The Next Case (PG-13) - 3/?

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When the door closed, William looked at both of them.  “I’ve been waiting for you.”


Scully's gasp caused Mulder to turn from the boy and look at her.  William rose from his chair, and moved toward the door.  Before either Mulder or Scully could speak, he flipped the lock, then walked around the table toward Scully.  Mulder tensed but kept silent.


William stopped as she turned in her chair to face him.  “Mom, you did the right thing.”


At the choked sob, Mulder was on his feet, but William was closer and his arms went around her neck.  She clutched him to her in what had to be a painful grip, but he didn't protest, just holding her as she wept.


“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”


“Mom, Mom, listen to me.  It was the right thing to do.  Neither of us would have been safe, they would have found me before I could learn to protect myself.  You made all the right decisions.  The shot Uncle Jeff gave me, all of it.”


“Shot? What shot?  Uncle Jeff?” Mulder had moved closer, ready to take them both in his arms but faltered at those words.


William looked up at Mulder.  “Hi, Dad.  Long time.”


Mulder gave a chuckle that was more sob than joy.  He moved then and his arms encompassed them both.


After a few minutes, Mulder and Scully regained their composure and Mulder resumed his seat, moving his chair closer, his hand still on Scully’s shoulder.  He would ask his questions later.


“Are you happy?” Scully seemed surprised she’d even asked the question, but it was out there now.


“Yes.  The Van de Kamps are very good to me.  They don’t understand me, but . . . “ he shrugged.  “They try.  I’m a little more than they bargained for.”  He gave them an ironic grin that was so like Mulder’s that Scully caught her breath again.  Her hand caressed his cheek, taking in this new image of the son she had dreamed of for so long.


“We’ll have time to talk.  Right now we need to discuss our plans,” William said looking back over at the locked door.


“P-plans?” Mulder stuttered.


William stared at them for a long moment.  “You haven’t come to get me.”  His voice was wondering.


“I, we need you to be safe.”


“That's over now.  We’re running out of time.  We have a lot to do.”


“Out of time?” Scully stared at him.


“We only have four years.  There’s too much to do.  Maybe you didn’t plan to take me, then think of it as fate.  We need to make plans.”


“We, we can’t take you.  That’s kidnapping.  Your p-parents . . . “


“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, I think this will work.”  He took a seat next to Scully, still holding her hand, looking between the two.




The boy sat back and watched them.  “I need to unlock the door.  Ms. Harris is coming to check on us."  He rose and headed toward the door.


“William, you can’t believe your, your parents will buy this.”


“Mom already knows, even if she hasn’t admitted it.  We have no choice.”


He reached for the knob while Mulder and Scully looked at each other.


"Gibson," Mulder mouthed to Scully.


William flipped the lock and hurried back to his chair.  He looked up at Mulder and nodded.  Mulder acknowledged it with a nod of his own as they heard the tap on the door.  Ms. Harris didn't wait for an invitation, sticking her head in the door.


She noted the positions of everyone, the adults seated, William in the same seat as before, with his feet wrapped around the rungs of the chair, the width of the table between them.  Good, there was something so intense about the woman she'd been a little nervous.  William seemed relaxed, almost as though he were in charge of the interview.


"Everything going okay?" she asked.


"Yes, it's been a great interview so far," Mulder replied.


"Wonderful.  I do need to ask you to watch the time.  William's bus will be loading in about ten minutes."


Mulder nodded.  "We'll finish up now.  Thank you."


It was a clear dismissal, and Ms. Harris smiled and closed the door.


"William," Scully leaned forward immediately.  "I don't think - "


"It will work.  I know Mom, my other mom, already suspects this will happen.  Make sure Ms. Harris knows you've left town.  You can't be implicated in the future."


Mulder looked over at Scully and saw the yearning in her eyes.  "We'll make it work.  How can we reach you?"


"You can't.  I'll reach you."  He rose then and smiled at Scully.  "It won't be long, Mom.  I love you."


She closed her eyes and a tear escaped from the left one, but she nodded as well.  William glanced at the door, then hurried back around the table to give her another quick hug.




William let himself in the screen door.  He could hear the woman he had thought of as one of his mothers most of his life moving around in the kitchen.  "Mom!  I'm home."


"William," she looked down the hall and smiled at him.  "Come on, I have a snack for you."


"Thanks."  He dropped his backpack by the door and hurried down the hall.


