Title: Reclamation, Part Twelve
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 poured them each a cup of coffee while their frozen lasagna dinner baked in the oven.
"So, Skinner got that couple out of Richmond?" Mulder asked as she joined him at the table.
"Yeah," Scully answered. "When I called him just now about William he updated me. He's got them holed up closer to DC. There's a nurse staying with Mr. Clendenin, but he should be recovering from the infection soon.
"Skinner wants us to come in tomorrow morning, to set up at the safe house and..."
"Get ready for a showdown," Mulder put in.
"Are we ready?" Scully asked quietly.
"We can be. I've got the last of the ammo done. We can pack and load up tonight and leave first thing in the morning."
"What about William?" Scully asked. "What was that all about? He'd been crying."
"I think it's finally all hitting him--the grief that he hasn't had time for. Now that he's settling in here, he's feeling the loss and I think he's struggling with transferring his familial feelings onto us."
"Do you think he'll be okay going into DC? With all that might happen?" She didn't mention it, but she still hated the idea that they planned to arm an eleven-year-old boy.
"I was thinking that if we have the time we can let him do a little sight-seeing, since the Hoover building is just off the Mall. Hopefully that will give him a chance to feel a little more normal."
Scully nodded her agreement. She rose and pulled a sheet from the shopping list notepad that hung on the refrigerator door, took a pen from the kitchen junk drawer and sat down to start making a list of what they needed to pack and do before the night was over.
Mulder went up to call William down for dinner and found the boy dozing in bed, the little dog pressed against his face. As he sat on the bed William awoke and turned to look up at him.
"I'm sorry, Daddy," he said, reaching up to touch Mulder's stubbly cheek.
Mulder took the boy's hand and kissed his palm.
"It's okay, son."
William sat up and wrapped his arms around his father, unable to say all that he felt.
Mulder relished the feeling, the smell of William's slightly damp hair, even the smell of his sweat. He kissed his son's cheek.
"Dinner's ready, if you're hungry." Mulder didn't care if they ever went downstairs.
William's grumbling stomach broke the spell and they both chuckled.
"I guess I am hungry," William said with a smile.
After dinner Mulder pulled the car around behind the house and began loading cases of ammunition, three Kevlar vests, and a case of extra weapons from the storage shed out back, then brought up some boxes of medical equipment from the basement.
Meanwhile, Scully took William upstairs to help him pack some things for the next few days, making sure he packed extra underwear and setting out an outfit to wear in the morning.
William had been quiet through dinner and she didn't want to press him about what had happened outside or how he had felt. But as she took up his backpack she realized it was full.
Only then did she notice that his laptop and the picture of the Van de Kamps were no longer on the desk. She didn't say anything, but simply set the backpack by the door along with his suitcase.
"Mom," William stepped up beside her and touched her arm.
"Yes, honey?" She turned to him.
"I guess I scared you this afternoon. I'm sorry about that." He looked down at his feet as he spoke.
"I was scared," Scully admitted, touching his cheek to bring his gaze up to meet hers. "But it's okay now. I think I understand what you were feeling and why."
"I'm fine now," William said, hugging her to assure himself.
"That's good, honey," Scully whispered. "You know you can trust us with whatever you're going through, right?"
William nodded into her shoulder. After everything was loaded and their suitcases packed, Scully and Mulder came into William's room in their pajamas.
William looked up in surprise, but smiled when they came and climbed into his bed. Scully had a scrapbook that she settled across William's lap as they all sat up against the headboard.
"What's this?" he asked, opening the beautiful leather book.
"My mother--your grandmother--put this together a couple of years ago," Scully began, turning the first page to reveal pictures of herself and Mulder as children.
"Oh, man, look at that geeky kid!" Mulder laughed, pointing at himself at age ten.
"I think you were kind of cute," Scully said, running her finger along the picture.
William was fascinated as Scully slowly paged through the book. There were a few more school pictures of his parents as teenagers, some candid family pictures, mostly of Scully's family.
"Who are these kids?" William asked, pointing to a picture of Scully and her sister and brothers.
"That's my sister Melissa," Scully said softly. "She...passed away several years ago. And these are your uncles--my brothers Charlie and Bill."
"Are they...still alive?" William asked, looking up at Scully.
"Yes," Scully said, smiling down at him. "Your uncles are both in the Navy, so I don't get to see them often."
"And I have a grandmother?"
