Title: Mulder's Creek: 27. Roswell Revelations
Summary: Before Mulder and Sam return to Capeside, they go back to Candling long enough to get some horrific information about their father's workplace...and its plans for baby Price and others like him.
"All set," Sam declares as she steps back into the room in her night clothes. Mulder, who has been patiently waiting to use the bathroom wonders if she'd taken the time to brush her hair while in there to torment him for some obscure reason. The innocent look she gives him as he passes by her makes him reconsider that. Maybe she's just being a young girl after all.
Once he's washed up and changed for bed he asks Sam about the folder she gave him earlier that night. "How do you know Zane?" Paranoia spills into his voice. "Is he working for them?"
Sam shakes her head. "He doesn't work for them. They made him."
"What do you mean, they made him?" Mulder gives her a bewildered look.
"Some kids go to Candling because it's a school, just like it's pretending, which is why they let us in tonight. Those kids have a parent or parents who work there, mostly. Normal kids like me, you know?"
"Was Zane's Mom or Dad a teacher?" Mulder interrupts.
"No. There are two other types of kids too. Kids who are different, and kids who were supposed to be different but aren't. Zane is one of the second kind," Sam explains.
"How do you know he's the second kind?" Mulder presses.
"Because they let him leave when he grew up," Sam answers quietly. "I don't know why, I just know that's what happens," she adds, giving him an exasperated look.
Mulder finds the statement spooky, but lets it go temporarily. "Does he know that you can talk?"
"Probably not, or if he does he probably thinks I stopped for some reason. I was only five or so when he stopped talking to me at school."
"I...He didn't leave for a while after that, so it wasn't because he left. I can't remember why he stopped talking to me," she says, looking upset.
Midnight, Tuesday, Winkin, Blinkin and Nodd Inn-
Sam slips into a blue funk that Mulder can't seem to jolly her out of, so he gives up and thumbs through the pile of folders . Zane Archer, Spender Morgan, Samantha Leary, Price Leary, Mulder Leary. Mulder Leary? "What the hell?" Mulder asks aloud.
"What?" Sam asks, looking over at him.
"One of these folders is on me," Mulder tells her.
"So?" Sam asks.
"So there shouldn't be anything on me. I was never here or anything," Mulder says, shaking his head in bewilderment.
"So read it," Sam says, going back to her book.
Mulder frowns, wondering how she could have so little curiosity about his folder. It is thin compared to the ones on either of his siblings, which is why he hadn't noticed it earlier. He feels that he should look through the other folders first, but a burning desire to know what is in own grips him, and it proves too irresistible.
There's only one piece of paper which he pulls out and begins to read:
General Public Testing Report
Subject Leary, a bright and active four-year-old boy, approaches the tests with a lively curiosity. The subject shows very little ability in the form of precognition, and his correct responses may well be chalked up to chance...
Mulder puts down the paper, because a memory is swimming back to his consciousness.
His father picks him up from daycare, and gives him an ice cream cone. He explains that instead of going right home, they're going to go back to where he works. Mulder wonders if Daddy has forgotten something at work, but Mr. Leary says no. They're going to go see someone that he works with. When Mulder asks why, he's told that they're going to play some games. Since he's only four, this doesn't sound strange to him.
His father's coworker turns out to be an older woman who reminds Mulder of the librarian in the children's section. He's shy, but she offers to let him sit in a wheeled chair just like hers, and that breaks the ice. Mulder spends a couple of minutes playing with the chair, and she patiently waits for him to be settled.
Once he's ready to pay attention, she shows him a laminated poster the size of a placemat covered in strange symbols. Some look like balls, others like squiggles or stars. She shows him deck of cards that has the same symbols on them. She shuffles through the cards and tells him, "I'm going pick up a card and not show you, ok? I want you to try to guess which card I'm holding. You think about it then point on the poster at which one you think I'm holding."
Mulder laughs, and decides that it's a fun game. She holds up cards, and he points to symbols. She tells him that he's doing a good job, and writes some things he can't read down on a piece of paper. When they're all done she gives him a sticker book and tells him that he was a good helper. He leaves with his father and buries the seemingly insignificant memory for the next thirteen years.
Suddenly afraid to learn anything else, Mulder pushes aside the folders. He tells Sam that he's tired, so she tells him good-night and turns on her book-light instead. Mulder finds it slightly odd that she doesn't ask him about what he was reading, but soon falls asleep.
Tuesday 9am, Winkin, Blinkin and Nodd Inn-
The next morning Mulder plans to methodically go through the rest of the folders. The first one he picks up is the Spender Morgan folder. It contains stuff that makes him even sadder for the dead boy.
September 20th, 1989
Status Report: Martin
Rebecca Martin has quit her position at Candling. She had previously been informed that if she took this action, or threatened any legal action, her son would not be returned to her. Apparently this does not bother her, as she and her husband have sold their home in Maine and can not be located.
Her defection is an unpleasant blow to the project. We had hoped that we would be able to get her to relent, as we have in all but one other case after taking extreme measures, but it seems that we will have to continue without her genetic contribution to the project. This is rather unfortunate, as she is one of the employees with the highest scores we've recorded thus far.
Arrangements will be made for the boy.
December 29th, 1989
Status Report: Morgan
Subject Morgan is making progress. He responds to being called Spender, and no longer insists that his name is Scott. When asked he will report that his full name is Spender Ryan Morgan, and that the Morgans are his parents.
The Morgans have been flying out every other weekend to get to know young Spender. Once the boy is fully acclimated to his new identify, we will be sending him home with the Morgans. The Morgans have long been loyal to Candling, and it is for this reason that we have felt that they will make an appropriate family for the boy. We offered them the choice of the two remaining wards, and it came to as surprise that they chose the boy, who is older. Apparently they've always wanted a son, so his age was not an issue when they made their decision. It's just as well, since we might yet get an agreement out of the other child's parents.
