Title: Reclamation, Part One
Rating/Pairing: PG-13, M&S (w/William)
Summary: In the fall of 2012, William Van de Kamp shows up on Mulder and Scully's doorstep. As they learn about the circumstances that brought him to them, they must learn to be a family together while also protecting William from the conspiracy that still seeks to use him for their own purposes.
Feedback: Yes, please. firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive: Not to Gossamer. I'll submit directly there. Yes to anywhere else. Just let me know, please.
Warnings: Mild violence/violent imagery, mild bad language, William-centric (not baby-fic); Post-IWTB, mytharc-ish.
Author's Notes: Written for XF Big Bang 2010. Thanks to all who helped me--my sister, my great beta, Anubis (whose knowledge of guns and ammo came in very handy!) and my great artist, Fidella!
Sunday, October 7, 2012
The boy stepped off the rumbling Greyhound bus, his heart pounding as he glanced over his shoulder. Over the last few days he'd learned the true meaning of paranoia. The dictionary description was nothing compared to the actual feeling.
He took a slow look around the big terminal to be sure that none of the people from the bus were looking at him. He'd kept to himself as much as possible, but when his seat-mate had questioned him directly he'd said that he was on his way to visit relatives. It was a convincing half-truth, and enough to answer the question.
Though no one seemed to be watching him, he couldn't shake the prickly feeling on the back of his neck that had started the day he'd left home. It was the feeling he always got at school when he knew the teacher was watching, or when he knew Jeff Jacobs was trying to cheat off of his test paper. After what had happened at home he felt sure he was being followed.
There was a sudden burst of noise as the street doors opened and a large group of teenagers began streaming in, carrying instrument cases. The boy saw his chance and pushed his way between the larger kids and their harried adult chaperones, working his way through them and out the door, hoping that anyone who might be following him wouldn't realize he'd slipped out.
Settling his heavy backpack on his shoulders, he set off down the block toward a gas station. He had an address, but no idea if it was near or far and he was wary of asking directions. He hadn't had time to print a map off the internet before he left, so he needed to buy one of the local area.
The gas station had a convenience store with some burger chain he'd never heard of attached to it. As he stood in line to buy the map, the smell of grilling hamburgers set his empty stomach growling. It had been a long time since he'd eaten, so he took his map and went into the restaurant to eat while he studied the area.
His father had taught him how to read a map just last year so he quickly located the road he needed, but was dismayed to see that it was on the outskirts of town. It certainly seemed too far to walk from downtown.
He looked out the window at the busy streets and wondered if it would be possible to take a cab. People in the movies did that all the time, but he'd never done it before and had no idea how much it would cost. He dug in his pockets and brought out all of his money, straightening the crumpled bills and counting his coins into one-dollar stacks.
Twenty dollars and forty-three cents would normally have seemed like a lot of money to him, but it was all he had left after his cross-country bus ticket and several meals. A cold knot suddenly formed in his stomach. What if he had to go back? What if they made him go back and wouldn't help him with bus fare? How would he come up with more money? A tear suddenly sprang up in one eye and he ground it away, crammed his money back in his pockets and turned back to the map. He would figure that out if and when it happened. It was getting late and he needed to get going. If he started right now maybe he'd find the place before it got dark.
With a sigh he gathered up his things and swept his eyes across the room. It was becoming a habit now. He refilled his soda at the self-serve drink station, threw away the trash from his meal, and made his way toward the door.
A nice woman shepherding a trio of kids close to his own age gave him a friendly smile. He almost asked her for a ride, but that prickly feeling rose up on his neck again. She might be a perfectly nice woman who would be happy to help him, but then she would be someone who knew where he was going. No, he didn't dare let anyone know any part of his plan. Trust no one--that was his motto.
A city bus drove by and he made his decision. He didn't like the idea of more people knowing where he was going, but it was the sensible choice. He slipped back into the gas station and asked for a bus schedule. He compared the bus routes to the route on the map that he'd traced with his finger, already memorized and burning in his mind. He'd come so far and now had only a few miles to go.
