Author's note at end
He screamed and kept on screaming.
Pandemonium broke out. The boys in his bedroom woke and jumped out to bed to run to him. And the screaming continued. Lights blinked on in the halls and footsteps came running.
Students and caregivers burst into the room. No one seemed to be in charge. Nothing like this had happened before. Kelly made her way to the bed. David's scream was weakening now, but only because his voice was giving out. His body was still arched in what looked like pain. His eyes were squeezed as tightly shut as possible.
She wanted to take his hand, do something, but she couldn't get that close. As his voice died, a measure of control returned. One of the guards, Kelly had never considered them as anything else, began herding the students out of the room, even the ones that lived there. Beds would be found somewhere.
The nurse arrived but she seemed as useless as everyone else. Kelly resisted as long as she could, but eventually she too was pushed from the room. What the hell was happening to him?
There wasn't much sleep, although the corridors cleared out. People arrived within the hour, so more activity kept those few that had lain back down awake. Most of the kids didn't bother.
They sat in little clumps, not necessarily within their own bedrooms. Speculation ran wild. It was obvious this was no regular nightmare. By daylight word was spreading that David was catatonic.
Kelly recognized the testers as they rushed through the dining room as a few people attempted to eat breakfast.
David had been moved to the infirmary, but no ambulance had arrived. Even now he was going to be isolated completely within this complex. If any of the kids had doubts before, they were gone now. They were in prison. But their crime was unknown.
Some of the girls asked questions. They weren't answered as much as brushed off, but everyone could see that the adults were as rattled as the kids.
Classes were attempted that day, but as no one, including the teachers, were paying attention, they were dismissed the next day.
It was near evening the second day when he stirred. His head hurt, but opening his eyes and seeing the full cadre of testers surrounding him hurt more. He had no clue what had happened, but it had to be dire from the expressions on their faces.
What had happened?
They gave him no time to dwell on it. Testing such as he had never known began. It took all of his concentration to fend them off. Even knowing they had chosen the timing while he was weak didn't help. He finally pretended to fall asleep from exhaustion and eventually they believed him and left only two on guard around him.
What the hell had happened? He had a vague memory of being in Mulder's mind. Where was he? Maybe that would bring him up to speed. Mulder? Shit! Where was he? Mom? He was being monitored, so he had to keep calm.
Mom? Still in prison, yes, she had refused to answer Congress's questions. He hadn't been gone that long. But certainly long enough to attract way too much attention. He sought out Kelly's mind and brought himself up to date on the rumors and what little fact she had been able to glean.
She was more than worried about him. She knew his secrets, at least some of them, so that made her vulnerable as well. Eventually someone would tell the testers that they had spent time together. What the hell, he tried to send soothing thoughts to her. He'd reached Mom that time over a great distance. He needed to warn Kelly, but keep her calm at the same time.
He felt her attention spike, then, "David?" She hadn't spoken aloud, she knew better than that, but she had felt him.
He didn't know what she might be able to pick up. She wasn't like Mulder or Mom, but he tried anyway. "I'm okay. Protect yourself." He repeated it several times and she seemed to relax and slip into sleep herself.
It was too dangerous to go looking for Mulder right now. He'd have to wait and hope that he could look after himself for now.
It felt later, he wasn't sure he was completely awake, so it might have been a dream. Mulder was back in his mind. Vaccination, mud, a stolen truck. It was all muddled in his head and part of that might have been from time zones. Mulder appeared to still be in Russia and some woman was helping him.
He was out of the prison, the truck was wrecked. His arm? Exhausted, David drifted back off. Mulder was alive.
Things at the school didn't go back to normal. There was no longer a pretense that David was not the sole object of their investigations. One or more of the testers now lived at the school and rotated their time. The kids kept their distance from him, even Kelly physically, but she talked to him. Since she knew he could hear her, she kept him up to date of what the kids were saying and doing. She apologized a couple of times for assuming he didn't already know everything she told him, and he sent soothing feelings to her. It seemed to work. While she couldn't pick up words or thoughts, she did seem to get his feelings and that helped.
