TITLE: Whose Work Has Come to Nothing
NOTE: at the end
SUMMARY: All these years together, Scully. You must have seen this coming.
Home Sweet Home
From the end of the road, it looked like an ordinary beach house, one of many. Paint peeling, door hung at a slight angle, the house spoke of benign neglect and an underlying sturdiness necessary to weather the years. Up closer - the end of the driveway say - a passerby could peek at a wheelchair ramp added on at the back, still not so extraordinary in a world of aging population.
It was only when someone took the trouble to climb up the wrap-around porch steps and ring the bell that anything unusual could be noticed. Standing at the open screen door, the odour of lysol battled the odour of lilacs, as if cleanliness and beauty fought an eternal war with none the winner. A visitor peeking into the foyer could spy an elegant Queen Anne chair chockablock with a pool ball coat rack and tilting, overflowing bookcase.
No one ever climbed the porch steps though because, after all, it was the Mulder house. Fact and rumour had twisted in a thorny bramble so that over time, everyone knew - best avoid the Mulders. Bad things happened when the Mulders were around.
Mind you, there had been plenty bad in between the times the Mulders had lived there, too. The War to End All Wars - to those twenty and younger, this was a new, patriotic slogan, and those older folks better keep their mouths shut or be considered unpatriotic. The first real contact with beings from beyond the stars, and wouldn't you know it, those bastards tried to take over the world, just like those science fiction movies popular in the twentieth century. Animal movies were more popular now, probably because wild animals were getting hard to come by.
In the end though, thanks to the mighty U.S. government and its superior army and brilliant scientists, the aliens had been sent packing. A private group (three cheers for free enterprise!) developed a vaccine against the alien virus just in the nick of time; a savvy army scientist in a government lab noticed the effect of some damn weird rock and was able to crash those alienbastard's spaceships. Just because no one had heard of magnetite before the invasion didn't mean that Americans couldn't be proud of possessing so much of it.
And then - the red white and blue icing on the cake - a thirteen-year-old saviour had appeared from the American heartland. Everyone knew the story. On a bright, sunny day in June, William Van de Kamp dropped his bat in a seventh inning stretch, squinted up to the sky, called for the crowd's attention - and proceeded to outline the specific details of the next day's invasion. Luckily someone was listening, and when it came to take place as predicted well, that boy was used to plan every counterattack. No wonder the Americans won! They had the brains, the brawn, and some spooky kid soothsayer to save the day. Rumour was that William Van de Kamp now lived - after his parents' tragic car accident - under 24 hour security at the White House itself. If not on the main floor, perhaps in a warren of basement rooms. Or perhaps at the Pentagon. Rumour was.
With the attempted invasion and mighty victory, lessons had been learned. Keep to yourself. Protect your own. Differences could and should lead to suspicion (who knew what cockamamie group would threaten U.S. soil next). And in the small town of Quonochontaug, avoid the family with the weirdest history - the kidnap-prone, violent, kicked out of the FBI and now shaking and stuttering (drink? drugs?) Fox Mulder. And for good measure, best steer clear of the floozy Mulder was shacking with too. It just wasn't realistic to be too friendly in today's world.
The Price of Ribs
Stirring the oatmeal into smaller lumps while staring unseeing at the worn kitchen counter, Dana Scully indulged in a rare moment of reflection. So many curveballs had been thrown at them in the past ten years. So many missed opportunities and unthinking decisions - but she wasn't sure if planning would have made a bit of difference. How could she have planned for a future where Mulder was ill and marginalized, all his work - not discredited - but stolen by the very government which used to thwart their research and scoff at their ideas.
Scully knew that anger for life's sucker punches burned far brighter in her than Mulder. It seemed almost as if Mulder expected the worst and was thus psychologically more prepared for it.
She stabbed the oatmeal harder as her anger focused inward. She was a physician. By time they were fleeing prison and New Mexico, she was intimate with Mulder on a twenty-four hour basis. Why had she disregarded the warning signs? Early prognosis could have meant so much in terms - not of cure - but of treatment. Why was she deliberately blind for so long?
Mulder had always had trouble sleeping, so waking up repeatedly in the night was nothing new. He tended to lose weight when stressed - new weight loss when traveling around the country was no surprise. And when Mulder began experiencing stiffness on his left side, both he and Scully chalked it up to hitting his forties. But Mulder was 54 now, and things were so much worse.
A quiet voice from the bedroom, and Scully quickly lifted the pot off the burner and covered the oatmeal, scrubbed her face with her hands, and pasted on a smile. Her day had begun.
Mulder was biting his lip when she walked into the bedroom.
"How are you doing this morning? Need help getting out of bed?" Scully placed her hand gently on Mulder's arm and searched his face, trying to figure out what was wrong.
"Toes." Mulder winced.
