Title: Reclamation, Part Five
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!
William and Scully sat on the sofa, his adoption papers spread across the coffee table. She was looking through the information while he studied her face, wondering if he looked like her. He'd stared at himself in the mirror this morning and had been stealing looks at her all day.
Both their thoughts were interrupted when they heard the sound of more than one car approaching the house.
"William, stay here," she said in a firm steady tone that forced him to obey.
She stood and peeked out the window, then relaxed. "It's okay. It's just Mulder...and a friend."
A few minutes later Mulder came in, followed by a large balding man wearing a trench coat and round glasses that didn't hide the tension that creased his eyes.
The bald man stared at him until William felt like squirming.
"William, this is a friend of ours," Scully began. She sat next to him again, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "His name is Walter Skinner. He used to be our boss at the FBI."
"Hello, young man," Skinner said, stepping forward to offer William a handshake. He exchanged looks with his two former agents then slipped off his coat and sat in the armchair near the couch.
Mulder sat on the coffee table.
"Will," Mulder began, "there are a lot of things we're all going to have to talk about. I don't want to treat you like a little kid because you know almost as much about what's going on as we do, and because you figured out how to find us and get all the way out here all by yourself. You're a smart kid, a resourceful kid, and you need to know some things."
"Mulder..." Scully slipped her arm around the boy and pulled him close, as if she could protect him from the truth of all of their lives.
"Scully, you know we need to tell him. He deserves to know."
"Tell me," William said simply.
Skinner couldn't stop staring at him. He looked like such a perfect combination of the two of them. As the boy anticipated Mulder's words, his frown looked just like the one on Scully's face--the little crease between the brows--and though his eyes were blue like hers, their shape and expression was more like Mulder's, and there was something...Mulderish...about his mouth.
Silence hung in the air between them and Skinner felt he knew how to make it all easier.
"Why don't we wait and talk about this over dinner?" he suggested, standing up. "I'll even help you cook, Scully."
Mulder nodded. "That sounds like a good idea."
Scully pressed her lips together as she considered it, at last nodding her agreement. At least it would give her something to do with her nervous hands. She'd already thawed some hamburger for Sloppy Joes, hoping that kid-friendly food would help William feel more comfortable in a strange home.
As Scully and Skinner went into the kitchen, Mulder helped William gather up the adoption papers and put them back in the file.
"Will," Mulder began, "you said you looked up some of your adoption information online."
"Did you do that at home? On your family's home computer?"
"On my laptop, while I was at the library. I didn't want my parents to know I was trying to...access...some of that information."
"Did your parents have a computer? Was there any information about your adoption on that computer?"
William nodded and took a deep breath, not wanting to think about all that he'd done the night he left.
"My dad kept everything backed up on flash drives and CDs. I took all that stuff and wiped his hard drive."
"You know how to do that?" Mulder wondered just how smart the boy was.
"I read about it somewhere, about how to do it," William said with a shrug. "I read a lot of stuff."
"That's good," Mulder said. "You did the right thing." He thought for a moment and continued.
"How did you buy the bus ticket from Wyoming?"
"I knew I was too young to buy it myself because my friend Danny tried that once and got into trouble. So I asked someone to buy it for me."
"Someone?" Mulder was afraid this would be where William's trail might be visible.
"Another kid--an older kid," William answered. "He was 17, I think he said. He was traveling by himself to Texas."
"And he just agreed to buy the ticket for you?"
William shrugged. "I bribed him with my iPod."
"And you don't think he told anyone?"
William shook his head. "He didn't look like the kind of kid who would talk to grown-ups."
Mulder was impressed by the boy's thought process. As Scully had pointed out last night, he had somehow set aside whatever fear or panic his parents' deaths may have caused him and was able to think clearly about what needed to be done and how to keep from being followed. It was uncanny for an eleven-year-old boy. And yet, he was still just a boy--frightened and vulnerable.
"Can I ask you something?" William's voice was quiet as he leaned closer to Mulder.
"What should I call you...and...her?" His face flushed a little. He'd always been taught to address adults respectfully, but he was unsure of himself in this situation. They were strangers to him, but they were his biological parents--and the only relatives he had now. But even they called each other by their last names. Were they married? In his experience he would have assumed she was Mrs. Mulder, but it was all so confusing.
Mulder was thrown off a little. Normally he would have just suggested the boy call him Mulder like almost everyone else did, but this boy was his son. Was he prepared to have William call him Dad? Would William even want to do that? The boy had had a father until just a few days ago. That was the man he'd called Dad.
"Well...what would make you comfortable?" he said at last. "You can call me Mulder, if you want to, or...or...well..."
"Are you my father?"
Mulder half-gasped, half-chuckled at the boy's direct question. He'd been wondering if and when they'd talk about this subject, but hadn't expected it to come up so soon. He nodded...and kept nodding because his mouth was suddenly dry. At last, he swallowed and found his voice.