Mulder was back home. That was a little fuzzy, it had happened while the testing was at its most intense. David had spent a lot of concentration on not giving the testers what they wanted. He did pick up his mother's joy when Mulder had appeared at the hearing, as well as the fear and loathing of the congressman. There was no one to tell about that, so he held that in memory and didn't speak of it.
Things seemed to settle into a new normal at the school, at least a routine reemerged and for a few weeks things seemed to go very smoothly with Mulder and Mom.
Of course that didn't last, Mulder made some boneheaded comment about being in charge. Geez, even David knew how to treat women better than Mulder did. He'd never put Kelly down like that.
Anyway, Mom had gone off without him to investigate some Russian protection racket and nearly gotten herself killed by a psycho who had actually talked her into a tattoo! That wasn't like Mom, but even knowing what he did about how girls thought, he didn't understand that. It was a cool tattoo though, a snake biting its own tail.
There were other cases, though David had to remain vigilant constantly now with the testers there. He observed from his hated distance and tried to hold on to the fact that his parents knew what they were doing - most of the time.
Then came the guy made out of cancer. When he had attacked Mom in the back of the ambulance, it was his words that froze David more than his actions. Cancer? No, not Mom.
He wanted to scan her, but of course that wasn't something he could do. He did follow along mentally when she finally broke down and saw a doctor. Kelly got him through that day. She could now pick up his feelings even when he didn't try to broadcast them to her. At least the testers hadn't realized it so they weren't harassing her as well.
Mom had done the right thing. She had called Mulder. Neither of them might want to admit how they really felt, but when it mattered, they turned to one another.
Denial, Mulder was good at that - at least in the light. Mom didn't know the nights he couldn't sleep, didn't dare to try because of the nightmares. All of the dreams concerned losing Mom in one way or another. For Mom it was the opposite. During the day, she faced dying, leaving Mulder, but at night her dreams were filled with him saving her. She felt safer at night, knowing that Mulder stood guard somehow. Of course, neither spoke of it. There were times David just wanted to shake them.
The guys had come in handy, keeping Mulder sane and probably saving Mom's life with their information. The woman that Mom had grown to know and like had died. Mulder had only been saved by that bullet-proof glass.
And he was stuck here with these damn testers and . . . Okay, he had to get free. Yes, he was young, but he had an advantage that no one would defeat. They had sure as hell tried. He needed a plan . . . and he needed to save Kelly as well. They were alone in the world, just like the others. There might be a search, but he would know it. And if he and Kelly had the time, who knew what she might be able to do with some training.
No money and no transportation. That's what he needed to concentrate on. Mom was getting weaker. There was no way he was going to let her die before he got a chance to meet her. He could not let that happen. He'd already miss the opportunity to meet Deep Throat, Granddaddy Scully and Aunt Melissa. That was enough.
He was fourteen, but tall enough to pass for at least sixteen. He didn't need to shave daily, but he had a little facial hair. That might make him look a little older. He needed enough money to get Kelly and himself to DC. Why the hell had he not started this before his personal body guards had shown up?
At least he knew when no one was watching. He never took all of the money in whoever's wallet or purse he checked. He limited himself to a five dollar bill or a couple of ones. But it was taking so long.
Mulder was being a jerk. David knew it was fear, and maybe Mom knew it too, but it didn't matter. She needed him and he needed her. Something had to be done. What was the cure for cancer?
He began searching the minds of people around him for the names of doctors. Then he tried searching their minds. Nothing. No one knew any cure for her cancer.
He didn't even try to hide his depression. Let them think it was because of the testers. It wasn't like he could explain it anyway. He needed some time alone with Kelly. She needed to be onboard to escape with him. He wanted her to come, but he wasn't going to force her. Damn it all! Time was moving too quickly.
He'd learned a lot more about his family as well. Grandma Maggie was a force to be reckoned with. He had known about her since his grandfather had died, but he'd always concentrated on Mulder and Mom. Now she was making her presence known to him. She'd invited her son, Bill, home to try to talk Mom into taking better care of herself, to stop working and get better treatment. It wasn't working, but Uncle Bill was a real shit. Mom didn't need the extra stress and Mulder had actually gone out of town.
