Colonization III (PG-13)

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Mulder thought Walter was asleep.  He’d done all of the driving, tomorrow Mulder would be more help.  Now, if he could only get some sleep.  He rolled over once more, trying to get comfortable when he heard the tap on the door.


He froze as did Walter, then Mulder saw the gun in Walter’s hand.  Mulder nodded to him and slipped quietly out of the bed.  He was wearing pajamas bottoms, no shirt, but he didn’t take time to remedy that.  He moved to the door and looked out the peep hole.  He jerked back, then shook his head.


“It’s Gibson,” he reported to Walter as he released the night guard.


The boy, a young man now, stepped inside.  “Do you know what’s going on?” he asked, scanning both men.


“What?  We came to ask your help - “


“In finding William.  Yeah, I got that, no problem.  I’ve been keeping an eye on him.”


Both men stared at him for an instant, then at each other.  “”Well, you sure make it easy to have a conversation,” Walter sank down on his bed.


“You’ve been keeping an eye on William?” Mulder was frozen in place.


“Yeah, he’s doing okay.  He’s got better shields than I had at his age.  I’ll take some credit for that.”


“You’ve been in touch with him?”


Gibson shrugged.  “He had a lot of questions.”  Mulder didn’t seem able to speak, so Gibson continued.  “I knew I needed help when I was his age,” Gibson shrugged.  “He’s nervous about school, about keeping his secret.  I have a lot of experience with that.”


“Why didn't you tell me you were looking out for him?  We were together for - “


“I wasn’t then, Mulder.  He was still with Scully.  And he was just a baby, he didn’t need me then, well I thought he didn’t.  When I saw you at the trial, we didn’t exactly have a lot of private conversation time.  I thought you’d realize I’d never leave him hanging out there.  Since you and Scully couldn’t be with him . . . “ again the young man shrugged.  “So, what is going on?”


“What are you talking about?”


“Don’t you feel it?”


“Feel what?”


Gibson looked troubled then.  “I’m not sure how to explain it.  You know how wild animals know when an earthquake is coming, or a volcano ready to explode?  That’s what I’m feeling.  I thought that’s why you had decided it was time to get William.”


Mulder shook his head as though shaking off his thoughts.  “No.”


“Maybe not consciously,” Gibson countered, “but you did pick now to find him.”


“You know where he is?” Walter asked.


“Yeah, he’s still in Wyoming, a small town north of Laramie, called Bosler.  It was good you picked such an isolated area, he had a lot less . . . interference growing up.  His whole town has less than three thousand people in it.  His parents, sorry, his adopted parents know there’s something different about him, but they love him.  He’s been well taken care of, Mulder.”


Now Mulder sank onto his bed. “So he doesn’t need us to rescue him.”


“Rescue?  No, but he needs you, you and Scully.  You understand him, like you did me.  You know what’s made him the way he is and whatever I’m feeling, I think we’re going to need him.”


“Explain that,” Walter spoke quickly.


“He’s stronger than me.  I can read minds, he can do more and from farther away.  Something is going to happen.  Mulder, you can feel it, can’t you?”


“I, I’m not sure.  I thought it was just learning about William, actually taking the step of looking for him.  What is it?”


Walter rose and picked up the map he had purchased after leaving Las Vegas.  “It’s about 500 miles from here to Bosler.  We can make it in a day with both of us driving.  Can you stay here tonight?”


“I’d planned to.  My pack is on the bike.”




“I drive a motorcycle.  It’s not a hog; I’d like to take it with us.”


“We don’t have much luggage, we might be able to fit it in the trunk, if not we’ll get a bigger car.”


“Thanks, I’ll get my stuff.  Who am I sharing a bed with?”




Mulder did sleep finally, but they were all three up before six.  Gibson drew first shower, Walter got them breakfast.  The bike was in the trunk, which had to be tied down.  They were on the road by seven.


