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  • Title: The Ender Series I: Halting Ground
    Author: Max
    Written: April 2001
    Classification: T-Adventure
    Rating: PG (some language)
    Spoilers: Minor Three of a Kind
    Archive: Go ahead, just tell me first Feedback: Liked it? Tell me and I'll continue the series, hated it, tell me and stop this madness!!
    Disclaimer: Chris Carter and his brilliant team of writers are the brains behind the X-files, Mulder and Scully and of course the Lone Gunmen. You think if I thought of them I'd be writing this right now... ok maybe I would, but at least I'd have a faster computer... oh and maybe one of those dictation programs that actually works, and at least a Pentium three and... oops sorry. Anyway they're not mine; there his and I'll just have to cope with that. Ender and Darci, however, ARE mine and are available for parties, bas mitzvahs and weddings. .

    Summary: The Lone Gunmen are reunited with a young hacker they cared for 8 years before.

    Author's Notes: Thanks to my favorite Arch Nemesis, Star Tracer, without whose constant bitching I might have spent some of the time this took me studying and deserves a lot of credit for helping me with the dialogue and other areas where I got stuck.


    Part I .

    Undisclosed location; London, England
    Saturday 6.03.99 5:37 A.M.

    The poorly lit closet size room was hardly inviting. I had slept in worse places though... at least I had four walls here; I rarely get a good four walls. No windows though, all the better I suppose, windows are dangerous, and its always raining here. London's a good hacker town, the weathers never nice enough to make anyone want to leave the flat.

    I stumbled to the pile of disheveled sheets and pillows on the floor in the corner that had served as my bed for the past few weeks and fell on to them, offering to sell my soul or my laptop for a good two hours to no one in particular. Full time hacking is as far from glamorous as a human being could possibly get. I was on the verge of sleep when my computer sounded signifying I had a message. I rolled across the room (a short trip) to the computer, also on the floor and punched a few keys calling up the message. As my eyes wearily traced the subject and sender ice shot through my veins. I sat up and pulled the laptop onto my crossed legs in one smooth motion, sleep no longer and issue for my overworked mind and body.

    Subj: Ender sightings?
    Date: 6/03/99 12:29:42 AM Eastern Daylight Time
    From: kungfoo@ techie.com
    It's been awhile since we've sent out an APB on Ender. We know it's a little different with Ender, so no one wants to turn on her but we really miss her and fear for her safety. She's not old enough to be out on her own. Please if you've seen or heard from her... or if she's sharing your pad, contact us. If not, keep an eye out for her, we know she's out there somewhere and we also know she can't keep away from a computer. Scour Radio Shacks. Don't reply to this address; send information through the normal channels. For Security Purposes We Can Not Sign Our Real Names

    "Fuck, what the hell do they think they're doing?!" Part of me was enraged; they were purposely making life hard for me. They knew the second the bleeding heart hackers read this they were going to start looking again. Its all because of the stupid romantic bed time story of my life that hackers tell their little hacker children before they go to sleep. But somewhere in an unvisited part of me, there was the warm feeling that might be described as happiness that someone cared. It passed quickly.

    I sprung into action, all the skill that was hammered into my head since the day I was born pouring out through my fingertips. First I hooked up some forwarding software; send any one trying to trace my signal chasing after their own tail. The only way for me to undo this damage was to get into the gunmen's system catch the incoming messages, if that failed... I'd have to down their system, pretty primitive but the cleanest way possible. Of course in the very likely chance that the boys were on their system waiting for responses I'm going to be screwed.

    A good part of what I know I learned from Langly, taught me everything he knew. Getting into his system wasn't going to be too big of a feat as long as he wasn't around to stop me. I had just about cracked his security when it all went to hell.


    Lone Gunmen Headquarters 12:45 AM .

    "Get the hell in here!" Langly's yell sent his two colleagues barreling into the room.

    "Product already?" Byers commented fastening the tie on his robe, he knew Langly planed to send a message out to the most prominent hackers in the world, in hopes of finding Ender.

    "No better, someone's trying to get into our system."

    "How's that better?" Frohike responded, eager to dismiss what was clearly nothing and get back to bed, there was no way they had results already.

    Before Langly, who had been typing furiously on the computer since before they arrived, could respond Byers' eyes widened. "Ender" he practically whispered.

    A light went on in Frohike's head as he realized what was going on.

    "Shit," Langly muttered hammering away at the computer violently. "I can't keep her out."

    "Ha, Langly's getting old, can't keep a little girl out of your system?" Frohike quipped retaliating for the slew of insults Langly would have said if Byers hadn't clarified what was going on.

    "I'd like to see you do better, she's learned all we know and then some, I can't keep her out and pull a trace alone."

    "What can we do?" Byers said with more than a hint of urgency.

    "You get on the other computer and try to pull a regular trace, she's got forwarding programming hooked up for sure, but if all else fails I might be able to stall her long enough for you to get the trace down to at least a country." Byers moved swiftly to a computer behind Langly.

    All joking drained from the room Langly turned his head to Frohike.

    "Fro, if we're lucky she's using my design or a variation of it, set up over there and try to crack it you know the design well enough."


    Langly caught on right away, I could tell it was him by his methods of defense. Frohike would be next trying to crack Lang's design on the forwarding software; at least I fixed enough of the holes to stall them for a few more minutes. I was really caught off guard when I got signal that someone was trying to pull a normal trace. For a second I wondered what was going on, why would they bother? But after I continued battling with Langly, I realized that he wasn't trying to keep me out so much as trying to keep me on-line.

    I should have pulled right away, but I knew if I didn't get what I'd come for I'd be just as bad off. I decided to keep an eye on the trace and try to get in.


    "She's in Europe," Byers declared triumphantly.

    "Great keep that up, I'll be able to stall her for 5 minutes more tops," Langly said, almost out of breath from the activity.

    Frohike poked his head around the corner of the computer, "I got bupkis over here, she made some modifications on your design, I still might be able to crack it."

    "England!" Byers exclaimed.

    "Shit, she's almost in, I can't stall her much longer." Langly was slightly thrilled by the good battle and very proud that he had taught this child who was about to hack, what was, in his opinion the best security sys in the world.


    "Shit!" They got the country, I'm screwed, there's no going back, gotta hold out longer try and pull the message, as it is I have to ditch this pad anyway. Just can't let them get the city.


    "I found a hole." It was Frohike's chance to be successful.

    "Hurry up she's going to crack the security in about 30 seconds"

    "I only need twenty... almost... almost... Fuck!" The action in the room stopped short.

    "She pulled." Langly smiled shaking his head. He was upset they hadn't found her, but he would have been a bit disappointed if they "won".

    Byers tried to save the situation "We got the country, and she's definitely going to be on the move, all we have to do is watch the airports for someone matching her description and..." A look from Frohike silenced him, what he was talking about was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Langly pushed away from his desk, and turned his back on the computer. The slight chirp signaling a new message caused Langly to whip around to his screen. What Langly saw in front of him sent him into a fit of laughter. It was an e-mail with one single solitary line of text, "Three on one, no fair."


    I threw the few important things I owned into my satchel. "Only the gunmen," I muttered. I've been hacker pad hopping since I was five, but no one ever took as much interest as they did at my first pad, with the gunmen. Apparently, the saga goes (I can't even remember), that my father, fleeing from the government sent me away to spend time with the editors of the newsletter he got.

    I spent two years with the boys, I learned hacking, surveillance and intense paranoia. One night I was hacking the CIA's database to check up on my father's file, and found it missing. In its place was one on me. It said that I was "to be retrieved unharmed" as I now presented a security risk that "was minor prior to my maturation." For christ sake I was seven! How mature could I have been? As if that were not unnerving enough, "any person or persons housing this child are to be terminated immediately and plausible denial is to be established."

    That night I cut my hair, dyed it blonde, packed my things and slipped out the door. It's been 7 years now since I last saw Langly, Frohike and Byers. When I go down I'm going to be taking a lot of fucking people with me, just not them.

    I suppose now that I'm talking about background, I should explain my name, or at least what I've come to be known. I was "baptized" Ender by the guys at my dad's company when I was really little. I thought it was some kind of cruel joke, when I first figured out where it came from. But now, looking back, I deserved to be called Ender, and still do.

    It stuck with me because when my father and I were moving around so much, it helped to have a name that wasn't on record anywhere for him to call me. It's a high praise and a grave warning in the same breath. The name originates from a science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card. In short, Ender was a boy who had great skill, unparalleled by any adult, but in the hands of the wrong men he unknowingly killed an entire species. It's not the greatest thing to think about every time someone calls your name.

    I finished packing and threw the bag over my shoulder, throwing a fleeting glance on what I was forced to leave behind. I'd be bringing only the clothes on my back, my laptop, a few disks of information and a key to a bus locker where I'd find a passport and some money, just the bare necessities. I wished I had more time to destroy the remaining items but it was a security sacrifice I was forced to make, not only hadn't I got the e-mail, I let them trace me to England, I needed to get the hell off the continent and lay low for awhile.

    I walked out of my room to face four of my flat mates hovering around the glow of a computer screen. They looked at me questioningly, I lowered my head to avoid eye contact and head straight for the door. I was a few steps down the main hall before a voice called out "Ender" behind me, I didn't turn around. His attempt to call me back did exactly the opposite, he reminded me, if I didn't run, I'd be in the hands of the wrong people.


    Part II .

    Flushing, New York
    6.17.99 10:47 A.M. .

    Agent Mulder pulled up in front of the bookstore and glanced at his partner tentatively. Scully had been less than eager to join him on this trip. Since Vegas she didn't feel she owe the Gunmen any favors. To make matters worse, they had to drive all the way to New York, they couldn't afford to have this trip show up on a bureau bill.

    "This is the place."

    Scully sighed, six hours in the car had not made her any more excited about going to pick up a fourteen year old. And besides, Mulder hadn't even explained to her exactly WHAT they were doing here. He'd just dragged her out of her warm bed and into the car "I still don't see why we're coming all this way, she couldn't just make it home on her own?"

    "She's not going to be ..." he paused knowing this would aggravate her, "cooperative."

    "What?"

    "She doesn't want to go back."

    Scully smirked "Now that I can understand."

    "C'mon Scully, give them a break. They're not all that bad once you get to know them. Except Frohike, and Langly's kinda creepy...and Byers..."

    Mulder got out of the car having successfully cheered his partner up at least long enough for them to find the child. He walked into the bookstore and surveyed the place; it was pretty empty for a Saturday afternoon. He knew exactly where to find Ender. He turned to Scully as she followed him inside, "You better stay here and watch the door."

    She looked at him confused "She's fourteen, I think you can handle things."

    "Whatever, just... stay here."

    He left her flipping through some magazines, and made a beeline for the science fiction. He saw her from several dozen yards away; she was sitting on the floor cross-legged in front of a shelf, her head buried in a book. He continued to walk up to her, taking every precaution not to be noticed.

    As he walked toward her, he remembered the first time he'd met her at the gunmen's. He'd gone over there to pick up some information he'd asked the Gunmen to "acquire" for him. When he got to the door he was greeted as usual by Frohike, who immediately went back to his computer after letting him in. Langly came out of the kitchen with a pop tart hanging from his mouth and walked over to Mulder.

    She came bounding in after him in pajamas with care bears on them. She walked over to Frohike's desk without acknowledging him.

    Frohike laughed at the site of her "heeheh, Byers' still dressing you, huh?"

    "Yeah, it makes no sense to me, I'm going to bed, whose going to see me to care?" She replied standing up on a box to reach something on the desk. Mulder' mouth dropped open, what was a kid doing in the Lone Gunmen's office? This couldn't be healthy. She got what she was reaching for and came over to join Langly. As she approached he saw that she was holding a computer disk and the file he had dropped off with the Lone Gunmen the night before.