"You've got cramping again - dystonia. Lucky I'm such an accomplished masseuse," Scully teased. Lifting an economy-sized bottle of lotion from the bedside table, she pulled the blanket from his rigid feet and began to massage each toe until it was flexible. As she did so, the healing power of touch worked its magic once again. Both relaxed into the synchronous moment.
"Thanks...see down your shirt." Big smile.
"Mulder!" She laughingly scolded, and pretended to straighten her blouse. She offered a steadying hand so he could rise, then, "Just for that, you're on your own, big guy. See you in the kitchen."
Scully turned her back and walked away, refusing to worry as Mulder lurched unsteadily to the bathroom.
Scully called, "We have back-to-back physical therapy and doctor appointments this morning, Mulder. Shake a leg."
Their private joke, and Scully was reassured when a soft, "It's shaking," floated back to her.
Scully was normalized to the hesitancy, the slurring in Mulder's speech, but her secret fear was that there would come a time when he wouldn't be able to speak at all. Being a physician had its dark side - the worst was her knowledge of how many challenges Mulder could still be facing. This was her sorrow, one she tried to keep from him. But Mulder was so damn intuitive, she knew she was only partially successful.
Within ninety minutes, they had finished eating and bypassed Quonochontaug for the big-city clinic in Providence.
The receptionist greeted them warmly. "Come right this way, Mr. Mulder, we have a P.T. room all ready for you. Dr. Scully, would you like a coffee?"
"That would be great, Adele. Any new medical magazines?"
Adele reached under the counter, and gave Scully a conspiratorial wink. "I saved the newest Journal of Medicine for you, Dr. Scully, and bookmarked page 54. There's an article I thought you might be interested in reading."
"Thanks so much." She eagerly took the journal and settled in a chair in the waiting room. She was always searching for new information, the big breakthrough. Mulder's life expectancy was not affected by his illness, but the quality of his life was. Scully was determined to optimize this any way possible.
At the end of the hour, Scully was called into the specialist's office. She sat in the chair next to Mulder and held his stiff hand in her own. He smiled at her, then looked nervously at Dr. Chan.
Dr. Chan smiled at the couple. "Good to see both again. How are you feeling, Mr. Mulder?"
"Doctor." Mulder nodded, then jerked his head towards Scully. "Questions."
Scully was momentarily surprised. Sometimes she forgot that Mulder could read her like a book.
"Yes, Dr. Chan, we do have questions. Mulder and I have noticed that he is having greater difficulty speaking than three months ago, and he also seems to be experiencing some kind of 'on-off' syndrome, where at times his medications don't appear to be having any effect."
Dr. Chan leaned forward and spoke to Mulder. "Does this happen at a certain time each day?"
Dr. Chan sat back in his chair, thoughtful. "Is there anything else bothering you?"
"No," Scully declared, but Mulder jerked his arm. "Yes. Feel shaking. On the inside."
Scully was concerned. "Why didn't you tell me about this, Mulder?"
Mulder shrugged and faced Dr. Chan.
Dr. Chan paused and appeared to measure his words carefully before speaking. "Mr. Mulder, would you mind drawing another Archimedes spiral for our records? I'd like to make a comparison with your last test."
At Mulder's nod, Dr. Chan placed a paper on the edge of his desk. Scully gently placed the proffered pencil in Mulder's right hand, and he leaned forward to draw the increasingly wider circles. Scully blinked back tears as she watched him strain to the task. The evidence of his evaluation crushed all foolish hope. Mulder's tremor severity was much worse.
Mulder, breathing hard, looked up - and Scully could see the defeat in his eyes.
Dr. Chan removed his previous test, and placed it next to the drawing.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Mulder," he began gently. "Your multiple medications appear to be losing their efficacy. We need to search for other solutions to handle your treatment."
"What?" Mulder's voice was strained. Scully sat rigid in her chair. She, too, waited with dread.
"Please rest assured that I want to find the best possible treatment for you, Mr. Mulder. We've already discussed the uniqueness of your case. If it's true that your Parkinson's is the result of exposure to environmental triggers - and I believe this to be the case - we can't really be sure when your exposure took place. Your medical file is unusually lengthy."
Dr. Chan looked seriously at them both. "It could have occurred as early as 1994, with your exposure to a dangerous insecticide. I'm sure you've read the correlative
studies, Dr. Scully, between pesticide use and the onset of Parkinson's Disease."
Scully nodded, and Dr. Chan continued. "In fact, Mr. Mulder, you've also suffered a series of blows to the head in the course of your work, concluding with unauthorized brain surgery in 1999. The insult to your brain has been almost unbelievable."
"I plan to do everything I can to help. I'm going to have to ask you to sit tight and wait for a few days, so I can consult with my colleagues. I'll get back to you as soon as possible through Adele. She'll call you when an appointment is open."
