Title: Reclamation, Part Fourteen
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!
Saturday, October 13
Skinner made his way to a coffee shop not far from the Hoover building. He took his coffee to a table at the very back and sat facing the entrance.
Peter Clark slipped in and hurried to Skinner's table.
"I don't have much time," Clark said abruptly. "What do you want me to tell them?"
"That they can find the boy today," Skinner said. "He'll be with Mulder and Scully at the Museum of Natural History at ten o'clock."
"There's too much security in that area," Clark remarked.
"They'll have to follow them away from the middle of the city." Skinner couldn't believe he was putting his trust in this kid, but even if Clark wasn't completely trustworthy, giving him the information would help to draw out the enemy one way or another.
"Do you have the list I asked you about?" Skinner continued.
Clark pushed a folded piece of paper across the table to the AD and Skinner slipped it into his pocket.
"I'm a dead man after today, sir," Clark said sadly. "But I can't do this anymore."
"I can protect you, Peter, if it comes to that," Skinner offered. "With this information we can go after the men who are behind this part of the plan. And hopefully we'll be able to re-inoculate the people who got the black oil injections."
"I'll be careful, but they may already suspect me." Clark looked around the room. "I've got to go."
Skinner watched him leave, sipping at his coffee without enjoying it. After waiting several minutes he made his way out, assuming he was being followed.
Museum of Natural History
William tried to enjoy looking at the displays, the massive dinosaur skeletons and other objects in the museum, but he was too distracted. Even though he had volunteered for this plan and had discussed it at length last night, he was antsy and nervous and tired of waiting.
"Here we go," Mulder said quietly, touching Scully's arm and leading William toward the door in as casual a manner as possible. Mulder kept a hand on William's shoulder to keep the boy from looking back at the man who was following them. Mulder and Scully wore earpieces that kept them in touch with Skinner, who was monitoring from his command post position.
"It's time to leave, son," Mulder said in a casual tone, just loud enough to be heard by the man who stood near the entrance. The three of them walked down the street to their car and drove away from the Mall area.
"They're following us," Scully said, looking in the side mirror.
"Good," Mulder remarked. "They won't try anything here."
As they drove out toward the countryside outside of Arlington, they noticed a few more vehicles joining them.
"It's like a parade," Mulder muttered, as a big SUV pulled onto the road behind them.
"Will, get started," he said, catching the boy's eye in the rearview mirror.
"Yes, sir," William replied, unbuckling his seatbelt and slipping down to kneel on the floor. He pulled down the backrest of the other half of the rear seat to access the trunk and pulled their Kevlar vests and weapons case into the car. He passed two vests up to Scully and donned his own vest.
He opened the weapons case and passed Scully weapons and clips.
He took his own gun and clipped it to his waist, putting an extra clip in his pocket.
At last Mulder pulled a little ahead of the other vehicles and turned onto a dirt road. He pulled off the road and parked the car, taking his vest and weapon from Scully, and quickly suited up.
"Everyone ready?" he asked, turning around to look at William.
William nodded, unable to speak because his mouth was so dry.
They got out of the car and made their way forward through the park-like area. When they heard the other vehicles approaching, Mulder hung back a little and hid himself in the trees while Scully and William continued on ahead.
The team of operatives moved forward cautiously. They knew they had been played, but it didn't matter. They boy was somewhere nearby and their goal was to capture him.
As they followed the path through the trees the area opened up to a field and they saw the boy standing alone, looking back at them.
"Go!" the lead man ordered. It couldn't be this easy, but they had to make the move. A group of men went forward. As the men neared him, a shot rang out from behind where William stood, making him flinch.
The first man went down, then began to scream as the magnetite-tipped bullet set off a terrible reaction in his body.
William ran, but the operatives ran faster. Scully took out another man, but not before a third man reached the boy.
William pulled his gun and barely had time to thumb off the safety before the replicant was grabbing his shoulder. He pressed the gun into the man's stomach and pulled the trigger, screaming with the effort.
The man went down and William ran. He stumbled over the uneven ground and fell. He scrambled to his feet, seeing what seemed like an army of men coming at him. He could hear Scully firing from somewhere off to the side and he raised his gun to shoot as well. The men weren't shooting at him, but they were shooting at Scully and he had to help her.
There was bit of a lull for a moment as the team seemed to be regrouping, shots coming from the distance, where Mulder must have been firing on them. Scully took that moment to run to William's side.
Enough of this bait crap, she thought. She needed to get him to a safer spot. She knew that Mulder was trying to wait to come in behind the last of the replicants, but she was getting worried.
She tapped the earpiece and spoke.
"Mulder? Where are you?"
"I'll be there soon," he whispered. "Stick to the plan."
Before she could respond, more men began to come at them. William was reloading his weapon with the extra clip he had put in his pocket. Scully was carrying extra clips for his weapon, as well as for her own, and had hoped they wouldn't need them, but it was getting hard to keep enough space between the replicants and themselves long enough to draw them all into the field.
"Mom, look out!" William cried as a man came out of the woods to their right. She turned to fire and William took his stance at her back just as more men came from the left.
