Title: Teapot in a Tempest
Series: Resurrection series, story #3
Summary: Now that the children had returned to us, we were set adrift on a stormy sea of consequence. (Scully POV)
Cameras flashed as I slammed the front door shut. Reporters had been circling the house all week like vultures waiting for an elderly zebra to drop. We had no intention of making ourselves willing prey.
I made my way through the house, checking to make sure that the children were out of range of telescoped camera lens. Already they were used to being told not to play near windows. And none of them were.
Mulder, however was another story. Staring furtively out a window on the second floor, he swore softly to himself. He turned to me. "This is a nightmare."
A slam behind us had us both spinning to confront an angry young face. "I knew it," Samantha said bitterly. "I knew you didn't want us."
"Samantha-" Mulder began, but he didn't follow the child when she ran out of the room.
Instead he sighed and rubbed his eyes. I knew that his sister wasn't entirely wrong. He'd grown up wanting to find his sister, his adult sister. Not this dependent child. He and I had a child, and weren't equipped to handle two more. But we must.
Not to mention that both he and I found the girls creepy. They weren't as eerie as the son in The Monkey's Paw, but they were disquieting nonetheless. Something about the way they moved and looked at people watered bowels.
William, however, after that first frightening introduction, didn't seem to think there was anything strange about his aunt or sister's sudden appearance in our lives. He simply didn't like them, in his sincere almost four-year-old way.
Too bad the same couldn't be said about the media. They'd grabbed on to the story as soon as it broke, and seemed to have no intention of letting go.
A week later we were still half ready to kill Doggett for letting their story leak. The very worst part was that he'd told them the bare truth.
October 31st, 2004
Although we were still dumbfounded by his declaration, it seemed lost on Doggett. Smiling broadly, he picked up Luke, then turned to his wife and daughter. "Ready to go?"
"What?" Monica asked, looking confused. "What?"
"Let's go home."
"John-" Monica began to protest, but he cut her off.
"Come on." He took her arm, and she seemed sort of dazed but went with him. In her arms Tabby stopped fussing since her adults seemed calmer.
Before I could think of something to say to keep them, they were outside and heading for Doggett's truck.
When I turned back, William was looking at me with wide, still frighten eyes. "Mommy, Uncle John took that scary boy."
"I know, William." I held my arms out, and he ran into them. We settled onto the couch, but he turned his back on everyone else.
Leaning so his mouth was near my ear he asked another question, this one meant to be in a whisper, but still loud enough for other people to hear. "What about the scary girls?"
I cast Mulder a helpless look. What about the scary little girls? What the hell were we going to do with two newly undead children?
Mulder, God bless him, was at least brave enough to attempt to answer the question. "William, these little girls belong to our family."
My son peeked at them over my shoulder. "They do?"
"Yes," Mulder told him, and I wondered how this conversation was going to go. His hand pointed at Samantha. "This girl is my sister, Samantha. That makes her your aunt."
"Oh." William said thoughtfully. "Like auntie Tara."
Braver now, he squirmed in my arms until he was looking at the girls directly. "But the other girl?"
I took a deep breath. "Her name is Emily. She was-" I winced internally for my poor choice of words."-is my little girl, too. She's your sister."
"Sister!" William yelped. "I don't has a sister!"
"Actually, you do, Baby," I tried to explain. William climbed off my lap and ran to Mulder. I was afraid that he'd get tangled in Mulder's crutches, but he seemed to remember them at the last second and dodged around them in time.
"William, Emily got very sick when she was younger than you. We thought she died. But it looks like we were wrong," Mulder told him.
"Uh uh," William denied.
I thought about trying to explain to him that she was really older than him, even though she looked younger, but I decided that would be a futile effort. He'd come to me just weeks before worried that Tabby was going to be older than him someday, so I realized that he was too young to understand anything about ages. In a way that would make things easier on him, because he wasn't capable of wondering yet why his father's sister was a little girl, or that his own sister, whom he'd never set eyes on before, was a little younger than he was.
"Yes," Mulder and I said at the same time.
"Are you ghosts?" William demanded of the girls. They shook their heads. "Then you are bad for scaring us!" he scolded them, then turned to his father for appeal. "They get punished, right?"
"Um..." Mulder stalled for time. "I didn't see what they did, William. It wouldn't be fair if I punished them for doing something when I didn't see it to know what happened."
I fully expected William to protest this, but it seemed to ring true to his fledgling sense of justice, perhaps because he was already learning to be sneakier about his own misdeeds. Apparently it didn't occur to him that I could meld out punishment too, because he simply commented, "Lucky girls."