    Langly looked at her expectantly and cleared his throat.

    "You're Agent Mulder right?" she asked the increasingly astounded Agent.

    "Yeah."

    She stood there looking at him, waiting for something.

    "ID" Langly mouthed to him behind her.

    "ID? How cute." Mulder made to reach out and ruffle the girl's hair but something in her green eyes told him that he would lose an appendage if he tried that.

    He pulled out his identification and crouched to show it to the child, wondering what the hell was going on, but deciding to ride out this situation.

    She smiled and presented him with the file and the disk.

    "Here is the information you requested."

    "You...?" He stumbled.

    "Yep, government hacks a snap" She boasted.

    Mulder was in awe, in front of him was a six-year-old holding out a file telling him in a voice that should have been saying "I drew you a picture" that she hacked into the DoD and got some highly classified information.

    "You..." He stammered "but you're..."

    "Langly's got the dumb idea that I should be doing the public relations."

    Mulder looked around at the gunmen. Their faces were serious; this wasn't some early April fools joke.

    Langly became defensive "No one's going to remember what a six year old looks like!"

    "The fact that a six-year-old is giving them this kind of stuff is enough to make them remember!!" She replied "You should be doing it, people actively try to forget your face" she laughed. Frohike chuckled in the back of the office.

    Mulder looked from Langly to Ender and back to Langly again, mouth open, astonished. Ender looked up at him.

    "You should close your mouth. I can see your uvula."

    Langly decided to give up the direct fight "We give Ender the easy stuff, she's still learning you see" he told Mulder.

    "Easy, that's not what you said yesterday you were cursing at the computer, practically begged me to help you, said it was too hard."

    "Nothing's hard when your fingers are long enough to reach all the keys."

    "Please, you get finger cramps writing e-mail."

    "Ender" Langly groaned threateningly.

    " What are you going to do, give me a paper cut with your arm?" She looked at Mulder "Ever notice that we never have any open windows?" Mulder nodded.

    "It's not cause they're paranoid, if they left them open Langly'd blow away."

    That was it Langly lunged at her. She ducked out of the way just in time to elude his grasp and scrambled under a table. Langly was still chasing after her.

    "Frohike, you're just going to sit there?! Do something Langly's finally lost it!" Ender shouted, laughter in her voice. "Sorry kiddo, you insulted the man's Kung foo, should have been prepared for a fight."

    Mulder stood amid the chaos, his mouth still open.

    She continued crawling under the long chain of tables in the office. She reached the end of the table and made a left when she should have made a right, crashing right into her pursuer's legs. He grabbed her and she began to laugh openly now.

    "Say it!" Langly shouted over her laughter.

    "Never" she gasped between fits of laughter.

    At that moment, Byers' walked in to fill his role and break up the fight.

    "Say it!" Langly continued despite Byers' presence.

    "Langly!" Byers called.

    Langly turned around Ender still in his grip.

    "Put her down."

    Langly put the child to the floor and she scrambled over to Byers.

    He picked her up and continued to chide Langly "what's wrong with you? Trying to get a six-year-old to lie!" A wicked smile developed on his face "When Ender knows very well whose kung foo is the best."

    "Gee By, I always just thought that mine..."

    "Wow Ender, you're really growing, can't hold you anymore, why don't I just set you down, so you and Langly can play and I'll go to my room to lie down and listen to the news VERY loud" He started to lower her.

    "OK, OK!!!, your Kung Foo's the best!" She twisted in Byers' arms toward Langly and Frohike "Byers' Kung Foo's the best!!"

    "I'm glad you feel that way" Byers said picking her up again "because its time for you to go to bed anyway, say good night to everyone."

    "Night Langs, see you tomorrow 'hike."

    Frohike turned in his chair, "Night Ender, Byers, you really got to stop with those pajamas, just cause you're parents dressed you like that doesn't mean you should do it to her, she might turn into you and nobody wants that."

    Byers sneered.

    Ender twisted to where Agent Mulder was standing, "Nice to meet you Agent Mulder, you give me a call if you ever catch any flies in that mouth of yours."

    Byers and Ender disappeared down the hall.

    As Mulder approached her now she looked up at him and he saw the same face that had looked up at him some eight years ago, except now she looked terrified.

    "Any recommendations?" he commented nodding toward the books.

    "Naw, science fiction depresses me," she answered, trying to calm herself.

    Mulder glanced at her clothing; she was wearing jeans and an old t-shirt "No matter how hard Byers tried he couldn't stop you from dressing like Langly."

    The mention of them made her significantly more nervous.

    "Ender, why don't you just come with me? They're worried about you."

    Ender stood up slowly, watching him warily.

    "Worried, neh?" Ender was eying the distance between her and the door and wondering if she could get away before Mulder grabbed her. For a career nerd, she did have a far share of self defense under her belt, courtesy of three months in Japan, and two in Korea.She sized up Mulder and wiped the thought from her mind, even if she had the heart to place a back kick to Mulder's gut, it would probably have little effect, he could definitely kick her ass, there was always the old kidnapping scream...she just hopped she remembered how to do it.

    "Don't think about it Ender." Mulder nodded towards the magazine rack. "See that redhead over there? She'll catch you even if I don't. Now just come with me..."

    "Everything will be okay. I promise, just..."

    That was it, Ender turned and bolted down the isle. Mulder gave chase. He pummeled through the store right on her heels. She hung a sharp left and Mulder ran straight into a cart of books. He tripped several times trying to regain his balance.

    The loud bang and Mulder's yelp caught Scully's attention. Ender was heading straight for her and noticed Scully when it was too late. Scully grabbed the teenager's arm, and quickly realized she underestimated the situation. Ender's eyes were full of desperation; she elbowed Scully in the gut and pulled on her arm away.

    Ender turned to see Mulder limping speedily toward her. Scully was on the other side of her, quickly regaining her breath. She looked forward and saw the bathroom and bolted in hoping for a window, or a vent or anything.

    Ender got inside, and turned around twice, "SHIT!" no exit. The door slammed open and Scully entered, panting. Ender slowly backed up to the wall.

    "Ender, just come on now..."

    "No! No, you don't understand!'"

    "Ender nobody's going to hurt you, trust me."

    "That's not it, them... if I go back, they're dead men."

    Ender glanced around frantically. She couldn't let Scully grab her. She couldn't do that to the gunmen. Ender squeezed her eyes shut and, silently apologizing to Scully, balled up her fist and struck hard on Scully's left cheek. Scully cried out and staggered back allowing ender to dash for the door...straight into Mulder's arms.

    Scully stumbled out of the bathroom, clutching her cheek. "They owe me big for this one."

    Ender fought Mulder violently. He slowly began dragging her toward the exit, picking her up; he tossed her over his shoulder in a fireman's hold, she started to scream and beat on his back. People started to stare. Ender noticed she had their attention, it was perfect.

    "Help!!!!! This man's not my father!!!!!!"

    "Help, he's kidnapping me!!!!"

    Mulder groaned, annoyed and reached into his pocket with his free hand, wincing with each strike of Ender's fists.

    "FBI" He shouted in a loud, authoritative voice.

    "IT'S A FAKE!!!" She yelled.

    Scully took over "I'm agent Scully with the federal bureau of investigation, this child is being apprehended, and I assure you this is not a kidnapping."

    The customers were relieved and returned to their business as Mulder carried the still screaming child, pounding his back out of the store.

    "Keep hitting me Ender and you'll spend the ride to D.C. handcuffed in the trunk" Mulder snipped.

    She didn't listen and continued kicking and punching now nearly hysterical. "HELP!!! SOMEONE!! HELP ME!! They're lying!! They're going to hurt me!! Please!!'.

    A couple of customers decided to play the hero and jumped at Scully. She pulled her gun and they backed off, after one more flip of the badge and a casual threat about making arrests they were convinced.

    "It's a fake!!" Ender still pleaded as Mulder carried her out of the store.

    Agent Scully held the back door of the car open for her partner who was slowed down a bit by the weight and poundings of the girl. He bent over and tried to get her into the car, she was using every effort that should could to avoid being put into the back seat. Mulder finally managed to get her in and sat her in the middle, buckling the seat belt around her waist.

    "If I hear that seat belt unclick, I'll make you sit up in the front" Mulder threatened.

    He flipped the child safety lock on both of the doors in the back of the car to make sure that she couldn't open them and walked around to the driver's side.

    Scully had already gotten into the car, her left cheek was discolored, it was going to make a bad bruise. He would be hearing it from Scully all the way back to D.C. He pulled out of the parking lot.

    "You ok?" he asked Scully after carefully calculating what to say and not anger her.

    "Yeah, I'm fine" she answered, opening and closing her jaw, obviously quite ticked off.

    He looked up into the rearview mirror and saw Ender, her eyes shooting around quickly then resting as she lowered her head toward the floor. He could tell she already had a plan; it was going to be a long ride. He took a deep breath...


    Here it comes, the first lecture of many, I know it. The best thing to do was to keep my head lowered to the ground. I peered up and caught Mulder's disapproving eyes in the mirror. Shit, eye contact, I'm screwed.

    "What the hell was all that?" he demanded from the front seat.

    Oh great an interactive lecture, yippee.

    "Well?!"

    I looked up at him making no effort to hide the fact that I had no intention of answering him. "You realize how much crap you probably got us into?!"

    Why's he still asking questions?.

    "You know one of those people is going to call the bureau and tell them that Agents Mulder and Scully dragged a kicking screaming 14 yr old out of a bookstore! There was no reason to act like that."

    He stared expectantly into the rearview mirror, he sincerely wanted a response.

    "Why are you doing this?" I mumbled, geez I really was nervous. He paused, for a second; I couldn't tell whether he really didn't know how to answer that.

    It started to rain.

    He started to answer, anger in his voice "The Gunmen..."

    "I thought you were their friend." My voice was still trembling.

    "What? I am, why the hell do you think I came..."

    "Why do you want them hurt then?" I was taking control of the conversation, had him on the defensive.


    Mulder pulled the car to a screeching stop, and turned around in his seat, it was time he killed this feeling of Ender's, if she kept thinking that running off was the noble thing to do bringing her back to the Gunmen wouldn't help much.

    "No one could have hurt them more than you did."

    She opened her mouth, trying to form words, but he didn't let her, that one had hurt.

    "Imagine waking up one morning to find the 7 yr old you'd been watching for almost two years ran off in the night, didn't leave a note or an explanation, nothing. They didn't even know why you'd gone until 3 months later. They thought the government had kidnapped you. They didn't know you went on your own free will, without even consulting them. And when they found out there was nothing I could tell them to convince them that it wasn't their fault."

    "I... its... if I go back there they'll be in danger, it's not safe" she said sheepishly.

    "Its time you let other people make decisions about their lives, your not old enough to be handling even your own life by yourself."

    She shook her head but didn't say anything. She was really convinced that the second she entered the gunmen's door they'd all be killed.

    Scully turned now and saw that Mulder wasn't getting anywhere, "The gunmen can take care of themselves, you shouldn't worry about them" she added.

    Mulder turned back around in his seat and started the engine; "You should be worried for yourself when Frohike finds out you marred Scully's face" he chuckled.


    12:39 P.M. For near to three hours the car rolled on with little conversation between the occupants. It was pretty clear that Ender still thought she would onset the apocalypse if she crossed the threshold of the Gunmen's door, but at least she was being cooperative. Mulder had concluded that the hardest part of his job was done.

    He felt so confident that he left Scully in the car with Ender to go pick up some food for them.

    Ender watched Mulder leave the car and go into the restaurant. She waited a few seconds longer.

    Agent Scully turned to the back seat to see what Ender was up to. "Um... Scully, you think it might be possible for me to go to the bathroom, real quick?"

