Chapter 25: Jonas and Ezekiel
March 26, 1998
1:00 a.m. Calderon’s lab
The guard was reading, and barely looked up when Krycek carded and coded into the nondescript building. Krycek ignored the guard, and walked straight back to Calderon’s lab. The doctor was working. He was always working.
Krycek snapped, “Update. Now.”
Calderon looked up. “I am putting the finishing touches on another protocol. I was planning on testing it tomorrow.”
“Thursday?” Krycek asked.
Calderon nodded. “What can I do for you?”
“My associates require more molecular probes and manufacturing instructions,” Krycek said.
“Manufacturing is simple. You set a few probes to make more of themselves, and feed them. Be sure to put an off switch in. A Von Neumann accident would be so unfortunate.” The doctor pushed his stool away from the counter and stood. “I have a few programmed that way here. I can give you several.”
He walked to the freezer, and carded it open. “How many kits do you need?”
Krycek answered, “Thirty.”
“Control units, also?”
Krycek shook his head. “Not that many control units. Six, at the most. And instructions on flushing probes from a biological system.”
The doctor smiled. “Ah, but it’s so much more fun to leave them in place.”
“Fun, yes, but not my goal.” Krycek said.
“It’s actually in the instruction manual. Oh, not the one I gave you, this one.” Calderon handed Krycek a worn hard copy. Then the doctor disappeared into the freezer unit, reappearing a moment later with a tray. “Let me package these for you. How close are your scientists to a solution?”
Krycek smiled. “Close. Not there yet.”
He took the probes directly to Joe, and said, “How fast can you make a second batch?”
Joe frowned. “Have you tested the first batch?”
Krycek shook his head. “I will have an opportunity today, but I would like to test...both aspects of the treatment, simultaneously.”
Joe nodded. “I think I have enough synthesized to program another dose, but it will be several days before I can make any more than that.”
“That should be sufficient. I think I have enough toys to play with for a few days.” Krycek’s voice was light, casual.
“Play...” Joe said.
Krycek gave a thin-lipped smile, and said, “If I come back at five thirty, can you have it ready for me?”
Joe gave a short nod, and turned away. “But only if you leave and let me work.”
Back at the surveillance condo, Skinner stirred as Krycek came up to the upper floor. “Get what you need?” he asked sleepily.
Krycek smiled. “I did, or rather, I will. I’m going to need Ralph to leave our girl alone today and go fetch him. Have Ralph bring the man about a mile from the home by nine, and then wait for my call. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll want you, too. Bring all your guns.”
Skinner’s eyebrows raised. “Should we alert the rest of the team?”
Krycek shook his head. “I have in mind a two-phased process. I will be testing several of our weapons today. If they work, I will have him use his command voice to take over the installation. That will buy us time for treatment and further testing if necessary. If they don’t work, well, you won’t get that call after all. But I suspect they will work, at least the weapon component. And it will be challenging to test a cure with them watching. This first stage needs to happen with no warning.”
They got a little sleep, but not much. At 5:20, Krycek showered, got ready, arranged his weapons carefully inside his jacket, and went to go get the second dose.
6:00 a.m. Surveillance Condo
Langly drove to La Jolla expecting a normal day of traipsing after Scully pretending to be inconspicuous. When Skinner explained the plan to him, his eyes widened, and he blanched a bit. When they left at 8:15, Mulder and Scully were not yet out of the condo. Frohike was on the next block over, looking busy over a plot of earth, and Langly leaned out the car window and said, “The DM has announced that a perception check has given us knowledge that our presence will be needed. Get in.”
Frohike nodded, and climbed in.
“Dude, you smell like worms,” said Langly.
Frohike just shot him a look, then said, “Should I call Mama Bear?”
Langly frowned. “That man is so not Mama Bear.”
Frohike snorted. “Of course not, man. He’s like, Dracula. I meant Gwynne.”
“When did she stop being ‘White Owl’?” Langly asked.
“When she gave the Gettysburg address yesterday, and roused the rabble to the cause,” Frohike said.
“Wouldn’t that make her Lincoln?” Langly asked.
Frohike gave him the ‘don’t be stupid’ look, and pulled out a cell phone.
Skinner rode in the back, silent.
When they arrived at the Cavendish house, Garrett Spender was standing on the front steps, and aside from the lack of cigarette dangling from his fingers, he looked unsettlingly like his old self. He came down the steps and got into the car before they could get the doors open, and didn’t speak until they were on the main road.
As soon as they were up to speed, he said, “It is nice to be needed, don’t you think?”
Skinner glanced at him, shook his head a little, and was silent for a long moment before saying, “Krycek is going to make his move. He wants us close.”
Garrett smiled, and said, “How refreshing. And do we know when this move will be?”
Langly shook his head. “Nope. But we’re supposed to go close around nine and wait for a summons.”
“Can I call Mulder and tell him he’s not being tailed?” Frohike asked.
“We’re not 100% sure of that, but we do know that Scully gave him a couple injectors,” Langly said.
Frohike said, “I just think he’ll want a chance to talk to Flo.”
Skinner said, “Do it.”
9:30 a.m. The Condo
Mulder hung up the phone, then dialed Flo immediately. Half an hour later, she was inspecting the baby proofing and crib. “We still need to pick up diapers and formula,” he said.
She nodded, trying to find the cameras without turning her head. He noticed, and said, “I got a call. Apparently we’re off camera right now.”
She breathed a sigh of relief. “Gwynne told us all yesterday what was really going on. I’m going to push this through this morning, and you might be able to take Tyler home. You did get the carseat checked?”
