World’s Child 3. Saoshyant


Mulder stayed with us at the cabin for the next few weeks while John came to visit whenever he could, but, as I had predicted, we didn’t stay long at the little cabin – although I could never have foreseen the hurried manner of our leaving.


One night, a couple of weeks later, I was woken by a sense of foreboding. Something had upset the intricate rhythm of the cabin and its environs. I was familiar with every bird that sang, every leaf on every tree, and I knew immediately that something alien had interrupted that peace. I remembered the last time I had come face to face with an alien creature and I let out a howl of fear. Uncle Walter was at my side within seconds.


“William – are you okay? Did you have a nightmare?” He asked. I did still occasionally get nightmares about the night my adoptive parents had been murdered but this was something different.


“No…we’ve got to go – we gotta…there’s one of them coming…he’s near…” I said, between frantic, gasping breaths.


The adults didn’t even stop to question me – they took me absolutely on trust. Walter glanced up at Mulder and nodded and Mulder nodded back.


“It’s happened,” Walter said. “Wake Monica and call John. How far away is he?” He asked me, getting me out of my sleeping bag and dressing me quickly.


“A couple of miles down the road – but he’s fast,” I gasped.


“Okay. We have time. Don’t worry.” Walter gave me a reassuring smile, dressed himself quickly, and then hauled me up into his arms. By this time Monica and Mulder were both ready. I realised later that they must have thought up a plan for precisely this kind of eventuality, because they knew exactly what they were doing. Mulder stood guard at the door with his gun while Monica went outside and got the car. She brought it around to the front of the house, and Walter bundled me out of the cabin and into the back of the car. Mulder got into the front and Monica put her foot down hard on the gas. It had been less than five minutes since I had woken them.


Monica drove fast down the road, while Mulder sat with his gun raised ready. We were all alert, aware of the danger, but my senses were more finely tuned than anyone else’s and I was trembling in the back of the car. I was desperately scared that another massacre would take place tonight, similar to that which had torn my world apart a few months previously. Uncle Walter put a big arm around me and held me against his solid, reassuring chest but even so, I was terrified. I nearly jumped out of my skin when the dark shape appeared in the middle of the road. Monica and Mulder, both trained and experienced FBI agents, barely blinked. Monica drove straight over the creature standing there without swerving. There was a sickening crunch that made me scream and put my hands over my ears, but, looking out of the back window, I saw the being we’d just run over get to his feet, and begin running after us. He was fast – his feet were like a blur as he ran, and I knew he could outrun the car.


“He’s going to catch us!” I screamed, and Mulder turned around in his seat with a grimly determined look on his face pulled a gun out of his pocket and loaded a cartridge into it. I felt the metal of the cartridge reverberating and tingling even without touching it – and knew immediately that it was magnetite. Walter must have known too because Mulder turned to give Walter a grim look, and Walter nodded to him. A few seconds later there was a thump on the side of the car and I saw the super soldier pounding on the window with his fists.


“Saoshyant!” He called. “Saoshyant!” I had never heard the strange word before and had no idea what it meant but he called it over and over again as he pounded on the door. Mulder opened his window, leaned out, took aim…and then hesitated.


“Saoshyant! Save us, Saoshyant! Save us!” The man screamed.


“Shoot, Mulder for chrissakes,” Walter yelled. Mulder frowned, but his finger tightened on the trigger and a second later there was a flash of light, a booming sound, and the acrid smell of gunfire filled the car. I heard the bullet rend the super soldier’s flesh, and then he was screaming, his body jack-knifing all over the road. He let go of the car and Monica wasted no time in putting her foot down on the gas, leaving the writhing, agonised creature in the road, far behind us. My super efficient senses were so finely tuned by the fear of the whole event that I could hear him long after he was out of earshot to the others.


“Mulder – what the hell was that about?” Walter demanded, as we sped away to safety. “Why did you hesitate?”


Mulder turned in his seat to look at us.


“That was Billy Miles,” he said, in a horrified whisper.


I had no idea who Billy Miles was – I was still completely freaked out by the night’s events. I clung to Uncle Walter, sobbing hopelessly. Even though the danger had passed, I was suffering the after effects of all the tension. Walter held me but I was inconsolable.


“Where are we going? Where will we stay? Did you kill him, Mulder? Is he still chasing us?” I was shaking, convinced that this Billy Miles creature could still find us and hurt us.


“No, he isn’t chasing us, William. It’s okay,” Mulder said softly. “I don’t know whether the bullet killed him or not but we’re safe for now.”


“What was he saying?” Monica asked. “What did he call William? Sowshe…what?”


“Saoshyant,” Mulder told her. “Sow-she-aan,” he enunciated slowly.


“What the hell does that mean?” Walter demanded.


Mulder was quiet for a moment and then he said: “It’s from ancient Iranian eschatological texts. It means saviour.”


“And you’re going to tell us what eschatological means too, right?” Monica asked.


“It’s a good thing Doggett isn’t here,” Mulder said with the faintest hint of a grin. “Eschatological refers to that branch of theology concerned with the end of the world.”


We were all silent after that. I clung to Walter, the words ‘end of the world’ churning around inside my mind along with images of that creature Mulder had named ‘Billy Miles’ lying writhing in the road back there, screaming, ‘saoshyant!’ over and over again. I didn’t want the world to end – not this beautiful world, full of interconnected dances, teeming with species, alive with smells and sounds and tastes – I couldn’t bear it. I buried my face in Walter’s neck and when Mulder reached out to touch my shoulder I twisted away from him with a disconsolate howl. Only Walter could touch me when I was like this. I loved them all – Monica, John, Mulder and Walter, but, as I’ve said before, Walter was my security blanket, the father of my heart, and when I was half out of my mind with terror instinct took over and it was Walter I needed.


We drove through that night and sometime around dawn, we arrived in a little town. Monica parked the car on the driveway of a house, and Walter got out, with me still clinging to him like a baby monkey. We walked into the house and Mulder flicked a light switch to reveal a hallway with walls and floors of dark, polished mahogany. There was an austere, formal feel to the place, and I didn’t like it.


“Where are we?” I whispered, missing the tiny, homely cabin already. For all that it had lacked creature comforts, it had at least been vibrantly alive. This place felt soulless and empty.


“This was my father’s bolthole,” Mulder said, in a tight lipped voice and I sensed a huge conflict in him as he recalled his father. I had an image of a stern, distant man, unconnected to anything, least of all his own son.  “He left it to me in his will – it came as one helluva shock to me as I didn’t know the place even existed – and neither does anyone else, so it’ll be a good place to hide. For now anyway.”


“Bolthole?” Monica asked, opening the door into a library that contained row upon row of neatly ordered books.


“Yes.” Mulder nodded curtly. “He came here to get away from my mother – and from me too I guess.” He shrugged. “Also…I think he held meetings here. Syndicate meetings.” Mulder exchanged a glance with Walter and I shivered. I didn’t know who or what the Syndicate might be but I knew that whatever it was, it was nothing good. A smell of polish and evil lingered around the place, and I hated it.


“I want to go back to the cabin,” I said firmly.


“Me too.” Mulder gave me a rueful smile, and his unexpected agreement deflated my moment of mutiny. “We can’t though – if Billy tracked us there then someone else could.”


That made sense but I was about to argue some more anyway when there was a soft knock at the door. We all exchanged glances, and I buried myself in Walter’s neck once more, with a wordless wail of alarm, convinced that the Billy Miles creature had followed us.


“It’s okay,” Monica said. “It’s probably John. I called him and told him to meet us here, remember?” Everyone relaxed a fraction, but all the same, I noticed that Mulder still held his gun in his hand, and Walter was tensed, ready to flee with me in his arms if need be. Monica opened the door, cautiously, and we all gave an almost audible sigh of relief when John stepped swiftly inside, closing the door shut silently behind him.


“Sorry.” He made a face, sensing the tension in the room. “I got here about an hour ago. I was sitting outside waiting for you to show. Are you okay? I was so worried.” He caught hold of Monica and looked searchingly into her eyes.


“I’m fine, John. We all are,” she told him.


“Thank god.” He pulled her into a hug, and kissed her firmly on the lips. “Now, what the hell happened?”


“I’ll fill you in later, but William’s exhausted. We need to get him to bed,” Monica said. John nodded, and I realised, suddenly that I was exhausted – more from all the fear and emotional turmoil than lack of sleep. Walter walked me up the stairs and into a bedroom, and then he and Monica made up a bed for me, while Mulder turned the heating on to warm the chill out of the place – although it never entirely went away. Monica disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a bag she had retrieved from the car, from which she proceeded to unpack a small selection of clothes and pyjamas for me.


“We kept a supply of clothes, sleeping bags and food in the car – just in case something like this happened,” Monica told me with a little wink. “It’s enough to see us through a few days until we have a chance to buy some more.”


So much of their careful planning had gone over my head; I lived in my own little world, attuned to the minutiae of my senses, able to see dead people, but it had come as a complete surprise to me that Mulder had magnetite bullets for his gun, or that they had discussed what they would do if a super soldier came to the cabin in the middle of the night. I felt oddly reassured – I knew that all my protectors were trained FBI agents, so if I was going to be safe anywhere, it would be with them. All the same, I had been so freaked out by the night’s events that it took me several hours to fall asleep – and I wouldn’t let go of Uncle Walter the entire time – in the end the poor man gave in and got into the bed beside me, and only then did I finally relax.


I spent the next few days exploring Mulder’s house. It was full of dark, polished corridors, its rooms decorated in forest greens and browns. It was a man’s house – and an old man at that. There was nothing homely, welcoming, young or female about it. We all hated it, even Mulder – especially Mulder – and we had been there less than a week when he said he had to leave. I didn’t want him to go – and I looked at Walter, expecting – hoping – that he would argue with Mulder, and talk him out of it, but instead Walter just sighed and nodded.


“The magnetite bullets worked but we’ll need more,” Mulder said, as if trying to convince Walter, although the big man hadn’t put up any resistance. “A lot more,” Mulder said. “I need to know whether it killed Billy, Walter. I need to find out where Billy’s been hiding, what he knows, why he called William ‘saoshyant’. I need to find out all of that and I can’t do it sitting here. There are many ways William needs to be protected, and finding out information about the people threatening him and working on weapons to stop them is just as important.”


“I agree.” Walter shrugged.


“It’s what I do best,” Mulder said, as if he was still trying to convince Walter. “Ferreting around, finding out what’s going on.”


“Monica and I will protect William,” Walter said with a nod. “And John when he’s here. We’ll be fine.”


I stared at him aghast – why wasn’t he arguing with Mulder as he usually did? Why wasn’t he putting up a fight over this? I was distraught – John had left us a few days ago, and although he had promised to visit whenever he could, I missed him. Now, Mulder was planning on taking off as well? Supposing Monica decided she needed to go ‘ferreting around’ too, and what about Walter? Was he liable to disappear out of my life as well? That was unthinkable to me – I knew that I simply couldn’t go on without Walter – he was such a constant in my young life, and the only person left from the time when my parents were alive. But if Mulder, my father, could leave, then surely anyone could? My feelings built up into a crescendo and spilled over.


“No!” I said, stamping my foot on the floor angrily. “I don’t want you to go, Mulder.”


The adults stared at me, startled by my sudden display of temper. They were used to my dreamy ways and placid acceptance of most things – only Walter had ever seen me having a tantrum before, and they weren’t exactly frequent occurrences. Yet, however strange my powers were, and advanced my understanding of the world and the people in it, there were still times when I was just a scared little boy, and this was one of them.


“I know. I’m sorry, William, but I think it would be best. I think there’s some stuff I need to find out,” Mulder told me, crouching down so that he was eye level with me. I wasn’t prepared to listen though, and I stormed out of the library and up to my bedroom where I threw myself on the bed and crossed my arms over my chest. I was mightily annoyed when nobody chased after me, and, closing my eyes, I decided to eavesdrop on the conversation downstairs.


“D’you think I should go after him and explain some more?” Mulder was saying. Walter shook his head.


“He’ll come around – poor kid, his whole life keeps changing every few months. No wonder he wants to keep everyone he loves in one place.”


“Am I doing the right thing?” Mulder asked. “Do you think I should stay?”


“No,” Monica piped up from where she was sitting in an armchair in the corner of the library, surrounded by a pile of books. “Mulder, I think you have to go,” she said. “I’ve been doing some reading up about this ‘saoshyant’ person and it’s freaking me out. We definitely need to find out more. Listen to this:


‘Saoshyant, a saviour born from Zoroaster’s seed, will come and the dead shall be resurrected, body and soul.  As the final accounting is made, husband is set against wife and brother against brother as the righteous and the damned are pointed out by the divine judge Saoshyant. ‘ “Divine judge?” Monica glanced at the two men with a raised eyebrow but I was more interested in the bit about the dead being resurrected, body and soul. Samantha, Emily and Luke hadn’t been to visit at the new house yet, but I knew they weren’t far away and would appear again soon.


