Mulder and Scully residence
Scully was just finishing up her coffee when she heard the gate alarm. She glanced over at Mulder, who went to the computer screen set up in his office.
"It's Drummy, I’ll go open it.”
"Are they installing the motion detectors around the house?" Scully asked from the doorway.
"Yeah. They didn't have the right fixtures yesterday, apparently. Something about our gutters not having soffetts -- "
"Just try to steer them away from my flower beds on the north side. Took me forever to get anything to grow in the shade," she said with a sigh as she turned back to finish dressing.
"Yes ma'am," he vowed with a grin. Who would have thought that Dana Scully was a closet horticulturalist back when her days consisted of slicing and dicing.
"What are you grinning about?" she growled. "You're still on probation."
He wiped the grin off his face and nodded seriously. "Yes ma'am. Sorry ma'am." He pulled on a jacket and jogged toward the gate.
After opening it, he waited until the vehicles came through and left it open for Scully’s departure, then jogged back. He ignored the men and headed up onto the porch to tell Scully bye.
She leaned up and kissed him on the corner of his mouth. "Be good today. I have a light load; I might be able to get off early. It's supposed to be in the low 70's this afternoon. Maybe we can grill out tonight?"
"Sounds like a plan," he told her as he walked her to the door. Agent Drummy and two other agents were getting out of a standard bureau issued car while another two men exited a white panel truck. Scully waited for Drummy to come up the steps of the porch.
"Agent Drummy," she said, extending her hand in greeting.
"Dr. Scully. Nice to see you," Drummy said, though he sounded like she was the last person he wanted to face that morning. Or maybe the second to last. "Mr. Mulder," he said dryly and nodded in Mulder's direction.
"Drummy, see you brought the troops. I have coffee made, if you want some."
"No thanks. These guys are contractors, they're paid hourly. But then you know all about that," Drummy said with a thinly veiled sneer. "I want those motion detectors up and running before lunch time."
Mulder just nodded and walked Scully the rest of the way down to her car, his hand on the small of her back.
"That's 'playing nice'?" she whispered as Mulder opened her door for her.
"Sure, Scully. Don't you remember 'sandbox' class from the Academy? Oh, wait, you always said I flunked that class," he answered with an innocent expression.
"You are just pushing your luck today, mister," she told him sternly, but then reached up and pulled him down into a smoldering kiss.
"You expect me to say goodbye after that," he moaned.
"I expect you to be good, so that you deserve another one when I get back," she replied, wiping her lipstick off his mouth with her thumb. "Play nice with the agents, Mulder." With that she got in the car and headed out to the main road.
"Easy for you to say," Mulder sighed as he turned back toward the house.
Drummy and the agents were watching the contractors set up ladders on the south side of the house, near Eddie's window.
"Hey, are you guys going to be loud? A child is sleeping in that room," he said, pointing to the window.
"Might want to wake 'em up," one of the contractor's called back. "We'll have to drill to get this installed."
Mulder rolled his eyes and hurried back into the house. Eddie was just opening his eyes when he saw Mulder. At that moment, the sound of a loud electric drill reverberated through the small bedroom. The boy's eyes grew wide, and he whimpered. Mulder felt something like an electric shock run through his body.
"Eddie? Are you all right?" he asked, fighting against the sensation to get to the boy. Eddie continued to whimper, his eyes bright with fear. He pushed past Mulder and started to head for the closet.
"Eddie, hey, buddy, it's all right. Where are you going?" He caught the boy's arm and pulled him into a hug. "It's okay," Mulder crooned, and as he held the boy, the tingling sensation started to ebb. "It's okay. It's just the workmen, from yesterday. Remember? Sorry, that noise is pretty loud, huh? It's okay." Finally the boy settled a bit, but remained somewhat stiff. "Hey, we still have half a box of Reeses downstairs. Last one to the kitchen has to get out the spoons," he challenged. Eddie shot out of his arms and headed for the stairs to the first level. "Guess I better hurry," Mulder said to himself as he followed the boy.
Breakfast was much easier now that Scully had purchased the right chocolate syrup, and Eddie had become a Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs fan. They cleaned off the table and loaded the dishwasher together. Mulder then looked down at his young companion and motioned to his pajamas and bare feet. "I think it's time for a change of clothes," he said, wiggling his eyebrows.
Eddie frowned and studied the tile floor.
"Hey, it's OK. I'll go up with you," Mulder offered. Eddie didn't look any more convinced, but did agree to take Mulder's hand, and head toward the steps. When they reached the top level, he veered off, tugging on Mulder's arm and guiding him toward the larger bedroom.
Mulder shook his head. "No, Eddie, buddy, you have to get your clothes," he countered. The boy just stared at him and tugged harder on his hand.
Mulder remembered their ill-fated attempt to do dot to dot the day before and quickly came up with an alternative. "OK, how about this. I go into your room and get your clothes, and you can change in the bathroom, how does that sound?"
