Title: Reclamation, Part Two
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. email@example.com
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!
Scully got up from the sofa and took a tissue from the box on the coffee table to wipe her eyes and nose.
"William, do you have any dry clothes to change into?"
The boy dragged the back of his hand under his sniffly nose. "Just what's in my backpack. I didn't have time to grab much. I don't know if any of it is still dry."
Scully handed him a tissue and picked up the pack. She felt a little awkward rooting through his things, but it didn't take long to tell that most of it was as wet as what he was wearing. She did manage to find a dry pair of underwear. Having grown up with brothers, she was surprised he'd thought to pack an extra pair.
"Are these clean?" she asked, hoping she wasn't holding dirty underwear in her hands.
William nodded, his face reddening a little. "I haven't changed clothes since I left home. I didn't like the bathrooms at the bus stations."
"Well, these are dry anyway. We can probably find you something to wear for now and I'll get the rest of your clothes cleaned up."
"Let's go upstairs," Mulder said, rising and helping William up. "We'll get the guest room set up while you change."
William followed Scully up the stairs and into the bathroom, suddenly feeling like his body was made of lead.
"If you'd like to take a bath or shower, there are clean towels in this cabinet. You can just leave your wet things on the floor and I'll get them in the wash."
William nodded, wrapping his arms around his body, suddenly self-conscious and nervous in the small room with these strangers.
"Mulder," Scully went on, stepping back out into the hallway, "can you get the blue sweats on the top of the laundry basket downstairs? I think they'll fit him." She didn't want to embarrass the boy by mentioning that they were hers, but anything of Mulder's would have been too large.
Mulder ducked down the staircase and Scully turned back to William.
"Do you need anything else?"
He shrugged minutely. "I don't think so."
Scully stood there for a moment more, looking at this little stranger who was her son. She desperately wanted to hug and kiss him, but didn't want to impose on his emotions any further.
"Okay," she said at last. "Mulder will bring you those sweats." She closed the door and went down the hall to her bedroom and sat on the bed.
Mulder came into the bedroom a moment later. He sat beside Scully and put his arm around her shoulder.
"Oh, my God, Mulder," she whispered. Her mind was spinning.
Of all the dreams she'd had over the years of how she might catch a glimpse of her son, by accident or contrivance or miracle, this scenario had never occurred to her. She'd wondered if some day his new family might take a vacation to DC, to do the tourist thing and see all the monuments, if she might pass them walking on the Mall.
Once they'd left the FBI and she and Mulder had begun to form their new life together, she wondered if he was this boy at the park or that boy at the shopping mall. However far away he was, it wasn't impossible that his new family might somehow cross paths with her.
But she'd never dreamed that he would walk up and knock on their door.
Mulder held her and felt her trembling. As he ran his hands over Scully's back, he fought his own surging emotions.
This boy, William, was his son--the son he'd spent so little time with, the son he hadn't had a chance to say goodbye to, the son he hadn't chosen to give up. He had resigned himself to the idea that he'd never see him again and thought that he and Scully had come to terms with his loss, as if he had died as an infant, a lost child they almost never mentioned.
But here he was, knocking on their door, sitting in their living room, showering in their bathroom.
It almost seemed like a miracle, but Mulder knew better. It was possibly the beginning of the end.
"Scully," Mulder said intensely, "we need to talk before he gets out of the shower."
William turned the hot water up as high as he could stand it. He had warmed up some since he'd been in the house, but suddenly he was freezing and the hot water pounding on his body didn't seem to help. He shampooed his hair and scrubbed at his skin, trying to get his blood circulating again.
At last he rinsed off and stepped out into the steamy bathroom. As he toweled his hair he heard their voices, not too loud, but earnest and strained, the way his parents sometimes sounded when they were trying not to fight.
He didn't want to eavesdrop, but he heard his name and heard Mulder say, "that couple was killed."
He froze for a moment, but their voices dropped again. He started to dress and heard a few more words that made him curious and uneasy. "Invasion" and "conspiracy" and "I think it's starting." He understood the words, but not what they meant in relation to him or to why his parents were killed.
He pulled on the sweats and cleared his throat loudly, hoping that they'd notice that he was out of the shower.
"Will?" Mulder knocked on the door and opened it a crack. "Are you dressed?"
"Yes, sir," the boy answered.
"There's a blow dryer on the hook there, if you want to dry your hair. Um your room's not quite ready, but it will be in just a minute."