Mulder puts the report aside, suddenly sure that "the other ward" is Sam. His head reels as he thinks about the fact that his sister might have once been offered to other people. It is only the whim of the Morgans that prevented his sister to grow up in Capeside. It scares him to think that she might have been that close her whole life, but would have been just as lost.
Mulder next reaches for Zane's folder, wondering how Sam's speech therapist fits into this puzzle. It surprises him a little that the papers on Zane started many years before Sam was even born
Subject Report: Archer
November 15th, 1979
Subject Archer is a healthy three-month-old infant. While he does seem unusually bright, as of yet he is not showing any signs of talent. However, since he is one of our first subjects, it's hard to gage when we should expect to see these things emerge. We will continue to closely monitor him.
Subject Report: Archer
September 30th, 1985
Subject Archer is settling into the first grade quite nicely. In retrospect it seems to have been a very good idea to keep our subjects at the facility for their education as well as observation and living arrangements. Archer's class is the second class of first graders.
Troubling is the fact that Archer, along with approximately one third of his age-mates, still shows no signs of talent. It has been concluded that in addition to producing many desirable subjects there were several nulls born as well.
The current plan for nulls is to continue to keep them at the facility in hopes that they will eventually show latent abilities. Those that never show any talent at all will be allowed to leave the facility at age eighteen after signing non-disclosure agreement. We believe that this will not lead to disaster, because being raised with the more desirable subjects should instill a proper respect for the puissance of our wish to keep the program private, and allow them to understand the likely consequences of breaking their agreements.
Mulder flips through several more reports that lament Zane's lack of "talent" and remark on his exemplary behavior and grades. He turns to the last report and reads it fully instead of skimming it.
Null Report: Archer
Subject Archer has been explained the non-disclosure policy, and seems rather unlikely to break it. The set back he experienced a while back seems to be very present in his mind, and the consequences of that seem to impress upon him the seriousness of our expectation that he not do anything to jeopardize the project. Thus far we've released seven nulls, and have no problems from them. We expect that Archer will continue this pleasant streak of problem-free releases.
Other than seeming slightly morose about the conversation regarding the non-disclosure, he seems to be in high spirits today, his eighteenth birthday. Although he is now free to go, he has chosen to remain here for the next six days, as he gets ready to start his Freshman year at the university of Connecticut. The fact that he is lingering leads the staff psychologist (the one hired for nulls) to believe that he harbors no ill will towards the facility, and that he will continue to be well adjusted when he leaves us.
Mulder wonders for a moment what sort of "set back with consequences" would be powerful enough to frighten someone into never speaking about how they were raised or why. And why is he being referred to as a null, a nothing?
"Sam, would you mind if I take a walk? I need to clear my head a little."
Sam looks at him and sees the tension etched across his face. "Sure, go ahead. I'm a big girl, you don't have to worry constantly about me." She tries to sound bright and cheerful, but Mulder still looks troubled as he leaves the room.
Mulder returns to the room with a large paper bag tucked under one arm. Sam gives him a tentative smile. "I thought you were taking a walk."
"I did, and it's the strangest thing, I found this bag," Mulder says with a grin.
"What's in it?" Sam asks, pleased to see him looking happier.
"I don't know, I didn't look." He waits to see if she'll play along, then makes a show out of opening the bag. Peering inside, his eyes widen, then he reaches inside. "Looks like a pint of Ben and Jerry's chocolate ice cream..." he puts that on the desk, and reaches into the bag with both hands. "It seems to be...yes, it's a chocolate cake with white frosting!" He exclaims, putting it with the ice cream." Oh, look there's also plates and forks, how thoughtful of someone." Sam smiles at him. He rattles the bag. "I think there's still something in here, why don't you see what it is?"
Sam takes the bag from him and pulls out a package that manages to be long, flat, and lumpy all at the same time. "Looks like a present," she comments.
"Maybe we should bring it to the local police and turn it in. We wouldn't want to deprive someone of a gift." He peers down through the plastic cover of the cake. "Although, whoever it belongs to seems to be named Sam, too."
"Mulder!" Sam exclaims, tiring of the game.
"Oh, all right, maybe you should open it."
Sam strips off the wrapping paper, and two things spill out of the package: a book and a cardboard and plastic container. "Oh my gosh, thank you!" she squeals, throwing her arms around Mulder's neck.
"Watch the cake." He teases. "You really like your present?"
"Yes, of course. I've wanted this book about Batman for practically ever, but since I couldn't tell Mom and Dad... and I really like the Spiderman action figure too."
"I'm glad," Mulder says, pleased that there was a comic book store nearby since he hadn't had the chance to shop before they left home. "I have something else for you too..." he adds shyly. Sam gives him an expectant look while he rummages through the backpack. He yanks out a yellow paper bag and hands it to her.
Sam can't quite figure out what it is until she spills the bag's contents onto her bed. Several envelopes land on the spread. She gives Mulder a questioning look.
He looks embarrassed, but pleased. "I couldn't get the first one until I was seven, since I didn't have any money to spend when I was younger than that, but there's one there for every birthday from your third on."
Sam looks shocked. "You bought me birthday cards?"
"Mom and Dad pretended your birthdays were just normal days, but... I kept buying them, hoping that I'd be able to give them to you some day. So you would know that I knew you would come back to us some day."
"Mulder, I don't know what to say..." She picked up the cards, and tried to decide which one to open first.
It's not until the picture falls onto the bed that Mulder realizes that it came with him, stuck between two of the cards. Sam's hand reaches out and picks it up. "What's this?" she asks before she really looks at it.
"I think it's you," Mulder tells her, remembering the trip he and Scully took to Mystic Connecticut the November before. "It was taken near home, though, so I can't figure it out how that could be if they kept you here your whole life.