Mulder was driving when it happened.  He heard Gibson gasp, then his own head tried to split open.  He would never know how he managed to pull the car over without losing control.  In the background he could hear Walter’s voice, anxious, concerned and Gibson moaning as he rocked in the back seat.


Finally the pain moved down to an almost bearable level, and Mulder opened his eyes a slit.  Walter had fallen silent, watching both of them with real fear in his eyes.


“Mulder?  Can you hear me?”


“Yeah,” he whispered.  “What?”


“I don’t know.  I didn’t feel it.”  They both turned to look at Gibson.  “Can you hear me?”




Walter looked back at Mulder, who was holding his head in his hands, then reached over and turned on the radio, searching for a news station.  He found it quickly and they listened to a news report that had obviously broken in on regular programming.


“We have breaking news; there has been what appears to be a terrorist attack on Washington, DC.  Information is sketchy and still coming in, but there appears to be massive destruction.  It’s unknown how many people have been killed or injured.  We don’t - just a minute . . . “


Walter looked over at Mulder’s ashen face.  Mulder’s lips formed the word Scully, but no sound emerged.


“London has also been attacked; we’re hearing reports of destruction there and, God, Paris.  We’re getting confirmation, the Capital has been destroyed, the Washington Monument . . . Get me the information!”


Walter looked back at Gibson, Mulder was in shock.  “What happened?”


“A-attacked.  All the capitals,” Gibson gasped out.






“Aliens?  I thought they were going to attack by virus.  Why the destruction?”


Gibson shook his head.


“Why did we have no warning?  The Bureau hasn’t heard - “


“They weren’t on planet.  They’re still not.  I can feel them now.”


“Scully!  We have to get back.  I have to find her.  She’s too close to DC!”


“Mulder, we need to find out what’s happening.  We can’t just take off for DC right now.  We’re out here to find William.”


“M-Mulder, listen to him.  We’re gonna need William,” Gibson managed to say, his eyes closed.


“Is he okay?” Mulder turned to look at Gibson now.


“I’ll check in a minute.  I can’t - “


“You said he was stronger than you!  Would the reaction be stronger?”


Gibson managed to open his eyes.  “I think so.  Give me a minute.”


“Mulder, come over here.  Let me drive.”  Walter was already unbuckling his seatbelt.  He hurried around the car and helped Mulder to his feet.  It was with a jolt that he realized that traffic was still moving.  Most people didn’t even know this was happening.  He supported Mulder back around the car, then was behind the wheel and pulling back out onto the highway.  Some people had pulled off now, the news was spreading.  He pulled into the nearest gas station and quickly topped off the tank.  Others were beginning to pull in when he left.  At least for now they were ahead of the curve.


He pointed the car toward Wyoming and pressed down on the accelerator.  He watched Mulder take his cell phone out and dial.  Yeah, someone seeing their location was secondary now.


The announcer was still talking, his voice was strained, trying to stay calm as he asked everyone to return to their homes and wait for instructions.


Mulder closed the phone, shaking his head.  He'd been unable to get through any of the numbers he'd tried.  “Where are you going?” Mulder finally asked Walter.


“Wyoming.  Mulder, I’m going to William.”




“No, Mulder,” Gibson managed to lean forward.  “We have to get William.  We have to, there’s no way he can do this without you.”


Mulder turned haunted eyes to the young man.  “Is she alive?”


“That’s too far for me.  Let’s get William.”


Mulder nodded slowly, conflicted, horrified by his choices.   At least one thing was clear to him; he would not let the span of the country come between them ever again.


The announcer was only background now, until Walter caught the words New York.  He reached over and turned up the radio.  New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles - the litany continued.  Walter could hear the tears in the announcer’s voice.  He didn’t bother to look around.


He jumped when the radio went dead, static only.  After a long moment, he cleared his throat.  “Where was the station?”


“It was out of Las Vegas, but the program was out of Atlanta.”


“Which did we lose?”




