FREMONT COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
“I don’t know about you, Scully, but I don’t think the P.D.‘s free coffee was worth the price of the plane ticket,” Mulder cracks, stretching as he leaves the interrogation room.
Scully can’t help but smile at his familiar, cocky stride as she stands to greet her partner with a sympathetic ear. She’d suffered a particularly tedious interrogation herself, burnt coffee included.
By some miracle of miracles, the police got through to Skinner’s secretary, who reluctantly confirmed their identities. Scully could only imagine what the woman told them about “Spooky” Mulder and his former partner; whatever it was, the police remained suspicious, and it showed—they’d been at the station for hours, fielding inane questions. She had a feeling they were more concerned with how the body disappeared into thin air, and how the boy got away without a scratch.
Scully is bothered by this, too. She’s thought about little else as she waits for the police to let Mulder go. There’s no way the twelve-year-old could have overpowered a full-grown man, let alone melted him.
Last night’s dream nags at her consciousness, and she shudders in the hard plastic seat.
“Have they released Isaac yet?”
“No, I haven’t seen him…they were waiting for his—”
A door bursts open, revealing an intense-looking woman with light brown hair, a pale complexion, and rage in her dark blue eyes.
“—parents,” Scully finishes, momentarily stunned by the woman’s ferocity.
The woman’s shrill voice carries down the narrow hallway. “He’s my son, he’s done nothing wrong, and I won’t have you asking him any more questions!”
Thinking fast, Mulder steps up, blocking her exit. “Hi, Mrs…?”
The woman’s nostrils flare a warning, reminiscent of a bear protecting her cub. “Mrs. Van de Kamp. And you are?”
“Mulder, Fox Mulder. We witnessed your son’s abduction.” He doesn’t miss a beat, talking fast, not giving her a chance to argue. “Listen, Mrs. Van de Kamp, I don’t mean to alarm you, but your son could be in danger. I don’t think this was an isolated incident, it’s going to happen again. Do you have somewhere you can go? Somewhere safe you could take him?”
Scully watches as the woman’s eyes narrow at Mulder, sizing him up, taking in his rumpled appearance, the dark circles under his eyes.
“Mr. Mulder,” she spits, “I don’t know who you think you are, but unless my son is under arrest, you’re going to let us go.” Her words are icy, and she pushes past him without a backward glance. The boy’s eyes meet Scully’s for a fleeting moment, and if she didn’t know better, she’d think he was pleading with her. His mother blazes an angry path down the corridor and out the door with her clearly embarrassed son trailing behind.
The partners follow them down the hall to the desk at the front of the station. Mulder rubs at the back of his neck. “Can’t say we didn’t try.”
Scully shoots him a pained look. “You saw what happened back there. We can’t just leave him!” They make their way outside and into the chilly evening air.
“So we’ll call Skinner, ask him to put someone from the local branch on detail; the mom doesn’t have to know. Between the interrogation and…whatever that was,” he gestures to the boy’s mother, now storming across the parking lot, “I’d say our help isn’t welcome.”
“That’s never stopped you before.” She’s on fire tonight, her red hair catching the last rays of the setting sun.
“Yeah, well, things change. I’ve changed,” he shrugs, keeps walking, tucks his head low. “We have a life to get back to; you have work, I have my book…”
This stops Scully in her tracks, face flushed. “Mulder, I’m not going to go home and call it a day! He’s our son,” she hisses, “he needs our help.”
“He didn’t seem all that helpless to me. Between him and Mr. Black back there, the boy wasn’t the one that went the way of the wicked witch.” His tone is mild, but he can’t hide the edge of petulance in his voice. “And you don’t know he’s our son. For all we know, he’s just a kid who had a bad day.”
“Mulder…” Scully tries and fails to keep up with his long, determined strides before reaching out and grabbing his jacket at the elbow, forcing him to turn. “Why do you refuse to see it? It’s him! I know his face because it’s your face, Mulder. He’s both of us. I know my own child.”
Her blue eyes burn into his, momentarily startling him with their intensity, as beautiful as it is disarming. He studies her face, so familiar…and yet not. He hasn’t seen this kind of determination since they left the FBI, determination driven by fear; he knows it too well. For a moment he sees the fierce young agent who walked into his office and turned his life upside down, not the wizened woman who’s shared his bed for the last twelve years. It leaves him feeling unsettled and nostalgic.
It’s out of love for her that he stays, but his frustration lingers. He wonders how far she’ll be drawn in, and what heartbreak lies in the aftermath.
He opens his mouth, wishing he could find a way to say it, but what comes out is a resigned sigh. “OK. I don’t see it, but we’ll stay. At least until we’ve figured out why the kid’s in trouble.” He reaches out, takes her hand lightly in his own. “That work? We good?”
Scully looks troubled, but forces a tight nod. “Yeah…good.”
“Let’s do some research, get more information about this kid—family history, medical records, report cards…there must be something.”
She nods, swallowing hard, not trusting herself to speak. The tears threaten to come, and she can’t break down. Not now. Not yet.
“Mr. Molder? Mrs. Scully?” The young voice startles the agents, and they turn to find the boy, Isaac, approaching them. Once again, Scully is struck by his features, and up close she can see his eyes—a deep crystal blue, the same color as her own.
“I have to go before she notices I’m gone,” he speaks quickly, quietly, gesturing over his shoulder to his mother, leaning into her blue Toyota. “I tried to tell the cops, but they didn’t believe me. Can you meet me tomorrow? In the morning? There’s a place about a block from my school…a park.” He speaks to the ground, pretending to study his shoes, scuffing his toe on the blacktop.
Mulder and Scully exchange looks, but before they can respond, his mother calls to him from across the parking lot.
“Isaac! Come here right now!”
“I have to go, see you tomorrow,” the boy says, breathless (Ihavetogoseeyoutomorrow).
And with that, he’s gone again.
Mulder blinks, narrowing his eyes at the kid’s back. “Scully, you may be right about this kid. He has a taste for the clandestine.”
She ignores him, her eyes following the Toyota as it pulls out of the parking lot. “What was that about, do you think?”
“I dunno. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
Her lips press into a thin, worried line. “Mmm. Mulder…I don’t think he should be alone tonight. If the police don’t believe them…”
“What are you suggesting, Scully?”
“I’ll drop you at the hotel…you can do some research, see what you find. I’ll tail them.”
She hasn’t finished her sentence, and Mulder is already shaking his head. “No. You shouldn’t be alone out here. We’re not agents, you don’t carry a weapon—”
She cocks an eyebrow, all too familiar with his over-protective concern, finding it both endearing and annoying. “Mulder, how many times have you left me to pore over microfiche in a stuffy library in the middle of nowhere? I’ll do the fieldwork for a change. I’ll keep my cell on, promise to call if anything happens. And you,” she finishes, placing her hand lightly on his chest, smiling a wry smile, “can consult our good friend, Special Agent Google.”