By Ashley (Ash XF@aol.com)
CRACK! The sound of the baseball connecting with the bat echoed cleanly in the crisp midwestern afternoon. For a moment the ball was silhouetted against the setting sun. It was April, and spring was in the air, but they were far enough north that at this time of year it still got chilly when the sun went down. Every child on the dusty baseball field watched the ball as it descended, all except the boy who had hit it. He was running for first base. Although he was tall for his seven years, he was still the youngest and had only grudgingly been allowed to play to fill up the second team.
William Van de Kamp watched the ball land right on the where the boundary line would be in the outfield, if it were still painted on the dead grass, right as he landed on first base. The afternoon breeze whipped his bright red hair into his ice blue eyes.
"It's out!" yelled the pitcher Jimmy Henderson. Jimmy's family was the richest in the small town, his father owned the car dealership and his older brother Robbie was quarterback for the high school football team. Like their father, the boys had a reputation for being bullies.
"No it's not!" William yelled back. "It was in!"
Jimmy turned and looked at the younger boy on first base. Although Jimmy was ten, they were in the same grade. William was the only seven year old in the fourth grade. The first week of school the teachers had called the Van de Kamp farm and told William's parents that he was probably retarded, he was always daydreaming and showed no interest in the first grade activities, much to the dismay of Nancy Van de Kamp, who had always suspected something was not quite right with William. A week later the teachers had called again and said William should probably skip first grade, maybe even second grade, possibly elementary school entirely. He had tested at genius level and apparently had been reading advanced material for several years before starting school.
This had made Bob Van de Kamp quite proud, but Nancy had been more reserved. She insisted William needed a normal socialization and wanted him to remain with children his age. The teachers had argued that William was just not being challenged enough in first grade. Finally they had reached a compromise, William would be in the fourth grade class. Jimmy Henderson resented the younger boy who often made better grades than him, but was also unusual in other ways. Nobody could quite put their finger on it, but William was definitely not your average kid.
Jimmy stormed out to the first base bag and threw his glove into William's chest. William steeled himself for the pounding he knew was coming, but felt a flash of anger too. He was getting tired of submitting to this strutting braggart of obvious lesser intelligence.
"Hey c'mon Jimmy, leave him alone" yelled Joshua from outfield, probably the only person in the town William counted as a friend. Jimmy ignored him and shoved William.
"What's that you said, baby butt?" he growled. "You got a problem with my calls?" William felt his anger flash. If only he were bigger, he'd pound this jerk. Suddenly, as if it had been thrown up from the ground, Jimmy's forgotten glove flew up and landed square in his solar plexus, knocking his wind out. Jimmy's eyes flew open in surprise as he doubled over, winded. William took several steps back in shock. What had happened? The field was quiet. Few of the boys knew what had happened, most were too far away or couldn't see. It looked like the kid had whacked Jimmy, but he was too far away.
Suddenly there was a horn beeping. Their bus was here, it was time to go home. William turned and ran for the bus. The others followed behind. After the confrontation on the field, William knew better than to sit where he would be assaulted. The best place was right behind the driver, where no one would try anything in plain view. The second best place was the very back seat, where no one could get him from behind. He sat behind the driver. As Jimmy and his pals got on, they flashed strange and dirty looks at him. William looked away. Joshua slid in next to him.
"Hey man, how'd you do that?" he asked.
"Do what?" William asked, his face turning red.
"You know what. How'd you make that glove fly up and whallop Jimmy like that? I thought for sure you were gonna be hamburger." Joshua looked hard at him.
William fidgeted. He hated questions like these. "I didn't. I don't know." And he didn't really. William knew he was different in more ways than most people suspected. Besides his intelligence, he also had a photographic memory, which made taking tests a snap. But it wasn't what he knew, but the fact that he understood. He was aware. And from an early age too, since his near-perfect memory recall could take him back farther than most people's. He could almost remember being a baby in his crib, if he tried hard enough.
But that wasn't where the strangeness stopped. Sometimes, when he was very upset(rarely) strange things would happen. Once a window cracked in the barn when he was building a project that had fallen apart after hours of work. Another time a picture had flown off the wall when he had not been allowed to go to the county fair a year ago. Another thing was sometimes he could almost hear people thinking. It sounded like a vague whisper on the wind, but if he tried, he could almost hear thoughts. He often finished people's sentences for them. He always knew where his parents were at the farm, sometimes what they were doing, even if they were in another building.
He never told anyone, since most people looked at him sideways anyway, but he knew that Nancy knew something was different about him. Bob probably knew too but would never admit it.
He could never remember calling his parents "Mom" or "Dad". This was something that bothered them he knew, but it bothered him as well. They had told him repeatedly to call them mom and dad, but every time he tried he just couldn't bring himself to do it. He didn't know why, but it just felt wrong. They were Bob and Nancy, everyone else called them that anyway. Besides, if they were in a crowd and he yelled "mom" or "dad", nearly everyone turned around. If he called them by their names it was easier.
Still, they insisted so he got around the problem by simply not addressing them at all, just asking a question or stating something. With only the three of them they usually knew who was talking to who. The phrase "go clean your room" was rarely directed at one of the adults.
Joshua stared at the boy next to him for a moment longer, then looked away and talked about the end of school coming up. He knew the younger boy hated to be stared at, but while most people considered him a freak of sorts, Joshua found the kid fascinating.
As the bus rolled through the familiar streets, William looked around at the scenery he knew with his eyes closed. Midville had to be the smallest town in the middle of nowhere. The nearest big city was 40 miles away. The citizens joked that they must be considered civilization since they at least had a McDonald's and a two story hospital, but there was only one school, a combined elementary and high school. Most of the residents were farmers of the surrounding miles of land. The "rich" people were the ones who owned the stores and shops of the town and who lived in the newest of the two neighborhoods, the one built in 1985. Jimmy Henderson's family lived there. So did Joshua's, and currently the bus was letting them off. Joshua stayed in his seat long enough to let Jimmy and his pals off and to block them from getting at William one last time.
He turned to the kid beside him." Are you and your mom coming to Bible study this weekend? I've got a cool movie to watch."
William nodded, "We always do. See you then."
Joshua nodded and hopped off the bus. They headed out towards the farmlands. A few minutes later the bus pulled up beside a small dirt road that opened out on the highway. If one didn't know it was there it was very easy to miss. William gathered up his stuff and got off. The bus driver sighed as she watched the boy disappear around the bend. She hated leaving him here since she knew it was at least a mile and a half down that dirt road to the Van de Kamp farm. She waited until he was out of sight before moving on.
William whistled to himself as he walked. It was a familiar tune, one he often whistled or hummed to himself, though he could never remember hearing it before. The only radio stations anyone could get out here were a gospel station and a country station and neither had ever played the song. He knew it was a real song because he could almost remember the words, though not all of them.
William sang softly to himself as he walked.
"Jeremiah was a bullfrog...
"Joy to the world...
The song was an enigma, he had known it for a long time since he had his pet frog since age three and had named it Jeremiah. When he tried to remember where he had heard it, the image of a woman always came to him, fuzzy and not clear, but she had red hair and blue eyes like his and a soft smile. He often wondered if she was an aunt or something he had never been told about, since she looked so much like him. He remembered a soft, sort of sad smile and could almost hear her voice, and the picture of her was always from an angle that told him he was lying down.
He had once asked Bob about it, if he had any relatives with red hair who had sang that song, someone who might have babysat him often. Bob had become somewhat agitated, said no that William didn't have any aunts or uncles and his grandparents had died long before. Bob had been so uneasy that William never mentioned it again for fear of seeming even stranger than they thought. He never mentioned it to Nancy, any strange statements about anything like that and she got upset and told him his was only dreaming and that he should try to stay closer to earth and not up in the clouds. But sometimes the image of the woman bothered him, mostly because of her hair. Nobody else in the family had red hair but him. His parents had dark brown hair and brown eyes. Where had his coloring come from? She must be a relative, because she looked like him. Maybe she was a relative nobody WANTED to remember, like the prodigal son story in the Bible. It intrigued him.
He stopped beside a large bush and threw a camouflage tarp off of something behind it. It was a small minibike motorcycle. With some help from Bob, he had saved up for some parts, salvaged others and built the machine himself from plans he found in a library book. Nancy had been nervous about it, but conceded that it was a help to have him ride instead of walk from the bus stop. Only when it was raining did they come pick him up, although they would have every day. But William liked the few minutes of walking or riding before getting home and having to do chores.
He cranked the minbike up and started for home, still humming the "Bullfrog Song" as he called it. As he drove out into the open field, he saw Bob on the tractor. He waved and yelled hi as he rode past. Bob Van de Kamp grinned as the boy passed him and waved. William smiled. Bob always had a smile for him. So did Nancy usually, but things were just different with her. Maybe it was because she was female, who knew?
He rode up to the barn and put his bike away, then raced up to the house. Bursting in the door he called hello to Nancy in the kitchen as he came in. She smiled at him.
"Check the icebox for you chores list. Lot of homework?" she asked.
William shook his head as he read the list on the refrigerator. Then, with a quick hug to Nancy he went to go bring everyone's laundry upstairs. He saved the hanging stuff for last and went into his parents' room.
He pulled a chair up to the closet and switched on the light. Carefully he hung up the dresses and went to climb down when his eye caught something. In the far corner behind some boxes was a flat box with his name written across is. Now what is that? Curious, he reached for the box but it was too far away. Taking a coat hanger, he hooked the end and pulled. It didn't come. He pulled harder and the box flew off the shelf to the ground, spilling its contents, a bunch of papers, all over the floor. Sighing, he jumped down to scoop them up. Just papers, didn't seem to be anything interesting. As he gathered them up, he read across the top line. And froze.
Certificate of Adoption.
He was adopted? No that can't be right. He read the paper again, and sat down hard on the floor. He put the papers down and, using his "strangeness", took note of where his parents were. Nancy was still in the kitchen making supper. Bob was in the barn cleaning the tractor. He sat there for a minute, trying to wrap his young, brilliant, but young mind around what he was seeing. Kicking his photographic memory into gear, he read the papers.
There wasn't much he could grasp, no real information. There was a birth certificate issued to the Van de Kamps with his name on it. As he read he noticed something strange. From the dates on the papers, it looked like he had been adopted when he was around 9 months old. That seemed weird. All he knew about adoptions he had gotten from TV, but it seemed that most people adopted kids within a few days of them being born. Why wait nearly a year to give away a kid?
He shook his head in disbelief, still not quite believing what he was seeing. The papers gave a physical description and medical history of his birth parents. Apparently, his father had had an undiagnosed brain condition, which cleared up, needed reading glasses and was a college graduate. He was tall with dark hair and hazel eyes. But it was his mother's description that caught his eye. She had red hair and blue eyes, was a medical doctor and had battled cancer for a year a few years before he was born. The papers also listed her as single. So his parents had not been married when he was born. But who were they? And where were they? Why did they give him up? And why had the Van de Kamps never told him the truth?
The sound of his name made him jump a mile high. He looked up. Nancy was standing over him.
William almost felt his heart stop as he looked up at Nancy. His mouth went dry and he gulped. He was almost never in trouble, so when it actually happened it was unnerving to him. And he knew he was in trouble now.
Nancy looked down at him. "What are you doing?"
"Umm" he started. "I was, um, hanging up the clothes and this box fell..."
Nancy crossed her arms and looked sternly at him.
William started over." I saw this box with my name on it and I was just curious."
Nancy didn't quite know what to say. She knew the boy now knew the truth, and it was a moment she had always dreaded. Bob had always wanted to be up front about the whole adoption to William, but Nancy had always insisted he was too young, even though she knew he would understand better than any child his age. She didn't want to admit it but she was afraid. She loved William, he was the child they had prayed for and hoped for, and when the social worker had handed her the 9 month old baby boy she knew her dreams had come true.
But as he grew, very small subtleties reminded her every day that he was not her son in the natural sense of the word. His bright red hair and blue eyes were not hers, his interest in science and science fiction contrasted to her love of religion. The way he talked and thought were not seven year old thoughts or words. And the fact that even as an infant he had never called her mom was not lost on her. Even his baby words and tried to sound out "Nancy" instead of "Mom". And her sense that something was just different about him never went away. She felt that he knew things he couldn't possibly know, maybe even heard things she didn't. And it scared her. Despite her love for her adopted son, she was afraid that if he knew they were not his birth parents, it would distance him even more, maybe he would even want to seek out his birth parents. He was still just a child, she knew, but the fear stayed anyway. And so Bob had relented, agreeing to tell William later, but the older he got the harder it would be.
She couldn't deal with this now, not now. It was too soon, she hadn't worked out in her mind what to say or do. "William, go to your room. Go there and stay there."
"But i didn't mean to, I'm sorry.." he tried to say. He stopped, then stood up gathering up the papers to put back in the box.
"I'll get them", she said bending over, "Just go. Now."
William ran to his room and closed the door. He had memorized the papers anyway. Then without warning the tears came streaming down his face. He threw himself on his bed and let the flood come over him. Why? Why? He kept repeating to himself in his head. Why hadn't they told him? Who was he? Who were his parents? Did he have any family, any brothers or sisters? What about aunts or uncles, grandparents? Why didn't they want him, was there something wrong with him? He couldn't help feeling that in the 9 months he was with his birth mother she found out about his "strangeness" and didn't want him anymore. If the Van de Kamps knew just how different he was would they give him away too like she had?
He sobbed into his pillow for what seemed like forever. His entire world now seemed so unstable and uncertain. For all his intelligence, he was still only seven years old. At his age, the world was made up of constants that were never changing and should stay that way. The rules were the rules and that was that. One's parents were one's parents and that never changed. And although he often read about the world in magazines like National Geographic and Scientific American, his world consisted of Midville and the farm and everything else beyond Highway 161 and the Interstate was like another planet. He had never considered that the feeling he had always had of being an outsider of sorts was valid in any way. It was one thing to be different and strange, it was another thing entirely to come from different parents for somewhere out there.
There was a knock at his door. Bob peeked his head in.
"William, can I come in?"
William wiped his eyes. "Yes sir."
Bob came in and sat on the edge of the bed.
"Well buddy. I guess you know our big dark secret now huh?" He smiled softly at the boy in front of him.
William only nodded. He didn't know what to say to the man in front of him, the man he had believed was his father. But he was the only father William could ever remember.
Bob sighed and prayed God would put the right words into his mouth. He had wondered for years what he would say to William the day the truth was revealed. He knew Nancy had always hoped that they would get away with never telling William, but Bob knew that he would find out someday. He had rehearsed several speeches and now they were all flying right out of his head.
"Wil, listen. I can't imagine what you're thinking right now but just listen to me for a minute." Bob took a breath and said, "Nancy and I tried for nearly 15 years to have a child. It's all we ever really wanted, was to raise a child, to have a little someone to love, who would love us back. It didn't matter that he wasn't ours by blood. Then one day our prayers were answered when the adoption people called and said a beautiful little baby boy needed a good home."
He looked down and ruffled William's tousseled red hair. "We had no idea what the situation was with your birth mother. You were nine months old, which was a little unusual, but we got you within a week, which is pretty fast. They did tests on you to make sure you were OK, which you were. The only thing they could tell us was that giving you up was a very hard life choice for a single mother."
William sat up listening. Bob continued, "The only thing I could figure was that a woman had a baby and was struggling to provide for you. For nine months she tried to work it out but realized she couldn't give you what you would need as you grew up. So in your best interests, she gave you to us, who could. I don't know, son. That's just speculation. Nancy and I never met her, we don't know her name or where she is. Only what is in those papers, which is basically family medical history, is all we know. We know nothing about your father or where he was during all this."
"She had cancer didn't she?" asked William. "Maybe it came back. Do you think she's dead?"
Bob never thought of that but that seemed possible. A single mother who was dying might certainly look for a home for her child. On the other hand it seemed he remembered that she had some brothers and a parent still alive, why wouldn't one of them taken William? He didn't say all of this, but instead said, "I don't know son. I hope she's not. That would be terrible. But it might be a possibility."
William bowed his head. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. Somehow it was easier to accept that he might be an orphan as opposed to having been given up.
Bob looked over at the many little science projects in various stages on William's workbench along the back wall. The boy was amazing, he couldn't imagine why anyone would give him up, just as Nancy had questioned over and over through the years. He'd probably never know. He looked over at William.
"Either way it doesn't matter now. We adopted you, you're our son. And we love you. That will never change, not now and not years from now when you're all grown up. All your birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, everything has been with us. We caught your first steps, your first words. Everything you are today you are because you're here with me and your mother. And Nancy IS your mother now, she always will be. And you're my son, and I'm very proud of you."
Bob reached out and hugged the small boy. William hugged back, feeling a little better, but still some uncertainty remained. He always felt a little distant from Nancy, as if she were holding back sometimes. He couldn't have known that Nancy had always wondered if William's differences would someday cause major trouble, if his refusal to call them mom or dad meant that he didn't consider them his real parents, that someday he would leave them to find his birth parents, or the worst, that someday his parents would come back for him. The numerous uncertainties about William's adoption had left her feeling insecure and afraid of being hurt. William sensed this on some level. He knew she loved him, but there was a hole that was now made bigger by the recent revelations.
He followed Bob down to supper. It was a quiet affair, nobody really talked. William and Nancy were both subdued, although Bob tried to make conversation. After the dishes were clean and William had bathed, he climbed into bed and tried to sleep. But the sound of voices downstairs prompted him to get up, and slip quietly to the top of the stairs to listen.
Bob was talking. "Come on Nancy, it was bound to happen. I always said we should be straight up with him about the whole thing anyway. I'm just glad he's not older. If he were a teenager this would have been worse. I never understood why you didn't want to tell him in the first place. You knew he'd understand what 'adopted' means. You know how smart he is."
"Maybe that was why," said Nancy. "I don't know Bob. I just don't know"
There was a sound of her getting up from the table as she continued, "Maybe it's the way he never calls us mom or dad. Maybe it's because in the back of his mind he doesn't think of us as his parents, like somehow he always knew he wasn't ours. And every time he says something, or does something, it just reminds me. I mean how many seven year olds can build a minibike? And what about all those projects he has going on up there? And the questions he asks..."
Bob looked confused. "Do you want me to tell him to clear out all those science experiments? And what questions?"
Nancy sighed. "No, forget the experiments. That's not the problem. Except for the time he blew up that volcano thing in his room. And the questions, well, what about the time he asked about Adam and Eve?"
Bob looked confused. Nancy went on, "Last Bible study we were driving home and he asked how the entire human race could come from two people without genetic mutations killing us off in a few generations. He asked if Adam and Eve only had sons where did their wives come from, were they Adam and Eve's daughters, and wouldn't that make them brothers and sisters and wasn't that wrong...?"
Bob looked a little disturbed. "I didn't know he was questioning the Lord's word, but he's just a little boy. I guess he's curious.."
Nancy looked exasperated. "Bob that's not the point. How does a seven year old know about genetic mutations? I'm not even entirely sure what they are. And what seven year old asks the questions he does, or does the things he does? I always wondered why anyone would give him up, he was almost a year old. Maybe his birth parents knew something we didn't?"
"Now Nancy, let's not get hysterical here. He's a genius, and the counselors told us to expect him to be different. And as for why he was given up, haven't we been through this before? We don't know why, but they said it was in his best interests, his mother was single. And she also had cancer at some point, William pointed that out. Maybe it came back, maybe she was dying? And like I told him, it doesn't matter. He's our son now. He's our son, and that hasn't changed, at least for me it hasn't." Bob sat down at the table.
He knew his family was upset but this was for the best, William knowing. What was going to happen now anyway? Nothing had really changed. So the boy knew he was adopted. It was not like he was the only child in the world to have ever been adopted. Bob was of the opinion that it took more than blood to make a family. There were some people who were brothers and sisters and were more strangers to each other than anyone.
William slowly got up and went back to bed.
The next day was difficult for everybody. Bob suggested William help him out in the field, to give everyone a chance to process everything. As they worked, they talked about the adoption, and everything else Bob could manage to talk about, but William was subdued at best.
As he weeded the vegetable garden his mind began to wander. He hummed the "Bullfrog Song" to himself and as he worked, the image of the red haired woman came back to him. He stopped for a moment. Red hair, just like the description of his mother. He realized that was who the woman in his memory must be. But who was she? Bob called to him, wondering what he was doing and William went back to weeding. Now more than ever, he tried to remember, forcing his picture memory to work. All day he hummed the song to himself, realizing each time he hummed the song, more and more memories became clear.
He started to remember other people too. An older woman with short dark hair and a friendly smile who seemed to be around as much as the red haired woman. Another woman, also with dark hair but straight and longer, younger, as young as the red haired woman.(his mother?) Fuzzier images of a man who was always around the dark haired woman, and the only memories William could summon of him were of the man standing in the doorway. A mobile of stars that moved as he watched and stopped when he looked away.