Scully held Mulder's elbow and they both stood, her voice quiet. "Thank you, Dr. Chan. We look forward to meeting with you."
"Thanks." Mulder's voice was tight, and he turned abruptly and staggered slightly before righting himself. Scully could sense how upset he was, and followed slowly behind until they got to their car.
Mulder sat silent and rigid on the way home and, without speaking, went up the back ramp into their house and shut the bedroom door behind him.
Scully wandered into the kitchen and turned on the kettle before laying her head on the kitchen table. The noise of heated water steaming masked her quiet sobs.
Best Things in Life
Will Van de Kamp stared at the vid screen without seeing a thing. His inward focus, sharpened suddenly to knifepoint on his twelfth birthday, was interfering more and more with his waking world. The duality of existence (truth/lies, friend/foe, love/hate) had turned sweet to bittersweet as his burgeoning self- and other- awareness developed.
There were so many unanswered questions. He rewound his mind's catalogue and flipped through familiar images. He had the lanky frame and big hands and feet of someone destined to be a tall man, where his father and uncles were stolidly built. Why had he never noticed that as a kid - he had to read minds at twelve to find out his parents had adopted him! Lamebrain, he chided himself - but it still hurt in that secret place inside him where no scientist could probe.
Why had his birth parents abandoned him? Why had mom and dad never told him the truth? What was in him that made him so very different from anyone else? Will knew the meaning of irony now. Irony was going from a place of simple love and comfort to a place where all envied what they called his gifts when, in reality, those gifts were bitter ashes in his mouth. Will had been shocked and dismayed to realize in the last six months that his ability to read the thoughts of others and his affinity with the hum of the earth, the natural order of things, were making him as genuine an alien as the outsiders he stopped. He mourned the moment the mask of unconsciousness had been ripped from his mind.
When Will dared to voice questions after a disorienting black helicopter ride, scientists at the facility had abruptly declared his birth parents dead, too. His hidden knowledge of their lies was the only thing keeping him from deeper despair.
The door abruptly opened and Will tensed, then relaxed as he saw a friendly face.
"Hi, Minji," Will smiled.
"Hi yourself, Will." Minji grinned back. "You have time for a swim and some lunch before tests this afternoon. Can I join you?"
"Sure thing." Keeping his face immobile, Will lightly probed and read only the cute nineteen-year-olds friendliness and openness. Will knew Minji had been selected for just these qualities - those running the facility made sure Minji had no idea about why he was sequestered there. He knew the ones in power were careful to keep their distance.
A quick change, and Will and Minji began to swim laps in friendly competition, then splash and dove till they were tired.
"Wow, Will, your abs are looking good," Minji teased, and Will blushed. His crush on Minji went up a notch.
"Yeah, well, you look great yourself. Do you want to have lunch on the roof - we can catch a tan while we eat." And I can see you in your swimsuit longer, Will thought.
"Sure thing. I'll call and have the food delivered topside."
Grabbing their towels, they climbed the metal staircase to the roof, Will's favourite place in the building. He felt more in touch with himself under the open sky.
He shook out his towel and lay next to Minji. While they waited for lunch, Will pretended casualness as he asked, "Minji, are you close to your family?"
Minji seemed thoughtful. "I guess so, although I haven't seen them since I started working here. The director likes our group to keep to themselves."
"Did you ever wonder why he has that rule?"
Minji sat up, looking surprised. "Why - it's because of you, Will. You helped save everyone from alien invasion. Everyone says you're our national treasure."
Will started to protest, but Minji shook her head. "No, Will, don't worry about it. I don't mind the rules, they're in place to keep you safe."
"But Minji," Will grabbed her hand, "I don't feel safe, I feel isolated. No one comes near me except you and Jim, for the tests." Will scowled. He knew scientists were trying to figure out what he had, to use it in some way.
He looked her in the eyes, declaring, "I need to find out about my parents. Do you think you could try to help me? Please?"
"Your - your parents are dead, Will." Minji looked stricken. "Didn't they tell you? They died in a car wreck."
When Will didn't answer, she softly declared, "I'm so sorry, Will." He felt a wave of simple sympathy from her in his mind.
Will leaned close, speaking in an urgent whisper. "Please - please just listen. My birth parents are still alive. I know this. I don't have any other family now, Minji. Could you please, please help me find them?"
Minji gasped in obvious surprise. Before she had a chance to respond, a shadow fell over the pair. Will pulled back and feigned casualness.
"Oh, hi Jim," he stared at the guard. He was chilled to feel hatred in a black wave.
"Telling secrets, William? We don't have any secrets here, do we, Minji." The threat unmistakable, Will helped Minji to her feet. They ate their lunch in silence.
"Scully. Walk?" He patted her shoulder awkwardly, regretful look on his face.
"Sounds good, Mulder."
