Katy slipped the door open quietly to let herself into her parent’s bedroom. Scully was in the rocking chair, nursing Chrissy. She put her finger to her lips to keep Katy from waking Mulder.
“I’m awake.” Mulder moved, raising his head.
“Did I wake you?” Scully asked quickly.
“No, I just wanted to watch you.”
Scully smiled then though her cheeks pinked.
Mulder turned to Katy, “What’s up Kiddo?”
Katy touched Chrissy’s foot, then moved away and crawled onto the bed beside Mulder. He grabbed up his t-shirt from the foot of the bed and slipped it on. Even when it was cool at night he slept without it, knowing that Scully slept better when she was against his skin.
“It’s Uncle Bill.”
Both adults froze, looking at each other. “Yeah, what about him?” Mulder tried to sound casual.
“He’ll be here tomorrow; probably around lunch time.”
“That soon? I thought it would be longer.”
“We’ve been watching him, but there was nothing to do.” Katy shrugged.
Mulder hugged her against him, “And we’ve been ‘busy’. I’m sorry, Baby. You know you can come to me.”
“I know that Dad. There was nothing to do.”
“Do you know who’s with him yet?” He asked.
Katy shook her head, “But it’s a clone, like the fake Bill, not an alien. We don’t know who it is. It’s all black so we can’t see a face.”
Mulder looked at the ceiling for a moment. “I guess I’ll meet them before they get here.”
“Mulder - “ Scully immediately began to protest.
“You should have Todd and Will with you.” Katy informed him calmly.
“Okay.” Mulder watched his daughter. “Why?”
“You should also have Greg and Jerry. They should be in the bushes, hidden and with guns.”
“Guns?” Scully sat up straight, disturbing Chrissy who looked up at her mother.
“You won’t need them, but that’s what Uncle Bill understands. You know he still doesn’t believe there are aliens. He still thinks everyone died because of a disease.”
Mulder murmured an oath that Scully couldn’t quite hear, but didn’t need to. She felt the same way.
“Katy, why don’t you want Walter to be there?” Scully tried to be casual with the question, helping Chrissy find her nipple again.
Katy sighed, “Grandma is going to be upset. Granddaddy should be with her.”
“It’s not because of his health?” Scully pressed.
“Granddaddy’s heart is fine now. Walt didn’t know what to look for. He does now and he’s looked at everyone’s heart. But Grandma isn’t convinced.”
Scully looked over at Mulder, then back to Katy. “Why not?”
“Because of my first granddaddy. The one I didn’t meet. She’s scared.”
Mulder hugged Katy to him. “You understand that, don’t you?”
“I guess. We wish she could just trust us.”
“Baby, she lived a long time in a world that didn’t have you in it. She’s adjusting the best way she can.” Mulder touched his daughter’s cheek.
Katy nodded. “Don’t worry about Granddaddy. Walt won’t let anything happen to him.”
Mulder watched her for a moment, then smiled. “I better get dressed. We’ve got things to do.”
Mulder stood to the left of the road, the binoculars to his eyes. The others stood around him, waiting. No one doubted the timetable, Katy had sent them out. Mulder straightened up quickly.
“Yep, that’s good old Bill.” He muttered to himself.
“Who’s with him?” Todd asked quietly.
“Can’t tell, he’s behind . . . oh shit.”
All four of the men with Mulder froze. They didn’t speak, waiting for him to continue. Finally Mulder lowered the binoculars from his face, “Krycek.”
“What?” Will got it out first, but Todd repeated the question almost simultaneously.
“Katy said it was a clone. I guess this is good. They’re not infallible with their information.” He shook his head. “Get in position. We’ll take them in the back road, to that empty house next to Kevin’s. Will, can you let Katy know?”
“She already does.” Will laying the rifle across his arm.
Mulder nodded. Jerry moved behind the cover on the left of the road. Greg moved across the road and Todd took up his place on the other side of Mulder. His rifle was also prominently displayed.
When the two men rounded the corner their steps faltered. Obviously the element of surprise was lost to them. Bill stepped forward, to Mulder, but didn’t offer his hand.
“Bill, just in the neighborhood?”
Bill huffed at him, glancing at the two men flanking him, taking in the weaponry.
Mulder looked over at ‘Krycek’. “I’m not sure which of you I’m more pleased to see.”
Krycek sneered. “You always make me feel so welcome, Mulder.”
“I understand my family is here, Mulder. I’m here to see them.” Bill took over the conversation.
“Yes. My mother, my brother, my remaining sister.”
Mulder didn’t even wince, this was an old taunt. He wasn’t going to let Bill have the satisfaction. “So you want to ‘visit’ them?”
Bill’s eyes hardened. “They’re my family. If they want to escape you, of course I’ll help them.”
