Title: Reclamation, Part Seven
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!
Mulder knocked on the doorjamb of William's room.
"Hey, Will, can you come and give me a hand?"
"Yes, sir," William replied, trying to hide his stuffed dog on the far side of his pillow.
"I need some help getting some things set up in the basement," Mulder explained as they headed downstairs. "I've got some files we'll need to move down there and then there's some equipment to put together."
Mulder opened the door to his office and led William in.
William's eyes widened as they swept the cluttered room, taking in the many clippings tacked up on the walls, the row of filing cabinets, bookcases and strange artifacts, finally coming to rest on the large poster on one wall.
"Do you really believe in aliens and spaceships?" William turned to look at Mulder, one brow raised in an unknowingly fine imitation of his mother.
Mulder was transfixed for a moment, remembering the day a young, fresh-faced Dana Scully had walked into his messy basement office. "What?" William said with an amused frown.
"You look just like your mother," Mulder said quietly, smiling at his son.
"Really?" William asked, the poster forgotten for a moment. "How?"
"Your face, your expression just now." He chuffed out a laugh. "Even the question you just asked."
William looked back at the poster.
"I want to believe," he read.
"I do believe," Mulder replied quietly.
William turned to stare at him, trying to read the man's face. He didn't yet know how to tell if he was joking or telling the truth. It felt like the truth.
"And that's why we have work to do," Mulder added. He reached past William and retrieved a flattened cardboard file box from a small stack.
"Can you put this together for me?" he asked. "The instructions are on the side. I think we'll need about three of them."
William nodded, reading the illustrated instructions as he popped the box open and began to fold the flaps into position.
Mulder pulled open a file drawer labeled "Project", and began to select bundles of files separated into hanging folders. "Ready?" he asked, handing the hanging files to William one at a time. "Put these in the first box."
William settled the hanging files onto the sides of the box, noticing that the tabs on the folders said, "Immunity", "Magnetite" and "Vaccine". He wanted to ask what they were all about, but Mulder was handing him sets of folders as fast as he could settle them into the box.
Soon they had all three boxes loaded and had assembled the box lids.
"Can you carry this one?" Mulder asked, handing William the lightest of the three.
William nodded, pressing his lips together as he took the heavy box.
Mulder took the other two boxes and led the way through the kitchen down to the basement.
"Be careful on the stairs," he warned as he flicked on the light with his elbow.
The basement had finished walls and a cement floor, work tables along the walls with a sink, refrigerator, and various machines set up on one side.
"What is this?" William asked, setting his box down on a table that Mulder indicated.
"Your mom's lab," Mulder replied. "Ever since we left the FBI, Scully and I have been working through some research to prepare for the day that the invasion begins in earnest. We didn't have direct access to the existing vaccine, so we've had to come up with our own formula. We've also been working on ways to incorporate magnetite into regular ammunition."
"This is all real?" William whispered with a frown. He was still trying to sort out whether or not he believed everything he had heard the other night.
"I'm afraid so," Mulder said gently. "I'm afraid that what happened out in Wyoming is only the beginning of the process."
"The process of preparing the human population to be invaded and enslaved by the aliens."
Father and son looked at each other for a long moment, William again trying to assess the truth of Mulder's words, Mulder hoping that his frank reply wouldn't be more than William could accept.
"Is it going to be bad?" William asked at last, trusting that this man seemed as truthful and sane as the man who had raised him.
"It isn't going to be easy," Mulder began, "and I'm not going to lie to you. It will be dangerous and frightening." He put his hands on William's shoulders and gave him a gentle squeeze to emphasize his words. "Your mother and I will do everything we can to protect you, to keep you safe."
William nodded, his mouth too dry to speak.
Mulder nodded in return and pulled the boy into a quick hug.
"Let's get to work. Scully had to take a little break and she asked me if we'd get some of this equipment put together for her."
Mulder led him to one counter that held a box of lab equipment, beakers, Bunsen burners, and other items.
They set up what seemed to William to be a maze of tubing and clamps. He figured his mother must know what to make of it.
Scully joined them downstairs just as they were finishing up.
"Hey, Scully," Mulder said. "I think we got this set up the way you said. Are you sure you're not making moonshine down here?" He smiled at her and offered William a wink.
Scully smiled indulgently and turned to the boy.
"William, I'd like you to stay down here with me for a minute," she said. She glanced up at Mulder.
"Your mother needs to talk to you, Will. I'll be upstairs." Mulder patted him on the shoulder and left the two of them alone.
"Will," Scully began, sitting on a stool beside her workbench, "do you remember some of the things we were telling you about the aliens and the invasion?"
"We were just talking about it." William nodded slowly, a little wary of what she might be planning to tell him now.
"As we mentioned, one of the initial threats was a type of virus, carried in a certain kind of black oil." She searched his face as he met her eyes, wondering how he would receive what she had to tell him. "Your father and I were both exposed to this virus at different points, but each of us received a sort of vaccine against it, so we weren't completely affected by it. Because of that exposure to the virus and vaccine, he and I are now immune to the virus."
His brow furrowed just a bit as he considered her words.
"What about me?" he asked at last.
She took his hand and tried to keep her tone light. "In my research, I've been trying to determine exactly how the vaccine worked, how long-lasting the immunity might be, or if it could be passed on to offspring. One of the reasons I drew your blood the other day was to check you for that immunity."
"I'm not immune, am I?" he asked, closing his hand around hers a little more tightly.
"Well, you seem to have some antibodies, but I would feel better if you had a higher level."
"So, I have to have the vaccine--like getting a flu shot?"
"Exactly," Scully said with a smile. "It's pretty simple."
"And then I'll be okay?"