Eddie said nothing, but dropped Mulder's hand. Mulder nodded and went in to the boy's room to gather jeans, shirt and underwear. He returned and handed them to the child, who then ran off to the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
Mulder sat down on the unmade bed -- he and Scully had both gotten up later than they'd planned after some early morning make up sex, so making the bed had gone by the wayside. He knew her reaction to seeing the tape was just concern for his well-being, but it did show that she still wasn't comfortable with his new-found career.
He chewed on his lip, wondering about what had happened. He could barely remember the painful hum/electric shock he'd first felt when he touched Eddie. The kid had been right, he had become used to it. But this morning had been something altogether different. When Eddie had been frightened -- by the drilling? -- the hum Mulder felt when he held the boy was like ants crawling under his skin. It was an oily feeling and totally unpleasant. Was that what Eddie felt, was that what he experienced when he was afraid? God, no wonder the kid freaked out, Mulder reflected.
The problem remained, what did he tell Scully? She wouldn't see it as a tool but as a threat to him personally. He believed Eddie wouldn't hurt him, but Scully might not see it that way.
Before he could decide on whether or not to tell her about this latest incident, the boy opened the bathroom door. Mulder had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. Eddie's shirt was on backward and his pant pockets were hanging out, but he'd done a relatively good job. "Let's just straighten this up a bit," he told the boy as he helped him slip his arms out and turn the shirt to the front, then tucked in the pockets of his jeans. Mentally, he thanked the smart shoemaker for putting
velcro straps on tennis shoes, and noted that each shoe was on the correct foot. "There, you're stylin', buddy. C'mon, it's a nice day out. I want to show you something."
Eddie trailed behind him down the stairs and through to the back door of the kitchen. Mulder opened it and the little boy looked around, wide-eyed. "C'mon. It's okay, kiddo. I promise," he assured the child.
Over six years time, the running path was clearly marked in the late winter grass. Eddie looked back at the house as Mulder headed out into the yard. "It'll be there when we get back," Mulder teased and took the boy's hand. The unpleasant hum was there, but just an echo, not really even noticeable, like the vibrations of a car's steering wheel when the road was rough. "I'll protect you," he vowed. The hum dropped down to almost nothing at those words.
The day was bright and warming, the breeze gentle and in the woods, the whites and pinks of the dogwoods and magnolias were splashes among the tender green of the soon to be leaves. As they entered the woods, Mulder veered off the well worn path on to another barely discernable lane. It ended just a few yards in at the base of an ancient oak.
Time had weathered the boards, but the little tree house stood testament to a time when children lived in the farmhouse and played in these woods. Along the other side of the tree was a tire swing. Mulder tugged on the rope, aged and gray colored, and found it still strong. "C'mere, Eddie. I'll push you."
Eddie looked wary, but approached him, slowly. Mulder picked the boy up and helped him put his feet through the center of the tire, then made sure the child's hands wrapped around the rope as it led up to the tree limb. "Hang on tight. I'll just give you a little shove till you get the hang of it."
Mulder pushed lightly on Eddie's shoulders and then stepped back to let the tire swing unhindered. The boy's expression was total concentration, but at the second shove from Mulder's hand a wide grin lit up his face.
"Ya like that, sport?" Mulder called and for once Eddie actually responded with a nod of his head. "Yeah. I used to like that a lot, too, when I was your age."
As Mulder pushed, Eddie started to make noises, attempting to sound like a rocket ship. Mulder ducked his head to hide his chuckle. The higher the boy went in the swing, the louder the noises became. Pretty soon, Mulder was wondering when it would stop. "Eddie? Hey, want to check out the tree house?" he called over the boy's loud roarings.
Eddie was oblivious, he just kept making the rocket sounds and then started holding his arms out as if to take flight. Mulder caught him before he toppled from the swing. "Hey, buddy, be careful there! We don't want you to fall," he warned, pulling the child from the tire and setting him on the ground. Eddie didn't blink, just started running around the tree, arms out, making full throttle noises that were surprisingly realistic. Mulder shook his head, wondering how in the world to connect with the boy.
"Hey, Ground Control to Major Tom," he called loudly, trying to get Eddie's attention. The boy stopped but instead of answering, he started to climb the wooden ladder up to the tree house.
Mulder hurried after him, thoughts of rotted planks and the resulting fall large in his mind. When he got to the tree house, only about 12 feet off the ground and in the strong arms of the ancient oak, he discovered his worries were for naught. The house was sturdy, built of the same wood as the tree surrounding it. It had no roof, only three walls and the floor. A rusted lunch box with Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk was forgotten in one corner and a few Imperial Storm Troopers stood as three inch sentinels near the ladder entrance. Eddie latched onto two storm troopers and continued with his verbal barrage of rockets, now adding laser blasts to the mix.