“Do you have homework?”  She didn’t mean from first grade.  He didn’t attend the older classes, but quite often brought home work from the higher math and English classes. 




“You can go ahead and do it in here until I have to set the table.”


He nodded and took one of the cookies with him as he went to retrieve his book bag.  He spread out on the kitchen table while she moved around getting dinner ready and cleaning up.  She moved into the laundry alcove and did some ironing after that and he continued working. 


He looked up after an hour and called to his mom.  “Dad’s on his way.”


Sarah winced slightly, but made no comment.  The fact that William knew these things would never cease to fluster her.  “Okay, go ahead and clear off the table.”


He did, and pulled out the dishes while she finished up with the ironing.  Donald made his way onto the mud porch stomping, then removed his shoes.


“Hi, Honey.  Good day?” Sarah called from the laundry room.


“Pretty good.  I’ll be finished with the large field tomorrow.  Carl and I can start planting tomorrow afternoon.”


“That’s great.  Go take a shower and I’ll dish up dinner.”


Donald gave her a quick kiss and headed for the bathroom.


When he returned, hair still wet and slicked back, they sat down together to eat.  They were quiet at first as always, until Donald could relax a little.  Once he had about half his plate emptied, he sat back and relaxed.  He smiled up at Sarah, then winked at William.


“Thanks, guys.”  He said it every night, but they still grinned back at him.  “What happened today?”


William let his mom go first, though she had little news, then they both turned to him.  “Well, I do have something we need to talk about.”


Donald looked over at Sarah, who was watching the boy with a worried expression on her face.  “Is something wrong?”


“You might think so, Dad.  I need to leave.”


“Leave?” he gave a slight chuckle, looking at his six-year-old.




Donald blinked.  “What are you talking about?  Leave?  You’re six years old.”


“I’m sorry, Dad.  I know this is not something you were thinking about, but I was sent here to keep me safe, to keep my biological parents safe.  Now I have to go to keep you and Mom safe.”


Donald looked over at Sarah, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes.  “Sarah?  What the hell is going on here?”


She started at his use of profanity, but didn’t speak.


“What are you talking about?  Leaving will keep us safe?”


“Dad, you know I’m not the kid you thought you were getting.  We all know that.  I’m the freak, the - “


“You’re not a freak,” Sarah interrupted.


William smiled at her.  “Maybe not, but I’m not the kid you imagined.  I have things I have to do, and if I don’t do them, I could lose you forever.  I can’t explain, not really, but I have to do this.  I love you, just like my other parents loved me.” 


“Look, it’s my job to keep you and your mom safe.  Tell me what you think is going to happen and I’ll take care of it.  I’m not letting you . . . Just drop this; it's not funny.”


William looked over at Sarah then, his eyes begging mutely for help.


Sarah swallowed, then took a deep breath.  “Donald, I don’t want him to go, you have to know that, but I think he knows things we don’t.  We need to at least listen to what he has to say.”


Donald looked over at Sarah incredulously.  “Sarah, you can’t - “


“Please, for me.”


Stunned, Donald sat back, his meal completely forgotten.


William cleared his throat.  “We have to have a plan so that people will understand why I’m not here, and not be concerned.  The story we need to spread is that I’ve gotten a scholarship to a special prep school on the east coast.  You need to drive Mom and me to the bus station, then she and I will get tickets to Casper.  People here know that Mom has family there, and it would make sense for us to visit with them.  Then I would fly east with the people from the school and Mom would come back here.”


“I don’t have any family in Casper any more,” Sarah said quietly.


“That’s okay.  Neither of us would really go there.  After we buy the tickets, and go wait for the bus, Mom would slip out when no one was watching and come back here.  She’d need to stay out of sight, not answer the phone for a couple of days.”


“What about you?” Sarah asked.


“After you’re gone, I’ll do the same thing.”


“I’d need to wait, see that you - “


“No.  You can’t see who I leave with.  This is to protect you as well as me and everyone else involved.  I can’t let you see.  Please, I have to protect everyone in this - “


“You’re a child.  It’s not your responsibility to protect anyone.  Your mother and I need to meet these people, talk to them, before we even consider any of this.  We have to know that you’re safe.  We’re your parents.”


“Normally that would be true, and I hope someday you can meet these people.  They’re important to me, just like you are.  Talk to Mom.  I’m gonna go pack my gym bag.”  He rose from the table and left them alone.


He purposely shielded himself from their thoughts.  They needed this time alone.  If Mom couldn't convince Dad, well, he'd get involved then.