    "Should have though of that before you went nuts back in the bookstore, huh? You can just hold it for a little longer. Well be back in, oh, say, 3, 4 hours and I'm sure well see some lovely scenery on the way... you know, lakes, rivers, waterfalls...." "Oh yeah, that's real mature."

    "No worse than pitching a fit worthy of a four-year-old in a public place."

    "Fine, your right, I'm sorry I decked you, I was really nervous. But all that aside, I really need to use the bathroom."

    Scully turned back around without saying anything. A few minutes passed.

    " You know it's not going to do the anyone any good if my bladder explodes."

    'Yeah...you're right...well lose our deposit... but its Mulder's money and he's the one who dragged me out of bed at 4am on a Saturday to get hit in the face by a 14 yr old..."

    More time passed.

    Ender began to tap her foot on the floor, "Please?"

    Scully turned back around and saw Ender was being sincere. At least now she knew what the child was capable of, she'd be able to handle her.

    "Fine, but if you act up I'm letting Mulder lock you in the trunk for the rest of the way."

    Scully got out of the car and walked over to the back seat, opening the door for Ender. The second Ender stood up Scully placed her hand on her shoulder. She guided her into the diner and to the door of the bathroom way in the back.

    Scully opened the door and walked in first to check for exits. The second she was entirely inside Ender jerked back out to the room, shoving he door closed with all her strength.

    "Let me out of here!!" Scully pounded on the door "RIGHT NOW! ENDER LET ME OUT!!!!"

    Ender looked around frantically for something to brace the door with.

    "YOU ARE RIDING IN THE TRUNK ON THE WAY HOME!!!!!!"

    She grabbed a nearby chair, the whole time bracing her foot against the jam of the door, keeping it closed. She forced the chair under the doorknob. She ran out of the back door to avoid Mulder, leaving Scully pounding on the bathroom door screaming to be let out.

    Ender sped through the parking lot looking for someone. She stopped in the first car she came to and banged on the window, the man inside lowered it.

    "Listen you have to help me. I was in a bookstore this morning and these two people pretending to be FBI grabbed me and forced me into their car. You have to take me home, please, they're right behind me" She pleaded in her most helpless voice. The man inside shoved the door open and Ender hoped in. Not thinking that anything was odd until they'd pulled out of the parking lot and she got a closer look at the man.

    She may as well have been staring into the face of death. "Hello Ender, been looking for you for quite sometime. It's a good thing you ditched agents Mulder and Scully, made my job a lot easier."

    Ender pulled frantically at the door, no dice.


    Agent Scully had kicked the door down and ran out just in time to see Ender get into a black car. She recognized the government plates, how could Ender be so blind. She ran back inside and grabbed Mulder, making him drop the food he was carrying.

    "Ender got away."

    "What, how?!"

    "Never mind that, it gets worse" She explained as they ran toward d the car "she got into a government car, I don't think she realized what she was doing, someone must have been following us'.

    "Shit!" Mulder exclaimed as he peeled out of the parking lot.


    "Where have you been for all this time? You really hid out well, didn't you?"

    Ender sat silently, terrified.

    "Remind me to thank those buddies of yours for drawing you out into the open, probably never would have found you otherwise, it's a shame I have to have them killed.


    Mulder and Scully caught up with the black car. When it came into their vision, Mulder sped up significantly.

    "What are you doing?!"

    "I'm going to run him off the road" Mulder said determined.

    'What? You're going to kill them both!"

    "No I won't."

    "Mulder this is a rental" Scully pleaded but it was too late.


    Ender felt a huge crash and the car that she was in went veering off the road into a tree and then blackness.


    7:42PM She woke up in the back seat of the car, head pounding. She tried to push herself up but she realized her hands were bound behind her back. Mulder and Scully had clearly had enough; they didn't even trust her when she was unconscious.

    She opened her mouth so speak but could only manage a groan. She cleared her throat "Mulder?" She spoke feeling rusty " What happened?"

    "You did something incredibly stupid, for about the third time today."

    "You got into a government car" Scully answered in a detached doctors voice "and Agent Mulder had to run you off the road. You had a pretty serious head injury, but your lucky to get out alive."

    "And you still felt the need to handcuff me?"

    "Scully wanted to put you in the trunk" Mulder replied in a voice that suggested he had been seriously considering it himself.

    "Where" Ender started.

    "About twenty more minutes, just stay there, don't move, don't talk, don't even think, alright?" Scully interrupted.

    "Fine" Ender lowered her self back onto the seat.

    "What happened to that bloke?" She commented slowly remember the details of what had happened.

    "What?"

    "That bl... guy, in the car, the one you ran off the road, what happened to him?"

    "He got away," Mulder answered.

    "What?! How'd he get away? That's great the two of you can't stop a injured man?"

    "We were too busy pulling you out of the wreckage, he was thrown from the car, he didn't look like he was going to be going anywhere. Besides if we arrested him we'd have to explain what we were doing there in the first place."

    "My god you are the most reckless people I've ever met! Are you trying to get the Gunmen killed?"

    "What are you talking about?" Scully, who had previously been paying very little attention to the conversation asked.

    "He told me he was going to kill them and you let him get away!"

    "Ender, I thought I told you to stop with that, enough already, ok?" Mulder turned off the expressway, the familiar scenery turner Ender's heart cold, she never thought she'd be back here.

    "You still don't believe me!!! That guy followed us, he knew about the gunmen's e-mail and he said he was going to kill them and you still don't believe me!"

    "It's not that I don't believe you, you're overreacting. Everything is going to be alright, I'll check up on that guy for you ok?' He made a right onto the street Ender had walked down so many times.

    "No, no, they're all going to die, you ca... I can't go back, stop the car, let me out!!"

    Ender's breathing began to speed up.

    "Calm down" Scully turned around to face Ender and noticed what bad shape she was in, in addition to the fact that she was now nearly hyperventilating, there was some dried blood in her disheveled hair, her already worn clothes had probably seen their end, for the first time Scully noticed how drawn and pale her face was, she looked like she'd never seen the light of day.

    "She's in pretty bad shap," Scully whispered to Mulder, "you want to bring her back looking like this?"

    Mulder looked back, Ender was looking around desperately, not paying any attention to them, he looked back at Scully's own badly bruised face.

    "It's ok, the Gunmen probably expected as much, and they won't care as long as she's back, she can get cleaned up there." He made the final right down the alley toward the Gunmen's office/home. He pulled the car over.

    "Mulder, please don't, just tell them I died in the car crash, I'm not worth it."

    Mulder open his door and got out, turning to the back door. He opened it and was surprised that Ender didn't make a run for it. She didn't move at all.

    "Come on" he said quietly as Scully got out of the car.

    "No, just tell them I'm dead, please Mulder, tell them..."

    He took hold of her arm and pulled her out of the car, she didn't resist, but she didn't go willingly.

    He took the handcuffs off; he didn't want to embarrass her, she wouldn't run now, it was too late.

    He took a step toward the door, her arm still in his hand, she didn't move. "Please" she said meekly.

    He moved his hand to her back and guided her to the door. Her head was lowered away from the Gunmen's surveillance cameras. Scully pressed the doorbell.

    End Part II ** Part III 7:58 PM Frohike sat punching keys mindlessly on his computer. No one had really been able to focus much the past few days. They had gotten a tip on where Ender was from an anonymous source in the New York area. They usually went to follow up on these things themselves but they were always spotted by someone who would tip Ender off and she'd be out of the country by night fall. They had more chance of being successful if they sent Mulder and Scully, it was also safer much safer.

    The news should have them excited but no ones hopes were to high, they didn't expect to see Ender any time soon. Frohike was beginning to doubt that he would ever see her again. It was hard on all of them. Langly hadn't slept in days, he just sat there in front of his computer trying to make as many contacts as he could, Frohike was losing sleep too, but Byers took it the worst. They had all grown close to Ender during her stay with them. Even now, Frohike grinned at the thought of the little five-year-old bounding through the apartment demanding to be told "who really shot JFK?!" only to be further frustrated, after receiving the same answer from all three of them, that she had to "find the theory she believed in the most."

    But with Byers it was a little different. Ender had been closer to Byers than to Langly or Frohike. She'd spend hours in Langly's lap learning to hack, and loved to engage Frohike in some ridiculous argument, but it was Byers who she turned to for comfort, and it was Byers that was always there for her. Byers always tried to hang on to some semblance of a normal life. He allowed himself to fall in love with Suzanne and still believed she'd come back to marry him. Frohike could tell that that thought helped him deal with a lot of things. He never expected himself to be doing what he's doing now. He always pictured himself in a house with a white picket fence, with a wife and children by now. He believes that Suzanne will be that wife, still and for a little while he felt like a father. Now that Ender was gone all he had was hopes.

    Frohike got up to hit the fridge when the doorbell rang. He always paused for a few seconds before going over to answer it; he had no idea where it was written that he had to answer the damn thing and always gave everyone else the opportunity to. He turned to the door.


    Lying alone in bed for seven years I've played out every possible sequence of events the next few minutes could bring. I'd lie there and imagine it happening, what I'd do and say, what brought me back, sometimes they were blind with anger, sometimes blind with happiness, sometimes they acted like I hadn't really left at all, like I'd just gone out for a few minutes.

    But it was never like this, I never imagined being brought back, not like this. It's not supposed to be like this.


    "it's not supposed to be like this" Enders voice was just barely audible.

    Inside the door Frohike looked up to the video screen to run the usual pre entrance sequence of paranoid precautions. First look up, ask for identification even if you recognize the person and...

    Frohike stopped, about to call out for the people on the other side of the door to identify themselves. There was Mulder and Scully, no big surprise, he'd expected them back with the bad news about now but in between them and a little to the front there was someone else, a little shorter than Scully with her head lowered to the floor, Mulder's hand rested on her right shoulder.

    Frohike's heart jumped into his throat and his hands shook as he opened the door.

    The door flung open and the girl raised her now nearly tear filled eyes to meet Frohike's.

    "E...E...Ender?"

    He grabbed her without thought and pulled her inside, embracing her and trying to close the door at the same time.

    Mulder closed the door for Frohike who had now completely given up. Frohike pushed Ender back a bit to get a look at her.

    "Is it really you?"

    Ender nodded, completely incapable of words. Frohike hugged her again and then looked up at Mulder and Scully, as it occurred to him that they brought her back.

    He grabbed Mulder and slammed his back hard a few times. Frohike choked on a "thank you" and turned to Scully.

    Scully began to tell him that she could feel his appreciation from where she was but she was too late. Frohike hugged her and turned back to Ender. He grabbed both her arms and smiled, "Where the hell have you been?"

    Langly called from the other room "Who's at the door?"

    Frohike didn't hear him and he wheeled into the main room.

    "hello?"

    When he saw the scene in the room he almost fell backward in his chair.

    "Ender? Byers its En..." He stumbled up and grabbed the 14 yr old picking her up as easily as he had eight years ago, probably because Ender didn't seem to have grown all that much.

    "Byers, get the hell in here!!" He called.

    Byers came running out of his room in the back and stopped short. Langly was holding someone, but it couldn't be. He put her down and she noticed Byers in the back of the room, looking up at him.

    "Ender?" he asked his voice quivering with disbelief "Ender?"

    She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and let out a shaky and feeble "hi Byers".

    Byers rushed across the room, and engulfed her in his arms. "Ennie...." He stammered and abbreviation of her name that Ender hadn't heard in years, she could feel his tears on the back of her neck and for a moment forgot why she ever left, concentrating instead on clinging to Byers and wondering if it would be so bad if she just never let go.