He nodded. “Lined up at 7 a.m. with about eight other dads. I was the only one they passed on the first try.”
She chuckled. “Tif give you the 411?”
He laughed. “Said if it didn’t feel like wrestling a moose, you weren’t doing it right. I knew she could get them in there so they wouldn’t move, so I practiced on my own until I got it that tight.”
“Call me before you leave Tif’s house. I may be able to let you take him today. Oh, and I’m going to forget to file the paperwork for his transfer until the middle of next week.” She smiled.
He blinked. “Today?”
“But Sally works tonight...” he frowned, torn.
“Might be a good surprise for her when she got home, no?”
He said, “It might be, at that.”
She smiled. “Oh, and by the way, Tif can send you home with a supply of formula and diapers to cover your first few days.”
10:30 a.m. Teen Mothers’ Home
Krycek sat, relaxed, at the monitor station. He’d sent the guy who normally sat there away, so he was the only one in the room when the doctors showed up to tell him it was time for test, part two. He said to Ernie, “I think I would like to be in the room this time.”
Timing, he thought, would be everything. As he followed the doctors into the prep room, one of them looked back, pointed to a hazmat suit on the wall and said, “You should put on one of those. If this goes wrong again, the splash may be caustic.”
Krycek kept his face neutral, and answered, “Thank you for your concern.”
They gowned up quickly, Krycek took his time.
He stepped into the pants, and took off his jacket before donning the upper part of the garment, anchoring a cell phone to his prosthetic hand before slipping both inside the larger-than-necessary glove.. He smiled when he found pockets, and slipped his pistol inside, loaded with the most lethal payload, then arranged his other options in a specific order. First, the immunoglobin antidote, amber fluid. Then the pink liquid, the treatment. Then several injectors of the white toxin. He smiled, lining them up in his hand, and pushed into the operating theater.
One of the masked Calderons was drawing fluid out of the girl’s abdomen already. He tried to ignore the girl on the table. He was fairly certain that she would be dead in a few minutes. And he would need to wait until she was dead, to begin his work.
One of the two nurses in the room handed one of the doctors the treatment, which he began to administer. Krycek came up behind him and injected the antidote quickly. Without slowing, he dropped that syringe and shifted over to the nurse, injecting Joe’s treatment. Then around the dying girl, for indeed a stain was spreading out from her, and she was starting to spasm. The first doctor started to yell, but Krycek was already hitting the nurse with the toxin, then he put his arm around the last doctor’s neck from behind, and held the pistol against his throat, and said, “Now, let’s see what happens.”
The first doctor’s yell cut short, and he seemed to be petrified. The nurse was staring at her arm in horror, as a hole formed. Krycek smiled in his hazmat suit, watching a trickle of gas rise from her arm, a sizzling green. The second nurse was prone on the floor, sagging into green goo.
The Calderon he was holding said, “What.... what did you do?”
Krycek smiled. “Just a little experiment. We’re going to watch for a little while, see what happens.” He squeezed the prosthesis and heard the phone dial. Close enough to his mouth. He didn’t bother listening, just said, “Come in through the front door, and put Ralph at the monitoring desk.”
They stood, watching, for about twenty minutes. When the nurse was still standing and the sizzling had stopped, Krycek turned the dart gun, shot her with it, and put the gun back on the doctor.
The effect was pleasing. The dart hit her mid-chest, and the spreading green stain moved quickly enough that he knew he would not need to take another shot.
On the other side of the girl’s body, the doctor started to blink, and Krycek flipped the pistol forward, took a shot, and then put it back against the doctor’s neck. Then he turned the two of them around, picked up the almost-empty syringe that had killed the girl, and whispered into the clone’s ear. “I think there’s a certain poetic justice in this, don’t you?”
Then he pushed the syringe into the doctor’s shoulder and stepped back. It was slower than the toxin, but faster than the antidote, and the hole it ate left the doctor dissolving on the floor as soon as the stain spread to the back of the clone’s neck.
Krycek looked at the four disintegrating clones on the floor and smiled. He stepped over to the chair where the girl’s body was starting to slump, and looked down at her dead eyes almost tenderly. “Sorry kid,” he said out loud. “It wasn’t going to go down any other way. Your death will buy us time, and may save your friends.”
He found a hose faucet in a large stainless sink next to the door to the prep room, washed the grue off his feet, and stepped through the double doors. Getting out of the suit one handed proved tricky. Finally he resorted to bending awkwardly at the waist and working his way out that way. It took another fifteen minutes, but he finally slipped his shoes and jacket back on, and walked back to the office.
Skinner, Langly and Frohike stared at him, and then back down at the monitor room. Krycek sighed. “Someone will need to clean that up. I need another girl in there, not Lucita or Maria.”
Langly frowned. “What...”
Krycek held up the injector, pinkish liquid glistening pearlescent. “Our pet lab mouse thinks this will work. We need to test it here before we test it out there.”
Skinner frowned. “You’re taking about using those girls as guinea pigs. How is that different from...”
Krycek cocked his head, a dangerous glare in his eyes. “Watch your mouth.”
Skinner started to open it again, but Krycek gave a warning tilt to his head.
“Where’s the old man?” Krycek asked.
Frohike leaned over in his seat and pointed around the corner and down the hallway. “I think he’s taking charge in there.”
Krycek walked down the hall a few paces, then paused, looked at Skinner and said, “I need your gun now. If you would follow me?”
Skinner nodded and the two strode down the hall together.