Sam's eyes widen as she looks at the small faded photograph. "I remember this. Oh my God, Mulder. Zane!"
Mulder gives her a concerned look. "What about Zane?"
"Give me a minute and I'll tell you, ok?" Sam says breathlessly. After a moment she's gathered her thoughts. "Remember how you told me that you finally remembered what happened to me? While we were at the movies?"
"Of course," he says thinking of the more recent occurrence of that as well.
"Well, now I know what you meant about something rushing back to you. I did leave here once, but I forgot about it," Sam says, her brow wrinkling as tries to figure out how to explain what has come back to her.
"Zane took you somewhere?" Mulder asks gently. He wants to understand, but doesn't want to push her.
Sam takes a deep shuddery breath. "Someone, this older man, started watching me. I was probably four or five, pretty little, you know? He asked me questions, and was nice to me. Told me jokes and stuff. He talked to Zane a lot too, I saw them together sometimes. I think Zane was your age then, not quite grown up, but a lot older than me. Some times the man would point me out to Zane, and if I noticed, I waved."
When Sam pauses for breath it is all Mulder can do to keep from asking questions. Since he doesn't want to break her concentration he behaves himself. Sam's hands kneed the blanket, but he doesn't think she realizes what she's doing. "One night I woke up and realized that there was someone standing over my bed. It was Zane. He put his finger to his lip, then led me out of the room. Our friend was waiting for us, and we quickly left the building. I didn't really know what was going on, but I trusted them, so I went with them without a second thought."
Sam looks over to make sure he's listening. He nods. "We went on a plane. I was sleepy, but I sort of listened to them. The man was supposed to be taking Zane to Boston to look at a college. Maybe for a summer program? It's hard to remember their conversation since I didn't really understand it, but I guess they were letting Zane go because he turned out not to be special. Anyway, he had permission to take Zane away, but not me. He wasn't allowed to go where the little kids were, but since Zane was a kid too he was allowed to go wherever he wanted without people bothering him, so that's why he got me. I fell asleep after that."
"So the man took you away when he wasn't supposed to."
"Apparently. When I woke up they got a car and we drove to these little cabins. I was confused since I thought that we going to a school for Zane, and there were no schools there."
"Just a bunch of little log cabin," Mulder commented.
"Yup. The man said that we were going to go to Zane's school a little later on, but first we were going to meet some people. Mulder, I think he meant Mom and Dad," Sam says, giving him sad look.
"What makes you say that?" Mulder asks. His heart squeezes in his chest. All he can think of is what could have been if his family had gotten her back eight or nine years earlier than they had.
"He made a phone call and sounded really happy. I got bored and decided to play outside. Zane said we could do something neat to the trees."
"Zane helped you carve your initials into the tree," Mulder interjects.
Sam gives him a startled look. "Exactly. When we got back inside it was about an hour later, and he wasn't alone. At first I thought that maybe it was the people we were supposed to be, but our friend was arguing with them. One of them hit him. That made me cry. He said that they couldn't take me, but one of them picked me up and put me in the car. They told me to be quiet, they wouldn't hurt him. Eventually there was another plane, and before I knew it we were back here."
Mulder was almost afraid to ask, "What happened to this friend of yours?"
"I don't know, and I'm afraid to think about it. I never saw him again. I don't think Zane got in trouble, though, since I saw him a few times before he left. He pretended not to know me anymore, though, so I learned not to wave.That's what I couldn't remember last night."
Mulder decides to change the subject. "We should probably eat this before the ice cream melts. Sam nods, also happy to be able to focus on more pleasant things.
2pm, Reel Deals-
Doggett attempts to put the stickers with the store's new name on them on the videos and DVDs , while being followed around, and asked questions.
"What's this one about?" A video is waved near his eyes.
"Um... It's about a pair of roommates that make a vow that they'll kill themselves if the don't find true love by their 30th birthdays."
"That's so romantic...what's this one about?"
"A girl gets her neighbor to pose as her boyfriend so they can make his ex and the guy who rejected her jealous."
"I like the sound of that... and this one?"
Doggett sighs. "It's a story that follows the love lives of four couples. An older couple who is thinking of breaking up, one having an affair, a woman who is reluctant to get involved with a nice guy, and a young couple who are held apart by his personal problems."
"Oh! And this one?"
"A remake of The Taming Of The Shrew, set in a high school." Doggett gently pushes the video away from his face. "Sweetie, I know you could read the backs of the boxes as easily as have me give summaries, so I have a feeling that you're trying to make a point here somehow."
Reyes bats her lashes at him. "Am I that obvious?"
"I'd like to say yes, but I'm not sure that I understand what the point is. You want to break up or commit suicide?"
"No!" She gives him an exasperated look. "They're romantic comedies, and I want to spend time watching them with you. Get it now?"
"I wish I didn't," Doggett says with a wry grin.
"You watch the icky romantic movies tonight, and I'll go with you to the racetrack this weekend. We can watch the cars varooommm around the muddy track. What do you say?"
"You drive a hard bargain, but deal." Doggett doesn't tell her that he would have watched movies with her for nothing more in exchange than the chance to spend time with her.
* In order: If Lucy Fell, Drive Me Crazy, Playing by Heart, 10 Things I Hate About You
5pm Winkin, Blinkin and Nodd Inn-
Mulder saved the most painful folders for last. He glances over at Sam, who is engrossed in her new book, and then reaches out for her folder. He wants her to be able to read it as well, but a protective instinct tells him that he ought to preview the contents first...to see how devastating they will likely be to her. Unlike the other folders, most of the documents on Sam seem to be in a more casual, narrative form. An unknown author addresses an unknown audience.
May 2nd, 1989
First, it's unfortunate that Leary's wife became pregnant with their second child before the couple could be recruited for our new project. However, since the child is due in a matter of only two months, we hope to include them by December. Their child will be four months old at such a time, so another pregnancy at that point would not be completely unreasonable from a physiological standpoint.