    He held her out at arms length and pushed her hair away from her face. "You're filthy!" he laughed "How long have you been wearing those clothes?" he led her towards the bathroom, muttering to her about dirt, mussing her hair, and throwing an immeasurably grateful glance towards Mulder and Scully on the way out.

    End Part III ** Part IV.

    Frohike, Langly, Byers and Mulder and Scully, who had agreed to stay for a little while, were sitting around the table in the kitchen. Ender was in the bathroom, having heeded Byers' instructions, taking a shower.

    The Gunmen had finally finished thanking Mulder and Scully profusely and had now gotten around to asking them just exactly how it happened.

    "I never thought we'd get her back" Langly commented, shaking his head "How'd you find her?"

    "Well..." Mulder started "Your source said they saw her in a bookstore in New York, we went to the bookstore around the same time I walked up to the sci fi section and there she was."

    "That's it? I can't believe after all this time it was that easy" Langly continued to shake his head back and forth.

    "Yea..." Mulder responded, having concluded that it wasn't necessary to tell the gunmen about the whole ordeal. Too late though, Frohike walked over, filled everyone's cups and sat in the empty seat to the left of Scully.

    "What a second... what happened to the lovely Agent Scully's face?"

    Scully stumbled; getting Mulder's hints that telling the gunmen wasn't the best idea "I uh... um."

    "She didn't deck you did she?" Langly looked up.

    "No... I" Scully started to lie and couldn't come up with one fast enough "yeah she did, but she was really scared, she didn't know who I was I think" She covered quickly.

    "Yeah, but she had to recognize Mulder, I thought he said he went up to her first?" Frohike noticed the holes in their story and knew it must be pretty bad if they were covering for Ender.

    "Yeah well, I was covering the exits and Mulder went back to go get her, when she bolted I ran after her" Scully explained.

    "Whoa, whoa, whoa, she bolted?! What are you guys not telling us?" Byers' interest in the conversation was growing.

    Scully sighed and looked at Mulder, "Might as well."

    "Well I went up to her, and she was really scared..."

    "But she recognized you right?" Frohike interjected.

    "Yeah, well I went back there and started to talk to her, she got up and ran off" Mulder sighed deciding not to hold anything back at this point. " She ran toward the door and Scully got a hold of her and..."

    "And?" Byers expected the worse.

    "And she, elbowed her in the stomach."

    Frohike shook his head in disbelief.

    "Then she went into the bathroom, Scully came in right after her."

    "Where were you at this point?"

    "I tripped over a cart of books, anyway Scully caught up and Ender, well punched her."

    Frohike's head hit the table.

    "She ran out of the bathroom right into me."

    "And then she got into the car and you came here right?" Byers said, hoping that it was the end.

    "Not exactly" Scully said.

    "Oh no, please tell me she didn't do the kidnapping scream" Langly looked horrified.

    Scully nodded.

    "After we convinced the customers that we weren't kidnapping her we got her into the car."

    "And then you came here?" Byers said hopefully.

    "Um... I uh, stopped to go get some food and left Scully and Ender in the car, Ender convinced Scully that she had to go to the bathroom and locked her in."

    Scully lowered her head into her hands.

    "Ender ran out of the restaurant and got into the first car she saw."

    Scully looked up "with government plates."

    " I had to run the car off the road, which explains the cut on Ender's head, and then we came here."

    Byers looked horrified "Cut??"

    Mulder reminded himself of the seriousness of the situation and stopped himself from laughing, he always pictured Byers to be an overprotective father, but this was extreme.

    "What happened to the man in the government car?' Langly was concerned but more focused.

    "He got away" Scully.

    "I don't believe it" Byers hadn't stopped shaking his head since the beginning of Mulder and Scully's story "how could she be so reckless?"

    Suddenly Mulder's phone rang. He held up a finger and left the room for a moment then came back in.

    "Scully." she looked up. "We have to go. That was Darci. The AD is asking for us."

    "Darci?" Frohike's head popped up. "Who's Darci?"

    Mulder shook his head. "Don't bother, Fro. She ain't legal." Scully didn't even smile. "She's our intern."

    "Ooo...intern." Frohike grinned.

    "What did you guys do to deserve an intern?" Langly asked. "I thought you were the heel of the FBI. Don't they only give interns to the good guys?"

    "Believe me, they're not doing us any favors" Mulder smiled. "I think they were just keeping up their intern quota." he wagged a finger in Frohike's face. "Get that thought out of your head, Frohike. She's not THAT kind of intern."

    Mulder and Scully left the gunmen sitting at the table. Scully shook her head; as they left she turned to Mulder "For some reason, I'm not sure this is the best environment for a 14- yr-old girl."

    "She grew up here, believe me she'll be fine."

    "Still... I don't know" Scully looked back at the outside of the Gunmen's pad as she got into the car.

    "Believe me, those guys love her."

    Byers hadn't heard a single word of the intern story. Frohike came back in from locking the door after Mulder and Scully and flopped down into the seat across from Byers and Langly.

    "So..." Frohike stretched out his arms. "You think we could get Mulder to bring his intern over here?"

    Langly shook his head. "Give it up, Fro. You're a toad. She'd never go for you."

    Frohike sneered at Langly, but didn't bother to respond, noticing how distraught Byers was.

    "I can't believe she did that... she could've been killed." Byers looked terrified. "I didn't realize how much she didn't want to come here."

    " She thought we were going to be killed, probably still does" Frohike tried to console his companion. "She should know it safer here, we can take care of ourselves and her."

    Ender had started to go into the kitchen wearing a pair pajama bottoms, one of Langly's old t-shirts in her bare feet, her wet, curling black hair fell around her eyes. She heard them talking, Mulder and Scully had told them everything. She stopped outside the door and listened motionlessly.

    "How could she do that, she put herself, Mulder and Scully into danger" Byers couldn't believe what he was forced to deal with.

    "She wasn't thinking, she hasn't been thinking for seven years now." Langly started to look hurt to, he thought that when Ender came back everything would be ok, but this was a serious problem.

    "No, she was over-thinking, she needs to stop making decisions for everyone, if our lives are in danger she should have consulted us about it" Byers tapped a spoon on the table.

    "Listen, we've been over this a million times since she left, she was little then, I don't think she realized what she was doing, she thought she was doing the right thing, she was trying to protect us the only way she could think to" Frohike took up his common argument.

    "Yeah well she's much older now and she should know now how ridiculous she was being, she should have come back on her own." Langly said quietly.

    "She's still only a kid, Langly. Give her a break. She hasn't exactly had the easiest time of it."

    No matter how hard Ender tried to stifle them, she felt the familiar sting of tears behind her eyes. "We have to talk to her, she needs to understand this, otherwise she might run off again the next time we turn around." Byers rationalized.

    "She could run off again even after we talk to her." Frohike said, knowing everyone else knew it was true.

    "So what, should we try and force her to stay if she tries to run off" Langly drew the obvious conclusion.

    "She's too young to be out there alone, legally we're obligated to keep her here."

    Ender couldn't believe what she was hearing, she hadn't even thought of leaving since she was on the other side of this door, but it occurred to her that she would eventually have tried.

    "Byers, legally we're not even her guardians."

    "But we can't just let her leave! We have a moral obligation to her," Byers protested.

    Both Langly and Frohike shook their heads in agreement.

    "Have you all gone insane?" Ender's voice hitched. "do you want to die?!"

    Ender turned and head toward the door without thinking about the fact that she was wearing pajamas and no shoes or socks. She was working on the first lock when Byers reached her and pulled her away from the door.

    "Stop, alright, stop it!" She jerked away.

    "Ender, wait think about this, you could get hurt."

    "I don't want you to get hurt, I...I...you guys mean a lot to me..." She wiped her eyes and turned back to the door determined. Byers grabbed her again.

    "Let me go. I have to do this. You don't know what you're messing with."

    "You could be killed."

    "If I stay the three of you will be dead men and then I'll be as good as dead!"

    She pulled away again but Byers didn't let his grip give this time.

    "Let go of me! You'll be safe if I leave! That's all that matters! If I stay here, I'll bring the wrath of God on this house, your not responsible for me I can take care of myself!"

    "Ender are you crazy? You're only fourteen! I'm not letting you leave, there's no telling what will happen to you."

    "I survived for seven years on my own, I think I can manage at least another seven. What would be better for them to catch me and leave you alone or..."

    "Ender... we know too much already. Even if you leave it doesn't matter. The only sure thing is that if you walk out that door you're going to hurt us."

    Ender began to cry still struggling with Byers. He pulled her over to the couch; she was too shaken to put up much of a fight. He sat her down, Langly and Frohike sensed that she might jump up and make another break for it and moved in a little next to Byers, who was standing in front of her. She tried to stand up but Frohike placed a hand on her should and pushed her back down. Ender shot a hard glare at Frohike through her tears. She moved to the edge of the couch and leaned forward.

    "Just because I don't want them to hurt you doesn't mean I have anything against kicking your ass myself Frohike."

    Frohike put his hands under Ender's arms and moved her back, he pushed her shoulders back into the pillow of the couch and took a seat to the right of her, still in her line of vision, between the couch and the door. Langly sat down on the couch to the left of her and Byers pulled up a seat directly in front.

    "Ender... what can we do to make you realize that you are not putting us in any more danger than we're already in?"

    "Maybe if Frohike takes up cliff diving and you play more Russian roulette."

    "Ender, we're trying to be serious here. This is no time for jokes. it's not us your putting in danger, your behavior is endangering your own life."

    "Yeah you exhibited a passionate desire to die when you decked Scully" Langly commented.

    "There better not be any permanent damage." Frohike threatened from his seat grinding his teeth.

    Ender just raised an eyebrow, swallowing the nasty retort. This trio, odd as it was, was her only family.

    "What I'm saying" Byers continued "is that you are staying here." Ender opened her mouth to protest.

    "Guys," she began, then swallowed past the lump in her throat.

    "You seem too stubborn to realize that your not being given any other options, and will probably be out of here the next time we turn around."

    "You helped me a lot. You were the ones who taught me much of what I know. I don't want anything to happen to you." she lowered her eyes from them and her voice was no more than a painful whisper. "I'm not worth that."

    Byers was outraged, his anger carrying him to his feet.

    "Ender, don't you ever think that. You are the most important thing to us."

    Ender sniffed, tears welling up in her eyes. "No I'm not. I've seen what these guys do to people. I'm not worth that to anybody. My life isn't worth three."

    "Ender you represent everything we've working for, look at you, you know about all the crap that really goes on out there and your not even fifteen yet. There aren't many adults who can make that claim." Langly turned in his seat to face her.

    "Yea and look at what its done to her, she's more paranoid than is healthy." Frohike commented under his breath still angry that Ender took a swing at Scully.

    "I wouldn't talk Frohike, you still seal your underwear drawer everytime you open it so you'll know if its been tampered with."

    Ender tried not to laugh at Langly's comment, she couldn't believe he was still doing that.

    "So your staying here, Frohike'll install a deadbolt in the wrong direction, the windows are already barred up"

    "You're going to lock me in here?!"

    "What else can we do? You won't listen to us when we talk to you."

    "That's... " she stumbled "you can't, that's not legal."

    "You don't exactly stand to well with the law, do you? I don't think you'll be inviting the cops over," Langly commented dryly Byers looked up at the clock, 11:30, "Come on, your going to bed."

    Ender began to laugh, "I'd just be getting up if..." Byers' look stopped her.

    Byers took her back to the room next to his; Ender couldn't believe it, her old room? There was no way that that hadn't become a storage space. But Byers pushed the door open and there it was exactly as she remembered it. Her old Star Wars toys were scattered on the floor and the radio she'd been dissembling was sitting in pieces on her desk. Her bed was freshly made though. She felt like crying again when she saw the room, but stopped herself.

    She couldn't look him in the eye, but allowed him to lead her to the bed and even tuck her in.

