Out of the mouth of babes...
SPOILERS: Season 9
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to FOX, CC, etc.
Notes: This part is another interlude of sorts, just a brief glimpse of a day in the life. But, bigger things are yet to come...
Special thanks to Mims for the beta.
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A soft leather ball hit Gibson in the side of the face.
Apparently, he wasn't paying enough attention to William.
"Gib-son," he corrected, setting the ball back on the floor and making a show of rolling it back to William.
Well, close enough for now, Gibson figured. He tried to focus on their game, but he was easily distracted by the voices across the room.
At the table that separated the kitchen from the living room in the small trailer, Scully and Susanne sat, once again discussing their scientific data. They had finally found a formula they thought could work. He didn't understand all the details about how the molecules bound together to counteract the chloramine, or how it would keep more Super Soldiers from being born. He was more interested in the next step in their plan: mass production and distribution.
"I just don't think we have the resources to make that much," Scully was saying. "Not with the money we need to construct and maintain the compound down at the ruins. Somehow, we have to make contacts on the outside and get the formula to those who have access. The guys know people like that, don't they?"
"Their subscribers?" Susanne asked. "Some of them may have the money and means, but I don't know how many would have the scientific knowledge."
Scully sighed and tossed her pen onto the table. "Times like this I wish we still had access to government resources. I could at least get some sort of a grant under the guise of doing other research."
"Maybe that's still a possibility. You don't need government connections to get a grant, especially if you can find private funding."
"And manage to stay under the radar? I don't think so, not in this place. Besides, grants require applications, and review committees, and we haven't got that kind of time. We need to do this now."
"We could consider branching out..." Susanne ventured.
"You mean leave here? You know Mulder wouldn't hear of it, and neither would John. They're convinced that the sky is falling and this is the safest place to be."
"You sound like you're not so convinced."
"I don't know." Scully got up from the table and walked over to the sink to refill her glass. "I'm used to taking action. I don't like waiting around for something to happen. I know we're planning for the long term, but I think history has taught us repeatedly that holing up in a fortress is not the best way to win an aggression. There's got to be a better way."
"Is that why you didn't want to go down there with them this morning?" Susanne was referring to the ruins. Joe Furhman had come for a visit, and Mulder and Byers, with the rest of the guys, were giving him a tour of what they had to work with and discussing construction plans.
Scully took a drink of water and leaned back against the counter. She was unsure how honest to be with Susanne. "I just don't know Joe as well as John and the others do. I'm sure he knows what he's doing, building a bunker and what have you." She decided not to say much more on the subject. "I just thought I could be of more use back here."
Susanne recognized Scully's hesitancy and chose to follow up on their earlier conversation instead. "You know, Joe has connections, even more than John and his friends do. I don't know everything about his background, but he inherited a good deal of money, and I've heard mention of an associate who hit it big in oil. That may be the kind of private funding we need."
Scully nodded, but she was eager to end the conversation. There were more details she wanted to discuss, but not until she'd talked it over with Mulder. "Are you getting hungry? It's after noon. I'm sure the guys will be back soon and ready for lunch."
"I just snacked not too long ago, but I'm sure I'll be hungry again when they get back. Eating for two, you know." She rubbed her belly, and the two women shared a smile.
"Well, I'm going to wash up these dishes first, or we'll be eating off of paper plates again."
"You want any help?"
"Thank you, but no. This kitchen's so small, you can't reach the cupboards while someone's standing at the sink, so I might as well just use the drying rack."
As their conversation died down, Gibson returned his full attention to William. The two of them had fallen into a rhythm that, for the time being, contented William: Gibson would stack a short pile of plastic blocks, and William would aim the ball to knock it down. Sometimes the collapse required a little extra help from Gibson, but William would hit the blocks at least one out of every three tries.
Gibson knew that Scully was uncertain about adding more people to their small community, especially Joe and whoever else he would bring along to build up their ruins into a livable compound. Gibson himself hadn't made up his mind yet. He didn't sense any deception from Joe, but the place seemed to get more crowded every month. Gibson had first come to the reservation to hide, and there was every reason to believe that he was still in danger. The more people who knew where he was, the more chance there was of the wrong person finding it out. But Mulder seemed to trust Joe, so Gibson hadn't said anything yet. But as long as Scully was uneasy with the situation, Gibson would be too.
"I wish we'd never left Bakersfield. I never imagined raising children in a place like this."
Pulled from his thoughts, Gibson looked over toward the kitchen. The two women were where he had last seen them: Susanne seated at the table, Scully standing by the sink. They were each engrossed in what they were doing. Susanne's comment hadn't been spoken aloud.
The cloth ball bounced off his chest, and Gibson turned back to the game.
"No, William--on the ground. Roll it, like this."
Gibson rolled the ball back and set about stacking the short wall of blocks. He focused intently on what his hands were doing and shut out anything besides himself and William.
Most of the time, Gibson could discern the voices, whether spoken or thought. But sometimes, with a really strong thought, or a voice that wasn't as familiar, he couldn't tell the difference right away. He didn't spend much time around Susanne, unless he was with the entire group, so he supposed that could be the reason. As long as he focused on tuning out his surroundings, he could block even the most unfamiliar voices.