"Yes," Mulder put in. "I'm sure you'll get to see her soon. She'll be so happy to see you."
"You also have a cousin named Matthew," Scully put in, petting his hair. "He's your Uncle Bill and Aunt Tara's son and he's just a few years older than you."
William turned the idea over in his head. He had family. He thought back to the family tree he had on his laptop. This was his family, too.
Scully turned a page to reveal small reproductions of her and Mulder's official FBI Academy graduation photos.
Mulder groaned in embarrassment at the earnest expression on his young face and they all began to laugh.
Mulder and Scully told William funny stories about how they met and argued good-naturedly about how and when they'd fallen in love, finally getting to the pages where there were photos of a very pregnant Scully and then a little card with William's tiny footprints in ink.
His first baby picture was the last thing in the scrapbook and they fell into a happy silence as they looked at it.
"Our baby," Scully whispered, kissing William's head.
They lay there together talking quietly until William's eyes began to close, and then stayed together a moment longer.
Friday, October 12
"Have you ever been to Washington before?" Scully asked William as Mulder negotiated the Beltway. Fortunately, it was midday and traffic was fairly reasonable.
"No," William replied, looking out the windows on both sides of the car, trying to catch a glimpse of any famous landmark or recognizable structure from his social studies classes. "My parents talked about someday taking a vacation on the east coast, going to see some of the famous battlefields and coming to the Smithsonian. But we went to Yosemite one year and to Yellowstone last year."
"Now, see," Mulder joined in, "I've never been to either Yellowstone or Yosemite." He caught William's eye in the rearview mirror.
"Neither have I," Scully said.
"You know, after this is all over," Mulder said, striving for a casual, hopeful tone, "maybe we can take a trip out there. You could show us around, Will." He looked into the rearview mirror again, but the boy was looking out the window, a frown clouding his face.
Scully turned around to look at him.
William looked at her briefly, then swallowed hard against the lump in his throat as he turned back toward the window. Why did everything end up making him cry?
Scully turned back to look out her own window to allow William some privacy. She knew he was still struggling with his emotions. Just when she thought he had made it past this particular bump, she heard a muffled whimper from the back seat. She fished a tissue from the package in the glove box and passed it back to William without a comment.
William took the tissue and wiped his eyes and nose, grateful that no one had made a fuss. He hated being such a crybaby, but he couldn't seem to help himself. He was determined to pull himself together before they got to the Hoover building. He didn't want anyone at the FBI to think he was a baby, especially Mr. Skinner.
At last they were pulling into the parking garage. William was suitably impressed by the security guards and how they recognized his parents and greeted them by name, though they had to mention Skinner's name to be allowed admittance.
Once inside the building they signed in and got Visitors' badges--William thrilled to have his own official badge to wear. They waited for an agent that had been sent to escort them and followed him to Skinner's office.
William felt like his eyes would pop out of his head as he stared at agents with guns on their hips, maps and charts on walls, official seals here and there, including the huge FBI seal they'd walked across when they first entered. They passed other agents and workers in the hallways, William turning his head to look at almost everyone.
They entered Skinner's outer office and were greeted by his assistant, who smiled warmly at them.
"Agent Mulder, Agent Scully...I mean..." Kim realized her mistake, but couldn't think of them any other way.
"Hi, Kim," Scully said with a smile, giving her a quick hug as Kim came around the desk.
Kim stopped to look at William, who stood close to Mulder.
"Kim," Mulder began, "This is our son, William."
"Hello, William," Kim said, offering a handshake to the boy, marveling that he'd been an infant the last time she saw him.
"Will, this is Kim Cook," Mulder said as William shook her hand. "She's AD Skinner's assistant."
"He's expecting you," Kim said as she knocked once on the inner door and opened it.
"They're here, sir," She said, pushing the door fully open and standing aside.
"Come in. Have a seat," Skinner said, standing to usher them in. He indicated the chairs around the conference table in his office. "Kim, please hold my calls. We'll be leaving in a few minutes."
On the table were two thick, well-worn folders bursting with papers, and one plain manila folder.
"Check it out, Scully," Mulder said with a low whistle. He opened the file with his name on it--the thicker of the two--and skimmed through a few pages.
"And that's just for the last few years you were on the job," Skinner put in with a wry smile.
"What is it?" William asked, taking a seat next to Mulder.
"My FBI personnel file," Mulder said. "Annual performance evaluations, disciplinary actions..." He winked at Scully over William's head.