He found his stop and waited for the correct bus, climbing into it with his head down. He looked around just enough to find an empty seat near the door and not near the other passengers. The seats were different than on the Greyhound, made of hard slippery plastic, some facing forward, his seat facing the side windows, and he found himself gripping a support pole as the wheezing bus jostled through traffic, stopping every few blocks. He was relieved each time more people got off and fewer people got on as they went further away from the city center. Trust no one, trust no one, trust no one. The mantra whispered in his head in rhythm with the rumbling of the bus's tires.
He got off at the furthest stop and waited for the bus to round a bend before he started walking. As he reached the edge of town he slipped off the road and behind a tree to relieve himself. His mother would never have let him drink two cups of soda and it was catching up to him. He hadn't thought to go before he boarded the bus.
The sky was full of heavy clouds and the sun was low on the horizon. He fished a flashlight out of his backpack and took a moment to take another look at his map. He paused to stretch and flex his tired feet, trying not to think about how exhausted he was. At last he shouldered his pack and trudged onward.
Outside of Richmond
An Unremarkable House
Mulder knelt in front of the fireplace, poking at the logs to encourage them. The night had turned wet and blustery, rain slapping against the house as the wind moaned around the corners. He hated that cold, lonely sound and the fire was his remedy against it.
Scully came into the living room with two big mugs of coffee. She set them down on the coffee table and picked up a quilt from the back of the sofa.
"How's the fire?"
He glanced over his shoulder at her and smiled. "It's coming along. The coffee smells great."
"Come and sit with me," she said, settling down with the blanket across her lap.
He stood and turned toward her, but stopped and looked toward the door. There was something, or someone out there.
Scully rose and moved toward her purse on the table by the door. Though they had other weapons in the house, the gun in her purse was the nearest at hand. They rarely had visitors unless they knew ahead of time to expect them, and with the locked gate at the near end of the driveway strangers usually resorted to honking a car horn. Having someone come directly to the door was unusual enough to make them wary. She pulled the gun from her purse and handed it to Mulder as he stepped quietly toward the door.
There was a knock, light and tentative, hard to hear against the rain pounding on the roof.
"Who's there?" Mulder asked, standing to one side of the door, half-expecting someone to burst in.
Scully remained near the stairs, all her senses straining to discern some clue as to who might be out there. If someone were coming to harm them, would they have knocked so politely?
There was another knock, followed by a voice. "Please, may I speak to you?"
The voice was high-pitched and youthful, throwing them both off their guard.
Mulder gave Scully a look and slipped the gun into the back of his waistband. He opened the door a crack at first, and then at the sight of the boy on the porch he opened it more fully.
"Can I help you?" Mulder glanced back at Scully and she moved a little closer.
"Um..." the boy began, shivering in his dripping clothes. "My name is William. I think...I think...my mother lives here."
Mulder's mouth fell open and he stared at the boy until he heard a gasp behind him.
He turned just in time to see Scully crumple to the floor.
William huddled in the armchair close to the fireplace, his cold fingers pressed around a mug of hot chocolate. They'd been really nice to him, but he could tell they didn't know what to say to him. Pointed looks passed between them, but very few words. They'd spoken to him, once the man had helped the woman to the sofa and brought her around, but just to help him get cleaned up and warm. They hadn't asked him any questions about what he'd said and he was becoming more and more convinced that he'd made a mistake.
He cleared his throat to get their attention.
"I, um, I think I should probably go. The rain seems to have lightened up. I'm sorry...I...I guess I'm at the wrong house."
"Where did you come from?" the woman asked quietly, squeezing the man's hand in her own.
William eyed her pale face, the wrinkle between her eyes as she stared at him. He turned to the man, whose face remained neutral though his eyes carried a certain hardness. William had seen the gun in the man's waistband when he'd turned to help the woman up. Could he trust them? If he was at the wrong house, if these were the wrong people, should he tell them anything? They were as wary of him as he was of them.
He noticed that she had tears in her eyes, her lips pressed together tightly, but with a hint of a smile.
"Wyoming," he blurted out. He watched their faces as they exchanged looks again, the man turning to stare at him with his unnerving, penetrating eyes. It was as if the man suddenly knew all about him.