However, the wife is hysterically opposed to participating. At first we thought it was the thought of having two babies so close in age, which is understandable. In an effort to address that we offered to hire a nanny to care for both babies, confident that this would conquer her reservations. That was not to be the case. We then tried to convince her that we would be allowing her and her husband to raise the child we wished her to have, but this too turned out not to be the source of the problem.
At this point it's unclear if someone said something to her to scare her, or if she's merely the victim of her own over-active imagination, but she's afraid. Some how she's become convinced that the prescient project babies are monsters. So far, we have not been able to change her mind, despite our assurances that all our babies have been perfect. We have gone so far as to show her two of the non-resident babies who live in her area, but she simply accused us of showing her different babies.
Since the Learys are not unique in their refusal, it's all the more troubling. It'd beginning to seem that the drastic measures that were suggested at the last meeting may become regrettably necessary for the project to continue, after all.
We have procured baby Leary as our hostage, as planned. However, things did not go as smoothly as hoped. Traumatizing the hostage's four-year-old brother had not been part of the plan, for example. Our associates explained that his waking up made their actions necessary, but it doesn't excuse them.
It's unfortunate that things happened the way they did, since the staff member who met him said that he's a likable little chap, if not a suitable hostage. It was in fact, the report of their meeting that lead us to chose the baby instead; even at his young age he is resilient and beginning to become self-reliant. We felt that his parents would worry less about him because of the strength of his young character.
Back on the subject of the hostage...like most two-week-old babies, she is indifferent to her caretakers and surroundings as long as her needs are being met, which they are. This in fact, makes her a perfect hostage from our point of view, as it terrifies her parents without harming her in the least.
Let me stress that it is not our aim to make this child suffer. She's our pawn, our tool to get her parents to cooperate. We plan to let them worry about her for a while before revealing our demands
Mulder feels a moment of self-hatred when he realizes how relieved he is that their taking Sam really wasn't about anything that he could have done differently. Even if he'd done better at the "test" they still wouldn't pick him. The guilt that he'd felt since learning about Spender's abduction fell away, but he couldn't stop feeling angry at himself for feeling better. Sam didn't get to feel better, so why should he?
November 27th, 1993
Doctor Ascot has been dealt with, and subject Archer will no longer be able to speak to Samantha as a consequence of the part he played in the fiasco. We don't believe that the boy presents any danger to her, and we realize that he was an impressionable youth following the directives of a man he greatly admired, but their separation is for Samantha's sake.
She was quite traumatized by the incident, and a continued association with Archer is likely to reinforce the unpleasant memory. Given her tender years she may well forget it if there are no reminders.
We believe that Ascot may have photographed the girl, but we were unable to find a camera.
September 8th, 1994
Setbacks... Samantha is growing into a lovely child, and is now attending kindergarten with the nulls and the staff's children who are schooled here. She's a favorite among the staff and other children, but she's shy and quiet despite our attempts to socialize her. It's slightly worrisome, since she'd been much more out going as a toddler and preschooler.
We had hoped that we would be returning her to her family soon, since the Learys finally agreed to participate in the project. Unfortunately, the first attempt was a failure, and Mrs. Leary miscarried at six weeks. They do not seem eager to try again.
The current plan in place for Samantha is to continue to school her here and release her at age eighteen, if her parents do not produce a child for us. It's unfortunate, but as nice a child as she is, she must continue to serve as an example of what results if we are defied.
July 23rd, 2001
To everyone's surprise, the Learys came to us and asked if they could try again. We assume that the tick of their biological clocks is what propelled this startling decision, but we did not ask why they waited seven years, instead only expressed our pleasure at their acquiescence.
May 10th, 2002
Plans are to release Samantha to her parents care within the next few hours. We received a call early this morning to inform us that Mrs. Leary was in the early stages of labor. The baby, a boy, is expected to be delivered some time today.
One of the staff will be accompanying Samantha on the plane and bringing her to the hospital where she will be reunited with her parents. The staff member will await confirmation of the birth before explaining to her the purpose of the trip. We expect her to docilely follow the orders from adults, as it is her nature.
Mulder sighs as he puts his sister's file aside. All of it had really been to hurt their parents after all. A child was subjected to over twelve and a half years of separation from her family just so people with power could prove some sort of a point and bend someone's will. It makes him incredibly sad for his sister. He can't understand how the person who wrote the files could have convinced his or herself that what they'd done had not harmed Sam. It had hurt her immensely.
However, the startling revelation that his mother had had a miscarriage instantly makes sense to him. *He'd have been nine at the time, which is when his parents had their last argument about Sam. The one that preceded his mother tearfully purging the house of all reminders of Sam, which Mulder later rescued from the trash. His mother's accusations that his dad didn't care about Sam, and his father's insistence that they move on now had a context. The argument must have been about whether or not they should try again after the miscarriage. He too wonders why they took seven years to change their minds.
* refers to events recounted in episode 1x04
Mulder's hands tremble as he reaches for Price's folder. It was hard enough to read about the pawn, what fresh horror would be recounted about the prize?
The first few reports in Price's folder are more about their mother than the baby himself. They report that the IVF procedure was successful, and that the pregnancy was normal and relatively easy considering Mrs. Leary's age. It's not until the tenth of May that the reports begin to be about Price-the-person rather than Price-the-unborn-fetus.
Subject Report: Leary
May 10th, 2002
His parents have chosen to call him Price Willem Leary. Biweekly exams with parents have been scheduled.
Mulder skims the first two reports, half eager and half scared to read the one from Price's sixth week.
Subject Report: Leary
June 17th, 2002
Mother has reported that Price has shown his first sign of talent. This is slightly precocious as most babies don't begin to show signs until 3-4 months old, but he is within the normal range.