Scully ducked her head for a moment before she continued.
"The only thing I'm not sure about is how you might feel afterward. Sometimes when people get a flu shot, for instance, they get a little fever as their body reacts to the vaccine."
"You mean I might get sick," William replied.
"It's possible," she said, trying for that lighter tone again, "but you don't have to worry about that. If you have a little reaction, I'll take care of you. You'll be fine."
"Okay," he said. "When do I have to have the shot?"
"Right now, honey." She ran a gentle hand over his back as she stood.
He watched her as she retrieved a tray of items from another area of the lab. Despite her reassuring words, he felt it wasn't going to be as simple as it sounded.
She set the tray on the workbench and began to prepare a hypodermic needle.
He began to push up his sleeve, but she laid a hand on his arm.
"Sorry, honey, but this has to go in your hip. I need you to lower your pants."
He screwed up his face in reluctance, looking just like Mulder for a moment. Scully smiled behind his back as he turned to undo his jeans. She'd seen that face whenever Mulder had found something distasteful but necessary.
She prepared the syringe then swabbed a spot on his hip with an alcohol pad.
"Just a little pinch at first, but it may hurt a bit as it goes in. I want you to take a deep breath and let it out slowly, and try to relax. Ready?"
He nodded rapidly as he braced his hands on the workbench.
He winced at the initial jab and took a breath as she had told him to, but as he tried to exhale slowly, he felt a burning pressure as the fluid went in. He finally couldn't help the whine of pain that escaped him.
"Almost done," Scully said. "I'm sorry it hurts, honey."
When she removed the needle, she gave the site another quick wipe with the alcohol swab and reached in her pocket for another of the Star Wars bandages.
"Okay, honey. You can pull up your pants."
He fastened his jeans and wiped at his eyes before turning around to face her.
She hugged him close for a moment and kissed his head. "It's almost dinner time, Will. Do you want to go back up to your room and rest, or maybe go watch a little TV?"
"I think I'll watch TV," he said, taking a deep breath. He hadn't expected it to hurt as much as it had, but he wasn't going to lie in bed and cry about it.
He made his way up the stairs to the living room, wincing a little at the soreness in his bottom that he felt with every step.
He sat gingerly on the couch and flipped through the TV channels with the remote, finally settling on some sitcom rerun that was mildly interesting. Soon he stretched out full length, rolled over on his side off of his sore hip, and dozed off.
He awoke to Scully's gentle hand on his cheek and her voice calling softly to him.
"Honey, dinner's ready. Go wash up and come into the kitchen."
He pushed himself up from the couch, feeling achy and tired, but he made his way to the bathroom and then to the kitchen.
"Are you feeling okay, son?" Mulder asked, taking in the boy's sleep-rumpled face.
William nodded as he lowered himself onto the hard wooden chair. "I guess I was more tired than I thought," he answered.
"You may be feeling some effects from the vaccine injection," Scully said. "Let me know if you start to feel feverish or otherwise uncomfortable, okay?"
She began to pass the food around the table and they began to eat.
William tried his best to eat his dinner. There wasn't anything wrong with it and it was food he normally enjoyed--spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and salad--but he found he had no appetite. Everything tasted kind of bland, though the aroma seemed overly strong. And he just didn't seem to have much energy. Even the act of chewing a bite of bread seemed to exhaust him.
He managed to get through about half his food and finished his glass of milk before he finally gave up.
"May I please be excused?" he asked, wiping his mouth with his napkin and looking from Mulder to Scully. "I'm just not very hungry, I guess."
Scully frowned mildly at him, and waved him over to her chair as she finished chewing a mouthful of food.
When he stepped up beside her she pressed her hand to his forehead and then to the back of his neck.
"I think you might have a little fever after all," she said. "Do you feel sick?"
"Not really," he answered. "Just really tired. I really want to go lie down."
Scully nodded and glanced pointedly at Mulder, not quite able to hide the wince that passed over her eyes.
"You go on up to bed and I'll be in to check on you in a few minutes, okay?"
William nodded and bent to kiss her cheek, then made his way over to Mulder and shyly kissed him goodnight as well.
When he was out of the room, Scully turned to look at Mulder.
"What do you think?" he asked her.
She shook her head and tried to sound hopeful and optimistic.
"A reaction to the vaccine isn't necessarily indicative of anything really bad. People often react to vaccines. I just worry that we've never really seen much evidence of what might be a normal reaction to this particular vaccine."
"Skinner didn't have any kind of reaction when you injected him, did he?" Mulder asked, remembering how they all had seemed to hold their breath for a few days when Skinner had volunteered to receive the vaccine--both to test its effect on an uninfected individual and to inoculate him against the black oil should he become a target.
"No, but he's an adult and he has never been injected with magnetite like William was, and...and...I just don't know," Scully replied, running out of words and thoughts at the same time. She was experimenting on her own child and she didn't want to think about what might go wrong.
William dragged his leaden body up the stairs, too tired to bother with brushing his teeth or even changing into his new pajamas.
He toed off his shoes and climbed onto the bed, lying on top of the covers, telling himself that he'd just rest for a minute and then get up to properly get ready for bed.
He pulled his stuffed dog from its place beneath his pillow and held it to his face as he let himself drift into sleep.
Scully pushed her food around on her plate for a few more minutes, then got up and scraped it into the disposal. She worked at clearing the table while Mulder managed to finish his dinner.
As she fussed at the sink, Mulder came up behind her and wrapped himself around her. He kissed her gently on the neck and said, "I'll finish here. Go ahead and go check on him."
She turned and sought strength from his embrace for a moment more, then made her way upstairs, pausing to collect her medical bag on the way.
Continued in Part Eight