They strolled the strip of beach by their house every fair weather day, breathing in the sea air and enjoying the peaceful bay. Scully knew Mulder needed regular exercise to maintain his ambulatory ability, but she could tell there was another reason for his suggestion. Mulder looked like he had something on his mind.
They moved slowly down the ramp and walked arm in arm on the hard packed sand towards a favourite public bench. Reaching the bench, they settled in and gazed at the scenery. A few locals were also out walking, but gave them a wide berth.
"I do believe, Mulder, that we might not be the most popular residents of Quonochontaug." Scully teased. In the past, when she'd asked about the unfriendliness of their neighbours, Mulder had shrugged and said, "Islanders have long memories, Scully." This time, his reply was terser.
"Don't care. Care about you." Mulder licked his lips.
Scully touched his arm, rubbing his bicep affectionately. "I care about you too, Mulder. So much."
"Sorry...for my shit. For all this." Mulder's face reflected sadness and loss.
"Mulder," she murmured, then hugged him tight to stop from crying, her worries for Mulder's future almost overwhelming her. Mulder held her awkwardly for long moments. She leaned into him for support.
Finally, her emotions under control, she looked up into Mulder's sad hazel eyes.
"We're a fine pair," she chuckled wryly. You're worried about me and how I'm coping, and I'm worried about you. I know we had scary news from Dr. Chan. But we'll find a way, Mulder. We always do."
"Always...together." Mulder hugged her again.
"Yes." Scully repeated. "Always together."
Scully lay her head on Mulder's chest. She ignored the slight trembling and relaxed into his warm embrace. There was something she needed to discuss with Mulder, but had hoped to put it off. Now, she was beginning to realize that time was becoming a precious commodity. She shifted on the bench.
"Mulder," she began, "Do you ever think about William?"
"Yes. Dream about him..." His soft reply surprised her.
"I - I know we promised not to contact him. But that was when they proved how happy he was living with the Van de Kamps. Now things have changed. The Van de Kamps are dead, the invasion forces have been repelled. Do you think we could find a way for him to be part of our lives?"
"For you. Yes. But - me." Mulder's arm jerked as he swept a shaking hand over his emaciated frame. "A pity case."
"Look at me, Mulder. Look at me," Scully insisted, holding Mulder's face in her hands. His eyes reluctantly met hers.
"There's a wonderful mind inside this body, Mulder. A caring, loving man. I think William deserves to know you like I do."
Mulder blinked rapidly. "How?" he gasped, hoarsely.
Did Mulder mean, how would they contact William or how would William, if they did meet, be able to get to know Mulder. Scully didn't even want to consider the second possibility.
"We'll find a way." Her firm reply seemed to put Mulder's mind at ease, and he nodded.
After about twenty minutes of peaceful sitting with shoulders touching, Mulder began to doze off. Scully knew it was important to keep him active and alert throughout the day so that his tremor and stiffness wouldn't keep him awake all night.
She shook his shoulder gently. "C'mon sleepyhead, let's get back to the house."
"Oh - 'kay, Scully," Mulder mumbled as she helped him to his feet. Mulder's trouble with balance and coordination was worsening, so Scully kept her hand on his arm as they meandered back to the house. The back door was in sight when a boy and his large mastiff ran past. The dog brushed Mulder's leg and he lost balance, falling heavily on his side to the ground.
"Mulder!" Scully, shocked, rolled him to his back. "Are you alright?"
Mulder was gasping, unable to gain his breath.
Scully hunched over him, deliberately calming her voice and rubbing her hands up and down his arms.
"Slow it down, Mulder, that's it, breathe with me. Come on, you can do it."
As Mulder began to breath more easily, Scully glanced from his face down his torso to check for damage - and was dismayed to see a growing wet stain at his crotch. Dammit, thought Scully, this will bother him so much when he realizes. His urination is supposed to be under control.
She impulsively leaned down and kissed him, then took off her jacket and covered his middle. Mulder mumbled, "Wha'?" Clearly confused.
"My kiss is just for you being you, Mulder. So enjoy."
Mulder smiled slightly, still dazed.
"A dog knocked you down. You lost your breath for a minute. You seem fine but you're just too big for me to lift." Scully looked around and saw a guilty face staring at her from behind a nearby tree. "Hey, boy, can you..." The boy and dog immediately ran away.
Mulder groaned, "Shit." He'd noticed his accident.
Scully deliberately raised her eyebrow, speaking archly, "No, not shit, Mulder. I am a trained medical professional, I know these things."
When Scully saw the light of humour and acceptance in Mulder's eyes, she briskly continued, "We have to get back to the house before you get chilled. I don't see anyone around to help..." a glance had shown her that the sparsely peopled beach of minutes ago was now empty "...so I'm going to have to call 911."
"No, Scully." Mulder complained. "I'll...try."