There was no talking then, just Walter eating up the miles.  On occasion they would smell burning, but out where they were, there were no cities.  Towns didn’t seem to be targeted, at least not yet.  Mulder had managed to find other stations occasionally, but most were off the air.  People did seem to be following the instructions to stay home.  Traffic had, for the most part, had cleared out.  They continued north.


It was close to seven when they crossed into Wyoming.  Traffic had held them up several times and they had taken detours that Gibson suggested from listening to others also caught in traffic.  Walter again found a station that was open and filled the tank while Mulder purchased drinks and food from the convenience store.  He was a little surprised the guy allowed them to buy the food or the gas, but he didn’t wait to discuss it.


He loaded the bags into the car and they took off again.


“Does William know we’re coming?”


“I haven’t been able to reach him.  He may be in shock.  That first blast had to be a major blow.”


“Will he be okay?”


“Mulder, I, I don’t know what’s going on.  Let’s just get to Bosler.”


“Are they still . . . “


“Yeah, the smaller cities, but it’s slowed down a lot."


"Anything in Wyoming."


"Cheyenne, just an hour or so ago.  You'll need to turn west to stay out of the . . ." The pain was still evident in Gibson's voice and Mulder wasn't speaking.  Walter pulled out the map, and since the road was clear for now, looked for a more western route into Wyoming.  He didn't bother either of his companions, even when he stopped to top off the tank once again.


Finally Walter turned to Gibson.  “Do you know where William is?”


“No.  I can’t send, I can only receive and he may still be out from the original blast.”


“Try,” Mulder said quietly.




“Try to send.  We have to find him.”


“I’ve never - “


“Try!” Mulder voice was hard and demanding.


Walter saw Gibson blink in response, but instead of denying it again, he closed his eyes.  Walter glanced over at Mulder.  He looked ready to explode.


Gibson was massaging his temples, but his eyes were squeezed tightly shut.


Walter looked over at Mulder.  "Help him."




"Help him try to reach William."


"I can't - "


"Neither can he, but he's trying.  You were affected by the first blast, just like Gibson.  Don't tell me what you can't do, just try to find William."


Mulder met Walter's eyes, then nodded and closed his eyes to concentrate.


**William, William can you hear me?  It's your Dad, it's Mulder.  Please, let me know you're okay.**




Walter heard Gibson's sigh of relief.  Mulder appeared to be unaware of anything external right then, so Gibson leaned forward and whispered to Walter.  "He's alive.  He's shaken and I think he's still in pain, but he's aware of Mulder."


"Can you tell where he is, without disturbing them?"


Gibson shook his head.  "Just keep heading toward Bosler.  He's probably at his home."


Mulder was aware of their conversation though he couldn't speak.  **Where are you, William?  I'm coming to get you.  Tell me where you are.**


**Miss Polly's house.  She's keeping me 'cause Momma and Daddy had to go to town.**


**Where's that, William?  I don't know - ** Mulder stopped at the touch of Gibson's hand.


"I've got it, Mulder.  Just keep talking to him.  He's shaken."  Mulder nodded, not opening his eyes.  He was aware on some level of Walter and Gibson speaking in low tones to his side, but his whole attention was on the frightened boy in his head.


**Are you in pain, William?  Do you know what happened?**


**My head,** the boy whimpered.


**I know, I got a little bit of it, not like you did.  I'm close.  I'll be there as quick as I can be.**


**Momma and Daddy, they'd gone to Cheyenne.**


The words hit Mulder like a blow.  They were in one of the cities that had been hit.  **William, do you . . . **


**They were in the bank building, the tall one downtown.  I can't feel them anymore.**


Mulder didn't have a clue what to say to the boy.  **I'm coming, William.  I'll be there soon, I promise.**




Walter lost no time following Gibson’s directions to this “Miss Polly’s” house. The traffic on the highways was growing, so Walter moved over to side streets.  The people were fleeing the cities, but they had nowhere to go.  Hopefully a small town like Bosler would be too close to the destruction, and people would just keep going, looking for the impossible, safety.  Gibson had whispered to him that the adoptive parents had been in Cheyenne. 