We hastened to assured his parents that babies and toddlers tend to only show sporadic bursts of talent, and an early sign such as this isn't normally an indicator that they will need to worry more than usual about him endangering himself.
The talent that was reported is among the rarer ones that prescient project children typically possess, so it should be interesting to see how strongly it develops. However, controlling non-human creatures' behaviors is not something we have a practical application for at the moment. If Price's contemporaries begin showing this more frequently, there are uses that could probably be found for it.
Useful for what? Mulder worries. The only things the report confirms are that Price's play with the butterflies had a significance, and that he was not the only one to notice it. He wonders if his parents will eventually ask for help documenting "signs of talent" and hopes for once to be left out of things. He picks up the file again, hoping that one of the remaining reports will shed light on what Candling's interest in his brother is.
Subject Report: Leary
July 22nd, 2002
Price is not showing any additional signs of talent, which is not atypical. His mother, however, seems pleased about this, and there is some concern that she believes that her son is ordinary. The truth is that none of the prescient project children is ordinary. They are more human than human. This, however, is not very reassuring to a mother, as we understand.
We have tried to impress upon her that we stand by our promise not to interfere with her family's upbringing of young Price, and that we never remove non-resident children from their families: only children born of surrogates are expected to be schooled by Candling, and we will be only as intrusive as requiring bi-weekly exams throughout his childhood. None of this soothes her fears.
We are thinking about starting a parents' group, including the other parents of non-resident project children in the area, so that she and a couple other wary parents can benefit from those parents who are more resigned to the parts that their children will one day play in the grand scheme of things.
That's all there is. Just a few reports faxed from home, and not a single additional scrap of information about this prescient project or their plans for the sweet helpless infant who isn't even old enough to sit up on his own yet. Mulder groans, he needs more information. Fortunately, he thinks he can get some help on the matter.
After Mulder finishes reading the files he turns to his sister. Sam is still reading her birthday present, and toying with a second piece of cake. She looks so happy that Mulder feels bad about disturbing her, but disturb her he must.
"Sam, I'm done with the files. You should read them now."
"I don't want to," Sam replies, hardly glancing up.
"Well, I guess it can wait a little while if you're at a good part of the book, but-"
"I meant I don't want to read them at all," she interrupts.
"There's some really important, and upsetting, stuff in there about you and Price," Mulder tells her, beginning to get upset.
"You can't make me read them," she challenges with a smirk.
"You're right about that, but I don't understand why you're so indifferent to all of this," Mulder spits out.
Sam's eyes are luminous with anger and sorrow. "I'm not indifferent to any of this."
"Then why don't you care about the truth? We both wanted to know."
She shakes her head hard. "That's not so. You assumed. You never asked my opinion. Never. Not once. Finding the truth is your all consuming passion not mine."
Mulder throws up his hands in exasperation. "How could you not want to know the truth?"
To his horror, Sam's eyes fill with tears. Most boys would have made their sisters cry at a much younger age, but he's not most boys. His heart feels like it's bleeding when the tears spill down her cheeks.
"To you, to you the truth is a thing." Sam sobs. "Something interesting, to be learned about, like science or math. It's. My. Life. Don't you get it? The truth you're looking for is my life. I had to live it. I don't want to remember it, remembering is confusing and it hurts. I don't want the truth enough to hurt, I want to forget and be a normal girl, with a normal family, but you won't let me."
Feeling like he's the most retched person on Earth, he starts to reach for her, to offer her comfort, but he stops himself. "Sam...I'm sorry that I've hurt you. But I can't promise that I won't do it again. If it was just you it would be different, but I love our brother as well," he says gently. "I know you love him too."
Sam nods and the movement of her head splatters some of her tears across her cheeks. "Of course I do."
Tears sting in Mulder's eyes too. "Because we love him, and want the best for him, I need to find out more. I wish I didn't have to, but those reports, they make me think that Price needs us to protect him, and we can't do that if we don't know everything. I can't let them hurt another baby. I just can't," he finishes brokenly.
Sam scoots closer, to him, and nods resignedly. "But it's not your fault. Nothing that happened to me is your fault."
"Whether it is or not is something we could go back and forth on all day, kiddo. What if you don't go back? I'll need to tell you what I learn, but what if you don't go back to Candling with me? Maybe you could stay back at the café and talk to one of the girls."
Sam leans up against her brother and puts her arm around his waist. "I could deal with that," she whispers.
Mulder nods and looks at his little sister. He knows he's asking so much of a thirteen-year-old, so much... "You're a good person, Sam. A good sister." Neither of them say anything else, and they sit together for a long time, waiting for their tears to dry and the fear and funeral atmosphere to leak out of the room.
10: 05 pm, Crash Down Café-
Liz flips the sign in the window from open to closed. Maria looks up from re-filling a napkin holder and asks her best friend," Do you think we'll see those kids again?
Liz shrugs her shoulders. "I don't know. They're not from around here, and they're supposed to be going home Thursday, so if we do it'd have to be soon."
"Maybe it's just the wishful thinking talking, but I don't think that we've seen the last of them."
"Wishful thinking because of the boy, I'm sure." Liz smirks.
"He's cute," Maria defends herself. "Strange name, but those eyes, those lips..." She smiles. "The way talking about him has the potential to make a certain alien we know jealous..."
"You're terrible!" Liz laughs. She feels a certain empathy regarding complicated human-alien relations.
There's a sharp rap on the front door, which startles them both. Maria catches sight of a pale face out in the dark. "Speak of the devil," she mutters as Liz gets up to unlock the door.
Mulder looks gray-faced and out of sorts when Liz lets him in. He casts them an apologetic look. Um hi...sorry it's so late. Look, first I wanted to tell you again how grateful I am that you and your friends helped me get those files-"
"But now you're read the files and they're upsetting enough to make you want to go back," Liz shrewdly guesses.