It was undeniably the most noise Mulder had heard out of the kid in the four days he'd been in his presence. It might not be 'language' to most people, but at least it was something. Spying an opportunity, Mulder sat down and picked up the third storm trooper, trying to engage Eddie in the game, but the child would have none of it. He turned his body away from Mulder, ignoring his attempts completely. Apparently this was a one-man game of intergalactic battle.
Mulder watched the game for a while and then looked over at the lunch box. He smiled as he picked it up, he had one exactly like it only with red trim. The latch was rusted, but he was able to force it open. Inside there was a collection of old Star Trek trading cards in surprisingly good condition.
"Wow, bet these would be worth a year or two of college tuition on eBay," he muttered as he thumbed through the treasure. "Hey, Eddie, look -- Mr. Spock giving the 'Vulcan Neck Pinch'," he said excitedly, holding the card out to the boy. Eddie continued to be lost in his own world, still fighting the battle of Endor. Mulder went back to the cards, still smiling. "When I was a kid, these came with these little sticks of bubblegum. I used to clean up all the clippings from our lawn mower just to make enough money to buy a pack," he said, mostly to himself since the other occupant of the treehouse was busy with his own game. "Wonder what happened to those cards," he pondered. Eddie continued to make rocket noises and noises associated with a pitched battle while Mulder sat with his back against the plywood wall, a half smile on his face.
Would this have been his life -- watching William play? His heart broke anew as it did every time he thought of his son. So much time wasted and for what? So what if Kersh had warned him about his impending death? Maybe it was just a ruse, as he now firmly believed, to get him out of town and away from Scully. Divide and conquer, one of the oldest battle plans in the playbook and they'd fallen for the trap. Would Scully have given the boy up for adoption if he'd stayed? Maybe. Maybe it was a decision they both would have made together. But in the back of his mind, Mulder still ached that it hadn't been his decision. Ultimately it was as he'd feared -- 'Scully's baby', as he'd thought of William before his birth, had come between them. Forever it would be a hurt that wouldn't heal and all he could do was try not to think about it, go on as best he could.
He really didn't blame her as much as he blamed himself. But in the end, it didn't matter who was at fault -- they both lived with the pain.
Eddie's battle was heating up even more and Mulder noticed that the sun was higher in the sky. Drummy had wanted to get the installation finished by noon, which meant the contractors should be close to done. It was time to head back.
"Hey, sport, time to get some lunch, huh?" Mulder offered. The child ignored him completely, but Mulder was getting used to that. He touched the boy's arm and the buzz he felt wasn't at all unexpected or unpleasant. Eddie finally slowed down but didn't look up. "Lunch time. PB&J's," Mulder said enticingly. Eddie clutched the tiny Star Wars figures and chewed on his lip. "You can take them back with you. I figure they're yours now. Finders, keepers, right?" The smile was barely perceptible but it made Mulder's heart swell. "I'm betting there's some more stuff you'd like in the house. There're a couple of old boxes up in the attic we can dig through later. After lunch."
After a bracing lunch of canned chicken noodle soup and the promised peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Eddie followed the former agent up the stairs to the end of the hallway. There, a pull down ladder allowed the two up into the attic. Mulder had to stoop to avoid hitting his head on the rafters, but Eddie had no such difficulties. A few boxes and an old steamer trunk were scattered on the rough floor boards. In one of the boxes they found more Star Wars figurines, an Imperial AT-AT with moving parts, and a full-sized light saber with the battery end cap missing. Eddie's eyes lit up at the haul and Mulder gathered it all in a discarded shoe box to take back down to the main floors. While Eddie battled the stormtroopers on the ice planet Hoth, Mulder sorted through the papers he'd printed off the day before. When he had a select few, he turned to the boy.
"Hey, why don't we take all this out to the tree house?" he suggested. Eddie didn't look up, but shyly nodded. "Great!" Mulder answered and off they went.
As they were heading out the backyard toward the trees, Drummy called from the side of the house. Mulder instructed Eddie to go on ahead and then trotted over to the stern agent.
"All done?" Mulder asked.
"Yeah. There's camera surveillance on all corners of the house, just like you have at the front gate," Drummy replied.
"Motion detectors?" Mulder prodded.
Drummy rolled his eyes. "Yes, around the perimeter."
Mulder frowned. "Perimeter? We're on 12 acres here," he objected. "You put motion detectors -- "
At that moment a screeching siren was heard from just above their heads and Mulder glared at Drummy. "Eddie just went into the woods. Do you mean to tell me he just set that off?"
Drummy glared back at Mulder and then nodded his head. "They'll have to adjust it," he said gruffly. "But they can't get to it until Monday."
Mulder rolled his eyes. "Well then, turn the damned thing off! I'll arm it again later after Scully gets home. Are there going to be agents nearby?"
"You know, Mr. Mulder, times are tight -- budget cuts -- "
"Short answer, no," Mulder frowned again. "That's OK. Both Scully and I are still range qualified."