He knew the implications, through nothing had been said.  Mulder still had his eyes closed and they didn’t want to disturb him.


Walter began weaving through the town and finally pulled up in front of the house that Gibson pointed out to him.  He pulled the rental car into the driveway and Mulder finally opened his eyes, though he didn’t speak, and they all hurried from the car to the front door.


An older woman, totally distraught opened the door.  She seemed puzzled for a moment.  “You’re not the ambulance.”




“I’ve been trying - “


Mulder had already pushed past her, leaving the niceties to Walter.  He turned into the living room and spotted William on the couch.  The boy seemed unconscious and Mulder knelt beside him.


“He, he just screamed and grabbed his head, then he passed out.  I haven’t been able to wake him.  I couldn't lift him and 911 was busy for the longest time.  I finally got through, but they still haven’t come. I can't reach his parents and I don’t know what to do!”


“It’s okay,” Walter moved her away from the boy to let Mulder and Gibson ‘talk’ to him.  “Have you had the television on?”


“Uh, no.  William doesn’t usually watch it.  He likes to play with the dogs, but today . . . I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”


“Please, come with me.”  Walter led her out of the room after displaying his shield.  He didn’t let her have a good enough look to see his name, but she was frantic over the boy, and the sight of the badge seemed to relax her a little.  Gibson jumped when he heard her cry out at the information Walter was giving her, but Mulder didn’t seem to hear her.


**William, I’m here.  Please open your eyes.**


William stirred almost immediately.  When his eyes opened, they were unfocused and frightened.  “William,” Mulder spoke immediately and the boy’s eyes found him.


He nearly leapt off the couch, his arms going around Mulder’s neck and holding on for dear life.  Mulder’s arms closed around him.  “It’s okay, it’s okay.  I have you.”


Gibson stepped back, giving them space, throwing up his shields to give them privacy.  He left them alone and found Walter.  “He’s awake.  Where’s Polly?”


Walter gestured toward the bath.


“Does she have anyone here?”


“Yeah, she said she was going to call her sister.  I hate to leave her, but we need to get moving again.”


“To where?” Gibson asked.


“William’s home for now.  We need to get off the roads.”


“What about Scully?”


Walter shook his head.  “I don’t know.  We have to go look for her, but right now the roads are going to be gridlocked with the survivors leaving the cities.  That car we’ve got won’t be able to make the trip.”


They moved away from the bathroom and into the kitchen.  Walter poured himself a glass of water and offered one to Gibson.  He shook his head, just easing down into a kitchen chair.


“You okay?”


“Too many people in too much pain.”


“Is William feeling that too?”


“Oh yeah.  I hope his shields are strong enough.”


Walter grimaced, but there was nothing he could do about that.  Instead, he turned on the small TV in the kitchen to see if he could find any coherent picture of what was happening.  Most stations were only static.  Too many stations damaged or the satellites gone.  This was not the way he had come to believe this was going to happen, but he realized he had been expecting this.  Just not yet.


Was Scully still alive?  If so, she’d be frantic about Mulder.  For the hell of it he picked up the phone to dial her number.  There was no dial tone. 


Walter returned the phone to the charger and it hit him, these people had saved his life.  He would have been in DC, at his desk, shuffling papers.  Coming here to find William was the only reason he was alive right now.  He passed an unsteady hand over his head, damn.


Polly joined him in the kitchen then, her face was blotchy from tears, but she had some composure back.  "I need to call my sister."


"The phone's dead.  I'm surprised you were able to get 911, but William's doing better now.  We're going to take him back to his house and wait for his parents."  Well the first part of that was true anyway.


"Take him?  I . . . they left him with me."