Skinner had taken the seat at the head of the table and now opened the manila folder. He handed Mulder and Scully each a small sheaf of papers.
"These are the reinstatement documents," he said, handing each of them a pen. "Sign on each of the flagged lines. The director and I have already signed off on everything, so as soon as you're finished here we'll go downstairs and get your credentials."
William noticed that his parents had suddenly become very solemn as they worked their way through the papers. He looked at the Assistant Director, who seemed both more serious and more relaxed in these offices than he had when he'd been out to the house.
Skinner caught William's eye and offered him a kind smile.
"How are you, William?" he asked. "I heard you were sick recently."
William nodded. "I'm okay now."
"Oh," Skinner began, "I have something for you." He went over to his desk, returning to put a slim vinyl wallet in front of the boy.
Skinner smiled at Mulder and Scully as William opened it.
"Junior Special Agent," William read. The simple wallet contained a mock-up of an FBI ID card with a place for his signature and a plastic gold-colored shield attached to the other side. "Look, Dad, Mom!" he said, showing each of them in turn. "Cool!"
"What do you say, William?" Scully reminded him, smiling broadly at his enthusiasm.
"Thank you, Mr. Skinner," the boy said with real joy. "Can I sign it?"
Mulder handed him the pen he'd been using.
"Here you go, Special Agent Will."
As William pulled out the ID card and bent over it to sign his name with care, Mulder and Scully pushed their signed documents back to Skinner who tucked the papers into their respective files.
"That's it for the paperwork." He looked at the three of them in turn. "So, let's go downstairs and then we can head out for lunch."
Skinner took a moment to let Kim know they were leaving, then they exited his office through the doors that led directly to the hall.
They made their way down toward the elevator, William almost stumbling a couple of times as he studied his "Junior Special Agent" badge.
Agent Peter Clark stepped out of the elevator and saw the four of them approaching. He faked a small cough to cover his gasp of surprise and kept his expression neutral as he passed them, nodding at the Assistant Director as a normal courtesy to his superior.
Inside, his heart was pounding and he almost tripped over his own feet when the boy looked up at him. He heard them get on the elevator and he risked a look back, once again catching the boy's eye just before the doors closed completely.
He almost ran to the stairwell, heading for his supervisor's office.
"Here?" Horne spluttered. "In this building? Are you sure?"
"Yes, sir," Clark answered, still trying to catch his breath. "Fox Mulder and Dana Scully and a boy I assume to be their son William were walking down the hall with Assistant Director Skinner."
"Do you know what they were doing here?"
"I haven't had a chance to ask around yet, sir. I came directly here just after I saw them. I do think I overheard them talking about where they might go for lunch."
"Does Skinner have any reason to suspect you? To distrust you?"
"No, sir," Clark replied. He had been a little unnerved by the boy's direct stare, but Skinner had acknowledged him casually enough. He hadn't had much interaction with the Assistant Director and hadn't yet been assigned to the Hoover Building years ago during what the gossips referred to as "The Purge."
"Well, we need to find out what's going on, and I need to make some calls," Horne said firmly. "Be discreet, but find out if they're here on a social visit or if there's more to it."
"Yes, sir," Clark replied, leaving the room as Horne picked up his phone and punched in a number.
William watched closely as Mulder and Scully each took their turn getting a new photo ID made, clipping on new laminated badges to replace their visitor badges, signing their official FBI wallet ID cards.
"Dad, can I see your badge?" he asked reaching out to touch the real gold shield of Mulder's badge. He knew his own little badge was just a kid's toy, but his father and mother had the real thing and he was fascinated.
They went on to other offices where they were issued new service weapons and finally new secured cell phones.
"William," Skinner said, beckoning the boy up to the table where the cell phones had been laid out. "I have another surprise for you."
He handed William a cell phone of his own.
"Really?" William squeaked. "My own cell phone?"
"It's not issued by the Bureau," Skinner replied, "but I thought you might need one and I wanted it to be a secure phone as well, so I bought it myself and brought it in to get it set up for you."
"Thanks!" William gushed. He turned it on and started exploring the features.
Suddenly he stopped and looked up at Skinner. He stepped forward and hugged the big man around the waist. "Thanks, Uncle Walter," he whispered.
Skinner smiled down at him, a little embarrassed, and ruffled his hair. "My pleasure, kiddo."