"I'm going to go," William said again and he stood to put his mug on the coffee table.
The man took his wrist. "Is your last name Van de Kamp?"
"Yes," William whispered, fear prickling up on his neck again. "How did you know?"
"What happened? How did you find us?"
"Sit down, William," the woman said gently as the man let go of his wrist.
William stepped back toward his chair and sat on the edge, his heartbeat loud in his ears. "Are you my mother?"
She stared at him for what seemed like forever.
Her simple answer was so quiet that William wasn't sure he'd actually heard it.
"You didn't answer my question," the man said evenly.
William was surprised by the tears that suddenly filled his eyes.
"My par...parents--the Van de Kamps--are dead." He clamped his hands over his eyes and turned away from the strangers as a sob nearly strangled him.
The man quickly came to his side, a large hand gentle on his back.
"It's okay," he said quietly. "You'll be safe here. But when you can, I need to know what happened and how you found us."
William nodded, sniffling loudly as he ground the tears away. He swallowed and calmed himself, cleared his throat and began to speak.
"I always knew I was adopted, but my parents didn't know--or wouldn't tell me--anything about my birth parents. At school we were learning about genealogy and making our family trees and I wanted to include something about my biological family. I looked through the papers in my dad's desk and found the name of the local adoption agency they went through and...um..." He paused and looked away.
"What is it?" the man prompted.
"Well, I don't want to get in trouble..." William looked from one to the other.
"Did you do something illegal?" the woman asked.
"I...um...accessed some records with my computer," he answered, ducking his head a little. "They had the name of my birth mother, Dana Scully, on file and there was some paperwork about a plane ticket from Washington, DC."
"You hacked into their system?" the man asked, with what seemed to be a smile.
"Mulder!" the woman scolded gently.
"Mulder?" William asked abruptly, looking more closely at the man. "Are you Agent Fox Mulder?"
"I used to be an FBI agent, yes," Mulder replied slowly, unsure of what the boy might know.
"I read about you," William said. "When I found my information, I went on Google... There's a lot of information about the two of you and your work in the FBI."
"My name wasn't supposed to be on the adoption papers," Scully said quietly. Her face had taken on that pinched look again.
"It wasn't on the papers my parents had. I had to kind of...dig deeper. But I found it. And then I found out that you were living in the Richmond area."
"William," Mulder said gently, "can you tell us what happened to your parents?"
William turned to stare at the fire, trying not to see the horrific images in his mind.
"I'd ridden my bike into town that day, to go to the library," he began. "I ended up staying longer than I was supposed to, but when I tried to call home there was no answer..."
The answering machine wouldn't pick up and the phone rang and rang. William knew something was wrong. A strange urge inside him seemed to warn him to be careful going home.
Instead of riding along the main road he took his secret trail through the woods. The trail came out of the woods atop a hill overlooking the back of the house. He observed the house from the cover of the trees, wiping sweat from his face and readjusting his backpack. His father's truck and the family van were still in the yard, along with a dark sedan he didn't recognize. The back door was standing open, the screen door banging a little against the frame as the breeze moved it.
It was getting dark but there were no lights on in the house, no movement inside that he could tell. He got off his bike and hid it behind a tree at the edge of the woods and walked down the hill quietly, resisting the urge to call out to his parents.
The back of his neck prickled into gooseflesh and a shiver ran down his back as he crouched below the porch rail. Something told him not to go in the door, so he slipped around to the side of the house, pulled a key from a chain around his neck, and unlocked the door to the storm cellar, pulling it closed silently behind him.
He tiptoed through the cellar and up the stairs, pausing at the door. He could hear a man's voice, apparently talking to someone on a cell phone as he paced through the kitchen.
"He's not here. I was searching the house when the parents came home so I had to eliminate them. They wouldn't say where he had gone. The phone rang while I was doing it, which might have been him trying to call home, so I'm sure he's somewhere nearby. I'm going to head into town and see if I can track him down. If I don't find him there I'll come back here. He'll have to come home sooner or later. I'll get him then. I've got a scanner on so I'll be able to tell if he calls the police."