"I need my toothbrush and toothpaste from my backpack," William said.
Mulder had to smile at that. He didn't remember being all that concerned about his teeth when he was the boy's age. "I'll bring them."
After giving William what he needed, Mulder took the backpack to Scully so she could get the boy's clothes in the washer while he got started on the guest room. They had gotten caught up in their conversation about William and hadn't gotten the room ready. He began clearing the bed, shaking out the slightly dusty comforter.
On the one hand it was kind of like playing house, he thought, as if they'd always had a son, but on the other hand it was strange and a little frightening, and not just because of the circumstances which had brought the boy to them.
Would William come to trust them? Would they be able to protect him from what was inevitably coming? Mulder wondered if he would be a good father. Would he even have a chance to find out?
Scully stood at the counter in her little laundry room, pulling William's clothes from his backpack, checking pockets and counting socks. He hadn't packed much--an extra pair of jeans, two t-shirts, a couple of pairs of socks, plus the underwear he was now wearing, and, inexplicably, a kitchen dishtowel. She set aside the money she'd pulled from the jeans he had been wearing and started the load.
She had a cord strung above the machines with a hanger or two for things that didn't go in the dryer and she hung William's sneakers there.
She went ahead and emptied the other compartments of the backpack so that everything could dry out, but also because she had to admit she was just paranoid enough to want to make sure no one had planted a bug on him.
He had brought a laptop, well-protected in a neoprene sleeve, as well as a manila folder labeled "William". The pages inside were slightly damp so she spread them out on the table, a quick glance confirming her assumption that they were his adoption papers.
In the other compartments she found a picture of a couple she assumed were the Van de Kamps, a pocketknife, flashlight and compass, a map of the Richmond area, a couple of granola bar wrappers and some other trash, including a squashed soda cup. There was also a key ring with a few keys and three or four flash drives, some CDs and an address book.
At the very bottom of the front pocket she found a Matchbox car and a small stuffed dog, which brought tears to her eyes.
After all the precautions he had taken, all that he had done to find his way to Virginia all by himself, he was still just a boy who had brought along some favorite toys.
She clipped the dog to the clothesline to dry, hung the backpack up as well, and went upstairs.
When his hair was dry, William stepped out into the hallway and walked down toward the bedroom door.
Scully was folding back the covers on the bed while Mulder moved some boxes to a far corner.
"All ready," she said, with an attempt at a smile.
Mulder gave the boy's shoulder a squeeze and said, "Goodnight, William. We're just down the hall if you need anything."
"I just wanted to help you get settled," Scully said quietly, leading him to the bed. She held the covers up as he slipped in, then sat on the edge of the bed.
"How are you?"
William cast his eyes around the room and then back to Scully's face. His mother--the only one he'd known until today--would often sit on his bed at night and talk through the day with him before listening to his prayers and kissing him goodnight.
He burst into tears.
"Oh, honey," Scully said, her voice trembling as her own eyes welled up.
"I want my mom..." he sobbed, flinging his arm over his face. He let her pull him up into her arms and he wept into her shoulder until his throat ached.
She rocked him and patted his back, her own tears falling onto his shoulder.
"I'm so sorry, honey. I'm so sorry," she repeated over and over, not knowing what else to say.
At last he fell asleep in her arms and she laid him back on the bed, kissed his forehead and tucked him in. She left the door open and left the hall light on in case he woke in the night.
Mulder was waiting for her in their bed, his eyes soft with sympathy as she joined him.
"Is he asleep?" he asked gently.
Scully nodded and rolled into Mulder's arms.
"Poor thing," she said, her voice muffled by Mulder's t-shirt. "He's traumatized, Mulder, and probably hasn't had a chance to process everything. I mean, think of all he's been through--not only did he see his parents lying there, but he thought of all those things to do to get out of town unseen. He spent who knows how long on a bus trip and then hiked all the way out here. He hasn't had any downtime to let it all sink in."
"And there's no guarantee things will get any better in the days or weeks to come," Mulder added. He still couldn't believe what was happening--that what they'd silently hoped for and actively dreaded had actually begun. "Something has been set in motion. We need to find out if there's a trail that leads back here. If he was able to find us, whoever came after his parents could be following him. They were obviously able to find his home in Wyoming. If they were there looking for him and were willing to kill, they won't give up."
"If my name was attached to those adoption papers..."
