The Next Case (PG-13) - 2/?


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Her eyes looked huge in her face, the fear warring with the hope.  What did she want?

 

“I, I think that - “

 

“No, no Scully.  I don’t want to know what you think.  Please, tell me what you feel.”

 

She blinked then and he watched her start to automatically retreat from his request.  He’d expected it, but was disappointed anyway.  Pushing her on this kind of thing never worked, but just this once . . .

 

“I, I want my baby.  I want to have back all the time I’ve lost with him.  I want to see his first step, his first birthday, hear his first word.  That’s gone and I’ll never get it back.  He’s not a baby any more and I missed it all.  I know Cancerman couldn’t have survived that explosion, but I want to go back and find his bones and break them over my knee, I want to crush his skull into powder and jump up and down on it.  He took so much from us, things we can never get back.”

 

“Scully, I - “ he had no words prepared for this.  She had never revealed this, while he had ‘known,’ the fact that she said it stunned him.

 

She shook her head, and started to rise.  He got to his feet first and drew her into his arms.  “Thank you.”

 

“What?”

 

“Thank you, for saying that, for sharing that with me.  Scully, I’m sorry.  I wish, I wish I could get that back for you . . . for both of us.  I want you to have that, but I can’t do anything to bring it back.  I can’t get that back for you, but it reinforces what I am doing.  We have to finish what I started.  I need to see where the people that took William are.  We have to be careful, deadly careful, but we have to do this.  You need it, we need it.”

 

She stared at him, unsure what to say.

 

“Scully?”

 

“What if we lead them to him?  What if this is a purely selfish act, and we put him in danger?”

 

“I won’t let that happen.  I won’t.  But you aren’t whole without him.  I can’t make you whole alone.  You have given me so much, hell you’ve given me everything, I have to do this for you.”

 

“Mulder - “ she shook her head but before she could say any more he had risen.

 

“Go lie down.  I’ll clean up in here and join you in a minute.”

 

“You cooked, I’m supposed to - “

 

“The crock pot cooked, I didn’t do that much.  Go on.”

 

She rose then, and headed for the bedroom without another word.  He watched her go, torn between being pleased that she had opened up and revealed those feelings, and depressed that she had to feel those things in the first place. 

 

He made quick work of the kitchen, leaving the crock pot to soak rather than taking the time to scrub it then.  He needed to be with her, for both of their sakes.

 

She was lying on their bed, not even under the covers, staring up at the ceiling.  She didn’t turn when he entered the room.  He quickly stripped down to his boxers and took his place at her side.  “Scully?”

 

“Hold me.”

 

That didn’t take asking twice, and he took her into his arms.  They lay that way so long he thought she had drifted off, but finally she spoke.  “What do we do now?”

 

“It’s not a sure thing, Scully.  I have a name and state.  They could have moved, a lot of things could have happened.  That’s what I’m going to do next.  I’m taking my time, Scully.  I want to be certain I leave no trail, no hint about what we’re doing.  I’m going to keep him safe.”

 

“I know.”

 

“You haven’t asked the name.”

 

“I can’t.  I’ll find out eventually.  I trust you.”

 

He closed his eyes, taking in that statement.  He would not let her down.

 

*****

 

The information was frighteningly easy to come by, now that he had the name.  The internet was spooky with all the information available to anyone.  The Van de Kamps were still in the same house they had listed when William had been given to them six years before.  Well, stability was good in a child’s life, right?  Of course, he had lived in the same home until he was fourteen while Scully had moved around for years and which of them was more stable?

 

He had to get her out there, they had to see the boy, if not approach him.  They had made a point of not discussing contact with him.

 

When she arrived home that night, he was waiting on the porch.  Just the sight of him there paralyzed her.  What had happened now?  He loped down the stairs and opened the car door for her.  “Coming in?”

 

“I’m trying to decide,” she answered warily.

 

“I don’t bite, okay, yes occasionally I do bite, but - “

 

Blushing at a memory that came to her, she shook her head and let him take her hand to exit the car.  “What?”

 

“Can you get time off to attend a medical conference in Provo, Utah?”

 

“When?”

 

“Next month.”

 

“Mulder?”

 

“Wyoming.  We need to get to Reliance, Wyoming.   The conference is your best excuse to be in that part of the country.”