Then some other memories came on the heels of the ones he forced up, images of dark shadowy figures standing over his bed, looming down. And strangest of all, some images of total strangers holding him, fear and confusion, and fire. Then the red haired woman and the young dark haired woman coming through the darkness and fire and picking him up, and safety at last. He shook his head hard, weird.
Finally, late in the afternoon Nancy called to him.
"William, we're going to be late for Bible study! Come on." She walked out to the truck as William ran up. He personally would have rather stayed home this time, but he knew Nancy wouldn't approve. The Van de Kamps were not fundamentalists but they believed in religion and were adamant about certain things. Church, Sunday school and bible study were some of them. He climbed up beside her and they drove towards town, listening to Willie Nelson on the radio. Again, William wondered about the "Bullfrog Song" but decided not to ask. He could sense Nancy was still upset and he didn't want to remind her of anything she didn't want to think about.
It was about 6 PM and as they headed into the town, William was the one who tried to do as Bob had done and make conversation. He talked about Disney's new movie due out for the summer in a few weeks and asked if they could go see it. The truth was he really wasn't interested in cartoons but he hoped talking about normal stuff would make her feel better. Nancy smiled and said sure, they would go see the movie. They pulled up to Joshua's house.
Joshua's mom, Diane came out to greet them with a smile.
"You're here! Great! We're just about to start. Everyone's in the living room, kids are in the playroom. William, why don't you go on back? I gave Josh the passage and everyone's ready to go."
William tried not to roll his eyes but smiled instead and headed inside. He had already memorized the Bible along with every other book he read. He headed to the back room where Joshua and the other kids were. Jimmy Henderson and his pals sneered when he walked in but they held their tongues. The kids were expected to write a paragraph on the passage the adults had given them to read and in exchange, they were allowed to stay in the playroom by themselves and not have to sit in with the adults. If they finished the passage and paragraph, they were free to do whatever they wanted for the rest of the night.
William, being the smartest, was able to write anything believable in record time, leaving them all to play. But Jimmy, as much as he detested the kid, left him alone with the mothers in the next room and the kid writing the paper. William greeted Joshua as he walked in.
"He Josh, what the passage?" he asked gathering up the paper. Joshua told him and William closed his eyes, searching his brain. He remembered the passage and sat down in the corner to start writing. Josh got up in front of the rest of the kids.
"OK guys, I rented this movie. It's kinda old but it's really cool. It's about aliens and flying saucers and all sorts of stuff. It's called 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'. You'll like it."
William barely paid attention as everyone settled down to watch the movie. He wrote rapidly, trying to fill the page so it looked like they had been working, but sometimes he wondered is Ms. Diane and Nancy knew they never really discussed the passage. As he worked and the room became silent, he began to follow the movie and he started to take interest. He didn't know why, but it seemed that the storyline of the movie seemed familiar somehow, like he knew about that sort of situation. No that's ridiculous he told himself. There's no such thing as aliens and they're not flying around sucking up people in spaceships. It's just a movie.
But as he finished up the paper and moved over next to Joshua, he started to feel a chill crawl up his spine, especially the part where the little boy is sucked out of the house by some invisible force trying to get in through the vents. As the mother on the screen frantically tried to keep the invaders out and protect her little boy, William started to feel a little queasy. Suddenly he wasn't in the room anymore, he was in a memory.
He was lying in his crib and a shadowy figure loomed over him. He could hear frantic screaming on the other side of the closed door. "Don't you hurt my baby! If you hurt my baby I'll kill you!" Crying and pounding on the door, which flew open and a shattering roar filled the air as the woman with red hair, his mother, fired a gun and the figure over him fell away. His mother ran to the crib and scooped him up, crying. She was shaking and he was screaming in fear. Suddenly the woman with long dark hair was there, with the man, and the older woman with short dark hair. They were saying something, he could almost make it out.
"....Dana? What the...baby OK?...Dana..."
Dana? Was her name Dana? He suddenly snapped back to reality to see the movie had been paused and everyone was looking at him. Joshua was in front of him looking freaked out.
"Hey man, you OK?" he asked. "I'm going to get your mom..." He got up.
"NO! I'm fine, really I'm fine, sorry. I'm sorry." William pulled him back down.
Joshua's 16 year old sister, Lacey spoke up, "That kid's too young for this movie, either turn it off or make him get out."
William stood up, "No I'm not too young for it, I was thinking about something else. Turn it back on, I want to see what happens."
Joshua looked like he wanted to ask something else, but everyone was starting to mumble angrily. "OK, OK" he said. "We'll watch the rest. It's just a movie."
William, with his face burning retreated to the back of the crowd for the rest of the movie. It was really very interesting, but the memory had upset him. What had happened? Was it a real memory? Had someone tried to hurt him? Had someone been trying to take him like the boy in the movie? And his mother, the red haired woman. She had a gun. Had she really shot and killed someone? Was she a criminal? Was that why he wasn't with her anymore? It was all too much. And what about his father, where was he?
Finally the movie ended and everyone was ready to go home. As they went out to locate their parents, Joshua sat down in front of William.
"So what happened back there, Wil? You looked like you were having a crap attack or something."
William hesitated. Should he tell Joshua what he had seen in his head? Josh was the only friend he had, he didn't want him thinking he was nuts. But he had to tell him something. Thinking for a minute, he came to a decision.
"Josh, I found out something yesterday." William paused for a second. Joshua leaned forward.
"I found out that I...well, I...I'm adopted. Bob and Nancy aren't my real mom and dad. Don't know who is or anything." William sighed and leaned back for a second.
Joshua sat back in surprise. He didn't know what to say. He thought for a second, then said, "Well hey Wil, that's not something serious like you're sick or dying or something. I mean, you know Terry Marshall? She's adopted you know. And she's alright. I just never knew, you know. But now you know it makes sense. Makes sense why you have red hair and all. Hey don't worry man, you're lucky you know. Some kids live in orphanages, I saw them on TV. Some places over in like Russia and stuff, bad places. You're lucky you're with Mr. Bob and Ms. Nancy."
Josh didn't know if that was the best thing to say or the right thing to say but he had to say something. William only nodded.
"I know, I know. And it's weird you know, because they're my parents. But sometimes I remember someone else, a woman with red hair like mine. During the movie, I thought I remembered her again, that's all. Maybe she's my birth mom or something, I don't know." William shrugged.
Josh looked confused. "How could you remember that? I mean I know you have an awesome memory and stuff, you remembered all the stats on my baseball cards after looking only once, but weren't you just a baby when you were adopted?"
William nodded. "Yeah but I was almost ten months old, I lived with her, my real mom, for almost a year. I remember some stuff."
Suddenly some giggles came from the doorway and the boys whipped around. Jimmy was standing there with two other boys. He looked positively thrilled. William felt his heart sink. Jimmy had heard everything, he knew.
"Well, whatcha know? The little freak's a reject. So you're adopted huh? What's the matter, your real mom knew what a freak you were and ditched you as fast as she could?" The three boys laughed.
Joshua stood up fast, William right behind him. Josh was furious, "Look you damn...." He never finished the sentence. William roared in anger "Shut up!!!" and no one knew what happened next for sure. Every lamp in the room blew out and the door slammed shut right into Jimmy's face.
Joshua and William froze.
For the first time, Joshua was afraid of William. He didn't doubt it now. He had seen the glove fly up and hit Jimmy the day before, now he knew William had done something.
William was just as scared. Did he do this? He tried to talk, "Wha--, what just happened?" he ran to the door and opened it. Jimmy and his friends took several steps back, their faces white. Without a word they turned and ran. William turned back to Josh who had run past him into the lighted hallway. William looked at the other boy's white face, and felt his own drain.
"Josh, I...I'm sorry. Was that me? That was....that was...scary." William gulped and looked back into the darkened room. He slowly sat down to the floor and put his head in his hands. He was surprised Joshua wasn't running as fast as possible away from him.
"What the hell is going on?" he asked to himself. "Who am I? WHAT am I?"
Josh's first impulse was to run. He wanted to get as far away as possible. He had seen all of "The Omen" movies and he had no wish to stick around if this kid could get mad and make lighting strike or something. But he was fascinated despite himself. Curiosity may have killed the cat but it had never done Joshua more harm than get him grounded a few times. If this kid could do this sort of stuff, what could he do during baseball season? They'd never loose a game. Or what about going to Vegas? They'd win the jackpot every time! But he sobered quickly. William was adopted, when he was almost a year old. And he was so smart and he could move things with his mind. Was he something like out of a movie? Was he some science experiment or the next Jesus Christ or something?
He looked down at the younger boy sitting on the floor and realized the kid was just as scared as he was. Slowly he squatted down. Tentatively he reached out and took William's shoulder, half expecting to be electrocuted or something.
"Hey come on, let's get those lamps fixed before my mom finds out. We have some light bulbs in the pantry. Come on, they'll never know."
William looked up in surprise. He couldn't believe Josh wasn't right behind Jimmy. He nodded slowly and got up. They snuck into the kitchen and grabbed some spare light bulbs, then ran back to the playroom.
"Come on," said Joshua. "You're mom's gonna come looking for you any minute."
"No she's not,' said William. "She's still talking to your mom in the other room." He started to screw in a new bulb.
Joshua looked up sharply. The living room was on the other side of the house, how could William know that? He shook his head, deciding he really didn't want to know and started on the next lamp. In only a few minutes, the lamps were fixed and they were talking softly about what happened. Joshua wanted to know if it was like that movie "Mathilda", could he move things with his head? William kept insisting no, he couldn't. Not when he wanted to anyway. It only happened when he was mad or something and then not all the time.
William wondered if his birth parents could do these things, or if they had found out when he was a baby and had given him away out of fear or something. Joshua didn't like to say it but he wondered the same thing. It was cool though, he felt like he was in some action adventure movie. William didn't share his friend's opinion. All of this was upsetting and scary. Suddenly Diane was at the door.
"Well boys, did you finish your paper?" she asked. William grinned and handed it to her. Diane looked it over. Then she looked down at William and Joshua.
"Very well written. A little TOO well actually." she said with a knowing smile. The boys looked down sheepishly. Diane sighed, she knew William had written it all by himself. Oh well, as long as her house was still standing after all those kids. And they'd have Sunday school tomorrow anyway. She turned to leave when William spoke up.
"Ms. Diane, do you know any songs from the radio?"
She looked a little surprised. "Well some, why?"
William asked, "Do you know any songs like this?"
He hummed and sang the "Bullfrog Song" as best as he could, not really expecting her to know what it was. So he was surprised, and a little pleased, when she lit up.
"Oh sure I know that song! That's 'Joy to the World' by Three Dog Night. It was really popular back in the 70's. I think I even have that CD around somewhere. They don't play that on our stations though, where did you hear it?"
William sat up fast. "I don't know where I heard it, I just did somewhere. You have it? Can I hear it?"
Diane checked her watch. "Maybe next time, honey. Your mom's waiting for you. And I'm not sure where the CD is right now, it's been years since I listened to it."
William's face fell, but he nodded. With a hand slap to Josh, he went into the living room where Nancy was waiting for him.
"See you in church tomorrow!" called Diane and Josh waved goodbye slowly.
They climbed into the truck and drove home. Nancy looked over at William a few times before slowly asking, "So did you boys go over the reading?"
William smiled softly. "Um, not really. No ma'am." Nancy only smiled and shook her head. The she looked at him again.
"Any reason why Jimmy Henderson went tearing out of the house saying something about the lights going off and ghosts? He looked scared to death."
William looked out the window. He didn't want to lie but he didn't want to say what had happened. "Well, the lights were fine when I left. And we watched a kinda scary movie, guess he was just being a big baby."
It wasn't a lie exactly, the lights HAD been fine when he left and the movie was a little scary. And he did consider Jimmy to be a big baby. Nancy only nodded, accepting the explanation. She wanted to talk to the boy about everything, about the adoption, about him in general. But for some reason her tongue was tied and she couldn't make the words. She had a feeling something had happened, but short of accusing him of lying she knew she wouldn't get it out of him.
They drove on in silence back to the isolated farm.
By the time Monday rolled around, Jimmy had made sure everyone knew William's secret. If people had whispered before, they practically shouted now. But surprisingly few people cared much by Tuesday. The fact that another classmate, Terry, was also adopted made it less of a big deal. Short of subjecting Terry, who was well liked and popular, to the same ridicule, there wasn't much anyone could say to William. Besides, no one really cared much.
Jimmy practically fumed when his attempts at teasing William about the adoption fell flat after so short a time, so he simply went back to calling him a freak. But when no one else was around, Jimmy made it clear he thought William had bee abandoned because he was a weirdo. However, the incident at Joshua's house had set him on his gaurd. It hadn't been lost on Jimmy that the freaky weird stuff that happened to him around the kid happened when the kid was pissed off. So he made sure the ridicule was quick and painful, not enough to really make William furious, but just enough to make him feel bad. And he always made sure there were plenty of people around too. He was no fool, he knew the kid had something to do with the objects flying around. He didn't normally believe in such crap, but his eyes seldom lied to him. And he was a little afraid, not that he'd admit it. He wondered if the kid was some kind of monster like the kid in that movie, "The Good Son" or worse, like in that movie "Carrie".
William actually was relieved at how painless the whole thing had gone over. He had expected alot more grief from Jimmy and the rest of the kids in his class, but he knew Jimmy was still half afraid of him and he made sure to play on that. It was the only defense he had at the moment.
Later that week while waiting for the bus to come pick them up to go home, William and Joshua were talking. Josh found it interesting the whole situation William now found himself in. William didn't exactly agree, but he had to admit that if he had to be adopted, it did raise some interesting questions. He didn't doubt that the Van de Kamps loved him, but his unique abilities made him wonder if maybe there were more to his past than he knew. To Joshua, who had been born and raised in Midville, as William had believed he had been, it was exciting to have something different like this come up.
"Seriously Wil, think about it. You don't know where you come from and nothing about your parents. Hell, you could be Harry Potter or something. It would explain all the weird stuff when you get pissed. Or maybe you're like some long lost prince of some really small but really rich country or something."
William rolled his eyes and tried to keep from laughing, "Come on man, get real. I'm no prince. And there's no such thing as wizards, Harry Potter's just a story. It's more likely I'm some science experiment gone wrong or something, maybe I got dumped here to hide the evidence or something."
Josh shook his head, "Nah, it'd just been easier to kill you or something."
"Gee thanks alot," said William. He had thought hard and had come to a decision. He told Joshua what he remembered and what he knew. Joshua was more interested in the memory of his mother shooting someone.
"Maybe she's like in the mafia or something?" he asked.
Somehow that didn't seem to fit with William's gut feeling. "No I don't think so. She was a doctor. She was a single parent. She had cancer. I just don't think she was a criminal."
William and Josh sat in silence for a while before William told him about the "Bullfrog Song", Joy to the World. "I seem to remember more when I hear that song. I think she used to sing it to me, I don't know."
Joshua thought for a second then said, "I'll see if I can find mom's CD. Maybe if you hear the song, you'll remember more."
At that point the bus pulled up and they ran to get their favorite seats.
The next day Joshua brought his music player to school and at recess handed it to William.
"I found mom's CD and put the song on, come on, let's listen and see if anything pops up."
William was thrilled. Finally he was going to hear the song that seemed to have been stuck into his head for 7 years, the song his mother had sung to him, he realized. The music started up and William closed his eyes and listened.
"Jeremiah was a bullfrog
William laughed, and started to sing along, the words coming to him easily as if he had always known them. He had.
"Joy to the World
He memorized the song as it played and let his mind wander. Again the images came of the red haired woman, and this time her face was clear. She was beautiful, her blue eyes just like his, her hair the same shade of red. Even her smile was similar, but now he could see his face was different, somehow. His was more angular, his mouth a little different. And suddenly, the image of another man came to him, a man he had only seen once or twice in his life.
The man was tall and lanky, with brown hair and hazel eyes and a nice smile. His mother had handed him to the man who had smiled down at him. He knew without being told that this was his father. He didn't know how he knew, it was the earliest memory he had ever brought up, but he knew. The man's face wasn't as clear though, it was almost like looking through a fog.
Joshua was thrilled his plan had worked, and they listened to the song so much it was stuck in his own head by the time recess was over.
Later that day as William rode home on his minibike from the bus stop, he thought about the progress they had made, and then wondered to himself, what was the point actually? What exactly was he looking for? What did he hope to find? He pulled the bike to a stop and thought for a minute. Suppose he did learn about his birth parents, so what? Was he hoping they'd come and take him back? No, he realized. This was his home, wasn't it?
Really what it was, he realized, was that he wanted answers. Why was he so smart? Why could he make things move? Why did he know where people were when he couldn't see them? Was there anything else he could do? Why did they give him up, was the most important question. Did they love him or hate him or what? Did he have any siblings? Did cancer run in their family? What would his life had been like had he stayed with them? Were they good people or mean?
But how could he explain all that to Bob and Nancy? Would they understand his need to know the answers to those questions? He knew they would be hurt, but he hoped they would understand. He had tried asking Bob if they knew the answers to some of those questions, and Bob had told him that they knew nothing that wasn't written in the adoption folder.
He started up the bike again, still thinking. But if they didn't know who did? His birth parents certainly, but what about other family? Did he have any cousins? What about the people at the adoption agency?
Then, like a light going off in his head, a crazy idea hit him. What if the people at the adoption agency knew something more they could tell him? Would they? He had gone to the library to look up information on adoptions and had even found some stuff on the internet. He knew that most adoptions were sealed by the court and no information could be given in some cases, but some cases weren't so strict. Maybe somebody could tell him something.
As soon as he got home, he raced to do his chores and homework, then called Joshua from a closet so he wouldn't be overheard. Joshua listened to William's plan over the phone.
"Are you nuts, kid?" he asked in disbelief.
William answered, "I don't think so. Why?"
"Well, in the first place you have to get to Des Moines, that's an hour drive away. Who's going to take you? And even if you DO get there and manage to find that place in the big city, it's not like they'll tell you anything. Don't you watch TV? Adoptions are supposed to be secret and stuff. They'd be breaking the law if they told you anything. It won't work, man."
William rolled his eyes in the darkness and said, "In the first place Josh, you watch too much TV. Second place, your sister Lacey just got her license right? I was hoping we could bribe her into taking us. Third place, not all adoptions are secret. I was reading about it on the internet. Sometimes they even open the files when the kid turns 18, if the birth parents sign an OK form or something. It's not like it's about national security or something, not unless they were spies or terrorists or something."
"You don't know they weren't, dude." said Josh." And what's all this 'we' stuff? I'm going too? Man I could get grounded for life. It's one thing to sneak off to the movies, it's another thing to sneak off to Des Moines. And Lacey? You really want to ride that far in the car with the Crash Queen? Besides, it would take alot to bribe her that far a trip."
"She only backed into the garage door twice, Josh. And the alternative is to ask my parents or yours to drive us. I know mine will say no and tell me not to even think about it anymore. Can you just ask her how much?"
Joshua sighed, told him to hold on, then went to find his sister. A minute later he came back to the phone.
"Hey Wil, you wouldn't happen to have $50 on you would you?" he asked.
William closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall.
That Friday was the last day of school and they got out at 10 am. William told the Van de Kamps that he would get off the bus at Josh's house and stay there the rest of the day. Bob thought it was a good idea, it would keep William busy while he worked on the farm and Nancy went over to the church for the food drive. And so by 11:00 that Friday, William found himself sitting in the backseat of Lacey's secondhand car, having given her his entire life's savings, heading for the address he memorized from the forms in the closet, a small, private Catholic adoption agency in Des Moines.
Lacey thought her brother and his little friend were nuts, but for $50 she could get her new red sweater she'd been eyeing for a month and get a chance to drive more than she ever had before. With some story to her mother about driving the boys to the movie house at the edge of town, they had taken off.
As they neared the city, they managed to find a radio station playing more than gospel or country and William found that he liked the Rock and Roll music he really wasn't supposed to listen to, according to Nancy. He half hoped "Joy to the World" would come on, but it didn't. The radio went off, however, when they got off the interstate on the street they were looking for and they looked for the address. They passed it twice before finally finding the small family services center located behind a large church.
As they got out of the car, William took a deep breath. He had played over and over in his mind what to say and do, every possible situation from total denial he was ever there to total cooperation. He stared at the building, actually feeling a sense of familiarity, but only vaguely. Had he been here before? Apparently so. Josh and Lacey looked at him, and Joshua asked if he still wanted to do this. William nodded and they went inside.
The office was small, with a front desk and a hallway going back with four doors off of it. The woman at the front desk looked up at the three kids before her and smiled.
"Can I help you?" she asked. "If you're looking for the catholic camp signup it's next door at the church."
William smiled and said "No ma'am, we're looking for Mrs. Hagerty? The social worker who handles adoptions?"
The woman in front of him frowned. "You wouldn't have an appointment would you?" she asked with a smile. "She's really very busy, kids. We have alot of work to do..."
William knew no one who didn't know him would take him seriously because of his age, but he had to try and get past that. "I know, but please, it's very important that I speak with her. If she has a spare moment, we can wait until she can see us." Lacey looked down at him sharply, and opened her mouth to explain she wasn't waiting anywhere for too long. Joshua kicked his sister and she stayed quiet this time.