Eventually, the girls became sleepy, just like real children. We'd long since put William to bed, but we hadn't gotten a chance to discuss what the next step would be. The yawns of increasing frequency told us that it was finding a place for them to sleep.
Emily was small so she fit into William's pajamas. The wrinkling of her nose indicated that she was not thrilled by wearing anything with baseball players on it, but she didn't complain. While I tucked her into the bed in the guest room, Mulder looked all over hoping to find something to put on his sister. The only thing that looked like it might fit was one of my slips, but I vetoed the idea. In the end he gave her a t-shirt to wear as a nightgown, and it came down to her calves in a pathetic way. She too was tucked into the guest room bed. As I left the room I considered locking the door, but decided not to.
Mulder was sitting on our bed, fully dressed, with his foot propped up on a pillow when I entered the bedroom.
"How's you're ankle?"
"Screw my ankle," he said sourly. "What are we going to do?!"
"As best as I can figure, we have two options."
"Which are what?"
"One, raise them. Or two, give them to social services to find homes for."
"We can't just give them away!" he sputtered.
I nodded. That hadn't been an option I liked either. "Then we keep them."
"How? If we try to tell people that we've got two kids that have been brought back from the dead, they'll throw us in the psych ward."
I stared at him, wondering where his head was at. "We won't tell anyone. We'll have one of our contacts forge birth certificates for the girls, showing that they're eight and almost three years old."
"Almost three years old? Emily turned three just before she died," Mulder pointed out.
"I realize that. But if we're going to pull this off, she needs to be ten months younger than William, not six months."
"We had them one right after the other, huh?" He smiled weakly. "What about school records? Emily doesn't have any, but Samantha was in the third grade when she was taken."
"We home-schooled her," I blurted out. "Those records have got to be easier to fake."
"But people are going to know that we only have one kid..." he fretted.
People can mind their own damn business, I thought angrily, but I knew that wasn't true. "Okay, the official story for the few people who'll dare to ask can be that we discovered that your father's people had them, and were keeping them as leverage against us. Now that he's dead, they gave them up. They had sick senses of humor and named them after the dead girls."
"Maybe it's true." When I looked at him, he added, "We really don't know how they got here."
"Yes we do. We evoked them with the spirit board and they came."
Imagine my surprise when one of my rare moments if faith in the paranormal was rebuked. "They'd like us to believe that."
The first thing we did the next day was to call in sick. Kimberly expressed some concern about there being an epidemic, since John and Monica had called in too. I heard Mulder tell her that he thought it might be food poisoning from something we'd eaten the night before, not anything contagious. I sincerely hoped that resurrection wasn't going to end up being an epidemic.
The girls were fairly subdued when they woke up, and that suited us okay. It was hard to grasp the fact that they were animated at all without being really animate. I felt bad when I make breakfast because I realized that in all the excitement of the night before, no one thought to make any dinner. So we'd all gone to bed without eating.
Emily needed help cutting up her pancakes, and Mulder seemed to do it on autopilot, doing hers before doing the same for William's. Watching them it was possible to pretend that we'd been doing this all their lives. But then I caught Samantha's sullen look out of the corner of my eye and the fantasy evaporated.
Trying to hold it together, if only for William's sake, I announced, "We're going shopping this morning." The girls looked at me, and I tried not to shiver.
"What for?" William demanded to know as soon as he swallowed a mouthful of pancake.
"Clothes for the girls, some toys for all of you, and a bunkbed set for the girls."
"A bunkbed?" Samantha asked with disdain. "Emily and I have to share a room, then?"
"Well, yes," Mulder told her, sounding too apologetic for my tastes. "There are only three bedrooms."
"Why can't she share a bedroom with him?" she demanded to know, pointing a finger at William. "They're real close in age."
"I don't like the idea of brothers and sisters sharing a room," Mulder said firmly, which surprised me. I'd of thought he'd let Samantha walk all over him.
"You didn't mind sharing a room with me when we visited Grammy summers." Samantha didn't seem to notice that we were both staring at her. This was the first indication we'd had that any of the kids remembered anything from before.
"Things change," Mulder said, leaving the words "even if you haven't" unsaid.
"Fine, Whatever," Samantha said, pouting and crossing her arms.