That had pissed David off. He had to admit that. Mom needed him and he was off looking for alien remains. The denial was too much now. Could he not see how sick she was? No, he didn't, he couldn't. And she wouldn't let him.
Kritschgau, David didn't trust him. The man had an agenda of his own, but surprisingly he also had a shield. That worried David; he was too close to people that matter.
He didn't have nearly as much money as he needed just for himself and he had to get Kelly out as well.
At least Mulder was back now, but David could feel his devastation. He and Mom now believed that she had been given cancer to hurt him. David didn't believe it. The people in this conspiracy didn't have that kind of power, did they? David didn't know whose mind to search to find out. It was one of his main frustrations. That and the damn testers.
Mulder drew David's attention when he spotted a light in his ceiling. What the hell? David looked around; spotting the tester he was following mentally to ensure it wasn't looking at him right then. Mulder ran upstairs. Under surveillance? Their adrenaline began to pump together. Thank god the monitors were off of him, that damn tester was one of the feebler ones, but still . . .
He jerked as the gun went off. Kelly was following him and turned to the tester, asking him a question and further distracting him. Mulder! No, he wasn't hurt, but he had killed the man that had been watching his apartment from above.
David tried to center himself and glanced at Kelly nodding his thanks. Yes, he definitely had to take her with him when he got out of this place. Why had it taken so long for him to realize this place was a prison?
He tried to keep his distance as Mulder hauled the dead man downstairs and arranged him on the floor of his own apartment. He flinched when Mulder shot him in the face to obliterate his features. Mulder's feelings were stony, detached. This man was part of the conspiracy that had attacked him through Scully, causing her untold pain for years. There could be no sympathy.
The yearning to be there, trying to help nearly overwhelmed him. As soon as he could, he'd be there as soon as he could.
He was getting ready for bed when Mulder startled Mom at her apartment. She immediately put on her strong and healthy act for him and Mulder brought her up to date on what had happened.
Their plan seemed weak to him, but even he didn't see a better way for them, since they couldn't do what he did.
The tester grabbed his arm, bringing him fully to the present and he reluctantly let go of Mulder's mind. The next few hours were sheer torture. Not that the tester was that harsh, it was not being able to check in on what was important. David didn't dare let his concentration slip, even with this little turd of a human.
He was aware peripherally when his mother's mind winked out of him. He didn't react. She was probably taking a nap. She tired so easily these days.
It wasn't until later that he was able to check in. Mulder had gotten something from the bowels of the Pentagon and had taken it to the guys. David could feel his mood swing widely from confidence and hope to uncertainty and despair as Mulder waited for them to discover what was in the small vial.
It was Byers who had to destroy him - deionized water. David felt the bottom drop out. As untrustworthy as Cancerman was, Mulder had held onto hope. He got Frohike to call the office; he needed to check in with Scully. Mulder and David both froze at the expression on Frohike's face.
"What!" Then Mulder was racing to the hospital. Frohike hasn't been able to get any details, but an ambulance had taken her away. It didn't matter that his cover was blown, he had to see her.
"I'm only half dead," he'd said to Skinner. David could tell if he meant the woman lying unconscious in the bed or not, but it felt like it. David withdrew, giving them privacy, knowing that he had failed himself. There was no way he could get there in time. He was never going to meet his mother. There was nothing he could do.
He didn't bother to get out of bed the next morning. An additional tester arrived to back up the little shit, but David didn't care.
Mulder was finally forced to leave her side - the priest and good old Uncle Bill had made that obvious. Mom thought Skinner was dirty, and David couldn't get through to her to tell her it was someone else. He didn't know who, but it wasn't Skinner.
Cancerman had been waiting. Just lying there in bed, David shuddered at the proximity of the man.
"Please tell me you're here with severe chest pains." David managed to hide his grin at that. He felt the same.
"You should be glad for why I'm here, pay you some respect." What the hell was the bastard talking about?
"Go to hell."
"For your cleverness, and your resource, what you managed to do for Scully."
"What are you talking about?" David almost hated that tiny flare of hope, but he understood it.