The woman looked a little surprised at William's eloquence. "OK I'll ask her, but she's about to leave for lunch. What's this regarding?"
"I just need to ask her a question or two, and then we'll leave, I promise." He hoped that wasn't a lie.
The woman got up and pointed to the chairs along the wall. As they sat down, he went into one of the rooms off the hallway. A minute later she came back and said, "Mrs. Hagerty will see you, but make it fast."
William got up and hurried down the hall to the office with Josh and Lacey right behind him. An older, friendlier looking lady was standing behind the desk gathering her things together. She looked up. "Yes? You wanted to see me?"
They walked in and William said, "Yes ma'am, my name's William. William Van de Kamp. I don't know if you remember me, I was one of your cases. A little over six years ago?"
Mrs. Hagerty looked up sharply. She studied the boy in front of her, wondering how to handle this. It wasn't the first time she had gotten inquiries about past adoptions, but never from a 7 year old child and his friends. They were such a small agency, affiliated with a local church, that they rarely got any attention at all. And where were this kid's parents?
"Young man, where are your parents, are you here alone?" she asked.
William nodded. "Please, do you remember me?"
Mrs. Hagerty shook her head. "I'm sorry young man, I can't help you with whatever you're hoping to find. Adoptions are private and anything you need to know I suggest you ask your parents. I'm not allowed to give out any information, so before you even get started, know that." She pulled out her keys.
William fought down panic. "Ma'am, please. We just drove an hour to get here. My parents don't know much and I need some answers. I know you can't tell me specifics but I was hoping you could just tell me anything, anything at all. I won't ask you to break secrecy or anything. It's just very important to me. Please? Do you even remember me? Can you at least tell me that?"
Mrs. Hagerty looked down in surprise at the boy. This was no ordinary kid here. And now that he brought it up, she most certainly did remember him. He had been the strangest case she had ever worked on. The whole adoption had gone through in a week, which was unheard of. And the baby had been nearly 10 months old, which was even stranger in some ways. Before she could stop herself, she nodded. Yes she remembered him.
William felt his heart leap. "You remember me? Can you tell me what happened? Do you know why my mother gave me up? Can you tell me that?"
Mrs. Hagerty sighed. She had been through this before and stood firm, so why did she feel the urge to tell the boy what he wanted to know? Oh well, it can't hurt. I won't say names, she thought, or anything too specific. I really wish his parents were here.
She looked down again. "All I remember is she was a single mother, most mothers who come here are. She was Catholic and went through the church. All I know is the adoption was in your best interest, that for some reason she could not care for you properly, or I believe at some point your life might have been threatened or in danger. I'm not sure exactly, she refused to go into detail. That's why the adoption was so rushed."
William felt a chill as he remembered again the dark figure looming over him and his mother's screams from behind the locked door. He looked up.
"What about my father? Do you know anything about him?"
She shook her head. "No father was listed on your birth certificate and she only gave a brief description and what medical knowledge she knew of him, never a name or anything. I don't think he was around to be honest. I'm sorry."
"Can you tell me anything else?" he asked.
"Not without breaking a court order, son. I'm sorry. Now if you excuse me, I'm late for lunch." She headed for the door.
"Wait!" said William. "Just one more thing, do you know if she signed a form saying I could have my records when I'm 18?"
Mrs. Hagerty shook her head. "No she didn't. She didn't consent to the document release. I'm sorry, son. She doesn't want to be found. This was a final decision for her, and a very hard one, rest assured. She didn't want to reopen the past."
At that moment, the phone rang. Mrs. Hagerty groaned and went to pick it up. As she did, she looked at them. "I've said all I can and probably more than I should. Please, close the door on the way out."
William stood there until he felt Lacey take him by the shoulder and pull him out. There was no more they would get from the woman, certainly not a name. As they walked out into the hall, William felt like the whole trip had been wasted. What he had learned really wasn't anything new. He really wanted specifics, but he knew he wouldn't get them, not without help. He had to get a look at his file, he knew now. But they had to move fast. He pulled Joshua and Lacey down and told them what he wanted them to do. Lacey was shocked.
"Kid, you are going to get us arrested! I didn't come here to get in trouble. I know you're disappointed but..."
"Lacey," William said firmly. "I'm not leaving here with nothing. Either you help me or you don't but I'm doing something to get in that office. I'm not going back to the car so if you help me this will go faster."
Lacey sighed. Joshua nodded and the two boys ran into the bathroom. Lacey waited until Mrs. Hagerty came out of her office. As the woman turned to close and lock the door, Lacey called out from the reception area.
"Ma'am? Sorry, did you see which way my brother and his friend went? They were right behind me."
Mrs. Hagerty looked at Lacey in surprise. As she did, the men's bathroom opened slightly and William ducked down and slipped into the office unseen. Just then Joshua opened the door to the bathroom and called to his sister.
"We're in here Lacey, it's a long drive back. Be out in a minute!" he closed the door and went and sat in a stall. Their part was done. Now William had to get what he needed alone and without being caught.
Mrs. Hagerty closed her door and walked out with a nod to the woman behind the desk. Lacey sat down to wait. She looked up at the woman looking at her and grinned.
"Kids." She mock rolled her eyes and the woman smiled.
Meanwhile William was sitting at the computer, still on, doing a search. He typed in the Van de Kamps name and to his surprise, found no file on record. There was a gap in the record. It looked a little like his file had been deleted. Why would someone delete his file? A familiar sense of foreboding came over him. He tried every search he could think of as quickly as he could, all coming up empty. But he was here, the adoption papers said so and Mrs. Hagerty remembered him. He hadn't sensed a lie anywhere from her. He sat back dejected.
Then an idea struck him. Surely she had to have a calendar of appointments? Would that hold clues? Would she even still have it from that far back? He did a search again and found her calendar. To his surprise, it did go back several years and contained appointment information. He brought up the week he had been adopted.
He lit up as he saw the Van de Kamps's names in spots indicating legal meetings and paper signings. There was one other name on the calendar.
"Meeting with Dr. D. Scully, relinquish at 11 am"
Relinquish? To give up? And a doctor, didn't the forms state his birth mother had been a doctor? And D. D for Dana? It all fit. There were no other names on the calendar at that time, that must be it. Somewhere deep inside he knew he had found something, he had a name for his birth mother. Dr. Dana Scully. Quickly he searched the calendar but no address or phone number or anything gave away any more information. He had to get out of here fast before he was caught. He had already wasted too much time in here.
As fast as he could he set everything back how he found it and unlocked the door. Quietly he slipped out and went to the front room where Lacey and Josh were waiting. They looked relieved to see him. They waved goodbye to the woman at the desk and headed out to the car.
Lacey was just happy to get these two back before they were all caught, and she was just grateful no one had been arrested. On the way, William told Josh what he found.
"Her name's Dr. Dana Scully." said William.
"Ok," said Josh. "Now what?"
William shook his head. "I don't know, but a name is better than nothing."
Lacey called from the front seat. "I hope it was all worth it Wil. I personally don't see what you hope to get out of this. It's not like having your birth mother's name will change the fact that you're a Van de Kamp now."
William didn't answer. They couldn't understand, he knew. They made it home just in time to meet Nancy at Joshua's house, who had come to pick him up. Later that night, William went outside and lay stretched out across the hood of the truck against the windshield, looking up at the stars. He could pick out several constellations.
He wondered, wherever his mother was now, was she looking up at those same stars? He stared at Orion until Bob came and carried him inside.
It got to the point to where every time the phone rang William jumped, sure it was someone calling to report him. So it made it all the more incredible when, by the following Tuesday, no one had called. William only figured that someone up in heaven still liked him or something. It was one thing to ask simple questions of his parents, it was another thing entirely to sneak off the way he did. He didn't even want to think about the consequences.
But as the summer wore on, William relaxed a little. No one called, and he had found an important clue to his past, his mother's name. Joshua suggested that he stop with that, that anything serious like medical stuff would have been told in the papers everyone had signed. But it wasn't medical history William wanted. He wanted more personal information. What had his parents' lives been like? Where had he fit in? What was his family history? The sudden rootlessness and uncertainties about anything in his past had made it more of a burning to know more.
But it was more than that. Somewhere on a gut level, the part of him that seemed to know when something was wrong, was telling him it was imperative to his well being to keep searching for answers. He didn't know why, but he was used to following his instincts, and so he did.
However, he was at something of a dead end. When he could get on the internet uninterrupted, without the parental controls on their home computer, William did wide searches for the name Dana Scully. He then tried the doctor listings on various insurance sites, by state, looking for a Dr. Dana Scully. It was no use. He wished he had been able to look at his file at the agency, but it seemed to no longer exist, as he had discovered. This disturbed him the most. It was if he had simply appeared from nowhere at the age of nine months, to be put up for adoption.
But for all his searching, he still continued to live his life. With summer here, he was expected to help out more on the farm. Bob even let him drive the big tractor a couple of times. He helped with the planting and milking and he helped Nancy in the garden and around the house. By the end of July, the church Bible school started and he was able to spend more time with Josh.
By this time a lot of the kids had heard about William's quest for information about his parents. Surprisingly, many thought it was a cool idea, and while waiting in between activities in Bible school, they often joined him and Joshua to discuss possibilities. Josh was still convinced that William was some secret person with powers like Harry Potter or one of the X-Men. William brushed off his ideas, he wanted facts not fantasy.
But even with the help of the other kids, no one seemed to have any luck locating a Dana Scully. After a while the other children grew bored with it and it was mostly forgotten. To children, their lives change every six weeks and William had managed to convince the Van de Kamps that he was moving past the whole thing as well. But they often found him to be more pensive and brooding, showing that he really had not let the matter pass at all.
William, who had had no luck with the searches or remembering anything more, slowly resigned himself to the fact that he knew all he was ever going to know, that whoever and wherever his mother was, she was out of reach for good.
Until one Saturday night when once again William and Nancy went to Joshua's house for Bible study. William wasn't looking forward to 3 hours of dealing with Jimmy Henderson, and was in a rotten mood. There were no movies to watch and everyone was arguing over what to watch on TV. Finally Jimmy overruled everyone and stated that he wanted to watch reruns of "Cops". With groans from the rest of the kids, everyone drifted to various corners of the playroom in groups.
As the hip hop music started to play, William sighed and resigned himself to a night of boredom. He had already finished the paper for everyone and he was thinking about asking Joshua is he had any good magazines to read. Josh was watching the tv with about half the other kids, so William walked over. On the screen was some police officers turning over a flipped squad car.
'Wow' he thought. 'that looked like a rough ride'. Suddenly all the cops started running. William went over to Joshua when some voices came over the TV speakers, familiar voices. His head snapped up.
And he froze.
He couldn't believe his eyes. He simply could NOT believe what he was seeing! His breath caught in his throat and he couldn't breathe. His legs buckled and he fell to knees and sat back, unable to stand.
There, right there on the tv screen, was a thin young woman with red hair and blue eyes just like him. Her face, familiar from his memories. Her voice like a bell, the same voice from his memories, the same voice that sang the "Bullfrog Song" he loved so much.
"Oh my GOD!" he yelled. Everyone jumped!
"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my GOD!" he kept repeating.
"Wil, Wil what is it??" Joshua asked frantically, trying to avoid another light blowing out in front of all these people. Everyone was staring at William.
"Josh, Josh that's HER! That's her, that's my mother! My REAL mother!" he yelled.
Joshua looked at the woman on the screen. There was alot of bumpiness common in the "Cops" videos but he could see that the woman on the screen next to the tall man, both with their hands raised in face of the barrage of cops pointing their guns at them, did bear an amazing resemblance to William. But the two people on the TV were yelling about being federal agents, not doctors. That can't be right.
William jumped up and ran to the tv. Jimmy yelled asking if the weirdo had finally snapped. Anyone who had not been watching tv now came running over. They all knew the story about William being adopted and his search by now, so now they all wanted to see the woman he said was his real mother. Lacey spoke up, warning William to keep his voice down.
William wasn't listening, he was looking frantically for a tape and he found one, a MegloMania Man video, and popped it into the VCR, hitting record as fast as he could get the machine to start up.
"Hey!" yelled Josh, "That's my tape!"
William turned. "You still watch MegloMania Man? Come on, you haven't watched that in years, this is important, man!"
Josh realized that if William was right, then it certainly was. Besides he hadn't watched the tape in a while anyway. As the machine started to record, the two people's names flashed across the screen:
Special Agent Fox Mulder
Special Agent Dana Scully.
William let out a small, strangled sound and sat down hard. Joshua was right behind him. Everyone else stared in shock. It was really her! William couldn't believe his eyes. The face he remembered, the name he had found at the agency, the voice was the same. For the first time in over six years, William was looking, with an unobstructed view, at the face of his birth mother.
Jimmy, who hated not being the center of attention, reached for the remote, intending to change the channel. Lacey grabbed it away from him and grabbed him by the collar.
"Listen you brainless little twirp. You in any way interfere with that tv or that vcr taping it, and I will not only pound your worthless little butt, I'll tell your brother, who happens to have a major crush on me, that I won't go out with him because his kid brother disgusts me. Think Robbie will like it if you mess up his dating opportunities?" she asked giving him a shake.
Jimmy's eyes flew open in surprise and he shook his head, turning a little pale. He adored his older brother and anything that would bring Robbie's wrath down on him made him nauseous. His brother would pound him for sure. He sat back without another word.
William watched as his mother and the man, her partner, questioned the deputy on tv. She kept ducking behind doors, obviously hating the camera following her. William began to notice the man, the one named Fox Mulder. He realized he recognized the man from the one fuzzy image he had of being held by him, and that warm smile. William began to notice that Fox Mulder also fit the description of his father. Was that his father he was looking at?
Josh leaned over and said, "Man, your mom's a secret FBI agent. That's SO cool dude!"
"Not only that, " said William. "I think that guy might be my father. He kind of looks like me in the face."
Joshua nodded. William was right, he did look like him. William grinned as the disbelieving cop asked Mulder if she could see his badge again after his wild description of the deputy turning into a werewolf and as Scully pulled him away telling him about the cameras filming everything.
"Look Mulder you want to talk about werewolves to me you can knock yourself out but this can ruin your career!" she said.
"What career?" Mulder quipped. William laughed a little. Then his mother said something about calling someone named Skinner. Who was Skinner? Everyone laughed as she put her hand over the camera.
As the show went on, William and the other children watched as the FBI agents went around with the cops looking for some kind of monster. William was amazed at his mother's and the other man's intelligent conversation between them. He came to figure out that the man named Skinner must be their boss.
Suddenly on the screen, as they all raced up to another victim, Agent Scully called out "You guys, watch out I'm a doctor" and raced up to the man on the ground.
William and Josh looked sharply at each other with mouths open. A doctor? She was a doctor? That pretty much sealed it. It also explained why they hadn't found her as a practicing doctor, she wasn't. She was an FBI agent.
The more William watched, the more he knew that the woman on the TV was indeed his mother, but the tall handsome man intrigued him too. As he watched, he began to really believe the man was probably his father, even though the two didn't give any indication of being involved, but this was an old episode, maybe they weren't involved at the time.
Until they heard the line from Mulder, "So we're looking at someone whose hair matches her fingernails..bubblegum pink. That'd be a good color on you, Scully."
Everyone laughed and Josh elbowed him in the ribs. "Man if that wasn't a come on line!" William grinned. After that he watched them more closely and he could see the almost hidden subtleties between the two, things he would later realize as flirting, but he was only 7 years old, not up to speed with the game of flirting.
He could see that his mother was the scientific down to earth one, while her partner was the one who believed in the weird stuff like monsters and entities. But he really sat up as the two agents suited up in bulletproof vests with the cops and stormed a crack house.
"Oh awesome, man, my mom and dad don't do that stuff!" said Joshua enthusiastically. William wished he'd stay quiet, but he had to admit a small satisfaction watching his mother storm a bad guy's house and knowing Jimmy and his buddies were watching. He began to get a clue as to the type of life his mother had led. It was a dangerous life. Again he remembered the dark figure and his mother yelling behind the door, the door flying open and his mother firing a gun.
Had someone come after his mother or him? Was it someone she had put in jail who wanted revenge by hurting him? What about the other people he remembered, the other man and woman? The social worker, Mrs. Hagerty, had said his adoption had been in his best interests. Was it because of his mother's dangerous career?
He watched as his mother on the tv appeared doing an autopsy. He grinned widely as she smiled sweetly, sarcastically, up at the camera saying the FBI had nothing to hide. He laughed. Joshua beside him grinned widely. As his mother (and father?) once again crashed through the crack house looking for the deputy, and the door slammed shut behind them, William could almost feel the fear, as if he were right there with them. He was intrigued. What WAS that thing they were looking for?
He watched as Mulder tried to break down the door yelling at he deputy to "cowboy up." Then, as soon as it had started, the show was over. William couldn't believe it.
He waited until the credits were over and the next show had started before getting up and stopping the recording. He rewound and played it back. To his relief, he had the episode, or what he had caught of it on tape. He felt his breathing start to return to normal.
He felt drained, and tired. He clutched the tape to himself and went over and sat down in a chair. Everyone in the room looked at him, then slowly the conversation started up again. By unspoken agreement, everyone left him alone. Even Jimmy stayed away. Lacey walked up once and asked if he was ok. William, with his eyes closed, simply nodded.
He was trying to process everything. He couldn't believe his luck. Of course it was entirely possible that the whole thing was a huge misunderstanding, that the woman on that tv wasn't his mother, that his mother's name wasn't even Dana Scully, that he was entirely mistaken. But he didn't think so. It all fit. Mostly it was his memory. That woman on the tv was the same one in his memory, her voice was the same, her name was Dana as he had heard the others he remembered call her. She was a doctor as the adoption papers said his mother was. Her last name was Scully, the same as on the adoption agency's calendar. It all fit. And what about the man? Was that his father? He remembered that man too. He only had one memory of him, but he was there.
Either way, those people on the show had been with him at some point before he was given to the Van de Kamps. Parents or no, they knew more about him than he did. Could he find them?
He realized he now had a wealth of information from that single show that he hadn't before. He had their occupations, he had names, he had even a possible boss or coworker, Skinner. Could he call the FBI and find them that way?
He was so lost in thought he almost didn't hear everyone leaving to go home. As Nancy came and collected him, she noticed a difference in him. He seemed brighter somehow, and yet worn out. As he got up to leave, Joshua said, "Just keep the tape, Wil. I won't ask for it back."
William gave him a grateful look and said thanks.
As they drove home, Nancy asked him what the tape was. He showed her.
"Josh said I could have his MegloMania Man video, he doesn't watch it anymore." It was the closest lie he had ever told.
Nancy was thrilled her son was showing some interest in what other, normal kids his age watched and smiled in relief. William stayed quiet. He didn't want to tell her what was really on the tape. She might take it away. He couldn't bear that, not now.
As they drove home, he looked out the window wondering how it could be that he was so lucky. He had found the adoption papers and learned the truth. He had gotten useful information from the adoption agency without being caught. And just when he hit a dead end, the Cops show aired and he was able to tape it. He suddenly felt a chill. Was it luck?
Or was he being helped? Was God helping him? That's the only one who could be. But why? Why was it important for him to find this information? As he looked up, he silently asked God, are you helping me?
Suddenly a shooting star fell across the sky. William smiled a huge
smile. It was all the answer he needed.
"You want to call the FBI? You know they trace those calls? And say you DO get her number, then what? You going to call her? And say what? 'Hi, I'm your son remember me?' It's crazy. And what if you're wrong?"
William had thought about all that. "I just want to know where to find her, Josh, I'm not going to call her, at least not now. I might when I grow up. But for now I just want to know if she's still alive. It would be nice to hear her voice though."
"Then watch the tape again, man. Rewind it all you want. And why do we have to use MY phone? That's long distance, my parents will freak. They'll see it on the phone bill that we called the FBI, I'll be grounded for life!" Joshua was getting more and more uneasy.
William didn't know what to do, he knew he couldn't call from his house, Bob and Nancy would find out when the phone bill came in. If it were the school year they'd just tell them it was for a school project, but school was still two months away. Theoretically they could wait that long but William didn't want to. His plan was to tell Ms. Diane that they were curious about being FBI agents and decided to call and ask what you had to do to become one. Josh agreed that it might work, but he didn't want to get into trouble.
After an hour of begging and pleading, William finally agreed to give Josh five of his most valuable baseball cards. Joshua finally relented. William felt bad thinking about the cards, he loved baseball. He had even been asking Nancy about joining the Little League team, but some things were more important.
Finding the number for the Des Moines office wasn't difficult. In fact, all the field office numbers were listed on the internet. The problem was, they didn't know where to call. Dana Scully could be anywhere. From the Cops episode they had figured out that the agents had been in Los Angeles, but that didn't mean they were stationed there. They had agreed to call the Des Moines office, and maybe somebody there could point them in the right direction.