“Or how about this.” Monica picked up another book and began to read:


“‘In Iran, originally the title of the hero and coming saviour. According to the Avesta, he renews the world and resurrects the dead. Saoshyant will purify both the wicked and the righteous by causing all to pass through a river of molten metal  (obtained through the melting of the mountains). This experience will be pleasant for the righteous (like being bathed in warm milk) but agonizing for the wicked (until all sins are purged away).’  Do you really think William could be this saoshyant person?” she asked.


“It’s possible,” Mulder shrugged.


“What about the Zoroaster’s seed part?” Walter asked. Mulder shook his head, slowly, considering it.


“Well, William’s birth was a miracle of and by itself, as we all know. The way I look at it, one of three things could have happened. One…” Mulder held up one finger, “Somehow the IVF worked, and Scully got pregnant with my child. It’s possible – they said it hadn’t worked but maybe they made a mistake. Two – our ancestors primed our DNA so that when the aliens next arrived to threaten our planet, someone would be born who would have the innate knowledge and ability to fight them. Our ancestors fought a vicious battle with these guys last time around after all – the planet was so badly devastated that they were plunged back into the stone age and it’s taken several millennia for our race to recover. Maybe they foresaw that, but they also knew how to defeat the aliens. We know they were technologically advanced because of those spaceships – it’s possible they set a DNA time bomb, priming it to go off in response to certain triggers – such as the radiation from the alien ships coming into our solar system. And Scully happened to be the lucky recipient of that little gift.”


“Thank god John isn’t here.” Monica gave a little chuckle. “I don’t think he’d like that second explanation very much!”


“And the third option, Mulder? “Walter asked quietly.


Mulder shrugged. “I’m not ruling out the possibility that God decided to intervene personally,” he said.


Most of what Mulder had said went right over my head but it seemed to have a massive impact on all of them because nobody moved or spoke for several long minutes. I’m often asked about my own personal religious beliefs, but the truth is that I don’t really have any. I was brought up by very religious parents until I was 6, but, despite that religion wasn’t something that I ever really noticed to be honest. I might at one stage have had some vague idea of God as a big bearded man in the sky, but I was so preoccupied with the earth, and all the wondrous creatures living on it that I never gave much thought to the divine. Now, well, now I just see the beautiful, amazing, interconnected threads, woven into the fabric of existence of every living being on this planet. I truly think that’s the closest thing to evidence of the hand of God, whoever or whatever that god might be. He or she is certainly a far greater being than me. I can only observe and wonder at the intricate pattern of life-forces that teem on this small planet; I give my total admiration to any being that could not only conceive of all this, but also create it.


“I wonder if we’ll ever find out the truth,” Monica murmured finally, breaking the silence.


Mulder gave a smile. “The truth?” He shook his head. “I’ve been looking for it my entire life and I haven’t found it yet.”


“Are you sure?” Walter looked at him quizzically. “Because right now I’d say that that little boy upstairs is the closest to it that you’ll ever get.”


“That little boy who is eavesdropping on us as we speak?” Monica said, with a sweet smile. I sat straight up, wondering how she’d known. A few seconds later, the three adults appeared in the doorway.


“William – were you just listening in on our conversation?” Walter asked, with a frown.


I bit on my lip. “I’m sorry. There’s so much I want to know,” I told them apologetically, my earlier tantrum completely forgotten.


“There are some things we say privately because we think they’d hurt you if you heard them, “Walter explained, coming to sit on the bed beside me. I was glad that he didn’t seem to be angry.


“William – did you understand what we were saying about how you were born?” Mulder asked carefully, from where he was standing in the doorway.


I nodded, slowly.


“Do you have any ideas about that, William?” My father asked. “Do you know why or how you were born?”


Monica took a sharp intake of breath, and I felt Walter tense beside me – he wasn’t comfortable with this line of questioning but, like the other two, he wanted to know my answer.


“I don’t know anything, Mulder,” I told him with big, scared eyes. “I never heard that sowsheyan name before the other night.”


“That’s fine, William,” Walter said, shooting Mulder a glare over my head, warning him not to pursue this line of questioning any further. None of them mentioned that conversation again, but that didn’t stop me thinking about it. In many ways my personality insulated me against too much introspection. I had always been perfectly happy with myself, and I never worried about who my parents were. I accepted, without question, that Mulder and Scully were my parents – they were my spiritual parents and they had in a very real sense given birth to me, whether or not they were biologically connected to me. Of course I was too young back then to understand how or why that was, I just felt it – and I always trusted my feelings.


Mulder left the following day. I wanted to refuse to say goodbye to him but it wasn’t in my nature to sulk for long, and, although I knew I’d miss him, I also knew that it would hurt him more than either he or I could bear if I didn’t kiss him goodbye. I could now read other people’s feelings as easily as my own. Sometimes, without even concentrating, I could feel myself slipping into their skins, feeling what they felt, hearing their thoughts, and experiencing what it was like to be them – very like my early encounter with the duck back on the ranch. Now, I found it was becoming easier and easier to slip inside another person’s mind.


Another of the new skills I had discovered was that I could see the threads that connected every living creature on the planet. I had always been fascinated by their dances, their songs, their resonance, but now I could actually see little sparks of light weaving them together, like a massive web. I remembered when I had first met Mulder, how the spark of light connecting him to Uncle Walter had been visible to me before I started being able to see those threads anywhere else. The threads between Mulder and my Uncle Walter were particularly vibrant, and they constantly pulsed with a pure white energy; mostly, with other people these glowing threads were more muted, sometimes so wispy as to be almost transparent. It was a whole new world to me, and I spent many long hours studying the glowing lights, learning their form and their vibrations. Monica was startled by how much of my day I could spend in complete silence, just staring into space. Walter was used to my ways, and assured her that for me, this was ‘normal’ behaviour.


“But he sits staring at nothing for hours on end,” Monica whispered, tip-toeing around where I was sitting in the library, staring out of the window at the tree outside, studying all the glowing fronds that connected it to the earth, to the worms and caterpillars and ants and all the human passers by.


“Not nothing,” I told her, startling her as I came back to life. “Not nothing, Monica. I’m seeing something wonderful – something beautiful.” I turned to her, and my sense of vision was still so switched on after my hours of study, that she appeared to me to have a thick halo of multi-hued energy pulsing around her body. From that, sparked little white threads that connected her to me, to Walter, to the spider crawling along behind the couch – to everything and everyone.


“Here.” I took her hand purely on instinct, and connected her to what I was seeing, showing her the world through my eyes. She gave a gasp of amazement and almost fell over. Her eyes widened with wonder as she looked around. She reached out a glowing hand and followed the fluttery, feathery white trail that connected her to Walter. She touched him, and he was drawn into our little world, sharing its visions. He sat down on the couch with a thump, dumbstruck by what he was seeing.


“William – this is what you see, every day?” He asked, his voice full of awe as he gazed around the glowing, pulsing room.


“Yeah – I don’t have to see it this bright – I can shut it off – but sometimes it’s so peaceful to just tune into it,” I told him.


“No wonder you can spend hours staring into space,” Monica said breathlessly. “It’s beautiful, William.”


“It is – and so is this,” I said, squeezing her hand, and feeling through her, Uncle Walter’s consciousness, where she was in turn holding his hand. I had never connected myself to other people in this way before and I loved it. I could feel their thoughts, their feelings, their essences – their souls, and it energised me, flooding me with a remarkable sensation that felt like pure joy or pure energy – or something indescribable but so totally uplifting that I felt as if my small body couldn’t contain it.


“William!” Monica called. “You’re…expanding.” I looked down at my body and laughed. She was right – whereas before I had been a corporeal entity, surrounded by a glowing aura, now I was more light than substance, and I felt it would be so easy to give up my body completely, and just dissipate into the air, becoming one with the entire world.


“Shit…William…!” Walter wrenched his hand away from Monica’s and I felt a crashing blow of disappointment as he left the little triumvirate we had created between us. My body began to take form again, small and so limiting that I could have wept. “William! Let her go!” Walter said again, shaking me. I was so startled that I released Monica’s hand, and then howled as her warmth and kindness disconnected from my own consciousness and I was alone once more. The world swum back into view, and I found myself lying on my back on the floor, looking up into Uncle Walter’s worried brown eyes.


“That was so beautiful,” I whispered. “Why did you leave? Why did you take it away?”


“You were disappearing…I was afraid,” Walter told me, helping me to sit up. My body felt strange; too big, too clumsy. I longed to be weightless, and consumed by that energy again.


“Did you mean for that to happen, William?” Monica asked, crouching in front of me. I shook my head, dumbly.


“I…I think, one day, I’ll learn how to do it right…” I whispered. “But I’m too young and I couldn’t control it.”


Walter gathered me up in his arms and I could feel his heart pounding in his chest. “Just take it easy, William,” he told me. “Learn to walk before you can run, huh?”


That whole experience gave me quite a scare, and I spent the next few days being extra clingy with Uncle Walter as a result. He was as endlessly patient with me as always, and gave me reading lessons using the books from Mulder’s extensive library, distracting me by reminding me that there were other kinds of knowledge to be acquired apart from the mysterious skills I had been born with. Neither of us left the house or the yard – me because I wasn’t allowed to and him because he would never leave me. However, from looking out of the windows and climbing the tree in the back yard, I figured out that we were living in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street, in what seemed to be an ordinary looking town. I’d never lived in a town for any length of time before and was intrigued by all the scents and sounds. Even this quiet town was much noisier in terms of the sheer hustle and bustle of human existence than my life at the ranch and then at the cabin and I was often kept awake at night by the sounds of cars driving past the front of the house, and the nearness of the people in the houses all around us. Even without trying I could hear the people who lived around us, could smell them, and had become familiar with some of their stray thought processes. Mulder’s house was set in an affluent area of town, and had some land around it, giving us some privacy, but we still had neighbours nearby.  I knew the woman who lived in the nearest house to ours wondered who we were as she so rarely saw us, and that the man who lived more or less opposite us had an illness that made him cough.


Life fell into a pattern once more – Monica would do the grocery shopping and buy us any new clothes we needed in the little mall in town, while Walter took care of me. I spent my days listening to his strong, deep voice as he taught me how to read and write, how to do arithmetic and he told me about the geography and history of the world. We also had fun building a tree house in the garden, and playing ball. Luke, Samantha and Emily dropped by occasionally, so there were other children to play with when I tired of adult company. John kept in contact regularly, but we hadn’t heard from Mulder which I knew was worrying Walter. Occasionally Walter would try calling Mulder but his cell phone was invariably switched off. Sometimes Walter would sit and think about Mulder, and his thoughts always seemed to alternate between him fantasising about shaking Mulder and yelling at him, or holding him and kissing him, which I thought was funny.




One day, about 6 weeks after we’d arrived, when Monica was out shopping, there was a knock at the door. Walter and I exchanged glances and he put his finger over his mouth and made his way to the window to look out.


“It’s a man,” I said before he got there. “No, two men. They’ve got a painted car with a flashing light on it – a police car.”


Walter stopped still where he was standing, and I could see him trying to figure out what to do; if we remained silent, then there was always a chance they would return, and the next time they might not take no for an answer. On the other hand, if he opened the door then he risked them being hostile, and discovering me. There was another knock on the front door – more urgent-sounding this time.


“William – are they human?” He asked me.


“Yes.” I nodded. “The older man is worried about something. He’s very suspicious. The younger one is just doing what he’s told.”


“Okay.” Walter came to a decision. “We’re going to answer the door, and you’re going to pretend that you’re my son – okay?”


“Okay,” I nodded happily enough.


“So call me Dad, not ‘Uncle Walter’ if they should ask – but don’t come out unless I call for you,” he warned. I nodded again. Walter left the room and went to answer the door and I stayed in the library, listening. I heard the door open.


“Sorry to disturb you, sir,” the older man said. Closing my eyes, I could see that he had thin, ginger hair, and a large pot belly. “I’m Sheriff Hank Mabbut. We had a report that there was a little boy living here?”


Walter was silent. I sensed his real anxiety – why was a sheriff knocking on our door, asking this question in particular?


“Sir? Could you confirm that?” The sheriff asked.


“Yes.” Walter nodded stiffly.


“We’ve heard he’s school age – but he doesn’t seem to be enrolled in any school around here,” the sheriff said. “Is there an explanation for that, sir?”


“Yes. He’s my son – he’s not been well,” Walter said slowly, playing for time. “I’m home schooling him for now.”


“What’s been wrong with him?” Mabbut asked.


“Uh, it’s a rare genetic disorder,” Walter improvised.


“Could we see the boy, sir? It’s just routine. We’d like to make sure the lad is okay.” The man was very nice, but I sensed an undercurrent to his questions and I knew that he was lying.


“William!” Walter called and I went to stand next to him. Sheriff Mabbut looked at me with shrewd, narrowed eyes, and I had the feeling that he was searching for something.


“William?” He sounded as if he was questioning my name. I nodded, staring at him with big eyes. He smiled at me reassuringly. “When did you arrive in town, son?” He asked. Walter’s hand came down on my shoulder and he squeezed.


