Title: Reclamation, Part Eight
Author: phantagrae
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. phantagrae@earthlink.net
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!

She slipped quietly into William's room, not wanting to disturb him, but concerned that he hadn't changed or gotten under the covers.

"William, honey," she said softly, running the backs of her fingers over his cheek. He was hot and clammy with fever.

He moaned softly and scrubbed his face into the pillow, repositioning himself to sink back down into sleep, away from her waking touch.

She frowned and took the aural thermometer from her medical bag and gently placed it in his ear. His temperature had risen to 103, which was higher than she had expected.

She rolled him over and began undressing him, noting that he seemed pale.

He was still half asleep as she lifted his hips to pull his jeans down, but as she slipped them off his legs he suddenly sat up.

"I'm gonna throw up," he said hoarsely, then vomited into his lap.

Scully quickly grabbed the plastic trashcan from its place by the desk and held it up to him as he continued to retch.

He started crying, upset at the mess in his lap, but wanting desperately to lie down again.

"Hang on just a minute, honey," Scully said gently. She stepped out to the top of the stairs.

"Mulder, can you give me a hand here?" she called down.

She slipped into the bathroom and returned to William's room with a washcloth and towel.

She stripped William's shirt off and wiped his face with the washcloth.

When Mulder came to the bedroom, he stopped short at the smell of vomit in the room.

"Will?" he asked, coming around Scully to see what was going on.

"Give me a hand here, please," Scully said without looking up.

Mulder helped William remove his underwear, trying not to make more of a mess than they already had as Scully used the washcloth to clean his legs a bit.

They wrapped him in the towel and Scully went to run a tepid bath as Mulder carried William into the bathroom.

"It's cold," William moaned as Mulder lowered him into the water. "I'm sorry, honey," Scully said. "We need to bring your fever down so we don't want the water to be too hot."

William pulled his arms and legs up against his body to try to stay warm as Mulder gently bathed him.

Scully went back to the bedroom to strip the bed and take the soiled linens and clothes down to the laundry room, the simple chore giving her a moment to think through her research and William's symptoms, hoping she hadn't overlooked any possibilities. This was an alien virus they were dealing with, not just a simple case of the flu.

She returned to the bathroom just as Mulder leaned William forward in his arms in order to wash the boy's back.

"Scully, take a look at this," he said. As she stepped up near the tub he pushed William further forward, revealing what looked like a large bruise on the boy's bottom.

"That's the injection site," Scully said. "Lift him up a little."

The area wasn't really a bruise, but a black discoloration surrounding the needle puncture.

"What is that?" Mulder didn't like the look of it and remembered all too well the way the black oil "worms" had crawled under his skin when he'd been exposed to it.

"Let me see his eyes," Scully said breathlessly.

They leaned him back and he moaned as Scully pried his eyes open one at a time.

"Oh, God, Scully." Mulder's voice caught in his throat.

Black swirls swam across William's blue eyes.

"I'll be right back," Scully said, her voice shaking. She flew down the stairs and on down to the basement. She opened the small refrigerator, retrieved a vial and a syringe, and practically sprinted back upstairs.

"What is that?" Mulder asked as Scully prepared the syringe, trying to keep her hands steady.

"Antiviral," she said, the syringe cap between her teeth. "Lift him up--I need his hip."

Without bothering to swab the site, she injected the drug into his other hip, wincing as he cried out.

"Shh, shh," Mulder soothed. "It's okay, son."

"It hurts," William whined, clutching at Mulder's arm. "I'm cold. I want to get out."

Mulder looked at Scully, questioning her with his eyes.

"Just a few more minutes, honey," she said gently, rubbing a soothing hand over the new injection site.

Mulder laid the boy back in the water, cradling and supporting him as William began to cry again.

After a time, Scully checked William's temperature again and nodded at Mulder. She held out a large towel as Mulder lifted him from the water and together they worked at drying him off while Mulder held his limp form.

Scully brought clean underwear and a t-shirt for him and they took him to their bed, climbing in on either side of him.

"Scully," Mulder began in a small voice, staring at the ceiling, "is he going to be all right?"

Scully was gazing at her son, trying to think past her maternal panic to assess him medically.

"Scully?" Mulder turned to her when she didn't answer right away.

"I'm not sure," she whispered, reaching across to take Mulder's hand.