    Byers just barely resisted the urge to kiss her forehead, but leaned down and whispered "its good to have you back Ennie" In spite of her frustration as a result to their "tag-team" lecture, Ender felt tears begin to stream down her face.

    "Its good to be back Byers."

    Byers gave in and planted a gentle kiss good night on Ender's forehead before turning off the lights and leaving.


    Part V.

    6.18.00
    7:32AM .

    Ender slept maybe two hours all night. It was going to take months for her to be able to adopt a human sleeping schedule and she had the funny feeling she'd have the time. She didn't leave her bed until 7:30 though, fifteen minutes after she heard Byers stirring next door.

    She sat up in bed and placed her bare feet on the hardwood floor. Her room looked little different than it had when she went to bed, it was made only a slight bit brighter by the sun trying to peer in through the edges of the blackout curtain covering her one window. She walked around the room quietly, each corner bringing on a flood of memories.

    She looked the bookshelf, and smiled picking up a copy of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. She flipped through the yellowed pages and placed it back next to Elementary Cryptanalysis: A Mathematical Approach.

    She heard Frohike get up, a few minutes later she heard some banging cursing and a drill. The sounds lit a bulb in her head. She ran over to her desk and opened the drawer. She slipped her hand in and felt on the top of the drawer, when she was little she had taught herself to pick locks so that she could break open the keyboard covers Langly had on some of the computers when she was supposed to be sleeping. She taped her picks in the inside of her desk drawer so no one would find out.

    Her hand traced the top of the drawer, nothing, where they should have been she felt a piece of old paper. She took it off and pulled her hand out.

    Ender, As impressed as I may be that you managed to pick the locks on the Langly's keyboard with tools made out of flattened street car bristles, its pretty damn sneaky. Go to bed. Fro.

    Ender smiled and placed the note back in the drawer closing it. She could make new ones. The shrill screech of Frohike's power drill forced her to realize that she wouldn't be getting close enough to a street cleaner to grab a few bristles for a while. Paperclip picks weren't strong enough to bust open a deadbolt. She stopped her self mid thought, realizing what she was thinking about, thoughts of leaving came naturally. She sat back on her bed and placed her head in her hands. She wanted to stay, she looked up around the room, this was home. But she couldn't, the logical part of her brain kept devising ways to escape, the emotional part of her brain made her lower lip quiver when she realized what the logical half was up to. She shook both ideas out of her head and looked into the mirror above her dresser, she looked pretty bad. They're was no way she could convince them that she had slept more than a hour, tops.

    She rubber her eyes and opened her door quietly, timing it perfectly with a series of bangs from Frohike's endeavors. She padded across the hall to the bathroom and immersed her face in cold water. She dried off and opened the bathroom door, turning left toward the voices in the kitchen. Byers and Langly were sitting amongst a spread of papers.

    "Hey" She muttered trying as hard as she could to clear the lack of sleep from her voice.

    Byers looked up at her. "10:30 tonight, otherwise you'll never get used to a normal sleeping pattern."

    She decided against arguing with him and sat cross-legged in the vacant chair around the table. Her eyes scanned the documents on the table, they were all very legal looking, Ender didn't realize what they were doing until Byers put down the death certificate he was looking over.

    "No, you're not going to..."

    "The only way end all of the uh, attention you draw, is this" Byers nodded toward the papers.

    "Not just the government too," Langly added, "There are quite a few hackers who'd start to get nervous if you disappeared mysteriously."

    "However, because we've faked Suzanne's death recently, we can't do yours the same way."

    "Which means?"

    "No mistakes with the ambulances or losing of bodies."

    "What?! How are you going to pull that off?"

    "We just need to have a report put in that a Jane Doe was found dead in New York, she goes unidentified, get buried in an unmarked grave, end of story" Langly explained.

    "Why would people think that was me?"

    "Well, there's the description on the autopsy, blood tests, fingerprints, and... it wouldn't hurt to have autopsy photos" Langly's voice was tentative.

    "No way!" Ender shuddered at the thought of lying on a cold lab table taking autopsy pictures.

    Byers noticed her uneasiness and quickly veered off that subject "We're not sure that will be necessary, it's something to deal with later."

    "So how do I die?" Ender said, glad to put the discussion about autopsy aside until at least after lunch.

    "Well this is another problem we have, it can't be a homicide, as that will bring on a certain... uproar amongst the hacker community."

    "There's always suicide" Langly flipped through some papers.

    "No way, I'm not agreeing to that" Ender sat up straight.

    "Yeah, I'm not sure I'm ok with that either" Byers took a paper from Langly.

    "Yeah, suicides always look faked, it'll make people suspicious."

    "So that leaves natural causes" Ender stood up and grabbed the coffee pot.

    "No coffee, you'll never sleep" Byers didn't skip a beat.

    "Its 7 in the morn..."

    "Sit down."

    She clanked the pot back down and took up her seat again.

    "But what would a healthy fourteen year old kick the bucket?"

    Byers nodded toward Ender's drained, and now caffeine deprived face, "Does that look healthy to you?"

    Ender lowered her forehead to her hand "I'm not having this conversation."

    "So what she dies from living like a hacker? Talk about the ultimate moral message, it'll really bring down the hackers. What about an aneurysm?"

    "No, too sudden and suspicious, it has to be something that fits with Ender's life. I'm telling you malnutrition is going to work, unless there's such a thing as caffeine and Twinkie poisoning." Byers smiled at Ender.

    "If that existed then it was meant to be my method of death" she returned his grin.

    "Well I don't like malnutrition much, makes me seem like I was too lazy to eat, what about fatal familial insomnia?"

    "I don't know, your talking about a long term thing here."

    "Trust me people'll believe I died from sleep deprivation."

    " Yeah your right, we'll talk more about it later, we have to convince Agent Scully to give us some advice."

    Frohike came in and put his tools under the sink, "Done" he announced closing the door.

    "Morning Ender."

    "Hey Fro" She almost mentioned the note in her drawer, but stopped not sure of whether Frohike had shared the fact that Ender could pick locks with Langly and Byers. Plus the fact that she was looking for her picks was suspicious. Instead she got up and took the Count Chocula down from its place on the top of the fridge.

    Byers shot her a look, about to tell her not to eat those. "Come on Byers, caffeine's one thing, take away sugar and I have a legal defense for murder." She poured herself a bowl, returned the box and sat back down, picking out the marshmallows first and eating them.

    Byers sighed, "I've got some errands to run today, I'll be home later this evening."

    "I've got to go meet with some people" Langly looked up from his own bowl of Count Chocula.

    "Don't mention Ender to anyone" Byers warned. "In spite of what you obviously think most of my brain cells are functioning fine, I'm not stupid."

    "So that means Frohike, you stay home" Byers looked at Frohike, who was now digging through the refrigerator. "Great, you guys are lucky I had not plans today."

    "What am I supposed to do all day?" Ender asked.

    "I don't know, you'll think of something" Langly shrugged.

    "No computer though."

    A look of terror swept across Ender's face she turned to Byers, "What?!"

    "We can't chance someone recognizing you and tracing you back here."

    "Your kidding me, I don't think I've ever gone twenty four hours without using a computer, you do that and you won't have to fake my death."

    Byers ignored her and turned to Frohike "No computer" he told him, nodding his head toward Ender.

    "Gotcha man, no computer" Frohike looked up from behind the refrigerator door, closed it and sat down empty handed.

    He chuckled, "Cheer up Ender, I'm sure we'll think of plenty to do."

    She smacked her head on the kitchen table.

    "Hey I don't like your attitude," Frohike smiled "you want to thunderdome? Cause we'll go!"

    Ender laughed "Please you don't have what it takes to thunderdome, you'd find you ass strapped to a donkey chasing a monkey looking at the inside of a ceramic head before you can say gulag."

    Frohike, Byers' and Langly almost fell over laughing.

    "I never got that," Langly said recovering.

    "Got what?"

    "That gulag thing, it made no sense."

    "Actually" Byers began, "it's a reference to Lenin's exhile of anticommunists. He'd send them ito the deserts of Siberia."

    "You really are a walking textbook, aren't you Byers?" Frohike commented.

    "Yeah, By, even I have to admit that one was pretty bad, a reference to obscure Russian history and a sci-fi movie in the same sentence." Ender grinned.

    "But it still doesn't explain why they 'gulag-ed' you if you broke a deal." Langly smiled.

    "Or that ceramic head and monkey nonsense."

    They sat around the kitchen table for almost an hour, making geeky jokes, laughing and talking about old times. Langly didn't hesitate to bring up the first time Ender ever got her hands on a keyboard unsupervised. His eyes were filling with tears he was laughing so hard "you hacked into NASA! I leave the room for fifteen minutes and she's got launch schedules up on the screen!"


    4:30 PM .

    Ender had fallen asleep on the couch watching the sci-fi channel after Byers and Langly left, it was a damn good thing they decided to invest in cable, otherwise Frohike had no idea how he would entertain her all day.

    Frohike walked over to the kitchen cabinet to make himself some coffee. He got a hold of the coffee can and opened it, empty, "crap". There was no way he was going to sit alone in this house all day without any coffee. He walked over to Ender and waved his hand in front of her shut eyelids, checking to see how asleep she was.

    "Ender?" he whispered.

    "Ender?" a little louder this time.

    Ender stirred slightly, and Frohike's heart leapt. But she only yawned and rolled over, curling up around a pillow. He smiled, convinced that she wouldn't be getting up, anyway if she did the backward deadbolt would keep her inside. He grabbed his coat unlocked the locks and went out, remembering to flip the outside one shut before he walked down the block to get some coffee.

    Ender's eyes shot open as soon as the door shut, she jumped up and ran quietly to the door, jamming a plastic coffee stirrer she palmed off the table into the key hole on the inside. It allowed the lock to turn almost all the way, making it look locked from the outside. She held it there for four minutes, making sure that Frohike made it all the way down the alley. She gave the stirrer a flick and heard the pop of the lock opening. She smiled and head to Langly's room to go get some shoes.

    Langly's shoes didn't fit well at all. She opened the door and looked down the alley both ways. She stepped out and closed the door behind her; flipping the reverse dead bolt to make it look like no one had left at first, buy her a few more minutes. She ran down the alley, Langly's sneakers slowing her down significantly, but they were better than nothing. She turned left; sure that Frohike had head for the convenience store on the right, and slowed to a casual walk when she passed a police station, heart pounding, sure that every cop in the station knew her exact thoughts.

    First things first, she needed to get to a computer. She was broke so that ruled out Kinko's and Cyber cafes. A couple of blocks away from the station, Ender noticed a library. Where there were libraries, there were most likely computers, slow, decrepit, Government Issue computers, but computers nonetheless. Thanking the god of hackers that this library was open on Sundays, she slid the door open and crept into the air-conditioned silence.

    She felt totally conspicuous, and out of place as she slunk towards the row of computers, she was the only one in there wearing a torn up Ramones t-shirt, pajama bottoms and flopping old canvas cons.

    Tilting her head forward to hide her face beneath her long black hair she logged on. She shuddered at the thought of making contacts with no protection, but she had to work with what she had and then get the hell out of there.


    Frohike walked whistling up to the apartment, and saw the lock on the door undisturbed. He smiled thinking that maybe he shouldn't have bothered to install the lock at all; she was probably still sleeping inside. He unlocked the deadbolt first and the heavy door creaked open.

    "SHIT!" He cursed catching a glimpse of the empty couch. He grabbed the phone and dialed up Mulder, there was no one else he could get a hang of now.

    "Mulder."

    "Mulder, its Frohike, I need you to get the hell down here."


    Part VI .

    Mulder hung up the phone and stared past the bumbling intern to Scully.

    "Um, Scully?"