That Saturday the boys snagged the phone and went into the playroom at Josh's house. William stared at it for a full half hour without dialing it. It was driving Josh nuts. All that trouble and he couldn't even dial the number? William had written down on a piece of paper exactly what he wanted to say. He had no idea how seriously they would take a kid, he had to be as professional as possible. Finally, he decided that if his mother was brave enough to hunt invisible monsters and storm crack houses, the least he could do was make a lousy phone call. He picked up the phone and dialed.
His hand shook as the other end was picked up.
"FBI, Des Moines Office" said a woman's voice.
William swallowed hard, and said as bravely as he could muster, "Yes ma'am, I'm trying to locate an agent who is a relative and I need a phone number where she can be reached, can you help me or tell me who can?"
There was a brief silence, then the woman asked "What's the name please?"
"Dana Scully. She's a doctor too, Special Agent Dana Scully." William forced himself to breathe. There was some taping of computer keys heard over the line.
"Hmm, no I'm sorry, no one by that name at this office."
William figured as much. "She might be somewhere else, I really don't know where she is. I'm sorry, I know this is an inconvenience, but is there any way to look at the other offices, see if she's at one of them?"
The woman sighed and said "Just one moment please." More tapping.
After what seemed like an eternity, she finally came back, "I'm sorry, no Dana Scully listed in any of our databases."
William felt his heart drop. He hadn't expected that. She wasn't anywhere? Well that presented a major problem, his whole plan was built on the fact that she was still with the FBI, had she left? His mind raced and he found his answer.
"Will there be anything else?" asked the woman, sounding impatient. William knew she was tired of talking to a kid. She probably thought he was crank calling or something.
"Yes ma'am, please. Is there anyone named Skinner? I don't know where he is but I think he could be her boss." William crossed his fingers.
She sighed and tapped some more. Then, to William's relief, she said "Yes, there's an assistant director by that name, based at the Washington Main Office."
William sat up straight. "Could I have his number? And would you mind checking for Dana Scully at that office?"
"I can't give you the assistant director's main line, but I can give you his general office number. You'd get his secretary." she said.
"Fine, that's fine" said William as he scribbled down the number the woman gave him. He heard still more tapping.
"Young man, I'm sorry but there's no listing for Dana Scully." She sounded ready to hang up.
William tried to keep the panic out of his voice. "What about Fox Mulder, that's her partner. Is there a listing for him?"
There was a strange silence on the other end of the phone. Her voice sounded suddenly serious. "Fox Mulder? Who is this? Why are you calling again?"
William's flags went up. "Um, is there a problem?"
"I think I know who you're talking about now. I know Fox Mulder was a very controversial agent in the FBI, he was dismissed years ago. His partner, I believe, left the FBI a few years later ,and I think the last I had heard was that they were presumed dead. All information on them is considered classified, young man. I can't give you any information on them. Now why do you want to know about agents who have a high level of security all over there records whom have been dead for almost six years?" She sounded dead serious.
William began to feel sweat form on his brow and his heart nearly stopped. Dead? No they couldn't be! Trying to keep the forming tears out of his voice, he said, "I think Agent Scully is a relative. I'm trying to find about her, that's all, I promise. I didn't mean to cause trouble." Josh was looking at him with a panicked look, his face gone white.
William waved him down and asked the woman, "This might be a bad question, but can you tell me where they worked? Like, what department?"
The woman was quiet for a minute, then said "The X-Files division."
The X-Files? Sounded kinda neat.
"What's the X-Files?" he asked.
"Unexplainable cases. Not exactly where you want to end up either. They were quite unpopular from what I heard, but it's all rumors. I heard they had been shut down several times and recently, reopened again, three years ago." She sounded like she had paid a little more attention that that though.
William thought for a moment, then asked, "Who investigates it now?"
The woman sounded a little irritated but she looked anyway. "Special Agents John Doggett and Monica Reyes. They've been there a few years."
"Would it be possible for you to give me their numbers?" he asked.
"Young man, these are busy people."
William started to get tired of being talked down to, but he held it in. "Ma'am, please this is important. I don't know if they know anything, but maybe they can help me. Please?"
"They're be breaking protocol if they did tell you anything." she told him.
"Well, maybe they can tell me where to find other relatives then, maybe they would know something, anything. Please?" William was getting tired of begging.
The woman was quiet, then said, "Well it's their careers, not mine. Here's the number for the X-Files office."
William quickly wrote it down. Finally, after thanking the woman, he let her go and hung up.
Joshua was not happy to learn they would now be calling out of state, Washington D.C. no less. But he knew that if they had come this far, short of knocking him out there was no way to stop him. William was determined to find his answers and didn't seem to care how much trouble he got in. Besides, he would not believe his mother was dead. The woman had said she was "presumed" dead, not actually dead. Joshua remembered the Cops episode and realized that if Fox Mulder was indeed William's father, then that's probably where he got it, as the man didn't seem to care who looked at him sideways for chasing werewolves.
William was more embolded by his first call and decided to call Assistant Director Skinner's office first. He was the one his mother had mentioned on the Cops show, so he knew the man probably knew the two agents. William wasn't sure about Agents Doggett and Reyes. Just because they investigated the same cases his mother had didn't mean they knew her. But somewhere in the back of his mind he was getting that tingly feeling again.
For a minute, he closed his eyes and pictured the man and woman from his memories. What had his mother called them? Had it been John and Monica? It seemed so, but he wasn't sure. It sounded familiar though. But what would he say? He didn't know. Despite having been raised with religion, he seemed to put his faith in science and tangible facts more than most kids his age. But now, he hoped that God, if he was up there, would put the right words into his mouth.
He dialed the number. He got Skinner's secretary. She said Skinner was in a meeting and didn't sound at all willing to tell her boss that a kid was trying to talk to him. William could sense a dead end right away. He decided not to mention Scully or Mulder. He didn't want more trouble from the already hostile and somewhat suspicious woman. William decided he would only call back if nothing came of calling the X-Files office. He knew this was the Skinner his mother had called on the show, but it seemed that calling the FBI assistant director was going to have to be the last resort.
Finally, gathering up his courage again, he dialed the number for the X-Files office. The phone rang. And rang again.
Were they there? He had already decided not to leave any messages or have anyone call him back. They'd get into to trouble if suddenly FBI agents started calling their houses. As the phone rang for the fourth time, William decided they must be out, he would just have to try later. As he moved the phone away from his ear, suddenly he heard it pick up.
"X-Files division, Monica Reyes."
William froze. Where had he heard that voice before?
Special Agent Monica Reyes was late for a doctor's appointment and was on her way out the office when the phone rang. Her partner, John Doggett, had left already and she was locking up. They had been called in on a Saturday by Skinner to answer some questions about their last case. It had also taken some arm-twisting to get her doctor to see her on a Saturday for her checkup, since her weekdays were so crazy and she was running late.
Her first impulse had been to let the machine answer it, but after seven years on the X-Files, she had developed what the agents who investigated the X-Files before her had called "just that feeling." Actually she had a good dose of it before working on the X-Files, to the point of being downright psychic. And right now her hunches were telling her answer the phone.
She grabbed it right before the machine and answered it. For a moment the line was silent.
"Hello?" she asked again. She started to press the button for call trace, wondering if it was just a wrong number, when a small voice answered. A child's voice.
"Umm, hello? Agent Reyes?" It was a little boy. What was this about?
"I'm sorry," she said, "I think you have the wrong number."
"No I don't," came the reply. "I was hoping to get you or John Doggett. Please, do you have a minute? It's kind of important and this isn't a crank call, I promise."
Monica was intrigued. She could sense this was a smart kid, and maybe he DID need help.
"What can I do for you?" she asked.
William felt himself breathe again. The woman on the other end sounded good natured enough. Maybe she wouldn't bite his head off when he asked her what he was about to ask her.
"This is going to sound a little strange, but I'm looking for a relative and I think you might be able to help me find her." he said.
Monica smiled, "Well that's not really what we do in this department, actually. I can connect you to Missing Persons. Or maybe I should talk to your parents? Are they there?"
William said, "No ma'am, it's not really a missing persons. She used to work in your division, I was hoping maybe you or Mr. Doggett would have met her or remembered her. Dana Scully?"
Instantly Monica's alarms went off. "You're looking for Dana Scully?"
William said, "Yes ma'am, I think she might be a relative and..."
"That's impossible, young man," said Monica. "All of Dana Scully's relatives know not to call here any more and they know that I don't know where she is or how to find her. What's more, I know all of her relatives personally and you don't sound like any of them. Now who is this and what are you really after?"
William felt his heart sink. Why did everyone get so defensive about Dana Scully? What had she done? But another part of his mind took note of the fact that Agent Reyes spoke of Dana Scully in the present tense. She was alive! She must be and Agent Reyes knew it! But how could he get her to tell him anything? He gulped, and said, "My name's William Van de Kamp. I know this sounds weird, but I think she might be..."
Monica cut him off. "William? Your name's William?" She sounded half incredulous and half afraid.
"Yes ma'am." he said uncertainly. "I'm adopted and I think she might be my birth mother, and see..."
Again Monica cut him off. "William listen to me and listen carefully. If you are who you say you are, then you don't know what trouble you're in."
William froze. Trouble? What trouble? Agent Reyes didn't sound mad, she sounded scared. Of him? But why?
Meanwhile Monica was in chaos. Was this really William? Dana Scully's baby William? He sounded about the right age. But how the hell had he found out about Dana, the X-Files, or where to call? Actually, she was surprised that she was surprised. Given who his parents were, it was almost expected, but at 7 years old? But that wasn't important now. As much as she would have loved to question him further, she couldn't take the risks, she had to stop him now.
"William, I want you to listen to me and listen carefully, because I'm only going to say this once. I want you to hang up the phone and never call back here again, do you understand?"
William was stunned. "But why? I didn't mean to cause trouble, I was just curious, I promise."
Monica said, "I know it's hard to understand, but Dana isn't here anymore and she hasn't been for a long time. I don't know where she is. What's more, you could be in danger if anyone traces this call. You need to hang up now. It won't matter if I hang up first, as long as the line's open they can still trace, you need to hang up before they trace this call. I know this phone is bugged, people are listening now."
"Why would anyone want to know where I am, I didn't do anything wrong did I?" he asked.
Monica was getting frantic. If she didn't get him off the line fast, everything Dana had worked so hard for to protect her son would soon be for nothing. She had to make him understand.
"Yes, Dana's your mother, if you are who you say you are. While she was an agent, she and your father, they put alot of bad guys behind bars. Well those bad guys had friends. Those friends got mad at your parents and they came after you. Your mom had to give you up to keep you safe. But some of those bad guys have ears in the FBI. They pay to hear conversations like this. If they know where you are, they'll come after you. I don't want to scare you but it's the truth."
Monica drew in a breath and continued. "I'm sorry, baby. I really am. I can't imagine what you went through to get this far, but it needs to stop here. You're safe where you are and right now so are your parents. They gave up alot to keep you safe, now please, don't make it all for nothing. Hang up the phone, NOW!"
William felt like he had hit the jackpot, only to have it taken away. So Agent Reyes had known BOTH of his parents? She knew what he needed to know, he was sure. But was she telling the truth? Was someone after him?
"OK, thanks, and goodbye," he said.
"Take care, kid," she said and waited to make sure he hung up before hanging up herself. She stood there looking at the phone for a full two minutes, before gathering up her stuff. She forgot about her appointment, she had to find John, and fast. On a hunch, she hit redial on the phone.
The phone rang three times before a woman's voice answered, "Hello, this is Diane. Hello?" Monica hung up.
Damn, that meant the call could be traced. She ran out of the office, on her way to find John. He had to know about this. Their godson, whom they hadn't seen in 6 years, could now be in terrible danger.
Meanwhile, William sat back and stared at the wall. What now? Joshua was frantic. When the phone rang again they both jumped to the ceiling and waited for Josh's mom to answer. They both held their breaths as she hung up the phone mumbling about wrong numbers.
"That's it man, no more! We are going to be in so much trouble. If the Sopranos come get me and my family in the middle of the night it'll be your fault. Look man, I don't mind helping you out looking for your parents but they're some kind of secret agents who got mixed up in some crap and had to give you away to keep you alive. That lady is a trained agent and she sounded freaked. And if she's scared, you better believe I am. And what am I supposed to tell my mom when the FEDS show up to arrest us all?"
William stood up. "Josh it's OK, they don't put kids in prison, not like on tv anyway. And you're right, that's enough. I found out alot anyway. So my parents are alive and in hiding and I sort of know why they gave me up. I don't want to get into trouble either."
He looked over at Josh, his only friend who had gone way beyond the call of duty to help him, putting himself and his sister in trouble for it. William smiled at him softly.
"Listen Josh, I really appreciate everything. I do. I won't ask you to do any more. If there's something I have to do, I'll find another way. But I'm not digging anymore. Not now anyway. Maybe I better wait until I'm at least 18 or something. I'm really sorry."
Josh relaxed a little. Hey, they hadn't been caught yet, maybe they'd get away this time. But what about the bad guys? He hoped nobody had traced the call. He was glad Bible school retreat was tomorrow. The buses would take them out to the Boy Scout day camp for the day and bring them home later, they'd be away and doing something else. Maybe William would stay out of trouble.
Later that night William lay wide awake in bed, replaying the conversations in his head over and over again. It was Monica Reyes' voice he remembered the most, and he realized he had heard it before. She was the young dark haired woman he remembered. He heard his mother call her Monica. And the man must be her partner, John Doggett.
But what about what she had said? Her voice had sounded friendly and sunny until he mentioned Dana Scully and told her who he was. Then she sounded afraid. What was she afraid of? Should he be afraid? Probably so. Every sound he heard made him jump and every creak of the old house was a bad guy coming up the stairs for him. He wanted to tell Bob and Nancy everything, but he knew he'd be in a ton of trouble. He decided to wait and see. He'd only tell them if he had to.
But he kept thinking about his mother, and his father. Fox Mulder, he
realized. He had known, he had known without being told. What on earth
had they done?
"...don't you hurt my baby! I'll kill you if you hurt my baby!..."
Flashes of light, looming dark figures, fire, darkness, a brilliant light in the sky, his mother, his grandmother(?), a mobile with stars on it that moved when he looked at it...
But there was another dream, a strange one. Not a nightmare, in fact compared to the rest, it was pretty good. He was little, learning to walk, between Bob and Nancy, on a beach. Weird, he had never been anywhere much less a beach. In the distance a familiar man watched. It was Fox Mulder. He looked on with a smile at William's shaky steps.
Then he was older, still on the beach, this time alone. He was trying to build something out of the sand when a wave washed it away.
He was disappointed but then Mulder was there, kneeling next to him.
"Hey, buddy, it's OK, you can build it again. Just build it again," he said with a warm smile and put a comforting hand on William's back.
William smiled and felt a wonderful glow for the man next to him. But then there was another man, standing over them smoking a cigarette, looking coldly at them and the beach faded with a chill.
After what seemed like an endless night, he woke to Nancy shaking him awake. "Come on, honey. You'll miss the bus for Bible Camp. Your dad's already filled up the motorcycle, unless you want us to drive you to the bus stop? Ms. Tammy's driving by at 7:30, so come on, let's go."
William groaned. He didn't feel too good. His head hurt and his stomach felt slightly uneasy. He didn't feel rested at all. He hauled himself out of bed and got dressed. Grabbing his backpack, he headed downstairs for breakfast. He had packed his backpack the night before, throwing in everything he could think of. It was only a day camp but he had thrown in an extra change of clothes in case he decided to jump in the lake or something.
He wasn't sure why, but he had also packed his wallet and the tape with the Cops episode on it. He didn't know why he wanted to bring the tape, but he didn't want Nancy to find it. He didn't stop to question whether she would watch a tape with MegloMania Man on the label. He had thrown in a poncho in case it rained and he stuffed his lunch down in there too.
He got up to leave, then on impulse ran over to Nancy and gave her a hug. She was surprised, but pleased. He was acting strange, she thought. She hoped he wasn't getting sick, he didn't look too good. She wanted to drive him to the bus stop but he wanted to ride that damn little minibike, so she relented. That thing made her nervous.
William bounded out the door to the driveway where Bob had cranked the bike for him. William gave Bob a big hug too. Bob grinned.
"Have fun today, son. Watch out for bears." he winked.
William grinned, "Sure. Love you, Bob." And with that he took off. Bob was happy with the display of affection. Maybe the kid was finally coming around. He whistled as he set off to get the tractor.
William rode his bike up to the bush with the tarp and hid the bike under it, then walked the final 50 yards to the highway. Ms. Tammy, the bus driver who drove his route during the school year, would come by with the bus soon. He didn't know why, but he felt a chill, even though it was July. Suddenly he felt a little afraid. What was he doing out here a mile away from anyone all by himself? What if someone came and got him? Why hadn't he let Nancy drive him down and wait with him?
'Get real,' he told himself. 'you're the son of FBI agents, suck it up. Nothing threatening or dangerous ever happens in Midville, it's safe here. The worst thing that ever happened in this town was when those football guys drove that girl out to Mill Lane and hurt her somehow. Wonder why Bob didn't want to tell me what they did? Anyway, that was the only thing that ever happened and that girl's still alive.'
The bus pulled up and William all but scrambled on in relief. He was even happier to see Josh, looking every bit as tired as him but still safe. By unspoken agreement, they didn't mention the call to the FBI the day before, but stuck to neutral topics. The bus drove for an hour to the Boy Scout camp where churches from surrounding areas would bring their Bible camps.
For the rest of the day, William was able to enjoy himself. He told himself that even if someone traced his call, no way they would look for him way out here. He and Josh joined the other kids in a game of hide and seek, and went through the activities happily. As they sat around a campfire at lunch time, someone played the only gospel song William really liked enough to know the words to, "Shout to the Lord." He sang along with the other kids.
"Shout to the Lord
Nancy often sang "Michael row your boat to shore" which William liked too, but this song had a catchy tune to it. As he sang along at the top of his lungs, he thought about Bob and Nancy, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, even agent Reyes back there in Washington D.C. All these people who cared for him. All could claim some part of him in some way. He realized he loved his adopted parents and he always had. They didn't deserve to have him sneaking behind their backs. And his birth parents had tried to protect him by hiding him, while they themselves had to hide.
How hard had it been to give him up? So many people had tried to keep him safe and happy, and he decided he wasn't going to make it harder for them. He wasn't going to call anymore or search anymore. Not now anyway. He was too young and there was still trouble. He'd grow up on the farm, but he knew he'd never stay in Midville. Maybe someday he'd even meet his real parents, or maybe relatives. Monica Reyes said she knew his relatives, and maybe he'd meet her too.
With the decision made, he felt his mood lighten. Finally, around 3 pm the camp drew to a close and they boarded the bus for home. Joshua invited him to come by the next day, a bunch of other boys, minus Jimmy Henderson and his gang, were going to start practicing baseball at the school to try out for the baseball team the next school year. William smiled and agreed. It would be nice to do something normal at least once during this summer. He waved goodbye to Josh and the bus headed for the farmlands.
But as they drew nearer to the farm, he felt the uneasiness return, and stronger this time. He tried to shake the feeling but couldn't. By the time he got off the bus and headed for where his minibike was hidden, he was starting to feel nervous. What was wrong? He looked around the woods around him, every sense alert. He couldn't sense anyone lurking in the trees. He grabbed the bike and pulled the starter cord. He quickly rode towards home.
But the closer he got to the farm, the worse his stomach started to feel. The hairs on the back of his neck were standing up and he was deeply afraid, but of what he didn't know. Finally he simply pulled the bike to a stop. Two more curves in the road and he would ride out into the open land in front of the farm. But somewhere, his instinct was telling him not to go any further. But why?
Later on, when he would have the chance to think about it, William would never be able to explain why he did what he did next. He didn't know, sitting on his minibike in the middle of the wooded road, that his father operated much the same way, following vague hunches and drawing on incredible dumb luck. But for whatever reason, he didn't ride on. Instead, his thumb flicked the kill switch on the handlebars and the minibike engine died without a sound.
He pulled it into the bushes, then started straight through the woods. The road itself was a mile and a half from the highway, but straight through the woods was shorter. He was only a hundred yards or so from the clearing and the fields. As he came to the edge, he felt his heart start to race as he looked out at the house.
An unfamiliar black SUV was parked in front of the house. He had never seen a vehicle like that in this town. Most people had secondhand cars or pickup trucks. A few families in the rich neighborhood had SUV's but not a black one. A man in a dark suit was standing in front of the house. Who was he? William began to circle around the treeline to get closer without being seen. He reached out with his mind, trying to sense what was going on. Almost immediately he felt an indescribable coldness invade his mind and the image of the looming figure over his crib flashed.
Evil. He felt evil. And there was more than one. As he looked, another man's head poked out from the upstairs window of his bedroom. What were strangers doing in his house, in his room? Suddenly it all became clear. The phone call had been traced, these are the ones Monica Reyes had warned him about. What about Josh? They had made the call from his house, was Josh's family in trouble? And where were Bob and Nancy?