Langly was working fast on the keyboard next to Frohike. “Whatcha doin’, Ralph?” Frohike asked.
“Cleaning the room. Found the subroutine when I was poking around. You should watch, it’s wicked cool.”
The appalling mess in the room was hidden by a sheet of liquid.
Krycek found Garrett Spender in the monitoring room, where Jerry was frowning and the other men were staring at the man with wide eyes.
Krycek said, “There’s been an accident in the OR. Two Calderons and two nurses just melted when their treatment splashed. I’ve got a treatment here that can prevent toxicity from what happened there.”
Garrett nodded. “As I said, I will be assuming control of this part of the Project. Please stand and cooperate with Mr. Krycek.”
Krycek pulled a vial of the amber fluid out of his pocket, plus a few empty syringes. “This stuff is harmless to humans in the doses we’ll be using. He drew a few ccs into the first syringe. “Arms please.”
Jerry stuck out his arm, and Krycek jabbed the needle into his deltoid muscle, depressing it quickly.
The next man, Krycek dredged up, “Mike”, held his arm out, and Krycek pushed a new syringe in.
Next was a man Krycek never had bothered getting a name for. Arm out, new needle.
The last man stuck his arm out casually, and Krycek injected the antidote.
For a few minutes, they all stood there. Then suddenly Jerry doubled over at the waist, and Krycek yelled, “Stand back!”
An inky spot was forming on the floor as Jerry retched.
Krycek said, through narrowed eyes, “You see? He was already contaminated.”
When Jerry sagged back, one of the men shoved a chair under him to keep him from falling. He looked up at Krycek, face still running with dark oil, and croaked out, “Orderlies.”
Skinner and Krycek moved back out into the hall, and started filling syringes.
Skinner said, quietly, “If they are aware of what’s been going on, the others may have compromised our people...”
Frohike and Langly were still sitting at the desk, typing, watching the OR emerge, clean, when Skinner and Krycek both stepped in behind them and injected each in the deltoid without asking.
Langly said, “Hey, ow! Whatcha do that for?”
They watched the two men for a few minutes, and then sighed with relief as there was no effect. Krycek was already watching the monitors, looking for the orderlies. He laid out antidote and toxin, filled a few more syringes, and recharged the dart pistol with compressed gas. Skinner pointed, and Krycek nodded. “Are they acting like they know what’s up?” asked Krycek.
Skinner shook his head. Frohike said, “They’ve been doing normal sorts of things since I’ve been here.”
Krycek watched the men *not men* moving around and noted that the OR was completely dry.
“Ralph, how would we go about asking them to bring one of the girls into the OR?”
Langly pointed at the little switch next to the monitor they could see the two orderlies on. “Right there. Then just talk. Oh, they call them Elmer and Rudolph.”
Krycek stared at him. “They do not.”
“No shit. You’ve got to admit it kind of fits them.”
Krycek leaned over and flipped the switch. “Elmer and Rudolph, please bring...” he picked one of the heavily pregnant girls at random, “Felicia to OR 1.”
He nodded at Skinner. “Ready?”
Skinner took a deep breath. “Game plan?”
“Let them put the girl inside. One of us stays with her, the other shoots the orderlies when they walk down the hallway.”
“You shoot, I’ll go with the girl,” Skinner said.
Krycek shrugged, and handed the pink-filled injector to him. “Jugular with that. Has to be done.”
Skinner nodded, pained, and pocketed the injector. He held a amber-filled syringe in his right hand, mostly hidden.
They walked down the hall. The orderlies were waiting inside the operating room. Skinner walked in, and said, “I’ll take it from here. The staff will be in shortly.”
One of them said, “Nurse should be here already. We will wait.”
Krycek swore under his breath, stood where Skinner could see him, and held up the amber filled syringe. Skinner nodded and said, “That’s just fine.” He started walking toward the door as Krycek came through. They whipped around and injected the amber fluid near the base of the neck of each orderly, then Skinner rushed around and took the girl’s hand and pulled her out into the hall while the shapeshifters sagged oddly, features losing definition, skin changing color.Krycek stared. "They could have had any shape they wanted, and they picked those."
He pulled out the dart gun and aimed, nodding at Skinner to do the same. “Wait,” he said. “I want to see how long it takes them to recover.”
“They can recover from that?” Skinner asked, gesturing with his dart gun in the vicinity of the sagging blobs. “They look like gingerbread men made out of lime jello.”
“In the clones, it acted as a sort of paralytic. But the clones have an underlying human structure. This, I think, breaks down the bonds between their structural components—”
At that moment, one of the things that had once been an orderly topped over with a jiggle. But the other one didn’t. Krycek asked Skinner, “How much did you have in there?”
Skinner looked at one of the syringes. “About half, so 4 ccs?”
Krycek nodded. “Mine was full. Let’s watch.”
The one that was still upright was starting to become more opaque. Over the course of another ten minutes, he started gradually elongating and gaining definition and human features. The moment he moved, Krycek kicked the door open and shot him with a toxic dart, then let the door swing back shut. The puddle of caustic goo spread and reached the blob on the floor next to it. The blob popped like a thrown water balloon, and started to bubble.
The girl standing next to them started to step back and Krycek shook his head. “No. Stay.”
She shook her head and said something in Spanish that Krycek didn’t understand.
Skinner frowned. “She thinks you’re going to do that to her.” He spoke in competent but not fully fluent Spanish to the girl.
They went back and forth a few times. Finally, she nodded, looking terrified.
“What did you tell her?” Krycek asked.
