Bill drew back, trying to look as though he wasn’t about to bolt from the room. Whatever this ‘thing’ was, the last thing Bill wanted to do was to listen to anything it had to say.
How the hell could his sister look so damn calm about this?
“Bill, please sit. We need to talk, and you need to listen,” Scully said firmly.
He turned on her, as though to argue yet again, but Mulder stepped between them and handed her the baby. “Do you want to leave now?” he asked Bill.
The older man’s eyes narrowed, but he kept quiet, finally taking a seat beside Tara. He glanced over at Matt, but he was completely engaged with his new cousin, Danny.
Danny, the baby, Dana’s baby, hadn’t died. Mulder hadn’t deserted her in her grief.
“No, he didn’t,” Danny said, causing Bill to jump. He hadn’t realized the boys had joined them. “Mom asked him to take me away and keep me safe. He did, but he missed her horribly because he loves her so much.”
Bill flushed but still remained quiet. Danny looked at him for a moment as Bill squirmed under his gaze. “You’re afraid of him,” Danny said in a matter of fact tone.
“I am not,” Bill responded, stung, then realized how juvenile that sounded.
“He believes in all kinds of things you don’t even want to think about. That’s okay, you know. Most people don’t think about aliens or ghosts or mutants, but someone has to because they do exist. Dad kind of had to take the job since most people don’t want it. He really isn’t trying to convince you about anything except the aliens and that’s only to save you.”
“Why would he want to save me?” Bill huffed.
“Because Mom loves you,” Danny said immediately.
Bill looked over at his baby sister sitting next to their mother, who was now holding her granddaughter. Scully nodded to him and his shoulders slumped.
“It’s okay. Just give him a chance. He never had a brother, or a family, like yours. He’d like to be your friend.”
Scully look over at Mulder then, surprised. Friends? That should have occurred to her. The man craved acceptance. It didn’t have to come from her alone.
Mulder met her gaze with a sheepish look and she smiled.
“I realize you all need some time to get reacquainted, but I need to talk to you for a few minutes.” Everyone turned to look at Jeremiah.
“I don’t want to listen to you. I don’t want my family involved. It wouldn’t be if - “
“If I hadn’t left medicine for the FBI, right?” Scully said softly, interrupting Bill. “It’s all my fault.”
“No! It’s not your - “
Jeremiah broke in at that point. “You need to understand, son, the first time your sister was taken was a mere exchange. Mr. Barry put his transponder on her, and she was taken. She was returned because she was requested.”
Mulder’s head flew up. He hadn’t heard that before. Yeah, Cancerman had said something like that, but he had never trusted a word from that man.
“That sicko would never have known about her if she had stayed away from Mulder,” Bill spat.
“That was her decision, not his.”
Bill looked constipated for a moment, then realized Danny was watching him. He turned away.
“The second time she was taken, when Mulder rescued her in Antarctica, was a decision made by the, what do you call them, the Consortium? They made a deliberate decision about it, knowing that her absence would destroy Mulder.” Jeremiah grinned then. “My species wasn’t familiar with the concept of wagering until we met you. It’s an interesting concept. I made a lot of money on you, Mulder.”
“You, you bet on me?”
“They never imagined that one of their own would come to your aid.” He shrugged, and continued, “They wouldn’t have believed you could do it even if they had thought of it. The odds were beyond calculation.”
“Why did you bet on him?” Scully asked quietly.
“I have been a student of your Mulder for a very long time. I never doubted he would find you. The rescue was spectacular, and caused a lot of damage to our enemies.” He glanced back at Bill and shook his head slightly. “Things have turned more in our direction since then. With both of you vaccinated, we had begun to hope for offspring.”
“Dana was told she couldn’t have children,” Maggie looked up from Katy.
“And it was true at the time. We managed to correct that - “
“How?” Mulder demanded quickly.
Scully’s hand came to rest on the back of her neck, but she remained silent, looking down at her feet.
“The experiment, excuse me, Danny was more than we ever hoped. The time I spent with him confirmed that. His upbringing, being with the two of you who know the truth and haven’t let it destroy you, indeed have been strengthened by it, has given him an empathy well beyond his young years. Quite frankly, we’re greedy. We want to find more of these children who could grow up to be the guardians of this planet when we move on to battle our enemies at their next attempted conquest.” He turned to Bill then. “That is why we requested that you join us. Yes, Mulder’s genes contributed immensely to the abilities of his son and now his daughter. But your sister was half of the combination. Danny, and Katy, would not be as strong as they are without both parents. Since there are no other Mulder’s, we are turning to you.”
Tara reached out and pulled Matthew to sit beside her.