Mulder swallows hard and nods. "The stuff about why they took Sam and why was hard enough to read but..." His voice drops to a near-whisper. "We have a little brother back home. Sweet little guy, just three months old. Those files allude to plans they have for him..."
Liz finds herself unusually glad to be an only child. "I'm going to call Max and Isabel right now."
Wednesday 12:30pm, Witter home-
"Doggett! You have a guest!" his mother's disembodied voice floats into his room. Doggett groans and turns off the tv. He'd been watching cartoons on the Disney channel, which isn't something he wants his friends knowing about. He has a certain reputation to maintain, after all.
He's surprised to see Scully standing in the living room, enduring small talk from his mother. "Hey, what's up?" he asks.
"Bessie made too many clams for lunch, so I wondered if you'd eaten yet," she says, holding up a bag from Ice House.
His stomach gives an appreciative leap once the smell reaches his nose. "Nah, I haven't gotten around to that. Let me grab us a couple of sodas and plates. We can eat at the picnic table."
"Ok, it's a nice day for it," she replies.
A few minutes later, after they've divvied up the clams, Doggett finally asks her, "So...why have lunch with me?"
She shrugs. "Let's see...my boyfriend has gone off to his aunt's house for the week, Reyes is trying to drive Fowley insane over the Zane thing, and I haven't seen much of you this summer. Will any of those reasons do?"
Doggett grins. "Awww, you missed me. I'm touched."
"Don't worry, my aim is getting better," she assures him with an evil grin. "I can't believe that the summer is almost over."
"Me neither. But I'm happy enough to put off school for a while."
"I thought you were looking forward to being a junior."
"I am. I'm just not looking forward to the spring," he says between bites.
"Four letter word. Something that Reyes is going to go way overboard about and drive us all insane over."
"The prom?? She can't be thinking about that yet!" Scully exclaims.
"You'd think so, but she's already dropping hints," is Doggett's morose reply.
"Awe, come on. You knew this was coming, no reason to let it ruin the entire school year for you."
"I was thinking, maybe I could fall into a convenient coma until May..."
"With your luck she'd find a way to get you there anyway. I can just picture it. Her all dressed up in a pretty dress, you wearing a johnny and being pushed, unconscious, in a wheelchair. Your hairy legs all pale and spindly, jaw slack ..."
Doggett covers his face with his hands. "I'll get you for putting that picture in my head." He lowers his hands and gives her a more serious look. "Things are better now, right?"
"What do you mean by better?" She gives him a puzzled look.
"Well, when we went to the Zoo back before school let out things were tense all around. But now that Sam is back, and that whole business about Spender is over with, they're ok now, right? And we are too."
Scully nods, thinking about how upset they'd been over the secrets. "I think that everything is going to be smooth sailing from here on out."
"I'm sure you're right," Doggett says cheerfully, turning his attention back to lunch.
7pm Crash Down Café-
"You should try a galaxy shake. They're our house specialty," Maria says to Sam. Instead of a sky blue uniform, Maria is wearing black shorts and a white tank top. It's her night off, so she's eating dinner with Sam.
"Ok, sure," Sam agrees shyly. She thinks it's nice of the older girl to hang out with her why they wait for Mulder and the others to get back. Unfortunately, Sam's self-inflicted silence has left her rather inept at conversing with anyone but her brother.
It doesn't bother Maria, however, who has enough words for the both of them. "I'll get Liz to make you one, then." Once Liz had gone after it she gives Sam a conspirital grin. "Don't tell Liz I told you this, but that blond you met earlier tonight? Liz can't stand her."
Sam blinks. The girl, Tess, seemed nice enough. "Why?"
"Tess has a thing for Max." Maria tells her, leaving out the aliens, destiny and reincarnation bits. "That tends to cause friction between people, you know?"
Sam nods, but she doesn't, not really. The idea of relationships hasn't really taken root in her brain yet, beyond being a passive observer to those of older people's around her. But she knows that Maria is looking for an agreement, so she nods.
"I knew you were a bright kid!" Maria praises her before entertaining her with stories about Michael while they wait.
Meanwhile, Candling School-
Since the plan is to go into the school and ransack an office instead of merely grabbing a few files, Max decided that he needed Tess's help. No one liked the idea, least of all Liz, since she and Maria were staying behind, and she wouldn't be able to keep an eye on her rival. Alex promised to report back, but the look Liz greeted the suggestion with convinced no one of her happiness with the plan. Since Max is de facto ruler, the others deferred to him despite the grumbling.
Everyone but Mulder had breathed a sigh of relief once Tess and Liz were headed in different directions. He didn't know any of them well enough to understand the nuances to the tension in the air, and his mind was more on his sister than any squabbling between his new friends.
He's happy that leaving her behind this time will cause her less anguish, but he feels alone. The others are kind enough to offer him aide, but he alone has any personal stake in the success or failure of the mission, at least beyond the desire not to get caught. The knowledge of that makes him feel an aching loneliness. Although he's not sure he'd be any less alone with her there.
At first he was confused as to why it was decided that Alex's computer hacking skills were deemed necessary. "Can't you guys just..?" He'd asked Max, waving his hand in the way Isabel had while copying the files.
Max, not a person usually given over to mirth, laughed. "My sister, who is the strongest of us in that regard, probably could make a duplicate of the entire computer. I don't think that toting it out of the building would aide us in a clean get away, though." He pretended not to notice Mulder's red cheeks. "An every day, but intelligent, person like Alex is our best bet."
Mulder nodded, and decided to make an small intrusion, hoping he'd be forgiven his trespass. "Do you remember when you lived at Candling school?"
Max shook his head, since he never had he of course didn't. "No. None of us remembers anything that happened before we were found wandering the desert, naked, when we were six years old. Even after that the first few days after I was adopted are blurry." He sounded so truthful that Mulder accepted it as the unvarnished truth, without the rest of the details.