    Scully looked up, distractedly, pushing her hair out of her face. "What?"

    We're needed."

    "Needed?"

    Mulder nodded, solemnly. "The..." he glanced at Darci, who seemed totally involved in the typing she was doing. He silently hoped she wouldn't break the computer again. It had taken them weeks to get another. "The gunmen."

    "No... No, absolutely not."

    "But, Scully...." Mulder turned his puppy dog eyes on her. "Fro would never call here unless it was important."

    "NO. I said no. I owe them nothing. And wipe that look off your face, Mulder. It won't work with me."

    "Scully..."

    "Just go yourself. I'm not coming with you. I'll cover for you, but I'm not helping."

    Darci's head shot up; here was her chance to redeem herself.

    "I'll go."

    "Yeah, Mulder..." Scully smiled, seeing an opportunity for revenge "Take her."

    Darci leapt to her feet. "I can help. Agent Scully won't go, but I'll come and help you." she was already pulling on her trench coat. Mulder sighed inwardly.

    "I'm not going to..." Mulder glanced at the intern, now looking at him intently, not wanting to hurt her feelings.

    Mulder glanced from Scully, who was barely containing a broad grin, to Darci, who was looking up at him, pitifully, using his own puppy eyes against him.

    "Fine. Come. But you have to do everything I say and don't say I didn't warn you."


    Mulder pulled to the curb about a block away from the gunmen's. He had resisted the urge to blindfold Darci on the way there, figuring that if he drove fast enough, she wouldn't remember how to get there. Frohike was already standing outside.

    "Get in" Mulder told him.

    "Whose this?" Frohike asked suspiciously.

    "Never mind, get in."

    Frohike opened the back door, and climbed in.

    "Where to?"

    "She needs a computer and she has no money, where else?"

    Mulder made a U-turn and head straight for the nearby library. He pulled up right in front. All three of them got out of the car. Mulder looked back at Darci, "Stay here" She sighed disappointed that she wouldn't be able to get in on the action, even though she had no idea what was going on.

    Frohike and Mulder walked into the library and spotted Ender immediately, typing intensely on the computer. Mulder reached her first, she was writing an e-mail looking for a safe house. He grabbed her shoulder.

    Ender took one look at him and took a deep breath "HEL..."

    Frohike came up and grabbed Ender's arm, "Try that and I'll make you wish you were being kidnapped" He dragged her violently out of the library, ignoring the dirty looks he got from the librarians. Mulder brought up the rear satisfied to let Frohike handle things.

    "What the hell is wrong with you?!" He shouted when the got outside, he was nearly pulling her arm out of the socket.

    "My god, I leave for five minutes and your gone" She was tripping over Langly's sneakers trying to keep up.

    Mulder was amazed at the ease with which Frohike got Ender into the back seat, he also had the foresight to flip the child safety lock, not putting jumping out of a moving car beyond Ender. Ender noticed Darci for the first time as Frohike threw her into her trying to get her into the backseat. Frohike and Mulder had returned to the library to clear up the computer screen. Darci looked pretty green, probably just fresh to the bureau, she didn't even seem to have to good an idea what was going on. Ender's eyes traced the dashboard and she almost laughed out loud, Mulder left the keys hanging in the car, what a dolt. Mulder and Frohike were coming out of the library, if she was going to do anything she had to do it now, take the car and kick the newbie out in two blocks.

    She reached up and hit the automatic lock in the front seat, flipping into the front seat and turning the key.

    "What the hell are you doing?" Darci leaned up to the front seat. Mulder and Frohike ran to the car door.

    "I swear I will screw your high school transcript up so bad you wind up in prison if you don't sit the fuck back" Ender shouted back, the engine turning but not starting.

    Frohike and Mulder began banging on the door.

    Darci's mouth dropped open. "W...what?" she stammered.

    "Just sit back and shut up damn it!"

    "Yes! Ender cheered as the car started, she was about to shift into gear when she heard the sickening click of the doors unlocking, she turned back to Darci, who was leaning forward with her hand in the front seat on the automatic lock. Ender's head fell back, "shit" she sighed as Frohike and Mulder threw open the front seat doors.

    "Shitshitshitshitshit." she sighed.

    Frohike climbed into the passenger side and Mulder slid into the driver's side, pushing Ender into the middle. She began to squirm around, the situation was uncomfortable on more levels than one, the seat was never intended to be a seat and the company wasn't exactly going to make for an enjoyable trip.

    "Sit still" Frohike hissed through his teeth, with his fists clenched.

    Ender used all her self-control to stop moving. She focused on the fun she would have with the greens wallet that she slipped out of her jacket when Frohike threw her into the car that is if she ever got to see a computer again.

    Frohike was seething; he began drumming his fingers on the dashboard. He opened his mouth to say something, but he couldn't find the words to express his displeasure and disappointment and anger, so he just sighed in disgust and closed his mouth. Mulder on the other hand, had no shortage of words,.

    "Ender, this is the second time in two days that I have had to drag you out of some very public place. How do you think my superiors will react to this... do you think at all?! This isn't just about you. I'm involved, Scully's involved, the gunmen are involved, even Darci, the damned interns involved now!" Ender's ears perked up, Darci, so that was the greens name. "The next time I get a phone call to go run you down I'm sending the SWAT team, let them deal with you, I'm not endangering anyone anymore and YOU are not going to cause the gunmen to make that call. There are not going to be any more of these escape attempts." "Do you understand?!"

    Ender nodded.

    "Tell me you understand!"

    "I understand" Ender stammered more than a little shocked at the vehemence in his voice.


    They pulled up in front of the gunmen's apartment, Frohike was the first one out of the car, he stood at the door waiting for Ender, she didn't move.

    "Ok Ender, Byers said you weren't being given any options, but how 'bout I give you one, either you get the hell out of the car and go inside or you can stay in the car and take a nice drive to the federal building where I'm sure Mulder wouldn't mind introducing you to some of his friends in computer fraud."

    Darci laughed in the back seat "Ha, I knew you were a computer geek!" earning herself a dirty look from Ender.

    Ender looked up at Frohike disbelievingly.

    "Hey Mulder, how thick is that file of hers now?" Frohike continued.

    "Pretty damn thick, she's got her own drawer now" Mulder wasn't kidding.

    Ender scampered out of the car; Frohike immediately took hold of her arm, muttering curses as he dragged her inside.

    Mulder shook his head, motioned to Darci and they followed the two hackers in.

    When they all got inside, Frohike didn't let go of Ender's arm.

    "Shoes" he demanded still talked through his teeth.

    "Shit," Ender thought, "that's where the green's wallet is" She hesitated..."SHOES!" She had no idea what Frohike might do if he had to ask a third time... oh well it couldn't get much worse, she kicked them off easily, the wallet falling to the floor to the left of the right shoe.

    "HEY!!" Darci screeched. "That's my wallet!"

    Frohike turned a shade of red Ender didn't think was possible as Mulder bent over to pick up the wallet and returned it to Darci. Frohike dropped Ender's arm and turned around breathing deeply, trying to control his anger, or find the words to express it.

    "Ender, you... I.... you are.... I.... running... you... I AM SO MAD AT YOU!"

    Ender's head dropped.

    "IF YOU EVER, EVER DO THAT AGAIN... I'll... I'll lock you in the closet until your old enough to collect social security!" Frohike fumed as he dragged her to her room, as Ender did her best to hold back a comment that you couldn't collect social security without a social security number.

    Mulder heard a door slam and heard Frohike dragging something in front of it. He came pounding back down the hall and picked up the phone. Darci just stood there completely distracted by the pile of absurd looking newspapers on the floor.

    "Who are you calling?" Mulder asked, taking a few steps toward Frohike.

    "I think I know where I can reach Langly, he said he had to meet some people" Frohike punched some numbers into the keypad.


    "Hello you've reached middle earth" a singsong voice cut the third ring short.

    "Myron, put Langly on," Frohike said rather curtly.

    "Sorry no Myron here, or Langly for that matter."

    "Dammit, I don't have time for this Myron."

    "I don't know who you're talking about"

    "DAMN IT!! Ok, ok, fine, Elron the Druid, would you please put Langly on."

    "A little better but whose Langly."

    "JUST PUT LANGLY ON!"

    "Alright already, don't blow a fuse." The receiver clanked onto the desk.

    "Lord Manhammer, there's a call for you." Frohike heard the voice in the distance.

    "Hello?"

    "Langly, you need to get home, now."

    "Oh, heh, hey Frohike, how'd you know how to reach me, I was just, uh, picking up some information."

    "Yeah, sure you were, just get home. Bring Byers if you can find him."


    Part VII.

    6:02 .

    The outside door opened and closed once, Mulder and Darci leaving, no doubt. I sat on my bed, trying to distract myself from the stream of thoughts and feelings and plans that ran through my head, having concluded that maybe this time I should try not to think. I tinkered around with some of my toys, trying to get the chicken walker to stand. It always did the same thing, no matter how hard I tried, it'd stand for a moment, but then the right leg would start to falter, and the weight of the top would make it fall over. After about the ninth time this happened I nearly through it across the room.

    I backed up into the wall and pulled my knees into my chest and gave in to my minds demands for attention. What the hell have I done, and what the hell am I going to do? Even more important, what are they going to do? They'd be mad, clearly Frohike had already demonstrated this, I thought as my left hand mindlessly touched my right arm. But when people are mad they need to act on that anger.

    It had been nice at breakfast this morning, why had I tried to leave? If they really believe that they can take care of things then I should trust them shouldn't I?.

    But they don't know, I insisted, silencing my own devil's advocate. They can't know how serious it is. They won't let themselves see because they're too close to me. I have to stop acting like a child, if I distance myself, maybe they will distance themselves.


    8:17PM .

    The door opened and three hushed yet urgent voices filled the outer room. I did everything I could to hear, short of sticking my ear to the door. Frohike was explaining what had happened and Langly and Byers were both offering angered comments. The conversation was short. After it stopped I heard footsteps coming down the hall. I backed myself into the corner and pulled my knees in closer as the trunk Frohike had dragged out of his room was pushed out of the way of the door.

    God, I don't want to see anyone now. The door opened and Byers stood there a mix of anger, concern and confusion all clear in his face. I lowered my eyes to the ground and did not cry. He continued to stand there apparently waiting for me to say something.

    I lifted my head, realizing I might have looked ashamed with my head bowed, and gazed blankly at the wall in the opposite direction from where he was standing.

    "You've nothing to say then?" he asked, quite calmly.

    I sat for a minute considering the best response, whatever it was it would be in the affirmative, I could nod, but I knew saying anything would be too much. I wound up shrugging and lying down on the bed, rolling away from him and pulling the covers around my shoulders.

    "Expect a long talk later," he said as he turned and closed the door. He was down the hall when someone else slid the trunk back in front of my room.

    Voices filled the apartment again. The three of them were talking very seriously, but I didn't care to hear what they we're saying, I'd hear it all sooner than I would like.

    I shut my eyes and through great effort, managed to fall asleep.


    1:39 AM .

    And woke up screaming.

    I thought I had trained myself not to do that when I was eight. For months whenever I woke up I would bite down hard on my lower lip. Eventually I stopped screaming, I still woke up, but at least it was quiet, it wasn't safe not to be able to control something like that.

    Even though I'd stopped the screaming I still had the nightmares, or nightmare to be exact. It was always the same situation, but it did get progressively worse as I aged. They started when my father and I were forced to part company. In my dream then I was wandering through an open field, so wide that no matter how far I went, or how fast I ran, I couldn't see anything but green. And I would wake up screaming, sometimes it took Byers several hours to calm me down enough to get me to go back to sleep.