"I know you want to do this yourself, Mulder. But what if you fall again? I can help you sit up, but you can't lift yourself from the ground and I can't lift you. What if you fell on me when we were trying?"
"Turtle time." A ghost of a smile. "Stuck."
"On our backs," Scully nodded. "And I don't know about you, but I'd much rather cozy up together in a warm bed than out here in the wind."
"Do it," his face resigned. "Just...town. More talk."
"Screw the town," Scully declared frankly, "They have no idea what they're missing."
A quick cell phone call and less than ten minutes later two firefighters met them on the beach path. With neutral faces, they pulled Mulder to his feet and, at Scully's insistence, held each arm to walk him into the house.
"Please walk him to the bathroom and help him onto the shower seat," Scully directed. "I'll take care of the rest."
They did so, Scully's "thank you" trailing behind their abrupt departure.
Mulder looked dejected, rigid and fully clothed on the shower seat. Scully smiled. She knew a way to snap him out of his gloom. Instead of helping him remove his clothes, as he clearly expected, she began to disrobe herself.
"You don't mind if I join you, do you Mulder? I've heard that partners who shower together - might even have some fun. Want to play?"
"Yeah." Mulder was obviously happier now, and Scully grinned. She bent down and untied his shoes, making a show of tossing them out of the bathroom. She then helped him disrobe one piece of clothing at a time, casually dropping them in the hamper for later. Finally, she closed the shower curtain and turned on the warm spray. She washed and rinsed Mulder's hair and her own, before trailing the soap over his chest, back, legs and - finally - his groin. Mulder hummed in contentment. Loving touch sometimes helped him achieve an erection, but that wasn't Scully's main focus. She wanted Mulder to feel loved and cherished, instead of ill and inadequate. And she enjoyed reciprocal affection, too.
"Touch me, Mulder," Scully murmured, then stood skin to skin in front of him. Mulder's face was at breast level - he gently sucked her right nipple while throwing trembling arms around her, then moved to the left one, sucking harder. Scully gasped, and rubbed herself against his flaccid penis.
"Ohhh," she moaned, rubbing her own clit in time to Mulder's sucking. After long moments of stimulation, Scully felt an orgasm sweep through her and arched her back, breathing hard. As her wave of pleasure subsided, she sank to her knees. She was thrilled to see a halferection.
Scully kissed the tip of Mulder's penis, looked up and murmured "Your turn," before bending to take him in her mouth. She sucked and fondled, gently cradling Mulder's balls and lightly scratching the inside of his thighs with her fingernails. She felt Mulder grow harder.
"Ungggh," he moaned as his eyes squeezed shut, then came in Scully's mouth.
Mulder panted with release, then smiled down at Scully. "Wow."
"Wow yourself." Scully felt like she was glowing. Their love had once again been realized, given physical expression. She treasured these moments all the more for their rarity.
As Scully expected, Mulder's tremors became worse immediately after lovemaking. She wrapped him in towels and held him until they could move to the bedroom.
All in all, today had been a good day. If only she could forget the future.
Will rested back against the narrow bed in his room, a thin arm thrown over his eyes. He dry swallowed, sorrow washing over him in waves so strong it made his stomach clench. It was always the same. Jim escorted him to an empty white lab each afternoon where he sat in a black reclining chair, his wrists and ankles were secured by velcro straps, the lights dimmed, and then - an indeterminate time later - he awoke in his room.
He'd tried fighting at first, but stopped as soon as he realized how much Jim enjoyed his struggle, enjoyed hurting him. It was a bitter truth that Will was helpless to stop the tests, and unable to remember a moment of the procedure.
Tears leaked behind clenched tight lids. He was coming closer to uncontrollable despair each day. Will wasn't physically hurt - although needle marks dotted his arms and the insides of his wrists - but his sense of being constantly violated nearly overwhelmed him.
"If only..." He sobbed aloud, and his very soul released a wave of longing. "If only someone could help. Mom. Dad." Will rolled on his stomach and cried in earnest for a long time.
As his exhausted sobs began to finally subside, the light in Will's room seemed to flicker, to wave. Will looked up - and gasped. He scrambled and pressed against the backboard, his eyes wide with fright.
Three men stood next to Will's bed. When Will's mind tentatively reached out to sense their feelings, nothing was there.
"W-who are you?" Will gulped.
"We're buddies of your dad," the shortest man replied.
"And we've been searching for you for months. You must have found a way to guide us here," chimed in his neatly dressed companion.
Will stared, silent.
"Please, let me make introductions. I'm John Byers, this is Frohike, and this," he waved his arm behind him, "is Ringo Langly. We're friends of your parents."
A half-whisper. "Are you alive?"
"See," Langly chimed in, "I told you Will would be as bright as his old man. Sorry, buddy, but we were killed trying to stop the invasion a long time ago."
"Langly's right," Frohike continued. "We were killed and yet for some reason we don't understand, we're here. The only thing we can figure is that we must have some kind of unfinished business."