“The truth.” Skinner put his hand up to his forehead and ran it back over his scalp. “I told her that the doctors were working to make the girls sick, to make their babies sick, and that we might have a cure, but we didn’t know if it worked yet. I told her that the doctors, who were evil, killed two girls trying to ‘cure’ them. But that we had no idea if our cure would work better. She is willing to let you try.
Krycek nodded, and beckoned them down the hall. “It won’t be tidy if it doesn’t work, but if it doesn't, we may not be here for long.” He led them into one of the little exam rooms. He did not ask her to get out of her clothes, simply gestured for her to climb up onto the exam table. Skinner helped her, and held her hand while Krycek took the injector. Skinner said something in Spanish, and the girl nodded a little, then said quietly, “Ahora.”
Krycek pressed the injector against her neck, and triggered it.
Nothing seemed to happen at all. She did not die, she did not seize. She just sat there, looking from one to the other with a question on her face.
Krycek said to Skinner, “That’s promising, but we won’t know until she can be examined.”
Skinner nodded. “She’s working tonight. I could take the girl to Urgent Care.”
“Call our good doctor first. And if you go to the hospital, be careful. I think our bounty hunter is still out there, plus several other clones. Not all shapeshifters are hunters, hell, I’m not sure all hunters are shapeshifters. Tell the girl she needs to come with you.” Krycek stepped back.
“Did we really just manage to clear out this entire place of bad guys?” Skinner said.
“No. We need to deal with the rest of the staff the same way.”
They walked out, and back down the hall, and the girl followed them, hand on her belly.
2:00 p.m. Genetics Lab
Scully jumped when her phone rang. She wasn’t sure whether she was more surprised by the ring, or at being surprised by the ring. She answered it, “Dr. Harrod speaking.”
“Coast is clear on our front. No tail today. We have a patient for you, we’ve administered the treatment and need a followup.” It took her a moment to peg the voice as Skinner, he was using none of the little quirks she associated with his calls, speaking in shorthand.
She said, “Take her to the chem lab first. Joe’s there. He can take a look. Bring her over if he thinks it necessary.” *That man could make my job obsolete.*
She stared back down at the films in her hands. It was one thing to be told, it was another thing to know.
Tyler’s little dot of blood, proteins multiplied a millionfold, matched. What didn’t match Mulder, matched her. She closed her eyes, leaned her head back, and smiled. *Ours.*
She felt something, a shift in the air, a strangeness, and spun around on her stool. Standing almost close enough to touch, was a man, standing stiller than humanly possible. She stared at him for a moment, when it dawned on her that he wasn’t breathing or blinking.
He pointed at the films in her hand. “You are not who you pretend to be.”
She frowned. “Do I know you?” And suddenly she realized that she didn’t know who he was, but that she did know what he was. She said then, “You’re not either.”
His features shifted in front of her. The PCR films slid out of her hands, scattering on the floor, and she put her hands down at her sides. “What do you want?” she asked.
“I want to know what you are planning. And we are going to go find your partner, Agent Scully.”
She did not resist as he grabbed her arm, but slid her hand into her pocket. She asked, “Who are you working for?”
He didn’t answer, but pulled her along faster. She fingered the injector as he pulled her through the hallways past patient rooms and nurses. She thought about Mulder, dying until immersed in cold, about the agent with his eyes gouged, Detective Kresge so sick, about the green goo she’d seen multiple times, and she waited.
He led her to another dark sedan, and
still gripping her arm, opened the passenger side door. *Don’t
let him get you in the car.* She
jabbed the injector into the arm gripping her, and when his grip
slackened, she ran, eyes starting to water. She did not look back to
see him tip against the car, slide down to the ground and dissolve
into the asphalt. She did manage to register that there was no one near.
She ran to the chemistry lab, throwing to the door open to see it full of people. She gasped, “Joe” as her eyes started to burn, and fought the urge to rub them. He looked, crossed the room in very few steps, pulled a handful of injectors out of his pocket, and jabbed her arm with one filled with amber fluid. Students stared at them, and Joe moved out into the hallway, shutting the door behind him.
She leaned heavily against the wall, sinking down to the floor, her hands still coming up to her eyes.
He crouched down in front of her, grabbed her wrists, and said, “I’ll give it another minute...”
She nodded, face screwed up with pain as her eyes reddened... and then it didn’t get worse. She squinted at him to see his head cocked, as if he was listening to something.
He said, “It stops it. It does not reverse it. But I can.” She felt a rush of tingling warmth through her body, and the pain lessened, then disappeared.
Skinner, coming around a corner, saw them and came running, Felicia walking behind him, looking overwhelmed.
“What happened?” Skinner asked, brusque and concerned.
She looked up. “A man with many faces. I got him.”
He nodded. “Good. We were worried...”
“He tried to kidnap me. The white stuff worked. If he didn’t disintegrate his keys, there’s even a nice sedan out there.” Joe released her hands, and she rested her elbows on her knees, pushing a stray curl out of her field of vision.
Joe looked at the girl standing behind Skinner. He smiled at her, and she gave him a worried smile back. Putting out his hand, he spoke in quiet, fluent Spanish to her. She nodded, and put her hand in his. Again, he listened, then straightened and said, “Even if it is clear around here, we should go somewhere more private.”
Scully looked at her watch, and frowned. “I need to get back to the genetics lab and pick up my papers before someone gets curious. I left in a hurry.”
Skinner put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, sir,” she said. “I’ve got a shift in fifteen minutes, and I’m not sure if it’s humanly possible to get from here to there that fast.”
“We’ll drive you and talk in the car,” he said.