Even I have to admit that the girls were well behaved. The sullen look didn't leave Samantha's face the entire day, and she only agreed or declined suggestions for clothes in monosyllables, but at least she didn't throw any tantrums. Emily, on the other hand, just wanted to be picked up, just as William had until just months ago. Shaking off my revulsion, I scooped her up, and held her. I don't think people walking by realized that I considered it a fairly unnatural act.
After what seemed like weeks, but was probably only about three hours, we headed home. The car was stuffed with bags, and we had a promise that the bunkbeds and matching dressers would be delivered before bedtime that night.
Once all the bags were brought in, Mulder and I came to an unhappy realization: if they were bringing the furniture that night, we'd have to clear out the guest room that night. We sighed over that, until Samantha made an offer that shut us up "I can watch them, so they're not in the way."
If any other child that age had made the offer, I would have jumped at it. But Samantha wasn't any other child. For a moment I struggled with my inclination to tell her no thank you, I don't want you alone with my little boy, but rational thoughts prevailed. If she was going to do anything to William, it would have been last night, while we were sleeping. "Thank you, Samantha."
"We can open the new toys, right?"
"Yes, of course." If I knew my son, he'd be so engrossed in playing with the new Duplo blocks we bought him, he wouldn't notice if aliens landed in the room with them.
While the three of them played in the living room, Mulder and I hauled all the old furniture into the basement. It didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would, and we were done nearly two hours before the new stuff arrived. They even set everything up for us, which I considered good customer service.
That night, dressed in their brand new pajamas, and tucked into the bunks of the bunk bed, Emily and Samantha looked like they belonged there. They didn't look like tiny refuges like they had the night before. I turned out the light, shut the door, and walked away wondering if they'd be there to tuck in the next night. Billy Underwood hadn't been, his family had only had him back two days.
I think that's part of why I didn't make much of an effort the following day to get the paperwork we'd need. At that point I was still half-sure that we'd wake up the day after that to find the beds rumpled but empty. Most of the day was spent idle after claiming that we were still sick. Later Skinner called back and told us to take off the rest of the week, since we had accrued a lot of vacation time. I held my breath that night as I shut the guestroom door.
November 4th, 2004
In the morning they were still there. And the next morning too. Each morning I check to make sure that they were still real, and they were. Emily slept curled into a tight little ball, and I realized that was something new I was learning about her. When she'd been sick she'd been in a hospital bed and hooked up to tubes, which didn't offer her much choice in sleep positions. I'd never seen her sleeping any where else, except for that few minutes in the children's home.
"Morning," a voice announced, and I looked up to see Samantha staring down at me from the top bunk. It embarrassed me to be caught watching them sleep, but she didn't make much of it.
"Morning," I replied at length.
"I was thinking about school," she told me. It didn't take her long to climb down, and she managed to be so quiet doing it that Emily slept on, oblivious. "Is Luke going to the same school as I will?"
Luke. I had barely given John or Monica a thought since they left on Halloween night. God, what sort of friend was I to not even call and see how Monica was handling the unexpected return of her husband's son? "Um, I don't know yet. Maybe. There are a lot of schools in DC, though. Would you like to go to the same school?"
She shrugged. "I don't care. I just wondered."
In the next moment, we had another thing entirely to wonder about.
I almost tripped down the stairs in my haste, more than half afraid that some sort of disaster would greet me in the kitchen. In a way I was right, but I'd been bracing myself for a fire or maybe a bounty hunter. Instead I found Mulder visibly shaking as he balanced on his crutches. Before I could ask what was wrong, he slide something across the table. A newspaper. My eyes widened in horror as I began to read the front page article.
I pushed the paper away and sat down before my knees gave out on me. "Holy crap."
"Doggett has lost his damn mind!" Mulder railed. "How could he give an interview like that, and mention us, without warning us first?"
"He didn't want us to have a chance to talk him out of it."
"Obviously. We have twenty-seven voicemail messages on our landline. All of them from reporters. If I find out that John gave them our number, I'll brain him."
It was just as likely that one of the secretaries at the Hoover building gave it out, but I was in no mood to jump to John's defense. His little confessional piece had just complicated things ten fold.
All our plans on how to reintroduce the girls to the world shattered a thoroughly a glass dropped on a tile floor.
"We need a broom to sweep up the pieces."
"What?" Mulder asked, giving me a puzzled look. I hadn't realized that I'd said it aloud.
"There's got to be a way to salvage this situation," I told him instead.
It took a week of being plagued by reporters for Mulder and I to hit upon how we could remedy the situation. The solution had been staring us in the face, often quite literally if the drapes weren't properly shut, the entire time.