“A few weeks ago,” I replied honestly.


“It’s just that we have a missing person report out on a boy and a man answering your descriptions…” Sheriff Mabbut said to Walter, “…in connection with the deaths of the Granger family in Wyoming.”


“I read about that,” Walter said. “I heard they found the bodies of the boy and the man who abducted him. Poor kid.” He squeezed my shoulder again.


“There are still some question marks over those bodies,” the sheriff replied. “The boy might not be Adam Granger, and Walter Skinner still hasn’t come forward so that he can be eliminated from the investigation. As an ex-FBI agent you’d think he would want to clear his name, wouldn’t you?” He smiled at Walter, but it was a grim smile that didn’t reach his eyes.


“I hadn’t heard there was another suspect still at large,” Walter said, frowning. “I though they solved the case.”


“They found a camp a few miles from the Granger home. Seems that the family were being watched for a few months before the killer struck,” the sheriff said. “So, what is it you do for a living, sir?”


“I’m retired – I retired early to spend some time with my son. I used to work in an office,” Walter replied.


“I see. I’d like to see some identification if you wouldn’t mind, sir.”


“I’m afraid I don’t have any. We came here suddenly after a death in the family and I had my wallet stolen just yesterday. I could easily get something sent on to you though,” Walter said steadily. “It would only take a couple of days.”


“I’m afraid we need to see something now, sir. If you don’t have anything then I’ll have to ask you to accompany me to the sheriff’s office.”


“Are you arresting me?” Walter asked incredulously.


“No, sir. I just need to make some routine enquiries and I’d like your help.”


“Look, I can get you identification. I can call a friend.” I caught a mental image of John rising in Walter’s mind.


“We can take care of that down at the office,” Mabbut said firmly. “Your name, sir?”


“I’m John Reyes,” Walter said without hesitating. “And this is my son, William. My wife, Monica, is out shopping. If I could just call her…” He reached for the cell phone in his jeans pocket, only to find his hand stopped. Everyone was suddenly very tense and I realised they thought Walter was going for a gun. Walter realised too, and raised his hands very slowly. “I was just reaching for my phone to call my wife,” he explained.


“I’m afraid that won’t be possible, sir. I’m going to have to ask you to come with us,” the sheriff said. I could tell by the look on Walter’s face that he knew, as well as I did, that the sheriff was lying about something. I sensed that Walter wanted to argue with the man, but also that he was wary of showing off too much of his knowledge of legal procedures by doing so – the sheriff already knew that Walter Skinner was once an Assistant Director of the FBI after all.


“All right. We’ll come with you,” Walter said. “I’ve got nothing to hide. You’re harassing innocent people here, Sheriff.”


The sheriff made no reply – he just ushered us towards his car. There wasn’t to be honest, much else that Walter could have done. If he’d resisted then he’d have drawn even more attention to us, and both the police officers carried guns – if we’d tried to run then we risked being hurt, and I knew that Walter would never risk me in that way.


The sheriff took us to his office, and we were locked into a small but comfortable interrogation room with a table in the middle and a toilet in the corner. A few minutes later, the sheriff joined us, locking the door behind us. He laid a file on the table and gestured to Uncle Walter that he should take a look at it. Walter flicked it open reluctantly – to reveal two photographs. One was of me, taken a couple of years previously. I was sitting on my adoptive mother’s knee and we were both smiling at the camera. The other was of Walter, wearing an FBI tag on his suit that clearly identified him as Assistant Director Walter Skinner. He looked strange in the picture – I’d never seen him looking so formal, dressed up in a suit, but he wore it as if he was his armour, and clothing he was very familiar with. I wondered then about his life before he had come into mine – what had he been? What kind of existence had he led?


“Now, the boy looks pretty similar – but the photo is a few years old so maybe he isn’t Adam Granger.” The sheriff shrugged. “But I’d lay bets that you’re Walter Skinner.”


Walter’s jaw did a savage sideways clench. “I told you my name is John Reyes,” he said. “And this is not Adam Granger – he’s my son, William.”


“Well, I’ll just have to run some checks to find out,” the sheriff said. He looked at me again, his eyes gleaming as he glanced from the photograph to me, and then back again. I didn’t like the expression on his face, and sank back against Uncle Walter.


“I haven’t done anything wrong! You can’t keep me here without charge,” Walter protested.


“As a matter of fact I can.” The sheriff replied, standing his ground. “I make the decisions about what happens here. You’re strangers around here – and I’m mighty careful about who I allow to stay in this town these days.”


Walter frowned, his eyes meeting mine. The sheriff’s comments about ‘strangers’ was unexpected, and didn’t seem to tie in with what he had been saying about Adam Granger.


“I want to call my lawyer,” Uncle Walter demanded. The sheriff shook his head.


“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. Now, you can co-operate and we can do things the easy way, or I can call the social workers and put the boy in protective custody – and keep you locked up here until I can get some positive ID,” the sheriff said.


I could clearly hear Walter thinking through his options; co-operating would win us more time. Monica might have returned by now and alerted John and Mulder so there was every possibility of rescue if we could just stay here, together. I could see that Walter’s biggest fear was that I’d be taken out of his immediate protection. That thought upset him so much that I could feel his heart rate rise as he considered it. He knew how much I depended on him and how lost and afraid I’d be with strangers after all that had happened to me. He knew that if I went into the care of strangers there would be nobody to protect me from the super soldiers – and nobody who would understand my unique abilities.


“I’ll co-operate,” Walter spat.


“Good.” The sheriff nodded. “First, I need some fingerprints off you.” Walter agreed to the fingerprint test, but the next test was altogether stranger. The sheriff took a small vial out of his pocket, opened it, and then knocked out what looked like a spoonful of rust coloured dust onto the table. I could feel the tingle emanating from the dust immediately and knew it was magnetite.


“Touch it,” the sheriff ordered. Walter looked at me, puzzled, but put his finger into the dust. The sheriff seemed satisfied. He nodded at me.


“And you, son,” he ordered. I was scared, but there didn’t seem to be any choice. I knew that magnetite burned my skin in a way it didn’t with Walter or Monica or any of the others. On the other hand, it didn’t hurt me in the extreme way it hurt the super soldiers – it was more of a burning, tingling kind of feeling than any real pain. Something told me it would be best to disguise my true reactions to the magnetite dust, so I stuck my finger in it, held it there for a few seconds and then withdrew it. The tip was smarting, but with that came a peculiar kind of sensation. I had never been this close to magnetite before, with it surrounding my flesh in this way, and although it prickled, I felt vividly drawn to it. There was something about its texture that made me able to see it down to every last atom. It was almost as if I was seeing the structure of the metal itself and I had a sudden image of it as warm liquid, glowing and powerful. The vision faded as soon as I withdrew my finger, and I clenched my fists so that the sheriff wouldn’t see how red my finger was. He seemed satisfied with the experiment though – more than satisfied because he swallowed hard, shot me a look of profound awe and then withdrew, taking his dust with him and locking the door behind him.


“Are you okay, William?” Walter asked when we were alone. I held up my finger, which was still smarting, and Walter kissed it.


 “That’ll make it better,” he smiled. “You were very brave, William.”


“It only hurt a little bit. Mainly it just felt strange,” I told him, looking around the room and wondering how long we’d have to stay here.


There was a small bed in the room, which was big enough for me to sleep on, and food and water had been left for us on the table. There were no windows. I watched as Uncle Walter examined the room for some means of escape, even though he knew he wouldn’t find any.


“Is that man allowed to keep us here, Uncle Walter?” I asked, sitting on the side of the bed, my legs hanging over the edge, swinging aimlessly.


“No. He sure as hell isn’t,” Walter replied grimly. “Something else is going on here, William. Something I can’t figure out.”


“He kept looking at me,” I murmured, unsettled by our incarceration.


“I noticed,” Walter said tersely. “Damn. Monica won’t know where we’ve been taken, even if she’s back by now. If only I’d been able to call John…”


“I could contact him,” I said serenely.


“What?” Uncle Walter came over to me, a frown creasing his wide forehead.


“I think I might be able to – do you want me to try?”


“Yes – tell him what’s happened. Tell him he needs to get up here as soon as possible. I need him to wave his badge around and bully Mabbut into releasing us.”


I wasn’t sure I’d be able to give a message that detailed, but I closed my eyes and concentrated on trying to find John’s mental signature among the many that immediately clamoured for my attention the moment I tuned into them. It took a long time – I hadn’t seen John for a few weeks and he was some distance away. I followed numerous white threads before I found the one that led to John, and then it took me a little while to get his attention. I was tired by now, and although I could feel John’s thoughts all around me, he didn’t seem to notice when I called his name. I concentrated even more, and, suddenly, like a key turning in a lock, I found myself jolted into his body. It was very like the experience with the duck back at the ranch. I was sitting in a dark, basement room, surrounded by papers and filing cabinets. I was writing something; the phone was ringing but I wasn’t answering it. I was very tall – it made me giddy to realise I was this tall, this strong, this confident, and I longed suddenly to be grown up, and feel this sure of myself. It’s difficult to describe what it’s like being in someone else’s body; I hadn’t displaced John – he was still there, but he wasn’t aware of me. I thought about it for a little while, trying to decide how I could get his attention. He was writing something, and that gave me an idea. I found that if I concentrated very hard, I could make his hand write what I wanted it to. It wasn’t easy, and I longed, more than anything else, to just let go and return to my own body, but I knew how much trouble we were in, and the thought of Walter being locked up in a prison cell, parted from me, perhaps forever, upset me so much that it gave me the strength to continue. John wasn’t even aware of what was happening; he was on automatic, as so many of us are when we do routine tasks. He glanced up at the clock, and hummed softly to himself as he carried on writing, not realising that he was now spelling out the words that I was forcing his hand to write. It took all my strength to manage seven poorly spelled words: Walter and William at sherifs offise HELP. And then John took over again, and continued with what he had been writing. He wrote another few words, and then stopped, and blinked, gazing in disbelief at the page in front of him, where his own adult scrawl suddenly degenerated into the shaky handwriting of a 6 year old child.


“William?” He got up, and looked around.


“John. Help,” I whispered, but I was too tired to say any more, and I had no idea whether he heard me. I felt myself slipping away and a little while later I woke up back in my own body.


“William? Are you okay?” Walter said as my eyes blinked open. I gazed around blearily – I had a bad headache and my brain felt fuzzy and tired. “Did it work?” Walter asked, and I shrugged.


“I don’t know. I think so,” I whispered. It felt strange being back in my own body, and I began to shiver, worn out by the exertion and emotion of all that had happened. “Uncle Walter please don’t let them take me away. Please,” I begged, holding onto him. There is something solidly reassuring about Uncle Walter. Everything about him was familiar – the tense set of his broad shoulders, the slight rasp of his cheek against mine, the strong, clean smell of his cologne combined with the scent of the man himself. He was my rock, and I clung to him.


“William – I’ll do everything I can. I promise,” he told me, sitting down on the bed so that I could clamber onto his lap to be held. “And if we do get separated it won’t be for long. John or Mulder or Monica will find you and then they’ll rescue me.”


“I don’t want us to be separated,” I wailed, latching on to that part of what he had said and ignoring the rest.


“William, we know each other too well to really be separated,” Walter reassured me. “They can put us on opposite sides of the world, but you’d still be able to hear me, and feel me – wouldn’t you?”


This was true – it had taken me some time to find John but I knew Walter so well, was so familiar with his soul, that we were connected on a different level entirely. He was right – we could never truly be separated.


“Remember when your other father – when Nathaniel sent me away,” Walter told me, still holding me close. “I didn’t go far, William, and you could easily find me.”


I nodded, feeling comforted. My head still ached and I was desperately tired.


“Tell me how you found John,” Walter asked and I told him what I’d done, and how I’d written the message to John using his own hand. He nodded approvingly, but he still looked anxious.


“I wish I knew what Mabbut wants. I thought at first he just wanted to make a name for himself by solving your parents’ murders but if he really believed I was involved in that he would have separated us immediately…” He shook his head, his arms wrapped very firmly around me as he spoke of that terrible night. “But…why did he test us with that magnetite? He’s acting as if he’s a one man band out here, almost as if he thinks he’s outside the law. Even by detaining us here he’s acting unlawfully which he wouldn’t do that unless he was very sure of his information – or very desperate.”


I had no idea why the sheriff would be desperate, but I liked hearing the rumbling sound of Uncle Walter’s voice so I just rested my head against his shoulder and listened. A couple of hours passed and then I sat upright with a start.


“Uncle Walter – John is very close…and so is Monica,” I whispered. Walter nodded, and held me tight, and he put his head on one side, trying to hear what might be happening outside our small cell. I could hear what wasn’t audible to his ears and I related what was going on.


“John is arguing with the sheriff. He has some papers and he’s waving his badge around but the sheriff won’t agree to let him see us. He’s…oh…”


“What?” Walter asked, anxiously.