They continued to fire until the men fell back again.
"Come on, son," she barked. "We're going."
They sprinted across the field of tall grass, Scully pulling William along with a hand fisted into the shoulder of his Kevlar vest. She risked a glance behind her and, with no one in sight, yanked William into a hollow beneath a dense bush and pushed him to the ground.
"You stay here," she ordered, panting and looking around them in every direction. She squatted beside him. "Check your weapon-- what's left in your clip?"
He put the safety on and popped the clip out, breathing hard through his mouth. "I've got about three shots left," he panted.
"Here," Scully said, handing him the extra clip for his gun from her pocket. She grabbed his chin.
"Listen to me, son," she held his gaze with her own, trying not to frighten him, but wanting to make sure he really heard her.
"Yes, ma'am," he said, focusing on her wide blue eyes.
"You stay here. You keep quiet. You stay down!" She looked behind them once more, then met his eyes again. "Do you hear me?"
"I'm going over the hill, but I want you to stay here, no matter what you hear me say or do. You stay here." She squeezed his chin to emphasize her words. "Do you understand, William?"
"Yes, ma'am," he answered, fighting back the urge to cry.
"Mulder's coming. You stay low and hidden until you see him close by." Once more she asked him, "Do you understand me?"
"Yes," he said, nodding, letting the tears fall. "Yes."
"You use that gun if you have to--but try to wait. Don't give away your position, but if you have to, don't be afraid. Remember everything your dad taught you." Tears slipped from her eyes as well, but she swiped them away as she checked her own remaining clip.
"Mom," he whispered, grinding away his own tears.
"Be careful," he said, holding her gaze bravely.
"I will," she said, pulling him into an embrace. "You be careful, too, son," she whispered in his ear.
After a quick kiss on his cheek, she looked around the edge of the bush to wait for the right moment. She looked William in the eye one last time, saw a rustle in the grass back along the trail they had just used, and ran out in a crouch.
"William, come on!" she shouted, trying to pretend she was still dragging him along.
The dark-haired man spotted her and shouted to the others behind him.
"There they are--come on!"
Scully hurried up the hill where she knew Skinner and his men were lying in wait.
"Run, son! Hurry!" she feigned, running in a sideways crouch as if she were shielding him.
William huddled under the bush, breathing quietly through his mouth, the gun heavy in his hand. He remembered seeing a television program where a fawn lay still and quiet on the forest floor, letting his dappled coat camouflage him in the shadows.
He kept still, hoping his clothing would blend in with the bush above him. He heard the men run after Scully, their voices fading a bit as they followed her up the hill.
Bursts of heavy rifle fire came from beyond the hill, many voices yelling and cursing.
He dared to look back toward where he expected Mulder to appear, but gasped when he found himself looking into the face of one of the replicants.
"He's here!" the man shouted, rushing toward him and waving at others William couldn't see. "The boy's here!"
William crouched down low again, flicked the gun's safety off, then took aim through the bush and squeezed the trigger.
The man howled in pain as the bullet tore into his leg, then stood shaking and screaming as the magnetite quickly destroyed him.
Soon more replicants were rushing toward his hiding place, and William had to fight his growing panic as he tried to wait for them to get near enough to make his aim count.
"Take him alive!" another man shouted, pointing directly at William's hiding place.
William's breath was coming in deep gasps as he aimed again and fired, then quickly took aim at a third man, firing the last bullet from his clip.
As the two aliens began to disintegrate he scrambled to eject the empty clip and fumble the new one into his gun. "Damn it!" he cursed as he struggled to get it in the right way. When he looked up, another replicant was only a yard away.
"Aaagghhh!" William screamed as he fired again, and turned to see more of them coming at him. He tried to make himself like a machine--breathe, aim, squeeze, turn, breathe, aim, squeeze, turn, again and again until the gun merely clicked fruitlessly in his hands and his finger was cramping.
Just then Mulder came sprinting across the field faster than William could have imagined possible.
"Get down! Get down!" Mulder bellowed, motioning with his left hand.
William flattened himself on the ground, hoping he was invisible, counting Mulder's shots and hoping his father had enough bullets.
Mulder fired at the remaining aliens then swept his aim in a wide circle, looking for any more of the enemy. With his gun arm still extended, sweeping back and forth across the field, Mulder made his way to William's hiding place.
"Will!" he barked, "Are you okay?"
William couldn't answer. He was shaking all over and couldn't catch his breath. He couldn't let go of his gun and he couldn't get up.
"William! Answer me!" Mulder's voice was even more urgent. He holstered his weapon and turned the boy over, running his hands all over him, from his head down his body and along each arm and leg. "Are you hurt?"
William was finally able to shake his head, but couldn't answer. He gasped for air and then began crying. "Daddy!" he gulped. "Daddy!"
Mulder snatched him up into his arms and held him close.
"You're okay, you're okay," he whispered, fighting the squeeze of tears in his heart. He needed to keep an eye out. He was pretty sure they were safe, and a group of Skinner's men were behind him, looking for any replicants that might have been left behind, but he had to get up over the hill to see if Scully and Skinner needed help.