"You realize, as private citizens, if you discharge a weapon you could be -- "
"Held on criminal charges. Yeah, yeah, I know. But this time I plan on having more than a pipe wrench to defend myself. You let us worry about finding a good defense attorney," Mulder shot back.
Drummy looked like he wanted to say something, but ended up shaking his head and turning to go. All of a sudden, he turned back and pulled a business card from his pocket. With a swift motion, he scribbled something on the back and handed it to Mulder. "That's my home number. If anything happens after hours -- I'm just up the road." At Mulder's surprised look, he stared off into the distance. "Monica Bannon was a friend -- but Dakota Whitney was my partner. I might not have expressed myself appropriately at the time, but I appreciate all you did on that case."
Mulder was taken aback, but graciously took the card. "Thanks. I . . . uh . . . thanks." He watched the agent disappear around the side of the house before he glanced at the card, then tucked it in his front pocket. He turned and went off in search of his little Jedi.
Eddie was deep in battle when Mulder climbed up into the tree house. Mulder settled himself against the side of the structure and pulled the homework papers out of his back pocket. "Hmm," he read loudly, for Eddie's benefit. "Five Imperial tie-fighters meet the Millennium Falcon in subspace around Endor. The Falcon fires, taking out two of the fighters, that leaves . . . "
"Lemme see that," Eddie rasped and grabbed the paper from Mulder's hand. He looked up at his older companion for a moment, then down at the paper. Mulder smiled and brashly produced a mechanical pencil. In a flash Eddie was sprawled out on the floor of the tree house doing math -- Star Wars style. Mulder leaned against the plywood wall and smiled to himself.
Scully tried to settle in at work, but found her attention kept returning to Mulder and the boy. Had Mulder really heard the hum? The artifact hum? He'd tried to downplay it, as he had over the phone, before she'd seen the DVD, but had finally admitted that he still was aware of it around Eddie.
She hadn't thought about that time in ages. It had been a scary time; she had been so frightened -- knowing that Mulder's mind hung in the balance. That 'hum' had nearly killed him. She was back in that anteroom with Skinner and Diana. Mulder had known she was there, had cried out for her to Diana's dismay though she had tried to hide it from Scully.
He had read her mind; he'd had no choice but to read her mind as well as everyone around him. Was that going to happen again, and why did the hum happen around Eddie?
Oh hell, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a thumb drive she had slipped out of the house that morning. She plugged it in and brought up her personal report on her findings during that time. This was definitely not what she had turned in to the Bureau. She needed to familiarize herself with the full information again.
An hour later she sat back. She hadn't forgotten anything, how could she? The whole case had shaken the foundations of her faith, and her fear of losing Mulder had tainted every moment. He had come back to her, that's what was important and with his new knowledge, their relationship had . . . changed. So much had changed then. Their closeness had grown in the natural direction. Even just remembering it now caused the color to rise in her cheeks. So much had changed.
Inevitably William came to her mind. She usually pushed it away, but right now she was concentrating on the artifact. She'd had another encounter with it, when William had . . . felt it? When he'd called it to him. She shuddered at that memory. Mulder didn't know about that. Even now they had such trouble talking about their son. She should tell him. Scully sighed, she was getting back into the mode, not being able to focus on anything but their quest once again.
Bringing up William under any circumstances was uncomfortable, but it needed to be done. She wondered how they were doing out there today. Having strangers around Eddie probably put him on edge, but she hesitated to call. Mulder didn’t need to think she was checking up on him. He was completely competent to look after one little boy with Aspergers. He had the degree in psychology, but she wanted to be there as well.
She had managed to stay and actually get some of her own paperwork done, but lost no time leaving when the day ended. After a quick stop for more supplies that Mulder had requested, she was on her way.
A new gate greeted her. The chain and lock were missing, but an electronic keypad, with speaker had replaced them. She rolled the window down and pressed the red button at the bottom.
“Yes?” Mulder responded with a fake British butler accent.
“May I enter?” she asked.
“Depends? You a hot redhead?”
“Oh God, is Eddie around?”
“Oh, you like younger men?”
“Mulder!” At that the gate began swinging open. Shaking her head she put the car back in gear and drove up to the house. She saw the gate close behind her in the mirror.
Mulder was loping down the porch stairs as she pulled up and opened her door for her. She stepped out and kissed him. “So how did it go today?”
“Great,” Mulder took the grocery bag from her arms. “Drummy and I tossed back a few brews, talked about old times, and - “ He stopped when she cut her eyes at him.
“Right, how about you and Eddie?”
“Oh Eddie, yeah, the short, young one.” He grinned. “It was actually a better day. We stayed out of the house most of it. They were working and it was pretty loud, drilling, hammering, etc. We checked out the tree house in the back.”
“Is it safe?” she asked immediately.
“Yeah, I went up first and tested it. I weigh more than he does.”