3:30 p.m. Chula Vista
Mulder called Flo early, because he couldn’t stand waiting any longer. As soon as he identified himself, she said, “Yes. We’ll sign some paperwork tomorrow, but you can take him tonight.”
He hung up a minute later, looked at Tif with sparkling eyes, and said, “Yes.”
Tyler looked up at him, and said, “Essss”, ending in a sloppy raspberry. Then, “Mama.”
Mulder grinned. “Yes, sir.”
Tif smiled, and said, “You watch the boys, I’ll put together a care package.”
Half an hour later, he carried a box of supplies out to the car, along with a couple days worth of disposable diapers. When he protested the amount she was sending, she just shook her head and said, “I get more all the time from the church and from WIC. Never you mind. I bought them for him out of the money they sent, and they’re his.”
He loaded a groggy Tyler into the carseat, and said, “Sleep here, baby boy. We’ll see Mama soon.”
He gave Tif a one-armed hug over Oscar, who, several weeks older, was now more formed and awake. “Thank you, you’ve been a good place for my boy to land.”
She smiled, and said quietly, “Someday you’ll come tell me the whole story, Mr. Harrod. I’d like to hear it. It’s going to be quiet around here, Oscar’s going to his new family on Monday.”
Tyler slept through the afternoon traffic, and Mulder drove up through San Diego and north to La Jolla and the hospital.
Tyler woke up as they were walking through the halls and leaned up from Mulder's shoulder, blinking the sleep away. He smiled, and clapped Mulder’s ears, saying, “Da!”
Mulder lifted the boy up to his shoulders, and held one arm on Tyler’s back, another gripping one chubby ankle as they walked into the Urgent Care lobby. He winked at the receptionist and said, “Delivery for Dr. Harrod.”
The receptionist’s eyes got big, and she disappeared into the back for a moment. Scully walked out, blinked, blinked again, and said, “How?”
He grinned. “She pushed it through. We get him today.”
She looked desperately back at the door to the clinic, and saw a cluster of faces in the doorway. The receptionist was on the phone, and then looked up. “Emma’s coming back in. She says go on ahead.”
Scully’s chin quivered a little, and Tyler reached down and said, “Mama!”
She reached up for him, wrapped her arms around him, and lost it completely while he grabbed a fistful of braid.
After a few minutes, Meg shooed them out, saying, “Go home already!”
She reluctantly handed Tyler back so she could go change. A few minutes later, she came back, and reached for the boy.
They walked out, and once they were alone she said, “We have to go find them.”
He cocked his head. She said, “They took out most of our surveillance today. I nailed a bounty hunter.”
He looked at her, impressed. “You go!”
She gave a rueful laugh. “If Joe hadn’t been close, I might be gone. The toxin works, but in close proximity it still has the same problem we’ve had before. I managed to get him out in the parking lot.”
She looked at Tyler, chewing on her braid. “I don’t suppose you have that baby carrier?”
He nodded pointedly at her fanny sack. She pulled the strapping out, pulled it over her shoulder, and sat him in the webbing. Then she frowned. “That will do in a pinch, but there’s got to be a better way.”
He held out his arms. She batted them away. “I’ll deal. You’ve had weeks.”
They walked over to the chemistry lab, but Joe was nowhere to be found. Mulder took Tyler and they walked back to the car.
At the cul de sac, they saw a dark sedan parked. Two cabinet doors and the fridge, and a red light glowed. Scully put Tyler down on the floor, and he grinned, petting the carpet and then crawling over to the toys in the corner.
A moment later, a knock sounded on the door. Mulder peeked, then opened it. Skinner stood there. Scully said, “I was hoping for Joe, not that I’m not happy to see you, sir.”
He got a funny look on his face, and looked at Tyler. “Is that him?”
Mulder nodded. “That’s our boy. Flo sent him home with us a day early.”
Skinner said, “Joe’s in the condo across the street, you can go get him yourself.” He hung his coat up on the hook, tucked his glasses in his pocket, and to Scully’s surprise, got down on his hands and knees to look the boy in the eye.
Mulder said, “Now THAT is an X-file,” and walked out the front door.
Tyler was pleased. He reached up and grabbed Skinner’s bottom lip, pulled, and said, “Wawa”
Scully stifled a laugh. “Don’t ask me how he knows, sir.”
Skinner chuckled, and said, “Just so long as you don’t start calling me Wawa, I think I’ll let him get away with it, at least until he can manage a few more syllables at a time.”
She nodded seriously, “Okay, Wawa.”
He looked up at her and said wryly, “Not planning on coming back to work, are we?”
She shrugged, and Tyler pulled to a stand using Skinner’s head as a support.
Skinner sat back on his heels, and Tyler crawled into his lap. “He’s a friendly kid, isn’t he?”
Scully sat down on the floor, and said, “He’s been really friendly with Mulder and me, from day one. But we’re told that he usually isn’t with other people.”
The front door opened, and Mulder walked in, followed closely by Joe and Felicia. The girl didn’t seem to know what to do, and Scully gestured at the sectional and said, “You can put your feet up.”
Felicia frowned and Joe translated. The girl smiled, and sat down on the couch, looking relieved.
Joe looked down at Tyler, and cocked his head, then looked at Scully. “He’s really talkative.”
She said, “What do you mean?”
He sat down next to her on the floor, and said, “I’m going to tell him to do something. Let’s see if he’s cooperative.”
Tyler giggled and crawled over to Scully and pulled her glasses off. Then he stopped, cocked his head, and then grabbed them and put them on himself.
Joe shrugged. “See?”