Mulder looked over at her and she nodded.  He picked up the phone and dialed Ms. Harris’ home number.  After two rings she picked it up.  “Hello?”


“Ms. Harris?”




“I’m sorry to bother you at home. This is Dr. Richman.  I’m afraid Dr. Hancock and I will not be able to begin our research tomorrow.  Dr. Hancock’s father has had a heart attack and I’ve got to get her back.”


“Oh, I'm so sorry.”


“I’ve gotten us seats on a flight out of Salt Lake tonight.  I will be in touch, but - “


“Of course.  I completely understand.  She must have sensed something earlier, she seemed very tense when I saw you.  Please tell her she and her father are in my prayers.”


“Thank you.  I’ll tell her, and I’ll let you know when we can get back to you.”  He hung up the phone deciding immediately not to mention her observations to Scully.




“She bought it and sends her sympathy.  Now we’ll see if William can pull it off.”


She didn’t comment on that.  Could any six-year-old convince his parents he needed to leave them and go off on his own?




William stayed in his room, reading after he finished with the packing.  He only took a few changes of clothes.  Mostly he had packed mementos, pictures.  He didn’t know when or if he would ever return here, but if he did, it wouldn’t be to live here as he had most of his life. 


His mom had always known this was coming, that he was different.  His dad did too, but was in deeper denial.  Whenever he had done something . . . spooky, William smiled at the term, his dad had ignored it. 


Many times he had felt his mom’s eyes on him, worried about what she didn’t, what she couldn’t understand.  He had never tried to explain.  In the beginning he hadn’t had the words, later it was just too late.  He had spent more time with her of course; he’d been just a baby, so she had had the opportunity to witness much more.  It was fortunate that Uncle Jeff's injection hadn't worn off for several months.  It was even more fortunate no one had expected it to ever wear off.


They had loved him though, and kept him safe.  They hadn’t known, would never have been able to guess what he was, what their care of and for him would mean for the future.  He had to repay them, keep them safe now.




Donald pulled in and parked the car.  He wasn’t happy about this, but Sarah, after a long night had convinced him.  She’d forced him to face a lot of things he had chosen to ignore over the years.  He was very unsettled and knew that until Sarah at least was back in the car with him, he’d be jumping out of his skin.  He’d said goodbye to William at the house and managed to get through that.  Now as he watched the two people he loved most in the world walk away from him, he felt his eyes grow moist.  He self-consciously wiped at his nose.  When would he see his son again?


Sarah and William walked up to the counter and she purchased the two tickets to Casper using money that William had given her.  She had asked where he got it, but it was another of those things that he couldn’t talk about.


He was dressed in jeans with a denim jacket and a baseball cap.  The jacket was buttoned, covering his t-shirt.  His tennis shoes were scuffed and unremarkable.  The ones with the lights that came on when he ran were buried in the back of his closet.


They took a seat on the bench ostensibly to wait, but in reality it was for William to check around the waiting room and ensure no one was paying attention.  After a few minutes of him looking around, at least pretending to be an eager child looking forward to a trip, he turned to his mother.


She took a trembling breath and squeezed his hand.  She too had said her goodbyes, but letting go of this child she had raised from infancy was momentarily impossible.


“William - “


“Mom, I’ll be in touch with you,” he whispered, “I promise.  Please don’t worry about me.”


“I’m your mother.  I’ll always worry about you.  I can’t believe I’m considering letting my baby - “


“Mom,” he looked deeply into her eyes for a long moment.  Nothing was said, but she seemed to relax.  “Go on to the ladies room, Mom.  When you come out go directly to the car.  Dad’s probably frantic by now and he needs you.”


She nodded, wiped the tears from her eyes and rose.  Without looking back, she headed for the ladies room.  As soon as she was out of sight, he picked up his gym bag and headed for the arcade section to fit in with the other kids waiting.


He kept an eye on the ladies room door, and watched as his mother came out and only hesitated a second at the bench when they had been sitting.  Then she was out and he took a deep breath.  He unbuttoned his jacket and removed it, exposing his red t-shirt and hid his ball cap in the folded jacket.


He picked up his gym bag and after counting to twenty, moved toward the opposite door from the one his mother had used. 


The car was already moving, as though they had sensed him before he exited.  He smiled slightly at that, then jumped into the back seat where he hid on the floor of the car.  They pulled away and headed toward Salt Lake.


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