He blinked at that, then grinned. “You know, he really seemed to like it. It’s small, closed in. Bigger than a closet, but he seemed to relax up there where he could feel enclosed or something. I came back and got some of those papers I printed off, and he worked on them a little. It wasn’t a full day’s curriculum but it went better than yesterday. What’s in the bag?”
“I thought we’d try tacos tonight. I still don’t know what Eddie likes to eat. This way he can add what he wants.”
“Good idea. The only thing I’m sure of is the Reeses Peanut Butter Puffs cereal.”
“Mulder . . .”
“Did you hear the hum today?”
He faced her then. “Yeah, early. The workers started before I could get up here to wake Eddie. The drill woke him up and he was terrified. I heard it then.”
She nodded, but made no other comment, turning instead to the stove. After putting the hamburger on to brown, she turned back. “Where is Eddie?”
“Upstairs. He was going to wash his hands. I guess I better go check.”
“Let me,” she said, wiping her hands. She headed upstairs and glanced in the bathroom. It was empty, so she turned toward the bedroom. It also looked empty, but the closet door drew her eye. It was slightly open. Eddie had always insisted it be closed before he went to bed. She stepped inside and opened the door. “Eddie?”
She squatted down to be eye to eye with the boy. “Eddie, what’s wrong?”
He said nothing, just rocking slightly.
“It’s time to fix dinner. I thought we’d have tacos tonight. Do you think you could help me? We can all hang out in the kitchen together. Does that sound good to you?”
He glanced up and seemed to think about it, then stood up. Scully rose as well but before she could say anything else, he was racing out of the room. She stopped to pick up his bag, his security object, and placed it carefully on his pillow. What had happened that would cause him to hide in the closet and need the bag. She was sure Mulder had been unaware. He would have been up here, checking on things if he’d had any idea.
Shaking her head, she followed the boy down to the kitchen. Since she wasn’t able to talk to Mulder about what had happened, she asked the boys to get together the ingredients she had bought and place them in separate bowls and set the table.
Mulder demonstrated how he built the perfect taco and Eddie imitated him and was smiling as he ate. Mulder talked about their day and their discoveries in the attic. They had left some of them out in the tree house, for play tomorrow.
Following the family time, and Eddie’s bath, Scully tried to lead him into the bedroom for his bedtime chapter of Treasure Island. She was stunned when he adamantly refused to enter the room.
Mulder, hearing the disturbance, hurried upstairs. “What’s up guys?”
“Eddie doesn’t want to sleep in his room tonight.” Scully saw Mulder’s brow furrow, as confused as she was.
“What’s wrong, Big Guy? You’ve liked your room the other nights.”
Eddie shook his head, his hands in fists. Mulder realized this could turn into the same kind of classic standoff they had experienced the morning before. They needed to divert this. “What about reading the story in our room tonight.”
Scully looked up, surprised.
“We can’t do it every night, but maybe this once. Okay?”
Eddie seemed to relax a little and nodded, but didn’t look up.
“Eddie? You understand this is not going to be every night, don’t you?” Scully asked.
Eddie didn’t respond, but he headed toward their bedroom.
“What are you doing?” Scully whispered to Mulder.
“He was woken up by that drill this morning. He might be remembering that fear. Let’s let him fall asleep in our bed and I’ll move him once he’s asleep.”
“It’s not a good precedent.”
“When he wakes up in the morning, and the sound is gone, maybe he won’t be afraid of the room again.”
Scully flashed back to finding him in the closet. Maybe that would work. After a moment, she followed Eddie into the room. He was sitting on her side of the bed, stiffly, but waiting quietly. She didn’t mention it, just drawing the chair closer to the bed.
“Get comfortable.” Mulder pulled the light blanket from the foot of the bed and sprawled on his side, to listen to the story with them tonight.
Mulder had dozed off, curled around Eddie. When the child whimpered and move against him, Mulder came awake. He stroked the little boy's back and immediately sensed the hum again, this time it crackled with fear.
"Shh, it's all right, just a bad dream," Mulder cooed sleepily. He could see Scully, the book on her lap, asleep in the chair beside the bed. He was just about to wake her and convince her to crawl into bed with them when Eddie shot straight up to a sitting position, eyes wide with terror. He clutched Mulder's hand tightly and the hum resounded to a crashing thunder of vibration.
Mulder was blinded by the strength of the child's emotion. Fight or flight became only flight and he felt himself being pulled by the hand, out of the bed and down the stairs. He tried to pull away once, but Eddie grabbed his other hand and kept tugging, the connection so strong between them that only a force of God could render them apart.
The night air was cool on his face and he blinked rapidly to clear his vision. They were outside, Eddie running as fast as Mulder would allow toward the back of the yard, to the forest. The moon was only half full but it gave some illumination. Out of the corner of his eye Mulder could see three forms approaching them from around the corner of the house. Eddie's fear ratcheted up several notches and was joined by Mulder's own fear. Mulder found enough strength to pull the child up into his arms so that only his feet carried them. He didn't need to think of where he was going, Eddie was directing him with his thoughts. One image grew large in his mind -- the tree house.