While what he'd told Mulder had been true, Max had within the past few months remembered the events immediately prior to the ones he described: His, Michael, and Isabel's escape from the ship they'd incubated within for decades; their reluctant abandonment of the sleeper who would become Tess... "Don't feel too bad for me, though." Max gave a small smile. "We're happy enough now to make up for the lost memories." He concluded with less conviction. Sensing that the subject is more painful than Max let on, Mulder didn't ask any more questions.
Now, back in Candling for the second time, Mulder has little time to think about Max's past. Michael and Isabel go to the first floor, promising to provide a distraction. Mulder assumes that this will be of an equipment failure nature, because, for reasons he doesn't quite understand, he and the remaining two boys are wearing repairmen uniforms. The girl, Tess, on the other hand is dressed normally for a hot August day.
Tess stops at the end of the hallway and whispers " Go on to the office. I'll keep an eye out." Max and Alex nod, and Mulder shrugs, maybe they could use a lookout.
Downstairs Isabel and Michael work on providing the building's staff a little entertainment. Isabel takes the opportunity to dream-walk a employee dosing in the break room. They already had a general idea of where they'd find the circuit breakers, but a little interference in the man's already mundane dream helps them pinpoint the location exactly.
"Did you get what you needed?" Michael asks her once she's done manipulating the man's dream.
"Yup, it's one floor down from this hallway exactly." Isabel smiles softly to herself, knowing that the dreamer will probably not mind the fact that a pretty girl entered his dream long enough to ask directions.
"Ok, then, let's do this," he replies, leading the way to the stairs.
The hallway is, by either fortune or the simple virtue of it being in the basement, dark and deserted. They make a bee-line for the circuit breakers. Isabel pries the door to the small box open, then nods to Michael. "I'm pretty sure that's a water pipe." She points. "Maybe you can see if you can do anything to it."
"Why not?" He shrugs, then gives her a grin. "Don't tell Maxwell, but this vigilante stuff is kind of fun."
"Righting wrongs where ever we go, sure that's us," she intones dryly, rolling her eyes.
"Or wronging rights." He quips back as he examines the water pipe in question.
Her eyes immediately locate the circuit breaker for the floor they want to target- the first- taking care not to confuse it with the floor the others are on. "On the count of three, ok? 1...2...3...!"
She places two fingers along the lever for the circuit she's aiming to destroy, and concentrates. Within a few seconds she can feel a faint heat under her fingers, which she snatches away before the melting plastic sticks to them.
If Isabel wields her power delicately, Michael uses his like a sledgehammer. He holds up one hand in the direction of the offending pipe, and releases a wave of power with a blue-white shimmer. The pipe bursts, showering them both with water which they quickly back away from.
"That should do it. Let's get out of here," Isabel says, grabbing him by the hand.
Mulder looks on anxiously as Alex types rapidly. Alex keeps up a running comentary as he works. "I've just about...almost...ok, got it!" he exclaims as he finds a backdoor to override the password protection. "This was easier than hacking into the FBI database."
Mulder nods, not really getting the FBI comment, and gives Max a nervous look while Alex searches the hard drive. "That girl, Tess, she's keeping a look out for trouble right?"
Max gives him a measuring look, trying to anticipate his reaction. "Strictly speaking? No."
"Tess is...special. Even for people like us. She can make people see things that aren't quite reality. She doesn't make thing up completely, so props like our uniforms make it easier on her, but she can make people believe we're supposed to be here. Don't worry." Max tries hard not to smile...He's never been able to explain their powers to anyone who would believe him and not endanger them, or being endangered by them, by getting them involved in what the humans refer to as "alien business." So he finds helping Mulder refreshing.
"I promise to try not to worry," Mulder tells him, hoping to keep his word.
While they've been chatting, Alex has found the file. "Ok, there's actually only one big file on this computer beyond the basic operating stuff. It's a document and when I skimmed it, it had the 'prescient project' thing right at the top of the page." The cd-rom drive pops open. Alex grabs the disk out and puts it in its case. "Here you go. Sorry they're not time to print it."
"Hey, no, this is great," Mulder says, slipping the case into a pocket of the uniform. "Thanks a lot."
A few minutes later they, and Tess, leave the building unnoticed amidst the chaos the lack of power and flooding on another floor are causing. No one gives them as second glance.
Thursday 8am, Roswell Public Library-
Mulder believes that he can sleep on the plane ride home, which is why he got up early to come here rather than get an extra hour of sleep like Sam is doing. He yawns as he waits for the computer to boot. Having gotten there when the library opened means that he gets first crack at the patron computers, but it also means that he has to sit through the machine's start-up process. He doesn't mind though, since it only makes his way a few minutes longer.
His first impulse, the night before, had been to take the disk immediately to the all night print place that mainly catered to college students. He mentally nixed the idea when he realized that the clerk doing the printing would see the document. He trusted his new friends, but remained wary of everyone else in the desert town.
It had been difficult to say good-bye the night before. The two waitresses had taken a shine to Sam, and thought she was "a neat kid." Mulder himself found it difficult to find the words to fully express his gratitude. In the end they exchanged addresses and promised to keep in touch. If ever asked, Mulder intended to tell his parents that they were pen-pals from a class project.
The computer finally finishes loading, and as he begins reading he's glad to be in a public space, which helps him keep from over-reacting.
Candling Industries- Prescient Project
Candling industries is committed to providing quality information gathering operatives. Our operatives are highly trained, and come to their employers with the assurance that they are the best that money can buy. Operatives are suited to infiltrating objectives as well as recognizance. Our operatives possess such talents as precognition, mind reading, remote viewing, telekinetics, and mind control.
Candling itself has been in business for over 50 years, and has been involved with genetic research since the beginning. Candling initially began with the idea of furthering the efforts of the food industry, and breeding better livestock. Before long the business began to branch out and explore the possibilities of affecting human pain and suffering...and monetary gain.
