Scully sits on the porch steps, watching the sun peek over the horizon. At first she hopes Mulder will amble out to join her, sit by her side, say something like, “What’s up, Doc?” She’s heard the same corny line too many times to count, but she wishes more than anything for this familiar pattern of intimacy, for a shoulder on which to rest her weary head.
But her partner doesn’t materialize, the house behind her remains silent, and she’s left alone with her thoughts.
As a doctor and scientist, she’s good at setting aside her emotions to get to the facts, keeping a logical distance between herself and the problem at hand. That’s proving impossible to do with this boy, or with her partner, for that matter. She’s floundering, unable to see beyond the despair and doubt that cloud her judgment, and the one person she would normally confide in is barely speaking with her.
His words come to her, rolling over in her mind, an ongoing torment with no resolution except the obvious.
We have to tell them soon.
She closes her eyes to the memory, feeling every emotion she’s denied, bottled, and locked away over the years hit her at once. So much time spent burying her past to have it unearthed in a single moment, the wound that never healed ripped open without so much as a tissue to stop the bleeding.
She returns from her spot on the steps to find Gwenyth Van de Kamp sipping coffee in the dim morning light of the kitchen. She’s been replaying the impending conversation in her head for several hours, but in truth, she has no idea where or how to begin, or how the woman will react. A deep breath does little to slow the frantic beating of her heart.
“Mrs. Van de Kamp? Can we talk?”
The woman looks up, surprised, crossing her arms. “I hope you and Mr. Mulder have a plan,” she sniffs. “How much longer do we have to stay here? When can we go home?”
“We’re still working on that.” Scully takes a seat at the table. “Look…I feel like we got off to a rough start, and I wanted to apologize. If I were in your position, I’d be suspicious, too.”
She gives a brusque nod. “I only want what’s best for my son.”
“I know. You’re a good mother,” Scully says, surprising herself when she realizes the sentiment is genuine. Mrs. Van de Kamp is a woman hardened by her past, but it’s clear she loves Isaac.
“You’ve had good reason to be skeptical. We haven’t been completely honest with you.”
The woman’s eyes widen, nostrils flaring, incensed. “I knew it! I knew you weren’t telling us everything—”
“Mrs. Van de Kamp—has Isaac been ill?”
The frank interruption throws her, shocked curiosity winning over indignation. “How…how did you know that?”
“Isaac has a record at the FBI…we read that he had a heart condition?”
“Yes…but they said it’s better now, it healed on its own a few months back.”
“While he was being treated, did you notice anything unusual? Suspicious?”
The woman shakes her head in confusion. “What do you mean? His doctors took excellent care of him…said they’d never seen anyone respond so well to the treatments—”
“Who was his doctor?”
“Dr. Baray…he’s a specialist, renowned in his field,” she says, once again baring her defensive edge. “He took good care of my son. What does this have to do with these attacks? What aren’t you telling me?”
“We’re looking for patterns in Isaac’s history, in hopes it will lead us to the people responsible.” She pauses. There’s no easy way to say what comes next, no way to paint a forgiving picture.
“Mrs. Van de Kamp…you know Isaac is special. We think the doctors were…testing him. Studying his abilities…telling you it was a problem with his heart, so they could continue their tests without resistance.”
The boy’s mother narrows her eyes, shaking her head. “No. No, that’s not possible. I don’t believe it. He was a sick boy…his doctor said—”
“We also know Isaac isn’t your biological son. The records indicated he was adopted shortly after he was born.”
The woman’s lips fall open in a soft gasp. She lowers her voice to a rough whisper. “Does he…did you say anything to Isaac?”
“No,” Scully continues, “based on what he’s said to us, I don’t think he knows he was adopted. I don’t think you’ve told him.” She raises an eyebrow, questioning, hoping to impart a calm she doesn’t feel.
“And he shouldn’t know,” the woman retorts, mollified. “He was so young when he came to us, my husband and I agreed to raise him as though he weren’t…you know. He was our son, and we loved him. His history…wasn’t important.”
“It may be more important than you think,” Scully murmurs. “Mrs. Van de Kamp, what did the adoption agency tell you about him?”
“He…nothing. He had a different name then. They just said his mother couldn’t take care of him. I assumed she was an addict…maybe she was too young,” she sighs, looking down at her coffee cup, absently running her fingers along the curve of the porcelain handle. “We’d been trying for a baby for years, but God didn’t see fit to bless us. Until Isaac. He was a miracle.”
Scully’s eyes well with unexpected tears. She’d spoken the same words about the same child so long ago.
He was supposed to be my miracle.
“I… I gave a baby up for adoption in 2002. Eleven years ago. His name was William.”
As the reality of what she’s said slowly dawns on Mrs. Van de Kamp’s face, Scully’s voice grows thick as she tries to collect herself, to speak the difficult truth. “I didn’t want to overwhelm you, given the circumstances. I should have said something before, but…we believe Isaac is my biological son.”
The woman’s turns slowly from side to side. “That’s not…how? How can you be sure?”
“His adoption records reference a case file that belonged to my son.” She takes a deep breath. “But I knew. Even before we made the connection on paper, I knew it was him.”
Mrs. Van de Kamp’s face has gone ashen, her voice thready. “Are you…are you going to take him? Is that what this is about? You…want to take him away?”
“No, that’s not why we came to you,” Scully assures her. “I received a tip, a note, it said Isaac was in trouble. I…I had to know he was OK.” She talks to a point on the surface of the cracked Formica table, unable to meet the other woman’s stricken face.
Mrs. Van de Kamp doesn’t speak for several moments. “Why?” she asks, finally.
Scully arches a perfect brow, puzzled. “Why…?”
“Why did you give him up?”
She’d expected anger, denial, or perhaps cold silence, but in the absence of a reaction, there is only this simple, softly-spoken question. It’s a fair one, though it catches Scully off guard. She clears her throat.
“We…my job at the Bureau was…dangerous. And there came a point when I realized William…Isaac,” she corrects, “would be safer if he lived with another family. We arranged a protective adoption through the FBI.”
Mrs. Van de Kamp considers this with sad eyes. “I always thought we got lucky, somehow. The social worker told us it would take six to eight months, minimum…but…we put in our application…and Isaac came to us two weeks later.”
Scully nods mutely; she doesn’t trust herself to speak, and is surprised when Gwenyth breaks the silence instead.
“I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been,” the woman whispers in an unusual gesture of sympathy. “He was less than a year when he came to us. Just a baby.”
Scully wipes at her eyes. “Yeah,” is all she can manage for the moment, the heaviness in her chest threatens to crush her. She fights it, taking a deep, shaky breath. “I’m telling you this because I think it’s necessary for Isaac to hear it from you. He knows more than most kids his age. We…I don’t want him to find out the hard way that his origins are not what they seem. That kind of news…it should come from someone he trusts.”
The woman is distant now, withdrawn and thoughtful. The confession seems to have dissipated what hostility existed between them, but has left Scully drained. She wants nothing more than to be at home, in her own bed, with a hot cup of tea. That life seems incredibly far away.
“Dana. It’s Dana,” Scully replies.
“Dana,” Mrs. Van de Kamp continues, tentative. “I want to say…thank you.”
Scully considers this, unsure whether she means the fact that she opened up, or the fact that she gave up her child. She decides it doesn’t matter. “I can’t tell you how to raise your son,” she says, the words falling off her tongue like cold stones, “but I think you should tell him. Soon.”
She rises and leaves, finding she doesn’t have the strength to walk up the twelve steps to her room. She sags against the wall and sinks to her knees, head in her hands, overcome.