The media did not demand the truth. They demanded a story. When the truth is less plausible than a story, it's easy to convince them to swallow the story in its place. Or so our theory went. We didn't put it to the test until the middle of the month, when we contacted the most high profile news outlet who seemed to be interested in what had happened to us.
November 14th, 2004
The interview was a fairly painless event. I gave the answers that Mulder and I had carefully cultivated, and the interviewer didn't ask many questions that I didn't have a prepared answer for. As the ultimate curtsy, I was given a copy of the interview to watch to see if there was anything that I thought needed retaping before it aired that night.
An assistant lead me to a nice quiet room with a VCR, and left me to watch the tape in privacy. When I reviewed the tape, I could see that I looked nervous. It was so clear...but how many saw it as painful shyness, and how many saw lies?
The small me on the TV sat next to the interviewer, and looked more at her hands than the camera.
"So," my interviewer began. "You are here tonight to put the rumors of ghosts to rest."
I ignored his supposedly clever wordplay and focused on the question instead. "Yes."
"Is it true then, that you believe something different than Luke's father does?"
"I count John Doggett as both colleague and friend, but he is wrong," I told viewers by rote. "As wonderful as it would be to believe that these are the very children we lost, ghosts now resurrected, it's simply not true."
"Where does the truth lie, then?" That turn of phrase was the more clever, and he didn't even know it.
"Are you saying that these children are clones, then?"
"Exactly," I said with a straight face. "We -agent Mulder and I, that is- believe that the DNA from the real Samantha Mulder, Emily Sims, and Luke Doggett was used to create these clones."
"Wouldn't it be an extraordinary coincidence, then, that the young relations of three agents who would only meet after two of the three original children died, would be used in an illicit cloning project?"
Thinking quickly, the me on the tape shook her head. "The coincidence would be extraordinary only if one were to believe that these three children were the only ones cloned."
"No. Young Samantha is eight years old, Luke seven, and Emily only three. Do you think they cloned Luke then did nothing for more than three years?"
"Probably not," the interviewer admitted.
"We have no way of knowing how many children were cloned, but we suspect it was many."
"Does that mean that you believe other families who have lost children will have clones sent to them?"
On screen my composure slipped noticeably. "Hopefully not. While we have no leads as to who is responsible for giving the children to us, it was clearly someone who was aware of our connection. It may be that these children will be the only ones smuggled out."
"I don't think people will find that very reassuring."
"Even if hundreds of children have been cloned, the odds of a viewer's dead loved ones being involved in this are quite small. Were I in their place, I wouldn't suspect it without a good reason to."
"Are you saying that you suspected that something like this would happen?"
"It didn't come as a complete shock," I lied to him. "But the reasons for it have some connection to our casework, and I'm sure you realize that discussing them would be a breach of national security."
"Of course," the interviewer agreed quickly. Then he grinned at the camera. "It doesn't sound to me that most viewers at home have anything to worry about."
"I'd like to thank you for coming here today to set the record straight, Ms. Scully."
"There's one last difficult question we'd like the answer to before we leave: what do you plan to do with the clones?"
The me on TV looked surprised, and it was genuine. "Do with them? The same as any other children. Raise them. Love them."
"There you have it folks, a mystery solved. This is Richard Wright wishing you a pleasant good evening."
After the cameras grew blind and I left the studio, a pleasant evening was not awaiting me. The broadcast had been aired while I drove home.
To be honest I expected a phone call from John, not for him to come over to the house. I'd barely gotten home, and had Mulder assure me that he'd kept the kids from watching when the doorbell rang.
I wasn't the one who answered so perhaps he was diffused a little by the time he confronted me, but it was clear that he was still boiling mad.
"How could you?! How could you lie on TV and have everyone think that they're clones, not their true selves?"
I pulled myself up to my full height, to remind him that I wasn't the sort of woman who was intimidated by a loud voice. "We don't know what their 'true selves' are, John. If you try to tell me that you've got more of a clue how we got them back than Mulder or I do, you're lying."
That's all it took before he seemed to deflate before my eyes. His shoulders slumped. "Do you really think they're clones?"
"No, not really. It's more plausible than anything else we've come up with, but I don't believe it's the truth. I'm afraid that they're something we've never encountered before."
"Why do we have to be afraid?" he asked plaintively. "Can't we just be happy?"
"We can try." Looking at the relief on his face, I knew that he'd try harder than I would. I think there have been fewer assaults on his capability for simple faith than on mine, and the biggest one in his life was returned to him in the form of a gap-toothed little boy.
The End. For now
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