Mulder chuckled at that, causing Bill’s eyes to narrow. “Okay, if they want to leave with you, we’ll talk about it.” He looked over at Will, “Want to say hi?”
Will shrugged, “Not really.”
Bill turned to look at the young man he had mostly ignored before.
“Uncle Bill.” Will nodded to him slightly. He didn’t bother to offer his hand either, just keeping the gun laid across his arm.
“Will?” Bill took a step closer and Todd adjusted his hold on the rifle in his arms.
“Yeah, been awhile.”
“You’re . . . you’re grown.” He was obviously shaken by the introduction and the fact he hadn’t recognized the boy.
“Come on, Bill, I’ll introduce you to the rest of your family.” Mulder turned then. Bill took a step toward him and both Todd and Will adjusted their rifles accordingly. He stopped immediately.
Jerry and Greg stepped out into view then. Bill closed his eyes, pissed at himself for missing them. “They’re going to frisk you, Bill and you, ’Krycek’.”
“Frisk me?” His anger was growing.
“Yeah. Maybe someday we’ll tell you the story of why. Put your hands behind your head.”
They did grudgingly. Once Greg was assured they were clean, he nodded and Jerry prodded them to start walking. Bill and Krycek watched the four men surrounding them. Mulder didn’t bother to turn around and see if they were following him.
They walked less than half a mile up the road, then turned into the driveway of the first house they came to. Mulder stepped onto the porch and opened the door. He saw that Kevin had had a table and chairs moved into the empty house. There was a pitcher of water and three glasses, along with a loaf of bread.
He motioned for Bill and Krycek to enter and take seats. Mulder sat with them. The other four men took up positions around the room. Bill eyed them, his anger growing.
“What’s going on here? Bread and water, four armed guards. I’m here to see my family. What’s your problem?”
“We’re fairly isolated up here. Before I’m going to expose you to my people, you’ll have to be inoculated. While we’re getting that ready, we want to talk to you about where you’ve been, what you’ve been up to.” Mulder settled back in his chair. “How the two of you met up.”
Bill glared at him, then glanced back over at Will. He took a breath, then poured himself a glass of water.
Before he spoke, Krycek pulled a hunk of bread from the loaf. “I heard where he was Mulder. I’d brought the rest of the family here. Just wanted to complete the set.”
“So you went to him?”
“He did me a favor. I didn’t know any of my family had survived the plague.” Bill glared at Mulder.
“You mean the invasion?” Mulder offered.
“Oh give me a . . . Mulder are you still looking for little green men? Are you never going to grow up?”
Will and Todd exchanged glances and Bill caught it, but misinterpreted it. “See? Even your own people think you’re crazy.”
Mulder smiled then, “Yeah, I’m crazy. There are no aliens, this - “ His gesture encompassed a lot more than his little village, “this was just an accident.”
“That’s right. A virus got out of hand in Russia. They brought it here deliberately. It spread too fast, we weren’t ready.”
“Well, I agree with you on that point. We weren’t ready, though Scully and I tried.”
“Dana, her name is Dana.”
“Right again, Dana, Dana Scully Mulder.”
Bill face was impassive at that. He’d assumed as much, but there had been hope. They sat is silence for a few minutes then.
Finally Bill looked over at Will. “Do you believe this alien crap?”
Will smiled at him, indulgently it seemed and Bill bristled. “Yeah, I believe this alien crap.” He didn’t offer more, so Bill turned back to Mulder.
“What are we waiting for? I want to see my family.”
“One more question, Bill. Since you don’t believe in aliens, do you believe in clones?”
“Clones? Hell no. We didn’t have that kind of technology and now we probably never will. There’s no government to fund it. It’s . . . it’s science fiction.”
Mulder nodded, then looked over at Todd. Without saying anything Todd moved to the door and spoke to someone just outside. Bill rolled his eyes but stopped, stunned when the door opened wider and the man sitting beside him reentered the room.
“Bill, this is Alex Krycek.”
Bill’s mouth had dropped open for a second, but he immediately grasp control again. “I don’t know what kind of trick - “
“It’s no trick, Bill.”
Everyone turned to look at Krycek, sitting shock still beside him. “I don’t know what you . . . “ Krycek’s voice trailed off as Alex took Mulder’s seat.
“I mentioned that we were isolated up here. Part of coming here, living here, means you have to be inoculated with the serum that Scully, Dana, developed against the virus that wiped out most of humanity. If you want to see your family, that is the stipulation.”
“If you think I’m going to let you stick a needle - “
“No, I won’t give you the injection.” Again Mulder turned to the door and Todd opened it. Charlie entered then.
“Char-Charlie!” Bill was on his feet then and moved toward the younger man.
