Title: Reclamation, Part Thirteen
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!

Somewhere in the Washington, DC area

Skinner's car was already parked behind the small house when Mulder drove up, Scully and William drowsing in the car after their long day.

"We're here," he said softly, touching Scully's cheek with a gentle hand.

She took a deep breath as she opened her eyes and took in their surroundings. The street was quiet and dark, but in a sleepy neighborhood kind of way. She didn't want to wake William, but each of them had plenty of things to take into the house and he'd have to do his part.

"Wake up, honey," she said as she gently shook his knee.

William lifted his head from where he had slumped against the door and wiped a bit of drool from his mouth, blinking at her with sleepy eyes.

"Come on out and get your suitcase, okay?" She unbuckled her seatbelt and got out herself, moving back toward the trunk of the car.

William soon followed, taking the small wheeled suitcase he had packed and his backpack from the trunk as Mulder and Scully unloaded their luggage and the cases containing their weapons, ammunition and other items.

"Go ahead and knock on the door, Will," Mulder said, but before the boy could do so, Skinner was standing in the doorway.

"Come on in," Skinner said, moving out to help Mulder with the cases. "We should get your car moved around back to the garage and do a quick perimeter check. I just got here myself a few minutes ago and haven't had a chance to go over everything yet."

The two men left the cases just inside the door and went to do their security check while Scully and William looked around inside the house.

The master bedroom had a large bed with an additional twin bed crammed into one corner. The other bedroom held a full sized bed. Skinner had already put his suitcase in that room.

"You're staying in here with us, Will," Scully said, entering the larger bedroom. "Go ahead and put your things on the bed for now and we'll get settled after dinner. Can you help me with the other things?"

"Yes, ma'am," he responded, dumping his suitcase and backpack on the smaller bed.

He went out to help her put the weapons cases and other equipment in a room off the living room that was set up as an office with a large desk and small table. He noticed that all the curtains in the house were drawn closed and only a few lights were on. The house smelled a little musty and strange, but the kitchen was warm and inviting, smelling of the coffee Skinner had already started.

The men came in through the back door, satisfied that everything was as it should be.

"What do we have in the way of groceries?" Scully asked, poking around in the cabinets.

"Nothing fancy, I'm afraid," Skinner replied. "Just the basics. There's some hamburger meat in the fridge."

"Can I have something to drink?" William asked, coming into the kitchen.

"Serve yourself some water, please, son," Scully said. "You've had plenty of soda today."

"Yes, ma'am," William responded. "Um..."

"The glasses are in that upper cabinet to your left," Skinner said, pointing William in the right direction.

"Do you need any help, Scully?" Mulder asked.

"No," Scully replied easily. "I'm just going to cook the meat with some potatoes."

"I can help you, Mom," William put in. "I used to...I...I know how to peel potatoes."

Scully smiled at him and pulled him in for a quick hug. "The peeler should be in one of these drawers."

He nodded at her and started rummaging through a drawer.

Mulder and Skinner went into the small office and Skinner unrolled a map, pinning it down on the desk with the phone and lamp and a paperweight.

"I think this is the area we need to draw them to," Skinner said. "It's far enough outside of town that we shouldn't be having a shootout in anyone's backyard."

"If Scully and I can get them to follow us, through this area, you and your men can set up on the other side of this ridge," Mulder said, tracing the area with a finger.

"Yes," Skinner said grimly. "We can have some men come in behind you to seal off this end."

They pored over the map and discussed strategies until Scully sent William in to call them for supper.

After dinner, the adults were gathered in the study while William offered to finish loading the dishwasher. He could hear them discussing the plans for the next day and he wondered what his role would be.

"We're going to have to draw them out--make sure they bring all their forces. We don't want them to leave any operatives behind."

"How do we do that? What would make them think that they have to bring all their men, that it's that urgent?"

"Me," William said from the doorway. He had slipped down the hall and had stood just outside the open door, trying to understand what was going to be happening.

"What?" Scully asked sharply.

"Use me to convince them that it's urgent," William said, taking another step into the room. "I'm the one they want. Whatever their plans are, they still want to get their hands on me. They still think that I'm important for whatever they plan to do. If they think they can get me, they'll come. And if they think it will be hard to get to me, they'll send more men."

"Absolutely not," Scully said, getting to her feet. "We're not going to put you in danger like a pawn on a chessboard." She moved toward him, determined to take him back to his room.

William saw her heading toward him and he took a few quick steps, putting himself between Mulder and Skinner, closer to the strategy table.

"Come on, son," Scully said, beckoning to him. "You should be in bed."

"I'm not going to my room," William said firmly. "This concerns my life. I want to know what's going on." He softened his voice and looked Scully in the eye. "I want to help, Mom."

Scully shook her head and finally looked at Mulder and Skinner, neither of whom would look at her.

"Mulder," she said at last, "aren't you going to say something?" She crossed her arms, trying to hold in the anger and fear that were bubbling up inside her.

Mulder studied the table and the map and the notes he'd been scribbling on the pad in front of him. It made sense, as frightening and wrong as it was. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then finally looked up at Scully.

"I think he's right, Scully."

Scully pressed her lips together and stared at Mulder long and hard, then turned and left the room without another word.

She went into her room and shut the door, hardly able to keep from slamming it, and sat on the bed, fuming.