"I know, but under the circumstances, I'm going to take custody of him, until we get everything straightened out."


"But why would the FBI take custody of him?"


Skinner made his decision.  "You know the boy's adopted."


She nodded.


"The man holding him out there is his father."


"His . . . oh my god.  The boy seemed to recognize him."


"Yes, and while he's scared, I know he wants to be with his father.  His parents would want that too.  He'll be well cared for."  Okay, a lot of information, but no names given and hopefully in the chaos that was going on around them, this little woman would forget everything.  "Would you like us to drop you at your sister's house?"


"Oh, no."  That brought her back to the business at hand.  "I'll need my car.  I'm so shaken, I don't - "


"You should probably pack for a couple of days.  We'll get out of your way."


"You know the way to the farm?"


"Oh yes.  We've been there," he lied, sending a thought to the others to keep quiet and get ready to leave the house.


"Oh, of course.  I, you will tell them I tried to get help - "


"Certainly.  I'll make sure they get in touch with you as soon as they return."  He was moving toward the living room now.  When he got there, Mulder was standing, the boy wrapped around him, his face hidden in Mulder's neck, his arms and legs holding tightly to the man.  Gibson opened the door and they moved out toward the car. 


Walter took the driver's seat and Gibson took shotgun beside him.  Mulder and William were in the back, William not loosening his grip on his father.


Walter and Gibson waved to the woman standing on the porch, then pulled out of the driveway.  Gibson fed directions to Walter while Mulder and William kept up a silent conversation.  The streets were deserted, but Walter didn't attempt to go above the speed limit until they were out of the city limits and headed toward the farm house.  Then he opened it up and raced to the house.


He pulled the rental car around to the back of the simple white frame farmhouse and watched as Gibson opened the unlocked back door.  Shaking his head slightly he followed Mulder, still holding William, inside.


"William, can you look at me?" Mulder asked.


Walter looked over at them.  Mulder might not have been the boy's father hands-on, but he was certainly here now for him.  The love in the man's voice tightened Walter's throat.


Slowly the boy looked up, not loosening his grip.  Mulder sat in one of the kitchen chairs, William on his lap.  "I need you to meet these people.  This is Walter Skinner; he's a very good friend of Scully's and mine.  You can trust him."


Walter blinked, but nodded and held out his hand to William to shake.  Tentatively William did, and seemed to relax after the touch. 


"I believe you've already 'met' Gibson, but he came with us to find you."  Gibson also held out his hand and William solemnly shook it.  "Walter and I don't know what happened, I got that burst of pain," William's eyes closed at the memory.  "But you and Gibson got blasted.  How are you, is it still bad?"


William looked up at Gibson, then back at his father.  "It's less, but it's not gone.  They blew up all the cities, all over the world."  Mulder's pallor grew with those words.


"Do you think you could look for Scully?"  His voice didn't shake, but Walter could see what the words had cost him.


William hesitated a moment, then, "I want to try, but it's too . . . "


"Chaotic," Gibson offered and William nodded.


"I will try, but it needs to calm down a little."


"Yeah, yeah, I understand."  Mulder pulled the boy tighter again for a moment.  "I, I'm sorry about your, your parents."


Tears came to William's eyes then.  "They didn't have time to hurt or be scared."


"That's good," Walter said quietly.


William nodded, and sank against Mulder's chest.  "Will you keep me?"


"Yes.  You're my son and I'll be with you.  We'll have to look for Scully together."  William met Mulder's eyes and nodded.


"I know we're not in the mood, but what about those sandwiches?" Walter asked.


"I brought them in," Gibson picked up the bag he had left by the back door.  "We should eat, then try to get some rest."


"Will we be safe out here?  Do we need to set up guards?"


"Gibson and I can keep people away from the house," William said quietly, not lifting his head.


"We can?" Gibson looked over at the boy.


"Sure."  There was some silent communication then and Gibson grinned.





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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.