Charlie accepted his embrace, even returned it, then he drew back. “I’m here to give you your injection.”
“You? Listen, I don’t want - “
“It’s not a choice, Bill. If you’re going to be here, around us, you have to have it. Don’t worry, I’m going to take it again too, from the same vial. In fact, I’ll go first.”
“Charlie, we need to talk.”
“We will, Bill. But this comes first.” Charlie turned to Mulder, “Are you ready?”
“Yeah. Go ahead.” He moved over closer to Alex, who was staring at the clone mutely.
“Okay.” Charlie filled the syringe with the serum and injected himself with 2 cc’s of the liquid. “Ready?”
Bill’s eyes narrowed, but he glanced from Charlie to Will and finally to Mulder. “Yeah, go ahead.” He extended his arm. Charlie administered 2 cc’s to him as well, then to Bill’s surprise, Alex. Finally he turned to the Krycek clone. He lifted his arm to Charlie as well. Charlie met his eyes, then pushed on the plunger.
“Okay, that’s it. We’ll hang out here for awhile. You can visit Charlie and Will if you like, or we can question your friend here.”
Bill looked back over at Krycek. “They’ve got to be twins.”
Mulder grinned then, “That’s all I’d need, twin Krycek’s. No, your traveling companion is a clone, Bill. Created by the aliens that you don’t believe in. What I want to know is why he brought you here.” Mulder turned to the clone, “Who sent you? What do they hope to accomplish by having Bill here? Even if he doesn’t believe in aliens now, he will. You know that.”
“Wait a minute - “ Bill interrupted.
“Do you even know why you were given the assignment?” Mulder ignored Bill. “Obviously they didn’t know Alex was here. It makes me wonder what else they don’t know. I’m beginning to think they’re not as smart as I’d always thought. Don’t worry, I have no plans to underestimate them, but I’d like to know what they think we’re doing up here.”
Krycek’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t speak.
“Fine, we can wait.”
“Wait for what?” Bill asked.
“Was everyone in Bill’s enclave an alien? Or were there others like him, naďve, to be used. You don’t have to ‘protect’ us, we do know what’s happening.” Mulder leaned against the wall closest to Krycek.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Krycek said, avoiding looking in Alex’s direction.
“Yeah, you do. Everyone here knows it, except Bill. You brought him here. He’s human, we know that. What were you supposed to do with him? That’s the part I don’t understand. Were they expecting him to get information and then leave? Why are we that interesting?”
Krycek looked amused for just an instant. “You’ve always interested them, Mulder. You know that. I know they’re curious as to why you’ve been quiet so long. I think they expected more from you, or were led to expect more. But you’ve stayed here, content. No assault, no leading a revolution.”
Mulder glanced at Charlie and Todd, but stayed quiet.
“Why now, why are you here now?” It was Alex that asked, unable to sit there any longer staring himself in the face. The calm he had received from Lexie before coming here was wearing thin.
Krycek looked at him, then immediately back to Mulder. “I’m supposed to check . . . “
“There’s a blank spot here. People they send here don’t return. Since it’s been such a small number, they haven’t done anything, but it’s like there’s a black out around here. Not just the ones they send in, they don’t . . . pick up things here, electronically or whatever. At first it was just your little village, but apparently it’s growing. It’s most of New England now and there are other spots showing up in other parts of the country.”
Krycek stopped then and shook his head, as though dizzy.
Mulder and Charlie exchanged glances.
“What do you mean by black out areas?” Mulder asked. “Do you mean that literally, their equipment can’t spy on us?”
Krycek sneered at him, “Yeah, like they take me to their mother ship and let me watch them.” He rubbed his hand over his eyes. “I just heard them talking, speculating about not being able to ‘read’ certain areas and those areas were becoming more common.”
“They’re Esther’s age or less.” The comment from Mulder was obviously directed to his own people, but Bill bristled at it.
“Stop talking in code. ‘Them’, blackout areas. What are you talking about?”
“Aliens, Bill.” Mulder responded. “The aliens can’t find out what’s going on up here. Even their spies don’t make it back.”
Bill made what Katy would call a rude noise, but he was interrupted by Krycek grabbing the table.
“What’s wrong with me? What did you do to me?”
“You got the same injection everyone else got, Krycek.” Mulder answered easily. “You saw that.”
Krycek held up his shaking hand. “You did - “ He was interrupted by a coughing fit. He had Bill’s full attention now.
“What did you do to him?” Even though Charlie had administered the injection, the question was directed at Mulder.
“The injections you received are perfectly harmless for humans.”
Charlie was watching the clone and saw the flash of fear, quickly hidden. So it knew what it was. That was interesting.
The coughing began again, sounding hollow somehow.