"His eyes..." Mulder blinked slowly, trying not to see that image again. He knew that it meant that the black oil virus had taken hold to some degree, but he didn't want to contemplate the idea of his son being permanently affected. Surely between the vaccine and the second drug Scully had given him, William would be okay. Surely.

"With the antiviral I gave him, that should clear up," she said in a steady, distant voice. "I'll check him again in about an hour. I hadn't expected that reaction, but I think he'll be okay."

She ran her hand over William's chest and stomach, feeling the steady rise and fall of his breathing, noting that he no longer felt overly warm.

Mulder studied her face, seeking assurance that she was confident in her prognosis for the boy. He turned his eyes on his son, cupping his cheek, mentally comparing his young face with the infant face he remembered less and less clearly.

Mulder's eyes filled with tears as he leaned in to kiss William's temple.

What were they doing to him? What were they putting their son through? Though it was necessary and was supposed to protect him from something worse, still, they had done this to him, making him suffer a strange and alien virus. It was a difficult and frightening price to make the boy pay.

The world was full of terrible people who did terrible things to children for despicable reasons. Mulder had seen too much of that kind of ordinary horror. Yet for all the sorrow that human beings inflicted on each other, humanity now faced the possibility of an even worse fate, a greater horror.

Those bastards had done this, had forced Mulder and Scully to do this to their child. Would they be able to protect him? To save the world when the time came? Why did they have to be the ones to do it? Why couldn't they have had the normal life that so many others were able to have? Why couldn't they have lived and loved and raised their son in happy oblivion like everyone else? Why had they been called upon to pay such a price? Hadn't they already suffered enough?

Not his son. They could not have his son, could not take him, could not touch him. Not his son.

He drew the boy closer and wept his frustration into the pillow as Scully reached across to embrace them both.

Mulder tried to run, but his legs were heavy and sluggish. Up ahead he could see William, helplessly trapped, surrounded by alien replicants.

"No! No!" Mulder cried out, reaching uselessly toward his son. "William! No! Let him go!"

William turned toward him, but one of the replicants pressed something into the boy's neck.

William collapsed at the alien's feet, but turned his head toward his father.

The boy's eyes swam with the black oil.

"Nooooo!!" Mulder screamed. "Will! My son! My son!"

Mulder moaned in his sleep, moving restlessly.

"Will...my son...my son," he murmured.

William moved beside him, rolling his head from Scully to Mulder, almost waking. He slipped back down into sleep, casting his sleep-heavy arm across Mulder's chest, murmuring in response.


Social Security Administration Building
Richmond, VA
Wednesday, October 10

Curtis Clendenin stood in front of the bank of elevators, idly glancing over the flyers on the bulletin board as he waited to go up to his office and start the day.

One flyer caught his eye.

"Don't get the Flu this season! Get a Flu Shot instead!
When: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Where: Potomac Conference Room on the 10th floor.
Don't forget to print and sign your consent form and bring it with you.
Have a healthy Flu Season this year!"

An elevator dinged its arrival and he got onboard. There was another copy of the flyer posted inside the elevator.

"Hold the elevator, please!"

"Hey, Steve, how's it going?" Curtis pressed the Open Door button to let the other man enter.

"Hey, Curtis. How're you?"

"I'm good. Hey, are you gonna get that flu shot today? I'd almost forgotten about it."

"Yeah, I figure it's easier than making an appointment at our doc's office--and it's free. Of course, my wife and kids are still going to have to get theirs at the clinic, but it's easier for her to take them in than it is for me to find the time, you know?"

"I know what you mean. I've got back to back meetings after lunch. Who has time to go to the doctor? I'm going to try to get my shot right around 9:00 and try to avoid having to wait in line. I put it off last year and ended up forgetting to get a shot. I ended up with the flu and I was sick as a dog. Not this year, man."

The elevator bumped to a halt on the 5th floor.

"Well, this is me--have a good day, Curtis. Maybe I'll see you up on 10 later on."

"Have a good day, man."

Outside of Richmond

The sun was warming the bedroom by the time William began to stir. Scully was awake in an instant, untangling herself from Mulder's embrace, touching William's forehead to check for fever. His temperature felt normal and she turned her touch into a caress.

He opened his eyes slowly and searched her face.

"Momma," he whispered, reaching up to touch her cheek.

She smiled at him through her tears, noting that his blue eyes were completely clear of the evidence of the virus.