“Monica just appeared behind the sheriff. She told him she’s tired of arguing. She has a gun! She’s pointing it to the back of his head…they’re coming this way now…”


We got up, and a couple of minutes later there was the sound of a key in the lock, and then Mabbut came into the room, closely followed by Monica, her gun still drawn. John pushed the sheriff aside and ran into the room.


“Are you two okay? William? Are you okay?” He reached out and grabbed my upper arms, looking deep into my eyes, his own full of a kind of wonder.


“You got my message?” I said, delighted.


“Yeah. It was one of the freakiest experiences of my entire life,” John grinned. “One minute I was writin’ up a report, and the next I was reading somethin’ I knew I hadn’t written. Now what the hell happened here?”


“He happened,” Walter said gruffly, nodding his head in the direction of the sheriff and taking a threatening step towards him.


“Now slow down here,” the sheriff said. “This isn’t what you think…”


“I have no idea what I think this is,” Walter snapped. “I just know that I’m really mad right now, Mabbut. Imprisoning me is one thing – but keeping the boy locked up is something else. What the hell is going on?”


“I did it for your own safety! I needed to take the fingerprint test to be sure that you’re who I think you are – Mr. Walter Skinner.” Mabbut rocked back on his heels and waited for the implications of that comment to sink in. Walter’s jaw did a sideways clench. “I’m not your enemy,” Mabbut said urgently. “I want to help. I know people who can help. We all want to help protect the boy.”


Walter turned to John. “Bring him with us – I think it’s time to return his hospitality with some of our own,” he muttered grimly, striding towards the cell door with me in his arms.


We took the sheriff back to my father’s house under armed escort, bundled him into the library, and then gathered around, gazing at him expectantly.


“Walter, William looks beat – d’you think we should put him to bed before we talk to this guy?” John asked. Walter looked down at me, and then across to Monica, before shaking his head.


“No. He’d only stay awake listening; from now on I think we should include William in everything that happens that concerns him. He only listens in when we try to exclude him in any case.”


John nodded, and Walter sat me down on the couch and then sat down beside me.


“Okay, buddy, you’ve got some explaining to do,” John said, sitting down opposite the sheriff and pointing his gun loosely at the other man.


“Forgive me, Adam,” the sheriff said, in a whisper, directing his apology to me, and bowing his head in my direction. “I’m sorry – I hoped it might be you, but I had to be sure.”


“What the hell is goin’ on here?” John asked, looking as bewildered as we all felt.


“I don’t want for you to distrust me but I had to do the checks. I have to be careful. So many people aren’t what they seem these days. You’ve noticed that, haven’t you?” He looked at us pleadingly, and Monica lowered her gun fractionally.


“Yes, we’ve noticed,” she said softly.


“Did you think other people hadn’t noticed too, ordinary folk like me? Did you think it was only you people who realised that something was going on?” Mabbut shook his head. “It first started happening a few years ago – people I’ve known for years just changed overnight – and some people…some people we buried…came back.” The sheriff’s voice was barely above a whisper. “It took us a long time to notice. Usually they surfaced in other places, a long way from where they’d lived – at first I just thought it was a case of mistaken identity, but that was before I was contacted.”


“Contacted? By who?” John frowned.


“The Network. They said aliens were coming to take over the world, that people were being brought back to life – not as themselves, but as killing machines.  At first I thought they were crazy – spouting all this garbage about UFO’s and aliens and colonisation and viruses…but when I thought about all the weird stuff that’s been going on…then I wondered if they might be right. Then…” His voice choked. “Then my brother died – and ten months later they caught him on tape in a parking lot in Boston, killing a man. I knew it wasn’t my brother – I saw his body, and I know he was dead – so how could I explain that he was still alive and walking around, doing these terrible things, things he could never have done before?” The sheriff looked at us for confirmation but nobody moved. “I contacted the Network and agreed to work for them. Now, anybody new comes to this town, I check them out. If they’re not human they usually run out of town rather than take the test – they’re strong bastards. I’ve shot a few and they just got up and walked away like nothing had happened. Luckily the Network gave us the angel dust and…”


“Angel dust?” Walter interrupted. “You mean that magnetite you sprinkled on us back at the police station?”


“Is that what it is? We call it angel dust – throw it at those bastards and they scream like the devil. That’s how we can identify them – it’s harmless to humans.”


“Did you try contacting the authorities about all this?” John asked, in an angry tone.


The sheriff snorted. “Sure. We tried. Got told we were a bunch of weirdos and y’know, a decade ago I’d have said the same thing myself – it does sound crazy but I’ve seen the evidence with my own eyes,” the sheriff said hoarsely. “Contaminated’s what we call it when one of those alien bastards has taken over a human body. This whole town is a Network town – everybody who lives here checks out. Anybody has a personality change and I’m the first person to hear about it. We keep our eyes and ears open around here. There are Network towns all over the country – and more joining us every year.”


“How can you tell who is ‘contaminated’ and who isn’t?” Monica asked. “You can’t go around sprinkling every newcomer with powdered magnetite.”


“No – but there are sensitives who can detect when someone isn’t human. There aren’t many of them, so they travel from Network town to Network town, pointing out anyone who isn’t one of us. One of them is very gifted – we thought at first that he was the Adam Kasia but he told us he wasn’t. He was just a precursor – kind of like John the Baptist was for Christ.”


I could see that my friends were uncomfortable with the biblical allusion but I was more interested in this other person the Sheriff had mentioned – the one who was like me. I longed to meet him.


“Then, a couple of years ago, I got to hear about the little boy,” Mabbut nodded at me, “at one of our meetings; they told us there was a prophecy, that Adam Kasia was coming.”


“Who’s this Adam Kasia you keep talkin’ about?” John questioned.


“He’s the resurrector, the summoner – the one who’ll save us.”


“Not the Saoshyant?” Monica frowned.


“There are many different names for him, but it all boils down to the same thing.” The sheriff shrugged. “He’s going to save us from the aliens. That’s what he was born for.”


“He’s just a child,” Walter snapped.


“A special child. The Network told us that a super soldier had tracked Adam Kasia down and killed the folks who were looking after him. We were warned to watch out for him, and protect him if he came into our area. I read about that poor family being killed and their son going missing so I was pretty sure he was Adam Kasia – hell, he was even called Adam.”


“Adam Kasia.” Monica flicked through a couple of the books she had looked in to find our more about the ‘Saoshyant’. Okay, got it.” She glanced up and then began to read out what she had found. “Adam Kasia (‘the hidden Adam’) also know as the first Adam. A god-like form which unites in itself microcosm and macrocosm. This form was regarded as, at one and the same time, the soul of the corporeal Adam and as the soul of every man. Adam Kasia is a redeemer and is himself redeemed.” She looked at me. “Does this mean anything to you, William?”


I shook my head, feeling strange, just as I had when I had heard her read about the Saoshyant. “I’m just me!” I protested. “I’m not a micro – micro-comic or whatever that means.”


 “It’s okay, William. It doesn’t matter.” Monica smiled at me but her eyes were thoughtful.


“How did you know we were here?” Walter asked the sheriff.


“When you folks came to town it didn’t take long for it to filter back to me. Took awhile before we heard there was a child living here, but once I heard that, I knew it was time to pay you folks a visit. Forgive me, but I figured that if you were who I thought you were then you’d be safer if I took you to my office while I checked you out.”


“Safer? With just you to protect us?” Walter snapped.


“Me and the whole Network. I put out the word that I had you.”


“Oh great. Fucking great.” John stood up and ran a hand through his hair. “Now half the country knows where we are.”


“Now you can be protected,” the sheriff corrected him. “No harm will come to this child with us looking after you.”


“Who said we wanted your help?” Walter asked.


“You’ve got it whether you want it or not. He doesn’t just belong to you. He’s the world’s child. He’s going to save us all,” the sheriff replied.


There was silence for awhile as that sank in.


“The world’s child – that’s what Mulder called him back at the cabin,” Walter said softly.


“It’s what he is,” the sheriff said. “It’s exactly what he is.”


“He’s also just a little boy,” Walter said firmly. “A little boy under my personal protection.”


“We want to protect him too,” Sheriff Mabbut said vehemently. “All we want to do is help.”


So, that was how we became involved with the Network. John, Walter and Monica talked it through for some time, but in the end, they agreed to accept the sheriff’s offer of help. In truth, we had no choice. The sheriff was right; there were too many people interested in me and while half the world it seemed wanted to kill me, the other half wanted to protect me. Both of them, though, were interested in me for the same reason: it seemed that somehow, and nobody was entirely sure how, I was going to save the world.


People often ask me about the prophecies; there seem to be a hundred or more different names for me in different cultures; Saoshyant and Adam Kasia are just two of them – I’ve been called many others. World’s child is what stuck though, and is unique in being totally new, not steeped in ancient prophecy. I guess that’s why I like it best as well. The others carry such a weight of tradition and expectation with them. People always want the other answers too – the ones I cannot give them; the ones about life after death and where we came from and all the other teeming questions that are central to humankind’s great search for knowledge. I wish I knew those answers but I don’t. I only know what I am – I don’t know why, or how and that’s enough for me. It always was. Unlike my father I never had a restless, questing soul. I always accepted what destiny had in store for me without any sense of surprise. I simply am, and, I believe that, after all this time, even my father has finally accepted that.


 Speaking of my father, he turned up a few nights later, with a bruised jaw, a closed eye, and his arm hanging by his side at a grotesque angle. Hank’s people, who kept a discreet guard on the house day and night, caught him as he staggered from his car and up the driveway to the front door.


There was commotion all around, as the Network people guarding us scattered their powdered magnetite liberally over my father, who wondered what the hell was going on and immediately drew his weapon, thinking they might be super soldiers. There was pandemonium all around, with Mulder struggling against his assailants even with his broken arm – and it could have ended very badly if Walter hadn’t charged out into the fray, and calmed the situation down with several snapped commands in a very terse voice. The Network people backed off and Uncle Walter gazed down at Mulder where he was lying on the ground, bleeding liberally from the cuts on his face and hands.


“You’re a mess,” he said with a sigh. He knelt down beside his old friend and touched Mulder’s hair gently. The two men looked at each other in silence for a moment, but it was a silence filled with so much communication that it transfixed me. Nobody else could see the flashing lights pulsing back and forth between my father and my Uncle Walter, or hear the crackling of energy in the air around them. They were like two halves of the same energy source, and when they were apart they were diminished somehow; when they were together their energies clashed and sparked and led to those furious arguments I was so used to witnessing between them, but they were infinitely stronger, their energies merging and coalescing into a pulsing, glowing force of pure white beauty. “Come on.” Uncle Walter helped Mulder to his feet, and my father swayed, unsteadily. I realised then that it wasn’t just his arm that was hurt – one of his legs was unable to support his weight as well. Suddenly, without warning, Uncle Walter gathered my father up, and swung him into his arms.


“Oh for fuck’s sake, Walter,” Mulder snapped. “I can walk. This is fucking ridiculous.”


“Shut up,” Walter snapped. “I think you’ve caused enough commotion for one night.”


“I was attacked by those people – oh, and who the hell are those fucking people?” Mulder growled.


“They’re protecting us – and if you’d kept in touch or just kept your goddamn cell phone switched on you’d have know that,” Walter told him. That was one of the things I liked about Uncle Walter – even when the full force of my father’s volatile temper was directed at him he always stood his ground. I suspect that secretly that was one of the things that Mulder liked about Walter too.


Monica pushed the door open and Walter carried Mulder through it, and up the stairs and I could hear them still arguing as they went. Monica turned to me and rolled her eyes.


“Well, I guess we can say goodbye to any peace and quiet now,” she murmured, and I giggled as we both followed the two men up the stairs.


“My cell phone and I were forcibly separated from each other a few weeks ago,” Mulder was saying as we reached the bedroom. Walter put Mulder gently on the bed, his whole demeanour at odds with the massive argument they were currently having. “I’m SO sorry that I didn’t have time to go out shopping for a new phone.”


“There are such things as pay phones – remember those? One call wouldn’t have killed you,” Skinner snapped, as he went into the bathroom to fill a bowl with water and bring a medical kit.


“You still haven’t answered my question as to who the hell those people who jumped me were.”


“And you still haven’t answered my question as to why you find it so damn hard to tell us where you are and what you’re doing or just to let us know that you’re okay. If you’d called, I could have told you that the house was being guarded.”


“I figured that one out the hard way,” Mulder growled. “Are you ever going to get around to telling me by who, and why, or are you going to keep boring me to death with the phone issue? Christ, what is this? One kiss and now you’re nagging me for not calling you? What next? You cry when I don’t take you to the fucking prom?”


There was a deadly silence, and I think Mulder knew he had gone too far. Monica winced, and I made a little face at her. We both knew that last comment would not have gone down well with Walter but Mulder was far too worked up to back down. Walter’s jaw was literally snapping with tension.