Mulder turned to Alex, “You don’t have to be here.”
Alex met his eyes and after a moment nodded. “Thanks, but I’ll stay. I need to.”
Krycek was shaking now and he had gone pasty white.
“You poisoned him!” Bill was on his feet and took a step toward Mulder. Without a beat, all four guns were pointed at him and Bill heard the bolt slide on the shotgun Will held. Bill froze, but his hands became fists. Slowly he turned to glare at Charlie, who just watched him impassively.
Bill jerked when Krycek fell from his chair. He looked around, but saw that no one was going to the man’s aid. He turned, but Mulder spoke quietly. “I wouldn’t touch him if I were you. We don’t know what would happen.”
“What do you - “ He looked over at Krycek, writhing on the floor and saw that he had begun to shrivel up. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open, though he didn’t speak.
The process was quick after that. The being that had traveled with Bill was less than a mummy now. Charlie moved closer to Bill and touched his arm.
“What did you do to him?” For a change Bill sounded more scared than belligerent.
"I gave him the same injection I gave you, Bill." Charlie responded finally. "It only works on humans."
"Don’t give me that - "
Charlie gestured to the desiccated corpse lying beside the table.
"Are you telling me that I traveled all this way with a . . . an alien?"
"No," Mulder spoke finally. "This was a clone. Aliens turn all green and bubbly when you give them the vaccine, and there're toxic fumes. I wouldn't let anyone be this close if it had been an alien."
Bill looked very much like he wanted to hit something, or someone, and Mulder understood. "I imagine you'd like to see Mom."
For just an instant Bill looked startled, as though he'd forgotten why he'd come here in the first place. Then he glanced once more at the body.
"Mulder,” Todd spoke up, “Will and I can get this over to Byers. You go on." Will nodded.
Mulder realized instantly that Todd had chosen the two best shots, besides Scully and himself, Jerry and Greg, to accompany them to the clinic. He knew immediate gratitude and for just a moment thought back to the young and brash kid that had found his way here. He'd stayed even though small town life 'bored' him at first. Now a married man, with a daughter and a son on the way, he had already become a leader here.
"Thanks. Join us as soon as you can." Mulder headed for the door, Alex at his side. Charlie and Bill were followed by Jerry and Greg. Mulder allowed Charlie and Bill to move ahead of him and fell in beside Jerry.
Bill watched Jerry and Greg flank them. "Armed guards." He sneered. "What would they do if I attacked him? Shoot me?"
Charlie looked up at the man who had been his older brother. "Bill, if you attack Mulder, I'll shoot you myself."
Bill's step faltered as he looked down at this new man who was his baby brother.
Neither realized that the men behind them had heard them. Mulder felt Jerry's hand on his shoulder, giving it a quick squeeze of agreement. Mulder kept his eyes down, overwhelmed at the statement.
Charlie led Bill to the clinic and opened the door. There were children everywhere and they hurried to the men that had entered. Lexie raced for Alex and with an obviously practiced move, jumped as he lifted and had her arms around his neck, holding him tightly. Mulder saw his shoulders relax and return the hug.
Mulder's own legs were assaulted by both Katy and Walt, as Missy and MJ took hold of Charlie. Esther and John surrounded Jerry as he placed his rifle carefully on the mantle, and Megan handed Malcolm to Greg.
Bill stood there with his mouth open. "Children? I didn't think anyone was still having children. The virus . . . "
"We're immune, and so are you now that you've been vaccinated." Charlie said, then nodded toward their mother. Bill looked in that direction and spotted her standing in front of a tall, bald man who looked slightly familiar.
Bill started in that direction and was startled when his mother took a step back, and the large man's arms came around her. Charlie spoke before Bill could find his voice. "It's him, Mom. It's really Bill."
At that her hands went to her mouth and tears escaped her eyes. Her arms came out and Bill moved quickly into them. He nearly dwarfed the woman, picking her up and holding her close. They were both crying when he set her back on her feet.
"You look good, Mom. I didn't . . . I didn't think I'd ever see you again."
Maggie nodded, unable to speak. She reached for Walter and he stepped forward and took her hand. "Good to see you again, Bill."
Bill looked him up and down, still not able to place him.
"Bill, this is Walter Skinner. You met him when Dana was in the hospital."
Bill nodded then, "You were their boss."
"And now he's their father." Maggie said quietly. "He's my husband, Bill."
The news seemed to go over his head for a long moment, as though he couldn't take in anything else. Then they saw the outrage gather on his face, but before he could speak, Scully stepped into the room from where she had watched from the hall.
"Bill?" She moved toward him, a tiny newborn in her arms. Mulder approached her and took the infant with practiced ease and she looked up at her older brother.
To be continued . . .
Links to other sites on the Web
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.