Not much of a defensive position without a weapon, a small part of Mulder's brain lamented as Mulder tried to wrest control. But the boy would have none of it. He needed to get to the tree house and he needed to get there immediately. Mulder's feet sensed the change in ground cover, from the soft grass of the yard to the wood chip of his running path. It would only be seconds to the tree house and safety.
The blow hit him in the back. All breath left Mulder's lungs as something hard hit him square across the back and then again across his shoulder's. He stumbled and felt Eddie thrown from his grasp. Before he could turn on his attacker, another blow came -- this time to his head. Darkness closed down on him.
Eddie hit the ground and rolled, a maneuver his now fallen companion would have found impressive. Two of the men were securing the now unconscious Mulder, tying his hands behind his back and enclosing his ankles in a strap. Eddie looked over at the man approaching him, arms out as if to comfort. Eddie scrambled to his feet and ran. He didn't run straight to the tree house, knowing instinctively that a straight path would be easier for the man to follow. He zig-zagged and twisted through the brush with the ease of someone who had lived near these woods for years, maybe even blazed trails through them. Finally, he rounded back to his destination. As he soundlessly climbed the ladder up to the floor of the house, he glanced back, hoping to see Mulder. His friend and the two attackers were already gone.
A tear slipped down his face and Eddie looked around the tree house helplessly. Then, inspiration struck. He grabbed one of the discarded work papers and a crayon and hastily drew a message he hoped she would understand. He was stuffing it in the rusted lunch box when he heard the man at the foot of the tree house.
Wiping his nose on his pajama sleeve, he crawled over to the edge and looked down. "I'll come down," he said clearly. "Just don' hurt him."
The man smiled, but it was forced and not at all convincing. He waved one hand, palm toward himself, to indicate the Eddie should come down. The boy swallowed the tears and the terror that was threatening to overtake him. Slowly, he climbed down the wooden ladder and allowed the man to take him by the hand.
When the cloth with the sickening sweet smell was placed over his mouth and nose, he struggled, but in just a short while, he was asleep.
Scully stirred, something waking her, not a sound more of a movement. She glanced toward the bed and realized that both Mulder and Eddie were gone. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep. She’d wanted to talk to Mulder after Eddie was in bed, finally tell him about William’s interaction with the artifact. Putting it off was easier, but it needed to be done. Eddie’s fear of his own bedroom had delayed that once again.
She stretched, listening for Mulder to return, but heard nothing. Puzzled, she rose from the chair and headed for Eddie’s room. She knew immediately it was empty. The moonlight coming through the window confirmed that, and that the closet door was closed tight. A movement caught her eye then and she realized that the new gate had just closed. No, that wasn’t possible. Looking down she saw that the car was still parked in front of the house. What was going on?
She did a quick search of the second floor, but she was alone. Concerned now, she hurried downstairs. No one was in the house, but the back door was standing open. Cautiously she stepped toward the door, wishing she was armed. There was no sign of anyone.
Following her instincts, she rushed upstairs and took the gun Mulder had purchased for her into her hand. It was fully loaded, and she slipped an extra clip into her pocket. She kept the gun in her hand and returned downstairs.
She stepped outside, looking right and left, but could see nothing. The moon shadows could hide things, but Mulder wouldn’t hide from her. What the hell had happened and where were they? After a moment, keeping her gun down at her side, she proceeded out toward the woods. Mulder had shown Eddie the tree house today. It made no sense for Mulder to take him out here at this time of night. Would Eddie have come out here on his own and Mulder follow? Nothing was making sense, but where else could she look? They didn’t have a damn garage.
The tree house wasn’t a place she visited often, but she found it with little trouble. Scully stood at the bottom of the tree, looking for anything that could give her a clue. They weren’t here, why had she thought . . . She turned to head back toward the house, but something stopped her.
Not knowing why, she climbed the ladder up to the small room. She’d been right, no one was there, but she saw the scattered Star Wars toys on the other side of the room. Closer to the stairs was a rusty box, an old lunch box? For some reason she snatched it up, and descended to the ground again.
Mulder felt the sea spray on his face and opened his eyes. He was on the beach again. It had been so long -- years, maybe -- since he'd last been on this shore. The sun was behind clouds but the day was warm. He was sitting on the sand, arms propped on his bent knee, and from this position he had a perfect view of the endless surf. For many minutes he just watched and listened to the waves crashing against the sand. It calmed him and he allowed himself to be lulled into a pleasant doze.
"Finally!" came a voice just behind him. "I thought you'd never get here!"
Mulder looked around, but couldn't see anyone else on the beach. "Excuse me?" he asked, straining to look down toward the shoreline, even though the voice came from just over his left shoulder.