"Well, breaching the security at the Defense Department Facility. Finding the cure for her disease."
"What I found was useless."
"On the contrary, it's essential to her survival. If you like, we could step outside and I might explain myself? I'm here tonight as a friend, Agent Mulder."
David watched him play it cool, but Mulder got away from the older man as soon as possible and raced back to the Gunmen's lair.
He and Mulder were holding their breath in unison while Byers rechecked the small tube Mulder had brought earlier. If he'd been standing, David was sure he would have staggered when the minuscule chip fell into the pan. He ignored the apologies as did Mulder. Whatever it was, he had to get it back to Scully, Mom, and now.
The argument with Bill was maddening. Okay, the man didn't reach for extreme possibilities. But why wasn't he willing to try anything to safe his sister's life? Grandma Maggie kept quiet but David could feel the conflict in her mind as well. Rationalization vs. love. Before she could decide, Mom put an end to the discussion.
"I think that everybody here has their heart in the right place. But I need it to be my decision."
"Dana - "
"I know you're only looking out for me, Bill. But I don't think you have all the facts."
David scowled at the thoughts Bill had then and wished once more that he had the ability to knock the man flat from here.
"I'd like to try this." David closed his eyes at his mother's words. He had no idea what the chip was, but Mulder believed and that's what David had to trust.
The doctor threw everyone out then. Mom was exhausted and he needed privacy to insert the chip. It wasn't exactly hospital protocol.
Mulder wanted to wait right there, even after his words with Bill. David bristled at their interchange. Mulder wasn't the sorry SOB in this case but Cancerman's call had drawn him away.
At the diner another of the clones, the Samantha's, came to Mulder. David couldn't reach him, but he stayed in his mind. It was late, people thought he was asleep. The tester had left his seat at the far end of the room to get coffee in any case. David kept a grip on Mulder's mind, at least leaking doubt about this woman to him.
David was feeling overwhelmed. He needed to be with his mother and Mulder. He needed to know what was going on, but the testers were relentless. He knew that if he dropped his guard, even for a moment, they would have him. He would be taken from this place that, while still a prison, was familiar. He had allies here, Kelly of course, but some of the others were angry at his treatment.
Cancerman was pressuring him to join him. Giving him another glimpse of his sister, even though it wasn't really her, the cure for Mom's cancer . . . At least he seemed sincere about that. Now this damn hearing about the man Mulder had shot. It was self-defense, the other man had fired his gun as well, but Mulder had changed the scene, hidden evidence. David was ready to take a baseball bat to this tester. Would that be considered self-defense? It would certainly be justified.
He was "dismissed" for lunch, finally and immediately returned to the hearing. Blevins was part of them. Mulder didn't know, couldn't know but at least he was suspicious now. Asking him to name Skinner to save himself had been a dumb move.
"I'm ready to proceed, please sir."
Fuck these testers, David concentrated. He had to let Mulder know that Skinner wasn't the spy.
"I will answer that question after I name the man who's responsible for Agent Scully! The same man who directed that my apartment be surveilled by the DoD. A man I want to see prosecuted for his crimes! Who's sitting in this very room as I speak!"
"Agent Mulder, the Section Chief asked you a question you are going to answer!" The senior agent was pounding on Mulder now.
"I can't do that."
"You can and you will!"
"I can't do that sir, because the Section Chief is the man I'm about to name!" Mulder sat back as pandemonium took over the room. Across town, the doctor quietly told Mom that her cancer seemed to be in remission. David, so tired he could barely move, smiled.
Author's note - Okay, I know this isn't completed up to where it needs to go full circle. But it has to go on the shelf for now. I am going into hiatus in order to get my novel - Rth Rising - ready for publication in March, 2012. Fanfic and these characters will always hold a special place in my heart and my mind - as will all of you who helped me learn the art of writing. I plan to visit them whenever I can. I'm not going to take my site down or remove anything from anywhere - it wouldn't be possible anyway <G> but new stuff is going to be nearly non-existent for awhile. Don't be surprised if you see some of my AU's fleshed out with names changed to protect the 'innocent', but remember you got to see them first! Thank you all so very much for everything.