William took a low toss at the blocks; the ball bounced once and cleared the short stack before landing in Gibson's lap. William giggled in delight. Gibson smiled and rolled the ball at the blocks, toppling the wall. William laughed even more.
"Ball." William reached out his hand, stretching toward the pile between them.
Gibson snatched up the ball. "Say please."
"Peas." William stretched further, flexing his fingers, ready to grab.
Gibson handed over the ball. "P-lease."
"Ball." William shook his hand in triumph, then launched the ball toward Gibson's chest again.
"If you hit something in here, your Mom's going to take the ball away. That's why we roll it."
Gibson rolled the ball back, but William's attention shifted to the front door. "Da-da-da."
Opening his mind to his surroundings again, Gibson noticed the footsteps on the stairs and heard the door open behind him.
Mulder was saying over his shoulder as he entered, "If they had their way, one of the rooms would be filled just with computers." Skinner followed, then Byers, who shut the door after him.
"Where's the rest of the gang?" Scully asked.
"They'll be along in a while," Mulder said as he made his way over to her.
"It's almost lunch time. We should figure out what we're making, if we're feeding everybody here."
Mulder came up behind her at the sink and wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing her on the cheek. "Great view of the knockers! Gotta love the height advantage."
Gibson didn't need a view of Mulder's lips to know that his comment hadn't been spoken out loud. Their months of living together in the trailer, back when it was just the two of them, had given him more than enough experience with Mulder's dirty mind.
Scully turned around in his arms; Mulder let go and pulled back a little. She handed him a dish towel. "Here. You can dry these and put them away while I see what we have to eat."
"I wonder if she ever told him," Skinner thought as he watched them from across the room. "But she looks so healthy. I hope to God she's all right."
Mulder's thoughts were still glued to Scully's chest. "I haven't seen her in a shirt that low cut since...since we've been here. Why now, all of a sudden?" Scully had already wandered off to the refrigerator, so she didn't see when Mulder turned and glared at Skinner.
Skinner was focused on Scully and took a moment to notice Mulder's attention. Skinner recognized the look coming his way. "Jealous much?" he thought. But he felt more amused than threatened.
Scully was running through a list of refrigerator contents. Mulder and Skinner started talking about generators, but they were both still thinking about Mulder's claim over Scully. Byers and Susanne were lost in their own conversation about how their mornings went.
Gibson turned back to William. "C'mon, kid. It's getting too crowded in here. Let's go play in the back." Gibson stood and grabbed a couple of toys from the pile they'd accumulated over the last hour.
Scully's Mommy Radar picked up, and she turned as William got to his feet. Gibson told her, "We're going back to the bedroom to play."
"It's almost time for lunch. He ought to be hungry soon. Let me give him some juice to take with you."
Byers and Susanne were discussing the groceries they needed to pick up on their way home, but Byers' mind was on whether she was completely past the morning sickness. Susanne was preoccupied with how unsettled she felt, planning out their family's future in a mountainside hideaway.
Mulder still chatted with Skinner but was watching the two boys. "Poor kid," he thought. Then he regretted it, because he knew Gibson could hear it. "Sorry, kiddo," he thought, directed toward Gibson.
"Here," Scully said, approaching William with a sippy cup. She knelt and handed it to him. "You be good for Gibson, okay? I'll have your lunch ready in just a little bit."
She kissed William on the cheek and stroked his hair, then smiled and stood. She was worried that he was always so quiet. She didn't think it was normal for a child his age.
Gibson took William's hand, and the toddler waddled down the hall by his side. In the bedroom, Gibson lifted William onto the bed and then shut the door before joining him.
"A lot quieter back here, don't you think?" Gibson asked.
William stuffed the sippy cup in his mouth with one hand and reached for a toy truck with the other.
"You're lucky, you know? Your parents are good people. They mean well, at least." Gibson picked up the ball they'd been playing with and tossed it between his hands. William suddenly lost interest in the truck and waved his hand toward the ball.
"They're better than most people," Gibson continued. "But they still don't think of me as a normal kid. I'm a commodity. An advantage over the enemy."
"Ball." William leaned forward, reaching for the ball, almost losing his balance in the process. Gibson handed over the ball before William tipped too far.
"It's not the same with you, though. They'd be different with their own kid. They wouldn't run the tests, or think of you as the answer to all their questions. But it would be easier if they didn't know." He picked up the truck that William had abandoned and absently ran it back and forth over the comforter. "You can never be normal if people know."
"Tuck." William dropped the ball and reached forward again.
"No, William. You have to learn how to talk out loud." Then Gibson realized the bad example he was setting. He opened his mouth and said, "Like this."
But William kept the sippy cup glued to his lips. "Tuck." He opened and closed his extended fist.
Gibson sighed and handed over the truck. Maybe they weren't going to make any progress today. "Soon, though," he said. "We have to teach you how to talk, before they figure it out."
"Tuck!" William thought, pleased with himself, while he slurped away the last of his juice. He rolled the truck toward Gibson and then away again.
There had been times when Gibson was younger that he would've given anything to meet another kid like himself, someone who understood. But now, he knew how selfish that was. He never wanted another kid to go through the things he'd experienced. Especially not William--the closest thing to a brother he'd ever had.
"They can never know," Gibson thought. William sensed the seriousness of what he said and stilled, watching with wide eyes.
"This has to be our secret."
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