He looked around frantically and saw the tractor in the partially mowed field. Bob would never leave the tractor out like that. Where was he?
William circled more to get a better look. That's when he noticed someone lying on the ground beside the tractor. Keeping low so as not to be seen, he ran across the field of high grass and reached the tractor. He stopped in his tracks when he saw who it was.
It was Bob. William shook his head in disbelief, then ran to his adopted father and threw himself on him, shaking him, begging him to get up. Bob was already cold and his head lolled around unnaturally. His neck was broken. He was dead.
William wanted to scream, scream like he never had before. Only some sense of self preservation reminded him of the strange men up at the house. His mind suddenly did something it never had before, it flashed to what had happened as much as if William had been right there. He could see Bob up on the tractor when a man came out from the woods walking towards him. Bob had called out asking if he were lost or broken down, but the man had not responded. Bob had called again, but the man didn't walk like a lost motorist or anything. He walked calmly and with purpose. And he never said a word. Bob had become suspicious but it was too late. The man had grabbed him with incredible force and held him up by his neck, demanding to know where the boy was. When Bob didn't answer, the man had squeezed. There was a crack and then nothing. The man had dropped Bob like so much garbage and walked up to the house where the SUV had pulled up. William felt himself ready to be sick.
Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob!!! He screamed mentally over and over. This is my fault, this is all my fault, he thought with despair. His father, the only father he had known, was lying on the ground in front of him dead. Nancy would never forgive him if she knew it was he who set all this in motion by trying to find his birth parents.
William looked up quickly. Where was Nancy? He closed his eyes and his mind reached out, looking for the woman who was his mother in so many ways except by blood. He couldn't find her. For a moment he breathed a sigh of relief. She must be away somewhere, but how to warn her not to come back?
Then his eyes fell on the truck beside the barn. It was the only vehicle they owned. She couldn't have gone anywhere without it and people rarely came all the way out here to pick her up unless Bob was off somewhere with the truck. So she must still be here.
That's when he knew the truth. She WAS here, and like Bob, she was dead. That's why he couldn't find her. She must have been inside the house when the men came, that's probably where she still was.
Tears flooded his eyes as sorrow and despair washed over him. He was 7 years old, and now he was an orphan. How could he ever forgive himself? What was he going to do? But just as suddenly as it had come, suddenly it was gone and the tears dried up. Survival kicked in.
He didn't have time to grieve, he couldn't afford to. He was in terrible danger here. He was in a wide open space and if they saw him, they'd come after him. He had to get help. But how? He was in the middle of nowhere, the nearest farm was 7 miles away, as was town. He had to get back to town without being seen and get to Sheriff Marcus' office. He also had to make sure Joshua was OK and warn him.
The minibike, he could take the minibike.
Staying low and praying they didn't see (or worse sense) him, he made it back to the trees and crawled safely away. As soon as he was sure he could not be seen, he stood up and ran as fast as he could back to where he had hidden the bike. He found it where he had left it, but didn't want to ride it along the road. What if the SUV came driving up behind him? He pushed it through the trees towards the highway. He would ride it back to town, but stay off the roads so as not to be seen. He would have to cut through the farm fields.
He was scared, more scared than he had ever been in his life. He looked at the gas gauge and frowned. Bob had filled the tank this morning, but a minibike was not meant for long term travel. It was meant to be ridden for an hour or two out in level fields, not for miles across farmlands. Plus it's top speed was only about 20-25 miles an hour. It would take him some 45 minutes to get back to town and he had already ridden it to the bus stop that morning and most of the way home this afternoon, would he make it?
He had to. He cranked the engine, praying no one would hear it, and climbed on. He rode to the highway, then, staying behind the trees, started for town. He felt his heart racing. He had never been allowed to drive this far on his bike before and certainly not to town. What if they found him before he got there? The drive to town on his painfully slow minibike was the longest trip he could ever remember taking.
Right as the gas in the tank gave out, he coasted to a stop right behind Josh's neighborhood near the main street. He hid the bike and headed for Josh's house, then stopped. Should he go to Joshua's right away or go to the police first? The way he saw it, there were a few things to consider. If he went to Josh's house first and the bad guys were there, there wasn't anything he could do but go to the police. If he went and no one was there, he could get Ms. Diane to call Sheriff Marcus for him and he could stay there out of sight until help arrived. On the other hand, if anyone had found him at all it was because his calls had been traced and he had made them from Josh's house.
Which meant they'd probably look there for him. But wouldn't they watch the police station too? He decided he had to go to the police first. If they didn't believe him, he'd go to Josh's house on his own. Either way he had to warn them. He turned back into the bushes and headed the other way to the police station at the end of the main street. Keeping to the bushes, he finally made it to the parking lot and was about to head for the door, when suddenly the black SUV pulled up.
He froze in fear. The man in the black suit stepped out and he appeared to be alone. Where was the other man? William watched in fear as the man in the suit walked up to the door, which opened and Sheriff Marcus came out and shook hands with him. They showed each other badges.
Badges? Who was this strange man? Whoever he was, William sensed the darkness in him and knew he had something to do with his parents' deaths. But he seemed to be a cop. Then he remembered what Monica Reyes had said on the phone, that those bad guys chasing his real parents had friends in the FBI. Or WERE in the FBI or something. Now it made sense. But what was he supposed to do, walk up to the Sheriff and accuse the man of killing his parents? No way would anyone believe him!
He backed away slowly and went to sit by a bush. What was he supposed to do now? They were waiting for him to show up. Which meant they were probably watching Josh's house too. Were they OK? He decided to make sure and carefully crept down the street and over to where he could see the driveway to Joshua's house.
He saw their cars parked there and no sign of the black SUV. He reached out with his mind and found Josh's parents and sister, and Josh himself, all ok. But he felt a slight chill as well. He peeked through the bushes and saw a man standing on a corner a few blocks away. He realized this was the man who had been in his house. He didn't seem to make any move to Josh's house, and William figured the man was waiting for him to show up.
Slowly, he crept back to where his now useless bike was and wondered if he should try to "borrow" a regular bike. And then go where? He sank down, feeling lost. He couldn't trust anyone and the ones he could trust would be in danger if he tried to get to them. He needed help, but who?
Suddenly the face of the woman from his memories, the dark haired one, came to him. Monica Reyes? Would she help? But how? She was in Washington, how would he get a hold of her? He needed a phone, but where could he get to one without being seen? And how would he pay for a call?
His eyes fell on Joe's Diner a few doors down from the police station. Maybe he could use their phone. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized he needed to stay out of sight. As he watched, the back door opened and Moe Muller, who worked as a busboy, came out with some bags of trash. An idea hit him as he watched and as quickly as he could, he rushed over to the dumpster next to the back door. As Moe went back in, William darted out from behind it and caught the door before it closed and locked. Peeking in, he didn't see anyone in the back.
Moe had gone back up front. Quietly as a mouse, he crept to the door of the back office, a small closet actually, with a desk inside loaded down with papers. No one was inside, Joe and his wife Betty ran the diner from up front. William carefully walked into the office and found the phone. Ducking down behind the desk, he searched his memory for the number to the X-Files office in Washington D.C. Quickly as he could, he dialed the number, hoping with everything he had that someone would be there on a Sunday.
The phone rang several times, but it had before. He mentally willed someone, anyone, to pick up the damn phone. It's not like he'd have alot of opportunities to make phone calls later on. To his despair, the machine picked up.
"You have reached the X-Files division, John Doggett and Monica Reyes. Please leave your name and number and we'll return your call as soon as possible. Thank you."
There was a beep. Now what? He couldn't wait here in the office for them to call back. And what if they were out for a long time? It could be days before they even heard that message, and then what? There was no guarantee Doggett and Reyes would help. But what choice did he have? None he realized. He had to leave some kind of message, and tell someone what was going on.
With a hard swallow, he started to speak. "Umm, Agent Reyes? This is William Van de Kamp again. I know you said not to call back, but this time it's an emergency. They came after me, like you said, my parents are dead and they're after me..."
Suddenly the line picked up. William about jumped out of his skin when he heard Monica's voice.
"William? What's going on?"
God he was glad to hear her. As quickly as he could, fighting back the tears he knew were in his eyes and his voice, he told her what had happened. He told her about the man in the dark suit and black SUV at his house and at the police station.
"What makes you think he was involved?" she asked. "How do you know he wasn't there investigating?"
"I just know," said William, although he knew that wouldn't cut it. "Besides, while he was poking around, I found Bob lying in the field next to the tractor. Why weren't they there covering him up and lining him around with chalk or something?"
"Maybe they hadn't found him yet?" she offered.
"I don't want to take the chance," he said. "You said there were bad guys in the FBI listening. I just know he's one of them. Anyway I don't know him and I don't trust him or anyone. And he's getting chummy with the Sheriff."
Monica tried to hide her surprise at the kid's maturity for his age. He was probably right and even if he wasn't, she wasn't about to risk Mulder and Scully's son's life on the chance she was wrong. After he had called, she had the call traced to a small town not far away from Des Moines. She had already booked a flight for her and Doggett for that afternoon, she wanted to check things out herself.
John, as usual, had been skeptical that it was really William. He had asked her repeatedly if she was sure it was. But like her he wanted to make sure. Even if the kid wasn't the right William, someone else might not think so and go after him anyway. So he had agreed to the trip and was on his way to pick her up at that moment. She had come into the office on the weekend with the excuse of doing catch up work, but actually had been waiting for a call like this. Her gut feeling was seldom wrong and she just knew there would be trouble. She didn't know if he would call her again after she told him not to, but he was Mulder's son, that meant he probably would disobey orders anyway. She had been right.
"OK, listen to me," she said. "Me and John are on our way there right now. I was going to come check things out anyway, just to make sure. You say you can't trust the police and they're watching your friend's house? Ok then, I need you to find someplace good to hide for a few hours. It'll take us three hours to get there and another hour or two to get to Midville. That means you have to hole up somewhere for about 5 hours, can you do that?"
William checked his watch, it was nearly 7 PM. That meant she wouldn't be here until around midnight tonight. Where was he going to hide where they couldn't find him? He knew the town blindfolded, and he knew several hiding places, but somewhere he could hide for 5 hours? Or more? What if he had to go to the bathroom? And chances are the cops would be out looking for him. Could he hide at school somewhere? No, they'd probably check there. On the other hand, maybe no one knew he was in town. The last anyone had seen him was when Ms. Tammy had dropped him off at the farm.
But most people knew he had a minibike, even if the range wasn't very far. Would they know he made it to town on the tiny vehicle? Could he steal some gas, refill it, and just take off down the highway? But how would Monica find him? And how would he know it was her and not another bad guy? He had to find someplace in town to hide, but someplace they would never think to look. Someplace they wouldn't hide themselves. Someplace he would never hide unless his life depended on it, which it did.
"William?" she asked. He had been quiet a long time.
"I can find somewhere to hide, but how will I know you're here when you get here? And how will I know it's you?" he asked.
"Hmm, OK how about this? Do you plan on hiding somewhere near the police station?"
"I don't think I better say anything like that on this line" he said.
Damn this kid was good! Any doubts she might have had lingering as to whether or not this was her friends' son vanished.
"OK, then, find someplace and lay low until around midnight, OK? Me and John will be there by 12:30, maybe 1 am at the latest. I know that's late and I know you're tired, but can you hold on until then? I need you to hide until then. I'll go out in back of the station and call your name 3 times. Then you'll know it's me"
He asked, "What if someone's listening now and does the same thing? What if someone pretends to be you and I go up to them?"
"Then you'll see two people standing there, one of them will be me because I WILL be there, and if someone else is there I'm arresting their sorry ass, OK?" she said.
That was good enough for him, he didn't have time to argue details. He had to get out of here before anyone saw him.
"OK then, see you soon." he said.
"Hang tough kid, we'll be there as fast as we can," she said.
They hung up and he carefully slipped out of the office. He managed to make it out the back and to the woods without attracting attention. But now he had to find someplace to hide. He looked down the street and saw the crowd gathering at the police station. To his relief, he saw Sheriff Marcus and a few other cops walking in with Joshua's family. Even if they were under arrest, at least they were safe now. But what about him?
He knew that if Josh's family was in there then soon they would be looking for him, if they weren't already. Where should he hide? He walked almost aimlessly back towards Josh's neighborhood, with the vague notion of hiding in someone's garage or something. But whose? They'd be watching Josh's house. As he rounded the edge of the neighborhood along the line of trees, he came to Jimmy Henderson's backyard. Suddenly he grinned. No one would look for him here and it was a perfect setup.
Jimmy's older brother, Robbie, had his own small apartment setup over the garage in what had once been an attic. Mr. Henderson had converted the one huge room into two rooms, one a bedroom and the other a combination living room and kitchenette, not that Robbie ever cooked anything, he simply ate with the family. Since it was summer, Robbie was out with his friends every night drinking beer up on Mill Lane until 3 in the morning, often getting into drunken fights and other craziness, which gave the bored police something to do.
William crawled up to the garage from the woods. No lights were on and Robbie's new sports car, from his father's lot, was gone. Checking around to see if anyone was looking, William slid up the stairs to the door and checked the handle. Irresponsible as ever, Robbie had actually left it open. Carefully, William slid inside and looked around. No one was here. His mind searched every corner, but he was the only living thing here. He turned around and locked both locks and prayed Robbie would stay out late like he always did. With all the excitement in town, the cops wouldn't be out to Mill Lane tonight, so hopefully he would. On the other hand if they all heard what was going on, they might come back early to see what was happening.
The air conditioner kicked in and William felt a blessed blast of cool air hit him. He realized that if anyone decided to come after him here, with only one exit he was effectively trapped. But he felt safe here for now. He only had to spend a few hours laying low, and this was perfect. It was locked, air conditioned and had a bathroom, which, he realized, he needed to use. He didn't turn on any lights as he used the restroom, then came back out into the den. He picked up his backpack and slid into a corner behind the couch and stretched out. For the first time in hours, he felt himself relax and realized how tired he was.
He had had a full day at camp (God was that today?) only to come home and realize the true excitement had only started. He hadn't eaten since lunch as was hungry, and incredibly thirsty. He got up and carefully crept into the kitchenette. He cracked open the refrigerator and found only beer and a moldy pizza.
Yuck. He found a glass and ran some water. He gulped it down and refilled the glass twice. His thirst quenched, he checked around for some snacks. He found some bread and peanut butter and made himself two sandwiches. He found a bag of potato chips and ate several handfuls, washing down with some more water.
That settled he returned to his corner and curled up out of sight. He reached out as far as he could with his mind, looking for danger. Jimmy's parents were inside the house watching tv, Jimmy was upstairs playing a video game. He could vaguely feel the neighbors in their houses, most settling down for the night. There didn't seem to be anyone lurking around, not yet anyway.
He set his wristwatch alarm to go off at midnight in case he fell asleep, which was becoming a strong possibility. He yawned deeply and turned over, using his backpack for a pillow. There weren't any on the sofa and he didn't want to move anything in Robbie's bedroom. He felt the sharp edge of the Cops tape in his backpack. Why had he brought it?
Now that he thought about it, he had packed for day camp like he was going away for a long time. He felt in a side pocket for one of his most treasured possessions, a small white wooden buffalo that had been on a mobile over his crib as a baby. Bob had carved it. It was wrapped in a handkerchief Nancy had embroidered for him with a white buffalo and his name on it. He felt the tears come again. He tried to force them down, but the reality of his situation was starting to hit home for him, now that he wasn't in any immediate danger.
He was still in fight or flight mode, survival having kicked in. His heart was still pounding a little faster than normal, his breathing was a little faster. The adrenaline was still going, even though he had settled down some.
Bob and Nancy. It was all his fault, he thought in agony. If only I hadn't called! If only I had left everything alone! But how could I know? I had no reason to expect anyone would be killed by trying to call an FBI agent! How could I have known? He hoped up in heaven they would forgive him. He hoped God would forgive him. Surely this had to rank somewhere in the category of sins that sent one to hell, getting one's parents killed.
Why had I never called them Mom or Dad? He kept asking himself questions over and over, feeling the tears flow. He had to keep quiet though, and only the thought of being heard and found kept his real grief at bay. He was a scared little boy now, orphaned and alone with faceless enemies who had murdered his parents looking for him alongside the police.
He forced himself to stop thinking about being hunted and found here, less he drive himself into a panic. Part of him didn't want to be cornered like this, but the other half didn't want to be out in the open either. He forced himself to think about the agents coming from Washington to get him.
Could he trust them?
Yes. He knew he could. How he knew was another story, but Monica had said she knew Dana Scully's relatives personally, and had spoken to him like she knew him already. From what he remembered, she might even have babysat him a couple times, if she were the same woman in his memories. And who was the older woman he remembered? He felt both excited and afraid of the upcoming meeting.
These were people who had known his parents, his birth parents. Monica had been afraid for his safety and had been planning to come anyway, so that meant she wanted to keep him safe and alive. Right now that's what he wanted most, for an adult to take charge and protect him. The cops wouldn't do it if they didn't know the man in the dark suit with the badge was really a bad guy. If he said he was FBI they'd probably give William to him and that would be the last anyone ever saw of him. Josh's family had no way of keeping him safe from these people if Bob and Nancy hadn't been able to.
He was in turmoil and wanted nothing more than to be home, in his own bed, listening to his parents talking or getting ready for bed. Tomorrow he'd help Bob with the farm and Nancy in the garden. He'd ride his minibike out in the fields, maybe go walking along the creek. He'd finish some of his science projects, or build something out in the barn.
No he wouldn't. He knew without being told that he would never do those things again. The life he had known was over, his parents were dead, and nothing would ever be the same. He sobbed quietly.
This is not happening, this can't be happening. This is not happening...he kept saying to himself over and over.
Quietly he hummed "Joy to the World" under his breath until he grew tired of it. He hummed "Shout to the Lord" then finally found himself humming Nancy's favorite, "Michael row your boat to shore."
Bob had told him only yesterday they had wanted to name him Michael, but he had come at the age of 9 months with the name William, and would only answer to that, so they kept the name William.
Restless as he was, sleep finally came to him, although he only dozed. It seemed to him that no time was passing at all. He flitted in and out of a hypogognic state of half wakefullness and half almost-dreams when his alarm went off. He shot up and quickly pushed the button to silence it. The watch read 12:30 AM. It was after midnight.
Monica had said it was a three hour flight. That had been at seven. It was an hour drive from Des Moines and factoring in time in traffic in Washington, they should be here by now. He tried reaching out with his mind, but his range was only about 100 yards. Suddenly he was scared to death. What if someone nabbed him before he got to the back of the police station? They would never know what happened to him. He searched again and again found no one lurking in the shadows. He didn't want to leave the safety of Robbie's loft, but he knew he had to.
With a plea to God for safety, he gathered up his things and went to the door. He carefully peeked out, then quickly snuck down the stairs and darted for the woods. He fell under a bush and lay still waiting for anyone to grab him, but no one was around. With more terror than he had ever felt in his life, he moved as quietly as he could towards the police station. It suddenly seemed miles away. The slow careful walk seemed to take forever. Finally he came up behind the building and crouched down in a thicket. There was a light illuminating the back area, but no one was there.
Where was she? What if she didn't come? He felt tears again. What was he going to do? His mind raced. He'd go back to the Henderson's and look for some gas for his minibike. He hoped it hadn't been found, he hadn't hid it too well. He'd fill it up and drive as far away as it would take him, away from the danger here. If he had to walk or hide in someone's truck he was going to get far away. The plan, though unrealistic, gave him something to fall back on, and eased his pounding heart some.
Monica Reyes, where are you?? He mentally called out.
Suddenly he heard voices, a man and a woman talking.
"...don't know, John. I went out and called but he wasn't there yet. God I hope they haven't got him!"
"Relax, Monica, he sounds like a smart kid. Don't forget whose son he is, I'll bet he probably fell asleep somewhere. I bet we don't find him until morning. He won't get too far anyway, not without his bike. They found that little motorcycle of his in the woods a few yards away. Got it locked up in the office as evidence or something. And that kid Josh named about a million hiding places. We might have a hard time looking in the dark, might have to wait until the sun's up."
"God don't say that! We can't afford to wait that long, we don't know who's around here. WE need to find him, and we need to find him soon. God, what am I going to tell Dana if we lose him? I saw her when she gave him up, it nearly destroyed her. If THEY get him it'll kill her. And Fox? I don't even want to think about it."
They came into sight under the light, and looked around. The woman called out.
Three times, just like she said. He wanted to run to her right away but he hesitated. Could he really trust them? Then he got a good look. The woman had straight long dark hair. And her face. It was the same one he remembered. This was the woman from his memories! And the man was the same too.
Monica was desperate. She HAD to find that kid! What if he was hurt or already dead? John was feeling the same despair too, and both were having a strong sense of deja vu from the time they had looked for John's son, Luke. He had also been 7 but they had not found him in time to save him.
Monica called out desperately, "WILLIAM answer me!"
She dropped her head into her left hand and fought back tears. John was beside her in an instant, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"Hey now, come on. Don't yell too loud, you'll bring everyone else. We'll find him Monica, I swear..."