“Yes, I want to know how you are, that you’re still alive. Forgive me for giving a shit but this isn’t just about me – there’s a little boy who also wants to hear your voice occasionally.”


That comment hit home, and all the fight suddenly went out of Mulder. He was silent for a long time, while Walter laid out the medical kit and dunked some cotton balls in the water. Then he sat on the side of the bed, pushed Mulder’s hair out of his cut forehead, and proceeded to bathe the wound with infinite care and gentleness. However mad at my father he might have been, he still took the utmost care of him. Mulder stared stonily into space during Walter’s ministrations, wincing occasionally as the blood was slowly cleaned from his face. Walter finished bathing his flesh wounds and then, cautiously, turned his attention to Mulder’s arm and ankle. The ankle proved to be merely twisted, and a firm bandage sufficed there, which Walter strapped on with his usual efficiency. It suddenly occurred to me that this was medicine he might have learned in the field, back in Vietnam, but wherever he had learned it, he was both gentle and thorough. He turned, finally, to Mulder’s arm. He unwrapped the makeshift splint of magazines and some tape that Mulder had wrapped around the arm, but Mulder howled in pain when Walter tried to pull his sweater over the injury, so Walter called for scissors and cut his sweater off him. Monica and I hovered in the doorway, watching, too uncertain of the mood in the room and Mulder’s evident pain to venture any closer. I think we were both extremely grateful that Walter was there to take care of Mulder both physically and emotionally – he was the only one who really knew how to handle my father when he was in this much turmoil.


Walter cut Mulder’s sweater away from his injured arm to reveal that it was swollen, misshapen and clearly broken.


“You need a doctor for this,” Walter said softly. “I can’t fix it.”


“Oh great. Where the fuck are we going to get a doctor?” Mulder growled. “I’m not going to a hospital, Walter.”


“You won’t have to. Hank must know someone who can help,” Walter replied.


“Hank? Who the hell is Hank? I go away for a few weeks and when I come back there are goons guarding the front door and you’re friends with someone called Hank?” Mulder snapped.


“Yup. That about sums it up.” Walter smiled pleasantly, and dried his hands on the towel before reaching for his cell phone. Mulder stopped his hand before it got to the phone.


“You do it,” he said.


“Mulder, I can’t – it would mean manipulating the arm and it’ll cause you a lot of pain. If I screw it up then I might cause even more damage.”


“Have you ever set a bone before?” Mulder asked, his good hand still clutched tight around Walter’s wrist. Walter hesitated, and then his eyes narrowed.


“Yes. Yes I have,” he said.


“Then do it,” Mulder ordered.


“The last bone I set was thirty years ago in Vietnam,” Walter told Mulder in a steady, even tone of voice that hid a multitude of emotions. “My friend Doug had a broken leg and we were still miles from camp. The phones were down and I couldn’t call for a chopper. I needed to get him walking, so I twisted his tibia back into place and tied a makeshift splint around it…but I will never, ever forget the sound he made when I set his leg. He screamed like a wild animal, and he writhed under me as if I was killing him. I won’t listen to you screaming like that unless there’s no other option and there is another option so I’m taking it,” Walter said tersely.


Mulder stared at him, and then, finally, without saying a word, released his grip on Walter’s arm. Walter made a call to Hank, and within half an hour there was a knock at the door and a few seconds after that Monica escorted a thin, nervous looking man into the room. The doctor took one look at me and made a nervous little bow in my direction – much to Mulder’s incredulity.


“You’re bowing to my son?” He asked the man, who looked up, startled.


“He’s Adam Kasia. The saviour,” he whispered. Mulder glanced at Walter who shook his head, warning him to drop the subject.


“Well if you can spare a couple of minutes away from your devotions to see to the saviour’s dad then I’d be grateful,” Mulder drawled.


The doctor clearly wasn’t sure from Mulder’s ironic monotones whether he was joking or not – which was a problem we all had at times. He scurried to Mulder’s side, took one look at the arm and made some disapproving noises in the back of his throat.


“Don’t tell me I should go to the hospital because I’m not fucking going,” Mulder snapped.


The doctor nodded, glancing nervously at Uncle Walter who was standing very close with his arms folded over his large chest, looking very threatening.


“He isn’t usually this rude. He needs pain killers,” Walter said. “Strong ones,” he added. The doctor nodded, and got some paraphernalia out of his bag, and Walter went to stand on Mulder’s good side. The two exchanged glances, and then Walter, firmly, in a way that allowed for no refusal, took Mulder’s good hand in his own.


“You’re going to need something to hold onto,” he said, but we all knew there was more to the gesture than that.


 I couldn’t watch what happened next so I buried my face in Monica’s tummy, but I couldn’t block out the sound of my father’s hoarse yell of sheer pain a few minutes later. Monica put her arms around me and stroked my hair and I remained like that for a long time, that scream reverberating around in my head, blocking out all other noise.


“Hey, William.” It was my father’s voice; strained with his recent ordeal but still him. I looked up, to find him pale beneath his bruises but the light was still there in his hazel eyes. His arm was covered in a fibre glass cast, and there was no sign of the doctor so I don’t know how long I had phased out the rest of the world. Mulder was still gripping Walter’s hand, but now he slowly unfurled his fingers and held out his hand to me. I saw Walter shake out his own hand, which was covered in a series of tiny red crescent cuts where Mulder’s nails had dug into him when he was having his arm set. I crept, cautiously, over to the bed. I could still feel Mulder’s pain lingering around him, but his smile was welcoming. I climbed onto the bed, snuggled under his good arm, and put my arms around him, resting my head on his chest.


“Don’t go away again,” I told him. “Don’t get hurt again, Mulder. I hate it when you’re hurt.” His hand squeezed my shoulder.


“Hey, I’m fine, William,” he whispered hazily. The painkillers were clearly doing their job and the aura of pain around him was dissipating leaving a sleepy atmosphere instead. “I’m sorry, William,” he whispered. “I’m back now though and…” He hesitated. “And I missed you, kid. How are you doing?”


“Walter and I got arrested,” I told him conversationally, glancing up at him.


“That’s my boy,” Mulder grinned tiredly. “Like father like son, huh?”


I giggled, remembering all those stories Walter had told me about how Agent Mulder was always getting himself into trouble. Walter laughed too, and hugged us, his big arm somehow managing to capture both of us in its embrace.


“Are you going to tell us what happened, Mulder?” He said. “Or do you want to get some rest?”


“No. I want to be with you guys. I’ve been alone for weeks. It’s nice to have company.” He smiled at us. Monica, standing by the door, cleared her throat.


“I’m going to go after the doctor and check the care instructions and the meds,” she said, and then discreetly left the room.


“So, how did you end up like this?” Walter asked, gesturing to Mulder’s many injuries.


“I got into a fight with a super soldier. Needless to say, he won.”


“What about the magnetite bullets? Didn’t they protect you?” Walter asked. Mulder pulled a face.


“Up to a point – but…although he sure as hell backed off when I shot him, he didn’t stay down for long. Remember Billy? He screamed a lot when I shot him, but there was no body when I went back so the bullets don’t kill them.”


“Maybe bullets aren’t the best way of fighting them,” I murmured. Walter and Mulder both looked at me. “They might hurt them, but maybe…it’s the wrong way to use magnetite?” I suggested. “Kind of like Hank’s angel dust – they don’t like it, but it doesn’t kill them.”


“That’s a pretty astute observation, William,” Walter commented.


“Yeah. The problem is, Wiliam, that you need a whole quarry of magnetite to have any real impact on the super soldiers,” Mulder sighed. “We all carry magnetite around with us as a way of defending ourselves but really all it does it give us time to escape. I got the bullets made because I thought they might work, but they’re just doing more of the same – slowing the super soldiers down but nothing more. It’s a good weapon to keep them away while we’re running but if we ever have to turn and fight them, well…” He shrugged. “I haven’t given up on them though. I’m going to work on refining them.”


“Did you find anything?” Walter asked.


“Not much. I found some more on those prophecies – I was going to tell you, but I guess you know already, that saoshyant isn’t the only name the prophecies have for William. It’s the one that the super soldiers use, but there are plenty of others floating around, including the one the doctor just used, Adam Kasia.”


“Why is it the one the super soldiers use?” I asked, curious about this topic. Mulder exchanged a glance with Walter, who shrugged.


“I told him we’d keep him informed of anything that involved him,” he said. “He knows he’s not like other kids his age but that doesn’t mean that you’re not still a kid, monster,” he said tickling me. I giggled and snuggled up close to him and my father, loving being this close to them, and loving that they were together again, which, to my mind was where they belonged. I could sense a feeling of surprise emanating from Mulder – surprise that this felt so good.


“I’m not sure why the super soldiers call you saoshyant but I have an idea,” he said slowly. “Remember I said that these prophecies might all date back to the time of a great flood – a flood that’s mentioned in every culture in the world. In the bible it’s told in the story of Noah’s Ark.” I smiled. I liked the story of Noah’s Ark. Something about all the animals and people in the world being saved from destruction appealed to me. “Now, I’m hypothesising that the flood is an explanation of what happened to the world in the aftermath of the battle with the aliens…” Mulder’s eyes were alight as he spoke and I dreamily connected with the sheer mental energy pouring forth from him. He might have been a little delirious and out of his mind on pain meds, but this was something that he lived, breathed, drank and ate. He loved this kind of stuff! “And the legends all talk of a ship that saved the world; it’s common knowledge that ship came to rest on Mount Ararat, in Turkey.”


“Hold on a second. You’re saying that Noah’s Ark was a spaceship?” Walter asked, disbelievingly.


“Not just any spaceship – our ancestors’ mothership,” Mulder replied. “Now, Turkey is on the borders of Iran, Iraq and Armenia, the region where Zoroastrianism arose, and the saoshyant is a Zoroastrian concept. I believe the super soldiers are following a prophecy that originates more or less at that source – the mothership itself.”


“Okay,” Walter said easily, “but we should all bear in mind that you’re drugged up to the eyeballs right now.”


“You’re saying that I make more sense than this when I’m not?” Mulder grinned and Walter laughed.


Most of Mulder’s explanation meant nothing to me, but it was so nice being cuddled up between him and Walter that I wasn’t really listening. I let my mind wander, and followed a small white thread that led to a tiny beetle that was trying to crawl into a small gap between the floorboards. I was vaguely aware that Mulder had stopped talking and that Walter was quiet as well, and then, Mulder lifted his good hand and gently touched Walter’s arm, where it was resting on Mulder’s shoulders.


“I’m sorry. About earlier,” he whispered.


 “You were in pain,” Walter shrugged.


 “Yeah, but even so…” There was another long silence. “Walter, what happened to Doug?” He asked. Walter gave a little smile.


 “He made it. I got him back to camp and they shipped him off to Saigon for treatment. I see him every veteran’s day and every year he tells me the same story about how his leg is mostly fine but he always knows when there’s a storm brewing as it starts to ache.”


Mulder gave a little smile. He looked infinitely weary, but happy.


 “There’s so much about you that I don’t know. Whole huge chunk of your life before we even met,” he murmured. “You know everything about me.”


“Not everything.” Walter shook his head.


 “Well all the bad stuff anyway,” Mulder said, stroking Walter’s hand absently.


 “Yeah,” Walter chuckled. “And the good too…although I think I should point out that if anyone’s gonna be the prom queen in this relationship it has to be you.”


Mulder snorted out loud. “I guess I deserved that,” he muttered.


I was distracted at that moment by the appearance of three strangers in the room. I was familiar with Luke, Samantha and Emily but I hadn’t seen these guys before. One of them, a small man with glasses, wearing an ill-fitting black leather jacket, went and peered at Mulder suspiciously. The others hung back, watching.


“What’s up with him?” the little man asked.


“He’s okay now. He got into a fight with a super soldier,” I told him. “But he’s fine now. The doctor came and fixed him.”


“William, who are you talking to?” Walter asked, his voice breaking into my conversation.


“Uh, there are three men here asking about Mulder,” I said, glancing up.


“Three…? What do they look like?” Mulder asked.


I gazed at them. One of them had long blond hair and an equally long nose while the other one had a brown beard and was wearing a fussy kind of suit.


“They look…weird,” I said.


“Oh gee, great,” the blond one said. “Thanks, kid.”


“Sorry.” I grinned at him sheepishly.


“There’s three of them and they look weird? They have to be the gunmen,” Mulder said.


“He’s a fine one to talk – he looks like death on toast right now,” the little dark man commented with a sniff. I giggled.


“One of them…” I searched my mind for a name. “Froghickey…? He says you look like death on toast,” I told my father and he gave a bark of laughter.


“Yup that sounds like Frohike. Hey, guys, what are you doing here?” He asked, looking straight at the little man. I realised that, perhaps because of the pain medication he was on, my father could see our visitors – not as clearly as I could, but he could definitely make out their hazy outlines.


“We heard you were suffering, man. Thought we’d check in, see if you were okay,” the blond one – Langly? – said.