Tyler blinked up at her through the glasses, then pulled them off. He looked over at Joe, and frowned. Joe said, “Out loud, little one.”
Tyler frowned again, and shook his head.
Joe said out loud, “Mama can’t hear you unless you use your mouth.”
Then he reached over, and touched the boy on the lips, and said, “Mouth.”
Tyler shook his head.
“He’s telling me that his mouth isn’t good at it.”
Mulder and Scully looked at each other. “He’s telepathic,” she said, and Mulder blinked at her.
“Say that again, Scully,” he said.
Joe nodded. “Strong, too. My kind can send and receive with others of our kind easily. With clones to a limited degree. But we cannot easily pick thoughts out of a human head unless that human has certain structures in the brain, certain genes active. This boy does it without thinking. But he’s little, and doesn’t quite understand that the rest of you can’t hear him thinking. I think that may well explain why he goes to you so readily. He senses your goodwill.”
“I don’t mind if his mouth isn’t good at it, I like hearing him talk,” said Mulder. “I like that he calls me Da.”
Suddenly he frowned. “Oh.” Then he closed his eyes for a moment.
Joe smiled. “He got that.”
Tyler crawled over to Mulder, pulled himself up to a stand, and Mulder turned him to face Scully. Mulder said, “He was almost walking the other day, and I wished he would wait until his mama could see. He obliged.”
Tyler nodded, and then reached forward. Scully put her arms out, and Tyler took a few steps to her. She laughed. “Thank you, sweetie!” Then she sighed. “Can you tell how easily he can read us? Surface thoughts or everything?”
Joe closed his eyes and turned his head. Then he said, “I’m not sure, but I think he has some good natural filters. He’s... it’s mental baby talk, but significantly better than his audible baby talk. I think he has to be paying attention to hear someone.”
Scully looked up at Joe. “How about the girl? Could you tell if we were successful?”
He nodded. “There are still nanoids, but the protein-based material has broken down, and the baby lives.”
She nodded. “Good. Do we know how to flush those?”
Skinner nodded. “I think Krycek knows.”
“Joe,” she asked, “how soon can we have more treatment doses?”
He thought for a moment. “If I wait and give it to you all at once, I can give you more by that point than if I stop and give it to you as I have enough material. There’s an exponential effect that means that letting it double one more time is extremely helpful. If pressed, I could give you five doses by Sunday. But if I have until Tuesday, I think I can give you closer to 500 doses.”
She nodded. “If we can wait that long... How about you give me a dose on Monday and then the rest on Tuesday?”
“Sure. It will be a few less, but how many do you need?”
Mulder said, “Between the pregnant girls and the children, we need about 20.”
“That I can do by Monday,” Joe said.
Mulder asked, “So what is the situation with the girls right now?”
Skinner answered, “Garrett Spender is at the home, taking charge after a ‘lab accident’. Krycek dealt with most of the clones and aliens on site... efficiently. Claimed there was a contagion and started inoculating people. Found an oilien, a bunch of clones, a couple of shapeshifters. I think he was pissed. We decided that it was safest to test a cure with the aliens out of the way. And with your weapons, we have a chance at holding off quite a bit of pressure. Krycek’s ally is also helping keep things under control.”
Scully flashed to a memory of Krycek’s brutality, and then squelched it when Tyler’s lip started to quiver. She looked over at Mulder and said, “His talent may be a problem. Aside from the whole thing where we don’t tend to censor our thoughts as much as we censor what we say, when I think about what the Syndicate would do for a fluent telepath...
Joe nodded. “The irony is that this is exactly what they have been trying to accomplish, only arrogantly they assumed they had to have alien components to make it happen. I may be able to teach him, in time, to use more than simple mind reading.”
Skinner stood up. “We need to go. You people need to spend some quality time with that boy before things get really exciting.”
“How safe are we, tonight, sir?” Scully asked.
“As safe as we know how to make you. The teeth are pulled. I can’t guarantee they’ll not grow back, but I think that you’ll be okay for the evening. If you want, I’ll call with an all clear in the morning if it is. No call, assume you’re being watched.”
Joe and Felicia got up, and the three of them left.
Mulder and Scully sat and watched Tyler until he frowned, sat down, and patted his tummy.
“Let’s go pick up some dinner,” Scully said. “With all he’s been exposed to, I think sticking with organics right now might be a good idea.”
6:30 p.m. Whole Foods
Tyler seemed pleased to be riding in the cart. Mulder would put something into the cart, and Tyler would reach back and try to grab it. In the produce section, Mulder and Scully were discussing what vegetables to get, when she looked down to find Tyler gnawing the end off a lemon.
Mulder looked bemused, and said, “I guess we’re buying that...”
They wandered through the store slowly, picking up organic pasta and vegetables and free range eggs.
On the soy milk aisle, Scully stopped cold. She looked up at Mulder, who blinked, and they froze like deer in the headlights.
Maggie Scully looked up from her close perusal of the rice milk shelf to see them looking at her. She cocked her head, looked amused, and then blinked at Tyler. “The curls are nice, dear. But I’m not sure about the beard.”
Scully couldn’t say a word.
Maggie came over, and stood next to Scully, looking at Tyler. He reached out, grabbed a handful of hair, and said, “Gwa.” She smiled, and looked at Scully curiously. “He’s got Ahab’s nose.”
Mulder said, quietly, “Your call.”
Scully sighed, pulled a small pad of paper out of her purse, and wrote their address on it. “If you have a few minutes, tonight it is safe. Another night, probably not,” she said to her mother.