William crammed a fist into his mouth to keep from crying out as he realized what the man was saying. "Eliminate"? He could guess what that meant.
He felt a fluttering of panic deep in his belly. What should he do? Where could he go for help? If this man had killed his parents would the man kill him, too? Would they go after anyone who might help him? If he tried to go to the police would he be safe?
Tears filled his eyes, but he wouldn't allow himself to cry aloud. That man was still in the house, walking around upstairs.
William's mind was racing, trying to think of what to do. He was just a kid. What could he do?
He had to get away--as far and as fast as he could. He would need money and other supplies. But he had to cover his tracks. If he could get some place safe then he could think of what to do next, but he had to make sure this man couldn't follow him--at least not right away.
Suddenly the man's footsteps seemed very near and William froze and held his breath. He heard the man make one last circuit of the kitchen, then heard the front door open and slam closed. A car engine, then tires crunching through the gravel drive.
William waited as long as he could stand it, listening so hard that his head hurt. When he was sure there was no one upstairs he peeked out the door that opened under the back stairs into the kitchen. The house was cold and dark, but he didn't dare turn on any lights.
He couldn't bring himself to call out, his heart hammering as he tiptoed through the dining room and into the front room.
His backpack slid from his slumped shoulders and thumped onto the floor.
His father lay sprawled on the floor, half-covering his mother's body. Blood spread away from their bodies in a horrible, black pool.
He clamped a hand over his mouth and ran to the kitchen, vomiting into the sink until he thought he would pass out. He stood there sobbing over the sink, his face hot and burning.
"Mommy! Daddy!" he wailed. He wanted to go to them, to shake them awake, to deny what he had seen with his own eyes, but he knew it was no use. They were dead and the man who had killed them was looking for him.
Why? What did he want with him? William could make no sense of it.
He forced himself to stop crying. The man would be back and he had to be gone without a trace. He looked at the mess in the sink and turned on the faucet to rinse away the evidence. He caught some water in his hand and scrubbed at his face, rinsing his mouth and sluicing it over his burning neck.
He grabbed a dishtowel to dry himself off, then realized that a damp towel would be a hint that he'd been in the house. He used the towel to wipe the sink dry then took it with him back into the front room where he grabbed his backpack, trying not to look at his parents again. He stuffed the damp towel into the bottom of the backpack beneath his laptop and hurried out of the room.
He went into his fatherís study and fired up his dadís computer, stuck a USB drive into it and worked quickly. While the computer chugged away, he grabbed a file from the bottom drawer and pushed it into his backpack. At last he shut down the computer, snatching up the USB drive, and grabbed a couple of CDs and more USBs from the upper drawer, putting them all in his backpack.
He ducked into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of magnets from the fridge and went back to the study, placing the magnets under the computer's hard drive.
He hurried upstairs into his room and dug a large jar out of his bottom dresser drawer, cramming the money from the jar into the pockets of his jeans. He grabbed a few clothes and other items from the dresser, trying to think of what his mother would tell him to pack, but the thought only made him start crying again.
He fisted the tears away and grabbed his hoodie from where it hung on his bedpost, shrugging it on as he hustled down the stairs again.
He paused at the foot of the stairs, tearfully whispering a goodbye to his parents, not daring to look at them again. He edged his way back into the kitchen and peeked out the back door. He didn't close it behind him, hoping it wouldn't be obvious that he'd been in the house.
At last he hurried back up the hill and mounted his bike, heading back toward town, thinking through the plan that had begun to form in his head.
"I rode back into town, left my bike behind the school, walked to the bus station and bought a ticket for Richmond." He leaned back into the chair, his arms hanging limply over the armrests, and began to cry uncontrollably, sobs wracking his body.
Mulder lifted him from the chair and brought him to Scully's side on the sofa.
"I just left them there," William gasped. "I left them there and didn't even call the police. I ran away and left my parents there."
"You did the right thing, William," Mulder said reassuringly. "I know it was hard, but it was the safest thing to do."
Scully pulled the sobbing boy into her arms. "It's okay, honey," she managed to say before the lump in her throat stopped her.
Soon all three of them were crying.
Continued in Part Two