“We didn’t mean to disturb anyone,” the other one, Byers, interjected hurriedly, his eyes sweeping over the cosy bedroom scene, with Walter cradling both me and Mulder under one big arm. I relayed the message to my father who didn’t seem to be able to hear our visitors and he waved his good arm lazily, and then put his hand back over Walter’s hand. Walter watched the whole thing through slightly amazed, somewhat wary eyes but he didn’t say anything.


“You’re welcome, guys,” Mulder drawled, “but I have to tell you that you’re a bit late. All the drama’s over now.”


“I told you,” Byers said to Frohike. “I said we should have come right away.”


“We didn’t know it was serious,” Frohike replied, rolling his eyes. “We thought you were making a fuss about nothing – and look, the guy’s fine. We probably shouldn’t even have come.”


“He’s glad you did,” I told them conspiratorially. Mulder was fast fading into sleep, utterly exhausted by his injuries and the pain meds he was on.


“So, you’re the kid, huh?” Frohike leaned forward and gazed at me intently. “You don’t look much but I guess you’ll do.” I grinned at him, and he grinned back.


“Catch you later, half pint,” he said. “We should be going.” And with that, they all disappeared.


I was about to tell Mulder that they’d gone, in case he hadn’t realised, only to see that he was asleep.


“Ssh.” Walter put his finger over his lips. “We should let him get some rest,” he whispered. “And it’s time you were in bed anyway.” I nodded, and, very solemnly, kissed my father good night. Walter smiled, and I kissed him too and then crept out of the room. I paused in the doorway and looked back – to see Uncle Walter gently smoothing my father’s hair. Then he leaned over, and deposited the most gentle of kisses on Mulder’s lips. I smiled as the white threads connecting them collided in a spectacular fashion, fizzing into a beautiful display, just as they had last time they’d kissed on the lips.


I went to bed happily enough, and Uncle Walter soon came in to tuck me in. After he had gone I lay awake, feeling all tingly because my father had come back to us. I found I needed less and less sleep as I got older. I valued my time alone, and often used the time to explore my senses, or go for little out of body excursions. Not tonight though – tonight I was troubled by something that went around and around inside my head. It occurred to me that I had seen the three men that Mulder called the ‘gunmen’ because they had been close to Mulder in life and were worried about him so they had turned up to check that he was okay. I knew Luke appeared because of John, and Samantha wanted to be near Mulder. Emily was a different matter – her connection was with me. So…if Emily had appeared to be near me, and if it wasn’t only children I could see, why hadn’t I seen my mother? Why hadn’t she appeared to me the same way Emily had? Ever since I had shared my father’s memories of her back at the cabin, I had been consumed with curiosity about my mother. I might not have known her for very long, but I loved her fiercely and I had spent a great deal of my time since leaving the cabin thinking about her, wondering if she was happy where she was now, worrying about how she had died, and whether she was proud of me – in short, I had become obsessed with her. I hadn’t mentioned this preoccupation to anyone – I didn’t want to worry Uncle Walter or Monica, and it would have been absolutely impossible to say anything to Mulder. He was still so sensitive on the subject of my mother, and I knew that his loss was at least as great as my own. Still, I longed to soak up more memories of her from him, and I replayed those he had shared, over and over again so that I was completely familiar with every single nuance of how she spoke and smelled, and laughed and cried. I knew every little thing about her, but I couldn’t touch her or speak to her and that upset me.


“Why don’t you come to see me?” I whispered into the air. “Why?” But there was no reply. I fantasised that she might still be alive and that explained her absence. Maybe one day I’d find her again, and I knew that when finally we were reunited, and she held me in her arms, I would be happier than I had ever been in my entire life.


I woke the next day to the sound of my father and Uncle Walter arguing. This seemed to be a pattern of their lives – only when my father was completely wrung out, either emotionally or physically, did he let Walter past his defences to see the love he had for the big man, which he kept locked up inside as if it were a deadly secret or something to be ashamed of. Last night they had shared a tender conversation and had kissed, but this morning Mulder had scuttled back into his defensive shell, and he was making it clear that it was business as usual.


“And you just took this Mabbut guy at face value?” Mulder was saying incredulously and I guessed that Uncle Walter had finally told him about the Network and how they came to be guarding the house. “Christ, Walter, why not just invite anyone off the street and tell them all our secrets?”


“They already knew our secrets and we didn’t have a whole lot of choice about letting them into our lives,” Walter replied, his own tone less furious, more weary, as if he had anticipated this particular battle.


“Who the hell are these people?”


“They’re just that, people – ordinary people. Did you think that you were the only one who knew what was going on? Didn’t you think it was at least possible that some of the other people on this planet might have figured out what was happening? There are all the prophecies for a start, and…”


“I don’t like it,” Mulder interrupted. “I don’t trust them.”


“They want to help. They are helping. You saw that doctor last night – they worship William.”


“Well all that bowing isn’t any good for the kid,” Mulder snapped. “I can’t stand these kinds of crazies, Walter. They always have their own agenda. Right now they want to protect William but as we get closer to whatever is going to happen, maybe they’ll decide they need more control over him.”


“Nobody is going to take William away from us, Mulder,” Walter chided. “You’re just being paranoid as usual.”


“I have to be fucking paranoid! You don’t fucking understand. I’ve lost everyone, Walter, everyone.”


“You haven’t lost me,” Walter told him steadily. “And you’re not going to lose William.”


“How do you know that?” Mulder’s voice was taut with pain.


“Because, you idiot, William wouldn’t allow that,” Walter said, his voice gentle, and even a little amused.


“William’s just a kid!” Mulder protested.


“A very powerful kid,” Walter replied. “And getting more powerful every day. They might try to steal him away, Mulder, but I don’t think they’d succeed. There’s nowhere they could take him that we couldn’t find him. I have to tell you about this amazing thing he did with John when Mabbut took us to his office…”


Their voices faded, coming in and out of focus and I relaxed, realising that the arguing was over – for now. Walter seemed to know how to defuse Mulder when he was at his worst. I think he understood that most of Mulder’s volatility was a cover to hide the depth of his real feelings, which scared him with their intensity. Mulder hadn’t ever looked for love, or any kind of emotional connection with other people. His childhood had been an emotional wilderness and it always astonished him that anyone should want to love him. Then both my mother and Walter had got in under his radar. My mother’s death had hurt him to the core, and he was alternately pushing Walter away and offering him ways in, trying to protect himself from hurt at the same time as craving the love he feared would end up causing him pain. I felt for him and his predicament, but until he faced up to those emotions I knew this endless pattern of arguing and rapprochement would continue, the blazing rows punctuated by moments of such intense tenderness that they made up for everything else. Walter, endlessly patient as always, seemed content to just ride out the Mulder storm, clinging to the mast in the hope that one day the storm would abate, and they could sail on gentler seas together.




My father was in some pain for the next few days, which made him irritable – he was the world’s worst patient and there were times when his frustration with his physical condition spilled over. As usual, most of his anger was directed at himself, and occasionally at Uncle Walter. He never lost his temper with me, and I quickly took to spending days sitting on the end of his bed, loving the sound of his voice and coming to learn the scent of him, and the unique mental signature he projected. Uncle Walter’s words the previous night had impressed me with the need to be able to reach the people I loved most in the world, even if we were separated, so, to that end, I projected my thoughts out every day to touch them, and even to try and converse with them. It was easy enough to find Mulder, although his emotions were usually too intense for him to hear me, but he pulsed brighter than the aura of any other person I ever met. He shone with silvers and golds, lacking the darker, earthier tones that streaked Uncle Walter’s aura.


My father is not a man who should be confined in small spaces and he had no patience with the limitations of his own body. Mulder’s hatred of his condition had hardened into something else – something akin to hatred of himself. I picked up on this whenever I sat with him. He hated so much about himself, and his lame, weak, injured body just served to intensify that hatred. Unwittingly, I was the architect for his feelings coming to a head, and exploding. I spent most days sitting with him, and, to my shame, my obsession with my mother had reached the stage where I rifled through his memories without asking him, looking for little snapshots of her that could feed my desire for knowledge about this tantalising woman I had never known but wanted to, so badly. I know it was a terrible thing to do, especially to someone as locked up in his own pain and grief as Mulder and I honestly didn’t mean to do it. It happened almost by accident. I saw Mulder gazing out of the window, and caught a glimpse of a memory of a red curtain of hair, shining in the sunlight. Intrigued, and knowing the memory concerned my mother, I found myself slipping into his mind to explore the memory further – and then I encountered other memories, and, guiltily, I started sifting through them. I had never been able to do this before – or maybe this particular talent was one that had never been of interest to me before – but now I found it was easy to literally just browse through another person’s memory, looking at the books in a library. I don’t think Mulder even knew I was doing it, but of course the whole process of me looking for memories of my mother, made him relive those memories too, but I was so wrapped up in my own enjoyment that I didn’t notice his growing sense of unhappiness.


By the time Walter came in an hour or two later with a bowl of soup for the invalid, Mulder was already on a knife-edge. Walter put the bowl down on the nightstand and reached out to help Mulder to sit up so that he could eat more easily… and Mulder went ballistic. It seemed to come out of the blue, but I knew the roots of it. To Walter though, it must have been a complete shock. Mulder pushed Walter’s hands away and the soup went flying.


“Don’t fucking touch me,” my father growled.


“Okay.” Walter drew back holding up his hands in a calming gesture. “What’s going on?” He asked carefully. “Mulder…? What’s happening here?”


“Just…don’t…” Mulder snapped, breathing heavily. I understood what he was going through, and felt terrible.


“Uncle Walter… it’s my fault. I just wanted to see memories of my mother,” I whispered. “I’m sorry, Mulder. I’m so sorry.”


Mulder frowned, not understanding what I was saying but Walter did.


“Are you telling me that you’ve been making him relive his memories of Dana?” He asked, a dark look in his eyes. I flinched. I remembered that time with the duck, and the look of disappointment in his eyes. I never wanted to see that again.


“I’m so sorry. I didn’t think…I wanted to see her so much.”


Walter’s expression changed into one of compassion and he sighed. “It’s okay, William. I’ll deal with Mulder. Why don’t you go and have your lunch with Monica, huh?” I nodded, and scrambled out of the room, but I felt so terrible that I didn’t go downstairs to see Monica. Instead I sat on the top step and listened in on what was happening in the other room.


“Did you hear that, Mulder?” Walter asked gently, going to stand by the window. He flicked the curtain aside and looked out. “William misses Scully too. We all do.”


“I…you don’t understand,” Mulder whispered, almost tonelessly. “When I’m with you, I want to be with you…I want to touch you, and be close to you, Walter…but it seems like a betrayal of Scully and what we had together. I feel like I’m cheating on her, or abandoning her, Walter, and I hate myself so much.”


“Mulder, there are some things we all have to live with. Things we don’t like about ourselves, or our lives – things we really wish had never happened. You loved Scully and it’s okay to grieve for her. Did you ever really give yourself the chance to do that? It seems to me that you were so hell bent on vengeance and on getting to William and keeping him safe, that you never really grieved for Scully.”


I knew that Mulder’s face was as white as snow. He wasn’t physically crying but his whole body seemed convulsed by pain.


“It isn’t betrayal, Mulder,” Walter whispered softly. D’you think Scully would want you to wear a hair shirt for the rest of your life, and beat yourself up continuously about her death? You know she wouldn’t.”


Mulder nodded, his face set like granite. Walter left the window and walked silently over to the bed. He sat down, put his arm around Mulder, and pulled him close. Mulder went, unresisting. Walter rested his head against Mulder’s and they sat there, their heads touching, for a long time. Neither spoke, or cried, or laughed. They just sat. I felt a lump rise in my throat as I wondered whether my father would ever outdistance his demons for long enough to stop living with the failures and perceived failures of his past, and wake up to the happiness that was standing right next to him, if he’d only look. Walter was so steadfast, such a rock – he took care of all of us. Who, I wondered, took care of Uncle Walter?


As I had suspected, I didn’t get away with my unauthorised browsing through Mulder’s memories. Uncle Walter came to see me later that day, when Mulder’s mood had settled. I was waiting for him in the library, flicking listlessly through a book that Monica had been teaching me how to read. Uncle Walter came and sat down beside me and I bit on my lip and felt myself starting to tremble. I hardly dared look into his eyes because I knew he was disappointed in me.


“William,” he said, his tone more gentle that I had been expecting. I gathered all my courage and looked at him. His dark eyes were concerned and speculative but I was relieved to see that there was no disappointment.


“I’m so sorry, Uncle Walter,” I whispered. “Is Mulder okay now? Can I see him?”


“He’s sleeping. Maybe later,” Walter said. I nodded. “William – you’re a remarkable boy,” Walter began and I bit on my lip again, aware that a lecture of some sort was coming. I was unused to being scolded because the honest truth was that I rarely did anything wrong. I was always far too anxious to please, and I was so tuned in to the emotions and thought patterns of the people around me that the last thing I would have wanted to do was to hurt them in any way. Their pain would have been my pain, and their anger towards me too much to bear. That was partly why I was feeling so wretched – I knew just how much my father was hurting, and how hard it had been for Walter to calm him down and comfort him.