He broke off and stared at the boy who had stepped into the light. William didn't even realize he had been moving until he found himself standing in front of them. Both of them stared at him in amazement. They had seen a black and white school picture from the yearbook that was being passed around of him. But here, they saw the real thing.
Monica saw, even in the dim light, that the boy had Dana's coloring, the straight red hair and bright blue eyes, but he had Mulder's nose and facial features. He was tall and thin like his father, but somewhat fine boned like his mother. He was probably quick and fast.
William studied the man and woman in front of him. Monica smiled suddenly and he remembered that smile, her mouth tightly closed like she was trying not to bust out laughing at church or at a funeral or something. Her eyes twinkled. John's smile was warm too. He felt his senses telling him with these two, he'd be safe and cared for.
Monica held out a hand. He ran to her and she grabbed him and picked him up into a tight hug.
She sobbed into his shoulder, "Thank god, thank god you're safe!"
She squeezed him tightly and he hugged her back hard. They were strangers, and yet he finally felt safe. John was shaking him slowly.
"You alright? Hurt anywhere?"
"No sir," he answered. Then he stopped. He had to know the truth. Swallowing hard, he looked at John.
"Are my parents dead?"
John Doggett took a deep breath. God this was gonna hurt. Then he looked the kid square in the eye. "Yeah, son, they are. Both of them. I'm real sorry. I know that sucks to hear, but it's true. I am sorry, I really am."
William buried his head in Monica's shoulder and started to cry. Somewhere in the back of his mind he had been hoping it was all a misunderstanding, but now he knew it wasn't.
"Where are they?" he asked.
"The hospital, the paramedics took them there. We called the Sheriff right after you called us at the office and he went out there and found them. He also said some FBI agent had dropped by about some kids making crank calls to the FBI in Des Moines, called up your friend Josh. He and his parents are still in there, we asked them to keep them there until we knew what was going on. Nobody's seen that man in hours though." said Monica.
John held out his arms and William went to him. The man's strong arms were comforting as he turned and said, "Come on, let's get him inside. It's all people we checked out in there, no one's gonna hurt you. And we're here now."
They carried him inside the police station, with Monica calling out that they had found him behind the station. Everyone in the room went quiet. William slid down from John's arms, surprised at how weak his knees were.
Josh ran up to him and grabbed him in a hug. "Man I thought you were dead!"
William hugged him back as Ms. Diane reached him and pulled him into a hug too. "Oh Wil, I'm so sorry, so sorry! Your parents...does he know?" she asked John. He nodded yes and she hugged him again.
The Sheriff pulled him over to a chair behind his desk and said, "Listen William, I know you're tired and scared, but we need to know what's going on. I'd love for this to wait until morning, but it's better we get this over with now while you still remember. I need you to tell us everything that happened."
William looked to Monica. She sighed and nodded. So William started with everything, finding Bob dead in the field and strangers at his house, riding his minibike to town, calling the agents and hiding."
The Sheriff seemed confused and wanted to know why William had called agents in Washington.
Monica stepped up and said "Sheriff I think that's enough for one night. This child needs some serious rest, he's had a terrible ordeal and it's not over yet. Surely this can wait until morning after he gets some sleep?"
"Yes," said Diane, "he can sleep at our house as long as he needs. We have room in Josh's bunk bed."
Monica smiled at Diane and said, "That's wonderful of you. And under other circumstances I'd agree, he needs to be in a familiar place, but I think it's better if he stays with John and I. He needs protection. He won't get it at your house and it could put your family in danger."
"What?" exclaimed the Sheriff. "The boy's in danger? Why, he didn't see the actual murders. And even if he saw the suspects I can station a guard at the house."
John stepped forward and said, "Listen folks, this is gonna be hard to explain, but that won't do. The reason the Van de Kamps are dead is because those people were looking for William. It's William they want and I'll tell you why, as much as I can. Alot of it's classified."
The Sheriff and Joshua's family looked at him with stunned expressions. Why would anyone want the kid? And how could a farm boy from nowhere USA be involved with classified FBI stuff?
John looked at them each in turn before starting. "I don't know if you know, but William here is adopted. His birth parents were colleagues of ours, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, both FBI agents. Partners actually. They worked together for 8 years, and in that time managed to put over 200 perpetrators behind bars and close some 300 cases, very impressive record to say the least. Well they made some serious enemies in the process, and not all of them street thugs. They pulled the plug on some illegal doings of our very own government. Managed to piss off alot of higher ups, nearly got themselves fired several times. They did whatever they had to do to get the case closed and the bad guy punished, even if it meant bending or downright breaking the rules. Well, they started getting threats and attempts on their lives. Unsuccessful, of course, and when it was just them it was one thing, I mean they were trained agents, they could protect themselves, but when William was born things changed. Mulder had gotten so many death threats he had to go into hiding, only saw his kid twice in his life. Dana had Will for nine months and in that time, the kid was attacked several times in their home and kidnapped once. Monica here, and Dana, barely found him in time. Dana realized that to protect her kid, she had to give him up. Total anonymity. It was the only way to keep him safe. Well Will found out about his parents somehow and called us at the FBI looking for them. The call was traced. Some of those guys who want him dead along with his folks are FBI employees, believe it or not. They're the ones who killed the Van de Kamps. And they'll be back. He needs to stay with us."
As John finished, everyone looked around in disbelief. Nothing like this had ever happened in their town. The Sheriff was at a loss. Diane couldn't believe he was talking about the same kid who was her son's best friend. She had known him for years and never suspected anything like this.
Suddenly Monica was kneeling beside William. "Hey Will, you OK?" she asked with concern.
William nodded, but the room was swimming. He was exhausted and his head hurt. His stomach had a queasy feeling. John, who had raised a kid of his own, saw the signs right away and knelt down.
"Hey buddy, you feeling OK?" William shook his head.
"I don't feel so good..." said William, who suddenly went white. John grabbed him, tucked him under his arm and raced for the bathroom. They made it just in time and William heaved into the toilet. The he started to cry. It was too much. He started to sink to the floor but John grabbed him and steered him to the sink. As William rinsed his mouth out, John talked to him soothingly.
"Hey it's gonna be OK, just calm down, buddy."
He picked the boy up and felt him go limp. The kid was on his last legs. Monica was waiting for them outside, her face etched with concern.
"He's OK," said John. "He's just stressed out. Made him sick. He's gotta rest."
Monica nodded and told the Sheriff that they were taking William with them and would be back with him in the morning. She also asked that a guard stay with Josh's family just to be sure no one went looking for William there. She didn't believe they were in danger as long as William wasn't with them. Whoever these people were, they didn't want to draw more attention to themselves by senseless killing if it could be avoided.
Then she and John walked out to their car, checked it out first, then climbed in. William stretched out in the back half asleep. They drove to the small motel and fished him out of the car. While he took a quick shower to rinse off the grime he had acquired during the day at camp, and during his flight, John retrieved the small bag of clothes he had gotten from William's room when he had gone with Monica to the Van de Kamp farm earlier after they had arrived in town a little early.
William was too tired to even ask how his pajamas had even gotten there. Monica tucked him into one of the beds and he was asleep right away. They both watched him for several minutes.
Then they both looked at the remaining bed. Then at each other. Monica smiled softly.
"Looks like you're on the floor, John."
He shook his head, "No way, you know my back is...well. Come on, I'll sleep on top of the covers and you underneath."
Monica was too tired to protest. She climbed in next to him and fell asleep. John looked over to make sure the door was locked tight before he, too, finally slept.
"Morning sleepyhead. How'd you sleep?"
William shrugged. He had slept the deep sleep of the dead actually, and he didn't feel at all rested. He hurt everywhere, his head hurt and he was still a little unsettled in the stomach. Then he remembered why and his eyes closed in pain.
He had had another dream about the beach. In it, he had built a huge UFO out of sand all by himself. Fox Mulder had come up and asked what it was and William told him. For some reason he was angry at the man and started tearing away at the sand structure.
"Hey, what are you doing? Why are you destroying your spaceship?" Mulder asked in surprise.
William didn't know. "It's YOUR spaceship," he said, annoyed. "YOU'RE destroying it. You were supposed to help me," said William throwing sand at him.
'Where were you when we needed you?' he thought. 'I needed you then, so did Mommy, but you weren't there. And they came after me, and she was afraid. I need you now, they came again. Daddy, the spaceship...I need your help with it.....if you don't help me, they'll win.'
He had no idea what he even meant by all of that. "They" who? And the dream had faded into the darkness from whence it came.
He opened his eyes. Monica was looking at him with concern.
"Who are you calling?" he asked.
'Your grandmother, actually," she replied. He opened his eyes wide in surprise.
"I have a grandmother?"
"You sure do, and two uncles on your mother's side, and several cousins. Most of your dad's family is dead though, except for a half brother. Anyway, this is your mother's mother. She lives in D.C." Monica searched her numbers programmed into her phone for Maggie Scully.
Monica continued, "I told you I don't know where Dana is or how to get a hold of her, and that's true, but I know she calls her mother at least once a week. If I can tell Maggie Scully what's going on then the next time she talks to Dana, she can tell her to call me. They need to be here."
William looked up in surprise, "You're going to ...they're going to come here?"
Monica dialed the number, "I don't know, but they need to know what's happened here. They're the only ones who have any right to make decisions about what to do now. Anyway, I want to know what they want me to do."
William nodded as John came out of the shower. William groggily got out of bed and went to brush his teeth.
As he brushed, he listened to Monica on the phone.
"Hey Margaret? Hey, it's Monica Reyes....I'm doing good, how are you?....Yeah, hey has your wayward daughter called recently?...No?...A ny idea when she will?....Well, see it's like this, I really need her to call me, we have an emergency, her or Fox...well, John and I, are you sitting down?...Well you'll want to sit down for this one, Maggie. Well, um, we found your grandson, William....no I'm not kidding. Well I'm pretty sure it's him, he looks just like both of them...yeah there's DNA of course, we're already on that actually..."
William listened as Monica repeated the story starting with how William found out he was adopted, up until finding him the night before.
"OK, well when she DOES call, tell her what I told you, and tell her to please call me or John. Same goes for Fox. Yeah...thanks Maggie....talk to him?"
Monica looked at William, pulling his shirt on. William looked up surprised.
Monica spoke again, "Maybe later Maggie, he's still kinda in shock. Yeah I'll be sure to tell him, OK, bye now..."
She hung up. William looked up.
"Tell me what?" he asked.
Monica grinned, "She says she wants to talk to you and can't wait to hear you. After all, she hasn't seen you since you were a baby."
William didn't quite know what to think, in the space of 10 minutes he had acquired a grandmother and a message was being sent to his birth parents.
John suggested they grab some breakfast. The McDonald's was right next door, so they went to get some pancakes and egg and bacon and cheese biscuits. William hoped it would stay down this time. While they ate, Monica told them she had called Joshua's mother earlier that morning and asked if William could stay at their house most of the day. One of them could stay with him while the other assisted the Sheriff in the investigation. But before anyone went anywhere, she wanted to airmail a sample of William's DNA to Washington for comparison to known samples of DNA of run on William by Dana Scully after her son was born, just to confirm it was the same kid.
John thought it was a good idea to have William stay at a friend's house as opposed to spending the whole day sitting in the police station. If the Sheriff needed him he knew where to find them. John would take the car and pick them up later. He didn't want to mention anything in front of William, but he knew Monica knew. The chances of actually catching the murderers was slim. They were long gone, but not far away. They'd be back but not in the middle of town in broad daylight 24 hours after a double murder. Even the monsters they chased down weren't usually that stupid. And if they were dealing with the supersoldiers, the situation could get worse if they had to explain to the Sheriff WHY they won't be found.
Monica decided she would spend the day on the phone trying to find out what would be done with William now. With no relatives left, he was technically a ward of the state. She wanted to call Skinner and see if they could pull some strings and get him released into their protective custody.
William looked around the McDonald's. The last time he had been there was for Becky Blake's birthday party. Had it only been 3 months? He still wasn't too hungry and only ate half his breakfast.
On the way to Joshua's house, they stopped by the hospital so a doctor could take a blood sample of William. John gave the sealed sample to an FBI agent from the Des Moines office and asked him to get it to D.C. as fast as possible. Agent Doggett dropped them off at William's friend's house, then went on to join the other agents at the Van de Kamp farm. Diane came out as John pulled out and pulled William into a hug. Monica shook her hand and they went inside. Diane had instructed her children not to question William about everything, and they were a little uncomfortable. William was still exhausted from his ordeal the night before, so he asked if he could lie down. Joshua grabbed some pillows and blankets and set William up on the couch in the playroom, while he sat down to watch movies. Lacey joined them.
Convinced that William would be alright with the other two children in the room with him, watching movies, Monica went on to make phones calls arranging for William to come to Washington with them. Skinner, in particular, was stunned by the news, and even more so when he learned that William had called his office too. When Monica finally got off the phone, she was confronted by a barrage of questions from Joshua's mother. She wanted to know if it was safe for her kids to be out of the house, did they know who killed Bob and Nancy, what would happen to William now? Monica tried to answer as best she could, but the hardest to say was that in all likelihood, William would be leaving in a few days and not coming back any time soon. By afternoon, funeral arrangements had been made and the local church was dealing with everything needed. The farm would be sold and William would inherit everything, but Monica decided to bring him by first to pack anything he wanted to keep. It wouldn't be easy and she hoped they were up to it.
Around lunchtime, Diane made up some macaroni and cheese and Monica went to call everyone in. William wasn't hungry. As Josh and Lacey left for the kitchen, Monica sat down on the floor in front of the couch where William was curled up with the pillows and blankets. He looked so lost, so sad. She wanted to hug him, but she was a stranger to him still. Instead she reached out and took his hand. He stared at her with those blue eyes, so like his mother's.
"What will happen to me now?" he asked quietly.
"Well," said Monica. "I finished all my phone calls. Your parents" she swallowed hard, "the funeral is tomorrow at noon."
William closed his eyes as she continued, "and after that, we'll go to the farmhouse so you can pack what you want. Then you'll come with me and John back to Washington. You'll stay with your grandma Maggie, probably me and John will stay with you too. We're trying to find Fox and Dana, your birth parents."
"Will I live with them? They won't want me, they gave me away, they won't want me now" he buried his head in the pillows.
Monica took him by the shoulders and turned him to face her. "William listen to me. They didn't want to give you away. Your mother cried for three days straight. You were a baby and they couldn't protect you from the ones who wanted you. They wanted you to be safe but you're not safe here. Not anymore. They loved you, they still do. God William, they love you. I know, I saw it. They love you as much as they love each other, and let me tell you, I never saw two people more in love than your parents. They weren't all gooshy about it, but from the way they looked at each other, you knew they'd die for each other, and nearly did a couple of times. Hell, your father went to ANTARTICA looking for your mom!
And they gave that same look to you. They WILL want you."
She hoped she wasn't lying to the kid, he was actually paying close attention. "And even if they don't, which won't happen, your grandmother wants you. And you have two uncles and aunts, and cousins, you have family you know. But Dana and Fox WILL want you."
William nodded slowly, not sure what to think. He missed Bob and Nancy terribly, and it got worse with each hour that passed, when he realized they weren't coming back and he wasn't going home. He was about to lose his whole world, his best friend, the town he grew up in, all to go and live with people who were his blood family, but were strangers, in a hostile and dangerous world. This was probably the last time he'd ever be in Josh's playroom again. He'd never come to another Bible study with Nancy and watch movies with the other kids. He had cried so much in the past few hours he couldn't believe he had any tears left, but they came. Monica pulled him into a hug and rocked him. He let her, it was all he had now.
When John came to pick them up around six, William hugged everyone goodbye, not knowing if it would be the last time, although Monica assured him he'd see them again. They stopped in Joe's Diner for dinner, then went back to the motel, where William's night went much the same as the last one did.
The next morning, he dressed in the Sunday clothes Diane had picked up for him from his house the day before. According to John, the crime scene was cleaned up, and they had moved the investigation into town. Another farmer had taken the livestock and a police guard was posted at the house to keep away looters or more criminals. William moved almost in a daze as he rode to the church with John and Monica. His grandmother, Maggie, had called twice to see how things were going and each time wanted to talk to him, but he just couldn't yet. He didn't know what to say, he was still reeling from his emotions. He sat in the front pew in church with Monica and Diane, John standing nearby. He couldn't bring himself to look in the coffins, he didn't want his last memory of Bob and Nancy to be what he would see. He shook hands with nearly everyone in town, barely looking up through the curtain of tears sticking to his eyes. He nodded mutely at the well wishes of the townsfolk, unable to speak.
Finally the minister started the service, and it seemed to go on forever. At the end, before the coffins were closed, William was expected to go up for a final look. He never knew how he made it, he only knew Ms. Diane was on one side, John and Monica on the other. He went up to the coffins and forced himself to look in. They looked terrible, like wax dummies, not like his parents he remembered. He closed his eyes as the coffins were shut, and followed blindly as they walked out to the cemetery. He never knew how he managed to hold his tears as the coffins were lowered, and he dropped a handful of dirt into each grave, whispering goodbye, and thank you to the man and woman who had raised him, loved him even though he was another man and woman's child.
As the crowd began to disperse, he followed John and Monica to the car. They were going to go out to the farmhouse for the last time so he could pack what he wanted to bring. John had told him not to worry about how much to take, he could take anything he wanted. William had asked if he could keep his minibike, so John had had it packed up ready to be moved. As William went to get into the car, he heard someone call his name. He turned around. Jimmy Henderson came running up to him, then stopped looking uncomfortable.
Then Jimmy held out his hand and said, "Goodbye William. Good luck."
By now the whole town knew William was leaving with the agents. William was surprised. Then he took Jimmy's hand and shook it. "Goodbye Jimmy." He said. The boys nodded at each other, then William got into the car.
The drive out to the farm was surreal. He had been this way thousands of times, and yet he felt like he was dreaming. As they pulled up to the farmhouse, he felt emptiness settle into him. It already felt deserted and strange, not the home he knew. He was afraid, afraid he'd see blood on the floor or something, afraid he'd break down once he walked inside. He followed the agents in, and looked around. The house was pristine, and that only added to the strangeness. No one was here. He went upstairs to his room to pack.
He had decided he wanted everything, including his bed, so Robbie Henderson and some of his friends dropped by with their pickup trucks to drive the boxes and things to Des Moines to be shipped. John didn't say where they were going, only that they were going someplace where Fox and Dana would be able to get to them easily if need be. With Monica's help, he picked out several photo albums of him and the Van de Kamps to take with him, and several other items. It was well after 10 PM before they finished for good. William walked through the house and barn for the final time, knowing he would most likely never see it again. The tears fell again as he burned the images into his photographic memory of the last look of his home.
Then, with as much courage as he could, he pulled himself up, and
turned his back on the farm, ready to face whatever was coming at him
next. He was silent on the ride back to the motel and silent as he got
into bed. Monica was worried but John, who had once had a child of his
own, was more relaxed. The next day, they would take him home.
The final farewell to his friend was hard, but they promised to email each other and call as often as possible. John gave them the address to Maggie Scully's, which wasn't exactly a secret anyway. Ms. Diane and Mr. Jake hugged William goodbye, and so did Lacey. Finally he stood in front of Josh.
"Thanks for everything, for all your help and." He broke off. Josh nodded, choked up himself.
"Be sure to call or email," he said as William pulled a binder out of a bag and handed it to him.
"Here," said William, "take my baseball cards."
Josh shook his head, "No way, you love those. You've been working on that for years."
William handed him the binder anyway. "Now it's yours. Just promise me you'll keep up with the Pirates, OK?"
Josh nodded then handed William a bag. Inside was the entire boxed set DVD's of all six Star Wars movies. Josh grinned and said, "I always thought of us sometime in the future up in space kicking alien butt or something."
William mock scoffed and said, "Yeah like that'll ever happen." He grinned at Joshua, but didn't see the glance between John and Monica. Then the boys hugged. With a final wave, and tears everywhere, waves goodbye, William got in the car and watched as the family of friends disappeared in the distance. Only one more stop, then he would leave Midville for good.
They pulled up to the cemetery and William walked up to the fresh graves of his adoptive parents. As he stood there, placing a rose on each one, he realized he didn't want this to go on, he wanted this nightmare to end. He didn't want to know anything about his biological parents, he didn't want to leave Midville or the farm or Josh. He wanted to go home, he wanted Bob and Nancy, the only parents he ever really knew. He wanted to go to Bible study on Saturday nights and Bible school on Sunday mornings. He wanted to ride his minibke in the fields and drive the tractor with Bob. He wanted to make cookies with Nancy and look at the stars from the hood of the pickup truck. He wanted his life back.
But it was gone, gone with Bob and Nancy. He felt as if someone had dropped him off in a strange country, alone and lost and he didn't know the language or anyone. He didn't want to go to D.C., he didn't want to meet his grandmother or uncles he never knew. He felt the pain deeply and he breathed in slowly. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. John stood next to him with Monica on the other side. He felt a little better. He knew these were good people, they would look after him, but they weren't parents. He turned and slowly walked back to the car while John and Monica stood by the grave a few moments longer. He had just reached the car when a hand grabbed him from behind!