 

“I haven’t heard about it, but I think I can get the time.  What happens when I don’t attend?”

 

“You could teach it, it’s not like you need a conference.  If no one else from your hospital is going, who will know?”

 

She smiled at the compliment, then nodded and headed up the stairs to the house.  He followed, slightly uneasy at her silence.

 

Once she had divested herself of her briefcase and coat, she turned back to him.  “I’m going to be away for a few days, Mulder.  There’s a conference I’d like to attend in Provo.  I’ve got the exact date here somewhere.  It won’t be long.”

 

He grinned, Paranoia 101 was back.  “There’s some pathologist you’ve the hots for, isn’t there?”

 

“That’s it.  All those coroners I used to know were such studs.”

 

He chuckled and handed her the information he had printed off.

 

She looked it over.  “Only four days.  Wanna come?”

 

“And watch you make out with some pale, bald - “

 

“Stereotyping, Agent Mulder.  Besides, it’s not pathology.  I really would like to attend.”

 

“I know.  Yeah, I might be able to come along for a few days.”  He winked and they moved on to other subjects.

 

*****

 

Reservations were made for both of them, but by different means.  Scully got online and made reservations in her name, using her credit card, all open and above board.

 

Mulder used a different name, one of the IDs that they had carefully preserved from the past, unused, awaiting an emergency. 

 

She would fly through Phoenix, he through Denver.  She should arrive roughly an hour before him; time to get the car and pick him up.  All luggage went with her.  She would wear a suit and carry a briefcase; he’d carry a gym bag and wear jeans.  But as always they would end up together.

 

*****

 

She opened the trunk and placed her suitcase inside, then settled in the driver’s seat, pulling away from the house.  After the process of unlocking and re-locking the gate, she headed for the airport.

 

Mulder was lying in the back seat, where he had been since before dawn in order to avoid being seen leaving the house.  The recorder had been set, if anyone was listening, the computer would turn it on and off at appropriate times, and occasionally his voice would be heard from the kitchen or the bedroom.  He rarely left the house and they wanted it to continue to look that way.

 

Once parked at the airport, she opened the back door and leaned in, kissing him deeply.  “See you there,” she whispered.  “Be careful.” 

 

He nodded.  “I love you.”

 

She smiled, picked up her briefcase from the floor and then moved to the trunk.  She removed the suitcase, which held both of their clothes, and rolled it toward the terminal.

 

He waited a full fifteen minutes, then climbed into the front seat.  He pulled out and headed toward Baltimore.  Once there, Richard Byers boarded a plane to Salt Lake City.

 

It was a long, lonely flight for him, made worse knowing that Scully was already on edge about what they were doing, before having to fly alone across country.  His flight was delayed for a short time in Denver but he didn’t attempt to contact her.  She would wait for him; he had no doubt of that.

 

As it turned out they arrived at almost the same time.  He headed to the baggage claim carrying his gym bag.  He stepped outside and saw her drive up in her rental car.  The look of relief when she spotted him made him fall in love with her even more.

 

*****

 

“Dr. Hancock, Dr. Richman, I’m very pleased to meet you.  Please have a seat.”

 

Mulder and Scully took their seats in front of her desk.

 

“I have the criteria you requested here, and I believe we have some children for you to interview that will fit in with your research.  I must say we are pleased to have you out here in the middle of nowhere,” she smiled.

 

“Your absence of large urban areas is the reason we chose this as one of our areas for study, Ms. Harris.  It’s getting harder and harder to find children that aren’t homogenized by living in those areas.”

 

“I believe you.” Ms. Harris smiled.  “I hope we’ll be an asset to your research.  I’ve pulled the information you requested.”  She handed the folder to Mulder and sat back in her seat.  “This school holds kindergarten through high school, and even so, we have less than 500 students.  Are you planning on interviewing all ages, or do you have a range in mind?”

 

“We want to begin with kindergarten and first grade.  I’m sure there will be more later.”

 

She nodded and handed the list over to Mulder.  He scanned it, doing his best not to show his reaction to the name at the bottom of the list - William Van de Kamp.  “Is there anything we should know about Dennis Southers?”

 

Ms. Harris gave a short bio of the boy.  She did the same for Beth Hensley.  It was clear she knew all of the children in her school.