The Prescient Project itself began in 1977, and for the past 25 years we've been committed to the creation of better spies. Our initial vision was to use eugenics to create perfect spies, but it was soon evident that this would not be the most effective means of reaching our objectives.
Some of our first subjects are quite good in their own right. They are the result of selective breeding. Their parents, recruited into the project, showed natural talents towards mental powers. Some of the oldest of our subjects have very obviously inherited their parents' gifts. However, eugenics failed to provide a steady source of quality subjects. In fact several nulls- those with no gifts- also resulted. Fine, productive members of society they may be, they are not what we were aiming for. Least prospective clients fear otherwise, let us assure you that nulls are treated with the utmost respect as their short-comings are hardly their fault; nulls leave our project and go on to lead normal lives, as are fitting for them.
In 1988 we began something revolutionary: gene manipulation. As you probably have heard, scientists have begun to insert genes into zygotes and viruses to produce spectacular results. A well publicized example of the former is the creation of the rabbit Alba, who has jellyfish genes that make her glow in the dark. Inserting DNA into viruses, then injecting it into humans is already showing promise in treating diseases, such as progeria, that are caused by damaged genes which the injected DNA has been able to repair. Our work predates the earliest public announcement of either sort of development.
We have isolated the gene that triggers the expression mental powers and can now insert it into human zygotes before implantation. The results of this have been extraordinary, as not only have there been no nulls produced through this method, the powers held by subjects are even stronger than those held by our oldest subjects.
Although it is slightly problematic that our most superior subjects are still young children, we have been able to use this to our advantage. While we do have several subjects who are currently acting as "controls" and are being raised by their families so we can study the progression of unfocused powers, the majority of our young subjects live in special facility so we can oversee them. There, in the facility, we are able to teach the children to use their powers, and, more importantly, train them in the ways of information gathering. The facility subjects are well trained by the age of ten years; and many of them are already being utilized by various interested parties. Many clients find that a young child, innocuous by nature, is the prefect recognizance operative as virtually no one is suspicious of a child who is pretending to be distraught over being lost. (note: no children in our program are approved for assassination missions; only operatives over eighteen years of age can be contracted for that sort of work.)
At the moment we have forty-five subjects who are ready for fieldwork, and expect, between control subjects we will be recalling at age eighteen and new births, to have over one hundred by 2012. There is a waiting list at the moment, so please make your requests for contracting one of our subjects at least four months in advance for recognizance work, and eight months in advance for wet-work.
Methods of Operation
In order to procure children for the project, we insist that all employees who are not infertile give one child to the cause. Those employees and their spouses who wish to raise the children undergo IVF. Those who do not are expected only to donate genetic material, which will be implanted in a surrogate. The children of the employees in the later group are raised at the Candling School for Exceptional Children. There we can monitor them closely, and help them learn to control their gifts.
The actual method of creating prescience in the children was actually relatively simple once we were able to isolate the gene that activates the usually latent extrasensory abilities that all humans theoretically possess. We have not had one failure since we've learned how to insert the gene into zygotes. All of the children with the gene have proven to have gifts.
In fact, there has also been no cases of deformity or any other ill effect of the gene insertion. The sole side effect is that, regardless of parental eye colors, all of the younger generation prescient program children have dark blue eyes. This has not proven to be a hindrance, as even a pair of brown-eyed parents can be carriers for the recessive blue gene, so there are no difficult questions to answer for in regards to their parentage. Since this was a wildcard effect, we are just thankful that they did not end up brown-eyed, which would be harder to deal with.
Mulder pushes the eject button on the cd-rom drive, making the words disappear from the screen abruptly. There was more in the document, but it is all he can take at once.
If Mulder had read the e-mails that Reyes had received- presumably from a spectral Spender- at one point, he would be even more distraught than his is, because they backed up the validity of the information in the project's history report.
As it is, Mulder puts the disk back in the case and covers his eyes with his hands. Price is in no immediate danger, but he pictures himself seventeen years from now, as a 34-year-old man sneaking into his childhood home and spiriting his teenage brother away to somewhere safe, where no one will want to use him as a spy, or assassin.
His despair comes not from the worry over the potential disruption to a life he's not yet living, since he would gladly sacrifice anything for his siblings, but from the incredulity he'd likely be met by in the process. Intimately familiar with the mental processes of a seventeen-year-old boy, he can't imagine that Price would ever believe him. He wouldn't believe someone telling him the same story, either.
Monday 8pm, Leary home-
A car pulls into the driveway, and Mulder goes to the window. His father is getting the bags out of the trunk, while his mother reaches back into the car to unhook the car-seat straps.
Mulder has felt anxious about their arrival since they called him the night before to say they'd be picking Price up on the way home. As they walk up the driveway, he has to remind himself that giving into the urge to snatch his brother out of his mother's arms and scream accusations at both his parents might make him feel marginally better, but would accomplish nothing productive.
Mr. and Mrs. Leary are smiling when they get into the house. Mr. Leary starts to put things away while Mrs. Leary speaks to her son. "Mulder, be a dear and take the baby so I can put my things down." She requests while handing over the placid infant. "So how have you two been? The house looks wonderful! I can't believe what responsible and thoughtful kids I have. You'd never know that you've been home by yourself for two weeks-"
Mulder's worries about accidentally saying something inappropriate evaporate when Sam runs into the room and throws herself at their parents. "Mom, Dad, you're home! I've really missed you!" she exclaims. Mulder is glad he's the one holding Price.
Produced by CC, KW and Neoxphile
< Voice Over>
This episode of Mulder's Creek featured music from:
Smashing Pumpkins ("To Forgive")
Tricky & PJ Harvey ("Broken Homes")
Stay tuned for scenes from the next Mulder's Creek
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