Will relaxed fractionally. He could sense the trio meant him no harm.
"You said I'm like my dad. Do, um, do you mean my birth father?"
"Yes, Will." Frohike smiled. "Both your birth parents love you very much."
Will blurted, "Then why did they give me away?"
The trio glanced at each other, seemingly deciding who should speak.
"Let's settle down, boys," Byers suggested, "We have a long story to tell Will."
Byers remained standing while Frohike chose the desk chair and Langly slumped on the floor, leaning against the wall.
"Will," Byers continued, "Why don't you wash your face and get a drink of water. We'll wait."
Will nodded and rose. Within minutes, he re-emerged from the small bathroom, tear tracks erased from his face and feeling calmer, ready and more than eager to hear about his past.
Byers smiled at Will as he perched back on his bed. "You look so much like your father, Will. Please know that your parents have always loved you. But they had some hard choices to make right after you were born."
"You see, Will, even then a small group was aware of the upcoming alien invasion. Your father - Fox Mulder - wanted so much to make the world safe for you and your mother. He left to search for a way to stop the invasion, and also because he believed that his being with you was putting you in danger."
"Why was that?"
"Alien forces were somehow able to track Mulder, and he was afraid of leading them to you. He loved you and your mom too much to put you in any danger."
Will nervously licked his lips. This new information answered half his question. When he could first read his parents' thoughts and feelings, he'd found they didn't know the name of his father at all. They did know his mother's name though - Dana Scully. It was written on his birth certificate.
Sorrow mixed with apprehension when he murmured, "But why - why - if my dad left, did my mom give me away?"
Frohike chimed in, "Because the bastards - uh, sorry Will - found you anyway. They almost killed you twice and Scully, your mother, was sick with worry. She finally decided the only way she could really protect you was to have you live in a safe, hidden place while she went to help your dad. Scully made a hard choice out of love, Will. And it did work for you, didn't it?"
Will thought back to his childhood. It seemed a lifetime ago now. Yes, he thought, I was happy. Mom and dad loved me. I had the ranch and picnics and friends. Until I was twelve, I had a great life. But after...
Will looked up and realized the trio was waiting patiently for him to speak. His residual hurt and anger forced the next question.
"I have a friend here, Minji. She says everyone knows how I helped stop the alien invasion, and that my parents were killed in a car accident. If Mulder and Scully know all this too, why aren't they searching for me, instead of you three? Why haven't they tr-tried to get me out of here?" His voice sank to a whisper. "It's been so - hard."
Will pulled into a tight ball, sitting knees to chest, thin arms wrapped around his legs. He tried to keep control of his emotions, shaking slightly from the effort.
"The story gets tougher now, Will." Byers spoke quietly. "Please listen carefully, because when I'm done you'll have some choices to make. I know you're only thirteen and it will seem unfair - but your mom and dad need you, maybe even more than you need them."
"What do you mean?" Will sat straighter, ready to listen.
"I told you Mulder was searching for answers. Corrupt people in our own government, in league with the invaders, framed your dad of murder and threw him in prison. Scully and some friends (Including us! Langly chimed) helped him escape, but the charges were never dropped. Your mom and dad were fugitives, spending all their time and personal fortune to develop a vaccine to stop the aliens. Your mom's a doctor, Will, a good one. Then one day, your dad got sick, so sick it couldn't be hidden anymore. Mulder and Scully had to stop their work, come out of the cold, and seek medical attention."
"You asked me why Mulder and Scully haven't come for you, Will. When their location was discovered, powerful men gave your parents a choice. Mulder would be thrown back in prison without treatment, and probably executed for murder - or they could stop the fight, live out their lives on a small government pension, keep quiet, and promise not to contact you."
Frohike stood, stepping next to Will's bed. "Don't think this was easy for them. But when they gave up the fight and made their promise, you were only nine years old. They knew you were happy and safe."
"I don't understand." Will breathed deep, his mind trying to cope with this jumble of information. "Why did the government want to stop them? They were right about the invasion. Why didn't mom and dad escape when dad wasn't sick anymore? And why - why don't they help me now?"
Byers pressed his lips together, anger evident in his face. "Good questions, and they deserve good answers. First of all, if they acknowledged your parents' work, it would mean admitting pre-knowledge of the invasion and corruption of the government at all levels. There are still some people who feel it would be better to kill Mulder and Scully than admit any culpability."
Langly suddenly spoke. "And buddy, your dad's still sick. He's got Parkinson's Disease, and he's getting worse instead of better."
Will blinked, shocked. He knew Parkinson's Disease first hand, from a neighbour's father. Terry's dad had been in a bad way.