"I think we need to talk to Skinner."
"Mulder..." Scully's voice was suddenly quiet and small.
"What?" he asked gently, caressing her shoulder.
"Our son our son is home."
He pressed her to his heart, letting slip his own tears of sorrow and joy.
His father lay sprawled on the floor, a dark halo of blood spreading around his head.
He ran to try to help him, but he heard his mother scream and turned just in time to see her fall, blood pouring from her head.
He spun around but couldn't see where the shots were coming from. He heard another shot and tried to run, but his legs felt like lead and he couldn't seem to move.
"Help me!" he screamed, though he couldn't see anyone nearby. "Somebody help me! Help me!"
Mulder launched himself across the bed, dragging the comforter halfway off the bed before he could untangle himself.
Mulder stumbled into the second bedroom, slapping on the light. In his sleep-addled state, he half-expected to see someone attacking the boy.
"William! William, come on, wake up," he said, catching the boy's flailing arms. He gave him a gentle shake and William awoke with a gasp.
"It's okay," Mulder began. "You were just having a bad dream."
By now Scully was standing in the doorway, her hand at her throat as she willed her heart to slow down.
William looked around wildly for a moment, then seemed to realize where he was. Suddenly he sat up and kicked the covers away.
"What..." Mulder began.
"I need to pee," William said abruptly, pushing past Scully to the bathroom.
"How is he?" Scully asked as they stood in the hallway.
Mulder shook his head.
"I don't know. Go ahead and go back to bed. I'll get him settled again."
Scully nodded and stretched up for a kiss. "I'm going to go put his laundry in the dryer first."
Mulder heard the toilet flush, but William didn't come out right away. Just as Mulder was about to knock, he heard William throwing up. Mulder entered to find the boy kneeling in front of the toilet.
"Oh, son," he said, stepping up to support William's forehead until he was finally able to sit back on his heels.
Mulder handed him a glass of water.
"Are you okay, now?" Mulder studied the boy's pale face, noting how much he looked like Scully--his eyes and nose, the point of his chin. He'd called him "son" a moment ago, the word slipping so easily from his mouth. He took the glass when William passed it to him and helped him to his feet.
"I'm cold," William muttered as they walked back to his room. He wrapped his arms around his trembling body.
Mulder settled him back into bed and sat beside him.
"Do you want to talk about your dream?"
William chewed his lower lip for a minute.
"I saw my parents...I saw it happening and I couldn't...I couldn't help them...and...and...then someone was trying to kill me...and I couldn't run..." He pressed his fingers against his eyes and tried not to cry again.
Mulder nodded sympathetically and ran a hand over William's damp hair.
"It's gonna be okay," he whispered, hoping it was true.
"I'm sorry," William said. "I'm sorry I woke you up."
"Hey," Mulder said with a smile, "it's okay. When I was a kid I went through a time where I had nightmares every night. Only I would sometimes wet the bed and barf all over myself." His face reddened with his admission. He'd never really told anyone those details, not even Scully, but it seemed right to tell his son.
William stared at him, his own fears forgotten for a moment. "Why were you having nightmares?"
Mulder swallowed hard. Even now the memory could choke him up.
"When I was twelve, my little sister Samantha was taken. She and I were home alone and...someone...took her. At the time I was so traumatized that I couldn't really remember what had happened, but the bad dreams would come every night."
"Every night?" William clutched at the blankets.
"For a little while," Mulder fudged. "But it got better."
"I don't want to go back to sleep," William said, scrubbing at his tired eyes. "I don't...I don't...I'm...I'm afraid," he finally admitted. He covered his face again, feeling like a crybaby.
Mulder nodded, blinking back tears.
"Grab your pillow," he said, gathering up the comforter and lifting William easily in his arms. He carried him into the master bedroom where Scully was lying awake on her side of the bed.
"William's going to stay with us tonight," he said, settling the boy in the middle of the bed on top of the covers. He helped get William's pillow and blanket straightened out and climbed under his own covers on the other side.
As the three of them got comfortable, William snuggled down under his blanket, finally feeling at ease. From what he'd heard them discussing, his earlier sense of danger had been justified, but for now he felt safe. He'd been alone and afraid since he left his home, not knowing if he was making a mistake. But now, with these people, at this house--he knew that somehow he belonged here and that if anyone could help and protect him, it was Mulder and Scully.
Continued in Part Three