“Tara, I know this is being thrown at you too fast,” Scully focused on her sister-in-law. “If we had more time, we would never do this to you. Matthew seems to have this empathy that our children have. What we’re asking is that you allow Jeremiah to test Matthew, here Tara,” she spoke quickly as Bill’s mouth opened. “Please, we’ll all be here. They can just go to a corner of the room. I would not ask if there was any danger to my nephew.”
“No,” Bill interrupted. “My son is nothing like Mulder’s.”
“That’s not true,” Jeremiah said calmly.
Danny touched his uncle’s arm. “I’m not a freak, Uncle Bill.”
“I didn’t say - “
“You thought it. But look at what Matthew already does. You’ve seen it. When Gramma got to your house, Matthew knew you were fighting from next door. He does things like that all of the time. He’s not a freak either.”
Bill opened his mouth, but no words emerged.
Jeremiah met Matthew’s eyes. “Would you like to try a few tests, here with your family?”
“Sure!” He started to rise, but Tara’s hand closed around his arm. “Mom, you’ll be right here. Please, let me try this.”
“No.” Bill’s voice held full military command.
“Captain Scully,” Walter’s voice matched his suddenly. “Think of this as national security.”
“You can’t believe - “
“The two most important children in my life do this. Do you think I could stand by if they were in danger?”
“They aren’t your children, you - “
“They are my family. Don’t doubt that Captain Scully. I offer myself to the protection of your son as well; though there’s every possibility that he won’t need it.”
Bill looked betrayed at those words. “Matty, this is - “
“You know I know things, just like Gramma. I heard you talk about it to Mom one night.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bill blustered.
“Bill, I don’t think we have a choice,” Tara said quietly, gripping his hand.
Stung, he jerked his hand from hers and rose. Mulder looked over at Jeremiah and nodded. Jeremiah rose and gestured for Matthew to join him in the far corner of the room. Danny joined them.
Bill threw a murderous look Mulder’s way, but he ignored it. Mulder joined Scully and Maggie. Scully’s arms went around him, holding him close. Once again he had been rejected. She saw her mother’s hand squeeze his arm as well. Walter walked over to Tara, sitting desolate on the couch and let his hand rest on her shoulder.
“Just relax, Matt. Let your mind be free.”
Danny walked around Matt, causing him to turn his back on the others in the room. Immediately he relaxed and smiled at his cousin.
Scully rose and took Katy to change her. Mulder rose as well. “Can I get you anything, Maggie?”
“Maybe some water.”
He nodded and moved toward the bar. When he took the bottle of water from the small refrigerator he looked over at Tara and held up the bottle with a question on his face. She nodded and he took a second bottle from the fridge.
They were quiet, no one wanting to break the level of concentration over in the corner, but consumed with curiosity nevertheless. When Mulder handed Tara the bottle she stopped him. “Is Matty really going to be all right?”
“He’s very all right, Tara. One of the things Matt will learn is how to protect himself, and you.”
“Protect himself from what? Things like that . . . man?”
“Yes and no. That man is an alien, you’ve seen that, but he’s helping us.”
“How do you know that? If he has these mind powers, maybe he’s hiding his real intentions.”
“I’ve had those thoughts, Tara. Don’t think I haven’t. But Danny and Katy have looked into that. Danny has more experience than I like to think about. I, I’m sorry we had to involve you, but . . . “
“Then why did you?” Bill’s voice was harsh in his ear.
Mulder straightened up. “Because I want to save my family. And you, your mother, your wife and your son are part of that, whether you want me to be or not.”
To Mulder’s surprise the man seem to deflate slightly in front of him. “This crap is real isn’t it?”
“There are aliens, wanting to take over our planet.” Bill shook his head. “Why don’t people know about it?”
“Because I’m a nutcase, a sorry son of a bitch. Not entirely persuasive,” Mulder answered with a shrug.
Bill’s face darkened, but he didn’t dispute Mulder’s words.
“Bill, there are people that know. The consortium that Jeremiah spoke of, Scully and I have worked against them for years. One of them died giving me the means to save Scully in Antarctica. That tells me that even they aren’t a cohesive group.”
“Just what do you expect these kids to accomplish?”
“The three of them? It’s just a beginning. What’s happening is that a part of their brain is switched on that isn’t in ours. Scully and I worked with a boy several years ago with this same ability, Gibson Praise. We thought he was unique, then Danny was born. According to Jeremiah, one of the reasons we’re ripe for the picking is that we haven’t evolved enough. These kids have.”
Bill just stared at him. Finally he sank down onto the couch beside his wife. “My son?“
“How do you live with it?”