“I won’t do anything like that ever again,” I blurted to Uncle Walter. “I hate that I upset Mulder so much. If there’s anything I can do to make it better…”


“Hush. It’s okay.” Uncle Walter put a hand on my shoulder and gazed into my eyes. “It’s okay, William. Mulder will be fine. Maybe these were memories and emotions he had to face – maybe what you did was a good thing, in the long run. However…” I scrunched my face up, sure that I was going to cry. “You have powers that we don’t really understand or know how to deal with,” Walter continued. “That’s been fine up ’til now because you’ve been so comfortable with them that there hasn’t really been a problem. But…the incident today, and a few weeks ago in this room with me and Monica, makes me think that you need some guidance, William.” I nodded, because he was right. “You’re so knowing, so incredibly aware, that we tend to forget that you’re only a child. The way you talk, the things you sense, the abilities you have…it’s only when I see your handwriting, or when you ask me to tuck you in bed at night and tell you stories, that I remember just how young you are. You need our protection in many ways, William, not just physically. We’re your guardians – we have to raise you in a way that will keep you happy and safe.” I was suddenly aware of how very small I was, sitting next to him on the couch, my feet ending somewhere level with his shins, my head level with his chest. “So, I’m going to sit with you for an hour or so every day and we’ll explore your senses together. I want you to tell me if you discover any new ones, and also if any of your existing abilities develop and expand. I’ll keep a record of it in a diary so we can both measure how you’re progressing. I want you to be completely honest with me, William – there’s no need to hide anything that you can do. Hiding might be dangerous – it might hurt the people you care about.”


I gazed at him, reassured beyond belief by his calm, measured response to what had happened and his suggestion for how we deal with it.


“Thanks…thank you. It’s scary, sometimes, what I can do. Talking would help a lot,” I whispered.


“Good. Then just let me know if you want to discuss anything – any time – not just during the hour we spend exploring your talents but any time at all, day or night. Now, I need you to promise me you won’t look inside people’s heads unless they’ve given you permission. Memories are very personal things, William. If someone wants to share then that’s one thing – but you don’t take without asking. Understood?”


I nodded, dumbly, suddenly appreciating the full extent of my violation of Mulder’s privacy.


“We’re in an unusual situation in that there’s a lot of bad folks out there who want to find us…so for the moment, I’m just asking you to confine that rule to people you know to be your friends, like me, Mulder, Monica, and John. Everyone else – respect their privacy as much as possible, but not if it means endangering yourself or us. I know that’s a fine line to walk, but I think you’re responsible enough to understand it. Okay?”


His dark eyes were very solemn and I felt completely contrite.


“Okay,” I whispered.


“Good boy.”


I peeked up at him to find that he was smiling, and I realised that the lecture was over. Utterly relieved, I flung myself into his arms and he hugged me, laughing at me.


“Hey, it’s okay!” he said, kissing my head.


“I don’t like it when you’re angry with me,” I told him.


“I’m not,” he told me, gently but firmly. “William – you’re curious about your mother, that’s natural enough. Do you want to talk to me about that?”


I nodded, tears pricking the back of my eyes, and then it all came out – how I loved her even though I had barely known her, how I longed to hear her and see her and touch her, how I wanted her to hold me in her arms so that I could smell her apple-scented hair and hear her beautiful voice, and, most of all, how much I missed her.


Walter held me throughout my long, sobbing, barely comprehensible speech, not interrupting me. When, finally, I’d finished, he rocked me in his arms until my tears subsided. Then he spoke.


“I’m sorry, William. I’m so sorry. I want to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before.” He paused and stroked my hair affectionately and then took a deep breath and continued. “My own mother died when I was about your age. That was one of the reasons why I asked Mulder to let me be the one to watch over you at the Granger place. When my mother died, it was a different generation. Nobody even told me she was sick – she had cancer, but people didn’t talk about things like that when I was a kid. She just got thinner and thinner and one day she went away. My father didn’t even tell me she was dead. He just said she wouldn’t be coming back and after that we were never allowed to talk about her. I spent years wondering where she was and whether one day I’d see her again. It took me a long time to realise that she had died, and not just gone away. I’ll never forget the day I realised she wasn’t coming back – I was sitting in school and the teacher was telling us about a famous author who’d died of cancer… she told us how he got thinner and thinner and then he died. I realised that was what happened to my mother. I never trusted my father after that. That was one of the reasons why I upped and enlisted for Vietnam on my 18th birthday…” He paused, and shook his head, realising he’d gotten off the subject, but I was fascinated – I loved hearing about his past. “When I came out to the ranch, I knew it was a different situation for you because you’d been with Dana for such a short period of time,” Walter continued. “But I knew that one day somebody would have to tell you that she was dead – and I wanted it to be me, because I knew the wrong way of doing it and I hoped I’d find a better way. I knew I couldn’t spare you the pain of it, William, but I wanted to be there to help you through it because nobody was there for me.”


I gazed at him, utterly distracted from my own grief by what he was saying. So much of Uncle Walter’s personality fell into place for me in that moment. He was so big, and could be so strong, so much the warrior, that it was easy for people to misjudge him, and they frequently did.  Yet underneath he had an empathy for other people’s pain because he had been hurt so badly himself when he was a child, and he had never forgotten how that felt. No wonder he was always taking care of people – nobody had taken care of him when he needed them most, and he wanted to make sure that the people he loved didn’t suffer the same way. I loved him even more for that.


Mulder gradually got better over the next few weeks, and when he was fully recovered he became his old quicksilver, restless self again. He played baseball with me and Walter in the yard to burn off some of his excess energy, and nagged Uncle Walter for days on end to buy a basketball hoop so that we could shoot some hoops together. His questing nature meant that he found it hard to be inactive, and he spent long nights in the library looking through books, or using the internet to research all the names for me that kept cropping up in the prophecies. He became our resident expert on the mythology surrounding the saoshyant, Adam Kasia, and all the other prophecies that told of the coming of a saviour.


For the first few weeks he argued with Walter almost constantly about the presence of the Network in our lives. He hated that other people were involved because he trusted virtually nobody. It had taken him a long time to fully trust Walter, Monica and John, and he didn’t extend that circle of trust easily. He disliked the feeling of being watched and guarded, but the Network did keep a discreet distance – although whether that was to their credit or because Uncle Walter had warned Hank Mabbut to keep out of sight or risk Mulder uprooting us all one dark night, I don’t know.




As it turned out, we had cause to be grateful to the Network several times over the next few years. I had one birthday in Mulder’s house, and then, out of the blue, the Network got word that a group of aliens and a whole squad of super soldiers had tracked us down and were on their way – there would be too many for us to fight using the angel dust. The Network had prepared for this eventuality, in consultation with Mulder, Walter, Monica and John, and we were hurriedly moved on to another town, several hundred miles away. Hank came with us; he acted as our liaison with the Network during our years on the run and I grew to like him, despite the unfortunate circumstances of our first meeting.


After that, we moved on regularly, every few weeks, going from one small Network town to another. There were little Network towns all over the US – I think even Mulder was surprised by how many of them there were. They were always small – they had to be in order to keep an eye on any newcomers and notice when any of the existing residents changed but this Network of loyal human beings kept us alive, and I will be eternally grateful to them. They were the epitome of the human spirit at its best, and several of them over those few years died protecting us. They were just ordinary people – folks who knew they’d be ridiculed if they tried to speak of what they knew, but who all the same carried the conviction in their hearts that something very wrong was happening.


The world was changing day by day – aliens and super soldiers were taking the place of people, and as I got older and my powers developed even more, I sensed the essential wrongness of what was happening. It was as if there was a sickness permeating the world, an open wound that grew larger and larger with each passing day. The intricate threads that connected all the life on this planet were disrupted and broken in places, the dances that kept the world turning were still twirling and flowing but now they were interrupted by sudden obstacles, their whirling patterns becoming more and more desperate as they tried to fill the sudden gaps caused by the invasion of an alien energy that destroyed the harmony of the entire world. I found it distressing to watch – I had seen how beautiful it was, and when it was out of sync it hurt, like having a permanent toothache. How long, I wondered, before that ache would spread, until the whole body was diseased, and eventually died? I knew there was a timescale to what would happen, a countdown to my moment of destiny, but I still had no idea what it was I was supposed to do. What use were all my powers? How was I supposed to use them? My father tried frantically to instruct me, to instil in me all the knowledge I’d need, while my Uncle Walter took the view that when the time came, I’d know what to do, acting on those instincts that had carried me through my life thus far. I think, in a way, that they were both right. Whatever the outcome, I knew the date well enough. Mulder had tried to protect my mother from this knowledge, years before, but he had long since given up trying to hide the date since then. An ancient Mayan prophecy, and all the prophecies from the spacecraft, pointed to a year when the great threat would finally explode, and the apocalypse would dawn: 2012.


“How on earth is a 10 or 11 year old boy supposed to save the whole world?” Uncle Walter would say, despairingly, to Mulder during his darker hours. “If only we had more time. If only he had more time,” but the truth was that we were in the grip of something far larger than any of us, and we were merely swept up in it, and could only hope that one day all the answers would become clear.


People often ask me how much of what happened was ordained – it’s that old, eternal question about fate and free will and I have my own opinion about that; we were all of us born to do our job – Mulder is the archetypal seeker found in so many myths – always looking for answers, for the truth, and it had been he who alerted us to the coming danger. Uncle Walter is the archetypal keeper – the protector, the one who kept me safe. Monica and John and even Hank and many, many others, were all born to fulfil a certain role, as was I, the so-called saviour; the saoshyant or Adam Kasia. My story conformed to many elements of the myth of the saviour; an unusual birth, shrouded in mystery; many obstacles during my infancy and childhood; the possession of unusual talents and abilities – they all fit the stereotype. Beyond that though – well, I believe the fate of the world depended upon us doing those jobs we had been born for, but there was no guarantee that we would, or that we would do them well, or even if we did do them well that we would win. That was down to a combination of luck and our own efforts – there was no destiny about that. Our being born was our destiny – our winning the eventual battle would be entirely a matter of our own guts, determination and ingenuity. As I got older, I came to the chilling conclusion that nothing was pre-ordained; we might lose, and if we did this entire world, this beautiful blue-green orb that I loved so much, would die with us. That thought upset me beyond endurance.


The next few years brought me an increase of my powers but with that came a greater understanding of the task ahead of me, and the responsibilities that rested on my young shoulders, and there were times that I longed for the innocence of my early childhood, sitting in the hired man’s room at the ranch, listening to my Uncle Walter’s stories.


Over the next few years Uncle Walter’s diary charted the incredible explosion of my powers. As it turned out, it was Mulder who usually spent that hour a day exploring my abilities – Uncle Walter tended to just take notes but Mulder was absolutely intrigued by the whole process of my developing powers. I fascinated him, and he liked nothing better than setting me little tests to see whether I could do more one day than I had the day before, measuring the development of my abilities in countless little ways that he’d devised. I’ll never forget those sessions, my father’s entire body consumed by a lively, excited restlessness as we worked together, his enthusiasm boundless. Uncle Walter made sure he didn’t push me too hard, and I loved that hour each day when I had the undivided attention of the two people I loved most in the world.


As my abilities grew, I found that I needed sleep less and less, and the eavesdropping that had been a nasty habit of mine since early childhood was now a daily pastime – only as well as eavesdropping on the conversations around me, now I could travel across the world without leaving my bed; I could listen to a housewife arguing with her husband in Russia, a small girl playing in a stream in China, a couple of men talking about football on a bus in England…there were no limits to my range. I ‘visited’ people all over the world, and found that when I was outside my body, language was no barrier. I understood the language of people and never had any trouble understanding them – I always navigated more by the more nebulous map of emotions and thought patterns than verbal speech anyway.


Mindful of Uncle Walter’s strictures about invading people’s memories, I didn’t actively browse through people’s minds any more – although they frequently broadcast memories to me unwittingly, and I devoured those easily enough. None of what I did was malicious – I was simply eternally voracious for information about all the creatures that shared this world with me. I was as curious about the experiences of the squirrels in the yard as I was about other people. I loved to connect with my fellow dwellers of the world in this way. It fascinated me – no, it did more than that, it fed me. There were times when I was so fat with knowledge, with that feeling of being connected with everything around me, that I glowed white hot with energy – and I loved that feeling more than any other in the world. I could see the threads connecting me to the world, could travel along each and every one of them, and find out where they led me. Sometimes, and more frequently as the years passed, the threads led me to a smouldering black hole that looked as if it had been seared with heat, burnt and truncated at its source, and I always turned away in anger, fear and sadness when I encountered that – for it was another human being lost to the alien force that was consuming this world piece by piece.


I knew by the evidence all around me, even without the prophecies, that our lives were heading towards an irrevocable change – and soon. I was now on the cusp of my tenth birthday, and 2012 loomed ever closer.