"Yes, William. I'm...I'm your father."
They stared at each other for a moment, each unsure of what to say next.
"William! Mulder!" Scully's voice came from the kitchen, breaking the spell between father and son.
"I guess dinner's almost ready." Mulder stood and, putting an easy hand on William's shoulder, led him to the downstairs restroom. "Let's get washed up."
At the dinner table, after they'd all eaten and wiped the Sloppy Joe sauce from their hands and faces, Mulder cleared his throat.
"I think we're ready to go through this." He cast his gaze around the table, holding each person's eye for a moment.
He looked primarily at William as he ran through a condensed accounting of how he'd found the X-Files, how Scully had joined and helped him in his work, what they had finally come to understand about the international conspiracy and their involvement with the planned alien invasion. Scully explained the threat of the alien black oil virus, the work toward developing a vaccine against it, and the more recent development of the alien replicants or "SuperSoldiers", the alien infiltration of the military, the FBI and other divisions of the government and how Scully had learned of their vulnerability to magnetite.
"Aliens?" William blurted out. "Like in 'Independence Day'? I don't believe in aliens." He shook his head and took a drink from his glass of tea.
Skinner had to chuckle. "I never did, either, William until I saw your father taken away in an alien ship."
William's eyes widened as he looked from one adult to another. Then his eyes narrowed again.
"You're just teasing me..." he said suspiciously.
Skinner shook his head. "Nope. I saw it with my own eyes. Mulder was taken aboard an alien ship and was missing for several months. When he came back..." His voice faded away as he realized he was getting into complicated territory. "Anyway, it's all true."
Suddenly the adults were all studying the tabletop and William knew that not only was the story about the alien ship true, but that whatever happened afterward was not something they wanted to tell a kid.
"So, what happened after that?" he said, still not sure how much of the story he could believe.
"Well, Scully was pregnant with you at the time I was abducted. I was returned just before you were born."
Mulder stole a glance at Scully and squeezed her hand briefly as he continued.
"Just before you were born we learned of a plot against us--people who wanted to interfere with your birth, with my recovery... After you were born, I was forced to leave, because of these threats, but there were several attempts to kidnap you."
"It was made clear to me that you would never be safe as long as you were with me," Scully said quietly. "I wanted so badly to take care of you, to protect you, but...but..."
"She was alone," Mulder continued, keeping Scully's hand in his. "In the end she felt that sending you away was the best way to keep you safe. You have to understand that we loved you very much. You were a miracle--a child we never thought we could have. We never wanted to give you up."
William looked back and forth between the two of them, trying to understand what they were telling him.
"So, my parents...they didn't know anything about all of this?" William asked quietly.
Scully shook her head. "And we knew very little about them--just a name and the state where you'd been sent."
"It was handled through a string of agencies. It was supposed to hide both ends of the connection from anyone who might go looking..." Skinner faltered again. He couldn't look the boy in the eye and felt responsible for the deaths of that innocent couple.
"Anyway," Mulder took up again, "what it comes down to now, Will, is that someone has made a move. We knew the date was approaching, but we weren't sure how or where it would start."
"But why did they come after me?" William asked. "What do they want from me?"
"They want you because you're our son," Scully said. "Perhaps because of what your father and I both experienced...things...that were done to us...things we were exposed to. They feel that you're special, somehow."
"Am I?" William held her gaze steadily.
Mulder admired the boy's ability to get to the point and decided to be just as frank.
"Maybe you are."
"But but, I'm not. I'm not special." William turned his firm gaze on Mulder, but he couldn't keep a hint of fear out of his voice.
"Maybe not in an obvious way," Mulder continued, trying to make his tone as gentle as possible. "Maybe in a way even they themselves aren't sure of. But whatever it is they want we're not going to let them have it."
William rolled his lower lip in between his teeth to keep it from trembling. They were starting to scare him and he didn't want to cry in front of everybody.
"William," Scully said quietly, tears pooling in her own eyes. "Come here." She held her arms open to him, scooting her chair back from the table as he came around to climb into her lap.
"Guys," she said, looking Mulder in the eye, "I think we're done with this conversation for now."
William slipped into the bed in what had become his room. Scully had put his things in here for him--hung his few clothes in the closet, arranged his other belongings on the small desk, including the picture of his parents. His stuffed dog was beside his pillow.
She came in a few minutes later. "Are you feeling better?" she asked, sitting beside him on the edge of the bed.
"I'm okay, I guess." He studied her face for a moment. "I'm sorry I got upset earlier."
"It's okay. You don't need to apologize." She smoothed his hair and tucked the blankets around him. "We're all a little upset by all of this. We've all had some surprising events, especially you."