He froze in shock as rough hands grabbed him up quickly and started towards a car parked not far away. With a frantic breath he found his voice.
"JOHN!!! MONICA!! HELP!" he yelled at the top of his lungs.
They whipped around and saw the man carrying William away and broke into a dead run, pulling their guns. William felt a cold river creep up his spine, up the back of his skull to the top of his head as he recognized the feeling, the same one he had at the farm the day his parents were murdered. He looked up at the man and recognized him, the man from the black SUV. The man who had killed his parents.
"It's him! He killed Bob and Nancy!" William yelled as the man held him with one arm and tried to open his car door. William pulled his knees to his chest, planted his feet on the door and firmly kicked it closed.
"Federal agents, freeze!" yelled John. The man turned around as Monica yelled, "Drop that kid!"
The man only smiled evilly and said, "You won't fire, you might hit the boy."
John's face set in stone as he said evenly, "I'm a good shot, I won't hit him."
The man still smiled, "Then shoot."
William felt his breath coming quickly. He was frozen with fear, unable to move or even try to twist away. John yelled at the man again to drop him or he'd shoot. William closed his eyes. The man didn't let him go. John counted to three and the man still didn't let him go, in fact turned again towards the car to shove him in the back. Then there was a deafening roar.
The man jerked and William let out a small scream as John fired. William felt warm wetness splatter on his hands. He looked down to see speckles of red.
EWWWW! He was going to be sick in a minute. That was blood, real blood, not the fake stuff from the movies. He whimpered and then, against his better judgement, turned to look up. The man's head was thrown back from the impact of the bullet.
Why wasn't he dropping? William wondered. He had been shot alright, he should be down. Then, as William watched in horror, then man lifted his head and smiled. There was a quarter sized hole right between his eyes. He then turned with William towards the car.
Damnit that's impossible! William's mind screamed. That's IMPOSSIBLE! He started to yell frantically, what the hell was this man?? Whatever he was, he had a good grip on him and was dragging him away.
"John! He's a supersoldier!" yelled Monica. Suddenly William heard a whistling sound and THUNK!
The man jerked again, this time with a dart of some kind lodged in his upper chest. Again, he only smiled, but then the smile turned to confusion, then surprise, then horror. William felt him tense up, as if every muscle were contracting. He heard John yell at him to get away from there, as the man's grasp slackened.
William twisted free and ran to Monica who was holding another gun than the one she had been pointing. It was unusual, more square and bulky, but she dropped it in a pocket and grabbed him and ran. With John right behind them, they made it to the car.
William looked back. He couldn't believe his eyes! The man was turning to metal! Wracked with violent convulsions, he watched in disbelief as the man flew to pieces of metal that disintegrated and oozed into the ground. Was he dreaming? This HAD to be a dream!
Monica shoved him in the car and jumped in herself as John peeled out of the parking lot.
"Hurry John!" yelled Monica, "There may be more, we need to get out of here now!"
"Buckle up, Wil!" John called back.
In a daze, William buckled his seat belt and looked out the window as the town of Midville went by in a rush. Then, it was gone and they were on the highway. William felt himself shaking. He was like a small rubber boat being tossed in a hurricane. All safety was gone, everything familiar was gone, and some inhuman THING that had killed his parents had tried to get him and had exploded into a million pieces. He felt cold and was shaking in fear, to scared to even cry.
Monica passed him John's handkerchief soaked with water from her water bottle.
"Here baby," she said softly, "Better wipe that blood off. Are you hurt anywhere?"
He shook his head slowly as he wiped the man's blood off of him. Most of it had gone backwards, it was only a few drops. But he felt sick doing it. She asked him again if he was ok and he did a check. Nothing seemed t be broken or hurting. He looked up at her.
"OK, level with me," he said with as even a voice as he could. "What's going on? Who was that? WHAT was that? You told the sheriff he wanted me, why? This has all happened before hasn't it?"
Monica and John looked at each other. How much should they tell him? How much could he handle at seven years old? They didn't want to scare him needlessly, but it seemed to be too late for that. On the other hand, maybe the more he knew the more he could appreciate the level of danger he was in.
It was John who answered. "OK, son, but you're in for a hell of a story, and if you're anything like your mom or me even, you won't believe even half of it."
William nodded. He only wanted answers. John decided to tell him as much of everything he knew. It would be for Fox and Dana to fill in the holes. He started with his assignment to the X-Files to help Agent Dana Scully locate her missing, abducted, partner Fox Mulder. Skinner had seen an unidentified flying craft fly away as Mulder went missing. John told William about Billy Miles who had been taken along with Mulder. Billy was recovered and turned into something nobody could explain, something that wasn't human anymore.
While John believed it was a military project to create a super soldier, William's parents and Monica had believed these things were alien, the result of alien experimentation meant to sneak into the human population as terrorists infiltrate the country the same way, and lie in wait until it was time to strike. William asked if aliens were real to which John replied that he had never seen one, but that both of his parents claim to have seen them lots of times. Monica said she believed Mulder and Scully. John replied that at the end of the day it didn't really matter WHAT the supersoldiers were, that no bullet could stop them.
John had seen whole clips emptied into them, seen them crushed in garbage trucks, shot with shotguns, they still got up and kept coming. There was no way to defend against them and they were relentless. This had been the reason he had been given up for adoption anonymously. His mother had had no way of stopping them from coming after William. His father had had to go into hiding because these things wanted him dead and there was no way to stop them from that.
William asked why these things wanted him. That's where John stopped and went silent, unable to answer. It was Monica who went on to explain that there was a rumor that he, William, would be the one to lead these things during the upcoming invasion.
William was floored. HIM? Lead an alien invasion of earth? This had to be some kind of joke. That stuff only happened in movies. And why in the hell WOULD he lead aliens in a takeover? That went against everything he believed in, like aiding the devil during the Second Coming or something. Monica explained that this was why they wanted Fox Mulder dead.
According to prophecy, if Mulder influenced his son's life, raised him to his own ideals, then William would follow in his father's footsteps and fight against the aliens and supersoldiers. And he would be a formidable enemy, maybe even the only one capable of stopping the invasion. But if Mulder were dead and William taken by the supersoldiers, he would be raised to be their leader. That's why they wanted him and wanted him alive. He was still young enough to be influenced. But once it became clear he wasn't on the aliens' side, then he would be marked just like his parents.
William tried wrapping his brain around it all. It was too hard to believe. What was so damned important about HIM? Why HIM? He asked Monica that same question, to which she sighed and looked at John. Then she looked over her shoulder at him and told him about how, as a baby, he could move things with his mind, seemed to understand what people said, how his eyes had followed things before they should have been working correctly, and the nagging suspicion that he was somehow born because of some kind of intervention, because Dana Scully had not been able to have children, she was barren.
William was stunned. Then suddenly it made sense. All those things he could do, that's why. Was he an alien too? He asked and Monica shook his head, saying Dana Scully had tested him five ways backwards and forwards, he was human alright, and hers and Mulder's. But it didn't matter now, Monica had told him, because his half uncle had injected him with the same substance found to kill the supersoldiers, magnetite. Somehow, it had eliminated his unusual abilities. Monica went on to say that they had found that if a supersoldier walked into an area of high magnetite concentration, he would be pulled apart at the seams, it was the only known way of killing them.
Following this discovery, they realized they had their weapon they needed. By modifying a tranquilizer dart gun and using a high concentrated solution of magnetite, they now had a weapon, which could destroy an indestructible enemy. Normally this would have allowed his parents to come out of hiding, but the supersoldiers and aliens weren't the only enemy.
Now it was John who told William about the sham of a "trial" his father had been put through after supposedly killing a man who was known to be a supersoldier. His mother had discovered the truth, that the man was still alive, but the evidence from her autopsy had not even been looked at and the trial closed without any chance for Mulder. With John and Skinner's help they had broken him out of jail and Mulder and Scully had fled to the New Mexico desert, followed by the government men assisting the aliens. His parents were presumed dead after a helicopter had blown away the ruins they were in, but John and Monica knew they were alive because they had seen them afterwards.
Now they stayed in touch from wherever they were hiding, and called Margaret Scully every so often. It had been Skinner who had explained everything to the Scully family and given them magnetite weapons in case the supersoliders got ideas about holding Dana's relatives hostage. For years, everyone had been safe, William hidden away somewhere no one knew, his family staying low and guarded, his parents in hiding. And there were no shortages of human threats either as John told him about the UFO cult that had abducted him as a baby, believing the supersoldiers were God's angles and he was their leader.
As they finished up with some loose ends, William sat back. He understood perfectly everything that had been told to him, despite his age. This was one of those times when he realized being a genius could be a curse. Joshua had often joked that he was like Harry Potter, a long lost wizard, or something, but this was worse, far worse. An alien messiah was unnerving. Then he felt anger. If it were true, it mean these things had single handedly destroyed not only his natural families' lives, but his adoptive ones too and how many more others? They were just going to waltz down onto this planet with their supersoldiers and viruses and just kick them out?
What right did they have to do that? And they expected HIM to lead them? Hell no! No way! He wanted them dead, he wanted them all dead. So much for the benevolent aliens of "Close Encounters" or "Star Wars", this was more like "Independence Day." He had his doubts about being the human race's savior too, but one thing was for sure, if this was all true, he was sure as hell going to do what he could to fight. His parents had sacrificed everything for him, he would not betray them by fighting for the aliens.
Then, silently, right there in the backseat of the car speeding to Des Moines, William made a promise to himself and God, one he wore he'd never break. He would never join or lead the monsters who had killed Bob and Nancy, who had tried to break and kill Dana and Fox. He would not see the world he loved turned into some alien hellhole. He was only a child, but it made no difference. Who knows, maybe Josh would get his wish, maybe someday they WOULD be together again, kicking alien butt. Did they even have butts? He wondered with a smile.
He was silent, lost in thought all the way to the airport. They had looked a thousand times to make sure they weren't followed, but little could be done now anyway. John and Monica were able t bring their guns on board the airplane when they showed their badges and they boarded the jet. Despite his grief at leaving home and the shock of the story he had just heard, William was excited about the plane ride. He sat by the window next to John with Monica sitting behind them. As the plane took off, William watched in awe as the ground fell away.
He listened to music, played tic tac toe with John, watched the in flight movie, then finally fell asleep. He awoke to John shaking him awake as the plane descended. They were in Washington D.C. It was late in the afternoon, nearly sunset when they landed and the plane bounced as it hit the runway. After what seemed like forever, they finally taxied and pulled up to the gate. John and Monica gathered their bags and William grabbed his backpack and they got off, but instead of heading down the ramp, they turned and went out a side door.
A man was waiting for them at the base of the stairs with a silver car. He was bald and wore glasses. He smiled when he saw William.
John pulled William in front of him and said "Wil, this is Assistant Director of the FBI, Walter Skinner. He was your mom and dad's boss for nearly eight years."
The man smiled and said, "Hello William, it's been a long time." he held out his hand and William shook it, sensing an almost grandfatherly glow from the man. William smiled. So this was the "Skinner" that his mother had called on the Cops show, that he had tried to call himself.
Skinner said softly, "My God, you look just like them." William smiled and said quietly, "Umm, thanks, I guess."
John was all business as he asked, "Are we clear?"
Skinner nodded, "As a bell. Let's go."
John and Skinner got into the front and Monica and William climbed in the back and they drove off. They had everything with them already, there were no bags to claim. William's things had been sent ahead and picked up by Skinner earlier that day who had brought them to Maggie Scully's.
It seemed to William that they drove around alot, seemingly in circles. They drove by the monuments and the Pentagon. Monica pointed out the new section of wall built after some terrorists had flown a plane into the side. William remembered reading about that in school, two planes had also destroyed the World Trade Center and a fourth had crashed in Pennsylvania. He wondered if those crazy terrorists would be so hell bent on attacking America if they knew the whole world was about to be invaded by bloodthirsty aliens.
They drove by the FBI building and he saw where John, Monica, Mr. Skinner, and his parents had worked. Finally, when Skinner and John became convinced they weren't being followed, they headed to Georgetown for Maggie Scully's house. As they drove by the neighborhoods, William got a sense of deja vu, feeling for sure he had been this way before. He knew he had.
And when they pulled up to a house, he knew without a doubt he had been here before. It was nearly dark but the lights were all on. As they got out of the car, the door opened and a woman came out to greet them. She greeted John and Monica and Skinner warmly, then looked down with wonder at William.
William stared back. He recognized her right away. It was the older woman from his memories. It was his grandma Maggie. He remembered her! She used to babysit him. He could sense the strong emotions in her as she looked at him, and for a second he heard a whisper of her thoughts...'he looks like Dana, a little like Fox too....'
For the first time since Bob and Nancy had been found dead, he felt a sense of security, a family security. He went up to her slowly and held out a hand. She reached down and picked him up and held him. He felt her silently sobbing and sensed the relief and happiness from her, and the love. He barely knew her, but this was his grandmother. He felt his own tears starting to come and hugged back tightly.
John said something about going inside and Maggie carried her grandson inside as Monica gathered up his bag. They would all stay here tonight in case there was trouble. As Maggie set him down in the kitchen, John told her what had happened in Midville. She glanced down at him, then sighed and nodded. She knew the troubles were far from over, but no one was going to starve in the meantime. She had cooked up some pasta alfredo for everyone and William suddenly realized he was hungry for the first time in a long time.
Maggie smiled as he downed two plates of alfredo and Monica and Skinner chatted away about anything except the situation. Maggie said she still hadn't heard from Dana but that wasn't unusual. Sometimes they talked every week, sometimes a month went by, whenever her daughter could get to an untraceable phone. So far it had been two and a half weeks. Not time to panic yet. Her sons had not heard from their sister either.
William slowly began to feel his eyes droop. He got up and put his plate in the sink as Maggie got up and said "I'll do that, sweetie. Time for bed for you."
Monica got up. "I'll do the dishes, Mrs. Scully, you go on and get him to bed."
John stood up and said he'd help with the dishes while Mr. Skinner got stuck with the trash. With a grin, he mumbled something about pulling rank on John to take the trash out, to which John replied something about being off duty. William smiled as he followed his grandmother up the stairs.
She told him she was putting him in his mother's old room, but that it wasn't exactly decorated for a kid. He said that was OK.
He pulled on him pajamas that were already there and crawled into bed. Maggie tucked him in and kissed him goodnight. He settled in but sleep came slowly. He looked around the room, his mother's room. Nothing personal of hers remained, she had taken most of it with her. There were some clothes and toys from his cousins left there, but the rest was just furniture. Still, he felt somehow secure knowing this was his mother's room in his grandmother's house and three FBI agents, all armed with magnetite guns were downstairs. John had told him not to worry, he would be as safe here as was possible.
But would he stay here? What would happen next? Finally he fell
asleep, dreaming dreams of supersoldiers invading the earth, calling
to him to join them. He yelled back NO! The he heard a voice call his
name and he turned and saw his father, Fox Mulder reaching out to him,
calling "come with me son..." he reached out for him but the dream
faded and he slipped into a deep slumber.
John straightened up. "Good, Wil. That was good, but hit harder next time, OK? It won't hurt me, I promise, and you have to practice the same way you'd do it. Can't hesitate now, or you will later, understand?"
William nodded and moved back to his spot. They were in the gym at the FBI building, being watched and helped by Agent Jason Magus, a former student of his mother's from when she had taught at the FBI Academy at Quantico. The man had been thrilled to meet the son of his former teacher, even though, like everyone else, he believed she was dead. All Agent Doggett had told him was that William had been put up for adoption following the death of his parents but some former criminals with a grudge against agents Mulder and Scully had found him and killed his adoptive parents. Now with criminals after him, and the boy living with Scully's mother, John had felt he needed some self defense training.
William had been in D.C. for ten days now, and still Dana Scully had not called. Maggie was starting to get a little concerned, but not too much just yet. She said it would be time to worry by next Friday. In the meantime William was starting to feel caged up. He was not allowed outside without adult supervision, and he and his grandmother rarely went anywhere except twice to the mall and once to the movies with Monica. He was fast getting bored.
Maggie had a video game system hooked up to her TV for her numerous grandchildren that William had glued himself to for the first three days, but he soon tired of it. She had dug out her son, Bill Jr.'s, old leatherworking and wood-burning kits and William had stayed busy making key chains for her, a wallet for John and Skinner, and a wooden nameplate for Monica's desk. He had put together puzzles, helped with the housework, watched movies, but by the 5th day he was running out of stuff to do.
Finally it was John who suggested taking him to the federal building to learn some self-defense. John had told William about his own son, Luke, who had been kidnapped and killed when he was William's age. John had always wondered what he could have done more to find Luke, although Monica assured them they had both done the best they could. But John had wondered if things would have gone differently if Luke had known some self-defense basics? He didn't know, since no one knew how Luke had been taken, only that they found his bike and nothing else. It didn't seem to matter at the time, since Luke had also known about not talking to strangers, hell his father was a cop.
Also there was the simple fact that, no matter how smart any seven year old was, he still was developing physically, and coordination and strength would be a major factor. However, something was better than nothing, and so for the past five days, nearly all day, William had been training with John and Agent Magus, sometimes Monica, in various martial arts such as Aikido, karate, taekwondo and krav maga, a martial art used by the Israeli Army against terrorists, which was easy to learn and very effective. William loved it.
He was haunted by the memory of the man grabbing him at the cemetery and how he had frozen in fear. Now he was training to react, to kick and punch and scratch. And he learned fast, since it would be crucial to his survival. It was fun to do, but far from play. He wondered how effective it would be against the supersoldiers, but John reminded him that several normal humans wanted him dead too.
As for the supersoldiers, John had a plan for that too. Several years back, Dana had worried about her family's safety, especially her brothers' children. Charlie's sons were both 19 and 18 now and had been given the dart guns as well as some self-defense training and myotron stun guns. They had been well informed and trained especially since their father was in the military. The family had been told nothing of the supersoldiers alien origin, only that they were a government experiment gone bad and that they wanted Dana dead. It was sort of like a warped Mafia situation and Dana was in the witness protection program or something.
But Bill Jr.'s kids were another story. Matthew was ten years old and his brother Greg was six, only a year younger than William. Their father was also in the military and had been given a dart gun for the supersoldiers, but the boys were too young to carry such things to school. So, with the help of some special friends, a prototype device had been created for them. The friends were all that were left of the Lone Gunmen, Jimmy and Yves. Langly, Byers, and Frohike had died six years before, leaving their jobs and technogeek stuff to their two new members.
It had been Yves, with her seemingly vast contacts, who had come up with the device John had given William the day before. At first glance it looked like a small cell phone for a young teenager. It fit in the palm of one's hand and was oval shaped with flat ends. It had the display and keypad and worked like a regular cell phone, only the signal was scrambled and theoretically untraceable, but no one wanted to take a chance, so it was only to be used in an emergency.
But it was more than a cell phone. It had a homing beacon that could only be activated by the owner using a secret code only he knew, which could allow someone to use a satellite and find him should he be kidnapped. In fact, this is exactly what the Lone Gunmen had done when William was a baby and taken by the cult members. However, it was also a self-defense device.
With the flip of a sliding switch on the side, two metallic prongs came out of the bottom and with the push of a button, the phone became a concealed myotron stun gun, capable of bringing down a 250 pound person in a second and stun them for a half an hour. It could be discharged 500 times without losing a charge. The hard part had been to shield the phone part from the stun gun discharge, but it had been done. Unfortunately stun guns only slowed supersoldiers for a second, it didn't drop them. William's problem was with the supersoldiers.
So, along with the stun gun and cell phone, there was also a small magnetite dart that could be fired out of the top by pushing a button on the other side. The problem was it only held one dart. And if you missed the one shot.....
Matthew and Greg each had one, although Bill's wife Tara had not been happy about it. The boys had been trained extensively how and when to use them and although Greg was a little young, he seemed to understand well enough. Then only comfort they could give Tara about the stun gun part was that it wasn't lethal and left no permanent damage. The dart could cause some damage although the magnetite wouldn't hurt a human. Still, even John and Monica had been nervous about giving such young children devices which would require a lot of responsibility. The boys had been drilled repeatedly to know that these were not toys and just one hint of problems and they were in serious trouble. But the alternative was to have them defenseless. William had been given one of the devices, a purple one with a small purple coil that attached to his belt in case he dropped it. He had spent the morning training with it and now was working on his martial arts skills.
John told him never to rely on a weapon; it could fail you or jam. He also reminded William that this device was only meant to be used on one person at a time. If there were more than one, just running would be better.
As William practiced fending off both John and Agent Magus, Monica came in to the gym holding her cell phone. They stopped.
"That was Maggie," she said slowly. "Dana just called."