    The first time I slept after learning that my father had died, in the dream I finally saw something. When I got up to it, panting and gasping for air, I saw my father, motionless, eyes rolled back into his head and a distorted look on his face, blood trickling down from his mouth. This is when I started biting my lip until it bled; it's also when I gave up any hope of sleeping for more than two hours at a time.

    Tonight it changed again.

    I reached my father's body, or the place it should be, to find it aged and decayed. The grass had begun to grow around him, covering him slightly making him harder to see. I barely recognized him. From behind me I heard two loud bangs and turned and ran in their direction.

    I arrived just in time to hear the final bang, and to watch Byers, the life now drained from his eyes, fall to the ground next the Langly and Frohike. I turned to where the shot had come from and was blinded by the reflection of the sun in something. And I woke up... screaming.

    I managed to clear my eyes just in time to see the light in the hallway flip on underneath my door. Tears blurred my vision; I was shaking fiercely and could not stop myself. The door flew open as I began to cough and choke fitfully and Byers ran over to the bed, not bothering to turn the light on. He sat me up.

    "Breathe, Ender, breathe." At first I wondering why he sounded concerned then I realized, I really wasn't breathing. I gasped for air and released it with the final cough of my fit. My body now directed all its energy to making me tremble uncontrollably. Byers wrapped the comforter around me and pulled me close.

    "Shh, calm down" his words were trying to calm me, but it was clear he was nervous himself. He began to rock me back and forth. I slowly stopped trembling; I felt like I was sinking away from the room, Byers' voice slowly became fainter and fainter. The room began to blur and then became progressively darker.


    Frohike and Langly came barreling into the room as Ender went limp in Byers' arms.

    Byers looked up desperately, "Call Scully, now."

    He knew Ender probably should go to a hospital, but if he took her to one she'd survive this fit, but wind up dead at the hands of god knows whom.

    Langly ran to the other room and hit the speed dial for Scully's cell phone.


    "Hello?" Scully mumbled into the phone.

    "Scully, we need you to get over here, quickly, please."

    It was Langly, at the first sound of his voice she had nearly hung up the phone, but there was definitely a sense of urgency here.

    "What's wrong?"

    "Its Ender, she woke up screaming and just passed out."

    "You should get to a hospital."

    "No, we can't, it's not safe."

    "Langly, she could be seriously ill," Scully rationalized as she got up, trying to pull some clothing on and balance the phone on her shoulder.

    "Please, Scully, they're really looking for her, if we take her out of the apartment she's as good as dead."

    Langly was sounding distraught; Scully knew there'd be no reasoning with him, at least not over the phone. It was best to go down there and talk to the three of them in person, see what she could do herself for Ender.

    She walked out of her bedroom, cradling the cell phone on her shoulder, "Ok Langly, I'm coming right over."

    She rushed outside and into her car, the urgency of the situation speeding her steps. As she drove she ran off in her head all the things it could be. She could be physically ill, she ran off common illness for fourteen year olds in her head, it could be anything from a cold to appendicitis, Langly hadn't given her that much to diagnose on. The she ran some less common illness through her mind, remembering that Ender hadn't lived the healthiest of lives, she flashed on the image of Ender in the backseat of the rental right before they had got to the gunmen. Shit, it could be a million different things and she was heading over there with nothing.

    She dialed up Mulder on her cell, it was busy, Langly had no doubt beaten her to it; the only other people who would call Mulder on his cell at this hour would be them. She pulled up to the gunmen's pad, got out and knocked on the door.


    Scully had barely knocked once before the door flew open, Frohike didn't bother to even check the surveillance cameras, let alone ask her to identify herself.

    "She's in the back" he ushered Scully through the office area and into the section of the Gunmen's apartment she rarely saw. He lead her into a room through a door that Scully had only seen once, when she made a hesitant trip to the Gunmen's bathroom, she had assumed it was a closet.

    Inside Byers was sitting on a bed holding the motionless Ender in his arms. Scully rushed up to the two and removed Ender from Byers' reluctant grip, laying her on her back. She immediately felt for a pulse, and quickly found a steady beat, as strong as could be expected for someone who lived like Ender had for their entire lives. This relieved Scully significantly; she lifted one of Enders eyelids and was even more assured when the pupils reacted as was normal.

    "I think she'll be ok" she said, trying to ease the nerves of the three men behind her as she watched Ender's breathing.

    "What happened?" Frohike's voice was almost demanding, as though he already suspected that this had been done to her.

    "I'm not sure, as far as I can tell she just passed out" she struggled to find the words to explain it to them more specifically, without sounding detached and doctor-like, but decided she needed more information before she could even fully understand.

    "You said she woke up screaming" Scully looked up at Langly as his words from earlier finally occurred to her.

    "Yea."

    Byers swallowed, "When she was younger, she used to have... nightmares, almost every night, she would wake up very shaken, it took me quite some time to calm her down again..." Byers paused and looked and Ender, as though he was trying to remember "but it was never this bad, she never fainted."

    Scully finished checking Ender's vitals as best she could without any real equipment, and stood up, confident that Ender would be all right as soon as she regained consciousness.

    "She's been through a lot of stressors over the past two days" she turned to the gunmen "Most likely it upset her and it was too much for her to handle. There's nothing wrong with her physically as far as I can tell, she should be ok when she comes to."

    Mentally, however, Scully thought, was an entirely different issue she didn't want to bring up here for some reason. It would be best to talk to Byers in private, she concluded, having long identified him as the father figure. She toyed with several ways to try and separate the three without arousing suspicion, and found the task incredibly difficult considering her company. She decided to come right out and ask to speak to Byers in private when someone knocked on the door.

    Frohike left her, Byers and Langly standing in Ender's room and returned a few seconds later with Mulder,.

    "Is she ok?" Mulder's voice was tired, Scully realized it probably wasn't necessary for him to be here, but knew he would have been angry if no one had notified him. After they had pulled Ender from the car wreck and continued toward D.C. Mulder had gone on for nearly two hours about all the times he'd met Ender when she was younger. Scully couldn't help but think that he had sounded like a proud Uncle as he told her about how Ender knew how to read even before she knew the gunmen and how quickly she'd learned to type. It was better the gunmen had called him, if Ender was worse off, they could have used his help.

    "Yeah, she'll be fine" Scully looked around, everyone was feeling quite awkward, it was clearly they all wanted desperately for something to do to help.

    "Frohike, why don't you make us some coffee?" Frohike walked out grateful for the task.

    "Mulder, you and Langly stay here and keep an eye on her" They too were relieved by Scully's attempt to create order. Byers however became clearly distraught that he was excluded from the group who would be staying to watch Ender.

    She walked over to Byers "Byers, can I have a word with you outside?" she did her best to make the request sound unimportant to the others in the room, and succeeded, her experience as a doctor paying off. Byers followed her out into the hall.

    "We ought to sit down" she said, and Byers lead the way through the computer room to what most closely resembled their living room, furnished by a sofa, one armchair and a television. He sat on the sofa and Scully took a seat in the armchair.

    "These nightmares you said she had had?"

    "Yes, when she first arrived here almost every night she'd wake up screaming, much like she did tonight. It always took about an hour to get her to relax again..."

    "Do you know what her nightmares were about?"

    Byers paused "She never wanted to talk about it, I'm fairly sure it had something to do with the absence of her father, eventually they became less frequent, for almost a month before she left she was sleeping through the night with out any disturbances. Clearly they must have resurfaced since then."

    "Has she been acting odder than you would expect?" The look on Byers' face caused Scully to quickly add, "I mean, taking into consideration the recent events..."

    "It's been nearly eight years, it is hard for me to tell what's abnormal for her anymore" he sighed, hurt by this, "but she is more easily upset than I remember her, last night she got really worked up and tried to run out in her pajamas." He immediately felt as though he was betraying Ender, his words sounded biased to him as soon as they left his mouth, he knew where her paranoia came from, hell he even took partial credit for it, but he also saw nothing wrong with it.

    "But, it's completely understandable" he continued, "She has been through a lot recently."

    "She's been through a lot her whole life" Scully sensed Byers was trying to avoid the subject.

    "Ender is a strong child, she had proved more than capable of handling herself alone, though she may have neglected certain things, but now that she's with us it will be much better."

    Scully realized this was the best she could hope for, she'd confirmed the fact that Byers was aware of Ender's fragile state, if this was her patient in a hospital she would advise, or perhaps require a psych counsel, but she knew that would never happen.

    She nodded and let a mild smile fall on lips, "I'm sure you guys will do a fine job of taking care of her, just try and keep away from anything that might upset her for awhile, bring her back to her old routine slowly."

    She stood up. "Take care of yourself too, I don't think she could stand to lose another father."


    Part VIII.

    3:10AM .

    Ender came to a little after three in the morning and was greeted by the quiet snoring of Langly, who had fallen asleep sitting up in a corner of the room not littered with toys. For a few seconds she racked her brain to remember what she'd done to warrant an all night watch, then the memory of the night's events hit her at the same time as a spell of dizziness. She lay still for a moment, regaining peripheral vision and then sat up. She lowered her feet to the ground and the first step let out a creak that wouldn't wake anyone, accept a very light sleeping paranoid hacker.

    Langly's eyes blinked open and focused to the dim light of the desk light Byers had insisted they keep on.

    "Hey" he unlike Ender had long since mastered the art of sounding wide awake when he was in fact otherwise "where you headed?"

    "Bathroom" Ender wasn't lying this time and she stood up and began to walk toward the exit.

    "You ok?"

    She nodded and padded out of the room, wondering if she really was worthy of Langly's trust. The scene in the main room however convinced her that Langly didn't really need to worry about Ender cutting out. Mulder and Byers were both sleeping quite soundly on different armchairs. Scully was sharing a couch with Frohike; Ender noted the large distance between them and grinned as she wondered who sat down first. She left the bathroom and headed back toward her room where she found Langly now completely awake perched on her bed. Langly watched the sureness of her steps meticulously, ready to jump up and catch Ender if she fainted. Ender sat down next to him on the bed.

    "How're you feeling?"

    Ender paused for a second, then shrugged.

    "Fine, I guess. Hell, I probably got more sleep than I have in years."

    "Learn from someone whose been there, passing out is not the same as sleeping."

    Ender grinned, "They really called in the cavalry, huh?"

    "Yep, the gangs all here, only the best care for our little recluse."

    They sat in a companionable silence until Langly spoke.

    "Why'd you do it? You know what your running away did to Byers... to all of us, Why try again?"

    Ender shook her head "You don't understand. I didn't... don't want to hurt you guys. That's why I had to leave."

    "Alright Ender enough noble crap, honestly, you think your kung foo is so much better than the three of ours combined that you have to protect us" Ender couldn't respond until Langly released her from the head lock.

    "You couldn't protect the personal files of a fly with that firewall of yours" She laughed. Langly reached up and messed her hair.

    "So you plan your next escape attempt yet, Houdini?"

    "Naw, I figure if Frohike could run me down I'm stuck here."

    "Yeah man, I hear from Mulder he bore a striking resemblance to an elderly mother dragging you out of that library."

    Ender stifled a giggle.

    "And what's this I hear about you picking some poor girls pocket?"

    Ender opened her mouth to deny the accusation, then sighed. "She deserved it. Besides, you always told me 'never leave home without someone else's credit card."

    "How about you just never leave home?" Langly pulled lightly at a strand of her hair.

    "Who was this chick anyway?"

    Ender snorted. "Darci."

    "Darci? The bumbling intern? THAT Darci?"

    Ender nodded.

    Langly shook his head, mock-disapprovingly.

    "It's not nice to mess with someone that clueless."

    "She wasn't that nice either."

    Ender paused for a second, making mental note of all the information she had gathered on Darci. Langly recognized the look in her face and smiled widely.