"That's why your mom and dad can't save you now." Frohike continued. "Mulder can't travel. He and your mom need your help - if you're willing. No matter what you decide, we'll find a way to get you out of here. And if
you want to meet them, we know a way to get you to them, too. Whether you help them or not is up to you."
Will shifted and lowered his eyes. He stared blankly at the bedspread as his mind raced. Joy of escape warred with fear of failure, and residual anger at the parents whom he had believed until this moment had abandoned him. He understood the trio's words, but it was harder to release the deep hurt. What if they still don't want me? What if dad's too sick to care? I'm a stranger to them - will they think I'm a freak like so many others do?
A thought suddenly cut through his struggle - they keep saying I can help. How can I make a difference?
Will swallowed and glanced up, asking, "When you said my parents needed me, what did you mean?"
Byers leaned forward and smiled gently. "There's something in you, something special. I think you already know this, although - considering what it's cost you - you may not appreciate it. Your dad's facing an operation, a brain biopsy, which could help alleviate some Parkinson's symptoms.
It's a desperate step, but his medicines are no longer working. Some of your genetic material might help him."
Will started to speak, but Byers held up his hand. "Don't make up your mind now, Will. Why don't we help get you out of here, and if you'd like to meet your parents, then you can decide."
"Yes," Will jumped up, grabbed his shoes, and started tying them. "Let's go. Now. Can you guys do some magic or something to transport me?" He smiled, immensely attracted to the idea.
"Sorry, little guy, no magic," Langly laughed. "Better than magic. Your door's unlocked. Open it quietly."
Will had tried the door handle a thousand times, and it was always locked. But this time...the door opened noiselessly and they stepped, on by one, into the carpeted hall. Frohike whispered, "Follow me," and they traveled through a part of the building Will had never seen before.
"It's night now. Not too many people here," Frohike whispered, "And we've disabled their cameras."
They turned the corner to a side exit, almost free, when a slight figure slid out of hiding. Will rushed forward and the group relaxed. He gave Minji a shy hug.
Minji spoke quietly. "I thought about what you said, Will. When Jim was wheeling your gurney back to your room and putting you on the bed, I distracted him so he'd forget to lock the door. Good luck." It was obvious to Will that Minji couldn't see his companions.
"Come with me, Minji," Will pleaded. "This is no place for you."
"No, Will, I can't. Everyone will put the blame on Jim when you've escaped. I just want to go home too."
"How did you distract him?" Wondering voice.
The laughter was evident in her quiet tone. "Let's just say a woman's kiss set her prince free." She grinned. "You'll do great, Will. I know it. Now get out of here."
Minji waved - and Will turned toward the door of the facility, opened it, and stepped into a starry vista so beautiful the majesty caught in his throat. They were on the edge of a parking lot where a few deserted cars were scattered.
Frohike led the group once again. "Time to begin your life of crime, my boy. I'll explain how to hotwire a car - can you drive?"
Will nodded. "I've driven a tractor before."
"Good enough. Now let's get out of here."
Will's smile shone through the darkness as he drove down the back road. His journey towards freedom and his family had begun.
A Day of Atonement
Scully wandered into the front room and smiled as she saw her man engaged in the Knicks game. No cheering or hooting now, but his eyes were lively as he watched his beloved team score another point. She turned to go when she was stopped in her tracks. The game was suddenly interrupted by a news bulletin.
Mulder gasped, and Scully clutched the back of the chair for support. An announcer and a teenage boy appeared in front of the camera - a boy who looked like a younger version of Mulder. Both strained forward to listen and watch.
"This is Frank Martin reporting on an amazing news story. I'm here to interview the famous war hero, William Van de Kamp. He has something to tell us. William?"
Will looked straight at the camera - and seemed to be gazing into Scully's soul. She bit back a sob. She saw Mulder start trembling, but was sure it had nothing to do with his illness.
"Thank you, Mr. Martin," Will began. "First off, I want to thank the American people for their support, and to let them know I'm now ready to return to p-public life." A slight hesitancy, then, "I've recently had some wonderful news. I've discovered the whereabouts of my birth parents, and plan to join them as soon as possible for a reunion."
"Their names are Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, and they live in the small town of Quonochontaug, Rhode Island. My advisors have assured me that the American public will be sensible enough not to mob my new family or bother them. I trust that I'll be able to travel to them and get to know them without problems, but I'll be grateful for your well wishes along the way. Instead of a regular bodyguard, I know that you, the American people who have been so kind to me, will be on guard against anyone planning to hurt my parents or me. With your help, I can be an ordinary citizen once again. Thank you everyone, and thank you Mr. Martin for giving me this time to speak."
The announcer shook Will's hand, then turned towards the camera. "You're anything but an ordinary citizen, William - but I'm sure that everyone will be more than happy to keep you safe without bothering you. What do you say, people - does William Van de Kamp deserve our support? I'd say he does!"
The smiling announcer closed the broadcast.