"You're supposed to help me, remember," a young boy's voice said impatiently.
Ah, the boy. He'd seen him so many times in his dreams. But he hadn't had one of those dreams in years. Not since . . . Mulder's thoughts skittered away from the realization that he hadn't had one of those dreams since the birth of his son, William.
"I can't see you," Mulder said loudly, hoping to wipe away the bitterness of his memories. "Where are you? C'mon out and I'll help you."
"I'm right here! I'm right in front of you. Can't you see me?" the boy replied plaintively.
"There's no one here," Mulder objected. "I can't see you. Where are you hiding?"
"I'm not hiding," the boy insisted. "I'm right in front of you. You just don't want to see me," he accused angrily.
"No, that's not it," Mulder replied hastily. "I can't see you. I saw you before, I remember. We worked on a sand castle shaped like a spaceship. But you aren't here now. I can't find you."
Mulder kept searching, first looking all the way down the beach to his left and then all the way down the beach to his right. When he stood up and turned around to see the sand dunes behind him. There was absolutely no one on the beach. "Boy! Hey, boy? Talk to me again. I can't see you but I can hear you. Are you still here? Don't leave, okay? I want to see you, really."
"Then open your eyes," said the boy, right behind his back. Mulder spun around and saw the boy. He was wearing the same pajamas Eddie had worn to bed.
"There you are," Mulder exclaimed happily. "See, I can see you now. But you aren't really dressed to build a sand castle. Where are your clothes?"
The boy looked down at how he was dressed and shrugged.
"No problem, I guess. What do you want me to help you with? Want to build another castle?"
"I want you to tell me my name," the boy replied, crossing his arms in front of him.
Mulder shook his head. "I never knew your name," he answered sincerely.
The boy narrowed his eyes. "Yes you do. You know my name."
"No," Mulder replied patiently. "I don't. Really."
"She named me after your father," the boy replied, his eyes flashing.
Mulder swallowed. Was this why he'd never had the dream since William's birth? Was the dream boy his own son? His heart clenched and he closed his eyes against the sadness the washed over him. "I'm sorry. I didn't know who you were," he whispered.
A small hand touched his much larger one and Mulder looked down. He drew in a breath when he saw that he was looking at Eddie.
"I told you once. You do know my name," Eddie said and smiled.
A sharp pain in his shoulder jerked Mulder instantly awake. His captor was tightening the bonds that held his arms behind his back. Slowly, not wanting to alert his companion that he was awake yet, Mulder took stock of his surroundings. He was on a floor and it was vibrating. The slightly weightless feeling he remembered from too many cross continental flights. He was on an airplane. His arms were bound, but he couldn't feel any blindfold. His captors either expected him to remain unconscious for the full flight, or didn't care if he saw them. If they didn't care, that meant they weren't planning on him being able to identify them later. His heart sank.
"How's the kid?" A voice over his right shoulder was farther away than the presence that had just adjusted his bindings.
"Still out. He's breathing."
Mulder almost groaned in distress. They had Eddie. Last he could remember, Eddie had shot out of his arms. He'd hoped the boy could elude the men, but obviously that was a futile hope.
"We're an hour out. Better tie the kid up. We don't want him getting away now," directed the far voice.
"Have you been in contact with the site?" asked Mulder's jailor.
"Yeah. They're prepared," came the reply.
Prepared for what, Mulder wondered. Whatever it was, he hoped it would take a while. Scully's rescuing skills were still a bit rusty, and airplanes left very poor trails to follow.
Okay, she was officially frightened. Mulder and Eddie weren’t here. She rushed back to the house. She looked down at the box in her left hand. She laid the box on the table and opened it. The page on top caught her eye and she pulled it from the box. It had been shoved in and was wrinkled, but not long enough for the creases to be set in. This hadn’t been in the box but a few minutes. She felt the hair stand up on her arms. It was just one of the pages Mulder had printed off for Eddie, what . . . She turned the sheet over and sank into the chair at the table.
Who had drawn this? Could Eddie have . . . her hand was shaking now as she spread the sheet out flat on the table.
It couldn’t be, but what else . . . She’d seen this twice, once in Africa while fighting for Mulder’s sanity and, and a second time in Calgary when she had tracked William down. Mulder had seen neither and couldn’t have rendered this drawing in any case. But Eddie . . . Oh God! It was crude, but easily recognizable as the . . . the spacecraft. Could she call it that? She shoved those last doubts aside, recalling against her will, the scene -- Comer in the hospital bed, struggling for custody of the artifact, then his words. “One day god told Josepho to lead us a thousand miles north to find a ship buried in the ground. You have a piece of that ship in your hand. Josepho believes that that ship is a temple which houses the physical manifestation of god.” Comer had told her that. “Josepho said god spoke to him of a miracle child. A future savior coveted by forces of good and evil. Josepho believes your son is this child. Josepho believes your son will follow in his father's paths and try and stop the aliens' return. Unless his father was to be killed. That is the prophesy.”