“I just need to buy some rice milk for my daughter-in-law, but I can’t figure out which one to get,” Maggie said.
Scully reached down and picked up a tetra pak. “She got this one last time.”
Maggie laughed. “I’m sure you’ll tell me all about that one. I’ll see you over there in, oh, half an hour.”
They kept glancing at each other as they finished their shopping, picking up an organic rotisserie chicken, roast potato wedges and organic greens for the evening meal. Scully seemed nonplussed. When they got in the car, she said, “I wonder when she came out here?”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because I was thinking a few days ago how very much I wanted my mom.” She smiled.
“Well, I guess we know where he gets it,” Mulder said, amused.
For the first time in ages, there were no black sedans parked anywhere in their neighborhood. Scully carried Tyler in, and Mulder brought in the groceries.
“How much solid food can he have?” Scully asked.
“As much as he wants to eat,” said Mulder. “He’s not particularly picky, but I haven’t spent that many meals with him.”
She put him in the high chair, and was cutting part of a chicken breast into cubes when the knocker clacked against the front door. Mulder answered it, and said, “Come on in, Maggie.”
She walked in, and looked around, eyes resting on the toys, the high chair. She came over, and pulled up a chair. “So, Dana, tell me about him.”
Scully gave a half smile, and put the cubed chicken onto Tyler’s tray with a little soft fork. “Remember Emily?”
Maggie nodded. “How could I forget?”
“He was created, much as she was. But he’s not sick. And we’re working at getting him and his siblings to safety,” Scully said, putting a few slices of lettuce on the high chair tray.
“To safety... do you have to adopt? Or can you just keep him? I’m not sure I understand...”
Scully sighed. “When it is safe, and we don’t know when that will be, really, we will simply prove Mulder’s paternity and the rest will not be complicated. You should know, Mom, that we got married a few weeks ago.”
“For the children?” Maggie asked.
Mulder sat down. “No. We didn’t know how many, or if there even were any at the time. For us. For Dana.”
Maggie frowned. “I would have liked to have known.”
Scully laughed. “That’s exactly what Mulder’s mom said. We wanted... I wanted to tell you so much, but it wasn’t safe. We had a rare chance to get married in the church, in private. It’s not state-legal yet, but the archbishop in San Francisco considers it valid, which is enough for me. If we’d seen you in the store yesterday, I would have had to pretend I didn’t know you. Today, we’re not being followed. And we just got Tyler from foster care this afternoon.”
“You got married in the church?” Maggie said, “I didn’t think Fox was Catholic.”
“We got a dispensation from the archbishop. Mulder is actually baptized Episcopalian, oddly enough.” Scully said.
“Well, I’m glad it was in the church, even if I couldn’t be there,” Maggie said. Then she asked, “He said ‘Gwa’... is that a noise he makes a lot?”
“He doesn’t babble much,” Scully said. “He called me Mama the first time he saw me. And Mulder got a Da on the second date. I assume he was calling you Grandma. As to how he knows... You know our work, right?”
“He seems to be somewhat telepathic,” Mulder said. “He picks up on things, good will, bad feelings. A friend told us that he would rather talk in his head, but the rest of the world is too dumb to hear.”
“A friend...” Maggie said, almost asking.
“A friend who is an alien. And telepathic himself.” Scully looked at her hands, waiting for the disbelief.
“So Fox was right, after all?” Maggie said.
She sighed. “Yes, Mom. He was correct about aliens.”
Mulder smiled. “That’s it, my life is complete. I’ve reached perfect bliss. Scully not only believes, she admits that I am right.”
Maggie said, “The brown eyes...”
Scully pulled her glasses off and popped the contacts out. “We’ve needed to be disguised since I left you weeks ago. We may need to change our appearances again if we have to run from here to protect Tyler.”
Maggie frowned. “If you have to run... How will I find you?”
Mulder picked up the cell phone Gwynne had given him, and dialed. “Sally’s mom showed up. Have you got room for one more?”
He handed the phone to Maggie, who said hello and then listened for a long time, murmuring agreement, then finally saying, “I should go too.” She frowned, and then said, “I understand, thank you.”
She hung up. “I’ll need that number. How many siblings does this boy have?”
Scully said, “Two in utero. We’re working on a cure for the one who is due soon. The one who is not due soon, there will be a different treatment, but we have it.” *Don’t tell her about the ones that are lost.*
“In whose uterus?” Maggie asked.
They explained. She listened, and finally said, “Once you get to where you are going, your friend will help me meet you there. But she says it will be too dangerous for us to travel in a group.”
Scully smiled. “I’d love for you to join us when we get someplace we can stay for a while.”
Tyler banged his spoon on the tray, and Maggie said, “Give the boy some potatoes.”
She stayed for another half hour. Tara called, eventually, and when Maggie hung up after a brief, nonexplanatory conversation, she said, “So you confused Tara the other day. Can I share with her about Tyler?”
Scully looked alarmed. “Please, no, Mom. Tara is sweet, but she’ll tell Bill, and I really cannot have him getting involved right now. And you know he would. When this is over, yes. But not while everything is in such flux.”
Maggie sighed. “I’ll keep the secret. I wish you trusted your brother more, but I’ll respect your wishes.”
Scully stifled a thought, *I wish he was more trustworthy, or that he ever trusted me. But no, this is not something I will share with Bill now.* She just said, “Thank you, Mom. I appreciate that.”
Mulder gave Maggie a kiss on the cheek as she was leaving, and she gave Scully a huge hug. When the door closed, Scully closed her eyes and sighed. “It felt so wrong that she didn’t know. I’m glad she does.”