    "Hey, Langs?" when Ender spoke, after glancing around the room, it was softly and innocently. "Can I use the computer for a sec?" "Whatever she did, she doesn't deserve to be reassigned to Timbuktu because of computer error."

    "How are you so sure that's what I wanted to do, maybe I just want to play some solitaire?"

    "Cause you had that look."

    "What look?"

    "The 'I'm going got send someone back into the technological ice age' look."

    Ender wrinkled her nose "I don't even think they have a Timbuktu office of the FBI, do they?"

    Langly laughed.

    Their quiet talking didn't wake any of the home's other paranoid hackers, however a paranoid FBI agent jumped awake at the sound of the suspicious whispers. Mulder rose and walked cautiously, so as not to wake anyone, to the back room. The light was glowing brightly under the door; he paused for a second and listened to the conversation.

    Ender and Langly knew he was out there the second he approached the door.

    "Say" Langly said a little louder "what do you think of Mulder?" Ender grinned "Mulder? I dunno... He seems kind of doofy since the last time I saw him."

    "Kind of?!" Langly scoffed "he's completely doofy."

    Mulder opened the door, "Haha guys, very funny."

    "So the little squirt is conscious again?"

    "Completely doofy" Ender smiled looking at Mulder.

    "You know Ender, your lucky you weren't feeling to well before, otherwise I'd kick you ass," Mulder laughed.

    "No its ok, you can kick her ass, I tested her before, see" Langly demonstrated with another headlock.

    Langly released Ender and she shoved back from him, enough distance to avoid another headlock,.

    "Just because I don't retaliate right away doesn't mean I'm not planning anything, just you wait, when your least expecting it, you'll get yours" her attempt to sound threatening was rather funny.

    "Listen, do whatever you want to Langly, just don't put pop rocks in the coffee grounds like you did the last time he pissed you off, I swear I thought we had coffee machine poltergeists" Frohike had stumbled down the hall unnoticed and was now standing at the door. Scully came in right after him; laughing as she pictured Frohike dealing with a "possessed" coffee machine.

    "Byers up?" Mulder's yawn made the question barely coherent.

    "I gave him something to help him sleep, he won't wake up" Scully looked down at her watch and the walked over to Ender and placed a hand on her forehead. Ender cringed away from her touch but forced herself to relax, primarily because of the "evil eye" Frohike gave her when she first shied away from Scully.

    "How are you feeling?" Scully asked as she carefully examined the clarity and awareness of Ender's eyes.

    "Fine," Ender answered as Scully began to feel for a pulse "a little groggy I suppose."

    "You tired?"

    "Nope."

    "Well that's something I'm afraid you're going to have to cope with because you're going back to bed."

    "Wonderful, I get to lie awake in bed for the next few hours staring at the ceiling." Ender sighed.

    "I could give you something to help you sleep too."

    Ender's eyes went wide, she shoke her head, which filled with too many conspiracies about medications to voice. "No... no, that won't be necessary." She crawled back into bed.

    Langly got up and pulled the covers over her.

    Everyone stood around for a moment expecting everyone else to leave; they all felt it was there duty to sit with Ender. Scully realized that nobody was going to leave and took it upon herself to shoo them all out.

    "Okay, everyone out. Ender needs sleep and that's not going to happen with you all in here."

    Langly, Frohike and Mulder called goodnight to ender as they walked out.

    "Oh great, don't leave me in here with the walking medicine cabinet, she'll have me so drugged that by morning I'll swear I shot Kennedy!" Ender called after them.

    Frohike smiled. "I told you there was a gunman on the grassy knoll!"

    "There were four or five on the knoll but they were just decoys, it came from the sewer, did you not read the autopsy reports?!" Ender sat up smiling eager to get into the old argument.

    "Out!" Scully stepped towards them; an angry look on her face and the three scurried out.

    Ender sighed and fell back onto her pillows.

    Scully sat down on a chair next to the bed.

    Ender craned her neck to see her, "You're just going to sit there?"

    "Until you fall asleep."

    "Until I fall asleep?" she lowered her head again "I suppose you should get comfortable" "I'll be fine."

    Scully crossed her arms over her chest and switched off the lamp on Enders bedside table. Now the only light came from the edges of the blackout curtains covering Ender's window.

    Ender sat up and flipped the light on, "If you think I'm going to fall asleep with you sitting in the dark watching me..."

    "So, I'll sit in the light and watch you," Scully said, gently removing Ender's hand from the lamp. "Because you're going to sleep."

    Ender didn't lie back down this time; she raised an eyebrow and shrugged, "Eventually I suppose I will have to sleep, but I'm telling you it's not going to happen anytime soon. What do you care if I go back to sleep or not?"

    "It'll help you. You obviously haven't been sleeping well."

    "Help me, there you go, no concern of yours, you ought to head home and get to bed, Monday tomorrow, you'll have to be at work you know."

    Scully narrowed her eyes. "Why are you so eager for me to leave?" Ender furrowed her brow,.

    "I'm not going to try and leave again if that's what your thinking." She practically spat the words out. "Your just making me uncomfortable is all and when I'm not tired, I don't enjoy being told to go to bed.."

    "What do you think I'm going to do? The gunmen trust me."

    "I suppose," she muttered.

    "Ender" Scully spoke very slowly and calmly "I want you to lie down and go to sleep."

    "Those Jedi-mind tricks won't work with me." Ender grinned weakly.

    Scully gave Ender her best glower. The one that sent hardened criminals scurrying home to their mommies. Ender gave one right back, only not as scary.

    "It appears as though we've reached a stalemate, Agent Scully" Ender was trying to sound devious.

    Scully didn't smile.

    "You're going to bed, Ender. No buts about it."

    "I am in bed, the issue at hand is going to sleep."

    "Listen, I can very easily get the gunmen in here."

    "Oh yeah I can see that conversation... 'Frohike, Ender won't go to bed and she's being mean!' Besides I can take Frohike, he's a short guy" Ender smiled " Langly's easy enough and Byers is drugged, so we're back where we started."

    "Ender, why are you so adverse to the idea of doing something for your health?"

    Ender laughed out loud "I'm not consciously trying to be unhealthy, I'm being logical."

    "Logical? Ender it's not healthy for a... What are you, twelve?"

    "Fourteen" Ender seethed.

    Scully eyed her, dubiously. "Fourteen?"

    "Yea, what of it?"

    Scully rolled her eyes, an "if-you-say-so" expression on her face.

    "What?!" Ender sat upright, "You don't think I'm fourteen?" She became defensive of her age and thus more child-like, Scully expected her to admit she was thirteen and three quarters in a second.

    Scully just shook her head. "You sure you aren't ALMOST fourteen? Or maybe almost THIRTEEN?"

    "I think I'm capable of remembering my own age."

    Scully sat back and conceded defeat "fine your fourteen, still it's not healthy for a fourteen year old..."

    "I'm not going to sleep, that's the end of it, I'm not tired, and I'm not a child who needs to be told when they should be tired."

    "Ender..." Scully's voice held a dangerous note of warning, "I don't want to have to give you something to make you go to sleep, but your giving me little choice."

    "You can't do that!" Ender sat bolt upright in bed, indignant. "I have rights!"

    "You're... fourteen, Ender. Any rights you DO have are preceded by your guardians wishes."

    "Well there you go, no legal guardian around here is there?" Ender's tone was almost sad.

    Scully swallowed a smile. "It seems to me that you have three in the other room. One may be a bit incapacitated at the moment, but...."

    Ender sputtered "You wouldn't... they wouldn't let you...you..."

    "I'll make you a deal, if you lie down, I won't drug you, ok?" Ender thought for a moment and reluctantly climbed under the covers.

    "I doubt that any court would ever hold up any actions you made on behalf of the Gunmen's guardianship."

    She was rather bitter, at first Scully thought she resented their control on her, but she quickly saw the possibility that she resented the fact that they couldn't be her real guardians.

    "The court wouldn't be able to get past your name" Scully smiled changing the subject "What's wrong with my name?" Ender rolled off her back to her side to face Scully.

    "You have to admit its a little odd. It really says Ender on your birth certificate?"

    "No, I'll be damned if I know what's on that thing."

    "So you can't remember your real name, but your positive of your birth date, huh?"

    "Fine, mock me, see if I care." She rolled back over onto her back.

    "I've had thousands of names, you try and remember them all, let alone the first one." She was lying of course, but for some reason Ender was very uneasy about telling anyone her birth name.

    "So what about Ender then?"

    "Ender just stuck, people thought it was fitting."

    "I've never heard it before."

    "It's a boy's name, from a book, by Card, I don't really feel like talking about it." Ender rolled over completely onto her side.

    Scully stared at Ender's back for a moment then switched off the lights. The two sat in a not quite comfortable silence for a few minutes when Ender's voice came out of the darkness.

    "I really am sorry about hitting you before."

    Scully smiled. "I know, don't worry about it"

    "Ender?" Scully began after a pause. "I know that it's got to be hard living like this. Especially with the gunmen.

    "Thanks Scully, I appreciate that, but don't worry too much about me, this place is a million times better than anywhere I've stayed in the past seven years and..." Scully picked up on the hints of sleep in ender's voice.

    "And?"

    "The gunmen aren't that bad, in spite of themselves, they're all great guys and...if it were up to me I don't think I'd rather be anywhere else."

    Scully sat back, a smile on her face. From the moment she had heard about a fourteen-year-old girl living with the lone gunmen, she had had her doubts. The gunmen weren't exactly the best role models for an impressionable young girl. Scully had to be the only female who regularly visited the headquarters. But hearing the words from Ender herself, she began to question her assumption that they couldn't care for a child. She was still a little uneasy though and added,

    "If you ever need to... talk. I'm here."

    Ender smiled into her pillow. "Even though I decked you?"

    Scully grinned. "Even though you decked me."

    "Thanks."

    "Anytime, Ender."

    Scully might have leaned over and kissed Ender's cheek, but she remembered Ender's cringing away from her before and thought better of it.

    After awhile the silent room filled with the steady rhythm of Ender's sleeping breath.


    Part IX.

    6:45AM

    Ender woke up two hours later, but managed to stop the screams this time by biting on her lip. Unfortunately she bit quite a bit too hard and blood began to pour from her mouth almost immediately, terrifying Byers, who had woken up an hour earlier and taken Scully's post so she could go to work.

    Byers rushed Ender into the bathroom and insisted upon cleaning the wound himself, Ender conceded, because it was rather difficult for her to argue with him in her condition. After he wiped the last of the blood from her mouth he was relieved to find the cut had not been as bad as he thought it was. He pushed Enders hair back from her face and held her close for a few minutes, calming her.

    "Are you happy?" he asked quietly.

    She looked back up at him questioningly.

    "Are you happy?" he repeated, "Here, I mean, are you happy here?"

    There were so many factors to consider, how could I answer a question like that, what was being happy really? I mean I was comfortable here, and I like the company, but its kind of unsafe and I'm risking my security and the security of othe...

    "Yes." My heart very rarely won when it went up against my mind, but this time no amount of rationalization could have changed my answer "Yeah, I am happy here..."

    I buried my face back into Byers' shirt. What I said next was the first thing I'd said without thought quite possibly in my life. "I am happy here, Dad."


    I sat at the breakfast table and watched Langly, Frohike and Byers arguing about the FBI's new Carnivore software. Though I had my opinions on the matter I sat content to listen to the three of them discuss the issue.

    Whenever I moved around I had a ritual to settle in. I'd look around and tell myself "this could be home for a while." I looked around now. I turned my head to the hum of the several dozen computers out in the main room. I looked back at the faces of the three men around me.

    "This could be home." I thought as I finally joined into the conversation.

    The End


    End note: Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game is where I got the Ender name. It's an excellent book, if you haven't read it yet you ought to.

     

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