She was on her feet now, racing up the stairs once more. Without knowing why, she grabbed Eddie’s bag up from his pillow where she had laid it before following him downstairs to make tacos earlier this evening. After a second, she pulled open the draw string and pulled out what was safely hidden inside.
The sight caused her knees to buckle and she sank onto his bed. She didn’t even feel the tears flowing down her face. This -- the blue knit harlequin cap that William had been wearing when she had allowed the woman to carry him out of her apartment, out of her life. She brought it to her face, breathing it in, trying to get her brain to work.
Eddie was William.
Thinking it still didn’t allow it to sink in. “Eddie is William,” she whispered. Their son, Mulder’s son, and he and Mulder were in danger. That thought finally galvanized her into movement. She was on her feet, the cap held tightly in her hand. Part of her wondered if she’d ever let it go.
She could see Josepho’s face. “You struggle to believe. It's so incredible, but your son will lead this alien race. He was put here to lead.”
She had seen it. She and Reyes had watched the ship emerge from the tent and disappear into the distance. They had walked through the bodies burnt beyond recognition in the remnants of the tent that had hidden the excavation. Just like the bodies at Ruskin Dam, El Rico.
She needed help. There was no way she could find the people that had done this alone. Everyone in Calgary had died that night, but it had only been a cell in the conspiracy. She had been right to try to protect their son, but oh God what had she done!
She moved past the bed and something caught her eye. She turned and saw the business card lying half under the light blanket on Mulder’s side of the bed. Had it been there earlier? She picked it up and her eyes widened. Drummy? Drummy!
The number of the back had to be his personal cell. She dropped the gun on the bed beside her and grabbed up the phone. The thoughts of releasing the cap never entering her mind. She dialed quickly, silently urging the man to answer the freaking phone!
The voice that answered was low, sleepy. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Who is this?”
“Scully. They’re gone!”
“Gone? Who’s . . . the kid?”
“And Mulder. Someone took them. I need your help. I have to find them, Eddie . . . “ She stopped there, unwilling to say what came to her lips. “They had the code to the gate.”
“Fuck! I’m on my way.” He sounded wide awake now. Scully was holding onto a disconnected phone.
Again she dialed. “Hello?” This voice sounded wide awake, as though already up and showered and on his second cup of coffee.
“Walter - “
“Dana? What’s wrong?”
“They’re gone. They were taken.”
“Mulder? The boy?”
“The boy,” her voice cracked then. “Walter, the boy . . . it was William.”
There was a very loud silence from the other end of the phone for a long moment. “Dana, you know - “
“I have proof. Eddie is William, and they’ve taken him again!”
“It’ll take me a while to get there.”
“Drummy’s coming. I found his card; he’d given it to Mulder . . .”
“Then I’ll head to the office and coordinate from there. It’s going to be all right.”
“They’ve wanted Mulder dead from the beginning.”
“The cult, Josepho.”
“What did you find?” ‘Skinner’ had emerged, demanding a report.
“A drawing. Ed-William left a drawing of the spacecraft, the one from Africa, the one from Calgary.”
“I’ll call you back, Dana. Let me start the investigation officially. Then . . . “
“I’ll be in touch, try not to worry. Be careful what you tell Drummy.”
She changed quickly into jeans and a black t-shirt, running shoes. Now was no time for doctor attire, she was into funky poaching mode. Were there any clues? The people that had taken them were professional; she had no doubt of that. Another group in the nameless hordes of people that lived that non-existence she knew as the conspiracy. There would be no fingerprints on the gate keyboard and as far as she could tell, they hadn’t come into the house. She would have heard that. Why the hell had she not heard Mulder and Eddie leave the room? Had Ed-William . . . The hum, why couldn’t she feel it like Mulder? She would have known something was wrong. She should have realized the connection . . . she should have recognized her son.
He’d witnessed . . . oh God! The deaths of all those people, when he had been in the next room. Could, could he read minds? She closed her eyes, allowing despair to overwhelm her for a moment. Safe - she wanted to laugh at the irony. She had sent the boy away to protect him, but they have found him and she hadn’t been there to protect him.
She had to find him, rescue him and Mulder.
Drummy was as good as his word, there in less than an hour. Even he had foregone ‘agent’ attire at this hour. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt under a leather jacket. He called from his cell phone when he reached the gate, to avoid touching the buttons himself. Scully opened it and he sped to the house.
“You could have used the panel,” she said bitterly. “These people don’t have fingerprints.”
“You saw - “
“I saw the gate closing. I didn’t see a car; I barely saw the gate in the moonlight. They weren’t using headlights, even brake lights. I don’t even know which direction they took out of the driveway.”
Drummy looked at her for moment. “So basically, we don’t have a fucking clue.”