"How do you feel, baby?" she asked softly, kissing his forehead.

He took a deep breath, relishing her tender nearness. "I'm okay, but I'm thirsty. And hungry."

"That's good," she said. "What would you like for breakfast? I think you should eat something light and see how that settles."

"I'd like some cereal, I think," he said, taking her hand and holding it to his cheek.

"Momma," he began, shyly looking away from her gaze for a moment. "When I was born, you were the first one to hold me, weren't you?"

"Yes," she whispered, barely able to speak past her tightened throat. "Yes, my baby."

He gazed into her eyes again, quiet for a long moment.

"I love you, Momma." He leaned into her arms, listening to her heart as they nestled together.

Mulder turned his head to watch them but didn't say anything, unwilling to intrude on their moment.

Scully felt his gaze and looked up at him.

"Good morning, Mulder," she said softly, reaching out to take his hand.

William turned toward Mulder, laying a hand on his father's chest.

"Good morning, Daddy," he said quietly, rolling his bottom lip in between his teeth.

"Good morning, son," Mulder replied gently. "Are you ready to get up, or do you want to sleep some more?"

"I need to go to the bathroom," William answered. "And I want to eat breakfast."

"Good deal," Mulder said with a smile, beginning to pull the covers back so they could all get up.

William came downstairs a few minutes later, dressed in his new pajamas, looking a little pale and weak.

"What kind of cereal do you want, son?" Mulder asked from the pantry.

"Um, Cinnamon Life, I guess," he replied, easing his sore bottom down onto a chair.

Mulder brought the box and the jug of milk to the table as Scully set a bowl and spoon in front of each chair.

William shook some cereal into his bowl, but found that he was too weak to lift the milk jug.

Mulder stepped around the table and poured it for him, not saying anything to draw attention to the boy's state.

"Thanks, Dad," William offered quietly, looking up at Mulder.

"Sure," Mulder replied, patting his shoulder softly before returning to his seat.

"After you eat, I'd like you to go back up to your room and rest," Scully said easily.

"Yeah," William said between bites. "I'm still pretty tired."

"You let me know right away if you start to feel bad in any way at all, okay?" Scully continued.

"Do you think I'll get sick again?" William asked, his eyes going wide.

"No," Scully said quickly. "I just think you might need more rest than you realize. I don't want you to overdo it."

"Yes, ma'am," William agreed as the three of them continued their breakfast in the sunny kitchen.

After breakfast, William went to lie down as his parents returned to their room to dress for the day. He could hear their voices as they moved around in the other room.

His mother and father--he wasn't quite sure exactly when he'd finally really began to think of them that way. He knew in his head that they were his birth parents, but he'd found himself feeling it in his heart, wanting to call them mom and dad. They had told him they loved him and he believed it, and he felt love for them blossoming in his own heart. They loved him, they wanted him, they would take care of him, had already taken care of him. They loved him.

He snuggled down under the covers, pulled his stuffed dog closer to his face and dozed off.

Mulder followed Scully back downstairs, knowing that she wasn't going to be happy about what he wanted to say to her.

"Scully," he began. "Skinner and I were talking the other night about how things might play out, once they figure out that William is here with us."

Scully stopped and turned to look at him, apprehension furrowing her brow.

"What are you trying to say, Mulder?"

"William needs to be able to defend himself."

"You mean, like hand-to-hand combat or something?" Scully's brow wrinkled even further.

"No," Mulder said, already squinting as if he expected Scully to hit him when he finally said it. "I think William needs to learn how to shoot a gun."

"What?!" Scully almost shouted. She collected herself and continued in a normal tone. "He's just a boy. Why does he need to be shooting a gun?"

"Scully, I don't want anyone touching him," Mulder insisted. "If something happens to either of us, if we get separated or can't defend him, he needs to be able to take care of himself, at least long enough for us to get back to him."

Scully folded her arms across her chest as she looked away from Mulder and thought through his words. She shook her head even as she knew the truth of his reasoning.

"I just wish he could be spared this sort of thing," she said, easing her arms down. She looked up at him again. "I wish we could just give him a normal life, or as normal as possible."

"I know," Mulder replied, gently running his hands over her arms. "I want the same thing, but we have to prepare for the worst."

Scully nodded at last, turning away.

"Just be careful," she whispered.

Continued in Part Nine