As William stepped back, Skinner cleared his throat and resumed his usual stern expression, ignoring Mulder's barely concealed chuckle. He knew Mulder had been the one to teach the boy to call him Uncle Walter.
"Let's get some lunch."
They took Mulder and Scully's car out of the building and after a light lunch at a nearby sandwich shop, they made their way to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. While William stood on the steps, looking out over the reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument, taking pictures with Scully's digital camera, the adults retreated up a few steps for a little privacy.
"I've got a safe house set up for the four of us," Skinner began without preamble.
"All of us?" Scully asked mildly. She hadn't thought about Skinner staying with them.
"Yeah," he sighed. "I didn't want to intrude on the three of you, especially since the only place I could get only has two bedrooms, but I think it's going to be better if I'm not seen going back and forth from my place to this one."
"It's only for a couple of days," Mulder conceded. "I guess we'll manage."
"I've already laid in some supplies and equipment, so hopefully we can avoid a log of coming and going." Skinner looked down at William, who was still fascinated with his surroundings.
"How's he doing?"
"He had a little...outburst...yesterday," Mulder admitted. "But I think it's a normal part of the adjustments he's had to make. I think that the more he accepts us and his life with us, the more he has to let go of his previous life and it's hard. He's going to struggle with it for a while, I think."
Skinner nodded and waved as William suddenly turned to look up at them.
"I'm going to go up there and look at Lincoln," the boy called as he climbed the steps and continued past them to get a closer look at the monument.
"Stay where we can see you," Scully called after him. It sounded like what any parent might say, but it meant so much more for all of them. She followed him with her eyes, smiling as he turned to wave back at them.
"So, what's the plan for this afternoon?" Mulder asked.
"I'll give you the address of the house and you can use your GPS to find it. I've got a few things to take care of and then I'll meet you there." Skinner looked over the milling tourists with a practiced eye, but saw no one that gave him reason to worry. Yet.
"I have no doubt that we're going to be followed," he continued, "if we're not being followed already. Take precautions before you head for that address and I'll see you there tonight."
He shook hands with Mulder and Scully in turn and then went up the steps to where William was.
"Will," he said kindly, "I've got to go for now." He shook hands with the boy and patted his shoulder. "I'll see you later tonight, okay?"
William nodded and watched the big man make his way down the steps, then went down to stand with his parents.
"Are we leaving?" He couldn't keep a tinge of disappointment out of his voice.
Mulder and Scully exchanged looks and Mulder shrugged.
"No, not yet," Scully said. "We still have time to look around some more. Do you want to go to the Jefferson Memorial?"
"Yeah," William answered with a smile. "This is really cool. Can we go up to the top of the Washington Monument?"
"We'll see," Mulder said. "There's usually a long line to get inside and we might not have time."
The three of them walked down the steps, William walking between his parents, forgetting for the moment what might lie ahead, enjoying the beautiful fall afternoon like all the other families around them.
The older men sat around the conference table in Horne's office, their team leaders stood in a loose line off to one side.
Peter Clark stood off to one side.
They had already discussed keeping tabs on AD Skinner who had been seen returning to the building without the others.
"We're pretty sure they're going to hole up somewhere in the DC area," one of the older men said. "There isn't really any other reason for them to risk coming here."
"I'm sure they're onto the test protocol," Horne said. "Our man in Richmond confirmed that Scully saw one of the subjects who had an adverse reaction. They may be planning to try to expose the project.
"Whatever happens, we need the boy alive and uninjured," Horne continued. "The others don't matter. We need the boy. We must deliver him to our contacts in perfect condition in order for their experiments to be carried out."
Clark's mouth went dry at the mention of the boy's fate. He had known for some time that the search for the boy had to do with experiments that were to be carried out on him, but as long as the boy was simply a theoretical goal on paper it hadn't bothered him. But now that he'd seen the boy with his own eyes he found himself again doubting whether or not he had what it took to be part of this group of men.
He was smart, but he'd never been as cold-blooded as his boss. Having to eliminate the subjects who'd reacted to the injections had almost destroyed him. Though he knew he wouldn't be among those who would go after the boy, he knew he had already played a part in the plan to capture him. He had reported the boy's presence; he had helped set this in motion.
He couldn't believe what he was about to do. Horne would have killed him with his own hands right in front of everyone else if he even suspected what Clark was thinking. He would have to wait for the right moment, but he had already made up his mind.
Continued in Part Thirteen