She realized now that the dismay she had felt at the idea of William learning how to handle a gun, seeing him become more interested in the aliens and the conspiracy, was really a sort of panic. She had had to fight against different groups or individuals who had tried to take William from her when he was an infant, and it was the threat of him falling into the hands of the men behind these schemes that had forced her to make the most heartbreaking decision of her life.

Now that she finally had him back, now that she and Mulder had their family whole and restored, she was again confronted by people who wanted to take the boy from her, to tear her heart out again, and the very child she wanted to protect was offering himself up like a sacrifice. And Mulder, who had been at turns angry, heartbroken, and understanding about that terrible decision, who had felt the loss of their son in his own guilty way, was now agreeing that they should use their son as bait.

There were too many ways such a scheme could go wrong. They really didn't know what weapons or resources these people had at their disposal. They didn't really know the number of the enemy they might face. They didn't quite know whether or not all the people on their own side were completely trustworthy. What if they were betrayed by one of the FBI agents Skinner had cleared?

She couldn't even begin to think about what would happen to William if he were captured. The very thought of him being taken made her finally lose her composure. She grabbed a pillow and held it against her mouth as she screamed her rage into it.

She wanted to weep and scream and to beat senseless the men who had put this all in motion so many decades ago. How could they be so selfish and foolish and hateful? Why should their compromises cost her and Mulder their son? Why should her family be forced to pay the price after so many people had already paid?

How could they ever put a stop to it?

"She's mad at me," William said after Scully had left the room.

Mulder slipped his hand down William's back and took the boy's hand for a moment.

"I think she's just angry about the situation. There's no easy way out of this and she knows it."

"But she's still mad at me," William insisted.

"No, son, she's mad at me. But it's okay. She gets mad at me all the time," Mulder said, looking up at William. "She'll be back out in a little while. She might still be mad, but she'll come back and help us."

Skinner had kept his mouth clamped tightly shut during the whole exchange, trying to pretend he wasn't in the room. Maybe Mulder was used to sparring with Scully after so many years together, both on and off the job, but Skinner couldn't always take the heat. He knew that Scully was right to be angry, and Mulder knew it, too. But Mulder and William were also right. There was no easy way out and William was, unfortunately, the best bait they had.

At last he cleared his throat and began.

"If they don't already know that William is here in DC, they'll know it soon enough."

"Mom," William called, knocking on the bedroom door. "Can I come in?"

"Yes, honey," Scully answered, wiping at her eyes before he opened the door.

He stopped just inside the door, biting his lower lip and looking at her apologetically.

"I'm sorry if I made you mad," he said at last, twisting the ends of his sleeves in his hands.

"I'm not mad at you, William," she said, holding her hand out toward him to invite him in.

"Come here."

He stepped forward and took her hand, joining her on the bed.

"I'm just mad at the situation, honey," she said, holding his hand in both of hers. "Do you understand the difference?"

"I think so," he replied, leaning into her and resting his head on her shoulder.

"I understand that you want to help," Scully said. "I just don't want you to think that you have to be the hero.

"When you were a baby, there were all kinds of people trying to get at you because they thought you were somehow superhuman, some kind of hero or savior for them or their cause. I just wanted you to be a normal child, to have a normal life. That was why..." Her voice faltered for a moment and she squeezed his hand a little. "That was why I sent you away. And now that you're back...I just don't want..."

"I'm not a superhero, Mom," William said firmly, "but maybe I am special after all. Not the way they want me to be, maybe, but if they think they can get to me, then we can use that against them. I'm scared, but it makes sense to me to do it this way."

Scully looked at her son. How had he learned to be so brave? So foolish and brave, just like his father. She turned and kissed his head, then stood.

"I'm going to take a shower," she said. "You should get ready for bed, honey."

Mulder sat on the edge of the narrow little bed as William settled under the covers.

"How's your mom?" Mulder asked, casting a glance toward the closed bathroom door.

"I guess she's worried, but she's not as mad as I thought she was," William said, digging under his pillow for the little dog.

"She told me that she didn't want me to be a hero, that she sent me away because there were people who wanted me to be their hero or whatever." He frowned up at Mulder in confusion.

"You know, your mother just wants you to be safe," Mulder reminded him. He wanted to be sure that William really understood why the adoption had taken place. "She was afraid that she would be unable to protect you. There were some powerful people who wanted you one way or another. After a while she just felt she couldn't keep them all away from you. And now she's worried again that we won't be able to protect you."

"I'm a little bit like Moses," William said thoughtfully.

"Oh? How so?"

"Moses was in danger when he was a baby," William began. "Pharaoh was killing all the Hebrew babies and when Moses' mother couldn't hide him anymore, she tried to save his life by sending him down the river in a basket. He was found and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter and raised as her son. But in the end, Moses ended up back with his family and he was the one who had to save his people."

William looked solemnly into Mulder's eyes.

"So, mom sent me away when she thought she couldn't keep me safe, and I was adopted and raised by another family. But now I'm back with my family and I have to help save my people."

Mulder nodded as he squeezed William's slim shoulder, smiling to keep tears at bay.

"I guess you're right."

"Daddy, do you believe in God?" William asked softly.

"I want to believe..." Mulder answered, still not sure after all these years. He'd had more reason to believe lately than he'd ever had before.

"I do," William said simply.

Continued in Part Fourteen