 

“William Van de Kamp?”

 

Scully’s head came up at her hesitation.  “Is there a problem?” Scully asked quickly.

 

“No, not a problem.  William is adopted.  They got him when he was about eight months old I believe.”

 

“That shouldn’t affect our study,” Mulder said quietly.

 

“No, that’s not . . . William has been tested, several times.  He is gifted, and only in first grade because of his parents’ insistence.  I’m not sure he fits in with the others his age, frankly I’m not sure where he would fit in.  He could skew your findings.”

 

“Gifted?” Just one word, but he heard her voice quiver slightly.

 

“Oh yes.  The boy has an eidetic memory.  He’s already reading at the eighth grade level, and he retains it all.”

 

“You say the parents insist he attend first grade?” Mulder took over the questioning.

 

“Yes, but I don’t mean that as a criticism.  They are a bit overwhelmed, I’m sure.  Neither Sarah nor Donald has a college education.  They’re wonderful people, salt of the earth, but dealing with William has placed them outside of their comfort zone.  They love the boy; don’t misunderstand me, but they . . . well, they aren’t equipped to handle his abilities.”

 

“What about his socialization?” Scully asked, sounding more in control, but he could see the strain on her.

 

“Oh, he’s quite social.  I doubt the other children in his class even know he’s different.  He doesn’t flaunt the fact that he’s so smart.  I’ve seen him help some of the others with their reading and math.  We don’t have all the teachers we need, and the other children trust him.  He never makes them feel small or talks down to them.  He’s also quite athletic.  We’ve noted that his agility is better than usual for a six year old as well.”

 

“I see.  He might not fit into our study, but I believe we’d still like to meet him.”  Mulder smiled.  “You never know where your next research dollars could come from.”

 

Ms. Harris smiled then.  “I understand.  Well, shall we continue with the list?”

 

Mulder forced himself to continue with the useless information on the other students.  He could feel the strain Scully was under, but they couldn’t rush this, they couldn’t make the woman suspicious.

 

Ms. Harris finally leaned back.  “I think that’s everyone.  Do you know when you’ll make your decision and want to begin the interviews?”

 

“Dr. Richman and I will discuss the selections this evening.  In the meantime, since we won’t be using, what’s his name, the child that was adopted - “

 

“William Van de Kamp,” she offered.

 

“Yes, since we don’t be using him for the study, why don’t we speak with him prior to the regular interviews?”

 

“Oh, yes, that would work.  Would you like to see him today?”

 

Mulder saw Scully’s hand fist at her side and hoped that Ms. Harris hadn’t noticed.  “I think that would work, don’t you?” He looked over at Scully.  She caught his eye and forced herself to relax.  She nodded and managed a smile.  Only he could see how strained it was.

 

“I have a small conference room.  Would that be all right?”

 

“Yes, that would work fine.”

 

He picked up the briefcase beside his chair and took hold of Scully’s elbow to help her to her feet.  He stepped in front of her to hide her trembling and walked with Ms. Harris to the door.   She escorted them to the small room three doors down from her, opened the door, then left them as she went to find the boy.

 

“Scully?”

 

“I’m sorry.  I can’t - “

 

“I know, but you’ve got to keep it together for a little while longer.  We can’t afford to let her become suspicious.”

 

“I know.”  She took a deep breath and centered herself, then took a seat at the small table.

 

The door opened shortly, and Ms. Harris escorted a young boy into the room.

“William, this is Dr. Hancock and Dr. Richman.”  The boy gave them a slight smile and nodded but didn’t offer to shake hands.

 

That was a good thing; Scully was white knuckled holding onto the seat of her chair.

 

“They’d like to ask you a few questions, William.  Do you mind?  Would you like me to stay?”

 

“No, we’ll be fine,” William said.

 

Scully couldn’t look away from the boy.  He had chestnut hair like his father, and that lock of hair that flopped down over his brow, just like Mulder’s did when it got long in the front.  But there were red highlights in his hair when the light hit it just right.  His eyes were hazel, and Scully wondered why Ms. Harris didn’t remark on the resemblance.  Could she not see that this was their child?

 

Ms. Harris nodded and squeezed the boy’s shoulder then let herself out.  When the door was closed William looked at both of them.  “I’ve been waiting for you.”

 

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