Mulder looked startled by the question. “I, I’ve lived with it for so long. I wasn’t much older than Matt when I became involved.“
Bill chose to ignore that. “What specifically is Matt supposed to do, assuming he passes this . . . test? And why aren’t Charlie’s boys here?”
“Charlie’s sons are older, hitting puberty. Don’t you think that messes them up enough?” Mulder said with a grin. When it wasn’t returned he continued. “They will be, but they’re older, it will be more difficult for them.”
“Not with that screwball brother of mine raising them,” Bill muttered.
“Maybe, but Jeremiah thinks we should start with the younger ones.”
“Since when are you so willing to trust aliens?” Bill met Mulder’s eyes.
Mulder just shook his head and moved away. He wasn’t going to win one with Bill, why try? He met Scully returning with Katy and took the baby from her, holding them both against him for a moment.
Walter had taken Scully’s seat beside Maggie and started to rise, but Scully motioned him to stay. She leaned against Mulder and they waited for Jeremiah to finish. Mulder watched her hand come up to the brow just as he felt Danny’s soft reassuring caress. He glanced over toward the corner, but Danny didn’t look up.
It seemed a very long time, but was actually under thirty minutes when the three rejoined their families. Matt’s eyes were gleaming with what he had accomplished. Bill slumped farther down on the couch.
“You were asking what specifically we wanted the children to do, Captain Scully. Your son has assured me that our search has not been in vain. He will need some training, but I am confident he will be a great help in our endeavor.”
Tara looked over at Bill, but when he didn’t speak, she looked back at Matt. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Mom. It didn’t hurt and I could hear what he and Danny were saying. I could even hear what Katy was thinking.” Matt looked over at his little cousin and grinned.
Bill was still silent, so Tara continued. “What is it you want him to do? Is it dangerous?”
“No, no please let me reassure you of that. His ‘assignment’ will be to assist us in finding other young people like himself who have the potential to be trained as well. When he is older, I have no doubt he will be a great asset to this planet.”
Bill’s head did come up at that, though he still remained silent. Maggie and Scully had questions then, but Danny sent a message to Matt. The older boy looked over at him and nodded when Danny motioned for him to join him away from the adults.
Danny spoke, “I wanted to tell you something, without the others hearing. You’re going to be able to read minds now; do you understand what that means?”
“Well, yeah.” Matt looked confused.
“I mean, you could be a bully now. You’ll know what people are afraid of, you’ll know their secrets.”
Matt flushed then, but didn’t speak. He didn’t need to.
“I just wanted to warn you that Jeremiah will probably keep an eye on you for awhile, until he knows how you’ll handle this. You could help people, or you could make things worse for them. You’re already a leader with your friends, aren’t you?”
Matt shrugged. “I guess.”
“You might already be using your gift. You need to make sure that your friends like you, and aren’t your friends because they’re afraid of you. You can’t let anyone know what you can do, even your best friend. It’s not safe. You can talk to me, or Katy, and soon the others that we find, but we have to be careful.”
“Have you ever been in danger?”
“Yeah and it’s scary, but my Dad helped me.”
Danny shook his head. “I haven’t known Jeremiah but a few weeks. I’ll tell you about how I met him someday, when we have more time.” There was no need to let his cousin know of the work he and Katy had already done. Jeremiah didn’t want them to and he’d keep an eye on things.
Danny looked over at Jeremiah, then back at Matt. “You’re not scared of Jeremiah, are you?”
“No, I’ve always liked science fiction, this is really cool.”
“Your Dad did something - “
“Uh, yeah.” The memory resurfaced clearly. “I was, uh, watching a movie and he walked in.” Matt looked down, embarrassed. “He turned the channel and said I couldn’t watch that f-ing movie. It was like something that son of a bitch would watch. I’m sorry.”
“I know. Your Dad and my Dad don’t know how to like each other but they are family now. I didn’t mean to embarrass you, but see how it works? And I don’t blame you for how your Dad feels. Those are his feelings, not yours. In fact,” Danny grinned, “I think what your Dad said made you curious about my Dad.”
Matt glanced over at his Dad, then back. “Yeah, it did.”
Danny grinned. “My Dad can be pretty interesting. I can tell you stories about that too. That’ll probably be part of our homework.”
“Will you be training too? I mean, you’ve been doing this since you were born.”
“I still have a lot to learn,” Danny shrugged. “I’m really glad we found you. We don’t have a lot of time.”
Mulder looked up at the caress to his cheek and saw Scully pulling up to the terminal. This communication was nice for things like that. He sure didn’t want to take any more trips that would take him away from home this long. For now he was just going to enjoy being with his family. He needed to bring them up to date, but first . . . he watched Scully get out of the car to meet him and he smiled.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.