy who asked too many questions and periodically bombed the farm hands with water balloons?

The other side of this Adopted child dilemma is the need to idolize the parents that gave you up; in your mind they are both rich and wonderful. They would only have gotten rid of you if they had no other choices at all, backs to the wall, or perhaps the fantasy of the day was that they lost you somehow, kidnapped or switched at birth. Regardless of the scenario, they still loved and wanted you.

"Are you here to take me back with you?" I asked timidly afraid of the answer, both answers.

"No, William, we would never do that to you." Mulder spoke up quickly, though the words were spoken almost to convict as well as reassure. "The Van De Kamps have been so good, and so good to you. Dana and I would never drag you from them, it wouldn't be fair." He tousled my hair at the end, and I could not help but to long for the words of a fire I had grown accustomed of.

I smiled, out of relief I would later discover. IT was easier to spend that time with them after that, there was no eminent threat hanging over my shoulder. They told me of a brother and sister back in Virginia, left with their grandmother while they came to see me. "We thought the whole lot of us would be a bit overwhelming, but perhaps you can meet them sometime?" Dana asked in a shaky voice.

She seemed to be placated by my nod of acceptance, and it gave Mulder a chance to speak. "I know you feel that you would be betraying your mom and dad Will, but they actually found us. I want you to know that they invited us here, to see you, and it was more than we could ever have dreamed to have." He sighed here, and sadness heaped onto his shoulders as he spoke again. "They, uh, your parents are willing to have us be around as much as you feel comfortable with. They did this for you Will, so you would know where you came from. "

Before I could answer, Mom came out and informed us it was time for cake and presents. The three of us ambled across the lawn in a sort of dance, the Mulders seemed to want to touch me, and yet faltered at bridging the distance. Every few steps, Dana would reach her hand out as if to touch me, and stop herself before she got too close. She got closer and closer each time she did it, and I silently wondered if she would win the game before we reached the back door.

After the five of us gorged ourselves on cake, Mulder excused himself, only to return with two presents, grinning like an idiot, he placed both of them in front of me as I sat on the couch. Nodding as if to nudge me on,. He stepped back to allow me space dig in.

I opened the smaller present first; it was from Dana and was a photo album, full of pictures of my birth family, both sides. She had even taken the time to include small captions under each picture so I knew whom I was gawking at.

The bigger present was from Mulder, it took me a while to open it, he grinned as I unwrapped layer after layer of wrapping,, barely noticing Dana's eyebrow at his choice of humor.

"The Hoop will be delivered in the next couple of days." Mulder grinned as I held the NBA basketball in my small hands. "It was too big to fit in the car."

"Mulder," Dana piped in "I thought we agreed that we would give gifts that showed Will where he came from?" she admonished not so harshly.

"Scully, when have you known me not to shoot a few hoops?" he smiled as he looked into his wife's eyes. Realizing she wasn't buying it, he tried again. "Scully, I got game."

"Yeah, and I seem to remember an incident where the game had you." They argued for a while, friendly baiting between two people who obviously loved one another for years. I caught the general gist of the story as they spoke of a video game gone awry, but I didn't really pay too much attention, watching them for those few minutes, I felt the first little twang of jealousy for a brother and sister I had never met. These two seemed to have a real handle on fun, and for an instant, I wanted to jump into that European death trap of theirs and head off to the East Coast with them.

It was my parents who grounded me firmly back into reality; I stole a glimpse at them as they sat holding hands on the couch, watching me with so much love and happiness that I was struck dumb. It was in that instant that I realized I would never end up an unwanted kitten, they would always be there for me, and they would always love me. I had been a miracle that they had long prayed for and finally received, they loved me, they wanted me, they chose me. And here, in this small little way they had given me back a piece of myself that I would never have to long for, that I would never again stare into the mirror and wonder where I got my god awful nose, or why my hair is so red.

The Mulders left soon after the presents were opened, and arrangements were made for summers and some holidays. Hannah and Christian, my brother and sister, even came to stay with us for a few summers over the years. My mother loved it; she said she got to have a big family without all the stress and work.

Over the years, the Mulders became something more to me than the strangers that got out of the expensive car, they became something of a favorite aunt and uncle, and Hannah and Christian were siblings that I could have as my own.

But, regardless of all that, I had Mom and Dad; I had their strength and guidance, and love and acceptance. I have had many birthdays since this one, some good some bad, some well, just days. They gave me the best present I ever got for a birthday, but it wasn't until years later that I understood the depth and sacrifice of the bestowment.

They gave me my past and in a way I guess only an adopted child could understand, they also gave me my future.

The End

Challenge Elements:
- set your fic on May 20th, 2006
- William receives a very special gift. (which doesn't have to be an object. It could be alive or intangible) What is it?
- Someone William is very excited to see visits on his birthday. Who it?

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