Former FBI Special Agent Dana Scully had no idea her life would change that day she woke up in Roswell, New Mexico. She didn't have to work that day and Mulder didn't either, at least not until that afternoon, so she lay in bed for a while, listening to his quiet breathing and smiled. At least he didn't snore.
The sun was shining and the sky was a brilliant blue. It was a gorgeous day outside, not too hot, even for the desert, with a cool breeze blowing. She got up with the thought of making some peppermint tea and sitting out on the porch enjoying the morning.
After their frantic flight from the powers that be nearly six years ago, they had searched for somewhere to hide. The Cancer man had told them the Roswell crash had been caused by magnetite deposits around Roswell and other parts of New Mexico. They had obtained some satellite images and saw that several spots in New Mexico and all over the country did indeed have magnetite deposits. The town of Roswell was built right on top of a huge one. Several Native American reservations seemed to be built on them too, which explained why several of the ancient tribes had not moved in thousands of years, declaring certain spots to be holy ground.
They had settled in Roswell for the safety, no supersoldier could come near the town without being pulled apart at the seams. No UFO could fly over without crashing. That had been learned over fifty years ago. But it didn't keep human predators away, nor would it keep full-blooded aliens away. Mulder had contended that an alien had posed as a black baseball player for the Roswell Grays several decades ago after falling in love with the game of baseball. She had asked if he was drunk. Full blooded aliens and humans could walk through magnetite, but half aliens couldn't. However, humans and aliens they could handle, guns worked on them. Even though Dana and Fox were presumed dead by their enemies, they didn't want anyone to know they were alive and well, so they kept contact with the outside to a minimum. However, Roswell seemed to become the focal point for all those seeking refuge.
Over the next six years, they had re-established contacts with many people of expertise, and several other who knew of the upcoming invasion through their owns means of information. The underground community they had crossed paths with several times, converged on Roswell, hoping for safety from the unseen invaders when the time came. The good news was this brought several experts in various fields all close together. For the past six years, they had all been working on a counter plan to the invasion, developing magnetite weapons as well as ways to mass-produce the vaccine against the virus that had been developed to wipe out the human race. Mulder still had a small sample in a vial he had used on Scully in Antarctica, and from it they had reverse engineered the chemical composition.
Mulder and Scully had lived in a trailer on an Indian reservation with some relatives of Albert Hosteen for two years before the pilgrims all got together and built a new neighborhood right over a particularly deep magnetite deposit. The neighborhood was called Haven, quite appropriately and was a web of streets with brand new garden homes. Mulder and Scully's new house reminded her a little of the one they had stayed in while investigating the community of Arcadia. It was new, modern and comfortable, just right for them.
Mulder's half brother, Jeffery Spender had joined them in Roswell a few years later, moving in to the house next door. The relationship was a little strained, given their history, but amicable. They were all on the same side now. Gibson Praise, needing somewhere to go, had moved in to be roommates with Spender, also to look after the disabled man. Gibson was now 19 and stuck in the limbo of half child, half man. He had his own car and was able to go where he pleased, but he could often be found shooting hoops with Mulder on the driveway. Mulder had gotten him enrolled in the local university as well.
In order to stay busy, and stay in a position of some information, they had both gotten jobs under assumed names. Mulder was a psychology professor at the Eastern New Mexico University at Roswell, and Scully was a teacher of the gross anatomy class, while working as a deputy coroner at the hospital. But since there wasn't a lot of need for more than one coroner in the town, she was seldom busy.
Money was not a problem, as Mulder had inherited quite alot from his father and had aptly put it all in offshore accounts where they couldn't be found as easily by government guys. It had been a quiet life so far, and not a bad one at that. She and Mulder loved each other deeply, but had still not married. She still hoped someday she could have a wedding where her entire family was present and the danger gone. But it would be all of them; William wouldn't be there.
She closed her eyes fighting back tears. William, her baby. Was he safe? Was he even still alive? Suddenly her happy mood was gone. She got up and slowly walked down the hall. On one side was the office where they kept their computers. After they had run those years ago, they had arranged for a moving van to bring all their belongings to Denver, Colorado. Renting a truck in Roswell, they had driven up, transferred everything to their truck, then driven back home, so no one would be able to trace their movements. The truck they rented was returned to the same place, the company never knowing it had even been out of the town.
On the other side of the hall was a room that was almost empty, except for the disassembled crib and boxes of toys and baby clothes. By unspoken agreement, that was "William's room" and they seldom went in there. Dana had not had the heart to throw away the items, even though she knew she would never see William again and if she did, he would be to big for any of that stuff. It was her own way of remembering she even HAD a son. Some of her daughter Emily's things were also in there, but she had only had Emily for three days before she had died. It wasn't quite the same.
As she went into the kitchen and brewed the tea, she thought about her mother. Maggie had always stood up for her and Fox against Bill Jr.'s constant criticism, but when Dana had given William up Maggie had been furious. She had accused Dana of never loving the baby at all, of throwing in the towel when she realized how hard motherhood was and that she could no longer just take off when she wanted to. Dana had been hurt beyond belief, partly because she had wondered if her mother was right. She had been afraid of William, afraid of what he might be, so she had kept her heart closed a little, afraid of being hurt the way she had been when she found out what Emily was and had watched her die.
The thought that her beloved miracle baby, her son, would grow up to be another Billy Miles, someone who would gladly kill her without so much as any feeling or any look of recognition in his eyes, had chilled her. But after watching the car drive away with him in it, off to his new family, she had felt her heart shatter. She HAD loved her son, still loved him, and missed him terribly. She knew she couldn't keep him safe from the supersoldiers who wanted him, not back then anyway. It would have been different is they had the mag guns then. Skinner had explained to her mother as much as he could and she had later relented and apologized, but it still hurt. She hadn't called in a while since she was still afraid the calls would be traced.
When possible, she called from out of state, but recently one of their friends had equipped everyone's phones with special scramblers. He assured them it was safe to call anywhere without being traced. Sighing, she put down her cup and picked up the phone. She dialed her mother's number.
It would be 1:30 in D.C. Maggie answered.
"Hi, Mom," said Dana.
"Dana? Oh my God! Dana! Thank God you called! I've been sitting by the phone for two weeks!" Maggie exclaimed.
Dana felt her blood run cold. "What? Why? What's wrong?"
Maggie took a breath ad rushed on, "Dana it's William, it's your son.."
Dana felt he knees start to go weak. "What about him?" she asked fearfully.
'He's here!" Maggie all but yelled at her daughter. "Dana, he's here! John and Monica brought him. You wouldn't believe what's going on!"
Dana felt herself sink to the floor as her mother quickly related the story as best she could. Dana couldn't believe it. She was scared to death that her son had been found and was now in danger, but at least he was still alive. After assuring her mother that she and Mulder would be on the next flight home, she hung up. She stared at the wall in disbelief.
She looked up. Mulder was standing over her looking sleepy. "What's going on?" he asked.
"You're not going to believe this...." she answered.
William paced the floor in the living room, with the vague thought of trying to finish the video game that was on pause, but every time he sat down to the TV, he just got back up again. It's was nearly 9 PM and his parents would be there any minute. Nobody knew where they were coming from, but his mother had told his grandmother they would be there around 8 or 9. Maggie was in the kitchen cleaning it for the third time, John and Skinner were watching a baseball game in the den, and Monica was asleep on the couch in the room with him.
Everyone was keyed up, nobody had seen his parents in person for nearly a year. William wandered over to the bookcase and took down one of the photo albums his grandmother had shown him the day before. He flipped through it, looking at the pictures of his mom, aunt and uncles, as well as his cousins and one picture of the sister he had never known about. Emily was a strange story, and apparently even his mother knew very little about her. He wondered what she would have been like if she had lived. He put the book back and resumed pacing, his mind racing from topic to topic. What would he say to them? What would they say to him?
Suddenly he felt his heart leap in anxiety as a car pulled up into the driveway. He raced to the window and looked but it was a little too dark to see, even with the lights. He reached out with his mind, and felt no sign of the evil coldness, only excitement, worry and a mixture of emotions. It was them, his parents.
He ran over and shook Monica awake and told her they were here. With a huge smile she jumped up and called to everyone. John and Skinner came from the den and Maggie came rushing from the kitchen. But William slowly slunk to the back and around the doorway where he could watch unobserved.
The door opened and they came in. The first one he saw was his mother, her red hair was hard to miss. Her voice the same as from the Cops episode, her hair a little longer and her skin a bit darker with a slight tan. She happily hugged her mother who was as equally thrilled to see her daughter alive and well. Everyone was talking at once, and William couldn't make it all out. Then he saw his father. Fox Mulder came in and shut the door behind him, and Maggie gave him a huge hug as well. He looked equally happy to see her too, as Dana and Monica hugged like sisters, talking about each other's hairstyle differences and the flight in.
Mulder hugged John and Skinner, and Dana did as well as Monica hugged Mulder. Then, all the introductions and hugs had gone around, they slowly quieted down.
Dana looked around. "So," she said slowly. "Where is he?"
Maggie turned to the doorway and called, "William? Come on, they don't bite."
Slowly, forcing his feet to take each slow step forward, he came into view and leaned shyly against the doorway, not able to go further.
Dana took several steps forward, Mulder right behind her, then she stopped.
All three stared.
Dana saw her own red hair and blue eyes on the face of the child in front of her, while Mulder saw his own young face and nose. Nobody knew what to say. Introductions seemed phony at this point, everyone knew who the other was. Dana had gone over and over in her mind what to say, but it all seemed so silly now. What could she say to this child in front of her, who was hers and yet not hers?
Other people had raised him; she was the stranger to him, not his mother. He had found them dead, murdered and in a space of three days had seen his world collapse and now found himself hunted by inhuman monsters. Yeah he was definitely theirs, she thought wryly. But that was what she had hoped to spare him.
Did he blame them, her, for giving him away? Did he blame them for any of what had happened? Did he blame himself?
God he was beautiful. She smiled. 'That's my son,' she thought. "That's my baby boy, Mulder's baby boy. He's grown!'
Mulder was thinking much the same thing. 'Look at my son! Dana's son! We did that, god we did that! He looks like her, but like me too. What if he doesn't like us?"
William was picking up wisps of their thoughts, but nothing clear. He knew they felt as unsure of what to do as he did.
Dana gave herself a mental kick. They couldn't stand there all night. Slowly she walked forward a few steps, then dropped down to his level and motioned to him to come to her. Slowly, he did. He was finally within a foot of his birth mother. This was the same woman who chased monsters on cop shows, who had battled aliens and cancer, who had given birth to him, then given him to Bob and Nancy to protect him. He could feel the desperate love she felt for him, but unsure how to show it.
Suddenly she smiled and said, "Hey Willy Wonka, it's been a long time hasn't it?"
William smiled at the name, suddenly remembering how she used to call him that while tickling him or trying to make him laugh. Then, like his grandmother had, he reached out to her and she grabbed him up in a close hug. He felt jolts of warmth flow through him, and felt all the tension and fear flow out of him. His mother had him now, and any doubts he had about whether or not she loved him or wanted him melted away. He hugged her back tightly and he heard her crying.
He didn't know how long she held him like that until he felt someone beside him. Fox Mulder gently tugged on her sleeve and said with a grin, "Hey, he's my son too." William looked up and for a minute, he flashed back to his dreams of the beach, building a sand UFO, Mulder watching him learn to walk with Bob and Nancy, and felt somehow, like he already knew the man standing there. He reached out to him and, for the first time since the day after he had been born, Fox Mulder gathered up his son in his arms and held him. Mulder couldn't believe he was actually holding his baby, his boy, for the first time in over seven years. Any thoughts as to what or who the child might really be was nonexistent. He would not lead the aliens, Mulder would see to that.
And if God saw fit to deliver two miracles, one being the kid's birth, the second giving him back to them, then maybe a third miracle was on the way, maybe they would actually win. He was holding the son he never thought to see again, anything could happen.
Finally, they broke apart. John and Monica were both hugging and crying everyone seemed to be in tears, even Skinner. Maggie, being the mother she was, decided to do what she did best, feed everyone. They headed to the kitchen. William hadn't been too hungry before, but now he was starving. As they ate, Dana and Fox asked their son about everything they could think of except recent events, feeling he would talk about them when he was ready. He told them about the farm, about Midville, about Joshua and his family, about Jimmy Henderson, Bible study and camp, about school and his science projects, about how he named his pet frog Jeremiah, whom he had given to Josh.
He told them about building the minibike with Bob and baking cookies with Nancy, hoping they wouldn't be sad hearing about his other parents. But they didn't seem to be, they seemed very interested. Dana for one was glad such seemingly caring people had raised her son. The one awkward moment came when she told William that she was truly sorry for what had happened to them, that it had been a terrible thing. William only nodded, grateful for her words, still feeling the hurt. But then they had moved on to what Dana and Fox could say of their home and what had been going on.
Mulder took that time to tell Skinner that the "Plan" was going as hoped, and that they should be ready to go in a year or so. Skinner nodded, and William wondered what "Plan" they were talking about, but no one volunteered any more.
After the kitchen had been cleaned up, Skinner went home and later so did John and Monica. Mulder and Scully would sleep in Bill Jr.'s old room. Mulder mentioned something about irony William didn't catch. Both his mother and grandmother tucked him in and his father ducked in to say good night and ask if he wanted anything. As he drifted in and out of dreams, he saw the beach with the sand UFO again. It was crumbling to pieces and he felt sad. He had worked hard to build it. Suddenly he woke up.
Feeling thirsty, he got up and reached under his pillow for his special weapon and clipped it to his waistband. He had gotten used to feeling it's comforting presence, giving him some sense of security, even though he didn't sense any danger. He crept downstairs to the kitchen and heard the TV on. He ducked into the living room and saw his father up on the couch watching the late show.
Mulder looked over at his son. "Hey kiddo, couldn't sleep?" he asked.
William nodded, "I was thirsty. I'm just getting some water."
"Need any help?" asked Mulder.
William shook his head and went to get a glass. He decided he didn't want to go back to bed right away, so he went back to the living room and sat on the other end of the couch. Mulder smiled at him and sighed. He told William that insomnia had always been a problem for him. William nodded and said it was getting to be a problem for him too, always wondering if someone was coming to get him. He thought for a second, then told Mulder everything starting from finding the adoption papers to seeing him for the first time in the hallway tonight.
Fox Mulder was truthfully stunned at how the boy had come so far on his own, searching for answers the way no child would have. William's revelations about still having some mental abilities were interesting, and a little disturbing. They would have to look into that. But the biggest problem was that the boy felt responsible for his parents' deaths. Mulder tried to convince his son that it wasn't his fault, there was no way he could have known what would happen and he had no reason to think anyone was going to get hurt. But he knew it would take some time.
William decided to bring up something else that was bothering him. "What do I call you?" he asked. "I never called Bob and Nancy 'Mom' or 'Dad', and I don't know why. Am I supposed to call you "dad'?"
Mulder only smiled and said "Call me whatever you want, your mother too. It's up to you."
William looked down and nodded. Mulder then said slowly, "All we ever wanted for you was for you to be safe and happy. Six years ago we couldn't give that to you. But now we can, because we found a place where the supersoldiers can't go. William, we've always wanted you. There has always been and always will be a place for you with us. We're your parents and we love you. We want you to come home with us now. It'll be hard, I won't lie to you. We don't know each other, and you miss your home, you always will I'd imagine. But where we live can be home too. You can email your friends and grandmother if you want, we have new scramblers on our computers just like our phones. Maybe you could even call Josh. And there are lots of kids in our new neighborhood, maybe you can make some new friends too. What do you think?"
"Do I have a choice? If I said I want to go back home can I go?" William asked.
Mulder shook his head, "No I don't think that can happen, son. I'm sorry. Not even with the weapons we have. We have to sleep sometime and it's not safe there."
William nodded. He hadn't really thought he could go back, but I was
worth asking. Well, he had to be somewhere, and he wanted to be with
his parents. But what of John, Monica, Mr. Skinner and Grandma Maggie?
Would he ever see them again? Mulder smiled and said of course,
probably at Christmas. And he'd probably meet his uncles, aunts and
cousins too. William's eyes got heavy as he finished his water and
leaned back against the pillows, listening to his father talk. As he
drifted off, he felt his father's arms picking him up and
carrying him upstairs to bed. Then there was silence.
He felt the tears coming as he hugged them both goodbye and promised to call and email. John picked him up into a huge hug and told him to look after his parents, they tend to get into trouble unsupervised. William laughed. As the four agents hugged each other goodbye, William said goodbye to his grandmother. She swallowed back tears and said she'd see him at Christmas and they hugged goodbye. Finally it was time to go, and William climbed into the car with his mom and dad. As they drove back to the airport, William waved goodbye to his family, knowing he would miss them. But the knowledge that they weren't gone forever made it easier.
Once again, William found himself on an airplane, looking out over the nation's capital as they flew west. He had only been there two weeks and it felt like he was leaving yet another home. Dana said it was probably because Washington actually had been his home at one point. He agreed she was probably right. She told him that Doggett had had his belongings shipped to Denver and that some friends of theirs had driven there to get it and bring it all to their house. Gibson had volunteered and had driven up from Roswell with his friend, Albert Hosteen's grandson Derek Eagleman. They had called right before the plane had taken off saying they had gotten everything and were on the way home.
William slept most of the way, leaning up against his mother who wrapped her comforting arms around him. He snuggled close, enjoying the warmth. As the plane landed, Mulder picked him up and they walked off the plane in Boise, Idaho. In case they were being followed, they wouldn't fly home, they were taking the scenic route. They boarded a bus and rode to Tuscon, Arizona where they met up with the Roswell baseball team, the Grays, heading home from a game. The Grays had been around since the 1940's and had once been an all black team with a star player named Josh Exley. Mulder told his son that Exley had actually been the one to beat babe Ruth's home run record, but it had never been recorded or recognized. Then, in a whisper, Mulder told William what Ex really had been. William grinned at his father and winked. Scully simply rolled her eyes in mock exasperation, saying something about having two baseball and alien chasing fiends in the house. As they rode on through the deepening sunset, the players struck up a song that reminded William of Nancy's favorite song, "Michael Row your Boat to Shore." It was a similar gospel sounding song, but one he had never heard. Mulder told him the Grays had sung that song on the road since Exley had been on the team years ago.
"Come and go with me to that land,
William found himself and his parents singing along, even after that song ended and someone started up "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall". William had fallen asleep again by the time the bus pulled into Roswell, New Mexico.
Mulder and Scully breathed a sigh of relief. For better or worse, William was theirs again and in Roswell, he was safe from the supersoldiers. Maybe not from everything, but in this town, where the magnetite kept them safe from the evil invaders, anyone who WAS able to come into town could be fought fairly, on their terms. They could protect him here. Scully carried her son off the bus as Mulder carried their bags. Gibson and Jeffery Spender were waiting for them. Jeff seemed happy to see his nephew again, even if the kid was fast asleep.
The stars shone brightly in the sunset across the desert as they drove home to Haven. The sight of their house was a welcome one. Gibson and Derek had graciously unloaded and set up all the stuff in William's room right before they had come home, so he had his bed to sleep in. They could rearrange later. They brought him inside and changed him into his pajamas, placing his defense device under his pillow. William woke only briefly as his mom and dad tucked him into his familiar bed, the one from the farm house.
"Mom, Dad," he said in a sleepy whisper.
Surprised, the looked down at him. Mulder leaned in closer, "What is it, son?"
William fond that he liked calling them Mom and Dad, it felt right. He had been dreaming again, of the beach. "Can we go to the beach sometime?"
Mulder jumped. The beach? He remembered his dreams years ago of the boy on the beach and looked down at the sleepy child, realizing now, that the boy was right in front of him, the boy was his son, William. Suddenly Mulder smiled. He would tell Dana later, but at that moment, he knew everything was going to be fine, William would be OK and they were going to win the war. Leaning down, he kissed his son good night. "You bet, we'll got o the beach sometime."
Dana looked puzzled, but smiled and kissed William goodnight. "Sweet dreams, Willy."
They turned off the light and went to their room, as William drifted into another dream, again of the beach.
He and his father were building the sand UFO again. They had finished and they laughed together. Suddenly William felt his mother kneel down behind them and put her arms around both of them, kissing him on the head, then his father. They all giggled together. Then his parents looked up, smiled and waved. William looked up. To his surprise, there were Bob and Nancy! They were standing on the edge of a fog bank that seemed to be glowing with light. Bob was wearing a white suit and smiling. Nancy looked beautiful, wearing a white lace dress. They waved at him and blew a kiss to him. He smiled and waved back. Then, they whispered "I love you" to him, then turned, holding hands, and walked into the glowing fog and disappeared.
As he and his parents stood up, a voice came from everywhere, a booming yet kindly voice that said, "Now it begins. But never fear, I am with you, always." William saw the fog glow in the shape of a cross, then fade away. The dream slowly faded as William drifted to deep slumber.
Meanwhile, down the hall, both Dana Scully and Fox Mulder also dreamed
of the same beach, the same encounter with the Van de Kamps, the same
voice, as the stars twinkled outside over the town of Roswell.