William suddenly pushed away, falling to his knees to vomit in the dirt. He retched again and again, his back bowing up with the force.
His arms began to buckle under him and Mulder put an arm around his waist to lift him away from the mess.
William lowered his head to the ground and sobbed as Mulder rubbed soothing circles on his back.
"It's okay, Will. It's over for now."
William finally pushed his way up, wiping snot and dirt from his face with his sleeve. He looked miserably into Mulder's eyes, then looked away.
"What is it?" Mulder took his chin and turned his face back toward him.
"I...I...had an accident..." William said in a small tight voice.
Mulder suddenly understood and ran a gentle hand over William's head.
"It's okay, son." He offered the boy a bit of a smile. "It happens to soldiers all the time."
"I messed in my pants," William admitted, blushing in humiliation.
Mulder blew out a sigh, trying to think of the best way to handle it.
"Let's see what we can do," he began, pulling off the Kevlar vest and unbuttoning William's jeans. He pulled the boy's pants down carefully just to his knees then used his pocket knife to cut the sides of his soiled underwear, carefully peeling it away and discarding it.
"Okay, get your pants up," he said, trying not to make too big a deal of it. He busied himself with eyeing the terrain one more time to give William a moment of privacy before getting ready to rejoin the fight. There was still rifle fire coming from over the hill.
"All set?" he asked him.
William nodded as he swiped at his filthy face with his dirty hands, trying to fight the shivering that was beginning in his belly. He pulled the vest on again and fastened the Velcro straps.
"Get your weapon," Mulder said, pointing at where the gun still lay under the bushes. "Do you have any ammo left?"
"No, sir," William replied, releasing the clip to show him.
Mulder handed him another clip for his gun and replaced his own partially spent clip with a full one. "That's the last of them, so if you need to shoot, make it count."
William loaded his weapon, flicked the safety on, and took a deep breath to steady himself. He really hoped he didn't have to fire the gun anymore.
"Stay low," Mulder said with a grim smile, putting a firm hand on the boy's shoulder as he crouched and began to move carefully toward the top of the ridge. "We want to make sure your mom knows we're not the bad guys."
They flattened themselves on the ground as they topped the hill, but the gunfire had stopped. Mulder scanned the field and the bluff toward which Skinner's team had lured the replicants. He could see Skinner and his men shielded behind the doors of their vehicles, but it was a moment before he caught the flash of Scully's red hair.
"Scully!" he yelled, risking his cover for a moment.
"Clear!" Skinner called out.
"Over here!" Scully yelled back. She held her breath, afraid to ask about William.
Mulder stood slowly, motioning with his hand for William to stay down until he was absolutely sure it was safe.
He turned and looked back the way they had come, but that field was also empty. "Okay, son," he said quietly, helping William to his feet.
Scully ran out from the line of vehicles as Mulder ran toward her, pulling William along with him.
William felt another rush of energy fill his tired body when he saw her and he quickly pulled a little ahead of Mulder and reached her first.
"Mommy!" he cried, running headlong into her body.
The family stood in the middle of the field, the dust of the destroyed aliens at their feet, embracing fiercely, weeping into each other's arms.
As the others began to pull themselves together, William tried to stop crying but found he couldn't. The adults had stepped back from their embrace as Skinner joined them in the field, but William kept his hands fisted in Scully's coat.
She kept an arm around him, squeezing his shoulder as she began to talk to Mulder and Skinner.
"Did we lose any agents? Do we have any injured?"
"Michaelson was wounded," Skinner replied, looking back toward the line of SUVs and other vehicles. "I don't know if everyone has reported in yet."
"Will, are you okay?" Mulder asked, running a hand over William's head and pulling him away from Scully's side a little.
"I feel funny," he said, his breath still hitching.
Scully touched his face and hands and found his skin cold and clammy.
"My legs feel weak and...and...I'm cold..."
"I think he's in shock," Scully said quietly, trying not to worry the boy.
Mulder picked William up and they made their way back to Skinner's vehicle. Just as they got to the SUV Mulder felt the boy go limp in his arms.
"I think he passed out," Mulder said, carefully laying William across the back seat as Scully climbed in on the opposite side.
She checked his pulse and pried open an eyelid to check his pupils.
"Let's just get him to the hospital," Skinner put in, climbing into the driver's seat while Mulder hurried around to get in beside him.
As they bounced and jostled their way back to the main road, Scully set to work stripping off William's Kevlar vest.
"Did he get injured?" she asked as she opened his shirt to check for herself.
"Not that I could tell," Mulder answered turning in his seat. "I did a quick check in the field when the shooting stopped; there wasn't any blood or obvious injury. He didn't mention any pain."
Scully stripped off her own vest and reached behind the seat for her medical bag and the blanket Skinner kept there. She covered the boy, propped his feet up to get them higher than his heart, then found her stethoscope and blood pressure cuff and began to examine him.
Several minutes later they were pulling into the emergency entrance at Arlington Hospital, Mulder jumping out of the vehicle before Skinner had quite put it in park. He opened the back door and gathered William in his arms as Scully ran inside to find an orderly to help them.
Continued in Part Fifteen