He could hear the two men still talking downstairs, though he couldn't make out what they were saying. Their voices rose and fell, sometimes sounding angry or anxious, then falling away to a calmer level.
"What's going to happen? I mean is it going to be soon?" He clutched at the blankets, fear creeping back to flutter in his stomach. Suddenly he wanted very much to be back home, to turn back the clock and undo all that had happened in the last few days.
Scully pulled him up into her arms.
"It's okay, honey. It's going to be all right." She rubbed his back and kissed his forehead, rocking him a little. "Nothing's going to happen right away. You're safe right now and it's all right."
"But it's scary," he murmured into her shoulder. "And I don't think I understand what's happening."
"Well, you don't have to understand it all tonight. We can talk about it tomorrow as much as you need to." She eased him back onto his pillow. "Tonight you just need to try to rest. Do you want me to stay with you for a while?"
"I want to go back downstairs and stay with you guys. I don't want to be up here all by myself." He looked out the window at the black night. The wind had risen again and was moaning around the corners of the house. "Can't I stay downstairs until you come up to bed?" He clutched at her arm, his blue eyes pleading with her.
"Oh, honey, it's so late." Scully put her hand to his cheek. "How about if I sit up here with you until you fall asleep? Mulder and I will be up before too long and I promise we'll come and look in on you before we go to bed."
William fought against the tears that made him feel like a baby, but he allowed himself the indulgence of clutching at his stuffed dog. He nodded his head at her proposal. "Please stay with me for a while." He rolled over on his side, facing her, and pulled the covers up to his chin.
She wanted to pet his hair, to caress his cheek, to kiss and embrace him and feel the solid reality of him. She didn't want to embarrass him or make him feel uncomfortable, but, oh, how she longed to hold him, how her body ached at the memory of carrying him.
He was her baby, her son, the child she'd carried in her womb. She'd nursed him, bathed him, changed his diapers, known his little body from head to foot.
But he was a stranger now, both familiar and completely unknown. He had developed tastes and preferences that she knew nothing about. What books had he read? What television shows did he like? What kind of music did he listen to? Did he like sports or did he prefer indoor activities?
She didn't know the answers to these questions, but she longed to know them, longed to know her son. Her son.
She'd made the most difficult decision of her life in giving him up, and she was never quite sure if it had been the right thing to do. She'd felt guilty, but also hopeful that he had had a better childhood than she might have been able to provide for him. But it had never settled well in her mind, let alone her heart, especially after Mulder returned. He had been so heartbroken, though he did his best not to let on.
She knew he'd resented her decision at his lowest moments, but to his credit he'd never used it against her.
But now William was back and she was determined that she would never let anyone take him again. She knew they faced a daunting enemy, but she knew how to kill when she had to. And when it was all over, she would learn this boy inside and out once again.
She allowed herself the indulgence of running a hand through his hair, committing its silkiness to memory. She moved her hand over his cheek then down along his right shoulder as she bent to kiss his forehead.
He looked up at her with trusting, gentle eyes, not as frightened as he'd been just a moment ago.
Tears welled up in her eyes as she bent to kiss him again, on his downy-fuzzed cheek. She felt his arms wrap around her and she pulled him up into her arms once more. Perhaps he longed for her as much as she for him.
"I love you, honey," she whispered in his ear. "I love you."
She continued to rub his back, wishing he was once again the infant she had held and rocked. She could feel the tension in his back come and go, the occasional slight shudder of the quiet tears he tried to hide from her.
Would he ever feel safe and happy again? Would any of them?
After Skinner had left for the night, Mulder joined Scully in their bedroom.
"How's Will?" he asked as he pulled his sweater off over his head and kicked off his shoes. "I told him we'd look in on him," Scully began, "but I hope he's still asleep. He was a little upset."
"I can imagine," Mulder said, changing into his pajama pants. "I'm sorry about all that tonight, but I think we had to tell him as much as possible."
Scully nodded grimly. "I know, but it was hard on him."
Mulder took her hand and led her down the hall to their son's room. They slipped in quietly and gazed down on his slumbering form.
Mulder couldn't resist running his hand gently across the boy's shoulders, wincing a little as William sighed and shifted on the bed.
He bent to kiss the boy's cheek.
"Shhh," he whispered, quieting him again. "Goodnight, son," he murmured close to his ear. "I love you." He stepped away, taking a deep breath to quell the tears that pressed against his heart.
Scully kissed William as well and they stepped out before they woke him.
Back in their room, Mulder took Scully in his arms and kissed her for a long moment, his heart full to overflowing.
"I'm sorry about the circumstances," he whispered into her hair, "but I'm so happy he's here."
Scully led him to the bed and pulled him down on top of her, kissing him, inviting him.
They made love with the moon peeking in on them.
Continued in Part Six