Scully almost fell into Mulder in her eagerness to embrace him. Both faces were streaming with happy tears as they discussed the long-desired reunion with their son.
"Mulder, our son, he's so brilliant - no one will dare act against him or us now!" Scully marveled.
Mulder's smile faltered. "He'll...see." Mulder was having greater difficulty with articulation every day. They both long for and dreaded his upcoming operation.
"He'll know." Scully assured him. "If he can read our hearts at all, he'll know we've waited for him his whole life."
Mulder blinked in acquiescence, and they enjoyed a cuddle as their minds raced, painting a future with happy scenarios.
Their peace did not last long, however. Within two hours, the first of neighbourhood well wishers arrived, bearing pies and casseroles. Within five hours, their fridge and cupboards were stuffed to the brim. Mulder and Scully were being celebrated as the most famous of all Quonochontaug citizens.
It was delicious irony.
In the first hours after his escape, Will had been overwhelmed by wave after wave of random thoughts. He'd been forced to pull over to the side of the road, fling the door open and clutch his head in his hands.
"Hey, hey..." Frohike soothed, crouching in front of him. "Visualize a curtain, Will. Imagine a shut-off valve. Didn't you do that before?"
"Y-yes," Will gulped. "I'm - I'm just out of practice." He tried to breathe in deep, even puffs, while putting some mental distance between himself and the stream of thoughts around him.
During his internal struggle, Will remembered yoga lessons he'd been exposed to in his fifth grade class. His favourite teacher had talked - in between math and social studies - about alternate ways of being. Will had absorbed his lessons like a sponge. He felt calmer as he began to centre himself.
"You okay now?" Frohike murmured.
At Will's nod, he and the others exited the car, looking relieved. "That's very good," Byers murmured. "Because our time here is over. We've all been feeling it." Langly smiled, thumbs up, but Will began to protest.
Byers interrupted. "We don't have a choice, but we're happy - it's a joyful feeling. You're on your own for now, but you won't be lonely. Just read the letter in the backpack we've left you. It will tell you what to do and how to find your parents. The rest is up to you."
"But..." Feeling panicked.
"Don't worry, Will." Frohike smiled. "In as much of the future as we can see, you'll be happy and loved. Oh, and please say hi from us to Mulder and Scully." He winked. "Scully might think you're nuts, but Mulder will believe you."
And with that, between one breath and the next, the trio was gone, their words of comfort ringing in Will's ears. Will immediately stuck his head into the car and found a tattered backpack on the back seat. Undoing the clasp, he read the trio's directions and smiled. Their plan could work if Will could screw up the courage to make it happen. He'd also found a banana and a book. He peeled the banana and thoughtfully ate it as he put the car in drive again to continue his journey. The book by an unfamiliar author could be savoured later. He was ready to take some action now.
Will had driven straight through from the television station in Providence to his destination - an ordinary beach house driveway. No one had suggested that he was too young to drive. He guessed that if you saved the world, then the world was willing to make some exceptions for you. He'd seen many waving, smiling well wishers along the way, and had been able to block out their thoughts while being warmed by their friendliness. His magic trio of friends had been right.
Turning off the car at the end of the drive, he sat, hesitating. This was the moment. What would he find? Would his parents be happy to see him? Would they be accepting of him, with all his differences?
Will exited the car and, as he did so, allowed his mind to lightly probe the house's inhabitants. He went white - he was hit by a wave of such intense longing and love that it almost froze his feet to the path.
Will caught his breath. With more assurance, he climbed the porch steps and, before he could knock, the door was flung open.
"William," Scully sobbed. "I'm your mom." She leaned forward for a hug and Will, laughing with joy, lifted her off her feet and spun her around. "Mom, mom," Will murmured. His face was kissed a thousand times.
Finally, Scully stepped back and grabbed Will's hand, pulling him into the house. "Come on, William, I have someone I want you to meet."
Smiling. "It's Will now, mom. Where's dad?"
Scully stood aside as Will entered the front room. There was his father, Fox Mulder, siting rigidly in a chair. His body and face were stiff, but his eyes were filled with tears and expressed such tenderness that Will choked back sobs in shared emotion. Will saw his father's feelings and thoughts like a rainbow link connecting them.
Will knelt at his father's feet and grabbed his middle in a tight hug. Mulder's shaking hands patted his hair.
Will looked up with a brilliant smile. "Dad. I can hear you. We're together now. Everything will be all right, you'll see."
Will knew his father understood him by his look of happiness, which was mirrored in his mother's face.
Will was home at last. Their family's world - now complete - existed in a small beach house at the edge of the sea. Nothing else mattered.
END Whose Work Has Come to Nothing by bcfan
NOTE: I borrowed the title and theme of this story from William Butler Yeats. In a hard-edged, uncaring world, poetry reveals all that's important.
To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing
Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours' eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to bcfan
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