John Doggett had remained in his job at the FBI purely in order to provide us with information. He used his job to keep abreast of anything that might concern or affect us, but as the time passed, I knew that Monica feared for him.


“Don’t go back,” she would beg, when he had managed to drive or fly to where we were currently hiding out, and spend a few brief hours or days with us.


“I have to, Monica,” he would tell her, that husky voice of his beseeching her to understand. “We need all the information we can get and we need my badge – it’s our protection.”


I didn’t really understand how the FBI worked – I knew that there were already a large number of aliens and super soldiers working there, but I had no way of knowing how many. I did know that to some extent they had been hampered in their efforts to get too solid a stronghold by John’s actions and those of his boss, Alvin Kersh. Kersh was a strange man – it had taken him a long time to grasp the full force of the alien conspiracy but once he did, his allegiance was unswerving. He played his cards very close to his chest though, and I knew there were times when straightforward, bluff, honest John, was utterly exasperated with him. Between them they kept the FBI from falling totally into alien hands – but it was hard work.


“I’m scared that one day you’ll come back to me and you won’t be you,” she told him. He held her, and I knew that he didn’t have any reassurances to give her. He was in an exposed position and he knew it. Every day he spent in his job placed him in grave danger but he got word to us of at least two attempts on my life and that was why he stayed. I’ll always be grateful to him.


Late one night, a few weeks after they had that conversation, I woke with a feeling of foreboding in my stomach; something was badly wrong. I stretched out my senses but the house was quiet; there were no aliens or super soldiers nearby. I could hear Uncle Walter snoring and Mulder muttering in his sleep as he frequently did, and Monica was fast asleep, wrapped up in John’s USMC tee shirt, which she always wore to bed. She insisted he regularly give her one of his worn tee shirts and wouldn’t wash it before wearing it – John laughed at her but she said the smell comforted her and I understood that. Smell can be so evocative, and I’ve found it prompts memories more than any of the other senses. There were no intruders in the house, and outside nothing stirred either. Our Network guards were positioned discreetly around the house and some were even on watch in the outskirts of the town, but there was no danger that I could see. John was the only other one of my little circle of protectors who wasn’t present so my thoughts turned immediately to him, and I projected myself down the white, glowing threads that connected us, and leapt straight into his body.


It was well past midnight but he was still in his basement office in the Hoover Building. He spent a lot of time there these days – I think he felt safer there than at home, with all the security the building had, which was ironic really considering what was about to happen. I immediately realised, upon finding myself in John’s body, that he was asleep at his desk. I projected myself out of the room, and into the hallways, and didn’t have far to go before I saw them. There was only one alien, but he was surrounded by a pack of ten super soldiers, all wearing FBI tags – and all headed in the direction of John’s office. I knew immediately what they intended to do to him, and fled back to John’s body. He was still fast asleep, and the only thing I could think of doing to wake him was to ‘shout’ very loudly. I remembered the way I had yelled for Uncle Walter’s help when my adopted parents had been killed back on the ranch, and I tried, purposefully this time, to do the same thing. My first effort produced only the faintest whisper and I despaired of waking him in time. I remembered the last time I had tried to get John’s attention from afar, when Walter and I had been arrested; John has a very firm grip on reality and isn’t attuned to his surroundings in the same way that Monica and Walter are. He was therefore very hard to get through to. Increasingly desperate, I poured all my energy into one massive shout:


“JOHN!” It’s the loudest shout in history, having to carry as it did from our location somewhere in the mid-west all the way to Washington DC – but it worked! Unfortunately it had a side effect that I hadn’t anticipated and John wasn’t the only one who heard that bellow – thousands of people all over America woke up with a thundering headache and the name ‘John’ reverberating around inside their skulls. Only the most sensitive were affected, but still, a lot of people heard, including the person it was intended for. John woke with a start, and, having captured his attention, I proceeded to talk to him.


“John, get out of there, NOW!” I ordered in the most imperative tone my ten-year-old mind could muster. He looked around, startled.


“William?” He said blearily.


“They’re in the elevator on the 4th floor. They’re coming for you. Get out!” I could feel the elevator going lower, and knew it wouldn’t be long before it hit the basement – they were seconds away from him. John, to his credit, didn’t hesitate. He just got up and ran straight out of the door. I was amazed how easy it had been to talk to him once I had gotten his attention – it really was as simple as having a conversation with somebody on the telephone and if I hadn’t been so worried about him I’d have been utterly exhilarated. I stayed in his body, feeling dizzy as he ran up two flights of stairs. John Doggett is a fit man, and he moved at several times the speed my own short legs would have been capable of. I felt jostled, out of control, a spectator inside someone else’s body. I couldn’t close my eyes to shut out the sight of the world whizzing by too fast, so I just had to go along for the ride. Unbeknownst to me, my initial loud roar had woken up everyone in the house – they were all so closely connected to me that they had heard it as loudly as John had. They were all clustered around my bed, watching my inert body, waiting for me to come back to it and tell them what the hell was going on. Monica in particular was frantic – the name I had shouted had been ‘John’ after all. She sat holding my hand, while Walter stood beside her, one hand rested comfortingly on her shoulder. Mulder stood by the window, half in shadow, his arms crossed over his bare chest, a frown creasing his forehead as he willed me to succeed in whatever I was doing.


John ran along a hallway, and down towards the main entrance.


“NO!” I cried, sensing another posse of aliens just around the corner. “Back.” He turned almost seamlessly, ran up another flight of stairs, and along a long corridor. It was dark, and like all big, institutional buildings that are bustling and full during the day, at night it seemed sinister, every footstep echoing resoundingly as John ran.


“Anyone ahead?” John asked me, silently, and I projected ahead and found the way clear.


“No – but is there a way out there?” I asked.


“There’s an elevator leading to the parking garage.”


“Then hurry,” I replied. “The parking garage is where they’re headed next.”


He sped up, hit the button for the elevator, and leapt inside the moment it opened. We watched the buttons light up as we went down each floor. As we left ‘G’, headed towards ‘PG’, John asked me to look ahead again.


“If they’re there, then I’ll just hit the elevator to go straight back up,” he said.


“They aren’t there yet – but you’ve only got about 20 seconds on them. They’re coming down the stairs,” I told him.


“Okay.” He stood, ready, and as the doors opened we were out of that elevator in a shot. He ran for his car, got in, and screeched out of the garage so fast that he laid patches of rubber on the asphalt. “What about the exit?” He said.


“One of the super soldiers is there,” I warned him. “The others are coming up behind.” At that moment, the posse of super soldiers appeared behind us. They were running so fast that even in the car I didn’t think we’d outdistance them but John had other ideas. He revved down hard on the gas, and the car sped forward towards the exit.


“One ahead, just coming up on the left,” I told him.


“Okay – look, I’ve got magnetite bullets in my gun. I’m going to take aim and fire. While I’m doing that, I need you to steer the car and get us through this crash barrier – I don’t have time to stop. D’you think you can do that?” He asked. “I’ve only got one set of eyes and arms so we’ll have to share ‘em, but I figure that if you take the right arm I’ll use the left to shoot.”


“I’ll try,” I replied, wondering if this was even possible. I slid my senses down and took control of his right arm, and he gave a gasp as it suddenly went numb and started doing things that he wasn’t making it do. He stamped down on the gas, and I steered the car as best I could. The super soldier suddenly appeared alongside us, and John fired his gun at him as I steered the car through the crash barrier. I couldn’t say whether I was more terrified or exhilarated by our high-speed chase out of the FBI building. I guess there isn’t a 10 year old boy alive who doesn’t want to drive a car, and it was amazing being able to do it in such thrilling circumstances, but at the same time I was scared out of my wits. There was a horrific noise and I wasn’t sure what was happening for several seconds, and then I realised we were out of the parking garage, still moving – and headed straight for a shop window.


“William!” John yelled and I steered the car frantically away, scraping and taking the side mirrors off several parked cars. “Okay…give control of the car back to me,” John ordered and obeyed with a sigh of relief. “Where are they now?” He asked.


“Still behind us…but they’re not fast enough to catch the car,” I told him. Even so, neither of us relaxed until a few hours later when he exchanged the deeply battered vehicle we’d driven out of the parking garage for one of the cars that we kept in various hide-outs all over the country for this kind of eventuality. It was only then, when he was sure that we had shaken off our pursuers, that he reached for his cellphone and called Monica. She answered immediately; it felt strange hearing her voice through his ears.


“John? Are you okay?”


“I’m fine,” he reassured her. “A few cuts and bruises but nothing serious.”


“Where are you? What happened?”


He told her and I heard her repeat what he’d said to Walter and Mulder.


“What about William? Is he okay? Is he there?” I heard Walter ask in the background.


John chuckled. “He’s fine. He’s still with me so you’re kind of talking to us both right now.”


“Well tell him to get the hell home,” Mulder called. “Remind him that I’m his father and I disapprove of him sneaking out in the night to have adventures halfway across the country. I’d ground him if I could figure out how the hell to do it!”


We all laughed at that, but I was aware of feeling extremely tired after all the exertion of the night so I said goodbye to John, and travelled along the white threads back to my body. I came to, to find Monica still talking to John on the cell phone – just a couple of seconds had passed since I had been in the car with him, listening to her, and now I was in the same room with her. I sat up, disoriented, blinking blearily.


“Is John really okay?” Monica asked me, after saying goodbye to him.


“He’s fine,” I reassured her. “He’s driving here. You’ll see him soon.” I repeated the story about what had happened all over again, and Mulder and Walter exchanged worried glances over my head.


“He’s finished at the Bureau now. It’s too dangerous,” Mulder stated flatly. Walter’s jaw did a savage sideways snap.


“Damn. I hate to think of that place belonging to them.” I sensed Walter’s sadness – he believed in the FBI, in what it stood for, in justice and the law, in a way that I don’t think any of the others really appreciated or understood and it cut him up to think that we’d finally abandoned the Bureau to our enemies.


“I’m glad he’s going to be with us. I hated it each time he went back,” Monica said.


I didn’t say anything but I was glad that John would be coming back too. For purely selfish reasons it meant that Luke would visit more often for a start – and as Luke, Samantha and Emily were my main playmates, and Luke and I were now the same age, I anticipated having some fun with him. I did also want to have John where I could see him. I didn’t want to lose any of the people I had come to love and view as my family, and in some peculiar way, the older I got, the less I viewed them as my protectors and the more I started viewing myself as their protectors. I was their early warning system, and, as had just happened with John, I was as good at helping them out when they were in trouble as they had always been at protecting me.


John arrived the following day, looking weary, but essentially upbeat, as usual. He made straight for me and gave me a big hug the moment he arrived.


“William, you saved my ass!”


It felt strange looking at him, having known what it was like to be inside his body and having seen the world through his eyes and I took a few moments to adjust. It was one thing having these abilities, but sometimes I needed some time just to take a reality check.


“There’s one thing that’s been bothering me,” John said, as he sat down wearily in a chair. “What the hell happened to Kersh? There was no warning from him that this was about to happen – nothin’. Do you know where he is, William? I need to tell him what happened and I can’t reach him on his cell.”


I knew Kersh well enough to be able to trace him – we’d met on one occasion – so I sent out my thoughts along the little white glowing lines that connected us, and followed down the one that led to Kersh…only to find a dark, black, smouldering hole at the end where he should have been. It’s completely different to what happens when someone dies – then their energy is simply consumed into the whole – so I knew what had happened to him.


“I’m sorry, John. They got to him first,” I whispered.


“Christ, he’s…?”


“They’ve already infected him with the virus and killed his body – he’s mutating into a super soldier right now,” I told him wearily. I hated it so much when this happened. John shook his head, and I could feel everyone’s shock.


“Oh damn. I admit that I had some issues with the man, but he came through for us more than once. Goddamn it!” John got up, and kicked his chair angrily.


“Another few minutes and it could have been you, John,” Monica said, placing a hand on his arm. “Thank god William was able to warn you.”


“Yeah.” John looked at me, an expression of profound gratitude in his eyes but I was thankful too – the thought of John’s life-force disappearing into one of those smouldering, burnt-out black holes upset me more than I can express, and I couldn’t bear to think how devastated Monica would have been if that had happened.


I liked having John around again. He’s such a man’s man and he filled a very important and necessary slot in my family; he didn’t have Mulder’s volatile moodiness, sharp dry humour, and incredible intellect that always kept me endlessly fascinated, and neither did he have Monica’s intuitive grasp of my abilities and emotions. While he and my Uncle Walter had some superficial likenesses, John didn’t have Uncle Walter’s innate air of authority, or his underlying complexity. John Doggett was a simple, flesh and blood man – an everyman really, and I found him incredibly easy to be around. John was still a sceptic – if he couldn’t see it, or touch it then he had a problem accepting it. The two instances in which he had been personally affected by my abilities were profound experiences for him and I believe it was for this reason that he suggested, soon after returning to us, that we make an attempt to unite the country – and the world if possible – against the aliens in our midst.



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