Tyler was starting to look sleepy, and Mulder mixed him a bottle. Scully watched him, and said, “You know, that’s really hot.”
He frowned and tested it on his wrist. “It’s lukewarm.”
She grinned, and said, “Not that, silly.”
Sitting on the couch together, Tyler stretched across their laps while he drank his bottle, sliding into sleep. When the bottle was falling out of his mouth, they went up and put him in the bed with one of the blankets he’d had at Tif’s house. Mulder turned on the baby monitor and they walked back downstairs.
She suddenly smiled. “You know, he’s up there, but there’s no surveillance... And you were hot, not the bottle.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Oh really?”
She laughed. “Man in kitchen? Nurturing baby? You have no idea.”
He smiled, and pulled her toward the couch.
She realized, as she kissed him, straddling his knees, that it had been far too long since they’d had the freedom to touch each other freely without worrying about someone watching. She pulled off her top, and he smiled, reaching around to unhook her bra.
Another kiss sent a rush out to her fingertips and into her center. She leaned in, lips soft on his neck, and tugged at the bottom of his shirt. They shifted, and that landed on her top on the floor.
It felt abruptly imperative to be connected. She stood up, flipped the button and hook on her pants open, and he pushed them down for her, planting a kiss on the front of her hip. She knelt, and flipped open his buckle.
He groaned, and helped her open his pants, lifting his hips to slid pants and boxers down. His cock bobbed free, and she smiled.
He was starting to reach to touch her, but she pushed his hands away and centered herself on him, then eased down, mouth locked on his, until she felt her thighs rest on his hips.
She stayed there, kissing him, joined, but not moving. His hands stroked up and down her back, around to her front, restless and almost tickling.
Then he stopped, leaned back, and looked at her. “Thank you,” he said.
She tipped her head, curious, and he said, “I... This... I never felt like I deserved it. I’m still not sure why...”
She gave an almost sobbing laugh that he felt down to his root, shook her head, and kissed him. Then she pulled back, and said, “You earned it. You deserve... you deserve every happiness. I think you’re owed. And I know I am...”
He ground up into her, leaned up, ran his tongue from her neck out along her collarbone to her shoulder, and then said, “Still. Thank you.”
Then they shifted, rolled, and he was over her, pushing and thrusting. She tossed her head back, groaned. Then she said softly, with a laugh, “By the way, you’re welcome.”
He smiled, and ran his hand down her side, cupping her ass and driving in harder, pushing her down into the cushions.
She pushed back, meeting his strokes, sliding her own hand down to touch him, then circling her own clit while he continued to thrust.
He shifted, put his knee down on the floor, dragging her over a little. Her foot landed on the coffee table, and he leaned up, still keeping his rhythm, watching her hand. He found his balance, and reached down to her breasts, murmuring, “Come on, baby...”
She felt the tingling spread from her fingers and his cock and his hands on her nipples.
He saw the flush move up her body, deepening, felt her start to pulse around him, and kept his tempo even until her head fell back, her mouth opened, and she cried out.
He leaned forward, and pushed in with abandon until everything tightened and the rhythm was gone, lost in a wave that left him gasping and spasming inside her. He chuckled as he rested briefly on her, glancing at the baby monitor, which was still quiet.
Then he scooted down until his head was resting on her stomach, her fingers playing in his hair, his hands lightly cupping her breasts. “Someday,” he said to her bellybutton, “We’re not going to have to be afraid all the time.”
She chuckled, which bounced his head a little, and said, “Right at this moment, I’m not afraid at all.”
Teen Mothers’ Home
Byers joined the rest of the Gunmen after work, and they interviewed each of the remaining workers at the home, compiling a list of those who had been working with the Calderons in the wider community, in the guise of needing more staff to fill in those who’d been lost. Two, it turned out, at SDCSS. Five at UCSD, including two Crawfords. Three more working shifts at Calderon’s lab. Several across the street. Most of those remaining were merely workers, some even thought it really was a home for teen mothers. Several were complicit in the larger conspiracy. All were cowed by Garrett Spender, even without his ubiquitous Morleys.
Skinner and Joe moved among the girls, talking to them, soothing them. Krycek went across the street to bring the other clones over quietly, and he put them in isolation. They decided to leave the rest in place for the moment, until they were ready to move the girls and end the charade.
11:00 p.m. The Condo
Mulder and Scully stood for a long time next to the crib, watching Tyler sleep in the dim light, before getting ready for bed themselves. A few minutes after they lay down, they heard a small voice say, “Da.”
Mulder climbed back out of bed and walked over to the crib. Tyler had pulled up to a stand. Mulder frowned. “Time for bed, kiddo.”
“Da. Beh.” Tyler said, matter-of-factly.
Scully said, from the bed, “Bring him over here.”
Mulder carried Tyler over and handed him to Scully, then walked around the bed to climb in on his side. Tyler crawled over Scully and wedged himself between them,and said, “Beh.”
Scully chuckled. “I don’t mind, if you don’t.”
Mulder rolled on his back, and Tyler flopped down on his chest. Scully rolled over and put her head on Mulder’s shoulder, nose to nose with the little boy. Then she said, “Okay, but you have to sleep.”
Tyler nodded and squeezed his eyes shut. She chuckled, and Mulder said, “That’s me, the pillow.”
She looked up at him, and then nodded against his shoulder. “Favorite pillow. Smart boy.”
He was surprised at how quickly the soft breathing lulled him to sleep.
Continue to Chapter 26